Very Disturbing – Go See A Counselor

SexRevolution

Chapter 6 of Kevin Williamson’s The Smallest Minority, “The Lonely Mob”, lays bare an uncomfortable truth that many will shudder and cringe at upon understanding.  The drama teacher in the movie High School Musical when she saw something weird with students she’d shout “Very disturbing! Go see a counselor!”.  That’s how I feel about this chapter of the book, as Williamson links the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s to what is happening on social media.

 

Here, wince at this: “the biological consequences of sex never stood alone; instead, they were enmeshed in a complex set of social, legal, political, and economic relations founded on the underlying biological reality.  Without the mitigating influence of marriage and parenthood – and the social institutions built around them – it was easy and probably inevitable that sex would degenerate into a mechanical exercise in self-gratification and exploitation that is mutual but rarely mutual in exactly the same way…By connecting everyone to everyone – promiscuously, without the traditional consequences – social media has created another new kind of loneliness.”  This loneliness causes people to treat others with hostility and brutality driving them to extreme behavior and radical, irrational thought.

 

The point of online “pseudo-conversation” is not discussion or exchange of ideas. It is intoxicating outrage that makes people even more stupid than they already are – corrosive to any kind of discourse. The bad manners of the masses are making people miserable.  Williamson writes that the social media mob “dissolves individual identity, relieving the stressed and anxious pleb of an identity that was more of burden to him than an asset”.  Depression, anger, banality – why do they do this?  It is, for a disturbing majority of our population, simply a pathetic, sad, grasping futile attempt to give life meaning for millions of ignorant losers.

 

Williamson’s hardcore. Very disturbing – go see a counselor.

He writes this about social media:

“By giving everyone an equal opportunity to speak, it has revealed how little of interest most people have to say – and how little the content of what they say actually matters when set against in-group tribal affiliation. That this comes as a revelation to the speakers rather than their auditors is significant even if obvious.  Boring people are easily bored by others, but most of them harbor in their souls the belief, explicable and without any support, that they are uniquely interesting, gifted, funny, witty, intelligent – qualities that would become apparent if only they could get in front of the right kind of audience.  Finding out how boring they are – and how little the world actually cares about them when given the opportunity to pay attention – is a jolt.”

 

He concludes the chapter by quoting Julien Benda from Treason of the Intellectuals (1928) who was particularly dismayed at the moral shortcomings of artists and professional writers who abdicate individuality to embrace mob groupthink.  They’re supposed to be in the business of individuality!  The root of the problem is that everyone now thinks they’re an exceptional, artistic writer but, by definition, everyone cannot be one.

 

Next week, we move on to the sad longing for fame by far too many people.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Conform!

Sutherland

In Chapter 5 of Kevin Williamson’s The Smallest Minority he writes that history doesn’t repeat itself -it just shrieks like Donald Sutherland at the end of the movie Invasion of the Body-Snatchers (1978). What he means by that is Ochlocracy (mob rule), the phenomenon he anatomizes in the book, is now conscripting private companies to attack individuality – using the “disciplinary corporation” as a cudgel to uncover and then beat dissidents and critics into conformity.  He describes several disturbing cases of ritual humiliation to coerce obedience.

 

Humans have profoundly intimate relationships with their employers – and that fact is now abused and exploited by the sinister power of ochlocracy. Hayek warned us of the danger of a monopolist state employer as he was destroying the intellectual legitimacy of socialism.

 

Williamson shows us how the aggregate power of American employers is being recruited into a program of intellectual repression. He writes:  “And by intellectual repression I do not mean the repression of the intellectual, most of whom have sufficiently evolved social instincts to remain safe in what Michael Oakeshott described as “warm, compensated servility”.  That’s us!  We are safe but armed with War Chest knowledge of the mental weakness that is servility.  If you’re reading these words and can comprehend these ideas (there a very very few of both) then you are intellectually independent.

