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Alt-right blog reading list: How do you read?

Sorry for the minimum of posting lately, y’all, I’m working on my talk for this Thursday at Jack Ross’s book release at the National Press Club. It should be quite an evening, so be sure to make it if you’re in the DC area.

It’s April, which means on the 24th, this blog will have existed for one year. To date there have been 302 posts, and traffic, though it’s stalled recently, has been on the up and up. So please, dear reader, forgive the retrospection and stats.

I thought it would be a good idea to update the reading list of blogs and websites I read. I last did this in December 2013, and my reading habits have expanded and changed a great deal since then, so there are more than 40 links this time. Roughly speaking I get news in three ways; aggregator sites, social media, and blogs. Timely news I mostly get through the first two, and then the rest is heavily curated by ideology or personality. What strikes me about this kind of news diet is one doesn’t spend a whole lot of time on an individual site. I don’t, say, skim the top dozen papers every morning, which, if I’ve been paying attention to social media, mostly contain old information. Some aggregators I use frequently are Newsmap.jp, Memeorandum, and the Drudge Report. Anyway, here’s the list, I welcome feedback and recommendations:

Conservatism/Porchers
The Imaginative Conservative

Front Porch Republic
Nomocracy in Politics
Pittsford Perennialist
Throne, Altar, Liberty
The Heavy Anglo-Orthodox
Hipster Conservative
A Conservative Blog For Peace
The Mendenhall
Chris Bray
Solidarity Hall
Outside the Beltway

Republicans
Ace of Spades
RedState
Libertarian Republican
A Certain Enthusiasm

Libertarianism
The Beacon
Propertarianism
Students for Liberty
Tenth Amendment Center
Pileus
Antiwar.com
Antiplanner
Market Urbanism
Library of Law & Liberty
Liberty Unbound

Left
Freddie DeBoer
Undernews
Anarchist News
Socialist Worker
Democratic Left
Outside the Circle
Murray Dobbin
Steve Lendman
Political Research Associates
Revolting Europe
FAIR
CommonDreams
Rancid Honeytrap
New Internationalist
Red Pepper
Libcom

Religion
Cosmos the in Lost
Outside The Asylum
Ordinariate News
Anglican Use News
Ordinariate Pilgrim
Foolishness To The World
New Liturgical Movement
Caelum Et Terra
Opus Publicum
Fr. Hunwicke’s Mutual Enrichment
Fr. Ray Blake
Fr. Z
Standing on my Head
The Josias
Rorate Caeli
Titus One Nine
That the Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill
OrthoCuban

Geopolitics/secession
GeoCurrents

Springtime of Nations
Let a Thousand Nations Bloom
Nationalia
Hawaiian Kingdom
Jefferson Declaration Blog

Magazines
Via Meadia
The National Interest
Spiked
Taki
Oxford American

Neoreaction
Xenosystems
The Reactivity Place
Bloody Shovel
A House With No Child
Free Northerner
Graaaaaagh
Henry Dampier
28 Sherman
Losing The Creek
The Orthosphere
Anarchopapist
Social Matter
Neocolonial
Anomaly UK

Culture/Philosophy
Across Difficult Country
Street Carnage
Garvey’s Ghost
Arma Virumque
Steve Sailer
Never Yet Melted
Royal World
Modern Medievalism
Uncouth Reflections
Sweet Talk
Dark Ecologies
People of Shambhala
Gornahoor
Slate Star Codex
Ribbonfarm
Hooded Utilitarian
Ecology Without Nature

Science
West Hunter
Razib Khan
William M. Briggs
Dienkenes
Parapundit
Noahpinion

History
Old Virginia Blog
Mad Monarchist

Other
Jake Bacharach
The Fly Bottle
3 Quarks Daily
Luke Ford
Dangerous Minds

Local
Barticles
Bearing Drift
Deo Vindice
Shaun Kenney
Virginia Conservative
Virginia Virtucon
Ox Road South
Shenandoah Breakdown

Update: I should add, the fourth way I get news is newsletters, which are a bull market these days. The Transom, Prufrock, Politico Playbook, and those by individual writers (Chris Morgan just started one, subscribe here). There used to be a great CQ defense one that is now defunct.

