Coming up: white nationalism, feminism, PUA, Italian economists and what all this has to do with the ‘skeptisphere’. So, please read on and enjoy.
1. What’s on the tin vs what’s in the tin
Something that anyone can notice is that there is often a divergence between what a movement is defined as, and what it actually is. I discovered this writing my piece on the racialists. From a definitional point of view, there is little wrong with white nationalism as an idea. There are ways of advocating for racial nationalism that are completely liberal and progressive. For example:
I can agree with every one of your twenty-thousand words on why racialism is a bad idea. But some of the people you need to reach don’t even read. The ability to transcend racial consciousness presupposes a certain level of intelligence and education, and a peaceful order. Too many people do not qualify. Just for the sake of avoiding things like Ferguson, it is better all round if the races peacefully separate so you no longer have black kids gunned down by white cops, or white resentments stirred by guilt-peddlers.
There is nothing in that argument that could be construed as racist or bigoted, and indeed it is made by the cannier white nationalists.
Matthew Heimbach of White Student Union fame, in conversation with black separatist Brutha Dawah:
It’s much better for the white community, but also the black community, to be able to peacefully separate … No-one gets more resources than another. It’s a fair separation. And what that would do is, incidents of police brutality, the industrial prison system, which primarily affects black males, that wouldn’t be a problem any more, because the black community would be able to have its own prison system, its own police, its own justice system.
Sounds reasonable and worth discussing at least, even if you don’t agree. However, in practice white nationalists are a little more like, well…
“Good luck on breeding little mongrel children but miscegenation is not a crime before man but a violation of God`s law. Look it up.”
Those are the kind of emails John Derbyshire gets from VDARE readers, for no other reason that he has a Chinese wife and mixed race children. Think about that for a second – this is the treatment racialists dish out to one of their own. I noticed something similar when I wrote my Racialist Q & A. I was expecting a serious and detailed response, something that would properly challenge me. Instead I got the most childish and tedious bile.
If they were rational in the slightest, racialists would practice the best possible manners to convince the widest possible audience of their views. Instead, they seem to be composed of vicious, hateful people that no one in their right mind wants anything to do with.
So from racialism to feminism. Same thing. By definition, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people”. Again, reasonable, serious, who could have a problem there? In practice however, feminism is about hating men, fiddling rape statistics, disliking transsexuals or threatening to murder feminists who dislike transsexuals, bullying the shy and the socially awkward…
Again, if feminists were rational in the slightest, they would practice the best possible manners to convince the widest possible audience of their views. Instead they seem to be composed of vicious, hateful people no one in their right mind wants anything to do with. Or to phrase it another way, why a man would be opposed to feminism is as dumb a question as why a black would be opposed to white nationalism: why on earth would you not oppose an ideology based on the idea that you are an uncivilized brute?
2. The Circulation of the Elites
Another thing that has struck me about the political and philosophical scene in the West is the way that entirely honourable and noble causes fill up with toxic and worthless people. Western feminists are the worst of the lot, but you could also point to the phenomenon of ‘race hucksters’ in the United States – people who appropriate the mantle of the Civil Rights movement for no reason but to spew hateful nonsense and signify how much better they are than the working class.
(N.B.: None of this should be construed as saying that racism isn’t still a force, or that all anti-racist campaigners are like this, merely that racism has decreased substantially and that significant numbers of ‘anti-racists’ are like this).
What the heck is going on here? How can movements founded for the best of reasons, with the examples of moral giants to live up to, degenerate like this?
Time to call in Vilfredo Pareto, and his “circulation of the elites”. Briefly it goes like this: there is no real progress towards a state of equality in human affairs. One elite rises and holds power. As time passes the elite forgets the virtues that allowed it to seize power and grows decadent. Then it is overthrown by a new elite and the cycle repeats.
In the old days, this happened when the elite failed to teach its children the martial virtues necessary to rule and command. But nowadays, there are few truly hereditary systems. All are voluntary – groups will only remain stable if the members choose, for whatever reason, to be there.
