A Taste of Salt and Blood

Recently, people who lie for a living were shocked, shocked to find that the CIA has been engaging in a bit of torture in order to procure information from captured terrorists.

Life imitates art. DC has looked quite a bit like Rick’s Cafe the past week.

All of a sudden, the schemers and the sociopaths have been forced to feign horror as they engage in their moral posturing over who is most aghast at the revelations that some very bad things were done in the name of national security. How could we have known that this would come to pass? Who ever could have predicted that people do not act like perfect angels when they are under the impression that everything they love is threatened by evil people who cannot be reasoned with nor stopped by any other means except force?

Since, of course, no one saw this coming and everybody was absolutely shocked by this horrifying and disturbing revelation that no one at all, not even some kind of super-genius, could have predicted, the 525 pages that were released of the roughly 6,000-page report have caused quite a stir.

All this furor for less than 9% of the full report. It does make one wonder what sort of juicy details are in the other 5,475 pages…

There is likely nothing further of interest. Still, a man can wonder, and lying by omission is one of the oldest tricks in the book…

People say this could never have happened in the United States that they know and love. I guess they must be talking about a different place than the United States I know. The United States of America that I know is a quasi-police-state in the midst of a self-destructive cultural revolution fueled by propagandist info-tainment and increasing hostilities among its disparate factions. It is a fracturing cyberpunk dystopia that shows as much concern for its own citizens as it does for the enemies it fights abroad, both the real and the created.

Well, at it’s worst, at least. At it’s best, it is still a land of magnificent privilege and opportunity in which a well-off person can enjoy a standard of living beyond the wildest fantasies of most people in the world. It is a land in which an intelligent young person can apply their talents in such a way as to rake in an inordinate bounty of material resources. The education system may have shifted away from its stated goal of providing an unmatched education in favor of theocratic indoctrination of a most secular kind, but the opportunity to derive a world-class education (especially if one is able to read into what is useful and what is not) is still very much alive, though it does take a significant degree of auto-didactism to be of any real value. In short, this is still a country full of opportunities for a young man of intelligence and ambition to develop his talents while enjoying a very high standard of living.

Yes, there are hurdles to be overcome, social waters with dangerous undercurrents to navigate, and a whole host of challenges to be faced. This will be the case in any time and in any place. The shibboleths may change, but the need to speak them never does.

Neoreactionaries tend to focus on the bad because that’s just generally our thing. We tend to be a melancholic lot, as is often the case for those who take both pleasure and solace in quiet reflection.

But as I have stated before, sometimes it’s best to keep this all in perspective. Yes, the US really is a society in decline, no longer capable of providing the same standard of living nor accomplishing the breath-taking feats it once did. It is plagued by the same conflicts and tribulations that afflict all societies that have reached for the heights of human accomplishment, but though the rough be upon us, the diamonds have not yet all vanished. It is foolish to think they will be there in 30 years and it is foolish to think they have all vanished.

It is easy to bemoan what has been lost and wished for a simpler time. How will you ever get it if you cannot find a way to wring what you want out of this time? If you cannot master this world and overcome the aspects of it that challenge you the most, you don’t deserve the world that you dream of.

But I digress. Moving back to the subject of torture, I think there have been a few clear and insightful remarks made on the subject. Scharlach and Vox Day both have important points to make, for instance, and The Right Stuff put things in perspective in their own blunt way (you will note that these three opinions differ significantly from each other, which is half the point).

Pundits and other people who are paid to feign outrage are conveniently denying this, but most of the “shocking details” of this report have been known for years, and a good chunk of the rest could be logically inferred. The current haranguing is less an act of self-reflection and more a struggle session, with overblown media hysteria demanding the government kowtow and decry its sins.

Funny how God may be dead but we confess nonetheless.

Torture makes a difference in only a very small number of cases. Torture is most effective when your reputation for indulging in it is so brutal and so chilling that captured prisoners trip over themselves to spill their guts for fear of being subject to your legendary interrogation techniques (as was the case with the Soviets during World War Two). If you aren’t willing to go that far, don’t bother. Claim the moral high ground and hold it.

It’s easy to be an amoral pragmatist. All you need is cunning and a willingness to get your hands dirty. It is much harder to abide by the values you claim to stand for, because sooner or later, there will come a time when those values are tested and it will require great sacrifice on your part to uphold them. That means being willing to be hoisted on your own petard. That means knowingly suffering a great deal of pain. That means being willing to lose when maybe you could have won.

The war against Islamic terrorism was a test. We failed.

We were not strong enough to live up to the moral standards that we so pride ourselves on. We were not savage enough to kill and torture our way to uncontested peace. We were not resolved enough to follow the British example and rule as an Imperial power for hundreds of years. Any one of these traits could have brought us the victory, and we couldn’t even bring ourselves to be a single one.

We came to the fork in the road, and we fucked ourselves with it.

That is the America that the children of 9/11 know.

BELLUM SE IPSUM ALET

The Metaphysics of Consent

Far too many people see the world merely as it is, and do not think to look deeper. This is a shame, because when one bothers to dig out the underlying principles that guide the things that are, the world suddenly looks very different.

Consider feminism. Feminism and all its derived theories are driven by the attempt to seize as much power and as many resources away from men as possible and to isolate women as much as possible from any and all negative consequences of their decisions. Understand this and you understand all feminism.

