NOW What? The Most Discouraging News Of All

From the Washington Post:

Fifty years after the historic Kerner Commission identified “white racism” as the key cause of “pervasive discrimination in employment, education and housing,” there has been no progress in how African-Americans fare in comparison to whites when it comes to homeownership, unemployment and incarceration, according to a report released Monday by the Economic Policy Institute.

In some cases, African-Americans are worse off today than they were before the civil rights movement culminated in laws barring housing and voter discrimination, as well as racial segregation....

Among the study’s shattering findings…

…7.5 percent of African-Americans were unemployed in 2017, compared with 6.7 percent in 1968 — still roughly twice the white unemployment rate.

…The rate of home ownership, one of the most important ways for working- and middle-class families to build wealth, has remained virtually unchanged for African-Americans in the past 50 years. Black home ownership remains just over 40 percent, trailing 30 points behind the rate for whites, who have seen modest gains during that time.

…The share of incarcerated African-Americans has nearly tripled between 1968 and 2016 — one of the largest and most depressing developments in the past 50 years, especially for black men, researchers said. African-Americans are 6.4 times as likely than whites to be jailed or imprisoned, compared with 5.4 times as likely in 1968.

…The wealth gap between white and black Americans has more than tripled in the past 50 years…The typical black family had zero wealth in 1968. Today the median net worth of white families — $171,000 — is 10 times that of black families.

After all the rhetoric, all the safety nets, The Great Society, the Civil Rights Act, nothing. After busing, 50 years of affirmative action and diversity training in employment and educational institution admissions, nothing. After an explosion in the numbers of African American House members, police commissioners, judges, lawyers, doctors, big city mayors, and governors; after home rule in the District of Columbia, after Barack Obama…no progress. After 50 years that saw attitudes on mixed race marriages, cultural representation in academia,  media and entertainment, broadcasting and sports; after Barbara Jordan, Michael Jordan, Bernie Shaw, “The Cosby Show,” Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Serena Williams, Flip Wilson, Johnnie Cochran, Spike Lee, Oprah, Michael Jackson, “Hamilton,” “Scandal,” “The Butler,” “Hallelujah Baby!”, Rhianna, Beyonce, Jay-Z…how can this be possible?

Naturally, the Post article on the report’s first answer is simple: it’s racism, that’s all:

“We have not seen progress because we still have not addressed the issue of racial inequality in this country,” said John Schmitt, an economist and vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, citing the racial wealth gap and continuing racial discrimination in the labor and housing markets. “One of the key issues is the disadvantages so many African-Americans face, right from the very beginning as children.”

If that’s going to be the reflex response to this disaster, then the next 50 years will bring minimal progress as well. There is more, much more, to this multi-level failure of policy, planning, education, leadership and culture. I have mentioned before that just about 50 years ago I took an excellent course on the problems facing African-Americans in the United States. The Professor was a renowned expert in the field, Thomas Pettigrew. It was also the most depressing course I ever took. We studied how poverty and the lack of leadership and positive role models led to crime and destructive cultural norms; how this led in turn to prison and single parent, female-headed families, which encouraged single women to have children, which fed the cycle. We studied various innovative policy initiatives, and why they seemed doomed to failure.

I reflected on that course in a post almost two years ago to the day, while ruefully observing recent statistics about black social mobility. I’ll republish most of my observations then, because I have nothing to add to them now:

Observations:

1. The United States cannot ethically continue to follow a series of policies that have not sufficiently improved the lot of black Americans.

2. It should be self-evident that this persistent languishing state of inequality for a large group of Americans is a national anchor, impeding the nation in many ways, causing division, wasting resources, wasting lives and human capital.

3. Why did the first black President fail to make this national crisis a major priority? He was perfectly situated to do so. Instead, he concentrated on health care insurance, undermining immigration policy, and speculative climate change policies.

4. Why has the black community refused to demand accountability from the President and Democrats? Obama’s popularity with African Americans is still near 90%.

5. Why has the issue of lack of black economic and social progress been ignored in the campaign so far? The Democratic theme is income inequality, which is purely class warfare. The racial inequality is right there to see, and nobody’s talking about it. It isn’t all racism, as Pettigrew made clear decades ago. The orientation of the civil rights activists is exactly backwards,  for example focusing on “mass incarceration” as if the stalled social and economic progress of black society does not contribute to  the fact that a disproportionate number of black men end up in prison.

6. Similarly, the tactic of blaming whites for all the intransigent problems of the black population interferes with productive discussions and practical policy options. Relative white (and Asian, and soon, Hispanic) success is not the sole or even the greatest reason for black failure, though it is comforting and popular to claim so. Moreover, the “white privilege” approach is just blame-shifting, causing anger and resentment and straining what needs to be a biracial alliance for the long term best interests of the nation.

I can answer those questions in 3, 4 and 5.  The first black President didn’t concentrate on addressing the plight of black Americans because he didn’t have to; he knew he had their votes anyway. This response was his because Barack Obama was a fraud, without competence, integrity or courage. He used race as a tactical wedge, which is a primary reason race relations and tensions are worse now than at any point since the Sixties. The black community hasn’t demanded accountability because it has been gulled into passivity by generations of Democratic Party exploitation and soothing rhetoric, and because black leadership has been largely corrupt and inept. The answer to #5 is the easiest of all. Democrats couldn’t focus on the lack of black progress, because that failure was on Barack Obama’s doorstop. It was, and is, far easier to continue to engage in race-bating, and calling Republicans racists.

I said that this was most of my observations. I left out the main message of that post, which was that only something radical could have a chance of cutting this Gordian Knot, and maybe it was time to start seriously considering reparations, block grants to African-American citizens, as a policy option.

That was stupid and desperate, and I retract it. Such a proposal is like saying it’s time to ban guns. It can’t happen, and it’s both foolish and unethical to waste time arguing over fictional policies.

So now I’ve got nothing, and apparently, so does the country. This is an ethics issue, perhaps the ethics issue of our time. It is the ultimate challenge to our faith in democracy itself. There has to be a solution.

But I don’t have it.

 

72 Comments

Filed under Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, Race, Research and Scholarship, U.S. Society

72 responses to “NOW What? The Most Discouraging News Of All

  1. Paul W. Schlecht

    ”Obama’s popularity with African Americans is still near 90%.”

    Whoa Nellie! That’s plummeted from ~ 95 %…

    Walter Williams’ “The Welfare State’s Legacy” ain’t pretty.

    https://www.creators.com/read/walter-williams/09/17/the-welfare-states-legacy

    ”Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” by Jason L. Riley is uglier still.

    Disclosure: Williams and Riley are reportedly Black.

  2. I bought into the Kerner Commission Report. I was completely wrong as implementations of various policies simply failed.

  3. As I have been shown over the years, you can prove anything with statistics, this statistical analysis is no exception. A friend of mine said he read a fictional satirical statistical study where they proved that cat poop tastes like chicken.

    Do not trust statistics especially when it comes to politics and social justice, they are great for showing trends within the tunnel vision of the statistical analysis but the stated trends are only factual in that they are part of the statistical analysis, the overall implied facts or better yet innuendo are usually no more than fabricated propaganda to push an agenda.

  4. Other Bill

    Fifty years and how many trillions of dollars? What’s one definition of “insanity?”

    It remains my contention that the intractable flailing of the black underclass has driven policy makers and academics literally nuts. The latest manifestation has been the over-arching response to continued failure: make success easier. Black boys getting in trouble in high school? Ignore the problem, don’t be so tough on them. Black kids not succeeding at elite colleges and universities? Shunt them off into -studies programs taught by black professors who will graduate them. Too many black people in jail? Let them out. This ass-backwardsness is just insane.

    Has there ever been an ethnic group in the U.S. that has flourished that didn’t do so on its own?

    Of course, everything I’ve said is deemed racist.

  5. Aleksei

    I think a good starting point would be to walk back LBJ’s “Great Society”. It is allegedly said, he said that after his policies the negroes would be voting Dem for 200 years. The quote is disputed, but to remember Micheal Wolff, “if it rings true…”
    Get rid of affirmative action as well, since it’s patronizing and belittling.
    Start a large political campaign about the plight of the blacks, big cities, and Democratic machines. That is, a lot of blacks are mostly big city dwellers. Big cities have been Dem fiefdoms for 50 to 100 years on average. Has life gotten better? You can’t blame this one on Reps as per usual.
    Start a political campaign that shows how other minority groups were able to succeed in the US, like Jews, the Irish, the Italians, etc. Nobody liked them when they first came, despite the fact that they were white. That will show that racism isn’t the golden nugget of black’s failure in US society.
    Promote a traditional life style, e.g. getting married, staying together, having kids in wedlock. Have a community stigma against criminality and thugs. No “snitches get stitches” attitude. As I understand it, becoming a criminal in a bad neighborhood is seen as a way to move up in the world. No wonder there’s a high incarceration rate, if that’s seen as a viable career path.
    I think some of these suggestions are actionable, but they would get a lot of systemic resistance, getting labeled racist, etc. In our polarised society, for any positive changes to occur, this would have to come from the black community, white people will be perceived as having no legitimacy and standing on this issue. Black leaders are corrupt, so they have no interest in changing the status quo. It’s like the Palestinians, keep blaming Israel for everything, send rockets, get attacked, complain to the international community Israel is killing them for no reason, repeat.

