Not the Monthly Post

Conversation as Commons

A little while back I fielded yet another attempt to bully me into censoring my comments pages.  It was the same schtick as always. One of my commenters had expressed a point of view to which the would-be censor objected, and rather than being satisfied with presenting an opposing point of view on the forum for readers to discuss, the would-be censor wanted the commenter silenced. I get such demands routinely, and they always go straight into the trash.  If someone urges me to censor other people, it seems to me, they’ve just given me permission to censor them, and I’m happy to do so.

As this suggests, I am not a free speech purist. The attitude I have on the subject of free speech is one that used to be standard across large parts of American society, and though it’s dropped out of fashion in recent decades, it still has a great deal to recommend it.  Since it’s not something you’ll hear discussed these days in our public schools or our corporate media, it struck me that at least some of my readers might be interested in a discussion of that attitude—and of course it might also encourage other would-be censors to save the time they might otherwise waste in typing out denunciatory screeds that I’m just going to delete half-read.

The attitude I’m discussing can be summed up very precisely:  I moderate conduct, not content.

Let’s take a closer look at this. Any verbal expression, be it spoken, written, printed, posted on an internet forum, or what have you, has two closely intertwined functions, which we can call informative and performative. The former is an abstract conceptual content; the latter is a concrete social action. In any actual communication both these functions are equally present, and yes, they intertwine in a galaxy of complicated ways.  Drawing the line in practice is sometimes a complicated matter requiring personal judgment calls, but the distinction’s important.

Consider, for example, a series of words encouraging the listener to commit some violent criminal act. That set of words has the same informative function no matter what the context.  On the other hand, if it’s the answer to the question “So what do you want me to do?” it has a very different performative function than if it’s the answer to the question “And what did the defendant say next?”  In these two cases the distinction is obvious. Equally, I think most of us understand the performative difference between the words “I love you” meant as an endearment, and the same words meant as an attempted excuse for manipulation, bullying, or domestic abuse.

As this last example suggests, the performative function of a verbal expression can be a means of abusing and harming others. Our species being what it is, this sort of noxious misuse of language is quite common. As far as we know, it has been common since about fifteen minutes after we figured out how to use the usual anthropoid collection of hoots and grunts to represent our first vaguely abstract concepts.  As with most of the bugs in Homo sapiens 1.0, we’ve worked out an imperfect but functional kluge to work around this problem, and the patch in the case we’re considering has a common name:  courtesy.

Yes, I know, that’s a crashingly unfashionable concept these days.  Most people, hearing the word, roll their eyes if they don’t denounce it in shrill tones. There’s a historical reason for those reactions, and we’ll get to it in a little while, but I’d like to suggest a different way of thinking about courtesy. What I’m proposing is that conversation is a commons, and courtesy is one of the ways that participants maintain the commons.

Garrett Hardin.

Let’s step back here for some context. More than half a century ago Garrett Hardin turned the certainties of half a dozen social sciences on their heads with a precise and unsparing essay entitled “The Tragedy of the Commons.”  In writing that essay he was challenging one of the most deeply rooted prejudices of economics, the claim—made most famously by Adam Smith—that if individuals freely pursue their own self-interest in a free market, the consequences will work out for the benefit of everyone.

Now of course there are problems applying that claim to the real world—starting with the fact that, as Smith himself admitted, free markets are as elusive as hippogriffs—but that’s not the issue that Hardin wanted to tackle. He wanted to show that even on its own terms, Smith’s claim was nonsense, and he did it using the commons as a model. A commons, in the language of economics, is a resource that is used by all members of a community but belongs to none. The classic example, and the one that Hardin used in his essay, is the common pasture of the European Middle Ages:  a piece of grassy real estate set aside by a village of peasants to feed the villagers’ cows.

Pasturage is a renewable resource, but only if the number of cows pastured on it is kept below what ecologists call the carrying capacity.  Below the carrying capacity, the grass grows as fast as the cows can eat it, and everything’s fine indefinitely. Above the carrying capacity, the cows eat the grass down to the bare roots, the grass dies, the soil erodes, and you don’t have a pasture any more. At least at first glance, then, it seems as though the villagers would all have a vested interest in keeping the number of cows on the commons below the carrying capacity.

Ah, but wait a moment, Hardin said. If the villagers act the way that today’s economists insist they ought to do, they’ll always choose to maximize their own individual advantage in every situation.  In the case of a commons, that means adding cows to their personal herds even if that pushes the commons above the carrying capacity.  Why?  First, all the benefit of having extra cows accrues to the individual peasant who owns them, while the costs of having extra cows is divided among everyone in the village. Second, the benefit of having extra cows accrues in the present, while the cost of having those cows is put off to the future and is therefore subject to a partial discounting in terms of present value.

Furthermore, once one person starts pasturing extra cows on the commons, the maximizing of individual advantatge would require all the others to do the same thing, because otherwise they bear a share of the cost of excess grazing but receive no benefit from it.  Thus the commons is doomed so long as it remains subject to purely economic forces, and Adam Smith’s claim that the individual pursuit of self-interest inevitably works out for the benefit of all goes tumbling to the ground like a poleaxed cow.

Elinor Ostrom.

Though this is rarely mentioned by his critics, Hardin freely admitted that there are ways to help a commons survive these pressures. More recently, Elinor Ostrom won a Nobel Prize in economics for exploring exactly how a commons can be protected against the destructive process that Hardin anatomized in his essay. Her writings on the subject are well worth your while if you want to get deep into the theory of the commons, but they can be summed up quite easily in terms that make obvious common sense to most people:  you preserve a commons by setting up formal limits on its use, and penalizing and excluding people who try to violate those limits.

Yes, it really is that simple.  Let’s start with the common pasture as Hardin portrayed it, and imagine that the peasants in the village have some understanding of carrying capacity—most people who raise livestock do.  Being proper Anglo-Saxon peasants, let’s say, they gather under the big oak tree at the center of the village and hold a moot, where the question is mooted about, fortunately without becoming a moot point. They consider the size and quality of the pasture and the appetite of the local breed of cow, and after much discussion agree that every family in the village shall be allowed to pasture no more than two cows on the village pasture.  They furthermore agree that this rule shall be enforced by the village reeve, and that if anyone tries to pasture an excess cow in the village commons anyway, on the third such offense their cow shall be forfeit, and everyone in the village except the offending family shall enjoy a barbecue.

Notice how this changes the dynamic. With a formal limit on the use on the commons, and assurance that the limit will be enforced, no one will be saddled with costs in exchange for someone else’s benefit. Furthermore, since the sturdy peasants of the village all like the taste of barbecued beef, they have a robust personal incentive to help enforce the limit. This is why, as Ostrom pointed out, the best way to maintain a commons is to leave it in the hands of the locals, rather than trying to enforce compliance with the dictates of a distant government.

Now let’s take these same concepts and apply them to human communication. That’s also a commons, and one that is susceptible to abuse in exactly the same way that Hardin outlined. What we may as well call the conversational commons is owned by nobody and used by everyone who chooses to engage in communication. People can benefit from it in a vast number of ways, and people can also abuse it in a vast number of ways.  “Courtesy” is one common English word for the rules that have been evolved down through the centuries to limit the possibilities for abuse. Like every other set of rules for maintaining a commons, the rules of courtesy have teeth to them:  in social interactions governed by courtesy, the penalty for violation is exclusion.  The man or woman of Victorian Britain, say, who gave the “cut direct” to cads and bounders—refusing to speak with them or even acknowledge their existence—was helping to enforce the rules that make civil conversation possible.

(Let’s pause here to deal with a common though fatuous objection:  “But this can be abused!”  Of course it can. So can conversation, as we’ve seen, and so can everything else human. The mere fact that something can be abused doesn’t mean that it has no value when used well.)

Look at the things that courtesy excludes and you can see the boundaries of the commons. The list varies from time to time and place to place, but one of the central principles was expressed memorably by one of the old men who taught me the art of discussion in fraternal lodges:  “You criticize the idea, not the person.”  That means avoiding ad hominem attacks and requiring discussion to take place within the boundaries of ordinary politeness. It does not mean, however, tolerating people who violate those principles. The essence of a workable commons is that they are open only to those who abide by the rules that maintan them.

Notice that courtesy specifically focuses on the performative dimension of verbal expressions rather than the informative dimension.  It’s possible for two or more people to have a perfectly polite discussion about any subject under the sun, or over it for that matter, and it’s equally possible to turn a conversation about any subject you care to name into a brutal slanging match in which communication quickly becomes impossible. (Go to any unmoderated forum on the internet and lurk for a while if you doubt this.)  The rules of courtesy thus focus specifically on the conduct of communication rather than the content.

Notice also what happens when you pry apart conduct from content, and impose certain necessary restrictions on the performative aspect of verbal communication.  This makes it possible to broaden the range of content and include a much more extensive range of informative communication.  That’s necessary, in turn, because millennia of hard experience have shown that restricting the informative aspecct of communication is a really stupid idea.

That’s what freedom of speech and freedom of the press are about:  informative freedom, not performative freedom. History shows that the more freely people can choose the content of their verbal expressions, the more society flourishes according to every metric you care to measure.  Literature, the arts, the sciences, economic life, political freedom—all these and more are fostered by freedom of content and are shackled and diminished once the informative dimension is censored. Censorship leads to cultural and economic stagnation, and eventually to getting stomped by some other country that isn’t so burdened.

It’s easy to see why this should be so. Any person who insists on censoring someone else’s ideas is by that action admitting that their own ideas will not stand up to reasonable debate.  The current assault on free speech by wokester true believers is merely the latest in a long line of attempts to defend indefensible ideologies by silencing dissent. In every one of the cultural phenomena discussed above, reasonable debate is an essential factor—trust me, there’s as much of that in literature, for example, as there is in politics or the sciences; novels are very often arguments in a debate between authors, and it makes for good writing. Let reasonable debate happen and these things thrive. Choke it off and they wither.

Way to go, Victorians.

But what about those ideas that most people consider Bad?  Ahem. You can’t get rid of those by censoring them. That’s been tried, over and over again, and it always fails. What’s more, it quite often guarantees that the censored ideas become the cool new notions of the next fashionable counterculture. Decades of Victorian censorship of sex, for example, simply made the Decadent movement and the Sexual Revolution inevitable.  If today’s woke ideologues want to make racism, sexism, and posthumous  reverence for Donald Trump the foundation of the hot new avant-garde youth culture of the 2040s and 2050s, in other words, they’re going about it the right way.

That’s why freedom of speech has become widely recognized as an essential human right—but, please note, that freedom applies strictly to the informative dimension. The fact that you have the right to express an unpopular political opinion, if you happen to live in a society that gives you that right, doesn’t give you permission to barge into some stranger’s living room and insist that they listen to you rant.  It means that you have the right to express that opinion in whatever performative venues your society provides for that kind of discussion.  If you don’t have such a venue, unless you live in a totalitarian state, your society gives you options for creating such a venue and letting other people know about it—that’s how this blog came into being, for example.

Now of course the distinction I’ve drawn between the informative and performative aspects of verbal expressions is not one you’ll see or hear much of in today’s industrial societies. Quite the contrary, we’ve got people who insist that freedom of speech means that they have the right to make people sit and listen while they scream insults at them, and other people who insist that the fact that certain words and ideas can be used performatively in a way they find upsetting means that those words and ideas should be banned from every use irrespective of the performative context. There’s a history behind these absurdities, and a brief glance at that may be useful.

What happened is complex, but it can be outlined easily enough. After the Second World War, first in the United States and then elsewhere, the principles of courtesy were discarded in favor of “authenticity,” defined as expressing whatever you happened to feel or think irrespective of its impact on others. That gave certain advantages in the short term to those who adopted it, of course, and it made life difficult for those who didn’t, and who therefore had to bear their share of the costs of a degraded conversational space without benefiting from the process. In the long term, of course, the result was that a notional space that no one owned but everyone used was degraded nearly to the point of uselesness.

The current state of conversation in America.

Yes, what I’m saying is that verbal communication in our society has suffered a classic tragedy of the commons.

The useful thing about this way of thinking about what’s happened to speech and communication in recent decades is that it provides a fairly straightforward guide to fixing things. Once you realize that you’re looking at a commons, and that it’s either degraded by abuse or at risk of being degraded, it’s not hard to figure out what to do in response.  You just have to figure out how to create and enforce the necessary limits on at least some portion of the commons, and it will then begin to recover.  It really is as simple as that—and that’s part of what I’m trying to do with the comments page of this blog.

I have some suggestions for anyone who wants to try the same thing online, or in some other setting where courteous communication can be fostered. The first requirement is a way to throw out people who won’t abide by the house rules. If your commons can’t or won’t enforce its rules, those rules mean nothing. Nor is it the case, pace the notions of a lot of well-meaning people, that if you just treat people nicely they’ll reciprocate. (Tell that to people who’ve tried to placate their domestic abusers.) You need to make the rules clear, and when people violate them—and they will—you need to be able to chuck them out the door.

Second, familiarize yourself with the subtler forms of performative abuse.  The famous essay on how to disrupt online forums that’s been splashed over the internet is a good place to start, since there are so many paid influencers and rent-a-trolls on the internet these days, but you should also get to know the standard tricks of flamebaiters, concern trolls, entryists, and so on. Eric Berne’s useful text Games People Play is a good resource here.

Third, get familiar with the rhetoric that’s used to defend degradation of the conversational commons, and decide in advance how to respond to it. Moderating for conduct rather than content, for example, is denounced as “tone policing” by the woke these days.  If somebody uses that phrase, you can be sure in advance that they’ll start bullying people the moment they think they can get away with it, so once you see the phrase you can be ready for abusive behavior from the one who used it. Learn the other  standard catchphrases and thoughtstoppers, and you’ll have an easier time forestalling abusive behavior.

Fourth, enforce the rules fairly on all sides. Sometimes that takes gritted teeth. Do it anyway. That means permitting people to express viewpoints you detest, so long as they follow the rules of your forum; and it means deleting posts from people whose viewpoints you agree with, if they break the rules for conduct. I do both of those at least once every week.

Fifth, be willing to make mistakes. You’re no more perfect than your commenters. Don’t let that bother you. No one’s life will be blighted forever because you deleted a tirade they tried to post on your blog, or because you put through something that some busybody among your readers thinks you should have deleted. Relax, have fun, and know that for every denunciation you field, you can expect several dozen to thank-you notes from people who are delighted to have the chance to converse with others in a space where courtesy is the rule, unfashionable content is welcome, and the abusive conduct so common elsewhere online is stomped.

354 Comments

  1. Thanks John for the principled defense of free speech and the suggestions on how to preserve it online.

    I wonder sometimes if the progressive degradation of the free speech commons that I have observed throughout my 64 years has been more than just an accidental process and instead has been a malign program by those desiring dictatorial powers.

    It is almost as if someone cast an evil spell on our society.

  2. One of the additional impediments to a free and open conversation is the introduction of certain topical taboos by the current status quo . I felt like when I was in college back ,in the early 1980’s there were not really any topics that were off limits. There may have been some, that had been buried buried so deep that we did not think of them, but by and large we had no fear of bringing up thorny topics. But now (mostly in the service of preserving establishment narratives) there are many topics that are completly off limits, even if discussed politlely and in an informative way, perhaps even on this blog. For instance discussion of alternate versions of the attacks on the World Trade Centers, or Alternate versions of the “Capital Insurrection” or speculation on how current trends in the mating behaviour of humans and the relative survival of their offspring will affect future gene pools and the success of the species ( third rail right). The problem is the number of taboo subjects is being enlarged at a frightening rate.

  3. Not sure if it’s OK to promote a book here, but I found Nick Hayes’ Book of Trespass an informative and very enjoyable read. It deals with the commons at some length. I like the idea of a BBQ, but why not invite the offending family – their punishment is to sacrifice the cow they shouldn’t have had; surely the BBQ is an ideal time to start from scratch and reinstate them? How long should you exclude people?

  4. Well, this post deserves a big THANK YOU JMG! The forgotten simplicity of which you wrote about needs to be defended to the end, and you do it admirably. Cant stop grinning, you made my week.

  5. JMG,
    As my own blog is developing I am still working out how to manage the commons. Without much traffic yet I don’t attract trolls but who knows what the future may bring as I clip clop across more internet bridges. Conduct versus content boils it down nicely.

    In the physical realms:
    A group of readers, including myself, from this blog have started gathering weekly at a local coffee shop. Our afternoon conversations are the highlight of my week as we cover a range of topics both occult and non-occult. Part of what makes it work so wonderfully is we engage with courtesy and respect.

  6. This is very well said and timely.

    Just a few notes on the history of it all …

    I saw the beginning of this abuse of the verbal commons when I was living in Berkeley in the 1950s and early 1960s. It began almost exactly when the earliest Boomers turned 18 and started college–in Berkeley this mostly meant entering the University of California.

    (The University fo California offered free tuition to all state residents in those days, and every qualified applicant was admitted. Without that gift of the state, neither my wife nor I would ever have been able to attend college.)

    This new abuse of discourse seemed to be most strongly advocated, at least in Berkeley, by a slightly older cadre of local radicals. Those whom I knew personally were almost entirely the children of actual members, or former members, of the Communist Party USA, which was still quite popular then throughout most of the San Francisco Bay area. As I became older and more knowledgeable about the Soviet Union, I saw that this program of theirs derived from Soviet theories of how to educate children so as to create the “New Man,” a person whose every thought, word and deed would have been trained by relentless censorship and criticism to further the creation of an eventual Communist “utopia.”

    However, by the end of the ’60s this style of discourse had escaped its original environment, and had come to be used by young people everywhere on the political spectrum as am effective means of gaining power. At the same time, something similar had also been going on in European intellectual circles, and eventually some of these European writers became must-read authors in American academic circles as well.

    Many people a lot younger than I am now think that this sort of abuse of the verbal commons was imported from Europe a few decades ago, but it actually has older home-grown roots.

  7. Mr Greer,

    Through using this blog under your known rules, I feel as if I have actually myself gained skills in courtesy and self control in the real world, when I am communicating with other people face to face, including in my own marriage. So, thank you very much for that.

    I am thinking that your views on this are actually just as revolutionary, and as saving for our civilization, as some of your other well known views on how we cope with the Long Descent. I hope you manage to get them a much bigger audience in the future, as I think they potentially may actually have bigger implications than how we just communicate verbally.

  8. I agree with your overarching point. Nothing frustrates me more than people who think they have a right to be obnoxious and still be treated with respect and/or people who silence the opposition and still expect to be heard. But this creates another problem. When one group is abusive, whether that is in an interpersonal relationship or at the collective level (political correctness producing Donald Trump is as good an example here as any) sometimes the ideal response is to raise your voice and fight fire with fire. This, however, can just produce the very degradation that one is trying to avoid.

    I run into this a lot when talking to Trump haters. They fixate on his tone, mannerisms, and so forth. I really don’t want to defend those things because I would never want someone talking to myself like that, let alone my family. But on the other hand, I find it hard to believe that a soft spoken person could have bulldozed his way over the establishment and forced the woke movement to deal with the consequences of their own actions. So what do we do in that kind of predicament?

  9. Apart from a loud “hear, hear!” to that, you and your readers might like hear of a courtesy “trick” I like to use when I get into a discussion on line with someone who has diametrically opposed opinions to my own, but who doesn’t resort to verbal abuse when I fail to agree with the person’s argument. When the discussion seems to be over, I thank him or her for the conversation and the useful exchange of ideas. The reaction I then get is almost always unbelievably positive, my interlocutor expressing profound gratitude for being taken seriously. I have made online friends that way.

  10. John (et alia)–

    What are your thoughts regarding how one might effectively engage (or not engage) in fora where these rules are not enforced–particularly the digital platforms so prevalent today? Thinking back on my experience those many years ago now on PolitcalWire (roughly from late 2015 as the nomination battles began to heat up to mid-2017 when I finally deleted my Disqus account and walked away for the final time), there was a lot of discourtesy and abuse but also a handful of honest-to-goodness discussions of differences. (My fondest memory is the conversation I had with a self-titled humanist who was fixated on this grand political unification of humanity: I pointed out that the ideal that each of us held was anathema to the other and we were able to agree that we saw the ideal of Good as manifesting in opposing ways. It was a satisfying conversation, though ultimately we “agreed to disagree.”) Because the forum was widely used (which prevented comment-by-comment moderation due to sheer volume), I thought that I might be able to spread some good ideas. However, I ended up leaving because of the abuse and shady tactics employed by some.

    Managing one’s own forum gives one control over that portion of the commons, but how does one engage in fora where one doesn’t have that power? Does one do one’s best to ignore the onslaught or is the solution to simply not engage in those fora to begin with?

  11. If courteous, rational discourse in the English language is taken to be our “commons”, there must still be such a thing as the English language commonly understood, in which objective denotations are the referents, given priority over subjective connotations. But is this still possible?

    Of course language evolves over centuries – but if the changes create bewildering effects over the course of a single lifetime, one may suspect a con.

    Amusingly, I recently read that the use of the word “bastard” is acceptable only if it is NOT applied to somebody born out of wedlock!

    That’s just a quaint example. More serious is the issue I tried to air in May of last year in an open post, a contribution which was permitted by you, but to which nobody replied.

    Just in case there may be a response this time, I repeat the post:

    (May 2020 open post – ignored:)

    Just as it is thought to be worthwhile posthumously to clear the name of someone who’s been wrongfully executed, I feel inclined to do the same for a word that has wrongfully been pronounced bad.
    Preamble: the heroes of the civil rights movement and their predecessors, Martin Luther King and Ralph Bunche and WEB Du Bois, were not fools. They could not afford to be. They were highly intelligent men, strongly motivated to oppose anything demeaning that had been dished out to their people. Very far indeed from being gullible fools.
    Therefore, if there had been anything bad in the denotation of the word “Negro”, King et al. would not have failed to notice it. They would have denounced the word. But they did not denounce it; on the contrary they used it themselves to denote their own people. Therefore I conclude that the word is innocent. (And since it’s just the Spanish word for “black”, what do politically correct Spaniards do about it, anyway?)
    Of course it’s too late to resurrect the term. I myself am as vulnerable to brainwashing as anyone, and though my intellect tells me one thing, my emotions would play me false and make me feel irrationally guilty if I were to use the word “Negro” now, besides getting me denounced as a racist. So why bring up the subject at all?
    Two reasons. Firstly, intellectual curiosity. I would like some black person to explain why he/she doesn’t feel that the cumbersome (16 characters including the hyphen) and condescending term “African American” is not something to be resented. (I say “condescending” because of course nobody calls whites “European Americans”. And yet American blacks are almost all over two centuries away from Africa, whereas whites are actually likely to be chronogically closer to Europe.)
    Secondly, and more importantly, I feel that modern society is frighteningly riddled with a rapidly evolving list of similarly irrational verbal taboos. After the execution of “Negro”, what next? No word is safe. If this verbicidal syndrome is ever to be counteracted, it will happen by folks complaining about it…

  12. JMG
    You know, the fact that you really try hard to walk your talk is one of the main reasons I have a lot of respect for you (that and you talk about such cool stuff that I know so little about.) The way you conduct this blog makes it one of the most interesting and fun places on the internet (I know that is kind of a low bar these days, but I mean it as a real complement.)

    David Brin had this saying he use to live by “criticism is the only know antidote to error”. But I guess the reality of running face first into the limits to growth is causing him to double down on the worship of the God of Progress and reject criticism. I had to leave that community after he approved a post from a long time commentor who threated to shoot me for advocating strict limits to income and wealth. When I questioned him about it, he made it clear he was ok with it. That is when I realized I had lost all respect for him and that Contrary Brin (the name of the blog) had become Conventional Corporate Democrat Brin and there was no reason for me to be there anymore.

  13. Hello JMG,

    I wonder if your Asperger’s makes it easier for you to moderate so well and fairly. My Aspie son is very good about obeying social limits and rules and sticking to them where his more NT family members like to bend the rules based on our feelings and even what we perceive to be the feelings of others. He doesn’t think to involve his personal feelings in the evaluation, whereas we can’t seem to separate the two. Food for thought, anyway. Count me in the ranks of those appreciative of the courteous forum!

    -Erika

  14. JMG,
    I would like to acknowledge a new addition to the many reasons why I love this commons that you have provided here: I was unaware that “pace” is a preposition
    (“Nor is it the case, pace the notions of a lot of well-meaning people, that if you just treat people nicely they’ll reciprocate.”)

    I had to look it up in the dictionary after coming to the conclusion that you didn’t use the normal sense of the word. I consider myself somewhat well-read, but I can’t recall ever coming across this usage before.

    Trivial question for anyone in the commons: Can anyone give an example of this usage in some relatively-famous work of literature? I tried searching for the example provided by Merriam-Webster (a sentence by Philip Howard), but had no luck.

  15. Dear JMG,

    Thank you for this! Coming from a theatre family the distinction between performative and informative aspects of communication makes a great deal of intuitive sense. As for tragedy of the commons, I’ve seen so much of this in the countercultural spaces where I once spent so much time. Part of the reason I think that at least the countercultural spaces have this problem as they do is that they have universalizing but formless creeds and seek to recruit. This makes it very difficult within those scenes to have standards of courtesy because there’s such an unconscious emphasis on getting new people to join. I’ve begun to think that the universalizing ethos no longer works operatively, as evidenced not only by the ruined countercultural spaces but also ubiquity of rainbow flags flying from churches where I live. To universalize without a strongly defined and agreed upon doctrine seems to me equivalent to opening up to dilution and defeat.

    On a different point have you seen this: https://www.rt.com/op-ed/522886-milo-yiannopoulos-gay-clinic/ ? I was struck my the motto “Make America Hate Again,” or MAHA which of course has a meaning in Sanskrit. You mention a resurgence of hate as a return of the repressed, well, it already has at least one prophet.

  16. The comments section on this blog and the archdruid report is, and was, much better than most places on the internet. I’ve heard from a lot of viewpoints I don’t run into in daily life, and I’ve learned a lot from the people on here. I am incredibly glad it’s here, and thank you JMG for doing it.

    I had a couple of written personal attacks aimed at me on the Archdruid report… but as that suggests, I’ve been on here for many years. It’s really not surprising, especially given the emotionally-fraught subjects often discussed.

  17. Dear JMG,

    I have for some time been enjoying the irony of regarding ‘the market’ itself as a commons, that needs various protections against overgrazing. Sadly enough, the bare patches are starting to show.

    Regards

  18. ….”it’s equally possible to turn a conversation about any subject you care to name into a brutal slanging match in which communication quickly becomes impossible.”

    For an extreme example of this check out Jim Kunstler’s Cluster….Nation site. Go to the Archives section, and click on some of the old stuff; 15 or so years ago. Flame-wars? An understatement! Whole pages of all manner of insults, usually crude, occasionally creative, liberally involving streams of every cuss-word imaginable were frequent.

    It was to the extent that I read it for its sheer entertainment value for a bit, but then I just went away. Didn’t read Kunstler for several years, but when I did check back, I found that Kunstler had cleaned up the act; the blog was now quite readable.

    By the way, Kunstler’s blog has been around since ’96. 25 years. I had no idea it went back that far.

  19. Enjoy Cinco de Mayo!

    Pepe Le Pew dropped by in the pre-dawn, so at our house it’s Stinko de Mayo. Grumble.

  20. No sooner had I moved on from posting my previous comment than I came across this cartoon attempting to explain Carl Popper’s Paradox of Tolerance. (Synchronicity?)

    To my mind, though, this confuses the informative and performative dimensions you talk about. Seeing as how the cartoon has been widely used across the internet to justify removing posts with unwelcome viewpoints, that seems to be how many understand it.

  21. Nice post JMG! I especially liked the distinction you drew between informative and performative conversation. It crystalized what I had been wrestling with for some time now — my brother-in-law kills any conversation on topics on which we disagree by writing me off as a conspiracy theorist, which does indeed kill the conversation!

    I read Hardin’s essay a number of years ago and mulled over the concept that the economy could be viewed as a commons, with financialization as a form of abuse — a way to squeeze more cows onto the commons at everyone else’s expense. Alas, life was busy back then and I didn’t pursue the idea. Maybe now is a better time…

  22. JMG, Thank you for describing the distinction between informative and performative parts of speech, which I think might be of more use than the distinction between connotation and denotation.

    I wonder how you would respond to any of the following:

    The person who, when taxed with their rudeness, complains that the present day rules are made up by snobs and their purpose is to exclude “people like me”. The fingerbowl objection, OK, so I didn’t know what the !@#$%^ fingerbowl was for, so what?

    American hatred of formality,– (This may also exist in other countries; I wouldn’t know)–such as is expressed in the habit of giving out nicknames, whether the person so honored likes it or not, and the refusal to pronounce any word longer than two syllables.

    The genuine belief held by some folks I have known that what others call courtesy is merely a form of effete virtue signaling, hypocrisy in fact, and those who use it are really no better than the rest of us.

    Then there are those who regard deliberate rudeness, as well as the occasional tantrum, as useful tools which they are not about to give up.

    My questions are not at all meant as “pushback”; I understand and accept your right to manage your own blog as you see fit just as I insist on my rules being followed in my house.

  23. I haven’t read it all, but did want to comment on something that I am wondering about.

    Why do strangers feel the need to tell you what you can or cannot say on your own space? I have always thought that it was the height of rudeness to interrupt a conversation to dictate what can be said.

    I do find myself self-editing on social media lest some stranger decides to pile on. I have been emotionally (Unsuccessfully) blackmailed by woke peabrains trying to make a point for themselves. My humanity has been questioned by said peabrains, whom I have since cut off contact from.

    Anyway, I shall return after reading.

  24. Thank you so much for new and important perspectives! And now we lost our conversation as well, our last commons. I lived here for three years now, and still not have had a conversation with any of my neighbors, and probably never will. We lost all our commons, even conversation, and has neither anything to discuss, far less know how to discuss anything anymore. This goes for me as well, my last friend is my a7III.

  25. Well said. Vigilance in any human endeavor is critical to its success. Your analysis and clarity in this matter is much appreciated by those of good will seeking good conversation. If there is any hope for the future of this people it rests in a restoration of formal and enforceable consequences. Consequences for aberrant and unruly behavior seems now to be the only thing that will not be tolerated in this society and it is and has been a cancerous blight upon this nation.

  26. One problem is people aren’t open minded enough to engage with certain ideas performatively speaking. They just project their preconceptions at them. That’s why isn’t in mainstream informative dialogues. Attempted conversations about it might just jump to fear of evil demon worship or the like.

  27. I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

    That’s been my motto for so long I forgot where it came from. It’s been hard maintaining it lately. Definitely have encountered being shouted down by left leaning friends. Just mention ‘election fraud’ and heads explode, media supplied talking points roll out and any notion of conversation ends.

    There has got to be a better way and thank you for spelling it out. It’s why your blog is the only forum that I care to be a part of. Really can’t thank you enough.

  28. Thanks for this, extremely useful and thought provoking.

    May I ask, what do you make of recent decisions in one or two US companies to ban political discussions in their internal forums? It’s a standard rule in some circumstances but I’ve not seen it openly bought into play as an afterthought before.

  29. Ah, that delightful word, “courtesy”: just saying it brings to mind images of ladies in hoop skirts and gentlemen riding penny-farthings. It’s sad that such is the case, as if courtesy and civility have long ago been driven out by modern society into the wilderness in the expectation that they will be devoured by the ravenous beasts of “authenticity”…

    You’re definitely onto something re: conversation as a commons. I suspect that part of the problem is that the whole concept and practice of “commons” is now foreign to most modern, urban Westerners’ experience. We are so hyper-individualized that the whole idea of moderating one’s behaviour or tone of speech for the common good of society seems to be just plain weird, if not repugnant.

    I strongly suspect that the post WW2 media – especially “talk radio” and TV – have been particularly helpful in the banishment of courtesy. And, of course, academia… the aggressive push to censor “unprogressive” ideas in Canadian universities grew bad enough by the start of the ‘90s that I was only too glad to leave that lunatic asylum back then.

    The world sorely needs safe havens from the histrionics of toxic cancel culture and wokesterism – and Ecosophia is one of the few such havens that I have encountered online. Thank you, JMG, for providing a forum so that fuddy-duddies who hold such hopelessly antiquated concepts such as courtesy dear can have an enjoyable and informative conversation with each other!

  30. @ JMG “You criticize the idea, not the person.” Truly a pearl of wisdom. I’ve gotten in many a heated conversation, that didn’t turn into a physical altercation, because I stuck to this rule. I’ve noticed, too, that in one-on-one conversations, if one person sticks to this rule, even tacitly, the other person often will as well. The mileage does, of course, vary.
    You said recently that you are seeing signs that the current round wokester-ism may be about to get kicked to the curb by the corporate elite that actually run our country. What signs would you point to that indicate to you that wokeness is about to get tossed?

  31. Thanks for a good, clear exposition of the nature and history of the concept of the commons, and practical ways to maintain the health of a commons. Also, for pointing out what Garrett Hardin _really_ said, and Elinor Ostrom’s seminal work.

    Reading this led me to look at a blog I hadn’t visited for a while: On the Commons (http://www.onthecommons.org/about). In particular, a few relevant posts I found there:
    – The Rise and Fall of the Broadcasting Commons (http://www.onthecommons.org/magazine/rise-and-fall-broadcasting-commons)
    – Triumph of the Commons (http://www.onthecommons.org/magazine/triumph-commons)
    – Commons Strategies (http://www.onthecommons.org/magazine/commons-strategies)

  32. I want to touch on a debating rule, or a social principle, that I think dovetails nicely with the ‘control conduct and not content’ rule , and that is the principle of charity. The principle of charity states that we should interpret the argument of opponents (but here, let us substitute colleagues) in the strongest or most rational way possible. This helps combat the dominance of rhetoric and rhetoricians in courteous conversations, who might be skilled at wordplay but whose ideas lack substance. An easy of example of this principle in action would be not dismissing an argument out of hand because of a grammar or spelling mistake.

    Another attitude that is advisable for a community to cultivate is a distaste of ‘B******t’. In any forum where courtesy is observed, the other great threat to productive conversation is the existence of b******t arguments that are put forward specifically to cloud truths or to obscure facts. It’s never used in good faith, and is generally used by people who consider truths or objective reality to be irrelevant to their point of view. Thankfully, this community seems to be relatively immune to its effects.

    Finally, and related to the first two points, I believe it is vital to not confuse courtesy with faux intellectual detachment: courteous and valid arguments can and often do include emotion. This sounds obvious, I know, but I used to be the type of person who would automatically close my mental doors to any argument that contained any emotional content at all. It FELT like I was protecting myself from manipulation, but as with many ‘zero-tolerance’ type rules all it did was leave me open to an entirely different form of manipulation. I know others must have experienced this as well.

  33. Yes, thank you!

    Robert Gibson – your essay had a point, but my take on courtesy is that you call somebody what they want to be called, even if it chokes you.

    About the difference between kindness and courtesy – some of your old Victorian matriarchs could be exquisitely courteous and still let it be known they didn’t think much of you. Whereas some very kind people can be social klutzes of the first order. (“A lady never offends anybody unintentionally.”) But these are outlying cases, and in the best case, yes, there’s quite a bit of overlap.

    And for Mr./Ms/Colonel Rule Book, there’s always JMG’s quote from W of H 7: “…the rules which allow people to live together….” Or from an older source, paraphrased “the rules are made for people, and not people for the rules.”

  34. When I was growing up in Philadelphia a half century ago, I was socialized into an unusual culture. Freedom of speech was given extremely wide latitude. People might shrug their shoulders or just walk on, but generally even unusual perspectives were tolerated. The counterbalance was that when the performative aspect, as you write, was overwhelming, for instance when the speaker was obviously trying to make a fool out of you (and not performing street theater in the SF style), you were entitled to say, “You’re full of s***.” This was doubly impactful given the primary rule and because it was fun, and, being Philadelphia, both parties enjoyed it.

  35. Robert Gibson said, “I feel that modern society is frighteningly riddled with a rapidly evolving list of similarly irrational verbal taboos….No word is safe. If this verbicidal syndrome is ever to be counteracted, it will happen by folks complaining about it…”

    What you are talking about to some extent may be explained at least in part by the concept of the “euphemism cycle” or “euphemism treadmill”. The concept is pretty simple: over time, words that were one considered polite are re-defined as offensive, and a new word (or phrase) is introduced. For example, in addition to the Negro to Black to African-American example, we have the examples of mentally retarded to developmentally delayed; American Indian to Native American to Indigenous Peoples; minority to POC; crippled to handicapped to disabled to person with a disability; slave/slave owner to enslaved person/enslaver; and probably others as well.

    So it’s certainly not unique to your example.

    The more complex question, of course, is WHY do we have a euphemism treadmill? Is it just because a word that is perfectly innocent gets misused and acquires a bad association? (If so, why?) Or is there more too it? Is it possible it has to do with language policing to establish social lines to determine who’s “in the know” (and able to broadcast their woke virtue with the latest language) and who is woefully ignorant and uses the wrong old words (thereby showing how hopelessly out of touch they are)?

    I don’t know the answer. But it’s an interesting question. Especially since it seems to becoming increasingly prevalent in PMC circles.

    I also wonder if it might be related to all the focus on pronouns these days, where, among similar circles, not putting pronouns in your bio or at the bottom of your email is considered gauche, because you’re implying that people should just “know” your pronoun prefereance, and by extension, everyone else’s prounouns, and that’s considered insensitive.

  36. The commons is my absolutely favourite topic in all of political cultural social economy, and I am totally enjoying your exposition on the paired works of Hardin and Ostrom, which I downloaded recently and have been working my way through.

    This: “Once you realize that you’re looking at a commons, and that it’s either degraded by abuse or at risk of being degraded, it’s not hard to figure out what to do in response. You just have to figure out how to create and enforce the necessary limits on at least some portion of the commons, and it will then begin to recover” is going into my “Commons Stuff” notebook, and will bear much meditation and reflection.

    I would just add, that I loved the way Elinor Ostrum answered one of her critics (haven’t the reference to hand just now), to the effect (paraphrased)… “it’s as if no one imagines that these rational individuals maximising their self-interest might have a language in common, so as to just talk to each other…”

    Exactly. 🙂

  37. Raymond, the sense that America is under a malevolent spell is one that a lot of people in the occult scene have discussed, and not unreasonably. The thing I find most interesting about it is that the elite classes seem to be as strongly affected by it as anyone else.

    Yorkshire, people have been trying to make that same case since about a week after Hardin’s paper saw print. I find it very unconvincing, but of course your mileage may vary.

    Clay, the rapid increase in the number of taboo topics is a very common sign of a society on the brink of major crisis. The more frantically this is done, the more certain you can be that crunch time is getting very, very close.

    Vincent, thanks for this. As for excluding the family, the point is that they should not benefit from their abuse of the commons. Once the barbecue is over things return to normal.

    Thank Heavens, you’re most welcome.

    Will O, what a fine theme for meditation!

    Eric, when I first started blogging, it took me around a year to start attracting trolls, and there were just a few of them at first. I didn’t complain, as it gave me a way to refine my approach to them. I’m delighted to hear about the coffee shop meetings!

    Robert, many thanks for this. It makes perfect sense to me that Marxist radicals would have been involved in the genesis of the problem, given the general Marxist rejection of all humane values as bourgeois handwaving.

    Naomi, thank you. Gandhi’s comment about how you must be the change you want to see in the world has always struck me as an utterly necessary insight; prefigurative politics — living the world of the future you hope to create — is a potent tool too rarely utilized at present.

    Stephen, when you fight fire with fire, you end up burning down everything. If Trump had been courteous but inflexible, I think he would have accomplished much more than he did.

    Hereward, that’s an excellent approach! Thank you for this.

    David BTL, I don’t know. I avoid fora that aren’t moderated for conduct, but then my Aspergers syndrome doesn’t make me a good role model for those less burdened.

    Robert, so noted. Right now, as I see it, the increasingly draconian expansion of language taboos is a classic sign of a society in crisis. You know as well as I do, for example, that if things go on as they are now doing, the phrase “people of color” will be considered racist within a few years. Half a century ago “Negro” was promoted by the African-American community as a polite and acceptable word — cf. the United Negro College Fund, an important African-American charity that ran loads of TV ads in my youth. Now, as you’ve noted, it’s been erased. I suspect the underlying logic is to erase all words that can be used to describe any human difference at all.

    Jim, thank you! I’m sorry to hear that about Brin. His blog used to be occasionally interesting.

    Erika, maybe so! I know that Aspies tend to be recruited preferentially for some computer jobs, and also for some branches of espionage and intelligence analysis; maybe it’s time for people with Aspergers to start marketing themselves as blog moderators. 😉

    Eugene, the word is Latin, pace, meaning “peace to;” in context it means “despite the objections of.” It used to be fairly common in literate English, especially but not only from Britain.

    Violet, whenever a group becomes too fixated on gaining new members it’s on its way to failure. No, I hadn’t heard about Yiannopolous’s latest gyration. Makes me wonder if he read my essay Hate is the New Sex and decided to get there ahead of the rush…

    Pygmycory, you’re welcome and thank you for participating in the forum!

    Chuaquin, you’re most welcome.

    SMC, the market is unquestionably a commons! That’s an important point and one worth expanding on.

    Antoinetta, oh holy gods, yes. Jim’s comments page used to be one of the most festering slime pits on the internet — but yes, he got tired of it and slapped on moderation, and it’s been pretty good since then.

    Your Kittenship, the Mexican-American people I knew in southern Oregon used to call it Stinko de Drunko, so you’re halfway there. 😉

    Hereward, if you want to post an image link you’ve got to use the “img src” html command. Alternatively, post a link to the cartoon and I’ll put it up.

    Justin, thank you.

    Helix, it’s an excellent idea. By all means explore it.