From there, of course, we can put all aspects of feminism in perspective. It does get boring to do so all the time, however. It makes it so easy to write the whole thing off. Sometimes it’s a nice bit of fun to treat feminist viewpoints seriously and subject them to rigid analysis.

Consider one small branch of feminist theory, feminist sexual ethics. The guiding principles of this part of feminism can be summed up in one word: “consent”. “Consent” is, as the centerpiece of feminist sexual ethics, imbued with an almost religious reverence. It is the alpha and omega of feminist sexual theory, and so it can fittingly enough only be described in absolutes. “No” means No, and “Yes” means Yes (though the latter is not always so set in stone).

It is a quaint view, but reality is not so easily described. There are a few key assumptions that are being relied upon here, assumptions that I do not think are defensible starting points from which to base an ethical theory.

The first contention I have begins in well-trodden territory: What defines consent? Under the feminist model, the gold standard is direct, unambiguous, verbal consent. Anything less than that is insufficient.

While straightforward and sensible, this model is deficient in regards to actual human behavior. Non-verbal affirmative answers like a head nod or a certain type of eye contact are constants in ordinary (not just sexual) human behavior. It is thought that verbal communication comprises only about 7% of total human communication. Is it prudent to ignore 93% of what people are saying to us?

Additionally, as many professional womanizers will tell you, even “No” doesn’t always mean no, with the frequent meaning being “not now” or “try again later”. While it is obviously right out to assume that “No” never means no, any model of consent perhaps ought to consider the possible temporal nature of such nuanced dictions, perhaps by allowing future indicators of consent, both verbal and non-verbal, to override prior refutations.

But it is not my aim to build such a model at the present time, merely to lay out some of the hurdles that a proper model will need to overcome. Another one of these hurdles is the role that emotion plays in influencing the giving of consent. Emotions are complicated things, and do not often provide a useful guide to whether consent should be granted. We must also bear in mind that emotions are not the only factor at play here. Ones’ logical thought processes also contribute to the decision-making process.

This dynamic between the rational and the emotional decision-making pathways is what influences the process of giving consent. When they line up, things are simple. Consent is enthusiastic or rejection is straightforward. Yet, when thoughts and emotions do not line up, the situation becomes tricky. Consent may still be given, even if half-heartedly. How are we to judge these situations?

My assumption is that the feminist model would assume that anything less than full, verbal, straightforward, enthusiastic consent is off-limits. Yet, this fails to cover the multitude of times in which individuals engage in sexual activity less than whole-heartedly (perhaps getting more into later, or perhaps not…this is irrelevant). Should this kind of sex be off-limits?

And if proper sexual conduct is based on a certain level of enthusiasm between (or among) the participants, what level of enthusiasm is proper? Should they be at least 60% into it? 75%? What if one person is indifferent, but one person wants it greatly? This could be defended on utilitarian grounds by pointing out that one person will neither be harmed nor helped by this action, but the other person would see a great benefit in happiness.

But let’s end this digression before I wander too far off into minutiae. My point is that in situations in which thoughts and feelings are in conflict, one of those processes is going to have to win out. In these circumstances, has proper consent manifested itself?

This is not an easy question to answer, but it seems intuitively obvious that someone can give consent even if they are not 100% committed to the decision, in the same way that we could make any decision (what to eat for dinner, which car to purchase, what book to read) without being 100% certain of which option we would prefer. So perhaps 100% is too high a level to ask for when it comes to giving consent. But what level is the cut-off, then? If not 100%, then 99%? If not 99%, then 98%? Any model of consent that demands 100% support in making the decision would end up instituting an incredibly strict sexual norm.

Trying to suss out the details here is likely to cast this analysis into the howling maw of Charybdis, a fate that I would like to avoid. Merely skirting the edge of those dangerous waters is sufficient, I think, for my purposes here.

Another issue that must be touched upon here is that with the basing of consent in thoughts, feelings, and the interplay between the two, the giving of consent will be influenced by the capriciousness of ones emotions and/or thoughts. Emotions are fleeting and anything based upon them will be equally transient. Similarly, one can be convinced logically to believe that giving consent is a good or a bad idea based upon circumstances. Any model of consent is going to have to realize that this inherent instability in the nature of consent is going to have to be taken into account.

In other words, consent can be both given and taken away during the process of the act. Consider perhaps, how ones willingness to engage in coitus might diminish if a pet walked in and dropped dead, or if ones’ house caught fire. Situations and circumstances change. Correct models ought to be able to change with them. This means that a consensual situation can become non-consensual, and it also leaves open the hypothetical possibility that a non-consensual situation could become consensual, though how one should react to that possibility is perhaps going to depend on the specific model they happen to be working from. It is a possibility that opens up a certain can of worms, and while knee-jerk reactions to that possibility are defensible from the standpoint of human dignity and visceral disgust, any serious attempt to work out a model of consent is going to have to address that kind of situation, preferably in a logical and objective fashion, distasteful though it may be.

Finally, it seems a discussion of consent cannot be concluded without bringing up the involvement of drugs or alcohol. Obviously, past a certain point of intoxication, one lacks the requisite capacity for agency in such circumstances, but consider a circumstance in which one pre-emptively consents, with the intention of engaging in sexual activity while in a highly intoxicated state. Does your model of consent allow for this type of occurrence?

But that’s a bit straightforward. Consider the following example. A woman invites a man to her hotel room. He brings alcohol with him. They have a few drinks and get progressively more intimate as the evening goes on, which ends with the two of them having sex. Is this consent? Bear in mind that both people helped establish the logistics and both engaged in the process and pushed it along. Does your model also need to take into account how intoxicated they were? What methods of signaling consent were used?

