Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Fewtril no.254

One very important component of an ideology’s defence-mechanism is the claim that all thinking stems from an ideology of some sort, and thus the choice is not between ideology and something else, but rather between competing ideologies.

Fewtril no.253

Injustice is always keenly felt, especially when feigned.

Fewtril no.252

The easiest and most common way of setting oneself apart from commonality is to set oneself apart from commonsense.

Fewtril no.251

One can always find some points of agreement with one’s enemies. I, for instance, agree with liberals in believing that liberalism is really not worth defending.

Uses of the Word “Real”

Real people – the vulgar; Real world – where the vulgar live; Real women – fat ones.

Old Abilities

In speaking of the part played by anatomically modern humans in the demise of the Neanderthals, Adam Rutherford is careful not to place modern thinking in a causal role: “to invoke genocide suggests some sort of intentionality and strategic planning for which we simply have no evidence.” He is not so careful in this sentence: “It’s well established that [Neanderthals] ritually buried their dead, made tools and explored from the westernmost tip of Europe, well into Asia.” [1] The geographical spread of Neanderthals is no evidence for exploration, which is for the purpose of discovery. Nevertheless I should think they were capable of curiosity, and of many other attitudes besides, perhaps even of pedantry.

[1] Adam Rutherford, “Long-lost Cousins”, Comment is Free (The Guardian’s weblog), 12th August 2008.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Strange Mirage

There’s . . . that strange phenomenon where every generation thinks that the next one’s standards are fatally declining.” [1]

He who talks of this strange phenomenon needn’t have given much thought to its existence; he requires only short-sightedness and pig-ignorance in the service of progressive whiggery to believe in it, helped by the democratic habit of reaffirming an opinion heard a thousand times. He cannot be accused of having surveyed the prevailing opinions of men in all generations throughout history; even if he could, he would not be bothered to extend his thoughts so far, and besides, he would be bothered thereby to find his claim falsified. Rather he observes in recent generations the opinion expressed that standards are declining, and he perhaps knows of a few examples of such an opinion uttered in the ancient world, wherefrom he comes to the conclusion that it has been the prevailing opinion in every generation of man, and that he should therefore pay it no heed.
.....It simply does not occur to him that standards of many kinds
are declining; and that these standards have been declining for a long time, and that the process has been noticed. If he is himself an enthusiastic part of the decline, he will not see his own presence and that of his fellows as a decline, but rather as a progress; after all, it is his generation and its low standards with which he identifies that are triumphing. Effectively he banishes from thought any consideration of the possibility of decline, and vows not to sit in judgement upon the next generation, which he will allow to decline further.
.....Yet, in dreaming up his strange phenomenon, he was
almost right: in periods of change there have been men of historical consciousness who have had the capacity to express regret for what has already passed, which is in part a recognition of the transitoriness of the world, and who have feared also the loss of whatever they themselves have inherited, urgently seeking to secure its preservation in the next generation. Modernism is the predominance of another kind of man, who is more like a machine-part in a process: a man who says good riddance to all past things, and who tolerates every kind of degradation for the future too. He is the most shallow and complacent creature ever to walk on two legs, and I include pigeons.
.....All those German pessimists were right: the dullness of progressive optimism would one day be such that so few people would be able to recognize their own degraded state, but rather would even congratulate themselves for it.

[1] “Labourpartysuicide”, commenting on Mark Lawson, “That golden age? It never happened, except in the minds of pessimists”, Comment is Free (The Guardian’s weblog), 1st August 2008.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Deep-Rooted Weeds

“As much as legislators and founders of states ought to be honoured and respected among men, as much ought the founders of sects and factions to be detested and hated; because the influence of faction is directly contrary to that of laws. Factions subvert government, render laws impotent, and beget the fiercest animosities among men of the same nation, who ought to give mutual assistance and protection to each other. And what should render the founders of parties more odious is, the difficulty of extirpating these weeds, when once they have taken root in any state. They naturally propagate themselves for many centuries, and seldom end but by the total dissolution of that government, in which they are sown. They are, besides, plants which grow most plentifully in the richest soil; and though absolute governments be not wholly free from them, it must be confessed, that they rise more easily, and propagate themselves faster in free governments, where they always infect the legislature itself, which alone could be able, by the steady application of rewards and punishments, to eradicate them.”

