John C. Wright (johncwright) wrote,
John C. Wright
johncwright

The Coldness of the Heretics

As I mentioned below, the fine fellows over at SFSignal ask writers and editors our considered opinion about something called "gender balance". I assume this has to do with Latin grammar, since "gender" is a part of speech. The biological differences between male and female are called "sex" not "gender." 

Here is the link.

The spread of opinion was, as always on divisive issues, wide. 

Let me comment on the worst comment in the lot, and use this as an excuse to write an overlong screed on a topic only tangential to it:

Some writing embraces, celebrates and perpetuates the dominant culture. Sometimes that is written, edited, and published by the people who most benefit from it. Sometimes it is written, edited, and published by people who do not benefit from it, but who have internalized it too well. I would argue that to consciously embrace and celebrate the dominant culture through an act of writing, editing or publishing - or even reviewing/acknowledging -- knowing the inequities and injustices that the dominant culture is built on, is an unethical act that perpetuates the worst of that culture's inequities and injustices.   

This was written by a person, or perhaps a small animal, named “Cat.”

I hope the disproportionate absurdity of the sentiment expressed speaks for itself (it is an unethical act to review or acknowledge a book complimentary to Western values, because the West is built on evil. So don’t review STAR WARS or acknowledge STAR TREK because Virginian planters kept black slaves, the Romans conquered the Gauls, and the Homo Sapiens wiped out the Neanderthals).

I hope the illogic involved is likewise obvious (Only within the ethical context of Western values, Judo-Christian and Greco-Roman ideals of justice, individualism, and pity for the underdog, it is regarded as an evil to side with one’s forefathers against the stranger or sojourner when one’s forefathers are arguably in the wrong. Oriental ethical systems make patriotism and family loyalty paramount. The Muslim has a broader standard, since Islam is a universalist religion, but no pity is obligated for the infidel, but instead, a positive obligation to war, to pillage and to conquer. Hence, we cannot reject the West except from Progressive philosophical ground; but Progressivism is unique to the West, a heresy of the Enlightenment, so to speak, that can grow out of no other intellectual tradition.)

So seeing no need to dwell further on the lack of proportion and the lack of logic, I should like to emphasize the dismal coldheartedness of the world-view expressed. I submit that it is an inhuman world view.

 

Let us not mince words: Cat is a Marxist. The Marxist sees the world as divided into the evil oppressors and the virtuous victims.

The world view is remarkably one-sided and simplistic: criticism of the victims, even when they commit the same crimes as the oppressors, is never voiced.

The world view is collective: the crime of belonging to the group “White” is a crime because the Whites oppressed and enslaved, for example, the Black Africans. Never mind that individual blacks also enslaved and sold blacks, and that individual White Guys from Lincoln to Wilberforce to Lord Mansfield also freed the blacks, after discovering and propagating the Greco-Roman Judo-Christian notion — found nowhere else in history — that all men were created in the image of God, created equal, and deserved by nature to be free.

In the collective world view, the only motive admitted in any discussion is self-interest, i.e. a prudent form of selfishness. Note particularly what Cat says:  Sometimes writing that perpetuates the dominant culture is written by the people who most benefit from it. Sometimes it is written by people who do not benefit from it, but who have internalized it too well.

What is absent from this world-view is unselfishness. The idea that a poor man (as I once was) might prefer to live, for example, in a nation with a robust free market (as I do), is alien to this world view. The poor man is designated as a member of a victim group, whether he is actually the victim of any real harm or not. The idea that a poor man in a capitalist democracy is better off (both because he is free and because his opportunities are limitless) than a rich man under the heel of a dictatorship, or webbed by the strangling safety net of the Nanny State, is alien to this world view.

What is absent from this world-view is basic fairness. No one can be objective, in this world view: no one can look at the larger picture, and no one can say “Stepping away from my own personal interests, I judge that this system of laws and customs is more just than the other real options. My judgment is the same, whether I personally get money and power from this system or not.”

What is absent from this world-view is humility. Everyone can either be accused of being self-serving (those who benefit from perpetuating the dominant culture) and therefore insincere, or perhaps a hypocrite; or can be pitied as self-deluded, or, perhaps, accused of class-treason (those who do not benefit, but have internalized it too well). In both cases, the conclusions of those who celebrate their home culture can be dismissed condescendingly, because all who defend the culture are automatically hypocrites and traitors.

What is absent from this world-view is love. No one in the Marxist world view loves his country, his nation, his culture, his tribe, his family. The only culture you can love is a stranger’s, and it must be a blind love, blind to the flaws and barbarisms that surround the non-Christian world. The only nation you can love is the United Nations, I guess.

