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Culture War Roundup for the week of August 21, 2023

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I've made this kind of observation before, how social media can mold us into becoming the online identities we wear.

I kinda don't miss the flame wars of old, personally, but I really wouldn't say that modern-age online beefs are any improvement.

white progressives

white progressives

privileged white progressives

Yawn. It’s really tiresome to see that even purportedly “anti-woke” people have allowed their minds to be colonized by the nakedly anti-white framing that pins the blame solely on “privileged white” progressives for spreading and enforcing the things about modern society that they don’t like.

Well, as someone who has spent the entirety of my adult life in thoroughly progressive social spheres - everything from explicit socialist activist spaces in college, to the world of musical theatre and “queer performance art” - I can tell you from direct personal experience that the people who have been the most vindictive, the most ready to pounce at the slightest hint of wrongthink, the ones who have done the most to sully my personal reputation and those of others far less off-the-progressive-reservation than I am, have been uniformly non-white.

The three most egregious examples - the people who will be first against the wall if I’m ever magically granted dictatorial power - were, respectively, half-Filipino-half-black, fully black, and half-Puerto-Rican-half-white. These three individuals (and they’re far from alone) have significantly damaged the lives of a number of people whom I personally know, and they’ve successfully terrified a great many more people into staying in-line with the approved opinions. That’s the reality: most white progressives whose careers or social standing are wrapped up with their ability to stay ideologically up-to-date are terrified of stepping out of line, in a way that this simply far less true of most non-white individuals in the same milieu. Whites are far more cancellable than non-whites. Able to draw on a far smaller pool of mercy and benefit of the doubt, because they lack any sort of shield of “marginalized identity” on which they can fall back when questioned. Why do you think so many of them are socially “transitioning” to “non-binary” and other sorts of low-investment boutique identities? I’ve seen this process play out a number of times among people who, again, I personally know. If you’re a white guy in these spaces, you are literally vulnerable at all times and have to watch what you say at all moments, because you’re inherently suspect. So, you grow your hair out, maybe wear sort of ambiguous clothing, and declare yourself non-binary to give yourself some modicum of breathing room. Yes, many non-white progressives are doing the same, and I do not want to overstate the level of relative immunity from cancellation they enjoy, but the bar is undeniably set higher for them than it is for similarly situated whites. “White progressives” are not the ones primarily driving the dynamics you’re pointing at, and I think it’s a distraction tactic, or maybe part of a personal vendetta you’re prosecuting, to act as if they are.

Yawn. It’s really tiresome to see that even purportedly “anti-woke” people have allowed their minds to be colonized by the nakedly anti-white framing that pins the blame solely on “privileged white” progressives for spreading and enforcing the things about modern society that they don’t like.

Indeed, as it implicitly accepts the progressive Who? Whom? framework and the notion that non-Asian minority Lives Matter More: Non-Asian minorities can only be failed, not fail, much less be blamed for anything. For example, common normie conservative takes are that the Root Cause of black crime is white progressives being soft on crime and that the True Victims of affirmative action are talented non-Asian minorities. The old adage that conservatives are but progressives driving the speed-limit comes to mind.

Mood: “Man who thought it was all so tiresome finds he is more tired than previously thought possible.”

The three most egregious examples - the people who will be first against the wall if I’m ever magically granted dictatorial power - were, respectively, half-Filipino-half-black, fully black, and half-Puerto-Rican-half-white. These three individuals (and they’re far from alone) have significantly damaged the lives of a number of people whom I personally know, and they’ve successfully terrified a great many more people into staying in-line with the approved opinions.

This is really not a healthy way to live. You don't need to take it from me, just pay attention to the sheer number of cliches along these lines---it's overwhelmingly accepted wisdom that keeping grudges like this is not good for you. "Living well is the best revenge", "don't let them live rent-free in your head", "you're just letting them hurt you even more", etc.

Even beyond that, revealing this kind of mindset dramatically weakens the potency of your arguments. It makes you sound like a strawman---the person who only becomes a white supremacist because they can't get over what some specific minorities did to them in their past. However many words dress it up, none of their beliefs are based on logic or correctness, just emotions they can't deal with properly.

I can literally point out this comment to people I know IRL as a way to argue "yup, racists really are what you think they are, here's some more confirmation that nothing they believe in is based on anything logical". This should tell you that something has gone terribly wrong on your end.

"Living well is the best revenge", "don't let them live rent-free in your head", "you're just letting them hurt you even more", etc.

If your enemies tell you that you should do something for your own good that straightforwardly helps them and harms you, that's probably motivated reasoning or concern trolling. Some of the biggest proponents of getting rid of grudges are the people who are targets of grudges, who should be ignored for this reason. Someone who you have a grudge against probably isn't very interested in your mental health overall; why should you listen to them on the one subject where they have something to gain?

And combine this with sour grapes--when you can't have something (in this case, defeating the group you have a grudge against), you tell yourself that the thing you can't have really isn't all that great. Sour grapes is a form of bias, and it may be a coping mechanism, but it isn't rationality.

If your enemies tell you that you should do something for your own good that straightforwardly helps them and harms you, that's probably motivated reasoning or concern trolling. Some of the biggest proponents of getting rid of grudges are the people who are targets of grudges, who should be ignored for this reason. Someone who you have a grudge against probably isn't very interested in your mental health overall; why should you listen to them on the one subject where they have something to gain?

This is 100% the argument that every group that feels it's been aggrieved (including by you) uses. You're essentially arguing that we should never let go of grudges and always pursue retribution (reparations, anyone?).

Unprincipled conflict theory is at least as bad as naive mistake theory.

There are times when we should let go of grudges. But usually not when someone is telling you to let go of grudges, unless they're your family or someone else who is actually concerned about you and has has no ulterior motives.

"Guy on the Internet tells me to let go of grudges" is not it.

If your enemies tell you that you should do something for your own good that straightforwardly helps them and harms you, that's probably motivated reasoning or concern trolling.

Seeing everyone as your enemy is a big part of the problem. Besides, do you really think holding grudges and living your life in anger and fear is the best way to live?

Besides, do you really think holding grudges and living your life in anger and fear is the best way to live?

Sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it is. And the people who are in a position to make that judgment are not the people with a stake in ensuring that you don't hold the grudge.

I'm reminded of Scott's post claiming that Republicans should vote against Trump because electing Trump actually helps the left. The straightforward effect of electing Trump is to help the right, and Scott isn't trustworthy when he tells you the reverse.

Seeing everyone as your enemy is a biggest part of the problem.

Not if you're surrounded by enemies.

Besides, do you really think holding grudges and living your life in anger and fear is the best way to live?

It may be the best available.

Not if you're surrounded by enemies.

Then go somewhere you aren't surrounded by enemies, as @Amadan and many other users have been saying.

It may be the best available.

I don't think that's almost ever the case. There have been some miraculous transformations in life towards living a more peaceful and gentle life. Take for instance General Butt Naked, who transitioned from literally being a cannibal warlord to a Christian who at least purportedly does good deeds and runs a church. If you want to tell me that you and @Hoffmeister25 have fallen farther or are more surrounded by darkness than he is, well, it will take a lot of convincing to say the least.

I think this 'woe is me' attitude is the problem with large parts of the conservative movement, as a matter of fact. I tend to sympathize with the viewpoints of young white men who struggle to make it in the modern world, but if you change your viewpoint and take some damn agency and responsibility for your situation, your life can change into something much better than you might imagine. I say this because I see the posts above getting a lot of upvotes, and I'm worried about the type of young men especially who endorse these sentiments.

Then go somewhere you aren't surrounded by enemies, as @Amadan and many other users have been saying.

  1. That presumes the existence and practicality of moving to such a place. I'm not going to fit in with "red tribe" any better than I fit in with blue, and if I tried I'd have a couple of strikes against me for coming from a blue place and not being religious or generally not understanding the culture at a practical level.

  2. There's a culture war on, and my enemies are winning; no place is safe.

but if you change your viewpoint and take some damn agency and responsibility for your situation

I think this attitude on the part of normies and "responsible conservatives" is part of why the left is winning. The left sees or imagines an injustice towards one of its own, they rally around them. Normies or responsible conservatives see an injustice towards someone by the left, it was the victim's personal responsibility to avoid it. Got a sexual harassment complaint for saying hello to the wrong girl? Well maybe you should have read the signals better. Got fired for saying the wrong thing? Well maybe you should have kept your damn mouth shut. "But leftists can say what they want?" "We're not talking about them, are we?".

Normies or responsible conservatives see an injustice towards someone by the left, it was the victim's personal responsibility to avoid it.

Wrong. Responsibility has a large part to play, but it's not the victim's responsibility to avoid it. It's the victim's responsibility to deal with it, grow stronger, and continue to stick to good morals and the path of God. The path you and @Hoffmeister25 are taking is fundamentally weak, that's why 'normie' conservatives don't like it.

Got a sexual harassment complaint for saying hello to the wrong girl? Well maybe you should have read the signals better. Got fired for saying the wrong thing? Well maybe you should have kept your damn mouth shut.

This may be true in some scenarios, while at the same time it's true that the larger society, and a specific subset of progressives in particular, are at fault. You are trying to reduce out all of the context and nuance in these situations and make it black and white, between you and 'leftists,' your sworn enemies. Again, I think that type of response is weak and leads to horrible outcomes. I reject it entirely.

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I don't see what kind of mindset this reveals at all. If you were to say, witness a superior abusing their position to sexually exploit others at your workplace, are you supposed to just let it go, and not let it affect any of your beliefs around sexism or corporate culture or power, because to do so would be petty and grudgeful and Not A Good Look, like seriously my dude, Yikes?

I think you're reading 'against the wall when I'm dictator' as an outburst of suppressed rage. It's plausible that isn't the case, though. One explanation: in some online communities, "up against the wall" is just a figure of speech used to ironically emphasize distaste - "redditors should be shot / furries should be shot". Another potential explanation is OP's moral system puts much less emphasis on the 'right to life' of antisocial individuals, so "X should be killed" doesn't require all-consuming anger, and rather is a casual observation. I think the first is a more plausible explanation here, but the second demonstrates that desire for violence or murder doesn't have to emerge from hatred per se.

I think the context missing here is that "X will be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes" is typically targeted at abstract groups ("Furries" "Business majors" "Lakers fans who don't live in LA") or public figures ("Roger Gooddell" "Nancy Pelosi" "Martin Shkreli"). Presumably you don't actually know these people, your rage is directed towards what they do in the world. It's not personal, personal impotent murderous rage is a different animal.

It's very different to say "These three people I know personally, I'd really like to murder them. When I talk to them I think 'The world would be a better place if you were dead.' The things you've done to me personally are awful enough to deserve death." That's an expression of personal Animus, and when your political conclusions seem to follow from personal Animus, well FreudGPT doesn't need much more of a prompt does he?

It's also a profoundly anti-conservative attitude to want to murder your friends. I've noticed a contrast between Evangelical conservatives, who often hate abstract groups while being friendly to actual members of those groups; and Bloomberg Democrats, who often love groups in the abstract but hate or ignore the actual members of these groups they come across. As exemplars picture a putatively racist contractor who will complain about Puerto Ricans over beers while working with them every day, versus the Liberal BLM profile pic investment banker who has zero Black friends they speak to regularly.

I admire our friend Hoff for his willingness to examine his own psyche, but it's hard not to disagree with his conclusions after we see what premises he's working with.

See my reply to Hlynka. The “get the wall” comment was intended to be read as an obviously hyperbolic joke. I do not want to kill my ex-friends in the San Diego theatre community.