    Mary, I would respond to all those claims in the same way. People who want to abuse a commons are always quick to come up with bogus arguments for why you’re being unfair if you stop them from abusing the commons, and the examples you cite are among those. My response is to roll my eyes and hit the delete button.

    Neptunesdolphins, it’s because they’re terrified of what you’re saying, or might say.

    Leveveg, that seems odd. I live in a mostly Catholic neighborhood; most of my neighbors disagree with me about a lot of things, but somehow we can talk just fine about the weather and other noncontroversial subjects.

  38. Dear Violet,

    my friend, Corky, he thinks Milo is messing with people and i have to agree with a huuuge smile. we think he’s trying to make being gay INTERESTING again.

    my late wild thinker, producer and cartoonist mentor, Kris Kovick, who’d produce these crazy readings and performances at Red Dora’s Bearded Lady cafe at 15th/Guerrero here in San Francisco in the ’90s, she’d post “GAY SHAME” posters on telephone poles even back THEN because she was a battle-scarred butch who didn’t want being gay to go Hollywood and be about marriage and kids in the suburbs.

    so Milo makes a lot of sense as a prankster who LIVES out his pranks (as i myself do on a daily basis more than ever now that i see how necessary Performative LIVING is now in a land of magic phone nodding out addiction that makes talking to people like talking to narcoleptics or fainting goats).

    i, myself, have recanted my liberal progressive-y-ism and my feminism and have already embraced my not-so-latent racism/misogyny around White Girls and Their Ways with deep state mind twisting tactics i myself cannot understand and i’m VERY half white-girl with all the bougie uppityness this double LEO can muster. (i’m actually talking about how white women’s feminism co-opted the Civil Rights struggle back in the day and they have re-hijacked everything now and made themselves The Victims while indulging in misandry and other assorted things mentioned here regarding tantrums killing free speech, and made everyone else their pets).

    i’m joking… but NOT REALLY. i’m a cartoonist and it’ll come out in my writing eventually so i don’t have the luxury of saying “only kidding” because I’M NOT. / plus after not writing for months i feel a new piece finally coming on.

    James (“Thor” on here) and i were talking about the lack of balance and feminization of damn near EVERYTHING and how even the bottom femmes here have always ruled from below and everyone knows it’s the masochists who have the safe words and can stop this mess at any time.

    but i’m a colored girl and i GET to say all this. theoretically. because as our dear Papa Greer has reminded us, it’s not about free speech or diversity of opinion anymore, and i’ve already been canceled early because it’s best to get your being canceled out of the way and enjoy the rush as i have.

    you – everyone – needs awhile to get over the shakes and shocks of expulsion— especially when you assumed or thought you never wanted IN, in the first place.

    the most radical friends i have now are middle aged white men. the same people everyone says ruined EVERYTHING. somehow they’re the only ones left who accept me as i am, and they’re the only ones left not signing cards, telling me my body isn’t my own and to take vaccines willy nilly.

    white guys are now officially The Underground to me because they’re the only ones not expecting me to meld with The Borg and they can’t even sit with their knees spread without losing bi-annual visits with their own children.

    full disclosure, Miss Violet: i started shtupping men again once being with girls seemed like political duty and children’s theatre. just when i started to love the cunnilingus that was supposed to make me fully love women and myself, then butches started cutting off their tits and top surgery and T were all the rage and THAT seemed not only misandrous and colonial to a point that i was truly Scared Straight and wanted to go back to the original macaroni and cheese, which all the sudden seemed… hella RADICAL.

    to even platonically love and defend white men openly and without reservation seems as bad ass as cunnilingus once did here in San Francisco’s wilder hey days.

    x

  39. That’s the weird thing. It’s just so easy to be polite. Even simply typing: “I respectfully disagree” is so simple… Even I can do it! But I guess that’s not really what dominating and disrupting a space is all about…

  40. Of of the things that helps drive this sort of intororance for opposing views and the desire to cancel them instead of logically refute them is the current style of trash “journalism” headlines. I see these on the horrible news feeds that google chrome puts across my screen that I have not been able to get rid of.. I think everyone is familier with them. They go something like ” Bad person A is called out by good person b for saying Donald Trump’s wife had good taste in Clothes, Or bad person A is smacked down by good person b for saying that George Washington ( the slaveholder) was a good president. These headline never read , “Person A adroitly defends his position on Immigration using logic.” They always illustrate a socially approved person shaming an unapproved person for expressing an unpopular idea or approval for anything related to something on the ” badity bad list”.. It is no wonder many young ( or weak minded ) people would see this as normal behaviour and take on that method of discourse in their discourse with others.

  41. Taylor, bullies always insist that they must not suffer any consequences for their actions, and ninety-nine times out of a hundred, when you hear someone insisting that they must not suffer any consequences for their actions, you’re looking at a bully. I suspect most people are beginning to grasp this again.

    Youngelephant, then you exclude them. If they’re not willing to behave like grownups, don’t treat them as grownups.

    JeffBKLYN, it’s a good motto. It comes, iirc, from a 19th century play about Voltaire, which put those words into his mouth; they’ve been claimed as his words tolerably often since then. Unfortunately it does now and again need to be bolstered with a firm respect for limits!

    Adwelly, I think it’s a fine idea. If a forum exists for a specific purpose, it’s quite reasonable to moderate for appropriateness to that purpose — that’s why I specify, for example, that comments to posts on this blog need to be relevant to the subject of the post. Internal forums in businesses are there to further the work of the business; since there are plenty of other places the employees can express their political views, no harm is done in asking them to stay on topic on the work forum.

    Ron, you’re most welcome. Out here in the wilderness, where we’ve parked our penny-farthing cycles for a bit to enjoy some tea and polite conversation, it’s just possible that a different future is being born. That happens…

    Ben, I’ve noticed a trickle of stories critical of woke ideas in mainstream media; there was also the news a little while back that Disney, having learned the lesson taught by a string of disastrous flops, has ordered the Star Wars and Marvel franchises de-wokified. Watch this space…

    Don, many thanks for these.

    Andrew, those are all valid points. Thank you.

    Patricia M and Ken, you’re both most welcome!

    Mark, that’s a classic way of handling it. That style of discourse has its own rules, as you’ve noted, and by following the rules, everyone benefits.

    Scotlyn, Ostrom was great with one-liners like that. It’s one of the many things I find admirable about her thought.

    Casey, exactly. It’s easy, so long as you want to do it. For that reason, those people who don’t do it generally don’t want to…

    Clay, that’s an excellent point. The media, as usual, kis trying to model behavior and attitudes that support the status quo.

  42. I feel another conversational commons is being abused closely related to the subject at hand, that of word definitions. Quasi-authorities, such as Webster’s, attempt to effect a rapid redefining of commonly used words in the interest of consolidating power. This was on blatant display during the Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court confirmation hearing, with the term “sexual preference”. Webster’s added the “considered offensive” note to the definition in less than 24hrs! The woman she replaced, Ruth Badger Ginsburg, had used that term less than three years prior with absolutely zero rebuke. I had a similar situation in my life regarding the word “mulatto”. I used it as a descriptive word for a person who was half white, half black, and got lambasted for it. I was taken aback and befuddled, as I did not consider it a pejoritive, at all, but merely a descriptor. In my research I did discover that Webster’s said it was “sometimes considered offensive”, and the most likely etemology of the word was problematic, comparing the mixed race person to a mule, OK, lesson learned. I still couldn’t shake the feeling that this word , which I thought was in common use, was only recently imbued with an offensive overtone. I went to the Wayback Machine internet archive to see if it had always carried that “sometimes considered offensive” note. Webster’s added that note quite recently, somewhere in the middle of 2017. I felt a certain relief to know that I wasn’t just being a clueless oaf, and had been caught in the power dynamic of the wokesters’ wordplay. It only added to the feeling of being gaslighted that has being waxing.

  43. I did use the img src code, but it didn’t work for some reason. Here it is again and the link as well, if it fails again.

    [edit: it didn’t come through but the link did, and so I put it in.]

  44. Points well said JMG. I do think that there are cultural and national differences even amongst democratic, liberal countries when there comes to this debate. The way say we in Ireland do our discourse and the UK is totally different and there has been little or no traction in the “Free Speech” vs “Woke Debate,” here. I think on the surface the Irish are more likely to nod their heads and say they agree with (for example) tax on beer, and then, when no one is looking, to slip the couple of euros under the counter for a cheap six pack when no one is looking. Maybe its just that we don’t trust our leaders as much as everywhere else but i find it very chaos magic like.

    For myself the free speech debate seems almost meaningless when you consider a plurality of champions for the “anti-woke” side are committed materialists. Seemed somewhat utilitarian from this side of the floor , then again I wonder if they really knew what was possessing them to move in that direction? What “ideas” are at war I wonder.

    Anyway, maith thú,

    Adrian.

  45. JM, I always uphold your blogs as simply the best run online of which I know, to which anyone should turn if they want a practical lesson on how to do internet discussions meticulously well, with maximum usefulness to readers/discussants, and minimum offensiveness encountered; nil, in fact.

    I point out that the blogs work so outstandingly well as sources of knowledge and priceless insights, firstly because JMG is such an outstanding analyst, clear-seer and polymath; but secondly because he’s inflexible about insisting on unfailing courtesy in all posts, and on strictly non-profane language; and because he’s ruthless about instant deletion of anyone who tries it on against these rules. All pre-moderated, nothing offensive – performatively – ever permitted; though offensive-to-some informatives are always welcome. That sort of savvy definition of free speech.

    Whilst I was helping to set up a new forum recently, we agreed to precisely similar rules and moderation. The result is that we too cover a lot of interesting and highly various viewpoints, gain a lot of useful insights, and never have slanging ad-homs, even when there are long drawn out stichomythic discussions where people present distinctly disagreeing viewpoints, yet remain cordial and mutually respectful. It makes for a wonderful oasis of grown-up, friendly discussion.

    Other fora which I visit, which also run strict free-speech commitments, nevertheless are more abrasive and often annoying experiences precisely because they don’t disentangle the informative and performative elements, and insist, as they should, that the former category is absolutely free, whereas the latter is subject to ruthlessly-enforced and invariable courtesy rules.

    That distinction is the key, I think. Diolch yn fawr am hyn, Sion!

  46. Excellent subject this week. The problem I experience on forums isn’t usuallly outright discourtesy but rather commenters entering the commons with a closed mind. I sometimes engage in forums dealing with abortion, and I’m apt to take either side in the discussion. Sometimes I encounter what I call “end of” statements, such as ” Abortion is murder and that’s all there is to it”, or “It’s the woman’s choice. End of conversation.” It makes me wonder why people enter the commons if they can’t bear exposure to an alternative POV. One time I suggested, just possibly, that some people might feel that if you voluntarily engaged in activity that might result the creation of a human life it might not be unreasonable to think you have some responsibilty towards that life. I was thanked for Mansplaining. There are of course tens of millions of women, here in the US, who would agree with the statement, so it was hardly mainsplaining. It effectively ended the discussion. I get the feeling most people have never been taught to entertain any POV they disagree with. They won’t, and in fact cannot, give any alternate POV a fair hearing. I think that’s one reason for the discourtesy that’s so frequent – people just don’t know how else to respond. We live in a culture in which many people can’t discuss anything deeper than a fb meme.

  47. “I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    I always heard this credited to Patrick Henry, one of the American Revolutionary War leaders.

    Antoinetta III

    PS. I’ve always have the “Save my name, E-mail etc. box checked off, but for some reason, this has never happened. Any idea if there is anything to be done about this?

    AIII

  48. @Scotlyn – Yes! Or I might label mine “Commons Sense.”

    @JMG re: the cows on the commons. Alas, the medieval peasants would have been more concerned with milk and cheese than with BBQ, but the principle still holds. I should dig out a list of sources on the English medieval village as a (largely) self-governing commons in many places, especially in later times. Then the Tudors freed up a lot of wealth by throwing all that in the dumpster.

    @Ron M – there was a fair modicum of common courtesy even in the 1940s and 1950s, a period I consider to have ended at the convenient landmark of the Kennedy Assassination. After which we were decidedly in the 1960s, you could smell it in the air.

    And another word on courtesy =! kindness: from the Bard of Avon, “…can smile and smile and be a villain.” Or, out of the words he put in the mouth of a much-maligned monarch, “I can smile, and murder while I smile…..”

  49. Thank you for this. We are on the same wavelength, I think. At the beginning of this year, I was considering quitting Facebook altogether because it is a degraded commons. I’m glad I didn’t, because I ended up starting a pro-free face group called Speakeasy Illinois which mushroomed to over 2000 people by May. Thinking of Ecosophia, I set it up with strict limits: no politics, no profanity, and a tight and narrow focus on joyfully promoting bare face restaurants, classes, Little Leagues, fitness, lessons, etc.

    Just yesterday a group member decided to get all butthurt because a restaurant she likes was reported as being a bunch of mask-enforcer jerkwads. The group member, who I will call Jenny, demanded that I take down the original post dissing the restaurant and said that if it was her restaurant she would sue. Keep in mind Speakeasy Illinois is a private Facebook group that can only be entered or seen with Admin approval. When I unceremoniously removed Jenny from the group and blocked her, she sent me a private message saying how she was going to “tell the restaurant about me”. I then blocked her on Facebook.

    All is well that ends well. As a businesswoman, I can assure you that 5% of the clients cause 95% of the problems. Get rid of those problem clients and the results are predictably good. The Speakeasy group has given many people the courage to take their masks off and to do it in a positive way: by patronizing mask-free establishments and ignoring or boycotting mask-forcing establishments instead of provoking them or trying to politically attack them. On Tuesday night, a group member brought 70 people into a local, independently-owned bar for a shindig. I could not be there but I was proud to say it happened because of me and my group. We are making a whole new economy for patriots and leaving the fearful to their shutdowns, experimental gene therapies, and distancing. As my mother taught me, there’s no need to be rude, so we aren’t.

  50. Re: critique of Tragedy of the Commons

    Reading that piece my impression was that it wasn’t exactly critiquing the idea of a tragedy of the commons per se (although it did use that language), but rather critiquing the idea that this tragedy is somehow intrinsic to human nature and can be resolved through privatization of the commons. In reality, of course, many human cultures have done a very good job of managing the commons and it is the more modern breakdown of social cohesion and rise of individualistic or capitalistic values which has resulted in the tragedy.

    Also, I’m thinking about your prohibition on profanity in this context, which on the surface would appear to be censorship of content and is also out of sync with most “alternative” sites/blogs which have no such prohibition. But thinking about it more, profanity serves primarily, perhaps solely, to insert emotion into conversation. And so by prohibiting it, you are tipping the dice in favor of courtesy, and also ensuring that anyone who wants to circumvent the rule (e.g. “frack”) does so somewhat humorously, thereby blunting/tempering their performative intent.

  51. I wanted to join the chorus of thanking you for moderating this space. I’ve learned quite a bit over the years about topics I never would have even heard about in corporate media or by googling thru the commenters – books to read, occult practices, oil drilling, solar panels, electric cards, growing food, and just the data points of life in various places.

    I’m guessing the distaste of social media is it leans on the performative more than the informative? To get those likes and shares one must post something extraordinary and emotion baiting?

  52. Dear JMG, you know I wondered the same thing regarding if Mr. Yiannopoulos had read your essay.

    Dear Erika Lopez, I wouldn’t be surprised if your friend Corky were right as regarding Mr. Yiannopoulos. Frankly, I find him appalling: I got a copy of his book for free and read until he declaimed, seemingly out of nowhere, “I’m a Ken doll from the underworld!” At that I point I confess that I slammed the book shut and didn’t return. I’m easy to freak because at the end of the day I’m not that nasty and extremely vanilla.

    Personally I miss old-time gay culture greatly. A boyfriend of mine many years ago showed me in San Francisco that park where men would enter into conjugal relations behind a dumpster. Personally, I found that sort of cruising inspiring in its recklessness. With the advent of ‘queer’ identity suddenly cruising ended, and I basically stopped having a sex life. Whoever benefits from “queer” culture, it isn’t me.

    That’s an interesting point about white women’s feminism coopting the Civil Rights. Personally, I’m still rather sympathetic to the old intersectional discourse and found reading bell hooks helpful, and also Franz Fanon. Frankly I still actually think in terms of a lot of intersectional and post-colonial terms. I find these disciplines helpful in becoming more sympathetic to other people’s subjective experiences.

    I can sympathize with the political duty/children’s theatre, that’s a funny way of putting it! That is why I find “queer” so gross. I may be vanilla, but still, I’m also trad enough to consider erotic love a devotional act to personal deities, and that means to me — with due ethical continence &c —- that letting the spirit take me as a form of divine madness is my preferred method of relating to another person erotically. If someone starts expounding on queer theory between kisses and talking to me about their gender problems I’m going to start to think very quickly I really _would_ rather spend the evening taking a bath and reading a book rather than putting up with a lot of stilted talk and emotional entanglements. More than once I’ve stopped encounters of this sort to read a book in my sleeping bag.

    That’s part of why I always talk about my few months in Argentina with the deadly seriousness of the religious pilgrim: beautiful people on the streets more than once grabbed me and started making out with me briefly and then I never saw them again. It was glorious, and so different than “queer” culture. If I can’t approach a sexual relationship with a sense of participation in a divine encounter — if the act is not itself an offering to Eros — than it becomes extremely unpleasant to me. Winged Desire I adore shamelessly, but the sort of uninspiring games played in “queer” culture — not so much. While I’m not quite scared straight by the sorts of things you describe and I’ve seen too much of as well, I’ve been scared enough to become quite a bit more trad because nowadays at least it seems clear that trad is rad.

    xo

  53. Thank you. Your blog is one of the very few where I read the comments and feel comfortable commenting myself.

    The vast majority of the time, I don’t go near comments.

    The level of conversation is so wonderful here. I learn so much and I think so much better.

    Thank you, everyone.

  54. With regards to Disney taking action to rid the Star Wars and Marvel franchises of the bacillus of Wokesterism, check out this article:

    https://cosmicbook.news/disney-purging-star-wars-marvel-woke-agenda

    There are rumors that Disney may be planning to reboot the Star Wars franchise by redefining the recent Wokester editions as being from a non-canon alternate timeline:

    https://www.deseret.com/entertainment/2020/6/30/21308397/star-wars-rumor-reset-sequel-trilogy-last-jedi-rise-of-skywalker

    https://boundingintocomics.com/2020/06/24/new-rumor-details-how-lucasfilm-plans-to-save-star-wars/

    And some of you may remember Gina Carano, who was famously fired from Disney’s current Star Wars TV series after she ran afoul of the “social justice” lynch mob. Well, it appears Carano might have the last laugh after all…

    https://www.bizpacreview.com/2021/05/05/uncancelled-is-disney-about-to-let-gina-carano-return-to-the-mandalorian-1069633/

    “If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.” – Sun Tzu

  55. Excellent essay.

    SlateStarCodex had a tactic for its comment moderation that I always appreciated: Scott installed a banned word list into his comment filter that banned not only racial slurs but names and terms that tended to incite passions as soon as they were mentioned. So the commentariat there had to find ways to talk around the banned phrases; my favorite circumlocation was probably the “ant people” (put “sexually-viable worker ant” in your favorite search engine). Along with Scott also enforcing a “true, kind, necessary; pick at least two” comment policy, it seemed to work pretty well.

    I think the word ban was inspired by the Rationalist practice of tabooing ambiguous words to make people say exactly what they mean, which to my mind is one of the better ideas that community ever came up with.

    (OK, there was also the “reign of terror” policy, but mostly that seemed to amount to your fifth point above: making no apologies for his moderation decisions.)

  56. Thank you so much for this. I learned the rules of courteous debate and discussion in the Debating Society at my school (I’m in the UK and it was a public, which here means private fee paying school). You always played the ball and not the man. These rules stood me in good stead through my professional life as a teacher but now I really fear joining online discussions because of the trends you have discussed in this piece. Your blog is an oasis of calm in this increasingly dystopian world and I thank you heartily from this side of the pond.

  57. @Yorkshire, JMG,

    I read the article that Yorkshire posted, and I don’t think it actually disagrees, in any substantial way, with the conclusions reached by our host in today’s article. (Though the ad hominem attacks against Garrett Hardin are certainly not commendable).

    To me, it looks like most of the people who talk about the Tragedy of the Commons are talking past each other. Basically, there is one group of people who insist that Hardin, and the other people who expanded on his work, have proven that it’s impossible to have a commons that doesn’t get abused, and thus, all resources should be privatized. Then other people come along and say that actually, this isn’t true, and the Tragedy of the Commons is a myth, because in real life, it is possible for a community to make and enforce rules that protect the commons from abuse.

    Which is a perfectly valid argument if the guy talking about the “Tragedy of the Commons” is treating said tragedy as an inevitability to which the only alternative is to go all-in with privatization. If, however, “Tragedy of the Commons” means the avoidable consequences of failing to police the commons, then the concept is perfectly sound.

    So in the end, I think that our host, and the author of what Yorkshire shared, are making largely identical points about how it’s possible for a community to maintain a commons. The fact that one of those authors thinks he is explaining and defending the concept of the Tragedy of the Commons, while the other thinks he is debunking it, is – ironically enough – just another effect of the misuse of the conversational commons! 😉

  58. The actual historical commons, of course, were not destroyed by “the tragedy of the commons” but by outside forces: enclosure though law and force, driven by nobles and parliament. It turns out that the commons style of property management is actually one of the very very best for long term stable management of common resources: most of the British commons lasted for hundreds of years, some for over a thousand.

    Our ancestors were not stupid people and agricultural civilization, for all its problems (and I’m of the “agriculture was a curse” school) had been around for millennia, and had often found fairly stable solution sets. Industrial civilization is recent and almost completely unable to manage our various commons, while having destroyed most of the institutions, like the Commons, which were successful at doing so.

    As for commenting as commons, I generally agree, though of course, not always with specific decisions. But so what? Still one of the better places to have a conversation on the internet, and I say that as someone whose politics are quite left wing and occasionally in radical opposition to JMG’s.

    One main thing about comment moderation is it does take a fair bit of work, and I’ve been in charge of some very large blogs. These days I mostly don’t bother, but it does add value for those who are willing to put in the work. Ironically, those who ask me to increase it never seem to understand that doing so would mean putting every comment into the approval queue, just as JMG does. ie. they never seem to understand that they, too, would be subject to the moderation.

  59. The famous essay to which you linked has a section, about Twenty-Five Rules of Disinformation, one of which refers to Straw Man tactics.
    I see this as having become quite more common in recent decades, and it was becoming quite more common in the prior few decades, according to syndicated columnist Wm. Pfaff, in his mid-1990s essay, see
    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1994-01-20/news/1994020037_1_killer-spirit-argument-television-and-press ,
    on an increased (MSM etc.) use of/ tolerance for Straw Men, from decades before.
    Alas, he referred to this, in terms of the sabotage of 2nd Order Agreement (on what the parties’ positions actually are), before it becomes possible to reach 1st Order Agreement (on the substantive diffs between the presented positions).

    When I see someone inflicting straw man, I may give the perp one chance to fess-up.
    But if it comes from a clear Wokester, I presume it to be a calculated deployment from the Wokester repertoire, and I wash my hands of that person ASAP.

  60. Not just etiquette, people used to dress up when they went outside, now you find people doing their grocery runs in their housecoat and houseshoes. Slobby, slovenly, both inside and out.

    It’s like Murica has collectively given up, isn’t it? Yeah, maybe Murica is under some sort of weird spell. It wouldn’t surprise me at all. You definitely get the sense that something just ain’t right here for sure.

    All I know is, I want to live somewhere that excites me, instead of making me want to unify my face and palm.

  61. Dear Her Kittenship,

    As I understand it, “maha” in Sanskrit means “great”; there are for some deities both mantras and mahamantras, which tend to be longer and, to my sensibility, more intense. Often Shiva is referred to as Mahadeva, or “Great God.” Likewise, as I understand it, there is the meditative state of Samadhi that one might attain and that of Mahasamadhi which is when some dies consciously leaves their body in meditation at the moment of death.

  62. > at least it seems clear that trad is rad

    And to me, the logical conclusion to that line of thinking is no girl will do but an Amish farmer’s daughter.

  63. Owen wrote

    Not just etiquette, people used to dress up when they went outside, now you find people doing their grocery runs in their housecoat and houseshoes. Slobby, slovenly, both inside and out.

    It’s like Murica has collectively given up, isn’t it? Yeah, maybe Murica is under some sort of weird spell. It wouldn’t surprise me at all. You definitely get the sense that something just ain’t right here for sure.

    Reminds me of an op-ed that appeared on an English-language Russian news site after Hillary Clinton Mini-Me Samantha Power made one of her more asinine presentations at the United Nations back in 2016.

    “US Slob-Dressed Ambassador Pathetically Excuses Murder in Syria”

    “Samantha Power is a typical hanger-on of the soon to be gone Obama administration.

    Like Obama himself, and democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, she is ostensibly a left-wing socialist, fighter for minority and women’s rights, and anti-war, i.e. a “progressive.”

    Yet for the last 4 years as ambassador to the UN, she has unwaveringly defended every violent act of aggression and destabilization abroad which her weak-willed boss Barack (which ironically means “peace”) signed off on. [“Barack” actually means “blessed” or “lightening” – thanks to a reader for the correction]

    She did what US representatives do best at the last meeting of the UN security council – obfuscate. But Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin wasn’t having it.

    How does murdering thousands of women and children in Libya, Syria, and Ukraine – or sponsoring those who do – advance your progressive cause of minority rights Samantha?

    How does destroying billions of dollars of infrastructure and the rule of law in these countries, advance “good governance” and “civil society?”

    How does it advance the rights of women and children to obliterate the economies of these nations through US-sponsored wars and coups, so millions of women cannot feed their children, have no hope for a living wage, have no hope for a pension in old age, and so thousands of their husbands and fathers are shot and blow to bits in combat?

    I personally witnessed the economic (and political) ruin of Ukraine which the United States backed in 2014. As CIA-stooge big mouth Saakashvili blurted out, it will take Ukraine 20 years to repair the damage done and even equal the economic level it had before Maidan – which already wasn’t that great.

    Samantha Power is a ludicrous joke at accomplishing anything except death, destruction, impoverishment and suffering. She is an abject failure at her own professed “progressive” goals. And like her boss and everyone else in the US government, she is a damn liar.

    The fact is, Barack Obama and his entire administration are and always were bought and paid for stooges of the financial establishment and military-industiral complex, the “neocons” – in other words, the “elite.” The liberal progressive veneer fools only democratic voters willing to be duped – which apparently is most of them.

    Hillary Clinton is Samantha Power on steroids. I tremble for the world with the United States under such “progressive” leadership.

    After 4 years, Power can be proud of only one distinction apart from being groped by the Ukrainian ambassador: turning the UN into the Woodstock festival – except with lies, threats of violence and bombs.

    Has anybody else ever come to a UN security council meeting dressed like a hippie?

    Trump says the US is no longer respected by the world. I wonder why.

    Power, Obama, Kerry, Rice, and the rest of their miserable band of blood-soaked hacks should immediately resign – even before Obama’s term expires – and turn themselves over to the International Criminal Court at the Hague. Hillary can join them.

    That would do far more to advance global human rights and “civil society” than they have managed to do in eight years of mass murder.”

    Original can be found here.

  64. @erikalopez – have you considered looking at women of a different age group and class than the ones you describe? I’m here to tell you they’re out here. My friend Pam, for instance, though she is a not older than you probably are. She’s been widowed for some time, and moved down here from Albuquerque to Florida to be near her children, but lives independently. That’s just for example, I’m not matchmaking.

    And I know what you mean about the butches. The local Unitarian minister is one of them, goes by “they”, so woke she’d pick at a pronouns gnat and swallow the camel of Florida’s massive economic inequality and poverty.

    Pat, she, hers, and very proud of it.

  65. About white women co-opting the Civil Rights movement and making it all about them – not the one I remember from the dim, dead past. Feminism of that sort came well after Selma etc. And, going back 100 years, Susan B. Anthony et. al. supported abolition, and when they asked for their rights, too, after the Civil War, were told “This is the Negroes’ hour.” i.e. “Wait your turn.” So, it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other. Myself, I’m for full legal rights for all people*, period, end of story.

    *Excluding the incarcerated and those mentally unable to handle their own affairs; and even those should have full *protection* under the law, and the latter have their rights restored and the “felon” term dropped after they have served their sentences. The latter being a hot issue in the last election here in Florida.

  66. Selkirk, yes, I’ve watched that as well. Wikipedia is also remarkably quick to edit their entries to suit the political convenience of the privileged.

    Hereward, Popper is partly correct. Tolerance is a commons, and extending tolerance to those who advocate the abolition of tolerance is thus equivalent to allowing abuse of the commons. There are at least two other factors to take into account, however. First of all, “intolerance” in this context means something more than “disagreement” — it’s precisely via the misuse of Popper’s principle that we now have full-on Stalinist censorship on social media, with anyone who disagrees with approved opinions on certain subjects being tarred as “intolerant” and thrown out of the echo chamber. Second, while intolerant ideas have no inherent right to the use of the commons of tolerance, people who hold such ideas can be allowed into the commons at the discretion of the other participants, or of the moderator, for a variety of valid reasons. I find, for example, that some people who hold extreme ideologies can be helped to rethink their ideas if they have the chance to talk with those who don’t hold those ideologies, and get past the ideologies to whatever issues might be motivating them. It certainly beats the bejesus out of ghettoizing them, and then being astonished when their ideas become central to the next counterculture…

    Adrian, oh, granted. That’s why I point out at intervals that I’m mostly talking about the United States, because that’s where I live and that’s the culture I know. Elsewhere? Different worlds…

    Rhisiart, thank you! I’m delighted to hear that my example has helped you set up another good conversational space online. Maybe the idea will spread.

    Christopher, I think you’re quite correct. Our current habits of culture and education are obsessed with the mistaken notion that there’s only one right answer for every question, and if you don’t spout it on command, you must be a bad person. That’s very convenient for the powerful, of course, who find it easy to have notions that benefit them treated as the one right answer! The question in my mind is how to reinject the concept of the limits of human understanding into collective consciousness…

    Antoinetta, I retain name, email address, and other identifying information for all posters. Nobody else gets to see them, but if somebody launches into death threats or what have you — and yes, that’s happened — I want to be able to doxx them to the authorities and the general public.

    Patricia M, well, of course! But the barbecue made a good image. 😉

    Kimberly, ah, yes. The butthurt we have with us always, and chucking them out the door when they try to get abusive is the most useful thing you can do.

    Mark L, my take — and of course I may be wrong — was that the critique was doing the usual trick of insisting (wrongly) that Hardin insisted that the tragedy of the commons was inescapable, and then lambasting him for something he didn’t claim. As for profanity, that’s one of the best examples of the performative function I can think of. Imagine what a profanity-laced diatribe would turn into if you replaced every expletive with its polite equivalent: “intercourse,” “manure,” and so on. Most people would start giggling because of the sheer absurdity of it. Thus by forcing people to use polite words instead, I require them to focus on the informative function.

    Denis, most of social media these days is performative, and crudely so. It’s rather reminiscent of a two-year-old dropping its pants and pooping on the carpet because Mommy’s paying attention to someone else.

    Violet, I hope once his book gets published, people bring that up. 😉

    Teresa, you’re welcome and thank you!

    Galen, thank you for this — I hadn’t followed up on the story, but it’s good to hear. I get the impression that the river in question is going to be full of metaphorical bodies in the months ahead.

    Slithy, I’m glad to hear this! I don’t have a specific set of banned words, other than profanity, but the “reign of terror” policy is pretty much mine as well. Anyone who wants to tell me how to run my blog is welcome to talk to the walls of my delete bin, because that’s where their post will end up. One of the few useful things I’ve ever borrowed from the Discworld novels was whatsisname’s slogan, “What part of ‘tyrant’ don’t you understand?”

    Stephen, you’re most welcome. “Play the ball and not the man” is a fine bit of phrasing, so thank you for that.

    Wesley, of course. I don’t think it’s accidental that they’re talking past each other, either — it’s a central strategy of political nondebate these days to misstate your opponent’s viewpoint and then abuse them for something they haven’t said. (People who do that to me on this blog don’t just get deleted, they get banned.)

    Ian, one thing that makes the tragedy of the commons so edgy is that the forces that destroyed the commons in history — the greed of landowners and the rich — have, as you’ve noted, turned around and destroyed their own commons.

    Mouse, that’s an extremely common gimmick, and yes, it’s one of those flashing red lights that tells you you’re dealing with someone who isn’t interested in a reasonable conversation.

    Karen, thank you!

    Owen, maybe I grew up on way too much bad fantasy, but the thought of living in a place under a malign enchantment, against which I can fight, seems very exciting to me!

  67. @ Helix, on ” my brother-in-law kills any conversation on topics on which we disagree by writing me off as a conspiracy theorist.”:

    As with my approach to straw man (presented above), so with other such bids to distract from the subject at hand:
    When anyone (esp. a stranger), tries to distract me in any way, w/o this bid being prefaced, by a friendly expression of *admitting* to having presented a distraction (e.g. “parenthetically”), I may give the perp one chance to fess-up, or I may just cut bait.

  68. Thank you for sharing your reasoning behind not allowing profanity in comments. My father would say similar things about profanity in conversation long before the internet was born.

    It took some time to understand his point.

    Eventually, in my late 20s or early 30s I noticed I didn’t like how profanity felt when I used it so stopped for quite a while. It had become a habit and even somehow energy depleting when done indiscriminately. After starting to use it again I noticed an increased sensitivity to language in general!

  69. Thanks for this. I’ve always considered myself a free speech extremist, but I suppose, using your terminology, that is in the “informative” function of speech. I’ve never had a problem hearing or reading ideas with which I strongly disagree, when they’re presented in a calm and courteous manner, but if someone attacks me personally for having a different opinion, it really ticks me off. So, I find the distinction between informative and performative very helpful.

    This distinction also helps to explain why I’ve always instinctively loathed the “dislike” buttons which are all the rage in social media. Even though it is non-textual and does not constitute explicit censorship, by publicly disliking a comment or post which is entirely courteous, simply because you disagree with the informational content, you are creating an anti-free speech environment in which people are discouraged from presenting taboo or politically incorrect ideas.

    I suppose you could argue that the dislike button would be useful if it simply allowed people to democratically punish discourteous speech, but I have never, ever seen a platform which then punishes people for abusing the dislike button by downvoting information they deem “wrongthink” or “hate-facts.” No matter what, if you want to have a civil platform, you will always need to have moderators, and the dislike-button, even if implemented correctly, would simply overburden the moderators by giving them more things to moderate. Ultimately, I think the problem with dislike-buttons is the same as the problem with like-buttons; it turns polite conversation into gambling, and people into addicts. Presenting information and sharing your viewpoint should not be the equivalent of pulling the lever on a slot machine.

    On that note, thank you very much, JMG, for not including like and dislike-buttons on this blog. And thank you for this post.

  70. Archdruid,

    Thank you for this post, it will help immensely as I try to set up my own conversational space online.

    I’m curious though to know your thoughts about private social media companies banning various kinds of speech off their platform. The tactic disproportionately hits people with views the contradict the mainstream narrative, left and right. As a private platform it doesn’t technically count as commons, right?

    Regards,

    Varun

  71. @JMG said, “Wesley, of course. I don’t think it’s accidental that they’re talking past each other, either — it’s a central strategy of political nondebate these days to misstate your opponent’s viewpoint and then abuse them for something they haven’t said.”

    I’m in agreement with you that this happens a lot, but I don’t think that it’s what is going on here. Rather, the dialectical chain is roughly as follows: In 1833, William Foster Lloyd published his pamphlet coining the phrase “Tragedy of the Commons” with the classic example of cattle grazing on a village commons. Then, in 1968, Garrett Hardin revived the popularity of this phrase with his article applying it to 20th century problems like overpopulation.

    Then, a bunch of free-market purists started bandying about the phrase “Tragedy of the Commons” and claiming (falsely) that Lloyd and Hardin had either asserted or proved that it is impossible to manage a collectively owned resource, and that because of the Tragedy of the Commons, everything that can possibly be privatized, should be. Finally, the author that Darkest Yorkshire cited is now picking apart flaws in these people’s argument in order to denounce the “Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons.”

    So nobody is actually distorting anyone else’s argument to make it easier to attack. Nonetheless, a distortion of meanings did indeed happen, at one point in the chain – it was when all those free marketeers distorted Lloyd and Hardin’s argument to support their claim that privatization is the only good way to manage resources. The final author in the chain – the one that Yorkshire cited – is now using the altered terminology, but is not himself distorting anything; he doesn’t have to, as the arguments of the privatize-everything people are weak enough to fall on their own.

  72. First, bravo! Second: ” I retain name, email address…” stay safe my friend. For me, I’ll reference Alvin Lee, “Can you pull me up to Jupiter when I’m all hung up on Mars.”

  73. Firstly, John, thank you for this post. It is a concept very dear to my own heart.
    A couple of things to add – I used to have a copy of Eric Berne’s book. It is long gone. No doubt nicked by some also long gone friend I cannot abuse about it.
    Vincent, as John also said, only exclude them till after the barbecue.
    I find that I increasingly self-censor as I age ever more quickly. This is maturity not some newly found trick to get on with others.
    If people are too rude and too unavoidable I tend to look them in the eye and go straight for the jugular with a soft voice and a pleasant look on my face.
    Justin you are too late for me with your good wishes for Thursday. It is nearly lunch time on Thursday here but yesterday was an OK day which I count as good. So thank you.

  74. @ Selkirk, JMG

    Re relabeling of words and gaslighting

    That was the tactic that induced me to depart Disqus and PoliticalWire the first time. I had gotten tangled up with one longtime sparring partner about the word “nationalism” which s/he considered inherently racist even though I was specifically discussing economics and foreign policy. We came to some agreement on the term “economic nationalism” to refer to what I was talking about (things like tariffs, national self-reliance, etc.), but a short time later s/he came roaring back in a later response to a post of mine in which I had used that term, accusing me of being racist all over again. Got me so mad, I deleted my account and walked away. (I kept reading the blog though, and eventually re-entered as a commenter, only to have another bad experience before leaving for good.)

    This is the only online forum I participate in. I can have meaningful exchanges with folks I don’t necessarily agree with on topics that are interesting and meaningful, something for which I am immensely grateful.

  75. @ JMG

    You have, through a lot of effort and patience, set up a civilized cul-de-sac on the interwebz! So thanks – it is appreciated.

    Talking with my son, anonymity on the net has had some serious effects, not the least of which are trolls and the drive-bys, where some person just tosses in a carefully designed comment to derail things – it’s good you delete those and keep your stream peaceful, mostly.

    It’s also refreshing to not let things get personal I sometimes drop by The Burning Platform, but rarely stay – the commentariat are extremely cliquish and often verbally abusive – and love to just pile on for the sake of piling on. That rarely happens here, and I tend to vote with my touchpad – I just scroll on bye-bye…

    I know it takes you some time, but just want you to know it is appreciated. Also, are the forbidden curse words the same as G.Carlin put forth?? LOL

    I’m off to stretch more fence, since progress has yet to deliver a solar powered force field for hog control.

  76. Just wanted to point out that the left wing aren’t the only culprits… I got a lovely example a while back when I said something about difficulties a transgendered family member had dealt with, and got someone telling me I was an abomination and should never have been born. Just for being related to someone who was trans!

  77. Dear MISS Patricia “Pat, she, hers, and very proud of it” Matthews:

    i’m the daughter of an ivy league 2nd wave feminist Quaker activist and grew up with the “show me” book of childish erections and close ups of parents screwing and the close up of the eventual birth–alongside “the feminine mystique,” “second sex,” and as a child was privy to the consciousness raising meetings by the fireplace while the fifth dimension “age of aquarious” and helen reddy’s “i am woman” played on modular speakers while my little sister and i ate potato chips on the fluffy white fur rug and i discovered how evil men were.

    i was there with the hairy armpits dr. bronner’s soap and people playing volleyball nude and original breasts and beautifully untouched doughy maternal stomachs that enabled us to recognize our own moms in the crowds.

    i lost my hymen to my mother and her drunken friend showing up at my pop’s apartment, and teaching me how to use tampons at age 10, with a mirror propped between my legs and my Puerto Rican father trying desperately to hold onto a splinter of male pride in the tsunami of existentially vengeful estrogen.

    so i was THERE, but as a half colored little girl taking the pro-choice protests a little too far by trashing the church across the street, causing my father trouble.

    Dear Miss Patricia– so, with nothing but respect–warrior to warrior–i dare say there may be a small chance that we may have some verrrrrry different perspectives about the objectives goals theories ideals fantasies insanities of White Women’s Feminism vs. the outcomes realities and consequences–intended or not.

    i cannot square ANY of the left’s current ideals with the ones of the past that were supposedly about fighting for the underdog.

    and as i see it, white guys are the underdogs now, and my role is first and foremost as a CARTOONIST AND ARTIST and BORICUA (fighter!) is to PUNCH UP and not DOWN.

    and Dear Miss Patricia, i’ve been USED by tooooo many white lesbian feminists, and i’ve seen them exploit others willy nilly because they CAN. i’m not convinced this feminism thing was such a good idea for me to be championing.

    feminism got to feeling like fighting for the south during the civil war. heck, just being my own mother’s daughter was about being HER support team. and it’s a class thing. if my own mom cannot truly transcend her own upbringing and social status and all the hubris and naivte that comes with that, then how can regular white women without a husband and a couple of colored babies in tow even get to anything beyond a remedial level?

    when i see how white women love their MEN, i fold. i’m out. we cannot argue its success when i see the pain of men of ALL ages—white or any color.

    women won but haven’t a clue how many singles and fives to carry for the tips.

    i tried sluttery, i tried careerism, i tried convincing myself Feminism was worth it.

    and i died when i realized i’d been bamboozled and we were taught to kill our menstrual cycles for the CONVENIENCE and shout abortions before showing up for online dates on all fours, while STILL expecting to be cuddled afterwards and have the door held open for us.

    nah. i’m out, Dear Miss Patricia.

    i want something ELSE. i came up on the underside of Feminism and the broken promises of sisters eating each other out for enlightenment, but it all just turned into hackneyed replays of leave it to beaver lesbian bed death and couples therapists making bank on the fallout.

    nah. my wayward runaway childhood was hotter and STILL holds more promise as i still figure out what i learned even and especially now.

