Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Reaction to the Susan Bolton Decision

US Judge Susan Bolton has banned Arizona from enforcing Federal immigration law, and in doing so, has abrogated the general police power of the state.  More importantly, she has chosen to use the status of legal aliens as the anvil on which to smash Arizona's initiative:
Requiring Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who is arrested burdens lawfully-present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked.
I am sorry she had to do that.  Until now, I had been opposed to the early cancellation of any person's visa being part of a policy to reduce immigration.  As of now, I support immediate cancellation of all immigrant visas for citizens of any country whose leaders have spoken against US immigration statute or the enforcement thereof.

Friday, July 23, 2010

We Had a Ball

Following the tradition of obscure righty bloggers posting on music, started by Tribe of Ice and Flyover Libertarian, I have my own two bits to toss in, specifically on the topic of dance.  I dimly recollected the comment thread on Steve Sailer's review of Hairpsray, and it got me to thinking about concerts and dance clubs I've been to, and the complete impossibility of conversation in them.  This is not necessarily a bad thing - conversation isn't appropriate at the movies or the theater.

The difference is, you're not supposed to meet people at the movies or the theater.  Today's dance clubs, with their overpowering volumes, are still theoretically social venues.  Compare this to the 18th Century social dance - also music-oriented, also social, frequented by people of the same age groups.  The most important similarity is that both dance venues are particularly interesting to single people who want to meet other people - yet with no conversation, you can't learn anything about your partner(s) except stamina and body type.

That is rather the point, of course.  Toleration and encouragement of promiscuity lead to a different style of dance.  Rock, hip-hop, and techno invite us to judge dancers on the body they were born into and/or how often they work out.  Add in freaking, and dancers can be judged on their willingness to act out specific, unmetaphorical sex acts in public.  To "hip" (sex-crazed) young people, completely uninterested in starting either platonic friendships or stable families, old-fashioned balls seem laughably stodgy and prudish.  

Of course, they were anything but.  Anyone doubting this should watch a decent Jane Austen adaptation.  (I'm thinking in particular of the BBC's Pride and Prejudice, with Colin Firth and the unforgettable Jennifer Ehle.)  Wit flowed freely; a distaste for boring conversation is surely as old as speech itself.  What I think might be easy to overlook is how important the structure of the dances was.  A couple could converse, but would never be completely out of earshot.  Tawdry or profane conversation would bring a swift reaction from any number of scandalized gentry, but with sufficient subtlety, almost any idea could be put across to one's partner, because the couple would not be in hearing distance of any single person for long.

In other words, the ball was an explicitly social gathering in which young women would be completely secure against the advances of rakish young men, yet also have the opportunity to evaluate their prospective husbands on several extremely important criteria.  By observing a young man's adherence to the dance steps, she could evaluate if he had the ability and inclination to follow rules.  By listening to him converse, she could tell if he was an absolutist about rules and propriety (i.e., a complete bore), or if he was willing to liven things up by cleverly tweaking the nose of authority from time to time - a moderately brave act with several sets of parents, maiden aunts, dowagers, and grouchy grandfathers watching.  

A man who could dance a long time showed that he had stamina.  A man with strong hands and a brutish habit of shoving his partner would be as disfavored as a man with no strength.  A budding alcoholic who reeked of drink and staggered across the floor would mortify his partner - better to dance with someone who drank in moderation.  

Naturally,  young man would be evaluating his prospective wives as well.  We are continuously told that men are shallow, evaluating women as if they were various cuts of meat.  Yet at our 18th Century social dance, evaluating a woman on her looks alone was an obvious recipe for unhappiness.  Premarital sex carried the risk of social stigma and, in some periods, death on the sword of angry father or brother.  Moreover, divorce was generally unacceptable, so marrying a shrew was basically a life sentence of marital strife.  These facts were clear to young people of all but the lowest social classes.

