Dealing with inferiority

A while back, I spent some time talking about the study purporting to show that conservatives are stupid.  Now my Throne and Altar pal Drieu has sent along some other studies claiming to show that we are also more likely to use pornography, have abortions, and have children out of wedlock than our enlightened brethren who don’t think those things are sins.  Weird, and let’s say I’m a bit suspicious.  But, still, it might be true.

I’m hard to scandalize, because my expectation is that of course we religious conservatives are an inferior segment of the population, inferior by every measure.  We are nonconformists, and nonconformists are, as a group, always defectives.  If a group of people doesn’t back the established dogma, there must be something wrong with them.  A truly rare person might see the error in some established belief, but in general if official propaganda doesn’t take, it’s because the subject has some sort of intellectual or social defect.  Conformity to the group is human nature, and the more intelligent, sociable, and industrious the person, the better he will be able to conform.  Today, atheist utilitarianism is established belief.  One would expect dissenters to have lower intelligence, less self-control, less empathy, less social acumen, and less maturity.  They always do.

I don’t except myself.  Why should I imagine that I am not an average deviant?  I am probably significantly less intelligent, moral, and friendly than average.  A more socially conscious person would find it agonizing to belong to a group (even in secret) that his colleagues hate passionately, but being an introvert with few friends, it doesn’t bother me much.  I’ve said before that being unattractive to women during adolescence probably helped spur along my socially conservative sensibilities.  Stubbornness, mental inflexibility, unfounded arrogance, and an antisocial contrarianism have no doubt helped to confirm me in my deviancy.

Why, then, do I persist?  Why not give in to the wisdom of my admitted betters?  Because raw personality and intellectual gifts are mostly used to conform, not to approach truth.  We can all think of historical examples where elite opinion turned out to be worse than uneducated common sense  No doubt, we would choose different examples, but the fact that elite consensus from one era contradicts elite consensus from the next proves that it’s not always right.

Knowing your enemies are smarter and have less embarrassing crime stats than you is not a reason for doubt, but it should affect your strategy.  For example, I’m quite sure that my enemies are wrong and I’m right, but I would never agree to a debate with any of them.  Debates measure quickness of wit, not accuracy of belief.  I’m significantly less smart than the average Jew or atheist; they’d make mincemeat of me.  Another strategic decision for the less gifted is to avoid overextension.  A wise ruler with a small army won’t occupy more territory than he can hold.  A blogger shouldn’t have more opinions than he can competently defend, and that number depends strongly on IQ.  Readers probably noticed that Throne and Altar was a very focused blog–nobody knows Bonald’s opinion on gun control, nuclear nonproliferation, capital gains taxes, and a bunch of other things.  Partly that’s because my interests really are limited, but it’s also a way of dealing with limited intellectual firepower.

Move now from my case to the movement in general.  You will have noticed that most strategies for “retaking the culture” involve being able to outclass our opponents in brains, creativity, or character.  How many times have you heard this:  “The way to win back people to Christianity is by living truly Christian lives.  People will be so impressed by our kindness, integrity, and inner peace that they’ll want to know how to share it.”  Of course, living a good Christian life is always to be encouraged, but given that we’re not the elite, we should expect to come up short on any statistical measure of morality and psychological adjustment.  We’ll never succeed in selling Christ by selling ourselves.  Then there’s this:  “The way to retake the culture is to have conservatives write great novels, produce great movies, and paint great paintings that illustrate our worldview.”  As if we had an unlimited fund of creativity to bring to bear.  Most people with real talent are given an extra dose of brainwashing at elite schools and never find their way into our camp.

The encouragement to outclass our enemies is still a good one; it’s something to strive for.  A reactionary movement that always tries to have better arguments and behavior may not succeed, but it will argue and behave better than it would if it weren’t trying.

35 thoughts on “Dealing with inferiority

  1. “Stubbornness, mental inflexibility, unfounded arrogance, and an antisocial contrarianism have no doubt helped to confirm me in my deviancy.”

