Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Taking Care of Your Own

Take care of your people, get some of them fed
Hide the ones in trouble out under your bed


— Robert Hunter, from “One Thing to Try”

L’Arc de Triomphe

When I was young, my father drummed into me some of the basic principles that he hoped would guide me through the coming minefield of adulthood:

Balance your checkbook.

Shake hands with a man, but not with a woman unless she offers her hand first.

Never drive more than ten miles an hour over the speed limit.

Don’t put yourself in a position where you owe your friends money.


And, most important of all:

Take care of your own.

I understood that last one to mean that I had a responsibility to my kin and to those I cared about. Feed them, clothe them, house them, lend without hope of return, and maybe even bail them out of the slammer. The exact parameters of “taking care” were never specified — there are limits to what you are expected to do for your own, after all — but a lot is required of you.

They’re your people, and you take care of them.

And who, exactly, are “your own”?

Wife, children, mother, father, sisters, brothers — those are obvious. Grandparents, grandchildren. Maybe also uncles, aunts, first cousins, and your closest friends. Your next-door neighbor, provided he’s not a deadbeat.

Is that it, or are there more people that you have to take care of?

After I grew up and my thinking capacity matured a little, I worked out a hierarchy of caring, in the form of a series of concentric circles.

Relationships of obligation

At the center of all the circles is the one you care most about — yourself. Next comes the nuclear family, then the extended family, then the clan, then the tribe, and then the nation. Beyond the nation are the whole human race, other species, and finally the cosmos at large.

You could call these “relationships of obligation”, and your obligations form a declining gradient as they move outwards. The extended family demands less of an obligation than the nuclear family, the nation less than the tribe. Your obligation to other species is to use them as food or raw materials. To the cosmos at large you have no obligation at all.

These priorities are based in instinct, and until very recently they were reinforced by cultural practices that developed over millennia of human interaction. There’s an obvious evolutionary advantage to the arrangement — your DNA has a lot more interest in taking care of its own alleles than worrying about totally alien genes.

But the intellectual fads of the last half-century have required us to care as much about children in Bangladesh as we do our about own offspring. A landslide in Paraguay must elicit from us the same emotional response as does our teenager when he totals the family car. The unwanted pregnancy of a slum dweller in Passaic demands as much attention as that of our middle-schooler.

Why?

Why should the tribulations of distant strangers be as important as those of people near and dear to us? What requires us to care about the sufferings of faraway people whom we will never meet?

The answer is obvious: Nothing.

Neither evolutionary biology, nor tradition, nor common sense would dictate any concern for distant peoples with whom we share neither kinship, language, nor customs.

The imperative to empathize with distant alien peoples is an artifact of our times, a product of the strange and inverted moral structure that has emerged out of the wreckage of the twentieth century.
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You’ll notice that in my introduction above I left out any mention of God or religion. That was for two reasons.

Firstly, I respect the sensibilities of secularists and atheists among our readers, so the argument in favor of “taking care of your own” was made without reference to a Higher Power.

Secondly, an argument from a Christian perspective would run into objections based on New Testament scripture, and I prefer to deal with those separately.

So let’s consider the biblical justifications “Christian” multiculturalists use to support their positions. I’ll pick the most likely candidates.

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:31)

Notice that Christ was asking us to love our neighbors. In the original context, this meant His fellow Jews — not the Greeks, nor the Romans, nor the fishermen of Lampedusa. Your neighbor, the fellow who lives over the hill from you, is the one you are required to love and watch out for. You are not responsible for the well-being of the residents of Aquitania or Cappadocia.

The modern Multiculturalist circumvents this difficulty by inventing a “global village” for us to take care of. But that wasn’t what Christ had in mind.

But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. (Matthew 5:39)

This refers only to insults. Christ was not exhorting the faithful to bare their necks to those who would kill them.

Not only that, in its original Jewish context, the turning of the left cheek to one’s adversary was in itself an insult, since the left side was considered evil or unclean. As an equivalent insult, waving to a modern Arab with your left hand is roughly analogous.

But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:27-28)

This is probably the strongest scriptural support for modern pacifism and multilateralism. But you’ll notice that the passage is more about the believer’s internal state than it is about action in the world. It’s not a call for surrender or submission, but a call to love even those who are the most unlovable.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:14)

The key word here is “friends”. Of course, if you buy into the modern Multicultural myth, the whole world is a village and everyone is your friend.

For a change of pace, let’s consider a few passages demonstrating that Christ was not an absolute pacifist.

But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. (Luke 12:39)

Jesus expected that a householder would be watchful and not allow his house to be broken into. How could he do that if turned the other cheek to the burglar?

When the strong man, fully armed, guards his courtyard, his property is undisturbed. (Luke 11:21)

Once again, Christ expected the householder to be armed and ready to defend his premises.

But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you do not have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. (Luke 22:36)

Jesus was instructing His disciples to carry a sword with them. What did He expect them to do with it? Cut the bread for their evening meal?

No, like anyone else of His time, Christ expected that a prudent man would be armed and ready to defend himself.

The reason why Jesus never specifically dealt with self-defense and protecting one’s family is that such matters would have been part of the common culture and hardly in need of discussion. No one needed the sanction of Messiah to protect his wife and family. That was a given.

But let’s imagine, just for the sake of argument, that a not-so-bright disciple asked Jesus this question: Lord, is it right for one who believes in You to use force to defend himself and his family against those who would do them harm?

What do you think Jesus would have said?

I’m guessing that the answer would have run something like this: I tell you truly, no one who fails to take care of his own people may enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The Father has given him a precious gift in his wife and children; if he cannot be trusted to protect them, how may he be trusted with the much more precious gift of eternal life?

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Christianity managed to flourish for almost two thousand years in a multiplicity of cultures without entertaining the theological perversion known as Multiculturalism.

However, we have fallen into grievous times, and nowadays the leaders of mainstream Protestant denominations — not to mention the Archbishop of Canterbury — tell us that our Christian faith requires us never to use force to defend ourselves, our families, our homes, our communities, and our nations, and that we are evil and somehow racist if we do so.

Violence is deemed immoral in all circumstances, so that when a belief system that has no such compunctions appears on the horizon, good Christians are enjoined to lie down and let the barbarians roll over them. The shades of dozens of popes, millions of the faithful, and valiant martial Christians such as Charles Martel and Jan III Sobieski must be recoiling in horror at the actions of their spiritual heirs.

So what brought us to this sorry pass?

Part of the problem obviously arises from the combined collective shame of the Holocaust and the historical enslavement of black Africans. We live in a post-Christian age, and there is no secular sacrament through which we might confess and receive absolution. In order to purge the stain of these sins from our non-existent souls, we must forever renounce anything that smacks of “racism”. But the guilt persists, and the scope of the sin continues to grow, until we reach the point that taking care of our own becomes a racist act.

