The Trap of Perfection

Stepping away from the blatantly political for a time has already proven healthy. This morning, an aphorism entered my brain which, in turn, inspired a whole lot of thinking.

Some people demand absolute perfection of all others, but possess no desire for self-improvement.

I’m sure someone else has said similar at some point in time, but nonetheless the thought was inspiring for its completeness. When discussing politics with most people, exceptions are often brought to the table as if they somehow disprove the original assertion. For instance, one might say that a free market solution to healthcare is wrong, because one individual in certain extenuating circumstances might receive inferior care. The imperfection is then championed, weaponized empathy is applied to it, and soon the media talking heads ponder why Republicans want to push granny off a cliff.

Forget the political side of this for a moment and focus on what the real underlying message is. This is imperfect, says the academic, and since it is imperfect it must be discarded.

This same brand of thinking is what leads to excessive legal wrangling over minute issues of grammar. Second amendment opponents will drive themselves into conniption fits over the position of a comma. The point, the spirit of the law, sails right over their heads. They are consumed by a search for perfection, for an absolute set of principles that governs all human interaction without the slightest deviation.

In other words, they demand perfection from all others, while celebrating their own victimhood and eschewing self-improvement.

Those of us with a modicum of sense have long made peace with the fact that anything involving humans is going to lack perfection. The presence of perfection in anything short of the divine is, in fact, prima facie evidence of error. It cannot be perfect, thus either someone is mistaken, or is deceiving you. Demands for perfection should be scoffed at. One may as well demand flying pink unicorns, for all the good it will do.

In this way, academics and media talking heads are prone to treating people as some kind of scientific experiment. The Scientific Method provides us with a situation where a counter-example is proof of error. If, for instance, I were to dispute the claim that, in a vacuum a feather would fall at the same speed as a hammer, one counter-example would prove me wrong. Both were brought to the moon as a sort of amusing demonstration, of course:

With humans, however, it does not work this way. And this is a key problem with the way academics are prone to thinking. If a counter-example is found to disfavored public policy, wrongthink, or politically incorrect thought, that example is deemed sufficient to disprove the theory. If one person suffers because, say, Obamacare is repealed, then it is proof that Obamacare was good, and free market healthcare is bad.

I feel like I’m stating the obvious here, but humans are not feathers and hammers. Conduct your experiment with another set of humans, and you may get an entirely different set of results. These people are committing a category error long before their favored political positions are even properly formed.

The thing to note about folks who think this way is that they rarely reflect inward. They are quick to criticize the imperfections of others, but are loathe to look at themselves under a similar microscope. This is how you can get folks who complain about greedy capitalists, and yet are caught with their hands in the cookie jar, stealing money for themselves. You would think that someone obsessed with perfection would start with himself, but alas, it is rarely so.

Human perfection is impossible, short of divine intervention. And whatever else academics might believe, they are certainly not gods. Hell, even the Greek gods had less personal problems than they do.

Discovering Truth

One thing that has become clear to me over the years is that people can reason themselves in and out of pretty much anything. Evidence can be provided for just about any assertion, no matter how ludicrous, and debunking it can lead to an endless rabbit hole of argument and counter-argument that never resolves much of anything. You can test this by googling just about any idiotic idea, and mountains of “evidence” will be found to support it.

So how does a man determine what is true, or at least more likely to be true?

Scott Adams has an excellent method for sifting through bullshit quickly and efficiently. He provides a list of common methods of discovering the truth:

  1. Personal Experience
  2. Experience of People You Know
  3. Experts
  4. Scientific Studies
  5. Common Sense
  6. Pattern Recognition

Note that each one of these methods contain serious problems if used alone. For instance, personal experience can be narrow and subject to confirmation bias. Experts may lie to you, or be a member of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Intellectual Yet Idiot class. Scientific studies can be twisted, or could be outright fabrications. Common sense, which I actually liken to basic logical consistency, can be wrong on the basis of flawed assumptions.