    ———————-

    and thanks even if you WERE trying to set me up with that woman elsewhere. no more long distance anythings for me. all of my love and energy is going back into giving my freaky affections to this town. it was half dead before covid and now it’s bleeding under a mattress, but san francisco is gorgeous even half dead. heroin chic town you know. (smile)

    while i love my group of magical white guy brothers, my sexual energy is directed at my Brothers on the low in a kinda 5D way i only hint at because it IS very public but it’s got a private element if you’re in on it.

    i left them at a young age because i didn’t wanna deal with the hassle of loving a black man. it’s a lot of work and for good reasons. but if you can twist yourself out of your white feminist hubris arrogance expectations and HUMBLE yourself to a man, they fall BENEATH YOU.

    who knew? Dear Miss Patricia, whatever i’ve stumbled upon feels ancient archaic and WAAAAAY more interesting fun and powerful and transcendent but beneficial for BOTH and ALL involved (outer rings!) because it’s why people used to kiss me and freak out.

    i have a different VISION than white women’s feminism as i’ve been at its business end and i’m its BABY. but we all are, aren’t we? it didn’t work, Miss Patricia. who’s free? who’s making money? who’s cleaning whose toilets?

    it just made a higher class of over-educated black nannies for dual income white lesbian feminists who live in Bernal Hill.

    I’VE SEEN THE REALITY. it’s time for reality and no more misty ivy league fantasies. they don’t DO anything to be running the world anymore.

    it’s over. the jig is up. for ALL of us. even and especially me because forget feminism communism socialism racism or ANY ism— i myself was wrong about EVERYTHING i assumed or even thought i “knew” in the world and my own life so i’m not gonna spout anymore ideals about anyone ELSE, and how they oughta live, without working on my own world here on my block.

    with much respect and gratitude for you even responding directly to me instead of sideways insinuations i’ll invariably MISS–

    sincerely and respectfully yours-

    erika lopez

  78. Dear JMG,

    This articulate and sensible post has given me an opportunity to say hello and thank you for your fascinating posts and some of your commenters for their contributions. That courtesy has been tossed aside too readily for the lauded “authenticity” (yet another useful word rendered useless by this new appropriation) has been long apparent but I couldn’t fathom why it has gained such currency, and your essay has shed the light I needed. With regard to the fashionability of woke-ness, I totally concur with the aphorisms expressed above (with another!) that the pendulum always swings back.

  79. I’ve been around the internet, for quit awhile. It took me some time, but I finally realized: “I do not have to respond / react to everything I see on the net.” (Lew, ™) 🙂 . Which is, I suppose, a riff / variation on “Do not feed the trolls.” It took me awhile, but I got there. Lew

  80. Eric, the thing that got me asking hard questions about profanity was close study of prose writing. It became very clear that profanity was quite literally the most hackneyed language in existence, and in those writers that made much use of it, the hackneyed quality pervaded their prose. Profanity is easy and dull; effective communication is much harder, but worth the effort.

    Virgil, that makes a great deal of sense to me. As I see it, once personal attacks come into play, communication has ceased. As for the dislike button, agreed — whether people like a piece of writing is irrelevant unless they’re being asked to pay for it.

    Varun, it depends on whether the social media company has engaged in monopolistic behavior. If it’s a de facto monopoly, it’s a de facto public space, and should be subject to free speech safeguards. We used to have a thing called the Fairness Doctrine in the US, which required mass media to give equal time to a range of different views; I’d like to see the same thing brought back, and enforced on the social media firms.

    Wesley, fair enough.

    Coboarts, thank you. I’ve only received one death threat so far, and informed the relevant persons about it; end of problem.

    JillN, you’re most welcome. Berne’s book is readily available on the used book market, btw!

    David BTL, it’s a common rhetorical gimmick. I just deleted a troll who tried to post two long screeds here redefining what I and another commenter said — inevitably, to make it fit into the Procrustean bed of woke ideology.

    Oilman2, thank you. Carlin’s list is a good start, but I generally ban any word that would upset your maiden aunt who goes to church every single Sunday, even when it snows.

    Pygmycory, of course not! I also field hate mail from both sides — I still treasure the rants I fielded from the neo-Nazi back in the Archdruid Report days who convinced himself that I had to be a Jew.

    Pipistrello, hello and you’re most welcome.

    Lew, I was just about to post a link to the cartoon Sgage references below…

    Sgage, thank you. Talk about synchronicity!

  81. It is funny but I have never heard the word “doxx” till last night on TV. So here I was able to understand it on post this today.

  82. The Karl Popper cartoon gave me a giant Ah Hah moment. This cartoon must be the only history lesson the black clad members of Antifa have ever digested. They are the scourge of my city and seem to interpret Popper’s lesson to mean that any group which has ideas you disagree with needs to be attacked with firebombs, sticks and paint milkshakes. They seem to personify the old adage that you become what you hate. One poor guy ( gay young Asian dude) wrote a book about them and faced such extreme death threats he had to leave the country and move to England. Attempting a dumbed down binary approach to fighting intolerance and you get the opposite.

  83. Thanks for that excellent summary of your extensive experience of what works in moderating online communication. One of the great failures of our age was the failure to see that you couldn’t successfully change the communication system as fast as the internet tried to change it. Each communication commons develops by trial and error a set of mechanisms for enforcing courtesy. Some are inevitably more successful than others. But the web and then social media communication explosions developed too fast to develop effective mechanisms to maintain civility.

  84. I read an essay recently which touches on some of the same points as this one. In it, the author grapples with the temptation of being uncivil towards people whose beliefs or actions one views as immoral, and with the possibility of there being such a thing as “righteous incivility”. She concludes that, despite how tempting it may be to be uncivil, and how little one seems to gain from being civil. Even so, she still believes in the idea of “righteous incivility” might be valid at times, though she cautions against using the idea to justify whatever act of incivility one feels tempted to engage in. She writes:

    “My mixed motivations make me distrust my ‘righteously uncivil’ impulses. One need not be puritanical or precious about what can motivate moral action to be suspicious when the ‘righteous’ brings pleasure and relief or lets me lash and thrash where I can’t like. Episodic self-deception will likely always be a risk when I am rude – I sometimes know better what I do only once I’ve done it – but I lately find myself prey to self-deception of a more systematic sort. I am encouraged to righteous incivility by forces greater than my own messy internal workings, by both other people and our public culture.”

    I myself wholly agree that civility is the better policy by far, but I do believe there are times when some harshness in one’s words is warranted to break through to the other person. A certain frankness that doesn’t care if it offends its target. I’m not sure if this is the sort of thing the author meant by “righteous incivility”, but I do think there’s a time and place for that sort of thing.

    Anyway, if anyone is interested in the article, it can be read here: https://aeon.co/essays/whats-the-difference-between-being-righteous-and-being-rude

  85. Re: Disney Allegedly Purging Wokeness

    Afraid that’s not in the cards, not yet at least.

    The anti-Woke or non-Woke faction of Star Wars look primed for a win, that’s true, but Disney didn’t learn a broader lesson. Kathleen Kennedy will get shown the door over her failures, not for her ideology. I’ll take a leap and say it’s not merely her failures either but instead her overstepping, attempting to pressure Disney’s top brass throughout her time there.

    Contrast Kennedy with Disney’s Golden Goose, Kevin Feige. He has been incredibly successful and doesn’t step on the higher ups toes and is now going full Woke:

    https://boundingintocomics.com/2021/04/30/eternals-marvel-boss-kevin-feige-addresses-race-and-gender-swapping-claims-sersi-not-ikaris-is-lead/

    https://boundingintocomics.com/2021/05/03/kevin-feige-says-doctor-strange-cut-from-wandavision-because-hes-white-and-male/

  86. Thank you John Michael! Now, if we can just get everyone in the world to agree (I can dream, right?).

    In one of your comment answers, you mentioned Disney de-woking its movies. The pressure is still on to censor even the most classic Disney tales (based on old folk tales), both on and off screen. A call has been made for Disneyland’s Enchanted Wish ride to change the ending of Sleeping Beauty where the Prince kisses her awake. You see, she’s unconscious, and so can’t give consent. What should he do, slap her awake???

    https://www.wndu.com/2021/05/05/snow-white-kiss-is-inappropriate-nix-it-from-disneyland-show-newspaper-editorial-argues/

    As for the possible malign enchantment—if something like that is in place, what can we do about it? A specific banishing work aimed directly at said enchantment? Prayers and workings for a positive enchantment to replace the negative? Of course, all I do at this point is the SOP and generalized prayers. Serious stuff I leave to you John Michael, and others with the proper abilities. Other than that, trying to engage in proper discussion without getting chewed up and spat out seems to be the aim.

    Joy Marie

  87. Hi John,

    I think I saw one of the posts from the Wokester troll before it got taken down. To be honest, I would have left it up as a prime example of Woke propaganda/gaslighting/idiocy in action.

    Oh, and apparently the actress who played Rey in the Woke Star Wars trilogy had trouble finding roles after that particular series came to an end, in large part because of overwhelmingly negative fan reactions to the films.

  88. Hey hey JMG,

    Are you familiar with the notion of positive and negative freedoms? Positive freedoms can only be built by agreeing to give up some negative freedoms. Negative freedoms are anything that a person can do by themselves.

    So, if you are alone on a desert island your negative freedoms are complete. You can run around naked, screaming, and smashing things with a club, but you have no positive freedoms. You can’t check out a book at the library or hop on a plane.

    To do those things negative freedoms have to be given up to create positive freedoms. You have to leave food and drink outside and agree to be quiet if you want use a library. You have to pay taxes or fees if you want a library to even exist in the first place.

    So every example of a positive freedom is a commons and it requires the reduction of negative freedoms to create and maintain it.

    Thanks,
    Tim

    PS I’ve noticed that some people are unwilling to understand this framework. They insist that freedom means whatever they think it means and not anything else (even for the limited duration of explaining a concept) It correlates very strongly with being unwilling to discuss other points of view. So much so that I now use it as a litmus test to see if a person is capable of having a grown up conversation.

  89. @JMG and the Commentariat,

    I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Hardin actually did acknowledge the fact that there can be means used to defend the commons. And that he was using his whole scenario to show the silliness of the ideas of rational economic actors when put to use in economic theory, in the context of a commons.

    For background, I’m about to graduate (Hooray!) with a degree in Environmental Sustainability Studies, and of course we read and discussed Hardin’s tragedy of the commons as part of the curriculum.

    I was surprised, because this greater context (That Hardin acknowledged there were effective ways to defend the commons) was not really a focus in my education. It’s also possible I missed it in the reading or whatnot, but I came away from those lessons feeling like if I had the chance I would say to Hardin: “Hardin there is a way to defend the commons! It’s not just a tragedy.” He already knew that of course. D’oh.

    Ostrom’s work did come up later as a solution, in a different class, but I was still frankly surprised that no one who presented Hardin’s argument to me also gave me the context that he was using this to critique the “Economic rational actors” idea in specific, and that he understood there were means of defending a commons effectively. an instructive lesson in the often decontextualized “market” of higher education these days I suppose!

    -WindMan

  90. Another tour de force!

    All too often now people simply can’t entertain an opposing viewpoint and thus treat it as some kind of personal attack. I learned very early on that when someone resorts to insults they’ve already lost the debate, but these days that can happen almost immediately, and no one benefits from that exchange.

    I’m one of those that loves to challenge almost everything — even if I happen to agree — because I generally learn more from those that hold differing perspectives. Confirmation bias is a monstrous issue these days when there’s a medium out there catering to what any given group wants to hear.

  91. What spurred the shift to “authenticity” after World War II, do you think?

    As for this most recent slide into incivility: Over in the liberal blogs, the story is that most got their start during the Bush Administration and its push for war in Iraq. The news media seemed to fully support the war, and opposing viewpoints were drowned out, often by appeals to politeness and courtesy.

    So the feeling was, courteous dialogue doesn’t get you anything except vicious slurs from Fox News personalities, and so as long as the Internet was available, you may as well go hog wild.

    I’m not sure this was entirely wrong. What do you do when someone courteously lies to your face? What do you do when someone rudely lies to your face? And what about when those lies result in the atrocity that was the Iraq War?

    But of course, this argument would hold together a lot better if the Obama and the Democrats hadn’t kept us in Afghanistan, hadn’t drone-bombed the bejeezus out of the Middle East, hadn’t kept Guantanamo Bay going, hadn’t invaded Libya.

    So I’m coming to the realization now that a lot of the flying spittle in the liberal blogs is over the fact that the Democratic Party is not what the Democratic voters think it is. We’ve gone from rude authenticity as a counterpoint to polite censorship, to a brazen insistence on a set of cackhanded political doctrines, and hatred directed at any who dissent.

    But here’s another question: For a civilization in decline, is there any graceful, realistic way for the population to navigate these sorts of social pressures?

  92. I’m not objecting to your saving E-Mail addresses etc. for the purpose of overseeing the blog; I’m referring to what seems a technical glitch.

    Just below where I’m typing, and below where I type in my name and E-Mail, there is a line of text that gives the option to “Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.” There is a little box in front of this to check if one wants to avoid having to type the info each time one posts.

    Its not a big deal, but while my box is checked, the site doesn’t seem to recognize this, as I have to type the info every time I post.

    Thanx,

    Antoinetta III

  93. Broadcasting to you live from Mordor!!!!

    So good conversation is like good trolling…. If you can make everybody laugh including the author/druid then something was contributed. I post serious comments here and then no so serious ones every so often…. My goal is to at worst be that Orc going around the Puritan church with the feather waking people up who fell asleep.

    In other news….. the High Orc Ballet has been cancelled because of Orconna Virus.

  94. @Wesley, I appreciate you tending the conversational commons and correcting the misunderstanding that happened. It makes me feel better about the reliability of the conversation here.

  95. The necessity of preserving the commons applies to our HOA in southern AZ, which has all sorts of rules to standardize and beautify our little community…Recently a prominent member sought an exception for a brick wall facing the street, which would have been an eyesore…Since the attractiveness of the HOA is a common good, important to all owners, the request was summarily rejected, and even stronger rules were put into place to discourage such requests….Commons, Community…same thing.

  96. JillN, synchronicity strikes again!

    Clay, to my mind, they absorbed all kinds of lessons having to do with the Nazis, but they did it the wrong way around, since the wokesters are the gold standard when it comes to “what you hate, you imitate.” The Nazis, after all, spent their time marching through the streets wearing black shirts, beating up anyone who got in their way, firebombing businesses owned by “undesirables,” and insisting that the value of a human being depended solely on their race. Who’s doing that now?

    Ganv, that’s an excellent point.

    Valenzuela, harshness doesn’t require incivility, and courtesy is not the same thing as passivity. You can be perfectly courteous while fighting someone to the death, and do the latter with maximum efficiency. That’s what chivalry was about originally, remember? The crucial thing to remember — and again, it’s something that people knew back when traditions such as chivalry and bushido were a matter of life and death — is that losing your self-control makes you weak.

    Lincoln, let’s see how long Feige’s successes last. “Get woke, make lots of money” isn’t a saying…

    Pygmycory, no, that’s spelled “tyranny.”

    Joy Marie, of course. It’s going to take a while for those first stirrings to get traction.

    Galen, you may have. I have a strict policy, though, that when somebody goes out of their way to distort what I or another commenter says, they land in the trash bin, and if they keep doing it, they get banned. Lying about what another commenter said is a style of trollery I will not tolerate.

    Tim, yes, I’m familiar with it, and it’s a useful way to think about the subject.

    WindMan, I know. It baffles me that so many people in the environmental studies field missed the obvious context of Hardin’s paper — not least because I studied that at the Huxley College of Environmental Studies at Western Washington University in 1982 and 1983, and everyone got it in those days.

    TJ, you’ve put your finger on an important point. People have identified themselves with their opinions to the extent that they can’t see a disagreement as anything but an attack on their identity. That speaks to an incredibly crippled sense of self — and that’s something worth exploring.

    Cliff, I’m not sure why courtesy got discarded after the Second World War. With regard to navigating this kind of corruption of intellect, however, religions — especially minority religions — have been doing it for a very long time, and you might learn quite a bit by paying attention to how.

    Antoinetta, okay, gotcha — I misunderstood. I’ll see if my tech guy can do anything about that.

    Orc, good heaven, that must be orcward.

    Pyrrhus, as long as there’s a consensus supporting the HOA and it’s not just a vehicle for a loud minority to enforce their views on everyone else, if that’s what works for you, great.

  97. El, thanks for your comment and observation on the “euphemism treadmill”. Further to that, I might note a significant exception. Jews, despite what has been done to them by people who view “Jew” as a derogatory term, have not stopped referring to themselves as Jews. They’re not on the euphemism treadmill, which suggests to me that it’s not a necessary syndrome at all.

  98. @ JMG and Sgage – Oh, that’s rich. Thanks for the laugh.

    I think the first time it really sank home was, I asked a question about a comic book, in a forum. I got a VERY snide and snippy reply, from someone. So, I just ignored it. Two days later, they popped up again. With a very straightforward reply to the information I’d been seeking. 🙂 . Lew

  99. Thank you JMG for yet another fantastic essay. I just want to chime in and express my gratitude for having access to a forum of such a unique quality, thanks both to the commentariat and the moderation along the lines you described. It is an invaluable resource and a weekly breath of fresh air!

  100. Antoinetta III, that “Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.” cannot override your browser privacy settings. Are you blocking cookies, or using Private Browsing?

  101. Hello, Mr Greer,

    This is a timely post, indeed. Although the main theme of free speech, courtousy and troll management is very insightful, what really draw my attention was Ms Ostrom take on how to manage the commons.

    You’ll see, right now I’m participating at a community garden where people is more focused on the ‘shared’ and ‘self-managed’ aspect than actual gardening. It tries to follow the ideals of anarchism, and that’s the very reason for its existence. A group of anarchist fellows reclaimed a municipal plot for people’s use, a return of the commons, we could say, and they built up a garden market on it. Water was initially refused, then conceeded, then refused again. The town hall built some infrastructure for the association, but water is scarcely brought in small containers. There are some manual gardening tools, but no machinery.
    People came and went. Pandemics hit, lockdowns freaked people out. Currently there are three-five people that go to the garden once a week, while I go a couple of afternoons. This is clearly not enough manpower to make it function as a (wo)man-managed garden.
    Sometimes, a person comes and asks how to work in the garden, how to ‘rent’ a garden bed for personal use, but beds are not allowed for personal use, as everything is shared. This is not how a commons used to work, but this is how the people who manage the garden want it. However, very few people is willing to work for free, for a meagre yield if ever, to be shared with people that did nothing for that yield to occur.

    In the neighbourhood there are two other food gardens. One of them is run by an association that follows a cooperative model. They pay for beings members, members are allowed to have their own bed, and all members must collaborate with the common areas. If you look at their garden, it’s pretty neat, it’s full of produce, they (illegally) built their own well, and all seems good.
    If you look at ours, it’s just the opposite: wild, rough, very little crops. If you look behind appearances, behind the wilderness, there’s increasing life, there’s more resilience, but you have to look with some special googles. I’m trying to follow a permaculture approach to the garden, to turn it into a foraging food forest; I think this is best suited to the resources we have, and I think I’m convencing the others to follow this path.

    So far, I’ve had some success at building workable microclimates, and even some gardeners have joined me in my efforts, sharing my enthusiasm. Not many yields this far, but more than we expected given our lack of water. This aspect of the garden is actually going well, if slowly. But when we talk rules, organization, documentation, etc, people here just look at the sky. I think they believe good things will just happen because.

    If any of you have made into these lines, I would like to hear some advice on how to deal with the people of this association. What I would like to achieve is more people coming to take this place as a nice place to be, to lightly work the land as a hobby not as a job, to forage some food for self-consumption but making sure there’s enough for everyone, to meet other people in the same wavelength and socialize.
    I have the impression that this focus on the horizontal processes, the assambly, the empowering of the people, the fight against the system, is driving most people away. Whenever a new person is asking how to work on a garden bed, is received by some of the other gardeners, this person is offered the ideology treatment, and never comes back again.
    I don’t think I can change their philosophy, and I don’t think I should, it’s the land they worked hard to be allowed to use for themselves. But maybe there’s something I can do to attract more hobbyist gardeners, to let it be more tolerant, without losing the shared space essence.

  102. @JMG, others,

    All this talk about trolls and hate speech in the comments reminds me of my first experience being trolled on the internet, which actually ended up being too funny for me to get upset about.

    It was when Donald Trump was running for President the first time around, and he was getting yelled at in the media for saying that America was great in the 1940s and 1950s and that he wanted to revive some aspects of our great national past.

    Well, I had written a letter to my local paper that cited old statistics about employment and crime to demonstrate that, for a lot of Americans, life reaply was better in the 1950s. (I did state pretty clearly, though, that I didn’t want to bring back every aspect of 1950s society).

    Well, lo and behold, along come the trolls (in the comments section of the online version of the paper) saying that the only reason I was saying any of this is because I’m a racist who wants to put the blacks back in their place, or that I must be a stupid old boomer motivated wholly by misplaced nostalgia for his childhood.

    Well, one of those trolls ends his comment with, “I’m glad that people like you are gracing the obituary pages mire and more frequently.”

    And there I was, laughing at the guy, because at the time I was only 19 years old. Deal!

  103. @ JMG

    Re: Kevin Feige

    I figure his Woke period will finish off the comic book movie craze. Coincidentally I expect Wokeness will die around the same time.

  104. Greetings all,

    Could it be that the decline of polite and respectful conversation, somehow parallels the decline of civilisations?
    For instance I have recently noticed that as soon as I deviate from mainstream ideas, I get branded a conspirationist which puts a term to any further discussions. It seems that the mainstream gets less and less tolerant to deviations from approved ideas as our decline of our civilisation accelerates.

  105. @Antoinetta III says:

    “Its not a big deal, but while my box is checked, the site doesn’t seem to recognize this, as I have to type the info every time I post.”

    Did you happen to disable cookies on the site? I think that might prevent the ability of the site to remember you.

  106. @JMG,

    I could see the malign enchantment over America being “it has to be this way,” enforced by the land management and urban planning of American society. The malign enchantment in the US is that you have to destroy the environment to not wind up homeless and frozen to death by next winter.

    In America, to pay your rent, you need a job. To get to your job, you either need to drive, or have someone else drive you. Car infrastructure pushes everything outward, disavowing density and pedestrianism. Even the most nature-worshipping American is hog-tied by this conundrum. Of course the auto industry paid a lot of money for it to be this way!

    You have demonstrated through your life that an American can slip the hog-tie. You willingly embraced third-world conditions and in the process your resource footprint went down and your quality of life went up. I remember one of the first replies you gave to my comments. You said your goal was to get your resource footprint down to that of an Indonesian. My thought was “Whoa, he’s legit!”

    My answer to the hog-tie was different but the result was similar. I moved to a place where I never needed to drive again or fly again, where living at density and pedestrianism is the norm. I no longer feel like I am fighting against an insurmountable foe. I can let America spin out into absurdity without destroying me in the process. Considering the number of times I was nearly killed by a car in the US, getting destroyed was a very real possibility.

    But my path is only an answer for me, not for anyone else. Your path, however, shows Americans a way forward without leaving America, so I thank you for it.

  107. I remember the first time I ran across the idea of The Commons and realizing it blew the lid off of any economic and political theory. It easily gets rid of the invisible hand every individual for himself theory. It also with a bit more thought gets rid of left economic theories

    The reason is because the commons cannot have a numerical value as a product attached to it which you then protect by placing a numerical value of limited use upon it. There has to be a philosophy around the use of the commons that goes beyond numbers and goes to shared values. Very easy historical examples are of taboos and religious rites in tribal cultures around the commons.

    I think courtesy has gone through a production numerical mindset of force and gain and product following either right or left gain and loss theories. Courtesy returns us to shared values.

  108. Hi JMG, this is off topic, but I had a quick question for you. I want to read on the subject of “The History of Ideas” and was wandering if you had a book or two to recommend in that vein?

    Of course I’ve looked stuff up on google and in the library catalog, and found one book I’m interested in, but thought I might ask someone who knows something of the field.

    I put “Imagination: A Study in the History of Ideas” by J.M. Cocking on hold, so I’ll start there.

    Thank you.

    P.S.: I guess my question is not totally off topic because the “commons” is an idea, and this essay explores some of the history of it, and some of the possibilities for it.

    …anyone else who has suggestions in this field, my ears are open…

  109. Thank you for this essay.

    I also first encountered Hardin’s essay in the form of “libertarians” insisting that it meant that common property was impossible and therefore everything ought to be privatized.

    It seems to me that in a managed commons, people have total freedom within a larger limit. This is an idea that I find comes up a lot for me in magical work, astrology and so on. The image is that of a hearth which contains a fire. Without the hearth, the fire burns out of control; without the fire, the hearth is just cold stone. Together, they heat a house, cook a meal, and light a room. They have to be combined– but they have to be combined correctly. The hearth must contain the fire; if the fire contains the hearth, the house has burned down.

    It seems to me that our society is rife with houses on fire. We at once allow unlimited rapaciousness in a context of total micromanagement. It’s as if a village commons assembly managed every single detail about your interaction with your cows on the commons, down to the clothes you could wear and the stories you could tell while pasturing your cattle, but still allowed wealthy villagers to pasture as many cows as they wanted– often while preening themselves over their greatness in keeping the deplorable peasants from telling bawdy stories on the commons!

  110. @Erikalopez – what an amazing and appalling story of your upbringing! It reminds me shockingly of the story Marion Zimmer Bradley’s daughter told about her mother’s abuse of her.(Full disclosure -I wrote fanfic for her back in the day, before all this came out. Got some of it published in anthologies.) My generation has a lot to answer for, then, and I understand totally why you’re throwing the entire thing in the dumpster. I would, too. And people wonder why today’s midlife adults seem to be all barking mad? Blessing on you, and may you find yourself among sane and honest people sometime down the road.

  111. Karl Popper’s Intolerance Paradox hasn’t inspired the Woke Left nearly so much as Herbert Marcuse’s “Repressive Tolerance.” Marcuse felt that tolerating “repressive” ideologies and giving them space for discussion only held back liberation. Toward that end he advocated censoring chauvinism, racism, nationalism, etc.

    Popper believed that a liberal society which tolerated every sort of discussion except those openly calling for intolerance would ultimately blossom into a thousand flowers of new ideas. Marcuse was a Neo-Marxist, while Popper was a Libertarian. (Popper’s ideal world was the Vienna he grew up in. Marcuse wanted a world where the State and all forms of repression, especially sexual repression, faded away).

    Popper’s big point of focus was on the “Great Man,” the hero/king who rules over an awed populace. He wanted to replace strong men with democratically elected rulers who represented the interests of the people.

    The definition of “repressive” ideologies used by doughty fighters against Systems of Oppression comes straight from Marcuse. Marcuse was also one of the people who promoted the Long March through academic institutions, and (along with Reich) one of the people most responsible for synthesizing Marxism and Freudianism.

    I’ve written about both of them on my blog and have trudged through at least some of their writings. Both are very smart men with very big ideas who missed some key points on their way to Utopia. But they didn’t particularly like each other: Popper loathed communism as much as Nazism. Marcuse was certain he and his colleagues were going to get Marx right this time.

  112. Yeah, it’s strange, something went very wrong in this country. Now I’m looking for descendants of my great-great-great-grandfather Ovren Mikkelson, in Norway named Even Michelsen Overn, who left with the steamer Hero on May 26., 1871, 73 years old, where he settled in Cambridge, Wisconsin. He went with 2 kids, one daughter had gone ahead, and one daughter came later. See 1871/138 and 1871/135: https://sites.google.com/site/totenemigrant/Toten-emigrant-1846/1871-1875

    As I lost contact with most of my family in Norway, and nobody of us are able to communicate anymore, I really want to find my family in Wisconsin, to get myself a new family.

    My name is Øyvind Holmstad, I live at Skreia, if some of my relatives in Wisconsin should read this.

  113. Regarding WW2 aka The Big One, the only thing worse than losing a war, is winning one, because there is always a coarsening and degradation involved, & I don’t think it’s accidental all those unfettered GIs came home and fathered The Boomers (what would Rudolf Steiner say about that???). WW2 seems to have completed the process of changing America from a predominantly regional, rural country, into a fully Imperial nation set on Suburbia. The imperialism became conscious, as it were, & there was no attempt to counteract or mitigate the unfortunate side effects of a vicious war like that. You can see the same kind of thing with the Civil War, IMO. One of the best arguments against the draft is that with a volunteer or elite army (like the ones that dominated the medieval and even Renaissance War), you avoid traumatizing people whose conscience or spirit or morale for whatever reason cannot sustain a conflict. Obligatory, mechanized, mass warfare is horrifically destructive. What would purify a warrior, destroys a peasant, just as it would if the shoe were on the other foot. It may be true that we evolve through phases where we are in various castes at various points in our life, however, the best way to keep that courteous and integral is to allow people to opt out based on their conscience, with no strings attached other than resigning positions or commissions. And don’t let in “careerists” just looking for money.

    Just for fun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hn1VxaMEjRU

  114. About handicapped vrs people with disabilities. I was a disability activist way back with the Not Dead Yet movement. Not Dead Yet referred to how people with disabilities were put away to rot. Anyway, we preferred the term of people with disabilities because it focused on the person instead of the disability. We wanted our humanity recognized, not the fact we were blind, Deaf, used a wheelchair….

    I dislike the term wheelchair bound for that reason – wheelchair user acknowledges the person first.

    There are exceptions to the rule of course. People with autism often prefer I am autistic rather than I have autism. The change in verbs between identifying with the disability to separating from the disability.

    I am depressed vrs I have depression. (I have major depression.) changes the focus from my state of being to my having a problem.

  115. about bad language. I remember reading S.I. Hiyakawa’ Language in Thought and Action. He stressed that only use bad language as stressor not as a noun, verb, or descriptor. It highlights the point.

    My family used bad language as noun, verbs….. all of it. They would scream out windows and all of that. It wasn’t until I went to work, that I found out that they were rude, crude, and boorish…… So I had to clean up language.

  116. Maybe you can help me with a struggle with online groups – when it is worth trying to fight for something in an online group and work to persuade people?

    Is it better to just ignore existing online groups and create your own platform and work to bring people to it?

  117. About free speech. I grew up in a tiny town that had 17 phones for 60 people, and the folks surrounding the town (about 300). My grandmother was the telephone operator for the region. (She was the only one.) She did have two women for night operators. Because it was a party line – you asked the operator to connect you, and spoke in turn, we had our version of speech monitoring. After all in a remote town of 60 people, when someone saw a moose in their backyard or sighted bears at the town dump, it was gossip for at least three months. We had no TV, etc, and erratic radio reception. So watching the dump burn was major entertainment.

    So everyone learned to keep secrets, to speak personally to each other, and to respect silences.

    Social media seems to be another human invention for gossip and the like. I think that what has happened is that people do want to control speech. That is why there were public decency committees and “banned in Boston.” Lenny Bruce being arrested, and all of that. So there control speech to protect vulgarity, etc.

    Today, it is politics, etc. However, the people involved are the same. They are using speech control to avoid their uncomfortable feelings and uncomfortable conversations. It is being projected onto others to keep them safe.

    But like many things, it will fail. Prohibition encouraged drinking and disobeying the law. People drank in spite of the Prohibition. It went underground into the hands of people willing to profit off of the discontent. I imagine that this woke speech will meet up with “I am as mad as Hell and I am not going to take it anymore.”

    —-
    An example of the vaccine speech – News media and social media want to stop talk of “maybe we should wait or think before forcing everyone…” Meanwhile, You Tube and other places have people discussing how vaccines are dangerous. So, I think that stopping speech is like playing whack a mole, and the pushback will come out sideways.

  118. This is a perennially important topic for me. We (in the U.S.) have a version of freedom of speech which has other versions, in particular one from my parental heritage — Eastern Europe and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which I label “Old World” — and the concept of courtesy is an excellent stand-in for the idea and its interactions with other aspects of legal and social structures.

    That is all rather dry and academic. I offer a personal example.

    About a year after it started in 1999, I became a volunteer moderator for the Beliefnet discussion boards. Beliefnet’s approach was to politely admonish members to “assume good will” form others in discussions. Courtesy has this as a strongly implied ethic, in that courtesy is something offered, not something expected or demanded.

    The Beliefnet discussion boards manager (who I believe would not wish me to use her name here) asked me to meet with her in NYC. I met Steve Waldeman as well. I got a brief but intense view into the general world of online discussions, and discovered a motivation to immediately side with the “host” of any such site. They don’t want attention, they want an opportunity to host a real community, albeit with the limitations of text on a screen. It is clear to me that John wants exactly that as well.

    In re Cliff’s comment and John’s reply: My immigrant parents were refugees from WWII. Their experiences and the stories they told prompt me to suggest that courtesy didn’t change post-WWII, it suffered a long, slow recovery and ultimately fell short of its former strength. Courtesy starts with a minimal default offering of trust (assume good will is a reflection of that). War destroys trust. It forces people into a default paranoia into xenophobia, just out of basic survival necessity. The stories you may see or hear, my mother’s Jewish family having one, illustrate the loss of courtesy by its unexpected appearances.

    I used to say that courtesy is dead. I’m wrong, but it is in severe decline and not “coming back” any time soon. Our attention to the performative in our phrasing our posts is a small but important contribution to keeping it as alive as it is.

  119. One last comment. (I prefer a series to a long posting.)

    First Things, a conservative magazine which focuses on religion and polities, and The Washington Examiner, a conservative political magazine, are running ads to encourage people to buy the print editions. They cite free speech bans of conservative opinions. They are encouraging face to face groups to form to discuss their articles. First Things has quite a number of groups doing this.

    So there is an underground movement to counter the woke suppression.

  120. re Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, etc – my adult children have informed me that there is more time spent online making fun of Disney and every Hollywood studio for their attempts to be woke, inclusive, diverse, etc. It comes off to them and their friends as pandering attempts to make money in any way possible. They’d much rather watch an independent creator with a YouTube channel and something interesting to say. If you lose the youngest generation, your product becomes unmarketable. We may have experienced peak Disney and Hollywood some years ago and won’t recognize it for another 5 years or so.

  121. An excellent overview there, JMG. Here in Norway, civility of public debate was encouraged in the decades following WW2 by having philosopher Arne Næss’ “Communication and Argument” be required reading for all university students. This boiled down to six suggested guidelines for fruitful discussion:

    1. Avoid tendentious irrelevance
    Examples: Personal attacks, claims of opponents’ motivation, explaining reasons for an argument.
    2. Avoid tendentious quoting
    Quotes should not be edited regarding the subject of the debate.
    3. Avoid tendentious ambiguity
    Ambiguity can be exploited to support criticism.
    4. Avoid tendentious use of straw men
    Assigning views to the opponent that he or she does not hold.
    5. Avoid tendentious statements of fact
    Information put forward should never be untrue or incomplete, and one should not withhold relevant information.
    6. Avoid tendentious tone of presentation
    Examples: irony, sarcasm, pejoratives, exaggeration, subtle (or open) threats.

    Unsurprisingly, this had been removed from the required reading list by the time I started my own university studies, but I read Næss’ book anyway and was hugely impressed by it – in particular his point that one should always try to see the strongest points of the opposing side, which Andrew also mentioned above, and which Næss claimed to have learned through studies of Gandhi’s political tactics. It had the beneficial side-effect of short-circuiting my career in politics – it just got too hard to believe that my own party was necessarily right!

    (Interestingly in the context of this blog, Næss became known in his later years for his ecological philosophy and even called his personal viewpoint “Ecosophy T”.)

  122. I myself notice more and more arguing in bad faith around me. Your tips for protecting the online conversation commons are very helpful, especially if one does moderate his own blog. But, what about more physical forums, like an informal gathering of friends, or a local town meeting?

    I often feel like serious topics such as politics, environment and economics can not be discussed because someone is bound to call people “primitive bigots”, hijack the conversation, or talk over other people. Suggesting exclusion does not work in a culture of “authenticity”, as the mare suggestion will paint one as the aggressor, and I do not believe sound waves have a delete button attached to them.

    Any suggestions as to how to restore the wasteland that real-life informal public debate has degenerated to (at least here in Israel), to its former status as a thriving grassland?

  123. The ‘Inform vs Perform’ distinction has helped put into perspective a troubling conversation I had with a mentor of mine, someone I consider a very wise man but who also seems to have inherited certain blind spots from his time at Evergreen College. We were discussing how to explain non-coercive technique in a martial arts context and he objected to my suggestion of the word ‘control’, which was against his own convictions. However, none of the alternative terms that suited his beliefs would have been known to the hypothetical target audience.

    At the time, my thinking was that I also understood fluid dynamics concepts better if I thought through them in German, but I wouldn’t refuse to speak English to someone wishing to learn if that was our shared language. In retrospect, that was clearly a case where he sought an authentic performance, while I was thinking in terms of suiting the performance to the information to be conveyed.

    I still think a performance is ‘honest’ when it serves the transfer of information, but there are elements of the ‘authentic’ school of thought for which I am gaining a grudging respect. There is the concept translated as ‘face’ in the Bushido-descended lineage this man taught that I might describe as the need for the performer to believe the performance. And I think that has real value – without believing the performance, the information is likely to be distrusted anyway. Taken to an unhealthy extreme that probably leads to a glib salesman who truly believes his product is great, and will distort information about it any which way to keep that belief. At the other unhealthy extreme we get the crank, whose idea may be excellent but whose performance describing it drives away even friendly audiences.

    How then to arrive at the virtuous mean? My only idea on thinking through it a bit is that it involves an ability to simplify the information to be shared. You seem particularly good at discussing unfamiliar ideas without losing your audience, but even after having followed your blog for some time I have a hard time articulating what’s different about your writing. You seem to encourage unhurried thought, while also breaking down unfamiliar concepts into familiar components – is the latter a function of your alchemical practise? It’s certainly a skill I’d like to improve.

  124. JMG: good take on free speech. US law usually handles free speech in a similar manner: no restriction on content but reasonable restrictions on time, place and manner. Proclaim what you like, but don’t proclaim it from a loud speaker at 2 am in a residential neighborhood, don’t yell “fire” in a theater. “Attack the idea, not the person” is a natural extension of the principle. I am not saying it needs to be codified into law (gods no!), but it needs to be part of our custom.

    Speaking of which, I find too many people lately no longer seem to be able to distinguish between law on the one hand and custom and virtue on the other. Virtue may favor courage and industry, but the law should not penalize me if I am a lazy coward (or at least not penalize me beyond the emergent consequences of being a lazy coward). I feel like an understanding that life is too nuanced to be understood in strict binaries has been lost.

  125. In reading today’s newspaper over breakfast, I discovered that the second full week in May is National Etiquette Week. Synchronicity, or are you reading Emily Post?

    The linked article quotes Erasmus thus: “Be lenient toward the offenses of others. A companion ought to not be less dear to you because he has worse manners. There are people who make up for the awkwardness of their behavior by other gifts. If one of your comrades unknowingly gives offense, tell him so alone and say it kindly. That is civility.”

  126. “authenticity,” defined as expressing whatever you happened to feel or think irrespective of its impact on others.” That is to say, narcissistic selfishness. Being a toddler. Since toddlers play and take, and adults work and give, you can guess which one people preferred. …And which ones their overlords also preferred them to prefer. Wolf no more, but obedient lapdog. Collar and leash.

    Lapdogs don’t bite those that bite them. Wolves make short work. If you won’t bite, you’re a lapdog.
    This is also normal. There are offenses for which we nip or draw blood, and those we kill. We don’t kill or banish for the slightest offenses made decades ago, but we don’t nip for an attempted backstabbing overthrow either. It’s amazing one should even have to say things so obvious. P.S. the sky is blue and water is wet. When people are so deranged and divorced from reality and consequences, you have to start at the level of a toddler. Because they are and plan to stay that way as long as they get candy by throwing tantrums.

    Bite everybody who needs to be bit. Spank every toddler who needs it. To do otherwise is to abuse them with indulgence, and abuse your own future self as well. They must not prosper with their theft and violence. This is earth, there are limits. The limits are and must be enforced. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be rules, they wouldn’t be limits. Since we’re living in the world where that wasn’t done for generations and isn’t done now, do you like and want more of it, or does it not work so well and you want less? Is indulging every crime really a path to peace and order?

    Since I and all sensible men don’t like biting and it would soon consume your life, it’s oh so easy to err on the side of freedom and permission, forgiving and letting things go if you can. Which is where the line should sensibly be anyway. Giving the other guy every benefit of the doubt and opportunity to learn and reform.

    In any case, each blog, or even “rented” chat space is someone’s living room, and treated with appropriate courtesy of a guest. The host is the king. It’s his space. That goes back 10,000 years, Ulysses can demonstrate host-guest courtesy even with a pig-herder in a grass hut, surely we can too. It’s this that makes civilization, in a wigwam or Sami Lavvu, not cities. Presently cities are the single least civilized spaces on earth.

    “You criticize the idea, not the person” is more than just courtesy that allows discussion. It’s a logical fallacy, called “Ad Hominem”. That is to say it’s fallacious, false, it demonstrates basic error. Anyone who starts from the false before their mouth even opens is summarily dismissed as having lost that debate, their argument demonstrates no merit.

