Friday, December 17, 2010

Thoughts on the military

Recently I've read posts on two of my favorite blogs
On onestdv's excellent blog and
on Dennis Mangan's most worthwhile blog

I have to say I'm decidedly conflicted about the military in general. Weighing in favor:
1) I like a lot of the people in it, particularly at the enlisted and junior officer level (my direct contacts don't go any higher than LTC). It is heavy with people like myself in a lot of ways. I'm a Southerner for heaven's sake.
2) It's the closest thing America has to a reactionary institution (a sad commentary indeed)
3) Because of factors 1 and 2, their hearts really won't be into squishing me and mine when/if the time comes, although their paychecks may be sufficient
Weighing against
1) Because of factors 1 and 2, I really prefer NOT to see them suffer. Yes, I know a lot of them like to fight, but they only rarely get to fight in the manner they signed on to do (basically just in Desert Storm and the very early phases of the more recent Iraq confrontation where they actually got to fight another army complete with uniforms and vehicles to blow up). But I particularly dislike seeing them come home with brain injuries, in body bags, or suffering what we like to call PTSD now (shell shock, combat fatigue, I think every generation has a different name for it).
2) They're being used in a manner that is contrary to the interests of me and mine. I'm a firm believer in the all or nothing school of warfare. If you're not willing to do what it will almost certainly take to prevail (read, WWII or earlier rules of engagement, see also Mencius Moldbug or more or less any pre-WWII work on successful pacification of a nation), don't even start.
3) We spend an awful lot more on the military than the threats justify (and simulataneously, basically nothing on ACTUALLY defending our borders, the highest and best use of any military). We also spend an awful lot on the wrong threats in chronological terms---e.g. Soviet armored hordes pouring through the Fulda gap. We can probably afford about half the military budget we have right now, and that may well be overly optimistic. Even if you believe that as oil production starts to decline, we will have to engage in resource wars to avoid the strangulation of our economy due to liquid fuel 'demand destruction', you need a vastly different (and generally cheaper) military to do those deeds.

So, I suppose my advice to disgruntled members of the American Legions is this: Perhaps you should consider joining Blackwater or a similar outfit. I hear they pay a lot better. I don't see the nation's elites as presently being worthy of your loyalty, as demonstrated by your accepting a vastly lower rate of compensation than the market would bear for reasons of patriotism.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Weapons of Reaction: Entryism Diversity and the Environment Part II
Entryism (or entrism or enterism) is a political tactic by which an organisation or state encourages its members or agents to infiltrate another organisation in an attempt to gain recruits, or take over entirely.

Suggested Target: The Sierra Club

Why: Historically (i.e. before the 90s, the Sierra club has been against immigration in general, both legal and illegal. Among their favorite equations is Impact = Population * Affluence * Technology after all.
So there's no fundamental reason why it couldn't and shouldn't be restored to that track, which is congruent with the retention of demographic hegemony in the US for those of Euro extraction. When last put to a vote, the results were 60-40 percent against with a full-scale and legally questionable mobilization by the directors back around 2004. Control over the directors is a simple matter of votes. Record high turnout for said organization was around 22%, organizational size is around 1.4 million, so subversion is an achievable goal, particularly if executed rapidly before a counter mobilization can be made against it. And, membership is on sale right now, $15 instead of the usual $25. In addition, the organization appears to be pretty heavily demoralized right now, if you read between the lines on their website. Being able to consistently say that 'The Sierra Club' supports a moratorium on immigration and Operation Wetback II, the sequel, would give cover to a lot of people who are afraid of being painted as racists. This is why back in 2004 The Powers that Be were so terrified of the attempted internal coup at the Sierra Club elections. But said coup was just mobilizing people already inside who agreed with Tanton et al. Combine it with a hefty load of entryism and a second effort should succeed pretty easily. Ideally, the entryists would be very 'old school' conservative/reactionary environmentalists who'd maintain the brand.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Diversity and the Environment

One test of the truth of a statement that I often find myself using is to imagine what the world would necessarily look like if that statement was true, and to then determine whether the world in fact is consistent with that state. Similarly, when dealing with people's professed beliefs, I look for what I'd expect to see if I took their statements at face value and conclude provisionally that they actually believe what they say if I see a consistent state. In practice, I exempt people below about two standard deviations from the mean in intelligence from this sort of rigor in my own version of a soft bigotry of low expectations :-)

Recently I talked with a colleague of mine at work. This guy was particularly notable because until about a year ago, he'd never owned an automobile and never had even a driver's license. He biked pretty much everywhere or took public transit. He's also married and has a couple of kids. If ANYONE can claim orthopraxis on environmental issues, it's him--although, amusingly, I've never heard even a peep about such things from him despite my inference that he's SWPL from his visible cultural markers.

Just recently though, he got a driver's license and a car, and, I felt compelled to ask him why, given his known history. He told me that he no longer felt safe taking his little kids on the light rail anymore. He attributed the reason to 'too many apartments', but, we all know that's just code, although I obviously didn't pin him on that. This should seriously concern anyone who fancies themselves an environmentalist or a public transit fan. Here you have someone who's way, way out there---probably +3 sigmas or more from the mean in environmental orthopraxis, and they're abandoning you because of diversity (of the sort less benign than that discussed a couple posts ago). If you want people like him to use public transportation---and he's about the easiest target you're going to get---you have to insulate them when they use it from any sort of intimidation, be it physical, verbal, social, cultural, or olfactory. Calling guys like him crypto-racists or other such won't get you anywhere. Hell, for all I know, he's listening to Radio Reaction in his new car now.

This sort of diversity and the lack of proper management thereof is also a major factor in what people term 'white flight' (i.e., the disintegration of most of the cores of most of our major cities). This has been an economic nightmare and, if you subscribe to environmentalism, an environmental disaster also. Consider this:

People who commute long distances use much more gasoline than those that do not. Commutes also make people unhappy---about the only robust finding honestly of 'happiness research'. This also increases the sprawl of a city and the environmental footprint thereof. Deal with the causes of this white flight and you'll see a lot shorter average commutes---that is, if you care about the environment more than the supposed wonders of diversity. People would also walk a lot more, which would help a lot in dealing with the insane levels of obesity that prevail in today's society relative to when I was growing up.

Most (nearly all) of the population increase in the US in recent years is due to immigration, illegal and otherwise. Pretty much everyone who immigrates to the US has a larger environmental footprint here than where they left. Many also have a larger TFR as well. If you claim to care about the environment, particularly if you are a AGW/CC true believer, you are REQUIRED to care about this. What's your equation? IMPACT = Population*Affluence*Technology---gee, let's boost both P and A and expect less Impact. Maybe the engineers will bail us out with T, or we'll strain at gnats by asking people to sort their garbage while ignoring the elephants in the room.

Nearly all of your support comes from people of Euro extraction, especially those of Anglo or German ancestry. Don't believe me? Check the membership rolls of your organizations---they're often whiter than the Klan.

