Tag Archives: Liberal

The Prodigal Son’s Older Brother and the Conservative Mind

In a previous post I wrote about how Christ’s parable of the prodigal son gives insight into the dynamic of ego and shame. I recently re-heard this reading and was struck by how the older brother in this story provides valuable insight into the mind of the anti-liberals who write and contribute to the Orthosphere and other related blogs. I use the term “anti-liberal” rather than conservative because this group of people are far to the right of what would pass for an average Republican in the United States. For example, some of them advocate a return to Monarchy. Some reject the notion that freedom is a good that a society should strive for. What seems to bind them is their rejection of liberalism, leaving aside the fact that it is always unclear just what any one person on these blogs actually considers a liberal to be.

In the parable of the prodigal son, the younger son of a rich man asks his father for his inheritance. His father gives it to him and the younger son then goes away and squanders his money on riotous living. He subsequently falls upon hard times, sees the error of his ways and returns to his father begging for forgiveness. Surprisingly, the father welcomes him home with loving arms. He clothes his son and orders the slaughtering of the fatted calf in celebration. Meanwhile the older brother who had remained loyal all this time arrives home from working in the field to see this new state of affairs and becomes angry. When his father tries to convince him to join the feast he retorts:

‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’

LK 15:29-30

We can all sympathize with the older brother. Surely there should be some reward for remaining loyal. At the very least there should not be a reward for disloyalty and sinful behavior. On the other hand, the older brother is using his loyalty to justify his lack of compassion and his judgment of his younger brother. In a very similar way the folks at the Orthosphere seem very justified in judging and blaming liberals for all the evils in the world.

Now the father in the parable represents God the Father. His attitude is love and compassion and does not seem to be concerned with matters of fairness, property or finances. To him, the important thing is that the prodigal son has returned. To the older son the father says:

‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’

LK 15:31-32

Jesus ends the parable here leaving it unclear as to whether the older son was convinced by the father’s argument. I suspect that he is not, primarily because the father’s argument does not provide any new knowledge that the older son does not already possess. The older son already knows that he shares in the father’s property. In fact, this is probably part of what is upsetting him because the return of the younger son presents a challenge to the remaining portion of the father’s estate that he will eventually come to own. The fact that the younger brother was ‘lost’ and is now found probably does not change the older brother’s attitude either because while the younger son was lost he was doing all the things the older brother had the discipline not to do.

The part of the parable that does not fit the analogy where the Orthospherians are the older brother, God is the father and liberals are the younger brother is that the prodigal son actually returns to the father. In the view of the Orthospherians the liberals left with their inheritance a long time ago and never came back. They are the ones who remained loyal and are out working in the fields. Perhaps the fact that the liberals have not yet returned justifies the Orthospherian lack of compassion and judgment of them. Perhaps they would in fact join God in a feast if the liberals ever returned. But I am not so sure about that.

I suspect most liberals would interpret this parable differently as it relates to them. I suspect at least some of them would argue that they never left with their inheritance in the first place and continue to work the fields with their older more conservative brother. Perhaps they would argue they work on opposite ends of the field but are still working in the field none the less.

 

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Exploring Intellectual Conservatism: Essentialism v. Nominalism

galaxyThere is an interesting blog where intellectual (and pseudo-intellectual) conservatives congregate called the Orthosphere. Not being of that world I have learned a great deal by reading the articles and interacting with its contributors in the comment sections. Many of the memes expressed on that website have an impressive, logical consistency about them. Most of the contributors appear to have a background in academia and the quality of the writing largely reflects this. In short, I find the website valuable because it provides an insight into that mindset.

It should be noted that the Orthosphere (for the most part) reflects a highly intellectualized and theoretical conception of conservatism. I contrast this with the more commonly expressed emotional version of conservatism we experience on Fox News and from the mouths of the standard Trump voter displayed in the media. This is not to say that the emotional version of conservatism is not valid or does not have its roots in the intellectual version. I suspect, however, that most emotional conservatives would not be able to articulate their gut feeling that something is wrong with America and Western Civilization politically and morally in the manner in which the intellectual conservatives of the Orthosphere. I can certainly empathize with this perspective in many cases. The intellectual dishonesty of political correctness is probably the best example of this.

