Thursday, October 19, 2017

Building up our houses

I've often thought that one thing missing in modern life is older women passing down healthy social mores to younger women (what can you pass down when the social creed is "do whatever you will"?).

So I was pleased to see an example (via Dalrock) of a woman trying to pass on some good advice about marriage to other women. Her name is Heidi Stone, and I know little about her except that she appears to be an American Protestant Christian.

She begins by noting how many marriages are failing in her social circle. She then points out to her female readers that divorce often does not lead to a happy future relationship:
Remarriage for women, as we age, becomes less and less likely. Should we get started talking about the cost of child support? On both sides? What about how alimony can financially cripple either party’s ability to provide for a second family. It doesn’t happen or it takes too much of the paycheck.

Simply? It makes sense to just stay married. Especially for us, ladies. Especially for us.

That’s you and me, darlin’. You and me. We’ve already invested our perky selves, baby-making hips, and the “looks cute in a two-piece” years. We’ve given them to the man we wake up to and the children we make dinner for and unless we are careful, that investment might not pay off.

I know I want to reap the rewards of that investment.

I’ve earned those rewards. There is no way I want to jeopardize where I end up and how I live because I didn’t have the courage or willingness to pursue my marriage and family with integrity now. Before the hurricanes and menopausal tornadoes.

See, to be blunt, we don’t fare well in the re-marriage market as only 25% of women who are divorced in their 30’s-40’s actually remarry. Men will generally marry at a rate closer to 50% but, even then, they aren’t looking at our Match.Com profiles. They tend to marry women far younger than themselves the second time and, well, that rather gives a raspberry to both our aging marketability and our chances at second time marital bliss.

So only 25% of women who divorce in their 30s and 40s will remarry, and only 7% of single women aged over 50 will ever even cohabit again with a man:
The people most unlikely to find a partner and settle into a new long-term relationship are women aged over 50, with only 7 per cent moving in with a partner.

If a woman "invests" her youthful beauty and fertility in marriage, then she maximises her chances of being in a loving relationship with a man in her later decades (in the second half of her life). If this is ignored, then many people will live alone from middle-age. In trailblazing feminist Sweden 52% of households now consist of only one person:
Why, then, does Sweden stand out when it comes to the high number of single households? Trägårdh says that Sweden is a "radically individualistic" country with a social structure that enables people to live independently - that is, to avoid having to rely on one another.

"It has something to do both with values and with the types of institutions we have created in Sweden in more recent decades," explains Trägårdh.

"Individual autonomy has been important for a long time here, as well as the idea that relationships - even in family and love - should be voluntary. And our institutions guarantee the possibility for relationships to be voluntary, for individuals to make the decision to leave a relationship if they so wish."

The emphasis in Sweden is on the liberal aim of maximising individual autonomy by making it easy to dissolve marriages and to live independently of anyone else - but they have succeeded so well in this aim that a majority of households now have just one person (in comparison the percentage of single person households in nearby Poland is 24%, in Singapore it is 11% and in India 3.7%.)

The next part of Heidi Stone's advice is equally good. She asks women to think about the mistakes that wives sometimes make that bring down their own houses:
This is to the sisters who bulldoze their own security and future. Shingle by shingle. Tear by manipulating tear. Guilt trips by angry blaming.

Every day, systematically destroying their homes, one snark, one bitterness, one resentment at a time the foundation crumbles until there is nothing left to preserve. Nothing left to fight for or hold on to.

I don’t have to make a list, we are familiar with the usual suspects. Anger, resentment, bitterness, defensiveness, and arrogance. No one needs to be convinced those elements are at the heart of poor choices. Toxic to our warmth and hospitality.

But we justify. We excuse our failures. When we are at church thinly masking our dishonor of our spouse with a carefully worded prayer request or trying to explain our behavior to our friends… Maybe we spend too much time searching for a friendly ear when we believe we’ve been horribly “wronged”.

But there really is no limit to the depths of ugliness in the human heart. Have you thought about how disrespect and comparison, victimhood, and slander can pull down your house?

Men are brought up to think that failure or success depends on their own efforts, their character, their strength. But the fate of some marriages is decided not by the actions of the husband, but within the mind and soul of the wife. The marriage rests on her ability to manage her thoughts and emotions, so that she does not dwell on the negatives, or hold on to grievances, or seek to belittle, or slide between a sensitivity to being patronised and a feeling of superiority.

Is it not one task of a human culture to help women to inhabit the better part of themselves ("our warmth and hospitality") rather than the more destructive parts? Is it not important for men to take an interest in this, given that men seek emotional and physical intimacy with their wives but are unlikely to genuinely achieve this if women cannot overcome the kind of failures that Heidi Stone describes?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Can Catholics be loyal to both Pope Francis and the Church?