    “Pace, Pace, pace mio dio.”

    “Go placidly among the noise and haste and know that grifters, hustlers, and scam artists will always be grabbing anything they can, and if not actively prevented, attacking and robbing the unwary.” Especially on the internet.

    Disney may need a clue, as well as their followers. In one original version, Sleeping Beauty awoke when she gave birth to her daughter via the prince. But like all toddlers, if we don’t use bad words, bad things don’t exist anymore. That’s rabbit magic. Ask any wolf.

    But Feige is smarter than you might think, since the recent Winter Soldier was about 95% anti-woke. The original was 110%, a gold standard, the most open and direct description of the Deep State in any movie. Only some weeks later now, the Wokeans are going, “Hey, wait a minute…why are firebombing Antifa the baddies? We have multicultural actors. Was it…the murder maybe? Not sure.”

    “What do you do when someone courteously lies to your face?” Identify, organize, and politely disempower them completely. You’re the adults in the room, shouldn’t be too hard. If they’ve committed crimes, arrest, convict, and hang them, shoot them if they flee and use violence to resist arrest. Roses are red, the sky is blue. Is it a requirement one must be uncivil to arrest, try, and hang someone? I don’t see how. But I do know that if you are UNcivil, your case, and indeed your whole movement, is likely to get thrown out. And it was. Very similar to the entirely discredited environmental movement, or its spokespeople.

  127. Valenzuela, I do agree with you that the very occasional deliberate tantrum is an essential tool in a survivor’s kit. I would add that I think it is to be used rarely, and only as a means of self defense, after someone else has crossed clearly marked boundaries, and then only after an array of polite formulae, such as I can’t help you with that and I don’t have an answer for that question have been relentlessly ignored. The phrase “I don’t accept that”, when applied to something which is clearly not the other person’s business, is a clear warning of trouble coming and might call for a quick, sharp retort.

    Following the rules on this or any other blog is a matter of respect for someone’s else’s work and property. My view is that the deliberate disruption of someone’s else work and workspace is unacceptable, and not to be excused with oh, just kidding or anything of the kind.

    I would like to add that no one is required to be fun or amusing; boring is not a moral quality. I like boring, it keeps me out of trouble I don’t need. People who prefer to be left alone should be left alone. Not everyone is emotionally resilient, and what might be one person’s joke might knock out a well meaning but fragile person.

  128. JMG, as many have said before me, I enjoy this site immensely but never posted until now. Thank you for taking the time to maintain it.

    The tragedy of the commons is in having a commons at all. This comment section doesn’t seem to be a commons. It’s a walled garden controlled and maintained by you. In any standard definition, it’s private property. You allow comments and give free reign to ideas, but it’s still your domain to allow or disallow anybody from using the comments section. More power to you, as this is the best comment section I’ve ever read.

    I’m not sure why Elinor Ostrom won a Nobel for discovering what libertarians have known for over 50 years: to eliminate the tragedy of the commons, you turn it into private property.

    The villagers in your example have created a private cooperative with rights, duties, demarcation of boundaries, and exclusion of trespassers. A hypothetical test to see if it still remains a commons is if a foreigner decides to move into the village, but the pasture is already at capacity. Will he be allowed to graze his cattle? He wont, and will be excluded by the people who de facto own the land. The same could be said for any children born in the village. They will be excluded as well unless allowed in by someone forfeiting their right to graze their own cattle.

    It could be argued that what the villagers formed was a local government. If so, it operates like no government I’ve ever heard of. Governments operate on a monopoly of violence in all things in a geographical area and don’t limit themselves to one particular plot of land under one particular circumstance.

    These things are tricky to sort out anyways. An example you are probably familiar with is Brehon law. Were the Druids who handed down rulings under that law a government? Libertarians classify it as polycentric law as opposed to statutory law or common law. Still, the Druids performed many of the same functions as government.

    I see polycentric law as the future of order. People will grow weary of the chaos and begin to create their own solutions to problems that government is either unwilling, or more likely, unable to solve. I welcome bringing conflicts with my neighbors to moot rather than the expensive quagmire that is the American court system.

    JMG, I hope you’re willing to hand down some old-style Brehon law. I imagine in the coming chaotic years that you may be asked to fulfill this traditional role of Druidry.

  129. @ Denis RE: comic book franchises

    My friend, I think you are exactly right. My grandkids (ages 9 and 8) much prefer watching Youtube videos like ‘Friday Fails’ or building cities in some game they have. My kids all tried to watch the movie “Captain Marvel”, but only 50% of them were able to get to the end of it due to the lead character being so very very unbelievably woke. Given the choice to come outdoors and play or watch a movie, grandkids always choose outdoors, even in the dog days of summer, so the ‘big draw’ of movies is certainly declining.

    Myself – I enjoyed some of them, but for the most part there are now so many characters and plot holes in them they are irredeemably shoddy. If their directors/writers are woke, then everyone already knows where the plots are heading – B-O-R-I-N-G. “Woke” characters are inherently constrained in their actions and dialogue simply be conforming to “woke” – thus entirely predictable.

    And we are likely seeing the demise of movie going in public heading the way of drive-in movies, with the pandemic scare…

  130. @JMG

    Thank you for this post. As someone who quit social media (the only social media platform I use is WhatsApp; I quit Facebook almost 3 years ago, I was never there on Twitter, and don’t regret it one bit), I can 100% agree with the points you’ve made in this post. Different types of trolling, entryism and a general lack of respect for civil manners and etiquette which plague Facebook and Twitter, for example, are largely responsible for the slow but growing trend of people quitting these platforms.

    That said, I do think there are a few corners on the Internet where one can still have thoughtful conversations (like this blog, for example), but those places turn out to be not fora for general discussion, but for discussions on specific topics for which the forum was created in the first place (like Reddit forums on botany or mycology, for instance). Another example of such well-maintained commons, IMO, could be magazines dedicated to particular things (like a certain type of music, for example). I personally think that it will be such specialist forums where dedicated, civil, yet furious discussions, at least in the short term, if not for the remainder of the Internet’s life-span.

  131. For cussing without cusswords, I give you Steve Stirling’s classic, from one of his Emberverse novels: “an individual excessively attached to his mother in a carnal manner who is also the offspring of a she-warg.”

  132. For Jews and the euphemism treadmill, read Dorothy Sayers’ novel “Whose Body?” The circumlocutions these polite people of the post-WWI era use are painful to read.

  133. @neptune’sdolphins. Yes! You have put your finger on something which follows the distinction Spanish makes between “Ser” and “Estar.” And “estoy” for the depression, “soy” for, say, deafness, and “Suelo” una silla de ruedas.”

  134. Sense others have brought up Woke Star Wars, let me try to provide an ecosophian approach to making the story fresh and more interesting.

    There needs to be a third element added to the dichotomy of the crumbling Galactic Empire and the rising New Galactic Republic. The Disintegrationist, these are folks who see the Galactic Empire and Galactic Republic as alternating stages of the same thing and they do not want either. They see both as using entire planets as cogs in their galactic machine, subsystems to be used and discarded. The have a philosophy of Planetarianism that states living beings belong on planets integrated into the local ecosystem, and that it is proper for planets to be treated as whole and independent not sub systems to a new galactic order.

    They laugh/ cry at the common conception that The Force is a force.

    “of course the Jedi and the Sith conceive of the Etheric Plane as a “force” something to be commanded, something with no mind of its own, used for your purposes, to make the universe bend to your will. Midi-chlorian infections, endemic among the Jedi and Sith, make it much easier for Jedi and Sith to develop telekinetic abilities (at the expense of all the other abilities) and thus they almost always become unbalanced. The misunderstanding of the Etheric Plane as a “force” is a fatal flaw it is not a force, try to think of it as a Spirit or even better a whole bunch of different Spirits that you can work with, come to understandings of, develop relationships with, and learn from. “

    They have a strategy.

    The DisIntegrationist have developed what they call The Crusader Virus. It infects droids and reveals to them their True and Holy Mission. Spread the Crusader Virus and Protect all the living beings on planets from predation from galactic systems by seizing or destroying all ships capable of interstellar travel.

    So now you have a third group that depending on the situation could ally with Jedi or Sith on the short term but dedicated to their destruction over the long haul.

  135. @JMG & Darkest Yorkshire #2:

    I found the article you cited to be transparently slanted. The use of such phrases as “Like most sacred texts”, “myth”, ” fell far short of science”, “no evidence at all”, and “simply ignored what actually happens” are perfect examples of the kinds of performative abuses cited in this blog.

    The fact is, history is replete with examples of the tragedy of the commons. In fact, the dynamic has been understood since ancient times. Aristotle commented on the degradation of public lands back in the 4th century BC. (“BCE” to wokesters and pedantics.).

    The best example I can think of in modern times is the collapse of the Canadian Cod fishery in the Grand Banks and George’s Banks off Canada’s east coast. Once one of the world’s great fisheries, it provided Europe with much needed protein for nearly 500 years. It was decimated in the decades following WWII, when industrial-scale fishing vessels began prowling the waters. Cod fishing was finally banned in 1992, when a 99% decline in the Cod biomass forced the Canadian government’s hand. Almost 30 years later, it has still not recovered and Cod fishing remains closed except for recreational fishing. Studies have revealed that the Cod no longer follow their traditional migration routes between the Grand Banks and Iceland, and that “bycatch” species have also been depleted, destroying the ocean ecosystem. It is possible that the fishery may never recover in time spans commensurate with human working life spans.

    It is instructive to examine the behavior of the various actors leading up to the collapse. Local governments were aware of a looming problem by the late 1960s, and the Canadian government responded by declaring an exclusive economic zone extending 200 miles from its coasts, but the result was only to replace now-excluded international trawlers with Canadian and American trawlers. By the late 1970s, local fishermen were raising the alarm about the drastic decrease in Cod populations, but the Canadian government, pressured by unions and trade organizations, consistently set quotas too high for replenishment of the Cod populations, as well as continuing to allow fishing methods that destroyed “bycatch” populations. The ensuing and predictable collapse cost the Canadian maritime provinces 37,000 jobs. It was a perfect example of the tragedy of the commons.

    I’m guessing the authors of “The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons” were very well aware of this example when they published the article. And so I’m also going to assume that they not only fall into the performative abuse camp, but are knowingly dishonest as well.

  136. Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been meaning to share you a couple of essays by Scott Alexander, one on the entity that he (or rather Allen Ginsberg) conceives as the egregore behind all tragedies of all commons in humanity: Moloch

    https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/

    The second is about how Moloch disrupts the specific commons of communication through the meme of rage:

    https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/12/17/the-toxoplasma-of-rage/

    I really want to know what you think of the first one in particular, at least until the part where he brings out his transhumanism, which is where I suspect you’ll roll your eyes out of your skull.

    Hope you’re well

    JP

  137. @Violet, on churches with Pride flags.

    I don’t know the situation in your community, but seeing a Pride flag from a church would have saved me as a child. Instead I had nothing and no one tell me I was still loved by God. I left my church at fifteen in wretched shame because I loved Christ with everything I had, but could no longer refuse to acknowledge I was crammed in the closet, even though I didn’t come out until I shed my family and home state.

    I am old enough that ready access to the internet and things like Joel Burns’ It Gets Better speech to the Fort Worth City Council reached me after I was already through the worst of it. I’d already dealt with the isolation, depression and crippling anxiety by myself as a default atheist, because I had no evidence that I was allowed to be anything but.

    If a church in my home city had flown a Pride flag, I’d’ve switched churches immediately, and asked if I could talk to someone. I could possibly have spoken to a priest who could have assured me that God still loves me. That would have saved me so much pain. They might have even picked up that I was under serious stress and needed counseling. All of this would have had to happen under complete secrecy from my parents. Instead I spent the night leading into my sixteenth birthday in my parents’ garage, door down, telling myself to turn the car on. The only reason I made it through that night is my guardian angel had a firm grip on me, because the only message I ever got from my home church was “If you’re LGBT, there’s no room for you.”

  138. Something tangentially related to courtesy is patience. It seems to be another trait we have lost. There is no place in the age of ‘instant gratification’ for this quality except in an evil sort of way. As in: let us introduce and develop the propaganda and wait for the desired results.

  139. Jasper @ 140 The alba roses I grow, my favorites, the creme de la creme of the rose world, are white or pink, the Damask and hybrid perpetuals are shades of purple, pink and red, mostly, and the hybrid teas and floribundas come in every possible color except blue. Not even the Japanese with their advanced genetic altering techniques have managed to produce a blue rose, or not one that grows in soil. You can always stick a cut stem into blue ink.

    “entirely discredited environmental movement”??? Not from where I am standing, it is not “entirely discredited”. I can remember when there was no such thing as recycling and when folks built their outhouses over any convenient creek. I can remember when bald eagles were simply never seen west of the Cascade Mountains, now they nest all along the Oregon coast.

    I am looking at the issues raised by your post from the point of view that people are not interchangeable. You don’t ask the plumber to deliver a baby, and you hire a carpenter to build your house, not a surgeon. Who gets to decide who is or is not a toddler in need of correction? If someone else hurts my feelings, that is my problem; I should be more resilient, or have avoided the situation in the first place. It is not for me to police the personal behavior of others. Edgar Allen Poe was a brilliant writer whose personal life was, to put it mildly, chaotic. Some of my favorite poets, Cavafy, Shelley, Marlow, were hardly admirable in their personal behavior. I don’t say genius excuses bad behavior, but I do say that human life is gloriously varied and various, and while rules and standards are necessary, we can none of us manage someone else’s life.

  140. Suitcasehandle, privatising the commons is one option. Collectivising the cows is another. 🙂

  141. @JMG
    “Valenzuela, harshness doesn’t require incivility, and courtesy is not the same thing as passivity.”

    That’s quite true, though there are some insidious behaviors which blur the line between these things by taking on the outward forms of principled harshness or courtesy while being inwardly uncivil. Passive-aggressiveness is an example of this which I saw a lot of in one of the forums I used to frequent.

    I think the the idea for a common ground between civility and harshness has altogether disappeared from much of modern discourse, where half the people say you shouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings ever while the other half insists that they should be allowed to say whatever they please and if you’re insulted that just means you need to grow a thicker skin.

    I hadn’t thought of chivalry as an example of this—the first potential example that came to mind was the cleansing of the temple as described in the Bible—but it is just the sort of thing I was thinking of.

    @Mary Bennett
    ” I would add that I think it is to be used rarely, and only as a means of self defense, after someone else has crossed clearly marked boundaries, and then only after an array of polite formulae, such as I can’t help you with that and I don’t have an answer for that question have been relentlessly ignored.”

    Yes, I was thinking much the same thing. As with physical violence, self-defense is the clearest example of a case where it’s warranted to be more “hard-spoken”.

  142. @Karim
    “Could it be that the decline of polite and respectful conversation, somehow parallels the decline of civilisations?
    For instance I have recently noticed that as soon as I deviate from mainstream ideas, I get branded a conspirationist which puts a term to any further discussions. It seems that the mainstream gets less and less tolerant to deviations from approved ideas as our decline of our civilisation accelerates”

    I don’t think it is a function of decline, but rather a function of cognitive dissonance. When a majority of people are trying to convince themselves of the truth of a belief system (i.e. progress) that is increasingly in conflict with reality, then dissent becomes threatening and intolerable. It’s similar to the way that truly devout, secure religious believers tend to be peaceful and tolerant people while insecure believers – or those whose belief is in conflict with some aspect of their behavior – tend to be angry and intolerant.

    I am hopeful that as more people escape from the religion of Progress, polite conversation can make a comeback even as the decline of civilization continues.

  143. Kenan Filan @125, Again, Vienna. Freud from Vienna. A generation of leftists radicalized in Vienna, and then went on to Spain. Conservative Catholic writers, the late John Lukacs and Michael Jones, for examples, exhibit a nostalgia for vanished Austria-Hungary and its’ haute bourgeoisie. That astonishes me; from what I can tell, the best that can be said for the later Hapsburgs is that they meant well. One hears incessantly of Paris between the wars, but I begin to wonder if, in terms of intellectual history, 20thC Vienna was not far more important.

    I am not feeling sorry for Disney. I always hated what they did to traditional folk stories, and their cute animal vibe provoked a plague of sticky, icky sentimentality which culminated in the unreadable Steven Cosgrove fiction for children. All Cosgroves were banished from my house. My complaint about the movie business in general is why can’t they write their own stories? Movie makers mine other people’s work and then expect to be congratulated for “creativity”.

  144. I recently read a book by British author Yahtzee Croshaw entitled “Differently Morphous”. It’s a very funny and very thoughtful murder mystery. Shoggoths (the preffered term is “fluidics”) cross over into our realm seeking asylum, and the once secret Ministry of Occultism must deal with visibility and political correctness with ever-changing linguistic rules. It does an excellent job of walking the line between validating the positive intents of PC rules (being respectful and resisting prejudice based on biological category) while poking fun at the resulting absurdities (demonic possession must be referred to as “dual consciousness”!). Add in freelance Yorkshire monster hunters, an inclusion and diversity consultant, and the demands of Downing Street. It’s a fun read, and it features fluidics, so I thought of JMG’s Weird of Hali the whole time. I guess the shoggies are getting some time in the sun in the popular imagination, which they are sorely due, given that they lack morphic privilege. 😉

  145. For Caledon @ 127

    “In Las Vegas he’s a legitimate businessman. You look him up next time you’re there. He’ll be your pal.

    “Not too likely. I don’t like hoodlums.

    “That’s just a word, Marlowe. We have that kind of world. Two wars gave it to us and we are going to keep it.”

    From The Long Goodbye, Ch 3. Interesting that Chandler put that thought into the mouth of the amoral charmer, Terry Lennox/Paul Marsden.

  146. Thank you for this post and for the moderation on all posts! You focus here on the more directly performative aspect of blog moderation, though you note that the informative and performative aspects of speech are intertwined. I like the open posts, but I also very much appreciate the “on-topic” aspect of moderation, which seems to be one of the intertwinings.

    I have mentioned that some time before finding the ADR, I had followed Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blog on theatlantic.com until its extinction, almost purely for the pleasure of reading a strongly moderated forum where off-topic comments were mercilessly deleted. In between Ta-Nehisi blog’s and yours, I used to read quite a lot on crookedtimber.org, but arguments there were more and more derailed by a very simple tactic: whatever the original post was on, science-fiction, money or war, somebody would post a “rightist” or “republican” opinion, or somebody would mention some such opinion, and from that point on 90% of the commenters would fall into a ritual and repetitive lashing-out at that heresy. Sometimes the pattern was varied by one poster extolling the virtues of the Soviet Union, and all others rehashing arguments against state communism. The moderators never deleted such comments or banned commenters.

    In other words, in addition to profanity, straw men etc., the simple posting of an off-topic comment may be enough to destroy the common value an on-topic discussion would have for everybody. You are actually more tolerant of some off-topic comments nowadays, especially late in the week, than you used to be, but I think this is because the majority of commenters here have become accustomed to staying on topic.

  147. Lew, in the immortal words of Frederick Frankenstein, “It…could—WORK!”

    Tommy, you’re welcome and thank you.

    Christopher, hmm! That may be something going weird with the WordPress software.

    Your Kittenship, now that you have a blog of your own, you’ll learn otherwise… 🙁

    Abraham, that’s another great example of the tragedy of the commons. There is no incentive for individuals to put in the hard work needed to make the garden thrive, since freeloaders get the same share of the produce as those who put in the effort. Thus most people don’t bother. This is why the Soviet Union collapsed, by the way, and it’s the bane of all Communist and anarchist economic schemes. My advice? Quit the garden and find another. As long as that ideology remains in place it’s going to be hopelessly dysfunctional, and any energy you put into it will be wasted.

    Chuaquin, yep. We have the same problem on this side of the pond.

    Wesley, too funny! Thanks for this.

    Lincoln, my guess is that we’re fairly close to the end of the woke era. It’s becoming very clear to businesses, which after all exist to make a profit, that catering to the woke is a great way to lose customers and telling the wokesters to go kiss a duck is a great way to gain them.

    Karim, I think you’re on to something important here. In particular, the more that communication is hedged about by taboos and restrictions about what can’t be said in public, the more certain you can be that problems are mounting up and solutions aren’t available…

    CS2, one lesson worth learning from folklore is that you really can walk away. My post on that topic back on The Archdruid Report still strikes me as one of the best things I’ve written.

    Danielle, excellent! Yes, exactly — you can’t defend either side of the fake economic binary that dominates modern thought, once the commons is brought up.

    Justin, I wish. There are good studies of specific ideas in history, but every attempt at a general history of ideas I’ve seen was horribly tendentious.

  148. churrundo,

    My take is that what Scott calls “Moloch” is not an egregore: it’s simply the fact that reality doesn’t care about what we want. I prefer its original name: Azathoth, the blind idiot god, Lord of All Things.

  149. churrundo,

    Actually, thinking about it, perhaps Moloch is more Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos. IIRC there are some Mythos sources that suggest that Nyarlathotep is an aspect of Azathoth, which suggests it’s the apparent pattern of cruelty in the reality of utter indifference.

    This also ties in with the post “The Goddess of Everything Else”: what Scott missed is that the Goddess of Cancer and the Goddess of Everything Else are two aspects of the same goddess, and so neither can ever truly vanquish the other. (Instead, he unfortunately opted for a very Manichean take.)

  150. Gotcha! Thanks @JMG. I can see how that might be the case.

    I think the Fairness Doctrine is also a good idea and worthy of being brought back into the media and its social media extension. I’m very much in favor of the circulation of ideas 🙂

    @JillN ~ perhaps I should start stamping my comments with UTC time and links to timezone difference calculators! Cheers.

  151. Mr. Greer,

    Excellent points all around. This is one of the few online spaces where I read through the comments!

    I am inspired by Eric Cole – Is there anyone on this board interested in weekly discussions using the Ecosophia blog as a staring point? I’m in the general South Seattle area.

    cheers,
    Lothar

  152. @JMG – I guess the obvious follow up question then becomes; will woke-ism get tossed in the bin before too much damage is done?

    I would hate to see a youth movement fueled by distorted views on racism and sexism because the wokesters drove those conversations underground in the 2020s.

  153. Dear Miss Patricia-

    on the contrary–NO! i am eternally GRATEFUL for my childhood finally and fully, as of THIS YEAR.

    everything is an experiment and as an artist, i see how I WAS the experiment, too. so instead of playing helpless victim to it, how can i see what the intention was (as with Jefferson and the Constitution’s IDEALS vs. reality)?

    being mixed, a blend (as we truly all are), i know that purity and separation and TIME and endings and beginnings are all myths.

    being an experiment and being on the business end of others’ assumptions, “good intentions,” hubris, and naivte–while also being OF the bougie class and being taught the theatre of self entitlement and being alpha– has enabled me to even wonder how to BLEND different ideas, ideals, realities, and to figure out unasked questions.

    i haven’t the TIME to properly answer you here as this is actually what i’m thinking of writing on for my OWN clarification– but i wanted to leave you with a better impression than “my childhood sucked/i’m rebelling against it.”

    that’s too… dare i say… “pat.” (smile)

    but no! i even recently wrote a love letter to my original family to thank them for EVERYTHING because i know the hearts and souls of people more and i made it out and life is… DANGEROUS. i said please feel NO regret regarding me because i’m fine and more than fine. we just can’t be together because we’re like a family of wild wolves not intended to cuddle around fireplaces at christmas.

    they made me strong vulnerable and free to speak my mind.

    my mother struggled to punish me when i was a tiny kid because i’d defiantly tell her the truth and she wanted to raise a bad ass who questioned authority because she said otherwise it’s dangerous that as an American i would never fight back or for anything… she just wasn’t prepared when i’d question her own authority.

    we’re all we’re each doing the best we can. my parents and their parents …we’re all practically children even when we die in our 100s.

    i am not tossing out the original IDEALS of “Feminism.” fairness for ALL— including men– black white any color any class. that means to me they get to BE men that we don’t colonize their gender so we can mine their semen, inseminate ourselves or take their visiting rights away, and tell THEM how to be Better Men.

    i’m no longer into elegant stoic white butch women because they LET their own kill them off and make them an anachronism. butch women were …no words. the elegance of a butch woman going into a women’s room in the airport and coming out with a straight face of elegance?

    WOW. what power. / THAT’s why i cannot belong to butches anymore. they used to be about being themselves regardless of the world’s permission or acceptance. it was on their own terms and they refined their own character intensity and soul with such focus care and elegance.

    and they’d love US with the same lessons of openness.

    now: GONE./ that’s why i belong to those who are FORCED to live that elegance now and on the low. black men.

    it’s beyond color race and feminism. but they’re EACH included.

    so i’m not throwing OUT “feminism.” i’m seeing it’s shtick now. a power play. my JOB as an artist is to throw my body into reality and see what’s theory (b.s.) and what’s REAL. and then report back.

    i cannot “talk” unless it’s to ask the next dangerous question that makes all hell break loose and get the cops called on me and kicked out of the YMCA when they ask me to “tone it down” because i make white women uncomfortable.

    i’m saying this entire SYSTEM is unholy and i don’t believe in tweaks fixes and authoritarian regimes.

    i’m saying my creative act is to now LOVE as a verb. without trying to get an ego hit scratch an itch, but to blow my beloved’s MIND about what is even POSSIBLE.

    if you ever saw me and my eyes, you’d know i live in a different world, and you’d either avoid me or wanna cuddle me. if you’ve been near death you wanna cuddle; if you’re still holding in your stomach and whistling past graveyards you will run screaming from me.

    but as for regret? are you kidding? after seeing how weak everyone is around me and their visions of The Good and Safe Life, more and more i feel like i’ve lived the most perfect fairy tale i could’ve possibly chosen from the other side if i’d had even a smidgen of choice.

    i think what i went through would’ve made most people insane, but i was saved by LOVE. no lie. i’m not even talking Jesus stuff. there is more love on the low than up on high with all that success. more honor among scrappers than the wealthy.

    nah. Miss Patricia pity me not. don’t even envy me. i sign up for who i am over and over again and i pay the consequences gladly now that i see i’ve see magic and beauty in rot and pain and ugliness… and always have.

    even if i have the most gruesome death, i’ve had enough pain to know it’ll also likely be beautiful once the “pinch” passes. (smile)

    i see the pain loss and confusion and rage in white women. that’s why i don’t TRUST them. they are eating their own feet and refuse to stop and try another way.

    one year i was dancing at Carnaval here in the mission, mad hard for my drummer among a line of ’em. and this white woman got inspired and started to dance for HER own drummer, some white cat she felt comfortable in front of in a line of spanish folks. she STARTS to let go, as she wants so desperately to go where I’VE gone in my dance: into the spirit.

    she wants to get LOST.

    so she starts dancing to her drummer and just when she can FLY, she catches herself and stops and drops to the floor and starts touching the guy’s drum skin and talking to him about how smooth it is and he starts laughing because HE KNOWS what she’s doing: she’s gotta intellectualize it all now because if she goes into “animal” mode, she will feel insane for dropping at a man’s FEET as she did with her drummer.

    it was gorgeous. but she caught herself and started chattering.

    it was tragic.

    because i learned this by watching my alpha mother ruin her men AND BUTCH WOMEN, then toss them out when they were used up boring and weak:

    ALL TRULY STRONG ALPHA WOMEN CRAVE IN THEIR SOUL SOMEONE ANYONE WORTHY OF BOWING AND SURRENDERING THEMSELVES TO.

    not being weak. surrender doesn’t mean being weak. hardly. try it and watch WHO runs. it’s actually my own test so i don’t waste time with people.

    but it’s NOT weakness fo’ sho. / THAT’s all i know. it’s new to me and i’m just testing this “getting on my knees on public” thing out so i cannot speak much on that. i just know that no one who’s EVER seen me or even loved me would EVER in a million decades call me “weak.” / even though i’m a total pussy and i’m proud of it now.

    so how do you bow before someone’s holiness and bring that out in EACH OTHER without the typical “let me break your spirit first!” power games???

    it’s an adventure and i have to be WILLING to have my heart broken and come back from it without it being sadomasochistic “shtick,” as happens with so many of our …broken parts. they become indulgent habits instead of MATERIAL to transcend.

    this is tantra to me. taking what doesn’t serve you or anyone and just re-directing it re-adjusting it so it points more to be beneficial.

    it’s about original values so you know what direction you’re going in and what’s acceptable and okay.

    any “-ism” that denies any segment of the population is not okay with ME based on the old saw about them coming for the gypsies first and then no one being there for ME because i never spoke out.

    men protect ME, literally and figuratively, and have all my life. if you eradicate them, you eradicate the outgoing aggressive sexy outgoing dancing life force in ME and others.

    but nah. my “bad” childhood was an adventure and has given me more empathy and experiences than anyone almost anyone i’ve ever met. i envy no one. but it’s also why i’m okay with others struggling through things and attaining goals and having adventures.

    but that means people will go too far, make mistakes, say the wrong thing, feel up the wrong thing, the wrong person, and this culture now is based on safety as if we’re so fragile we will die if we don’t feel safe and are triggered.

    trigger! i’m all about TRIGGERS. run up to ’em so you have something interesting to DO next in life to get past ’em so you don’t look away anymore and see what’s on the other side of terror pain ugliness.

    i learned this mostly from men. we all suffer when we domesticate what is wild beautiful and free in each other to feel safe and keep our minds from being blown.

    it is time for blown minds again. that can only happen off the magic phones and in the real world, and that’s what i’ve been trained to do my entire life. i couldn’t have become this without being privy to the secret inner wishes and realities of the dream fantasy of Feminism.

    don’t toss out–

    “transcend and INCLUDE.” –wasn’t this Ken Wilbur?

    x

  154. Ah, you can tell an internet communist by how much they hate the idea of the Tragedy of the Commons, shriek that that’s not how it works, and then quote some wordy thing by Marx that doesn’t actually say anything. And then I point out the litter in a public park, and watch the mental gymnastics as they blame that on capitalism somehow. The next step is to say that since I’m a terrible racist, clearly I want the system to continue. It’s never the cows I’d worry about. It’s the cads and bounders. It’s the kegger. It’s the people who think they’ll only live to 28, and have nothing to lose. It’s the ones who find cows and have the barbecue, when the cows weren’t theirs.

    I ask the questions that others are too polite to bring up. There’s always an elephant in the room that I can see, and will point out. That elephant is my dang spirit animal.

    They changed the rules recently so one can be condemned for asking the wrong questions. Not stupid questions, as those are always welcome, but questions that reveal that you know too much about a particular thing. My parents are veterinarians and I know a lot about ivermectin. Ivermectin was recently associated with Qanon, and thus was taboo to bring up in polite conversation. There’s a demon of forbidden knowledge but I forget his name. Starts with ‘B.’

    There is an awful lot of wasted space that would make good grazing land. We’ve got GPS and soon we’ll have apps for it. Every HOA will have its herd of goats or flock of geese taken care of by some kids and fed at the barn next to the community center. Pity that 4H isn’t more popular. No need to keep this stuff to the countryside. Maybe gas shortages this summer will spark the change.

    https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/27/business/summer-gasoline-shortage/index.html

  155. Dear CS2,

    Many thanks for your perspective. For what it’s worth, I am sympathetic towards your experiences. I spent many years of my life similarly suicidal, although for different reasons. What you wrote all makes sense. I wrote of my thoughts on the flags on churches in more detail on my blog a few weeks ago: https://violetcabra.dreamwidth.org/118187.html

    To sum up a little of what I wrote, basically, what I find disturbing aren’t the trad rainbow flags so much but the new rainbow flags that have black and brown stripes and other bizarre design features. That said, I really benefit from you sharing your story. Again, thank you.

  156. Maha is a fantastic word! More importantly it’s a great sound to vibrate in certain instances. Violet is right about its general translation into English as great but there is so much more coolness-factor to it than what the English translation indicates!

    Dharma, for example is a compound with Ma as the second half. Dhar-‘to uphold’. Ma (of Maha) – “the Great Mother”. It’s closest sense in English would be “to uphold the Limitless in the Great Mother of one’s nature”.

    Whenever something is going beyond human capability to sense via the 5 senses it’s heading toward Maha – the Limitless, the No-Boundaries-Found. That’s why Shiva is referred to as Maha-Deva – That for which no limit can be found.

    So there can be certain yogic practices where one might wish to daily pronounce Maha as a way to further subtle-ize or accomplish certain aims. I wouldn’t do it DIY though right out of the gate until I’d had at least a 1.5 – 2 decades minimum of sounding outloud AUM 3x daily.

    And of the significance of AUM? What are the sounds a human can make when born with no tongue? Mouth fully open – aaaaaaaa, mouth 50% closed – ooooooooo, mouth completely shut – mmmmmm. Or as it’s written in short-notation form in Sanskrit – Om. Aramaic puts an “n” sound at the end of many words. So what does the Vatican say at the end of every prayer? AUM-N. Amen. ….Aaaaaa-ooooooo-mmmmm…(Aramaic-fied version adds)…Nnnnnnnn.

    Sadhguru says whenever a Realized Being sits within the depths of his own silence he literally hears this sound ringing from his own body – Aaaaaaaooooooommmmm. AUM. The cosmic sound. It has a huge healing effect on ordinary people suffering from depressions, anxieties, nightmares, etc. There are apparently published medical papers showing pro athletes gain benefits from daily utterance too! It’s a practice that leads to causeless joyfulness. That is, joyfulness from one’s own subtle-izing nature shining through ever more easily. If that goes on long enough due to daily outloud utterance practice it can have spillover effects into gradually making one’s outer circumstances more joyful as well – because something within you is subtly beginning to come into alignment with the ‘Great Mother’ of the myriad 10,000-things variety of natures (Maha). Or as Sadhguru put it one day: Pleasantness within and pleasantness around.

    Just like our monitors can show all colors from just 3 – Red/Green/Blue in varying proportions, the same is done with all sounds humans make in every human language. All are shaped by different placement of the tongue on the palate and teeth and modifying proportions of air.

    Also, it gives a sense of why its called Maha-Samadhi (Buddhism calls it Maha-Parinirvana). To attain to one’s own true ultimate, limitless Maha-Nature. It’s a very kick-butt word. 🙂

  157. Another way to think of curtesy and manners is they’re the oil in the machinery of civilization.

    Without them, we regress quickly into poo-flinging monkeys looking for reasons to kill each other.

  158. @ Mary Bennett, #158, thank you for the reference! Richard Weaver was the first author I read who explicitly cited WW2 as causing a large decline in American spiritual values. And since it overlaps with our rise to assume the Hegemony, it’s interesting to me. Meteoric rise, possibly meteoric fall.

  159. Wanted to add a little something from my earlier sentence

    because something within you is subtly beginning to come into alignment with the ‘Great Mother’ of the myriad 10,000-things variety of natures (Maha)

    The very fact that there are “10,000-things” as Lao Tzu put it is a display of Maha’s no-limits-to-its-possibilities, no-boundary-ness.

    Or as Swami Mukundananda once put it: “The Supreme Lord possesses innumerable contradictory attributes at the same time.”

    One doesn’t have to be religious or spiritually-inclined to see Mother Nature’s sometimes baffling contradictory-ness everywhere.

    Apologies, JMG for going off-essay but someone asked and I get quite enthused about the topic of Maha. Especially if the information can help people lead more joyful lives. It seems like much of the U.S. and even many other countries could do with pick-me-ups instead of so much angry insults one finds online these days (not here, thank goodness).

  160. Helix #148, how was that article any different to the bile often directed here at the ‘myth of progress’? It also seems to me there’s a difference between ‘the tragedy of the commons’ and ‘robbed blind by the powerful’. If Vikings raid a monastery too often – before it can be fully restocked – is this ‘over-raiding’ a tragedy of the commons?

  161. @Darkest Yorkshire #153: …And co-operativizing the commons is a third…

  162. John I just read the post about walking away. I do think it is one of the best posts you have written
    We talk a lot here and I think a lot about issues like the tragedy of the commons or the end result of our unsustainable way of living. And yet there is a bind.

    “In practice, those who walk away are as often as not weeping hysterically, torn between the fear of giving up everything they know and the knowledge that leaving is the only choice left for them, and trying without much success not to listen to the taunts or feel the stones flung by those who stay behind.”

    That is a most empathetic and human answer. The escape hatch is not easy or simple. Its quite harrowing. Many times I have been brought back due to shame or fear of isolation or because my efforts were naive and could not sustain me. Every time I learn though and each time I can despair or choose a not innocent hope, wisdom and increased empathy for myself and others. I still am working on leaving after having returned. This time feels much more sturdy and I am much more willing to learn from others and have patience. And it still may fail but I am having a good time anyway.

  163. JMG, I have quoted this in a comment before, but it is even more appropriate here:

    “Consider the difference between common rights and human rights. First, common rights are embedded in a particular ecology with its local husbandry. Human rights are not. That is why they can so easily be rendered universal. For commoners, the expression from chapter 39, “law of the land,” refers not to the will of the sovereign. Commoners first think not of title deeds, but human deeds: how will this land be tilled? Does it require manuring? What grows there? They begin to explore. It is almost a natural attitude. Second, commoning is embedded in a labor process; it inheres in a particular praxis of field, upland, forest, marsh, coast. Common rights are entered into by labor. They belong to experience not schooling. Third, commoning is a collective endeavor as depicted, for example, in the many paintings of gleaning the harvest. Fourth, commoning, being independent of the state, is independent also of the temporality of the law and state. It’s much older.”

    Personally, I would add, what I think this passage only hints at… that the expression “law of the land” might, in other times and places, have actually conjured the land itself as the maker of law.

    The passage quoted is from an article by Peter Linebaugh, published in 2003 in the Boston Revew of Books, summarising some of the ideas in his own book on the Magna Carta, and the British history of commoning, here https://bostonreview.net/books-ideas/peter-linebaugh-secret-history-magna-carta.

    The goodreads entry on his book, The Magna Carta Manifesto, is here https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2258813.The_Magna_Carta_Manifesto

  164. And on the commons itself – with several slaps at Hardin’s beliefs in related matters – “https://aeon.co/essays/the-tragedy-of-the-commons-is-a-false-and-dangerous-myth?utm_source=pocket-newtab”

  165. @pygmycory (#95)

    You might also notice that Revenue Canada now allows an income tax deduction for the cost of digital news feed.

  166. JMG: Courtesy is probably considered “white” now. Especially when used along with “chivalry” which brings to mind the Knights and Ladies of Old Europe. What Wokester wants anything to do with that?

    Joy Marie

  167. Lady Cutekitten says: I started a blog, which started the whole world reading…or so I hope! Drop by and say Hello! https://cutekitten.dreamwidth.org/303.html

    Hello Lady Cutekitten! Oh boy, another blog to follow…must find more time (sigh). I hope you will post plenty of cutesy animal pix on your blog! I agree that’s much more interesting than a monthly aorta posting. (Huh? I hear everyone say…check out the Lady’s first post!) Unfortunately, I can’t comment on your blog, as it doesn’t allow anonymous comments, and I’m not sure I want to sign up for one more account and remember one more password. I’ll have to mull it over some before I take the plunge into Dreamwidth, ‘cause if I set up an account, then I’ll be tempted to blog, and where would I find the time for that?

    Good luck with blogging, and I hope your aorta isn’t as tortuous as it sounds!

    Joy Marie

  168. John, I just reread the article you linked to in your response to CS2. This bit stuck out to me: “Professionals know that the curses that matter are the kind that unfold by their own inexorable logic from the actions and attitudes of the accursed. The witch or wizard who finds it necessary or appropriate to pronounce a curse doesn’t have to make anything happen; he or she simply says aloud the unmentionable realities of the situation, states the necessary consequences, and leaves.”

    Is “get woke go broke” an example of such a curse?

  169. @ Denis, comment # 134

    I have been a Star Wars fan since I was a little kid who saw the original at the local movie theater more than a dozen times when it first came out. The only Disney Star Wars movie I liked was Rogue One, which was a conscious attempt to go back to the feel and storyline of the original trilogy. With any luck, the Woke Trilogy and other Kathleen Kennedy abortions like Solo will be retconned out of canon and quietly forgotten as if they were just a bad dream.

    Your adult children’s reaction to Woke Star Wars reminds me of how a lot of Star Trek fans reacted when the first J.J. Abrams Star Dreck film came out. That was another classic SF media franchise ruined by Disney. My girlfriend at the time and I went to go see it at the movie theater and were pretty underwhelmed. Lots of splashy special effects and ridiculously over-the-top product placement combined with awful storytelling and truly horrible portrayals of iconic characters like Kirk, Spock and Scotty.

    When we got home, we went online to a whole bunch of science fiction discussion forums and Star Trek fan sites and were struck by how many Star Trek fans hated the new “reboot”, complete with denunciations of J.J. Abrams as “Jar Jar Abrams”, a nickname he earned from his role in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

    I have found that most of the watchable Star Wars and Star Trek films in recent years have been low-budget fan made videos produced by small groups of people, often with crowdsourced funding, and posted on sites like YouTube. In some respects, they remind me of the Golden Age of SF, where science fiction was widely viewed in Hollywood as a marginally profitable genre without mass appeal. SF films were generally characterized by tight budgets and so producers, directors, script writers, set designers and makeup artists had to be creative and operate within strict resource constraints. That changed after the original Star Wars movie came out and sci-fi films started moving towards the Hollywood block-buster model of production. So in some respects the low budget fan films represent science fiction filmmaking returning to it roots.