    • Aleksei

      Also, about LBJ. He was a congressman & senator from Texas as a Dem for about 30 years. He started in the 1930’s. He later had a switch in his life to the whole civil rights idea. Was he a “true believer”, or was he just a master politician and set his sails to catch the ever changing winds? It seems to me, if he always believed in civil rights, etc, he might as have run as a Rep in the 30’s. Although that would have been a liability for one’s political career in 1930’s Texas perhaps. He has been known to use the N-word all the time during his presidency, behind the curtains of course, in private conversations. Was this his true self, or was that just when he talked with fellow Southern politicians, to make them buy into his civil right policies during his administration? LBJ just confuses me. He seemed to do the right thing, but his motives may not seem so pure. But as I understand from Ethics Alarms, it’s the action that matters, so in the end, his civil rights push was the right and ethical thing to do. Great Society, we can debate that later.

      • Having lived in Texas all my life, and having married into the Hill Country area that knew LBJ before and after he was elected, I have to say most folks did not like him… and the stories are that he was racist, ruthless, and without shame. He only won his first election, I am told, due to ‘voting irregularities’ in which the verified votes of many locals were somehow ‘missing’ or went to LBJ, despite their recollection of having voted otherwise.

        I believe that the Great Society was a callous insidious plan to enslave Blacks while blaming the GOP for their plight.

        • And in the WH he was notorious – maybe the most obnoxious president to WH staff and visitors. In fact, in his personal relationships as a politician a case can be made LBJ was Trump-like. I remember our first visit to the LBJ Ranch and the tour driver pointed out Lady Bird peeking through the window a habit we were told she had.

  6. Chris Marschner

    Jack

    Each one of these issues must be examined individually and the solutions must be integrative.

    On home ownership. I once suggested that certain select section 8 housing voucher recipients be allowed to use the subsidy to offset mortgage payments. Currently, we are transferring wealth from taxpayers to landlords. Why should existing owners of capital be subsidized? Create an approximation of a reverse mortgage in which taxpayers buy a property and the housing voucher is used to amortize the equivalent of a mortgage back to the taxpayer. In this manner we put up the money upfront and the reciepient retires a mortgage equivalent using the voucher, their contributions, and behavioral requirements not much different than what currently exists for section 8 vouchers

    Over time this would increase the rate of ownership, increase vesting in all neighborhoods, and at some point the total subsidy is ended for an individual when the mortgage is fully amortized.

    Establishing effective criteria regarding eligibility is key.
    Criteria could include:
    Must be a married couple,
    Children, if any must attend school regularly
    No illicit drug use
    Recipients must be employed at least 1 fulltime.

    Planning and execution of such a plan requires more than I can devlop here.

    • Chris M:

      You wrote: “Create an approximation of a reverse mortgage in which taxpayers buy a property and the housing voucher is used to amortize the equivalent of a mortgage back to the taxpayer.”

      Your point is well-taken, as I have represented landlords receiving Section VIII housing vouchers,where taxpayers subsidize landlords who provide substandard housing. The program is big, bureaucratic, and rife with corruption.

      Congress sought to address this issue with the Community Reinvestment Act, Title VIII of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1977, 12 U.S.C. § 2901 et seq., which was designed to encourage commercial banks and savings associations to help meet the needs of borrowers in all segments of their communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. The Act also penalized “redlining”, which was the practice of banks and lending institutions not lending money in minority-heavy areas of town. The Act mandates that all banking institutions that receive Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance be evaluated by Federal banking agencies to determine if the bank offers credit (in a manner consistent with safe and sound operation in all communities in which they are chartered to do business. As you suggested, the thought was home ownership has been the best indicator of building wealth, on the belief that if a person owned a financial and economic interest in property, he/she would be invested in that home, the neighborhood, the community, etc. The effectiveness of the Act is debatable, where arguments can be made that Act encouraged financial institutions to make high-risk loans to borrowers who could not afford to service the debts. There is some evidence that the Act was a contributing cause of the 2007-2008 mortgage financial crisis, though the mortgage banking crisis was more of a liquidity problem as a result of mortgage-backed securities.

      jvb

      • Chris Marschner

        John

        Thans for the feedback. I may not have been totally clear. What I was suggesting was that we frontload the subsidy with the governmet as a secured interest party. The voucher recipient would pay the government their portion and the acquisition value and carrying costs would be amortized over say 20 -25 years. In the event of default the property could be made available to a newly eligble program participant instead of foreclosure and liquidation. This would help stabilize existing home values and the tax base.

        Obviously, such an idea would need to be tested in a pilot program. Constructed properly I believe much of the bureacracy could be eliminated. I cannot address the corruption issue without knowing more details of the inherent problem.

        The core idea is simply shifting the transfer if wealth away from existing capital owners to those demonstrating the behavioral and soiological attributes we want all homeowners to have. Rents are perpetual, mortgages have a fixed lifespan. Just trying to address the intergenerational wealth disparity issues

        • Interesting idea. My question is: would this be property owned by the government? Or would it be property financed by a bank, with government underwriting and backing, such as FNMA, FHA, GNMA?

          jvb

          • Chris Marschner

            The gov would frontload the subsidy.

            Same model as bank financing but instead of issuing check to 3rd party as subsidy an accounting entry is made that transfers funds from one gov subsidy pmt account to another established to compensate the govt for front loading the payment to transfer the ownership interest to the program participant. Program recipient pays govt their portion rather than landlord

            Default by the program can be defined in both financial terms and non finacial ones

    • Other Bill

      Must be a married couple,
      Children, if any must attend school regularly
      No illicit drug use
      Recipients must be employed at least 1 full time.

      With all that going for them, most any couple should be able to qualify for a mortgage.

      • Chris Marschner

        OB

        Not always, a couple at the lowest income rungs will be hard pressed to amass sufficicient resources to meet even tbe most liberal lending policies Conceptually the criteria should be tailored to address the sociological issues that perpetuate inteegenerational poverty.

        Creating an achievable goal that is behaviorally based instead of financially based might create the incentives for others to aspire to obtain eligibility.

        Appreciate the feedback

        • Other Bill

          Chris, they sure could have qualified prior to 2008. There was a concerted effort during the Bush II years to have everyone own a home. Which was subsequently deemed to have been predatory lending. If the couple can’t own a home, they can rent. Then, their well cared for children can get a mortgage when they’re young adults and own a home. Why does it have to happen immediately, in a single generation? Did my Mick forbears buy a home with a mortgage as soon as they arrived from Potato Land? No. One step at a time.

          • Chris Marschner

            The gov would frontload the subsidy.

            Same model as bank financing but instead of issuing check to 3rd party as subsidy an accounting entry is made that transfers funds from one gov subsidy pmt account to another established to compensate the govt for front loading the payment to transfer the ownership interest to the program participant. Program recipient pays govt their portion rather than landlord

            Default by the program can be defined in both financial terms and non finacial ones

          • Chris Marschner

            Problem prior to 2008 was realtors pushed people beyond their ability to pay

            Mortgage brokers created low doc no doc loans.

            Housing prices were bid up beyond true value based on sub prime availability. People bought homes that could not be supported on one income.

          • Chris Marschner

            OB

            In general I agree but we need new ideas to wean people off the govt teet.

            They are still going to get a voucher and that is paid to a property owner. Why should we pay the landlords in perpetuity.

            In an ideal world everyone would do as you suggest but years ago we did not have to overcome a sense of entitlement

            • Other Bill

              Wean people from a sense of entitlement by giving them a check from yet another never ending temporary government program? I guess my suggestion is more along the lines of, if you’re a poor black person, what can you do to better your situation?

              • Chris Marschner

                OB

                Section 8 helps offset rents. If they cannot afford to rent without a subsidy they cannot afford to buy

                So taxpayer income is transferred to a third party landlord to help pay the rent. The tenant pays their scaled portion. Whose wealth is being increased? The landlord. Govt pays forever for each authotized voucher.

                Now assume the voucher takes the form of mortgage payment. Wealth begins to accrue to voucher recipient through home appreciation and buy down from their share. Now the recipient has vested interest. Moreover, accumulated appreciation and equity growth can serve as down pmt for refinance after recipient income grows
                Govt no longer pays subsidy.

    • I’ll post this as a COTD and see what the throng can come up with.

      • Chris Marschner

        Thank you this would be a radical change in delivery of housing subsidies.

        I saw the post as a call for ideas rather than a forum to gripe about the thesis of pervasive racism.
        I worry that new ideas will be rejected because of :
        Not fair non subsidy recipients
        Never been done before
        Its not a fit for all – its too selective not fair to all other subsidy recipients who dont qualify or must wait.

