Thursday, January 28, 2016

antidepressants, suicide and social experiments

There have been suspicions for years that antidepressants (specifically the SSRIs) are dangerous and ineffective. Now it’s been confirmed by a major study - antidepressants can raise the risk of suicide, biggest ever review finds.

This is something that Peter Hitchens has been warning us about for years although no-one wants to listen - Time for Some Serious Thought about 'Antidepressants'.

In fact the increased risk of suicide is just one of the serious side-effects of these drugs. They also deaden the emotions, to a sometimes frightening degree. From personal experience and my own observations it’s also clear that these medications can not only produce anger, they produce a certain kind of anger. It’s a cold emotionless anger, a kind of simmering hate.

The effects on individuals are bad enough. What is often overlooked is that they have effects on society as well. They contribute a good deal to the atomisation of our society. They not only increase the risk of individual suicide, they increase the risk of societal suicide.

As well as all this these horrific drugs may well have been partly responsible for the rise of the particularly virulent kinds of radical feminism and Social Justice activism that have plagued the west over the past couple of decades. Or at least they may have made these phenomena more virulent and hate-filled than would otherwise have been the case. Medicating a huge proportion of the population with drugs whose actions are not clearly understood, for conditions that are often even more poorly understood (if indeed they exist), has been a gigantic social experiment. And a very perilous one.

And these ill-understood drugs are being prescribed for children. Of course it’s not just SSRIs. We are pumping children full of Ritalin, in most cases because the children are simply behaving like children. Add to that the fact that our governments have, in practice if not in theory, given up enforcing laws against marijuana and what you end up with is a society drugged to the eyeballs.

Of course Huxley predicted all this, way back in 1932, in Brave New World. Unfortunately the elites who run our world have adopted Huxley’s book as an instruction manual.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Russian Revolution 1899-1919

Richard Pipes’ The Russian Revolution 1899-1919, published in 1990, is an incredibly detailed but highly readable account of one of the most significant events in modern history.

Pipes makes it clear that the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 was not in any sense a revolution. The February 1917 revolution which led to the abdication of the tsar could to some limited extent be described as a revolution although it was driven almost entirely by the intelligentsia and enjoyed limited public support in the cities and even more limited support in the countryside. The Bolshevik Revolution enjoyed miniscule support in the cities and absolutely zero support in the countryside. It was a coup d'├ętat, not a revolution.

What the Bolshevik seizure of power does demonstrate is the ability of a tiny but ruthless and well-organised clique to take advantage of circumstances to take control of a country even when that clique is generally despised and detested. What matters is that the said clique should be focused on its objective and have no moral scruples whatsoever, and that it is led by someone of unwavering determination.

Socialism of course has always been an ideology that appeals to intellectuals rather than actual workers or actual poor people. Never was this more true than in Russia. The peasants wanted land reform but other than that they took no interest in politics and were overwhelming loyal to the Tsar. 

The Bolsheviks did not start out as starry-eyed idealists who later became corrupted by power. They were vicious murderous thugs right from the beginning and they never had the slightest interest in anything but power. There were starry-eyed idealists among the other leftist groups but there were none among the Bolsheviks. The events of October 1917 demonstrated that starry-eyed idealists have little chance of success when they come up against disciplined cynical manipulators who understand the mechanisms of power.

Lenin was not a mass murderer on the scale of Stalin but it was not for the want of trying. Lenin put in place the mechanisms of terror which Stalin put to very effective use. Had Lenin lived a few years longer he would certainly have been responsible for at least as many murders as Stalin. 

Lenin invented totalitarianism. He was a man without any normal human emotions. He was also a committed theorist. If facts contradicted his theories he just assumed the facts were wrong. Much of the misery inflicted on the world by leftist totalitarians seems to come down to this basic weakness - an unwillingness to admit that theories which sounded attractive simply didn’t work in the real world. Lenin had zero understanding of human nature. He cared about humanity en masse in a vague sort of abstract way but he despised people as individuals, to a degree that was clearly pathological.

Perhaps the most depressing thing is that the leftist enemies of the Bolsheviks had opportunities to destroy them but failed to do so because they also were entirely divorced from reality. The Socialist-Revolutionaries actually mounted a successful revolution against the Bolsheviks but failed to take power when it was there for the taking. 

Pipes’ book is heavy on detail but always remains clear and readable. A fascinating glimpse into the workings of evil. Highly recommended.

interesting stuff in the blogosphere

Interesting stuff I've come across in the blogosphere recently:

Steve Sailer has a fascinating essay on modern Polish politics (eastern Europe being possibly the most interesting part of the world at the moment) - How Polish Politics Prefigure the GOP Civil War.

Ilana Mercer on why affirmative action Oscars are a great idea if they help to destroy Hollywood - Encourage Affirmative Oscars, So Hollywood Can Go Belly-Up.