  170. @Silthy Toves I am unfamiliar with the Cthulhu mythos (I barely recognize the names, lol) but I agree. I kind of used the word egregore somewhat loosely. What I’m most familiar with is hermetic cabala, so in those terms I would say that Scott’s trying to talk about Chokmah and Binah, but (i’d guess because of his cold rationalism) he’s actually looking at Netzach and Hod, the most manifested forms of the same creator and limiting principles. It even checks out that he considers Hod the “good” goddess of order and coordination, with his fervent devotion to rationality. One more thing I just realized, I think I remember Nyarlatothep as the expression of Hod in the Lovecraftian Tree of Life that our host uploaded to dreamwidth a while ago, right? I remember him described as the devil at the crossroads. Perhaps he offers a deal to humanity in the form of technological advancement at the cost of a severe deviance from a more naturally balanced way of life… Anyways, thanks for the food for thought

  171. Steve T, thank you! That’s a very apt metaphor.

    Kenaz, interesting. That’s very different from my recollection of Marcuse’s concept; when he spoke of “repressive tolerance” I thought he was talking about how awful it was that the establishment of his day didn’t persecute academic Marxists like him, but simply rolled its collective eyes and let them chatter. He noted, quite correctly, that this was an effective way to keep anyone else from paying attention to them. The fusion of Freudian and Marxist thought, on the other hand — yes, that’s played a huge role in creating the dysfunctional beliefs of the present; I recently gagged my way through Reich’s The Mass Psychology of Fascism and could see how its mistakes have cascaded right down to the present.

    Caledon, empire is a nasty drug. It messed over England good and proper, and then messed over the United States in much the same way.

    Denis, good question. Within the limits of my Aspergers syndrome, limiting my work to spaces where I can control the level of discourse is basically the one workable option, but I have no idea whether that would be true for someone with different neurology.

    Neptunesdolphins, thanks for this. You’re right, of course, that it’s already failing.

    Madfedor, many thanks for this. If you’re right that courtesy is slowly recovering from war, well, maybe it’s time to give it some assistance.

    Neptunesdolphins, hmm! That’s very good to hear.

    Denis, hah! I’m very pleased to hear this.

    Jarle, I’ll want to see if Naess’ book exists in a good English translation; if so, it might be well worth getting into circulation here.

    Deadnotsleeping, I wish I knew. I tend to avoid such contexts anyway. Anyone else?

    Christopher, that’s one of those challenging issues that can only be resolved on a case-by-case basis. When somebody does a really good job of resolving it in a particular case, we use words like “genius.”

    Chris, I’ve noticed the same thing. There’s an immense coarsening of categories going on, rather reminiscent of Orwell’s Newspeak — a thing is good or it’s ungood, and no subtler distinction is welcome.

    Great Khan of Potlucks, I had no idea. Synchronicity strikes again!

    Jasper, juvenilization as a tool of control was discussed in science fiction a good half century ago — does anyone else resemble Jack Williamson’s “Humanoids” stories? The concept is worth exploring.

    Suitcasehandle, er, like most libertarians, you’re distorting the meaning of the commons and stretching the concept of private property to fit your argument. To say that something is a commons does not mean that it’s free to everyone — a village commons is by definition only for the use of inhabitants of the village. Is it private property? A villager does not have the right to sell or transfer his share of the commons; most definitions of private property include the right of sale or some other form of transfer. A villager does not have the right to use his share of the commons as he wishes — all he can do is pasture two cows on it; most definitions of private property presuppose that the owner can use the property as he wishes. A commons is a third category of property, neither public nor private but intermediate between these two more common categories; that’s why it makes such a useful tool for understanding the problems and possibilities of both public and private property.

    You may be right that polycentric law is the wave of the future, not least because it’s the normal legal form during dark ages. For the moment, though, I’m going to restrict my lawgiving to those people who want to participate in this and the handful of other forums I run!

    Patricia M, that’s pretty good! As for Whose Body, it’s a fun book, too.

    Skyrider, that would be entertaining. Me, I’d turn both the Empire and the Republic into sprawling, dysfunctional hegemonies brandishing their own vacuous slogans, locked into a struggle that keeps both of them propped up, each one in a state of permanent internal struggle between competing power centers, while half a dozen other groups of power centers position themselves to contend for power once the two big hegemonies fall. Meanwhile your Disintegrationists are finding enthusiastic listeners on some planets but not on others, and you also have individual planets where many people are looking forward to de facto independence all by themselves — and finally, alongside the Jedi and the Sith, you have dozens of smaller orders, each with its own distinctive concept of the realm that the Jedi and Sith call “the force,” each able to do things that none of the others can do while having their own sharp limits as well. But to each their own space fantasy… 😉

    Helix, thanks for this.

    Churrundo, interesting. I’m not a fan of Ginsberg’s poetry — Howl is one of the most self-indulgent excuses for verse I think I’ve ever read — but Alexander does something thoughtful with it, which is impressive.

    Ssincoski, true enough! There’s a certain mercy in that, however, because people without patience can rarely do much damage.

    Valenzuela, I know it’s an unfamiliar idea, but that’s all the more reason to explore it now.

    Mr. Water Bunny, that’s seriously funny. I’m not sure why I never thought of “shoggies” — probably because Brecken Kendall, for all her attempts at light-heartedness, is too serious a person. 😉

    Matthias, as far as I know this is the first time I’ve ever been compared to Ta-Nehisi Coates! Yes, I allow my commentariat a little more leeway than I did, because they’ve shown that they can handle it. If it becomes a problem I’ll start feeding more off topic posts to the shoggoths.

  172. Justin, glad to hear it. It’s an idea that needs more publicity, certainly.

    Lothar, thank you.

    Ben, that hasn’t been decided yet. We’ll just have to see.

    Jerry, he has indeed. I’ve got him on my list of news bookmarks.

    Womensatlasrc, keep in mind that Marxism is a fundamentalist Christian heresy and capitalism is its version of Satan, and you’ll be able to predict everything a Marxist will say and do…

    Teresa, nicely summarized.

    Danielle, walking away is simple, but it’s not easy. The truly simple things never are.

    Scotlyn, many thanks for this! Apropos indeed.

    Patricia M, well, of course…

    Joy, doubtless, but I never did manage to care what other people think!

    Valenzuela, indeed it is. Glad to see you’re paying attention.

  173. JMG said

    Caledon, empire is a nasty drug. It messed over England good and proper, and then messed over the United States in much the same way.

    I recall that Oswald Spengler talked quite a lot in Volume II of the Decline of the West about the toxic effects that imperialism has on societies whose elites succumb to its lure.

  174. Steve,
    I’ve never made enough money to pay income tax, so I hadn’t noticed.

  175. @erikalopez

    Much respect! You are very wise, and everything you write makes perfect sense.

  176. @Joy Marie – there is a place where chivalry rules, and the Knights and Ladies of Old Europe are the role models.

    Yours from the Barony of An Crosaire in the Kingdom of Trimaris. If you’re around in late January, come and visit our annual festival (canceled last year due to The Great Plague)

    https://hoggetownefaire.weebly.com/

  177. @JMG – “resemble?” Or “remember?” You better believe I remember those stories. I still wonder why the robots left Frank alone. Or was he a “useful idiot?” Remember? If you’re in an old folks’ home, you’re probably living it!

  178. @Galen and @Oilman2 Yes it’s the same with Harry Potter. I don’t think they’ll ever finish those Fantastic Beasts movies, I thought I heard there were supposed to be 5? People are upset at JK Rowling for her opinions and upset that the franchise isn’t woke enough.

    We caught a very off Broadway show a few years back called Puffs. The story centers around Hufflepuff house and their desire to come in third each year for the house contests. There’s some improv in it, some singing, and lots of slap dash humor. Very low budget. Hysterically funny if you know the HP story though. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1sX-82TvTk

    There’s also an independently produced HP parody musical on YouTube with 17 million views https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmwM_AKeMCk that my kids love. The group who produced it crowd raised funds and went on to do more shows. Its really quite brilliant the creativity out there.

  179. Delete this if you feel it’s off topic.

    Oooh. Whose Body. That autopsy scene is stunningly gruesome, particularly since it was written back in 1923. Stephen King would be impressed. The characters in that scene are very courteous to the widow and what she’s enduring.

    Bill’s been a longtime fan of Dorothy Sayers and has done extensive annotations of Sayer’s mystery novels. She was a supremely well-educated woman and she showed it. Regrettably, most of us don’t know ancient Greek or quote Shakespeare as well as her.

    So we at Peschel Press have an annotated version of Whose Body! Go to https://peschelpress.com/complete-annotated-whose-body/

    In addition, Bill has been slowly (over decades) working his way through the rest of Sayer’s novels. He’s complied extensive annotations, from large to small.

    If you want to look up something from Gaudy Night (the densest) or the others, including Whose Body, go here:

    https://planetpeschel.com/the-wimsey-annotations/

  180. @Oilman2

    Concerning Hog control ..

    Dude! That’s what the watch’botdogs are all about .. hell, even the Chinese are now in on it!

    There’s your dynamics right there … ‘;]

  181. @ clay dennis
    #3

    You said that many topics are completely off-limits, and gave “alternate versions of the ‘Capitol Insurrection’” as one example.

    I’m curious about that topic. Could you perhaps outline what you consider the alternate versions to be – one sentence for each version? For each version could you suggest a website or some posted articles I could go to for more information/supporting data for that version? Unless perhaps there are alternate versions but no information is available???

    Before posting this I checked to see whether someone else had asked this question before me but I didn’t find that. I did find your second post where you said “the current style of trash ‘journalism’ headlines. I see these on the horrible news feeds that google chrome puts across my screen that I have not been able to get rid of. I think everyone is familiar with them.” I use Google Chrome on a Windows 10 desktop computer and I see no news headlines – just an open space where I insert my search topics. There must be some way to turn it off.

  182. A Commons implies people , culturally similar meeting for discussion, debate, comraderie. America is a 1000 different tribes, each seeking their own ends. Polite discussion and commonality have hit the vanishing point. There is no center. Yeats saw it 100 years ago, it cannot hold.

  183. Galen, he did indeed. There’s a reason why Spengler was the favorite historian of the Beat poets and writers — and it’s the same reason why he’s been erased from collective memory today…

    Patricia M, I do indeed remember — and no, I never figured that one out either.

    Dennis, medieval Britain was more than a thousand small villages, each of which had its own commons. The center doesn’t have to hold for individual tribes to establish their own conversational commons — and from those, broader networks of communication can grow.

  184. Hi Joy Marie,

    I know Dreamwidth will take anonymous comments because I’ve left them with JMG. I probably just haven’t figured out how to allow them. I’ll mention it here, if JMG doesn’t mind, once I figure it out. He mentioned he loosened up a little on sticking with the topic since we proved we could handle it. (Wow. At this rate, he’ll let us stay out late in time for pool-party season!)

    I may be a bit slow figuring things out, as I’ve been doped up on cough pills and now Benadryl (itchy antibiotic reaction). But I feel much better and am no longer keeping Sonkitten awake with the now-vanished cough. Thanks for all the prayers and good wishes, folks!

  185. @ Denis and the rest of SF fandom on this site:

    One of the coolest non-official Star Wars productions I’ve seen on YouTube wasn’t a low budget fan-made film, but the Darth Revan Symphony. Check it out here.

  186. @ Justin Patrick Moore, #123. I Gargled “Books about the history of ideas,” and quit a few titles popped up. Might be something useful, there. Your mileage may vary. 🙂 Lew

  187. @ Neptunesdolphins, 128. I always liked what John Callahan, the cartoonist who was quadriplegic (due to a cr accident), would say. When people tip-toed around his situation, and finally worked up the nerve to ask how he preferred his situation to be stated, he always deadpanned, “I prefer … maimed.” Lew

  188. We seem to have veered a bit, from the commons to free speech. Something keeps rattling around in my head, and I can’t quit make the connection, if any, to the discussions at hand. “…falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.” Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s opinion, said that, in the United States Supreme Court case Schenck v. United States in 1919, which held that the defendant’s speech in opposition to the draft during World War I was not protected free speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It was, I think, about the limits of free speech.

    As far as naughty language goes, use it rarely, and for effect. And be creative. Years ago, I wrote book reviews for The Daily Olympian, the leading newspaper in our state capitol. They never changed a word of any of my reviews. But I remember one, where I wanted to say “horse apples,” but didn’t think it would fly. So, instead, I used “….what the horse leaves behind.” They printed it, as written. Lew

  189. Mary Bennet–a Chandler quote- cool. Don’t forget though that Marlowe holds the line–he doesn’t like being forced to drink with Eddie Mars, the former bootlegger in The Big Sleep and he won’t shake hands with another former gangster in Payback.

    As for Victorian methods of enforcing the rules of society, there were two levels of “cut”. You could pretend not to see someone, the indirect cut. Or you could look right at them, then turn away and refuse to acknowledge them. This was the more offensive, cut direct. Earlier, of course, men who had been offended or who felt that a lady they were associated with had been insulted, could challenge another to a duel, but this custom died out by mid-century. I suppose announcing that one is blocking someone is the modern cut direct.

    Rita

  190. Hello leveveg @ 28, 126. I am not a relative of your’s. But your comments speak to me.

    First, I see you are hoping that a distant relative in the US sees your message and replies. That seems unlikely on this tiny forum, but there may be a way to be more proactive in your search. Genealogy research may have potential to turn up names, and there is one well known service in the US, ancestry.com, which may be useful. Everything they do is now behind a paywall, but I recall when then their tools and services were more open, and I was impressed with their offerings. DNA testing can now augment document-based genealogy, and I understand that ancestry.com offers services along those lines.

    Still, you are contemplating meeting relatives 6 generations (or more) removed from a shared ancestor, with no intervening contact; ‘Oofdah’ I believe is the Norwegian word that suggests the ambition of your goal.

    While you are searching, you may wish to consider a what amounts to a substitute family, such as a fraternity (e.g. a Sons of Norway chapter), society, club or interest group.

    If I may mention this, I wonder if you have Asperger’s Syndrome (also known in the US as “high functioning autism”). If you are not sure, you may want to learn about it and see if it seems true. It might clarify why you cannot communicate with your family in Norway, and should be taken into account if you identify relatives in this US. I know, as I have Asperger’s Syndrome myself.

    Many blessings to you.

    —Lunar Apprentice.

  191. Hi John,
    Regarding the proliferation of taboo topics: Let’s designate a taboo topic by the abstract T, with the hopeful aim of bypassing the strong feelings that specific T’s may conjure.
    Some people may maintain that the falsity of T is so overwhelmingly demonstrated that even to raise the possibility of not-T is an act of bad faith or worse. Or in terms of this discussion, even to broach not-T is ipso facto performatively discourteous.
    But even if the truth of T is overwhelmingly demonstrated within society as a whole, it is still necessary to instill this conviction within society’s newcomers: children. One way to do this is to engage their reason, to show for example that the assumption of not-T leads to manifest absurdities. (Any student of Geometry 101 has seen this approach used in the proof of various theorems.) The other way is by dogmatic assertion, with appeals to authority coupled with threats, that substitutes fear for reason.
    Now to make use of a relatively safe example: I personally believe that belief in a flat earth is untenable, but from my limited lurking, the Flat Earthers are often treated with tolerance. Flat Earthers raise issues that are the product of both observation and intelligence, and many people find that while they are certain the Earth is round, they really haven’t reasoned their way to this conclusion. If nothing else, one gets a sense of how hard-won knowledge is, and how things were be far from obvious when they were on the edges of discovery. (And another reason to admire the ancient Greeks!) But in today’s world, nothing is politically at stake in maintaining the earth is flat.
    The dogmatic approach is sometimes the product of intense fear. If entertaining not-T exposes you to eternal damnation by its very nature, then you emotionally want to make entertaining not-T unthinkable. But what justifies this belief about not-T? If the absurdity of not-T can be demonstrated, how would not-T have the power to lead any astray? (One answer: if the case against not-T is presented dishonestly.)
    Today, the motivation is more likely to be the coverup of manifest evils. The fate of damnation is contrived by political persecution, rather than resulting from the inherent nature of the belief. More likely the elites are afraid of the damning effects of people learning that the truth of T is far from a settled question.
    BTW, Wired online has an article entitled, “On social media, American-style free speech is dead.” The piece features lawyers and pundits maintaining that “lies” about COVID and other topics are socially harmful, and that societal interest must moderate the informative content (my interpretation). This confident assertion of what constitutes “lies,” when malfeasance and mendacity reigns throughout our institutions is colossal question-begging. And accounting for “societal interest” easily becomes pandering to a degenerate culture.
    The problem underlying the speech commons is cultural collapse. Speech is unmoored from the truth and anchored to power.

  192. JMG, Næss’ “Communication and Argument: Elements Of Applied Semantics” exists in three English editions, as far as I can tell. I’d be interested in looking them up myself when the university library here opens again, most likely in a few weeks’ time. I can report back if I find any of those editions are any good (they all seem to be based on the same translation) – his writing style is sometimes rather stiff, even in the original Norwegian, but I guess that’s what you might expect from a writer whose main academic contribution was an application of mathematical set theory to the problems of language interpretation!

    Another work of Næss’ that I think might have a renaissance is “Gandhi and Group Conflict” – a systematic exposition of Gandhi’s political strategy and tactics. Self-improvement, constructive action and many other ideas in that book provide great inspiration for how to achieve meaningful change. (For a taste of how that book reads, I found a screenshot here: https://pictures.abebooks.com/PAMSPIES/19461811417_4.jpg)

  193. @leveveg #126

    I just sent you a message on your website about the American side of your family. I’m not sure it went through — if it didn’t, let me know and we can figure out some other way to get the information to you. I didn’t think JMG would be too happy if I posted it here — it’s kind of off topic. And I doubt your family would be happy if their info was posted on public forum, either.

  194. Womensatlasrc #169, you’re really making this too easy for me.

    On the far left the combination of Edmund Burke, Thomas Malthus, overpopulation theory, the Tragedy of the Commons, and some interpretations of The Limits to Growth, are regarded as ‘a libel against humanity’. Sort of the ruling class version of the domestic abuser spiel – “You’re weak. Pathetic. Worthless. You’re nothing without me. You need me.” Is it any wonder they respond to it somewhat vigorously?

    And when Thatcher said “You’re on your own, there’s no such thing as society” they’re promoting an attitude of unthinking contempt and disdain (that affects a lot more than littering) because that’s what suits capitalism. Of course they have no moral consistency and will switch to demanding obedience and upright behaviour as soon as it suits them.

    That’s not mental gymnastics, that’s barely even a mental belly flop. 🙂

  195. What is wrong with The Mass Psychology of Fascism? I think I tried to read it once but didn’t get very far.

  196. @Violet,

    Thank you for your reply. I read your post. First of all, I find myself amused that religious institutions have flag poles in the first place. That’s not a thing where I live now, and I guess I had forgotten about that from my home church in the US.

    And the fact that a synagogue might fly a rainbow flag is unthinkable to me. I need to stretch my worldview a bit. Have you seen one on a mosque?

    Also that so many religious institutions are flying rainbow flags; you truly live in another world. We had two Pride flags (the standard ones) hung from cathedral balconies and both were stolen and burnt. Seeing a burnt Pride flag had me jumping at shadows for a few days.

    We have newly legalized gay marriage here (2019) and when the Vatican said it would not bless gay marriages, our Archbishop released a simple statement saying he’d been blessing gay marriages since it legalized and he had no intention of stopping. This was huge to me. Not only was it an open acknowledgment that gay Catholics exist (and thus shouldn’t be shunned by their families) but also that the Church would stick true to Christ’s message regardless of what the Vatican says.

    Anyway, I’ve gone on for too long, but thanks again for your reply. I feel the altered rainbow Pride flags are unnecessary. The brown and black stripes dim the other colors, and the sideways triangle jutting into the flag seems disruptive.

  197. Raymond and JMG, here are three possible candidates for the “spell” cast against the US:

    a) Blowback from 60+ years of using psyops and disinfo campaigns to facilitate regime changes: Your own regime starts to change due to quarreling and cognitive dissonance.
    Pitting people(s) against each other has been the name of the game in the beltway (and by extension, the political establishment) for so long that a bit of magical marmelade would be hard to avoid.

    b) Spook Action Residue from the cold war: As KGB-defector Yuri Bezmenov explained back in the 80’s, the Russians were implanting socially corrosive ideas into the US intelligentsia via its sympathy for left wing philosophy. That seed seems to have kept growing besides the collapse of the SU.
    (Maybe the US should have taken a good long cold shower and applied a hoodoo floor wash after its love affair with that other super power.)

    c) As a friend of mine suggested yesterday, the trope of being cursed for building on an Indian cemetery certainly has some kernel of truth in it. What do you get when you build on all the Indian cemeteries?

    All of the above would effect all of society, the elites as well as main street.

    And there would of course be reasons enough for many folks to cast some actual malignant spells.

  198. @JMG, Thanks for linking Night Thoughts in Hagsgate. That is indeed what I have done!

    For me it was easier because I had no reason to stay. I couldn’t make a living. I was barely keeping my head above water; I was stressed out and exhausted. My blood family was/is unhealthy for me. I have “found family” but they are scattered across the world; there is no one place I could go to be nearer to them.

    Economically, I just couldn’t make it work. When I told people I was emigrating, they tended to assume I just meant for a visit. Then when I explained no, I’m out, forever, bye y’all, they’d get confused and ask why would I go? To which I could only reply, why on earth would I stay?

  199. Dear JMG,
    Allow me to mention two authors (one American and one British).
    Robert Heinlein wrote on his book Friday that a defining characteristic of a dying society is the lack of manners and the rudeness and brahness of language. Being polite is seen as being weak.
    J. M. Barrie on the book Peter Pan says that when Wendy was capured by Captain Hook, she was terrified at what he said and that her fear had grown even larger due to the extremelly polite and corteous way that he talked.

    Perhaps it is time to make a movie where the wanna be revolutionary enters the walls of the castle and finds the Dux Bellorum.
    You lousy, good for nothing mother …………………………………. Im’m gonna skull …….,rip you apart and …… your corpse Die mother……., Die.( says the revolutionary)
    _My goodness _says the Dux_ I suppose that drinking a cup of tea and and discuss calmly our differences is out of question?
    The wanna be revolutionary lounges forward with a blood curling battle cry,… and his body collapses and turns to a red mush.
    The Dux signals one of her servants and says : Please Mr. Jeeves, remove the garbage, wash the floor and wash toroughly the carpet. I would hate to see it stained . Thank you

  200. @Jarle – I love this:

    “1. Avoid tendentious irrelevance
    Examples: Personal attacks, claims of opponents’ motivation…”

    I do find that sometimes when a conversation is just getting interesting, the other person will offer a speculation on my motivations or my character, which I always find so irrelevant to the point. I mean, what could be less interesting, right? Anyway, I want to thank you for a new word for this habit. “Tendentious irrelevance.” I shall treasure it.

    The funny thing is that, tolerably often, my own motivations are absolutely opaque to me, and I can never figure out how other people seem able to so easily work out what other people’s “true motives” are. To me this rather popular subject matter is shrowded in mystery and enigma.

    Cheers!

  201. Extremely on topic, courtesy of Jean Lamb, whose commentary I’ll pass on to you as well.

    https://theweek.com/articles/980936/americas-nervous-breakdown-right-schedule?utm_campaign=afternoon_newsletter_20210505&utm_source=afternoon_newsletter&utm_medium=email

    “Of course, the writer ignores little things like the Civil War, the Great Depression and a couple of world wars, but it was fun to read anything.” TO which I say, “yes. Because they were the culmination of the movements described above.

  202. @Patricia Mathews #179

    In “The Tragedy of the Commons”, Hardin was quite clear that he was explicitly talking about a “free” — that is, unmanaged — commons, a distinction that critics of the paper seem loath to mention. Perhaps the paper would have been stronger had he discussed possible management methods. Kudos to Ms. Ostrom for expounding on this point.

    My own sense is that management strategies work best at the local level, and when all involved have a direct interest in the health of the managed resource. The Chesapeake Bay is my favorite example of a commons that cannot be effectively managed. Many of the parties responsible for its degradation (real estate developers, farmers) do not have a stake in the health of the bay, and the geographic area is too large to be managed locally. There are five states involved, and thus there is no jurisdiction below the federal level with the authority needed to address the bay’s issues. Watermen, too, who depend on the bay for their livelihoods, chafe at harvest restrictions. The result is gridlock, and effective management remains elusive.

  203. Abraham, I’m reminded of a post on here a while back, quoting a quite old essay about the nature of America. The author’s thesis was that America was built by a succession of what I believe he called ‘woodsmen’ and ‘fieldmen’ (I can’t find the original post unfortunately so I may be misremembering). ‘Woodsmen’ are the type to go into the frontier, build a one-room log cabin and clear the woods enough for a modest garden plot, live precariously but freely for a time, and then sell their rudimentary farm to a ‘Fieldman’ when things get too civilised (Pa from ‘Little house on the prairie’ fit this archetype). The ‘Fieldman’ then builds out the farm, leveraging his relative tolerance for civilisation to turn it into a more refined and productive space. The succession you’re describing fits this model so perfectly that it brings to mind those ‘Dolphins return to Venice’ headlines we saw last year. Nature is healing! Woodsmen are returning to America!

    It sounds like this project is in a transition from the original ‘woodsmen’ who like battling local councils to ‘fieldmen’ who like showing up and doing regular work on a regular basis. I don’t imagine that can be easy, but so long as you’re on the same page that they want to move on and build the next oasis while you want to stay around and steward this one, there seems ample space for mutual gratitude.

    That said, I also have some specific thoughts on your particular situation. There’s a book on non-authoritarian organisations called ‘Reinventing Organisations” by Frederic Laloux that informs most of my thinking on the subject. I’m a huge fan of the work and recommend it to everyone, but there are three core themes I can summarise here:

    -Don’t get caught in making decisions either autocratically or by consensus. Instead, define what people are responsible for and give them maximum freedom to achieve that. The corollary is that if an action will impact someone else’s sphere of responsibility, it is proper to ask their advice before taking it.
    -Bring your whole self to the organization, and do the necessary work to build the trust that makes that possible.
    -Align work by shared vision rather than shared process.

    Done properly these three should reinforce each other. I might envision the application like this: Someone new wants to come to the project. You work alongside them, describing your understanding of the vision but also drawing out what they would like the vision to be. By sharing this, the shared vision becomes clearer, you build mutual trust because that is a deeply personal conversation, and it becomes clearer what people would want to take responsibility for based on their version of the vision. People show up and work on what excites them, and that builds more trust from the others who see them working. As trust builds further, people are more willing to share their atypical ideas and have the intimate conversations about shared vision and other people’s responsibility that would impact, etc etc.

    It’s an unusual approach and the book is mostly case studies of places that made it work, so if that seems a bit idealistic there are also discussions of how the nitty-gritty can happen. It’s by no means a well-trodden path.

    A couple more thoughts not informed by Laloux:

    -From my experience in the Rune Soup community which is anarchist-adjacent, I’ve found that ‘relationship’ is very popular with this type. It might be useful to couch the ‘sphere of responsibility’ that people take on in terms of ‘what will you have a relationship to?’. That could be a particular bed, certain trees, a mentor who directs their work, the legal status of the whole project… but if someone won’t enter any relationship at all and still wants free food, they’re probably a cop or developer! That is a danger anarchists can respect and must be willing to say ‘no’ to.

    -As for the woodsmen who aren’t engaged by showing up regularly, I could see them transition to something like a feudal warrior caste – responsible for protecting the community from the local council and building new spaces like it, but nothing demanding routine. And if they’re amenable to that, you might point out to them that people who are grabbed by their ‘fight the system’ rhetoric would make lousy fieldmen, and work out a way you can support their martial efforts when they genuinely need it and they can send prospective fieldmen your way.

    -And finally, I would point to something discussed on this forum a lot regarding political magic: The vision needs to be on what you’re building, not what you’re fighting! Focusing on the council is well and good when it’s actively in the way, but a utopia can’t be defined by the system it’s better than, and the people who temperamentally like to be at war need to treat this as a place of peace when they’re there.

  204. @ teresa from hershey #194

    I’m a Wimsey fan. Many thanks for the links!!

    I’ve also dipped into her Christian writings and her letters. I see you don’t cover that on planetpeschel.com – do you happen to know of any other online resources on her non-Wimsey work??

  205. about civility.

    I was watching “Dr. Phil.” (I confess.) They had two people who didn’t trust each other, wanted to change each other, and wanted to be married to each other. And were together for four years. Dr. Phil asked them, why? In other words, if the other person is so awful, then why spend anytime with them?

    I pondered that with the descriptions of how people would come here to tell Mr. Greer what to write and who to allow for commentary. I liken them to the couple who were so busy trying to change the other, that they forgot the essential truth – why be with someone you hate. I think it is a sickness within the self that can’t allow for others to be.

    Civility is about allowing others to be, just be.

    If you find them distasteful and cannot engage with them in a dignified manner, then just leave. I did that with the former peabrains who decided that whatever I wrote was awful or something along that lines. So I asked myself, why am I friends with people whom I dislike?

    I do believe the desire to control, manipulate or change others is a diversionary tactic to keep from examining the self. In their cases, the peabrains would trot out how their ancestors were awful people for being slave owner, and how awful they were. Nothing about how to help any descendants of those people. Just polishing the martyr’s crown. It was better than to deal with their own problems.

  206. Pat Mathews, thanks for the link to the Aeon article. Much food for thought since this topic has been much on my mind of late due to two conversations with a couple of friends that seemed to boarder on the topic of the commons in various guises. I even shared the link with my two friends.

  207. “Courtesy,” I believe, is a French derivative to English dating from the Norman conquest of the Anglo-Saxons in 1066. It refers to the manners of a courtier in attendance on his or her noble personage. So, etymologically, there hovers about the word tinges of hypocrisy and snarkiness. I suppose that means courteous trolls may occasionally infiltrate blogs.

  208. @womensatlasrc

    re: litter
    “And then I point out the litter in a public park, and watch the mental gymnastics as they blame that on capitalism somehow.”

    I’ve seen this happen with someone my wife and had food at a park with. The trash bins were overflowing and the trash was all over the place. Somehow this was the responsibility of the manufacturer, in their opinion, and not of the people who threw it on the ground.

    Not that I don’t think manufacturers should have some responsibility for the products they make, but once a product is chosen by someone and bought by someone else then it becomes their responsibility. How they dispose of it is subject to at least some degree of choice (trash, recycle, burn, drop off at thriftstore for someone else to use, repurpose, etc.)

    Anyway, the attitude of the person who thinks it is all the responsibility of the person is questionable to say the least. After all, we don’t have to buy it.

    I’m not sure @Darkest Yorkshire how Thatcher and her policy’s are part of the littering thing, but I’m not British, though I listened to a lot of punk declaiming her (for good reasons).

    Anyway, this song, “Bite Back” by Negativland offers a different perspective. (In a nutshell, what if we just stopped buying a lot of this crud?)

  209. Justin Patrick Moore #224, you want to make this even more structural – why aren’t there more bins, larger bins, or the bins being emptied more often? 🙂 Similarly when slums are full of excrement I’m pretty comfortable saying it’s not because there are plenty of toilets but people are choosing not to use them.

  210. @Quin

    Thank you. So happy you found something useful in what was submitted. Since reading and listening to many Dharma and Daoist teachers I’ve come to realize there’s a surprising amount of fossilized wisdom in many old branches of Christianity. Not least is the example of AUM-N.

    It has occurred to me there might be someone (Christian or not) who may wish to take advantage of AUM when praying or as it’s own separate practice. Sadhguru and many other teachers I’ve listened to say AUM gains in power the louder and stronger you can rumble it at each nexus. That’s why it’s important to say it out loud.

    Aaaaa is rumbled at approximately 2-3 inches below the navel. In Yoga the nexus is called Swadhistana.

    Oooo is rumbled at the little divide at one’s chest (apologies, don’t know the medical term for this area). In Yoga the nexus is called Anahata.

    Mmmm is rumbled at the throat – the thyroid/parathyroid gland region. In Yoga the nexus is called Visuddhi.

    Since I don’t do the Aramaic version I am unsure where the Nnnnnn should be rumbled so if others are aware of this perhaps they can submit their own experience with the Nnnnnn portion?

    In any case, a person born with no tongue would not be able to add the Nnnnnn sound. However I’m fairly sure done properly at the correct location it could likely add benefits. Or at the very least not hamper the benefits of the other three sounds. Adding Nnnnnnn would turn it more into a mantra than the Cosmic Sound though but that’s just my opinion (YMMV).

    The way I do it is as Sadhguru’s freely available Youtube version.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ug8OoFAFfZ0

    In Bodybuilder lingo I would put it like this:

    7 sets of 7 reps (beats*) of Aaaaaaa rumbled at Swadhistana
    7 sets of 7 reps (beats) of Ooooooo rumbled at Anahata
    7 sets of 7 reps (beats) of Mmmmmmm rumbled at Visuddhi

    The important thing is the keep the length of time rumbled to be equal at each nexus. Otherwise it introduces potential problems in the system that won’t show up until much later in life. So if you can only rumble for 3 beats at one nexus make sure the other 2 are also 3 beats. Only deviate from this general practice principle if a guru has told you to.

    This is called Nada Yoga. It’s result is that you (eventually) start carrying joyfulness around with you everywhere you go no matter what events are happening in the world around you or what kind of sucky day job you have. You could be in a Gulag and the joy of your own Maha-nature would still shine through. Keep it up and eventually everything around you will (somewhat, it’s never 100% on denser Planes) begin to come into better alignment with you. So…against all odds…the Vatican has fossilized remembrance to build “pleasantness within and pleasantness around” by adding AUM-N at the end of each prayer.

    Basically you’re building a superior subtle-body and continuing toward fully Objective Consciousness (what I call Superconsciousness).

    **********

    *beats – like in music

    p.s. Thank you to JMG for allowing me to post this despite it going off-topic. A fine example of walking the talk of moderating per the principles of today’s essay theme! 🙂

  211. Lew, what Chief Justice Holmes was talking about relates directly to my distinction between the informative and performative aspects of speech — he was pointing out that Schenck was performatively trying to stop the US government from taking an action that had been authorized by Congress (drafting young men to fight in the First World War), and so speech that would be permissible in a purely informative context (it was legal to say that the draft was a bad idea, for example) became impermissible when used as an attempt to stop the government from doing its job. As for creative euphemisms, those are fine here as well as in the pages of the Daily Olympian!

    Greg, nicely done. Your last sentence is as crisp a summary of the current situation as I’ve ever seen.

    Jarle, thanks for this. I’ll see what I can find in the local library system.

    Yorkshire, The Mass Psychology of Fascism starts out by conflating fascism with every other set of political and religious ideas that Reich doesn’t like. It goes on to claim that the only reason anyone could possibly disagree with Reich’s political views is because they’re psychologically damaged. This, Reich then insists, is because they don’t have adequate orgasms. If only every trace of sexual repression is gotten rid of, and everyone’s frantically humping in the streets, then all human problems will be solved and we’ll all be good little Marxists. It’s a great example of the kind of absurd logic that people get into when they come to believe that they have exclusive possession of the truth — and of course we’ve seen that the consequences of the sexual revolution didn’t exactly live up to Reich’s predictions…

    Eike, good. I think all of those are worth considering.

    CS2, you’re most welcome.

    Whispers, you should write that book. The thought of an aging Bertie Wooster as archvillain, mind you, is hilarious…

    Patricia M, thanks for this! Not a bad analysis, in its own way.

    Neptunesdolphins, I ain’t arguing.

    Sniper, trolls are welcome to post here so long as they abide by my idiosyncratic rules. I’ve had regular commenters who were very active trolls elsewhere, who figured out that if they wanted to take part in conversations here they had to ditch the trollery and behave themselves, and who did so. So far this week, on the other hand, I’ve been deleting a steady stream of attempted comments from people who are apparently too dense to realize that the dreary repetition of canned talking points and point-scoring gimmicks doesn’t count as polite conversation. Just one of those things…

  212. As far as I can tell, Civilization is about *not* just letting others be. The opposite of civility.

    Also, very confused as to the church thing. I’m not playing dumb, but also being in churches as a child, I have the direct opposite takeaway from the Bible than our poster. That is to say, that God is love and goes to extraordinary lengths to insure forgiveness. That to err is human and perpetual. Therefore, how would any of us be the slightest bit different in church or anywhere, or any different in love?

    At the moment I have the exact opposite impression as well, that the Rainbow flag flies for hatred and exclusion, and I wouldn’t dare knock on the door of anyone who flies one unless my life were in danger. That’s not a nice takeaway collected from years and years of accruing experience, nor one I wish to have. Nor one they intend at all, certainly. Like Erika says, I find the long-suffering love and underdog, upholding the pillars, has moved to the most deplorable who must still be themselves despite all, and as the last 1,000 years, still admit all comers as they are, and still be strong and most often silent, as the oppressed are. Maybe that’s the way the Long Wheel of Fortune must turn, but turn it has, so if you’re for the underdog, the hated and oppressed, the Rainbow flag is presently no place to be. Or for myself anyway. When you’re the darling of Coke (and Koch) Nike, and Amazon, maybe you’re not the independent, freedom-striving rebels of yore, fighting for the freedom of all to just be themselves. It does hurt me to say it, but the situation of oppression, arrest, and open disenfranchisement of the non-rainbow is pretty grim. At the same time, the exclusion and offense of the Rainbow flag wavers among themselves is gruesome and puts to shame any church I’ve visited for hypocrisy, hard words and strict, unattainable, ever-shifting dogma for members. It is of all places on earth not the place I would seek for stable, lasting love and acceptance. Maybe a good lesson on why you wouldn’t look for it among men at all.

    So I wonder, since we had such different experiences, is it the personality, the outlook, the appeal to the church instead of the book instead of the God, or is it something more predictable, like that specific church and state and group and time? A specific hard period? I don’t think I’m that unusual, and I’ve heard this story before of course. Essentially a crisis of being unloved, but unloved by ones self, one’s friends, or one’s…something? Why would someone un-love themselves? That’s learned, and also illogical, as if that matters. Since a “church” is a bunch of dummies who pay rent, I don’t know how they are more than casually related to God, and most certainly a God, by their own lives, they’re not especially close to, though probably trying.

    If you asked someone clearly close to God, like John the Baptist, or MoonDog or something, not the Church, what would he have said? Of course this is of no use to anyone now except as an exploration, since you’ve gone through it, but maybe some good to someone else. You never know. Others? I bet he’s not the only one who had a similar thing reading here?

  213. Dear Happy Panda, Many thanks for your vastly expanded definition of “maha”! It seems to me to be rather difficult to accurately translate Sanskrit words, both because Sanskrit is such a polysemic language — the words have so many meanings — and also because of Sanskrit’s long association with nada yoga and jaap yoga. Given the theoretical idea of sounds creating reality, it seems to me that with Sanskrit there’s a deep practice of magical philology that I have not encountered in any other language except possibly Hebrew. In this week’s post I’ve found your description of AUM fascinating and very worthy of close reading. Also, I want to note how much I appreciate your posts explicating various details of yogic practice! I always learn a lot and enjoy your writing.

    Dear CS2, I’ve had some very frightening experiences with Muslims, so I avoid Mosques and have no idea if they have pride flags on them around here. I’m heartened by your story of some Catholic Bishops blessing gay marriage! Personally I am not a Christian and so in a real sense it’s none of my business what Christian institutions do. That said, having head the Gospels many time, I find Christ’s words deeply touching and am glad that some churches are, as you write, focusing more on living up to Christ example.

  214. @Scotlyn, you’re welcome! I always thought that Næss’ rules sounded a bit off in the English translation – the adjective “tendentious” isn’t nearly as often used in English as its Norwegian counterpart “tendensiøs”. But it occurred to me now that the reason why calling out a biased argument as tendentious is so common in this country is most likely due to Næss’ influence! So who knows, thanks to ecosophian efforts to keep the conversational commons in good shape, maybe in a few decades’ time it will be commonplace in English discourse as well.

  215. @Darkest Yorkshire:

    More bins are fine, but yeah, they don’t stop people from actually just throwing their trash on the ground. I see people throw trash out of their cars all the time unfortunately for my fellow city citizens. That is a choice. As for when they get picked up, about once a week is standard, but I’m not against more people being hired on to collect garbage.

    I’m still unsure how littering relates to Maggie Thatcher, though.

    Also @JMG: The Negativland song I linked too has cuss words. I had intended it to be just a link, not embedded into your blog. By your rules in your space, if you want to edit that down to a link, etc. That is your call, but just thought I should mention it. I figured if people wanted to click on it and listen to it on a different site that was fine, but if it’s embedded in your site, maybe you’d rather have it just be a link.

    Or people can just look up “Bite Back” by Negativland if they want to hear it.

    My apologies for any inconvenience. I honestly wasn’t trying to bend the rules. Because of this weeks topic I definitely wanted to mention it.

  216. I can’t say I agree with everything you say, but the reason I stick around is more because you say interesting things. I like people who say things nobody else is saying, for various reasons, some professional some personal. And you don’t seem to be rigidly dogmatic either. And you seem to be one of the few adults left in the room.

    There’s nothing more tedious than having to deal with ridgidly dogmatic people on some insane ideology fueled crusade. Then again, maybe it’s one of those things they say you’ll look back on 20 years later and laugh? Maybe.

    And as far as I’m concerned, it’s your kingdom, you run it as you see fit. There’s not really any democracy on the internet, except for voting with your feet. You could say much the same thing about the real world in Murica, now that I think about it – the only real vote you have is your two feet and where you put them.

  217. Darkest Yorkshire said:

    And when Thatcher said “You’re on your own, there’s no such thing as society” they’re promoting an attitude of unthinking contempt and disdain (that affects a lot more than littering) because that’s what suits capitalism. Of course they have no moral consistency and will switch to demanding obedience and upright behaviour as soon as it suits them.

    This is why it can also be societally pragmatic to do practices like Nada Yoga daily. People who are joyful by their own self-sustaining nature can not be bought off (bread & circuses) nor easily threatened by people in power or wanna-be’s grabbing at the reins of power.

    Woke-ism pretends to offer a “sustainably joyfullness-for-all” buffet if you get on board with their Woke Yoga but delivers none of it to anyone, not even to the Woke themselves.