I do advocate political violence in a limited capacity, and you’re correct to note that in this sense I am profoundly different from the median conservative who just wants to restore some sort of détente, but I don’t believe it’s in any way necessary or morally right to extend that violence to individuals whose “power” was ultimately nothing more than hyper-localized and entirely social in nature.

We will ultimately need to see certain public officials killed, maimed, or permanently jailed. I truly do believe that healing in this country will need to include that. This doesn’t mean that I want the jerk who told people not to be friends with me because I’m a problematic white man to suffer this fate.

I do advocate political violence in a limited capacity

Okay, can you please explain in more detail why you are so extreme in your views and why you think violence is necessary? I actually agree with you that the identity politics and views of the modern left are insane and need to be curtailed, but I'm nowhere near justifying the awful means you endorse.

All I'm getting from these posts is that you, personally, have had a really hard time and so you think extreme, violent, measures are needed to change our society. On a societal level, why have we moved so far that we can't resolve this situation without violence?

All I'm getting from these posts is that you, personally, have had a really hard time

No, I haven’t! My life could definitely be a lot better, but a huge amount of that is because of poor choices I’ve made! Apparently my posts have given people the impression that I’m some sad-sack burnout with no prospects or something like that. My income is nothing like what most of the people on this sub make, but I’m not struggling to make rent or pay bills or anything like that. I even have some discretionary income that I use for frivolous things! My love life is a mess right now, but there was a period where it wasn’t, and a lot of why it is now is, again, due to things I’m doing wrong and choices that I’m making. I don’t feel “oppressed” or anything like that.

As for why my views are “extreme”, I don’t think that’s actually true when you look at the full scope of human history. In fact the norm historically has always been that major regime changes have been incredibly bloody affairs. This was true long before Robespierre and Cromwell. When the ruling class of a country fails spectacularly, and especially when those failures seem not only avoidable but to actually be the result of specific bad ideas or corrupt motives which that ruling class actively chose, then usually blood has been spilled.

Liberal democracy was supposed to “fix” this. It was supposed to structure society in such a way that this bloodletting would no longer be necessary, nor even desirable. And for some length of time, in some countries, it even accomplished this for real! That was no mean feat, and I’m not going to pretend like it wasn’t an improvement over a lot of what came before it. The problem now is that I think the Gods of the Copybook Headings have begun to reassert themselves. I believe that some public officials in nearly all European and Euro-diaspora countries have failed their people so comprehensively - in fact, they haven’t merely failed the people, they’ve actively conspired against them - that the burning rage, the despair and hopeless and sense of injustice which have begun to proliferate among the common people of these countries is going to boil over at some point.

And I’m not even a populist! I think that some of the complaints that common people have about the government, and some of the things which they accuse the government of doing, are actually illegitimate and ill-considered! That doesn’t change the fact that the rage is real. I certainly feel it. When I see career criminals continually released back into the streets by DAs who are actively pro-criminal and anti-white, and when I see what used to be actual borders reduced to open doors, I feel burning rage at the people responsible, and a profound sense of injustice when I reflect on the fact that none of them will suffer any consequences or accountability whatsoever. Even if they get voted out, they’ll immediately land on the board of a non-profit, or get a show on a cable news network, or an academic sinecure, which in some cases will make them even more powerful - and certainly more wealthy - than they were when they were in formal elected office!

This cannot continue indefinitely. We are so far past the point of no return, as far as I can tell. And my reading of history is that these situations always end in bloodletting. And that this is not always a bad thing. In this case, since I’m not expecting to die myself, or for anyone I know or care about to die, as a result of the coming bloodletting, it’s especially easy for me to be comfortable with expecting it.

Do you disagree with my assessment of what’s coming? Or do you merely disagree that it will be something other than a calamity? Do you think that the targeted persecution of specific individuals responsible for catastrophic failed policies is the historical norm? Or do you think it’s “extreme”? Can it be both? What does “extreme” mean in this context?

As for why my views are “extreme”, I don’t think that’s actually true when you look at the full scope of human history. In fact the norm historically has always been that major regime changes have been incredibly bloody affairs. This was true long before Robespierre and Cromwell. When the ruling class of a country fails spectacularly, and especially when those failures seem not only avoidable but to actually be the result of specific bad ideas or corrupt motives which that ruling class actively chose, then usually blood has been spilled.

Absolutely, and this still happens today in much of the world. I think it's bad, and I think one of the most important efforts of each person is to move away from this sort of world.

Liberal democracy was supposed to “fix” this. It was supposed to structure society in such a way that this bloodletting would no longer be necessary, nor even desirable. And for some length of time, in some countries, it even accomplished this for real! That was no mean feat, and I’m not going to pretend like it wasn’t an improvement over a lot of what came before it. The problem now is that I think the Gods of the Copybook Headings have begun to reassert themselves.

When I see career criminals continually released back into the streets by DAs who are actively pro-criminal and anti-white, and when I see what used to be actual borders reduced to open doors, I feel burning rage at the people responsible, and a profound sense of injustice when I reflect on the fact that none of them will suffer any consequences or accountability whatsoever

Do you think people didn't have burning rage during the Civil Rights movement? After the Great Depression? During the fight of the sufragettes? Hell, I'd say the rage back then compared to the limp, satiated populace we have today is barely comparable. I'm frankly shocked you just look at history, supposedly, then say the rage in the modern West is at a boiling point. People have endured far, far worse situations than we have without rebelling. We don't even have it that badly, and even if we did we have ample distraction. Bread and circuses orders of magnitude better than the romans.

You really see the modern world as irreparable without violence? I don't buy it.

This cannot continue indefinitely. We are so far past the point of no return, as far as I can tell. And my reading of history is that these situations always end in bloodletting.

I don't trust your reading of history. I think that as you admitted above, the miracle of modern liberal democracy is that we can make changes like this without bloodshed. I'd argue that we try and let those mechanisms work, and actively push for that sort of non violent revolution.

Do you disagree with my assessment of what’s coming? Or do you merely disagree that it will be something other than a calamity? Do you think that the targeted persecution of specific individuals responsible for catastrophic failed policies is the historical norm? Or do you think it’s “extreme”? Can it be both? What does “extreme” mean in this context?

Yes I disagree with your assessment if it means violence is inevitable. Sure I think targeted persecution is a historical norm, but I also think that we've miraculously managed to move past that historical norm, as we've moved past other historical norms. Did we all the sudden go back to oral history after writing was invented? No. Permanent step changes in human history can happen when we find a vastly superior cultural technology. Liberal democracy is a step change.

Whether or not violent political purges are extreme, they are foolish, sub-optimal, and most importantly wrong. Whatever justification you try and make for them regarding our current state of the world is foolish. Perhaps in circumstances orders of magnitude worse than the West's current situation I could see the justification for violence, but even then I'd prefer we find our way without it.

What happens is not out of our control. Which path we go down depends on the actions individual people make, day to day. Creating a just-so story of inevitable political violence is you trying to justify your worldview by making up a narrative that makes it impossible to avoid. Again, I don't buy it.

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You’ve made a series of baseless assumptions about me, based on limited evidence, and used your false model of me to prove your thesis about “racists”.

Firstly, I didn’t bring up the three individuals in question because I obsessively ruminate about my contempt for them. While they genuinely are contemptible - two of them are actually quite pleasant in person (though ruthless behind your back) and the other is just an absolute mess, keeping everyone around him on edge - my contempt for them has absolutely nothing to do with their race, and did not have any influence on my developing a racial consciousness; the latter came significantly before the former. My relationship with these individuals soured in large part because I, independently of anything they did or said, had turned toward a positive racial identity, and therefore could not react any way other than negatively to their naked anti-white statements and assumptions. I brought them up, though, as counterexamples to a specific claim that had been made by the OP. I felt that they were appropriate to bring up in that context, not because I think of them all the time - I don’t - but because OP’s post made me think of them.

If the standard you want to hold white advocates to is “never make any negative statements about specific non-white individuals who have pissed you off or wronged you, because of you do then I will immediately assume that all of your beliefs are based on petty feelings of personal vengeance and not on logical reasoning” then not a single one of us is going to pass your test. You might as well write us off completely.

The reality is that for the vast majority of people who adopt any ideology, other than maybe the one they grew up around because of their parents, it’s going to be because of some combination of personal experiences, exposure to arguments, observation of patterns in the world, independent reasoning, and natural inborn personality traits and instincts. By ruling out one of those factors (the personal experiences part) as inherently illegitimate and discounting the possibility that others also played a part, you’re holding your ideological opponents to an impossible and anti-human standard.

Yes, I have had some bad experiences with some particular individuals in my life; the lion’s share have been non-white, although some have not. This is actually the pattern one would expect if one takes racial differences and the inevitably of interracial conflict seriously. You don’t, so you’re forced to impart causality that doesn’t actually exist, or at least not as a monocausal explanation.

Here's what I specifically assumed about the story in that post: there are some people who wronged you in the past---a few months to a few years ago. You cut off contact with them and are likely never going to interact with them ever again. However, you still keep a list of their names in your head as those who would be first to die in fantasies where you're a dictator. Please let me know if these specific assumptions are substantively incorrect.

Even this by itself is not normal. It is also very different from simply just "making...negative statements about specific non-white individuals who have pissed you off or wronged you" or "obsessively ruminat[ing] about [your] contempt for them". Please don't play this kind of debate game of skewing the strength of a claim to make it sound wrong (though you're definitely not as bad as some of the other replies here).

On your second point, there is a hierarchy of types of evidence. Personal experience and anecdotes are at the bottom and really on acceptable when you're dealing with something so hard to measure that you don't have a better option. For the specific question you raise about the inevitability of racial conflict, there is much stronger evidence---you can find statistics, research trials, multitudes of case studies of different modern and historical societies, etc. Just as a heuristic, if something is an active field of academic research (well, barring certain fields), you shouldn't be reasoning about it based on personal anecdotes. In fact, your strongest, most thought-provoking posts are the ones where you stick to these stronger forms of evidence.

By ruling out one of those factors (the personal experiences part) as inherently illegitimate and discounting the possibility that others also played a part, you’re holding your ideological opponents to an impossible and anti-human standard.

I do have to disagree far more vehemently here. You can see above exactly what standard I use to discount the personal experience factor as illegitimate---I personally care more that my evidentiary standards lead me to conclusions that are correct than that they feel "human" to me. Obviously people are imperfect and not perfectly rational in seeking truth. However, I can't see any other interpretation of what your saying here except that this means that we should give up because trying to improve is "inhuman" (please again correct me if I'm wrong).

From another perspective, I'm someone who strongly disagrees with you about some particular argument; if you make a mistake because of human failings, that's your problem and I'm perfectly justified in writing off what you say as not convincing. However, please note here I'm not taking this as evidence that your point is wrong (just pointing out that many people definitely will!). I'm simply asking you to fix your argument and holding judgement until I see what happens.

Here's what I specifically assumed about the story in that post: there are some people who wronged you in the past---a few months to a few years ago. You cut off contact with them and are likely never going to interact with them ever again. However, you still keep a list of their names in your head as those who would be first to die in fantasies where you're a dictator. Please let me know if these specific assumptions are substantively incorrect.

You are the third person to interpret my joke as a serious statement, which means it clearly wasn’t a good joke, and I regret making it. No, I do not actually have fantasies about killing some bitchy theatre people who harmed me socially. No, I do not actually have fantasies about becoming a dictator. I expected people to extend to me some basic charity and assume that I’m not a nutcase; in hindsight I should not have expected this, especially given that people here are inevitably going to pattern-match me to The Austrian Painter, and therefore I need to hold myself to a higher standard.

