Sunday, December 20, 2015

More Houellebecq.

The Paris Review conducted an interview with Michael Houellebecq earlier this year upon the release of his book, Submission. The interview was quite interesting, given the nature of Houellebecq's previous novels and I thought as a follow up to the previous post  I would reprint some of the interview as I felt that Houellebecq's comments complemented my own view of the novel. Note,   I've not reprinted it in full, just some sections of it which I felt were pertinent.

This is the world imagined by Michel Houellebecq in his sixth novel, Soumission (Submission), which will appear next week. Should it be read as a bad Op-Ed, as pulp fiction for an election year, or as the attempt of a great writer to air a social critique through farce? In an exclusive interview—the first he's given about this novel—Houellebecq explains what led him to write a book that has already created a scandal in France, even before its publication.
Why did you do it? 

For several reasons, I’d say. First of all, I think, it’s my job, though I don’t care for that word. I noticed some big changes when I moved back to France, though these changes are not specifically French, but rather Western [ED] As an exile you don’t take much of an interest in anything, really, neither your society of origin nor the place you live—and besides, Ireland is a slightly odd case. I think the second reason is that my atheism hasn’t quite survived all the deaths I’ve had to deal with. In fact, it came to seem unsustainable to me.
The death of your dog, of your parents?

Yes, it was a lot in a short period of time. Part of it may be that, contrary to what I thought, I never was quite an atheist. I was an agnostic. Usually that word serves as a screen for atheism but not, I think, in my case. When, in the light of what I know, I reexamine the question whether there is a creator, a cosmic order, that kind of thing, I realize that I don’t actually have an answer.
Whereas before you felt

I thought I was an atheist, yes. Now I really don’t know. So those are the two reasons I wrote the book, the second reason probably outweighing the first [ED].
It's interesting to note, that from the outset, Houellebecq raises the issue of religion as an important thematic consideration for the novel. The lumpen-proletariat can't see past the Islamic "dressing" of the novel and assume it's all about an Islamic takeover.
But my project was very different at the beginning. It wasn’t meant to be called Soumission—the first title was La Conversion. And in my original project, the narrator converted, too, but to Catholicism. Which is to say, he followed in Huysmans’s footsteps a century later, leaving naturalism to become Catholic. And I wasn’t able to do it.
Why not?
It didn’t work. In my opinion, the key scene of the book is the one where the narrator takes one last look at the Black Madonna of Rocamadour, he feels a spiritual power, like waves, and all at once she fades into the past and he goes back to the parking lot, alone and basically in despair.
Houellebecq's power as a writer seems to lay in the fact that he is able to describe the everyday banality of life so well in a world soaked with physical pleasures. If his novel is to be taken as an act of social commentary, Submission, should frighten the hell out of Christian types, since what Houellebecq is saying that contemporary Christianity has failed even those who are looking for it. Unlike the atheists who would see this a triumph, he notes this fact with a sadness and a sense of mourning.

Where did you get the idea for a presidential election, in 2022, that came down to Marine Le Pen and the leader of a Muslim party?
Well, Marine Le Pen strikes me as a realistic candidate for 2022—even for 2017 … The Muslim party is more … That’s the heart of the matter, really. I tried to put myself in the place of a Muslim, and I realized that, in reality, they are in a totally schizophrenic situation. Because overall Muslims aren’t interested in economic issues, their big issues are what we nowadays call societal issues. On these issues, obviously, they are very far from the left and even further from the Green Party. Just think of gay marriage and you’ll see what I mean, but the same is true across the board. And one doesn’t really see why they’d vote for the right, much less for the extreme right, which utterly rejects them. So if a Muslim wants to vote, what’s he supposed to do? The truth is, he’s in an impossible situation. He has no representation whatsoever. It would be wrong to say that this religion has no political consequences—it does. So does Catholicism, for that matter, even if the Catholics have been more or less marginalized. For those reasons, it seems to me, a Muslim party makes a lot of sense.

......But we can reasonably assume that for every guy like that there are several dozen who convert and don’t go off to wage jihad in Syria, who don’t do anything of the kind. After all, one doesn’t wage jihad for the fun of it, that sort of thing only interests people who are strongly motivated by doing violence, which is to say, necessarily a minority.

You could also say that what really interests those people is going to Syria, rather than converting.

I disagree. I think there is a real need for God and that the return of religion is not a slogan but a reality, and that it is very much on the rise.

That hypothesis is central to the book, but we know that it has been discredited for many years by numerous researchers, who have shown that we are actually witnessing a progressive secularization of Islam, and that violence and radicalism should be understood as the death throes of Islamism. That is the argument made by Olivier Roy, and many other people who have worked on this question for more than twenty years.

This is not what I have observed, although in North and South America, Islam has benefited less than the evangelicals. This is not a French phenomenon, it’s almost global. I don’t know about Asia, but the case of Africa is interesting because there you have the two great religious powers on the rise—evangelical Christianity and Islam. I remain in many ways a Comtean, and I don’t believe that a society can survive without religion[ED]
Some of you may want to read up on Auguste Comte because Houellebecq seems to be basis his philosophical position upon some of Comte's. Comte was an atheist, whose understanding of human society led him to the conclusion that some form of religion was necessary. But while Houellebecq does endorse some of his views, he has been critical of Comte in the past so I don't think he is some kind of objective Comtean. I get the impression  that he's more a "reactive Comtean" seeing the necessity, particularly of the Christian religion by seeing the consequences of a world without it.
But why did you decide to tell these things in such a dramatically exaggerated way when even you acknowledge that the idea of a Muslim president in 2022 is unrealistic?

That must be my mass market side, my “thriller” side.
It's here where Houellebecq pretty much admits that "Islamic" component of the book was simply to generate sales. It says a lot about he professional commentariat--even self proclaimed "intellectuals"--who can see nothing else in this book except the Islamic component of it with the occasional reference to its sexual depictions.  This book is primarily about the religious failure of the West which is the novel does not celebrate but mourns.
To go back to the question of your unrealistic exaggerations, in your book you describe, in a very blurry and vague way, various world events, and yet the reader never knows quite what these are. This takes us into the realm of fantasy, doesnt it, into the politics of fear.

Yes, perhaps. Yes, the book has a scary side. I use scare tactics.

Like imagining the prospect of Islam taking over the country?

Actually, it’s not clear what we are meant to be afraid of, nativists or Muslims. I leave that unresolved.
Very, Very interesting comment. As I said in my previous post, Houellebecq portrayal of the Right is very ambivalent.  Firstly, he recognises the existence of the cuckservative sort of conservative who would rather join with the socialists and allow Islam to win rather than unite with the Natrualists. But he certainly does not give the impression that the far Right is some kind of saviour of Europe. In fact, the man who finally convert Francoisto Islam is an apologist who had his origins in the french Far Right. Houellebecq's view of the "nativists" is not positive.  And I really got the impression reading this book that Houellebecq may have been familiar with some of the writings in Neoreaction, based upon his references to the Right and the "internet".
You rely on another dubious dichotomy, the opposition between anti-Semitism and racism, when actually we can point to many moments in history when those two things have gone hand in hand.

I think anti-Semitism has nothing to do with racism. I’ve spent time trying to understand anti-Semitism, as it happens. One’s first impulse is to connect it with racism. But what kind of racism is it when a person can’t say whether somebody is Jewish or not Jewish, because the difference can’t be seen? Racism is more elementary than that, it’s a different skin color …

No, because cultural racism has been with us for a long time.

But now you’re asking words to mean something they don’t. Racism is simply when you don’t like somebody because he belongs to another race, because he hasn’t got the same color skin that you do, or the same features, et cetera. You can’t stretch the word to give it some higher meaning.
Houellebecq is a wordsmith and his insistence for precision in language and concept is apparent here. He is quite insistent on using words in the correct context while the Cathedral Operative wants to use it in more expansive way to condemn him.
But since, from a biological point of view, races dont exist, racism is necessarily cultural.
But racism exists, apparently, all around us. Obviously it has existed from the moment when races first began mixing … Be honest, Sylvain! You know very well that a racist is someone who doesn’t like somebody else because he has black skin or because he has an Arab face. That’s what racism is.

Or because his values or his culture are

No, that’s a different problem, I’m sorry.

Because he is polygamous, for example.

Ah, well, one can be shocked by polygamy without being the least bit racist. That must be the case for lots of people who are not the least bit racist. But let’s go back to anti-Semitism, because we’ve gotten off topic. Seeing as how no one has ever been able to tell whether somebody is Jewish just by his appearance or even by his way of life, since by the time anti-Semitism really developed, very few Jews had a Jewish way of life, what could antisemitism really mean? It’s not a kind of racism. All you have to do is read the texts to realize that anti-Semitism is simply a conspiracy theory—there are hidden people who are responsible for all the unhappiness in the world, who are plotting against us, there’s an invader in our midst. If the world is going badly, it’s because of the Jews, because of Jewish banks … It’s a conspiracy theory.
Somehow I don't think he'd fit in with the Radix crowd.
I dont see it. On the contrary, the same people are often militant antiracists and fervent defenders of secularism, with both ways of thinking rooted in the Enlightenment.
Look, the Enlightenment is dead, may it rest in peace [ED]. A striking example? The left wing candidate on Olivier Besancenot’s ticket who wore the veil, there’s a contradiction for you. But only the Muslims are in an actually schizophrenic situation. On the level of what we customarily call values, Muslims have more in common with the extreme right than with the left. There is a more fundamental opposition between a Muslim and an atheist than between a Muslim and a Catholic. That seems obvious to me.
Agree with him here. It also explains why he disparages Naturalism, because it ultimately shares the same metaphysics of the Left and therefore makes it hostile to religion as well. An atheist Right is simply the Left dressing in right wing drag. What I also find interesting here is his view that he thinks the Enlightenment is dead. I agree. The Left has long since left the discipline for rationality and is now motivated as much by sentiment as the traditional Right.  The enlightenment was not the enemy of Religion, strict Positivism was. But at least the positivists made some demand on rationality, whereas the modern Left is nothing more than another Romantic movement. Romantic, in the the sense that it is driven by feelings and intuition more than rational thought.
How would you place this novel in relation to your other books?

