Monday 28 February 2011

Christianity and Political Correctness - what I think and what I don't


Christianity cannot be used - and the attempt should not be made - as a means to the end of good secular government.

(For instance, Christianity should not be used as a means of making people behave well.)

The word 'good' in good government, indeed, has a quite different meaning from a Christian and a secular perspective: in that salvation is the aim of Christian government while happiness/ minimization of suffering is the aim of secular government.



Atheism is inadequate as a basis for good government - such that all secular government is unstable and self-destroying except in the short term.

(i.e. atheist government can last only a few generations, and then only by virtue of inertia from a previous stable polity.)


Furthermore, most (almost all) Christianity nowadays is thoroughly corrupted by worldly secular thinking - in the West this means that almost all the leadership of Christian churches are primarily politically correct (leftist, progressive) and only secondarily Christian, hence in practice work against Christianity, in one way or another.


So, there is need for discernment.

To find the small amount of real Christianity among a vast mass of corruption and error and lies.

And to prepare, if possible, for worse to come (prepare spiritually, I mean).


It is very likely that Christians (real Christians) are not going to be on the winning side in this world.

At least, things have been getting worse from a Christian perspective for such a long time, and are now very bad indeed; and much wiser heads than mine have perceived that this is unlikely to be reversed (except perhaps temporarily and in a localized way) - and indeed things are likely to get very much worse.


SO (what I think is that) Christianity is probably 'not a good bet', not an expedient choice, if someone is looking for power, status, influence, worldly happiness or indeed freedom from suffering.

But only a valid choice for people looking for reality (i.e. The Good: approximately for Truth, Beauty and Virtue): looking - that is - to save their souls and (perhaps) those of (some) others -

...but not a good bet for those looking to save a 'civilization', or a nation, or an ethnicity or any large grouping. Since all such are now so thoroughly corrupted by worldliness that they do not want to save their souls (not, indeed, believing that they have any souls to be saved).


Saturday 26 February 2011

Severus Snape 4 Lily Potter/ Evans


One of the many extraordinary things about the Harry Potter series is the way in which the celibate and unrequited love of Severus Snape for Harry's mother Lily all-but usurps the main plot - and forms (for a sizable minority of fans) the centre of the whole series.

In other words, for some fans, Snape - rather than Harry - is the most interesting and sympathetic character.  

This was clearly unplanned by JK Rowling - who has stated that she regards Snape as a nasty character redeemed only by his love (for Lily) and the courage which this inspires - but otherwise very deeply flawed - almost to the point of sadism.

It is a remarkable thing in a modern context that Snape should take on this role; especially as he is portrayed in the books (big nose, greasy hair, awkward loner).


Of course, the casting of Alan Rickman in the movies may have something to do with this, since Rickman's screen persona is intrinsically attractive to women of all ages, regardless of his role.


That aside; I see this phenomenon of Snape-mania as yet further evidence of the benign subterranean influence of the Harry Potter series - that Rowling has made the permanently unrequited love of an unattractive social reject (albeit one of great magical powers) for a 'popular' beauty into a morally-admirable thing for tens of millions of readers.


This fact is only understandable in terms of the other-worldly backstory of Harry Potter - the immortality of the soul, and life beyond death.

Snape is indeed brave in life - but from a this-worldly perspective his unyielding love for Lily can only be seen as a pitiful delusion. The fantasy life of a 'sad' man.

Yet that is not how Harry Potter readers experience it: they see Snape's love as being - not requited - but validated (or redeemed) beyond the grave.

This in the context of the biggest publishing success of the past generation!


I say it again: remarkable...

Today's Tolkien action at the Notion Club Papers blog



A definition of political correctness


In a nutshell I regard political correctness as mainstream leftist politics post-1965.

This marked the tipping point between the left seeking equality of opportunity (meritocracy) and switching to equality of outcomes (egalitarianism),

there was a switch from the left being based on economic policy (especially the belief that the planned command economy was actually more efficient than the market) and a move towards cultural engineering via propaganda and 'consciousness-raising',

the beginning of the left's systematic dishonesty - especially suppression and demonizing of IQ research (IQ had been a leftist baby when the left was were concerned with equality of opportunity and meritocracy),

it when the left began their obsession with the Nazis and eugenics (having pretty much ignored the matter for two decades from 1945),

the beginning of a shift away from being a party representing (and funded by) the proletarian working class/ unions to a rainbow coalition of 'victims' of 'prejudice'; and so on...


Of course PC was continuous with socialism (or liberalism as you call it in the US), and socialism grew from atheist radicalism, that from deism and non-conformist Protestantism/ Puritanism, that from Scholastic Roman Catholicism, and that branched off from the undivided Christian 'Orthodox' Church around AD 1000 -

- so the roots of PC are very deep, being indeed the roots of modernity

(which explains why the modernizing opposition ideologies - such as libertarianism, or moderate Conservatism, or indeed any secular political alliance - cannot stop PC, and why PC will be replaced by a pre-modern, anti-modern ideology) -

...but, despite these roots, it was about 1965 when socialism clearly became fundamentally built on lies (and not merely superficially and tactically dishonest), became cut-off from the real world, and from negative feedback, became focused on process rather than outcomes:

and when transcendental inversion and the subversion of Truth, Beauty and Virtue became not just a plaything of the elite but a mass policy.


Another word for PC would be the New Left.

But political correctness is what the general commonsense public call moral inversion - the subversion of spontaneous human morality and its replacement with the opposite.

And this is distinctive to post-1965 leftism, which is why I use the readily-understandable term PC and try to enlarge its meaning, rather than using a more generic name such as socialism or liberalism - which includes types of 'Old' leftism from the era when socialism was merely a (mistaken) set of organizational means to the achievement of the True, the Beautiful and the Virtuous - as conceptualized by commonsense, by natural law, often by nonconformist Christianity.

The difference between - say - William Morris's utopian socialism of News from Nowhere (roughly, an idealized and secular Medieval communal society of craftsmen and free peasants), and the modern Western inverted world of bureaucratic political correctness motivated by the subversion of all forms of traditional Good, is about as extreme as can be imagined - despite their shared deep roots and tendencies.

Hence the need for a more specific term than socialism/ liberalism.

erived from spontaneous human .


Friday 25 February 2011

The Good and the trancendental goods: Truth, Beauty, Virtue


The Good is the highest aim in a human life. (e.g. in Plato). It does not necessarily refer to God or to the Gods, but to what humans ought to do.

The Ancient Greeks recognized that The Good was transcendental, had to be transcendental - had to be something outside and beyond humans to which each could aspire (and which they might fail to attain).


The Good is highest, but it is hard to understand, hard to think about - and most people usually focus on three component transcendental goods of Truth, Beauty and Virtue (moral good).

However, there is a problem in splitting up the Good - which is that people begin to evaluate the world using separate modalities of thought.

Truth becomes the province of - firstly - philosophy, then later science.

Beauty becomes the province of Art.


And Virtue? Virtue becomes religion - the whole thing! - or later Virtue may become a secular ideology.

And indeed morality can become the whole of religion - such that people cannot see that religion has anything to do with either Truth or Beauty.

Morality becomes the whole thing.

In which circumstance religion (or secular ideology) becomes legalistic, inevitably.

Virtue is a matter of following a set of rules, of Laws. Virtue is reduced merely to obedience. 


The pursuit of Virtue, detached from its unity with Truth and Beauty in the Good - is a major pathology of Western thought

Some Christian denominations - most of them indeed, are wholly concerned with Virtue, and regard Truth and - especially - Beauty as of grossly subordinate importance.

The actual circumstances of this kind of religious life and practice may be devoid of Beauty or hostile to Beauty. Indeed, Beauty may be regarded as a snare, rather than a component of The Good.

And the same applies to mainstream secular ideologies - such as Communism, or modern liberal political correctness. They are wholly Virtue orientated, and being untruthful in pursuit of Virtue is not only tolerated but approved.


Creating ugliness in pursuit of Virtue is likewise approved (building hideously soul-destroying, but functional, housing for the poor; or brutal cityscapes and offices for bureaucrats - to be concerned by Beauty in such circumstances is regarded as unserious Dandyism).

To be indifferent to precise facts or to lie, and to destroy beautiful things and to create ugly environments in pussuit of Virtuous goals is indeed regarded as evidence of moral seriousness.

For such people, the truly Virtuous ought to be indifferent to such matters - their minds are wholly moral.


But lined up against this partial pursuit of Virtue are similarly absurd, wicked and evil partial exaltations of Truth and Beauty.

