Ruminations on the Nature of Sin

The following is a series of excerpts from the Penguin Classics publication of The White People and Other Weird Stories by Arthur Machen. In the prologue a Catholic mystic named Ambrose shares a dialogue with a man named Cotgrave, who has been brought to Ambrose’s house by his companion who remains nameless. The dialogue in question concerns the nature of saintliness and sinfulness. The discussion ends with Ambrose letting Cotgrave borrow a book that is meant to give an example of what true sinfulness looks like.

“Sorcery and sanctity,” said Ambrose, “these are the only realities. Each is an ecstasy, a withdrawal from the common life.”… “There are many, I think, who eat dry crusts and drink water, with a joy infinitely sharper than anything within the experience of the ‘practical’ epicure.”
“You are speaking of the saints?”
“Yes and of the sinners too. I think you are falling into the general error of confining the spiritual world to the supremely good; but the supremely wicked, necessarily, have their own portion in it.” (111)

“We think that a man who does evil to us and to his neighbors must be very evil. So he is, from a social standpoint; but you can’t realise that Evil in its essence is a lonely thing, a passion for the solitary, individual soul? Really the average murderer qua murderer is not by any means a sinner in the true sense of the word. He is simply a wild beast that we have to get rid of to save our own necks from his knife. I should class him rather with tigers than with sinners.” (112)

“And what is sin?” said Cotgrave
“I think I must reply to your question by another. What would your feelings be, seriously, if your cat or your dog began to talk to you and to dispute with you in human accents? You would be overwhelmed with horror, I am sure of it. And if the roses in your garden sang a weird song, you would go mad. And suppose the stones in the road began to swell and grow before your eyes, and if the pebble that you noticed at night had shot out stony blossoms in the morning?
“Well, these examples may give you some notion of what sin really is.” (113)

“But are you a Catholic?” said Cotgrave
“Yes; I am a member of the persecuted Anglican Church.”
“Then, how about those texts which seem to reckon as sin that which you would set down as a mere trivial dereliction?”
“Yes; but in one place the word ‘sorcerers’ comes in the same sentence, doesn’t it? That seems to me to give the key-note. Consider: can you imagine for a moment that a false statement which saves an innocent man’s life is a sin? No; very good then, it is not the mere liar who is excluded by these words; it is, above all, the ‘sorcerers’ who use the material life, who use the failings incidental to material life as instruments to obtain their infinitely wicked ends. And let me tell you this: our higher senses are so blunted, we are so drenched with materialism, that we should probably fail to recognize real wickedness if we encountered it.” (114-115)

“…If you met a very evil man and recognized his evil; he would, no doubt fill you with horror and awe; but there is no reason why you should ‘dislike’ him. On the contrary, it is quite possible that in putting the sin out of your mind you might find the sinner capital company, and in a little while you might have to reason yourself back into horror. Still how awful it is if the roses and the lilies began to sing on this coming morning; if the furniture began to move in procession De Maupassant’s tale.” (117)

There is a tendency to conflate sinfulness with mere wrongdoing. But if we accept the concept of sin as Machen presents it through the character Ambrose, we realize that it is something far deeper and more terrifying than an everyday act of degeneracy society sees fit to punish.

Whatever theological disagreements one may have with Ambrose, it is still worth considering that at the beginning of the dialogue, Cotgrave conflates everyday wrongdoing with evil. Ambrose rightly points out that our comfortable modern lives prevent us from recognizing evil when we see it. Consider how National Review managed to run an article in response to the Salon article normalizing pedophilia essentially asking, “What is so wrong with virtuous pedophiles? As long as they are choosing to be celibate, what’s the big deal?” This mindset fails to recognize what Ambrose, if he were real, would call sorcery. The sorcery at play here is the normalization of pedophilia by presenting it as an unfortunate sexual orientation or disability, rather than a mental illness that must be suppressed if not properly treated. In essence, National Review has fallen prey to sorcery.

Ambrose talks about our materialism clouding our judgment of what true evil is. I would actually go further and suggest that the byproducts of a materialistic mindset, such as moral subjectivism, prevent us from even seeing everyday nuisances for what they are. Consider how secular liberals have a tendency to dismiss theft as simply a means of cultural expression when it is done by gypsies and other nonwhite ethnic groups. If our materialism clouds our ability to critically assess the moral worth of everyday actions, what hope do we have of seeing another Gilles de Rais for what he truly is?

The true horror of The White People lies in the fact that one could even recognize wickedness and “have to reason yourself back into horror.” The presence of evil may not be obvious to us. In fact we may find ourselves easily drawn to it. Most of the leftward drift we see nowadays isn’t necessarily evil in the sense that Machen presents it here, but it at least indicates that we fail to make proper value judgments about the material realm as well as the spiritual realm. It’s ironic, to say the least, that it happens to be materialism that has beguiled us the most about the natural world around us.