It is a fact that individuals often consume alcohol or other intoxicants in situations in which they, consciously or unconsciously, are either expecting or at least hoping to have sex. Perhaps they may deny this to themselves in order to better match up their perception of reality with certain fantasies they may have. Self-delusion is one of the most human of all impulses. Still, when both parties are contributing to the build-up to sexual activity, it gets hard to make the claim that non-consensual sex occurred, especially if levels of intoxication do not go beyond what may be considered “moderate”.

It is in situations like these that the feminist model of consent, based on sober, straightforward, unambiguous verbal communication seems to over-extend itself. I will not go so far as to say that it is without any merit whatsoever, but I think there is sufficient room for improvement in this matter so as to merit the development of a more nuanced and practical model for the role of consent in sexual ethics (to say nothing of whether consent should even be the only relevant factor in this area).

Finally, I understand that under certain models, the entering into of institutions like marriage implies consent. This is a paradigm I will not address at this time. My aim at present is to lay out some potential issues with the feminist model of consent and to begin laying the groundwork here for a model that is better able to describe the tricky and seemingly illogical behavior of human beings while also retaining enough ethical weight so as to be of some use in guiding behavior during contested circumstances. I hope I even if I have not been wholly successful in that regard, I have achieved enough here so that there is room to refine and develop certain concepts in the future.

SPQR

Equality as Injustice

I was recently the subject of what you might call “racial profiling”. To give the short version of the story, I was “randomly selected” for a pat-down and a bag search twice in the span of five minutes while trying to board a flight.

I completely understand why it happened. My European ancestry may have granted me fair skin, but I was also a bearded young man flying out of a Muslim country with a copy of the Qur’an in his bag (which I have been reading for academic reasons). That sort of thing tends to merit scrutiny.

One look at my passport, of course, and suddenly everything cleared up and airport security was nothing but smiles and condolences. Western Imperialism, though dead in a strictly political sense, still has its lingering perks.

Despite the efforts of my liberal-leaning colleagues to use this event as a lesson to teach me the evils of racial profiling, I considered the whole thing to be a rather entertaining affair (the only person in my group of students who got more of a kick out of it than I did was the actual Muslim, who was glad that for once someone else was getting pulled aside).

More than that though, I think my being selected was perfectly justified. My physical appearance and the circumstances I was in suggested that I was a member of a demographic that has demonstrated an above-average tendency to plan and carry out acts of terrorism relative to most other demographics. On a pragmatic level, of course, it made sense to give me a closer look. But are the arguments for this sort of behavior only pragmatic in nature?

As long as different groups behave in ways that differ in a statistically significant fashion, certain forms of discrimination will always be justified. If you wish to be fair, you must judge groups based on the collective actions of the individuals who comprise that group, and different actions will merit different judgments. It would be most unfair not to reward say, the Japanese, with shorter waiting times and less scrutiny at airports, because no one of Japanese descent has intentionally crashed an airplane into anything since 1945.

It is thus seems to be the case that treating groups “equally” is be most unfair. Justice is done by making and applying correct judgments, not forgoing them. To cease judgment is to cease justice. To treat people with equality (since it requires the suspension of judgment) is thus a great injustice.

 Equality is injustice.

 “Social Justice” is anything but. Real social justice is giving people exactly what they deserve. Because different groups will act differently, different groups thus deserve having different behaviors directed towards them.

Equality is injustice.

 The quest for equality is a crusade against justice and fairness by individuals so egotistic that they honestly believe their fear of being judged is sufficient grounds for the abolishment of any form of societal judgment. They so fear justice they would burn civilization to the ground in order to avoid it. The cry for equality is only superficially a cry for justice. At its core, it is a plea to not be subject to it.

 Equality is injustice.

 SPQR

On Machiavellianism

I touched on the idea of Machiavellianism in both my last post and my most recent Path to Legionnaire.  Given how often I seem to referencing it, I thought I’d give my thoughts on the subject directly.

First, I think we should perhaps define what Machiavellianism actually is.  Wikipedia is most helpful here, and in that article, Machiavellianism is defined as:

“The employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct”

You’ll notice that definition doesn’t assume a moral judgement.  It shouldn’t, for Machiavellianism is fundamentally an amoral system of making judgements.  Machiavellianism fundamentally doesn’t concern itself with morality.  For some, this is enough to lambast it as an immoral paradigm through which to view the world.  I think this belief lacks nuance (actions taken when operating from an amoral frame can still be “moral”), but I’ll let sleeping dogs lie.  I have no desire to defend Machiavellianism on ethical grounds here today, though I do think that much of the time it is morally defensible.  I’d rather just give a brief overview of the subject, discussing a few aspects of it I haven’t already talked about, as we as how it fits into my view of the Reaction in general.

Now, Machiavellianism and pragmatism often go hand-in-hand.  There’s a crucial nuance here though.  Machiavellianism often implies a certain level of trickery and deceit, while pragmatism is about using the most effective means to ones disposal.  The Machiavellian approach is not always the most pragmatic one, for sometimes honesty and straightforwardness are the most effective means to achieve ones’ ends.  Nonetheless, the Machiavellian approach is frequently the most pragmatic one, and it is almost always pragmatic to be Machiavellian.  You condemn the one, you condemn the other.  You don’t get to pick and choose here.  Thus, I shall for the most part use the two terms interchangeably in this post, with a distinction made when necessary.