There is group-identity politics, but please notice that, as a matter of fact, the groups selected by the Progressives are always artificial categories with no real-world meaning. According to feminists, my wife has more interests in common with Madame Mao than she has with me, even though she and I are one family, and Madame Mao is a Red enemy. Likewise, according to collectivist theory, the hand in the Ford plant has more interests in common with a hand in the Volkswagen plant than he does with Henry Ford, even if the USA and Germany are at war at the time. Likewise, I, John C. Wright, white male from Virginia, am supposed to have nothing in common with Ayn Rand because she is not a man, so I should prefer the books and the company of my fellow white male Bill Clinton. He and I (according to collectivist theory) are supposed to gang up on her. Maybe Bill can send in federal agents to stamp her cat to death.

On the other hand, the Pope is a Pole, so I am not sure why he is a member of my collective “White Race” as opposed to, say , a Islamic mulatto from Fairfax County, who, if genetics means anything, has more genes in common with me that I have with Cardinal Ratzinger. Is race simply skin color? If there is a biological base, then my “race” and hence my alleged unity of collectivist self-interest, is shared with all the children and grandchildren of mixed marriages, or of Sally Hemmings type affairs. Am I supposed to be a member of the collective “Rightwing Christian Conservative Nutjob”? But the Catholics were scorned and beaten and oppressed when they came to these shores— few folk, from the Pilgrims onward, came to these shores without suffering some evils at the hands of their fellow men—but no Marxist and no Progressive would ever admit that the Catholic Church was a legitimate collective identity-group.

Their groups are race, sex, and economic category (note: investor and wage-earner are descriptions of actions men take in an economy, not a description of a class or race of men) and sometimes sexual orientation. No real group that actually acts in unity and seeks unity, a Church, a family, a culture, or a nation, is a legit group as far as they are concerned: for Progressivism is make-believe, and so only make-believe groups mean anything to them. (I assure you I have more in common, self-interest-wise, with an Oriental lesbian libertarian Catholic American than I do with a white male hetero pinko Jihad-crazed Islamist from Iran. Just so you know. If they both wrote books of equal educational and entertainment value reflecting their world views, I would not complain of a gender imbalance or race imbalance, or whatever imbalance if the thoughts in that book reflected, not my skin hue, but my religion, my ideals, my patriotism, my politics, my tastes. By the wounds of Christ, I have more in common, self-interest wise, with any honest man of any race or class or nation than I do with any scoundrel of any race or class or nation. All honest men have a mutual enemy in the dishonest.)

If you are a member of the victim group, you cannot say, “Better a poor but honest black man in America than a wealthy King in Arabia, or a Commissar in China” because this is not in your self-interest. You get no money and no power from loving your country.

If you want more from life than money and power, if, indeed, you are not a materialist, then the rigid Marxist philosophy has no pigeonhole for you. It crashes their mental computer.

Ergo, by Marxist logic, if you love your country and get no money in return, well, you must have “internalized” the evil values of the evil “dominant culture.” You are not looking out for your own self-interest, and so ergo you must be deceived, a person with a false class consciousness, and perhaps a traitor to your class, race, sex, or other collective that demands your total loyalty.

As a member of the herd, of course, you are morally obligated to be a nonconformist. Anything else is “unethical”. Good grief.

The other thing absent from the Marxist world is a healthy dose of skepticism.

A skeptic would ask, “Gee, gosh, Cat! If Western Democracy build on Judo-Christian Greco-Roman Capitalist Individualist Christianity is the “dominant culture”, how did it get to be dominant? Who, exactly, did the early apostles “dominate” when Christianity spread through the Empire, and how did the Empire’s religion, after the fall of Rome, come to be spread among the Norse peoples? How many divisions of tanks did the Pope use to spread Christianity among the Communists of Poland, and how many Christian paratroopers reintroduce Russian Orthodoxy to Russia? When double-entry bookkeeping and private ownership of property became the main modes of the production of the wealth of nations in the West, the system its enemies call “Capitalism”, why did people flock to the factories? Why did their lifespans increase and infant mortality decrease? Why do immigrants flock to America, so many that all the immigration to all the other European nations COMBINED cannot match it? Are all these people masochists? Each and every one?”

To the skeptic, it is those who swallow the manifold, ever-changing, and ever-increasing absurdities of the Marxist view of history who seem gullible. So very many people are masochists, and they rush to the factories and fields of wealthy nations to raise families? It somehow exploits or harms them to pay them a wage, rather than (as under Communism, or Feudalism, or more barbaric methods of land-use and manufacturing) using serfs or slaves?