  7. After all the rhetoric, all the safety nets, The Great Society, the Civil Rights Act, nothing. After busing, 50 years of affirmative action and diversity training in employment and educational institution admissions, nothing. After an explosion in the numbers of African American House members, police commissioners, judges, lawyers, doctors, big city mayors, and governors; after home rule in the District of Columbia, after Barack Obama…no progress. After 50 years that saw attitudes on mixed race marriages, cultural representation in academia, media and entertainment, broadcasting and sports; after Barbara Jordan, Michael Jordan, Bernie Shaw, “The Cosby Show,” Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Serena Williams, Flip Wilson, Johnnie Cochran, Spike Lee, Oprah, Michael Jackson, “Hamilton,” “Scandal,” “The Butler,” “Hallelujah Baby!”, Rhianna, Beyonce, Jay-Z…how can this be possible?

    Well, there is still Wakanda… 😉

    At least on one level the entire question can be reduced to a simple statement of fact: black people and white people want different things. (I am excluding here what Mesoamericans want but one must consider the three main race and culture groups as part of a larger analysis).

    I suppose it must upset some people, many people perhaps? to state in clear terms that simply by assimilating a given person or group that they will automatically, instantly and perfectly, take on the characteristics, values and desires of the assimilating culture. Yet it is really a part of American ideology. I describe it as a metaphysical predicate because it see it as such (and can describe it).

    They reduce the person to a ‘unit’ or a ‘cog’. You take one out and slip another in and, magically and in accord with American ideology, they perform the same. Why not just replace everyone? They literally think that this could happen! The idea is false. Now, the false idea has to be dismantled. To state the truth means truth-telling. No one wishes to tell the truth. So they continue in the lies. There comes a time when facing the lie is less painful than living in it.

    The horrifying realization that comes to the surface when reflecting on the above-quoted paragraph is this is what you have done to yourselves! Now and after 50-60 years you have so blended the problem into the structure of your society that remedial action cannot be undertaken without severe social consequences. How did this happen? How did this get set in motion? What ideology stands behind it? Hard questions and they have to be answered.

    What ‘black culture’ is doing and can do is function through its resenting role. Ressentiment is a social strategy. My impression is that black culture is almost completely dependent on white culture. The simple way to grasp this is to imagine what a black culture would create independently of the guiding Whites. What American Blacks have done, with all sort of help from their white brothers and sisters, is to have perfected a complex parasitism network, borne out of ressentiment, which provides advantages as their overall effort is, more or less, to drag things down to their level. I do not say that this level is ‘bad’ but that it is peculiar to them. I

    see the same thing in my own former country (Venezuela) and in Latin America in general (where I now am living). One class has will and desire to create, build, grow, produce and attain … and the other class (seen in terms of poles) simply does not desire that. Yet it desires the benefits of that. It sees what the other does and is capable of and can only see their progress as resulting from something taken from them. A complex co-dependency develops. In Latin America it results in a neo-socialism where substantial crumbs are tossed down simply to keep the mass from making life totally intolerable. (I do however do not see the poor class as the class to be blamed).

    Out of this entire mess, this entire constructed postwar mess; out of drunk hippy idealism and big-talking fakery; out of lies, deceptions, misrepresentations a specific people with a specific social and civilizational consciousness must separate themselves from the internalized lies and mistruths. This is the near-impossible feat! since in different senses they must turn against a tremendous indoctrination.

    A perverse form of engineered American identity has to be confronted, interiorly and intellectually, and rescripted, It amounts to the reversal of the ideology and the policy of the last 50-60 years.

    Go slowly, it will not be easy.

    • Are you saying that people within an ethnic group all have similar values? That seems to me much less accurate than you may think. There are many mindsets, several attributes, and multiple desires people can have, not to mention all the various personality quirks and idiosyncrasies that lead people to be very different from each other even within the same family. I agree that cultural groups have different ways of thinking, but there are always individuals within those cultural groups who think differently, and I’d argue that those (many types of) mavericks are often the driving force behind innovation and advancement. In fact, I have a fiction series on the back burner (okay, it’s actually in the freezer) that I’m writing about eight different cultures, each on a basic mindsets, and how they limit themselves by marginalizing people who use other mindsets.

      “I am excluding here what Mesoamericans want but one must consider the three main race and culture groups as part of a larger analysis.”

      What are those three groups, and how do you define their cultures? And why do you feel it’s useful to limit it to just three and exclude all the other distinct cultures?

      Rather than put people into categories, I find it’s necessary and sufficient to create a vocabulary of traits to describe people. Instead of painting an entire ethnic group a single color, I take my palette and use it to paint elaborate pictures of people’s souls, starting from the broad strokes and adding detail as I get to know them. By extension, I find it’s much more useful to think of cultures as collections of individuals with varying traits and some general commonalities. Thinking of them as mutually incompatible groups of humans that are biologically and psychologically tied to mutually alien concepts is an intellectual cop-out, and furthermore is provably untrue, unless you want to reject all the evidence ad hoc as superficial exceptions to an idea that’s somehow self-evident, or some such nonsense.

      • EC asks: “Are you saying that people within an ethnic group all have similar values? That seems to me much less accurate than you may think. There are many mindsets, several attributes, and multiple desires people can have, not to mention all the various personality quirks and idiosyncrasies that lead people to be very different from each other even within the same family. I agree that cultural groups have different ways of thinking, but there are always individuals within those cultural groups who think differently, and I’d argue that those (many types of) mavericks are often the driving force behind innovation and advancement. In fact, I have a fiction series on the back burner (okay, it’s actually in the freezer) that I’m writing about eight different cultures, each on a basic mindsets, and how they limit themselves by marginalizing people who use other mindsets.”

        That is not what I am trying to say or, to put it differently, to point to. I think that to understand African-Americans in America one needs a basis conceptual structure. The one that I think is relevant is that used by Angela Davis: ‘We were robbed from the shores of Africa’. I take that idea and I combine it with another: African-Americans were made ‘to serve in the Empire of the white man’s will’. I do not know who coined that term but I think it might be related to a Kiplingesque concept. It is part of an anthropology of self-definition peculiar to European cultures.

        To put it in the most simple terms: In the course of African liberation, especially post-1865, it became necessary for African Americans to discover ‘self-identity’. They had to find it within a context where such ‘identity’ was not an issue. I refer to that identity as ‘the empire of the white man’s will’. But let us return to Angela Davis’ statement about having been ‘robbed from the shores of Africa’. That means to have been robbed from out of your own context. Robbed of your ‘self’ when taken from your soil, your social and cultural accomplishments temporally; robbed of your language with all its organic interconnections to all aspects of being. Dragged into slavery you were made to ‘labor in the empire of the white man’s will’. Not in your historical and temporal will but in that of another.

        If you understand this very basic declaration I think you will understand the essence of what I am trying to communicate. It is not intended as a destructive or undermining effort, rather it is a creative one.

        Now, when you then focus on the Black Identity Movement you will immediately notice certain things. One, that the recovery of identity involves a realization of what had been taken from you. Because you are forced, in poignancy, to ask the question: Who am I? How did I get here? What does it mean that I am here? And where am I going?

        But you do not get that question from your (former) master, the one who robbed you from your context in order to serve in his empire. The act of self-definition is a reaction against the definitions of the other. There are many things that can be said about this and very few of them (I suggest) have you ever dedicated time to thinking about.

        When one recovers one’s own self, one recovers that capacity to make decisions about who one is, why one is, and what one desires to do. I submit that the recovery of ‘black identity’ occurs in a vis-a-vis situation. For example:

        “I see you [Mr Whiteperson] and I see what you do and what you create. You are functioning within the trajectory of your cultural momentum. But more than that, you function within your civilizational momentum. And where do I stand in relation to that? True, you freed me from slavery (which also means that I did not free myself and even my freedom is, in effect, your gift to me), but then you seem to have demanded of me that I continue in subjugation to your ‘overarching will’, and then you get angry when I do not perform or choose not to perform as you think ‘normal’ ‘good’ and ‘necessary’. Once danced for you and you laughed. Now you ask me to dance again but I still feel myself to be under the same terms.

        What I am suggesting is to see ‘what happens in our present’ as an effect of previous causes. Since the topic of this thread seems to be Why can’t Blacks get up to speed? I am attempting to lay down some contextual ground and through that to actually begin to see the problem with a far wider perspective. And because I am interested in gaining and regaining the power to think freely, I am forcing myself to ‘say what I see’ and not to adapt what I say to what the culture surrounding me tells me I must see/think.

        I wrote: “I am excluding here what Mesoamericans want but one must consider the three main race and culture groups as part of a larger analysis.”

        You asked: “What are those three groups, and how do you define their cultures? And why do you feel it’s useful to limit it to just three and exclude all the other distinct cultures?”

        It seems like a genuine and a good question, on the face, but my dear IC it is really quite an ignorant one! You want me to give you some defining structure so that you can see Europe as distinguished from West Africa and then from Mesoamerican Indigenous cultures? The root of white Americans is in Europe. That of Black Africans in West Africa. And that of Mesoamericans in the Spanish conquest of the indigenous cultures. ‘Who one is’ is also a question of where one’s body came from and what had been done to that body in temporal processes.