The Catholic traditionalist writer Bonald has found a disturbing quote from Pope Francis:
Dear friends, I cannot fail to express my concern about manifestations of intolerance, discrimination and xenophobia that have appeared in various parts of Europe. Often this reaction is motivated by mistrust and fear of the other, the foreigner, those who are different. I am even more worried about the disturbing fact that our Catholic communities in Europe are not exempt from these defensive and negative reactions, supposedly justified by a vague moral obligation to preserve an established religious and cultural identity. The Church has spread to all continents thanks to the “migration” of missionaries convinced of the universality of the saving message of Jesus Christ, meant for men and women of every culture. Throughout the history of the Church, there have been temptations to exclusivity and cultural rigidity, but the Holy Spirit has always helped overcome them by ensuring constant openness to others, viewed as a positive opportunity for growth and enrichment.

I have bolded the most extraordinary part. Pope Francis believes that there is no moral obligation to preserve a Catholic religious identity in Europe. He states this as the man entrusted to lead the Church. He believes it is a moral thing for Europe to become Islamic, as this shows openness to the other.

This puts ordinary Catholics in a difficult position. If they remain obedient to Pope Francis, they are gravely disloyal to the Church.

There are of course serious objections to the moral view of Pope Francis. First, it is uncannily similar to a secular liberal political philosophy. In liberal philosophy, there are no substantive goods. What matters instead is my own will and my own choices. However, for the system to work I have to accord to others a similar freedom to follow their own will and their own choices. Therefore, the moral thing in a liberal system is not to discriminate against others, to be tolerant, to be open, and to be nonjudgemental. If a liberal wants to signal his virtue he can do so by demonstrating that he is most open to the person most other to him, which most liberals today assume to be Muslims. Pope Francis is signalling virtue just as a liberal would, rather than as someone who believes that there are objective goods to uphold in life, as you would expect a Catholic to do.

The second objection relates to something else that Pope Francis has said on the issue:
The only continent that can bring about a certain unity to the world is Europe...China has perhaps a more ancient, deeper, culture. But only Europe has a vocation towards universality and service...We can speak today of an Arab invasion. It is a social fact...How many invasions Europe has known throughout its history! It has always known how to overcome itself, moving forward to find itself as if made greater by the exchange between cultures.

Bonald answers as follows:
Depending on how you read it, it is either insulting to the West or insulting to everyone else. What is this “vocation towards universality and service” that only Europe is burdened with? Why can’t Europe be happy as one people among many? Are our artistic heritage and distinct customs not as satisfying as those of others? Is it arrogance, that we can’t bear that any other people should excel in their own ways that we don’t? Either way, a “vocation towards universality” sounds like a spiritual defect. On the other hand, if it means a striving toward transcendence, toward objective truth, what would Francis be saying about other civilizations? That the Muslims and the Chinese hold to their beliefs and their morals not because they think them true and right, but just because they are theirs, as a means of collective self-assertion? But this is preposterous!

Unfortunately, the pope gives no justification for Europe’s unilateral “vocation towards service”. Why do we exist to serve other peoples rather than vice versa? Why does this “exchange between cultures” seem to go only one way?

I'd like to add something along similar lines. The Jesuits do often emphasise the idea of service. But if service is at the heart of a moral life, as per Jesuit beliefs, and only Europe has a vocation toward service, as per Pope Francis, then it is given to Europeans to be moral actors, whilst everyone else is there to be acted upon. This hardly seems to give everyone an equal human dignity.

Finally, the Pope's account of the moral purposes of man seems very thin, to the point that it seems more like an ideology than a sophisticated theology. To suggest that I have no particular loves, no identity, no cultural attachments, no personal duties, but only an abstract, universal duty to serve the other, treats me like a cipher, like a cellophane man, as if I were not gifted with any place or genuine personality of my own, as if I had no created nature of my own to develop and fulfil together with those I have the closest and most profound relationships with. I cannot believe that those who have been stripped down in this way really have the most to give to anyone either near or far. When we disembed people we usually disorder them and render them unfeeling to genuine and lasting loves and attachments. A certain plane of the human experience is lost to them and is difficult to recover. A theology should not have any such corrosive effect, it should aim to deepen rather than to detach. This is not achieved when a singular belief in service for the other is employed to scorch the ground beneath it, to clear a path for universality - which will not even be the universality of the Church but of some other tradition. A more sophisticated understanding is necessary to avoid this harm, one that does not begin and end with just one type of moral act as representing the sum of the good.

Monday, October 09, 2017

A photo for James Kalb

I saw the photo below and immediately thought of the American traditionalist James Kalb:

James Kalb could put this photo on the cover of his next book. It illustrates so well something that he often discusses, namely that liberalism reduces the good to desires or preferences but since "all desires are equally desires" they become equally valid. Hence this young woman not caring if her daughter is a princess, a doctor, a teacher or a slut - something that is absurd and yet to the liberal mind represents a moral position.

If you are interested in the ideas of James Kalb it is worth reading his essay "Out of the Antiworld" (see here). A relevant excerpt is his discussion of what follows from the rejection of an objective moral order:
The result is that nothing can be held to have a natural goal or reason for being, and the only meaning something can have for us is the meaning we give it. In such a setting, wanting to do something is what makes it worth doing, and the good can only be the satisfaction of preferences simply as such. Morality becomes an abstract system that has nothing substantive to say about how to live but only tells us to cooperate so we can all attain whatever our goals happen to be.

