Modern Life as Cargo Cult

We are nominalists, so we can’t know where true virtue lies; indeed, as nominalists, we are sure that it does not lie in any real particulars; so that, really, it does not lie anywhere, at all. Still, we find that we are compelled for reasons native in and obscure to us to adhere to some notion of virtue or other, even though we feel sure that there is no such thing as virtue in reality. So, to satisfy that compulsion, we will now and henceforth *signal* virtue, as our forebears did – albeit, without any ugly untoward recollection of the really appurtenant deontological distinctions among men & their acts that our fathers drew between virtue and vice. All our moral evaluations are pretenses. But, to save our appearances, we shall pretend that they are not.

Our pretence prescinds its pretence.

So, and despite all the foregoing – which might lead to an appearance of pretence or uncertainty on our part – we utterly condemn all those who have not volubly vouchsafed their adherence to … the stuff that we these days adhere to.

We shall *act* as though we understand what it is to act badly.

Bad Faith as Endemic – ergo, Fundamental – to Modernity

The basic idea is that moderns cannot as such believe anything honestly and with a whole heart. This follows straightforwardly from their nominalism – which, often, they do not even suspect might be in them operative. So, their beliefs are all tentative, ad hoc, only their own and private, nowise dispositive of any reals external to themselves, certainly not at all authoritative (over anyone else, or even over themselves) and thus *not truly believed.* This is why moderns are so prone to depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.

They don’t believe the Narrative in their hearts. But the Narrative is all they have to go on; and one must perforce go on. They have no confidence in anything else.

Blackface Bad, Dragface Good

The  President of [West] Texas A&M has just manfully stepped up to declare in public that drag shows “degrade women and are ‘derisive, divisive and demoralizing misogyny.’” This has prompted the predictable storm of manufactured gayfake outrage from the Commies, which he must have known would be sure to follow his remarks.

Now, while his courageous act is extraordinarily unusual these days in any figure of prominence, the most remarkable aspect of this turn of events is I think that *it had never before occurred to anyone that, in effect, drag shows treat women the way that the old blackface vaudeville productions treated blacks: with contempt.* This had not even occurred to me, and I wager that I am fairly unusual in my extreme sensitivity to and morose cynical enjoyment of the manifest and absurd contradictions espoused by the Left (whatever the character of its current skin suit).

For white men to make themselves up as black in public performances is bad, horrible, a sin that cannot be forgiven. But for men to make themselves up as women in public performances is totally cool.

So funny.

Goodness, Truth & Beauty are Classist, Racist & Sexist

Woke seppuku reached something of an apotheosis – I shall not say, a maximum – in the recent announcement by a Loyola professor of marketing (marketing, forsooth – that quintessential organ of oppressive capitalism) that clean, tidy, well stocked pantries are “classist, racist and sexist.”

I kid thee not. Pantries. What’s next: butt wiping?

One wonders immediately whether professors of marketing are per se classist, racist and sexist. How not?

Keep working your way down this rabbit hole with me. For “clean, tidy, well stocked pantries,” substitute any other denotation of something that has been from ancient days – or even in the last day or two – thought unremarkably good. To wit:

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Feminism versus the Gedanken Policy Test

Few proposals of social reform fail the Gedanken Policy Test as completely and ignominiously as feminism. Clearly, then, any sane society would repudiate feminism.

Not because it hates women, but because it wants to survive; indeed, because it wants more women (the supply of women is the rate limiting factor of social survival: few women few children few women … so, women are precious; men on the other hand are cheap, ergo relatively expendable (in war, the hunt, dangerous work, and so forth)).

To recapitulate the Test:

Here’s the experimental set up. Take two experimental subjects. They are two nations, or two peoples, that are exactly similar in every way – same population, same genetic inheritance, same natural resources, same climate, same customs and traditions, same system of political economy, same religion, same technical and industrial capacities, same wealth, same everything. Assume no natural disasters or benisons that afflict or benefit either group differently. Both are faced with exactly the same set of environmental factors.