So here's my suggestion for the environmentalist. Get behind the ejection of illegal immigrants in a big way and the curtailing of the amounts of legal immigration as well. Develop the will to insist on what Mencius Moldbug terms "Order" (the state beyond "Peace" and below "Law") regardless of what diverse group you're discussing in the US. Do this and the environment WILL improve as you typically measure it. You might even find that reactionaries like myself are solidly behind you. There's no reason that environmentalism has to be a left wing issue after all.

Daughters of the American Reaction

Our daughter was born about three weeks ago, which has significantly cut into my memetic output :-) Like her brother, it looks like she's going to be another little redhead with big blue eyes. In keeping with my Southern ancestry, I shall have to obtain a shotgun or two in honor of her birth, well in advance of the coming of any prospective suitors. It will probably be a couple years before we seek our third child. Two small children is very much a handful, even with the much-welcomed assistance of my wife's mother.

By the way, young reactionaries, if you're reading this particular post, and you're in the market for a wife---consider this very carefully:
When you marry a woman, you also marry her family, particularly that subset of her family that you live nearby to and which your wife has become accustomed to regular contact with. This can be a VERY good or bad thing. In the case of my wife's parents, this is a very good thing, and they in truth had a fair degree of influence in my decision to marry their daughter. Why?, might you ask.

A woman will generally recapitulate her relationship with her father with you when you marry her, and will tend to treat you similarly to the way that her mother treats her father. Sure, not always, but frankly, that's the way to bet. What you're looking for in a prospective mother-in-law is Respectful treatment of your prospective father-in-law. Love is a nebulous, fuzzy thing, often difficult to discern between two people that you don't know intimately, but respect is quite concrete and much easier to see. Needless to say, a woman whose parents have divorced bodes very ill for your own marital prospects. Of course, you don't need to take my word for it, there are a lot of studies you can consult that'll even tell you the odds ratios, some of which are even linked in the sphere of reaction.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why even benign diversity sucks for human beings

Let's start with---what do I mean by 'benign diversity'? By this I mean diversity that does not materially raise the crime rate for those it is inflicted on or significantly change the political scene. The archetypical example of this is people of Chinese and Japanese ethnicity living among people of Euro extraction in the US. They've got similar levels of achievement in the things they care about and neither generally aims to use politics as a weapon against the other to any major degree. Furthermore, their crime rates are similarly low, and their interracial crime proclivities are both pretty much nonexistent. So neighborhoods that are mixed primarily between these groups should be just fine right?

Well, if your idea of a neighborhood is one with desolate streets, very little neighbor interaction, and pretty much no kids playing outside (although they do exist in fair numbers, as evidenced by the school bus stop), they're fine indeed. If on the other hand you like a neighborhood with actual community, shared norms, and kids that don't need play dates and the like to actually be..well, kids, they're assuredly not.

Neighborhoods where no group has effective normative hegemony---i.e. the ability to enforce its norms through social pressure---basically aren't neighborhoods at all. I grew up in a neighborhood. I suspect most of my readers did as well. Most of us do not presently live in neighborhoods.

There is a neighborhood of about 95% Koreans centered around a church where a friend of mine lives a few miles from my own. They actually have a community, and they have shared norms. I see kids bikes in lots of people's yards without any locks or the like on them, that have obviously been used recently. This tells me several things. Lots of kids actually play here. They use bikes as a viable means of locomotion. The crime rate is sufficiently suppressed that they need implement no defensive measures like chains and locks. They have a viable community life and probably actually personally know most of the other folks in the community (my friend is one of the very few non-Koreans that live in this neighborhood, but he's a pretty hardcore martial arts geek so he fits in fairly well aparently). On this I wish them well--their community is much like the ones I grew up living in and which I presently only have via my church. This is the way that human beings are happiest living. They're not happy at all when they constantly have to wonder whether the community will back them with respect to things like how many cars its acceptable to park in the street, volume of music playing, how much noise or how late their parties can run, what's acceptable behavior for kids and teens, and a thousand other things. It's nowhere near as bad as the other kind of 'diversity', which I'm well familiar with since I grew up in the South, but it makes for lifeless 'non-neighborhoods'. It also gives rise to the sort of 'grassroots tyranny' that HOAs often become infamous for---in the absence of agreed on norms, administrative and legal rules tend to creep in.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One suggestion to improve employment in the US

Of course, I know that TPTB will never take this suggestion, but here it is:

1. A very large fraction of the employment in the US is by small and very small businesses
2. Administrative, legal, and tax codes are absolutely full of constants of the form---this applies to all businesses with more than N employees
3. A lot of businesses deliberately stay lower than various values of N because of the immense compliance burden involved with the addition of employee number N+1
Therefore, take all such constants, and double them. Thereafter, index them to the population of the US.

You'll probably see a large wave of pent-up hiring where economically hiring the N+1, N+2 makes economic sense but for the added compliance costs for those employees AND the 1st-Nth employee. In addition, you'll have to enforce these rules on less companies, which means it'd cost a negative amount of money. By allowing 'small' businesses to scale to a larger size, this will also increase the competition they represent to the 'big boys', who love rules that protect their incumbency and increase barriers to entry.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tim the (un)Wise

I've been mulling over Tim Wise's recent screed for some time now. I suppose I should start with my most important observation:
Thank you Tim Wise, for being, well, unwise. Your work and the resounding lack of total excoriation forthcoming from the organs of mainstream culture have provided me with ample material for recruiting and awakening allies among my coethnics. Frankly I doubt I could have done a better job of black propaganda if I tried. You see, most of my coethnics and especially my coethnic coreligionists are far, far too nice, and far too trusting at that. It's very hard to awaken them to the defense of their own interests. Far too many of them are basically just cultural Christians without any real attachment to Christ or Christian tradition, and that is a recipe for being led around by any guilt-tripper like an ox with a ring through his nose. It causes me a great deal of frustration to see denominations fall like dominoes because their orthodox and conservative elements are afraid of not being nice or of confrontation. Often I want to scream to them 'Purge them before they purge you'. But that's a matter for another post or three.

Let's talk existential interests. The most pressing interest any people has is the maintenance of its demographic hegemony over the real estate in which it resides. Tim is serving me well here by calling my root argument into strong focus in a venue I normally have little access to, excepting when I'm acting in what I call a 'counter-intelligence' capacity. You see, it really doesn't matter whether you're collectively guilty or not when existential interests are concerned. You defend them if for no other reason than your basic requirement to defend the interests of your children. You can get to this requirement either from pretty much any Abrahamic faith's traditions and writings (failing to do so is to deny the Faith and be worse than the unbeliever) or from the brute facts of nature if that's your bent. Honestly, you SHOULD feel it in your gut. Even I do, and I don't feel a lot of things in my gut that I should, being pretty seriously non-neurotypical. I'd suggest a secular version of my religious test in my earlier post Solo Scriptura or Sola Scriptura tradition as a guide here.