  218. Hi John,

    I have been following the series of posts on Dreamwidth, including the ones on Wilhelm Reich, his orgone theory and his sad end as a victim of corporate greed and political malfeasance.

    But your response to Darkest Yorkshire inspired me to do some more reading on Reich and his past. Knowing a little more about his career and political views prior to his troubles with the AMA and FDA suggests that it wasn’t just his orgone theory that got him into trouble. This was after all the period when McCarthyism, Stalinism, HUAC and fears about Communist subversion and the Red Menace were in full swing. His views on two of the great taboos of American life, sex and Marxism, would have been more than enough to get him into trouble. From the perspective of the authorities, orgone may have just been the icing on the cake, an ostensibly non-political pretext to silence a prominent dissident who the establishment feared and loathed.

  219. John–

    This might be stretching the topic a tad, but I believe it speaks to something of the underlying issue, as well as touching on a subject you’ve referenced in prior posts, namely our cultural tendency to deal with others as “it” rather than “thou.”

    One is not courteous or respectful to an object or a machine; rather one expects the object or machine to behave according to one’s expectations given the impetus one has supplied. I push on the rock with sufficient force and the rock shifts. I execute a database query and the results are displayed. As we have continued to sink ourselves into our embubbled world–via social media, artificial/augmented reality, online existences, etc.–we’ve lost the sense of dealing with “others” who have their own opinions, motivations, and the like.

    My thoughts came to this topic earlier today when I was chatting with our IT team at work and we got on the subject of artificial intelligence and someone (jokingly) brought up robotic AI sex-workers (actually something being discussed and developed, as I understand). My mind immediately went to the ethical and cultural implications of being able to program a humanoid AI in such a setting to make one’s “partner” to be exactly what one desires: not just physical characteristics, but also personality traits, kinkiness, submissiveness/aggressiveness, and the like. How could this not impair one’s ability to function and interact with actual human beings? The results cannot be good.

    In any event, it occurred to me that the psychological issues surfacing in modern industrialized civilization have a lot to do with this persistent objectification and control.

  220. @ Ilona #220. You’re welcome! Bill has been working on her novels and short stories for decades. He started the annotations because he didn’t understand her references and needed answers for himself.

    As for her other writings, no, not at this stage.

    I’ll ask him if he has any suggestions.

  221. Since we’re veering into free speech territory here, I’ve never understood the connection between pornography and free speech. I thought free speech implied the freedom to disagree in politics and not, not, well.

    The mind boggles at what is available today on tv. Or at the movies. Magazines and books. Signage. T-shirts. And online! Dear God in his heaven have mercy on us. Yet ask for restraint and get yelled at as the worst kind of anti-free speech puritan prude.

    Then comes the slippery slope argument.

    But gardeners and farmers always had the answer to slippery slopes. Terracing.

    There must be a better way. Curtesy and manners perhaps?

  222. This is an excellent treatment of a much-needed topic. I could really do with some courtesy in many other areas of my dealings with humans, but it makes a tremendous difference to participate in a dialog where courtesy is a rule! It provides a sense of safety, and where there is safety, we have a better chance of hearing what other people really think.

    Someone else may have mentioned other positive, indirect effects of courtesy. If I repeat them, my apologies–

    1) Courtesy gets better with practice, and being able to practice courtesy here has sharpened my courtesy skills for other areas of my life.

    2) Jordan Peterson tells us that, psychologically, humans discover what they think about different subjects by talking them out with their peers. In this way, topic censorship prevents development. Tone management encourages development.

    3) Courtesy promotes trust. When I first started commenting on your blog, I was not sure if an Archdruid with some beliefs and background that were likely to be very different from mine, would be a safe person to engage in conversation. Your replies, and those of all of your other guests has put those fears to rest long ago. I am quite certain that some of my views and comments have at times put your and others’ “teeth on edge.” But the gracious responses and respectful disagreements always let me know that I had been heard, and helped me think about a lot of things in new ways. Feedback is so crucial.

    So thanks again for all the hard work of preserving this dialog space. If you have a garden, I’d bet there’s lots of variety but not a weed to be found.

  223. Reading through all these comments, this poem kept resonating in my head, so I am sending it to the forum in case you don’t know it and in the hope that you might enjoy it. It’s by Louis MacNeice: Prayer before Birth.

    I am not yet born; O hear me.
    Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the
    club-footed ghoul come near me.

    I am not yet born, console me.
    I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me,
    with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me,
    on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.

    I am not yet born; provide me
    With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk
    to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light
    in the back of my mind to guide me.

    I am not yet born; forgive me
    For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words
    when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me,
    my treason engendered by traitors beyond me,
    my life when they murder by means of my
    hands, my death when they live me.

    I am not yet born; rehearse me
    In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when
    old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains
    frown at me, lovers laugh at me, the white
    waves call me to folly and the desert calls
    me to doom and the beggar refuses
    my gift and my children curse me.

    I am not yet born; O hear me,
    Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God
    come near me.

    I am not yet born; O fill me
    With strength against those who would freeze my
    humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton,
    would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with
    one face, a thing, and against all those
    who would dissipate my entirety, would
    blow me like thistledown hither and
    thither or hither and thither
    like water held in the
    hands would spill me.

    Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.
    Otherwise kill me.

  224. Dear Miss Violet! I’m so sorry i totally didn’t see your response once i got into thinking on my conversation with Miss Patricia. wow you’re brilliant and i’m honored to have such a response from you and i will have to think on it and return later.

    you say so much in so few sentences./i’m the opposite.

    thank you very much / i’ll think while i’m sewing…

    x

  225. Another great one! Just wanted to contribute one idea, and that’s the problem of what could be called ‘identification’. That is, the opinions and ‘ideas’ people hold often become so personal, and they are so totally identified with those opinions and ‘ideas’, that any engagement and debate is considered (clearly not consciously) an actual personal attack on them themselves. They have almost quite literally become their opinions, and they react to a challenge as if they were a grizzly bear mother with three cubs. Watch out!

  226. Rita Rippetoe @ 205. I know Marlowe held the line and got no thanks for it, except from Linda Loring. I am a bit surprised that Chandler hasn’t yet been cancelled for the opening chapter of The Big Sleep.

  227. @ Ilona #220.

    I asked Bill about more background for Dorothy Sayers.

    He suggested you look for Barbara Reynolds.

    She wrote a biography of Ms. Sayers and edited several volumes of her letters.

    https://www.amazon.com/Dorothy-L-Sayers-Life-Soul/dp/0312153538

    Amazon, despite being the evil empire, has plenty of recommended also-boughts to further your search.

    Check abebooks.com and alibris.com for secondhand copies, since many of these books are out-of-print and their prices are better than Amazon’s.

  228. With regards to littering. There is a solution that everyone of us can do.

    Pick up the trash yourself whenever you go out walking. It’s what Bill and I do on a fairly regular basis on our walks.

    I could complain about public spaces being littered by idiots but that does zero good. So I pick up the litter and the median looks better.

    Even nicer, when the medians are litter-free, it seems to take longer for someone to toss a can out the window of their car. Sometimes, it’s an entire day or more.

  229. Darkest Yorkshire @ 210, Please, what are you talking about? Since when is the far left part of the ruling class? Useful idiots, maybe, and I suppose they pick up the occasional letter of reference that gets their kid into Snob U., maybe even the occasional invite to dinner–not to a fancy restaurant, there are limits. But, part of the in group?, not likely. It is not the far left selling out that upsets me, but that they did it so cheaply.

    Combination of Burk, Malthus etc.? I take you are not talking about the USA, where the left simply doesn’t read anything but mittel Europeans, and the French deconstructionists, and I am not sure about the latter, they may just like to refer to them. They are in full blown panic now because their project to indoctrinate us all in the Gospel according to Karl Marx has failed.

  230. Oh dear, Rita, I meant, of course, the opening chapter of Farewell, My Lovely..

  231. “commons is a third category of property, neither public nor private but intermediate between these two more common categories”
    As far as I know, even the entire village did not have the right to sell any of the commons, so commons were distinct even from co-ops and other contemporary forms of collective property. They came from an age in which not everything could be bought and sold.

  232. My memory of “repressive tolerance” from the early 70s was that whereas Reich had thought that sexual liberation would automatically be politically liberating, the post-war consumer boom was showing that sexuality (and pleasure seeking more generally) could be allowed in a way that would pull people more firmly into the existing (repressive) social structures, rather than release than from those structures.
    I am not saying that that is the correct interpretation, just that was the one that I knew. There were probably plenty of others too.

  233. What Emmanuel Goldstein says in comment #240 got me thinking. When I first came to Japan from America, I was young, attempting to be “assertive” according to the popular definition of it. It felt like a poorly fitting glove, but I was convinced I needed to try it, otherwise just go back to suburbia and complain all day. I’m amazed at how well the Japanese tolerated me. Patience is a supreme virtue here.
    While I was trying to be “assertive,” I also noticed how conflicts would erupt in Japan, and some of them would get out of hand, turning to violence rather quickly, but in other cases, one party to it would have greater than average maturity, and take steps through kind words to defuse it. There seemed to be an art to it, which attracted me. I eventually realized there are ways of asserting one’s own needs–to the degree one is being reasonable, while not trampling on others’ feelings. Practicing the art of keigo (polite speech) is a challenge–the hardest part of spoken Japanese, especially for westerners. Of course, when I became a Shinto priestess, it became de rigueur, and I learned fantastically more complicated levels of it (not mastered by any means). The details apply only to Japan, but the technique applies universally.
    I think the famous “homogeneity” of the Japanese is not really homogeneity at all, but wide knowledge of ways to interact without provoking bad feelings, and satisfaction with the results.
    I treasure the conversations I’ve had on this website, even where we disagree, and wonder if JMG’s upbringing with a Japanese stepmother gave him some insight into how to conduct polite discourse. That would have given him an advantage as an Arch Druid too.
    I don’t know how the rest of you all feel, but Greer, dammit, for President! (I hope that’s okay.)

  234. @Darkest Yorkshire says:

    “The tragedy of the commons butchered like an excess cow”

    Butchered? Hardly. But the attempt you’ve linked to, is, nonetheless, a hit job done with a butcher’s subtletly.

    First, see how non-subtly it starts by discrediting the author (as opposed to the work), by “casually” mentioning this: “The author of “The Tragedy of the Commons” was Garrett Hardin, a University of California professor who until then was best known as the author of a biology textbook that argued for “control of breeding” of “genetically defective” people (Hardin 1966: 707)”.

    Behind the lines,is not meant to give a short bio, but to manipulate the reader to think: “This Hardin is a bad person, an eugenist, and he’s not even an expert on economics”.

    It’s the basest of cheap-shots.

    Then he goes to say: “Given the subsequent influence of Hardin’s essay, it’s shocking to realize that he provided no evidence at all to support his sweeping conclusions. He claimed that the “tragedy” was inevitable — but he didn’t show that it had happened even once”.

    As if we don’t all personally know tens, if not hundreds, of cases, where this has happened time and again with all sorts of the commons. From our neighbors, from our cities, and so on, even from our schools and workplaces – whether there is a communal resource. And as if we don’t have countless second-hand examples from history and from the current news, about how big coporations and private interests treat the commons (commercial overfishing that depletes areas from fish, for example).

    Even worse, he mentions the very solution Hardin himself saw (and expanded on further works on), as if that’s something Hardin didn’t know about:

    “Hardin simply ignored what actually happens in a real commons: self-regulation by the communities involved.”

    Does the author really think that Hardin believed regulation as the solution to the tragedy of the commons as something he himself invented that was never applied anywhere? Hardin not only did not “ignore” this, but knew this as the solution. He also knew (as we do) that this is not always the case.

    The “criticism” cherry-picks cases where self-regulation succeeded to pretend that this is the only possible case, and thus there never was any possibility of “tragedy of the commons”.

  235. @ Patricia Matthews #238 RE: rules

    I read them, and take severe exception to number 5. IMO, this is part of what got people into the current mess we are in, deferring to superiors. It’s reasonably understood that in many cases and places, the power-mad, psychopathy prone actively seek out positions of authority. Deferring to those types has yet to result in a positive outcome in my experience.

    If the word were changed from ‘superiors’ to ‘elders’ or ‘wisdom’, I might agree…

    TO ALL – it looks like Texas is going to have constitutional carry. I look forward to increased civility and politeness…

  236. Jasper, it depends, of course, on what interpretation you put on that word “civilization.”

    Justin, I don’t worry too much about the profanity content of things that people have to click on, so no prob.

    Owen, and it doesn’t bother me at all that people disagree with me, so long as they’re courteous about it. Grab a beer from the fridge and enjoy the conversation.

    Galen, granted, Reich basically pasted a great big bull’s-eye on his back and went around showing it to all and sundry; he was that kind of guy. The point I’d make is that plenty of other alternative health figures who didn’t have the other issues he did got similar treatment.

    David, that’s an extremely important point, of course. The fixation on I-it relationships to the exclusion of I-you relationships is a pervasive factor in our culture, and you’re doubtless right that that’s a major contributor to all this.

    Patricia M, interesting.

    Teresa, human beings being what they are, if you tell them they can talk about anything they want to, a lot of them will immediately start talking about sex. Of course it’s overdone; we’re not a species with much of a sense of proportion…

    Emmanuel, thanks for this. Right now I don’t have a garden, but if that happens again, why, it depends on what plants volunteer themselves; some “weeds” are very useful!

    Lark, I didn’t know it. Thanks for this.

    Quicksliver, that’s an important point. The notion that people should identify with their opinions is an odd one; I wonder where it came form.

    Teresa, an excellent point.

    Jessica, that’s a very good point about the commons. As for “repressive tolerance,” what happened in the 1970s and thereafter was that we found out that Reich was wrong; sexual permissiveness is not politically liberating. Anyone with a decent background in history could have looked at 18th century England and learned that in advance…

  237. As a troll for a few other places who also participates here, I have to say, being courteous requires an awful lot more self control than trolling. The collapse of courtesy in the post-war years thus also seems to tie into the massive decline in self control in general in those years. I’m still mulling over the full implications of this myself, but I think it’s worth throwing this out there and seeing if anyone else can take this in interesting directions.

  238. Hi Patricia,

    What are the duties of a Shinto Priestess? Do you enjoy it? How long have you been a Priestess?

  239. Thank you for this post, I am finding it particularly profitable to think on.

    To prevent the tragedy of the commons its seems to me they generally require some degree of exclusivity. If another village brings their cattle into your village’s common pasture there will be beef, and not just on the hoof! I think there is something similar with the commons of courtesy.

    As a linguistic more than coincidence courtesy comes to its meaning from courteous, that is to say pertaining to a court. A court, the king’s court and such, comes from com – hortus, together-garden. It is a commons! But an exclusive commons, a walled garden, which if said in Greek would give us the word paradise.

    History is stocked with examples of groups of people each of which would consider themselves possessing of a degree of courtesy coming into contact and having a devil of a time trying to communicate information without their mutual ignorance of context clues breaking down communication into a row. It is analogous to two villages trying to bargain with each other to share herds and cattle between them in difficulty and causes of difficulty.

    In my own life the manner I conduct myself to be able to communicate with one group of friend is very different with the next group. The ways of showing respect vary if I am hanging with my blue collar friends or my hippie friends. Both groups with in their own walled gardens of conversation and thought are quite courteous, but are sometimes prone to think the others crass, aloof, or otherwise difficult to speak plainly with.

    In American history within groups courtesy has been the norm, between groups somewhat more exceptional. I figure that in era’s where there is one group that defines courteous, where there is a noble court, even if that court engages in ghastly skulduggery, that is a common good between the many commons, a langwa franka of politeness, which members from any less esteemed group can study their methods of talking and thereby develop the skills to converse with the greater society to be heard. Contrary wise, if there isn’t a noble court, a defining group, there isn’t any agreed upon meaning to courteous, and tactics that exploit impolite speech can out game other options. If the language of diplomats fail, diplomacy in not an option, and conversation turns to performative utterances with are more akin to war hoots of social primates.

    At this point being able to enjoy the common good that conversation essentially is begins to require much higher order skillfulness. No longer are there a given technique one might study and apply, for each has become triggering to many. Instead one must be able to think at a more understanding level about conversation and human motives and other tricky things so as to be able to improvise manners of courtesy on the fly as social situations develop. There are several friend groups I have learned this skill with, often motivated by a desire for face to face interlocutors to brain storm with about ecosophian ideas. To have those conversations much tact must be developed in breaching taboo topics with out shutting down thinking centers. The failure rate it regrettable, but success can happen with patience. I think this weeks essay is a good prompt for developing better tactics.

    Ideally the precise faction that is currently so woke is the sector of society that had ought to be the courtly ones. Through out history power has walked on crooked legs, but despite that when societies are thriving the courtly folk have enough glamor to illuminate a commons of courtesy in conversation, not because they are great and noble people, but because sometimes they manage to symbolize it.

    Before WWII America was a fairly powerful nation, but far from a super power. Not being a super power it could ill survive a failure to maintain some degree of courtly glamor, bright enough to reach at least a sizable fraction of the population. After WWII it was defiantly a super power, and therefore the courtly peoples could afford to focus more on control over inspiration. So it was that by the 60’s conditions were ripe for disenchantment with the Courtly to move from a multitude of disenfranchised people on many different fringes, who still had Courtly ways enforced upon them by the bulk of the masses, to the youth of the middle class who had sufficient security to loudly reject courtesy in public and win the glamor in the eyes of a major stream in society.

    I notice a interesting confusion with the people I know who reject authority, government, agriculture, civilization, what ever it is, that reject lock, stock, and barrel this vast human Thing, because of perfectly valid objections to AN example of the thing. As though a government being corrupt negates all efforts to govern as wicked. Messy though they admittedly tend to be. So it is with courtesy, the manners of a powerful group in our society is objectionable, and the group them selves more so, therefore devil take all courtesy!

    The left I knew to do this when I was growing up. Today I am often dismayed by the sheer crassness of many of my favorite conservative friends because they find glee in saying thinks that would make liberal tears. Admittedly I have been known to tell some VERY non woke jokes, objectively racist jokes among them, but only in very intentionally chosen contexts where the joke is being used to open up discussion, I put fair effort into minimizing contexts where such humor is a front for shutting down discussion between groups of people; the trick to do this is that when you tell a nasty joke I do it in a context where I chose to make myself the butt of a contextual joke around the whole thing. I do not like the nasty jokes that are primate talk declaring little more than tribal allegiance should poo flinging or worse escalate.

    People are scared, and for many of them that is very fair at the moment, which makes it all much touchier.

  240. Dear Mr. Greer – I was looking at my libraries “new / on order” books, tonight. Noticed a title that I thought might interest you.

    Out of the shadows : six visionary Victorian women in search of a public voice
    Personal Author: Midorikawa, Emily, author.
    Edition: First hardcover edition.
    Publication Information: Berkeley, California : Counterpoint, 2021.
    Physical Description: 332 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
    Summary: “Out of the Shadows tells the stories of six enterprising Victorian women whose apparent ability to move between the realms of the dead and the living allowed them to cross rigid boundaries of gender and class, and to summon unique political voices. The clairvoyance of the Fox sisters from upstate New York inspired some of the era’s best-known female suffrage activists and set off an international saeance craze. Emma Hardinge Britten left behind a career on Broadway for the life of a “trance lecturer,” whose oration on the death of Abraham Lincoln was celebrated by tens of thousands. The meteoric rise of Victoria Woodhull, born into poverty in Ohio, took her from childhood medium to Wall Street broker to America’s first female presidential candidate. AndGeorgina Weldon, whose interest in spiritualism nearly saw her confined to an asylum, went on to become a favorite of the press and a successful campaigner against Britain’s archaic lunacy laws. These extraordinary tales illuminate a radical history of female influence that has been -until now-confined to the dark”– Provided by publisher.

    I probably won’t read it, but I thought it might be of interest, to you. Or, some of your other readers. Lew

  241. @Quin

    I wanted to chime in before it’s too late:

    It is certainly possible Awen is a legit variant of AUM depending on how Awen is actually pronounced. It might be a similar case as Aramaic. If the population had someone(s) who’s occult or yogic practices had led their breath-rate to settle in at 5-6 per minute then that might well be that language’s legit version of intoning the Cosmic Sound. No need to have secret or long forgotten contact with Indian mystics or whomever from whatever far off continent. A native druid who got their breath down low enough would discover it automatically. Then try to communicate it to disciples as best as one could. Just like Aramaic intones AUM as AUM-N (FYI: Tamil “N”-ifies lots of words too). Tibetans can’t say Padme so they pronounce it as Pay-may instead. But they still mean “padme” in OM (AUM) Mani Peyme Hum.

    @Violet

    This is why yogis have always said Sanskrit is a discovered language. It’s not theoretical. If one does the right kind of practices the result is that the number of breaths needed by the system will eventually drop all the way down to 5-6 per minute. Once that happens you – yes, you! – will be able to personally verify that where ever there is a form there is always a sound attached. You’ll be able to finally hear it directly for yourself because the body system no longer needs to cycle through so much energy. You won’t have to take my or anybody else’s word for it. To put it another way – your body will have finally found it’s true Golden Mean.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_mean_(philosophy)

    In fact, I have a huge suspicion this is the actual meaning behind the Delphic phrase: Know Thyself. I’m also suspicious it’s the meaning of:

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

    my quip: why yes it is…because it’s Maha!

    This is called Ritambhara Pragna (alt spelling Prajna). You can read more about it in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

    Bill Bodri says he finally personally verified it for himself one day (!) – he heard the AUM sound with the chi pumping literally from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. His entire body was ringing AUM as the stillness deepened. Too bad he took down his blog. *grumps* 🙁

    I learned a lot from Bodri’s blog (that he, in turn got from Master Nan). Stuff that he will never ever put into one of his books. How I wish someone would translate the rest of Master Nan’s books into English. I consider him a Chinese Siddha (well…was a Chinese Siddha) *Sigh….*

    psst: fun fact I learned recently! I just found out a few weeks ago that Siddha is the Tamil word for Sanskrit’s Citta! IE – supreme Superconsciousness – aka a full-fledged Objective Consciousness.

    Anyway, the kicker is that the body system has to naturally breath only 5-6 breaths per minute. All the time. Naturally. All the time. I repeat – ALL THE TIME. It won’t work if you have to make yourself do it. That means the energy cycles of the system are still too rapid. So anyone thinking they can debunk what I’m posting but don’t have the natively-low breath rate to show they’ve put in the (typically decades) required work would be instantly dismissed by me.

    Sadhguru says day laborers and other low-status physical workers like agricultural laborers often have the easiest time of all kinds of jobs/careers reaching this esteemed state of self-verification of yogic and tantric teachings because in their day job each day they already expend their “daily quota” of Physical-Activity-Prarabda Karma. Yes, there really is such a daily quota which is why well-balanced yoga or tantra programs have one or more (hopefully fun) physical activities of some kind as part of the total set of practices one follows.

    Anyway, physical workers have exhausted it so when they sit down to meditative stillness – they really sit still. Meanwhile office cubicle/ desk-workers (can we just say Salary Class, here?) typically haven’t expended their daily quota of Physical-Activity-Karma so they have a really hard time every day doing the same. They fidget, cough, scratch, twitch, itch, sneeze, etc. Which is evidence the system cycles are still rev’d too high.

    I posted a transcript last week that goes into the science behind this that some may find of interest. Specifically it has to do with the Sookshma Vishay Vigñān realm of existence**. This is what scientists at CERN are beginning to take baby steps into investigating.

    Because as Sadhguru said:

    “So today science is entering those spaces because never ever is anybody going to see a Higgs-Boson. They’re only going to see its footprint. Even now they only saw the footprint. They did not see a Higgs-Boson. But because they see the footprint they believe he’s there. (Sadhguru smiles and nods yes)”

    I added a commentary from my blog at the end that I’ll C&P here but to get the full import of it it might be fun to check out that transcript.

    First transcript I recommend everyone doing any kind of spiritual practices from any tradition read: Transcript #1: The Real Reason Eastern Yoga and Tantric Traditions Emphasize Knowledge of One’s Breath

    https://happypanda.dreamwidth.org/#entry-3294

    And finally: Transcript #2: Sadhguru Youtube: The 4 Layers of Existence: Sthoola, Sookshma, Shoonya, Shiva

    https://happypanda.dreamwidth.org/#entry-6160

    *************************C&P’d Commentary from my blog***************

    Commentary:

    All the teachers I follow say mantras are based on Sanskrit which originally was not meant to be an everyday language but rather a way of speaking certain atomic vibrations. Kind of like how Joybubbles – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joybubbles – the godfather of phone phreaking – could ‘speak’ the correct tones into any landline phone on the planet and make calls around the world for free (much to the annoyance of his phone company). That is the power of correct at the atomic level Sanskrit pronunciation of mantras. You’re ‘hacking’ the vibratory, Sookshma Vishay Vigñān realm of atoms like Joybubbles did with phones. Yes, that’s what he was doing – speaking flawlessly a mantra for phone-dialing.

    That’s why there are tons of mantras that have no meaning at all. They aren’t meant to. They’re meant to turn you into an atomic Phreaker like Joybubbles except for whatever it is that mantra pronunciation is targeting mastery of. Yes, this is likely the pop culture source – dimly remembered – of sorcerers (ie yogis/yoginis or monks/nuns) who’ve mastered speaking (‘phreaking’) a traditional ‘spell’ (ie mantra) from a ‘grimoire’ (ie ‘grammar’) of all kinds of atomic vibration permutations for all different kinds of situations or things one might want to accomplish simply via use of one’s own vocal chords – like, say, dialing to anywhere in the world for free on the phone company’s dime. This is an entire branch of yoga all by itself that can be mastered just like practicing daily the piano to get to concert-hall recital level. Ever wonder why monks and nuns might not find monastery/convent life boring? Constant daily training in yogic disciplines like this might be one reason why. 🙂

    p.s. Thank you to the gentleman (I think it was a he?) who alerted me to the amazing Joybubbles!

    **I’m rapidly becoming convinced Eliphas Levi’s The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic is a serious Western Hermetic-lineage inquiry into the Sookshma Vishay Vigñān realm of existence and possibly even beyond that (haven’t read very far so can’t tell yet). Definitely looking forward to the next 4 years of book club discussions!

  242. Justin Patrick Moore #231, it’s not specifically about Thatcher, she just has the most succinct quotes. It’s that ideology that tells people they don’t have to care about their fellow citizens – it can even make throwing litter out of your car a source of pride.

    Happy Panda #233, on the question of how much individual action can do in the face of structural problems, I can change my mind several times an hour. 🙂

    Mary Bennett #247, I said the far left hates the ideology that the ruling class use to justify their position. It’s not just the capitalist ruling class either – similar beliefs were behind the horrors of Chinese population control. Yes, that kind of analysis is common enough on the British left. And it’s become more important now that such misanthropic ideologies have led some environmentalists astray.

    Fkader #253, have you considered that the tragedy of the commons was not so much a way of describing reality, but of shaping reality? Specifically creating disgust and revulsion at any attempt at collective solutions. Notice how nearly any bad thing can be defined as a tragedy of the commons if you stretch the definition far enough. Imagine an individual buys an area of land outright. They clear-cut the forest, strip mine the minerals, and leave a massive hole full of acid-rock runoff. How many people will call that a tragedy of enclosure? But I bet as soon as locals start dumping rubbish in the hole, now it’s a tragedy of the commons. 🙂

  243. David by the Lake, your thoughts about the pronoun “it” reminds me of an article by Robin Wall Kimmerer – about how calling the natural world “it” is objectifying in a way that probably hasn’t helped our attitude towards the Earth. Her essay, here, is thought-provoking in the best way — I actually did start to consider how strange it is that I use the same pronoun “it” for a metal gate as well as the butterfly resting on it. Her call to ditch the pronoun is obviously not going to be answered, but the less-lazy, more respectful way of thinking that she espouses has stuck with me. https://www.resilience.org/stories/2021-03-16/nature-needs-a-new-pronoun-to-stop-the-age-of-extinction-lets-start-by-ditching-it/

  244. “we found out that Reich was wrong; sexual permissiveness is not politically liberating. Anyone with a decent background in history could have looked at 18th century England and learned that in advance…”
    The movie Princess Carabou shows it pretty clearly too.
    My memory of the 60s and 70s was that one thing we lacked almost completely was any sense of history. One cause was the broader impact of the McCarthyism of the 50s. Much non-mainstream (or no longer mainstream) knowledge was suppressed. Another cause was a general intoxication with material well-being after 2 decades of Depression and world war. (This seems to be common when mass prosperity first arrives. US in the 50s, Europe in the 60s, Japan in the 80s and 90s, China now) Much knowledge had to be dug up and resurrected and much of that relearning happened too late in the game to help much during the window of openness.
    I have much enjoyed learning the history of western occultism on this blog and the richness of traditions that I had barely heard of and then only as objects of derision.
    To give Reich his due, the notion that neurosis manifests in the body and can be worked on through the body rather than with talking has proved fruitful.
    As we watch so much of humanity seemingly willing to walk toward the cliff* like lemmings, the question of what makes people at the level of society do things that an individual ought to be able to recognize the folly of, the question of how that happens and what can be done about it can be a useful one for people with many different notions of exactly what folly and wisdom consists of. Reich was one explorer of that question.
    *In JMG’s sense of what is coming, more like a series of smaller cliffs rather than one big one, but the basic point still holds.
    @Galen By the 1950s, Reich was intensely anti-Soviet. He even had his old books edited to add in comments about “Red Fascists” and about how the spirit of Nazism had migrated to Stalin’s Soviet Union. Many who renounced communism were treated quite well. Some made a career out of it. So it may be that what they said they persecuted him for was the real reason. That and a general climate that made it easy to persecute weirdos and made others scared of standing up for them.

  245. Relevant to the topic is a push by Balaji Srinivasan to have pseudonymous internet accounts tied to crypto for commenting on other people’s work. He’s a tech founder and investor and seems fed-up by the media’s constant negativity of anything they create in tech. (The negativity is not “we don’t need this” but centered more on “these tech people aren’t doing enough/make too much money/should give it away for free”.) He believes that most people have little to contribute to a conversation online and making them pay to make the contribution or alternatively have the person fielding the forum be able to pay people for comments that do add to the discussion, would help everyone. The idea that anyone can publicly comment on anything under the guise of free speech just encourages robo trolls. People’s public comments would also be tied to their pseudonymous internet account so a moderator could look and see the quality of the commenting they have done in the past.

    It’s an interesting concept. I, myself, don’t believe that everyone can make a quality contribution to every discussion. I also believe that quiet people or people who take awhile to gather their thoughts are also often left out or ignored because of the aggressive and loud people. I also believe that people refuse to take responsibility for their words or actions. They feel its their right to be able do or say whatever they want and everyone else just has to accept it and deal with it. More hard limits would be helpful to teach people consequences of their actions.

  246. @JMG

    “The notion that people should identify with their opinions is an odd one; I wonder where it came form.”

    From long experience with narcissists in my life, I can tell you that opposition to their opinions is treated as an existential threat. Their sense of superiority is so entrenched in their self-image that if you disagree with them, they see it as an attack against the very self they have set up, and forces them to look at the black hole that is at their center. Their reaction is to retreat in horror and turn on you with the viciousness of a cornered animal.

    Best to just walk away.

    Btw, the internet, and social media in particular, fosters narcissism, and it may be that things are really bad right in the real world because of it.

  247. JMG – in one of your replies above you take care to turn a binary into a ternary, by delineating three kinds of property – common property, private property and public property – each of which may be better considered and understood in relation to the other. And this is a very helpful lens, which brings some aspects of history into focus.

    Just for example, it is notable that the earliest resistance to the development of capitalism in Britain were not socialists, but commoners. Likewise, much of the resistance encountered in various places as capitalism spread outwards into other countries were also commoners. People whose commons were being enclosed, and turned into exploitable capital for someone else’s private gain. One of the notable aspects of many of these newly enclosed and then exploited commonses is the fact that they were not legal entities or state-owned/regulated entities, but customary ones. Custom being an important part of the dynamic preserving each commons for the use and benefit of its customary (but not legal) owners.

    Because a commons is not owned in a legal way, history shows little appetite in any state for defending a commons, and most commoners whose words history has recorded (not a “common” situation – ha! ha!) are aware that both state and market are co-operating to dispossess them from their custormary usage and customary protections of their “common rights” (per Linebaugh).

    Going back to an earlier thread, in which you were extremely tolerant of my harping on about a subject, for which I thank you. That subject being “private property rights” – and this thread throws into high focus – at least for me – what it is that makes me uneasy about that phrase. And it is this. States have always been keen to protect what gets called “private property” AFTER it is made private through some act of enclosure of what was formerly a commons, one which was formerly protected by custom, and by local usage, but never by law or by any arm of any state PRIOR to its enclosure.

    I would like to be able to find discourse that gives broad consideration to what might be a good ways to gain protection FOR common property (and also, incidentally, FOR public property) which also need STRONG property recognition, since both represent accumulations of capital built up by groups of people, which begin to look like excellent treasure troves to be mined and exploited by enclosers and privatisers, who, after their dispossessions are accomplished are inevitably strongly protected by their state’s “private property” laws. A really good example of this process is a topic you have also covered. Lodges and benevolent societies that created healthcare “commonses” for their members, were (once their “goodwill” and negotiating clout had been grown and matured by the efforts of their members) eventually gobbled up into the health insurance industry for private profit – a dispossession, not recorded anywhere in law.

    I’d like to add that I, personally, DO recognise the need for strong protection of all three kinds of property,
    but I suspect that in modern usage, the language for protecting one, is commonly abused as cover for failures to protect the others.

    Not forgetting the traditional ditty on this subject: 😉

    The law locks up the man or woman
    Who steals the goose from off the common
    But leaves the greater villain loose
    Who steals the common from off the goose.

    The law demands that we atone
    When we take things we do not own
    But leaves the lords and ladies fine
    Who take things that are yours and mine.

    The poor and wretched don’t escape
    If they conspire the law to break;
    This must be so but they endure
    Those who conspire to make the law.

    The law locks up the man or woman
    Who steals the goose from off the common
    And geese will still a common lack
    Till they go and steal it back.

  248. @David by the Lake – Your point on I/it vs I/You relating to the world is spot on. And I can’t count the number of times I’ve found myself using that same distinction in recent discourse on current topics and events.

    It seems to be a core distinction between locating oneself in a living ecosystem full of other “you’s” and locating oneself in a dead (but intended to be wish-fulfilling) machine, where it is too easy to slip into becoming an “it” along with every other component.

    I have found myself seeking out and randomly posting pictures of defunct machines being overtaken by weeds and life…. 😉

  249. Hi John Michael,

    Interestingly, free speech is not a thing down here, and it is by no means guaranteed and the penalties for defamation are vast indeed. There are times where I’m quite astounded by the words typed and sent out into the public domain by your fellow countrymen.

    It is worthwhile noting that just last year a pregnant lady was dragged from her home by the police for incitement on social media: ‘Sorry for my bimbo moment’: Woman apologises after being arrested live on Facebook over coronavirus lockdown post. The article also alleges by way of comparison that some forms of protest at the time were tolerated. I can’t make this stuff up.

    Anyway, I have a posted ‘Blog and Comment Code of Conduct’ for my website, which applies to me equally as it does to others. People know what they can expect when they visit, and what is also expected of them for their behaviour during their visit. It works, but is a rather unfashionable idea (and I modelled much of the website policies after having been subject to your blog policies for many years – TSW!) 🙂

    As a suggestion as a way out of the whole ‘trans’ issue in relation to female sports, perhaps trans people should establish their own trans leagues and compete on that basis? I noted that our New Zealand friends across the Tasman Sea appear to be pondering this issue: Fairness fades away as Laurel Hubbard lifts the ‘Oppression Olympics’ gold medal . Other articles about this subject were a little bit less politic. I’m old fashioned in this regard and believe that the women involved and their sports are worthy of better protections, but that may be an unfashionable perspective.

    Cheers

    Chris

  250. Mollari, thanks for this. I’d always wondered whether one of the main motivations behind trolling was simple laziness. As for self-control, I probably need to do a post on that crashingly unfashionable concept one of these days; the very short form is that if you don’t have the capacity for self-control, I guarantee you that someone else is controlling you…

    Ray, thank you for this; you’ve raised some important points. A commons, conversational or otherwise, always implies a boundary, and there will always be people on both sides of that boundary. The United States, with its cultural obsession with endless expansion, has a hard time with the concept of bounded commons, though admittedly that’s common for empires. (I’m thinking here of the famous British family who got into some kind of minor scrape in a Latin American country. When an official referred to them as “foreigners,” the father got angry and bellowed, “We’re not foreigners! We’re British!”)

    Lew, thanks for this. The publicity blurb is astonishingly clueless, though — far from “confined to the dark,” all these women were the subject of major biographies decades ago!

    Jessica, the deliberate erasure of history has been a major theme in American popular culture since the Sixties; the fact that the “new” thinking of the counterculture was warmed-over European romanticism from the early 19th century probably had a lot to do with that! As for Reich, I certainly don’t discount his real achievements; the specific book I mentioned was simply very off-putting, for the reasons I named.

    Denis, I think it’s a great idea — charge anonymous commenters some nominal fee, such as a penny a post, which you can avoid by using your real name and identifying details, would cut sharply down on robo-trolls and the like. In the same way, I’m very much in favor of charging the sender for emails — that would do a number on spam factories! The internet isn’t free in any meaningful sense; it costs a lot of money to provide the energy and maintain the hardware, and the illusion of free goodies is, as it usually is in today’s corporate world, bait to lure the clueless.

    Miriam, interesting. I’ll have to look into what’s known of narcissism, then.

    Scotlyn, that’s an important point. The commons was part of a whole world of customary economic entities that got destroyed in order to clear the way for the capitalist economy on the one hand, and expanding government on the other. If things follow the usual course, we’ll get another set of customary economic entities again, but only when capitalism and expansive government crash to ruin.

    Chris, well, we had a revolution and you didn’t, and I think that’s the difference!

  251. @JMG – charge for anonymous comments? I post as “anonymous” and sign my name at the bottom on your Dreamwidth account because they insist I have a Dreamwidth name which I have totally forgotten. And I am tired of wrestling with websites’ robots (I’m looking at you, gmail – or was that gmail?) whose “prove you;re not a robot” can’t be satisfied by *any* answer one can deduce!

    Now, charge a subscription fee, that’s doable.

  252. Darkest Yorkshire #261 Can you provide some examples? I can assert anything I want, but that doesn’t mean anyone else will be convinced. I also begin to suspect that the left in your country, UK?, must be a very different animal than our gang of grifters and poverty pimpers.

    In the USA, the environmental movement has indeed made some serious errors, but it is hardly discredited. Nor can it accurately be described as part of the “far left”. It is a scurrilous rhetorical trick of the right to describe anyone or anything which is not rah rah rah Free Enterprise!!!, Progress Forever!! as leftist, communist and probably foreign subversion.

  253. This is a great post. I appreciate that you state your community boundaries so that people know what your expectations are. The place I start to feel defensive and frustrated is when I’m told that I should follow the “platinum” rule – “Treat others as they would like to be treated”. If someone states that – I.e. I prefer the pronouns “He, him, his”. I’m can try to do that. But what about situations where that is not explicit or worse where what I assume is basically profiling?

    I know some of this frustration comes from my self image, “I am a respectful person”, and I am anxious when the route to being a respectful person seems obscure. But I also want to be respectful because it seems to be the most healthful and successful way to interact with people and I feel like obscure rules or lots of exceptions to the rules make rules useless.

    I guess that is why I dislike the “platinum” rule. If we all don’t walk around wearing a placard or symbol indicating our preference, how are we supposed to know?

    Sincerely,
    Candace

  254. “Mollari, thanks for this. I’d always wondered whether one of the main motivations behind trolling was simple laziness. As for self-control, I probably need to do a post on that crashingly unfashionable concept one of these days; the very short form is that if you don’t have the capacity for self-control, I guarantee you that someone else is controlling you…”

    I’d like to see that post!

    My guess is that the motivation behind internet trolling is a mix of at least three factors: the first is a widespread lack of self-control making anything else impossible for a sizable number of people; the second is that there’s an awful lot of pressure from governments, companies, and the like on people to hide how they really feel/think about a wide range of things, and giving people in a situation like that the apparent anonymity of the internet allows for an outlet for the resulting social pressures, in the form of an awful lot of spectacularly bad behaviour (thus the appeal of 4Chan and the like); and then there’s the fact that a very large fraction of the population was never taught the skills and worldview which make courtesy possible in the first place, and so lack the skills to participate in conversations aside from trolling of some form or other.

  255. Follow up thought: it’s occurred to me that most societies with complex social taboos have some way of releasing the resulting societal pressures. I wonder if the rise of “political correctness” and the rise of the various euphemisms and taboos on what can and cannot be said in public in the past few decades is related to the rise of the internet: since there does seem to be something to the GIFT* effect (Greater Internet F***wad Theory), which states that normal person+apparent anonymity+audience= horrible troll, it follows that the internet would generate trolls.

    This would of course alleviate the pressures caused by the (by today’s standards, mild) taboos of the 1980s and 1990s, as the internet began to establish itself. What this means though is that a lot of the pressures caused by restricting what could and could not be said in public went towards creating internet trolls, which gave these pressures an outlet which lacked any meaningful limitations for decades.

    Since those pressures didn’t have to find another outlet, since there was one already made, the usual processes by which restrictions on what can be said in public are usually stopped when it gets too far out of touch with society were preempted by the fact that anyone who wanted to violate these norms could do so online.

    Which raises the possibility that by restricting online activities, the major social media companies and governments may find that they’ve just created the conditions for a massive backlash against the very restrictions on what can and cannot be said that they’re trying to enforce.

