Friday, January 24, 2014

Bits and Pieces.

Posting has been light because I've been busy lately.

Firstly, Simon Grey has put up a good post outlining the problems that come with an increase in the popular appeal of the the "New Right". I use the term New Right because there are several different streams of thought within it: some of which are mutually incompatible. The Right needs to realise that while the Left is the natural home of stupid, we have more than our own share who are a dangerous "in house" threat.

The one that worries me the most is the influx of crypo Nazi's.  Now, I'm not using the term Nazi in it's common usage sense, i.e. a name the Left calls someone whom they disagree with, rather in its specific usage, i.e. someone who believes in the ideals of Aryan National Socialism. Nazism and Fascism are Trojan viruses of the Left designed to infect the right. (More on that in another post.) And these knuckleheads are their sympathisers are the ones most likely to cause self destruction of the Right.

Repeat. After. Me. The Nazis are a LEFT wing movement dressed in right wing rhetoric.

As an act of Charity, for those who are still retarded, here is a brief summary of Fascism's intellectual development.


Keep these arseholes at arm's length.

Secondly, Simon takes me to task over my post, Peak Democracy. I like Simon. He is a good writer, thinker and a worthy critic.  However, I think he is wrong in this instance. He writes;
Incorrect. The elections in America are definitely not free, as universal franchise doesn’t exist.  Not all citizens can vote, even among the adults.  They are also not fair, given that non-citizens have been known to vote, dead people have been known vote, imaginary people have been known to vote, and even alive citizens have been known to vote on multiple occasions.  Furthermore, those who are part of the political machine are generally corrupt and usually manipulate the machine to their own ends.
I other words because real world democracy is not perfect our electoral process is not free or fair. Any real world implementation of democracy is always going to have to accept some degree of fraud and dishonesty. The question is, how prevalent is the corruption? In most of the Western Countries, particularly those of the Protestant West, the elections are essentially free and fair. Simon further writes;
Incorrect.  California passed proposition 8 and all the gay marriages were stopped the state Supreme Court overturned the law.  Clearly the voters get exactly what they want every election, and no one ever stands in the way of the people’s will. The unelected officials never subvert the will of the people.
The Right needs to understand that the reason why the Gay agenda is being furthered is because a lot of people have sympathy for the cause. There is grassroots support for the changes across the country if not in California. One of the problems with living in a democracy is that the majority rules no matter how idiotic or repugnant their decisions. The simple fact is that people of California form a minority within the union. There is nothing to see here. It is the normal day to day operation of democracy.

If California doesn't like being a minority in the Union it has two options:

a) Secede. See Civil War. Liberty is ultimately ensured by appeal to arms. Nasty, but it is the way of the world.
b) Agitate to change the constitution through a democratic process and convince the majority. Admittedly hard but realistically doable. Volstead act?  The Left has concentrated on this latter mechanism to further its aims. The Cathedral targets the stupid (which forms the bulk of the electorate) and thus is able to steer the democratic process.  The Right debates (System II*) whilst the Left advertises.(System I*) The Right needs to understand that baleful changes being wrought in our society aren't simply "top down" driven but are "bottom up" supported. Furthermore, Simon writes;
It is not the patriotic mass-man who allows self-interest to bankrupt the country through his participation in a direct democracy, [Ed: My Link] but it is the skinflint businessman or politician who is willing to sell out the mass-man for a short-term gain.  In these modern times, globalism is not championed by the masses, but the elite.
Both the businessman and the people are selling out the country. I rest my case.

Thirdly, apropos the above, Samuel Gregg, a local boy who has made good in the U.S., gives this good talk on Europe's economic and cultural problems, particularly the economic death spiral caused by the embrace between democracy and the Welfare state. It's about an 45 mins long. Interesting stuff at about the 15min mark. Notable quote by the Luxembourg Prime Minister;

"We all know what to do, but we haven't worked out how to get re-elected after we have done it."

Fourthly, something for Aquinas Dad. Song of Songs is a Biblical text with a "problematic" literal interpretation. Allegorisation solves the "problem" by de-eroticising the text. The historical treatment of the text illustrates what I think is a profound problem in the Christian understanding of sexuality. Namely, the incompatibility between the spirit and the flesh. More on this later.

Finally, something arty. Kenneth Branagh does Hamlet. What is a man?

*Refer to Dual Process Theory.


Aquinas Dad said...

