Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Hate that Dare Not Speak its Name

As the United States stumbles toward the last act of its electoral process two days from now, and the new administration prepares to take over the reins of power from its feckless predecessor, the obligatory caterwauling of the losing side has taken on an unfamiliar shrillness. Granted, the behavior of both sides in the last few decades of American elections can be neatly summed up in the words “sore loser”; the Republicans in 1992 and 2008 behaved not one whit better than the Democrats in 1980 and 2000.  I think it’s fair, though, to say that the current example has plunged well past the low-water mark set by those dismal occasions. The question I’d like to discuss here is why that should be.

I think we can all admit that there are plenty of reasons why Americans might reasonably object to the policies and appointments of the incoming president, but the same thing has been true of every other president we’ve had since George Washington’s day. Equally, both of our major parties have long been enthusiastic practitioners of the fine art of shrieking in horror at the other side’s behavior, while blithely excusing the identical behavior on their side.  Had the election last November gone the other way, for example, we can be quite certain that all the people who are ranting about Donald Trump’s appointment of Goldman Sachs employees to various federal offices would be busy explaining how reasonable it was for Hillary Clinton to do exactly the same thing—as of course she would have.

That said, I don’t think reasonable differences of opinion on the one hand, and the ordinary hypocrisy of partisan politics on the other, explain the extraordinarily stridency, the venom, and the hatred being flung at the incoming administration by its enemies. There may be many factors involved, to be sure, but I’d like to suggest that one factor in particular plays a massive role here.

To be precise, I think a lot of what we’re seeing is the product of class bigotry.

Some definitions are probably necessary here. We can define bigotry as the act of believing hateful things about all the members of a given category of people, just because they belong to that category. Thus racial bigots believe hateful things about everyone who belongs to races they don’t like, religious bigots do the same thing to every member of the religions they don’t like, and so on through the dismal chronicle of humanity’s collective nastiness.

Defining social class is a little more difficult to do in the abstract, as different societies draw up and enforce their class barriers in different ways. In the United States, though, the matter is made a good deal easier by the lack of a fully elaborated feudal system in our nation’s past, on the one hand, and on the other, the tolerably precise dependency of how much privilege you have in modern American society on how much money you make. Thus we can describe class bigotry in the United States, without too much inaccuracy, as bigotry directed against people who make either significantly more money than the bigot does, or significantly less. (Of course that’s not all there is to social class, not by a long shot, but for our present purposes, as an ostensive definition, it will do.)

Are the poor bigoted against the well-to-do? You bet. Bigotry directed up the social ladder, though, is far more than matched, in volume and nastiness, by bigotry directed down. It’s a source of repeated amusement to me that rich people in this country so often inveigh against the horrors of class warfare. Class warfare is their bread and butter. The ongoing warfare of the rich against the poor, and of the affluent middle and upper middle classes against the working class, create and maintain the vast disparities of wealth and privilege in contemporary American society. What upsets the rich and the merely affluent about class warfare, of course, is the thought that they might someday be treated the way they treat everyone else.

Until last year, if you wanted to experience the class bigotry that’s so common among the affluent classes in today’s America, you pretty much had to be a member of those affluent classes, or at least good enough at passing to be present at the social events where their bigotry saw free play. Since Donald Trump broke out of the Republican pack early last year, though, that hindrance has gone by the boards. Those who want to observe American class bigotry at its choicest need only listen to what a great many of the public voices of the well-to-do are saying about the people who votes and enthusiasm have sent Trump to the White House.

You see, that’s a massive part of the reason a Trump presidency is so unacceptable to so many affluent Americans:  his candidacy, unlike those of all his rivals, was primarily backed by “those people.”

It’s probably necessary to clarify just who “those people” are. During the election, and even more so afterwards, the mainstream media here in the United States have seemingly been unable to utter the words “working class” without sticking the labels “white” in front and “men” behind. The resulting rhetoric seems to be claiming that the relatively small fraction of the American voting public that’s white, male, and working class somehow managed to hand the election to Donald Trump all by themselves, despite the united efforts of everyone else.

Of course that’s not what happened. A huge majority of white working class women also voted for Trump, for example.  So, according to exit polls, did about a third of Hispanic men and about a quarter of Hispanic women; so did varying fractions of other American minority voting blocs, with African-American voters (the least likely to vote for Trump) still putting something like fourteen per cent in his column. Add it all up, and you’ll find that the majority of people who voted for Trump weren’t white working class men at all—and we don’t even need to talk about the huge number of registered voters of all races and genders who usually turn out for Democratic candidates, but stayed home in disgust this year, and thus deprived Clinton of the turnout that could have given her the victory.

Somehow, though, pundits and activists who fly to their keyboards at a moment’s notice to denounce the erasure of women and people of color in any other context are eagerly cooperating in the erasure of women and people of color in this one case. What’s more, that same erasure went on continuously all through the campaign. Those of my readers who followed the media coverage of the race last year will recall confident proclamations that women wouldn’t vote for Trump because his words and actions had given offense to feminists, that Hispanics (or people of color in general) wouldn’t vote for Trump because social-justice activists denounced his attitudes toward illegal immigrants from Mexico as racist, and so on. The media took these proclamations as simple statements of fact—and of course that was one of the reasons media pundits were blindsided by Trump’s victory.

The facts of the matter are that a great many American women don’t happen to agree with feminists, nor do all people of color agree with the social-justice activists who claim to speak in their name. For that matter, may I point out to my fellow inhabitants of Gringostan that the terms “Hispanic” and “Mexican-American” are not synonyms? Americans of Hispanic descent trace their ancestry to many different nations of origin, each of which has its own distinctive culture and history, and they don’t form a single monolithic electoral bloc. (The Cuban-American community in Florida, to cite only one of the more obvious examples, very often vote Republican and  played a significant role in giving that electoral vote-rich state to Trump.)

Behind the media-manufactured facade of white working class men as the cackling villains who gave the country to Donald Trump, in other words, lies a reality far more in keeping with the complexities of American electoral politics: a ramshackle coalition of many different voting blocs and interest groups, each with its own assortment of reasons for voting for a candidate feared and despised by the US political establishment and the mainstream media.  That coalition included a very large majority of the US working class in general, and while white working class voters of both genders were disproportionately more likely to have voted for Trump than their nonwhite equivalents, it wasn’t simply a matter of whiteness, or for that matter maleness.

It was, however, to a very great extent a matter of social class. This isn’t just because so large a fraction of working class voters generally backed Trump; it’s also because Trump saw this from the beginning, and aimed his campaign squarely at the working class vote. His signature red ball cap was part of that—can you imagine Hillary Clinton wearing so proletarian a garment without absurdity?—but, as I pointed out a year ago, so was his deliberate strategy of saying (and tweeting) things that would get the liberal punditocracy to denounce him. The tones of sneering contempt and condescension they directed at him were all too familiar to his working class audiences, who have been treated to the same tones unceasingly by their soi-disant betters for decades now.

Much of the pushback against Trump’s impending presidency, in turn, is heavily larded with that same sneering contempt and condescension—the unending claims, for example, that the only reason people could possibly have chosen to vote for Trump was because they were racist misogynistic morons, and the like. (These days, terms such as “racist” and “misogynistic,” in the mouths of the affluent, are as often as not class-based insults rather than objective descriptions of attitudes.) The question I’d like to raise at this point, though, is why the affluent don’t seem to be able to bring themselves to come right out and denounce Trump as the candidate of the filthy rabble. Why must they borrow the rhetoric of identity politics and twist it (and themselves) into pretzel shapes instead?

There, dear reader, hangs a tale.

In the aftermath of the social convulsions of the 1960s, the wealthy elite occupying the core positions of power in the United States offered a tacit bargain to a variety of movements for social change.  Those individuals and groups who were willing to give up the struggle to change the system, and settled instead for a slightly improved place within it, suddenly started to receive corporate and government funding, and carefully vetted leaders from within the movements in question were brought into elite circles as junior partners. Those individuals and groups who refused these blandishments were marginalized, generally with the help of their more compliant peers.

If you ever wondered, for example, why environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth changed so quickly from scruffy fire-breathing activists to slickly groomed and well-funded corporate enablers, well, now you know. Equally, that’s why mainstream feminist organizations by and large stopped worrying about the concerns of the majority of women and fixated instead on “breaking the glass ceiling”—that is to say, giving women who already belong to the privileged classes access to more privilege than they have already. The core demand placed on former radicals who wanted to cash in on the offer, though, was that they drop their demands for economic justice—and American society being what it is, that meant that they had to stop talking about class issues.

The interesting thing is that a good many American radicals were already willing to meet them halfway on that. The New Left of the 1960s, like the old Left of the between-the-wars era, was mostly Marxist in its theoretical underpinnings, and so was hamstrung by the mismatch between Marxist theory and one of the enduring realities of American politics. According to Marxist theory, socialist revolution is led by the radicalized intelligentsia, but it gets the muscle it needs to overthrow the capitalist system from the working classes. This is the rock on which wave after wave of Marxist activism has broken and gone streaming back out to sea, because the American working classes are serenely uninterested in taking up the world-historical role that Marxist theory assigns to them. All they want is plenty of full time jobs at a living wage.  Give them that, and revolutionary activists can bellow themselves hoarse without getting the least flicker of interest out of them.

Every so often, the affluent classes lose track of this, and try to force the working classes to put up with extensive joblessness and low pay, so that affluent Americans can pocket the proceeds. This never ends well.  After an interval, the working classes pick up whatever implement is handy—Andrew Jackson, the Grange, the Populist movement, the New Deal, Donald Trump—and beat the affluent classes about the head and shoulders with it until the latter finally get a clue. This might seem  promising for Marxist revolutionaries, but it isn’t, because the Marxist revolutionaries inevitably rush in saying, in effect, “No, no, you shouldn’t settle for plenty of full time jobs at a living wage, you should die by the tens of thousands in an orgy of revolutionary violence so that we can seize power in your name.” My readers are welcome to imagine the response of the American working class to this sort of rhetoric.

The New Left, like the other American Marxist movements before its time, thus had a bruising face-first collision with cognitive dissonance: its supposedly infallible theory said one thing, but the facts refused to play along and said something very different. For much of the Sixties and Seventies, New Left theoreticians tried to cope with this by coming up with increasingly Byzantine redefinitions of “working class” that excluded the actual working class, so that they could continue to believe in the inevitability and imminence of the proletarian revolution Marx promised them. Around the time that this effort finally petered out into absurdity, it was replaced by the core concept of the identity politics currently central to the American left: the conviction that the only divisions in American society that matter are those that have some basis in biology.

Skin color, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability—these are the divisions that the American left likes to talk about these days, to the exclusion of all other social divisions, and especially to the exclusion of social class.  Since the left has dominated public discourse in the United States for many decades now, those have become the divisions that the American right talks about, too. (Please note, by the way, the last four words in the paragraph above: “some basis in biology.” I’m not saying that these categories are purely biological in nature; every one of them is defined in practice by a galaxy of cultural constructs and presuppositions, and the link to biology is an ostensive category marker rather than a definition. I insert this caveat because I’ve noticed that a great many people go out of their way to misunderstand the point I’m trying to make here.)

Are the divisions listed above important when it comes to discriminatory treatment in America today? Of course they are—but social class is also important. It’s by way of the erasure of social class as a major factor in American injustice that we wind up in the absurd situation in which a woman of color who makes a quarter million dollars a year plus benefits as a New York stockbroker can claim to be oppressed by a white guy in Indiana who’s working three part time jobs at minimum wage with no benefits in a desperate effort to keep his kids fed, when the political candidates that she supports and the economic policies from which she profits are largely responsible for his plight.

In politics as in physics, every action produces an equal and opposite reaction, and so absurdities of the sort just described have kindled the inevitable blowback. The Alt-Right scene that’s attracted so much belated attention from politicians and pundits over the last year is in large part a straightforward reaction to the identity politics of the left. Without too much inaccuracy, the Alt-Right can be seen as a network of young white men who’ve noticed that every other identity group in the country is being encouraged to band together to further its own interests at their expense, and responded by saying, “Okay, we can play that game too.” So far, you’ve got to admit, they’ve played it with verve.

That said, on the off chance that any devout worshippers of the great god Kek happen to be within earshot, I have a bit of advice that I hope will prove helpful. The next time you want to goad affluent American liberals into an all-out, fist-pounding, saliva-spraying Donald Duck meltdown, you don’t need the Jew-baiting, the misogyny, the racial slurs, and the rest of it.  All you have to do is call them on their class privilege. You’ll want to have the popcorn popped, buttered, and salted first, though, because if my experience is anything to go by, you’ll be enjoying a world-class hissy fit in seconds.

I’d also like to offer the rest of my readers another bit of advice that, again, I hope will prove helpful. As Donald Trump becomes the forty-fifth president of the United States and begins to push the agenda that got him into the White House, it may be useful to have a convenient way to sort through the mix of signals and noise from the opposition. When you hear people raising reasoned objections to Trump’s policies and appointments, odds are that you’re listening to the sort of thoughtful dissent that’s essential to any semblance of democracy, and it may be worth taking seriously. When you hear people criticizing Trump and his appointees for doing the same thing his rivals would have done, or his predecessors did, odds are that you’re getting the normal hypocrisy of partisan politics, and you can roll your eyes and stroll on.

But when you hear people shrieking that Donald Trump is the illegitimate result of a one-night stand between Ming the Merciless and Cruella de Vil, that he cackles in Russian while barbecuing babies on a bonfire, that everyone who voted for him must be a card-carrying Nazi who hates the human race, or whatever other bit of over-the-top hate speech happens to be fashionable among the chattering classes at the moment—why, then, dear reader, you’re hearing a phenomenon as omnipresent and unmentionable in today’s America as sex was in Victorian England. You’re hearing the voice of class bigotry: the hate that dare not speak its name.


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Caryn said...


Sorry, I seem to be consistently miscommunicating or articulating my question. I also apologize for dragging up this, "brutish"/culture-of-abuse/acceptace-or-normalization?" issue again. It is in fact OT or at best a side issue.
Gratefully, in you reply to Patricia, I think I can clarify.

"I'm finding it uncomfortable that Caryn would use so loaded a term as "brutish" when talking about the coping mechanisms other women use to deal with the ugly realities of their lives. "

I'm not disparaging my friends or their coping mechanisms. The word 'brutish' was, (or should have more clearly been) used to describe those very ugly realities of their lives. My biggest point in this was that upon returning to the US, I happened upon these ladies in 2 months, in 2 different states. IMHO, It's pretty extreme and I would have thought rare, or at least not so ubiquitous as it is appearing now. SO my question is: Is the openness, casualness and normalization of this abuse widespread? Is it a normal facet of life for pockets or swaths of our population? Has it always been this way and I've been living under a rock? Is it by and large unusual and yet just some weird coincidence that I've met a flurry of ladies with the same opening greetings? (I mean, you know, stuff does happen, it could be just some weird coincidence? It's pretty freaky though.)

I wasn't actually asking if you, personally condone it. I think I can safely say from reading your thoughts and philosophies for the past few years, that you most certainly would not.

Now: If this is still not clear, then I concede. I'll just stay quiet.

In my best Roseanne Roseanna Danna: "Nevermind".

Lastly: Whew! Tough crowd this week! LOL, I also wanted to say - I do appreciate that you take the time the reply to every single comment; & I can't speak for others, but for me, please don't feel obligated. Particularly if a comment is, (as this week) somewhat OT or peripheral.

Shane W said...

I haven't noticed a lot of domestic violence amongst the wage class women I work with, and as a gay man, I'm used to gaining the confidence of women who discuss a lot of intimate details. The big theme amongst my wage class female coworkers seems to be sex, sex, sex, toys, kink, more toys, more kink, more sex, did I mention sex, toys, and kink? I guess it's the aftereffects of Fifty Shades of Gray. I understand it, as I come from a region with a long history of sexual repression, it makes sense that the wage class, which is slower to change, is bingeing on the formerly taboo, though it does get tiresome, and I do sometimes long for good old-fashioned taste and discretion, even if I have no qualms at all about the practices and have indulged myself.
I'm reserved about just what might be possible in a Trump presidency precisely b/c of that underlying dark energy in the US that I mentioned in the comment last week that is finding expression. So what if Trump manages to end the neoliberal consensus and manage the crises that are to come if the nation has this underlying dark energy that's every bit as bad as 30s-40s Europe? It may not be enough. Simply handling the nuts and bolts policy, etc. may not be enough to diffuse the underlying dark energy that is dying to be expressed.
Along those lines, I must agree w/JMG about the disturbing trends in the leftward end of things. I've noticed minds shutting down as the election season has given way to the presidency. For God's sake, last year Tavis Smiley was writing about "black folk getting on the Trump train" and similar articles were appearing about Trump's LGBT overtures. Now, it's all ranting about "bigotry" all the time. I've seen people who were thoughtful in the aftermath of the election shut down into mouthing standard talking points about "bigotry".
As someone who is well aware of this history of the South, I cannot look towards reenacting the Reconstruction to Civil Rights period of racial animus and hostility without an overwhelming sense of dread. This is the most diverse region of the country, and anyone who knows the history of the South/Confederacy rightly would look upon racial strife with a sense of dread. Even here in KY, which modeled lawful desegregation. Even though my region was not part of Mexico, we share an agrarian, class stratified history and are kindreds in many ways, and I fully expect Mexico to be the most powerful nation in North America in not too many years, and I find the people, on the whole, to be extremely gracious, kind, generous, and well mannered. Honestly, based on my experiences and what I expect of the future, 10 Mexicans are worth 100 jüeros, based on thrift, community, industry, values, etc. Just look at how the jüeros are self-destructing over the election. On the other hand, I would have to say that, on the whole, the African-American community as a whole is going to keep its time-honored tradition of holding the bag, with notable exceptions. I'm thinking that Trump may be able to peel off some of the Democrats captive constituencies if his policies have tangible benefits for those communities

Shane W said...