Given such a view, the uniquely rational approach to social order is to treat it as a soulless, technically rational arrangement for maximizing equal satisfaction of equally valid preferences. That principle claims to maximize effective freedom, but it narrowly limits what is permissible lest we interfere with the equal freedom of others or the efficient operation of the system. Private hobbies and indulgences are acceptable, since they leave other people alone. So are career, consumption, and expressions of support for the liberal order. What is not acceptable is any ideal of how people should understand their lives together that is at odds with the liberal one. Such ideals affect other people, if only by affecting the environment in which they live, and that makes them oppressive. If you praise the traditional family, you are creating an environment that disfavors some people and their goals, so you are acting as an oppressor.

The result is that the contemporary liberal state cannot allow people to take seriously the things they have always taken most seriously.

It is worth noting that the things this mother allows her daughter to be fit well into the limited framework suggested by James Kalb, namely career and private indulgences. The daughter is not really being liberated to all that our identity, our moral nature and our spiritual life have to offer. And even the relatively worthy aims of being a doctor or a teacher are sullied by being put on the same level as that of being a slut - one is thought to be as good as another.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

If we can change our sex, why can't we change our race?

The YouTube video below is from an English morning TV show. It shows an interview between the hosts, Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, and a German woman, Martina Big, who has begun taking medicines and undergoing surgery to transform herself into a black woman.

The hosts of the show have previously run interviews in which they supported primary school children making the decision to change sex. They claimed that people can be "gender fluid." This fits in with the liberal belief that what matters is that we self determine who we are rather than this being predetermined by qualities we are born into like our sex.

So you would think that the TV hosts would support Martina Big in wanting to be "race fluid" or transracial. It is difficult to see how what she is doing is any different in principle from those seeking to change their biological sex.

But in the interview Philip Schofield is clearly strongly opposed to what Martina Big is doing. He cannot find a liberal reason to oppose her, so instead comes up with a traditionalist one. At 4.15 he says to Martina Big, as a criticism of her:
But you understand that race and colour is much more than skin deep. It's heritage and pedigree and tradition and history and struggle. It's all of these things that you can't hope to get anywhere near with three tanning injections.

He expresses the thought very well. But it goes directly against the older liberal narrative. For decades Westerners have been told the exact opposite, that to identify with their race is wrong because race is only skin deep and therefore meaningless, with the accusation that those wanting to preserve their race are merely prejudiced.

What is happening here? There are several possibilities. First, that what Martina Big is doing is just too much for Philip Schofield to accept right now, but that he would change his mind later as the logic of liberalism rolls onward and public opinion changes. The second possibility is that blacks still have too much status as a "victim class" within the liberal world view for liberals to think that a white person might be allowed to access that identity (and escape from "oppressor" to "oppressed"). Another possibility is that Philip Schofield understands at some level the double standard that the leftist version of liberalism aims to dissolve white identity, but is not meant to undercut other identities in the same way - so that healthier traditional ideas can still be applied to the other races.

So the final question is this: is it likely that transracialism will be accepted in the future the way that transsexualism now is?

If white liberalism lasts for another 20 years then I think it will be accepted. After all, white women were once thought to be a high status victim class within the liberal worldview. But when it came to a showdown between feminists who wanted to keep the category of woman for biological women and transsexuals, the transsexuals won. Eventually, it is likely that those claiming to be transracial will be thought to have a higher political claim than those defending minority racial categories.

However, it doesn't look likely that white liberalism is going to survive the sea change in politics that is on the horizon. The changing demographics in the US is encouraging the radical left to base itself more squarely on the assertion of racial interests against the current white majority. The radical left has already started to demand that white liberals surrender to this new agenda. Many liberals will comply, perhaps some will break toward the right.

I'm not sure, in other words, if liberalism has that much more time to roll forward before it crashes into barriers it created for itself.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Frederick Hart

Frederick Hart was an American sculptor whose working life spanned the mid-1970s to the late 1990s. He appears to have been politically liberal in his youth, but nonetheless stands out as being a countercultural traditionalist in his art philosophy. He wrote:
I believe that art has a moral responsibility, that it must pursue something higher than itself. Art must be a part of life. It must exist in the domain of the common man. It must be an enriching, ennobling, and vital partner in the public pursuit of civilization. It should be a majestic presence in everyday life just as it was in the past.

Here are some of his sculptures:

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Swedish feminist supports polygamy

There were complaints in Sweden when a Muslim refugee brought his three wives to live with him and a house worth $2,000,000 (AUD) was bought by a local authority for them all to live in.

He found support though in a Swedish feminist who finds much to admire in polygamy:
The feminist artist and writer Ulla Lundegård cannot understand why it is so outrageous that Muslim men bring more wives when they come to Sweden.

"Why do we place so much emphasis on the fact that this man has three wives? And why are you talking with disgust that the municipality has to get an apartment for all of these? You also have the right to live, right?" asks the 65-year-old feminist.

She states that we must not let our "prejudices and established tradition-bound norms" stand in the way of how enriching it may actually be for a Muslim man to have a whole set of wives.