One meme or argument commonly made on the Orthosphere that I take issue with is the assertion that liberalism is an incoherent political philosophy. I have observed that many people define (or not define) liberalism in many different ways on that website. Many times liberalism seems to be a catchall term for anything someone finds distasteful. One contributor named Zippy (who is a champion of the “liberalism is incoherent” argument) offered a definition of liberalism as “the political doctrine that securing individual freedom and [the] equal rights [of its citizens] is the [or a] primary legitimate purpose of government.”

In my last blog post I described Zippy’s argument that “liberalism is incoherent” as a conflict of liberal government’s duties to enforce the law and protect the freedom and equal rights of its citizens. In the comment section of my last post Zippy took issue with this characterization of his argument stating:

The argument is not that liberal government sets two purposes in contradiction to each other. The argument is that government – authority – has an essence, and that liberal government is a contradiction in terms (like for example round square, fried ice, etc[.]).

He later clarified this assertion in the comment section in this way:

Every exercise of authority, every act of governance, authoritatively discriminates and restricts freedom, necessarily and always. It is the essence of the exercise of authority to do precisely that: to decide particular controvertible cases authoritatively. That is what governance is, no matter what word games people attempt to play in order to get a different result.

I have a problem with this line of thinking. I can certainly accept the premise that every act of governance necessarily discriminates and restricts freedom. However government can also restrain itself from acting. The best example of a liberal government restraining itself from acting is the Bill of Rights to the U. S. Constitution. The First Amendment begins with the words “Congress shall make no law.” So while to say that every act of governance is necessarily a restriction of freedom this is only half the story. Liberal government can also restrict itself from acting and I see no essential conflict in stating this.

Another aspect of my interchange with Zippy revolved around the metaphysical concepts of Essentialism and Nominalism.* I argued the only reason he saw this contradiction in terms was because he had defined the terms to be contradictory. He then suggested that I was not capable of understanding his argument because (he supposed) I happened to be viewing the world from a nominalist as opposed to essentialist perspective.

Metaphysical essentialism logically goes hand in hand with the extreme conservative perspective Zippy and many other contributors espouse. If everything in the world has an absolute essence then any act or thought in contravention to this essence is error both materially and morally (which is a natural extension of the material world). By contrast, if the definitions of things are entirely dependant on the whims of the human mind as the nominalistic perspective argues then the realm of morality becomes significantly restricted or eliminated entirely. Zippy argued:

Nominalism (and other forms of anti-realism) are self-refuting. There really are such things as trees, not merely that thing which we will arbitrarily label a tree for the sake of convenience and that other thing which we will arbitrarily label a tree for the sake of convenience. Universals, categories, and transcendentals are not merely word games: they refer to reality.

This argument makes sense when one is referring to concrete physical objects such as trees. It makes less sense when one refers to abstract concepts such as authority. This is clearly demonstrated when I compare Zippy’s definition of authority with the definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Zippy defines authority as “a moral capacity to oblige a subject to choose this thing rather than that.”

Merriam-Webster defines authority as “(a) power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior [and] (b) freedom granted by one in authority”.

I find it noteworthy that Zippy excludes the secondary definition of authority “freedom granted by one authority.” This is essentially a restatement of my point that authority includes the power to act and to not act. More broadly, the fact that these two different definitions exist (Zippy’s and Merriam-Webster’s) demonstrates that nominalistic perspective is probably a more accurate (i.e., in accordance with reality) perspective when it comes to abstract concepts such as authority. After all, Zippy either made up his definition of authority or chose it from a variety of definitions because it was in accordance with his subjective perspective.

In conclusion, at this point in my exploration I remain unconvinced that liberalism is incoherent or that liberal government is an essential contradiction in terms. As for the debate between essentialism and nominalism I have to split the baby on that one. For me essentialism makes more sense the more concrete the subject matter and decreasingly less so the more abstract the subject matter becomes.

——

* According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Essentialism is a philosophical theory ascribing ultimate reality to essence embodied in a thing perceptible to the senses.

Nominalism is a [philosophical] theory [which asserts] that there are no universal essences in reality and that the mind can frame no single concept or image corresponding to any universal or general term.

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Attempting To Understand the Alt-Right Part I

galaxyI admit it. Prior to the election of Donald Trump I had been largely ignorant as to the beliefs and practices of the Alt-Right movement. I have had my run-ins with the self identified “genuine white supremacist” but I am not sure to what degree either his bizarre beliefs or his equally bizarre way of communicating them reflect this movement. Another place where I have been exposed to the Alt-Right mindset is on the blog called The Orthosphere. Through reading the various blog posts and comments over time I have come to a better appreciation as to the beliefs associated with the Alt-Right.

