Relations and Dating

Men and Marriage

Here we go with another notes post. George Gilder definitely goes off the rails with some of his work, but the broader take on male/female relationships in Men and Marriage, a reissue of his older Sexual Suicide book, is quite excellent. His essential argument is that women are sexually superior, whereas men find themselves lost searching for an identity in our modern world of hostility towards the smallest signs of manliness.

On Silly Appeals to Physical Superiority

“In primitive societies men have the compensation of physical strength. They can control women by force and are needed to protect them from other men. But this equalizer is relatively unimportant in a civilized society, where the use of force is largely restricted by law and custom. In successful civilized societies, man counterbalances female sexual superiority by playing a crucial role as provider and achiever. Money replaces muscle.” (6)

On Intercourse Driving Identity

“For men the desire for sex is not simply a quest for pleasure. It is an indispensable test of identity. And in itself it is always ultimately temporary and inadequate. Unless his maleness is confirmed by his culture, he must enact it repeatedly, and perhaps destructively for himself or his society.” (11)

“The most obvious relief, masturbation, is a flight from sexual identity rather than an affirmation of it. Relations with girls, moreover, are ambiguous and complicated at this stage.” (26)

“In modern society, sexual relations with women are becoming the chief way men assert their sexual identity. But in most of the world’s societies, sexual relations follow achievement of manhood, or accompany it.” (27)

“But homosexuality is merely the most vivid and dramatic manifestation of the breakdown of monogamy—a extreme expression of the sexuality of single men. […] Homosexuality can therefore feel more natural to many men than their comparatively laborious, expensive, and frustrating pursuits of young women.” (69, 74)

On Money and Providers

“But unlike the warrior’s emblems and hunter’s game, money lacks gender. Women can get it as well as men. The provider role, therefore, is losing its immediate sexual correlation. It is sustained by the greater desire of men to perform it, and by their greater aptitude for competition.” (47)

Culturalism · Economic History

Moving Soviets

When the initial previews for the show Snowpiercer materialized, I immediately assumed it would be little more than social justice nonsense. No element at the time filled me with motivation to actually view the forthcoming episodes, but I naively assumed the writing quality would be adequate to foment a respectable storyline. After all, producers likely spent millions to create their epic saga.

Yet I was horrendously wrong. Not only does the series feature some of the worst acting ever to grace the screen, most embodied by Daveed Diggs’ resting intersectional feminism voice, which scarcely ever rises to an octave pitch indicating intensity of emotion or drive. In fact, he spends most of the show looking on in bewilderment and irritation at what is occurring, while hardly appearing to care about what, if anything, happens.

Other characters are similarly demotivational. Jennifer Connelly plays the harsh but altogether confused head of public relations. Some buxom Irish chick is the evil Natzi woman, but she vacillates between meanness and grandmotherly affection. There’s an overweight baldcel security guard and his lesbian subordinate who can’t be bothered to pretend they have any solid character traits from one scene to the next. Then we have the biologist lady, who acts like an empowered muse to various female acquaintances, while also giving the cameramen something to write home about:

Laying aside the wooden acting, we have a storyline and political agenda that is similarly confused. For those unaware, Snowpiercer is about a post-apocalyptic world amid which the earth is covered by freezing ice and snow, with much of humanity cramped in an endless train that circles the earth and gives them the chance to survive. As Daveed Diggs ominously warns viewers in the first episode, “we tried to warn them,” about climate change, but the “deniers” wouldn’t hear it. At some point in recent history, a group of ragtag survivors managed to stowaway on the rear end of the vehicle, where they are now kept in absolute squalor as the rich party it up in fancier cars.

At this point things get complicated. The show’s producers obviously desired to create some low-IQ narrative about inequality and the Trumpian “1 percent,” yet they never explain what’s wrong with the existing model, which is already a form of communism. The train’s leadership could have simply liquidated the baggage at their rear, but instead chose to keep them alive on small rations. If the endies cause trouble, they have a limb stuck out the window and frozen off by the intense cold.  Some however get selected for jobs further up the car line, or indeed trade and technology education classes.

According to Diggs and Co., the system is unjust, because the rich enjoy themselves more than the poor. Of course once they stage a rebellion and take control of the train, everyone seems confused. Yes, some rebels trash the rich girl’s apartment and take her niceties, but nobody appears to have any concept of what should be done. Diggs weakly declares that “Snowpiercer is yours!” before returning to his state of perpetual irritation and microaggression. The security guards mill about as well, wondering what comes next. Sons of Anarchy’s Galen attempts to get some love from the Irish Natzi. No progress is made. Chaos rules.

Could Snowpiercer be a dress rehearsal for what an AntiFa takeover would look like?

