Fighting Buddhism: Peek-a-boo

In an earlier post, I objected to the claim that one can disprove Descartes and prove Buddhist anti-substantialism (anatman) from the fact that there are brain-damaged people who are unaware of their own existence.  It occurs to me now that one could go farther.  These brain-damaged nuts are the reducio ad absurdum of Buddhism.  They have lost their ego sense and, in a sense, achieved Buddhist enlightenment.  If Buddha would have just said that his goal was to give people Cotard’s syndrome, he might not be so popular with our celebrities today.

Another example of people with a high degree of “enlightenment”:  newborn babies.  They have not yet learned to conceptualize the world in terms of enduring substances with distinct natures.  The world is a meaningless chaos of color and noise to them–Buddhist sages take decades of meditation to achieve a comparable level of idiocy.  My daughter is four and a half months old right now, and I’ve started trying to help her achieve a different, ultimately Hellenic/Christian, kind of enlightenment.  I want to help her realize that there are distinct beings, and especially distinct people, whose identity endures through time.  This idea of personal identity (“the soul” as people call it when disparaging it) is central to the Western (Hellenic/Christian) way.  Without the idea of distinct, enduring selves, there can be no personal responsibility (because it has no subject) and no love (because it has no object).  The Buddhist sees love as an obstacle to the pure detachment he craves; we see it as the purpose of existence.

Fortunately, Western man has invented a rite to induct his little ones into the holy mystery of personal identity.  That is the game of peek-a-boo.  “Where’s daddy?  There he is!  Where’s daddy?  There he is!”  The point, of course, that daddy is an enduring being who can be visible, then obscured, and then visible, all while remaining the same person.  Once they figure it out, kids love this game.  (Mine hasn’t quite got it yet, but I’ve seen this over and over with nieces and nephews.)  What could be more delightful than to realize that the world is not chaos?  Mommy and daddy are not momentary gobs of color, but enduring beings, subjects who can love and be loved.

Wrangel contra MacDonald

In the comments of my review of The Culture of Critique, “Wrangel” objects to the materialistic framework of MacDonald’s thought:

Perhaps there is a slight misinterpretation of MacDonald in here. Under, “Gentiles” MacDonald primarily think about European-Americans a.k.a “Whites”, not Christians. As a matter of fact, he is mostly concerned about people of north-European origin, mainly Anglo-Saxons. His conceptual apparatus is mainly materialistic and tribal-based.

Many Gentiles are not Christians, while many Christians are not white, nor of European origin.
On other hand, many whites today are not Christian.
Latinos are gentiles and mostly very Christian, but I doubt that MacDonald had them in mind when he talked about preservation of Gentiles. Actually, MacDonald consider Christan Latinos and their immigration as main threat to “white-american” identity, and he claim that Jewish influence is cause of that. MacDonald explained this Gentile/White v.s Jewish dichotomy in contemporary America, and in many cases his insights are quite correct, specially about hypocrisy and non-scientific nature of “Frankfurt school”.

However there are certain problems with his theories:

1. He created elaborate sociological-tribal theories about reasons of disproportional influence of Jewish elites and Jewish culture in US. However lets see counterexample. POLAND, before WW2 had significant number of Jews, who were almost majority in some bigger Polish cities. Poles are white, European gentiles like their equivalents in US. However, although quite numerous and organized, Jews had almost zero influence on Polish state, its culture and value system. Poland was ultra-Catholic and ultra-conservative state, with strong Polish nationalism – and with very large Jewish population, many of whom were also quite self-aware as Jews. I would say that influence of radical protestantism in New World and it’s obsession with old testament opened the door for disproportionate Jewish influence in US.

2. He talked about “whites” and “gentiles” like they are some cohesive group with tribal identity. Christians, Muslims, Hindu and even Atheists are all “gentiles” according to Jewish perspective. What they have in common? That they are not Jews? If we base gentile identity simply as opposition to Jews, then we actually agree with Jewish rabbis about Jewish identity, thus playing their game in making Jews unique and superior to others. What if we base identity of “whiteness”? What does “white” mean? Perhaps in America, term “white” have some meaning but NOT IN EUROPE. Germans, French, Poles, Russians etc. are all white, but they also have different ethnic and group loyalties. MacDonald, under “white” seems that mostly means about north-Europeans of Germanic ancestry. So his appeals to “white” or “gentile” identity are quite problematic.

