Archives for category: Ideological currents
Photo: Ralf, Flickr, some rights reserved

Is Socialism the cousin of Communism?

. . . as answered on Quora. . . .

Economist Yves Guyot was puzzled by this, too. So he consulted the literature and the politicians who promoted one or the other or both. Here is what he wrote in Socialistic Fallacies (1910), about Marx and Engels’ infamous word choice:

They chose “communism” because the word “socialism” had been too much discredited at the time, but they subsequently resumed it, for the logical conclusion of all socialism is communism. The word “collectivism,” says Paul Lafargue, was only invented in order to spare the susceptibilities of some of the more timorous. It is synonymous with the word “communism.” Every socialistic program, be it the program of St. Mandé, published in 1896 by Mr. Millerand, which lays down that “collectivism is the secretion of the capitalist régime,” or that of the Havre Congress, drawn up by Karl Marx, and carried on the motion of Jules Guesde, concludes with “the political and economic expropriation of the capitalist class and the return to collective ownership of all the means of production.

These are terms of art, and some of the art is subterfuge. The general tenor of all socialistic thought is the replacement of private property and free exchange with public property and a command economy.

What we call it is less important than identifying its dangers.

twv

Confession: An astounding amount of 2020’s and 2021’s public discussion of virology and epidemiology has struck me as novel. Maybe that’s what made the “novel coronavirus” so novel: the discussion surrounding it was itself novel. People who should know what they are talking about — and by this I mean doctors and scientists and science bureaucrats and writers on the science beat — generally yammered on in ways that defied what I had learned in previous years.

Concession: It has been somewhat disorienting. Not being a scientist, the novelties “felt” wrong, but not being a genius, I often had trouble remembering the precise concepts that were being flouted. My limitations were evident from the beginning.

But one has to follow one’s nose and not just kowtow to the CDC or the quasi-Communists who run China. One has to do a little research.

I confess: I have done as little as possible. As soon as the experts began flip-flopping and engaging in outright lies, I did not bother to dig deep. When bullshitters pile it on, one doesn’t need a shovel, one needs a hose. Spray.

I concede: It has been interesting to watch so many smart people — including doctors — just fall into line and suppressing any acknowledgement of the obvious b.s.

Now, politically this has been fascinating, since the actual rolling out of mitigation to the new disease has been excessively political, driven by politics, guided by politics, and leveraged for politics. This is so obvious I have found it hard to take anyone innocently defending mainstream media narratives about the disease seriously. I now routinely roll my eyes at many of my own odd cohort of libertarians. Conservatives have been as disappointing as usual, and “liberals” (none exist in herds any longer) have doubled down on credulity and deception.

My respect for humanity has gone down about nineteen notches.

But, as compensation — and to offset any late-onset pride — my own personal foibles also have become more evident than ever. I have not cared enough about humanity to do the deep research the situation seems to demand. I could apologize, but to whom? Who deserves it?

twv

The odd thing about this m&m meme (post) is that the statement is completely inapposite.

The subject in question is allegedly whether women are overly sexualized “in media.” And we are given a funny m&m ad.

It is a candy being sexualized, not a woman.

Sure, it is a candy being sexualized to look like a woman dressing/acting “sexy” (sexily) — but it is still understood as a candy.

No one denies that some women (or most women some of the time) try to look sexy using the cultural norms we are used to. That is not the claim under consideration, here, though, is it? @fricknook’s m&m post doesn’t prove any point worth making.

Are women overly sexualized “in media”? Or, do women better succeed in media when they sexualize themselves? (Better question, eh?) Ask Ana Kasparian. (See for yourself.)

But candies being sexualized in a feminine as opposed to masculine way is mainly just comic. It proves nothing about “too much.”

twv

Michael Rectenwald

“As any Marxist can tell you, ideology can blind one to the insights that might disrupt one’s political adhesions, often against one’s own best interests,” explains Michael Rectenwald in a recent article for the Mises Wire. “Only it was Marxist ideology itself that blinded me.”

