The Wokesters Wanna Weed Our Libraries

“The whole apparatus for spreading knowledge, the schools and the press, wireless and cinema, will be used exclusively to spread those views which, whether true or false, will strengthen the belief in the rightness of the decisions taken by the authority; and all information that might cause doubt or hesitation will be withheld.”

Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (1944)

I just received a remarkable invitation to an upcoming lecture series entitled, “Weeding out Neutrality,” the advertised speakers being “activist librarians” who aim to destroy “old myths about libraries and neutrality” so they can curate collections that are openly and purposefully one-sided.

As the organizers of the lecture series put it, “a growing corps of activist librarians . . . . hope to transform our understanding of libraries and the role they play in destroying unjust and unfair systems.”  If you think that a library is a place you go to study all sides of a question and form your own opinion, these activist librarians have some news for you!

In the libraries of tomorrow, your opinions will be formed by the hidden hand of activist librarians who weed out all books that contradict the party line.  The totalitarian tool that Hayek warned against is now being debated, and will very soon be used, in what many believe is the most conservative public university in the United States.

To use the language of CRT, librarians must “weed out neutrality” because any library that is not actively anti-racist is a racist library.   Any library that suffers its shelves to be soiled by books that argue all sides of the question is a racist library because neutrality, objectivity, and impartiality are just slogans of hate that rationalize “unjust and unfair systems.”

By extension, we must suppose that any library that is not actively anti-white is a white library, any library that is not actively anti-capitalist is a capitalist library, any library that is not actively anti-Christian is a Christian library, etc., etc., etc.

Here Hayek reduces the theory of this new library science to a single line.  Indeed, Hayek’s line will serve as the motto of the general and universal Scientific Revolution of the Twenty-First Century.

“The probable effect on the people’s loyalty to the system becomes the only criterion for deciding whether a particular piece of information is to be published or suppressed.”*

Neutrality

* Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1944), chap. 11.

37 thoughts on “The Wokesters Wanna Weed Our Libraries

  1. “Activist librarians” – God help us. “Weeding out neutrality” sounds slightly less outrageous than “Ensuring communism dominates everything”. What the deuce is happening? It is utterly insane. But we need a way to deal with it. The Third Reich achieved power not by appealing to reason, thought or logic. Emotion is a very powerful way of controlling people, and that’s what’s happening here – ideology dictates the nature of social reality. The Left are going all in yet again, because the working class let them down and now racial politics will help them achieve their goals. It’s divisive, hateful and spiteful, and it leads to the gates of Auschwitz.

  2. It’s amazing how wokism has routed not only us (conservatives barely had a toehold on social acceptability before anyway) but even our enemies who only a few years ago seemed so formidable. Conservatism is dead, but liberalism is also dead. Neutrality was the heart of liberalism as defended by analytic political philosophers, but who would dare defend it today? Nor would anyone respectable defend “classical” i.e. procedural liberalism, which provides legal protections to the wicked as well as to the righteous. Utilitarianism, including minimax-type variants favored by Rawlsian progressives of yesteryear, is dead, because it concerns itself equally with the utility of the wicked and the righteous, refuses as a matter of deliberate principle to discriminate between them. Tolerance has disappeared from the Leftist vocabulary.
    Postmodernism is dead, now that we possess the one true faith.

    • Liberalism was always “soft” on the left and has never acted evenhandedly. There are individual exceptions but the entire movement has always been in thrall to its founding myths about the war against “tyranny.” On top of this, liberalism has always been loaded with opportunistic liberals for whom liberalism was simply the solvent of tradition. Free speech was, for these opportunistic liberals, simply the freedom to denounce the old order. Once the old order was gone, and with it the need for a solvent, these opportunistic liberals put free speech back in the can.

      Wokeism benefits from the idea, increasingly widespread, that wokeism is inevitable. Anyone who opposes it has to think that his picture will appear in the history books next to Bull Connor and George Wallace. Martyrdom requires a belief that songs will be sung to your memory in future, or that you will be received into the glorious kingdom of heaven.

    • Are there any gestures towards a new theoretical liberal synthesis to replace the old neutrality-based one? Or will this crude metastasizing oppressor-oppressed narrative simply overwhelm all other erstwhile liberal commitments without much in the way of theoretical justification?

      • That’s a very good question. As far as I know, oppressor-oppressed has overwhelmed everything else, has no room or need for anything else. However, I’m not sure that I would know if they are cooking anything else up in the philosophy, social science, and humanities departments. I no longer follow Leftist thought; it seems less like a reasoned critique of my beliefs than an unhinged torrent of insults.