You might say I did several things that I’d wanted to do for a long time, things I’d never done before. Like having a very important character whom one never sees, namely Ben Abbes. I also think it’s the saddest ending to a love plot that I’ve ever written, because it’s the most banal—out of sight, out of mind. They had feelings. In general, there is a much stronger feeling of entropy than in my other books. It has a somber, crepuscular side, which accounts for the sadness of its tone. For example, if Catholicism doesn’t work, that’s because it’s already run its course[ED], it seems to belong to the past, it has defeated itself. Islam is an image of the future. Why has the idea of the Nation stalled out? Because it’s been abused too long.
Houellebecq, here, explains his novel. Catholicism has failed and there is a vacuum that needs to be filled, hence the appeal of Islam.  It's not Islam's strength that is causing it to occupy Europe, but Europe's spiritual weakness. It's interesting to note that the alternative to lslam is the HBD "naturalism" of the New Right. The ideals of both the Enlightenment and Catholicism have failed. In many ways he portrays a situation reminiscent of the late 1920's.
There is no trace of romanticism here, much less lyricism. Weve moved on to decadence. 

That’s true. The fact that I started with Huysmans must have something to do with this. Huysmans couldn’t go back to romanticism, but for him it was still possible to convert to Catholicism. The clearest point of connection with my other books is the idea that religion, of some kind, is necessary[ED]. That idea is there in many of my books. In this one, too, only now it’s an existing religion.
In Submission, Francois lover, Miriam--who is nominally Jewish--decides to emigrate to Israel to escape what she sees will be the upcoming persecution of the Jews. She asks that Francois accompany her, but he finds the prospect of living in Israel unappealing and declines. Francois envies Miriam because she has a place to go to,a refuge, a home. As he contemplates his own state, he realises his essential isolation and mourns the fact that "There is no Israel for me."

I think the interview is a good guide to understanding this book what the and what unites it with his others. These are spiritual books for a decadent age, and a lament for the loss of the "Old Christian Europe" by portraying, so vividly, what an empty place the modern wold has become.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Houellebecq's Submission

All intellectual debate in the twentieth century can be summed up as the battle between Communism-- that is, "hard" humanism-- and liberal democracy, the soft version.
 (Michel Houellebecq)

This is a powerful book, though too many people won't see it's depth and with few exceptions, most of the professional commentariat don't have a clue about what this book is about.

For the literate moron, this book is about the Islamic take over of France. For the Puritan, its about the puerile expression of Sex. For the feminist it is about misogyny. But for the Christian reactionary, this book is deep.

Really deep.

Houellebecq begins his novel citing a passage by J. K Huysmans ;
A noise recalled him to Saint-Sulpice; the choir was leaving; the church was about to close. 'I should have tried to pray,' he thought. 'It would have been better than sitting here in the empty church, dreaming in my chair — but pray? I have no desire to pray. I am haunted by Catholicism, intoxicated by its atmosphere of incense and wax. I hover on its outskirts, moved to tears by its prayers, touched to the very marrow by its psalms and chants. I am thoroughly disgusted with my life, I am sick of myself but so far from changing my ways! And yet . . . and yet . . . if I am troubled in these chapels, as soon as I leave them I become unmoved and dry. 'In the end', he told himself, as he rose and followed the last ones out, shepherded by the Swiss guard, 'in the end, my heart is hardened and smoked dry by dissipation. I am good for nothing.'
As alluded to in my previous post, a superficial social analyst focuses on the symptoms, a more serious one, the disease itself, and it here where Houellebecq demonstrates his skills as a diagnostician. Much as in Orwell's 1984, which showed Socialism triumphant over the human spirit, The central theme of the book is the death of Christian Europe and the victory of materialism. The books relationship relationship with Islam is quite incidental and quite plausibly have been set in the 1940's with fascism emerging triumphant.

Houellebecq tells his story though the lens of Francois, a middle aged professor of literature at the Sorbonne. Whilst Francois is an educated professional, he is, once out of his professional milleu, a French everyman. He likes fucking young women, he finds old women repulsive, he has problems with his parents and finances, he eats cheap microwave meals, and, as he ages, he can feel his body give up on him. Houellebecq's writing style brilliantly conveys the sense of tedium and emptiness in Francois life. When Francois attempts to have anal sex with a pair of hired prostitutes, his failure at climax has a deeper meaning than first appears. It's not just that he failed at sex--something which youth would not allow--rather it was evidence of his decay and corruption. If a full human life implied the the capacity to enjoy all possible pleasures, his failure at sex meant that his potential capacity as a human being was being constrained by the aging process. He was losing both his "humanity" and his reason to live.

Nagging at Francois is a sense of emptiness. Francois literary expertise is on the subject of Joris Karl Huysmans, a fin-de-siecle author, who is not just the subject of Francois studies, but a sort of kindred spirit, debauched in sensuality, yet thirsting too, from an emptiness. Huysmans finally found his emptiness filled in the embrace of religion, something Francois tries to emulate without success.
I stayed until the reading ended, but once it was over I realised that, despite the great beauty of the text, I'd have preferred to spend my last visit alone. What this severe statue expressed was not attachment to a homeland, to a country; not some celebration of the soldier's manly courage; not even a child's desire for his mother. It was something mysterious, priestly and royal that surpassed Peguy's understanding, to say nothing of Huysmans'. The next morning, after I filled up my car and paid at the hotel, I went back to the Chapel of Our Lady, which now was deserted. The Virgin waited in the shadows, calm and timeless. She had sovereignty, she had power, but little by little I felt myself losing touch, I felt her moving away from me in space and across the centuries while I sat there in my pew, shriveled and puny. After half an hour, I got up, fully deserted by the Spirit, reduced to my damaged, perishable body, and I sadly descended the stairs that led to the car park
This I think is the pivotal point of the book. Here, where Francois was actively reaching out for God, God failed him. Despite wanting to and seeing the need for it Francois simply cannot invoke the religious impulse. Christianity is dead. And, as the Christian God is, in Francois' eyes, intrinsically tied to the idea of European civilisation so is it. It is this central premise which provides the understanding as to why Islam achieves a victory in France and makes strides into Northern Europe as well. Houellebecq's realises that Islam does not need to conquer by force, all it needs to do is fill the vacuum as the ability to resist it has gone. His genius lays is in portraying the leader of the Muslims as a technically competent, yet skillfully moderate politician, who is able to unite all through the the strength of his personality. Making the transition easier is the fact that the new regime initially interferes very little in the day to day running of the country and actually improves the running of it. What they do insist upon though, is control of the culture, by which they very slowly apply the thumbscrews. France doesn't fight back simply because it has no sense of identity which it feels is being challenged.  Houellebecq describes the transition, with a few exceptions, as being rather orderly.

It just sort of happens.

The Sorbonne becomes Islamicised with teaching positions being reserved exclusively for those of the Islamic faith. Francois, initially resists but does eventually convert. However a consideration of the conversion as portrayed by Houellebecq does nothing to honour Islam, and in fact, presents it as just another form of materialism, a back-handed insult. Although Francois hears all the arguments as to why Islam is better than Christianity, none of them really seem to move him. What finally seals the deal is the fact that he will get his old job back, at a very much higher pay rate, with a chance to have sex with younger students through organised Islamic marriage. Islam is essentially a religion which is reconciled with the world. It's a submission to hedonism.

Houellebecq is subtle and very, very good. He's not giving Islam a free pass.

It's also important to realise that Islam is essentially an irrelevancy in this book. Had the book been written in the 1930's, Houellebecq may have used the Fascists, and the 1940's the Communists. The point being that anything can invade into the cultural vacuum of modern Europe. ( Houellebecq pretty much admitted that he used Islam in this role since it would generate controversy and promote book sales.  The book needed to be a "thriller"--- Hey, a man's gotta make a living.)

The book therefore is very similar to Orwell's 1984 and another French reviewer has recognised the similarity. However, unlike in 1984, where Orwell so devastatingly demonstrates the the triumph of the party over human will, without any sense of grief, I got the impression that Houellebecq wanted to the leave the option open to the reader that a European rebirth was possible.

In the novel, the opposition-Right sort of recedes into the background without being destroyed. Furthermore, when the subject of the Right is discussed, Houellebecq seems dismissive of the HBD type Right--the "naturalists"-- whilst portraying the religious Right--except for the clergy--in a positive light. Something I found odd, given his previous writing and something I suspect reflects a change in his thinking.

What led me to this conclusion was the prominence of another literary figure, Charles Peguy,  who makes an appearances in the book which I did not feel was "organic" to the story, unless Houellebecq's aim was to somehow to draw attention to him.

Peguy is an interesting figure and I'm still not sure what to make of him except that he appeared to be a force of nature. He was a socialist who became Catholic but his was the socialism St Francis, not the socialism of Karl Marx and thus he alienated himself for the champagne-Left of his time.  He hated the capitalists for exploiting the workers but he also admonished the workers for trying to exploit the capitalists though shoddy work. He ran a bookshop and published a literary magazine and always seemed to be on the verge of financial ruin. Interestingly one of the early subscribers to this limited run magazine was a young, recently graduated, army lieutenant, Charles De Gaulle.  De Gaulle later remarked that Peguy was his most formative intellectual influence. 

Peguy was quite prophetic in that  he recognised that Christianity was in deep trouble at the turn of the 20th Century. Amongst serious Catholic thinkers, Peguy is held in awe and I'm quite surprised that Houellebecq bothered to put him in one of his novels. But I have a suspicision.

Peguy's Christianity was not of the "fluffy unicorn" variety, rather it rejoiced in soldiering and brotherly solidarity and native identity.  His was a Christianity of the "blood and soil."
Happy are they who died in great battles,
Who were laid upon the earth in the sight of God.
Happy are they who died on the last rampart
With all the trappings of great funerals.