The partial pursuit of Truth leads to scientism; to the common and indeed dominating conviction that science, mathematics and the like are the only valid forms of knowledge; and that the true and dedicated scientist should pursue Truth indifferent to Virtue and Beauty - that the single-minded pursuit of Truth (usually in the form of 'facts' and technology) is indeed intrinsically virtuous, and intrinsically beautiful - so there is not need for the serious scientist (or philosopher) to worry about these matters.


And there is an equivalent situation in The Arts.

Beauty becomes the province of Art, and the understanding and promotion of art becomes a matter of aesthetics - distinct from evaluations of Virtue and Truth - leading to the ideal of Art for Arts sake.

That the serious artist and arts critic is indifferent to Truth and Virtue - or rather that artistic values themselves transcend such concerns- and that Art - Beauty - is (by this account) intrinsically true and intrinsically virtuous; so that any trammelling or constraint on 'artistic expression' is intrinsically a violation of truth and virtue as well.


So we reach, have long-since reached, a situation when the transcendental Goods have been split up and regarded as separate, regarded as amenable to separate pursuit; are indeed contrasted with each other and pitted against each other by what are de facto interest groups such as priests, scientists and artists: each claiming the high ground, each trying to subordinate the others.


Yet The Good is in reality a unity: that which is Good is intrinsically and inevitably virtuous, true and beautiful.

Truth, Beauty and Virtue cannot really be separated.

The Good is not attained by being virtuous and then bolting-on truth and adding a layer of beauty; nor is it attained by a narrowly fanatical pursuit of precision and reliability then surrounding it with a halo of words that claim its ultimate virtuousness and an assertion of its special kind of beauty; nor by a belief that an effective novel, poem, painting, song - created to fulfil the criteria of these aesthetic forms is intrinsically also a agent of  the highest truth and tending to a special kind of human virtue...

The situation is that the True, Beautiful and Moral are by-products of the Good - and when they are not by-products they are not good; that the specific pursuit of Truth, Beauty and Virtue asif they were distinct goals may very easily become subversive of the Good, may indeed become its opposite, have indeed already and long since become the opposite of Good. *

While this may be very obvious for the narrow pursuit of Beauty (as Art) or Truth (as philosophy and science) it is equally so of the narrow pursuit of Virtue.


I am stating here that the narrow pursuit of Virtue in detachment from Truth and Beauty is anti-Good  (or rapidly becomes so).

The idea of a religion focused on, based around, Virtue; and subordinating of Truth and Beauty, is a Bad thing, not a Good thing.

Virtue is not higher than Truth and Beauty.

To act as if Virtue is higher than Truth and Beauty is very swiftly to embrace the Bad - not merely the narrowly wicked (anti-virtuous) idea of Bad, but to destroy the whole capacity for Good.

The mode of thought which sees Virtue as requiring trade-offs with Truth and Beauty is at fault.

The aspiration of religion must not be Virtue, but must be The Good.

And the Good can be conceptualized as closeness to God, communion with God, as God-like-ness.


I have found that this is the essence and focus of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church tradition, but I have not found this insight elsewhere except as a minority view - it is found elsewhere, but in a rather tenuous, personal, and peripheral expression of spirituality - and not as the core.

Hence most Christian denominations cannot keep a hold of The Good: find it too imprecise, too slippery, to hard to grasp and hold.

Most revert to a focus, a prioritizing of Virtue: and to make this more precise they render Virtue explicit in Law.

Others (much more rarely) become almost wholly aesthetic - and merge into the Arts.

Others become too philosophical, and too systematically philosophical.


And The Good cannot be attained by first splitting into the T, the B and the V - and then afterwards trying to bolt them together again!

The act of breaking-up the Good irreversibly destroys that which is necessary to unify the Good. The operation of splitting is imperfect, much is destryed in doing it, somethings are left out, the analytic knife inflicts collateral damage.

The 'operation' of analyzing Good into TBV is like dissecting an animal to understand it; then trying to fit it together again and bring it back to life!

Unity of The Good is above all of these dangerous specifics.


Only by a focus upon The Good, as characteristic of God; and by conceptualizing Christianity as the desire to move-towards God (that is - towards the unified transcendent Good) and commune-with, partake-of God; can the partiality and distortions of the specific TBV specific Goods be avoided, and the real unified reality be (at least potentially) approached.


Thursday 24 February 2011

The Psychology of Political Correctness


['The Book' so far...]


Political correctness, or PC, is now pervasive and dominant in the West.

PC is not a joke, it is extremely powerful and extremely widespread – indeed hardly anybody among the intellectual elite, the ruling class, is immune – most are deeply complicit, even those who laugh at what they regard as the absurdities and excesses of PC.

(In ten years time these same individuals will be zealously defending these absurdities and regarding the excesses as middle of the road mainstream).


We need to take PC very seriously indeed; before it is too late.

(It may already be too late to save society, but it is not too late to save our souls, and those of others – which is more important.)

The purpose of this book is to help recognize and understand the phenomenon of political correctness as a wholesale human disaster. Indeed, once grasped for what it is, it is difficult to exaggerate the harm done by PC and the harm it will do if not destroyed.


Because political correctness is not merely weak in defence of The Good (roughly speaking of Truth, Beauty and Virtue); it is actively subversive of The Good.

PC not only damages societal functionality, it turns functionality against itself - to create paralysis.

It can be convincingly and correctly argued that political correctness will destroy all Western Nations and Western Civilization - I regard that as obvious and uncontroversial – but even if it did not, and whatever happens to the socio-political scene, PC is the greatest of disasters for the human soul.

It is indeed the most pervasive mental pathology to have gripped humanity; its sufferers are trapped in a fly bottle of their own devising, and cannot find a way out.


Political correctness has emerged over historical time, indeed over at least the past millennium, and has grown exponentially – but, like all exponential processes (the growth of cancer, the growth of populations) the early stages were all but invisible – and it is only in the past 50-60 years that the full blown phenomenon of PC has become so big and so strong that it cannot be ignored; indeed it can barely be resisted, so pervasive and powerful it now is among the leadership of all major Western institutions (including all the mainstream churches).


The pathology of PC has many names: nihilism is perhaps the best.

Nihilism being the denial of the reality of reality; otherwise known as relativism.

So for the nihilist there is no reality, but only an infinite number of possible situations, none intrinsically realer than the others, none being correct.


Nihilism is contrasted with the traditional human viewpoint that there is a reality, a transcendental reality – which is really real, although human knowledge of this reality is imperfect.

Transcendental reality is also called The Good – it is a unified single thing, but is often split into three sub-domains: Truth, Beauty, and Virtue.

Nihilism (including PC) denies the reality of The Good, and denies the reality of The True, The Beautiful and The (morally) Virtuous.


Nihilism is a consequence of atheism, of the denial of a transcendental God (or possibly Gods in the plural) that underwrites reality, which is reality.

Political correctness is the fully-developed following-through of nihilism to its narrowly-rational (but un-reasonable) consequences.

Political correctness is therefore a disease of the mind, a pathology of thought that renders its compliant sufferers incapable of salvation.


That is the problem of PC – that it is a soul-denying, hence soul-destroying, ideology.

And once a person has accepted and internalized the assumptions of PC, he cannot get out of it: he is trapped in the fly bottle, merely buzzing round in circles.

And the bottle glass is opaque – he cannot even see outside it.


The pathology of PC is made possible by and supports the replacement of reason by rationality, and the fragmentation of rationality into many small and detached segments.

PC rationality will therefore get you only a step or two, before some different and incommensurable mode of reasoning will kick-in.

So there is no reasoning in political correctness, only the application of arbitrary algorithms and procedures and fail safes (in particular the ad hominem attack default, which is underpinned by nothing more than a conditioned revulsion to the non-PC).


So, a mere thirty or so years since PC became identifiable, and just a couple of decades since it became powerful enough to be troublesome, the entire intellectual elite has been absorbed into it. Clearly, they were pre-adapted, and PC is merely an outcome of long-standing trends.


Quite suddenly, we notice that the Western elites are detached from the mass of humanity throughout history and throughout most of the current world.

(They have been increasingly detached for a thousand years - but the numbers were initially very small. Only when the detachment became official policy was it so obvious that anyone can see - if they use their eyes, which of course most do not, and most of these now cannot.)

They are detached because PC is a reaction-against, a reversal of, an inversion of all spontaneous, traditional (and also specifically Christian) human thought processes.


Political Correctness is subversive of The Good.

It is not ignorant of The Good – it knows what The Good is, PC indeed must know The Good, in order to subvert it.

This is why PC is the preserve of intellectuals – because those too ignorant to know The Good cannot subvert it; they may of course go against The Good – they may be wicked, create ugliness and tell lies – but only for their own selfish and short term purposes, only from ignorance or impulsivity.

