I swear I could devote an entire spin-off blog devoted to analyzing how leftists write. I mean, some days I catch myself trolling the most intolerable left-wing sites just looking for stuff to scrutinize. This is entirely different than the weird leftist proclivity for getting themselves offended; it's a deep and abiding intellectual fascination with the language used by leftist minds.
I've always had the sense that there was a vast and unbridgeable chasm between the left and right, probably going back to the days when I first read Fred Kerlinger's Liberalism and Conservatism in college. There's much to hate about that book, including Kerlinger's questionable statistical methods and reductive treatment of conservatism as merely modern Burkean pseudo-libertarianism, but his criterial referents theory (according to which political attitudes can be measured according to the criteriality attached to certain ideological referents, e.g., "gun control," "abortion," "divorce," etc. -- which was a relatively novel idea at the time) was nevertheless an interesting one because it exposed the inadequacy of the traditional polar conception of politics. Instead, he found that liberals and conservatives didn't just stake out opposite positions on the same referents: they were fundamentally different in terms of the referents they valued. The liberalism and conservatism subscales of his social attitudes scale correlated at a mere -.30 or so, meaning that variance in liberalism subscores could explain, at best, around 9% of the variance in conservatism subscores. That's not nothing, but it's certainly not a lot, and considerably less than the 100% suggested by the typical formulation according to which L = -C.
Ever since then, the realization dawned on me that the left-right split isn't merely just a difference in values (autonomy/equality for the left, tradition/authortiy/duty for the right). The world looks fundamentally different to leftists than it does to rightists. I can't conceive how they see it -- any more than I can, say, conceive of how a person with synesthesia experiences the world -- but I know the difference is there, and I feel like the way that leftists write offers some glimpse into their worldview.
It seems to me that liberalism is characterized in part by (and may well spring largely from) what I like to call spiritual autism. Autism spectrum disorders tend to be characterized by a few neurodevelopmental deficiencies, particularly in the areas of communication, social interaction, and sometimes impulse control. The ordinary liberal's spiritual deficiencies mirror these.
First, I've documented before the extent to which the rise of liberalism in the West has coincided with the corruption of language. Leftists just don't grasp the language with which spiritual matters might be discussed. Consider, for instance, the pathetic delusion that Christian love is nothing more than drippy affection and brainless tolerance, rather than an act of will. In this vein, I've noticed a tendency among liberals to write in a manner that is painfully literal, bereft of even the slightest concession to metaphorical ornamentation. I used to think that when liberals describe, for instance, God as a genocidal tyrant-in-the-sky, they were merely being superficial, blasphemous assholes. Now, though, I think they describe Him that way because they genuinely think religious people see Him that way -- because they cannot grasp that it is proper for God to ordain the deaths of men (even the deaths of whole races of men, such as the child-sacrificing, demon-worshipping Canaanites) and proper for man to obey the will of God, Who creates and sustains him.
I think this communicative deficiency produces profound frustration in those liberals who make an effort to engage religion (and the vast majority don't). This is why liberals and atheists alway seem so damn angry, not to mention deliberately impious. Since liberals cannot grasp religion on its own terms, those who can't reduce it to mere universalized liberalism (God as tolerance) reduce it instead to a collection of superstitions which people need to be shocked out of by means of grossly socially inappropriate displays of desecration. Impiety and sacrilege are to the liberal as aggressiveness and destructive tantrums are to the autist: both spring from an inability to mentally acquire and adhere to proper spiritual or social roles.
If this is true, liberals are in quite a sorry state. The world to them must seem irrational and intimidating; it can hardly seem otherwise. They ought to remain in our prayers, even as we continue to fight them and the false and evil creed their deficiencies lead them to defend.
Not content to have merely ruined the institution of the family, the left has seen fit to destroy even the word, by associating it with their greedy, atheistic utilitarianism:
Don’t think of it as the federal government but as your “federal family.”
In a Category 4 torrent of official communications during the approach and aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has repeatedly used the phrase “federal family” when describing the Obama administration’s response to the storm.
The Obama administration didn’t invent the phrase but has taken it to new heights.
“Under the direction of President Obama and Secretary Janet Napolitano, the entire federal family is leaning forward to support our state, tribal and territorial partners along the East Coast,” a FEMA news release declared Friday as Irene churned toward landfall.
The G-word — “government” — has been nearly banished, with FEMA instead referring to federal, state and local “partners” as well as “offices” and “personnel.”
“'Government’ is such a dirty word right now,” says Florida State University communication professor Davis Houck. “Part of what the federal government does and any elected official does is change the terms of the language game into terms that are favorable to them.”
