Would Modern Progressives Hate Socrates and Galileo If They Were Alive Today?

Interesting thought experiment: If Galileo or Socrates were alive today, would they be despised by Progressives?

Galileo and Socrates – two men who were known iconoclasts, who bucked the dominant Cultural Narrative of their time.  Who challenged the virtue of widely held beliefs.  Galileo questioned the very construction of our universe.  Socrates went so far as to question whether democracy was universally good in all situations.  Not the most politically correct of views, especially at the time.

Can you imagine the Social Justice Warriors heads exploding nowadays if someone questioned the virtue of ideals like universal suffrage and equality?

SJWs and Progressives don’t like it when anyone questions things which they believe that “obviously” must be true.  Think it’s safe to say that people like Galileo and Socrates, Voltaire and others, would have drawn the ire of such groups if they lived in modern times.  Indeed, many of history’s most revered thinkers were iconoclasts … they stood alone, willing to challenge commonly held beliefs in the pursuit of truth, without need for rallies or hashtags or angry mobs.

The funny thing about the Mob is that it never realizes it is the mob.  And that is exactly what Feminists and Progressives and SJWs are: our modern version of the mob.  Those angry and irate souls who feel so aggrieved, coming together to rile each other up, hunting down those that disagree, and seeking to persecute them for not “falling in line.”

A trip through history reveals that there has typically been some sort of mob at any given time, usually simmering beneath the surface then rearing its ugly head once a certain critical mass has been reached.  And they always exhibit those characteristics listed in the last sentence of the preceding paragraph.

The Reign of Terror during the French Revolution.  The Spanish Inquisition.  Antifa.  The Athenian mob that brought down Socrates.  The modern Progressive/Feminist/SJW movement.

All just variants of the same phenomena.

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Unintended Consequences – The Puritans of MeToo

It is strange how the things we do often have unintended consequences.  Or as one of my favorite sayings goes: Most of today’s problems are the result of yesterday’s solutions.

So it is beyond fascinating how the tearing down of traditional religion in the West, and the “liberation” and sexual empowerment of people has led to a new kind of belief system … and how that system is just as fundamentalist as the one it replaced.

Unintended consequences.

Sexual empowerment of people, long a promise of the 1960’s and 2nd Wave Feminism, has led to a lockdown and censuring of people’s sexual behavior in the current era.  Everything – literally everything at this point – is potentially sexual harassment or even assault. Either at the time, or even just in hindsight.

Which begs the question, if the definition of a word is literally anything, then what does the word even mean anymore?  Does it have utility as a word?

Unintended consequences.

Curiously, Shaun White is simultaneously being praised and accused of past indiscretion at the Olympics.  I read some of the text message transcripts.  Cringeworthy sure.  But all of it reads like a young beta male who is not very good with women trying to pursue a woman.  Perhaps a bit aggressively.

But I will just go ahead and throw this out there: I’ve rarely had success with women as a man in a sex and relationships sense without being aggressive.  Sure, women will sometimes take on that role.  But most of the time it falls to the man to be aggressive.  Women may give off signals, even pursue you, but only to a point (and the ones who go beyond that point often are damaged or have mental issues).  Men at some point must take the initiative and make things happen.

To do otherwise, to repress male sexual aggression, is to revert back to the lifestyle of Puritans.  To a world of sexual repression.  We can’t have it both ways.

Unintended consequences.

Other people have written about the puritanical aspect of MeToo, and they are correct.  A large number of European actresses even signed a public letter denouncing it for similar reasons.

Yet sometimes the very freedoms that come from our classical liberalism heritage in the West lead to entire groups of people spitting on those same freedoms.  Spitting on the very notion of free speech and free thought, as the protestors at Evergreen State College taught us last year … or to quote one of the protestors: “Fuck your free speech!”

Unintended consequences.

Maybe we should ship those protestors off to North Korea to live for a year, to see how they like living in a society without free speech or free thought?

Here in Illinois, the state is basically run by one man in an autocratic fashion. That is because – given the state’s political leanings – it is effectively one-party rule.  The state leans hard toward the American left, aka the Democratic party, to the point they have supermajorities in both legislative houses.