        Here’s a recent article by Terry Eagleton (on of the less insufferable of them) at the Guardian, explaining that postmodernism is silly (which is true) and should be dropped in the name of woke self-righteousness.

        https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/nov/10/everything-all-the-time-everywhere-by-stuart-jeffries-review-how-we-became-postmodern

      • Our late colleague Thomas Bertoneau often explained that scapegoating is the true theory behind this movement. I would add that the scapegoat in this case has been conditioned to believe that he is guilty and deserves everything he gets. This theory alone does nothing to stop the system, however. Nor do I see much hope for a liberal revival, since liberalism (like democracy) seems require a fairly homogeneous population. When a liberal democracy contains groups with profound historical grievances (real or imagined), it becomes the instrument of envy and revenge. As we see today.

      • Thanks for the responses. I guess oppressor-oppressed eclipsing neutrality makes sense with respect to liberalism’s own commitments: to be neutral with respect to oppressor and oppressed classes is to legitimate the hate, bigotry, sexism, racism, etc. of the oppressed class that stands in the way of liberation for the oppressed classes.

        At the moment, personal autonomy still seems to be central to modern liberalism, as evinced by the rise of all the trans stuff. Indeed, the commitment to personal autonomy or equal freedom is what gave rise to the oppressor-oppressed paradigm in the first place. But if even the commitment to personal autonomy is jettisoned in favor of oppressor-oppressed dominating everything else, are we still dealing with liberalism at that point, or with a new and different beast? A simple will to power, as Kristor says, or ‘Who/Whom’, as Sailer might say. But I suppose that’s the terminus of liberalism, anyway.

        It’s hard to imagine such a thing sustaining itself, but then again, people had the same doubts about liberalism over two hundred years ago, and yet, here we are.

      • Autonomy deconstructs itself. If I am truly free to do as I please, then doing as I please must be free of negative consequences. Thus my autonomy requires that everyone else be constrained to treat me right no matter what I do. This will be called tolerance, but it is a selective tolerance that protects some behaviors and proscribes others. The tiger is free to pounce but the predator is not free to run away.

  3. I’ve stopped bothering with libraries and just buy books these days. My wife has tried to order books for the library and they will say “We won’t buy any book over five years old.” Clearly, they don’t trust any book written before Trump was elected and we found our sanity.

  4. I feel sorry for the non-activist librarians, since the internet and digitized books have obliterated so many of the old reasons to visit the library. There was a time when I went to the university library once a week, if only to read the magazines and journals. Now I scarcely go twice a year. Of course the internet has also obliterated many of the old reasons to listen to lectures by men like you and I. I like to think that I still provide value in the way I present the information, but the information I present is freely available to anyone (assuming they know where to look for it). I was thinking just the other day how I used to ask well-informed men questions, simply because they were the only place I could get the information I sought, but a well-informed man isn’t worth so much when you can google questions on your smart phone.

    • I think BB is right. The most easily searchable, the most organized and centralized, collections will be the first to be purged, because it’s so easy, and employees with time on their hands for this sort of thing are available. Small used book stores will probably be the last places to be cleansed of pre-woke literature.

  5. Confucius, whose name is probably purposely clouded in history, warned of things like this. Once language becomes vague, fouled, misused and then weaponized, only a very well prepared people can resist this. It is no coincidence that the spellmakers have constructed the word ´confusiion´ based on his name. English is a double and sometimes even triple edged sword, with its melting pot of influences from all sides, and total vocabulary being bigger then most languages on the planet, this has some deeply diverse and intereresting historical reasons. The potential for precise discourse is fantastic and that has to be brought to heel. As with all diversity doublespeak it refers to inversions of the original intent, but it is most destructive in language, because now it signals sameness and a destruction of the various ways of expressing oneself within a language of almost limitless options.

    Everything must be turned into binary thinking / you are either for or against. It´s GW Bush rhetoric repackaged and highly destructive.

  6. Re ‘his picture will appear in the history books next to Bull Connor and George Wallace’; just for the record, I liked Wallace, and would have voted for him had I been old enough at the time he ran for POTUS. As for Mr. Connor, I know little about him, but recall reading on the web an article the gist of which was that his villainy was mostly just another Leftist Myth.

    • From what I’ve read, Bull Connor was a normal Southern sheriff who had the misfortune to be swept up as the villain of a myth. I remember my liberal grade-school teachers saying his first name with demoniac relish.

