Month: December 2013

Failing to End the Discussion

http://intheparlor.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/what-you-believe-about-homosexuality-doesnt-matter/

So, here we have a person so stupid that they think moral issues get shut down if people are so distraught by the limitations and judgments that they impose that someone kills himself.

There are plenty of stupid people in this situation, but in particular, fuck the preacher that performed the gay marriage ceremony for his son. The author of the blog, too, for being a youth minister but evidently not understanding that the church has a hierarchy and the obvious problems with allowing people to make up their own religious principles as they go along.

Someone obviously doesn’t understand the purpose of organized religion: to legitimize moral discipline. In a world where no one seems to be able to think of a good reason why the principles and identity of their society is more important than the individual, it should be really obvious that the purpose of all religions, somewhere in their pantheon and structured code of behavior, is to give people a reason to obey and play by society’s rulebook, even if it’s an allegorical reason, a ideal represented by holy figures. Christianity has always struggled with this because Christianity bases its conception of the good on compassion, which leads to huge degrees of internal contradiction when it comes to religious discipline.

Such contradictory theology allows great flexibility – too great, which is why religious literalism and fundamentalism appeal to some people – for the sake of love and forgiveness, but can’t stop degeneracy. For that, you need standards, lines drawn in the sand that people can count on, lines that go beyond an individual’s vulnerable and often stupid judgment and only get modified by elites looking at the big picture. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the relevant hierarchy, it doesn’t matter if you and people close to you think you’ve earned the right to do whatever you want, it doesn’t matter if the growling of your stomach is louder than other people’s stern lectures. Morality is meant to restrain self-interest, not give it excuses.

What a stupid blog. The time for discussion is past? We’re shutting down debate? Okay, then I’m going to shut down debate over the rightness or wrongness over property rights, access to medical care, access to education, every socially constructed limitation human society places on individuals because there are cases where someone might die if they don’t have education, medical care, or property like food and shelter. No doubt there are truckloads of people who consider the legitimacy of property rights and such other barriers to utility very low on the list of social priorities because of the intensities of human needs and desires. They would approve of stealing for the impoverished. They ignore the basic reality that only because property rights exist and we require people to earn property through work that we have the resources to provide for anyone.

Similarly, everyone has sexual desires, they often have to deal with frustration, and that doesn’t legitimize violations of what almost every society in human history has decided about sexual morality just because people’s feels are hurt. Morality is accountability, and sexuality is not an exception to people having limitations placed on them for the sake of creating rational expectations of behavior and social order. Family matters, not because all we need is love, but because it provides institutional structure for creating and raising children. Discipline is first, feelings are secondary at best. I’m not just going to go with treating relationships that do not accomplish this as if they have equal value to those that do. I will tolerate, but I won’t lie. That is one prerogative Western society gives people that I will take advantage of, to not lie.

If someone’s prerogative to discuss this needs to be called into question, it’s the dumbasses who are so concerned with people’s emotional state that they refuse to not only prod them into accepting order, but refuse to allow other people to do it, out of some sense of karmic moral simplemindedness. It takes an incredible degree of weakness and sensitivity for someone to allow their life to be destroyed, not because they can’t fuck who they want to fuck, but because there are still some people on Earth who won’t congratulate them for it. That kind of sensitivity has gone too far. As a culture, it IS our fault that the kids kill themselves over sex, because the messages we send their way reinforce the over-valuing of sexual pleasure, while creating expectations that they should be able to do whatever they want. Then it becomes oppression when they don’t get it. This is what happens in a culture where sex becomes a more central part of people’s identity than religion, family, and country.

Not only am I not in favor of ending this discussion, I’m in favor of winning it on the opposing side.

