Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum.
Saint Augustine tells us (along with Gandhi, many years later) to love the sinner, and hate the sin. Conceptually, it’s easy enough to grasp. Practically, it’s not always an easy task. Drive down the freeway during peak traffic hours and tell me how many folks drive you crazy with poor driving antics. Certainly road rage wouldn’t be so prevalent if most folks managed to live by this rule. However, making the attempt to live this way is worthy even if we cannot always live up to it.
Social Justice orthodoxy demands that we hate the sinner for the sin. Paula Deen famously used the word “nigger” after being held up at gun point, and admitted that she may have said it in other contexts at some point or another in her life. This stain is considered permanent in some sense. Once you use the word, you are forever guilty, as if the offense were like committing a felony. Your record cannot ever be expunged. Forgiveness is impossible. You will be hated forever. You are an unperson, erased like a man in a Stalin-era photograph.
A good friend of mine some folks may know as ClarkHat sent me this link: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/08/my-joe-rogan-experience/594802/
Fascinatingly, the author of the piece does not appear to have a problem with Joe Rogan himself, per se. Indeed, his opinion of Joe is high enough that most of the piece is about the author’s attempt to live likewise, and Joe’s ability to relate to the common American man. Rather, he takes issue with the fact that Joe Rogan would dare to talk with sinners, with the unpersoned. The money quote:
Joe likes Jack. He likes Milo Yiannopoulos. He likes Alex Jones. He wants you to know that he doesn’t agree with much of what they say, but he also wants you to know that off camera they’re the nicest guys. If we all have fatal flaws, this is Joe’s: his insistence on seeing value in people even when he shouldn’t, even when they’ve forfeited any right to it, even when the harm outweighs the good. It comes from a generous place, but it amounts to careless cruelty. He just won’t write people off, and then he compounds the sin by throwing them a lifeline at the moment when they least deserve it.
Once a man is unpersoned, the shunning is supposed to continue forever. You must hate the sinner, and if you do not, this itself is a form of sin. It is, in the author’s own words, Joe’s fatal flaw. Talking to the sinner is forbidden. Forgiveness of the sinner is forbidden. It does not matter if the sin was three years ago, or thirty years ago. It does not matter if the sin was a casually insensitive joke, or a Virginia governor donning blackface in a yearbook. Although we might suspect that Governor Northam may have been given some level of a temporary pass for his Democratic party allegiance. Political expediency may delay your final unpersoning, for a time. Then again, it may not. Courts of public opinion are fickle, prone to whimsy, and as cruel as any schoolyard bully. There is a reason the justice system is not put to popular vote, after all.
His invitation to Jones was indefensible, and his defense was even worse. I had assumed going in that Rogan would explain himself at the top, similar to what he’d done after booting the Jack Dorsey interview. But he didn’t. He went the other way. He promised a “fun” interview with Jones, as if it was a joyful, long-awaited reunion rather than offensive for even existing, and he assured his listeners that “you’re gonna love it.”
Even before Jones sat down, Rogan seemed unpierced by the genuine anguish that Jones had caused the parents of murdered first graders. I won’t quote anything Alex Jones said on the podcast, so just picture a walrus with a persecution complex, or a talking pile of gravel. They got the Sandy Hook stuff out of the way first—Jones evaded responsibility, Joe grumbled about the media—and then they got into what Jones was really there to talk about: aliens, suicidal grasshoppers, Chinese robot workers, that kind of thing. My breaking point was at the 21-minute mark, when Jones apologized for “ranting” and Rogan replied, “It’s okay—I want you to rant.”
Alex Jones is presumed by the author to have caused genuine anguish to the parents of Sandy Hook shooting victims. First, it bears mentioning that this claim is extremely dubious. If somebody doesn’t wish to listen to Alex Jones, he doesn’t have to. I’m not exactly in the Alex Jones fan club, and I generally avoid listening to him. Similarly, if Joe’s interview of Alex Jones starts to cause somebody distress for whatever reason, well, you can watch something else.
Similarly, the author notes that “Jones evaded responsibility.” What does this even mean? Alex Jones was not responsible for the shooting. There are many things one might conceivably pin on Alex Jones, to include those scam supplements sold under the InfoWars brand. But Sandy Hook – and the feelings of the victims and their families – isn’t one of them. To the author, however, it does not matter. Alex Jones is a sinner. He should therefore be unpersoned, and anyone who even talks to the unperson is himself guilty of a sin.
Perhaps a sin worthy of unpersoning as well.
I’m glad, though, that the men of America have Joe Rogan to motivate and inspire and educate them in limitless ways, including how to recognize a moron. Whatever gets the job done. It might unsettle some of us that we must rely on his fans to separate the good stuff from the bad, but that’s the hard work of being a responsible adult in the modern era—knowing what you should consume and what you shouldn’t. We all need to decide for ourselves, but trust me on this one: You can skip the mushroom coffee.
In the end, the author comes around – perhaps reluctantly – to the view I took above. For this I give him some credit, for I get the general impression from his writing that this view was difficult for him. He likes Joe at some level, but he is conflicted about his status as a sinner. But he does explain that you are responsible for the content you choose to consume. Joe Rogan’s time to be unpersoned has not yet come, at least in the author’s view. For now, perhaps, the court of public opinion has not ruled against him.
But once the you are deemed have offended the sensibilities of popular culture sufficiently, well, your time will come. There is no appeal, no forgiveness, no coming back from your unpersoning. Once a sinner, always a sinner. Once a sinner, never a real person again. You just become another caricature, a guy in a Hitler mustache, a cartoon villain, upon whom anything may be blamed, up to and including school shootings you had nothing to do with.
Hate the sinner, regardless of the sin: the new mantra of mob justice.
