Why I’m not a progressive


In 2000, The Guardian in a profile reported the event that prompted the junior Roger Scruton to be a conservative with the help of the philosopher’s own words:

cover-scruton
Sir Roger Scruton

For Roger Scruton, as for so many of his generation, the Paris riots of May 1968 were the defining political moment of his life. He was in the Latin Quarter when students tore up the cobblestones to hurl at the riot police. His friends overturned cars and uprooted lamp-posts to erect the barricades. Representatives of his own discipline, old philosophers like Marx and new ones like Foucault, were providing the intellectual fuel for the fire raging on the ground.

As he watched the events unfold from his apartment window, and listened to his friends, drunk on revolutionary hope and excitement, Scruton found his own emotions and opinions crystallising. “I suddenly realised that I was on the other side,” he says. “What I saw was an unruly mob of self-indulgent middle-class hooligans. When I asked my friends what they wanted, what were they trying to achieve, all I got back was this ludicrous Marxist gobbledegook. I was disgusted by it, and thought there must be a way back to the defence of western civilisation against these things. That’s when I became a conservative. I knew I wanted to conserve things rather than pull them down.”

Sir Roger’s reason is as good and lucid of an illustration as to why one should oppose the Left. Not that I have such a experience that so encapsulates the nature of Leftism, but I would like to detail a recent epiphany as to why I reject the synonymous progressivism.

Consider the term “progressive.” People who are progressives identify by being for progress. Duh, I know, but note that to identify by something suggests strong emotions for and fervent belief in it. To identify by progress is to advertise robust attachment for progression. Such strident convictions compel action toward their actualization, nurturing an agent for progress. Being for progress, change, by default, is being against the status quo. Hence, a progressive is someone who actively works to abolish the current state of affairs.

Now, change, in it of itself, is not a terrible thing. There are times when it’s justified. Rather, the fetishization of change as a good in it of itself is what’s grossly insidious. Identifying as progressive makes change a fetish; the act extols it. Then what constitutes progress for a progressive, someone, who as a matter of self-realization, is against the way things are? Simply what isn’t — what ought to be, his moral convictions regardless if they’re rational or possible. Taken together, the contrarian nature that inheres in progressive identity and the notion of change as intrinsically good, we have a potent and toxic recipe for radicalism.

Then there’s the problem that not everyone shares moral values and convictions. Disagreement is an obvious feature of the world. So, what then? If progress demands legalized abortion but others maintain abortion is infanticide, then what gives? Well, whoever’s convictions represent the de facto status quo, of course!

The moral stench is now becoming ever more pungent, I think. Behold its foulness: As agents radically pursuant to their own moral dogmas, progressives must impose their change as a matter of righteousness. If other people’s morals hinder it, they have a holy mandate to neutralize them, thus the eagerness to socially engineer. Nor is this crusade content with redefining a society’s morals. The cultural web of films, art, traditions, language, institutions that disseminate information — mass media, schools, churches, etc. — reaffirming these norms must also be dealt with. Every facet of society must be altered. Thusly, we see progressivism entails and justifies totalitarianism in theory, engenders it in practice.

When one examines Hegelian-influenced Marxism, which maintains that change occurs as a matter of dialectic — a clash of contradictions or polar opposites, where Aughebung is the negation or overcoming of the status quo, and with it, its assimilation into the greater totality and higher reality — one finds an intellectual penchant for such all-consuming tyrannical aspirations. Accordingly, everything is interconnected with mediated relationships between one another. As per this progressivism, totalitarian aggression is normalized as well as ennobled. And make no mistake, progressives are the aggressors, and they are motivated to act aggressively.

The point I’m making in a very roundabout way is, no matter how crude or refined, progressivism is totalitarianism. Period.

Like Scruton, it disgusts me,

Modus Pownens

Can you feel the Censorship tonight?


Please reblog from Ask the Bigot (aka Katy Faust) if you believe same-sex marriage is not the rosy picture as whitewashed by media, think industrial surrogacy takes us into a “Brave New World” of chattel slavery, find political correctness in the service of censorship abhorrent and just know in your bones that the truth sets us free, helps us flourish and sustains Western civilization as we know and love it.

