Friday, February 15, 2019

feminism - root cause or consequence?

Feminism is without a doubt the worst plague ever to afflict the human race but was feminism a root cause of the evils that followed or merely a consequence of other social changes?

By the time second wave feminism made its appearance in the 1960s a number of crucial social changes had already occurred. The first and the most disastrous (possibly the single most disastrous event in human history) was the introduction of the contraceptive pill in 1961. That irrevocably turned sex into a recreational activity rather than a part of the sacrament of marriage. It made sex all about short-term pleasure. From that point on traditional marriage was doomed.

While in theory divorce was still difficult in many places it was clear that there was a trend towards making it easier in practice. And from about the 1920s onwards divorce had gradually become more socially acceptable. Divorce means marriage being transformed from a sacred unbreakable bond into a short-term arrangement to be terminated when it becomes inconvenient.

Women moved into the workforce in increasing numbers in the first half of the 20th century. That was not necessarily a problem. Women had always worked. But work was something women did until they got married. By the 50s it was becoming more socially acceptable for married women to work. This was a very unfortunate trend.

Even more disastrous was the expansion of higher education for women after the Second World War. In fact the expansion of higher education in general was a calamity. A university education is something that only a small proportion of the population (maybe 5%) will benefit from. For most people it is actually a bad thing. For all but a very tiny handful of women it is a disaster.

And of course the 20th century saw a continuation of the decline of Christianity. Without religion there is no basis for morality. Without morality there is only power (for the elites) and pleasure (for the masses).

These changes did not come about as a result of second wave feminism. These changes preceded second wave feminism, and in fact were largely responsible for making that horror possible. By the time the feminists got going western society had already started to lose its way.

There was also the Sexual Revolution, which was mostly a result of the contraceptive pill. The Sexual Revolution was of course very bad for women. Sexual liberation does not work fir women. They’re not wired that way. It simply makes women self-hating and miserable and chronically emotionally dissatisfied.

Men made the mistake of thinking the Sexual Revolution was going to be great for them. It would mean lots more sex. In fact it meant lots more sex for a very small number of men.

This is a large part of the explanation for the failure of men to stop feminism in its tracks at a time when that was still possible. Men were inclined to think that feminism was like the Sexual Revolution - they would end up getting more sex. Mostly they didn’t get the extra sex and what they did get was an ongoing nightmare. By the time the realities became apparent it was too late.

Feminism was largely a symptom of a society entering the terminal stages of decadence. It appeared at the same time as other symptoms like the drug culture and the worship of homosexuality. Maybe feminism could have been stopped but it would have required a willingness to confront other much more basic societal failings.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Space - the Final Frontier?

One of the many major changes to the western world over the past century has been the disappearance of the frontier.

In the early 20th century, in fact to some extent even up to the 1950s, westerners who wanted to opt out could find a frontier territory in which to do so. There were the remoter outposts of the British Empire (and of the other European empires). For Americans there was South America. For those who found their lives unsupportable there was always that escape hatch - they could start a new life in the Colonies or in South America where they were unlikely to be bothered too much by questions about their past and unlikely to have too much trouble with intrusive bureaucracies or police forces.

Britons would commonly choose somewhere like Kenya or Malaya. There was plenty of money to be made if you had drive and if you didn’t have drive there were fellow countrymen to sponge off, who were reasonably indulgent of expatriates (even if they mildly disapproved of expatriates who “went native”).

All that is largely gone. Escaping from the modern surveillance state is next to impossible. Any bolt-holes that are left are pretty uninviting and bureaucrats and police are likely to will hunt you down anyway.

One response to this is the emergence of the idea of space as the final frontier, the one sure refuge for someone who wants or needs to opt out completely. It became a major theme of science fiction in the 20th century and it also took on a definite political complexion. It became a popular right-wing fantasy, and it became a very popular libertarian fantasy. The fact that colonies in space would in reality face immense practical difficulties tended to get glossed over (and libertarians never do worry too much about irritating details like reality).

It’s a fantasy that also has a following among the nerdier elements of the alt-right.

