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Fundamentally unserious June 16, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Well, if news there was that someone wasn’t a serious thinker, it must be in the following, noted by the Guardian. Someone who has decided that freedom of speech means recruiting failed – and by failed, really failed UKIP candidate Carl Benjamin (aka some risible username, and yeah, who am I to talk, but hey it takes one to know one), to establish ‘a new anti-censorship website that will only take down offensive content if specifically ordered to by a US court’ and will be:

“…a subscription service. And so that’s partly what makes it a replacement for Patreon to some degree, because we want to be able to monetise creators.”

Why it’s one J. Peterson, no less. ‘Controversial’ academic etc, etc. But wait, even on freedom of speech sites – perhaps the most pointless of hills to die on given the very real stuff that’s happening out in the world, it’s quite something to believe that some of those listed are any useful addition. And who are those listed?

He said: “I think we’ve got four, five or six people who are lined up. [Dave] Rubin is going to use it. I’m going to use it, James Altucher, Jocko Willink, Michael Shermer, oh and Carl Benjamin, Sargon of Akkad. They’ll be our first beta testers fundamentally.”

Check them out if you don’t know of them already. Hardly what I’d consider representative of ordinary folk (though what the usually sane Michael Shermer is doing in all this escapes me).

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1. An Sionnach Fionn - June 16, 2019

Over the last couple of years Shermer’s libertarian and free speech instincts have seen him dip a toe or two in the supposedly anti-censorship “classical liberal” stream of the alt-right community. He’s kinda taking the same journey as Peterson though with far greater hesitancy and might well retreat from it. The problem is that the community “feelz” of that part of the alt-right-lite has proven quite attractive for those looking for a spiritual home. The irony being those who rage against identity politics are the one benefiting from it as they forge their own identity. Kinda like the loner or outsider kids rejecting conformity and championing their individualism by all dressing in the same Goth gear. (I speak from experience!)

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WorldbyStorm - June 16, 2019

hah, I wouldn’t have been a million miles from that either ASF though in an earlier period of Goth IIRC!

It does explain in a way where some of the enthusiastic libertarians of the 2000s went, though an odd enough home for them given the range of opinions on the alt-right.

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An Sionnach Fionn - June 16, 2019

If you look at certain alt-right leaning YouTubers here at home, there is a definite community or solidarity vibe to their interactions. It’s not just ideological networking. They sort of reinforce each other’s beliefs, sense of persecution, sense of Messianic insight while sharing a kind of common psychological and emotional “uniform”.

I think you share my liking for pseudohistory in fiction and all that Arthur C Clarke Mysterious Worlds kinda thing and some on the crazier edges of the alt-right remind me of modern day Rosicrucians, obsessed with their supposed secret knowledge and insight of how the world “really” functions. A former Irish journalist turned online provocateur and conspiracy theorist being a good example. It’s got cult-like aspects to it in a very 1970s style.

And it’s amazing how the sceptics and atheists can mix in the same ideological movement with believers in a new world order and global conspiracies.

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WorldbyStorm - June 16, 2019

I do share that, definitely, and I hadn’t quite thought of it in that way but that makes a lot of sense – particularly about it being cult-like. The ‘free speech’ sauce presumably is what is used to make the incoherent elements congeal sufficiently to work together.

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Dermot M O Connor - June 16, 2019

it’s amazing how the sceptics and atheists can mix in the same ideological movement with believers in a new world order and global conspiracies.

There’s a deep reactionary streak in much of the new-atheist / skeptic circles. They had the Elevatorgate vs. Atheism+ schism a few years ago (it was a year or two before Gamergate), that was a foreshock of how the group would split down gender / cultural lines, with Dawkins on one side. PZ Myers was (if mem serves) on the other. Myers is also a nasty piece of work though, so it’s not like either side has the angels.

https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/PZ_Myers#New_Atheism_and_Atheism.2B

Dawkins and pedophilia:
https://www.salon.com/2013/09/10/richard_dawkins_defends_mild_pedophilia_says_it_does_not_cause_lasting_harm/

Dawkins the race realist (ugh):
https://theoutline.com/post/4024/andrew-sullivan-sam-harris-jordan-peterson-the-bell-curve?zd=1&zi=sa4mksor

Islamophobia:
https://www.salon.com/2014/09/06/richard_dawkins_sam_harris_and_atheists_ugly_islamophobia_partner/