(Note: I’m taking the gloves off a bit with this one, but I would like to clarify that at no point do I mean any disrespect to those with whom I might disagree.  No offense is intended, but with that in mind, any offense taken will not be apologized for. Fortis in arduis.)

To be quite honest, I don’t much like the word “Machiavellianism”.  It’s a term that has far too much baggage.  I much prefer “pragmatic”, which works in almost all the same situations and is just a much better word in general.

My personal linguistic preferences aside though, there are certainly many people who hear the word “Machiavellian” and have a knee-jerk reaction to it, instantly proclaiming moral judgement, as if the word itself was tantamount to devil worship.  To clarify, Machiavellianism is not a license to lie and do distasteful things for the sake of lying and doing mean things.  It is not an excuse to sing about how Evil feels Good.  We have a word for that sort of thing: it’s called “evil”, and although “psychopathic” is a far more precise term, “evil” works pretty well for this purpose.

Brutality, duplicity, and cruelty are always last resorts, to be avoided unless absolutely necessary, and even then, to be weighed as options very carefully.  That’s what any pragmatist realizes.  It takes a certain kind of fortitude to leave such options on the table in this way, and it’s not for everyone to go through life like this.  The life of pragmatist is no less difficult than the life of a moralist, and some people are definitely more innately suited for one path over the other.  They can both benefit each other, and each side has things to teach the other.

It’s true that Machiavellianism can have deleterious effects on a society if it rises above a certain level of prevalence, as it erodes traditional ideas of honor and makes a high-trust society (at the highest levels of trust) impossible.  Yet, this is not a condemnation of Machiavellianism per se, but a warning against its application against members of your own ingroup.

With a little digging, it’s not hard to find successful examples of Machiavellianism on the world stage with none of the ill consequences of domestic Machiavellianism.  This is because there’s an ingroup/outgroup distinction to be made here.  Within the group, Machiavellianism undermines group trust and loyalty.  Outside of the group, there are no such bonds to worry about, and so the consequences in no way outweigh the benefits.

To paraphrase Jack Donovan, “Honor only functions within the group”.  Excessive care toward outgroups is the mistake of the liberal mind (except when it comes to “bigots”, for then they circle the wagons fairly quickly).  Any clash of ideologies is war, and in this match between Modernism and Reaction, sympathy for the enemy is not something that will be reciprocated.

What does this all mean for Reaction?  Well, while it might be a stretch to say that any of us are truly Machiavellian at heart, there’s certainly a pragmatic streak among many Neoreactionaries (less so for Reactionaries in general, but it’s still there).  Since this sort of behavior doesn’t come naturally to most of us though, it might not be all that fitting for us to try to be Machiavellian schemers, drawing up nefarious plans in order to achieve the hegemony of Reactionary thought in modern philosophy.

Still, there will be times in which we are forced to be pragmatic for the good of the Reaction.  Some have claimed this will make us like leftists or quasi-leftists, or will otherwise “corrupt” the movement in general.  But will it?

Neoreaction at its core is about critiquing democracy, egalitarianism, and other modernist ideologies, as well as occasionally venturing into the territory of creating a better ideology.  While there’s admittedly room for some idealistic tendencies, we do try to be pretty realistic about things.  There’s nothing in Neoreaction that requires we have to condemn pragmatism, though.  To claim otherwise is to project the urge for a more idealistic, moral world onto a movement that thinks that modernism is already too idealistic.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Neoreaction still hasn’t been given a clear, precise, and universally agreed-upon definition, after all (though many, including yours truly, have tried to suss one out), and there is still room for certain individuals to leave their unique mark on it.  Still, I can’t help but view this as a case of Nobles getting in the way of Pragmatists, and I fear this might be harmful to the Reaction as a whole…

Neoreaction likes to claim it is realistic, more so than other competing ideologies (especially that damned Progressivism).  Yet if we reject Machiavellianism outright, utterly and completely, we deny the reality that sometimes the most pragmatic and effective way of going about things is the Machiavellian one.  We undermine our claim that we take the world as it is, and thus we do lose a part of ourselves.  Accepting utopian ideas of virtue would compromise a part of Neoreaction, whereas internalizing pragmatism would not.

Being Machiavellian for the sake of being Machiavellian is pointless.  Only idiots, tools, and downright depraved individuals are underhanded and duplicitous for the sake of being underhanded and duplicitous.  Treating Machiavellianism as an end in itself not only misses the point, but also guarantees that you’ll eventually screw yourself over in the end as you find yourself caring more about how to be cunning and clever than how to be successful.  It’s a classic case of missing the forest for the trees, mixed with ego-stroking and trying to conform to an unfounded self-image.

No, you don’t want to play with fire for the sake of playing with fire, but it is realistic to recognize that occasionally, if you really care about a cause or an ideal, you will be forced to do what is necessary in service to that end.  As Amos and Gromar puts it: Pragmatism when you have to, operate by principle when you can. That’s just how life works sometimes.

Anyone who wants to create a state that incentivizes “virtuous” behavior and places high costs on “corrupt” behavior won’t find too many (if any) opponents among the reactionary community.  Hell, we pretty much all advocate for more stringent, traditional norms of behavior.  We’re reactionaries because we detest the degenerate, hedonistic time in which we live, and we all want to change it to something better.