Culturalism

The Dehumanization Chamber

Occasionally when I’m out and about I’ll observe a bored and dreary-eyed employee or gym goer changing the channel from some commercial-infested information program to the likes of MTV’S Ridiculousness. Simply put, the show is about a white skateboarder and his obnoxious friends watching videos of people undergoing tremendous humiliation or pain while the audience guffaws like first class circus monkeys. The worst aspect by far is co-viewer Chanel West Coast’s repugnant hyena cackle in reaction to almost anything, as though ordered by computer code. The show’s popularity has advanced so much as to spawn a knockoff in the form of the Misery Index, only this one replaces white skateboard dude with an empowered diversity pantsuit.   

Some of you will quickly dismiss the programs by blaming viewers, yet I consider that to be a convenient moral cop-out. Why precisely would the entertainment industry, which loves aligning itself with feel-good propaganda and assorted emotional meandering, give platforms to these spectacles? Is there really any value to taking pleasure at the silly misfortunes of others, who in many cases will end up suffering from significant pain or physical disabilities as a result of the stunts they pulled? We must remember that context is always left out of these clippings, so if a kid was encouraged to take a risk by friends or irresponsible adults, no one will know. All that truth is drowned in audience jeers, along with general exclamations of Daaaamn.

I think the shows are put out for a more deliberate reason: they help train the public to stand by as others undergo difficulties or torturous ordeals. Since the perpetrators can be blamed for their own condition, it is easy to mock them absent hesitation. Over time of course, similar pain inflicted by the State will seem like second nature to the seal-clapping viewers and cacklers. It has already been shown without any doubt how ready average people are to scorch their fellow citizens based on nothing more than political differences. How far we are from similar types nodding in smiling approval as their opponents get done away with?

Not long off, by my estimation. The power of crowds, and indeed the shrill cries of “unity” or giggling scream queens, signal how easy it is for folks to abandon all logic and embrace the pathological determination to destroy. One merely needs to create a caricature or jester of the opposing side, and suddenly their broader humanity vanishes. What’s more, invalidating the target’s individual worth becomes a practice approved by the supreme and intellectual.

This is why we must resist the urge to oversimplify. It is grand to hold a particular political opinion, yet make an effort to speak with the other person. The internet, and safe viewing from eons away, provides a secure pod from which individuals can strip away the dignity of others without consequence. Reach past that void and remember they are a person, one party to hopes and dreams just like yourself. And think before you cackle.

Culturalism

Please Laugh

The other day, a clip popped up on television advertising the Daily Show With Trevor Noah. Like most programs of the same ilk, it features a suit-wearing announcer who drops corny, unconvincing lines and weak attempts at 24k comedy. Nevertheless, people always seem to applaud and laugh without fail, almost like an example for the rest of us. Time to respond. Don’t be rude. This is hilarious.

But who actually believes that? I can harken back to Jon Stewart, a creature with great popular following for his regular antics of creating literal “fake news,” or making exaggerated facial expressions to address the realer variety. His audience (or at least the producers) always replied with epic guffaws and clapping, even as rational people wait and wonder: is this guy actually funny? The preloaded response says so, much as with David Letterman, Colbert, and the orange coconut guy. Sheer hilarity, even if we miss the punchline.

Perhaps it is all intended, however. The presence of laugh tracks and seal-clappers conveys an image of quality and wisdom, particularly with how these talking heads are increasingly shills for a single political party. I’m looking at you, Samantha Bee. In any case, the practice smarts of a corporations trying to inflate their quarterly returns by inventing customers, or buying “likes” to keep a message in their hands. As if they lack the creativity or draw to provide content anyone desires, and thus are forced to stage a set piece reality, hoping we continue to believe.

Seems like the plot is working, at least on certain swaths of the public. These shows still appear to generate a respectable number of viewers, and have yet to be canceled. Then again, is anyone sure those impressions are real? If they are willing to give instructions on how individuals are expected to react, simply creating fans out of thing air would hardly be a mountain to climb over. In fact, it feels altogether expected, like breathing or commuting to work. No conspiracy there.

The lingering query surrounds whether these methods will continue delivering in the future. Are Zoomers happily plugged in and willing to serve, or gradually slinking away to embrace clarity? I suppose time will tell, but at the same juncture, can we be sure of clocks or watches?

By God I hope so. Otherwise those alarms at 3:45 AM would be such a bloody waste.  

Culturalism · Economic History

Ending History

As a young and idealistic college student, I was introduced to the ideas of Francis Fukuyama, whose “End of History” thesis was meant to build in some part on the “Clash of Civilizations” perspective pushed by his late advisor, Samuel Huntington. Fukuyama’s work was interpreted by many to imply a rather inevitable conclusion wherein liberal democracy and capitalism would triumph over traditionalist radicalism or authoritarianism.  With the resurgence of certain illiberal movements, along with rising religious extremism, some moved to pompously to assume the End of History argument had been well and fully debunked.

