Playing the Indian Card

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Praise for Playing the Indian Card

Jean Lesperance has kindly left a review of Playing the Indian Card at Smashwords:

"Shocking but extremely worthwhile contribution to a contentious and frustrating topic. For those who have long wondered why Indians in Canada are so messed up, this book presents a believable explanation of how an insidious calamitous system has come to be that is to no one's benefit."

Obviously, you should buy it and read it too!

Many thanks to Jean.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Postmodernism in the New Testament

Despite the name, there is nothing modern about postmodernism. It has probably always been with us. It is represented already in the New Testament. There, it is the philosophy of Pontius Pilate. When he asks “What is truth?” he is presenting the fundamental postmodern claim: that there is no truth. And his subsequent actions are the consequences of this view. 

If there is no truth, how to decide matters? On a personal level, one decides based on one’s own immediate self-interest. Pilate is not about to risk any trouble, then, any threat to his position or to Roman rule, for the sake of some illusory concept of justice. Or for the sake of an innocent man.

And what about for others? One must not, surely, impose one’s own view of truth on others. For others, as a group, truth becomes a matter of social consensus. So the obvious thing to do is to ask the crowd.

Result: Jesus is crucified.

Everyone does not firmly condemn Pilate for this. Many seem to buy his proposition that he has “washed his hands” and bears no guilt. But how can that work? He has made a conscious decision to execute an innocent and holy man. As Edmund Burke said, “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men stand by and do nothing” Or as someone else once said—maybe it was Kitty Genovese—“none so guilty as the innocent bystander.” And Pilate cannot even make that claim. He was the responsible governing authority.

Surely the New Testament deliberately shows this postmodernism as directly opposed to Christ himself. Literally, it was not the Jews who killed Christ, and it was not the Romans. It was not even the anonymous crowd. It was postmodernism. For it was Pilate who passed sentence.

In other words, nothing is more perfectly in opposition to the Christian message, to Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Light, as Logos, than postmodernism. More so than the Devil himself—for even the demons acknowledge Jesus as the True Son of God.

The Western folk tradition, at least, has not been prepared to let Pilate get away with it. According to legend, Pilate died a suicide, and his body was thrown into the Tiber. The Tiber rejected it. So it was taken to France, and thrown in the Rhone. The Rhone refused to accept it. He was finally buried in a mountain above Lake Lucerne. According to legend, his ghost appears every Good Friday, like Lady MacBeth, again to wash his hands in the lake. Yet they are never clean.

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Federation of Commonwealth Realms

Back in the 1970’s, when I moved to the US for grad school, it meant being almost completely cut off from Canadian news—but for my subscription to Maclean’s magazine. Even though I only went as far abroad as Syracuse, in upstate New York. Americans did not know what went on in Canada, and did not care. One librarian asked me if “The Maple Leaf Forever” was still the national anthem. No doubt trying to show her interest and her sophistication.

Eighty miles from the Canadian border.

Things are different now. I could actually keep reasonably current on Canadian affairs, if I had to, by following either Drudge Report or the UK press. They cover it, and, moreover, they even tend to be fairly accurate. No more identifying Ed Broadbent as the leader of the National Democrats.

Back a few decades ago, nobody in either Canada or the US knew or cared much about British politics either. A random British newspaper front page was largely incomprehensible in its arcane references. Now we are all concerned with and following day to day current events like Brexit.

What this all means to me is that the current division of the English-speaking world into independent nations is increasingly artificial.

There was a push back in the 1920s for a “United Empire Federation.” For that matter, that was the initial demand that ended in the American Revolution: representation, not independence. That was eventually ditched in favour of the Statute of Westminster evolving the various dominions into independent countries.

People used to argue that the distances were too great, and local concerns too various. That is plainly no longer the case. We now feel among ourselves, at the popular level, that we are all in this together, that what happens in Australia and New Zealand matters to us. I suppose it really always has; we have fought several big wars together. But with the new media, this is more strongly visible at the street level. Canadian political leaders are now expected, for example, to have a position on Brexit.

And so it seems to me that something like what is now called CANZUK is simply the natural and proper state of affairs. One big free trade and free movement zone, at a minimum. Combined militaries and a joint foreign policy would be even better. Which is to say, a federation.

Economists and others argue that this does not make a lot of sense in trade terms. Nations trade more with those who are closer to them. Free trade with some distant place is of less value. But that can be seen differently—indeed, it was seen differently back in the old days of Empire. The point is that, if distant and geographically and climactically different areas are joined in trade, they tend to have different resources. You don’t so badly need to buy shoes or electronics from a nearby and comparable country like Germany, instead of making them almost as cheaply in England. But if you are in the UK, and need minerals, Europe is not too helpful. Canada and Australia are vastly more so. If you need sugar, France is rather less valuable than Barbados, and if you need lumber, free trade with Canada works better than with the Netherlands.

Moreover, nearby, similar countries are more likely to be actually competing with local industries. Reducing the advantage of trade. Far different countries like Canada and New Zealand are not.

Another charge laid against CANZUK is that it is a “white” federation. So it is a racist idea. What about the rest of the Empire? Why only these white-settler colonies?

One good response from the UK perspective is that the proposed CANZUK would in fact be less “white” in population than the EU. So why did nobody see a problem with the EU?

There are cultural differences in many of these cases, cultural differences you do not have among the CANZUK nations, or the nations of Europe. And, like it or not, cultural differences matter. And have nothing to do with race. But the real reason why the rest of the old Empire does not seem suitable for this federation is that most of the rest are significantly poorer. If you kept the free movement of labour idea, local workforces would be swamped with migration. Economies and budgets would be devastated by the sudden need to extend the social safety net to vast new numbers of poor people. Accusations of “racism” seem only a smoke screen to avoid admitting this.

And as for “non-white” areas, it seems to me that some of the English-speaking West Indies would be a good addition to the Federation. Many of them are still, like CANZUK, Commonwealth Realms, with the same governmental and legal system. Some of them are poor, it is true, but since they are also small in population, they could be absorbed without too much economic dislocation. They really never have been viable as tiny independent states. Being tropical, they offer a range of resources Canada or the UK do not have, if this is not so for Australia. And they have obvious tourism potential, from Canada or the UK, which free movement would boost.