3. When we talk about “Jews”,what “Jews” do we mean? Most Jews in the world, and specially in the US are Ashkenazi and followers of RABBINICAL Judaism, which originate in Pharisees-one of many Jewish sects in old days. What we mostly associate with Jews, Jewish mentality, customs and culture is connected with rabbinical Judaism, to the point that for many people Judaism=Rabbinical Judaism. This is not correct.
Rabbinical Judaism sect imposed it’s will to most Jews over the centuries, but it was not the only form of Judaism around. Lots of Jews in past belonged to KARAITE Judaism, while there are some who are still Karaites. Karaites were not so much in conflict with Gentiles, as Rabbinical Jews, since they have different laws then Rabbinical ones. They don’t accept Talmud, and recognize patrilineal descent, not matrilinear like Rabbinical ones do. They don’t recognize Rabbinical authorities. These two groups are far for being friendly. Not to mention non – Jewish Israelite groups like Samaritans. Most in-group cohesion of Jews that come from rabbinical tradition is based either on their faith, or from respect to tradition and laws based on that faith. This lead us to main critique of MacDonald…

What he offered as “salvation” of “Gentiles” is actually imitation of Jews and Judaic “tribalism”. In order to Gentiles (whatever that means) preserve their identity and group cohesion, they have to become spiritual Jews, or Judaics for that matter.
Mac Donald approach is basically based on same (secularized) protestant mentality that lead to Jewish spiritual dominion in America in first place. His thought is secular, materialist and mostly atheistic.

What MacDonald don’t realize is that this secularization, materialism and atheization lead to destruction of faith in western man, and de-sacralized him. Such spiritually crippled man is vulnerable and inferior to more self-confident religious-cultural communities, like Jews. Jewish cultural influence and moral domination in west is consequence of spiritual self-destruction of western man and sectarianism within Christianity (radical protestantism), and it’s not the cause of that. Just see example of pre WW2 Poland as illustration.

French revolution, dechristianization of France, murdering of priests, desacralizations of Churches, destruction of traditions were all done by gentiles. Jews at that time had almost zero influence on these events. Some Enlightenment thinkers had quite negative attitudes towards Jews.

And when we speak particular “interests” about Christainity, let’s not forget that word “Catholic”- Katolikos, means “universal”.

I also wish there were a more precise term for the group toward whom Jewish radicals direct their hostility.  “White gentiles” and “Christians” are, as Wrangel emphasizes, not identical categories, and neither is precisely what we mean to say.  This isn’t a critical problem for MacDonald’s book, which focuses on America in the first half of the 20th century, when “white gentile”, “white Christian”, and “majority culture” all meant pretty much the same thing.  Today, things are more complicated.  Secular Jews are part of the dominant white culture, but this dominant culture is definitely post-Christian, rather than Jewish.  In a global context, “gentile” is indeed too general a description.

MacDonald is an atheist and embraces an explicitly materialistic worldview in which everything reduces to competition for resources with the ultimate goal of reproductive success.  We certainly want to avoid thinking this way.  On the other hand, I don’t think that identifying the interests of the Christian community necessarily means embracing this sort of reductionism.  We have non-material interests, like fostering loyalty and love for the Church, that clash with what Jews percieve to be their interest in a demoralized Christianity.

Wrangel is right that there has been liberalism and anticlericalism without significant Jewish influence.  The Jews are a tool of liberalism, not vice versa.  On the other hand, wedge minorities have been a very important tool.

Wrangel points out that Jews have had an enormous influence on some cultures (America, Weimer Germany) but not on others (Poland).  This is a fascinating observation, and I would like to think about it more.  As he says, it suggests that it’s something in some host countries that makes the difference.

I’m a bad person

I blame Kevin MacDonald.  He’s made me find this sort of thing really funny:

In 2008, The New York Times’Noah Feldman commented on the “systematic overrepresentation of Mormons among top businesspeople and lawyers.” In 2009, the Atlantic boldly asserted that Mormons are “overrepresented in the national political elite.” Slate’s Jacob Weisberg transgressed the bounds of religious tolerance to tag Mormon prophet Joseph Smith “an obvious con man.”