The point of PC is that it systematically subverts Virtue, Beauty and Truth and pursues wickedness, ugliness and lies – not by accident, not merely by ignorance nor by selfish short-termism – but as a matter of the highest principle.


In morality, PC pursues the-opposite-of-Virtue. It learns about spontaneous human morality – Natural Law – and it does... something else. It subverts the natural and spontaneous. It reacts-against it. In practice it does the opposite, or what it conceives to be the opposite.

Where humans are motivated by love or duty, PC demand they be motivated by adherence to formal principles and procedures. Where humans spontaneously nurture and protect the family, PC attacks the family relentlessly and promotes any and all forms of social organization except the family. Because humans, like all animals, are heterosexual, PC promotes all other forms of sexuality. Because some humans are brave and heroic and those who are not tend to admire these traits in others; PC promotes cowardice and expediency.


Because humans naturally love Beauty, and value those who create Beauty; PC subverts Beauty. Politically correct art is anti-Beauty – it regards The Beautiful as Kitsch at best and tyrannically fascist at worst; it is about creating expectations then thwarting them, it is about replacing harmony with dissonance, edification with shock, delight with horror, pleasing sounds with noise, elevating subjects with disgusting subjects, aesthetic elevation with visceral degradation.


And PC reacts against The Truth. Truth is to be subordinated to the goal of subversion. Unwanted Truths are Hate Facts. Universally known Truths are replaced with narrow scraps of bureaucratically defined principles; spontaneous and obvious knowledge is contested, undermined, broken-up and contradicted one fragment at a time and replaced with Professional Consensus (Peer Review).


What does PC put in the place of The Good, and its component transcendentals of Virtue, Beauty and Truth?

Nothing definite – because for PC there is no reality.

Instead there are an infinite number of relative ‘realities’.

PC subverts The Good, but offers no substitute for The Good - except The Better.


PC does not know what it aims-for; it knows only that it must destroy The Good, that it may be replaced by something Better - only it has no criteria for evaluating what is better.

Since evaluations are themselves relative, The Better is not really better than the Good, but it might be!

The evaluations are themselves part of the project of subversion and experiment - PC subverts the Good and seeks the Better; subverts past current evaluations in pursuit of Better evaluations, and the Better will itself emerge as a consequence of the evolving process.

If PC has any faith, which is doubtful, it is that this evolutionary process of subversion and experiment is intrinsically virtuous.  


Why then does PC subverts the Good?

Because current and past realities have flaws (when compared with an ideal) and since there are an infinite number of alternative realities there must be many realities among them which are better than the current or past reality.


The job of PC is them to destroy current reality, detach itself from all past realities, and seek among the infinity of alternative for something better (which must be there, by sheer mathematical probability, somewhere).

PC will search through, sort-through, experiment-with these alternative realities to find something better – maybe something perfect?

And anyone who is against this search and experiment, is simply an apologist for the evils of the present and the past.

Political correctness is hostile to The Good in pursuit of The Better.


PC subverts current and past ideas of Virtue, Truth and Beauty in pursuit of greater Virtues, Truths and Beauties which currently cannot be imagined.

The PC promotion of Vice, Lies and Ugliness are therefore merely experiments in pursuit of The Better.

And the process is unconstrained by reality, because there is no real reality, (the reality of the real being illusory, delusional) there is only an infinitude of ‘realities’, some of which must (surely?) be better than this reality, the reality from which we suffer now, or the past realities from which humanity has suffered during history.


The pessimistic passivity of the right - paralysis by procedure


It is often remarked that the political right are remarkably accepting of trends which they regard as deadly, and prone as individuals to lapse into a state of pessimistic and passive paralysis.

Of course, there is a sense in which this is a 'realistic' response to current and predicted events; yet despair is a sin.

There is a sense in which the right is prone to lapse into a state in which they see events not only running against them, but where they perceive that nothing constructive could - even in principle - be done to stop and reverse these trends.


I suspect that this is because the right has - over centuries - internalized the (intrinsically leftist) assumption that politics ought to be a matter of procedures: of laws, regulations, practices, systems. 

The idea of legitimate politics then becomes equated with the business of setting-up these procedures.

Wisdom in politics then becomes a matter of foresight into how these procedures will work out.

The notion, on the modern mainstream right, is that only when new procedures have a high probability of benefit with a low predicted incidence of serious harm, is it reasonable to intervene.


And - contemplating the morass of modern society - thoughtful rightists can see no way through the mass of interlinking leftist procedures.

They cannot - in all honesty - even imagine as a thought experiment, a set of alternative procedures (of laws, regulations, systems) which would reliably (and without too many breakages) lead to the outcomes they desire.

And so they despair, and so they give-up.


But to concede that good government is a matter of good procedures is to concede the debate before it has begun.

The old ideal of good government was government by a wise man: a King Arthur, or a King Alfred the Great.

Of course there will always be need for some procedure - Alfred was a pioneer of English law - but equally all procedures rely on human wisdom.

The difference is in which direction the ideal lies, and in which direction the system is pushing: is it, as with modernity, pushing in the direction of making a human-proof system; or one in which human wisdom has the best chance of operating.

Are systems and procedures the ultimate authority - or is the wisdom of a wise man the authority?


The right needs to accept that no systems are human-proof, nor would it be a good thing if they were.

The right needs to stop looking for solutions in terms of an alternative set of procedures,  laws and systems.

The right needs to think in terms of aiming at outcomes; and of government as a matter of having the best people in authority, not in terms of having such a perfect constituion that people are irrelevant.


The leftist ideal is a government so systemically-perfect that all personnel are interchangeable, indeed perhaps humans could be replaced by chimpanzees (or computers).

That cannot be the ideal of the right.

The right - and this applies to both the religious and the secular right - needs to think in terms of a government which aims to does the right things.


Doing the right things is therefore a matter of

1. Wanting to do the right things, and

2. Being competent to do the right things.

But the second depends on the first:

among governors, among those in authority: 

motivation is more important than competence. 

Indeed, competence without proper motivation is the most dangerous situation of all.)


On the right there must be a focus on what needs doing, and on government by those who recognize these needs, then - preferably - by those who are best able to achieve these needs.

Procedures, laws and systems must take a second place.

Human beings should count for most.


That much is shared between the secular right and the religious right: but the 'ideology' of what is right, what is needed, is of course very different indeed.

However, until there is a recognition that rightist politics is mostly about the outcomes aimed-at - the right will continue to be paralyzed.


Here it comes:

There does not need to be a plan in order for the right to start work, in order for the right to govern.


The right must not - ever - place its trust in systems. 

There does not need to be a set of new laws and regulations by which the right hopes to achieve a given outcome - but there does need to be a will that certain outcomes be achieved.

And that will will have at least a chance of finding a way.  


Wednesday 23 February 2011

Democracy versus populism


I don't like to be topical, but let's just say there are a lot of democratic uprisings going on just now, within the USA and abroad, so that even I have noticed.

Let's be clear on this - democracy is leftist, populism is rightist.

Democracy is about process, populism is all about outcomes.


The right cannot beat the left at democracy - process (= legalism, = bureaucracy) leads inevitably to the left; the right may win the occasional battle but they will lose the war.

(Process cannot beat process, and process is leftist.)

Only an outcome-oriented populist right can beat the left.


As things stand in the US, the left is winning strategically by use of democracy, by legalism, by process.

To be sure, the left is fighting battles tactically - using whatever might work, including law-breaking, ignoring and subverting process, rigging or ignoring democracy...

But the mainstream political right is eschewing populism (or deflecting populism into democratic politics) for fear of what populism might unleash.

The right are sticking to process - to the democratic rules (more than are the left, at any rate), sticking to the law, sticking to official procedure - and justifying all their actions in terms of democratic process.

And the right is trying to make the left stick to process... it is apparently their main strategy!


Populism makes (common) sense - whereas procedure is highfalutin nonsense - the left's specialty.

Only if, or when, the right starts circumventing democracy with outcome-oriented strategic populism, the left will start to get very worried indeed, and will in fact be hard-pressed to survive.

But it has not happened yet, and may never happen.


Sunday 20 February 2011

Note to myself against excessive future-orientation


I am currently listening through a dramatized version of C.S Lewis's great book The Screwtape Letters,

The excessive 'future' orientation of my blogging is just the kind of thing Lewis is warning against via the demon Screwtape's demonically bad-advice.

Note: 'We' refers to the devil and his servants, 'the Enemy' refers to God.


From The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, Letter 15:


(1) The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity.

He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present.

For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them.

He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present—either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.

(2) Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present.

With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity. It is far better to make them live in the Future.

Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities.

In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time—for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.

Hence the encouragement we have given to all those schemes of thought such as Creative Evolution, Scientific Humanism, or Communism, which fix men's affections on the Future, on the very core of temporality. Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future.


(3) To be sure, the Enemy wants men to think of the Future too—just so much as is necessary for now planning the acts of justice or charity which will probably be their duty tomorrow.

The duty of planning the morrow's work is today's duty; though its material is borrowed from the future, the duty, like all duties, is in the Present.

This is not straw splitting. He does not want men to give the Future their hearts, to place their treasure in it. We do.

His ideal is a man who, having worked all day for the good of posterity (if that is his vocation), washes his mind of the whole subject, commits the issue to Heaven, and returns at once to the patience or gratitude demanded by the moment that is passing over him.

But we want a man hag-ridden by the Future—haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth—ready to break the Enemy's commands in the present if by so doing we make him think he can attain the one or avert the other — dependent for his faith on the success or failure of schemes whose end he will not live to see.

We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow's end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.


Friday 18 February 2011

Libertarians 'always' become PC when they get power and make policies


A few years ago, when Gordon Brown was Labour Prime Minister, I was asked to visit the Houses of Parliament to 'advise' two prominent Conservative Opposition Ministers both of whom are now power holders:

David Willetts - currently Minister for Universities and Science -

and Boris Johnson - currently the Mayor of London -


At that time I was solidly libertarian in my views and had written from this perspective in the national media; and these two politicians were both known for their libertarian views.

As it happens, David Willetts didn't show - so I (with three other 'experts') advised Boris Johnson; whom I found to be a genuinely likable man - although I was struck by the fact that he was not exactly a 'wonk' - his interest-in and grasp-of detail was... approximate.

Willetts is a wonk - and has published detailed articles and books on his subject. And he is about as libertarian - on paper - as anyone in UK politics.

Johnson is also known as a libertarian - on paper - being editor of the libertarian/ conservative weekly The Spectator.

Yet of course when both these men got power and made policies they became politically correct. Libertarians always do.



Because not only does libertarianism not make sense (being far too narrow and too arbitrary in its assumptions) - it also doesn't work in politics: or at least not in democratic politics.

It does not work because the mass of people as well as (more importantly) the powerful interest groups do not want libertarianism and will fight tooth and nail to prevent (or more often sabotage) libertarian policies.

Libertarianism has - roughly speaking - zero support: by which I mean real support: people who will turn out, work hard, make sacrifices for it.

Libertarianism will not work - in sum - for reasons articulated by (sincere-libertarian) Arnold Kling's father:


So, when it comes to real-life policy, libertarians will jump. 

They will usually jump to the left, into politically correct Liberalism (because that is the dominant ideology of government, and the best career move), but if not they will jump to the populist right (aka fascism) or to religious conservatism.

Or they will jump out of politics altogether.


Forget Libertarianism - it is a delusion! Make your choice between PC, fascism and religious conservatism.


Why are psychiatric drugs dysphoric, demotivating and dumbing?


The antihistamine-derived family of psychiatric drugs all comes from roots in the dye industry (e.g. the dyes Methylene Blue and Summer Blue).

(e.g. E.F. Domino, History of modern psychopharmacology: a personal view with an emphasis on antidepressants, Psychosom Med 61 (1999), pp. 591–598.)


The anti-histamine family include the 'anti-histamines' themselves (chlorpheniramine - Piriton, or diphenhydramine - Benylin sedating version, or promethazine - Phenergan) and more importantly the three major best selling drug classes:

1. Neuroleptics/ Antipsychotics (chlorpromazine/ Thorazine/ Largactil was the first),

2. Tricyclic antidpressants (TCAs; imipramine was the first, amitryptaline/ Elavil the best-known),

3. Selective Serotonin-Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs; fluoxetine/ Prozac is the best known).


What strikes me about this anti-histamine family is that they are all broadly 'dysphoric' - that is they make a normal healthy person feel bad - or at least worse.

(Properly used they can, of course, reduce particular symptoms which are overwhelming - so that, for example, the emotion-blunting effect of SSRIs may be helpful for someone incapacitated by mood swings; nonetheless emotional blunting is intrinsically a dysphoric effect. In other words, in particular people, the dysphoric or demotivating effects may be 'a price worth paying' - but there is a price.)  


There is also a sense that the antihistamine group are 'dumb drugs' (probably via their anti-cholinergic action), and demotivating drugs (probably via their direct (antipsychotics) or indirect (SSRIs) effect on partially blocking the dopamine reward system.



(Lithium and the some of the anticonvulsants are broadly of this dysphoric, dumbing and demotivating drug type too, in terms of their effects - though sometimes - especially lithium - coming from different chemical families.)


SO - the most "popular", most widely-prescribed, most profitable family of psychiatric drugs are dysphoric, dumbing and demotivating.

(Although benzodiazepines were the most widely-prescribed and popular drugs for a while in the 1960s and early 1970s. A different era!)


This can be compared with a broadly euphoriant (happiness-inducing), stimulating (energizing, motivating), and 'smart' (in the sense of enhancing some valued psychological functions) group of (chemically diverse) psychoative, psychiatrically-useful drugs such as opiates, psychostimulants, alcohol, minor tranquillizers and nicotine.

Opiates were used to treat melacholic depression and other forms of misery; benzodiazepines to sedate, to reduce anxiety and to calm psychosis; psychostimulants (such as amphetamines) for minor depression (dysthymia) and to relieve psychological pain and exhaustion (e.g. in terminal care).


Alcohol (potentially benzodiazepines) is used to liberate creativity (e.g. among creative artists such as writers) and sociability. (Overall, in many societies, alcohol does vastly more harm than good - but it can do good.)

Nicotine is mostly a stimulant (working indirectly on the dopamine reward system) - like the psychostimulants-proper - providing energy, focus. Caffeine is another self-prescribed stimulant. As such, these drugs may have a significant positive function for individuals, and for society.


The popularity of the anti-histamine family in psychiatry (and the reciprocal neglect/ horror of the euphoriant grouping) is - I strongly suspect - precisely due to their dysphoriant and dumbing quality, which means they are very seldom 'abused'.

Because patients (in general) do not like taking the anti-histamine family of drugs, for the simple reason that they make them feel worse (and they already feel bad), this enables psychiatrists to distance themselves from a 'Doctor Feelgood' image of prescribing potentially-addictive agents.


And, of course, any euphoriant drug that makes you feel good will tend to be abused more often than drugs that make you feel worse.

But surely that is a feature not a bug?


The fact is that the psychiatric profession (influenced by Big Pharma) prefers to make people (en masse) into miserable, dumb zombies rather than risk addiction - even though they 'know' (sometimes - at any rate it is all there in the scientific research literature, for those who take the trouble to look and learn) that the miserable, dumb zombie drugs are just as dependence-producing as the addictive ones.

The anti-histamine group produce dependence - such that the chronic patient cannot stop taking them without suffering serious withdrawal effects (very serious, in the base of anti-psychotics: acute psychotic breakdown, or permanent tardive dyskinesia)


By contrast, top level creative work has been done on opiates, stimulants and alcohol (equivalent to minor tranquillizers, more or less) - so these would count as smart/ creative drugs, or at least potentially facilitators of smartness and creativity.

They are addictive, however, in some people; and the addiction often takes the obvious form of a craving for the euphoriant and stimulating effects.

But, used correctly, in slowly-absorbed and slowly-eliminated and less-potent forms, to treat psychological symptoms; most people do not get addicted.

And if people do become drug dependent on euphoriants, they are at least dependent on a drug which basically makes them feel better.


Because, by contrast, there have been and currently are legions of people (including increasing numbers of children) who are chemically-dependent on prescribed (sometime compulsorily administered) psychiatric drugs which make them miserable, dumb and demotivated - especially those many millions who are dependent on the anti-psychotics/ neuroleptics.

Get that: chemically dependent on prescribed drugs that make them miserable and dysfunctional.


In a rational world, and if patients/ the public were in control of their own treatment - it would be better (I think) to use euphoriant drugs as the basis for psychiatric treatment, rather than the antihistamine group.

If forced to choose, and assuming there was also access to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT/ shock therapy; which is the most effective treatment for serious psychosis including cataonia) - I would prefer to have the euphoriant agents available and used for myself and my family; and I would be prepared to forgo the dye-anti-histamine class - especially (as now) if they were grossly over-prescribed, and indeed forced-upon people by propaganda and psychological or physical coercion. 

What does this say about our society?

That we prescribe huge swathes of the population dysphoriant, dumb and demotivating drugs? 