Having taken this step, you have controlled for all the factors of social success and failure, other than the policy you are interested to test. So, now, you are ready to test your proposed policy. Apply it to one group, but not to the other. Which is more likely to prosper: the group that adopts the proposed policy, or the group that does not?

Notice that we are not asking which group will be nicer or more fair or more just. Justice, fairness and niceness are optional only for societies that have managed to prevail and survive in the competition with their neighbours. We are only asking which group will be wealthier, more powerful, larger and more capable; and which group will have greater morale, commitment, ingenuity, all the moral, emotional and intellectual factors of demographic success. So, it’s purely a question of natural selection; like asking which is likely to do better, as between a pig and a pig with opposable thumbs.

The nifty thing about the Gedanken Policy Test is that it excises from our consideration all questions about how society should be ordered according to some scheme or other, or according to what we think society ought to be. Ideology ain’t in it; nor are any of our preferences or biases. So, the Test can be conducted without rancor, and with no grinding of axes. About its findings, there is no reason to feel either upset or angry, on the one hand, or triumphantly vindicated, on the other: they are what they are.

OK then: how does latter day feminism fare under the Test?

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Today is Weimar; Today is the Reign of Elagabalus; This is Belshazzar’s Feast

I remember back in the 70’s reading about Weimar and Elagabalus and Nero, and thinking, “How could anyone have been so nuts as to believe any of that obviously perverse and stupid stuff, let alone act on it?” Yet we seem to fall into such fantasies pretty regularly, especially in times of general prosperity and calm. Any number of other such wild and absurd episodes could be adduced: the French and Soviet Revolutions, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, ancient Persian Mazdakism, the Marquis de Sade and his circle (he must have had a pretty extensive circle, who bought his stuff, or we could never have heard of him, no?), Bloomsbury, the Frankfurt School, transhumanism, on and on.

Also, less violently but more radically and pervasively, Freemasonry and the occult – theosophy, New Age, and so forth.

I.e., Gnostic Pelagian utopianism, in all its instantiations.

And, now, right now, today, abortion, porneia, divorce, wokeism, globohomo, transsexuality, and – especially, and at their root, and at their most energetic and fulsome – anti-Christianity; which is to say, when abstract doctrinal push comes down at bottom to pragmatic bloody shove, infanticide and the genital mutilation of children.

That’s where it always ends, no? These Gnostic transvaluations of value always terminate upon the mutilation and death, or just the prevention, of children; i.e., of humanity.

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The King is a Traditionalist

And he has apparently been reading deeply in the traditionalist canon for many years. The address below was recorded in 2016.

His advocacy of traditional architecture is of course quite well known. And, of course, impudently scorned by the apostles of architectural modernism.

It will be interesting to see how hard the glitterati work to ridicule him. Now that he’s King, it is likely to start in earnest. They’ve been after him for decades already, of course, as a dolt, and a poltroon, a weakling and a fool. My earliest impression, from my boyhood, was their avowed conviction that Charles is a dunce. But that sort of ad hominem attack is of course in complete concord with their determination to destroy every institution of the West whatsoever. It is formally analogous to their toppling of the statues of our cultural heroes. In his very body, Charles is an exponent of the Traditional Order: that suffices to his immolation on the altar of the Modern.

It has nothing necessarily to do with Charles himself.

This is evident from his address which I here post. Charles is in it revealed as a thoughtful, careful man, who grapples with history from the deepest, widest, highest perspective.

It is the sort of perspective we should all want from a king. It is the sort of perspective to which kings are purposed, and called; it is the perspective proper to their offices.

On the Peculiar Difficulty of the Ascension

Herewith, a guest post from commenter PBW:


I had a lot of trouble with the Ascension. Every time I recite the Rosary, to take the most frequent example, I start with a declaration of belief: The Apostles’ Creed.

