Ethics Hero: Andrew Sullivan

Once again, Ethics Alarms is honoring Andrew Sullivan for unusual courage in the field of punditry. In this case, the honor is less for what he has written than the fact that he wrote it at all.

His general topic is genetic research, taking off from a recent op-ed appeared in the New York Times by Professor David Reich, a  Harvard geneticist, which broached the virtually taboo topic genetic variations between subpopulations of humans, that is to say, races. On the way through Sullivan’s essay, called “Denying Genetics Isn’t Shutting Down Racism, It’s Fueling It,” Sullivan makes many perceptive observations, like…

“This argument should not be so controversial — every species is subject to these variations — and yet it is. For many on the academic and journalistic left, genetics are deemed largely irrelevant when it comes to humans. Our large brains and the societies we have constructed with them, many argue, swamp almost all genetic influences.

Humans, in this view, are the only species on Earth largely unaffected by recent (or ancient) evolution, the only species where, for example, the natural division of labor between male and female has no salience at all, the only species, in fact, where natural variations are almost entirely social constructions, subject to reinvention. We are, in this worldview, alone on the planet, born as blank slates, to be written on solely by culture. All differences between men and women are a function of this social effect; as are all differences between the races. If, in the aggregate, any differences in outcome between groups emerge, it is entirely because of oppression, patriarchy, white supremacy, etc. And it is a matter of great urgency that we use whatever power we have to combat these inequalities.”

Agreed, and stipulated: the progressive position on this aspect of science is, as in so many other areas, a deliberate refusal to deal with reality in order that ideological goals may proceed.

More from Sullivan later in his piece…

“Reich simply points out that this utopian fiction is in danger of collapse because it is not true and because genetic research is increasingly proving it untrue….The danger in actively suppressing and stigmatizing this inconvenient truth, he maintains, is that a responsible treatment of these genetic influences will be siloed in the academic field of genetics, will be rendered too toxic for public debate, and will thereby only leak out to people in the outside world via the worst kind of racists and bigots who will distort these truths to their own ends. If you don’t establish a reasonable forum for debate on this, Reich argues, if you don’t establish the principle is that we do not have to be afraid of any of this, it will be monopolized by truly unreasonable and indeed dangerous racists. And those racists will have the added prestige for their followers of revealing forbidden knowledge. And so there are two arguments against the suppression of this truth and the stigmatization of its defenders: that it’s intellectually dishonest and politically counterproductive.”

I am not sure that Sullivan or Reich are correct about all of this. One reason I have been more cowardly than Sullivan, for I have thought about writing a similar essay many times, is that I don’t believe that humanity is capable of dealing with this subject rationally, and in particular, the Right is not. I believe that if it were conclusively shown and agreed that there were broad, identifiable and significant differences in intellectual ability among races, it could only be used to advance racist ends. What else? My position is that such group differences, even if absolutely undeniable, have no positive policy or ethical uses whatsoever in the United States of America. Every individual has an absolute right to be judged on “the content of his character” as well his or her other abilities, talents and achievements. That any individual is the member of a sub-population that as a group may have advantages or deficits over other such groups seems completely irrelevant.

Apparently my position is similar to that of, of all people, Vox editor and the epitome of a left-biased journalist, Ezra Klein. Writes Sullivan:

“My own brilliant conclusion: Group differences in IQ are indeed explicable through both environmental and genetic factors and we don’t yet know quite what the balance is. My assumption, in other words, is not Klein’s. I assume that this is an open question. Klein wants us to assume it’s closed. I can see why Klein takes this position. He is worried that raising genetics in this context will lead to too much fatalism, will sap the energy and focus needed to change what we can indeed change, and there is so much to do on that score that it’s better to insist that genes play no part.”

I don’t insist that genes play no part; I just don’t care if they do, and would prefer not to think about it. It’s a bit like finding out that the world will end tomorrow. Sullivan is more optimistic, or perhaps naive:

“…if we assume genetics play no role, and base our policy prescriptions on something untrue, we are likely to overshoot and over-promise in social policy, and see our rhetoric on race become ever more extreme and divisive. We may even embrace racial discrimination, as in affirmative action, that fuels deeper divides. All of which, it seems to me, is happening — and actively hampering racial progress, as the left defines the most multiracial and multicultural society in human history as simply “white supremacy” unchanged since slavery; and as the right viscerally responds by embracing increasingly racist white identity politics. A more nuanced understanding of race, genetics, and environment would temper this polarization, and allow for more unifying, practical efforts to improve equality of opportunity, while never guaranteeing or expecting equality of outcomes.”