Honestly, if you're from the South and over 30, I don't see how you can possibly interact with Mexican immigrants regularly and not be reminded of where we came from and what was lost. It's always in my mind: "I remember when we used to be like that."

Ozark Chinquapin said...


Have you ever considered that starting a race war could backfire on whites in a major way? The whole modern concept of race developed during a particular episode of history, one where the an inordinate amount of global power was concentrated in the hands of white people. That era is rapidly coming to an end. Conflict is sure to happen in future America and the rest of the world too, and if whites become known as being extremist fanatics who can't co-exist with anyone else, that's just going to unite others against whites. Since you bring up Nazi Germany, I have to say that whatever your personal opinions of them are, the fact is that they lost. The Nazis created a horrible mess for their own people as well as others. If Nazi Germany hadn't been in the thrall of such an extreme ideology, they may have gotten more allies and been able to win the war, or even have been able to improve their position in the world without starting the biggest war in history. Even if ethical matters don't concern you one bit, you have to admit that the Nazis were losers in the literal sense, and any group seeking to emulate them has a good chance of meeting a similar fate.

That's not to say that I think the complete opposite, open borders, is a good idea either. Securing borders, restricting new immigration and deporting illegal immigrants is one matter, but driving out citizens en masse solely based on their ethnicity is a can of worms that I hope never to see opened.

Robert Mathiesen said...

I'm not a Boomer, Dammerung. I'm a card-carrying member of the Silent Generation, the only generation in the history of the country that never produced a President, and who yielded far less than its proportional share of all kinds of elected officials. Don't confuse us with the Boomers, who (by and large) grabbed what they could from us as well as from you and felt entitled to do so.

We Silents grew up in a far more dangerous, sneaky, treacherous and divided world than the Boomers ever experienced -- more so, it seems to me, than the world of today. We, too, "are quite ingenious when it comes methods of committing violence." When we do fight we don't bother to fight fairly. Nor do we worry all that much about ethics or morality when the lives of our own kindred are at stake. And as we age, we trust more and more in the ancient adage: "Age and treachery nearly always win out against youth and strength." My generation, in its old age, has acquired a very deep understanding of treachery.

So thank you for exposing so many of your vulnerabilities in your posts this week. They show me and my generation very clearly how to win the war you hope to start. This week you have played Smaug to our Bilbo.

Along the lines of what Ray Wharton said, I should also mention that my wife and her relatives on her mother's side (who are very many) are all half Hispanic. Your program threatens them, and thus gives me a very personal stake in the coming conflict. 'nuff said.

Raymond Duckling, too, has a very good understanding of how this conflict will almost certainly be won by the Mexican side, and has spotted some of your side's most useful vulnerabilities. It is useful and inspiring to know what one's own ancestors were capable of doing in similar situations. If I were a betting man, I would bet that the Mexicans will win any future war for "ethnonationalist dominion" in the Southwest quarter of the US.

Jbarber said...

JMG, thank you. Eric S helped me see the posts as frustration, so my choice of "disdain" was off.
Also, is it odd that the introduction to The Iliad was harder to read than the actual text? lol. It was written by Richmond Lattimore, copyright 1951. Without his introduction I would have been rather lost, I must admit, but reading it was like walking through molasses for my brain.

onething said...

Something very strange is happening. Something almost occult, maybe karmic forces. The word “bewitched” keeps coming to mind. This thing is way bigger than Trump. Perhaps his presidency is a catalyst for it, but if things go bad, it will be because so many people wanted it to. Like the concept of a Manchurian candidate, who gets the right signal and then goes into a trance and commits a crime, it looks to me like huge chunks of the population have been given the signal.

Fred said, “The left is obsessed and distracted by Trump and they don't even see it.”

Yes, yes. Please listen to Fred. People are giving so much energy to erecting an edifice of explosives. Trump isn't building it, the reactive populace is building it. Who bewitched you?

Hateful and careless mendacity – isn't this true of many? Dismissive humanity and shallow spirituality? Why all the incredible attention that includes twisting of words and taking them out of context when the politicians that the left are mourning lie, cheat, steal, and keep bombing people? So they talk nice about Muslims and then bomb them? So Obama said the call of the Muezzin is the most beautiful sound in the world. But he bombs them. Oh, heck, Obama doesn't bomb them in a vacuum. There are so many collaborators.

"In my view it was always going to be the fact-loathing, worker-exploiting, anti-science, crypto-religious, violence-hungry, bigoted nativists who were going to run us into the bank of history."

Livingstone, you are in an echo chamber.
Right now it really looks like “the disaster that awaits us” may be coming from the left, not from the people you categorize above. I experience such cognitive dissonance when reading posts like yours because it is as if no matter how bad the crimes are on the democratic or left side of the equation, they are dismissed as somehow not amounting to much.

One anti Hillary friend a few months ago quipped, “What would she have to do, rip the heads off of kittens on live TV to get their attention?”

I saw this election as between a narcissist and a psychopath. Both are serious personality disorders, but one is worse. Apparently that is the best we could do. When I read certain posts, some of what they say is true enough, but large swathes of it are outright exaggerations. Suddenly Trump is under a kind of scrutiny (and I am all for that) but where was this scrutiny before? Why the free pass to the other side? So many accusations are equally true of large numbers of politicians and elites, certainly including Clinton. Maybe this proves my theory of projection, and because we are full of hate and guilt, we blame it that any way to handle things?

I think what we need is a national day of repentance in sackcloth and ashes.

Bryant said...

As a Person of Color who identifies with the Alt-Right, I'm very appreciative of this post. I think the left has somehow slipped into a world of their own, and have zero desire to actually compromise or respect the viewpoints of anyone else, even someone who is basically just trying to get away from them.

So, at this point, I'll rather be with people who might want to kill me later, than to accept people who basically want to destroy my sense of right and wrong now. Killing all meaning for me is worse than death.

sandy said...

@Vicky. Greetings from the Big Mango (BKK). I would be sorry to see Bill go also. However he is not the most intelligent commenter, I am. haha.

With regard to your comparison of voter income to core (30%, 70%,?) alt- right, please remember, correlation is not causation.

Relax and enjoy the ride haha. chill.

Regards, Pearce M. Schaudies.
Minister of Future

Caryn said...


I just want to thank Patricia, Karen, Scotlyn, Doubting Thomas and especially Shane for replying with helpful perspectives; and of course, our esteemed Archdruid and gracious host for having us here in his virtual living room and overseeing this difficult discussion.

John Michael Greer said...

Sister BoysMom, oh, granted. I don't think Conan said anything about watching your foes run about clucking frantically like frenzied chickens, but he probably should have.

Justin, exactly. There needs to be some basis for a national identity; Dammerung's mistake (and of course it's not his alone, or the alt-right's alone; there are plenty of people on the other side of the color bar who make the same error) is in thinking that race is the only possible basis. Given the popularity of Julius Evola on the far right these days, you'd think that his concept of Ghibelline-imperial culture as the unifying force would be more popular! An alt-center could very easily unite around traditional American ideals -- with an acknowledgment that those ideals haven't always been lived up to, but a celebration of the many times and ways they have been -- and such a unifying force, given its historical depth, could have great power. You're right that this would involve a forceful rejection of the radical left's demonization of men, people of European ancestry, and so on, but that's going to have to happen anyway, and I'd much prefer to see it happen on the basis of ideals that I value, rather than those that I personally detest.

Izzy, glad to hear it. This nation's political system only works well when there are two parties with strong foundations at the grassroots level. As for fragile masculinities, well, yeah; I remember being adolescent, and needing to learn some basic social skills in order to get laid; I also remember being a little older, and needing to learn a larger range of social skills in order to establish and maintain a lasting relationship. Somehow I didn't find any of it particularly painful, and my wife and I celebrated our 32nd anniversary last July. So I also wonder where all the shrieking is coming from.

Bob, I'm glad to hear that sanity is beginning to creep through the (wise)cracks.

Wbricex, you're welcome. Hmm -- you may well have a point there.

Kevin, thank you. I'll see if I can chase down the other one -- I saw it, too, and was fool enough not to bookmark it.

August, oh, no question, it makes a difference that it's right out there in the open -- and that's going to involve some dizzying shifts. I could see a really spectacular crisis of legitimacy spiraling out of this to embrace literally all the institutions of American public life -- not least because all of them have been cooking up their own "alternative facts."

Ray, that's possible. I've seen so much overt class bigotry directed at working class Americans in recent years that I'd be slow to discount its importance in the current mess, but this wouldn't be the first time that a cultural crisis was overdetermined! I'll have to mull that over, though.

DoubtingThomas, it's entirely possible that I read something into your comment that doesn't belong there. I should probably mention, though, that I don't consider the Law of Attraction to be generally valid -- I got to see way too many people bankrupt themselves in the housing bubble by following the advice of The Secret, for one thing, and of course traditional occult teachings don't support the claims made for the LoA. Still, that's really a topic for the other blog.

Armata, I have to admit the thought of jump-qualified staretsi made my day!

John Michael Greer said...

Caryn, okay, thanks for clarifying; I did in fact misunderstand you. I can't speak for women, of course, but the majority of women I know well enough to discuss such things have had to deal with at least some of the sort of sexual harrassment we're discussing, and this is nothing new -- it goes back many decades. I'm not sure if you've been living under a rock or just happened to escape it, but to judge from what I've been told, it's pretty ubiquitous and has been for a very long time.

Jbarber, thank you. I appreciate that. As for Lattimore's preface -- well, yes, there's a reason why Homer is world-famous as a writer and Richmond Lattimore isn't!

Onething, you know, actual repentance, with or without the sackcloth and ashes, might actually do the trick. I don't imagine we'll see that, with all sides zooming on a bad dose of moral self-righteousness, but if it could be done, it might work.

Bryant, I get that. A significant fraction of the American left has gone full-blown totalitarian, complete with such Orwellian touches as thoughtcrime and the frantic rewriting of history by the tenured academics of the Ministry of Truth. The one thing I'd suggest to you is that there are alternatives other than the activist left and the alt-right.

Caryn, you're welcome and thank you.

Vesta said...

@Raymond Duckling,

My bad, I was unclear. On the contrary, I respect and admire Bill, not least for his willingness to push back against JMG (and others as well).

What I disagree with is your suggestion that our host wants or encourages sycophants. Where are they hiding? It's been more than a decade, there ought to be a right chorus by now...

And if it really were so, then explain how folks with such disparate opinions, values, and backgrounds can here so fruitfully discuss so many important and sensitive issues? Much as I admire Bill, that's entirely JMG's doing, and he doesn't deserve your sly insult (nor does he need me to defend him, but I've been drinking).

And I do enjoy your posts Raymond. Cheers-

onething said...

Bryant your post was, as the English say, brilliant.

Alt-center, count me in.

Ray Wharton said...

I agree that class bigotry is very important. Following my line of thought from Nietzsche I am more and more thinking that the basis of the divide is on a fault line through of values. Wouldn't you agree that their is only a frog hair distinction between 'values bigotry' and moral hubris? If you hold to a moral system with hubris, conflating your values as something true or certain, then it is so tiny a distance to seeing other values as certainly faulty.

If your values are certainly true, than opposed values are false. Even if belief in objective truth is lacking, and a pragmatic take is assumed than to believe that your values cannot lose is a shiver away from believing opposed values cannot win.

The alternative of such hubris requires tolerance for uncertainty; radical uncertainty it is fair to day.

I think that there is class hubris, and I think that it is closer to the marrow. If I am right, then knowing what a person is proud of would show what they this in despicable.

Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source. True humility is the only antidote to shame. - from one of my favorite cartoons.

Every complaint against Trump from a place of hypocrisy will glorify Trump. Because of that circumstances have deprived the left, from the first day, of many tactics to check him. Those who separate from the lies of parties past need not have this liability, and can effectively create political pressure to define the post Globalist ideology.

What would an Alt-Center look like?

This week's thread has been good process.

Jes Gallagher said...

Dammerung, please tell us more about yourself. I've yet to encounter such a silver-tongued Nazi. I imagine your story will be quite instructive.

Robert Mathiesen said...

I particularly like JMG's term alt-center. For decades, whe asked to specify my own political position, I've replied, "I'm a radical moderate." That answer generally makes no sense at all to the people who asked me. I think I will start answering "alt-center" now and see what happens.

Robert Mathiesen said...

Oh, I know, M. Smith, I know. I'm half Danish American, a quarter Pennsylvania Dutch, and the remaining quarter is mostly English, with a smidgin of Dutch and French Canadian. I'm a 14th-generation American, and my most recent ancestors came here from Denmark right after our Civil War ended. I was using the term "Anglo" loosely, as the usual cover-term for people in the Southwest whose first language is English instead of Spanish.

Fred the First said...

The alternate facts is on all fronts. One of the organizers of the women's march, Linda Sarsour, has been on recent TV interviews and on Twitter advocating for Sharia law to be enacted in this country, and the Huffington Post writes a piece talking about the "trolling" she is getting on social media for advocating Sharia law.

She does support Sharia law coming to the US, and people disagree with that position, expressed it to her on social media (the same forum she used to express it), so what is the issue?

And now celebrities and journalists with their precious blue check marks next to their names on Twitter are coming out in support of a woman who wants Sharia law to be adopted by states. Are they trying to start a civil war in this country? To ask Americas to adopt a completely different set of laws and values, ones with conflict with the liberal left in every sense, is going to push even middle-of-the-road people to the right. Plus its everything the alt-right media has been saying for years - the left wants to destroy America and will have Sharia here if they get their way.

I'm always confused that if someone wants to live in particular culture and law system, why they just don't go live in the country or region it originated in. Why try to change the place where you live to make it be like the place you left? Why did you even come to this country if you want to live like you did in your previous country? If it was for education or job opportunities here, then go back and create them in your country.

I'm starting to sound like my grandparents!

Fred the First said...

Thanks for your reply about the women's march. Did you see the comments of women, I'm assuming by the names, who said that "if you call a person a woman because she has a vagina and t*ts, then you are a sexist?" They were protesting the whole idea of the women's march being identified with women, or so called women.

It almost sounds like`an Onion piece. I mean really, when you have someone's attention you are going to use it to argue biology? The most evil person that ever existed is now the President of the US (this is the impetus for the march) and you take your five minutes of fame to denounce your fellow marchers for calling themselves a gender noun that has been in existence for thousands of years? Wow. (Slow clapping)

Where does this thinking originate? I keep hearing college campuses, but which ones? And its got to keep getting fed somehow.

I have daughters graduating high school shortly, and if they go to college, I want to avoid having their minds filled with this stuff.

Izzy said...

@Dammerung: There's so much wrong with your reaction that I can't begin to describe it. But as someone who's 34 and doesn't intend to marry or have a LTR, has a good deal of fun with the partners I choose, and finds a "below-replacement birth rate" a good thing on a planet with seven billion people, I figure if I'm inspiring visceral hatred in insecure white guys I'm doing something right.

@JMG: Yeah, I'm not sure either. My suspicion is that, as women are in more of a position to pick our own partners (thanks to birth control and jobs), are being increasingly less shamed for our sexuality and the physical components thereof*, (save by the equivalent of a couple people here, which, meh) and are also voting with our money for media that features women in non-disposable-love-interest roles, a certain population of young men today cannot deal. Or will not, rather: I'm of the opinion that they could pull up their socks and go to the gym more.

Agreed about the two parties. As a leftist, I would love to see a GOP with the principles it had in, say, the Eisenhower era, or even the Bush I era, where he signed the ADA and the Clean Water Act.

* As a romance novelist, I occasionally see links to articles about how romance is inspiring unrealistic standards in women, and I always suspect that the authors mean "any standards at all."

DoubtingThomas said...

@bryant: "As a Person of Color who identifies with the Alt-Right, I'm very appreciative of this post. I think the left has somehow slipped into a world of their own, and have zero desire to actually compromise or respect the viewpoints of anyone else, even someone who is basically just trying to get away from them.

So, at this point, I'll rather be with people who might want to kill me later, than to accept people who basically want to destroy my sense of right and wrong now. Killing all meaning for me is worse than death."

Hi Bryant,

1) I'm curious what the alt-right means to you? 2) What is your definition of the alt-right? You say you want to get away from them - the left. 3) Get away from what, specifically, and to where ?

You say that you want to get away from the Left because they want to destroy your sense of right and wrong and that begs 2 more questions. 4) Why would you allow your sense of right and wrong to be defined by anyone else? 5) What is it about your sense of right and wrong that is so assailable?