Recently on The Orthosphere a contributor named Alan Roebuck wrote a piece entitled, “A Basic Guide to Liberalism and Conservatism, Part I.” In this piece he purported to be a “catechism of liberalism and conservatism (i.e., anti-liberalism)” he made a number of observations that I would like to unpack in an effort to deepen my understanding of the Alt-Right mindset. It is in this spirit (that is, to better understand) that I write this post although I will express any counterpoints I think are appropriate. My point is that I do not write this post from a hostile perspective. Nor is it my chief purpose to refute the beliefs of the Alt-Right as I understand them.

As with the white supremacist gentleman I referred to earlier I do not know to what extent Mr. Roebuck’s views are in line with Alt-Right orthodoxy (if there is such a thing) but it is another tile in the mosaic. He begins with this provocative statement:

Liberalism is the deliberate violation of the laws of God, the laws of nature, and human tradition. If this blasphemy excites you, you’re a liberal. If it disgusts you, you’re a normal person.

The standard definitions of Liberalism taken from dictionary.com read in pertinent part:

 

a political or social philosophy advocating the freedom of the individual, parliamentary systems of government, nonviolent modification of political, social, or economic institutions to assure unrestricted development in all spheres of human endeavor, and governmental guarantees of individual rights and civil liberties.

 a movement in modern Protestantism that emphasizes freedom from tradition and authority, the adjustment of religious beliefs to scientific conceptions, and the development of spiritual capacities.

 

I am not entirely sure these fit the definition of liberalism that Mr. Roebuck believes to be a deliberate violation of God’s laws. Unfortunately (from the perspective of wanting to better understand him) as his post continues he refuses to define liberalism saying,

 

There is no need here to give a full definition of liberalism. Like the famous quip about pornography, we know it when we see it. We know liberalism because its message is everywhere.

 

This seems to imply that Mr. Roebuck believes there is a definition of liberalism that is (perhaps) different than the standard dictionary definition. However, if liberalism in the mind of Mr. Roebuck is not essentially “a political or social philosophy advocating the freedom of the individual”  but some other (as he says) “dominant” and “perverted” philosophy that “we all need defend ourselves against”, it remains to be seen just what exactly he is getting at. In other words I am not sure that what Mr. Roebuck considers to be the liberalism that he knows when he sees it is the same liberalism that I know when I see it. The fact that the two of us are using different definitions for the same terms goes a long way to explain why it seems liberals and members of the Alt-Right movement have difficulty communicating with one another.

 

Mr. Roebuck then describes political conservatism as “any opposition to liberalism” and provides the following exemplars: “Libertarians, Bible-believing Christians, Nazis, monarchists, and the atheistic followers of Ayn Rand, among others…” He stipulates “not all [these exemplars of] conservatism (anti-liberalism) [are] good [so therefore we] must become the right kind of conservatives.” Up until this point Mr. Roebuck has refused to define liberalism and as such his definition of conservatism as anti-liberalism also remains undefined.

 

He takes a step closer to a definition by saying:

The … first conservatives … noticed that the traditional way of life of their people was under attack by liberals and their natural—and honorable—response was to defend what was under attack. They wanted to conserve what was good in the traditions of their people.

 

But that was the past. Liberalism is now victorious. According to our leaders, we’re all supposed to be liberals … [and] celebrate diversity, tolerance, compassion, multiculturalism, and so on.

 This last passage is informative. Here we see that a liberal (in the mind of Mr. Roebuck) is a person who believes diversity, tolerance, compassion and multiculturalism are good and a conservative is one who disagrees with these values because presumably these values are antithetical to or incompatible with traditional values.

 

He goes on to say, “The conservatives have failed to conserve the good. Therefore many honorable anti-liberals [i.e., the Alt-Right] have contempt for conservatism.” He characterizes the failure to conserve the good by failing to reject the values of diversity, tolerance, compassion and multiculturalism as an “undeniable fact.”

 

Here, I must pause to say that I reject Mr. Roebuck’s assertion that diversity, tolerance, compassion and multiculturalism are undeniably bad or even necessarily incompatible with traditional values. I would agree, however, that certain agendas designed to advance these “liberal” values have negatively impacted our society. The best example of this in my mind is political correctness. However, I would argue that political correctness is not a true liberal policy (according to the dictionary definition) in that it serves to inhibit the freedom of thought and expression. Again, we run into a problem of definitions because I would guess Mr. Roebuck would define a liberal as a person who believes political correctness to be a good thing.

