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.

18 thoughts on “The Lethal Sociological Misprision of Modernism

  1. Pingback: The Lethal Sociological Misprision of Modernism | @the_arv

    • Society founds itself to alleviate conflict. Language itself, absolutely central to any notion of “the social,” is aboriginally a deferral of conflict.

      Sure. But the question is whether communication is intended first to avoid or defer conflict, or to establish social agreement, and only then derivately avoid or deter conflict that depraves a prior society. I.e., is language first and foremost a medium of coordination and friendship, or of bolstering that coordination and friendship by forestalling conflict? It is both, to be sure; but which is prior: the friendship, or its invigoration? If there is no medium of social coordination in the first place – so that in fact there is no social coordination whatever – then how might a nonexistent harmony be improved?

      Can cacophony be tuned? Can it be music? Can it be even very bad music?

      I might even argue that war is an attempt to reach agreement, and harmony; to restore stability, and peace, and agreement.

      Two strangers meet upon an empty heath, with each their nomad clans in tow. What is their very first effort in respect to each other? They try to establish friendship, and peace. They try first to talk, and to agree, because friendship is great and noble, profitable and fun, while fighting sucks. They find that they have no common tongue. What then is their very first step toward establishing some sort of understanding, then friendship – which is to say, society? They tell each other their names. In so doing, they introduce themselves to each other as human persons, each worthy of dignified treatment as such by the other, and not as inhuman to each other (every nation’s name for itself is rooted in something like “the human beings”). They hope thereby to show each other that in some basic sense they are a common people with each other; that in the final analysis, they are familiars, who ought to help each other, and who do in fact want to help each other. They hope, i.e., to show each other that they are not enemies; that they are friends.

      They smile; they shake hands that have opened from their accustomed grasp of hilts and shafts; they exchange gifts; they share food, and goods; they feast together. In the limit, they consider an exchange of brides, to make their society permanent in virtue of their familiarity.

      Later they may disagree. But both want first and foremost to agree (because fighting sucks). Such is the default, the baseline, the basis of all human transaction. Only given a prior nisus to agreement might disagreement ensue; where there is no possibility of agreement, the notion of disagreement is vacuous (this, in just the way that if knowledge is impossible, then error and ignorance are ruled out categorially). So, their disagreement should it ensue is a lamentable failure, a fall, a disappointment.

      • Two strangers can only meet and parlay after a society has been established and after each is in possession of his language. The meeting is easiest when the language is the same, but that would imply the common social origin of the two parties and they would thus not be strangers. Presumably there was an original language. (“In the beginning was the Word.”)

        Disagreement implies prior agreement. The “Two Strangers” hypothesis is, then, not adequate to explain the emergence of language. The emergence of language requires not just two, but the community as a whole, present to, and aware of, itself, just as it is in ritual. Language and ritual are two aspects of the same thing.

      • I’m pretty sure we are saying the same thing in different ways: disagreement requires prior agreement, and society – which is to say, familiarity, friendship, commensality – is the forecondition of agreement, ergo of disagreement.

        And society is given, not as a late development, but as characteristic and basic to our species, as it is to all the apes, and indeed to almost all the mammals. Its benefits are clear from a game theoretical perspective: cooperation multiplies the knowledge and power of a species. Its reproductive advantages are clear; they seem to suffice as its reasons. And cooperation is mediated by acts, by gestures – including, eventually, vocal and then linguistic gestures.

        As for the causes of language in particular, we must ask what benefits it confers in order to understand its reasons – which is to say, its purposes for and in human minds. It does work to prevent and to settle disagreements, certainly. But it has other uses, too. Squirrels and birds signal their presence to their neighbours, and alert each other to the movements of predators; bees signal to each other about sources of food. Whales and wolves sing to each other, and together. Vocal communication then – and by extension its linguistic sort – does not reduce all and only to violence, and the prevention thereof. Beauty, fun, love – in short, peace – these are at least as compelling as fighting. Indeed, fighting is interesting, alluring, compelling only as a way to peace.

        Then there are the intellectual benefits of language. Understanding is wonderfully pleasant, and confers tremendous advantages. Teaching, then, too, is terrifically valuable: the banked knowledge of generations, accumulated at great cost, and handed down efficiently and with evident enjoyment as tradition, skill, history, story, myth.

        Not to mention humor.

        The bottom line is that violence is the forcible taking of valued goods – property, lives, experiences – whether to their appropriation as loot or to their destruction. No value, then nothing to take or destroy; so then, no violence.

        In this as in everything, the Good is prior to evil, and evil supervenes always upon some prior good.

      • Does genesis 11:9 teach us that the the presumptuous pride of human persons communicating univocally would, in elevating communication, also have a corresponding inverse effect of compounding “the social” so far as to directly conflict with the mandate of heaven and to thereby, while deferring conflict among each other, human persons would, in the process of that event, directly initiate it with the Godhead–putting the friendship of the one before the other–evincing a collective contravention of the natural order and purpose of Creation (an wholesale reenactment of the private sin of our father, Adam) and a second fall of man observed now by his separation (the separation from God being a consequence of that first Fall) from his brother? Can one lesson of Shinar and Babel be that sans his friendship with God, and as his language is first and foremost purposed to expressing that distinctive and primary privilege, man can hope for none of “the social” with his brother–and would do well to ought not to sans prayer first and always to his Father?

  2. This is how C. S. Lewis describes the Satanic outlook in The Screwtape Letters. The best minds in Hell were hard at work trying to figure out how the crucifixion was to God’s advantage. They knew all that talk about love had to be what culture theorists call a “legitimating ideology.”

    • I was confused from the beginning at the fact that the White Witch totally missed the Deep Magic from Before Time that rendered her temporal victory over Aslan a complete and utter defeat. How could a witch acquainted with transit between kosmoi have erred so badly, so *obviously,* when even I, a boy of only 7, could see it so clearly?

      How could any fool think she might somehow prevail against the Lord of Everything?

      Must be the Deep Stupidity from within Time.

  3. Pingback: The Lethal Sociological Misprision of Modernism | Reaction Times

  4. “The bottom line is that violence is the forcible taking of valued goods – property, lives, experiences – whether to their appropriation as loot or to their destruction. No value, then nothing to take or destroy; so then, no violence.”

    Exactly. Language arises when the pre-linguistic community senses the potential violence in converging on a solitary object that everyone would like to possess for himself. The first word designates that object, but also creates a pause of non-appropriation. That pause is enough to inaugurate linguistic consciousness. Afterwards the rack of ribs or whatever it is may be divided up in the ensuing sparagmos, which enacts the previously looming and previously deferred violence under a new self-aware order. According to Merritt Ruhlen, one of the advocates of the “World” hypothesis, which argues that there must have been a single original language, the first word was *tick, a pointing word from which digit and zeichen and to teach ultimately derive. Eric Gans too in his various books argues that the ostensive, the grammatical mood of pure designation which is neither verbal nor nominal, but precedes them in simplicity, is the basis of all subsequent language, with its complexifying grammar.

    • That makes perfect sense. We hear “tick” also in the ostensive “this” and “that.”

      “Tick” is the sound of a stick breaking (which is probably why we use the sound in our terms for sticks and stakes (and steaks)). It is a signal of an approaching predator, as being a proxy for the sort of sound that such a predator might make at his approach. So, it is a warning of danger: “Beware!” And what do animals do when they suddenly become aware of a potential threat of that sort? They freeze.

  5. This dooms him to … constant battle. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy

    I try to warn those who attempt to appease the SJW Ungoliant that it is pointless. You will never be anti-sexist/racist/homophobic enough to satisfy its hunger for chaos and destruction.


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