Monday, January 31, 2011

Egypt

I thought I might add my two cents. I have not followed this closely, so these are general observations, based on general understandings.

Mubarak has to be understood in the context of the "our son of a bitch" aspect of American foreign policy. Egypt cannot stop being a democracy, since it has never BEEN a democracy. Nowhere in the Arab world, outside of Iraq, do ordinary Arabs have civil rights. Everywhere you have secret police, who can make people disappear, and do awful, unspeakable things to them.

And we made the decision some 35 years ago to, in effect, pay Egypt off as a condition of signing a peace treaty with Israel. That was Jimmy Carter, for those of you who are historically illiterate. Sadat paid with his life, but we have kept in people loyal to that basic agenda since then.

It has seemed for some time, though, that given the amount of money we give them annually, that we should be in a position to influence political liberalization. The fear in that region, of course, is always that in an open election the Muslim radicals will win. That means, of course, the end of open elections. It's a one-off deal, then you get Iran, where the leaders decide who gets elected.

What the Muslim world as a whole lacks is a genuinely Liberal impulse, one which neither supports autocratic Sharia, nor the rule of the strongman. Given this gap, this lack, it is hard to find the people to back who will actually work to help anyone outside their small clique. Always with small-minded people it is win/lose, zero sum games. They don't ask "What is good for Egypt as a whole?", but rather "how can I take over Mubarak's corrupt regime, so that the benefits of corruption will flow to me and mine?" It's not corruption, per se, they care about.

Obviously, Mubarak is the target now, but whoever takes over--if someone takes over--can be counted on to be just as bad.

Democracy depends on decent people capable of looking at the big picture. For any people that is not decent, and not capable of wisdom, it is not viable. Such people get the governments they deserve, even if they are not the ones they want.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Times

The word "holiday" comes from Holy Day. The intent was to create a separate type of time, of which the Sabbath is one example. It seems to me this is a useful idea. I sometimes get into that other type of time, when I'm not preoccupied with problems, planning, and the endless ruminations that define so much of my personality. Sometimes I'm just there, enjoying the day.

When you get like that, you can see your normal life in relief, such that you have perspective. So often I think we live mechanically, but never really stop to think about it, or see where we could do things differently.

To this day Catholics recogize different types of time, and even though I suspect most Catholics don't take it very seriously, most do at least nominally adhere to, as an example, Lent.

All religions of which I know have this feature. It is useful. Most of us just run like rats on a wheel. Eventually, we retire or die. We can do so much better, as individuals, and as a culture.

Some random thoughts after a long day in normal time.

Edit: I want to add to this.

I think back to some exceptional meals I've had--Muriel's in New Orleans, the Oak Room in Louisville, a hotel in Mendocino--and I remember some details (the first time I had a really good steak au poivre, or duck, or foie gras), but what I mostly remember is a feeling, that of contented engagement, of sufficiency. We never seem sufficient, do we? At least, I never seem to. There is always something just over the horizon. In a round world, that means it never gets here.

Or some memorable musical moments. I will never forget being in a literally smoky old blues club in Memphis at 2am--needing to work the next day, but being unable to drag myself back to my hotel room--listening to a first rate band, playing what they wanted to play. After about 1am, it just doesn't matter anymore. I can't remember one song they played. But I remember feeling the room, feeling the crowd, and it was pleasant. It was another sort of time.

Or a walk I took on the beach in Myrtle Beach. We had an hour between one set of meetings and another. I didn't know what to do, the sun was setting, and I figured I'd explore. As I did, something in the atmosphere entered me. There was a sense of peace. And you look at that, and wonder if you're going crazy. If you never feel deep, profound peace, it appears to be a species of insanity. It is qualitatively different than anything else in your experience. I doubted it, and to some extent I remember fighting it as some sort of foreign influence I didn't understand. Yet, in the end, I still remember that time, as a unique moment in my life I didn't expect.

It seems to me that we process life as many discrete qualitatively distinct moments--both good and bad--filled with a muddying average-ness whose quality is, I suppose, perhaps influenced largely by our openness to qualitatively good moments, and where we choose to set our average, perceptually.

What is the Good Life? It seems to me we all need to answer this question in our own ways. It seems clear to me, though, that our environments are all filled to overflowing with the raw ingredients needed to build it, from any starting point (almost).

I probably need to reread "Flow", and then see what he's been up to since. I tend to shy away, in the long run, from metaphysical pessimists. It colors their work in subtle ways. Yet, when mechanically correct--and I view thoughts and the words that form them as operating on the level of machine--they can be useful.

Why Atheism is irrational

Linked on the title. Respond if you care to, but keep in mind I am not stupid, patient, timid, lacking for words, or ignorant.

Birth Certificate Issue

At root, here is the question: is the President above the law, or isn't he? Is he a normal citizen with an extraordinary responsibility, or is he like a King of old, who obeys only those laws that suit him?

No person applying for any sort of security clearance can avoid providing basic documentation. This will always include the birth certificate that EVERYONE--barring exceptional circumstances, examples of which I am unaware--has. Mine has my footprints on it. It says where I was born, what doctor delivered me, how much I weighed, how long I was, who my parents were.

I had to provide it to get my Social Security card. I had to provide it to get my Driver's licence, and again to get my passport.

This situation is as plain as day. There is no ambiguity. There is no leeway, or room for doubt. The man most responsible for enforcing our laws is showing himself in profound contempt of them, both as implemented, and as intended in spirit.

Obama and State of the Union

I'll add my two cents.

Obama always seems to me to be trying to act Presidential. He seems to be reading words written by a committee of people trying to imagine themselves into the perceptual space of a real President. The relevant scene is that in "The Birdcage" (one of my favorite comedies) where the various homosexual friends of the parents are trying to rework the apartment to look heterosexual. They put a Playboy in the bathroom, since that is what "they" read.

At root, though, they are trying to create the outward trappings of a culture they really don't understand.

Similarly, Obama has none of the shared passions of the rest of us. He literally grew up outside our nation, culturally. Even when he was living in our borders, and going to our schools, he was surrounded by radicals. The grandfather who raised him in Hawaii from age ten on was almost certainly a pot-smoking Communist. Imagine what those discussions must have been like around the dinner table.

It is unremarkable, given that background, that Obama would have gravitated to radicals in every State and university where he subsequently went. But the key point here is that NONE of the traditional associations that send shivers up OUR spines--the flag, the invocation of sacrifice in war, the National Anthem--resonate with him at all. He has none of the sense of the sacred that is common to the rest of us.

Neither do the people with whom he feels comfortable, with whom he has chosen to continue to surround himself as President. When dealing with Obama, you have to factor in the Hive Mind around him, which includes the "advisors" he meets in places like Martha's Vineyard.

They don't get it. They have what are in reality very chauvinistic, very prejudicial notions about ordinary Americans, but they have to act, for political purposes, as if they felt themselves in synchrony with the very people they despise, or at least the caricatures of whom they despise.

So you have multiple levels of disconnect. First, they misunderstand ordinary Americans. Then, they reach out to their sterotypes, with feigned goodwill. In the end, they are neither communicating their truth, nor our truth. They are simply speaking. This cannot really be covered up with focus groups, and the outward mechanical appropriation of the methods of professional marketers. They are selling a person, and that person is plainly not who we want or need him to be, and no amount of scrubbing can obscure this fact.

As I look at Obama, I see someone who has made himself into something like a machine. He has exorcised all genuine traces of spontaneity, actual good humor, and sincerity. At the same time, this machine is arrogant. George Bush was cocky, in the way that the best kid on the baseball team is. Yet, I never doubted that he loved the country, and that he had deeply held opinions on the nature of right and wrong. I doubt that with respect to Obama.

I don't think he has any core beliefs. If forced to guess, I would hazard a guess that his focus is some sort of revolution--however he frames it--and that he has consecrated his life to the task, a la Sergei Nechaev. This is certainly what Alinsky taught, and Obama, we are told, was perhaps Alinsky's most talented heir.

From a fundamental muddle of deceptiveness, misunderstanding, and malignity with respect to our national traditions, how could anything positive result?

Just look at the use Obama tried to make of the attempted murder of a conservative Democrat, and the actual murder of a Republican judge, and 5 others. This is perhaps the most naked and vile political opportunism I have ever witnessed in my adult life. It is amoral. It is compassionless. It is ruthless. He provided teleprompters for the audience, telling them when to clap. He made of a genuine tragedy a political farce.

No, I don't like Obama.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Inefficiency and liberty

The point of liberty is that personality--a sense of identity, either personal, familial, communal, or national--is an emergent property of the operations of the principles and decisions free people. You cannot tell someone their name is Ray, they like the color red, and that they are enthusiastic about fixing cars, and expect it to stick, especially if they are adults. Yet, that is the project the brainwashers of the Left set themselves. You cannot be yourself, if you are not free. You do not have the space to create yourself. Identity creation is a somewhat sloppy, imprecise process. You have to fail, fall flat on your face, then get back up, and learn. If you cannot fail--if you do not have the freedom to fail--then you will always be less than a complete human being, and will always be less happy--even miserable, as one sees in "Community Development" projects the world over--than necessary.