With that in mind though, we need to bear in mind that one of the tasks of Neoreaction is about “Making human nature a feature, not a bug, of the system” (to paraphrase Bryce LaLiberte).  The problem with striving to make a society in which everyone is more virtuous and less Machiavellian is that the pragmatic behavior that characterizes a huge swathe of the population (especially towards the extreme-right of the bell curve) is a giant bug in the system, one that would require years and years of education and re-education and rigidly enforced rules and norms to even have a hope of succeeding.  If that sounds like the approach that advocates of feminism, multiculturalism, and “diversity” push for, that’s because it it.

Neoreaction won’t turn into a quasi-leftism if we accept that pragmatism is what we need right now, but we’ll end up looking a lot like it if we reject human nature in pursuit of “virtue”.

Again, some similarity to Modernism is going to occur if we succeed, because Modernism has succeeded in dominating the discourse for the past few hundred years.  Success breeds similarity.  We don’t want to be different in every way, just the ones that really matter (which, to be honest, is most of them).  Part of enacting that process though, is learning from the mistakes of our opponents, not repeating them in our own special way.

Ignoring the true nature of humanity and trying to wish it away is the crack in the liberal narrative that renders it most vulnerable.  Ignoring the pragmatic side to human behavior and trying to pretend we can do without it would be a mistake of equal magnitude for Neoreaction.

MORIOR INVICTUS

The Noble, The Pragmatic, and the Fallen

Ever since my initial treatment of the subject, I’ve always meant to write more on The Natural Aristocracy, but I could never quite get my ideas together.  After a bit of a bump in traffic from a Twitter shout-out by Michael Anissimov though, I went back over the post, as well as its comments, to see if I could find a spark that could ignite my thinking on the matter.

I thought initially I could write up something about how even those born with aristocratic potential can fall from its ranks if they fail to cultivate their natural talents, but I don’t see much need to elaborate on that.  Squandering your capabilities obviously limits what you do in life and how aristocratic you are.  This should be self-evident.

No, I needed something I could really examine in more detail.  This comment by House Perspicacity caught my eye.  I won’t address what he says directly, for the most part, but the interplay of aristocracy, psychopathy, and virtue is one that offers unique grounds for exploration, and so much of what I say here will be highly related.

Just looking over what I wrote on The Natural Aristocracy some months later, I can already see refinements I would make if I were writing it now.  Still, I think I was correct in not necessarily assessing “Virtue” as being a necessary characteristic of the Natural Aristocracy.  Some might disagree with me on this, but I think that being naturally aristocratic doesn’t make one in and of themselves virtuous.

Blood matters, and genes are important.  That said, environmental influence is still relevant.  This is equally true of The Natural Aristocracy, who are probably just as much influenced by their surroundings as anyone else (this is no doubt debatable, as the greater intelligence and capacity for thoughtful reflection might mitigate the ability to be swayed by certain environmental factors).

Aristocrats adapt to the time in which they exist.  Whatever is incentivized will be encouraged, and Natural Aristocrats are fairly good at assessing incentives and working out how to use them to achieve the greatest personal benefit.  This is especially true for those with a more pragmatic bent to them, as they apply their intelligence and industriousness to achieve their own ends.

If the world is one which incentivizes slave morality, hedonism, and degenerate behavior though, more and more Aristocrats will accept such things as being worthy principles and ideals.  Yet this surely cannot be Aristocratic, can it?  To appeal to the lowest and most base of values is the antithesis of the aristocratic, is it not?

I agree, yet I think there is some equivocation going on here.  Up to this point, I have been discussing what “Aristocracy” means in relation to people.  I have refrained from analyzing what “Aristocracy” means in the realm of ideas.

In short, I refer to an idea as “Aristocratic” if it refers to what is best (i.e. Aristotle discussing only the “best” examples of what it means to be human, animal, plant, God…etc) or if it focuses on the elevation of the human to a higher level of skill and capability, understanding, virtue…etc.  If it seeks to raise one to a higher level of existence, whether we are talking spiritual, intellectual, physical, or otherwise (though these are far from the only spheres in which we can improve ourselves), it is aristocratic.

The pursuit of “virtue” (whatever that may mean for the Aristocrat in question, whether the 4 Cardinal Virtues, Chivalric Ideals, the Eight-fold Path…etc) is perhaps one of the most noble and aristocratic of all quests. Philosophers, theologians, and all manner of folk throughout history have given their lives to the pursuit of the ideal of “virtue”.  The cultivation of morality within the self has been celebrated throughout the ages, and many Natural Aristocrats possess at least some drive to behave nobly and virtuously and to demonstrate right conduct.

Those who fully embrace Aristocratic ideals can be considered (to borrow a term from the great Julius Evola) “Aristocrats of the Soul”.  Those Natural Aristocrats who embrace these ideals and live by them are Aristocrats in spirit, mind, body, and character.  There is no more fitting term for them than the “Noble Aristocrats”.

So what do I think of those Natural Aristocrats who reject Aristocratic principles like the elevation of the human spirit and the pursuit of virtue?  I say they are a Fallen Aristocracy, whose elevation to the halls of power in our society portends a decline and a fall no less palpable than the disasters that befell Rome as the power of the Empire waned.

Without a Noble Aristocracy working for the preservation of the sacred fires of Tradition and Morality, social norms and codes of conduct will erode and decay.  When this happens, the baser urges of humanity are unleashed, hedonism becomes the theme of the age, and concepts of Honor and Nobility are given less heed.

