Monthly Post

After The Shouting, The Silence

Over the months just past, not counting January’s break, we’ve explored the crisis of our age from various angles, moving in from the discordant jangle of outward symptoms toward the tangled heart of it all. One thing I haven’t really tried to address, though it’s gotten a certain share of discussion in passing, is the seething rage that has become such a pervasive factor in American public life. It’s time for us to talk about that now.

I suspect, for what it’s worth, that this is a conversation a lot of people are starting to have, as it really sinks in that what’s been happening in US politics for the last two years is something more than the ordinary partisan rancor that helps fuel the clattering, jerry-rigged contraption we call representative democracy. It’s normal for people to be furious when their candidate loses an election and to snarl insults at the guy who won. It’s not normal for a state of blind rage to remain fixed in place more than two years after the election—and it’s considerably more than “not normal” when an impressive number of those caught up in the rage have put the rest of their lives on hold so they can spend all their time hating Donald Trump.

As one of the few moderates left on the internet these days, I hear fairly often from people who are baffled and horrified by what’s happened to their friends and loved ones. I hear about the family gatherings where every other topic of discussion has been shoved aside to make room for angry discussions about the catalogue of Trump’s sins, the friendships and relationships that have shattered because one of the people involved can’t stand the fact that the other doesn’t hate Trump enough, and the rest of it. Does it happen the other way around? Sure, but to judge from the stories I hear and the people I know, that’s a lot less common these days.

Perhaps the saddest of all the accounts I’ve fielded, though, came from someone caught up in the rage. I got it by way of social media and wasn’t able to trace it back to its original source, so I can’t offer names and dates, but it rings true to me. It was part of an essay by a woman who was aghast to discover that the man in her life, the father of her daughters, was a horrible sexist after all. What made him a horrible sexist, in her eyes, was that he wasn’t supportive of her anger toward Trump, and what proved that he wasn’t supportive was that he didn’t want to spend all their time together listening to her rant about how awful Trump was.

I don’t know the author or the man who loves her, but I’ve heard enough parallel stories to wish him a less ghastly life. It really is excruciating to watch someone you love, someone who used to be interesting and caring and fun, turn into an obsessive rage junkie with a thousand-mile stare who spends every waking moment tripping on raw hate.

A certain detail doubtless needs to be cleared away before we proceed. It’s an article of faith among many privileged white American women these days that if a man says something less than complimentary about a woman being angry, it’s because men are terrified of women’s anger. Not so; I know quite a few men, and we do compare notes, you know. The only men I know who are terrified of women’s anger are those who have PTSD as a result of rotten childhoods. Far and away the most common reaction among men who don’t have that issue is not fear but the kind of weary dismay best summed up in the words “there she goes again.”

It’s also not true, by the way, that wallowing in anger is a source of empowerment, for women or anyone else. Any martial artist can tell you that an angry opponent is much easier to clobber than one who keeps his or her cool, and the same principle applies more generally. That’s especially true when the anger is so automatic that anyone can push the rage junkie’s button, set off the predictable reaction, and laugh at the Donald Duck splutterfest that follows. And that, my children, is why the photo below has become the face that launched a thousand memes. The people who chuckle at that image have seen that sort of overtheatrical saliva-spraying frenzy paraded about in public far too often for it to get any reaction more serious than a horse laugh.

Still, let’s take a closer look at the insistence—which can be found in any number of self-help books aimed at women—that anger is empowering. What makes that claim seem credible? Well, it’s true that if you run in circles that place a high value on getting along, you can hold people hostage by the threat of pitching a tantrum if they don’t do what you want. That sort of misbehavior is common enough nowadays that it’s played a significant role in giving politeness a bad name.

To judge by the women’s self-empowerment books I’ve read—and yes, I’ve read some; as a teacher of Druid spirituality I have to have some idea of what notions potential students are bringing to the table—that’s not what the authors have in mind, though. What they have in mind is much simpler: anger is empowering because it makes you feel powerful.

It’s quite true that anger makes you feel powerful. That’s why it’s such a handicap in a fight. When you’re angry, you think you’re more powerful than you are, and so you make dumb mistakes that let the other guy clobber you. In the books just mentioned, though, the question of results never comes up for discussion. You feel more powerful, therefore you are more powerful: that’s the underlying logic.

That logic can be found in habitats far removed from the behavior of rage junkies. I’m thinking just now of the evolution of what we may as well call transgender ideology. In an attempt to stave off the standard misinterpretations of what I’m about to say, let me note first off that I have no doubt at all that gender dysphoria exists, that it’s a major issue for those who have it, and that for some of these latter, at least, the process of transitioning to a different gender really does seem to help. I don’t have gender dysphoria, but I know plenty of people who do; my Aunt Becky used to be one of my uncles, for example, and I have a fair number of transgender friends who feel comfortable talking to me about their experiences.

Over the last few years, though, the recognition that gender dysphoria exists and that some people feel as though they’re in bodies of the wrong gender has mutated into the rather odd insistence that a person who decides that she identifies as a woman, say, is a woman, irrespective of what biology has to say. It’s reached the point that some people who identify as women, but who have penises and testicles, are demanding (angrily, of course) that lesbians ought to be willing to have sex with them—as in, penetrative intercourse with their penises—because they’re women, full stop, end of sentence. (If you think this is a straw man argument, dear reader, type the words “cotton ceiling” into your favorite search engine sometime and hit ENTER.)

What’s more, the same odd definition of gender has now become standard all over the leftward end of the political landscape. As a result, women’s sports have now been opened to people who identify as women, irrespective of biology. While taking testosterone to build muscle mass will get you banned from women’s sports competitions, athletes who’ve spent most of their lives being dosed by testosterone from their own testes are being given a free pass, because they now identify as women. How many of those athletes have chosen to say they identify as women for the moment, solely because that identification gives them a chance at the athletic glory they won’t win if they have to compete against men? That’s not a question you’re allowed to ask. (Nor is anyone supposed to ask what’s going to happen, for example, once male business owners realize they can game the system to get access to contracts set aside for women-owned firms.)

I wonder, for that matter, how many people who uphold the current ideology about what constitutes gender have realized that tomorrow morning Donald Trump could announce that she now identifies as a woman, and that America therefore has its first female president, its first lesbian president, and its first transgender president. By its own logic, the entire American Left would be obliged to cheer for Trump’s presidency as a triumph of diversity and inclusiveness. They wouldn’t, of course, but it would be immensely entertaining to watch them scramble around for reasons to abandon their principles and keep hating President Donna Trump. What’s more, given Trump’s obvious delight in trolling his opponents, I could see him doing it.

Let’s take this a step further, though. The current donnybrook over transgender people is at root a quarrel over the meaning of gender terms such as “man” and “woman.” Current transgender ideology claims that these are labels for subjective identities that have nothing to do with biology: if you feel like a woman, then you are a woman, and that’s that. To most of their conservative opponents, in turn, these terms are labels for objective biological states such as the possession of a penis or a vagina, which have nothing to do with subjective identities.

From a less one-dimensional viewpoint, of course, neither of these are the whole picture. For each of us, gender is a complex thing in which subjective experience and objective biology both play an important role. It’s precisely because both sides of that interaction matter that gender dysphoria is as challenging to live with as my transgender friends tell me it is. Recognizing that the subjective and objective spheres both have a claim to importance is crucial if there’s going to be any chance of finding common ground in the culture wars around this issue—and of course so many others as well.

But there’s another issue here, because if you plop solely for the subjective side of things, as so many people in the privileged classes do these days, you land instantly in paradox. Let’s return to the “cotton ceiling” controversy mentioned above, the insistence by some people who identify as women, but who have penises and testicles, that lesbians who won’t have penetrative sex with them are bigots who ought to change their attitudes. Here’s one of them, let’s say, in a lesbian bar.  From her point of view, the fact that she identifies as a woman makes her a woman, and the lesbian she’s trying to pick up should experience her as a woman irrespective of any other consideration, such as a penis.

The lesbian doesn’t experience the other person’s subjective self-image, though. She experiences the other side of the picture: for example, the facts that the other person looks and moves like a guy in a dress, has a penis and testicles, displays a typically masculine attitude of sexual entitlement, and is pressuring her to engage in sexual activities that, as a lesbian, she isn’t interested in. That’s the lesbian’s subjective reality, and it is just as real as the other person’s sense of her own femininity.

That’s the paradox. If you insist that subjective reality trumps all other considerations, you then have to decide whose subjective reality gets to do that. The objective world, the world of facts and outward experiences, is as useful as it is precisely because most of us, most of the time, experience it in roughly the same way. Our subjective worlds are not like that, and when you treat your own world of desires and identities and impressions as though it’s the only thing that really matters, you’re going to slam face first into failure over and over again because the rest of the human race isn’t inside your head and doesn’t see you or anything else through your eyes.

That, in turn, is why the social justice movement, which began with such high hopes and ideals, slid promptly into the crudest sort of bullying, and then embraced its current fixation on chasing off as many people as possible, so that their subjective experiences of themselves and the world could be excluded from consideration. That’s part of the logic behind the Oppression Olympics, the no-holds-barred struggle to insist that the set of intersecting identity categories to which you belong mark you out as uniquely oppressed, and therefore uniquely correct.

The social justice movement started out with the realization—a valid and valuable one—that the subjective experience of the disadvantaged is important.  Lured by trends in modern pop culture, it ended up concluding that the subjective experience of the disadvantaged was the only thing that really mattered.  What followed was increasingly shrill attempts to force everyone else to see the world the way this or that disadvantaged group sees it, followed by even more strident efforts to center the whole world of social justice on the experiences of the smallest possible group of most disadvantaged people.

The recent demand that all social justice activism should center on the concerns of transwomen of color, to the exclusion of such lesser issues as the needs of the other 99.999% of the human race, is yet another step in that same direction. Sometime soon I expect to see Ursula K. Le Guin’s story “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” stood on its head; social justice activists will be making pilgrimages to bow down before the one person whose perfect intersectionality at the meeting point of every axis of oppression makes xer the Most Disadvantaged Person Anywhere, and whose subjective experience of the world will therefore be assigned the same sort of infallibility that traditional Catholics assign to the Pope. The perks of the position will be such that competition for it will no doubt be fierce.

The social justice movement is hardly the only manifestation of these same strange habits of thought in our culture, for that matter. To my mind, Hillary Clinton’s doomed 2016 presidential campaign is still the poster child for the phenomenon. All through the campaign, Clinton and her staff acted as though planning the inaugural ball was more important than doing the things that might make that happen, such as finding out what the voters wanted and giving them some reason to think that Clinton would get it for them. Her impressively misbegotten campaign slogan—“I’m With Her”—could not have done a better job of making it clear that the point of the whole campaign was the glorification of Hillary Clinton: in terms of the pattern we’ve been exploring, trying to bully everyone else in the world into seeing Clinton the way she likes to see herself.

That was shown in the cold light of an unwelcome morning by the way so many of her supporters reacted to her defeat. I’m not just thinking of the bizarreries some of her fans in the media splashed around, though those make good examples. The online essayist who wrote a slobbering love letter to her idol, proclaiming her as “light itself,” is a fine example; she was expressing a purely subjective emotional state, clearly enough, without any noticeable connection to the dreary political hack she adored.

I’m thinking also, though, of the way that Democrats have spent the last two years utterly convinced that the Mueller investigation would inevitably give them something they could use to impeach Trump. That conviction wasn’t based on anything in objective reality; it was based purely on the desire of those same Democrats to punish Trump for not losing the election. Since the universe is  serenely uninterested in the subjective worlds of human beings even if the human beings happen to be Democrats, and since Mueller did his job and based his report on what actually happened instead of what the Democrats felt should have happened, the Democrats have just kneecapped themselves, and handed Trump a club with which he will belabor them straight through the 2020 election. We’ll see tomorrow just how knotted and spiked a club that will turn out to be.

Not that the Democrats will notice this, mind you. Perhaps the most insidious consequence of the fixation on subjective impressions that we’ve been discussing is the way that it prevents those who suffer from it from learning from their mistakes. That’s why Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign was practically a carbon copy of her equally inept 2008 campaign, and failed in the same way; that’s why the Democrats seem right now to be hard at work setting themselves up for the kind of electoral smackdown in 2020 that Ronald Reagan dealt them in 1984; and it’s why the social justice movement, by its fixation on “centering” the smallest possible group of disadvantaged persons and telling everyone else to shut up or leave, is busy wrecking the progressive coalition and helping to guarantee the 2020 smackdown just mentioned.

The way back out of such absurdities doesn’t depend on finding some source of infallible truth other than one’s subjective impressions. Nor, it should be said, does it involve a rigid focus on the objective—on biological facts, say, rather than personal experiences. The opposite of one bad idea is usually another bad idea, and there’s nothing to be gained by swinging from an unbalanced focus on one side of a complicated dynamic to an unbalanced focus on the other. What’s missing here is the recognition that there’s a middle ground where all the factors in play come together to create a nuanced vision of reality, a world in which many worlds meet.

That’s one alternative. The other, as already noted, is blind rage. If you’ve been taught to believe that the universe is whatever you want it to be, that your subjective impressions are the only reality that matters and everything will do what you want if you just close your eyes and smother your doubts and believe—if you will, the Tinkerbell theory of reality—then you have very few options when, as normally happens, the universe refuses to cooperate. You could stop and reexamine your belief in the omnipotence of your own subjective life, but the whole ideology of positive thinking that dominates the pop philosophy of the privileged pushes against that option. Of course it’s also not very fun to realize that you have a lot less power than you like to think you do, and that you may just have been making a fool of yourself, not to mention making the people around you miserable, by trying to exercise a power over the cosmos that you simply don’t have.

Rage is a way to avoid that very unwelcome recognition. It’s not a useful way, but it can be emotionally comforting, and in a society where many of the privileged have talked themselves into believing that what they feel about things is the only truth they have to take into account, it’s undeniably popular. In two weeks we’ll look a little further into that tangled mess, and talk about what kind of silence follows when the shouting finally ends.

265 Comments

  1. “The social justice movement started out with the realization—a valid and valuable one—that the subjective experience of the disadvantaged is important”

    On paper, everyone can spot the fallacy progression: 1. Money matters. 2. Money matters most. 3. Money is the only thing that matters. But yet they can’t stop themselves doing it. You put your finger on the point, there. If the echo chamber of social media, TV, politics, and education reinforce the practical ignoring of what one logically knows to be true, for the sake of personal passions or interests, you can create the kind of alternate reality these people must currently be experiencing. It won’t be pretty, as it blossoms and ripens and unfolds.

  2. Do you genuinely not remember the blind rage of the Obama years? I’m also not sure why you continue to insist that you’re a moderate. Just embrace it. Be out and proud.

  3. What a breath of fresh air. Didn’t think this was even possible. What is alarming is that I now see the party I used to vote for become deranged to the point of Soviet style trials,accusations, and ,finally, exhortation to violence.

  4. John–

    Not rage attached to gender-identity, but rage nonetheless, with a reality-disconnection similar to what you discussed:

    From a comment thread on a PW post re Trump’s veto of a congressional resolution to end US involvement in Yemen:

    “I hate this scumbag so much. I’ve taken days away from here and the news because it’s mentally and emotionally debilitating”

    The reason this comment stood out to me, in addition to the fact that the individual was one of the persons with whom I tangled on occasion back in the day, is that the person’s avatar is a head-shot of Obama–you know, the guy who got the US involved in Yemen in the first place.

    With regard to Trump more generally and the previous discussions we’ve had within this community regarding his cunning (for lack of a better word), he does seem to have a knack for keeping his opponents enraged, almost as though he were provoking them intentionally…

    On a completely different aspect of this post, I must confess that in some sense I too succumb to a certain disconnection from reality in other aspects, particularly when confronted with human limitations in contrast to the infinite. I don’t rage so much with regards to that, though my much-younger self did from time to time. Nowadays it is generally either a sigh of resignation or a muttering frustration with respect to what isn’t possible (e.g. immediate application of potent political magic to force events in the direction I think they need to go).

  5. JMG,

    I was in a bit of a funk this last week and only last night felt ready to read last week’s post. I just want to tell you that I loved it and that it is one of my favorite posts ever. Also the commentary was stunning. You don’t even have to post this.

  6. Regarding Hillary: she won the popular vote. But I agree with you about transgenderism. Someone believing they’re a unicorn doesn’t make them a unicorn biologically. Rachel Dolezal was vilified for her “transracialism” (for lack of a better term), isn’t this the same kind of thing?

  7. This isn’t just Trump. A number of years ago, long before Trump, there was a woman in one of the church classes I was involved in who could be relied on, most sessions, to start off with “I can’t understand how …” and continue on at the top of her lungs in what was a pretty set speech.

    It was a perfect case of “there she goes again.”

    P.S. Signing on with Google is still non-functional – it hangs rather than finishing. It’s been doing this ever since Google abandoned Google+ a few weeks ago.

  8. I’ve come to regard Pres. Trump as a broken clock; he’s right twice a day. For instance on the day he said that the American war in Iraq was the stupidist move in our entire history, his hyperbole aside, he was right. I agree with him on some issues but I almost always disagree with his way of going about things. It’s amazing that the religious right in America is so accepting of such a louche playboy. And now comes Venezuela; we wait with baited breath. On the other thing, the transgender stuff, I arrived at the conclusion that everyone gets to add a letter to “LGBTQ” that is whatever strikes their fancy. Thus I made it into “LGBTQi.” Anybody who is math-literate can tell you what “i” stands for. The liberals elevation of LGBTQi matters to paramount importance is one of the things driving me away from the Democrats. That having been said, I like the Trump portrait you posted. Sort of reminds me of the cover of an old Savoy Brown album (unless it was a Fleetwood Mac album).

  9. Here! here! so very well put; I will be sharing this. I have to add re: ‘Me Too’ that, at 72, I grew up with women strong enough to slap a man if she didn’t like the ‘pass’ that he made… although they were inviting a lot of the passes. I think the current campaign makes women look weak, although the Denny’s waitress who must ‘put out’ to keep her job, deserves legal recourse.

    And, re: the ‘positive thinking’, although I’ve not delved into the most extreme forms, it does seem to have some validation from the research into the ‘placebo’ effect.. see Wiki ‘mirror therapy’ for basics. Even the definition of magic seems to be an effort to change/control, our selves and our environment. I think you promised to address the pla/nocebo affect … maybe we’re getting close to that post? Thx

  10. Am I reading correctly that you’re describing that the Left has fallen into a rather rigid confounding of the planes? Just because Anger makes one _feel_ powerful doesn’t make one powerful. And likewise with transgender ideology. Of course, the planes induce into one another, so the feelings of a female identity can indeed cause one to take physical actions to feminize the body. That said, this then simply means that all planes need consideration for effective action rather than simply focusing on one to the exclusion of all others. Focusing on one plane to the exclusion of all others would simply open one to catastrophic failure on every plane thus ignored.

  11. Greetings Mr. Greer,

    Thank you as always for sharing your observations to more clearly articulate the cultural psychosis of our time, and how we might go about overcoming it.

    In what is really only tangentially related to this week’s post I wanted to share something I think you and other readers might be interested in. If you feel it’s inappropriate or out of line certainly go ahead and edit or moderate it out. I would take no offense at all.

    Paul Wheaton and Shawn Klassen-Koop have a kickstarter campaign going on for a new book that I feel is right up the ally of what you’ve been advocating here for years. It’s called “Building a Better World in your Backyard instead of being angry at bad guys”. From what I can tell based on preview chapters I’ve seen it’s about not looking to politics to try and force others to make changes (which we haven’t done ourselves), but rather to realize effective change can begin right now with what we do in our own lives. It then provides a large range of things individuals can do that will really make a difference ecologically while improving the lives of those who do them. I envision this a being a sort of companion book to yours on “Green Wizardry”, providing another host of tools for the modern green wizards toolkit, hence why I think you and other readers here might find it of great interest. Here is a link to the campaign if anyone is interested: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/paulwheaton/better-world-book?ref=dtm3ec

    Thank you again for all you do. I personally feel like you are one of the top thinkers of our time and always look forward to your posts!

  12. So much in this resonated with my experience. As someone from a religious and conservative background, I felt quite obliged to take part in political movements to reduce our destruction of the ecosystem — and right there I met people who were dumfounded at the first part of that sentence. When I joined the Green party in the early 2000s, I eagerly discussed talking to Promise Keepers, gun clubs and other such groups, and was perplexed when many people erupted in screaming fits.

    More recently, a longtime friend told me she was ending our friendship. She had talked at length about how men have been women’s oppressors throughout human history, and don’t know what it’s like to feel pain or fear as women do. I pointed out — politely, I hope — that men were several times more likely to be murdered than women, to be assaulted and to commit suicide, and that was just in peacetime — men, of course, have been almost all soldiers in all wars.

    It’s not that I didn’t sympathise with what she was trying to say — I spoke up because I DID sympathise; I’ve known many women who have been raped or harassed, and I want all of us to do what we can to help prevent such things. Thus, as I mentioned to my friend, I want her to influence others with her passion. She would be quite right in saying that women are more likely to be raped than men, and have reason to feel afraid of that particular fate in a way that most men don’t understand. Saying that No Man Is Ever Afraid or Harmed, on the other hand, is patently ridiculous, and any listener would know it, so her efforts to convince people would fail. I know many men who have been through hell, in childhood and adulthood, wartime and peacetime, and would not appreciate someone telling them that their experiences aren’t real.

    Many of my friends these days, however — who consider themselves left and right alike — have forgotten the process of argumentation, devil’s advocate, thesis and synthesis, logic and rhetoric that is vital to democracy. Many these days just see sides — right and left, men and women — so that if a stereotypically “SJW” statement represents “the left,” then it is on the side of anything else on “the left” and opposes “the right.” In fact, as I’ve often pointed out to friends, it’s the opposite — concerns like transgenderism have supplanted most of the labour activism that might actually yield some tangible good for working people, just as evangelical concerns like Prayer in Schools have largely supplanted self-sufficiency movements that might help people raise families away from consumer culture.

    Moreover, such issues — I’ll call them “ceremonial” issues — actually help their opponents, as it forces them to defend a position that is difficult to take to its logical extreme. Also, I’ll point out that taking one side ultimately prevents people from having a consistent moral code that applies to all sides — it limits one’s capacity to be good.

    Finally, I would argue that such issues are harmless to the elites — to the people who own the corporations or hold positions in government, it likely doesn’t matter much whether someone has a transgendered bathroom or a public school somewhere says a prayer. Either way, their position is secure.

  13. As usual, I’ve enjoyed reading your perspective, and I think that the crux of your argument is really important. The world, and internet, would be a better place if more people understood it.

    On the other hand, I take issue with your characterization of the “cotton ceiling.” I did put it in my search engine and hit enter. I found no such arguments that trans women feel that anyone “must have … penetrative intercourse with their penises.” I found many trans women saying that a lesbian claiming that they would have sex with “any” woman but not a trans-woman, is implicitly denying their womanhood. (In fact, such a statement from any person, lesbian or not, would be guilty of such an implication.)

    For instance: see .

    There may be instances of the behavior you’ve mentioned, but my gut instinct and brief reading on the subject leave me wondering where you’ve gotten the impression that anyone, much less a majority or sizable minority of trans women, genuinely believe that a lesbian with a vagina must be willing to have penetrative sex with a trans-woman with a penis or be transphobic.

  14. I really dislike Trump–he’s much worse than I expected–even though I understood and supported the concerns of many of those who voted for him. I was not at all surprised by the 2016 result, especially after that “deplorables” comment. It really rankled, even though no one would toss me into one of the designated baskets. Trump is who he is–and transparently always has been–whereas the Democrats have a lot to answer for in abandoning their traditional constituencies and caving into big money. How can anyone take seriously their stated claim to care about ordinary people when they are giving speeches to the denizens of Wall St at hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop? Caving into the health insurance lobby and big pharma? Not to mention the oil industry and the military-industrial complex. In what fundamental way have they differentiated themselves from the Republican party? They were exiled for good reason, and we are all worse off as a result.

  15. Wow, John, did I ever need this today:

    “It really is excruciating to watch someone you love, someone who used to be interesting and caring and fun, turn into an obsessive rage junkie with a thousand-mile stare who spends every waking moment tripping on raw hate.”

    That is what my beleaguered wife has been trying to tell me for the last couple months. Time to listen.

    “Any martial artist can tell you that an angry opponent is much easier to clobber than one who keeps his or her cool, and the same principle applies more generally. That’s especially true when the anger is so automatic that anyone can push the rage junkie’s button, set off the predictable reaction, and laugh at the Donald Duck splutterfest that follows.”

    Again, spot on, and I cannot help but imagine the scene at the beginning of *Avengers: Infinity War* where Thanos hands the Hulk his big, green, rage-filled butt with a few thoughtful, well placed blows.

    As always, thanks.

  16. JUICY essay this week. I’m looking forward to a great deal of digital spittle flying all around the comments space fo this one!

    Myself, since my 20s I’ve tried to stake out that elusive middle ground you mention in the end of your essay from way, way back in the ‘80s. About 10 years ago, I gave up and found salvation in Stoic Philosophy: now I get to watch all of this as not much more than Game of Thrones but with uglier people and even more dragons.

    My POV as a modern American multi-culti (I’m a Protestant white guy who grew up in the MidWest with LOTS of family in the Deep South but I have chosen to live on the West Coast), I see the top half of your essay as this political cycle’s swing to ever more extremism as the New Normal for all and not as the sole province of the Left. Personally, though not all that critically, I believe these spittle-fest swings began in earnest with hatred of the Clintons in the ‘90s and not to be outdone, Lefties loathed themselves some W with equal intensity. But it was the crazed white-hot Obama hatred that I saw among my family and friends in the Central Time Zone that struck me as, well, crazy. And new. Now I say Ditto for the Left (irony intended) on Trump.

    So here is an honest question: do you see the unhinged Trump Hatred on the Left as something qualitatively different from the Obama sentiments on the Right or are they just cable-news/Facebook/YouTube-induced echoes of each other customized for each team?

    To me, the key differences are the organizing principle of each side, not their intensity. (With that, I confidently predict an even zanier response to WHOMEVER gets the office after DJT.) The Right favors unity (if you’re not with us, you’re against us!) The Left favors atomization (Your snickering about who becomes the Pope of Getting Picked On knocks that one out of the park) and George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia is a splendidly dark and often funny dissection of just that impulse on the Left.

    I agree entirely with your assessment of the self-inflicted damage the Left is doing: it is atomizing collective appeals down to the audience on one: who ever happens to be shouting at the time. But sitting around dinner tables with family, friends and even business contacts in Redlandia, there can be little toleration for apostates when it comes to their organizing tenets: guns, religion and immigration. Case in point: guns. I love trap shooting and I’ve had a dandy little 12-gauge Ithaca Model 37 Featherlight since I was 12 but I have little use for black-gun culture (military weapons modified for civilian “use”). Guess who’s learned to keep his mouth shut?

    While I can’t, or don’t want to, begin to image what follows next, despite my Stoic sentiments, I cannot detach enough to stop loving our dear Republic. I do not know how long we can continue with these organized rage swings and continue intact. Without tidy battle lines like North and South, an orderly separation cannot happen. A civil war? Probably but that would last about 45 minutes based on the distribution of guns. But for the Red-side “winners,” I can only see a very quick victory followed by a long agonizing defeat as two things happen: 1) we become a 21st Century Wiemar Republic, answerable to our impossible load of public debts and 2) the outside world does to us what we’ve done to them – occupation, asset stripping, land grabbing and general destabilization while we’re poor, hungry and on our backs. In a desperate attempt to stave off penury, I could even see the formerly prosperous coastal areas jumping ship for some kind of protectorate status offered by foreign powers, anything to avoid the total and complete economic collapse of the Heartland. If the whole world goes down with us, then yes, new regionalism can and would sprout in a post-industrial world, but if China, Russia and parts of Europe can keep it together, we could very well end up on the pointy end of an old-school mercantilism system customized for a new millennium complete with Uighur-compliant AI and surveillance systems.

    Have a nice day!

  17. Really astute, as usual JMG, thank you. I am not one of those who root for cataclysm so I don’t have to change my ways, but it occurred to me that many of those angry folks might have much more than Trump to worry about, soon, seeing as we are in a……predicament. I’ll keep growing food. ☺

    Thanks for your efforts,

    Mac

  18. Did you see the leftists went after Camille Paglia? It happened at my daughter’s college and she had no idea. It was a small group of students but they did the social media thing of trying to whip up the raging mob against Paglia. The university president to his credit swiftly and immediately put out a statement saying “artists have been censored and persecuted for their views and we don’t censor at this school”.

    There’s more in this article here: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/04/17/university-arts-rejects-calls-fire-camille-paglia

    I saw one fellow faculty member, a man, went on social media and told Paglia “to eat sh*t”. Whoa! I have a feeling that guy won’t be employed after the semester ends.

    Her biggest defenders have been the conservative right. Our country seems to be re-aligning to those who want state controlled everything from speech to health care to education from preschool thru college vs. those who just want to keep what little freedom of choice we currently have.

  19. I believe a lot of this is related to the use of social media in political campaigns.

    Although to a lesser degree, the same family and friendships fracturing happened here in Brazil, because of the presidential election last year. The candidate that won the election, Bolsonaro, hired Steve Bannon, who worked on the Trump campaign, to provide help.

    What I find odd is that an election, something that here and in America occurs every two years, managed to produce such divisions in so little time. Here I will speculate: what I think is going on is that people, everywhere, are feeling limits breathing on their necks. When resources needed to keep any society falter, people will split into groups–no matter how silly they are–and if things get bad enough, hilarity ensues. Like the old religious conflicts in Europe, centered in different Christian factions. Scarcity makes nature to seek balance, and one way, honored through history, unfortunately is rivers of blood.

    The intensity of the reactions, in my opinion, parallels the degree of scarcity.

  20. I am sorry if that this comment is long and incoherent. I am doing it in a rush. I want to keep myself anonymous for this comment as I prefer to be defined by the content of my character rather than the way that I was born. This seems to be a conservative trait these days as the left seem to be obsessed about defining people by the way that they were born, much in the same way that Jim Crow segregationists or apartheid era racists used to do. In some ways they make your average Jim Crow segregationist look quite relaxed on this issue.

    I am transgendered and have as you might say gone the whole way with hormones, reassignment surgery etc. I completed these 14 years ago and most people I know these days know nothing about my past. I just live a normal life as a woman. You state that

    “some people who identify as women, but who have penises and testicles, are demanding (angrily, of course) that lesbians ought to be willing to have sex with them—as in, penetrative intercourse with their penises—because they’re women, full stop, end of sentence”

    I don’t want anyone to get the idea that this is a view held by most transgendered people and then start getting angry at them. I want to make it clear that I do not know any transgendered people who hold such a view. I am willing to admit that there probably are some idiots out there who think like that and that they are likely to be the kind of idiots who make a big thing about it on social media and therefore get a lot of publicity. (It might also be a desperate attempt at a chat up line by someone who is ugly) I hope you don’t mind me saying this and I know that you are only referring to “some people”. However we live in a time when people have a tendency to blow things out of proportion and then fan the flames of anger at transgendered people.

    Saying that I have had very little to do with the transgender scene in the last few years and I am from the other side of the pond. I don’t know if things are different on your side. I have to admit that I do not understand what the hell is going on with the recent upsurge of interest in things transgender, and I do not know why people are making such a fuss about it. In this country transgendered people now have full legal protection against discrimination in terms of employment and provision of services. They can also legally change their gender and it is fairly easy to do. All you have to do is live in role for 2 years and provide proof of this and get supporting evidence from medical professionals that you are transgendered. You do not even need to have had the op or taken hormones. This does not mean that there isn’t a lot of prejudice against transgendered people. The law does not change the way people think. However form the legal point of view nearly everything that can be done to help transgendered people in terms of rights has been done. I thought that this issue was done and dusted and that I could just be left to get on with my life in peace.

    But in the last few years the liberal media and the left seem to have been going mad about transgender. They want to change the system of legallychanging gender so that you can do this without having spent 2 years in role, and without getting evidence from medical professionals to prove that you are what you say you are. Basically you just need to self identify as transgendered. They make a huge fuss by claiming that it is difficult to get your legal gender changed. I have done this and found it to be the pretty easy and I do not understand what the fuss is. There has been a reaction to this from feminisst and people on the right against this. Feminists claim that it would be easy for a rapist to change their gender and then have a legal right to enter female only space.

    Now there has been a lot of prejudice from some feminists like Germaine Greer and Janice Raymond against transgendered people that dates from the 1970’s. Therefore there is a lot of bad blood between transgendered people and feminists. However I have to say that in this case I think they have a point. It is not going to do transgendered people any favours if Roy the Rapist can just ruck up and get his legal gender changed without any checks on his motives for doing this. He then ends up being convicted of rape and the tabloid papers have a field day inciting rage and prejudice against transgendered people. Just how is this meant to help us. This proposed change seems to be an example of virtue legislating that far from helping us, may actually be detrimental to us.

    If the left want to really help transgendered people then I have a simple suggestion. When I first transitioned I went through hell with people throwing stones at me, threatening to stab and shoot me. I can remember a number of times when group’s men chased after me. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was in a car I would have had my face smashed in. (Some feminists may claim I have male privilege. If this is what privilege is, then they are welcome to it.) This does not happen to me now as my appearance is so much better. But if the left really want to improve the lot of Transgendered people then I would suggest that they improve law and order in this country to that transgendered people can walk down the street without fear. Of course they would never do this.

    I used to think that the left are our friends, but I have now come to the conclusion that they are using us as part of some sort of ideological and culture war. The right do not like us, but at least I know where we stand with them. I have no ideological axe to grind. I want to be treated with respect and dignity and the same rights as anyone else and I just want to be able to get on with my life in peace without bothering anyone. As long as I pay my taxes and obey the law ,then I should be left alone.

    A few of more things before I go. Our civilisation is collapsing due to peak oil and climate change etc. Therefore I cannot understand for the life of my why everyone is making such a fuss about transgendered people. We only make up a small fraction of the population.

    When it comes to the bad blood between feminists and transgendered people and feminist I have to say that I also get worried about the attitudes of some so called activists who support transgendered people. There was a story recently in the Guardian about some woman academic who had some activist threatening to rape her, because of her attitude to transgendered people and calling her a Nazi. I do not know if this activist was transgendered. However if they are threatening a woman with rape then they should be put in prison. And if you want to accuse someone of being a Nazi, it is a good idea not to behave like a Nazi.

    I also want to make it clear that I think you should be very careful when it comes children who want to transition. They might be going through a developmental stage which they will grow out of.

  21. there are also collections of stories online from people who are dismayed and anguished by a family member who has become a Fox News head addicted to the manufactured rightwing rage that spews forth from America’s premier Republican propaganda arm. The diehard Fox viewer is usually older, usually male and have been clearly brainwashed by the large-bore cardiac injections of hate 24/7 for decades now.

    Similar to the point made by C33 above, it’s curious that you assert this rage-blindedness is a recent phenomenon. Only in the past 2 years, since Trump’s election, is this suddenly a problem. You’re a student of history so what makes this period so special? Is it because the rage is coming from the left? I see a lot of handwringing these days about the Left’s lack of civility but I think it’s just that the Left is not allowed to fight back. The Left is supposed to be the nice ones. Conservatives can be as rage-filled and hateful because that’s what’s expected of them, right? The natural order and all that?

  22. @John Roth:
    I posted this comment using my Google account. Maybe your browser plugins are interfering with the login process.
    Attempt to login using Firefox Private Mode, Google Incognito Mode, or a similar mode in the browser you use to access the site.

  23. If rage is NOT bottled up or suppressed (as the “hate” that became the new “sex” was) but indulged to the fullest instead, is it not still true to say that it reflects an aspect of human experience that is natural and has its place in amongst all the rest?

    In TCM, anger is one of the internal pathogens (ie disease causing entities arising from inner experience – usually an e-stagnation, or, an e-motion that is stuck and cannot move on) and we give a great deal of thought to the specific ways e-motions that stop being in motion affect the body and health.

    As an emotion that is properly in motion through a life, a relationship, a project, anger can signal that something is drastically wrong, and that urgent, restorative action is the only thing that will right it. Angry words can sometimes provide the short shock treatment that shakes another person out of complacency, shows them the hurt they’ve been inadvertently causing and prompts them to be more aware, which can be healing and transformative.

    But stuck anger often becomes copperfastened into a deep-seated frustration, an impotence to take the urgent, restorative action it is prompting, and that’s when blood pressure rises, arteries harden, blood rushes to and congeals in the head, and create the perfect conditions for stroke and heart attack.

    Just now there are all kinds of signals in the system that might be prompting urgent restorative action, but perhaps if we keep looking at others, and expecting THEM to take that action, we will be transfixed by our own impotence to move them as we wish them to move, into endless frustration and a rising pitch of rage.

  24. I’ve found David Chapman’s site Meaningness to be useful, especially on the question of gender. Since everything is both patterned and nebulous, and since any system works only when it works, it should have been no surprise to learn that our categorization of sex and gender do not cover every conceivable case.

    The responses to it seem to mostly fall into one of three camps: (1) reinforcing the old system by brute force, (2) carving out well-defined exceptions (e.g., treating “transman” and “transwoman” as genders in their own right and insisting the terms only apply if you experience gender dysphoria), or (3) trivializing it by making it subjective. Interestingly, these line up really well with Chapman’s scheme of the (a) countercultural, (b) subcultural, (c) atomized modes of cultural meaning.