  7. The world seems to be filling with one-sided libraries and highly personalized echo chambers. I only follow people on Twitter who think like me, except they have better thoughts. I only listen to podcasts that confirm my biases and happen to be funny. I can get all my news from CNN or Breitbart. It’s sad our libraries have to preemptively murder our unborn thoughts. I don’t want anyone to protect me from the evils awakened through learning.

    • You are certainly correct that the new technologies permit us to segregate by ideology, and that this makes us more and more ideological. Efforts to reverse the trend only exacerbate it since these efforts require such obvious “thought control.”

  8. Pingback: The Wokesters Wanna Weed Our Libraries | Headline of the Day

  9. It’s very simple. You target the self-described “activist librarians”. Don’t let them advance their agendas with zero impunity.

    • I have no power to target activist librarians, or anyone else for that matter. That’s why I grumble on the internet. Whoever it is that has power to target activist librarians evidently has no desire to target them. Perhaps those who control the library are simply exhibiting the liberal virtue of institutional neutrality and free speech, but they are foolish if they suppose that there is no possibility that “activist librarians” will one day take power and run the library on very different lines.

      • Who the hell uses libraries these days though, really? Are they referring to university libraries? They’re already utterly compromised as it is. Perhaps guerilla campaigns to remove the most egregious literary additions would be a great, mischievous way to start?

      • I think you are right that the library is an increasingly obsolete institution, and so what is happening to libraries is sad but ultimately irrelevant. But activist librarians are but one illustration of the wider tendency to censorship and thought control.

      • No doubt; who needs a tyrannical dictatorship when we have such an effective, decentralized tyranny being gleefully enacted by these zealots?

      • Who the hell uses libraries these days though, really?

        This leads to what SF columnist Herb Caen used to call a sodden thought: is there a substantial intersection between the set of institutions peculiarly vulnerable to SJW infestation and the set of institutions that are lately more and more obsolete, and so matter less and less? Consider the old saw about academic politics: the reason they are so vicious is that they matter so very little in real life.

        My inward reply: Well, wokeism seems to have infected *all* the institutions of society.

        My immediate inward conjecture in response: Perhaps what we are seeing is mass disintermediation of *all* the old social institutions, so that they are prey vulnerable to the predations of the Wokesters (who, in real life, seem generally and absurdly hapless, stupid and inept) precisely because they are weak and dying.

        Which leads to the question: what is replacing them, or just doing without them? Is this like the Fall of Rome, except instead of aqueducts falling apart we have universities and the military falling apart? I.e., a Fall in idea space, but not yet (so much) in material infrastructure?

      • I’d argue infrastructure in post-industrial societies would take longer to manifest than infrastructure in say, ancient Rome. It’s too early to say if this is a terminal decline, but Leftism is just entropy in action. We are definitely seeing an increase in entropy, whatever that will turn out to be a herald of.

      • Kristor, this is an excellent comment filled with good and hearty food for thought. I’m going to have to take my time digesting it and may write more in my space on the topic.

        In response to this bit:

        Perhaps what we are seeing is mass disintermediation of *all* the old social institutions, so that they are prey vulnerable to the predations of the Wokesters (who, in real life, seem generally and absurdly hapless, stupid and inept) precisely because they are weak and dying.

        My immediate thought was to refer you to your own article(s) (if I may presume!) on Preference Cascades. It seems like this is it. You may already know that when forests are being rejuvenated (as after a fire or a blight), evergreens tend to be the first and fastest to grow, before being crowded out by deciduous trees. This seems to be the opposite phenomenon. When institutions are abandoned by neglect or decay, they become crowded with SJW’s (nevergreens?) before groaning and augering in on themselves.

      • I think Nietzsche nailed this one. When Christianity decays, pity is is the last virtue to go. When pity is not balanced against the other Christian virtues, those who pity become slaves to the pitiful. It is a transvaluation of values.

      • In the first phase of a preference cascade, people realize they can no longer rely upon formerly trustworthy institutions – not just the news media, but all the institutions that have echoed the Party Line of the Establishment – to be honest, competent, or reliable. To lose the trust of the people is to lose the Mandate of Heaven. Once a ruling elite has lost that Mandate, it is bound to collapse. People simply stop paying attention. They quit; they home school; they opt out; they turn off the tube; they ignore the networks and read Vox Day or William Briggs. Once people are no longer paying attention to the propaganda of an Establishment that is at odds with GNON, and so with life as it must be lived, it can have no way to convince them, and no way to hear from them either, so as to craft its propaganda in such a way as to appeal to its target audience. The Establishment then wanders farther and farther from reality. Its insanity is more and more obvious. As more and more people see it for what it is – risibly absurd – people stop taking it seriously, or therefore fearing it. Their attitudes vary rather from apathy to contempt.