Let's talk privilege. I for one want to confer as many advantages as I can on my children. I make no bones about it either. I even chose their parents (particularly their mother and maternal grandfather and grandmother) carefully :-) Sure there are lots of people that hem and haw on this point, but in general they act precisely as I have and continue to do. From this I infer that they must believe, at root, as I do. This is not a bad thing, and people shouldn't feel guilty about it. Genuine love for their children is all to often the only real love many folks have (with so much self-loathing, many even lack self-love). God doesn't want you to loathe yourself. He wouldn't have sent His Son to suffer, die, and be raised from the dead if He wanted that. There's a reason that Gospel means essentially 'good news'. For those of you who aren't interested in that particular offer, I've another one for you. I don't want you to loathe yourself either, even if you're my enemy. Self loathing almost certainly causes inflammation, like low status does, which literally hurts you. So stop feeling guilty about your 'invisible knapsack' of white privilege or whatever metaphor for such you've been sold. Insofar as privilege exists, it's really much more 'elite' privilege than 'white privilege' anyway.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Making being neurotypical work FOR you, Christian edition

Pretty much by definition, the overwhelming majority of the population is neurotypical. I suspect that many of my readers are as well. Because I'm religiously obligated to love you, I'm here today to offer you some encouragement if you're working out your salvation with fear and trembling.

You've got one huge advantage over me---you're neurotypical, which means you're at the center of mass of all the theological advice that's been heaped up over the centuries by the communion of the saints. You're the bullseye of the target, as it were. Let's turn to a genuinely difficult problem, the central one, in fact, for a Christian:

How do I love God?

For some of you, loving God is as natural as breathing. Lord I envy thee. Others of you have such profound self-deception that you can convince yourself that you love God even when your actions indicate to an outside observer that you must not. Many of the rest of us have to struggle in the darkness in the fear and trembling that Paul spoke of in his letters. Its this group that I'm speaking to.

Fortunately for you, I've got something to offer you today. It comes to us by way of our good friend C. S. Lewis. Lewis understood the neurotypical very well:

"Do not waste time bothering whether you "love" your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him."

See, you, as a neurotypical are wired to like people better that you've done favors or nice things for, not those who've done such things for you. It's perverse but it is true. In an awful lot of instances, this REALLY sucks for you, because most of the science & art of manipulation that has been developed over the centuries since Adam has been aimed squarely at YOU. You run what amounts to the Windows OS that 99% of virus authors write for, the non-neurotypical is like the OS/2 or Linux OS. This unfortunately doesn't work worth a damn for me, because I'm not wired that way, I'm wired to like people better the more they do for me. So, I'm selfish and you're ungrateful, or more likely, both of us are selfish and ungrateful, we just have different degrees of predilection towards each vice. Pray for me as I also pray for you.

Praying for others is, for the neurotypical, a way of 'hacking' yourself to love them more, and in so doing, to love God more under the whole 'least of these my brethren' rubric laid out by Jesus. It's a spiritual aid in your walk that's available and efficacious for you and I encourage you to use it. Actually helping your fellows is another such aid, and in that I'll borrow from Lewis again (from the Screwtape Letters if I recall correctly) and advise you to keep your charity as close to home as is feasible. Help the people in need in your own church or social circle---your love for them will be concrete as opposed to abstract. Abstract love is generally no love at all, as when one practices 'Telescopic Charity'. They are very much your neighbor in the sense that you are told to love by Jesus in the Gospels. This love is also how the lost are supposed to be able to recognize Christians.

Now I'll give you the biggest one of them all, harvested straight from Matthew 6:21. That guy Jesus really understood the neurotypical heart...I mean, you'd think that he had a hand in designing them or something :-)

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also

Translation, give your treasure to advance God's kingdom. For most of us, in a modern nation, that means tithing. For a neurotypical, I'd suggest giving enough so that it hurts a little---i.e., it cuts somewhat into the money that you'd otherwise spend on the various luxuries that you desire. I say 'a little' because God is VERY clear in Paul's letters that you're supposed to take care of your family, and that if you do not when you're able to do so, you've denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever. But this is really the nuclear option in conditioning yourself to love God if you're neurotypical. It mashes the 'I've made sacrifices/done favors for you so I MUST love you button' and triggers your sunk-cost misprocessing cognitive bias to boot. God must really love the neurotypical. If this helps you, you're welcome to it, and if you like, you're even welcome to pass these insights off as you own.

Articles to come, or, dealing with the writing deficit

I'm somewhat backlogged on my writing. Here are the articles I'm thinking on presently.
Tim the (un)Wise --- my thoughts on how everyone's favorite anti-white...I mean...anti-racist figure has illuminated the cultural battlespace and how we as reactionaries might best exploit him.
Taqiyya, a gift from Mohammed for the neurotypical white person in the present cultural battlespace
Metaphors for the Divine, God as Absolute Monarch
Metaphors for the Divine, God as Author
Metaphors for the Divine, God as Game Master
Making the Neurotypical work for you, some spiritual advice for my neurotypical Christian friends

Normally my writing style is to think about what it is that I'm writing until I feel the words clawing at the inside of my skull, eager to escape. So I don't really know what the timeframe for these is going to be.

Adding a few more blogs to my blog list, also congratulations to those reactionaries with new children or children on the way

Not much to update here, but I've added Coldequations and Foseti to my blog list. Also, I'd like to extend my congratulations to Foseti on his new little one, and B Lode on his child to be named later that is still in development. My own little reactionary family will be adding one as well in the next couple of weeks.

Amusingly, my little boy, with his big blue eyes and red hair and extremely symmetric features, is probably already a mightier soldier of reaction than I. Given the surge of procreation that has occurred in my church and social circle after his birth, I swear he must be contagious. I've even seen an SWPL woman in her early 40s play peek-a-boo with him and say 'oh I want one' at the Whole Foods. Nobody with 2 X chromosomes seems to be able to resist him, and even at places like a gun show, complete strangers dote on him.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Universalism never is, and why I want YOU to defend your own interests

Ever notice how these days, almost every appeal comes wrapped in the language of universalism? It's for 'the common good' or it's immoral or selfish to take the other position. Frankly, it's my observation that when one person accuses another of selfishness in the political arena, the accuser is at least as guilty of selfishness as the accused. Granting any advantage or privilege to such arguments essentially amounts to promoting the glib and those lacking self-awareness over those actually vulnerable to a guilt trip. In the previous post I talked about moral standing. I propose that any speaker in the political arena that lacks moral standing for the argument that they're making be categorically ignored, and heckled and mocked if possible.

So what do I want from you, gentle reader? Simply put, I want you to recognize that it is at least as acceptable for you to defend your interests as it is for anyone else. If you're like most of my readers, everyone else (i.e. those from demographic and/or political groups other than your own) is already advancing their group interests through the political process, and guess what...YOU CAN'T STOP THEM FROM DOING SO OR WANTING TO DO SO. And, guess what else, you shouldn't want to. Forcing everyone or attempting to force everyone to make abstract appeals to universal morality in advancing their political arguments just gives a massive advantage to the party that controls the cultural battlespace. And it's funny, isn't it, how many SWPL positions just HAPPEN to advance their group status interest. If you're not like most of my readers (e.g., you're a non-Asian minority), congratulations, your group is already following my advice, and I will not attempt to level any moral condemnation on you and yours for your choice. I DO, however council you to consider carefully which side your bread is buttered on when considering such existential issues as demographic hegemony and who is to have it in the future.