"The children have three mothers with different qualities and ages that can penetrate when needed. They can even share their love for the man and live in the same house! It's more than any of us can imagine."

The Muslim family constellation with several wives can in fact be much more exciting than the boring Swedish couple relationships:

"It may even be that they live a much more interesting life than many Swedish couples do after thirty years. Women may even have fellowship with each other," writes Ulla Lundegård.

Feminists have spent decades criticising the Western family as being an outmoded patriarchal institution, and yet Ulla Lundegård cannot speak highly enough of the Muslim institution, claiming that it is a much more interesting way of life than is found in the West, that it is based on the sharing of love and that it is mere prejudiced adherence to tradition to oppose it.

In many of her newspaper columns, Ulla Lundegård blames society's ills on the patriarchy and yet the Islamic version of marriage gets a free pass. Why?

I can only speculate about this. First, leftists often follow the idea that it is Western men who have created institutions to create an unearned privilege for themselves at the expense of others. If true, this would mean that non-Western institutions don't have the same kind of political guilt attached to them as Western ones.

Or, perhaps, it has to do with liberal morality. Liberals tend to believe that it doesn't matter what a person chooses to do morally, that the moral thing is a freedom to choose as we will. So in one sense liberal morality is libertine and transgressive. However, the liberal system does ultimately generate a moral code. If the point is that I can choose in any direction, as long as I don't restrict the right of others to similarly choose, then what matters morally is that I respect choice, am non-discriminatory, tolerant, open, inclusive and so on. Therefore, if I am a liberal and I want to virtue signal, I will want to show that I am the most open and inclusive to whoever is most "other" to myself - which in practice is often thought to be Muslim immigrants. Therefore in preferring a Muslim tradition to her own, Ulla Lundegård is signalling her virtue in terms of a liberal moral code.

(This helps to explain why liberals seem culturally suicidal. Why, for instance, would German liberals welcome millions of young Middle-Eastern men to their society when this will mean a transformation of Germany from a liberal society to a Muslim one? Perhaps one reason is the aspect of liberal morality I have just described, that it becomes virtuous in a liberal moral code to be most open toward the group most "other" to your own. To survive, liberals would have to go against their own morality - most would prefer to bow out "morally" rather than survive.)

Another possible explanation is that polygamy might have some appeal for Western feminists. A lot of these feminists will be entering old age minus any kind of relationship. Perhaps the thought that polygamy offers the opportunity of several women sharing a high status male might appeal to them (I doubt it would appeal as much though to the first wives of these men).

Finally, there is the liberal mindset that the choices that we make are not what matters, that choices are equally choices (as James Kalb puts the liberal view), that they are merely subjective preferences, so that the critical thing is not to have tradition or "prejudice" determining choice, but to throw it all up in the air. There is no sense here that some choices are more likely to lead to an integrated life, in which the social, biological/natural and spiritual aspects of reality are best harmonised, nor that tradition can represent, at its best, a collective working out over time of what is necessary for success in the lives of individuals and communities.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Breitbart confuses conservatism and liberalism

Breitbart is usually an interesting source of news and commentary for traditionalists. But the editors really got it wrong in their story about the life of Hugh Hefner. Titled "Why Conservatives Should Celebrate Hugh Hefner" the story begins as follows:
Hugh Hefner, legendary founder and editor-in-chief of Playboy, died Monday at the age of 91. He was an icon in liberal Hollywood, and a self-declared conservative foe. Yet there is much for conservatives to celebrate in his life.
He was the kind of person American conservatism seeks to enable — the self-made man; the radical, pajama-clad individual; the author of his own destiny. And he idealized women as women, in a way the left no longer allows.

This is a species of liberalism. Professor John Kekes defines liberalism this way:
...the true core of liberalism, the inner citadel for whose protection all the liberal battles are waged [is] autonomy … Autonomy is what the basic political principles of liberalism are intended to foster and protect.

And what do liberals mean by autonomy? According to Professor Raz,
A person is autonomous if he can become the author of his own life...Autonomy is an ideal of self-creation, or self-authorship

In the right liberal tradition, emphasis is put on the idea of autonomous individuals becoming self-made in the market. So Breitbart is pushing a right-liberal ideal when it praises Hefner for being "the self-made man; the radical, pajama-clad individual; the author of his own destiny."
A genuine conservatism/traditionalism doesn't look at it this way. We believe in objective standards of the good by which a man can be measured. So being "self-made" is not the important thing, nor is being the author of our own destiny, nor is being radically individualistic (you can be all these things, as Hefner was, by peddling porn - what is this supposed to prove?)

It is more important to ask about the character of a man, a character tested by a man's efforts to lead and support a family, by his loyalty to his tradition, by his industry and resilience, his foresight and judgement, his hospitality and conviviality, his courage in the face of adversity, by his piety/spirituality, his magnanimity and by a host of other virtues.

