Monday, June 25, 2018

Illustrated Political Spectrum: Slumlord's Reality/Temperament Graphs

This is a follow up to the last post.

Sometimes I find it easier to visualise things using drawings.

For a "Man of the Right" what matters is that his beliefs calibrate with reality regardless of his temperament. We can visualise this as follows. If we place conservative/liberal on the X axis and Reality/Non-Reality on the Y axis we would get an illustration as follows.

What we get is a temperament/calibration-to-reality map. Political/ideological/religious beliefs can be expressed as a set of points on this map, however in order for the map not to be impossibly multidimensional we plot particular beliefs only with regard to their relationship to reality.

The reason why I've included that big circle in the middle of the map is dispassionate Spock-like objectivity or depravity is hard. (achievable with some effort though!) It takes a fair amount of temperamental override to cross from one side to the other.

Now, what we do next is take various ideologies and belief systems and map them and what we get is as follows.

What we see by dividing belief systems is that we get clear groupings which fall into the liberal/conservative spectrum and this is how people conventionally think of the terms. This map also illustrates how real world (i.e. Mass-man) politics plays out. Catholic Integralists will absolutely hate Stalinists and Kumbayah Catholics, but will share the political bed with Fascists and Nazi's, and  Kumbayah Catholics will fear the Integralists more than the Trotskyists.

But none of the temperamental stuff really matters, what matters is where you sit on the reality/non-reality axis. And here is where all the interesting stuff in politics happens. If we look at the relationship between Kumbayah Catholics and Transgenderists, they might sit on the same side of the political spectrum but are mortally opposed ideologues. They may be allies of convenience but when time comes they're at each others throats.

This is why I hate the Fascists, it's not because they're the "real" liberals, rather its because they have many beliefs which are non calibrated to reality.

If we look at this graph we'll also see that conservatism is a meaningless term when it comes to reality calibration, since many conservative ideologies have a fair amount of error associated with them. Once again the important point is reality calibration, not temperament.

The Zen point of belief can be expressed by this illustration. Here, regardless of temperament, belief is reality calibrated and this is is what a "Man of the Right" aims for.

*I'm limited in time today so these are really a "back of envelope" illustrations and where I've placed the ideologies is based upon quick convenience rather than deliberation.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Beyond Left and Right: A Reply to Carlsbad 1819

A digression.

NTSS over at his blog Carlsbad 1819 has put up a rather good post, The left-right spectrum put in its proper meaning and context. Initially, I thought I would put up a comment over there but as it ended up being too long I thought I'd make a post of it.  I've got a lot of respect for Nulla and so the the following comments are made in the spirit of honest criticism.

How you frame a question in many ways predetermines the solutions to it.  How does the Left differ from the Right is, in my mind, the wrong question, as it tends forces the mind to concentrate on what are the differences between the two camps with the assumption that any difference between the two is meaningful. Choosing between International Socialism and National Socialism still leaves you with Socialism in the end.

I think that  one of the greatest advances in human anthropology has been the realisation that human rationality is more far more complicated than we first thought. Rationality, still relatively undifferentiated by philosophers,  has been demonstrated to have both an intuitive and deliberative component with intuitive rationality being the default mode of thinking for the majority, even the hi-IQ types.

One of the features of intuitive intelligence is that it tends to be associative in nature, and one of the results of this intuitive approach is the conflation of conservative with Right and liberal with Left. Once we start realise that right/conservative and left/radical catergorisations are associative conflations disentangling things makes things a lot clearer.

The first thing to realise is that conservative and liberal are primarily temperamental types with voting behaviour being strongly linked to personality type.  Numerous studies have show temperamental differences between conservatives and liberals. For example,  Conservatives are high on the neuroticism and purity temperamental traits while liberals are higher on openness and impurity elements. When you start analysing politics through this dual lenses of intuitive rationality and personality type a lot of politics becomes far easier to understand.

Suppose socialism becomes the flavour of the month. The conservative elements in the population are going to be advocating for a more structured, "pure" and orderly version of Socialism while the liberals will vote for its more open liberal variant. Fascism, is quite literally Socialism made for the Conservative temperament.