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Kant on reason and happiness

Lately I have been, ever so slowly, churning my way through some of the philosophical classics one tends to have never read if one studies finance and economics in school.  Naturally, I crossed paths with Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. The German philosopher had just begun to dive into the function of human reason in general when his subsequent passage stunned me:

In actual fact too we find that the more a cultivated reason concerns itself with the aim of enjoying life and happiness, the farther does man get away from true contentment.  This is why there arises in many, and that too in those who have made most trial of this use of reason, if they are only candid enough to admit it, a certain degree of misologythat is, a hatred of reason; for when they balance all the advantage they draw, I will not say from thinking out all the arts of ordinary indulgence, but even from science (which in the last resort seems to them to be also an indulgence of the mind), they discover that they have in fact only brought more trouble on their heads than they have gained in the way of happiness.  On this account they come to envy, rather than to despise, the more common run of men, who are closer to the guidance of mere natural instinct, and who do not allow their reason to have much influence on their conduct.  So far we must admit that the judgement of those who seek to moderate – and even to reduce below zero – the conceited glorification of such advantages as reason is supposed to provide in the way of happiness and contentment with life is in no way soured or ungrateful to the goodness which the world is governed.

Kant had captured the spirit of what had nagged me plenty of times over the past handful of years.  Was deeper philosophical and scientific pondering counterproductive to contentment?  Is ignorance, in fact, bliss?

While I very much enjoyed giving critical thought to large, fundamental questions I had only paid mental lip-service to before, the possibility of unsettling conclusions unsettled me.  If my priors on the efficacy of the minimum wage or the desirability of liberal immigration turn out to be dead-wrong, I’ll get over it.  On the other hand, if human consciousness is a mere illusion and the universe evolved along a deterministic, meaningless path, well, that one’s a bit tougher to swallow. Forget the challenge of defending a libertarian political worldview in a world where no one is ever responsible for any action; entertaining the thought that oneself is a robot for the first time isn’t a lot of fun.  Existential crises are accurately named.  Besides, who can blame you for supporting a particular viewpoint anyways, if you don’t actually choose to support it?  And how can any of the criticisms that I levy, in turn, be legitimate if free will is a myth?  And so on, and so forth.

Or perhaps human agency does exist but occupies a much smaller role in explaining action than I initially attributed it.  If intuition fills that newly created void, then the potential implications are troubling.  Intuition may be somewhat malleable to the human will, but nobody gets to pick their genes (at least up until now) and Kant awards you no points for intuition, concluding that an action’s “authentic moral worth” is driven by an inviolable sense of duty and not “inclinations” or utilitarian calculations alone.  Since a lot of beneficial acts, in my opinion, do not stem from a sense of duty, deeply reasoned or otherwise, “good” people suddenly look a lot less good.  But it gets worse.  If conformance to duty is the only source of moral worth than are people who do not act from duty yet are gifted “good” inclinations on precisely the same moral standing as those who got the short end of the stick with “bad” ones?

I went down similar logical rabbit holes elsewhere but never really reached any hard conclusions on most of the “big” questions, just very weakly held beliefs.  To a certain degree, I have come to accept a transition from taking metaphysical and religious priors for granted to answering “I don’t know” and “yeah, maybe” a lot more.  Still, coming out the other side without clear answers didn’t feel much better than some of the anxiety on the way in.