(At least the author, Jim Goad, seemed to find it funny too.)

Always the same

I’ve been interested in American politics for a long time, and have always measured my political beliefs chiefly by American standards rather than Scandinavian or European ones, even though I’m Norwegian.

rkirk (Metternich/Sellanraa)

I find this interesting, how another country’s politics can capture one’s imagination, since it’s happened to me too.  Ever since I heard about the French Revolution in high school, it’s been my one political reference point.  My ultimate question in every fight is, “Who are the Girondins, who are the Jacobins, and who are the Bourbon restorationists?”  This has remained constant even as I’ve moved to the Right and the French faction with whom I identify has changed.  Any political fight that I can’t fit into the French Revolutionary matrix, I tend to dismiss as unimportant, a distraction from the true contest for the fate of the world.  Everything important in the past two centuries has been an aspect of the revolution or the reaction to it.  I say “revolution” rather than “revolutions” because in my mind there is only one revolution.  It started in France, was beaten into hibernation, re-erupted in 1848, 1870, 1917, 1949, and on, covering France, Spain, Mexico, Russia, China, Cuba,…

In this, I’m like the Jews, for whom the battle between Nazis and communists is the real, paradigmatic fight, and for whom every year is 1932 Berlin, and the only question is “Who is the next Hitler?”  For me, every year is 1790 Paris.  Of course, I think my pet obsession is more reasonable (but, then, I would, wouldn’t I?) because the ideological heirs of the Jacobins have been active and powerful (never more so than today) ever since the Revolution, while German National Socialism looks to me for all the world like a freakish anomaly, an improbable and short interruption from the main event of Western history, namely the battle between Jacobin atheism and the Catholic Church.

What’s your politcal reference point?

Montaigne on death

…nature compells us to [death].  “Depart,” says she, “out of this world even as you came int it.  The same way you came from death to life, return without passion or amazement from life to death.  Your death is but a piece of the world’s order, and but a parcel of the world’s life.

“Shall I not change this goodly contexture of things for you?  It is the condition of your creation:  death is a part of yourselves:  you fly from yourselves.  The being you enjoy is equally shared between life and death.  The first day of your birth doth as well address you to die as to live.

“Life in itself is neither good nor evil:  it is the place of good or evil, according as you prepare it for them.  And if you have lived one day, you have seen all:  one day is equal to all other days.  There is no other light, there is no other night.  This sun, this moon, these stars, and this disposition, is the very same which your forefathers enjoyed and which shall also entertain your posterity.

“And if the worst happen, the distribution and variety of all the acts of my comedy is performed in one year.  If you have observed the course of my four seasons; they contain the infancy, the youth, the virility, and the old age of the world.  He hath played his part:  he knows no other wiliness belonging to it, but to begin again.  It will ever be the same, and no other.

Make room for others, as others have done for you.  Equality is the chief groundwork of equity; who can complain to be comprehended where all are contained?  So may you live long enough, you shall never diminish anything from the time you have to die:  it is bootless; so long shall you continue in that state, which you fear, as if you had died being in your swadling clothes and when you were suckling.

“…no man dies before his hour.  The time you leave behind was no more yours than that which was before your birth, and concerneth you no more.

“…And if company may solace you, doth not the whole world walk the same path?  Do not all things move as you do, or keep your course.  Is there anything grows not old together with yourself?  A thousand men, a thousand beasts, and a thousand other creatures die in the very instant that you die.”

There you go.  Has death lost its sting for you now?  To be fair, Montaigne says we need to be thinking about death all the time before we really get comfortable with it, and being sick and infirm doesn’t hurt either.  Both Montaigne and Pascal despise the “just don’t think about it” plan.  Instead, we are supposed to face death and figure out a reason why it’s not that bad.  But I’ve never liked reasoning to a predetermined conclusion.  What if death really is that bad?

