Three Quotations and a Link and an UPDATE

Off in a bit to begin the ceremonies – rehearsal, rehearsal dinner today, then wedding and reception tomorrow – demarking the handing off of Younger Daughter to her husband.

UPDATE: Logistics are a bit – interesting for this wedding. The church is a little over an hour away, near where Younger Daughter lives; the hall where the reception will be is about 20 minutes from there. BUT: the team doing the catering is my middle son (bride’s older brother) and his lovely wife of all of 6 months. They both have years of experience in food service, so it’s not as crazy as it seems. Issue: our nice kitchen has been volunteered for all the food prep – an hour and a half away from the hall. The hall also has a nice kitchen. The proprietors of the hall generously allowed us access starting at 3:00 today for a reception that start around noon tomorrow. But (almost) everybody involved is in the wedding itself, so we need to do as much set up between 3:00 and 4:40 (5:00 start of the rehearsal, a 20 minute drive away). Then, morning of, do the final cooking of the hot stuff so that it comes out warm around noon.

Future son-in-law knows a big Catholic family, the patriarch of which also knows my middle son and his wife – two of his daughters worked with them in the kitchens at Thomas Aquinas College. So, as we’re prepping here like mad, son gets a call from the matriarch of the above large family asking: how many of my kids do you want me to send over to help? So three daughters, two of whom have worked with and for my son, will be meeting the posse at the reception hall at 3:00 to help with set up and prep. Pretty darn cool. One friend of a friend also volunteered to get the cooking started morning of the wedding.

So, it’s working out. I rented a house for tonight in the neighborhood of the church, so we all can crash after the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and the finishing touches on the reception hall, and mom can support the bride without a 1:30 (at least – there’s snow on the mountains, skiers will be jamming the road Saturday morning) drive. Again, we are grateful and blessed.

So, quotations – first up: Eddie Burke, because why not?

Where trade and manufactures are wanting to a people, an the spirit of nobility and religion remains, sentiment supplies, and not always ill supplies their place; but if commerce and the arts should be lost in an experiment to try how well a state may stand without these old fundamental principles, what sort of a thing must be a nation of gross, stupid, ferocious, and at the same time, poor and sordid barbarians, destitute of religion, honor, or manly pride, possessing nothing at present, and hoping for nothing hereafter? I wish you may not be going fast, and by the shortest cut, to that horrible and disgustful situation. Already there appears a poverty of conception, a coarseness and vulgarity in all the proceedings of the assembly and of all their instructors. Their liberty is not liberal. Their science is presumptuous ignorance. Their humanity is savage and brutal.

Reflections on the Revolution in France

And

All circumstances taken together, the French revolution is the most astonishing that has hitherto happened in the world. The most wonderful things are brought about in many instances by means the most absurd and ridiculous; in the most ridiculous modes; and apparently, by the most contemptible instruments. Every thing seems out of nature in this strange chaos of levity and ferocity, and of all sorts of crimes jumbled together with all sorts of follies.
In viewing this tragi-comic scene, the most opposite passions necessarily succeed, and sometimes mix with each other in the mind; alternate contempt and indignation; alternate laughter and tears; alternate scorn and horror.

Ditto
Ready, Eddy?

The consistently incisive and depressingly accurate analysis of Clarissa, who grew up under the Soviet Union and teaches at Woke State someplace, commenting on the thought processes of the Supreme Court considered as a bunch of aging Boomers:

Sotomayor has already asked how “a human spewing virus is different from a machine spewing sparks.” As one’s brain ossifies with age, one begins to perceive the world through analogy. Everything gets referred back to one’s past experience. Everything is “just like.” Accepting that anything can be genuinely new means facing that one is outdated, possibly even mortal. And no, not every old person is like that. There are rare but important exceptions. For the most part, though, this is exactly how it works. If you don’t subject your brain to rigorous daily training in processing new information from new sources, you will become that sad old fart who “justlikes” every conversation into the ground.

And her further thoughts. Sigh. I’m so sick of her being right.

Finally, a slightly more amusing quotation:

“Let no one wear a mask, otherwise he will do ill; and if he has one, let him burn it.”

St. Philip Neri

Probably check in again next week. Until then, party hardy.

The Predicament & “Experts”

(Wow – that last Predicament post was all over the place. There’s a real idea in there someplace, at least I imagine there is. Here’s another crack at it.)

When I was 23? 24? I thought I’d like to go to grad school and get a masters in – Liturgy. No, really. The reasoning was as bass ackwards as it sounds: I had already learned a little about the Catholic Mass and traditions through a volunteer job I had after graduation, and wanted to share my (24 year old. Sheesh.) wisdom – but nobody’s going to listen to me! But if I had a *masters* in Liturgy, they’d have to! Right?

And then it dawned on me: that’s all supposed expertise is, in the ‘reality will not be allowed to disprove you’ world of most academics- I get the advanced degree so that I can push my own special brand of nonsense on the world, and they have to listen because I’m an *expert*! In the vastly less popular ‘put-up-or-shut-up’ fields such as engineering or even business, your degree might get you a job, but you run a real risk of losing that job if you fail to perform. Not so with ‘education’ or social work or the odd liberal arts degree. Those are ‘reputational’ fields, success at which consists of getting and maintaining a suitable reputation among others in that field.