Here’s what I think is happening: the more successful a noble cause is, the more worthless people it will attract and the fewer good and decent people. Reading people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Nelson Mandela what came across was a profound psychological health. That isn’t to say either didn’t make mistakes, have regrets or the rest of it; it is that they are totally free of grandiosity, braggadocio or the other signs of a deep insecurity.
That’s not surprising. In order to change a real injustice, fight real oppression, you need that inner strength. Those suffering from deep insecurities will be ground down by the system long before they can do anything. So a good movement attracts good people – at first.
But the negation of a negative isn’t a positive. Removing oppression is only removing an obstacle. Once liberty has been achieved, you still need to be able to use it. In other words, the less and less racism there is in society, the more incentive psychologically healthy members of racial minorities have to improve their lives through hard work and grit.
A ghastly reversal takes place. As the cause triumphs, it becomes celebrated, and a source of esteem – and so becomes a magnet for those who crave esteem above all things.
3. Children of Ze Night – Vot a Noice Zey Make
One of the most important things I have come across online is the Reader’s Letters series at The Rawness. What it introduced me to is the concepts of pure and compensatory narcissists, narcissistic supply and codependency. To simplify – and you really need to read The Rawness for yourself – there are those people who are addicted to ‘narcissistic supply‘, or attention. We all like attention to a certain degree, but there is a world of difference between a like and an addiction.
The mechanism of a like is:
I feel good when I have this.
The mechanism of addiction is:
It may be bad, it may not make me feel that good, really, but I want it because otherwise I feel terrible!
(Former smoker: I know of which I speak)
Narcissists are addicted to grandiosity. A psychologically healthy person thinks I want to do this thing well. A narcissist thinks I want to be seen to do this thing well. The actual thing or its performance is irrelevant – everything is about feeding the monster within, the deep feeling of worthlessness that drives such people.
That has to be underlined – there is nothing at the core of a narcissist but a deep feeling of inferiority and worthlessness. The need for narcissistic supply is a need to wall off that fear, to do something, anything that allows them to fake a sense of confidence and esteem.
Narcissists are often called ‘emotional vampires‘, and that’s a good metaphor. Dealing with people who are permanently involved in their own drama, who suck others into their issues, is emotionally exhausting. It also allows for the Rawness to explain the two types of narcissists: ‘compensatory’ and ‘pure’.
Here’s one way of looking at it: In the movie “Blade” with Wesley Snipes, there were two classes of vampires. There was the “pureblood” class who were born vampires as a result of two vampires mating, and there was the “turned” vampire class, meaning they were living a human existence until a bite from a vampire made them into vampires also. The purebloods considered themselves higher status than the turned vampires, and were always trying to dominate the turned vampires by making them into lackeys and lieutenants. The pureblood vampires were more powerful than the turned vampires. Also, although it was extremely difficult to do so, turned vampires could be reverted back to humans. Purebloods, however, could not be turned into humans because they were more powerful and were never were human to begin with.
Think of pure narcissists as the “pureblood” vampires from “Blade” and the compensatory narcissists as the “turned” vampires from the same movie. Pure narcissists have stronger vampire energy, they were vampires from birth and no one can remember a time when they weren’t vampires, they consider compensatory narcissists as their inferiors, and while all narcissists are extremely difficult to treat, pure narcissists are more likely to be deemed incurable.
Fortunately, purebloods are rare in this world. I say ‘fortunately’ because such people are the walking embodiment of evil. I have encountered one or two people in my life who literally didn’t care about any other human being except as food for their psychodrama. If you want to understand why that means evil, read Nabokov.
Now you should see why a triumphant cause will attract such types, especially if the cause is virtuous. In effect, a triumphant revolution – in race relations, or in women’s rights in the West – is a source of the purest and headiest admiration and attention. It’s like piling up a big mound of heroin, putting a neon sign on it, and being surprised at the kind of people who show up.
Of course, things aren’t binary. There will still be honest and decent people involved, some of the old guard, etc. But to use the example of racism in the West, as a general rule of thumb, the less racism there is in society, the more the professional “anti-racists” will consist of hysterical nonentities that only cause trouble.
In Western feminism, the cycle is almost complete. I am having trouble of thinking of a prominent Western feminist who is not a walking example of narcissistic personality disorder.