The important thing, though, is that a meat-market gaze would tell you very little about the women at an 18th Century dance.  A woman's face would be visible, and her upper chest in some fashions, but the laundry list of details harped on by contemporary women's magazines would be largely invisible.  Toned abs!  Pish posh.  Cellulite!  What's that?  The twin fears that drive so many of our young women to despondence - that a young man will value her for sex and nothing more, or conversely, that young men will sum up her flaws and find her "not hot enough" - were completely absent from the 18th Century dance.  

A girl's chances of marriage would ride partly on the prettiness of her face.  This is the sort of superficial yet intractable feature which makes life seem so heartbreakingly unfair to teenagers.  In every other way, though, the 18th Century dance seems tremendously fair.  A morbidly obese woman would be harshly judged, but in a way that is fair because obese women have trouble carrying pregnancies to term. A man was respected, not considered "egotistical", for wanting children, and his desire for a wife that could bear children was honored.  Similarly, it would be hard to disguise a disfiguring disease of the sort that would render a woman barren or a man unfit to provide for his children.  Minor blemishes, on the other hand, would be gracefully hidden by the dim candlelight.  

Anyone who set their mind to it could learn enough grace and manners to be a passable dance partner and guest.  It is inconceivable that someone be excluded from one of these gatherings because of being a "dork" or not being "cool".  What could not be faked, at least not for an extended period, was wit, charm, and attentiveness - the raw materials of compatibility, and eventually love.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Immigration Politics: Handling the Details

Immigration is the single biggest issue facing the US right now.  Reducing immigration needs to become the top priority of everyone not mentally wedded to the left.  Increasing numbers of moderates, reactionaries, and conservatives agree on this point.  Beyond that, many things are still in question.  Do we seek a reduction in immigration in general, or just better enforcement to reduce illegal immigration?

Assuming (hopefully) that it is the former, are we shooting for a measured reduction in immigration, or a total moratorium?  

When talking about reducing legal immigration, are we talking merely about reducing or abolishing immigrant visa programs (i.e., reducing future legal immigration) or are we talking about canceling term-limited visas early (i.e., sending resident aliens home)?  (I'm leaving non-immigrant visas out of this as non-germane; it is legitimate, though off-topic, for conservatives to want to reduce the numbers of tourists, foreign students, etc.)

We don't all need to agree on these questions.  In fact, it may be better if we don't (assuming we won't spend too much energy excoriating each other or, worse yet, "reading each other out").  The reason is, if a small group, vocally but politely, advocates the cancel-visas-and-send-them-home position, everyone who wants to honor those visas until the end of their lives, while reducing or stopping new visas, looks moderate by comparison.  (Incidentally, that is my position:  Honor all extant visas unless they would be canceled under old policies, e.g. for criminal activity.  Abolish or suspend all programs issuing new visas.)

Once we have charted a broad course for reduction of immigration, we can argue about the details.  Don't ask your conservative friends if they want to reduce immigration.  Give them more credit than that!  Instead ask them if they prefer a reduction or a moratorium.  Ask them if there are any visa programs they would continue, or if perhaps there are any types of visas they would pull retroactively.

Cooperating with other conservatives goes way beyond basic respect for your neighbors.  I respect every Jewish, Christian, and polytheist religionist.  They may have deep religious reasons to tolerate or even advocate open borders.  I advise you to respect that, but don't mistake anyone who is happy with mass immigration for a conservative.  

Bottom Line:  Legitimize and normalize restrictionism, with everything you say and write.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fractured Gentlemen

I was thinking about Roissy in DC and Agnostic Gloam the other day.  I haven't been to their blogs in a while, because reading pickup artist stuff always makes me uncomfortable.  When rightists defend the PUAs I think they generally do a better job than the PUAs do defending themselves.  Roissy's conviction that he is going to copulate feminism out of existence seems arrogant and implausible.  In contrast, the various reactionaries, paleocons, immigration restrictionists who say he's onto something may be onto something.

Not onto something about chasing women, so much as ... onto something about what ingredients there are in the pickup artist's approach to life that are valid.  (I'm not going to call PUAs "alphas".  I don't endorse Roissy's peculiar use of "alpha" and "beta".  An alpha is a male who has lots of children.  As far as we know, Roissy has none.)  I'll refer to that mass of lonely, usually awkward males as "the downtrodden".

