Friday, December 14, 2018

paganism and morality

I’ve talked before about the importance of religion to a successful society and to speculation as to whether Christianity should be abandoned as a lost cause and some kind of alternative sought. I’ve also talked about the extreme difficulties such an option would face and the dubious chances of success.

There are those on the dissident right who see a revival of paganism as a viable alternative. For a whole series of reasons I think the idea is a complete non-starter. The one thing in its favour is that paganism lacks the universalism of Christianity. That universalism was at one time an asset but it’s now a serious weakness. Paganism is parochial rather than universalistic so it’s certainly has some appeal to those who want to promote nationalism.

To me it seems that the big problem with paganism is morality. Paganism is essentially ritual-based religion. What matters is that the rituals should be performed correctly. Whether an individual is virtuous or not, whether a society is virtuous is not, is pretty much unimportant. If the rituals are carried out in the correct manner then one’s obligation to the gods has been fulfilled.

That’s not to say that the pagans of the ancient world were oblivious to the importance of morality, but morality was more of a social obligation than a religious obligation. In that sense the pagan approach was very similar to our modern approach and to the modern secular religion of liberalism.

That’s a less than ideal basis for morality. There’s a definite danger that moral behaviour  will end up being whatever you manage to convince yourself it is or even worse, whatever you think you can get away with.

In pagan religions even the gods seem to approach the matter in this manner.

Paganism probably worked quite well for societies at a low level of civilisational advancement in which most people lived in small close-knit communities and social pressures were strong enough to maintain the social order. Once pagan societies started to reach a high civilisational level decadence seemed to set in disturbingly quickly and disturbingly completely. The Romans achieved levels of decadence that even we were unable to aspire to until the 20th century.

Which raises an interesting question. Is full-blown decadence something to which only pagan or completely secular societies are prone to? And it raises a related question - is decadence inevitable in a pagan or completely secular society?

Friday, December 7, 2018

more on transhumanism

Some more thoughts on transhumanism.

I’ve already expressed my view that an increase in the number of high IQ people would be a disadvantage to society. The manipulation of human genetics could pose other dangers also.

Intelligence appears to be a quality that is controlled not by a handful of genes but by huge numbers. If you want to create transhumans with incredibly high intelligence you’re going to have to manipulate thousands of genes.

The problem with this is that if you manipulate thousands of genes then how can you be sure that intelligence is the only thing you’re going to be changing? Human behaviour is incredibly complex. If you fiddle around with genes that alter the workings of the mind then you might end up with some unanticipated and very unpleasant behavioural changes.

You might end up with people with very high IQs and major psychological and behavioural problems. A high IQ person with severe psychological issues might be more of a liability than an asset to society. We have no way of knowing exactly what form such psychological disturbances might take.

It’s unfortunate that many people seem to be inclined to ignore such risks. These risks are entirely unpredictable and unquantifiable. Rather than being a magical shortcut to power and prosperity it might be more like playing Russian roulette.

Monday, December 3, 2018

socialist realism reconsidered

Alexander Deineka, The Expanse, 1944
Socialist realism was the officially approved painting style in the Soviet Union from around the time that Stalin came to power. It was very much a reaction what was seen (quite correctly) as the decadent and degenerate modernist art of the West.

It was a direct challenge to the orthodoxy of the western art establishment. Socialist realism was optimistic and wholesome when everybody in the western art establishment knew that art was supposed to be pessimistic and was supposed to celebrate ugliness, squalor and depravity. So socialist realism was the subject of anger and ridicule among western art critics.

When we think of socialist realism we think of the propaganda paintings and posters. We think of heroic portraits of Stalin, inspiring scenes in tractor factories, brave Red Army soldiers fighting evil fascists. There was this side of it, no question of it. But there was a bit more to it than that. Socialist realism was also intended to be art for ordinary people. Art that ordinary people would understand, and like.