So a good bullshit filter is taking the list as a whole. A lie will not pass all 6 items. Neither is it likely to even pass a majority of them. Studies and experts may, for instance, tell you that Islam is a religion of peace. But common sense, pattern recognition, and the experiences of people you know would tend to counter the assertion. Where one contradicts another, resolution must be made.  If your experience and the experiences of people you know contradict the experts, who do you trust? In that case, I look for a motivation for the expert to lie (like, say, grant money for Climate Change researchers). If I find a blatant conflict of interest, I will usually dismiss the expert opinion on the basis of the other evidence. If I don’t, perhaps I need to reevaluate why my experiences and those of folks I know are different. Maybe there is another factor at work.

Some time ago, I explained that Francis once changed my mind in a big way on an important issue. At the time, I considered mortgage debt to be generally good. After all, experts claimed that it was good debt, studies showed that holders of mortgage debt did better than their fellows, and common sense generally appeared to favor home ownership (I later understood that it didn’t, per se). The experiences of people I knew were good, and I recognized the pattern that homeowners were generally better off than their fellows. Everything lined up for this, right?

Except it didn’t. My personal experience went south in a hurry. And in 2008, the experiences of people I knew turned sour as well. And when I went back and thought about it a little more, even common sense (in line with what Francis originally wrote) suggested that being exceedingly careful with debt was the wiser course. The experts, of course, changed their tune pretty quick, for a while. But one of the things which turned me off to media talking heads and anointed experts was precisely how quickly they turned, backpedaled, and pretended their earlier assertions had never even existed. After that debacle, I’ve been a lot more skeptical of their class.

Point is, when I reran the assertion through the bullshit filter, I became convinced that Francis was right, and I had been wrong.

But you must be very careful with the tool. Some time ago, I had a self-admitted Marxist attempt to convince me that the red states were economically backward, and that the quasi-Socialist policies of the blue states had created economic gains relative to their backward right-wing brethren. He cited some experts that were criticizing Kansas, and some others who were criticizing the South.

Interestingly enough, I am a well-traveled man, at least with respect to the lower 48 states. Having just returned from a trip to Philadelphia, the evidence of my own eyes immediately contradicted the Marxist’s assertions. Most of Philly was terrible. Outside the downtown core, it looked like a bomb went off. Hiroshima probably looked more attractive after it was nuked. And even in the urban core, the sidewalks smelled like piss, there were cops on every corner, and the black panthers were demonstrating right across from City Hall, in an effort to get an Islamic terrorist freed.

The evidence of my own eyes did not show me a fountain of prosperity for Philadelphia. Nor have my travels to other northern cities shown me likewise. Now, one might say that Miami and Atlanta are bad too, and that perhaps this is a trait of big cities, not something unique to the blue states. But even the worst areas of Atlanta and Miami were better than most of Philadelphia. It was that bad.

Nor, I should note, do my friends who live in Chicago and Detroit say any better about those places. Oh sure, each has a limousine liberal urban core. But outside of that, they are all cesspits. And I lived in Los Angeles long enough to know that it is nearly as bad as Philly. No, the blue states don’t get to claim economic superiority, regardless of what GDP numbers say. There is something terribly wrong with blue state cities. And if some red state cities have a similar disease, it certainly isn’t anywhere near as bad.

So the experts can make their claims all day long. I’m not buying it, no matter how well they present their case.

Folks these days put too much stock in some items of the bullshit filter, and not enough stock in others. Where personal experience contradicts the experts, where common sense and pattern recognition contradict the studies, a resolution must be made. Most people would have you rely on the experts and the studies more heavily. But over time, I’ve come to favor personal experience at least as much.

Winston said it properly in Nineteen Eighty-Four:

The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right. The obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended. Truisms are true, hold on to that! The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall towards the earth’s centre.

To this day, this remains one of my most frequent citations. Buried in this is a central truth about many ideologies that have been peddled throughout history: they assert the primacy of another’s view over the evidence of your eyes and ears. Once trained to dismiss this, a man might be made to spout any kind of absurdity.

Leftists often assert that the Rightist has a closed mind. But it is the Left that commands us to ignore what we see and hear, and to spout only pre-approved views, without question or critique. Their notion of an open mind is actually a controlled mind. Skip the bullshit filter, believe what you are told, obey.