The left/right of any persuasion are just people and you will find them all over the planet, within families, within every social structure. Wherever you go to on the planet you will encounter left and right people. Even if you never moved around and stayed fixed in one location those other people would still exist and you run the risk of a "left" person manifesting within your own family - perhaps even one of your own offspring.

It seems to me that you are painting yourself as a victim when you say "people who basically want to destroy my sense of right and wrong" when in fact you are not a victim - it's a personal choice whether you subscribe to someone else's views or not.

My understanding is that the alt-right "is a loose group of people with far-right ideologies who reject mainstream conservatism in the United States. White nationalist Richard Spencer coined the term in 2010 to define a movement centered on white nationalism, and has been accused of doing so to whitewash overt racism, white supremacism, and neo-Nazism.".

It strikes me as rather extreme for you to say that you, a person of colour, would prefer to align yourself with people who don't value you at all because of your colour and they would actually want nothing to do with you. The likes of commenter Dammerung above has false beliefs of the type "urban blacks do 0 introspection" - that would be his way of demonising & dehumanising You in order to justify his beliefs about people of colour.

So you are aligning yourself with people who outright reject you in order to get away from people who cannot impose their beliefs upon you without your conscious permission.

I've asked 5 questions of you, a lot I know, but I would love to hear what your answers would be.

DoubtingThomas said...

@JMG: Oh I agree that the LOA as presented in The Secret is rubbish. Commercialised tat worthy of disdain. The Secret is a knock off from Hicks/Abraham who in turn knocked of their spiel from a tiny interpretation of small section the much larger body of work by Seth/Roberts. Having read around 15 of the Seth/Roberts books it is clear that there is much much more. 40-50 years prior to Seth, the Alice Bailey series of works from the 1930s are also good although I don't claim to have read all 27 volumes. Being the occult scholar you know all this I'm sure. My reading range on the larger topic is patchy. I mentioned LOA as a simplistic way ( given the space restrictions ) of raising the idea "that how we are and what we do attracts the experiences we receive". That condensed expression is itself highly simplified. The high ceremony magic side of things is also interesting although perhaps to elaborate for my tastes but I'm exploring it. As you well know it is just another framework within which to operate. So far my favourite conceptual one is Seth, its permissive and pretty much allows for the others that I have encountered. As you say, for the other blog.

David, by the lake said...

I know this post is not about Trump directly, but the class theme continues to run through events. More to the point, the blindness of Democratic leadership to the change in the game.

Apparently, "senior Democratic senators" have unveiled a massive infrastructure proposal in an effort to embarrass the administration, drive a wedge within the Republican camp, and more or less call (what they see as) Trump's bluff. Now, the devil is in the details, of course, but I could readily see this backfiring on them massively, as they are once again assuming that he is a standard conservative and not this new-thing to the game (a bone fide and irreverent populist who holds traditional Republican orthodoxy in low esteem). If he takes them up on their offer and rams that kind of spending through Congress (twitter-whipping Republicans as necessary), creating large numbers of working class jobs with the stroke of a pen, they will have handed him another four years right out of the gate.

Bogatyr said...

@JMG and Kevin Warner: I wonder if this American Conservative article might be the one you were looking for re the NYT deciding on the day's narrative? How the narrative is made.

Something is definitely in the air. As I've been telling my friends for a while now, the end of the post WW2 global system is upon us, and the change is becoming palpable. Things will change, and for most people it will be for the worse. In an age of scarcity, things like Faerie Festivals will become unsustainable, I suspect; I wonder whether the mass pearl-clutching this week, and Bill Pulliam's dramatic exit, reflect the fact that the decline you've been discussing for so long was a pleasant abstraction to lots of your readers, readers who now digesting the unwelcome news that it's them, not "other people", who are in the front line of collapse? Meanwhile, in the voice of Dammerung, we hear the gloating of nascent warbands... not an abstraction, but armed, planning, and waiting.

Manwhile, I've had to block old friends on Facebook; I feel it's no longer safe to have open and honest political discussions. These arguments have become so bitter, I worry about who might remember them, and I worry for my family. I'm very much mixed as regards Trump; I feel he'll be a disaster in many ways - but, in more important ways, he's far better than Clinton would have been. This, however, is anathema to the campus liberals who form a large part of my social circle.

Some of your readers say that it must have felt like this before the American Civil War. I can't comment on that, but to me it feels like February 1917 in Russia. The Tsar(ina) has finally abdicated, and the only system the people have ever known as been swept away. Abroad, the war continues but the soldiers are already coming home, angry and embittered. Diplomatically, the nation is stalemated, faced by opponents waxing in their power. At home, the Black Hundreds terrorize the streets, seeking to restore the ancient regime in which no-one but them believes any longer; in the provinces, former serfs burn down mansions while the authorities look on, helpless. The people are disillusioned; hungry, alienated, and sickened with the corruption of those in power.

A political adventurer, a mediocrity with a Napoleon complex, takes power. For all his failings, he's the country's last, best hope to establish a moderate system before the final slide into collapse. Meanwhile, revolutionaries no-one has heard of, in back rooms in farflung places, plot and hope for a lucky break.

I find myself wondering: is Trump America's Kerensky?

DoubtingThomas said...

@onething: “Yes, yes. Please listen to Fred. People are giving so much energy to erecting an edifice of explosives. Trump isn't building it, the reactive populace is building it. Who bewitched you?

Correction: Both pro-Trump & anti-Trump people alike are building it, including Trump.

Outpourings of divisive loathing and supercilious disdain emanate from both pro/anti Trump sides and Trump. It’s false to try to say only one side is. Some people on this blog are building it too by trying to blame one side to the exclusion of ( presumably ) their favoured side.

Plenty of anti-Trumpers are blinded to the faults of Hilary or Obama but most certainly not all of them.
Likewise, plenty of pro-Trumpers are blinded to the faults of Trump or any number of previous Republican candidates but again not all.

Going back to Obama’s 2 election wins, there was a significant amount of similar activity about “Obama not being someones president” about “the legitimacy of Obama to be president” ( n.b. Trump himself played that card back then ), about “the danger Obama represented to someones way of living/being/life/beliefs” etc and the list goes on … Everyone expressing those sentiments will have had their own unique set of reasons for doing so. None of this is really new.

I see plenty of self-serving hypocrisy from most of those involved.

DoubtingThomas said...

@onething: "I saw this election as between a narcissist and a psychopath. … Both are serious personality disorders, but one is worse"

Trump clearly has narcissistic traits. Hillary as psychopath? That’s a tough one to diagnose even for professionals well versed in the field but lets assume for the sake of debate that Hilary is a Psychopath. I struggle with the assumption that one is worse than the other. The actions of anyone with either of those personality disorders are going to lie on a spectrum with negative to positive scales. Both have historically done arguably bad things. The people on the receiving end of those “bad" actions will judge one to be worse than the other. I can point you to a Scottish community who are up in arms about the financial, coercive & abusive tactics engaged in by Trump. Equally, no doubt there are people in bombed out parts of the world who don’t have nice things to say of Hilary. Every accusation laid at the feet of one candidate can, in some way, be laid at the other ( perhaps with a slight change of form ).

2 rubbish candidates and Trump won. Time to stop pointing at Hilary. Pointing at her is a diversion/distracting tactic. Having won, Trump deserves the full cognitive attention of every person whose lives may be affected by his behaviours, his personality disorder, his insecurities, his actions.

“Maybe this proves my theory of projection, and because we are full of hate and guilt, we blame it that any way to handle things?

You might appreciate reading some books on Psychology then - “Projection” is a well known phenomena endemic in the world. It is done by pretty much everyone, but in my experience increasingly less so by those who have progressed (via psychoanalytical therapy or in other ways) a significant way along the path of “Knowing Thyself” ( one of the basic tenets of many belief systems ). Interesting things start to happen when a certain threshold of self knowledge is developed - but until that point “projecting” and “blaming others” is a fairly standard way of being in most people. I don’t usually recommend specific books since I believe it is better for people to choose their own. One of the hardest things for anyone to see is themselves - the good and the bad. Knowing Thyself requires brutal self honesty and a refusal to hide from the bad (relativistic term i know) within us - it’s the way to heal those darker corners.

Suddenly Trump is under a kind of scrutiny ... but where was this scrutiny before?

Does it really matter where it was before? The Now is where the power for change is. Focussing on past failings doesn't really help. Learning from the past sure but getting stuck in “blame” / “guilt” about the past is unnecessary and holds back development.

DoubtingThomas said...

@onethig: "I think what we need is a national day of repentance in sackcloth and ashes."

Love it! Perhaps more "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" than blame and mea culpas though ?

Dammerung said...

@Ozark Chinquapin - My version of history is a little more revisionist, naturally. I view Hitler as having lost against the same people and for essentially the same reasons as Qaddafi, though you've got to admit, Hitler put up a way better showing. The first thing the "rebels" did in Libya, before they even infiltrated the capital, is set up Libya's first central bank. Once they took the capital, they exported all of Libya's gold for safe-keeping. It really gets the noggin joggin'.

Well! You've certainly got to hand it to JMG for hitting this nation right in the angst. It's certainly a pretty motley crew that is drawn together to discuss environmental concerns and resource depletion; some of us strike me as downright disreputable.

Nastarana said...

Dear Rant, I think the women's marches were mostly white, if indeed they were, I will take your word for it for sake of discussion, because this is essentially a quarrel among white folk--women of color have their own issues, which are best left for them to deal with as they choose. I saw the marches, large and peaceful so far as I know, no broken windows or heads, as a way of saying to the Trump crowd, OK you got your superannuated, blowdried and botoxed strongman with his featherbrained decorative consort, but if you think that means all us ladies are going to meekly move back in with you and take up servant duties, think again. Most of us saved our money whilst you fellas were blowing yours, and for the older group, the impending cuts in social security are going to hurt, granted, but they will hurt men a lot more than they will us. Like the archdruid said a whiles back, this genie ain't going back in its bottle.

What a lot of folks fail, or don't want, to understand, is that feminism is not and never was about sex. It was always about money, about getting paid what one's work is worth and about having a say in how the wealth we create is to be used. So, the message to (mostly white American) guys is from now on you are paying your own way just like most of us do.

L said...

I have a lot of left activist/SJW types on my Facebook, and the thing that gets me is that even though Trump has ALREADY basically scuppered 2 international trade deals, TPP and NAFTA, that they were mostly opposed to the EU version of, and is making US companies build more things in the US, which makes things harder for multinational corporations, long a favourite bugbear for what I thought was the left, they are ignoring that and acting like the sky is falling and Trump will personally lock up all women, gay people and non-whites or something, which, even if he is a narcissist and a liar, he realistically probably won't. Especially since most of these people live in the UK, so they won't even be personally affected by any legislation he would bring in in that regard. They just fall for the mainstream media propaganda about him and jump in bed with the globalist capitalists... it was the same for Brexit, if less extreme.
The other discussion that I saw taking place was the one on whether it was morally ok to punch that alt right guy. Some of them thought that yes, it was, and some thought that punching was bad in all circumstances. Personally I think that most punching is unnecessary in society at the moment, and that you can morally punch someone, but you forfeit your right to complain about them doing the same to you...
This sort of nonsense is why I no longer consider myself a left libertarian, and have made up the label "community-minded eco-libertarian" as the most accurate short descriptor of my own views.

Kieran O'Neill said...

Having thought this through as well, I'm with Bill Pulliam, and I don't think I could phrase it better.

I'll also note that I share his concern about your figures and definitions of the working class: the exit polls I saw showed that a majority of poor Americans voted blue in the last election. The exact number shifted slightly since the previous two elections, but much of that can be attributed to lower attendance (at least some of which is due to targeted voter suppression campaigns by the Republican party). Concluding, from a few percentile point swing in the voting patterns of the poorest voters, that the election result was the will of the working class, just doesn't seem to be grounded in fact. It doesn't seem to match particularly well with your own definition of the working class (ie those earning day wages rather than salaries), either. Like Bill, I'm concerned that you're stretching the facts, and the narrative, to fit your hypotheses.

I've learned a lot from your writing over the years, co-published fiction with you, and have even credited you in the acknowledgements section of my PhD thesis. Writing has a feel about it, and your prose had a feel I've come to associate with enlightened discussion; comparators being DM Kraig, Dion Fortune, Peregrin Wildoak, or, for a less esoteric example, Siddhartha Mukherjee. This is something I've worked to incorporate into my own writing, as well as my life practice, since it seems to arise from deep within the psyche.

The last year has seen a substantial shift in much of your writing. I'm finding it more difficult to find that enlightened style and feel; rather, I'm getting more of a feel of Mathers at his worst, or even Crowley. This has been accompanied by a concerning rise in casual racism and sexism among the comments below your blog, including your own! "Hysterical" is a very poor choice of word immediately following a mass protest by women against losing their reproductive rights. Could it have been shadow projection? None of these things seem reflective of an inner state that I've come to expect from someone with your level of experience and work with the sacred, and I'm genuinely concerned about you.

But, like Bill, I'm also not sure that I can stay here. I'm sure I'll drop in from time to time, but I am disappointed, and saddened, by the turn things have taken.

(You are, as always, entirely welcome to take my concerns however you will.)

pygmycory said...

The US inaugeration and prior election seems to be taking over Canadian political discussion and making numbers of Canadians run around like chickens clucking frantically, or in a few cases insisting that THEY are going to be Canada's Trump. I have to admit I find it frustrating. It's not even our political mess and it's still messing us over.

Possibly because we have a significant number of underlying problems that are similar, even if we lack the giant military spending, and merely meddle in other people's wars instead of outright starting them.

But surely we could talk about our problems directly, instead of being distracted by the USA's ALL the time? Gah.

pygmycory said...

One thing I've noticed that disturbs me is a lot of the left-wing online petition/activism groups seem to have decided to focus on how evil Trump is, rather than attacking specific issues. This means that the injustices that need to be focused on and dealt with if they want to beat Trump won't get addressed! I TOLD them not to do this, and they've gone and done the exact opposite of what I was hoping for.

jeffinwa said...

Sorry. The linked to page went to the website that could have been searched for news releases.
This works for the transcript:

Tim Camper said...

re: R Spencer/Alt Right, Dolphin claimed "He advocates a white state similar to what the Jewish people have in Isreal."

Untrue. Israel is 25% non-Jewish. Most altright want to deport most/all minorities."Peaceful ethnic cleansing" is Spencer's phrase.

JMG claims Trump is like any other Pres. I argue he will be (w/ help from GOP), by far, the worst ever for the environment .Today's pipeline decisions. Pruitt for EPA (the worst head ever).Perry(!)for Energy. The coming drastic cuts in enviro regulations.The new rule that Congress must approve any new reg. Slashing of climate funding & scientific research. Climate denial (even scrubbed from website already). Slashing of alt energy funding. Tillerson pick for arctic drilling. and much much more already on the agenda. Roll your eyes if you want, but I side with the experts on this. They aren't reacting because they are hysterical SJWs. said...


As always, a perceptive and interesting post!

The reaction by some of your long-term readership has been truly fascinating. Those on the "progressive" wing of your readership have clearly been struggling with your thoughts on Trump for over a year now but it seems like the volcano has finally exploded! My own view is that your take that Trump, however unpleasant a individual he maybe, could be smart enough to get the fact that implementing policies which benefit the working/middle classes of America will make him popular is absolutely spot-on.

Naturally, it is a big question whether he will deliver sufficient changes that do materially benefit the bottom 80% of the population. As you correctly state, we can only watch and see in the coming months.

My own view is that the the majority of the progressive/left-wing wing of politics are too emotionally connected to a particular set of politically correct, liberal and values driven identity politics to really change now. Throw in the fact that many are from the upper income echelons and are quite comfortable with the status quo (or are wannabe elites like the protesting students from the elite universities of America) you are watching the end of liberalism as a significant force in politics.

I have found your interests versus values concept very useful in reviewing politics. The main objection to Trump appears to be based on his rejection of the values of modern liberalism and a class based disgust of his "vulgar" personality and tone rather than any appreciation of class based interests.

In Europe, it is interesting to see the growing signs of panic among the political establishment at the prospect of Trump forcing countries to spend money on their own defence. The Brussels bubble appear to hope that the European member-states will unite into some kind of European superpower but it is far more likely that the euro zone and the EU itself will implode in the coming decade.

Regarding Marine Le Pen, the French elections are definitely one to watch. I remain cautiously confident that she will pull off a victory but there are many stumbling blocks and if's before the May elections, so I could certainly be wrong in my forecast.

Keep up the good work and keep bashing away both sides of the political establishment, both the Republicans and Democrats!

avalterra said...

Yeah, I'm weighing in on this because I see this comment section as one of the few places where opinions can actually be expressed.

Bob said:
>> if poor and working class white Americans are immune to self-delusion, and are the only rational voters in the electorate.<<

I will not put words into JMG's mouth so I will say that I believe that *all* voters were rational and voted their self-interest. It is the poor working class who are consistently portrayed in the media as *not* voting rationally but rather being driven by ignorance, bigotry and xenophobia apparently even to their own detriment. The proposition being put forth is the radical idea that - no they are not ignorant, and though they may have some racist or xenophobic beliefs (as do most people) that was not their motivation for voting for Trump.