Please note this is not the case outside the West – in places where the struggle for women’s equality is still very real. Indeed, it isn’t even the case in the Western feminists who are active in the working class or the military, or somewhere outside the comfortable middle and upper class. Such people may well hold political views that are far more extreme than usual, but they do not inspire the kind of disgust, since they are engaged in a real struggle. This is one reason I feel no animosity towards Maryam Namazie, despite her Communism, but think that Rebecca Watson is an appalling human being. Same thing with racial revolutionaries – despite the gulf in our wordviews, I’ve never felt anything but respect when reading men like Malcolm X or C.L.R. James, unlike the cavorting SJWs.
I’m focusing my ire on the political left, so let me admit that you can see this stuff happen on the political right too. I’ve had a prominent Objectivist say, with a straight face, that under Obama the US was “a fascist/socialist state”. Also, on the subject of postcolonialism, what is the one group who will not shut up about rebelling against the British Empire?
Right. American conservatives. I have never heard anything close to that braggadocio from Kenyans, Indians or Chinese people. Yet the American colonies were Britain’s pampered darlings. The American founders never had to face anything like famines, opium wars or concentration camps.
To return to the subject of a virtuous revolution in decay, if my model is right, it explains why so many “victim groups” seem more concerned about perpetuating outrage about an injustice than fixing the injustice. Indeed, they often seem hell bent on actively making things worse, taking stances and positions that seem guaranteed to annoy reasonable people and foment anger and bitterness. This makes perfect sense if it isn’t a bug but a feature. Remember, narcissists do not care about actually accomplishing anything, they only care to be seen to accomplish something. If good movements are taken over by narcissists who want to secure their supply, then this makes perfect sense.
This also explains why I have found so few racialists who are willing to argue their case, despite the fact that they constantly complain that they are being denied a voice. One shouldn’t be surprised that the racialist scene attracts even more poisonous narcissists than the ghosts of virtuous movements.
4. The crisis of the Godless
It is no secret that I am no fan of a segment of the atheist/skeptic sphere, specifically that segment that is represented by PZ Myers. It is hard to put into words the visceral loathing that this lot have, hitherto, inspired in me. I now think that is the trap.
If you read Michael Nugent’s interactions with PZ, narcissism seems to be writ large. For example, consider the casual way that PZ accuses Nugent of supporting rapists, similar to the equally false accusations he has leveled at Sam Harris. This seems to fall under the whole “lacking empathy” diagnostic symptom. Here’s Nugent’s summary of much of PZ’s behaviour:
PZ has said that the scum has risen to the top of the atheist movement, that it is burdened by cretinous reactionaries, that sexist and misogynistic scumbags are more than a fringe phenomenon, and that if you don’t agree with Atheism Plus you are an Asshole Atheist. He has agreed that the atheist movement has a white supremacist logic. He has said that Richard Dawkins seems to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children, that Sam Harris is racist in his thinking, that Russell Blackford is a lying fuckhead, and that Ann Marie Waters is a nutter.
This certainly sounds like “haughty, arrogant behaviour” to me. For “Atheism plus” read Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions). It also explains why PZ is happy to make rape accusations without any evidence, but has no trouble with saying that when he was accused of rape, and used his clout to shut down the investigation, that was completely different.
There is a piece of history that stands out clearly. One thing that disgusted me about PZ was his willingness to drop Dawkins at the drop of a hat, but there was a time when PZ was a slavish worshipper of Dawkins, who could brook no criticism at all. The same appalling tactics that PZ now marshals against Dawkins – casual disregard for the truth, obscenity, hatred – were then marshaled in Dawkins’ defense, and against Ed Brayton. Worth quoting a little:
When he goes off on a completely unjustified attack on me like that… as he has several times in the past, I get numerous private emails from our mutual colleagues that say, in essence, “Look, we all know PZ is a jerk, he’s always been a jerk, but that’s just the way he is. You can’t let him provoke you like that.” Well, to be honest, I’m just not built that way.
You don’t have a clue about PZ’s “M.O.”. His MO is to start the personal attacks and then pretend to be above it all when they’re returned and he clams up. This isn’t the first time it’s happened and I doubt it will be the last. I’ve had this behavior aimed at me multiple times and I’m simply not going to play the passive victim.