    I could not have described myself any better if I tried. Long have I been a serious introvert with little care for the opinions of others or concern for some social life adults had encouraged me to have. However my intelligence is not in question here; I had a 4.0 gpa in high school and above a 2000 on the SAT.

    Nevertheless, we probably are more susceptible to weaknesses or lower IQ because being part of the “in-club” we never were.


  2. This doesn’t ring true to me, I can’t think of an instance in the bible where God says, “go out and be better people than them”. Instead it is usually love them and serve them; “winning” them to Christ is about relationships. You are mixing conservatives and Christians together; that might be an okay message for conservatives.

    • Actually, it says “Go out and be perfect.” What’s expected of us is performance of our duties relative to an objective standard, not a subjective one. The studies Drieu cited don’t really show much besides what we all know: that most Christians are in fact not very good at being Christian.

  3. Yup, most of the people on the far right, including most reactionaries, are bonkers. Which is why it is good to have people like James Kalb and Steve Sailer.

    On the other hand, should real traditionalism become more mainstream, one would think that it would start to attract more level headed types

  4. Um, what Drieu posted has almost nothing to do with conservatives or even strong religious belief. Take the porn statistic. Mormons place a high value on surface conformity, looking like you do and say the right things. So it is totally not surprising they would have a high usage of a secret habit considered ‘dirty’ or ‘creepy’ (which porn use is, even among coastal elite types). They are, in fact, behaving precisely as any other group co-opted by the norms of this modern world would behave and are perfectly modern.

    This can be extrapolated for the abortions in private religious schools as well. I have an angry baby tugging at me, so I cannot tackle the teen birth thing right now.

  5. Those statistical studies are generally just slanders obscured by statistics. They will even acknowledge that correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, and then proceed to attack religious people mercilessly. It helps the authors to get published and get grants. After all, these articles are peer reviewed by people far more atheist or agnostic that in the general population.

    For example, I followed your link on religiosity and teen pregnancy. Talk about a massive slander. Did the writers of that paper controlled for wealth and parent’s education? Also, do we know if the correlation was spurious or causation inverse? For example, if you believe your daughter has lustful tendencies stronger than that in her cohort; is it more likely for you to send her to a religious school to put her in a safer environment? What if you are a divorced mother dating men, wouldn’t you perhaps try to limit the damage by sending your kids to religious school? I don’t know.

    What I find extremely deceiving of all these studies is that the big factors, those that consistently “explain” a lot of these behaviors are wealth and parent’s education. Also, because school districts are finance by property taxes, I expect these factors to magnify the differences. So, no matter how irreligious and liberal Connecticut might be, I expect Greenwich public school students to do better than those in religious schools in Utah.
    The comparison is as fair as comparing Fordham Prep (Jesuit, I know) vs. Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx.

    Anyway, even if true, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside.”Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith.”

  6. The men of Chronicles are most definitely an exception to this premise that you outline as well as Steve Sailer and James Kalb which The Man Who Was mentioned.

    I’m not sure I buy this premise. How are we less moral if we’re actual Christians(i.e. those that walk the walk)? Not everyone who has been baptised is devout. We’re a very, very tiny minority.

  7. People should be careful about accepting that the results of specific statistical studies are applicable – it is minimally necessary that research be honest and competent even before beginning discussion, or else great damage can be done.

    Most published research (and I mean nearly-all published research, in nearly all ‘sciences’) is neither honest nor competent.

    In other words the researchers are not-even-trying to discover and communicate the truth, and even if they were they lack the knowledge and ability to do so.

    People ought therefore to rely on personal experience and trusted historical data (written before the widespread corruptions of Leftism) (as everyone did in historical societies) – and if published research contradicts personal experience and history, then this ‘research’ should be rejected without a second thought, UNLESS the author/s are SPECIFICALLY (as individuals) known to be honest and competent.

    Therefore the algorithm is

    1. Reject ALL modern social research.

    2. UNLESS you are in a position to know that the persons doing the research are honest and competent.

    (This means that you are forbidden to use modern research to back-up your own convictions based on experience and history, where the two happen to coincide.)

