Culturalism

Narrative Crippling

This post will likely be arriving too late for the presses, but in some respects it has an evergreen flavor. I can’t say I watched the Olympics, not because of limited time availability per se, but on account of having minimal interest in the events. Sure, they worked hard, but any appeals to patriotism are increasingly lost on me. We are expected to be proud of a nation which few can define anymore, as presenting a common image is beyond the capacity of most flag-wavers. Just believe and stay quiet is the takeaway.

One thing did grab my attention though: the hammer blow to an inflated story written by our social influencers. As some remember, Simone Biles failed to deliver the goods, resulting in a less-than-stellar finish for the goddess of popular media. Megan Rapinoe was similarly unremarkable. At a glance, they’re two athletes who had a bad day, and might possibly return to triumph in the future. I cared little about the results, although seeing pink hair lose was pleasurable. On the other hand, Biles’ demise wasn’t welcome or heartbreaking; it just happened.

For others of course, these developments quickly became a crisis. You see, over the past several years our journalistic benefactors have fixated on a single narrative: that in the era of resurgent white supremacy, “strong” diversity women would continuously rise up to conquer the unreachable, proving that history was marching on towards progress, and Trump remained a temporary distraction. Hence the deification of Kamala Harris despite her atrocious record, and the mouth-watering joy brought on by Squad summits. They fit the bill, and everything’s fine.

Until it changes. The Olympic losses were not simply a flash in the pan; for folks who have dedicated their lives to these narratives, such defeats threaten their mental well-being. So it was inevitable that we would see pieces like this:

Realize why they were put on word processor: to reinforce the fractured notions in the head of the writer. Few people actually care about Rapinoe not scoring more goals, or Biles dropping out; the messages are all about who’s sending them. Stay calm, continue the propaganda, and it’ll be alright. The steady hand, a comforting lullaby.

God forbid they should ever have to rise from the sweet slumber.

Culturalism

Tradeside Manner

Sometime after the 2008 collapse, there was a deluge of self-promoters cropping up on the internet to offer alternatives to the stereotypical ideals defended by liberal arts proponents. Initially medical services were trumpeted as the obvious route in a world where aging populations and frequent viral scares gripped the public consciousness. For whatever reason, the white coat phenomenon found itself hotly pursued by brazen cries of “Do STEM!” or, almost as equally , “Go into trades!”

Nothing is essentially wrong with the latter suggestion. Trade fields could provide stable work and competitive benefits when clashed with the dreary wage-slaving that was post-2009 America, at least until COVID relief payments changed the game. There is also a value inherent to mastering some skill which can then be applied in one’s own life to save money. As an organism who has spent a good bit on fixing my house up, I can confirm this dynamic. Paying for a lack of knowledge is rarely cheap.

The real issue visible in these groups of macho, “work with your hands” types is different: they typically lack even the basic modicum of professionalism and respect. Though I am often browbeaten by online ragelings upon pointing out the reality, it is one that countless others I have spoken to express frustration over. Despite being the supposed paragons of All-American self-reliance, the creatures operating construction companies and the like rarely seem to care who calls them, what has previously been committed to, or indeed how much money is already on the line. It’s all about their time and fancies.

I began to notice this conundrum starting last summer. A chimney company called for work twice promised to be there, only to never give a ring or show. Later on I received a passive-aggressive message claiming the fellow had an emergency and could still do the job. No thanks.  Another contractor took a fat deposit before delaying the work for months with evasiveness and excuses. When confronted on the matter, he became defensive and tried to insult one of my female relatives who had earlier had work done by his firm. Unsurprisingly, the final quality was subpar.

Three well-drilling companies so far have proven similarly useless, incapable of keeping to deadlines and actually condescending if they don’t want to admit that the job is beyond their willpower. In the case of one roofer, he actually provided a quote and then ghosted me, while the current one simply takes his time. I suppose a reader could chalk it up to my personality being toxic or unruly, but the truth is, I’m relatively straightforward: do the work on time, and get paid immediately. Financing be damned. But still the pattern exists.

Popular trade shills are bound to respond with the justification that these guys have too much work and can’t be bothered. Alright, but all one needs at the mom-and-pop level is a piece of paper with names, addresses, and project types. No soul is demanding a full-fledged secretary outsourced to the Bay of Bengal. Be thorough, for sure, but try to get back within a few days at the latest, and not weeks in the future, if ever.

End of soapbox screech. If you plan to be in the blue collar field, work on your tradeside manners.

Culturalism

Green Passages

For the benefit of potential research in the future, I decided to compile some of the most interesting quotes from The Green Book here.

