Category Archives: Ethics

Was Joseph Conrad a Neoliberal? Are We? A Contemporary Reading of Victory

I participated in a session with this fellow on Academia.edu. I believe the author is a professor at a university somewhere in the UK. I really liked this paper a lot. It’s a bit hard to understand, but if you concentrate, you should be able to understand. If I can understand it, at least some of you guys can too. It is an excellent overview of what exactly neoliberalism is and the effects it has on all of us all the way down to the anthropological, sociological and psychological.

Was Joseph Conrad a Neoliberal? Are We? A Contemporary Reading of Victory

by Simon During

Over the past decade or so “neoliberalism” has become a word to conjure with. It is easy to have reservations about its popularity since it seems to name both a general object — roughly, capitalist governmentality as we know it today — and a particular set of ideas that now have a well-researched intellectual history.

It also implies a judgment: few use the term except pejoratively. I myself do not share these worries however, since I think that using the word performs sterling analytic work on its own account even as it probably accentuates its concept’s rather blob-like qualities. Nonetheless in this talk I want somewhat to accede to those who resist neoliberalism’s analytic appeal by thinking about it quite narrowly — that is to say, in literary and intellectual historical terms.

I begin from the position, first, that neoliberalism is an offshoot of liberalism thought more generally; and second, that we in the academic humanities are ourselves inhabited by an occluded or displaced neoliberalism to which we need critically to adjust.1 Thus, writing as a
literary critic in particular, I want to follow one of my own discipline’s original protocols, namely to be sensitive to the ways in which the literary “tradition” changes as the present changes, in this case, as it is reshaped under that neoliberalism which abuts and inhabits us.2

To this end I want to present a reading of Joseph Conrad’s Victory (1916). To do this is not just to help preserve the received literary canon, and as such is, I like to think, a tiny act of resistance to neoliberalism on the grounds that neoliberalism is diminishing our capacity to affirm a canon at all. By maintaining a canon in the act of locating neoliberalism where it is not usually found, I’m trying to operate both inside and outside capitalism’s latest form.

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1 Daniel Stedman-Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics, Princeton: Princeton University Press 2014, p. 17.
2 This argument is made of course in T.S. Eliot’s seminal essay, “Tradition and the Individual Talent” (1921).
Let me begin with a brief and sweeping overview of liberalism’s longue durée.3 For our purposes we can fix on liberalism by noting that it has two central struts, one theoretical, the other historical. As generations of theorists have noted, the first strut is methodological individualism: liberal analysis begins with, and is addressed to, the autonomous individual rather than communities or histories.4

Methodological individualism of this kind is, for instance, what allowed Leo Strauss and J.P Macpherson to call even Thomas Hobbes a founder of liberalism.5 Liberalism’s second strut is the emphasis on freedom as the right to express and enact private beliefs with a minimum of state intervention. This view of freedom emerged in the seventeenth century among those who recommended that the sovereign state “tolerate” religious differences.

It marked a conceptual break in freedom’s history since freedom was now conceived of as an individual possession and right rather than as a condition proper to “civil associations” and bound to obligations.6 We need to remember, however, that methodological individualism does not imply liberal freedom, or vice versa. Indeed neoliberalism exposes the weakness of that association.

Early in the nineteenth century, liberalism became a progressivist political movement linked to enlightened values. But after about 1850, non-progressive or conservative liberalisms also appeared. Thus, as Jeffrey Church has argued, Arthur Schopenhauer, the post-Kantian
philosopher who arguably broke most spectacularly with enlightened humanist progressivism,

3 Among the library of works on liberalism’s history I have found two to be particularly useful for my purposes here: Domenico Losurdo’s Liberalism: a Counter-History, trans. Gregory Elliot. London: Verso 2014, and Amanda Anderson’s forthcoming Bleak Liberalism, Chicago, University of Chicago Press 2016.
4 Milan Zafirovski, Liberal Modernity and Its Adversaries: Freedom, Liberalism and Anti-Liberalism in the 21st Century, Amsterdam: Brill 2007, p. 116.
5 Van Mobley, “Two Liberalisms: the Contrasting Visions of Hobbes and Locke,” Humanitas, IX 1997: 6-34.
6 Quentin Skinner, Liberty before Liberalism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1998, p. 23.

can be associated with liberalism.7

Likewise Schopenhauer’s sometime disciple, Friedrich Nietzsche, no progressivist, was, as Hugo Drochon has recently argued, also an antistatist who prophesied that in the future “private companies” will take over state business so as to protect private persons from one another.8 Liberalism’s conservative turn was, however, largely a result of socialism’s emergence as a political force after 1848, which enabled some left liberal fractions to dilute their individualism by accepting that “a thoroughly consistent individualism can work in harmony with socialism,” as Leonard Hobhouse put it.9

Conrad himself belonged to this moment. As a young man, for instance, he was appalled by the results of the 1885 election, the first in which both the British working class and the socialists participated.10 That election was contested not just by the Marxist Socialist Democratic Federation, but by radical Liberals who had allied themselves to the emergent socialist movement (not least Joseph Chamberlain who, as mayor of Birmingham, was developing so-called “municipal socialism” and who haunts Conrad’s work).11

The election went well for the Liberals who prevented the Tories from securing a clear Parliamentary majority. After learning this, Conrad, himself the son of a famous Polish liberal revolutionary, wrote to a friend, “the International Socialist Association are triumphant, and every
disreputable ragamuffin in Europe, feels that the day of universal brotherhood, despoliation and disorder is coming apace…Socialism must inevitably end in Caesarism.”12 That prophecy will resonate politically for the next century, splitting liberalism in two. As I say: on the one side, a

7 Jeffrey Church, Nietzsche’s Culture of Humanity: Beyond Aristocracy and Democracy in the Early Period, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2015, p. 226.
8 Hugo Drochon, Nietzsche’s Great Politics, Princeton: Princeton University Press 2016, p. 9.
9 L. T. Hobhouse, Liberalism, London: Williams and Norgate, 1911, p. 99.
10 It was at this point that one of neoliberalism’s almost forgotten ur-texts was written,Herbert Spencer’s Man against the State (1884).
11 For instance, he plays an important role in Conrad and Ford Madox Ford’s The Inheritors.
12 Joseph Conrad, The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad, vol 1., ed. Frederick Karl and Laurence Davis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1983, p. 16.

 

progressivist, collectivist liberalism. On the other, an individualist liberalism of which neoliberalism is a continuation.

By around 1900, liberalism’s fusion with socialism was often (although not quite accurately) associated with Bismark’s Germany, which gave anti-socialist liberalism a geographical inflection. Against this, individualistic liberalism was associated with Britain. But this received British liberalism looked back less to Locke’s religiously tolerant Britain than to Richard Cobden’s Britain of maritime/imperial dominance and free trade.

Which is to say that liberalism’s fusion with socialism pushed socialism’s liberal enemies increasingly to think of freedom economically rather than politically — as in Ludwig von Mises influential 1922 book on socialism, which can be understood as a neoliberal urtext.13 By that point, too, individuals were already being positioned to become what Foucault calls “consumers of freedom.” 14

They were now less understood less as possessing a fundamental claim to freedom than as creating and participating in those institutions which enabled freedom in practice. Crucially after the first world war, in the work of von Mises and the so-called “Austrian school”, freedom was increasingly assigned to individual relations with an efficient market as equilibrium theory viewed markets. This turn to the market as freedom’s basis marked another significant historical departure: it is the condition of contemporary neoliberalism’s emergence.

Neoliberalism organized itself internationally as a movement only after world war two, and did so against both Keynesian economics and the welfare state. 15 It was still mainly ideologically motivated by a refusal to discriminate between welfarism and totalitarianism — a line of thought already apparent in Conrad’s equation of socialism with Caesarism of course. As
13 See Ludwig von Mises, Socialism: an Economic and Sociological Analysis, trans. J. Kahane. New Haven: Yale University Press 1951.
14 Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, p. 63. One key sign of this spread of this new freedom is Oliver Wendell Holmes’s famous appeal to the “free trade in ideas” in his 1919 dissent in Abrams v. the US, a judgment which joins together the market, intellectual expression and the juridical.
15 See Philip Mirowski and Dieter Plehwe (eds.), The Road from Mont Pèlerin, Cambridge: Harvard University Press 2009.

 

Friedrich Hayek urged: once states begin to intervene on free markets totalitarianism looms because the people’s psychological character changes: they become dependent.16 For thirty years (in part as confined by this argument), neoliberalism remained a minority movement, but
in the 1970s it began its quick ascent to ideological and economic dominance.

