Thursday, August 09, 2018

A Jeongian analysis

Most readers will know the story of Sarah Jeong. She was hired by the New York Times despite a string of social media posts attacking whites.

The episode prompted Reihan Salam, who is of Bangladeshi ancestry, to write a column in The Atlantic about the prevalence of anti-white sentiment in the social circles he moves in. He writes:
What I want to do, though, is look beyond the particulars of Jeong’s remarks to better understand why anti-white rhetoric is, in some communities, so commonplace as to be banal.

He believes that some of the white bashing is due to "intra-white status jockeying":
The people I’ve heard archly denounce whites have for the most part been upwardly-mobile people who’ve proven pretty adept at navigating elite, predominantly white spaces. A lot of them have been whites who pride themselves on their diverse social circles and their enlightened views, and who indulge in their own half-ironic white-bashing to underscore that it is their achieved identity as intelligent, worldly people that counts most, not their ascribed identity as being of recognizably European descent.

I think there is some truth to this observation that social status signalling is at play. I work alongside middle-class white women who get a little excited at times when there is an opportunity to denounce white men. These are women who marry or date white men, who have white sons and who are most comfortable in a middle-class white milieu. So, in their case at least, it is not driven by personal hatred, but by some sort of status signalling (which is obvious at times, as when they contrast their own views with that of some distant, and less "enlightened," white relative).

Note that Reihan Salam connects this attitude to an underlying liberal idea, namely that our identity is not supposed to be ascribed (given to us), but self-determined (individually achieved). In other words, the liberal elite is finding ways to signal their rejection of a given (white) identity, including a sense of pride or status derived from the achievements of whites as a group, in favour of what they believe they have achieved on their own.

(This brings to mind the emphasis placed by Jordan Peterson on the idea that there should be no pride or status found within a group identity and that only a pride in individual achievement is to be permitted. He shares this view with the liberal elite. I would urge him to consider the benefit to society if the elite derived a sense of pride and status from both their own achievements and that of the larger tradition they belong to. The elite would then have a more positive regard for their own tradition and a greater sense of sharing a common fate with their compatriots.)

Reihan Salam goes on to consider why upwardly-mobile Asians might be drawn to anti-white speech. This part of his column is, in my opinion, a tour de force. He begins by observing that anti-white rhetoric can help Asian Americans advance in their careers as it draws the support of liberal whites in the elite:
But many of the white-bashers of my acquaintance have been highly-educated and affluent Asian American professionals. So why do they do it? What work is this usually (though not always) gentle and irony-steeped white-bashing actually performing?

...In some instances, white-bashing can actually serve as a means of ascent, especially for Asian Americans. Embracing the culture of upper-white self-flagellation can spur avowedly enlightened whites to eagerly cheer on their Asian American comrades who show (abstract, faceless, numberless) lower-white people what for. 

He explains in some detail how an Asian American who aspires to become an elite insider needs to "crack the code" of liberal-think on "racial justice" issues. He also explains how anti-white rhetoric helps to ease the "burden of representativeness" for elite Asian Americans. What he means is that there is a tension in being part of a privileged elite whilst standing in for a supposedly disadvantaged minority group:
Because you are present in elite spaces, your authenticity will often be called into question. So white-bashing becomes a form of assuaging internal and external doubts, affirming that despite ascending into the elite, you are not entirely of it.

It's an intelligent attempt to analyse the purposes served by anti-white speech and it's worth carefully reading through the original article.

A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The best citizens?

If you are a right-liberal, there is a certain logic by which you might come to see immigrants as being the best citizens. The logic goes like this:

1. Liberals believe that the highest good is for individuals to be autonomous, in the sense of being self-determined or self-created.

2. Therefore, it is bad to simply inherit an identity, as this is something that is predetermined.

3. Immigrants make a self-conscious effort to become citizens, rather than being born as such. Therefore, they are better exemplars of individual autonomy than the native born.

Also,

4. For right-liberals, the most important way to self-create is to be a self-made man in the market.

5. Therefore, those who follow market incentives (higher wages/income) by crossing national borders are showing the highest commitment to what right-liberals see as the primary good in life.

Consider this when reading the following exchange, which begins with a tweet by Eliot A. Cohen, a prominent American neoconservative who served in the Bush administration:



One of Cohen's followers added this:



The responses from those not committed to right-liberalism were good. Someone posted the following graph:



The results are not surprising. If you came to the U.S. to further your economic interests, then you'll be more likely to identify with an open, globalised economy than with a culturally particular national tradition that your forebears did not found.

Someone also made this observation:



And this:



One final point. The most full-blown expression of the right-liberal view I have ever read came from Tony Abbott, once the Liberal Party PM of Australia. Back in 2013 he wrote these lines:
People who have come to this country from many parts of Asia; who have come, worked hard, prospered, succeeded and become first class Australians – that is the face and the name of modern Australia...

I want to say how brave every single migrant to this country is, because every single one of you has done something that those who are native born have never done. You have been gutsy enough to take your future in your hands and to go to a country which is not yours and make it your own. Modern Australia is absolutely unimaginable without migration and migration...has added a heroic dimension to our national life...

...I particularly respect and value the hard work and the skills that everyone brings to this country when they come to do a job from day one - in particular, those who come to this country as skilled migrants...they might come as temporary migrants originally, but they make the very best Australian citizens eventually. They are the most worthy, the most welcome parts of the Australian family...

Abbott makes the logic of right-liberalism sound flowery and emotional, but the bottom line is that it diminishes the native population in favour of recent economic immigrants. The economic migrants are cast as "the very best Australian citizens...the most worthy."

So right-liberalism has a built-in logic that pushes toward the valorisation of economic migrants. It is not, therefore, a political ideology that is likely to uphold the native culture and identity of a country. It isn't the solution for those who are concerned by the effects of open borders on local cultures - it is not just the left at fault here.

(Hat tip: reader Tim)

A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Falafel & circuses

Way back in 1828, an Englishwoman by the name of Eliza Fenton sailed from India to Australia. She travelled on an Arab ship, the Hamoud Shaw. Her description of the crew is very interesting. She thought the captain, Ben Hassan, "a fine looking man," but she was less complimentary toward the chief mate:
He [the captain] has one European on board who holds the office of chief mate. He makes me quite melancholy. He is English by name and complexion, but his tastes, manners, and his scruples, not to say his religion, are Arab.

He is the son of a Scotch clergyman, but for many years has been leading his present life, trading between Muscat and Mozambique. Muscat is, in his imagination, what Paris is to a Frenchman.

His taste seems to lie in laying bare the unsightly movements of the human heart and crushing its better feelings, or dwelling on them with bitterness and ridicule.

His converse turns on murders, executions, shipwrecks, his reading is the works of Voltaire and Paine, of which he has just read enough to unsettle his own belief.

Poor fellow! though it always make me nervous to hear him speak, I pity him too; he may not always have been what he now is; has he been made this [way] by disappointment or alienation from the humanising relationships of life?

She then describes a Greek member of the crew and writes something prophetic:
The crew are a mixture of Bengalees, Arabs, and negro slaves. Among this crowd there is, - Oh! sad to write it, - a Greek, a native of Athens, a Moslem now by adopted faith and practice.

Little reckons he of past time; Marathon is no more to him than Mozambique. He would rather have a curry than all the fame of his ancestors.

"He would rather have a curry than all the fame of his ancestors". This could describe a whole lot of Western liberals who often justify open borders on the grounds of ethnic cuisine.