Happy are they who died for the carnal cities,
For those are the body of the city of God.
Happy are they who died for their hearths and fires
And the meagre honours of their native homes.

For those are the image and the seed
And the body and the first taste of the house of God.
Happy are they who died in this embrace 
Bound by honour and their earthly vows.
He was killed when a bullet went through his forehead just before the first battle of the Marne. His last words were purportedly, "For God's Sake, Push on."

So "manly" was his Christianity that the Fascists claimed him as one of their own, something he would have been horrified with. Peguy was a fierce Catholic and the calculating materialism of fascism was outside of his metaphysics. I suspect the reason why Houellebecq placed him in his book was to point toward an example of a Right which did not degenerate into a form of Le Pen-ism which France has had the unfortunate experience of in the past. Could it be that Houellebecq is hoping for a "Manly Christianity" which will fight for the identity of France and Europe? It's interesting to note that Chesterton and Belloc also get a mention in the book. Reactionaries take note.

There is a lot in this book that a reactionary would like. From the descriptions of the failing erotic capital of aging women to the ugliness of Church architecture. Houllebecq seems to be cut from the same cloth as most neoreactionairies and the character of Francois seems to be personifaction of the aphorism attributed to Chesterton;
A man knocking on the Brothel door is looking for God.
Peguy, Huysmans, Chesterton and Belloc. Houellebecq has been hanging around strange intellectual circles. I haven't read enough literature to know if this is a masterpiece but it sure as hell is a good book. I would recommend it to the intelligent with trigger warnings for everyone else.

Five stars.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nial Ferguson's Article.

Back in the early 80's, before the AID's virus was discovered, doctors became slowly aware that something was afoot by the fact that opportunistic diseases, which were previously rare, were being diagnosed with an increasing frequency. For those of you who aren't familiar with medicine, opportunistic diseases are diseases which only affect the body when it's immunity is impaired. In essence what the doctors soon realised was that the increasing frequency of oppurtinistic disease was a sign of something more serious going on and commenced their search for the AID's virus. In a few years the causative agent was discovered.

Now the important point of this little vignette is to recognise that the increasing frequency and severity of previously trivial problems is to the astute eye a sign of a more significant systemic malaise. Focusing solely on the opportunistic disease without asking why it's cropping up with increasing frequency is a sure way to miss the underlying systemic pathogen.  It's unfortunate, for society, that the best and brightest usually end up in Medicine and do not major in History. Therefore the West gets good medicine and bad History.

Which leads me to Niall Ferguson. I like him. I like him a lot. I would quite recommend his book--with caveats--The Great Degeneration.  However unlike Correlli Barnett, who is a superb historian, he just doesn't make the grade.

Ferguson penned this article, in response to the Paris Attacks, which seems to be have been syndicated to various papers.   These two paragraphs caught my eye:
But they cannot stream northwards and westwards without some of that political malaise coming with them. As Gibbon saw, convinced monotheists pose a grave threat to a secular empire[ED]

It is doubtless true to say that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Europe are not violent. But it is also true the majority hold views not easily reconciled with the principles of our liberal democracies, including our novel notions about sexual equality and tolerance not merely of religious diversity but of nearly all sexual proclivities. And it is thus remarkably easy for a violent minority to acquire their weapons and prepare their assaults on civilisation within these avowedly peace-loving ­communities.

Here's a few interesting speculations.. How many terrorist attacks occurred in monotheistic France in 1850?  Why is it easy for a violent minority to attack "avowedly peaceloving communities". Why is monotheism a problem for secular societies? It's not like the Anglicans are blowing things up and killing people.

Ferguson paints his response in the the context of Peter Heather's book, The Fall of the Roman Empire, which argues that foreign immigration and overextension presaged Rome's downfall, however this argument misses the point. Why didn't Rome choose to shrink into easily manageable borders and expel the immigrants. It's not like the Romans couldn't be ruthless.

Gibbons analysis is still the best, it was the moral corruption of Rome which rendered it impotent to new challenges. And just as in modern France, the rot was the inside. Foreign hordes only become an issue when either they invade by force or you let them in.

France's fundamental problem is a moral one. It's anti-islamophobic ideal fails to take into account, that Islam is hostile to secularism by its very nature. Good Muslims, who eschew violence, are still going to vote in a way that reflects Muslim ideals, and will try to achieve in the long run, peacefully, what Isis is trying to do by violent overthrow. What differentiates the two groups is the sense of urgency, not aim. (Though there is a wide variety of opinion in Islam as to what constitutes its true Nature. Not every Muslim is a ISIL fanatic.) A culture that that values non-judgementalism, even towards cultures that are hostile to THAT notion is one that will be soon eaten by the latter. Despite all the military hardware in the world.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Comments on Dampier's Posts.

Henry Dampier put up two posts last week which I heartily endorse.

Vulgar Racialism.
Visit California and Enjoy White Power.

If you haven't had a chance to do so, I recommended reading them. Furthermore, there are quite a few "nuggets" in the comments section of both posts which are worth expanding on.

One of the problems with "White Nationalism" is with regard to its understanding of social pathology. Just as Socialists tend to blame everything on exploitation of it victim base, Supremacists tend to see social pathology as a problem of racial contamination. But then, how to explain this;
Blacks didn’t ban the confederate flag: white liberals did. This is the big confusion that undermines this project — suicidal white liberals outnumber the people who want to vote for collective interests by an order of magnitude. The prospective coalition contains people who consider white separatism the worst moral crime.
If White= Good and Black= Bad, how to explain the above?  Some commentators whom I have sparred with have suggested that the liberal whites are "race traitors", but this generates another problem: How can you be a traitor to your genes if your genes determine if you're a traitor or not? If White is good then how come there are "bad" whites. It's a logical contradiction, though cognitive misers wouldn't notice.

The smarter supremacists would perhaps put forth the argument that yes, there are many race traitors but just because look white they're not really "white". Perhaps they're some kind of mischling or the like.  "Whiteness" being whoever agrees with my definition of it. You can see where the logic of this goes-"Whiteness" becomes a conditional social construct. If you are white and agree with me- then you are white, if not, then even though you look white you are not really white. Whiteness becomes white people who agree with me and since "purity" is what we're striving for it means "ridding" ourselves from the impure.  The Germans were quite happy to bomb those pseudo whites in Rotterdam.

This is the problem with racial theories of goodness, they're front loaded with modernist metaphysics which deny human free will and reduce everything to mechanical determinism. Furthermore, they're a  rejection of nearly two millennia of European history and therefore profoundly ant-European.
Racialism and its relatively recent variant, White nationalism, tends to reduce all political matters of importance down to whether or not a government is racially exclusive. The definition of ‘race’ also tends to be dumbed-down and diluted to the point to which it really is a social construct — a political fiction — rather than something with real genetic, cultural, and political salience.
Racialism is a recent thing, the word only making it's appearance in English in the 1870's, curiously corresponding the emergence of vulgar mass-man (i.e. cognitive misers) onto the cultural and political scene. One of the "Whitest" of all Germans, Wilhelm Ropke understood where this idiotic sentiment came from. Speaking of the recent Nazi electoral victory;
Ropke finished his Frankfurt speech by declaring that the current regimen was, far from being a national rebirth, merely the latest manifestation of Ortega y Gasset's "revolt of the masses." Ropke saw the popular support for the Nazi movement as a spasm of resentment on the part of the the huddled millions who had been deprived of their traditional livelihoods, uprooted from the land, concentrated in cities and put to work in factories, subjected to the vagaries of invisible economic forces, then regaled from Left to Right with propaganda that attributed all their troubles to capitalism and conspiracy. The mass, he predicted, is about to trample down the garden of European civilization, ruthlessly and unomprehendingly

( Zmirak, Wilhelm Ropke: Swiss Localist, Global Economist)
And Ropke was right.  The mob is inherently racist and attributes virtue to themselves and vice to others, thus racist theories are always going to gain traction amongst the cognitive lite. It's an ideology that preys on human cognitive weakness. It is a vulgar political and cultural phenomenon.

Another Great comment;
What plagiarist WN propagandists usually do is take the products of Christian (often Catholic) and Greco-Roman civilizations, and then declare those to be “white” rather than the particular result of what they believed and fought for.

This given formation that we have in the US is a bit like the response of those kinds of prison gangs. “White” is in opposition to the other kinds of ethnic gangs, because the host civilization is now too weak and self-hating to exterminate all the brutes, which was our SOP until recently.

So all right-thinking Americans now believe that the bad White people are responsible for all of history being a march of evil actions, and the way to be a good White person is to campaign for the displacement and destruction of the bad palefaces.

The problem is much less the Africans and the Turks — it is the liberals who empower them and use them as proxies. And the bulk of those liberals are awfully pale. In that, the WN peacenik tendency and desire to seek out scapegoats for what is an internal problem is entirely counter-productive.
Correct. This is an internal problem. White genes have not stopped White people from embracing a path of self destruction. The problem is one of morals and metaphysics. The decline is correlated with an abandonment of God.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Facial Aesthetics: Implications for Art.

Now a break from battling Natsoc entryists.

An important scientific paper with regard to aesthetics was published the other day which received widespread mainstream press.

Individual Aesthetic Preferences for Faces are Shaped Mostly by Environments, Not Genes.

The media spin put on this paper was to the effect that the perceptions of attraction were largely an effect of the environment and not genetics. I thought the paper interesting and managed to find a free copy of it from one of the authors' website which appears to be publicly available. It's a very well constructed study, and certainly don't want to argue with the data obtained, though I feel that the authors may have erred on interpretation of the data.

I've reproduced one of the tables below (On fair use grounds) and want to delve into the data presented a bit further.

If we look at B and C we see that there is a remarkable consistency between men and women with regard to rating the attractiveness of faces.  Women who are rated a "5" on the scale by men are very likely to rate a "5" on the scale by other women. This finding confirms previous research--(Google Scholar is your friend)--and strongly suggests that there is a genetic mechanism which rates facial attractiveness in part.

