Quick Thought on Free Trade

The standard refutation I have heard against protectionist trade policies (tariffs and such intended to protect local industry) is almost gleeful rejoinder:  look, if other countries want to make stuff and send it to us for cheap, why on earth are we against that?  They do all the work, and we get the stuff!

And indeed, I think this argument has a lot of merit.

That said, does make a mistake in its evaluation of the winners and losers in the situation.   “They do all the work” is counted as a pure negative on their side.

But work is a good thing.

“Cursed is the ground for thy sake…in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread…”

Economic plans that fail to account for this will undervalue work, and see the humans in the system deteriorate.

Noblesse Oblige, Dogs

I was reminded today that Christmas is coming, and that this should not be taken lightly.  With the possible exception of Easter, there is no better time of the year to do good, and to request miracles.  There is a victory in Christmas that drowns out the world and yet is itself quiet and still.

Now for something completely different:Batman.

Maybe I am just a huge nerd, because I loved Donovan Greene’s post on Batman, Noblesse Oblige, and the Perennial Nature of the Aristocracy.*  If you have never read it, read(and watch) it!  And while you’re at it, read Whatever Happened To Noblesse Oblige? (also: Millenial Woes’ treatment).

The obligation to build runs strongly through every part of Reaction—from the importance of order over chaos, to the futility of activist-style protest, to the preference to improve the citizenry instead of importing another one.

And build what?  Humans mostly.  The press likes to paint neoreaction as power-hungry—and perhaps it is, being composed of humans.  But in principle, it is understood that the act of ruling consists chiefly of responsibility, rather than authority—and further, which comes first.

All these Internet words aren’t just theory, you know.  The neoreactionary project, at its best, consists of: taking responsibility for a portion of society, and working for its betterment, all without acting beyond our purview.  “Give me power, and I’ll fix things,” says the activist.  “I am fixing things, as far as I am able,” says the reactionary.  “Long live the King.”

Great, so you’ve decided to take some portion of responsibility for society: what can you do for them?

In my case, I have chosen my local ward(similar to a parish).  It is composed of about 200-300 single Mormons about 18-30.  I have no special authority or standing in this group.

What should I do?

My first thought was: I have knowledge.  I have access to a set of ideas that could bind the group more tightly, create asabiyyah, and make gender relations smoother.

In what’s probably not much of a spoiler, attempting to redpill people en masse on about four different axes is no small matter.

Next I thought: a lot of these people are obese, which is hurting their dating prospects.  I could set up a workout group.   But then I realized that what they most need is to eat better, which requires a more integrated approach than I could possibly take.

Finally I realized: sociohistorical principles and fitness encouragement are both good things, but they are terrible substitutes for a human being.  What they needed was not a program I dreamed up, but me.

What does your dog value about you?  The money you pay to the vet?  The precise engineering of the $30 dog food you feed him?

Rubbish.  He likes you—specifically, your spending time with him, paying attention to him, treating him as a friend.

Don’t get me wrong: take your dog to the vet.  If you think it’s better for him, feed him expensive dog food.  But you also have to communicate with him in ways he’ll understand.

So: I am going against my introverted, elitist, standoffish nature, and trying to:

  • talk to more people than I otherwise would,
  • attend more social events than I otherwise would
  •  remember names I would otherwise forget
  • talk a second, and third, and fourth time to people I otherwise wouldn’t

It feels kind of stupid writing this, to be honest.  No, I am not restoring masculinity.  No, I am not alerting anyone to the dangers of progressivism.  And pretty much anyone could do this: it doesn’t require my intelligence, my professional skills, money, strength…

But really, this should be encouraging to all of us.  If we are striving to be good kings before the fact, and doing so means taking responsibility for and doing good to groups of people, then it is a relief that no special trick, talent, or social position is necessary to begin.

*Now that you’ve read the whole post: How is Batman failing Gotham?

…the Best Kind of Correct

An oft-quoted phrase is that “Women are the gatekeepers of sex, and men are hte gatekeepers of commitment.”

But this is not really true for commitment or sex.  I have a really hard time imagining how a woman could rape me, while men can generally overpower women.  What stops men from having sex with any woman they want is a combination of their own decency and other men.  For more on this, see Cane’s post.  The point is: men, not women, are the gatekeepers of sex.

The phrase “commitment” is a funny beast.  What’s important to remember is that a commitment is not a commitment unless you burn the boats—when you can’t go back.

Non-marital “relationships” aren’t commitments, because they can be dissolved at will and there’s no real penalty for leaving them.  If I say “Sure, I’ll be your boyfriend,” to a girl and then change my mind the next day, what’s gonna happen to me?  Nothing, that’s what.

Marriage, though…you can leave physically, cheat, whatever—but you are still married to that person.  This isn’t something the state can obviate.  Marriage is the only real commitment.

Who actually makes marriage happen?  Or, who is the gatekeeper?