Oz Conservative on the myth of white privilege - Privileged but dying of despair?

Vanishing American II on the derangement of feminists - Trading Racists For...

Friday, January 15, 2016

explaining the intelligentsia

I'm still reading Richard Pipes' huge book on the Russian Revolution (The Russian Revolution 1899-1919). He talks a good deal about the beliefs and motivations of the radical intelligentsia at the dawn of the 20th century, not just in Russia but in Europe as a whole.

The most noteworthy thing about left-wing intellectuals is of course the amazing extent to which they are out of touch with reality and out of touch with ordinary people in the real world. Pipes offers a salutary reminder that this is not a recent phenomenon - intellectuals have always been entirely disconnected from reality and from real people.

“For intellectuals of this kind, the criterion of truth was not life: they created their own reality, or rather, sur-reality, subject to verification only with reference to opinions of which they approved. Contradictory evidence was ignored: anyone inclined to heed such evidence was ruthlessly cast out.”

Marx of course was a case in point. Marx’s claim to have created a scientific explanation of the evolution of human society was pure fantasy.

Socialism, of both the revolutionary and non-revolutionary varieties, in Russia was entirely dominated by intellectuals. These intellectuals regarded actual workers and peasants with a mixture of mystification, scorn and loathing. If you’re going to achieve democratic socialism the last thing you want is actual workers and peasants having a say in the process. They might not vote the right way. And if you hope to bring about the dictatorship of the proletariat it is essential at all costs to prevent the proletariat from becoming involved.

Lenin was a fine example of the type. His theorising ignored reality altogether. He was prepared to check his theories against the works of other theorists such as Marx but the idea of checking his theories against real-world facts never occurred to him.

In Pipes’ view the Russian Revolution was entirely driven by a very small number of radical intellectuals. The vast majority of the Russian population had no interest in a revolution. It was the intellectuals who wanted revolution. 

“But many of those who want to change the world regard human discontent as something not to be remedied but exploited. Exploitation of resentment, not its satisfaction, has been at the centre of socialist politics since the 1840s.”

Pipes also has this rather good quote on what makes left-wing intellectuals tick:

“...Ludwig von Mises thought that intellectuals gravitate to anti-capitalist philosophies ‘in order to render inaudible the inner voice that tells them that their failure is entirely their own fault.’ ”

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

whatever happened to Christian warriors?

A subject that has attracted my interest for a while now is the cause (or causes) of the failings of modern Christianity. Tonight a couple of recent comments on other people’s blogs have brought the subject back into my mind.

In a comment to a post on his blog Bruce Charlton says that “what was good about Franco's regime were factors absent from today's scene - Christian piety, and the military virtues such as courage and discipline.” And another comment on another blog (which I can’t find at the moment) made the claim that Christianity was a positive force when it was allied to an aristocratic warrior ethos. I tend to agree quite strongly with both these comments.

We tend to forget that after the fall of the Roman Empire in the West European civilisation was slowly and painfully rebuilt by the very barbarians who destroyed the power of Rome. They were still barbarians, but now they were Christian barbarians. Without Christianity they would have remained barbarians - they would have remained a destructive and negative force. Christianity was a much-needed civilising and softening force. To a certain extent Christianity feminised the barbarians - but only to a very limited and healthy degree.

But without the warrior ethos of the barbarians Christian civilisation could not have survived. It would have been too soft, too feminised, and would have been easy prey to other invaders. The Gothic invaders who had destroyed Rome added a necessary masculine element - they still retained the warrior virtues and they were prepared to fight to maintain their emerging civilisation.

In medieval times it was believed there were three main classes of people - those who worked (the peasants), those who prayed (the clergy) and those who fought (the nobles). It was clearly understood that all three classes were equally necessary.

The warrior ethos survived until the mid-20th century. It has now been swept away on a tide of guilt, self-righteousness, apathy, materialism, hedonism and selfishness. Europeans (and I include Americans, Canadians and Australians as well) no longer believe in fighting to preserve their civilisation. They’re not necessarily opposed to war - they’re often in favour of it if they don’t have to do the fighting (and ideally they’d like someone else to pay for it as well). They’re not opposed to sacrifice, as long as someone else makes the sacrifices. They’re not opposed to making an effort as long as someone else makes the effort. But the idea of risking their own precious skins to preserve their own civilisation horrifies them. Many are so self-hating that they don’t want their civilisation defended even if somebody else offers to do it. In fact many are openly overjoyed at the prospect of seeing their civilisation disappear down the gurgler.

A hundred years ago European men took it for granted that belonging to a civilisation entailed responsibility, and the ultimate responsibility was to risk their lives to defend that civilisation. All that has gone.