No thanks. I’ll run everything through the bullshit filter, thank you very much.

A Divine Fate

So much of political thought boils down to a very ancient question, one that was never satisfactorily resolved: does man possess free will? Does fate exist? And if it exists, can it be altered?

We talk of concepts like the inevitable progression of history, and the primacy of the poll numbers, and changing demographics, as if such things are fate. “The numbers don’t lie,” we say.

But do they? Can they?

There is a quote from the movie Gattaca (an excellent film, by the way), that touches on this.

“No one exceeds their potential, it simply means that we didn’t accurately gauge their potential in the first place.”

Is human potential measurable in any real sense to begin with? Can we quantify it? And if not, why can’t we?

One of the appeals of religion is that it tries to answer this question, where the numbers fail to explain it. Most religions look at the soul as a piece of the divine, as something supernatural, tied to this world, perhaps, through the human form, but not of this world, and thus not bound by its rules. Not measurable. The numbers cannot comment on the divine.

And in that, they create an out. An exit, as it were, from the idea that everything is fate, that everything was meant to happen according to natural laws of the universe. A part of man is not part of this universe, and thus not bound by its rules. And it is precisely this part that can defy fate.

Faust & Sterility

I’m a weird mood today. Too much time in front of the computer fried the brain, maybe. So pardon me, this’ll be odd, even by my standards.

If you know the story of Faust, you might understand the analogy of the Faustian man, one who is bent on attaining rational knowledge at any cost, even that of his own soul.

Modernity is, in some ways, a sort of Faustian bargain. Rational thought has granted us tremendous powers over nature as a species. But, like Faust, have we sold our souls in order to achieve this?

One of my frequent criticisms of Socialism is its prioritization of rationality above all, as if humans were rational beings, and that a collective of humans would thus, likewise, be rational. Frequently, I find this is not the case. Human beings do not act in such a way as to make a thing like Socialism work.

It may be that a farmer must farm, so that many may eat. This is rational. But perhaps he doesn’t like farming. Perhaps he is not motivated to farm. Perhaps he doesn’t like parting with his crops. Many reasons may circulate in his cranium as to why he simply doesn’t want to do it. Capitalism is agnostic about this. If the farmer doesn’t want to farm, he goes bankrupt and loses the farm. Another comes to replace him. But Socialism must punish the person. There is no mechanism in place to automatically cut him off. And to punish him, you must breed resentment in him. Enough resentment from enough people, and your regime falls apart. Or you could just kill him for being uncooperative. That, of course, carries its own set of problems, both moral and practical.

Our leaders are invariably Faustians when it comes to humanity. They have it in their heads that humans can be manipulated in the same fashion as one might build a computer, or an automobile. That they might be steered toward a correct, and fully rational, materialist position.

This is, ironically, irrational. As all available evidence suggests humanity will stubbornly refuse this, regardless of whether or not the idea is wise.

But the Faustian nature of our Academics and Politicians creates a stubbornness in them, too. It is their nature to keep trying, regardless of the myriad failures the attempts continue to produce, because humanity must be made to behave according to rational laws.

Oddly enough, the principles they desire can, and frequently do, work in small enough groups. A family can be quasi-Socialist in its internal affairs. A village of Amish folks can be likewise. So it is even more insidious. Why, they ask, aren’t these ideas working on a large scale, when they are so beautifully perfect on a small scale?

Humans are well adapted to small groups. They will, over time, naturally gravitate toward a balanced use of their talents and abilities. And their compatriots will be generally supportive and reasonable. But this is because, in small groups, a man can know another at a deep, almost spiritual level.

Modernity has deprived us of knowing others at this level, often times. And without that knowledge, the system that works so well on a small scale utterly breaks down on a larger scale. But as Faust sold his soul to the Devil, for he knew and cared little for it, our leaders don’t account for the soul, or the spirit. It is religious mumbo-jumbo to them, the idle fancy of sky wizard priests and men in funny robes and hats. They can’t see it, they can’t account for it in the laws of nature, and so it is dismissed as if it weren’t even there.

Deprived of this variable in their calculations, they are surprised to discover that the equation doesn’t balance out. The two sides are not equal.