Friday, September 29, 2017

A bank redefines marriage

The corporate world is increasingly jumping on board liberal causes. Recently for instance the ANZ bank has come out in support of same sex marriage. The bank posted tweets in support of same sex marriage; after some criticisms in response to this they followed up with this tweet,:

I left this response:

Which led me to think about the nature of marriage. It seems to me that marriage is, in part, an anchoring institution. As you get older you become aware that the distinctions between men and women are not only a source of attraction, but also a source of difficulty in keeping relationships between men and women stable.

Men do need, at the deepest level, a physically and emotionally intimate relationship with a woman. However, this is not easily achieved. Even with the best intentions, there are any number of differences in the way that men and women perceive and process relationships that can bring about a failure to hold things together.

So why not then just accept a whole series of relationships throughout life? One reason is that we are given a period of time in our youth when our passions run high so that a bonding with another person might be well secured, leading to a stable companionship in later middle age and beyond.

This period of life doesn't last forever. If we don't take advantage of it to bond with one person, but instead experience repeated relationship failure, then relationships later in life become very difficult (for instance, after the age of 50 only 7% of single women will ever again cohabit with a man).

So marriage serves its purpose when it anchors our commitments in our youth, enabling a lifelong relationship between a man and a woman, in spite of the inevitable frictions that arise in joining together the male and the female.

Marriage is also an institution of transmission, and as such its anchoring role takes on added importance.

Through the institution of marriage, we transmit in a stable way a bloodline, a family heritage and history, property, and culture and values. It is how we reproduce ourselves across generations, it is how we honour our forebears, it is how we enact our instinct to impart something of ourselves to our children and grandchildren. Here too marriage is an anchoring institution, without which there can be no secure transmission across generations.

What all this means is that it is in the nature of marriage that commitments be stable and exclusive. Without this marriage loses its value and meaning as an institution.

Modern liberal societies have already significantly undermined the institution of marriage. Many people now see marriage only as an expression of love so that if love is no longer felt the marriage is readily dissolved. There is no longer an anchoring of the relationship.

Similarly if marriage is only an expression of love then it is not intended to carry on a family tradition in a stable way across generations. It need not be fruitful, it need not be grounded in a larger, meaningful enterprise that not only helps to bind the spouses together, but which also ties together their own identity and life purposes to the role of the marriage.

So the question then is do we uphold the deeper traditional understanding of marriage as an anchoring institution, and as an institution of transmission, if we include within it the marriage of two men or two women.

I believe the answer is no. Although it is true that some homosexual men and women have enduring relationships, in general the culture of homosexual relationships is not based on an exclusive anchoring of two people together. Male homosexuals often have open and promiscuous relationships, and polyamory is also common within a homosexual subculture. There is also a tendency for sex to be understood in purely hedonistic terms within the homosexual subculture.

This helps to explain why queer theorists are just as likely to talk about the need to subvert the norms of heterosexual marriage as they are to seek the right to be included within it.

If marriage is just about equal rights, specifically the right to marry anyone we love without any discrimination, then as a matter of logic we have to accept easy divorce, polyamory, as well as same-sex marriage. But marriage then becomes something radically different to its original meaning and purposes. It is not hard to see that this new understanding of marriage will leave many people adrift in life.

If anything, we need to go the other way and restore something of the original culture of marriage rather than continuing along the liberal modernist path.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A strange pathway to transsexualism

Helen Lewis of the left-wing magazine New Statesman wrote a story last year about why so many teenage girls don't want to identify as girls:
Among internet-literate teenagers, gender has become the primary way to challenge the mores of older generations. I know four journalists – London-based, middle class – whose children have announced that they do not consider themselves to be girls. It seems too many to be a coincidence.

Helen Lewis makes two main points in her story. First, she pushes the liberal idea that masculinity and femininity are arbitrary constructs that limit individuals and that should rightly be overthrown. However, she is concerned that young people challenging sex distinctions might think that they have to commit themselves to becoming transsexual.
We should welcome young people challenging gender, an arbitrary system that has acquired the status of immutable human nature

...But separating dissatisfaction with the social constraints of gender from body dysphoria is vital. Because we have smudged together the categories of “transsexual” and “transgender”, is every youngster who questions their gender – and, frankly, every youngster should, because gender is restrictive bollocks – getting the message that they must bind their breasts or tuck their penis?

Liberals are committed ideologically to the idea that sex distinctions are restrictive prisons. It stems from their underlying belief that individuals should be autonomously self created. Our sex is something we don't get to create for our self and therefore it is held negatively to be limiting to the individual.

If, however, you don't have the liberal starting point, you are more likely to see sex distinctions positively as an important aspect of identity, and as a pathway of self-development. The point is to try to perfect our sexed nature, rather than to liberate ourselves from it.

Helen Lewis goes on to make an interesting admission about her own attitude to her sex:
In the year to March 2015, the Tavistock in London – the only specialist gender clinic in the country for under-16s – saw 697 children. This year, it saw 1,419. The largest surge has been among girls aged 14 and over and it is this group I feel most personal affinity for, because, if I were growing up today, I would be among them. A few years ago, I found a textbook from my junior school, with three sentences that floored me: “My name is Helen. I am nine years old. I am skinny.” And the truth was, I was skinny. I had a bowl haircut and wore culottes. Then puberty hit and I piled on a few stone in a year. Taut pink skin turned to lumpen fat and mottled flesh. And everyone had an opinion about it. I was trapped inside a body that didn’t feel like mine any more.