That being said, your suggestion that it’s abnormal to remember specific individuals who have pissed me off or harmed me, and to remember those people’s names and faces, just seems nakedly wrong. That’s a completely normal human thing to do. Would it be more “normal” of me to have… forgotten who they were? People I knew for years and interacted with as recently as three years ago? It’s normal to lose all recollection of their names and faces in the span of three years? No, that would actually be really weird! I would have to have a pretty bad memory for that to be normal.

As for the rest of your post, we just disagree strongly about the relative merits of personal experience/anecdata as a basis for reasoning about the world. I agree with you that it’s not sufficient in itself and that it needs to be backed up by data. Were I to have made a serious effortpost, with citations and links and statistics, it’s fair to say that this would have been a stronger argument than my relatively low-effort comments that I rattled off without much forethought. That doesn’t actually mean that a post without data and citations is necessarily weak. Anecdotes are actually a totally valid way of reasoning, as long as the preponderance of available macro-level data doesn’t actually countervail against the conclusion you’ve drawn from personal experience. I think that the conclusions suggested by my personal anecdotes are sufficiently similar to the conclusions that the available data suggest, such that the anecdotes actually strengthen my case rather than weakening it. One would expect society-wide trends to be replicated at the micro/interpersonal level more often than not, and indeed that’s what my personal experience has been.

You are the third person to interpret my joke as a serious statement....

That drops the situation from "abnormal and worrying" to "within the range of normal but not healthy", leaving aside points others have made about whether the joke was a Freudian slip and whether that's a valid way to infer things about someone. The point that you're never going to interact with them again is doing a lot of work here---why waste mindshare making them one of the first things you think of in a situation like this?

I think that the conclusions suggested by my personal anecdotes are sufficiently similar to the conclusions that the available data suggest,

Sure, as long as you understand that this is not going to mean anything to anyone who doesn't already agree with your interpretations of the stronger, macro-evidence. I think a lot of the pushback you got was because people interpreted you as saying that it should---the Motte isn't that much an echo chamber yet.

...pins the blame solely on “privileged white” progressives for spreading and enforcing the things about modern society that they don’t like.

It is true that the progressive racial agenda is driven primarily by non-whites. However (excluding the brief aftermath of George Floyd) the LGBT agenda seems to be much more prominent currently, and this is dominated by whites.

The three most egregious examples - the people who will be first against the wall if I’m ever magically granted dictatorial power - were, respectively, half-Filipino-half-black, fully black, and half-Puerto-Rican-half-white. These three individuals (and they’re far from alone) have significantly damaged the lives of a number of people whom I personally know, and they’ve successfully terrified a great many more people into staying in-line with the approved opinions.

Was this ever done in response to violating orthodoxy on non-racial issues?

Why do you think so many of them are socially “transitioning” to “non-binary” and other sorts of low-investment boutique identities?

This seems to be completely contrary to what I've seen. Every "non-binary" I know of is either a woman or a male homosexual, except for one heterosexual white Chad, but he would be the one who punishes others for being insufficiently progressive. So in any case, this phenomena seems to be motivated primarily by attention-seeking, and, in rare cases, the opportunity to be an activist - but not out of fear you'll be accused of being some brand of bigot.

But to address your general annoyance at anti-woke people complaining about white progressives, I think you're looking at it from the wrong angle. The problem isn't that they are willing to notice race here, it's just that they refuse to (or are at least extremely averse to) notice race when it would lead to blaming a non-white group.

I’m assuming you’re not very familiar with my posting history and my views, if you believe that I’m currently an “ally” to progressives, or that I’m moved by your accusations that progressives “divide people by race”. It’s an easy misunderstanding based on my (true) statement that I’ve spent my entire adult life in heavily progressive social spaces; however, a quick perusal of my posting history in this forum should help you understand where I’m coming from. My worldview at this time is very, very far from progressive, and I’m far more guilty of “stoking racial division” than any of the progressives, white or otherwise, with whom you’ve incorrectly lumped me in.

My worldview at this time is very, very far from progressive.

It's not though. You just to think it is because "as someone who has spent the entirety of my adult life in thoroughly progressive social spheres - everything from explicit socialist activist spaces in college, to the world of musical theatre and “queer performance art” you don't seem to grasp just how far your worldview already is from the median American. If the distance between the worldviews of yourself and your compatriots in the world of musical theatre is measured in 100s of feet the distance between you and the median republican who chuckles at the Babylon Bee is measured in nautical miles.

From outside those thoroughly progressive social spheres spotting the differences between progressivism and whatever you call your particular offshoot is like one of those bar room games where you have to spot the mole on the pin-up girl. They might not be exactly the same picture, but they are the same picture.

Likewise things like...

The three most egregious examples - the people who will be first against the wall if I’m ever magically granted dictatorial power - were, respectively, half-Filipino-half-black, fully black, and half-Puerto-Rican-half-white.

...are why "Stormfront or SJW" is a meme. I'm half tempted to link your rant to just such a board, but I value this place too highly to risk crossing those streams.

I urge you to stop and reflect upon the ideological choices you've made that lead you to arrive at that thought.

I think your rants would be better served by naming specific ways that reactionaries are progressive, instead of saying 'REAL americans can just tell'.

Let's try comparing the stereotypical reactionary's views to the conservative and progressive, and see where the clusters are. I don't think race is the most representative issue here, as progressive 'we must uplift the poor and oppressed' shades into the ethnic identity of minorities, creating a similarity that's mostly superficial in the US, but much deeper in e.g. third world left-wing nationalism. Picking a random issue:

"Thoughts on abortion?"

Progressive: "A woman has a right to choose and shouldn't be burdened with children if she doesn't want them. Free individuals should experience the joy of sex with whoever they want to without risking pregnancy."

Conservative: "A child's right to life is paramount, and killing them is wrong. That is that. A woman raising a child with her is beautiful, and is God's plan if she becomes pregnant. Sex belongs in marriage and is for reproduction. Abortion is the culmination of progressive disregard for morality itself."

Reactionaries are divided on abortion. The most common perspective is (slightly caricatured) :

"Abortion is satanic, it is the duty of women to raise children for her family and for her society. The fact a woman would even consider killing her child shows how progressives despise nature and God. Women should marry and have children, not have a series of sterile dalliances with random men."

Another, significantly less common, perspective is (less caricatured than you'd think):

"Abortion is good if the child is low IQ/degenerate/black. It's a crime if the child is white / smart. Only white and healthy women should have children, they should many children, and they should be raised in a traditional family".

You're asking me to believe that, because the last perspective and the first one are both pro-abortion in some cases, progressives and reactionaries are the same. But they couldn't be more different! One supports sex for pleasure and human connection, disposing of fetuses if the woman wants to - the other wants to abort potential low-iq and black people. The latter three support traditional values, the family, patriarchy, a moral force for having children, and oppose casual sex. The first is the opposite.

I think your rants would be better served by naming specific ways that reactionaries are progressive, instead of saying 'REAL Americans can just tell'.

This what my series of effort posts on "Inferential Distance" been all about but sure, lets break it down real quick. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are 5 examples that spring immediately to mind.

  • First off because it applies directly to the topic at hand there is the question, where does "Identity" reside? Progressives believe that it resides with the identified. Conservatives believe that it resides with the identifier. In progressive spaces "identifying as [X]" carries a certain sort of weight. @Hoffmeister25 identifies as "right wing" and this being a largely progressive space we are expected to respect that on some level, same deal with biological males identifying as "Women" and vice versa. Coming from a conservative space these sorts of appeals seem nonsensical as these are not things one "identifies as", they just are. Identities are little more than heuristics for use by the identifier. See the whole bit in Scott's The Categories were Made for Man about whether whales should in the fishery department's jurisdiction or the agricultural department's. This is why the "I identify as an attack helicopter" meme had such legs. It perfectly encapsulates just how absurd most of the progressive rhetoric surrounding identity (sexual, political, racial or otherwise) sounds to the average conservative.

  • Second, is the question of internal vs external loci of control or where does the responsibility for an act ultimately reside? Conservatives believe that it resides within the individual whereas progressives believe that it is something external. That the actions of the individual are simply reactions to the conditions presented. Hence progressive' preference for some flavor of determinism or other "structural x-ism" as explanations for [current thing]. "Society is to blame" that sort of thing.

  • Which brings us straight into the third point. The question of whether social structures are imposed upon the indivual from the top down, or do grow organically from the ground up. Progressives maintain that most, if not all, social structures are imposed upon the from the top down. Conservatives maintain that that most, if not all, social structures grew organically from the choices made by individuals at each level and were never "imposed" at all.

  • While we're on the topic, Number 4 is the question of what is mankind's "default state"? War or Peace? Tyranny or Freedom? Progressives maintain that it is latter while Conservatives maintain that it is former. The thing that ultimately makes most progressives "progressive" is that they sincerely believe in capital-P Progress. That all that is needed for progress/good to triumph is for the barriers that are currently standing in its' way to be torn down. Meanwhile the conservative view is exactly what Chesterton was trying to explain when he made his fence analogy. Progressives see anti-discrimination laws as barriers to progress (who's progress is immaterial). Meanwhile conservatives look at the last two centuries of US history and conclude that this fence was built for a damn food reason.

  • Finally there is the question of Mysticism vs Materialism, more specifically (and particularly relevant to discussions of abortion)is whether the moral value/weight of a human life is something metaphysical, or if it is something material? Conservatives almost inevitably come down on the Metaphysical side of the debate typically quoting either the Bible or the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. In contrast progressives tend to maintain that it is something material, or at the very least something that can be readily measured and/or quantified. The specific quality in question might be intelligence, it might be strength, it might be membership in a particular social, political, or ethnic group, it could even be expected QUALYs according to some hypothetical super intelligence. The point is that it's there and can measured. The reason these debates tend to drag on endlessly is that progressive's by their nature want to make the debate about object level cases, "what if the baby has some horrible congenital disease?" "what if the baby is black?" "what if the baby grows up to be Hitler?" That sort of thing. Meanwhile from the conservative's view these sorts of questions only serve to demonstrate just how thoroughly progressives have missed the point. Life is life and has a value in to and of itself. End of conversation.

These 5 questions might not seem all that meaningful or relevant at a glance, but I think whether a person comes down on one side or the other has substantial downstream effects on patterns of thought and behavior even when the question itself is not being consciously considered. Maybe it's just a product of having a foot in both world but when I compare how the people I interact with in explicitly conservative/right-wing spaces seem to talk and think to the people I interact with here the differences really are quite stark.

In conclusion, I developed my theory that the Alt-Right is best understood as an offshoot of the progressive left after a couple of run-ins with the Takismag crew during the 2012 election when I was still serving as a local GOP Rep. My reasoning was/is straight forward, pretty much every alt-righter I've ever interacted with has A) come from an extremely progressive/left-wing background, and B) taken the "progressive" side in at least 3 of the above 5 questions if they didn't go a full 5/5.

Ultimately it all comes back to the first question in my list, my thesis is that there is a category to which both intersectional progressives and the alt-right belong, and whether they appreciate being in the same category together has no bearing on whether that category is useful or "cleaves reality at the joints". I believe that it is, and that it does.

edit: spelling/formatting.

Yep, there deserves to be a top-level post (perhaps there have been several already) but the alt-right definitely steals from the worldview of the progressives.