It is interesting to contrast, say, New Orleans with some slick German city, where everything is metallic, and seems always to have been polished within the last hour. New Orleans, we are told, has "character". In what does this consist? Is it not in no small measure the freedom to be mediocre in its own way? Katrina was many years ago, yet much of the city is still beat up. One senses that efficiency is rarely prized above style.

And what is style? Is it not a way of being in the world, an identity? And is that identity perhaps not inconsistent with efficiency, with getting things done, with, in effect, playing the role of a machine to perfection?

We don't want to be machines. This is the dream the Socialists--heirs to the Positivisit tradition, and trying to make people as susceptible to "natural laws" as logs rolling downhill--envision for us. They want to "force us to be free" in Rousseau's memorable phrase.

What is mediocrity? Is it necessarily the same as lacking a desire to push oneself hard all the time?

For myself, I know about GPS. I know about Garmin. They are very efficient. If one sets oneself the task of travelling from Point A to Point B with as little wasted motion as possible, they are probably the best way to do it.

At the same time, I have always found getting lost to be useful. I use maps, and in very complex cities, spend a lot of time meeting new people, and asking them for directions. The other day, I was daydreaming and got off an exit early for a place I was going. I wound up driving an extra 20 miles or so, but after I got over my confusion, then anger, I enjoyed it. I saw places I never would have seen. A man was kind enough to drive me to the closest reasonable point of embarcation, from which I was unlikely to get lost again.

We never know what we need to know to grow. We never know what random input, what random scene or conversation, or thought sparked by novelty will lead to the next step. This is the value of inefficiency, and yes to some extent mediocrity.

And we sense this, I think. Restaurants that are very nice--suburban strip mall clean--will pay a painter to paint murals of decrepit walls. Why? It adds "character", which is the say the apparent possibility of randomness intruding into a very well structured existence, in which food never has germs, everyone washes their hands, the floors were sanitized last night, the HVAC works flawlessly, and everyone is safe from crime, floods, and anything they don't expect.

We know we have to die. I think sometimes we want a respite from security, from the illusion of permanence.

These are a few scattered thoughts, cobbled together from some musings of today.

Rousseau and National Socialism

It occurred to me last night that what might be termed Aryanism is really a re-invocation of the Noble Savage. Where once there was a proud, innately honorable and strong race, the Aryans (this term comes from philology; the term "Arya" means noble, and is what the Indo-European immigrants to northern India called themselves; Iran is based on the same root), it was diluted by "mud" races.

Logically, in the same sense that Communists invoked this meme implicitly to justify the murder of the "cold blooded" bourgeoisie, so too the Nazis invoked it to murder Jews, homosexuals, Gypsies, and no small number of Slavs.

I will add, too, that as a political doctrine Conservatism evokes not the distant past, but the "present" past. So-called right wingers, at the farthest to the right in the French Revolution, wanted a restoration of a monarchy, albeit normally one greatly reduced in power and the following susceptibility to corruption.

Anyone who wants a decisive break with the present past is not, by definition, a Conservative, and not a "right winger".

Hitler was not popular with the Junkers, the Prussian elite who ruled important parts of German society. He was not popular with most Catholic leaders, although he got many of his followers from the "lumpenproletariat", many of whom were Catholic. He never polled more than a third of the electorate, and when he was finally seated in what I believe they called a Cabinet, he was opposed by virtually everyone.

In short: given his evocation of a past that was not a part of the experience of ANYONE living, and which probably never existed in the way he imagined it; and given his skepticism and detachment from the institutions of the day, socially, practically, and politically, it is simply not a sustainable claim that Hitler was a Conservative, and hence a Rightist.

He was a Utopian, who dreamed of bringing back--by pruning back all the people holding them back--the noble simplicity of the "root race" of the Indo-European cultures. He spent his last months building models of beautiful cities to be build in the Russian plains, which had been denuded of inferior races. He intended, of course, to keep as many as needed for slaves (root: Slav, since the Vikings took so many captive to be sold into "slav"ery), but mostly to "free" the world from the impositions of the inferior.

All Utopian projects are Leftist. Self evidently, the French Revolution had its own dynamics, so exact parallels with the Assembly are impossible; but to the extent there was a commonality of spirit with any one group in that room with the Fascists and Nazis, it was clearly the far-left Jacobins, architects of the Terror.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Open invitation to Glenn Beck critics

Pick a Glenn Beck show, any show. Tell me what is wrong with it. We will then look at it together, and determine 1) how many facts were presented; 2) how many of those facts were accurate, to the degree of reasonable doubt; and 3) how many remain which you can present credible reason to fault as wrong.

Self evidently, my contention is that most of his critics are, in effect taking a statement from him in which he says 2+2=Four, and shouting WRONG, 2+2=4. He is a hypocrite. He is a liar. How can he say this?

What I have ALWAYS found with leftists is that they NEVER fully contextualize their statements. They sift through days and days of statements, to find a few which they can intentionally misrepresent and misconstrue.

But those are decontextualized generalities, aren't they? Point away, leftists, and if you are right that he is always wrong, hell that's just a roll downhill, and there's nothing I can say about it, right?

Airports and Oppression

I drove by an airport today, and realized it has become for me a literal symbol of political oppression, in a formal sense. No principle of just government or prudence grants to our elected officials--and the officers they empower--the right to deprive us of our dignity.

And plainly, subjecting people to the choice of public nudity or public molestation is absolutely, incontrovertibly incompatible with liberty. The Nazis themselves did not do this. They looked for people who they had reason to believe were guilty of something, then questioned them. They did not strip search every German citizen who passed through any checkpoint. This would have led, in short order, to Hitler becoming hugely unpopular.

We are protected, Constitutionally, by the Fourth Amendment, from this sort of offensive, and unproductive intrusion in our lives by the government.

And patently, it doesn't even WORK. Not only is this policy a horrific abuse of the personal space that the government is supposed to PROTECT, but it is not even likely over ANY period of time to prevent any attack. The underwear bomber: his FATHER warned authorities what he was going to do, and the stupid SOB's did not ACT on it. This is the heighth of stupidity. This is the reign of incompetence. We are getting a maximum violation of our civil liberties, in exchange for NOTHING.

Bigger picture, it is hard not to feel, as I have said before, that certain people in the government are simply trying to break down our sense of stability outside the intrusive reach of the State. They want us to accept their power to touch our penises and vaginas and breasts, and those of our children. They want us to accept that they OWN us in certain places and at certain times, that there are no rights once you get into an airport.

One would think that hijacking was a major problem. Yet, not ONE death has happened since 9/11 as a result of hijacking. The major problem is car accidents. Tens of thousands--maybe hundreds of thousands--die of that every year. Thousands die of flu.

In my view, the whole "groping" thing was very intentionally planned to be as unpleasant as possible, such that people would willingly accept public nudity as less offensive. Yet, this is a HUGE erosion of our civil liberties, and I for one will not ever forget it.

Republicans: Put the screws to Obama, and force this practice to change in the direction of common sense. If you are REALLY concerned with hijackings, copy the best practices of the airline, El Al, with the most experience preventing terrorism. It really very simply a question of inconveniencing the possibly guilty, or destroying the liberties of everyone, including the manifestly innocent.

Love

Love is one of these words like racism, compassion, and imperialistm with a lot of baggage. One can assume, I think, that any word that finds itself consistently on T-Shirts sold at Wal-Mart and Target has been denuded of much of its meaning. I try to avoid words such as this. Yet, it is really the best word we have, so the option of defining it usefully seems better than trying to invent a new word, like Grok (although Heinlein and I are on the same page).

Love and Goodness, in my usage, are more or less synonymous. Goodness is taking pleasure from the happiness of others, and the capacity to live happily on one's own. What is necessary for this? Obviously: transcending your own parochial difficulties, pains, and concerns. On a superficial level, this means actually listening to other people, recognizing they are there. Many people, in talking with others, are mainly fishing for good gossip, and the opportunity to share with someone all the trials and tribulations--and successes--of their own lives.

I have found, for example, that there are few of the most intimate details of their lives that many people won't share with you in bars, if you will simply give them your full attention, and show them you are focused on them, and not your own response. If you pay careful attention, I think many of the conversation you hear are, in part, reciprocal monologues.

Likewise, too, I think most of us, perceptually, are really mainly concerned with our own worlds, and a very small number of other people, normally family and close friends, if we have any.

This world is a sort of cage, that keeps out the sunlight. I had a dream the other night, which led--through the convolutions of my ruminatory intellect (I suppose I am a sort of intellectual cow, with many stomachs)--to this post. First, the dream, then my interpretation.

