Archives for category: Random musings

I know that most of my friends are somewhat alarmed at my recent interest in UFOs, are even embarrassed for me. My skepticism in this and related areas of thought had been long-standing.

Confession: What I realized, a few years ago, was that my skepticism was cheap, based mostly on a lack of knowledge — a nescience rather like that demonstrated by all those folks who scoff when they hear about comparative advantage and the case against protectionism: ignorance.

A profound ignorance coupled with a deep anti-intellectualism and lack of curiosity.

My excuse was understandable, because my past skepticism rested, in great part, on a common-sense heuristic in which I outsourced my judgment to experts. I had personally experienced no paranormal events, hallucinations not counting. Unfortunately, those experts in whom I had placed my trust engage in a pattern of evasion which, once you notice it, proves hard to unsee. Worse, the authorities who shored up and encouraged my sort of skepticism were incoherent, inconsistently pushing obvious disinformation one instance, and then acting as if what they had said were the opposite of the truth.

Then, when I took step back and scanned for a meta-view of the subject, its history, and my variety of skepticism in the context of the wider visions, I noticed that my skepticism served a social function.

That social function had nothing to do with a search for truth.

Worse, it became apparent that my sort of skepticism could easily be manipulated to serve a nefarious purpose.

Part of its social function was to shore up a class system based on belief, particularly meta-beliefs, which in turn tied to an agenda that had been pushed for over a hundred years: the establishing of a cognitive elite that would secure advantages for its credentialed members gained at the expense of people who could succeed without benefit of formal education.

I have been reading far and wide on subjects related to UFOs, recently. And Richard Dolan is one of the few ufologists whose stance in the discipline . . . exhibits epistemic discipline!

In this talk, which is sensible and worth considering carefully, he gets down to the central, core issue that may very well be the key to understanding the rationale for keeping secrecy going: what if the truth about the subject would be too unsettling for many to handle?

At 12:34, Dolan speaks of the “many hints” about the “deep, deep nature to this secret” that “would be too hard for the world to know.” Dolan says that someone whom he regarded as reliable told the tale how when President Carter was told the Big Picture Truth, he wept.

Indeed, that image, of James Earl Carter, Jr., crying upon learning a truth about our world, is what I have suspected for some time — and which crystalized for me when I extrapolated from what I was learning about the end of the Ice Age.

Most of the myths of the ancient religions — the in-toto rejection of which began our science and our general secular perspective — were not just human fantasy. They were half truths at the very least. And the half that is true might be as deeply unsettling to materialists as to the devout.

Which could be why Carter wept — if he had indeed learned anything.*

Concession: I do not know what the disturbing truth is.

Has our race been manipulated for eons by some Alien Intelligences, as Erich von Däniken famously pushes? Are we Non-Playing Characters in a vast holographic Simulation? Are time travelers from our distant future seeking to save their kind by learning where things went wrong in ours? Has there been a space-faring crypto-terrestrial civilization here on our planet for millions of years, often working behind the scenes? Or are we now witnessing a “breakaway civilization” that started in the 1850s, or the 1940s — the latter, perhaps, with stolen Tesla-tech?

Surely there is nothing to Sitchen’s Niburu!

Or Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision!

Or that bizarre little book, The Adam and Eve Story!

All that just seems too stefnal.

Yet we live in a stefnal world, as Thomas M. Disch argued in The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of (1998). Disch himself would not be pleased with my recent speculations and doubts-about-doubting, for he regarded the UFO biz as just a bunch of lies. Nevertheless, when he confronted his own truth, whatever that was, he did not merely weep, as Carter is said to have done. Disch killed himself.

There are terrors everywhere.

At my level of knowledge, I cannot dismiss the vast amount of testimony and data about what seems to us as alien phenomena. Neither my youthful bigotries nor my adults ones can really be allowed to dominate.

This notion of a Deep Unsettling Truth is occult in some surprising ways: for its newness seems old-fashioned. In the Epistle to the Ephesians there is a passage that might give a hint about why Jimmy Wept:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

It is worth noting, my anarchist friends, that the original Greek for what has been translated as “the authorities,” in the above, has itself an ominous ring: “The Archons.”

According to “The Hypostasis of the Archons,” a gnostic text, the “reality of the rulers” is a complex affair.

