Ideas

Wrapping for Something Vile

Peter Risdon slaps Chris Dillow’s testicles. Metaphorically, I mean:   

It’s more appropriate to talk of Marxists being indoctrinated than it is most people, who take less doctrinal, more experience-based and pragmatic approaches to issues. Marxism belongs with traditional religions to a bracket of improbable, dogma-based belief systems that require faith to maintain, in the teeth of what could politely be called conflicting data. As with traditional religions, you get ‘Why I am still a Marxist’ and ‘Why I am no longer a Marxist’ essays and columns – Chris himself wrote one – which are very similar to ‘Why I am still/no longer a Christian’ type pieces.

You don’t get ‘Why I am still a slightly conservative pragmatist’ essays in the same way.

Oh, there’s more


Elsewhere (115)

Robert Stacy McCain on atrocious feminist writing: 

Her paucity of ideas and her unwillingness to do actual research led Mary Daly to the crucial insight that consumers of radical feminist books didn’t really care about facts or logic or coherent argument. No, the feminist readership consists of disgruntled misfits who want someone to give voice to their inchoate rage. My theory, then, is that Daly discovered she could spend a few hours a week sitting in front of a word-processor, probably with a supply of whiskey and ice near at hand, typing any kind of stream-of-consciousness nonsense that popped into her head. So long as her rants were aimed at the phallocratic patriarchy, and invoked the celebration of radical liberated womanhood, the incoherent nature of Daly’s prose was actually a feature, not a bug. No one could refute her “arguments,” because no one could make sense of them.

Peter Risdon notes the modesty of a certain Marxoid titan: 

It’s as though each narcissistic personality disorder has its own unique signature.

And Theodore Dalrymple on assault, sentimentality and moral cowardice: 

I was alarmed but not altogether surprised to read that Marie… did not want [her assailant] to be locked up but rather that they should receive a punishment “so that they understand.” Understand what, precisely? That hitting a defenceless woman in the face ten times with a knuckleduster isn’t a nice thing to do? But they understood this already, only too well: It was precisely their understanding that impelled them to do it… Presumably Marie had in mind something such as psychoanalysis, perhaps mixed with a little compulsory social work or planting flowers in municipal flowerbeds. This is like trying to talk reason to Pol Pot at the apogee of his power, to get him to stand down by persuading him that what he was doing was wrong. 

If Miss A suddenly finds herself being beaten by Thug B – repeatedly, ostentatiously, with premeditation and knuckledusters – and then insists her assailant should face only the most mild and inconsequential punishment, this looks an awful lot like moral preening. “See how lenient and saintly I am.” The next victim of thug B – and there usually is a next victim – may not appreciate this display of moral (self-)elevation. 

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments.


And Now a Word from Our Sponsors

For readers who missed last week’s fundraising post, this blog is now an Amazon affiliate. Which means that, should you do any shopping via this link in the UK, or this link in the US, or using the Amazon search widgets at the top left and right of this page, your host receives a small fee at no extra cost to you. If that’s not an incentive to shop, and shop deliriously, I don’t know what is. 

Among the items already bought this way are several books found on my own shelves, including Fabian Tassano’s excellent Mediocracy, a sort of devil’s dictionary of modern inversions and dishonesties; David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin’s One-Party Classroom, an eye-widening overview of dogma and question-begging masquerading as education; and Thomas Sowell’s no less marvellous Intellectuals and Society, which was discussed here and here. An extract:

If you happen to believe in free markets, judicial restraint, traditional values, etc., then you are just someone who believes in free markets, judicial restraint and traditional values. There is no personal exaltation resulting from those beliefs. But to be for “social justice” and “saving the environment” or to be “anti-war” is more than just a set of beliefs about empirical facts. This vision puts you on a higher moral plane as someone concerned and compassionate, someone who is for peace in the world, a defender of the downtrodden…

In short, one vision makes you somebody special and the other vision does not. These visions are not symmetrical. Because the vision of the anointed is a vision of themselves as well as a vision of the world, when they are defending that vision they are not simply defending a set of hypotheses about external events, they are in a sense defending their very souls – and the zeal and even ruthlessness with which they defend their vision are not surprising under these circumstances.

Should anyone feel compelled to make a direct contribution to the upkeep of this blog, and thereby boost my self-esteem, there’s a PayPal button top left. And by all means use the comments to suggest other items of possible interest. And thanks to Pierce. 


Elsewhere (110)

Via dicentra, Kevin D Williamson on the many heads of modern feminism

Feminism is not an idea or a collection of ideas but a collection of appetites wriggling queasily together like a bag of snakes… A useful definition is this: “Feminism is the words ‘I Want!’ in the mouths of three or more women, provided they’re the right kind of women.” Feminism must therefore accommodate wildly incompatible propositions - e.g., (1) Women unquestionably belong alongside men in Marine units fighting pitched battles in Tora Bora, but (2) really should not be expected to be able to perform three chin-ups. Or: (1) Women at Columbia are empowered by pornography, but (2) women at Wellesley are victimised by a statue of a man sleepwalking in his Shenanigans. And then there is Fluke’s Law: (1) Women are responsible moral agents with full sexual and economic autonomy who (2) must be given an allowance, like children, when it comes to contraceptives.