For those of my readers who are not yet in the know, my short story for Tom Kratman’s Carreraverse will appear in Terra Nova: The Wars of Liberation. Look for it on sale at Amazon and Baen.com on August 6th.
This is an exciting time for me. It is my first published fictional piece, and for it to be set in the Carreraverse is all the more epic. I really appreciate Tom giving me this opportunity and helping me smooth out the rough edges of my writing. And furthermore, I am grateful for Francis Porretto for reading a very early version and supplying me with some helpful pointers that led to a major plot point.
From this, I think I’ve gained the confidence and practice I needed to make my first attempt at a full-length original novel in the near future, using a story outline I’ve had in my head for years. Look for some snippets of that here on The Declination in the near future!
But on to the Carreraverse and why it interested me. Tom is, of course, an expert in war, although I’m not sure he would describe himself as such. And the fighting makes for highly entertaining reading, but there is something more buried in the pages of these books.
In Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, I was first introduced to the idea of military service as a thing that might be tied to voting rights. This is, of course, not necessarily a new concept historically speaking – military service and citizenship were almost one and the same for Spartans, and the Romans (and others) used the military as a citizenship path for some – but it’s one that doesn’t enter public political discourse all that often.
It goes back to a concept Nassim Nicholas Taleb discusses frequently. If you’re going to have responsibility for a thing, you should have skin in the game. If you have a stockbroker who makes money regardless of whether you win or lose in the market, why should you trust his advice? He has no skin in the game. He suffers no consequences for being wrong.
The characters in the Carrera books are strongly tied to their respective worlds. They have skin in the game. The titular character is wed to Balboa through marriage and through fire. The villains are similar, and in fact you can even feel somewhat sorry for one of the major ‘villains’, in that she does have a conscience of sorts, and is merely doing what she can with the hand she was dealt. She has skin in the game, too.
Tom isn’t an armchair general writing about some fanciful space laser blasters. He gives us a world that is very real, very relatable, and filled with believable tactics and strategy. I am not a military man myself. But most of the other men in my family are, as are many of my friends, and while I will likely never have the knowledge of these matters that they possess – for anything I learn is coming out of a book, and lacks a real perspective – I can appreciate the authenticity of it.
Most folks can relate to how flippant things like rank, tactics, supplies, etc… are treated in many science fiction worlds. Not so in the Carreraverse. This is a real world, for all the science fiction behind the scenes regarding Terra Nova’s settlement. The stories are real, the reactions are real.
No fanciful space blasters. But there are lasers. Just of a more real sort.
The philosophy behind the Carreraverse is just as interesting as the fighting, the conflicts, and the characters themselves. Tom has a message woven through these books, though he doesn’t beat the reader over the head with it. Again, it’s done believably. It’s more real.
The Wars of Liberation anthology rewinds the clock and shows us some small slices from when Terra Novan settlements were relatively young, and when the world Tom describes in the main books was first taking shape from the milieu of Old Earth cultures and polities. It is a mix of the high tech and the low tech.
As one line in my short goes, one which was Tom’s idea, it’s “stone knives and bearskins.” But with drones, explosives, and hacking into networks aboard orbiting spacecraft. And a Pringles can, for a bit of inside IT humor.
My story started with a proposition: what would happen to a pair of regular IT folks if they were dropped into the middle of all this? How would they survive? How would they make themselves useful? Or would everything they knew be functionally useless on a new planet about to experience some revolutionary upheaval?
Well, if you’re at all curious, you don’t have long to wait.
I encourage you to snag yourself a copy, and if you haven’t already, give Tom’s Carrera books a read. The first book in the series, A Desert Called Peace, is entirely free. You won’t be disappointed.
This is just a rant, but why have a blog if you can’t rant and rave about what irritates you?
I’ve tried to articulate for some time just why SJWs and other assorted Leftist culture warriors irritate me. Oh, their predilection to call everybody literally Hitler is surely annoying. And so is the fact that many of them can’t even determine what gender they want to be tomorrow.
But above all else, one attributes stands tall: they dramatize everything.
Every time regular people want to have a good time, drama queen SJWs have to fuck it up. Are you playing a video game, my good man? Why, did you know the butt crack depth of one of the main characters indicates that one of the designers objectified women (this was from 2017, but a classic)? Checkmate!
For the moment, let’s concede every point the SJWs made. Maybe the guy who designed Tracer liked butts with deep cracks, and objectified the hell out of his character design. AM I SUPPOSED TO CARE? Why is this supposed to interfere with my enjoyment of some video game?
Some football player calls Nike and tells them the Betsy Ross flag is racist or something, and they ought to not sell some special overpriced shoe with that flag on it. Why does anyone care?
Hell, why am I even writing this right now? It gives me a headache just thinking about it.
I’m tired of giving even enough of a fuck to even respond to charges like this. Even if everything the SJW said was true, why does it matter? With them, everything is outrage, all the time, about things that approach meaninglessness.
But it’s not just SJWs who do this. It’s a trait of the West in general, I suspect. When I’m DJing, sometimes a person will come up to me and say I should play some song because “it’s my song!” Look, I get wanting to hear something you like at the party/club/whatever, but it’s not your song. It’s not your personal life soundtrack.
Maybe this sounds pedantic, but I’m really trying to make a point here. The way a lot of folks act, it’s like they are living in a movie, like they have their soundtracks, and their dramatic moments, and their great quests and battles – but these are nothings. Trifles. It’s some drunk girl wanting to hear Beyonce. It’s some SJW fighting “the Nazis” (mostly just regular people who actually have jobs). It’s some grifter shouting on about sexism in video games.
