capitalism is the void

The Left attacks religion, and religion withers.  The Left attacks sexual mores, and they collapse.  The Left attacks capitalism, and it grows ever stronger.  What’s the difference?

What people mean when they say “capitalism” is not trade, production, investment of profits, corporate organization, but the absence of anything else.  What disturbs us about the most inhuman of commodifications, prostitution, is not the presence of sex and money (which are also involved in a marriage), but the absence of anything else.  “Capitalism” is one word that the discontented use to name the void, the encroaching social desert.  Insofar as it is negative, it advances with all of the Left’s other campaigns against constrictive social order.  And insofar as it is negative, the Left’s usual attacks are entirely ineffective against it.

Jewish questions

What to do about anti-semitism?  In another world, I might suggest a campaign of philo-semitic and anti-Christian messages, making criticism of Jews as a group off limits on peril of social ostracism, disemployment, and media defamation, and censorship.  In this world, however, we’ve already pushed far enough down those roads that going farther will likely give minuscule returns.  The people who aren’t convinced already won’t be won over by more of this.

I don’t claim that things would be better for the Jews if society were more relaxed about criticism or animosity toward them.  It could be that, given their prominence in so many fields and their distinct moral light that they feel obliged to shine unto us, what they have now is the best the diaspora can hope for.  At least, this should always be kept in mind when the impulse emerges to “do something”.

What is the proper Christian attitude toward our Elder Brothers?  Neither hatred nor pity, but admiration and a determination to emulate those who have proven to be our superiors.  For in our competition and cultural clashes with them, they have proven overwhelmingly our superiors in determination, courage, intelligence, and initiative.  How else could they have triumphed so thoroughly?  What’s more, while we Christians talk about the Benedict Option, the Orthodox Jews have made it work.  If our goal is to become the Jews of the modern world (both in the biblical sense of an exile people with a mission from God and–especially!–in the anti-semitic conspiracy sense of a lethally-intelligent force of subversion against the dominant culture), then we must study them and perhaps copy aspects of their organization and psychological profile.  I suspect that, when we set aside the “passive victims” and “soulless usurers” stereotypes, we will find that we can learn a great deal from this remarkable people.

I was watching Chariots of Fire again the other day.  God, how much better Anglo-Saxon culture was a hundred years ago!  Anyway, it’s striking that the Jew Harold Abrahams is about as assimilated and successful as one could hope for–the best-case scenario, really–and he’s still seething with resentment.  Being a minority just does that to you.  I feel the same way as a Christian in academia, even though I also cannot complain of ever having been concretely wronged.  But this resentment, this urge to prove oneself against the majority, can be extremely useful to a sufficiently talented minority.  I hope there are some Catholics coming through the pipeline, twenty years younger and much more talented than me, who are also filled with anger and insecurity.

We are the subversives now.  Attack!

More culling

I’ve done another round of culling, removing low-interest recent posts.

flexing their social muscles

I remember when Donald Trump was elected, and for a while after the Yahoo news aggregator was filled with articles about lowly people–teachers, policemen, and the like–being fired for racism.  The charge of racism was always contrived (criticism or impoliteness toward a black person or a group that included some black people), but the point was made.  “Don’t imagine that this electoral theatre makes any difference.  We are still in power here.”  Around the same time (but less concentrated around the election), the was a spate of articles about people (school principles, policemen) being fired and ostracized for criticizing the immodest dress of teenage girls.  The message was again one of power–“Don’t dare enforce any of your local standards of propriety against women, or we will destroy you.”  Those cases of Trump officials being kicked out of restaurants and the like is the sort of thing one only does if one senses that the social hierarchy has one’s back.

In the wake of the Kavanaugh confirmation to the Supreme Court, we have once again a formal victory of the center-Right, which one could now say formally controls all branches of the federal government.  Again, it is stunning how this corresponds to no social power whatsoever.  It’s Mr. Kavanaugh’s supporting senators who are getting screamed at and being targeted by donors.  Myself, I cannot understand the strength of emotion on either side of that issue.  To me,  Kavanaugh’s guilt or innocence is clearly a disputable question, one on which reasonable people may disagree.  Then again, I would say the same about the exact value of the total climate feedback parameter and the exact body count of the Holocaust, so clearly I’m weird.  That’s not the point, though.  The point is which side feels sufficient control of the social space to feel free to express their anger.  Is there anyone who needs be afraid to admit that he or she opposed Kavanaugh?  In an alternate universe in which the Right held social power, I would expect us to scream and bully.  People do what they know they can get away with.

Similarly, I am struck by the recent affirmation of the Left by Taylor Swift and disassociation from the Right by Linus Torvald.  Their political beliefs are not themselves matters of intrinsic interest, but in both cases we have well-known people who have long been under criticism and pressure for so long staying out of politics, so regardless of their personal beliefs, one has the impression of powerful people caving.  The message:  “Neutrality will not be tolerated.”