Walter Russell Mead on how to ruin your life

Enrol in a college you can’t afford. Take really easy, fun courses [e.g., Politicizing Beyoncé, or The Sociology of Hip-Hop: The Theodicy of Jay-Z]. Don’t worry about marketable skills. Blame society for the consequences (unemployment) of your attitude problem. Then demand the government (or your parents) bail you out. We guarantee you all the misery you could ever want.

Robert Stacy McCain argues with a middle-class communist

The extreme egoism of communist leaders is a trait displayed throughout the history of the movement since Marx’s ridiculous insistence that only his socialism was “scientific.” Yet such is Jesse Myerson’s egoism that he imagines himself superior even to Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin. At least they had the integrity to admit that the abolition of private property — the expropriation of the bourgeoisie — could only be accomplished by violent revolution, and that the victors of such a revolution would have to employ the methods of violent terror to establish their dictatorship.

And Daniel Hannan on the politics of spite:  

Ponder the graph above. Sixty-nine per cent of Labour supporters would want a top rate tax of 50 per cent even if it brought in no money… This is a blog about the mind-set of people who see taxation, not as an unpleasant necessity, but as a way to punish others.

As we’ve seen here many times, some Labour supporters are quite happy to parade their vindictiveness as if it were virtue

Feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. 


Old School Thinking

Following this piece on the self-destruction of the humanities, Heather Mac Donald responds to accusations of “neoconservative pearl-clutching” by Slate’s education columnist Rebecca Schuman:

Is Schuman content with a situation in which a Columbia student rails against having been asked merely to listen to Mozart because Mozart is a dead white male? Where might that student have picked up that attitude if not from the academy and its offshoots? Whiteness studies, black studies, feminist studies, and queer studies are not a fever dream of the “neocons.” For decades now, students have been taught to search for an echo of their own “voices” in the books they read and to reject those works that they believe “exclude” them, a remarkably narrow approach to the arts. I don’t want to hear my own “voice” in what I read; it bores me.

As noted previously, you do have to marvel at a humanities student whose decisive criteria for music appreciation – criteria affirmed by her lecturers - are the composer’s pigmentation and the configuration of his genitals. As with many articles by Ms Mac Donald, there are several quotable passages, of which the following is a taste: 

Schuman concludes by revealing the unbridgeable abyss between the academic hothouse and the outside world. Purporting to turn the tables on academia’s critics, she maintains that it is they who are playing the victim card: “Their gesture [of criticism] is itself a triumphant co-opting of the very manufactured, hyperbolic narratives of oppression they oppose.” Huh? Is Schuman admitting that academic “oppression narratives” are “manufactured” and “hyperbolic”? Who knows? Moreover, her purported gotcha is without any logical grounding: To criticise a trend is not, in itself, a claim of victimisation. Schuman then suggests the real motive for concern about the humanistic tradition: “It’s the [conservative] Manhattan Institute against a rising tide of literate poors who dare question the politics of privilege.” Schuman thus confirms the adolescent political pretensions that she claims conservatives are simply making up.

Readers who doubt the existence of self-destructive tendencies in the modern humanities may wish to consider our own Dr Nina Power, a philosophy lecturer, Guardian regular and champion of “social justice,” and whose deep thoughts have entertained us on more than one occasion. As, for instance, when our self-described Marxist railed against cuts in public funding for philosophy lecturers and what she regards as the “ideological devastation of the education system,” while claiming that she and her peers no longer need to be knowledgeable or competent in any conventional sense

Heather Mac Donald is interviewed about her article in this Ricochet podcast. You may want to skip the first four minutes of gushing introduction.

Via Franklin at Artblog


No Refunds, No Credit Note

Those of you with artistic leanings may want to catch up with this ongoing thread at Artblog, in which I trade views with a couple of artists, chiefly on the subject of public funding. It’s informative and fun, if you like that kind of thing. I learned, for instance, that,

Art is for the people. But I would never leave it up to the taste of “the people” or “taxpayers” to get it done.

Bold, very bold.


Three Paperclips and a Sandwich Wrapper

Another ‘green’ breakthrough reported by Minnesota’s Star Tribune

Talk turned to trash at the Hennepin County Government Centre this week when surprised employees discovered their standard-size garbage cans replaced by new ones… The county’s environmental and property services departments delivered the cans to the offices of 3,000 mostly unwitting workers in the Hennepin County Government Centre last weekend. An official rally heralding their arrival and making a pitch for their proper use came Thursday. Employees are told to empty the cans at a centrally located receptacle on their floor. “This short walk will help the county save money, stay healthy and protect the environment,” said an informational flier given to workers. Judy Hollander, director of property services, led the plan for the new cans. “As we create more recycling, the amount of trash goes down,” she said. But she recognises that “it’s a hard change for folks,” she said. “When we mentioned it at the department heads meeting, there was a large gasp.”

I suspect you too will be impressed when you click here

Via Ricochet.  


Shut Up, They Explained

The number of bureaucrats on college campuses exceeded the number of people involved in instruction as of 2005. And that’s on average. It’s just been getting bigger and bigger. And when you have so many people whose job is to police the daily lives of students – shock upon shock – they start overdoing it. The reason why college has gotten so expensive, and the reason why free speech and due process are in such trouble on college campuses, is one and the same.

FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff on the battle for free speech, the redefinition of ‘harassment’ and the selective uptightness of the “new Victorians”: 

Also from the video:

Continue reading "Shut Up, They Explained" »