It’s all worthless. A waste of time, life, energy, everything. If the life of someone like this was made into a movie, it would be the most boring movie ever made. And even there, it would get worse. Make an atrocious movie like the girl Ghostbusters remake, and when it bombs you can claim oppression. You’re not a shitty movie-maker, you’re a warrior fighting sexist Nazis.
And that’s part of why every enemy of these folks is a Nazi. Vaguely disagreeable person doesn’t sound so dramatic as NAZI. Regular Joe just doesn’t have the same dramatic impact as literally-Hitler. Even Donald Trump, as bombastic and seemingly-dramatic as he can be, is too boring and normal for these people. He must be elevated to Adolf Hitler status for the dramatization fantasy to continue.
“I’m fighting the Patriarchy!”
Give me a break, you’re probably an overweight slob pissed that she’s not getting top quality dick.
“I’m fighting racism!”
You’re probably out protesting because some dumbass got high and charged a cop, because clearly if you think the cops are out to get you, the best idea is to charge them and give them an excuse to shoot you.
“I’m punching Nazis!”
The people uttering this usually look like their fists would shatter if they impacted anything more solid than a plate full of jello.
I said the following in an old post about degenerate Cenobite-like behavior:
“So today, they want to pretend to be a superhero punching Nazis, and tomorrow they change their minds and want to go on a drinking binge in the club district and find the most Nazi-like human they can, and have sex with him. They are all heroes of their own little fantasy narratives, like every song is a personal movie soundtrack, and every event is a momentous struggle. Hailing a taxi cab is the equivalent of the Battle of the Bulge, getting up the stairs in a drunken stupor is the evacuation of at Dunkirk, losing weight is a quest Jason and his Argonauts would fail.
I guess burn more calories than you eat isn’t as dramatic as a quest to the ends of the Earth.
A poop swastika splattered on the wall of a University bathroom is a racial struggle reminiscent of the Million Man March. Enforcing border security is the same as Auschwitz. Donald Trump is literally Hitler. PewDiePie is a fucking Nazi. Calling an obese woman fat is the same as stoning them to death for being raped. Making a sexual joke is literal rape. Abortion is sacred, but everything we do is For the Children ™.”
Today, we have folks clamoring about Student Loan debt, saying that it’s horribly unfair, and they can’t possibly pay it off, so they need the taxpayer to step in and wipe the slate clean. Look, I’m the first one to admit the universities ripped these people off (and the fact that student loan debt can’t be cleared by bankruptcy is a tacit form of indentured servitude), but it’s still an overly dramatic take. I really loathe this notion of “I can’t get out of debt.”
Yes, you can. It may be unpleasant. You may have to suffer, relatively speaking of course (who really suffers poverty of the absolute sort in the West?). But you can do it. Save more than you make (and put it toward debt) isn’t a hard concept, and can be done even on extremely modest incomes. It’s just like losing weight, except with your finances. Burn more calories than you take in. Not an impossible concept, but one that requires willpower and exchanging the dramatic fantasy world for the real one.
Moreover, why should I trust some SJW college grad who can’t pay his bills to change the world for the better? Please, you can’t even change your own life, what makes you think I want to grant you power over mine? You fucked yours up.
Browsing Instagram, you see overweight body positive models saying that they are true beauty and all that. You see thirsty men lining up to say “I love you, you’re so beautiful” as if this 300lb Internet random was going to say “oh, wow, thirsty comment 7512.5 of the day, I should totally give this guy my phone number.” Yeah, your inner beauty really shines through when you’re texting dick pics to randos.
Go to social media, and every political post is serious business. Pick a topic – any political topic, really – and you’re sure to see a flame war over it. Oh no! Someone disagreed with me on the relative sales tax rate in Hillsborough county BURN THE HERETIC… ER… HITLER!
It’s not even an exclusively Leftist thing. Yes, I know, the Right has been losing the culture war for decades. Hell, long before I was ever born. But despite all the Leftist advances, your quality of life isn’t that bad. Everything that goes wrong in your life isn’t because of a Leftist boogeyman.
Yeah, I don’t like them either (my endorsement of helicopters should have been the first hint), and I sure as hell don’t want them anywhere near the levers of power. But let’s be real. Your life isn’t that bad yet. We’re not Venezuela. Could we be at some point? Sure. Put enough Communists in charge and you could fuck up a whorehouse in a Thai port. But it’s not there right now. The boogaloo isn’t tomorrow, okay? Somebody chill out.
But at least Rightist over-dramatization has some basis in some fact, somewhere. Communists really do turn productive places into shitholes. Leftist dramatization has completely left the reservation. I remember when some nutjob of a “scientist” was outraged that black holes were described as black.
More headaches. Does anyone have time for this shit anymore?
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs apparently demands that, once people have reached our relative level of prosperity, everybody needs to invent drama to feel relevant.
Maybe the Internet and Social Media has exacerbated this. Emojis and all-caps arguing abounds. Collective attention spans have seemingly dropped like a rock. Go on Facebook and it looks like every idiot you know is living the high life, even the chick protesting that she’s not getting a $15/hr minimum wage. Even that woman somehow managed to snag a selfie in Acapulco last year. But she’s suffering! And she needs your help!
Some woman takes a picture of her beer and hashtags it #craftbeer! Who cares? Drink it, or don’t. Why is this a big deal? Everybody posts pictures of vacations, and new cars. Look at me! I’m so awesome! Envy me! That time some chick staggered home from a night of clubbing, hard drinking, drugs, and anonymous sex naturally skipped this process. The piles of bills rolling in every month for credit cards, car loans, etc… those don’t make the Facebook grade. But hey, sure, you’re a real winner at life, I’m sure. We should all be just like you.