Rectenwald, professor emeritus from New York University, has provided a concise intellectual confession in this piece, and yes, “How a Marxist of Twenty-Five Years Became a Misesian Libertarian” is worth reading.

His own experience is far different from mine. Not having pursued an academic career, my first-hand experience with the academic left has been limited to “the funny papers,” as we used to say about real life and mainstream news reporting. He was intimate with it, and deep, deep, deep . . . into the muck of it.

While I was grew up in a mixed-political, evangelical Christian household, and then set on my quasi-career circling literary libertarianism (with occasional forays into advertising), Michael Rectenwald gave up his lucrative advertising career to become an academic, where his literary interests were . . . perverted, you might say. “An antiliterature agenda had advanced so far in English studies by this time that at one conference, a professor of English at Berkeley decried the fact that other attendees had presented papers about novels. How regressive!”

There is a lot of ‘anti-’ this and that in the leftist Academy.

Rectenwald flirted with (and was rejected by) many varieties of “Marxism,” but, as he explains, “something within [him] incessantly rebelled against the dogmatism.”

I early on latched to liberty, not “social justice,” but something within me resisted the air of certainty that certain labels suggest. A friend called my position “agnarchism.”

Thankfully, after Rectenwald’s notorious brouhaha with woke de-platforming, he read Ludwig von Mises’ Socialism, seeing the logic of Mises’ 

  • attack on Marxist “polylogism” (one logic for ‘the bourgeoisie,’ another for the proletariat!), 
  • defense of consumer sovereignty, and 
  • Mises’ brilliant explication of socialism’s biggest failure, the state’s inability to calculate economic value without prices.

So he finally liberated himself from Marxian shackles.

This is worth confronting, because America is right now getting a double-barrelled exposure to several very dangerous forms of Marxism.

Though Rectenwald’s account would probably interest me even had he not come close to my position in politics, his “Misesian libertarianism” is more than welcome. But note: I wouldn’t say I am a “Misesian libertarian,” exactly, mainly because Herbert Spencer has had a much bigger influence on me — as have Gustave de Molinari and my footman guide to political philosophy, Robert Nozick, whose Anarchy, State and Utopia was the first work of modern phiosophy I ever read. But, nevertheless, Nozick’s “framework for utopia” and Molinari’s non-anarchy quasi-anarchy (panarchy) put me awfully close to Mises’ (dare I say it?) Liberalism!

Which is now libertarianism. More or less.


Note: Lee Waaks and I interviewed Michael Rectenwald last year:

Calling others commies? It’s problematic; sure.

But there may be a rationale.

One way to designate someone as a communist despite their protests could be to define any leftist as a communist if he or she supports the psy-op subversion planks as explained by Yuri Bezmenov.

You may say you are, for example, a mere social democrat. But you also are obsessed with the issues that the Soviets materially and operationally advanced explicitly within their ranks as a means to export to the West to destroy your own country. So, despite any protest on your part, I’ll call you a commie.

Unless “Soviet” is accepted as fascistic and not commie.

But I think we should cede to extremists their own preferred terms, at least sometimes. Bear with me.

For example: I cede to anarchists of the anti-authoritarian violent-revolt variety — those who breed chaos and civil unrest, murder and mayhem and propaganda by the deed — with the term “anarchism,” and do not accept it as a term of peace. So, no matter how fascistic socialism and communism tend to become, I think we should give them their term, but with the pejorative twist: commie.

Commie is better than “communist,” actually, since communism has something to do with communes and communities, while “commie” is explicitly associated with the advance of subversion of liberal order.

I am a liberal, politically, above all else, I guess. And commies hate liberals. And liberals should hate commies.

twv

The thing about Democrats and guns has been obvious since I was a kid. On the left, we commonly find the wish to blame anyone but the criminal. This became a joke in the 70s: ‘Society’s to blame; let’s arrest society.’ Now we have joke disciplines to push this sort of nonsense, like ‘Critical Race Theory.’