    • I work as one of the few researchers in a very applied setting. A few weeks ago I gave a professional development presentation to the applied folk walking them through the process of how to quickly read a social science article, and some caveats. As I wrote it I quickly realized that the caveats qualified the rest of the presentation so heavily I might as well not do it at all, and if it weren’t for the fact that I’d already committed to doing it, I may have just quit. Instead, I gave the presentation and concluded with an admonition to the applied folk to trust basically nothing, because most social scientists are lazy, sloppy, ignorant hacks.

      • No. I don’t care enough about my job for such a realization (not even really a realization — I suppose just an acknowledgment of an already-apprehended truth) to be life-altering. I have bigger things to worry about.

  8. bgc is correct. I am about six months from completing a Ph.D. in a program where my coursework focused almost exclusively on social science methodology.

    I have read hundreds of social science studies. Through all of this, I have concluded that the process is so inherently muddled and biased that the only thing social science research can tell us about is the beliefs of the researcher.

    • Yes, this is a very depressing realization, and one I wish I’d had sooner so I could have changed my major in time. I’m now looking into trade schools.

  9. I seem to be constitutionally incapable of accepting modernity and this has roots from when I was very young, even though I didn’t understand it in these terms back then. I remember when I was 9 or 10, I was very much a fan of the ‘Redwall’ series of fantasy fiction by Brian Jacques. The (fairly formulaic) plot of these books centers around anthropomorphic animals living a medieval existence in the woodlands with a very black and white definition of good and evil throughout. The stories even include a Christ figure (Martin the Warrior mouse). Anyway, as one can tell, the plots are quite reactionary, anti-modern, and romantic. My school teacher at the time saw me reading these books and asked why I liked them so much. I replied something along the lines of “they don’t have so much modern technology” or whatnot to which the teacher answered with a question “You really like the olden days don’t you?”. Little did I know, but I was a reactionary already, and it was the meaninglessness and lack of spiritual depth in modernity that really got to me. Later on in life, the one thing that tipped me over edge (after a brief flirtation with being a ‘Christian Libertarian’) into full fledged reactionary is the realization of how modern life has torn usunder any meaningful bonds between human beings and how we seem to be so alienated from each other we no longer are capable of love. A profoundly depressing realization upon discovery of which I realized modernity must be shown no quarter.

    Has anyone else here felt like they are constitutionally incapable of accepting modernity?

      • I have always hated the notion that truth is unknowable, unusable, relative, or non-existent. I could say that I am constitutionally incapable of living a life devoid of truth, and the pursuit of it. I tried drugs, I tried sex, I tried apathy, but I could not survive; I nearly died, and I nearly killed others. There was nowhere left for me to go but to my death. A pomo friend of mine said that there is no good that a person can do in their life, except maybe to just die. I thought to myself, as a Christian, that is true. Thankfully we can be born again.

    • To Ransom Culhane:

      Yes! Although I have learned the tools of modernity well enough to have been a successful fighter pilot for many years – flying fourth-generation fighters: supersonic, highly sophisticated jet aircraft – I have a strong feeling that the century in which I am most at home is the Twelfth (in Christendom, that is, not elsewhere where those years are not the Twelfth Century I’m thinking of). Impossible to know for sure, of course, as I’ve never actually been in the Twelfth Century, but I do feel that way.

      Actually, there is a book title that captures curiously precisely the when and where that I suspect would be most homelike to me. A.L. Poole titled his volume of the Oxford History of England “From Domesday Book to Magna Carta”. The years between those events, the Island where they took place and the related lands across the Channel, all together have long felt like my proper place and time.

      Salve. HRS

  10. There are different sorts of inferiority, viz., the generic type that can be safely ignored by the establishment elites, and the type that they will always view with a wary eye. We are the latter and while the power of this status, whatever it may be, is largely out of our hands it should never be doubted.

  11. Liberal smartness is all pride, right down to the bone. That is why these liberals who revel in their intelligence cannot come to God. God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.

    I am just a fool for Christ.