I’m surprised that Montaigne leaves out something that I suspect gives a lot of people comfort in the face of death:  the prospect of living on, in a sense, in one’s children, extended family, or other community.  I could have easily imagined Nature in that essay rising up and saying, “Here this, man.  When a man dies, his body goes to the earth and his soul to God, but his blood lives in his children, from generation to generation,”  or something like that.  (Try to imagine some prose worthy of Montaigne.)  True, it’s not your own subjectivity, but it means a lot to a lot of people.

This is why I’m always fascinated by science fiction apocalytic stories like On the Beach or Children of Men, where characters have to face the certainty of an end of humanity itself (and, so far as they know, all sentient life in the universe).  How does one not despair in the face of something like that?  I think one would have to take solace in something even more enduring than humanity.  If I were a Platonist, I would turn my thoughts to the eternal Forms that will endure in spite of the absence of material beings to contemplate them.  Not being a Platonist, I would turn my thoughts to God, who contains in Himself all goodness and beauty, and who will surely endure forever in atemporal beatitude.

Review: K. MacDonald’s “Culture of Critique”

The far right is sharply divided on Kevin MacDonald; some think he’s brillant, others that he’s an obsessive nut.  I’ve just finished reading The Culture of Critique, and I lean toward the position that he’s brilliant (with a touch of obsessiveness).  He’s the only author I’ve encountered who more-or-less shares my principles of thinking about Christian-Jewish beliefs, namely

  1. Jews and Christians are separate groups and sometimes have incompatible interests.  This, rather than some inherent evil in Christianity, is the reason why they sometimes fight.
  2. Jews are in widespread agreement about what their interests are (massive immigration, the sexual revolution, marginalization of Christianity), and they are very aggressive in using their considerable influence to promote these interests.

Today, most everyone accepts the double standard–group identity for Jews, individualism for white gentiles–so that it seems like the most natural thing in the world.  Jews can be proud of their heritage, but Christians should be ashamed of their past; Jews demand that gentile countries, but not Israel, open their borders; they promote and preserve their own ethnicity while accusing whites of “racism” for doing the same.  And, of course, they congratulate themselves on their great moral courage when they tell their ethnic enemies to commit suicide.

MacDonald’s main argument in The Culture of Critique is that this double standard is the result of Jewish intellectuals, like Boas, Freud, Adorno, and Horkheimer, who consciously saw their theories as weapons to discourage gentile group solidarity and prevent antisemitism.  The chapters are of uneven quality, so I will focus on what I think are MacDonald’s strongest examples:  psychoanalysis and the Frankfurt School’s study of “authoritarianism”.  Although posing as science, neither meets scientific standards of clarity and empirical falsifiability.  Both operated from the beginning more like cults than open-minded investigations, with predetermined ethno-political prejudices determining how the “data” was to be manipulated. 

MacDonald’s critique of The Authoritarian Personality is absolutely devastating, worth the price of the book in itself.  Not only did the double standards abound–group cohesion is a sign of a warped psyche when gentiles and right-wingers do it, but not Jews or communists–but in crucial places the book asserts the exact opposite of what its evidence shows!  The authors claim to have proven that filial piety and in-group identification (“ethnocentrism”) are the products of psyches wounded by authoritarian parenting.  Not surprisingly, their interviews seem to indicate otherwise, the “ethnocentric” subjects, having stern but loving parents, tended to be happier and more successful by any measure.  But in the upside-down world of psychoanalysis, everything is the opposite of what it seems.  Expressions of affection and gratitude toward parents mean that the subject is consumed by hidden fear and resentment.  Stories of neglect, abuse, and estrangement are a sign of a fundamentally healthy parent-child relationship, because the subject is confident enough to be honest.  And so on.  MacDonald quotes perhaps a dozen jaw-dropping examples of this sort of reasoning.  Overall, it would seem one could more easily cite this data as evidence that low enthnocentrism is an artifact  of teenage rebellion resulting from bad parenting.  Except that the American Jewish Committee wouldn’t have sponsored a study with that conclusion.