What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

God performs marriage, through his servants.  If a man and a woman want to get married, and God doesn’t want them to, it won’t happen.

What to take from this?  I’m not sure.  But let’s get our aphorisms straight.

Quick Note

I had something of an epiphany last night, but I don’t have time to write about it extensively.

What I do have time for, though is this:  if husbands pray for help in loving their wives, and wives pray for help in respecting their husbands, only good can result.

 

Honor

One of my best friends passed away last week.

I’m twenty-nine years old, and up until last week, I was immortal.  I’m down to one grandparent, and a stepcousin committed suicide a few years ago, but a) my grandparents were old, and b) my stepcousin was kind of crazy.  We, you know, would never die.  Maybe in 40 years, but that would obviously never come (I mean, had it ever come before?).

He was good.  And interestingly, he was somewhat of an anomaly: he wasn’t, like, good after the fact, in a never-speak-ill-of-the-dead way, or a look-past-his-faults way.  He was smart, athletic, committed to his faith, funny, curious, loyal, diligent, and friendly.  He was an uncomplicatedly virtuous (in all senses of the word) man.

One foundational concept of this area of the internet is the mannerbund a group of men bound to each other by trust in (possibly loose) hierarchy and cooperation.  I have been lucky in that I seem to naturally form these; I have a tight group of male friends that has endured since high school (I talked to one of them today, and another the day before that), and one that formed in college.

My friend was in the college one.  Of course we all showed up to the funeral, and when I saw the rest of the group, I couldn’t hide my grief anymore, because how could I hide from them what we in particular shared?

Why did this hit us so hard?  It didn’t impact any of our careers.  None of us were dependent on him for anything.

What I miss from my friend is the opportunity to trust and be trusted, to serve and be served, to honor and be honored.  I’ve heard people say things like he’ll watch over us from heaven, but, like, I’m a big boy now, I can negotiate life OK without the “extra” divine help.  What I want is not so much help from him, but the opportunity to help him.

 


 

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis points out

the different senses of the possessive pronoun—the finely graded differences that run from “my boots” through “my dog”, “my servant”, “my wife”, “my father”, “my master” and “my country”, to “my God”.

Ownership, possession, hierarchy, and duty are complicated, messy topics, with spectra of meaning.  The modern world does not understand this—and neither does Hell(again from Letters):

The whole philosophy of Hell rests on recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing, and, specially, that one self is not another self. My good is my good and your good is yours. What one gains another loses. Even an inanimate object is what it is by excluding all other objects from the space it occupies; if it expands, it does so by thrusting other objects aside or by absorbing them. A self does the same. With beasts the absorption takes the form of eating; for us, it means the sucking of will and freedom out of a weaker self into a stronger. “To be” means “to be in competition”.

 

But readers of this blog likely have a more nuanced understanding than most.  Relationships that seem uncomplicatedly hierarchical (and by the Screwtape view, necessarily exploitative) can take on surprising qualities of love and self-sacrifice.

 

*(see footnote)

Service within a well-functioning mannerbund gets triple (at least!) value, because

  • It provides opportunity for meaningful action.  As the inimitable Tyler Durden says, “Self-improvement is masturbation.”  Self-anything is masturbation.  One of the qualities  of the image that men want to have of themselves is the ability and willingness to help their allies.  How to prove this without allies?
  •  Improving their welfare is a win for the group, which means it’s a win for you
  •  It gives them an opportunity to honor you, which, in a well-functioning group, they  want to do.  But because one can only honor the honorable, you have to provide them with opportunities.  See also.

What happens is that seemingly zero-sum interactions become positive-sum.  A braggart among strangers is an annoyance; a braggart among comrades merits a hearty toast.  This can even develop feedback loops where it is honorable to honor another, and all parties benefit (although).

Thus the sacred declarations of foiled intent: Aragorn’s assurance (see below), followed soon after by Boromir’s longing promise (“I would have followed you, my brother,”).

 

Boromir’s final moments provide us another window into how to love men.  What are Boromir’s last actions?  He reaches for his sword and declares his fealty.  He is, in other words, seeking honor.  And Aragorn grants it, helping him grasp his sword and accepting his (unfulfilled in life) loyalty.

What grieves me (although somewhat less so now, as I have pondered how to do what little I can after his death) is that I was deprived of the opportunity to honor my friend in life to the extent that he deserved.  I grieve not so much for him as for his honor—which would sound unloving except that I know that’s what he would grieve for.**

 

*(Honestly you could just watch this scene all day and get 90% of what’s good about reaction.  It’s all here: hierarchy, honor, compassion, male groups, loyalty, resolve rather than despair)

**to himself, not publicly—but I can grieve about it publicly.  One duty of men is to work on behalf of each other’s (Freudian) ids, because honor demands that they don’t do this themselves.  Thus the hallowed stations of wingman and best man: one to make the wedding happen, and the other to make the groom look good at it.