I was reminded of this today by the response to Lauren Southern's attempts to walk to the mosque in Lakemba, a suburb of Sydney with a majority Muslim population. Lauren was stopped by several officers of the NSW police force, who informed her that it would be illegal for her to walk to the mosque.

In doing so, Lauren Southern demonstrated that there were no go areas for her in Australia. This did not seem to be the most significant point about the incident to some on the left. They were more concerned by kebabs:


The mainstream media journalist covering the story was also thinking with her stomach:


She is happy to trade a falafel for her country, demographic transformation for a Middle-Eastern wrap. In her mind, it's a great deal.

I know what Eliza Fenton's reaction would have been. She would have seen it as the response of those who were, for some reason, emotionally alienated from the normal feeling of connectedness to their own tradition.

And Lauren Southern? Her rejoinder was droll:



It has to be said, that the "muh cuisine" defence of open borders does fit to some degree with the "bread and circuses" concept that was known to the Romans:



The difference, I suppose, is that it is not the common people who are being appeased by superficial things, but a section of the intelligentsia. They are the ones who are neglecting wider and more significant concerns because of the allure of food/cuisine.

A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

In defence of identity

It's not easy to categorise Jordan Peterson. He calls himself a "classic British liberal" but he's not entirely like the "free market, individual liberty and limited government" right-liberals who have dominated the establishment centre-right parties.

For one thing, he is not a materialist in his philosophy and nor does he believe that self-interest or the pursuit of happiness are adequate ideals in life. He accepts the reality of differences between the sexes. He takes the idea of life as a moral project very seriously.

Even so, he has kept the strongly individualistic outlook that is typical of classical liberalism. He frequently criticises the idea that we might take pride in the achievements of the group we belong to; he believes that we may only have pride in individual accomplishments. As an example:



And he also approved of this graphic in which individualism is pitted against all forms of collectivism, including nationalism:



He even claims that the very "rightness" of the West is its commitment to individualism rather than to group identity:
Your group identity is not your cardinal feature. That’s the great discovery of the west. That’s why the west is right. And I mean that unconditionally. The west is the only place in the world that has ever figured out that the individual is sovereign. And that’s an impossible thing to figure out. It’s amazing that we managed it. And it’s the key to everything that we’ve ever done right.

This, I believe, is the tragic error made by Western thinkers. It is false to believe that you either support the individual or the group. The individual thrives within certain natural forms of community, such as family, ethny and nation. So if you support the individual, you should then also be committed to upholding the integrity of natural community as well.

In other words, we consummate our individual lives within natural forms of community. When we are forced to attempt a solo development, we truncate who we are as individuals.

Group identity

For Jordan Peterson, group identity stands in opposition to the individual. I'd like to respond with a brief defence of the importance of group identity to the individual and to society.

The question really is this: why should I not simply identify with myself and my own accomplishments? Why should I identify as well with my own particular tradition, whether of family, ethny, nation, race or civilisation, and take pride in its achievements?

The answer to this is interwoven, but we can draw out some of the threads as follows.

First, a group identity connects the individual deeply to a particular people, culture and place. Instead of existing in life as a kind of tourist, watching from the outside, uninvested in any particular tradition, my identity grants me a sense of connectedness, so that I feel rooted to where I live and to the community I live in.

As a by-product of this, I will feel a sense of belonging, a condition that we as humans naturally seek, to be part of something meaningful, that has a significant common purpose attached to it, and that helps to enrich, and give a particular flavour to, the sense of who we are.

My identity will then strengthen my commitment to the community I am part of. I will be more likely to commit to building a family and to raising children to successful adulthood. I will be concerned to uphold a healthy culture of relationships and family life. I will want to pass on my heritage to my children, and will therefore retell the folk culture and give patronage to the fine arts. I will have a stronger motivation to conserve the places of natural beauty, and the significant landscapes, that I am not merely visiting, but am a custodian of.

A group identity encourages me to build on the best of my own tradition, preserving it for future generations. It connects me across time, to generations past, present and future. It helps to hold a community to a moral standard, so that one generation is not thought to fail their forebears, or to lower the regard in which a community holds itself.

A group identity is the only way to guarantee, in the longer term, cultural diversity. There is not only a significant benefit in feeling connected to your own culture, but also in experiencing other living, breathing national or ethnic cultures. If we may only have an individual identity, and therefore if we logically become interchangeable within a global network, then over time there will emerge a single global, commercial culture, in which one modern city will closely resemble another, no matter where it is.

Nor is it realistic to imagine that our achievements are ours alone. Everyone is influenced either positively or negatively by the culture they inhabit, and this culture is the product of the choices of countless people over time. We rely on others to grow our food, or to police crime, or to sweep the streets. Even our mental capacities are the product of choices made by countless generations before us. As positive as it may be to take personal responsibility for our life outcomes, we have to integrate this with the truth that we stand on the shoulders of others, and that what a community achieves together, or fails to achieve, will have an impact on individuals into the future.

The idea that we may only take pride in individual achievement undermines a community by rendering as less purposeful the necessary, but unheralded, work that most people perform as part of their daily routine. Not everyone can be a professor, or a composer, or an actor and stand out for their individual achievements. This isn't laziness - it is simply inevitable that most people's labours will not attract public attention. It makes more sense to think that there is "a community at work, striving to do each role well" and then for that community to celebrate together, and have pride in, those individuals who emerge publicly for their achievements in pursuits such as sport, or science or the arts.

(This arguments goes a step further. When there is a close sense of community, there is a pride in communal achievements, such as the beauty of the towns, or the prosperity of industries, or the elegance of the women or the toughness of the men. There is a pride in what the community has achieved together.)

Group identity has another advantage in that it creates bonds of loyalty and support within a community, which then provides for individual security. If you know that you live among people with a shared identity, then you are more likely to have a freedom of movement, secure property rights, freedom of speech and access to employment. To take a clear example, white South Africans are currently facing land expropriation, are subject to high rates of crime, are discriminated against in employment, and cannot move freely at night but must barricade their homes. They are less well off as individuals than, say, Japanese who enjoy security among their own group within their own homeland.

Finally, group identity helps to hold together distinct communities, which then become unique expressions of the human spirit, to the point that there is an inherent good to their existence, a good that draws out a particular kind of love (love of country) that helps to complete and to nourish the human soul. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said something along these lines in his famous Harvard University address:
The disappearance of nations would impoverish us no less than if all peoples were made alike, with one character, one face. Nations are the wealth of mankind, they are its generalized personalities: the smallest of them has its own particular colors, and embodies a particular facet of God's design.

A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

More trad women

The trad women phenomenon on Twitter continues to grow. A small sample:







This is a return to a cultivation of virtue for women. It seems to follow a certain process:

1. An aim of being a good wife and mother.

2. A recognition that there are aspects of female nature that need to be overcome to secure this aim.

3. A commitment to actively practise more positive behaviours.

This is one necessary part of the way a society solves its problems, is it not?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Plastic and interchangeable?

Bria was born in Canada as a man but identifies as a woman. To an extraordinary degree:



We are supposed to believe that someone who is biologically male can have periods. Bria, it must be said, is smart enough to attempt to philosophically justify all this. It makes for interesting reading:



The argument is that there are no essential differences between men and women; that the human body is "plastic" and therefore able to be deliberately manipulated into something else; and that given the lack of essential differences, we are fundamentally the same and therefore there can be no "other".