Likewise, when we talk about the conservative faction of the Communist party--what would superficially appear to be an oxymoron-- we're talking about the personality types that don't want any innovation with regard to communism and stick to the orthodoxy. It is not deliberative reason that's determining the position, it's the temperament. Orwell understood this phenomenon completely. He recognised that "bellyfeel" motivated political orientation more than rationality.

It's not as if this some kind of new insight. If we look at Oakeshott's famous definition of what it means to be Conservative:
"To be conservative ... is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss."
We see that it applies just as equally to political theory as it does to cheese. Anglo Conservatism--with its strong temperamental justification--is largely devoid of any ideological content. It is simply an aesthetic/preferential approach to things rather than an epistemological or metaphysical position. 

This type of conservatism is always going to fail and will drift (in any direction) over time for two reasons. Given it's conservative nature it's unable to initate direction, leaving the initiative to the non-conservative elements in society. Secondly, lacking any fixed ideological or epistemological positions it will eventually move given enough social pressure and habituation. As its own cognitive elements become habituated to the change it becomes to see it as part of "present"-- (Oakeshott was big on this)---and accepts it now as the new tradition.

Therefore it's vital to disentangle the liberal/conservative temperamental dispostional elements from the  epistimological/metaphysical dimension of the Left/Right divide.

Once we get rid of all the purity/hierarchy/preference for order stuff what exactly have we got: What does it mean to be "Right"?

 to this discussion. Once again the Left/Right distinction tends to obscure rather than clarify. Being anti-Left is of no virtue if the resulting positions and beliefs are not calibrated to reality. This is the real danger in defining the Right as the anti-Left, since the it frames the distinction primarily along the lines of the Left and not upon the relationship of its positions with reality: the thing that matters.

As far as I'm concerned the core distinction between Right and Left is where they sit on the realist/anti-realist spectrum. Overlaid upon this are the conservative and liberal temperaments which colour this distinction. What you end up is with the following matrix.

Once we strip the tempramental/dispositional elements from the analysis were left with how the Left and the Right relate to REALITY.


The Right believes in Truth the Left believes in Ideals, no matter how divorced from reality they are.

The thing to remember is that those of a conservative temperament are just as capable of believing in bullshit--i.e. being reality averse--as the most radical leftist and hence these people are also the enemy.  Calibration to reality is the defining feature of the Right, not a laundry list of "preference" options.

The thing is that in real life, given the reality that people are by and large System 1 driven,  people are going to align themselves with others of the same temperament.  Hence we find the strong historical association between trads/integralists/natsocs and libs/socialists/communists. Their union is based upon a superficial bellyfeel analysis rather than cool cognition.  The bulk of humanity, even the eggheads, run with their gut rather than their heads.

The other disadvantage of this doleful state of human affairs is that the intuitive conservatives have more sympathy for those who a conservatives in error rather than liberals in truth. What this means is that statistically Traditionalists are more likely than not to opt for error rather than truth when confronted with a novel situation.  Exhibition 1: Meriol Trevor writes of one of the poster boys of the Traditionalist Catholic Right, Pius X;
Even at the time the Holy Office was forced to examine the morality of the Action Francaise and after long delays reported to the Pope that the movement's moral principles were not compatible with the Catholic faith. In spite of this, Pius X decided not to publish the condemnation. Marc Sangnier, the faithful Catholic democrat, was disowned, but Charles Maurras, the avowed atheist, was allowed immunity. Seldom has political sympathy influenced more clearly a papal act, or refusal to act.
Let that sink in. This champion of Catholic "Orthodoxy" supported a atheist who thought of the Church with contempt while condemning a faithful believer.

This is one of the main reasons why I like to put the hurt on the Trads. I recognise that Traditionalism is a repository for  a lof of truth but what I realise is that for a variety of reasons tradition must be able to be modified or built up in light of the advance in human knowledge in a way that is compatible with the past. Traditionalists completely close this option off, and while liberals, by and large, promulgate error, traditionalists do not allow changes to be affected even if doctrinally or epistimologically sound.