 

Mr. Roebuck then discusses what he believes to be wrong with liberalism. His first critique of liberalism centers on the issue of race.

[Liberalism] promises good things but it mostly delivers bad things. And the good it delivers is mostly pleasant distractions that occur before the evil that is liberalism’s real consequence develops fully.

 For example, the diversity that liberals love results in, among other things, mass immigration by non-white peoples whose ways of life are radically incompatible with our traditional American way of life. The immediate results include lots of ethnic food and music, which are pleasant diversions for many people. But the long-term result is hostility and conflict, as incompatible people fight over resources and how society should be organized and governed.

 

My reaction to this argument is to say that America has always been a diverse culture relative to other places in the world. At one time Irish, Italians and Eastern Europeans were considered radically incompatible and ethnic but over time were assimilated and became part of American culture. I do think there is a reasonable argument to be made that immigrant cultures that refuse to assimilate are a threat to peace and national identity. But I am suspicious of the proposition that what is considered to be ethnic now is absolutely a threat.

 

Liberalism says that nobody should be a racist. Racists are to be harassed out of existence… But the harassment of racists is only carried out against white racists. Nonwhite racists are excused because (so they say) they are only responding to centuries of oppression by white people and therefore it’s not really their fault. And whites are punished not just when they’re mean to nonwhite people, but even when they just act like normal people everywhere have always behaved until approximately the middle of the Twentieth Century: Preferring to associate mostly with their own kind and wishing that their nation would not be transformed into a radically multicultural pseudo-empire.

 I think this is partially a fair point. If we reject racism as a culture then all forms of discrimination by race should be rejected. This is only fair and logical. Again, it is the warped politically correct strain of “liberalism” that seems to be at fault in my mind. But I do absolutely reject the notion that United States of America should reject its non white citizens or demote them to a second class. I do believe that all legal citizens should be treated as full citizens by law regardless of race, sex or religion. If that makes me a perverse, blasphemer who rejects the laws of God and nature in the eyes of Mr. Roebuck or those of his ilk then so be it.

 

Mr. Roebuck’s second critique of liberalism centers on the issue of religion. On this subject he starts out by saying:

[L]iberalism rejects the God of the Bible … which always leads to a false understanding of how reality operates. Since God is the Supreme Being and the ultimate Author of all that exists, rejecting God causes man fundamentally to misunderstand all of reality.

 

From the outset I find his assertion to be overly broad and therefore a misunderstanding of reality. Specifically, some liberals reject the God of the Bible and some do not. In the same respect, some conservatives reject the God of the Bible and some do not. Moreover, some liberals and conservative were brought up in other faith traditions such as Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. With the possible exception of Islam these faith traditions also reject the God of the Bible. Does this rejection make them all liberals in the eyes of Mr. Roebuck? In other words are all non Christians by definition also non conservative? Or is he saying that rejecting the God of the Bible is a quality shared by all liberals but can also be a quality that a conservative might also have? 

… They deny that God exists, or they act as if He is unknowable. Or perhaps they believe that God is the Great Liberal in the Sky, weeping over racist police and global warming, and pleading with us to be more tolerant and inclusive. By redefining God, the liberal denies God.

 So here again we run into the problem of common definitions. I do not know whether Mr. Roebuck is defining a liberal as someone who fits this definition or whether he is saying that these qualities naturally flow from the liberal world view. If he believes the former to be true then I would think many people who fit the classical definition of liberal would not fall under this definition. If he believes the latter I simply do not believe this to be true and I cite myself to be an example.

 

He proceeds from these faulty assumptions to say:

… Atheistic man can still …  have a basically accurate understanding of the physical world. But without acknowledging God, atheistic man cannot know the true purposes of things, nor can he know their ultimate causes. … True purposes and ultimate causes cannot be known by scientific investigation because they are non-physical… Under atheism … science for the liberal is the only source of certain knowledge. Therefore liberalism regards proper purposes and ultimate causes as opinions rather than facts.