Saw some t-shirt the other day that proclaimed an overweight black woman as “the queen.” Yeah, okay, I presume I should bow? And I love all of this wine paraphernalia. You have to have a bunch of $10 Target signs proclaiming you like wine for some crazy reason I can’t fathom. Can’t just drink it and enjoy it? No, it’s got to be a status thing.
Drama, drama, drama.
I’m surprised sometimes that people can sustain this level of dramatization in their lives. I couldn’t, I’m far too lazy to contemplate expending that much effort on fantasy. I’d rather shut my door and not talk to anybody for a week. Gods, wouldn’t that be a vacation? I wouldn’t post it on Facebook if it happened, but I’d damned well enjoy it.
I don’t know if all these people really believe in the dramatization that surrounds them. I don’t know if the fantasy is real to them, or if under it all there’s an inner cynicism driving all of their status-signalling actions. Is it instinct or learned behavior? Is it both?
I don’t know. And I’m not sure I can summon a sufficient number of fucks to care.
But one thing is certain: there is far more drama, far more outrage, around us than is necessary.
A friend of mine formerly known as Glomar Responder (Mr. X) on Twitter sent over this screed as a guest post. It’s an interesting commentary on the bifurcation we’re seeing in libertarianism. I’ve spoken on this matter before, as my natural inclination is toward smaller government and so I have historically been rather sympathetic toward libertarianism. But there are problems in libertarianism that continually get overlooked, and an increasing number of “left-libertarians” making their political debut. There are open-borders libertarians who do not realize they are slitting their own throats by encouraging, or at least allowing, the mass importation of people who work counter to their goals. It’s clear there is something going on, and Glomar explores the idea below.
Met with a high school friend last night, talked a bit about how libertarianism became a leftist shit show so quickly after the so-called “libertarian moment” where it looked like the Rand Pauls and Ted Cruzes were the new hotness in politics.
And she has a theory.
Libertarianism isn’t one movement, it’s two.
The popular political branch that actually got people elected and polls well in the southeast is based in the classical Anglo-Saxon system, as carried on especially by the British Isles border peoples. It basically stopped evolving at Locke.
And when founded in the US, it was REACTIONARY. It was a restoration of the rights of Englishmen and the small, local systems that the border Welsh, Scots, and Irish were used to.
So you have volunteer fire departments based on the militia system. You have Sheriffs with real law enforcement power, instead of a constabulary. You have common law rather than large bodies of code.
And then there’s intellectual libertarianism, which continued to evolve, especially in France, Germany, and Spain.
And Proudhon and Stirner had a huge influence on them.
So you get your John Henry Mackays, linking libertarian political thought with sexual promiscuity and outright pederasty.
Something that would have gotten you lynched by the “libertarians” of e.g. Kentucky.
So, unfortunately, “intellectual” libertarians run the movement, such as it is. Politicians and elites are far more likely to gravitate towards intellectual movements based in French and German philosophy than they are to say “hey, maybe those rednecks and hillbillies have preserved a great system, and we should adopt it.”
So you get think tanks, and a few college professors, pushing “respectable” libertarian thought that is atheist (due to both French revolution era and German influences), sexually promiscuous and experimental, and radically atomized individualist (because Stirner).
And the people it attracts in the academy and in young political life are the white upper middle class degenerates, because it gives them permission to be freaks, without giving them the obligations to the worker from classical communism, the obligations to the progressive stack from Frankfurt branches, or the obligations to God from social conservativism.
“Dude, weed” is actually their ideal sales pitch to the classical Anglo-Saxon borderer libertarians.
Because the Stirnerites think they should be able to have their hedonistic experiences as they choose, and the hillbillies think “you think Washington can tell me what crops I can grow? Fuck you, buddy.”
It’s a solid point of agreement between the two. As is shrinking government intervention in their lives generally.
But the hillbillies, their basic stance is “leave me the fuck alone, I can get by just fine with my family, neighbors, and church.”
And the intellectuals are much more “leave me the fuck alone, the child consented and anyway I’m raising average wages worldwide by making cheap crap in China without any trade barriers.”
You’ve got a bunch of government minimalists and localists on the one hand, who have a very long history of voluntary participation and civic duty.
They don’t like a distant crown passing edicts on them, but they’re cool with showing up at the fire hall when the chief tells them to.
And then you’ve got a bunch of people who want to be left alone because they’ve bought into the atomized individualism that lets them live without obligation. They can fuck who they want, exploit who they want, and act like general eternal teenagers.
“Fuck you, dad,” the political movement. So abortion is cool, because “the child is trespassing on my body.”
And voluntary hierarchy? REEEEEEEEEEEE!
The former is attractive or at least understandable to many normie Americans, because it’s just a more radical version of the system they were born and raised in.
They can see the Jefferson in it.
The latter is repulsive to most of them.
It rejects many of their fundamental institutions. Of course we serve in the military (militia tradition, remember).
Of course we have laws regulating marriage (still religious, never adopted the atheism of the Continental libertarian/anarchists).
And a few decades of middle and lower class guys going to college and reading e.g. Rand has kinda mashed the two together in many places.
But there’s still a fundamental divide, and it’s becoming more apparent as the “I don’t owe you or your culture shit” libertarians side with the left.
Child drag queens don’t bother them.
Why would they? So long as I don’t make you do it, I don’t owe you shit.
Immigration? Borders are just imaginary lines, statist, stop making my lawn mowing more expensive.
No, I don’t owe my neighbor’s kids shit. They should lower their price and compete with the Guatemalan lawn crews and their riding mowers.
They have to speak Spanish at school? Oh well, we don’t have an official language.
That lawn crew will eventually vote away my buttsex? Well, I’ll be dead.
Libertarian VOTERS didn’t change.
They’re still just classical Anglos (or at least spiritual anglos).
But the money and the “movement,” organized libertarianism, doesn’t represent them, it was always fundamentally different.