A gentleman laughs off the "negs" (unprovoked put-downs) thrown by women.  It would not be gentle to respond in kind, nor would it be manly to allow one's feathers to be ruffled.  The downtrodden carry the reminders of every glove that lays them down (with apologies to Simon & Garfunkel).  The PUAs win this round; they discipline themselves to roll with the punches (as well as honing their own razor tongues).

A gentleman respects the feelings of his friends.  (The word for someone who does not is "cad', and it is a grave insult.)  Still, the gentleman coddles no one over the age of five and has little patience with weaklings.  This round is clearly a draw.  Downtrodden men tiptoe around everyone, while PUAs enjoy running roughshod.

A gentleman enjoys the company of women.  This of course is facilitated by the lighthearted spirit of play that pervades his social encounters with the opposite sex.  The irony is that of the two modern archetypes, the downtrodden has every reason to eschew the company of women, since it can be so painful to his delicate feelings.  His opposite, on the other hand, should have every reason to enjoy coed socializing - yet he seems to see it mainly as a means to arrange those encounters where there is little talking and (at least traditionally) only one woman.  So in spite of their feelings, on the question of actually seeking female friendship, the downtrodden win the round.

A gentleman doesn't shrink from a fight.  Likewise, Roissy gives "market value" points to any man who has been so angry that he fought and wanted to kill someone (unless it is a woman; on that Roissy and the gentleman of yesteryear are in perfect agreement).  The downtrodden, by definition, avoid conflict and run for cover.  Sorry guys, the more you shrink and try to be invisible, the more noticeable it is.

A gentleman has a healthy interest in gentlemanly pursuits.  This is a tautology, but I include it because it is important to list and categorize these pursuits.  Gentlemanly interests include "mechanicals" (we'll update that to science, guns, and automobiles), "the arts" (meaning approximately what they do today, with more emphasis on poetry and literature), "sport" (basically hunting, fishing, and ball sports), the "good life" (tasty food and drink, among others), and "civic life" (everything not government, military, or religious is civic, but the gentleman was a real joiner, as well as a talker and a listener).  Family, religion, and work round out the list.  

The PUAs and the downtrodden divide up this list.  The PUAs are more interested in cars, sports, and social drinking.  The downtrodden are more interested in science, weaponry (though not hunting, which is a rural everyman's pursuit), various nerdy clubs, religion, and their jobs.  Both groups like movies and food in about equal measure; while poetry and family seem to have gone out of style for everyone.  One the balance, I'd say the downtrodden win the purse here, if only because they have a greater variety of interests and are more likely to seem truly interested in their interests, while PUAs reek faintly of treating everything as a vehicle in which to chase skirts.  

What it all adds up to, for me, is the unmistakable impression that the ideal gentleman has cracked in the middle and split clean in half.  I'll grant that this is based on my experience alone.  (If you haven't spent hours in basements with nerds talking alternately about guided missiles and how hard it is to meet interesting women, my combination may seem implausible.)  If a Victorian gentleman fell out of a timewarp, I can't help thinking he'd despise all of the nerds he met, thoroughly enjoy discoursing with nerds in writing (at least if they didn't write about computers), and have a fine time clubbing with Roissy until he was forced to knock the latter's block off on the grounds of incorrigible rakishness.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Against Misogyny

Andrew Yeoman wrote a pessimistic but thought-provoking article for Alternative Right that's been much linked to.  (Hat tip to Tribe of Ice, who has linked not just to Yeoman but to three more upbeat posts on his blog.)

His sixth of eight points on Why We Will Lose reads:
Kryptonite to Women -- Okay, maybe what we're doing isn't kryptonite to all women, but many women won't associate with our ideas. Why is this important?  Because it leaves half our people out of the struggle. The women that do stick around have to deal with a constant litany of abuse and frequent courtship invitations from unwanted suitors.  Beyond the often-restated tropes about crime against woman, nothing says "you are not important to us" than sexualizing women in the movement. Don't tell me that's not an issue.  I've seen it happen in all kinds of radical circles, and ours is the worst for it. With our woman folk that contribute to the cause, be encouraging and helpful and not discouraging and unhelpful.  We need women's help, now more than ever.
This is a very good point.  It is one that has been burning in the back of my mind for a while.  There needs to be outreach to women by the pro-white conservative and reactionary movement.  For now we are mostly male.