Randi: ‘survival of the fittest’ to act itself out on the disabled:
https://www.dailygrail.com/2013/02/james-randi-let-survival-of-the-fittest-act-itself-out-on-those-with-low-iq-and-mental-aberrations/

New atheism’s woman problem, misogyny of D & Harris:

https://www.salon.com/2014/10/03/new_atheisms_troubling_misogyny_the_pompous_sexism_of_richard_dawkins_and_sam_harris_partner/

Of course, Dawkins’ wretched ‘Selfish Gene’ metaphor gone mad just happens to dovetail 1:1 with current neo-liberal Thatcherite hogwash, so no wonder he appeals to a certain stripe of gobshite.

Speaking of, Mary Midgley vs. Dawkins selfish gene:

https://www.heraldscotland.com/arts_ents/13208060.interview-philosopher-mary-midgley-thinker-writer-and-nemesis-of-the-selfish-gene/

Dawkins always tries to wriggle off this by saying “it’s just a metaphor”, but as MM says, “some metaphors aren’t just metaphors”.

Anyway, no surprise that these third rate bozos (Dawkins, Dennet, Randi) attracted a bunch of fourth rate boyos (young boys who failed to launch into adulthood), and who now (like Carl Benjamin) find themselves facing a very ugly middle age.

(I’ll be waiting until these bastards are dead before I write what I really think about them). I have particular suspicions about Randi and Dawkins in particular, based on certain things they’ve said.

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WorldbyStorm - June 16, 2019

+1 It’s strange – I followed the new atheist / skeptic split back then in amazement. Here was a bunch of people who on paper I’d have a crossover with (more perhaps on the skeptic side than the atheist side, being an agnostic) but in practice they seemed to often (not always) be just terrible. As you say, a deep reactionary streak allied with incredible arrogance and certainty. Agree too, there’s some dodgy folk on both sides of that split. Can’t say I’ve huge time for Dawkins these days and Randi is grim.

Interesting your point re the demographics of all this – that’s very true, in some ways what we seem to see are people who have done well online but are not sure/unable to work out what to do next. They can’t cross a bridge into mainstream media because their views are too toxic / or in some instances just outright stupid but they can’t depend on their current audience growing with them either. So what to do? Hence the tilts at politics I guess?

In a way Peterson strikes me as an oddity – he started out with some interesting even positive stuff but all too soon seemed to think that every problem was caused by the issues exercising a relatively limited tranche of alienated young males he met in third level not seeming to realise that that wasn’t as widespread as he thinks even in third level and certainly not in the society at large. It’s the old problem of having a hammer and therefore seeing nails everywhere. And after that he got a name and after that, well where does he go? What does he do? Small wonder they’re running around setting up ‘think tanks’ and the like.

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Dermot M O Connor - June 16, 2019

Re: hammer and nails – Aquinas said “Beware the man of one book”. Ideologically, that’s these people in a nutshell – they have one narrative of the world, and all incoming data has to be hammered into it.

Drives me nuts that they can’t tell the difference between post-modernism and marxism, mind, and often seem to think they’re the same thing!

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WorldbyStorm - June 16, 2019

That’s a great line re one book. That I shall quote 🙂

Yeah, but then isn’t there an expedient aspect to that, the confusion between marxism and post-modernism. It’s like ‘cultural marxism’. Chuck together two terms they loathe and that others may not be fully acquainted with (at least re post-modernism) and off they go. It’s the old Nazi trick.

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Dermot M O Connor - June 16, 2019

Yup; it’s what the general semanticist Hayakawa called a “snarl word” … or what Korzybski called a “pre-symbolic noise”, like an animal growling “grrrrrrr”. It contains no meaningful content other than “I HATE THIS”.

One of the bases of POMO is that there are no grand narratives. And if Marxism is anything, it’s a grand narrative. They are not compatible.

Then again, this confusion / ignorance cuts the other way, e.g., people on the liberal / left who call Ayn Rand a ‘Fascist’ – as if a woman whose nauseating ideology was founded on the phrase “the smallest minority is the individual” could cohabit with a movement based on the priority of the group / state / race, individuals be damned!

The fact that there is some Venn overlap usually gets seized on, with inevitable confusion resulting.