The study showed that 48% of our assessment of facial attractiveness is under genetic control, the remain 52% being attributable-by the authors--to environment.  The authors therefore conclude, on the basis of mathematical weighting that the environment is a more important determinant in the assessment of attractiveness. Logically, that is a perfectly sensible conclusion and yet it is not.

The really interesting data from this study are represented by the graphs D and E which show the individual variations in the assessment of facial attractiveness compared to the mean. What's interesting here, is that even your typical low agreement participant demonstrates a rating schema that is reasonably correlated with the mean ratings. Whist the variation is large the direction is still the same. Attractive faces as still more likely to be rated attractively than unattractive ones regardless of environment consideration. (Table E) In other words, that 48% is exerting a lot of influence.

What appears to be happening is that genetics seem to automatically rank faces in terms of attractiveness and that environment-or other factors-shift people in either direction from that ranking. In other words, that 48% determines where you sit on the rankings in the first place with other factors modifying that initial assessment.  A face that has a mean rating of "1" is not going to be turned into a "7" even though environment has a greater "mathematical" influence.

What I find fascinating is the fact that the mind has a "hard wired" aesthetic response to facial stimulus. In other words, ideals of facial beauty are already hard coded into our DNA. And it appears that there other aesthetic preferences hard coded as well. The point of this is that these current findings point us towards looking at the subject of aesthetics from an empirical perspective as opposed to a philosophical one. What is beautiful becomes not a question of philosophical speculation but rather observing what the brain does in response to a stimulus. Beauty becomes a stimulus which is capable of exciting the appropriate neural circuitry.

One of the reasons why this shift in approach is important is because a large amount of modern artistic and architectural rubbish is justified on the assumption that beauty is purely subjective. What modern neuroaesthetics is discovering is that there is a fair amount of hard wired responses to visual stimuli and that these responses are objective.  The ugliness of most modern art is not a subjective experience but an observable physiological response.  Judging art by this metric changes the grounds of debate and undercuts many of the principals of modernism and modern art.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Long time readers of this blog will acknowledge that I have sparred with Zippy Catholic on the many theological issues that divide us. However I've got to commend him for two posts that he put up;

How "no enemies to the Right" perpetuates the mind trap.


HBD on its own really is Nazi.

Some explanatory comments, since many readers seem to engage in Serial Associative Cognition and impute to me positions that I don't hold.

Firstly,  It's a mistake to assume that ontological axis has, as it's opposite poles, right and left. It needs to be stressed that the ontological axis is ordered towards right and wrong and error can exist to the right and left of it and a man can stray of the narrow path in both directions.  The Master alludes to this when he says;

Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat.

If you're like me, and believe in the existence of the Devil then you'll realise he doesn't care if you enter Hell through the Liberal door on the left or the Nazi door on the right, the only thing that matters to him is that you get there, preferably without any warning.  Indeed, one of the best ways to ignore your own errors is to be so focused on the errors of your target that situational awareness becomes lost.

I'm quite worried that this is happening to NRx at the moment. NRx is, quite rightly, hostile to the ideas of the multiculturalism, but it I don't think it has taken a critical enough stance with regard to the entryist racial supremacists who have assumed greater prominence and who hide under the moniker of HBD and identitarianism. In its battle against the left, at least on the issue of multiculturalism NRx seems to think that there are no enemies to the right.

I differ from Zippy in that I think that HBD, on its own, is morally neutral. But just as the Left engage in the semantic shifting of words, some of the more malignant Right do the same, and when they use HBD it comes with associated  metaphysical baggage as well.

Words are meant to convey a particular semantic meaning. This is recognised by the intelligent but amongst cognitive misers they words trigger an association response, much like the ringing of Pavlov's bell, and term HBD amongst this latter class of individuals is an implicit association of ideas which are linked by the focal point of race. Amongst the idiotic left, the word race triggers associations of concentration camps, discrimination and evil white men. Amongst the idiotic right, it triggers ideas of  Nordicism, racial purity, supremacism and the Darwinian struggle.

The fact that words can be used in this bimodal manner gives the Darwinian Supremacists the opportunity for plausible deniability and thus quasi respectability. When challenged about their racial supremacist stance the word is used in its semantically specific manner but when used amongst friends it is used in its associative manner.*

As I said before, HBD when used in its specific sense is metaphysically neutral and therefore not a problem for NRx. It's not even a problem, when used in this sense, for Christianity. Christianity has long acknowledged the difference between peoples whilst maintaining that they are all "one in Christ". It's current promotion of multiculturalism is due to an almost criminal lack of prudence, not a desire to eliminate differences.

Until the arrival of these entryists NRx seemed fairly agnostic on the subject of religion. However, with their arrival there's been a definite shift which I feel is going to precipitate a split. The real problem for NRx is the metaphysical one, it's about how NRx understands reality, and the entryists have shifted the balance in favour of the Modernists Darwinians. The beast now lodges in our home and NRx is being undermined from the inside.

I want to stress again that the problem is not in the recognition of the differences between races rather the associated metaphysical baggage they bring.

The problem is that metaphysics of Darwin are incompatible with the metaphysics of Christianity.  Darwinian metaphysics views man simply in material terms whilst Christian metaphysics is rooted in the hyelomorphic conception of man. The problem of Evil in Darwinian metaphysics is a material one, in Christianity a spiritual one.   From these two views come different solutions to societal problems and how to best tackle them. Zippy spells it out.
The fact that there are basic and intractable differences between the races is as obvious as it is politically incorrect.  One only has to look at the ethnic makeup of a professional sports team and a successful technology company to get the point.  The notion that these differences only exist because of oppression by evil white racists, and that the terrible affront of substantive racial differences can be remedied if we get even more aggressive with even more comprehensive programs of mandatory tolerance, is well past its sell-by date.

Liberalism only functions at all because it implicitly divides humanity into the übermensch and the üntermensch: the free and equal superman, self-created through reason and will, and the subhuman oppressor that is interfering with the emergence of the free and equal new man.  The free and equal new man is supposed to be politically emancipated from the chains of history, tradition, aristocracy, hierarchy, unchosen obligations, nature, and nature’s God.  But things keep getting in his way, and that requires a Solution.

If you take liberalism and force it to acknowledge the truth that racial differences are real and intractable, the Solution necessarily takes on a racial dimension.  It has to be a eugenic Solution; a Final Solution.
Anybody who has studied the Third Reich will see that the Germans did not start out wanting to liquidate the Jews, simply to rid themselves of them,  but the metaphysics of the Darwin and circumstances, forced a "logic onto them" which led to the inevitable conclusion. Behind all the smoke and mirrors class enemies and the untermensch are really just the same thing and the material concept of man leads to the same conclusion.  These entryists, whilst clothed in the language of the Right are advocating the metaphysics of Leftism.  They are nothing more than Stalin in drag.

NRx is compromised.

*Stanovich's book IS important.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Brown noses and Brownshirts.

I've noted that that the racist right has been cheering Victor Orban and his actions in stopping the Muslim invasion of Europe. It's true, Viktor Orban is  the Right's man of the moment and his closing of the borders is to be lauded.  His assertion and defence of both an ethnic Hungarian identity and European one is at odds with that of the Euro-weenies of Brussels who have given Orban the predictable sobriquet of racist.  It's no surprise then that the cognitive misers of the Right, looking for  a legitimate champion of "white identity" would choose to see him as their a fellow traveler in spirit.  However,  it must of been a bit of a surprise to these intellectual giants that when they chose to have a conference on his turf he banned them on the grounds that they were racists. You see, Orban is a proud Hungarian Nationalist but he is not one of them. The racialists had committed an intellectual error. They assumed that just because Orban was implementing the same policies they were advocating, Orban was doing it for the same reasons they were doing so.  They were wrong.

Where Orban and the racialists is differ is with respect to their metaphysics. Orban is a Christian and his worldview is made from this perspective.  Unlike the materialistic HBD crowd, there is only one class of human beings and membership of it is not contingent on genetic rank.  Membership of the human race is recognised as being of the fact that man is the image of God. This being an article of faith. From this flows the notion that all men should be treated with dignity and humanity.

Christianity does not deny the existence of races, or of their differences, rather it insists that human dignity--and the duties thereby owed--is not contingent upon genetic structure or phenotype. This differs from the racialists who infer the quality of man is based upon his genetic structure. Whiteness is not just a marker of identity for these men but is also a marker of "distinguishing quality". Furthermore, many of the racialists embrace a materialistic metaphysic which reduces man to a simple material substance.

One of the real world problems with the strictly biological understandings of the human person is that the dangers of racial supremacism and Darwinian competition are always lurking to rear their ugly head. The manifestly obvious fact, of the association between "Whiteness" and technological and cultural achievement,  puts forth a justifiably assertive claim for the superiority of the White people over all the other races. The argument for the superiority of Whites is so easily made and so easily grasped that it's only a small, and cognitively easy step, to start thinking in terms of Unter and Ubermensch and of "practical" solutions to intractable social problems.

This is why racialists have always been hostile to Christianity, since it puts a brake on this these final steps.  Asserting, contrary to apparent fact, that no matter how savage, offensive or ignorant a man is, of whatever race,  he is still to be treated like a equal human being. It's this insistence of treating the other as human that stops a Christian from turning into an arsehole. Christianity asserts that there are certain minimal standards we owe everybody. Orban belongs to this view and rejects the notion that some men are better than others because of their genetics.

What surprises me is just how many Christians--especially in NRx--have given a sympathetic ear to the racialists when the their underlying metaphysic is hostile to Christianity itself. It's a sort of pact with the Devil which a bit of sober reflection shows will not end well. The last time Christians formally did this they got right and royally screwed.  But then again that's the nature of the Christian Right, it's pretty dumb.