Cutting across a complex and unsettled debate, let me suggest that neoliberalism became powerful then because it provided implementable policy settings for Keynesianism’s (perceived) impasse in view the stagnation and instability of post-war, first-world welfarist, full-employment economies after 1) the Vietnam War, 2) the collapse of the Bretton Woods agreement; 3) OPEC’s cartelization, and 4) the postcolonial or “globalizing” opening up of world markets on the back of new transportation and computing technologies.17

In the global north neoliberalism was first implemented governmentally by parties on the left, led by James Callaghan in the UK, Jimmy Carter in the US, Bob Hawke and Paul Keating in Australia, and leading the way, David Lange and Roger Douglas in New Zealand.18 At this time, at the level of policy, it was urged more by economists than by ideologues insofar as these can be separated (and Hayek and Mises were both of course).

As we know, neoliberals then introduced policies to implement competition, deregulation, monetarism, privatization, tax reduction, a relative high level of unemployment, the winding back of the state’s participation in the economy and so on. This agenda quickly became captured by private

 

16 Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, p. 48.
17 This history is open to lively differences of opinion. The major books in the literature are: Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the College de France 1978-1979, London: Picador 2010; Philip Mirowski, Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown, London: Verso 2014; Stedman-Jones, Masters of the Universe; Joseph Vogl, The Spectre of Capital, Stanford: Stanford University Press 2014; David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2007. My own understanding of this moment is informed by Stedman-Jones’s account in particular.
18 It is worth noting in this context that the left had itself long been a hatchery of neoliberal economic ideas just because liberalism’s absorption of socialism was matched by socialism’s absorption of liberalism. See Johanna Brockman, Markets in the name of Socialism: the Left-wing Origins of Neoliberalism, Stanford: Stanford University Press 2011 on the intellectual-historical side of this connection.

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interests, and from the eighties on, it was woven into new, highly surveilled and privatized, computing and media ecologies, indeed into what some optimists today call “cognitive capitalism”.19

In this situation, more or less unintended consequences proliferated, most obviously a rapid increase in economic inequality and the enforced insertion of internal markets and corporate structures in non-commercial institutions from hospitals to universities. Indeed, in winding back the welfare state, renouncing Keynesian and redistributionist economic policies, it lost its classical liberal flavor and was firmly absorbed into conservatism — a transformation which had been prepared for by Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.20

But two more concrete conceptual shifts also helped animate this particular fusion of conservatism and liberalism. First, postwar neoliberalism was aimed more at the enterprise than at the individual.21

Largely on the basis of van Mises’s Human Action (1940) as popularized by Gary Becker, the free, independent individual was refigured as “human capital” and thereby exposed instead to management and “leadership.” At the same time, via Peter Drucker’s concept of “knowledge worker,” which emphasized the importance of conceptual and communication skills to
economic production, postsecular management theories for which corporations were hierarchical but organic communities also gained entry into many neoliberal mindsets.22 At that

 

19 Yann Moulier Boutang, Cognitive Capitalism, trans. Ed Emery. Cambridge: Polity Press 2012.
20 Nietzsche and Schopenhauer’s influence is no doubt part of why neoliberalism emerged in Austria. Indeed the Austrian context in which contemporary neoliberalism emerged is worth understanding in more detail. In their early work, Hayek and Mises in particular were responding to “red Vienna” not just in relation to Otto Bauer’s Austromarxism but also in relation to its version of guild socialism associated with Hungarians like Karl Polanyi, with whom both Hayek and Mises entered into debate. See Lee Congdon, “The Sovereignty of Society: Karl Polanyi in Vienna,” in The Life and Work of Karl Polanyi, ed. Kari Polanyi-Levitt. Montreal: Black Rose Books 1990, 78-85.
21 Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, p. 225.
22 Drucker was another Austrian refugee who turned to capitalism against totalitarianism in the late thirties and his profoundly influential work on corporate management shadows neoliberal theory up until the 1970s.

 

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point, neoliberalism also became a quest to reshape as many institutions as possible as corporations.

At this point too Foucault’s consumers of freedom were becoming consumers full stop. To state this more carefully: at the level of ideology, to be free was now first and foremost deemed to be capable of enacting one’s preferences in consumer and labour markets. It would seem that preferences of this kind increasingly determined social status too, and, more invasively, they now increasingly shaped personalities just because practices of self were bound less and less to filiations and affiliations than to acts of choice.

This helped the market to subsume older gradated social and cultural structures of identity-formation, class difference and cultural capital. At this juncture, we encounter another significant unexpected consequence
within liberalism’s longue durée: i.e. the sixties cultural revolution’s reinforcement of neoliberalism.

This is a complex and controversial topic so let me just say here that, from the late seventies, neoliberal subjects who were individualized via their entrepreneurial disposition and economic and labour choices, encounters the subject of post-68 identity politics who had been emancipated from received social hierarchies and prejudices, and was now attached to a particular ethnicity, gender or sexuality as chosen or embraced by themselves as individuals. These two subject formations animated each other to the degree that both had, in their different ways, sloughed off older communal forms, hierarchies and values.

Governing this ménage of hedonism, productivity, insecurity and corporatization, neoliberalism today seems to have become insurmountable, and is, as I say, blob-like, merging out into institutions and practices generally, including those of our discipline. And it has done
this as a turn within liberal modernity’s longer political, intellectual and social genealogies and structures rather than as a break from them.

Nonetheless, three core, somewhat technical, propositions distinguish neoliberalism from liberalism more generally:

  1. First the claim, which belongs to the sociology of knowledge, that no individual or group can know the true value of anything at all.23 For neoliberals, that value — true or not — can only be assessed, where it can be assessed at all, under particular conditions: namely when it is available in a competitive and free market open to all individuals in a society based on private property. This is an argument against all elite and expert claims to superior knowledge and judgment: without prices, all assessments of value are mere opinion. In that way, market justice (i.e. the effects of competing in the market) can trump social justice. And in that way, for instance, neoliberalism finds an echo not just in negations of cultural authority and canonicity but in the idea that literary and aesthetic judgments are matters of private choice and opinion. In short, neoliberalism inhabits cultural democracy and vice versa. By the same stroke, it posits an absence — a mere structure of exchange—at society’s normative center.
  2. There is a direct relationship between the competitive market and freedom. Any attempt to limit free markets reduces freedom because it imposes upon all individuals a partial opinion about what is valuable. This particular understanding of freedom rests on the notion of the market as a spontaneous order — its being resistant to control and planning, its being embedded in a society which “no individual can completely survey” as Hayek put it.24 Not that this notion is itself original to neoliberalism: Foucault’s historiography of liberalism shows that, in the mid eighteenth century, this property of markets was thought of as “natural” and therefore needed to be protected
    from sovereign authority’s interference.25 But as Foucault and others have argued, neoliberalism emerges after World War 2 when the spontaneous market conditions of freedom are no longer viewed as natural (even if they remain immanently lawbound) but as governmentally produced.26
  3. Neoliberalism has specific ethical dimensions too. While it generally insists that individuals should be free to “follow their own values and preferences” (as Hayek put it) at least within the limits set by those rules and institutions which secure market stability, in fact individuals’ independence as well as their relation to market risk, provides the necessary condition for specific virtues and capacities. Most notably, in Hayek’s formulation, a neoliberal regime secures individuals’ self-sufficiency, honor and dignity and does so by the willingness of some to accept “material sacrifice,” or to “live dangerously” as Foucault put it, in a phrase he declared to be liberalism’s “motto”.27 This mix of risk-seeking existentialism and civic republicanism not only rebukes and prevents the kind of de-individualization supposedly associated with socialisms of the left and right, it is where neoliberalism and an older “Nietzschean” liberalism meet—with Michael Oakeshott’s work bearing special weight in this context.28 But as soon as neoliberalism itself becomes hegemonic in part by fusing with the spirit of 1968, this original ascetic, masculinist neoliberal ethic of freedom and risk comes to be supplemented and displaced by one based more on creativity, consumerist hedonism and entrepreneurialism aimed at augmenting choice.29

***

23 See Mirowski, Never Let a Serious Crisis, p. 55.
24 Friedrich von Hayek, The Road to Serfdom: Texts and Documents. The Definitive Edition, ed. Bruce Caldwell. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007, p. 212.

25 Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, p. 19.
26 This is argued in Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval’s The New Way of the World: on Neoliberal Society, London: Verso 2014. For the immanent lawboundedness in Hayek, see Miguel Vatter, The Republic of the Living: Biopolitics and the Critique of Civil Society, New York: Fordham University Press 2014: pps. 195-220. Vatter’s chapter “Free Markets and Republican
Constitutions in Hayek and Foucault” is excellent on how law is treated in neoliberal thought.
27 Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, p. 130. Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, p. 66.
28 See Andrew Norris’s forthcoming essay in Political Theory, “Michael Oakeshott’s Postulates of Individuality” for this. We might recall, too, that Foucault argues for similarities between the Frankfurt school and the early neoliberals on the grounds of their resistance to standardization, spectacle and so on. See The Birth of Biopolitics, p. 105.