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WorldbyStorm - June 16, 2019

Agree re Rand completely. She just took individualism to a logical conclusion in the context of her starting point. At the end it became almost a parody of selfishness because she had to strike more and more absurd positions (Rothbard too re child slavery etc) due to the logic of her anathema on any non-individualist approaches. But as you say, she was no fascist.

The big problem with post-modernism to me is the way it is applied as if it itself a truth and “the” truth when as with most similar approaches it is just anther way of viewing the world, but shouldn’t be reified excessively. It has its uses but the idea all grand narratives are over and finished is ahistorical junk. They’ll crop up again and again and again.

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Dermot M O Connor - June 17, 2019

Some smart ass (wish it had been me) pointed out that POMO’s assertion that there are no grand narratives is itself a grand narrative! So it falsifies itself with its own premise – while making a great example of special pleading / question begging. Say what you like about Marxism, but at least it doesn’t do that.

Something similar with Logical Postivism (I remember reading some chin-stroker on p.ie say “as a Logical Positivist I…blah blah). A belief system that says only science can be used to understand the world, and not philosophy. But that statement is a philosophical statement, so again it collapses itself very efficiently.

Terry Eagleton’s critique of POMO from ‘Why Marx was right” is very useful:

http://www.academia.edu/3989359/Why-Marx-Was-Right-by-terry-eagleton

QUOTE: This ‘‘everlasting nature-imposed condition of human existence,’’ as Marx calls it, can be contrasted with the postmodern repression of the natural, material body, which it seeks to dissolve into culture. The very word ‘‘natural’’ provokes a politically correct shudder. All attention to our common biology becomes the thought crime of ‘‘biologism.’’ Post-modernism is nervous of the unchanging, which it falsely imagines to be everywhere on the side of political reaction. So since the human body has altered little in the course of its evolution, postmodern thought can cope with it only as a ‘‘cultural construct.’’ No thinker, as it happens, was more conscious than Marx of how Nature and the body are socially mediated. And that mediation is primarily known as labour, which works Nature up into human meaning. Labour is a signifying activity. We never bump into a brute piece of matter.

if Nature is in some sense a social category, society is also a natural one. Postmodernists are to be found insisting on the former but suppressing the latter. For Marx, the relation between Nature and humanity is not symmetrical. In the end, as he notes in The German Ideology, Nature has the upper hand. For the individual, this is known as death. The Faustian dream of progress without limits in a material world magically responsive to our touch overlooks ‘‘the priority of external nature.’’ Today, this is known not as the Faustian dream but the American one. It is a vision which secretly detests the material because it blocks our path to the infinite. This is why the material world has either to be vanquished by force or dissolved into culture. Postmodernism and the pioneer spirit are sides of the same coin. Neither can accept that it is our limits that make us what we are, quite as much as that perpetual transgression of them we know as human history.

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WorldbyStorm - June 17, 2019

The thing is it is so thin – and so few people actually are aware of it so it’s influence even in a vague way is limited to quite small groups tho some are influential – but it’s demoralizing effect is something that bears greater scrutiny

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EWI - June 17, 2019

who call Ayn Rand a ‘Fascist’ – as if a woman whose nauseating ideology was founded on the phrase “the smallest minority is the individual” could cohabit with a movement based on the priority of the group / state / race, individuals be damned!

This (individualism) is just one of many contradictions within fascism, and not proof that ‘Rand wasn’t a fascist’.

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WorldbyStorm - June 17, 2019

I don’t think she was though – she loathed collectivism or those who appropriated aspects of it – tho as you say some of her ilk can cohabit with fascism

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Dermot M O Connor - June 17, 2019

Re Rand not being a fascist: the clue is in the name. Fasces, the rod bound together, those stronger in number than as individuals, primacy of the group. I know there’s not one single fascist text (which was a problem for the classical fascists themselves, Gentile and Mussolini called it ‘The problem of the party’, the movement emerging from the collective ad hoc). Still, the foundation stone of fascism is (clue in the name) the group.

Now just because Fascism doesn’t have a unitary text, doesn’t follow that anyone who has some authoritarian characteristics IS a fascist, or that the word can mean whatever people want; it’s muddled thinking, drives me nuts, particularly here in the states where everyone you hate is Hitler. Christ, it’s gotta stop, surely? (No, it won’t).

Anyway, the fascists DID say some things, and said them quite clearly:

Mussolini
“Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.”