Without a warrior ethos Christianity has become unbalanced. It has descended into mealy-mouthed platitudes about human rights and tolerance. It has become excessively feminised. It has become Kumbaya Christianity. And Kumbaya Christianity is not going to save us.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

moderate liberals and the new Cultural Revolution

I've been reading Richard Pipes' book on the Russian Revolution. He makes some interesting observations on 19th century liberalism. The most important point is that there was no essential difference between the aims of the liberals and the extreme left revolutionaries. Both wanted to reshape human nature entirely. Both were products of the Enlightenment. Both are ardent materialists. They differed only as to the means to be employed to bring about Utopia and to create the perfect Socialist Man (or the perfect Liberal Man).

The starting point of both ideologies can be found in Locke and in the utilitarianism of British philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832).

And an equally important point is that if forced to choose, liberals will support the far left extremists.

Pipes says that:
“...even under this reform-minded theory [of liberalism] lay the tacit premise that man could and ought to be remade. This premise links liberalism and radicalism and helps explain why, for all their rejection of the violent methods employed by revolutionaries, when forced to choose between them and their conservative opponents, liberals can be counted on  to throw their lot in with the revolutionaries.”
This has remained substantially true right up to the present day. Both liberals and the far left believe that people can be moulded to conform to their ideals. If people don’t want liberalism they will be made to want it. 

What this means in practice is that there is no such thing as a moderate liberal. All liberals believe that there is no limit to the extent to which human nature can be altered, and they intend to keep altering human nature until absolute conformity has been achieved. Eventually everyone will be a liberal. All it takes is sufficient indoctrination. The desired end point is totalitarianism. Liberals believe this will be a warm and soft and cuddly totalitarianism. Mao’s Cultural Revolution had the same aims. Modern western liberals think they can achieve the same results more efficiently and that the people will welcome this transformation. If they don’t welcome it that’s too bad - they’re going to get it whether they want it or not.

It is important to realise that these beliefs are not limited to leftists. They are shared to an overwhelming degree by all mainstream “conservative” parties in the West. These beliefs are also almost universally embraced by Big Business. This Cultural Revolution will bring about a world that will be extremely congenial to Big Business. It may well be a disaster for small business but to the leaders of Big Business that is a feature not a bug. A world of compliant conformist consumers is a world that appears to them to be very attractive indeed.

Not only will political dissent be eliminated. Religion will also be eliminated. Families will be ad hoc groupings of consumers. These changes are also seen as major pluses. To Big Business religion and the family are irritating disruptions to the growth of consumerism. To liberals religion and the family provide a dangerous potential focus of opposition to their program.

Our most dangerous enemies are the "moderates" - they are not moderate at all. They are extremists who intend to achieve their extremist ambitions in a slightly more gradual way.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

saying no to the modern world

I seem to have succeeded admirably in my objective of isolating myself from the poison of modern popular culture. 

In 2015 I find I have read 68 novels. The earliest was written in 1835; the latest dates from 1990. Not one work of fiction from the past quarter-century.

I have watched 126 movies, dating from 1926 to 1980. Not one movie from the 90s or subsequent decades.

I have watched 383 episodes of television series, dating from 1954 to 1976. Nothing from the past forty-odd years. Not one contemporary television program.

I have also not listened to any contemporary music.

This did not start out as a deliberate choice. About ten years ago I noticed that my interest in modern popular culture was rapidly diminishing. Up until two or three years ago I still made sporadic efforts to appreciate the latest manifestations of popular culture. The results were dismal. Eventually I just stopped trying. I have no regrets.

In fact it is not at all difficult to insulate oneself from modern pop culture. If I want to read fiction I have centuries’ worth of books to choose from. Older books are not hard to find, even if many are out of print. One of the few completely positive things about the internet is that it makes it comparatively easy (and usually fairly inexpensive) to track down out of print books.

If I want to watch a movie there are literally thousands of older movies readily available on DVD or Blu-Ray. Some have gone out of print but they’re usually not too difficult find. Streaming is not really an option for me. It’s problematic at best if you happen to live in Australia and in any case it doesn’t appeal to me. DVDs can be expensive but if you shop about online they can often be pleasingly cheap. They’re certainly cheaper, generally speaking, than going to a cinema (which is something I haven’t done this century). And some at least can be rented. Older TV shows are likewise readily available on DVD and finding them presents few difficulties.

As I’ve confined myself more and more to the books, movies and television of the past I’ve found that my enjoyment has increased considerably. It is definitely not a hardship.

I’m not even sure that contemporary popular culture actually exists. It seems to me to be a kind of fake popular culture mostly produced and disseminated by the elites.

I don’t suggest that everyone should make the choice I’ve made, but it might be worth considering that it is at least an option and it makes life rather more pleasant. I don’t have to worry about the new Star Wars movie. I know they’ve made a new one but I’m not sure what it’s called. All I need to know is that I don’t need to concern myself with it. It makes life simpler.