There is no moral high ground in American politics as a whole at this time in history. There might never have been. There is only this:

If you do not defend your own interests as a group, you will lose in the group competition for status, demographic hegemony, and in extreme cases, survival. Demographic hegemony is an existential issue, there is no substitute for it, and it is a ball that is presently in play. Whether defending it is 'racist' (in practice, white Euros are the LEAST racist of any group on the planet) is irrelevant. Whether you and yours 'deserve' in some cosmic sense the hegemony you presently enjoy is also irrelevant. You ARE selfish, and pretty much everyone else on the planet is also, and in most cases a lot more so. So even if you're cursed with self-awareness, don't let such accusations get you down. The work 'Who Really Cares' demonstrates that statistically speaking, you probably are more generous than your accuser anyway.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A few words on moral standing

By moral standing, I'm speaking of the state of being wherein a person has the ability to make a moral argument that the listener feels obliged to take seriously, albeit not necessarily agree with in any way. An awful lot of moral arguments are tossed rather recklessly in our society today. Notice that the orthopraxis for most of these moral arguments is in general rather poor (do greenies, for instance, even actually have a lower resource footprint than the average American? Given that SWPLs are substantially richer than most of the population, I'm inclined to doubt it). I can't really speak to the orthodoxy here---the 'right speech' seems exponentially more important on most of these causes.

I'm hardly neurotypical, so I can't really use projection to figure out why people don't actually do what they say they believe (e.g., live in 'diverse' neighborhoods and send their kids to 'diverse' schools, refrain from divorce at a much better rate than the rest of society---although, in fairness, regular churchgoers do have a somewhat better track record if you adjust for the number of actual marriages, or donate their resources to the poor like they insist everyone should be forced to). The level of 'right speech' is very high, the level of orthodoxy is indeterminant (although I suspect it is low) and the level of orthopraxy is appalling. Why is this?
My take is that a large part of this is that the listener to said moral arguments doesn't take the speaker seriously. Yes, if the speaker is socially powerful, they'll mouth the platitudes, and they might even believe them at a surface level, but they won't actually do the orthopraxy---or, walk the walk. My theory is that a large part of the reason for this is that they do not perceive that the speaker and/or his movement to have the requisite moral standing for the amount of sacrifice that their beliefs being peddled would require.

Why is this? Certainly a statement is no less true or false regardless of who says it. Screwtape, for instance, or Roissy, can both give you some pretty insightful views into the human condition and its relationships. But they're hardly role models, and neither, interestingly enough ever attempts to build an argument on moral standing. In general, we don't have the time or the initiative to rigorously evaluate every claim every would be moral entrepreneur cares to attempt to sell us. We also have a strong underlying distrust of such individuals, for the well justified reason that they generally seek to manipulate us towards their own ends. This is especially true when they're calling for 'sacrifices'.

Our first cut is to determine---is it reasonable to believe that the saleman believes in the product that he's selling? Sure, he says he believes in it, but do his actions bear it out? To have any real standing here, the spokesman needs to be at least a couple of sigmas above the mean in the orthopraxis of what he's selling (ever wonder why the Early Quakers, Early Methodists, and in the modern era, Billy Graham were so successful in selling their product? A lot of it can be explained by the fact that they were perceived to be 'walking the walk'). In addition, that spokesman's core of followers have to be at least above average on said orthopraxis themselves. When they're not, people rightfully perceive that they're being played---that perhaps the speaker just wants THEM to make the sacrifices so that they can have a bigger share of the remaining pie. The neurotypical generally tends to just withhold any meaningful orthopraxis, opting for the merely symbolic. The non-neurotypical, like myself, tends to become a lot more hostile, and we're often blunt enough to tell you precisely what it is that you're doing wrong. If you actually want orthopraxis, and not just social power, you'd be prudent to listen.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A little encouragement for the non-neurotypical

On the various blogs I like to comment on, I often find myself speaking with distinctly non-neurotypical persons. By neurotypical, I mean a person whose brain (and particularly their emotions) work in a similar fashion to around 95% of the population or more. I am not using it in the fashion that the autism community uses it (i.e., people who are not autism-spectrum or Asperger's). Certainly there's a lot of overlap between my definition and said communities, but let's be clear, I'm not using this as in any way, shape, or form as a pejorative. Let's be blunt---if I mean to insult you, I will do so fairly openly---if I refer to you or another as not neurotypical, I'm not insulting but rather simply describing. Needless to say, I'm hardly neurotypical myself. My purpose in writing this little missive is to give aid and encouragement to my less neurotypical readers and those who find themselves dealing outside the neurotypical. A lot of what I've learned has come at a pretty steep price, and I'm willing to offer you a nearly 100% discount.

Probably the most common method we use as human beings for estimating what another person is thinking or feeling is the attempt to 'put ourselves in their shoes'. A programmer might say we try to instantiate a copy of ourselves inside their workspace and see what output it gives. A psychologist would say we use projection. Although the word 'projection' has a pretty seriously negative connotation (like a lot of other terrifically useful concepts, like generalization and stereotype), it is the neurotypical's most useful theory of 'other mind'. The closer you are in mindset to the person you attempt projection on, the better it works. For most guys, it works pretty well when dealing with other men, and poorly, but not so poorly as to be useless, when dealing with women. For the non-neurotypical, projection IS disastrous. It is bad, but usually a little better than useless with the same sex, and almost comically bad with the opposite sex. You can probably explain a large fraction of the relative lack of success of the average geek in romance right here. It doesn't necessarily have to be this way--remember, the purpose here is support and encouragement.

The second thing we reach for besides projection is a mental model of another person or group's behavior---how does it respond to the stimuli we generate? This SHOULD be the social salvation of the non-neurotypical, but in practice, it rarely is. The problem is, we, as a society, systematically lie about a terrific number of things as regards interpersonal relationships. Not being neurotypical myself, I'm not absolutely certain whether we lie intentionally or simply because we lack self-knowledge of our own motivations, or whether we simply do so for fear of social disapproval when we 'let the cat out of the bag', and speak too frankly. Here is the biggest one, in my experience. The only people who you'll meet in ordinary life who will be open on this one are salesmen, and only those speaking generally among themselves:

Doing someone a favor does NOT make them like you more. Getting them to do you a favor (particularly lots of small ones over a period of time) generally DOES.

To the non-neurotypical, or the neurotypical who's trying to use his mind's general processor (his social processor generally doesn't communicate directly with his conscious mind), this MAKES NO SENSE. Why in the hell would I dislike someone who did me lots of favors in the hopes of currying favor/improving their relationship with me? And why would I like a person more/be more willing to do them more favors if I'd donated to their cause in the past/helped them out of numerous jams/had them pester me for favors in the past?