Exhibition 2: Oh, and here's another howler I found just the other day which is quite appropriate given the inane utterances of some U.S. bishops regarding illegal immigration.

Here again de Lubac found himself in opposition to many of the neo-scholastics and members of the Action Francaise who supported Marshal Petain's Vichy government. Foremost among these was Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange who was of the view that support for the stance of General de Gaulle was not merely a case of backing the wrong team, politically or prudentially speaking, but was actually a mortal sin.
You can't make this stuff up. One of the leading Thomistic theologians of the 20th Century actually though it a mortal sin not to support a Nazi puppet state.  This is why its so important to disentagle conservatism from Rightism. Simply so as not to make these idiotic mistakes.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Some Thoughts on the Child Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church

I think one of the most important tasks facing the religious Dissident Right is trying to determine why Christianity has been unable to stop the assault of Modernism. In my mind there are many reasons for the failure however I think the main culprit is the Church hierarchy. There is something seriously wrong with the generalship.

Anyone with any exposure to the media cannot be unaware of the ongoing saga with regard to child sexual abuse which just seems to go on and on. Here in Australia, two weeks ago, one of the Australian archbishops was forced to step down after it was discovered that he covered up instances of child sexual abuse. Then there's Chile, where the entire Chilean Catholic leadership was forced to resigned as a result of their inept and criminal response to the sexual abuse of minors in their jurisdiction. Not only did they try to discredit the victims, but they seemed to have covered up some of the crimes and lied to the Pope.  In Ireland, the U.S., parts of Europe and Australia, a consistent pattern has emerged of a leadership that has been either inept in its dealings with the matter or outright criminal. 

Here in my home town, Melbourne, most of the crimes occurred during the reign of a liberal Church environment, while in Chile and Ireland, the crimes occurred within a conservative institutional framework: It's a problem that crosses factional lines. Furthermore, investigations into the abuse show that it has historically extended all the way back, well before Vatican Two, so it's not a problem, as some "conservatives" would like to say, of Church liberalisation, Many of the crimes occurred during the papacy of "conservative" Popes and during periods of  traditional orthodoxy. These statements are are not my opinions, they are statements of fact.

A lot of rubbish has been written about the issue but as I see it, the sexual abuse saga needs to be considered on two levels; that of the personal and of the institutional.

With regard to the personal level, in any institution of any size there are always going to be members that are going to go bad. the Catholic Church is no exception.  The job of a priest is hard, temptation is constant and the selection criteria are going to favour either the holy or the weird.  Furthermore, priests are men and like all men, sinners: it's a fact of life that you're going to get a few bad eggs.  From the figures that I have seen,  it appears that roughly ten percent of priests were child sexual predators, a figure that appears to be less than that seen in the general community. 

I grew up in a working class migrant community and in my childhood stories of "bad priests" were a not infrequent thing; the issues involved usually implied illegitimate children, fraud and alcoholism. The thing is that most of the community could make a clear distinction between the actions of the an individual priest and the institution of the Church. Individual priest may have been bad but the Church as a institution was good.

It's my opinion that it is at this, institutional level, where the sexual abuse saga seems to have done the most damage. It's at this level where the Church has been undermined most grievously. It's widely acknowledged that sexual abuse saga was a significant factor in the dechristianisation of Ireland.

The church is in an unusual position because, given its moral nature, it must be seen as an exemplar of what it preaches. If it fails to do this it seen as a corrupt organisation with all the negative sociological and religious implications that entertains. When you espouse high moral standards yet turn a blind eye to the corruption in the ranks you're going to be seen as a hypocrite, which totally undermines your original moral position. The bottom line is that the church, as an institution, failed to adequately deal with the problem of sexual abuse at the institutional level. And now it is paying the consequences.