All right then, naive. I don’t think the Left’s position regarding “racial discrimination, as in affirmative action, that fuels deeper divides’  would be affected in any way by definitive studies on genetic difference among the races. Look at the Left’s cant regarding gender, or physical handicaps. It asserts that acknowledging that women are, as a group, smaller and weaker is just male dominated culture discrimination, requiring special privileges as compensation. It asserts that the effects of observable, undeniable physical limitations must be spoken of and treated as if they are not limitations at all.

More Sullivan:

“In some ways, this is just a replay of the broader liberal-conservative argument. Leftists tend to believe that all inequality is created; liberals tend to believe we can constantly improve the world in every generation, forever perfecting our societies. Rightists believe that human nature is utterly unchanging; conservatives tend to see the world as less plastic than liberals, and attempts to remake it wholesale dangerous and often counterproductive. I think of myself as moderately conservative. It’s both undeniable to me that much human progress has occurred, especially on race, gender, and sexual orientation; and yet I’m suspicious of the idea that our core nature can be remade or denied. I completely respect the role of liberals in countering this. It’s their role. I think the genius of the West lies in having all these strands in our politics competing with one another.”

There is much more. Read all of it. This is an excellent example of what ethical opinion writing can do: open up a topic for enlightened consideration rather than trying to close it down with indestructible arguments and certitude.

Now watch him get called a racist.

36 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Race, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

36 responses to “Ethics Hero: Andrew Sullivan

  1. charlesgreen

    Jack, this is an excellent, balanced, thought-provoking piece. Your own contribution to it is also meaningful, you’re doing more here than citing interesting pieces. Thank you.

  2. “One reason I have been more cowardly than Sullivan, for I have thought about writing a similar essay many times, is that I don’t believe that humanity is capable of dealing with this subject rationally, and in particular, the Right is not.”

    How so, in particular?

    I think there are egregious racists on both sides of the aisle that will not be capable of dealing with this subject rationally. What in particular makes individual members of the Right more so incapable?

    I would submit that the side of the aisle that is neurotically interested in dividing us by ethnic group and expecting us to behave according to interests supposedly aligned with those ethnicities would have a vastly harder time handling this topic and anyone else.

    And that side of the aisle is definitely NOT the right wing…

    • What in particular makes individual members of the Right more so incapable?

      Ooooo Ooooo pick me! pick me! I got the answer!

      Genetics! huh? huh? right?
      /snark

    • Chris

      • Huh? What’s the context. Her comment doesn’t even seem to address the video.

        This is a problem with using a tweet as a “proof text” of whatever it is you are trying to prove.

        You’re going to need to do some explaining here.

        • Chris

          I’m not sure what additional context you need. The text of her comment is prima facie racism.

          • The text of her comment is prima facie gibberish.

            There is no coherent way to interpret that tweet with no other context.

            • Chris

              No, you are dodging the clear meaning of her words so that you can keep pretending the left is more racist than the right.

              • No … her tweet is gibberish.

                And you can take back that last bit of your sentence. I have not asserted the left is more racist than the right (nor have I asserted vice versa). I am concerned that the left is less capable of discussing the topic because many of it’s policies and methods and worldview divides people by race therefore hiding any internal racism particular members of the left may personally have.

                Go back and re-read.

                • Chris

                  The Coulter tweet I showed you clearly divides people by race, tex. What do you think it meant? She was mocking Rubio’s Cuban heritage as well as the heritage of the questioner and the African-American officer Rubio described, and suggested that immigrants like Rubio’s parents are “replacing whites.” Fear of immigrants replacing whites is a common theme for Coulter, but you don’t need to know that in order to understand the clear meaning of her tweet. It fits your initial description of the left–“neurotically interested in dividing us by ethnic group and expecting us to behave according to interests supposedly aligned with those ethnicities”–to a tee.