The man’s name is Mike Madigan.  He is the head of the Democratic Party in the state of Illinois as well as the speaker of the house.  He is the longest serving legislative leader in the history of the United States.

If anyone dissents, he shuts them down, removes them from any positions of power (e.g. committee appointments), and chooses a hand-picked opponent to challenge them in the next election.  Using his pull and resources, the hand-picked opponent almost invariably wins.  Property taxes are the highest in the nation, because Madigan, like many of his democratic colleagues, are property tax lawyers.  Illinois is ironically in one of the worst financial situations of any state in the nation.

This from a man who was elected by those who claim to value freedom and fairness, who worry about those who would exploit the weak to benefit the powerful.

Unintended consequences.

Interestingly, one of his top aides was recently caught up in the whole MeToo hysteria.

What’s ironic is that this may be the only way to finally dethrone Madigan and attempt to reform Illinois politics.  All based on a movement started by Feminists and their progressive allies to call out sexual aggressors.  And in the end, it may finally wind up removing a Democratic bastion in a solidly blue state who seemed, to this point, invincible.

Unintended consequences.

If this case teaches us anything, it is that unintended consequences sometimes swing both ways.  Progressives, Feminists, and women in general should be careful what they wish for.  A puritanical society where men no longer pursue women may not lead to the life outcomes they truly want. And it may have more far-reaching implications than they realize.

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Empiricism Deficit – Feminism and the Myth of the “Peaceful” Native

We are all innately assholes.  All innately selfish.  All innately bigots.  Myths otherwise are simply a way of coping with those inconvenient facts.

All humans have the propensity to replace one set of myths for another.  An innate need to create a narrative of our lives, a narrative of the world.  To understand.  Stories we tell ourselves to create meaning out of a world that often times seems senseless, or even ruthless.

The funny thing about myths, though, is we often don’t realize they are there.  They are beliefs we hold, unquestioned, without being aware we believe them.   This is particularly true for the Cultural Narratives into which we were born.

This lies at the root of why many Classical Liberals – Locke, Hume, Voltaire, etc. – fiercely argued for empiricism.  One cannot trust one’s own senses, one’s own narrative.  Simply casting aside one narrative for another does not solve the issue.  The ability to deceive ourselves is as great, if not greater, than of those around us.

In contrast, a critical problem with modern Progressivism and Feminism is their Empiricism Deficit.

An example of this is the modern myth of the “peaceful” native … the notion that Native Americans and Africans and others before the coming of white Europeans were living a mostly peaceful and idyllic life, with perhaps a minor spat here or there.

Now anyone can point to obvious counter-examples like the Aztecs and their blood sacrifices.  But a careful study of history is rife with examples.  Basically any place humans lived, as long as there was high enough population density, they would fight and kill each other over resources and sexual access (and for the most part more resources meant greater sexual access).

Everything in this world is about sex … except sex, sex is about power – Oscar Wilde

Let me repeat that: humans fight and kill each other so they can have more sex and raise more babies.  It is simply a corollary to evolution.  If one accepts that humans desire to reproduce (which is obviously true, there are 7 billion of on the planet now), then sexual access becomes a serious necessity.

In South America, the Shuar Indians are famous for their “shrunken heads”.  Once a year, prior to the coming of the Spanish they would engage in raids on other households, where they would kill all the men, spear old women to death, and cart off the younger women as war brides.  They’d also collect all the heads of the killed men and shrink them.

Nothing made them do this, other than their desire for sexual access.  The Shuar built up a polygynous society, monopolizing resources and their opportunity to reproduce.  As well as maximizing opportunities for their children to do the same.

In short, the Shuar people, simply did to others what Europeans would later do to them.

The examples extend beyond the Americas.  For instance, African countries are still dealing with the issue that most of the slaves that were sold to European slave traders were originally captured and sold by other African tribes.  In fact, Africans had a long history of enslaving each other long before the Europeans showed up.  The slaves were usually men, women, and children from rival tribes.