Caring for one’s own people and culture is thus proscribed, leaving collective self-annihilation as the only logical endpoint to this postmodern morality tale.

The process is made worse by the degraded state of modern intellectual culture. The last two or three generations have seen a coarsening of education and a steady erosion of the ability to think logically. On highly-charged topics such as racism, debate is deeply irrational, and the issues can only be reacted to, not analyzed. All stances on contentious subjects must needs be emotional, and the more emotional your responses, the more proof that you are morally correct in your position.

It doesn’t matter that the end result violates instinct, traditional ethics, prudence, and simple common sense. The pristine purity of one’s moral stance, as validated by the group, is all that counts.

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So what is to be done?

How can any of us overcome the entrenched social attitudes that suck all arguments into the black hole of “racism”?

As an old hippie, my natural tendency is to resort to gonzo scripture and quote Ken Kesey:

You’re playing their game…. There’s only one thing to do…. and that’s everybody just look at it… and turn your back and say… “f**k it.”

In other words, the racism gig is only effective if you buy into it. If you refuse the assignment — if you deny the validity of the conceptual framework behind the accusation — then you can see it for the phantasm that it truly is, and it will disappear.

This could be considered cutting the Gordian knot, except that the racism charge is much flimsier than a rope. It’s gossamer, a mere cobweb in front of your face.

Brush it away, and what do you see?

Well, first of all, you’ll notice that racism is a normal aspect of human nature, and that everyone possesses it to some degree or other, whether they acknowledge it or not. It is an instinctual condition, built into our psyches by millions of years of evolution. Like many other instinctual drives — aggression, sexual desire, greed for the possessions of others, etc. — it needs to be kept under control. But there’s nothing inherently wrong with it.

Aggression, when channeled properly, allows human communities to be strong, self-contained, and well-defended.

Sexual desire forms the basis for the most successful institution in human history, the nuclear family.

Sublimated greed becomes a drive for achievement and status, and helps improve the general welfare of the entire community.

Each of these impulses can be destructive, but when humans are socialized properly, instinctual drives become subordinate to the will of the individual, and to the common good.

And so it is with racism. When completely socialized, the instinct that manifests itself in “racism” is transformed into taking care of your own.

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To take care of your own obviously implies a dedication to those people who are genetically most closely related to you. But, as anyone who has ever adopted a child from a different racial background can attest, the instinct to protect your own people is flexible, and is not solely determined by race or bloodline.

This was brought home to me a by an incident that occurred a number of years ago when I was working in the Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy, a.k.a. Northern Virginia.

Arlington, Fairfax, Springfield, and Alexandria are among the most Multicultural municipalities in the country. They are host to Vietnamese, Iranians, Hondurans, Somalis, Koreans, Nigerians, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Mexicans, Afghans, Filipinos, and many other ethnicities that I can’t recall. Since the days of my youth the area has changed so radically that you can walk through virtually any strip mall and rarely encounter a native English speaker.

One night I was standing in a checkout line in Magruder’s (an upscale supermarket), and feeling very homesick for the backwoods of Central Virginia, because I was constantly surrounded by foreigners. When the man in front of me reached the cashier — a Korean woman — I noticed that he wore a military uniform.

Then when he spoke, it turned out that — thank God! — he was an American. I wanted to embrace him and thank him for rescuing me from the slough of Multicultural despond.

But it didn’t occur to me until I was walking out of the store a few minutes later that the soldier was black.

The definition of “your own” is an elastic one, and race isn’t always the deciding factor.

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Once you have accepted the heretical notion that there is nothing inherently wrong with the impulse behind racism, several other categories of crime must be considered in a different light.

1. Nepotism. The tendency of public officials to offer members of their extended family positions in government becomes completely understandable. This in no way vitiates official vigilance against nepotism — in fact, it would urge a strengthening of safeguards, since the impulse to nepotism is now seen as a universal human trait, and therefore to be expected.
2. Corruption. Although official corruption is sometimes driven solely by pecuniary gain, more often than not it is motivated by taking care of one’s friends. Once again, the motive for such crimes becomes understandable and normal, even though prudence requires legal sanctions against its manifestations.
3. Residential segregation. Sociological studies indicate that people of all races will naturally tend to form neighborhoods and communities that are ethnically homogeneous. This, too, can be seen as normal, and not as an injustice that has to be “corrected”.

I invite readers to discover other activities that are reviled and put beyond the pale by Multicultural orthodoxy, but which become normal and acceptable — even if civic prudence demands that we guard against them — when viewed in this light.

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When you brush the cobwebs of “racism” from your eyes, you’ll notice that only white people can be racists. Arabs, Africans, Asians, American Indians, and Australian Aboriginals are never racists. There is even a theoretical framework — Critical Race Theory — which codifies this assertion. According to this Marxist dogma, only groups that are privileged within the traditional power structure can be racist; hence “brown” people are exempt from all stigma in this respect.

Common sense tells us otherwise. Anybody in the South who lives in a mixed racial community — as most of us do — is aware of racism against whites by black people. I have personally been subjected to racial antagonism and insults on the part of some of my black neighbors. But other neighbors are friends and treat us normally — like white people, they are a mixed bag when it comes to racial attitudes.

Yet black racism is rarely publicly acknowledged, especially by whites. Judging by the MSM, it doesn’t exist. The only people who discuss it are right-wing extremists and dyed-in-the-wool racists like me.

If you want proof of the strength of racial solidarity among American blacks, consider the reaction of black conservatives to the candidacy of Barack Hussein Obama. Armstrong Williams is a prominent American conservative who happens to be black. To give you an idea of his conservative credentials, he sometimes fills in on the radio for Rush Limbaugh when the latter is on vacation.

So there’s no way that Mr. Williams would support Barack Obama for President of the United States, right?

Think again:

Black conservative talk show host Armstrong Williams has never voted for a Democrat for president. That could change this year with Barack Obama as the Democratic Party’s nominee.

“I don’t necessarily like his policies; I don’t like much that he advocates, but for the first time in my life, history thrusts me to really seriously think about it,” Williams said. “I can honestly say I have no idea who I’m going to pull that lever for in November. And to me, that’s incredible.”

Just as Obama has touched black Democratic voters, he has engendered conflicting emotions among black Republicans who are far fewer in numbers…

“Among black conservatives,” Williams said, “they tell me privately, it would be very hard to vote against him in November.”

Since Barack Obama’s political positions are obviously repugnant to him, Armstrong Williams is considering voting for the senator solely because of his race.

He’s taking care of his own.

There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a laudable motive.

But when a white person does the same thing, it’s RACISM.

Or fascism. Or Nazism. Or xenophobia. Or any one of a number of other vile ideological positions which polite (i.e. white) society deems beyond the pale.