Personally I find it very amusing that so many people have convinced themselves that colonies in space or on other planets would be havens of liberty, veritable libertarian paradises with no government at all. It amuses me because I’ve always assumed that a space colony founded on libertarian principles wouldn’t last a week. Space, or colonies on Mars, are not the sorts of environment that are likely to be very forgiving of rigged individuals with a contempt for regulations. They’d be the sorts of environments where one mistake would mean death, and quite possibly death for every member of the colony. Such a colony is more likely to succeed if it’s composed of rigid conformists with no imagination, no more than moderate intelligence, a respect for hierarchies and a passion for following rules and regulations to the letter. Military-style discipline is more likely than glorious liberty.

Such colonies would also have a very much better chance of survival if they adopted a very traditionalist approach to morality and to sex roles. You would only need one member of a colony to start sleeping around to very soon find yourself sitting on top of a ticking time-bomb. It’s also very obvious that no colony can survive without children and therefore the women would need to focus more on child-rearing than personal fulfilment and careers.

A space colony might well end up being more of a traditionalist paradise than a libertarian one.

Not that it matters, given that the practical difficulties (not to mention the political obstacles) are so overwhelming that colonies in space will probably remain science fiction for a long long time.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Isaac Asimov’s The Caves of Steel

Isaac Asimov’s classic 1954 novel The Caves of Steel might not sound very relevant to this blog but bear with me.

The Caves of Steel is usually considered to be important and interesting for two reasons. Firstly, it’s a crucial book in Asimov’s famous robot cycle. Secondly, it’s a genre hybrid - it’s both a science fiction novel and a traditional fair-play puzzle-plot murder mystery. And it’s a rare example of a novel that is a success in both genres.

There is a third reason why this book should be celebrated. It’s an extremely interesting dystopian novel with very strong political overtones. I personally don’t agree with Asimov’s politics but he was an intelligent liberal (yes such creatures once walked the Earth) and his work has been immensely influential.

The future Earth of the novel is massively overpopulated. Almost everyone lives in enormous cities. It’s a world that makes the world of Orwell’s 1984 seem benign and even idyllic. Food is in short supply (the rationing is nightmarish in its pettiness) but living space is in even shorter supply. There is zero privacy. Zero. Even high status individuals do not have bathrooms. A washbasin is considered to be an almost unimaginable luxury. Absolute social conformity is enforced. This is the soft totalitarianism of Brave New World but combined with the squalor and misery of 1984. There is an all-pervading atmosphere of resignation and pessimism.

It’s fascinating to see overpopulation hysteria in such a fully developed form as early as 1954.

Of course being a science fiction writer of the golden age Asimov saw the answer to the problem as lying in the colonisation of space. This is something that has always seemed rather fanciful to me.

Leaving aside the overpopulation hysteria it’s a fine example of what I would consider to be a plausible dystopia, enforced by propaganda rather than overt repression. And it’s an interesting look at the psychological consequences of soft totalitarianism - the way people end up not even contemplating rebellion because they can’t even imagine doing such a thing (or even thinking such thoughts).

It’s also actually a very entertaining book and while there’s plenty to disagree with it is an interesting example of intelligent dystopian science fiction. And the murder mystery part is fun.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

are healthy people interested in politics?

Are normal healthy well-adjusted people interested in politics? Is politics something that only interests people who have a personal axe to grind? Is political enthusiasm a sign of mental illness, or a sign of personal unhappiness? If it’s a sign of personal unhappiness or dissatisfaction is this a healthy thing? Is it a form of therapy?

And how do you explain a historical period like our own, in which every single aspect of life has become politicised and politics has become an obsession? Is this a sign of an illness in society? Or a sign of a deeply unhappy society?

These thoughts occurred to me after reading a recent post on the poet Shelley on Oz Conservative.

Shelley saw himself as a political and social revolutionary. What’s interesting is that Shelley was a rich and very privileged young man, a member of the aristocracy, good-looking and talented. It’s hard to imagine how fate could have dealt any young man a better hand than it dealt Shelley. And what was Shelley’s response? He wanted to smash his own society.