Impressive-sounding degrees really help get that reputation going. There’s also a strong feedback loop: once you get that Master’s or PhD or law degree, you become part of the pool of people who set reputations. Since their reputations begin with the sort of official certification they have received – he’s a *doctor*! She’s a *lawyer*! – people in the field are very unlikely to disparage such degrees, at least to ‘laymen’. To take an extreme example: people who get a degree in Gender Studies will not get very far – build a solid reputation in the field – by disparaging Gender Studies degrees. Perhaps lawyers among themselves talk about law as the votech field it is, I don’t know. But just try having an opinion about law around a lawyer, and see how fast (however subtly) they will mount their defense upon the barbican of their degree. Since the whole law degree/bar exam thing was set up as a way to restrict supply (and raise prices/income) by what are effectively lawyer’s guilds, the magic of the law degree must first of all be defended against laymen. John Adams and Abraham Lincoln, who practiced law rather successfully without the benefit of formal academic training in law, are not the model here, regardless of their reputations.

Over time, the highest reputations in reputational fields will necessarily be held by the people who pay the most attention to reputations. Thus, when introduced to such people, we will often find out quickly their degrees, where their PhD was obtained and where they teach, maybe about some publication that enhanced their reputation in the field. Most important, these high-reputation people then become the gatekeepers of – reputation.

Such people then generalize their expertise. Reputation comes to equal brilliance – he teaches at Stanford or Harvard! He must be an expert! A genius, even! Such a one’s intellectual dogs are soon off the leash, so to speak, nosing about in every field that smells promising. Given the feedback loop of reputational fields described above, if I, the sort of glib poser who is the type-specimen here, hold a degree and agree with the experts in my field, I am likewise a genius and an expert! I of course will pay a certain reverence to my betters in my field, as a primitive worships the sun whose light is the source of his reflected glory. But to outsiders, I am a recognized expert! Bow to me!

First order of business for the expert class: keep the non-credentialed posers in line. In business school, I had to take a business ethics class. Can virtue be taught? Who cares, as long as there’s a paying gig to offer required classes in it. The prof was as bad as you might imagine, a procedure obsessed self-righteous prick. He’d explain his grading methodology in elaborate detail, so we’d all know how fair and transparent it was, and then ask us open ended moral questions for which there were no wrong answers unless he didn’t like them.

He didn’t like mine very much.

Seriously, how does one become an *expert* in business ethics? Is there this long noble tradition of business ethicists, experts in how to be virtuous at business, respected if not loved by their enlightened and now equally virtuous students? To ask the question is to laugh. Instead, a vita is constructed wherein degrees and studies and even experience are aligned in such a way as to make the claim of expertise in business ethics palatable – to the ‘experts’ on the hiring committee. Oh, he studied philosophy, and then worked in industry where he was on an ethical review committee? Then got a PhD in something? Good enough! Once you get that first job as a professor of business ethics, that becomes the star of your vita, and the battle is over.

Similarly, there is science, and there is policy. They are not the same thing, any more than the principles of business are morality. The charge of the electron is something scientists – Mikkelsen and his successors – figured out in a series of elegant experiments. Arsenic was isolated by Albertus Magnus, and, centuries earlier, a process to isolate it was described by Jabir ibn Hayyan (I had to look that one up – full disclosure). But knowing everything about the observable properties of electrons or arsenic tells us nothing about whether we should drive an electric car or poison somebody.

The Predicament rears its ugly head: we want to follow somebody, an expert seems like somebody good to follow, but we humans seem incapable of distinguishing what, exactly, an expert is an expert *in*, let alone only following the lead of experts insofar as what they are leading us through is what they are experts in.

We seem – I think, maybe not, the world is insane – to know that an auto mechanic fixes cars, but is not by that fact an expert on where or how you ought to drive the car he just fixed for you. Somehow, we shelve this simple, obvious truth when faced with more decorated and aggressive (and thin-skinned) experts.

Our predicament: most of us all of the time, and all of us some of the time, must rely on somebody else’s opinions. We have been taught to rely on the opinions of experts. We have not been taught to question the nature and limits of expertise. Therefore, most of us all of the time, and all of us some of the time, are made uncomfortable if not angry by the mere thought of pushing back or questioning the limits of expert opinion.

In the expert opinion of the founders of this nation and of centuries of English law, the most crucial, life and death decisions are too important to leave to experts. What else are trials by jury and elections than the manifestation of our long-standing distrust of experts?

Yet, as a people we are lost, terrified, and angered by anyone who questions the approved experts. This needs to stop. An expert worth respecting acknowledges the limits of his own expertise. Does he have special knowledge of proper policy? Really? How did he get it? If not, why is he attempting to dictate policy?

The Predicament

(4;30 a.m., wide awake, so let’s blog!)

What I’m here calling the Predicament is something with a thousand faces, touched on in a million ways; Pournelle’s Iron Law, Gell-Mann Amnesia Affect, herd mentality, group think, mass psychosis, class distinctions, compulsory schooling, ‘news’, ‘political campaigns’, sports fandom, and I’ll think of more.

Call it human nature, if you want. Or, better, canine nature. Even allowing for the irresistible tendency of people to project human motivations onto the behaviors of dogs (itself yet another example of the Predicament), dogs and people have a lot in common. When we say dogs are pack animals, what we mean is that the typical dog just wants to know who’s in charge. Dogs are easy to train, because, once the trainer establishes that he is in charge, the dog becomes eager to do what he wants. A skillful trainer first never lets the dog wonder who is in charge, and second is good at communicating what he wants the dog to do.* A happy dog is one that knows exactly where he stands in the pack hierarchy.