From The Nag Hammadi Library in English (Harper & Row, 1977), James M. Robinson, ed.**

And if any of that bizarre assemblage proves true, I can see why Carter might weep and Disch would blow his brains out — the latter event having taken place eleven years ago today.

twv


* From other sources I had been informed that, unlike Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan, Carter had pointedly not been briefed on the UFO situation.

** The introduction to the translation of this text is worth reading:

I’m thinking of getting in touch with the seven-day week, again, by plotting out my listening as if I were an FM radio station:

  • Fantasia Friday
  • Sonata Saturday
  • Symphony Sunday
  • Madrigal Monday
  • Terpsichorean Tuesday
  • Handel & Haydns & Hummel & Hindemith & Honegger & Harris & Holmboe & Harrison & Hovhaness & Harbison Hump Day
  • Theorbo Thursday

But I couldn’t wait for Thursday:

One big-ass lute.
And here we have a Fantasia with the theorbo, perfect for Fantasia Friday.

Must every generation that kicks a rock on the sidewalk pretend it has just discovered stone?

Alan Shepard was the oldest man to walk on the Moon, at least according to NASA (I love putting in that caveat). He was in his 48th year when he became the fifth Apollo astronaut to trod the lunar surface. 

Charles Duke, the tenth to do so, was in his 37th year — and the youngest — when he became peripatetic so far from home.

Four of these temporary selenites still survive. Eugene Cernan, who was the last astronaut to have walked there, died two years ago.

Buzz Aldrin and Edgar Mitchell, the second and sixth lunar perambulators, along with Apollo 15 command module pilot Al Worden, claim to have seen UFOs while manning their respective Apollo spacecraft, and took (and “passed”) lie detector tests to add weight to their claims. Mercury and Gemini astronaut Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr. — who was scratched from an Apollo mission — claimed, in his autobiography, to have seen UFOs not in space but as a pilot of an aircraft. 

Meanwhile, your spaceflight dreams could be made real, if you have enough money, or (this is a longshot) drive some backroads late at night and wander into a UFO amenable to hitchhikers or especially interested in probing your nether regions. Always wear clean underwear.

Democratic Congresswomen wore white, to celebrate the centenary of the 19th Amendment.

Much is being made about the Democratic women in white, and their bizarre self-celebration of privilege. Well, maybe I am the only one who sees their position as one of privilege. But if you have been elected to Congress, you do not inhabit your rank or wield your power by right, but by privilege.

Further, the much-vaunted “right to vote” is not and cannot be a basic right. Is voting itself a privilege? But you can see why politicians might wish to upgrade the status of the political act, for our votes mean more to them practically than any single person’s vote could mean to that person practically. That is, our votes elect them. But not one of our individual votes elect anyone, have any effect. It is a problem of marginal productivity. Our votes thus mostly have symbolic meaning to us. So politicians have a strong and quite natural interest in managing the symbology.

It is one of the many ways in which politicians’ interests are at odds with ours.

For the rights that have practical importance for our lives, like the rights to free speech, a trial by jury, or to self-medicate (one we wish to obtain legally that we retain informally), trump all others. It is these that matter directly. They are about us, and they secure what liberties we can achieve in our government-run world, separate from political whim. So to witness anyone aggrandizing a mere privilege as a fundamental right is breathtaking. Their agenda is almost (but apparently not quite) obvious to everyone: it allows politicians and political factions (voting blocs) to expand the reach of the State, and undermine our basic rights.

Which is why it is all-important for politicians to upgrade the legality of voting above more fundamental, more basic rights, the better to shore up their privilege.


The scowl B.S. displayed after Trump promised an anti-socialist American future, and … horror … a heritage and future of freedom!

The great moment in President Trump’s State of the Union speech this week regarded his decisively negative statements about socialism. Nancy Pelosi weakly clapped; Bernie Sanders scowled . . . until he composed himself. Alexandria “Occasional Cortex” yammered on after the events in a pointless manner, not addressing the horrors that come from socialism. Not understanding why.

And why? Why does socialism so regularly dissolve into poverty and tyranny?

Because it cannot work as promoted. What is impossible but nevertheless attempted has real effects distinct from fantasy.

F. A. Hayek on a problem not often recognized. Especially by “socialists.”

If you do not understand and cannot reasonably answer Hayek’s argument about the calculation problem, you shouldn’t be pushing for socialism. Frankly, you probably shouldn’t be voting.


All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before.