This is the ideological fever from which we must recover. We need a strong dose of political quinine, so that we may awake cool and lucid, and realize that the raging behemoths we saw in our febrile fantasies are only hallucinations. We have nothing to fear from them.

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OK, the cobwebs are gone. The racist bugbear is vanquished.

Now let’s look around and inventory the damage that a half-century of rampant Multiculturalism has done to the social and political landscape of the West.

Relationships of obligation

You’ll notice that received wisdom condemns the seven innermost relationships of obligation:

  • The self,
  • The nuclear family,
  • The extended family,
  • The clan,
  • The tribe,
  • The nation,
  • And even the human race

Only other species and the cosmos at large merit our solicitude. All concern for the other seven circles — those with whom we share the most kinship — is considered vile, racist, and humanocentic, and must be expunged from our collective psyche.

This is instructive, because the nation is the largest unit to which the instinct for “taking care of your own” is applied. Humans may display some preference for the entire species of homo sapiens, but generally speaking our instinctive preferences stop at the level of the nation, the largest group with whom we share language and cultural practices.

For the last eighty years or so, the mutant variant of Marxism known as Multiculturalism has systematically deconstructed family, tribe, clan, and nation. The entire Gramscian enterprise depends on the eradication of these institutions, and the sins of “racism” and “sexism” were devised to aid in their destruction. When none of them functions any longer, then Western Civilization will have been effectively destroyed, and the construction of the New Soviet Man — or rather, the New Multicultural Sentient Entity — may begin.

This is why it’s important from the point of view of the dominant ideological regime to destroy the impulse to take care of one’s own. If you are taking care of your own — which would accord with your natural instincts and your basic impulses as a member of a family and a community — then you cannot serve the larger cause, which is the supranational State.

Your inclination to serve your family, your community, and your nation — in that order — is not acceptable. That’s why the sin of racism was devised, so that millennia of instinctive behavior and cultural training could be eradicated.

Adolf Hitler and Bull Connor came in very handy for the Marxists who took charge of our political and cultural institutions in the wake of World War Two. The Austrian corporal and the redneck from Dixie helped disarm all the traditional redoubts of the West. Thanks to them, taking care of our own became a thought crime.

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I propose a conscious, pro-active decision to overcome all these decades of indoctrination.

I propose the positive affirmation of “racism” as a natural human instinct which must be socialized and controlled, but which is not inherently evil.

I propose that we proclaim our loyalty to those closest to us: to our local communities, to our provinces and states, and to our nations. These are the entities that we hold dear, that represent what we are, and that have the only legitimate claim to our allegiance.

I propose that we refuse the poisonous taxonomies of the Left that have been foisted upon us for the last four generations. We must recover our traditions, our roots, and our heritage. Each subset of the West has its own distinct identity which it can claim as its birthright, even while recognizing the legitimacy of all the other branches. This is a true celebration of diversity.

I propose a refusal to accept the indignities and abominations that are handed out to us by our cultural betters with the intention of branding us as racists.

I propose that we draw back the drapery and expose the Man Behind the Curtain.

I propose that we take care of our own.

43 comments:

latté island said...

Bravo Baron B., this is great. Just a couple of things, though.

I propose that we proclaim our loyalty to those closest to us: to our local communities, to our provinces and states, and to our nations

What if our local communities and the larger affiliations, even up to the nation, aren't our own anymore? I love my little town, then California, and the U.S., but to be honest, all of those places are based on memory. If I didn't have history, and looked at where I live for the first time, I wouldn't give a rat's ass, it's all foreign. So, that's why I and many others are focusing more on race and ethnicity, because those things still exist.

Also, you deliberately left out animals, and that's your right, but as I see it, animals are part of human culture and we are responsible for them, so even though environmentalists and animal rights activists have morphed into people who seem to be against human rights, this is an illusion, and it's possible to think, like I do, that animals do have rights and decent people include that in one of their circles.

Zenster said...

And who, exactly, are “your own”?

As with your delightful orrery of relationships, kith and kin are a definite first. However, coming from a background which includes some blood relations that are more parasitic than productive, I'd also like to nominate those who are far away. You ask:

Why should the tribulations of distant strangers be as important as those of people near and dear to us? What requires us to care about the sufferings of faraway people whom we will never meet?

The answer is obvious:
Nothing.

Most often it is. Yet, any of use who have had the privilege of traveling this marvelous planet called Earth quite probably have met individuals or families that so embody everything you yourself hold dear that it is almost impossible not to yank back the velvet rope and admit them to your own inner circle of "heart family".

While in Taiwan I met a young couple who, for just a single afternoon, treated me with such courtesy and genuine care that, to this very day, I feel utterly homesick for another visit to Taoyuan so that I could visit again with dear Arthur and Ann.

Back from Saxony in Northeastern Germany for less than a month, I am already yearning for the professionalism, decency and routine politeness that everyone I met there automatically showed. Without the help of Maik or Manfred, my stay would have been miserable by comparison.

There are those of matching philosophy and morals wherever we go that totally deserve our support and caring. Nowhere do I argue that they must come first before blood relations but, as the French are fond of saying:

God gives you your friends
and the devil gives you your family


To be entirely fair, I totally understand the point you are making with your usual clarity. Who among us haven't heard (usually over a plate of unfinished food):

Think about all the starving kids in Asia!

To which I would reply; "Fine, ship them my leftovers."

To complete the point, many of us would be far better off scraping our plate of uneaten food into the dog's dish so that it better protects us at home than worrying ourselves sick over the victims of some hyper-corrupt Third World tyrant.

The continued oxygen theft of Robert Mugabe stands as stark testimony to this notion. The citizens of Zimbabwe should, long ago, have risen up as one and clubbed down all in their path as they marched upon the presidential palace to ensure that that this supreme louse amongst all lice met his most very timely end.

Better that we look after our likeminded own, wherever we may find them, than continue this farce of bleeding ourselves white over people who cannot be bothered to lift themselves out of the proverbial "slough of despond".

For those who doubt this, I give you James Shikwati's "For God’s Sake, Please Stop the Aid" (some excerpts):

Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa's problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn't even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

But it has to be the Kenyans themselves who help these people. When there's a drought in a region of Kenya, our corrupt politicians reflexively cry out for more help. This call then reaches the United Nations World Food Program -- which is a massive agency of apparatchiks who are in the absurd situation of, on the one hand, being dedicated to the fight against hunger while, on the other hand, being faced with unemployment were hunger actually eliminated. It's only natural that they willingly accept the plea for more help. And it's not uncommon that they demand a little more money than the respective African government originally requested. They then forward that request to their headquarters, and before long, several thousands tons of corn are shipped to Africa and at some point, this corn ends up in the harbor of Mombasa. A portion of the corn often goes directly into the hands of unscrupulous politicians who then pass it on to their own tribe to boost their next election campaign. Another portion of the shipment ends up on the black market where the corn is dumped at extremely low prices. Local farmers may as well put down their hoes right away; no one can compete with the UN's World Food Program. And because the farmers go under in the face of this pressure, Kenya would have no reserves to draw on if there actually were a famine next year. It's a simple but fatal cycle.
[emphasis added]

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Baron, you genius! I was trying to work out the mention of the tribe in relation to Islam, as I tend to hear tribalism thrown around a lot as a thing to be avoided. When "tribe" appeared in your hierarchy I went "uh-oh" for a moment, thinking you'd fall into some trap or other.

but then I thought about it. This idea of inversion seems popular at the moment. In your model the hierarchy is a foundational concept, with support for the "self" as the foundation on which every other relationship is based. Each circle is a foundation to support the next if desired.