>>I don't know much about Burkean Conservatism, but I assume inciting violence at political speeches is not part of the philosophical framework.<<

"Inciting violence"? How about *actual* violence. I don't see anyone on the alt-right burning vehicles (owned by an immigrant, ironically), sucker punching people on the street, doxxing people or throwing bricks and bottles. If you don't like what they have to say then then meet them on the field of ideas and say something better!


Armata said...

As a follow-up to my previous comment, here is a fascinating look at the spiritual roots of both Russia and the Russo-American conflict, based on the theories and observations of Oswald Spengler and Russian thinkers like Fyodor Dostoevsky and Nikolai Berdyaev.

. said...

Western societies are going crazy. I've been involved in fairly grassrootsy politics since about 2003 and the contrast to today is hard to fathom. Back then, trying to get people to care much at all about politics was a problem. Today, noticeably since Brexit in particular, people are all over it! The same people who dismissed politics as boring, as unimportant etc seem to have gone from 'meh, whateva' to 'Omigod this stuff is soooo important' almost overnight. It's absolutely eerie to me.

I think a lot of it is the influence of social media. It has allowed people to take their tendencies for birds of a feather to flock together to extremes by creating 24/7 echo chamber reinforcement complete with the cocaine of belonging, status and approval provided by a 'Like' or 'Retweet' mouse click. And that's spilled out into real life.

The other thing I think is happening is that we've apparently never fully dealt with World War Two. It's as if people have been waiting and waiting for the opportunity to role play being heroic anti-fascist resistance fighters in the 1930's all over again. It's mostly the left, liberals and progressives doing that one.

Then the alt right, I think, is tapping into the reality of the end of Progress and the decline and fall of western civilization. But some of them are responding to it by trying to hold back that tide and by personifying it - blaming liberals, the left, feminists etc. - and frankly, overanalyzing it, rather than simply observing that, you know, the dissolution must happen, collapse happens to everyone, and it can only happen through humans actually doing the dissolving job.

And the job of the preservers is to counter them while acknowledging that, however infuriating it might be, the agents of dissolution (however you identify them) are as much a necessary and inevitable part of a dissolving ecosystem as we are. (I'm not alt right but I want to preserve the best of western civilization and culture through this dissolution).

Patricia Mathews said...

Data point: From New Scientist, just arrived in my mailbox this afternoon, p5:

"Protest? Yes, we can. We (a British science biweekly) mustn't let a superpower (the USA) turn its back on rationality." Or (from the last line) "...the US will jeopardise not only its own people, but all of humanity."

. said...

It's like western societies are collectively struggling with having suddenly heard a rumour that they might have a fatal illness. Or that God/Progress is dead.

Oh and actually I think a thing that might be giving people that feeling especially in Europe is the jarring and persistent appearance on stage of violent religious fanatics who want to recreate their imagined 7th century and who just won't go away. This was not what anyone expected to happen back in,say, the 1960's. People thought that Progress was doing His work and all of that time would take care of all that darkness.

But not only did it not disappear, it grew and spread since then. That's got to be niggling away in the subconscious of a lot of western believers in Progress. And loss of faith is one of the most painful things. I don't know how they're all going to get through it. I know how I did, kind of, but a whole society edging closer to that void just can't end well.

But I remember you saying that the civil religion of an era is basically that of the elites - or was it that the rationalist phase is? And that most people never entirely buy into that. So maybe the majority of people don't end up in the abyss?

Anyway, I suppose on the plane of religious belief the work of those who've been through it already is to help other people find their way across, basically by being demonstrably ok over on the other side. But I see people who I think can't handle it. I think they're too fragile to face it. But then who am I to judge that?

Sometimes it's like they're pushing for opposition, looking to be challenged. Part of that seems to be that opposition shores up their certainty about what they believe so I don't like helping with that because these are all Progress believers I'm talking about. But sometimes these days it feels like they know on some level that reality is not adding up the way it should and they're asking me to help demolish some of their narratives. That's scary though, because they're not really making a conscious decision to lose their faith that way and would they really choose to if they knew what it would involve?

Things feel very dangerous these days. I'm torn between political involvement vs hiding at home and knitting.


latheChuck said...

In the last few days, I've learned that the Women's March on Washington was for:
1. unrestricted abortion / reproductive rights,
2. fighting climate change,
3. using travel reservations made in anticipation of Clinton's inauguration,
4. showing Trump that some people don't like him,
5. showing Trump that women can be called back to march again, if the need arises (if/when he actually does something that upsets them),
6. showing solidarity with regard to a platform of issues, even though that was assembled during the march.

Before the march, I heard nothing about what it would be about, only that it would interfere with downtown traffic.

Justin said...

JMG, you're forgetting that almost nobody on the alt-right has actually read Evola, and many simply understand him as "Hitler wasn't right-wing enough" - which is perhaps true in a certain sense, but not in the sense that more gas chambers and secret police were the solution. Of course, the alt-right doesn't think there were gas chambers (I think there were to be clear), but that's getting back into the Gordian knot that I'm not supposed to talk about.

In any case, although I think Evola is good descriptively (in terms of describing the world of Tradition), I don't think we can go back to traditional theocratic monarchies except through the processes which created them in the first place, which is as good as saying that God has to do it. But I don't see much point in his prescriptions, because if you accept the world of Tradition as the best world, only circumstances which can be reasonably described as created by God can lead to that world, so mortal action in that direction is pointless. I've only ever read Men Among The Ruins, and plan to keep it that way, at least until I've gotten through a whole lot more philosophy. I doubt I'm part of any particular spiritual aristocracy so I'll pass on Ride The Tiger unless you think I should read it.

You are right that the unreasonable bashing of European people needs to stop. It does not serve anyone's interests, except maybe those who think they can achieve a people's revolution using sufficiently radicalized non-whites. We may have gotten lucky in terms of the power we once commanded, but we didn't use that power in a more noble or more mendacious way than anyone else did. I think Nietzsche said something about not mistaking clawlessness for pacifism after all. Telescopic philanthropy is also an entirely European invention, which feeds nicely into the themes of class warfare of this week's post.

Anthony Romano said...

As usual I'm late to the party. I'll have the second an earlier poster that this was one of the more "disorderly" responses to your essays that I've seen ever seen in 8 years of reading this blog.

Regarding the essay itself, I feel like part of why people are responding so dramatically to Trump is that he lays bare the plutocracy we live in. I think that to a lot of people, Trump as stripping away the veneer of legitimacy. There is no pretense, and thats causing a lot of people to freak out.

Trump clearly signposts the massive dysfunction gripping our country (I think right and left could agree to that, albeit with different notions about what is dysfunctional).

As regards the comment section. I too will miss Bill. Whether he was in agreement or not with JMG, he always brought something interesting to the conversation (I reckon thats a good deal more than I can say about myself).

As for the alt-right discussion that has peppered these comments. It has been interesting here from Dammerung and others, but I don't think it has made me any more sympathetic to that worldview. I still see it as same old white nationalism with a new coat of paint.

I believe it was Justin, who several essay back, link to a blog essay where the author identified a great sense of Anomie as the driving force behind the emergence of the Alt-right. I felt like the author hit on something true there, but his prescription was...a white ethnostate. Yikes, way scuttle an otherwise cogent point.

Class doesn't seem to have anything to do with it. The people bearing the brunt of this economy can't afford Adobe Photoshop and don't have the time to spend their evenings putting MAGA hats on anime schoolgirls, they got that second job to get to in order to keep the heat on.

Final note, my fiance works for the western arts foundation in their IT department. They have already held meetings about potential restructuring that may be necessary following cuts of the National Endowment for the Arts. Whatever you think of the NEA, that is one way in which Trump is tangibly threatening my families livelihood.

I work as a biologist for an environmental consulting company. If the new admin/congress manages to gut the EPA and Nixon's landmark environmental laws, my company may also endure "restructuring". Needless to say, Trump and his cabinet are not inspiring any confidence in me.

My two cents, take it as you will.

Armata said...

Good one about Linda Sarsour and the hypocrisy of the feminist Left when it comes to identity politics. It's especially ironic that so many self-identified feminists and "progressives" would embrace and defend someone who is openly pushing for Sharia Law, which is one of the most openly misogynistic legal systems in the history of the world. It would seem that the cult of multiculturalism and political correctness has deprived a great many otherwise intelligent people of the ability to think rationally.

Cultural Marxism and post-modern liberalism is the god that failed.

. said...

@ Bogatyr

"Meanwhile, I've had to block old friends on Facebook; I feel it's no longer safe to have open and honest political discussions. These arguments have become so bitter, I worry about who might remember them, and I worry for my family."

This is happening throughout the western world. I've lost count of the number of people I've seen from Russia, to Israel, Spain, Germany, the UK etc who have said the exact same thing. Word for word almost.

It's part of the same process that seems to be happening right here in the comments section of the ADR. And many if not most of the people experiencing it are disconnected from others who are in the same boat and are not aware that this is a collective phenomenon right now that has been building for a few years. It's not personal. It's a much bigger and weirder cracking up than that.


Raymond Duckling said...


Did I just insult JMG? Would you care to believe that English is not my native language, and that I have no idea what that has to do with the word "sycophancy"?

What I wanted to say is that over the years I have observed some traces of... fanboyism??? ... in the commentariat. I certanly know I have displayed those myself more than once. This does not need to be deliverately cultivated, is our social primate nature to look up to our leaders. There is nothing wrong with sicere admiration if it is well deserved.

The problem is that JMG can be, - and from time to time has been, - factually wrong. The Ebola panic of autum 2014 is the first case that jumps to mind. In those cases, we need people that is confident enough to propose altenative views; and knowledgeable enough to have those views being actually useful; and articulate enough to pass through the standard troll filters, - that are in place for totally different reasons, but that may end up working as de facto censorship. The list of people in the commentariat that meets all those requirements is pretty thin, and Bill has one of the top spots in that list.

Look at what's happening here. Dammerung has been having a couple of field days working his meme magic on this forum, though the channel being text-only it has worked mostly as a meme-magic-vacine, instead. But it is hard not to emphatize with Bill's concerns with those sorts of displays blatlanty in our colective faces. It is factually true that this is not what the week's post is about, but it is not obvious why we should not be taking it into consideration as well.

I am just sad that he could not find a more effective way to demonstrate his frustration than walking out of the door.

PRiZM said...

I'd like to echo the sentiment of Caryn by saying thanks for taking the time to respond to so many of these comments, but this time doing so while a good many of them have been condescending and/or opposed to you. It shows how important this dialog is to you, while it can be kept in a respectful tone. It also helps everyone appreciate the nature of the situation. While I hope you never join social media, this one time having access to Facebook has helped me realize that this situation is extremely volatile and not likely to fizzle away. Sadly, while this is the time when activism and grassroots movements are ripe for harvesting and developing, this time probably won't be much different from the Occupy movement, except I worry that it may carry us into conflict. How far away is conflict when people are readily turning their backs on dialog?

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

Dear JMG,

cc other readers

Like Kieran, I have noticed a change in tone, style and intellectual content in your writing in this blog. This seems to date from around the time you stepped down as Archdruid and took up writing for a site that's behind a paywall. At the moment I don't remember the name of that site, and don't visit sites I can't read, so I have no notion of whether you are still writing for it. Also around that time you wrote that you'd had some changes in your ideas about the universe and our place in it, some new insights. All correlation, not causation, so possibly coincidence, but in everything I observe, being human, I can't help looking for patterns.

I've been reading your posts and some of your books for a very, very long time and your thinking and writing have been deeply influential in my life. I have a great affection and admiration for you--or at least your written persona, not knowing you personally--and will continue to read your posts. I have also valued a great deal the opportunity to read so many intelligent comments from such a wide variety of people. It has often felt like a real community.

However, I, like others, am finding some of the comments lately to be offensive: not because they are in disagreement with my beliefs (which many are), but because so many of them are so binary-thinking, and insulting to those not on their "side." This shuts down true dialogue and exploration. I fear that perhaps your newer, more emphatic writing style might encourage some of this, because people often don't read and interpret as carefully as they maybe should.

I hope I am not witnessing a devolution into the kind of forum that I generally avoid because there is so much pointless just-this-side-of-trolling (from variety of perspectives) that little is to be gained by reading.

In general, I believe in decency, in not wanting to harm others, in working together to improve life for all (including other species), whether in a family or community or on a larger scale. I believe in equal rights and freedom of religion for all, not merely for persons of any one particular religion, race, class or gender. I also believe that accomplishing anything truly worthwhile is not to be done by attacking others, throwing shade, accusing the other side of hypocrisy, employing casual slurs and so on. I realize my ideas about what is worthwhile might not be shared by all.

I'm sure many readers will find this awfully kumbaya, and it does sound simplistic when written down. However: peace takes courage, as a very wise person once said to me, and which I use as a sort of mantra when trying to resolve problems and issues in my own life, or discuss difficult topics with people with whom I do not agree.

I have always valued your posts for their thought-provoking ideas and have always valued this forum as a place of learning and understanding gained through thoughtful dialogue. I hope it will continue to be so.

Best Regards,

Justin said...

JMG, er, although I agree about the basic social skills necessary to get laid etc and the fact that lots of politics is driven by sexually frustrated young men, things are pretty dire these days for the majority of young men. There's credible evidence, for instance, that 20% of young men sleep with 80% of the women, an arrangement that has plenty to do with human biology, birth control and smartphones. Of course, I don't believe that the universe is obligated to produce fairness (and have a girlfriend), but the reality on the ground is that young men like myself, who have one sexual partner (not zero or several) are minorities these days. And of course, there's a religious-political system that doesn't need naming that uses polygamy as a way to produce both sexually frustrated young men and lots of children in order to spread itself.

Although I'm aware that a fairly diverse variety of sexual politics have produced civilizations worth living in, including matriarchal ones, the reality is that there might be consequences to our actions. For instance, it's hardly an original observation that a lot of feminists are unmarried women over 40 and there might be an element of sour grapes in their disdain for their married sisters. Or that young men with very little to lose, which in a rich society could be well-paid jobs, but in a much poorer one are probably girlfriends, wives and children, are easily radicalized. It's almost as if - and I'm veering into hardcore Nazi territory here - society needs to integrate male and female roles in a mutually acceptable way in order to have a future.

Colin said...

The idea that we should pay more to the empire for our “defence” looks a tiny bit ridiculous when you consider Finland. (not part of NATO, maximum defence expenditure 1.9% of GDP...)

Bryant said...

@DoubtingThomas, I don't usually answer questions but I'll give it a shot here.

1) I'm curious what the alt-right means to you?

Basically? What is called "reactionary" these days. I generally am more traditional than I am not, and would prefer to keep things that way. I was "conservative" in the 1980s when I was born, and as society continues to flow left, I'm ever closer to the fringe where only the Right would accept me.

I've been involved with the alt-right for awhile, and I've come to realize its a large tent that accommodates everyone from Pepe-posting teenagers to literal Nazis.

I'm okay being grouped with them, the truth is. Their hate for me is not nearly as frothing as the left is for me, and quite a few of them are accepting of my identity and my sense of meaning.

2) What is your definition of the alt-right? You say you want to get away from them - the left.

As above. I've grown up admiring much about the past, and have found it increasingly impossible to even adhere to my own standards or have any spaces away from leftist indoctrination.

3) Get away from what, specifically, and to where ?

As above. For better or worse, I scored among the best and got into college early, getting multiple degrees including marketing and then studied psychology vastly on my own. Its pretty evidence what the media is trying to normalize these days, and I'm rejecting it.

4) Why would you allow your sense of right and wrong to be defined by anyone else?

No man is an island. While liberalism teaches atomized individualism, its plainly a lie. Even free will might be an illusion. Furthermore, insofar as I have consistent notions of right or wrong, why would I inflict more or less psychological pain upon myself by endorsing or accepting what would mentally hurt me?

I totally get that liberals might not agree with my ideals. That's fine. I'll just push against them, and they can push against me. Thus, I pick my side with those would might agree with me on many issues.

5) What is it about your sense of right and wrong that is so assailable?

As above. Additionally, not only do I not like pain, but I also believe that my standards are correct and wage for them. It just so happens that my standards are not all for individual liberty at all costs. Bummer.

Bonus answer.

"The left/right of any persuasion are just people and you will find them all over the planet, within families, within every social structure."

Correct to an extent. An analogy would be that marble creation will create marbles of many shapes and forms - but then quality checkers toss out the ones that are defective. Likewise, surely many people can form, but society can and should defend its standards and I should be able to exclude people I dislike.

The alt-right allows me the liberty of such freedom of association, and in fact, allows me to belong so as long as I remain useful to them. The left despises me. I'll rather be an useful and disposable than included and hated.

There's much glory to the torch that burns away but had shed light, but none to be another grey and meaningless brick in the wall, interchangeable and fungible, forgotten and replaceable. The latter is the world that the left would create, the equality of utter lifeless meaninglessness.The former may be brief, it may be terrible, but it holds at least the potential of glory.

I'll rather live for that moment of glory for an hour, a minute, or a second than to forever in the hellscape of the equalism of liberal equality.