President Donald Trump, State of the Union address, 2019

I do not see why we should “be proud” of having “more women in the workforce.” Do we think working on the job market is better than managing homes for families, than raising children, than — not contributing to federal income tax revenue?

Female workforce participation is not an outcome to congratulate ourselves about. Or, perhaps, worry about. It is an outcome not any of government’s business. And as a standard set apparently to judge social engineering, it has a huge problem — what if we should not be engaged in piecemeal social engineering? What if that is precisely the wrong thing to do?

It is certinaly no good way to judge politicians’ speeches.

Yet Republicans cheered.

We live in a sick society. Too much government is the problem. It is into everything. Including life choices of men and women.

And it is not just feminism that is to blame, either.


Shills selling poison as panacea look like this when confronted.

Is Socialism easier to sell than Capitalism?

Magic beans are sometimes easier to sell than real beans.

You know to whom.

The droll thing about capitalism vs. socialism in the current context is that the capitalism we have is not the capitalism usually identified. We live in a heavily dirigiste capitalist society, a neo-mercantilist kludge-fest. Yet I have met many socialists who say we suffer under free markets. It is bizarre.

Truth is, laissez faire capitalism is not what we have but what a few of us want. Our markets are heavily regulated, taxed and subsidized — though not equally, sector by sector. And not a few institutions are run upon socialist and quasi-socialist lines, complete with public ownership and political-bureaucratic control. Everyone with a brain in his head recognizes this. Yet we regularly encounter arguments to the effect that “capitalism has failed” this group or that, with a prescription ready at hand: socialism. But this is just one alternative to our mixed economy. The other option, a free society with extensive private property, free markets, limited government and a simple rule of law, is just as logical and promising on the face of it.

Why socialism so often seems the more obvious option is quite fascinating. It has something to do with cognitive biases, the tribal nature of Homo sapiens, etc. The full story and wider perspective are much too vast to relate here. So let me end by returning to the original thought:

Magic beans are remarkably easy to sell to those who don’t know Jack about history or social science.


From my Facebook author page.

Philosophy celebrates three deaths: Socrates, Epicurus, and Seneca. Two are political suicides.

I am not exactly as impressed by such suicides as are others. You know, philosophically. As literature they are great.

I am trying to remember other famous deaths of philosophers. I cannot recall any others of note. Not off the top of my head. There are other startling moments of biography, of course: Abelard’s castration and Nietzsche’s catatonic stupor come immediately to mind. But for the most part philosophers do not impress us with the drama of their lives. Not even the good ones do. 

And then there are the scoundrels, like Rousseau….


A Tweet from someone who thinks “liberals” exist, and are “liberal.”
Gotcha arguments often get you.


Patton Oswalt Gets Attacked By Troll On Twitter, Turns His Life Upside Down After Seeing His Timeline

That was the headline on Bored Panda. Another self-congratulatory progressive celebration of . . . what, exactly? Sneakily winning an argument?

The Bored Panda account is basically a bunch of Tweets.

Trump’s Tweet wasn’t much. But what was Oswalt’s? A stupid bit of mockery.

For some reason, Bored Panda did not regard this as trolling. Only one angry response was so characterized.

Remember, Oswalt was “spreading hate.” But is not so designated.
And everybody celebrated! The ailing “troll” repented! Jubilation!

I confess. Sometimes I am amazed at people’s credulity.

Most people reacted to this as a heartwarming story. But making Oswalt the hero after painting him as a non-troll strikes me as only possible with a truncated psychology.

Surely this is Pharisaic posturing on Patton Oswalt’s part, as his publicly giving alms to demonstrate his virtue and “caring” nature. Whether he actually possesses any virtue or empathy — something his original Tweet disinclines me to believe — does not really matter. The incentive to do this should be obvious to a half wit. But we are so programmed by the Culture of Caring — by prodigals masquerading as liberals pretending to charity trumped up as justice — that even bright people fall for this ploy.

And ploy it is. Has no one read Nietzsche? Can no one see that gift-giving can serve as a form of revenge? Is the Will to Power hidden so carefully behind the walls of ideology and politesse that only philosophers and cynics can see it?

The cream of the jest, though, flows over when you realize that Patton Oswalt used charity as a way to win an argument.

Win. An. Argument.