Anyway, long story short she’s convinced her formerly very active libertarian husband to disassociate from movement libertarianism because Darth Fonzie is cringe and gross, and Latin American socialists don’t vote with her very, very white daughter’s freedom and interests in mind.
So I’m mostly back from my self-imposed ascetic period. I needed some time to clear my head, and politics certainly has a way of muddying the religious waters. But I feel that I can safely return to my long-winded screeds and overly-involved fisks. And my friends, we have a whopper today. In fact, this is not just a fisk, it is a comparison of two viewpoints, one interesting and one a well-spun lie. Before we get into it, I have this observation for you:
One of the more penetrating questions to a liberal is “when is my duty satisfied?” It lacks the grounding necessary to recognize a success condition. It embraces its own form of original sin, but lacks the redemption method.
Think carefully on this. Leftists generally like to, for example, push taxes higher. What rate of taxation is enough, after which they must better allocate the funds instead of asking for more? With respect to racial grievances, how many affirmative action programs, how much money, how much tireless media spin is necessary before we can say that we have satisfied the duty they ask of us? What level of involvement in Social Justice programs is enough that, when satisfied, the person can proudly state that he is not racist/sexist/whatever?
If you cheat and look in the back of the book, so to speak, you will find that the answer is nothing. Nothing will satisfy them. Nothing is ever enough. Unlike Christianity, the original sin of Liberalism can never be expunged. There is no redemption, racist.
Don’t believe me? Let’s fisk some of this.
The New York Times bestselling author of White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism sat down with Teaching Tolerance to discuss why working against one’s own fragility is a necessary part of white anti-racist work—and why good intentions don’t matter.
And later in the article she expands on this:
I think intentions are irrelevant. It’s nice to know you had good intentions, but the impact of what you did was harmful. And we need to let go of our intentions and attend to the impact, to focus on that.
Intentions don’t matter. That’s a good place to start, and by itself explains a great deal about Progressive political thought. In a criminal case, intentions do matter. If you intend to kill someone, that is murder, and it is worse than killing someone by accident, which may be manslaughter or negligent homicide, or some other thing. Or, if the other person intended to harm you, your killing him in turn may be justified. Intentions surely do matter. What happens in the physical world also matters, of course, but to say good intentions don’t matter is already a lie.
Well, when I coined [white fragility], the fragility part was meant to capture how little it takes to upset white people racially. For a lot of white people, the mere suggestion that being white has meaning will cause great umbrage. Certainly generalizing about white people will. Right now, me saying “white people,” as if our race had meaning, and as if I could know anything about somebody just because they’re white, will cause a lot of white people to erupt in defensiveness. And I think of it as a kind of weaponized defensiveness. Weaponized tears. Weaponized hurt feelings. And in that way, I think white fragility actually functions as a kind of white racial bullying.
Fascinatingly enough, the author tells us that white fragility is actually a form of Weaponized Empathy, in so many words. It’s interesting to note this because this is a very clear form of projection. I’ve delved a lot into Weaponized Empathy as a concept here at The Declination. I am certainly one of the originators of the term. And so it is quite fascinating to see the author of this book, and the responses in this article, using a very similar phrasing. If a white person is defensive he is, by her own words, a kind of racial bully. The tears are offensive weapons. The hurt feelings are offensive weapons. But let’s explore a little more here.
We white people make it so difficult for people of color to talk to us about our inevitable—but often unaware—racist patterns and assumptions that, most of the time, they don’t. People of color working and living in primarily white environments take home way more daily indignities and slights and microaggressions than they bother talking to us about because their experience consistently is that it’s not going to go well. In fact, they’re going to risk more punishment, not less. They’re going to now have to take care of the white person’s upset feelings. They’re going to be seen as a troublemaker. The white person is going to withdraw, defend, explain, insist it had to have been a misunderstanding.
If you make an accusation, the accused gets to have his own say in the matter. Justice is not one person making an accusation, and everyone else immediately agreeing with him and not giving the accused an opportunity to defend himself. If I make an accusation, I expect the accused to defend himself. This applies even when I know he’s in the wrong! The author implies that a person defending himself, explaining his actions, and suggesting whatever happened was a misunderstanding is not engaging in acceptable behavior. Only admission of guilt is acceptable. But let’s continue.
There’s a question that’s never failed me in this work to uncover how racism keeps reproducing itself despite all of the evidence we like to give for why it couldn’t be us. And that question isn’t, “Is this true or is this false: Was the person’s intention good or not?” We’re never going to be able to come to an agreement on intentions. You cannot prove somebody’s intentions. They might not even know their intentions. And if they weren’t good, they’re probably not going to admit that. The question I ask is, “How does this function?” The impact of the action is what is relevant.
There is an interesting omission here. Do you see it? We don’t know a person’s intentions with certainty, that is true, though this has not stopped legal proceedings from finding evidence for a motive, and for ruling on such cases. However, note that the defender’s testimony is dismissed as irrelevant because intentions cannot be proven, but thus far in the article, we have not once made similar questions of the accuser’s motives! This is extremely important, because the demand for racist activity far outstrips the supply. This is why we have seen so many hate crime hoaxes of late, including the very public Jussie Smollett affair, but also lesser “crimes” like the Mizzou poop swastika, the receipt with vague racist crap scribbled on it, and others.
A person who claims to be a victim of such an affair is, like the receipt faker, often doing it for social media attention. Posts of sympathy are many. A person makes the evening news, and maybe boosts his failing career. The media eats these affairs up! It’s crack cocaine to a journalist, and people know this. But the author of this piece doesn’t even mention the possibility of a false accusation, and hammers homes a focus on the accused.