Ie there's this big hegemonic cultural force that is imposing a progressive view of race and inhibiting the success of whites. Gee, that sounds an awful lot like structural racism a la critical theory.

Alright, so let’s take your model seriously and see how I actually think I score on your five-criteria test. I believe that there are a number of better, more useful models than the one you’re using, but it’s not terrible - it at least successfully allows you to perform a basic Schmittian friend/enemy analysis and to obtain a somewhat reliable result, and in that sense it suits a useful purpose for you. So, where do I fall on your grading curve? Well, let’s take them in order.

[W]here does "Identity" reside? Progressives believe that it resides with the identified. Conservatives believe that it resides with the identifier.

My actual stance is: it’s both. Some identities are less or more constructed than other identities. Most of the important ones we care about have at least some bedrock of objective truth behind them, such that a reasonable observer of sound mind would conclude, the vast majority of the time, that someone either is or isn’t a particular example of that identity, and the observer would need to have a strong ideological reason to conclude otherwise. Gender/sex is certainly one of these. There are weird edge cases and people who, through a ton of effort, manage to “pass” by fooling/manipulating observers’ perceptive faculties, but the vast, vast majority of people are readily identifiable as one sex or the other, and our human perceptive faculties are incredibly well-tuned to make accurate determinations about that identity.

Some identities are more ambiguous, or operate on a spectrum. Reasonable observers can disagree about whether a particular specimen is or isn’t an example of that identity category, based on what each observer is optimizing for. “Disability status” is, I think, one of these. Some people are profoundly disabled, and only a tiny minority of “critical disabilities studies” - AKA, hardcore social constructivists who are committed to a very wacky definition of disability” - would fail to recognize them as such.

Other people have health conditions or neurotypes that either confer both advantages and disadvantages, or otherwise confer disadvantages that are easily manageable using modern medical technology. Someone who is totally blind is very obviously disabled; lacking sight is strictly worse than being able to see, in pretty much all scenarios I can imagine. Someone whose vision is just not great, or who wears reading glasses to slightly reduce eye strain, is probably not someone almost anyone would call “disabled”. However, if there’s some concrete or social gain to be had by persuading others to view me as disabled - say, a scholarship, or a workplace accommodation - then whether or not I’m perceived as disabled suddenly has real-world consequences, and I’m going to use the tools at my disposal to try and persuade people to alter their perception of my identity. I can’t force them to see me as something different than what they genuinely see me as, but I can try to present an alternative model that they might choose to adopt, and thereby change how they decide to signify me. In that sense, my identity is still determined by the signifier, but I can actually influence their perceptual decisions. I think that race is one of these sorts of muddled identity categories that contain both objective elements and constructed elements, and that someone can either fall into a category or fall out of it depending on what the signifier wants to accomplish by sorting that person into a particular identity.

There are also identities that are either entirely or nearly entirely elective, and we pretty much all agree to just honor the signified’s decision to adopt that identity category. I adopted a particular English Premier League football team as “my team”, based on criteria which most would see as arbitrary - I wasn’t born in England, let alone in the particular part of England where locals support this team, and I’ve never even been to that part of England. Yet nobody really has anything to lose or gain by deciding to challenge my “fandom identity”, so this identity can be constructed by my choice without it really having any consequences that would cause people to look twice at it. Now, for the locals who were born into families who’ve supported that team for generations, their “fandom identity” is somewhat less constructed - they have objective considerations that make their identity somewhat more determined, or at least harder to choose otherwise. That being said, there is nothing stopping them from just deciding to support a different team instead - maybe becoming a Manchester City fan because you get to see your team win every week. Your family can get mad at you and call you a traitor, a plastic, or whatever, but if you genuinely internally experience happiness when Man City wins and dejection when they lose, you truly are a Man City fan at that point.

So, if I believe that identities can exist on a spectrum between “totally signifier-determined” and “totally signified-constructed” then do I pass or fail Criterion #1?

Second, is the question of internal vs external loci of control or where does the responsibility for an act ultimately reside? Conservatives believe that it resides within the individual whereas progressives believe that it is something external.

Again, I’m going to say “both”. I think it is fair to talk about people having a sort of “default orientation” or psychological trait that causes them to instinctively feel either less or more “in control”. My default psychological state is very much an “internal locus of control”; I blame myself incessantly for things that go badly in my life, reading some level of “if I had made a different decision, things would have gone differently” into pretty much every event in my life, including ones where objectively I didn’t really have that much control over the outcome either way. There are a ton of things about my life that I wish were different/better, and I very often ruminate over why I made the choices I made. In that sense you’d be correct to identify me as someone with a strong psychological “internal locus of control”.

That being said, we actually can analyze data and statistical trends to try and gain insight into what sorts of life outcomes track reliably with non-chosen factors, versus which ones don’t map to any identifiable trends and therefore seem to be one’s where personal agency and choices have a strong effect. I am one of many peoples who have observed that, based on data, the great majority of people end up with more or less exactly the same economic outcomes as their parents and grandparents. Now, this has been significantly less or more true in different countries and different eras. Some places and times genuinely do appear to have varying levels of social/economic mobility. The rise of what we might call the “middle class” took place in different societies at different times, and in some places it still hasn’t happened.

In no society above the level of the hunter-gatherer have people with an IQ of 85 - let’s assume here, for the sake of argument, that IQ is measuring something real and that this factor, whatever it is, has existed among all human populations in history - have, in aggregate, done better economically and socially than people with a 120 IQ. There are little exceptions here and there - like how in our society, we pay professional athletes and musicians far better than they were paid in other times and places - but the pattern does hold and can be measured.

And if IQ is in fact heritable, this means that there is some extent to which outcomes genuinely and objectively are deterministic. Now, we can respond to this as a society in any number of ways! We can suppress knowledge of it, on the premise that the psychological health and “sense of agency” of our citizenry would be profoundly harmed by the widespread acceptance of this knowledge. I’m not even going to argue that this is wrong! (I do think it’s wrong, but I’m not going to make that argument right now.) And certainly it is possible to overestimate how deterministic outcomes actually are. Smart and well-meaning people can overfit their conclusions to insufficient/inconclusive data! Maybe that’s what I’m doing! I don’t think I am, but it’s a real and important question.

So again, we have a situation where there is both a “default psychological orientation”, and there is the objective data (assuming our measurements and collection methods are reliable), and the way that each individual interprets the latter is to a great extent influenced by the former.

Which brings us straight into the third point. The question of whether social structures are imposed upon the indivual from the top down, or do grow organically from the ground up.

I actually don’t think this is really a useful or coherent model at all, so I’m not sure how to respond to it or which side of this illusory binary I’m supposed to fall on. “Both”? “Neither”? “N/A”? In general I don’t think I really understand what people are referring to when they talk about “structures”. I know, it’s odd for a former (self-identified) socialist to admit this, but the whole concept always just sort of bounced off me. I don’t know if society actually has “structures” or not, or which direction they’re imposed from if they do exist. I guess I’m gonna have to say “I pass” on this part of the test and let you decide which bucket to sort me into.

While we're on the topic, Number 4 is the question of what is mankind's "default state"? War or Peace? Tyranny or Freedom? Progressives maintain that it is latter while Conservatives maintain that it is former. The thing that ultimately makes most progressives "progressive" is that they sincerely believe in capital-P Progress.

I think I believe in progress with a lowercase p, but that only some parts of society can progress, whereas on most axes moving in one direction or another isn’t “better or worse” but rather a series of trade-offs. Medical knowledge, for example, can definitely progress. We can in fact develop better - meaning both “more accurate” and “more useful” - models of the human body and the way its internal processes operate. The “four humors” model was not very good, and smart well-meaning doctors had to do their best under that suboptimal model, whereas modern doctors have a better model which allows them to more reliably cure ailments and save lives. Probably most scientific knowledge is like this, although I’m at least sympathetic to arguments that certain types of knowledge were better off without. It’s not a ridiculous concept.

In terms of whether or not different “modes of societal organization” can be said to be “better or worse”, such that movement in one direction along such an axis represents a total improvement for all humans and a move in the other direction represents a setback, this I basically don’t believe at all. We can imagine hypotheticals where this would be true - the imaginary society where everyone is immediately crippled and tortured at birth and lives a life of unremitting forced agony would pretty obviously be improved by people no longer doing that to infants, but such a society has never actually existed and I don’t imagine why it would ever be brought about, so it’s not useful to reason about it. In general, humans today are actually less physically healthy, live shorter and more painful lives, experience less day-to-day leisure and personal agency, etc., than the hunter-gatherers of 10,000 years ago. That being said, the hunter-gatherers would never had successfully landed a man on the moon, or built Notre Dame, or discovered germ theory, because their model of society wasn’t built to optimize for those things. (In fact, it wasn’t “built to” do anything. There was no top-down planning or political theory, as far as we know. It was just an emergent, locally-adaptive way of life, with people who probably didn’t think about whether or not there were other ways to live.)

The advent of agriculture and permanent settlements necessitated the advent of political and economic centralization, private property, and rigid social hierarchies. Was this “progress”? It certainly made life better for a certain class of people. A different set of skills and proclivities was now emphasized, leaving people who excelled at the old values probably less well-off. This was both good and bad! There was no ultimate teleology that such societies were “working toward”, and in fact there were many peoples who remained hunter-gatherers even after farming was introduced, and who competed against the farmers rather than adopting their ways. Was agriculture and “centralized society” always destined to win out and eventually wholly replace hunting and gathering in nearly every place on earth? I don’t know, we can’t do any experiments about this which would help our reasoning, so we’re stuck reasoning based on aesthetics and trade-offs and questions like “Which society would I personally be better off in?” “Which one seems to have led to the most society-wide gains in knowledge/self-mastery/martial glory/egalitarian distribution of resources/whatever considerations my ideology tells me are most important?”

I want humanity to colonize the stars, and therefore I think that the transition from decentralized and communitarian societies to centralized hierarchical superstates was a step in the right direction insofar as it might this outcome more likely. The transition was “progress” along that one particular axis that I care about, even if it may have been a regression among other axes that are more important to other people.

Finally there is the question of Mysticism vs Materialism, more specifically (and particularly relevant to discussions of abortion)is whether the moral value/weight of a human life is something metaphysical, or if it is something material?

On this criterion, I’m just going to fully admit that I’m on the “Materialist” side of this binary, and in that one sense I am unambiguously closer to the “progressives” than I am to you. If this is an issue where it’s important to you to identify Schmittian friends and enemies, I’m your enemy in this specific battle. I just think you’re thinking about abortion the wrong way, and that my way is better. I have no hope of persuading you of this (not because of anything deficient about you nor me, but just because our Inferential Distance™️ is too vast) so I’m not going to attempt to. Ultimately, if abortion becomes the Big Split, I’m going to end up on the other side from you. Fortunately I don’t think abortion will ultimately end up being the determining issue that decides how different political factions re-align in the coming decades. I don’t actually want to be your Enemy - I want you and I to each be able to live very different lives without interfering with each other’s ability to do so - so I certainly hope I’m right about that.

Soooo how’d I do on your test? Again, I don’t actually accept the framing of your model, but if you insist on continuing to rely on it, I hope this will at least be a useful exercise in helping figure out more clearly where and how you and I disagree so strongly. Contrary to your assertion, I don’t expect you to call me “right-wing” because that’s my chosen identity. I honestly believe that the most useful political models, the ones that cleave reality at the joints, show me to actually merit that perception by the “signifiers” such as yourself. If I have not persuaded you otherwise - and I’m betting I haven’t - them you’re welcome to keep calling me whatever you like, and I’m welcome to continue disputing your nomenclature.