I was travelling around, and became aware that Oprah was going to be at a book reading. I thought that sounded mildly interesting, so I went up, and at the top of some old wooden stairs, in a somewhat musty, but not overly run-down house, was a woman, and a window into the room. I looked into the room, and there were Oprah and Gail, sitting in the front row, with perhaps 20 other people, packed into an upstairs room, that did have windows all around. They were listening in rapt attention for the Next Big Thing. The whole scene was cloaked in greyness. It wasn't dark, but it was overcast, like a day that just doesn't want to shine. I started to go in, but was told the admission was $10, which didn't seem reasonable to me, so I left. When I got to the door, it occurred to me I just float through it, rather than open it, and I did. When I did this, the world exploded into a feast of light and color. There were rainbows and waterfalls. To put a word to it: beauty.

As I thought about it later, I realized that this world is always RIGHT THERE. What we have to do is drop our small little cares and worries, and swim in the big sea. It's all always already there. The movement there is not through a book, or through thought. It is with your spirit.

This morning, I realized that with Love, you are never alone. You are the other person's best friend, always, such that no matter where you go, or what you do, you have communion, you have companionship.

And when you have renounced caring about pain and suffering, it doesn't matter if others try to hurt you: you are immune. You just move on. The energy in you is flowing out. Their energy does not flow into you. It's irrelevant. You dictate the terms of the engagement.

This is, in my view, a useful insight.

Edit: Rumi:

"Does sunset sometimes look like the sun's coming up?
Do you know what a faithful love is like?
You're crying. You say you've burned yourself.

But can you think of anyone who's not
hazy with smoke?"

Friday, January 21, 2011

Atheism

I was thinking about it this morning, and it seems to me many atheists--with Richard Dawkins being an obvious example--seem to have this ambivalence about God. They doubt God's existence, but also seem simultaneously to be angry with Him, for the pain and suffering in the world. The outgrowth of these contradictory trends is often de facto sadism, in which tremendous effort is expended to uproot the faith of other people, without subsituting anything in its place of value. One reader commented that Dawkin's "The Selfish Gene" had put him into a ten year depression. Dawkins replied something along the lines of the "the truth is what it is".

The stance, in some cases, is approximately what I tried to convey in my version of the Grand Inquisitor, by having Sade say "there is no God, and He hates you." Logically, this is a nonsensical statement. If there is no God, there is no hating. This seems clear enough. But psychologically, I think this gets close to the actual intention of many proselytizing atheists. I think in their heart of hearts they fluctuate between conceptions of "No God", and ANTI-Theism, in the sense of hating any God who could create such a world.

Logically, a scientific mind, in evaluating the nature of the universe, would start from science. They would quickly come across any number of promising pathways indicating survival of death, latent order, and the interconnectedness of all life.

But they don't do this. They start from Christian, mainly, theological discussions. Why? Why not Hindu narratives? The task, after all, is theoretically to discover what IS, not to interrogate cultural artifacts that are extraneous to science.

What I think one has to see, in the end, is a CULTURAL narrative, not one of science.

Theodicy is easy enough. One can simply posit that people choose the lives they live before they are born, that all decent people go to heaven, regardless of their beliefs, and that we are regularly aided by advanced spiritual beings. To this should be added the important caveat that pain is not always undesirable. To develop a richer qualitative structure, you need it.

Athletes are some of the happiest people you will meet, in general. Yet, the nature of their pursuit is "agonism", or competition, which is to say daily hard training.

Pain is not the enemy. Nor is pleasure. It is meaninglessness of the sort modern atheists have done so much to advance.

Basel Accords

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703466704575489592929851132.html

I forget the name of the entity which is the umbrella for this group, but is this not a money cartel? Why shouldn't banks compete among themselves to lend money? What would we think if the car manufacturers of the world got together, and fixed prices? What would we think if all the coal or gas producers got together, openly, and fixed prices?

Our financial system is sheer lunacy. It is a power elite using the rules of the system to accumulate money they don't need, to the collective detriment of the rest of us.

And looking forward, the reality is that the world has an enormous amount of debt, which is growing. The money to cover that debt will be created. Yet, creating it will be harder with larger reserve requirements. It's hard not to believe that a cliff is being created here, which they know full well we will fall of of in due time.

As I say constantly, what we need to do is not create more money, but increase the value of the money already in existence.

CDC and Violent Media

Graphic, gratuitous depictions of violence on television and in the movies . . . encourage young viewers to act more aggressively, desensitizes them to real-world violence and instills a distorted, pessimistic worldview. Media violence also makes children more restless, more fearful and less creative.

They are trying to brand guns a social disease. Why not look at one obvious root of the social disease of violence (which is present, too, in nations with strict gun controls, and which did not exist here 50 years ago) and take the logical step: put warning labels on all violent media, indicating to parents that violent TV, movies, and video games cause real social ills, and retard many children from full social maturation?

Personally, I view smoking as far less injurious than teaching children to take pleasure in gratuitous violence and cruelty. We all die, but need not live our years in the middle in fear and cynicism.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Truth

To the previous post I will add that Truth Synchrony is nothing more or less than erecting boundaries, the creation of a here and a there. In this stage of our BIOLOGICAL evolution, I think we need that.

And given the capacity we have also developed for the use of Reason, there is no reason to think that difference and peaceful coexistence are incompatible. This is a fiction foisted by Socialist, whose own Truth Synchrony demands the abject submission of all differing views. It is like religious intolerance, with the difference that a study of history yields few examples of any creed so violent and dogmatically opposed to difference. The Huns, perhaps. But they just liked to kill people. They never claimed it was for their own good.

Truth Deprivation

We know well enough the effects of sleep deprivation: it makes clear thinking harder, decreases energy levels, increases stress levels/irritability.

But what about the chronic inability to rest in a foundational an unalterable Truth construction?

One can posit accurately, I think, that a part of our biological inheritance is a need--a biologically rooted need--for synchronization with a group. Now, a continuum exists between animals, say insects, whose behavior is almost entirely instinctual, to monkeys and dogs, whose behavior is a mix, to humans, whose behavior is largely volitional. No other animals in nature, that I know of, take 15 years or more to mature socially. This is because of the enormous quantity of mutable information that has to be ingested to inhabit our biocultural niche, information that can change in as little as years.

[Note: I have never seen any reason to object to the putative history of mankind evolved by the evolutionists. What I object to is the mechanism offered. I think we exist within measurable but non-obviously-manifest biological fields, that retain information, and which react as systems to changing environmental circumstances. Natural Selection happens, but non-randomly.

The view we are to accept, today, is that biological systems "fall together", consistently, and across centuries. The image I have is this: take a time lapse picture of a building being built, and eliminate all traces of the people building it. It will appear to build itself, and great precision will be possible with regard to what the building materials are, what order they come together in, and how replication of the structure happens. This view would be internally consistent, and wrong. I think that is where we are at.

Forget "evolution", which is to say the purported mechanism of speciation through random change coupled with random benefit: every time ANY living creature comes into being, we can trace the same "intelligent" guidance that presumably has facilitated the gradual decrease in entropy in our biological systems over the millenia. It is inconceivable to me that DNA can both contain the raw material, and the instructions for the use of the raw material. There is an architect, albeit not one modelled on Greek sculptures of Zeus. Digression completed.]

Having posited this need for belonging, can we not frame this need as the need for what I suppose I could term Truth Synchrony? In order to feed this need to belong, we need a relatively EXACT match, or we suffer the fate of a dog left alone in a cage too long.

As I commented in my paper on atheism, it seems to me that if all our social emotions are artifacts of "evolution", then clearly and ineluctably the religious sentiment--ubiquitous in human life--is instinctual.

Why not conflate the religious instinct with the need for Truth Synchrony? What becomes obvious is that atheists, far from having transcended this instinct, have laid themselves completely open to it, such that their vociferousness is considerably in excess of all but the most immoderate religious adherents.

If Communism was and is a collective madness, then it is one that takes as its starting point the very worst elements of the religious instinct, which in the Christian world at least contained the seeds of its own transcendance. Love recognizes no creed. It is non-local, and applicable anywhere, even if the specific use of the crucifixion is not.

Clearly, in sum, I feel we need to believe. If we fail to take care in what we believe, we are liable to stumble and fall into much worse dogmatisms than those which characterized the religious wars of old.

God may not be clearly manifest, but neither are History, Matter, and the People, if by the People is intended an abstract group with no nameable members.

Quality and Socialism

I was thinking the other day: what do we call something which is in constant motion, but whose motion is precise, predictable, and programmable? Answer: a machine.

What is the goal of the Communists? The eradication of personal difference. Of stable personal identity which is separate from the State.

Ponder what was done, especially, by the Chairman Mao Obama's short term Ministry of Propaganda Director Anita Dunn found so attractive. They took people away who objected, say, to Communist Party officials taking bribes, or abusing their position for sexual favors, or who insisted on the right to free speech, or the right to bequeath their possessions to their children, or who objected to the mass murder of supposed "bourgeoisie" by Communist Brownshirts. Think of all the things you don't like about your boss, or community, or church, or neighbor, or the local cops and make speaking out about it a criminal offense.