        The reason to look at and consider these Three Cultures is because these are the three main cultures that comprise the US right now. And to understand ‘what is happening in our present’ one must turn one’s eye —- one’s unencumbered eye I will say —- to actually seeing what is there and what is real, not what idealistic vision sees, or what PC interpositions insist that you see.

        ”Rather than put people into categories, I find it’s necessary and sufficient to create a vocabulary of traits to describe people. Instead of painting an entire ethnic group a single color, I take my palette and use it to paint elaborate pictures of people’s souls, starting from the broad strokes and adding detail as I get to know them. By extension, I find it’s much more useful to think of cultures as collections of individuals with varying traits and some general commonalities. Thinking of them as mutually incompatible groups of humans that are biologically and psychologically tied to mutually alien concepts is an intellectual cop-out, and furthermore is provably untrue, unless you want to reject all the evidence ad hoc as superficial exceptions to an idea that’s somehow self-evident, or some such nonsense.

        Right. ‘I am an octopus’. I have no skeleton. I am amorphous. I have no history. I may not even really exist in time. I am not sure but there is a possibility I am floating through the galaxy. I can take any form or no form. But I have a difficult time arriving at ‘tangible solidities’. “What will I create?” you ask. Well, not much of anything really. I am much more interested (as you may gather) from the deconstruction of self than I am from strnegthening distinctions and definitions.

        Because you are making propositional statements, I feel it fair game to analyze, hermeneutically, what you say and try to understand why you say it. Despire the image you have crafted for your discursive self, I suggest that your philosophy is essentially American. I do not mean this as criticism but I do mean it critically. And I further suggest that these idea, though they appear inert, are actually quite active. They do not build up definitions, categories, solidities if you will in time, they actually work against them.

        It is not by accident that what you think and say and what I think and say clash. I work against what you propose and you, similarly, do the same.

        • “The reason to look at and consider these Three Cultures is because these are the three main cultures that comprise the US right now.”

          Fair enough. I was just wondering where Asians, Indians, Muslims, et cetera, and all their various subgroups fit into your model.

          You say people have trouble when they don’t have a historical context for their own existence? That sounds reasonable to me. I don’t pay much heed to the historical context for my own existence and it hasn’t stopped me, but other people may function differently.

          “That there is a very large Mesoamerican (Mexican primarily) population or enclave within the US. To understand ‘who they are’ and ‘what they are doing there’, you’d have to make the effort to to see. Except only if one could actually see them in real terms. You cannot see them in any terms at all. You have no terms.”

          I have plenty of terms, and they all have important meanings. There are terms for mindsets, motivations, and attributes. I just don’t use terms with empty definitions.

          “Your ‘project’ continues in time and through time, destroying hierarchies and divisions, rendering all to monochrome sameness.”

          If it results in monochrome sameness, that can’t be my project. You must be thinking of someone else’s project. I’m also not interested in destroying hierarchies and divisions, but I am interested in making them work better. Hierarchies need to be more accountable for their decisions, and divisions must not stop people from understanding each other and interacting respectfully. My project is not nihilism per se, but anti-nihilism. It must start with the idea that there is no meaning but what we make, and end with the idea that we have nothing better to do but make meanings and create a world that is more worthy in those paradigms.

          “You are an American. You are involved though you cannot see it and understand why, in certain ‘projects’ that have to do with breaking down of definitions.”

          If you were at all familiar with the history of existentialism, you wouldn’t be so quick to assign my philosophy a nationality. You are also wrong about what I can and can’t see and understand. You think I haven’t deconstructed myself to figure out why I do what I do? Self-awareness and metacognition is one of the most important aspects of perception mindset. The reason I am deconstructing hierarchies and divisions is because they lead people to perform unethical deeds and cause problems while denying responsibility for their own actions. One of my first steps is to get people to acknowledge that they make choices based on what they want and value, and aren’t “forced” to do many of the things they do. Hierarchies and divisions are not arbitrary, nor can they be simply erased, but they are also not immutable. We do continuously choose for them to exist. I’m just looking for people to choose them deliberately, on their merits, rather than unthinkingly choosing to keep by default the structures that evolved from the unthinking choices of millions of people over hundreds of years.

          • IC writes: ”Fair enough. I was just wondering where Asians, Indians, Muslims, et cetera, and all their various subgroups fit into your model.

            All definitions serve purposes. My definitions are intended to serve purposes. I am an advocate for European Americans (and Europeans generally) and therefor I contrast ‘Europeanism’ and all that makes Europe Europe with other cultures non-European. My purpose is to establish or reestablish difference as a useful and important category. I desire to take a mass and separate that mass into its parts. I seek not to blend but to distinguish.

            The principal question in my hierarchy of questions is What do you serve? (I do not mean you EC, it is ageneral question). I direct my discourse to Europeans and European-descended. I desire to restimulate specific elements of identity within a somewhat specific people and to give power to this specific general project. The definition I use for ‘white people’ or ‘white culture’ is, more or less, that of Europe: a confederation of peoples who have been moulded over time by the same idea-materials.

            Asians and Indians and certainly Muslims have little relevance to me because they do not have, and cannot have, specific relevance to my defined project. To the degree that they further this project they are seen as friends. If they act against the project they are unfriends.

            Mesoamericans in the American Empire require analysis and thoughtful seeing. I would say that based on what I know and have seen that ‘they’ do not serve European processes (if I can put it like this). They serve their own historical processes which have been provided to them by necessity and calamity. I would go so far and be so bold as to say that they ‘cannot be real Americans’ but I say that with definite caveats. But then I hold tightly to definitions of American Identity’. American identity is being remodeled to be non-American identity. That is, it separated from identity as defined in a former time. What will be made of America and American Identity, I suggest, is unfolding before our eyes. The outward ‘symbol’ is now and will be in the future ‘the tearing down of monuments’ which actually means the denial of one history as another is foregrounded.

            The definitions that I work with as predicates naturally produce a good deal of discourse as well as outline actions. For me the main action is ‘accentuating identity’ and separating meshed identity: a process of clarification.

            You say people have trouble when they don’t have a historical context for their own existence? That sounds reasonable to me. I don’t pay much heed to the historical context for my own existence and it hasn’t stopped me, but other people may function differently.

            I would say that when people lose their actual and real understanding of who they are, what they are, where they are, and what they are doing, they will have simultaneously have lost a sense of historical context. So, yes, to lose identity is in that sense to lose one’s way. One can lose one’s identity, and thus one’s way, through various means. It can be taken from one, and one can fail to understand the importance of it and thus squander it. Like in ‘you sold your patrimony for a mess of potage’. One large and dominant aspect of ‘Americanism’ (I regret to say) is as a nihilistic narcotic. It simply washes over people with the completely inane. Noise, meaningless fluttering and shimmerings, amazingly stupid side-steppings into byways and hiways of senselessness: these often result in temptations to surrender to idiocy.

            “I don’t pay much heed to the historical context for my own existence and it hasn’t stopped me…”

            From what? What hasn’t it stopped you from?

            I have plenty of terms, and they all have important meanings. There are terms for mindsets, motivations, and attributes. I just don’t use terms with empty definitions.

            Yet you ‘larger context’ seems absent (to me). You seek to apply those terms and I grant you that they are resources in their ways. But they seem to function within an empty larger context. Despite the fact that I desire (if I am able) to play hard with ideas I do not mean to undermine your own values. But any declaration of values is a ‘platform’ and any platform can be, must be, analyzed.

            I said: “Your ‘project’ continues in time and through time, destroying hierarchies and divisions, rendering all to monochrome sameness.”

            You wrote: ”If it results in monochrome sameness, that can’t be my project. You must be thinking of someone else’s project. I’m also not interested in destroying hierarchies and divisions, but I am interested in making them work better. Hierarchies need to be more accountable for their decisions, and divisions must not stop people from understanding each other and interacting respectfully. My project is not nihilism per se, but anti-nihilism. It must start with the idea that there is no meaning but what we make, and end with the idea that we have nothing better to do but make meanings and create a world that is more worthy in those paradigms.

            Except I am thinking of what I understand to be an aspect of ‘the American project’ as it has evolved post-Civil War. An aspect of that is to create a monochrome culture and if I note this I do not say that I cannot understand its logic.

            If you are not interested in destroying hierarchies and divisions then I assume you are with me as I seek to more starkly define the differences between what one people may desire and will to create, and what aonther people desires and wills to create, and to understand them as non-compatable.

            I cannot be certain what ‘working better’ is. But I will take it in its ‘spirit’ as it were. I am interested in the idea of radical reformulations of intention and intentionality. I am interested in the hard the sheer the decisive. Therefor I have concluded that one must work in the realm of ‘cutting ideas’.

            If you were at all familiar with the history of existentialism, you wouldn’t be so quick to assign my philosophy a nationality. You are also wrong about what I can and can’t see and understand. You think I haven’t deconstructed myself to figure out why I do what I do? Self-awareness and metacognition is one of the most important aspects of perception mindset. The reason I am deconstructing hierarchies and divisions is because they lead people to perform unethical deeds and cause problems while denying responsibility for their own actions. One of my first steps is to get people to acknowledge that they make choices based on what they want and value, and aren’t “forced” to do many of the things they do. Hierarchies and divisions are not arbitrary, nor can they be simply erased, but they are also not immutable. We do continuously choose for them to exist. I’m just looking for people to choose them deliberately, on their merits, rather than unthinkingly choosing to keep by default the structures that evolved from the unthinking choices of millions of people over hundreds of years.