I do appreciate the mention!
Song of Songs! Ah, such lovely imagery; the real beauty of ancient Hebrew poetry is so visible there.
And man! has it caused trouble.
I remember reviewing Popes work as an undergrad during an Old Testament class. I don't have a copy anymore (a pity) but I remember it being fairly even-handed.
A lot of the push-back against Origen after his death was about his concepts of exegesis and his statements on the Greatest Canticle were possibly most remembered as controversial. Sure, the use of sexual imagery for Israel/the People of God and their relationship with God are very well known [Hosea, anyone?] and of course sexual imagery is no stranger to the New Testament, either, although a bit less common.
But while Hosea used the image of being married to a whore to represent the actions of the Chosen People, Hosea was *actually married to a whore*.
What gets weird is how common the view of "it is only allegory" was and for how long when "Hosea was actually married to a whore" was seen as so central to the power of Hosea's writings.
Of course, you had guys like Theodore saying 'No, no, no - it is no allegory AT ALL. it is just a love song'
[the paper you linked may be read to imply he was arguing 'it wasn't just an allegory'; his real position was 'there is no allegory there at all'. Subtle, but different].
But the Song of Songs is certainly an excellent example of just how prevalent the error of attempting to separate flesh and spirit [and then tossing in 'and the flesh is baaaaaaad) can be. A terrible error that just shows that Gnosticism is always lurking about.
Personally, I am confident that the Song of Songs is in the canon because it is both a powerful allegory and a good love song. Is physical love within the bounds of sacramental marriage beautiful?
Is it a wonderful allegory for God's love of Man and vice versa?
After all, sacramental marriage is also an interaction with God's grace in a manner shared in no other way. To forget that humans are flesh and spirit as a whole and that sexuality is a gift of God is to really edge up on several rather nasty heresies.
Thanks for tossing that in.

Aquinas Dad said...

Oh -
and thank you for talking about National Socialism clearly.
an actual exchange I had in erson 3-4 weeks ago,
some 19 year old: "You know the Nazis were right-wing extremists just like you!"
Me: "Is that why they insisted that all corporate profits be shared with the poor and needy?"
19 y.o.: "They never did that!"
me: "It is part of their party platform, along with old-age pensions, government-guaranteed universal employment, nationalization of heavy industry and the railroads, confiscation of all war profits, nationalization of all warehouses and storage facilities, and that all property of landlords be seized and given to their tenants free of charge."
19 y.o.: "Really?"
me: "Yes, it was the political platform they ran and won on. It also had provisions for strict gun laws, legalized abortions, and that women have more rights and ability to work outside the home."
19 y.o.: Are you kidding me?"
me: "Let me ask you a question, kid. If you don't know whether this is correct or not why are you calling *anyone* a Nazi?"
I am sometimes tempted to rearrange the 25 points of the Nazi Program go to my local land-grant university with banners, and see how many kids I can get to sign up to join the American Worker's Party before someone figures it out.
But I fear no one would ever figure it out.

The Social Pathologist said...


What gets weird is how common the view of "it is only allegory" was and for how long when "Hosea was actually married to a whore" was seen as so central to the power of Hosea's writings.

The "weirdness" is what needs further elaboration. Why was there such a strong reaction to the literal interpretation of the text? Personally, I think that there is still a lot of "weirdness" about amongst religious circles when it comes to matters of the flesh. (Note, this does not imply that the secular world has got it right.)

Allegorisation brings it's own set of problems. There is always the problem of cognitive bias by the interpreter and what bothers me about the historical treatment of the text is its total de-eroticisation of it. It was as if the words did not have any literal meaning. It's very much akin to the Left Wing's approach to the U.S. Constitution. (I'm a big fan of Scalia.)

A passionate gourment could allergorise SOS as an allegory of the love of man for a delicious meal; as I said before, allegorisation is a very dangerous business.

The text's literal reading is erotic in nature and the Church's downplaying of this worrying. The historical fact of this does lend Nietzsche's charge some legitimacy.

I do think that the text has an allegorical reading--and here I may be bringing my own biases in-but I feel that the traditional reading may have had too much of a Gnostic/Manichean bias. Rather, the passionate love expressed to each party in SOS is akin to erotic love but it is not and should not be confused with erotic love: They are two separate things.

Anonymous said...

Considering the priority placed on contemplation among monastic communities, an allegorical interpretation of the Song of Songs is to be expected. Any earthly attachment whatsoever must be annihilated in order to love God without reservation.