Consider this an admonition from yours truly to start going to church.

Posted in Ideology, Literature, Philosophy, Reaction, Religion | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

A Little Twist of Cain: A Review of Grendel

John Gardner’s Grendel was assigned to my high school English class. I don’t remember much of what we discussed in class, which might be evidence that what we managed to cover wasn’t very substantial. One moment from the discussion stands out in the back of my mind, and it’s lingered there ever since. We had all just finished Grendel, and it was the last day of in-class discussion. The teacher probed us with a final question about the last line of the novel, Grendel’s last words after Beowulf wrenches his arm off, “Poor Grendel has had an accident, so may you all.” What do they mean?

To my teacher’s disappointment, we said nothing. So we moved on to the next novel we were to be assigned. Maybe some of us understood what Grendel’s last words meant and simply didn’t feel like talking about them that day. Maybe none of us understood and were afraid of looking like idiots if we spoke up. Whatever the reason, that segment of the class discussion has lingered in my mind for years, and I vowed to one day revisit Grendel so as to have a better understanding of the novel than I did back in high school.

Consider this my penance for my silence that day.

Grendel is a re-telling of the epic “Beowulf” from the monster’s perspective. The novel begins with the start of Grendel’s reign of terror on Hrothgar and his people, the Scyldings, and ends with Grendel’s death at the hands of Beowulf. Throughout the novel, Grendel laments his own existence and his consciousness of the mechanical workings of the world around him. In many ways, Grendel is a half-step between animal and man. He sees himself as mechanical in nature, prone to a particular behavior and disposition much like the wild animals around him. But unlike the animals, he is conscious of his own nature, and for this awareness he curses his own existence. Those who believe like True Detective‘s Rust Cohle  and horror writer Thomas Ligotti that human consciousness is a “tragic misstep in evolution” will find validation in Grendel’s existential plight.

A bard who resides in King Hrothgar’s mead hall, referred to as The Shaper, also fuels the fires of Grendel’s existential angst by singing songs of praise about Hrothgar’s prestigious kingdom. Despite Grendel’s assurance that the universe is a product of blind mechanics with no objective meaning to be found, he still can’t help but feel emotionally moved by the Shaper’s songs, leading him to think that there might be a grain of truth in them.  At one point the Shaper characterizes Grendel as one of the descendants of Cain cursed by God. When Grendel first hears this he appears to them carrying a man whose throat had been slit by another Scylding as if to say that humans are no different than he is, and they have no grounds to reject him. Naturally, this backfires as Hrothgar’s men misunderstand Grendel’s intention and attack him.

Grendel remains mystified at how the humans manage to shape the world around them in defiance of the seemingly meaningless universe around them. He consults with The Dragon (the same dragon who is later killed by Beowulf) who has knowledge of the past, present, and future, in the hopes that The Dragon will alleviate his distress. The Dragon remains primarily indifferent to Grendel’s plight, but he provides Grendel with a way of finding a purpose in his life. When Grendel suspects that it’s best not to torment and terrify Hrothgar and his men, The Dragon responds by insisting that Grendel has every reason to do so. The Dragon declares that Grendel “improves” and “stimulates” humans. By being the antithesis to mankind, Grendel gives their lives meaning. And in turn, by fighting and terrifying the Scyldings, Grendel obtains meaning in his own life. Even if the tales the humans tell of gods, good and evil, and heroism aren’t true (The Dragon insists that they aren’t), there is still a certain joy to be derived from attempting to nullify them.

Rereading this section of Grendel reminded me of a section of Moldbug’s “Why Carlyle Matters” in which he defines what a reactionary is:

 A reactionary is not a Republican, a Democrat, or even a libertarian. It is not even a communist, a fascist, or a monarchist. It is something much older, stranger, and more powerful. But if you can describe it as anything, you can describe it as the pure opposite of progressivism.

Notice how Moldbug doesn’t define the term “reactionary” based so much on what it is, but rather what it is not. In order to fully understand what Moldbug means by “reactionary” one must know what it means to be a progressive. We as reactionaries understand ourselves by understanding what it is we oppose. Likewise with Grendel. Grendel understands himself as being the opposite of humans.

Whether you agree with Grendel’s view of the world or not, it is important to understand that Grendel serves as the negation of what humans stand for and in turn validates their existence. Whether what humans blame Grendel for is true or not doesn’t matter so long as it gives human lives a sense of direction. Having a monster to battle is just one way humans give their lives meaning. It’s important to understand this because reactionaries are the Grendels of the modern world.