Perhaps one of the reasons why the Christian right is so easily seduced by racialists is because Christianity itself lacks a "theology of the flesh".  I've argued before on this blog, that the "decarnalisation" of the human person has led to cultural fault lines which have been exploited by different kinds of diabolical error. Chivalric love is a love without reference to Eros, and the current embrace of multiculturalism is an attempt to build society without reference to human homphily. The Christian conception of man seems to be one without reference to his flesh.

The Christian Left, on the other hand, seems to operate with the blessing of the Church, at least with regard to mutliculturalism since it's theology is in many ways in synch with Marxist ideology which teaches that race,  (i.e. flesh) does not matter.

The thing for the intelligent Christian is that he has to walk a fine line between those who think that the flesh doesn't matter and those who think it is all that there is. He has to walk a fine line between the brown-noses and the brown shirts.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Cucks and C..nt's

Recent events, and their commentary, have caused me some concern and I must admit that the direction Neoreaction has been taking in the past few months has left me profoundly depressed.

On one hand, one of the most positive developments in the Neoreaction has been the rise of the Cuckservative meme as it quite accurately monikers a certain type of the "Right" who has led it to defeat throughout the 20th Century,  However, the success of this meme has come with a more depressing development, namely the co-opting of it by the other element of the pseudo-right, particularly those of a crypto- Nazi disposition.  For this second group, the axis by which all things are judged is according to their position on the purity of race.

It's also strange to note that the Left  has played into this frame promoting a  definition of cuckservative which synchs with the racial emphasis that the Natsoc types wish it to have. Strange bedfellows, No?

What we're seeing is the entryist invasion of Neoreaction with a attempt to semantically shift the meme.  Other bloggers have noticed this as well.  For the sake of distinction I call these entryists Cuntservatives, and just like cucks they're not the real thing.

The success of these entryists has come about because the Right has always valued Identity, whether it be in the individual or groups. Identity taking into account matters such family, kin, nation and race. But the right has understood that identity is not the sole defining feature of man. Indeed, the Right has always though that identities are subsets of an overall humanity which in turn was subordinate to the Law of God. It's interesting to see that racially motivated politics became an issue with the rise of democracies and a collapse of the faith. The subsequent cognitive simplification that came about as a result of these developments mad it a perfect ideology for the cognitive miser: Mass-man.

Race is a reality, but it is a reality which needs to be seen in the context of other realities, however the racial supremacists elevate it as the ultimate standard but this conceptualisation ultimately puts it at odds with Christian civilisation. One of the things these genetic Calvinists fail to take account of is that Western Civilisation until recently was a Christian one and it's whiteness was coincidental. Europe is the Faith and the Faith is Europe, as Belloc said, and their hostile attitude to Christianity means that their ideology is just is another variant anti-Christianity and therefore outside the European tradition.

Some of them, acknowledging their hostility to Christianity grope about for inspiration in Ancient Greece or Rome. But what these dumb bastards fail to recognise is that Rome and Athens were failing cultures which Christianity supplanted, ensuring that the best traditions of the past were kept alive.  By the way, despite the intellectually feeble attempts at Aryanist revisionism,  it was the latin wogs that produced these cultures.

By reducing everything to the racial axis they are theologically set against the foundation stone of European culture which is Christianity. This blog is premised on the truth of Christianity. Christ died for the sins of all men, that includes niggers, kikes, slopes, gumleaves, wops, dagos, chimps and slitty eyed gooks. They are all the children of God, and therefore conferred with a certain God given dignity.  Hence, there are certain minimum standards we owe the rest of humanity by virtue of the Christian ethos irrespective of our natural repugnance towards them. In the eyes of God no race assumes a superiority and a Right that defines itself primarily along racial lines is a Right that is outside of the European tradition. It's simply not Conservative.

However, given the human dignity that is conferred by Christ on all men, it does not mean that because every man is my brother in Christ he gets to live in my house, or gets a place in the lifeboat. Or that he has the right to enter my country. Furthermore, if he is a risk to the stabilty of my country or has duties at home he should be performing I have a duty in Charity not to let him in. Christianity compels me to love but it does not compel me to be stupid.  The virtue of Prudence, not racial superiority, is enough. As for being Catholic, Papal comments on immigration are beyond his brief.

The whole racial superiority angle serves to divide conservatives in other cultures from ourselves, multiplying our enemies and keeping our house divided.   Now who do you think would benefit from that?

Furthermore, racial supremicism seems to attract a certain type of arsehole. A few days ago, in my Twitter feed, I got an image of the young drowned Syrian boy, captioned "One Down".

Now, I can understand the revulsion by all of pseudo refugees claiming asylum in countries which they are culturally opposed to,  but it's one thing to argue against the uncontrolled influx of economic migrants, quite another to cheer the death of a child who was not responsible for the circumstances he was found in. The mainstream left may be guilty of malign stupidity, but these Cuntservatives are psychopathic. There is something profoundly wrong in a man if he can't feel pity even for the most helpless simply because the other person is of a different race. And this psychopathy is profoundly repugnant to potential converts who are intelling to the reactionary right. Yet the current political debate in the West driven by the heartless and the bleeding hearts. It's a tug of war between dumb and nasty.

It's my opinion that these entryists are the greatest threat to Neoreaction at the moment, and if left unchecked will take it down.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Picture du jour.

Courtesy of the Daily Mail (via Reuters), a photograph showing "refugees" illegally coming to Europe to flee fighting in the Middle East.

Awful lot of military aged men there. Wonder why ISIL is winning?

Just saying.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

G.K. Chesterton: Men and the Gentleman.

In my last post I left a remark to commentator Mark Citadel with regard to what I think is one of the problems of modern Christian masculinity.

I think among the "cultivated Right" Trumps crassness and boorishness is a huge turn off and they would rather a polite but politically correct candidate than a boorish man. It's an interesting reflection on the hierarchy of their values. It's just occurred to me that Chersterton has an interesting essay on the subject I'll try and hunt it up for my next post.

Well, its not exactly an essay but an extract from G.K. Chesterton's Autobiography (1936), recanting an unexpected meeting between Henry James and Hilaire Belloc.; we are halted at the moment when Mr. Henry James heard of our arrival in Rye and proceeded (after exactly the correct interval) to pay his call in state.

Needless to say, it was a very stately call of state; and James seemed to fill worthily the formal frock-coat of those far-off days...He brought his brother William with him, the famous American philosopher; and though William James was breezier than his brother when you knew him, there was something finally ceremonial about this idea of the whole family on the march. We talked about the best literature of the day; James a little tactfully, myself a little nervously. I found he was more strict than I had imagined about the rules of artistic arrangement; he deplored rather than depreciated Bernard Shaw, because plays like Getting Married were practically formless. He said something complimentary about something of mine; but represented himself as respectfully wondering how I wrote all I did. I suspected him of meaning why rather than how. We then proceeded to consider gravely the work of Hugh Walpole, with many delicate degrees of appreciation and doubt; when I heard from the front-garden a loud bellowing noise resembling that of an impatient foghorn. I knew, however, that it was not a fog-horn; because it was roaring out, "Gilbert! Gilbert!" and was like only one voice in the world...

I knew it was Belloc, probably shouting for bacon and beer; but even I had no notion of the form or guise under which he would present himself.

I had every reason to believe that he was a hundred miles away in France. And so, apparently, he had been; walking with a friend of his in the Foreign Office, a co-religionist of one of the old Catholic families; and by some miscalculation they had found themselves in the middle of their travels entirely without money. Belloc is legitimately proud of having on occasion lived, and being able to live, the life of the poor. One of the Ballades of the Eye-Witness, which was never published, described tramping abroad in this fashion:

To sleep and smell the incense of the tar,
To wake and watch Italian dawns aglow
And underneath the branch a single star,
Good Lord, how little wealthy people know.

In this spirit they started to get home practically without money. Their clothes collapsed and they managed to get into some workmen's slops. They had no razors and could not afford a shave. They must have saved their last penny to recross the sea; and then they started walking from Dover to Rye; where they knew their nearest friend for the moment resided. They arrived, roaring for food and drink and derisively accusing each other of having secretly washed, in violation of an implied contract between tramps. In this fashion they burst in upon the balanced tea-cup and tentative sentence of Mr. Henry James.

Henry James had a name for being subtle; but I think that situation was too subtle for him. I doubt to this day whether he, of all men, did not miss the irony of the best comedy in which he ever played a part. He had left America because he loved Europe, and all that was meant by England or France; the gentry, the gallantry, the traditions of lineage and locality, the life that had been lived beneath old portraits in oak-panelled rooms. And there, on the other side of the tea-table, was Europe, was the old thing that made France and England, the posterity of the English squires and the French soldiers; ragged, unshaven, shouting for beer, shameless above all shades of poverty and wealth; sprawling, indifferent, secure. And what looked across at it was still the Puritan refinement of Boston; and the space it looked across was wider than the Atlantic.[ED]
The operative term here is "the Puritan refinement of Boston". I think the reader should not mistake that Chesterton was critiquing Jame's Americanism, rather his aesthetic puritanism which which led him to prefer the "the oak paneled rooms" of England to the relatively uncouth life of the U.S.

In Chesterton's eyes James was a type of Aesthete, Belloc was a man, and I think it is important to remember the point. 

Belloc was famously belligerent in debate, praised the crusades and preached a from of Christianity that was muscular and unapologetic. He was also a bit of a poet;

The world is full of double beds
And most delightful maidenheads,
Which being so, there’s no excuse
For sodomy of self-abuse.
Henry James remained celibate all his life.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Black Knight.

Roissy today put up an interesting post with regard to the matter of Donald Trump. What's been interesting to see, at least from this side of the bigger pond, is just how much opprobrium Trump is getting from other "rightists" and from the Cathedral.  The supposedly Mordoch *"right wing" Fox News Network has been pretty hostile to him and  its actions confirm my view that it is a false flag operation of the Left, designed to provide prolefeed to the cognitive misers of the Right.

I'm not a big fan of Mr Trump for a variety of reasons which are not necessary for the purposes of this post, however, I admire him for his charisma, personality and his "alphatude", something the other runners are completely absent of.