This is the result of sympathy, perhaps, sympathy unbounded by reason, but whatever the cause, it is generally a part of the leftist mindset.

THE OUTSIDER MUST BE THE VICTIM TO BE DEFENDED
or
THE OUTSIDER IS THE HERO TO SAVE US

That is the leftist myth. In art, this is often expressed in merely identifying heroic or victimized outsiders and celebrating them. Note that this core leftist notion is not about individuals carrying on civilized standards — or the defense of civilization — when shorn of usual social support by being thrown into the state of nature (this is a very right-wing artistic theme, prevalent in Westerns and SF), it is about how outsiders are created by bad insiders, and ‘therefore’ we mustn’t fight the outside threats but our very own selves, our in-group hierarchy especially.

Now, sometimes it is indeed the case that insiders create their outsider enemies. But once created, one may disagree on what to do. Truth is, most victims are not created by our in-group but by some other group or individual. There are three major types of malefactors that engage in victimization on a regular basis: criminals, mobs, and states. I hold to what I think of as a common-sense truth that

  1. anyone can do good as an individual, or do bad as a criminal;
  2. any group can do fine work either as families, communities, firms, etc., or even move about harmlessly in crowds, but any group can become a dangerous mob all-too easily;
  3. states bound by a rule of law are better than those not so limited, and the less encumbered by customary law, the more states are apt to victimize individuals within and without their designated territories.

A right-wing mindset sees states as absolutely necessary to keep individuals from becoming criminal and crowds from becoming mobs. A left-wing mindset sees states as absolutely necessary to bringing in outsiders and mobs into the in-group, toppling the hierarchy and establishing the rule of ideologically pure leftists. Traditional state concerns are uninteresting to leftists largely because traditional state concerns are right-wing, in-group defense and hierarchy maintenance, which the leftist gesture sees as inherently evil.

So it is no surprise that leftist and centrist technocrats tolerate leftist mobs — that is a source of their power and purpose. And it is no shock to see leftist and centrist technocrats tolerate outrageous criminality, for the criminals were (their story tells them) created by the evil conservative hierarchies and by insider oppression of outsiders.

Which is why these technocrats repeatedly lean to the strategy of “anarcho-tyranny,” where the power of the state is directed away from violent criminals and to actually creating and oppressing peaceful people in the enforcement of regulations (and this is one of several ways in which left-wingers become right-wing: they perform the very acts upon members of the in-group that they say the in-group performs on outsiders).

On the common-sense level, leftists are nuts. But there are cases where their story is true, and their gesture across the social landscape (defend the outsiders against insiders, to revolutionize the in-group) is the right one.

The problem is, people infected by the memeplexes of right-wingedness and left-wingedness cannot judge actual situations on the basis of actual facts and operating trends. They get stuck in their myths and rites and gestures, and can only perform stereotypical acts. They are disempowered from even conceptualizing actual problems.

Now, in times of crisis, increasing numbers of people jump ship, move rapidly from left to right and from right to left. We will see a lot of this in the near future. It is not necessarily a good sign, because it is mainly panic, and because the responsible “middle way” is often the last thing anyone wants. After all, in times of crisis, responsibilitarian policy appears as too difficult — just as, in the period leading up to the crisis, it appeared impossible.

But Biden trying to pretend that today’s criminality is caused by gun manufacturers, for example, is pure stupid evasion — and just the kind of evasion we expect from the left. In this, he is a sign of leftist intransigence and leftist assumptions among even ‘centrist’ Democrats. He cannot yet conceive that the best way to respond to criminals is to fight them and crush them, not make their criminality just marginally more difficult.

Or, in the case of Democrats today, make criminality easier while cracking down on free speech of “hate groups” . . . like white people who do not vote Democrat.

twv

Getting old; need filters.