Shane W said...

the alt-right seems to be digitally based and internet dependent. Considering the unsustainability and fragility of the internet and digital technology, as JMG has written at length, how will your movement survive in a post-digital world? Will it be able to exist with 1980s-1990s or even earlier levels of internet access and connectivity? Or do you reject JMG's contention that the internet is unsustainable and destined to contract outright? Or do you think the widespread connectivity and current computing power will remain for the remainder of your life, even if if implodes or contracts afterward?
The US is based on a very fragile mythos which is collapsing in front of our very eyes, as I've mentioned at length before. First is the very flimsy civil religion of Americanism, which venerates the American institutions of government and the territory comprising the US. There is nothing exceptional about our particular form of democratic republic and the documents that make it possible. Indeed, there are many nations that seem to do a better job of representative democracy. It has become totally apparent that the con job we currently call America simply doesn't even come close to the ideals we claim to espouse. There's nothing particularly sacred about our form of government and the documents that make it possible, as it can easily be replicated or exported. Lastly, the whole civil religion of Americanism was just propaganda increasingly used to further national and imperial power starting with the Civil War going through the post-Cold War era that had nothing to do with the ideals it fervently whipped up. It simply did not exist before the Civil War.
The handmaiden to the civil religion of Americanism is the American Dream and upward mobility, which is backstopped by limits to growth. Even if Trump is successful in throwing the salary class under the bus and improving the lot of the wage class, it still marks a shattering of the American Dream, because most of those wage class people dreamed of getting that degree, getting that "cushy office job" and making that six-figure salary, or dreamed of their kids doing it--"I hope you don't have to work as hard as I did". So, even if Trump succeeds for the wage class, he still destroys their American dream in the process by destroying the class above them.
No wonder everyone is going batshale and everything is falling apart! A country founded on as flimsy a premise as Americanism and the American Dream is probably worse than a country like the USSR, founded on Communism and the "workers' paradise". We are looking into the void, right now.

Kevin Warner said...

"it's an ill wind that blows no good" - English proverb

Bryant said...

@John Michael Greer, I wish that was so, but not really. At the end of the day, power had a tendency to concentrate - and corrupt, so that surely whatever nobility the alt-right holds these days will eventually be gone by the time we win, even if we win. There's a reason why most seers have always spoke of engagement with the world as a mistake - its because it is. The only way to prevail is to become dirty, and then you've already lost your soul.

That's the reality of existence, I believe.

But then, so be it. At least I've chosen my side and I'm of the descendant of a long line of soldiers, and miss the notion of a time when valor mattered. I yearn to fight, to be honest. Truth be told, I've never truly felt alive except as part of a group fighting against someone else. I wouldn't even have known that if happy circumstance hadn't put me in a certain kind of danger before.

Finally, now, I can fight again. For something that feels beautiful. For the notion of order. for the honor of all those had came before me. For the last great hurrah.

Shane W said...

Honestly, I hope I'm not too hopeful, but I really think that all this noise on the left is just a tempest in a teapot and will prove to be benign. The left is not versed in the use of violence, and large swathes of it disavow violence outright. Coupled with all the unproductive ideas that are held with ideological rigidity, I'm pretty serene that it won't come to much, and certainly not any real malevolent power.
This has more to do with the other blog, but I remember an exchange between Bill and JMG about formal, ceremonial, initiatory magic vs. informal, anything goes magic. I also remember JMG saying, in so many words, to judge a magical practice by the results it produces in its practitioners. Well, here we have one person who remains unflappable in light of the goings on of our country, and another who has shown to be not so unflappable, to say the least. I'm so glad that I'm not a "nonjudgmental" person, and am able to judge for myself just who's practices work when the rubber meets the road. I remember JMG saying that he's cultivated a resilience that has allowed him to hit the ground right side up and thrive with whatever life throws at him. That is worth emulating.

Bryant said...


Adding this...

"It strikes me as rather extreme for you to say that you, a person of colour, would prefer to align yourself with people who don't value you at all because of your colour and they would actually want nothing to do with you."

That's quite fine. At least I'll get to push back at people I hate even more. Its really that simple, sir. As I said, I'm quite okay with people who want to kill me later. At least I can live now, as opposed to a meaningless life that liberals would prepare for me, where there is neither triumph nor defeat, a fate much worse than death.

Candace said...

Hopefully not a duplicate

Thought some might find this history interesting

Shane W said...

Honestly, the reaction to Trump by a lot of the commentariat has be bemused. Here we've discussed and prepared for every possible decline or collapse scenario over the last 10 years, and a measly ole President Trump has everyone apoplectic. Really, folks, if not Trump, how would you like your decline or collapse? In the grand scheme of things, Trump is no Khmer Rouge, Nazi, Cultural Revolution, etc. A little perspective is in order. Geez, third world countries elect people like Trump to the presidency regularly...

Shane W said...

One thing that Bill brought up for me is the shear bafflement by demonization and fear of Trump voters here in red America. I lived in Los Angeles County before, and I could certainly understand their disconnect from rural, red America. But for someone like Bill, and people in my own community, to react the way they did, is totally baffling to me. I mean, they're here in rural, red America. My state delivered Trump his 5th highest percentage majority. My county voted for Trump either by 3000 or 4000 vote margin. Trump voters are everywhere, so the disconnect is baffling. Shouldn't be that hard to find a Trump voter where I live and figure out why the voted for him and what they hope he will accomplish.
what do you make of the Hasadim and Orthodox in Trump's administration and his courting of Netanyahu? (Not to mention the Orthodox son-in-law on his staff and the Orthodox daughter) How does the alt right deal with this? Cognitive dissonance?

Tim Camper said...

avalterra said

" I don't see anyone on the alt-right burning vehicles (owned by an immigrant, ironically), sucker punching people on the street, doxxing people or throwing bricks and bottles. "

Well an alt-righter shot a protestor in the stomach the other day. He was released by the police , presumably on grounds of self-defense. It's worth bearing in mind that this guy brought a gun up-close to an easily avoided volatile situation (as well as purposely exacerbating the situation) & appeared to be looking for an opportunity to use it.

I don't want to harp on minutia, but doxing is something they are well-known for doing. Don't take my word for it. Just google it, you'll see them even attempting to dox rape victims who have been in the news.

Implicitly, if someone says repeatedly they want to ethnically cleanse you at a future date, they are not non-violent.

" If you don't like what they have to say then then meet them on the field of ideas and say something better!"

Popper discussed the problem with this (the 'paradox of tolerance'). In any event, that didn't work historically, and you'll find you won't be persuading modern day fascists either.

Sure, *some* of them are just trolls. But spreading around vicious racist rhetoric has been known to create real bloodbaths. And in more recent history than the 1930s. Of course, we Americans are immune to that, right?

DoubtingThomas said...

@RayWharton: "Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source. True humility is the only antidote to shame. - from one of my favorite cartoons."

Love it :) *Applause* Thank you! Its heart warming to spot those recognise the value of humility, and I would hazard a guess forgiveness too..

Robert Mathiesen said...

In sharp contrast to Bill Pulliam, Kieran O'Neill, and a few others, I see no substantial shift in either JMG's tone or his principles over the years in which he has been writing this blog.

It seems to me that JMG prefers to think and write about these things with olympian detachment, and to react to them with eerie calm -- as they used to say, sub specie aeternitatis, "from the vantage point of all eternity." Since I generally think and react in the same dispassionate way -- even when I have seemed to be facing (on a past occasion or two) my own imminent and very painful death -- I value JMG's blog above almost all others precisely for his olympian detachment and eerie calm about history's inexorable meat-grinder.

What I think *has* changed recently is how urgent the issues discussed have become to many of us since November 8 (and especially since January 20), how immediate and lethal the threats have become to our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

It is an unpleasant truism that a person with great privilege tends to see loss of privilege as oppression -- which it generally is not. It ought to be a similar unpleasant truism that a person facing an immediate and deadly threat tends to see another's olympian detachment and calmness as offensive and insulting, or even as a reproach to their very existence -- when it generally is not meant to be any of those things.

And as for those few who have felt JMG's posts have become angrier than in the past -- are you not confusing pointed, sharp criticism of a person's first principles with anger toward the person? Are not these two things quite different?

Shane W said...

Americans are very fragile when it comes to having the American dream threatened. The last time it was seriously questioned/threatened (1970s), it drove a 30 year flight from reality. It's no wonder that now that it is seriously (dare I say terminally) threatened, it is provoking such a reaction?
I know you're all rah, rah Christianity, but what do you make of the resurgence of traditional Norse polytheism in much of Scandinavia? Aren't a lot of Europeans returning to pre-Christian religion?

Dammerung said...

Data point: /pol/ is crashing Shia Le Bouef's stream again tonight. So far, the Nazi meme spouters have been three white guys, a white-ish girl, a Puerto Rican, and an Asian.

/pol/ works in mysterious ways.

Patricia Mathews said...

Thanks, jeffinwa. Just what I wanted. Now in my whatsup-dot-doc file. 5 pages for such a short speech.

Maxine Rogers said...

Hi Everyone,
I watched Trump's inauguration speech and I noticed something very odd and possibly sinister. Very early on in the speech, a group of military officers turned up and stood behind the President. A few moments later, another officer joined them, whispered something to them and they all left.

I have some military background and discussed this with a senior naval officer here in Canada. He also thought this highly irregular. It looked for all the world as if the military were revoking their support for the President at this very formal event.

I would be very interested in hearing from American service personnel about what they think was happening.

Strange days indeed.
Max Rogers

John Michael Greer said...

Ray, I really am going to have to start talking about philosophy here, aren't I? To get to a way of talking about alt-center politics that makes sense, it's going to be necessary to step back from the current ways that claims about truth are framed, and take a hard look at why dissensus, tolerance, and an acceptance of the imperfection of all human institutions really are the least bad option. Hmm...

Robert, thank you. I've been brooding over that phrase since I coined it, and I'm coming to think that it's needed. Hmm again...

Fred, as far as I'm concerned, if the Dar al-Islam wants Sharia law, they can have it. We have different traditions here -- and that's one of those issues where it's worth drawing a hard line, not least because according to every account of Sharia law I've read, a polytheist like me doesn't even have the right to exist in a Sharia society: my choices amount to forced conversion or death. That's not something I'm willing to tolerate, for obvious reasons.

As for the claim that using the word "woman" is sexist, I wonder if the people making that claim have any idea how absurd they look to everyone outside their own increasingly airtight cliques. May I urge you, by the way, not to send your daughters to college for any reason? Take the same amount of money and buy them each a house -- that way they'll at least get some good out of it.

Izzy, the thing is, that's happened at other times in history -- the points I made about gay history in the last post could equally well have been made about the history of women and of attitudes toward sex -- and far more often than not it hasn't spawned the same sort of backlash. One of these days, as circumstances permit, I want to do some serious reading into the history of sexual customs, and see if I can figure out what the variables are.

DoubtingThomas, glad to hear it. I used to field comments fairly often from people who wanted to know why industrial civilization couldn't use the Law of Attraction to provide itself with limitless supplies of energy and resources. Have you by any chance taken a look at my book Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth? It's by way of a response to that sort of thinking, drawing partly on ecology and partly on traditional occult philosophy -- two branches of knowledge that have quite a bit to do with one another.

David, I saw that. The Dems may also have decided that they can cement their own standing with their constituents by getting plenty of old-fashioned pork out of Washington DC, in the time-honored fashion. You're right, though, that it could be a major feather in Trump's cap.

Bogatyr, that's brilliant. I hope it's inaccurate, but we'll see.

L, I get that. It really is becoming strange out there.

John Michael Greer said...

Kieran, I did not say that poor people voted for Trump. I said that a majority of working class people voted for Trump. Those two statements are not interchangeable. I've made that correction time after time for a solid year now, and the fact that you and others are still misrepresenting what I said after that many attempts on my part to point out what I actually said -- well, frankly, it's got me wondering if there's deliberate bad faith involved on your side. I could be wrong, but it's really left a bad taste in my mouth.

As for a substantial shift in my writing, when that claim was first made a few weeks back, I thought, "Hey, maybe they're right, I should check," and went through my archives. What I found instead was that I've been whacking any number of different groups of people all the way along, in terms not that dissimilar from the ones I've used over the last year. The sole difference is that I hadn't previously directed that treatment at American liberalism. I read any number of comment pages, in fact, in which you and others nodded and smiled in response to my challenging other people's opinions and values; it seems to me that the one significant difference is that this time, it's your opinions and values that I'm challenging, and I gather you find that uncomfortable. So noted, but to my mind, the points I've raised badly needed to be said.

Pygmycory, I hope that as the US goes into its postimperial era, Canada will become less culturally dependent on us, and pursue its own cultures and interests to a greater extent. As for the "Trump is evil because he's evil" business, that's really sad.

Tim, as I noted in my post and elsewhere, there are good reasons to object to Trump's policies and appointments, and his environmental policy is a good example. The one thing I'd point out is that the last eight years have shown us with painful clarity what the real difference is between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to environmental policy: Democrats give lip service to the environment, while Republicans won't even do that much.

Lordberia3, thank you. I think it's entirely possible that over the next decade or so, American liberalism as we've known it could turn into the preserve of a small and bitter fringe, leaving the field open to different constellations of issues and political agendas. The ease with which many people on the left have embraced what amount to neoconservative ideas -- demonizing Russia, for example, not to mention the eager chatter on leftward forums about how liberating it was to watch Richard Spencer being punched and how that ought to happen more often -- shows, I think, just how shallowly rooted the liberal ideology has become. But we'll see...

Armata, thanks for this.

John Michael Greer said...

.Mallow, I think it may be a bit more complex than trying to roleplay Heroic Resistance Fighter. One of the things that's central to the collective identity of most of the leftward ideologies on the political spectrum is a claim to permanent ownership of the moral high ground. As the gap between the affluent lifestyles of the industrial world and what the rest of humanity has to live with becomes ever more visible, that claim is becoming very hard to support, not least because of irritating people like me who keep on pointing out that the lifestyles of the affluent depend on the sufferings of the poor. Thus identifying an enemy over whom one can feel the warm glow of moral superiority has become increasingly necessary for a great many affluent people these days.

There's also a regular alternation in collective life between eras that are obsessed with spirituality and eras that are obsessed with politics. I don't know enough about Irish cultural politics to be sure, but here the last great political era trickled away in the 1970s, and spirituality took the lead. Now that's reversing -- the churches are emptying out, and so are New Age seminars and the like, while politics is once again becoming the obsession du jour. Give it thirty to forty years and it'll reverse again.

Patricia, thanks for this. (Sigh.)

.Mallow, understood. There's a case to be made for both the politics and the knitting, I think.

LatheChuck, I'm still waiting to see if effective grassroots organization comes out of it. Unless that happens, since I doubt anyone had any question that the marchers' demographic was by and large opposed to Trump and in favor of some of the issues you mention (and affluent enough to afford to fly to DC), it was aerobic exercise and nothing more.

Justin, I've had enough people who identify as alt-right talking enthusiastically about Ghibelline ideals and the like that I'd gotten the idea that Evola was tolerably well known in those circles; my mistake. The aspect of his work that I'd have thought might have appealed to, say, readers of Mencius Moldbug et al. wasn't the theocratic monarchic system of the World of (imagined) Tradition, but the later attempts at restoration that Evola discussed (and that, until the Second World War, he wanted to try to imitate). That said, there are better options.

Anthony, thanks for your comments. I certainly didn't mean to imply any particular connection between the alt-right and the working class voters who played so large a role in Trump's win. The alt-right provided some memes and some timely harrassment, but the decisions that put Trump in the White House, as I see it, were made in two places. One was in living room, laundromats, and corner bars across America, where people listened to Trump's speeches and decided that he spoke for them; the other was in Hillary Clinton's headquarters, where hubris led to nemesis via some of the most spectacular political misjudgments of modern times.

Ray Wharton said...

Yeah, I think the philosophy would be nice. There was a good point made about about your Olympian distance. One way to respond to that problem is to talk about important under lying philosophical factors, in a way where they don't step on the gang formation process. May all the fringe political faction improve their epistemology!

Considering the Fake News gag, asking the old philosophic bedrock 'What is Truth?'. Might be really interesting. Objective, Relative, and Pragmatic truth being the ones I hear people using around me.

I remember when I first started reading your blog it was a reference to Bateson that really made me take you seriously as and intellectual. Steps to an Ecology of Mind remains for me personally the book I go back to when ever I need to debug questions about truth.

team10tim said...

Hey hey JMG,

Working my way through the comments, sure are a lot of them this week, and I have a hunch as to why.

This isn't about politics, it's about teams. I have a limbic system in me head that classifies people as I'm walking down the street into my team or threats. It does this sorting before I really have a chance to think about things. For example, bears, guys with weapons in ski masks, people who made fun of me at work yesterday all get put on the threat list and my limbic system engages my fight or flight response way before the rest of my brain can think anything through in the limited rational thought space it has to work with. Interestingly, that guy that threatened my social standing at work the other day triggers the same magnitude of adrenaline spike as seeing a pack of hungry wolves, neither of them is on my team and that shuts down my thinking space and engages a fight or flight response. All of the shrieking this week is from people reclassifying you from my team to threat.

So why is this happening now? When times are good everyone can be on my team and when times are hard the circle of my team shrinks and far more people are excluded from being part of my tribe. Over the course of the last two years, but more so last year, and more so in recent months I have felt the pressure building. A hard to define and pin down, but palpable and obvious building up of the tension in the air. Times are getting tough. Things are getting more and more uncertain. I can feel it and so can everyone else. The circle of my team is shrinking and that means that far more people are outside of that circle and subject to my irrational fight or flight responses.