 

I have indicated that Conrad belongs to the moment when socialist parties first contested democratic elections and which thus split liberalism, allowing one, then beleaguered, liberal fraction to begin to attach to conservatism. In this way then, he belongs to neoliberalism’s deep past (which is not to say, of course, that he should be understand as a proto-neoliberal himself). Let us now think about his novel Victory in this light.

The novel is set in late nineteenth-century Indonesia mainly among European settlers and entrepreneurs. Indonesia was then a Dutch colony itself undergoing a formal economic deregulation program, which would increase not just Dutch imperial profits but, among indigenous peoples, also trigger what was arguably human history’s most explosive population growth to date.30

Victory belongs to this world where imperialism encountered vibrant commercial activity driven by entrepreneurial interests, competition and risk. Thus, for instance, its central character, the nomadic, cosmopolitan, aristocratic Swedish intellectual, Axel Heyst, establishes a business— a coal mine — along with a ship-owning partner, while other characters manage hotels, orchestras and trading vessels. Victory is a novel about enterprises as well as about individuals.

But Conrad’s Indonesia is other to Europe as a realm of freedom. Importantly, however, its freedom is not quite liberal or neoliberal: it is also the freedom of a particular space. More precisely, it is the freedom of the sea: here, in effect Indonesia is oceanic. This formulation draws on Carl Schmitt’s post-war work on international law, which was implicitly

 

29 The history of that displacement is explored in Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello’s The New Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Gregory Elliott. London: Verso 2005.
30 Bram Peper, “Population Growth in Java in the 19th Century”, Population Studies, 24/1 (1970): 71-84.

 

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positioned against liberal and neoliberal theory. In his monograph The Nomos of the Earth (1950), Schmitt drew attention to the sea as a space of freedom just because national sovereignties and laws did not hold there.

But Schmitt’s implicit point was that liberal freedom needs to be thought about not just in terms of tolerance, recognition, rights or markets, but
geographically and historically inside the long history of violent sovereign appropriation of the globe’s land masses so that elemental freedom was enacted on the oceans where law and sovereignty had no reach. From this perspective, piracy, for instance, plays an important role in freedom’s history. And from this perspective the claim to reconcile radical freedom to the lawbound state is false: such freedom exists only where laws do not.

The sea, thought Schmitt’s way, is key to Conrad’s work. But, for him, the sea is also the home of economic liberalism, free-trade and the merchant marines by whom he had, of course, once been employed, and whose values he admired.31 Victory is a maritime tale set on waters which harbor such free trade at the same time as they form a Schmittean realm of freedom — and violence and risk — which effectively remains beyond the reach of sovereign law.

Let me step back at this point to sketch the novel’s plot. Victory’s central character Heyst is the son of an intellectual who late in life was converted from progressivism to a mode of weak Schopenhauerianism or what was then call pessimism.32 Heyst lives his father’s pessimism out: he is a disabused conservative liberal: “he claimed for mankind that right to
absolute moral and intellectual liberty of which he no longer believed them worthy.”33

Believing this, Heyst leaves Europe to “drift”— circulating through Burma, New Guinea, Timor and the Indonesian archipelagoes, simply gathering facts and observing. But, on an

 

31 For Conrad and trade in this region, see Andrew Francis, Culture and Commerce in Conrad’s Asian Fiction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2015. For Conrad’s affiliations to free trade proper see my unpublished paper, “Democracy, Empire and the Politics of the Future in
Conrad’s Heart of Darkness”. This is available on this url.
32 Joseph Conrad, Victory, London: Methuen 1916, p. 197.
33 Conrad, Victory, pps. 92-93

 

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impulse, while drifting through Timor he rescues a shipowner, Morrison, whose ship has been impounded by unscrupulous Portuguese authorities, and through that act of spontaneous generosity, becomes obligated to Morrison.

The two men end up establishing a coalmine in the remote Indonesian island of Samburan, backed by local Chinese as well as by European capital. The company soon collapses. Morison dies. And, living out his Schopenhauerian renunciation of the world, Heyst, the detached man, decides to stay on at the island alone except for one Chinese servant.

He does, however, sometimes visit the nearest Indonesian town, Surabaya, and it is while staying there in a hotel owned by Schomberg, a malicious, gossipy German, that he makes another spontaneous rescue. This time he saves a young woman, Lena, a member of a traveling “ladies orchestra,” who is being bullied by her bosses and in danger of abduction by Schomberg himself.

Heyst and Lena secretly escape back to his island, causing Schomberg to harbor a venomous resentment against Heyst. At this point Schomberg’s hotel is visited by a trio of sinister criminals: Jones, Ricardo and their servant Pedro. Taking advantage of Schomberg’s rage, they establish an illegal casino in his hotel. To rid himself of this risky enterprise, Schomberg advises them to go after Heyst in his island, falsely telling them that Heyst has hidden a fortune there. Jones and his gang take Schomberg’s advice but disaster awaits them.

The novel ends with Jones, Ricardo, Heyst, Lena all dead on Heyst’s island.
The novel, which hovers between commercial adventure romance and experimental modernism, is bound to neoliberalism’s trajectory in two main ways. First, it adheres to neoliberalism’s sociology of knowledge: here too there is no knowing center, no hierarchy of expertise, no possibility of detached holistic survey and calculation through which truth might command action. Heyst’s drifting, inconsequential fact-gathering, itself appears to illustrate that absence. As do the gossip and rumors which circulate in the place of informed knowledge, and which lead to disaster. Individuals and enterprises are, as it were, on their
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own, beyond any centralized and delimited social body that might secure stability and grounded understandings. They are bound, rather, to self-interest and spontaneity.

This matters formally not simply because, in an approximately Jamesian mode, the narrative involves a series of points of view in which various characters’ perceptions, moods and interests intersect, but because the narration itself is told in a first person voice without being enunciated by a diegetical character.

That first person, then, functions as the shadow representative of a decentered community, largely focused on money, that is barely able to confer identity at all, a community, too, without known geographical or ideological limits just because the narrator, its implicit representative, has no location or substance. This narratorial indeterminacy can be understood as an index of liberalism at this globalizing historical juncture: a liberalism divesting itself of its own progressive histories, emancipatory hopes and institutions. A bare liberalism about to become neoliberalism, as we can proleptically say.

More importantly, the novel speaks to contemporary neoliberalism because it is about freedom. As we have begun to see, Heyst is committed to a freedom which is both the freedom of the sea, and a metaphysical condition which has detached itself, as far as is possible, from connections, obligations, determinations. This structures the remarkable formal
relationship around which the novel turns — i.e. Heyst’s being positioned as Jones’s double.

The generous Schopenhauerian is not just the demonic criminal’s opposite: he is also his twin. Both men are wandering, residual “gentlemen” detached from the European order, and thrown into, or committed to, a radical freedom which, on the one side, is a function of free trade, on the other, a condition of life lived beyond the legal and political institutions that order European societies, but also, importantly, are philosophical and ethical — a renunciation of the established ideological order for independence, courage and nomadism.

To put this rather differently: Heyst and Jones’s efforts to live in freedom — to comport themselves as free individuals — combines economic freedom — a freedom of exchange, competition and

 

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entrepreneurial possibilities— with a state of nature as a line of flight (or emancipation) from received continental laws, values and social structures. Freedom, that is, which combines that which Carl Schmitt and the early neoliberals imagined, each in their own way.

The novel’s main point is that there is, in fact, nothing in this freedom to sustain true ethical substance. It is as if Schmittean freedom has smashed both liberal freedom and pessimistic asceticism, along with their ethical groundings. Or to come at the novel’s basic point from another direction: it is as if the absence at the heart of a free society has transmigrated into these characters’ selves. It is at that level that individual freedom cannot be separated from violence and risk and good from evil.

Without an instituted social structure, Heyst cannot stay true to himself: his commitment to freedom and renunciation is compromised because of his spontaneous acts of generosity and sympathy which lead to his and Lena’s death. On the other side, Jones, a homosexual shunned by respectable society, is afflicted by those key nineteenth-century affects, resentment and boredom as well as a quasi-Nietzschean contempt for “tameness”, which drive him towards living outside of society, at contigency’s mercy, and towards reckless, malevolent violence.

Heyst and Jones die together almost by accident, in deaths that reveal them not just as entangled with one another at existence’s threshold, but as both attuned to death, even in life. It now look as if while they lived they wanted to die. In that way, the novel makes it clear that the risk, disorder and emptiness which inhabit their striving for a radically liberal practice of life corrode distinctions not just between violence and renunciation, not just between good and evil, but also between life and death.