    (Approach (2) was more or less the approach adopted by the gay rights movement: gay people are an exception to the normal system, but a well-defined one.)

    Ultimately, all of those modes and approaches are unsatisfactory, but (a) and (c), and to my mind (1) and (3) are almost certainly the most harmful. Chapman says that (b) was almost right, and I’d say that (2) is almost right. However, while it carves out a space for transgender persons, it still creates a hard barrier between them and society as a whole. This combination of space and barrier limits the overall harm the approach can do, but causes other harms. To paraphrase Foucault, “The pervert had been a temporary aberration; the transgender person was now a species.” In approach (2), transgender persons are no longer so hated as when they were treated as mere perverts, but they’re still sort of alienated.

    Part of the answer, certainly, is to shift the focus away from essences to practicalities. As with bleggs and rubes, the question of whether, e.g., a transwoman is really a woman is not the right question to ask in any situation where it comes up. It’d be better to get down to the practical questions we want to answer, like “Is it bigoted for a lesbian to refuse to date transwomen?” or “Should it be legal for transwomen to use women’s restrooms?”

  25. Yep, the woman above looks silly. Of course, Donald Trump ends up doing exactly the same thing with his lips almost every time he discusses Hispanics or Muslims for long.

    Yep, the partisanship is bad and mean on both sides. However, neither Bush nor Obama, nor Reagan nor Clinton, ever suggested that military, cops, biker gangs, or immigrants falsely believed to be “thugs” might be deployed as deadly weapons against their political enemies. Trump not only lies more, and more pathologically, than any recent leader, but engages in the sort of rhetoric that can be preparatory to violence to a far greater degree. He simply is not within the bounds of normalcy, and those of us who are very alarmed by his behavior have rational reason for it. You like the morphological method of history; what has happened in other countries where such rhetoric was normalized?

    If it’s bad to hate (if you’re a liberal hating rightists) and also bad to despise hate (’cause it makes you a classist or Ess Jay Doubleyoo), what should you feel and do if you see an increasing contingent of fellow citizens who make it clear that they are planning and training toward the ultimate goal of exterminating YOU? Buy a gun and learn to use it, certainly, if you can! But what else?

  26. This post strikes a nerve, because I’ve lost quite a few friends for even daring to say “Trump supporters aren’t evil”. As that happened my position has gradually shifted more and more in his favor, although I still loathe the guy, and think a lot of his policies are horrible, I’m less and less inclined to care about his failings. The alternative keeps getting worse…

    It amuses me to no end how often people will be nodding along in agreement on some point, and then someone will ruin it by getting angry at the one person who doesn’t agree enough. The response is for a sizable number of people who were agreeing with them to decide that maybe the other side has a point after all. I suspect, for what it’s worth, that had people not had full blown meltdowns whenever Trump came up, I would likely be fairly strongly anti-Trump, instead of increasingly supporting him as the lesser evil.

    As for angry women, I’m reminded of a class I took where we watched a video and had to dissect it. The video was of legal mediation, and the woman was having a full blown meltdown against her ex-husband. I said it didn’t help her case, and was promptly accused of sexism, for stating I find that the first person to get angry usually is in the wrong. The woman who did it eventually progressed to demanding to know if I thought she lost the argument by getting angry. Needless to say, I did in fact think that, since in my experience 90% of the time, people get angry when they lack a good counterargument.

    With regard to president Donna Trump, the fallback is one I’m seeing a lot of with the gay community: there’s an idea taking shape on the left that anyone who’s not far enough left, but gay, is merely striking a pose in order to try to avoid being criticized. The fact that it’s dogma on the left that no one ever pretends to be gay is not stopping this from catching on.

    On the topic of the Mueller investigation, I’m more interested in the Craig indictment. It implicates a reporter, which the New York Times is now claiming as their own, a former congressman, with a lot of speculation being it was a Democratic one, with Craig himself being Obama’s former White House Counsel and the man behind the defense in Clinton’s Impeachment. I’ve also seen reports that Mercury Public Affairs (which I’ve seen claims was involved with the Clinton campaign, but was without a doubt anti-Trump), and the Podesta Group, with founding member John Podesta are also under investigation in the case.

    I’ve already been asked to join a working for justice for Craig, so it may get quite interesting. My concerns were brushed aside with logic that only makes sense if the subjective is all that matters, so I think more than one mage on the left is going to go ahead with this.

    All in all, it’ll be interesting to see how this unfolds.

    Also, I would like to second Onething’s appreciation of last week’s post. It truly was a wonderful post, and I expect to keep rereading the series for years to come.

    Violet,

    Fascinating idea! I think the problem with the left may be the refusal to deal with the material plane. The interesting thing though is that I think the issue with the right is the refusal to deal with any other plane. I think I have a good theme for meditation here.

  27. So were the rage junkies infected by bad egregor, or did their demonic hatred poison it?

    Which came first—the chicken or the egregor?

    Somebody mentioned hostility to Obama. I know something about that, since I have a relative who’s ultra-conservative and sent me so much anti-Obama stuff my e-mail took to routing him into the Junk, evidently mistaking him for a bot. The anti-Obama stuff was different in two ways. First, at least half of it was directed at Mrs. Obama. for reasons I never figured out—only in 21st-century America would people get mad at a woman because she encouraged kids to eat their veggies. Second, the anti-Obama stuff tended to try to have reasons behind it—he was an empty suit, he was a liberal, he was a Democrat, etc. There wasn’t this Satanic hatred just because he existed; not once in 8 years did I see anything encouraging his assassination or demanding the dismantling of the electoral college. (I myself think the electoral college is a silly system, but the Hillary worshippers liked it just fine as long as they thought it would work in her favor.). A lot of the anti-Obama stuff was pretty stupid, but it was human. A lot of the anti-Trump stuff smells of sulphur.

  28. JMG,
    A parenthesis on “the same sort of infallibility that traditional Catholics assign to the Pope.” If only they were so limited! The Pope is actually held to be infallible on a very narrow range of subjects in a narrow range of circumstances. He can’t e.g. declare that all Catholics must be vegan. (This particular issue is hitting me at present, as my daughter is looking at colleges and one of her criteria is “least number of militant vegans!”)

    Phutatorius,
    Thanks for “louche” – spot on! BTW, it’s “bated breath” – contraction of “abated” – one of my pet peeves.

    RPC

  29. John–

    I read through that first Tumblr post you linked to. I realize that I’m a middle-aged, upper-middle class, cis-gendered, heterosexual white guy, but I had to reread that post three times before I could begin to make sense of it.

    What facilitated my healing and resilience was a materialist analysis of the world that relocated my anxiety from individuals to institutions.

    Focusing our ire on people who receive privilege instead of people who dole it out is a losing strategy for ending oppression. This idea flows from post-structuralist academic theory that sees collective struggle against domination as largely misguided[.]

    What does that jargon-laden gobbledy-gook even mean?

  30. To be fair, I also think that a lot of women’s self-help literature encourages anger because the social pressure (especially on middle-ish class WASP-y women) to be nauseatingly, relentlessly, almost theatrically nice all the time makes anger really appealing in comparison.

    Also, I think one of the best things coming out of the Left’s current obsession with bullying everyone into acquiescence with their groupthink is that I’m seeing more conservatives adopt a Libertarian-esque “live and let live” attitude toward villianized minorities like transgender people as a sort of backlash against the intrusiveness and micromanagement of the ideological Left. Hopefully such anti-poke-nosing will become increasingly popular.

  31. @Pak Shaud

    I don’t have any browser plugins. I avoid plugins like the plague – I’ve seen and heard of too many security problems with them.

    For debugging: Safari, Mac OS latest version. The process seems to go fine, all the way to the end, but when it flips back the progress bar simply keeps progressing, and progressing, and progressing. Google has, however, opened the account, which I have to close manually.

    Otherwise, great post.

  32. All,

    It baffles me that so many people who claim to be allies to the LGBT community can’t grasp a simple point: people are attracted to who they are attracted to. This does not imply a judgement value. Are straight women misogynists for not being attracted to women? Unless you can answer yes to that statement, then there’s no reason to assume anyone who’s not interested in transgendered individuals is bigoted against trans-people. I’ve seen the argument enough to know it’s there. I don’t know if I’d say it’s common, but it’s there.

  33. Dear Mr. Greer,

    Not an American, so I (Linnéa) watch the circus from outside. From this perspective, the rage of Democrats about Trump looks very, very similar to the rage of Republicans about Obama. You can jeer at hopes that the Mueller Report would have contributed towards impeaching Trump, but are those hopes substantially different from hopes that Obama would be proven to have been born outside the United States, and therefore disallowed from office?

    I read your blog often, Mr. Greer, and have donated; I like your work. I would like to offer a few comments about the topic of American rage, leaving aside for now questions of social justice, trans people, and other topics in your post. A few of my thoughts might be challenging to you and your readers, and, if so, no offense is intended.

    To begin, it seems to me that you have not yet reached the heart of American rage in your analysis. Rage is found on both wings, right and left; the only thing that brings me to perceive as slightly less odious expressions of rage by the American left over its right is that the enraged left wingers don’t seem to pick up assault rifles and head down to the local school for a bit of merry mayhem. Not saying that all enraged right wing Americans do that, but how many mass murderers in the USA have been motivated by left-ish issues? Just asking, because I don’t see many reports of feminists walking into local Legion Halls to kill every old white man in there.

    As an element for your considerations, I suggest that American rage (from either right or left) does not have much to distinguish it from British rage or German rage, Brazilian rage or South African rage. Where does rage come from? Beyond anger? I think rage occurs when something deeply, fundamentally unjust about life is felt, and, for some reason, the enraged person believes things should be put right.

    So, what I see is the following: many feminists and other people on the American left feel enraged that Trump is President of the USA because he is sexist, etc. Trump violates their foundational beliefs about what is right and good in life, and since he holds highest office in a country they love, they are outraged and enraged. A few years ago, many white nationalists and other people on the American right felt outraged that Obama was President of the USA because he is black, etc. Obama violated their foundational beliefs about what is right and good in life, and since he held highest office in a country they love, they were outraged and enraged.

    See what I mean?

    There’s a sad dehumanizing about opponents happening on both sides of the political spectrum (never mind who started, talking about that would help about as much as it helps when I’m squabbling with my husband). I see this dehumanizing talk all over the world and I think it’s dangerous. To me, many of your blog posts in the last few years have not been moderate. I continue to read because I understand you live within the tension of extremes and have to deal with it somehow, and I admire your work, but many of your words these days are not moderate and I often don’t find them constructive.

    Regards,
    Linnéa

  34. Oddly enough, I had a dream last night that I was reading today’s blog post and you were describing a martial arts competition in some detail.

    A couple of reactions–

    1. “What followed was increasingly shrill attempts to force everyone else to see the world the way this or that disadvantaged group sees itself…”

    I’d quibble with this a tiny bit, and say, rather “What followed was increasingly shrill attempts to force everyone to see the world the way the self-appointed spokespeople for this or that disadvantaged group see themselves.”

    Something that’s bothered me about “social justice” and identity politics from the beginning is how intensely undemocratic it is. Who gave Black Lives Matter the right to speak on behalf of all Americans of African descent? Nobody; they claimed it for themselves, and denounce anyone who disagrees as racist. Similarly, where did pro-abortion groups get the right to define themselves as “pro-women” or as “womens organizations”? The answer, of course is that they didn’t; 44% of American women identify as pro-life, and yet pro-abortion groups routinely describe their opponents as “anti-woman.” In the town I live in we’ve had a series of vandalisms at the local Catholic church, all targeting icons of recently-sainted Junipero Serra. Leaving aside that a similar series of hate crimes targeting black churches or synagogues or mosques would be national news, the vandals always claim to be acting on behalf of Native Americans– approximately 1/4 of whom are themselves Catholic.

    The logic is always “We speak on behalf of Group X. Anyone who disagrees is against Group X. Members of Group X who disagree don’t count.”

    2. The thing that bothers me most about this is that it’s exactly the logic that supporters of George W. Bush used to use to silence their opponents. I came of age during the Bush administration and my first ventures into political activism were protests against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the time it was very common for neoconservatives to denounce anyone who offered any reasoned criticism of Bush’s wars of aggression as “hating America.” Since American and Israeli foreign policy typically go hand-in-hand, protests against the Iraq War often included a strong element of criticism of Israeli policy in Gaza or Lebanon– And so the protesters were also denounced as anti-Semites. Indeed, if you look around you can still find Bush-era holdout Republicans who insist that “neocon” is actually an anti-Semitic slur!

    3. Bashing the Social Justice movement is easy, but maybe outside of the main point you’re making in this essay. Still… Going back to the previous point, there’s also the issue that the self-appointed Leaders of the Disadvantaged also get to decide which groups count as disadvantaged. If there had been a massive spike in the death rate of transgender lesbians of color over the last decade, we would doubtless hear a great deal about it from the Social Justice set; a similar spike in the death rate among rural white people (from heroin, alcohol and suicide, and arriving on the heels of neoliberal trade policies and mass immigration) apparently doesn’t count. And the “axes of oppression” nonsense allows the Social Justice set (themselves ensconced in the university system– that is, a major center of power) to argue that an unemployed heroin-addicted former coal miner from somewhere in West Virginia who happens to be white, male and heterosexual is exactly as oppressed as Kanye West, because they share the same number of “axes of oppression” (1 point for Working Class; 1 point for African American) but only half as oppressed as (female of color) Kim Kardashian.

    4. I remember mentioning here two years ago that I knew a guy who had been a severe alcoholic, who had changed his life through 12-step programs and was doing great… who then turned back to drinking upon the election of Donald Trump. The last I spoke with him was last year. He was still spending hours a day devouring left-wing media and drinking. I texted him to ask how he was doing; he replied with a detailed rant about how “We need to take to the streets to reclaim our government, by force if necessary”; I politely disagreed; he followed with a torrent of abuse; and that’s the last I’ve heard from him. I hope he’s okay, but it’s in his god’s hands. This stuff really is incredibly destructive.

    5. The last thing, though, is that I find that I myself have been frozen into a kind of permanent paralysis by the 2016 election. It has been frankly bizarre to me to watch people I used to respect seem to lose their minds over Donald Trump, and it’s been even more bizarre to me to see the way the Left has completely reversed its positions on everything that mattered when I first got involved in radical politics (1999-2001ish). An aggressively pro-free trade candidate who voted for the Iraq War and had a direct hand in American involvement in half a dozen other foreign conflicts is now “light itself”; the candidate who shares the Zapatistas’ view of NAFTA and called George Bush a liar to Jeb’s face during the debates is the New Hitler. And the weirdest thing is… No one seems to have noticed that they’ve done a complete 180 in their beliefs. I’ve been thinking about this for the last 3 years, and I still can’t figure out what’s going on– And I still have yet to get anybody to admit that they’ve changed their positions. It’s very confusing.

  35. The key point in your brilliant blog, JMB, is that one subjectivism leads to clashes with others that contradict it. I would add that this applies across time as well as space: one era’s favourite beliefs clash with another’s, which is relevant if you realize there’s no such thing as the absolute present – all eras being equally present to those who inhabit them.

  36. I’ve had unpleasantness with a couple of my richer leftist friends crescendoing in recent months. Our class differences have become a nagging leitmotif. They are salary class liberals and I am what United Way calls “ALICE”, an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. My ongoing neutrality concerning Donald Trump seems to be a deal breaker for one long-time friend and for another it is becoming increasingly problematic. Friend No. 1 recently made threatening noises for me to “be careful because I could get sued” and I reacted by immediately pulling out of a sensitive but unrelated personal agreement we had a verbal contract for as it was evident he does not recognize his own subconscious ill will towards me. Friend No. 2 insists she can change the mind of a MAGA-hat wearing mutual friend whom neither of us know very well. She is going to attempt this when we meet with him this weekend. To those reading this: What gives? Do you think those suffering Trump-derangement who are rich are AFRAID of becoming poor and working class like me? Are they turning off their empathy for those who can’t afford to go to the doctor/dentist/eye doctor or travel extensively by plane (and other rich people activities) out of fear and then hiding their fear under the bluster of hatred? Or are they just vacuous? These two buddies of mine are not simpletons. One has spent extensive time in analysis, so you would think he’d have some capacity to look inward. The other experienced a stint of poverty for a few years. I just don’t get it.

  37. @Brian Keller – while perhaps not as conservative as you might be, I certainly felt a lot of commonality with the points you made. There is simply so little room left for kindness let alone respectfulness in discourse these days. Apostates are no longer welcome anywhere.

    @Anon – what a wonderful posting. In addition to posting comments, I’d encourage you to blog on your own about just these type of experiences and conclusions you’ve drawn from living them. I’ve known only a few trans-gendered people well enough to speak in confidence so I found your contribution quite illuminating.

  38. Mr. Greer,

    Here at Prestigious Mid-Western Research University, the ambient rage is so thick you can cut it with a knife and spread it on toast. Periodic outbursts against fascism or patriarchy or whatever are almost as common as the emergency phones every five yards. A few months ago an article appeared in the campus newspaper that demanded that the Chancellor expropriate the fraternity houses and turn them into free housing for female students and students of color.

    Yet, it is ironic to see who really counts around here because, meanwhile, it does not seem to dawn on any of the activists here, faculty and student alike, that all the slave wage workers in the dining halls, cafes, and (I am not kidding) candy stores are almost uniformly of the same race, and from the same miserable neighborhood nearby. Indeed, last year, one of those workers was murdered by her domestic partner– an atrocity that ticked all the socio-economic boxes. I read about it in the local paper. There was parsimonious blurb in the campus newspaper mentioned above. What’s more, there was no outrage. No fundraisers for the poor lady’s children. No candelit vigil. One can only imagine what sort of extravaganza would ensue if a flaxen haired undergrad, male or female, were murdered…

  39. I think every country gets such a president, what he deserves – Trump – a clown who says something else and something else make.

    The US problem is that you do not have public health at such a level to treat mentally ill people, which almost all other states in the world do.

    Even though I feel a strong magical line for what is happening mainly in the US and the work of one chosen nation who does not hesitate to use human sacrifices to achieve their goals.

  40. You briefly acknowledged it already, but I want to reiterate that the obnoxious tantrums are happening everywhere. My family is a good case in point.

    Prior to 2008 and for as long as I can remember, most members of my family were pretty conservative but not particularly vocal about it. A serious political conversation might be had once a month and no one cared much if there was a difference of opinion. Then 2008 hits, Obama wins, and since then it has been a continuous stream of complaining and purveying of every conspiracy theory in the book. Somehow I thought Trump winning would allow them relax a little, but no dice. Not wanting to endlessly complain about liberals has gotten me labeled a communist on more than one occasion. This all from people whose big problem with society is that people have different opinions than they do. No immigrants/outsourcing took their jobs. No SJWs pulled an internet lynching. People are just pissed off for some reason, even when politically they are getting exactly what they asked for.

    Note that I didn’t vote for Hillary and was not particularly upset she lost.

  41. Now that I think about it, the nearly continuous rage of TDS is very strange. Is there an opposite of a glamour– i.e. a way to invoke constant rage against oneself in certain targeted individuals? Trump seems to have a natural talent for it…

  42. The obsession about Donald Trump has abated in Europe, but it is still visible. In the biggest bookstore in my city, there is a placard, which says “Donald Trump doesn’t like to read books.” And regarding the current left in general, the symbols and propaganda slogans and catchwords oif the current social justice warrior left is becoming ubiquitous, not only in the run-up to the election of the EU Parliament to the exclusion of proposing actual policy choices, but elsewhere, too.

    I don’t understand at all why the rage and the obsession is focussed on Trmp specially. Maybe it is because his style of talking and acting is markedly non-bourgeois.

  43. I am also skeptical about transsexualism. Genetically gender goes very deep, and changing genitals might convince society that you are a different gender, but it doesn’t convince your body. At the same time, I understand that the psychological phenomenon of gender dysphoria exists and probably has always existed.
    I would caution you about identifying Democrats with their most extreme members; many Democrats don’t know what “woke” means, but they vote liberal because they believe in social justice. Politics is a strange art and difficult for non-politicians to always understand.

  44. Hi JMG,
    I’ve been reading your blogs regularly for over 10 years now, own several of your books, you sit firmly amongst my favorite authors, and you have led me to a path of personal spirituality that has made my life so much richer. Thank you for your writing! (Putting this into words has made me realize it has been awhile since I hit up the tip jar… hmmm… I’ll be fixing that…)
    Anyway, I’ve posted quite sparingly over the years, and for whatever reason I seem to be more compelled to contribute to the comments when I have some disagreement with what you’ve written – or rather when the subjective experience described in your writing differs slightly from my own subjective experience.  Admittedly, this is quite rare.
    I’d just like to add a data point to the discussion regarding political rage. I live in rural Southwestern Pennsylvania and work in Northern West Virginia. Its Trump country through and through. Probably the exact polar opposite of the environment experienced in a large coastal city. I live and work with a lot of good people who are Trump supporters. I also have a lot of salary class friends that live in and around Pittsburgh and regularly take to social media to express their blind anti-trump hate, and so I do understand the type of person you describe in the post, and I agree with most everything you laid out.
    My one disagreement (perhaps its due to the type of interactions my geographical location and manufacturing jobs have afforded me), is with the idea that this rage against Trump is something on a different level than political hate and anger in the past.
    Shrill democratic (mostly) women now parade down the imagined streets of Presidential Hateopolis proclaiming that Trump is evil because he is a Nazi fascist who colluded with the Russians, and takes delight in torturing immigrant children. For eight years I watched gruff middle aged men squat on the corners of the same streets, spit chewing tobacco on the sidewalk, and proclaim that that Obama was evil because he was a Muslim who wasn’t born in this country, was going to give all of their money away to African-Americans on welfare, and was going to confiscate all of their firearms. I’ve had more than one farmer who came to purchase hay from me mention how we needed to band together with other local farmers and be ready for when Obama’s goons came to take our guns. I still remember the reaction amongst the men who worked in the limestone mine with me on the day Obama was elected – represented appropriately by the one man who walked up to me sputtering “I can’t believe we put a n****r in the White House!”.
    As I write this, I’m starting to realize that maybe the distinction isn’t in the level of deluded anger and hate that both groups reached in imagining the president as the most evil man in the history of evil, but instead in the way they’ve reacted to those convictions.
    Instead of yelling and screaming and whining and expecting that their political fairy-godmother would make everything right again, these deluded (mostly) men anchored their anger and hatred in reality; they were conspiring to band together and take action, whether it was organizing local farmers into militias, forming the tea party, or simply resolving hard to vote against the Democrats next time. This seems to jive with your previous comments regarding the threat for civil war and how that threat has significantly diminished with Trump’s election. I would agree.
    I think I can get behind the idea that the sheer level of entitlement of the raging anti-Trumpers is unprecedented, but certainly not (in my experience here in very rural Appalachia) the level of delusional anger and hate toward their president/government.

  45. David, by the lake, @2:11pm,

    My interpretation of that snippet is that the author explains to their compatriots the breakthrough — the recognition that those who grant the privileges are the malefactors, not those who receive them — that led them out of the individualist idealism of hating the players and into the wider materialist perspective of hating the Rescue Game.

  46. I see this as a continuing decay of empathy in our society. The rise of phone zombies, and all of the social implications of an inward experience reinforce this subjective reality. It’s probably pushing a significant portion of the population into DSM diagnoses of a personality disorder, for which the hallmark symptom is a lack of the ability to feel empathy. Anyone who’s ever dealt with a someone diagnosed as such know the futility in changing their behaviors, it just doesn’t happen. Stir in some politics, social justice, rage(another hallmark), fascination with sexuality, and sexual deviance(yet another hallmark) and you have a very significant portion of society in a very sick state.

  47. John–

    One of the notions that I’ve had pertaining to the state of affairs today, while not fully explanatory of all manifestations of what we’re witnessing, remains in my opinion a reasonable hypothesis. Namely, that what we are seeing is the unraveling of the empire.

    If we think of how multi-cultural empires are held together, by force (physical or economic) and by common benefits of imperial tribute from the outside, and then think on what occurs as that empire comes apart, I would argue that what we see around us is not terribly outside-the-box.

    In Decline And Fall, you wrote about the differing cultures of the US and their battle for dominance. Sociologists frequently talk about the different cultural nations within this country. The glue which has held us together ever since the defeated revolution of 1861-65 has been the rise of the American Empire and the benefits flowing all of us as a result of that hegemony, especially in the wake of WWII. And now that hegemony is collapsing.

    I would suggest that the regional, cultural, and disparate tensions and conflicts which stressed the fabric of the young nation from the get-go were merely papered over by our rise to empire (aided, of course, by the military victory of the Federal government in the US Civil War), but never resolved. And now that the benefits of our empire are waning, those tensions are rising again to the surface and breaking into the open, like some long-suppressed childhood incident suddenly remembered.

    Our challenge, as I see it, is to figure out how to live together without one group having to dominate the others, or, in the alternative, figure out how to separate in some kind of peaceable fashion without the violence and bloodshed that typically accompanies such dissolution. In the end, I think, we are far less compatible than we believed, but if we are willing to allow others to live differently–and not be concerned about the gender of their sexual partners or the pronouns they happen to utilize–then perhaps we can yet get along reasonably enough. To tie back into your post a bit, we cannot force our subjective views onto others, but we have the option of working out reasonable compromises to allow differing subjective views to inhabit the same society.

    Of course, to do that we have to acknowledge our predicament. And that means acknowledging that 1) the US is and has been an empire, 2) that empire is going to die and is in the process of dying, and 3) the death of that empire is a Big Deal and things will have to be different from here on out.

  48. If Trump wins the next election in a landslide ,as is looking likely given the losing strategy pursued by the democrats, do you think it is likely that he may double down on punishing the concentrated blue zones that are showing so much rage toward him. Given the strong possibility of a recession he could use his mandate to direct resources towards his supporters and aways from his enemies as has been common in history. The things he has done so far are more like little jabs to the blue states like removing interest deductions on a portions of expensive ( mostly coastal) mortgages. Things like reallocating federal transportation spending, and redirecting federal agency mortgage guarantees would be interesting. Another easy one would be cutting off the flow of electricity from the Bonneville Power Administration to California. I see interesting times ahead.

  49. “The opposite of one bad idea is usually another bad idea, and there’s nothing to be gained by swinging from an unbalanced focus on one side of a complicated dynamic to an unbalanced focus on the other. ”

    Lately I’ve been talking to some people on the right about my dissatisfaction with the Democrats and my reluctance to embrace some of the accepted “truths” of the left. They’ve encouraged me to take the red pill or to have my “walk away” moment. My reply is that I’m not looking to replace one narrow blindered way of looking at the world with another. It really seems to me that much of the rage we’re seeing -on both sides- is due to people’s inability to fathom that anyone could legitimately disagree with them. If disagreement exists it can only be due to lack of facts, misinformation, or serious character flaw. The notion that reasonable minds could disagree doesn’t seem to be a “thing” anymore.

  50. I think a data point is relevant here:

    When I’m out and about in liberal spaces I cannot describe the vile energy directed at me. The forced little smiles, the outright hostility and nasty energy. This is especially bad when I’m out riding my bicycle or walking in the woods. At best, Leftists tend to be stiffly polite towards me. In stark contrast, Trump voters and blue collar folks consistently treat me decently, are nice and polite and willing to even be friend with a trans woman with face tattoos.

    Judging from my personal experiences, I seriously think that if Trump were to catch the trans and start identifying as Donna a lot of nice liberals would go out that very night and murder a transperson. While that may read as a grotesque parody, I mean it with the utmost seriousness. People gave me consistently better vibes while I was a filthy, smelly, obnoxious, white, gentrifying squatter punk in poor and crime-ridden black neighborhoods in New Orleans and Oakland CA then I get now in the nice suburbs.

    I can think of no method more successful at alienating me, and presumably other visible minorities, from the Leftist establishment.

  51. @David by the Lake LOL what you copied and pasted…..it is gobbledey gook. I’m come to see the social justice language similar to the phrases cults use. Cults have specialized words and meanings for words that only the insiders know. If you misuse the words, the other members condemn you. A gathering of members requires the repeating of the key phrases and words to show cohesiveness.

    Following any of their thoughts out to conclusion makes them go crazy. Take the women sports JMG described. If transgender women play women’s sports, where are women with XX chromosomes supposed to compete with each other? They now have been run out of sports by women with XY chromosomes. Yeesh.

  52. HI JMG

    Well, what you describre I think is a global phenomenon, I do not live in US but I think the same dynamic is happening at least in the developed countries; and not only in the left…

    But I have a question for you: could be that the optimization algorithms (AI) embedded in the social networks, search engines, video and photo platforms, with the “click maximization” strategies are driving a part of the “addictive” nature of rage, and select, blindly, for the content that reinforce the loop of radicalization and rage against the “other” in a context of collective pain?

    Or in other words: are the AI maximization systems more and more embedded in the social networks makes the whole social system more and more fragile? . So, more than merely a psi-op by the CIA or NSA as in the arab spring or colour revolutions, etc,,, is, at least in part, this an undesirable consequence of technology as many others?

    Cheers
    David

  53. Another binary bites the dust. Thanks, JMG.

    You really hit the nail on the head in comparing SJW’s to Pope-worshipping Catholics. There’s something very Magian and Christian about their obsession with right belief over right action, and the attitude of “do as I say, not as I do” has become very pervasive, as the recent unwillingness of certain progressives to allow immigrants into their sanctuary cities has shewn us. I guess as long as they invite their “woke” Christ into their bleeding hearts, they will be spared from the hellfire of their vindictive, rage junkie comrades — provided, of course, that their comrades BELIEVE that they believe in the one true faith of social justice. Otherwise, the supposedly tolerant ones will no longer tolerate them. Just like the stereotypical Christian: love thy neighbor, unless they’re an infidel — then crucify them!

  54. JMG – your essay really got to me this time.

    1. Thank’s for making it clear why i hate women’s empowerment books from contemporary pop culture, which are the polar opposite of the equally bad advice given to the previous generation(s) of women: to get along and knuckle under. I’ve seen nothing outside of these extremes presented in main stream media, or, if a beneficial, practical alternative course of action was presented it was ignored, belittled or presented in a shallow & impractical manner.

    2. Best picture of Trump, ever! I am tired of seeing his photo all over the place, but this one is a welcome change.

    3. The train wreck that the social justice movement turned into really soured me on a lot of causes over the past several decades. Causes that were once worthwhile and inspiring became too narrow and warped in focus and morphed into something unrecognizable and divisive, sometimes becoming saccharine and fluffy, sometimes turning into something resembling a rabid cornered wolverine – the original purpose now a carnival shell game, or, glossy wrapping paper, or, worse. In particular, I’m thinking about a particular aspect of the women’s rights movement back in Emother who had to go back to work for financial reasons, or, on the other ‘side’ well-off career women (who could afford a full-time nanny, if she chose to have children) who could not understand why a young mother would WANT to stay home with a new baby; these scenarios and many others pretty well derailed an effective and fair movement where so much more could have been accomplished, and that could have been good for a broader societal spectrum of women – and men.

    4. Re – RAGE. Rage has been fodder for distraction and mind-shaping for decades, most notably on right-wing media, which has been fairly effective in using to advance particular aims. The social justice ‘warriors’ of the left appear to have fallen into the tar pit of impotent rage. EESH.

  55. Arkansas, true enough. It’s easy to be clear-headed about something when you’re not in the middle of it!

    C33, I do indeed remember the rage of the Obama years, just as I remember the rage that was flung against George W. Bush — I knew people who literally couldn’t walk past a picture of the man without shrieking obscenities at it. My take is that what we’re seeing now, in the era of Trump, has taken things a major step further into previously unplumbed depths. You’re free to disagree with that, of course, but that’s my take. As for your second point, permit me to point out that you don’t get to tell me what my political alignment is; I decide that. You’re engaging in the classic dishonesty of the extremist — the insistence that what’s not all the way over to one side must be all the way over to the other.

    Fenian, you’re welcome. Yeah, I know — I used to vote Democrat rather more often than not, once upon a time.

    Twin Ruler, but it’s an imperfect solipsism. The true solipsist doesn’t care what other people think because he thinks they don’t actually exist. What we’ve got are faux solipsists who insist that they create their own reality and then yell at any part of their reality that doesn’t hurry up and do what they want.

    David BTL, I’m quite sure that Trump is going out of his way to keep his opponents in a state of blind fury. He’s an experienced businessman, and he’s got to know that the best way to get someone to do stupid things is to keep them so wrapped up in their own emotions that they lose track of everything else.

    Onething, thank you! I hope you’re feeling better now.

    NotSoSilentBob, with regard to the popular vote, er, you do know that that’s not how we elect presidents in this country, right? As for the transgender thing, yeah, it’s really odd. By the identical logic I could declare that I now identify as a rhinoceros and should therefore be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

    John, oh, granted. In particular, the cultivation of anger as a way of feeling empowered has been increasingly popular among privileged white women for more than a decade now. I’m not sure what to say about the Google thing — I’ll talk to my IT person about it.

    Phutatorius, I’m not sure he quite manages once a day. I’m glad to see his trade policies — sensible tariffs and an end to predatory “free trade” agreements are desperately needed to pull the US working class out of destitution and misery — and he’s right about illegal immigration, of course, but a lot of his other policies leave me unimpressed. Mind you, I’m even less impressed with what the Dems are offering these days, but if they ever get around to extracting their heads from between their cheeks and offer something new, I’ll certainly consider it.

    Nancy, thank you. That’s the damnable thing about positive thinking — in some contexts, it works very, very well. People who feel helpless and hopeless can turn their lives around and blossom with a good dose of old-fashioned New Thought. The problems seem to creep in when it gets into the hands of the privileged, who generally already have an overdeveloped sense of entitlement.

    Violet, that strikes me as a very cogent way of discussing the matter.

    David, thank you for this. That book sounds like something a lot of people need to read. I don’t know if you have any contact with the authors, but if they’d like a blurb for publicity, I’d be more than willing to provide one.

    Brian, spot on. In fact, I’d take it further than that — the fixation on symbolic issues and on absolute division is a great advantage to the elites, as it keeps the peons so busy shrieking at each other that they never get around to doing anything that might inconvenience their masters.

    Vijay, you might want to read the comment thread on this ugly little cartoon, this essay, and this one, just for starters. I could post a dozen more like these, easily.

    Karen, I ain’t arguing. If we had real Democrats, Trump wouldn’t be in the White House now. Of course neither would Hillary Clinton…

    Monster, you’re welcome. You might consider taking your wife out for the evening and never, not even once, mention anything even slightly related to politics.

    KevPilot, no question, there’s a lot of rage on both sides. I’d agree that political rage culture in this country dates back to the Clinton era, and the systematic abandonment of the working class by the Democratic Party under Bill Clinton’s leadership played a very large role in launching it. My take, though, is that the reaction to Trump is different in kind, not simply in volume, from the rancor flung at Clinton, Bush, and Obama. As for the future, I’m actually more sanguine than you are; I compare our current situation to the three previous crises in our national life — the ones that blew up in 1776, 1860, and 1933 — and see the rage reaching a crescendo, then descending into sullen grumblings that die out with the generation that engaged in them. But we’ll see.

    Mac, it’s not impossible that screaming about the Evil Orange Man is a way to keep from thinking about those other things…

    Denys, yes, I saw that. I’m not a great fan of Paglia, but I’m delighted that the college has the guts to tell the bully brigade to put a sock in it.

    Packshaud, I wish I could disagree.

    Anon, thank you for writing this. For what it’s worth, all the transgender people with whom I’ve discussed these issues agree with you. None of my trans friends are in favor of the attempts to shame and bully lesbians into having sex with people with penises; my encounters with those who are in favor of this have been entirely online. I hope that you find ways to keep speaking out despite the pressures that are brought to bear to silence viewpoints like yours; what you’re saying is important, and deserves to be heard.

    Josh, er, did you read my entire post? I stated in so many words that there are also rage junkies on the Right; it’s simply been my experience so far that right now, there are more of them on the Left. It also seems to me, as I noted in responding to C33, that the reaction to Trump has gone further, and in very disturbing ways, from the rancor directed at Clinton, Bush, and Obama.

    Scotlyn, of course; here as always, the opposite of one bad idea is another bad idea. It’s unhelpful to bottle up one’s anger; it’s also unhelpful to use it as an addictive drug or, if you will, a form of emotional masturbation — and the latter, to my mind, is what we’re seeing in the Trump-hating contingent just now.

  56. @Pogonip: “There wasn’t this Satanic hatred just because [Obama] existed; not once in 8 years did I see anything encouraging his assassination or demanding the dismantling of the electoral college.”

    Certainly there was. If you never heard of online rhetoric wishing for his assassination (or future “execution” for the “treason” of being a winning black Democrat), you were consuming a very limited media diet. There was a lot of it. Wikipedia has a page listing threats and active plots that led to prosecutions (several, though not all, by white ultrarightists). There was no reason for rabid Obama-haters to attack the Electoral College, since he had won the popular vote; instead, they focused on attacking the franchise itself, as allowing “illegitimate” voting by brown and black types.