They ship you off to a camp which literally tries to reprogram your mind, as if it were a machine. They developed very well tested techniques, which included mild starvation, hard labor, chanting slogans, and confessing your "crimes" in front of others, and begging for forgiveness. What was the goal of the whole thing? To make of society a machine, which would perform whatever task the leaders wanted, when they wanted it, without question.

If you erase all qualitative differences--say that of Christian versus Jew versus agnostic, versus atheist, versus athlete versus bookworm, versus introvert versus extrovert, versus Italian versus Irish versus political versus apolitical, etc--then what do you have left? Seriously: what do you have left? What holidays do you celebrate and why? Is there somewhere to go on Sundays to build community?

What the revolutionaries will tell you is that they will build holidays for you. That the church that matters is that of the "revolution". Yet, none of this is organic. Nobody gets to choose it. If you don't like it, then you are force fed the doctrine until you accept it, or they kill you. How is this compatible with anything good in human life?

The simple reality is that human communities are creating constantly. We are constantly building, in an organic way, sustainable cultural forms that people can live with. Socialists reject all of this. All that NEEDS to happen is non-interference, but what does happen is that any and all claim truth claims that anyone wants to make are rejected, if they differ at all from the Party line.

Fundamentalism, for example, is always something that looks forward. It looks like it looks to the past, but what is it, really? It is a solution for the present, based on what seems to have worked in the past. It looks forward.

In my view, there is no more fundamental evil or cruelty than attacking people's sense of meaning. This is something that is, invisibly, in a constant process of renegotiation, throughout our lives. As something that attacks, explicitly, people's sense of self and meaning, Communism is the most atrocious, horrible doctrine ever invented in human history.

The Nazis just killed people they didn't like. The Communists killed far more, numerically, but worse still in my view (I believe in survival of death) were their efforts to derange the minds of ordinary people, to sap their sense of self, of personal will, and all the comforts that identity can provide.

Communism is a form of Satanism, where Satan is a symbol of that force in human life that conflates creation with destruction, and which exalts in the inflicting of pain.

I have probably said this, but Sade was consistent in choosing, mainly, to inflict pain through books. He was, of course, largely constrained from realizing his demented desires by lack of money, and by spending most of his life in jail. At the same time, the deepest, most profound cruelty is that of attacking people in their moral sensibilities. I do believe in Hell--I have seen it--and feel that it's most horrible depths are reserved for people like him.

Only slightly less culpable are those who should have seen him and his ideological descendants, like Sergei Nechaev, for what they are, and chose not to.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Judas Priest

There's a time to do a lot of questioning, and certain times to just let things go. I like to listen to Judas Priest sometimes (and Rush and AC/DC, and a smidgeon of the very vulgar Tenacious D).

To the point here, I was listening to the lyrics of "Breaking the Law" (very 80's looking video linked on the title), and thinking: "this is the direct outcome of socialism." Long term unemployment. A sense of meaninglessness. A frustration with a Nanny State that promises the sun, moon and stars, and can't even deliver healthcare (even though it is "free" if you can get it). Profound and unrecognized indulgence in self pity.

If you think back to the history of loud music, the really angry, nasty stuff started in the mid to (really) late 70's, with groups like the Sex Pistols leading the way. What was going on then? Leftism. Through determined indifference to the plight of the South Vietnamese people, and a lack of a sense of national pride and honor, leftist media hacks were able to convince the American people the war was lost, and that we should retreat, even though we were ideally positioned to end the war the same way the Korean War ended.

To this add pervasive attacks on moral norms, religion, patriotism, then in England combine it with long term unemployment, and increasing dependence on a Nanny State. None of the talking heads on TV made sense. Nothing seemed to make sense. Hence: anger.

I had thought some time ago to entitle my chapter on the 60's "From flowers to skulls". What happened was that the high ended, adulthood happened, and the hippies found they didn't believe in anything. Now, we see their children with the same obsession with death prefigured by the Grateful Dead.

"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" began in Woodstock. I am quite convinced of it. If you hew to no chosen moral order, you will get lost. This seems clear enough.

Love is not a value. It is an outcome. If you are serious about being a loving person, you have to have the character for it; otherwise, it is just the warmth of being drunk, that fades just when trust is offered. If this happens enough times, you get the jaded cynicism that the aging hippies cannot recognize for what it is, or its pervasiveness in their children. The moral vacuity at their core is what drives them to NEED the leftist narratives--and following actions--that are doing so much to damage our communities, national security, economic health, and sense of meaning.

Emerson inverted, roughly

Foolish inconsistencies are the hobgoblins of weak characters and insincere minds.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hate and the Tucson shootings

If the only possible cultural truth claim that is unimpeachable is the universal condemnation of hatred, then all individual assertions not made in response to hate, are vulnerable. For example, the desire to see the office party called the "Christmas" Party is vulnerable to the charge of "Christocentrism". How can one defend any unique, parochial practice, when attacked? You can't. Every unique cultural claim is intrinsically a claim to cultural superiority, since why do things one way rather than another, unless you feel that way is better?

This is the logic of Egalitarianism, upon which Socialism is based. Although very few of its exponents look that far into the future, the end goal can only be cultural leveling in which all people look, dress, and behave the same.

Now, this is not intrinsically a bad goal. We can posit, for example, alien races that are much more advanced than us, in which all look the same, and communicate with their minds.

Yet, there are two ways to get to this point: sharing commonalities, and eradicating differences. Put only slightly simplistically, through Love and Hate, through Good and through Evil.

How were all those corpses created in the 20th Century--some 100 million or so--created by the "Scientific Socialists", aka the Communists? Simple: they didn't fit the Procrustean Bed of the egalitarians. The task the Nihilists set themselves was destruction, the destruction of difference. From this, through some sort of Deus Ex Machina, devised by SOMEONE ELSE was, in theory, supposed to flow the proverbial Millenium. If you destroy enough, the "logic" went, sooner or later all the bad things will have disappeared, and that will mean only good things are left.

This is patent nonsense, at utter odds with common sense humanity. The horrors which flowed from it, though, were and are quite real. People were kept in doghouse sized cages and fed rice with sand in it for years. They were systematically tortured, as for example John McCain in a modified rack, which more or less explicitly mimicked the bed of Procrustes, making a metaphor literal.

It is interesting to me--and sad--to watch the Left's reaction to the shooting in Tucson. Plainly, this was not PRIMARILY an assassination attempt. He kept shooting. He didn't just shoot Giffords. He shot, I believe, 16 total people, 15 of whom were not Gabby Giffords.

He plainly did not follow Fox News, Sarah Palin, or the Tea Party. He is a stupid kid, with incoherent views, whose big idea was to go out and shoot a bunch of people and "let the bodies hit the floor". Psychologically, he seems to fit the mold well of the shooters at Columbine. This was a mass murder, plain and simple, and I think he chose Giffords because she was attractive, successful, and close in terms of geography to him.

Yet, a sychronizing signal has been sent out. Hate has been enabled since the chief propagandists on the left has indicated that a hater has been identified: Sarah Palin and the very loose coalition she sort of leads.

The inability to assert any stable identity claims is enormously frustrating. Who you need to be is a matter of constant change. You have to change whenever the "science" changes. You have to hew to whatever the current political causes is. Your ONLY sense of identity is belonging in that group which has NO stable sense of identity, whose very sense of self is something created in opposition to those who have non-mutable senses of self. You are not a Christian because you are a leftist. You are not a homophobe because you are a leftist. You are not a "richist" because you are a leftists. You are not an imperialist. You are not a racist. You are not a capitalist (actually, you always are, but why let facts get in the way of a good story?).

What are you? You are a NON-HATER. You are the one who heroically opposes all those people out there who are presumed to wake up hating, eat lunch hating, and go to bed hating, because that is what THEY do.

But the problem is that the haters don't always hate as openly as you would like. Sometimes they try to trick you by sounding conciliatory. Glenn Beck cries, as if he were capable of human emotion. Bill O'Reilly pretends he is telling both sides of the story.

So the opportunity to fight in the cause of anti-hating is not always what you would like.

This is why the chance to hate Sarah Palin, with explicit permission from your thought leaders is so wonderful. Once she's a hater, you are fighting the heroic fight by threatening her, right? You are defending someone, even if you are not sure who.

And to the point, and switching back into my own voice, no evidence AT ALL exists to link Sarah Palin with this mass murder. To the extent there is ANY evidence, it points to the music Loughner listened to, and to his being to the political LEFT of the very moderate Giffords.

So I ask: why the hate? Why so much viciousness, dehumanization, and depersonalization of what would be a debate, if the Left were capable of it?