Well, if you're not neurotypical, and I'm not, you wouldn't. However around 95% of the population would, AND THEY'RE NOT GOING TO CHANGE, even (perhaps especially), if you marry them. They're simply not wired that way. It's not a moral thing (although a lot of moral accusations are tossed in BOTH directions here, I'll talk about that a little more in a future post), it's just their nature. If you observe their behavior, both in your personal life and in macro examples in history, you'll find this to be true. Why it's true is something I don't really grok---I mean, I can advance possibilities---like maybe the neurotypical views you asking a favor as a status stroke and you doing him a favor as a status hit which his gut resents or maybe we mishandle it like we typically do sunk costs, but as I said, I don't really grok this one. In general, I counsel the non-neurotypical to do the following:
1) In the words of Dr Phil---ask's that working out for you? I.E. is your mental model of others working for you? If it is, wonderful, if not
2) Suspend your existing model for a little while. Start actually observing what people should probably ignore what they say for the time being
3) Don't worry about explaining so much WHY people do what they do for now, just focus on general stimulus-response pairs...i.e. WHAT they do
Eventually you can work on refining your models into serviceable stereotypes and you'll find your success in this arena greatly enhanced.

If you meditate on this observation (I think Ben Franklin was one of the first to publish it in bald language), you'll find it helps to explain an awful lot of the stuff you see in your interpersonal life that just doesn't make any sense. Why do so many women keep going back to guys they know abuse them? Why do charities pester us incessantly once we've given them money? Why do fraternities, armies, navies, secret societies, and sororities have degrading hazing rituals?

Here are a few concrete suggestions:
If you're like me, you probably have a massively positive 'favor balance' (i.e, you do a lot more favors on the net than you ask for). Reduce that balance---don't explicitly say you're trying to 'call in a favor'---for some reason, being explicit like this REALLY rubs the neurotypical the wrong way because they absolutely HATE having interactions like that framed in transactional terms. Do, on the other hand, ASK for some favors---saying...can you do me a favor or, maybe you can help me or, I've got a problem, and I think you're the one with the (insert positive attribute here) that can help me are all good openers. Don't go hog wild here, but ask for them in cases where you don't necessarily 'need' them. Perversely, you'll find they'll improve and solidify your relationship with the person that does you a favor. If you study a bit of sales, you'll find this one is huge---but I'm not sure the catchy name they're calling it these days :-)

Friday, October 8, 2010

The reactionary plan for victory

Despair not, fellow reactionaries and counter-revolutionaries. Raise up your countenance, ye faint-hearted conservatives, standing athwart history shouting, 'slow down'. Victory is not impossible.

First off, let's define what we mean by victory. By victory I'm not talking about some utopian state where injustices cease, the lion lies down with the lamb and the lamb actually gets some sleep. God already has a victory plan for that, but He made it abundantly clear that no man knows the day or the hour. God has also shown no particular reluctance to let a nation destroy itself through its own wickedness. So while God might decide to bail us out of our predicament, He has lots of reasons not to. What I'm talking about in terms of victory is hegemony over the piece of real estate we call the US. If I've any foreign readers who face similar problems in their own nations, rest assured that my sympathies are with you, and you're free to steal whatever you like from my offerings. In fact, you can even claim them as your own original insights, if you think that'll raise your standing and make you more effective.

To define Hegemony, I find the wiki definition pretty adequate:
Hegemony (ἡγεμονία hēgemonía, English: [UK] , [US]: ; "leadership" or "hegemon" for "leader") is the political, economic, ideological or cultural power exerted by a dominant group over other groups, regardless of the explicit consent of the latter.

Does this not describe what we, the reactionary, counter-revolutionary, and faint-hearted conservative desire? Is it not what we'd answer the great question---what do you want? with should it be asked and limited to matters temporal and not spiritual?

Why does one want hegemony for one's group? Well, from my perspective, the main reason is to prevent ANOTHER group from having it. The sort of hegemony I'm referring primarily to here is demographic. Demographic hegemony is an existential issue. If you have it, you are not at the mercy of the other groups within your society. They act contrary to your interests only at your sufferance. If you don't have it, very bad things tend to happen. Amy Chua's 'World on Fire' catalogs what has happened to a large number of members of market dominant minorities throughout recent history. The experiences of the Jews with pogroms also provides a great deal of insight here as well. It should not surprise anyone that the majority of affirmative action-type programs throughout the world in fact discriminate AGAINST the minority (especially if it is market dominant) in favor of the majority. The US is backwards here, but rest assured, if whites of Euro extraction lose their demographic hegemony, we'll get in step with the rest of the world on this issue. Some readers will no doubt have personal experiences of what happens when they lost demographic hegemony locally.

A look at election statistics shows that despite purported 'natural conservatism' of said groups that our elite has invited to displace us, they are moving us in precisely the opposite direction. This is so blindingly obvious one has to ask the Republican party---what in the Hell are you thinking? This is perhaps why they are the Stupid party.

If you are on the conservative/reactionary side of the cultural war, immigration and demographic hegemony is one battle that you MUST win. If you don't win that battle, the rest of this relatively nonviolent strategy will do you no good. If your enemies can import unlimited numbers of voters that they can buy off with your money, you have lost. Your only option at that point is recourse to arms. Please realize that any significant armed conflict inside the US will destroy the incredibly brittle infrastructure that we've built up via JIT (just in time) systems and a near total lack of civil defense. For a fictional depiction of what is likely to transpire there, I refer you to 'One Second After'. Simply the collapse of the power grid, inevitable if at least one side views the conflict as existential, gets you there. So if you're looking for a litmus issue, that is it. You need to aggressively support programs like Arizona's and as the resistance by your enemies infuriates more of your faint-hearted allies, to continuously ramp up your demands. Doing so will shift the window of acceptable discourse, and thereby, the window of action that people will be willing to countenance. Ultimately you need something even more profound than 'Operation Wetback'. You're going to be called all kinds of names for this, so you need to start with things that are patently reasonable and build the levels of outrage against your opponents, who will feel compelled to repeatedly play their race cards. The good news is that fundamentally, most of the population is in favor of your position. They just lack the self-awareness and willingness to suffer social disapproval to state it boldly. You don't really have to argue with your enemies. Demographic hegemony is an existential issue is not an argument, it is a mailed fist. It is a statement that no appeal to universalist utilitarianism will sway you. Even if we, the white Americans of Euro extraction, ARE devils spawned by Satan in the pits of hell whose grandfathers stole everything they had from Non-Asian minorities, the answer remains the same. You must and will fight to retain your demographic hegemony. The near total lack of such slander against Japan and China, and in fact most other nations also tends to undermine the claim that the reason that we should cheerfully surrender said hegemony over the US is about universalist utilitarianism in favor of the alternate reason that the speaker is simply anti-white. But his hypocrisy or lack thereof really isn't important. Even if he is totally sincere, and donates 80% of his income every year, living only a lifestyle roughly equivalent to the average human on Earth (fat chance, even Peter Singer the high priest of utilitarianism doesn't do that), it DOES NOT matter. He is your enemy, just as much as the hypocrite who is simply anti-white or the useful idiot who just parrots what he mistakenly thinks will make women find him attractive.
You also need to consider this: Charges of Hypocrisy generally only really stick (i.e., give you a useful lever to pry off more people onto your side from the other side) when you control the cultural battlespace. If you're reading this, you don't control it. Notice how the myriad examples of gross hypocrisy on the left fail to mortally wound even it's most egregious offenders? Only if you control a media that aggressively hounds such miscreants does this tactic actually work. It's a useful approach to stoke the anger and commitment levels of your allies, but it's not really all that useful in getting folks on our side. Sad but true.