“Family” can evoke favorable thoughts of motherhood and security. But it can also conjure images of Big Brother and organized crime.
Bastards. Ruining our words and stuff.
I don't know why, but the way leftists write fascinates me. I've explored left-wing lexicography before, and I recall penning one post I can't seem to find now (perhaps I never actually published it) pondering if there's some kind of book that people are given upon their induction into the leftist... illuminati or whatever.
I don't mean merely the themes they tend to talk about, but the actual styles in which they write. There is just such a style, and it's qualitatively different from the way right-wingers write. I think it says a lot about the idea that attitudes are formed by personality traits, or rather that certain personality traits predispose people to be attracted to particular sets of attitudes. Accordingly, I was hardly surprised about Charles Johnson's remorseless shift to the left the last few years; he'd always written like a leftist, with the characteristic snark and sarcasm, the pained efforts to sound clever, the insufferable moral supremacy -- he was really just going home.
So I was naturally interested in the wrathful outpouring over at Jezebel in response to Roosh's creating a new meme blasting the vapidity and general nastiness (body, mind, and soul) of American women -- a meme that the ladies at Jezebel have, perhaps unwittingly, only reinforced. Emotionality strips people of their intellectual pretensions, I think; it boils them down to who they really are, how they really think. Their rage speaks to me.
First, their woeful misreading of the average IMF reader is pretty noteworthy. Ms. Ryan evidently thinks they're a crew of sexually frustrated self-styled "nice guys" who, in their bitterness, resort to rationalizations about the undesirability of American women. I'm sure that's true of at least some IMF readers, but they hardly seem to be a majority. Many, certainly, were "nice guys" once, a long time ago. Life experience changed that, as it often does -- not only the life experience of being rejected romantically for being a nerdy suck-up but also the experience of sexual success due to repudiating that suck-uppery. I certainly don't think most any of them would call themselves "nice guys" anymore, much less are they bepimpled virginal basement-dwellers. I think of them more as the guys from Swingers (who hang out, eat pizza, and play SNES games for fun) than the guys from... you know, The Big Bang Theory or something, who have scheduled weekly Halo tournaments and actually attach in-group status to the outcome of those games. So although they may be bitter, few of their other descriptors actually stick to the IMF readership; for the most part, they're simply bizarrely inaccurate and wholly oblivious to this fact.
I suppose I can't fault Ms. Ryan for not grasping the nuances of IMF readers' personality traits. She's clearly not a regular reader. People tend to fall back on reliable memes when they are unsure how to proceed; but it's important that this is the meme she chose. Assuming that everyone who doesn't like you must not like you because you're better than them is very telling, indeed. I'll leave it up to you to decide what, exactly, it says about them.
There is, of course, the obligatory reference to somebody's "pointless existence." People have been using that phrase so long now it kind of grates on my cornea just to see it in text. Pointless existence, sometimes rendered meaningless existence, and usually welded into a sentence containing some variant of the word justify. Ugh. For people generally so enthralled to the fashions of the day, you think they'd grab a thesaurus rather than trot out cliched crap. Why not glitz it up and write, I dunno, rationalize your purposeless state of being or something?
I count the appearance of some variant of "racist" five times and "misogynist" three times, both in the main post and in the comments section. I'm frankly surprised they didn't appear more frequently. Of course, nothing about the meme is racist. "American," after all, is a nationality, not a race -- at any rate the argument is that the culture of American femininity is defective (which belies the claim of misogyny, too). Nor is it racist or misogynist to claim that women of some other race (or nationality; the commenters refer to women of eastern European descent, but again, eastern European is not a race) are preferable to American women, as, again, the argument is that Asians and eastern Europeans exhibit more desirable cultural traits, not that they're some kind of racially pure übermenschen. At any rate, our friend Inigo said it best.
And finally, the sarcasm. It abounds. It's right there in the title and appears four or five times in the body of the (rather short) post itself. I often think there's a peculiar psychology to sarcasm. As a means of humor, it's wholly ineffective (I once used the term sarcasmosis to describe the act of sucking all the humor out of a situation by means of excessive sarcasm). It literally consists of nothing but saying back to someone what they just said in a slightly more nasally voice. Any babboon capable of mashing a keyboard with his balled-up fists could, given sufficient time, emulate sarcasm with a startling degree of accuracy. But Ferdinand Bardamu has already pointed out how unfunny and blindingly literal their memes are, and I don't think they're stupid enough not to realize it, which means their sarcasm serves some other purpose. I've often felt, although I have no evidence that this is the case, that sarcasm is a response to feelings of oppression and hopelessness. The sarcastic person feels ground down by the weight of the world, and resorts to petty verbal sniping at those who complain about woes that, in their mind, pale in comparison to their own. I suppose being in thrall to an ideology that harps endlessly about unjust power dynamics, the oppressive of social structures, the futility of nonrevolutionary movements, etc., would turn me into a bitter, black-hearted harridan, too.