Prime De Rivera in The Falangist Manifesto: with some boiler-plate about ‘rights’, but they’re very much subordinate to the State:

We believe in the supreme reality of Spain. To strengthen her, to make her great is the paramount task of every Spaniard. Personal interest, collective or class interests must surrender to the achievement of this goal.

Human dignity, the spiritual integrity of man and his freedom are eternal, intangible values and rights. But only he who belongs to a strong, free nation is truly free. No one will be allowed to use his liberty to attempt against the unity, the strength or the freedom of the fatherland. Harsh discipline will be directed against every attempt to poison, to divide Spaniards or to distance them from the destiny of the fatherland.

Mussolini and Gentile

The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. The conception of the Liberal State is not that of a directing force, guiding the play and development, both material and spiritual, of a collective body, but merely a force limited to the function of recording results: on the other hand, the Fascist State is itself conscious and has itself a will and a personality — thus it may be called the “ethic” State….

…The Fascist State organizes the nation, but leaves a sufficient margin of liberty to the individual; the latter is deprived of all useless and possibly harmful freedom, but retains what is essential; the deciding power in this question cannot be the individual, but the State alone….

CHAAARMING.

compare to Rand, who was also quite clear (and quite different) –

“The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”
― Ayn Rand

So long as [men] hold the tribal notion that the individual is sacrificial fodder for the collective, that some men have the right to rule others by force, and that some (any) alleged ‘good’ can justify It — there can be no peace ‘within’ a nation and no peace among nations.
― Ayn Rand

Since only an individual man can possess rights, the expression “individual rights” is a redundancy (which one has to use for purposes of clarification in today’s intellectual chaos). But the expression “collective rights” is a contradiction in terms.
― Ayn Rand

“My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose.”
― Ayn Rand

The only commonality I see here is a contempt for majority rule. But the fascist solution is a Dictatorship with very limited rights which are always subordinate to the State, Rand’s is a radical libertarianism in which each individual acts alone in their own selfish interest, the majority and the state be damned.

These are NOT compatible systems, and any sensible fascist would put a Randroid up against the wall ASAP.

It’s still possible to despise Rand, but for what she was, not for what sloganeers would like people to think she was.

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WorldbyStorm - June 17, 2019

I guess the convergence is the instrumental attitude to others or those deemed others (or to a degree in the case of fascism those within the circle not deemed other) – ie that both regard them as almost a resource or an impediment so the state or the individual essentially has no responsibility for others – and both are dismissive to the point of cruelty and worse of the needs of others but one could say that that convergence was true of (some) monarchies and fascism too.

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WorldbyStorm - June 17, 2019

And of course objectivism is ferociously anti statist

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Dermot M O Connor - June 17, 2019

anti-statist yes; both systems would be ferocious enemies of any left movement. one THE state, the other NO state.

Randism is the ultimate / most extreme form of classical liberalism, the most self-centered manifestation of that system. The lone individual above all – so no wonder it’s particularly virulent in the USA, feeding into the frontier mythos / mountain man bollocks, the ‘self-made’ meritocratic bunk.

It’s been so toxic, sometimes you wonder if Rand wasn’t a Stalinist sleeper agent sent to destroy America from the inside.

I think one source of confusion about fascism (and what it is or isn’t) is the bogus quote about fascism being “the merger of state and corporation”. This commonly quoted phrase is fundamentally incorrect (a misinterpretation of the Italian word corporatzione) – no evidence M ever said it, and actual quotes point to the opposite meaning (again, the State above all things, including private business). The State, the State, the State. The idea that bean-counting dweebs like Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates or John Fucking Galt could hold power of a Fascist leader would have been an abomination to M.

http://www.publiceye.org/fascist/corporatism.html

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2. sciamanna - June 16, 2019

Shermer has joined the alt-right freeze peach bunch since being called out on serial sexual harassment. He’s been at it for a while now.

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WorldbyStorm - June 16, 2019

Urghhhh…I was thinking his contributions to Scientific American seemed less frequent though it could be I just don’t read him that much any more.

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3. Dermot M O Connor - June 16, 2019

Carl Benjamin (Sargon of Akkad), aka “Rape Joker” isn’t too hot on freedom of speech when he’s on the receiving end of it. When the alt.righters (who do not like him) starting giving him shit in a stream, he began crying for “decorum” and bleating “You do know I’m a human being”, before telling them that they were “acting like n*****s”.

Scumbag.

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