            Conversation is, for me, a form of combat. I seek to be combatative because, well, it’s fun! By making bold accusations one provokes reactions, and reactions reveal more and more of interest.

            The hierarchies that we can speak about, and ones that are being dismantled either intentionally or inadvertently, did not come to exist through unthinkingness but rather through thinkfulness. I am inclined to the view that *we* are allowing these value-attainments, based in definitions, to fall to pieces, but I do not see this process (of allowing the latter) as coming about through thoughtfulness. I am inclined to see the effects of nescience. Nescience is perhaps hard to define, or itself requires value assessments, but I have noticed smart people who yet serve (what I consider to be) destructive processes.

            If it is true that ‘people make choices on the basis of ‘what they want and value’, then this posits serious consideration of what is to be valued, why it is valued, and much else. I can only speak generally but my impression is that ‘people’ are not doing very good (nor profound) thinking about the question of values and also the issue of wants and wanting.

            I can relate to a good portion within this above-quoted paragraph and yet I confess to being suspicious. Suspicious of you, of me, of everyone. Don’t take it personally. I feel I am surrounded by thoughtless, careless people who through their laxity have allowed many harmful things to take place. Everything has to be gone through, thought about, redefined.

            • “What hasn’t it stopped you from?”

              Paying little heed to my own historical context hasn’t stopped me from figuring out who I am. I think the reason I dislike people focusing on historical context so much is because drawing your identity from your ancestors leads to complacency and denying responsibility for your actions. People get tribal and are preoccupied with thinking their tribe’s way instead of asking questions.

              I do have a platform, but it’s a universal platform, and can be applied to any group of people regardless of origin.

              “I can only speak generally but my impression is that ‘people’ are not doing very good (nor profound) thinking about the question of values and also the issue of wants and wanting.”

              I concur. I also engage in cutting ideas, and think of it much the same way (analysis mindset is an aspect of perception mindset, and it has an ice theme, which is cold, hard, and sharp). However, I don’t think you’re as skilled in how you slice things. You can’t define the differences between cultures until you can define people in and of themselves.

              You’ll get farther if you define people and cultures functionally, with things like input and output, process and mechanism (and yes, biological origins are helpful for that). Functional definitions are infinitely more useful than ones based on “Europeanness” or other vague, ineffable terms. If you define them socio-historically, as in “they look similar, share a language, and have the same traditions, legends, and shibboleths, and through all these they share a bond of trust and relatively easy communication,” then that’s fine, but that alone doesn’t make them fundamentally different from any other group. That is, they may think the same way as another group, and just haven’t bonded with the members of that group. Allowing such differences to cause real problems is stupid and avoidable.

              Not sure if I addressed everything but I have to cut it off here for tonight.

            • P.S. “Nescience” just means ignorance. I looked it up on Google. It’s not hard to define at all, unless you’re using a personal definition (which I respect; I have personal definitions for many words which I consider more useful than the mainstream). However, if you hold yourself to higher standards for defining and articulating your thoughts, illustrating them with examples or analogies, that would help other people understand how you see things. It’s clear to me that you lack skill in either perception mindset, or communication mindset. My money’s on both, but improving in either would help you a great deal with framing your ideas.

              • I wrote”The hierarchies that we can speak about, and ones that are being dismantled either intentionally or inadvertently, did not come to exist through unthinkingness but rather through thinkfulness. I am inclined to the view that *we* are allowing these value-attainments, based in definitions, to fall to pieces, but I do not see this process (of allowing the latter) as coming about through thoughtfulness. I am inclined to see the effects of nescience. Nescience is perhaps hard to define, or itself requires value assessments, but I have noticed smart people who yet serve (what I consider to be) destructive processes”

                Nescience is quite different from ignorance. Both in the origin of the words and in the use of the words. Though it is very hard material to grasp, and harder to master, I am trying to pay attention to Thomist philosophy and this means an older metaphysics and anthropology that at one time was common but which understanding has been superceded.

                If you think of *me*, for example, as a drowning person gasping for air, and ‘air’ as being gnosis or scientia you may be able to comprehend why I understand these issues and these definitions to be so crucial to survival.

                If you understand ‘our world’ as one that is subject to a reconditioning and a renovation of a former scientia and anthropologia and if you at least conceptually understand or appreciate that, for some, this presages the destruction of man, then at the least you will understand why there is desperation in the face of a general onslaught. The ‘general onslaught’ refers to a general attack on former, and in my view more ‘real’ and more substantial, truths.

                One of the reasons why it is so hard to communicate from this particular base in values and ideas is because of both ignorance and nescience. Even to explain what nescience is requires backgrounding! These are not simple questions. They are fundamental and elemental issues which go to the very heart of everything, all things.

                But I have to admit to you an understanding of things which, I assume from reading you, is not part of your view, your ‘science’ if you will. And that is the demonological. That is, a force or power that desires and works toward destroying salvific knowledge (scientiam salutis). It is really as simple as that, though it is a radical idea. But to speak of the salvific means to have ready definitions about the soul, the world, the angelic world and the demonic world. And to speak in these terms means, in fact, to have a defined physics (which in early Cristianity was the science of understanding the physical world and the body in which the soul is ensconsed). All of this, and the anthropology that comes out of it, were part of a conceptual order that, among us, is being undermined. These are shifts in ideation that span 400-600 years. Because they are such giant shifts they can be spoken of as metaphysical and monumental.

                I suggest, therefor, that one of the reasons that I cannot make my meanings clear to you — added to the fact that I am not very expert — is because I am dealing on ideas and terms which, excuse the phrasing, fly over your head. You can’t grasp the ideas because the concepts on which they are based have in you been undermined. You are not really ‘ignorant’ therefor but more properly tending toward a condition of nescience.

                When I say ‘you’ I really mean an entire mass. I mean ‘the Occident’. The World. The intellectual world. Et cetera. Some say that the reason these former, scholastic-based ideas about reality are diminishing is because ‘science’ has advanced. Therefor gnosis (knowledge) has increased and the superior replaces the inferior. We have a new and better world-picture that supplants the old one, seen as antiquated and non-useful. Yet I suggest that this is a trick and a trap. It is classic sophistry. Because I understand true knowledge to have eternal features.

                The reconditioning of understanding to conform to modern trends and a modern idea-base is a deliberate process, that is, it involves the will. But the state to which it brings one is distinct from ignorance. The purpose of the undermining of ‘true knowledge’ (true metaphysical knowledge about the nature of physics and the nature of man, and man’s condition in this world and in a body), lead to a general condition of nescience. One simply does not have any longer access to the conceptual order on which ‘scientia’ should be based.

                Therefor, if the whole ‘world’ is working in this direction, and can be said to do this through ignorance (willful decisiveness not to heed what must be heeded), still there will come a point where the individual is, in certain important senses, blameless. I think you could probably grasp the idea behind ‘If you cause one of these little ones to stumble …” (you are guilty of a grave sin). The idea is there: those who have responsibility to educate truly, which means those who have the power in gnosis, and who instead abuse their power, are acting out of ‘willed ignorance’. But those who get trapped by their trickery and their sophistry are, in this sense, victims and blameless. But the condition of man is what interests me, and that is why I use the word nescience.

                I do not really have a problem that *you* cannot understand what I say and why I say it. I mean that a) I can always work on my communication skills and get better at what I seek to accomplis, but b) you may not ever be able to (or be interested in) recovering the gnosis-base which I am attempting to recover and to live from. In actual fact (according to my somewhat pretentious declarations) it is you who has the responsibility of deepening your understanding. You have to take the steps and you cannot blame me for either your ignorance or your nescient state. I hope that you see that I am not speaking here to you. There is no ‘I’ but there is something that stands completely behind and all references are to ground of being.

                All these idea, and all ideas, are ‘of a piece’. If you wonder why a conversation about race-identity and cultiral identity, as we began, branch into other levels of definition, I suggest that the explanation should be obvious but is shrouded, if you will, by nescience.

                Well, how did I do? 😉

                • Not great.

                  I looked up “nescience” again, and found a definition I overlooked. In a philosophical context, it just means something like “rejecting the concept or value of knowledge”. That’s still well within my ability to grasp.

                  The vast majority of things you say are to me as riddles: poetic, vague, distorted, needlessly complicated, and in the end referring to something mundane, familiar, and simple. However, whereas riddles are recreational artifices, you seem to see the world in these convoluted terms, to the point where what I consider simple cause and effect must to you have some sort of grand, far-reaching implications and metaphysical connections to other events. The way I see the world is poetic, to be sure, but I endeavor to simplify things as much as possible (but not more than that, as per Einstein). That way I can more easily engage with problems.

