morality

Moral authority

Happy Easter, everyone. On Maundy Thursday, Pope Francis pissed off a lot of conservatives on the internet by performing the tradition of foot washing on Muslim refugees only days after jihadis killed a lot of people in Brussels. It might not be readily apparent, but conservatives on the internet were, as usual, being strategically retarded.

Something bad happened in Pakistan early on Easter Sunday, which fit into the idea of this post perfectly enough to get me to actually write it. Another Islamic terrorist attack happened, this time targeting Christians who were celebrating the holiday in Pakistan, resulting in the death of 67 people.

So, the time makes it clear that while Christianity responds responds to violence with peace, and Islam responds to peace with violence. The contradictions are piling up. Conservatives condemning the pope are making a mistake that is the complement of the mistake made by moderate Muslims who refuse to take a meaningful stand against terrorism: they underestimate the importance of moral authority. The timing was so perfect that a conspiracy theorist might guess that someone is trying to make Islam look terrible.

Is Christianity the religion of love and sacrifice? Because Muslims say the same thing about their religion. But talk is cheap, and people believe what they see.

The disjunction in optics continues to become more and more skewed in this direction, and that can only be a good thing. Islam is a bad system of ideas, and bad systems of ideas need to lose moral authority.

The slave morality of sexual liberation

In Lenin’s time, a considerable number of young Marxists eagerly awaited a post-revolutionary society where getting sex would be really really easy:

Youth’s altered attitude to questions of sex is of course ‘fundamental’, and based on theory. Many people call it ‘revolutionary’ and ‘communist’. They sincerely believe that this is so. I am an old man, and I do not like it. I may be a morose ascetic, but quite often this so-called ‘new sex life’ of young people and frequently of the adults too seems to me purely bourgeois and simply an extension of the good old bourgeois brothel. All this has nothing in common with free love as we Communists understand it. No doubt you have heard about the famous theory that in communist society satisfying sexual desire and the craving for love is as simple and trivial as ‘drinking a glass of water’. A section of our youth has gone mad, absolutely mad, over this ‘glass-of-water theory’. It has been fatal to many a young boy and girl. Its devotees assert that it is a Marxist theory. I want no part of the kind of Marxism which infers all phenomena and all changes in the ideological superstructure of society directly and blandly from its economic basis, for things are not as simple as all that. A certain Frederick Engels has established this a long time ago with regard to historical materialism.

Clearly Lenin wasn’t on board with it, but you get the idea that the desire for this type of sexual liberation was a peculiarly communist interest. I don’t think that the Tsar and his cronies had to worry about the supply of readily available sex. As every teen comedy has shown us, the inability to get laid is the mark of a loser. Communism is the revolt of the losers.

I definitely don’t subscribe to Nietzsche’s philosophy, but his concept of master-slave morality seems salient enough to (loosely) borrow. Slave morality is defined by the and values and wishes of an overworked peasant. A great illustration is the land of Cockaigne, depicted in the featured image of this article. From Wikipedia:

Cockaigne or Cockayne is a land of plenty in medieval myth, an imaginary place of extreme luxury and ease where physical comforts and pleasures are always immediately at hand and where the harshness of medieval peasant life does not exist. Specifically, in poems like The Land of Cockaigne, Cockaigne is a land of contraries, where all the restrictions of society are defied (abbots beaten by their monks), sexual liberty is open (nuns flipped over to show their bottoms), and food is plentiful (skies that rain cheeses). Writing about Cockaigne was a commonplace of Goliard verse. It represented both wish fulfillment and resentment at the strictures of asceticism and dearth.

…roasted pigs wander about with knives in their backs to make carving easy, where grilled geese fly directly into one’s mouth, where cooked fish jump out of the water and land at one’s feet. The weather is always mild, the wine flows freely, sex is readily available, and all people enjoy eternal youth.

All of this is what “good” is particularly from the perspective of someone with low-level physiological concerns.

For the man who doesn’t get laid, the most important thing about sex is how attainable it is. All other considerations are secondary. Increased supply of easy-access sex is the promise of sexual liberation. Some spillover is bound to happen, and the involuntary celibate wants to get splashed. He doesn’t care about the virtues of human sexuality higher up the pyramid as long as he is thirsty.

I’ve started calling this Mariani’s Law: In general, how keen someone is on sexual liberation and sex positivity is inversely proportional to how attractive that person is.

But are there virtues to sex beyond just having a lot of it? Faithful couples seem to think so, and for what it’s worth, so does the Catholic Church. Even from a utilitarian standpoint I think we need to look at this with some scrutiny. I bet that the average sexual encounter in Iran is hotter than than the average sexual counter in the United States, even though there’s more sexual encounters per capita in the US. The point is that there’s tradeoffs in changes of a society’s sexual mores. The side that favors quantity above all else are the “slaves.” The other side is concerned with values that transcend that calculation.

I’ve reaped the dividends of the sexual revolution, and in all probability it’s been a net gain. Sex is awesome per se, and that’s precisely why we don’t need a value system telling us that we should be promiscuous. That kind of value system doesn’t serve monogamous couples, it serves the sexually frustrated.

Awkward internet Marxists who get miffed about “slut shaming” definitely are at slave-level:

Responsibility in the Moral Imagination

francesca_paola_1280

We read of the smile, desired of lips long-thwarted,

        Such smile, by such a lover kissed away,

        He that may never more from me be parted

Trembling all over, kissed my mouth. I say

        That book was Galleot, Galleot the complying

        Ribald who wrote; we read no more that day.”