Singapore has apparently felt a bit abandoned since the old Malaysian Federation fell apart; it is intrinsically insecure to be such a small city-state, and being rich could tempt aggressive neighbours. Their healthy GDP makes them look like a good candidate as well, given some modification of their system of government. They are culturally similar to Australia and Canada in being, in essence, a nation of immigrants.

It seems to me better if two more nations not included in CANZUK were added: the US and Ireland. But I can understand the resistance in either case. The US would completely dominate, being three times the size of the rest put together; that might be an unequal yoke. And Ireland for historic reasons is sensitive about her independence. Still, this looks like a perfect solution to the current Irish border issue.

With the UK leaving the EU, now is the time to see if we can do it.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Dem Stakes

Forget it. Nobody votes for a guy with a moustache. Ask Tom Dewey. Wait a minute: are we sure that isn't Tom Dewey in blackface? Isn't that disqualifying these days?

Now that Bernie Sanders is in the race, can Michael Dukakis be far behind? Why haven't we heard yet from Barney Frank?

Current odds:

Kamala Harris: most likely to be nominee. You can see the operatives lining up behind her. But given her inexperience, the fact that she is not yet defined in the public eye, and has not really been vetted, great potential to implode.

Joe Biden: living on name recognition. Would fade once others gained exposure. He might have a shot if Harris implodes.

Tulsi Gabbard: dark horse most likely to catch fire. Wait--did I just mix a metaphor? We have already seen weird stories that she is Putin’s candidate, that she’s “homophobic,” that her campaign team is imploding. Conclusion: someone thinks she is a real threat, and is scared. And such attacks, rather than hurting her, might mark her as the one candidate people can vote for to really get up the party establishment’s nose.

Beto O’Rourke: his fifteen minutes are up. People say, “But he’s such a great fundraiser.” Put another way, he’s bought and pre-owned by special interests. Not hard to turn that against him.

Cory Booker: not a symbolic choice after Barack Obama. Empty feel-good campaign. And not impressive personally. No reason for anyone to vote for him.

Bernie Sanders: people are tired of him. His main strength last time was simply that he was not Hillary Clinton. He still isn’t, but now others can make that claim.

Elizabeth Warren: probably could not carry Massachusetts in her own party’s primary. Hell, probably could not carry even a single Cherokee reservation. Did somebody say reservations? Any additional exposure only hurts her; she sounded best before she opened her mouth.

Michael Bloomberg: might surprise. For one thing, his successor as New York mayor, De Blasio, is making him look awfully good by comparison. He has the funding. With Trump’s nomination secure, a moderate like him might benefit from crossover primary voting.

Gillibrand, Klobuchar: look and feel similar enough that I think they cancel each other’s chances out by splitting the blonde vote. Given that their main pitch is “Vote for me. I have a vagina!” Both of them are pipped there by Harris, who can also boast a more fashionable skin tone. There are also disturbing claims about how Klobuchar treats her staff. Since they seem so similar, Gillibrand will probably get blamed too. I blame her myself.

Julian Castro: someone says he’s one to watch. Okay, I’ll watch. Is he moving?

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Postmodern Iceberg

Given how dangerous postmodernism is, what is to become of us all? How bad is it going to get?

For postmodernism seems essentially the same virus that once infected Nazi Germany.

Luckily, if I’m right, postmodernism is most likely to destroy postmodernism before it becomes strong enough to destroy society as a whole.

For under its current multiculti principles, its proponents are the ones first coming into close contact with incompatible world views.

The left now has Muslims marching alongside Marxist atheists, feminists, transgender activists, black activists, Hispanic immigration activists, and gays. Some of these world views are anathema to one another.

And they certainly are not united in embracing cultural relativism. There is no way Islam works into that equation. The groups being pulled together here are really united only in a shared hatred of one particular world view: “Western civilization,” or more honestly, Judeo-Christian ethics. That is not likely to be sustainable. These groups actually have less in common with one another, in their principles and beliefs, than each does with this “mainstream” culture. Tolerance is a very Christian value.

They are bound to become aware of the incompatibility. There is bound to be culture shock.

This multiculti approach is very different from Fascism. It pitched its appeal to one large group, based on its vaunted supposed homogeneity, and scapegoated a small minority, perhaps 6%. Postmodernism’s current strategy is a good cover for the fact that underlying it is the same philosophy, but given that philosophy, it is less logical, and looks less sustainable. It is pitching its appeal to a variety of smaller groups, each of them stressing homogeneity and purity within themselves, and each incompatible with the others. And it is scapegoating what is still a large minority, “cisgendered heterosexual white males,” perhaps 33% of the population. It is only too likely that their victim will be able to resist. French Canadians, at only 24% of the Canadian population, have been able to do a pretty good job of protecting their interests.

If things have been able to go as far as they have, it is because this large chunk of the electorate have been complacent, busy with their own affairs and not very aware of what is going on. Aided, of course, by a steady diet of postmodernist propaganda in the media and the academy.

But surely we can already see this is changing. Trump is in power in the US. Brexit passed. Macron faces rioting in the streets. Doug Ford just won in Ontario. This kraken is waking up. Not that long ago, you did not hear dissenting voices in the media. Then came Rush Limbaugh. Then came Fox News. Then came social media. Then the Jordan Peterson phenomenon, subverting the academic monolith. Now there are two sides being heard all over the place. There is a growing YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter genre of people declaring themselves “woke,” “red pilled” or “just walking away.” Postmodernism may already have peaked; and the peak of evident craziness it seems to have reached may itself be a sign of desperation. It is in the angry tantrum stage, over not getting its will.

And this is even aside from the extreme potential disunity within their own ranks. Islam is, among all the major world religions, the most absolutist, the most perfectly antithetical to relativism and postmodernism. The prime reason the 9/11 bombers flew airliners into the Twin Towers was to protest Western feminism and gay rights. The postmoderns, in trying to embrace and digest it, were perhaps already showing desperation. A few years ago, the left themselves were foremost in demanding military intervention in Afghanistan and the Middle East to end the hijab, end the supposed subjugation of women, end female genital mutilation. They seem to have swallowed a poison pill; and maybe there is divine justice in that.