In Islam (or anything else like it) it's inverted. The self is debased and hostile. Each of the relationships is a list of enemies to be trampled on and used as a ladder to agrandise the self. The self faces off against the nuclear family and uses them as a shield against the extended family, and so on and so forth.

It's like the racism thing, or greed or any other human attribute. Properly harnessed this hierarchy of relationships works for good. Turned inside out it becomes evil.

So, that's my realisation from your fine words.

Darrin said...

"These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near."
Matthew 10 5-7.

Indeed, there is no 13th gate.

James Higham said...

What about a love of humanity in general terms?

watling said...

Very well put, Baron - although I'm not sure if English is strictly speaking the native tongue of Northern Virginia, given that there were no speakers of it there prior to the seventeenth century.

Mass immigration and enforced multiculturalism mean that many people have neighbours from a different nation.

Due to language problems and cultural differences those foreign neighbours aren't necessarily interested in interacting with the indigenous folk next door. Those alien peoples you refer to are living next door but they're no less alien than if they were thousands of miles away in their country of origin.

I lived next door to a Polish family in London. I think we exchanged about five sentences during the four years we were neighbours. Maybe that was my fault, but the vibe I got from them was that they weren't interested in social interaction - perhaps because there was a local Polish community who satisfied their need for companionship. I guess in that sense they were putting their tribe above mine, thus vindicating your theory.

Tribal loyalties do not make harmonious, cohesive communities.

However I had many conversations with a black guy and his wife from Guyana who lived two doors down.

Afonso Henriques said...

"the racism gig is only effective if you buy into it."

Not that simple. The racism gig is effective whenever at least 50% of a group buys into it.

"you’ll notice that racism is a normal aspect of human nature, and that everyone possesses it to some degree or other, whether they acknowledge it or not."

I wouldn't call it "racism" but it is true. For instance, I recently saw an American program named "who wants to be a super hero" where the judge asked the contenders to say who they will like to see expelled.
There was no "racism" evolved what so ever. The curious is that all the people of European descent there said "I think that if there's one to be expelled, it must be me because...". Interestingly, the only two black participants said that they would prefer to see one of the Europeans kicked out. More interesting than that was to see the male black contender, "Tyveculus" saying he thought a white European female should be expelled because... well, he did not presented any coherent answer.

I only imagine if it was the opposite... However there was "no"(?) "racism" involved...

It is a good post though I don't agree with your "circles" to form a society. They are too egocentric and are more directed towards the individual then to the society, that in the good American way.

Also, you talk much about race, but the problem is that I don't know any Traditional mixed race Nation this side of the Atlantic and as such it is a soley American problem. The problem is that you have accepted a multicultural State, America, and I, as European, have not. As a "Nationalist", I would not focus on the individual but on soceity, but that's because I'm not American... maybe I am a fascist also.

Afonso Henriques said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
no2liberals said...

Excellent, thoughtful piece.
I could go through a myriad of relationships I have encountered over the years, and never draw a conclusion contrary to those you have reached.
The first time I heard the "only whites can be racist" explanation, I reacted with...ZAH?
I had encountered racist behavior in about seven different countries, including this one, at that point, and had accepted that some people act on their racism, while others don't. The first person I heard use the Critical Race Theory, was a well known racist politician in this area, John Wiley Price.
I grew up in a small town, with segregated schools, and when desegregation began, most of us were welcoming to our new classmates, but not all. Most of our new classmates accepted their new environment and thrived, while others clearly had a chip on their shoulder. Of course, there is naturally occurring racism, there can be no doubt as to it's presence.
In the military, and in law enforcement, I had many partners of different races. We were brothers, by virtue of our shared responsibilities. We covered each other's "six" in some tense situations, often involving those who would berate my partners as "race traitors" for supporting me. We were all experiencing racism, but only the subject of our actions was animated by it.
I came to adopt the practice, at a young age, to be respectful, courteous and polite, to everyone I meet, but never friendly. I also instinctively develop a plan, to kill everyone I meet. Race is not a factor, only their being a human.
While Jesus offered us a loving and peaceful model for existing, and for being saved, he never abrogated God's law in the Old Testament.
As for the multiculti purveyors, I will turn my other cheek to them, but of the gluteal muscle group.

Baron Bodissey said...

latté island --

What if our local communities and the larger affiliations, even up to the nation, aren't our own anymore?

Then you have had the great misfortune to be conquered by an alien nation. Unfortunately, your own traitorous government colluded in that conquest and kept it hidden from you until the deed was largely done.

Like any person living in a conquered land who is not a slave, your choice is to stay where you are and assimilate to the conquerors, so that they become your own (or at least your children’s own), or to move. You may want to find a community of people that you consider your own, and stay there and fight to prevent a repetition of the same conquest in your new home.

Baron Bodissey said...

Zenster --

Reread what I said:

What requires us to care about the sufferings of faraway people whom we will never meet?

The people you describe are people that you met and came to care about. In some sense they became “your own”. That’s a totally different thing from being required to care about complete strangers.

I have heard well-meaning liberals castigate Americans for staying glued to the TV watching live coverage of the rescue of a little girl trapped in a well in Texas, when a ferryboat full of 400 people drowned in India on the same day. This is nonsense. Of course we care about those who are closer to home! And the closer they are, the more we care.

This is normal and natural and has the Darwinian seal of approval. It’s time we started refusing this absurd guilt trip.

Baron Bodissey said...

James Higham --

What about a love of humanity in general terms?

That is what got us into the modern Multiculti mess in the first place. It’s time to remember our priorities.

To put our houses in order, we need to take care of our own. As an example, take $250 a year out of the money you give to Christian charities, and put it in an interest-bearing acount instead. Then, when your mother becomes too old to care for herself, bring her into your own home and nurse her through her final days, instead of shipping her off to a state-financed nursing home.

That’s real charity at work.

NJArtist said...

@Baron
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:31)

Notice that Christ was asking us to love our neighbors. In the original context, this meant His fellow Jews


Please go to the same quote at Luke 10:27: Christ follows the statement with the parable of the Good Samaritan: He most assuredly did not mean only "His fellow Jews."