Dante Alighieri, Inferno, V, ll. 73-142

In Dante’s Inferno, we are greeted with a vignette as familiar to the English writer as Romeo and Juliet – predating it by centuries, the tale of Francesca and Paola. Based on actual events, these are two souls trapped in the depths of hell because of the sin of lust. While the interpretations of Dante regarding hell don’t match wholly those of the Orthodox, the Inferno is often less about theological questions (which are the framework for the series of vignettes) and more about the meaning behind the scenes it permits to be disclosed.

The significance of this scene, like all of those in hell, is less about whether such persons would be condemned (we actually do not know the answer in most cases) but the fact that something gravely wrong, judged by almost any standard conceivable, occurred. Being trapped in hell gives Dante the chance to meet those responsible and ask what error brought them there. In a framework where these tragedies and errors were rendered meaningless or immediately forgotten, there would be no basis for remembering them and letting them stand as witnesses against such behavior. Consider that though the Buddhist would be trying not to be caught up in such things either, would the man reincarnated as a cockroach remember to tell of how he became something worthy of being trodden underfoot?

(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.

Conceptual Anarchy in Hinduism

“9.334. But to serve Brahmanas (who are) learned in the Vedas, householders, and famous (for virtue) is the highest duty of a Sudra, which leads to beatitude.” –Manu Smriti

“All your talk is of caste and creed

Is it even as natural as the spider and its web?

The four blessed Vedas, were they created by Brahma?

Is caste and creed worthwhile, ye elders of Paichalur?” -Uttiranallur Nagai

Mandana-Misra-and-AdiShankaras-debate

Hinduism is in a constant state of transformation through internal discourse and dissent. Image source.

(This post mostly consists of quotes from Manu Smriti and Medieval Hindu Bhakti poems, so if you want to skip my spiel just hit the “read more” link at the bottom.)

People in the west tend to have an odd outlook on the ethics or “doctrines” of Hinduism. In most religions, doctrine works something like this: There is a core text, or set of texts, which contain precepts. Early in the religion’s history some sages write commentaries on these. The rest of the reasoning and doctrine formation of the religion continues by referring to these sources for legitimacy. Innovations occur, but normally only if it can somehow be “textually justified.”

Certainly there is a part of the Hindu religion, which operates very similarly to this—the religion of the Brahmins. But Hinduism cannot be thought of as just that. It is the religion of all Indians, except perhaps those who explicitly decry the label, like the Buddhists, Jainsm and Sikhs (and even those divisions are sometimes blurry. Even some sects of Islam are pretty heavily syncretized.)

(more…)

For the greater good — mine.

The rise of modernity has brought with it a moral shift from the universal laws of good and evil to the taste-based judgment of individuals. Our world grows ever more dizzying with the complexity of the threads of modern contingency, and individuals feel ever more alienated from the happenings around them. The plight of a neighbor is no longer as present in mind, since actions are more divorced from knowable results and meaning. For better or worse, the low-level functions of human beings will naturally lead down the easy path of enjoyment and aversion to non-enjoyment, outside of a moral system dictating that there is a correct way to behave. Of course, people still have ideas of  right and wrong. If you ask any given person living in a coastal urban area about what is a good thing for a person to do in life, the results won’t be that startling. Much like the Simpsons after season 10, the concept of “doing the right thing” has been quietly replaced by an impostor with the same name and appearance, aping the mannerisms of the original with middling success. Helping others will probably come out as part of our urban sophisticate’s answer, and everything still seems pretty normal.

When examined, this answer leads to to this conclusion: being a “good person” is a desirable trait because it feels good. Things are getting a little odd in this world of morals – but they’re about to get a whole lot stranger. We are told that being a happy person is the moral imperative. Follow your dreams! Find true love! Have a fulfilling career! See the world! This is definitely an incredible deal — these are all gratifying things that you already wanted to do, and it gives you the added bonus of making a good person. Of course, her moral prescriptions for living the life of a good person don’t even require thinking about right and wrong, meaning you don’t need a moral system to guide you to such behavior. The less easy truth is that while such things are certainly not bad things to want, they aren’t the final boss of moral goodness, either. In the mind of people like our friend, who is actually an intelligent and kind hypothetical person, the moral imperative to do what is objectively right, whether we would otherwise like to or not, has been replaced by the wholly redundant moral imperative to stimulate the enjoyment-seeking and novelty-seeking firmware that is our animal nature.

This modern doctrine’s Achilles’ heel made manifest is the fact that a system of right and wrong based on the feelings of people necessarily inherits the pride, prejudice, and desire for self-gratification that are inherent to the feelings of people. Even assuming the moral conclusions drawn from this relative system are the same as an objective one, the execution is different. As soon an opportunity arises demanding the right thing to be done, a moral relativist will, by the rules inherent to such a system, falter as soon as his egotism or prejudice are challenged. Of course, moral objectivists are prone to the very same human frailty, but not because of the very rules of their moral system. If we are to believe that we ourselves are moral lawgivers, then we are just self-canonized saints in the Church of Me. All experiences start and end with the individual, and absent of a meaning beyond our limits, the unexperienced experience of other beings is beyond our limits. We are the alpha and the omega of our own existence, bounded in a nutshell and counting ourselves kings of infinite space.

(more…)