According to Fukuyama, they simply got it wrong. Writing in his recent book on the politics of identity, he describes the “end” as more of a target than some final destination, meaning that there will not forcibly be a linear path to one outcome. Central to the failure of this perfect assumption is the role of thymos, a Greek word referring to the part of our soul craving recognition or dignity, independent of desire and reason. The idea helps explain why some people uplift the national concept or may even endorse economic policies which are detrimental to the free market. It is not a question of them “not knowing” that liberal economies are efficient, but instead electing for a position of self-respect ahead the churning alienation of consumerist capitalism.

Complementing the term is megalothymia, referencing here the desire to be seen as superior. In this case again, Fukuyama explains that public pursuit of a deeper notion will counterman mainline economic theories concerning material gain because that goal is inadequate to the people’s vision. We also have isothymia, or the drive to be seen as equally good to others. Of course a problem can be generated by promoting too much equality:

“Recognition of everyone’s equal worth means a failure to recognize the worth of people who are actually superior in some way.”

The development of capitalism presents an issue along these very lines. While governments wish to promote growth, changing models can lead to alienation from the family or village community, as I similarly discussed in Socialism of The Right. With the disproportionate benefits and wealth going to higher-educated elites of the meritocracy, the working class (in this case whites) feel resentful, because they are neither privileged nor permitted to play the victimhood card like minorities do. Hence they turn towards figures pledging to arrest the decline and perhaps improve poor conditions.

Fascinating as the text is, Fukuyama becomes a prisoner of liberalism’s own contradictions. On the one hand, he concedes that the Founding Fathers often had a strictly racial view of what the American project entailed. This history is diminished by his writing in favor of Ben Sasse’s “creedal” viewpoint, comprised of some generalized “freedom” patriotism and civic nationalism, or precisely what the GOP et al had promoted until Trump’s rise. Strangely enough for a freedom and democracy defender, Fukuyama says people who don’t accept equality can be excluded from this national concept.

It remains to be seen what role clashing identities shall play in the political field to come. What I find so interesting about figures like Fukuyama is that they can’t escape such uncomfortable facts. Twenty years ago, hearing a scholar discuss these ideas was almost unheard of, but now the threat posed by various populist and nationalist movements has become an overpowering storm. Therefore we are likely to see an aggressive Sasseian campaign to purge the ranks of dissenting rightist viewpoints and restore free speech so the Left (and Islamofascism) and be defeated.

Victory awaits, I guess.  

Culturalism · Economic History

The Usufruct Concept

In the course of compiling a section of the new socialism book focused on “conservative realism,” I came across a term which was uncharacteristically unique: usufruct. My initial reaction upon seeing it could be summed up as skeptical; I actually figured it was nothing more than a typo, albeit without the friendly red lines of MS Word’s liberal dictatorship. Closer investigation revealed that it refers to a very special idea: the relative status of private property.

Most readers of this blog come from Western countries such as the U.S. or U.K., both nations with storied histories of the longtime struggle to protect property against greedy usurpation by monarchs. Americans in particular are adamant about their rights to do with property what they wish, even as the wretched scourge of HOA’s and property taxes fester well and strong. To us, the notion of being told what to do with our property is outrageous, and bound to result in furious town hall meetings, or angry “letters to the blogger” until such “socialist” wrongs are reversed. Seldom is any other reality considered.

But a lack of appreciation for different models does not mean they magically cease to exist, especially over time, as objectives and crises change our perspective. Here the usufruct proposal gains far more relevance, particularly whilst we wrestle with the issues contained by migratory patterns and environmental degradation. Put simply, it refers to the contrast between Eigentum (private property) and Besitz (possession). In the former, one is free to do whatever he pleases with the terrain, including sales or destruction. Besitz on the other hand means the individual can use the land for his creative or business purposes, but not at its expense or defilement. As one writer notes:

“To have a thing as one’s ‘private property’ means that one can do what one likes with it — can sell it, injure it, or destroy it at will. To have ‘possession’ of a thing means usufruct, that one is entitled to use the thing, to exploit it, but subject to the will and supervision of another, the substantial ‘owner’, whose ‘private property’ it is.”

This supervision and ownership is conceived of typically to be the State, or perhaps a community and people. It theoretically allows folks to develop and advance personal wealth (as opposed to socialist stagnancy), yet prevents them from selling out to foreigners or poisoning the soil with their habits or business practices. Failure (or disinterest) in using the land means it will revert back to the community and be parceled out to another aspiring cultivator, one who must of course be native to the region.

Although a strange concept, we are almost forced to assess how it might help address certain problems currently affecting Western countries. Conservatives have long lamented the decline of identity and culture, yet they also insist on a property system where any foreigner with money can waltz in and purchase land, upsetting the traditional balance of that location. Leftists complain about environmental decline, while also advancing open borders and refusing to seriously explore the possibility of degrowth. Both are victims of their own beliefs, and doomed to failure because of those precepts.