Shelley also managed to leave a trail of chaos and misery behind him. His behaviour towards women was nothing short of appalling. He was selfish, irresponsible, impetuous and shallow. He also had very definite delusions of grandeur.

It has to be said that Shelley is an all too typical example of the political progressive. His personality was clearly warped, although whether this was genetic or whether it was warped by his childhood or his schooling is difficult to say. He grew to adulthood (or in his case it mighty be more accurate to say that he failed to grow to adulthood) at a troubled time, when revolution was fashionable and the ruling class was rapidly abandoning Christianity. Perhaps Shelley was simply a very weak personality easily swayed by social fads.

It’s also interesting that Shelley, like so many subsequent social revolutionaries, was a vegan. So he was an all-round crank.

Orwell noted many years ago that socialism attracted cranks. He was disgusted and dismayed by the phenomenon.

Is it only left-wing politics that attracts misfits and cranks? A few years ago I’d have inclined to give an affirmative answer to the question. Now I’m not so sure. There are a few strange types in the alt-right and similar sub-groups who seem to be at least partly motivated by personal bitterness.

While it might be slightly disturbing at times to note the number of politically engaged people who are either slightly odd or deeply unhappy it is possible that this is not entirely a negative thing. If you’re unhappy with your life you can feel sorry for yourself or crawl inside a bottle, or you can try to change the world. Of course your ideas on how the world ought to be changed might be sound or they might be crazy, but at least you’re using your unhappiness as a motivation to do something.

Of course if you’re not a believer in democracy you might argue that all politics is unhealthy and that in a sane society we would leave government in the hands of the king.

It can also be argued that if society is truly diseased then being disgusted and enraged and wanting to change things is actually a sign of mental health, while the people who think that everything is fine are actually the crazy ones.

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Phoney Victory: The World War 2 Illusion

Peter Hitchens has been threatening for some time to write a book on the Second World War. The Phoney Victory: The World War 2 Illusion is as provocative and unsettling as you would expect.

I’ve read a great deal on this subject so much of what he has to say comes as no great revelation to me but Hitchens does make a couple of important points that I hadn’t come across before.

The first is that World War One not only left Britain broke, she has never actually paid for that war. Britain ran up enormous debts to the United States which have never been paid. In fact no payments at all have been made since 1934.

The second point is his claim that far from being a doddering old fool who cravenly tried to avoid war Chamberlain was actually a doddering an old fool who actually sought war and was determined to get it. Hitchen’s contention is that the infamous and disastrous Polish Guarantee of 1939 (a guarantee that Britain shamefully never intended actually to honour) was a cynical and dishonest ploy to bring about war.

The details of the Poles’ own cynicism and folly are certainly not new to me but Hitchens’ demolition of the myth of Plucky Little Poland will doubtless come as a shock to many readers.

The third crucial point is that the Second World War was actually two separate wars. The first war began when the British and the French declared war on Germany in September 1939 and ended less than a year later with the total defeat of Britain and France. They were not merely defeated. They were destroyed forever as Great Powers. Henceforth both countries were minor powers of no consequence.

The second war was fought and won by the Soviet Union with some assistance from the United States. Britain played no significant rôle.

The intention of the book was to demolish the many myths that make up the average Briton’s understanding of the Second World War. As Hitchens explains it has long been common knowledge among historians that most of the official story of the war was a collection of myths but these myths are remarkably persistent.

One of the myths at which the author takes aim is the one that surrounds U.S. policy before and during the war. He makes the point that there was nothing particularly immoral about U.S. policy. It put America’s interests first. Britain’s interests were not considered at all. Of course no government has any obligation to consider the interests of foreign states. The problem was that people in Britain, including many who should have known better, convinced themselves that the Americans really did see them as cousins. In fact the U.S. regarded Britain as a troublesome rival that ideally should be stripped of its power and its empire. But the propaganda of the time stressed the fantasy that Britain and America were two branches of the same family and that propaganda is still believed today.