Couple this with the fact that the nominal teams have VERY little substance to them anymore. I would consider myself to be on the left except there isn't a left to be on these days (hat tip to this week's gold star winner). The blue team's champion was a war mongering Wall street paid hack, who pushed corporate trade agreements, hid her official government business on a personal server to avoid it ever coming to light, and...I digress. The red team had an arrogant, narcissistic, shallow and apparently bigoted and sexist orange comb-over who became a household name for being an jerk on reality tv.

Those aren't values that people can get behind, the nominal teams don't really mean much anymore, but the country has become highly polarized and people are uncertain about the future. They feel the coming crisis. Tensions are running high and so irrational screaming matches are the result. Like a riot at a sporting event, it's not about what the teams stand for, it's the teams themselves that matter. It's unfortunate because there is some really interesting material to discuss these days.

As always, nice work, and thank you for maintaining this space sir. It's appreciated.


PS Just finished The Great Crash 1929, The Druidry Handbook, and I'm on to Overshoot. Thought you might like to know.

James M. Jensen II said...


The problem I have with your analysis is that it seems to presume sex is a zero-sum game. Even if, as you say, 20% of men are having sex with 80% of women, what prevents the other 80% of men from having sex with those same women later on?

I think the more pressing problem is a failure of cultural wisdom to prepare young men for sex and romance. A young man today, especially one who spends a lot of time online, is going to be subjected to a bewildering amount of advice, criticism, and moralizing, much of which will be mutually-contradictory and sometimes just patently ridiculous. One feeling he's almost guaranteed to come away with is that he ought to know all the rules in advance or else.

Even the one constant—all sex must be consensual—has been problematized with different groups defining the edges of consent differently. The controversies over the "yes means yes" policies on university campuses are part of this, but I also remember one fairly infamous sign from the "I need feminism because…" campaign: "No means no but yes doesn't always mean yes." It's a bit of a mess.


I'd suggest the backlash and politicization of some young mens' inability to get laid has a lot to do with the extent to which the issue of sex was politicized as part of the cultural Left's* rescue games. From what I've gathered, many members of the alt-right are former leftists who broke away because they felt hated for being white and/or male. So there's a sense of betrayal that isn't there when the moralizing is coming from the Right.

Another identity that has felt threatened by the rescue games recently is "nerd" or "geek." For a lot of us, there's been a feeling that the Left singled out nerds and our hobbies as a punching bag because nerds are by definition already social misfits and thus easy to make into villains for the narrative they presented to the public. This, of course, is the issue that reached a head with #GamerGate** but it was building for at least a couple of years before hand. While some of the backlash has no doubt actually been about increasing diversity in comics, video games, etc. I'm willing to bet that for a lot more the issue is the way that it was tied to an already-existing campaign (one that seems to have picked up speed around 2011-2012) to label comics, video games etc. and by extension the nerdy males who have traditionally enjoyed them, as sexist and racist.

Add to this, again, the feeling of many of us of being betrayed by our own side and I think you have a lot of the reason why so many opted for backlash.

* I'm using the term in the sense used by Richard Rorty in Achieving Our Country: the heirs of the 1960's New Left who have abandoned economic issues in favor of cultural ones, for both good and ill. Fantastic book, by the way.

** I'm really sorry to have to bring that mess up. I wasn't part of it, honest.

John Michael Greer said...

Prizm, thank you. Yeah, I've found the reaction to this post particularly, er, interesting.

Adrian, I wrote for the Peak Prosperity blog for a short time in early 2013, and I stepped down as Grand Archdruid of AODA almost two years later at the winter solstice of 2015, so I'm a bit puzzled by your recollections. As I noted in my response to Kieran above, the first time someone claimed that the tone of my writing had suddenly changed in recent months, I went back through my archives, and all through the last decade of posts, found no shortage of the same sort of critique -- some of it very harsh indeed -- that you and a few others have pointed out as something new. I appreciate your comments, including this one, and I'm also glad that you've found this blog thought-provoking. In all seriousness, and with that in mind, I'd like to encourage you to reflect on the possibility that what's changed on The Archdruid Report is simply that for the last year, instead of talking about progress, neoconservatism, or any of the other lengthy list of viewpoints I've tried to hold up for critique here, I'm talking about beliefs and values that are important to you.

Central to the identity of many affluent American liberals is a claim, sometimes implicit, sometimes right out there in the open, to the possession of superior empathy and moral virtue. Over the last year, in various ways, I've been pointing out that the empathy has sometimes been applied very selectively indeed, and the moral virtue has sometimes been used as a defense of class privilege. It may be that such a critique is the third rail of contemporary American politics, the thing one simply doesn't talk about; certainly every time I've mentioned it, there's been a colorful shower of sparks! I think it's a point worth making, though -- not least because it's a point being made in much harsher terms by the other end of the political spectrum, with significant impact at election time.

You might consider how many of the state and federal political positions that were held by Democrats in 2008 and are held by Republicans today made that switch because the Democrats have come to be seen, by a great many Americans, as a party of privilege uninterested in the concerns of those outside a few narrowly defined groups. Until that changes -- and I'm sorry to say that it doesn't seem to be changing much, even in the wake of electoral defeat -- the Democrats, and the American left generally, will keep losing; and as I've noted repeatedly here, that's not something I favor. Both parties, and the wider landscape of diverse political opinions that make use of them from time to time, have something to offer the political conversation, provided they're willing to have a conversation at all -- a fading hope these days, and the fading seems equally distributed on both sides.

Justin, it's a complex situation, and one that is certainly making life miserable for a lot of young men. Among other things, certain cultural habits very strongly promoted by the media and the manufactured corporate pseudoculture generally have set up young men to fail, in their relationships as well as in many other contexts. One of these days I may risk doing a post on that, though it's going to require a lot of research in forums I find dreary at best, and it's also going to require me to talk about certain dimensions of magic, and also -- how's this for a third rail? -- about love. Still, I'll consider it.

. said...

Oh yes thanks JMG I had forgotten about those mini-cycles. There are so many processes in play at the same time. Yes that cycle applies in Ireland too. We adopt much of American culture. And when I think about it, the new arrivals to politics did almost all go through a phase of more or less getting into The Secret type stuff and above all Positive Thinking and that's now almost exactly what they're demanding from the political world. The people who were in politics the whole time, even on the left and far left, are overall a lot calmer about all of this and I've seen them trying to talk the rest down from the ledge.

The unease about the wealth gap fits too. More and more attention is being paid to, say, the working conditions of women in Bangladeshi sweatshops and similar because it's reaching the news here. Not sure if that's because of the mass death tolls from collapses or because, as I've heard, labour is starting to organize itself in poor countries and therefore has possibly figured out ways to get their conditions into western news media.

And among highly formally educated Europeans there's a culture that prides itself on being 'Cultured' and for whom American bible belters are a long standing target for feelings of superiority. They're a better target in fact than our own lower classes because of the Christianity factor (ergo being dumb and rejecting the Enlightenment project). Ours doesn't do much of rejecting evolution etc. because obviously we kicked our Christian fundamentalists out over there. So part of some Europeans' identification with the Democrat side certainly relates to that.

I'm sure someone will read that as my saying that all Europeans are snobs and all Europeans who oppose Trump do so because they like to look down on redneck creationists! Happens to me too, all the time, and I wish I were exaggerating.


John Michael Greer said...

Colin, excellent! Then I trust you'll contact your government and propose that it pursue a policy of having all the expenses of NATO being paid by European nations, instead of having 70% paid by the US, as is the case today.

Kevin, that is indeed good news!

Bryant, if that's your considered will in this matter, and you've chosen it with open eyes, then by all means.

Shane, thank you. It's been a bit of an eye-opener to watch the way this post in particular has hit a certain fraction of my readers, who -- as noted above -- were quite comfortable seeing the same treatment meted out to other viewpoints. As for unflappability, yeah -- many, many years ago, I read a passage in a book by Dion Fortune that talked about the magical adepts she'd met, and how they all seemed to have the ability to land right side up and smiling no matter what the world flung at them. It struck me then with great force, and strikes me still, that if magic can foster that kind of attitude toward life, it's a good thing.

Candace, no, it wasn't a duplicate. Thanks for this! A very solid bit of history, and one worth learning from.

Shane, you gotta stop doing this. Let's just say you'll find the theme of tomorrow's post here somewhat familiar! ;-)

Robert, thank you. I don't know that I'd claim to aspire to Olympian detachment; I try to write, not sub specie aeternitatis, but simply sub specie historiae, from a point of view that includes the consequences of the past and the prospects for the future, rather than fixating on the moment. I also tend to distrust the conventional wisdom on principle, partly from a lifelong habit of eccentricity but also because it's so often wrong. Of course you're right that at this point some people who felt relatively secure have to deal with potentially serious threats to their well-being -- and of course you're equally right that some people who benefited from previous arrangements are facing the loss of an assortment of perks and privileges, and are upset about that. I think, though, that there's more going on here, and that's what led me to suggest class prejudice as an unmentionable variable shaping the more over-the-top end of recent rhetoric.

Shane, and that's a good point, too. The interesting thing is that the changes now under way amount to a transfer of the American dream from one group of people who've more or less had access to it, to another who've largely been deprived of it. No wonder that's heated things up!

John Michael Greer said...

Maxine, interesting. I didn't watch the event, so didn't see that.

Ray, thank you! We won't be starting with Bateson, though we'll probably swing by at some point en route.

Tim, that makes sense. I suspect the lack of content is a major factor -- I noted early in the election process that neither party's candidate stood for the values the party did, which certainly must have put a schizoid spin on things! Glad to hear of your reading, btw -- the first and last books, certainly, are great stuff. ;-)

James, that makes a lot of sense. I'm old enough to remember when people still quoted Martin Luther King's hope that someday people would be judged not by the color of their skins but by the content of their character; it took embarrassingly little time for that to be ditched in favor of a doctrine of collective guilt in which the color of one's skin and the shape of one's chromosomes determined, by definition and without possibility of appeal, who was right and who was wrong. (The doctrine of collective guilt was invented by medieval bigots as an excuse for blaming all Jews everywhere for the crucifixion of Jesus, and it hasn't improved any from being applied to other targets.) The question now is how to insert a third option into the binary so it falls apart...

John Michael Greer said...

.Mallow, oh, granted, the relation between European countries of origin and their American diasporas is another complexity!

John Michael Greer said...

Dammerung (offlist), your response to Izzy, in my judgment, crossed the line into personal invective. Remember that this isn't /pol/.

Kevin Warner said...

"John Michael Greer said...
Among other things, certain cultural habits very strongly promoted by the media and the manufactured corporate pseudoculture generally have set up young men to fail...One of these days I may risk doing a post on that, though it's going to require a lot of research in forums I find dreary at best."

May I suggest that instead of re-inventing the wheel, you simply ask your readers here to send you any good links on this subject? It should give you a variety of viewpoints considering you have readers from different countries, genders and certainly viewpoints.

For my own contribution, may I suggest watching a bloke called Paul Joseph Watson (from inforwars) on YouTube? He has a narky sense of humour but he does bring up a lot of interesting points (prepare to be possibly offended). Two links that may be useful are

"Why Are Men Frightened of Marriage?"at and
"Neomasculinity: The Male Backlash Against Toxic Women" at

Izzy said...

@JMG: Ha! Doesn't take much to guess what he said, either. ;P

I would be very interested in reading about what's producing modern young men. (Yes, yes, #notallmen, but still #waytoomanymen.)

@Justin: "For instance, it's hardly an original observation that a lot of feminists are unmarried women over 40 and there might be an element of sour grapes in their disdain for their married sisters"

Er, citation needed? Most of the feminists I know, of a number of generations, are either happily married (and good for them, though it's not a state I've ever aspired to), happily single, or encountering the same ups and downs of the dating game as non-feminist women.

As for your larger point: not sure what you mean about "male and female roles," not sure I want to, but it seems that the problem you describe has two solutions:

a) young men can suck it up and accept that, as you say, the universe does not owe them a girlfriend, and that maybe their own habits and behavior are contributing to their lack thereof, or
b) women can all opt for sex with partners who don't interest them (there's a very unflattering name for that which the blog filters prevent me from using) so that young men don't get their precious little feelings hurt.

No thanks.

@James: I tend to agree with you in general re: preparation for sex and romance. (I would like very much to bring back a modern version of the hygiene-and-getting-along-with-people films of the fifties. Less sexual repression, but "you have to be a friend to make a friend" and "seriously, deodorant" are both pretty timeless messages.) As a leftist geek, I would say that pointing out problematic elements in geek media and saying it would be cool if they changed is not the demonization of geek culture that a lot of guys therein took it as.

I mean, I like men. But I also like female characters who aren't damsels in distress, and there's nothing wrong with pointing out that we could use more of that, for example. (As for GG: I can state with relative certainty that no useful social movement has come about from someone whining about his breakup.)

Robert Mathiesen said...

JGM: actually, sub specie historiae is probably closer to what I hoped to convey to the commentariat about you (and about myself) than sub specie aeternitatis. To ephemeral creatures like us humans, it's hard to distinguish between the two.

Team10Tim: The moment I read your comment, I was sure that you are right about the role the human limbic system plays in all this. I missed it at first because mine doesn't seem to be "wired" like most people's. (I'm close to being a congenital loner; there is something viscerally repellent to me, something downright squicky, about being part of of any group of my fellow humans working together. The one time in my life I actually went to a sports event -- a football game during my college years, in my college's stadium --, I had to leave my friends and the stadium before the end of the first quarter: watching people work together as a team, and especially seeing and hearing the multitudes cheering for their teams, made me physically ill to the point of nausea.)

Scotlyn said...

@dammerung (if this comment makes it under the closing deadline)

I do want to thank you for making yourself plain in this thread. And once again, to thank the host for permitting this kind of plain talk between people of disparate views, who I fear may, in short order, find themselves not only on different political sides but on different military ones.

You say: "@Scotlyn - You may well find that preferences change "organically," depending on how well Trump steers us through the numerous opportunities for politically-motivated violence over the next 4 years. Really digging into the civil war in Iraq is a good example of how a multi-ethnic society can slowly dissolve down racial lines. I doubt a lot of Shia were getting the hots for Mosul Sunni when wandering over there as a Shiite was an awfully effective way of getting your throat slit."

I am very familiar with how the multi-ethnic/religious society of Northern Ireland rapidly dissolved down ethnic/religious lines, and as best I can make out the Sunni v Shia "dissolution" is also more accurately described as an ethnic/religious dissolution than a racial one.

You are correct that a society of disparate groups who formerly rubbed along can quickly be brought to hate, fear and despise one another. In Northern Ireland this was accomplished by repeated acts of violence by which each inflicted pain on the other, but *to a far greater degree* both inflicted pain on those who persisted in acts of cross-community solidarity.

We now know that the paramilitaries on both sides of the Northern Irish conflict during that period were so thoroughly infiltrated by MI5, that it is hard not to attribute the ferocity of the atrocities on all sides to MI5's inspiration or covert incitement in pursuit of a single aim. The paramilitary campaign(s) were designed, above all, to break any vestige of civic solidarity between Protestants/Unionists and Catholics/Nationalists. That *some* of the native paramilitarists of both sides also wanted this, obviously helped the process along. However, the clearest beneficiary (at least short term) was the British government, as the cross-community solidarity that gave impetus to the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1960's was very quickly nipped in the bud, and any pressure upon the British elites to address political and economic injustice was thereby alleviated.

I believe a similar scenario was acted out in Iraq within a year or two of the American invasion, setting Shia and Sunni against one another, thereby alleviating the invading forces of the prospect of a concerted, cross-community campaign for economic and political rights. And I've wonder if tactics are not behind the conversion of the Arab Spring civic movements for economic and political justice into the more intractable (but from an elite point of view less demanding) religious/ethnic wars of hate we now see.

I don't doubt that you yourself, through propaganda and other means, hope to "steer... numerous opportunities for politically motivated violence" towards your evident aim of breaking long-standing bonds of solidarity that link marriages, families, friendships, business partnerships, clubs, churches and communities across whatever racial, ethnic, religious and cultural lines you think need reinforcing.

I will certainly apply everything I have learned and can learn, and what small resources I possess at thwarting any such project.

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

Dear JMG,

Thank you for taking the time to write a lengthy response to my comment. I do appreciate your willingness to reflect on my and others' statements. (And yes, my own memory is faulty: I did not go back to check chronology.)

Quickly, because it's Wednesday :)
I understand what you are saying about equal-opportunity critical discussion, and have been engaging in my own self-reflection. Yes, many affluent liberals are annoyingly self-righteous. Yes, class is indeed a large, complex subject that is considered taboo. Yes, one does wish the parties would have a real conversation.

For myself, I do not condone hate and hate speech or assumptions of superiority over others, no matter which part of the political spectrum it comes from. I look for commonality when engaging with others. My values do not derive from political views. I'm not sure, as a Quaker, I hold political views in the commonly accepted sense. In truth, the more I think about it, the more I'm not sure what the words "liberal" or "conservative," "right" or "left" even mean anymore. Maybe I belong in your category of the "alt-center."