In saying the Creed, I assert a series of beliefs that are jarring to modern sensibilities, but not, for the most part, to me. I believe in God, and in his only begotten Son. I believe in his conception, by divine intervention, in the womb of the Virgin. I believe that, his body in the tomb, Christ descended into Hell. There is much here to ponder, but it is all comfortably within the assent of faith.

“[T]he third day he rose again from the dead …” This is the fulcrum of the Faith. Whilst the work of our redemption was done in the Passion, the sign of our redemption is the Resurrection. It is the incontrovertible revelation of the nature of Jesus Christ. “My Lord and my God.” I believe, unreservedly.

What is it then, in the midst of all these wonders, that makes for awkwardness about the Ascension? For one thing, it is the staginess of it. It is the levitating Jesus, who “was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9.) It is the convenient cloud; it is the trapdoor into Heaven.

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Romantic Christianity versus Christianity Proper

To my recent post about Finding the True Way to Life, Bruce Charlton commented:

@Kristor – I find your post and comments both surprising and confusing! Your post concedes pretty much all the ground to Romantic Christianity; so that you seem to be advocating the same attitude to churches.

Your comment of July 25, 2022 at 4:49 AM suggests that any particular actual or manifest church (including the RCC) is ultimately ‘merely’ (secondarily) helpful or harmful – but never should be regarded as primary or decisive – precisely the Romantic Christian attitude.

And that the individual person’s intuitive knowledge of the mystical/spiritual/immaterial ‘church’ is all that *really* matters at the bottom line (albeit, I cannot distinguish this concept of ‘church’ from knowledge of deity – of God the Father/Jesus Christ/the Holy Ghost).

Most remarkably, you apparently regard the actual, worldly functioning of the Roman Catholic Church to be a matter of ultimate indifference to you! I.e., whether or not the RCC locks its churches; if it ceases to offer the mass, marriage, funerals; and if most of its bishops and priests focus their teachings on defending and endorsing … whatever policies the global totalitarian Establishment are currently pushing – you say:

I am not too troubled by all of this outward and merely formal ecclesial subjection to the tyrannical civil authority.

I suppose the crux is that you regard this as ‘merely’ formal submission. Yet when formal *and informal* RCC discourse overwhelmingly endorses – and indeed instructs – not just submission, but enthusiastic and active participation, over many years and increasingly … Well, I believe you are in error.

Altogether, I don’t [see] you are putting forward a coherent argument here – which may simply mean that you are in a transitional phase.

Indeed I hope so; because I find your casual, dismissive attitude to the RCC enthusiastic-self-shut-down of 2020 (etc.) to be abhorrent!

Like Archbishop Viganò; I regard 2020 as probably the worst disaster in the history of Christianity, an existential catastrophe, the significance of which can hardly be exaggerated.

These are all important points, and it is important that I respond to them cogently, and forthrightly. The first thing that I would say in response is that this latest travesty of the craven responses of the various church hierarchs to the mandates of the civil authorities in respect to the supposed crisis of covid is not our first rodeo of that sort. Things were much, much worse with the Church during the Black Death, a real pandemic:

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On the Reason & Purpose & Intent of the Orthosphere

It is obvious that we can’t go back. We must go forward. The project of the Orthosphere is to limn a cult, a culture, and a society that can work properly for humans after modernism – including the modernist “Church” – has crashed, by dint of exploration of the traditional societies that worked.

Creating a new Christianity that is not the old time religion can’t work. That has already been tried. We are now living in the midst of the results of that experiment. So, one thing we can be pretty sure of is that a properly flourishing Western civilization will have to be founded upon and ordered by – and, in the last analysis, governed by – traditional, orthodox Christianity. Thus one of the main subsidiary projects of the Orthosphere is the explanation of and apology for orthodox Christian doctrine. To the extent that moderns find Christianity incredible or repugnant, it is usually because they misunderstand Christianity. One of our jobs is to do what we can to dispel their confusion.

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