                  If that isn’t the meaning of the tweet, then what do you think it means? Give me an alternate interpretation. “I don’t know what it means” is not an answer. You should know. It’s obvious.

                  And if you can’t even bring yourself to admit that Coulter and King are racist…then it looks a lot like you can’t bring yourself to see any racists on the right at all.

                  • Wait, I dozed off: are people really arguing about Coulter as if anything she says is serious, sincere, or more worthy of comment than the idiocy spouted by Jimmy Kimmel, Robert DeNiro, Milo, Ted Nugent or Kathy Griffin? For God’s sake why, when there are sock drawers to organize?

                    • Chris

                      At one time in the recent past she was a fairly influential conservative pundit. Like Rush Limbaugh, her star has fallen in recent years as actual politicians have adopted their extreme rhetoric, thus making them irrelevant: their job was to say the unserious shit that politicians couldn’t say. But now we have Trump, so the base doesn’t need them. She might be saying more and more racist things simply because that’s the only way she can get any attention, but that doesn’t make her racist comments any less racist.

                    • No, Chris. Like Rush, she was always an entertainer, and in her case, a partisan pulp author and a professional troll.

                    • Chris

                      I’m not sure how that’s mutually exclusive to what I said. Is the word “pundit” connoting more seriousness than you think she deserves? It doesn’t connote that in my mind.

                      And her relevance only matters if you concede that what she wrote was racist (or at least race-obsessed)…which Michael doesn’t. I can accept “Ann Coulter’s racism is irrelevant because she represents no significant portion of conservatives any more” as a rebuttal to my original comment…but I can’t accept “Derr, what’s racist about saying immigrants are replacing white people and bringing up Rubio’s ethnicity all the time?” because that’s deliberately obtuse.

                      And I see no reason to believe Coulter isn’t serious about her embrace of the alt-right’s obsession with racial demographics. It’s a strong enough theme in her writing over the past few years that just calling her a troll isn’t enough; she is a *racist* troll. She’s been very clear in the past that her defining issue is the wall precisely *because* she wants to keep America a majority-white country. Michael is correct that anti-immigration sentiment isn’t necessarily based on racial animus, but that’s besides the point: for Coulter and King, their anti-immigrant sentiment *is* based on racial animus, and they have proven that with their own statements.

                      I’ll call Rush a racist too. He said Obamacare was reparations, among many other bizarrely dumb racially-tinged comments.

                    • Rush is not a racist. There were black activists who characterized Obamacare that way, and perhaps even believed it. It was not racist or far-fetched to regard some of the Obama administration as designed as”payback.” If Rush used that description, it was hyperbole. The main distinction between Rush and Coulter is that Coulter is just selling books and controversy, and and her real beliefs are irrelevant. She’s at least officially a xenophobe, like Pat Buchanan. That doesn’t make her a racist. That doesn’t mean that opposing illegal immigration is xenophobic or racist; it means that Ann’s reason for opposing it—that America needs to stay white and Anglo—is xenophobic. The ethical reason to oppose illegal immigration is that it’s illegal.

                    • Chris

                      I think you’re far too kind to Rush.

                      Believing America should stay white is racist, not just xenophobic. Mocking Rubio’s Cuban heritage and the races of the questioner in that video and Rubio’s black friend is racist.

                  • I’m not analyzing, or responding to any of this. First reading shows you didn’t take back your mis-characterization of my first post.

                    Whether or not this long response has any accuracy or inaccuracy is immaterial until you go back, re-read, and admit I’m not saying what you claim I’m saying.

                    Have a good evening.

                    • Chris

                      It wasn’t a mischaracerization. Your intent, though different from Coulter’s, is just as clear as hers: to deny racism on the right.

                    • Have a good evening. I’m not going to repeat the plain words of my first comment which clearly acknowledge racism on both sides.

                      You aren’t pushing dishonesty now are you?

    • Chris

      • This is racist?

        Culture and demographics ARE destiny.

        It’s an easy math problem.

        If we aren’t making new *cultural* Americans at a rate faster than we are accepting people who are not becoming *cultural* Americans we lose America.

        There is no refuting this math.

        You can quibble as much as you want about the significance of the two terms in the math problem and what their actual numbers are…but that math problem cannot be denied.

