Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Barcelona & the cult

There was some sobering video footage posted on social media of the immediate aftermath of the Barcelona terrorist attack. Unlike the images of candles and flowers and people hugging, this showed very starkly the human toll, including the violence to the bodies of young people.

So what was the reaction of those living in Barcelona? An estimated crowd of 160,000 marched in the street demanding that the government take in more "refugees" - despite the fact that a number of these "refugees" had just carried out an horrific attack on the native Spaniards' own young - on their own sons and daughters.

The Barcelona March


And then I saw a footage of another leftist demonstration, this time in Boston in the U.S. About 40,000 leftists came out to protest against a free speech rally. There were white demonstrators in the crowd holding up "white people suck" placards.



And the thought occurred to me that the leftists in Barcelona and Boston are committed to a cause that is self-annihilating and that this kind of unhealthy mindset is normally to be found within cults, i.e. a commitment to a cult can be so strong that some adherents will self-annihilate as an act of loyalty to it.

It's not my intention to prove that leftism really is, strictly speaking, a cult. But I do want to follow through, as a thought experiment, with the idea that there might be some cult-like aspects to modern day leftism.

So what is the cult oriented to? I've often given the answer that the aim is a vision of individual freedom, defined as personal autonomy, in which the individual self-defines their own good and their own identity. But I was reading an old discussion thread from VFR, in which Lawrence Auster discusses the nature of leftism, and he hit upon something that is also significant to understanding leftism:
On the right, traditional conservatives believe in “larger wholes”—the realities of nature, society, and God—of race, culture, and religion—that make us what we are. They believe in natural and spiritual hierarchies that are implied in these larger wholes. Inequality is built into existence. Of course there are various kinds of traditional conservatism, each of them placing particular emphasis on certain aspects of the natural, social, and transcendent orders, while downplaying or ignoring others.

In the middle, traditional liberals (right-liberals) believe in individualism: all individuals have equal rights, the individual is free to create himself, he is not determined by the larger wholes into which he was born. We should just see people, all members of the human race, as individuals deserving of equal dignity.

On the left, socialists and Communists, like traditional conservatives, believe in larger wholes, but the wholes they believe in are seen in terms of equality: the whole of society—equal; the whole of the human race—equal. They believe that man has the ability to engineer this larger, equal whole into existence, wiping out the unequal, inherited orders of class, sex, nation, race, religion, morality, and thus creating a New Humanity. Only the largest whole—humankind—is good, because only at the level of all humanity can there be true equality and fraternity uniting all people.

I wouldn't have put it quite like this as leftism still has a commitment to the idea of individuals being free to create themselves. But I think it is true that there is a kind of leftism - particularly middle-class, intellectual, student leftism - which has an image of an end point in history in which there is one, equal, world community. And this is a focal point for the "cult". John Lennon gave voice to the mindset in his song "Imagine":
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

Traditionalists hear this and think it's just mindless, hippie flummery. But what if it really has meaning for leftists - that they really do dream that the "world will be as one" in the terms Lennon describes. If this is the "eschaton" (the end point in world history), and you are committed to it as if part of a cult, then maybe even if open borders lead to the murder of young people in your country, you might still see mass immigration as a larger good, you might redouble your commitment to it as a necessary step to "people sharing all the world" as part of a one world collective.

So, to continue the thought experiment, let's say we have thousands of Westerners, particularly of the student/intellectual/activist type, caught in a one world cult. Can they ever get out? Is escape possible?

It is likely that some of them have misgivings already. And cults often do shed members. But making the jump out isn't necessarily easy. Being on the inside can give individuals a sense of meaning in their lives (of participating in a cause that brings about great and lasting change); it can provide individuals with a sense of fellowship and belonging; it can also provide a sense of status, including moral status (of being one of the elite, the enlightened, the righteous making progressive change).

As it happens, liberalism creates something of a loop for itself here. Liberalism gradually dissolves the usual forms of human fellowship, of moral standards, of status, of identity and belonging, thereby making it even more difficult for adherents to make the leap out.

Given all this, how can we encourage the cult to shed members? I'd like to take a quick look here at how two different strands within the broader alt right are positioned to do this, the two being white nationalists and traditionalists. There is certainly overlap between these two political movements, but there is a critical distinction. White nationalists, as the name suggests, do tend to organise their politics around race. The tendency is to see politics as an expression of racial self-interest. There is also a tendency to look to a race-wide (pan-ethnic) state as an ideal, rather than to the historic nation. Traditionalists, in contrast, see political movements and ideologies themselves as the key battle lines, which is why we often focus on the influence (and the inner logic) of liberalism as a core explanatory factor in what has happened to the West.