Isn't the

Abortion is good if the child is low IQ/degenerate/black.

Perspective the same as the

Conservative: "A child's right to life is paramount, and killing them is wrong.

Perspective if only applied to my high-IQ, non-degenerate, white in-group?

That is something that they share. But there's a big difference in how they get there

The conservative is committed to universalism / believing that we need to help the low-iq and black as much as the high-iq and white. They both suffer, feel, and experience life in the same ways, after all. It's a deeply Christian idea. Also, I think they get to anti-abortion in large part via 'the baby is a weak and vulnerable person so killing them is extra bad'.

The 'maybe it's killing babies, maybe it isn't, it's fine either way' reactionary believes what's valuable in a person is specific to - I'd like to say their capacity for impact, contribution, and deep experience, but it's usually just a confused form of contrarian racist tribalism. But for the idealized reactionary of which maybe 50 exist, the vulnerability of the baby plays much less of a role than their potential to be a Great Man, and then their potential to be a productive member of society. (not a comment about anyone on themotte, just those people generally).

Hlynka, how many fucking times are we going to do this dance? There are other things someone can be other than progressive or mainstream conservative. I have never claimed to be a conservative, nor to have views anywhere remotely close to the median American. My views are also nowhere remotely close to the median progressive. There are other options! How obstinate do you have to be to keep doing this “if it ain’t my specific ideology, it’s progressive” thing? There’s a whole world of possible world views out there, but you are totally incapable of seeing outside of the fake binary you’ve constructed within your own head.

And as for your inability to recognize a simple hyperbolic joke, I don’t really know what to tell you. I’m not going to magically obtain dictatorial power, I wouldn’t actually want it even if it were given to me, and at no point in my life am I going to have any power to put anybody up against the wall. I think that’s pretty obvious to everybody, which is why idly joking about your personal petty enemies should “get the wall” is not actually that uncommon, nor is it indicative of my real political program. I do believe that political violence is coming to this country, and I think it will largely be a good thing when it happens, but I don’t want it to happen to my idiot ex-friends in the San Diego theatre community.

Hlynka, how many fucking times are we going to do this dance?

As many times as you play the tune.

You have a point about people kneejerk complaining about "white progressives," but while you can argue all you like that it's a handful of POC dominating and terrorizing nice white boys like yourself, they would have no power if not for all the white progressives abetting them. You stay in these ultra-woke environments but keep complaining about the wokeness. You can't like everything about the white progressive environment except for the fact that they allow non-whites to have influence. That's part of the environment.

You stay in these ultra-woke environments but keep complaining about the wokeness.

Have you uh… forgotten whom you’re speaking to? The guy who got a degree in theatre and had planned to pursue it as his life’s work, but who gave it up and distanced himself from huge swathes of his social group - burning important and otherwise rewarding relationships which he’d spent over a decade cultivating - primarily because of fundamental incompatibility with the progressive values dominant in that industry? Who’s still rebuilding his professional aspirations from the ground up as a result? That’s the guy you’re accusing of “staying in these ultra-woke environments but complaining about the wokeness”?

You can't like everything about the white progressive environment except for the fact that they allow non-whites to have influence.

Again, an incredibly bizarre accusation to make toward me in particular. You actually believe that my only complaint about wokeness is that some non-white people believe in it? You have my entire posting history to disabuse you of that notion. I’m responding to a specific claim that “privileged white people” are the ones primarily responsible for driving wokeness. I believe that this claim is false. This is not a defense of the ideology, it’s merely a disagreement over the people driving the enforcement of it.

Have you uh… forgotten whom you’re speaking to?

No, I have not. That's my point. As I understand it, you still live and work in that same environment (I don't know how much progress you have made in leaving it, but you seem like you are still very much a theater kid).

Again, an incredibly bizarre accusation to make toward me in particular. You actually believe that my only complaint about wokeness is that some non-white people believe in it?

No, I think you basically like the white progressive environment, you just don't like the non-white people in it (and all the things they bring), and you think non-white people invented wokeness. Well, in a sense they did ("woke" was originally African-American vernacular), but we have had many people here over the years write extensively about how wokeness is just the natural endpoint of the Enlightenment. Which is quintessential white progressivism. Maybe you disagree with that take, but I haven't seen you offer an alternate hypothesis.

I’m responding to a specific claim that “privileged white people” are the ones primarily responsible for driving wokeness.

Yes, and I think that claim is correct.

we have had many people here over the years write extensively about how wokeness is just the natural endpoint of the Enlightenment

I have seen people say this but it makes little sense to me. The Enlightenment celebrated reason, it was a move away from unconditionally accepting orthodoxies about things like science, religion, and the supposed rights of monarchs.

Wokeness, on the other hand, is largely a turning away from reason and towards orthodoxies.

Why would wokeness be the natural endpoint of the Enlightenment?

You're underestimating how much of this is driven by reason.

Transhumanism in general has a declared goal of freeing the mind from the body, which is the ultimate end of a movement which is the rejection of man's natural condition to recreate him in his own image using technics.

That this in turn makes itself into an orthodoxy is just the eternal irony of philosophy: all movements taken to their logical conclusion invert their original goal.

Now reason isn't bad or evil don't get me wrong. But it is indeed its worship that led us here. There is a direct throughline from Kant and German Idealism to the totalitarian modernisms and to post modern subsersive politics.

Such a throughline that some saw this as the conclusion of this style of thinking way back when the French Revolution ignited it all.

But all human history is the rejection of man's "natural condition" to recreate him using technics. The Enlightenment marks an acceleration in this but it's not like humans weren't trying to improve on their natural lot before it, it's just that around the time of the Enlightenment they got much better at it, so much better at it that scientific progress started to seem like it would just keep going and going rather than being something that happened once in a blue moon. Man's "natural condition" is to live naked without knowledge of agriculture or even how to make fire. Man has been rejecting it for hundreds of thousands of years.

I also think that philosophy's impact on politics is overestimated. Totalitarianism would probably have come about one way or another because of the rise of modern technologies that allow near-instant communication and dissemination of propaganda.

As for transgenderism, haven't there been versions of it in various human cultures for thousands of years? Modern transhumanism is not what created it. I doubt that transhumanism even did much to give it its modern, Western shape. Probably most transgender people don't even think in abstract terms of freeing their mind from their body, their concerns are more specific.

all human history is the rejection of man's "natural condition" to recreate him using technics

This is absolutely untrue, and you only believe this because you're a man of the Enlightenment living in a society made according to its principles.

People of the past did not think like this. Technological escape from man's condition was a very secondary concern if you actually look at what they left as artifacts of their thinking.

What you value of what they produced and what they valued of themselves are not the same categories, and people always confuse the two.

Man's "natural condition" is to live naked without knowledge of agriculture or even how to make fire. Man has been rejecting it for hundreds of thousands of years.

You're thinking in tautologies here. All you're attempting to relate nature to here are relationships of production. There are other things in life than making transformed goods that can fit on a spreadsheet. And before the advent of this period dominated by merchants, people thought of those are more important.

Are war, honor, faith and family more or less constitutive of man's natural condition than agriculture and business?

I also think that philosophy's impact on politics is overestimated. Totalitarianism would probably have come about one way or another because of the rise of modern technologies that allow near-instant communication and dissemination of propaganda.

As you know, this is a longstanding debate in historiography. But I think sole technological determinism the likes of which you seem to be supporting here is almost entirely falsified. If only because we're not currently living under Both great men and ideology have a seat at the table of causality. Were Marx and Kant not to exist, the manifestations of the industrial revolution would take a distinctly different character, if through similar means.

Consider how similar and yet different those totalitarianisms of the XXth century are from each other despite being determined by supposedly similar technology.

haven't there been versions of it in various human cultures for thousands of years?

No. Androgyny is eternal and its popularity recurs. Transgenderism in particular (both in ideological terms and in technical terms) is wholly new.

Gender theorists are constantly producing propaganda to pretend the past agrees with their novelty, a stratagem borrowed from the one used for homosexuality, but people of the past did not thing of things in those terms and it doesn't make sense to paint social edge cases of completely different social orders using contemporary social theories. No person born before the 1990s ever was "queer" in the sense these people mean.

This is like saying the proletariat always existed because at any time in history you can point at people who have more than others. Useful propaganda. But sociologically moronic.

But all human history is the rejection of man's "natural condition" to recreate him using technics. The Enlightenment marks an acceleration in this but it's not like humans weren't trying to improve on their natural lot before it, it's just that around the time of the Enlightenment they got much better at it, so much better at it that scientific progress started to seem like it would just keep going and going rather than being something that happened once in a blue moon.

The Enlightenment didn't just accelerate the rejection of the natural condition, it marked a turn where the rejection of that natural condition became the end goal.

For most of history, in Christian Europe at least, technology progressed and people worked to improve their lot, but the main motivation (culturally if not individually) was to help the poor, and to improve people's lives in order to help them better serve their community and God. This motivation wasn't necessarily written down anywhere, because everything in this worldview was about serving God.

The ultimate purpose, the thing that gave people the motivation to get up in the morning and work on improving their lot despite their often terrible material circumstances, was the love of God. The belief that the divine was on their side and cared about them personally, that they were fundamentally flawed in many ways, and that by doing good they could save their soul:

During the Middle Ages, the Church provided education for some and it helped the poor and sick. It was a daily presence from birth to death. In fact, religion was so much a part of daily life that people even said a certain number of prayers to decide how long to cook an egg!

Christian belief was so widespread during this time that historians sometimes call the Middle Ages the “Age of Faith.” People looked to the Church to explain world events. Storms, disease, and famine were thought to be punishments sent by God. People hoped prayer and religious devotion would keep away such disasters. They were even more concerned about the fate of their souls after death. The Church taught that salvation, or the saving of a one’s soul, would come to those who followed the Church’s teachings.

The Enlightenment celebrated reason, it was a move away from unconditionally accepting orthodoxies about things like science, religion, and the supposed rights of monarchs.

"Reason" doesn't mean embracing "The Truth", but rather embracing "whatever I can't personally think of a good counter-argument for, possibly while being actively deceived." The Enlightenment moved away from Christianity; it immediately and enthusiastically adopted novel orthodoxies about science, religion, and the supposed rights of social classes, frequently to disastrous results. The places where it delivered good results are also the places where its push away from Christianity was largely neutralized. The places where it did move away from Christianity, it produced slaughter and oppression.

The basic problem is that human reason is not, in fact, a very good way of figuring out the world around us. If you're familiar with economics, think about economic Central Planning, why it was attractive and why it didn't work. The Enlightenment failed for similar reasons: it assumed it had the answers to questions that it did not, in fact, have the answers to.

See here for a debate on the subject.

I like this post, and liked your previous one. Do you remember where you found these arguments?

I'm especially interested in historical books that focus on this - and discuss the long term rise of reason versus Christianity.

Violence Unveiled touches on this topic if you're curious.

Do you remember where you found these arguments?

I came up with them myself, largely from reading and arguing with people in the various forums that preceded this place. It'd surprise me if someone else hadn't thought it first and better, but if so, I haven't found them yet. Failing that, I've been off-and-on trying to write up a concise encapsulation of my own, but the going is slow.

Thanks for the recommendation!

I don’t think reason is the problem here. I think the notion of democracy as the defining form of government is the problem precisely because it is anti-reason. No reasonable person would allow people who don’t understand a subject weigh in on how it’s to be done.