Many of my school friends felt the same way. Some tried to escape through vomiting or starving. Others were part of that charmed cohort who became lissom, beautiful, golden; their parents felt a different sort of ­worry and they were treated to sermons about getting into strange men’s cars.

I won my body back by defacing it; at least, that’s how my parents saw it. An earring, then two. And another. Then piercings that no one could see: nursing each one like a wound or a child. Salvation through pain: a metal bar through cartilage that couldn’t be slept on for a month. A tattoo that hurt like hell. Pink hair, ebbing to orange in a shower that looked like Carrie. And finally – finally – a body that felt like me.

I tell my story not to belittle anyone else’s, or to imply that they have chosen the wrong path. If you cannot live in your body, then change it – and the world must help you to do that.

What she seems to be describing is that moment in time in our teenage years when we develop into our adult bodies and we become aware of where we stand in the dating pecking order (what is sometimes called our SMV).

Apparently she was a little on the chubby side and therefore she felt bad about her adult body and rejected it. She could not live in her body, not because nature really intended for her to be a boy, but because she did not rank herself amongst the most sexually attractive of women.

I'm not quite sure how to respond to this. It strikes me as an all or nothing attitude: either you are born perfect or else you reject your body and deface it so that you feel like it is your own. I can't help but feel that if she had cultivated what was beautiful within and without that she would have developed towards something much higher and greater than being just another pierced and tattooed young woman.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

AfD leader speech

I thought readers might be interested to hear a speech by one of the leaders of the Alternative for Germany party (AfD). I believe his name is Jörg Meuthen, a professor for political economy and finance. It is difficult to tell from his speech what his political philosophy is, but what is clear is his commitment to the future of the German people. It is a very positive development that someone as intelligent and well spoken as this man has joined the patriotic movement.

Toward the end of his speech he refers to a point of controversy within the AfD. Some members do not wish to form a coalition with the other parties, preferring to try and win a majority. Others believe that it is realpolitik to compromise in order to be part of a coalition. This is a tough dilemma for an outsider to comment on, but my own political instincts tell me that for the time being the party should stick with its clear message and continue to build its political support.

Monday, September 25, 2017

A step forward in Germany

The German election results have just come through. In an ideal world, Germans would have voted Angela Merkel out of office, given her commitment to open borders. That didn't happen, but her position has considerably weakened and the nationalist AfD has entered the German parliament and has become the third largest party. Here is a comparison of the results of this election with the last one:

As you can see, Merkel's share of the vote has dropped to below one third and the AfD broke through to win 95 seats in the Bundestag. Merkel will now be forced to govern via an unstable coalition.

The hope is that the AfD continues to build its influence over the next few years. Even if it does not get enough seats to form a government of its own, the more political ground it wins, the more pressure there is on the other parties to adapt their policies to try to appeal to AfD voters.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Trump is right on refugee reforms

For years I have advocated a new refugee system in which refugees would be resettled in those countries nearest to their home countries, not only geographically but in culture, religion and living standard. The resettlement would be financed through a fund paid into by the wealthier nations.

The advantages of such a system is that it would cut the numbers of those claiming to be refugees (as there would be no incentive for economic migrants to claim to be refugees) and it would also allow most easily for assimilation, both for the refugees themselves as well as the host nation.

Donald Trump gave a speech recently to the United Nations in which he advocated similar reforms:
We seek an approach to refugee resettlement that is designed to help these horribly treated people and which enables their eventual return to their home countries to be part of the rebuilding process. For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region.

Out of the goodness of our hearts, we offer financial assistance to hosting countries in the region and we support recent agreements of the G20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible. This is the safe, responsible, and humanitarian approach. For decades the United States has dealt with migration challenges here in the Western Hemisphere.

We have learned that over the long term, uncontrolled migration is deeply unfair to both the sending and the receiving countries. For the sending countries, it reduces domestic pressure to pursue needed political and economic reform and drains them of the human capital necessary to motivate and implement those reforms. For the receiving countries, the substantial costs of uncontrolled migration are born overwhelmingly by low-income citizens whose concerns are often ignored by both media and government.

Here is footage of President Trump addressing the U.N. on this issue:

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Why can't male sacrifice be acknowledged?

I was in a classroom with some senior students discussing the topic of relationships when I made the, to my mind, innocent comment that "men make sacrifices on behalf of their wife and children." It prompted a spontaneous, incredulous outcry from the girls "No, they don't!"

I tried to explain that a man spending most of his time and energy going out to work to provide for his family represented a sacrifice. My explanation didn't go down well. Some of the students just wanted to acknowledge female sacrifice. Others looked gloomy and upset and the word "sexism" was heard. I had clearly said something that I wasn't supposed to say.

So why can't we acknowledge male sacrifice on behalf of women and family?