In feral packs, some dog becomes the alpha. Sometimes, there are battles between the alpha and wanna be alphas, but most often, the lead dog can just stare down any pretenders. The important part here: almost all the dogs just want to know who is in charge. They really don’t care which dog leads, they just want a leader. The average dog just wants to follow, and is really unhappy when he doesn’t know who to follow.

Once read a blogger’s story about being drummed out of the army. Turns out he was naturally immune to the intimidation techniques used by drill sergeants to break down the recruits.** When his would yell at and bully him, he just laughed, and couldn’t control himself. They had to get him out of there, fast, before he destroyed the whole process for the other recruits.

So: the Predicament. Whatever we may think, whatever we may pledge ourselves to, even when we are most rebellious – hell, sometimes *especially* when we’re most rebellious – what’s really going on is that we’re just looking to see who is the big dog, who it is that we’re supposed to follow.

(Agent Smith voice:) I had a little revelation, in my old age here: without ever trying, without ever even desiring it, I won almost every alpha male battle I was ever in. Now, while I may look a little like an alpha – 6’2″ tall and, as a young man at least, strapping – I’m about as intimidating as a puppy. BUT – by a combination of cluelessness and not having any f’s to give, I was simply immune to a lot of the gamesmanship and intimidation used to establish pecking orders. So, on sports teams, in social groups, in groups of volunteers, at work, when the subtle little games got played by which people are put in their places, I ignored them (if i were even aware of them) – and so I won. I got voted team captain, head of the crew, head of the department, the guy people looked to for ideas. People would see that I was not backing down and not being intimidated in any way, and assumed I was the alpha – and so I was.

Huh? Me? But the facts stand. I tell this story only to illustrate how desperately and reflexively people want a leader to follow.

So here is our predicament: wanting to belong -which, in practice, means wanting to know who to follow – is a need so dramatically and powerfully prior to any desire for the truth that the truth simply doesn’t enter into it. The truth will be sacrificed; hell, the truth will never be acknowledged. It is so dreadfully uncomfortable, so terrifying, really, to not know who you are following, that 2+2 really does equal 5, as far as you are concerned, for all of us most of the time, and for most of us all of the time.

The drumbeat of lies we’re being subjected to doesn’t even register with most people. They just want to know who is in charge, and find some relief in belonging to the vast herd of followers. The level of trauma needed to disabuse most of us probably exceeds death – many of us would rather die than to fall out with our group. We won’t even notice the inconsistencies, the hypocrisy, the insanity of our beliefs. When Goebbels said he could make a Brown from a Red in a couple weeks – turn a fanatical Communist into a fanatical Brownshirt – he meant that he, a master propogandist, could leave the fundamental fanaticism intact while changing the object of allegiance. He could take advantage of the fanatic’s overwhelming desire to belong to swap out the much less real object of his fanaticism.

And we, ourselves, we habitually skeptical few, will fall for some of it some of the time. We are only human, after all. The price of sanity is eternal vigilance, it seems.

*A little twist worth thinking about: dogs who are best at doing what the humans want get to breed; dogs who defy their humans don’t. Over time, only sports defy their humans.

** Militaries have learned over time that the more human instincts of the recruits need to be broken down and replaced with those that promote obedience and unit cohesion. That’s what basic training is all about. In the Civil War, all sorts of untrained volunteers quickly assembled into regiments and divisions and headed straight off into battle. When the guy next to him got blown apart, that volunteer turned out to be unimpressed by orders from his commanding officers – Ohio farm boys and New England shopkeeper’s sons tended to drop their arms and walk away after a few hours of battle, tops. So – boot camp, to minimize that sort of thing. They minimize it largely through – you guessed it, right? – peer pressure. The deserter is the outcast.

The Visitation of Mars

From That Hideous Strength:

Down in the kitchen MacPhee sharply drew back his chair so that it grated on the tiled floor like a pencil squeaking on a slate. “Man!” he exclaimed, ” it’s a shame for us to be sitting here looking at the fire. If the Director hadn’t got a game leg himself, I’ll bet you he’d have found some other way for us to go to work.”

Camilla’s eyes flashed towards him. “Go on!” she said, ” go on!”

“What do you mean, MacPhee?” said Dimble.

“He means fighting,” said Camilla.

“They’d be too many for us, I’m afraid,” said Arthur Denniston.

“Maybe so!” said MacPhee. “But maybe they’ll be too many for us this way, too. But it would be grand to have one go at them before the end. To tell you the truth, I sometimes feel I don’t greatly care what happens. But I wouldn’t be easy in my grave if I knew they’d won and I’d never had my hands on them.”

“Oh,” said Camilla, ” if one could have a charge in the old style. I don’t mind anything once I’m on a horse.”

“I can’t understand it,” said Dimble. “I’m not like you, MacPhee. I’m not brave. But I was just thinking as you spoke that I don’t feel afraid of being killed and hurt as I used to do. Not to-night.”

“We may be, I suppose,” said Jane.

“As long as we’re all together,” said Mother Dimble. “It might be … no, I don’t mean anything heroic … it might be a nice way to die.” And suddenly all their faces and voices were changed. They were laughing again, but it was a different kind of laughter. Their love for one another became intense. Each, looking on all the rest, thought, “I’m lucky to be here. I could die with these. “But MacPhee was humming to himself:” King William said. Be not dismayed, for the loss of one commander.”

Chapter 15

Be not afraid.