Grendel doesn’t choose to be the outsider. He doesn’t choose to be the descendant of Cain. And yet, the Shaper insists that he is, so Grendel becomes what the Shaper says he is. We reactionaries didn’t choose to be descended from civilized European colonists  old white bigots who made American civilization possible created a culture of oppression against ethnic minorities. But the Cathedral insists that we are, so we become what the Cathedral says we are.

I’m sure many of us in the past have tried to offer olive branches to the progressives the way Grendel does only to be met with anger and righteous indignation. What many conservatives can’t seem to understand when they attempt to argue with leftists in good faith is that the left honestly believes that the right is filled with monsters. And there’s no point in having a civil discourse with monsters.

So where does this leave us? Should we embrace the idea that we’re monsters and torment the Left the way Grendel torments the Scyldings?

One may object to the idea of “embracing” the idea that we’re monsters as adopting a Leftist frame. However, the fact that the Left considers us monsters despite our insistence to the contrary is unavoidable. Whether we decide to storm their mead halls or try to appease them with peace offerings is irrelevant to how they see us. If they have already decided that we aren’t worth engaging in good faith, then there’s nothing to gain from attempting to reconcile our differences. I think most of my readership has already come to this conclusion.

At any rate, I’d like to challenge the notion that “becoming Grendel” necessarily entails letting our adversaries frame the narrative as it were with another example from Grendel. Around the middle point of the novel, Grendel becomes rather bored with storming Hrothgar’s mead hall and terrorizing the Scyldings. But right as his existential angst reappears, he encounters a warrior named Unferth. Unferth stands out from the other Scyldings by making grandiose speeches about heroism, and the honor that comes through death in war. Unlike the other Scyldings who seem fearful of Grendel, Unferth sees it as a high honor to die by Grendel’s hand. Grendel realizes that killing Unferth will only bring him more prestige in death, so he decides to humiliate him instead. When Unferth confronts Grendel in the mead hall, Grendel answers his call to battle by throwing apples at him. The embarrassed Unferth pursues Grendel back to his lair in the hopes to actually do battle with him. Unfortunately for Unferth, Grendel sees through his attempt at heroism and instead of killing him brings him safely back to Hrothgar’s hall unharmed.

From then on, Unferth continues to confront Grendel whenever he attacks the mead hall. Grendel responds by ignoring Unferth and killing all of the lesser Scyldings. The lesson here is that even if Grendel operates within the Scyldings’ narrative, it’s still possible for him to subvert that narrative without simply devouring every human he sees. If a monster is clever enough to undo his opposition without resorting to brute violence, then surely we are capable of doing so as well.

There is much to be learned from Grendel, not just what reactionaries have in common with Grendel, but also what makes us different. Later in the novel, Grendel realizes that he can’t completely destroy Hrothgar. If he does, then his life loses its purpose. Reactionaries, on the other hand want to completely subvert the left wing so as to make it completely powerless. Unlike our conservative counterparts, we understand that complete rightist victory entails nullifying political voice and thereby nullifying all potential channels for leftists to gain a foothold on any degree of political power. If the reactionaries win though, they cease to be reactionaries, because there is nothing left to react to. Similarly, Grendel would cease to be Grendel if Hrothgar were to die and his house fall. Luckily for reactionaries, we have separate identities to fall back on that aren’t characterized by our opposition to leftism giving us a sense of purpose when the reaction is over and done with. At least, I hope that’s the case for at least most of us.

At last, I’d like to touch on Grendel’s last words, “Poor Grendel has had an accident. So may you all.” What do they mean?

For those who have at least read “Beowulf” recall how Beowulf kills Grendel. Grendel breaks into the mead hall while the Scyldings and the Geats (Beowulf’s people) are asleep. When Grendel picks up a supposedly sleeping Beowulf, Beowulf grips Grendel’s arm tightly and wrenches it off. In Grendel, we get to hear Grendel’s impression of his own death. Grendel insists that it was an act of chance that allowed Beowulf to get the upper hand in their fight. He makes excuses, saying that if he hadn’t slipped on a puddle of blood he left dripping from another man he had eaten, Beowulf wouldn’t have won the battle. Beowulf tricked him, he declares, yet the reader may be inclined to believe that the reason Grendel lost the fight was due to his own oversight, not blind chance.

As Beowulf wrestles with Grendel, he whispers things into Grendel’s ear that suggest that Grendel’s will makes things as they are. When Beowulf slams Grendel against a wall, he declares that the reason the wall is hard is because Grendel believed it to be so. The world, Beowulf declares, is what you will it to be, “Whether you make it a grave or a garden of roses is not the point” he says [emphasis in the original].

