More on pseudonymity

It’s come up on a comment thread at the Orthosphere what big professional risks Richard Cocks and Thomas Bertonneau are taking by blogging there under their real names.  I do admire their courage and the sacrifices they have made and will make, but I still don’t plan on joining them.  Not even if I get tenure.

Avoiding job risk is not my main reason, although it’s a perfect valid one for anyone to consider.  We all avoid danger unless there’s a strong reason not to.  But doesn’t the movement gain by having successful, prestigious people dare to identify it?  Perhaps, but I don’t have any particularly high status to lend.

One big issue for an academic in deciding whether to go public is whether his dissent from liberalism is connected to his academic work, to his research or teaching.  I gather that for Bertonneau and Cocks there is a connection, so that to remain concealed, they would have to obfuscate their thoughts and not write as accurately or wisely as they could.  In my case, there’s no connection, and I would prefer my students to think of me as “Mr. Astronomy” with no outside opinions.  Being a conservative, I know the discomfort that comes from knowing one is part of a group that one’s professor hates.  In liberal-speak, I’m creating a “safe space”, although I would prefer to say that I’m avoiding a distraction.

Also, the other Orthosphere writers, especially Kristor and Prof. Bertonneau, write on very abstract issues of metaphysics and aesthetics.  I often can’t follow them myself.  I write a lot about sex, which is where the fights in the Church unfortunately are right now.  There’s always the danger, when one writes about how X really is a sin that readers will assume the writer is setting himself up as morally superior to people who do X.  I’d hate for people to think that in writing this blog I’m presenting myself as a model of chastity when I’m nothing of the sort.  In fact, I’m not presenting myself at all.  By using a pseudonym, I’m inviting everyone to assume I’m a child molesting serial killer, and that my arguments are to stand alone and be judged on their own merit.

Why do I keep writing blog posts this morning?  Because I’m supposed to be writing a proposal, and I absolutely hate doing that.  I guess I can’t put it off any more though.

33 Responses

  1. I agree. One of the things about pseudonymity is that the focus is 100% on the ideas being discussed. Naturally, elements of personality inevitable filter through, and that’s a good thing. But pseudonymity keeps a whole lot of distractions away.

  2. If we’re trying to create an internet discussion group that will never have anything of value in the real world to show for it, you’re absolutely right, there’s no benefit to attaching real names to the pseudonyms.

    But if there’s to be any possibility of reaction having any real world success, I don’t see how this can be accomplished without real life individuals publicly supporting it.

  3. Yes, we’re creating an internet discussion group. It’s the most we can do.

  4. And what is the purpose of that?

  5. clarity of thought

  6. Ok, so we all think clearly, and then what?

  7. Then we can sit on the corner begging, with clear thinking.

  8. ArkansasReactionary: you’re so keen, you go first.

  9. To what extent is academia actually intolerant of non-liberalism? Speaking as a former student (tho not as a professor), I have had quite a few professors, including a few avowed leftists, who were great fans of reactionary thinkers like De Maistre and George Fitzhugh. To what extent does this interest in reactionary thought translate into tolerance of reactionary academics? Could someone like you find a niche as the faculty’s token reactionary thinker, perhaps appreciated for the sheer novelty of it?

  10. @Minion

    No, that’s not a likely outcome. Most likely, the effect of becoming know for being a reactionary is that you would be, gradually or quickly, frozen out of your chosen field. Thus, though you would remain a de jure academic, you would have become a de facto non-academic.

    You really can’t be an academic without a community to talk to. The HBD guys remain academics because there is a (small) community of them to talk to one another. OTOH, their ideas are kept out of the social sciences because buying in to them puts one firmly outside the conversation.

  11. I should add that studying reactionaries and being reactionary are not similar. Orkin employs a lot of etymologists.

  12. For pity’s sake, entomologist.

  13. The only point I can see in us being able to clarify our own thinking is to try to push our clear thought into mainstream opinion. We’re already thinking clearly, which is why we’re here. If that’s all there is to it we might as well go home.

  14. Trying to “push clear thought into mainstream opinion” is self-undermining. The seeds of truth are worth sowing for their own sake. To the extent they fall on fertile ground, they will germinate and grow. To the extent they fall on barren ground they won’t. Mass media, industry, and public ‘relevance’ are barren ground.

    Me, I’m just a digger. People who have worldly ambition to become Really Important People in the Great Reaction are invited to talk to God about their vocation.

  15. We’re missing a lot of fertile ground in only speaking the truth on one small corner of the internet. If people can be, for example, convinced that homophobia, something no one had ever heard of twenty years ago, is some great big sin, then they could certainly be convinced that, say, usury is, if they were told loudly enough. And even if they weren’t convinced, if the left had to fight monarchists it wouldn’t have time to advance whatever it is that comes after sodomy.

  16. Show us how it is done.

  17. @Zippy @AR

    Show us how it is done.

    Maybe? It’s trending in the reactosphere currently anyway.

  18. @Zippy

    It’s done by pushing it through relentless political activism.

    @buckinky

    I must be missing it, as I don’t see the relevance of that video.

  19. Show, don’t tell.

  20. Well to be fair the intrinsic immorality of usury doesn’t exactly make good song-writing material.

  21. I must be missing it, as I don’t see the relevance of that video.

    It’s a different approach than simply talking about things on the internet, and their message is reactionary-resonant.