On Democracy


“Political struggle that results in the victory of a candidate with, for example, 51 per cent of the votes leads to a dictatorial governing body in the guise of a false democracy, since 49 per cent of the electorate is ruled by an instrument of government they did not vote for, but which has been imposed upon them. Such is dictatorship.” (7-8)

“Moreover, since the system of elected parliaments is based on propaganda to win votes, it is a demagogic system in the real sense of the word. Votes can be bought and falsified. Poor people are unable to compete in the election campaigns, and the result is that only the rich get elected. Assemblies constituted by appointment or hereditary succession do not fall under any form of democracy.” (11)

On Laws

“The natural law of any society is grounded in either tradition (custom) or religion. Any other attempt to draft law outside these two sources is invalid and illogical. Constitutions cannot be considered the law of society. A constitution is fundamentally a (man-made) positive law, and lacks the natural source from which it must derive its justification.” (27)

“Religion contains tradition, and tradition is an expression of the natural life of the people. Therefore, religion is an affirmation of natural laws which are discerned therein. Laws which are not premised on religion and tradition are merely an invention by man to be used against his fellow man. Consequently, such laws are invalid because they do not emanate from the natural source of tradition and religion.” (30)

On Wages and Socialism

“Attempts that were aimed at wages were contrived and reformative, and have failed to provide a solution. They were more of a charity than a recognition of the rights of the workers. Why do workers receive wages? Because they carry out a production process for the benefit of others who hire them to produce a certain product. In this case, they do not consume what they produce; rather, they are compelled to concede their product for wages. Hence, the sound rule: those who produce consume. Wage-earners, however improved their wages may be, are a type of slave. Wage-earners are but slaves to the masters who hire them. They are temporary slaves, and their slavery lasts as long as they work for wages from employers, be they individuals or the state. The workers’ relationship to the owner or the productive establishment, and to their own interests, is similar under all prevailing conditions in the world today, regardless of whether ownership is right or left. Even publicly-owned establishments give workers wages as well as other social benefits, similar to the charity endowed by the rich owners of economic establishments upon those who work for them.” (42)

“Any surplus beyond the satisfaction of needs should ultimately belong to all members of society. Individuals, however, have a right to effect savings from the share allocated to their own needs since it is the amassing of wealth beyond the satisfaction of one’s needs that is an encroachment upon public wealth.” (61)

On Nationalism and Liberalism

“Nations whose nationalism is destroyed are subject to ruin. Minorities, which are one of the main political problems in the world, are the outcome. They are nations whose nationalism has been destroyed and which are thus torn apart. The social factor is, therefore, a factor of life – a factor of survival. It is the nation’s innate momentum for survival. Nationalism in the human world and group instinct in the animal kingdom are like gravity in the domain of material and celestial bodies. If the sun lost its gravity, its gasses would explode and its unity would no longer exist. Accordingly, unity is the basis for survival. The factor of unity in any group is a social factor; in man’s case, nationalism. For this reason, human communities struggle for their own national unity, the basis for their survival. The national factor, the social bond, works automatically to impel a nation towards survival, in the same way that the gravity of an object works to keep it as one mass surrounding its centre.” (70-71)

“To disregard the national bond of human communities and to establish a political system in contradiction to social reality establishes only a temporary structure which will be destroyed by the movement of the social factor of those groups, i.e., the national integrity and dynamism of each community.” (83)

On Women and Modernity

“Deliberate interventions against conception form an alternative to human life. In addition to that, there exists partial deliberate intervention against conception, as well as against breastfeeding. All these are links in a chain of actions in contradiction to natural life, which is tantamount to murder. For a woman to kill herself in order not to conceive, deliver and breast-feed is within the realm of deliberate, artificial interventions, in contradiction with the nature of life epitomized by marriage, conception, breast-feeding, and maternity. They differ only in degree. To dispense with the natural role of woman in maternity – nurseries replacing mothers – is a start in dispensing with the human society and transforming it into a merely biological society with an artificial way of life. To separate children from their mothers and to cram them into nurseries is a process by which they are transformed into something very close to chicks, for nurseries are similar to poultry farms into which chicks are crammed after they are hatched. Nothing else would be as appropriate and suitable to the human being and his dignity as natural motherhood. Children should be raised by their mothers in a family where the true principles of motherhood, fatherhood and comradeship of brothers and sisters prevail, and not in an institution resembling a poultry farm. Even poultry, like the rest of the members of the animal kingdom, need motherhood as a natural phase. Therefore, breeding them on farms similar to nurseries is against their natural growth. Even their meat is artificial rather than natural. Meat from mechanized poultry farms is not tasty and may not be nourishing because the chicks are not naturally bred and are not raised in the protective shade of natural motherhood. The meat of wild birds is more tasty and nourishing because they are naturally fed. As for children who have neither family nor shelter, society is their guardian, and only for them, should society establish nurseries and related institutions. It is better for them to be taken care of by society rather than by individuals who are not their parents. If a test were carried out to discover whether the natural propensity of the child is towards its mother or the nursery. the child would opt for the mother and not the nursery. Since the natural tendency of a child is towards its mother, she is the natural and proper person to give the child the protection of nursing. Sending a child to a nursery in place of its mother is coercive and oppressive and against its free and natural tendencies.” (87-88)