As such, Grendel’s fight with Beowulf reflects a struggle between two contradictory philosophical ideas. Grendel, representing the view that our sense perceptions give us access to an objective world around us, loses the fight to Beowulf who seems to have a semi-Kantian idealistic view of the world, postulating that our minds make the world as it is. While the fact that Grendel loses the fight doesn’t prove that his view of the world is unsound, it at the very least suggests that such a worldview can’t save him from death. Whether what Beowulf’s theory of mind and perception is true or not is irrelevant, the fact remains that he won and Grendel lost. Some philosophical ideas are more adaptive than others, even if they are far-fetched.

Thus, Grendel’s last words not only reveal his regret at the oversight he made, but also reflects how he steadfastly clings to the fact that his fate is the product of what he calls, “mere logic of chance.” He regrets what happened to him, but isn’t willing to acknowledge that he made some kind of mistake in challenging Beowulf. Despite the challenge to his worldview that Beowulf presents, Grendel clings to what he holds to be true until his death.

Grendel serves as both an amusing exploration of what it’s like to be an outsider as well as a somber cautionary tale. I don’t encourage readers to adopt Grendel’s existentialist philosophy (after all, look what it does for him), however, I found Grendel a fitting resource for putting the war between reactionaries and progressives in context. Progressives already see reactionaries as monsters, so what’s wrong with little acts of horrorism here and there? Why not add a little twist of Cain to your traditionalism? I encourage all reactionaries to draw from this book. See what you may learn.

Posted in Cathedral, Literature, Philosophy, Reaction | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Caligula’s Council Episode 1: From the New World

I’m proud to announce a collaborative podcast with One Irradiated Watson. Introducing Caligula’s Council!

In which we talk about whatever topics tickle our fancy. In this episode we discuss the anime Shinsekai Yori (From the New World).

Read my co-host’s blog: One Irradiated Watson

Watch Shin Sekai Yori on Crunchy Roll

Moldbug’s The Dire Problem

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Joy in a Time of Darkness: A Review of The Master and Margarita

A friend of the blog gave me a copy of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, recommending it because its themes are relevant to reactionary thinkers. Upon finishing it, I couldn’t agree more. The Master and Margarita should be required reading for anyone with rightist leanings. Needless to say, this review contains a few spoilers.

Speaking as a young man who arrived at reaction by secular means, I don’t believe it’s necessary to believe in God in order to become a reactionary. However, I can’t imagine how anyone after they have become a reactionary could possibly disbelieve in the Devil. How can anyone see the decadence that permeates modern culture and not believe that some kind of malevolent force is at work, leading humans astray from virtue and encouraging them to rebel against authority simply for rebellion’s sake? Surely it’s no coincidence that Saul Alinsky cites Lucifer as the first rebel in Rules for Radicals. The Devil must be alive and working in some capacity.

Such is the case in The Master and Margarita, which opens with the Devil meeting a critic and a poet sitting on a bench at the Patriarch’s Ponds in 1930’s Soviet Russia. The critic, Berlioz, head of the literary bureaucracy Massolit, is critiquing a poem written by the young Ivan “Homeless” Nikolavich, about the birth of Jesus. While Berlioz takes no issue with Ivan’s poem in the way that it mocks Jesus, he insists that the major problem with it is the fact that Ivan implies that Jesus existed in the first place. The problem isn’t with Ivan’s writing quality (which Bulgakov implies is actually quite poor) so much as the poem isn’t sufficiently atheistic. This should give the reader an idea of what the USSR was like at this time with its emphasis that art should conform to the communistic morays of the state. Naturally, this includes strong atheism. What Moldbug calls “The Cathedral” immediately springs to mind.

While Berlioz continues to give Ivan reasons to doubt the existence of Jesus as a historical figure, the Devil approaches them and interjects into their conversation. The Devil hears out Berlioz’s case against Jesus and appears delighted by Berlioz’s cleverness and his thorough understanding of history and philosophy. However the Devil then recounts being present when Jesus was brought to the procurator Pontius Pilate, insisting that Jesus did in fact exist. Berlioz and Ivan are unsure what to make of this.

Furthermore, the Devil predicts that Berlioz will suffer death by decapitation. Berlioz finds both the Devil’s story of Pilate and the prediction of how he will die absurd and intends to have him brought to the authorities. While attempting to do Berlioz slips on some spilled sunflower oil causing him to fall in front of an oncoming tramcar. The tramcar beheads Berlioz, just as the Devil predicted.

From this point on the story continues with the Devil and his followers deceiving and tormenting Muscovites in various ways, from getting some of them arrested for possession of illegal currency, to turning others into vampires. The Muscovites, of course, having been raised in Soviet Russia constantly try to explain the Devil’s supernatural tricks by naturalistic means. Since the reader is perfectly aware of the supernatural nature of what the Muscovites are dealing with, some strong dramatic irony is present in this part of the narrative making it all the more amusing to read. Further this dramatic irony accentuates the fact that the secular world these Muscovites live in is an ideal environment for the Devil to play his tricks.