  57. @SteveT

    I’ve noticed the 180 among friends and family. I’ve also noticed that they are completely unaware that they’ve done a 180. I’ve quit pointing it out because that deer in the headlights look that I get in response is just too sad to gaze upon.

  58. John—

    Another thing that stuck me about that Tumblr post. The author mentioned being a student at a university. When I was in college, back in the Neolithic nineties, people were at a college in order to, well, learn something. Attend classes and labs. Acquire knowledge. I don’t recall even knowing who the college president was, much less trying to get him fired. How would that have been relevant to my degree(s)?

    Things appear to have changed.

    My daughter has friends who are of the gender-fluid variety. We had lunch one day with one of them (Autumn, sometimes Adam, but a very nice young lady) and I was simply dumbstruck as her friend was telling me of her relationship issues back at college with a trans-boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend) who apparently just wanted her to be available to demonstrate his “his-ness” but otherwise spent the entire time hanging around and playing video games. And this person was shocked, shocked I tell you, when (trans)-he was placed one academic probation for the second straight semester. And complained about it. I’m looking at the two of them across the table and going, “ so….classes?” And they just shook their heads. Apparently not a priority of his.

    I am admittedly perplexed by the perspectives of some of these folks.

  59. I’m a day late because I’ve been busy but I want to thank you for the consideration expressed in this post touching on some very flash-point topics in the LGBT community. As a middle-aged lesbian who has lived with gender dysphoria since my childhood, I’ve found myself torn between two ideologies becoming more and more distant and, yes, enraged. On one hand, extremist transgender ideology says if you experience dysphoria you are trans and should transition and identify as the opposite sex and that will solve your problems (and this includes children as young as 2 and 3) — and, yes, if you say you are a man you are a man, if you say you are a woman you are woman, end of story. On the other hand, extremist feminism leaves no room for dysphoric people, for the gay men and lesbians who have historically crossed gender roles with impunity, for the transgender people who do need to transition for their sanity, or even for people who are still navigating their sexuality and figuring out if they are gay or straight or bi.

    The “cotton ceiling” is the manifestation of one extreme, found mostly online on Tumblr and Twitter, and most of the proponents of the “cotton ceiling” are heterosexual males who have deep-seated fetishes about lesbians. I have trouble acknowledging them as trans women because they are not like the trans women I have personally known – they are not just trying to live their best lives in the most comfortable way they can. They have gotten women’s shelters defunded, they have gotten female speakers no-platformed and scientific studies silenced, they have closed down women’s libraries. If you speak of biological reality at all they will label you a “TERF” (trans-exclusive radical feminist, though the word is slapped on just about anyone who mentions physical bodies as realities) and Twitter has been especially harsh on suspending or banning those “TERFS”. I don’t think any reasonable trans person would want any of this — none of this helps further trans acceptance and accommodations.

    On the other hand, there are a lot of women who are being rallied around radical feminist writings from the 70’s and 80’s. Some of this theory is very, very good and indeed useful, but a lot of it is hard to understand, takes deep reading, and can, when not deeply read and understood, viciously encourage anger and division between the sexes. The most angry of these young women will post pictures of trans people to make fun of their appearance, use slurs with impunity, and most of the time will eventually show their true homophobic as well as transphobic colors, not to mention an almost frighting amount of hatred towards men in general. I don’t think any reasonable woman or lesbian wants any of this — none of it helps women and lesbians be seen as reasonable, thoughtful people who can understand others’ individual sufferings.

    But both groups currently have the culture of rage urging them on. I’ve been on tumblr for seven years and have watched the war grow louder and louder. I lost two of my best friends because of the divide. I’ve given up on both the popular LGBT community and the feminist community, though now and then I see sparks of reasonable thinkers possibly creating bridges between them. Many, many people, both gay and trans, want to have reasonable discussions of what we have in common, from our relationships with our bodies, to our relationships with gender roles, to our relationships with greater society and our shared history. But all of that is drowned out in shouts of “Trans women ARE women!” “Down with cis!” “Kill all TERFs!” and the transphobic slurs from the other side.

    Every time a straight person acknowledges any awareness and understanding of this issue and the difficulties dealing with it, I’m exceedingly grateful. When I was growing up, the LGBT community promised an ideal of a big happy family — a little queer, sure, but a family. The last five years, especially, have torn that family to pieces. People say Drop the T, Drop the L, Drop the G. People say “Everyone is a little queer!” with no respect to homosexual orientations. All in the name of being “progressive”, and all due to a lot of unrestrained anger. To say the least, it’s not helping anyone. Yes, we have gay marriage. We’re working on bathrooms where everyone can feel safe. But we are in such a mess right now.

    I was a Hillary supporter in 2016 partly because she was a woman and partly because Donald Trump seemed a bit of a joke for this old-time David Letterman fan. I had no idea how anyone could ever vote for him, no less friends and family members and my surrounding community. But since reading here I’ve come to understand that exact feeling of being left out from all the “progressiveness” and left behind, partly due to my experiences with LGBT social justice online, but mostly due to suddenly becoming aware of the loudness, the repetition, the anger, and the lack of actual listening and compassion from either side.

  60. Thank you Mr. Greer. I thought that book sounded like something in line with your sort of thinking. I hang out on the sidelines of various cyber communities that I see as engaged in more or less the same vast project of trying to remake human culture to better suit the future before us, though often these communities are focusing through different lenses. When I can I like to be able to try and bring such groups together. While I don’t know the authors personally I don’t think I’ll have any difficulty connecting with them to pass along your offer of a publicity blurb for the book. That would be awesome if it works out!

  61. Hi John Michael,

    Fascinating, and yes I too have wondered why male players are allowed to compete against females in female leagues. Mate, some of them are big and I’d be troubled about facing them off.

    I’m required to be objective and keep a cool head, but I encounter people in the world in a high state of emotion. The word ‘high’ is appropriate because it is a reaction for them that becomes a drug for them and I’ve noted that some look for their fix as a method of catharsis. But I’m expected to keep cool. Do they not realise that if things were otherwise and the social niceties were relaxed (as does happen from time to time in all civilisations), I could clop them one?

    There is no such thing as a free lunch for those people, and even more importantly they’d do well to recall the golden meme of: “Do Unto Others”. It is not to be lightly disregarded.

    Interestingly too, I learned martial arts so as to learn how carry myself so as to not to get into fights, and not the other way around. People look for different things when they travel on that path.

    I have a suspicion that what we are seeing is a building of pressure within society as everyone’s perquisites and wealth are declining. It would be wise for people to approach this decline with a sense of good grace under pressure. Instead we have wide scale acts of Thaumaturgy being practiced to whip up emotions – and this is what ya get. It needn’t be that way.

    Cheers

    Chris

  62. @ Anon, Many thanks for your comment! I can definitely sympathize with your experiences.

    @ Will J, Thank you! In my experience those on the right tend to be much less rigid than those on the left. There may be a theoretical overemphasis on the material, but in practice I see it attended to with less of an obsessive quality than I see regularly in leftist spaces. As for your point about attraction, I can only agree. I can still remember when hanging out in LGBT spaces was fun and liberating. Now? It’s like going to the DMV.

  63. Regarding people declaring themselves unicorns, I work in a middle school, and got a new batch of 6th graders (aged 11 and 12) for an elective a few weeks ago. As I called the roll, I asked people to correct me if I said their names wrong, or if they preferred a nickname other than their legal name. One girl said she wanted to be called “Jo-Beef”. Okey dokey. Later I asked about the nickname “Well, in 4th and 5th grade, I used to be a cow, and that’s what my family started calling me.” Used to be a cow? “Yeah, you know, the tail, and ears…I wore that to school. I don’t anymore.”
    We have a surprising number of girls wearing animal tails and ears to school, others who want to use he/him pronouns and call themselves masculine names. Others who prefer they/them pronouns and give themselves gender neutral names. We have very few boys who are going the other direction- I recall one in the last 5 years, but there have been dozens of girls in that time, in a school of 650.
    I think we have made it so difficult to be a girl in this culture that people decide if they can’t win the game, they won’t play. For example, my daughter felt enormous pressure: to get good grades but not appear to be working hard, have good hair, nice nails, make-up and wardrobe, but not be stuck on her appearance, to be nice but not a push-over, smart but not a know-it-all, assertive but not aggressive, pretty but not conceited, thin but not skinny, curvaceous but not fat. She nearly lost her mind. My son, on the other hand, does almost enough school work to keep us off his back, and showers almost every day, and figures he’s fine.
    My daughter has not taken to wearing a tail and ears, or asking us to change her pronouns, but I can completely see how people think it’s an idea worth trying.
    About the anger- I usually figure anger is a secondary emotion- we get mad as a response to fear. People in my demographic (white, yoga-practicing, college educated, parent, liberal) are scared of what is happening, and what is coming. The anger is coming out, but what is under it is terror.

  64. Words sometimes leave a bit to be desired and betray us a bit. Moderate is used more or less interchangeably with centrist. Your wording sometimes reminds me of the arguments used by the hoi oligoi which, like Hilary Clinton, portray themselves as exactly that. I remember some 3 dimensional metaphors that you used in the archdruid report: they were more powerful IMHO.

  65. Yesterday I was trying to avoid defaulting to my usual state of road rage and meditating on a generic horoscope that compared anger to indulging in ice cream. Ice cream feels good but it’s not healthy. Your commentary today was very helpful in explaining the feeling of power which is the reason it feels good. This also means anger can be useful tool in pointing out uncomfortable repressed feelings. I’m starting to understand why I have an unusual amount of empathy for soldiers with PTSD even though I’ve never been in the military. Now I’m very curious about the silence that follows. Thank you.

  66. “anger is empowering because it makes you feel powerful.”
    It also leaves them very lonely , the ” there she goes again ” fairly rapidly turns into “bugger this I’m off “

  67. I’m looking forward to the next installment!

    I think Packshaud, Kimberly Steele, and David BTL have got hold of a piece of it: resources.

    Probably a lot of things playing in: I remember the palpable right-wing paranoia whirling around Waco and Ruby Ridge in the 90s. It seemed to possess some of my loved ones, and give them an otherwise-lacking sense of urgency and purpose. I see an element of that in the current madness. Eric Hoffer wasn’t wrong.

    But resources… there’s a ring of truth there, too.

    In the six months since the hurricane, our county has spent more than twice its annual budget on debris removal alone. There are still people living in tents. ~15-20% of our population has moved away, for lack of housing. The entire watershed for our reservoir is slowly flooding (in three counties) because the feeder creeks are choked with debris (the task of clearing them is gargantuan)– every inch of rain eats up a few more houses– in some places concrete slabs are cracking and water is welling up through the floors. And there’s no hint of an aid package passing congress. The previous record length of time for congress putting a hurricane disaster aid package through was 74 days for hurricane Sandy. Michael? We’re at 189 days and counting. Where are those resources, that were available after previous hurricanes? People here feel quite thoroughly forgotten. It’s not clear how we’ll pay our policemen, firefighters, and road crews in the coming years.

    But any post on the subject on, say, Facebook, gets the same round of drearily predictable responses:
    1) Your area voted for Trump. You deserve to suffer.
    2) It’s the Democrats’ fault. They’re stalling because we vote Republican.
    3) Puerto Rico is still a mess from the last hurricane. They’re more deserving than you.
    4) It’s climate change, you deserve it for voting Republican.
    5) Trump wants the wall. You get nothing (and you all deserve it for voting for him).

    None of which makes sense. But it blinks into focus rather nicely, looked at through the lens of competition for resources. It seems pretty clear, from precedent, that disaster aid is routine, not partisan. But now, suddenly, it’s not. It’s all about who you voted for, and whether or not you deserve it. It’s reminiscent of estranged siblings fighting over their parents’ estate.

  68. Wonderful essay, sign of the times to be sure. If you haven’t seen it already James Corbett did a funny and insightful 3 minute summary of ‘Russiagate’ : https://youtu.be/alt5kD7ei1I?t=1 They’ll go after his taxes next, which of course are likely spotless because he can afford a team of accountants to make sure they always are. We’ll see how that will drag out.

    Meanwhile, Trump has outdone any of his predecessors in throwing the environment under the bus, and that’s going to come back to bite him in a mean way I suspect soon. If not then peak oil will shortly thereafter and he’ll be the greatest bag holder in history. No one will want to be President in 2020 once things start shaking down.

  69. The Worst Off Man in the World https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/2011-07-22

    I think the rage is getting unhinged because the predicaments of our time are clearly perceived but still only subconsciously. Anger is a goal directed emotion – when the offence is removed it goes away. If it can’t be removed, it becomes nebulous rage just searching for something to go off on. And when the threat to your identity and life as you conceive it can only be destroyed along with the things that gave you your identity and way of life…

    At this particular time the left is most hard on the ropes because the left ideologies are based on ever expanding freedom and rights and comforts to allow equality to all – including the natural world, historically. As real resources and energy per capita contract, they have to pillage the environment and poorer people harder to maintain let alone expand comforts – but they don’t do that!. And if they don’t pillage, then loss of their “rights” (where strawberries in winter, cars and international travel are now human rights). Cognitive dissonance.

    The right at least can still retreat into the time honoured position of I Got Mine because citizenship, worked harder, god on my side, something something, still. Or that climate change is a myth. The right rage will really come back when? When they turn the taps as hard as possible and still nothing comes, or when the environment really pummels them back in a way that they can’t claim is merely gubmint neglect (actually the left likes to claim this one too)?

  70. Though a news junkie since I was eight years old, I have been on a news moratorium for six weeks, ongoing. It is so much infotainment or propoganda, I said. I could not listen to neoliberal corp media and Dems generally spin about justifying whatever, in response to the dud I long expected the Mueller report to be.

    My own rage is one of the reasons for my news moratorium. Misdirected rage, not just about politics but also ecological realities and business as usual – in my relative helplessness, redirected at myself. It is too much.

    Busy now with garden, building and remodeling work, dreaming of a non-profit dedicated to a new economy taking care of people and the earth, and getting married….I am happy to let my fellow Americans stew awhile, while I work on my life.

  71. A few observations, in no particular order.

    Was it not one of the fundamental principles of feminism that sex must never be coerced? No more arranged marriages, no more making excuses for rape, no more police ignoring forced prostitution. Furthermore, a lesbian, by definition, takes no pleasure from penetrative sex and is not mutual giving and receiving of pleasure the whole point of such an encounter?

    My complaint about the far left, ever since the days of SDS in the 60s is that they need to figure out what country they are living in. The USA is not Czarist Russia and they are not Vladimir Lenin, nor his reincarnation. OTOH, my complaint about the far right is quite simply that they need to grow up. No, the Prosperity Gospel won’t make you a billionaire, if you are an adult you DO need to clean up after yourself, and it is not everyone else’s job to “support” the economy by spending money we don’t have on crap we don’t need.

    I am afraid I have not much emotion to spare for gender benders or for over privileged foolish women as I have been the last few days mourning the (partial) loss of Notre Dame. It gives me no pleasure to say that I am not at all surprised. Whatever one’s opinion about Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, might be, the Great Churches are a standing offense to the sorts of people who think that buying and selling, or sitting around discussing philosophy over coffee or mint tea, matter more than building and making. Whether those people are 1%ers with ten mansions around the world, or day laboring layabouts or glad-handing salespersons, or overpaid office fauna, an attitude common to all of them seems to be a corrosive envy of the sublime products human effort, combined with unbelievable effrontery.

    I am also horrified by the arrest of Mr. Assange in a staged demonstration of outright brutality. No one seems to understand how dangerous is the precedent being set. What is to prevent members of, for example, a very strict religious sect, from arresting all around the world women wearing two piece bathing suits?

    I do, of course, understand that our host will write about what he likes.

    I agree with the posters above who pointed out that much of the rage our host discussed is a symptom of declining prospects and diminishing empire–another reason NOT to go around the world arresting folks who are not American citizens. The right has a much more straightforward response, grab what they can while they can.

  72. James, that seems like a reasonable analysis. Those societies that seem to have done the best job of handling human sexual variation seem to have done it via some version of your option (b); it may be imperfect, but there probably isn’t a perfect answer, not least because there are no perfect people.

    Dewey, first of all, if you think I’m saying that hate and anger are bad, you’ve got a short memory — do you recall the discussion in my essay Hate is the New Sex? Second, if you really think it’s only the right that’s been talking about eliminating its opponents, you really need to get out more. Take in some of the social justice essays about how “whiteness” needs to be abolished, for starters, or for that matter the atheists who are insisting that religion, all religion, should be abolished by law. Sure, they’re not talking about weaponizing bikers; they’re talking about weaponizing the government itself. Which would you rather face?

    Will J, I’ve seen the same thing repeatedly: people who were pretty solidly opposed to Trump and all his works gradually deciding that the alternative is even worse. As for the Craig indictment, no question, that’s going to be interesting; I also tend to thing that the current investigation into the FISA warrants may open up quite the can of worms. Still, we’ll see what actually turns up.

    Pogonip, hah! Good. In response to your question, though, I don’t know. This whole business is very tangled and troubling, and I don’t claim to have gotten to the root of it.

    RPC, interesting! I didn’t know that. I take it, though, that he could order all Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays, and then reverse that decision, as of course these things happened. Congratulations on having an intelligent and sensible daughter, by the way.

    David BTL, I think it means “I finally figured out that blaming people for being born light-skinned, male, or straight doesn’t actually accomplish anything.”

    Jennifer, that makes sense. As for the rise of Anti-Poke-Nosism, I’ve been seeing it too. I lurk on a range of forums, and it’s been interesting to watch the difference between the angry identity politics on leftward forums and pro-Trump forums such as r/The_Donald, where the attitude is that if you’re a Trump supporter they don’t care in the least what color your skin is, who you sleep with, etc.

    Will J, bingo. A person’s sexual orientation is what it is, and by that I don’t just mean gay/straight — what you’re attracted to is what you’re attracted to, period. That’s something I’ve experienced directly; I happen to be attracted to women who are rounder than current body fashions approve of, and back before my marriage, while I was dating, I took a certain amount of crap from women who thought I should be attracted to them when I wasn’t. Thus I’m sympathetic to the lesbians who are saying, “Look, I don’t care what you think you are, you don’t turn my crank.”

    Linnea, thanks for this. I think you’re mistaken, for what it’s worth; yes, I noted the rage flung at Obama during his two terms, and the rage flung at George W. Bush during his, and those seemed very similar to me. What’s going on now seems qualitatively different to me. Neither the Obama haters nor the Bush haters gave up everything else in their lives to focus every waking moment on obsessing about the object of their hatred; with Trump, to judge from what I’ve seen and heard, that’s become astonishingly common. It seems to me that that’s a warning sign to pay attention to.

    Steve, those are excellent points. You’re quite right, to begin with, that it’s about those people who claim the right to speak for the disadvantaged, and in many cases, may not even belong to the disadvantaged group — a lot of the yelling about the evils of racism that I’ve heard comes from people who are at least as lily-white as I am. (If family stories are to be believed, I’ve got more Native American ancestry than Elizabeth Warren, but that’s not saying much.) I’ve also been fascinated to watch the two parties switch sides — it’s been as dramatic on the GOP’s side as on the Dems,’ with the party that used to be all about invading foreign countries and wide-open free trade treaties being taken over by populists who want to bring the troops home and put sensible tariffs in place. The one difference is that at least some of the populists realize that they’re changing the course of their party.

    Robert, true, and that’s a very important point. The notion that one can redefine all of history based on one’s current feelings — “I feel this is bad, therefore everyone who ever lived should have seen it through my eyes and realized that it was bad, and since they didn’t, they’re all evil and their books should be banned” — is just as toxic as the notion that one can redefine people alive today in the same manner.

    Kimberly, I think that’s an important part of the picture. Status panic among those who fear they will soon be downwardly mobile is a huge factor in American public life today, and may well be one of the things people are using rage as a drug to avoid noticing. Beyond that? I wish I had a straightforward answer.

    Mister N, yep. I don’t do videos, but my wife took the time to watch that while doing research on a related topic a little while back, and had the same reaction you did.

    Millennial, doesn’t surprise me a bit. I remain convinced that a lot of social justice rhetoric is purely a way of signaling membership in the privileged classes, which is why compassion for (say) people of color generally gets directed solely toward those people of color who are in the middle and upper middle classes.

    Alepro, every nation engages in human sacrifice; it’s usually called “war,” but the other term is just as accurate. The US simply made the mistake of getting into the global empire business as the British Empire crashed and burned, so it’s doing a lot more of that just now; a lot of countries that have convinced themselves that they don’t have to worry about such things may have another think coming when the US imperial umbrella gets furled once and for all.

    David, many thanks for the data point. Would you call your family middle class or upper middle class, by any chance?

    E. Goldstein, I think it’s more conscious than that. My take is that Trump deliberately goes out of his way to whip people into a rage, because he knows that’ll make them stupid and therefore easier to defeat.

    Booklover, my guess is that you’ve put your finger on it. Trump doesn’t act like a member of the “good people.” He acts like a member of the working classes, and his ascendancy thus caused massive status panic in the bourgeoisie, whose very identity is founded on being “one up” on the working classes.

  73. @ JMG re: “I compare our current situation to the three previous crises in our national life — the ones that blew up in 1776, 1860, and 1933 — and see the rage reaching a crescendo, then descending into sullen grumblings that die out with the generation that engaged in them. But we’ll see. ”

    THANK YOU! That’s how I see it, too, but sometimes need reminding.

    And to Katsmama for a powerful insight. I’ve been aware of the Catch-22 for girls & women for a long time – my ex was a past master of what I call “overlapping “too’s.” That is, speaking to be heard was too aggressive, but speaking so it was acceptable was too soft and went unheard…. I’m putting this badly, I know, but I think you do know.

    John – the review of Weird of Hali – Innsmouth is on hold. I took Spot out of the cat hospital Monday after taking him in the Thursday before. He’s 16 years old, he has pancreatitis, and after the first antibiotic etc was on supportive care for the vast majority of that time. I could not get a decent prognosis from the vet, who made much of small bits of progress and downplayed such things as weight loss. I think she’s of the never-say-die persuasion. So he’s home and probably living out his last months here in comfort.

    I’m almost over the mental turmoil and Very Bad Day physically yesterday following that decision.

    BTW – re Dreamlands – loved it. But my word … someone fleeing town, expecting rough stuff, dressed in city lady clothes? No sturdy walking shoes and trousers? I’m older than she was, more fragile, and raised in a more bra-and-girdle-and-heels time, and even in the 1950s would have had jeans and sneakers. Oh, well, everyone to their own style. But it seemed quite impractical.

  74. Thanks for another great post!

    One of the most alienating things to me about the rage these days is how much of it seems to come from a self righteous place. Though it may be a misdirection, or self deception – who among the privileged in America these days could really have such a high regard of themselves to feel as one of the rebellious resistance at the vanguard of the protection of universal values such as truth, love, compassion etc…. battling evil itself on their prized wage-slave forged open pit mined magic rare earth metal machine rectangle.

    I’m reminded of the cliche of “the right side of history”, which seems to always be used in a dualistic sense, as in: “they might win, but we’re on the right side of history!” Which doubles as both a justification for ones action as well as an excuse for ones failure. God forbid history might have infinite sides, or at least as many sides as each individual who takes part in it.

    I wonder if the ascendancy of this historical dualism owes something to World War two still looming large in the collective psyche. Since there was such a self evidently good side (to the mind of most) it should just be a matter of picking the right side and then following its marching orders. The complex politics of the interwar period (which followed a more morally nuanced conflict) seem a universe away from the discourse these days…

  75. Violet,

    It’s rather interesting to me that so many in the LGBT community are getting twisted out of shape about people’s lack of attraction to trans people. I’m bi, and I tend to find trans people unattractive, post hormone treatment. I’m not sure why, but I do. The interesting thing is the number of people who attempt to argue this makes me trans-phobic, but ignore the fact I’m close friends with someone who’s trans.

    As for the political right, I think it has to do with the fact that the political left is watching their ideology fail, and are thus having a religious crisis. The right, meanwhile, can be more relaxed, since the universe is not proving them wrong about important things on a daily basis.

    All,

    I think I might know what the root of the rage is: we’re realizing we’ve been lied to. It’s not about any one thing in particular, but if you look at everything that’s come out since 2006, it’s becoming increasingly clear just how much of our worldviews are based around fictions which only make sense if we systematically suppress huge amounts of reality.

    We are facing everything we hid from ourselves during the Plutonian Era, and of course it’s a mess: there’s too much of it. At a societal level, but also at an individual level, we are all coming face to face with the shadow, with all the gunk we’ve hidden since 1930, and as it all comes out, the results are rather nasty. It’s all too easy to snap as you realize everything you believed in is wrong, and just how much you personally are responsible for the suffering in the world, that you only put up with something because you ignored so much of it.

    As for why it’s focused on Trump, it’s easy to seize upon someone who reveals how much we’ve been lied to, and focus on him as the root cause of the pain and suffering you’re undergoing, and if your life is already in ruins, well, what do you have to lose by destroying the tiny fraction that’s left intact?

  76. JMG,

    Well, here in Canada I suspect the People’s Party is going to get a lot of support for that reason: we may not like them, but they beat the Hades out of the alternatives. I’m also interested in the Craig indictment and what comes out of it. The part that baffles me is that the New York Times immediately claimed credit. Are they trying to get themselves in legal shale?

    It’s interesting, because I also find the conventional standards of beauty are not my cup of tea, and have also gotten flack from women who think I should be attracted to them, but am not. I also get a certain amount of it from guys who think I should be attracted to them when they find out I’m not. My personal favorite absurdity of the sort was that a straight guy once got offended when I said he didn’t do anything for me…

  77. By the gods the universe has a twisted sense of humor: I just realized what my earlier thoughts mean: Pluto fading is creating a super sized, but classic, Plutonian experience….

  78. I really like the David Hawkins approach to categorizing emotional states. By that method, the next best thing to feel after anger is desire – becoming conscious of what our anger is trying to get us. Once we are conscious of our desire we can identify with jealousy by identifying peole who already have what we want. That lets us feel pride for all the reasons we deserve what we want, and from pride it’s a short step to courage. A bit reductionist perhaps, but it really seems to help emotions get ‘unstuck’. I think I’ll try asking people who are wallowing in anger and rage what they want. Might help speed things along.

    According to that same method, anger is a few steps upstream from fear. Fear isn’t consciously felt nearly as often as anger, or encouraged really anywhere, but it’s still an awfully powerful force in our lives these days. I wonder whether much of this upwelling of anger is the result of repressed fear shaking loose.

  79. ” I take it, though, that he could order all Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays,” Well, yes, but that’s because he’s the boss (and we believe in hierarchy), not because he’s infallible. Anyway, on the xgender thing, it just occurred to me that I could coin a new term: “rod rage.” (Ouch.) One issue i see is that this population is so diverse it’s practically impossible to legislate an effective solution; it really has to be addressed on an individual basis.

  80. JMG – Regarding who we’re “interested in”, I think any member of any class could take offense at the expression “I could never be interested in a member of your class”, which is almost entirely different from “I could never be interested in you” (also offensive? Sure, but in a way unlikely to recruit a gang response.) Ideally, we’d greet each person as an individual and defer judgement until we have evidence. However, in real life we don’t have the time “to read a few chapters” first, and have to judge “books by their covers”, and some folks broadcast their tribal loyalties.

    As for “has it been this crazy before?”, I’ve heard of people being assaulted for wearing “MAGA” hats, when formerly, that sort of thing was limited to drunken brawling about sports team loyalties. The growing similarity between sports-team rivalries and political rivalries is troubling. Sports rivalries are a complete mystery to me, but from the outside, they appear to be conflict for the sake of conflict. There is no search for a common solution to the problem of sharing the football for an hour. Since our journalists have adopted sports imagery for political contests, it shouldn’t surprise us that we become more polarized… but maybe we (and our click-bait algorithms) like it that way.

  81. In response to Anon in regards to this quote – ” A few of more things before I go. Our civilisation is collapsing due to peak oil and climate change etc. Therefore I cannot understand for the life of my why everyone is making such a fuss about transgendered people. We only make up a small fraction of the population.”

    Look up the short story from Ted Kaczynski (the Unibomber) called ‘Ship of Fools’ – it is an excellent summary of the mentality that is driving this kind of thinking.

  82. JMG–some people eat while reading online–we needed a warning on that Donna Trump photo. 🙂

    A suggestion for those who feel the need to defuse conversations with their near and dear. Several years ago I read a book by a behavioral psychologist, Karen Pyror, _Don’t Shoot the Dog_. It is about what psychologists have learned from animal trainers and vice versa. She wrote of how she used the techniques she knew in theory to reshape conversations with her own mother, who would spend most of every phone call berating her for not calling often enough. This had led to a vicious cycle of reluctance to call, more complaints, more reluctance.

    The technique is this. No or minimal response to conversation you don’t want to encourage. Remember that argument is a response. “Grunt, hum, meh, I guess.” Bring up another plausible topic, not an obvious attempt but veering away. “Talking about the new tax law reminds, me –is Sally still dating that accountant.” If unwanted topic continues, return to non-committal responses. If other person says anything on a different topic or less negative, respond positively, not necessarily agreeing, but engaging with them in a positive tone. “That’s an interesting way of looking at it. Tell me more”. Don’t declare your intention–“I’m ignoring you until you stop trashing Trump” or “I won’t talk politics with you.” is just provocative. BTW, the book title comes from the one foolproof way of stopping an unwanted behavior–“Shoot the dog.” Dog will never pee on the carpet again–but it is drastic and the entire book is devoted to pointing out ways of changing behavior that aren’t as hard on either party..

    The more I see of the Left’s embrace of extreme trans activist positions the more I worry for my trans friends. Some of the proposals are just asking for backlash. Admitting MTF athletes to the Olympics will destroy women’s sports or spark outrage among sports fans. Disciplining high school girls who object to a person they perceive as a boy in their locker room will antagonize parents and supporters of those girls. And apparently the DNC has embraced the identity definition of gender. Can they not count? Or do they really think that there are enough gender fluid people and their supporters to outweigh the voters they will lose?

    Violet-why do you think the liberals you encounter are hostile? Is it that you are identifiable as trans but not the right kind of trans in some way? Or your social class or ?

    A post 4/15 commentary on the Republican tax reforms. Since the major tax prep chain I worked for serves mainly middle and working class people this is not an unbiased sample, although the office I worked in had one client whose income was high enough that he owed almost $80,000. But in every case that I can recall of a repeat client whose income had not increased, the person’s tax rate had dropped. Now their refund might have been smaller because of the adjustment in withholding, but the 2 year comparison shows the tax rate each year–lots going from 12% to 10%, some from 15% to 12% etc. The loss of the personal exemptions hit those with children and the elderly and/or blind/disabled since you used to get an additional exemption for being over 65 and another for blindness. (for those out of USA–the deductions are subtracted from income to determine taxable income and exemptions are subtracted from the tax) However the child tax credit was doubled from $1000-2000 per child under 17. Other credits are available for low income taxpayers. On the other hand the standard deduction was almost doubled. Many people were upset that the penalty for lacking health insurance was still in place–but it will be gone next year. One thing I found appalling is that young people had no idea how to file even a simple return. This should be taught in high school. Is is a shame for a kid who earned $3000 working after school to have to pay $60 to file to receive their refund of withholding. I also talked with people who just plain did not understand the withholding system, why it exists, how it works, how to use it to their own advantage.

  83. Anyway, I took your suggestion and did a little reading about the so-called “cotton ceiling,” and what I am understanding is not that anyone wants to insist that some lesbian actually have sex with a transwoman against her inclination, but that this should not be framed as a political stance, as in, the reason I as a lesbian would not want to have sex with a transwoman is because transwomen are actually men. As a political statement, which is completely unnecessary to make because no one is asking you to have sex with anyone at all, this simply serves to deny to transwomen a claim to a female identity. And in the end, what we are talking about are individual statements made by individuals, many of whom clearly have psychological issues to work through, not a monolithic “social justice movement.”

  84. Slightly off topic, but tomorrow is is the day of the grand reveal of The Mueller Report. My better half insists on watching St. Rachel of Maddow every night, so I am subjected to endless bloviating about what’s been redacted, and what devious plot Barr is up to, since he plans to have a Press conference at 9:30, BUT the House will only get their copies at 11, &c., &c.

    I can’t be the only one who hopes that they will release the report with a couple minor redactions, and then leak an unredacted copy to show that that the redactions relate to the (coming indictment of a prominent Democrat such as Tony Podesta?).

    I’ve stopped trying to point out the logical fallacies in a lot of RussiaRussiaRussia, and have gone back to quoting Reagan: “There you go again.” (or, There they go again.) I get angry a lot less that way.

    Another reminder: the Second Annual Midsummer Ecosophia Potluck will be June 22 at my house in Providence (AKA: The house behind the Ward Mansion) Please sign up here. Potato salad welcome!

  85. Wonderful essay, JMG –

    Re anger: Yes, it can make one feel powerful, and I imagine, for a lot of people it’s just plain *fun* – unless there’s a serious grief, an emotional wound somewhere behind it. When I’ve examined my own former explosions of anger, I’ve found that it momentarily magnified a certain sense of self and individuality in me, of pride, really.

    Actually, I think there can be considerable power in anger. I recall having a discussion with a few friends just as our military forces were rolling into Baghdad in ’03. One of us was then in the military and he had not been deployed to Iraq, which obviously frustrated him. Normally a friendly, well-spoken, polite fellow, he suddenly exploded, expressing his desire to be with his comrades and to be killing people. He wasn’t even addressing me directly and I took 3 steps backward. His transformation was incredible and frightening. At the time I imaged a suitcase nuke detonating in front of me. On a battlefield that would have a real power to reckon with, I imagine.

  86. For Linnea,
    motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/mass-shootings-mother-jones-full-data/

    US mass shootings have nothing to do with politics except as a more convenient target for blame.

    Normally, when I share this link, I make a sarcastic comment about the ‘right-wing pro-gun rag’. Since you may not be familiar with extreme American journalism, you should know that Mother Jones is agreed by all to be far on the left side of our spectrum. These reporters deserve a Pulitzer for their work, but since pharmaceuticals, licit and illicit, are popular, will never get one.

  87. I agree with Chris and the others that this new rage is fuelled partly by the decline in prosperity and prospects – but it also seems like in America you’re not even allowed to talk about it. From the outside, it seems like the American culture of rags-to-riches, make-it-big, it’s-up-to-you is saying that if people are suffering, it’s because they haven’t worked hard or smart enough. So not only are people losing what they had, they’re not allowed to admit it, and therefore need to work out their rage on a convenient target.

  88. JMJ have you seen the new “clown world” meme with a green frog with a rainbow wig? That’s gotten the lefts panties in a bunch. And trumps classic, let’s send all the illegals to sanctuary cities and states, as the left shouts you can’t do that, it’s illegal! Clown World!

  89. I have been reading your blog for a long time but this is the first time I felt compelled to post a comment. I apologize in advance for the length.

    If you had asked me ten years ago what my political leanings were, or even three years ago, I would have said very left. Now I find myself bewildered by the left. I am seeing some of those leftist values turn into something really destructive as they spill into my classroom. Over the past ten years, I have seen a worrying decay of mental health in my students (I teach at an upper middle class, mostly white middle school). Anxiety and depression have been on the rise at my school as they have been at most others. Accepted “ideas” for the rise in mental issues are that students are too obsessed with technology and social media (which are both true!). But over the last two years in particular it’s like more and more of my students are feeling personally persecuted by the world. While feeling persecuted, angsty, and depressed has been a badge of honor for many a teenager in the past, lately, it’s taken on a different flavor.

    Students often come into my classroom with entitlement issues (clearly learned from their parents. Teachers who do not act sufficiently servant-like can and have gotten my school sued. We have at least 1-3 absolutely preposterous lawsuits/threat of lawsuit going at any single time, and those are just the ones I hear about around the lunch table). But what the teachers at my school are seeing lately is a huge increase in what we’re calling “entitled victimhood.” I have multiple students this year bragging about how high their doses are of anti-depressants, how many times they’ve cut themselves deep enough to create scars, how dare the teacher not use their preferred pronoun again (even though said student changed the preferred pronoun, again, just the week before!). Don’t even think about requiring them to do schoolwork because they will threaten to harm themselves. In fact, I can be berated by parents and threatened with a lawsuit if I don’t let particular students listen to music through their earbuds–while I’m talking!

    It used to be I could say that most students did not come in with these sorts of issues. Most students did not have parents who threatened legal action against their teachers at any misstep, most students went through the typical teenage turmoil and came out more resilient in the end. I STILL say that is true, but whereas it used to be that only 5% or less of my students/parents came in with extreme versions of the above outlined issues, that number has crept closer to 10-15% in just a couple of short years. What used to be rare is increasingly becoming the norm. This increase in number of students parallels an increase in severity of their issues. I have never had so many students try to “do something” to themselves as I have over these last two years–cutting, taking pills, actual suicide attempts.

    Some of these students absolutely have real issues and need real help, but it also seems like some of these students have subconsciously internalized the left’s values of victimhood as power. The more depressed a middle schooler can prove to others he or she is, the more powerful that student becomes will be catered to by both adults and other students. I’ve actually overheard my students argue with each other over who was more depressed! (Student A: Well, I’m more depressed because I cut myself deep enough to leave scars last night. Student B: Well, I’m more depressed because I took a bottle of pills over the weekend and my parents had to take me to the ER.)