Well, it says a lot about our underlying social motivation - about the kind of people that society wants us to be, is indeed increasingly forcing us to be ...


Tuesday 15 February 2011

Characteristics of an anti-PC, populist, common sense political party


With the profound weakness of orthodox types of Christianity in the West (due to their long term corruption by Liberalism) - the main opposition to Political Correctness currently comes from populist, reactionary, common sense, secular groups (of which the best known is the Tea Party in the US; but perhaps there are also somewhat analogous groups in Western Europe).

From my Christian perspective I regard any such grouping as seriously sub-optimal - indeed at best a temporary expedient.

Nonetheless, supposing that common sense secularism was actually to become powerful - what then? Could it, would it provide a better alternative future than PC? What would that future be?

This can be predicted by considering the probable characteristics of such a grouping - and weighing-up the pros and cons.


Since so much of Western society is now corrupted by Liberalism and implicated in PC, such a group would have to come from outside this - and in rejecting the psychotic delusionality of PC it would need to offer a common sense alternative which would be obvious to plain, middling, productive people outwith the intelligentsia and their underclass of state-dependents.

And since it would be reactive, we can infer its main features.


Here is a non-exhaustive list (in no particular order) of characteristics of a possible Common Sense (CS) party contrasted with the PC party:

Reality is real and fixed v reality is relative and plastic
Direct force v indirect propaganda
Face to face v mass media
Concrete v abstract
Immediate v ultimate
Instinctive v educated
Popular culture v High art
Practical v theoretical
Can-do technology v professional science
White v Non-white
Hereditary versus cultural
Native v immigrant
Apprenticeship v formal education
Men v women
Recognition v certification
Selfish v altruistic
Personal authority v bureaucratic procedure
Het v homo
Heart v head
Gut v intellect
National v international
Tribal v favouring the 'other'
Familial and nepotistic v universalist
Real v ideal
Rough justice v procedural law
Spontaneous morality v moral inversion
Courage v tolerance
Loyalty v subversion
Useful to others/ mundane v  self-developmental/ useless
Productive/ money-grubbing v ideologically-sound/ parasitic
Duties v rights
Charity v needs
Accepting hierarchy v working-towards equality



In place of the PC ideal of impersonal procedural bureaucracy, a CS party would probably favor personal authority - and since the personal authority is based on an ethic of tribal selfishness it would inevitably lead to corruption and nepotism - since these emerge spontaneously.


So which is the best of this unappealing choice?

Well, it depends on what will happen, and what we would regard as the likely outcome.

The worst future political outcome I can forsee is probably not 'mere' chaos - which would allow the emergence of a better-organized and transcendentally-motivated Christian society;  but the imposition of a powerful, totalitarian, autocratic, theocratic rule by 'others' which might be hard/ impossible to shift once established.

And this is precisely the prospect which PC not only fails to prevent but actively facilitates.


So, if this calculation is correct, a secular commonsense party would be preferable to PC - partly for fear of something much worse, and partly on the basis that it would not last; but would soon (spontaneously) become pagan (because paganism is the default of humans left to their own devices); and paganism could then plausibly be converted to Christianity.

This contains the unpalatable suggestion - especially unpalatable for religious conservative intellectuals such as myself, who value highly the best in history, philosophy, literature, music, the arts and sciences etc -of supporting a kind of 'know nothing' party, for whom anti-intellectuality would be a core value.

Of having to choose to go along with something profoundly disliked, for fear of something intolerable.

This is, of course, what happens when a nation has chosen short-termist expediency again and again and again for decade after decade - shirking and avoiding tough choices.


The above bleak analysis is based on the assumption (which I hope is false, but suspect is not) that we cannot (in practice, given the scale of modern corruption) go directly from PC to the kind of sustainable society based on truth that I would prefer - but only indirectly.


Monday 14 February 2011

Do we get the government we *deserve*?


Suppose we do (overall and in the long term) - What then?


Of course, to suppose that, entails that the concept of 'deserving' is meaningful and real, and also that desert can be applied to governments and the relationship between government and the people.

And this implies people, persons - a personal relationship.

'Government' by and for the sake of abstract procedures rules-out desert (and intentionally so).

However, if we reject the concept of desert; then all government is arbitrary, pure luck, something that just happens.

And it makes no difference whether the government really is the grinding of impersonal processes, or - behind this facade - a mass of grubby corruption, since the corruption in modern societies is defined by an ideal standard of perfect adherence to impersonal procedures.


That government is pure luck and just happens and has nothing to do with just deserts is indeed what many seem to believe - indeed, democracy entails that there is no such thing as desert.

Because democracy entails that what we deserve is (roughly) 'whatever comes out of the process/es of mass voting' - there is nothing more to be said about the matter. Personal opinions and standards are exactly what democracy ignores, over-rides, crushes (ultimately).


Much of political discourse is the attempt to avoid these implications of democracy without attacking the principle of democracy; to humanize mass voting and bureaucracy - despite their being intrinsically inhuman - or rather anti-human.

Because secular modern culture distrusts the human - quite rightly - yet denies the transcendental.

And so secular modern culture is left with nothing but the inhumanly procedural, which it tries to treat as if it was of transcendental value and intrinsic worth.


Then the whole of political discourse becomes (is) a business of wrangling over the conduct of mass voting - under the assumption that if we could get the voting system right, then the result would be truly authoritative: transcendentally authoritative.

In other words we are de facto judging democracy by human standards, yet the critique proceeds using procedural standards.

And so, the transcendental perfection for which modern, secular Western culture strives (here! on earth!) is a perfect democratic procedure, underpinning perfectly rational and procedural bureaucracy; which system always and inevitably also yields the highest attinable human (individual, personal) standard of gratification (the optimal human pleasure, the minimum human suffering).

Yields it like clockwork - or a computer alogorithm!


Since we persist in seeking all this and nothing but this, the answer is: Yes, we do indeed get the government we deserve...


Saturday 12 February 2011

Does hereditary psychology explain broad cultural types and trends?


I have for more than a decade been using the three stage division of culture set out by Ernest Gellner into simple hunter-gatherer, agrarian and industrial.

I tend to think that the agricultural phase can also be sub-divided into simple agriculture - such as sedentary gathering of large resources (e.g of shellfish), herding, and slash-and-burn agriculture or gardening to supplement hunting and gathering; and complex agriculture with division of labour and re-use of land in annual cycles.

This economic division is not one of desirability or virtue or goodness - but is based on the degree of division of labour and the potential for efficient extraction of resources, and potential for the size of the culture.


The divisions and transitions are usually explained in terms of factors such as culture or geography or sometimes religion - but the types of society also correspond to what we know of approximate levels of average general intelligence (measured in terms of IQ); rising from about 50-60 for hunter gatherers; 70-80 for simple agriculturalists; 80-90 for complex agricultural societies (with cities, complex technology etc.); and 90-100 plus for industrial societies.

Of course, the average IQ works as a permissive factor (necessary but not sufficient) and of course a society can be kept at less than the level of potential complexity indicated by its average IQ (since there is also an important role for cultural and geographical and political and religious - or anti religious - factors).

And, more confusingly, this refers to the endogenous nature of a society; the type of society it gravitates toward; and  a society can be raised to a higher level of complexity than is endogenous by an interaction with a more complex society, by drawing-upon the organizational and technological resources of a more complex society.

And (related) hybrid states can result from population mixing between types of society (although whether these gene-pool mixings are sustainable over many generations is unproven - so far they seem temporary phases en route to something else).

So my view is that the increased IQ has a variety of evolutionary causes (e.g. see Farewell to Alms by Gregory Clark and the 10,000 Year revolution by Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending) - and increased IQ itself, in turn, causes cultural change - including religious transformation.


And, taking this further, religion is stratified in a similar way.

It is the middling societies, agriculturally-based and with an average IQ of around 80-90, which seem to be the most devoutly religious - whether pagan or monotheistic.

Hunter gatherer societies are animistic, with totemism coming-in with simple agriculture along with larger scale organization and technology - and the industrial societies with high IQ have a very abstract religion tending towards atheism.

As average intelligence in a society becomes higher; so religiousness becomes less spontaneous, less intuitive, less realistic, less supernatural, less personal.

This can even be seen at a relatively fine level of discrimination within Christianity, with a gradient in average IQ among the denominations.
I think it no coincidence that even in Catholicism, the more rational Roman Catholics tend to dominate higher IQ societies than the more mystical Eastern Orthodox.


This is all a part of my larger thesis that higher average intelligence drove modernization (including industrialization) - but, mainly due to its effect in weakening spontaneous religiousness, is also destroying it.


And it is part of my belief that high IQ is a curse as well as a benefit.