Bria adds some further detail to the argument:



According to Bria we are nothing more than "chemical powered meat robots". The effort to find a secure basis for human dignity within liberal modernity flounders here. It would seem difficult, too, to find within a nature in which all creatures are chemically powered meat robots, anything resembling "natural law" or any principles of ordering oneself or society that would bring a definite telos (purposes or ends) to human life.

If the human body really is so plastic, and we really are as men and women easily interchangeable, so that there is no "other" sex, then it is difficult to take seriously Bria's own new identity as a woman. Bria's chemical robot settings have been changed a bit, that's all. The identity of "woman" would no longer mean very much, or have much wider significance. It would not connect identity to anything deeper than a mere chemical substance. It would not connect identity fundamentally to our core self, nor the self to a definite physical embodiment, nor the self to a discernible essence (the masculine, the feminine) with its own characteristic and meaningful qualities.

If you think of our sex as part of the essence of who we are, and as embedded within our DNA, then our best option is to order ourselves toward it, particularly toward what is best within it. Bria's counterclaim that we are meat robots, plastic and interchangeable, disconnects our sex from whatever stable aspects of the self remain. In this sense, it is self-defeating.

A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Bishop Schneider: mass migration a plan to undermine identity

Bishop Athanasius Schneider has an interesting family history. His forebears were Black Sea Germans, invited by Catherine the Great to that part of the Russian Empire. However, during the Communist era, the Black Sea Germans were persecuted. Schneider's parents were sent away to a gulag (forced labour camp); years later they finally returned to West Germany - the logical place to resettle given their German ethnicity.

He was interviewed this week on a variety of issues and this is what he had to say about immigration:
CWR: Having moved around so extensively as a child – you were born in Kyrgyzstan, then moved to Estonia, then Germany, and joined your order in Austria – what are your thoughts on the whole idea of immigration, whether in Europe or the United States, or in general?

Bishop Schneider: We have to distinguish between different types of immigrations. I was a migrant, with my family, because we were persecuted and deported. When people are really persecuted, you need to help them. But as for the phenomenon of the European so-called immigration, it is clear and evident by what we can observe, that this is an orchestrated action of the international powerful political organizations. It is the aim, the clear aim, to take away from Europe its Christian and its national identity. It is meant to dilute the Christian and the national character of Europe. The majority of the so-called migrants are Muslims, so there is going on also an Islamisation of Europe.

Of course, these people are not guilty, but they are used as means by powerful organizations. This we cannot accept. We have to state that it is not just to destroy the Christian and national identity of Europe by means of this artificial immigration. International political powers stimulated and fostered the war in Syria in order to have some occasions to start the great immigration process. The immigration from Africa via the Mediterranean Sea is as well artificially created – they put the people in ships and boats, and create then situations of shipwrecking. It’s already very evident. We cannot as a Church be instrumentalized in the process of the destruction of the Christian and national identity of Europe.

It is refreshing that the Bishop takes seriously the importance of preserving the character and identity of Europe and that he recognises that immigration is being used as a political tool by powerful elites.

In another interview Bishop Schneider added the following:
Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan, 57, told an interviewer from Milan’s Il Giornale last week that “the phenomenon of so-called “immigration” represents an orchestrated and long-prepared plan by international powers to radically change the Christian and national identities of the European peoples.”

The Church, he said, was being exploited.

“These powers use the Church's enormous moral potential and her structures to more effectively achieve their anti-Christian and anti-European goal,” he stated.

“To this end they are abusing the true concept of humanism and even the Christian commandment of charity. "

Asked to comment on Italy’s new and very outspokenly Euro-skeptic Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, the bishop said that he did not know Italy’s political situation well, but that he applauded any European government’s attempt to emphasize their nation’s sovereignty and “historical, cultural, and Christian identity” against “a kind of new Soviet Union” with “an unmistakably Masonic ideology”: the European Union.

A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.

Monday, July 02, 2018

What are the first principles of modern society?

Rulings by supreme courts are useful things. Not because they demonstrate great wisdom or knowledge, but because they require the first principles on which a society is based to be openly stated.

Such was the case when the Iowa Supreme Court made its ruling on a proposed law which would require women to wait 72 hours before having an abortion. The court blocked the proposal on the following basis:
"Autonomy and dominion over one's body go to the very heart of what it means to be free," the justices wrote. "At stake in this case is the right to shape, for oneself, without unwarranted governmental intrusion, one's own identity, destiny, and place in the world. Nothing could be more fundamental to the notion of liberty."

There you have it. The first principle of a liberal state is "liberty" but understood in a very particular way, namely as an individual autonomy by which we can "shape, for oneself...one's own identify, destiny and place in the world."

I have explained many times before why this is such a negative and "dissolving" concept of liberty. It means, logically, that only the things that we self-determine are legitimate. The predetermined aspects of life, which we do not shape for ourselves, come to be thought of as "prisons" from which the individual has to be liberated.

But there is much that we do not determine for ourselves. We do not determine, for instance, our race and ethnicity or our sex. And yet these are significant aspects of identity and community. In a liberal society, though, they must be made not to matter, because they conflict with the liberal definition of liberty as a state of individual autonomy, in which what matters is a freedom to self-define and self-create.

It's interesting, too, that the supreme court justices use the phrase "dominion over one's body". Patrick Deneen, in his excellent book Why Liberalism Failed, writes about the shift in the early modern period in the understanding of man's relation to nature. Instead of being embedded in nature, the point instead was to stand outside and against nature, seeking dominion over it. Classical liberals, according to Deneen, applied this to the natural world around us but still accepted an embedded human nature that we might live by (albeit a cut down and distorted one by which human nature was understood to be a self-seeking one aiming at individual profit); modern leftist progressive liberals extended it to having dominion over human nature itself (i.e. we might choose our own nature) with a logical end point in transhumanism.

Hat tip: The Four Marks

Monday, June 25, 2018

The bugman

I've been noticing an increasing number of references on social media to "bugmen". I didn't know what the term was referring to, so I looked it up and found a wonderful description by Adam Winfield, titled "On the infestation of small-souled bugmen".

It's too uniformly good to pull out a quote to highlight, so I suggest you click the link and read the whole thing. If I really had to summarise it, I'd say it has to do with the cost to the human personality of trying to adapt to the corporate and technocratic side of liberal modernity

Saturday, June 16, 2018

She didn't get the memo?

Hayley Hendrix
Hayley Hendrix is a Perth woman who, being single in her early 40s, used a sperm donor she found on Facebook to conceive a child.

She's not alone in doing this, but she is right in line with modern ideology in how she frames her life choices.

Why did she wait until 42 to become a mother? She very honestly describes how she spent her prime years of youthful fertility:
I'm really ready at 42 to be a mother. I was too career focused, too 'me-oriented' to have done this a decade ago. I was living in Los Angeles – it was a hectic lifestyle and there is a real Peter Pan syndrome going on there.

'You almost never grow up and I suppose this is how I missed the memo for motherhood,' Ms Hendrix said.

'I was thinking of where to travel next, what bar was the coolest place to be seen at, who was the coolest person to hang out with.

'Life now is a world apart, filled with unwashed hair and dirty nappies. And I couldn’t be happier. I am more fulfilled now than I ever have been.'

Ms Hendrix explained that living in LA, she felt a void that is gone now. These days, she feels deeply rewarded by the simple things in life.

'Remy’s smile has filled my heart,' she proudly told Femail.

'I am really present with him – he is getting all of me so it is the best of both worlds for the two of us. Not only did I have a miracle child, I really found my purpose.'