In a way this makes sense.  White and Asian males are victims of affirmative action; females of these groups can either be beneficiaries or victims.  So there is one less grievance spurring females to action.  On the other hand, some of the worst interracial atrocities hit white women (and presumably Asian women, though I haven't seen direct evidence of this) in the form of over 10,000 rapes per year, as well as assorted beatings (hat tip: Dennis Mangan).

Women need to know that there are white men still alive who want to protect them, not through either "knight errantry" of either the martyr or vigilante variety, but through disciplined political action.  Crime is of paramount importance, of course, but cultural decay, enforced multilingualism, falling educational standards, and emergency rooms crowded with non-contributors are also important issues.

Some of alt-rightists rail against woman suffrage.  I am very skeptical of claims by some that the downfall of limited government and traditional republicanism can be blamed on female voters.  I am not a feminist, unless you can be an ultraconservative neo-McCarthyist feminist, which I highly doubt.  Contra the critics of woman suffrage, it is clear that the central problem of political rights is not the removal of gender qualification in 1920, but the removal of property qualifications in the early 19th Century.

I don't activate a return to the era in which owning real property was a qualification for voting.  What matters is that only net taxpayers be allowed to vote.  Owning land is a sign that someone is paying taxes, but not necessarily net taxes; furthermore, there are many taxes other than property taxes.  Incidentally, my proposal would also satisfy John Derbyshire's call to Disenfranchise the Public Sector, as well as disenfranchising welfare recipients and military contractors (though not actual military personnel, who contribute enough by putting their lives on the line).

Difficult as this would be to put into a constitutional amendment, it would be considerably easier than disenfranchising women, which I consider nigh impossible.  But beyond that, I ask you conservatives and reactionaries: Who would you rather disenfranchise - your mother and the love of your life, or a homeless man and a Federal bureaucrat?

Monday, July 5, 2010

How to Think Like a Conservative

Imagine that you are an absolute dictator and that you have an undying affection for a group of people you know to be incurably sadistic.  They simply love to harm each other, but at the same time they are not usually masochistic.  It hurts you to see them suffer, but you cannot change their basic nature.  Nor are you immortal.  You do notice, however, that in addition to loving to bedevil each other, these people have a certain respect for and understanding of tradition and family, and prefer to inflict their sadism on people as different from them as possible.

What traditions do you instill in them during your lifetime as absolute ruler?  What institutions do you create?

When you are thinking like this you are thinking like a conservative.  That there are different answers to these questions only confirms that there are different types of conservative.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Orwell on Koestler

I recently finished Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon.  It was a striking book, and as many have pointed out it is an excellent insight into the twisted mind of the communist.  What struck me most was a product of my ignorance; I believed when I read the book that it had been written at approximately the same time as Nineteen Eighty-Four, and that Koestler and Orwell were merely "on the same wavelength", due probably to similar experiences in the Spanish Civil War.

Not so.  The influences of Koestler upon Orwell are obvious if you keep the relative publication dates in mind - 1940 for Darkness at Noon (with author's notes dating to 1938); 1949 for Nineteen Eighty-Four.  In his essay, Orwell makes them more plain.  Orwell's book reviewing style proves more than anything else that he is a man born to write.  He gracefully reveals his own philosophy in every paragraph in a manner which never detracts from the topic at hand.  And of course he is the master of the British-style understatement:

We forget these things now, but a quarter of a century ago it was confidently expected that the Russian Revolution would lead to Utopia. Obviously this has not happened.

The most important part of the essay is the passage near the end starting with "To take a rational political decision one must have a picture of the future...."  These three paragraphs lay bare the central problem of 20th Century politics.  It is breathtaking that so much could be said in so few words.

I recommend the essay to everyone interested in either writer (and I recommend that everyone become interested in both writers).