Artificial sterility is a sort of byproduct of this. How many folks truly pour their heart and soul into their work anymore? So everything is perfectly calculated, precise, and rational, but contains no spirit, or essence. So many people these days complain about feeling empty. Perhaps this is where the feeling originates.

Either way, humans are not well-equipped to handle things in the modern world, with its tremendous volume of people. The largest cities of antiquity would be dwarfed by a smallish one today. And all of our leaders think they are Hari Seldons, one step from developing the Psychohistory that will finally give rational meaning to human existence.

Me? I think human stubbornness is a reflection of our souls, our spirits, and regardless of where that soul comes from, or how it comes to be, humanity will always resist the Faustian bargain at some level. All else in the natural world might be made to serve man, wholly and completely, except his fellow man.

The Weight of the World

Taking responsibility is part of being a man. It’s an age old axiom. When a man fails, when he screws up, it behooves him to admit his failure and to endeavor to repair it, if he is able.

But no man is responsible for another. To steal a concept from Francis, if Jones commits a crime, and Smith does not, how can Smith be held responsible, even in part, for the crime of Jones?

Yet generalities exist to muddy the waters for us. Islam has proven itself to be more militant and prone to terrorism than any other modern religion (unless we were to call Marxism a religion). Islam has always had bloody borders, and the religion has changed little since the seventh century. Clear answers to questions like these are often difficult, and can lead to excessive moralizing.

Excessive moralizing is one of the greatest sins of our age, for Smith is made to question his own culpability in the crimes of Jones. If both Smith and Jones share a skin tone, and Jones has done some evil deed, what is Smith’s share in the deed? What if Smith tried his best to stop Jones from committing his crime?

Today, having white skin often means being held as somehow generally responsible for the ills of Indians, Black folks, the sufferings of the Jews, and so on. Yet, like Smith, most of us have not done these things, nor would countenance them. Additionally, many of our ancestors fought to prevent such things. If you account men who fought the Nazis among your ancestors, how could the deeds of the Nazis be weighed against you?

Social Justice Warriors, of course, do not care. You are white, thus the crimes of Jones fall upon you, and you are advised that you must take responsibility for them. You must pay the weregild, you must give up your success and step aside, you must bear Jones’s punishment too. Some fools even suggest that reading to your own children is unfair to other children, for it gives them a leg up in the world.

Such punishments can include your own death, and that of your entire civilization. It is not difficult to find SJWs musing on the utopian world that would come to pass should white Christian males be made extinct. Indeed, Huffington Post publishes columnists who argue that they should be deprived of the vote, so that it may be made easier to “redistribute” their wealth (oddly enough, this was a hoax, and HuffPo fell for it – wishful thinking, perhaps?). #KillAllMen, of course, is also acceptable and amenable to the SJW authorities.

If you dare to complain, you are tarred as racist scum. Carry the burden of another man’s sin, in addition to your own. Suffer the punishments for another man’s mistakes, in addition to your own. You are supposed to check your privilege every moment of every day. When a progressive feminist speaks, you are to be silent and listen. Good allies should be seen, and not heard. They are not shy about this, as the aforementioned article explains:

As McKenzie puts it, “Shut up and listen.”

As someone striving to be an ally, the most important thing we can do is listen to as many voices of those we’re allying ourselves with as possible…

…Sure, your privilege may afford you the spotlight sometimes, and there are times when you can use that spotlight to talk to people who share your identity (see #8), but whenever possible, allies turn that spotlight away from themselves and to the voices that are so often marginalized and ignored.

Being a supposed ally means nothing to them. It neither alleviates your guilt, nor mitigates the punishments due to you for the supposed crimes of Jones. Being a proper progressive doesn’t mean you won’t get stabbed on a train for being a chump.

Talk to a Leftist, and he will complain that dead people who looked vaguely similar to you perpetrated horrific crimes against humanity (while ignoring similar crimes perpetuated by people who didn’t look much like you). The Trail of Tears was your fault, so was slavery, the Holocaust, colonialism, why Somalia sucks today, and why it sucked 500 years ago, and why an overweight lesbian couldn’t get a taxi cab in Manhattan at 4 in the afternoon on a Friday – whatever. It’s all your fault. Carry the sins, accept the punishment, give up your wealth (there was a hashtag running around social media some time ago called #GiveYourMoneyToWomen), shut up and stay in your lane.