“All societies today look upon women as little more than commodities. The East regards her as a commodity to be bought and
sold, while the West does not recognize her femininity. Driving woman to do man’s work is a flagrant aggression against the femininity with which she is naturally provided and which defines a natural purpose essential to life. Man’s work obscures woman’s beautiful features which are created for female roles. They are like blossoms which are created to attract pollen and to produce seeds. If we did away with the blossoms, the role of plants in life would come to an end. The natural embellishment in butterflies and birds and animal females exists to that natural vital purpose. If a woman carries out men’s work, she risks being transformed into a man, abandoning her role and her beauty. A woman has full right to live without being forced to change into a man and to give up her femininity.” (93)

Culturalism

The Bearded Conflict

Up until I graduated college, I had never grown much of a beard. It was not for lack of ability, my Mediterranean roots more than obliging there, but rather practice. Time in the Scouts and state guard made me view smoothness and professionalism as superior virtues. To get anywhere beyond a light facial shadow was highly unacceptable. Perhaps a slightly moral or elitist edge was tied to such inclinations, like the contrast between Cromwellian purity and the floppy disarray of the cavaliers. At least I have heard that historically Protestants and Catholics traded beard-wearing to distinguish themselves on a social level.

Following matriculation I allowed a neat scruff to form, at various times cutting it down to the Walter White goatee. My retired military friend suggested I looked like an “Allahu Kind Bar” with the former, while the latter was largely unnoticed, except by this French chick who claimed I was sporting it to look advanced in years. Why not?

Once I entered into a more serious relationship, the general specter of female influence caused me to keep it shaved for the most part.  Was this a reflection of the Beverly Crusher fixation on removing the mystery (or manhood) of her male companions, who could grow a beard she was incapable of? Then again, women shave a great deal (thankfully), and the style for men has been pushed by not only the aforementioned Oliver, but Peter the Great as well. Hence it is difficult to forge an entirely proto-feminist claim about the concept, even if the cutting of men extends far past regenerating face follicles, often with open womanly approval.

No, I figure there is something else to the dynamic. Beards are not remanded to some obscure masculine trait that females desire to stamp out, and facial dysfunction guys find enraging; at the most basic level, they represent a certain autonomy of the self. Though exceptions no doubt exist, shavers are usually doing so to meet the prescriptions of a particular environment or social circle, such as the office, military service, or church. They recognize that the phalanx of bare faces will react with distrust or even sanctions if someone flaunts popular cohesion, and thus elect to not draw attention. Only those with a special health or religious exemption shall be permitted to fall through the cracks, and for certain folks the mere act of getting special consideration is dishonorable. So they continue to glide across sandpaper.

In contrast, the fellows more resigned to their life and existence care less about what society thinks, even if it may be correct in making particular judgments. Sure, they could be a lot of grubby armchair rebels with just enough passion to vote Libertarian at the next election, but that’s something.  Better than peeling off layers of skin for the good of the Man and a paycheck, potentially.

As of right now my beard is coming on strong, but I’m still conflicted. The sensation can be irritable when compared with a cool 24-hour shadow, but not far beyond that. You’ve also got the threads that hang over each lip, drying them out and becoming a distraction. And yet, I can’t help but feel authentic, so it stays for now.  

Culturalism · Economic History

The Positivity Church

Probably the most frequent dispute I’ve encountered on the internet dot com is that involving the positive mindset gurus vs. realist thinkers. At first glance, it might seem as though no such disagreement should exist; after all, can’t one be positive and also embrace a level-headed posture? Perhaps, but in our modern world of incessant ass-slapping and rah-rah boosting, the very suggestion of a dissenting view can prove devastating, whether to one’s reputation or the ability to hold a job. Ridiculous? Aye. Prone to disappearing anytime soon? Chance would be a fine thing.