It's not that there were no potential fathers to be had, but that she followed the liberal script and spent her younger years in pursuit of an "expressive individualism" in which we focus on those things we can choose as autonomous individuals, such as career, travel and food - as well as casual, uncommitted relationships.

Hayley Hendrix admits that this realm of choice was not genuinely fulfilling or purposeful, and that she has found herself in motherhood, but she just can't let go of her ideological commitments. This is how she justifies single motherhood:
Ms Hendrix wants women to know that they are the authors of their own story, and that regardless of their relationship status, they too can become a mother just like her.

She added that while she acknowledges that there are strangers out there who may disagree with her choice, she wants to share her story publicly to show women that there is no 'right' way to have children.

'It's about breaking down stigma and purely traditional ways of thinking.'

So she's learnt nothing. Instead of admitting "I should not have wasted my prime fertile years doing insubstantial things" she is instead claiming to be a liberal heroine who is the author of her own story (autonomous) and who is breaking down traditional ways of thinking (i.e. breaking down limits on individual choice).

It was this focus on maximising autonomous choice that got her into trouble in the first place, yet she is doubling down on it and encouraging other women to do the same thing.

And it's a lie. She claims that there is no right way to have children. Yet her child will grow up without having a father in his life. And she herself, as a mother, will lose the depth of love and support that would have come from a relationship with the father of her child. She is pushing toward a kind of spiritual barrenness or sterility in denying our more profound relational needs in favour of an "I can choose any which way" mentality.

We are "creatures" in the sense of having a given, created nature and therefore there are necessarily limits on what we can rightly choose if we wish to genuinely flourish as individuals within a community.

There are even leftists now who are using the word "slave" to express how they feel within a modern, liberal society. They are expressing a deeper intuition here, that freedom is not really being able to choose insubstantial things as an autonomous individual. We do not really experience this as a state of control or agency, but as powerlessness over ourselves and our society. In the classical tradition, freedom was more usually understood as an acquired ability to govern ourselves, through habits of virtue, which would then give rise to communities oriented the same way, i.e. in which men were able to apply self-limitations not only to preserve political freedoms, but to live within a community that was able to orient itself toward the good.

Hayley Hendrix changed her surname after having her Facebook baby:
Ms Hendrix, formerly Hayley Chapman, changed her surname as a result of her experience with social media sperm donation to represent the new chapter she had forged for herself and baby Remy.

'I did it to show that Remy and I are a family in our own right.

'I am my own person on my own mission –I don’t need to wait for someone else.'

I'm not sure what exactly to make of this. I suspect, though, that it is another assertion of individual autonomy, in the form of rejecting a connection both to the past and future. Usually our surname marks a particular family lineage that connects us to generations past, present and future. When you select your own surname, to mark yourself as "a family in our own right", then it is just you and the baby as a one generational unit and identity.

It's noteworthy that Hayley Hendrix is a very good looking woman. In most eras, she would have had no trouble finding a high quality man to form a family with. Yet, having embraced the liberal anticulture, she found herself in her later 30s "desperately seeking" motherhood. All she aspired to by this time was to be impregnated by an anonymous man.

It doesn't have to be this way. Last week I visited a family I've known for a couple of years now. I walked in at a good time - they were all on the couch, laughing together - father, mother, three children and another on the way. You could sense the familial love, of the kind that most people aspire to.

The parents have achieved this at a relatively early age, early 30s at the most. How? In their case, they have a serious commitment to an independent church, and therefore to marriage, family and parenthood.

Now, a lot of churches have collapsed into liberal modernity, and many more will not resist liberalism when it comes to issues of nation and identity. But this family nonetheless illustrates the point, that if there is an active community of people, with serious and explicit non-liberal commitments, that a culture different to the liberal mainstream, with different social outcomes, can be generated.

A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Millennia of woe?

A feminist by the name of Suzanna Danuta Walters has written an opinion piece for the Washington Post with the title "Why can't we hate men?"

I found the piece interesting because it spells out so clearly the logic of the feminist position.

I have been writing for many years that if feminists took their theories seriously that they would be, at the very least, deeply conflicted in their attitudes to men. After all, feminists claim that throughout history men have organised together to create privilege for themselves at the expense of women; that men enact violence against women to uphold this privilege; and that at the core of society is a conflict between the two sexes for power and status.

If you were a woman who really believed that, then it would be logical to see men as the enemy and to have some sort of negative feelings towards men as a class of people.

And Suzanna Walters (a professor of sociology) acknowledges this:
...it seems logical to hate men...Women experience sexual violence, and the threat of that violence permeates our choices big and small. In addition, male violence is not restricted to intimate-partner attacks or sexual assault but plagues us in the form of terrorism and mass gun violence...wage inequality continues to permeate every economy and almost every industry...women have less access to education, particularly at the higher levels; women have lower rates of property ownership.

...So, in this moment, here in the land of legislatively legitimated toxic masculinity, is it really so illogical to hate men? For all the power of #MeToo and #TimesUp and the women’s marches, only a relatively few men have been called to task, and I’ve yet to see a mass wave of prosecutions or even serious recognition of wrongdoing. On the contrary, cries of “witch hunt” and the plotted resurrection of celebrity offenders came quick on the heels of the outcry over endemic sexual harassment and violence. But we’re not supposed to hate them because . . . #NotAllMen. I love Michelle Obama as much as the next woman, but when they have gone low for all of human history, maybe it’s time for us to go all Thelma and Louise and Foxy Brown on their collective butts.

...So men, if you really are #WithUs and would like us to not hate you for all the millennia of woe you have produced and benefited from, start with this: Lean out so we can actually just stand up without being beaten down. Pledge to vote for feminist women only. Don’t run for office. Don’t be in charge of anything. Step away from the power. We got this. And please know that your crocodile tears won’t be wiped away by us anymore. We have every right to hate you. You have done us wrong. #BecausePatriarchy. It is long past time to play hard for Team Feminism. And win.

It's all there. Men have created "millennia of woe" for women so that women "have every right to hate you". The suggested solution is for men to play for the other team by giving up all power ("Don't be in charge of anything").

Nor is this is new feature of feminism. In 1913 a male feminist by the name of W.L. George noted of the "new women" of his era that:
The "New Woman", as we know her to-day, a woman who is not so new as the woman who will be born of her, is a very unpleasant product; armed with a little knowledge, she tends to be dogmatic in her views and offensive in argument. She tends to hate men, and to look upon Feminism as a revenge; she adopts mannish ways, tends to shout, to contradict, to flout principles because they are principles; also she affects a contempt for marriage which is the natural result of her hatred of man.

Again, we should not be surprised as the same logic was at work in 1913 as it is more than a century later.

Professor Walters appears to be a lesbian and so can more readily embrace the logic of the feminist position. For heterosexual feminists the situation is more difficult: they have to reconcile the logic of their politics with their desire for relationships with particular men. The difficulty of achieving this is magnified when you consider that feminist women are not likely to be attracted to servile men who are willing to roll over and give up masculine power. The result is an uneasy compromise between the personal and the political for more serious feminists, whilst most women continue to refuse to identify as feminists at all.

The larger point, of course, is that feminist assumptions have to be challenged. The picture that feminists have of the past is, mostly, a strange one. It does not acknowledge the sacrifices that men made on behalf of their wives and children; nor does it recognise that men and women, rather than being set apart, mostly worked together for the larger benefit of their families and communities (ultimately producing Western civilisation).