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Individualism and Righteousness on Duck Dynasty

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Rod Dreher is upbeat about the number of gays who are urging restraint, understanding, and “furthering the discussion” with Phil Robertson: 

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/phil-robertson-brandon-ambrosino-andrew-sullivan-gay/comment-page-1/#comment-3654767

At times like these, I wonder if the people over at TAC are really on the side of actual conservatives or not. But then I have to remember that even in the supposedly wide-open American system, every halfway-mainstream voice comes from the same intellectual tradition, and that tradition is Judeo-Christian individualism. Dreher might see decency or civility in these responses. I see the problem far magnified.

I don’t watch DD and I don’t really care. It’s very clear who these people are, just from looking at the licensed products on display at Wal-Mart; no one should have been surprised at these comments, and I sort of agree with the tinfoil-hat conservative crowd who thinks that the entire controversy was planned out by A&E to get attention. That’s not to say that the network told Phil what to say, but they didn’t need to. That point of view he delivered was certainly his point of view. His suspension adds to the drama.

With the way this culture thinks about morals, what Phil said was not simply an unpopular opinion but a logically incorrect one. Phil hit the jackpot for them when he said gayness was “illogical”: they wanted to hear that, because now they can logically “prove” him wrong. Never mind that the boundary between objectivity and subjectivity always a matter of opinion when discussing values. They don’t see it that way, because they see egalitarian ethics as being secular, reasoned, beyond personal preferences, and freedom-promoting by nature. In other words, they are “objectively right.”

So, since Phil is “objectively wrong”, he must be “educated”.

This is where individualism, as a structural idea, turns into a totalitarian imposition of political correctness. With ethics based on a ridiculously overblown liberal understanding of what constitutes harm – basically, hurt feelings in any capacity – they take Phil to be either ignorant or hateful, but capable of changing, and they will desperately want to help him change. Maybe he should take a hint from Jennifer Lawrence, who thinks calling someone fat should be a criminal offense. 

The reason these commentators are saying that they want to talk to Robertson, instead of just burning him in effigy before shutting him out of cultural life, is the exact same reason Christians just had to send missionaries to China and South America instead of leaving cultures with different beliefs alone. Because they must convert. Convert, and then put the camera back on them and make them say that they were wrong, so then others might be converted. They must convert because they believe they are intractably and objectively right and no other point of view can be allowed to exist, and yet they lack the nerve to kill their enemies, preferring to think they’re doing them a favor by assaulting their point of view and changing who they are.

“Reasoned debate” in which one side simply will not accept losing – and the liberal side will never accept losing, especially if it hurts the feelings of a preferred minority – is a form of violence. Phil’s identity as a person is being assaulted here. The willingness for liberals to leave political ideology out of the facets of identity demanding protection makes little sense, especially when they theoretically believe that religion should be protected. 

If you live in an individualistic culture that believes morality to be objective, instead of subjective and cultural, your conception of the good is in competition with other conceptions within the marketplace of ideas and those opposing ideas must be destroyed. This is how righteousness works; it’s winner take all. The battle is for market share of the human psyche. And if you believe in such a thing as objective values and objective morality, you MUST do this.

I’d rather Robertson get kicked off the show than be publicly shamed and browbeaten until he recanted, like some soft-handed Spanish Inquisition of political correctness. He’s made his money. Let him say his peace and disappear.

At least Robertson’s fans understand the basic element that makes point of view work: identity. What matters is what side you’re on, what culture you are a part of, what group you can feel like you belong to. DD fans are rallying to Phil, and so is his family. And since he said what lots of them think anyway, they back him up, regardless of whether they can make a nuanced logical case for the righteousness of Phil’s remarks. In this world, we seem to think that’s the problem, but playing that kind of game gets you witch hunts in a hurry. It’s actually the nature of loyalty, and it’s closer to a solution.

Shameless

http://feminspire.com/privilege-discomfort-why-you-need-to-get-the-fuck-over-it/

I has privilege.

Just letting everyone know, getting it out of the way. I am a white, male, cisgender, non-Christian (but I’m cool with church), and probably several other things that are totally shitty.