NJArtist said...

@Afonso
The problem is that you have accepted a multicultural State, America, and I, as European, have not.
Unfortunately Afonso, you do, as a European, live in a "multicultural State" and there is tension between the "Bloody Hun" and the Italian and the Polish and the French and vica versa; there is tension between the English and the continent: England was not seen as truly European. And, when you were barbarians, The tribe on the other side of the mountains were not human because they worshiped other gods; even when you weren't - whenever - barbarians, those who did not do as the Roman Bishop demanded were not accorded their humanity either.

Baron Bodissey said...

NJArtist --

Please go to the same quote at Luke 10:27: Christ follows the statement with the parable of the Good Samaritan: He most assuredly did not mean only "His fellow Jews."

Point taken. But enjoining the Jews to consider the Samaritans worthy of their charity is not the same as asking them to care about the Greeks, much less the Romans or more distant nations.

Remember that the Samaritans were, in effect, heretical close cousins to the Jews. They were reviled so completely because their beliefs were close to those of Judaism, but not close enough. Remember Christ’s conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well.

The Samaritans were just barely outside of the Judaic circle of caring. Christ was forcing his listeners to examine the nature of that somewhat artificial boundary.

Zenster said...

Baron: The people you describe are people that you met and came to care about. In some sense they became “your own”. That’s a totally different thing from being required to care about complete strangers ...

This is normal and natural and has the Darwinian seal of approval. It’s time we started refusing this absurd guilt trip.


As is so often the case and, as I have already noted, we are in violent, raucous agreement. My only point is that there are many worthy people out in this world who, instead of being strangers, are just friends we haven't met yet.

As to your model being too egocentric, balderdash. Our entire life force extends from ourselves. If we do not nurture our own beings first and foremost, we cripple our ability to help others.

I will share my own interpretation of the Biblical phrase:

"My cup runneth over".

Our bodies are vessels. Of both spiritual light and just plain water. If we give away too much of the energy within that vessel, we deplete our ability to survive and be useful participants in society.

It is far better to nourish oneself until our body's vessel is overflowing with energy that we then cannot help but give away in the service of those we love and care about. Truly, then, our cup doth runneth over.

There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with ego. If you have any doubts, please read Ayn Rand's "Philosophy Who Needs It". One of the principal evils done by Politically Correct and anti-human forces is to have assassinated the character of ego. It is the first step in obliterating the sense of self-worth.

These rotters will tell you, "The only good thing you can do is something for someone else." If you do something for yourself, you are being selfish. What twaddle! How on earth will your cup ever runneth over if you are always doing things for others?

The myth of altruism has done more to kill the human ego than all the mass murderers of history. It is not selfishness that is evil but the far more prevalent sin of self-absorbtion.

The greed and ultra-materialism that plagues our modern world are a direct manifestation of self-absorbtion elevated to near-religious status.

no2liberals said...

In considering the statement of Armstrong Williams, and even of former Congressman J.C. Watts, their thoughts are puzzling.
I was reminded of the words of a Black American journalist, who has written extensively on B-HO in the New Media Journal.
Eric Wright stated in an article in March of this year.

" In Wright’s March 2007 rebuttal, he stated that members of Trinity United Church consider themselves Africans. This means that it is quite likely we may wind up with a president who doesn’t even consider himself an American.

Forget the political Right and Left. Don’t you think that America’s first black president ought to be someone who dearly loves this country and at least respects everyone therein, rather than a closet black militant with a historical perspective that resides in the 1950s, who was mentored by a foul-mouthed, bitter old fool with a historical perspective that resides in the 1930s, hates more than half of all Americans, and calls upon the Almighty to damn America?"




"To declare that "everybody is white" or "everybody is black" or "everybody is neither white nor black, but gray," is not a moral judgment, but an escape from the responsibility of moral judgment."
--Ayn Rand, "How Does One Lead A Rational Life in an Irrational Society," The Virtue of Selfishness.

Ypp said...

The charge of racism is irrational, which does not mean that it has no meaning at all. The meaning can be understood if you replace "white" by "clean". Why do you stay so clean, don't want to do some dirty work of making children? Why are you pretending to be the "white bone"?

If white people stop to pretend to be "reasonable" and start making children, the charge of racism will lose its power. But if not, they will complain all the way until complete disappearance.

Joanne said...

"At the center of all the circles is the one you care most about — yourself."

I beg to differ - there are other people I care more about than myself, such as my children for instance. I think the nucleus should be those people we love more than ourselves, and put ourselves amongst those we love as much as ourselves. For those who love themselves more than another, my deepest sympathies.


"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:31)

This includes all mankind - it doesn't exclude the person from Timbuktu or anywhere else. Christians were to go out unto the Gentiles and teach; they did not go forth with the notion that their love was not to extend to all others.

Certainly, the 12 Tribes of Israel fought their enemies incessantly, it seems, in the Old Testament, but they also lived in harmony with many other nations at times who did not intend them any harm.

Joanne said...

And just a point, 'Jew' is a name given to those of the racial Tribe of Judah, which were only one of the tribes of the twelve Tribes of Israel; people seem to think that Jews from the Tribe of Judah are the only ones remaining out of the twelve Tribes of Israel. If this were to be true, then the Bible and its contents would be rendered untrue.

Jews from the racial Tribe of Judah can be of any religion today, just like people of any race can be of the Jewish religion today.

Abraham said...

Baron-

First, this is brilliant.

Second, some of the sentiments remind me of Objectivism; the concept that helping yourself first will allow you to help those you most value, and your productivity in general will help the greater world more than forcibly taxed welfare ever could.

I think confronting objective reality, no matter how upsetting it is, is the underlying theme of your blog. It's refreshing especially in this very "multicultural" and post-modern election season.

Cobra said...

Baron,
You should write a book.
I didn't read such a good piece of writing in a long while.
Congratulations!

Afonso Henriques said...

Watling said:

"although I'm not sure if English is strictly speaking the native tongue of Northern Virginia, given that there were no speakers of it there prior to the seventeenth century."

Funny, I went check it out and I got to this: North Virginia:
67% white;
14% black
12% asian
7% Amerindian/Hispanic

So I get that 1st) The land does not speak so the land has no native tongue. Then, I found that the area is plus 65% white... the native language of those white people is probabily English thus making English the native language of North Virginia :) just add up the blacks, 14%!

Henrik R Clausen said...

What about a love of humanity in general terms?

This *is* love of humanity, on a practical level.

This is, in contrast with many a totalitarian ideology claiming that purpose, profound and workable.

We can't help humanity at large by seeking an absolute ideology to fix all problems. Those who tried proved it to be a disaster.

One of the best ways is to be a good example to others, and not exploit the claim to 'universal love' for selfish purposes.