        I don’t see how King’s comment even touches on race.

        Again, this is the problem with relying on a tweet as a proof text of whatever it is you are trying to prove…what’s the context?

        • Chris

          This is moronic, and you are smarter than this. When King says “somebody else’s babies,” he means Mexicans. He is talking about the need to raise the white birth rate, a common white nationalist talking point. This isn’t subtle. It isn’t even obscure any more. You are engaging in willful denial of reality.

          • So you are adding meaning to his words.

            I don’t think we can have a good faith discussion about his comment if you are going to add meaning to his words that aren’t there, let alone a good faith discussion about what his tweet has to do with my original comment.

            Try some other tack to reach whatever objective you were trying to reach when you responded with tweets to my original comment. Otherwise I have no idea what it is you are trying to do here.

            • Chris

              I am not “adding meaning to his words,” I am telling you what his words meant, and what plenty of people knew his words meant. His citation of Wilders makes it even more obvious. You’re being deliberately obtuse.

              https://reason.com/blog/2013/07/26/rep-steve-king-r-iowa-makes-me-ashamed-t

              • Oh I get it. The tired assertion that being anti-immigrant is automatically racist.

                Reason doesn’t like his comments because he’s anti-immigrant and, as Libertarians, want a more liberalized immigration policy.

                I’ve yet to see a single rational argument that links anti-immigration necessarily to racism. Some may be anti-immigrant as part of a broader racist component of their worldview. Some may be anti-immigrant for a variety of other reasons.

                Until you can make the link between his angry anti-immigration policies and race, I’m not convinced other than “oh come on…we all know being anti-immigration is racist”.

                • Chris

                  What do you think “demographics” means, tex? It means racial demographics. Babies aren’t immigrants; he’s talking about babies born to immigrants. That is about race. A quick Google search would also quickly make you aware of his other racist comments. You don’t remember the “sub-groups” kerfuffle?

                  • I’m not analyzing, or responding to any of this. First reading shows you didn’t take back your mis-characterization of my first post.

                    Whether or not this long response has any accuracy or inaccuracy is immaterial until you go back, re-read, and admit I’m not saying what you claim I’m saying.

                    Have a good evening.

  3. I wish I had time to really launch into my thoughts on the matter. Instead, I’m going to sum up in a handful of points. Again, keep in mind this is my personal opinion, not necessarily backed in any way by the most recent developments in science or philosophy.

    1. Our genetics are very deterministic in who and what we are and what we can be. Our DNA determines we are human, determine our eye, hair, skin color, our sex, and so on.

    2. Our genetics provide the mold in which we can be shaped. Our environment, upbringing, personal decisions, and so on, then fill that mold in a variety of directions. For example, I may not have the genetic make-up that would let me become an Olympic-level runner, but I can work my tail off to improve my time to something respectable. But while I’m doing that, I might also be neglecting other areas that I could develop. Or in developing other areas, I can’t quite improve my time beyond mediocre.

    3. The potential provided in that genetic mold is vast, most likely vaster than we want to acknowledge. Thus it may be there’s a genetic difference on IQ caps between subgroups of humans, but I’d be willing to wager that those caps are far higher than the IQ we ever achieve in our lives (save for rare individuals like the late, great Stephen Hawking).

    My conclusion is that we shouldn’t have anything to fear from research that shows the vast array of genetic varieties in our species. Part of that confidence is rooted in my belief that we’ll never plumb the depths of our potential, and that the study of genetics will only reveal that our ability to develop in myriad ways is astonishing.

    • Well stated.

      On point 3- I think this is key. By analogy, let’s say we’re all dealt 5 cards in life and the more Aces and Kings you hold the more successful you’ll be. If it turns out our genetic differences mean that person X is dealt three Kings, a 10, and a 2 and person Y is dealt two Aces, a King, a 10 and a 2, both people have excellent potential to play their “hand” quite well for themselves even if person B has a slightly better hand.

      I think the hang up is that some people are afraid that the genetic lottery is closer to person X being dealt a Jack, three 7s, and a 3 while person Y is dealt five Aces. OR that person Y, may have a bum hand like person X, but that person Y is born into a really nice family and can trade in some of his crappy cards for a better hand.