It is in this environment that ignoble and Machiavellian tactics in pursuit of ones ends are allowed to flourish.  Machivellianism is always an effective way of achieving ones’ ends, but in societies with strong codes of honor, in which social reputation is everything, the cost of such means is usually too high to be worth the execution.  In this way, “dishonorable” conduct is discouraged and “virtuous” behavior is given breathing room to survive.  Without these checks in place, underhanded and “dirty” behavior becomes overpowering, and from there it always finds a way to run amok.

Natural Aristocrats, being intelligent individuals, catch on to this, of course.  In many of them, their ambition overpowers their desire for virtue.  Even if they reject the egalitarian impulses that characterize so many modernist philosophies, they can avoid the rejection of the Aristocratic and so avoid joining the ranks of the Fallen Aristocracy.  Still, without being devoted to the ideal of virtue, many of them become an Aristocracy of a different sort, a Pragmatic Aristocracy, bent on winning and on achieving their ends at all costs.  To a Pragmatic Aristocrat, a fair competition is one in which both sides are giving it everything they’ve got, and neither is leaving any tactic off the table.

In any clash of wills, the Pragmatic triumph over the Noble because they will go to any lengths to achieve their own ends while the Noble will always hold back.  Eventually, all Nobles fall to Pragmatists.  Played out on the level of civilizations, we see easily how a society headed by Noble Aristocracy can fall victim to the designs of one headed by more Pragmatic sorts, or how within a society, Pragmatist gradually replace Nobles in the seats of power.

A certain percentage of Pragmatists in power is natural, of course.  Being pragmatic, they tend to do a fairly good job of governing (sometimes better than the Nobles, for different times and contexts require different types of leaders, and some eras need Pragmatists more than Nobles in charge).  Still, as the percentage of Nobles in the Halls of Power declines, leaders become increasingly more ruthless and conniving in order to seize and hold power.  There is always a certain degree of Machiavellianism among the powerful, and strong societal institutions can hold this in check at levels that have minimal deleterious effect on the populace, but their ability to keep this tendency in check is not indefinite.  Human nature always wins out in the end, and the ruthless and unprincipled and conniving will always find a way to acquire and hold power, while those more principled than them are forced to adopt their tactics in order to keep up.  You reach the point when any semblance of honor becomes a weakness at high levels of government.

This is what we see in our time.  Psychopathy, sociopathy, and Machiavellianism are traits that give one an edge in the modern world.  Is it any wonder that Pragmatic Aristocrats seek to develop these traits in themselves?  In a world in which people earned status and acclaim through acts of Virtue, the Pragmatic would become most Noble individuals indeed.  In the Modern World, however, virtue can only be, at most, its own reward.

In our present time, we find ourselves with a most ignoble arrangement.  The Fallen Aristocracy frames the societal discourse on issues of morality and proper societal conduct, using the natural untermenschen as their pawns.  Pragmatic Aristocracy out only for themselves play off of this and find ways to profit and thrive in this environment, giving tacit approval for continued societal degradation.  Noble Aristocrats are marginalized and slandered, incapable of cutting it in the highest echelons of society when it is they who are what we need most right now.

The incredibly virtuous are always ostracized in any time and place, but anyone who strives to better themselves in this day and age learns fairly quickly that sharing your struggle leads to resentment more than approval.  In this time in which equality is considered the first principle of all morality, almost all attempts to elevate the self to a more Aristocratic existence are (for the most part), not looked on very favorably.  Yet this opprobrium must be overcome, for any semblance of a reactionary society will only be made possible through the blood, sweat, toil, and tears of Noble Aristocrats, as well as any Pragmatic Aristocrat allies who perceive it to be in their interest to tag along.

This alliance of the Noble and the Pragmatic is key, of course.  Noble Aristocrats care so deeply about the realization of their own virtue they refuse to do whatever it takes to achieve their own ends for risk of compromising their piety.  If the ends they seek happen to be, say, the preservation of their society and stability and prosperity for their citizens, the results are often disastrous when this choice is made.

With Pragmatists wholly in charge though, we always witness an inevitable progression to a degenerate state as the baser urges of Human nature are set loose and the pragmatists ride these into power.  Only the Pragmatic can counter the Pragmatic, but when only the Pragmatic rule, virtue grinds to a halt.  However, the proper functioning of any state is highly dependent on the virtue of the populace.  Too many pragmatists and the whole structure of governance turns into a giant crab-bucket, with everyone pulling each other down in their race to the top.  At the bottom of society, the common people become increasingly base, hedonistic, and degenerate as the Noble Aristocrats are unable to exercise their capability to preserve morality and virtue among the population.

Thus, Pragmatic Aristocrats need to realize that the cultivation of proper virtue among the populace constitutes a pragmatic goal in itself (failed states are kinder to brutal warlords and savage degenerates than Natural Aristocrats). They also need to realize that they are necessary to achieving that end, because the Noble Aristocrats left on their own in such matters won’t be able to cut it when thrust up against the Progressive Pragmatists who oppose them (this is why Modern Conservatism always fails).  If we are to ever see a Reactionary state filled with virtuous people, we need to understand that it can only be made possible if the pragmatists and the Nobles work together.