The very idea of art that ordinary people would understand and enjoy was of course anathema to western artistic elites. And here we get down to the nitty-gritty. Socialist realism was consciously anti-elite art.

Yuri Pimenov (1903–1977),  Wedding in Tomorrow Street, 1962
Western elites consider that art belongs to them. The notion that the average person has the right to hold an opinion on the subject of art is deeply offensive to western elites.

Being art for ordinary people socialist realism can tend towards sentimentality. But then if you look at the tastes of ordinary people everywhere you’ll find that they do tend towards sentimentality.

Socialist realism upsets western intellectual and artistic elites for other reasons. It challenges assumptions about the purpose of art. For more than a hundred years it has been an article of faith that art is and must be political. That of course means that art must reflect the political views of the elites.

In the west the intellectual/artistic elites identify as left-wing (and back in the 1930s and 40s they really were left-wing). You might think they would therefore admire the art of a country that actually had a socialist government that promoted an avowedly left-wing style of art (socialist realism) but in fact they hated socialist realism because it was the wrong kind of left-wing art.

Western art critics and theorists wanted revolutionary art that would undermine the culture and destroy society. The Soviet Union on the other hand had already had its revolution. What the Soviets wanted was art that would promote stability and social cohesion. In fact what the Soviets wanted looked to left-wing western arty types like reactionary art, or even (horror of horrors) fascist art. So, amusingly, the western left violently disliked the art of the communist world that they so admired in every other way.


Nikolay Bondarenko (1914-2000), Sport bold and beautiful, 1963
This all raises interesting questions about the purpose of art. Should art be political? Is political art automatically good art (as the western art establishment believes) or is political art automatically bad art (as many traditionalists believe)? Should art make people angry, disturbed and miserable (as the western art establishment believes), or should art make people joyful and optimistic (a belief shared by traditionalists and the Soviets)? Should art celebrate ugliness and degeneracy (as the western art establishment believes) or should it celebrate beauty and health (a belief also shared by traditionalists and the Soviets)?

Of course one could ask whether art even has a purpose. In the late 19th century art started to become a substitute for religion. I’m not sure that this was a good idea. There had always been religious art but that was art that served religion rather than seeking to supplant it.

In any case I don’t think Soviet art was all that bad. In fact there’s quite a lot of socialist realist art that I rather like. I wouldn’t describe it as one of my favourite art movements but it was certainly preferable to most western modernist and postmodernist art.

Although I know a bit about 19th century Russian art I must confess to my complete ignorance of the artists of the Soviet period. The paintings included in this post just happened to be paintings I found on the web that appeal to me. I have no idea if all these artists identified as socialist realists, or whether they were generally regarded as belonging to that school.

Friday, November 30, 2018

IQ fetishism and transhumanism

There’s much concern at the moment that some Chinese scientist may have already created the first genetically modified human babies.

Much of the hand-wringing concerns the possibility that China will use this technology to breed lots of high-IQ babies, this giving China an immense economic advantage over all its competitors.

This seems to me to be a bit unlikely. The Chinese already have tens of millions of very high IQ people. Why would they need, or want, more?

This comes back to the IQ fetishism that I find to be so amusing. The idea that the more high IQ people a nation has the more powerful that nation will become. This really is nonsense. You actually need only a very very small number of high IQ people. If you have more high IQ people than you need you will have major social problems. You will end up with lots of very smart people chasing a fairly small number of suitable jobs. The ones who miss out will become angry and disillusioned. They are likely to gravitate toward political extremism. You will have more SJW/globalist political activists expressing their frustrations at their own uselessness by lashing out at society.

This is what has already happened in the West as we have expanded university education far beyond our actual needs. We have already created a massive entirely unnecessary pool of university-educated intellectuals who serve no useful purpose whatsoever.

It’s not really all that likely that any of the major developed nations is suffering from a shortage of high IQ people.