MacDonald’s background in evolutionary sociobiology gives him an interesting perspective here.  He claims that psychoanalysis and the sexual revolution both have the effect of discouraging adaptive behavior that would help gentiles in their competition with Jews for resources.  In particular, sexual libertarianism undermines monogomy and high-investment parenting by gentiles, leaving them a mess of broken families and poorly-raised children.  Of course, Jews too will be affected this way, but MacDonald speculates that their higher IQ means they don’t need as much social pressure/support to avoid self or child-destructive behavior.  Note MacDonald doesn’t say that Jewish intellectuals deliberately set out to destroy gentile families.  Their behavior has been guided by normal out-group negative stereotyping of majorities.  (Indeed, MacDonald quotes a number of prominent Jewish intellectuals on the genetic and ethical superiority of Judaism which are so outrageously prejudiced against gentiles that they are inadvertently comic.)

In the conclusion, MacDonald speculates on the long-term consequences of high-IQ ethnic minorities (Jews and East Asians) for Western civilization.  Jews comprise some 20% of the American elite, and control a corresponding fraction of the economy, but they donate several times as much money to ethnic-related activism than gentiles, meaning that Jewish support is the dominant influence on issues of high Jewish interest, such as immigration and abortion.  In a meritocratic, individualistic society, the ambitious and intelligent Jews and Asians will rise to the top; white gentiles will form a powerless lower class, riven by family breakdown, ruled over by an ethnically alien elite that despises them.  MacDonald does not think that white gentiles will embrace this fate willingly, so he predicts an ugly ethnic balkanization of Western countries.

The book is not without flaws.  MacDonald is given to the sort of reductionism common among evolutionary psychologists.  He sometimes seems to think that because Leftist radicalism has served Jewish interests, it is essentially nothing but Jewish self-seeking.  In fact, I think things like multiculturalism and Freudo-Marxism, whatever their origins, have by now taken on a life of their own.  Also, MacDonald seems to accept in his discussions of Boasian cultural relativism and American immigration reform that loyalty to an ethnic group requires one to believe in significant phenotype differences between races.  In fact, this is no more true for an ethnicity than it is for a family.  MacDonald himself seems to have some attachment to Western caucasians, even though we are, by his admission, genetically inferior to the Jews in just about every way that matters.  Critics of MacDonald say that he tends to reduce everything he doesn’t like to Jewish machinations.  There may be something to that, but it isn’t a problem here, when he’s writing a book about Jewish intellectual activism.

To sum up:  Christians should not resent Jews for being loyal to their own kind and pursuing what they see as their interests.  This is what we should expect them to do.  We should, however, start showing some concern for our own interests.

Ironies of history: Paul Blanshard was right

Catholicism did destroy American freedom, but not the way Blanshard expected.  He thought that vast numbers of Catholics with reactionary beliefs would impose their authoritarian popery on the rest of the country.  In fact, Catholics in America completely surrendered to the Leftist zeitgeist and became a model wedge minority for the Democratic Party, giving progressives the support they needed to wipe out America’s Protestant social mores and impose today’s centralized therapeutic State.

The sad story of American Catholicism illustrates an important truth–all immigrant groups quickly become tools of the Left, regardless of their behavior in their native lands.  It’s always in the interests of newcomers for there to be no cohesive common culture in the host country.  Muslims, for example, are reliable communist voters in some European countries, if I remember correctly.  If anyone could have resisted this rule, it would have been the Catholics:  rigidly hierarchical and dogmatic, possessing an elaborate intellectual heritage in opposition to liberalism, and with a clergy that fought the instrumentation of Catholics by the Left at every turn.  All to no avail.  When the show-down finally came between Rome and the Kennedys over the latter’s abortion and lechery promotion, the vast majority of Catholics sided with the Kennedys and other heretics, with the authority of the church being discarded as carelessly as one might discard a used kleenex.  Oh, the sweet springtime of Vatican II!

And so here is the biggest irony:  Catholics were no threat to Protestant America as long as they remained aloof and scornful of other religions; it was only when they decided to assimilate and bow before the world that they became a useful tool for the majority culture’s destruction.