“I aim to misbehave.” ~ Malcolm Reynolds.

askthe"Bigot"

On Monday my friend Paddy Manning, a gay man in Ireland, published “The Airbrushed Portrait of the Perfect Marriage” at Mercatornet. The article critiqued the narrative that Elton John and David Furnish have “one of the most blissfully happy marriages” in show-business. Paddy points out that such a picture of the couple is only possible because, in the name of protecting their children, there is a legal injunction saddling the British press/internet which forbids publishing details of their extra-marital escapades. 

rectangleSo, in other words, the nature of these two men’s behavior and it’s inevitable impact on the children is not a problem.  But reporting it is. The solution is not to stop the escapades, but to censor the reporting of them.

Because Mercatornet isn’t based in the UK, they published Paddy’s article. However, Mercatornet then informed Paddy that Elton John’s lawyers “issued an injunction of some sort to the hosting company…

View original post 1,168 more words

Max Horkheimer on Critical Theory


Conservatives who bring up neo-Marxist Critical Theory and its influence on the modern Left (of which I’ve written about here and here) are often dismissed as conspiracy theorists. After all, “Marx” is still somewhat a dirty, four-letter word in the mainstream, and progressives big and small convulse at being besmirched by it.

Well, take such filthy language straight from the Horkheimer’s mouth:

Betwixt thine dialectical thighs, Freedom and Justice, the social justice warrior is thus thrust into the world only to despise it and manufacture its overcoming. Who else thrives upon bringing forth the perceived “negative aspects” of this country and the concomitant self-loathing festering in American and Western politics? Critical Theory, criticism solely for the sake of change itself, is their noxious enterprise. Regardless of whether the modern leftist wants to think about it, here was “Daddy” reminiscing about conception.

And yes, you read the subtitles correctly. For Horkheimer, a society that “does not immiserate the workers but helps them to build a better life” is not a good or free one. There’s still workers and property owners, the oppressed and their oppressors and social strata, the very being of which dominates human existence. So let’s criticize and tear down the “superstructure” that prevents us from divining this superlative community about which people like Horkheimer cannot ever seem to articulate a moral standard, let alone a compelling reason, as to why this immanentized future would be superior to the capitalist, poverty-killing, constitutional republic in which we now reside. Sure, it’s not perfect, but there’s very little to suggest — controversial appeals to dialectic aside — what follows would be freer and more virtuous.

On the contrary, the evidence — history has routinely reflected the reality of fallible human nature — indicates that it would become the polar opposite,

Modus Pownens

Will social justice warriors apologize for their “cultural appropriation”?


* Updated on 4/30 *

Although it requires further effort and explanation, to keep it brief, mainstream social justice ideologies are incoherent. By design, these theories are less interested in truth and internal consistency between its tenets than enacting change. Are most social justice warriors aware of or if cognizant, even care to address these implications, precarious as they undoubtedly are?

Don’t count on it.

Both this incoherence and willful ignorance is perhaps best demonstrated by the use of the concept of “cultural appropriation.” According to “MTV Decoded” host Franchesca Ramsey, “The main problem with cultural appropriation comes from dominant groups ‘borrowing’ from marginalized groups who face oppression or have been stigmatized for their cultural practices throughout history” (00:36 – 00:46). She utilizes the example of cornrows and makes what is a false comparison between blacks being fired or told not to wear these type of hairstyles as a matter of workplace etiquette and white celebrities who are praised for wearing them in the contexts of fashion. Additionally, YouTube personality Kat Blaque opines, “Cultural appropriation can kind of be defined as a sort of taking of different aspects of culture, and in the process, kind of erasing the meaning and the importance of these aspects” (02:40 – 02:51). Both Ramsey and Blaque also intimate as racist the “monetization” of these cultural “aspects”;  both will also be haunted by the specter of their own words.