    I was more tongue-in-cheek than anything, as I’m not very fond of what I’ve seen of their work. Women on a Mission have a very difficult time shedding harpiness, and from what I see, they don’t succeed in doing it, if indeed that’s even a concern of theirs.

  22. If the singing girls are pretty enough the lyrics don’t have to be too clever.

    “They confuse us about usury …

    by treating a personal guarantee …

    as if it were someone’s property …

    and charging us a rental fee …

    now this is modern slavery …

    lalalalalalala trolololo …”

  23. “We have found that using chicks…

    is the optimal way to make the message stick…

    Tralalalalala…..”

  24. Zippy, that wasn’t terrible.

  25. I hereby release those lyrics into the public domain, haha!

  26. […] Those Vogons have got nothing on me.  I blame this on Bonald. […]

  27. What would the activism look like? We pick an issue? Usury or, as I would prefer, blue laws. Then we set up a foundation for usury education (FUE, pronounced “foo”). And we have conferences and invite anti-usury politicians to come speak. And etc. We try to entice journalists to write stories about the horrors of debt slavery? We have the usury blog where we tell horror stories of debt slavery and post pictures of the mansions bought by usurers?

    Are we trying to get usury made illegal? If so, we would be best advised to argue contra usury via harm-based arguments—usury makes poor people suffer, makes poor people poorer, and makes rich scumbags richer. But that’s not really our argument against usury, and even if we won on the political point, we would lose since nobody’s thinking would change.

    So, I guess we would have to argue against usury using our arguments. In which case we would look like lunatics. Which wouldn’t be new but also wouldn’t likely get us anywhere.

    It’s the same thing with blue laws, of course. One would be tempted to argue for them on harm grounds—there needs to be a day on which virtually nobody works in order for families and communities to be able reliably to plan family and community activities. The absence of such a day is harmful to families and communities. But that’s not really why we’re in favor of blue laws. It’s pretty much “because God said.”

    I’m not a fan of political activism for us. I think quietism and Amish Catholicism is the right approach. But, what would the activism that I’m rejecting look like?

  28. Having been a female on the internets for a really long time (and to this day still assumed to be a man quite frequently), I find pseudonymity to not really matter. People will make assumptions about your persona whether it’s tied to your SSN or not. There is no glorious abstract internetopia where “ideas are judged on their merits alone”.

    I don’t mind if people want to muddy the waters, I think given the mob mentality so many have you should always make it a little hard, but the interesting (and outed quickly) pseudonym fravia (a college professor no less) had a point that you can’t really hide yourself in a persona without more effort than most can expend on the matter. Bits of your real self (enough to narrow down who you are without IP/technical tricks) will always come through.

    That is, the risk is already set when you hit publish or make a comment.

  29. I don’t think we should pick just one issue, might as well present our whole program as one. Yes we’d be trying to get things like usury, unnecessary business on Sunday, etc. illegal, and I don’t see what’s wrong with making harm-based arguments provided that they are in fact valid. Usury does allow people to make money they don’t deserve to make, at the expense of those who are least able to pay. You point out that people wouldn’t understand the ultimate reasons we’re against it, but I doubt that the average medieval peasant understood why precisely it was wrong either. For the general public, I think it’s enough that they understand that it isn’t a legitimate means of making money. And the law, as a codification of social mores, also affects those mores, so if usury were illegal people would come to see it as not being a legitimate way of making money.

    With blue laws it’s even easier, there needs to be a day on which virtually nobody works in order for families and communities to be able reliably to plan family and community activities, and God said that day should be Sunday. Also, having an organized movement supporting all our positions would bring those that are far beyond the Overton window (e.g. Monarchy) closer to it by virtue of their association in the public mind with positions for which broad appeal could be garnered. And even without actually accomplishing our goals, simply putting them into the Overton window itself would benefit society.

  30. To be fair, if my name was Dick Cocks, I probably wouldn’t use a pseudonym either.

  31. Activism is futile. By even considering “activism”, you’re buying into the myth of “democracy” and the “marketplace of ideas”. The reality is that the world is ruled by brutal force—always has been. These myths are just wallpaper to make daily life under the global dictatorship bearable. As soon as you make any headway, they’ll come at you with everything they’ve got: character assassination, all kinds of emotional rhetoric, harrassment, the law, thug squads, war, nuclear bombs. The only way to change the world order is by overthrowing it wholesale. And don’t make any mistake about it: you’ll need to be as ruthless and cunning as they are. It’s not clear that the current type of world order is not the only possible one. We may live in the best of all possible worlds. (Or do you think that the world will say: Oh, a good guy is taking the lead, let’s be his obedient followers.) I believe that all we can strive for is to be at the top of the pyramid ourselves. But that requires unseating the guys that are there now, and they ain’t no pussycats.

    Any reaction necessarily has to be clandestine, a conspiracy. Build an underground network. But people like us, who have any clue, are few and far between; I haven’t yet run into anyone who seemed to be at all inclined to discuss these things, let alone start a movement.

    Of course, even the notion of starting an underground movement is grandiose. The secrecy required would be extreme: any SJW that would get a whiff would report you as a nazi. Good luck finding a wife that wants in. Good luck raising your children the way you want; they’re more likely to report you.

    So: best to keep it in the pseudonysphere, and in real life to stick to astronomy, or whatever you chosen pastime is.

  32. […] from Bonald, problem #4,126 with America’s tertiary education system. And… More on pseudonymity. tl;dr? “Hell, […]

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