David Bazan has some pithy lyrics that come to mind from an album chronicling his fallout with religion.

digging up the root of my confusion / if no one planted it how does it grow / and why are some hell-bent on there being an answer / while some are quite content to answer I don’t know

I can’t fully arrive at Bazan’s latter group, and that bothers me.  Most of the big questions still bother me.  Employing reason where intuition and untested assumptions once toiled didn’t advance my position on any axis of happiness and incremental peace from such exploration didn’t materialize in the end.  While some emerge from such a journey with greater or equal conviction, blissful ignorance and blind acceptance can seem very peaceful if that conviction fades instead.  This is the nagging thought that gave initial weight to the quoted excerpt above.  I had suppressed it on a few occasions and reluctantly half-recognized its presence on others, yet never fully addressed it until Kant stuck it in my face.  Maybe the answers are unsettling, and reason is the only way to find them, and therefore ignorance is bliss and reason torture.  If you didn’t know a question existed, it’s impossible to let potential answers bother you.  Reason is responsible for discovering not only the answers, but the questions as well.

As for now, I don’t regret thinking some of the bigger issues through as they seem to have left me no worse off.  Reason can still be a very powerful tool for good, even if that doesn’t perfectly translate to happiness and even if liberals overestimate its importance.  I can’t sign on to the “ignorance is bliss” mantra in this context, but the possibility still lurks, re-surfacing every time I catch myself wondering about determinism or spooky physics and getting a bit unnerved.  But perhaps my reading of Kant is much too negative, after all, the gift of reason as a means to developing a good and pure will seems in line with what a divine being might impart to agents also given free will.  Should that be my reading of it?

I don’t know. Add it to the list I suppose.

Guest hosting The Mike Church Show Wednesday 3/18

Mike’s been kind enough to have me back on to fill in for him Wednesday, listen in if you’re a Sirius XM subscriber. The show runs from 6-9 AM, on Patriot 125. I will update this post with a schedule of guests as I firm it up.

Update: The guest list for Wednesday, starting at 6:30, will be attorney Ian Smith on the state of challenges to Obama’s executive amnesty, Betsy Woodruff and Ellen Carmichael on the Glenn Beck/Grover Norquist feud and the Catholic vote, Phil Magness on he and Bob Murphy’s much-heralded debunking of Piketty, Trevor Burrus on the raisin cartel, closing out with a half-hour jaw session on Hillary Clinton’s various scandals with TheDC’s own Vince Coglianese and Chuck Ross.

A response to Nick Ford: get off your high horse bro

By golly, I’ve stumbled upon another reason libertarians will never win: the complete absence of a sense of humor.

It’s happening” gifs notwithstanding, the liberty movement can’t take a joke. I write one measly piece poking fun at a silly idea, and suddenly I’m a monster. Go figure. I’ve been through this crapshoot before, but the game is getting old.

Here’s what I’m talking about: my recent article on the anti-work crusade has engendered an interesting response from the target of ridicule, Mr. Nick Ford. This wasn’t your typical internet rebuttal. Rather, it was a “meta” rejoinder that focused on the style of my argument rather than the substance. For that, I say, “good job Mr. Ford.” The nature of debate is a topic seldom discussed today. Liberals too often wax and pamper their own victim status, while conservatives cherish their fatalism — a flaw I’m certainly guilty of.

Ford contends that my entire takedown of his philosophy is compromised by not fully understanding his view. He claims my critique “isn’t much of a critique at all.” I made the mistake of going off “on tangents” and brought up “irrelevant” points in “pretty noxious ways.” To Ford, I committed the great crime of not being “familiar” with my subject. Clearly, I deserve a good stint in the stocks!

Jokes aside, do Ford’s accusations have any merit?

(more…)

Striving to cease being “Addicted to Distraction”

0600 – Wake up, start coffee maker.

0605 – Check Twitter for new “notifications.” Check email for new posts from Dampier, Land, Social Matter, The Mitrailleuse. Etc. Check Drudge to see if the world ended overnight.

0620 – Begin reading local newspaper. Front section is a mish mash of local crime, state legislature blather, Christians beheaded by ISIS, chickens loose on a California freeway after falling off a truck, train crashes in West Virginia, snow storms Back East. Etc.