And, not surprisingly, the tribes that did most of enslaving now form the elite class in modern African countries like Benin and Ghana.  Why?  Because killing and enslaving others, while monopolizing sexual access and resources for your offspring, is an effective method to guarantee success of your genetic lineage.

Much like the myths about gender fluidity, or how the sexes are the same, or how all women like nice guys, the Myth of the “Peaceful” Native ignores the biological realities of human nature.  Of reproduction.  Of Evolution.  It is an anti-scientific position of the Left.  A progressive rewriting of history based on what we wish to be true, rather than actual reality.

In short, it is an abandonment of Empiricism.

And to abandon empiricism – to place feels before reals – is to abandon the principles of classical Liberalism.  If one could define feminism in a nutshell, such abandonment would be it … how one feels about something – e.g. did I feel sexually harassed – dictates whether it is true.

Yet in a world where anything can be true, “truth” becomes a weapon.  Myths about innocent “peaceful” natives and evil white men are merely one example.

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The Overton Window and Modern Human Tribalism

Since the dawn of Man, humans have organized themselves into groups based on genetic similarity.  These groups cohere around shared customs – language, dress, food, and most critically (for our purposes here) beliefs.  We call these groups tribes.

In the modern world, a lot of these trappings of traditional tribal formation – language, dress, etc. – have become homogenized by mass culture in most of the West.  Top 40 radio, movies, fast food restaurants. All in the name of the almighty dollar, we have corporatized and standardized those things, making them more efficient, more scalable.  With one exception (at least so far) … that of belief.

Thus the one manifestation of tribal cohesion that still persists is that of shared belief. A way to distinguish between us and them.  Our in-group vs. the outgroupWho the “enemy” is.  Who we can exclude. Who we can hate.  Beliefs, and the virtue signaling that goes along with them, are a way to signal tribal identity.

We call this modern version of shared belief the Overton Window.

As per the technical definition, the Overton Window represents the range of acceptable topics for public discourse at any given time, stretching from “popular” to “reprehensible”.  Critically, this window shifts over time, so that ideas that were once perhaps acceptable become reviled or even censored, and vice versa. There are things that can and cannot be said out loud …

Even the mere act of suggesting something – such as the fact that there might be differences between women and men – can get you fired from your job as president of Harvard.  Or, once upon a time, arguing that the Earth revolves around the Sun could get you similarly ostracized.

These bounds of public discourse bear a very real impact on the behavior of individuals within a society.  A simple example is the notion of a woman being a housewife.  Something that was once socially valued (being a good mother, raising children, etc.) is now scorned as oppressive, or a “poor life choice” in contrast to materialistic pursuits of career/money.  Whereas previous generations would have seen the pursuit of worldly desires over one’s own family as gross selfishness.

History of America is rife with such examples.  From racial relations to gender dynamics to religion and everything in between.  Hell, there was a time in the United States when Irish people were openly discriminated against. Or if you go back to ancient Rome and Greece, pedophilia was perfectly legal and considered socially acceptable.  It is funny to realize that there was a time when Christians were considered rebels and outlaws, and yet another period where they were the dominant cultural narrative of European society.

The point is that what is and is not considered socially acceptable or “politically correct” shifts over time.  And those boundaries limit public discourse, and individual choices.  Moreover, they delineate those who stay within the bounds from those who do not, essentially two tribes.  This is the Overton Window in action.

It would seem that there is a primal need in humans for such tribal affiliation, even in modern times.  The Overton Window is simply how modern humans form tribes in the modern world, in this era of mass culture.

Given the above, there is a fundamental question one must ask: Is the Overton Window compatible with the principles of Classical Liberalism?

If the Overton Window, and the tribal mechanics that go along with it, limit the free exchange of ideas – and moreover the choices individuals can make within those bounds – is it compatible with the Doctrine of Individualism? With the notion of rational self-interest?  With the vibrant discourse that is the lifeblood of a free society?

Given the examples in the first section, I would argue it is not compatible.