Afonso Henriques said...

No2liberals,

"I also instinctively develop a plan, to kill everyone I meet."

WOW! You are scarey, man!
ONe thing is to instinctively develop defenses against everyone we SEE, like I'll punch him in the face or in the stomach, another quiet different is to kill... and that thing only happens to me with people I see for the first time. Once I met them, that does not happen any more.
And yes, sex, race, size and atitudes, all are factors.

Baron Bodissey said...

Afonso --

"Northern Virginia" in those statistics includes Loudon County, Prince William County, and the outer parts of Fairfax County, which are the "bedroom suburbs" composed mostly of whites and native (i.e. descended from slaves) blacks. The core urban areas of Fairfax County, Arlingon City, and Alexandria are massively, overwhelmingly non-native-black ethnic. Anecdotal and visual evidence indicates that at least every third person is Mexican.

I don't have the statistics to prove it, but I don't need them. I've been there on the ground and seen what it's like. 28 (or was it 82?) languages spoken in the schools! It's incredible.

Afonso Henriques said...

Ok Baron, I only have to pitty you for that agressive multiculturalism. One in every three, a Mexican? Wow... that is worst than California...

My point maintains however: The "native languages" are no more than the native languages of the people who inhabited that area...

----------------------------------

Nj Artist,
I failed to understand what you meant. Maybe you're talking about the European Union... just a curiosity, you say England was not European. You're right, neither are we! You see, Europe only starts North of the Pyrinees. In many ways, this is indeed truth, but mostly not. Just to tell you that we are as different from those in "Europe" than the English themselves. Thank you France, once more.

Afonso Henriques said...

"As to your model being too egocentric, balderdash. Our entire life force extends from ourselves. If we do not nurture our own beings first and foremost, we cripple our ability to help others."

"The myth of altruism has done more to kill the human ego than all the mass murderers of history. It is not selfishness that is evil but the far more prevalent sin of self-absorbtion."

"The greed and ultra-materialism that plagues our modern world are a direct manifestation of self-absorbtion elevated to near-religious status."

" there are other people I care more about than myself, such as my children for instance. I think the nucleus should be those people we love more than ourselves, and put ourselves amongst those we love as much as ourselves. For those who love themselves more than another, my deepest sympathies."

Well, I agree more with the later of Joanne. And Zenster, I wonder if you can define "self-absortion" so that I can understand what you're thinking.
I prefer pyramides to circles, though.

Erich said...

I had a thought similar to graham dawson's above. The logic of the concentric image in Bodissey's essay is inverted or subverted by the worldview of Islam:

At the center in Islam is the nucleus of Mohammed-Allah-Koran.

Next in importance surrounding that is the mechanism for the concretization of Mohammed-Allah-Koran -- in the Sunnah.

Next in importance is the actual concretization of Mohammed-Allah-Koran -- in the Umma.

Not included in this scheme at all, of course, is the rest of humanity.

Also not included -- or more accurately, forcibly excluded when possible -- are various internal elements that are deemed to be hostile to the scheme (which would include family members deemed "un-Islamic", and any other fellow Muslims also deemed "un-Islamic", as well as larger organizational units all the way up to Muslim nations that might be deemed "un-Islamic".

The Islamic subversion of Bodissey's concentric image is not so much a reversal of priorities as it is a collapse of the hierarchy itself:

Mankind (or rather "Muslimkind") is represented by each individual Muslim insofar as he devotes all his personal energies to supporting the Umma -- and this same imperative for devotion/submission is replicated on each wider ring of sociology. And it all boils down to submission to the Mohammed-Allah-Koran complex.

Of course, since it is impossible to perfectly enact this Islamic imperative in actual societies, we will see lots of "ragged edges" and appearances that seem to present a "diversity" that goes against my analysis.

P.S.: As to the merits of Bodissey's concentric image in and of itself, I support it, with the caveat that the center, "Self", is not a resting point but rather a source of perpetual existential disturbance by which ultimate questions of origin, nature and destiny -- as mediated by private experiences & meditations as well as by the ongoing self-education of the individual in history -- lead the individual to a deeper reality than "Self" which cannot be possessed with certainty of knowledge but which provides paradoxical meaning in mystery, through the experience of faith in a transcendence that must be the ultimate resting point, even if resting in it cannot be achieved fully in this life without constant unease, doubt, aggravation, wonder, etc.

Eric Voegelin's schematic representation of Aristotle's philosophical anthropology, in its bifurcation of the "Nous from above" (nous exothen) on the one hand endowing order to the hierarchy of Cosmos-Mankind-Nations-Family-Self, and on the other hand an "Apeiron" ("Limitlessness") from below from which man extrapolates a hierarchy of the levels of being from Matter-Vegetable-Animal-Human -- illuminates a way to unify the Self at Center and the Cosmos at Periphery, insofar as the experience of the divine paradoxically both within the Self and coming to the self "from above" (i.e., from outside the Self) is the same transcendence that founds the entire hierarchy through the Cosmos yet from "beyond" the Cosmos.

(For a discussion of Voegelin's schematic, see this link and scroll down to "Table.1 Voegelin's Ladder".)

hard link:

http://74.125.45.104/search?q=cache:NzvJNAA5xuQJ:integral-review.org/documents/Harter,%2520Vogelins%2520Ladder%25202,%25202006.pdf+voegelin+aristotle+apeiron&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=10&gl=us

The Hesperado

spackle said...

"Taking care of your own". A very good and rational idea that for a lot of reasons (mostly marxist thought and radical individualism) has been done away with in our culture. For most whites when one steps outside the immediate nuclear family (and even sometimes within it) the "take care of your own"mantra breaks down. That breakdown has been one of the most devastating and fragmenting things to happen to European and American whites.

A man I know was complaining to me how all of the gas stations are now Indian owned and couldnt understand where they get the money to buy these businesses fresh off the boat. What he doesnt understand is that these Indians with all the Aunts, Uncles and cousins act as a single unit. They pool their money. All the employees are family members. They share the same homes and they do indeed "look after their own". How many homeless Indian junkies have you seen on the street?

The same could be said for the Chinese, South Americans and to a lesser extent Italians and Jews. And yes even Muslims. Can you imagine a typical American family of German or Irish descent doing the above? They would be tearing each others eyes out before long. I dont know what it will take to change us back to looking after grandma. But until then we will continue to put her and the rest of our own on the ice flow. Sorry to sound so cynical but I calls em as I sees um.

Lucille said...

To put our houses in order, we need to take care of our own. As an example, take $250 a year out of the money you give to Christian charities, and put it in an interest-bearing account instead. Then, when your mother becomes too old to care for herself, bring her into your own home and nurse her through her final days, instead of shipping her off to a state-financed nursing home.

That’s real charity at work.


