Tuesday 16 December 2014

Are reactionary rants useful - or counter-productive?

I have done more than my fair share of common-sensical, skeptical, reactionary ranting; sadly, it is quite possibly what I am best at and what commenters like best.

A case can be made, and is made often, that such things are at least useful and perhaps necessary - however, people get a taste for doing and reading such things, and that taste is addictive, and it is possible to spend hours a day going from blog to blog reading anti-Leftist rants, take-downs and satire.

Some people imagine that there is an anti-Progressive blogosphere where you can go to find 'the truth' about the modern world - where the mass media can be dissected and analysed and reality discerned behind the shadows...

Given that political correctness goes from strength to strength, all this kind of stuff strikes me as being likely to be part of the problem rather than the solution.

Anyway, I have had enough of it; and am going to try harder to stop writing it and stop reading it. The problems of modernity are too deep and too pervasive to be susceptible to polemic.

If I cannot inspire people to good, then I cannot do anything useful.



JP said...

To dismiss your own work as useless "ranting" is to succumb to the despair that you so rightly criticize in others. The truth is important and should be spoken no matter how much "strength" PC seems to have.

I find your work extremely useful and interesting, and I am sure I am not the only person who thinks so.

Your work inspires me to keep attending Church and helps sustain my faith in these challenging times. Hopefully you regard that as a good thing and as a (small) reason to continue posting.

Anonymous said...

Writing critically about modernity is a necessary activity for any of us who are opposed to the sewage it makes of our civilization.

The problem that reactionary blogs run into is that it can turn into a sisyphean task, and you wind up just being once again co opted into the chattering classes. Even this is better than being a mainstream conservative blogger, as your at least refusing to play by the demented rules of the cultural marxists, but it's not terribly productive.

"You figured out that feminists are hypocritical fools? Good on you. Can we move onto something more interesting now?" (h/t to Aurini on that one, adapted from a quip on atheists.)

Perhaps the Bull and Red Cape heuristic is the best way to deal with this. Is this issue just humbug that no one will remember next week, designed just to outrage me, while I ignore something more important, ie the matador who's out to kill me?

David said...

Please do not be down-hearted Bruce. Your blog has been a source of inspiration for a while now in many ways. In fact, I would probably not have become a Christian without this blog and its insightful arguments that really helped me change my ways at a fundamental level of my assumptions about reality from a metaphysical level (I didn't even know what metaphysics were before reading this blog! ). I think you may be being unfair to yourself with this post. Sometimes the repercussions of our actions are not immediately obvious but they send interconnected ripples into the world around us. The film "It's a wonderful life" springs to mind, which I watched for the first time this weekend and quite enjoyed it. So take solace Clarence, you may still win your wings as of yet :-)

Bruce Charlton said...

Thanks for your sympathy/ encouragement, chaps - but I was not dismissing *everything* I do here - but specifically the socio-political rants; which have so far made up about a quarter to a third of this blog - and which attract the most attention and comments. I'm absolutely fed-up of doing and reading this stuff! - i.e. finding 1000 new and witty ways to argue that grass is green and the sun rises in the East...

Nicholas Fulford said...

You are at your best when you inform rather than champion an anti-left position.

Your articles on intelligence decline, mouse utopia, and Tolkien are amongst my favourites. And your love of classical music is something I share, so when you link to and discuss a performance that you have found that is outstanding, I always check it out.

Yes, you have a position on mass media and its role in political correctness, and that is fine, but I come here because you have intelligent things to say and are not a one note band. If you ever became the producer of a screaming screed with only that to offer, I would change the channel. Fortunately, that does not seem to be in your character. You are far too curious and interested in a wider look at the human condition to write a vuvuzelablog.

Adam G. said...

Agreed with JP. If you are fed up with it, that's one thing, but don't think the 'rants' aren't useful to others. It's hard to be good unless you reject evil, and its hard to reject or even *recognize* pervasive evils if no one point them out.

unfairy tales said...

Not all rants are made equal....

I few of bloggers I read have compiled end of year type of book reading lists that I find vrry interesting and helpful in sorting out good reads. Would be willing to compile a lost as well?

Ugh said...

"the socio-political rants; which have so far made up about a quarter to a third of this blog - and which attract the most attention and comments. I'm absolutely fed-up of doing and reading this stuff!"

interesting... Back in Nov. I suspended my sorry excuse for a blog largely because I am tired of being so negative all the time. It's like shouting over a jet engine - pointless.

I do endorse your blog(s) and thoroughly enjoy it precisely because of the variety of subjects. This site, the blog posts and the comments often challenge my narrow thinking and that alone is worth the price of admission.

Stirner said...

Bruce, I think your best posts are about the great things you see- the music, the written works, the thinking about morality and genius, etc. They show how much good there is in the world, and that's very valuable and why I read your blog.

There are quite a few polemicists out there writing about how the world is ending, and they always have been writing and always will be.

But there are very few noble, quiet places for contemplation like this blog- please keep up the good work! You are appreciated!

Bruce Charlton said...

@Stirner- Thank you - that pretty much sums up what I hope to do.

Leo said...


I fully understand that having observed and extensively published on the downward trajectory of our society, it can be corroding to the soul to be a Jeremiah continually. A Catholic culture warrior I know has shifted to a more specifically religious focus in the past year for probably similar reasons. Still, the march of secular liberalism through church hierarchies must be disheartening to many in the pews. We live in a fallen world, and we have to look elsewhere than an analysis of the world to maintain our spirits, lest we have only a sea of negativity to swim in. In any event, your blog and similar ones (I enjoy Rod Dreher at the American Conservative) have been both enjoyable and enlightening.

stephens said...

You have spent a lot of time/effort on a decent catalogue of thoughtful writings, easily accessable for those seeking them.
In these, historically, wealthy times it's easy to sell "PC" plus worldly hedonism as a replacement for God plus restraint. However, the (most vulnerable) young will get old and great lies have a tendancy to expose themselves eventually.
I suspect we should let God do the "heavy lifting", pray and focus on being kind, generous and truthful in our daily activities (easier said than done) and not try to take too much on ourselves.
For me, now, it's how to steer through and remain untainted by it as it takes it's course. I don't think anger is good for my soul!
Kind regards.