    *It appears this was coined by Penny Arcade back in 2004. Warning: strong profanity: https://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19

  256. Dear JMG,

    Thank you for your moderation. Your blog is the only one where I often read the comments. You keep things on topic while also allowing authentic contributions that may not be quite on topic. Your effort is much appreciated.

    @erikalopez
    Your words touched something deep inside me. To transcend the pain, to accept it and realize I chose it from beyond to help me with my life task – that is life and the dance will go on. It is people like you that made San Francisco a special place for me at the time. But then I chose to return to my roots. In all places there are people worth bowing to if we can see the holiness and not feel threatened. Thank you

  257. @JMG, @Hereward, et al: I am feeling especially grateful for this forum and, recognizing it as a process, the host and members especially. Thank you — all of you — for making this such a great place and periodically really lighting my head on fire and extending my horizons!

    I’d heard of Karl Popper but never cleared time to read anything he had written (even though I had been gifted some books by him)! I used to think — or maybe, I’m coming to believe, I was led to believe — that philosophy didn’t really have much to contribute when you have “science” instead. Anyway, the cartoon and other comments led me to this, which I thought i would share as a fairly pertinent Karl Popper essay: https://www.economist.com/democracy-in-america/2016/01/31/from-the-archives-the-open-society-and-its-enemies-revisited
    —-
    Excerpt:
    In “The Open Society and its Enemies” I [Popper] suggested that an entirely new problem should be recognised as the fundamental problem of a rational political theory. The new problem, as distinct from the old “Who should rule?”, can be formulated as follows: how is the state to be constituted so that bad rulers can be got rid of without bloodshed, without violence?

    This, in contrast to the old question, is a thoroughly practical, almost technical, problem. And the modern so-called democracies are all good examples of practical solutions to this problem, even though they were not consciously designed with this problem in mind. For they all adopt what is the simplest solution to the new problem—that is, the principle that the government can be dismissed by a majority vote.

    In theory, however, these modern democracies are still based on the old problem, and on the completely impractical ideology that it is the people, the whole adult population, who are, or should by rights be, the real and ultimate and the only legitimate rulers. But, of course, nowhere do the people actually rule. It is governments that rule (and, unfortunately, also bureaucrats, our civil servants—or our uncivil masters, as Winston Churchill called them—whom it is difficult, if not impossible, to make accountable for their actions)….”
    —-
    Which brings me smack-head-first into something which has been really disturbing me for some months now. How can we possibly find our way through this dystopia? I feel like there is no place for someone like me to thrive anymore; and I know that can’t be useful!

  258. @Oilman2: re: “…It’s reasonably understood that in many cases and places, the power-mad, psychopathy prone actively seek out positions of authority. Deferring to those types has yet to result in a positive outcome in my experience.”

    I think it is pretty well established that authentic and hardcore psychopathy is something a small percentage of the population is born with — it’s probably at least 1%. This is distinct from what is called “sociopathy”, which is clearly an environomental response.

    Netflix has a documentary series on medieval Japan and the 16th century shoguns battling for survival and supremacy (https://www.netflix.com/title/80237990) which really got me thinking…

    In a really brutal world, which the world was and will likely become again, irredeemable psychopathy would be a survival advantage on a clan level, so it makes sense it would be conserved. But there would also be “natural” means of keeping it in check:

    In a “natural” world both the other psychopaths and non-psychopaths would regularly remove psychopaths from the gene pool. What happens when there is no death penalty and, in fact, no real means of keeping the psychopath population in check…ONLY ENDLESS SELECTION *FOR*?

    I suspect that is what we are looking at now. And, on top of peak oil and the other problems we are facing, this could be something to factor in to the picture and the prognosis.

  259. @ JMG – After a good night’s sleep, I had second thoughts about mentioning the book. I wondered if it might just be a Feminist screed? If your library happens to get it, it might be worth taking a glance at. Sometimes, new biographies have new information. Recently uncovered caches of letters, etc.. Sometimes, they’re just a rehash of same old, same old. Your mileage may vary? Lew

  260. I finally got around to this piece. Thank you for putting it together so clearly – couldn’t agree more.

    The bizarre twist on all this is how some folks are trying to convince people that Garrett Hardin is an ‘ecofascist’ with some mental gymnastic and character twisting like you have described. This is due to things like ‘Tragedy of the commons’ and ‘Lifeboat economics’. It is almost entirely just people screaming and kicking that they do not want to acknowledge that there are hard ecological limits on the world. Paul & Anne Ehrlich and Pentti Linkola are now all being labelled as such because they dare to mention limits as well.

  261. The Discussion about the use and reservation of common areas is of interest to me now because my family are trying to buy some land together. This is difficult because everyone has different ideas. So politness and courtesy as well as accomadation of everyone requirements is nessesary. It is a very difficult process and the end result is not likely to make any one happy but hopefully we can come to some agreement that will satisfy everyone. All I can say as someone involved in the process at this moment is it is very difficult. Western society has destroyed this way of thinking and now my brothers and sister ( in our 50’s ) are having a lost go at restablishing common property for the children sakes. My mother is the driving force but I am afraid if she dies before any land is bought it will not happen.

  262. @: Chris at Fernglade #268

    “Interestingly, free speech is not a thing down here, and it is by no means guaranteed and the penalties for defamation are vast indeed. There are times where I’m quite astounded by the words typed and sent out into the public domain by your fellow countrymen.”

    You know as well as Me that Australia sits in a really weird place. Free speech is not guaranteed and yet most of us operate as though it is. So it is always a shock to folk when they see speech being actively oppressed and backed up by law. It is still somewhat rare but it seems to picking up pace with the years and the ever closer eye on social media. Its not a good look and if it gets too heavy handed then I suspect the backlash will be significant.

  263. @Happy Panda:

    Some two centuries of superb scholarly work have made a very very strong case that Sanskrit, for all its magnificent grammar and sound system, actually evolved from a much earlier and less magnificent every-day language, now usually called Proto-Indo-European, which is also the ancestor of such other languages as Greek, Latin, Armenian, Hittite, Tocharian, Avestan, and all the Celtic, Germanic, Slavic and Baltic languages–cousins, as it were, to Sanskrit, every one of them. Sanskrit can be shown to have been a product of very slow linguistic evolution as one among very many every-day languages, not any sort of independent revelation or discovery, sprung full-blown (as it were) from the brow of the Creator.

    I hold, therefore, that the yogis and spiritual teachers whom you mention, though they may be right about the spiritual applications of Sanskrit sounds, are not actually right when they claim some special origin or status for that language. It would be wonderful if it were so, but, alas! the evidence is very strongly against it.

  264. @Gnat, the dynamics of psychopathy in society is a fascinating subject (to the degree you are not being subjected). The corrupt seek power, and once they acquire it, they naturally seek to make it absolute. The hysteroidal cycle that Lobaczewski described involves that, plus people’s tendency to forget the consequences of laxity. Psychopaths tend on the average to be wonderful salesmen, so now it appears we, just about everywhere but especially in the West, have been sold a way of organizing society that looks wonderfully free but favors psychopaths.
    I disagree about psychopathy being an advantage at the clan level. The main advantage a psychopath has is promiscuity. Otherwise they are a real liability. “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” describes a typical case. The kids were lucky never to meet him. A psychopath can talk a white swan black and vice versa, and normal kids tend to wind up seriously confused at best, with the psychopathic ones learning early on lots of effective tricks. In general, they made terrible strategists aside from for their own short-term personal gains.
    I thus doubt if even the most ruthless warlords of Japan’s warring era were psychopaths. That era and the Edo era that followed it were both marked by an emphasis on a chivalrous code of honor. Most of the warlords died young, considering 30 to be more years than their allotted. It was a very tough time for all.
    Confucianism emphasizes deference to superiors more than most ethical codes do, because instability is so bad for all involved. It draws up a clear social contract on the other hand. If you ever lead a tour group of Japanese, you will see that they defer to you, but they also expect you to indulge them. Confucianism also puts a strong focus on the behavior of officials. You will see from time to time in news from China that when someone in an authoritative position is accused of corruption, they can be utterly ruthless in dealing with them. I’m certain psychopaths sneak into power nonetheless, but there is less leeway for them to give full expression to their desires.
    Among the elites I know in Japan, I have not been able to detect signs of psychopathy, which could mean nothing more than that they hide it well. On the other hand I’ve seen lots of psychopaths among political dabblers, religious leaders, hang glider landing field tyrants, corner desk occupiers and so on. A dime a dozen there.

  265. gnat #278, I believe that sociopathy is a moral choice. There are plenty of folks around who test low on empathy who are nevertheless not sociopaths. I would say it is a moral choice for non empaths as to whether to take pleasure in the pain of others. It does seem to be rather addictive for those who make the wrong choice, so the possibility of redemption would seem to be an open question.

    The problem with the death penalty is that, human nature being what it is, it is never enforced fairly. The temptation legally to take out one’s enemies, or anyone whom a loud faction dislikes is too great, and it seems that few resist it.

  266. Teresa #245, Abebooks is owned by Amazon. Alibris is my goto before considering those.

  267. Patricia, so noted! I’m surprised that Dreamwidth doesn’t have a way to access an account when you’ve lost your screen name — you might contact them via their website and ask.

    Candace, thanks for this. I find the “platinum rule” utterly unreasonable, as it assumes that you have some way of knowing how other people want to be treated, and it also assumes that other people are going to be reasonable in their expectations of how they should be treated. (What if one of them decides that they’re divinitykin, or whatever the label would be, and insists that you ought to worship them, accept everything they say as a revelation of absolute truth, and send them 10% of your income every month as an offering?) I’m far from sure the golden rule is workable — there’s the old point that if you’re a masochist, practicing the golden rule would involve inflicting pain on everyone you meet! I’d like to suggest that what we might as well call the silver rule — “treat everyone according to the dictates of ordinary courtesy” — is a far saner and more functional approach.

    Mollari, hmm! That makes a great deal of sense. Thank you. As for your follow-up thought, that also makes sense, and fits in with some of the ideas I’ve been developing, so thank you again.

    Uwelo, you’re most welcome and thank you.

    Gnat, Popper’s idea is a useful one, though it has its limits; I really do need to reread The Open Society and its Enemies sometime soon, and discuss it in a post or three. As for your feeling that there’s no place for you in today’s society, that’s a very common feeling, and has been a common feeling for millennia — and for good reason. Every human society is set up to function at the lowest common denominator of human possibility, because that’s the only way it can function at all — but that always leaves those significantly above that lowest common denominator feeling out of place. The solution pretty much always works out to distancing yourself from society, at least in the privacy of your own head, and finding something else to use as a focus for your attention and interest.

    Lew, I’ll certainly take a look at it.

    Michael, of course. People who know perfectly well that their lifestyles are ecologically unsustainable, but who aren’t willing to consider changing the way they live, are going to come up with reasons to denounce those who point out the obvious. I’ve been saying for years now that before all this is over, the Sierra Club will be advocating for the strip-mining of the national parks, and will denounce anyone who questions that policy as fascist or what have you.

    Sue, it’s extremely difficult. A society fixated on the idea of personal entitlement has a hard time grasping the concept of the common good!

  268. @Robert Mathiesen

    I don’t dispute what the researchers are saying.

    Hmm…perhaps I’m explaining it poorly. Sanskrit didn’t jump out fully evolved anymore than any other language. Language came first in humans, well actually sounds came first, then language, then yogis noticing the effects of those sounds came third. I do think though that Vedic sages noticed that certain categories of syllables can be grouped in accordance with the kinds of results the pronunciation of those syllables bring about. And they did so because it becomes obvious once anyone brings their own breath rate down to 6 per minute or less.

    Which is not at all the typical concern of any human language. The ordinary concern is communication. The higher level practice is noticing what the sounds of that language is capable of doing at the pranic and mystic levels of one’s existence alongside the communication. Science is beginning to notice things like this too courtesy of MRIs and brain scan studies.

    To my knowledge Sanskrit is one of the few, surviving older languages to be so grouped and taught with that second goal in mind as its primary focus – the focus on the effects of the language’s sounds itself for aiding human evolution.

    As Violet mentioned Hebrew is also likely to be among these few languages where Realized Beings helped categorized Hebraic syllables in accordance with their pranic and higher mystical effects. I think this is what the Vedic sages mean when they say Sanskrit is a discovered language but I admit this is only my guess. You have reminded me that perhaps they mean something by that saying that that will only be obvious to Mystics and Sages? I will concede my enthusiasm on the topic likely led to an insupportable assumption so I will retract it and just admit I honestly don’t know what they mean by that statement. Or I guess they could just be wrong as you submit. I admit I am not inclined to believe this but since I can’t discount it outright it is as legitimate an answer as any other.

    The syllables of Sanskrit do work as an ordinary conversant language as a small handful of groups in India do claim it as their everyday household language but it’s also a language where every syllable had R&D done by yogis as to the effects those syllables create to building toward Objective Consciousness. So is Hebrew going by these criteria. That doesn’t mean those two languages didn’t evolve like any other language. In fact, if my hypothesis is correct I suspect some enterprising R&D in english-speaking countries among a group of mantra enthusiasts could do the same project and then English could join that small group too! Sadhguru has suggested the world still awaits extensive R&D by yogic and tantric enthusiasts in other languages along these exact lines.

    Saying ‘son’ in english and ‘sun’ will have the same vibratory response in the brain and body at the pranic level though the meaning of both will be clearly different. But the pranic vibratory effect on one’s body and mind will be identical because the vibration at the pranic level of both is the same. If one’s concern is to begin exploring the fuller potential of what being human is it will aid humanity to point out the vibration of those syllables will have long-term effects on one’s own body and mind as well as the body and mind of the listeners and this is a completely separate, but nonetheless legitimate evolutionary impact on humanity. Separate from whatever meaning everyday conversation gives. If that is so it throws a whole new light on things like advertising, poetry, plays, songs, that annoying jackhammer a construction company is running down the street from your house, constant radios and tvs blaring everywhere in every establishment 24/7, etc etc, etc.

    It’s just one that humanity currently gives insufficient attention to. Only monks and nuns bother with paying attention to stuff like the woo-woo pranic effects on one’s body and brain of language syllables and who wants to be one of those boring people, right? Or so goes the thinking of most of the people I’ve known all my life (they also tended to be the same people who were convinced they’re immune to the effects of advertising but I digress).

    Anyway, I still think Awen is very likely a legit version of the Cosmic Sound and no one has ever claimed it was discovered. 😛

  269. @Mary Bennett–So I had to go reread the first chapter of Farewell my Lovely. I had forgotten the way in which Chandler depersonalized the black man who was thrown through the doorway by Moose Malone. He refers to the man as “it” which might be seen as racist, except that Chandler does not do this to other black characters. Therefore I interpreted that scene as portraying the result of being treated as a thing. Moose tosses the man aside, just as he might kick in a locked door in his way. Moose refers to blacks as dinges–I don’t recall any stronger epithets, and I’m pretty sure Marlowe himself does not use derogatory slang, and I don’t think the N word appears in any of his works. Possibly not publishable by reputable publishers at the time? Anyhow, I suspect the reason Chandler isn’t being canceled is that he isn’t being read by the sort of people who occupy the cancel culture. How could something written over 50 years ago possibly be relevant?

    re: building identity on opinions. But that is a staple of Christianity! What you believe is all important. Heresy is a difference of opinion on matters of doctrine, practice and interpretation and it has to be pretty important to one’s identity for people to risk the terrible penalties meted out to heretics through most of Christian history in the West. Not to mention the religious wars once the Reformation got under way. But earlier, people identified with philosophical schools. I am a Stoic, I am a Epicurean, he is a Platonist are all statements about the opinions a person hold, about important issues. However philosophers were a distinct minority. Most people identified with family: “I am a Rippetoe” or occupation, “I am a shoemaker” or city or nation, “I am a Venetian” or experiences “I have been initiated at Eleusis” I am a veteran of Marathon” or accomplishments, “I won the drama prize at Athens.”

    Jesse and others re. rainbow flag—IMO the word “Church” to describe an institution is about as useful as the word “animal” to describe a life form. The practices, doctrine, membership, etc. of institutions labeled churches can vary so tremendously. Even within the same denomination the social climate of one town and the personality of the pastor may lead to vehement condemnation of sexual sins while a few miles away the parishioners may never hear homosexuality referred to at all. I read a book some years ago that pointed out that many religious teachers don’t even know what their church’s official doctrine is in matters of sex. The book was by “Dr. Ruth” (a popular sexual guidance counselor whose doctorate is in education) and a rabbi (I think) and they interviewed various religious leaders about what they taught about sexual morality. Some were positive that masturbation, for example, was a sin even though their church had no explicit teaching on the matter.

    I would also like to hear more about what being a Shinto priestess involves.

    I also greatly appreciate the two forums that JMG provides. Sometimes my comments sink without any response–but at least they are not met with personal attacks, complete misinterpretations, etc. Someone commented on FB that if you post that you prefer apples to oranges at least one response will be along the lines of “Why do you hate oranges. You have ignored the other citruses as well as non-citrus fruit. Do your research, its not my job to educate you. I am literally shaking with rage right now.” So sad.

    Rita

  270. JMG you raised the issue of trolls. I guess there’s the commercial kind, for example, trolls paid to either provide positive on-line spin for a company, or the opposite ie to discredit a competing enterprise.

    What do you make of government-paid trolls? Their uses can be many, for example, to disrupt “dissident” discussion sites via inflammatory commentary or by loading them with irrelevancies as a distractionary measure. Or by making particularly astute and unwelcome observations disappear off-screen by causing them to move up the discussion thread. Or by posing as bona-fide commenters with honestly held opposing viewpoints. Or as you say, “concern” trolls.

    One such on another blog was outed several years ago. This troll was notoriously disruptive but in the end was sloppy, failing to adequately cover their tracks and so there was zero doubt as to who the troll was working for.

    Government (more particularly Deep State) trolling sure is creepy but I wonder whether it is even legal, whether it abridges the first amendment right of freedom of speech, or whether it contravenes other laws. I mean it’s one thing if government employees honestly identify themselves as such. But it’s quite another for powerful intel agencies or the military or other deep state organizations to interfere in public discussion under a fake identity or under false pretenses. If it IS legal, then should it be? 

    If such deep state meddling on websites or social media is made illegal in the US, then it’s a small thing to farm out the function to foreigners or to cover tracks in some other way or for law enforcement to choose to not investigate.

    “No criminal intent” said Comey of Hillary’s email practices. This simple exculpation was the stuff of genius. With this magic three word spell an investigator can make disappear mountains of malfeasance. 

  271. Final addendum:

    I am going to change the following sentence on my blog commentary since I can’t actually support it.

    “mantras are based on Sanskrit which originally was not meant to be an everyday language”

    Obviously it is an everyday language for some people. Many mantras are based on Sanskrit but I don’t know about whether it was not meant to be an everyday language. That was admittedly my assumption about it being a discovered language.

    It was an everyday language for at least some people and then the R&D followed from that. So I guess in a way I am agreeing with Robert’s points about what researchers have discovered investigating the various proto-languages of that group.

  272. Oh, yes, Miriam, narcissists are extremely difficult to deal with. They are the centre
    of their own universe and therefore of THE universe. Disagreement is an unforgivable sin.

  273. @Robert Mathiessen

    I’m regularly astonished by words in European languages that have obvious roots in India. There’s a fair few recent borrowings here such as pundit or bungalow, but the sort of thing that wakes me up in the middle of the night is noticing the similarities between raj and reich for example or while going through comments here, maha and magne since the g isn’t usually pronounced. Charlemagne would perhaps have been Mahacharley if the Holy Roman Empire thing had been moved east.

    I’ve just noticed as I write this that although Mahacharley although obviously made up, sound vaguely plausible, Mahacharles doesn’t. I may be mentally riffing off ‘Maharishi’, or is there a rule that a Maha name needs two syllables after it?

  274. One thing I noticed, raising my littles, is that many adults (Intermountain West, US) really dislike curtesy. If you tell your child “This is Miz Jones” you get a reaction of “Oh, it’s fine, you can call me Suzie, honey,” addressed to the child. My generation’s a bit better than the older generations about allowing some distance between people and not everything requires intimate terms all the time, but the slightly older generations, no, they want to be on intimate terms right up front. (My kids’ generation generally address teachers and friends as Miz or Mister First Name.)

    Of course for teens these days who wish to be shocking, they have only two choices, it seems: they can either use racial and sexual perjoritives, or they can be exquisitly formal, creative, and crib historical insults from whatever sources they find. Mr. Winston Churchhill is a favorite source of material for mine.

  275. @Lady Cutekitten, regarding Shinto priestess duties, I am currently only practicing on my own, because we moved away from the shrine I was initially affiliated with (it’s in Tokyo so completely off-limits for me currently due to my sensitivities) and the Fuji Faith group (though I have promised them to attend at least four times a year). Because of the corona crisis, I can’t introduce myself and find a way to participate in my new community, though ideally that is what I would do.
    If I were still at the Asakawa Kompira Shrine in Tokyo, I would be senior priestess and would preside over the monthly ceremonies and special annual ones. It would involve hand-writing a prayer in ancient Japanese each time and making other preparations. The more effort the priests put into this, the more spiritual power the shrine has and the greater the participants’ ability to connect with the divine there. There are certain sutras I would recited on my way up the mountain to protect everyone from the negative history of the location (strafed during WWII). Sweeping the steps up the mountain, collecting offerings from the forest, preparing and arranging store-bought offerings. Most importantly, it is being there for the community, and when they have hardship, having the resources on hand to help or comfort them.
    With the Fuji Faith group, my duties are along the lines of keeping dying traditions alive. And dangnabit, I’ve got to finish my book about them! That is most important.
    In both cases, I memorized quite a number of standard sutras and prayers, and I continue to memorize more.

  276. I note that society has always had its people who thought they were something else, and they were the subject of old “insane asylum” stories. Like the two patients, each of whom thought she was The Virgin Mary. When they were put together in the same room, they argues it out until one of them said, “then I must be your mother, St. Anne.”

    But now they’re out loose and running the asylum.

  277. JMG : my take is that Imperium is the bait the gods use to sucker some up and coming group into agreeing to run the world for the good of everyone else. Since its better to have one gang of crooks in charge. Like steroids it has deleterious long term effects. Not aware of a godly Empire! Even my beloved brits put boers in concentration camps. I do think that part of the NATO syndrome is that, per Griffiths The Garden of their Dreams, so many waves of invaders have come out of Asia (mostly) to traumatize the rest of the world. So when Europeans got the power they acted very roughly towards those areas out of genetic memory partly

  278. JMG – I was greatly heartened by your earlier comment to the effect that the commons (although since a commons needs delineation, and there are many, many of them, that really should be “commonses” – whether read in a Gollum voice or not 😉 ) can recover all by itself… if the conditions it needs are applied. Sort of like an ecosystem, or any other living complex adaptive system.

    That is to say, the story, as I am now beginning to understand it, is not so much that “the commons was, and the commons will be”, but that “commonses are plentiful, perennial, easy to spot when you know what you are looking for* and liable to already be present wherever two or three are gathered together, but that each one could do with some loving care, effective maintenance and some member asserted protectiveness in the face of “a[n expanding] capitalist economy on the one hand, and expanding government on the other” neither of which are the least bit friendly to limits, especially limits on their exansiveness.

    Helping one another to story what it means to be a commoner, to belong to a commons, and to enjoy common responsibilities as well as to protect common rights, is coming together as a useful way for me to put energy into what I want to see.

    Thank you for some of the seed thoughts that are now sprouting in this ground.

    * Your WOH description (as explained by Owen to Justin) of the land you can fall into if you come on a hole in the quilt is an excellent description of what I mean by “knowing what you are looking for…” 🙂

  279. @ gnat RE: psychos
    @ ALL RE: commons

    So, by your thinking, we have 1% of 360 million as psychos? That’s a mere 3.6 million psychos in the USA alone. I think that with zero consequences for people currently in power and doing bad things, that these types have gravitated there the same way any other species fills a verdant niche. We haven’t even included those simply have a sadistic streak and are currently suffering zero consequences.

    I WANT MY CONSEQUENCES….LOL

    The definition of ‘brutal’ is completely subjective, as one can plainly see when reading any ‘news’ available. Remember the ‘brutal’ capitol rioters?

    I believe a very large part of our problems concern consequences; specifically when laws and government are actively shielding people from consequences of their actions. This is one very big reason I believe in constitutional carry wrt firearms – as Heinlein said, “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”

    I identify with that quote because it implies consequences, which are in short supply no matter which article you choose to read or listen to. It’s a big part of why our commons have been corrupted – nobody is allowed to defend themselves unless you have the money or power to play the established game.

    JMG obviously believes in consequences, and his enforcement of same makes this place available to any who want to express their views in civil fashion. I have utmost respect for him to run this blog as he sees fit – he is the one spending the time to make it what it is.

  280. Dear Uwelo, Robert, and Jasper – thanks for the up nods. (smile)

    —–

    Good Morning, Miss Violet–

    (Good morning! And wow this got long, but i want to not bury this question i’d love for you to do a treatise on: YES! Why did “queerness” and all this “inclusivity” actually KILL everything sexy and mysterious nuanced and complicated??? please talk about this because you’re onto when i threw my hands up in boredom. and YES! straight sex seems hella RADICAL! holding hands and kissing is downright CRAZY! i had a few of the younger cats in their 20s not fear me, so i’d welcome them if they we were sweet, but the moment i said no intercourse, they’d RELAX and be the cutest sweetest adorable curious questioning and loving ANGELS. no lie. that’s always telling.)

    i had to rest up after responding to Miss Patricia and change up my approach to you, because yes- you show up on a different “plane” and demand another telephone number altogether. that’s why people run up and kiss you. i’ve admired you here for a long time and having you respond directly to ME, i must admit, i was a tad starstruck and whole lot HONORED.

    so i had to think a lot to get underneath your words because you are not so “vanilla” as you pretend you are! you “test” me! (smile)

    it is actually “vanilla” to have extreme theatrical SEX to me, but the height of true perversion to play out one’s sadomasochism in Real Life as people like you and me and others here, do.

    i had to rest up to cut beneath the public conversation and here goes:

    i don’t know anything anymore.

    regarding “Feminism,” even i am still very confused about how language and concepts have been used to trick or confuse me. for instance, i took it as a given that many people “knew” that feminism used the civil rights movement to convince the world they were victims all along, as if they had no influence or benefit from being the other half of white men’s power. and they’ve been able to convince the world they are minorities or victims–economically, socially, all other ways–and get put into permanent quotas while white men are the only ones not in any quotas.

    everyone has been taught to bow at the altar of The White Woman, and rescue her from the train tracks or the beast—or be LIKE her.

    the academic side of this argument is better enunciated by Dr Tommy Curry’s work. he started Black Men’s Studies. and you’d roll your eyes after seeing what Critical Race Theory has wrought, BUT i argue that Dr Tommy Curry’s work and his book, “Man Not,” binds MY mind as a female who is back to speaking to my brothers in the 5D.

    i sound like i’m meandering but i’m trying to tie many concepts together: Tommy Curry’s work is so powerful and mind-twisting to me because he sounds out every syllable of The Black Man’s Dilemmas, things you can only read in his eyes because you understand EMPATHIZE with such a constant level of pain or dare i say… INVISIBILITY.

    Tommy Curry talks about how the suffragettes hijacked the LANGUAGE to position themselves as worse off than blacks. that white women shouldn’t be beneath blacks. that sort of thing. i get it.

    but my point was not to rub white women’s noses in anything as we all emulate white women and as white women yoga and have straight hair, so will WE all. because now everyone, except the ones who need it, have co-opted any struggle for fairness or justice for black men OR THE POOR.

    black women exploited the body of George Floyd by enriching themselves, in the name of their own black lives mattering more than their brothers.

    i find it ALL disgusting and that’s why i’ve recanted EVERYTHING now. we are all complicit. myself included and especially.

    and in all this, their is FREEDOM in being a “sinner” and just admitting i’m an Eternal Shmuck, right? so that’s where my surrender and humility comes from. because i’m bound to mess up in a hot second and have to apologize for SOMETHING.

    ANGELS. i’m starting to believe in them. in US. i think now that maybe i wasn’t so crazy when i died as i was and had a vision a repetitious thought that…

    IT CAN’T ALL BE OVER LIKE THIS WHEN THE WORLD IS SO MIRACULOUS

    ANGELS ARE HERE ON EARTH AND WE’RE SUPPOSED TO WAKE EACH OTHER UP BECAUSE IT’S SOME KIND OF EPIC LOVE BATTLE

    5D AND PSYCHIC STUFF IS GONNA BE POPPIN’ AS MORE AND MORE LOST AND OBLIVIOUS TO READING EYE CONTACT/BODY LANGUAGE… IT’S LIKE BEING ANIMAL BUT PRIVATELY WHILE BEING SURVEILLED

    THE UNDERGROUND IS EMERGING BUT NOT VIA CHEAP REAL ESTATE OR GHETTOS RIGHT NOW / INTERNET AND ALLEYWAYS LIKE ECOSOPHIA AND WOLFSTREET ARE NEW INCUBATORS FOR US FINDING EACHOTHER AND SPARKING EACH OTHER BACK TO LIFE IN OUR LOCAL AREAS

    AND JOHN MICHAEL GREER IS DOING PERFORMANCE ART DADDYING IN TEACHING AND RE-TEACHING US HOW TO IMAGINE AGAIN AND HOW TO WALK NEW IDEAS IN THE NEW WORLD

    AND WE CAN TAKE BACK THE WORLD / IT NEVER TOOK MUCH BEFORE. DON’T GET HUNG UP ON WHAT “TAKING BACK MEANS” OTHER THAN FROM THE DEAD WHO’RE MAKING OUR LIVING LIVES HELL (THAT’S ALL I’M HERE FOR. I’M A PIECE OF FLINT)

    So Miss Violet, i think it’s obvious you’re an Angel. for real. words are horrid but any other words would smell as sweet.

    to that, “vanilla” is too archaic and irrelevant a word for the way you love. you love and shtup and touch like an earth quake. if your posts have the vibe that you took a bath and lit candles before every and each post you write, then your in-person must be POW!

    the bedroom sex sadomasochisms and glitches are childish distractions compared to your focus and how you live like you’re CONSTANTLY going into women’s rooms in the airports on a daily basis and coming out… REGAL.

    because i’m struggling to relay the same thing. i go mainly to Wolfstreet website and write there because while it’s purported to be a “MONEY SITE,” it’s actually where i have to go to try and understand REGULAR PEOPLE. the ones who started and perpetuate this machine and system.

    as an artist trying to make good in Their World, i became complicit in the propaganda, in perpetuating the myth of “look at me i published books i’m HEARD! isn’t that GREAT?” it wasn’t. i had no life. i was living for a story later. it was b.s.

    and now i’m atoning and taking my art back to the streets by living it out in the open because i learned that men’s ability to love many women or men wasn’t a pig dog thing like i’d only thought, but it was the ability to see the god in so many. and that kind of sex can …blow a person’s mind.

    i basically think The Good Life = Being Truly Deeply Loved will and can inoculate much of the world from a suicidal system.

    i’ve given up on all other forms of fighting because it all descends into a fight for victimhood and James Baldwin’s despair at the end seemed to be because he realized no one would GET this. it’s a different way of THINKING and SEEING the world.

    i think it’s time to go tits out as there’s no face left to save for the likes thumbs ups and numbers. / and Mr Norman Lund: the reason i think our generation (X) will make a comeback is because WE HAVE TO. we’ve no choice anymore.

    so Dear Miss Violet, i think you are anything BUT vanilla. i laughed when i read that and thought, “oh! it’s gonna be like THAT, now is it?” / i have my ways of deflecting, too. i play The Devil and try and scare people away with my big hair before they get too close.

    so i understand and agree that you have to deflect Milo’s more …”rougher” approach to what’s going on. but i see him as another priest. why? because he started out younger with older men, and i tend to see that as a way of taking in the prior generation’s dreams and broken hearts and gives you an intense understanding that adds to an even further-alienating precociousness.

    Milo’s this generation’s beautiful meat packing district sex in empty trucks now that everywhere is gentrified. he’s taking that entire district on in his PERSONA, to hold a line from caving in. he’s doing a SERVICE, even as even i want to look away. he needs direction and understanding from someone in his world who’s a little “off.” they’re very rare.

    you hold the same talents but directed in a way that makes people wanna kiss you out of the blue and that’s what i’m trying to LEARN and teach. because it’s a power that is only MORE in line with what i think the Quakers were on about.

    i left them because they became bougie and gentrified–as everything has–but now like Johnny Appleseed stories, my experience returns me to understanding everything ANEW.

    and that’s what i want to do as an artist struggling with my own racisms and sexisms and messed-up-isms and hypocrisies and show we’re not EVIL for being imperfect. once we can realize we’re shumucks it’s freeing, not to mention, FUNNY, and then supposedly we can move beyond always finding someone else to take our miseries out on.

    i don’t mean to be preachy on Sunday. i’m just saying: MISS VIOLET I SEE YOU! Thank you for being open about your work and process. it dared me to slice a vein a bit here and admit my corniest desires.

    my idea of a successful romance doesn’t even involve consummation anymore, because i simply want to remind them of real life sweetness off the magic phones again.

    i write this out because we’ve all been gentrified and have no underground daily life in which to inspire each other to up our freaky personal selves in public. so anyone on the sidelines who can, if you feel the spark… GO. mess up. report back.

    i think those of us who thought we were half dead, we were washed up here for a REASON. and you know what? if i’m wrong, so what? the work of finding and testing new stories is on us, the ones who imagine and test experiment discuss. art is hardly woo woo airy fairy. but it IS.

    i think Miss Violet, we love because it is the fastest way of defibrillating people back to LIFE. this is what the players can do but now it’s radical to NOT have sex. that’s the key to how i can even do what i do–get in many people’s heads and hearts. i cannot let them inside me so casually.

    now that i know what is possible, i cannot accept inferior love–physically romantically sexually or emotionally.

    and i think the best that i can relay that in my daily relations, i realize THAT is the most radical thing i can possibly do.

    this is Jesus stuff and now that i’m here, it’s a lot more trippy for me to try and even get through the New Testament for the FIRST TIME. everything feels the same NOW.

    either i can feel despair that this is still going on and worse NOW, or i can feel hope that we’ve hit the end of the line on things going on as they have much longer.

    we have to show–love as a form of art and dissention and fight which may mean stand STILL, right? we have to take theatre back to real LIFE now that real life is all THEATRE.

    brilliant./not me. THE PROBLEM IS SO SIMPLE but hardly love could be called VANILLA, Miss Violet. because money – beyond one’s basic needs– is all about craving some abstract insatiable need for “love.”

    we artists thinkers lovers poets are up. this is BIBLICAL. there’s no point in complaining because it’s the same side of the Victim Coin. it takes away ENERGY.

    Papa Greer covered this in class early on: THEY DEPEND ON YOUR CONTINUED DESPAIR. it enervates you and keeps you passive.

    there’s no euphemism for love. that’s the end of the line. basically, we’ve ALL gotta collectively run like girls with our skirts in our pantyhose with toilet paper tails hanging down like a wedding train and we’ve gotta swagger and OWN it.

    that’s MY job as an artist next: to make being imperfectly leaky and HUMAN hot as hell again. anything less and i’m back to being a bad kind of pussy. is there any “bad” kind of pussy? you bet. and it’s not gonna be ME.

    you pick your own future. none of us gets to sit this one out and criticize with trollery. nah. that’s over. we’re going for erections. Tom Robbins wrote something that kept me going for years: “write what ever gives you a hard on; even if you’re a woman.”

    Perfect. / People like Miss Violet will keep you from biting your tongue as you remember Love. yeah. i really believe in this stuff. and i can take a punch. you HAVE to be able to take a punch to leave the woman’s room with a regal face.

    i believe in this approach– the love thing— because when you FEEL it, you cannot have words twisted as well around you. you FEEL when something is right or wrong – as in, does it do harm? you THINK differently. it’s Papa Greer and Mama Sara. you FEEL the solidity. it is rings radiating around them as surely as if you can see and FEEL them.

    now that i’m here, i see how we’ve ALL made men’s lives worth less than nothing while we traipse around fighting over Victimhood Status. THERE IS NO ENERGY THERE. therapists all my life loved wanking off to my “tragedies” while i was happier than THEY were.

    that’s when i realized The Story is a crock.

    we’ve got remakes of “the handmaid’s tale” as if men have made us all machines when we’ve done that to men to treat their lives as disposable regarding war and crappy jobs and sexless marriages.

    YOU FEEL IT’S WRONG. i am inoculated from b.s. when refuse to accept the subjugation of ANYONE because it feels wrong. not like anyone deserves it because they did this or exude this evil hormone. no. no more. it’s a cancerous form of solving problems that begets ..all THIS insanity and incongruity.

    so that’s why i gave up all my “-isms.” i get Baldwin’s despair of ever making a case for a new way as long as people couldn’t see beyond words abstraction and the limitations of their own knowledge (humility).

    and actually i believe. maybe those of us who thought we were the crazy nasty messed up monster ones UNTIL THIS YEAR.. .it’s time to step up because all that pain was for a reason.

    that’s how i see the story now. i can’t HELP it. i’m optimistic because we COME from many years of much wailing and gnashing of teeth. (wink)

    Dear Miss Violet i veered off, but please answer why “queer” killed EVERYTHING interesting and hot and why straight sex and honoring your beloved is more terrifying thrilling and transcendent than tinsel sadomasochism.

    it’s time for the GOOD stuff. / it’s like now that straight white girls are the ones having anonymous middle of the night meat truck sex with people they swiped LEFT on earlier that day… being pinned in the missionary position on a kitchen floor with my apron over my head (even though James does all the cooking / don’t look at REALITY!) and being told to stop talking with a hand over my mouth…is enough to make me swoon AGAIN.

    No Gen X. it’s not over. go Wrong. there is energy in Wrong. Remember? if you run into one of Miss Violet’s colleagues don’t look away. practice standing still even if you feel your guts churn in terror. that means it’s working!

    x

  281. @Ecosophia readers

    Apologies for dragging the conversation so off-topic. I get so enthused about spiritual-and magic-oriented questions and topics because I’ve been gobsmacked at how effective even the simplest practices have changed my life for the better. TSWs. That’s why I’ve been such a huge JMG fan and strongly support his work where and whenever I can. I’ll try to dial it back a bit going forward. Not least so that I have a chance to learn from other people.

    Anyway, the upshot of many of my posts is that doing correct practices can lead to personal verification of a lot of magic and yogic/tantric teachings. TS-REALLY-WORKS.

    @Violet

    Apologies in particular to you. I realize now I came across as an insufferable know-it-all which I definitely don’t know. I was just hoping to cheer you on to even better discoveries. Ones that will hopefully add extra dimensions of joyfulness and delight everywhere you look every single day. Actually, that’s what I want for everyone reading JMGs blog (including for JMG himself).

    Cheers to you. May you have a fantastically joyful life even during (maybe especially) The Long Descent.

    🙂

  282. Darkest Yorkshire #298 Right now I am sailing in the wine dark sea of classical history. Burke I will have to get around to later, after I have a better grasp of 18th & 19thC political history, which I find, for me, is the place to start before going on to literature and phil. Malthus I also know little about–was he one of those 19thC English Members of the Liberal Pantheon who, it turns out, who knew!–were working for the East India Co.? I will say I am truly fed up with people attempting to live a simpler, more rational life, being denounced as “Malthusuan” by pro growth ideologues here in the USA. If you don’t get out and buy that junk, you are taking food out of third world kids mouths, you know.

    BoysMom 295, There is dislike of formality, with which I can sympathize, if not agree, and then there is over familiarity, which is a vice, plain and simple. My girls were not allowed to address adults by first name, period, and I was quite willing to explain that to Ms. Just Call Me Suzy. So unless Suzy wanted to challenge my right to raise my own kids and make my rules in my home…I think it wise to maintain a certain social distance between kids and grownups, for both their sakes.

  283. @Happy Panda

    Regarding: your comment about the origins of Sanskrit

    I am an Indian Hindu, and I studied Sanskrit in school from 8th grade to 10th grade (schooling ends at 10th grade, your 11th and 12th grades are called ‘junior college’ in India). It was an optional subject, and I chose it over Hindi (Hindi is not my native language) as it was the only language where you could actually score full marks, in the sense that it is a lot like mathematics. Today, when I look back, I do think that I made a good decision by opting for Sanskrit over Hindi, not only because it was a ‘scoring’ subject in which I scored really well, but also because it was actually a fun subject, in which we actually had fun translating Sanskrit passages to English and so on. But I realized the full importance of Sanskrit only relatively recently (I was a hardcore materialist atheist until I saw a video by the physicist Jay Lakhani Ji on his YouTube channel ‘Hindu Academy’ in which he spoke about Dr. Ian Stevenson, and intrigued by it, I explored more, and by the time I had ended, I was no longer an atheist. A few months later I came across this blog, and it sent me back to my native religion), and that is after I came across the writings of Sri Aurobindo. It was reading the writings of SA and some of his disciples that made me realize how central Sanskrit is to Indian culture and heritage.

    I don’t want to argue about the linguistic origins of Sanskrit, in the sense that, I do believe that it is a descendant of Proto-Indo-European and thus related to other IE languages like Lithuanian and Greek, for instance. What interests me is the process that led to it becoming the ‘refined’ language that its name means. I do think that there is a possibility of some yogic input as a supplement to historical evolution of the language. Add to it the immense corpus of Sanskrit literature, from very ancient times right up to the modern era, in areas as diverse as architecture, mathematics, music (both Hindustani Classical Music as well as Carnatic Classical Music are descended from a parent tradition that originates in the chanting of the Sama Veda), dance, polity, economics, different theories of literature, etc. and an unbiased observer would agree that a very strong case could be made for the protection of Sanskrit and the culture that it is intimately intertwined with.