That's a bit of a false dichotomy - both options you posit in your example are "real charity at work." Or at least they are in theory. In practice, it might not be that way; if your retired mother has already put away an account of her own and is financially sound, then giving that $250 to a charity may very well do more good.

Baron Bodissey said...

Lucille --

It may be a false dichotomy for some people, but in our case it wasn’t. I was speaking from my own experience, and the dichotomy was very real.

When my mother-in-law developed Parkinson’s disease, she was almost indigent — $700 or so per month in Social Security, and a little bit of savings. We were not very well off ourselves in those days. Dymphna and I combined our savings with hers and built a room onto our house for D’s mother.

Since I was a free-lance artist, and Dymphna had a job, I was the one who stayed home and took care of my mother-in-law until the day she died.

In our case it was an either-or proposition: the money could have gone towards taking care of our kin, or it could have gone to the African orphans. We chose to take care of our own.

I’m glad we did it that way. Until the last two days of her life, when she went into UVA Hospital with pneumonia, my mother-in-law was with her family, with the people who loved her and cared about her the most. It was the right thing to do.

joeblough said...

Just to go on record, I concur with BB.

Taking care of your own is the right thing to do.

no2liberals said...

Afonso, I'm really not all that scary, just a product of my environment and experience.
Have you ever had someone try to kill you?
I have.
My comment was sincere. When I meet someone I don't know, I'm courteous, polite, and respectful, but I always evaluate them with a basic threat assessment, and how best to dispatch them if they do pose a threat.
Survive first, then thrive.

no2liberals said...

As many agree that taking care of your own is the right thing to do, can there be limits?
Is there an expectation of maladaptive behavior of the larger group, by one of it's members?
Should racist behavior be expected?
Michelle Obama seems to think so. Oh, and she admits her husband was adopted by his Indonesian step-father, which might mean he forfeited his U.S. citizenship.

Saladman said...

I take the point you're making, and I especially agree that we should not be embarrassed not to sacrifice our own and our nation's interests to distant peoples. Still, it saddens me greatly to read this.

There's an argument that part of America's economic and civic success came from its (relatively) low levels of nepotism and family obligations. America long had a strong nuclear family but weak extended obligations, without the sense of tribe or clan that many other cultures have. Weak obligations to extended relatives ensured that government officials and potential business partners would all be (relatively) trustworthy, if only because of a relaxed degree of pressure to cheat.

Contrast this to Iraq, where a major problem in our occupation was that any kind of official was expected to wring out every drop of money or influence to benefit his family and tribe - he'd have been a fool not to, since everyone else would do the same thing. Or some asian and east european cultures, whose immigrants do well in business in the west, but whose restaurant or store chains all tend to top out in size after they run out of cousins to hire as managers. Or Rhodesia under British rule, where native black doctors made just as much as white doctors, but could never save and invest because every increase in salary had to be shared out among an expanding circle of impoverished relatives.

The last instance is fully as important as nepotistic corruption. An extreme obligation to family was enough to prevent capital formation, which is to say, enough to prevent the very basis of wealth and technology.

Its possible that the very existence of a prosperous free market under a limited and (reasonably) honest government has been due to solving the massive prisoner's dilemna of how to trust unrelated strangers in society to everyone's benefit. It was solved through the atomisation of family networks down to the nuclear family (probably an irreducable building block for healthy societies), and an overarching allegiance to a citizenship that overrode color, religion and country of origin.

Immigration without assimilation and multiculturalism struck at the root of both solutions.

We'll have to either reclaim assimilation and nationalism, or adjust to a new reality of tribalism, nepotism and spoils. The latter may become necessary, but I can't celebrate it.

See

http://www.isteve.com/cousin_marriage_conundrum.htm

and

http://www.city-journal.org/html/13_2_oh_to_be.html

Felicie said...

I haven't read all the comments. maybe somebody has mentioned it. This is what struck me. When I thought of my affinities and loyalties, they were not concentric circles. As somebody who has lived in several countries, I have affinity for several nations. As someone, who grew up in modern non-extended family environment, I have a conflict in affinities between family and close friends. Who do I owe more loyalty? A cousin or a friend? As someone who has lived in a mobile culture and moved often, I don't have a defined circle of loyalty to neighbors. Do I owe more to my physical neighbor or to a colleague, who is not a neighbor?

And this is then what struck me. This is precisely the problem!!! You could judge the sickness or health of a society or civilization on how CONCENTRIC one's cirles of loyalty are. In a healthy, organic society, they would be absolutely concentric.I would grow up and live in the same place. My first friends would be my siblings who live in the same household. My immediate neighbors would be my cousins and aunts who share the court yard with my family, living in an extended family arrangement of several houses grouped togather. My schoolmates will be the kids on my street, so that my loyalty to friends and neighbors would overlap. My nation would be homogenuous, so that there will be no conflict of loyalties between several of my "identities." This is how this still is for many traditional societies.

So I'm proposing a diagnostic tool for societal illness - the geometry of caring circles. I guess it's as good as any. :)

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Saladman, I believe you're misreading what the Baron meant. Lets see if I can put this the right way...

The difference is one of intent. Taken the correct way, this hierarchy provides a series of expanding relationships to which you should, in the case where you are looking to be altruistic, look first, in order of priority. It is not a series of obligations but a sseries of foundations. You are not required to care for them, you are simply asked to consider that they are the first place to look should you wish to start caring for other people.

The problem you've mentioned is a variation of that inversion I was discussing earlier, where the relationship hierarchy becomes negative, focussed on adversarial relationships (which is what an obligation ultimately is) and turning, for example, nepotism from an unfortunate consequence of familial bonds to a necessary step in securing respite from the people trying to force your compliance with the obligational relationship structure.

Personally I could have dropped tribe from the description since it's synonymous with "nation" - as opposed to "state", which I would add outside nation - and avoids the connotations of tribalism that have obviously created a negative image for you.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

could s/b would since I didn't make it. :)

Lucille said...

And I'm speaking from mine. My grandfather has been battling cancer for a few years, and doctors, about two months ago, told us he was terminal. In a couple days he's going into a nursing home. Only one of his sons lives nearby enough to take him in, and he has decided against doing so.

Armance said...

I guess all this concern of the Western liberal bleeding-hearts and do-gooders for the poors in Indonesia and orphans in Timbuctoo - while they don't give a damn about their own fellow citizens beaten, robbed or raped by immigrants - is misanthropy in disguise. They pretend to love an abstract, far away, exotic, faceless human being because they are incapable to really love and care about the concrete, real people around them. It's easy to show concern about somebody without identity and without impact on your life - the real difficulty begins when you have to deal with real men and women, complex people with flaws and problems, starting with your own family. Actually you cannot really appreciate humanity if you cannot love and value your kind first - this is a lie of the misanthropes who want to be taken as humanists. "A friend of all mankind is no friend of mine."