I want to finish on a positive note, so I'm going to praise, again, the work of traditionalist women on social media, who are pushing a much more positive message of men and women cooperating together for larger purposes of love, family, community and culture. In no particular order, here are some of the traditionalist women worth following on Twitter:

Sarah Jean Gosney: https://twitter.com/sarahjeangosney

Sophie: https://twitter.com/mtnhousewife

Cherry: https://twitter.com/SewTrad

Trisarahtops: https://twitter.com/xTrisarahtops

Kami: https://twitter.com/Highheeled_Kami

A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Why the fatal delay?

Chandler is a feminist woman. One day she wants to get married and have children. But not now. Not in her twenties. She thinks all women should wait until very late in the piece:



It's a popular message. Her tweet has over 160,000 likes and 50,000 retweets. But why would Chandler hold these views?

The answer is that Chandler is a follower. She is a follower of the ruling ideology of the age, namely liberalism. Liberalism tells Chandler that the primary good in life is that of autonomy. Autonomy means that a woman aims to develop solo as an individual rather than as a wife or a mother within a family. It means that a woman aims to be independent rather than interdependent. It means that she aims for power ("empowerment") rather than love. It means that she aims for things she can choose as an atomised individual, such as career or travel, rather than goods that are fulfilled within a family or a community.

Chandler answered her critics with the following tweets:





The problem for Chandler is that she wants contradictory things. She wants to have a husband and children. But she also wants to follow liberalism and believe in autonomy as the highest good. And so she attempts to resolve the dilemma by dedicating women's youth to the liberal goal of autonomy and their older age to the non-liberal one of family.

It's not a wise strategy. Consider the following:
  • Chandler will spend her formative years deliberately rejecting a culture of family and relationships in favour of individualistic goods of empowerment and autonomy. It will not be easy for her to switch over to being a wife and mother when the time comes. Is she not likely to resent the compromises that occur within a marriage?
  • It is likely that she will pursue numerous unserious relationships with men in her twenties, collecting emotional baggage along the way and damaging her ability to pair bond with just one man.
  • She will not attempt to find a husband or conceive children until long after the peak of her youthful attractiveness and fertility. Her options will be limited compared to other women.
  • Many of the men who are forced to wait will adapt to a bachelor lifestyle. It will be difficult to sustain a family man culture.

Here is Chandler advertising the "too many boyfriends already = emotional baggage" problem:


She seems to be repressing healthy maternal instincts in order to follow the liberal path:


How sad that the ideology of the day leads Chandler to deny herself something that is so fundamental to her sex. She has become an outsider to herself. If she could only free herself of her ideological bindings, she could be more openly oriented to the things she fatally delays.

A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The rape of nature, left and right

I'm re-reading Patrick Deneen's Why Liberalism Failed. One of the arguments Deneen makes is that when proto-liberals reconfigured the Western understanding of liberty in the early modern period, one prong of their attack was an attempt to overcome "the dominion and limits of nature." The proto-liberals favoured a belief "in an expanding and potentially limitless human capacity to control circumstance and effect human desires upon the world."

Deneen argues that there were two phases in this attempt to assert dominion over nature. In the first wave, the emphasis was on the conquest of the natural world:
Liberalism...embraced and advanced as well an economic system - market-based free enterprise - that similarly promoted human use, conquest, and mastery of the natural world. Early-modern liberalism held the view that human nature was unchangeable - human beings were, by nature, self-interested creatures whose base impulses could be harnessed but not fundamentally altered. (p.36)

By the later 1800s, however, a second wave of liberal thinkers criticised the earlier view by asserting that human nature itself could be conquered or mastered. Deneen goes on to make the following interesting distinction:
First-wave liberals are today represented by "conservatives," who stress the need for scientific and economic mastery of nature but stop short of extending this project to human nature. They support nearly any utilitarian use of the world for economic ends...[my emphasis]. Second-wave liberals increasingly approve nearly any technical means of liberating humans from the biological nature of our own bodies.

Deneen writes further that,
Liberalism...seeks to transform all of human life and the world. Its two revolutions - its anthropological individualism and the voluntarist conception of choice, and its insistence on the human separation from and opposition to nature - created its distinctive and new understanding of liberty as the most extensive possible expansion of the human sphere of autonomous activity." [my emphasis]

It is this second revolution, namely the liberal insistence on the human separation from and opposition to nature, that I want to focus on.

I attended a victory celebration today. Some "conservative" (i.e. right-liberal) councillors gained the upper hand in the last council election and suddenly announced that they were going to sell off 17 public reserves in my suburban area of Melbourne, with the idea being that they would be sold to developers to build more units.

A lot of us were shocked to hear the news. Why would anyone want to sell off these pockets of nature within suburbia just for short-term profit? Well, the mentality of these councillors fits in with the description provided by Deneen of first-wave liberals: they assume that human nature is self-interested and that nature is there to be exploited for utilitarian ends.

But there are a lot of lefties in the area I live in. They campaigned against the sell-offs, mobilised public support and ultimately saved most of the reserves (hence today's victory party). In my dealings with these left-wingers, I noticed that they were genuinely non-utilitarian in their attitude to the natural environment. They spoke at times about the importance of the beauty of nature and of its spiritual effects.

But here's the thing. When it comes to human nature, the left-liberals are no better than the right-liberals. They are just as willing to slash and burn, and to tread all over whatever there is of beauty and spirit within human nature, in order to assert a conquest and dominion over it.

They are no better - it is just that the focus of their efforts differs.

For prime evidence of this have a read of how left-liberalism operates in Sweden's preschools. The teachers at these schools have, as their prime mission, to eradicate distinctions between the boys and the girls. They are fiercely dedicated to this aim of destroying one significant aspect of human nature. They do not care if, by doing so, they eradicate what is beautiful within womanhood or what is strong and admirable within manhood. Just like the right-liberals, they assume that humans should stand separate to and in opposition to nature - to our nature as men and women.

From the New York Times article:
Science may still be divided over whether gender differences are rooted in biology or culture, but many of Sweden’s government-funded preschools are doing what they can to deconstruct them. State curriculum urges teachers and principals to embrace their role as social engineers, requiring them to “counteract traditional gender roles and gender patterns.”

It is normal, in many Swedish preschools, for teachers to avoid referring to their students’ gender — instead of “boys and girls,” they say “friends,” or call children by name. Play is organized to prevent children from sorting themselves by gender. A gender-neutral pronoun, “hen,” was introduced in 2012 and was swiftly absorbed into mainstream Swedish culture

This began in 1996 in Sweden when Ingemar Gens, a journalist, realised that preschools were a good place to suppress sex distinctions:
Preschool struck him as the right place to do this. Swedish children spend much of their early life in government-funded preschools, which offer care at nominal cost for up to 12 hours a day starting at the age of 1.

Two schools rolled out what was called a compensatory gender strategy. Boys and girls at the preschools were separated for part of the day and coached in traits associated with the other gender. Boys massaged each other’s feet. Girls were led in barefoot walks in the snow, and told to throw open the window and scream.

The teachers are expected to watch videos of how they interact with the students, to pick up on any subtle differences in how they treat the boys and girls:
“It was hard at first to see patterns,” she said. “We saw more and more, and we were horrified at what we saw.”

In Sweden the idea that any distinctions based on sex might still exist is considered "horrifying".

One trainee teacher so much dislikes it when she sees her friends dressing their children as boys or girls that she makes a point of trying to re-educate them:
Ms. Gerdin’s friends have begun to have babies, and they post pictures of them on Facebook, swathed in blue or pink, in society’s first act of sorting. Ms. Gerdin gets upset when this happens. She feels sorry for the children. She makes it a point to seek her friends out and tell them, earnestly, that they are making a mistake. This feels to her like a responsibility.

