Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 674, June 10, 2012

"The World is run by fools who kill children
as they pray and practice hymns in Church. And
that's what I remember learning in third grade."

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Cartoon by BALOO.

Flakiness All Over the Place
by Rex "Baloo" May

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

I've blogged about flakiness among libertarians before, when I did my Venn Diagram. And I hasten to assure you that I don't think libertarians are particularly flaky. You find flakiness everywhere, in all political and social groups. Among the left-liberals and neocons who are running things right now, it's almost a prerequisite for membership. It just particularly pains me to encounter it with libertarians, because I'm a sort of libertarian myself, and I've been fighting flakiness all my life everywhere I go. I'll define flakiness here as the ability to hold an opinion that is in clear, obvious contradiction to either common sense or logic or the evidence of your senses or all three. Now, flakiness is only tenuously related to intelligence or the lack of it. Indeed, a great deal of flakiness is found among intelligent people whose opinions run ahead of their minds. As Orwell said, there are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them. And of course, people who call themselves libertarians, so far, are definitely a cut above intelligence-wise. As I indicated on the Venn Diagram post, flakiness in libertarianism is almost exclusively caused by contamination by left-liberals. And left-liberals' guiding principle is their disconnect from reality.

I read the weekly Libertarian Enterprise faithfully, and even reprint or link to many articles there. Occasionally I disagree with this or that, but this time I was bewildered to come across a piece that made no sense whatsoever. If Mr. McAllister has written a parody here, and I'm too dense to get it, I apologize. But assuming otherwise, here's the article, with my comments in italics within it. You can read the original without comments HERE.

Identity Without Ego and Self-Actualization
by Christopher McAllister

Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."
—Nelson Mandela

In the first place, quoting Nelson Mandela about anything at all shows naivety about Mr. Mandela and the history of South Africa, which is rapidly going to Hell partly because of his deep thinking. Might as well quote Lenin or Trotsky. And, for that matter, why the hell does Mandela think that love comes more naturally than hate? Proof? No, it's just feel-good blather.

Newborns do not know hate. It is obvious with nothing more than a passing glance that ideological hatreds must be learned from those charged with shaping young minds; after all, the statement that ideological anything must be learned is tautological. The world's social problems do not stem from anything innate to human nature. The division and strife we see resulting ultimately in heartbreaking cruelty is purely a result of certain inculcation.

Newborns don't know much of anything. They can't talk, walk, do arithmetic, program computers, pound nails, or even focus their eyes. The fact that a newborn doesn't know a given thing is hardly proof that the thing is a bad thing. Just that it's at least slightly more difficult than breathing. Next, assuming that ideological hatreds must be learned from other people leads one to wonder where the ideological hatreds came from in the first place. Somebody had to think them up without being taught, right? If the world's social problems don't come from innate human nature, where do they come from? Ancient astronauts? Zoroaster? Nergal?

Because human beings are naturally tribal, one might be tempted to contest this starting premise. Cognitively there seems to be a limit to how many individuals we can relate to concretely as fellow human beings (known as Dunbar's number, or colloquially as our monkeysphere). Whether this be true or not, however, has no bearing on the general attitude toward those we can only relate to in an abstract sense. Instead, it can also be taught that these nameless/faceless others are also human beings—just like we ourselves are—rather than something slightly (or greatly) less than human. Even the bigot can do this with the social faction they favor for privilege.

At last something correct. Yes, we're naturally tribal, which is to say naturally xenophobic and hierarchical. Yes, one can be taught that those in the outgroup are human beings, or one can go look at them and figure that out for oneself. But knowing that they're human is hardly enough to accept them as your bosom pals. Tribalism keeps right on going despite that fact. For that matter, I've never heard of a human group that thinks other humans aren't human. Have you? Sure, every group thinks it's better than other groups (except thumb-sucking White liberals), but that's hardly equivalent to thinking the other groups aren't human.

The hate of prejudice is born from an irrational fear. That root fear is born of things we learn, and it is fostered by a particular intellectual shortcut granted us by evolution. If you live in a predominantly black neighborhood, you'll likely see most crimes committed by black people. This of course makes sense as it is the biggest group from which to draw. The conclusion that black people are more likely to be criminals, however, is symptomatic of the mental shortcut I speak of. It is not critical. It is crude and lazy, the intellectual equivalent of relying on brute strength to get your way. A less crude assumption is that it is something about a particular subculture, but stopping there is also crude and lazy as one should learn about the origins of that culture, which will lead you into the history of slavery, global imperialism, a trend of your own original intellectual laziness in the broader culture, etc. But I digress.

A lot here. Prejudice can come from irrational fear, but it can also come from rational fear, and experience in general. I'm prejudiced about almost everything, and so are you. See THIS on prejudice and discrimination. Further, the writer implies that some kind of mental shortcut leads us to think Blacks commit more crimes and it's some sort of delusion. Nonsense. Blacks do commit more crimes, a lot more, in this country and all over the world. Why that is the fact is open to debate. Whether it is the fact is not. Seeing reality as it is is not lazy or a shortcut. The lazy part is where you accept the conventional egalitarian wisdom uncritically, and act like you're being contrarian to do so. It's also a good shortcut. Why think when the elite thinkers have already done it for you?

Of course, such mental shortcuts need not be applied to personal experience. One of the great double-edged swords of our uploading of data to culture via language is that it can be used to pass on not only good ideas to successive generations but also bad ones. To overcome this, one needs to get to a position where one can begin the process of self-actualization.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but even using the term "self-actualization" makes this sound like something written by Barbra Streisand or Oprah. In short, psychobabble.