Christ could carry the weight of the world, the plethora of sins committed by mankind. I, however, am unable to do so. I’m just a man, a regular Joe. I work, I pay my taxes (I’d rather not, but it’s not like the IRS gives us a choice in the matter), I have a family, same as any other. I screw up a lot, and the weight of my own responsibilities is, on occasion, rather crushing on its own. I am not Atlas, and SJWs can sit there and try to put the weight of the world on my shoulders, but it’ll never work. It’ll never do any good.

Folks, I don’t know how much of your thinking has been wasted on the matter of social justice and progressivism. A good man might ask himself if, perhaps, he really ought to carry these chains, if you are Jacob Marley to their Ebenezer Scrooge. But the question is moot to begin with. You can’t carry these chains, whether you wanted to or not. They are too big for you. They will destroy you. When you look into the face of an SJW, you are seeing someone who was already destroyed by this weight. Their psyches cracked under the pressure. They are no longer sane, or even themselves. It is almost like they are all possessed.

images

This man is broken. The woman next to him is damaged, also.

You see this sort of smug, superior grin in the face of an SJW. But behind it is utter madness. These are broken people, whose actions are no longer rational in any sense. Some can only gain satisfaction from submission, from emotional and intellectual (and sometimes physical) masochism and self-flagellation. Some can’t even gain it from that, anymore. Some have surrendered completely to animus possession. These people are no longer free-thinking individuals, capable of making decisions. They are, rather, individuals who have completely lost touch with reality. Unable to cope with the weight of the world, they seek to unload it on others. It’s your fault, not theirs. Nothing is their fault, they are perfect, you are to blame for everything.

897

Animus Possession gone completely off the rails. This woman hates you for existing. Everything bad in the world is your fault, because you exist.

Underneath it all, of course, they hate themselves. This has given rise to people who say things like “I won’t have children, because they would be white.” Or other folks, like Rachel Dolezal and Shaun King, who desperately wish to be black, perhaps because they could escape the weight of the world by identifying with the oppressed instead of the oppressor.

Weaponized Empathy has destroyed these people, body and soul. They mutilate themselves, hate themselves, rail against the very society that created them, and then seek to unload their shame and self-loathing on to others. Look at this before-and-after comparison of the woman who was punched in the face, while trying to hit Trump supporters with a wine bottle:

tye

This woman made a mess of herself.

This is what happens to people who try to carry more mental weight than they can handle. A man who does this will be destroyed utterly. It causes you to question your worth as an individual, and once you have deemed yourself worthless, it is easy to do as these people have done. Now it doesn’t matter if you degrade yourself, objectify yourself, attack people, and destroy lives.

Nothing else matters except some short-term pleasure, just a bit of petty satisfaction at attacking an easy target. And then the target decides to fight back, depriving you of even that pleasure.

In some way, I pity the SJWs.

I’m going to be very real with you for a moment, and take off my hat has a blogger, an author, and whatever else I may be, and just speak to you as a man.

This could have been me.

Does that surprise you? There was a time I skirted so close to falling under this spell, it would shock you. I felt the guilt, the social pressure, the desire for conformity. Despite the terrible weight such ideology carries on the mind, it is absurdly easy to fall into it. Every day we are assaulted by the agitprop. It is so easy to just say “yes, it’s all my fault, I will submit and obey.”

It will bring momentary relief, because you will no longer have to fight a narrative that is bombarded upon you 24 hours a day. That mental effort is, itself, rather exhausting on the mind. But if you accept the chains, that is a far greater weight, one that will destroy you. The chains are seductive. They call, because of the enormous weight of social power behind them.

The pressure is both great and subtle. Imagine a conversation about the weather, innocent enough on its own. A friend might say “wow, that global warming sure is kicking in today!” You’ve a few choices here. You can challenge him, but the immediate counter is likely to be something like “well, 99% of scientists agree, sooooo….” The implication, of course, is that you are stupid for disagreeing with 99% of scientists (whether or not there is any truth to that claim, either). You could remain silent because it’s easier. Or you could just give in, regardless of the truth of the matter, because it’s easiest. Meanwhile, if you counter your friend successfully, you may be down a friend by the end of the night.