        “Let’s go, Brandon,” exemplifies how they then begin to express themselves. That chant is all the evidence we could need to be sure that nobody out there is fooled any longer, not for an instant. After contempt comes ridicule. Eventually, the former Establishment is simply ignored. It has at that point nothing at all to do with the real.

        The only question at that point is whether it expires with a whimper or with a bang.

      • That chant is all the evidence we could need to be sure that nobody out there is fooled any longer, not for an instant.

        Man, Kristor, I wish I had your optimism! The racial reckoning of the previous year was particularly depressing to me precisely because of the enormous number of people who were fooled and who swallowed all the Establishment propaganda.

      • Anytime you get tens of thousands of deplorable powerless peons chanting “F*** the monarch,” you can be sure the jig is up. Those who bought the whole racial reckoning narrative are not to be found among that crowd of chanters. And once those gulls who did buy the Establishment propaganda Narrative see thousands and thousands of citizens taking the opposite side, they are – the cowards – going to look twice to be sure that they are still on the safe side, and not on the side of the scapegoats. They’ll switch sides in a heartbeat, just you watch; to them, it’s all signalling, and they think that signalling is *all* that it is. So they blithely signal, in whatever direction they see the wind is blowing. That’s how preference cascades happen: once they seem inevitable, they *are* inevitable.

        Signals do matter. Just not as much as death; or, as willingness to die. Preference cascades begin with those who are willing to die for what they know to be true. There is no more powerful signal than that. Think of Yeltsin on the tank. Would you dare to do as he then did?

        Reversion to the mean helps. Everyone in their hearts just wants things to be normal again, the way they were back when they were teens. Which in today’s terms is a different age: remember how things were in 2010? That’s the new “old fashioned” normal, that everyone longs for. We won’t see it again, but I feel pretty sure that, since everyone wants something more like that than what we now have, something closer to that than what we now have is what we are going to get, sooner or later.

        Anyone who stands in the way of that reversion to the mean, and what is more preaches ever increasing abnormality in respect thereto, is going to seem to more and more people to be just … nuts. As in, weird, sick, out to lunch, stupid, foolish. And no one wants to be that way, or a fortiori to seem that way to his fellows. No one wants to be abnormal, or God forbid to look that way.

        [Except for sigmas. But then, even sigmas don’t *want* to be abnormal; they rather simply don’t care about such things, preferring instead to just do as they please. Sigmas don’t worry about fitting in. Thank God for sigmas.]

        See, here’s the thing about the scapegoat cult that arises again whenever Christianity is weakened: the Establishment can become themselves the scapegoats at a moment’s notice. That’s why in the ancient pagan cults there was a tradition that at such moments of crisis it was the duty of the king to sacrifice himself. Or perhaps his young son or daughter. So as to dispel the general rage against his ilk, you see, and demonstrate his solidarity with his people.

        The nomenklatura know all this, too; that’s why they are now so scared.

        This is why all of a sudden all white Christian men who have not yet abased themselves before the altar of Moloch – perhaps because they have been busy maintaining infrastructure – are, not just deplorable, but indeed abhorrent damnable white supremacists. Those who label us this way do so because *they are suddenly afraid.* They are afraid that they themselves are about to become the scapegoats for all that now ails us.

        Not unreasonably! For, their sort are indeed responsible for all that ails us!

        So I hope, anyway. If it turns out otherwise, then martyrdom is a total win. Bring it on.

        ++++++

        PS: That’s why they fear Christianity. It emboldens us. It’s not possible to terrify a true Christian with merely worldly penalties. That’s an enormous advantage for our side.

        It’s also a good way to sort Christians from “Christians.”

        So, a new insight: to be truly a Christian *just is* to be organically sigma. Thus is it to be maximally powerful – not necessarily in the short term of worldly sociality, but in terms ontologic (and, so, ergo, in all other subsidiary terms, including the social (over the long run to the eschaton)). No wonder the demons hate us. We just … don’t … care about their bullshit.

        Thanks be to God for baptism. On then, all, toward the final consummation. Deus vult!

      • You probably remember how the magazine First Things used to talk about the “public square.” I haven’t read First Things in years, and do not know if it still exists, but they were correct to fight for a place in the public square because the alternative is exile in a cultural ghetto. First Things lost that fight and we are now exiles in that cultural ghetto, but the fight was worth having. Our enemy’s sword is best whetstone.

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