I was just reading an excellent article last week discussing Jordan Peterson and his televised interview with Cathy Newman, and how their conversation was representative of the way white left-wing intellectuals have essentially become the “new bourgeoisie” over the last half century with the rise of Cultural Marxism.  How their values – equality, tolerance, diversity – are now thought of as universally acceptable values, as the one-and-only “good” values that one might have.  And that no one can even question that.

Political Tribalism at its worst.

It is a very clear example of the Overton Window in action, and its effects.  To shut down public discourse, limit individual choices, and stifle diversity of thought. It is in direct contrast to classical liberalism.

The question of course then becomes what we should do about the Overton Window?  Given its roots in the primal human need for tribal affiliation we’re not going to get rid of it.  I would suggest a couple things.  One is simply that any liberal society that wishes to remain so should be cognizant of the Overton Window, and the dangers inherent in it. Public awareness goes a long way.  Secondly, I would argue that cognizance of the Overton Window as a force shaping public discourse should become a core component of journalistic ethics, and the principle explicitly taught to journalism students.  Too many journalists seem oblivious to the concept, or the unconscious bias it can introduce to their reporting.  And yet journalists serve a critical role in a liberal society … we should hold them to a higher standard.  The same could be argued for tech companies like Google and Facebook, and the filter bubbles they inadvertently produce.

In the end, we may have come a good distance as humans, but in some ways we are not so different from our ancestors.  We may always long to be part of a tribe.

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Google and the Rise of Asshole Liberalism

Think I might start referring to Progressives as “asshole liberals” …

I’m generally not into name-calling, so this is a more tongue-in-cheek statement than anything.  But if the recent events and lawsuit at Google tell us anything, it is how quickly we can become the very thing we despise.  The oppressed become the tyrant.

It seems to be a ubiquitous trait of those in power, of those who control the dominant Cultural Narrative.  You start out fighting for something, and once you seize the upper hand, you find yourself stifling anyone who disagrees with you in order to maintain what you’ve won.  Human nature, it lies within all of us.  Each one of us the same potential to be evil, given the opportunity.

I once had the pleasure of hearing in person a TED talk by Grammy Award winning rapper LeCrae, about the myths we tell ourselves of heroes and villains.  His point was how that shapes the way young black men view themselves.  But he unwittingly brought up a more insidious point.

There is danger in the single narrative.  And, moreover, if you can shape that narrative, you can control people.

I have written about this “enemy within” before.  And at some juncture, progressivism amongst the Millennial generation has reached that point.  Many of its adherents don’t seem to realize that convincing young people that everything is a “social construct” just makes the masses easier to control.  Tell them there is no such thing as gender – as is occurring in public schools here in Chicago (e.g. Palatine High School) – and they are like putty in your hands.  Tell them myths about gender pay disparities or the plight of housewives, and you can double your workforce, double your labor, and split the same pay amongst them (a la the middle class household income stagnation seen since the rise of feminism).  Why be shaped by biology or nature, when you can be shaped by those who seek to manipulate you?

And most importantly, let them teach you to react aggressively against anyone who might choose to think differently … any free thinker.

Chase them down. Harass them. Shame them. Shut down their speech.  The James Damore lawsuit against Google exposes what this looks like in the present day – replete with examples of this brand of Asshole Liberalism.

To be frank, all the examples and screenshots in the Damore lawsuit (linked above) are shocking, and nothing I would ever want to be associated with.  They reflect clearly how the attitudes and behavior of these modern-day “liberals” (aka Progressives) are NOT really liberal at all, not in a classical liberal sense.

More critically, a common trend that seems to be emerging is that many men don’t want to be “liberals”, at least not in the progressive sense.  We can see this in the results of the U.S. 2016 Presidential Election, with Trump holding a double digit advantage over Hillary among men (52% vs. 41%).  That includes 63% of white men (a 2:1 margin), but more men of every single ethnicity voted conservative than women.

Yet even beyond those voter demographics, we see the tell-tale signs elsewhere.  Just look at the shifting candidate platforms of the parties, the increased progressive female candidates the democrats are putting up, who mostly all favor increased taxation and more government service spending, more subsidized childcare, more tax exemptions for women … hell they even want to run Oprah for president now.  None of these female candidates are true classical liberals.  No liberal from fifty years ago or more would even recognize them as such.