Noble Aristocrats, you do not have the luxury of actualizing your quest for “virtue” in the present time.  That is your burden, the price you pay for your presence in the Kali Yuga.  I am certainly not telling you not to be virtuous and strive for ever greater heights of virtue (as I said, that is quite possibly the most Aristocratic of quests), but know that you can only push the cause of reaction so far if your highest priority is your own moral refinement.  Much as you might be opposed to it, your best bet if you ever want to see a reactionary state is to not get in the way of the pragmatists who are working toward that end.  Get out of the way and let them do what they’re good at.

AQUILA NON CAPIT MUSCAS

r/K Selection, Master-Slave Morality, and the future of the West

“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees; but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks of roses under my cypresses.”

Thus Spoke Zarathustra

To some, he was a powerfully insightful thinker, seeing deeper and farther than any man who came before him or since.  To others, he was a raving, syphilitic, madman whose thoughts provided the ideological basis for National Socialism.  Love him, revile him, or ignore him though, it is hard to deny that he was one of the truly influential thinkers of our age.

This October 15th marked the 169th birthday of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.  I personally feel that Nietzsche goes under-appreciated by most reactionaries.  Our love affair with men like Burke, Evola, and Carlyle has left little room for this philosophical giant, yet I see plenty of room in the reactionary fold to incorporate some of the ideas of this great German philologist.

(As a quick aside: Nietzsche was perhaps my first step towards reaction, now that I think about it.  One of my university courses had me read The Genealogy of Morals, my first introduction to his writings, which was a key step in my transition away from more liberal, progressive ideas and toward a more traditional, reactionary mindset)

The most obvious example I can think of is that of master morality versus slave morality.  To quote Wikipedia here: “Slave morality values things like kindness, humility and sympathy, while master morality values pride, strength, and nobility.”  Obviously, that misses a lot of the nuance, but the general idea is sufficient for our purposes here.

Slave morality is not about cultivating the strength within oneself to ultimately become the master, it is about subverting the master so that everyone is on the same level.  To be superior is to necessarily be evil somehow, and it must have been accomplished through trickery, oppression, or some other unearned means.  Anyone familiar with Anonymous Conservative should be seeing the traits of the r-types right now (and by extension, liberal-leaning folk).

To highlight a recent example, someone who tends toward master morality will prefer being fit, strong, and athletic over being fat and weak, and is likely to shame others into keeping themselves in a state that they perceive to be “better”, while someone who tends toward slave morality will seek to convince others that there is no appreciable difference between being fat and being fit and that both should be accepted and respected.  Something like fat-shaming is anathema to the r-types, who react viscerally and emotionally when confronted with k-type fat-shamers.

Master morality, with its emphasis on strength and capability, is that which revels in hierarchical systems in which one can prove themselves.  Master morality is that which believes only in the good and the bad, the judgement of which mostly depends on what is helpful towards one goals.  Courage, truthfulness, and open-mindedness are also important facets of Master morality.  It is a morality that is frequently found within (and not often found outside of) the Natural Aristocracy.

So is Master Morality necessarily an ideal to strive for?  While I certainly believe it to be superior to slave morality, I don’t think that’s the correct takeaway here.  Master morality can fall too easily into ruthless Machiavellianism and “anything-goes” tactics, simply by virtue of how “good” is considered to be whatever is of benefit.  It’s not hard to rationalize pursuing a course of action that benefits you, no matter how destructive the consequences may be to others.  The world of “Game of Thrones” is filled to the brim with Master morality, and while it is not difficult to run across individuals who would much prefer to live in that fantasy world as opposed to this one, there is not exactly an overwhelming horde of people who would consider Westeros to be the best of all possible worlds.

Additionally, in a society in which the individual is the ultimate ideal (one in which, as Nietzsche out it so well, “God is dead” and man elevates himself into the role of God), master morality can easily be sublimated into pursuing selfish ends.  One who is successful in achieving material goods and pleasures of the flesh manifests Master morality, but is that really all we are meant to strive for in life?  I don’t fault people who seek to achieve their own ends, but I don’t believe it is optimal to pursue nothing further than the gratification of primal urges.

I propose that an ideal society is not one in which there is an abundance of either Master or Slave morality, but on in which both types achieve some sort of optimal balance.  Nowadays, we appear to have an excess of slave morality, directing resources and effort into achieving an equality of sex and race that deep down we know can never be achieved.  An invigorating dose of master morality would collectively do our society some good, but too much and the medicine becomes a poison.

Perhaps this will occur naturally, however.  Master morality tends to thrive in times of uncertainty, while slave morality is most comfortable in times of security and plenty (again, we see the r/K selection connection expressing itself here). Given how it seems likely that in the future, we will begin a descent into more turbulent times, we might very well see a recurrence of Master morality to deal with the societal perturbations.  Perhaps the growth of the Neoreactionary community is a symptom of this paradigm shift…

So how should this resurgence of Master morality be channeled?  The first step will be to form small societies and communities capable of weathering whatever lies ahead for the West.  The second will be to begin patching up the damage of putting into place new societal structures and superstructures to ensure that our descendants will have a civilization of their own to eventually destroy (I jest…somewhat).  Changing demographics, the inability of the US government to pay back its debts, and progressive ideologies all stand foreboding on the horizon, threatening to undermine the future of Western Civilization.

Potential hang-ups aside, we need ideologies that bow to the ideals of Master morality.  We need strength, cunning, and resourcefulness if we are to ensure our survival in the coming times.  When building a society, careful attention must be paid to ensuring the proper and delicate balance between the strength and nobility of Master morality and the charitability and humility of slave morality.  However in times of trouble, Master morality offers a more optimal set of principles for weathering the storm of uncertainty.