I do appreciate your depth of learning, breadth of knowledge, and your ability to analyze and discuss from a lofty, philosophical level--which, as Robert Matthiasson (sp?) and Ray Wharton have pointed out can be disturbing to those who are misinterpreting what you are writing--as I also tried to point out, in different words, in my previous comment.

Anyway, this is running longer than I meant it to; I've got a full day of work ahead of me, as do you.

In the light (as we Quakers say),

Scotlyn said...

@Jmg (if not too late past the close of a well moderated, if fraught, comment line)

"Scotlyn, from my perspective, neither of the two alternatives you've sketched out are complete in themselves. While fear and hatred can be deliberately stirred up, they also spring up all by themselves, especially under conditions of rapid change and economic stress. Which came first, the demagogue or the emotions he manipulates? It's a chicken-and-egg question."

To clarify, I agree fear and hatred do spring up "by themselves" often from individual circumstances which create a sense of personal impotence. The point is (and you have made this point yourself in the other blog), once "sprung up" like that, such strong emotions can become potent sources of energy which can be channeled to raise/reinforce power in a specific direction in accordance with will.

The direction in which such power may then be channeled is not a given, but obviously the people with the clearest goals (whether destructive or creative), and the strongest will, are best placed to stir/channel such energy in their preferred direction.

And one method for such channeling is to animate pre-existing, low-resolution stereotypes, prejudices and bigotries, previously powerless to cause harm, into meaningful foci for powerful and effective action.

I think there are still many contenders at this time, by the way. It is not yet clear who will take best advantage, or to what end, though some of those who hope to are making themselves known.

That there is a lot of fear and hate to work with, is sadly, all too evident.

Patricia Mathews said...

@JMG re " I read a passage in a book by Dion Fortune that talked about the magical adepts she'd met, and how they all seemed to have the ability to land right side up and smiling no matter what the world flung at them. It struck me then with great force, and strikes me still, that if magic can foster that kind of attitude toward life, it's a good thing."

When getting into Wicca, one of the first things you are asked is why you want to become a witch. Somewhere along the way I was able to articulate is as "I want to get in touch with the natural flow of the universe (or however I phrased it then) and learn to go with that flow or how and when to paddle upstream." Somewhere along the line I ended with the realization there was nobody I hated enough to curse, except in the sense of having them come to their senses or bear the consequences of their actions. Block, in self-defense, yes. And I started actually feeling thankful for every little victory and instance of having done the right thing. Until Herself told me to stop giving thanks for having done things right, but to step up and take the credit. AND things - little things - started going my way more and more, as if I were no loner throwing rocks in my own path - and as if I were no longer paddling upstream by brute force. For what that's worth.

Not that the universe has spared me the usual slings and arrows thereof. And it shouldn't. But when approached with "So what am I to learn from this" it seems to actually have a beneficial effect.

And BTW - as to the explosion on the left you got this week - you have to realize how many of us actually feel, deep in our guts, that what we stand for actually is truth, beauty, peace, love, civilization, science, reason .... here quoting or misquoting a yard sign now popular here in the People's Republic of Zip Code 87106 ... and that these values and virtues now have a gun pointed at their heads. It is truly a matter of faith --- it's their religion, overriding all denominational matters. And I'm not talking about the Crazy Fanatic Aunts or the Trash Talking Cousins all religions generate like fleas on a dog - who we know and are embarrassed by. Having looked very deeply into the mirror and found that at base it's like a being a devout medieval Catholic suddenly faced with an explosion of nations suddenly going Protestant in all varieties. Eeek! The Eternal Verities have fallen to the Barbarians!

As the author of Future Shock wrote, "I do believe you are shocked" should be said with compassion for those who are. Not telling anyone how to feel, but do know it's been a real punch in the gut for the true-believing sweetness and light crowd. (Exclusive of the ones now talking violence, let alone committing it.)

DaShui said...

Greetings ADJMG!

I'm a 10+ year reader and this has been the best comment stream I can remember.

Keep it up!

patriciaormsby said...

I just asked a couple of ranting affluent liberal rellies if they were okay with hate, and they told me it was their patriotic duty in this case, because Trump is just such a liar and so evilly evil. Well, at least it's out in the open now. But I dread what this is leading to.

Here at the tail end of 480 comments, I guess I'll chatter on a bit. Won't get read except by the most determined. The above rellies were two guy persons, but in general, I sense a lot of fear from women. Of course, some of the elite are afraid of the shake-up and they may be driving this. If women are really scared of captivity and coercion, which I could understand, then why are they reportedly in solidarity with the Muslims? And why are they eager for a war against Russia?

If you are looking out your window over there, things are probably still normal, right? But it looks like pandemonium has busted loose over there from my remote perch. JMG, are there historical cases of women in particular going through episodes of mass hysteria in certain stages of collapse? If so, how did it turn out?

This ties back with my New Year's dream, which I promised to tell you about when I had time (it's one a.m.--I'll just keep typing). The Japanese consider the dream on the morning of January 2 to be prophetic. I don't know why, and I have not met a single Japanese who can remember their dreams at will, so we can't compare notes, but after logging all my dreams of Jan. 1, 2 and 3 for several decades, I find the dreams of Jan. 2 to be especially meaningful and prophetic. Some are immediately true--part of daily life (my first dream this year was all kinds of coffee), some are clearly based on concerns and predictable outcomes (my second dream was that the birds went away, and when I attended monthly Fuji Sect services here, they spent quite a while talking about how crows and sparrows have disappeared--something I'd not noticed yet). And then there are others that talk about major events or trends, not necessarily in the coming year. They are vivid and there is often a Dream Master who tells me information as I proceed through. This year's was very relaxing, long, warm and detailed in a rural world where the people had decided to take a new path into the future, toward "a world that has ruinmen." The effort was led mainly by younger people, intelligent people like those I've met among followers of this blog. They had the ability to persuade people that happiness was better pursued by giving up impossible dreams and accepting the situation. There was kindness and sharing, hard work and rewards. Though locally focused, the movement was widely popular, because many people could see the wisdom in it. (More below.)

Bob said...

Some more sanity may have surfaced in the guise of "Justice Democrats". I shall be keeping an eye on their platform.

Scotlyn said...

@JMG as I cycled through wind and hail on my appointed rounds (for the sheer exhilaration of which, thanks!), this thread of thought spun out to where I think I can link it back to its starting point in your post. (if I'm not too late to post).

So, it's this: can we ever put an end to every conceivable prejudice and stereotype? I say we can't without putting an end to how the human mind functions, simplifying into low-res categories the sheer dizzying quantity of incoming information so as to prevent sensory overload. (Inasmuch as "abolishing prejudice could be said to define the liberal project, it has clearly failed - and especially it has failed to spot its own prejudices).

Can we prevent such categories (prejudices and stereotypes) from being powerfully "charged" with the power of fear, anger, resentment and hate so as to motivate meaningful action causing harm to living people who may be "snagged" by association with the stereotype in question?

Well, possibly, hopefully. In circumstances such as we face I think it is very, very hard, but more doable.

The path lies, I think, in promoting opportunities for people to meaningfully alter their circumstances, reducing the sense of impotence that heightens the kind of emotions that can "charge" a prejudice and turn it into action that harms.

This, in fact, is one of the things I've seen this blog itself do time and again - promote meaningful personal engagement with the time, place, circumstances in which each of us finds ourselves.

So finishes the thread. With thanks!

Nastarana said...

Dear Justin, I am going to exercise an old woman's prerogative to interject a not of crass realism here.

First, it ain't that hard to get laid. You just have to not be too choosy about your partners, forget the infamous 1-10 scale and the status obsessions. It is after all a natural instinct to want to form pairs and produce offspring.

Second, it strikes me that a great part of young (white) male angst is not caused by lack of sex but that Mommy is not there anymore and they have to do things for themselves, like cook, clean up, laundry and so on. Well, my generation of women were not brought up to make our own livings. We had to learn on the job, as it were, including learning, from often painful experience, the array of social skills needed to secure and retain employment. We also had to learn that if you want the bills paid and the kids fed, you can't allow the partner to sabotage your employment.

Now we have an up and coming generation who have been taught everything possible about to impress employers and secure the cooperation of co-workers and nothing about private resilience, arranging your life so as not to need large amounts of money.

It is my belief that productive people learn how to set aside hurt feelings so as to be able to focus on what has to be done.

It is my belief that productive people manage to learn how to set hurt feelings aside so as to focus on what needs to be done.

Dammerung said...

No worries about the deletion. I'm surprised I've been able to express this much in a satisfactory way. Let me try to rephrase that with more abstraction. If we really are slipping into warband formation, a warband needs mothers, and a warband needs strumpets, but a warband has no need for feminist studies majors.

I know I'm offering up a very big and very tangled ball of yarn that gets bigger and more tangled by the day. Due to its anonymous nature, it wears a thousand different masks, and some of those masks are mutually contradictory. There's no telling what this thing might do. With ISIS you know what you're getting - Islam. With National Socialism you know what you're getting - they documented it by law and enforced those laws very meticulously. With /pol/ you're getting a human hurricane of unknown million voices in a perpetual argument that's borderline incomprehensible to outsiders and which slowly transforms observers into itself. Maybe it's a real life version of those memetic hazards over at SCP. I don't know any better than the journalists who hear two rumors about us and write an alarmist hitpiece. I'll go back to my more sedate commenting routine for the next article, I'm sure, but I can't shake the feeling that this phenomenon is a weird fulcrum for the times that we're in.

Ethnic tension has been a reality of my life, almost all of it lived in California. When I drive through Los Angeles, I plan refueling stops around it. I currently live in a city that's 2/3 some combination of illegal immigrants and Mexican-Americans, and 1/3 whites. If the lights go out and stay out, that's a hugely dangerous position to find oneself in. When a dominant minority - or those perceived to be a dominant minority - lose state protection, they're often targeted with the most extreme and barbaric forms of violence. Iraqi Shia weren't shy about expressing their disdain for decades of Sunni Baathist rule with inventive applications for power tools. I can't really afford to leave the state I can't really afford to stay in despite having worked since I was 16. I want to move someplace with harsh winters that discourage people with high time preference due to the need to see winter as an indeterminate block that must be survived.

@ShaneW - I don't know if it could survive the loss of high speed internet. The anime is secretly important, I think. Posting a smug/angry/happy/sad anime girl expresses tone, which is infamously difficult over text alone.

Trump's Jewish ties are a hard point of contention, and one of the issues the mods go out of their way to sneakily silence discussion about. Opinions run the gamut from "Trump was a Jewish puppet from the start" to "this is another one of his sleight-of-hand gambits and he's going to expose them to consequences over the past 50 years of their policy."

patriciaormsby said...

(Continued from above) Of course, any society has its troubles, and it was the holders of power, the priestesses that I recall being the most terrifying aspect of your book. In a semi-asleep state, dealing with what was probably influenza, I thought it would be a real challenge to try writing from the perspective of a priestess within that elite, having witnessed women's power games--worse than men's, who are at least frank about their belligerence. The Dream Master then told me it would be women who put up the most determined resistance to the changes necessary to moving ahead, clinging to their old lifestyles and wheedling for what they want, with the guys determined to keep them happy somehow. Not all women, of course, but quite a prominent bunch of them.

Obviously this won't happen any time soon. My dream of 1996 was similar, except for being a cryptic, highly troubling dream of a poison man. He was popular and people didn't want to think he was dangerous. I saw him board an airplane and tried to warn the passengers and crew that he was dangerous and might kill them all, but they just laughed at me. So I decided to fly with my own wings and burst through the glass windows of the concourse. But I kept getting tangled in power lines. I spent the rest of 1996 trying to figure out which of our friends was the poison man. The psychopath who may be released this year after serving 20 for murder? My dear husband? Nothing fit. Well a few years back they started introducing wi-fi on aircraft, paying no attention at all to warnings of danger from various experts. I eventually learned the poison man's name. Born in 1996, he is the Telecommunications Act of 1996, that forbade health effects from being considered in the siting of antennas. He's much more notorious, though, for his role in concentrating control over the broadcast media into a few corporate hands. Perhaps he is most responsible for poisoning our information supply.

Similarly, I expect that the seeds for "a world that has ruinmen" will be planted this year in ways that may not be easily recognized, but will become apparent as time progresses.

MichaelK said...

'Virtue' is a complex term to get into. The concept of 'virtue siganaling' is interesting too. I get concerned with the rather dangerous idea that a terrible act committed by a virtous person for a noble or good reason, for example a 'cool' president ordering the extra-judicial, without a shred of due processs, assassination of a US citizen (living in Yemen, not for actually acts of terroism, but for mouthing-off that Muslims have right and duty to defend themselves from US attacks and aggression), that this isn't an act of state terror, but something different and worthwile, and morally acceptable, when ordered by a left/Democrat, but would be an outrageous, barbarous and blatantly uncostitutional crime if order by a monsterous Republican President, like Trump.

Patricia Mathews said...

Data points from Albuquerque - from the Journal's letters to the editor, about the women's march & rallies. Of course, all published letters are inherently cherry-picked; these, apparently, for a wide spectrum of attitudes.

1) Abortion - hard positions, totally polarized. Either abortion is a basic feminist position and so you can't be against it and be a feminist, or feminism is about equal pay etc, not the right to kill your babies. No compromise.

2) "Those who did not vote have no right to protest." Why he assumes the protestors did not vote is a good question, since New Mexico went blue this year. Or at least, Albuquerque did.

3) "I would much rather see these folks go out and get a job, pay their share of taxes, and learn not to depend on big government to make them happy...." And why he assumes that people out marching on a weekend are neither working nor paying taxes is a very good question.

4) "After protests, now's the time to get involved ... for public lands and the Wildlife Federation."

5) "Can Trump punish cities and women marchers?" Followed by the author imagining Trump asking himself "Can't I just deport all these women?" Mister, that's a very silly evasion of the real threat: that the federal government, having hooked every locality and agency in the nation on federal money, can simply vote to defund us, and probably will.

And finally, "Protesters should follow the path of Martin Luther King." With quotes from the 1963 pledge he had his marchers sign.

And of course, two complaints about the Journal covering a story about sledding in the Sandias at greater length than they did Our Cause.

Just FYI and showing where the battle lines are right now, down here.

MichaelK said...

JMG. I think the issues you are raising are important, disturbing and arouse strong emotions. People don't mind so much when the Republicans or the Deplorables are scrutinized, 'cause everyone knows those guys are ridiculous and wrong, unless one is one of the ill-bred and ill-educated morons oneself!

But the trouble starts when you start to scrutinize what good and decent liberals think and say, their core values and attitudes. The very idea that what they believe in, their virtues, might be open to criticism too, is unacceptable. In doing so you are crossing an invisible line which is supposed not to exist, because it's so obvious.

What you are doing is saying or implying that the left/liberals aren't as virtuous, clever and plain right about stuff as they like to think they are, and that's a kind of heresy.

Bob said...

A distinction should be made between Sharia law as applied to the civil code versus the criminal code. Accommodation based on religious beliefs is not unusual with regard to civil matters. I find it curious that these practices are only making headlines now.

Matt said...

Thanks, Patricia, for this:

Data point: From New Scientist, just arrived in my mailbox this afternoon, p5:

"Protest? Yes, we can. We (a British science biweekly) mustn't let a superpower (the USA) turn its back on rationality." Or (from the last line) "...the US will jeopardise not only its own people, but all of humanity."

The more I have been thinking about it over the week, the more significant it seems. Like some other posters, I can empathise (sympathise, even) with much of the handwringing going on in the protests. However much we might wish for reasoned, grassroots opposition to Trump, it doesn't do to imply that everyone who can't measure up to this standard is a class bigot.

I think we all agree that something big is going on. We're not the only people feeling it, clearly. And I think the biggest shock to many is the open disdain for truth and rationality. Those of us who read JMGs post The Sharp Edge of the Shell might have been somewhat prepared, but I'm still finding it disconcerting. Imagine the anguish of those who still imagined we would solve our problems by figuring out what's going on, coming up with solutions and convincing others of their desirability. Essentially, all bets are off! How do you expect people to feel about that?


Matt said...

avalterra says "I don't see anyone on the alt-right burning vehicles (owned by an immigrant, ironically), sucker punching people on the street, doxxing people or throwing bricks and bottles."

What do the people you see on the alt-right say about these things (wikipedia)?: the 2015 Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting (3 killed), the 2015 Charleston church shooting (9 killed), the 2014 ambush attack on Las Vegas police officers (5 killed), the 2014 Overland Park Jewish Community Center shooting in Kansas (3 killed), the 2014 Pennsylvania State Police barracks attack in Blooming Grove, Pennsylvania (1 killed), a 2012 tri-state killing spree by white supremacists, David Pedersen and Holly Grigsby (4 killed), a 2012 ambush of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana police (2 killed), the 2012 Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting (6 killed), the 2011 FEAR group attacks (3 killed)

I won't be joining the chorus of commenters "thanking" Nazis for sharing their thoughts with us.


Owen said...

One last little thing to add before your a new post comes out. Left and right are quickly becoming quaint notions. People are using words like "alt-right" because they don't really have the right words to describe what things are changing into.

I would claim that the new political duality, isn't left-right anymore, but rather global-national, or corporate-local.

I think to some degree the body politic knows that changes have to be made for things to continue and that the current arrangements must be rearranged. And that requires a new duality.