Foundationally [we] have to change our idea of what it means to be racist. As long as you define a racist as an individual who intentionally is mean, based on race, you’re going to feel defensive. When I say you’ve been shaped by a racist system—that it is inevitable that you have racist biases and patterns and investments—you’re going to feel offended by that. You will hear it as a comment on your moral character. You’re going to feel offended by that if you don’t change how you’re interpreting what I just said. And I would actually agree with anyone who felt offended when I say, “It is inevitable that you are racist,” if their definition of a racist is someone who means harm.
Note the first sentence. We need to change our idea (the definition) of what the word means. Here we see Progressive thought laid bare: we change the definition of a word or concept. The author is not just admitting that they do this, she is demanding that we be complicit in this change. Note the dictionary definition:
Racism: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
Note the word “directed” used here. This implies intent, especially when combined with “based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” So to be a racist, you must believe in the superiority of your own race, and direct some form of antagonism or discrimination intentionally toward a person of another race. The author is telling us to change this definition so that her entire book makes sense, because otherwise it’s a form of meaningless nonsense. For her position to be internally coherent we must change the meaning of our own language. She’s telling you this, straight up!
Change how you understand what it means to be racist, and then act on that understanding. Because if you change your understanding, but you don’t do anything different, then you’re colluding.
And now comes the threat. Change the definition, or you’re a traitor/colluder/heretic/whatever. Distilled to its most simplistic form, obey me, or I will call you a mean name. Now many Rightists will scoff and laugh at this. Don’t. Leftists use this tactic because it works on at least some people. Here’s the real weaponization. Obey, or I will apply social peer pressure to you, racist.
In fact, white people measure the value of our schools and neighborhoods by the absence of people of color.
I know exactly what a “good” school is, and I know what we’re talking about. We all know what we’re talking about when we say “good school” versus “bad school.” We use race to measure those things. And now, you take the product of that conditioning, that segregation, that narrow story, and you put that teacher in a position to socialize everyone’s children—and that is a critical piece of [the] school-to-prison pipeline.
The first portion of this bit is actually correct, to at least some degree. Let’s be more specific, however. She uses the term “people of color”, but this doesn’t really work. There are few people bothered by the presence of, say, some Japanese kids or something. Is anybody really worrying about Chinese kids, or Cuban kids? It’s not “people of color” folks worry about (and note that said Japanese, Cuban, and Chinese kids are just as worried as the white kids, if not much more so). It’s much more specific than that. It’s mostly blacks that people worry about. That is the elephant in the room here, that has both Conservatives and Liberals tied up in politically-correct tongue twisters like “people of color” and such, because they can obfuscate the truth behind the idea that people are running in fear from Chinatown or something.
Why is that? Racism? Jim Crow? Or is it rational behavior?
The statistics on black crime are staggeringly bad. And here I am using a source, The Prison Policy Initiative, that is not friendly to my political views (intentionally). People of all races – blacks included – know this. They see first-hand, in many cases, how bad majority-black schools really are. Has the author ever been to Detroit? Washington DC (outside the nice parts)? There is a wealthy black family in my neighborhood. I was told, in polite language, that they left the ghetto they grew up in for good reason. Deep down, blacks know this is true. This is after spending in Detroit schools was elevated to near the highest spending per student in the country. The supposed-racists threw a lot of money at this problem. I suppose they are still guilty, though, right?
Either the statistics are true, and blacks commit crimes at a much higher per-capita rate than any other ethnicity in America, or a lot of people are being falsely convicted. As in most of them. The latter is not very likely. Now, argue all you want on why these things are true. But do not spin this as a “people of color” thing when it clearly isn’t. It is much more specific than that. Tell me, how many of you – even Liberals who found their way here to drop me some hate mail – want to live in a majority-black neighborhood in Detroit?
I don’t call myself a white ally. I’m involved in anti-racist work, but I don’t call myself an anti-racist white. And that’s because that is for people of color to decide, whether in any given moment I’m behaving in anti-racist ways. And notice that that keeps me accountable. It’s for them to determine if in any given moment—it’s not a fixed location—I haven’t made it or arrived. …
Again she tells us that only the accuser’s perspective matters. This is a recipe for complete submission.
Read the rest if you like. But now let’s compare to another piece, this one recommended by Fr. Brendon Laroche. The title is instructive: Liberalism Is Failing Because It Rejected Orthodox Christianity. This piece is a reflection on a book The Lost History of Liberalism. Full disclosure, I have not read this book, I have only read the rebuttal. But that in itself is interesting enough. Let’s begin.
A similar sense of gloom hovers over Helena Rosenblatt’s recent book, The Lost History of Liberalism. Rosenblatt presents her work as a history of those who have called themselves liberal through the centuries. More accurately described, however, it is her attempt to redefine liberalism’s founding in order to rescue it from the worrisome future toward which it seems to be headed. Liberalism was founded on commitments to duty, patriotism, self-sacrifice, and the other virtues that guide humanity’s use of freedom, she notes. But contemporary liberals are trading their birthright for an untenable pottage of rights talk and anarchic freedom that lacks solid grounding.
Rosenblatt foresees disaster at the end of that path, and her book is a call from within the liberal tradition to turn back. That alone is worth a cheer.
Indeed, I do welcome liberals who are willing to point out the flaws in liberalism to talk. There are flaws in conservatism, Libertarianism, and other Right-ish beliefs. I will readily admit them. Indeed, a friend of mine who is more Rightist than I am (he absolutely knows who he is) has frequently pointed out where I and others become too tribal in Rightist thinking. Certainly, it has irritated me on occasion, but he is correct to do this. That is Proverbs 27:17 at work. Also, Tom Kratman has frequently challenged my foundations as well, something I do appreciate quite sincerely. And so I do understand that it takes a certain measure to critique your own belief systems at this level. Let’s continue.