At its far end, white nationalism does seem to spill over into a sympathy for national socialism. You can see why this is, as the national socialists of the 30s also made race an organising principle of their politics. National socialism had some cult like elements of its own, such as leader worship, and group loyalty fostered by uniforms, symbols, salutes, mass rallies and so on.

There are white nationalists, particularly in the U.S., who seem to be looking to the "group loyalty" parts of this as a way of attracting and holding support. I can see this working with some people, but not really encouraging the shedding from the liberal cult of those with misgivings, particularly if the uniforms, salutes, symbols and so on play into the received imagery of "white supremacy" - this is likely to reinforce the liberal cult belief that the alternative to the one world utopia is something like the politics of the 1930s. In other words, it is likely to encourage people to draw back into the cult, rather than to jettison it.

We traditionalists have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to creating an alternative to the liberal cult. The strength is the potential appeal of the "tradlife" message that is being presented so effectively by a number of alt right women. Liberals have mocked the "white picket fence" ideal, as well as the "whitebread" ideal of stable, ethnically homogeneous communities. The alt right women are presenting a positive image of family, community and sex distinctions - of the particularisms that the liberal cult wants to destroy. It is a good counterpoint to what the cult promotes, for those with misgivings about the direction of society.

But there is also a weakness to this. If people are shed on this basis from the liberal cult, then many are likely to focus their lives on family and perhaps church and so are lost to political organisation and resistance. Liberals then retain the commanding heights of society.

To put this another way, traditionalists find part of their meaning and belonging in non-political communities like family and church and so are less needy of what others might look for in the political cult.

Even so, we need to achieve political organisation and so we need to create "fellowship" institutions. I believe too that we need to foster an understanding that men fulfil themselves not only in the domestic sphere but also via a civilisational role within the larger community (I suspect that many men who are limited to the domestic sphere do have a sense that there is something missing - that they are not fully engaged in what they were made for.)

Friday, August 18, 2017

After Charlottesville

The American left has managed to seize defeat from the events at Charlottesville. How? By being emboldened to show the world what their vision for the future is. It is an extraordinarily dystopian and ugly vision, in which leftist rancour is directed at "abolishing whiteness" via measures that would not seem out of place in a George Orwell novel.

After Charlottesville there was an intensive media attack on the alt right and a lionising of the left and antifa. But then the left decided to attack not only the alt right but white America itself. The aim is a kind of erasure - the overthrow of a people, its symbols, its history, its future existence.

And so the stark message is that the there is no option but to continue to fight back politically against the left - to resist the future (the non-future) they have planned for us throughout the West.

To get a sense of the way the agenda of the left is now oriented, consider the following visuals. The first is antifa making no secret of what their aim is:



Then there was a rash of leftist crowds bringing down statues of white men, initially Confederate figures, but later any white figures:







There was support for the statue attacks in the leftist media:





It didn't stop at statues:



There was excited talk of white extinction:





If you have a sense of how disfigured the leftist mission is, then it brings into sharper relief the significance of resistance to it. We are now the bearers of the best of the Western tradition. On our shoulders the future of this tradition rests. It is a great undertaking.

Update: leftist media now targeting Walt Disney.



Update 2: And now, predictably, a statue of a Catholic saint has been attacked and there are calls for it to be removed:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Liberals step up abolition of sex distinctions

So liberals believe that we should self-define who we are, which means that predetermined qualities like our sex are thought to be limitations on the self and on our freedom as autonomous individuals to choose freely in any direction. Therefore, sex distinctions have to be made not to matter. Which explains the following news items from the past week.

First, outrage that a toy pram should be marketed to girls with a "play like mum" slogan:




You would think that this was the most innocent and natural thing for young girls to do, but in a liberal society it is a cause of outrage.

Next was a story that the Australian Army is no longer recruiting men. One recruiting officer complained that he now had to try to protect the Army from Canberra.



Then a story hit the press of an English "hate crime" police officer who warned supermarkets that they should change their "feminine hygiene" signs to something sex neutral like "personal hygiene":



Imagine being a supermarket manager and being told that it is a hate crime to display tampons and the like as feminine hygiene products:



Then there is the decision by NSW authorities to implement a 50% quota for women in hiring new fire fighters. To achieve this the physical strength requirements for fire fighters have been drastically reduced:
It wants new recruits to be able to “drag a collapsed firefighter to safety on their own”, yet to accommodate female applicants, the Physical Aptitude Test has been reduced from a 90kg [200lb] dummy drag over 20 metres [66 feet] to the relatively easy task of carrying a 30kg [65lb] weight for 10 metres [33 feet].