 Here Mr. Roebuck seems to be using the words “liberal” and “atheist” interchangeably. I assume he arrives at this equivalence based on his assertion that defining God as something other than the God of the Bible is the same thing as denying God entirely. He then concludes that such a person necessarily regards purposes and ultimate causes as opinions rather than facts. This strikes me as a circular and self-fulfilling prophesy. The belief that the God of the Bible defines proper purposes and ultimate causes is a fact is a belief. It is a fact that not everyone holds this belief to be true. A fact must be proven to be a fact. It is not made a fact simply because Mr. Roebuck declares it to be a fact. However, by rejecting Mr. Roebuck’s “logic” on this subject automatically makes the person who rejects that “logic” a liberal and an atheist regardless of whether they actually believe in God or conservative political principals.

 

He continues: 

And if they are opinions then they constantly change. That’s why liberals are always fighting to change the way we live: No-fault divorce. Same-sex marriage. Transgender rights. Open borders. Reducing our carbon footprint.  What was the right way to do things yesterday is not necessarily the right way today, and who knows what it will be tomorrow?

 It is true that opinions can change. Beliefs can also change. They change based upon newly discovered evidence. Something believed to be fact today can be disproven because of newly discovered evidence tomorrow. This is logic not liberalism. Mr. Roebuck views his moral beliefs (e.g., same sex marriage is wrong) to be a fact the same way he views scientific knowledge (e.g., global warming is a hoax) to be unchangeable facts presumably even in the light of newly discovered evidence that would tend to disprove it. Mr. Roebuck started out by saying that liberalism “rejects the God of the Bible … which always leads to a false understanding of how reality operates.” Based on this statement I assume Mr. Roebuck values understanding how reality actually operates as important. It would seem to me that rejecting the way reality operates despite evidence to the contrary also constitutes rejecting the way reality operates. Therefore to reject change simply because it is different than what was once believed to be true would also be a rejection of God who is the true cause, author of reality, and source of purpose.

 

He concludes by saying:

 

Under liberalism, there is no such thing as a stable, unchanging order of the world. But a human society can only work if the people are in basic agreement about the true purposes and the ultimate causes of things. That way they can trust one another and believe that life makes sense. Stripped of this trust and belief, liberal society eventually and inevitably descends into conflict and chaos. And in contemporary America we have the added pressure of mass immigration which is Balkanizing us into mutually hostile tribes.

 My reaction to this is to say that there has never been a “stable, unchanging order of the world.” To believe so would also be a failure to understand reality. This rather basic observation of reality does not in and of itself make me a liberal. I would venture to guess most reasonable conservatives would agree with me on this. Moreover I see no reason why two people who believe different things cannot peacefully coexist. Nor do I see America necessarily descending into conflict and chaos. We do find ourselves in a period of history where demographics are changing. Although unsettling to some to reject this would seem to me to be a false understanding as to how reality operates.

 

Finally, Mr. Roebuck declares, “Let us therefore oppose liberalism and understand the world as it really is. That is the purpose of this series of posts.” I understand this to be the spirit of the Alt-Right. That is, inherent to its philosophy is a rejection of tolerance (as previously stated) and an unwillingness to compromise or even coexist with those who might disagree with them. It seems to me that this does represent a new development in American society. This mindset is reflected by the policy Mr. Roebuck articulated regarding the comment section to his post:

 

About comments:  Time is precious so incoherent comments will not be posted or, if they get through moderation, will summarily be deleted. I also subscribe to Bonald’s maxim that friend/enemy is a basic social distinction. Therefore comments which seem indicate you’re an enemy will suffer the same fate. If you want to be heard, be clear and don’t come across as an enemy.

 Much like Mr. Roebuck’s definition of liberalism, his definition of hostile (at least directed towards himself) seems to be whatever he decides it to be. Hostility, it would seem is another intrinsic quality of the Alt-Right. This hostility is reflected in their distrust of “the other side” and to a certain extent by their refusal to abide by standard definitions. I assume this is because they feel the standard definitions have been corrupted by liberalism, a category I have no doubt Mr. Roebuck would label me with despite (or because of) its murky definition as seemingly viewed by the Alt-Right.

 

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Election 2016

img_0790There seems to be a lot of emotion erupting in response to the election of the 45th President of the United States. It also seems to be the case that this emotion has been festering beneath the surface for some time now. The country is divided between two political / cultural camps that are growing more inflexible and further apart every year.