    I guess my point in all this is to say that I am seeing the left’s rage and King of the Hill victimhood mentality may be contributing to actual, physically harmful outcomes for their children–right now. More of these students are learning to wield this newfound power of victimhood, wildly and indiscriminately. I would have never thought the next words would leave my mouth because I take mental health issues very seriously, but: physically harming yourself to prove how angsty and depressed you are has become trendy at my school. I daily feel like I’m being held hostage by my students over the threat of one of them harming themselves. It has been the strangest time realizing what’s been happening. I feel so sad for them knowing they will be wrestling with this toxic worldview for years to come.

  90. Terry, fair enough. I notice the Democratic Party increasingly orienting their rhetoric toward extreme views — as in, things maybe 20% of the voting public agrees with — but of course the middle ground is bigger than the media makes it look.

    William, interesting. My wife and I lived in far western Maryland, right across the Potomac from West Virginia, from 2009 to 2017; I heard a lot of the same talk from local good ol’ boys, and I knew a couple of people who I know for a fact are members of the Klan; I got to see most of the Obama years, the whole of the 2016 campaign, and Trump’s inauguration, from that small-town, rust belt, Trump-voting perspective — Trump took 70% of the vote in the county where we lived — and that’s part of what I’m drawing on when I say I think the current climate of rage is different. (Another part was five years in an excruciatingly liberal Oregon exurb, including all of Dubya’s second term — that was another good place to see hatred and rage in action.) So we disagree — as happens, of course.

    Dave T., interesting. Thank you.

    David BTL, I think that’s a crucial part of it, but I tend to put a different spin on it. An empire always requires, and empowers, a huge managerial class, and that’s the class that’s been in the catbird’s seat since the last big shift in power in the wake of the Roosevelt era. As America’s global empire winds down, in turn, the managerial elite are being shoved out of their comfortable positions and replaced by what will become the next governing class — so of course they’re shrieking with rage, the way the capitalist class did in the face of the oncoming New Deal in 1932, the way the plantation aristocracy that ran the country after the Revolution did in 1860, and the way the managerial class of the British Empire did when they were shoved out by the plantation aristocracy after 1776. I’ll be developing that analysis further in later posts.

    Clay, I wouldn’t put any of those past him!

    Christopher, good for you. Exactly — the bravest as well as the wisest thing to go, when extremists on both sides are insisting that you have to choose one of the two contending forces, is to follow your own path in the abandoned middle ground between them.

    Violet, that reminds me in an odd way of the collapse of the Sixties counterculture, when all that talk about peace and love and the Age of Aquarius morphed into a relatively brief flirtation with the kind of thinking Charles Manson typified, and then all of a sudden a very large number of hippies redefined themselves as “Jesus people” and embraced fundamentalist Christianity. The way that so many social justice activists seem to be busy praising Islam and distancing themselves from gay people, among others, makes me wonder if we’ll see a repeat of that, but with fundamentalist Islam rather than fundamentalist Christianity as the fashionable religion for former social justice activists.

    DFC, it’s entirely possible that that’s involved.

    Sam, do you really think that kind of rhetoric is helpful? Catholics don’t worship the pope, you know, and while there is indeed a heavy Magian current in the social justice movement — not surprising, as American liberalism started out as a Protestant Christian movement in the early 19th century, with Boston as its original epicenter and Christian clergymen among its original leaders — that tradition is hardly the only one bristling with hypocrisy these days, you know.

    PatriciaT, you’re most welcome. The last major wave of feminism — by my count, which differs from the currently accepted one, we’ve had two so far, one from 1848 to 1920 with a focus on women’s suffrage, one from 1966 to the present with a focus on legal and economic equality for women — guttered out in the same sort of mess we’re seeing now. Give it another half century and there’ll be a third wave, though what it will focus on is anybody’s guess.

  91. In the final weeks of my last relationship, I wrestled with a great deal of anger. I didn’t want to repress it, and I wouldn’t have been able to. I’d learned too much about myself, my family history, and the dysfunction I was experiencing every day.

    But nor was it right to take it all out on my girlfriend. She’s not Hannibal Lecter, she’s a very wounded person who can’t help but reenact her trauma.

    So I listened to my feelings, and what came up was that I wasn’t getting what I need. The anger was there to illuminate the problem, and to provide a source of energy to cut through the barriers, but I had to also act with compassion for myself and my girlfriend.

    But that’s hard emotional work, and it takes a great investment of patience, silence, and reflection. The flood of Twitter updates and Facebook posts drowns out these qualities.

    Something else that comes to mind is the Incel community. They’re not wrong to want true human connection, and I understand the feeling of being isolated and excluded by social rules that seem perverse. But there’s a lot of venomous rage in that mindset.

    Look at the manifesto of Elliot Rodger, who killed six people in 2014. He spends over a hundred pages discussing the many video games he played throughout his life, and all of the minor slights he suffered, and winds up concluding that women are evil and must be murdered.

    And that reminds me of your discussion of Sartre’s concept of bad faith. If a person refuses to account for the role they’ve played in shaping their own life, and unloads all of their guilt onto Trump or women or the Jews, they’ll get rotted from the inside out.

  92. Pogonip,
    I can tell you exactly why the rage about Mrs. Obama’s school lunch program: hungry kids. It was coming from parents of athletic kids who were not being permitted to get seconds or larger servings or anything. My teen ballet dancer was affected by it the year he was in private school.

    He solved the problem by taking sufficient food from home to meet his midday caloric requirements in combination with the puny couch-potato lunch. But his school had no restrictions on bringing in food, as none of the fifty-odd students had deathly food allergies. Other kids at other schools aren’t permitted to bring food from home, so had to go hungry during the school day.

    Teens are difficult enough critters in the classroom without being hungry as well.

    My son still loathes Mrs. Obama for that, and he was just inconvenienced a bit.

  93. RPC and JMG,

    As someone who grew up Mormon, I feel almost compelled to point toward the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as the church with an infallible leader. The president of the church is considered the living prophet, and can speak infallibly on doctrine with basically no limits.

    I’m pretty sure that if he wanted to make everyone become vegan, he could do it. It would even have some precedent: technically the Mormon position, as declared in the Word of Wisdom (part of the Doctrine & Covenants, which is considered holy writ), is that eating meat is permitted but discouraged except in times of cold or famine (i.e. when necessary).

    In fact, the prophet is apparently so infallible that in practice he can overrule the infallible proclamations of previous prophets. Those older teachings will be quietly expunged, Soviet-style*, from church material and members generally avoid talking about it from then on. (In fact, some teachings and practices, such as “white and delightsome” and the blood oath, have been so thoroughly purged that younger Mormons often do not even know they were ever part of the tradition and will vehemently deny that they were.)

    * This is not much of an exaggeration. The church has been known to encourage members to trade in their copies of church books for newer editions that lack the expunged material.

    So there you go. If the question was, “Which major religion most believes that its head is infallible?,” the Mormons were the correct answer.

  94. JMG, in reply to C33, said “I remember the rage that was flung against George W. Bush — I knew people who literally couldn’t walk past a picture of the man without shrieking obscenities at it”, and something fell into place there.

    Dubya was, after all, elected in genuinely dubious circumstances – hanging chads, etc etc, and many people will have felt years and years of frustration and anger about that. “If ONLY Al Gore had stood up and fought harder!”. Now they’ve got an even more infuriating Republican president and, after Shrub, they just can’t accept that he won legitimately… and that feeling that **this** time they’ve GOT to fight….

  95. The one time I found anger empowering was when I wielded it like a superhero 🙂 This was when I said no to a person who had sexually assaulted me when I was a kid and was asking me to help him a few years ago.

    I said no because I was too unwell to do what he asked. And then boy did the abuse flow from his end. Then I felt such massive rage roaring through my nervous system that it doesn’t surprise me in the least that governments round the world with politicians with testosterone fuelled bodies and middling emotional IQs drone the brown bodies of civilians hourly.

    That massive energy rocked through me, and its power carried me to the word no. It was a hard word to speak to this person who has done me so much damage. And then, after it flooded through me, I was filled with the most profound joy.

    It felt like it was the first time in my life I really felt anger fully, didn’t sequester away a drop of it, used its power as a discipline and felt the joy at its end that signified a job well done.

    I always loved Karla McLaren’s description of anger being used to address a boundary violation (https://karlamclaren.com/2013/03/29/understanding-and-befriending-anger/ ) and to be able to achieve it, with my wobbly me-riddled body, was a big accomplishment.

    Giving into hate because a boorish brat heads up one decrepit political party ahead of the warhawk establishment usurper of the people’s preferred candidate is a lazy halfway there way of wielding anger and of doing politics. I don’t need to hate either this person nor Donald Trump though I despise both their actions. Anger does not make hate acceptable. It makes assertive action possible, helps you feel safer in your own skin by defending your own boundaries however possible if you know how to wield its power 🙂

    Hate is the McDonald’s of the emotions. Tastes good in your mouth, rots your guts

  96. SaraDee said “I think the rage is getting unhinged because the predicaments of our time are clearly perceived but still only subconsciously.”

    I think this is absolutely right: the whole system is creaking and groaning; bolts are popping out of the structure all around us. Everybody can see what’s happening, but no-one can admit it, certainly not in mainstream, public situations. So all that suppressed frustration, fear and anxiety is being expressed as rage.

    Is it new, though? I don’t think it’s a Trump-time phenomenon (playing with the Dreamtime metaphor there, a little). The zombie movie, 28 Days Later, was a hit as far back as 2002; the fast-moving zombies were infected by the Rage virus, and unbridled rage was how they behaved. Rage was clearly in the zeitgeist even then, and I can only speculate about its proximity to China’s 2001 WTO entry, not to mentione 9/11 of course… It was becoming clear that history hadn’t ended after all, and that the West was not looking forward to endless peace and prosperity…

  97. David BTL, I’m pretty sure that at this point going to college is purely a rite of passage, a tribal ritual of our people where young people gather to perform strange ceremonies and make expensive offerings for four years before they move back into their parents’ basements. The entire concept of learning seems to have gone somewhere else quite a while ago.

    Diane, you’re most welcome. Thank you for sharing your perspective on this whole tangled mess!

    David Huang, glad to hear it. It sounds like a worthwhile project.

    Chris, dead on target. It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Katsmama, ouch. I wonder if there’s something that could be done to make life easier for girls.

    Tiago, no doubt, but it got the point across!

    Aloysius, a fine metaphor! Thank you.

    Daz, whisper this: a lot of privileged women these days go on at great length about how there are no decent men interested in them, while splashing anger and a range of other unpleasant emotions around in ways that guarantee that no decent man would want to be seen with them for thirty minutes. Of course you can’t tell them that, because expecting women to be responsible for the consequences of their own choices is of course sexist.

    Methylethyl, I think you’re dead on target. The US is paying its bills by spinning the presses these days, and other nations are responding by ditching the dollar; the effects of that are already beginning to be felt, and so everyone’s trying to make sure that it’s someone else’s turn to be left high and dry. (Or low and wet as in your area.)

    Workdove, have you noticed that it’s always the next presidential term when the wheels are finally going to come off the bus? Let me suggest the unpalatable alternative: that’s not going to happen. The rate of ecological change we’re seeing around us right now is the rate of change we’re going to get; it’ll simply keep sliding a little further in the same direction with each year that passes.

    SaraDee, that seems plausible. I’d like to suggest, though, that there’s another factor: rage is really convenient if you don’t want to pay attention to your actual problems, because you can use it to redirect your attention onto the nearest Bad Orange Man.

    William, that sounds refreshingly sane — thank you. Congrats, if I understand you correctly, on your upcoming marriage!

    Nastarana, I didn’t have anything particular to say about the Notre Dame fire, and the whole Assange business is a sufficiently tangled mess that I’ve just given it the occasional glance from a distance. As far as the left needing to stop LARPing the Russian Revolution and the right needing to grow up, on the other hand, I ain’t arguing…

    Zach, perhaps you can show me where I said it was.

    Patricia M, please accept my condolences — it’s hard to lose a pet. As for Dreamlands, that was deliberate; you’re a more practical person than Miriam Akeley, who has been doing the professional-scholar thing her whole life and hadn’t processed the possibility that things could get as edgy as they did.

    Reggie, agreed about the self-righteousness, One of the things I find most irritating about the whole anti-Trump business is the way that many people in it act as though they think that if they hate Trump loudly enough that proves that they’re Good People, and bask in the imagined glow of their own sanctity. You may well be right about the defining role of the Second World War.

    Will J, hmm! That seems uncomfortably plausible. I’m watching the upcoming Canadian election with some interest.

    RPC, oof. “Rod rage” — yeah, that’s a keeper. I suspect my lesbian readers will make hay with that one.

    Lathechuck, fair enough. I don’t feel the same way — if a woman told me she’s not interested in men in general, so no thanks, I’d feel less rejected as an individual than if she told me she’s not interested in me personally — but no doubt your mileage may vary. As for sports, I have no idea; I’ve never understood the point.

    Rita, so noted! I had two choices — that one and a photo of Paula Deen with Trump’s face photoshopped onto it — and figured this one was funnier.

    Zach, fair enough. Would you extend the same courtesy to people who vote for Donald Trump?

    Peter, it’ll be very interesting to see how that whole business plays out. My guess is that either it’ll be a complete damp squib, or it’ll include something potentially damaging to the Democrats — the frantic way in which the latter have been backpedaling, and now very obviously trying to insist on having first shot at spin doctoring, is rather suggestive. But we’ll see.

    Will, if you know how to use emotional energy it can be a major source of power. (Bruce Lee had some useful things to say about that in the opening sequences of Enter the Dragon.) The difficulty, as I noted, is that letting yourself wallow in anger is a great way to make yourself stupid.

    Karl, no, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in writing projects (mostly the Weird of Hali fantasy roleplaying game) and haven’t been over to the various alt-right forums of late. I’ll keep an eye out for it. Trump’s move on the sanctuary cities, on the other hand, had me chuckling. That was really clever.

    MiddleSchoolTeacher, thanks for this. I’ve heard similar things from others, so I think you’re right to be concerned — and I think you’ve identified the sources of the trouble very clearly.

  98. I am genuinely fascinated by the belief by some that JMG is too right-wing to be considered a moderate.

    …a former hippie, thats understanding of transgender people, writes utopian fiction about America’s Café au lait colored future, and speaks out against ILLEGAL-immigration because it drives down the wages of the working class(and pretty much only for that reason).

    I am certainly to the right of him now… but I come from a rather liberal family and have some familiarity with that side of the political divide.

    From my rightward view, ‘moderate’ sounds about right at present… though ten years ago that description would have been left of center.

    To those who feel JMG is too right-wing to be considered a ‘moderate’, I’m curious:

    Where exactly do you consider the center to be?
    Where does ‘moderate’ end and right begin?
    Where does ‘moderate’ end and left begin?

  99. @Bogatyr I agree with JMG that you are on to something. Haven’t there been lots of what we called “uncivilized cultures” who did human sacrifice in times of crop failure? Historians say it was to appease their gods. But what if as their food system was breaking down and they couldn’t fix it, it caused a psychotic break in the leadership and they felt they needed to do something drastic and public? Human sacrifice is drastic and public. I feel like that’s a lot of the news and social media is anymore – attacking and trying to destroy people.

  100. @JMG – great post.

    @Terry Brennan – is transsexuality real…

    There are people in the Cases of the Reincarnation Type (CORT) studies of Dr. Ian Stevenson and colleagues, where the previous personality was of a different biological gender. About 5% of CORT cases remember being in the opposite biological gender body. Though many seem to accept their current biological gender, more than half (of the 5%) have some degree of gender dysphoria.

    In some cases the gender dysphoria/transsexuality is extreme.
    For example, the case of Ma Ting Aung Myo, a Burmese girl with memories of being a Japanese soldier killed there during WWII. She strongly identified with and dressed as a male, and
    “… once told Dr. Stevenson and his interpreter that they could kill her by any means they wanted if they could guarantee that she would be reborn as a male.” pg 128 of (hardback edition of) _Life Before Life_ by Jim B. Tucker M.D. Other discussion of this case is on pg 121 and pp. 124-128 where another couple of sex change cases are discussed.
    Details in _Cases of the reincarnation type, Vol IV: Twelve cases in Thailand and Burma_
    Ian Stevenson, 1983, Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia. pp. 229-241.

    Perhaps if knowledge of reincarnation were more widespread, more people wouldn’t be so hysterical/victimy about certain things, though in writing that, it occurs to me that Ma Ting Aung Myo had intimate knowledge of reincarnation, and still wanted to be killed to change gender.

    An issue is about choice of parents/fetus – do we have such choice, and how much responsibility do we have for such a choice?
    If it was random, then more than 5% of CORT would be different gender (like 50%), but since it’s not so random, I conclude we have a large degree of choice about parents/fetus gender/…
    From my own life, I now realize I made a bad choice of parents, but at the time it seemed like a good idea, but it was definitely my choice.
    “Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from not-so-good judgement”. But only if one takes responsibility for one’s choices/decisions, and doesn’t play victim.

  101. @Middleschoolteacher Part of the anxiety is coming from parents who know their children are competing for limited paid/scholarship spots in college. Parents will spend entire weekends driving all over taking their child to sports competitions and hiring coaches, with the hopes that it gives them a ticket to a scholarship in a good school. The parents of artistic types drive their kids to special classes, but to a lesser degree.

    Parents know they can’t pay for college and they know it is the ticket to the managerial classes. They already have a high debt load paying for all those activities, vacations and regular keeping up with the Jone’s lifestyle. They want their kid in a good school and are desperate to have it happen.

    I’ve seen uglier. Parents working to sabotage the opportunities for another family’s child. Parents who constantly manage their children’s lives and tell them who to talk to and how to talk. Many parents constantly complain about teachers, school, other kids, and work.

    Add to that high stakes testing and a school environment that is more like a prison due to safety concerns, and yes, kids are anxious.

    The depression comes from unexpressed anger that they have at everything.

    When they get to college, these kids then given freedom, are uncomfortable with it and start bringing the repression back with the language policing and Title 9 stuff. While also drinking, drugs, going on Tinder dates with random people outside college, and skipping classes. So basically they are wasting what their parents stressed so hard over to get for them. This will get uglier.

  102. We used to attend a Methodist Church regularly. We left because I couldn’t take the women who felt they had the right to scream at me whenever they felt stressed. I grew up with a mother who screamed at me when she was stressed and as an adult I wanted no part of any situation with screaming women.

    Ten years later I finally have the confidence to stand my ground with these women, smiles at them and say, “you don’t have the right to speak to me like that”, and I stare them in the eye and don’t flinch.

    It happened in a restaurant a few weeks ago. I was waiting outside the single use bathroom. A woman walked up to me with a beer in her hand (the bar was busy) and said very aggressively, “Why are you here? What’s your problem?” I looked her in the eye, and smiled at her, and said “Did you say something?”. She got huffy and walked a few steps away. The bathroom opened and I used it. When I came out she was still there. I walked back to my husband and we left.

    I’ve got ten more example of white women going off on me in the last dozen years. I really miss working in a mostly male workplace.

  103. Q: If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?

    There are so many points raised in the essay and, then, in the community responses that provoked me to want to comment. But I’m going to rein myself in and just hit a few.

    (1) Microplastics and the LGBTQ epidemic: In particularly I predict the sense of being trapped in a body of the wrong sex (the TQ portion of the issue) will ultimately be tied pretty solidly — along with large scale sterility — to humanity’s recent decision to conduct an uncontrolled, uncontrollable (idiotic) experiment on itself by way of bathing everyone in man-made chemicals and, in particular, micro-plastics.

    In developmental biology the fetus can get confused if it receives an inappropriate hormone and this can result in a schism of phenotype from genotype. Either brain changes alone can occur or there can be expression of inappropriate sex organs. Under natural conditions this sort of mistake is very rare but bathing, eathing, drinking, and breathing a toxic sludge of chemicals is hardly normal.

    I just found out the problem is much, much worse than we thought: we are apparently now BREATHING microplastic. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0335-5 and https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/microplastics-are-blowing-in-the-wind/. The latter link is especially worthwhile: “From Fish to Humans, A Microplastic Invasion May Be Taking a Toll – Tiny bits of plastic have seeped into soil, fish and air, posing a threat to animal and human health”

    (2) With regard to the issue of rage, and in particular the tearing of the “social contract” (I don’t generally like that term but I think it is appropriate in this context), I agree with you that something has now changed — and in a big way.

    Those who didn’t like Obama suffered for eight years; even as the Democrats who lost in 2000 suffered Bush for eight years; just has the Republicans had suffered the previous eight years with Clinton. Etc.

    But this time there is no quiet suffering by the losers and their elected political hacks – they have raged; and screamed; and cried; passively-aggressively obstructed; threatened; abused power; and provoked for more than two years now. And now they aren’t prepared to accept the conclusions of their own heavily stacked “investigation” and finally let it be? Or, more sensible yet, insist that they investigation go on to investigate possible wrong doing on THEIR side — just to make peace and clear they air? Once upon a time, Republicans JOINED with Democrats to investigate and pursue Nixon. But that was a wiser time; with far wiser politicians and citizens.

    How do the Democrats expect things to work out when the pendulum swings back again? Do they expect all of their “initiative” and lack of compromise is going to be forgotten? I think most of them do. I really think most of them never learned much from history and, certainly, never grew out of childhood and their need for Santa Claus.

    I still hope Howard Schultz, a Democrat, might run and win as an Independent. He is the only possible candidate I could see *maybe* being talented and untainted enough to begin reuniting the country somewhat. I say somewhat because philosophical and cultural diversity doesn’t make a society stronger. It makes for a Tower of Babel. And it makes for a logjam. And it usually makes for a war.


    A: Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one.

  104. MiddleSchoolTeacher: A short while ago, JMG replied to a comment of mine and said that one reason the left-of-center urban affluent are behaving the way they are is because their “wave of the future” has broken and is washing back out to sea. Your comment about these middle-schoolers and their parents that you have to deal with, has convinced me of the truth of JMG’s statement to me more than anything I have read or encountered recently. (Not that I had any reason to doubt what JMG said to me, I just clearly didn’t realize the full extent to which he was correct until now!)

  105. @ Rita, I sincerely have no idea why so many total strangers beam so much hostility towards me. My dad told me that he can feel other people’s hostility towards me while we are out walking. After brooding on this for awhile, I think that people have this hostility towards me for reasons of some sort of shared spiritual sickness that I don’t understand. I don’t watch television and so don’t really have a definite sense of the collective unconscious. The people who are hostile towards me though, seem generally hostile.

    I tend to think there’s a class element, since working class and blue-collar folks make conversation with me and tend to be friendly. There is definitely a NIMBY sort of thing going on. I bet nearly 100% of the people who give me bad vibes publicly support trans people et al, but sequestered in some ghetto. The idea that they might have a minority neighbor though may be the stuff of nightmares. After all, property values could go down and when the equity’s gone all that’s left is a rather inconvenient commute.

    So in closing, I don’t think that I really have much of anything to do with other people’s hang ups. I simply think that whole communities in certain geographical regions have fallen under the domain of the tainted sphere of bourgeois Leftist hogwash and this egregore induces a brittle hostility. Since I’m a visible minority I think I just catch the eye a bit more, but in a real sense I think that may be it. I doubt that these folks are laughing and grooving until I show up, and then fall into cold, brittle, death-stare, silence. I imagine that they are that way all the time and I just feel their general energies when they look at me for a moment.

  106. @ Will J, When the LGBT community began getting into the habit of policing people in such an egregious manner is about the time that I left those circles. That sort of social pressure and micromanaging is the exact opposite of the fun and liberating vibe that drew me into queer community in the first place.

  107. @ JMG, I could definitely see that happening. It feels like it’s already taking shape in the psychic ethers. Of course, a bunch of white, fanatic, former leftist Wahhabi converts would be utterly surreal, and for myself, extremely dismaying since I’ve worked with Muslims and found cause to fear for my life at several points. I do not relish the thought or practical considerations of many thousands of converted fanatics with a bone to pick, a desire to distance themselves from former stances and talking points, and a religion that gives explicit sanction to murdering me. Then again, when I take a step back this is surely what ‘living in interesting times’ looks like!

  108. Clown pepe, for the curious:
    https://i.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/original/000/028/526/honklhonk.jpg

    To paraphrase Theodore Dalrymple and Moldbug, one reason why the Cathedral has such strange rituals associated with it is to ensure that its priests and priestesses are loyal functionaries who will never examine (or at least not discuss) the sausage factory in the basement. For instance, claiming that it is right and good and fair for this person to compete at rugby with women is totally bizzare:

    https://cdn.newsapi.com.au/image/v1/78d23af9612d25c452dc345755311ce1

    As JMG said, there’s nothing wrong with that person wanting to be treated as a woman in some regards, such as getting a ‘F’ put on her driver’s license and her name changed to Shirley. I don’t think there are too many people who are actually opposed to that. I’m certainly not. But it is absurd to allow her to play women’s sports.

    In a sense, it is a micro scale version of the macro scale problems of our society. It is impossible to satisfy the ‘rights’ (wants) of that woman to play sports with biological women without taking away the rights of all biological women to play sports without men, and it is impossible to satisfy the material ‘needs’ (wants) of the privileged without stomping on the needs and wants of everybody else.

  109. JMG, yes, I know they don’t literally worship the pope, and certainly not all Christians are angry hypocrites (one of my closest friends is devoutly Catholic), just like not all SJW’s are angry hypocrites; I was simply trying to make a connection between the dogmatic extremes of each group.

  110. JMG,

    Thanks for the provocative essay. It made me really think about some things. I especially fear people stomping over free speech in the name of other goals.

    I did have a wonder about something you wrote: “Take in some of the social justice essays about how “whiteness” needs to be abolished.”

    I am not sure to which essays you are referring, and I have no doubt that there are no shortage of over-the-top essays that are full of the anger of which you spoke in your piece, so I am not here arguing with what you expressed, but rather than articulating a thought or two I have about the above.

    First of all, for the record, I am a “white guy.” My understanding is that the most thoughtful commentators (which I’d bet are not the majority) about “whiteness” are critiquing the mental construct or identity of “whiteness” that was originally created as a category to establish supremacy, not attacking people with pale skin like my own. It’s the emotional-ideational category itself, they argue, that was originally created in order to establish supremacy over a non-white other.

    As I wrote above, I’m a white guy and I don’t hate myself at all. I do, though, for my own reasons, question the category of “whiteness.” Sometimes whiteness as a category (not necessarily meaning all people of pale skin tone or European heritage) connotes to me lack of connection with historical and cultural roots and suggests defining oneself by saying, “I’m not THAT instead of saying, this is what I am.” Though I share many of your critiques and fears of the unbalanced left, I have found that questioning the category of whiteness can serve valuable (and non-shaming) purposes.

    I’m guessing we see this topic differently, but I nevertheless appreciate you setting up a forum for substantial discussion.

    Jacques

  111. In re: cotton ceiling: I’ve commented in discussions elsewhere on the subject that the process of finding out whether or not someone’s equipment and tastes in the bedroom and so forth were what you wanted to deal with was just what most of us call “dating,” or, indeed, “Friday night,” in some circumstances of my youth.* I mean, to verge on TMI, I’ve been to bed with any number of cisdudes

    And I feel like that sort of goes both ways: the person saying no should be polite and tactful, which includes not extrapolating from junk to identity, and the person hearing no should be polite and receptive, which includes not taking “sorry, this setup isn’t what I’m looking for,” as a sweeping judgment about them as a woman/man/person/etc., and recognizing that they’re not entitled to have anyone be attracted to them.

    The whole question of how to politely frame preferences in sexual partners is a tricky one–like, in general, there’s no reason to be saying “oh, I’m not into blondes,” so why do it? But then you get into dating sites and similar, where there is a reason, but you still don’t want to hurt feelings, and…yeah. The general consensus I’ve heard seems to be that it’s better to phrase positive, when you can: “I tend to prefer tall, lanky, pasty guys,” rather than “no short guys, no fat guys, no people of color,” but there’s still some controversy** and in situations like the above, you need to get either medical or pornographic to get to that point.

    (I will note that plenty of lesbians I know are quite fond of penetration in their own way–but that involves Accessories.)

    In general, my stance has always been that I’ll address people by whatever name and pronouns work for them, as the same part of politeness that dictates I call my friend Michael rather than Mike if that’s his deal. (Granted, if someone insists on being addressed as Moonchilde Darkshadow or Dunklezhan Reborn or Dark Master, I will probably try to stop addressing them, or, indeed, interacting with them at all–q.v. the people who wear ears and tails around in public.) I feel like most issues could be similarly reframed in such a way as to make them non-issues–make sports categories go by weight/body mass/etc***–except that people on both sides are determined to keep them issueful, q.v. anger.

    * JMG and David BTL are Not Wrong about college, at least in my case, but I can’t say I regret any of it: learned far more outside of most classes than inside.
    ** I’ve heard “well, you haven’t met all X, so how do you know enough to rule them out,” and while that’s theoretically true of meatspace, if I’m sorting out which people to meet from an online site, when I have limited time and energy (and as a cis girl with a heartbeat on those sites, a plethora of messages), is a different story.
    *** Granted, I don’t know how all these work–the last time I came close to sports, it was Tang Soo Do, and I remember being *wildly annoyed* that tournament sparring didn’t mix the genders.

  112. Further thought: I would say that a lot of the freaking out re: dating preferences comes from some ridiculous New-Age idea that it’s Wrong to take physical attributes into account when selecting sexual partners, because blah blah seeing people not bodies blah blah shallow blah blah unique and sensitive soul is what should really turn you on.* People feel like they can’t say “Well, I think you’re a perfectly fine woman, but your genital arrangement doesn’t suit me, sorry,” because OMG SHALLOW and so they feel like they have to justify it, and everything snowballs from there. And vice-versa, a lot of the cotton-ceiling rhetoric is framed in a “well, it’s horrible and superficial to have genital-based preferences where your sex life is concerned and Good People would be Deep and Meaningful and not care about that,” and everything gets awful from there.

    Just…be shallow, folks. Embrace it. There’s a time and a place for it, and deciding who you want to sleep with tonight is pretty much the definition of same.

    * Which…you know who has a unique and sensitive soul, and a beautiful mind? My mom. Golden retrievers. Ghandi. If admiration for someone’s mind and soul=sexual attraction, I would have a very different and really much grosser and more criminal life.

  113. John–

    Re the displacement of the management class

    Ah. I see what you’re getting at. The aristocratic management being replaced by a plantation management being replaced by an industrial management being replaced by a technocratic management being replaced by whatever is coming next.

    Re Trump

    Thinking more on the issue of Trump as a cunning man (a double entendre on this forum!) and as one who is Not An Idiot, I realized that his actions could be explained by this hypothesis we’ve been discussing of intentionally keeping his opponents enraged.

    Imagine you are Donald Trump. You have your taxes, this Mueller report. They might show something off-color, even mildly embarrassing, but nothing lethal or overtly criminal. How do you play it? By withholding these documents or releasing them in such a manner (two redacted versions, for example), he allows his opponents time and space to work themselves into whirling rage and wild speculation, raising expectations to incredible heights (he’s an active Russian agent, we’ve found handwritten instructions from Vladimir Putin, his hotels are built on the bodies of immigrant children who are ritually sacrificed in the basements thereof) and when the reality is finally revealed, it so pales in comparison that any potentially embarrassing news is completely neutralized, plus his opponents wind up with a fair amount of egg on their faces to boot. So far, the Democrats are for the most part still falling into that same pit over and over again.

  114. What I find most disconcerting about the social justice movement, or any similar movement, is that you can’t sit down getting comfortable with a philosophical viewpoint or any idea. You have to be able to sit comfortably with an idea for a while and ruminate with it, get to know it, before passing judgement on it. I feel like this is why many older traditional ideas are being chucked by progressives into the trash bin. It doesn’t matter if the idea is old or knew, you have to be able to digest it and assimilate it into your thought processes for it to truly be useful. This way even bad ideas can be useful.

    Howard Kunstler has a eyesore of the month post on his blog. I think if the architects of many of these things ruminated on their ideas they’d realize just how bad they are.

    Many of us are being forced out of our comfy seats because of the existential threats posed by the long decline. But an existential threat, leaves us with the basic questions of food water and shelter. It’s like the SJW movement is laying a bed of nails on the couch that would let us answer this fundamental issue.

    I apologize if I’m restating the obvious.

  115. Wow. That love letter to Hillary Clinton is so over the top it almost sounds like a parody.

    – Re: changing reality to fit your feelings. Dutch man wants to legally change his age from 69 to 49 because he feels younger than his chronological age.
    https://www.npr.org/2018/11/08/665592537/69-year-old-dutch-man-seeks-to-change-his-legal-age-to-49

    – Dating as a racist activity: I recently read an article (darn! Can’t locate it again) written in complete seriousness by a Hispanic man about the flak he gets for dating white women. An awful lot of people are all verklemmt about it and have declared him a traitor to his kind.

    – Apparently in various corners of the Trans-verse, some men who have been surgically turned into women insist that they have monthly, bloodless, periods. Never thought I’d see the day when having a period became a thing of envy.

    -Gobbledygook: There exist online a variety of gobbledygook generators for various disciplines where you enter a plain word or phrase in the little box, press the button, and Poof! there is your simple idea transformed into meaningless but authoritative-sounding tripe. Here’s one for fun: http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/gobbledygook-generator.html

    -Trump’s uncanny ability to infuriate his enemies. The recent twitter explosion over Ilhan Omar is an example. She is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but neither is she stupid and she knows perfectly well what she’s stirring up with her seemingly-inartful and clearly offensive comments. In the meantime, the Democrats are falling all over themselves to defend even the most obviously dreadful of her pronouncements because she’s black, female, and Muslim and ranks high on the intersectionality scale. Over in Trumpland, the Donald is busy turning Omar into the face of the democratic party making it even harder for Democrats to denounce anything she says, no matter how crazy, which will eventually alienate the middle-of-the-road democratic voters.

  116. Hi JMG,

    I’m very interested in your response to David BTL re: the dominant “managerial” class in different eras of American history, which I believe you outlined as follows:

    before 1776 – Managerial class of the British Empire
    after 1776 – American Plantation aristocracy
    after 1860 – Industrial capitalist class (Robber Barons)
    after 1932 – Managerial class of the American Empire

    Perhaps you’ll expand on this in a future post, but I’m wondering if I can tease out a preview from you now: how would characterize the currently ascendant class that will replace the Managerial class of the (now declining) American empire? In broad strokes, how would you define them?

    Thanks!

  117. Your transwoman of colour *is* uniquely correct on *her experience of oppression*. If your aim is that people should not experience oppression for reasons of transness and skin colour then she *does* give a clear indication of what you should be looking to fix. And if you fix the oppression experienced by transwomen of colour then you’re likely to have made inroads into the oppression experienced by transwomen and the oppression experienced by people of colour too.

    The Left got here by realising that solutions to sexism, for example, that were predicated on formal salaried employment didn’t actually help the casual outsourced cleaners. The people at the sharpest end tend to get ignored and silenced if the people trying to fix the problem don’t consciously include them.

    There’s something to be said for listening to the perspective of the most disadvantaged, if what you want to do is reduce disadvantage. The suspicion is that the people who loudly object to being asked to listen to the perspective of the most disadvantaged don’t in fact want that disadvantage to be reduced.

  118. Up front: I admit that my perspective is from the far right.

    First, I have met those who are clearly genetic outliers as far where their hormonal balance is compared to norms of their sex; this shouldn’t be surprising since evolution has to be fluid as far as sexual differences go. Why do male mallard ducks have green heads while females are all brown? — I don’t know how this came to be but it didn’t happen overnight. That being said, the number of people where this is true is necessarily a tiny biological minority, like midgets. So, obviously, the whole trans-phenomon has gone beyond this group and includes a larger number of people where the issue is mostly mental.

    So why is this happening now? Let me relate to my experience as someone who recently hiked the Appalachian Trail. After losing thirty pounds and nearly all my body fat I experienced real hunger for the first time in my life. This goes well beyond a desire to put something in your mouth or a pain from an empty stomach, but when every cell of your body screams to your nervous system: “Feed me you idiot or I’m going to die!” Believe me, you are not thinking about what sex you are or much of anything else when facing starvation. And at least I knew that I wasn’t going to starve. Our overactive minds developed to overcome the problem of our stomachs. Without experiencing calorie depravation every once in a while there is a good chance of the brain going haywire. A few generations without missing any meals and a society will usually turn nuts. That’s where I put both the LGBQ+ rainbow and Trump derangement syndrome. It is a result of excessive comfort, not poverty. That’s why what I consider to be the crazy politics of the Left comes from the campus instead of the street.

    (Note: the BLM movement has real grievances from the streets, but I think they are a separate issue and sane.)

    So MiddleSchoolTeacher, it’s only going to get worse for you.

  119. Re the Trump hatred I thought I’d post this example from Twitter.

    Trump: “So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!

    Hollywood C list actress: WHAT? When, in the history of humanity, has anybody ever NOT acted quickly in the event of a fire? The level of stupidity is simply breathtaking. Flying fracking water tankers. What a tw*t. I weep for Paris. I weep for America too.”

    But it seems they just can’t stop themselves – I had to censor a couple of words – she didn’t. They obviously enjoy it although it never fails to amaze me that ‘good’ people don’t see themselves as the rage junkies they are. You said that anger is a cover up emotion – what are these ‘good’ people covering up when they generally have it so easy?