And even when a female candidate says something common sense, if she is conservative, she gets lambasted and booed in many places.  For instance here in Chicago earlier this week, a female candidate for governor of Illinois was booed and berated simply for stating that “having more fathers in children’s homes could help reduce gun and gang violence.” Such a crazy idea right <sarcastic sigh>.  Her opponents even stormed off-stage.  All because she said something that, if not sensible, is at least worthy of discussion.

In the same vein, Disney (among other companies) is daring to gamble with its Star Wars franchise that emasculated men will continue to buy their product, even if it subtly seeks to denigrate them.  And perhaps that is the gamble of the larger Progressive movement.  The real reason behind the rise of Asshole Liberalism

They assume they can be assholes, and you will still fall in line. You will either be with the mob, or afraid of it.

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Outrage Culture – The New Religion

Is Progressivism, and the outrage that goes with it, a new religion?

Dave Chappelle recently released a new special on Netflix talking about Outrage Culture and #MeToo and Louis CK … and people are upset.  From twitter to the Huff Post, people are outraged about Mr. Chappelle’s criticism of Outrage Culture.  Let the irony sink in for a minute.  The Tocqueville Effect is in full effect.

Indeed, it appears that since the rise of the Baby Boomers in the West, we have replaced Christianity with a new “progressive” religion, Outrage Culture.

On closer inspection, you realize how much traditional Christianity and “outrage culture” religion share in common.  Both adhere to a strict dogma, which is if one does ascribe to they are subject to intense public shaming and scrutiny.

For the former, it is a firm belief in one male one female marriage, strong family units, chaste behavior, and a belief in god.  For the latter, it is a firm belief that men and women are the “same”, gender is a social construct, only white people are capable of bigotry or in-group bias, that equality of outcomes is the only form of equality, that enforced diversity is a form of freedom, and a belief in Scientism as the new god.

Most importantly, both religions share the idea that if one does not publicly profess their faith in the tenets of that religion, then they are “evil”.  In other words, it is not just the progressive, feminist, and/or social justice ideals that define this new religion, but critically the moral outrage and victim mindset that goes along with it.

Witch hunts and persecutions are common.  Hell, you can even lose your job or means of living if you don’t fall in line.  Just look at the James Damore case at Google for example, even to the point of giving monetary bonuses to employees who disparaged him and his non-politically correct views.   It is not just a set of beliefs, but a dogmatic system that can cost you your life and/or livelihood.  Not to mention that of your family’s.  Spanish Inquisition sound familiar?

And what is really ironic, is that the last few generations have spent the past half century thinking they were “tearing down” religion … no, my friends, you were just replacing it with a new one.  It seems the human brain is hard-wired to need something to believe in, something to rally around, something to bind the tribe together. To differentiate between them and us. Something to despise.

I have written before about the Tocqueville Effect (see link above).  In short, it posits that as social conditions and opportunities improve, social frustration grows faster.  Social justice and like just bring on more fervent opposition to ever slighter injustices and grievances.  We lose sight of where we came from, become entitled, and, in popular idiom, “bite the hand that feeds us”.

It’s a strange but observable phenomenon in many modern day democracies.

Such Presentism – the practice of applying myopic modern day viewpoints to past events or people – is a big component of the Tocqueville Effect, and rampant in Outrage Culture as well.  Every generation thinks: it will be different this time. That they know better.  That they are “smarter” than everyone who came before them, more enlightened. But such thinking is easily proven wrong, each generation is not so different after all.

Ryan Holiday’s excellent recent book, Ego is the Enemy, really tackles this phenomenon head on.  Because Outrage Culture really is a manifestation of ego.  Or more so, an excessive focus on ego.  A preeminence of our feelings over all else, over reasoning and logic.  If we feel aggrieved, then it must be so.

Which begs the classical philosophical question: Is God really just a manifestation of human ego?  And if it all is really about ego, then is it truly wise to replace a religion of restraint with one of excess?

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