The thing is, I just don’t care to self-loathe. The strawman argument of people annoying the above author by saying, “Not all of us are like that!” gets to take a break when I’m around, because I most certainly AM like that. I’m not racist, but simply because I say that, most people who think of the world in these terms will assume I’m racist and my culture has a history of it, so people can call me that all they want. I don’t think racism the unmitigated evil the rest seem to; I just don’t care about race, period. My nation is polyglot, and we can work with that as far as I’m concerned. I think that gender norms are a good thing for the institution of family, that men should be assumed to be in the dominant position in a marriage, and that equality within marriage is a terrible expectation that either doesn’t exist or very nearly doesn’t. I don’t see homosexuality as being equal to heterosexuality, as one of these behaviors propagates the species and one does not. I don’t care about the global overpopulation thing nor do I care if sexual preference is a biological predisposition or a choice: either way, the actions of gay people reflect a willingness to choose sexual pleasure over reproduction. I know plenty of gay people and get along fine with them, but were I to have my own children, I would prefer they be straight or at least act like it for the sake of continuing the family line. And I think this anachronistic understanding of moral norms works fine, whereas the modern liberal code of moral norms is laughably unworkable in ordering a dynamic society.

I have no shame in this. I won’t bring it up as dinner table conversation 99% of the time because I’m not that specific type of asshole, but a slightly different breed.

What this article does is simply reinforce that they’ve won, and I have no country, no people, no greater society I live to promote. I have deployments and a work history and voluntary work under my belt, and the more I see of people like this, the more sure I am that I’ve been suckered and I’ve wasted my time. They want me to work for the pathetic, and I refuse. They will not respect me, even if I do it, since according to their principles, the power that allows me to help was a product of my privilege to begin with and I shouldn’t be glorified for having these kinds of choices at all. I’ve had plenty of these discussions before, in case you haven’t noticed. There’s nothing to be gained on my end; it’s a rhetorical fistfight, and that’s it. Why bother?

I have no incentive to cooperate, to restrain myself more than the level necessary to avoid jail time. I can be an asshole, sure. Why not? Feminist and liberal sympathizers can tell me I’m being immature for not tolerating the frustration stoically, like the oppressed groups did; I’m assuming that means they think they did the right thing in tolerating it before. Either that, or they expect revenge to be served by the enemy voluntarily kneeling down and handing them a sword, in which case, they’re idiots and deserve their disappointment. They can tell me that if I play by their rules, I can have a good life, but they clearly aren’t capable of understanding how their own minds work, let alone mine, so how can they know if any life they offer will appeal to me? Do they actually care? You know the answer.

I don’t respect these people anyway. I don’t respect their positions, I don’t respect their complete lack of self-awareness, I don’t respect their visions for the future.

I have not had a conversation about the future in several years where the goal didn’t revolve around making people more equal, which translates directly into the mechanics of society being less efficient and the authorities less legitimate. Basically, my days in college eliminated any talk about inequality being acceptable, and therefore, about success being legitimate. The reason? For the sake of people’s financial and emotional well-being, of course. Sorry, don’t give a shit.

The ethical backdrop of that article is a position where equality is the ultimate goal. People’s behaviors are granted value to the degree in which those behaviors support this goal. Equality is legitimate. Hierarchy, the inverse, is not. Don’t think too hard about it! Don’t think rigorously about how the only thing that justifies inequality is a failure to support a norm of equality.

You might realize that morality is – and always has been – a system of behavioral expectations that some people can use to manipulate, devalue, and control others. It’s been used by authority figures for centuries to maintain social order, and was certainly created by them. But since the advent of the post-Enlightenment age, the era of egalitarian individualism, the people have used it to demand freedom from the authorities, by painting existence as an oppression narrative. When you understand this, what people like this author are trying to do becomes clear: they are using a hatred of power and the people who presently have it to take power for themselves.

They have idiotic ideas, like the one where, for the sake of their own self-interest, they call us selfish. Should I respect this?

There might be a more idiotic idea: the one where they tell us to be open-minded, meaning, don’t listen to the arguments that might make our lives seem legitimate. Just listen to the arguments that damn your life.