Pious Christian types seem critical of his moral behaviour but what these types fail to recognise is that moral goodness and the skill of governance are independent variables.  The clearest example of the fallacy of this conflation came with Jimmy Carter, who was by the standards of politicians a morally upright man though a hopeless president. The problem for Christian critics of Trump is that there is no alternative to him who is both morally good and politically competent. Sometimes you have to chose the best from a bad bunch.

The heat that Trump gets from his other GOP hopefuls is another matter all together. As far as I can see, their main line of attack is to label him as not a nice man with regard to minorities. The operative word here being "nice".  Niceness, apparently, being a principle virtue desired amongst presidents whereas competence seems to be a secondary issue. As I've said on this blog before, it's important not to conflate the good with the nice.

This virtue of "niceness" is something that seems particular to Anglo-Saxon cultures. As someone who has straddled several European cultures it's been my observation that niceness is a higher virtue than goodness in countries with a predominantly Protestant Anglo-Saxon culture. Likewise, disagreeableness or offensiveness is seen as one of the greater vices in this sphere as well.  It's no surprise then that political correctness holds such power in this domain, for  the effectiveness of political correctness lays in its ability to co-opt preexisting social norms to further political ends.

For political correctness to work there must be two elements;

1) Firstly, a political body which claims personal injury through offence every time some point is put forward which they disagree with.
2) Secondly, a culture which values non-offensiveness above all else.

I want to dwell on this second point. In the Anglosphere particularly, modes and norms of behaviour were copied from the English, who until the mid 20th Century were the pre-eminent economic, military and cultural power on this Earth. The ideals of the English Aristocracy were aped by all who strived to achieve a higher social standing. So the morals and manners of England became the standard by which all others were judged and it was ideal which was highly emulated in other non-Anglo cultures as well.

Cardinal Newman*, a High Church Anglican intellectual of Oxford,  who eventually converted to Catholicism, gave perhaps the best description of what it meant to be a gentleman.
It is almost a definition of a gentleman to say he is one who never inflicts pain. [ED] This description is both refined and, as far as it goes, accurate. He is mainly occupied in merely removing the obstacles which hinder the free and unembarrassed action of those about him; and he concurs with their movements rather than takes the initiative himself. His benefits may be considered as parallel to what are called comforts or conveniences in arrangements of a personal nature: like an easy chair or a good fire, which do their part in dispelling cold and fatigue, though nature provides both means of rest and animal heat without them. The true gentleman in like manner carefully avoids whatever may cause a jar or a jolt in the minds of those with whom he is cast; — all clashing of opinion, or collision of feeling, all restraint, or suspicion, or gloom, or resentment; his great concern being to make every one at their ease and at home. He has his eyes on all his company; he is tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd; he can recollect to whom he is speaking; he guards against unseasonable allusions, or topics which may irritate; he is seldom prominent in conversation, and never wearisome. He makes light of favours while he does them, and seems to be receiving when he is conferring. He never speaks of himself except when compelled, never defends himself by a mere retort, he has no ears for slander or gossip, is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets every thing for the best. He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair advantage, never mistakes personalities or sharp sayings for arguments, or insinuates evil which he dare not say out. From a long-sighted prudence, he observes the maxim of the ancient sage, that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend. He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults, he is too well employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice. He is patient, forbearing, and resigned, on philosophical principles; he submits to pain, because it is inevitable, to bereavement, because it is irreparable, and to death, because it is his destiny. [ED]If he engages in controversy of any kind, his disciplined intellect preserves him from the blunder.
This gentlemanly ideal has a lot to recommend to it but in essence it boils down to one of cultivated passivity and service to others. Fair enough, but how compatible is this idea with Christianity, especially a Christianity that has to preach the Gospel amongst umbelievers, some of whom would be mightily offended? Is he a Gentleman first or a Christian second? What is a gentleman's duty to the Truth when it offends? Because by definition the Gentleman never offends, he withdraws.

Because as I see it, many Christians, especially those of the right wing variety are gentlemen first and Christians second. To them, offending a minority or a woman is more  of a sin than keeping silent about the truth lest ones behaviour be called uncouth.

The Mangina defence of MegYn Kelly is a case in point. Trump's put down of the the fair maiden was more vile than the fair maiden's abuse of her position as a journalist amongst many, particularly of the religious right.  Kelly, disabused her position as a journalist by trying to trap Trump in a "gotcha" moment, yet this is percieved amongst our religious wowsers as exusuable whereas a wude word is not? Christ's disciples, eh?

The primary duty of a Christian is to live the Gospel and proclaim the truth, no matter how offensive it is.  Sure, tact should be used when prudence calls for it but keeping silent simply by the principle that one should never offend effectively stops it expression. Hence, we arrive at the current situation where there are huge cultural problems which we cannot deal with out of fear of causing offense.  Furthermore, the Right self polices through unthinking adherence to the gentlemanly ideal being co-opted, allowing the Left to solely determine what is offensive or not.

As Christians, I think in many ways we need to revise the ideal of the knight. Of the man who could put on the hurt when he needs to but otherwise strive to be a man of peace. I'm no big fan of Trump, but from this perspective, he is more of a knight than a gentleman.

I don't know if Trump will become president or not but his greatest legacy may well be to reinvigorate the Right and ushering in a new age of assertiveness, finally ridding us of the "gentlemen" who would never offend anybody.

* Yes, I know it's Murdoch but Mordoch seems more appropriate.
* Newman may have his faults but he was also a superb intellect when it came to matters with regard to conscience.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rod Dreher, Christian Masculinity and the Benedict Option.

So it is also, of course, with the contradictory charges of the anti-Christians about submission and slaughter. It is true that the Church told some men to fight and others not to fight; and it is true that those who fought were like thunderbolts and those who did not fight were like statues. All this simply means that the Church preferred to use its Supermen and to use its Tolstoyans. There must be some good in the life of battle, for so many good men have enjoyed being soldiers. There must be some good in the idea of non-resistance, for so many good men seem to enjoy being Quakers. All that the Church did (so far as that goes) was to prevent either of these good things from ousting the other. They existed side by side. The Tolstoyans, having all the scruples of monks, simply became monks. The Quakers became a club instead of becoming a sect. Monks said all that Tolstoy says; they poured out lucid lamentations about the cruelty of battles and the vanity of revenge. But the Tolstoyans are not quite right enough to run the whole world; and in the ages of faith they were not allowed to run it. The world did not lose the last charge of Sir James Douglas or the banner of Joan the Maid. And sometimes this pure gentleness and this pure fierceness met and justified their juncture; the paradox of all the prophets was fulfilled, and, in the soul of St. Louis, the lion lay down with the lamb. But remember that this text is too lightly interpreted. It is constantly assured, especially in our Tolstoyan tendencies, that when the lion lies down with the lamb the lion becomes lamb-like. But that is brutal annexation and imperialism on the part of the lamb. That is simply the lamb absorbing the lion instead of the lion eating the lamb. The real problem is -- Can the lion lie down with the lamb and still retain his royal ferocity? That is the problem the Church attempted; that is the miracle she achieved.

G.K. Chesterton. Orthodoxy.

One of the regrettable things about the current state of the Cuckservative meme is that it seems to have undergone semantic shift. Both the Left and Racial supremacists have focused it into a racial only dimension, ignoring its initial wider meaning of a lack of masculinity.  I personally think we have the whole race thing wrong and that the error comes from approaching the subject from a social Darwinistic perspective instead of one from human nature but that is for a different post. As I've said previously, this narrowing of definition plays straight into the Left's playbook, framing the definition along racial lines where it  both controls the terms of debate and is strong, instead of "Manliness" where the Left is weak.

Manliness is an important concept which this blog has alluded to before. Particularly, it has explored the relationship between the Christian tradition of downplaying Eros and separating the spirit from the flesh.  These were cultural preconditions which presage and inadvertently advanced the cause of sexual ambiguity and malleability. As this blog asserts, both masculinity and femininity become diluted when Eros is seen as irrelevant to our human natures and a Masculinity stripped of its muscles, aggression, determination and decision becomes limp wristed and and effete.

Which brings me to Rod Dreher.

His recent recent piece on L'Affair Megyn Kelly got me thinking about Christianity in general,
especially with regard to its monumental failure in the 20th Century, particularly in the West.

The 20th C was not a "good one" for the Western Church and from a demographic point of view it has essentially failed in its defence against secularism. I don't really need to explain just how far religion has fallen from the public square to the readers of this blog.  Traditionalists, like to put the blame, especially with regard to Catholicism on Vatican 2, but smarter observers had noted that the rot had set in deeply well before that.

It's important to remember just how powerful and culturally influential the Church was at the beginning of 20th C. It had the stronger hand against the Secularists and yet by the 20th C's end it was in widespread retreat.

Powerful armies can experience unexpected losses as part an parcel of the fortunes of War, but when an army suffers a string of unmitigated defeats,  questions need to be asked about the generalship of the troops. As usual, the generals will always try to deflect blame onto the troops, blaming them for their deficiencies. Likewise, amongst the traditionalists, the failure of religion in the 20thC is blamed on the faithful and not on the shepherds. The faithful have abandoned God they say, but it never occurs to them that they may be the ones at fault.

For example, the Child Abuse controversy that has plagued the Catholic Church is of a deeper problem than first appears. In large organisation such as the Church, given human nature, it is to be expected that there will be men who will abuse their position. It's also true that the Secular media will unfairly portray the abuse and distort its perspective however the inescapable fact is that the abuse was deep seated and the suppression of its discovery almost systematic. For an organisation who main mission is to bring light and truth to the world this demonstrates something profoundly wrong with it.

And let's not make a mistake here. The hierarchical mismanagement of the abuse was a clerical issue and not one of the laity. It appears, that in many instances, when the laity raised the issue of abuse to the clergy, they were ignored and sometimes threatened. The reality is that the men who ignored the teachings of Humane Vitae were men who were led by those who ignored the Ten Commandments.