 

Those of us who are intellectually independent, resist servility to embrace freedom and acknowledge honest, traditional aristocratic liberalism. True individuality is an achievement, not a fact. It requires moral and cognitive effort and self-determination.  Google the phrase “warm, compensated servility”.  The first result is pg. 235 of The Cambridge Companion of Oakeshott.  Oakshott knew that all human beings are capable of agency – meaning free undetermined action.  “But for whatever reason, we are not equally capable of bearing the burdens of freedom, and in particular of accepting the responsibility for oneself that freedom requires.  Those who are capable of true individuality will always be resented and threatened by those who are not.  And the most essential task of a free society is to protect the opportunity for individuality from policies that would undermine it in the name of egalitarian benevolence.”

 

Our values must be safeguarded from attack. The previous quote is followed by a critique of Oakeshott’s ideas on pg. 236.  It is OK for people to have different values than us.  It is not OK for those differing values to be forcibly imposed on us by a tutelary State or, as we see in this Chapter, by corporate America.

 

As Hayek put it:

“To deprecate the value of intellectual freedom because it will never mean for everybody the same possibility of independent thought is completely to miss the reasons which give intellectual freedom its value.”

Treasure liberty and idiosyncratic excellence. Non servium.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

SideBar

sidebar

Pardon this brief interruption to our analysis of Kevin Williamson’s book but I can’t resist.

https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/exploring-wealth-inequality

That killer article is from some guys at the Cato Institute posted on 11/5/19

It makes it very clear that the thinking in this article:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/11/4/20851387/economy-democrats-2020-elizabeth-warren-bernie-sanders-gdp

from someone at Vox the day before (and others like it), is just plain wrong. I’ve been researching and writing about the topic every week for over 5 years.  I suppose the public doesn’t understand the issues, is apathetic, blinded by leftist propaganda or is just too dumb to see that wealth redistribution public policy arguments are irrational and immoral.  I’ll keep searching to find just one good argument that doesn’t get riddled with bullet holes of refuting criticism but I haven’t found one yet – and I look really hard every week.

 

The writers I cite on this blog refute redistributionist argument again and again and again. Thomas Piketty, Joseph Stiglitz, Emmanuel Saez, Paul Krugman, etc. are wrong.  The Grumpy economist established Krugman’s folly – I pointed that out here on 9/10/19.  And how does our buddy Kevin D. Williamson, who wrote the book we’re currently exploring, feel about Economics Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman?

 

Pg. 17 “InstantCulture is to culture what….Paul Krugman’s New York Times vomitus is to journalism”.

 

p.g 136 Williamson “used to maintain a blog dedicated to correcting the errors and distortions of Paul Krugman.

 

Pg. 157 “So much of debate.. ..is about which groups and individuals deserve higher or lower status. It’s pretty easy – in fact – to dissect most Paul Krugman blog posts along these lines.”

Here’s an article further illustrating Mr. Krugman’s wrongness:

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/11/paul-krugman-always-wrong-never-in-doubt/

So much argument seems to be based on deciding what you want and then twisting logic and reason in complex, distorted contortions in order to try and prove that what you want (stealing people’s wealth) is correct and moral. It’s not.

 

…even if a biased university mathematician

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-inequality-inevitable/

 

or a “tech revolution expert”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbooksauthors/2019/11/01/how-technology-adds-urgency-to-calls-to-redistribute-societys-wealth/#3fe0f6e22a6b

 

say it is.

 

 

OK – back to Williamson’s book Tuesday.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pretext for Suppression

Censorship

Chapter 4 of The Smallest Minority (2019) observes that the word “democracy” is being used as rhetorical shorthand for good, decent, accountable government.  Pure democracy is none of that and we’ve known it for thousands of years.  Williamson explains the technique of militant democracy, developed in Germany after Hitler.  It’s all about contriving pretexts in order to justify attacking a targeted minority for suppression

 

Karl Loewenstein (1891-1973) described the concept, now deployed by tribal mobs in advancing an agenda of suppression (deployed without them understanding it – good technique for morons – understanding is not needed, envy and hatred are enough). The technique is to create a fake crisis/emergency/threat as a pretext to suppress the mob’s targeted enemies.  The psychological ploy is to make up a villain, which then “creates a sense of immediacy, urgency, and solidarity that confers meaning on their lives” (how sad to rely on hate to give life meaning).  The manufactured emergency is not aimed at persuasion or argument but at suppression.