Finally, you can see in all of this an error that is often made in politics. The left-liberals reacted to something they didn't like in right-liberal politics, but opposed it from within the same political framework. They weren't able to think outside of the framework itself.

You have to be careful that you don't become merely reactive to the thing you have grown to dislike. What should exist instead is an independent orientation to the truth.

Traditionalists do not want to live outside of nature, whether that refers to the natural world or to human nature. We want to be connected to it, deeply, and to draw from it what is best within the human experience. We orient our lives, in part, through our place within a natural order (an order of existence that encompasses the biological, the social and the spiritual). That does not mean rejecting efforts to employ technology for useful purposes, but this is not the principle we live by, or that we wish society to be ordered by, or that we measure progress by.

A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

More feminist regret

Dr Taylor Burrowes is angry at the influence feminism has had on her life. She has a successful career as a family counselor and as something of a media personality (she anchors a news show and has done a Ted talk). However, she believes that feminism influenced her negatively when it came to relationships with men.

She posted the following as a Twitter thread, but I'm condensing it for readability:
A Dear Joan Letter to Feminism:

I’m mad that you took away my right to choose what I wanted as a woman...you took things too far when you pushed me out of my natural nurturing role & into a man’s world. The expectation to strive & succeed amongst men killed my femininity, thank you FEMINISM!

Why did you have to go & steal my hopes & dreams from me? You’re selfish & never cared enough about what I really wanted to even ask me first. Maybe I didn’t want to spend 18 years in post-grad school when I would’ve rather been prioritizing prospects for finding a good partner.

I would’ve never let you swindle me out of my prime years in the name of progress. I would’ve rather used my god-given gifts on what is truly important to me. My PhD can’t defend me in an attack or keep me safe from harm. It doesn’t even guarantee that I’ll be financially robust.

Sure, it’s impressive to other women in the game of competition, but what the hell are we competing for? Men don’t care that I have a PhD, in fact, it limits my options in the dating pool. It’s like height, I’m tall & average height men are mainly out of the market for me.

I can’t pair with a man beneath me, literally and figuratively. You forgot to discuss this temper tantrum you had decades ago with your older sister HYPERGAMY. If you had, she would have put you in your place a long time ago. But you had to go rogue and try to prove your point.

I just can’t believe I let you manipulate me into neglecting my feminine ideals & self-sabotaging to the point that I may have set myself up for being alone without any family of my own while I help other people find & keep their happy lives with their families.

I know somewhere along the way you thought you were right for doing what you did, but I need you to stop and reconsider things now. I can’t go back and redo my 20s or even go back to puberty and start my socialization over so that I understand male/female dynamics realistically.

My life may be irreversible now, and I’ll have to make peace with the consequences of what you did. But I know you’re still out there doing this to other people. I’m just asking you to stop for the sake of love and family values. Let women be women again.

And for goodness sake let men be men! If there’s anything I can say to appeal to your senses, this is it: thank you for showing me I am powerful & smart when I need to be. I will take that with me. It’s just not the whole story. I need to respect, honor & admire a partner.

This is what I needed to learn:

1. Men are awesome creatures when they are at their best & I need one in my life to love & keep me safe and ensure a healthy & happy home & life.

2. Find a man that inspires your whole being so that even when you disagree, you defer to his leadership.

3. There is no need to rebel against his leadership if I choose wisely. And when I do, know that “the ship has sailed” and we are on course for a lifetime of adventure together. We can strategize our teamwork to plan according to all the challenges at sea, but we must not waver.

4. Being feminine is everything. Denying our beauty is a sin on humanity. Embrace & celebrate your inner & outer sensual essence by being graceful, selective, kind, joyful, warm, loving & intuitive. You can do so without being weak or meek or insignificant.

5. I was put on this earth to love and to heal and to help and support someone, my someone! There is no progress without leadership, there is no leadership without followership, there is no home without a healthy system to guide & protect it and there is no love without a home.

Enough FEMINISM, you have done enough damage...You’ve proven your twisted point. If you carry on any further you are going to destroy life & love as we (used to) know it. Women will rule the world with subservient masses of weak men. Then what? Will you stop then?

Will you be happy when you look around at the mess you’ve created and smile? I don’t think so! I think you’ll wail like you’ve never felt sadness and despair before once you understand what you’ve “created.” The destruction will be catastrophic...it’s already begun.

But it’s not too late for our future even if it’s too late for some. So, I beg you FEMINISM: Enough! You’ve had your run, let go of the death grip and listen to your inner voice. I know you still have it. You don’t have to fight anymore. I’m sorry if you're hurt by my leaving.

But I’m done.

All the best,

The generations of women from who you squandered youth and the Divine Feminine for too long.
There is a genre of this kind of writing - of middle-aged women without families feeling dudded by feminism (which I hereby dub "feminist regret"). One of the earliest examples that I recall was written by an Australian journalist, Virginia Haussegger, back in 2002 - see here.

Dr Taylor Burrowes' letter is better than many I've read. I like the following aspects:

1. She recognises that men aren't very attracted to a woman's professional qualifications.

2. She recognises the reality of female hypergamy: that women feel attracted to men who they can look up to in some way. Therefore, both her height and her PhD limited the pool of men she might have successfully bonded with. She writes "I can’t pair with a man beneath me, literally and figuratively." This has implications for how society is organised - care has to be taken to ensure that men have the standing in society to attract their female peers.

3. She doesn't do the "men can't handle smart/strong women" shtick. She acknowledges that the problem was internal to her and that it would have helped if she had been brought up to better understand the male/female dynamic.

4. She does a good job in identifying the qualities that women might cultivate in themselves. She suggests that women aim to be "graceful, selective, kind, joyful, warm, loving & intuitive".

5. She is open and honest about needing a man to lead in the relationship. She associates a man leading and protecting with the creation of a loving home (leadership includes teamwork between man and woman).

Finally, I hope that the men reading this don't respond with a "white knight" instinct, because it is not what women like Dr Taylor Burrowes are looking for. She is not looking for a servant to uphold the feminine imperative, i.e. to do her bidding. She wants a masculine man who can more than hold his own in a relationship. Who she feels confident in deferring to for leadership. It is not a case of "rescue" but of being a man who can be relied on to make good decisions and to steer things in the right direction.

A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Deakin story

I've now finished reading Judith Brett's biography of Alfred Deakin, an important father of Australian Federation, who set much of the national policy for the first four decades of the nation's history.

There's an important political lesson contained within the life of Deakin. Deakin was a progressive liberal, and yet there is much to admire about both the man and the impact he had on Australian politics.

The reason I can say this is that there is a disjunction between the political and religious principles held by Deakin, and the ancestral culture which he finely embodied. Deakin's liberalism (the political and religious principles) hadn't yet reached a point of overthrowing important aspects of the ancestral culture.

And this raises a significant issue about the way that politics has been framed in the West. For a traditionalist, the ancestral culture itself is the good to be conserved. Therefore, to be a conservative is a good thing, in the sense that you are upholding what is meaningful within human existence, regardless of the changing of fashions or technology over time. What a traditionalist ought to do, therefore, is to fit his religious and political worldview together with this defence of what is meaningful within his ancestral culture - so that it can be conserved.

Deakin didn't see it this way, and nor have most Western intellectuals. Deakin did very much value the ancestral culture, and thought of it as a core aspect of his life. But his religious and political principles were formed separately to it, being intellectually schematic and abstract.