To give a simple example, the current situation between Russia and Ukraine. Most of us, even here know so little about the subject that it would be ridiculous to give our opinion the same weight as someone with real expertise in Russian and Eastern European politics. We don’t know enough to make good decisions, but of course we do know enough to think we understand how to fight the war, or whether we actually should. It gets worse in science based policies— the average voter is for all practical purposes scientifically illiterate. They don’t have any idea how to decide what science is real, what’s useful, or even what’s dangerous. So, they base it on movies or TV or YouTube videos. When people think about AI, it’s not based on any understanding of what real AI is or does, it’s based on TV or movies. It’s Data VS Terminator, neither of which exist except on celluloid film.

Democracy can work for very simple things. You can probably reasonably vote for local roads and stoplights. But once society gets complex enough, it quickly outstrips the average person’s ability to really understand and make good decisions about every aspect of society. There’s simply too much going on.

The problem is that 'reason' does not provide any sort of moral imperatives on its own. The ultimate state of 'reason' is something like extreme libertarianism - treating every human like homo economicus. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective) as we all know, humans are not like that. So you have a situation where reason tears down Chesterton's fence after fence, and ultimately starts to eat its own tail.

The only reason reason was able to go so far and become so successful at understanding the world was the high trust religious backdrop it developed in, Christianity. When you have reason on its own without a higher end than itself, bad things happen.

Well said.

You can't like everything about the white progressive environment except for the fact that they allow non-whites to have influence.

I retired permanently from performing several years ago. Most of my IRL friends are still people whom I met while in that sphere, because I can’t just magically recreate an entire social network in my thirties. I have complained many times about how it’s easy for right-wingers who grew up in conservative areas, or who were never closely affiliated with any left-wing people or communities, to say, “Just move to a red state, join a church, get new friends, etc.” as if ripping up your entire life and starting over is just a super simple thing for people to do. I’ve burnt a considerable number of bridges by even revealing a fraction of my true beliefs, and I would almost certainly lose what’s left of my friends and my side job if I were outed.

progressive environment, you just don't like the non-white people in it (and all the things they bring)

You have a poor mental model of me. It is very true that I like a lot of things about living among college-educated people with artsy-fartsy tastes; I’ve commented before about how when I attend classical music concerts, I’m acutely aware that the vast majority of the people in the audience with me are not remotely conservative, and that this is not an accident. Progressivism correlates highly with having good taste in music, in film, in literature, etc. That correlation is only partially causative; a lot of it is simply that intelligent and educated people are socialized into progressive values by the sense-making institutions they gravitate toward, as is the case with me, but part of it is also that psychological traits such as openness to experience are related to leftist instincts. I also unapologetically love the urban lifestyle, and for a number of reasons that also correlated with progressivism. It’s not the progressivism that is the appealing part. I’ve said many times that my overriding goal is to figure out how to do my small part toward facilitating a reconciliation of white left-wingers and white right-wingers. Both have an integral part to play in the future of our civilization.

I’ve been severely behind on my effort-posting due to some professional and social obligations as of late, but I had a big effort-post planned about how a recent orchestra performance I attended, which featured a very racially diverse group of young performers, represents the sort of “best-case scenario” of multiracial elitism, as opposed to multiracial populism. I hope to write more about this dynamic in the future. I have numerous non-white friends and colleagues, and my racial views cannot possibly be summarized as simply “not liking the things non-white people bring.”

and you think non-white people invented wokeness

Again, not remotely true, and I’ve explicitly said otherwise. You’re correct that I have not laid out a comprehensive genealogy of “wokeness” because I myself am still working out exactly what I think the most useful and accurate model/explanation is. Certainly the Enlightenment is a factor, but there are lots of other ideological strains that contributed - transcendentalism, unitarian utopianism, even ancient religious traditions like gnosticism play a part. It’s a very complicated story, and in no sense whatsoever do I give non-whites any prominent part to play in it, at least not until up until the 50’s, or a bit earlier if you frame Jews as non-white. Again, you’ve assumed a ton about my worldview that is not supported by my actual statements.

Just move to a red state, join a church, get new friends, etc.” as if ripping up your entire life and starting over is just a super simple thing for people to do.

I don't often fall back on my progressive bona fides, as the only child of a lesbian mother. I had 'two moms' before there were books about it.

You don't even have to move to a red state. In our very blue state, we've joined a local traditional church, and made new friends that are on the same page regarding the madness and degeneracy of current year.

Your attachment to an urban lifestyle may be working against you here.

I totally agree on the culture part. It shouldn’t be simply abandoned because it’s been more or less co-opted by the progressive elites as if they own it. And tbh I think honestly unless it’s reclaimed, it’s going to be lost when civilization rebuilds itself in the West. Good art belongs to everyone, and I don’t see why it has to be marked as progressive to read good books or listen to good music.

The eschewing of those kinds of art by the counterculture is part of why conservatives have such a hard time making good art. They don’t learn to understand good art, and how and why it’s good, so they end up creating childish art that can’t really compare. Christian media generally sucks mostly because they have to resort to telling rather than showing and can’t create characters who disagree without having them be cartoon characters.

This is a good post, and it echoes a lot of what I think personally.

I think the future for conservatives is rescuing the blue tribe, not throwing in our lot with the red tribe. I like classical music, and museums, and old cities with beautiful car-free corridors. And conversely I am disgusted by big trucks, obesity, Walmart, and pit bulls.

If the blue tribe and the red tribe are going to different planets and I need to choose, I'm going with the blue tribe. That's who my people are. In my opinion, they are the best people, even if they are more likely to be captured by the woke mind virus. For me, the ideal outcome is for the blue tribe to return to sanity rather than to let the red tribe run things.

I used to want to be part of the blue tribe but after seeing how they treated the red tribe since around 2008 I just don't anymore. The condescension and classism is so hideous. How can you see people who you feel culturally superior to and have contempt toward them rather than compassion and empathy for their condition? Yes, walmart is a hideous place, but god so is Baltimore. The red tribe likes big trucks and guns because they're tiny scared people in a big scary country. If you're taking the bait and seeing them as some Jan 6 insurrectionist threat rather than people with decades of subpar education under a semi hostile cultural millieu that confuses them and your response is "ew, no thanks" then I think that view is morally repugnant and I don't want to take part.

Red tribers like big trucks and guns because they're fun, not because they're "tiny scared people in a big scary country" (or "bitter clingers" as Obama put it).

You can have compassion and empathy for the lower classes without wanting them to actually run things.

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I don't think I do have a poor mental model of you.

I also unapologetically love the urban lifestyle, and for a number of reasons that also correlated with progressivism. It’s not the progressivism that is the appealing part.

Yes, I understand it's not the progressivism per se that is the appealing part. But for all the reasons you mentioned, the things you like are basically "white progressive culture." You don't like that it's progressive. I kind of sympathize with your dilemma (not a lot), but I think you are pointing in the wrong direction by insisting it's not white progressives responsible for the things you don't like.

My entire point is that none of those things used to be the exclusive province of progressives. Classical music was a very right-wing tradition for a long time. Ditto for literature. We find ourselves in a very odd and atypical moment in history, in which the vast majority of smart and high-human-capital people are left-wing. There’s no reason this needs to be the case now, it hasn’t been the case for very long, and my contention is that it will not continue to be the case for very much longer.

Abandoning the cities, deriding high culture as faggy elitist status-signaling (as a number of conservatives on this very site have done) and going all-in on rural populism is a toxic dead end for the right wing, and I would rather actually try and rescue those parts of our culture - the BEST parts of our culture - from the mind virus of minoritarian identity communism. Being a white identitarian is inextricably tied up with this; I believe that white people are largely doing this to ourselves, and that all we need to do is stop. However, if we don’t stop very soon, things genuinely will be out of our hands and those who hate us truly will have the whip hand. Right now, white progressives are allowing vindictive race communists, like the individuals I mentioned in my original comment, because they’ve forgotten what made white people great, and forgotten that they have the strength to fight back.

It’s like if a huge jacked guy was allowing himself to be bullied by a scrawny manlet, simply because he had some psychological condition that caused him to forget that he has muscles. Some perceptual blindness that causes him to ignore the evidence of his own strength right before his eyes. He could snap out of it in a second and flatten the bully, but something is stopping him from doing so. And there are people like me standing off to the side yelling, “Bro, you’re fucking massive, just pummel this guy!” And he’s like, “Nah man, I’m puny and weak, and plus, even if I was super strong, it would be morally wrong of me to fight back.” That’s essentially how I see racial dynamics in this country, at least as it concerns whites and blacks.

Being a white identitarian is inextricably tied up with this; I believe that white people are largely doing this to ourselves, and that all we need to do is stop.

I'm bemused that you just wrote a long screed saying at greater length what I said above - which you claimed was wrong.

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Or it could be that black progressives have different origins and I have different interactions with them.

It is hilarious when you can set them against each other.

Your mixed race white progressives are very different from the Black Hebrew Israelites I am used to dealing with.

The Internet was full of a bunch of socially awkward, socially shunned nerds, and the Internet offered them a venue not only to express themselves, but also vent their frustrations. Once Facebook arrived upon the scene, the Net was colonized by a bunch of privileged progressive whites who began imposing their cultural norms on geek culture - a form of colonization.

I disagree with this narrative a lot.

tl;dr: it's not the normies that fought the old internet and won. It's the lolcows.

Old internet places were normie-proof. The first and most simple reason for this was that normies have lives to live, no-life internet losers do not. So in any given area the internet culture was always dictated by the no-lifers since they are always there.

A secondary reason is emergent culture. When similar people engage with one another, you get a form of culture. These people were, back in the day, no life white dudes. The cultural expression was indirectly just young white men. Not being that sticks out like a sore thumb.

The third reason is that caring is weak. If you care about something you can be made fun of. If you value something it can be desecrated. So in order to be bulletproof you can't care about anything.

The thing that killed these places and led to the 'New Internet' we have today were a few things. Primarily it was different kinds of no-lifers mixed with grifters mixed with weak men with power. /v/ after GamerGate is a great example. Grifters create drama, no-lifers join in to point and laugh, weak men with power, i.e. mods and moot, side with grifters and /v/ is turned into a 'no fun allowed' zone since weak mods are enticed by grifters.

That wouldn't be enough to kill everything off though. The second nail in the coffin can be seen with reddit. Starting with places like SRS. It turns out super motivated no-lifers who obsessively care are much better than unmotivated no-lifers who have made it their entire thing to not care at all. Especially when the weak men with power are completely ready to abandon fun in favor of attention from women, since that happens to be a thing men care about a lot regardless of what they say on the internet.

The third nail in the coffin was the 'New Internet' realizing that having no-lifers on the internet laugh at you doesn't matter all that much. Sure it hurts, and the old no lifers can get under your skin and create better internet memes and whatever. But in real life they have no power. So what does it matter? Just ban, laugh, and lie. The old truth can never reach anyone that way.

The final nail is simply that you can out-no-life the old no-lifers. No one is 16-25 forever. Sooner or later real life rears its head and you stop being permanently online. And for a lot of white men that happens. But what if you are a professional no-lifer? What if you are way past thirty and your entire life revolves around modding the biggest social media sites? The ultimate NEET lifestyle so coveted by the old no-lifer. Living rent free in real life. But instead of the old idealism of just playing video games, going to the gym and buying the occasional hooker, you intend to enforce your will unto the internet with ideological fanaticism and fervor that defies reality and reaches depths of depravity so great that no shock documentaries of hoarders or maniacal weirdos even come close.

The new internet is the lolcow. And they make sure anyone who laughs gets the stick.