  120. Off Topic –

    Can someone explain the state of Vermont to me? I just crossed the Vermont border and can’t figure out for the life of me how the state can afford all these nice rest stop areas. It seems like this state is an exclave of all the rich people from New York and Massachusetts, filled with their second houses, etc.

  121. Thanks, John. At least Spot is still with me for now. He sleeps a lot and loves me company. And when the time comes, I’ll call my yard lady to bury him and plant a rosebush on his grave.

  122. Boys Mom and Linnea:

    Slate, which cannot be accused of any right-of-center sympathies, has a really good article about the demographics of mass shootings in the US: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/10/what-the-white-mass-shooter-myth-gets-right-and-wrong-about-killers-demographics.html

    Linnea: I wouldn’t expect that a feminist would shoot up some random place. Regardless of the motivating ideology, mass shooting is almost exclusively a male thing.

  123. @JMG: “Dewey, first of all, if you think I’m saying that hate and anger are bad, you’ve got a short memory”

    No indeed, I well remember you arguing that hate is just fine. That’s why I said that it is also apparently “bad” to disdain hatred. However, the hatred expressed by leftist radicals for right-wingers, or even for outright Nazis, is widely condemned here, as is the hatred imputed to other leftists and, often laughably, to liberals. So, is it okay to hate those you disagree with only if you are conservative?

    Most people who’d want to “abolish whiteness” are not black radicals who want to “kill all de white people” (a few such do exist, as a backlash to centuries of white supremacism) but people who want to destroy the social system that lumps together almost all people of certain light skin tones into a group that enjoys special status. Importantly, neither type of person has or ever has had any substantive voice in the U.S. government.

    And yes, obviously, I’d have more chance of defending myself from bikers attacking my home than the feds. Which is why it’s very problematic that the guy who threatens us Non-Real Amurrican types with bikers – and the military – is *controlling the executive branch of the federal government*! He doesn’t just have a few violent conspiracy theorists at his disposal, but the military. It might be seen as no big deal if mentally ill private citizens of the Alex Jones ilk publicly suggested that it might be “treasonous” to oppose the President’s wishes or fail to applaud his speeches. It’s a very different matter when such talk comes directly from the man who has a network of law enforcement agencies and internment camps at his command. That is, again, NOT NORMAL in anything but a personality-cult police state.

  124. Sense Hate is the new Sex, I am really hoping that Sanders or another democratic presidential candidate will use Hate to help unify the country.

    I think there is an opportunity to use (and stoke) the existing hatred of the Saudi’s to
    – provide a common opponent for both liberals and conservatives
    – Help end the American Empire (no more American blood for oil and no more petrol dollar)
    – help to provide motivation to combat climate change
    – it also provides a reason and a path to weed out the corruption in Washington –( it is my understanding the Saudi’s have spent 10’s of billions on “lobbing” the American government. Black list everyone who has taken Saudi money from lobbing the government.)

  125. Bogatyr:

    “Dubya was, after all, elected in genuinely dubious circumstances – hanging chads, etc etc”

    That was my opinion of the 2000 presidential mess too.

    On the other hand, it’s possible Bush could have won Florida outright if not for the effect of national news media coverage. Florida is divided between two time zones: the peninsula, heavily liberal, falls in the Eastern Time Zone while the panhandle, more conservative, is in Central Time. On the evening of the 2000 election, major news outlets repeatedly reminded viewers when their state’s polls would close; in the case of Florida, they only mentioned closing time in the EST zone. Voters in the more conservative part of Florida still had another hour to vote, but poll workers testified later that an hour before CST closing time, voters disappeared. Hardly anyone showed up during that last hour. We cannot know what might have happened, but it’s entirely possible that properly-informed voters in the panhandle may have increased Bush’s win well above the 537 vote margin that was eventually thrashed out with help from the Supreme Court.

  126. A bubble of rage is expanding, upward and outward, contained and given support by the old cable media, the foundations and think tanks, and the reaction to a new form of thought which the old school finds abhorrent – relevance and nuance by people having fun and poking at norms. Poking at them! “Do THEY not know who WE are, what WE have done? How dare they, these racists, etc… “. The bubble expands upwards and outwards, filled with the gases of infectious rage and righteous incomprehension. Until eventually the walls supporting the bubble grow too weak, the pressure too strong, and POP. All the rage is released, the walls collapse back into stability, down, down back into the simpleness of the masses truest belonging and serenity.

    Someone on the left must be doing magic in order to push the system to this extreme. Someone must be practicing the same willful delusional focus that Trump is practicing. Eventually they will be released. The masses would not be pushed so far as they are right now if magic weren’t being practiced by some entity or entities in this world to get what they want. Perhaps the focused will and imagination magic of the ‘think tank’ groups?

  127. Dear Traveler:

    We do indeed have very nice, clean, welcome centers and rest areas. Vermonters are obsessive about keeping the state tidy, we even have a whole day set aside for cleaning up Vermont each year (first Saturday in May) and we Vermonters volunteer in droves to fan out and round up every stray piece of trash, every coffee stirrer, every bottle and can that might blight our beautiful state. You may have noticed that we also don’t allow billboards to block the scenery either.

    There are many rich second- and third-home owners in the state and they do throw money at Keeping Vermont Beautiful. As a group they can be obnoxious in a patronizing, big-city kind of way, but I’m willing to hold my nose while they restore gorgeous old Vermont homes and buildings. Tax-wise, the income tax is relatively high in comparison to some other places, but it’s not horrible in spite of what those Yahoo! articles say about Vermont being one of ‘the worst states to retire in’.

    If you’re going to spend time in Vermont, my suggestion is to look in the tourist information, then plan your visit to avoid all those places and stick to where the real Vermonters live. There’s usually something interesting going on, especially in summer. Lots of farmers and craftspeople have open studio/open farm days; in the spring you can tour sugar houses, too.

  128. Question: Is “Love in the Ruins” still happening? As I understood submissions were to post a link in the comment section here. But i haven’t seen any posts with links. Therefore I am wondering.

  129. Violet–

    Re transgenderism and property values

    It does seem to find its way back to property values, doesn’t it? And to think I was frustrated with having a difficult time getting folks to allow vegetable gardening in the front yard. I hope your experiences improve. I understand and acknowledge the inherent subjectivity of values, but some people’s priorities are just way out of whack.

  130. As always, fascinating commentary!

    A few thoughts:

    – I believe that the internet/social media is essentially our collective consciousness manifested. Using Jung’s metaphors, the right represents the shadow, the left the persona and the rage we feel now is our collective self coming to terms with itself and who we are as a nation.

    – Downward social mobility and economic fear is behind most of the rage and it is being exacerbated by the media (left, right mainstream, alt). The American rags to riches myth is crumbling and people don’t know how to adjust. The media isn’t helping by glorifying wealth, celebrity and consumption. Our role models are narcissists. Advertisers/media have known for years that enraged consumers of content both consume more content and are more susceptible to advertising. C.S. Lewis wrote not of anger, but of another inflammation of emotion and it’s effect on consumption even before the golden age of advertising more than 50 years ago: ” There are people who want to keep our sex instinct inflamed in order to make money out of us. Because, of course, a man with an obsession is a man who has very little sales-resistance.”

    – In some ways we are the children paying for the sins of our forefathers.You mention the prosperity that came with post-WW’s American hegemony,but the high growth engine and “faux” prosperity in America started much earlier at the expense of the Native Americans and slave labor – essentially free land and labor to exploit.

    Spiritual revival is necessary, but there are too many false prophets in every faith and tradition. I personally enjoy combing through the wisdoms of the world looking for threads that can tie us together. Related to this is another idea I explore and meditate on: where does human attraction to anger comes from? Is it biological and a part of our species survival? Or is it merely that the emotion reminds us we are here, we are alive, we are. I suspect both, but like most things can be good and bad and we need to both balance and be more aware of it and it’s consequences.

    – David By The Lake, regarding your comments about:

    “What facilitated my healing and resilience was a materialist analysis of the world that relocated my anxiety from individuals to institutions.

    Focusing our ire on people who receive privilege instead of people who dole it out is a losing strategy for ending oppression. This idea flows from post-structuralist academic theory that sees collective struggle against domination as largely misguided”

    From my understanding this is form of Marxist theory about late stage capitalism that I think many of the commentators here would agree with – they are essentially saying stop focusing your anger on people with privilege (in our society, Caucasian males), because that it is a “losing strategy for ending oppression”, and focus it on changing the system and imbalances that maintain the status quo of the privilege.

    David and Denys, feel free to disagree or not about my interpretation as well as the validity of the Marxist argument, but I did want to point out one thing about your use of the phrase “gobbledygook” – dismissing a counterpoint or culture without trying to understand what is being said is not the answer and is the start of a path that leads to dehumanization – that is literally what happened in America’s wars in South East Asia and where the term “gook” comes from – that the local population spoke “gobbledygook”. I am in no way saying that is where you are going, just that this is where it can lead.

  131. @Justin

    The weirdest part to me, of the push to let very masculine trans women play women’s sports is that I had cisfemale friends who were relegated to the second class of women’s sports – slower, weaker and therefore less interesting to watch as far as most sports fans were concerned – and were deeply bitter about it, because they were *nevertheless skilled enough to play with the men* based on trial results.

    Most women would kill to be allowed “up” in the sports rank if they could – the fight to move down as being gender equality seems so 180.

  132. @ JMG yes, I read the whole post and my comment addressed your emphasis. Of course you can hedge every point with a short statement like “Of course there is rage on the right as well” but everything else in your post focuses on the point that the anger coming from the Left right now is somehow new and worse. I appreciate your posting of dissenting opinions like mine, you are of course perfectly welcome to draw conclusions as you see them, it’s your blog after all, but I would urge you to not take the most extreme and badly-behaved elements of what currently loosely constitutes the “left” as an accurate representation of the leftward-leaning populace at large. Most people are much more reasonable than what you describe.

    Honest question: Do you know actual people, like, locally where you live that have literally dropped everything in their life, stopped going to work, stopped feeding their kids, given up all their hobbies etc to focus exclusively on Trump hating? I find it hard to believe that there are that many people who have done this. Most people are just trying to get by, work a job for income, take care of their families as best they can. They can’t just “drop everything” theey have to soldier on. Or do you mean members of the liberal elite who are independently wealthy and really can clear their schedules to focus exclusively on Trumphate.

    Again, the online world is distorted and it might SEEM like there are a lot of people doing what you describe but I’m sure your lived, physical experience in your community shows something different, no?

    @ Jack I think you nailed it re: whiteness. It’s not a literal call for the elimination of a genetic category (although you will see such extremes on the internet) but rather an elimination of the self-identification with “whiteness” and the associated supremacy that implies. In my opinion, getting rid of that self-identification would clear up a lot of toxicity in our culture. And no, that does not equally apply to black citizens and that has everything to do with power differentials and the very real need for black people to band together as an identity in the face of centuries of terrorism, officially sanctioned and otherwise, perpetrated by those whos identity is tied up in “whiteness”

  133. Re: “To those who feel JMG is too right-wing to be considered a ‘moderate’, I’m curious:

    Where exactly do you consider the center to be?
    Where does ‘moderate’ end and right begin?
    Where does ‘moderate’ end and left begin?”

    What I said earlier about the “Overlapping Too’s.” In today’s climate, Center is where the speaker is. “Moderate” is “Too far left” to the right and “Too far right” to the left. That’s a classic case.

  134. Chris Balow asked JMG “how would characterize the currently ascendant class that will replace the Managerial class of the (now declining) American empire? In broad strokes, how would you define them?” May I put in my $0.02?

    Druglords, gangbangers and Bad Boys of all sorts.

  135. Dear Denys, I also grew up with a screaming Mom, who’s favorite target I was, awkward, bookish plainness not being what she wanted in a daughter. To this day I have serious issues, for want of a better word, with what I think of as bossy cow intemperate intrusiveness. I am afraid I have not yet progressed to smile and let it go. My usual response is something along the lines of how about I mind my own affairs and you take care of yours, which tends to infuriate the kind of folks who don’t respect boundaries.

    Dear Beekeeper, I continue to be suspicious of Rep. Omar; I can’t help thinking she is some kind of DS plant. The public story of how her family came to the USA, 1. is not to me credible, and 2. even as it stands, reveals the presence of financial backing from somewhere. And since when do freshmen congresspersons get placed on the powerful, and highly visible, Foreign Affairs Committee? OTOH, from what I can see, Rep. Tlaib is a conscientious servant of her constituents who is getting right to work on their behalf, and who also happens to be of the Moslem faith, although she makes no parade or spectacle of her religion. I have to say I was quite unimpressed with Omar’s questioning of the despicable Abrams, overlooking as she did such obvious queries as “Do you speak Spanish?”, and “Speaking of democracy, are you aware that Pres. Maduro was elected to his office?”, or even, “Whose interests exactly are you representing?”. However, the attention around Omar does serve the useful purpose of diverting attention from those among the new congresspersons who are the real deal.

  136. JMG, keep up the great work!
    (Long time, no see; I met you at Roosevelt U. in Chicago, in late 2013.)

    You were too easy on C33, about the greater rage now, vs. in the Obama era.
    Back then, the MSM, and GOP brass, didn’t demand a Special Counsel probe into any Obama conduct.
    Only now, with strong evidence emerging that Obama’s DOJ tried to frame Trump, are top GOP folks (e.g. Giuliani, Barr) pushing for a really major probe, into what they call a Watergate+ level scandal.
    What whining the Far Righties (e.g. Birthers) were able to do to Obama was trivial, compared to the cow the Dem brass still throws about Trump and “Russian hacking”, or to Obama’s booting of three dozen diplomats on the last (holiday) weekend of 2016 (which led folks like Chomsky, Steinem, etc., into loud alarm).
    See Greenwald, at https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/glenn-greenwald-after-speaker-rejects-impeachment-does-putin-have-dirt-on-pelosi , on the “deranged, unhinged” handling of this Russia stuff by the Dems & MSM.

  137. @Jack

    On the subject of white as a mental construct-
    This song, lyrics to read included below the video if not wanting to listen:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvhPyRSSakg
    (Blood for Blood white trash anthem)
    would somewhat support your differentiation between being white phenotypically, the European and
    Asian heritage, and a culture of whiteness or whatever you’ll call it.

    The album is from 2002; it says “you say you know me, you say you’re from my world…” directed from the fallen working class punk to the white middle class people.

    It’s probably that before identity politics the left also included the idealized poor white in the canon of worthily suffering people.

    Certainly America has a distinct way of being “white” culturally, because in Europe and the more east you go, the less you have a genuine history of these race categories.
    But it was pretty soon engraved in the protestant anglo saxon colonies of US and South Africa.

    Remember that the writer Pushkin descended from an army general that had an African father and a few notable africans also served the army or completed university in Central and Eastern Europe before 1800.

    Considering the current debate about the liberals worldview, I remember a probably center right wing turkish student 10 years ago claiming the academics in his home misused the plight of the poor as a poetic inspiration for their own gain.

    Given the current context of identity politics, that makes sense.

    But to circle back to your definition of whiteness in the current leftward or whatyoucallit end and academia, I think most public statements with a range of publicity about “whiteness” do not make your distinguishment; I’d rather say that others commenting here have justifiably stated this may just be a resource shortage causing frenzy to eliminate people.

    And that behind the originate debates of race, gender, class, minorities etc there were people who truly reasoned in a fair manner and had good intentions, barely anyone around here doubts.

  138. @Aldabra

    Even “most disadvantages” is not a sharp and clearly defined term, besides that being interested in disadvantages includes listening to various people, not necessarily in the strictly bound categories you give.

    Besides, the CLAIM to help at someone’s disadvantage is not immune to criticism, and besides the claim WHO is disadvantaged at what is not immune to criticism.

    I might say that your garden variety hobo is the most disadvantaged, if we’re taking a trans super minority fashion designer in an all liberal social context as control group. Just as an example. I tend to like not to stick to all too fixed categories and determinism in who’s worthy of my genuine compassion now or in the future.

    There may be people getting loud at listening to a disadvantaged group because they, well 1) actively dislike the group in question 2) don’t care or otherwise also 3) do not take ANY person’s claim or obvious disadvantage as an excuse for virtually everything, neither even a third and seemingly uninvolved person as a judge

  139. John–

    The class perspective on this whole phenomenon is truly fascinating. I observe the ripples of events around me, the disconcerting sense that some have about where this “ramshackle edifice” of ours is heading, and then I look at my place in that system. This last bit always opens my eyes a tad wider, as I have to occasionally remind myself that I am part of this system and not an external observer of it.

    I am keenly aware, for example, of where I sit economically. I am very much a part of that technocratic managerial class that is in the process of getting displaced. My job, for example, exists because we have a regionally-managed power grid, and not an isolated municipal electric system. That regionally-managed grid operates power markets that produce prices because a vast system of equations gets solved every five-minutes by modern computing power and dispatches power plants throughout the middle part of the US (from the Dakotas to Michigan to Louisiana). If we were only supplying the city, and not buying and selling and managing market risk as we do, my job would not be needed.

    I look at my family finances and cringe a bit, as we sit uncomfortably close to the upper quartile. (Uncomfortable in a psychological sense, as I don’t think of myself as one of “those people.”) We are very much upper-middle, probably within shouting distance of some definitions of upper class. We don’t live like it, of course–not even close–which is the main reason we are as well-off as we are, but the notion itself is quite unsettling.

    By standard views of such things, and looking at my economic interests, I ought to have been a solid Clinton supporter in 2016 and ought to be cheering on any of the various interchangeable status quo ante Democratic contenders lining up–most particularly Biden, whom I believe represents that desire to revert to the “golden time of Obama” the most clearly. Yet I am not and that confuses some folks.

    The rage I see rolling through the landscape is disconcerting in that I can see fairly clearly how the people around cannot see what is happening to them and I have given up trying to explain because I have gotten shouted down too many times. Fortunately, I live in a more “reasonable” area, somewhat more blue-collar and not at all an upper-middle bubble, but my cyber-associations have tended to be more class-peers and those are what I have begun to trim over these last years. Perhaps it is that I need to see myself less as a green apple in a basket of red apples, but rather simply as an apple among apples. (Actually, I need to realize that I’m an apple in the basket to begin with, and not a remote observer standing next to that basket, but I think you understand what I’m trying to say.)

    Apologies for the ramble. It’s just weird when I remind myself to look at it from the perspective of being a part of it all.

  140. I agree that the rage is even worse than against, say, Reagan or Bush. For a while there back in 2016, I assumed Trump would be assasinated and everyone opposed to him would take the credit, even if they weren´t anywhere near the scene of the crime!

    Of course leftists oppose, or even hate, Trump but why do they seem to hate him even more than Reagan, Bush Senior or Bush Junior who objectively speaking did far worse things than Trump, at least from a progressive leftist perspective? Trump is a pale reflection of Reagan (one of his idols), for instance.

    Also, I get the impression that racism and homophobia (and perhaps transphobia in the US) are seen as *the* original sins by progressives, abstracted from everything else. This is most galling when people who support free market reforms (more capitalism) nevertheless gets sort-of-accepted by the left by making “woke” statements about immigrants or gays. Perhaps denial of climate change is becoming another such original sin? Or deadly sin, or whatever is the theologically correct term.

    If so, Trump is doing really bad on most symbolic metrics (except maybe homophobia – I haven´t seen him attack gays), but the day when, say, taking away working people´s jobs is seen as equally bad is still far off…

    Another observation: wasn´t there a lot of attempts to portray Reagan, Bush Junior and Bush Senior´s VP Quayle as ignorant country bumpkins? I get the impression that Trump was originally also portrayed as the great ignoramus, but as it became more obvious that he was going to win, the Literally Hitler and Beyond Voldemort narratives took over more and more.

    Perhaps certain groups in society viscerally feel that their time is up, and therefore react in this hysterical way. The Dems evidently didn´t feel that way even under Reagan or the Bushes…

  141. The argument that we should ignore biology, and get into bed with anyone who we connect with on an intellectual/emotional level if taken to its logical extreme is fairly absurd: in healthy families siblings ought to be quite eager to date.

    Granted, any idea can be taken to an absurdity, but in this case, I think it follows from the premise, and suggests the premise is flawed.

    Middleschoolteacher,

    I have a particularly egregious example of what you’re talking about. In high school one of my classmates tweeted a picture of the exam. It was not marked, and his parents threatened to sue the school if the exam wasn’t marked. The school ultimately caved, since they decided the bad publicity wouldn’t be worth it.

    Violet,

    I’ve generally kept my distance, since I’m almost straight, and the community seemed too sexual for my tastes. But as a very interested observer, yeah it seems to have gotten toxic. I’m also a little concerned that a lot of people are being pressured to change genders too early, and I think it’ll end badly (had I been born 10 years later I think I might have fallen into that trap).

    The biggest issue I see here is that there are people who genuinely benefit from transitioning, but there aren’t an enormous number, and lots of people have issues during puberty that resolve over time. This seems to suggest that a lot of the people who are being pressured to transition will regret it, which will cause a backlash, harming those who actually benefit from transitioning.

  142. SarahDee, yeah, I don’t see any issue with making men’s sports fully inclusive while allowing biological women to exclude others from their sports. Of course, outliers always exist and at elite levels dominate. For instance there is a very success Peruvian cyclist who kills it in the Alps in the Tour de France because he is a mutant with more red blood cells than the most shameless blood doper. His body happens to have given him the same result that most humans can only achieve through blood doping – is it fair to let him compete? Of course.

    Something I’ve thought about is the fact that I could go to a doctor and get prescribed hormones to make me more feminine – but for instance, if I said I wanted to be more traditionally masculine and wanted some synthetic testosterone, I’d be denied – even though a woman could in fact obtain regular injections of synthetic testosterone from the Canadian healthcare system.

  143. Simo, thanks for this. Populism continues to build — not surprisingly, as the alternative isn’t working well. (What’s the opposite of populism? Why, elitism, of course…)

    Jason P., thanks for this. For what it’s worth, I’m also opposed to illegal immigration because illegal immigrants have no rights and are ruthlessly exploited (and not just by big corporations — look into how the well-to-do treat their illegal-immigrant domestic servants sometime). Stopping illegal immigration will help make sure that all immigrants to this country have legal standing and civil rights. No doubt, in the eyes of the extreme left, that makes me a goose-stepping Nazi…

    Sunnv, thank you.

    Denys, thank you! I passed your tactic on to my wife, who grinned and will probably be using it the next time someone throws a rage fit at her. She’s unfashionably plump, thus a fair number of total strangers think they can do that.

    Gnat, microplastics are doubtless part of it, and so are chemicals that imitate or interfere with hormones, which are dumped in pretty significant quantities into the environment these days. As for the current ragefest, exactly. Do you know of anyone who committed suicide when Obama was elected?

    Tripp, heh heh heh.

    Violet, my guess is that their Wahhabi phase will be as brief as most ex-hippies’ Jesus People phase was — a little over two years seems to be standard. During that interval, though, your best bet will likely be to avoid them utterly.

    Justin, that’s a really odd image. Still, I get the sense that the same deep forces that emerged in the 2016 election are building toward 2020.

    Sam, fair enough, but doing it in a way that will keep a lot of people from taking you seriously may not be useful.

    Jack, fair enough. I’m tolerably familiar with the invention and history of the concept of “whiteness” as a category for certain ethnicities. If the activists want to take apart that category, though, they’re going about it in a very odd way — insisting that every possible interaction among ethnic groups must be focused through the filter of “white people vs. people of color” strikes me as a great way to strengthen the “whiteness” construct, not to dissolve it. And of course insisting that people of color deserve reparations for the wrongs done to their great-great-great-great-grandparents, while angrily dismissing the notion that (say) I should get something from the British government because of the very real wrongs my ancestors suffered during the Highland clearances, does nothing to dissolve the construct of “whiteness” — it reinforces the construct by defining “white people” as the sole people whose historical sufferings are uniquely unworthy of redress.

    Isabel, thanks for this. I’ve noticed tolerably often that these claims that it’s “shallow” to pay attention to physical appearance, et al, tend to go with an overdeveloped sense of sexual entitlement, on the one hand, and some combination of appearance, behavior, and hygiene that does a good job of driving off potential romantic partners, on the other…

    Just Me, interesting, The author makes a useful point but, to my mind, pushes it much further than it will really go.

    David BTL, to my mind that’s the best hypothesis yet to explain Trump’s behavior.

    Austin, you’re not restating the obvious, you’re making a valid point. A case could be made, in fact, that the social justice movement functions primarily as a way to simplify a complex world. Instead of dealing with complex concepts and puzzling moral quandaries, everything is forced into a rigidly simplistic worldview in which reciting Good Slogans and hating Bad People are the most intellectually demanding tasks you face.

    Beekeeper, bingo. It astonishes me that the Democrats are being stupid enough to let Trump push them into supporting Omar’s deliberately provocative statements. Every time they rush to her defense, more Democratic voters who are alienated by what she says start wondering if they’d look better in a red hat…

    Chris Balow, we don’t know yet. The groups that took over after 1860 and 1932 hadn’t yet become the capitalist and managerial classes they became once power fell into their hands. They were simply clever enough, or passionate enough, or lucky enough, to back the right horse, and the nature of the power they ended up wielding unfolded not from any specific policy or predisposition on their part, but from the nature of American society at that stage of its evolution. In this case? It depends on what kind of economy takes shape in the US as its imperial era winds down.

    Aldabra, yes, that’s the theory. In practice, privileging the experience of those who have been given the label of “most disadvantaged” is a way of shutting down any attention to all the other disadvantaged people who are not included in that label. Do you recall the history of feminism in the left-wing political movements of the 1960s? Women were constantly being told that their concerns didn’t matter because it was so important to work for the liberation of people of color, or what have you — thus giving a pass to the rampant exploitation of women in left-wing political circles at that time. In exactly the same way, the current focus on transwomen of color has become a way of shutting off discussion of the concerns of everyone who doesn’t belong to that very small category. And, of course, insisting that anyone who objects to the narrowing of focus just wants to keep exploiting transwomen of color (or whoever the Most Disadvantaged Person is this week) is one of the standard rhetorical tricks used in that act of silencing.

    Nathan, there’s a grand old word for the condition that privileged people tend to get into when they go too long with no real challenges, no risks, just all the food and comforts and goodies they want. That word is “decadence.” I believe that’s what you’re talking about…

    Bridge, anger is usually a secondary emotion used to hide fear, shame, or grief. My guess is that it’s mostly shame in this case, since a very large number of the people who are shouting “Orange Man Bad!” the most loudly are actively benefiting from all the things they claim to oppose.

    DaShui, yep. At this point we’re only a couple of decades from the point at which antibiotics no longer do enough good to matter.

    Patricia, sounds like the last cat Sara and I had (her allergies won’t permit pets these days). She made it to 18 before her kidneys finally gave out. I wish Spot a painless transition and a splendid new incarnation thereafter.

    Dewey, and of course the fact that your point of view is backed by the entire mainstream media, most of corporate America, a majority of the Federal judiciary, and a great many other power centers, doesn’t factor into your analysis. No, if people on your side of things make extreme comments they’re just harmless zanies who can’t actually threaten anybody, while anything anyone on Trump’s side of things says is proof that the Orange Man is just as evilly evil as you want him to be. I’d ask whether you might just see the fairly obvious double standard there, but you’ve made it tolerably clear that that’s not an option for you.

    Jim, I doubt Sanders will do anything of the kind — his radicalism isn’t even skin deep; it’s just a fashionable pose over the top of business as usual — but that’s one angle that a future president might well take.

    Marty, that seems like a good metaphor for the usual process.

    Belle, yes, it is — in fact someone posted a poem entry for the contest a little below your question. Please do write and submit your story!

    Docshibby, I’m coming to think that downward mobility and the twilight of empire really is a core factor here.

    Josh, yes, I thought you would take what I said and try to twist it out of shape to score points. (Perhaps you can show me where I suggested that people were quitting their jobs and no longer feeding their kids.) That kind of cheap rhetorical gimmick does no credit to your viewpoint, you know. As it happens, my wife — who has a wider circle of friends and acquaintances than I do — knows one person who killed herself in despair the day after Trump won the election, citing his victory as the reason, and another person who quit her job to “fight Trump” full time — she couch surfs these days, going from one protest march to the next.

    Those are outliers, though. The people I’m discussing, as I’m sure you’re perfectly well aware, are the ones who are going to work and denouncing Trump nonstop at the water cooler, feeding their children while listening avidly to Rachel Maddow’s latest denunciation of Trump, unfriending anyone on social media who doesn’t go along with the most absurd accusations directed at the man, and so on. Oh, and they troll blogs like this one tolerably often, too. Yes, I know quite a few people like that.

  144. Patricia M, granted, but there’s some value in having less purely subjective labels for political stances. As for your $0.02, well, we’ll see. My guess is different, but it’s early days yet.

    aNanyMouse, long time no see indeed! Thanks for this. The main thing I took away from the Obama years was the stunning hypocrisy of all those people who busily excused Obama for all the things for which they’d spent eight years shrieking denunciations at George W. Bush. (That was when I lost my last scraps of respect for the privileged left in this country.) You’re right, of course, that the differences are significant, and of course many of them come from the fact that Obama had the corporate-imperial elite on his side while Trump does not.

    Hereward, got it and thank you! You’re in the competition.

    David, excellent! Yes, it’s weird, but it’s necessary — and it’s precisely when people who are part of the current elite class recognize that business as usual isn’t working, and change is necessary, that change becomes not merely possible but inevitable.

    Troy, that’s one of the reasons I rent server space for this blog rather than using a big corporate platform like Blogger, and don’t rely on the big corporate social media. It’s a lot harder for a dissident voice to be silenced that way.

    Janitor, delighted to hear it. I drew on a couple of cases I know about personally for that aspect of Dreamlands.

    Tidlosa, bingo. That’s the thing that makes all this so strange. Objectively speaking, Trump has done much less harm to the groups the Democrats claim to be defending than most of the other GOP presidents we’ve had recently. I recall plenty of people on the left, for that matter, insisting before the man was even inaugurated that he was the worst president in US history. That’s one of the things that got me thinking about the weirdly subjective nature of the hatred being flung at him these days.

    Will, but it’s a very typical sort of notion in Western culture. The claim that the soul or spirit or intellect is what should really matter and the body doesn’t get to put a word in edgewise crops up all through our cultural traditions — it never works well, but it’s always hovering there as a bad but appealing option.

    Arrow, I write what I want to write, for those who want to read it. If you don’t, why, there are millions of other blogs out there. Happy trails!

    David, got it! You’re in the competition.

  145. and whose subjective experience of the world will therefore be assigned the same sort of infallibility that traditional Catholics assign to the Pope.

    Speaking as just such a Catholic, it is worse than that. The Pope is only Infallible when he speaks ex cathedra on a matter of faith or morals.

  146. The best part of being broke is not having to give a damn about any of this….eating and keepin a roof over your head is front and center. Let the rich people duke it out till they’re exhausted, beat down and busted, maybe then they’ll leave the rest of us alone.

  147. Hi JMG,

    We truly seem to be in an era of numerous intersecting reality dysphorias and derangement syndromes, all bubbling out from beneath the lid since the heat’s rising. We’ve passed Peak Global Industrial Civilization and Peak Net Energy and can’t accept that ‘there is no brighter future”. Everyone senses that the pie is shrinking but It seems particularly infuriating for the privileged classes. In a very real sense though, we are all in the precariat now.

    We’re progressing along quite nicely in our decline and fall, it’s just not the kind of progress we were expecting. The slog through this Age of Hard Limits and Consequences will be long and arduous, as you have so astutely catalogued for many years. Woody Allen’s delicious dark humor comes to mind often these days: “More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”

    Thanks for the photo of Prez Donna Trump…it makes me laugh out loud every time I look at it and imagine the possibilities. Comic relief is always welcome!

    Jim

  148. Accuracy aside, the current use of intersectionalism is strategically stupid. On one hand, the enemy is defined as ‘white guys’ – so a whole spectrum is unified in a single group; on the other, the ‘oppressed’ have been sub-sub-sub-divided into a myriad tiny factions. Dividing your own side while unifying your enemies is literally the opposite of a good strategy.

  149. Coop Janitor: another example of such cutting edge surgery can be found very near the end of Lois McMaster Bujold’s novel The Curse of Chalion. Cazaril, the hero (a title he’d disclaim, since he just did what he had to) undergoes it in a battle in which the Daughter of Spring, goddess of young women, education …. aah, just think Minerva. With flowers….sorry, no spoilers. But I think you might like it. BTW, I can not only imagine the music of Chalion, especially those of the choirs, you could probably find it on CD under The Greatest Hits of the Early Renaissance.

    @JMG – oh, do I remember the feminism of that era. I gave up on N.O.W. when they started claiming that nukes were a feminist issue,the draft was a feminist issue, everybody else’s cause was a feminist issue … and did any of these groups we rushed to support ever return the favor? And by then they were down to exactly what my “pagan church” of long standing is …. 5 old ladies at the core.

    And thank you for the comment on Spot. He is already on a kidney diet on which he was losing weight, when the vet added a high calorie supplement (k/d and a/d respectively). Whether he will be strong enough to withstand relocation, I have no clue, but he’s very happy at home. Or at least, I’ve caught him purring a few times this week. I have an altar to Bast, who I’m sure will help him through.

  150. Weird synchronicity here, but a while back I asked friends what their pet peeves are. One of them, who’s Cree, responded today with this, reposted with permission: “The white people who tell me my experiences of racism don’t matter, because they know what’s racist, and my experience doesn’t count.”

  151. I know that casting threads are not customary here, but I love the comment on Nyarlathotep in the TOR books review of The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath:

    “Benedict Cumberbatch will play him in the mini-series.”

    Of course! Perfect!

  152. Thomas, I stand corrected. Thank you for this.

    Dennis, in the immortal words of Wowbagger the Indefinitely Prolonged, a being can dream…

    Njguy, no, we’re not. If you want a second glimpse into the same rather shallow abyss, try the search term “girl penis,” in quotes.

    Jim, thank you for getting it. And you’re welcome for Donna Trump — I spotted that while looking for a suitable image for this post, and giggled.

    Kfish, you’ll get no argument from me. Then, of course, they cap it off with the further stupidity of denouncing everyone who doesn’t have enough axes of oppression, which means that most of their potential allies shrug and walk away, and some of those, ahem, #walkaway straight into the Trump camp.

    Patricia M, yep. That kind of predatory parasitism is still all over leftward politics, and has some foothold on the right — gun ownership and opposition to abortion are the causes that most often parasitize conservative groups, and as often as not bleed them dry. I hope someday people catch on, and work out defenses against co-optation.

    Will J, a lot of people of color I know feel that way.

    Patricia M, I’ll have to find out one of these days what a Benedict Cumberbatch is; it sounds like something complex one does to eggs.

    Will J, hmm. A very good question to which I don’t know the answer.

  153. The discussion here has been brilliant. I want to thank you all for giving me much to meditate about.

    The comments on whiteness made me think of Tim Pool, who is a commentator on YouTube who often discusses his own mix of Filipino and white. Tim Pool grew up lower-middle class in a rough neighborhood in Chicago. He says the worst racism he’s seen has been from white woke leftists. Here is a video (no transcript available, sorry) where he goes off on the soft racism of low expectations displayed by white liberals when they interact with black people: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLWttFJFBp

    Social justice types bandy about terms like “person of color”, which translated from the Bullshiftese, means “any person who is not white”. I find the term “person of color” to be mildly offensive. Like Tim Pool, I’m half-Asian and half-white, so that means I occupy a status of neither and both when it comes to the ridiculous “What color are you?” game. Once I found myself snapping at a woke liberal black woman who accused me of white privilege that I had no less than four great-grandparents who went through the Japanese internment camps and that I was exactly as white as Barack Obama. I’m glad I don’t bother with that sort of person anymore in any arena. The idea of reparations is stupid. What do halfsies like me do — does my Italian-Irish side write my Japanese side a check? We’re quickly entering a future where everyone’s like me: half-something and half-something else. It’s not a big deal; just ask anyone from Brazil.

  154. So: speaking of elites and Trump, earlier today, the Mueller report was released, and Seth Abramson spent 16 hours on an epic, 452 tweet-long twitter thread which sought to prove that the Mueller report, did, in fact, find enough evidence to impeach and imprison President Trump. The widespread reaction to Seth’s tweet storm was mockery and derision.
    This tweet is my personal favorite:

    “337/ See? Mueller knows *exactly* how to express himself when he means to say there is “no evidence.” Anytime he doesn’t use language like this (below), he’s saying there *is* evidence (or an equivalent term,”proof” of some kind):”

  155. As for the SJW madness, I should point out that they “loony Left” does not need political power to inflict tremendous damage on society. The problem, is that they have the institutional power (mostly via the universities) to erase the cultural memory of Western Civilization entirely. It is not just Confederate statues we are talking about here.

    Rod Dreher, on his blog, has been chronicling the destruction wrought by faculty, staff and left-wing mobs in colleges and universities all across the U.S. This story from MIT, about the chief librarian trying to purge the book stacks of “whiteness” is particularly disturbing.

    I believe that anyone on this blog who can do so, should get copies of the Great Books series, the Harvard Loeb Classics series, and any set of the Encyclopedia Britannica published before ca. 1980 if at all possible. Beyond that, any of the great classics of Western and Russian literature should be added, as resources permit.