So whether or not a lot of folks believe this thing, soon consensus is reached, as much to peer pressure as anything else. Then it is, further, easier to agree on welfare, tax policy, affirmative action, black lives matter, social justice, etc… Each one has a superficial rhetorical argument which sounds nice, and which has enormous media programming and social pressure behind it.

A thousand such chats happen every day, both in the real world, and the social media world. The sum total of which is designed to move you, via peer pressure and Weaponized Empathy, toward self-hatred, and intense personal guilt for things which you neither did, nor were capable of preventing.

Soon a man might find himself agreeing with lunatic propositions that all Republicans are literal Nazis, and Donald Trump is worse than Hitler because… well, nobody really knows the reasons.

Submission is always the easier short-term choice. Long-term, however, it just destroys a man’s soul. Sooner or later he’s just a meat puppet. And who might he be a meat puppet for? Who pulls his strings?

Here’s one:

chelsea

Tom Kratman’s Class Ones, self-centered and semi-incompetent oligarchs, run the show. They are the ultimate beneficiaries of all this. The Clintons and other corrupt political dynasties. A handful of Leftist executives and corporate cronies are also among them. Celebrities, media talking heads, etc…

They talk out of their asses, and wrap themselves up in flags, but they believe in nothing. You think Chelsea Clinton gives a fig about a black thug shot by a cop? You think she cares about the plight of an illegal Mexican family, crossing into the country?

No. Deep down, I doubt even the SJWs really believe this. But it doesn’t matter. They have been destroyed by the weight of the world, conveniently offloaded by politicians and leaders around the world onto hapless people who are incapable of carrying such moral weight. It’s never a Clinton’s fault, after all.

It’s your fault. Or, perhaps, some semi-anonymous Islamophobic videographer. Whatever.

Look, I’m fond of saying that I’m just a regular guy. And there’s a reason for that. There are some very strong-willed, intelligent people out there who can resist this agitprop and social pressure without much effort. For some, it is easy to shrug it off and pay no mind to it. But that’s not most folks. Marxists are great psychological manipulators. It is their one great talent, and it is enough that it nearly makes up for all their other intellectual shortcomings, which are legion. Most folks are vulnerable, at some level.

And resisting psychological manipulation is not easy for most people. It’s not enough to just say “don’t be brainwashed.” Folks need to know how the brainwashing works, how it can be identified and resisted, how you can avoid going down the path that leads to people who can’t even figure out what gender they want to be, or what ethnicity they are, or what pronoun they feel like using today. These are people who can’t even say “hey man, how’s it going” without being triggered. They are constantly on the look out for the most minor of violations against the political narrative, their entire mind, body, and soul hijacked to serve political figures who care nothing for them (indeed, who probably laugh at their gullibility behind closed doors).

You owe them nothing. You aren’t responsible for the crimes of the world, except those in which you have directly and willingly participated. Anyone, and I do mean anyone who says otherwise is attempting to manipulate you, and place chains upon you. It is, often times, difficult to resist the allure of just giving up the fight. It’s so much easier to throw in the towel, and jump when someone else tells you to. When damn near everyone accuses you of something, to just say “yes, I’m guilty.”

But you can’t. I can’t. And even if I could make such a choice for myself, I cannot make it for my family, for my country, for my civilization.

You are not Atlas, and you do not need to suffer his punishment. You are not Christ, and you will never be morally perfect, and can never carry the weight of another’s sins (you will have enough trouble with your own).

The Problem isn’t the Deity. The Problem is the Priests.

Many years ago, I wrote a short story about the fading of the rational world, and its replacement with the mystical. It wasn’t very well written, and to some extent I still think I am lousy at writing fiction. But the premise was a fascinating one. I would like to revisit it someday.