Strength. Courage. Nobility.  Masculinity.  These traits will be sorely needed in the coming future.  But how to cultivate them within oneself?

This is the question I began this blog to answer, and one that I shall begin the process of tackling within the coming months.

SPQR

The Legionnaire’s Perspective on Fat-Shaming

Thanks to an initiative by the fellows over at Return of Kings, Fat Shaming Week has officially been declared. and as a result now we have a new hashtag rising in popularity on Twitter, #FatShamingWeek.  It is whimsically delightful to read some of the tweets that clever people have come up with. I must admit I’ve taken perhaps a bit too much enjoyment in partaking in the fun, but we all have our foibles.

Now, much of the focus of Fat Shaming Week is targeted toward reminding overweight women that they are less attractive than thin and fit women.  Amusing as that may be, I’m going to take a more broad approach here in regards to my stance on the issue.

As outlined in books like Manthropology (corny title aside, it is a fascinating work and one I highly recommend), our ancestors were in almost every way stronger, tougher, and more physically capable than the soft, weak people we are now.  To put it bluntly, we are descended from hardcore motherfuckers who did whatever it took to survive and could easily go toe-toe with modern special forces soldiers and more often than not come out on top.  They hiked 50 miles a day wearing 100 lbs of armor.  They killed lions with spears with no help from friends or tribe members.  They invented, explored, and conquered the world.

What would your ancestors think of you if they met you?  Would they be impressed by you and respect you for your capabilities?  Forgive me if I choose not to believe that.  I’m apt to think that your physical condition would be a disgrace to your forefathers, even if you happen to be fit and athletic, and doubly so if your resemblance is more akin to a land whale and not a functional human being.  How do you feel about being the weakest link in the chain of descent?

These were people with your genes, your grandfathers and their grandfathers and their grandfathers and their grandfathers and so on.  They had more or less the same DNA in all of their cells that you possess now.  Don’t blame your genes for making you the way they are.  It’s not their fault. It’s yours.

Now, some might say that is someone’s own business if they are fat, and no one else has a right to judge them or say anything about it.  This is an incredibly naive view, and not just because it lacks nuance.  Like it or not, every action you take has far reaching implications.  You may believe that your habit of scarfing down cupcakes when you think no one is watching harms only yourself (if you’re still being that intellectually honest with yourself), but this isn’t quite the case.

See, allowing yourself to become fat and overweight opens you up to a much higher risk of health problems like diabetes and heart disease.  Treating those chronic issues requires an enormous investment of both material resources and manpower.  Now, because of how society is set up, not only are you taking money from young, healthy people who will now be paying more for health insurance they will never use (due to the Affordable Care Act), but you are also diverting resources away from people who have real medical issues that they didn’t invite upon themselves.  I ask all obese people who may be reading this, how do you feel about the fact that your inability to watch what you eat is stealing precious resources away from dying children and people who have actual medical conditions that weren’t a direct result of their actions?

But perhaps that doesn’t convince you.  Taking this appeal to emotion further, consider your family or other loved ones.  How do they feel about your growing physical deformity?  They no doubt are aware of the health risks correlated with a life of processed foods and little physical exertion.  What do you think they must be going through, knowing what harm you are doing to yourself but unwilling to make you uncomfortable enough to do something about it?  By letting yourself go, you are forcing upon your loved ones an unenviable burden, casting them between a rock and a hard place.

And that’s how they feel now!  What do you think they’ll be going through when you have your first heart attack, or a stroke, or any of the other maladies that arise more frequently in the heavy? I can’t imagine how sociopathic one would have to be to knowingly, willingly, and purposefully put the people whom they care for most in life through such an emotionally-troubling gauntlet.  It’s just mind-boggling.

Now, it is true that much of the obesity epidemic can be chalked up to the vast discrepancy between the environment that our genes are engineered to be able to handle and the environment that is presented to us as a result of living in the Western World.  With federal corn subsidies, the dominance of agribusiness and “food product” companies, and the pseudoscience that passes for nutritional advice nowadays, it rather unsurprising obesity rates are what they are.  That in mind, this does not excuse you from working to achieve a body worthy of a human being.

Stop eating processed foods. Avoid sugar like the plague (considering how obesity can be though of as an epidemic, I think the cliche might actually be justified here).  Eat your vegetables.  Go Paleo.  Get some exercise, whether that be swimming, running, weight-lifting, martial arts, or whatever else you find stimulating and enjoyable.  It takes time and effort to put pounds onto your body, and it will take time and effort to take them off, but all you really need to do is reverse those habits that brought you such girth in the first place.  Take care of the little things, and big results will follow,

There is one final point I’d like to convey.  I’m a big believer in the idea that personal virtue can be cultivated by developing within yourself the Four Cardinal Virtues.  I don’t plan on explaining these virtues personally at this time (perhaps in future posts, though).  You can go read that Wikipedia article if you don’t know what I’m referring to.  I promise I’ll still be here when you get back.

Now, you’ll notice that two of the virtues are Prudence and Temperance.  The wisdom to make good decisions and the discipline and self-control not to give yourself over to temptations are half of what constitutes virtue.  To fail to exercise either is a transgression that potentially borders on the unethical.

Being fat isn’t just a blatant dishonoring of your body, your genetic code, and your heritage, it is also a fundamentally immoral act facilitated by a lack of virtue.

Happy Fat-Shaming Week.

SPQR