    We laugh at the antics of the “loony Left” and comfort ourselves that they will be swept from political office. That may be, but these people still have the institutional power to wreck intellectual life altogether.

  156. Well, as a trans-yuggothian Old* One of Color (from outer space), I no longer feel safe here and feel I need to go back to my lair on the Plateau of Leng. I’m afraid you’ve just lost another reader, Mr Greer! I demand that the government and media companies and large corporations be given unlimited power to deplatform Mr Greer, destroy his reputation, remove his ability to express his views freely, and prevent him from obtaining an income so I can feel safe again (since I’m definitely not responsible for my own emotions).

    By the way, we are not really evil otherworldly nightmares who want to eat your souls, and if we are, it’s only because of white supremacy, which makes it OK.

    Regards,

    (An unpronouncable name here followeth)

    * ZOMG, ageist much?!

  157. @JMG: Ha! I could, perhaps unsurprisingly, go on a fairly lengthy rant about that one. (One of the reasons I took my last romantic disappointment so hard is that the guy in question is one of a countable-on-my-hands-number in my age group and MA social circle who actually seems to put any effort into taking care of himself and/or behaving charmingly. Lovecraft’s gulfs of chaos have nothing on The Yawning Abyss of Men Who Think Cargo Shorts Are Formal Wear And Refuse To Go Dancing, when you’re a heterosexual chick in the market.)

    I’m all for portraying a wider range of people as love interests in fiction, and against the phenomenon that some of my trans friends and larger women friends have run into, where guys are all over them in private but don’t want to publicly date them because of what their friends will say. And I firmly believe that attractiveness shouldn’t matter at all when judging someone as a person, or their fitness for a job, or whatnot (although basic grooming and appropriate-clothing-for-the-occasions standards still apply)–but sex and romance *do* have a strong physical component for the majority of us, even though our criteria in that area vary a lot from person to person, and trying to shame people for that leads nowhere good.

    On a more occult-theory level, I wonder if this sort of thing is another symptom of the Hod/Netzach imbalance in our society, of the aversion to Malkuth/the physical world in general, or both.

  158. @Docshibby – I said the language (gobblygook) used by SJW’s is akin to language used by those in a cult. Most cults have an apocalyptic view of the world, often stated as “if you don’t believe what we believe, then we are all going to die.” So of course in the cult worldview calling language gobbledygook is akin to genocide.

    So here’s the question – if you believe two people calling language gobbledygook is proof that those two people want to wipe out (genocide) SJW’s, what action would you take in response? Would you physically attack them? Shoot them? Wipe them out first?

    Two people used words to talk about words. If the response is physical violence, the problem isn’t the people using words, it’s the people thinking that violence fixes things.

  159. @JMG The phrase “you have no right to speak to me this way” phrase – the key is in the tone and delivery, the actual wording is flexible. Think of it as the way southern women say “bless your heart”. Smile, look innocent, maybe even preface it with “oh honey”, say it with a soft tone and little pity in the voice. It gives the effect that they don’t know who they just said that too. As if you are a secret billionaire or someone famous, and the offender just didn’t know it. The reaction is priceless!

    It still amazes me that random strangers feel that they can walk up and tell someone what they think about them. If she was getting it from co-workers or neighbors, that is something else.

    You’ve changed my viewpoint on overweight people. I, too, used to think of it as some kind of failing on the person’s part. Now I’m thinking the weight isn’t just an individual issue. It seems like there are some people who are bearing the brunt of our culture as a whole and physically carrying it around. They are attuned some way and hold it. I don’t know what the “it” is. Despite decades of teachings on diet and exercise, the number of overweight people keeps going up while at the same time we have all these amateur athletes everywhere. So it’s like depending on how the person is connected in to the universe, is how it shows up in their body.

    Don’t know if I am making much sense, rambling a bit, and trying to keep it short.

    Anyway, if I make it up for the picnic, your wife and I can practice. lol

  160. @ David, currently I am rereading Claude Steiner’s text on Transactional Analysis, _Scripts People Live_. He makes notes on the sorts of relationship games people play in conflict. Reading your comment, reflecting on my experiences and reading Steiner causes me to see that the game of “Property Values” is a serious game that people play. Those who own property are in an inherent one-up position to everyone else. The basic premise is that “my equity is more important than you.” That is to say, property values may have nothing to do with property values, rather it’s a power play based upon current notions of “respectability.”

    @ Will J, different strokes for different folks! I have a lot of sexual energy and have had satisfying relationships with men, women and trans-folk, and so for awhile I found queer community very much to my taste. Then it grew increasingly evil, and now I strictly avoid it. I still have a few friendships from that time, but literally two.

    Personally I find the trend of transitioning children as a sort of parental fashion statement to be utterly and singularly egregious. To my mind this is at the foot-binding and genital-mutilation level of child abuse. People never seem to consider that children may transition because of parental attributions and injunctions. That is, perhaps Mother always said “you’re not like the other boys; you’re feminine sensitive and nurturing; don’t be masculine; don’t play rough; don’t be a boy,” and so at three years old the child says “I’m a girl.” Obviously, a nasty headtrip was played on a child who given these hypothetical attributions and injunctions who then “spontaneously” decides that he is a girl. Of course, the parents leap up to support him in his early transition because they programed him to do it. And off to the doctors they go.

    Off course there’s going to be blowback towards transgender folks in general in ways that aren’t fair given all of this horrific behavior paraded around as the cutting edge of Progress. And naturally as a trans woman this makes me jiggy. That said I take comfort in reminding myself that this is what living in a declining civilization looks like, working a lot of protection and listening to old-time blues music in which jokes are cracked in the midst of descriptions of extremely painful and often insoluble troubles.

    @ JMG, The whole elective identity racket and the anger as empowerment seem to me to be Positive Thinking in a funhouse mirror. So you get the Tinkerbell theory of Belief regarding elective identities and then you get this fixation on the emotional state of empowering anger — and people use these techniques to get their way and, regardless of anything else, these techniques do actually work a lot of the time. Granted this seems to me obviously cacomagic, but nonetheless I can’t help but to see is as one branch of the magic of the privileged.

    That said, you point out in the Kek Wars that magic is the politics of the excluded and also to the excluders. Given how faulty the wiring is on the Left, I wonder if there are the fingerprints of alt-right mages on the circuits of the elective identity, anger as empowerment, and obsessive focus on the Most Oppressed Person Ever. The mental plane wiring on the Left seems jerry rigged to do little more than short-circuit, spray sparks, and meltdown. Certainly quite a few alt-right memes that I’ve seen seem to be carefully designed to rewire the leftist circuitry to be just a bit more self-defeating, to produce a bit more smoke and a bit less light. Rinse and repeat and you start to get the overpowering smell of burning plastic! I don’t wish to imply that some sinister other is responsible for the Left’s ongoing meltdown, but it seems like there are people definitely working to subtly trick the Left into doubling down on its worst tendencies, and that these tricks appear to be working very, very well, and can perhaps account for many of the ways that the zeitgeist seems different. I doubt that the Obama or Clinton elections involved full on, grassroots magical warfare like we saw in 2016 and we are seeing now.

  161. This by Caitlin Johnstone speaks more to me:
    https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/the-illusory-truth-effect-how-millions-were-duped-by-russiagate-61199bfbe325
    …they were told that the Russiagate narrative was legitimate over and over again by politicians and mass media pundits, and, because of a peculiar phenomenon in the nature of human cognition, this repetition made it seem true.

    Does not the Trump base exhibit the same attachment to ‘subjective truth’ when it comes to climate science or perhaps even the Qanon conspiracy theory ?
    I read accusations daily that the identitarianism of the fake/ liberal Left is a deliberate insurgency designed to undermine the original class focus of the ‘old Left’. I wonder if we all have to identify as something, be that ‘worker’, ‘white’, ‘American’, ‘Jewish’, ‘gay’, ‘man’, ‘non binary gender’ etc. The politics of ‘Left’ and Right which focuses on identity seems to have evolved to divert discussion of class.

  162. Distantly on topic: have you been following the Extinction Rebellion climate change protests in Britain? I’ve been cutting back on reading the news in general, but I’ve been scanning headlines and some things happening with those protests caught my eye.

    This past week climate change protestors have been engaging in civil disobedience / disrupting everyday people’s lives (depending on one’s political stance), and recently had a protest at Heathrow Airport. In today’s Guardian, I noticed an article saying that Greta Thunberg hopes to join the protestors during her upcoming visit to London, and the article goes on to detail her trips around Europe to speak to leaders, etc.

    It doesn’t detail, however, what type of transport she is using to travel around Europe. It would be highly ironic if the literal poster child for environmental activism these days ends up landing in Heathrow a few days after an environmental protest there, and then meets with the very same protestors to join their protest against climate change.

    I couldn’t help notice while looking into it further that George Monbiot wrote a column about Extinction Rebellion a few days earlier which included this passage:

    Had we put as much effort into preventing environmental catastrophe as we’ve spent on making excuses for inaction, we would have solved it by now. Everywhere I look, I see people engaged in furious attempts to fend off the moral challenge it presents.

    The commonest current excuse is this: “I bet those protesters have phones/go on holiday/wear leather shoes.” In other words, we won’t listen to anyone who is not living naked in a barrel, subsisting only on murky water. Of course, if you are living naked in a barrel we will dismiss you too, because you’re a hippie weirdo. Every messenger, and every message they bear, is disqualified on the grounds of either impurity or purity.

    Source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/15/rebellion-prevent-ecological-apocalypse-civil-disobedience

    It is interesting, and disheartening, to see how ‘walking one’s talk’ is presented here as an excuse for inaction. Monbiot presents civil disobedience as the only way forward. Meanwhile, the protests are likely being seen by the majority of people affected by them as disruptions, and they could very well backfire by further polarizing the protestors and those affected by them (aided of course by a media which wants to maintain the status quo). Sad to see.

  163. @Twin Ruler @John Michael Greer

    “faux solipsism” aka narcissism ?

    (I apologize in advance by just posting quotes rather than expressing my own thoughts, I’m too pressed for time this week and next, but this feels too important to not share…)

    https://samzdat.com/2017/08/28/the-uruk-machine/
    “Narcissism is the moment when identity becomes absolute. It shares a lot of features with Hoffer’s frustration (not a coincidence), but it is more modern. It’s the result of frustration everywhere, not merely in the office.

    Narcissism essentially comes from a weakness of self. There’s a lack of clear boundaries, of judgments between good and bad, making everything a strange hodgepodge of “images” rather than concrete actions. When everything becomes image rather than action, you can’t judge the value of any act. You can only judge what it “looks like”. But when all of society is doing that, it means that you’re being judged on everything. After all, you may not always be acting, but you are always appearing. When it’s your appearance that determines worth, there is no moment to rest. There’s a social invasion.

    Defenses are the attempt to deal with that. One clear way is to manipulate everyone around you into “seeing” you a certain way. This, of course, makes everything about you. Another way is more explicit: it’s the attempt to turn everything into an aspect of the image you present, to redirect all stimuli towards your mask. But the main way, which takes place underneath this all, is to frantically distance yourself from yourself. Your “real worth” isn’t the image, but neither can it be proven or disproven by actions. Those aren’t, of course, meaningful.

    Narcissism is essentially about the weird tension between making everything about you while also hollowing out the self. It’s hard to describe without falling into moralistic language, but it isn’t bad at its core. Lasch thinks of it as, essentially, a decent defense mechanism against the modern world. That’s also why he thinks of it as less of a psychological flaw than a social tool – it doesn’t really matter if someone actually has NPD if everyone acts like it to one another. Indeed, even asking “Is this a real mass ailment or just analogous to how people behave socially?” falls into what he’s trying to describe: “But really, I’m not a narcissist. I just act like it.” = “I am so much more than my actions.”

    Like Hoffer, this undercuts the value of meaningful action. It’s also incredibly frustrating and, of course, the best mass movements are those that frustrate everyone. One way to take the two is to assume that “narcissism” is actually just the largest mass movement in the United States.”

    https://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2012/10/the_story_of_narcissus.html
    “When you want a child to become something– you first teach him how to master his impulses, how to live with frustration. But when a temptation arose Narcissus’s parents either let him have it or hid it from him so he wouldn’t be tempted, so they wouldn’t have to tell him no. They didn’t teach him how to resist temptation, how to deal with lack. And they most certainly didn’t teach him how NOT to want what he couldn’t have. They didn’t teach him how to want.

    The result was that he stopped having desires and instead desired the feeling of desire.”

    P.S.: I see that @Docshibby has already alluded to some of it…

  164. Greetings from FL.

    1) I’m a Liberal, I know many liberal friends, (albeit mostly in real life, (IRL) and none of your examples are remotely familiar to me. So, yes, I too am inclined to think they may be on the crazy extremist fringes and not representative of dare-I-say-MOST Liberals. Who knows, maybe I’m still living in a bubble.

    2)I do see some of it online – especially if (as here) I am directed to some obscure webpage or blog devoted to such things. But even there – I’m also inclined to fall back on “Key-Board Warrior Theory”. People are anonymous online and feel free to act out , (type out) far more strident things than they would IRL. They also try out the sound of many old brain-queefs that pop into and out of their heads, so even a ‘revolution’ online doesn’t really bother me too much.

    3) I want to interject – I think it is a pesky trait of human nature for us to easily spot the mote in someone else’s eye whilst it is difficult for us to see the plank in our own, (well, makes sense right? Hard to see if around a plank). We do ALL of us do have our subjective reality or view. I am a self-describing leftie, (old school) and I found the effigies of Obama with a noose around the neck at those 2008/2009 town halls and generally, the shrill rage of the right to be more alarming. If one naturally leans conservative in their world view, they would of course see the shrill crazy rage of the left as extremely alarming and frightening/disturbing. I think the best we can do is to be aware of that, and that our subjective view is not the whole picture. To temper our actions and responses by truly listening to the other person before responding. Online – I guess that would mean consciously using our empathy and trying to earnestly parse out the intent before responding.

    4) Yes, I agree, the impending collapse is most likely what’s got everybody so on edge and ready to fight. Most folks just don’t know what they’re fighting against or for yet.

    @ Docshibby – well put! I think the ‘collapse of the empire’ as we refer to it here in this region of the blogosphere is precisely manifesting itself to most first world people as downward mobility, loss of certain creature comforts, economic freedoms, security, etc. We are all seeing our world trending that way and still at the point of not being able to look it square in the face. I think this is why the facet of average USA middle class life: ‘getting your kid into a “good” college’ has become the penultimate death match. It seems to them the only way to escape the landslide of downward mobility.

    5) I think what is often cited but vastly underrated is the way this online interaction, discourse, information gathering and deciphering – LIVING online has changed our psyches – the way we think and feel about things. I know people HATED Reagan and GWBush with all their hearts, (I’m sure it was the same with Carter, Clinton, Obama on the rightward aisle) – but they lived in the real world in those days (especially the Reagan years with no internet at all) so they couldn’t go too far down the rabbit hole even if they tried. I agree that the intensity of the rage and angst over politics is higher, but I think a lot of it is because so many people get their social interaction from a non-real source – online, not in real life, so their perspectives are not tempered with day to day concerns and inputs. It is easy to get lost in it all these days.

    And with that, I’m going offline to live in my real life. 🙂

    Cheers (for now),

  165. “It’s not normal for a state of blind rage to remain fixed in place more than two years after the election…”

    This line got me thinking of our Cosmic Doctrine study. If a force is fixed, there is something fixing it–something of equal power pushing in the opposite direction, not letting it spiral out towards dissolution, as most post-election rages do. The question is what?

    Donald Trump? It strikes me that they are attacking him according to certain values and rules of engagement that all sides had to pretend to observe prior to his presidency. The difference is that he doesn’t care. He doesn’t need to do the usual virtue signaling (though I admit he does certain kinds of it for other groups most people don’t signal to). He doesn’t care about propriety, or the interests of the elite. And he LOVES trolling his opponents on twitter. His administration not only marks a sharp turn from the previous presidents, but he waves it in his opponents’ faces without apology. Once he has them fixed, he uses them as a thrust block to his next goal. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    But that’s the easy answer. That’s the fixing force on a personal, specific level. I imagine some larger movement has begun to grind the train of global progressivism to a halt, and he and his opponents are only symptoms of that. I suspect both the liberals and those deep in the Trump movement will be surprised to find themselves choking on exhaust when whatever it is gets around to using their deadlock as a thrust block to wherever it’s going next.

  166. @Docshibby,

    Also to your earlier comment about the impact of advertising: If you have not seen it yet, you may be interested in this documentary. Peripheral, but It’s helpful knowing how we got from there to here. I think you’d find it interesting: ‘The Century of the Self’ –

    https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=AwrCxnX5yLlc8S8AYBYPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTB0N2Noc21lBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNwaXZz?p=the+century+of+the+self+documentary&type=mcx_adwrdlmbng_18_43_ssg0219&hspart=iry&hsimp=yhs-fullyhosted_011&param1=yhsbeacon&param2=f%3D1%26b%3DSafari%26cc%3DUS%26pa%3Dmcyahoo%26cd%3D2XzuyEtN2Y1L1QzutDtByB0Czz0A0F0DtGtD0D0B0EtGyDyByDyDtG0A0FtCtDtGtByD0EyC0AtDtAtA0D0D0FyEtN1L1G1B1V1N2Y1L1Qzu2SyB0EtCyByDtCzzyEtGtCzy0D0FtGyEtDtByEtG0Azz0A0AtG0D0B0CyCyDyEyEtD0FtD0FyC2QtN1Q2Zzu0StByEzzyCtN1L2XzutAtFyDtFzyzztFtCtN1L1CzutN1T1IzuyEtN1B2Z1V1T1S1Nzu%26cr%3D2131678812%26a%3Dmcx_adwrdlmbng_18_43_ssg0219&ei=UTF-8&fr=yhs-iry-fullyhosted_011#id=1&vid=b6639b343cff168f9babe8229fac5713&action=view

    And lastly,

    @ ALL who can stand watching pixels on a screen, and who don’t mind a bit of blood and guts – you would thoroughly enjoy the last season of American Horror Story, “Cult”. It opens with the ‘horror’ of the 2016 election night, veers off in the end to zany AHS horror-land, (it IS a horror story after all) but you lot would like it if you haven’t seen it yet. 🙂

  167. This is a real interesting article discussion. My wife and I have often talked about these issues of gender. I’ll quote JMG here as having said “let me note first off that I have no doubt at all that gender dysphoria exists, that it’s a major issue for those who have it, and that for some of these latter, at least, the process of transitioning to a different gender really does seem to help.” And I will say that I am in agreement with this quote.

    Another note: I also have various trans people in my life in some way or other whether family or friends, and I don’t discount their experience.

    John, I really like how you laid out the subjective/objective, the inner psychological and outer biological aspects of this phenomenon. That sets a groundwork for further exploration & discussion.

    Often in these talks I have with my spouse we discuss things such as biology or race. Just as the lesbians in your example above might not want to make love with someone with a penis who identifies as female for reasons of biology, the question of biology comes into play when considering male-to-female trans people: they are subjectively female but have never experienced a period and won’t be able to give birth. These two things seem to be part and parcel of the biological aspect of being female.

    Then consider the case of Rachel Dolezal and the controversy surrounding the idea of “transracialism”. I’ve never identified as anything other than what I am, a white heterosexual cisgender, so I can’t speak to that experience. But I can imagine the rage, the laughter, the insults, the plain old controversy that would erupt if I started to identify as say Japanese, or became a wannabe Native American, or decided I was Australian and identify with that.

    JMG has written here before about Native American & Celtic wannabe’s. I think something similar, though not the same, is going on here. Cultural appropriation is something that gets batted down in an eyewink, but what about biological appropriation?

    These are some thoughts I have surrounding these issues.

  168. To Denys,

    You either make bad faith arguments or did not read my statement carefully enough or both. I said that I have no idea what your intentions are (“I am in no way saying that is where you are going…”) but was pointing out that dismissing an other’s point of view without trying to understand it leads to bad things, ultimately, very bad things.

    I enjoy being engaged in communication with you, as I don’t get to experience many people with your point of view. You may want to think about or meditate on the idea that your use of the term SJW is another example of the way you choose to categorize and dehumanize people who have a different point of view than your own. To you, they are not people who have ideas, but to use your words, they are “SJW’s” in a “cult” who speak “gobbledygook”.

    I agree with you that people who use violence as a response to words are almost always the problem, but I will add that words are symbols and one must be very aware of what one symbolizes, as manifestion is not far behind.

  169. I will note, as a ciswoman who’s never done the Mystical Uterus Thing (no interest in children and have long since rendered myself permanently unable to give birth, and the monthly annoyance is just that, not a magical connection to the moon or whatever, where I’m concerned) that the equation of periods and children to womanhood is also sort of irksome.

    Of course, I also don’t feel a strong connection to Being A Woman in general–the identity only comes up for me when people are being obnoxious at me about it, or when sex is involved–so I don’t so much feel that my identity is being denied as I do, IDK, irritated that bits of a biological happenstance are being unduly romanticized. (I got a fair amount of “oh, you’ll change your mind about children when the biological clock starts ticking!” and similar nonsense back in the day, and my college had more than its fair share of the painting-with-menstrual-blood types, as does paganism in general, so this may be overexposure-aversion or similar.) But neither childbearing potential nor menstruation have much relevance to my life as a woman, except as logistical issues slash nightmares.

  170. I agree the rage is different this time. At least where I live, I think the difference lies in the fact that no one believed Trump could actually win the election. In contrast, even if you detested the three previous presidents, it was generally accepted they had a chance to win their respective elections.

    I live in a dark blue coastal exurb. The bubble is thick here. My neighborhood has 423 homes. Leading up to the 2016 election, there wasn’t one home in our community with a Trump sign in the yard. Not one. No bumper stickers either. I’m sure the vast majority of my neighbors did vote for Clinton, but I doubt all of them did. People are embarrassed to acknowledge they supported Trump over Clinton. A few people have told me privately they voted for Trump, but don’t acknowledge it publicly because of the reaction they fear they’ll get. (Interestingly, a few bumper stickers did appear around town after the election as some people felt emboldened by his victory, but still none in my neighborhood.) I haven’t seen a MAGA cap here. This contrasts markedly with the elections of 2000 through 2012, when signs and bumper stickers for both candidates appeared regularly around the neighborhood. On election night, my wife and I were stunned Trump won, though I’m sympathetic to the economic reasons people had for voting for him.

    If you live in an area where there is essentially no visible support for Trump, his victory was inconceivable. You woke up after the election in shock and believe the results are proof large numbers of your fellow citizens are racist and sexist. You dismiss the economic concerns of Trump supporters as cover for their latent racism. You believe the only way he could possibly have won is through collusion. Trump doesn’t help this perception with many of his comments and tweets, so the rage does not abate. If Trump’s objective is to keep his opponents in a rage, it’s working here.

    I think that’s why the correct lessons from 2016 are still lost on many privileged Democrats, they do not want to trade in their narrative of how the world should be for how the world actually is. I’ve actually been told Democrats can’t be blamed for electing Trump (due to a poor candidate/horrible campaign) because it’s not the Democrats’ job to win elections. How do you even respond to that?

    Maybe I’m still blinded by my surroundings, but if Trump wins in 2020 I doubt it will be in a landslide. Whoever the Democrats nominate will have to make the upper Midwest a priority and I doubt Trump wins all of those states again. This time I’m prepared to be wrong though.

  171. @ Docshibby

    Re words and meanings

    I understand your point, though I must disagree that the consequences you state necessarily follow. Words have different meanings and intentions depending on the speaker and the context. I am somewhat resistant to “language policing” as I experienced a fair amount of that in the time I was active on PoliticalWire. (I was not permitted to use the term “globalism”, for example, without being shouted down as doing so obviously meant I was a Nazi-propagandist evangelizing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.)

    I used “gobbledygook” in the conventional manner of meaning “nonsense” as was plainly demonstrable from the context of my post. There were no racial or cultural elements involved. We might note that other commonly used words have similar origins: our word “barbarian” for example was originally a similar slur on those who could not speak proper Greek. I don’t think anyone would consider that word racially insensitive today.

    I suppose I was rejecting the author’s perspective, but it had nothing to do with the author being a TWOC, but rather that (s)he came off as a pretentious twit throwing around jargon-laden nonsense who apparently thought that college was about protesting against “the man” or whatever rather than getting an education. I will gladly and unabashedly state that I reject that perspective, because in my view it is a betrayal of everything that a university represents.

  172. I’d like to start by thanking everyone for handling a set of extremely controversial subjects with relative calmness. I’ve had some serious trolling to delete, and also some poor souls for whom all of this is Pig Latin and their hatred of Trump is justified by the supposed fact that he’s the evilest evil that ever eviled — after all, Rachel Maddow said so! — but on the whole, my commentariat has kept its brains intac and framed even fairly sharp disagreements in thoughtful terms. Thank you, all — it’s conversations like this, even when they get heated, that help build the framework around which some kind of collective discourse will take shape once the current bubble of rage pops.

    Now, on to the comments.

    Kimberly, I’ve heard the same sort of thing about the racism of the woke from others who’ve been on its receiving end, so I find that easy to believe. As for reparations, well, yes — and the whole concept of collective guilt is a bad idea in the first place. It was invented by Christians in the early Middle Ages to justify pogroms against the Jews, and it hasn’t improved noticeably since then…

    Waffles, that guy needs psychiatric help. What you posted is a really classic example of what psychiatrists call “delusions of reference” — the shrill insistence that even the most casual act or utterance conceals the hidden meaning that the paranoiac wants to find.

    Sam, yes, and you catch a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar, you know!

    Michael, I see what’s going on across university campuses right now as part of the endgame for the university system as it currently exists. Right now the US needs far fewer university graduates than it has, and the mismatch is going to become even worse as the US continues its retreat from its former global empire. The universities are doing a great job of making themselves so obviously irrelevant that when most of them shut down — which is among the things I expect to see in the next decade or two — the vast majority of people will wish them good riddance. The crucial step, it seems to me, is establishing some other, less parasitic and destructive institutional form to preserve the cultural heritage of our civilization; I have some ideas for that, but there need to be as many ventures as possible in this direction, so that the best can sort themselves out.

    (By the way, I think you’d be pleased if you saw the bookshelves in the apartment my wife and I share…)

    Unpronounceable, hah! No doubt if I think about it for a few more minutes I can come up with some reason why it’s horribly speciesist of you not to stay here and listen to my harangues. Oh, and by the way, I now identify as a shoggoth…

    Isabel, it occurs to me that what we’re discussing might be described as a weird sort of materialist Gnosticism, a rage against the material world for not being whatever we want it to be, combined with an obsession with the material world as the only thing that can actually be at all. So people who can’t imagine any world other than the world of matter keep trying to get the world of matter to behave like the world of mind, and get furiously angry when (say) the fact that they don’t bathe often enough has an impact on their romantic prospects…

  173. A data point for the political madness:

    https://q13fox.com/2019/04/17/priest-randomly-attacked-at-burien-gas-station-in-broad-daylight/

    A well-known (among American Orthodox, anyway, he has a popular podcast) abbot was recently punched and knocked to the ground without warning while out running errands in Burien, WA. The article conveniently leaves it out, but other sources (including the abbot himself) report that just before punching the abbot, the man asked him “How’s Trump?” The abbot, confused, replied that he didn’t know. Then the guy punched him, knocking him to the ground. His hearing is not back to normal yet, but he’s hopeful. Probably a random crazy person, but the Trump reference was a jarring note. The rage bleeds out around the edges.

  174. @Nastarana The screaming mom of the past…..for me part of the struggle to get over it was the nagging expectation that parents are to love their children unconditionally and really “get them”. Then I thought, did my mother have that expectation of parenting? No, not at all. For her it was a job: she provided you food, a roof over your head, and a set of rules to live by. For her the love part was just not present.

    I blamed it on something about me being the cause. And maybe it was. But what I kept coming back to is love just wasn’t there for her. And once I really got that about her – that the warm love of someone really being fully present was something she just did not do, I realized that love was just something missing. That’s it. I didn’t need to keep trying to figure out what was wrong with her and mull of how bad a parent she was for not providing love for me.

    I could choose if I wanted to provide that experience of love for her. As an adult and a parent myself, I’ve had a whole set of experiences where I’ve experienced that love. I decided I could and it wasn’t about getting something from her, just being “love” with her (rather than regret or hatred or whatever).

    She says bossy things to me, and she still flips out sometimes. It doesn’t push my buttons like it used to. I’m love and just stand in love. And it’s like teflon and the emotions she has just don’t stick to me. It’s hard and simple at the same time. Kinda like meditation – simple concept, hard to do.

  175. @Docshibby I responded to David, you jumped into that response telling me how I should be talking. You did it in a patronizing tone, warning me that if I’m not careful about my words, people will get hurt.

    So, let me be clear. I’m going to say whatever I want that I feel is of value to the conversation here. Period. If you want you can imagine me smiling when I say it.

  176. @JMG: “Dewey … if people on your side of things make extreme comments they’re just harmless zanies who can’t actually threaten anybody, while anything anyone on Trump’s side of things says is proof that the Orange Man is just as evilly evil as you want him to be. I’d ask whether you might just see the fairly obvious double standard there, but you’ve made it tolerably clear that that’s not an option for you.”

    This is a straw man argument I am sorry to see from you. I have never suggested that no leftists are evil, nor that all leftists are harmless (nor do I view leftists as “my side”, in fact). We all know of a serious left-wing lone-wolf terrorist attack recently – versus a couple dozen right-wing attacks, of course, but equally despicable. I explicitly said that menacing rhetoric from “anyone on Trump’s side of things” was NOT comparable in gravity to such rhetoric from an office-holder himself, and I did not suggest that it would be evidence of the character of the politician being supported. If a leftist would-be dictator who speaks and behaves like Trump ever attains power in this country, I shall be equally appalled. There is no double standard.

    I’ll continue to enjoy reading your fiction. As for the political discussions here, I’ll take a hint and absent myself. One of my favorite authors once warned me, wisely I believe, against buying into a revitalization movement. There is no brighter future ahead.

  177. @JMG: That would make a lot of sense! (And given how many of the “but you’re not supposed to care about your sex partners’ bodies!” types are ragefully atheist or pagans with persecution complexes, IME, I will now be tempted to draw comparisons between them and the neo-Platonist aspects of Gnosticism and Christianity and see if I can make heads explode, next time I’m in an argument.)

    And I can understand, if not condone, the sentiment in situations where the material body really *can’t* be helped. If I could make myself taller, more buxom and less prone to having my sinuses explode when I was around a cat, I would do so, and it irks me on occasion that I can’t. (I don’t blame people who like statuesque women for not being attracted to me, or people who have cats for having cats, though, I just curse at my sinuses and take Claritin.) But when it’s a thing that *can* be changed, and as simply as “shower regularly, brush your teeth, and buy some nice jeans and button-downs for ten bucks at the Goodwill” and there’s still all this indignant resistance, I just…well, I *get* it, but not in any sympathetic way.

  178. Dear Michael Martin, I have been assembling just such a library as you suggest, although I must say I don’t quite see why the Russian masterpieces ought to be privileged. I think the Latin American Cordillera must also not be forgotten. I suppose we all have our favorites. I am afraid that Loeb Classics are, alas, not in my grasp. But, I am fast approaching old age, and hear time’s hurrying footsteps, and if I rush to Aleppo, I will undoubtedly find Death waiting there for me. So., what ideas have you for eventual disposition of our libraries, which, please, don’t involve transfer to the other side of the world? Sorry, that does happen to be how I feel. Again, sorry, but I do think the ex-pat Dr.s and such who haunt book sales on behalf of their favorite charities back home can afford to buy texts to send there. I am certainly not living on a professional salary.

    Dear Isabel, “Phony” is the usual excuse us plain girls hear as to why we cannot be escorted to a nightclub, fashionable restaurant, concert being given by the star of the moment and so on. About the second time you hear that one, avoiding sex and cultivation of inner life begin to look rather attractive.

  179. @David BTL:
    I tried to post on your blog, but Google didn’t let me, so let me say here that I I liked your story a lot, both idea and execution! The details are filled in just enough to keep the reader thinking…

    It is no secret that the contributions are to end happily ever after, so I am not giving anything away by saying that your story brought to mind, by way of contrast, the unfortunate lover in Virgil’s Eclogue 8:

    Nascere praeque diem veniens age, Lucifer, almum…

    Rise, Lucifer, and, heralding the light,
    bring in the genial day, while I make moan
    fooled by vain passion for a faithless bride,
    for Nysa, and with this my dying breath
    call on the gods, though little it bestead…

  180. Personally, I think the rage against Trump is because he breaks the golden rule of Western politics, which is that on all social and cultural issues, conservatives eventually give in to the progressives.

    This is an existential threat to progressives, because the most powerful myth that undergirds their movement is that their eventual victory is inevitable. Once that sense of inevitability comes into question, then progressivism becomes a very rickety, insecure ideology indeed.

    So, from a liberal-progressive mindset, Trump is “unnatural”, as he upsets the cosmic order, and in many ways turns it upside down. The resulting rage is not necessarily the result of what Trump has done, but what, in the progressive mind, he could do. This is why, for example, The Handmaid’s Tale has been such a touchstone for liberals in the last couple of years – their nightmare is that once the clock is stopped, or turned backwards, all their previous achievements can be erased.

  181. JMG–

    A good point about the Republicans, of course. A few months ago I read a transcript of a Tucker Carlson monologue in which he admits that, No, he never really considered the effects of free trade agreements on working class Americans. On the other hand you have people like Anne Coulter, who I heard a year ago going on about how at this point, she just hopes that Trump doesn’t get us into any more disastrous foreign wars– with apparently no memory whatsoever of having gone on about how we need to “invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity.”

    Also, on the subject of Trump Derangement, two things come to mind. On the one hand, I well remember both George W Bush and Barack Obama being compared to Hitler. In fact, my lifetime has seen quite a number of New Hitlers, including (in chronological order) Moammar Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, George W Bush, Saddam Hussein Again, Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama. None of them ever got around to actually becoming Hitler, but I’m supposed to believe it’s different this time?

    On the other hand, by this point in the Bush presidency we had invaded two foreign countries, one of which had never attacked us, the other of which hadn’t really either, though there were some guys there who apparently had, and instituted a massive assault on American civil liberties through the Patriot and Homeland Security acts. And all of this followed a disputed election and an incredibly suspicious terrorist attack. Somehow, though, Bush now has the role of gentleman elder statesman, while Trump is Completely Unprecedented.

    @ Kimberly Steele–

    If your white side is Italian/Irish, then it just might be owed reparations too– for such things as the 8,000 Irish who died building the New Orleans Central Canal, or the Italians subjected to lynching (linciati) in the American South. Maybe your two sides could arrange to pay one another?

  182. @Michael Martin:
    I usually make a point of not posting about US politics. Your link to a Dreher blog post about “the chief librarian trying to purge the book stacks of whiteness” surprised me, and I read the Dreher post, who cites two paragraphs from a text by that librarian. She expresses sentiments that I find in fact quite out of place for a librarian, but she draws no conclusions and proposes no action. Dreher seems to have invented the concept of “purging”. I think it is counterproductive to make people more afraid of the other side than the facts warrant.

  183. Late to the party. JMG. I’ve been watching the rage from the eye of the storm, San Francisco. There’s more moderates here than you might think, with a nuanced view of Trumpism, but expressing those views above a whisper might cost you your job.

    Meanwhile, my uncle, a Harley riding white guy in his 60s, who now lives in rural Oregon, is the lone and ardent Trump supporter in our family. His reasons? He worked his whole life in a factory. That factory moved to China and he was the last one to shut the door with what was left of his pension after it got 401 TKO’d by Wells Fargo. Meanwhile, his blue collar California neighborhood slowly filled up with illegal immigrants in the 80s and 90s. Some gang activity at his daughter’s high school convinced him and his Mexican American wife that the “undocumented” (many of them Salvadoran) were “bad hombres”. Of course, it was unfair to paint them with a broad brush like that, but that’s what humans do.

    On the other hand, my father worked on the Clinton campaign as a volunteer. He had a union and a pension and all that stuff. Even if they’re not perfect, he still believes the Democrats are the best chance for working folks and that Republicans are wolves in sheep clothing at best. He can’t understand why anyone would “fall” for Trump’s empty promises. And don’t get him started on Russia…

    Personally, I kind of agree with them both. I don’t see them as mutually exclusive.

  184. @Justin and @JMG

    > For instance, claiming that it is right and good and fair for this person to compete at rugby with women is totally bizzare:
    https://cdn.newsapi.com.au/image/v1/78d23af9612d25c452dc345755311ce1
    > As JMG said, there’s nothing wrong with that person wanting to be treated as a woman in some regards, such as getting a ‘F’ put on her driver’s license and her name changed to Shirley. I don’t think there are too many people who are actually opposed to that. I’m certainly not. But it is absurd to allow her to play women’s sports.

    There’s an old worldview/tradition in my country of origin (a European one), that finds a large fault with the modern western worldview (especially the US) in its legalism and blind culture of “rights” which in the west are understood strictly as legal rights based on the supreme being: the individual — and I think the problem here is an example of that.