And the closer the jihadists get to those holding such relativist ideologies in the flesh, to feminists and gays and atheists and transgenders, the angrier and more violent they are likely to get. Any minute now …

Even apart from Islam, other incompatibilities are becoming obvious. The doctrine of transgenderism is incompatible with feminism. If being male or female is a matter of choice, any question of either oppression or new privileges for women is off the table. Set up an affirmative action program, and men can just declare themselves women and get the same advantage. Bar this, and you are discriminating against them as transgenders. Even demanding they identify themselves as either male or female is now discriminatory, so any affirmative action scheme based on sex is discriminatory in its very premise. If biological men are allowed to compete as women in sports, to cite only one trivial but visible example, Title IX requirements that women’s sports be equally funded become moot, and only an extravagant waste of money. “Genetic” women are not going to win any medals. And women purportedly no longer have a right to the safety of separate bathrooms. Any man can just declare himself a woman, and walk in. It was just this concern that killed the old Equal Rights Amendment, back in the day.

And, of course, if transgenders have this right, what is the justification for denying it to cisgenders? Isn’t that discriminatory in just the same way? In other words, if any man can enter any washroom he likes by declaring himself a transgendered female, it must hold that any man declaring himself a cisgendered male must also have that right. Or else you are discriminating against cisgenders.

Transgenderism is also incompatible with all demands based on racial identity; with either Hispanic, or black, or Native American activism. For if sex is a matter of choice, why not race? Race is a far more dubious and ambiguous classification in biological terms. And what about gay rights: if sex is a matter of choice, why not sexual orientation? The whole basis of gay rights is that nobody can choose to be gay. Lesbians are starting to notice, and openly oppose transgender rights.

Transgenderism seems another poison pill.

And what about immigration activists calling for more and more open immigration? Every new immigrant is potentially a job taken away from a struggling black already here. Or theoretically lowers their wages. Sooner or later, blacks are going to notice.

Nor are recent Hispanic immigrants likely to be big fans of postmodernism and relativism, feminism, gay rights, or Marxism. A lot of them are going to be Catholics. Within their own group, in their own families, they are traditionalist and conservative. Only a shallow cadre of Marxist intellectuals within this group are on board with the postmodernist program: probably a smaller, shallower, less connected cadre than with Anglo whites, now rebelling against the self-appointed experts. As this group becomes better able to connect individually, thanks to social media, the authority of such leaders cannot last.

And the same is true for American Indians/First Nations. The average Indian is pretty conservative in his views. He likes hockey, the military, Christianity, and country and western music. He has almost nothing in common with the handful of people claiming to speak for him. And he may not forever remain idle.

It looks as though the reality began to seep through in the most recent Women’s March. Many state organizations and former leaders, including the founder of the first Women’s March, pulled out, declaring of the current organizers, “they have allowed anti-Semitism, anti-LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform.” This seems largely the clash of the Muslim groups with some of the others. It’s only the tip of the iceberg; but little more sank the Titanic.

It does not seem probable that the postmodern delusion can hold together much longer.

A lot of what is holding it together is peer pressure. It is just as Andersen describes it in “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Most people are moral cowards and will just go along with whatever they hear those around them say. The postmodernists have grabbed and long held control of all the megaphones.

That’s the sort of situation that can collapse very suddenly.

The single worst mistake those who oppose postmodernism could make, however, is to fail to make their own coalitions. It would be fatal to begin to demonize Hispanics, or Muslims, or gays, or Indians.

Not to mention, it would be directly against the principles of Judeo-Christian civilization itself, which is what they presumably seek to defend. It makes no sense to fight postmodernism and relativism by becoming a postmodern relativist.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Postmodernism = Narcissism = Fascism = Vice

Photo by Iain Sheriff-Scott, Queen's Journal.

When Jordan Peterson’s talk at Queen’s University’s Grant Hall was stormed by protesters a year ago, he referred to them as “narcissists.”

At the time, I thought this was wrong—a casual misapplication of a psychological term. Something it is too easy for psychologists to do, and not legitimate in debate. Of course, it was a far worse transgression to storm someone’s speech. It was they who were subverting debate, not Peterson. But still, a distraction.

Now I think he may have been literally correct.

I have been struggling recently here with, on the one hand, what seems a growing awareness, in me and in society, of the problem of narcissism, and on the other, a growing problem with postmodernism, and there has been the nagging awareness at the back of my mind while doing this that they are strikingly similar. After dismissing this for a long time, for the same reasons I dismissed Peterson’s comments, thinking I must be mistakenly over-applying the concept of narcissism, I think I have been forced to the revelation that, yes, in fact, they are the same thing, or at least expressions of the same thing. Postmodernism is narcissism on a social scale, or narcissism expressed as a philosophy.

This tends to go against my recent thought that postmodernism began as a good faith, if mistaken, reaction to culture shock. It looks as though that is, in the end, an alibi, and a convenient circumstance postmodernism has been able to exploit. Indeed, is perhaps creating in order to exploit. Get people culture shocked, and they are more vulnerable to being hoovered into a narcissist or postmodernist cult view. As I noted, it looks more like the disease than a treatment for it.

If this insight is right, by looking at postmodernism, we can now better understand narcissism; because it reveals how narcissists think. And by looking at narcissism, we can better understand the dangers of postmodernism, for it reveals where it is really coming from and where it is going.

Postmodernism shares with narcissism, to begin with, a willfully delusional quality. Robert Fliess described narcissists as “ambulatory psychotics,” because they seem to be out of touch with the real world. Others interpret this instead as habitual lying. Narcissists will say things that are obviously untrue, even to both parties, and say them as though they mean them sincerely. How is this possible?

But we see the same thing in postmodernism. It declares as its supposed core principle that nothing it true. “There is no truth. Truth is just a social construct.” Therefore, whatever they want to believe is true. This justifies any possible lie, or, depending on how you want to look at it, believing any conceivable delusion. Men declaring they are women. Or declaring racism “anti-racism,” declaring fascism “anti-fascism,” declaring favouritism “equality,” and so forth. If you simply say it, that makes it truth.