                  If you want to bring back this gnosis base you speak of, the onus is on you rather than me. You’re the one who thinks it exists. Learn more about how everyone else thinks, and then explain it to them. (I can help you understand how humans think, if you’d like.) I don’t go looking for things that offer only people of questionable perception as evidence. I have my own gnosis base, and it is quite solid and expansive. Just because I tear apart the ideas of others doesn’t mean I offer none of my own.

                  • ”The vast majority of things you say are to me as riddles: poetic, vague, distorted, needlessly complicated, and in the end referring to something mundane, familiar, and simple. However, whereas riddles are recreational artifices, you seem to see the world in these convoluted terms, to the point where what I consider simple cause and effect must to you have some sort of grand, far-reaching implications and metaphysical connections to other events. The way I see the world is poetic, to be sure, but I endeavor to simplify things as much as possible (but not more than that, as per Einstein). That way I can more easily engage with problems.

                    Yet riddles are sometimes enigmas that when ‘answered’ have expansive meanings in them; poems allude to things hard to define and indeed poems are often what people turn to clarify difficult topics; an allusion is technically ‘vague’ if only because it is offered in skeleton form and demands of the listener an investment; perhaps by ‘distortion’ you mean reference to generalities, or perhaps accentuations to make a point? I do admit though to thinking about the critique ‘needlessly complicated’. Those who might say that actually believe that they have a simple analysis, so what you are saying is likely to be an assertion on your part.

                    But I will take ‘needlessly complicated’ from you as a constructive criticism, yet I must say something about it. I start from the premise that there is nothing ‘simple’ about the present in which we are living. I also think that every aspect of it requires a hermeneutical effort to decipher it. One of the main problems about the present is that no one seems to know how to interpret it and there are a dismaying array of different ‘lenses’ through which it can be viewed.

                    I think I have a prime example which might illustrate why I would say that *things* are terribly complex and *nearly impossible* to decypher: the events of 9/11. You might think: ‘All I need to do is open my eyes and look at the event in order to see it fully and clearly’. But I will assert that this is definitely not the case. Such *seeing* is seeing surfaces, or seeing what is presented, and this seeing leads directly to mis-seeing. I have no idea if you (or anyone else who writes on this forum) have devoted any time and energy to the investigation of this Event, yet it is by any standard a ‘millenial’ event. The slightest ‘scratching of the surface’, minimal energy directed to more detailed seeing, results in a ‘collapse’ of the formal, presented, mediated understanding of the event. But this Event can function, I would suggest, as a descriptive metaphor for Our Time, this moment, ourselves as perceiving beings, in political reality and all that is connected with the political world, but also with Reality itself: our being within this plane of existence. Is that too complex an outline for you? Would you undermine my ‘allusions’ with clarifying simplicity?

                    Having explored for quite a number of months now the critical analysis of this Event I cannot say that I am any more in a clarifying light. In many senses less so. But I am aware of a curious truth. In order to gain or regain ‘clarity’, which in this sense might mean ‘renewed confidence in the present as an honesty, I would have to re-feed myself what would amount to a lying and distorting version-of-things. Life is ‘safe’ in tis sense for those who believe Received Truths. If what I am suggesting here is true, that alone leads to a great many difficult and challenging observations.

                    While you say that my views are ‘needlessly complex’ I have found that what is offered to me as ‘settled fact’ or ‘settled history’ is not ever quite what it seems. In my own case the realization came home to me during the course of study dedicated to the American Civil War (and the ACW is the causal origin of so many different aspects operating in our present). It is not (at all) what it seemed. It is not at all what people say it was. Looking at the surface, believing the stories told about it (narrated by men of honeyed tongue with a banjo plucking in the background…), and investing in the story-as-sophistry one is quickly enveloped in falseness. The story is presented to us of a war that was a creation but to picture it like that is to fail to *see* that it was actually much more of a destruction. And how shall one come upon a suitable ‘lens’ through which to view it? This is not easy to answer. And now comes a ‘riddle’ and an ‘enigma’: according to Richard Weaver to understand the event requires philosophical back-tracking. In his introduction to ‘Ideas Have Consequences’ he writes:

                    ”Like Macbeth, Western man made an evil decision, which has become the efficient and final cause of other evil decisions. Have we forgotten our encounter with the witches on the heath? It occurred in the late fourteenth century, and what the witches said to the protagonist of this drama was that man could realize himself more fully if he would only abandon his belief in the existence of transcendentals. The powers of darkness were working subtly, as always, and they couched this proposition in the seemingly innocent for of an attack upon universals. The defeat of logical realism in the great medieval debate was the crucial event in the history of Western culture; from this flowed those acts which issue now in modern decadence.”

                    To understand what he is talking about, of course, will requie a grasp of what is referred to with ‘universals’, ‘logical realism’, ‘the medieval debate’ and also ‘transcendentals’. In regard to these things though I would lay stress again on ‘nesceience’ (in accord with my definition, not yours!) But here is a further key which, in my own case, has set me on my present course which I pursue as a what I definely feel myself to be: a lonely sailor on forgotten seas:

                    ”For this reason I turn to William of Occam as the best representative of a change which came over man’s conception of reality at this historical juncture. It was William of Occam who propounded the fateful doctrine of nominalism, which denies that universals have a real existence. His triumph tended to leave universal terms mere names serving our convenience. The issue ultimately involved is whether there is a source of truth higher than, and independent of, man; and the answer to the question is decisive for one’s view of the nature and destiny of humankind. The practical result of nominalist philosophy is to banish the reality which is perceived by the intellect and to posit as reality that which we perceive by the senses. With this change in the affirmation of what is real, the whole orientation of culture takes a turn, and we are on the road to modern empiricism.”

                    Now, here is the poetic allusion which does, shortly and immediately, all the service of a great deal of descriptive prose (Blake):

                    This life’s dim windows of the soul
                    Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
                    And leads you to believe a lie
                    When you see with, not through, the eye.

                    You see, my dear Intergallactic Octopus, once one opens Pandora’s box, once one sets out on the journey, in a peculiar way one sacrifices ‘the road home’ if ‘home’ is taken to be convenient interpretations within a present uphelded by illusions. But there is a further reference so to keep things sufficiently poetical: When Glocester is blinded he wanders without a way and laments that he ‘stumbled when he saw’. He had to lose superficial sight to be able to finally see clearly. King Lear is a profound work having to do with ‘vision’ and discerning depth from surface. It is not at all irrelevant to ourselves in our present and in our present condition.

                    In reference to what you are saying, if they are taken as expressions of ‘modernistic scientism’ (which I assume informs you simply because it informs the Great Mass), I am definitely DEFINITELY proposing complexity to your simplicity.

                    What I have written here has taken a good deal of time and thought. It will be of absolutely no avail! It is a wasted effort! And yet I do it and do not mind in the slightest. This is how it is in Our Present. Our world is submerged in nescience.

                    On a somewhat more hopeful not, I leave you, amorphous one, with Carlyle:

                    ”But the thing a man does practically believe (and this is often enough without aserting it even to himself. Much less to others); the thing that a man does practically lay to heart, and know for certain, concerning his vital relations with this mysterious Universe, and his duty and destiny there, that is in all cases the primary thing for hi, and creatively determines all the rest.”

                  • NB: One influential work that got me started on a depth-analysis of the ACW, and then led to so many other issues and studies, was ‘The Southern Tradition at Bay: A History of Postbellum Thought’. He sees ‘The South’ as ‘the last non-material civilization in the hemisphere’ and its destruction as an assault on non-material values.

                    ‘Ideas Have Consequences’ is a critical and philosophical work that is very difficult to categorize, but the close reading of it inevitably leads to more in-depth analysis of things and to a poignant critical position vis-a-vis ‘the American present’.

              • A couple of smaller point (perhaps not so small after all):

                1) I do have a platform, but it’s a universal platform, and can be applied to any group of people regardless of origin.

                Sure, and I understand this. And I see it as an idea that arises in certain declarations of understanding that touch on anthropology. And I choose to resist this ‘universalism’. It is this ‘universalism’ that is vague and effete (in my view).

                2) Functional definitions are infinitely more useful than ones based on “Europeanness” or other vague, ineffable terms.

                It is an error of understanding for you to designate ‘Europeanness’ as vague or ineffable. However, it is not wrong to refer to Europeans, or European nations, as surrounding or revolving around a specific core which has both to do with tangible idea and intangible idea.

                If you understood Europe better, you would better understand why I use the term. Relatedly, if you understood how it has come about that Europe has a daggar lodged in its chest, which is to say a mortal wound, you would better understand why reviving the definitions that support the term is not only important but crucial.

                My difficulty in communicating this basic and central idea is that the *audience* has been conditioned to shudder in moral horror when the recovery of self-definition and self-empowerment is broached.

                But the daggar — still — must be removed and the wound must heal.

                • Could have sworn dagger had 2 ‘a’s …

                • “However, it is not wrong to refer to Europeans, or European nations, as surrounding or revolving around a specific core which has both to do with tangible idea and intangible idea. … If you understood Europe better, you would better understand why I use the term. …you would better understand why reviving the definitions that support the term is not only important but crucial.”