    The problem with making everything a legal right, is that there’s no real basis to say this person can’t be a woman. Isn’t it “it’s right” to want to be called one? If it’s all up to the individual, then sure.

    And, to continue, once achieving being identified as female, isn’t it “her” right, according to the law, to want to be able to do everything a woman can, including compete in women’s sports?

    So, the problem, according to our worldview, is that shared societal life and law must have a basis. And the basis can’t be the whims of the individual, or just the law itself.

    It should be some shared communal values, a standard, a tradition. An understanding of what’s OK and what’s absurd. A common understanding of the “good life”. It doesn’t have to be fundamentalist and all-encompassing of course, but it has to exist.

    When that is lacking, all left is individuals competing for the maximum rights they can get, with no stop to what absurdity the ask for (and nobody able to say “this is crazy”, no authority to respect on that other than their self and whims).

    I think Christopher Lasch, in his books, has captured some of that too.

    A real society can’t be all about “whatever anybody wants as long as it doesn’t harm the other”. It should have some vision and standards higher than that.

  185. JMG: have you had the “species confirmation surgery” making you a shoggoth yet, or is it just a matter of hormone therapy?

  186. John—

    I need more popcorn.

    A *lot* of impeachment debate going on in several PW threads. Surprisingly, some of it not of the foaming-at-the-mouth variety. Much back and forth re the impeachment process (as a political and not a legal act) and the merits of pursuing impeachment (or not) in light of the fact the the Senate has effectively a zero percent chance of convicting on the charges. Saw a few comments on how our constitution is horribly flawed for 1) permitting someone like DJT to be elected and 2) preventing his removal given he is a clear threat to the Republic. Discussions of whether or not it would aid or hinder Trump’s re-election chances to be impeached. I can’t say I’m unsympathetic to the dilemma—from an objective analysis, it is a tricky strategic situation on the Dem side.

    One interesting comment I saw suggested the House censure him instead, which immediately brought to my mind those parallels with Andrew Jackson, who was indeed censured as President. My take on it, though, is that Trump would wear that censure as a badge of honor rather than a mark of shame and leverage it in his re-election campaign.

    Quite interesting times, certainly.

  187. I think women losing their love, respect and gratitude toward men is the saddest thing. I don’t know how we will recover. And young girls are being trained, in fact brainwashed, to internalize all sorts of wrongdoing on the part of males that isn’t even so. Worse, because of all this many women are becoming spiritually downgraded, losing empathy (which is akin to sociopathy) and narcissistic since they can shoulder no blame nor responsibility and therefore lack the skill to examine themselves and their behaviors.

    I find that even nice and happily married older women I know regularly make male-disparaging comments, which do have a grain of truth sometimes, but no one would tolerate the opposite comments from either a man or a woman, about women. Of course there is toxic masculinity but that’s because humans are faulty and sometimes those faults express themselves via a male or female body/hormonal system. Lets talk about toxic femininity.

    The men are in a terrible spot. Unbeknownst to feminists, men’s love for women is hardwired, as well as the necessity of pleasing them. Throughout the animal kingdom, although there are interesting variations on a theme, males must pass muster with females or they’re out. At the same time, there is a need for men to become men and to have some sort of ideal about that. A need for manhood to be an achievement and something they can be proud of.

    The feminist hatred of nearly all things male emasculates them and puts them in an untenable position of having almost no real way to be recognized as a man in a good way. They sell out their manhood to please feminists or what they perceive as society’s requirements. But the need to love and please the female and the need to be a real man are hardwired together as they are inextricably intertwined in the deepest biological life motivation of the male. This goes back to the first multicelled organisms.

  188. Hi John

    Excellent article and one of your best for a while now.

    The Trump rage is definitely bizarre and in Europe we get a mild version of it. Folks who are reasonable and intelligent quite openly talk about hoping Trump will get assassinated and there is a fascination with him across the media.

    When I talk rationally about why he got elected or why I think he might get re-elected in 2020 the reaction is odd. People don’t challenge but largely stay silent and go back to laughing at him or calling him an idiot.
    There is little interest in finding out why voters elected him in the first place. I’ve reached the conclusion it is driven by snobbery and virtue signalling at heart. Saying rude things about Trump shows you are one of the “Good People” and not one of those ghastly working-class voters, particularly, American working-class voters!

    In Britain, we get a similar thing with Brexit, although the rage period has gone and now most people are frustrated and bored with the subject. Being somebody who from an income and social viewpoint is within the upper-middle classes (I also look upper middle class as well) most people assume I hold the conventional views of a nominally liberal, professional and upper-middle class Englishman i.e. voted Remain, loathes Trump vaguely liberal in my political and social outlook.

    It is a true eye-opener to see the contempt of many of my class peers to those who voted Leave who are widely considered stupid, dumb and racist.

    On that point, I would be interested in your view on Nigel Farage return to UK politics through his new Brexit Party which is surging in the polls.

    https://news.sky.com/story/labour-and-the-tiggers-need-to-get-real-11695821

    A few highlights from the article:

    • Brexit Party is a blanker slate and a potentially better vehicle for Farage’s political ambitions. It explains why Farage barely mentioned immigration and didn’t talk about Europe as much as you’d think.
    • His message was one of political transformation. Of fulfilling the true potential of the 2016 revolt. Of draining the swamp; that the failure to implement the referendum proves why it was necessary in the first place.
    • It is now a simpler and broader message – that Britain has been humiliated, that Westminster is rotten, that the system is rigged, that parliament doesn’t represent you and it is only he who can do something about it and make us proud again.
    • Under his opponents’ noses, he is seizing the change mantle, even from those with the word in their name.

    The Britain Thinks diaries (http://britainthinks.com/news/britainthinks-brexit-diaries-april-update) on British public opinion show how much anger and disgust there is at the political class. The electorate is ripe for such an insurgent, anti-establishment and populist message.

    Do you think, given that Labour appear to be edging closer to officially endorsing a 2nd Referendum (i.e. a Remain party) and betraying millions of Labour Leave voters, that Farage could win at the next ge?

    I remind you of a quote you wrote after the Brexit result.

    https://www.resilience.org/stories/2016-06-30/outside-the-hall-of-mirrors/

    “Party loyalties have become very fluid just now, and the same 52% of British voters that passed the Brexit referendum could quite readily, with equal disdain for the tender sensibilities of the privileged minority, put a UKIP majority into the House of Commons and send Nigel Farage straight to 10 Downing Street. If the British establishment succeeds in convincing the working classes and the poor that voting for UKIP is the only way they can make their voices heard, that’s what will happen.”

    I would also like to briefly mention some data points on climate change which you might find interesting.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/04/18/extinction-rebels-right-risk-losing-livable-planet-green-technology/

    “A recent study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said that on current trends the planet’s climate will resemble the mid-Pliocene era of 3 million years ago as soon as 2030 – and will be heading for levels that lie “outside the range of evolutionary adaptive capacity.”

    The Stockholm Hothouse Report is in the same vein. It points to a temperature rise of 4-5 degrees above pre-industrial levels even if we meet the CO2 targets of the Paris Agreement, which we are failing to do.”

    Link to the 2030 report is here – https://www.pnas.org/content/115/52/13288

    Thanks
    FI

  189. Kimberly Steele says:
    “We’re quickly entering a future where everyone’s like me: half-something and half-something else.”

    This is unlikely.

    If you look at what people actually do versus what they say, it is pretty clear that while some want to mix, most do not:
    https://theblog.okcupid.com/race-and-attraction-2009-2014-107dcbb4f060

    You see the same thing when you look at where people choose to live. Some want to mix, most do not:
    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/08/us/census-race-map.html?_r=0
    https://www.citylab.com/equity/2013/11/paradox-diverse-communities/7614/

    “It’s not a big deal; just ask anyone from Brazil.”

    Nah, the idea of a peaceful blended future doesn’t even work in Brazil:
    http://www.humanosphere.org/human-rights/2016/02/new-maps-illustrate-stark-racial-segregation-brazils-cities/

  190. If you don’t mind another Trump Derangement Syndrome anecdote: last month I lost a friendship of nearly 25 years’ standing. There were other issues as well, but the last straw was when my pacifist, old-hippie friend announced “If we ever got the chance we should knock him [Trump] down, hold him down and poop on him.” It was so excessively out of character I worried it was a sign of developing dementia (I expressed that concern as gently as I could, but naturally it was not well received, thus the end of the friendship). In a way it’s a relief, because I was exhausted from having to steer Every.Single.Conversation since the election away from the latest evilly-evil Trumpian outrage. This is, btw, the same friend who had gone out protesting the Gulf War, but when Trump started talking about troop withdrawals declared that “Well, we can’t just isolate ourselves from the rest of the world!”

    Re the Left’s 180 degree turns: after the flip-flop on globalization, the most egregious to my mind is the reversal on GMOs. Since it’s now de rigueur for progressives to be “pro-science,” it’s also necessary to be pro-GMO and to denigrate any criticism as ignorant fearmongering (and, you guessed it, racism, since GMOs are what’s going to save the Third World from climate-change-induced famine, any opposition means you want non-white people to die). Quite the reversal from my college days, when we worried not only about human health risks but the effects on insects and other pollinators, the integrity of traditional food crops, and corporate control of agriculture. Some of us foolishly thought that indigenous farmers might be better helped by things like land reform, price supports, seed-saving, cooperatives, education, and reform of the World Bank, than by Monsanto’s patent monopolies.

    I remember the Right’s paranoia over Obama very well. I remember how we liberals (I was a liberal then; I have no idea what I am any more) laughed and rolled our eyes and pitied them for their conspiracy-mindedness and lack of knowledge about how government actually works. I’ve been stunned to see liberals today re-enacting everything they mocked in conservatives just a few years ago. I still have trouble grokking how people can be so void of self-awareness. But as some pretty smart guy said, “What you hate you imitate,” and I certainly see evidence of that everywhere I look.

    Patricia Mathews, I want to add my own well-wishes for Spot. My eldest cat just turned 17. She was cured of hyperthyroidism last fall but since that has had two strokes. Luckily she’s kept her personality, knows her own mind, and remembers her litterbox training, but we know she could have another any day. When the time comes, may their passages to the Otherword be safe and easy!

  191. Violet,

    Well, I know for lots of people sex is much more important than it is for me. I actually think I’m rather far to the end in this case: most people are probably much more interested in it than I am. There’s nothing wrong with that, and for those who are into it, I think it’s worth finding outlets.

    As for children transitioning, I’d heard of young teens transitioning and one case of a ten year old, but I looked into it and found, yes kids as young as two are transitioning, and I found parenting advice to the effect of your kids don’t need to know what gender they are. By the gods this is going to end so badly…

    SarahDee,

    I looked up Golohab and one of the first links was for how to invoke the Qlippoth. Dear gods, this too is going to end so badly…

  192. On the topic of trust/distrust of Science. Money talks and scientists listen. He who holds the money can influence which research gets funded – or not, and which results get published – or not. I tend to trust scientific results that go against corporate profits (such as the consensus on global warming) and to distrust scientific results that support corporate profits (such as safety and effectiveness of various drugs, pesticides, etc.) Gosh! Does that make me scientifically illiterate? A hopeless ignoramus? Does it make me a realist?

  193. Dear Sister Crow, those of who follow food issues have known for some time that the upscale Left is not on our side. What do your friends and contacts say, if anything, about the Monsanto trials which have just begun? Two unanimous juries have so far found Monsanto liable and at fault.

    Dear onething, “men’s love for women is hardwired, as well as the necessity for pleasing them” Really? That would of course explain the decades of catcalling, insults, intriguing behind our backs, sheer hatred, I do not exaggerate, directed at any female who doesn’t conform to current fashions in attire and behavior, to which many of us have been subjected. This is not even about who is or is not attractive, it is about guys how about leaving alone those who don’t happen to appeal to you

    Dear Denys, thank for your kind response. I don’t think my mother’s problem was lack of love, rather a lack of empathy and being a control freak. She had her notion of what her kids should be and I didn’t measure up and she always did have the idea that the way to make things happen is simply to drop hints. The necessity of having to issue direct instructions, and be responsible for what she said, would send her into a frothing rage.

  194. @ Matthias and @ Tripp

    Re my story submission

    Many thanks for the feedback. I have to say, though, that the seed of that tale was planted by our host. Those who recall John’s response-essay “The Next Ten Billion Years” from the TADR might spot the linkage…

    That said, I enjoyed bringing it to life as a romance. When it comes to the characters I discover in my writing, I am admittedly something of a sap 🙂

  195. Since this is a blog associated with esoteric philosophy (you can’t get any more esoteric than Dion Fortune), I thought I would bring up two points that I haven’t seen mentioned:

    1) A large part (some might even say THE WHOLE POINT) of any occult or esoteric system is self-ownership, self-empowerment, taking responsibility for your own karma, and not blaming others for your problems. Every esoteric student at some point has to come to the understanding of something like “I am the only one responsible for my own destiny”. It seems to me that the whole social justice ideology runs completely counter to this way of thinking in the way it lays the responsibility not on the individual, but on such nebulous abstractions as “white privilege”, “the patriarchy”, “toxic masculinity”, etc…. In fact most leftist, socialist, Marxist, or so-called “progressive” ideologies tend to emphasize that the responsibility all of the problems that oppressed individuals face can be laid at the feet of “society” at large. This seems really dis-empowering. I mean, if you want to empower the poor, black people, women, transgender people, go down the inter-sectional list of Oppression Olympics contestants … you might give them a better chance at success by helping them to believe in themselves and not blame others for their problems. The whole thing seems rather patronizing if you ask me.

    2) According to most esoteric philosophy, polarity is a law of the universe built into the very fabric of reality itself, and is necessary for evolution to occur. Yin/Yang, God/Goddess, Chokmah/Binah, Ida/Pingala, etc…you can’t get away from it. In light of this, statements like “gender is a social construct” or “non-binary gender identification” are pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things. It makes me wonder if this whole trend is really just that: a flash-in-the-pan trend that runs contrary to evolution and probably won’t even last through most of our lifetimes.

  196. Denys, thank you for this. One of the great unmentionables in today’s society is that the largest single determinant of your body weight is heredity — this has been shown over and over and over again, in study after study, and yet people keep ignoring it because it contradicts the fantasy that the body (and the material world generally) is purely passive and is required to do whatever we demand of it. Another is that we’ve flooded our meat supply with chemicals that cause weight gain in meat animals, and then pretend that eating the meat won’t cause weight gain in animals of the species H. sapiens. There’s much more. I hope you and Sara have the chance to compare notes; she picked up a very effective “Well, bless your heart” while we lived in western Maryland. 😉

    Violet, if alt-right mages are helping to drive the dysfunction of the left, one way we’ll know it is that the dysfunction will spin completely out of control in the late spring or summer of 2020, just in time to convince millions of people with moderate political views that, bad as Trump is, he’s better than the Democrats. That would be very good timing, and if the mages in question are smart enough to realize that their best strategy is to get the other side to defeat itself by acting like idiots, they’re smart enough to time it right.

    Mog, sure. A purely subjective attitude toward truth is fairly pervasive in today’s America — the Qanon business seems to be purely the obsession of a small group out on the fringes, but the denial of climate change is a good example. As I noted in the post and have repeated here, the patterns I’m seeing are in some ways more prominent on the left, but they pervade every aspect of American society today.

    Jbucks, yes, I’ve followed that whole business peripherally. The fact that establishment faux-environmentalists such as George Monbiot can only discuss calls for lifestyle change as a basic element of effective activism by caricaturing them shows just how important it is to push hard on that very issue. You can’t be part of the solution if your lifestyle is part of the problem — that’s a point that needs to be repeated over and over again until it finally sinks in.

    Peak.Singularity, thanks for this. I’ll have to read the rest of both posts, but the basic ideas seem sound to me.

    Caryn, thanks for this. I’m glad to hear that the liberals you know haven’t climbed on board the crazy train. I do have a question for you, if I may, and though it sounds off topic it bears directly on what I’m trying to say. It’s this: can you name something that Donald Trump has done that you approve of?

    The reason I ask this is that I’ve found that this or its flipside — can you name something that Donald Trump has done that you disapprove of? — is a tolerably effective litmus test for political sanity just at this moment. No person and no politician is all good or all bad, and the insistence on defining various political figures as evil incarnate or light itself seems to work fairly well as a proxy for general political craziness in today’s society. (For what it’s worth, I can easily name quite a few of Trump’s policies that I disapprove of strongly, and some of Obama’s policies of which I firmly approve.)

    Kyle, thank you for this — a cogent analysis, and I think you’re dead on target on both counts.

    Know Brainer, the concept of biological appropriation is brilliant; thank you. I expect to use it in an upcoming post, and will credit you for it.

    Ryan S, many thanks for these data points. “It’s not the Democrats’ job to win elections”?? What the ever-living frack????? If that’s true, since it clearly is the job of the GOP to do that, the Dems may want to brace themselves for many more defeats…

    Methylethyl, dear gods. Did you know that I grew up in Burien, WA? I hope he makes a full recovery.

    Dewey, if you think that I’m saying there’s a brighter future ahead, or that I’m cheering on any of the current US revitalization movements, I honestly don’t think you’ve heard a word I’ve said in these political posts.

    Isabel, I’m coming to think that this may be one of those threads that leads near the core of the whole tangle. If people believe that the material world is the only world there is, and yet experience their own mental worlds, then they have their choice of either of two dysfunctional choices: they can impose the patterns of their mental worlds on the material world and convince themselves that their mental experiences are objective physical realities, or they can impose the patterns of the material world on their mental worlds and convince themselves that their subjective mental states are objectively fixed and they can do nothing about them. Hmm — this is going to need some serious brooding.

    Phil K., that seems very plausible to me. Hmm again…

    Steve T, it occurs to me that quite a substantial convention could be held by simply inviting all the people who have been proclaimed as Literally Hitler in recent decades — and you’re quite correct about Bush II, of course.

    Dante, of course they’re not mutually exclusive. Back before US politics went stark staring nuts, there was this thing called compromise; politicians of different parties did it all the time, and got laws passed and things done. I look forward to the rediscovery of this forgotten concept someday.

    Fkarian, that’s valid. At the same time, here in the US, individual liberty is a central element of exactly the sort of national culture you’re talking about; I quite recognize that this is not true in other nations, no doubt including your country of origin, but I tend to think that the US has both the right and the responsibility to hold onto its own national traditions. What’s going on now is a distortion of the concept of liberty — the idea that if you belong to some category of Uniquely Disadvantaged People, your rights matter and those of everyone else do not. My guess, furthermore, is that in the decades ahead, that distorted way of thinking about liberty will be discarded. Of course we’ll see…

    Phutatorius, according to the current ideology, none of that is necessary. Since I identify as a shoggoth today, the mere fact that I don’t look, or act, or have even the least resemblance to a shoggoth does not change the fact that today, everyone has to treat me as a shoggoth. 😉

    David BTL, it sounds as though we’re deep into cognitive dissonance territory. The Constitution specifies that a president can only be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, and since Trump hasn’t committed any of those, the House leadership is being quite sensible to say that impeachment isn’t in the cards at this point. That people are still going on about impeachment at this point really makes me wonder.

    Onething, thank you for this. I’m really wondering what the blowback from this is going to look like.

    Forecastingintelligence, Farage is a smarter man than his rivals realize. He has a very real chance of riding a wave of popular disgust straight into power — if not into No 10 Downing Street, then certainly into leadership of a bloc in Parliament large enough to make it impossible for any other party to govern unless they stop stalling and move forward with Brexit. As for the material on climate change, when the authors claimed that the changes ahead are “outside the range of evolutionary adaptive capacity,” I wonder if they bothered to talk to a paleontologist or two about that; there’s plenty of paleoclimatological evidence showing that climate change far more drastic over a much shorter time period has happened repeatedly in the prehistoric past — most recently at the end of the Younger Dryas climate stage, which was well within the period during which our species has been around.

    Seamus, the Age of Reason has been ending for a while now. Ages of Reason are standard in the life cycle of every civilization, and they all end the same way, with what Giambattista Vico called “the barbarism of reflection” — the point at which reason divorced from reality ends in madness. Yeah, that’s about where we are now.

    Sister Crow, I’m sorry to hear of that; it’s a rough road, watching a friend lose their mind. As for the 180 degree flip, that’s one of the more remarkable things about this whole business — the Democrats are embracing more and more of the things they used to reject, from global empire to corporate power to blind belief in the claims of scientism. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump decided to use that deliberately, by choosing some cause that’s been central to the Democratic identity for decades and loudly supporting it, in the hope that the Dems will flip and start denouncing it. There’s a meme along these lines…
    Trump Cures Cancer

  197. Denys-

    Never did I tell you how “to be talking”. Again, you put forth a bad faith argument.

    You may say whatever your heart desires and mind can imagine. I have no idea if you said it with a smile or not, nor does it matter. That said, a smile is a wonderful thing, as is the imagination.

    I do imagine you do not let other people get the last word; either way, I thank you for the dance.

  198. I have as little to say to folks who “voted for” Donald Trump as I have to say to folks who “voted for” Hillary Clinton. Or Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. Each individual is living her own life as best she can.

    As far as my use of the word “monolith.” Phrases such as “its fixation,” etc. can easily be read as presenting the “social justice movement” as one-dimensional.

  199. You know, I made the comment on women and nicenesss/anger kind of casually, but as I was thinking about it, I actually think it runs rather deep. I cannot think of a social sin that gets you demoted more swiftly into the ranks of the trashy/low-rent/downmarket/common (the terms used for the socioeconomically inferior in my area) as “making a scene.” Pregnant out of wedlock, not having nice things, working fast food, losing one’s job/house, even living in the trailer park—nothing. Screaming, getting physical, airing one’s dirty laundry, publicly losing control of oneself—these are a death knell for middle class womanhood in normal social situations. For men, too, but not nearly as much so and with more leeway. Probably most middle class women I know are absolutely dying for a chance to spew vitriol in public; if Trump can give them an excuse to do so in a way that doesn’t lose them any class status (and in fact signifies/reinforces the status they have), I don’t expect they’ll get tired of indulging in it any time soon.

    I also think that quite a bit of the more baffling excesses of the #metoo and affirmative consent movements stem from the fact that at least currently in America, women are collectively pretty bad at delineating and defending personal and social boundaries, and the belief/norm that women ought to be able to have such boundaries and have them respected is outpacing the skill and socialization of many/most women in actually asserting those boundaries, so that you are left with some absurdities in terms of women holding men responsible for magically discerning those boundaries without the woman having to give any uncomfortable negative feedback or rejection. (Of course, I do not mean that women should have to defend themselves physically from sexual assault or that it is acceptable for men to keep pushing on such matters. Hopefully that is clear. But I now know many women who consider it to be sexist and a form of harassment for men to express any unwanted romantic or sexual attention at all, even if the woman has never communicated that the attention is unwanted).

    Of course, the happy medium of merely being calmly assertive instead of swinging between Stepord-esque nicey-niceness and rabid ranting seems as unlikely to prevail as it is appealing in prospect.

  200. Josh at April 18, 2019 at 1:58 pm and others,

    I take issue that white people have their identities tied up in whiteness and feelings of supremacy. Of course, there are a very few who do, who obsess over race. I take issue with the idea that there is white privilege at all. I don’t see it. It was true 60 years ago and it has been steadily decreasing. To some extent it is natural and normal for people to trust and feel more at ease with their own culture. Certainly black people do. I don’t see a lot of toxicity in our culture at all with regards to race – except in the last couple of years, and it is mostly fantasy of middle class whites. There is little left of any power differential. Remember that whites are a bigger demographic than blacks. Some institutional tendency toward more whites remains, but things like this need to face slowly and organically, not via fiat or hysteria that generally has poor results. Don’t push the river. Black people need to band together? They already do! Their voting has been the most cohesive block.

  201. “Trump cures cancer…”. 😄

    JMG, I have a question. I’m going to be extremely busy next month, possibly too busy for Ecosophia (it’s a barbarous age!). Since topics usually go on for several weeks, will catch up comments be OK with referrals back to the originals?

    Someone mentioned the girl who may have been the reincarnation of a Japanese soldier who died in WW II. Ian Wilson cited this case and noted that on several occasions during her pregnancy, the mother dreamed of a Japanese soldier who said he was coming to stay with her. In another instance a child was thought to be the reincarnation of a lady who had kept a cobra. During her pregnancy, that child’s mother had several vivid dreams of a girl child surrounded by snakes. She had had no such memorable dreams during her previous pregnancies. Wilson says these maternal “announcing dreams” show up worldwide in possible reincarnations, and brings up the hypothesis of your mental imagery during pregnancy being transmissible to your unborn baby.

  202. Perhaps I’m beating a dead horse here, but if there is no right way to be a man, woman or shoggoth – then all of us are in fact all men, women and shoggoths.

  203. JMG wrote, replying to Isabel:

    Isabel, it occurs to me that what we’re discussing might be described as a weird sort of materialist Gnosticism, a rage against the material world for not being whatever we want it to be, combined with an obsession with the material world as the only thing that can actually be at all. So people who can’t imagine any world other than the world of matter keep trying to get the world of matter to behave like the world of mind, and get furiously angry when (say) the fact that they don’t bathe often enough has an impact on their romantic prospects…

    This was the standard view in the sort of New Thought and Christian Science world that I grew up in during the 1940s and 1950s. According to it, the entire physical cosmos or matter and energy is nothing but a vast collective illusion produced by the agreement of hugely disordered human minds. Minds alone are real. When they all cease to be disordered, we will all live in a perfect world with no material bodies or possessions and no dissenting false opinions. (And sexual activity will not be needed to produce perfect children, either.) The material world really has no right to exist at all, much less to thwart our desires and wishes. Or so the theory goes …

    To quote one of the most influential theorists and founders of that broad movement (which I have somewhat pruned of verbiage so as to highlight its striking claim):

    “There is no … substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, … Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real …; matter is the unreal … man is not material; he is spiritual.”

    (This comes from Mary Baker Eddy. For its complete, and brief, text, google her name and “The Scientific Statement of Being.”)

    The New Thought movement was enormously influential throughout the entire 20th century, from Eddy down to Dale Carnegie and Norman Vincent Peale. It seemed to suit a century of ever-increasing American prosperity and expanding American power. (Incidentally, in Trump’s childhood, his family attended Peale’s church, so he certainly understood the belief-system–and being a very clever lad, he probably figured out early on how he could exploit it to his own advantage.)

    Unfortunately for this point of view, the material world, like Elizabeth Warren, nevertheless persists.

    From its persistence arises ever greater cognitive dissonance, as American prosperity slowly vanishes and the American empire shrinks. This leads eventually either to blind rage or to an inability to function at all in the material world. And these two things can very easily be exploited by the clever few to rule over the enraged or crippled many … Indeed, there is much to ponder here.

  204. Ah! This is just what I needed to read this evening. So much of what is written here is exactly what has been on my mind, albeit much better articulated. Thanks for this post. Cheers!

  205. Onething,

    “I think women losing their love, respect and gratitude toward men is the saddest thing. I don’t know how we will recover. And young girls are being trained, in fact brainwashed, to internalize all sorts of wrongdoing on the part of males that isn’t even so. Worse, because of all this many women are becoming spiritually downgraded, losing empathy (which is akin to sociopathy) and narcissistic since they can shoulder no blame nor responsibility and therefore lack the skill to examine themselves and their behaviors.”

    I’m fairly sure it isn’t just the women who are losing their love, respect, and gratitude. Nor is it just them that are becoming “spiritually downgraded,” whatever that means…

    Seriously, the crazy is everywhere. It is not concentrated more or less in one gender, race, political party, or whatever else division you care to name It is just louder from one faction right now due to unkown reasons.

    Regards,

    Varun

  206. JMG, your last exchanges with Dewey have been particularly striking, esp. on the use of straw men, which I see as a crucial, though subtle, part of (the recently increased) Shouting.
    I’ll wager that, in this case, he’s un-generously interpreting your remarks about “zanies”, and “evilly evil”, as applying specifically/ personally to him.

    I should think that you meant “evilly evil”, etc., to refer to the Power Centers which you listed, and that you would agree with my view, that the MSM pundits have become notorious for their increased resort to such tactics.
    Perhaps you might do a post on such tactics, and how they interact with less-subtle Shouting.

  207. The intersection of many factors, that for most are making our lives worse off, is being translated to rage and frustration. If you think about the simple definition of “liberal” being “humans are basically good” versus the simple definition of conservative “humans are basically evil”, then it’s no surprise (to me) that the splutterfest for the Dems is more pronounced. Emotionally, liberals are not as prepared for the dose of reality that’s hitting home.

    One of the bigger factors coming into play is the propaganda and influence of the media. Our education system hasn’t kept pace with the need to equip students with the skills to discriminate truth from fantasy, and the elites have flooded the media (news and advertising) with messages meant to promote misery, maintain divisiveness, perpetuate “labels” and victimhood, and maintain the power they currently enjoy. They’ve turned up the volume with the latest tools of media (the internet and social media), and information overload is just adds to the frustration. When was the last time you heard a talking head suggest that we treat each other first and foremost, as human beings?

    I’d guess that as the decline continues and the frustration builds over our gridlocked political process, we’ll see divisions grow and eventually become violent. As more of us get pushed down to lower levels economically, that also means we have less to lose. And a person with nothing to lose can make some serious trouble.

  208. Regarding the trials ahead for progressives, it is worth reading this remarkable interview with the Dutch populist leader Thierry Baudet, whose FvD party recently won that country’s regional elections:

    https://www.weltwoche.ch/ausgaben/2019-13/artikel/edito-thierry-baudet-die-weltwoche-ausgabe-13-2019.html

    Progressives often like to characterise reactionaries as “wanting to return to the 1950’s”. The bad news for them is that Baudet wants to return to the 1650’s!

  209. Watching the post Mueller-report double down by MSM…..what are your thoughts….

    Do you think Trump has moles in the DNC? He was a Democrat for decades and the Dem strategy is so bad at this point, I can’t believe they are doing this to themselves. Again.

    How much do you think Trump knew about the FBI spying on him back in 2016? I’m thinking he knew they were doing it (the Mueller report mentions March 2016 well before the election) and planned to use it to his advantage later. His personal security team since the 1980’s have all been former FBI agents, so that would give him an informal access to the department.

    Why hasn’t Trump “built the wall”? Does he just want to use it as a 2020 campaign issue?

    How much fun is Trump having? He played Edelweiss before he came out to talk at an event Friday and the press lost it. It was the opening music to “Man in the High Castle” TV show and so they thought it was Nazi music. He also tweeted out a meme in response to the Barr press conference “to the haters and radical left democrats…Game Over’. He’s like a cat that plays with mouse before he kills it.

  210. John—

    Re impeachment

    Certainly, there are those who considered Trump’s election cause enough for removal. On the other hand, I think it was Gerald Ford who observed that an impeachable offense is whatever 218 members of the House say it is. That said, the discussions I’m reading are fully aware that *removal* is not an option, that the Senate will not convict. The debate is entirely on the issues of whether such a fact means that impeachment (as the bringing of charge) should or should not be pursued, and whether a year of impeachment hearings would, in terms of political tactics, hurt or assist Trump with regard to the “middle ground” voters he needs for re-election. To be fair, there are those who ask, “what are you going to do if the Democrats move ahead with impeachment and he gets re-elected anyway?” Objectively, I’d guess the House leadership has the sense to avoid all-out impeachment and will go for a multitude of investigations instead, hoping that the “dirty laundry” will reduce Trump’s credibility with those swing voters. Under normal circumstances, this is a tactic that has been fairly successful. Trump, of course, has a rather interesting ability to up-end the standard playbook.

  211. Re approval/disapproval of Trump policies (just a sampling) Agree that borders matter and should be enforced.. Agree that free trade is not an unmixed blessing. Disagree that Jerusalem should be Israel’s capital. Disagree that gov’t regulation and the EPA should be weakened. Disagree with his contempt for checks and balances in US gov’t. Probably could go on endlessly, but won’t.

  212. As I noted in the post and have repeated here, the patterns I’m seeing are in some ways more prominent on the left, but they pervade every aspect of American society today.

    I see it fairly equally accross the spectrum, but would differentiate the liberal ‘Left’ for their hypocrisy in claiming the mantle of ‘defenders of discernment and reasoned argument’ – when the truth shows us otherwise.

  213. When I was a child, I became familiar with the suggestion “do something useful”. It was a common response to “I’m bored.” As luck would have it, my environment often had opportunities to “do something useful”, if only to gather sticks from the lawn so it could be mowed. Mulching and pruning the orchard were also options. I was enrolled in a 4-H Club, to learn useful skills. Taking the message really to heart, I studied engineering, so that (someday) I could be exceptionally useful. But I also became a self-sufficient cook while in college, which turned out to be very useful in preparing “date meals” for the woman to whom I’ve been happily married for 25 years.

    But what does “do something useful” inspire in young people today? How many have a garden, much less trees, to tend? How many have access to basic foods that reward careful preparation? But anyone can discover their own cause to celebrate, and go forth to protest! When one is essentially powerless to affect the material circumstances of life, what else is there to do but ask / beg / whine / agitate / protest / demand / (where’s my thesaurus when I need it?) that those WITH power respond in your favor. If at first you don’t succeed, “turn up the volume”. “Go big, or go home.” (“Beating a dead horse” seems to be an unfortunately forgotten figure of speech).

    Just last week, I heard a (liberal) commentator explain that “calls for civility” are one of the tools that the elites use to defend their unjust position. There’s a nugget of truth in that, but also a fair amount of danger (to all, not just to the elites).

    Fortunately, both of my sons have found ways to make themselves useful, one in law enforcement, the other in law nmaintenance, food service, and package delivery. Both of them tell stories of interactions with “crazy people”.

  214. Magnificent post, JMG – I can hardly wait for the next one re: the silence that follows the angry shouting! I strongly believe that the explanation about the roots of rages shared by Bogatyr is worth serious contention. At present it certainly isn’t a uniquely American phenomenon, but one that affects most of the First World in various ways. In short, the cognitive dissonance between the myth of progress being forced upon us relentlessly on all sides and the experiential reality that the wheels are coming loose on the wagon as it careens down the gulch has to be expressed in some way. I might add that Third World countries that have been doing well in recent decades (I can speak of India as an example based on my personal experience) are not affected by this kind of irrational over-the-top anger. Unfortunately for the West, the only thing that most people know how to do is to ‘double-down’ on the myth of progress which even worsens the cognitive dissonance. At least that’s how I see it.

    You and members of the commentariat may find a recent article that compares the cognitive flexibility of WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic) humans with a semi-nomadic population informative: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/04/07/704853100/why-the-semi-nomadic-himba-are-so-good-at-thinking-outside-the-box?utm_source=pocket-newtab

    I think that the explanation for the contrast is at least partially correct (what appears to be missing is the relative autonomy of the individual in such societies with respect to economic and some social matters). Given what’s ‘baked in the cake’ in our collective future where predictability will become increasingly rare — and relying on ‘what we’ve always done’ over the past century or so will become an increasingly unsuccessful survival strategy – it’s high time we all learn to think like the Himba! Presumably, JMG, your sound advice to turn off the tube and view the MSM with suspicion, as well as your weekly posts, helps to turn us in this direction. Many thanks for providing such an invaluable service!

  215. @ Methylethyl, yikes; I’m so sorry to hear about that incident!

    @ Isabel, oh my goodness, yes. I don’t know what’s happened to men’s fashion, but it’s wandered into some screwy territory indeed. Sweatpants as casual wear?! Khaki shorts as formal wear?! As you point out, it really isn’t expensive to dress well; some black jeans and a button down shirt really can look very nice and cost less than $20. Indeed, this is the sort of outfit I tend to favor for work.

    May I ask, do you tend to find any correlation between personal hygiene and psychic hygiene? In the past, I’ve had friends whose stench nearly made me gag and they tended to have less than pristine auras. Indeed, if I understand correctly miasma tends to be correlated with bad odors.

    Point being, I tend to think that the whole Neoplatonic Gnostic deal that you describe doesn’t seem to work well on the ground; people who dress sloppy and smell bad often tend to think sloppy and carry bad vibes as, at least to my understanding, the physical body is the the material expression of the soul. You’re right that the idea that sexual attraction should correlate to some mysterious spirit essence does lead to very perverse places very quickly. Frankly it strikes me as the set up to some bad pick up lines.

    Perhaps too what you describe comes from the idea that the physical dimension of reality is below judgment and discernment. That it’s shallow to see someone as a body, and one must apprehend the essential being within the body, the Mind or Soul or what have you. Of course this radical dualism may not have any basis in reality since it’s been my experience that I can learn way more about someone’s inner life by spending 15 minutes in their bedroom than listening to them *discuss* their inner life for many, many hours.

  216. @ Will J, permit me to note that sexual energy can find many outlets besides physical coupling! Indeed, it is the source of creativity in general which can be more exciting than sex, at least in my experience.

    As for your second point; granted. Several years ago while living in a very leftist college town, I encountered a family with a trans daughter. The kid was literally too young to be able to speak in full sentences. During that time I didn’t know anything about Transactional Analysis, but nonetheless, given how young the child was, it seemed obvious that the parents had created a situation in which their only son would inevitably become their daughter. At that point I was more sympathetic to transgender ideology, but I still got the very strong sense that the transition was the parent’s choice, not the child’s. Viscerally this felt very much Not OK. This experience initiated my investigation and criticism of transgender ideology, and so to a certain extent I’m grateful. That said, I agree with you Will J., that this will probably end very badly for the families and classes that adopt these child rearing principles. On a real level though, not my circus not my monkeys.