0645 – Begin making breakfast and lunch for me and my son. For the first time so far today, deal with something real.

Periodically throughout day – repeat check-check-check. Get angry at Mitch McConnell for giving in on “clean DHS funding bill.” Obama wins again. The country is going to shit. The goddam Democrats are blocking everything good and holy, except for bringing millions more illegal aliens who will eventually vote for them and for more welfare. Pope Francis is quoted as saying he’s just skippy with homos having anal sex…or at least that’s what the Lamestream Media want you to believe about him. Greece elects hard-lefties who promise to screw the EU, and it’s hard not to get excited/concerned about that, either because they’re hard-left a-holes or because it would be so delicious to see the EU collapse like the craptacular, multiculti house of cards it truly is. Tweet the blog posts from the people you like that were posted in the last six hours. Throw in a couple of original tweets about how the Oscars are a disgusting sewer hole of Political Correctness. Check Drudge again to see if the world ended while you weren’t noticing. Don’t resist clicking on the story about a man having a freaking baby. Don’t resist clicking on the link at the bottom to “8 Hottest Hotties in their Hottest bikinis.”

Etc.

Read Dr. Bruce Charlton’s new book Addicted to Distraction. It’s free, and it’ll take you an hour. May you never look at Mass Media the same. We are indeed addicted to distraction, you and I and most of the people who immerse themselves in the Mass Media. Which is just plain most people in the West, and soon the world.

1878bruce_resized

Dr. Charlton makes the point often missed: the media aren’t “biased” to the Left, the Medium is the Message, and the message is that everything is someone’s opinion, everything is “relative.” Even when media presents something good, heroic, charitable, it’s immediately subject to analysis and criticism, to dissection of motive, to questioning on whether the White Cismale who saved a kid from drowning was just another Macho stereotype.

We thought we would use the Web for our purposes, us conservatives, men of the Right, Traditionalists, Neoreactionaries. The Left controlled the Old Mass Media, the NYTWAPO and NBABCBS, but we would seize our chance for every man and woman jack to blog and comment and share our perspective, to go around the Gatekeepers, to form our own networks and “get our message out.”

We were wrong. We were assimilated. We continued to click on the Mass Media, to respond, respond, respond to all of the relativism and the bullshit, to “strike back” at Obama and Reid and Pelosi and Jezebel and Buzzfeed,  Slate and Salon, to the married fags and the trannies and the Slut Walkers, the beheaders and terrorists, the escaped tigers and maniacs, the Kardashians and Housewives; to the Daily Spew.

Dr. Charlton is a blogger himself, of course, and he’s quite frank in his assessment that not only is he mired in the Mass Media, too, but his efforts to escape the addiction are subject to constant temptation and periodic backsliding. But it’s a fight well worth making, not in an effort to save the society, but to save your soul. You might with profit read his piece The Psychological Basis of Self-Remembering as an aid.

It is possible, if barely, to continue to use the web and to post articles on real things without remaining in the Mass Media matrix. I’m going to try.  My strength is the examination of Old Stuff, anyway. Like Dr. Charlton, I know I’ll backslide, just like with the Commandments I’m taught in the Church. These human frailties are the base upon which the Mass Media was built.

The Church, at least, has the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Hopefully, as the media continue to lead society toward the drain we can, like AA members, help each other retain a measure of sanity.

Guest hosting the Mike Church Show Tuesday morning

The King Dude has been kind enough to have me back again tomorrow, so if you’re a Sirius XM listener, consider making it a part of your morning commute. The show runs from 6-9 AM on Patriot 125.

So far the guests I’ve got lined up are Edwin Black (author, IBM and the Holocaust), Roger Stone (you should know him), Jack Hunter (editor of Rare), and Jay Cost (writer at the Weekly Standard and author of the new book, A Republic No More), plus a mystery person I haven’t nailed down yet.

Update: The fifth guest will be Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos.

Update II: Someone’s put my interview with Milo online re: Gamergate, Law & Order, Brianna Wu