Postmodernism also shares with narcissism the dangerous and vile practice of scapegoating. The narcissist parent will notoriously unjustly project all evil on to one innocent child. The postmodernism unjustly projects all imaginable evil on “cisgendered white males,” on “Donald Trump,” or on a mostly imaginary racist “alt-right.” What the chosen target actually says or does no longer matters. They become the embodiment of all evil; they are there to be blamed for everything.

If this sounds a lot like Nazism, you have that right. If narcissism = postmodernism, it is also pretty clear that narcissism = postmodernism = fascism. It’s all at heart the same thing.

And postmodernism and postmodern attitudes seem to be ripping through the society and culture just the way Ionesco described Fascism spreading in “Rhinoceros.” People who only yesterday were reasonable and open are suddenly rhinos, true believers.

And, just like the narcissistic parent, the postmodernists also have their “golden children” as well. We saw it in the Covington High School debacle. Native Americans/First Nations are arbitrarily declared to be incapable of doing any wrong, no matter how strong the evidence against them. Same dynamic in the early reports of and public reactions to the Jussie Smollett faked assault, which was equally improbable on its face. It is easy to enumerate other such favoured groups: illegal immigrants must never be criticized. Gays must never be criticized. Women must never be criticized.

Not that this works to the advantage of either the golden child in the family, or the favoured group in postmodernism. It is a power move. It makes and keeps them dependent and helpless. And silence is demanded in return. Woe betide any member of such a group who themselves strays from the “narrative.” Telling word, “narrative.”

Most dangerously, postmodernists are exactly like narcissists in not wanting dialogue or discussion. I Fact, violently reacting against any hint of dialogue or discussion. What could be more characteristic of postmodernism in practice? If they are “delusional,” as Fliess says, this in particular shows these delusions are obviously willful. They certainly do not want to be disabused of them. So all dialogue is ended, force is resorted to instead, and dissenting views are if possible silenced. Hence the storming of Peterson’s talk. It is critically important to them that others shut up. The “hate laws” are of course part of the same paranoid attitude.

Just as is the case in a dysfunctional family, now we are all walking on eggshells, for fear that something we say might set somebody off. For fear of setting off a narcissistic tantrum. We saw that at Queen’s.

Which is, surely, our essential clue as to what is really going on here. What motivates both postmodernism and narcissism, is a guilty conscience.

Anyone who does not want to discuss a matter, or hear a matter discussed, knows they are in the wrong. Truth itself is the enemy.

And anyone who wants to put reality up for grabs knows that the evidence does not favour them.

“Reality” here is really in turn a mask for “morality.” It is right and wrong that both postmodernism and narcissism really most want to put in question. This is the core objective.

Which is to say that they know they are in some vital way in the moral wrong. If they are violent—and they are—it is their own conscience they are really lashing out at. And they scapegoat, obviously, for the same reason. A scapegoat is needed only if you have sinned.

There are several important takeaways from this.

First, narcissism is not a mental illness, but a moral choice. People choose to be postmodernists; accordingly, people choose to be narcissists.

Second, narcissism is not really about self-love. We take this from our reading of the original legend of Narcissus, but this is not even an accurate reading of that legend. Narcissus’s self-love, when he falls in hopeless love with his own reflection, is a punishment for a prior sin, which seems to have been pride. Not quite the same thing.

Third, both narcissism and postmodernism are covers, perhaps spontaneous reactions, for consciousness of sin. Or rather, not sin, but vice. We all sin. Good people then acknowledge fault, at least to themselves and to God, and move on. Narcissism or postmodernism happens when you instead deny you did anything wrong, and determine to keep sinning.

The narcissist or postmodernist has chosen to give free rein to some vice, and wants to continue to do so. Narcissism/postmodernism is their excuse to do so.

Fourth, the growth of postmodernism tells us there is at least one vice, if not several, running rampant in our current culture. The obvious candidate is casual sex, with free and legal abortion at its apex. This is why abortion rights has become the high-voltage third rail nobody is allowed to go near on the postmodern left. Narcissism on the individual level may be prompted by a variety of other vices, but when it happens to some large group of people, a society as a whole, the particular vice becomes easier to isolate.

How will it all end? Can it end without a bloodbath of innocents?

No; we are already in the middle of a bloodbath of innocents.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Postmodern Paradox

Benito Mussolini, 27th prime minister of Italy and, arguably, the founder of postmodernism.

Surely it should be apparent to all that intolerance was been growing exponentially in our society and culture, throughout the developed world. It has now gotten so extreme that public discourse seems almost no longer possible. No compromise over anything; Trump is evil; into the streets with tire irons.

And where is the intolerance coming from? From the very people who claim their core issue is “tolerance.” From the postmodernists. They are the ones shutting all dissenting voices down, or trying to.

And this was perfectly predictable from the beginning.

Postmodernism called itself tolerance of differing views. It might even have believed so. The problem was with being “absolutist,” “judgmental,” or “extremist.” Declare that all truth is relative, and everyone gets to live together in perfect harmony. After all, there is no truth. Truth is merely a social construct.

That’s exactly wrong, and now we are seeing the fruits of the premise. So long as there is a core of shared standards, values, truths, it is possible to politely have disagreements and usually to resolve them. Because we can appeal to these standards. Standards like tolerance itself.

Once you remove those standards, once there is no absolute truth, everything becomes a matter of personal opinion, or, put another way, of personal will. You believe whatever you want to believe.

So what happens when the guy beside you believes something different, and something openly contradictory to your “truth”?

There is no basis on which to discuss matters; no basis on which to compromise; no basis on which to peacefully co-exist. The only course is to either submit to his will, or attempt to impose your own will, your own version of “reality,” on him.

Bring out the tire irons. There is now no other way.