What we do have going for us is this:

Simply put, our side of the culture war is reproducing itself, and theirs is not. With a few enhancements (celebrating large families, supporting those among our friends that choose to have them, and having more children ourselves), this is the core of our plan for victory. Notice that this is not a tactic, nor a grand strategy in the Napoleonic sense. No, this is something far scarier to anyone who has studied history, particularly military history. This is logistics. Logistical superiority is decisive over protracted conflicts when the side possessing it has the will.
In His great wisdom, he has made many of the great sins self-limiting.

The next big component is to prevent the other side from stealing our children for use against us as virtual jannisaries. The major weapon in the arsenal here is homeschooling. Homeschool families, in addition to having a much better TFR (total fertility ratio averaging 3.5, which may be an underestimate given that not all of the families surveyed are likely to be done having children--link follows) are much more likely to pass their world view on to their children.

The reason for this shouldn't be surprising. The average kid spends around 6-8 hours a day for an average of 180 days a year in school. If you count other para-school activities where they're under the auspices of the school, it gets even worse. This has most parents and churches MASSIVELY outgunned. Most people's world views aren't formed by careful contemplation but rather by rote repetition. Here's another secret. It is practically impossible to teach without also teaching a world view. I found this out directly when teaching engineering, which is one of the LEAST ideological subjects I can think of. So since controlling the public schools isn't feasible UNTIL we have hegemony, and schools are inherently agencies of indoctrination, it follows that we should work to withdraw our children from them and undermine their public support, with an eye towards destroying them or coopting them (in the off chance that we start to succeed on a faster time scale than I had hoped). Fortunately, they really are quite wretched at their stated goals, which is really quite surprising when you think about it. Here they are, with massive staffs and tons of educated people available to them, and massive budgets and resources available to them as well. And they STILL can't produce results better than homeschool moms with a high school education or less. This must infuriate them, as it would me, if your average DIY'er could do better engineering than me with my vaunted PhD and years of industry experience.
Here are some excerpts: (

The education level of the parents made a noticeable difference, but the homeschooled children of non-college educated parents still scored in the 83rd percentile, which is well above the national average.
Neither parent has a college degree—83rd percentile
One parent has a college degree—86th percentile
Both parents have a college degree—90th percentile
Whether either parent was a certified teacher did not matter.
Certified (i.e., either parent ever certified)—87th percentile
Not certified (i.e., neither parent ever certified)—88th percentile

This is really amusing when you think about it, considering that being 'certified' requires a college degree, which has an association with a higher percentile, but non-certified parents still did better (although probably not statistically significantly better). But enough of mocking the prowess of our hard working teachers. Frankly I'm glad they suck, for they did not, making my case to non-ideological potential allies would be far harder. There is no reason in principle that leftist suicidal indoctrination can not be combined with a perfectly adequate academic education. Let us thank God that it is not.

The next part of the strategy, having secured our own children, is to steal theirs. How would we do this? The answer is, the stupid, or perhaps blessed bastards will give them to us. All we have to do is to take them by offering them what they claim they want---i.e., a better education for less money. Getting their young sons is particularly easy. You see, the leftist indoctrination is so anti-male, and especially anti-young boy, that all you have to do to make loyal allies of them is one simple thing. DON'T HATE THEM. A mere lack of animus is really all it takes. There is a generation of young boys that is literally dying for affirmation, particularly from adult males. A nickname for this lack I've seen on a number of blogs is 'Daddy Deprivation'. This lack probably contributes to rates of homosexuality and other social dysfunction. I've seen this effect in my church, which has picked up more than a few such lads sans their heathen parents, who are happy to have free babysitting and group activities from us. Befriend them, form them, and recruit them as soldiers in the fight for their own best interests.

One proposal I'd make for our Catholic brothers of reactionary temperament is to establish schools for the gifted single children of the SWPLs in our large cities. Make them entry-exam schools, like Stuyvesant in New York.
Provide a top quality education with hard core reactionary Catholic indoctrination, like you did in the days where the Jesuits really were the Society of Jesus (think Counter Reformation days). Provide it for very little money in a school surrounded by people that look like them and are from similar social background (the dirty secret of why most SWPLs go for private education or 'good schools' :-). Jesus said to love your enemies, here's your chance. Their parents are mostly your enemies, but when you love their children, you love them. Almost any mother and many fathers get this. These kids will become very influential in 20 years or so, and their parents will SELL them to you. If you've got the cash and the time, I've got your victory, and I'll even let you claim it is your own original insight. No cite necessary, plagiarize at will. Make sure to amplify the correlates of persuasion for your young charges that you are forming as much as possible as well. This means taking physical education seriously. If they come out of your schools noticeably healthier and in better shape than the average population that they are competing with, their words will be taken more seriously and considered more persuasive by default. It's just the way humans work, exploit it without mercy. If the hottest girls in college are demanding chastity prior to marriage and pushing a reactionary Catholic worldview, the boys will be bent in that direction. Similarly, if the best looking, most eligible men are doing likewise, it will majorly influence the opposite sex as well. For a nearly absurd corner case of this, I invite you to consider my Korean friend's explanation of why they view rioting as a really cool sport over there. He basically told me, because the chicks dig it, and a great wave of cross-cultural understanding swept over me :-) Also, sending them into cultural battle in pairs and groups is exponentially more effective. It is not by accident that Jesus sent the disciples out in twos and groups or that Christianity has always been a faith based around community. It is a lot easier to suppress your opposition in debate when you know you're not alone...particularly when you're much better organized. This is a war friends, make no mistake. Start treating it with the seriousness that requires.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Asynchronous Blowback

This thread is open for any blowback, comments, etc from any musings I've posted on other blogs or forums.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Metaphors for the Divine

People have been trying to understand the Divine pretty much for as long as there have been people. Christians, in particular, have the impossible task of wrapping their minds around our conception of who God is. While it is not possible for us to fully comprehend God, we are required to try, and it is hardly correct to say we know nothing about Him or His character. Naturally, being human beings, and therefore demonstrably fallen regardless of the ethical schema one is using, our first attempt to grok God comes out as projection. That is, we make God basically a bigger and more powerful version of ourselves. Sometimes we take this a step further and make ourselves God :-) When you think about it, this is our first cut of a mental model of another mind, be it a mind or The Mind. In a lot of cases, projection works really well, as in when we ourselves are fairly neurotypical and we're interacting with someone who is similar and also neurotypical. We assume they'd want what we'd want in their position. A programmer might view this as instantiating a copy of their own mind inside the other person's body and circumstances and using that instance to predict how the other person feels and how they will react. Unfortunately for them, most programmers are NOT neurotypical. Worse, many of them do not realize how deeply non-neurotypical they actually are. Needless to say, on the other side of the relation, God is most assuredly not neurotypical. We know this from His writings and our own interactions with Him.