We can put it like this: the freedom that these characters claim and the risks that it entails and which bind them together are inclined more towards death than towards life, just on account of freedom’s own conditions of possibility, namely radical autonomy, absence of sovereign power, and maximum choice.

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As I say, this is a reading of the novel which, at least in principle, helps to canonize Victory just because it claims that its form, plot and characters address versions of our current neoliberal social condition, and does so in metaphysically ambitious terms. Victory is a critique of freedom, I think.

Conrad is insisting that even in a liberal society devoted to free trade,
enterprises and markets, the law — and the sovereign state — comes first. It is, if one likes, beginning the work of detaching liberalism from freedom. To say this, however, is to ignore the most pressing question that this reading raises: to what degree should we today actually accede to Conrad’s ambivalent, pessimistic and conservative imagination of radical freedom?

How to judge that freedom’s renunciation of established hierarchies, collectivities and values whether for adventure, risk and spontaneity or for violence and death? It is a condition of the discipline’s neoliberal state that the only answer we can give to that question is that we can, each of us, answer that question any way that we choose.

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Gedalia Braun’s Piece on Africans

Sam: A possible explanation for Black behavior.

“…common understanding among blacks of what morality is: not something internalized but something others enforce from the outside…”

https://whitelocust.wordpress.com/morality-and-abstract-thinking-how-africans-may-differ-from-westerners/

Tulio: Interesting article. But I’d like to examine multiple perspectives on this topic before I draw any conclusions. I’ve never been to Africa to observe her findings first hand, and given that the author writes for Amren, this individual has an obvious predisposition.

For example she speaks of cruelty and torture in Africa, but that has existed among whites as well. I’ve seen some of the torture devices used during Europe’s middle period. Even looking at them was unbearable. Even in this country witches were burned at the stake. Blacks were hung from trees on false accusations while whites stood around and cheered.

I don’t like her conclusion that blacks have some inherent flaw that makes them incapable of being moral or having any abstract thoughts. Google a list of African proverbs and they contradict everything she just said.

First of all, Gedalia Braun is a man, not a woman. No idea what that first name is all about.

I actually think he is onto something, especially as he lived in various African countries for many years. That was always one of my favorite articles on Amren. The odd thing about that article is that while is not real flattering towards Africans, the author doesn’t seem to hate Africans at all. In fact, it seems that he is rather fond of them despite it all.

I don’t think just writing for Amren should disqualify you as biased. One of the truly disturbing things about Amren that I learned from hanging out there a very long time is that so much of what those articles say is flat out true. That is hard to swallow. However, the site is dishonest and biased as it only reports the downside to Blacks and never says anything good about them, while I know some of you will be amazed, but there are actually quite a few good things you can say about US Blacks if you are looking to write good things about them.

The Black love of cruelty and sadism does seem to be a part of the race. Yes any culture can become extremely cruel and sadistic, even the “highest” races of all which can become downright genocidal under the right conditions of Organized Violence.  Not long ago, two of the “highest” races of all, the Germans and Japanese, engaged in some spectacular cruelty, sadism, out and out evil and even horrific genocide. And yes, European White did use to be quite sadistic and cruel as the torture devices indicate. However, under normal peacetime conditions, most European Whites in Europe and the West demonstrate remarkably little sadism and cruelty, while with Blacks, even US Blacks, it just seems to go on unabated.

I should note that cruelty and sadism are not Black traits. They are human traits! Humans are naturally cruel, sadistic and downright evil, at least at times. Most human societies and most humans have it in them to be sadistic and cruel. I was a pretty vicious little boy, but all my friends were too, so I just figure that boys are just naturally rather evil. But you grow out of it. I still have cruelty and sadism in me of course, but I try to keep it locked up in a cage inside of me and hope it never comes out. My argument is going to be that Blacks are more susceptible to the normal human tendencies than say Whites or Northeast Asians are, not that Blacks are evil and sadistic and White people are real nice. Screw that.

Some of those things may not be race-dependent. For instance, even if Blacks are bad at abstract thinking as a race, if you push their IQ up, their capacity for abstract thinking ought to grow quite a bit. African Americans appear to be dramatically more intelligent that Africans for whatever reason. One standard deviation is nothing to shake your finger at. Hence, even if US Blacks are have some inherent issue with abstract thinking, pushing that IQ up to one SD is going to make US Blacks a Hell of a lot more abstract than Africans.

I should also note that a number of the other downsides to Africans that he writes about – childlikeness, love of cruelty and sadism, needing morality imposed from the outside rather than from within

A lot of that has been said before. Albert Schweitzer wrote much the same things after working for years as a do-gooder in Africa. The fact that he was such a do-gooder makes his remarks particularly potent, as I do not see how a man with that much of a kind heart would deliberately make up a bunch of evil things about Blacks. In fact, if you study so called racist literature down through the years, you will find many of these things that Braun talks about repeated many times. Much early anthropological writings on Blacks are now called racist because they were pretty blunt about the race, whereas now the field is very PC.

For instance, the thing about Blacks being “childlike.” Childlike is not the same thing as childish. Childlike is not a bad thing really. I would love to be childlike in some ways and I hope I am, actually.

Early American writings including I think Thomas Jefferson noted the same thing: they also said that Blacks were childlike.

The morality thing sort of makes sense. In situations where brute force enforces morality, Blacks do pretty well. I heard they do pretty well under Communism. Supposedly you could walk from one end to the other of Maputo in the middle of the night and no one would bother you. Maputo is the capital of Mozambique.

That was under the Communist like government of Samora Machel, who is actually one of my heroes. Havana is the safest large city in the Americas and it is very Black. Blacks also do well under Islam. Reporters have gone to the parts of West Africa that are under Islam and they say that things are a lot smoother, less chaotic and far less crime ridden than in the non-Muslim countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia to the south.

I hear there are also many Blacks in Yemen, maybe up to 40%. They are light-skinned, but there is a lot of discrimination against them. Racially they look like Ethiopians, which is maybe what they are. They commit almost zero crime, even property crime.

Under both Islam and Communism, morality is for sure imposed from the outside in a pretty heavy handed way. It was similar in the typical African village or villages that was ruled by a king. I have heard that pre-1960, Nigeria was mostly a country of small rural villages. There was almost no crime in these villages.

Not only was law enforcement pretty brutal, there was also a heavy shame factor involved similar to what we see with the Northeast Asians, who do not want to commit crimes or even do bad things in general because it will bring shame unto their families. Amazingly rural Africa was able to operate under the same shame-based morality as the Northeast Asians, yet the NE Asians are usually thought to be a “higher” race than Africans. So it looks like some of those things that make these “higher” races higher can actually be imported and be used by the “lower” races, which seems counterintuitive but is also hopeful.

The notion that Black genes make societies inherently unstable is belied by the fact that North Africa (13% Black by genes) and the Gulf (17-21% Black by genes) are remarkable stable places under normal peacetime conditions.

Also Ancient Egypt was 13% Black by genes and it was one of the greatest countries in the history of the world. So Caucasians having a certain amount of Black genes is not the end of the world.

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Filed under Africa, Anthropology, Antiquity, Asians, Blacks, Cultural, Egypt, Ethics, Europeans, History, Intelligence, Islam, Left, Marxism, Middle East, Mozambique, Nigeria, North Africa, Northeast Asians, Philosophy, Psychology, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, Religion, South Africa, West Africa, Whites, Yemen

What Is Antinatalism?

Anti-Natalism is a very odd movement which is made up of folks who, like many of us, wish they were never born. But the anti-natalists wish to make this a trend or a movement.

Their philosophical view is that life is horrible torture. We come into the world, shine bright for what seems like forever but is really just a the blink of an eye. And the whole time we are wishing we lived forever (As if 70 year of torture was not enough!) and living in daily terror of our looming annihilation, which is colloquially known as our death.

We know we are going to die, this is the ultimate terror, and these facts make most of us at least a bit nuts, which is why things like dope, porn and therapists exist at all. A human comes into the world, is shown a glimpse of heavenly forever in a fleeting flame of existence, and then cruelly snuffed him out with utmost cruelly just when he thinks it’s barely even gotten started.

It’s awful. Life is torture.

They give you a glimpse of eternity and then snatch it away just as you are beginning to adjust your eyes. How cruel can you get? We salve ourselves with religion and lies and dope and sex to try to make this truth go away, but none of it really works, and deep inside we all know we are just fooling ourselves.