Anyway, the concept was that, long after a nuclear war, knowledge of the rational world was failing, becoming piecemeal and quasi-mystical. And that the universe itself bent to this notion, that humanity’s collective experience was sufficient to change the natural laws of the universe. In simple terms, the Earth was becoming a magical place. The protagonists were on a mission to find the nearly-completed spacecraft from a pre-war colonization project.

They leave just in time, escaping a fantastical Earth into the “rational” universe. When their descendants return to Earth, generations later, they find no evidence humans had ever been there at all. The two worlds — the fantastical and the rational — had split off and become inaccessible to one another. It was a play on the nature of subjectivity versus objectivity, of Free Will and Fatalism.

In any event, the recent terror attacks reminded me of this old story, and a fundamental problem at the core of how we view Islam, terror, and the war we are fighting against both. This is a war in which you have already been drafted. The enemy always gets a vote…

People say “not all Muslims” and “Islam is a religion of peace.” They prattle on about the peaceful, moderate Muslims. They will tell you of Muslim friends, or Muslim coworkers, and how great they are. The fact is, they aren’t wrong. Such Muslims exist, presumably in large numbers, even. On the other side, we discuss how terror attacks are, almost invariably, perpetrated by Muslims. The question is not if another Muslim terror attack will happen, it is merely when, and how many bodies will be produced. We talk about history, how violent Jihad destroyed the old Roman world, how Islam has perpetually had bloody borders and genocidal madmen at the fore. The fact is, this is true too.

You see, the problem isn’t the deity. The problem is the priests.

Theoretically, Allah is one and the same with the God of Moses and the father of Jesus Christ. Oh, certainly there are differences (the divinity of Christ being a big one). But still, we are supposedly worshiping the same entity, right? Why, then, all the hate between the intellectual descendants of Abraham? For one, Mohammed as illustrated in the Quran and, more appropriately, the Hadiths, was a violent, megalomaniac of a warlord.

Robert Spencer, of course, wonders if a warlord named Mohammed even existed in the first place. The Hadiths are not attested before the beginning of the eighth century. The Quran only partially so, and with clear transcription errors. We cannot know with certainty who Mohammed was, what he did, or if anything written about him is true at all. In simple terms, the leaders of the Islamic world could have fabricated him out of whole cloth, or twisted him to fit an agenda of their own making. We wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

Regardless of the existence or non-existence of Mohammed himself, the word of his priests, the religious leaders of Islam, is clear: conquest and subjugation in the name of Islam. This is not a religion of peace, as is assumed, but a religion of submission — the denial of the Thomist notion of Free Will.

Perhaps, if they chose to, the priesthood of Islam, such that it is, could interpret it differently. But it steadfastly refuses to do so. And when one or another rogue reformer in the Islamic world suggests they ought to (see the Bahais and the Ahmadis) the rest of Islam tries to murder them.

The problem isn’t the people. The problem is the priests.

Imagine if nearly every Christian churchman was an intellectual disciple of the Westboro Baptists. That’s the reality of the Islamic world. Whether or not the man herding goats in the Sudan is our enemy is irrelevant. He has no power. His opinion of us is meaningless. Moderate Islam, such that exists, has no voice, no power.

And in the Muslim world, like the fantastical setting of my short story, subjective experience is reality. When a warrior loses a battle, he thinks his loss is punishment. He was insufficiently devout. He must dedicate himself more to Allah, such that next time God will grant that his bullets fly true and smite the unbelievers. So the imam comes, and tells him to follow the example of Islam set forth in the Hadiths. Then the Great Satan will be beaten.

The Thomist notion of God, that of a being who set the universe into motion, willed it into being, and then left it to unfold, is completely foreign to Islam. There is no Free Will in Islam, save for the choice to submit or die.

Such peaceful, moderate Muslims that exist are Muslims who, like many Christians, are not particularly devout. They do not think about the Quran constantly, or follow the example of Mohammed in the Hadiths. But there is guilt for this, just as there is guilt for the Catholic who rarely attends mass, or the Jew who becomes a secularist. So, on occasion, a previously “moderate” Muslim will find his calling in the exhortations of a radical imam, telling him that he must be more Muslim.

The problem isn’t the prophet. The problem is the priests.