There are anti-Trump protesters taking to the streets. Perhaps this is what they need to do to vent their emotion to prevent a bottle up and an even more violent explosion. There are those observers (both liberals and conservatives) who say these protesters should just get over it because Trump won under the rules of the game and complaining about it after the fact does not accomplish anything. There are those who say we should amend the constitution to remove the electoral college. There are those who are elated that Trump struck a blow against the PC liberals who have dominated the political landscape for too long. There are those who remind us that at the end of the day we are all Americans. There are also those who did not vote for Trump but who are willing to see how things will shake out. I am sure there are many other iterations but these are the ones that come to my mind as most prominent.

I cannot help but feel a little detached from the whole thing. I voted for Hillary and was pretty confident that she was going to win. On election day I was surprised and disappointed that she lost. I felt bad for her and for President Obama whom I admire a great deal. I have a hard time seeing the host of Celebrity Apprentice as the 45th President of the United States. There is something about this situation that seems a little off to me. I do not want him to roll back the progress made on environmental legislation and the Affordable Care Act. I am uncomfortable with Trump’s apparent association with hate groups. I am uncomfortable with the lashing out of these hate groups after Trump won the election. I wonder why they are lashing out since the election produced the result they were looking for. I am processing a lot of emotions and thoughts but on the whole I feel detached from the whole situation.

I guess I would say that I am willing to see where this thing goes. I find it interesting from a cultural and historical prospective. I also find it interesting and entertaining from a human drama perspective. But for some reason (and maybe this is a good thing) I just cannot get emotionally invested to the point where I would want to protest or even speak up the way many of the people I know are doing.

I find myself strangely drawn to Trump’s youngest son Barron. Whenever I see him on TV he looks uncomfortable and scared. I feel sorry for him and I am not entirely sure why. Yes he looks painfully uncomfortable and I have compassion for him in that regard. But I also suspect on some level he embodies the apprehensive mindset that describes the half of the country who did not vote for Trump.

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Blog Post Arrogance

My white Supremacist acquaintance once castigated me as a liberal (he assumes I am a liberal) who would not let him live his life as he sees fit. I am paraphrasing here. I pointed out that he was the one stalking me by commenting incessantly on every post I made and I that I had no desire to infringe upon his choice of living. I picture him living on a compound in Idaho somewhere hunkering down with survivalist food rations and ammunition. He might very well be living on the upper east side of Manhattan for all I know but to a certain extent I have to take him at his word and draw assumptions from there. At any rate he responded to my comment by saying that I am not writing alone in my salon (again paraphrasing). When I blog I am in effect broadcasting my thoughts to the world. I suppose this is true even though not many people read my blog and they have the option of not choosing to read my blog or even not following my instructions (not that I give any really).

But I can guess that his point has more to do with his assumption that Western Civilization is in the process of collapsing because of the liberal mindset of tolerance and freedom has sapped us of our will to conquer. And if we are not expanding as a civilization we must be collapsing. If I am being honest, I cannot argue with that point. The white population of North America and Europe is in decline. We are not replacing ourselves sufficiently. At the same time the Mexicans, Arabs, Chinese, Indians and Sub-Saharan Africans are reproducing in greater numbers world-wide. On the other hand I am not sure population dynamics are a function of racial initiative so much as a function of economics and when it becomes more expensive to raise a child because of education, health care etc. people tend to have less of them. The White Race is a victim of its own success I suppose. But that means the next “dominant” race will suffer the same consequence. It happened to the Romans.

Of course this perspective assumes that race is the important factor. I don’t necessarily look at it that way which is essentially the accusation my white Supremacist acquaintance would make (I assume). And it is this attitude which is the reason why the white race is in decline. I suppose he would also say we have made a virtue of not caring about race and we can luxuriate in that view until our door get kicked down one day and then we will wish we held different views that motivated us to make different choices. So I guess in my own small way my (supposedly) liberal perspective that I am broadcasting to the world through this blog is contributing to the downfall of Western Civilization as seen from my white Supremacist acquaintance.

I have been thinking about interviewing him to get a better idea as to his philosophy because it seems well thought out (in the sense that he seems to have thought about it a great deal). I am sure it would be interesting.

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Michael Voris and Shame Based Criticism

I’ve been watching videos posted by Michael Voris who is a Roman Catholic apologist and a self-appointed lay defender of the faith. Here is one of his videos:

In this particular video Michael Voris talks about a movie released on the life of christ.  I have never heard of the movie he reviewed and if I had I probably would never have gone to see it. What I found interesting was the message he drew out of it and how he went about explaining his point of view.