The narrative of the Devil’s antics in Moscow is actually only one of three major narratives present in The Master and Margarita. The second narrative, which the Devil begins telling Berlioz and Homeless, is a re-telling of Christ’s execution under Pontius Pilate. If you are familiar the Gospel account of Christ’s execution (which I suspect the vast majority of my readership is), then this should be familiar subject matter. Bulgakov takes some artistic license with the story of Pilate and changes some of the details so as to make it more thematically consistent with the what takes place in 1930’s Moscow. One example of this is when Jesus declares cowardice to be the “most terrible vice.” Jesus never says this in the Gospels, but if he did then it wouldn’t be out of place. When you consider how Pilate condemns Jesus, an innocent man, in order to avoid an uprising and Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, does it not seem as though acts of cowardice are what led to Jesus’ death? On a related note, doesn’t “cowardice is the most terrible vice” sound like a rather reactionary precept?

For Pilate, this act of cowardice haunts him throughout the novel. He suffers from headaches and is often irritable.  After executing Jesus he continually has dreams about Jesus and himself having a pleasant walk and an engaging philosophical debate that never reaches its conclusion. These ailments, both physical and mental, plague Pilate for the rest of his life and well into his afterlife until he is finally redeemed.

Enter the third narrative involving a man only known to the reader as “the master” and his lover Margarita. The master composes a manuscript actually telling the second narrative about Pontius Pilate, and he is later revealed to be an instrument of Pilate’s redemption. The master’s back story is semi-autobiographical in that Bulgakov drew from his own attempts at publishing early drafts of The Master and Margarita. Like Bulgakov, the master faces serious backlash for his work leading him to abandon his novel altogether. Eventually the stress of attempting to have his master work published is so great that he disappears to an insane asylum without telling Margarita. Margarita is so devoted to the master that this leaves her distraught with thoughts that her life is no longer worth living without him.

Sensuality is a dominant theme in this section of the narrative, particularly in the master and Margarita’s relationship. One idea that I’ve been toying with in particular is the distinction between sensuality and hypersexuality. While I view sensuality as the mere enjoyment of sexual pleasure, hypsersexuality would be the hedonistic pursuit of carnal pleasure for its own sake. Nowadays modern society emphasizes hypersexuality to the point where mere sensuality appears prudish in comparison. Don’t believe me? Spend some time on the “Sex and Relationships” sections of websites like Salon and Huffington Post and get back to me when you’re sufficiently dead inside.

Hypersexuality isn’t present in The Master and Margarita, but prudishness–its polar opposite–is. Margarita’s loyalty and moral goodness is characterized by her passionate devotion to the master. We are introduced to Margarita as a woman who is in a passable, but passionless marriage. She has all of her needs met and her husband provides for her, but she is still unhappy. And when the master, her lover, disappears without a trace, she finds nothing worth living for. However, when the Devil presents her with an opportunity to save the master, she jumps at the opportunity and leaves her husband and everything about her previous life behind.

Degenerate? Perhaps at first glance. But there is a greater purpose at work behind Margarita’s infidelity. Namely, she is attempting to rescue the master, a man who holds the key to the redemption of Pontius Pilate. While neither her actions nor intentions are themselves morally righteous, they still serve a noble end. Furthermore, the master and Margarita are not necessarily rewarded for their actions. I won’t spoil what happens to them here, but I will say it’s a bittersweet ending. Tear-jerking, but bittersweet.

In order to fully understand the Devil’s role in The Master and Margarita, as well as the justification for Margarita’s service to him, always keep the epigraph that appears at the beginning of the novel:

‘…who are you then?’
‘I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good.’

–Goethe, Faust

It’s easy to look at the world and lament at the seeming uselessness of evil or human suffering. One can be tempted to adopt the pessimistic worldview of thinkers like Thomas Ligotti. But reading The Master and Margarita has sort of warmed me to the way of thinking that there is no such thing as needless suffering or pointless evil. Evil may be antifragile, but it still isn’t capable of destroying the good.

The Master and Margarita is a delight to read not just for the quality of the work, but more for what the work represents: the triumph of creative freedom in a dark time. Bulgakov went through several iterations of this book, which faced scathing reviews from Soviet critics. The backlash against early versions of what would later become The Master and Margarita weighed so heavy on his soul that he even burned one of the manuscripts. The book never saw publication until the 1960’s, after Bulgakov had died. He was in such poor health near the end of his life that he had to dictate the last snippets of the novel for his wife to write down. And yet in spite of all of the hardships Bulgakov faced, a book so antithetical to Soviet sensibilities was finally published and it resonated with Russians more so than any of his previous works. This is what is most inspiring about The Master and Margarita: the circumstances of the time Bulgakov spent writing it should have prevented its publication, and yet it still saw the light of day.