See, not that I’ve ever taken a course in ethnic studies, but I wager most instructors aren’t too keen on teaching their students who came up with Critical Theory — of which Critical Race Theory is a particular genus — and where this intellectual tradition of “Critique” comes from…

max-horkheimer
Max Horkheimer
adorno
Theodor Adorno
herbert_marcuse_in_newton_massachusetts_1955
Herbert Marcuse

….that’s right — white men! Although there were others, these were the three main guys who believed that philosophy ought to serve as handmaiden for the social liberation of the downtrodden against forms of oppression. Simply put, they conceived of Critical Theory to pursue such an end.

Now if I was a black, Critical Race Theory-espousing professor decrying the injustices of cultural appropriation during lecture and instilling the spirit of black emancipation against white hegemony into my budding activist students, I imagine, if I had any integrity, it would feel a tad bit awkward and self-contradictory to relay the fact that our entire crusade is indebted to whitey.

But if there is one consistent thing about social justice warriors, it’s that they have no integrity. Thus, if confronted with this information the likes of Ramsey and Blaque would probably distance themselves from their intellectual benefactors, responding that as white men, Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, et al. were the privileged of the privileged and truly could not fathom the sort of oppressive systems and structures “people of color” face daily. They’re part of the “dominant” group, so they and their ideas couldn’t be and aren’t subject to cultural appropriation.

Nice try, but I can’t help but find that reply about as useful as a riposte that skewers oneself. Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse and their colleagues are not only white but Jews — Jews who lived in Germany during 1920s and 30s. They literally fled their country because of the antisemitism and anticommunism of the Nazis. Therefore, it’s untenable to imply that men who escaped the white supremacist clutches of the Third Reich and otherwise would have been likely victims of the Holocaust, who also pioneered and wrote the first books on “structures of oppression,” overall lacked firsthand knowledge of racial discrimination and were more privileged than Ramsey and Blaque, who get in a tizzy when Kylie Jenner has the gall to wear cornrows or dreads.

In other circumstances I might be inclined to agree that the Kardashians are worse than the Nazis, though methinks what we have here is a rampant case of foot-in-mouth syndrome. Oh, and this gaffe is the gift that keeps on giving. There’s more of their own rope to be hanged upon, more of their own petard by which to be hoisted.

Remember Blaque mentioned that the “taking of different aspects of culture” trivializes their value and meaning? Well, to really understand Critical Theory and the work of Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse and at least the first generation of the Frankfurt School, one can’t downplay the roles of the Holocaust, the rise of fascists like the Nazis, mass media, consumer culture and the influences of Marx, Hegel and Freud in their thinking. Yet, there’s little doubt that Ramsey, Blaque and their brethren probably have never heard of the Frankfurt School let alone read the works of its most prolific thinkers. But that hasn’t stopped them from liberally “borrowing” various elements of these men’s work and “in the process, kind of erasing the meaning and the importance of these aspects” within the greater context of their thought and annals of philosophy.

See, social justice warriors are fond about about personal narratives and subjectivity as a legitimate forms of knowledge that supersede objective facts. That’s why the claim, “All lives matter” — the truth of which is uncontroversial — as a response to the proclamation of “Black Lives Matter” is now chastised as racist because it impugns the demagogues’ war cry and their grander project for “change.” Similarly, Horkheimer criticized positivism, metaphysics and other systems of absolute truth or objectivity that emphasized and scrupulously maintained the separation of subject (knower) and object (thing to be known external to the subject). Being the good Hegelian and Marxist that he was, according to him, individuals are embedded in the existential and historical contradictions constituting class struggle — in this sense, collapsing the subject-object distinction — and thereby ought not remove themselves from the suffering experienced therein, as the scientific method mandated even if applied in matters of sociology. Thus, radical emancipation, “change,” again is forestalled.

Between these examples of Horkheimer and the typical college cry-bully, there is an implicit call for empathy and primacy of feeling in rejection of detached rationality that is seen as complicit in social domination. However, Horkheimer relies on Hegel’s understanding of society as an intertwined totality and Marx’s focus on concrete existence to buttress this conclusion. Social justice warriors and their ilk just sort of assume it, the bastards with no awareness of their intellectual parentage that they are.