The war between Islam and everybody else predates the founding of the religion. It predates Christianity, Rome, and probably all of written history. The conflict is an ancient one, rooted in the battle between the Fatalists and those who believe in Free Will. It is Freedom against Slavery. Sovereignty versus Submission. Islam clothed itself in the uniform of the Fatalists. It was not the first to do so, and certainly not the last (Marxists wear the uniform, likewise).

From this, you can understand the underpinnings which bind the Social Justice Warriors and Militant Marxists with the Radical Islamists: all believe history has already been written. Everything is predetermined, and everything is predicated on devotion to the cause. The priests, of course, determine precisely what devotion means. They virtue signal, they “educate” their followers on what Allah — or the historical dialectic — desires of them, that they might find Paradise.

In the West, we have a priesthood, also. But this isn’t a priesthood who answers the call of Christ. The priesthood of Marx can be found in the media talking heads, in the ivory towers of academia. Remember, insufficient devotion to Marxism is cause for expulsion. You are a heretic. Or, if you are a right-wing Christian, you are an infidel. Like in Islam, it is permissible to do whatever they want to you.

The problem isn’t bigotry. The problem is the media.

Behind all of this, the Marxists and the Islamists both believe in a sort of subjective utopia, that their devotion is alone sufficient to change the world, to bend reality itself, to change the very laws of the universe. The Muslim fighter believes that Allah will bend the bullet’s path, and smite the infidel. The Social Justice Warrior believes that humanity contains an infinite number of genders, but that race doesn’t exist (it’s a social construct). The Dialectic shall change the very biological nature of mankind himself.

Neitzsche’s ubermensch was really just a fat genderqueer lesbian wolfkin with a cornucopia of mental illnesses. The worst mass murderers in ISIS-controlled Syria are paragons of devotion to Allah, model citizens of the new Caliphate. Both are freedom fighters against the terrifyingly bigoted Christian oppressors of the world.

The problem isn’t Free Will. The problem is Fatalism.

If Free Will doesn’t exist, then there is no point to anything. That is the path to Nihilism, the path to genocide, the path to every ill which humanity has ever conceived of. For, in the end, Fatalism tells you that nothing is really your fault. You have no will. You are a victim of history, a soldier of Allah, a vessel for another power that is not-you. And not-you did the thing.

It is the shifting of blame away from self, it is the destruction of self, the annihilation of purpose. And then, once this terrifying self-destruction has taken place, the priesthood of your Fatalistic belief system of choice will remake you in their chosen image. (How can you have chosen Allah or Marx if you have no Free Will? Answer that one SJWs).

The priests make of you what they will. You are now a vessel for someone else’s beliefs, a tool wiped clean for another’s purpose, a purpose that is not your own. The priest sleeps well at night saying to himself “I didn’t kill anybody, my slave did.” And the slave sleeps well at night thinking “I didn’t kill anybody, I followed my master’s orders.” Yet the killing happened.

That is how the person saying “not all Muslims” and the person saying “Islam is the problem” can be simultaneously correct. Everybody involved thinks there is no choice. The SJW thinks terrorism is just something that happens, like a natural disaster, an act of a God they don’t believe exists. Then they will light a candle and pray to a deity they don’t believe exists either. Hearts will be chalked onto sidewalks, messages of love and peace displayed in empty ritual, as if, like in my story, the very thought will somehow change the fabric of the universe. At least the Christian believes there is probably a God at the other end of the line. The SJW believes nothing exists, yet conducts the ritual anyway, filling some deep-seated human need.

This, in a world without choice, where oppressor and victim are preordained, where original sin is heaped upon a white baby, because somebody who looked vaguely similar once did something evil. But the chosen of God, or Marx, or whatever… they are free of sin. Paradise is for them.

Just as, half a world away, Muslims will cheer the deaths of infidels and those they see as sexual deviants. It will be seen, as with all such things, as the divine wrath of Allah. The terrorist was merely the vessel through which Allah’s will was carried to the Great Satan. The chickens come home to roost. Paradise is coming. The Caliphate will be real, merely because they think it so.

In the world of Fatalism, the problem is always the priests.

Of course, whether or not the priests believe their own material is another topic altogether.

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