He must use your chosen pronoun. His opinion is not allowed rights. He is not allowed rights. He must accept that you are really a woman, and assent to this publicly. “Racism” becomes whatever you want to call racism. “Anti-racism” becomes whatever you want to call anti-racism. Individual words only mean whatever you want them to mean at the moment. The very idea of discourse is ridiculous, if not threatening. Laws, social norms, morality and reason itself are to be subverted if they do not produce the willed result.

There is only one solution, and it is a simple one: a re-commitment to the Good, the True, the Beautiful. We must at least agree that we seek these things, and that they are the standard measure.

From there, we could move forward together. We would have a foundation on which to build.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Culture Shock

Do not drop from a great height.

I have lamented recently here the dangers of postmodernism.

But there is another pressing problem we are facing, probably more important, and it just recently occurs to me that it is far too little noticed and too little understood.

Culture Shock.

In fact, postmodernism may only be an expression of culture shock.

People who have not had the experience of living in a different culture are often not aware that it even exists. But it is very real, and very powerful. More real than most things most people have ever in their lives experienced.

I have lived as an expat for perhaps more than twenty years, in eight different countries around the globe. I have felt it very personally, and I have seen it in others. It is the routine thing.

We all rely to a great extent, more than we ever realize, in our general perceptions of life, the universe, and everything, on a lot of assumptions that we never examine. We just take them for truth, reality, the way things are supposed to be. We do not even know, usually, that they are no more than assumptions, or at least that they are open to debate. We don’t know why we think these things. It has just always been so.

A tiny example: pedestrians in Korea pass on the left. In North America, on the right. Newcomers to Korea are always shocked at how rude and hostile the Korean are, always deliberately walking in to them on the street.

I have learned to always hang back until I see which direction the other person will go.

And I was berated for this, by another Canadian, recently arrived in Qatar. Don’t I know you’re supposed to pass on the right?

You often cannot win, when two cultures collide.

Others are amazed at how stupid the local Koreans are. You ask them whether ducks can fly, and they all insist they cannot.

There are no wild ducks in Korea.

Do not suppose for a moment that Koreans have fewer unexamined assumptions. I once was asked if I knew any Korean, and I answered with “sarang hayo.” Meaning “I love you.” A girl was in earshot, even though it was not she who had asked, but a man, and I was later berated a typical evil foreigner when it became clear that I was not romantically interested in her. I had apparently been toying with her affections.

Another time I was berated as filthy for taking my unsuitable dress shoes off to dance in a large auditorium. They do not know about sock hops.

And so often, when we encounter another culture, or when we encounter an individual from another culture, we discover with a shock that they do not share our assumptions. And this is profoundly disorienting. Suddenly nothing makes sense. Are they crazy, or am I?

It throws many people, I think most people, soon after moving to a new country, at the point when they realize they are not just tourists, into at least a period of depression. It throws a significant number into straight psychosis. In any posting I have been in, there were stories about this. There were always recent memories of someone who had gone mad at that workplace.

Another very common reaction, perhaps worse, is for people to decide that there are no rules here, since the rules they knew clearly do not apply, and begin to act outrageously. All is permitted! One guy at one school suddenly stripped to his underwear in front of his class. They share the closed-circuit video there as a bit of local folklore. Others, of course, get into drugs, and fistfights, and alcohol, and lots of casual sex.

Many sink into a permanent depression. They stick around expat bars, staying drunk and complaining about how the locals are all stupid, or insane, or evil. Welcome to the enterprise of empire!

Violence is always a possibility. Less so for a lone individual in a new culture; more so for a larger group, or for the majority against a culturally different minority. When your basic assumptions are challenged, a kind of mental auto-immune system kicks in. Your thinking shuts down, you mentally batten the hatches, and all your emotions rush to battle stations. You can feel as though you are personally under siege, because your self-image can be involved. The natural self-protective strategy seems to be to redefine the newcomer or newly met as radically other, with whom you may have nothing in common, and whom, for your own safety—really your sanity, your mental safety, but you may feel this is your physical safety—you must shun or worse. From this immune response you can develop weird suspicions that those blacks are raping all the local women, say, or planning to, or the Jews are poisoning the wells. It’s delusional, classically delusional; but this is where it comes from.

This is an issue that must be considered if we are going to have globalization. As we inevitably must. Even leaving aside the matter of mass immigration.

It is probably just such culture shock that has led over the centuries to pogroms and anti-Semitism and spasms of ethnic cleansing. The problem with the Jews is that they patently do not share certain assumptions that are so fundamental to the Christian majority population of Europe, or the Muslim majority population of the Middle East, that it is shocking if you are not prepared for it. It looks like being in league with the Devil. I recall with remorse my own childhood fistfight with Bobby Steinberg, who had shocked me by saying, generously, that Jesus was as great a prophet as Moses. And so it goes.

I think the First World War as well as the second were probably mostly prompted by culture shock at globalization. Nazism was a nativist reaction, championing traditional German culture against the sinister forces of globalization. We tend not to be aware of it, but some at the time were warning of the same nativist tendency in Germany before the First World War. It was certainly involved in Turkey’s participation in that conflict. More generally, this is what was being expressed by the growing nationalist sentiments across Europe. I suspect the French revolution and the Napoleonic wars probably sprang in large part from the same roots, even though this is rarely supposed. And the Russian Revolution too. Each came just about as that given culture was opening up to the world, and can be explained as a nativist, fear-based reaction to the process.

Bad news: China is now at about that same point.

And this is not the worst that culture shock can do. When he wrote The Descent of Man, Darwin remarked on the strange fact that, when a much less developed culture came in contact with the more developed European culture, the native population tended to collapse. He could only speculate as to why.

Now, of course, we are much wiser. We know that it was because of the spread of new European diseases.

Or was it? More recent research has shown that tuberculosis, the second greatest killer of the Native American population, was present in the Americas all along. Even more recent research has concluded that the first definite outbreak of smallpox in Europe happened well after Columbus. Europeans should have been just as vulnerable as native Americans; but it was the latter who died in droves—supposedly a fatality rate of 90%.

Darwin noted that, in fact, the rate of reproduction always plummeted after first contact. And he had figures.

That is not physical disease. That is depression. That is culture shock. Because the cultures were so dissimilar, it was usually fatal. And many native people have not recovered and adjusted even today, centuries later.