Of course there is more wanton taking from their forefathers. Progressives are extremely prone to denouncing those who disagree with them as “racist,” “homophobic,” “Islamophobic,” “transphobic” and just basically mentally ill and sociopathic. Horkheimer and Adorno were the first to habitually psychoanalyze and deconstruct the supposed lurking malicious biases behind any opposition in order to dismiss it. Likewise, the notions of “safe spaces,” perceived “right not to be offended” and shutting down of dissenting conservative or otherwise critical voices echoes the one-sided tolerance for the Left that Marcuse argued for in “Repressive Tolerance.”

Furthermore, they like to plagiarize the Marxist slogan of “We have nothing to lose but our chains” and sermonize about “being on the right side of history,” extracting the determinism that characterizes Marxist theory for rhetorical effect. Ramsey and Blaque even riff off of Marxist criticisms of commodification with their reference to capitalization or “monetization” of culture.

Now, I’m not implying they are disciples of Marx; rather, I’m insinuating they are disciples to nothing but their own wills to power. For I’m willing to bet they haven’t a clue what is dialectic, remain completely oblivious to the fact that what they scrutinize in society is what Marx identified as “superstructure” and don’t have the good Left-wing Hegelian sense to reject the entire rotten whole of the white male bourgeoisie culture they’re lambasting, instead often preferring to condemn it piecemeal and by its own socially spawned and accepted terms — in 140 characters or less. Any avowed Marxist at least acknowledges dialectic and is well-versed in these concepts. Most social justice warriors would probably go, “Dia-what?”. At the most flattering, they’re the worst kind of Marxists: unconscious and non-revolutionary.

This isn’t to argue they’re not dangerous or uninfluential because they definitely are, as the recent slew of college administrators and governors who crumble to their moral bluster abundantly illustrate. However, average social justice warriors lack the intellectual firepower and mental acuity to realize that they should go all-in and maintain some semblance of ideological coherence in the service of radical change. Instead of merely flirting with it, embrace the Dark Side of the Force, as it were. Follow the logic embedded in your tirades to its utopian conclusion. Yet, more comfortable and immersed in the status quo than they realize, these creatures of habit, as a matter of course, culturally appropriate singular elements of classical German philosophy and its 20th century offshoots when it suits them rather than jumping completely into the deep end.

Thusly, these self-righteous imbeciles are the ones who show no respect for the brilliant heritage and high culture they rely upon, thereby diminishing it and the men, oppressed or not, who begot it. They strip it from its context and mystify its meaning. Sure, their irreverence isn’t for making a profit; it’s just for enriching themselves in more and more power. They’re afflicted not so much by greed but that other immemorial evil that corrupts souls — megalomania. Terms such as “privilege,” “patriarchy,” “intersectionality,” “cultural appropriation,” “problematic,” “microaggression,” “cultures of oppression,” etc. exist to offer a patina of legitimacy, a veneer of objectivity — or in a phrase from Horkheimer and Adorno — serve as a form of “instrumental reason” to justify their swift bid to remake the world in their image.

Many people like Ramsey and Blaque like Critical Theory but are anything but critical. Not in a full-blooded Marxist sense. Not in an introspective, intellectual sense. They are dilettantes. Charlatans fooled by their own con. Most of their radicalism is imitation. The pretense of revolution is hollow. They court the devil but don’t really believe in him.

However, the Father of Lies is very real, and the hour is drawing late to exorcise his demonic machinations from the West’s embattled core,

Modus Pownens

I hate “people of color”


The phrase, folks! The phrase “people of color” is the subject of my ire not black, brown, red, yellow, purple and plaid people. Title came out a little wrong, admittedly, but c’mon guys—don’t be obtuse! There is something called the use-mention distinction, so why don’t you educate yourselves before you goin’ trippin’ on yous own legs and gettin’ ’em egg yolks on y’all faces ‘gin, you putzes.