Before anyone asks, no, I have no plans to examine the lexicography of the right. For one thing, being a right-winger myself, I can't get the perspective on it necessary to write a good one. (To paraphrase Machiavelli, you see the mountain best from the bottom of the valley; you see the valley best from the top of the mountain). And second, I don't really read mainstream right-wing blogs. Frankly, they bore the hell out of me.
From commenter Kristor over at Bruce Charlton's Miscellany:
The social order we seek is not, after all, just like the one we had in 1100. It is like the one we will have after the scientific and industrial revolutions, *and* after the collapse of modernism. So, in everything we say about the social order, we must speak in terms of *transcending* the modern. Post-modernism is no good; it’s now widely understood to mean super-duper-modernism. Trans-modernism is no good either, because it sounds like the next intensification of modernism. Ditto for meta-modernism. No; we can’t be about the modern at all. We shouldn’t even mention it, if we can help it.
The only thing that occurs to me is teleonomists. It is familiar sounding, thanks to teleology. But it is obscure enough to call for inquiry. It connotes teleology, and our conviction that there are real essential natures to things, that incline them toward teloi; so it connotes our skepticism about the sufficiency of merely stochastic procedures to “explain” anything. It refers back to the pre-Cartesian metaphysic of the Grand Synthesis of the Middle Ages, and to the precedent synthesis of the Early Church. It connotes a rejection of materialism, moral relativism, libertinism, etc. It connotes a confidence in natural law, in the transcendent, and in the final telos of this world in the eschaton. Teleonomists are literally “far or complete tellers,” and “nomos” means “law” as well as “name.” So it works on lots of levels, at least in philosophical and etymological terms.
It doesn’t have to make sense in terms of current political categories. Indeed, it shouldn’t. That’s the whole point.
I am not quite happy with the term, but I have this strong feeling that we need a totally new wineskin, and I can’t come up with anything else that is as good at indicating that we are not about the far past, or the recent past, or its extension into the future, but rather about something that transcends all particular times, and about leaving behind the dead of this age to bury this dead age.
I can imagine the evangelical conversation: “Are you a conservative?” “No, I’m a teleonomist.” “What’s that?” [Notice the curious, open mind, the lack of any knee-jerk animosity such as “Christian” or “Reactionary” would likely provoke] “I think things have real natures, and that if we pay attention to our nature as human beings, we can know what sort of society really works, at least in general. I’m not interested in our current political categories. I think they are all whacked. I’m interested in bringing in something that transcends them.
What the modern says:
(Discovered on a Facebook friend's wall).
What the modern means:
Don't ask what the meaning of life is.
There isn't one. God is dead and there's no point to anything, so comfort yourself with some arbitrary and irrational delusion until your life winds down to its inevitable and meaningless end. Unless that delusion involves religion, in which case you're a dumb bigot fundie homophobe bastard.
Lawrence Auster's praise for the Catholics who vandalized that horrid blasphemous billboard depicting the Virgin Mary staring in horror at a positive pregnancy test has apparently earned him the meek outrage of a few milquetoast Christians.
Pfeh I say to them.
If a man insulted my mother, I would sock him in his (literally) God-damned mouth. Everyone who is a man intuits this is the proper response to such an outrage. If some lily-livered hobbit lectured me that I should refrain from doing so because, after all, it's technically against the law, I'd have to refrain from socking him in the mouth, too. Why, then, should I tolerate an even greater outrage against our even greater Holy Mother and the Queen of Heaven?
To the extent civil law protects those would blaspheme the likeness of the one true God and His celestial court, it is simply not binding on men. There is no right to blasphemy, falsehood, error, or sin.
I renew my praise for Arthur Skinner and send my kudos Mr. Auster's way for sticking up for the guy.
Proponents of gay "marriage" (for the sake of my poor fingers, let the sarcastic quotation marks be merely implied from henceforth) often accuse their opponents of homophobia, a kind of pop-psychological diagnosis that requires no degree to confer, which serves to delegitimize any argument against gay marriage by asserting that it stems from nothing but irrational disgust.
Setting aside, for a moment, the unfairness of the characterization, is disgust irrational?
Disgust appears to be a pretty universal feature of the human condition. I can only assume this is because it serves a valid end. All humans, regardless of race or culture or other peculiarities, developed the ability to communicate verbally precisely because it conferred an unequivocal survival advantage. Likewise with any other relatively universal trait.