Hitchens doesn’t claim to have undertaken any original research. As he explains, everything in the book has been well known to professional historians for decades. Well known to professional historians but unknown to the general public. The war’s dirty little secrets have been hidden in plain sight. More seriously, the myths surrounding the Second World War are still being used by politicians and the media to manipulate the public into acquiescing in dangerous and futile foreign policy adventures.

The most upsetting parts of the book for many people will be the chapters dealing with the Battle of Britain and the strategic bombing of Germany. Of all WW2 myths none is more sacred than the Battle of Britain myth but Hitchens points out that it really was largely a myth. Hitler never had the slightest intention of attempting an invasion of Britain.

On the bombing offensive Hitchens pulls no punches. It was barbarism, pure and simple. And it was not even effective barbarism.

You won’t be surprised to learn that Winston Churchill emerges as a man not only entirely lacking in honour and decency but equally lacking in good sense.

Perhaps just upsetting will be the account of the ethnic cleansing of millions of Germans from eastern Europe in 1945, which cost the lives of between half a million and one-and-a-half million people, the vast majority of them women and children. It was a tragedy but it was no accident. It was a deliberately planned and entirely unnecessary act of savagery.

The most important point which is made again and again is that you cannot use one evil to excuse another. You cannot even use a great evil to excuse a slightly lesser evil. Evil is evil. The fact that Britain’s leaders were willing to commit acts of unequivocal evil is in Hitchen’s view part of the reason for Britain’s postwar moral decline (and the evils committed by the other victorious allies have also doubtless contributed to their moral decline as well). It is not just the acceptance of evil that has been the problem, but the stubborn refusal to acknowledge the lies and the deceptions.

What makes it all worse is that the final victory was, for Britain, no victory at all. Poland was not saved. The British Empire was lost. Britain was reduced to the status of a third-rate power and an American vassal. The country was bankrupted. The world was not made safe for democracy. Postwar Britain looked more like a defeated nation than a victor.

The book will doubtless will be greeted with howls of outrage. It is important to note that Hitchens deserves no pleasure from demolishing these myths. It is an unpleasant but necessary task since these very same myths continue to be the basis for British foreign policy.

A book that I recommend very highly indeed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Culture War 2.0 and demographics

The Culture War has been lost. There’s no question about that. One thing however needs to be borne in mind - winning or losing a war is not always the end of the story. Quite often a war simply sets the stage for a second war. This is true of purely military or political conflicts and it may well be true of culture wars as well. Culture War 1.0 is over and perhaps Culture War 2.0 is yet to be fought.

One thing that stands out about Culture War 1.0 is how easy the victory was. Social and cultural attitudes changed dramatically in a very short space of time. In 1960 marriage was the cornerstone of western society. Most people got married and most people had children and almost everybody agreed that this was the formula for happiness. Within twenty-five years the institution of marriage had crumbled. Marriage was no longer regarded as something permanent and sacred. It was now an option, and was widely regarded as being not exactly a permanent or even a very significant arrangement. What mattered was love and everybody knew that love meant sex. The secret of happiness was lots of sex. Children were seen as an encumbrance. Fertility rates plummeted. Women who considered having children to be the most important thing in life were thought of as being a bit odd and vaguely disapproved of. To feminists women who wanted children were traitors.

Twenty years ago homosexual marriage was a bizarre and laughable fringe idea. Now it’s the very bedrock of our civilisation and anybody who disapproves of it is regarded as being  an evil nazi.

What happened? The answer is very simple. People conformed. In the West we had long since abandoned the ideas that religion mattered and that there were eternal moral values. What mattered was being popular. You didn’t need to worry if your opinions were correct, you simply made sure that your opinions conformed to what was popular. Or at least to what you were told was popular.

The key point here is that if social and cultural attitudes can be changed almost overnight in one direction then logically and obviously they can be just as easily and just as quickly changed in the opposite direction. Most people will conform to what they see as the dominant ideology. The dissenting minority is then forced to conform. If the dominant ideology changes then, like magic, social and cultural attitudes change.