And this institutional failure needs to be seen in a broader context. While sexual abuse allegations are the salacious topic du jour, the financial shenanigans of the church have proven to be just as resistant to eradication as well. Theft does not generate as much moral disgust as the sexual abuse of children but it's a moral evil none the less, and it's an evil that's been extremely difficult to eradicate. A healthy institution would purge itself of these corrupt elements and yet it can't. Rather, it has taken secular outsiders, sometimes quite hostile to the Church, to expose and force change upon an institutional apparatus which seems blind to its own failings and responsibilities.*

A common theme which emerges from investigations into the matter is that a repeated motivation among many of the clergy for keeping the abuse quiet was the desire to avoid scandal. In other words, the clergy were more concerned with need for the church to appear to be good rather than it actually being good. I don't know how to phrase this less bluntly but this, dear readers, is Pharisiacism 101, all done with the most noble of intentions of preserving the the image of sanctity while turning a blind eye to corruption, and in the worst instances, persecuting those who exposed the crimes.

What's very interesting in this whole saga is that the laity seem to have had a greater grasp of the seriousness of situation than their clerical superiors, but given the monophoric structure of the Catholic Church, meant that their concerns went unheeded. Bishop Long, himself a victim of sexual abuse, highlighted this mentality in his testimony to the Royal Commission on Child Sexual Abuse here in Australia.

MS FURNESS: You've also heard evidence that clericalism has been described as a factor or playing a role in the abuse of children and the response to that abuse and the connection between the deference and power that is part of clericalism and the more traditional approach of some seminarians. Now, do you see it like that?
BISHOP LONG: I do, and I see the clericalism as a by-product of a certain model of Church informed or underpinned or sustained by a certain theology. I mean, it's no secret that we have been operating, at least under the two previous pontificates, from what I'd describe as a perfect society model where there is a neat, almost divinely inspired, pecking order, and that pecking order is heavily tilted towards the ordained. So you have the pope, the cardinals, the bishops, religious, consecrated men and women, and the laity right at the bottom of the pyramid.

I think we need to dismantle that model of Church. If I could use the biblical image of wineskins, it's old wineskins that are no longer relevant, no longer able to contain the new wine, if you like. I think we really need to examine seriously that kind of model of Church where it promotes the superiority of the ordained and it facilitates that power imbalance between the ordained and the non-ordained, which in turn facilitates that attitude of clericalism, if you like.


BISHOP LONG: Accountability in that perfect Church model only works upwards. You're accountable to the person above you. As long as the bishop has the backing of the Pope, he's safe. As long as the priest has the backing of his bishop, he's safe. There's no accountability that reaches outwards or downwards, and that's the critical problem, as far as I see. That discipleship of equals calls into question that upward accountability that is in operation as a result of that ecclesiastical model of a perfect society where everyone knows their place and the pecking order is strictly dictated by ordination.
I personally think that this is a superficial analysis but does illustrate the institutional mentality of the clergy and their hierarchy of "holiness". The problem with this institutional mentality is that it a fertile breeding ground for the Pharisaical mentality and it's a mentality that those of conservative temperament are particularly prone to.

What the child sexual abuse saga has illustrated is that there is something seriously wrong with the institutional governance of the Church, and while it does appear to be making some attempts to change church procedures in order to protect children it--as an institution--still seems clueless as to why the problems occurred in the first place. As I see it, the institutional cancer still remains.

Traditionalist interpretations with regard to the failure of Christianity in the 20th Century tend to see the issue as one of disobedience of the faithful to the hierarchy, i.e. a failure to respect authority. But clearly a obedient faithful which which knowingly kept quiet about the abuse--under the authority of a bishop-- would have been just as morally reprehensible as the hierarchy which turned a blind eye. The institutional church is much like a general blaming his troops for a battlefield loss, it never occurs to them that he problem may be with the quality of the generalship and the decisions made. It's this blindness which is the core of the problem and it's one of the reasons for the dechristinisation of the West.  I have this sneaking intuition that the clergy may have inadvertently set themselves against God.

*A long report commissioned by the Catholic Church into the nature and extent of the sexual abuse crisis.