Sure, the comedian won. But everyone else lost. Everyone — except maybe for the guy who inadvertently (?) bilked a bunch of Pharisaic progressives into paying his medical bills.

Contemplating the mass of humanity, fooled by serpents and comedians.

Some simple jokes are so simple — maybe stupid is the word — that most people “forget” to laugh. But if they are just the right amount of silliness, I remember.

To laugh.

I guess I shouldn’t explain why, though:

The image has its own page on this site, as a memevigilante.com project.

Correct me if I am wrong, but the United States military has not engaged in one constitutional (congressionally declared) war, and won very few of its many undeclared conflicts, since the formation of the CIA and NSA.

Coincidence?


The reason to defend Trump from the bizarre prosecution that the press goes into paroxysms to celebrate is not that he is our guy. He is certainly not my guy.

The reason to defend Trump is that he is not their guy, and if they get away with removing him from office because he is an affront to their values, because he sullies their image of what America should be, then no future challenge to their power will amount to squat.


Government should not do some things that it can successfully manage to accomplish, and to great acclaim, just as individuals should refrain from doing some seemingly praiseworthy things.

This basic and obvious truth is obscured in our times, because of “democracy,” which popularly judges the goodness of state action on the grounds of public support and government policy on whether we can identify a benefitted constituency. This is a political delusion.

If it is not dispelled, tragedies will continue to occur unabated, and the comedy of postmodernity will grow to gallows-heights.


Found “meme.”

The femme fatale ceased being a popular fictional archetype and recognized commonsense reality during my childhood. But the everyday type did not disappear.


Two solutions and a compromise regarding immigration:

1. Let people migrate freely, sure, but bar any non-citizen from collecting tax-sourced aid benefits. This would include charging immigrant parents for their children’s schooling.

2. Make the only form of “foreign aid” be the stipends immigrant workers and entrepreneurs send back home.

COMPROMISE: Let the conservatives and progressives wrangle out how many people should enter the country, but establish a new rule: anyone here legally may work and make legal contracts of any kind that can be fulfilled in the time of their stay.


If you believe that it is not possible to be racist against whites, you are a white supremacist — you believe that whites are supreme and exceptional, and that there is something that makes them so other than a mere happenstance of time and place. 

If you believe that hatred of whites “as a whole” is morally acceptable, or that it is appropriate to castigate individual white people for being white, you are a racist.

These truths are pretty obvious. One almost hates to bring them up.

But it is the essence of postmodernist leftism to elaborate memetic mechanisms to convince us that straightforward reasoning from premises to conclusions does not hold — and is itself racist!

This would be horrific if it were not so funny. To watch intelligent people be sucked into a cult is a grim sort of comedy. 

Yet it is indeed grim enough not to laugh.


There is nothing more disappointing than Man. Feminism is the delusion that this statement only applies to the male of our species — that misandry makes sense but misanthropy does not.


The great ideological challenge of our time appears to be dealing with people who condemn the West using Western standards. 

Now, criticizing Western civilization using standards that are uniquely Western is the genius of the West. 

But criticism is not wholesale condemnation. And this is where that genius, or daimon, becomes demonic in the Left’s usurpation of it: instead of honing Western values and principles in the course of correcting bad practice, the Left seeks a great revolutionary upending of all values, by turning the principle not against the West’s defects but against the West itself. 

Using defects against the West as an excuse to consign the West to oblivion, while not similarly using the usually worse defects of other cultures as excuses to attack theirs as well? Worse than hypocrisy. 

It is a double standard that excuses not only the crimes of other civilizations, but the future crimes of the Left itself. 

It is here that we know that when the Left gets the power it lusts for. Today’s leftists will, if given the opportunity (enough power), commit mass crimes of a horrific nature, just as their forbears did under Lenin, Stalin and Mao — for they have already excused such crimes.


Scientists aren’t just scientists. A scientist is just a person who sometimes does science. The demarcation problem isn’t among people, distinguishing “scientists” from “non-scientists,” but among theories and paradigms and research programs. People are “doing science” when they engage in public testing. They are not when they avoid public tests and refutations and insulate themselves from criticism, etc. Right now, the whole scientific world, but especially the human sciences, has a replicability problem. This is the result of institutional corruption in the journals and academic programs and the granting structure. The politics and journalism surrounding science is especially unreliable right now. Cultic attitudes are everywhere.