  12. Putting on my Steve Sailer hat, do any of these studies control for race? Blacks are more religious than the general population, but also have more abortions.

    Also, abortion rates are higher in blue states, except in parts of the South, which again have a lot of blacks:

    The most solid seems to be the correlation between pornography and conservative zip codes, even in lily white Utah.

  13. A larger proportion of black abortions are teenaged girls who were raped/abused, and attending liberation theology churches with lady pastors more often than genpop is not exactly ‘more religious’ of the adult women in the pool having abortions.

    There is also an increasing number of black immigrant women having to late-term abort (usually) girls, as well.

    Modern abortion is primarily driven by female desire to keep male attention, with ‘impressing my feminist friends’ a fairly distant second, even among well-off white women who abort. Some women use abortion to ‘test’ their husbands or boyfriends and then when he doesn’t tie them to the bed to keep them from aborting, use that wedge to break up the marriage or relationship. The desperation tends to revolve around not being able to keep an otherwise ‘good man’ rather than fears about feeding another baby.

  14. If we’re so much dumber, why is our grammar and spelling so much better? Have you ever done any reading on left-wing blogs? Double plus ungood.

  15. Bonald, I feel that this post could have been addressed to people like me. I showed my idealistic side in “Leave the Dead to Bury the Dead”, now it’s time to be realistic.

    First, you are almost certainly correct in saying that because leftism is the dominant ideaology, intelligent, well socialised people will be inclined to conform to it. The negative traits you assign yourself all apply to me as well; “stubbornness”, check “mental inflexibility”, probable check “unfounded arrogance”, in abundance “antisocial contrarianism” mainly because contemporary society disgusts me, but still, check. I shall also add impatience, ambition, and a barely suppressed cruel streak a mile long. Nonetheless, I do not believe I am any less moral than the average man; but, (and I suspect this is the case with most traditionalists) I am more self-critical than most people and so more fully aware of my own flaws.

    As for “retaking the culture”, you are right again; the chances of Christian traditionalists building enough cultural momentum to become a credible threat to the liberal/leftist order on their own are vanishingly small. However, speaking as someone without even a foot in the Church’s door but only a few toes I have, perhaps, a wider more realpolitik view of things.

    Let me speak about myself first; I was born a reactionary, as soon as I was old enough to become aware of politics I began to feel a burning anger, a hatred, of the revolution. I have always had a love, a longing for, order, beauty, hierarchy, honours, titles, heroism, glory. I’ve always perceived leftism/liberalism as being irreconcilably opposed to these things and so I hate it. So, I am not at all Christlike, much more am I the heroic pagan. I have always thought of myself as Christian, and for nearly a year, thought I could be a real Christian traditionalist like you Orthos. Only the past few days, since Easter, I have begun to suffer serious doubts about my faith as I come to better understand what I believe and what being a Christian really means. The supernatural elements of Christianity tax my credulity not a bit; I regard the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient God as virtually self-evident, once this is established, such mysteries as the Incarnation and Resurrection are not at all beyond belief. What I do not understand is why wealth is regarded as a barrier to salvation and why I should not retaliate with violence when confronted with force. The existence of the Man-God is easy for me to believe, it’s what he preaches in the gospels that gives me doubts. This is why I do not understand those liberal christians who deny the mysteries but praise Jesus as a great moral teacher. If Jesus wasn’t God, I’d prefer to learn my morality from Homer and the Norse Sagas. Since the majority of Christians throughout history, and not only nominal ones, appear to have behaved more like the latter than the former, (see my avatar) I am clearly not alone in my questions. So far as the Church is concerned, consider me the loyal opposition. I went off on a tangent there, but now you can better see the position I’m coming from.