Quotation For Today and Every Day

Oddly busy these days, and getting the house prepped for sale certainly doesn’t help, free time wise, so I’ll leave you all with this.

I’ve posted this story from John Taylor Gatto’s Underground History of American Education before, bit this is needed today more than ever. More actual education takes place in this one scene than in 16 years of standard schooling:

The greatest intellectual event of my life occurred early in third grade before I was yanked out of Xavier and deposited back in Monongahela. From time to time a Jesuit brother from St. Vincent’s College would cross the road to give a class at Xavier. The coming of a Jesuit to Xavier was always considered a big-time event even though there was constant tension between the Ursuline ladies and the Jesuit men. One lesson I received at the visiting brother’s hands2 altered my consciousness forever. By contemporary standards, the class might seem impossibly advanced in concept for third grade, but if you keep in mind the global war that claimed major attention at that moment, then the fact that Brother Michael came to discuss causes of WWI as a prelude to its continuation in WWII is not so far-fetched.3 After a brief lecture on each combatant and its cultural and historical characteristics, an outline of incitements to conflict was chalked on the board.

“Who will volunteer to face the back of the room and tell us the causes of World War One?”

“I will, Brother Michael,” I said. And I did.

“Why did you say what you did?”

“Because that’s what you wrote.”

“Do you accept my explanation as correct?”

“Yes, sir.” I expected a compliment would soon follow, as it did with our regular teacher.

“Then you must be a fool, Mr. Gatto. I lied to you. Those are not the causes at all.” It was like being flattened by a steamroller. I had the sensation of being struck and losing the power of speech. Nothing remotely similar had ever happened to me.

“Listen carefully, Mr. Gatto, and I shall show you the true causes of the war which men of bad character try to hide,” and so saying he rapidly erased the board and in swift fashion another list of reasons appeared. As each was written, a short, clear explanation followed in a scholarly tone of voice.

“Now do you see, Mr. Gatto, why you must be careful when you accept the explanation of another? Don’t these new reasons make much more sense?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And could you now face the back of the room and repeat what you just learned?”

“I could, sir.” And I knew I could because I had a strong memory, but he never gave me that chance.

“Why are you so gullible? Why do you believe my lies? Is it because I wear clothing you associate with men of God? I despair you are so easy to fool. What will happen to you if you let others do your thinking for you?”

You see, like a great magician he had shifted that commonplace school lesson we would have forgotten by the next morning into a formidable challenge to the entire contents of our private minds, raising the important question, Who can we believe? At the age of eight, while public school children were reading stories about talking animals, we had been escorted to the eggshell-thin foundation upon which authoritarian vanity rests and asked to inspect it.

There are many reasons to lie to children, the Jesuit said, and these seem to be good reasons to older men. Some truth you will know by divine intuition, he told us, but for the rest you must learn what tests to apply. Even then be cautious. It is not hard to fool human intelligence.

Then, we’re stuck with a world hell-bent on illustrating an observation by Mark Twain: It is much easier to fool somebody than to convince them they’ve been fooled.

Support & Encouragement: Principle & Tactic

As mentioned earlier, Clarissa made a valid point about engaging Normie: at this point, all you’re doing is feeding the illusion that there is or ever has been open, honest discussion of COVID, lockdowns, masks, vaccines, election fraud, and the constellation of related issues such as ANTIFA and BLM and the various acts of terrorism committed against non-Normies. Normie ain’t interested, and won’t be convinced. If he was willing to set aside panic and fear, pay attention and look at things even remotely objectively, he wouldn’t be spouting this nonsense in the first place. So, it may feel better to us to engage, but it is not helping things at all.

This is no longer a debate. This – 2021 America – is, as Clarissa pointed out, a hostage situation. One side can talk, if they want. The other side can and will destroy the heretics and non-believers, as soon as it can. They have already begun. Sprouting heresy to the faces of their mindless minions is therefore unwise.

Normie, to be clear, is just the guy who has swallowed the stories whole – not an enemy essentially, like a college professor of ‘journalist’, but completely taken in, and committed to staying there. Normie believes what he hears on the news, and is frightened by the prospect of thinking for himself.

Enough of what we can’t do. What can we do? First, maintain basic human dignity. Among other things, this means acknowledging, supporting, and encouraging those who are not buying the lies. I think that the resistance – perfectly good word, we should commandeer it – is basically pretty good at this, since we are much more likely to have families, go to church, and in general hang out with the people around us, than pink-haired nose ring folks, whose entire approach seems to be first: alienate everyone who, by nature, should love you.

Basic decency should be a principle of civilized behavior, but in this current vale of tears, it is also a tactic. I’m going to make supportive interactions – friendliness, I think it was once called – a more conscious practice going forward. It is a great evil that people have been separated, masked, and taught to fear each other, first before all things, as disease vectors. It is easy to get discouraged and tempted to despair, so we need to show friendship and support.

Then, in my circle, are many people who are frustrated, pissed off, and scared. They or people they know have lost or are threatened with the loss of their jobs, are being kept out of restaurants and bars, are seeing mule-headed stupidity among family members and (former) friends. Tell them you understand, we are fighting the good fight, and that giving in is only a short-term salve – we are still the carbon they want to reduce. Fight on!

Invite someone over for dinner. Shake hands. Give a non-Brandon hug where appropriate. Smile. Act like a normal person, with a strong preference toward those others likewise resisting.

And then imagine how and where you will defend yourself, if it comes to that. But, in the meantime, be kind.

Strategy and Tactics?