  217. “Kimberly, I’ve heard the same sort of thing about the racism of the woke from others who’ve been on its receiving end,…”

    That just corroborates for me what I suspected and voiced here about a month ago. It is their own shadow they are running from.

    And frankly, it would be a good strategy to push this idea out into the world at large to help put a brake on something that is out of control.

    Gobbledygook indeed! Oh, the horror! A word has found its way into our lexicon that was made up by soldiers in the jungle who actually coined a meaningless epithet for the enemy!

  218. @JMG: “Can you name something that Trump has done that you approve of”

    1) Tariffs
    2) Although I’m not sure how successful his efforts will prove to be and his tactics are downright weird – opening up or normalising relationships with Russia and N Korea. We don’t need enemies just for the sake of having enemies, and two countries hating each other over differing economic systems is nonsensical.
    3) overhaul of Federal Student Loan Relief Program. Not sure if what or anything to replace it will be better, but it was a duplicitous disaster. Honestly, having none is better than duping people into taking the loans (to fill very moderately paying jobs that are needed by society, and require extensive education) thinking they can discharge them and then later finding they can’t.
    4) I’d like to say bringing the troops home from Syria, but we’ve yet to see that happen.
    5) Ditto with Bringing manufacturing back, but in spite of your alluding to it, I’ve yet to find specific examples of these new manufacturing jobs/plants in action. Still and all – I think he’s genuinely trying.
    6) I’d also like to say the economy in general, but I know many working class/service industry people who work 3 jobs (dead-on-their-feet-tired), cannot get insurance or health care and cannot make ends meet. I’ve worked in grocery stores both in WY and FL, and a preschool in NV; 3 very different economies. Same story. AND I’m rather jaded about any politician fudging the numbers on “The Booming Economy!”. They all do it. I can only trust what they say when it reflects what I see ‘on-the-ground’ around me, at least for SOME of the people around me.

    Preemptively, (because this format doesn’t allow for a quick, easy back and forth):

    Apart from not seeing results of 3,4,5, & 6 above –

    1) acquiescing to / not calling out racist or white supremacist groups, (“good people on both sides”) which has which has emboldened these extremist groups to come out of the shadows and sown division in what is called here “identity politics”. While at the same time, never missing a chance to call out actors on the left, e.g. Black Lives Matter & Colin Kaeperkick for taking a stand, (or knee) to voice an opposition to what they see as a wrong, (police wrongfully killing innocent black people and facing zero consequences).

    1A) Tweaking the left specifically on these issues – also divides the populace. This is just something I can’t get over. From my subjective perspective – this alarms me. As two commenters here have expressed – they are alarmed at marginalised groups making noise because they think it can only lead to violence and they as white people will be in danger; I see it in the opposite – I’m alarmed that the anger and potential danger is already aimed at these groups and will escalate. As we head further into fractal collapse, humans tend to circle the wagons and protect their own and find enemies of those not-like-them, “the others” and in the USA those “others” fall most often on racial lines because of our baggage, our history. I am seeing this “on-the-groud-IRL” already.

    2) little kids in cages. This, IMHO is some nazi-level villainy and there is no sound reason for it. It was not necessary, there are many other options; and should have been avoided, but one of the things it does is desensitise us to such villainy, normalise it, and as in 1) further a divide. During his campaign, he was asked what would you do differently to suspected ISIS/terrorists and he answered, “go after their families and they’ll talk real quick”. He told us then. This is not an accident. He likes to punch down. This does not mean I am for open borders. There are more humane ways of handling it.

    3) tax reform – now that tax season is over, new guidelines does not appear to have benefitted anyone in the middle or lower economic classes. BAU

    4) His persona/schtick of buffoonery, crass, Goodfella’s-wannabe, grab-em-by-the-p***y (good old fashioned sexism), nepotistic placement of family member in advisory roles, Russia-gate, (which he could have easily staved off with transparency, but it was too much fun to divide the country and tweak the noses of all on the Left). If the results were strongly the opposite, I’d be OK with excusing it all, (even if I have to hold my breath because it’s just ugly) as a Harry Truman style, “plain-speaking common man – but truly a powerful leader underneath”, but I’m not seeing those results, (3,4,5,& 6 above). It is another tweak of the nose dividing us and I get the impression that is purposeful.

    5) Mike Pence, who MAY BE scarier, Handmaid’s-Tale” faux-christian, but probably not. He probably IS an empty bone thrown to Evangelicals in the same way the Left establishment throws empty “equality” bones to marginalised groups it wants support from. That old trick just leaves me jaded. Betsy DeVos, who seems to be so pro-Free Market, (AND with a personal financial interest), she is dismantling public support or regulations for education – which is simply the opposite of what I agree with. IMHO some things should be Capitalist/Free Market and some things, (in a wealthy society that CAN) should be supported by the commons. We have a mixed economy, (ALL economies are mixed to some degree or another with elements of Capitalism, socialism and even communalism/communism. None can function for very long in their pure forms). IMHO basic education should come from the commons. If possible, (and it is possible) that would include community colleges and a hefty partial support for State universities. (So I blame him for Betsy DeVos.)

    6) I understand the ACA needed overhauling, but I disagree with the Free-market alternative he proposed to put in it’s place. I don’t think it will work any better – and it’s one of those things that I think can only be “solved” with collapse.

    7) Should be much higher on the list, but Climate Change denial/refusal to address – but we’ve all been over this one, so I don’t think it needs explaining. (?) Actually, I personally don’t blame Trump specifically for this. We’re all to blame/all in this boat heading for Niagra Falls and none of us is able to stop it. Few of us even have an inkling of how to survive it.
    We lost our chance with Reagan. Again – “The Century of the Self” documentary is very worth seeing if you can take the pixels-on-the-screen.

  219. The discussion of circular firing squads and the hard red line placed between “biological appropriation” (deemed okay) and “cultural appropriation” (deemed not okay) reminds me of the furor a couple years ago over an analytical philosophy paper which explored the idea that arguments supporting transgender identity also support transracial identity: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/arts/a-defense-of-transracial-identity-roils-philosophy-world.html.

    The author of the paper, a feminist, was eaten alive in a witch hunt, with a number of academics saying the discussion should be silenced, that the paper shouldn’t have been published because even exploring the idea as a philosophical exercise was “hurtful.”

  220. Phil Knight,

    Of all the explanations for the liberal meltdown, yours resonates the most strongly.

  221. Thank you for another fascinating essay. I think Gurdjieff (who I know you’re not a fan of, and I’m only partially a fan of, to be honest) would call this type of behavior ‘considering’ – blaming the other person, getting angry at them for something you feel they have done against you, feeling slighted. He talks about the need to find reasons for not expressing negative emotions in this way. I notice he distinctly mentions how the solution isn’t just to repress the feelings, as some people might take this to mean. I have come to understand that when I get into ‘considering’ mode, I have to allow my angry feelings to come up, feel them, but then take a step back from them and try to figure out what the cause might be. Usually I find the cause is rooted in me and not in the other person at all.

    Gurdjieff also talks about how people are ‘third force blind,’ which sounds complicated, but I think he’s referring to our tendency to see things as simple binaries. Trump is evil, cis-lesbians are evil, whoever is evil, and I’m good, end of story. I see the third force as the middle ground, my personal power to take responsibility for myself and my actions in a situation, instead of trying to blame all my problems on someone else. When I allow myself to get angry at someone else, in a way I’m giving up my personal power, which is a convenient way to avoid being myself and doing my own work, finding my own happiness.

  222. ” I tend to trust scientific results that go against corporate profits (such as the consensus on global warming)”

    I don’t know about that. There is a tremendous amount of deep pocket government and other money on the global warming side. I believe it dwarfs the amount that oil companies put in for their side. Also, there are corporate profits waiting in the wings to benefit from various changes and proposed legislation. Cap and trade comes to mind.
    Scientists who don’t buy it know to keep their mouths shut. That right there tells you something. As for scientists listening to money, well, all the grant money and fame and kudos goes to scientists who promote it.

  223. I have another factor I think feeds into the anger on the left: massive cognitive dissonance as a result of the interaction of chronocentrism and moral absolutism. Witness all the people being taken down for not following the standards of the “good people” decades ago, and it’s hard to miss. Anyone who didn’t follow those standards, even decades ago, did so knowingly, and is thus evil. There is no such thing as moral redemption either, so once evil always evil.

    What makes this interesting is that Trump breaks these standards. Since Trump is evil, he can only be evil, and so everything he says and does must be motivated by evil. This means that if he adopts a position of the “good people”, it is in fact evil. Now, it gets interesting at the interaction point. The “good people” must change their position, for they can not be evil, but they cannot admit to changing it, for by their own logic they must have known it was evil, and if they ever held such a position, they are evil.

    By it’s own logic, there is no way out. Therefore the furious meltdowns around Trump: his mere presence reminds people that, by their own logic, they are evil.

  224. Steve T: I guess I’ll do as the self help gurus say and pay myself first.

    Not sure if it was mentioned here… I’m thinking of Violet and her comments about how depressing/hateful any random LGBT gathering has become. The 2019 Edmonton Pride Festival was cancelled. Two groups, Shades of Colour (indigenous peoples) and Rarica Now (refugees), made a bunch of demands at a meeting of the board of directors. They claimed LGBTIQ2S+ people needed a vigil led by QTIBPOC+ and trans folk. They also wanted payouts.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/edmonton-pride-festival-cancelled-2019-1.5093276

    Former President Obama has been warning his fellow liberals about a “circular firing squad” in 2020. It’s eerie to hear JMG’s words come out of Obama’s mouth.

    https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/04/obama-berlin-worried-progressives-circular-firing-squad.html

  225. Regarding reparations,

    As a right-wing white guy, I would very much like to discuss reparations.

    How much is required to settle all this? What is the number that pays the debt in full?

    https://thezman.com/wordpress/?p=16651

    I’d personally be happy to pay money I don’t believe I owe if in exchange everyone shuts the f*** up about ‘racism’. I’d be willing to pay quite a bit actually…

    But like thezman says, I’m pretty sure its tribute that they want, not reparations.

    The talk about ‘whiteness’ as oppression is similar.

    If you think you’re hurting someone simply with your presence, why not leave? Trying to change what you are is rather difficult, if it’s possible at all, so separating would be the obvious option.

    Suggest that we separate as politely and peacefully as possible(think Czechoslovakia). Whites can’t oppress you if they’re not there. If ‘persons of color’ then have control over all aspects of their society they’d be free of ‘whiteness’, there would therefore be no white oppression to complain about.

    Of course that’s white flight and ‘white nationalism’, thats the most evil thing that’s ever eviled…

    The ‘whiteness talk isn’t about being free from ‘oppression’, it is about having totalitarian control over a people that they hate, just as the reparations talk is about tribute.

  226. Also late to the party, but I’ve been reading the comments with interest.

    I’ve been feeling for some time now that there is an increasing amount of what I’ve been calling, in my mind, “cult-like behavior” on both sides of the political spectrum, along with a very disturbing dehumanization of perceived enemies.

    The right-wing people I know work themselves into frenzies over sub-human “illegals” menacing us at every corner, how Obama was a terrorist Muslim Kenyan n—–r hell-bent on destroying the country, and have “terrorist hunting permits” on their walls and cars. Etc. Meanwhile, the liberal people I know are working themselves into frenzies over Russian spies under every bed, how Trump is a deranged orange monster, and the people who voted for him are sub-human deplorable garbage that “deserve to die” (literally). Suggest that there might be a more nuanced way of understanding these things – terrorism is wrong but terrorists do what they do for reasons that make sense to them and contextualizing our understanding of this behavior isn’t the same as condoning it; illegal immigrants are people who are breaking the law, but for understandable reasons related to problems in other countries and businesses willing to illegally exploit cheaper labor; people voted for Trump for economic reasons (including labor issues related to immigration), or maybe just to disrupt a status quo they find increasingly unbearable; Obama was just a cynical career politician who promised one thing and did another; Trumps is just a bloviating, unqualified businessman who cynically took advantage of a situation to become president – and you risk getting yourself re-labelled as “one of them.” An evil, sub-human whatever.

    Same thing with some of the SJW stuff – it really feels like people are in a cult. Reality is irrelevant; all that matters is what I feel, however divorced from facts it may be. (And I don’t think that it makes me “transphobic” to point out that children and adolescents who think they’re trans might actually, you know, have other issues and just being going through a phase where they’re confused about things, and maybe we shouldn’t rush to agree they’re trans before exploring other possible sources of confusion. But to anyone in the SJW cult, that makes me a transphobic deplorable. Or a TERF. Or something.)

    I’m middle-aged, and I don’t remember it being this bad a few decades ago; sure, there were some people who were absorbed in nutty extremist political thinking, but it didn’t seem to be nearly as many.

    The other thing is that it does feel like it’s moving up the privilege scale, so to speak. My perception was that it used to be the less-privileged Americans who were drawn to these sort of secular cults of political belief; for example, it was poor or otherwise-disenfranchised people who became Fox News/talk-radio ditto-heads, not people living in relative privilege. But now many of my previously-apolitical, well-off in-laws have become MAGA groupies, and many of my well-off, previously semi-tolerant liberal co-workers have become their own version of intolerant Maddow groupies, with both groups lashing out at their preferred (evil, less-than-fully-human) targets in regularly-scheduled two-minute hates. I increasingly seem to be excusing myself from gatherings to go to the bathroom, make a call, or get a cup of tea; I can’t deal with it, from either side.

    It’s as if a significant portion of the country has gotten caught up in two competing mass delusions, and those of us not caught up in either are sitting here going “what on earth has happened?” This blog is one of the few places where I can read posts and comments and feel like I’m not totally alone in thinking that the world is still a complicated place and there are no simple answers to anything.

    “Reality divorced from reason”, I guess. It sometimes seems to me like people are reaching for what looks to me almost like some sort of secular religious experience, one that will provide them with a sense of belonging and being righteous, one of the Good People (TM) standing against the Evil Ones (TM). They seem to enjoy hating, and hating righteously, as it were. I wonder what need that belonging and hating fills, and why there seems to be such an increasing desire for it across the socio-economic spectrum. I can’t help but think that economics can’t explain all of it, since it’s infecting the economically well-off too. People seem to be really, really angry, and I think a lot of them don’t even know who they’re angry at, but are vulnerable to being told who they should hate.

  227. Zach, sure, just as the Mueller report can “easily be read” as a long list of impeachable offenses, by those who insist on seeing it that way. One of the basic rules of reasonable discourse is that you don’t try to twist the other person’s comments around so you can use them as a club to hit the other person with.

    Jen, fascinating. I think you’re on to something very important, and of course what you’ve suggested ties in very well with my comments earlier on hate as the new sex — Western cultures being what they are, it’s standard for women to be assigned the role of guardians of the approved morality of “good society;” just as women were expected in Victorian times to be more prudish about sex than men, women today are expected to be more rigidly nice than men.

    Pogonip, sure thing. As for the “announcing dreams,” one of the things to keep in mind here is that the subtle bodies of a mother and her unborn child are very closely linked; they aren’t, strictly speaking, two individual people yet — which is why the child’s horoscope is drawn up for the moment of birth, when the child becomes fully separate on an energetic level. It doesn’t surprise me at all to find that this includes a bit of telepathy between mothers and the incoming souls of their children.

    Justin, no, that doesn’t follow at all. There are many different ways to be a man, and no one of them is right for everyone who happens to be a man — but there are also people who aren’t men. (In most cases we call them “women.”)

  228. Hi JMG

    I just read and article about the way to make an “axial shift” in the society that will defeat “populism” and I want to share with you and the comentariat becuase I think is not off-topic at all:

    https://www.resilience.org/stories/2019-04-19/axial-shift-the-decline-of-trump-the-rise-of-the-greens-and-the-new-coordinates-of-societal-change/

    I extract some paragraphs that I consider interesting to explain the mindset of the authors:

    “Through Donald Trump and Brazil’s newly elected president Jair Bolsonaro, we know one part of that axis very well. “Closed” means a mindset that amplifies the triad of Fear, Hate, and Ignorance. It’s a mindset that manifests in the form of five behaviors: blinding (not seeing reality); de-sensing (not empathizing with others); absencing (losing the connection to one’s highest future); blaming others (an inability to reflect); and destroying (destruction of nature, of relationships, and of self).

    The playbook of these five behaviors has reshaped politics over the past couple of years. Not because any of these behaviors are new. But because these behaviors are now weaponized with social media mechanisms such as micro-targeting and dark posts that increase our isolation in digital echo chambers and that amplify these toxic behaviors on levels not seen before….”

    So they think the “populist” have an agenda based in fear, hate and ignorance, and now it is so destructive because it is amplified by the social networks and “fake news”….(Russia again?)

    They have an interesting theory of what is happening now in the US in historical terms, and why “those” people have elected Trump:

    “…the conflict around the vertical axis between closed and open is not new. Here in the US it goes back at least as far as the Civil War. In many ways that war never fully ended but has continued through various forms of institutionalized racism and exclusion (Jim Crow laws). Of the 26 senators that represent the 13 secessionist Southern states of the former Confederacy in the US Senate today, only 5 are Democrats, 21 are Republican. Of the 38 senators that represent the 19 Northern (Union) states in the Senate today, only 9 are Republican, 27 are Democrats (and two are independent). Clearly, closed versus open is not new. What’s new today are three conditions: that the issue is now playing out globally; that we have only one decade left to transform our economies and societies in line with the planetary boundaries for sustainable development; and that social media are amplifying the toxic behaviors (i.e., the cycle of absencing) on levels not seen before.”

    So, in the US, they say, in fact you “are” still in the civil war….because it never fully ended, and, of course the “racism and exclusion” is sustained only by the Republicans…Well, last time I read the history of the US Civil War I thought Lincoln was as Republican…

    Another part quite interesting of this article is the way they treat the place of the human work in a future dominated by the AI:

    “Second, the whole artificial intelligence (AI) revolution that is going to reshape the way societies operate will predominantly replace jobs based on the skills that we learn on the lower half of the spectrum (memorizing figures, formulas, and facts). The result will be to further reorient human activity and value creation toward the upper half of the spectrum (human compassion, empathic human services, collective creativity, deep listening, generative dialogue, collective presence, holding the space, letting go, and letting come)”

    So the “progress” will make all people much more crative, and we will use our skill in a kind of paradise of empathy

    Well reading the article, everyone knows who are in the “Axis of Evil”, and it is up to you to decide and join the “Axis of Good”

    Cheers
    David

  229. Dear Jen, I have a lot of experience in various workplaces with women being unable to separate personal from public, which is also something I have had to learn to do. I believe it will take one more generation of women growing up with the understanding that they will have to earn their own livings before overindulgence in emotion ceases.

    That is not to say that “being nice” and good manners in general are not useful tools. They can in many circumstances be very useful. Anger, controlled and narrowly directed, not spewed over the landscape, also can be effective, if resorted to judiciously and seldom.

  230. JMG said about his wife Sara: “she picked up a very effective “Well, bless your heart” while we lived in western Maryland.

    That’s a very useful Southernism that MY Spokane-native wife has also acquired. Will you indulge me in a relevant joke?

    Ahem…

    A Southern woman was hanging out with her well-heeled Yankee friends one day having a glass of wine when the 1st of these women piped up with “for our last anniversary my Harvey bought me a sumptuous fur coat.”

    The Southern lady smiled and said, “well bless your heart.”

    The next Yankee lady spoke up quickly, holding her hand out for all to see, saying, “well for OUR last anniversary my Frank bought me this beautiful diamond ring.”

    The Southern lady smiled and repeated her “well bless your heart.”

    The 3rd Yankee lady, not to be outdone, laid a fat black car key on the table, and added, “well my dear Leonard bought me a new Lexus for OUR last anniversary.”

    Again the Southern woman smiled politely and said “well bless your heart.”

    Then the 3 Yankee ladies turned to their Southern friend and asked, “what did your husband get you for your last anniversary?”

    The Southern lady very patiently explained that her husband had paid for finishing lessons for her on their last anniversary.

    “Finishing lessons??” they replied horrified. “Dear Lord, why would he do that?”

    Then the Southern lady smiled her biggest smile yet and said, “so I could learn to respond to shallow posturing from obscene Yankees by saying “well bless your heart, instead of, well FRA-A-A-CK YOU!”

    😁

  231. Hi El,

    There were 2 famous Christian apologists, G. K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis; I think of them as The Initial Guys. I can’t remember which Initial Guy said that when [people] don’t believe in God, the problem was not that they’d believe in nothing, but that they’d believe in anything, but how right he was. Exhibit A, the cult of the Goddess Hillary.

  232. Ethan said: “you might give them a better chance at success by helping them to believe in themselves and not blame others for their problems. The whole thing seems rather patronizing if you ask me.”

    Indeed it does. Well spotted. But I have to wonder if the oppressed individuals in question even have this issue to begin with, or are the Rescuers just blindly engaging in their Rescuing?? It’s all plenty bizarre to this ex-Democrat for sure.

    Cheers!

  233. First I must point out that I have very little experience with Trans people. In fact this blog’s comments have introduced more first hand trans experiences than I have ever encountered prior. So the following thoughts are observations and musings more generally whether or not they apply to trans specifically.

    – I think we have confused masculine(feminine) trait with Male(Female) biological sex*.

    *I kept wanting a better term than biological sex. This is too binary

    – Genetic drift All organisms face evolutionary pressure. In humans the X chromosome is fairly stable, while the Y chromosome is able to be be experimented with. This makes sense in low populations when very few viable males are able to repopulate a slightly larger pool of viable females. This is why females tend to cluster around the averages while males are spread evenly across the entire spectrum. So I would think we should see more M to F
    trans than the reverse. Maybe transgenderism is a way to experiment on the female side without sacrificing the X chromosome directly.

    – High populations as a driver of genetic drift. High population is a sign of abundance and what adaptations will be best suited to survive the next famine are not known. So evolutionarily speaking one approach would be to mutate as much as possible when populations are high so that hopefully you will have diverse enough group that at least one will be adapted to survive into the future(a genetic Green Wizardry if you will). How might the genes know when to kick genetic drift into high gear? One possible answer is caloric intake.

    – High caloric intake or more likely a lack of caloric restriction over a sustained period of time. Could this be the trigger. Many religions have promoted fasting and I have been thinking more generally about scientific basis of religious ideals. Could the basis of all religion be Science then as as the “Science” gets perverted for it’s purveyors own ends and as the purveyors stop trying prove the doctrines to the people and just say “Trust Us” it starts to look more like religion. The “own ends” makes makes me think of systems of Govt.

    – Best govt system Monarchy GOOD king(queen(this being a transgendered topic)) Worst system Monarchy BAD king(queen) If a king thinks of his own ends he will be a bad king if he thinks of only of the peoples end he will be overthrown he has to balance his own end (safety) with that of the peoples. Where democracy fits in this scale.

    Anyway I was hoping to get this this all the way back to UBI but alas my focus has waned. I’ll have to try again later.

  234. Jen,

    You’ve managed to explain something that’ bothered me lately: why is it that so many women will agree to date someone when they don’t actually want to? I get that in some cases there’s a power imbalance that makes saying no difficult, but in many cases there’s not, and it seemed odd to me. But if the single worst sin for women is to “make a scene”, it might be hard to say no.

    This is especially true since your happy medium is sometimes made out to be “making a scene” by people who for whatever reason want to bring someone down.

    Violet,

    Sexual energies can indeed find lots of outlets. I think though I have less of them to work with than other people, and my energies are of other varieties.

    As for transgender children, I think it’s a very dangerous place to be. The ideal approach is to make sure that children know that it’s an option, but not have it forced on them. I suspect that in most cases what will happen to the children is very, very unpleasant.

    I think this is a very tough situation, because on the one hand I think it’s quite clear that this is harmful to another human being, but at the same time I see the abuses that are done in the name of “protecting children” from parents, and in a lot of cases it’s worse than the parents were doing.

    As for ending badly, the part that worries me is that I could see a case where thirty or forty years from now it’s those children leading the anti-transgender movement, and they would have an awfully good case for the harms transgender ideology can cause.

    All in all, this is a royal mess.

    JMG,

    Something interesting just occurred to me: there is a very strong objective element to magical practice, or at least there should be. I wonder if the reason that many on the political left are utterly incompetent when it comes to magic is that they can’t grasp that point.

    It would certainly explain the insistence that symbols mean whatever the person doing the working wants them to mean. It would also explain why the step of checking how the working turns out is so strongly frowned upon, and why magical protection is deemed insensitive: it only matters if you think the universe is not pure and good, and so if you want to experience a good and pure universe you just declare it, and then can skip magical hygiene.

  235. YIKES! In my post, I meant to say:

    “Preemptively, (because this format doesn’t allow for a quick, easy back and forth): Things I dislike about Trump. Hope that was not too confusing. 🙁

  236. Robert, yes, and that’s something I’ll be talking about in some detail as we proceed. New Thought ideas are extremely useful as tools for personal change — that’s why I’ve made the Order of Essenes New Thought course available again — but they can be taken too far, and when that happens things can get very, very toxic. One of the questions I’ve been mulling over of late is how to balance the New Thought awareness of the power that states of mind have over our experience with the corresponding recognition that there are things you can’t change just by changing your mind.

    Pogonip, many thanks for the link! It’s good to see “Orange Man Bad!” getting more air time. I grant that watching Trump is sometimes a little like reading “The Eye of Argon,” but he’s certainly more entertaining than any of his opponents so far.

    Jenny, just one of the services I offer. 😉 Seriously, my sense is that a lot of people are having thoughts like these, especially now that the reaction to the Mueller report — “Not guilty? Why, that just proves that he’s guilty!” — has made it very hard for those not caught up in the rage to miss seeing just how delusional it has become.

    aNanyMouse, that may well be what’s going on. My comments, though, were a response to the way that Dewey — like many others, of course — systematically applied one set of interpretations to Trump and his supporters, and a radically different set of interpretations to his opponents, in such a way as to justify anything Trump’s opponents say and vilify everything coming from the other side.

    Drhooves, I ain’t arguing. To some extent, after all, Trump’s election was precisely a revolt on the part of people who felt they had nothing to lose.

    Phil K., fascinating. Baudet’s a fascinating figure; if he becomes the wave of the future in Europe, which is a real possibility, Faustian culture might actually succeed in making the transition to the stable form Spengler calls “civilization,” rather than simply imploding at the end of its era of expansion.

    Denys, I don’t think Trump needs a mole in the DNC. He’s got them reacting rather than responding, and so he can manipulate their reactions to a fare-thee-well, The business with “Edelweiss” was typically brilliant; to everyone in middle America, that song instantly calls up memories of “The Sound of Music,” and the protagonists singing it as they escape from Nazi-occupied Austria. When the media insisted that it was a Nazi song, they made millions of Americans scratch their heads and try to figure out whether the media was that stupid, or that dishonest. Expect to see much more of the same kind, as the Democrats sink further into delusions of reference and Trump targets those mercilessly.

    David, I hope they’re as rational as that. Given recent events, I’m not sure that’s the case, but I hope so.

    Phutatorius, exactly. I’m in favor of his trade and immigration policies, very irritated by his failure to follow through on his promise to get the US military out of the Middle East, and could go on much further alternating things I agree with and things I don’t.

    Mog, fair enough.

    Lathechuck, thanks for this. That strikes me as a crucial point — people turn to protest when they’ve given up on making change themselves, and are simply demanding that someone else do it for them.

    Ron, you’re welcome and thank you. I agree that Bogatyr’s got a crucial point: the death of the great god Progress is staring the industrial world in the face, and the faithful followers of that god are basically wigging out in response. With regard to the WEIRD (funny) vs. nomads comparison, true, but people in the modern industrial world can become much less dependent on the collective than they’ve become. Funny about that — we knew as much in the 1960s and 1970s, and then most people did their level best to forget it.

    Caryn, funny. I grant that you named some things Trump did that you agreed with, which is good — and then you turned around, took half of them back, and appended a long list of Trump’s sins. I’d like to recommend that you take some time to think about why you felt it was necessary to do that, when that wasn’t what I’d asked for and had no relevance to the point I was trying to make. That’s not a rhetorical request, by the way; I’d really like to encourage you to ponder that. Also, the policy of putting children in cages was established under Barack Obama’s administration; you can find the details quite easily online. I’m going to encourage you to take the time to look that up for yourself — and if you decide not to do it, again, I’d like to suggest that you take some time to ponder why you refused.

    JWWM, yes, I had that in mind. Thanks for the link to the article — that may be worth citing in an upcoming post.

    Stefania, I’m not particularly into Gurdjieff, but I certainly don’t reject his insights out of hand — it’s just that the Fourth Way isn’t my path. Both those seem like very worthwhile concepts.

    Will J, that strikes me as a very cogent analysis. Thank you.

    Jason, my take is that the business about reparations has been dragged up again because the Democratic party is frantically trying to keep its hold on African-American voters as a captive constituency. The moment the 2020 election is over it’s going to vanish from the media as quickly as “hope” and “change” did after Obama’s election. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that reparations — like several other things the Democrats are making central to their rhetoric these days — only have the support of 20% or so of the US voting public. If the Dems make those the hills they die on, they’re going to go down to a savage defeat.

    El, that strikes me as a fair characterization.

  237. So I don’t comment to often as I have learned that thoughtful comments what works and something that carries on the conversations started from the post.

    One thing you notice from living outside the US is just how completely propagandised the US has become. When I last visited, the narratives were repeated on radio, TV, movies so everyone repeated the same discredited stories (Russiagate etc).

    What I have observed is the vitriolic hate is not restricted to Trump and TERF’s. I see that exact same tactic used by the pro-vaccine lobby and the Israeli lobby. No criticism of the narrative is permitted and anyone who does question must be evil/crazy/uninformed when it’s usually the exact opposite. Whistleblowers who reveal corruption like Chelsea Manning are demonised and publishers like Assange are hunted down while the actual wrongdoers are left untouched (DNC, bankers etc).

    When you look at the money flowing into these groups they all are tied together which, while not a conspiracy per say, is certainly collusion. (Sorry, a decade working on on NSA satellites makes you look at the world in a different way).

    Just like the DOD funds and has editorial control over vast range of movies and TV (Captain Marvel the latest), what does all this mean. I think that we cannot treat all these movements as independent events give the common tactics employed and the funding involved.

    For example, pharmaceutical companies are funding transgender activist organisations which is handy as TG people will need a lifetime of hormones. Vaccine programs provide no conventionally required peer reviewed safety studies but pile on new vaccines almost on a daily basis with no liability for injury. Meanwhile health outcomes get worse and worse and infant mortality has dropped to third world levels.

    The sad part is I don’t thing there is anything that can be done until the whole system crashes.

  238. Will J,

    It is alas sadly true that a simple “No; No, thanks; Not interested; Please don’t touch/talk to me anymore” etc. is often (I’d say usually) interpreted as being a b—ch, if not actually making a scene. To be fair, I think that men have some collective catching up to do with these social norms just as women do, and rejection is never pleasant for anyone.

    And yeah, it is often hard, especially as a young woman, to not just kind of go along with romantic/sexual overtures because you can’t find a way to nicely shut them down. I remember a couple of cringe-worthy anecdotes from my teens (I went to college at sixteen):

    A guy asked me for my cell number and I didn’t want to give it to him, but couldn’t bring myself to flatly refuse, and in the heat of the moment I gave him the only other number I could think of—my dad’s—which he proceeded amorously to call later that night, much to everyone’s embarrassment. Poor guy.

    I also remember a guy attempting to make out with me at a party and me just sort of resignedly kissing him until one of my girlfriends could come save me, after which we all retreated to commiserate about how he could possibly think I was into him and how clueless he was to importune me with his advances…and oh God, he keeps calling me now, can’t he take a hint! It was an embarrassingly long time before I had the self-awareness to think, “Of course he thought you were into him—you kissed him back!”

    Sigh.

    What troubles me now is that this kind of awkward youthful miscommunication is often portrayed as, if not actual sexual assault/harassment on the part of the guy, then at least symptomatic of participation on his part in a broader culture of sexism and objectification of women, which I think is really unfair. I don’t say there’s not a certain amount of problematic gendered socialization that encourages women to be too accommodating and men to try to “get away with” as much as they can, but I do think women have to at least hold ourselves responsible for communicating our wishes/boundaries and not expecting them to be psychically discerned. Men could of course help by not responding in an angry/entitled manner when said boundaries are so expressed. Double sigh.

  239. Happy [your religion’s spring holiday here]! Tomorrow most Christians get colored eggs, chocolate bunnies, ham, and general rejoicing. (A few groups have to wait another week, Christendom can never agree on the calendar.)What about the rest of you? What’s your spring holiday involve?

    Easter’s the big Christian holiday; 6 weeks later we have Corpus Christi, the end of the Easter season; then a long quiet spell of ordinary time, broken by a few minor holidays, till penitential Advent followed by Christmas. Secular Christmas is a long exhausting orgy of greed; Christian Christmas is reverent, relaxing, and fun, and if I ever get a big enough house I’m going to start the Annual Ecosophia Christmas-for-Everybody Potluck, all gods and their devotees welcome. (This one’s rather small so it’d be the Christmas-for-the-ten-or-so-we-can-pack-in Potluck, the solstice weather around here generally not lending itself to outdoor fun, except we wouldn’t have to worry about ants, flies, and mosquitoes.)

  240. DFC, way back in the early days of “The Archdruid Report” I critiqued David Korten’s book The Great Turning, which tried to do this same sort of gimmick. It wasn’t the first attempt, either, but it’s the first one I really grappled with — and it used the same rhetorical trickery: a degree of moral dualism that would make a third-century Gnostic blush, based on impressively simplistic caricatures of the two and only two sides that are allowed to exist. In Korten’s system, they were “Empire” and “Earth Community,” which are exactly the same as the “Closed” and “Open” mindsets in the piece you posted. The goal is the same, too — to try to reassure believers in today’s illiberal Left that they really are on the right side of history, on their way despite all the evidence to a glorious future where everyone will agree with them. We’ll see much more of this over the next few years as American liberalism finishes its life cycle and implodes, and some new core ideological stance begins the long slow process of its genesis.

    Tripp, the funny thing is that I heard exactly the same joke from my wife about seven years ago. 😉

    Pogonip, a good case can be made that, as various theologians have claimed, the human soul is naturally religious. Perhaps the best evidence for this is the way that people who insist they’ve rejected religion and all its works proceed to worship politicians, ideologies, celebrities, or — most embarrassingly — themselves.

    Matt, interesting. I don’t tend to favor this kind of strict materalist analysis — to my mind that sort of thing explains away more than it explains — but those are doubtless some of the factors involved.

    Will J, I think you’re on to something very important, and it’s something I’ve already planned on addressing in an upcoming post. If your magic doesn’t work, you have two options: figure out what you’re doing wrong and correct it, or give up on reality testing and shift the goalposts as needed to maintain the claim that you really are working powerful magic. To an appalling extent, today’s pop occultists have taken the latter option. It’s not just the abject failures of the anti-Trump working; over and over again, I’ve seen people in the pop occultism scene proclaiming their mighty magical power to transform the world, doing an inept job of performing bunny-slope rituals, getting no results, and then engaging in the most spectacular sort of retconning to insist that their rituals really did transform the world. That kind of thing does not keep well, and it’s one of the reasons why I expect to see the current pop-occultism scene (and much of modern Neopaganism) collapse in the years immediately ahead.

    Caryn, I figured that was what you meant.

    Pogonip, that matches my experience too…

  241. James, the thing to remember about conspiracy theories is that conspiracies unquestionably exist. (I’ve filled an encylopedia with accounts of historically documented conspiracies.) The problem with conspiracy theories is that they’re usually come up with by people who have no experience with participation in secret societies, and who therefore tend to think that conspiracies are far more powerful, effective, and unified than they actually are. In the real world, people turn to conspiracy when they aren’t powerful enough to get what they want by overt means, and you know a conspiracy has succeeded when it ditches the secrecy and becomes a political party, an army, or a government.

    The implication here — and it’s one that flies in the face of just about all the rhetoric on both sides — is that the governing elites in the US and other Western countries today have a weak and trembling hold on power. That’s why they’re forced to use such roundabout and ramshackle means to maintain their power, instead of (say) rounding people up by the tens of thousands and sending them to prison camps in Nevada, or dealing with protest marches by sending in a dozen helicopter gunships, the way real dictatorships do.

    Pogonip, we Druids had our spring holiday late last month, at the spring equinox. A ceremony and a nice meal did the job of welcoming in the season very nicely. A happy Easter to you and yours, and to all my Christian readers!

Courteous, concise comments relevant to the topic of the current post are welcome, whether or not they agree with the views expressed here, and I try to respond to each comment as time permits. Long screeds proclaiming the infallibility of some ideology or other, however, will be deleted; so will repeated attempts to hammer on a point already addressed; so will comments containing profanity, abusive language, flamebaiting and the like -- I filled up my supply of Troll Bingo cards years ago and have no interest in adding any more to my collection; and so will sales spam and offers of "guest posts" pitching products. I'm quite aware that the concept of polite discourse is hopelessly dowdy and out of date, but then some people would say the same thing about the traditions this blog is meant to discuss. Thank you for reading Ecosophia! -- JMG

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