This thing called life is cruel and evil precisely because we die and we know it, and this tortures us into some degree of insanity with every day we march forward in footfalls of doom towards the ultimate in sheer, raving horror. Death is the ultimate fear, the granddaddy of all of the rest, and the others all have death as first base.

No compassionate human being would ever bring a child into this torture chamber called life to saddle it with the charnel house as coda always barely visible at the end of that long, seemingly eternal tunnel always in the foreground at least a bit no matter how we try not to see it. Death is the shadow that stalks us through life. We keep saying we won’t turn around and see it, but it’s no matter because it falls in front us as much as behind us. We can run but we can’t hide. Every time we turn this way or that, there’s another reaper. There’s literally no escape.

Bringing a poor innocent child into this horror called life is such a cruel and evil act that anti-natalists say we should all just stop doing it. Quit having kids. Stop bringing new humans into this Hell. It’s the only moral choice. Making babies can be nothing other than immoral or even evil. In order to be good, we must not breed.

Why is life such a horrorshow? Not so much because we die but because we know we are going to. As far as we know, most other animals are not even sure that they exist, and they don’t seem to know that they are going to die. So life is a pleasant illusion in a sense for a lower mammal.

If we humans somehow had no idea we were going to die, then our deaths would hardly be painful at all. We would be stumbling right along, assuming we were going to live forever, and then one day, death would take us away, but since we don’t know what it is or if it will even happen, it’s not a problem. We could go through our lives barely worrying about death for a second.

On the other hand, we might take all sorts of crazy risks all through life because we knew that no matter what, we could probably get away with it.

The threat of injury can be sobering, but it ain’t got nothing on death. Hurt and sick can’t begin to compare to buying it. It would be nice if they did, but they just don’t. That’s mostly because we humans persist in the delusion of sure recovery from injury and illness.

The only reason we are much cautious at all is because we are afraid that if we let down our guard or slip up, we will die. So most folks tend to watch their step through their lives, which is actually good for our species.

Obviously anti-natalists acknowledge that the movement would drive humans extinct, but anti-natalists either don’t care or think this would be a good thing. I have no idea what to say about that except that there sure would be lots of cockroaches running around our planet.

I do not support anti-natalism, and I think it is a bit of an absurd movement, but it is one of the cleverest movements I have heard of. I will give them that. For some reason, I doubt it will catch on.

Ann is also quite a misanthrope and pessimist, but I guess most of these anti-natalists are, and the former two would seem to flow naturally form the latter. So she spends a lot of time making misanthropic posts on Facebook which are pretty funny.

Schopenhauer (and even Nietzsche) are probably right after all. And so was Twain at the end. I realize that pessimism (and even nihilism) are rational. And so is misanthropy. I just think they are a drag. These notions are not wrong because they are false. They are wrong because they are no fun.

I suppose my argument would be, “Well, of course the world blows and life sucks, but so what?” And, “Well, sure most other humans are moronic and contemptible, but so what?” The purpose of life is not to wallow in these damnable truths. The purpose of life is the Endless Party we all need to engage in so we don’t have to think about those things. We are here to pretend, escape and forget. That’s the meaning of life. That’s it. There’s nothing else.

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Filed under Ethics, Philosophy, Psychology

“Western Moral Decline or Capitalist Decadence?,” by John Kovas

This is a good piece. You can find it at Kofas’ website, or I got it off of Academia.edu. Looking at his website, it appears that the rest of his stuff is pretty good too. I need to read this guy more.

I actually think he is onto something here, and you need to be hip to this argument because the Right is always trotting out this “moral decline” argument that I think needs to be countered.

Western Moral Decline or Capitalist Decadence?

by John Kofas

Historically, during periods of economic contraction, the intelligentsia, politicians, business, academic, community and church leaders invariably try to steer the debate away from what has gone wrong with the political economy to the subject of values.

This was certainly the case during the 19th century when the depressions of the 1840’s, 1870’s and 1890’s took place. Well-meaning individuals as well as opportunistic propagandists questioned society’s values, despite the fact that structural causes in the political economy accounted for the economic contraction and social ills.

A somewhat similar situation existed during the Great Depression of the 1930’s when novelists, philosophers, politicians and others decried the values of the 1920’s. There are similarities between those historical periods and the economic contraction and diminishing of the Western middle class that started during the Reagan-Thatcher era and continues to the present.

The universal topic of values served its purpose when the Industrial Revolution was causing socioeconomic problems, and it serves its purpose today when Western Civilization is captive to banks and corporate capital that are concentrating capital while weakening the social fabric and democratic institutions.

The very elites suggesting to the masses redirection toward reexamination of values are the same ones that:

1. do not practice the values that they preach;

2. are responsible for the widening socioeconomic gap and sociopolitical instability that ensues;

3. benefit by deflecting the focus of the masses from the essential problem in the systemic flaws of the political economy to values.

Naturally, there is the salient question of the vast differences in value systems between societies and individuals; differences between religious and secular values within a pluralistic society, or the differences/nuances of values within a community whether it is predominantly religious or secular.

That scholars, politicians, businesspeople, priests, and the laity have been concerned about western civilization’s decline is a story as old as Oswald Spengler who wrote about the topic after the German Empire lost the First World War, and Europe as the world’s global power center began to give ground to the US and USSR.

But are the values of Bismarck and his generation of imperialist politicians and business titans the ones that Spengler’s generation lamented against the background of the Bolshevik Revolution and its global impact? Is it the Western values of imperialism, nationalism and militarism that led to global war in 1914 that were lost along with the decline of Western Europe?

Spengler focused on Western decadence, but the question is one of the underlying assumptions of what constituted decadence and what constituted ascendancy, the degree to which humane and communitarian principles rested behind assumptions. Was it dreadful that imperialist Europe of the old elites began to decline as a result of militarist confrontation, or was it tragic that millions of people died, injured, displaced, impoverished as a result? If one values power, then one laments the decline of Europe’s power. But what if the value system is human-centered, instead of power-based?

When the Great Depression erupted to cripple societies across most of the planet, why was there a sharp turn to a discussion of values, whether by US President Roosevelt who favored a quasi-communitarian orientation that mirrored the New Deal or ultra-nationalist one that Hitler advocated who was interested in ethnic cleansing as a means of restoring the purity of the mythological Aryan race as Alfred Rosenberg conceived it and the NAZI party practiced it.

In a very strange way, the NAZI regime’s populist ethnic collectivist approach intended to achieve the same goal as that of FDR and for that matter Josef Stalin who advocated superimposed collectivism.

The Third Reich manufactured a value system that a large percentage of Germans and Austrians, accepted and lived under with the hope that it would propel them to greatness as the NAZI party defined the concept. Why did millions of people accept an utterly barbaric and inhumane and racist value system under Hitler, and why did they not retain humane principles based on the wider philosophical framework of the Enlightenment that revolutionized European culture in the 18th century?

Is it merely a question of brainwashing – no matter how good German propaganda was – or one that a large segment of the population actually embraced values because they perceived benefits accruing to them – everything from keeping their jobs to feeling great that the ruling party told them they were ‘superior’ to other races.

From the end of World War II that marked the end of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and militarist-imperial Japan until the end of the Vietnam War, Western and non-Western (Communist regime) societies operated on broader values – in theory and certainly not in practice – of communitarian principles as part of an ideological mix.

Certainly in Western societies, led by the US, the value system of individualism, business progress, consumerism, commercialism of culture, and hedonism were prevalent, but the existence of the welfare state entailed tangible evidence that communitarian values mattered. The beginning of the breakdown of that value system comes when the US and the West in general begin to gradually eliminate the communitarian aspect in the societal mix because it interferes with finance capitalism and the neoliberal model of capital accumulation.

More than political trends, material conditions influence evolving value systems, something that is evident in the consumerist values (to which we must add hedonist and atomistic) of much of the world in the last fifty years. After all, values too are class-based. The relative decline of compassion for humanity, and a rise of alienation which many try to cure by going to therapy and with legal and illegal drugs, has been sharply on the increase in the last half century to the degree that we now have a Western culture of therapism thriving.

Ethical ambiguity naturally translates into ambiguity of values, thus reflecting cultural relativism. In a recent public opinion poll, the vast majority of the people in Finland agreed that if their close friend committed murder, they would notify the authorities. In the same poll, the vast majority of Greeks agreed they would not turn in their friend. Not surprisingly, Greek elites, including academics, praised the virtue of honoring friendship, while the people of Finland stressed the virtue of social conscience.

What accounts for the absence of convergence in the values of the two societies? History, tradition, religion, culture, etc., and what does this example teach us about the values of ambiguity? How could any human being with an once of moral fiber not report a case of murder? How could someone betray their friend, even in case of murder?