As reactionaries, we hold views that could damage our careers, hence why we tend to use pseudonyms when expressing our opinions on online forums. Today our society claims to uphold values like free speech, but one need look no further than Brendan Eich or Pax Dickinson to realize that we live in a time where the wrong kind of free speech can cost you your livelihood. It isn’t as bad as Stalin’s reign of terror, to be sure, but the principle is the same, free speech takes a backseat to ideological conformity.

It’s easy to get discouraged by the drudgery that comes from living in the modern world. We reactionaries have, by default, a pessimistic worldview. Our acceptance of the harsh rule of Gnon rather than the kindly embrace of Elua certainly reflects this tendency. The world is dark and inhospitable, and civilization helps us to survive in it. To us it seems that civilization is crashing down on all sides and everyone around us would rather stay glued to their iPhones or force acceptance of transexuality among other forms of degeneracy. This is why I encourage everyone to read The Master and Margarita, because it reminded me that even in dark times there is room for creativity, love, redemption and with those things comes hope. And hope is something I think we could use a little more of around these parts.

Click here to purchase The Master and Margarita

Posted in Cathedral, Literature, Reaction | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments


Salon goes full communism (h/t Salondotcom)

I don’t personally have much to say about the article, save for the fact that I find “myth” number 3 particularly egregious. Perhaps the writer is right that 110 million people weren’t killed for resisting communist regimes, but it’s rather telling that the mass murders committed by communist dictators don’t seem to give him pause. Besides, the USSR killed a bunch of Nazis, so they couldn’t be all bad, right?

Another note that will be of interest to those of a techno-commercialist orientation: “try and exit, ‘the market.'” True, you can’t. But is communism not in and of itself an attempt to exit the market? And does it please Gnon to try?

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Downward Spiral

It seems that once again scientific progress is taking a backseat to so called “moral progress.” James Watson is selling his Nobel Prize for discovering the Double Helix structure of DNA (h/t Contemplationist).

After reading the article, I’m still trying to figure out if this is an apologetic gesture. Perhaps it’s a sacrificial offering to the Cathedral. After all, he has admitted he hopes that selling the medal will help him to “re-enter public life” after being ostracized for his comments about African IQ. I want to believe it’s a symbolic gesture to the Cathedral, as if to say, “Take your moral progress and shove it, hippy scum!” I doubt that’s what he’s thinking, but that’s what I would say if I were in his position.

I can’t say I have much insight into the heart of Professor Watson, but my heart goes out to him nonetheless. The fact that one of the most accomplished scientists in history has to sell off the symbol of one of his greatest contributions to biology to make ends meet simply for telling the truth deeply saddens me.

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The Left that Should Not Be

Earlier today I was thinking back to a particular day when I encountered some Jehovah’s Witnesses on my doorstep. I was raking the leaves in the front yard, so they essentially cornered me. They served me pamphlets after talking to me about human suffering. “Can there be an end to suffering? Is there a means to alleviate it?” they asked me. I simply nodded in agreement, trying to mask my irritation as much as possible until they left so I could finish raking the lawn.

I looked back on that experience later around the time I was just introducing myself to antinatalism and philosophical pessimism when an idea occurred to me. What if I had made pamphlets of my own for the purpose of convincing Jehovah’s Witnesses who knocked on my door not to procreate? What better way to end suffering than by limiting the amount of humans we bring into the world so that there are no more humans to suffer? In the meantime we can live out our lives as virtuous, kind, Christian people so that the remaining people on Earth will attain salvation? Admittedly, it would be a tough sell to a group of people whose Holy Book tells them to “be fruitful and multiply,” but I thought it would be amusing, nonetheless.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the notion, antinatalism is the belief that procreation is morally wrong. It takes the negative utilitarian premise that morally correct actions must minimize suffering, but not necessarily maximize pleasure, to its logical extreme. Ultimately the best way to prevent suffering is for humans to cease to exist. To the antinatalist, the most moral action a person could possibly perform is to sterilize himself.

It’s a depressing philosophy, to say the least. It’s not for the faint at heart. I almost feel bad for even considering even promoting it to Jehovah’s Witnesses considering the potential psychological distress it could have caused them.

But then that little devil that whispers terrible, horrible, no-good-very-bad things in my ear popped up on my shoulder and suggested something to me. In the spirit of AAA, what if we tried convincing progressives that antinatalism is true? While antinatalism is a rather dour philosophy, you can’t fault it for being logically inconsistent. And in my experience, antinatalists are far from intellectually bankrupt. But what antinatalism has in intellectual rigor, it lacks in having a practical application. If antinatalists got their way, odds are the only thing that would happen is that they would die out while the pro-natalists they failed to convince would inherit the Earth. And that’s why I’m thinking rightists should promote it.

