Saturday, October 28, 2017

Jordan Peterson - the path is narrow

I've posted below a short video of a lecture by Jordan Peterson. It is bracingly countercultural. The liberal assumption is that we live in an existential vacuum in which we are free to choose in any direction. Jordan Peterson's experience as a clinical psychologist is that this is not so, and that there is a moral order that the individual cannot transgress without consequences:

Joep Beving

The top two positions in the Australian classical music chart are held by a living composer, the Dutchman Joep Beving. It's such a rare event that I thought I would share a video of one of his compositions:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Cardinal Sarah defends homelands and cultures

Cardinal Sarah, who hails from Guinea in Africa, has given a speech in Poland supporting that country's stand against open borders:
Every nation has a right to distinguish between genuine refugees and economic migrants who do not share that nation’s culture, Cardinal Robert Sarah has said.

Speaking at the Europa Christi conference in Poland on Sunday, the African cardinal noted that the country refuses to accept the “logic” of migrant redistribution that “some people want to impose”.

In comments reported by Polish magazine Gosc, Cardinal Sarah added that while every migrant is a human being who must be respected, the situation becomes more complex if they are of another culture or another religion, and imperil the common good of the nation.

This is at least tending toward the reformed refugee policy that I have long advocated: that there should be a common fund to finance refugee resettlement, but that to avoid economic migration and to protect existing cultures, refugees should be resettled in the nearest safe country that is most similar in terms of both living standards and culture/ethnicity.

The most striking comment made by Cardinal Sarah was this:
The ideology of liberal individualism promotes a mixing that is designed to erode the natural borders of homelands and cultures, and leads to a post-national and one-dimensional world where the only things that matter are consumption and production.

The quote deserves to be read carefully, as it clearly suggests that Catholics not only can, but ought to, defend "the natural borders of homelands and cultures."

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

When the world turns

I saw the following tweet a few days ago that sums up perfectly the liberal attitude to our biological sex:

It's got everything in the space of a tweet.

The liberal starting point is a belief that what gives life meaning or dignity is a freedom to self-determine who we are (identity) and to pursue what we will (subjective goods). Therefore, as a logical follow on, our predetermined qualities (our sex, our race, our ethnicity) are thought of negatively as limits on our freedom.

Free yourself, shouts the liberal, from your manhood or womanhood, from traditional roles, from moral norm and standards, from your communal tradition, from your history and culture, from sexual complementarity, from traditions of beauty in the arts and architecture, from your faith. Strip yourself bare and be free! Be illimitable!

But the liberal cry is a dissolving one that makes us and what we have in common smaller, less meaningful and increasingly marginalised.

And there are people who are tiring of it. Youssef Sarhan's tweet drew over 3000 comments, nearly all of them critical. The world is turning, at least a little, away from liberalism as an orthodoxy.

Below is a selection of the responses to Youssef Sarhan. Some were from men, but many were written by women in defence of manhood:

One response had an interesting philosophical angle:

There's something to this. It is more usual to accept that we have a created nature and to seek to complete this to its highest and most developed form and to enact it within, and for the benefit of, a human community. If we reject this, as "limiting," we are suggesting that we can remake reality, and do so better than what we were, by nature, created to be. It suggests that we are not creatures existing as part of an order of reality, but uncreated and outside of it, like gods of the spheres. There is a hubris to this, alongside the loss of what is to be found when we are placed within a meaningful order of reality, rather than lost outside of it.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Another step in the descent of liberal culture

There have been a couple of images doing the rounds lately on social media. The first is of a satanic-style drag queen reading books to young children in a public library in the U.S.:

The second is of a poster being displayed at train stations in Toronto, Canada, with the campaign title "The sex you want" and showing a picture of a homosexual threesome:

The instinctive reaction most people will have is that exposing children to these images is an attack on their childhood. And yet public authorities clearly believe the opposite - that it is either a good thing, or at least harmless, for the images to be displayed to children.

I understand the position of the public authorities, even if I think it is wrong. The liberal idea, dominant in our society, is that the individual autonomously determines his own goods and identity. But, as all desires are equally desires, they all have to be acknowledged as equally valid, as long as they don't claim primacy over others (which, for liberals, is the sin of "supremacy" or discrimination, intolerance, bigotry etc.) So the public authorities, following this liberal credo, don't really have a principled way to object to the imagery, without exposing themselves to charges of hypocrisy or inconsistency or lack of principle.

It seems we are witnessing another step down in liberal culture. Liberal culture had previously compromised by rating materials for their sexual content and allowing parents some control over what their children were exposed to. Apparently the aim of being inclusive toward transsexual and homosexual culture (making it normative) is now overriding the older compromise - it is now thought progressive to habituate children to these things.

And yet there is damage being done. The message being given to children is that sexuality is to be freely pursued in any direction and that there are no sexual impulses to be restrained or held in check. They are being exposed to forms of sexuality that are at the end point of what happens when restraints or modesty or checks give way.

This is especially problematic for those children who will later seek to form heterosexual relationships. Within homosexual culture, it does not matter so much if the emphasis is on fleeting sexual encounters for their own sake. But a heterosexual culture can't work this way. A heterosexual culture has the more difficult aim of bringing together men and women for stable, monogamous pairing, with the aim of raising children successfully and carrying on an intergenerational family tradition. This requires both men and women to integrate the sexual aspects of their relationship with other purposes relating to the good of children, family and society.

In short, sexuality has to be ordered toward higher purposes. A man cannot just follow his libido if he is to commit to a lifelong role of husband and father within a family and secure the material well-being of his wife and children and help to socialise his children toward a successful adulthood of their own. Similarly, a promiscuous woman damages her ability to pair bond with a man and to form a respectful and loving emotional relationship with a future husband.

If children are allowed to mature without being precociously sexualised, and within a culture that orients them toward marriage and family, then they are likely to reach early adulthood without having lost the innate qualities that might allow them to successfully pair bond with a person of the opposite sex.

And that's the sense in which we instinctively believe that it is possible for children to be corrupted, and that children need to be protected from certain types of sexualised content. We don't want our children to lose what is supposed to be intact within them, emotionally and psychologically, that allows them to successfully marry. It is our job to at least get them to independent adulthood, and the age of marriage, without this having been lost.

This requires not only good parenting, but also agreed upon social norms and standards within public life. And this is where liberalism is increasingly undermining the role of parents in the raising of their children.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Building up our houses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 09, 2017

A photo for James Kalb

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 08, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Frederick Hart

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

Here are some of his sculptures:

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Swedish feminist supports polygamy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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