Margaret Sanger’s scheme to subvert Protestantism

Allan Carlson has a great article on Touchstone–the most complete telling of the collapse of the (liberal) Protestant churches’ opposition to contraception that I have seen.  As Carlson tells it, birth control was, until the 1920s, as abhorrent to Protestants as to Catholics.  Then birth control advocates, particularly Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, succeeded in manipulating prominent clergymen into the pro-contraception camp through eugenics advocacy (“How else can we keep the unfit from spreading their genes?”) and anti-Catholic demagogy (“How dare those Catholic tyrants tell us free-thinking Protestants what to do in our marriage beds!”, ignoring the fact that it was Protestants, not Catholics, who made America’s anti-contraceptive laws and social mores).  I am still perplexed that the collapse of opposition to birth control happened so suddenly.  In 1931, the Federal Council of Churches of Christ (an American ecumenical Protestant body) endorsed contraception, in a complete reversal from earlier that same year.  Member bodies protested vigorously, but then quickly fell into line.  The only holdouts, besides the Catholics, were the fundamentalists.  Carlson finds surprising evidence that, while liberal Protestants bought into the ugliest forms of anti-Catholicism, the fundamentalists showed a generous appreciation for the pope’s moral witness.

So, for me, the lesson is that liberal Protestants are more easily manipulated by anti-Catholic bigotry than fundamentalists.  Catholics thinking about how to focus their ecumenical energies should take note.

Beware allies who use “religion” as an insult

At Alternative Right:

What is Egalitarianism? There is no use in trying to define it as some cogent and definable set of beliefs.  It is rather a tumor in the mind of the collective body of Western man, diffuse at the extremities and interconnected with an infinite number of outlying elements—some of which, ironically enough, are actually shared with various elements of Rightist thought. However, the center of the tumor is thick with notions of the overarching equality of men, the outright rejection of even the possibility of natural differences between human populations, convictions of the inherent evil of Whites and especially of white men, sentiments of the moral superiority of colored races and of women, support for the uses of state power to correct inequality wherever it may be found—as its presence can only be the result of the abuses of appropriately colored or sexually oriented groups by the aforementioned white, heterosexual men, conviction in the unquestionable good of “freedom” and “democracy,” the importance of tolerance and cultural relativism, and lastly, the firm belief in Progress and the perfectibility of the temporal world. The logical incongruities obvious to even the casual reader between most of these notions—e.g. the idea that all races can at once be completely equal, while at the same time, Whites can be more evil than the others—do not hinder the true believer in the least. Indeed, the faith in these principles, regardless of their inability to coexist in a coherent philosophy, is one of the first indicators of the religious nature of this system of beliefs.

I’m sorry, but why does he say that self-contradiction is a characteristic feature of a religious belief system?  Of all the religions I can think of–Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, Hellenic or Germanic paganism–I can’t think of any that require the believer to hold mutually-contradictory beliefs.  In such a system, it would be logically impossible for one to be orthodox.  If, as the author also claims, religious believers are such diligent heresy-hunters, it seems hard to believe that the impossibility of defining accepted beliefs wouldn’t cause insuperable problems pretty quickly.

I’m all for insulting egalitarianism, but calling it a “religion” isn’t an insult.  What one should say is that egalitarianism is analogous to religion in that it can serve as a myth–a belief that legitimizes a social order and delegitimizes its opponents.  Myths can be good or bad, true or false.  Every society needs at least one.  It so happens that egalitarianism is a very bad one.

Predictions of religion’s extinction

From a couple of places, I’ve been pointed to this BBC report on a study predicting the immanent extinction of religion in Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.  I think the basic assumption behind the model–that people are attracted to high-status beliefs, and having lots of adherents is a plus for a belief system’s status–is quite reasonable.  I note that it would refute the commonly-asserted claim that ideological pluralism is a society’s natural state.  In fact, it would seem to be unstable.  Any time one belief gets an edge over others, the advantage will tend to snowball.

Another useful aspect of the study is that it tells believers exactly what they have to do to survive.  The model assumes everyone interacts with each other equally, so if believers congregate in their own communities, the model breaks down.  (In fact, I expect it would predict the quick demise of secularism in the regions where religious believers concentrate.)

A final issue to raise:  if religion is really headed for extinction in the Western world, how are the atheists going to maintain their customary hysteria, their all-consuming fear that we’re in such terrible danger of being brought back to the “Dark Ages”?  They may be forced to adjust themselves to contentment.