So what do we do? Well, like in our own human relationships, we try to build some sort of a mental model of the other person. We do this based on our own experience and folk psychology and what others have told us. If your model inputs are pretty good, your success will in general be pretty good. In short, we construct a metaphor for the other person. Hopefully we realize that the metaphor isn't the other person, but rather a useful construct for understanding that person.

Christians have been at this metaphor construction business with respect to God for an awfully long time. The Gospels, for instance, are full of them. The first one is God as Father.

This metaphor is one of the best ones, IMO, and perfectly adequate for almost all purely ordinary theological purposes (i.e., what does God expect of me, how should I try to relate to Him, and how does He feel about me?). It doesn't help much when one attempts to understand why God made a world that He knew would fall, or what is His purpose in allowing evil or pain, but for most people, most of the time, it does the job. Why does a father love his son? Having recent experience with a very small son of my own, I can simply answer, because he is mine. A programmer would say that the son inherits some fraction of the father's love for himself, as well as some fraction of his love for the mother. The impulse is biological, and strong, I do not have a choice as to whether to love him or not, I simply do because that is the sort of creature I am. The little boy has a strong nonrational claim on my loyalties and my affection, even when he is being difficult. I first encountered this with my older brother's children, and I was honestly somewhat taken aback by it despite it being significantly attenuated from the feelings I experience with my own son.

The Father metaphor fits the narrative of the Old Testament very well, with Israel continually following the misbehavior->oppression->suffering->repentance->deliverance-Misbehavior cycle. As time goes on, they started frequently skipping the repentance stage. How does God feel about that? His actions are very consistent with those of a good father, trying to bring about the best for his children. He suffers when He must chastise and discipline. Frequently in the latter part of the book of judges, He delivers them, not because they repented, but because He simply could not bear to see their suffering any more. One could say this is a very human feeling, or conversely, that when we feel this it is a very divine one. We are after all, in His image, although we are fallen. What does a father want from his son? In general they want to love their son, and to be loved and obeyed in return. They desire that their son realize his potential and live a good and moral life. Many fathers want other things, but I think most want at least those. But God is far more than merely a father. When one considers the problems of evil and pain, we find ourselves reaching for another metaphor. I'll talk about some more of these metaphors in my next post.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Rational economic man, marriage, and assorted social institutions

Rational economic man, that construct beloved of many economics textbook authors, is hardly a superhero. Indeed, a nontrivial fraction of the population behaving as him can seriously weaken a number of our social institutions.

For instance, imagine that rational economic man is getting up in years and wants to leave his estate to his heirs, but to avoid all estate taxes and the like. Normally, we don't allow this, imposing a rather stern estate tax on large estates. But rational economic man is clever, and gives not a damn for any transcendent properties of our institutions. So he strategically divorces his wife, strategically marries his granddaughter in law with a clever prenuptial agreement, and then divorces her to remarry his former wife while his grandaughter in law remarries his grandson. Trampling of course all over the spirit of marriage, but transferring an arbitrary portion of his estate to his grandkids and dodging all the clever barriers society has deemed fit to place in his way. Rational economic man can also make use of the institution of marriage to transfer citizenship (in India, for instance, such is generally valued at around 100k in their marriage markets), to enjoy privilege against having to testify against one's spouse, and as a general way of transferring assets beyond the limits of the gift tax without creating a taxable event. He can also use it to confer his health plan to a spouse and their children for primarily financial reasons (generally health plans do not expect that spouses and children will be adversely selected...but rational economic man will certainly do that). To top it off, he can also arrange to game the Social Security system after his death by transferring his benefits to a vastly younger woman.

But rational economic man is just getting started. During the real estate boom, he purchased a house valued at 400,000 dollars, taking out a standard 30 year mortgage in a non-recourse state (California of course). Owing to the housing market collapse, his house is now valued at 200,000. Rational economic man therefore stops bothering to send his mortgage checks (which he can still easily afford, as he is RATIONAL economic man, and did not take a mortgage that he couldn't afford). He knows that it'll be upwards of a year before he is foreclosed upon, and might even accept a principal reduction (to 200,000) if such was offered by the lender. He's quite the ruthless borrower. He knows that inside 7 years any damage to his credit rating will be effaced, and rationally values the 200k (and the 12-18 months of rent-free living) more than it. In essence, he treats the non-recourse option on mortgages in his state like a put option on the property that he purchased. Want to know what happens when lots of people take this position? Just wait, you'll see. Non-recourse mortgages, bankruptcy forgiveness after 7 years, and a number of other laws were put in place to avoid putting the genuinely needy into debt slavery as a result of bad luck or mishap. They won't survive a lot of people gaming the system and the rest of us feeling like suckers for playing by the spirit of the rules. Previously, social sanction, shared values, and mild social ostracism limited the gaming of such systems, but one can presently seriously question whether there actually IS an overall society now, and certainly whether it shares values. With corporations and banks freely defaulting whenever it is profitable to do so, and frequently being bailed out by the government, it is very hard to argue that the little guy should still be required to play according to the spirit of the stay cricket, so to speak.

So where am I going with all this? The common thread is the desacralization of our social institutions---marriage, lending, and the like. We have put in place a number of refinements to our rules regarding these institutions that have the effect of shielding most people from a number of onerous hardships. For instance, we wouldn't feel right about holding Joe in debt bondage indefinitely when his life takes a turn out of the book of Job. Our bankruptcy laws, for instance, go back to the tradition of Jubilees described in the Old Testament. Our rules surrounding marriage are based on a presumption of a transcendent quality in said relationship. We would all be poorer if we had to drop all of the privileges of marriage and of borrowers in general that could not be sustained in the presence of the Rational Economic Men. So clearly we need to avoid taking actions and setting policies that encourage this desacralization. This is, IMO, one of the strongest arguments against extending marriage to gay couples. It is also a pretty strong argument against no-fault divorce.

Alternatively, we can dump the notion of the income tax and the estate tax in general, opting to raise money in some fashion that doesn't care about the particular economic unions that exist in the society as a whole, probably a consumption tax. We would also have to make significant revisions to our immigration law and make pretty much all loans full-recourse (in addition to returning to the days of at least 10% down so the borrower has 'skin in the game'). We would also have to seriously evaluate the bankruptcy laws and most likely make them far more punitive in general. To invert the words of Bush the First, we would have to establish a meaner, harsher society.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Sola Scriptura or Solo Scriptura?

