Early Morning, and Thoughts

Go to bed early.  You’ll wake up early like I just have.  The clock on my computer reads 5:32 AM

Here are some tidbits that have been on my mind of late:

Neoreaction and Virtue

I have a less-rational attachment to neoreaction than I would like.  It’s basically a band that I like because I found them before they went mainstream.

However, it has led me to several aspects of past culture that resonate very strongly with me.  One of these was the widespread pursuit of virtue.

I look at the language sometimes and see what Greenpeace must see when they look at a strip mall.  There used to be this lush wild diverse[1] paradise full of grizzly bears, and now there’s bland uniformity in its place.

One definite casualty of modernity is the word virtue.

Here’s what a random internet dictionary has to say about the word:

a. Moral excellence and righteousness; goodness.
b. An example or kind of moral excellence: the virtue of patience.
2. Chastity, especially in a woman.
3. A particularly efficacious, good, or beneficial quality; advantage: a plan with the virtue of being practical.
4. Effective force or power: believed in the virtue of prayer.
5. virtues Christianity The fifth of the nine orders of angels in medieval angelology.
6. Obsolete Manly courage; valor.

It is #4 and #6 that interest me especially.  #4 (Effective force or power) sounds almost medieval.  I’m reminded of T.S. Eliot’s The Once and Future King.  Not a particular passage, just the feel.  “Does the sword still cut true?”  “Nay, the virtue hath gone out of it.”  It was perhaps the equivalent of “mojo.”  Note that this is a distinctly different meaning than what your Sunday School teacher used, which probably had something to do with avoiding porn.  (He or she was right, but it was a cargo-cult kind of right).

#6 almost makes me want to cry (manly, manly tears[2]).  Obsolete?  Are courage and valor obsolete?  Are they no longer regarded as virtues?  This is Hanna Rosin’s End of Men in a four-word dictionary entry.

Here’s what we take from this:  the ancients really believed that virtue was its own reward, because their conception of virtue was “power or trait that leads to power,” not “something your mother would like.”  “Power is its own reward”  sounds much more intuitive, doesn’t it?

Now, let’s try some substitutions:

“Female chastity is power.” (see #2)

“Female chastity is its own reward.” (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, search for the phrase “alpha widow” and have a look at this and this)

“Power is its own reward.”

“Courage and valor are their own rewards.”

With this understanding of virtue, we can turn back to neoreaction.  The question on everyone’s lips: “What is to be done?”[3]  We are both practically and theoretically precluded from starting some sort of third-world style revolution (to be like the Third World, do as it does).  We will make zero headway with the masses.  And yet everyone, including himself, despises the guy who talks endlessly but won’t do anything.

Personal virtue is “the thing to be done.”  Because the word “virtue” is territory lost to the enemy, “excellence,” would probably be a better term.  But given some of the truths we’ve rediscovered in the Dark Enlightenment, namely a) having power is better than not having power, and b) no system of government can work without a population of some average level of virtue, the the development of personal virtue is both personally advantageous and a public service.  The hope of activism, and Obama 2008, was that a better society could be had simply by asking (I’m sorry, “voting”) for it.  It just ain’t so.  The best way to predict the future is to invent it, and it seems the future won’t even come otherwise.

My Retirement Plan

I just turned 27, so I’m not about to stop working (or saving! or learning things!  or building things!) any time soon.  But somewhere in the reactosphere I came across a social scientist citing pension plans as the cause of Europe’s low fertility rate.

Ooooooohhhhhhhh, I thought.  So that’s how people used to do it.

We like to talk about low time preference around here, so let’s do some preferring about the future. Would you like to spend your last years

a) working a menial job to pay for a small apartment


b) living in the spare room of one of your children’s houses, dispensing elderly wisdom to your grandchildren when they come home from school.  Perhaps a political rant or two.

Note that the second option is not that expensive.  People used to do it, because they had to.  That’s why it’s a staple of older TV shows and movies.

Now, perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect your kid to be successful enough to support you in your dotage.   So some diversification is in order:  have a lot of kids.

Of course, having kids, few or many, will require a woman.  But having a lot of kids will require a young, fertile woman…

This is the frame I’m in now.  I’ve reached the point where I feel zero shame  hitting on 18-yr-olds.  I have a real reason:   I want to have a lot of kids.  Maybe it’s creepy, maybe it’s not: she can decide that for herself.

Does this, at the same time, make me feel bad for women my age?  Absolutely.  I can think of one Ph D. candidate I know.  31.  Cute as a button.  Would that I had met her ten years ago, and I had been older.  But I don’t think she’d have taken the deal.

Another.  29.  Smoking hot, as in “way more attractive than I thought would ever be interested in me.” (And to be fair, it was only for a short while).  But as I thought about it…kids.  It’s not personal.  Just business.  Retirement planning.

I don’t have an answer for them.



[3]”Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:37-8


3 comments on “Early Morning, and Thoughts

  1. Aquinas Dad says:

    The Cardinal Virtues:
    Fortitude: neither cowardly nor foolhardy
    Justice: neither too soft nor too stern
    Temperance: neither hedonistic nor self-flagellating
    Prudence: neither rash nor over-deliberative
    The are Cardinal meaning they are the core of other virtues and they are none stronger than the weakest. A man who knows justice but is too timid to act on it is not just; a brave man who has no temperance does not act bravely.
    When you cultivate the cardinal virtues you grow in the theological virtues of
    Faith: belief in God and acceptance of reality which leads to obedience to God and the truth
    Hope: knowledge that God is always present that leads to expectation of Him and freedom from despair and the strength to continue in the face of evil
    Charity: the love of God and our neighbor in a selfless manner
    So yes – virtue is its own reward!

  2. William Stearns says:

    Probably just repeating what you already know, but your T.S. Elliot quote points to the basics of virtue theory as a whole. Namely, the function argument that Aristotle used. To determine what the good of something is, one must determine its function. a Good sword (or a virtuous one), is one that cuts well, for example. Aristotle argues, if I recall, that the special function that humans have over other animals is the rational soul or self. From this he derives the whole system of virtues based upon a proper disposition towards external events, to be a functional human. As such it is not surprising at all that a virtue-less society starts becoming dysfunctional, since is directly follows from what Aristotle says the virtues are.

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