When you are young, you can take up guilt like a sponge, and expect forgiveness just as easily. Not only your own sins, but the sins of Adam, the Athenians, the Atlantic slave traders, and others — sure, “we are all guilty!”

I know I was susceptible to collective guilt arguments.

But as I aged, anyway, the absurdity of such “guilt trips” became evermore apparent. Indeed, the difficulty is not merely ignoring and ridiculing my responsibility for past crimes and “my” government’s ongoing enormities, but feeling guilty for my own failings can become a tricky thing. 

In a world filled with so much fake guilt, real guilt can even seem like an excess.

Indeed, maybe that effect is one reason so many folks push for their favored implausible guilts: easier to forgive Original Sin or Ancestral Vice or Systemic Racism than one’s own failures and betrayals.

twv

Our culture’s moral center is an antipode

The video, directly below, is the finale to a series of lectures on the history of unbelief from medieval to modern times. It strikes me as quite good — good enough that I just ordered the lecturer’s book on the subject. (I also cued up the audio version in Scribd.)

Alec Ryrie’s novel argument in this lecture is that the modern humanist consensus is not based on any of the major arguments or strains of intellectual atheism, but, instead, on the replacement of Jesus Christ as the center of our civilization’s moral universe WITH HITLER . . . as the Devil. What unifies most parties and certainly most citizens today is actually the Argumentum ad Hitlerium. The humanistic consensus, in Christian, non-Christian, and anti-Christian forms, is derived by inverting Hitlerism Popularly Understood. Hence our obsessive focus on one type of vice — racism, sexism, and other x-isms that intellectually congeal around the in-group/out-group antagonism — to the exclusion of other vices or any coherent set of virtues.

And this allows me to understand why I am so at variance with our general culture.

For I definitely did not derive and hone my normative thought via inverting Adolf Diabolos!

I find this devil-inversion method witless, and today’s cultic focus on this new Devil as sub-intellectual.

The reason for the former is that the method allows people to be manipulated by ideological propagandists and Deep State psy-op masters. The reason for the latter is that Hitler Popularly Understood is a hothouse flower, carefully cutivated and not enough of the real thing.

Hitler is in many ways far worse than his image, because the bulk of his ideas are now so mainstream. The welfare state itself was one of his crowning achievements, and it was an outrage, and quite integral to his designs. Yet many of the nutters who today think they oppose Adolf Diabolos in every possible way actually promote many of his key programs, and their commitment to these programs corrupts their politics generally. Sure, sure; I know, I know: They pick and choose — just as did the American military when it rescued thousands of Nazi scientists and engineers under Operation Paperclip and organized the post-war Deep State as this strange and quite dangerous echo of the Third Reich’s hidden core.

So now we have Boris Johnson and Joe Biden openly planning to regulate speech in a totalitarian fashion, and most people do not see this as the culmination of Hitlerism. I do.

And don’t, for it is also the culmination of the love of leftist socialism.

I am just not into setting up binaries and normative inversions. For I think we Hyperboreans must be mindful of the Law of Nemesis.

Which is in truth the real, animating spirit that is bringing an end to this age of the humanist consensus.

And Ryrie is surely right to prophesy that the current consensus will not last. And yes, I think it is in the process of collapsing right now, in a spectacular way.

twv

Why are QAnon followers suddenly saying that there’s no such thing as Qanon?

. . . as answered on Quora. . . .

Well, few of the promises/prophecies made by the QAnon group panned out. So of course many people who had once expressed hope in Q came to accept the irreality and spurned it.

Now, I follow some Trumpsters on Gab.com, and a few of them are doubling down, repackaging Q-like rumors into a sort of neo-QAnon Q2. Very much like the Millerites did in the 19th century, they are rebooting the cult.

But most folks lived and learned.