Beyond values of ambiguity, there is a much clearer case regarding basic values that are time-tested and transcend time and place.

1. Lying is clearly immoral. Not the kind of lying involving little lies that cause no harm but big lies that bring about great harm to a great many people. Yet, lying is at the core of both business and politics, but it is passed on as public relations. Lying to an entire nation about the reason for going to war is acceptable because it is a matter of national security. Lying to consumers about a product is acceptable because it is in the name of peddling a product or service.

2. Stealing is clearly immoral. I was hardly surprised to read stories about people across southern Europe actually stealing food because of the current hard times. However, stealing in the framework of institutionalized ‘appropriation’ of government subsidies to make banks stronger, is morally acceptable. Yet this is a process that forces people to steal food. Are we back in the era of Victor Hugo’s Jean Val Jean?

3. Killing is clearly immoral. However, mass killings of collateral damage victims in time of war is just fine. Why do human beings categorically reject the individual who kills her husband that abuses her but accept mass killings in wars? What does this tell us about our values and how they are molded?

How does a politician, a journalist, an academic, or much less a leading businessperson tell the masses to reexamine their values against the background of austerity economics that benefit those preaching reexamination of values?

For more than half a century, the same elites now preaching reexamination of values were advocating consumerism, commercialization of culture, hedonism, and atomistic proclivities, all in the name of an open society when in reality the only interest was the thriving of the market economy.

Having conditioned citizens as consumers steeped in that frame of mind and value system, how do elites now try to tell them that embracing everything from nature to God, everything from family values to community values, filter down, and even if it did, what exactly does that do for the high structural unemployment and underemployment, low wage structure, lack of opportunities for college graduates, and lack of job security?

When Ronald Reagan was beginning to dismantle the welfare state and strengthen the corporate welfare state, his administration, various think tanks, journalists, academics, clergy and business leaders began to speak of values, namely ‘family values’.

One odd thing about many of the people advocating ‘family values’ is that they themselves were not practicing them. Another odd thing was that these values advocates were interested in pushing society in the direction of conformity to the changing status quo, so value discussion was one tool they used.

Of course, there was a contradiction between ‘family values’ rhetoric and policies – government and business – that were contributing to undermining the family by forcing both parents to work, in some cases at second jobs to make ends meet.

At the same time, reorientation to values discussion did not mean that workers must stop shopping, given that the population remained under the spell of increasingly intrusive advertising that helped shape consumerist and atomistic values. Are we witnessing a Western moral decline or merely a decline of the capitalist system and its apologists trying desperately to distract the masses by shifting the focus to values?

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The Rule of the Masters of the World: “Anything Goes to Get What We Want”

Obama’s early foreign policy advisors were people called foreign policy realists. They’re terrible, but they are lot saner than neocons, which admittedly isn’t saying much. But I will say that the background of their view of the world is at least reality-based. What they want is still sleazy,

Foreign policy realists live in reality, and they see the world as it really is, not as Politics dictates it to be or as Neocons create it to be. Their world view is the opposite of the self-created and -creating fantasy worlds of the neocons, who view reality and changeable and see reality as whatever they want it to be or more accurately what they are going to turn it into.

These folks see themselves as actually in charge or reality or better yet History. They think they are Gods. Reality and surely History is whatever they are going to create it to be. If the truth does not match up to their self-created reality, then the truth is wrong, and the fantasy is what is real. This is the crazy world in which the neocons and people like Bush operate.

Bush’s domestic policy was similar. To these people, there was no objective reality – there was only Politics. Reality was simply whatever Politics dictated that it should be. If truth conflicted with Politics, then truth was wrong.

Their moral philosophy is:

Truth: Whatever is good for or justifies our Politics or ideology.

False: Whatever is bad for or rejects our Politics or ideology.

The neocons of course operate in a similar way. We say the neocons are crazy, but they are not cray at all. Crazy like a fox? Sure. But nuts? No way. They’re more evil than nuts.

We also say that they are idiots, but they are not stupid at all. Instead they are very dangerous and reckless people. We see their danger and recklessness, and we say that they are foolish or stupid, but they are really not either. They’re about as stupid or foolish as Hitler or Stalin.

They’re out to get what they want, and they will do just about anything to get it. If they have to tell a million lies to get what they want, they will do it. If they have to kill people, arrest people, frame people, beat people up, torture people, ruin economies, give people diseases, blow up, ruin or damage perfectly good infrastructure, destroy whole industries, stage military coups, cause violent riots in the streets, assassinate people, they will do it. It’s pretty much anything goes to get what we want.

This is the philosophy of most of the powerful people in the world today: Anything goes to get what we want.

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Filed under Dangerous Idiots, Democrats, Ethics, Government, History, Idiots, Neoconservatism, Obama, Philosophy, Political Science, Politics, Republicans, US Politics

The Alt Left on the “Right to Judge”

Jason Y writes:

I don’t really like flaming behavior, but I’m not God, just an ordinary nobody. Also, I don’t have the time to police behavior.

Didn’t the Bible say we should work on our own faults before judging others?.

Can I ask you something? What is wrong with “judging?” The Cultural Left and it seems a lot of this PC-addled young generation are all against “judging.” A woman I was dating was basically an alcoholic. I call her out on her drinking shit. I’m “judging.”

A female friend is being tormented by her alcoholic male roommate who for all intents and purposes is sexually harassing her (either you fuck me, or I throw your ass out on the street). She puts up with this Hell for a long time, and then next thing I know, she has had sex with the idiot a few times.

“Why’d you do it?”

“I dunno. I felt like that.”

“That sucks. You should not fucking that idiot. Bad idea. Plus he’s been treating you horribly. You basically caved in to a sexual harasser. Plus he sucks. He stinks, and he doesn’t even take showers.”

“Stop judging!”

So in other words, every time I don’t like something, I’m “judging.” We have to jump up and down and cheer and yell and scream for every idiot, perverted, sick and deviant behavior that comes down the pike? What for?

Why don’t we have the right to not like things?

Most straight men don’t like the idea of gay sex? That’s “judging?” Bull.

Most straight men are not even really keen on the idea of gay men. At least they don’t want to be around them too much, and most straight men have no desire to have a gay friend. That’s “judging?” Why?

Most straight men do not like sissy, faggoty, flaming, strongly effeminate behavior in men. Guess what? A lot of gay men don’t like it either! Why do we have to like it? If we don’t like it, why are we “judging?”

And the most important question of all is, what in God’s name is wrong with judging? We have a right to like or dislike anything on God’s green earth. We don’t have put a stamp of approval and jump up and down and start screaming and yelling about every weird behavior that humans engage in.

In a larger sense, this is one of the core principles of the Alt Left: “The right to judge.”

Because this is one of the core ways the Cultural Left has destroyed modern society – it has promoted the notion that no one has a right to disapprove of anything. This is behind cultural relativism and really the whole crazy ball of wax. This is why liberals and Lefties scream that I have no right to blast India on here they way I do – I have “no right to judge.” Black pathologies – the wreck call the ghetto? No right to judge. Islam backwards, woman-hating, homophobic, regressive and just anti-liberal and reactionary? Hey, stop hating. Don’t like Hispanic culture all that much, or maybe you might like to criticize it even for being hyper-Catholic, anti-abortion, morally backwards, regressive, reactionary, stupid, racist, patriarchal, misogynistic, violent, wife-beating, idiotically hypermasculine or deliberately ignorant? How dare you judge them!

Happen to notice that Gypsies are a race of thieves, in addition to being probably the worst ethnic group on Earth. How dare you judge those poor people! Why, they’re just victims! Africa a Hellish swamp where human values go to die? How dare you criticize those people. They’re just poor! If you were poor, you might act like a depraved animal yourself! Nigerians are a race of thieves in a continent of wickedness and base behavior? Hey, leave those people alone! Those are sun people! They have black skin so they can soak up the godly chemical melanin. How dare you icemen criticize us sunny melanin-enhanced superpeople?

As usual, every time someone says you are “judging,” there are aggressive, even violent screams and even threats of racism. “Sexist! Racist! Homophobe! Bigot! Regressive! Conservative! Reactionary! Nazi! KKK! White supremacist! Jew! Zionist! Pakistani! Transphobe!”

Nowadays, these are just fancy ways of calling a human being an evil person.

There are a lot of other typical feints. The usual one is, “You do it too.” Want to criticize Blacks or the ghetto mess? Whoops, you can’t! Why not? Because it turns out that all of things we accuse ghetto Blacks of, we Whites do them too! So we have no right to talk, see?