I give the word to somebody who expressed these things better than I could do - G.K. Chesterton:

It is not fashionable to say much nowadays of the advantages of the small community. We are told that we must go in for large empires and large ideas. There is one advantage, however, in the small state, the city, or the village, which only the wilfully blind can overlook. The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. He knows much more of the fierce varieties and uncompromising divergences of men. The reason is obvious. In a large community we can choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us. Thus in all extensive and highly civilized societies groups come into existence founded upon what is called sympathy, and shut out the real world more sharply than the gates of a monastery. There is nothing really narrow about the clan; the thing which is really narrow is the clique. The men of the clan live together because they all wear the same tartan or are all descended from the same sacred cow; but in their souls, by the divine luck of things, there will always be more colours than in any tartan. But the men of the clique live together because they have the same kind of soul, and their narrowness is a narrowness of spiritual coherence and contentment, like that which exists in hell. A big society exists in order to form cliques. A big society is a society for the promotion of narrowness. It is a machinery for the purpose of guarding the solitary and sensitive individual from all experience of the bitter and bracing human compromises.

Zenster said...

Afonso: Zenster, I wonder if you can define "self-absorption" so that I can understand what you're thinking.

I have already sought to connect the cult of altruism with this epidemic of self-absorption. It is entirely understandable that people, confronted with the ridiculous demand that they must hand over their personal wealth to strangers without adequate explanation, might overreact and align with more self-seeking goals. Perhaps, this is what we are witnessing in the Western world. Sadly, I do not think so. Even though individualism is totally praiseworthy, far too many people have taken this as license to indulge in the vice of self-absorption instead. Self-reward has somehow managed to supplant the virtue of true self-improvement.

Authentic self-enhancement involves a degree of personal improvement in—and expanded comprehension of—the external world whereby it defeats the overly absorbed nature of so many modern personalities. Direct evidence of this is available in the profound deterioration of iconic art, music, poetry and literature. One need merely examine how each and every one of these vital arts have been subjected to astoundingly narrow definitions of personal interpretation in order to understand how these important artistic pursuits have been warped over to overly-individualistic (read, self-absorbed) ends whereby they no longer exhibit classical or universal goals.

Does anyone seriously think that Madonna’s music will supercede that of Johan Sebastian Bach? Or that Thomas Kinkade will ever supplant Rembrant as a painter? Both have out-produced their classical counterparts but will forever remain well-deserved cultural speed bumps in serious art history. Additionally, both Madonna and Kinkade exhibit that hallmark trait of the self-absorbed, narcissism. Consider Kinkade’s observation that, “[Picasso] had talent but didn't use it in a significant way". Or Madonna saying, “Listen, everyone is entitled to my opinion”. This sort of unbridled conceit is clearly demonstrated by many modern entertainers. Instead of the old-school, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” attitude of outdoing one’s own self, we are treated to some yawning, blowdried airhead telling us, “You’re lucky I even bothered to show up.” The modern cult of celebrity has culminated in vapid glitterati like Paris Hilton who is only famous for being famous and nothing else.

Another aspect of this self-absorption manifests in modern sports and business practices. Too often, we now see a “win-at-any-cost” mentality. Steroids use by athletes, insider trading by CEOs, overall fraud and manipulation with the sole intent of engineering a public perception of success and accomplishment where none exists. As average people displace their own sense of self with the admiration of celebrities, we are confronted with a migration away from personal achievement towards vicarious living.

Hero worship has been elevated to a respectable pastime where fandom has become a raison d’etre in and of itself. The rabid superfan has replaced the once reverent acolyte. Instead of emulating individuals of great character or ability, merely idolizing them is regarded as some sort of feat in and of itself. Amidst this cult of celebrity, lost is any notion that all of us must each be a hero to our own selves. Gone is the single combat warrior and welcomed is the theatrically scripted wrestler. Social climbers have replaced mountaineers and the conquering hero is merely Publilius’ proverbial cock on the dunghill.

All of this points towards an increasing level of disconnection from reality within the general public. Few things better epitomize this than the now burgeoning incidence of panic attacks, common neuroses and minor phobias that have become crippling disorders. Grit and determination have sublimated into helplessness and—for lack of a better term—the fear of success. As people become increasingly disconnected from their survival instincts, there emerges the concept of perceived value.

Many will recall the stalwart champion of perceived value in the visage of television celebrity Ron Popeil. Be it Ronco’s Ginzu knives, pocket fisherman or the Vegomatic, all were ballyhooed with the now notorious infomercial. If the sales departments at AT&T or IBM diverted the same percentage of corporate budget over to televised marketing that Ronco did, their advertising executives would be fired on the spot. Ronco’s sales were based exclusively upon the notion that lengthy television airtime equated to a costly and high value product. One manufacturer I worked for was able to accommodate fluctuations in production and demand cycles strictly by regulating the broadcast of their infomercials. This is a core demonstration of perceived value. The fact that Ronco products were marginal, single-use garbage did nothing to harm their reputation or sales.

While the foregoing reference to infomercials may seem tangential at best, it goes to the heart of self-absorption. People now define external events so exclusively in their own terms that impressions and perception carry greater weight than objective reality. The cult of celebrity feeds upon this with a vengeance, as does the entire industry of commercialized sports. It is seen in politics where “feelings” carry more weight than facts and within industry where “branding” is more important than actual product quality.

All of this is narcissism elevated to near-religious status. It is Saladman’s interesting notion of atomization writ large. Faith Popcorn accurately predicted the surge in home delivery of everything from pizza to videos. She characterized it as “cocooning”. Few terms can better describe the psychological phenomenon of how people have withdrawn into themselves even at their own detriment and to that of the community. It is how stabbing victim Catherine Susan “Kitty” Genovese bled to death, unaided by neighbors who clearly overheard her plight. It is this same self-isolation that has enabled the mentality of, “who am I to judge?” A serious decline in general education spotlights this inability to critically analyze external events.

Such inadequate engagement with the outside world has allowed the rise of cultural and moral relativism. From narcissism’s root has sprung the misanthropy that Armace so vividly defines. It is far easier to be conveniently altruistic than truly grapple with the untidy and tangled emotions of honest relationships. Thus we see all this compassion spilt over those least likely to benefit from it in some far off land rather than people taking care of their own kind.

A pluperfect example of this is how the EU’s greedy bureaucrats—in their vain self-importance—demand that European culture sacrifice itself upon the altar of altruism so that barbaric and wholly unappreciative invaders may benefit from a thousand years of progress that these cretins did nothing to assist. The careerist politician exemplifies this narcissistic self-absorption and best reflects its rise in so many Western electorates.

Jennifer said...

Wonderful, wonderful, articulate post! Thank you for taking the time to write it. I've linked it as a page to my new blog.