Now when I say we should promote antinatalism, I’m not saying we should become antinatalists. Rather, I’m suggesting that we convince leftists that if they really care about being good people, then they should stop reproducing altogether. In fact, many of the arguments for antinatalism hinge on liberal principles. Consider the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. They are an environmentalist group that argues that since humans are Earth’s biggest polluters, we should voluntarily opt out of the gene pool so we don’t further consume limited resources and contaminate the planet. Tired of smelly hipsters telling you about the evils of GMOs and the dangers of climate change? Now thanks to the VHEM, your kids won’t have to!

And how about those pesky feminists? They’re an endless source of amusement for yours-truly, but they aren’t harmless. Especially when you consider that they advocate policies that destroy the SMV of our women as well as our men (because men need feminism too). So why not tell women to tie the knot in order to fight the patriarchy? This way feminists can have the career they want without ever having to question the moral implications of squandering their genes. And more importantly, they won’t raise children on feminist ideology, which will lead to a greater proportion of well-adjusted women raised by traditionalists.

I call this strategy instrumental antinatalism.

Admittedly, this is something leftists are already doing. They’re living lifestyles that are inherently dysgenical, so in the long run we can’t expect this progressive epoch to last forever. The difference though is that the current crop of leftists don’t view voluntarily opting out of the gene pool to be a moral imperative. But given their animosity towards Darwinism, I’m sure that telling them that procreation is a horrible sin against social justice shouldn’t be too hard a sell.

It all boils down to this: if they’re going to opt out of the gene pool; let’s encourage them.

Posted in Eugenics, Humor, Ideology, Reaction | 4 Comments

Feminism vs. Fatalism

Jessica Valenti asks the question on everyone’s minds, “Why is it easier to invent anti-rape nail polish than find a way to stop rapists?” An excellent question! While we’re pondering it, I’d like to pose this query: “Why is it easier to raise a standing army than to find a way to end war?” On a related note, “Why is it easier to carry a gun in the event of a need to defend yourself than to find a way to stop aggravated assault?” To those of us with a realistic bent to our thinking, these questions essentially answer themselves. Unfortunately there are some among us who are both over the age of 8 and have still declared war on reality.

Valenti makes her position perfectly clear: no solution to the problem of rape short of forever ending the possibility of rape is an acceptable solution. To suggest that women ought to take precautions against being raped is to suggest that rape is inevitable, which to Valenti and other feminists is simply repugnant. More repugnant than to suggest that men should carry pepper spray with them in the event that they’re assaulted? Curiously, feminists seem to remain silent on that subject.

By encouraging women to take precautions that could reduce the possibility of being raped, are evil misogynistic patriarchy-enablers like myself implying that rape is inevitable? Perhaps we are. Call me a fatalist or as I like to call myself, an adult. An adult understands that conflict among people is an inevitable aspect of life, whether you want to believe that or not. Conflict can include anything from a disagreement to a war. And conflict is always inevitable.

Rape is horrid. Particularly horrid. Naturally, I want feasible solutions that will reduce its occurrence. Feminists, however, have no eye for nuance, as I’ve stated before. They apparently envision a world where rape simply doesn’t happen. It’s an admirable vision, but is educating men about things like “enthusiastic consent” really going to get us there? I doubt it. Enabling women to defend themselves against potential rapists is a wise idea though, and I fail to understand why anyone would think otherwise. Unless of course, you’re a child.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Feminism and Objective Irony

Vox reminds us that yes, even ironic sexism is “terrible.” It is, shall we say, ironic that a political movement so indebted to post-structuralist thought and the art of deconstruction doesn’t seem to appreciate irony very much. I’m sure that in light of the SJWs bashing the Academy for the segment they did with Sofia Vergara, Jean Baudrillard is either rolling around in his grave or laughing himself back to death.

Baudrillard suggested that an objective irony overlooks reality. Objects and language have ultimately more control of our actions and the way we think than we would like to believe. The crises we face in a postmodern world that are beyond our control are, in a certain sense, ironic. I have a tendency to dismiss postmodernism as incoherent drivel, but I can’t help but appreciate this particular contribution to Continental philosophy in general. Sure, it’s on the same intellectual level as nonsense like “critical theory,” a field of study that has done the most damage to academia insofar as bankrupting it intellectually. But even I have to admit, deconstruction can be fun in the same sense that astrology and tarot cards are fun.

If we accept Baudrillard’s objective irony*, in a sense feminism’s war on irony becomes a war on reality itself. Wars on reality are endless sources of amusement for yours truly, and I should hope they’re amusing to all 4 regular readers of this blog.

Consider the segment of the Emmys featuring the lovely Sofia Vergara standing awkwardly atop a rotating pedestal. As she does so, Bruce Rosenblum gives a speech on how much progress television has made in terms of “its greater diversity of storytelling,” and other such progressive advancements. The segment is ironic since putting Vergara on a pedestal contradicts the speech on the advancements TV has made as a medium of entertainment. 