 

Our nation’s Founders established profoundly undemocratic institutions to protect us from the perils of unrestrained democracy and tribal hatred: The Supreme Court and The Bill of Rights (“A List of Things You Idiots Don’t Get To Vote On Because They’re Non-Negotiable”).

 

“Traditional protections encoded in the Bill of Rights are, we are constantly told, standing in the way of dealing with any number of emergencies. That these “emergencies” are generally cynical fictions and exaggerations constructed on foundations of narrow political self-interest is obvious to anyone with eyes to see – but there do not seem to be very many of us.”

 

Kevin Williamson is not rendering opinions in this book. He is delineating unpleasant truths – culture war threats to those of us with eyes to see.  Awareness is an ideational defensive weapon that belongs in our War Chest.  And Williamson’s insights are corroborated by others, for example, see Douglas Murray’s The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, and Identity (2019).

 

It’s vital to understand that these pretexts for suppression are not random. The culture wars are not fought aimlessly.  The purpose, unknown in some and deliberate in others, is to suppress YOU (my moderately wealthy, intellectually independent clients who are secure enough in their identity and life meaning not to become a victim [or perpetrator] of militant mob politics).    Williamson cites abuse of the idea of safety to distort law. “Because abusing those notions of safety creates opportunities for the expression of tribal grievances and hatreds, they are infinitely plastic.  But they are not distorted at random in every direction at once.  They are distorted almost always in the direction of suppression and restriction.”   He points to many instances of “defining danger down” substituting a hypothetical evil to justify real evil – political violence, oppression and the coercive silencing of dissenting viewpoints.

 

Beware of becoming a target of these grotesque intellectual and moral distortions. The mob cannot succeed if you are aware and do not have to rely on a disciplinary corporation for your livelihood; more on that next week.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Escape From Freedom

Escape, freedom. Prison, jail window with cut bars, sunset, sunrise view. 3d illustration

Chapter 3 of Kevin D. Williamson’s The Smallest Minority (2019) gets our intellectual and moral sensibility engines revving.  The phrase “escape from freedom” is a paradox.  If we are free, why do we need to escape?  The notion is from the title of one of three books critical to understanding what Williamson is showing us and… it’s really interesting (“if you are the sort of person who is interested in things”, he writes).

 

Three very different historical writers all warned us of the exact same danger. Capitalism, which enriches the world, also produces profound economic status anxiety that severely threatens individuality and the ability to think and speak freely.  “The individual was left alone and isolated.  He was free” – the paradox is feeling the need to escape freedom.  We explored moral alienation here from 1/8/19-1/22/19 while studying Francis Fukuyama’s Identity – The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment (2018).  Perhaps some of that bears repeating:

We are not all Nietzschean Overmen (Übermenschs). When a shared moral horizon disappears, most people do not rejoice at this expanded new liberty. Rather, they feel intense insecurity and alienation. They then turn to collective identity for meaning and purpose. But politics cannot provide us with moral values or identity. Those who are consumed with political hatred are lost souls.

 

Here are the three books that form the pillars supporting Williamson’s thesis:

Escape From Freedom (1941) Erich Fromm

The Organization Man (1956) William Whyte

The Constitution of Liberty (1960) F. A. Hayek

 

Williamson does a superb job of educating the masses (if they could muster enough intellectual and moral literacy to understand him) on why they cannot and should not get their grubby hands on our wealth or be allowed to walk in our minds. He writes:  “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet”.