In his review he talks about the differences between Catholic and Protestant theology. He talks a lot about the “real presence” in the consecrated bread and wine during mass and how Catholics believe this and Protestants do not. He seems to imply that a Catholic who does not fully believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is not a real Catholic.

Voris talks about how this movie appeals to emotions and not the intellect. He goes on to say that this is emblematic of the Protestant view of Christianity. I don’t know whether this is true or not. What I find interesting is that Voris, like Admiralbill (the conservative on the Star Trek message board I used to torment and documented in my ebook “Shame and Internet Trolling“) has to make his points by criticizing other people. In his analysis Voris takes an “I’m right. You’re wrong” approach and then criticizes his opponents to make his point. He then says that he does what he does for the good of the people he is mocking.

Voris argues Catholic truth appeals to the intellect whereas Protestant truth appeals to the emotions. There is the sense in his argument that emotions are not authentic or important. He says “emotions do not save … often times they deceive.” Admiralbill once typed, “WE THINK YOU FEEL” as a response intended to convey his belief that thoughts are more important than feelings and conservatives base their views on thoughts whereas liberals base their views upon feelings.

It is interesting to me that Michael Voris argues using the shame playbook just like Admiralbill. He claims to be motivated by saving souls but his method of argument (ie, shaming those who disagree with him) and the hostile energy he emits suggests to me that his real motivation is to shame others to make himself feel better about himself. This is what shame-based people do.

I am not commenting on the substance of his arguments. That is a question of faith I would suppose. He seems to have faith that Roman Catholicism is the one true faith. I am a Roman Catholic, I will make no argument with that. I am really questioning the motives he claims to be striving for. If I am being honest, if his true motivation is to assuage his shame ego then his arguments seem to carry less weight to me. Perhaps this is valuing feelings over thoughts on my part. But I am not entirely convinced that feelings should be weighted less than thought.

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Trolling Methods

Admiralbill (my nemesis on the Sistertrek message board) had many, easy buttons I knew how to push that would easily bait him into an argument.  All of his buttons revolved around the fact that he was a rabid, George W. Bush defending, Fox News watching, Rush Limbaugh listening, conservative Republican.  The following is a list of those buttons:

1.         I would post a news article that tended to put the Republican / Conservatives in a bad light.  I would add no comments but simply sit back and watch the debate unfold.  This was obviously intended to push Admiralbill’s buttons but I could always argue that I thought the article was interesting and might stimulate a healthy political discussion.  It had the effect of putting him on the defense because he felt compelled to respond to it.

2.         I would then keep him tired and on the defensive.  I did this by responding quickly and concisely.  In general (not just with Admiralbill) when I did post commentary I would keep it short and only address one particular point.  I always found it funny when other posters got so worked up over something and took the time to write a long drawn out diatribe responding to every single point in a previous post.  I would just choose one point to refute or agree with.  This had the effect negating all the work the diatribe attempted to make.  I conserved my energy with small posts that took me ten minutes to craft they exhausted themselves with long ones that took an hour.  The longer they take to respond, the more rest I have and the more agitation they felt to get a response out.

3.         I usually asked questions in my responses.  This also put Admiralbill on the defensive because he felt compelled to respond to a direct question and the question framed his response.  Thus he never set the tone because he was always responding to the tone I set.  These questions also had the effect of pissing him off.  I naturally asked questions to begin with not thinking this was strategy but once I realized he did not like it I did it more.

4.         If Admiralbill accused me of baiting or trolling I would always deny, deny, deny.  This is probably the most important tip for any would be troll out there.  Nothing angers other posters more than when someone refuses to recognize the obvious.  Instead, I would argue that I had no intent to bait but rather to stimulate interesting and civil debate which he was ruining by resorting to personal attacks rather than addressing the issues.  I also specifically stated at times that I did not want Admiralbill to respond in specific threads to avoid conflict.  Of course this had the intended opposite effect.

5.         I definitely had my share of enemies who sided with Admiralbill or saw me as a trouble-maker but I also cultivated allies on the board who could take some heat off me if I was boxed into a corner.  Then when Admiralbill focused on the other guy I could attack back and undermine him.  Even if a person has the moral high ground, it is difficult to get frustrated if two or more people are against that person on a message board.

 

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