If the Democrats insist on making identity politics the core of their ideology, I think you'll find them on that dusty shelf along with the Whigs, the Communists, the WTCU, etc. Not that the Republicans are in much better shape - although the old guard of the R's have more or less bitten their tongue and hope they can puppy train Trump into something more manageable, I think they too are almost as deluded as the Democrats, just in different sorts of ways.

pygmycory said...

This was one VERY fraught week of comments. Bit upsetting, to be honest.

It seems to me that if the left wants to keep our claims to moral superiority, we need to champion the interests of the poor and relatively poor against those of the affluent. And we should have more prominent members who have spent significant time with little money.

I think that those on welfare, poor women, and poor members of various minorities in the USA do have very real reasons to fear Trump, his cabinet picks, and the republicans in senate and congress. Those who have work are not more oppressed than those who lack it. Ever tried to live on welfare or disability? Or without them or a job? The USA is rather notorious in Canada, and also, I believe, in Europe, as to how low its rates are and how hard it is to get any help. Yet a lot of republicans resent the meager help given.

Fred the First said...

Wow oh wow Trump is moving so fast on so many things my head is spinning. We haven't had a president like this my whole life and I remember back To Ford.

Scott Adams refers to this as a technique called pacing and leading. What do you think of it?

Izzy said...

@Nastarana: Agreed, with the caveat that I never hit either of those instincts. Every society probably needs a good mistress or two as well, and every family probably is better off for a disreputable aunt. :)

For what it's worth, I'm an English major, and I consider myself a warrior/strumpet. It's a weird multiclass, but such is life.

DoubtingThomas said...

@JMG: I'll take a look. Thank you.

@bryant: Thank you for your explanation. :)

You said "I've grown up admiring much about the past, and have found it increasingly impossible to even adhere to my own standards or have any spaces away from leftist "indoctrination" and "Its pretty evidence what the media is trying to normalize these days, and I'm rejecting it."
- What are they trying to indoctrinate/normalise you into believing/accepting ?
- Do you have an example you can share? I'm missing your point. Sorry.

"No man is an island. While liberalism teaches atomized individualism, its plainly a lie. Even free will might be an illusion."
- I see that groups of generally like minded people can have a tendency to flock together, that is society, and that environmental reinforcement can ensue but only until such time as an individual recognises their own power to choose for themselves.
- Which brings back to the earlier question of how would you would handle someone you Love (children, partner, siblings, parents etc) who decided to "be" a way that you found "mentally painful" ?

You said "I scored among the best and got into college early, getting multiple degrees including marketing and then studied psychology vastly on my own.
- Me too. IQ 167-186. According to 3 child psychologists 40+ years ago. Recently spiritually awakened although I define my own belief systems that change as I learn more about myself and the world. Educated at a good University. Working class family (by other's classification systems). Multiple fields of parallel personal study including psychology, philosophy and more esoteric topics. Of course there are all sorts of intelligence - for me - learning emotional / social intelligence took decades of life experience. I'm still learning and desire to learn every day. The more I learn I realise the less I know.

I see/feel the manipulations/forces to conform (from other people, from the media, from the establishment - I didn't always) which enables me to choose for myself if I want to play along or go my own path. Going my own path means accepting the consequences and not blaming others. Lived half my life outside of the UK in very conservative countries (e.g. Saudi) and liberal/social societies with the several forays in the USA for lengthy periods. Spent some time in an American School in Saudi.

Some will point at my gender, my sexuality, my mixed race same-sex 19yr marriage to a recently deceased partner, my spiritual beliefs, my graphic deliberately chosen mixed-message tattoos, shaved head, my ever changing ideas in order to cast me in a negative light in their eyes. None of that touches me or defines me - unless I choose to allow it.

You said "why would I inflict more or less psychological pain upon myself by endorsing or accepting what would mentally hurt me".
- I agree but go further. I don't accept attempts to pain me but then I come at this from the idea that nothing anyone else does or says is because of me. It is inevitably a Projection from them. I don't expect others to be like me. I have friends who are racists, a tattooed neo-nazi, homophobes, gay, str8, muslims, christians, jews. I don't expect them to change for me or me for them.

You said "That's quite fine. At least I'll get to push back at people I hate even more."
- That seems to be a bit of a recurring theme. :( Hate. Yours & Theirs. Where is the Love?
- You've studied Psychology. Take the simple case study of a Pessimist. Such a person can receive millions of positive messages from others and still view what has been said in a pessimistic light. If that pessimist wants to see things differently then the power to do so is within them and only them but it requires a change of belief in them. They don't have to change though.

I wish you well :) and I hope you find a way to be at peace with yourself and the world.

Beth said...

It seems odd to me to think about my hatred of Trump as being class-based. I hate him because: he's a liar, he got rich at least in part by cheating people, he treats people like shit, and he - just like every other politician I dislike - cozies up to the groveling rich people who swarm around him wanting a piece of the power trip and Trump just loves that, it's sickening. I despise the rich people who are groveling up to him. If anything Trump just makes me hate rich people!

I don't blame the working class people for voting for him, although I do wonder how people could be willing to vote for someone so obviously pathological and disgusting, I completely understand their disgust with politics in general and their reaction to that being voting for someone who pandered to them so effectively (the hat!). I am a "progressive" and I'm disgusted by politics too. I do not hate the working class and I do not hate Trump because the working class voted for him. I hate Trump because he's a disgusting human being.

. said...


"A distinction should be made between Sharia law as applied to the civil code versus the criminal code."

A problem with that is that mainstream Islamic law doesn't divide into civil and criminal in anything like the way US law does. Murder is treated as primarily a private law matter which may be settled between the heirs and the perpetrator. Parents and grandparents may not be subject to retribution for killing their children or grandchildren because children are in effect treated as the property of those who produced them and society is not permitted to interfere with the exercise of that private property relationship. Apostasy, blasphemy, polytheism and adultery on the other hand are not civil matters but criminal ones.

Western concepts of the separation of religion and law or of where the boundaries between civil and criminal, public and private, should lie, are not universal. They reflect Judaeo-Christian origins. Islam is a different culture which western non-muslims know very little about so they tend to make all kinds of assumptions about it which are not accurate.


. said...


"A distinction should be made between Sharia law as applied to the civil code versus the criminal code."

A problem with that is that mainstream Islamic law doesn't divide into civil and criminal in anything like the way US law does. Murder is treated as primarily a private law matter which may be settled between the heirs and the perpetrator. Parents and grandparents may not be subject to retribution for killing their children or grandchildren because children are in effect treated as the property of those who produced them and society is not permitted to interfere with the exercise of that private property relationship. Apostasy, blasphemy, polytheism and adultery on the other hand are not civil matters but criminal ones.

Western concepts of the separation of religion and law or of where the boundaries between civil and criminal, public and private, should lie, are not universal. They reflect Judaeo-Christian origins. Islam is a different culture which western non-muslims know very little about so they tend to make all kinds of assumptions about it which are not accurate.


Justin said...

Izzy, you know, I'm not offended by women making their own choices, I'm offended by a media and academic apparatus that tells women (and men, but not nearly as much) that their choices do not inherently have consequences, and that any consequences are the result of The Bad People. It's both destructive and infantalizing. Honestly the fact that you are on a peak oil blog confronting some very challenging ideas makes you an abnormal person, and I am talking about normal people here.

Bryant said...


Not only is change not particularly possible because there is quite a bit about the brain is static, but I don't have any intention of destroying my identity just because it can accommodate more people I consider as freaks. So yes, I'll live and continue to fight. There's beauty and glory in it.

And trust me, the world around you can and will define you. If you studied psychology, then you would know how well marketing can work through something as simple as manipulating the availability cascade, presentation of images, and taking advantage of the recency effect.

So I can appreciate your ideology and faith of the individual as some sort of immutable entity resistant to outside control and influence. I'm sure like other religions, your faith in it is relatively strong. I can respect that.

You can also respect that I firmly believe otherwise. As for love, I love that which is beautiful which is why I hate that which is ugly. I will die for what is right, which is why I fight against what I find is wrong. There are aspects of the same coin.

Izzy said...

@Justin: I'd say it depends on the choices and the consequences--my thought is that it's the other way 'round, gender-wise. I see a lot of media telling guys that they're entitled to have hot women while putting no work at all into their appearance, or that bothering people is "charming" as long as they do it out of Twu Wuv*, or whatnot.

* I am a charter member of the Calling the Cops on Loyd Dobler Society. People are trying to sleep! Put your boombox down and accept the breakup of your high school relationship! It would have ended by Thanksgiving of your freshman year in college anyhow!

DoubtingThomas said...

@bryant: Oh I am mutable. Faith doesn't guide me in this. Don't do dogma. I rely on evidence from day to day experiences on this subject. I am not the man I was 10 years ago. I was very shy. Insecure. Unawake. Easily manipulated. A People Pleaser. Passive Aggressive. Blind to those manipulations of media & friends that you mentioned. ( BTW I'm 48. )

I'm not like that any more. My friends & family don't recognise me. Many of my old friends & some family are no longer in my life. No longer compatible. I changed. So I am different. Look back over my comments. Do I seem insecure? Shy? Ashamed?

Sorry the brain is not static. However you slice that statement. From a fundamental atheistic physical materialistic perspective with machines & tools to examine the brain - it Physically changes from birth to death. Starts out smooth ends up with grooves and ridges. From a psychological developmental perspective a child's psyche and personality changes with age and in response to each life experience. Psychotherapy, Talking and Cognitive Behavioural Therapies all have good success rates in deliberately effecting psychological change.

My psychosocial development was stunted because I was sexually abused as a child by an arab. After many years of psychotherapy in my 30s I had a breakthrough moment in which I was able to see the problems caused and as result for the first time in decades I felt joyous & happy. From that moment on I have changed dramatically - slowly to be sure - sometimes the change has been scary but for the good overall. I forgave the man.

Remember when I said I don't allow others to define me.

You just tried to define me (to me) by:

A) stating a psychological clinical falsehood in order to justify your belief "that we can't change". You are entitled to your belief but it is not backed up by Medical Science or Psychology.

B) "And trust me, the world around you can and will define you". No. Just No. Have your opinion, of course, but your opinion doesn't define me to me. You don't define me to me. I can't define you to you [ your choice of self belief systems do that for you. You choose you. ]. If I called you all sorts of boring nasty names or if I moved if you sat next to me in order to insult you. None of that defines you unless you allow it to. You said "Why choose psychological pain". Remember?

You could choose to Hate me thinking I was Ugly. (not suggesting you should) The only person that would effect is you.
Hate ultimately damages the hater not the hated (unless they allow it) but again as you said "Why choose psychological pain". Right?

You are right, plenty of studies and even courses teaching Sales manipulations. Those techniques can work but not on everyone. Used to work on me. Not for years. I tend to have fun with salesman who try to push their merchandise and don't understand the word No. I ignore advertising. I'm not a "consumer" but used to be. Use to always have to have that new more.

"Free Will" is about choice. Always a choice. Doesn't mean the options are always comfortable. I get you seem to feel you lack choice but even how we react to a feeling is a choice. Either you choose unconsciously or consciously. Being "Awake" grants the ability to increasingly more consistently choose consciously. Life is resulting calmer.

You mentioned Showing Images & Psychology. Reminds me of a double blind study where they showed random images and measured electrical responses from genitalia. Fascinating results. Suggested a strong correlation between latent/repressed homosexuality and homophobia. Maybe some traits are preselected and can be suppressed but it results in other symptoms - homophobia, fear, anger, depression, more.

A beauty and glory in fighting. If that works for you :) great!
I'm trying to learn true humility myself but thats a labour of love and perhaps the task of a lifetime.

Bob said...

., the implementation of Sharia law in Ontario was made according to Western concepts of what is and is not a civil matter. This article describes the specifics in place of the usual hysteria:

Not exactly newsworthy, was it?

. said...


Hysteria? Where? Was anything I said factually incorrect?

You're citing the socialist voice. Have you any concept of the relationship between the far left and political Islam? Try Foucault and the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Take a look at how the sharia family law courts operate in the UK. They breach the fundamental human rights of women and children systematically. Because mainstream Islamic law is incompatible with human rights as determined by the ECHR and House of Lords. Read sharia law. Read the court judgments. I don't do hysteria but I don't do far left propaganda either.

Bob said...

Mallow, by all means post your sources. My source reveals what happened in Canada and how it was blown out of proportion.

Bryant said...

@DoubtingThomas, as amused as I am that you fall on the playbook of "but you're actually gay", I'll rather just share this.

I'm sure that you have free will just like the patients of Dr. Michael Gazzaniga in "The Ethical Brain"

"For example, a patient with a collesotomy was presented with instructions to begin walking only in his left visual field, information that goes only to the right hemisphere of the brain as a result of a quirk of biology. When asked by researchers why he began walking, the interpretive part of the brain spontaneously created the explanation that he wanted to get a soda since it had no knowledge of the instructions."

But I'm sure that you wouldn't confabulate, that you're actually completely aware, and there's no way for external influences to define you because you're actually special, unlike most people.

Hooray for you. By the way, so do 96% of Americans, who believe that they are "above-average." But unlike then, I'm sure, you're actually special :)

Bye. This is why I don't engage with liberals. I hope this has been edifying for you, but probably not, because ultimately, people basically don't change. Sorry for wasting your time and mine.

lyme-mom said...

I never comment here as I dont "get" how to, this is my daughters gmail account, I dont have one.....

Terminal One : I think you are being too hard on yourself, as far as nothing to offer !! I also have chronic Lyme, which was undiagnosed for more than 5 years. total of 15 years now ill. Yes, I take antibiotics, and it is already hard to get these.

But, I went years before diagnosis in pain, and ill, self treating with herbs. I even worked one shift at the farmers market, and then collapsed for the next 3 days. At that time I took alot of Ca poppy saint johns wort tincture that I made. Once, a friend gave me some whole plant oriental poppy, and this made into tea was the best for pain. You can grow poppies. They are easy to grow.

I also think that skill and knowledge we get now is valuable. SO we are in pain, we may know how to instruct on how to get things done that others dont know. We may be able to mind school aged children, or read a story or mind the soup. Learn what you can now, and learn to grow a few herbs to self medicate later !

DoubtingThomas said...

(maybe 2nd comment - first one posted but didn't appear after few days so perhaps I made a mistake)

@bryant: I didn't say you were gay. I don't know if you are a homophobe. You have been quite obscure about what your 'thing' is that causes you to hate the Left and want ti fight - for glory - aligning yourself with those who may want to kill you ( as you put it ) . You shared details of an experiment with evidence of sales manipulation and I shared details about one where people chose to deny traits about themselves as evidence of people choosing how to be. Not sure why you would think that example applied to you. Prominent alt-right members are gay so your allegiance to the alt-right wouldn't make me think you were anti-gay.

Re 'The Ethical Brain' - I've not read it. No doubt it would be interesting to read. I suspect that consciousness is not found within the brain but rather operates through it. I suggest that you look in to Scientism though. Complete Awareness is not the result from going through a spiritual awakening but it is understandable that you confuse it as such. My understanding we couldn't cope with complete awareness.

As for being Special - I see the unnecessary attempt at sarcasm/put down - but it fell flat because I didn't described myself as such and certainly don't consider myself to be. Why would you? As far as I know there are possibly millions like me.

I love it when people try to label my values though. Liberal is far too restrictive a label. I'm more pick and mix ;)

Yes interacting with you has been edifying so no need to fear that you wasted my time.

I suspect that you avoid interacting with people capable of shining a light on the inconsistencies in your thoughts and thereby causing you to feel uncomfortable. It's a common response to Cognitive Dissonance and the act of avoiding those people it is a type of selection bias.

Thank you for your time. Good luck with it all.

chaugmo said...

The sort of bigotry described is definitely widespread among "liberals". However, I think the election of Trump makes it impossible to maintain the illusion that the federal government has any legitimacy, whereas the election of Hillary would have allowed her supporters to hang on to that illusion somewhat longer. I think this is the crux, the source of the stridency and hysteria. It is a protest against reality.

Kurt Cagle said...

Steve Bannon adds an interesting wild card to the mix. My take on Trump is that he is a figurehead, perhaps not as naive as his detractors paint him but a salesman who has generally been able to walk away before the implementing of what he was selling actually gets done.

Bannon, on the other hand, is a worthy foe. I think the most salient point with Bannon is that he is remarkably aware of both governing philosophy and post-industrial dynamics. He has, in the space of a week, gone for the jugular with executive orders (that by several reports bear his thumbprint on the keys) that are designed to sew confusion, chaos and discord, and to wrap the existing power structures in knots. He's a student of Strauss/Howe, and I would be surprised if he was not a reader of your blog.

My biggest question is his motivation. I think that Trump and most of his cronies are in it primarily for the opportunity to enrich themselves. Bannon is playing a deeper, darker game, one where I think his goal is to hasten the collapse, then to be in a better position to pick up the pieces.

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on him.

Bill Man said...

Thanks for talking about this issue of people thinking the future holds Armageddon or perpetual progress. It's been so long since I've seen you discuss this topic and it hasn't been discussed often enough on your site. Besides the magical thinking of Armageddon or perpetual progress, what other magical thinking would you care to discuss? Maybe religion, besides yours I mean?

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