I am vaguely worried to learn that the scientific collaboration of which I am a part will soon be adopting a code of conduct.  I have no objection to the thing as written, since it only requires that we treat each other professionally, but I’m well aware that the up-and-coming graduate students and postdocs read these things differently than I and my older colleagues.   Regardless of what they say, these things can come to serve as markers of ownership of social space, and Leftists have a way of redefining professionalism and civility to include acquiescence to their ideology.  I expect that my position in the collaboration will ultimately become untenable, but that I have several years to design a fully independent research program.  I’ve been wanting to do this anyway, and since I’ve got tenure I’m not terribly worried.

While on the subject of tenure and tenure-track positions, I’ve noticed that more assistant professor applications are requiring diversity statements in addition to research and teaching statements.  Neutrality will not be tolerated.

The goal of the Benedict Option is to own social space by retreating and creating it since conquering existing space is currently unfeasible.

Cardinal Cupich’s tragic dilemma

You remember how it used to be in the news that some guy in the West would announce that he’s going to burn a Koran, then the Muslim world would go ape-shit, and we would roll our eyes at those excitable Muslims?  Well now some Catholics in Chicago have burned a rainbow flag, and the gay flag is our Koran, so the priest has gone into hiding like the Islam-critics of a decade ago, and his bishop wants to send him to the nuthouse.

Father Kalchik is right, of course.  That flag in a church is an abomination that should be destroyed.  And what about Cardinal Cupich?  Conservative Catholics were quick to point out that prelates never bestir themselves so energetically for any of our concerns.  But I suspect that Cupich also is motivated by true beliefs.  He knows that it is his job to protect the Church.  He knows that if he didn’t condemn the flag burning, then by the next day lay Catholics would have burned down every church in Chicago, for sodomy is their true god and they will tolerate no blasphemy against it.  “…better that one man should die than the whole nation be destroyed…”  Even his claim that Father Kalchik must be crazy and should be locked up–although it sounds creepily Orwellian–might be partly an attempt to protect him from mob violence.  “Leave him alone.  The guy’s out of his mind.”  Or maybe Cupich really is in cahoots with the pro-homosexuals.  The homosexual lobby (inside but especially outside the Church) is so powerful, it’s impossible to tell those who truly agree with it from those who are trying to protect something from its wrath.

What can I say?  It sucks for your enemies to control the culture.  If we laity want to do something, this would be the thing to try to change.

confession of a defender of clericalism

I am a clericalist Catholic–the only clericalist Catholic, it would seem!  If it is true, as every Catholic but me says, that clericalism is the Church’s main problem, then perhaps everyone should agree that I personally am the cause of the Church’s last half-century of woes.  Everyone is hunting for the great beast of clericalism but is unable to find it in concrete form.  Search the college of bishops, the Vatican curia, the pope himself, and everyone you meet will sincerely pronounce himself a passionate anticlerical.  It’s a funny anticlericalism that has overtaken the Catholic world.  Tell me, are you of the party who hope to be delivered from clericalism by Pope Francis or of the party who hope to be delivered from it by Archbishop Vigano?  Either way, you’re not exactly Robespierre yet.  And I am your man, the one you have been hunting.  The last, the only clericalist.

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Cross post: an appropriate setting to end our little drama

Reading about the final exploits of “Sky King” Richard Russell, I was reminded of a fad in mid-20th century drama, when existentialism was all the rage, of characters doing crazy things just to prove their freedom, or something like that.  For example, Sartre’s Orestes and Anouilh’s Antigone cause havoc just for the hell of it.  (The myths had to be reworked to make less sense.)  Dostoevsky arguably got there first, but he knew it was foolishness, and Raskolnikov ultimately repents his ultimately pointless murder.  In existentialism’s heyday, it was always assumed that asserting one’s freedom from all socializing and internalized expectations, sticking it to the bourgeois social order, means aligning with the Left.  Indeed, the inspiration is liberal, but there has always been some irony to the pose.  First, the incoherence of determinist materialists fretting about their freedom.  Second, that they thought they could assert their autonomy by aligning themselves with that great impersonal machine, the Direction of History and Progress, and most often with Soviet tyranny as well.

Men of the Right are understandably touchy about accusations of “LARPing” for long-defeated causes.  Still, there is more than a bit of Don Quixote in every true reactionary.  Why deny it?  The knight of La Mancha couldn’t stop history from moving past the age of knight-errantry, but he could resist being carried along in its flow.  He was only crazy because he was serious.

Jean Raspail published The Camp of the Saints in 1973, a story of Western civilization unwilling to defend itself, virtue-signaling itself to death.  It is best known for its cynical portrayal of Leftist humanitarianism, of the hatred and cowardice beneath its facade of compassion.  Raspail does sometimes read like an irate Alt Right blogger of 2018, but that’s not his fault; reality has plagiarized him.  I find, though, that his treatment of the few Right wing characters is what has stuck in my mind.  A Leftist hero may die for the victory of his ideology.  A Rightist hero often lacks an ideology.  He has loyalties, things that he loves, and things he disdains.  And victory is usually not a possibility.  His fighting and dying make no difference in the grand scheme of things.  He is in some ways much more like an existentialist hero than his adversaries.  (Spoilers follow.)

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