Guilt and shame

Liberals talk about “white America’s shameful history of…”  Conservatives sometimes reply that liberals have a problem with “guilt”.  This is one case where I think liberals are using words more correctly.  In common usage, guilt is something you feel about what you did, and shame is something you feel about what you are.  For example, I may feel guilty for abandoning my friend in his hour of peril, but I feel ashamed of my cowardice.  Many have questioned whether it is really possible for whites to feel guilty over things like slavery and segregation that they personally had no part in.  Indeed, it is not.  However, anything that forms a significant part of one’s identity can be a fit cause for pride or shame.  If we can identify with our ancestors, we can feel ashamed of them.

However, this is an impious and wicked attitude.

But are there not particular acts for which the liberals hold whites to be an accursed race?  Certainly we are to be ashamed, but is that not because we are guilty of specific things?  No:  most races have practiced slavery at one time or another, and all peoples have segregated themselves (this being necessary to develop as a distinct people), but no other race is held to be perpetually guilty the way we are.  Our sins are held to touch our essence in a way that does not hold for other peoples.  Oppression and bigotry are not regarded as a deformation of our race, not even a deformation to which we are particularly prone, but the core principles of our cultures.  They don’t say that the white race engages in a conspiracy to oppress other races; they say the white race is a conspiracy to oppress other races.  Thus it is that acts to which we would attribute minor moral importance if committed by other races (e.g. having a perception of beauty that favors our own women, having a history that largely centers around men of our own race, “white flight”:  having a tendency to flee neighborhoods to protect our children from the violence of other races who are taught to hate us) are in whites seen as manifestations of the essential wickedness of our race.  The importance of the act is entirely in what it reveals.


It does seem that the sodomites have totally claimed that word, doesn’t it?  If I see a poster saying something like “American and Proud”, I no longer expect it to be a piece of patriotic chest-thumping; I expect it’s going to be about Americans who are gay.  This is all for the best, because I believe that pride really is their key sin.  They’re not called “gay lust parades” for a reason.  Succumbing to sensuality is in itself a sin of weakness, an unfortunate but understandable and human thing.  But standing in public and bold defiance of human nature is a thing akin to what the fallen angels do.  Let us therefore embrace our role as the party of humility, of those who conform to the given meanings of reality.

Is racial profiling of groups rational?

Here’s something I definitely wouldn’t talk about at the Orthosphere.

Many liberals have pointed out that just because most terrorists are Muslims doesn’t mean that most Muslims are terrorists.  Also that just because blacks are heavily overrepresented among violent criminals doesn’t mean that the average black you pass on the street is likely to be a violent criminal.  P(A|B) =/= P(B|A), and all that.  Therefore, profiling is irrational.  This is a good argument, and I even agree with it as far as it goes, but Leftists had better not lean too heavily on it.  After all, most contentious racial issues involve large groups of people.  Should we settle a thousand black refugees here?  Should we bus in a hundred inner city black kids there?  Whatever irrationality there is in attributing the group’s average to a random sampling of its members goes down with the square root of the number of those members.  Bring in a lot of disproportionately violent people (even when the probability that any given one of them is violent is well under 0.5) and you will have a violent crime problem, one that can fundamentally alter your neighborhood.

Now, I point this out just to be mischievous, because nobody really cares.  For Leftists, smashing white communities is an absolute moral imperative, and they don’t care what suffering it causes.  I also don’t think much about crime or other antisocial behavior because I’m a pretty radical particularist.  I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to let one’s home be swamped with cultural outsiders, no matter how well-behaved they are.  If it’s cultural preservation one is interested in, letting in a small number of cultural Marxist intellectuals can cause far more damage than letting in a large number of lowlifes.

Jellyfish taking over!

Now this is how to popularize science!  Not by scolding us for failing to see how tragically misunderstood sharks and black holes are.  Kids don’t go into science because they want to fight prejudice; they go into science because they want to see monsters.  And here you have it:  an ancient menace, held in check for a half billion years by the brotherhood of post-Cambrian life, now on the move again and carrying all before it.

In Stung!  On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean, biologist Lisa-ann Gershwin argues that after half a billion years of quiescence, they’re on the move:

If I offered evidence that jellyfish are displacing penguins in Antarctica—not someday, but now, today—what would you think? If I suggested that jellyfish could crash the world’s fisheries, outcompete the tuna and swordfish, and starve the whales to extinction, would you believe me?

They can’t be killed!

The question of jellyfish death is vexing. If jellyfish fall on hard times, they can simply “de-grow.” That is, they reduce in size, but their bodies remain in proportion. That’s a very different outcome from what is seen in starving fish, or people. And when food becomes available again, jellyfish simply recommence growing. Some individual jellyfish live for a decade. But the polyp stage survives pretty much indefinitely by cloning. One polyp colony started in 1935 and studied ever since is still alive and well in a laboratory in Virginia.