Want to criticize India? Can’t! Americans do it too! Although I am still waiting for someone to show me how a typical American city street looks anything like what you will find in New Delhi. Calling out a nation for being corrupt? Whoops! Can’t do that! Why not? We Americans are corrupt too! But…aren’t there degrees of such things, I mean, a little bit corrupt to real corrupt to stark raving crazy off the charts corrupt? Nope. It’s all the same. Citizens United = all the corruption in India.

This is the rhetorical poison that liberal rhetors have foisted on us in the past several decades. What started out as a liberation movement turned into:

apologism for the worst of human behaviors, to put it mildly,

a ban on critiquing any and all human behavior above the level of the individual,

the obviously insane notion that all cultures are equally good,

the profoundly dubious, even on its face, notion that all of the races are created equal (a misreading of the Founding Fathers, by the way),

a torrent of hatred, rage, abuse, discrimination and career-wrecking against anyone who tries to argue from a point of view of higher human values or achievements to criticize another human group on the basis of lower human values or achievements.

What they are trying to accomplish is two things.

1. Apology for sin. I guess there’s no such thing anymore. Except racism. And sexism. But only White males can be that way. And wait. Rape. But only when White men to do it. And sexual harassment – you know, when straight men try to have sex with women? They need to be castrated!

Bottom line is that the Left has decided to apologize for just about every sinful, depraved and wicked behavior on Earth, as long as it is engaged in by some protected class. And in many cases, the Left has turned former sins into virtues. The homosexual who takes 100 penises and a dozen fists up his anus a year while sampling the entire Pharmacopeia and living a life of utter, base depravity is now the pinnacle of human virtue. Incredible. Protection of the bad, and the inversion of sins into virtues.

2. Assault on the good. When people try to suggest that Gypsy thieves, Nigerian internet grifters, Black rapists, welfare mothers with 75 IQ’s and 10 kids, murderous gang members, petty criminals, venal and corrupt people, perverts and deviants, people who set widows on fire and treat other humans as “untouchable” and in general, crooks, thugs, maniacs and more commonly liars, cheaters, thieves and even more trivially, base, degraded, vulgar, apathetic, morally vapid humans are acting like bad or at least somewhat lousy people, then those good people who called out the bad people are now attacked, assaulted, abused, fired, fined, sued, and generally ruined for the crime of favoring the good over the bad.

So while the Left now protects and even extols the bad, it condemns the good and again inverts morality, in this case turning virtue into sin.

This post has been a bit long getting to the point, but if you have followed this far, I think you catch my drift. Suffice to say that the Alt Left is opposed to the trends of the Cultural Left elucidated above.

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Filed under Cultural Marxists, Culture, Ethics, Left, Liberalism, Political Science, Scum

Man Shoots Dog; Dog Shoots Man – Film at 11

Here.

Who knows? Maybe karma exists after all.

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Every action has an equal and opposite reaction? Maybe so, and maybe that’s a damn good thing sometimes.

I am convinced that God has set aside a particularly nasty slice of Hell particularly for animal abusers. And they probably have to have a wall of around this area to keep the other denizens of Hell from killing them again and again.

Bad people have more morals than you think. It’s often not so much that they have “no morals” but that they have their own peculiar and perverse moral hierarchy. But a lot of bad people definitely believe in the concept of transgression, and they don’t like those they call immoral one bit. In fact they hate them far more than we do. They hate the violators of their own moral code so much that they will out and out murder them without a care in the world, while few of the rest of us would stoop that low.

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Filed under Animals, Dogs, Domestic, Ethics, Florida, Philosophy, Regional, South, USA

Nice Guys, Friendzoning and the Redpill View of the Basic Nature of Women

I found this on Quora, and the author is a former commenter on this site who left. This person did write a very good post coming from a rather Redpill manner on Quora. This is still a brilliant fellow with a lot of great insights into human nature. It’s really sad, but almost everything this guy says is straight up true.

Also I do not know if he is an MRA per se, but I believe he is a masculinist, and I think we should form a masculinist movement as counterpart to the feminist movement. We can try to mirror them if we wish. If it’s progressive, hip, groovy, and right-on and hipster for women to advocate for their rights, then we think it ought to neato, right-on, boss, cool, and progressive to advocate for men’s rights. Because we men need our rights just as much as the women need their rights. Women want to advocate for their rights? No problem! Let them. But why should we men not do the same thing?

The Masculinist Movement will make alliances with any sane feminists out there, and I believe there might be a few. In general, women think that “Men’s Rights” means all out war on them. This is zero-sum thinking, and furthermore, it is just wrong. You want and need rights for women, and we want and need rights for men. Neither gender likes being screwed over. If it’s right for them, it’s right for us too.

I recently checked out the resurrected Men’s Liberation Movement on Reddit, and it is a disaster. You are not allowed to attack feminism!

I would instead identify with some of the more radical wings of the Masculinist Movement who broke away early on. Interestingly, some of the most prominent among them were gay men. Gay men have always been an integral part of the Men’s Movement, and we need to welcome them with open arms.

After reading several of these threads about the “Friendzone” and “nice guys”, I’ve come to realize that the discussion universally ignores two very important things:

1) lying

and

2) age

Within my comments below is the direct answer to the question “Why do girls reject guys who are good to them…”.

1. LYING

Women lie.  Compulsively. They say they want to be treated kindly, with respect, by a nice smart guy who knows how to be a gentleman blah blah blah. But, more often than not, they’re lying. They usually do not respond positively (i.e. with attraction) to kind, respectful treatment from nice smart guys.

They respond positively to bad boys, punks, criminals, sleazy pickup artists, motorcycle gang members, drag-racers, rock band members, trash-talking rappers, jocks, and other guys who they find exciting. They respond to guys who put them on an emotional rollercoaster, up and down.

They often respond positively to guys who abuse them or treat them like shit. Not because they like being treated like shit, *per se*, but because being treated like shit, and then being sexually ravaged, (i.e. ultra-cold, then super-hot), is exciting, thrilling, highly attractive, and emotionally addictive.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that. There’s nothing wrong with liking what you like, and being attracted to what you’re attracted to. What’s wrong is lying about it, which women do all the time. And the lying, understandably, confuses men something awful.

They think that the women are telling them the truth about how they want a nice guy who will treat them with respect, open doors for them, buy nice things for them, and all that. Then, when the guy gives them those things, the woman responds with indifference and “lets just be friends”. WTF?! – says the guy, understandably.

This is where all the crap about “entitlement” comes from. Very few guys actually feel entitled to sexual attraction or engagement, but they are terribly confused about why it is not happening after he takes her at her word and gives her what she says she wants.

And who can blame them? Well, actually, some morons do blame them. There’s a whole lot of man-hating and -shaming going on in this discussion, I’ve noticed, rooted in the failure to see that men’s sometimes-inappropriate reactions are occasioned by women’s chronic lying.

2. Age

What I wrote above about what women positively respond to in a man,  applies largely to women in their prime years, approximately age 18 through 30. Those are the woman’s years of sexual experimentation, of going for all of the most sexually exciting men: mysterious wild bad boys, Alphas and  high-status men (sports stars, rock stars, etc.) at whom all the other women are throwing themselves, and a variety of “interesting” high-testosterone types including slick PUA’s, guys who are perpetually getting in fights or scrapes with the law, guys who are heavy into drugs, etc.

Having sex with a bunch of guys of these genres is very exciting and emotionally riveting. And the “nice guys” are a bore, except as an occasional shoulder to cry on about how terribly the asshole/bad-boy boyfriend is using and abusing them.

However, as the years go by, things change. Our wild ‘n free young woman
hits “the wall” – a moment typically in late 20’s or early 30’s when her looks start to fade rapidly. She is no longer as attractive to the Alphas and bad boys or to men in general. They stop calling her.

As this is happening, she realizes that her fertility clock is ticking, and that the Alphas and bad boys are not going to give her what she wants for the long term like stable marriage, material support, and so on. She begins to look at other men – the men she had rejected and friendzoned before, the “nice guys” – in a different light. These are the guys, she then realizes, that could give her what the men she chased earlier will not.

The only problem is that many of these “nice guys” are now successful, comfortable and confident, and are actually becoming more attractive with age, rather than less. They’ve grown up and become a little less “nice” and a little more manly. They’ve taken care of their health and acquired some style, and some of them morph from nerdy to quite handsome and sexy.

They may not want the older female, often a single mother, overweight and/or with generally deteriorating looks. Instead, they go for that (substantial) fraction of younger women – younger and a whole lot hotter and sexier – who like older successful guys. The “nice guy” who got friendzoned and sexually shut-out in his 20’s, now has the power in his 30’s and 40’s.

Meanwhile, our formerly-young free-spirit female is facing grim options, like say two offers for dates last month – both from unattractive, much older men. “What happened to all the good men?”, she cries. The answer is that they were there all along, and she ignored them, and now they have no interest in her. She may wind up living a barren life, hanging out on personals sites and hoping that some slightly attractive guy will see how awesome she truly is, regardless of her looks. Rots of ruck.