For a long time I have held this skeptical view of rambunctious, motivational positivity culture. My recent run-through of Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided only heightened the sentiment with its brutal takedown of the entire “be positive” regime. Throughout the text, Ehrenreich cuts at every idiotic trope in American culture, even crushing the numerous studies which purport to link health with positivity. I was especially touched by her section on back-slapping responses from people following a breast cancer diagnosis. Almost two decades ago I became exposed to the same insufferable foolishness when a soccer teammate underwent cancer treatment. Here was a young boy dealing with bouts of chemotherapy and the social stigma of losing his hair, and what was the nurse’s advice? Smile more. Even as a child the notion seemed nonsensical, darting to the heart of humanistic attempts to rationalize and empower people where solemn forthrightness would probably be better.

Other angles of the book are similarly uncompromising. She notes how the rise of life coaches and mindset experts is directly related to the economic decline of the United States since 1970, and its accompanying feelings of insecurity. People no longer have decent jobs and benefits, so they fixate on this happiness spirituality as a shield against reality. Unsurprisingly, corporate executives have aggressively pushed mindset development programs on employees, even as the same captains of industry cut firms down to the bare bones in order to help Wall Street profiteers. Stop being a victim! Just work harder and be happy! Is the ghost-like echo in our minds.

Such blind positiveness can of course lead to destructive outcomes. Ehrenreich suggests the happy-go-lucky attitude helped make intelligence officials complacent in the lead-up to 9/11, even as numerous warning signs lurked. Raising the alarm was not welcomed in an era of “the next century” and America’s seemingly invincible status with technology and the peace dividend. A similar scenario gripped Dick Fuld at the helm of Lehman Brothers, where he fired naysayers who warned of impending disaster, only to spend years contemplating what went wrong with his disastrous leadership.

Applied to the book I am writing, the positivity issue gains added steam. The immediate response of skeptics to a realist look on dating is to claim the perspective is “too negative” or even “nihilistic.” Neither of these labels actually change the underlying problem, of course. A guy who struggles with getting dates will generate meager returns from simply acting positive and repeating some contrived slogan about the power of pozzed thinking. Hope is obviously not a strategy, and often we are better served by brutally examining the facts and acting upon them, rather than floating towards Cloud Nine.

I hardly expect attitudes to change any time soon, and indeed it may be better they don’t. While the linkages between positive thoughts and healing are largely non-existent, I suppose if enough folks think they’re doing something good, at least a short-run benefit might be maximized. Longer-term however, stark fealty to the positive kingdom can easily lead to delusion and personal downfall. It’s all about reality vs. pleasant aspirations, and they don’t always match up.  

Uncategorized

Is Everyone Being Outraged Without Me?

In today’s world I often find myself confused. Not because my brain malfunctions, or simply chooses to be sluggish, but rather on account of the strange tendency for people to suddenly agitate over things that wouldn’t otherwise bat an eye. We saw it previously with the Peloton ad, which generated mass hysteria for absolutely no reason, forcing Google to preempt questions about why we should all be enraged:

More recently, the Plural Left was able to dig up anger regarding some white woman’s attempt to market food in her unique way. The culprit, a literal Karen, added some different flavors to congee, a mundane breakfast dish popular in Asian circles. She also wrote a post discussing her “improvements” to the slushy gruel, but clearly honored its longtime cultural foundations in Asia. The response? Utterly juvenile. Casey Ho, a female with questionable gender credentials, had this to say:

I sincerely apologize for subjecting you to that image. What remains interesting is how people are (justifiably) confused:

It seems we can only expect more of this desperate grasping for meaning in the years to come. America is unquestionably in decline, so the propensity of folks to scrounge for anything with which to give themselves purpose and opportunities for moralistic strutting is bound to flourish. We can either join in, ferociously shaking fists at the established boogeyman, or stay agape, wondering where it all came from.

Choose wisely.

Culturalism · Economic History · Self-Improvement

The Trouble With Experts

About a week ago some cable network marionettes carted out a few professors to provide “robust analysis” on the new presidential rankings list. To nobody’s surprise, the top spots included figures like George Washington, Abe Lincoln, FDR, and Teddy Roosevelt. At the bottom (counting up), we have James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, and of course Donald Trump. Hilariously, William Henry Harrison, who occupied the White House for a few months before passing away, was ranked higher than Donald, along with Millard Fillmore and Warren G. Harding. The experts proceeded to note that Andrew Jackson lost ground in the rankings, speculating that this was on account of Trump being a fan of Old Hickory. Finally, the empowered and oppressed female professor expressed dismay that slave-holding presidents would still rank high on the list.