Maybe the love idea is next: that because I don’t want to do what they tell me to do, then I don’t love them. If that’s the case, then they should be perfectly willing to do what my side wants them to do. Because love.

There’s no dignity to this game. There’s no higher purpose to this game. There’s no meaning to it, no honor, no eye towards a feasible future, no matter their visions. Fuck this shit.

Whatever. The gender thing is the most disgusting. The men can get a shittier deal every day if they want, with questions like, “are men obsolete?” being asked as if they were serious:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/2013/11/21/4_women_debate_whether_men_are_obsolete_320402.html

Obviously, the answer is yes, particularly to the women that don’t need them personally anymore, but instead settle for government confiscation of their wealth. Government men, using the threat of force provided by other government men, to take what men have, for their benefit: independent womanhood must be so awesome.

For men, if they had any balls, they should be more willing to admit that women are obsolete, except for hookers and pregnancy surrogates.

But I’m privileged! Seriously: not having control over women when I was raised to believe that I eventually would have a family – which is, in essence, having control of a woman, albeit under strange pretenses that one of us would be happy serving the interests of the other, or both serving each other, which sounds like a recipe for directionless disaster and perpetually disordered distribution of responsibility – is a minor bump in the road towards the goal, which I guess is to have stuff and entertainment, and no judgment out of society, which will certainly grant me tremendous self-esteem, or something. This is America. It’s easy to get.

Who gives a shit? Friends and family exist to use each other, employers and cultures and nations exist to get everyone on the same materialist track. We just have to convince each other that we enjoy it.

Sorry, but I’m not feeling any shame in being one of the demographics that’s benefited from past competitive success of others like me. The classic Western method of controlling people isn’t by honest application of force or deprivation, but in getting people to believe in the righteousness of their deprivation, moral control. It’s tricky and based completely on propagandist psychology. And for those of you who are tired of this trickery, I would advise you to take the concept of shame and eliminate it from your emotional palette. If you don’t want to be used, if you want to maintain the freedom that they covet, there’s no sense painting with that color.

Power games are always zero-sum. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

If your sympathies are with the article writers, immediately unfollow this blog. Don’t wait – do it NOW. Fuck anyone who has empowered these idiots by giving them money, attention, any form of patronage. And fuck the society that doesn’t have enough sense of itself to rip them to pieces when they step forward and damn all we are. You have no soul, and you would experience pain beyond your imagination for the shit you’ve contributed to in the name of justice and freedom and all those other buzzwords. You suck, all of you. If I ever have anything of value again, you’re getting none of it. I will not live for your sake, and the weaker portray yourself to be, the more obvious it is that you aren’t even worth acknowledging.

At The Heart

At the heart of every world-weary conservative is a person who came into life with a fairly positive attitude and a belief that people are pretty much all decent and reasonable. If humanity would just recognize the value and sensibility of each other, and put forth a good faith effort into building something that works for everyone, then things would be okay. Such people live conscientiously, assuming others do as well.

Later on, as time establishes to these people that others really are different, that we want different things and have different values and visions, the discordant reality sets in. It’s a reality coated with medicine at first, as we give thanks for the structures, traditions, and creativity of past generations that built what we call “society” and set the precedents that make life livable. Eventually, the revulsion at purposeless rebellion that once seemed brave or entertaining comes at the cost of public appearance: this world expects rebellion, builds rebellion into its image of youth and vitality, so all that does not rebel seems elderly and on the verge of dying.

Demands for discipline that comes easy to you become fascism to others, and valuing accountability seems to be a clear statement of misanthropy. Since these people have said discipline, they frequently end up with systematic power, and the kids don’t understand why that power isn’t used to make their lives better. Loneliness comes on, bit by bit, as you realize that your identity is built on how you define the exchange between the self and the rest of the world. It isn’t about stuff or cheap thrills; the substance of respect comes from relationships in all cases, and you must build a case for your own value, in self-defense.

Then you know: it’s all about expectations. That’s always been what you were fighting over. It’s all we’ve ever been fighting over.