The benefits are clear, the curse is not appreciated: indeed, high IQ people pride themselves on their disability.

People with a high IQ (high, that is, by historical and international standards; by which I mean above about 90) should regard themselves as suffering from a mental illness - almost a psychosis - since their perception of the world is so distorted by a spontaneous, compulsive abstraction which is alien to humans.


But high IQ in and of itself (no matter how supported culturally) cannot lead to endogenous industrialization - modernization requires genius: which requires both high IQ and creativity.


I have not touched on personality here; but much of what I said about IQ applies also to personality.

Complex agricultural societies provide a strong selective force for re-shaping and taming personality, promoting conscientiousness, docility (reducing spontaneous aggression and violence) and reducing spontaneous creativity.

These are the marks of the 'civilized' personality. 


This is because creativity is based on the loose, associative, primary process, dream-like mode of thinking which is commoner in children or in lower IQ - for instance this is the style of thinking of 'animism' or shamanism among hunter gatherers. However, creativity alone is not genius - it must be combined with high intelligence which enables fast learning and evaluation of the ideas generated.

And this is why genius is so rare: because creativity and intelligence are reciprocally correlated at the population level, yet both must be present in an individual for genius to happen.


(That is, the reciprocal correlation between intelligence being considerably less than perfectly linear - there are some individuals in the population who  buck the trend - see H.J. Eysenck's book Genius - where he depicts this graphically. And also see where I deploy these ideas.)


Therefore the combination at an individual level of high genius and high creativity (i.e. potential genius) is very rare indeed, even in the relatively more creative European populations; but even rarer in the less creative East Asian populations - where creativity has been 'tamed' out of the population.


Genius is necessary for modernity, for industrialization, because it is genius which produces 'breakthroughs'; and modernity requires frequent breakthroughs in order to outrun Malthusian constraints. 

Europeans produced, in the past, the most geniuses proportionately - but why?

I think it was because European society experienced a powerful and rapid selective force towards increased IQ, which left the creative personality trait more-intact than did the longer and slower selection for intelligence which happened in East Asia.

The longer and slower selection in East Asia led to (even) higher intelligence, but a greater taming/ civilization of the personality. 

Consequently the average East Asian personality is both more intelligent (and more civilized) and less creative than the European.

(However, genius is now apparently a thing-of-the-past - even in the West; and therefore - lacking breakthroughs - modernity will grind to a halt and reverse; indeed this has already begun.)


We should regard high IQ rather as we regard sickle cell anaemia - a useful specific adaptation to certain specific selection pressures in certain types of society, but one which takes its toll in many other other ways and in other situations.

The most obvious disadvantage of high IQ is reduced fertility when fertility becomes controllable. In the past, any effect of IQ on lowering fertility was minimized by the lack of contraceptive technology, and was (at least in complex agricultural societies) more-than-compensated by the reduced mortality rate of more intelligent people.

So in complex agricultural societies with a high age-adjusted mortality rates, high IQ is adaptive - because reduced death rates have a more powerful effect on the number of surviving children; but in modern industrial societies with low age-adjusted mortality rates then high IQ is maladaptive because reduced birth rates have a more powerful effect on the number of surviving children (especially when fertility rates among the high IQ have fallen below replacement levels).

Clearly, the social selection pressures which led to increased IQ in stable complex agricultural societies have - for several generations - reversed; and the selection pressure is now to reduce IQ in industrialized countries.


But, fertility aside, the major disadvantage of high IQ (and one which works faster than genetic changes) is the compulsive abstraction of high IQ people.

High level abstraction, while enabling genius, is also mostly responsible for the profound and pervasive spiritual malaise of modernity: for alienation, relativism and nihilism.

This tendency to ARN among individual intellectuals is amplified by IQ stratification and large population size which creates an IQ-meritocracy; within which abstraction becomes compulsive and mutually-reinforcing and finally (in some people) inescapable.


So that in an IQ-elite the intellectuals are are often proud of their inability to perceive the obvious, and their lack of ability to perceive solid reality, and their compulsive tendency to live in a changing state of perpetually deferred judgment and lack of commitment.

But these are bad traits not virtues; intellectuals should be ashamed of them, and humble about their deficiencies - not proud of the inability to perceive and stand-by the obvious.


This is why devout, traditional Christianity is the only hope of the West if it is to remain 'the West' (and of East Asia); but devout Christianity is pushing-against the psychological traits of the intellectual elite which have been strengthening in the West since at least the Great Schism of the Catholic church a thousand years ago.

Christianity is the only hope because it is the only religion which has humility as a virtue; indeed at its core.

(Note: Humility is quite different from submission.)

However, it is possible that modernity would not have happened without this pathology of the elite, the pride at the pathologies of abstraction, this celebration of psychotic delusionality - in which case modernity always-was almost-certainly doomed. 


It is a big ask that the intellectual elite humble themselves and defer to the world view of those with lower intelligence and less civilized (more violent, impulsive and less hardworking) personality.

Of course, it would be for their own good in the long term and overall (and it would, of course, enable their salvation - which they don't believe-in); but still it is a big ask - especially when intellectuals can only perceive the world indirectly (via abstraction) and relativistically.

And, so far, the intellectual elite are choosing the opposite: choosing proudly to celebrate their sickness, their psychotic delusionality, to embrace and to celebrate alienation, relativism and nihilism - indeed, to regard these psychological defects as signs of greater sophistication and more complex culture.

(As indeed they are, in a sense; but so what?).  


But, most likely, the intellectual elite will continue to base their self-respect on their psychological deficiencies (rather than their strengths), and will continue to lead their societies back to the agricultural cultural stage, or further.

But this is a choice; and at any time (although it is difficult) intellectuals can choose to admit their own weird incapacities.

Of course, part of being a modern intellectual who dwells in a world of shifting abstractions, is to entertain doubts about the reality of free will.

Nonetheless, the mass of people in the world now and throughout history regard free will as a given - just as they regard the soul as a given, and objective reality as a given.

If intellectuals cannot spontaneously perceive such things for themselves - and I certainly find it very difficult - then they need to admit that this is an inability and not a reflection of reality; that this is their problem - and not a problem in the nature of things.


(Note: I have slightly edited the above in the interests of clarity - and added a few links.)

Decline of the West - pop music


A few days ago I was in a replica 1950s American diner, eating breakfast and listening to a string of 1950s pop and middle-of-the road songs.

Some of them I had heard before, some not - but I was absolutely stunned by the high quality.

Singer after singer was so much better than anybody alive today.

The tunes were usually great.


And - not so obvious, but more extreme - the backing musicians - in particular the rhythm section (rhythm guitar, bass, drums - maybe piano or organ, maybe brass or strings chorus) were... just... wonderful.

Really good rhythm playing has an elusive quality which apparently cannot be faked: just listen to the backing on a Motown or Stax single and compare it with any later cover version.


This quality of musicianship had disappeared, I would say, by 1970.

Many singers that we consider good now are good, but quite frankly our standard of good means little more than a pleasant voal tone and the ability to sing in tune. That extra quality is always lacking - yet it was so common in the 1950s that scores, maybe hundreds, of unamed singers had it.

And our ideas of a good band - well, they are even further from real quality.



Obviously natural ability is the most important factor, so either this has declined or else the best natural talents no longer go in for professional music or, if they do, no longer succeed in it.

Top notch ensenble playing requires practice together, long periods of concentrated practice among musicians who have a musical understanding, and who thereby deepen and enrich this understanding.

And, of course, a focus on the music: the sounds not the image, the visuals, the stage-presentation etc. etc. 

Friday 11 February 2011

The "Why Not?" argument for going with the flow


One abuse of reason that is shared by political correctness and libertarianism is that of the 'Why Not?' argument.

Libertarians use this argument to promote freedom from constraint, while the politically correct mainstream uses it to promote transcendental inversion (i.e. the reversal of virtue and evil, beautiful and ugly, truth and convenient dishonesty).

Indeed the argument is used by anybody in a position of power confronted by resistance to their will.


In brief, a change is proposed, and when there is any objection or resistance to this proposed change then it is asked: Why Not?


The only acceptable response to Why Not? is for the objector to demonstrate - preferably in one sentence - that the proposed change must always, everywhere and immediately lead to obvious harm.

In other words, the objector must have conclusive, objective, majority-understandable and majority-acceptable, literalistic and exact proof that in the exact situation prevailing here-and-now - the proposed change cannot work under any circumstances whatsoever, not even temporarily.


If, on the other hand, the proposer of change can demonstrate that at some time, somewhere, for some person (even if temporarily) this changed situation was in-place without there being any grossly obvious and immediate catastrophe - then they have won the argument.