Why not ask basic questions like: is there any evidence linking ANYONE to the shooting? And having failed to produce any, why does this charade go on?

The answer is quite basic: leftists hate anyone not like them. This shooting created an opportunity to vent some of that hatred in what at least superficially appears to some to be a valid context.

They hate people who retain any of their residual culture and sense of self, in much the way that fat people hate skinny people who can eat donuts and not gain weight. They resent people who are culturally confident in the way that self pitying losers hate self reliant successes.

They resent them, for having something they don't. That they themselves chose to submit to this sort of tyranny is an irony they cannot permit themselves, without losing the "faith" entirely.

There is nothing surprising in all this. This basic pattern is no different than that that to unspeakable atrocities throughout the world over the last 200 years or so.

What is surprising is that so few leftists wake up and realize how awful they are. That we are all human beings on this planet together, and that any process in which ANY groups is villified as a whole is intrinsically bigoted.

And please note here that I am quite willing to engage in rational debate with any person on the left who wants to. Over the last 6 years or so, I have sought out leftists all over. As an example, I posted, for a time, on the Daily Kos what I felt were reasoned pieces relating to how to solve problems we share in common. Yet, with few and notable exceptions, what I faced was unreasoning hatred. I have been called every name imaginable. For most of them, it was simply inconceivable that anyone could take offense at being called "teabagger", despite the fact that that term was plainly meant to wound, if possible.

The path forward, however, remains the reconciliation of difference. This is quite different than the ERADICATION of difference. This is gradualistic process, conducted in peace, in which we slowly learn to love one another as unique human beings. This can only be done when we SEE each other as individuals, and eradicate the method of collective guilt by association, and reckless accusation.

What is needed, regretably, is patience. What is needed is something like what Martin Luther King practiced. One could say it is ironic that the methods of MLK would be needed with respect to the Left--which has tried to coopt his memory--but not really: he was a lifelong Republican, having been possessed of both common and historical sense. First the Democrats tried to destroy the black community through Jim Crow and segregation. Now, what they have in fact done is destroy the black community by making them dependent on the ebb and flow of political tides.

We can do so much better. I feel very deeply at times a sense of how tragically UNNECESSARY so much modern suffering is and has been. I can only wonder how Churchill kept his sanity, watching the development of what he always called the "Unnecessary War".

I've said this before, but reading history for me is often like that feeling you get watching a horror movie, when you know what is about to happen, but the person on the screen does not. Had a slightly different decision been made, a life would have been saved.

Our future depends on clear thinking. That is quite impossible to do between the Left and the rest of us right now. This mass murder in Tucson, and the use they have made of it, shows this quite clearly.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Belonging

Bit rambling, but a bit rambling. No alcohol involved, just a lot of thinking out loud.

It is quite obvious to me that many people are made uncomfortable discussing violence in music, or media more generally. Many remember with fondness, for example, the ending to "Play Misty for me": "do you feel lucky, punk?" After all the trauma of that movie, the injustice, the failings of our system made manifest, Clint Eastwood shooting that guy is cathartic. Somehow it represents the triumph of true decency over the hand wringing moral mediocrity that somehow descended, like a veil of darkness, over our moral landscape in the 1970's.

Heavy metal, angry metal, recalls to mind a time of membership in the metal tribe. All your friends listened to the same music, and you all waited in collective anticipation for the release of the new album by whoever you were then most enthusiastic about. What an observer who was astute would have paid the most attention to was not the content of the music, but the quality of the relationships between you that shared passion made possible.

It has often been remarked that group challenges--with war being both the most extreme and obvious example--cause cohesion among individuals that is stronger in some cases than family itself.

I have thought in the past that sometimes what connnects us is shared pain. By this I mean a sort of qualitative gestalt: not all pain is equal. The "pain" of a rich kid is different than that of a middle class kid, which is different than that of a poor kid. It is different for a Mexican and white kid and black kid. Yet much of it is also the same.

I think to a comment made by a boss I had who was in a fraternity, that the brotherhood was just never the same "after they stopped using the paddle". Everyone who underwent that ordeal had that pain--that very specific, secret pain--in common with everyone else, and knew it.

It has often seemed to me that suburban white kids who seem to wish they were "ghetto thugs"--you know, the kid in the car wash next to you listening to some profanity laced rant at 4x what would be a coureous volume--are actually wishing they could relate to that type of pain, that of the "hood".

It's unclear to me how many people feel genuine, deep happiness and fulfullment. I don't think it is very many. I get moments of joy, and am not sure what to do with it. It's not my ambient sound. To be clear, I have very good days, and look back with them with satisfaction, and wonder why I don't feel like this more than I do.

Inverted, one often sees reference in song lyrics to people wanting to feel pain, so they know they are alive. In one Lady Antebellum song the lyric is, I believe: "I'd rather hurt than feel nothing at all". Nine Inch Nails:

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real

There are many examples of this. What are they really asking for? What is the goal? Is it not a remediation of confusion and loneliness?

If we relate through our pains, then masochism becomes a means of reaching out to others, on a primitive emotional level (that might actually be a good substitution word for both subconscious and unconscious). If we hurt one another, then we bond, somehow.

It is a short step from this to evil, though, which is hurting OTHERS, so YOU can feel.

Returning to my original point, ask yourself how long it takes when you meet someone new for you to start comparing notes with respect to the media you consume: what movies you like, what music you listen to. Media is so much a part of who we are. Most kids from 12 or so on nowadays have access to it 24/7, except when in school. They can watch movies, listen to radio, listen to their iPod, download YouTube videos, etc.

I've commented on this often, but in a plastic world, where so much is new, where ideas are new (science as paradigmatic but mutable Truth system), social trends evolve constantly, where obedience to Truth Authority but not critical thinking is taught in schools, where people move from State to State--what do you hold on to?

This is the route to "subculture". This is how and why tribes form, of for example Nine Inch Nails (NiN) fans. Now, Reznor's music is clearly emotionally disturbed. But it would not be fair to extrapolate from that that the culture of those who admire is NECESSARILY entirely negative. Some of these kids probably do experience genuine feelings of belonging, warmth, and, yes, happiness. There are other, better paths to this outcome, but all social systems have to be evaluated both in terms of negatives and positives.

For such a group, if for some reason they no longer had NiN to bind them together (I have said this often, but the root "religio" means "to bind"), they would fall into despondancy. Many of them cut themselves anyway, and wind up on anti-depressants, but this does not mean that in some ways the music is not positive for them.

Thus in evaluating our common culture, what makes the most sense, where I see the most strategic promise, is in trying to build and support a different set of foundational premises upon which our worldview rests. The countless little tribes out there MEAN something to the people who belong to them. They are the result of self organizing social systems, themselves the results of worldviews based on foundational premises. To achieve a better result, the path is not banning this that or the other thing, as horrible as it might seem. The path is, in my view, encouraging scientists to do actual science. To be honest, and reputable. To do their jobs properly.

As things stand, the assumptions of our Truth Elite are Materialism, Meaninglessness, and Egalitarianism-as-moral-philosophy. None of these aspects of the dominant worldview are consistent with the best empirical data we have. Yet alternatives are suppressed ruthlessly, despite the manifest shortcomings of the dominant view. This needs to change.

People of goodwill in universities need to assert themselves, and stop working for patent evil.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Alcohol

If it's after 10pm, and a post is rambling, not infrequently I'm indulging my fondness for Kentucky bourbon. I'm fully equal to the task of rationalizing it, but the simple net reality is that I enjoy it, so I do it.

I will add that at one time in my life I thought alcohol or drugs made you creative. They don't.

Creation is risk taking. It is having the courage to follow a path whose end you can't see, well into the darkness, and over the proverbial ridge. I think the most creative people can see how they could go mad, but most don't. There is a line of balance you learn to walk, between the formed and the formless.

For me, alcohol serves to remedy the emotional pain I feel sometimes in walking out into the darkness alone. I'm not immune to fear, or self pity, or loneliness, or confusion. Yet I ignore all those things when it's time to explore, and pay the price. Booze brings the account back into balance, for me.

I prefer to avoid autobiography, but I felt this point worth making.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Violent media: another angle

I argue often that human social systems are best understood as formally Chaotic. They are the end results, approximately, of the interactions of actual principles with reality as it is lived.

When considering violent media, I have to, in principle, accept that some violent media may be actually beneficial. Maybe for some viewers Hostel is, on balance, something that improves their lives. It's hard to see how this would happen, but it is not formally impossible.

In this view, violent movies in some cases support intrapersonal integration, social harmony, and benevolent outcomes. This is theoretical, but not beyond the realm of the possible.

This perspective is added in the pursuit of due diligence. I want to rest calmly in the contemplation of having done the thing right.

God

I was driving along tonight, and the thought hit me that time is motion against God. Logically, then, inclusion within God would be timelessness. It would be extent without motion, where what we have on Earth is motion with very little extent (mine occupies perhaps a cubic yard, and I can reach to about 8').