Maybe usufruct is their saving grace.

Culturalism

The Witcher’s World

I admit to not having fully lumbered through the video game franchise known as The Witcher. At one point several years back the original game was in my possession, yet the unorthodox combat style made it difficult to grasp, much in line with my Lost Odyssey experience. Nevertheless, the underlying ideas and world were intriguing, so I eventually checked out the novel that started it all. More recently, I battled my way through the graphic novel omnibus, a tome that features some very interesting commentary on the matter of perceptions and illusion.

One of the first tales erupts after Geralt (the Witcher) meets a wayward hunter (Jakob Ornstine) and proceeds to travel with him. During their time together, Jakob recounts the story of his lost love Marta, presenting her as the embodiment of an innocent passion stolen away by dark creatures known as the Bruxa. Marta’s ghost leads the men to a mystical house that appears to warp reality, and there an alternative narrative is presented by the feminine spirit. She claims that her father sold her to Jakob, a violent man who beat and raped her. Driven to find true love, Marta began an affair with the blacksmith Talton, who would be killed in a fit of jealous rage by Jakob, after which Marta herself was killed.

So why does Jakob still believe in this seemingly delusional narrative? Perhaps it is due to the curse which Marta placed upon him. Alternatively, it could simply be a way of perceiving reality based upon position. Still more, they are operating inside a house of illusions, so who is to say what can be true?

Adding further complexion to the issue is Jakob’s behavior towards the succubus who Geralt encounters in the house. After the Witcher enters a rage at his perception that she led him into a trap, Jakob castigates him:

“No! You weren’t thinking at all! You can’t treat a woman that way! Women are divine creatures, Witcher! They command our respect! No man can understand a woman, not ever! Their reasons are too mysterious! Too chaotic! We must accept them for what they are. And accept that their lives are far too short. They can be taken from us at any time.”  

In contrast, Geralt notes that Witchers do not understand passion as humans do, and so the sex act occurs absent a deep emotional bond. At the same time, when recounting a story of love to Jakob he mentions visiting a prostitute who accepted his money for her service and then paid it back afterwards. Hence he carries those silver coins for their meaning to the present day. Again a conundrum. Is love only possible outside of money, or is money itself love?

Towards the end of the book, a very crucial line is dropped: “Illusion. All is illusion.” I immediately connected this short statement with our present world. We are creatures constantly pursuing an ideal, whether created in our own minds or the commercial fun labs of the corporate elite. We can be in abusive relationships and call it love, or transactional actions more deserving of the term. Depending on religion or affiliation, we can witness the same event and interpret it in drastically separate ways, almost like we live in a house of glass.

God forbid any fool would cast stones.

Culturalism · Economic History

Veblen Goodness

Last weekend I finished the book Overdressed, which probably seems like an odd choice for one like me. To be fair, I do own a few bathrobes, yet little in my wardrobe comes near the likes of Imelda Marcos, or some Zoomer shopping haul queen. I basically buy what I need, and keep a few unique items around for the rare occasion when fanciful taste is needed. It would certainly be nice to have more, but I simply have not gotten around to caring enough.

Obviously many people disagree, and in many cases with good reason. They’re not the question at stake. Instead, the book’s author dropped a term I had never heard of, even though it manifests in the real world remain as anything but uncommon: the Veblen good. The word’s namesake lies with Thorstein Veblen, an early 1900s economist who became associated with the progressive movement for his non-Marxist critiques of capitalism. Put simply, the term refers to a product which defies the laws of supply and demand by becoming more desired as it increases in value.

For many, the very idea is problematic. Of course supply and demand remains undisputed; just look at Chinese imports and general technology: they all went through the price floor as production and sales picked up over the years. But other goods do not. Rare wines, whether real or fake, are craved, even as they sell at millions on the bottle. Luxury cars can be priced well over the threshold of a townhouse’s mortgage loan, and still people chase the driver’s seat. One might even claim something similar for stocks, which can become overpriced mammoths and still attract the barking madness embodied by those pursuing extreme wealth.

Whether Veblen goods are a consequence of effective marketing by the rich to sell their lifestyle as being superior, nothing changes the underlying reality of how such products come to control our lives. Think of how many folks you know driving spruced up trucks or Hellcats simply to get them to and from work. There’s hardly any street racing or hard construction involved in use of those vehicles, just a fair-weather attempt to impress others.  But whatever emptiness may clutch the actualized routine of luxury ownership, the prices continue being raised to great joy from buyers. I will have something everyone else doesn’t, goes the grey matter, along with countless more cerebral motherboards.

I suppose it’s like grinding an axe against the hordes of development at this point. Nevertheless, at times my heart wonders how much worse off we would actually be if folks did more with less, and treated what they had not as objects, but family. A few more monks, and a lot less celebrity.