The proposer of change only needs one single (superficially plausible) counter-example.


It does not matter if this single counter example is an unique outlier - because this is taken to establish the principle that this change could potentially be implemented without apparently significant harm.

It does not matter if the counter example is hypothetical - maybe a very complex statistical computer model - after all, the model might be right; and objector needs to prove that the model is certainly wrong

And the counter example need not even be true - it could be from a fiction, it could be a mistake, it could be a falsehood, it could be a non-refutation - just so long as it has some kind of broad semi-plausibility (something somebody said somewhere) - just so long as the counter example might believably be true, for the duration of a sound-bite.


I came across this a lot when I worked in public administration (the National Health Service); any self-styled reform was put forward as a Why Not? - the fact that similar reforms had been tried and failed and made things worse did not matter - because they were not exactly the same, and anyway their failure then did not mean failure now so long as the idea was better implemented this time.  


Why not? opens an infinity of possibilities that might be better than the present state of affairs, and closes-off none.

Therefore Why Not? is never put forward honestly, as a method of evaluation; but only from a position of power in which the true purpose is rhetorical: to steamroller opposition to a specific change being proposed for some other reason, that real reason for change not being revealed or discussed.

In principle, Why Not? fits in with a world that has rejected the past, has 'discovered' that experience is no guide, that predictive reasoning is flawed and prone to error - so Why Not? just go along with today's lunacy?


Print trillions of dollars of money to bribe our supporters - I mean... errr... to stimulate the economy - Why Not? Maybe it will work - so Why Not?

Maybe it won't induce hyper-inflation this time; and if it does then Why Not? Maybe hyper-inflation might be a good thing this time - who knows, really? Every situation is different, isn't it? And if it isn't a good thing, and we do get hyperinflation - maybe it will be good for us, and our supporters? But if Western society collapses - then Why Not? What's so great about it? Okay collapse often led to civil war and mass slaughter in the past and elsewhere - but maybe it won't this time? So Why Not? And even if it did lead to widespread violence, and we ended up with a totalitarian society or tribal chaos, then Why Not? Such societies have their virtues? Maybe it would turn out to be a communist dictatorship or a non-Christian theocracy - but Why Not? Okay they were usually horrific; but not all the time, nor everywhere, nor always nor for everyone; or so I hear - I think saw it in a movie, I think - or did I read it in the New York Times? - actually these were really tolerant societies, really creative... sometimes, for a while. Well it could be... maybe - yeah! - they would actually be better than what we currently have this time in some new and unforseen way, some kind of synergy some New Synthesis - so Why Not?

Okay, roll those printing presses, pump-out the dollars! Why Not?


Why Not? is simply an excuse for cowardly expediency - and for us shallow and unprincipled modern hedonists it is an an excuse which seems to be irresistible.

And the reason that Why Not? is irresistible is quite simple: modern culture cannot argue against Why Not? anything because it does not believe Why? anything.

For secular modernity, as for science, there are no answers to Why?


All questions of Why? have long since been reduced to questions of How?

But then we discovered that all questions of How? actually depend upon an answer to Why? and we found out - too late! - that How? was meaningless without Why?

And so we are left now with nothing better than, nothing other than - Why Not?


Thursday 10 February 2011

The motivational (non-systematic) basis of real science


Science is a mystery - it happened by accident, unplanned, as a by-product of other cultural changes - and no sooner had people developed a recognition of what had happened, and devised some ideas obout how science worked - than it stopped working and transformed into just-another dishonest, self-serving futile bureaucracy.


But what was the basis of science?

The key was motivation, individual motivation - specifically the motivation to discover more of the truth of things in order to be able to do something.

Only when science is underpinned by the proper motivation of individual 'scientists' will it work.

(Obviously there will always be 'rotten apples' in science; but there cannot be too many nor at too high a proportion, else science will stop being science.)

There is only one proper motivation for science (i.e. truth-seeking), and an infinite number of wrong motivations, which point-off in every other direction than the proper one.


Specifically, each scientist will be motivated by a sub-goal (not to discover the truth about everything, of course; but a particular thing).

The specific motivation would be something like trying to discover something; to invent something like a theory or a device; to solve a problem - e.g. in measuring, predicting, performing some function; to do something like cure a disease, navigate, carry a load.

Something like that.


How much specialization should there be in science?

The answer is determined by motivation - by what each scientist is motivated to do.

There should be as much specialization as is judged to be helpful in doing that thing.

Social aspects of science also flow from motivation.

If the motivational goal can be achieved by a single person them obviously there is no reason for science to be a social activity; but a mutuality of interest may lead to cooperation, which would essentially be informal (based on mutual benefit). This will lead to the proper degree of the right kind of cooperation.


The rewards of science come initially from the intrinsic motivation and secondarily, when there are groups, from the status within the group and from the status of the group.

So that, although there is a pecking order within the group, which is a zero sum game; there is also a sense in which any group bound by mutual interest will award itself status, compared with those people who are not thus interested.

This means that all members of a group bound together by individual motivation may get psychological rewards from the group membership, based on them all making a contribution to that groups motivational goals - so even the lowliest member can feel a reward.


Science as a social process therefore happens when a task (coming from individual motivation) is too great for a single person to accomplish alone using available resources: for example when the making of a new kind of weapon requires the making of a new kind of material - the weapon maker and the material maker may cooperate to achieve this goal, which neither could do alone.


But if motivation is applied via a formal system, then scientists will (firstly) have their motivations re-shaped in order to satisfy system criteria; then (next) the actual selection of 'scientists' will cease to be on the basis of motivation and will instead be on the basis of system criteria - and it will stop being a science.

Because system demands are always partial and biased, and the fastest, easiest and most direct route to satisfying system demands will never be identical to personal motivations, and can be unconstrainedly different.

There is therefore no limit to how non-scientific real science can evolve-to-become, once personal motivation has been abandoned and replaced as the foundation.


Once motivation has been abandoned as the core of science and the principle behind its 'organization', the only thing standing in the path of complete corruption is inertia due to the overlap of generations.

So, all attempts to make science person-proof and independent of individual motivation will destroy real science - although typically the destruction will only become gradually obvious, as earlier generations of individually-motivated scientists lose influence, retire and die-off.


As usual, the benefits of impersonal systematization are immediate and short-term; while the harm is delayed and long-term.

Thus science becomes yet another victim of its own success.


Wednesday 9 February 2011

Why global warming/ climate change really is *the* biggest science scam


While anthropogenic global warming/ climate change does have some rivals in its claim to be the biggest scientific scam of all time - rivals in term of waste of money, damage to human prosperity and freedom, damage to health and happiness - on closer consideration, climate science stands head-and-shoulders above all possible competitors.


The reason is quite simple: all other major scientific errors have at least the attribute of being broadly-plausible explanations of things that are broadly-plausibly explicable.

Other errors are mistaken (or incompetent, or dishonest) claims to be able to understand and control things that are at least potentially understandable, predictable and controllable by actually-existing human beings using actually-existing science.


But the unique attribute of climate science is its stunningly audacious claim to be able to understand, to predict, and to control global temperature and climate.

This claim is so wildly implausible, so far beyond human capability, so utterly impossible; that if the claim to be able to understand, predict and control the global temperature and climate is accepted - even if just accepted in principle - then anything else which follows its acceptance is very easily swallowed.

Once the community of climate scientists (those industrious drudges, those intellectual pygmies, those tamed technicians) have convinced the world of their superhuman, transcendental abilities - then of course we will believe that they know everything and can do anything.


The really Big Lie makes possible belief in any number of Little Lies.


Tuesday 8 February 2011

Why eugenics is bad, and anti-eugenics is even-worse


Anti-eugenics is, nowadays, much worse than eugenics; because mainstream, politically correct anti-eugenics involves the suppression and denial of descriptive knowledge and implicitly the complete take-over of child-birth and child-rearing by the State (with, no doubt, a purportedly anti-eugenic rationale).

But eugenics is itself bad. Bad specifically insofar as it involves government having a major role in controlling fertility; and bad in principle because it applies a purely this-worldly functional instrumentalism to a profound phenomenon of human existence (conceiving and giving birth to children): a phenomenon which by contrast ought to be seen in transcendental perspective.


How did the phenomenon of 'dysgenics' arise - that observation to which eugenics is proposed as a solution and against which anti-genetics reacts?
In a nutshell, dysgenics is a leftist phenomenon: a consequence of modernity; eugenics is a product of the secular Old Left (Fabian socialism and Communism); while anti-eugenics is a product of the secular New Left (political correctness). 
So, anti-eugenics is dominant nowadays since the New Left defeated the Old Left.