Rosenblatt’s central claim, however, is that the word “liberalism” has a strong historical connection to moral virtue. Although virtue has fallen into obscurity in contemporary liberalism, Rosenblatt argues that it needs to be recovered because it is essential to the liberal project.
I am not so certain of this. The idea of the Classical Liberal is a more Rightish thing. But again, I haven’t read her book, so I would need to see the claim in more specificity, and certainly the terms have been muddied and poorly-defined for some time, now. Nonetheless there is some kind of truth to this in the more modern sense. Liberals today are quite obsessed with signalling moral virtue. So it is possible their thought-lineage originates from a place where the moral virtue was more than just a mere signalling of tribal membership and a sort of assumed humility contest. Perhaps over time, the real moral virtue was replaced with the false one. It’s plausible, at least.
There follows a lot of exposition and rebuttals of Rosenblatt’s claim, which I will skip over for purposes of this post, but do give it a read. It is important.
Continental liberals believed that republican self-rule required the people to be educated in moral and civic virtue. In fact, at least in the early years, they seem to have agreed on little else. For many years, liberalism in France and Germany was a grab bag of political projects and policies. Still, these liberals always shared a commitment to republican forms of government founded on a civic virtue inculcated in the populace. They distrusted or even opposed pure democracy as little more than mob rule (although they recognized, especially thanks to Tocqueville, the inevitability of democracy’s rise). Only virtuous citizens, they reasoned, could navigate between the extremes of reactionary royalism and radical democratic revolution. A combination of democratic institutions with the more aristocratic emphasis on virtue would ennoble democracy and prevent the return of the exhausted ancien régime.
But how are citizens to be fitted with the virtue that republican government requires? This question brings us to the second important contribution of this book, and its most curious feature. Liberals concluded that the answer to this question was religion—Christianity, to be specific. Not the Christianity of the Catholic Church, which liberals regarded as the problem; and not the Christianity of orthodox Protestants, either: they, too, had often sided against democratic forces during the French Revolution. Early liberals needed a new theology for the new man at the dawn of a new age.
Here it is worth pausing to note what happened. Titanic figures in liberalism’s history, such as Benjamin Constant, explicitly asserted that liberal forms of government would stand or fall on the success of religion’s moralizing force. For liberalism, religion became good because of its usefulness for politics and not because of its truth. Liberalism instrumentalized religion, subverting it to “higher” political purposes.
Here is where things get interesting. Note that at the end we are given the idea, by the author of the article, that Liberalism used religion in a cynical manner. Voltaire famously encapsulated this with his quotation: “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” The full text of the verse it appears in is below:
If the heavens, stripped of his noble imprint,
Could ever cease to attest to his being,
If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.
Let the wise man announce him and kings fear him.
Kings, if you oppress me, if your eminencies disdain
The tears of the innocent that you cause to flow,
My avenger is in the heavens: learn to tremble.
Such, at least, is the fruit of a useful creed.
Such, at least, is the fruit of a useful creed. If we account him a Liberal – and I’m not sure that makes sense in a modern context, but let’s provisionally entertain the idea that Liberal thought-lineage descended from something like this for a moment – this would mean that Liberalism found Christianity useful, possibly irrespective of whether or not it was true. Why is that? And, more interestingly, why would modern Liberals abandon this notion and, quite frequently, scoff at the “stupid Sky Wizard believers” and their antiquated, and potentially racist notions?
I wonder – and this is personal speculation – if it isn’t because Christianity posits that God knows your heart. He knows if your charity is sincere, or if it is for personal status signalling. He knows your intentions. If the author of the White Fragility piece believed in a neutral arbiter who knew your heart, your true intentions, that would change things, wouldn’t it? If her intentions are bad, God knows! And if the accused racist had good intentions, He knows that too! The avenger in the heavens, as Voltaire phrased it, is ready to deliver his righteous fury.
Consider the possibility that belief in God restrained Liberals from doing too much “good” in the name of moral virtue, and shamed those who “sounded the trumpets before them” as in Matthew 6:2. A useful creed indeed!
Rosenblatt’s discernment of this remarkable turn may be the most valuable contribution of the book, yet she does not emphasize it. In fact, she discusses liberalism’s treatment of religion in bits and pieces, scattered throughout the text for the reader to assemble for herself. The upshot of these disconnected observations is that one of liberalism’s greatest successes was to domesticate Christianity, very cleverly, to make it safe for liberal politics. Instead of violently confronting Christian believers, or co-opting Christian figures (tactics that had been tried throughout history by Roman emperors, medieval kings, Enlightenment democrats, and countless others), liberalism colonized Christianity itself.
Bingo! I don’t know that modern Christianity’s essence would be all that recognizable to Christians a thousand years ago because of this colonization. Certainly many of the rituals and catechisms would be recognizable. In fact, as I study Catholicism I am surprised by how little has changed, in that respect. But step outside the trappings of the faith for a moment and look at it from a cultural perspective.
I read a piece many years ago which I tried very hard to find today, but failed. Nonetheless, perhaps a reader of mine may have more success. It was about a historian studying the Black Madonna in France. He discussed the Christianity that created it. How Christ as a baby was wise, but harsh. This wasn’t a happy child, this was the child with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Madonna was a hard woman, focused. Brave. The culture of the time was forged in dirt, grime, and war. Their Christianity was illiberal. The Madonna of later periods was soft, the baby Jesus more child-like (though never fully so). The resilience and hardness was lost. In the end, the historian, who had been contemplating conversion to Catholicism, decided he did not care much for the softer modern church, though he noted the older church might have won him over.
