Free Speech

Free speech is an ideal and a good. It is the nature of ideals and goods that they run up against other ideals and goods compromising their expression.

Plato’s Republic centers on the ideal of justice. By making justice the overriding emphasis of his hypothetical polis, Plato completely removes the ideals and goods of romantic love and familial love. Successful warriors are to be given their choice of mates and children are to be brought up in anonymous nurseries because parents tend to want the best for their children even when their children do not really deserve it.

The Republic is thus a reductio ad absurdum argument. Readers of Plato know that Plato considered love to be very important and loves features extensively in The Symposium and The Phaedrus. Plato should not, therefore, be read as actually espousing his utopian city. He is engaged in a philosophical exercise. Showing what it would take to have relatively perfect justice on earth while warning of taking the virtue to an excess.

Similarly, just as perfect earthly justice does not exist, neither does perfect free speech. There are other goods to consider, such as public safety and the protection of innocents. It is right and proper to set such limits on free speech. We should not abandon the word “justice” just because it is never absolute and it must contend with other goods and ideals and for the same reason we need not abandon the phrase and ideal of “free speech” just because perfect free speech is not to be seen. In fact, absolutely free speech would be an evil, just as concentrating only on justice would create evil. Even love must have its limits.

As I said in my essay on political correctness, some Marxists and other leftists like to reduce everything to issues of power and reject the idea that the free exchange of ideas can lead to truth. Likewise, adherents of identity politics often offer no argument and countenance no disagreement; starting sentences with, for instance, “As a black person…”. Such modes of speech qualify more as testimony than argument, although the testimony is likely to include all sorts of inaccurate factual claims and pseudo-explanations.

My position is that the free exchange of ideas and rational debate is a legitimate means of determining the truth. Anyone who disagrees with that and chooses to debate with me in the interest of convincing me of his views is engaged in a performative contradiction.

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What’s Wrong with a Little Political Correctness?

Political correctness is an instrument of oppression and scapegoating most prominently used by academic and political elites and enforced by mainstream news outlets. It is tyrannical, conformist and puritanical. Most egregiously, it is anti-thought. In On Liberty John Stuart Mill writes “Truth gains more even by the errors of one who, with due study and preparation, thinks for himself, than by the true opinions of those who only hold them because they do not suffer themselves to think…”

An analogy can be made with other forms of despotism. Marshall Tito of Yugoslavia, once he had executed 250,000 people at the beginning of his tyranny, proceeded to be a fairly benevolent dictator. This is no argument in favor of this form of government however because the fact of his benevolence was merely happenstance. There was no mechanism by which he might be removed should his actions become intolerable.

Likewise, counterfactually supposing political correctness had some beneficial effects, there is no mechanism of correction. Political correctness countenances lies and censorship if they be in what is considered a good cause. As many have noted, when it comes to political correctness, the truth is no defense. This means errors cannot be challenged, even in principle, by appeals to facts. Instead, insisting on pointing out inconvenient truths is an excellent way to find oneself being morally condemned.

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In Hoc Signo Vinces – Deus Vult!

No new insigniae are needed to indicate the loyalties and intentions of the proper Right of the West (and of Christendom more generally). The unbroken Cross of the Tradition will do, whereas no other could. In no other sign could we ultimately, truly conquer; in every other sign we should certainly, finally suffer defeat. So nor should any others than the Cross or its many variations be deployed as our banners. Two in particular signify and muster and urge the Church Militant:

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Vir Prudens Non Contra Ventum Mingit

In theory, the modern university operates under the quodlibet principle that it is free to discuss and inquire into what (quod) it pleases (libet). Within its ivied walls, it would have us believe, there are no sacred cows and everything is fair game. In reality, however, the motto of every modern university is vir prudens non contra ventum mingit, which is the erudite way to say that a wise man does not piss into the wind. Continue reading

Liberty Is the Fruit of Sovereignty

You can’t do anything at all if the world isn’t ordered. Actions are conceivable under conditions of absolute disorder, but their effects are not. So, since acts can complete their actuality only insofar as their actions somehow eventuate in effects – which cannot happen under conditions of disorder – then actions cannot actually happen except under conditions of order.