The objection to this is that the dominant ideology of the present day is so dominant that it is unlikely to change. To believe that is to ignore the lessons of history. The most important lesson of history is that the future is always unpredictable. If you had a time machine and you transported someone from the year 1914 to the year 1939 they would find themselves in a world that would have been entirely unimaginable in 1914. Entire empires had vanished. Entirely new countries had appeared. Strange and incomprehensible political doctrines were now considered to be perfectly normal.

This was largely a result of the First World War but wars are not the only ways in which everything can be changed in ways that could not have been predicted. Demographic change is another. Whether demographic change is a good thing or a bad thing is not relevant here (I think it’s a bad thing) but it’s likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Thirty years from now the United States will be a different society. It will be a very hispanic society. There is no way of predicting exactly how that will play out but it will cause major political changes and could lead to significant social and cultural changes. Will the social attitudes of an hispanic United States be the same as the social attitudes of the U.S. today? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on the extent to which those numbers can be turned into cultural power. It also depends on the extent to which the hispanic segment of society conforms to the ruling ideology of liberal atheism. Could hispanic immigration fuel a religious revival? Even a Catholic revival? Who knows.

Then there’s western Europe. Islam is going to be a much bigger presence thirty years from now. Again the question is the extent to which this will translate into political and cultural power. There’s also likely to be a race between, on the one hand, a growing secularisation and on the other hand the likely emergence of powerful strains of political Islamism. Will a Britain with a much larger Muslim population continue to conform to its current ideology of rainbow unicorn feelgood soft totalitarianism? Again the answer is maybe, or maybe not.

In my next post I’m intending to address the question of soft cultural power in more detail.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

antiracism at home, racism abroad

A subject I’ve touched on before is the extraordinary hypocrisy of the modern West. In our domestic policy we have elevated antiracism to the status of a state religion. But when it comes to our relations with foreign countries, countries which are sovereign states, our policy seems to be one of hysterical xenophobia and even out-and-out racism.

We go into paroxysms of guilt at the thought that a non-white person’s feelings might be hurt in our own countries but we think nothing of bombing non-white countries that have the temerity to want to run their own countries their own way. And we never stop lecturing foreigners on how they ought to treat their own citizens, even as the West becomes more and more a cultural and moral sewer.

Peter Hitchens offers an interesting recent example.

https://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2019/01/peter-hitchens-think-flogging-drug-dealers-is-barbaric-we-could-soon-be-doing-much-worse-here-1.html

A British citizen has been arrested in Singapore for drug trafficking. He visited Singapore and knowingly and deliberately broke the laws of that country. As a result he is likely to be punished by flogging. That’s the penalty under Singapore’s laws. The fact that Singapore has tough laws and actually enforces them is well known, and should certainly have been known to a young man who was expensively educated at a fancy school in Britain. Now the British government is protesting. How dare Singapore presume to have its own laws and presume to expect people visiting Singapore to obey those laws! How dare Singapore presume to have different laws from Britain!

Whether one thinks that flogging drug dealers is a good idea or a bad idea is immaterial. This is Singapore and the fellow was given a fair trial and convicted in a Singaporean court. Whether the British government approves or disapproves of Singapore’s laws is irrelevant. Britain should mind its own business. But it won’t.

Similar things have happened in Australia. The Australian government has in the past protested when Australian citizens have been tried and convicted in Indonesian courts and then sentenced under Indonesian law, for offences committed on Indonesian soil.

There is a breathtaking degree of arrogance involved. There is an assumption that only western values and western laws and western ways of doing things are valid. The West assumes it has the right to impose its values on the non-western world.

No wonder non-western countries despise the West.

If we want to argue that we in the West should be allowed to retain our own nations and our own cultures then we do need to take a long hard look at our behaviour towards other people’s cultures. If we believe that we deserve to be permitted to cherish our cultural values then we need to accept other people’s rights to cherish their cultures, even if we don’t happen to like some aspects of those cultures. It isn’t our business. The days when western nations would routinely send a gunboat to bully non-westerners into doing what they’re told should be behind us.

As Steve Sailer never tires of pointing out, we need to stop Inviting the World but that can’t happen until we stop Invading the World. And we need to stop imposing our cultural values on the world.