      OR that even if person X has only ONE card less awesome than person Y…the system will reward person Y the lion share of success leaving a reasonably well endowed person X with zilch for their value.

      My gut instinct is that, if you wanted to run the stats on say “intelligience”, that between two “sub-groups” plotted on a graph, even if the peaks in the bell curves are a few levels apart from each other…the vast majority of the bell curves overlap…meaning there’s no *real* difference.

  4. I read Sullivan’s piece. Poor child, he is terribly confused. He seems able to recognize the ‘truthful facts’ about the question of difference (and these differences operate in all domains not just the physical and genetic), but he shows himself as a coerced victim of the established ideological orthodoxy that dominates the present. In fact, to think in the terms he recognizes as being the correct ones (that have substance behind them) has come to be seen as a form of evilness, and the ‘progressive left’ has been at the forefront of this campaign of intolerance and something quite close to hatred.

    The Left in America and in Europe represents a coercive, violent, intellectually destructive regime which itself is built upon groupd of lies. It attacks those who desire to see and state the truth, or at least be able to approach that, and it does this through enforcing lies.

    No one is talking about the progressive regime and its deleterious effects on upstanding liberalism (there is such a thing), and no one is speaking about the larger implications of a regime of liars and of lies upon which a great deal of hyper-liberalism has been constructed. And no one is speaking about what this regime will do to protects its position and what additional harms it will do to people who desire to get out from under it!

    Sullivan says he knows Murray and Klien and he writes that ‘None has a racist agenda’. But wait. What is a ‘racist agenda’? In fact it is the progressive left that has had and still has an ‘agenda’ which is really quite significant and troubling, but even the ‘modernate conservative’ (::: Laughs :::) Sullivan will not go so far as to point out destructive agenda of a progressive establishment which manipulates people and culture to conform to its false ideas and its falsely-based conclusions. These conclusions are enforced and those who do not conform are hurt. No one is talking about 60+ years of social engineering that has been carried out by people with agendas that look like crypto-communism. Especially in the domain of education and paideia.

    Sullivan points out that Klien refers to those who have been thinking in clear and honest terms about difference are peddling in ‘pseudoscientific racialist speculation’, except — lo and behold! — it is the progressive left regime that is dealing in pseudoscience! This is what Sullivan is bringing out and what David Reich is presenting and alluding to: that there is a real scientific basis to differences and these are not pseudoscienfitic racist lies.

    Sullivan’s article — I understand this — is terribly cautious in being sure that it asserts nothing at all. He bows down to the progressive monuments and kisses their holy feet all very appropriately.

    The interesting thing is that not only does leftist-progressivism put forward false doctrines in regard to race differences, but it does this also in respect to gender differences. But it does not stop there. But within just these two categories the entire established, pseudoscientific, coerced, engineered regime of the present — our present in which we all participate — has been established.

    Obviously this would indicate that in substantial ways thie regime and our present has been constructed on a false foundation, and false foundations have a tendency not to carry the load of the edifice. The cracks are appearing, and the edifice teeters … and still people will rush forward to patch things up with other lies and sophistries.

    When Jack says ‘I do not believe that humanity is capable of dealing with the subject rationally’, I would retort by saying that American does not and cannot speak for humanity, a rather large category! Within Americanism and within the Americanopolis, I grant, the truth will be suppressed because the construct is (by definition) arbitrary and idealistic, not realist. But I would suggest that humanity is duty-bound to understand difference and to coherently take difference into account. The ‘racist ends’ that Jack speaks about must be countered by just the progressive policies, founded upon lies and pseudoscience, that dominate the present and the regime of thought.

    If ‘My position is such that group differences, even if absolutely undeniable, have no positive policy or ethical uses whatever in the United States of America’, one’s only choice is to work with progressive leftist social manipulators to see that the truth does not get out.

    After almost 3 years dealing with the hatred cast in my direction simply for desiring to state the truth about differences (my arguments extend far FAR beyond mere genetics) and suffering at *your* hands, I now find that *you* are simply wrapped up in lies and that you have no choice but to coerce me to accept your foundational lies. All this I saw from the beginning and all this I have spoken of throughout. *You* suffer under the intelectual regime of the present and by doing so you acqueice to tremendous harm being done, in many different ways, to the social body of Europe and Europe’s colonies.