It is little remarked upon, but Einstein never did away with the need for something like the ether. Light is both particle and wave, and waves have to have something to "wave" in.

Perhaps there are two universes, that of fields, within which light can only go the speed of light--which is the same thing as saying that the potential speed of matter is fixed by the characteristics of the universe; and that of the Zero Point Field, which is an endless light that feeds into the visible universe, without really being a part of it. It is not an order, per se, but the root of the possibility of order, or what I have called the memory of the universe, I think. Maybe somebody else did. I don't recall.

As stated on the sidebar, this is my space for public musings that I think could at least potentially be of interest to someone else. I'm not entirely sure what I am saying here, but figured I'd post it anyway. It was a vivid sensation I had, and I wanted to capture it.

Wall Street Journal post I was unable to make.

There is a percentage of the population that drowned in collectivist sentiment years ago, and will never ever miss its cue to bemoan, be angry about, find amusing, or advocate whatever issue the propaganda leaders on the Left find currently most important tactically or strategically. In this case, the effort is to write speeches Obama can read that make him sound like he is an ordinary human being, with ordinary emotions. He isn't. He sees the world through an ideological prism that does not include the capacity for genuine empathy. Everything is political to him.

I was upset when I read about the shootings. Then I got even more upset when I realized the Left was trying to USE it for propaganda. It is beyond disgusting. It is vile and morally reprehensible.

Why would it be any more likely he was a rightist than leftist? The Daily Cause, also, "targeted" Giffords for her CONSERVATISM. The Democrats said, in 2004, that Arizona was "behind enemy lines".

Since I have never had the experience of believing in Santa Claus, or understanding how leftists rationalize their views, it's hard for me to predict how this will all play out, but I suspect that the steady trickle of defections from the leftist camp will continue, once ordinary, well-meaning people realize that none of those affecting outrage at the Right care in the least about the people who were shot. This is simply one more of a long series of opportunities to be exploited for political gain. That trait, alone, will tell anyone with any common sense all they need know about why such people should not be running our country.

One last, last song. This one is really sick

My apologies for posting this. It is horrible. But I want to show what some of our kids are listening to. We need national leadership on this topic.

I am going to warn you: this song is very obviously intended to elicit a feeling of revulsion and outrage. It references sadistic murder, and necrophilia. I decided to give you the option of whether or not to actually read the lyrics. The link is here: I cum blood.

Ask yourself: what psychologically normal person listens to things like this? Answer: none. These people are not psychologically healthy. My suspicion is that most of them are atheists, like Loughner, and have deduced nihilism from it. This makes destruction a virtue, and the bright light of frenetic self immolation their only consolation.

Now, this band does not have a lot of fans, I assume. And historically there have always been sick people, many of whom got their jollies in the wars which have happened everywhere in human history.

Nor am I advocating banning them. What I want people to realize is that there exist scientifically sound reasons to believe in something like God, that philosophically sound remedies to moral pessimism exist, and that misery is not endemic to human existence. Happiness is possible, in spite of everything.

When you truly look the Devil in the eye, he always blinks. I know this. I have done it. Never quit: this is my creed, and it works. There are ample reasons for genuine hope.

One last song: "Down with the sickness" by Disturbed

When I was growing up, we were taught is church that Ozzy Osbourne was satanic. I was taught that KISS meant "Kings in Satan's Service", and Rush "Rulers under Satan's Hand". They missed, of course, some more obvious examples, not being fans of rock music. A good example would be the Stones "In her Majesties Satanic Service".

Yet we have grown far past the suggestive, into the explicit "selling" of evil and hatred. We have grown into what can only be called a death cult. Death metal is a type of music, and it is filled with anger, hate, viciousness, and violence.

This music is mentally sick, and it inspires mental illness in those who consume it. We keep seeing how "right wingers" might inspire some frail mind to violence. This is, as usual, the opposite of the truth.

We saw, quite recently, death threats issued against Sarah Palin by left wingers, after she was falsely accused of somehow inspiring Loughner. Leftists are people who NEED someone to hate, and the only way they can manage it is by pretending someone else is a hater, then venting all their pent up aggression on them. Keith Olberman is vicious. Glenn Beck very explicitly rejects ad hominem, and builds his cases with care and diligence.

What we need to be worried about, is the nihilism advocated in this sort of song, of which there are thousands of example. Some of our youth listen exclusively to this sort of crap, and in my considered view it will very literally warp the foundations of how they view the world. Virtually none of them will grow to practice literal violence, but all of them will be less open and giving than they would have been, less committed to participatory democracy and community involvement, less able as parents, and less charitable generally.

These are the sorts of results that take decades to manifest, but which are very hard to undo once they are present. My hope and my optimism is based on the fact that the people who listen to this sort of thing have certain operative assumptions about the nature of the world. This would include pessimism about the future, atheism, and a tendency to indulge in self pity and resentment. If a movement can be created which counters these tendencies, the effects can be reversed.



Can you feel that?
Ah, shit

Drowning deep in my sea of loathing
Broken your servant I kneel
(Will you give in to me?)
It seems what's left of my human side
Is slowly changing in me
(Will you give in to me?)

Looking at my own reflection
When suddenly it changes
Violently it changes (oh no)
There is no turning back now
You've woken up the demon in me

[Chorus:]
Get up, come on get down with the sickness [x3]
Open up your hate, and let it flow into me
Get up, come on get down with the sickness
You mother get up come on get down with the sickness
You fucker get up come on get down with the sickness
Madness is the gift, that has been given to me

I can see inside you, the sickness is rising
Don't try to deny what you feel
(Will you give in to me?)
It seems that all that was good has died
And is decaying in me
(Will you give in to me?)

It seems you're having some trouble
In dealing with these changes
Living with these changes (oh no)
The world is a scary place
Now that you've woken up the demon in me

[Chorus]

(And when I dream) [x4]
No mommy, don't do it again
Don't do it again
I'll be a good boy
I'll be a good boy, I promise
No mommy don't hit me
Why did you have to hit me like that, mommy?
Don't do it, you're hurting me
Why did you have to be such a bitch
Why don't you,
Why don't you just fuck off and die
Why can't you just fuck off and die
Why can't you just leave here and die
Never stick your hand in my face again bitch
FUCK YOU
I don't need this shit
You stupid sadistic abusive fucking whore
How would you like to see how it feels mommy
Here it comes, get ready to die

[Chorus (last line changed to "Madness has now come over me")]

More lyrics: "Bodies" by Drowning Pool

Loughner included this on a video. I'm curious what was on his iPod, which he apparently listened to everywhere.

Just ponder for a moment how this music could possibly contribute to positive outcomes. It may be useful for soldiers getting ready to engage in combat, but even there I tend to think it would foster an excessive desire to kill.

I included the lyrics in full just to show the obsessiveness of them, the lack of creativity, the mechanistic quality.

More than a thousand years ago--it's like closer to 2,000 or more--the author of the Wen Tzu pointed out that a culture can best be understood through its music. You look at the words, the topics chosen, and the method of delivery.

Ponder what this song says about us, or at least about those many of us who listen to this song and the many others like it. If you are not familiar with the actual sound of it, find it somewhere and listen to it. I'm sure there's a YouTube video.


"Bodies"

Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floooooor
Beaten why for (why for)
Can't take much more
Here we go!
Here we go!
Here we go!
One - Nothing wrong with me
Two - Nothing wrong with me
Three - Nothing wrong with me
Four - Nothing wrong with me

One - Something's got to give
Two - Something's got to give
Three - Something's got to give
Now
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the flooooor
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the flooooor
Now!
Push me again
This is the end
Here we go!
Here we go!
Here we go!
One - Nothing wrong with me
Two - Nothing wrong with me
Three - Nothing wrong with me
Four - Nothing wrong with me
One - Something's got to give
Two - Something's got to give
Three - Something's got to give
Now
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the flooooor
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floor
Skin against skin blood and bone
You're all by yourself but you're not alone
You wanted in now you're here
Driven by hate
consumed by fear
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floooooooor
One - Nothing wrong with me
Two - Nothing wrong with me
Three - Nothing wrong with me
Four - Nothing wrong with me
One - Something's got to give
Two - Something's got to give
Three - Something's got to give
Now
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the flooooor
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floor

Sample lyrics

Look at these lyrics, then think of Jared Loughner. What you see is incoherence, rambling, a sense of moral and mental decay, and sexual frustration. Presumably the reference is that he needs someone to sit on his "flagpole".

This song is undoubtedly in part autobiographical. This is our culture, or at least a significant part of it. These are the tatted-out, pierced, black wearing people with purple hair. It is not just a momentary ideosyncracy. It is a failure to adopt a formal meaning system, which is the say the mantle of our shared, traditional culture.