So what advantage does disgust toward homosexuality confer? For one thing, homoesxual behavior (at least [or especially] male homosexual behavior) is a disease vector. The peculiarly predatory sexual behaviors common to modern gay men aggravate this; a not insubstantial number of practicing homosexuals (about three-quarters according to some sources) report having had over 100 partners. This is simply not a lifestyle conducive to good health -- in fact, it's conducive to widespread and early death, exactly like we're seeing today. Disgust innoculates communities against it, leading them to avoid, shun, and exile (literally or figuratively) homosexual men in their midst.
So the etiology of man's disgust toward homosexuals is completely rational even if you grant the left's materialist/biodeterminist presuppositions. Why, then, does modern man hate it?
Because disgust, like heterosexuality, arises spontaneously from human nature -- and modern man detests the natural order of being and wishes to destroy it.
So he will embrace literally anything that is contrary to it (decriminalize it, then legalize it, then demand that it be publicly tolerated, then demand that it be publicly endorsed, then demand that it be subsidized), and oppose literally anything that arises from it.
Because human nature itself is "homophobic," the (true) rightist wants homosexuality criminalized or at least stigmatized -- while the leftist would rather keep homosexuality and abolish human nature, instead.
I believe the reasons for marriage falling out of favor with Americans are many, including my own clinical observations that the vast majority of married people consider their unions a source of pain, not pleasure, and that too few of them are equipped with the psychological and behavioral tools to achieve true intimacy or maintain real passion. When the architecture of a relationship is airless and seemingly without exit (without bankrupting your family by hiring lawyers and having your kids pack overnight bags every week), people will eventually learn to steer clear of it.
Perhaps no factor, however, is more responsible for the decline of marriage in America than government participation in it. The fact is that getting a marriage license means, essentially, signing a Draconian contract with the state to manage the division of your estate in the event of a divorce, without ever having read that contract.
The contract, if it included all the relevant laws pertaining to divorce, child custody, spousal support and other relevant matters, would probably run hundreds of pages. And what’s more, the contract, once signed, may be changed by the state legislature at any time, leaving the parties to it with no recourse.
This all means that getting married in America is—in the current scheme—an act of self-abandonment which subjugates one to government in a more infantilizing fashion than nearly any other voluntary action you could take.
Actions have consequences. So it is no surprise that volunteering to be lorded over by the state would result in feelings of confinement while married. Nor is it any surprise that signing over one’s rights to self-determination to the state in such dramatic fashion would result in the state over-using its power to dictate how married couples ought to conduct themselves in the event of a divorce—even if they have no children.
And it is also predictable that people would eventually find this distasteful, because human beings instinctively love liberty, especially in matters as personal as love and the raising of families.
The solution is obvious: Get the state entirely out of the marriage business. No more marriage licenses. No more special treatment of married couples by the IRS or any other facet of government. No state ever had a legitimate claim to issue marriage licenses, to begin with, since marriage is a spiritual commitment and quite often, a religious one. And it is, fundamentally, an intensely personal one based in autonomy—until city hall gets involved and messes everything up.
Even the pseudoconservatives are on board with the marginalization of religion, the abolition of traditional institutions, and the modern assault on the natural order of being.
If you weren't already boycotting these intolerable idiots for life, do so now.
Modernity offered, in contrast to the experiential paradigm of the vast majority of human history, a very different vision of man, society, in the universe. As such, it needed a narrative to establish the legitimacy of its vision, which we may summarize thusly:
Primitive man lived in darkness and ignorance, kept their by religious superstition-peddlers. We enlightened thinkers and scientists succeeded in liberating man from his squalor and have set him along the path toward his gradual perfection.
This narrative may have been believable in the 17th and 18th centuries. We, today, know better. Man's liberation from religion has not perfected him. It has loosed horrors beyond counting on the world.
The "crisis of modernity," as such, is the spontaneous recognition of the falseness of this narrative -- and therefore the falseness of everything which has come to be because of it, including our social order, our ethical life, and our self-understanding.
Because modernity is false (and everyone knows it), it cannot be sustained. There are only two options: to return to that which is normative, historical, spontaneous, and organic, that is, to religion, to the traditional family, and various other institutions; or else to soldier on ahead, dropping only those parts of the modern condition that clearly cannot be salvaged.
Western society by and large has chosen the latter course. It has elected to drop, among other things, the idea of a coherent narrative; indeed, it is now characterized by suspicion or distrust of narratives. This, we call "postmodernism." It has also jettisoned its concern for reason, rationality, and the realness of reality. This, too, is part of postmodernism; we call it "deconstructionism." It has retained everything else of modernity, including its parousiasm and dialectic historicism.
But modernism-lite is really no more sustainable than was modernism-regular.