He wanted to believe, as many intellectuals of the era did, that there was a divine purpose to the cosmos, in the sense that humanity was progressing to its ultimate, divinely appointed ends. Deakin was, in this sense, a "humanist" as he thought of humanity as a whole as the agent through which God's purposes would be fulfilled. Deakin therefore believed that as part of progress there would be a shift away from the parochial, toward higher unities and ultimately toward the global citizen.

Politics for Deakin was a means by which he could fulfil his own destiny in furthering God's plan for human progress. He would serve the ideal by engagement in progressive politics. Therefore, for Deakin, it was wrong to be conservative, because this meant obstructing progress and getting in the way of humanity advancing toward the ultimate purposes God intended for it.

And so the real goods that Deakin himself so finely embodied and which he had inherited from a more traditional culture, were left without an explicit defence. They were left undefended within Deakin's intellectual scheme or framework. Fortunately, however, Deakin hesitated before the precipice and did not abandon the identities and loyalties derived from his cultural inheritance. He brought these into the policy positions he developed for the newly formed Australia.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

The deepening

Sometimes you hear people say that we live in a post-industrial society. I'm not so sure. It seems to me that we are pushing toward a deeper - a more raw - stage of industrial society.

There was, of course, an intense stage of industrialisation in the 1800s. But at the same time there were efforts to at least contain its impact on society.

For instance, men were subject to the demands of industry during working hours. But often their wives and children were not. The family home was supposed to be a haven from the demands and values of the industrial world.

There was a deliberate effort, also, to establish garden suburbs. And, over time, working hours for men were reduced. As early as 1856, workers in Melbourne began to enjoy an eight hour working day.

There was a time too when "slow leisure pursuits" were popular. People read poetry, spent time in the garden, went on picnics, spent a day at the cricket or fishing at the river.

So, although industrialisation had a major effect on culture and society, there were still spaces in which the logic of industrial organisation didn't penetrate.

Great Britain became a world superpower, in part, because it was the first to industrialise. It's noteworthy that other self-disciplined and ambitious nations, such as Germany and Japan, recognised the need to modernise their economies along similar lines.

When you look at Japan, you see a somewhat different path. The Japanese did not mitigate industrialisation the same way the the British did, with garden suburbs or with leisure time. Their industrial cities were concrete jungles and their men were expected to be work warriors.

They did, however, for a period of time attempt to fuse certain more traditional values with industrialisation. It was thought masculine to be a successful work warrior and to support a family with long hours of work. It was also thought to be patriotic to contribute to building up the Japanese economy.

It's possible that this intense industrialisation explains some of Japan's social ills. Japan may not have committed to liberalism as deeply as the Anglosphere countries, but they did commit in a raw way to the industrial organisation of society. Does this help to explain some of the decline in the Japanese family even in the absence of a strong feminist movement? The failure of some young men to commit to society?

Here in Australia we seem to be following down the Japanese path in the sense that there is no longer the same effort to offset the effects of industrial organisation. Some observations:

1. The family is not as much a haven from work as it once was. The advice to women in the 1950s and 60s to prepare a comfortable and relaxing home for their husbands to return to work from is now mocked. With women increasingly at work themselves, men are now expected to keep working when at home. With a high rate of divorce, family is no longer the centre of stable values as a counterpoint to the world of work.

2. On a related note, now that many women are at work, it is harder for men to conceive their work role in terms of family or masculinity. For instance, a man who worked in an office could have once thought to himself that his efforts at work were not dedicated to "the office" but to his role as a husband and father supporting a family and creating a protected space for a culture of family life to flourish. Now, though, he is more likely to be drawn into a corporate culture, in which his efforts at work are connected directly to his corporate role and identity, rather than to something beyond them.

3. There is a trend for the more ambitious kind of young woman to give up on motherhood. Such women are already living a pressured lifestyle at work and find it difficult to imagine taking on the extra duties and responsibilities of raising children. And, more than this, the lifestyle associated with modern, urban, industrial society is one of long hours at work, followed by and justified by, certain trappings of the "good life" such as dining out, travel, designer clothes, shopping and so on - a lifestyle that would be cramped by motherhood. The dramatic drop in the birthrate seen in the "raw" industrial societies of Japan and Germany is likely to happen here as well,  especially among middle-class women.

4. There is the beginning of a trend for workplaces to act as de facto families. When I worked in Japan it was common for the entire staff to holiday together - that was how strong the work relationships were supposed to be. I haven't heard of this happening in Australia, but, with the decline of family, work is starting to be the main source of personal relationships for some people, and some businesses are beginning to take on a paternal role in staff well-being. A friend of mine has been applying for work recently and he told me how he was put off some workplaces because they struck him as being cult-like - as requiring a commitment that went beyond the professional and into the personal.

5. We are also following the Japanese path in building more congested urban spaces. The Japanese have a sense of themselves as lovers of nature, but modern life seems to have largely cancelled this out, and the same appears to be happening to Anglo culture.

6. The increase in leisure hours stalled in the 1970s. The picture here is not clear-cut, as work stress will depend on the circumstance of each family. In a family where both husband and wife are working-full time, as well as raising children, time pressure will be relatively high; on the other hand, there has been a rise in part-time work during this period. What seems generally true, though, is that people are less committed to leisure pursuits that bring them back to a more traditional pace of life that connects them to nature or to the arts (and, perhaps, to religion). Anglo society has moved closer to that fast paced, mass, urban culture that, unsurprisingly, was thought characteristic of life in Berlin during its period of industrial modernisation, and that was certainly part of Japanese culture when I lived there in the 1990s.

The larger point I am making in all this is that it may not be enough to challenge the liberal ideology that dominates the Western political classes. Even if this ideology was overthrown, traditional values would still be compromised within a society organised wholly along industrial lines.

If the individual is to be fitted to the most productive purposes within an industrial system, without limit, then not much will remain of a traditional culture. We do need to think through how best to respond to this problem.

Personally, I don't favour the nineteenth century approach of shielding women and children in the home, whilst subjecting men to industrialisation. Even if successful (i.e. in preserving family values as a counterpoint to an industrial culture), this only preserves the domestic aspect of life, at the expense of the larger civilisational commitments that men should ordinarily have.

I don't know if it's economically feasible, but I would prefer a dual system for men - to spend part of the week in an industrial role and another part in a "community" one set apart from both family and bread-winning responsibilities.

Another option would be to try to limit some of the unnecessary financial burdens in modern life (the high cost of housing, education and taxation) and to encourage men to achieve financial independence, allowing them a greater freedom to order their lives according to non-industrial criteria.

These are only musings at this stage, the important point being that you cannot curtail men's lives to the effort to survive within an industrial workplace and then expect the resulting culture to be imbued with traditionalist values relating to the distinct role of a father within a family, or to a man's role in leading his community or in contributing to his larger tradition.

Monday, April 30, 2018

So it doesn't matter?

What is interesting in the video below is how the last speaker, Johannes Leak, takes aim at leftist identity politics. He appeals to the underlying principles of liberalism:


This is what he said about the left:
Broadly speaking they are so focused on what makes everybody different. But at the shallowest level. Skin colour. What should not matter. The way that I was brought up was that that is one of the fundamental things that doesn't matter about people. The way they look. Where they come from. Their sexuality. These are the things they are obsessed with. And they're the things that shouldn't matter. It's beside the point. We're all people. I feel like they exist in a bubble they have to keep puffing up, while the rest of us are all getting on with it.

Regular readers will know that this is very close to how I describe the logic of liberalism. Liberals believe that we should be autonomous, self-determining individuals. This means that predetermined qualities, like our race, must be made not to matter.

So Johannes Leak is being orthodox in his liberalism in insisting that a predetermined quality like race should not matter. He therefore follows the traditional right-liberal view that we should be colour blind and not discriminate in any way when it comes to race or where people are from.

The fact that Leak's view is an ideological one doesn't necessarily make it wrong. So I'll briefly point out why we should reject it.

First, a person's race does naturally have some place in their identity. Race is a marker of a people who have a long shared history through time, who recognise something of themselves in each other, and who have developed over time a distinct culture, language and way of life. In other words, it marks the shared ancestry of those who belong to a distinct "ethny". In this sense, it is constitutive of a person rather than merely accidental to who they are.

To say that race shouldn't matter therefore undermines one of the larger identities that "moralises" people - that locates them within a tradition they can be proud of and act positively to uphold. It helps to ground the social commitments of individuals. That is one reason why there is such an effort in Australia to build up a positive sense of race for Aborigines - there is an understanding that young Aborigines are bolstered ("remoralised") in this way.

Think too of the ultimate logic of the liberal position on identity. If where people come from is accidental to who they are, then being a part of a nation, even a civic nation, is not significant to our identity. That's why another right-liberal, Andrew Bolt, rejected his family's Dutch identity in favour of,
asserting my own. Andrew Bolt's.

So I chose to refer to myself as Australian again, as one of the many who join in making this shared land our common home.

Yet even now I fret about how even nationality can divide us.

To be frank, I consider myself first of all an individual, and wish we could all deal with each other like that. No ethnicity. No nationality. No race. Certainly no divide that's a mere accident of birth.

So what we are left with is identifying with ourselves. A kind of hyper-individualism. No ethnicity, no race and not even a civic nation - as even this is thought to be a merely "accidental" way of dividing people.

Which leads to the next problem with the right-liberal option. A group of people who are hyper-individualists will find it very difficult to defend themselves against those who act in solidarity with each other. This is one reason why the left has been more successful than the right in seizing control of the institutions and in forming their own communities. Hyper-individualism also leaves the right blind to the realities of demographic change. In the mind of a right-liberal, open borders should pose no problem, as it is assumed that those entering the nation will act only as individuals, rather than identifying with a group interest. They assume that others will assimilate, even as the former majority population becomes a minority. It's a dangerous assumption. If you want to live in a safe, secure, high trust society with a limited government and secure property rights, then you are better off maintaining a degree of homogeneity that the right-liberal position undermines.

Nor do right-liberals understand that the very principles they uphold help to create the left-liberalism they so dislike. It goes like this. Right-liberals assert that race, as a predetermined quality that is merely accidental to the individual, should be made not to matter. The solution, they believe, is for individuals to be colour-blind.

Left-liberals agree that race shouldn't matter. But they notice that it still does: in educational outcomes, in employment, in income, and in levels of representation within the culture and the government. And so they see racism as being systemic within society and believe that as a matter of "social justice" that "white privilege" must be dismantled, with people of colour leading the way. And so categories of race do still matter on the left - even though they share the same starting point as right liberals.

The point being that the left-liberal position is just as logical a response to the liberal starting point.as the right-liberal one. If you push the idea that race shouldn't matter, as Johannes Leak does, then it is likely that people won't rest content with a colour-blind society in which there are still racial discrepancies.

Another problem with the right-liberal position is that, as a matter of logic, it won't just be applied to race. If things that are predetermined "accidents of birth" shouldn't matter, then that means that our sex shouldn't matter either. Logically, Johannes Leak should insist that we not identify as men or as women, that these categories are divisive and that we should just see ourselves as individuals. Yet, the truth, again, is that sex is constitutive of who we are rather than being merely accidental to our identity, and that it helps ground our social commitments, such as our commitment to family.

If we shuttle back and forth between left and right liberalism, we'll continue to repeat the mistakes of the past decades. We'll either have the hyper-individualism of the right liberals, or the anti-white identity politics of the left liberals. Both are dissolving of the West. Better to assert that our communal identity does matter and should matter, so that we seek to carry it into the future.

A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

A refreshing take on the wage gap

Sixty Minutes is showing an interview with Jordan Peterson tonight on the topic of equal pay. So I thought it a good time to share a link to an excellent column on the issue by Hadley Heath Manning.

Her argument is that the main reason why men end up earning more than women is that women take time off to have children. Most liberals, on hearing this, would argue that a person's sex shouldn't matter in their life outcome and therefore the "motherhood penalty" should be abolished, either by coercing men into taking on at least half of the motherhood role, or by outsourcing the motherhood role to the state.

It is to the credit of Hadley Manning that she doesn't pursue this line of thought. In fact, she makes a couple of persuasive counterarguments. She notes, first, that for many women, such as herself, motherhood is not experienced in a negative way as a "penalty" but instead as a blessing. She believes that it is a rational trade-off for a woman like herself to make choices that mean she earns less than some of her childless colleagues, but which allow her to enjoy the experience of motherhood.

Her second argument is even more significant. She observes that married fathers end up earning the most, but that this is because these men make sacrifices in order to financially support their families. She then makes the very logical point, one that I have made before many times, that the extra money that these men make does not go into their own pockets but is shared with their wives. It is not as if the extra efforts of these men at work deprives women of money - the money ends up being made available to women anyway, and gives to women some degree of choice in their work/life balance that is not available to men.

This is how Hadley Manning herself puts it:
Among all demographic groups, who makes the most money? Married fathers. This isn't because society values them more, but because they often make sacrifices to try to earn more to support their families. And who shares household earnings and the associated wealth accumulation with married fathers? Married mothers, of course. The term “motherhood penalty” fails to capture this. Married motherhood comes with great benefits, both financial and non-financial.

The reality is that mothers are paid less than non-mothers (and accumulate less wealth as a result) not because employers or “society” penalize us, but because, on aggregate, mothers make trade-offs that result in less money. This leaves us “worse off” — but only in the eyes of those who value monetary earnings above other things, like spending time with children, volunteering, or other unpaid pursuits.

What would the liberal response to this be? I think I know. There is a conflict here within liberal theory. On the one hand, liberals believe that it helps individual autonomy if individuals are free to choose. Therefore, in theory, liberals should be happy if women exercise a choice to earn less money but to enjoy the benefits of motherhood. But, on the other hand, liberals believe that individuals are more autonomous (more self-determining) if predetermined qualities like being a woman are made not to matter. Therefore, liberals find it difficult to accept the outcome of a free choice, if it means that our sex still has an influence on our life outcome.

How do liberals resolve this contradiction in their philosophy? Usually, by finding ways to get people to make the "right" choice, i.e. the one that makes our sex not matter. In practice, liberals refuse to accept that there might be a connection between being a woman and motherhood and blame childhood socialisation for women wanting to look after their children (hence the belief of liberals that if girls didn't wear pink or play with dolls that the world could be put right).

So only one choice is the "right" choice and it requires intrusive social engineering in the lives of young children to bring it about - that is where the logic of liberalism leads society and we are supposed to accept that this represents a true and accurate state of human freedom.

We are freer when we have the opportunity to order our own selves toward higher things, and when we live within a culture and a community which helps us to do this. Hadley Manning hints at this when she suggests that a competition for money with men is not for her the higher blessing in life and that she would rather cooperate with her husband to achieve certain goals of family and community life.

A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.