    Now, permit me to explain what I believe the future has in store for us. I believe we are reliving the 1st century B.C., by which I mean that significant reform by conventional political means has become impossible in our Republic, which everyday more resembles the late Roman Republic. The body politic is diseased. Factionalism is rife and compromise is unthinkable. Government has become little more than a means for the political class to enrich itself. Most people are now thoroughly disillusioned with party politics and established idealogies. The mass media can whip up elements of the populace from time to time, but it is generally difficult to generate much enthusiasm. The majority is becoming increasingly disengaged from public life. In addition, we face a looming economic catastrophe unlike anything the Romans faced at this stage in their history; the materialism that charecterised modernity is in for a severe shock. Spengler was right; the time is approaching for Caesar figures to appear again, men who cut through the deadlock of the party establishments to forge a following based on their own charisma and vision. The Caesars will be supported by relatively small numbers of dedicated partisans while the masses stand by to accept the victor passively, their own will long spent. Then, when the contest, which can only end in violence, is finished, will begin the Empire.

    What all this means to religous traditionalists is that they are either going to have to disengage from politics entirely or accept that they are probably going to need to ally with a more spontaneous secular reaction. Cultural change through persuasion is highly unlikely. The good news is that if history is any precedent, the new order will probably be friendly to Christianity and may even be run by those who are incidentally Christian, (but not overtly religous reactionaries) in time, as consumerism fades away, a religous revival among the masses could well occur. In the meantime, we can expect to see things slowly get worse and worse. A swift collapse leading to a painless transition to a new order will not happen. What we will see is a slow descent over decades with deceptive periods of temporary recovery; indeed, when the collapse is over many people will probably only realise it had happened in hindsight. Before the end, however, I have little doubt we will witness considerable bloodshed and cruelty, and one can only pray that Christian charity and love will be present to mitigate it.

    This has turned into a much a longer comment than I’d intended and I still haven’t said half of what I might have. Anyway, that’s what our world looks like from the perspective of this one young fool.

    • Great post. I feel exactly as you do, both loving the Gospels and hating the inversion of order and hierarchy that come along with it…not to mention the potential for passive acceptance of BS that will destroy our people and Christianity along with it.

      Look to Robert E. Lee for an example of perfect christian Nobility. I think you’ll find his vision of Christ to be much more in line with Truth and Masculinity than anything the West has seen since the Middle Ages.

      P.S. I imagine it is much harder for merchants to enter the kingdom of heaven than warriors or monks. The love of money is the root of all evil. God bless you, sir.

    • I agree with much of your predictions, except with the nature of the Empire. Julius Caesar, while a Patrician, was from the Popular party: i.e., the modern liberals. His implementation was the ultimate triumph of clientelism and parasitic behavior: the people gave him legitimacy and divinity, while he gave them bread, circus and citizenship. One of the consequences of the Empire was that citizenship became near universal: i.e., meaningless.
      The Empire will be led by a “Leader of the Free World”, which will further dilute the meaning of citizenship, while providing free services by taxing the most productive and putting his friends in positions of wealth and power. It will require a state religion to give him legitimacy, and it will be secularism, not Christianity.
      The Empire will be a long night, until, through demographic change, our Emperor recoginzes Christianity like Constantine, or it becomes a Caliphate.
      From that point of view, I would rather be on the side of Cato and Brutus, than on any of the Caesars, Marius, or Pompeys that our politics will bring. To that effect, while our instinct is to be outside society, we need at least to help each other against the coming onslaught. That includes building a community, helping the Church, even if we don’t like our bishops, and try to withstand what is coming until the demographic wave from those who didn’t apostasize reach a critical mass to change the culture.

  16. “Another strategic decision for the less gifted is to avoid overextension. A wise ruler with a small army won’t occupy more territory than he can hold. A blogger shouldn’t have more opinions than he can competently defend, and that number depends strongly on IQ.”

    Wise words, I will certainly keep them in mind.

  17. I think you’re underestimating the elite here. The people who are smarter than average will usually swallow the dogma, but the people who are very much smarter than average will usually see the problems with it. I have a lot of friends in the cognitive-elite bubble, and of them, the smartest ones (scientists and a few artists) generally read Moldbug, although anything even vaguely religious is taboo enough in those circles that they’ll probably never end up here; and the ones who either aren’t as smart or can’t do anything but bruteforce (engineers, low-art majors (film etc.), stereotypical Asians) are loud, vitriolic defenders of the sort of liberal trash you get from people like PZ Myers.