The current problem with Islamic terrorism looks like exactly the same thing. The Iranian revolution was the same thing. It is a fear response to globalization as a perceived threat to fundamental local assumptions about right and wrong, what is real and what is not.

Note that, contrary to the media narrative, those who join ISIS or blow up churches are not Muslim “extremists.” They are always Westernized, secularized Muslims. It is not Islam that has made them crazy, hate-filled, and violent, but culture shock, from the conflicting demands of two cultures.

In fact, again contrary to common prejudice, it is exactly those who are best-grounded in their own religious traditions who suffer the least from such culture shock and such violent reactions. Missionaries, for example, travel and integrate exceptionally well. It is the secular sorts who go mad. This is because it is the religious who have consciously examined, and are aware of, their own assumptions. They know what they believe, and why they believe it.

At the same time, you see culture shock emerging in the majority cultures of America, France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Spain, all over Europe, now, as a result of globalization and, more specifically, mass immigration.

It is wrong to demonize these people. This is not to say, either, that current fears of new immigrants in very large numbers are unjustified. One dangerous mistake we seem to make is to think that only white people ever experience culture shock. That the only problem is to get the local whites to accept the newcomers. Or that culture shock is just a case of stupid prejudice, easily fixed by a few facile slogans about respect and inclusivity. It is a real mental health issue, and not an easy one to deal with. Many of the new immigrants are indeed going to go crazy and become violent. Just as Europeans or Canadians do when thrown into their culture. Yet we make no allowance for that whatsoever.

This is not a great threat to the existing population if numbers are small. But if the incoming groups are large enough, they may feel more able to act out their culture shock against the locals.

Here’s a match. Here’s some nice kindling. Hmm—I wonder what’s going to happen if I put them together?

I have read somewhere that the rate of mental illness is much higher in immigrant families than in the general population. There it is again: culture shock. What Mom and Dad say at home simply does not mesh with what you hear at school, from the media, from your friends.

A Somali living next to us in Windsor one summer snapped and spent each evening going up and down the block breaking everybody’s windows. Culture shock.

We are generally not aware of, and do not think of, culture shock, because most of us do not realize that much of what we think is only arbitrary assumptions we have not ourselves examined. And so we are not aware of the danger. And this lack of awareness increases the danger, both for society as a whole and for ourselves.

Postmodernism and multiculturalism may be good-faith attempts to allow for the friendly mixing of people from disparate cultures. But they are painfully naïve. If all cultures are equal, on what basis can we share any values at all? On what basis can we even have any values? That is not a solution to the problem: that simply describes the disease. Now your life has no meaning, no direction, you have nothing in common with your countrymen, and there is no right or wrong constraining your or their actions. Why not just rape and kill?

All. Hell. Breaks. Loose.

What we urgently need instead is genuine study by all of us, or at least by those with any important social responsibilities, of all cultures. If we are going to have a lot of new Asian neighbours or business partners, we had better all be basically cognizant of what Confucius taught. We had better know the shariah law, the Laws of Manu, the Dhammapada. Instead, those who advocate multiculturalism or postmodernism themselves never seem to go back before Mao, or Marx. They have no interest in either Western or any other cultures. Their agenda is to ignore or even reject culture generally. That is the madness, not the cure.

We need to be working not toward multiculturalism, but to an emerging integrated world culture. Not postmodernism, meaning no culture, and not a retreat to “Western culture.” And it is a matter of life and death to do so before more go mad and die.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Postmodern Contribution to Contemporary Life

While I think abortion is ground zero for our dissolving social consensus, I think postmodernism was a critical point on the path that brought us to this general collapse. It is why nobody will discuss or debate anything any longer, but instead will unfriend, ban, censor, blacklist, boycott, divest, shout down, bully, throw punches, and so forth.

Postmodernism holds that there is no truth. “Our truth” is whatever we choose to believe. Truth is willed.

This becomes an immediate and critical problem the moment we encounter someone else whose “truth” contradicts our own. Since reality is an act of will, there is no way to resolve this difference other than imposing one’s own will, using whatever force is at hand to make then recant, or die. This becomes a total war of all against all.

Immoral? If there is no truth, there is no true moral good either, is there? “Good” too is whatever I will it to be. Meaning good is getting whatever I want, as expeditiously as possible. This is really the core belief of postmodernism. Postmodernism arose as a way to justify the obvious moral wrong of abortion.

There could be no more objectively evil or socially destructive doctrine than this.

Sodom and Gomorrah disappeared in sheets of flame for less than this. Beyond a certain point, there is no way a society can recover from this sort of thing.

Perhaps this is what Glenn Beck or Leonard Cohen have been sensing.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Abortion Thought Experiment

I have seen this thought experiment online as an argument for legal abortion:

You are in a burning building. You break open the door of a room. In one corner there is a baby crying. In the other there is a box labelled “one thousand viable frozen embryos.” You only have time to save one; or, even if there might be time to come back, you cannot carry both. Which do you grab?

The intuitively correct answer is that you grab the baby.

And this supposedly proves that nobody really thinks of embryos as human lives. They are not babies.

Here’s why the thought experiment is invalid.

I refer to a similar thought experiment in a classical Confucian text.

An emperor sees an ox being led to the slaughter in preparation for his royal banquet. Moved by compassion, he demands that the ox be released and not slaughtered.

Yet he proceeds to his banquet. Beef is served.

He is praised for his compassion, for his legitimate moral sentiments, which are indeed praiseworthy. But was the life of the pardoned ox really in any way more valuable than the life of the other ox which must have been slaughtered?

The seen ox is valued more than the unseen ox because seeing it evokes our natural compassion.