This is a subterranean river, but this is in my view the rough sentiment that is causing Europe to slowly dissipate through the failure to maintain its population. Environmentalism is just the ideological cloak. As I understand it, some Muslims in Sweden are already wearing T-Shirts that say "2030: then we take over".


Flagpole Sitta

I had visions, I was in them,
I was looking into the mirror
To see a little bit clearer
The rottenness and evil in me

Fingertips have memories,
Mine can't forget the curves of your body
So when I feel a bit naughty
I run it up the flagpole and see who salutes
(But no one ever does)

I'm not sick, but I'm not well
and I'm so hot 'cause I'm in hell

Been around the world and found
That only stupid people are breeding
The cretins cloning and feeding
And I don't even own a TV

Put me in the hospital for nerves
And then they had to commit me
You told them all I was crazy
They cut off my legs now I'm an amputee, Goddamn you

I'm not sick, but I'm not well
And I'm so hot cause I'm in hell
I'm not sick, but I'm not well
And it's a sin, to live so well

I wanna publish 'zines
And rage against machines
I wanna pierce my tongue
It doesn't hurt, it feels fine
The trivial sublime
I'd like to turn off time
And kill my mind
You kill my mind
Mind...

Paranoia, paranoia
Everybody's comin' to get me
Just say you never met me
I'm runnin' underground with the moles
Diggin' holes
Hear the voices in my head
I swear to God it sounds like they're snoring
But if you're bored then you're boring
The agony and the irony, they're killing me, whoa!

I'm not sick, but I'm not well
And I'm so hot cause I'm in hell
I'm not sick, but I'm not well
And it's a sin to live this well

Fascism and mental health

The discussion I want to see, following the shooting in Tucson, is one about the mental health of our youth generally. I have cited the effects of media, but even taking a step back from that, I would like us to start thinking about the future of our culture, of our American and Western civilization generally.

If you wander the halls of most universities, what you will see is pessimism. You will see exhausted minds whose big idea is socialism in some form, as if solving the material problems of life would solve the philosophical and spiritual ones. They are closed minded when it comes to philosophical progress. They have decided that language cannot be used to solve abstract moral problems, since no moral absolutes exist. Obviously, one can study ethics, but does anyone really know or care what ethicists do? I am speaking in general terms.

Since it is politically advantageous for them--teachers unions being huge contributors to the Democrat Party--our professional left likes to talk often about the state of our educational system. Yet, we spend as much as Norway, per capita, on education, and get results worse than countries that spend a third less. Why? Because we do not place the same value on education, culturally, and because we do not teach our children self discipline.

The huge gap I see is one of emotional balance, of psychological well being. When I grew up "cutting" was unknown. Now, children know about it in the fourth grade. A well known Disney actress took it up recently.

As I see it, there is this void in the social/emotional lives of millions in this country, that is the same void that led to Fascism in the last century. What would be totalitarians lack is a charismatic personality. They thought they had it in Obama, but didn't. He has no character or charm--just the ability to read speeches as if he meant them.

And as I ponder this, I think about how Fascism is always labelled as "rightism". In one sense, and one sense only, this is accurate: where Communists try to invent a new world, Fascists seek to reinvent the past, to hew to the past, and to radicalize and reify cultural traits that were assumed to exist then, and which are to be praised in the present. Traits such as courage, nobility, honor. This is what Mussollini did, in invoked the "Fasces", symbol of the Roman Consul, and symbol of the Roman Empire in its youth. This is what Hitler did, in invoking the people--the Aryans, which is a Sanskrit word--from whom all the Indo-European peoples evolved, such as the Romans, Greeks, Persians, and Indians.

In important respects, Fascism should be seen, I think, as anti-Communism. It uses the same authoritarianism, the same appeal to conform to the dictates of a ruling elite, as Communism. Yet it does not require the relinquishing of the past. It rather glorifies and flatters ordinary people with a new found nobility of character, that is best expressed through warfare and the glory of battle, and success, as envisioned and led by a powerful Leader.

But both doctrines start from alienation, from holes in the souls of the people to whom they appeal. They presume emotional problems, most of which are concealed in the motion of normal life. They assume people breaking from within from an abundance of energy they cannot figure out how to express creatively, and with which they are slowly being poisoned. The leader who figures out how to harness that--always through some greater or lesser extent of deception, for totalitarians--can conquer the nation.

What we need is moral reform. We need to recognize that Socialism has no ideas for cultural reform. Comfort is not a creed. It is not a code you can live by. It is the doctrine of the old and tired--the Europeans--who simply want to quietly fade away. I do not see this as the path for Americans. We are much younger, and still much more energetic.

In important respects, I have been wrestling with these ideas since my youth, roughly 16, when I started confronting them. And to be perfectly honest, the ability to reject atheism formally, from a scientific perspective, was important for me. I suppose I would make do as an atheist, but I would not be as resilient, and not as happy.

The older I get, the more I realize worldview is everything. Hitler--who was a rhetorical and psychological genius of the first order--invoked it constantly. He said all the time that the German Weltanschauung was unique, as I understand the matter. He told people they were special, that they had a historical destiny. That science was on their side. That morality was on their side.

And this worked, because people were longing to be told who they were. He met a deep seated need to fit in, to belong, to be CERTAIN of something, in an unsure world.

I think to finally achieve world peace--which I continue to view as a valid and viable goal over the next century, in conditions of freedom--we will have to learn to accept some degree of ambiguity in life. We can agree on general principles, but need to realize that there are some parts of this universe we will never really understand. We need to alter our focus from purported Divine Laws, to rules that clearly work in the here and now to foster happiness, including sincerity, honesty, generosity, wisdom, and love.

Here below, as above, these patterns bring fulfillment. Things, per se, do not. As miserable as many of our poor are, they live like kings of old. Why are they not content with this? Culture. Culture is everything.

And Socialism destroys culture. If we are to survive, we will have to abolish this pernicious doctrine. This is not to say we should not take care of our old, sick, and poor. It means that we should not make the sole value that of egalitarianism. To pretend all people are equal in quality in principle is to eradicate the very possibility of moral progress. Having eradicated the ideal of progress, you get the REGRESSION which currently defines our current cultural decline.

This is a bit meandering, but I think there are some important points here.

Media violence

This is a response I wrote elsewhere in response to the common objection you see when raising the issue of media violence--in this case in particular case of Jerod Loughner--that violent media plainly does not MAKE people go out and commit murders. No, in general, it doesn't, although this does happen. Every decade several murders can be attributed directly to media, such as the "Dexter" killing in Indiana, in which one brother strangled his other brother, so he could "be like Dexter".

More generally, though, it amounts to social malnutrition. As I have stated often, violent media decreases empathy, increases pessimissm, and increases lifelong rates of depression. It alters worldviews.

Anyway, here is what I wrote:



In his case, what I think we are looking at is a "Perfect Storm" of negative factors. There are thousands of kids like him around the country, who will never shoot anyone. He made the decision, and needs to face the consequnces, clearly. "Society" can never be measured in any way other than the aggregate of movement that is initiated on a personal, individual level.

At the same time, we do all live with other people, and it is worth asking the question from time to time if our common "culture"--the frequency upon which we send and receive--is beneficial.

One of the most common analytical errors is failing to see what COULD have been. People are always ready to point to cause and effect in things that DID happen. FDR was elected, the Depression eventually ended, ergo he facilitated it. That sort of thing.

Yet this is always imconplete. With regard to this question, we can ask if the media we consume makes us as mentally healthy--as happy, as functional as social begins--as possible. It is not a question of banning books or movies or films. It is a question of asking what is HEALTHY, and trying to teach people about it.

I would draw an exact parallel with nutrition. The solution to people eating Twinkies daily is not to ban them. It is to teach them that they cause net energy drains, unnecessary weight gain, and less strength than that person would otherwise possess.

The media you consume is food for your mind. It affects it. Americans consume some $86 billion in anti-depressants annually. Clinical studies have been done showing enormous increases in rates of depression in the last century. Monopolar depression was almost unknown bck then, absent some major tragedy.

Clearly, many factors play into this, some possibly diet related. But the evidence is clear that watching a lot of violence TENDS to increase rates of depression. It does not do it every time, with every person. It does not induce clinical depression in a linear way.

What it does do is affect your worldview. You see all the time the worst of what people are capable of. You become less trusting and emotionally open. You tend to fear more violence than actually happens. You tend to be more likely to imagine violent solutions to problems than negotiated ones. I personally think this effect is quite clear in our society today.

Loughner was a loser. He couldn't get a date, had probably never been with a woman, couldn't get a job, got kicked out of school, and in the end had scared away all of the friends he had. Bad tends to feed bad, and worse tends to go to worse. Many people like him kill themselves. Had he done that, we never would have heard about him. A few people would have gone to his funeral, then he would have been forgotten by all but his family. You may not know this, but there are many dozens of suicides in every State every year. The media does not report them since it has been found that reports of suicides tend to spark MORE suicides, the so-called copycat effect.