Let’s round up a couple interesting points. This is all highly speculative on my part, I have little idea what to do. First off, from Clarissa’s blog a couple days ago:

I engage in exactly zero discussions with liberals / leftists / Biden voters / ‘democratic socialists’ / pandemicians / anti-racists or whatever they call themselves. I don’t try to reason with them, I don’t offer evidence, I don’t explain my position. I’m open to discuss shopping, recipes, weather, gossip, etc. But the moment they start on with vaccines, Trump, horse dewormers, insurrections, etc, I change the topic or use the bathroom. There can be no debate with people who hold the power to wipe you out of productive life on a whim. The very act of engaging in a discussion perpetuates the massive lie that there is free and open debate.

Recall that Clarissa grew up under the Soviet Union. Her point: we’re way, way past the point of talking this out. It’s like Mao’s Hundred Flowers campaign: people were encouraged to criticize the regime, on the principle that even the regime could use some constructive criticism. All Mao really wanted was to identify those who needed culling – and culled they were.

It’s not that, by now – heck, by April of 2020 – I had written enough badthink on this blog alone to mark me for culling. I’d assume the majority of the people reading this are in the same boat, have said too much. That train has left the station. It’s that those in the grip of the insanity are not in the least interested in, or even capable of, being convinced. Clarissa continues:

I’m talking right now about normal everyday people who have been duped by propaganda. The actual stormtroopers at NYTimes – these are horrid people working for a horrid organization. Only days ago they knowingly perpetuated the lie about 900,000 pediatric COVID deaths. This is a despicable thing to do but it’s one in 25 even worse thing the paper did on that day.

OK then. Confronting Normie is a non-starter. Got it. What I and mine have been doing: as much as possible, simply don’t comply. It’s that ‘as much as possible’ part that killing me at the moment. It’s not my goal to get other little people in trouble, especially churches. One thing near the top of Our Evil Overlord’s agenda: crush churches out of existence, or, at least, drive them underground. People freely attend churches, hang out and talk with each other, spreading badthink. Can’t have that. So, while I don’t usually wear a mask in church (in direct defiance of the state health authorities) I have one on my person, in case the stoolies are on duty. Oops! Musta slipped off there!

But shopping for food? Well, the sad reality is that all I’m likely to do would be putting some low paid worker bee on the spot to tell me to mask up – how is that different from confronting Normie? Not saying I *like* this, but that I want to get out of this alive, not make grandstanding statements.

That said, I’ve now gone to In-n-Out twice since they stood up to the San Francisco Cat Fanciers. Both times, once near dinner time, but once in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, drive-through lines around the block and walk-in lines out the doors and into the parking lot. Two different outlets. In-n-Out was very popular before all this, but not that popular by half. Is this a positive development? How is this going to help, other than getting people to show up at Tiananmen Square, as it were, the better to mow them down?

Or is it the scariest thing to our betters? To see people not complying? Sadly, I kind of doubt it. First of all, there is no uniform group of people doing ‘this’ – however ‘this’ is defined. We may imagine a conspiracy involving thousands, but that’s unlikely. A conspiracy involving dozens or maybe even hundreds -sure. But the major victory here is sidestepping any need for rational (however evil) cooperation: the Faucis and Fergusons of the world don’t believe their own B.S., but they do believe what’s happening is beneficial to them, and, since they can’t imagine otherwise, beneficial to the world.* And it’s what their betters want.

Years of training in bureaucracy and deceit (but I repeat myself) have created legions of such creatures. These Front Row Kids have learned to get ahead by delivering what the people above them want, and have driven any interest in whether what they want is true or good – that never entered into the equation. They have learned to hold those poor, benighted back row kids in utter contempt, for, to even acknowledge the possibility that those not playing the game might have a point about anything has been rendered unimaginable, far too emotionally risky, an attack on their own fundamental sense of self. We *must* be wrong! They *must* be right!

So the cake chart looks like this:

  • On the bottom are those who will not comply. A thin layer.
  • The next layer up are those who comply under duress. A much thicker layer. (I straddle the these first two groups – I do put on a mask to shop, but won’t get the jab.)
  • Then comes those who comply out of reflexive obedience, who don’t really believe this stuff but find making a fuss about it too inconvenient.
  • Then the great mass of those who have been convinced, because they have been trained to view only authority as convincing.
  • Next, the useful idiots: BLM, Antifa. BLM imagined they were much higher up on the cake, flexed their anti-jab muscles, and promptly got memory-holed. If they prove too unmanageable, people know people who do things. Stuff will happen. But as long as they remained useful, they were darlings.
  • Then the Borderline Personality cases and sociopaths of varying degrees, who live to lord it over people. The voluntary enforcement police. Lots of medical professionals, nursing home staff, and ‘educators’ fall into this class – they fell into their professions because it gives them the power to abuse people. This ‘pandemic’ merely poured gasoline on their open flame.
  • Then the bureaucrats, climbers, suck ups. Truth? What is that? Fauci is legion.
  • Then those who imagine they are in charge. Gates, Zuckerberg. They’d get the pillow in a minute if they proved difficult. But the idea that they run the world is simply too intoxicating, and because they think themselves geniuses, they eagerly embrace it. Arrogance make you stupid, and they are very, very arrogant.
  • Then the tiny group who might, on some level, actually be in charge. They, I imagine, are nameless by design. They names we know are no more in charge than Brandon.