Leaving aside the amusing dynamics of FDR being in the top five immediately after the “Stop Asian hate” campaign, and Teddy Roosevelt, who complained about “race suicide,” I was struck by the shallowness of it all. These are after all learned individuals with countless papers, books, and at least one dissertation under their belts, yet the behavior is unchanged. Still we can expect the aggressive public shilling for mainstream narratives, regardless of their cost to history and truth. Anything to avoid getting targeted by a rage pill mob, I suppose.

The broader problem of “listen to the experts” was highlighted by the U.S. experience with COVID-19. As we all know, the government’s response was a hodgepodge of finger-pointing, political hedging, and flat-out delusion. When lockdowns were first proposed, no one could agree with a broad strategy, leading to a patchwork quilt response by the so-called intellectual class. A most vivid instance of this disconnect came when health experts condemned protestors who opposed the lockdowns while shortly thereafter approving demonstrations against police practices. Were the eggheads really motivated by research, or a profound desire to not be tarred and feathered on social media for their consistency?

This raises a bigger question about who one can trust to give good advice. If doctors are “afraid of the backlash” caused by advising against say, the annual flu vaccine, then how can they be relied upon to make proper calls in other areas? As far as many of us know, the man in the white coat could be prescribing indirect poison simply to keep his public image intact. It’s a total minefield, yet even bringing up the issue smarts of being a heretic under the religious purges of olden times. Difference is, they didn’t have social media and Google reputations to worry about.

I suppose it renders my soapbox rather past expiration, but I have to stress the importance of performing due diligence in all aspects of life affecting your health, emotional well-being, and finances. I don’t care if the speaker has a PhD, or indeed rails against higher education every single day to get views. The moment you permit your mind to be outsourced is the start of a long (and potentially hazardous) decline. Steel your brains, and look past the welcoming glow. Experts or not, they’re only human.   

Culturalism

The Importance of Physical Books

After watching The Prudentialist’s take on memory and dystopias, I was struck by a certain realization: physical books really are essential. This feels difficult to accept when one is on the production side, as it is painful to work with the machinations of formatting and page design. For example, my most recent production involved a battle over how to keep chapter headings in place, and earlier offerings had problems related to subheadings flying across pages to leave white seas of blank in their wake. At times you want to simply bin the whole thing and capitulate to ebook hegemony.

Yet maybe that’s all part of the plan. While digital promotion offers the benefits of speed and relative affordability, the medium also denies readers certain unquestionable privileges. When we hold a book in our hands, it embodies a legacy inheritance of the author’s mind. The text remains continuously accessible as long as ownership does not lapse, and serves to safeguard that period of history and production. No one can say “that didn’t happen,” or at least not without facing the challenge of bound paper imprinted by dates, or, perhaps more importantly, the writer’s transmission at that time. Language style might give further clues to the temporal skeptics, along with any strong allegories from history.

In contrast, a digital file is easier to hide under the ghosting of propaganda.  It can be corrupted, lost based on a device’s failure, or drowned by internet search results. More distinctly, one might argue that an ebook is not really a book at all, particularly in the case of Amazon. While paperback books receive an ISBN and are traceable in the global database of written texts, ebooks that lack a paper cousin have no such advantage. Thus you are free to delete the digital title from Bezos-Chan’s website and it will properly disappear. A paperback on the other hand can be removed, but the profile remains in place because of its ISBN listing. Sure, Amazon could elect to withdraw a book from its website, but as long as the paper version exists there will be a record on the internet.

This is precisely what our elitist overlords do not want. Like the Green Lady from The Silver Chair, they insist any prior world and history is a dream, and in fact never existed. We are supposed to believe that America was founded on the principle of diversity, genders do not matter, and the make-believe “fascist establishment” is actually oppressing liberal partisans desiring progress. These can only be made true if individuals lose all contact with their past and come to think that the start of history was 2008. So far they have been remarkably successful, largely due to social media and the broader digital onslaught in our lives.

While they are only one aspect of the struggle, physical books provide an important measure to toss in the face of leftist propagandists. Build a collection for yourself, and consider it an inheritance to be passed on at some point. Value oral histories and traditions as well, for these are even more difficult to eradicate when they continue to be practiced. Keep a journal, and consider printing out photographs instead of storing them “in the cloud,” where someday things could just vanish. You don’t need to be a revolutionary, but simply avoid succumbing to this bland technical erasure.