Cultural Confidence

I can’t turn around in this country without hearing someone talk about the value of self-esteem and self-confidence.

We blog on it: http://zenhabits.net/25-killer-actions-to-boost-your-self-confidence/

We fret over it in the news: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/nov/29/girls-low-self-esteem-rising-girlguiding-report

We have seminars on it: http://www.optimalthinking.com/SelfEsteem.html

And like every other fashionable intellectual topic, it gets a TED talk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-HYZv6HzAs

So hooray for self-confidence, I guess!

This isn’t a surprise, as this is an individualistic culture. But what if we’re talking about the culture instead of the individual? Should a society have any form of collective self-confidence? Should we have cultural self-confidence?

It seems like the exact same people who place such a high value on self-confidence for individuals also seem to place a negative value on their culture thinking well of itself. When was the last time you heard someone on the political left say something really positive about the cultural values of the industrialized West, anyway? In fact, there seems to be only one element of the West that they really appreciate, which is individualism. When it comes to having faith in systems or institutions, they just aren’t going for it. Everyone with power should be looked at with suspicion, every judgment questioned, every tradition subverted. Really, believing in the ideas of a society gets a bad rap among lots of people.

In a recent Art of Manliness blog entry on pursuing excellence and dominance, one comment said that men should not pursue any such thing, should not pursue an imposition of will over others, because to do so would be an assertion that one way of life is superior to another, which is simply wrong. But why is it wrong?

I guess it’s because individualistic people want to see themselves as self-creating, not competing, and not products of their society; the crux of it comes down to something like a personal “right way to be” that cannot be, and should not be, defined by others. Maybe they will point you to the Crusades and say, “these people believed too strongly in their way of living, and people got hurt. You should live and let live.”

But let me ask: if you believe that the life you’re living is good, why wouldn’t you want to increase the visibility and esteem of a life lived like yours? If you say a culture is messed up, knowing that generations are yet to be born into this culture that isn’t “optimized for human flourishing”, isn’t it morally sound to try and change that culture? We certainly believe that about our own, and at the very least, we appreciate the freedom available in this culture that makes such change a stronger possibility. This sort of freedom is a cultural value. Why not try to spread your values, emphasize your way of doing things, glorify what seems to be working well? Shouldn’t we at least have the confidence in our way of life to not denigrate it? After all, say what you want about the benefits of being humble, but a confident culture is a charismatic culture.

This becomes more important when you understanding that the individual is forged by their environment. Our culture largely defines us. Even when we say, “you shouldn’t impose your culture on others”, saying that is an attempt to modify people’s behavior to create a more ideal culture, which in this case is a supportive and non-judgmental environment. The use of the word should gives it away: you’re making a judgmental assertion on how people should act, in an attempt to modify the prevailing social environment. You have to realize, there is no neutral culture; the supposed moral decency of non-judgmentalism, as many people have noted, is extremely judgmental itself when people fail to meet its expectations, as political correctness in America shows regularly.

Once you understand that the concept of a “supportive environment” with no judgment really makes no sense at all, you’re left with the basic truth: your culture makes you who you are. Every attempt to figure out some core of individuality for humans fails on the basic grounds of experience being relevant to our identity.

And thus, we should ask ourselves: can you love who you are without loving the society that made you?

The voices that cry the loudest over the West’s cultural dominance of other countries solve this problem for themselves by taking and leaving elements of culture as they wish. Institutions with hierarchies are right out, but the philosophical individualism of the West and its notions of rights are in, and never mind that those rights are impossible to create, defend, and enforce without the institutions. The point of the entire exercise is to liberate the individual from obligations. It’s a power game.

In the real world, your choice is between separatism and unity, between alienating yourself and playing the social game with others where you win some and see your cultural environment become more like what you want it to be, or you lose and have to conform. Most people have to conform, and no one conforms harder than the guy saying, “give me liberty” or protesting the WTO. Those are cultural values he’s expressing.