Now, there is not and cannot be any sort of consensus among such a mishmash. Even the top layers are at odds, fearing those above and despising those below, all wanting most of all to keep their positions or, better, to move up. If they do move up, they hate those at their previous level more than any others, if possible. Looking for clear goals and agreement in such an environment is a fools game. But I imagine there’s enough agreement among enough of the small group at the very top of this thing to keep the general direction clear.

Example: the top wants the ‘pandemic’ to continue. The level of bureaucrats, climbers, and suck-ups, including most especially the media, will execute this without question. There’s no memos needed -everybody in this layer knows this is the game, or they have already lost their jobs. Thus any good news is simply hunted down and buried, and any lies that promote the panic become banner headlines. (And, to drive sane people crazy, the ‘corrections’ are put at the bottom of page 23 in small print. They don’t care they’ve lied, they issue corrections as a way of rubbing their lies in our faces.)

And, finally, the Father of Lies is at the top. He will burn everything down, especially all the layers immediately beneath him, once he sees he is losing. And the layers immediately beneath him will enthusiastically comply! To their own destruction. And – here’s the problem – do everything in their power to take as many of us down with them as they can.

Strategy? Get the hell out of here. Away from the insanity, as much as possible. ‘Here’ being far too close to the bluest of blue cities in an insane state. Lay low, and ride it out. Homestead-lite. Dispose of the tech toys. (Except that Linux machine to write on, VPN, and? I guess I’m weak – should just go samizdat?) Provide a fall back for the kids, who aren’t as free to pick up and move – or don’t yet think they are.

Tactics? Working on it. Don’t engage Normie seems worth considering. I’ve long held far, far too optimistic a view on the reasonableness of the average American. This fauxdemic has been cold water to the face. And lay low.

*One of the more maddening bits in all this: Fauci’s claim that he lied about masks for everybody for our own good, saying at first that they weren’t needed and then saying they were mandatory. He establishes a principle: Fauci and his ilk will lie their asses off to us – for our own good. What they imagine to be our own good remains unknown and, on this principle, unknowable, because they would lie about that, too! For our own good! And yet – people defend him and comply. Sad.

Some Quotations

I’ll post something cheery, or at least less dreary, later.

Apropos of nothing, three from Meerloo:

“The Pavlovian strategy in public relations has people conditioned more and more to ask themselves, “What do other people think?” As a result, a common delusion is created: people are incited to think what other people think, and thus public opinion may mushroom out into a mass prejudice.”

“Where thinking is isolated without free exchange with other minds and can no longer expand, delusion may follow. Whenever ideas are compartmentalized, behind and between curtains, the process of continual alert confrontation of facts and reality is hampered. The system freezes, becomes rigid, and dies of delusion.”

“The totalitarians have followed this rule. They know they can condition their political victims most quickly if they are kept in isolation. In the totalitarian technique of thought control, the same isolation applied to the individual is applied also to the groups of people. This is the reason the civilian populations of the totalitarian countries are not permitted to travel freely and are kept away from mental and political contamination. It is the reason, to, for the solitary confinement cell and the prison camp.”

Joost A.M. Meerloo, The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing

(Again, this is a book mentioned by Severian. The books he recommends are good reads in these interesting times.)

Then some Solzhenitsyn

And as for him who lacks the courage to defend even his own soul: Let him not brag of his progressive views, boast of his status as an academician or a recognized artist, a distinguished citizen or general. Let him say to himself plainly: I am cattle, I am a coward, I seek only warmth and to eat my fill.

Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, “Live Not by Lies.”

When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”

What would things been like [in Russia] if during periods of mass arrests people had not simply sat there, paling with terror at every bang on the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but understood they had nothing to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people?

Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956

I keep saying: we’re not quite there yet. But when we are, will I recognize the moment we passed from Clown World into Mao World? Will I ambush people who come for me and mine?

Simply saying ‘no’ to everything – the ‘news’, the Covidiocy, the Karens, the whole stinking lot – is, for now, the first and main thing any sane man must do.

No reason for this meme, just like it. From John C. Wright’s blog.

Cheery Sunday Thoughts

Just kidding. Over on Rotten Chestnuts, Severian references a theory of brain washing/thought control by a Robert Lifton, a psychiatrist of whom I readily admit I’ve never heard. Some of his ideas are familiar, but I did live under the same roof with a cult deprogrammer for a couple years in my youth.

Severian’s take is well worth reading. Here, since I don’t know what I’m talking about, I whittle it down to a few observations on Lifton’s ideas as transmitted via the article linked by Rotten Chestnuts. The following quotations are from the just-linked website. Quotations in italic, my comments in plain text, any highlighting is by me.

1. Milieu Control

Control of communication within the group environment resulting in a significant degree of isolation from the surrounding society. Includes other techniques to restrict members’ contact with outside world and to be able to make critical, rational judgments about information: overwork, busy-ness, multiple lengthy meetings, etc. [First thought: school. We old guys reminisce about the hours of childhood we whiled away unsupervised. Now, kids are never trusted to be alone, and have their every moment filled with school busywork. Age-segregated classrooms = “multiple lengthy meetings” during which individual thought is strictly discouraged. Not to mention, you know, lockdowns & masks.] Lifton: “The most basic feature of the thought reform environment, the psychological current upon which all else depends, is the control of human communication. [If you can lock everybody up, restrict their ability to associate, maybe mask them so as to add a level on anonymity – that would work.] [This includes] not only the individual’s communication with the outside…, but also…his communication with himself... [Questioning the Coof or the elections is badthink. Don’t even go there! ][T]hought reform participants may be in doubt as to who is telling what to whom, but the fact that extensive information about everyone is being conveyed to the authorities is always known… [Let’s have everybody everywhere present papers to do anything outside their own homes. Let’s call out all the deniers and scofflaws.*] Having experienced the impact of what they consider to be an ultimate truth…, they consider it their duty to create an environment containing no more and no less than this ‘truth.’ [The group member] is deprived of the combination of external information and inner reflection which anyone requires to test the realities of his environment and to maintain a measure of identity separate from it…”