                  Sorry, what was that about “vague and effete”?

                  I’m an Eldritch Abomination from Outside Dimensions. I don’t shudder in moral horror of anything. Other people shudder in moral horror of me. I just pity fools. Your difficulty in conveying this basic and central idea to me is simply that you either have no concept of what you’re talking about, or, more likely, you have no way to translate it to concepts that have functional meaning rather than purely aesthetic meaning.

                  I understand the whole self-definition thing. I think it’s not a bad idea; people should be able to form cultural groups and identities. It makes society stronger to have people who understand each other working together. We have different pictures of how those cultural groups are defined and how they should be able to interact with each other, but I can’t pass judgment on your ideas until I understand what they actually are.

                  What are these definitions you’re trying to revive? If you can’t define them functionally, you can define them by example. What are some historical figures representing Europe? Some works of fiction? Some notable events?

                  • What are these definitions you’re trying to revive? If you can’t define them functionally, you can define them by example. What are some historical figures representing Europe? Some works of fiction? Some notable events?

                    You are asking me to present to you in some encapsuled form what is not possible to express in such reduced form. I can refer you to sources though. If you are interested in gaining a sense of ‘Europe’ as both physical accomplishment and idea complex I would recommend any of the works by Christopher Dawson: ‘Understanding Europe’, ‘The Making of Europe’.

                    In a very abbreviated and clipped form, but very well expressed, I would refer you to Waldo Frank’s ‘The Re-Discovery of America’ (1929) He defines ‘the Eurpean cradle’ as an amalgamation between ‘Greece, Rome, Judea and Alexandria’, Alexandria being, of course, the place where a ‘chaos of ideas’ melded together. It is that ‘Europe’ which was both imposed on the northern barbarians, and that which they picked up, as it were, and put to use. ‘Our World’ is as a result of imposition and grabbing and molding what was imposed.

                    I highly recommend Werner Jaeger’s ‘Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture (3 volumes, 1944. Volume 1: Archaic Greece, The Mind of Athens; volume 2: In Search of the Divine Center; and Volume 3: The Conflict of Cultural Ideas in the Age of Plato).

                    One awesome and amazing book is really an equally amazing series of essays on various topics that pertain to Christian thought: ‘The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought: Intellectual, Spiritual, and Moral Horizons of Christianity’. It is a giant book, formatted like an encyclopedia, and offers essays by different writers and theologians on various topics. When one understand how incredibly profoundly Christian terms and ideas have entered our ‘reality’ and our language (our very definitions at the most basic level) one will have gained some platform for underatanding what ‘Europe’ means in this sense, and what must be understood and preserved.

                    Another work that influenced my thinking is ‘The Legacy of Greece (1921, edited by RW Livingstone). It has essays by various authors on topics such as: The value of Greece to the future of the world, Religion, Philosophy, Mathematics and Astronomy, Natural science, Biology, Medicine, Literature, History, Political thought, The lamps of Greek art, Architecture.

                    Other works very relevant to undertanding *things* (in my own case) have been: 1) The Elizabethan World Picture by EMW Tillyard (anything written by this man is amazing), 2) The Great Chain of Being by Arthur O. Lovejoy, 3) Elizabethan Psychology and Shakespeare’s Plays, 4) Shakespeare in the Light of Sacred Art.

                    Finally, one of my favorites: The Seventeenth Century Background by Basil Willey.

                    To say ‘works of fiction, historical figures, notable events’ does not in any sense get close to the ‘core’. You are dealing in total superficialities. You cannot see what is being referred to because you lack any of the necessary backgrounding and appreciation of the concepts with which to *see*. Further argument for therefor and a further example of a nescient condition!

                    Sign up for my 10 week internet course! It is changing lives! I offer a steep discount to those creatures who can prove they have no skeleton …

      • What are those three groups, and how do you define their cultures? And why do you feel it’s useful to limit it to just three and exclude all the other distinct cultures?

        Well, certainly I am trying to (pretentiously of course!) include a Tocquevillian-type analysis. He wrote on the Three Races in America. Having read Tocqueville, I certainly understand what he is talking about. And though he spoke in another temporal modality nevertheless what he said had relevance then and came from ‘clear seeing’. Now, things have progressed, but plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. These are ideas that turn on causality.

        For you to understand Mesoamerican (Central American and Mexican) culture you will have to look into it. I have lived in Mexico and Panama and have friends in both places. The thing is you do not have the slightest idea! And I have no difficulty at all seeing what is obvious. There is a Mesoamerican people, they can be defined generally as ‘a people’ with similar origins, set in motion by certain historical forces.

        That there is a very large Mesoamerican (Mexican primarily) population or enclave within the US. To understand ‘who they are’ and ‘what they are doing there’, you’d have to make the effrto to see. Except only if one could actually see them in real terms. You cannot see them in any terms at all. You have no terms.

        I have certain terms. I can tell you what those terms are. I del in those terms all the time. Those terms are my work. I desire to accomplish certain things through my terms. I desire to define difference, degree priority and place.

        You are an American. You are involved though you cannot see it and understand why, in certain ‘projects’ that have to do with breaking down of definitions. These are outcomes of historical movements that push you along and yet of which you have no consciousness. Your ‘project’ continues in time and through time, destroying hierarches and divisions, rendering all to monochrome sameness. But also tou chaos out of which conflict arises.

        I am defining a metaphysical position that is opposed no only to ‘americanism’ as an unconscious nihilism, but am working to define sound metaphysical structures, and on these to set ethical principles.

        I come face-to-face with this (if I may repeat the term) American nihilism and it pushes me back onto and into myself where I am forced to define my terms.

        Thank you! 😉

  8. Mrs. Q

    Far from this information being new, black conservatives for years have discussed this very topic only to be labeled traitors and Uncle Tom’s for doing so, often by white liberals. Shelby Steele, George Schuyler, Marc Lamont Hill, and many others have been outright dismissed or smeared in their attempts to get the message out that (white) liberal social policies and the welfare state are hurting blacks for more than helping. To allude to the anti-discernment, infantilizing policies of the Great Society, subsidized housing (which are often ghettos), affirmative action, welfare, etc, as potentially making things worse for minorities is to be a heretic and worse… ungrateful for all “they” have done for us.

    At our local bookstore Burgess Owens books were shelved in the Fascism section. Yup, a black questioning communism and public assistance is apparently a straight up fascist. Is it any wonder that blacks trying to make something of themselves and encouraging others to do the same is barely heard? Look at a recent example when sports commentator Sage Steele pointed out that a protest over immigration at an airport was actually blocking immigrants from getting home. She lost her job, had her life threatened, and was called often (again mostly by white liberals) traitor. How can blacks be a part of a good conversation about self sufficiency and public policy if any and every thing said that doesn’t tow the leftist line is traitorous?

    Living in Portland where white ladies can’t have a burrito cart and celebrating Black History month entails seeing a movie where blacks are depicted in animal costumes (including gorillas and men barking like dogs – I mean hello!) I can attest to the liberal racism that drips with condescension here. The number of times I’ve talked with white liberals here where they have pointed out my skin color and wanted my perspective ONLY from that POV is astounding. Only when I speak with people of color or moderates or conservatives are my views not required to be race based. Sure it seems the west coast is less racist, but I’d take a bigot who was honest off the bat to the insidious smug liberalism that serves to keep blacks/minorities who think for themselves, in line.

    Yes things are worse for blacks and one too many have believed in the salvation of modern (Marxist) liberalism to their own and their communities detriment. If blacks want to truly be “woke” they will have to stop towing democrat party lines and look to those blacks brave enough to say “do for yourself, think for yourself, and stop letting pandering be a substitute for actual justice.” Black empowerment doesn’t come from a handout based on pity and white guilt. It comes from questioning those who seek to keep us in ghettos, on welfare, and full of grievances towards so-called conservative white oppressors. We need to stop being socialist tinged guard dogs certain liberals want us to be to serve their agendas. We need to get busy opening businesses, raising healthy kids, and most importantly, living our own lines.

    • COTD. You can just whip these off any time you want to, can’t you?

      • dragin_dragon

        She’s a DAMN smart lady.

      • Mrs. Q

        As always thank you. Will you correct the following typo…?

        “Shelby Steele, George Schuyler, Marc Lamont Hill, and many others have been outright dismissed or smeared in their attempts to get the message out that (white) liberal social policies and the welfare state are hurting blacks for more than helping. ”

        It should say far not for in the last line. Many thanks.

    • Mrs Q writes: “At our local bookstore Burgess Owens books were shelved in the Fascism section.”

      Who else did they put in that section? And from that section where do they go next? Demonology? 😉

        • I have numerous questions I would like to ask you related to what you wrote in your post. Not sure if they can be called hard … but I hope they are neither too easy. May I?

          • Mrs. Q

            Oh brother…I suppose but I have family in town from the rez and may only be able to respond partially or distractedly. If it were up to me, you and I would meet for tea and/or horseradish vodka & discuss it all, as I see a few things we may surprisingly have in common.

