Conflation of Ends Ruins Everything

Vox Day has often insisted that to the extent an organization’s attention is diverted away from its primary purpose toward goals of social justice, it is prevented from serving that original purpose.

The same dynamic is at work in us. Multi-tasking is inefficient, because it is confusing. It prevents good performance on any one thing. Focus on one thing at a time, and do it well. You will work faster and more efficiently, and your output will be better.

The same dynamic is at work even in our instruments. E.g., low flow showerheads don’t work as showerheads; low flow toilets don’t flush very well. Mandating low flow plumbing is a way to ration water use that doesn’t work, because it ruins the plumbing qua plumbing, so that people must use it more than they would if it worked properly to accomplish the proper ends of plumbing.

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You Can’t Heal Yourself

If you could heal yourself, you’d already have done it.

You need help.

A teacher or therapist, a spiritual director or guru or sensei, a confessor or coach may certainly help. But at most such men can lead the horse to water, and nothing more. In the end, to be healed, you need to go ahead and drink the Living Water. This is the acceptance of supernatural help.

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What the Well-Dressed Wolf is Wearing Nowadays

Vox Day draws our attention to a pair of wolves in sheep’s clothing, by which I mean humanitarian goops who pretend to be Catholic defenders of the faith (here). The first wolf is one Christopher Hale, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. We are not told with whom Mr. Hale’s Catholics are allied, but one suspects their allies include the long-suffering and maligned denizens of Hell. The second wolf is one Michael Sean Winters, a fellow at Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies. This Institute studies Catholics in the same spirit that the National Cancer Institute studies Cancer. Continue reading

Woe is We (Man Up!)

Owing to a voluntary teaching overload, I have been too preoccupied to write for the Orthosphere of late.  My son yesterday observed that this might be causing some of you to worry that I had been gagged by masked ambassadors of the Black Block, and perhaps reduced to tapping out a cry for deliverance on a water pipe in a cell in the basement of Margaret Sanger Hall.  Fear not.  As a meager offering, I here post a letter I’ve just sent to the President of my professional association, in which I object to the unseemly hysteria that seems to have gripped the organization since the November election.  I don’t expect you to be interested in the arcane squabbles of geographers, but believe it touches on some points that may be of general interest.  If not, just treat it as a ping on the water pipe assuring you that I am still here. Continue reading

Moral Truths Are Necessary & Eternal

Is stealing objectively wrong?

Capital investment – saving up to make life better somehow – is not possible except where property is secure. Nor is social trust; so nor therefore is cooperation. Stealing decoheres society.

Similar considerations pertain to lying, murder, adultery: they are all the death of society as such. These are mathematically demonstrable truths of game theory.

Then morality is a department of mathematical logic. And the truths of math, logic and metaphysics are necessarily true; which is to say, that they are eternally true, and could not be otherwise.

Whatever is must be conditioned by these truths. There is no way to evade them; this is what is meant by, “God is not mocked.”

So they condition all possible worlds; so they condition our world; so they condition us.

A Sacred War

The Alexandrov Song and Dance Ensemble originated under the Stalin regime in Russia , but it transcended that regime.  The Ensemble sang soldier-songs, folk-songs,  and popular Russian songs.  About two-thirds of the Alexandrov Ensemble died last year in an airplane-accident over the Black Sea.  I might say that it was a suspicious accident, with suspicion lying in the direction of the Turks or Chechen terrorists.  The Sacred War (actually, Voyna Narodnaya or People’s War) is a WWII song. But are we not in a Sacred War?  To FunkyProfessor: The rod in narodnaya is the same as the rod in Rodino.   Long live the Rodino!

I was present at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in the late 1980s when the Ensemble sang this song by one of the foremost Russian composers —

Here is the last concert of the Alexandrov ensemble —

Hacked by Russia: A True Confession

It is not from any desire to shock my fellow Orthosphereans, but merely in order to explain how, beginning as a bland and generically liberal person, I came finally to be associated with an ultra-right-wing website obviously controlled by the spuriously defunct KGB, that I make the following confession of my long history of seditious crimes and treacherous misdemeanors. The evidence against me is overwhelming.  Below is Exhibit No. 1.

tfb-with-yessen-zhasoursky-december-1986

Left: Yessen Zhazoursky, Dean of the School of Journalism, Moscow University; Right: Yours Truly (TFB),  Doctoral Candidate in Comparative Literature, UCLA.  (Fall 1986)

The location was a beach house on Old Malibu Road, with convenient access to the Pacific Ocean hence also to surreptitious traffic to and from casually surfacing Soviet submarines in Santa Monica Bay.  (See the recent Coen Brothers film Hail Caesar!) I call attention to a damning detail of the photograph.  Obviously the Dean and I are exchanging vital, secret information in the medium of coded inscriptions in a notebook that can be concealed in a jacket pocket.  The red stripes of my shirt might also be significant.  By the way, the affair had been organized by Pepperdine University, long known as a communist front.  Below, again, is Exhibit No. 2.