If you want a glimpse of the future, look at Call of Duty. A bunch of transparent grifters running around a multi billion dollar game franchise desperate to please the lolcow community managers so they can get more power, status and money to continue grifting off of the sub-100 IQ brown normie playerbase. The entire thing is so degenerate and disgusting I have no words to describe it. But it's the norm.

I think what invited the normies was the advent of apps for common media sites. Back in the day, if you wanted to be a part of a forum, you had to first find it, register and go specifically to that site. It wasn’t a sub-Reddit in a huge forum-of-forums model, it wasn’t Facebook or Twitter-X where everything was easy enough to find. And because it wasn’t app-based, you’d have to either stumble on it from elsewhere, search for something related, or be told about it. This helped protect the community from being overly saturated by outsiders with little connection and a chip on their shoulders. The community formed was tighter because it was shared interests and a small enough community where most people knew each other, and it wasn’t shot through with people drive-by posting and being drive-by offended. The internet was a series of “small towns” in a sense. You’d have people who knew each other talking to other people who knew you.

With aggregator sites (Digg, Reddit, and so on) and general social media (Facebook and X), there’s no need to become part of the community. If you type in the name of a given sub-forum, or click a link from the front page, you’ll not only be there, but able to participate even if you know nothing. With an app, you just open the app, look for the sub-forum, and if what you see is shocking or offensive or weird, you and every other tourist gets to weigh in.

Tourists coming into the space was always a thing. They would either get curious and lurk after getting told off or they would leave. That doesn't explain why old communities were culturally replaced.

It's not the normie who has the power to 'weigh' in on anything. Mod cliques do what they want to do. They enforced their rules from the top down. And it's not even that they catered to normies. They just enforced lib/progressive/leftist ideological orthodoxy because that's what the lolcows like in real life. The ultimate ideology that says you can't laugh at them anymore.

Take any regular reddit post that gets locked because too many users are noticing something about black people. You get the typical condescending reddit mod "I guess we just can't play nice today" or whatever. Normies just put up with it because they are normies, they have a real life to live and care about, after all. The mods see themselves as curators of comments that the normies can be allowed to see.

/v/ was a great example of how extremely top down things are. Moot bans discussion on GamerGate because of his real life social circle. This was so contrary to the wants of the userbase that it spawned an entire splinter site.

Same thing, to a lesser extent, with reddit and voat.

I think it would be much fairer to say normies don't actually have opinions. They just read them. In a war of internet minorities, no-lifers lost to the lolcows.

If you want a glimpse of the future, look at Call of Duty. A bunch of transparent grifters running around a multi billion dollar game franchise desperate to please the lolcow community managers so they can get more power, status and money to continue grifting off of the sub-100 IQ brown normie playerbase.

I'm aware of CoD but never played it. What is the phenomenon you reference here? It sounds interesting.

It's hard to give concrete examples. It's a feel you get from being in the feed or the bubble so to speak. Compared to games I used to spend a lot of time with CoD just feels dumber. The way people talk, how they type, how they reason.

But the easiest example would be the classic of developers inviting streamers to go play the game early, the streamers then rave about how amazing it is, then the game is released and it's crap. An apology is made by the streamers. Then you repeat the process for the next annual release after having complained along with your following that the previous game was actually bad even though you recommended everyone part with their money before it was even out. Despite the exact same thing happening last year.

This isn't an issue isolated to CoD, but the way it plays out in CoD is so extremely brazen and ridiculous it's just beyond any reason. The timescale is just so short. If you are not stupid you recognize the process and stop buying the game. The cycle of buying, complaining and then just a year later doing it all again is pathetic. But as far as I know it's the biggest gaming franchise in the world and it's been doing this for years.

a historic flame war against rival operating system engineer Andrew Tanenbaum

This is good stuff.

While I could go into a long story here about the relative merits of the two designs, suffice it to say that among the people who actually design operating systems, the debate is essentially over. Microkernels have won... it is now all over but the shoutin`.

This reminds me of how I compared the US Constitution to an open-source microkernal, and the US Code to all the other operating system items necessary to support the microkernal, and the individual states to various Linux distros.

Unlike actual microkernels, the constitution is actually running in production.

So what sort of reeducation/disciplinary actions are the Canadians imposing on Peterson? It sounds like we’ll get to see the course content, however will he have to take a test at the end and falsify his beliefs to pass?

My understanding from having seen a couple interviews with him is that he will refuse to attend the training regardless of whether he wins or loses the court appeals. In which case it's likely they will escalate and revoke his professional license as punishment for refusing to comply.

But the article says he said he will take the training publicly, maybe a live stream.

Liberals read, conservatives watch Youtube live.

If only Linus, who was in a more powerful position, had the stones to just refuse.

You know, for years now I've felt like the internet of old that I grew up with had been completely ruined by normies. The flame wars, the shit talking, the profoundly creative obscenity, the irreverence and iconoclasm. The Internet that gave us goatse, stile project, or "I Like to Watch", and honest to god classic I highly recommend not watching around children or at work.

Then I started spending some time at Kiwi Farms since they documented the schizophrenic decline and eventual suicide of an old associate of mine. Many community members who knew him blamed Kiwi Farms for "bullying" him, but I mostly blamed them for enabling his obvious mental decline. For giving him the illusion that he's not mentally ill, but instead a special snowflake who is misunderstood. It eventually followed the arc of many schizophrenics where he lost his job, his marriage broke up, he violently assaulted his parents who took him in, and then he died on the streets. The final straw was clearly going off his prescription meds, self medicating with god knows what, and attacking his parents. Not Kiwi Farms noticing.

Regardless, everything I used to love about the internet of yore still survives on Kiwi Farms as it turns out. I highly recommend it.

The hell, you knew Terry A. Davis IRL?

You forgot your (pbuh)

Nah, a different schizophrenic. They're basically all the same it seems.

Kiwi Farms

Where would you go to find it now? Ever since it antagonised that politically influential anime enjoyer I haven't been able to find a trace of it.

kiwifarms.st the .pl domain was seized by a german provider.

Think the onion link generally still works with TOR to my knowledge. He had a .pl site up for a while but checking now it looks down at the moment.

Seems to reverse causality. We're not becoming robots or acting like them, we developed polite speech first and then insisted the robots follow it. As they say, it never costs you anything to be kind, and a robot fundamentally doesn't care in the same way we do. You can hurl abuse all you want at it and there is no satisfaction in the possibility that it might go home and cry that day.

There's no conflict between being polite and expressing yourself with creativity and individuality. Nahman isn't complaining that corporate communications require politeness (indeed, an absence of politeness would be a big red flag for an unpleasant work environment), but rather that corporate communications in the Anglosphere tends to be extremely dry and deracinated and heavily reliant on prefab canned phrases ("going forward", "if you could just circle back to me", "per my last email"). In other words, corporate drones are NPCs. Politeness isn't an inherent hallmark of robotic speech (it would be fairly trivial to make a ChatGPT knockoff which swears like a sailor), but speaking in canned phrases absolutely is, because a computer program can only do what it's instructed to.

I'd argue that people just don't care enough to express their creativity in corporate communications. Once you have a phrase that people understand, no one is going to bust their heads in coming up with a better one. Doesn't seem like a case of people being robots as much as it is people being lazy. Or perhaps those two are really the same.

I've thought about this a lot in the context of the observation "the left can't meme". The idea is that memes (or jokes more generally) advocating a woke or leftist worldview tend to be less funny than apolitical memes, or memes advocating an anti-woke, classical liberal or conservative worldview. An alternative phrasing applies it to creators of memes rather than the memes themselves, so that even an apolitical meme created by someone known to be woke or left will tend to be less funny than an apolitical meme created by someone who isn't. Anecdotally I think this is a very accurate description, and most leftist memes (and jokes and comedy more generally) seem intended to provoke clapter rather than actual laughter. In some cases, "stand-up comedy" in which the audience isn't supposed to laugh (which we might have traditionally called "spoken-word performance" or "lectures" or "sermonizing") is the explicitly intended point.

For argument's sake, let's assume the premise of the meme. Why is woke/leftist comedy less funny than other kinds of comedy? Your point is essentially my explanation for the phenomenon. Effective comedy and humour depends on creativity and the element of surprise. Wokeness depends on absolute ideological conformity and rigorous adherence to a set of linguistic prescriptions which are essentially arbitrary ("coloured people" is out; "people of colour" is in), vary depending on the perceived identity of the speaker (who has "N-word" privilege? Does the one-drop rule apply?), and subject to a euphemism treadmill which seems to accelerate every year. It should come as a surprise to no one that comedians cannot reasonably be expected to serve two masters.

And it's no good telling these comedians "just write the funny jokes, then go through them with a fine-toothed comb and replace all the naughty words with items from this official list of PMC and HR-approved ones". Replacing a single word in a punchline can be the difference between uproarious laughter and dead silence, as any skilled standup comedian knows. But at a deeper level than that, we're talking about habits of mind. Once you get into the habit of obsessively overthinking and analysing everything before you say it, walking on eggshells for fear of saying anything which could be taken as offensive, the funny jokes simply won't occur to you anymore. It's impossible to write a funny joke when you're living in mortal fear of your career being destroyed because you couldn't remember whether you're supposed to say "unhoused person" or "person suffering from unhousedness" this month.

Comedy is, by its nature, subversive. It doesn't have to be politically subversive necessarily, but it needs to subvert expectations. Taken to its extreme, like Andy Kaufmann, it can even subvert the idea that a comedian is supposed to tell jokes.

The problem with woke comedians is that they are limited. Their worldview is dominant. So woke comedians like Amy Schumer are boxed in. They can't tell jokes about politics. They can't tell jokes about society - not funny ones at least. So they try to mine the existing sources of taboo they can find, for example toilet humor. But it's all been done a million times. We basically expect female comedians to make jokes about their vagina nowadays. That's why those jokes never land and Amy Schumer is cringe as fuck. But it was probably mind-blowing in the 1970s or whatever.

Being against the current paradigm lets you be funny in a lot of different ways. Being for whatever's cool now is by definition not funny.

By and large no-one can meme, at least if the goal is to meet the exacting humor standards of extremely online weirdoes who have fried their brain with a mental diet of years of image boards and other social media.

Your modal right-wing meme is not "dissident humor", it's a boomer uncle posting a picture of laughing Minions with a Comic Sans text "How is it that the Left wants to tell you what to think, when they can't tell a girl from a boy?"

Speaking as an extremely online weirdo who has fried his brain with a mental diet of years of image boards and social media, it really isn't that hard to make me laugh, chuckle or smile. If I scroll through my Instagram feed for ten minutes, I can reliably expect to laugh at at least one image I see, whether it's a meme or a screenshot of a tweet or a silly video. (I would say the overwhelming majority of content that makes me laugh isn't political at all.) And yet this is a bar that explicitly woke/leftist memes, jokes and standup consistently fail to meet. Oftentimes the purpose of the ostensible joke seems less about making the audience laugh (even in a supercilious "ha ha our opponents are so lame and stupid" way) than merely signalling allegiance to the cause i.e. clapter.

Even assuming wokes and dissidents are equally endowed with humour, the political domination of the former creates a selection effect. Any leftist joke, funny or not, is allowed to spread. People repeat it, if only to signal conformity and obedience. But non-cathedral-approved funnies face suppression, and only the most laughable survive. One will share them only if their quality outweighs the social cost imposed on the sharer for outing themself as enjoying egregious entertainment.