Trying to understand how the abuse became institutionalised is important, if only to avoid repeating the same mistakes again. The malign elements of society see paedophilla as being a secret preoccupation with priests, for a variety of reasons this in my view is wrong. Selecting a governing caste on the basis of celibacy means that you're going to get some men who  have no attraction to women and others who have an attraction to God that overrides it.  There was a bias in the selection process which almost guaranteed that paedophiles would be selected.

But it also needs to be remembered that Church wants to forgive men of their sins. And I imagine that many of the Priests and Bishops who heard about the abuse were prepared to forgive their brothers in the hope that they would stop sinning. Combined with a fear of Scandal, many probably hoped that the problem would go away.

At yet it didn't.

Indeed,  this effectively passive response to evil is a characteristic of the Church in the 20th C and one of the reasons why the Left has run rings around it. Christ as a passive Victim, seems to it preferred operating model amongst the hierarchy as opposed to Christ actively choosing to take a bullet for the team.  And yet the Church was not always like this, in the ages of faith it was quite happy to put the hurt on evil.

Part of the reason why I think the Church has adopted this model is because it has been infected with two very subtle heresies; one is chivalric notions of sexuality and the other is Aristotlean notions of human rationality. I hope to deal with the problems of rationality in a different post.

Rod Dreher typifies this form of passive "chivalric" man. I know he is Orthodox now, but Rod Dreher is typical of the serious Christian types that now occupy positions of authority in "conservative" Christian Churches.  Pious, gentlemanly and chivalric he prefers to "reasonably" deal with opponents, and suffer for the Faith rather than take the battle to the enemy.  Niceness is akin to goodness and rude virtue is to be deplored as much as polite vice is to be pardoned. Low class women have a greater moral worth than boorish yet effective billionaires. His approach to the onslaught of the enemy is one of passivity and hoping that the problem will go away. His "strength" lays in his capacity to suffer and bear "his cross". 

This passive approach to things has led Dreher to advocate the "Benedict" option when it comes to dealing with the Leftist onslaught. In essence this option involves pious Christian types forming little communities which are culturally separated from the rest of the surrounding climate. As the idea goes, these small communities will form small nuclei which will re-evangalise the surrounding communities once the leftist menace has been spent. Effectively it is a strategy of running away and hoping that things will pass over.
Unfortunately this displays an extraordinary naivete with regard to 20th Century. A cursory study of this period makes one aware of the fact that when the Left is out for blood there is no place to hide. They will not leave you alone to form your communities. In many ways the Benedict option is what the leaders of the Church did when it came to handling the pedophilia scandal. They hoped it would blow over and failed to do the things they needed to do. It has now come to bite them on the arse.

Many pious Christian types seem to forget that the monasteries thrived in a peace secured by armed Christians, those who were prepared to defend the Christians from armed attack. I wonder how many monasteries would have survived in Charles Martel had not stopped the Muslim tide? And though Martel was a pious man, he had to resort to the force of arms to get things done. The Siege of Vienna and the Battle of Lepanto weren't spiritual ones.

The more I mediate on this matter the more I am convinced that respectable "Christian masculinity" has produced a type of man who cannot virtuously strike back at evil. Rather he must "passively" take it. Modern Christian theology has virtually made it impossible to wage a just war. The death penalty is effectively losing all theological justification and compassion for criminals assumes a greater significance than justice for the victims. The Church is effectively run by beta males.

Any Christian resurgence is not going to come about from a "Benedict option" rather it will come about from a new and assertive Christianity, made up of assertive Christians men who wont be apologising for their faith and running away from their duties of evangelisation.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Send in the clowns: Or I hate Illinois Nazis.

One of the unfortunate patterns one observes when looking at the Right in the 20thC is that whenever it is about to snatch victory it self destructs. I think we're seeing this now with the success of the Cuckservative meme, a shiv which is gaining popularity because it encapsulates a contemptible truth which so well describes the modern day Republican leadership. However the meme is at risk of corruption because White Nationalists are trying to frame it along their own lines, and in doing so are subverting its effect.

In my mind, the two groups most responsible for the failure of the Right in the 20thC have been the traditionalists, who have failed to recognise new truths and continued to act as if they did not matter and the Nazi's. The Nazi's particularly deserve a special mention because no other group has so tarnished and impeded the right's ability to discus subjects such as race and nationality without it degenerating into a sordid squabble between vile entryists and others who suicidally bravely want to reasonably discuss the subject.  Normal people just want to stay away.

Whenever these clowns force their way into a discussion it invariably degenerates into a discussion about Jewish Mind Control™, Holocaust denial, Anti-Christianity, Nordic Runes, Whiteness distinctions, Racial purity, Genetic Calvinism, Social Darwinism and extreme forms of ridding ourselves of "Social Problems". Sympathetic treatments of Hitler abound.

Now the average man is a Cognitive Miser and thinks in the form of "associations", he is not rational. As soon as he hears the mantra of racial purity, the Pavlovian association of Nazi gets triggered and bought to his consciousness. The anal sphincter tightens, the nausea ensures and the odium rises. Normal people don't want to associate with it and in fact, enjoy seeing destroyed.

Furthermore, as I've argued in the the past, Nazism was a form of Alpha Socialism. In other words, it was Leftism dressed in Right Wing symbols: Stalin in drag. It drives my lefty friends nuts when I tell them that the Eastern Europe theater in the Second World War was a battle between National Socialists and International Socialists and yet it is the truth. It was sectarian. They guys who embrace this creed are in no way friends of the right.

There are serious problems in the West which are invariably linked with race and religion and which need to be discussed in an intelligent and dispassionate manner with a duty to the truth. Yet as soon as these entryists force their way in the discussion it degenerates into a brawl. Furthermore, any serious Righties who want to discuss the matter reasonably get painted with the same brush. The Left wins again. Any discussion in the future with regard to race and nationality has to come from a vantage point where these clowns are excluded.

Any change in system is not going to come from the top, rather it's going to come from large numbers of the shrinking middle class coming on board. Because they're the ones that make stuff happen. They set the school curricula, populate the universities, administer the media, and run the senior officer corps. The leaders set directions but nothing happens without the middle class. The odium these entryists generate in the middle class has to a significant degree alienated it from the Right and resulted in a leftward drift of society.

I'm not arguing that the subjects of race and nationality are off limits, rather they need to be discussed sensitively given the political and human realities involved. The clowns act as if this stuff doesn't matter.

Which brings up back to the term "cuckservative". As long as cuckservative means someone who, to quote  Roissy,
....... is a cowardly pussy who sucks up to leftoid equalists for mercy and pisses himself when he gets accused of racism, sexism, or anti-semitism.
All will be fine. But as soon as "cuckservative" begins to be defined as someone who doesn't have enough race consciousness or gives up "White Interests" the game will be lost. The Roissy version frames the concept along masculine lines, an area where the Left is weak. Reframing it along racial lines plays onto the Left's electoral strength. Already the the Left response to cuckservative is that it is a code word for racist.  Are White Nationalists on the Left's payroll?

Smarter people, years ago, recongised the poisonous effect of the Nazi right with regard to legitimate Conservatives.  Falling Down is such an underrated movie.( NSFW)

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Stanovich: Rationality and the Reflective Mind.

On of the notions in my grand theory of everything is that the Liberal advance in Western Society has come about because errors weak-points in Western culture. The Left has been able to exploit these weaknesses to its advantages whilst the Right, bound by a veneration of Western tradition has been unable to adapt. One of the those weak points concerns the subject of human rationality, especially our conception of it.

I've just finished reading Keith Stanovich's Rationality and the Reflective Mind and in my considered opinion it deserves to be one of the foundational texts of the intellectual Right. Stanovich's book, which is really a synthesis of the latest research into the psychology of rationality and the empirical findings should serve as fuel for future Right wing thinkers in their evaluation of the human capacity for dispassionate reason (with all the social, political and propagada implications).  It needs to be understood that this is not a "Right Wing" book. Stanovich does not present that data with a political agenda. It is quite simply a summary of the state of the art of Rationality research. The power of this book lays in its evidence which undermines our concepts of rationality, assumptions which have been disastrous to the Right and have provided fuel for the Left's advance.

The right may have some skepticism with regard to the intelligence of the average man but ultimately believes he is rational. Our notions of human rationality underpin many of the social structures and conventions that have evolved over time. Our jury system is premised on the notion that the jurors can rationally weight evidence. Our democratic system is premised on the notion that our voters can rationally evaluate opposing political views and come to the right choice. Contract law presupposes rational participants and consumer warnings presuppose a rational ability to evaluate the data. The justification for radical equality is many ways premised on the notion that all men are rational beings, able to find happiness in their own way through sober reflection and deep thought. Even the idea of public debate presupposes the notion of rational debaters who are able to be swayed by compelling evidence and logic. And yet, the data would suggest that this is not the case. Stanovich lays it out;
Humans are cognitive misers because their basic tendency is to default to Type 1 processing mechanisms of low computational expense. Using less computational capacity for one task means there is more left over for another task if they both must be completed simultaneously. This would seem to be adaptive. Nevertheless, this strong bias to default to the simplest cognitive mechanism—to be a cognitive miser—means that humans are often less than rational. Increasingly in the modern world, we are presented with decisions and problems that require more accurate responses than those generated by heuristic processing. Type I processes often provide a quick solution that is a first approximation to an optimal response. But modern life often requires more precise thought than this. Modern technological societies are in fact hostile environments for people reliant on only the most easily computed automatic response. Think of the multimillion-dollar advertising industry that has been designed to exploit just this tendency. Modern society keeps proliferating such situations where shallow processing is not sufficient for maximizing personal happiness—precisely because many structures of market-based societies have been designed explicitly to exploit such tendencies.
Stanovich begins his book with a discussion on the subject or rationality, separating the weak notions of it which begin with Aristotle--(and have thus been hugely influential in the formation of Western Culture)--and modern, more rigorous definitions.  The weak notion of rationality equates rationality with the capacity to think.  Harder notions of rationality imply the notion that thinking is not enough; getting the correct answer is important.*  This blog subscribes to this latter view.