 

Hayek’s brilliance, anti-majoritarianism and championing of free markets boil it all down to a simple but stern lecture to the masses from the independently thinking wealthy (page references where Williamson quotes Hayek):

  1. You (mass imbeciles) need us (the intelligent propertied class) (p. 39)
  2. You don’t understand why this is true so deny it (p. 40)
  3. These two things threaten everyone’s liberty and economic well-being (p.41)

 

Hayek’s ideas insulated us from the dumb masses who flee freedom to unleash the evil of coercive government power. Chapter 11 of the Road to Serfdom (1944) teaches us that freedom of thought is secure, as I wrote here on 1/31/17:

It’s easy to eliminate independent thought among the great majority of people. But the intellectual minority, who would criticize the State, must also be silenced.  The desire to see everything as a “unitary conception of the whole” must be upheld at all costs.  In a collectivist world, the word truth ceases to have its original meaning.  It is no longer something an individual arbiter decides.  It becomes something laid down by authority.

The desire to force a system on people for their own good is not new. What’s new is the intellectual attempt to justify it.  Here’s the argument:  There is no such thing as freedom of thought because opinions and tastes are shaped by propaganda anyway (media, advertising, the example of the upper class) which forces people into well-worn thought grooves.  Therefore, if thought is shaped by things we can control, we ought to use this power deliberately to turn people’s thoughts to a desirable direction.

Hayek obliterates this horseshit reasoning with a high caliber mounted intellectual machine gun. While the great majority of people are incapable of independent thought because they’re stupid and are happy to accept ready-made views, there is a small minority who are very much intellectually independent.  In a free society no one person or group is capable or ought to have the power to select those to whom the freedom of independent thought is to be reserved.  Nobody should be able to tell people what to think.  “To deprecate the value of intellectual freedom because it will never mean for everybody the same possibility of independent thought is completely to miss the reasons which give intellectual freedom its value.”

 

Next week, Williamson lays bare the evil of extreme democracy. The view that humans have more value and legitimacy acting and thinking en masse is morally wrong.  To assert that the individual must always be subordinated and answerable to the collective is “pure barbarism”.  It guarantees cultural ugliness, suppression, stupidity, bigotry, narrow mindedness and eventually, violence and death.  Independently intelligent people need not escape freedom.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Road to Smurfdom

RoadSmurf

Smurf

Chapter 2 of Kevin D. Williamson book The Smallest Minority (2019) is “The Road To Smurfdom”.  It’s a reference to F. A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom (1944).  Hayek’s work is so important to our War Chest of wealth and knowledge that we walked down that road here from 11/30/16 to 1/31/17.  You cannot have an intelligent conversation about political economy without being aware of Hayek’s ideas.

 

By Smurfdom Williamson means the transformation of humans into small, blue/sad insignificant creatures, which then drives them into senseless mobs.  Conversations are no longer discourse but anti-discourse – “communication designed and deployed to prevent the exchange of information and perspectives rather than to enable it, a weapon of mass intellectual destruction – the moron bomb.”

 

What I like about Williamson’s work is that it’s thoroughly researched and cites plenty of authority (we lawyers love precedent and historical authority – a page of history is worth a volume of logic – Oliver Wendell Holmes/more on him later in the book). Mobs are not new.  Global capitalism is just the most recent cause of human deracination and crisis leading to fanatical and immoral behavior and beliefs among the masses.

 

Williamson’s ideas on this topic are not new and they are not partisan. Even though he is best known as a conservative writer for National Review, he points to thinkers all over the political spectrum who warned us of the road we’re going down….again.  A dumb, mean, insignificant person is still a dumb, mean, insignificant person whether he’s conservative or liberal.  Michael Oakeshott described what happens in Rationalism in Politics (1962) – a massive number of humans become pathetic losers because of “manqué” (having failed to become what one might have been) – “botched individuals who suffer from an incapacity to sustain an individual life who therefore experience modern individualism as a burden rather than an opportunity – much less a joy”.  And it’s much worse this time around because the ancient problem of periodic desultory mob rule is being combined with a new power dynamic – militant democracy.