David Hume, “Of Parties in General”, Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary, ed., E.F. Miller, (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1987), I.VIII.2, online at The Library of Economics and Liberty.

A Rotter

The progressive has acquired the propensity to see as extreme the mildest deviations from his extremism. His ideological inheritance has come through generations each of which has taken a step further from the tap-root of sense and temperance, each confidently amplifying initial errors, with no humility before reality as a corrective, such that now, with a thoughtless-instinctive rage, our progressive is inclined to rail against words and things that would have barely raised the eyebrows even of his ideological forebears. The fewer the traces he finds of that which he has characterised as the most hateful and evil thing, the easy opposition to which is the gross flattery he pays to his own goodness, the more he is determined to see it hidden in everything. His self-flattery becomes ever finer, ever more insane, and ever more at odds with what he is: a rotter.

Fewtril no.250

It might not have occurred to the aristocrats of former days to think that their liberalism would lead to a day such as ours when people not only have the right to sneer at aristocrats but are largely of the opinion that it is their liberal duty to do so.

Monday, 28 July 2008

On the Loose

The whole of society is on the loose again. It left its tracks in a newspaper this morning:

If we are to tackle obesity properly, the whole of society must become involved in the solution. [1]

If I ever find out where it lives, I shall have it bound and gagged and transported to the remotest corner of the earth, perhaps even have it buried under twelve feet of concrete — a fittingly absurd end to so dangerous and misconceived a creature.

[1] Tagline of Neville Rigby’s “Weight of the Nation”, Comment is Free (The Guardian’s weblog), 27th July 2008.

Friday, 25 July 2008

For Parochialism

Present folly seeks the unity of nations and not the creation of a single man from the entire species, so be it; but in acquiring general capabilities, will not a whole set of private sentiments perish? Farewell the tenderness of the fireside; farewell delight in family; among all the beings white, yellow or black, claimed as your compatriots, you will be unable to throw yourself on a brother’s breast. Was there nothing in that life of other days, nothing in that narrow space you gazed at from your ivy-framed window? Beyond your horizon you suspected unknown countries of which the bird of passage, the only voyager you saw in autumn, barely told you. It was happiness to think that the hills enclosing you would not vanish before your eyes; that they would surround your loves and friendships; that the sighing of night around your sanctuary would be the only sound to accompany your sleep; that the solitude of your soul would never be troubled, that you would always find your thoughts there, waiting for you, to take up again their familiar conversation. You knew where you were born; you knew where your grave would be; penetrating the forests you could say:

Fair trees that once saw my beginning,
Soon you will witness my end

Man has no need to travel to become greater; he bears immensity within. The accents escaping from your breast are immeasurable and find an echo in thousands of other souls: those who lack the melody within themselves will demand it of the universe in vain. Sit on the trunk of a fallen tree in the depths of the woods; if in profound forgetfulness of yourself, in immobility, in silence, you fail to find the infinite, it is useless to wander the shores of the Ganges seeking it.”

François de Chateaubriand, Mémoires d’Outre-tombe, tr. A.S. Kline, Bk.XLII:14:1, published online by A.S. Kline.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Auflösung einer Gesellschaft

“Unfortunately all too often my experience with our elites is that they seem to have simply no more interest in the preservation of Germany. On the contrary, one gets the impression that the dissolving of our nation into a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society, and our state into a supranational structure, cannot happen quickly enough.”

[“Ich erlebe bei unseren Eliten leider nur allzu oft, daß sie schlicht kein Interesse mehr an der Bewahrung Deutschlands zu haben scheinen. Dagegen gewinnt man den Eindruck, daß es ihnen gar nicht schnell genug gehen kann, unser Volk in einer multikulturellen und multiethnischen Gesellschaft und unseren Staat in überstaatlichen Strukturen aufzulösen.”]

Ferdinand Fürst von Bismarck, interview with Moritz Schwarz, “Deutschland driftet nach Links”, Junge Freiheit, 2nd July 2008.

A Plea

All good men should join with the liberals and the socialists and the bourgeois hand-wringers of this land in deploring the use of the word “chav”. It is an ugly word. “Scum” is much better.

Fewtril no.249

Almost everyone is now agreed that education is the best solution to the problem of people having opinions that differ from his own.

Fewtril no.248

It is not so much the man of honour who lacks imagination as the man who cannot imagine why anyone would fight for the sake of it.