[E]thics is not an exact science. It is not a body of ineluctable truths. Its precepts, often paraded out as a series of propositions, or truth statements, are “true” not like a purported factual statement can be true (or false) but “true” as a blade is true. A true blade is a blade that is sharply honed and does its job well. As a tool. And the truths of ethical precepts rest less upon some matters of fact (though one can often rewrite them to appear so — while losing something in the translation) but on matters of usefulness. That is, utility . . . as promoting some human satisfaction or advantage.

random sententia from myself, Quora

People are born cultists — and trained as cultists. Every age has a cult. Or a hundred. 

You can spot a cult not by the object of veneration but by the manner of denigration . . . of non-cultists and to skeptics of cult dogma. 

Cognitive dissonance arises in almost every acolyte for a variety of reasons, mostly to do with the social dynamics of belief formation, propagation, and maintenance. The dominance of social controls (shunning, marginalization, preference falsification, esoteric teaching orthoganal to exoteric teaching, etc) over rational discourse (reason and evidence) is the key to turning an idea into the focal point of a cult. 

Cults are not merely demand-driven, however. There are individuals and groups that homestead cultic patterns and work those patterns to their advantage. Master cult leaders — maximum leaders — aim to supply memes the better to milk the benefits from cultists, gaining prestige and power in the process.

One reason to be reluctant to advocate ideas in a major public way is to avoid the temptation to become one of those memetic parasites.

Any idea, any meme even of high truth-value, can be packaged as a memeplex that survives not by rational scrutiny or a competitive market utility test but, instead, by being so constructed as cultic dogma.

Oddly, I have not encountered, yet, discussions of memetics that go far enough in distinguishing the complexion of memes that would provide tools to unravel memetic traps.

Cultism is a memetic trap.


One way to detect cultic thinking lies in noticing an over-fondness for dualities. Promoting binary options is one of the easiest ways of manipulating people. So when you find someone always resorting to an A/B or A/not-A, they are probably trying to manipulate you — though they might be mostly innocent, having been manipulated or otherwise deceived by a dualism in the past.

Unraveling error in most issues often involves reconceiving an apparent binary or duality as two of multiple points in a spectrum, with the old opposing two concepts as at most at one extreme and at a midpoint. Finding the actual spectrum of possibilities in any given problem is a key to wisdom.

A classic error in economics, for example, is the diamond-water paradox, which rested upon an absurd collapsing of a problem set to a dualism of value-in-use and value-in-exchange. The problem was solved when economists noted that exchange was just one use to which a good could be put, and that value questions always amount to a spectrum of ranked uses of a good in question — and that, in addition, the value of any fungible unit of a good in a stock of such goods depended on the value of the use jeopardized by the choice of a subtracted unit (or, contrariwise, the value of the use secured by the choice of an additional unit).

Whew.

A problem understood as a duality ceased being problematic when recast in a dialectical fashion.


Partisanship can seem rational when ideological. But these days, it is usually just embarrassing. The two major errors of our time, by normal Americans and politicos alike (and folks around the world) is TRUMP HOPE & LOVE and TRUMP FEAR & HATE. Both are examples of TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME.

I would say at least half the American population is deranged. 

Get over your political commitments, folks, but stay true to your standards, if you have any that merit consideration. Accept that the president is unlike any other we have had, and that he does both good and bad things. His rhetorical style got him into office in a particular political climate, and your own values may have led to his election, especially if your values opposed what you think Trump stands for. Almost no one comes out with clean hands in our current political mess, and any stance of self-righteousness is almost certainly undeserved. 

America is going a bit crazy because neither major party can responsibly address the systemic crises of our times. Everyone knows this on a gut level, but almost no one can confront their suspicions.

Why?

Partisanship is a big reason.

Arguably, Trump is in office because partisanship has become pure poison. He doesn’t fit any previous mold because all previous molds have produced deep embarrassments (think the Bushes, the Clintons and Barack Hussein Obama). 

Trump is no Messiah for America — the very idea is ridiculous — but he is in office because one is needed. And one is needed because partisan politics is so dysfunctional. Thor being unavailable, Loki has come in to lead. 

And when Loki leads, expect no low-key response or results.


Friedrich W. Nietzsche


A state? What is that? Well! open now your ears to me, for now I will speak to you about the death of peoples.

State is the name of the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it lies; and this lie slips from its mouth: ‘I, the state, am the people.’