(And, contrary to current mainstream conceptions, the phenomenon of reversal in differential reproductive success, and the responses to it, and the suppression of this knowledge, are all essentially a matter of dispute among the atheist Left. The atheist supposed-Right, which has very recently taken an interest in eugenics since the New Left declared it taboo, does so only insofar as the secular-Right movement is actually on the left, and shares utilitarian and universalist leftist assumptions. )

First, from the advent of modernity (?17th or 18th Century) soul-denial/ atheism/ this-worldliness led to attempted and partially-successful sterility among the high IQ (in order to improve the lifestyle of parents, and reduce the risk of catastrophic outcomes).
Then the high-IQ geniuses (men) developed more and more methods of fertility regulation, of greater and greater combined-effectiveness (from 18th through to late 20th century), then high IQ and conscientious women used this to become on average all-but-sterile (beginning from the late 19th century to near-complete success by the 21st century).

Then, from the late 19th century, high IQ Old Left men noticed what was happening (dysgenics) and devised this-worldly and secular methods of combating the problem: i.e. eugenics - the rationale being utilitarian.


So, dysgenics is a consequence of secularism, and eugenics is the Old Left secular response to the problem.

Then political correctness (the New Left, dominant from about 1965) suppressed all discourse on eugenics, except for reflex condemnation, also for secular reasons.

The New Left suppressed eugenic discourse not for moral reasons, obviously, since the New Left believe the state can and should do everything;

and not because of the association with Nazism either, because this only happened from the mid-1960s and eugenics was Nazi only insofar as Nazis were socialists (National Socialists - it's a clue...);

but the left ruled-out awareness of dysgenics pretty much strategically in order to get elected in the medium term (decades ahead) - to create large and growing state-dependency = leftist votes. This electoral strategy has worked very well for the left, and now most of the population are indeed dependent on the state (for this and other reasons).


The (suppressed) eugenic observation was - at core - that in secular societies approximately-nobody (i.e. approximately no-women, women being the sex that matters) wanted to have enough children to replace the present population; and the way that this played out was that the high IQ and conscientious secular women were essentially sterile (fertility way below replacement levels and falling) so the only sectors of the secular population with above-replacement fertility were those too dumb, feckless or chaotic effectively to use reproductive control technologies.

Think about it, for a moment or two: a whole population committing genetic suicide...

Doesn't that fact suggest, well..., something seriously wrong with a society?

If we saw voluntary genetic suicide happening among a group of animals, we would think there was something profoundly nasty going-on, some dreadful fear.

Which is, of course, true.


Under 'natural' conditions, pre-industrial revolution, lacking effective methods of fertility control, all classes and types of people (except the sick and maybe certain groups of intellectuals) will produce children at above replacement levels.

Natural selection does not, therefore, operate primarily on differential birth rates/ fertility, but by means of differential death rates/ mortality.

The 'eugenic' mechanism throughout human history was therefore almost entirely via differential mortality - the children of the fit, healthy, high status, rich (etc) survived in greater numbers mainly because they didn't die so often - whereas the children of the poor, unfit, sick, enslaved etc would - on average - pretty-much all die without reproducing.

With only a few exceptions, ancient society was - over time - therefore populated by the children of the 'successful'.

(Success being attained differently in different societies, such that different societies led to different personality types and different levels of general intelligence - inter alia.)


Therefore the dysgenic phenomenon was primarily caused by modernity, caused - that is - by the reduction in childhood and age-adjusted mortality rates, due to increased productivity in food and other goods conducive to health and survival - and to improvements in hygiene and medicine; such that above-replacement reproduction occurred on average among all classes and types of people, clever and dumb, rich and poor, conscientious and feckless.

Then came the reduction of fertility among the high IQ and conscientious (using technology).

Then the dysgenic effects became very large and impossible to ignore (before the advent of the mass media and PC), and was documented by people such as Francis Galton.


Dysgenics, therefore, was not recognized as a problem until the high IQ and upper classes had actually started to reduce their fertility using technology, and the mortality rate (especially childhood mortality rate) had gone down so much that very large numbers of chidlren from the low IQ, poor, feckless and impulsive (etc) were surviving to reproduce in their turn: the phenomenon was, in other words, already far advanced by this point.

Nowadays, those groups that are characterized by lower than average IQ and more than average impulsive and chaotic lives, experience both the highest childhood mortality and highest standardised mortality and also have a higher than average level of reproductive success, driven purely by above-replacement fertility rates.


(When mortality rates are too-low to matter, too low to have an impact of reproductive success - so that differential mortality has almost no differential effect on reproductive success; then differential fertility becomes all-important in determining reproductive success, and demographic trends. Any group that reproduces above replacement-level will 'win' the demographic race - no matter what the cause of this higher fertility, even when that fertility is merely a result of negative factors such as incompetence or ignorance of birth control technologies or inability to see the consequences or one's actions or a psychopathic selfishness. And the bad news is that all of these are heritable traits.)


The above sequence of events led to a misleading (and dangerous) focus of eugenics on fertility (ignoring mortality), especially a focus on preventing the poor from reproducing.


Since the eugenicists were themselves high IQ there was much less (or in practice zero) emphasis on the need to increase fertility among the high IQ - to a margin comfortably above replacement levels.

The real reason for the New Left opposition to eugenics (beyond strategic electoral demographics) has nothing to do with preventing the state from imposing low fertility upon the lower orders (after all, the politically correct see no limit to the state's right to control people), and almost-everything to do with preventing the state from enforcing high fertility upon the higher orders - ie. the PC elite.


Politically-correct (i.e. mainstream) anti-eugenics is, in its implications, a profoundly eugenic policy (i.e. leading to state control of fertility); since it incorporates an unsustainable disjunction between the birthing of children - which is supposed to be a parental, or at least maternal - choice; and the rearing of children - which under PC becomes the states's responsibility when the consequences of having children are detached from their conception.

In effect, modern anti-eugenics tries to say that any person can birth as many or as few children as they want, by right and unconditionally; and the state will ensure, also by right and unconditionally, that these children are looked-after, fed and educated.

This will not last.
When education became an unconditional right, the state took-over education; when health care became an unconditional right, the state took-over health care; when prosperity became an unconditional right, the state took over welfare.
When the state takes-over a thing, the state decides all about that thing: decides how much and of what sort of that thing is good for you - good, that is, from the state's secular, instrumental, this-worldly perspective.
Unconditional rights are simply the flip-side of totalitarian state control; if you like, the excuse for totalitarian state control, since there is no guarantee that the state will actually supply that which is says is an unconditional right.
What will happen, however, is that the state will say that it actually does in fact supply that right (and the state has the statistics to prove it!) - whether it really does supply that or not... and of course it won't.
It never does.

Furthermore, a politically correct takeover of children would - no doubt (and I mean no doubt) be done with an anti-eugenic rationale; because that is what PC always does.

PC would control all aspects of conception and child care so that eugenics could not be pursued - to prevent (that is) the PC-disfavoured groups enhancing their reproductive success at the expense of the PC- favoured groups.

For instance, I don't find it at all unlikely that political correctness would take action to suppress (whether directly or indirectly) the high fertility of Christian evangelicals (such as the QuiverFull movement) or Mormons.

That is exactly the kind of thing which PC has done so far, does now, and will continue to do (until prevented).

Eugenics under the name of anti-eugenics - it is precisely analogous to inequality (affirmative action) under the name of equality...


So although modern political correctness may sound more humane (kinder) than the old days - when people gave birth to as many children as they wanted, but only successfully raised as many children as they could afford; children are people, hence are souls not just bodies, hence child-birth and rearing are matters of transcendental importance in the human condition; so it is wrong (I mean evil) to transfer the responsibility for children to the inhuman, bureaucratic, secular state.
Anything is better than that.
Even slavery - with a kind master - is better than that; because the state responsibility for children is totalitarian slavery of soul as well as body - a gulag for kids - and represents slavery to an indifferent master; a master who sees the slave (the child) not as another human being but as a tool.
In sum, dysgenics is the consequence of a soul-denying/ this worldly and secular society: and so also is eugenics; and so also (and even more so) is PC anti-eugenics.

In a devout society any phenomenon of dysgenics...

(if it happened - which is itself unlikely - at least in its modern form of sterility among the high IQ and upper classes; since devoutly religious societies value and want children, and voluntary sterility would not be 'a problem')

...ought to be open to discussion and study and description;

but the consequences of dysgenics should not be addressed using soul-denying/ this worldly, instrumental and secular 'solutions'.

Else the solution will be worse than the problem it was intended to solve.


Note - it is essentially women who most influence fertility, number of babies - as a generalization.