Severian points out that this process isn’t just about what we typically think of as cults, but that elites of whatever kind undergo the same processes. This establishing of in-group credos and rules that must be followed to identify who is and isn’t in an elite – the Kool Kids Klub, as I call it – parallels and mutually reinforces the argot and shibboleths used only by the elite. For example, talking about sex differences signals out-group membership. The in-group discusses gendered roles. Some chosen topics can only be discussed using in-group language; other topics simply cannot be discussed at all. See: the automatic preemptive dismissal of any discussion of evidence, either for the Coof or the validity elections.

8. Dispensing of Existence

The group arrogates to itself the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not. [Antifa leaders have casually stated that they will need to kill 125 million of us to bring about their Marxist utopia. Freire mentions in passing in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed (required reading in our education schools) that rights are contingent upon acceptance of his revolutionary vision, a round about way of saying his properly-educated children can kill us if it advances the revolution. Sometimes, the group’s decision of who gets to live is quite literal.] Usually held non-literally, this means that those outside the group are unspiritual, worldly, satanic, “unconscious,” or whatever, and that they must be converted to the ideas of the group or they will be lost. If they refuse to join the group, then they must be rejected by the group members, even if they are family members. In rare cases this concept gives the group the right to terminate the outsider’s life.[Not nearly as rare as one might imagine. These are the operative principles in all the ideological totalitarian regimes known to man.] Lifton: “The totalist environment always draws a sharp line between those whose right to existence can be recognized, and those who possess no such right… [O]ne underlying assumption makes this arrogance mandatory: the conviction that there is just one path to true existence, just one valid mode of being, and that all others are perforce invalid and false… For the individual, the polar emotional conflict is the ultimate existential one of ‘being versus nothingness.’ [The misalignment between reality and their belief system leads the more aware to simply embrace nihilism. The fanatic is fanatical because, without his fanaticism, he is nothing; the more cynical/realistic recognize their beliefs as being self-contradictory morasses; their murderous rage masks despair and meaninglessness.] He is likely to be drawn to a conversion experience, which he sees as the only means of attaining a path of existence for the future… The totalist environment… thus stimulates in everyone a fear of extinction or annihilation… A person can overcome this fear and find… ‘confirmation,’ not in his individual relationships, but only from the fount of all existence, the totalist Organization. Existence comes to depend upon creed (I believe, therefore I am), upon submission (I obey, therefore I am) and beyond these, upon a sense of total merger with the ideological movement. Ultimately of course one compromises and combines the totalist ‘confirmation’ with independent elements of personal identity; but one is ever made aware that, should he stray too far along this ‘erroneous path,’ his right to existence may be withdrawn.”

Interesting to think, as Severian invites us to think, of this process as characteristic of elites as well as cults. Or is elitism just another cult?

Finally, compare this analysis of elitism to Lewis’s ‘inner rings’. Is there a difference?

* Clarissa, who grew up under the Soviet Union, explains how this works. In fact, her post deserves its own post here.

Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker: Book Review

Here, I mention that I started reading Olaf Stapledon’s 1937 classic Star Maker. Just finished it up. Stapledon sets for himself the task of imaginatively describing all of creation, all of the possible universes, from, ultimately, God’s perspective. Star Maker was a very influential book – C.S. Lewis almost certainly is thinking of it in his Preface to That Hideous Strength:

I believe that one of the central ideas of this tale came into my head from conversations I had with a scientific colleague, some time before I met a rather similar suggestion in the works of Mr. Olaf Stapledon. If I am mistaken in this, Mr. Stapledon is so rich in invention that he can well afford to lend, and I admire his invention (though not his philosophy) so much that I should feel no shame to borrow

After the fashion of Dante in his Paradiso, Stapledon strives to achieve an effect of awesomeness and wonder by repeated references to how indescribable, how beyond imagination, are the visions he sees. He describes things as indescribable. This devise increases in frequency and vehemence as the book progresses, following the first-person narrator as he mysteriouly tours the universe through both space and time, until he finally meets the Star Maker. The Star Maker turns out to be a catch-all God with features that, by themselves, would be at home in any number of religious imaginations, although Christian and Gnostic sources seem to dominate. In the end, this Star Maker ends up a hideous monster. C.S. Lewis commented that the book descended to mere devil-worship by the end. I agree.

On the plus side, in the latter 2/3rd of the book. Stapledon reveals a profound imagination much harder to see, I think, in the first third. Not that I’m all that well-read in the speculative fiction classics, but this book contains a number of SciFi trope firsts, for me at least:

  • multiverse
  • intelligent stars
  • group minds
  • sentient plant-things

And probably a few more I’m missing.