Anywho, “people of color” (or “people of colour” if you’re British and thereby a git) is one of those politically correct terms that suddenly materialized out of the academic ethnic studies ether, and well, now everyone uses it: politicians, professors, journalists, college students, celebrities. You know, all our moral betters who selflessly serve as our benevolent overlords who are “in-the-know” about these kind of things. Their effete use of “people of color” proves it.

So one reason for my internet rage, all beet-faced with spittle, is the groupthink behind the recent mass adoption of this phrase into people’s lexicons. All the who’s who, people of influence, talk the same way is upsetting in a I-just-woke-up-in-a-George-Orwell-novel sort of way.

Then there’s the pretentiousness of it all. “Colored people” nowadays is considered dated and insensitive, but “people of color” has a ring to it, a nobility to behold. It bespeaks a mannered, enlightened, Tolkienesque syntax that is wielded by a cultured, progressive mind. So then ostensibly being “of color” confers a type of fantastical, legendary moral stature like “the Riders of Rohan,” “the White Tree of Gondor,” or “of House Lannister.” Ugh. The self-importance of it all induces the gag reflex.

And did I mention that all that who’s anyone repeats the insipid phrase, especially journalists. As I have a background in journalism, needless to say but I’ll do it anyway, this vexes me. This topic deserves a post in its own right, but basically when the fourth estate quickly digests politically correct jargon and uses it as the standard for appropriate style in praxis, ruh roh! And as everyone knows, the free press is naughty…

…so too then are we screwed,

Modus Pownens

Thomas Sowell and Charlie Rose on “diversity”


A couple of observations:

1. Charlie Rose—to borrow a phrase from the Brits—is a git. After Dr. Sowell mentions that the term “diversity” is meaningless and enumerates the several countries in which he’s studied “diversity”-boosting affirmative action policies, thus establishing his expertise, Rose interrupts him to explain “diversity” to the esteemed professor as if Sowell is ignorant on the matter. The gumption! The patronizing disrespect! Imagine if William F. Buckley would have done something similar say to Cornel West or Derrick Bell. The race-baiters would have detected all sorts of racist overtones, undertones and “tones” previously never heard of in such overt rudeness.

But both a scholar and a gentleman, Sowell permits Rose space to run roughshod with his mouth a bit, only for the presumptuous journalist to stumble over his Leftist talking points before the good-natured professor incisively cuts him and his buffoonery to pieces.

2. Sowell: “I’m fascinated with the extent of words. We’re conditioned to react like Pavlov’s dogs to words….this is a word [“diversity”] that has become magic.” Exactly. For the Left, “diversity” is intrinsically good and anything that enhances or hinders it is instrumentally good or bad. Yet, “diversity” is never defined and remains nebulous as to what it actually is and why it’s so valuable. It has become a fetish for the Left, and I mean “fetish” in a Marxist sense. It’s a term that has been so reified—an abstraction that is treated as a concrete, real thing—the presence of “diversity” or lack thereof is viewed as an objective feature of the world with objective value when instead it’s merely a projection of the Left’s own ideological preferences.

Furthermore, once objectified, “diversity” strips people of their individuality and composition of self. Race, gender, class, are becoming more important in hiring decisions, college admissions, politics and accolades than the actual content of one’s character and accomplishments. Reduced to these superficial elements, people are estranged from themselves and one another, as these features are more vital in the development, maintenance and operation of a social organization than the overall proficiency and merit of the whole persons who occupy it.

Don’t believe me? Just tour any university and look at the brochure and the ethnic makeup of the students and faculty boasted throughout its pages in its pitch to sell you its institution. Spend any time paying attention to campus administrative politics, and you’ll hear officials bemoan the insufficient amounts of “diversity” in certain departments. You’ll be made aware of bureaucrats who advocate for the increase in the enrollment for students “of color” and the retention of minority professors to boost the school’s competitiveness. “Diversity” has become a commodity and thus dominates us proles, especially in the most progressive and liberated of social entities.

How about that for a Marxist theory of alienation?

Modus Pownens