The same principle holds with the visible child as opposed to the embryos in the box. I expect the same choice would be intuitively made if, instead of embryos in boxes, it was a thousand children in Africa, who could be saved by watching the child within your vision die in agony. Most of us would choose the child we can see.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Narcissism and Mass Murder

I am more than a little ashamed to say that I have been reading Elliot Rodger’s “manifesto,” or autobiography, online. It looks like rubbernecking at an accident scene, and perhaps it is. Rodger is the California mass killer who introduced us to the concept of the “incel”—the involuntarily celibate young male. In theory, I was reading to see if he showed any signs of conscience or of conflict. According to Catholic doctrine, we all have a conscience; we know innately right from wrong. We are all responsible for our acts. Anyone like Rodger who deliberately does great wrong must have made a conscious moral choice against conscience. This contradicts modern psychology, which insists instead that at least some of us—“psychopaths”—simply have no conscience. Who is right?

Others have accordingly sought to explain Rodger’s actions without reference to conscience. A selection of justifications found online: he was mentally ill, and that made him do it. It was a result of how our society objectifies women. It was the fault of his parents for not keeping closer tabs on him and getting him help. If only others had been kinder to him, he would not have done it.

Let’s look at each.

1. He was mentally ill.

Rodger had apparently been seeing psychiatrists since he was eight or nine, and had even been prescribed “anti-psychotics,” but he had been given no formal diagnosis. This is striking. He presumably did not fit clearly into any recognized category of mental illness.

Being prescribed “anti-psychotics” does not tell us much. What we call anti-psychotics are really just major tranquilizers. Someone comes in and indicates that they are deeply upset by their own thoughts, it is the obvious prescription. Calm them down. There is no reason to believe he was ever psychotic.

After the fact, he is being diagnosed with “Asperger’s syndrome,” which basically just means being socially maladroit. He was certainly socially maladroit. But there is no known association of Asperger’s with violent tendencies.

Reading his autobiography, he is obviously and extravagantly narcissistic. He loved himself, and hated everybody else. But I can see why this diagnosis was not given. Narcissists usually do well socially. They are highly manipulative, and so generally get what they want. Rodger was incapable of manipulating people. This may indeed explain why he, unlike other narcissists, became violent.

I’d suggest a diagnosis of narcissism plus Asperger’s.

But the question then is whether narcissism is genuinely a mental illness, or simply choosing to be selfish. If you call it a mental illness, you have, in effect, removed morality as a consideration in all human affairs; for being selfish is simply the traditional definition of being morally bad. It is the violation of the Golden Rule: you are not loving your neighbor, not doing unto others as you would have them do.

Conclusion: if Asperger’s is a real mental illness, then mental illness was a contributing factor. But even then, it did not make him do it. People with Asperger’s are no more violent than anyone else.

2. It is because society objectifies women.

This the inevitable feminist response.

Rodger certainly objectified women. He only wanted sex from them, but hated them. At the end of his autobiography he suggests they should all be put in concentration camps and starved to death. But he also objectified men. He saw everyone as an object, which either was or was not of some use to him. Most of his actual victims in the shooting were men. They were no doubt of less use to him.

He certainly did have an obsession with sex, but sex objectifies both men and women. It is a matter of using another’s body for physical gratification, thus treating another as an object. And the obsession with sex is endemic to our culture. But this is no more a case of men objectifying women than of women objectifying men.

So is the social preoccupation with sex the problem?

I think so. Society as a whole is guilty here of creating a climate in which we objectify one another. Rodger’s conscience was poorly formed on this point. He considered himself entitled to sex once he had reached adolescence, and assumed everyone else was doing it. Had the message of society been, as it used to be, that sex before marriage and purely for recreation was improper, this might not have been so. The commodification of sex surely encourages narcissism in general.

However, it also looks as though, had this been the case, he would soon have found some other ground for grievance, given his sense of absolute entitlement. He literally considered himself unjustly treated when he did not win the lottery. Had it not been sex, it would have been poor grades, or not getting promoted.

3. It was the fault of his parents. They should have been keeping closer tabs on him.

This from a panel of psychiatrists.

Not reasonable. They already had him in psychiatric treatment. He had counsellors all along. His mother could not have been any more present in his life unless he had been still living with her. She was available immediately on call, and, by his own account, immediately gave him anything he wanted. His father and grandparents were all taking him places and giving him things. His mother also became suspicious and notified the police of her concerns weeks before the shooting. It is hard to imagine what more she or his family could have done.

They might instead be faulted for being too indulgent. He got every desire met as soon as he expressed it. Surely this promoted his sense of absolute entitlement. Now he desired sex; it was not being provided. This was immediately seen by him as an injustice.

Does this absolve him of blame? I don’t think so. It is a temptation; it would not compel the assumption of entitlement. Others, with the same kind of upbringing, can develop a sense of guilt over it, and feel an obligation to “pay something back.” Moral choice seems to be involved.

His parents’ omnipresence and concern may also have played a part in Rodger’s “Asperger’s.” They arranged his social life for him in detail, from his infancy, finding friends and arranging “play dates.” Friends were just another commodity he had supplied to him on demand. As a result, he never learned to form friendships, or of the need to do so. And after a certain age, it no longer worked this way.

4. People should have been kinder

This is Rodger’s own claim, and others have taken it up. Notably, other copycat killers.

But there is no sign in his autobiography that others were actually unkind to him. The reverse: he was consistently unkind to others. If he considered them inferior, he would scorn them. If he considered them superior, he would hate them, and actually assault them. It did not matter if they had gone out of their way to be friendly or kind.

There are two references to women supposedly rejecting him in some way when he was young. What male has not experienced female rejection? But it looks as though from this early point, or even before it, he generally hated and avoided women. He just wanted sex without any of the human complications.

Rodger was both visibly rich and good looking. He regularly scored tickets to world premieres, thanks to family connections. He surely could have managed some sort of female companionship if the women involved had had anything to say about it.

He reports that his longtime best—and practically only—friend ultimately rejects him. But one can understand why. He had been regaling the friend with his plans to enslave and kill all of mankind. He would have had to be depraved and profoundly misanthropic himself to stick around. Not to mention the worry that Rodger might turn on him at any moment.

It seems there is no way anyone being kinder or friendlier could have improved Rodger’s attitude or life. It would probably only have made matters worse: giving his ego more oxygen.

But did Rodger himself show any awareness that he was the bad guy?