If a nation did want to gain a significant advantage by manipulating the genetic attributes of its population IQ might not be the attribute to choose. A smarter population is likely to cause more headaches. But how about a more docile population? A population not just indoctrinated into docility, by genetically engineered into passive obedience. Ot perhaps it might be useful to have some segments of the population more docile, and others more aggressive? Changes in behavioural traits that could be hardwired into the population’s generic code might be attractive not just to nations like China but also to the large corporations that control the West, and to the western elites that serve those corporations.

So personally I’d be more worried about behavioural modifications than the creation of super-high IQ nations.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

western civilisation and the irrational

Astrology is apparently enjoying a bit of a revival. Which is depressing but not overly surprising.

It’s easy to assume that this kind of irrationality has its roots in the counter-culture of the late 60s and 70s when astrology and other kinds of occult and paranormal silliness were enormously popular. But if you go back to the years between the two world wars you’ll find that spiritualism was a very big thing and it was the heyday of scientific (or pseudoscientific) ghost-hunting and scientific investigations of extra-sensory perception.

If you go back a little further, to the late 19th century, it was a boom time for the occult and for ritual magick and it was also the period that marked the beginnings of neo-paganism and modern witchcraft.

Even in the seemingly very rational 18th century there was a huge vogue for things like Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism.

And the 16th and 17th centuries were rife with all manner of occult beliefs such as alchemy and hermeticism.

In fact from the time of the Reformation onwards irrationality has been central to European civilisation.

Of course I’m inclined to see the Reformation as western civilisation’s first big mistake but it is difficult to deny that the fragmentation of western Christianity opened the door to a good deal of craziness. Not just crazy heresies but crazy stuff that went way beyond mere heresy. Organised religion became more irrational (witch-hunting only became an obsession after the Reformation) and seriously weird ideas that were totally outside the orbit of religion began to gain in popularity, particular among the intellectual elites.

It is perhaps a sobering thought that irrationality may be the western mainstream, while rationality is just a fringe thing.

Of course in the 20th century atheists started to convince themselves that they represented Reason while religion represented Superstition but I have to say that in my own personal experience atheists have never seemed to be significantly more rational than Christians. If anything atheists seem slightly more gullible.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

what the military is really for

It’s obvious that something strange is happening to the militaries of western nations. Combat efficiency is no longer considered to  be important. What matters is political correctness. What matters is diversity, and having equal representation for women, homosexuals and transgenders.

This seems odd at first. Surely it’s obvious that an army of women and homosexuals is not going to be the slightest bit of use against a real enemy? And in order to get women into combat units it’s going to be necessary to lower standards of physical fitness to such extreme degrees that even the men are going to be increasingly recruited from the less fit. So eventually your entire army is going to be of very poor quality.

It seems odd until you ask yourself the question - what is the military actually for? The West has no actual enemies in the sense of hostile nation states with formidable conventional military forces. The enemies that the media tries to get us worried about our illusory enemies. The Russians just want to be left alone. They have their own problems to deal with. The Chinese have no interest in anything outside their own backyard and their backyard is a long long way from any western nation. There are no other countries possessing military establishments that could possibly be a threat to the West.

The military and political establishments in the West are well aware of this. But there is one enemy that they are genuinely worried about. And that’s the enemy within. They are worried about the prospect of large-scale civil unrest as citizens increasingly lose enthusiasm for the globalist and social justice agendas. They are worried that civil unrest could escalate to riots, or even worse. The enemy they fear is their own people. They fear a repetition of 1968 in France, they fear the troubles that brought down the French Fourth Republic, they fear a repeat of the anti-Vietnam War protests, they fear a revival of anti-globalisation violence. They fear that their own people will, when pushed too far, turn against them.

That means they need a military that they can rely on absolutely. A military that is fiercely loyal to the regime. That means a military filled with women, minorities, homosexuals, trannies etc. It doesn’t matter if it’s a military of unfit overweight misfits, as long as those misfits can be relied upon to shoot down their own people if the government tells them to do so. An army of white heterosexual men might not obey such orders. The political and military establishment are confident that the new diverse army will obey such orders. An army of misfits will be loyal because they have no choice. They are entirely dependent on the government. They will pull the trigger on their own people.