As things stand, what he seems to have done is chosen to stoke the hatred and resentment that the self pity that often marks failure causes in weak minds. He fed it with music, like that song by Drowning Pool. And in the end, he walked up to a very attractive young woman, his Representative, and put a bullet in her head. Then he shot and killed her assistant at the same point blank range, a 9 year old girl, an elderly man, and 3 little old ladies.

Clinically, I would describe this as evil.

When I speak of psychosis, I am referring to an acute psychosis, of the sort that makes speed freaks do absolutely incomprehensible things after being up for three days. They commit the most horrific crimes imaginable. When they come down, though, they are psychologically normal, relatively speaking.

I believe we need to be concerned with the sub-acute manifestations of the same evil we see all around us: the glorification of violence, the demonization of enemies, and the desensitization--the drain of empathy and compassion--that all this leads to.

What you put in your head has an effect. I have no doubt of this. It may be subtle, but is nonetheless as real as the effect of a Twinkie. Not eveyone who eats Twinkies is fat, but that does not make them healthy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sociopathy through worldview

Most of us have seen this term, sociopath, for someone who is utterly lacking in compassion, empathy, or conscience. They are not clinically insane, and can act quite normal for entire lifetimes. They are just missing something, in some situations. When other people cry, they have to pretend. If you want an example of the sociopath as hero, just watch the hugely popular Dexter, currently the most popular show among Democrats, but no doubt also very popular with Republicans. I would suspect it's a few point swing.

Can sociopathy be created through ideology or conditioning? I am thinking, specifically, of Jerod Loughner, assassin of a nine year old girl, 3 little old ladies, one judge, and someone I believe in their thirties. He does not appear to feel remorse.

Who shoots little girls, and feels no remorse? To call him schizophrenic does not seem right. His writings could quite easily be explained by being high. When you are high, things seem to make sense that really don't. You can quite easily get to a clinically acute psychotic state through sleep deprivation, without actually being psychotic.

What I think most likely is that he absorbed in his environment an ethos of violence, specifically through music, but also through other media.

The question I want to ask is this: can ideas, in themselves, deprive people of conscience? Take the Communists in Vietnam. They committed all sorts of atrocities, for example taking flamethrowers to a village, killing hundreds, as very conscious policy. Who are these people who kill in cold blood simply because people are "class traitors"? How do you get to the state where torture is justified simply because someone has been accused of being an ideological other?

I see no practical difference between the rank and file soldiers who kept order in the "reeducation" camps of the Vietnamese "revolution", and those who saw to order in the concentration camps of the Nazis. Who were these people? How did they justify to themselves what they did?

Effectively, it seems that the symptoms of sociopathy, of consciencelessness, can be achieved simply by creating a world view in which others are denuded of their humanity as a result of their belonging to some other group. For example, Leftists routinely blame Liberals for all sorts of things, in this particular case of complicity in murder.

Would it not be permissable to kill people who are complicit in murder?

I have been told explictly, on the Daily Cause, that it is acceptable to hate people who hate others. If you want to hate, then, all you have to do is find some group of cultural or ideological Others that you can paint as being "hating". Then it's on.

Clearly, some leftists are simply sociopaths searching for an outlet for their aggressive and often sadistic energies. Such seems to me to have been the case with Sergei Nechaev.

If you read that text, it advocates consciencelessness. It advocates destruction. It advocates the subversion of all social institutions, and essentially everything that is standing. It Nihilism, in a formal sense. That was the term used by opponents of this pattern of thought, which offered nothing but death, in pursuit of goals that were never defined.

How does ideology create hate? How does it enable people to stop feeling sorry for other people, where sympathy is a very natural human reaction?

These are of course old questions, but good ones, nonetheless. The reliable one inference I will make is that hatred is always wrong. It is clearly sometimes necessary to fight and even kill one's enemies, but hating them is always wrong.

If you hate haters, you are a hater. This seems clear enough.

This is a bit rambling, but I wanted to think out loud on this for a few minutes.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Continuity of Belief

I was in Half Price Books today, and for whatever reason every hipster in town seemed to be there. I am told those disks people put in their earlobes are called "gauges", and there were a lot of them. I could certainly be mistaken, but in general I don't think there would be much use asking people like that their politics. I've met pot smoking conservatives (who usually self identify as libertarians) but no true conservative hippies.

And I was thinking about it: in general, I associate bookstores with leftists (again, I reserve the word Liberal for people whose main aim is protecting liberty). Why is this, I wondered?

And as I thought about it, it occurred to me that conservatives know what they believe. They have a consistent worldview, that really doesn't change with the latest study or poll. They tend to believe in the Bible, limited government, the importance of family and marriage, the right to keep and bear arms, etc. Most of them could write their core beliefs on a poster on the wall, and not find them significantly changed 50 years later.

For example, take the following from William Boetcker, first penned in 1916:

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatreds.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

Let me say I had posted that on my wall at age 16, and was now 94. Could I not still believe it? Would I have had to alter any of those beliefs in the interim?

Good principles are eternal, even though their time-delineated iteration may differ: this is foundational Conservatism.

Leftists do not think like this. Being "modern", they depend for their worldviews on science, and "science" changes constantly both for valid and corrupt reasons. When someone says to eat soy, they eat soy. When someone says to stop eating soy, they stop. When someone says the Earth is warming, they vote to get rid of 100 watt lightbulbs. If and when those same people say they were wrong, we will get them back.

And they have to spend a lot of time reading since they are incomplete. They don't know who they are. They "know" they are the good ones, who want to help the poor, minorities, the Earth, animals, women, and everyone else who is "oppressed". They are just not always sure why and how. They need to be told. They have to spend a lot of time synchronizing amongst themselves.

I would suspect leftists DO read more books than conservatives. They have to. The reality is that core realities about the human condition really don't change. The core elements of politics and economics don't change.

Thus, they are the only ones who listen when someone "proves" that you CAN in fact strengthen the weak by weakening the strong; or that you CAN help small men by tearing down big men; or that you CAN help the poor by destroying the rich.

As I see it, conformity to the herd, and conformity to principle are the only two options, and only one of them is suitable for a free and dignified nation. Yes, conformity to principle is a conformity to tradition--that of Rationalism--but that is the only human tradition which has enabled sustainable self governance and freedom amidst a multiplicity of worldviews, and in radically changing circumstances.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Intellectuals

Intellectuals are people who start with cartoons, and buff them until they look like portraits. Serious thinkers--another animal entirely--are people who look for as many actual pictures as they can find, from as many angles as possible, and reach decisions only after having done so.

Intellectuals are people who want to believe certain things about the world. Serious thinkers are people who have a vision for the world, who care about outcomes, and who realize that the starting point is always what is, not what ought to be.

What led to these comments was pondering that Van Jones became a Communist--in his own words--after being jailed in the aftermath of the very defensible "Not Guilty" verdict with reference to the officers who arrested Rodney King and his friends. He has dedicated a lifetime to what he probably refers to as an ideal (and what I would refer to as a nihilistic cult), on the basis of a lie.

Did he ever bother to try and learn the facts of the case? Do any Communists? No: if they did, they would not be Communists. Self evidently, people who simply want power can and have used Communism, but I am referring to people who on some level are delusional enough to self identify themselves as trying to help the world.

They start with very simple-minded, muddy, confused ideas, then read and write long books based on those cartoonish premises, such as greed being unique to Capitalism, and autocracies based on a different rhetorical stance as being even possibly better in reality.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Mental Health and morality

It seems to me that a short definition of mental health is the ability to achieve chosen tasks that take time. Mental health is goal achievement, and goal achievement is mental health.

Morality, in turn, is nothing but goal achievement applied to how our behavior correllates to our chosen principles. It is doing the things we think should be done (charity, fighting for what is right, being responsible), and not doing the things we think we ought not to do, even when they are more convenient than hewing to our moral beliefs. Example would include lying, cheating, and stealing.

In the spirit of openness, it is truly stunning to me how rapidly I personally get distracted from chosen tasks. If it involves writing of some sort, it will usually get done. If it is work-related or family-related, it will get done. My friends can rely on me.

But I can't rely on myself. I am better than most, but how is it that someone--in some cases, this is me--could join a gym or Weight Watchers, or buy a set of motivational CD's, or vow to take up a musical instrument and not even last a MONTH? Or even a WEEK?

Who are we when we are that disorganized? Who am I when I am that disorganized?

I had asked the question a week or something ago about where we rest. It seems to me we "rest", seemingly paradoxically, in goal achievement. In creating and accomplishing goals, we determine for ourselves and others who we ARE. And Being, in what amounts to an existential ontology, is where we rest. Becoming approximates Essence. I came up with that a while ago, and think it is clever. Perhaps I am wrong.

Net, net: I can't speak from personal experience of complete personal congruence of thought, word and action. They are often at odds with one another. Yet this seems to me the path forward.

I have been making some progress in this of late, which is encouraging.