Jason said...

Doctor, I disagree with the idea that the Rightist elements within National Socialism were simply rhetorical – that’s way too simple, and an evasion of the unpleasant truth that Hitler was very able to weave both elements of the Left and of the Right into his very attractive brew. The strong anti-parliamentarian aspect of his ideology, for instance, that democracy is simply a decrepit, weak system of tired, weak men (a belated indictment of the French Revolution, if you will) that avoids making tough decisions and that reeks of compromise with various factions – that is very much a staple idea of the Right. I say this not to make a jab at you or anything like that, but simply to point out that it is perfectly natural that many within the Alternative Right would have sympathy for many of the ideas of Nazism and fascism, for after all there can be a good deal of overlap between the former and the latter. The extensive focus on race and ethnicity that becomes disproportionate and inhumane (vs individuals like Steve Sailer or Charles Murray, who are able to talk about such subjects cautiously and intelligently and not go off the deep end), the anti-Semitism (vs again a legitimate discussion of the excesses of Jewish influence, such as the recent appointment of an assistant chairman of the Fed who has dual citizenship), the hatred for all types of compromise – these are all mentalities that many blog commentators (and a few bloggers, for that matter) share with their twentieth century forefathers.
Anyway, I think Simon is right to suggest that it would be a good idea for bloggers to be more discriminating in what they allow their commentators to say (although I’m puzzled as to why he would appeal to violence as a solution to this, which would not only be wrong but a mistake as Talleyrand would say). Otherwise, I think the movement is just going to degenerate into a lot of nastiness – basically, an echo chamber for wannabe Robespierres who fail to recognize that justice without love is deadly.

The Social Pathologist said...


I don't mind considered criticism at all.

The strong anti-parliamentarian aspect of his ideology, ......that is very much a staple idea of the Right.

Firstly which Right? It certainly wouldn't be a position of the U.S. Right. It was however a position of many European Rightists.

Secondly, Even if you adopt the position that parliamentary democracy is a failure, the totalitarian solution is something foreign to right wing thought.

The thing about the Nazi's is that nested inside their wicked ideology were some valid critiques of society. (some of which were shared by both the Left and the Right) What made them utterly abhorrent were their "solutions" to such problems: solutions which came from the left-wing playbook.

I say this not to make a jab at you or anything like that, but simply to point out that it is perfectly natural that many within the Alternative Right would have sympathy for many of the ideas of Nazism and fascism

I agree, it's an ever present danger. The Nazi ideology is a strong opiate for the weak minds of the Right. Especially those who can't see beyond its superficialities. The Hard Right critics of the Nazi's, in 1930's Germany, were of the opinion that it was a low brow party and a natural home of mass-man.

Otherwise, I think the movement is just going to degenerate into a lot of nastiness – basically, an echo chamber for wannabe Robespierres who fail to recognize that justice without love is deadly.

It is a huge danger and one which the movement needs to be ever vigilant for. I think the Canon is a good idea since it does sort of define "what's in and what's out". The wannabe Nazis needs to be vigorously expelled. This will be more a problem as the movement expands.

As for echo chambers, I hate them. Good critics are worth their weight in gold.

Aquinas Dad said...

Well, you have to look at what the Church was teaching *as a whole* during that period.
Were many contemplatives viewing the Canticle of Canticles wholly as allegory?
Were theologians of the same period writing that men were morally obligated to ensure their wives orgasmed at least once during every sexual act?
Remember, the Church s *big* with a lot of moving parts and a LOT of theologians, priests, monks, etc. and most of us talk a write A LOT. Sure, the Greatest Song may have been isolated for a long time but plenty (*plenty*) of other writers and topics were openly discussing the spirituality of sex within marriage, the importance of pleasure within the marital embrace, etc.
For a key example while some theologians and contemplatives were insisting that the Song of Songs was ONLY AN ALLEGORY the Albigensians were being branded heretics for teaching that sex was inherently evil because it was physical pleasure (yes, there were other teachings in play, but that was one of the teachings condemned).
Does on obviate the other? No, but it does illustrate that the issue was not uniformly thought of within the Church.
Another thing to keep in mind was one of the first things I was taughgt as a Catholic Theologian - the Church tends to only definitively rule on a subject when it is a problem. A bunch of writers discussing essentially between themselves the 'true nature' of the Song of Songs? Meh - it is what theologians do.
A group of people actually teaching that 'the flesh is evil, sex is evil'? That's a problem! We need to stamp that out! And the Church did stamp it out and condemn it as heresy.
There has always been a strain of human thought that despises the physical and wants to 'elevate' the mind and downplay the sexual; it is far from unique to Christianity. Heck, it isn't even unique to *religion*. These strains of thoughts wax and wane over generations in most, if not all, societies. I am more interested in why the larger trends occur even in opposition to current 'accepted thought' than blaming a particular ideology or creed.