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The Impropriety of Formalist Reduction

It is a trope around here that reducing concrete phenomena to their material causes – or to their material and efficient causes – is grossly inadequate. It is false that zebras are nothing but atoms in motion; we can’t assemble a complete specification of a zebra only from a schedule of the motions of his atoms. To think that we might is the error of materialism.  

But it is worth remembering that it is just as inadequate to reduce concrete phenomena to their formal causes. Things are more than their formal specifications. The most common error of this sort these days is the description of America as a proposition nation – a congeries of ideas, rather than of people. Such are the errors of Gnosticism.  

Any adequate account of a concrete must together comprehend all four sorts of causes: material, efficient, formal and final. 

Faith is honesty in doubt

Liberalism claims to rest on reason alone and not on any disputable metaphysical or historical claim.  It poses as a neutral arbiter between rival comprehensive ethical systems.  Because it is not one of them, it can claim rightful authority over all of them–and without even being required to argue the truth of its beliefs against that of its rivals.  It has no disputable beliefs.  It has no rivals.  To maintain this pretense, it is insufficient to claim that the reasoning of nonliberals is flawed or based on dubious premises; liberals must claim that nonliberals have no reasons at all, that what appear to be reasons are in fact expressions of subrational animus.  Hence the hierophants of the Supreme Court could find same-sex marriage in the Constitution because they could assert it as certain that rivals to liberalism (e.g. proponents of normative gender roles) act only out of ignorance, hatred, or insanity.  The Court does not inject itself into a debate.  Debates require two reasoning sides, and the liberal knows a priori that he has a monopoly on reason.

Maintaining this illusion requires an ever-more-thorough ignorance of the past and of other civilizations.  Thus, the list of “offensive” books from which students must be shielded rapidly grows.  It would be wrong to see in this a character flaw inherent in liberals.  Liberals are no more innately lacking in curiosity and open-mindedness than anyone else.  It is liberalism itself that demands such an attitude of militant stupidity.

With this contrast in mind, one can appreciate the importance of the Christian taking his beliefs on faith.  To claim that something is a matter of faith is to acknowledge that doubt is reasonable.  Of course, Christians are told to be ready to give reasons for their faith.  There are arguments in favor of Christianity, and naturally the Christian thinks them superior to their contraries, but these reasons do not add up to a proof.  Christians have reasons, but they don’t claim a monopoly on reasons.  Rival faiths have reasons too.  Christianity is reasonable, but it is not certain.  Faith is a personal matter in a sense that the acknowledgement of a proof is not.  One must decide which reasons, which insights, seem more cogent, and in this decision one’s personality cannot entirely recede into the background.

In fact, everyone is forced to proceed on faith.  Mathematical certainty is not to be had in this life outside of mathematics.  The difference is that the Christian is forced to be conscious of his act of faith.  His faith is a gift.  If certainty could be had, there would be no need for a supernatural gift of faith.  It is not religion but liberalism that manifests a discomfort with doubt, discomfort to the extent that the liberal must shield himself from acknowledging the questionability of his beliefs.

How could there have been an “Age of Faith”?  What could have kept men so honest with themselves for so long?  We moderns find our doubts so difficult to bear.  Why didn’t medieval Europeans do what we have done and declare their religion not a faith but a certainty?  In fact, I suspect that this discomfort with doubt (for which scientism claims to be the cure although it is actually a symptom) is actually not a universal human trait.  Generally speaking, humans aren’t troubled by the thought that their beliefs, even foundational ones, might be wrong.  So long as beliefs are socially promoted, the possibility of error feels academic.  What we face today in an age of hegemonic liberalism is the difficulty of people struggling to privately maintain belief in a religion or other comprehensive ethical system which receives no public sanction, to maintain belief when the price of participation in the public sphere is acting as if that belief were not true.  This is liberalism’s ideal, but it doesn’t work.  A person can believe in the face of uncertainty.  He cannot long believe a truth which he cannot treat as public, as actionable.  Thus we struggle to hold faith in a way our ancestors didn’t, until one by one we come to find our private beliefs so unreal that we give them up.

Ultimately, liberalism has room only for itself.

Scaping Goats is Lots More Fun than Repentance

The more you can attribute blame for some bad thing to others, the less blame you need to shoulder yourself, and the less guilt you then need to suffer. And as guilt lessens, so does the costliness of the personal sacrifice adequate to its expiation.

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