I don’t know how true it really is, as it was one man’s anecdote (though the style changes of the Madonna over time lends itself somewhat to his position) and in this portion I am rambling a bit. But again, it strikes me as plausible that the form of nascent Liberalism present during the Enlightenment did indeed colonize Christianity, and to some extent change its essence in some fashion.
But one group of liberals deliberately set out to remake Christianity from within by developing a radical, new theology, new interpretations of scripture, new publications, and new churches. They succeeded remarkably in gaining adherents. Instead of trying to convert people overnight from Catholicism or orthodox Protestantism to secular humanism and its “pure light of reason” (as French historian Edgar Quinet called it), political liberals used liberal Protestantism as a halfway point from which to pry Christians away from dogma.
Now I don’t know how much of this occurred in Voltaire’s time, but this is definitely true of modern Liberalism, which has overridden tradition and dogma in many churches, including some particularly noteworthy examples like openly gay bishops and pro-abortion views from some churches (here’s an example).
The novelty of the liberal approach was the way it changed the Church from within, via its theology. Today’s young Christians practice what sociologist Christian Smith has described as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” a faith whose history stretches back to the French and German thinkers of the early liberal movement. They developed a new method to bring Christianity to heel and shore up liberal politics, simultaneously.
I’ve spoken on this matter before. Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is a very watered down descendant of Christianity, though not really a form of Christianity itself. Consider it as an intermediate stage between fedora-equipped “brights” and skin-suited churches like the mainline Episcopalians.
They retained the parts of Christianity that spurred people to improve themselves and inculcate civic virtues, but sheared off the strong doctrinal claims that divided society and relativized the state’s authority. They wanted a religion that fitted their practical, political aims. The German Johann Semler coined the term “liberal theology” in 1774 to describe a way of reading the Bible that persuaded him (and other scholars) that Christianity’s core was moral, not dogmatic.
Here is where this piece connects to the first fisk. You see, from dogma – and my instruction in Catholicism – I have clearly-outlined duties, and there are clearly-outlined consequences for failing in them. There is a success condition, and repentance, and forgiveness. Modern Liberalism lacks all of these mechanisms. The White Fragility author talks of microaggressions as if they were grave offenses. Why? Because she lacks a success condition. She must always find new and ever more granular expressions of racism, because she has no defined success condition, nor does she appear to desire one (consciously, anyway).
The accused are guilty, and they are always guilty, and they can never not be guilty. There is no forgiveness. Repentance doesn’t matter, because your intentions don’t matter. Her desired definition for racism is, in effect, Original Sin, except lacking all of the dogmatic success conditions upon which your sins can be forgiven, and you can be made whole. She wants to define the word racism this way. But you can find similar arguments on sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc…
There is no set of duties to absolve you of the guilt. The guilt is forever, and constant, and neither your intentions (which are dismissed as irrelevant) nor your actions (you’re still subconsciously racist) absolve you.
What was designed as a political-theological project to modernize religion and moderate democratic politics has proven to be exceedingly fragile. The liberal political settlement is rapidly fraying, and its theological component has collapsed.
One can easily sympathize with Rosenblatt’s anxiety over the future of the liberal project, which once seemed so promising. However, because she overlooks the most important implications of her work, she misdiagnoses the root cause of the failure of liberalism: its rejection of the kind of Christianity on which it depends. From its earliest days, some of its strongest proponents have recognized that liberalism on its own lacks the resources to form the kind of citizens it requires.
Voltaire was wise enough to understand that, whatever his belief system really was at its core, he still needed God at some level. Humanity still needed God. Nietzsche told us that God was dead, and by implication, that it was the Enlightenment that killed Him. For one, I believe God is still there, but even independent of that thought, the first wave of the Enlightenment did not try such a deed. That was for the successors in the Liberal tradition to attempt.
And where they have succeeded, where they have stripped away the divine, removed dogma, and destroyed the success conditions upon our moral duties, they have left us with only an invented moral preening, a virtue signalling so bereft of meaning and utility it must openly rewrite our very own language to disguise its nature as futile nonsense. It features no redemption, no hope of success. Ray Bradbury warned us of the Autumn People, that they would “frenzy forth”, and now I take his meaning. They have no purpose but to signal their status, but in this they whip themselves into a frenzy. Cut those racist dreadlocks, white boy. You are guilty. We need no trial, no defense. Only the accusation ever mattered, and even there, the intent is meaningless.
One SJW explained that Elon Musk was a racist because he launched his car into space and didn’t spend the money on Flint’s water supply, as if it was his duty to attend to such matters, and not that of another, like say the duly elected government charged with the job. Why could she make such an absurd claim, and why would it stick with many Lefties? Because they have no success condition, no list of moral duties, nothing to benchmark anything against. Only accusations, which are proof of guilt, matter at all.
You, dear reader, did you donate all of your wealth to some Liberal political cause? No? You are guilty! All it takes is one accusation!
Sound your moral trumpets before you, for surely you are holier than thou, yes?
Ask a modern Liberal: “what duties must I fulfill, upon which I may be judged as having satisfied my moral responsibility?” Most will respond with vague platitudes. Save the world from Climate Change (I can’t do this, supposing their notion of what this means is even true), end racism (they told me this can categorically never happen), etc, etc… Their lack of dogma leads them to wander a twisted moral landscape with no compass, no grounding, until they are spouting absurdities about tri-gender gay 3 year olds, because somebody, somewhere, accused someone who was against it of unforgivable sin. Remember, only the accusation matters.
Liberalism disconnected with Christianity over time. And the more it did so, the more it lost that grounding. Almost none of it remains today. As such, we are all sinners – that is the one point which survived the ideological culling – but there is no redemption to be had. The guilt is forever, racist.
The misery of such an existence is hard to fathom. For the first time in a long time, I almost pity them.