Alas, Stapledon’s soaring imagination, which incorporate a multiverse, a demiurge, eon-spanning visions, the accretion of multi-species group minds, sentient plant-things, symbiotic intelligences, conscious stars and nebulae, galactic and cosmos-spanning intelligences, intergalactic telepathy, and a host of further wonders, can’t imagine any other political analysis or Utopia than taught by Marx, or a theology much different than Hegel’s. The most outlandish and dazzlingly imagined races still are trapped in capitalistic decadence on the horns of a dialectical dilemma, as it were. His Star Maker is coming to know himself through his unfolding in history, more or less. Worse, his solutions to all problems are a particularly egregious sort of expertise-itis fantasies – the little people are all looking to their glorious leaders to sort things out, meekly following their lead, up to an including suicide or euthanasia, to which they enthusiastically agree.

We noted that the new world-orders were very diverse. This was, of course, to be expected, since biologically, psychologically, culturally, these worlds were very different. The perfected world-order of an Echinoderm race had of course to be different from that of the symbiotic Ichthyoids and Arachnoids; and this from that of a Nautiloid world, and so on. But we noted also in all these victorious worlds a remarkable identity. For instance, in the loosest possible sense, all were communistic; for in all of them the means of production were communally owned, and no individual could control the labor of others for private profit. Again, in a sense all these world-orders were democratic, since the final sanction of policy was world-opinion. But in many cases there was no democratic machinery, no legal channel for the expression of world-opinion. Instead, a highly specialized bureaucracy, or even a world-dictator, might carry out the business of organizing the world’s activity with legally absolute power, but under constant supervision by popular will expressed through the radio. We were amazed to find that in a truly awakened world even a dictatorship could be in essence democratic. We observed with incredulity situations in which the “absolute” world-government, faced with some exceptionally momentous and doubtful matter of policy, had made urgent appeals for a formal democratic decision, only to receive from all regions the reply, “We cannot advise. You must decide as your professional experience suggests. We will abide by your decision.”

Most of the book is concerned with the various challenges the ever-growing and merging group minds face on their Hegelian journey toward ever more enlightenment and self-realization. The goal is always idealized communism, always toward a group identity, unified group thought, and unified group action. The individual, while maybe not nothing as orthodox Marxism demands, certainly ain’t much. Stapledon repeatedly insists collective group identity is the fulfillment of all individual desires, so much so that the individual cells in the group will happily be murdered, die or even kill themselves if the group thinks it right. Only in the early, unenlightened days do individuals buck against the collective’s wisdom.

It’s tedious. Stapledon’s inventive genius is almost interesting enough to carry the reader through the endless barrage of one-note commie-think. This is not helped by this book being the one example I’ve ever read that goes all in on ‘tell, don’t show.’ Not 1% of the book is ‘show’ – it is just the first person narrator telling us about his adventure, with only one other named character in the entire book. That it works as well as it does is food for thought, from a writing perspective.

In the end, The Star Maker creates a series of universes, with a variety of characteristics, just to see how it works out. His multi-verses are interesting, and copied all over the place:

By the end of the story, our narrator is a part of a multi-galaxy telepathically linked group mind, containing all the accumulated wisdom to all the member races. It is in this state, as the most exalted of group minds, that he meets the Star Maker. The Star Maker creates a series of universes, with a variety of characteristics, just to see how it works out. His multi-verses are interesting, and copied all over the place:

In one inconceivably complex cosmos, whenever a creature was faced with several possible courses of action, it took them all, thereby creating many distinct temporal dimensions and distinct histories of the cosmos. Since in every evolutionary sequence of the cosmos there were very many creatures, and each was constantly faced with many possible courses, and the combinations of all their courses were innumerable, an infinity of distinct universes exfoliated from every moment of every temporal sequence in this cosmos.

After his interview with the Star Maker, the narrator finds himself back on earth, back to be an individual Englishman. He pauses to describe the world of 1937, with the perspective gained through his journeys. In case we missed it, he hammers home again how the Soviet Union and communists in general are the good guys. Here, for example:

Further on, the Spanish night was ablaze with the murder of cities. Away to the left lay Germany, with its forests and factories, its music, its steel helmets. In cathedral squares I seemed to see the young men ranked together in thousands, exalted, possessed, saluting the flood-lit Fuhrer. In Italy too, land of memories and illusions, the mob’s idol spell-bound the young.

Far left-wards again, Russia, an appreciably convex segment of our globe, snow-pale in the darkness, spread out under the stars and cloud tracts. Inevitably I saw the spires of the Kremlin, confronting the Red Square. There Lenin lay, victorious. 

Victorious. Right. Then he describes the battle facing the world:

One antagonist appeared as the will to dare for the sake of the new, the longed for, the reasonable and joyful, world, in which every man and woman may have scope to live fully, and live in service of mankind. The other seemed essentially the myopic fear of the unknown; or was it more sinister? Was it the cunning will for private mastery, which fomented for its own ends the archaic, reason-hating, and vindictive, passion of the tribe.

“…in which every man and woman may have scope to live fully, and live in service of mankind.” Propaganda always sounds so kindly, so drenched in sympathy. The key aspect of the story, the climax, is the narrator learning that God is not bound by human ideas of love, that he is free to torture his creations if he feels like it, all in pursuit of a cosmos that adequately expresses his creative. The narrator finds himself repulsed by the evil the Star Maker does, casually and without feeling, in the name of, well, progress. But he confesses he loves him, including his evil aspects. I’m reminded of John Dewey’s defense of Trotsky, where he asserts that the only moral standard is: does it move the Revolution closer? Need to destroy worlds, murder billions, enslave billions, consign billions more to hell, in the search for a better cosmos? Who are we to judge?

Stapledon’s God is a demon, and Stapledon’s urge to worship him is diabolical.