Why I’m not a White Nationalist

In polite society, no one writes essays with titles like this, because one of the rules of polite society is “You are not a white nationalist.”

But this is impolite society, so who knows?  Maybe I am.

Well, I’m not, but before I say why, I should mention that WN’s, in my limited, internet-only experience, have some fairly good points.  Certainly I’m more sympathetic to them than your garden-variety progressive.  Nor am I blind to the media’s manifest untrustworthiness when it comes to anything possibly relevant to race.

For that matter, I’m generally more comfortable around white people, and I’m OK with that.  I’m pretty sure it’s the norm for everyone to feel more at ease around others like them.

What weirds me out, however, is that WN’s seem to sometimes turn “whiteness” into a virtue elevated above others.  This strikes me as just…weird.  There are good people who are white.  But…there’s also human filth that’s white.  A philosophy so focused on race that it puts Trump and Washington on an equal level is a philosophy that’s got some splainin’ to do.

WN’s make an appeal that I think is very important, to group loyalty.  Loyalty is, basically, discrimination, and I think it’s an important, necessary part of life.  Loyalty is what makes a man bring food home to his kids rather than give it to some other kids.  It’s important to love what you are, and those close to you.

But that is not the same thing as implying that you, or those like you, are perfect, or ideals of virtue.  To an extent, loving others is about seeing what they could be, and urging them on.

I do not get the sense that white nationalism, as a whole, makes either self-improvement, or encouragement of others, a priority.  A movement like that would probably trying to fight meth, or start co-op farms.  Poor whites are in trouble, and it’s a shame that not much is being done for them, but I don’t get the sense that WN is that interested in helping them.  I’m not sure it’s interested in doing anything, really.

The final, more visceral reason I’m not a white nationalist, is an almost nastily racist one: race nationalists are losers.  BLM gets airtime and “space to destroy,” but none of their sound and fury will make the inner city safer.  Every Mexican flag held up outside a Trump rally is another person who won’t really enjoy the Captain America movies.  BLM members and black traders at Goldman Sachs are not the same people.  And white nationalists…well, yeah, The Force Awakens was really stupid about how it just rehashed A New Hope, but John Boyega did a good job.  I like him in the role.  It’d be a shame to spoil your enjoyment of the film over something like ideology.

Heroism

The definition of hero I have settled on is: “someone who does something great for the tribe.”

I should also mention why I care about this.  It’s because I have an intuition that understanding heroism will help us (“Us” being: anyone who reads this blog, with a particular eye to those who consider themselves reactionaries, or something close to it).  Some posts I’ve come across lately have strengthened this intuition. So I want to treat the words “hero,” and “heroism,” as technical terms.  Thus, it’s no good saying, “The real heroes are…”

Lewis approaches this well:

The word gentleman originally meant something recognisable; one who had a coat of arms and some landed property. When you called someone “a gentleman” you were not paying him a compliment, but merely stating a fact. If you said he was not “a gentleman” you were not insulting him, but giving information. There was no contradiction in saying that John was a liar and a gentleman; any more than there now is in saying that James is a fool and an M.A. But then there came people who said—so rightly, charitably, spiritually, sensitively, so anything but usefully—”Ah, but surely the important thing about a gentleman is not the coat of arms and the land, but the behaviour? Surely he is the true gentleman who behaves as a gentleman should? Surely in that sense Edward is far more truly a gentleman than John?”

They meant well. To be honourable and courteous and brave is of course a far better thing than to have a coat of arms. But it is not the same thing. Worse still, it is not a thing everyone will agree about. To call a man “a gentleman” in this new, refined sense, becomes, in fact, not a way of giving information about him, but a way of praising him: to deny that he is “a gentleman” becomes simply a way of insulting him. When a word ceases to be a term of description and becomes merely a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object: it only tells you about the speaker’s attitude to that object. (A “nice” meal only means a meal the speaker likes.)

A gentleman, once it has been spiritualised and refined out of its old coarse, objective sense, means hardly more than a man whom the speaker likes. As a result, gentleman is now a useless word. We had lots of terms of approval already, so it was not needed for that use; on the other hand if anyone (say, in a historical work) wants to use it in its old sense, he cannot do so without explanations. It has been spoiled for that purpose.

Mere Christianity

There are heroes who are bad men, and there are good men who are not heroes.

Note that someone is only a hero in relation to a tribe: that tribe can be as small as one other person, or it can be the entire human race.

Seeing heroes as people who do great deeds for the tribe shows why our skin crawls a bit when someone says, “Did you know <founding father> {was gay|owned fifty slaves|wrote erotic literature}?”  The truth or falsehood of the claims doesn’t matter: it is ungracious.

(The more powerful clip, that requires some context, is the birthday scene from East of Eden .  Some time, when you have time, watch the whole film; I had a hard time watching this again)