One kind of jellyfish, which might be termed the zombie jelly, is quite literally immortal. When Turritopsis dohrnii “dies” it begins to disintegrate, which is pretty much what you expect from a corpse. But then something strange happens. A number of cells escape the rotting body. These cells somehow find each other, and reaggregate to form a polyp. All of this happens within five days of the jellyfish’s “death,” and weirdly, it’s the norm for the species. Well may we ask of this astonishing creature, “Sting, where is thy death?”

Some of them are really nasty!

It’s now known that the brush of a single tentacle is enough to induce “Irukandji syndrome.” It sets in twenty to thirty minutes after a sting so minor it leaves no mark, and is often not even felt. Pain is initially focused in the lower back. Soon the entire lumbar region is gripped by debilitating cramps and pounding pain—as if someone is taking a baseball bat to your kidneys. Then comes the nausea and vomiting, which continues every minute or so for around twelve hours. Shooting spasms grip the arms and legs, blood pressure escalates, breathing becomes difficult, and the skin begins to creep, as if worms are burrowing through it. Victims are often gripped with a sense of “impending doom” and in their despair beg their doctors to put them out of their misery.

And they’re taking over the oceans!

How could jellyfish take over the ocean? “One bite at a time” Gershwin says. And there may be no way back. A new balance may be struck, one in which jellyfish rule:

We are creating a world more like the late Precambrian than the late 1800s—a world where jellyfish ruled the seas and organisms with shells didn’t exist. We are creating a world where we humans may soon be unable to survive, or want to.

Why now?  It is only natural that Gershwin concentrates on man-made alterations to the environment–that is the obvious new variable.  On the other hand, is it really true that we’ve created conditions not seen for 500 million years?  Certainly not in terms of CO2 concentration and temperature, but I really don’t know how unprecedented ocean ecosphere disruption or swaths of de-oxygenized seawater are.  And can we really be sure that jellyfish eruptions haven’t happened before?

Anyway, this is a very fun article.  As someone who does a bit of science outreach (although in a very different field), I appreciate seeing this sort of thing done well.  Remember, fellow scientists:  we are explorers bringing back tales of monsters.  That’s the ticket.

Throne and Altar resurrected

I take Lydia’s warning about the danger of the Orthosphere being derailed by internet kooks very seriously.  She is certainly right that the urge to shock is something that should not be gratified for its own sake.  That is self-indulgent, and self-indulgence that sabotages spreading the Gospel is a serious matter.  She is also to be applauded for criticizing reactionaries for our arrogance in looking down on mainstream conservatives who are fighting the good fight on abortion and marriage.

This puts me in a bind, though.  I’m clearly the kookiest, most unnecessarily extreme writer for the Orthosphere.  I have worried before that my unrestrained radicalism might be turning some people off who might otherwise have profited from Kristor’s and Alan’s theological writings.  I also realize that my grammar and writing style aren’t up to the standards of the other writers.  Maybe I should just shut up?  No, that won’t work.  I’ve got the blogging itch, and I routinely feel the urge to mouth off on forbidden topics.

So I’ve decided to revive this site and split my output.  This site has about a tenth the readership of the Orthosphere, and no one else’s reputation will be blackened by anything I write here.  Therefore, I will send posts here instead of the Orthosphere if

  1. I am taking a position that I think would not be shared by most of the other Orthosphere contributors
  2. I feel the need to say uncomplimentary things about Democratic client groups
  3. I want to write about something that has nothing to do with Christianity or Reaction
  4. (subset of 3) I want to make a personal announcement
  5. I write something short and sloppy, and I don’t want to take the time to polish it.

The moral perils of trying to overcome racism

Let me first say that I shall be discussing race as a social construct, rather than a biological fact.  A person’s race shall refer to the group of people with whom he identifies, and, most importantly, the group of people he identifies as his ancestors.  Does this mean that I regard biological race as an illusion?  No more than I regard skin color as an illusion.  Race certainly has some biological reality, but morally it’s not a very interesting one.  For my purposes, a person is white if he or she thinks he is white, and everyone around him or her agrees.  And similarly for every other race.  For it is a fact that people–even and especially “anti-racists”–classify others and themselves by race.

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Owning people: a dialogue

Bonald, you’re a terrible person for those comments you wrote on JMSmith’s post.  How can you not see that slavery is seriously wrong?  I mean wrong as in “intrinsically immoral”, not just “not ideal”.

Let me give you another example.  You’ve probably heard that, in very early Rome, the paterfamilias had the power of life and death over those in his household.  I’m not going to bother checking to see if that’s actually true, but let’s pretend it is, because it makes for a good example.  What do you think of this arrangement?

It is horrible, and for the same reason that slavery is horrible.  It treats people like private property rather than images of God.  Don’t tell me you’re going to be defending this barbarous practice now!  I assure you that this will not help your case for slavery!  Aren’t you glad that your father didn’t have the right to kill you when you were young?

Indeed, and I wish my mother had also lacked such a right, but you are jumping to conclusions.  I haven’t said anything to defend the father’s power of life and death.  I’m not going to defend it.  You are.

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