One possible explanation is that it doesn't fit in with current liberal political beliefs. Liberals see society as made up of unique individuals in pursuit of their own self-interest or their own subjective goods. So perhaps if you are a young liberal woman who believes in the pursuit of your own individual goods, it is discomfiting to acknowledge that someone may be sacrificing on your behalf. Also, if liberals do act for a more universal good it is for a certain liberal understanding of "equality," but the liberal assumption is that if inequality exists it is because men get to choose to do what they want at the expense of others. So the idea of male sacrifice doesn't fit well with this liberal outlook.

But I don't think that these aspects of liberal politics really explain the situation. I personally have heard a woman say that male efforts at work to provide for a family count for nothing "because that is just what men are supposed to do."

And I am not the only one who has come across this attitude. Rollo Tomassi has written a post titled "Appreciation" which includes the following:
I think what most men uniquely deceive themselves of is that they will ultimately be appreciated by women for their sacrifices. Learn this now, you won't. You can’t be because women fundamentally lack the ability to fully realize, much less appreciate the sacrifices a man makes to facilitate her reality. Even the most enlightened, appreciative woman you know still operates in a feminine-centric reality. Men making the personal sacrifices necessary to honor, respect and love her are commonplace. You’re supposed to do those things. You sacrificed your ambitions and potential to provide her with a better life? You were supposed to. You resisted temptation and didn’t cheat on your wife with the hot secretary who was DTF and ready to go? You were supposed to. Your responsibilities to maintaining a marriage, a home, your family, etc. are common – they’re expected. They are only appreciated in their absence.

This is the totality of the feminine-centric reality. Men only exist to facilitate the feminine reality, and any man who disputes this (or even analyzes its aspects) is therefore not a ‘man’. It just IS.

I should note that Rollo Tomassi begins his post by describing what a good marriage looks like - he is no more anti-marriage than I am. But I think he is correct not only in his observation about the difficulty women have in appreciating male sacrifice, but also in his explanation of why this exists - that it relates to women's ingrained expectation that men exist to "facilitate feminine reality" - i.e. the "feminine imperative" is so strong that women unthinkingly see men as existing to uphold feminine reality (and if they do not, or if they even question it, they are simply not "real men").

If this is so it is ultimately damaging. It is demoralising to men to think that none of their efforts will ever truly be appreciated, that their sacrifices count for nothing in the minds of women.

So what is to be done? I'm not sure to be honest, but I can throw out some ideas.

First, there is the alpha option. Women do go for the kind of man who has the drive to pursue things on his own terms and who draws others into his slipstream (I think the expression is that he invites a woman along for the ride). It is possible, in other words, for men to have a change in mindset, in which they develop their own masculine powers and virtues, as an accomplishment that has its own rewards and its own meaning in terms of a life telos, with the appeal of this to women being more of a follow-on outcome.

Second, the feminine imperative doesn't have to be as strong in society as it has become. There were once institutions that weren't dedicated to this imperative to the degree they now are. There were also clubs and fraternal organisations for men - male spaces - so that the role that the feminine imperative dictates for men wasn't necessarily as total as it is today.

If I could order society better, I would not tie up men's lives in the service of women as much as they are now. Realistically, the breadwinning role would still take up most of men's time and energy. But we could aim to free up as much time as possible for men to undertake a more public oriented role, alongside other men, designed to allow men to develop intellectually, spiritually and creatively, and to enjoy the esprit de corps, the fellowship, that comes from working alongside other men to contribute to the wider community and culture.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The feminist art of victimhood

Kasey Edwards is a Melbourne feminist who has published yet another newspaper column complaining about the pay gap between men and women. She blames the focus on merit for the gap:

Her column is written in the usual spirit of grievance that seems to animate all of her output. Ordinarily I would take the trouble to carefully answer her claims about the "injustice" of female pay and if readers are interested they can click on the labels beneath the post or else read a brief statement on the issue here.

But in this case there is a better way to answer Kasey Edwards' claims. Back in 2009 Kasey Edwards had a book published titled Thirty Something & Over It. In the book she details how privileged she was when it came to her pay:
In my second year in the workforce, I was earning as much as my mother, who is a schoolteacher. In my fourth year, I was earning more than my parents combined. My dad is a teacher-in-charge of a school. People raise whole families on what I get as a bonus payment....

And what did she do with all this money? Did she use it to support a family of her own? Well, no:
I eat out all the time. It isn't unusual for me to eat out all three meals in a day...I've stopped looking at the prices on the menu, too...Each year, Emma and I go on a tropical holiday friends are just the same. I recently went shopping with a friend who bought five handbags on impulse, which came to a grand total of $4000.

So what happened? Kasey Edwards felt unfulfilled in corporate life and wanted to do something more creative, so she opted out of the "fast track". She was curious as to why the women she knew shared her dissatisfaction but the men seemed to cheerfully soldier on. So she asked a male colleague about it:
I decide to speak to one of my male friends and colleagues to get his perspective on whether men are over it too. Jame is also a management consultant, working in the IT industry. He's driven, enthusiastic and committed. I envy the way he seems to wholeheartedly throw himself ito work. He seems to care about it and enjoy it. I want to know his secret.