This holds not just for the cosmic order that warrants our expectations of the consequences of our actions, but for its social subsidiary.

Only in the context of a social order can we do anything as individuals.

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Apparitions of the Gods

Gods 01 Muses by Andreas Mantegna (1496)

The Muses (1496) by Andreas Mantegna (1431 – 1503)

“The dove – the rood – the loaf – the wine.”

Men know the gods because they have seen or intuited them, but not all men have seen or intuited the gods, and some men are incapable of seeing or intuiting them.  The gods, moreover, sometimes disguise themselves so as to test men, or they appear in and as omens and auguries, which the dull of mind and the wicked of heart invariably either miss entirely through their mental obtuseness or, through self-serving prejudice, blatantly misread.

I. The gods appear in and as their attributes, which again only those who have vested themselves in the proper lore and the requisite discipline can correctly interpret. Who would see the gods must enjoy a gift of pre-attunement, even before he bows under the discipline and engraves the lore in his heart that will let him see them. Such a man is called a poet.  The ancient Boeotian teller of the gods, Hesiod, whom scholars assign to the late Eighth Century or early Seventh Century BC, bears a name that means simply “The” (he or hos) “Poet” (aiodos), suggesting that the Boeotians, or at least those of them in the vicinity of Mt. Helicon, recognized his special talent and accorded him the status owing thereto.  That status may claim itself paramount because the community must commune with the gods, just as the gods must communicate with the community, and an efficient go-between nicely serves the requirement both ways.  One misthinking modern school argues through Hesiod’s name that any particular poet is a non-existence, as though no one could write a poem, as though poems constituted themselves, authorless, and as though therefore no one really ever saw Hesiod’s gods or heard them speak.  This thesis of a literary fantasy amounts, however, merely to another kind of noetic obtuseness.  Someone wrote Hesiod’s poems, obviously, and if Hesiod were the invention of that someone then that someone nevertheless would have seen Hesiod’s gods – through his invention, as it were, and taking Hesiod’s name, but equally in a vision such that the seeing must guarantee its own authenticity and such that He remains The Poet.

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The Lethal Sociological Misprision of Modernism

Feminists, Marxists, libertarians – indeed almost all moderns – are alike stuck in the improper reduction of all social relations to struggles for power. They cannot see that struggles for power are not the basis of society, but rather defects thereof. Society is constituted fundamentally of charitable exchange, communion, friendship, familiarity, commensality.

There is struggle, to be sure. But you can’t struggle for social power if there is no society to begin with.

The modernist’s reduction of society to its diseases leaves him unable to understand his quotidian predicaments in any other way than as constant battle. This dooms him to … constant battle. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

How Do We Recognize Truth?

When we encounter the truth, it has a distinct and peculiar feel. It is not as though we assign that qualia to some of our notions, and not to others. We rather discover that the truth feels the way that it feels, in just the way that we find that oranges are orange and fire is hot. We don’t decide that an idea is true, we understand its truth. Its truth does not originate in us, but is rather borne in upon us forcefully. Nor once we have intuited the truth of a notion is it at all possible for us to delete or controvert that intuition (except insofar as we subsequently refine our understanding of the idea in question). Truth is not in the eye of its beholder; the eye of the intellect beholds it, not as an invention of its own, but as an objective reality.

How?

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Holiness Spirals versus Sanctity

Holiness spirals are a problem only insofar as those who in them signal their virtue are not in fact auguring in on true sanctity. Truly holy men are the *opposite* of a problem; rather, they are the whole point and summit of the human endeavor.

But most public protestations of “holiness” are in fact evidence of profanity.

How to tell the difference?

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