On the surface, no. He does condemn sex as immoral—but clearly and consciously, only because he cannot get it. He writes “Delicious food was the only vice I was able to enjoy, since I was deprived of sex.” Vices are simply things you are supposed to indulge and enjoy. He shows no shame over lying; repeatedly calling himself “wise” for doing it. He shows no remorse over mass murder either, and no concern over what might happen to him after he dies.

He ends his essay insisting that he is the real victim here. He is only responding to aggression with “retribution.”

However, if he really believed that, it seems that he would not need to assert it. He would not need to write this autobiography. That he does implies that he believes in right and wrong, and believes that what he is doing is, on the face of it, wrong. Methinks he doth protest too much.

In justifying himself, he speaks often of “fairness,” and of the world being “unfair.” Which again implies a fundamental commitment to and understanding of the basis of morality.

Yet his idea of fairness is obviously unfair: it requires him being vastly richer and more powerful than anyone else. This is obviously self-contradictory, and it is hard to believe that he could not see the contradiction himself. He assumes the right to kill anyone as punishment for having a better and more enjoyable life than he does. But as Kant would point out, what is the result if this is accepted as a moral principle? Everyone kills everyone else until there is only one human left standing. That person is unlikely to be Rodger.

The only way Rodger can make this workable rationally is to declare himself of greater merit than others. He is a “magnificent gentleman.” And so he deserves more than anyone else. They should all give it to him.

Unfortunately, Rodger is perfectly lucid and aware that he has done nothing to demonstrate that this is so, that he has earned more than others. He has no talents, he admits.

So how can he possibly make this work? By declaring himself a god. Which is exactly what he does.

If this is not conscious sin, what is? This is the essence of sin. It is the same sin, exactly, as committed by Lucifer, and the same sin, exactly, as committed by Adam and Eve.

And note the title he gives to his autobiography: “My Twisted World.” By declaring himself a god, he has implicitly taken responsibility for it. He believes, in principle, that he can alter reality by his wishes, by wanting something badly enough. This is just about the same as Faust’s pact with the devil. And he himself sees the result as “twisted.”

“He said it was a truth I had to accept, advising me to move out of there. I couldn’t accept this truth, because it was unjust. I couldn’t let such evil exist, and I will not run away from it by moving out of there. I will either thrive there, or destroy the place utterly. Since I failed to thrive there, I had no choice but to plan my Retribution.”

Note the contradiction here: he has the right to either accept or reject “truth.” Yet in the same paragraph, he has no choice in his own actions. He simply believes for the moment whatever seems to absolve him of guilt for what he wants or wants to do.

And his final act was, to him, a question of destroying the world to punish it for not conforming to his wishes.

So if he thought the world was evil, people were all beneath him, all just objects, and he was a god, why bother to write the autobiography? Why and to whom is he speaking?

And why, throughout, while he is condemning everyone else, is he also obsessed with what they think of him? “I always cared about what others thought about me, even my nerdy housemates.” He spends extravagantly on the best clothes. While he is recovering from a broken leg, he will not go outside, for fear of anyone seeing him in a cast.

Because he knows he is talking B.S., including to himself. Otherwise it would not matter. He knows he is in the wrong. He needs affirmation from others, or at least to imagine affirmation from others, to drown out the voice of conscience.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Gladys Knight and the Pipsqueaks

Don Lemon on CNN warned Gladys Knight that, by singing the national anthem at the Superbowl, she may have risked her career.

We are now at the point where it is politically and personally dangerous to sing the American national anthem at an American sporting event.

But then again, we have been here for a while. How much less insane is it to declare “racist” a hat that says “Make America Great Again”? Calling that racist would imply, after all, that America itself is a racist entity. How insane is it to declare flying the flag of England in England, the Cross of St. George, “racist”? Yet now we are hearing this. Both England and America are now being declared intrinsically racist, with the implication that they must cease to be. Or, for that matter, how mad is it to object to flying the Red Ensign, or honouring Sir John A. Macdonald, in Canada? Yet these are suddenly common sentiments.

A house so divided against itself cannot long stand.

The question now must be: will Canada, the US, and Britain collapse, or will the left?

I may be guilty of being too optimistic about human nature. Hitler, after all, was democratically elected. But I would not put my money on the left.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Yearbooks of the Damned

Virginia governor Ralph Northam is expected to resign tomorrow. Everyone is calling for it—left and right.

This is one more indication of how insane public discourse has become in the US. And in Canada.

The demand comes because a photo was found in Northam’s medical school yearbook, showing him either in blackface or wearing the costume of the KKK. The photo shows two students—nobody is clear on which one is Northam, including Northam, but it is on his personal page.

Northam himself, of course, loses a great deal from this. The sudden end of a very promising political career. His political opponents do not gain: he will only be replaced by another Democrat of similar views. The democratic process loses, in significant ways. Northam was elected; this resignation would subvert that, and overrule the democratic process. The people of Virginia will be left with a governor they had no say in choosing. And the vulnerability to petty scandals in your past is sure to discourage others from seeking public office.

And over what? Over a bad choice of dress for a costume party? At the very worst, who was hurt?

Suppose that Northam was the guy dressed in the KKK hood. Does dressing up like that for a costume party imply endorsement? Since when? Does dressing up like a witch, a vampire, or Frankenstein’s monster for Hallowe’en imply support for witches, vampires, and monsters?

Or let’s say it does. Then how can anyone be upset if Northam turns out to have been the student in blackface? That implies endorsement. Then that must necessarily have been expressing his support of blacks. Supporting blacks is intolerable racism?

It makes no sense.

Let’s even suppose, although entirely unwarranted, that it was Northam in the white hood, and this actually was meant to show his own support for the KKK. Even then, so what? That was in, what, 1983, when he was 25 years old. What sense does it make to hold anyone accountable now for their opinions 35 years ago? What politician can you name who has been in public life that long and still supports the same positions? Don’t people’s ideas change? Since when do we no longer believe in redemption? Where would Moses or St. Paul or St. Augustine be by such standards?

This really all has to stop. I think this is a good point at which to take that stand, because politically, Northam’s ideas are antithetical to mine. He believes in legal infanticide, for heaven’s sake. So I want to plant the flag here.