I would be so bold as to say that if the dominant culture in a Democracy became dominant because everyone voted for it, or, by immigration, “voted with their feet” and came here, it becomes pointless, nay, it becomes unethical, to complain about those who love the West from celebrating its virtues in song and story. We who love it also criticize it, because love— parental love— sometimes punishes and corrects.

We do not tell stories merely because it is in our self-interest; nor because we operate against our self-interest but have ‘internalized’ the values and customs of our oppressors. What total bunk. What total foolishness.

We tell stories because we love stories. We tell stories about the things we love because we love them. Do you expect people to stop telling myths about their own culture? Do you expect to stop admiring their own heroes? It would be neglect, it would be negligence, for a generation not to teach to its young the values and virtues inherited from its forefathers. Every cub is taught to hunt by its sire: shall we novelists be less than the beasts?    

Do you honestly believe some of the bitterest and most biting criticism of the “dominant culture” does not come from Science Fiction? No? What about NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR by George Orwell, BRAVE NEW WORLD by Huxley, A HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood, FEMALE MAN by Joanna Rush or ANTHEM by Ayn Rand or FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury , or for that matter, what about CALIPHATE by Tom Kratman?

Are these not science fiction? I get the impression that they are criticizing someone.

Was THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH by C.S. Lewis completely uncritical of modernism, science-worship, modern education, feminism? Was THE AMBER SPYGLASS by Phillip Pullman completely uncritical of the Roman Catholic Church?

STARSHIP TROOPERS is hated by those who hate it and loved by those who love it because it bitterly criticized pacifism, so beloved of the Left; STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND is hated and loved because it bitterly criticized monogamy and monotheism, so beloved of the Right.

If you are alert enough to spot it, note the criticism of the “dominant culture” in WAR OF THE WORLDS or THE TIME MACHINE or ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU or WHEN THE SLEEPER WAKES or FIRST MEN IN THE MOON. Good heavens, even TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA stars the fiercely anti-Imperialist Captain Nemo.

Was there no criticism of the “dominant culture” in STAR TREK? I seem to recall a few episodes that made a counter-cultural point or two.

Which one of these books, all of them classics of the genre, should we not publish, not review, not “acknowledge” because they are too celebratory of the ‘dominant culture’? What? Is it only criticism from the Left that is valid? Is it only the Progressives that are saints, and everyone else is damned? Only H.G. Wells writes valid Science Fiction, and not Jules Verne?

All these science fiction books, all of them, rightwing and leftwing both, are based on values that spring from the West. Marxism is Western, because economics (of which Marxism is a lunatic distortion) is a Western science; Progressivism is Western, because progress (of which Progressivism is an idolatry) springs from Western science; Feminism is Western, because equality (of which Feminism is a heresy) is a Western political ideal, unknown to the Emperors of China and to the Brahmin of India.

Let us save the best for last: what about WE by Yevgeny Zamyatin? Oh, wait a minute. I seem to recall that Mr. Zamyatin’s book was repeatedly banned in Russia, and that the author was forced to flee from Soviet Russia, that bastion and exemplar of tolerant Marxist values, because he dared to criticize what was the ‘dominant culture’ there. 

I wonder if it is ethical or unethical to celebrate the ‘dominant culture’ if the culture is based on no evils, like the Worker’s Paradises that so grandly went broke in recent decades, after uselessly killing countless tens and hundreds of millions of people.

And what a stupid standard it is not to celebrate what is praiseworthy in a man, or in a nation, or in an ideal, because we find our idol has feet of clay. If there is a culture with no evils in its past, no wars, no invasions, no oppressions, then it is the culture in the Garden of Eden. According to the poet Dante that lasted from nine in the morning until noontide. Every society after that has a certain number of corpses to explain away, except for the revolutionary societies of the modern bent, Marxist and Fascists, who have astronomical numbers of corpses to explain away. This standard is no standard at all, but a trifle of moral preening, of vanity, of narcissism. Let us not be so quick to shatter our idol whose feet are clay if the idol we have to erect in his place lacks a head of gold.

One final note: outside of the narrow and dark walls of the madhouse of Marxist thinking, some of us tell stories just to tell stories, as entertainment, and as art, because of inspirations even we cannot understand: and not as propaganda and not as indoctrination. So, the Marxist world view is not only materialist, selfish, and loveless, it is lacking in art, beauty, and poetry.

 

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