It is a lie! It was creators who created peoples, and hung a faith and a love over them: thus they served life.

Destroyers are they who lay snares for the many, and call it state: they hang a sword and a hundred cravings over them.

Where there are still peoples, the state is not understood, and is hated as the evil eye, and as sin against laws and customs.

This sign I give to you: every people speaks its own language of good and evil, which its neighbor does not understand. It has created its own language of laws and customs.

But the state lies in all the tongues of good and evil; and whatever it says it lies; and whatever it has it has stolen.

Everything in it is false; it bites with stolen teeth, and bites often. It is false down to its bowels.

Confusion of tongues of good and evil; this sign I give you as the sign of the state. This sign points to the will to death! it points to the preachers of death!

All too many are born: for the superfluous the state was created!

See how it entices them to it, the all-too-many! How it swallows and chews and rechews them!

‘On earth there is nothing greater than I: I am the governing hand of God.’ — thus roars the monster. And not only the long-eared and short-sighted fall upon their knees!

Ah! even in your ears, you great souls, it whispers its gloomy lies! Ah! it finds out the rich hearts which willingly squander themselves!

Yes, it finds you too, you conquerors of the old God! You became weary of conflict, and now your weariness serves the new idol!

It would set up heroes and honorable ones around it, the new idol! Gladly it basks in the sunshine of good consciences, — the cold monster!

It will give everything to you, if you worship it, the new idol: thus it buys the lustre of your virtue, and the glance of your proud eyes.

Through you it seeks to seduce the all-too-many! Yes, a hellish artifice has been created here, a death-horse jingling with the trappings of divine honors!

Yes, a dying for many has been created here, which glorifies itself as life: verily, a great service to all preachers of death!

The state, I call it, where all drink poison, the good and the bad: the state, where all lose themselves, the good and the bad: the state, where the slow suicide of all — is called ‘life.’

Behold the superfluous! They steal the works of the creators and the treasures of the wise. Education, they call their theft — and everything becomes sickness and trouble to them!

Behold the superfluous! They are always sick; they vomit their bile and call it a newspaper. They devour each other and cannot even digest themselves.

Behold the superfluous! They acquire wealth and become the poorer for it. They seek power, and the lever of power, much money — these impotent ones!

See them clamber, these nimble apes! They clamber over one another, and thus pull each other into the mud and the abyss.

They all strive for the throne: this is their madness — as if happiness sat on the throne! Often filth sits on the throne. — and often also the throne on filth.

Madmen they all seem to me, and clambering apes, and too eager. Foul smells their idol to me, the cold monster: foul they all smell to me, these idolaters.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

When I was young — perhaps in my fifth or sixth year — my little sister and I met an older brother-and-sister pair, who turned out to live not far from us. From their very first moments they seemed dangerous. Their seemed to wish to corrupt us. And I really do mean that quite literally. Their most extravagant gambit was to extol the eating of “poo.”

It tastes like marshmallows, they said.

I looked upon them as demented perverts, and was thus inoculated, at a young age, from some types of manipulation.

Kids could not be trusted, I came to learn. Some kids were nuts. Or just evil.

“It is just hi jinks,” you might say.

The “just,” there, is misplaced. Sure, “hi jinks” might explain it. But I did not see their gambit then as mere sportive antics, horseplay.

Some people live to get others to engage in autocoprophagy.

twv

A partisan is a person who puts allegiance to a political faction above principle, prudence, and perception. It is a form of tribalism, but translated to the activist realm.

Parties are inevitable in a “democracy,” and so is partisanship. But the ugliness of it proves itself irresistable when folks take it to the extreme of “double standards everywhere,” when they forgive (or, worse yet, do not even notice) the sins of their own faction but go into panic and protest about the flipside sins of the other.

And that is where we are in America, now.

It is a commonplace to comment on how inexplicable, how crazy, current politics is. I am almost dumbfounded by this puzzlement, for this is precisely where America has been heading all my life. It is the result of the wild dialectic of action/reaction/overreaction in the context of being trapped by the internal contradictions (thanks, Proudhon!) of Late Stage Churning State Capitalism, where those who have any leverage on power (members of factions) find themselves stuck, unable to even speak the truth about their situation for fear of losing power.

Clinton+Gore (and the Supremes) gave us GWB; GWB+McCain gave us Obama: Obama+Hillary gave us Trump: each desperation move is an insult to the opposite side, which then ups the ante of idiocy.