The heading:



Another story to make the press was the criticism of shoe company Clarks for selling shoes to girls which had heart patterned insoles in contrast to the boys' shoes which had a football design.



The company has caved in to the criticisms:
The shoe manufacturer has removed the Dolly Babe from its website following "customer feedback" about the name.

"We are working hard to ensure our ranges reflect our gender-neutral ethos," Clarks said.

...Clarks said it was creating more unisex shoes in response to customer feedback and promoting its gender-neutral stance both online and in store.

The issue united both right and left (liberals) in condemning the shoe company:
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative MP for North East Somerset, also criticised Clarks. "To call a pair of shoes for a girl Dolly Babe is dreadful. It's wrong in all sorts of ways ... this is just really silly," he told the BBC.

Carolyn Harris, shadow minister for women and equalities, described the situation as "blatant discrimination", while Sarah Ludford, a Liberal Democrat peer and shadow Brexit minister, called the name choices "depressing".

Finally, there is this:



It's about liberals who believe that people are blank slates and so if children are caught early enough sex distinctions between boys and girls can be eradicated:
At the heart of the BBC programme are claims made by Dr Abdelmoneim that, apart from having different sexual organs, there are no major physical differences between the sexes at the age of seven, and their brains are almost identical.

He concludes that the explanation for why boys act so differently to girls lies in how they are raised, from the toys they are given to the terms of endearment they hear.

Children at one school were subjected to a bizarre liberal experiment:
So, out went the gender-specifics, no more boys-only football matches, books about fairytale damsels in distress and in came the unisex storybooks and mixed sports teams.

The TV production team even went as far as to enforce same-sex toilets, something the class of seven-year-olds protested at loudly.
And this:
In an attempt to bring equality to the classroom, Dr Javid begins by sticking stereotype-breaking affirmations to the walls. “Girls are strong,” one sign reads. “Boys are sensitive,” another says.

This is all so distant from the traditionalist understanding of sex distinctions. We see our individual identity as being closely tied to the fact of being a man or a woman; our sex informs our telos - our life aims and purposes; and at least part of the natural focus of life will be to develop ourselves along masculine or feminine lines, to best fulfil our created nature. So the attempt to suppress, rather than to develop, masculinity in boys and femininity in girls, seems utterly misguided.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Why don't liberals see themselves as the establishment?

We have a liberal establishment and yet liberals generally continue to see themselves as anti-establishment outsiders and rebels.

I was talking to someone at our recent Melbourne Traditionalists meeting who lamented the fact that this left no-one taking responsibility for the larger, long-term health of nation and civilisation. And I think there is much truth to this. Right-liberals are so individualistic that they are often only concerned with what will affect them within the timeframe of their own lives. Left-liberals are often only concerned with the sectional interests of their own identity group (e.g. a white feminist's horizons are often bounded by the professional interests of career women within her own country).

So why do those who dominate the institutions refuse to recognise that they are the establishment? A reader recently noted that liberals deny an order of being:
I have long defined modern liberalism as the denial and the defiance of an immutable natural order of being, which traditionalist conservatism accepts and embraces along with the necessary constraints and trade-offs.

The comment was in response to a post about Karley Sciortino, an American writer with a "fear of normalcy""
Last weekend, I found myself sitting in front of a shaman in a mansion in Berkeley, talking about my commitment problems. You know, cliché white people stuff. “I have this fear,” I told the shaman, “that I’m going to wake up one day with a husband, two kids, a house in the suburbs, and wonder how I got there, as if it’s my destiny.

Liberal moderns like Karley Sciortino aren't able to find meaning in the order of being we find ourselves a part of. It seems too predestined to them, too limiting to their own will. And so they rebel against it, attempt to subvert it. Even when at the helm of society they still have this sense of themselves as rebels and outsiders (particularly true of leftist intellectuals).

So, in the absence of an order of being, where do liberal moderns find meaning? They have to create it themselves ex nihilo, which usually comes down to individual career success, or creative endeavour (writing a book instead of having a baby), or individual status signalling (being politically correct, or belonging to a hip lifestyle group, or supporting some sort of "difficult" avant-garde intellectual or artistic movement).