This fits perfectly into the narcissist model. PZ was slavishly devoted to Dawkins when Dawkins’ patronage allowed PZ to build Pharyngula – in other words, when Dawkins was a source of narcissistic supply. The instant that a better source of narcissitic supply became available, Dawkins was denounced and attacked.
Again, if I am right about this dynamic, it explains the lack of justice among this set – there is never even the slightest attempt to balance the achievements and contributions of people like Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins etc. with whatever failings are attributed to them. That is because justice is rooted in reality, and narcissism has to avoid reality. Social perception, illusion is all.
Similarly, it would explain why PZ’s set avoid all but the mildest criticisms or confrontations with Islam – the same reason that Western feminists do the same. There is no source of grandiosity there. One thing you learn reading people who have fought real oppression is – oppression sucks. There is nothing glamorous or exciting about it, not even in the struggle against it. The reason men like Mandela did what they did is because it was necessary, not because it got them applause. That’s alien to the narcissist mind. Confronting a real menace would not just bring physical danger, it would do something worse – puncture the illusion of grandiosity, as they would be directly confronted with reality.
Part of the reason I have been glad to participate in Skeptic Ink is my concern about what might happen if organized atheism is represented by the FtB crowd. I still think this is a good ambition, but I fear I’ve been going about it the wrong way.
There’s a certain temptation that is powerful to anyone who writes, especially if they blog. The idea is that if you can just put together the perfect critique of your opponent, you’ll be able to finish them off, at least as a presence.
But if my model here is correct, then this is futile. It is futile because narcissists feed on attention, even negative attention. Hostility, denunciations etc. are a form of narcissistic supply, and it just makes this lot react even worse.
It also could be profoundly counterproductive. There’s this thing called “narcissistic contagion”, where those who associate with narcissists start to exhibit similar traits. That’s one reason why the FtB board is so poisonous. However, this also applies to people who focus on it too much. “As you stare into the Abyss, the Abyss stares also into you.” If you are focused on negating negatives, rather than building something positive, you can start imitating that which you despise. In my time, I’ve seen people who follow the menace of Islam’s jihad begin to talk in ways that are decidedly illiberal. I have heard similar things of groups that obsessively monitor racist and fascist organisations, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center. Crudely put, you get angry at the dishonesty and bad faith being used by a group, it gets tiring to constantly have to take the high road, the temptation of giving them a taste of their own tactics rises, after all you’re the one in the right…
This is the circle one needs to break out of.
If my reasoning holds up, then I’ve been going at things backwards. There is no point in getting angry at this type, because that is exactly what they feed on. The only real solution to narcissists is to cut them off from their narcissistic supply.
Notice how they’ll accept anything except a man who stands alone. They recognize him at once. By instinct. There’s a special, insidious kind of hatred for him. They forgive criminals. They admire dictators. Crime and violence are a tie. A form of mutual dependence. They need ties. They’ve got to force their miserable little personalities on every single person they meet. The independent man kills them—because they don’t exist within him and that’s the only form of existence they know – Ayn Rand
There is no point in trying to reform damaged people. They are not worth the time, and they are unreliable whenever it matters. You can’t change others into the kind of person you prefer, you can only change yourself to be the kind of person who attracts the kind of person you prefer.
The question isn’t how you get rid of the damaged people in your movement, it is how you build a movement that attracts healthy people. How do we create something that worthwhile people think it worth spending their time on? How do we attract those who have had it with the drama and infighting and want out? How do you construct your beautiful bubble?
I don’t have many good answers, except one: once you see through an illusion, it vanishes. I still am disgusted by the FtB antics and I stand by every word I wrote, but I no longer feel the same fury.
There is a parallel there with my hopes for how to deal with Islam. It is my hope that the infidel world cordons off the Islamic world and is constantly open to all those who free their minds from this tyranny are welcome, until Islam collapses in on itself.
So, I’m announcing a bit of a hiatus here. I need to do a deep rethink of how I’ve been going about this blog. Hopefully, all of this will be turned to some profit and use.