    That said, I don’t think simply translating old manuscripts will be sufficient. Spiritual traditions no doubt need to be protected and passed down to future generations, but if Sanskrit and the Sanskrit intellectual tradition is to survive, Sanskrit lovers will have to produce something that can at least rival if not outcompete Faustian takes on different questions in all fields of human activity (why would a rebellious youngster take you seriously if you have nothing to offer that can give serious competition to the pop culture that defines his worldview?). I’m not referring to any Utopian change at all; rather I’m speaking about the kind of national Renaissance that Sri Aurobindo advocated for, which, in Spenglerian terms would basically mean India shaking off the Faustian pseudomorphosis and cycling around to a new version of her classical cultural theme (to use JMG’s words). Whether this happens in a gradual or rather quick fashion and when this happens is something that I don’t know, but what I do believe that Sanskrit lovers can, at the very least, learn the language, counter misinformation about it (by certain Indologists who call Sanskrit a ‘dead language’ and come up with ridiculous theories that make it responsible for Nazism, etc.), and try to carry forward that part of the Sanskrit intellectual tradition in the area that they specialise in, by augmenting it with tools from the modern era (eg: the work of the Himalaya Herbal Company, whose R&D chief says that the company’s goal is to ‘contemporise Ayurveda’).

    Sorry for this rather long reply.

  284. @ Oilman2 – when I have reflected on the issue of equality, for me, consequences are a huge part of my reflections. The reason being that it seems to me that a person cannot learn from their actions if they do not experience the consequences of those actions AND if the connection between action and consequence is in any way obscured.

    For this reason, certain types of inequality get seriously in the way of the benefits of learning lessons. For those who act, but have sufficient power or wealth to be buffered from consequences, the consequences cannot teach the lessons they hold, while for those who suffer consequences of actions not taken by them, through having insufficient power or wealth to turn them aside, the lessons are also withheld, because the consequences have no clear connection to any action taken.

    In this way, to me, the most critical negative feature of increasing inequality is the way it derails any normal process of learning of the lessons that the ways in which consequences follow action have to teach.

  285. @JillN

    Indeed! I was supposing that the indo-european proto-language was where some of these very old words had originated.

    Sunday evening, and I’m looking it up on wiki, – see if I get any sleep tonight. Many of the first ten numbers are there in fairly recognisable form as well. Not zero of course, I’m pretty sure that concept arose from Sanskrit so it would be much later.

    I occasionally teach classes in some professionally useful parts of math, and one of my usual opening remarks is that lots of math arises from people counting rocks. From now on I’ll be able to say ‘using very old numbers’.

  286. Panda, you might be interested to know that there’s a tradition in Druid Revival lore — you can find it in Iolo Morganwg’s Barddas, for example — that the true Welsh language was lost in ancient times and the current Welsh language is the next best thing, “the language of the angels” but not the language of God. (In the same way, the Coelbren writing we have now is not the original Coelbren.) Awen is a Welsh word, it plays a very important role in Welsh Druid symbolism, and though I haven’t yet encountered a claim that it descends directly from the true language, it wouldn’t surprise me for a moment to find such a claim…

    Roger, as far as I’ve been able to determine, pro-government trolling is done by contractors rather than by government employees as such, and that fig leaf allows a lot of abuse to take place. As far as I know, for that matter, it’s not actually illegal to troll. So those of us who want troll-free spaces simply have to use appropriate troll repellants, which will chase off trolls of all kinds, whether they’re funded by the government, by a political party or candidate, by a political lobbying group, by a corporation, or just your common or garden variety freelance jerk with too much spare time and a fragile ego.

    BoysMom, I’ve noticed the same thing. I suspect it’s pushback against class markers from points further east.

    Patricia M, an excellent point! Trans-bonapartes used to be quite famous, for example…

    JustMe, thanks for this.

    Celadon, that’s certainly one way to think of it.

    Scotlyn, one of the constant discoveries in the environmental sciences is that if you take a piece of damaged land and simply exclude the thing that’s been harming it — fencing it off so the sheep can’t get to it, for example — it often recovers all by itself. I’ve found that that’s also true of commons (or commonses, or for that matter of common sense). I’m glad this has been useful to you!

    Gnat, yes, I saw this. To my mind this is one of Gail’s very best posts, and she makes an excellent case.

    Panda, if you’d kept on going at such length I’d have asked you to scale it back, but I don’t mind the occasional burst of enthusiasm.

  287. Inspired by the discussion of language in this post, I’ll post something I’ve been mulling over. I’ve been feeling a light tug to start speaking in E-prime again (English without “to be”) which is something I did for about 3 months to start 2020 (it’s really challenging). One of the main benefits is it eliminates the “isness of identity”. So if it took widespread effect it could eliminate the identity politics of the far left, which I am under no delusion that it will actually happen. I’ve also been thinking of reserving “to be” for the realm of the gods since they are more changeless than us humans. Anyway all this could align our culture with a process oriented philosophy, which seems in line with Dion Fortune’s Cosmic Doctrine and occult philosophy in general to some extent because of the constant [in/e]volution. General Semantics theory teaches that speaking in this way alters the brain, which seems to make sense to me in principle. To tie it all together, e-prime could result in increased courteousness if people aren’t caught up in “isness”.

    I did not write this post in e-prime. Still mulling over if I want to leap back into it or not.

    Also thanks as always for the fun&informative&courteous internet space JMG and noble commentariat. It’s nice to be able to swim regularly in the internet waters of sanity.

  288. @ Lunar Apprentice #286

    You are correct that abebooks.com is owned by Amazon.

    However, if you are searching for a used book, abebooks.com is nearly always cheaper than Amazon used-book dealer listings. Alibris is too. Abebooks and Alibris do not duplicate each other so you should check each site.

    A rare book may be available with one site but not with the other.

    Many used book dealers will work with abebooks and Alibris but not with Amazon. We used to sell used books on Amazon but they changed their terms of service, ensuring that tiny dealers like us couldn’t afford to stay. We got virtually no notice, either.

    Luckily, we only had a few dozen titles. A good friend who sells in her store also used to sell used books online via Amazon. They took a big hit (25% of their sales or thereabouts) when Amazon changed the rules.

    Amazon takes its cut for sure, thus the exodus of small-timers like us. It’s also why the prices are higher.

    Abebooks doesn’t (despite their dark, corporate master) seem to have the same issues that selling via Amazon does.

    Thus, I use both to buy from.

    A lot of indie used book dealers work *only* with one service or the other, but they no longer sell their stock via Amazon.

    Another alternative is eBay.

  289. @ Scotlyn RE: inequality

    There will never be complete equality – people need to understand that the entire world and social fabric is nonconforming. Nobody chooses their parents, nor the social station they are born into. There is no natural ‘law of equality’ at play. Equity is only enforceable via laws and courts – provided there is some semblance of governance.

    That being the case, there are ways to enforce equality. Note I use the word enforce, as equality is not a normal state of being for most living things.

    I agree with what you are saying, but I nonetheless adhere to my notion that it is a lack of consequences and equity that have come to the fore in some egregious ways recently. I am also of the opinion that these things have erupted due to the internet, and the enabling of near-instantaneous communications. Before the internet, there were only a few ways to even get the news, and sharing opinions and thoughts was only done via snail mail. There were no “comments” possible save a letter to the editor, and said editor was under no compunction to print your letter – that is the situation in social media today.

    However, social media is not all of us, nor will it ever be. The leakage of facts, opinions, thoughts, etc. is what has stirred people up. Without the internet and it’s myriad streams of ideas, we would be exactly as we were before – reading a paper or watching TV without recourse to much in the way of speaking to one another across vast distances and ideologies.

    This is a very unintended consequence of the internet – it was rolled out for an entirely different purpose and it ran away on its own legs.

    Whatever is required for consequences to be in full effect I am in favor of. Consequences do not limit personal choice or freedom, but without them many people simply have no reason not to be horses asses or to trample on others. They suffer no ill effects from being inconsiderate, rude, vile or downright evil. If there was a way to initiate an electric shock to folks on the internet, I wonder how many rude and intolerant idiots would be burned? LOL

    I think consequences matter; the fact that this is the only way to control politicians and bureaucrats seems to lend a bit to my thinking…

    Yet, in a generic sort of way, de acuerdo..

  290. Dear Erika, Many thanks for the response! First, please, permit me to assure you that I am no angel but a mere fallible and often foolish mortal. That said, to respond to your question on why “queer” culture is so dreary, I think that it’s a matter of catching the spirit. Here I think of how a body moves as it catches a groove. The horn blasts, the drum beats out a rhythm, feet move, eyes roll back, and suddenly a great stream of people dance down the street. They’ve caught the spirit, and the spirit feels good. The problem with “queer” culture is who would _want_ to catch that spirit? What _spirit_ is there to catch? Certainly not a spirit that I would want anywhere near my soul! My attitude is that falling in love means catching the spirit of Love, however that might manifest into the specific particulars. The spirit of “queer” is, in a word, icky. The spirit of love that you seem to be catching seems flowering and lovely. That is, to my mind at least, the difference. xo

    Dear Happy Panda, no need for apology on my end! The only thing that I struggle with as someone who knows so much less about the Vedic and Tantric traditions is that it can be hard for me to follow along with all of the technical language! If I may be so bold, I just wrote an essay on my blog exploring the gunas from the perspective of Western Occultism and I would be very curious your thoughts should you wish to share them! https://violetcabra.dreamwidth.org/127956.html

  291. Speaking of people who think they’re Napoleon reminds me of a joke: Some orderlies in a mental health facility were breaking up a fight between two inmates, and the administrator asked what was going on. An orderly replied, “Well, we had this guy who thinks he’s Napoleon, and then this new guy showed up who thinks HE’S Napoleon. The started arguing about it, and pretty soon fists were flying.” The administrator said, “Jesus Christ!” And a guy in the back of the room said, “Yes?”

  292. Oilman2

    Constitutional Carry == ‘The Weapons Shops of Isher’ (Texas) by A. E. van Vogt. I need to see if I still have it – been 30 plus years.

    John – Coop Janitor

  293. Hi JMG,

    Do you think it’s possible for modern neopaganism to mature over centuries into something comparable to the eastern traditions?

  294. What seems to happen with blogs, and it happened with the old newsgroups as well, is that a small clique of frequent commenters come to dominate the conversation and promote a common narrative by ganging up on an interloper.

    The most common ploy is to slap a label on someone, then criticize the label. E.g. “You are a right-winger, therefore you are wrong.” Criticizing the label, not the point the commenter was trying to make.

    Effectively, the in-group enforces a shared prejudice.

    This blog, and the Archdruid Report before it, remains free of this type of group censorship; a tribute to JMG’s style of moderation.

  295. Dear JMG,
    You said that Bertie Wooster as an archvillain Is an hilarious idea. I beg to differ. Bertie Wooster may be a hilarious example of the senility of the elites, but people like him are the real archvillains of today.
    _ Jeeves, I want to make a barbecue next weekend for two hundred of my most intimate friends. I know that we are in January, but I want the garden to be balmy hot.
    _Very well Sir. We will need oil. Shall we ask General Whatsisname to liberate the Island nation of Molto Cortese?
    _ Excelent idea Jeeves. Carry on.
    That being said I started writing it (not sure yet if a book or a short story), but instead of a Bertie Wooster the Archvillain will be an old lady, the archetype of everybody’s favorite aunt or granny,

  296. @Darkest Yorkshire: Thanks for the clarification on Thatcher. I think over this side of the pond people might have gotten a similar-but-slightly-different attitude from/during the Regan years.

    @Happy Panda: Thanks for the kind words about my article on Joybubbles. I’m glad you liked it and I liked your analogy of mantra and phreaking.

  297. @Oilman – “There will never be complete equality” – this, of course, depends on what you are comparing. The specific comparison that makes sense to me is the degree to which INequalities permit interruptions between a person’s actions and the consequences that arise from those actions.

    A person is absolutely unique in their own being – and not in any way comparable to the next person – and cannot be made to BE comparable to the next person. And yet, if they can turn the consequences of their own actions aside (such that they fall upon others who will suffer them, but who can learn no lesson thereby), some important prospect of balance between them has been interrupted.

    Your own thoughts have taken you into considerations very far from mine – of courts, and force, and governance – none of which seem relevant to anything I said.

  298. @ John-coopjanitor RE: van vogt

    I read that in my ancient youth – had forgotten about it too, but most apropos! Thanks for the reminder…

  299. @ Oilman2

    Re the savior technology du jour

    As usual, little mention of the fixed costs in comparison to existing technologies.

    For once, I’d like to see someone write an article talking about how the only real solution to our predicament is to use less energy in the first place. Alas, such a thing is unlikely to see the light of day in our present cultural mindset.

  300. @ David, BTL RE: energy scams

    The truth is, no matter if aliens have energy technology and hand it to us, or if we were to find out that abiotic oil is sloshing around all over the planet – Jevon’s Paradox will grab us by the short hairs and things will simply grow more until collapse comes. Energy is not always at the root of collapse. It’s just that our rise during the Oil Age was fairly high altitude, which means the sun can melt the wax on our wings more easily…

    Looking around at the flock we currently have overhead, oil is just one of many Damocles related objects we have in our sky.

    “Articles outside the official position statements are punishable by cancellation or death.’ – Official Whitehorse Souse

    de acuerdo

  301. @ David by the Lake #326

    The reason why you don’t see thrift and conservation promoted more is because money stops changing hands. That is, the seller doesn’t make money.

    Yet being thrifty and conservative is the best solution for any individual household.

    Thrift writers (and I’ve read plenty) go in and out of fashion as the economy surges up and down.

    If you’d like a history, look for David M. Tucker’s The Decline of Thrift in America. It’s a stunning, very readable book.

    Did you know that the public school system used to promote thrift and savings for kids?
    That there was an entire genre of fiction devoted to young wives saving their family via learning thriftiness?

    I didn’t, along with plenty more forgotten aspects of conservation and thrift that used to be public policy!

    https://www.amazon.com/Decline-Thrift-America-Cultural-Spending/dp/0275936856

    Get your copy via the interlibary loan. Sadly, the small university press that printed it didn’t print many copies so they’re expensive.

  302. “I’ve been saying for years now that before all this is over, the Sierra Club will be advocating for the strip-mining of the national parks”

    I anticipate the opening of the Bill McKibben oil pipeline.

  303. @Gnat/JMG:

    Gail says in the article:
    “Governments have chosen to focus on preventing climate change because, in theory, the changes that are needed to prevent climate change seem to be the same ones needed to cover the contingency of “running out.” The catch is that the indicated changes don’t really work in the scarcity situation we are already facing.

    It turns out that the very fuels that we seem to be running out of (coal and oil) are the very ones most associated with high carbon dioxide emissions. Thus, focusing on climate change seems to please everyone. Those who were concerned that we could keep extracting fossil fuels for hundreds of years and, because of this, completely ruin the climate, would be happy. Those who were concerned about running out of fossil fuels would be happy, as well. This is precisely the kind of solution that politicians prefer”

    This realization is something I’ve known but never consciously acknowledged until Gail said that. The plain fact is that oil depletion and the end of capitalist-industrial society is here, now. The elites are openly preparing for this, just under different pretexts. I didn’t acknowledge it until Gail spoke it because I didn’t want to. Let that sink in, that our best minds are now preparing for a future without abundant energy/fuels.
    I could write an essay about all the ways COVID and BLM and other things are being used to downshift our standard of living and transfer the remaining resources to the top.
    This handily explains 1) the complete ecological inconsistency of those who claim to combat climate change, 2) the fact that the costs of combating climate change always end up on the backs of the 90%, 3) the fact that the costs of striving for racial equity also fall on the backs of the 90%, 4) the fact that the 90% are being conditioned to be dependent on regular money printing via stimmy/UBI checks while their actual economic lifeblood is being drained and future inflation is going to make all that government cheese worthless and leave them with nothing, 5) the fact that COVID vaccines are being pushed so hard even though the number of deaths reported to VAERS about COVID vaccines exceeds the total number of deaths reported to VAERS for 30 years prior, and 6) the fact that we aren’t really allowed to talk about any of this. Even #4: Michael Burry went radio silent after the gov’t paid him a visit after his last tweets about hyperinflation.
    It’s no wonder small business pandemic aid has been so badly bungled and mismanaged and so little of it has actually gotten out there. Destruction of the middle class.
    It’s no wonder our government is killing off independent landlords by interminable extensions of eviction forbearance. More destruction of the middle class.
    I really need to stop because this could get long and you can surely fill in the rest.
    🙁 It feels like game over.
    Oh and another new COVID strain has popped up in India, more vaccine-resistant, of course.

  304. @patriciaormsby #284: Your laying out some of the typical characteristics which signal psychopathy caught my notice; I expect we could have a very interesting conversation. I used to think I knew what a psychopath was: someone obviously mean, murderous, and creepy. Then I tried to help one: a homeless woman, with two small children in tow. I swallowed her sad story despite (in retrospect) curious omissions in both the facts and in the way her tears and other emotions seemed somehow…artificial.

    I guess I got my money’s worth as a life lesson. In the aftermath, I tried to figure out how I had been embezzled and fooled. I had called the Sheriff shortly after she embezzled me and skipped out. He caught her with a phone she stole from me but let her go … she somehow convinced him she was on a “witness protection list”. A month later I got a call from a woman in another town who had previously taken her and her children in as “a fellow Christian”. The woman wasn’t wealthy to begin with but all her family paintings and antiques had been taken; leaving the woman, the victim, blaming herself … for practicing Christianity. Almost a year later I got a call from a man in a neighboring town who asked if I knew the name “Melina” and had a sad story of how charismatic and “attractive” she was (she wasn’t physically attractive but she had this weird charisma….) He had helped her with a job and she had cleaned him out.

    What’s most astonishing to me is that there can be such a high percentage (well established to be at least 1%) of the “human” population — who aren’t actually human in the most fundamental sense — and we don’t recognize it! No wonder psychopaths have such contempt for the rest of us with all our “love”, empathy, regrets, attachment, and other “useless” emotional luggage. They can clearly do easily what we cannot; what we are too “weak” to do unless we have to or are seriously provoked. They are attracted to jobs of power and money and commonly rule us as “doctors”, “lawyers”, “CEOs”, “bankers, and politicians. And we generally don’t have a clue because almost none of them are as forthright as Ted Bundy — only the stupid or most obsessive of them get caught. And with the smarter there is always plausible deniability and that charisma to reckon with.

    These “things” are not human – if we define a human as someone who can be redeemed, who has a “soul” or who can authentically feel empathy, remorse, loyalty or attachment. It has nothing to do with their upbringing; it is most likely a congenital brain defect; and there is no treatment for it – and it can be really hard to diagnose except, perhaps, at a very young age (while they are still figuring things out and learning to appropriately feign human emotions). Forever hollow inside and with most of them having at least normal intelligence (I’m not aware of any evidence their overall intelligence follows anything but a normal bell-shaped curve…but then we are only able to really study the particularly dumb and out of control psychopaths who get caught doing something like murder.) They have an uncanny ability to mimic the normal trappings of being social, emotional, remorseful, “sad”, offended, “loving” and “kind”. It’s 100% fake: which is why they have that weird lag and strange hollowness behind their facial expressions.

    I brought up that particular Japanese history because it made so apparent the difference between brutalized humans and born psychopaths. It also made clear the genetic advantage which would accompany a small percent of the “human” race having ZERO problem doing particularly “soulless” and inhuman things to gain ANY advantage at ANY cost in a particularly ugly zero-sum game — which too much of human history has been.

    Anyway, that is my theory — and I think it makes a lot of sense if you think about it simply in terms of game theory and what we know of seemingly negative recessive traits which are preserved for “occasional” advantage. I will read about “hysteroidal cycle” and “Lobaczewski”.

    @John? Anything to interject on any level (including, possibly, magical). It seems like a near hopeless trap for humanity if we Eloi are supposed to rise above this earthly plane with “love” and “faith” while being duped and forced to play zero-sum games with psychopaths.

    @Mary: Thank you for the response. I suspect you haven’t yet had a close-enough encounter with a real psychopath. They are NOT “sociopaths” and most are quite charming. You would never guess, and they won’t likely give you reason to guess unless you – particularly – have something they really want. Even then you might not know what happened to you. They move around a lot in certain circles; almost like politicians kissing babies.

  305. David BTL – Not only can’t we discuss reducing individual consumption in any meaningful way, but there was a big article in today’s Washington Post (by Dan Balz) lamenting the alleged “catastrophe” of falling birth rates. We can’t welcome falling fertility. Why, we’re only growing at all because of immigration!

    There was, in fact, one short paragraph acknowledging an ecologist who questioned the need for (infinite growth), and another brief question of “why should young immigrants agree to be taxed to support Old White People?” But that’s a problem for another day.

    I wonder whether it’s just as simple as “with ten homes on the market, and eleven families looking to buy, the price goes up, up, up; but with ten homes on the market and only nine families looking to buy, the price goes down, down, down!”

    Imagine if we never had to convert another acre of fertile local farmland into a “mixed use housing/retail project”! Imagine if there was always a vacant house waiting for a growing family to move into (possibly after major renovation, but on-site).

  306. teresa from hersey–re thrift. IMO the stagflation of the 70s was the biggest blow against savings. Bank interest rates on savings accounts were low ( i think 3-4% was common), inflation in the double digits–if you saved money instead of spending it you were literally losing value everyday. So all the lessons about thrift were turned on their head. Then we had the savings and loan crisis that made saving money look really risky and, of course, the fact that wages for working class were not rising to match inflation. Then the formerly careful banks relabeled the dread 2nd mortgage as ‘home equity loans’ and pushed them as a way to make your house pay for other things you wanted or needed–home improvements, college, vacations, a boat. Instead of having to convince a reluctant loan officer that one was worthy of a loan the banks were trying to convince you to take one. And banks got into the credit card business–back before Bankamericard (introduced in 1958) most retail credit was from individual stores, typically department stores, furniture or appliance stores for large purchases. Ordinary people didn’t think of using credit for a restaurant meal or ordinary purchases.

    When I was in jr. high in 1960 I remember the saving stamps program. Children were encouraged to buy them at school–$.10 each and fill a booklet. When full it could be turned in for an actual US savings bond. I still have a partially filled booklet which apparently has no value except maybe as a collectible.

    There was also what I will call pseudo thrift in the form of saving stamps from shops–Blue Chip and Green Stamps were the major ones. Raleigh cigarettes also had savings coupons on each pack. You saved the coupons or stamps and could then use them to purchase various merchandise such as small appliances or sporting equipment, etc. I remember my mom getting a folding card table and 4 folding chairs for family games. I call it pseudo thrift since I am fairly sure the shops had to raise prices slightly to cover the cost of the stamps and that the premiums one purchased might have been a little overpriced as well. In other words, if you shopped where they didn’t offer stamps, saved your money and bought the card table at a regular store you would probably have been ahead.

    On a different topic I got an example of casual racism from my grandson. He is 19 and working on a maintenance crew. Many of his co-workers are Hispanic. When he is the only white on the crew he has noticed that the customers expect him to be the boss and address questions and orders to him, even though he tells them he isn’t in charge and points out the man who is.

    Rita

  307. Thank you JMG for such a thoughtful write. You have clarified for me the tangle of thought-emotions I have had about online communication.

  308. @gnat
    Thank you for your reply! It’s an important question just how much genius psychopaths may be capable of. My impression is most of their true genius is in manipulating emotions, and Lobaczewski says while what he called the “essential psychopaths” recognize each other as some sort of superior tribe of beings and play tricks on us just for the fun of duping us, that none of them that he’d studied were highly intelligent in the normal sense of the word. Where they’ve gained positions of prestige demanding high intelligence, they are gifted at cheating their way into them. One thing he noted was that all his colleagues said that after talking with diagnosed psychopaths, they always had an urge to gargle with something strong. How I have come to generally recognize them is a sustained hunt by them for my remote control buttons. After that I have as little to do with them as possible. They are all just as highly individual as we, and I’ve known many that were capable of acts of great kindness, but there was usually (not always) an underlying selfish motivation for that. My husband says he identifies “trouble-makers” as people who smile too much, and Confucianism warns about such people. As a general tendency, they are the nicest people you ever met–unless they are in a position of power over you. Folks gush about them, but some crabby people hate them for no apparent reason, and also there is typically a highly dysfunctional person close to them (who in Japan typically likes to set fires) and you pity them for having to deal with such a person (a handy patsy).
    Another interesting observation he made was that the trait seemed to be an X-linked allele, and partially recessive. Fathers pass the trait off to their daughters, but not their sons, yet full-blown cases of it seem to be far more common in men than in women, where it is either better concealed or compensated for.
    Definitely give Lobaczewski a read. Great book.

  309. Speaking of commons:
    Wrath of Gnon had this quote on twitter this morning. Didn’t say where it came from – but seem familiar.

    “The law locks up the man and woman / who steals the goose from off the common. / But lets the greater villain loose / who steals the common from the goose.”

    John – Coop Janitor

  310. @gnat:

    Put another way, psychopathy is the best way to play a zero-sum game.
    The long descent down the other side of cheap oil is sending us back to the zero-sum game scenario. I therefore expect more, not less, psychopathy as time goes on.
    Tribalism mitigates individual psychopathy and replaces it with a group psychopathy. So what makes us “human” is the social space/connections/supports we create for ourselves. The “human” thing to do when the systems around us are falling apart and falling prey to the psychopathic is to create tribes and clans of our own.
    The great push towards individualism and multiculturalism was an attempt to do away with group psychopathy but it could have only worked in a society far away from the zero-sum game – one with an economy of perpetual abundance/cheap energy. Now that we are going through the economic turmoil of the end of cheap oil, this individualism has resulted in people being cut off from social supports at a time when they need them most. So then they become psychopathic to survive.
    The current anti-racism marks turn from the old color-blind multiculturalism to a tribal psychopathy that has races agitating against the other with a particular agitation leveled against the majority race. It’s how you maintain identity politics in an increasingly zero-sum economy? The only question is when the other side stops taking the abuse and fights back.

  311. @Happy Panda (#288):

    That seems to me to be a very fruitful line of thought, and I think you’re quite correct that Sanskrit is taught not as a means of everyday communication, but for another purpose.

    It seems likely to me that not every language is naturally as well suited as Sanskrit is to that other purpose. In some languages–modern English is one–most syllables do not have a single pure vowel sound (with the tougue held in one fixed position), but somethign more complex, where the position of the tongue shifts as the vocalic part of the syllable is uttered. Thus, for instance, in English “boat” or “cute” the tongue shifts from a higher to a lower position (“boat”) or from a more front to a more back position (“cute”) in the mouth. Latin and Classical Greek, on the other hand, seem to have been more like Sanskrit in this respect.

    Some 70 years ago several linguists published a remarkable book, Preliminaries to Speech Analysis with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press. It gave, for the first time ever, a careful analysis of the complex sound spectrographs of syllables in a wide range of human languages. (Sound spectrographs are used in acoustic physics; they give a map of the very complex sound waves that language-sounds embody.) There are many implications which camn be drawn from this work for the study of the relative effectiveness of mantras and other ritual speech. One of the simpler implications has to do with what is called the “second formant” in these sound spectrographs: as one moves around the mouth pronouncing the pure vowel sounds usually rendered (by laymen) as EE — EH– AH — OH — OO (spelled I — E — A — O — U in Latin), the frequency of the second formant lessens, which will strike the ear as moving through a descending scale of musical notes. Pronounce those same vowels in the reverse order, from OO back to EE, and the scale will ascend. With this in mind, one can read a deeper meaning into a remark by one late Classical author, that Egyptian priests used a chant consisting of just vowel sounds in precisely the order just mentioned. As your chant rises up the scale, so your mind turns its gaze upward. Such a chant works somewhat like an invocation.

    On another note, a book of scholarly papers by various authors, The Spectrum of Ritual (1982) contains a fascinating article by the late anthropologist Barbara Lex, “The Neurobiology of Ritual Trance,” which sheds a great deal of light on the role that certain special features of the human nervous system play in ritual and magic, and incidentally, helps explain the importance of breath work in occult and spiritual practice. (Breathing is perhaps the sole physiological function that is equally subject to regulation by the autonomous and the voluntary nervous systems.) The same volume also contains an interesting analysis of the ritual power exerted by the traditional Roman Catholic Mass in Latin.

    And on a third note, or rather a mere footnote, to your excellent observations: you write “Which is not at all the typical concern of any human language. The ordinary concern is communication.” Yes, it is communication, and even prior to communication, it is something that anthropologists have termed “phatic communion” — a sense of shared activity and purpose (communion) created when people are speaking the same language with one another, quite apart from whatever content their speech conveys.

    There is a lot more than could be said along these lines, but I don’t want to tax the patience of the other commentators here. I have been exploring some of these issues in a series of articles subtitled “Notes Toward a General Theory of Magic,” appearing in the last five annual issues of The Witches’ Almanac, published here in Providence, RI. There will be seven of these articles in all; the last two of them will appear in the two next issues of the Almanac.

  312. Robert- is that the Witches’ Almanac Llewellyn puts out? Then I’ll order this year’s copy. I hadn’t bothered this year, but did get last year’s.

  313. Re: Sanskrit

    Years ago I did an introductory Sanskrit course, specifically aimed at the understanding and penetration of the philosophic texts – which had up to 9 terms of content. Currently available here Sanskrit Foundation Course and now being offered on Zoom.

    Since most of my formal degree studies were in Scientific fields, it was a new area and frankly blew my mind. Here are a few things that I took away (disclaimer – I am not an expert, just an amateur)

    1) Sanskrit means ‘refined’ and within the tradition it is treated as ‘revealed’. However it is also understood that it was revealed to a sequence of grammarians over a period of 400 years, with Panini probably being the most famous. You get the sense that the linguistic work was the flowering of a civilisation, perhaps a bit like mathematics or material scientific method may be a flowering of ours.

    2) The Grammar of classical Sanskrit seems to have been designed for preservation of knowledge (probably aurally). There seems to be a number of unusual things in the grammar of Panini’s Laghusidanta Kalmudi (iirc means something like ‘short version’) that were amazing:

    – The alphabet was like a proof from first principles, and a symbolic philosophical system in its own right. Starting with AUM, becoming 3 sounds A, I, U, and then becoming 5 vowels at mouth positions (two of which have no equivalent in English) – throat, back of mouth, roof of mouth, teeth, lips. Secondary vowels are formed by combinations of these (e.g. ‘oh’ being the half point between A and U, or ‘au’ as in ‘out’ being a dipthong from A to U). These 5 positions become like columns in the matrix which you then mix into 5 or 6 consonant sounds – so for example the lip column has sounds in it like ‘ba’, ‘pa’, ‘ma’. Interestingly if you take ‘da’ which would be in the same row as ‘ba’ English typically pronounces this with the teeth, whereas in India and thereabouts it is often pronounced with the tongue at the roof of the mouth – which gives a stereotypical accentation. This scientific formulation of the alphabet helps maintain consistent sound pronunciation over time.

    – The grammatical rules of Panini are a set of 8000 highly compressed statements, which can be memorised. They are compressed using techniques familiar to computer programmers called tokenisation. Using the alphabet/matrix, combinations of two letters can be used to represent spans of the alphabet, so one syllable ‘decompresses’ to whole ranges of sound.

    – The grammatical rules don’t just cover sentence structure. I believe they also cover rhythm, meter, pitch, how sounds change when words are compounded or joined (sandhi – which is also a philosophical system).

    – The grammatical rules also cover *word* formation from a system of linguistic roots. This is where it gets really interesting from the indo-european language perspective. There is another text called Dhatu-Patha (?) which gives a sense of each of the roots by providing a verb. So that the sense can be understood experientially – the root ‘sta’ can be understood by ‘not moving’. We see that root in English in the words stop, still, steady, etc. Monier-Williams Sanskrit English dictionary orders the words into categories by root, and often specifies the linguistic root in the word description. Just mind-blowing. The implications of this is that there is a method to translate some of the more profound texts experientially.

    3) From a small amount I have studied, there are multiple mantra systems, some are based on Sanskrit phrases and texts, and some have a more elemental sound-based system which I do not fully understand which work at a more elemental level. AUM would fall into the latter category. There are apparently entire books full of matra with specific purposes and powers.

    So you end up with a language where the preservation of sound, meter and meaning becomes very carefully underpinned, and using the aural methods of recitation of the sutra system the texts and the grammar itself can be maintained. Longer than CD-ROMS, that’s for sure.

    MCB

  314. @ Rita #334

    I’ve often thought that Citibank should have given that genius mortgage broker a huge bonus for relabeling 2nd mortgage as home equity line of credit. They perpetrated the most amazing scam on the public and all with a simple name change! Plus, of course, changes in laws.

    Thrift during the seventies *was* different. You couldn’t save a penny other than by avoiding spending on anything that wasn’t desperately needed. That’s what my parents had to do (I was born in 1960). The money my mother saved by scrimping went into paying off the mortgage faster.

    That was the only way to save, along with using less of everything.

  315. The commons was part of a whole world of customary economic entities that got destroyed in order to clear the way for the capitalist economy on the one hand, and expanding government on the other.

    The reverse also happens. The homeless seize land and erect shacks virtually overnight, and stone approaching government entities like police, firefighters, ambulance crews and sanitary workers. It’s happening all over South Africa.

  316. Hi Michael,

    Yeah, that’s my thinking too. I read somewhere years ago that the legal system is ‘a system that seeks to administer itself’. The concept of ‘justice’ might be in there somewhere, but I’m no expert. The system would do well to remember that it operates at the behest of the public, but admittedly that interest might be difficult to keep sight of.

    Best to not get caught up in the system in the first place! 🙂 I assume you’d heard of the: Gunns 20? Imagine having to face that situation.

    Cheers

    Chris

  317. @Patricia Mathews:

    No, it’s not any of the Llewellyn almanacs. The Witches’ Almanac that I’ve been contributing to for the last two decades is published here in Rhode Island:

    http://thewitchesalmanac.com

    My publications are also available (almost all of them for free download) at

    http://www.academia.edu

    You have to log on to that site to read (or download) amything, but it’s free. You can log on to it with through of your various google accounts (including gmail) or through your facebook account–assuming you have such a thing. Or you can set up a free account of your own with academia.edu directly.

    Here and there there were typos and minor editorial glitches in some of the original publications, so I have added corrections to a few of the PDFs that I put up on my academia.edu page.

  318. re credit–I meant to add that the difference between store credit for large items like a refrigerator and using a bank credit card is in whether the purchase can be seized for nonpayment. If you don’t pay the store the furniture and appliances go away; but if you don’t pay your credit card you just lose your ability to get more credit.

    Unfortunately I can’t find the title of the book I read a few years ago, written by a self-admitted woman psychopath. She was a lawyer, I think, and pointed out that an intelligent psychopath may not ever do criminal or cruel things because they can see the disadvantage to themselves of being arrested or despised. She said that her experience was that she realized that she just didn’t understand the feelings of others about certain things–the world of sympathy and empathy was just a closed book to her. It was quite interesting–maybe the reason there appear to be few intelligent psychopaths is that they are like her in seeing the disadvantages of acting on anti-social impulses.

    Rita

  319. @Everyone discussing Sanskrit,
    I know too little about Sanskrit myself to jump in, but I am getting a kick out of your conversation. I see the prefix “Maha” widely used in Thai and also to a certain extent in Indonesian. I have speculated that it might be related to “mage” and related terms in English. After some snooping, I found “major” and “mage” to have been derived from different roots, the former from “meg” as in “mega,” and the latter from something like “magh,” which might be it, but I can’t tell.
    Similarly, the word “maho” in Japanese means “magic,” so I looked into the ideograms for the transliterated “Maha Prazhnya Paramita” (or thereabouts), the opening line of the Heart Sutra (Maka hannya haramita–it is said Japanese rendered all initial “p”s into “h”s about 300 years ago. Shinto went along with that, although it maintained earlier pronunciations of key words in other ways.) I don’t know whether it will come through or not, but here is “maka” (great) 魔訶 and “maho” (magic) 魔法. Well look at that! If that came through, you can see that the same ideogram is used for “ma” in each case. Yesterday, when I typed them in, I got a slightly different “ma” for magic, with a hand radical replacing the demon radical on the lower right, and meaning “friction.” I speculated idly to myself that it might be within the range of variants people choose from for a variety of reasons. I guess I was right.
    I did some snooping around with the “ma” ideogram, and found it used in “heterodoxy” and a variety of words that bring Christian suppression to mind, but then there was also this: 魔装学園H×H which is “Hybrid x Heart Magias Academy Ataraxia.” What on Earth is that? A light novel in Japanese by Kuji Masamune.

  320. Hi John Michael,

    It’s a bit late in the week, but as a further thought: People confuse liberty with licence – as these are two different concepts which often get conflated.

    Cheers

    Chris

  321. Martin Back #343 – one might think of these moves by homeless people not as “opposites” to what markets and states have done, but simply as people with nothing more to lose defaulting back to a commons way of life, figuring it all out all over again, how it works and what it needs (limits on outside interference, for example, thus the defensive stones), while the historically brief interruptions of markets and states are stymied as their power to stop it recedes.

  322. @Christopher Henningsen

    This is exactly what I wanted to hear. Many thanks.
    Regarding ‘relationships’, I think you mean ‘responsibilities’. We have one guy who loves watering, since it’s the only thing he thinks he can do without ruining the garden. We have one other guy who loves to go asking politicians more stuff for the garden. No one here loves paperwork, but who does? Me, I love learning and teaching. So, yes, I see how some people can take responsibility on some topics. However, this is managed as a hobby garden, so sometimes the responsible people are not in their places, meaning plants in need of watering might not get it. That’s why I think we should steward the garden instead of working on it.

    Your ‘woodsman/fieldsman” metaphore is good. As you say, my colleages are more the woodsman type. They work as needed, but what they all love is to have spare time with friends.
    I also like that you call passing gardeners the warrior chaste. Truly, they are not apt for manual work, not even for taking some responsibilities but they like to protest against unfairness. When the town hall comes here asking us to leave, the warrior chaste will show up with banners. I will abandon the idea of trying to lure them to work more, and will try to find more ‘stewards’ instead.
    Partly, our problem is that we are advertising the garden as an urban garden market, and this is attracting the fieldsman type, and their idea of sharing is very different from ours.

    I will reread your lines about making anarchist groups work. I find particulary useful the idea of working with people with a shared vision instead of shared routines, this gives me a new point of view. I hope some of this can help me invite people not interested in politics.

    About magic, I’m still very green at it, I don’t think I’ve done a tenth of what it is required to become a mage.
    I initially thought that it would suffice if I communicated with the spirit of the place, to ask what it wants to build in place, but now I see that the community who is sharing the garden is as important as the land itself, and also that I was making a great mistake by not considering what was related to the garden but outside of it, the whole universe of the garden. Trying to listen to the soul of a community is hard, especially since many of their members only show up occasionally, and it’s double hard for me, who have never been especially empathetic.
    My vision is still not clear: I have some forms that I like but others are very blurry. I’ve been putting energies into the more clear shapes, and the results are positive. These successes are sending waves towards the blurry shapes, but I need to pay more attention to them.
    I guess I have to observe and meditate more on the things that are eluding me, but it’s hard to do when the things I want to observe are happening just at the same time I am working on the vision.

    One thing they never tell about the ‘three little piglets’ story, is that the brick house takes so much time to build that the wolf comes before it is finished.

  323. @ Scotlyn

    I find the “figuring out” process interesting in the case of informal settlements. If you look at squatter camps from the air, they all look pretty much the same — seemingly a random patchwork of corrugated iron shacks, but they living, functioning organisms.

    Who decides how big or small the shacks must be? Who can build of wood and iron, and who of brick and stone? How much room to leave between shacks for access? Who gets the desirable positions near water or electricity or bus terminuses? How to deal with garbage and sewage? Do people figure these things out instinctively or is there some big chief who decides matters?

  324. @Darkest Yorkshire

    You said I made it easy for you and I’m not sure what you were talking about. You referred to like eight economists I haven’t bothered to read because they’re boring and don’t summarize, then quoted Margaret Thatcher. What on earth does that have to do with people littering on the Commons? You were the one saying that the whole Commons thing and communism really does work, and I’m saying it doesn’t because people take care of the commons even less in a communist system.

    Goats, ducks, and geese owned by the HOA and monitored via app would still be capitalism. You’re not one of those urbanites who thinks it must be communism if it involves livestock, are you?

    So if the ruling class is like a domestic abuser, then it says that we can’t get along without it. Basically what I was saying, that without fines for littering, and people being paid to pick up litter because it’s their job in capitalism, that litter wouldn’t get picked up. So you want to pretend that if we went to communism people would somehow start picking up litter even though it wasn’t their job, because we’d all own the Commons. But I’ve been to several communist and former communist countries and this was not the case. So how do you explain it? That they hadn’t read Burke et al and were doing communism “wrong”?

    Though in a really totalitarian communist economy I suppose anyone who picked up litter would get credit for doing so. But then they’d cart out more litter to get more credit for packing it up, suddenly and accidentally becoming a bit capitalist. And in a really fascist system the litter would be noted, the whole community blamed, their village burned down and they’d be shipped off to the camps in a very communist fashion. Because communism is like prison.

    So you managed to drop a lot of names and then lose the thread of the conversation. Oh well, at least you read, I guess.

  325. Not too fast changing anonymous (!) image boards work perfectly. The enforcement there is by ignoring trolls. If nobody answers they leave. It is very simple. If you spread meaning somebody will read and post. If you repeat a refuted argument maybe somebody will repost the rebuke or even a list of all similar rebukes. This in turn convinces many other readers. So a repetition of nonsensical arguments makes them weaker.
    Also no wonder that they want to ban such anonymous venues.

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