            • I didn’t know there was a Czech rez up there in the Pacific NW. There is plenty of time though … later when your COTD goes up.

              • Mrs. Q

                My wife’s family comes from the Umatilla rez to PDX monthly. My niece and nephew run us ragged.

                • dragin_dragon

                  Just idle curiosity, where is the Umtilla rez? I used to live in Rough Rock on the Navajo, then moved to Kykotsmovi on the Hopi. After two years, I came back to Texas, and stayed.

                  • Mrs. Q

                    It’s in Eastern Oregon near Walla Walla Washington. My wife’s family once visited the Navaho rez when she was a teen & said the grocery stores played pow wow jams and folks spoke their language on the intercom. She also said it was pretty janky then. Do you know if it’s improved?

                    I’ve been to San Antonio but we want to visit Houston to visit Michael Berry’s Red Neck Country club. Do you like Texas?

  9. Steve

    The fix is simple, but as with most simple things it is hard.

    Single parenting isn’t heroic, it is not affective and should be stigmatized.

    Having children out of wedlock should be stigmatized.

    Not completing high school should be stigmatized.

    Being a criminal should be stigmatized.

    Living on welfare should be stigmatized.

    Our harshest criticism as a society should be reserved for those who do not put thier children first. A two parent household generally provides more stability for children, they have much higher expected outcomes. The children trend to follow in thier parents footsteps, they marry, have children and raise thier children the same. The reverse for single parents is true and is detrimental to or society generally and to African Americans specifically.

    A liberal society can be an extremely healthy one so long as balance can be stuck, lines not crossed. A two parent household is the gold standard, it is required for a healthy society and economy.

    Simple but hard, we have “progressed” so far beyond this ideal that it is unlikely that we can find our way back.

    • Other Bill

      Steve, your approach, ironically, to say the least, is now deemed to be the problem, not the solution. Everything you propose is deemed racist because you’re asking poor black people to change their behavior. That’s deemed racist. To denigrate single mothers or criminals or high school drop outs or welfare recipients is simply unacceptable because it’s deemed racist because it relates to poor black people. All the behaviors you mention are now deemed beyond reproach, because they’re black behaviors. You can’t do that.This is the sort of insanity I’m talking about.

  10. WAHJR

    In my opinion, the core problem of this entire issue has been the obliteration of the family unit within the Black Community. The elevation of single motherhood as something close to sainthood has been a complete and total disaster. The recipe for a civil and thriving society has building blocks or ingredients on which it is built no matter what color one is or what goals a group wishes to achieve. Arguably the most important ingredient is the nuclear family, which is all but absent and certainly the minority within the Black community. We can throw all the money, time, effort that we can muster into this failed dish, but it is not ever going to resemble or taste anything like a civil functioning society until we stop using the recipe for scrambled eggs. Furthermore, this isn’t just a problem in the Black community. The numbers for single motherhood are rising rapidly in the White community also. If we think somehow we will escape the same fate, I think we will be sorely mistaken. We would be smart as a country to reverse this destructive trend wherever it exists. Single motherhood is not cool. It’s not sweet or cute. It’s failed model that needs to go the way of the dinosaur before it destroys us all.

    • Other Bill

      Jr, see my comment to Steve above.

      • My comments may be deemed racist in this twisted world in which we live, but that was not my intention. However, there are worst things than being called a racist. Oblivious and ignorant of the truth would be two of them. Racist or not they can either read the writing on the wall or literally indiscriminately screw themselves back into the third world. I don’t make the news. I just report it.

    • “The elevation of single motherhood as something close to sainthood has been a complete and total disaster”

      But, but, but, but, but, but, that would cast a certain gloom over the…um…groundbreaking MTV series “Sixteen and Pregnant,” wouldn’t it?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16_and_Pregnant

    • And there are exceptions to every rule. My late father was very defensive on the matter of single mothers, because his own mother, abandoned by her husband for his younger secretary in the middle of the Great Depression, leaving my grandmother in abject poverty with a young son (my dad), was apparently remarkable. She raised an astoundingly motivated, moral and ethical man, who himself was a remarkable parent as well as a decorated war hero, a Harvard grad, a lawyer, an entrepreneur, a elected municipal official, and the most memorable human being I’ve ever known.

      • Steve

        Jack you’re correct that there are exceptions but because of these exceptions we have destigmatized these conditions and actions. It is inarguably ethical treatment but it has lead to an intolerable situation.

        • That’s pretty much what I told Dad. He wasn’t rational on the topic.

          • I should have prefaced my comment with “there are exceptions to every rule,” but I kind of assumed within this group those types of statements were a “given.” Of course, there are men and women who find themselves as single parents through the varying circumstances of life. I certainly wasn’t trying to demean the widowed or those forced into single parenthood through no fault of there own. My heart goes out to those people, and they deserve all the support society can give them. Thanks for allowing me to clarify my generalized statement.

      • My great grandmother was a single mom during the depression… with 5 kids. Her husband died, and she took up the slack. But not by herself: the kids, the church, and the community all had a part. Her kids were all successful in life, living the American dream as the Greatest Generation

        Why was she successful? Society had rules, guidelines, expectations, and self discipline. These made an impossible task very hard, but doable.

        We have lost that support system.

        • Paul W. Schlecht

          ”These made an impossible task very hard, but doable.”

          Born in 1900, my maternal Grandfather was 11 when his Father died from an infection after being cut while slaughtering a hog.

          My Great Grandmother did what she could to scratch out a living in rural Mercer County KY an keep a family of 8 together.

          Three years later my Grandfather heard her whispering to neighbors that she might get more help without an able-bodied young man around; at 14 you were considered ”able-bodied!”

          Sheesh, when I was that age my biggest challenge was getting my papers delivered so I could walk half a mile to catch a ride and be ready to hit the gym floor to play morning basketball @7:00 a.m.

          Anywho, shortly thereafter, he, a Stuttered Speech Syndrome sufferer, lit off for Milwaukee where he’d read there was a Stammering School that guaranteed results.

          “We have lost that support system.”

          I think it’s been “replaced” with victimology, finger-pointing, entitlement, and blame-gaming; not for the better.

          Dr. Thomas Sowell (?) says the “safety net” has become a “comfortable hammock.”

  11. I don’t know about solutions. I think, though, that some voluntary help can be useful. People of means will literally have to “adopt” struggling families, helping with everything from how to study effectively to going to see a lawyer if a kid gets into trouble. And people of means will have to commit to share their financial resources, including a portion of the wealth they were planning to pass on to their own children.

    To inspire enough of these voluntary acts to be effective across the culture, an ethic will have to be developed and spread. The birth and spread of this ethic is the immediate goal to be sought.

  12. adimagejim

    As I have stated here before, the War on Poverty was actually a cynical economic policy to create permanently dependent poverty and a demographic bulwark against societal progress predicated on moderately regulated capitalism. In short, socialized democracy versus regulated capitalism.

    Opportunities for wealth no longer came from hard work and binding together as family, it came in a check from the government for your incentivized single parenthood.

    The GINI coefficient for wealth distribution tells the same story. Household income inequality rises dramatically post 1964. Individual income inequality has changed very little since the 1950s. The War on Poverty created more smaller households with significantly less income. Therefore, the two lower quintiles are populated with poorer households.

  13. Michael R.

    There is a serious flaw in this entire post. You wrote at the end “There has to be a solution”. You are assuming the current state isn’t the desired one. You have assumed that everything you have noted indicates failure of the policies. What if you are wrong and these are actually the point of these policies? If you look at it from that point of view, the Democratic party has had a perfectly consistent policy towards black Americans since before the 1860’s. What has changed is the Communistic attempt to eradicate freedom and Western civilization from the face of the earth. They now seem to want to control all Americans the way they have controlled black Americans. Right now, perhaps 52 percent of Americans receive public assistance. This creates the perfect situation, where the majority can vote to steal all the money from the minority resulting in the collapse of democracy and the rise of the all-powerful state. Remember, the definition of a slave under the Confederacy was essentially the same as the definition of a citizen in the Soviet Union.

  14. I missed this when it first posted…

    I wonder, not perhaps as a first or second take on this, but perhaps a distant third, if these numbers aren’t skewed as a function of how averages work…

    Median, Mean and Mode.

    With a dataset of:

    $1, $1, $1, $1, $2, $5, $6, $10, $20, $100, $1000000

    The Median, or average, is $90,922
    The Mean, or “middle” number is $5
    And the Mode, or most common number is $1

    When you compare “white” people to other ethnic groups, you include a super-rich strata of billionaires that skew the average in a way that I believe disproportionately misrepresents “white” people as a whole. My life is not materially bettered by sharing a skintone with Warren buffet, but if all you look at is skin tone and wealth, my skin tone’s average earnings HAS to be skewed by him, and people like him.

    I wonder however, how different the Mean or Mode earnings of my skin tone match up against other skin tones. That white people do better is a given… The incarceration and graduation rates basically guarantee that, but is the Mean earnings or wealth of white people really increasing disproportionately to that of other ethnic groups, or is it just lost in the noise of billionaires adding to their bottom lines?

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