Over a glass of wine, I casually enquire, "Jamie, do you ever feel like you don't want to work anymore?" He looks at me bemused and, to my complete surprise, says, "All the time, mate."

He says he only works because he has to pay the mortgage and support his family. He doesn't get the same buzz from climbing the corporate ladder that he did in his twenties, but he views working as a necessary part of life and therefore has resolved to make the best of it. There is no point in me moaning about having to go to work and making it miserable for myself and the people around me," he says. "So I make the most of it while I'm there, and get fulfilment from other aspects of my life."

The difference between Jamie and me, and many of the women I've spoken to, is that Jamie seems resigned to his fate of corporate drudgery and is just getting on with it. On the other hand, my sisters and I are not so willing to accept unfulfilling work as our lot in life. We are resisting it, resenting it and dreaming about alternatives."

Kasey Edwards knows why male earnings eventually outpace those of women. It is a perfectly just reason. Nor is it one that disadvantages women - Jamie's wife and daughters, after all, are the beneficiaries of his willingness to submit to the breadwinning role.

But Kasey, no matter what privileges come her way, is determined to play the role of victim, her creative output made grey with resentment.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

No good but self-interest?

My original post on white nationalism has led to a discussion of fundamentals. I made the point that white nationalists often see politics as an expression of racial self-interest. I suggested instead that traditional ethnic nationalism could be better upheld on the basis of arguments about the nature of man and the nature of the good.

I wrote a follow up post trying to clarify the point I was making, to which a reader responded as follows:
The notion that values can transcend people and be defended in a disembodied form sound pretentious to me, and Platonist. There is no dichotomy between self/collective interests and what is considered 'good'. i.e. throughout human history, the 'good' has been constantly redefined to advance self/collective interests. This is just reality stripped of all self-serving pretensions, such as 'transcendent values', 'the good', etc.

I found this thought provoking and replied to it in the comments thread. But I'd like to add some further thoughts. The first is that if there is no definable good in life, then how can there be a self-interest? The term "self-interest" implies that there is some good in life that it is in our interest to obtain for ourselves. But if we refuse to recognise that such a good exists, then how do we make sense of the idea of self-interest?

This is something of a problem for various versions of liberalism. Liberals want people to pursue rational ends, but what can they be if there are no objective goods in life? Sometimes liberals resort to vague, nice sounding formulations like "human flourishing" as an ultimate, rational end. Classical liberals usually go for more tangible, material and quantifiable ends, such as property and physical security. At the collective level, the rational ends are thought, similarly, to be GDP growth, infrastructure and diplomatic power. This, though, represents a radical narrowing of the "rational ends" of life.

Marxism has a similar issue. Marx too thought, like my reader, that "the good has been constantly redefined to advance self/collective interests." He claimed for instance that in a capitalist society there was a bourgeois morality which advanced the interests of the bourgeoisie at the expense of the proletariat. The idea then is that the proletariat revolts and asserts its own class interests under the dictatorship of the proletariat. But from there the point is to remove all possible sources of "other" morality. So there is a withering away of the state (no government). No more nations. No families. Just the individual no longer subject to any sort of "false morality" by which individuals might serve the interests of others.

But what then? How does the individual live rationally absent an objective good in life but without some other interest imposed upon him? It's perhaps no accident that Marx famously wrote little about this, though he did suggest that individuals would choose to engage in a variety of activities as they had a mind to do.

To get back to my original point, talking about self-interest usually presupposes some sort of good that it is in our interest to secure. So things become difficult if the idea of objective goods is denied. What then might the vision of "morality as self-interest" be?

Some might perhaps think it acceptable if the "good" was a basic, biological one, such as the instinct to self-preservation, i.e. to "life" whether of the individual or the race. Others might not name a specific good, but see things in terms of a contest of "who predominates," i.e. of who has the power to enact their will, whatever it might be (the left often seems to assume this kind of motivation, and it is embedded in leftist identity politics).

The traditionalist view is, in comparison, rich in goods. My reader is concerned, though, that "The notion that values can transcend people and be defended in a disembodied form sound pretentious to me, and Platonist".

I think it true of religious traditionalists that we do have a sense that the goods that we perceive have a meaningful, spiritual or sacred character - they are "transcendent" in this higher sense.

But I don't see why goods cannot be asserted in a more mundane way. If, for instance, you have ever observed the way a mother gazes on her newborn, and the response of the infant to her, then it is difficult to deny that this kind of mother love is a good in life. It can be asserted as a good strictly on its own terms, i.e. that it is inherently good as an act that has beauty and love embedded within it. It can also be asserted as a good in consequentialist terms, as being significant to the psychological development of the child.

And nations? You do not need Platonic forms to assert that traditional ethnic nations provide a deeper sense of belonging and identity for individuals, that they motivate social commitments, that they provide diverse and unique expressions of humanity, and that they connect people closely to a particular tradition, landscape, history and culture - to the point that they inspire the love and loyalty of those born into them.

I would argue, too, that the human mind is able to grasp abstract moral qualities, such as honesty, or courage, or nobility. We can talk about these intelligently because we know the quality being referred to and we recognise these as moral qualities regardless of whether they serve our interests or not.