One of the things they have learned, though? Never cease mocking your enemy. And the “No Such Thing as Q” meme may very well be a play off of Democrats’ all-too-common Antifa Denial. It is not just the new president who has argued that since there is no centralized control of Antifa, it really isn’t a thing. That is obvious nonsense, of course, so we may assume that some Q-adjacent folks are pulling our leg in a parodistic manner.

Which probably would be the wisest course. QAnon was something. We have heard a few exposés, revelations of “Q’s” alleged real identity, and maybe some day we will know for certain. But mysterious or no, it was a psy-op. It had real effects. Followers of Q may some day learn what really went on, and precisely what agenda was being served.

Maybe they already know. I do not. While I was always interested in Q, and never contemptuously dismissive, my interest was limited and I never immersed myself in the culture. Most of it seemed unbelievably fabulistic, but I possessed few facts to falsify the tales.

I do know this, though: the left has no cause to gloat. QAnon was not the only bad faith player engaged in a psy-op this past half-decade. The left is, generally, as deluded as the right.

I think we should all let up on our enemies long enough to realize that we are all being played. (Some folks are even “playing” themselves!) Maybe we should take comfort in the likelihood that being made to look foolish is a common feature of politics, as is the self-delusion that only others are deluded.

twv

One of the great things about the current pandemic is that it has revealed the astoundingly anti-religious nature of many of our states’ governors — especially Democratic governors, but some Republican politicians, and Democrats in general, as well.

It is rather bracing for a secular person like me to witness the brazenness of their anti-clerical agenda, as shown in their “lockdowns.” I mean, I have always known that the political left has always leaned towards anti-social revolutionary doctrine, and that many seculars (including many of my friends) really, really hate religion in a chthonic manner, full of bile and blood and steaming excretory fluids. But this has never been my bent.

It sure seems the bent of politicians like Cuomo, Pelosi, and Newsom, though.

These pols often pretend to be Christian, but I don’t believe them. I also do not believe the Clintons and the Obamas. By their fruits we shall know them, and if it came out in Wikileaks that Pizzagate were not only true, but also that these folks practiced full-on devil worship, the only shock would be that they believe anything transcendent to their power. For the nature of the lockdown priorities and protocols tip the hand.

Here is Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch showing the angle of the hand gesture, as evident in Governor Cuomo’s lockdown orders:

At the same time, the Governor has chosen to impose no capacity restrictions on certain businesses he considers “essential.” And it turns out the businesses the Governor considers essential include hardware stores, acupuncturists, and liquor stores. Bicycle repair shops, certain signage companies, accountants, lawyers, and insurance agents are all essential too. So, at least according to the Governor, it may be unsafe to go to church, but it is always fine to pick up another bottle of wine, shop for a new bike, or spend the afternoon exploring your distal points and meridians. Who knew public health would so perfectly align with secular convenience? As almost everyone on the Court today recognizes, squaring the Governor’s edicts with our traditional First Amendment rules is no easy task. People may gather inside for extended periods in bus stations and airports, in laundromats and banks, in hardware stores and liquor shops. No apparent reason exists why people may not gather, subject to identical restrictions, in churches or synagogues, especially when religious institutions have made plain that they stand ready, able, and willing to follow all the safety precautions required of “essential” businesses and perhaps more besides. The only explanation for treating religious places differently seems to be a judgment that what happens there just isn’t as “essential” as what happens in secular spaces. Indeed, the Governor is remarkably frank about this: In his judgment laundry and liquor, travel and tools, are all “essential” while traditional religious exercises are not. That is exactly the kind of discrimination the First Amendment forbids.

This signals an important element of today’s leftism that anti-leftists such as myself tend to forget: today’s lefty statists do not hate trade, do not hate business; they understand that they can bully business and leech off big business, at the very least. What they hate is religion, first, and strong families, second — for these inspire loyalty that might resist their statist designs.

twv

N.B. Illustration at top is by James Littleton Gill. This post was written
in late November, but for some reason not published at that time.