    That said, I’m here in part because I’m pathologically unable to accept any doctrine that’s put in front of me and in part because I couldn’t keep on being a libertarian once my life dead-ended.

  18. I don’t know. I think superior intelligence, no matter personal or social success factors, should ideally lead to truth and a proper understanding of human nature, society, and the world at large. I know I am intelligent (IQ in 99.7 percentile), so I guess I doubt my opinions less if they are well-reasoned out, but I lean heavily to conservative views. These maybe due to me accepting Catholic orthodoxy and the logical conclusions that follow. But I think most people have faulty views due to lack of exposure to alternate views and their reasons, concupiscence, and conformity among many other reasons.

    willing to question everything and think deeply and logically about things as well as having exposure and depth of knowledge from every angle about numerous subjects as well as accepting the logical conclusions no matter what we may wish to be true or what others think is important.

  19. I think Bonald takes a refreshing perspective: i.e in saying that whether or not those studies are accurate is simply not the point.
    I agree with a great deal of his worldview as he defines it, and share many of the same experiences of isolation.
    As time goes on I find a agree less and less with the standard ideologies both of “the left” AND of “the right” *as they exist as social phenomena in the present.*
    There are dangers in both. And in both the essential danger for Christians is conformity to the way of the world. Whether it is enlightenment ideology or capitalist class privilege. I find it genuinely incomprehensible that a Christian can possibly support either ideology. How can “liberals” reconcile God’s love for each individual with their acceptance of abortion and refusal to protect the unborn? How can “conservatives” reconcile the gospel with their allegiance to a competitive, even ruthless economic system and the barely concealed assumption that its results are consistent with God’s will? Both sides have all too easily slid into thinking that the established order of our society has God’s approval. Both sides deceive themselves that all would be well in God’s eyes were we simply to eliminate the influence of their despised opponent. What is required of us, I submit, is radically different from the established order.
    I am very sympathetic toward much of the “reactionary” thinking on this blog. But (being an unregenerate nonconformist who can’t stop thinking things through) I feel called to rain a little bit on this reactionary picnic. The question has come up of “why do liberals think as they do”–and then to uncover unflattering motives. And these unflattering criticisms have some justice. But I’d also like to introduce a more general point: one reason people hold beliefs is that they have good reasons for doing so. Not all beliefs are mere epiphenomena. And there can be good reasons for beliefs which actually are false. Or there can be good reasons for beliefs that in fact false in the form in which they are embraced. Maybe one’s opponent believes what he believes because of those good reasons. Maybe he just does not understand or has not yet been convinced by the further evidence which should lead him to qualify those beliefs.
    And here is where I really want to rain on the reactionary picnic: the evidence that tends to impress liberals is in fact very significant evidence: our western history of military domination in terms of especially the Spanish and British empires; the long tradition of slavery; the long tradition of anti-Semitism culminating in the Holocaust. “Liberals” have incomprehensibly responded to these facts by moving in the direction of total relativism, and in the unwarranted reduction of Christianity and Western Civilization to its worst aspects. But these facts of history should give everyone pause. There are very specific ways in which they should give even genuine conservatives pause. Christianity and nationalism are in fact capable of degenerating into ferocious and murderous wrath against the groups they identify as their enemies. There is nothing unique about Christianity and nationalism in this regard.
    The truth is not relative. But as one embraces the truth, the question arises as to one’s attitude toward those who are in error. And here a whole new temptation arises–the temptation to wrath. Christianity recognizes our nature as fallen. St. Paul recognized the temptation that arises from virtue itself–the temptation to become ‘puffed up.’ Our sinful nature is not so easily overcome. One aspect of our sinful nature is *the need for enemies.* Even when one has through a long struggle found a genuine and salvific truth, that does not mean that the need for enemies is incapable of rearing its head. We are called to oppose error and champion the truth–but in this quest, to be ever alert to the sinful temptations that this quest itself can arouse–the temptation of hate.


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