Stanovich approaches the subject of human rationality from his background in heuristic and biases research which demonstrates that for majority of humans, thinking is a "least effort" exercise, resulting in predictable errors and faulty logic.  Stanovich places himself in the Meliorist camp, in that he believes by understanding the errors of human reasoning people can be taught to think better and avoid the mistakes. I'm more pessimistic than Stanovich is in this regard and I feel that humans have always had a compelling interest in getting things right and the fact that they don't learn means that group stupidity is part and parcel of the human condition. I suppose I'm a pessimistic Meliorist.
The opportunities for human improvement are minimal.

Opposing the Meliorist camp are the Panglossians. This latter group tends to come from the Evo-psyche crowd who argue that there is no correct answer, rather the most common answer is the evolutionary right one.
The difference between the Panglossian and the Meliorist was captured colloquially in an article in The Economist magazine where a subheading asked, “Economists Make Sense of the World by Assuming that People Know What they Want. Advertisers Assume that They Do Not. Who Is Right?” The Meliorist thinks that the advertisers are right—people often do not know what they want and can be influenced so as to maximize the advertiser’s profits rather than their own personal utility. A Panglossian view of perfect rationality in the market place would need to defend the view that people take only from advertising what optimizes their consumption utility. In contrast, the Meliorist does not assume that consumers will process the advertiser’s information in a way that optimizes things for the consumer (as opposed to the advertiser). Thus, Meliorists are much more sympathetic to government attempts to regulate advertising because, in the Meliorist view, such regulation can act to increase the utility of the total population. This is just one example of how the Great Rationality Debate has profound political implications.
The contrasting positions of the Panglossians and Meliorists define the differing poles in what has been termed the Great Rationality Debate in cognitive science—the debate about how much irrationality to attribute to human cognition. Tetlock and Mellers  have noted that “the debate over human rationality is a high-stakes controversy that mixes primordial political and psychological prejudices in combustible combinations.” The great debate about human rationality is a “high-stakes controversy” because it involves nothing less than the models of human nature that underlie economics, moral philosophy, and the personal theories (folk theories) we use to understand the  behavior of other humans. For example, a very influential part of the Panglossian camp is represented by the mainstream of the discipline of economics that is notable for using strong rationality assumptions as fundamental tools.
Panglossians tend to "explain away" defects in reasoning, attributing fault to the experimenter or the experiment construction. Stanovich explains at length how this view is wrong.

Stanovich's book, exhaustively referenced, lists multiple type of cognitive errors  such as problems in probability estimates, bias toward emotionally favoured responses, poor logic, "framing effects", etc but what comes across quite forcefully in this book is...
...just how little correlation IQ has with rationality.
One of the most baleful influences that HBD crowd has bought to the modern "Dark Enlightenment" is the notion that IQ is be all explanation for individual and cultural success.

Firstly Stanovich subscribes to the notion of Spearman's g and the Cattell-Horn extrapolation of it. He is not an IQ denialist and anyone expecting a defence of "creative" and "emotional" intelligence best look elsewhere. He fully recognises the importance of IQ in the ability to abstractly think and makes oblique references to the genetic component of it, it's just that high IQ people can make surprisingly dumb mistakes especially when they're not aware that they are making them. Stanovich recognises that the concept of IQ is incomplete when it comes to the concept of rationality. Furthermore, Stanovich fully understands the sociological implications of the misplaced veneration of IQ.
The ability or inability to think rationally profoundly affects people’s lives. Yet we fail to teach the tools of rational thinking in schools and refuse to focus our attention on them as a society. Instead, we keep using intelligence proxies as selection devices in a range of educational institutions from exclusive preschools to graduate schools. Corporations and the military are likewise excessively focused on IQ measures. Consider the example of lvy League universities in the United States.These institutions are selecting society's future elite. What societal goals are served by the selection mechanisms (e.g., SAT tests) that they use? Social critics have argued that the tests serve only to maintain an  economic elite. But the social critics seem to have missed a golden opportunity to critique current selection mechanisms by failing to ask the question “Why select for intelligence only and ignore rationality completely?”

In short, we have been valuing only the algorithmic mind and not the reflective mind. This is in part the result of historical accident. We had measures of algorithmic-level processing efllciency long before we had measures of rational thought and the operation of the reflective mind. The dominance and ubiquitousness of early IQ tests served to divert attention firom any aspect of cognition except algorithmic-level efliciency. And then, because of this historical accident, we have been trying to back out of this mistake (overvaluing the algorithmic part of the mind) ever since.

The lavish attention devoted to intelligence (raising it, praising it, worrying when it is low, etc. seems wastefiil in light of the fact that we choose to virtually ignore another set of mental skills with just as much social consequence—rational thinking mindware and procedures. Popular books tell parents how to raise more intelligent children, educational psychology textbooks discuss the raising of students’ intelligence, and we feel reassured when hearing that a particular disability does not impair intelligence. There is no corresponding concem on the part of parents that their children grow into rational beings, no corresponding concern on the part of schools that their students reason judiciously, and no corresponding recognition that intelligence is useless to a child unable to adapt to the world.
l simply do not think that society has weighed the consequences of its failure to focus on irrationality as a real social problem. Because of inadequately developed rational thinking abilities—because of the processing biases and mindware problems discussed in this book—physicians choose less effective medical treatments; people fail to accurately assess risks in their environment; information is misused in legal proceedings; millions of dollars are spent on unneeded projects by government and private industry; parents fail to vaccinate their children; unnecessary surgery is performed; animals are hunted to extinction;billions of dollars are wasted on fraudulent medical remedies; and costly financial misjudgments are made. Distorted processes of belief formation are also
implicated in various forms of ethnocentric, racist, sexist, and homophobic hatred.
The poor performance of the college students in the experiments in the literature on reasoning and decision making is not in the least paradoxical.The college students who fail laboratory tests of decision making and probabilistic reasoning are indeed the future jurists who, despite decent cognitive capacities, will reason badly. These students have never been specifically screened for rationality before entering the laboratory. And they will not be so assessed at any other time. If they are at elite state universities or elite private schools, they will continue up the academic, corporate, political, and economic ladders by passing SATs, GREs, placement tests, and performance simulations that primarily assess the algorithmic mind. Rationality assessment will never take place.
But What if it did? It is an interestingly open question, for example, whether race and social class differences on measures of rationality would be found to be as large as those displayed on intelligence tests. Suggestively, Sternberg (2004) finds that race and class differences on measures of practical intelligence (the aspect of his broad view of intelligence that is closest to rationality) are less than they are on IQ tests. The framework that I have outlined in this volume would at least predict that rankings of individuals on assessments of rational thinking would be different from rankings on intelligence. The reason is that rationality involves thinking dispositions of the reflective mind not assessed on intelligence tests.
Interestingly, Stanovich recognises that certain forms of cognitive error require a certain degree of intelligence to seriously entertain them.

Regarding the sixth category in Figure 8-1—contaminated mind ware-—we would of course expect more intelligent individuals to acquire more mindware of all types based on their superior learning abilities. This would result in them acquiring more mindware that fosters rational thought. However, this superior learning ability would not preclude more intelligent individuals from acquiring contaminated mindware—that is, mindware that literally causes irrationality. Many parasitic belief systems are conceptually  somewhat complex. Examples of complex parasitic mindware would be Holocaust denial (Lipstadt, 1994; Shermer, 1997) and many financial get-rich-quick schemes as well as bogus tax evasion schemes. Such complex mindware might even require a certain level of intelligence to be enticing to the host. George Orwell conjectured in this vein when discussing political attitudes in the World War II era: “There is no limit to the follies that can be swallowed if one is under the influence of feelings of this kind. . .. One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool” (1968, p. 379).

This conjecture is supported by the results of a study commissioned by the National Association of Securities Dealers (Consumer Fraud Research Group, 20o6).The study found that the investment fraud victims had significantly more education than a comparison group—68.6% of the investment fraud victims group had at least a BA degree compared to just 37.2% in the control group. Finally, surveys show that pseudoscientific beliefs have a quite high prevalence among those of high intelligence (Chatillon, 1989). Also suggestive is a study reported by Zagorsky (2007) in which a regression analysis showed a positive beta weight for intelligence as a predictor of income but a negative beta weight for intelligence as a predictor of wealth and financial distress (debt problems, bankruptcy, etc.). Income is more dependent on IQ-type selection devices used by selective schools, corporations, and the military (SAT, GRE, LSAT, GM.AT,ASVAB, etc.). In contrast, Wealth management and personal financial decision making involve much more the rational thinking skills that go largely unassessed by conventional IQ tests and intelligence test proxies such as the SAT.[ED]
High IQ is no protection against stupid if your conception of how the world works is wrong, of if you have faulty understandings of cause and effect and are romantic impulsive. Furthermore, the failure to error check and test your theories seems to make one prone to irrationality. Indeed, one of the big factors with seems to be strongly correlated with rationality is thinking styles or personality.  People who are conscientious, deliberative and committed to the truth seem better at thinking rationally than those who are not.  What's interesting to speculate upon here is the relationship between values culture and intelligence.  High IQ is of little protection when you ditch a commitment to the Truth or embrace ideologies (Marxism) which negatively affect rational thought.The cultural revolution in the 60's may have had repercussions which extended beyond the sexual revolution and may have interfered with the rational capacity of Western populations. Stanovich proposes the following taxonomy with regard to some rational errors and their solution.

If I had to fault this book it is in the fact that Stanovich does not go into the subject of thinking styles enough.  The whole point of a book on irrationality by implication is how to avoid it, and if thinking style are causatively linked to rationality some further exposition on the subject was warranted.  However, given the quality of the rest of the book this is a small nitpicking.

Stanovich may have set out to write a book on rationality but I feel he has unintentionally given us a foundational text for the intelligent Right.  It's a must have.

*This philosophically assumes that there is a truth. Red Pill.