Self-actualization is a broad and vague term adopted by many a theorist. In this context I mean it to mean the overcoming of rote culturization to a place where one can evaluate things critically and introspectively based upon one's own evaluation of reality apart from what one is merely told. It requires a confidence in self as the ultimate authority on evaluating reality; after all, if you pass the buck to an authority figure on how to judge reality, then it is you who has judged the judger as credibly authoritative and so it is ultimately you who makes this judgement, not them. Do you wish to be their intellectual slave? I would imagine not.

I can accept this despite the touchy-feely terminology, but what's worse than not overcoming your rote culturalization is thinking you're overcoming it when you've just gotten culturalized by a subset of the established order and memorized their slogans. Indeed, the whole concept of skepticism, which is the process being described here, is rooted in Western Culture and goes all the way back to Aristotle. As I've said before, the left believes that memorizing slogans is thinking. The most reliable intellectual slave is the one who thinks he's free.

Once you begin to respect yourself as an individual apart from the culture that you are a part of and begin to make judgements not based upon what your culture has implanted in you (ego) but upon your own respect for your own intellectual sense, then you will begin to see judging groups in common is as silly as someone who judges you so. You will begin to understand everybody is such an individual and so judge them as individuals. It is not black people that steal, though it can be a black person who has stolen from you. It is not homosexuals that spread aids, though a homosexual certainly can. You get the point. It is along this path that you begin to understand what the ego is and how the ego is not who you really are but what you are told you should be by authorities not worthy of judging you. As you are your own ultimate authority, only you can grant ultimate control to other authorities over yourself. You begin to drop the judgements of others as your own and begin to form a structure for judgment that is you. And as you do so, you begin to see that all the things you dislike in others are all the things you're dropping from yourself. You begin to see that it's not others that you dislike, but the fact that others are not being themselves, they are being what they are told to be. As you discover who you are beneath your ego, you will begin to see the real persons beneath the egos of others.

Is it possible to respect yourself apart from your culture? Considering that your culture is the basis of your world view? Adding the idea that you have different elements in your culture that can be used to critique each other does not constitute stepping outside that culture. Indeed, the very idea of having self-respect is a cultural concept. And "judging groups in common" is a thing that creatures that are intellectually advanced can do. That's why we have the word "tree" and not a different word for every tree we see. We're capable of generalizing and categorizing the Universe. That's how we arrive at general principles from individual observations. Once we get past "tree," we start seeing differences, and come up with categories like "apple," "maple," and "willow." And that is what we do with people, too. Sometimes we do it badly, but without doing it at all... Well, we can't not do it at all. We're a categorizing animal. We can only try to do it more and more accurately and usefully.

And then we have the straw-man argument. It's implied that unenlightened people think that only Blacks steal and only homosexuals spread AIDS. I've never heard of anybody on Earth who thinks either of those things. Sensible people do know that Blacks steal a lot, more than do Amishmen or Icelanders or Japanese, and that homosexuals spread AIDS all over the place. That is in no way equivalent to saying that all Blacks steal or that all homosexuals spread AIDS. And the fact that non-Blacks also steal and some straights spread AIDS is not a refutation of the generalizations. This notion that human groups don't differ from one another is another left-liberal dogma. Boasian baloney.

And how, exactly do you tell that others are "not being themselves"? If they're not themselves, how do you tell who they really are? This is just an instance of the left-liberal refrain that down deep inside, everybody's the same. They're not. They differ like crazy, as any honest anthropologist will tell you.

In my opinion, if everybody discovered this then they would begin to be open to others. They would seek to help others be themselves. This is a muti-layered effort. Just as you will begin to understand what you wish to do to help the world, you will begin to wish to help others discover this. You will begin to wish to help others accomplish their goals so that they can be fulfilled in being authentically themselves just as you will like aid in pursuing your own goals of authentic self. Your arms will open and you will embrace the world for the joy of living.

Well, kum-ba-ya all to hell! This is more of the tripe that everybody's the same deep down, we're all good at heart, if we could just be, well, whatever we would be if we weren't trying to adhere to a standard of what we think we ought to be. No. Sometimes the better you understand a person, the more you dislike them. If just being yourself is the ideal, where does virtue come in? This is the Rousseauan notion of the Noble Savage, if I'm not mistaken. With another one of his dopey ideas, the "perfectability of man." (I'm a moderate — I believe in the improvability of man.) Rousseau was wrong. Savages aren't any nobler than anybody else. Self-understanding is a good goal, of course, but what if you find out that deep down inside, you're a thief or a murderer? Is it the right thing to do to just go with that flow, or to instead try to overcome your evil inside and behave virtuously instead? No, this "be yourself" trope is the essence of left-liberal self-indulgent amorality, codified by old Rousseau. And his pal, de Sade. Less crazy philosophers, like C. S. Lewis or Benjamin Franklin, recommend that you try to curb the evils in your nature and do moral things instead.

This is what I mean when I say that when humanity is in the right place, we will acquire wealth so that we might help others to do so. I hope I do not need to point out that wealth is not merely a material thing.

This ends kind of abruptly, but it seems to say that if we'll all just go through this navel-gazing, and encourage everybody else to do so, we'll end up with a utopia. We won't. And yes, I know that there is more to wealth than material things, which everybody over the age of three had heard again and again. and nobody doubts.

One more thing. A lot is said in this piece directly or indirectly about how we're only individuals, and it's just prejudice to consider people as members of races, ethnic groups, etc., which is a false dichotomy. We're both. And then at the very end, he refers to "Humanity" as though it's some kind of unit that can all be at the right place and evidently doesn't differ very much at all, individual from individual.

Left-liberalism, or progressivism, and its cousins, Marxism, socialism, etc., are the curse of Western Civilization and the source of most of our problems today. My advice to libertarian thinkers. Check your premises, of course, and then check your vocabulary. If you find yourself sounding like a liberal, check your premises again. Repeat as needed.

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