There is another fear. What if civil unrest breaks out and elements within the military decide to throw in their lot with the dissidents and stage a coup? That’s a real possibility if you have a military with pride and esprit de corps, a military composed of men who believe in duty and sacrifice. The answer to that is to ensure that the entire officer corps is composed of reliable people. Female officers and homosexual officers - these people are of little use in the military but they’re even less useful in the real world. Their careers are all they have. They will be loyal.

The modern army does not have to be tough enough to take on professional battle-hardened troops. It just needs to be politically reliable to shoot Deplorables should that become necessary.

Friday, November 23, 2018

pop culture time capsules, The F.B.I. (1965)

I have a great fondness for the pop culture of the past. This includes vintage television which is in fact one of the great loves.

Once you become red-pilled though you find that vintage pop culture can be a little disturbing. For one thing, you can’t avoid noticing the propaganda. And the liberal propaganda was always there in television, going right back to the 50s.

At times watching old TV shows can also be an oddly melancholic experience. That’s what I’m finding at the moment with The F.B.I., or more specifically with the first season of that series. The F.B.I. was an immensely popular series which aired from 1965 to 1974. It’s the fact that the first season originated in 1965 that gives it a real poignancy. 1965 was a very very pivotal year. Everything was about to change. Pop culture can offer us a fascinating window into the past and can sometimes be more illuminating than official history.

The 1965 season of The F.B.I. shows us an America that is peaceful, prosperous, united and confident. What’s interesting is that this is a crime series, so it actually has an agenda to show us the darker side of society. Which it does. It makes no attempt to deny that problems exist. However the overwhelming feeling that the show conveys is that these problems are entirely manageable. They are challenges that can be, and will be, met and overcome.

There’s the challenge of organised crime but the Bureau is already giving that top priority. There’s communist subversion but in this series the communists are mostly paid agents of foreign governments and mostly they’re involved in sabotage. In those happy days of 1965 no-one had considered the possibility that society might be much more effectively undermined by subversives taking control of the education system and the media. Erskine, the older of the two F.B.I. agents featured in the series, actually wants his daughter to stay in college rather than get married. It’s difficult to think of a more wrong-headed notion but in 1965 college still seemed like a good idea.

Drugs are mentioned but are seen as purely a law enforcement problem and as another challenge that can be met. Vietnam gets mentioned in passing but there’s no sense that it’s going to prove to be an historical watershed. The horrors of feminism and militant LGBT activism weren’t even on the horizon. Pornography was seen as a threat but a threat that could be largely eliminated by vigorous law enforcement. The idea that within a few years a policy of complete surrender on this subject would be adopted and the country flooded with pornography would have been considered crazy talk in 1965.

There’s one episode in which a cab driver decides to become an F.B.I. informant. I don’t mean that he’s a reluctant witness who is persuaded to come forward. He volunteers to be an active informant, seeking out information to pass on to the Bureau. And he does this because he thinks it’s his duty as a citizen. Even two or three years later I don’t think such a decision could have been presented in such an unironic way. In fact that’s one of the notable things about the 1965 season of The F.B.I. - it is totally lacking in irony. Which I think is wonderful.

America in 1965 is not exactly portrayed as being complacent, merely very confident. Democracy seemed to be working. The political and economic system as a whole seemed to be delivering the goods. Technological progress appeared to be limitless and entirely a good thing.

By 1974, when this series ended its run, the society depicted in the first season had pretty much ceased to exist. And it was a disaster that, apparently, was entirely unexpected.

The series is politically incorrect, and often delightfully so, but in those innocent times no-one knew that political correctness was going to become a thing. The F.B.I. is extremely good but watching it  really is desperately sad at times.