As you can see in the Vox piece linked above, feminists were not amused. No, as Lindy West has eloquently pointed out before, no forms of racism or sexism are acceptable even if they are in an ironic context. But the entire postmodern condition in which we exist is an essentially ironic context. So what is a feminist to do? The only thing feminists know how to do, moan about the misogynistic condition in which women exist, ironic or otherwise. Questions of social justice shouldn’t be complicated. Misogyny is whatever feminists consider offensive or “icky”, so whatever registers on a feminist’s “ick factor” is unacceptably misogynistic, ironic subtlety be damned.

The ultimate irony, of course, is that irony is omnipresent. Life is full of subtlety that we cannot avoid, whether feminists like it or not. They can try to make a world in which all consent is “enthusiastic” and where there is “no reason” to hit a woman, but such a project is doomed to fail. In the postmodern tradition, where irony is the rule of law, irony will always sneak by under feminists’ noses. And irony is what makes what feminist consider disgusting socially acceptable.

*If I recall correctly, Baudrillard’s postmodern critics didn’t. To suggest the existence of an omnipresent irony beyond our own control is a kind of grand narrative. Postmodernism opposes grand narratives.

Posted in Humor | Tagged | 4 Comments

Moar AAA

I’m surprised to see the positive response my previous post on AAA has garnered. First off, I’d like to thank New International Outlook and Nick Land for linking to the post. These past two days has resulted in the highest amount of traffic this blog has seen. I hope at some point I’ll be posting articles that warrant such a large amount of linkage more regularly.

Lots of neoreactionaries besides NIO and Land consider the idea of AAA tantalizing, which actually surprised me. There are various ways to implement AAA, from the moderate to the extreme. NIO’s most recent post here (he’s been especially prolific with this concept. I’m impressed) classifies various means of pursuing AAA as a strategy. They range from “Confusion Trolling” to “Ratchet Breaking.” Allowing for a range of tactics is particularly helpful in this case, as it allows for reactionaries implementing AAA to decide which strategies will lead to the outcome we desire most.

The most radical of the strategies is Ratchet Breaking, which I doubt most reactionaries would consider a desirable outcome in and of itself. Those among you who read my first post on AAA will probably notice its cautious tone. This was deliberate since I suspected something like “Ratchet Breaking” could occur if AAA were implemented without restraint. NIO suggests that under this strategy, leftist chaos would be occurring on rightist terms. Since rightists are going to be the ones implementing the chaos that comes from Left Singularity, the assumption is that rightists will have covert pro-civilization safety measures in place so as to offset the damage inherent to Left Singularity. If we decide that Ratchet Breaking is the ultimate conclusion of AAA (which NIO cautions is not for the faint at heart),  then we should figure out what specific pro-civilization strategies we should implement in tandem with AAA.

With that cautious disclaimer out of the way, I’d like to reiterate how impressed I am with how quickly the AAA meme has spread among neoreactionaries. If NIO’s latest post on the subject is any indication, there is a swath of applications of the AAA strategy all of which could lead to a myriad of desirable outcomes for neoreaction.

Take for instance Slate Star Scratchpad’s commentary on AAA in which he speculates about AAA’s implementation taken to comical proportions. While amusing, Slate Star’s post implies that the Left could catch on to AAA, and respond with some DAA (Disagree, Amplify, Accelerate). This could be a desirable outcome for the Right because it means we might not have to do all of the heavy lifting when trying to rebuild a stable civilization once leftward drift has reached its climax. The Left itself would be forced to offset leftward drift.

On the other hand, some accelerationists have caught on to AAA, outlining another potential Leftist response:

To a Leftist who is confident that leftward drift won’t lead to apocalypse, AAA is probably the most important development in Rightist political strategy because it gives them exactly the outcome they desire. All they have to do is accelerate the process Rightists have already initiated. But to a Rightist, this is desirable because from our perspective the Left is now actively bringing about their own downfall. So whether the Left resists AAA or encourages it at their own peril, either outcome will lead to the initiation of stable Rightist institutions. It’s a win-win.

I initially came up with the strategy of AAA as an expansion of NIO’s concept of Activism Judo. Now it has become difficult to come up with an apt metaphor to describe it. It seems to be a bizarre combination of jiu-jitsu, poker, and chicken. Both the Left and Right place bets on the outcome of Left Singularity and grapple with each other using the other’s weight against them. Ultimately one of them will be subdued, and the other will be victorious. It’s just a matter of whether one side caves in to the other, or if one of them gets knocked out to the point where they won’t get up for at least another 100 years.

Posted in Ideology, Reaction | 1 Comment