The funny part is how neither side sees its own choices as reactions to the insults of the other, and how both sides tend to conform ever-more to negative stereotypes.

H. L. Mencken would have loved this age.


One of my more interesting friends on Facebook thinks he has figured it out:

What created Nazism was nihilism
There is at present no sign of this in America imho, nor do we have the other aggravating factors, but it is a post liberal development.

He is one of those conservatives who thinks that every problem is caused by “liberalism.” But he has an intellectual rather than partisan argument here. My responses to this theory have been negative, for the most part:

Deep-seated grievances turned to defiance of external enemies. A particularist ethic with a strong separation of ethics of amity/ethics of enmity, combined (naturally enough) with a warrior mindset. Yes, a revival of an old martial ethos married to a hatred of weakness and (interpreted and created) tribal antagonisms. A celebration of force. A deep commitment to constructing a utopia through central planning. A rejection of sexual selection by individualistic methods, preferring state breeding where natural attraction fails — part and parcel of the eugenic mindset and racial tribalism. Parallel to that, a rejection of market choice and distributed responsibility, with a harrowing commitment to dirigisme and wealth redistribution (establishing the most egalitarian welfare state so far). A contempt for liberalism and the “old” liberal order. A hatred of freedom and a love of power. A strong sense of hierarchy, with an obsessive reverence for the charismatic leader. A love of the mythic and a deep scorn for unfettered reason. (So, where is the nihilism?)

My argument being that we do not need a theory of “nihilism” to explain the ideological phenomena associated with the rise and murder spree of Nazism. My friend sent me some Leo Strauss essays to enlighten me. I promised to read them, but revealed my prejudice:

. . . my basic take on this subject as it played in 20th century philosophy is that there was altogether too much imputation of nihilism onto people, cultures, trends. It’s a fun word. A fun concept. It is “daring.” But it is often much ado about, literally, nothing.

Later I backpedalled a bit, referring to but not name-dropping Ivan Turgenev’s Yevgeny Bazarov:

Nihilism, according to Jordan Peterson, is an option after one abandons religion. It is worth remembering who invented the term, though, and what use he made of it?

But later yet I tried to expand the subject just to make sense of the main thesis:

Truth is, though, that there are several different forms of nihilism, and people often get confused.

Political nihilism comes in at least two forms: the kind that rejects all authority and seeks to destroy present institutions, and the kind that rejects the necessity for any kind of institutions. The first has some plausibility, at least in its original, Russian context; the latter is ridiculous.

Existential nihilism merely suggests that life has no meaning. I look at this differently: life presents us with a surfeit of meaning. What would that doctrine be called? Overwhelmingism?

Moral nihilism is often described as a disbelief in objective moral facts. So any non-cognitivist would qualify. Some might call me a nihilist in this sense, since I believe the TRUTH of the matter is that morality is a tool/toolkit that is primarily a matter of usefulness, secondarily a matter of “objective reality” — and that matters of value (as morals are built upon) are not matters of existents. Values’ facticity is not the same as other objects of our consciousness and our social constructions.

There are other kinds of nihilism too, but I’ve lost track of them in my forgetful brain.

So which type of nihilism led to Nazism?

Nazism is not any form of political nihilism.

Nazism is not existential nihilism, for its myths and values are clearly and dogmatically asserted.

So are we talking about moral nihilism?

I don’t think so.

Are you talking about anomie?

Probably not. This is a subject that will no doubt continue to be debated on my Facebook page.


re: Facebook “data breach” hysteria

What part of public information is hard to understand? If your phone number and address is in the phone book, those numbers aren’t private. I assume that the information on Facebook that I post publicly, and do not limit to just my “friends,” is freely nabbed by anyone from Apple, Russia, the local dogcatcher candidate, or the NSA.

And the latter I assume nabs EVERYTHING I place online, even “private” stuff in “the Cloud.”

The tizzy over possible Trump campaign benefits from Facebook data is of course sheer nincompoopery: the partisans now in panic mode were falling all over themselves in orgasmic hero-worshio when Obama did it.

I dislike the company and the platform for other reasons. I prefer Minds and Gab, and am coming to enjoy BitChute over YouTube. I joined Steemit but have done nothing there yet. If Minds looked better on my iPad, I would have abandoned Facebook almost completely by now.