One last point. I haven't read much about national socialism, but my impression is that they too rejected an order of being and were faced with the task of creating meaning ex nihilo. But they chose a different way of doing it to liberals, via an assertion of will, power, strength and force. That would have given them an advantage in terms of the seizure of power, but a disadvantage when it came to using that power to create a lasting, stable form of society.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Hitchens on the Scandinavian Utopia

I had a couple of readers alert me to a post by Peter Hitchens, in which he reviews a book on the Swedish model of society by Michael Booth. Hitchens praises a particular insight in Booth's book:

But on pages 357 to 360 he produces one of those blinding-light moments that finally link up and solidify long strands of thought.

What is the blinding-light moment? It is that a liberal society aims to make individuals autonomous, by severing the natural connections existing between people, but that this then leaves individuals dependent on the state.

This is not a new insight - I've made the same point many times myself, as have others. But it is expressed well in Hitchens' blog post:
Michael Booth concludes that Swedish Social Democracy 'was driven by one single, over-arching goal; to sever the traditional, some would say natural, ties between its citizens, be they those that bound children to their parents, workers to their employers, wives to their husbands or the elderly to their families. Instead, individuals were encouraged - mostly by financial incentive or disincentive, but also through legislation, propaganda and social pressure - to ‘take their place in the collective’, as one commentator rather ominously put it, and become dependent on the government’.

But he notes that this can also be truthfully described as liberating Swedish citizens from each other allowing them to become autonomous entities.

But of course (and this conclusion is mainly me) they are only autonomous within the embrace of the strong state, which substitutes itself for family, employer and all other social ties, and seizes most of their wealth in return for requiring a loyalty and submission as great as any imposed in feudal times, in return for ‘social protection’. Thus did the peasant whose hovel lay in the shadow of his Lord's castle offer up his fealty in return for safety.

He quotes the Swedish author Henrik Berggren:

‘The Swedish system is best understood not in terms of socialism but in terms of Rousseau…Rousseau was an extreme egalitarian and he really hated any kind of dependence – depending on other people destroyed your integrity, your authenticity – therefore the ideal situation was one where every citizen was an atom separated from all the other atoms…The Swedish system’s logic is that it is dangerous to be dependent on other people, to be beholden to other people. Even to your family’.

Hitchens has another passage following through on this idea. He notes aspects of the decline in British society, such as permissive attitudes to drug use, and writes:
What were all these things about? Why, personal autonomy. Their central slogan was ‘I can do what I like with my own body and nobody can stop me. How dare you tell me what I can do with it?’

The paradox, well understood by Aldous Huxley, is that the person who proudly yells this battle cry also meekly accepts that in return he must surrender his mind, his privacy and his wealth to the power of the parental state.

In Michael Booth’s book, it all came together in an intentional, deliberate pattern. These things are connected. And it is the absence of the Christian conscience which makes them possible, and which is their enemy and rival. The new all-powerful parental state, the war against the married family, the scorn for conscience, the loud demand for personal autonomy and the rage against those who suggest it is in any way limited by morality or law, are all one cause, reborn in the West since the collapse of the USSR and advancing fast on all fronts. I saw it in Moscow and after my return from there, but instinctively. As so often, my instincts were right, and it has taken long years for my understanding and knowledge to catch up with them

There is just one thing I'd like to add to Peter Hitchens' observations. There are traditionalists who instinctively recognise the dynamic that Hitchens describes and who, quite rightly, think it important to uphold non-state institutions like church and family. So they become good churchmen and family men. I don't think this enough. When fathers stand only as individual men, they have little control over the torrent of influence that comes from the larger institutions of society, such as the mass media, the schools and the universities. Defending family or church requires organising together as fathers to shape the larger institutions, wherever this is possible.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Bill Kristol wants to rebrand conservatism as...

Bill Kristol is a leading "neoconservative" member of the American Republican Party. I have argued for many years that the establishment Republicans should really be called right-liberals, as they mostly hold to some variant of a classical liberal politics. Bill Kristol was asked how "conservatives" (establishment Republicans) like himself might rebrand themselves and he answered as follows:



He is happy to rebrand "conservatism" as liberalism. And I hope he does, as using the term conservatism deceives people into thinking they have more political choice within mainstream politics than they really do. The choice is really one between a left liberalism and a right liberalism. You get to choose liberalism.

And in case you are sympathetic to the right wing brand of liberalism, it was Bill Kristol who earlier this year responded to problems within the white American working class by suggesting that the white working class should be replaced by Mexican immigrants.

(Kristol is backed financially by our own Rupert Murdoch.)