One author, an older “nice guy”, puts it poignantly: “Dear Girls Who Are (Finally) Ready To Date Nice Guys: We Don’t Want You Anymore.”

With the passage of years, things are likely to get better and better for the “nice guy” types and worse and worse for the women who friendzoned and sexually rejected them. Not to mention much worse for many of the bad boy types that they once prized: alcoholism, addiction, disastrous accidents, prison, disease, burnout, etc.

The exception to this is the “nice guy” who can’t get over having been rejected and marginalized – becoming, over the years, embittered and withdrawn. Many in the MGTOW movement are this type. But it is his choice. He could grow up, mature, work on himself, and become much more attractive to women – even young, hot women – than he ever was before.

Some women say that women are “stupid” for going for the bad boys, etc. But that’s not true. They are not stupid; they are emotional, and they love the emotional roller-coaster ride.

For a woman to give sound relationship advice, she needs to be honest with herself and others about the following:

1.Women are hypergamous, they are not naturally monogamous.

2.Women fitness test. Sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously.  With rare exception, they all do it.

3. Women often don’t say what they really mean.

4. Women often speak in partial truths and half truths. A perfect example:  when a woman says she just wants a nice guy who will treat her right, what she really means is “I just want a hot, good looking, confident guy who will be nice to me, commit to me, have sex only with me, and treat me right.” Half the battle would be fought and won if  women would just be clear and honest about this.)

5. All women have a rationalization hamster. I’ve seen girls as young as 10 rationalizing.

6. Women often say one thing and then do the exact opposite  Examples: “I  just want a nice guy who will treat me right” then run off with Harley Biker Badboy; or “I don’t want to get in a serious relationship right now” then a month later, she’s hot and heavy with Dr. Medical Student.)

Part of what is done here is to have honest conversations about these  issues. Feminism and the mainstream media ignores things like female  duplicity, hypergamy, female cheating, women initiating at least 70% of  divorces, etc. and instead falsely blames men for what women and feminism have wrought.

A few women like Susan Walsh get it. Most still don’t, including my mother and every woman I knew until I was 30 years old. I was told to “be nice” and “be yourself”. My father’s sole relationship advice? “Keep your d**k in your pants. If you don’t you’re playing  with fire.”

This is the most useless advice any parents could ever give their son. It condemns a young man to neverending frustration, anger, bitterness and withdrawal. It makes you spin your head in disbelief that the jerks, the thugs and the a$$holes get all the girls. “How can that be? They’re not “nice”. Why do they get all the girls? I was told that I was supposed to be “nice” and I would be swimming in girls. Why is this not happening?”

So then I was told that evidently I must not be “nice” enough and I should be “nicer”. Heh. The frustration is only amplified when he finds out that what everyone told him was absolutely 180 degrees from the truth.

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Filed under Ethics, Feminism, Gender Studies, Heterosexuality, Homosexuality, Man World, Masculinism, Philosophy, Psychology, Romantic Relationships, Sex, Women

Ever Fantasize about Killing Someone?

Jason Y writes:

So who is more disturbed, De Niro on Taxi Driver or Robert?

I am not that disturbed. I actually don’t really mind most people on an individual basis. Or at least I don’t hate them, let’s put it that way. I do not hate on an individual basis,the vast majority of people I meet. I have quite a few people I actually like, especially people I see on a regular basis. For instance, there is local corner store here, and everyone who works there totally loves me and acts like I’m they’re my best friend.

When I say I am homicidal, I don’t mean that seriously. I usually don’t want to kill any individual person. It’s more of a vague feeling directed at humanity in general. It’s hard to explain, and I know I would never do anything about it. I would have to hate people vastly more than I do now to go shoot up a mall, and even if I had that level of hatred, I still doubt if I would shoot up a mall because my massive inhibitions or guilt would stop me. I honestly do not think I will ever go postal. It’s just not going to happen, ever.

I have no guns, and I hate guns. I’ve never even tried kill someone except maybe someone who was trying to kill me. So really as long as you are not trying to kill me, I’m not going to try to kill you, so everyone needs to relax. That’s been my history for decades now, and I doubt if it will change. I guess I could use weapons other than guns, but I don’t even think about that, and I do not think I have ever used a handheld weapon against another person. I have used weapons, including very large knives, to threaten people before, and they deserved it, but never to attack someone. I’ve pulled knives on people before, but I’ve never stabbed anyone.

There are some old girlfriends about whom I say “I want to kill them to this very day,” and they richly deserve that feeling. It’s very vaguely true, but it’s something I almost never think about. And when I actually think of those women, I don’t like them very much, but I almost never think about killing them even in fantasy.

It’s just that some of the things that they said and did to me were absolutely unforgivable and completely warrant homicidal feelings towards them. But even then, it’s only when I think about that specific comment or action, my next thought is, “Goddamn I want to kill that bitch. She should be killed just for saying that/doing that to me.”

So most of the time I think about even those old girlfriends are fairly pleasant because I prefer to think about good things we did, and 99% of the time I am thinking about them, I am not feeling homicidal towards them. And this includes ones that I basically hate to this very day, and they deserve my hatred.

I think it is that I really do not like thinking about killing specific individual people because it bothers me on some level. And also something that happened long ago, I really should not still be all wrapped up in it.

Also there were a few guys who did stuff to me that pretty much warrants me killing them, and they would deserve it too for what they did to me. But even with them, when I imagine meeting them, the fantasy is more like I punch them in the face as hard as I can one time, which they would deserve, and walk away.

So I don’t really want to kill them either. I suppose I want to kill them in some vague sense, but it’s usually not even a fantasy because explicit homicidal fantasies about specific people bother me on some level.

I say vague because even if I met this guy who I really want to punch, I doubt if I would punch him. I have been in quite a few fistfights and physical altercations, but they always hit me or acted very physically aggressive towards me first.

Sure there’s a few guys I totally wanted to kill before, and they all deserved it. I did have homicidal fantasies about them even including plotting how I would do it. But the fantasies usually involve guns, and I don’t even have one, never have, and they terrify me. Also on some level, I know the fantasy will never happen.

That is because fantasy is different from thinking you really want to do something. A lot of evil fantasies involves things you know will never happen. So sure, I feel like killing them, and I even think about at times maybe, but I pretty much know it will never happen.

And there is one more thing. There were times when I was plotting how I would kill one of these guys, and I stopped myself because the thought process felt disturbing.

So I actually sat down and thought, “Hey wait a minute. Does this guy really deserve to die over what he did to me?” Almost always it comes back that even though what they did to me was horrific, monstrous and probably unforgivable, it doesn’t really warrant taking their lives. Actually killing them just seems wrong on some level.

When you think about what you are actually doing I mean what you are really, really, really, really doing, when you kill someone, you realize that true homicide is some very heavy shit. It’s about the heaviest shit you will ever deal with in your life. So if you kill or try to kill someone, you better have a damn good reason. The only time I ever actually tried to kill people was when they were trying to kill me.

I also start really worrying that I might get caught, and then that even if I did it and got away with it, I would have to walk around with that in my head for the rest of my life, and it might eat me up. Because killing someone who isn’t trying to kill you is so heavy that I’m not sure I could do it without being destroyed by guilt for the rest of my life.

Also when I get into these feelings about a specific person (which doesn’t happen too often), I usually only feel homicidal for 2-3 weeks. Then it just completely goes away for some reason (it sort of “burns out”), and I don’t miss it at all. It doesn’t seem healthy to stay in a homicidal frame about someone for a significant period of time. A few weeks, sure, but after that, it starts to feel disturbing, and I just want it gone.

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Filed under Ethics, Morbid, Philosophy, Psychology

Capitalism 101: Want a Loan? No Problem!

Loans are very easy to obtain in a free market system. The relationship between the lender and the borrower is a contract entered into voluntarily by two equals. LOL yeah right.

Loans are very easy to obtain in a free market system. The relationship between the lender and the borrower is a contract entered into voluntarily by two equals. LOL yeah right. Can you believe capitalists actually believe that crap?

Great system.

But really, have you seen the laws on usury in your state? I mean what laws? Payday loans anyone? Seen all those payday loan stores popping up everywhere? Isn’t capitalism grand? You would not believe the perfectly legal rates those scumbags are allowed to charge.

Many major religions forbade usury for a damn good reason. They weren’t just a bunch of uptight primitives. They had a good handle on universal moral philosophy.

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Filed under Capitalism, Capitalists, Economics, Ethics, Humor, Law, Philosophy, Religion, Scum