Aquinas Dad said...

[re-reading that I must conclude - I have greatly lessened typing and editing skills when fevered]n

The Social Pathologist said...

Well, you have to look at what the Church was teaching *as a whole* during that period.

Agree, and I agree the general tone was hostile to the flesh. Benedict acknowledged the tendencies in his encyclical.

Sometimes I wonder how Eros would have fared in Christianity if it wasn't so intimately linked with procreation.

With regard to the insistence by some theologians that that a woman have orgasm from the sexual act, the question I want to ask is why? Was it because they percieved an orgasm as intrinsic to the form of the act and there a deficiency of it was a privation?

Or, did it come for an understanding of arousal that wanted to be sated? The thing is some women are quite happy with a non-orgasmic coital act. Would your theologian insist on it?

I am more interested in why the larger trends occur even in opposition to current 'accepted thought' than blaming a particular ideology or creed.

So am I. Don't get me wrong. I'm sick of losing to the left and want to start notching up a few goals. My thoughts on the matter have led to the conclusion that the left gained its cultural traction by exploiting several "fault lines" in western culture. Unfortunately, the Church was the predominant cultural influence in Western History and I therefore feel that it bare part of the blame.

Being able to look at the problem fairly and squarely is the first step and then a corrective theology could be developed that goes beyond "60's adolescent progressivism"

Aquinas Dad said...

"With regard to the insistence by some theologians that that a woman have orgasm from the sexual act, the question I want to ask is why? Was it because they percieved an orgasm as intrinsic to the form of the act and there a deficiency of it was a privation? "

It was about 200 years of
"Needed for procreation!"
"No, it isn't!"
etc. until a theologian named (as I recall) Theodorus said,
"It doesn't matter! God would not make an action involved in a sacrament pleasurable for no reason!"
[cue 50 years of "he has a good point"]
Now, it is part of the marital debt to strive to have your partner enjoy the experience. It isn't required if the woman doesn't want it, but we are urged to talk about it.
Remember, a lot of theologians are married so there is a lot of practical discussion. And priestly celibacy has never been universal within the Catholic Church even now (a number of Rites don't require it and never have) so priests and bishops have been speaking from personal experience, as well.
Part of the retreat of the Church over the last 50 years is related to self-examination over failures to lead and openly confront Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. It happens; while the Church cannot actively teach error as the Church individuals are not so protected and there is always the risk of leadership failure.
No matter. The Arian heresy was much larger and lasted much longer - it passed. Gnosticism, the cockroach of heresies, will always scuttle out of dark corners every century or two before retreating back into the shadows.
What a study of history tells me (and that began when I was still an unbaptized heathen) is that every now and then Liberals/Progressives/Modernists leap to rooftops in their shabby coats and begin shouting about how everything is now different; that things that have always worked no longer work; that their own bright ideas are the path to a better future. Oddly enough their bright ideas are always the same - get rid of faith, get rid of family, get rid of honor; get rid of virtue.
Every other century or so people for some reason listen to these scarecrows and some believe them. A few poets and singers repeat it because it makes them famous; a few wealthy people listen because they believe it makes them appear clever; etc. And it spreads a bit.
But the more it spreads and the longer it lasts the worse things get. Eventually Modernism, like all sustainable trends, ends.
We will see.

Tom said...

The Right debates (System II*) whilst the Left advertises.(System I*)

I'm not certain that our base left/right morality is either System I/II. It is what it is, and our System I processing incorporates it automatically, while our System II spends a lot of time justifying what we already feel.

For example, I've yet to meet anyone whose mind has been changed by the intellectual arguments for or against gay marriage. Those who care about having a an intellectual framework for their opinion will create one to justify what they feel.

The movement I have seen on the issue has entirely occurred by appealing to the different components of people's morality (ala Haidt).

Activate people's disgust mechanism, and support for gay marriage goes down, activate their harm reduction morality, and it goes up. Reasoning is simply a sideshow.