 

As we stroll through Williamson’s mind in the coming months his humorously derisive view of so many people will grow increasingly lucid, entertaining and perhaps disconcerting as the ideas unfold because: “People do not have to be conscious of ideas to be beneficiaries of them – or victims of them.  In fact, most of the most hapless and pathetic victims of destructive political ideas are almost entirely unaware of what their political ideas are or that they even have any…. The fact that they do not understand their political priors does not mean that they do not have any or that these are not consequential.  It will not surprise you to learn that these imbeciles in particular do not appreciate having this situation explained to them.  They kind of resent it, in fact.”

 

Williamson must piss off an awful lot of people who think that they’re smart and knowledgeable but, in fact, are clearly neither (clueless of their “intellectual patrimony”). It reminds me of what a reviewer of one of the books we explored here, Science and the Good (2018) said – “For our glib tenured nihilists it is deeply insulting to be redirected back to Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, [etc.] … and to be reminded that the true is not new, and the new is not true.

Talk to ya’ll next Tuesday.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dumbasstical Shitweasels

Ferret Rolling Over

Kevin D. Williamson’s book The Smallest Minority – Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics (2019) is a hilariously entertaining, but sobering, exposé of the sad state of the society in which we find ourselves. Read it near a computer because of his broad vocabulary and plethora of literary and philosophy references you might need to look up in order to follow his thoughts.

 

He begins with the word “intellectual”.  Writers are not supposed to call themselves that today because it sounds arrogant; so intellectuals deceptively pretend to be something else:  “your friend, the tribune of the plebs, the advocate of the common man, or, worst of all, the ‘realist’, the one who wants to use ‘common sense’ on behalf of ‘ordinary folk’ in the pursuit of ‘what works’.  Williamson annihilates this treacherous dishonesty. At the end of each chapter my mind echoed like the reverberations of an enormous array of munitions that just obliterated vast legions of rage zombies.  He vivisects them in vivid and sometimes vulgar detail.

 

On page 20 he coins the term “dumbasstical shitweasels” (combining stupidity with immoral weasel like behavior) – people engaged in attention starved wrestling matches among “mind-killed partisans, grunting modern primitives, talk-radio hucksters, cable-news hustlers… associate professors of being pissed-off and generally aggrieved, and the sundry other dumbasstical shitweasels who currently dominate our political conversation, a spectacle and a debacle…”

 

Intellectuals (even if they don’t call themselves that) have fundamentally betrayed our culture. They pander and cower to a mob of imbecilic rage addicts.  We live in “one of the most remarkable turning points in the moral history of the human species” as Julien Benda wrote in The Treason of the Intellectuals (1927). Here’s a good article on the “undoing of thought”:

https://newcriterion.com/issues/1992/12/the-treason-of-the-intellectuals-ldquothe-undoing-of-thoughtrdquo

 

Williamson writes about moral and intellectual dishonesty and moral illiteracy among modern writers. On 10/24/17 I suggested we avoid those ‘contemptible rascals’:

“There is consolation from Voltaire, who said: We have only two days to live; it is not worth our while to spend them in cringing to contemptible rascals. But alas!, Schopenhauer writes, “let me observe by the way, that contemptible rascal is an attribute which may be predicted of an abominable number of people”. Don’t worry about them! Focus on cultivating your talent and faculties and be sure to have an Estate Planning War Chest full of knowledge and wealth because, as the Roman poet Juvenal put it, it is difficult to rise if your poverty is greater than your talent.”

 

It might be time to worry a little bit about those contemptible rascals. Independent wealth enables us to avoid engaging dumbasstical shitweasels but we should understand why they exist to avoid the menace.  Let’s drive our armored War Chest Wagon deep into moral and intellectual enemy territory in the coming months and study these raging lowbrows:

mob

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized