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.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Clarifying white nationalism

My post on white nationalism drew quite a number of comments. There was one in particular that I thought it useful to reply to. It was from a long-time reader who usually has no issue with my posts, but this time thought differently:
You have missed the boat here. Any time you argue that Whites have no interests as ethnic and racial groups, no right to demand those interests and be organized to ensure they are promoted, you have gone off course.

You are basically justifying by clever rationalization the past 40 years of anti-White policy. That leads to White genocide in action.

The comment made me think that I had not made my position clear enough. The reader and I both want our ethnic groups to survive into the future. Where we differ is on the "legitimating principle" for pursuing this aim. He takes the white nationalist position that the legitimating principle is a right to pursue one's own collective interests. For me as a traditionalist, the legitimating principle is that it is a defence of the good. As I wrote in my original post:
We would argue that the ties of ethnic community form a deep part of human identity and provide a deep sense of belonging. That it connects us to generations past, present and future and also to the land and to the urban and rural landscape we inhabit. That it powerfully motivates our social commitments, including a willingness to commit to a stable family life.

We would also see these ethno-national traditions as having an inherent good in representing a unique expression of humanity.

This raises the question of whether we should defend our ethnies on the basis of promoting our collective self-interest (white nationalists) or on the basis of defending the good (traditionalists). The pursuit of self-interest does have some points in its favour. It is direct and straightforward. It also plays into an important strain of political thought that is part of the American tradition, namely the classical liberal tradition which emphasises the idea of man being free to pursue his self-interest (albeit an individual self-interest in the market rather than a collective self-interest). In other words, it is more "modern" in seeing value as residing in what people desire or seek rather than in a good that transcends these desires.

There is also a positive aspect to the emphasis that white nationalists put on the pursuit of a collective self-interest rather than an individual one. Once you make a collective existence legitimate and its furtherance a political principle, then other things follow. It is more likely that a healthy family life will be supported and that arts which aim to demoralise people will be rejected.

But there are problems too with a pursuit of a self-interest principle. As I mentioned in my previous post, there are few moral limits built into this principle. Nor is there much reason to extend the same goods that you claim for your own group to others.

And you also have the same general issues that come with modernist philosophies that lack a transcendent good. If it is just about self-interest, even a collective self-interest, then you put yourself at risk of the intellectual class falling at some point into an existential crisis that breeds rancour or perhaps extreme ("vitalist") strategies to assert a meaning to individual life or national life. This is not as likely if the intellectual class has a powerful sense that they are serving a meaningful, transcendent good.