Speaking from my own experience in the corporate world I have experienced enormous cognitive load trying to pick and choose every single word I utter on the web, for fear of angering some white progressive who will deliberately misconstrue my words and read offense into even the most benign terminology, presumably to gain some sort of moral ammunition to volley in my direction when the opportunity presents itself, and can then return victoriously to the tribe for having felled another deplorable.

Even themotte isn't safe from such behaviour. Our well-read Russian friend (currently in exile in Turkey) accidently used the Russian notation for quotation («I am a Berliner.»). After an accusation of anti-semitism (ironically, not by a leftist) due the second poster mistaking guillemet for the triple parenthesis, a third poster explained the difference. Someone reported the third poster to the admins and his post was [removed]. This was the straw which broke the camels back and led JabbaTGreek to lead his flock to independent pastures.

What effects does needing to change the way you speak, your accent, the language(s) and vocabulary you use, have upon your own internal notions of self, the external representations of your identity to the world at large, and indeed, the way you think?

Orwell's thoughts on this topic are well-known, inability to express dissent leads to an inability to even think dissentient thoughts. But on the second hand, lingusts today think that while the Strong Sapir-Whorf (language determines thought) is false, the Weak (language influences and shapes thought). Mathematicians also agree that in their field at least, their version of WSW (notation influences mathematics) is also true. Correct notation makes it easier make generalizations which are true, and correctly obscures feneralizations which are false.

JabbaTGreek to lead his flock to independent pastures.

Where?

This website that you're currently posting on.

Having charity and kindness being rules here was a mistake. Our great enemy has no concept of truth as we'd understand it. I'd accuse them of being habitual liars, but the dichotomy of truth and lies simply is not in their world view. In this environment where you are required to take their truth-void statements "charitably", it's impossible to grapple with them. Think of Darwin.

Furthermore, they have hacked our empathy to such an extend that our truth is offensive to them and cannot be spoken under rules dictated by "kindness". We are constantly forced into using their terminology. It's not mutilating and sterilizing children, it's "Trans health care".

If this place in an experiment, it's failed.

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If you want this place but without the charity and kindness rule, then what's that supposed to be?

Oopen discussion without charity and kindness rules? You'll get shouted down by the more numerous party.

Bilious contrarians heaping abuse upon absent bien-pensants? 4chan still exists, enjoy.

Supposedly very intelligent contrarians organizing to topple woke orthodoxy? Ask yourself why that is not happening already.

I disagree with kindness, charity is worthwhile though something of a hopeless cause. Someone else said it here but kindness is an insidious term that has been weaponised politically, eg COVID and trans issues.

The term I favour is civility. Civility is a form, so isn't as loaded, and doesn't require people to hide any of their views or fail to call people out, it just requires that it's done with style, panache even. As in a debate where someone says someone is stupid but with a witty retort.

I thought kindness meant kindness towards debate opponents, not the kindness towards the entire world that modern orthodoxy demands. But sure enough, civility should be sufficient in its stead.

I'm sure it does mean the narrower definition but even then I think for certain people it might encourage a certain holding back. Any term has the problem of where the agreed threshold is and they also overlap, the duty of civility derives from some consideration that is a kindness.

But kindness is deeper and sometimes it's not clear what is kind, ie giving a streetperson money that you are sure they will buy drugs with, or the tradition of fierce wisdom-telling people what they might need to hear even if they will find it unkind. Now, we're not in a spiritual or personal community here so I don't advocate for fierce wisdom, there should be protocols that understand the nature of the space. But this fits better with the less loaded term of civility in my view.

Who is "our great enemy", here? Personally, I'd say that my great enemy are people unwilling or unable to extend charity and kindness to those holding viewpoints or values they disagree with.

Having charity and kindness being rules here was a mistake.

Not sure what you mean by this. Charity and kindness in debate have been norms that have been useful for far longer than wokeism, even if wokeism is taking those rules to the extreme. Baby and the bathwater, and all that.

Charity is one of those things where some people need more, some people need less, and you can't aim the advice at the people who need it. And the reason we've come up with the quokka idea is that rationalists have a habit of not understanding that attacks are attacks and treating them with excess charity, like Scott not thinking that Cade Metz was malicious from the very start and if he had only been nicer to Metz, Metz would have written a completely fair article, or like this post.

It's not always bad to be a quokka.

Scott's star has never shined brighter. How many billionaires read his writing? I think I remember he's making 600k/year from Substack. Probably more now.

Scott may be a quokka but it's working for him.

Meanwhile nobody cares about this Cade Metz creature except that he wrote about Scott. That will probably be his epitaph: "Wrote a hit piece on a beloved and respected public intellectual". Writing that just now makes me feel sorry for the guy. Scott crushed him like a bug without even meaning to.

What does 'quokka' even mean here? Scott intentionally hides his belief in [thing about race] while still hinting at it once in a while (e.g. in the Galton Erlich Buck post). I don't think he has any illusions about the media being good and nice on that topic.

Scott's star has never shined brighter.

At what cost?

When was the last time he wrote anything people here bother quoting anymore? Besides "Scott wrote a thing which is a good opportunity for my more interesting post on the topic" type deals.

When was the last time he wrote anything people here bother quoting anymore?

I think there's something to this, but >80% of scott's old posts that I like the most aren't about the culture war. Control Group Is Out Of Control, Different Worlds, etc. Those seemed to have slowed down too (probably?) so I'm not sure if that's the cause.

I thought Radicalising the Romanceless was some of his best work to be perfectly honest, and I think that gets incredibly culture-warry. But to continue being honest I haven't been reading Astral Codex Ten nearly as much as Slatestarcodex and the writing seems less compelling when I do.

Scott Alexander went from being one of the best writers in the world writing the most interesting articles with a comment section of gold attracting the best thinkers in the world getting to the naked causes of many problems we now face to Scott Siskind, a forgettable content producer who makes good money on substack.

If Cade Metz is a forgettable nobody, it makes this story all the more tragic. I think in a couple decades, people will still talk about Scott Alexander and some of the articles he wrote. I do not think the same is true of Scott Siskind.

Maybe I'm being harsh, but watching Scott cower and slink away to come back different was such a disappointment to me.

Meanwhile nobody cares about this Cade Metz creature except that he wrote about Scott.

We're in a bubble. Scott seems important only because of that. And Metz is a Times writer. This inherently means that a lot of people care about what he says.

That will probably be his epitaph: "Wrote a hit piece on a beloved and respected public intellectual".

Plenty of people told similar lies about Gamergate. It's pretty obvious by now that none of them will be chiefly remembered for those lies. We don't control the discourse, and in most places where it's relevant you can't even suggest that anything said about Gamergate was a lie. And yes, it still gets brought up every so often.

And this pattern extends back in time. "White Flight", the history of race relations generally, erasure of the anti-suffragettes, and so on. The control has existed for much of the last three hundred years; what changed is that some few people have become aware of it.

Scott's star has never shone brighter.

His star shone brighter when he was, briefly, one of the best writers in the world, looking directly at the nature and causes of the core problem eating our society.

I'm sure he's making more money now, but then he had a solid shot at making a difference. Not many draw that hand, and he folded.

I think charity is fine, but it must be in service to telling the truth. That’s where the liberals have weaponized kindness and charity. In the hierarchy of speech values, truth must weigh much higher than charity. You can insist that people not be antagonistic about the way they tell truth as they understand it, but the truth is often unkind and makes people uncomfortable. It’s not kind perhaps, to suggest that jumping off the roof won’t result in flight, but it’s absolutely true that gravity will pull the roof jumper back to earth. There can even be a sort of backhanded cruelty in withholding truths in the name of kindness. Telling a middling student with a C- average who doesn’t read on grade level to go to university and major in whatever they want is absolutely not kind, because the truth is that such a student is unlikely to be gainfully employed in white collar work. You don’t have to call them stupid, but if telling them that maybe they won’t make it as a lit major is unkind, well, letting them face the consequences without a warning is cruel.

But you aren't describing the kind of "kindness" we enforce here. This is why periodic complaints like @WhiningCoil's annoy me. They complain that they aren't allowed to "tell the truth." The fuck? We have Holocaust deniers here. We have white nationalists here. We have hard HBDers here. People openly talk about dumb people not being fit for university educations, trans women being men, and all kinds of other unkind "truths" here. None of that gets people modded. Going annoyingly on and on and on about the same thing over and over (like our resident Joo-poster), yes. Snarling insults, yes. Strawmanning your enemies as zombies, yes. But you are mischaracterizing what "charity" means the same way Whining does.

My comment was more based on the general concept of the kind of kindness that pervades much of the rest of the internet. It’s always felt a bit patronizing to me to kindly pat people on the head and tell them exactly what they want to hear and that they’re wonderful even if they’re terribly flawed and refusing to work on those flaws. Such things are not only lies, but unkind in more ways than one. It’s patronizing to assume that a person is so weak that they’ll crumble at the first hint of challenge to things they believe in. It’s flawed because allowing untruths to continue often hurts the very people that it’s intended to help. And I think just society-wise, it prevents us from dealing with problems straight on.

I don’t believe for a minute that happens here. I’m sure you like every other human have biases. But I think an honest person would see that we’re at least trying to get it right. Other places aren’t like that. Even if you’re being nice, saying something other people don’t like is going to get modded.

I absolutely agree. Postmodernism and the idea that there is no objective Truth is probably the most pernicious thing that has happened to our society. It's difficult to stop however, precisely because the postermodernists define the entire battlefield.

I think that something like Jordan Peterson's view is the right way to fight back, although I also believe we can build a lot further on his basic ideas. He claims that even if we can't tell there's objective good, most people aren't willing to bite the bullet and will call the Nazis, or Japan's rape of Nanking, or other horror stories objectively evil. From there, even if we can't necessarily agree on what's good, we at least have an idea of what not to do.

And if you take evil being a real force seriously, that means that every time you tell a lie, even to yourself, you contribute to the downfall of us all. You push us back towards the concentration camps, the torture, madness, and genocide. Truth is what keeps us from those things, and as you say charity cannot become an end in itself. Like rationality, it's an excellent tool but a malevolent master.

He claims that even if we can't tell there's objective good, most people aren't willing to bite the bullet and will call the Nazis, or Japan's rape of Nanking, or other horror stories objectively evil. From there, even if we can't necessarily agree on what's good, we at least have an idea of what not to do.

The Nazis and invading Japanese would likely strenuously agree with you that objective good exists, and furthermore, that their actions are objectively good. Pushing ethical relativism to the point that you're reserving judgment on genocide is a recipe for disaster, but having such conviction in the objective righteousness of your cause that you're willing to commit atrocities in the name of the greater good is just the mirror image failure mode. See the people in this thread ranting about our Great Enemy - do you think that attitude is any more conducive to a thriving society than the people they loathe?

Planting a flag wholly in the objectivist or relativist camps is fraught for different reasons, in my opinion. Perhaps planting a flag wholly in any camp is fraught, and everything in moderation (except for moderation) remains the wisest course.

The Nazis and invading Japanese would likely strenuously agree with you that objective good exists, and furthermore, that their actions are objectively good.

Well, they're wrong. Part of moral objectivism is that people can be deluded, yes, but their opinions are wrong. And the world came together and agreed that they were wrong.

having such conviction in the objective righteousness of your cause that you're willing to commit atrocities in the name of the greater good is just the mirror image failure mode.

You see my moral objectivism is more like: "committing atrocities in general is wrong, for any ends whatsoever, whoever uses those means is evil."

The people ranting in this thread about a Great Enemy are hopefully not evil, but I'm sure some of them are. I'm not sure we understand each other very well - can you clarify your arguments against moral objectivism?