I self-identify myself as a Protestant, and, in theory I agree with Sola Scriptura---the belief that Scripture is sufficient guide to what Christians should believe on things which are actually salient to Christianity. When the Holy Spirit moves to enable the full comprehension of what Scripture means, this works quite well. Unfortunately, this far too often seems not to be the case, and I find myself in sympathy with the more Catholic position that church tradition should be given a far greater weight.

I suppose one simply has to reflect that on many issues with theological significance, most of the church is presently at serious variance with the unseen church---that is the communion of saints reaching back to around 30 AD. Further, most Christians place far higher weight on current opinion then on the opinion prevalent in say, 100 AD, 500 AD, or 1500 AD. Further, one has to admit that Protestantism itself has schismed over and over again, to the point of being a frequent source of humor. It would seem that the Spirit animating many interpretations of Scripture is not in fact the Holy Spirit but a decidedly more malevolent one, or sometimes, perhaps no Spirit at all but simply a desire to find an interpretation that does not require the reader to be out of step with his peers and his age.

What can we do about this? Should we beg readmission to the Catholic Church, with it's more centralized approach to scriptural interpretation? Should we just pray harder? I can't answer either of those questions for myself, much less for any reader who happens to have dropped by for whatever reason. All I can suggest is this:

We must accept that our predecessors in the Church were at least as Christian as we are, in the aggregate. We must furthermore accept that they succeeded in spreading at least the knowledge of the Gospel to at least as great of a degree as we have. Furthermore, they have generally had a degree of understanding of the Bible at least as great as the average possessed by Christians today (a brief examination of the surveys of knowledge of Christians of the doctrines and beliefs of their faith will reveal this is a fairly low bar to meet). In many cases, they are far closer to the social circumstances in which the Bible was written and are closer to the source material than we were. For instance, how many of us have ANY concept of what living in a low-surplus society is like? Or what the accomodations needed to make such societies work actually are? I suspect that only a few modern Christians, likely those who have lived in very poor places of the world during long term missions have any grasp of this at all---and even then, they generally always had the option to move back---such privation was not a permanent state of affairs.
Given these premises, I would suggest this to anyone inclined to make pronouncement about how the Bible says that Christians should behave today.
Honestly answer the question, how would orthodox Christians from AD 500, 1000, 1500, 1750, and 1900 answer your question? If they all, or most all, agree with your position, you are probably right. Certainly each era has its errors, but as C.S. Lewis famously pointed out, they usually aren't the SAME errors. If most or all of them would disagree with you, the burden of proving that YOU aren't the heretic is pretty large. Smart as you might be, you probably aren't smarter than the collected wisdom and practice of your religion, and if you accept the premises of your religion at all, you must recognize that you are 'running on corrupted hardware' as the folks over at overcomingbias are fond of pointing out (in our neck of the woods, we call it original sin or total depravity, or simply failing to be a Pelagian heretic :-).
So let's take a hard case---slavery. Both Old and New Testaments talk quite a bit about it, probably because it was a fairly common part of the experience of a large fraction of the population. It isn't presented as an ineffibly evil institution in either Testament. Paul, in his letters to a slave and his master, doesn't even say the master should free the slave to the master. Yet in the 1700s, the church started moving strongly in the direction of condemning slavery and we take it totally for granted now that slavery is contrary to Christianity.
Why is this? Were the Christians who accepted slavery, serfdom and similar instruments of bondage wrong for nearly 1700 years?

I would argue that the key to understanding this lies in understanding the low surplus human society's condition. We are obscenely richer than anyone born before the 1700s. In a low surplus society, you simply can't afford to do a lot of things we take for granted now. In fact, you might not even be able to feed everyone. So what, in such a society, do you do with your screwups, idiots, and people who just can't fend for themselves? Your minor criminals that you can't afford to incarcerate and feed, your prisoners of war? The most merciful answer to that question is often bond-servitude, be it slavery, serfdom, indentured servitude, or the like. Christianity was not designed to only work in high surplus societies like our own, but in any society that God or Man might decide to inflict on us. Therefore it emphasizes that such servitude carries reciprocal obligations on the part of both master and slave (refer to Paul's various letters and the laws regulating slavery in the Old Testament). So why did it become considered an evil thing in the 1700s? Well, for that I suggest heading down to your local gym. Find yourself a fancy exercise bike or treadmill---one with a calorie consumption meter that will display in watts. You'll find that producing 150 watts is quite taxing, and the 6-7 hours that would be required to squeeze 1 Kilowatt-hour out of you very fatiguing indeed. Congratulations---you've just produced about 12 cents worth of power. This should drive home just how rich in terms of the power at our command we've become since the Industrial Revolution and the widespread availability of fossil fuels. Christians in the 1700s recognized that the amount of wealth available to society HAD FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGED as a result. Furthermore, Christians recognized that they had always been obliged to be as charitable as they could afford to be, and no more, and that said obligation had just enlarged along with their purses. Therefore they argued that society should no longer permit slavery.

Of course they didn't express it in many cases in exactly those terms, but it is telling that the timing is so close. Slavery generally ended in heavily Christian countries about as soon as society could afford to end it. Regretably, most abolitionists in the US didn't phrase their arguments in these terms. Had they done so, slavery might have ended in the US via a buyout similar to that in Brazil instead of via the bloodiest war in American history.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

On fostering 'diversity' in churches

There has been a fair bit of talk on the notion of megachurches fostering 'racial transcendence' (most recently on http:\\ Here's my take on the diversity issue as it relates to churches.

Different styles of churches for different sorts of people are very important, in my opinion.People need a church where they can feel as if they are a valued part of the community---a little platoon or company of the body of Christ.People differ a LOT on the expressive style of their worship. Everything from silent and contemplative to exhuberant and 'Spirit-Filled'...people with one style DO NOT feel comfortable when they're in an area dominated by an opposing style. Guess what else, different races have different distributions of preferred worship styles---they differ on everything else in terms of the distribution, why should this surprise anyone? Left to their own devices, the extraverts in a population similar to the US will tend to run roughshod over the introverts as well. Churches have their own personalities, and necessarily so. A number of denominations and churches have made themselves into places where introverts are quite at home, by suppressing the ability of the extraverts to dominate the social scene of the church and by attracting a disproportionate share of introverts relative to the population as a whole. My wife, for instance, absolutely can't stand the Pentecostal style of worship, whereas I'm indifferent to mildly friendly to it. Neither of us are at all tolerant of the notion that all cultures are of equal value, excepting White American and European culture, which is evil. Churches are frankly one of the last bastions of free association in the Western World. I get very angry when people try to browbeat churches into 'integrating'. My take is that good churches are open to whoever has a desire to go, and if they want to become part of the community, they'll stay. To go out of one's way to bring 'diversity' to a particular church absent a clear calling from God is, IMO, wrong.