    The beginning — the very beginning! — of the process of telling the truth involves seeing the truth first. You have to break through a whole array, a fantastic array. Of barriers even to get to the first statement. Amazing!

  5. Genetics apply not just to race, but to gender. There are differences in brain make up, in physical ability, and in worldview that are all determined by genetics. There are outliers: any one woman can be stronger than any one man, for instance, but on the whole men have greater physical strength. This is not good or bad: it just is.

    One’s gender (determined by genetics) colors worldview: women want different things than men, on some levels. Again individuals vary, but taken as a whole this is true.

    This is also being denied by the left, not the right. (Not only that, but the left has made up many genders, in order to produce victims, I surmise.) Women can serve in front line units: but ability for such duties extend to the men in those positions: they must qualify for the combat role. The right says, if the woman can hack it, fine. However, we are told that ability does not matter by leftists. Women must be integrated and if the mission fails (usually means someone, or a whole bunch of someones, dies) so be it!

    Third wave feminism is actually anti female choice, the core value of first and second wave feminism. If you are not ‘woke’ you are less than others who are. Wear a ‘girly’ dress and be denigrated.

    And let us not touch the third rail the article talks about: racial differences. Genetics determine susceptibility to certain disorders, like anemia or diabetes. This is truth, and wishing it away is harmful to society. Genetics determines how long one can safely be exposed to the sun: the darker the skin, the better the person generally handles solar radiation poisoning, commonly called sunburn. Conversely, lighter skin generally handles colder and cloudy climates, getting more Vitamin D from less sun. These are just facts, neither good or bad.

    Are there certain tendencies we should explore with genetic research? Is there a gene that predisposes someone to be a better pilot, or doctor, or teacher? What about criminality, predudicial bias, or asshollery? (Okay, I made that term up)

    Don’t you think we should find out?*

    *We will alway have to take into account that just because someone might be predisposed to a trait, that individual choice, education, cultural indoctrination, parenting, and a host of other factors influence outcomes. For instance, I have very high functioning autism. I learned to control and indeed channel the impulses, turning the liability into a positive in many instances, or at least mitigating the negatives to function in society. Parenting involved spanking: autistic meltdowns were not tolerated when I was raised. I coped. You will find that most engineers are on the autism spectrum to some degree: attention to tedious detail makes that job attractive to one so predisposed.

  6. Sullivan wasn’t the first person this year to make the arguement that we need to discuss these kinds of topics and that progressive refusal to engage with scientific facts on certain subjects leaves them very vulnerable.

    Steven Pinker had a brush with controversy earlier this year, when as part of an 8 minute discussion he said, in part:

    “The other way in which I do agree with my fellow panelists that political correctness has done an enormous amount of harm in the sliver of the population that might be, I wouldn’t want to say persuadable, but certainly whose affiliation might be up for grabs, comes from the often highly literate, highly intelligent people who gravitate to the alt-right, internet savvy, media savvy, who often are radicalized in that way, who swallow the red pill, as the saying goes, the allusion from The Matrix. When they are exposed the first time to true statements that have never been voiced in college campuses or in The New York Times or in respectable media, that are almost like a bacillus to which they have no immunity, and they’re immediately infected with both the feeling of outrage that these truths are unsayable, and no defense against taking them to what we might consider to be rather repellent conclusions.”

    https://www.dailywire.com/news/25730/harvard-professor-steven-pinker-point-out-how-ben-shapiro

    • Someone pointed out to me that there is an earlier ‘red pill’ reference in films: ‘Total Recall’.

      Be that as it may the idea that stands behind the notion of ‘taking a red pill’ (in The Matrix) is very complex and labyrinthian, for it is based on a sense that we must all have that ‘reality’ is a screen onto which is projected fabricated images and meanings, but that simultaneously we participate in holding up the illusion through projecting our own desires In concernt, shall we say, with those who ‘run the show’. We cooperate therefor in the sham that is perpetrated on us.

      The idea has many different levels of implication. Obviously the first one is bound up in the sense that in the Postwar a whole ‘world’ of image and ‘belief’ was created and molded through an enormous concerted effort on the part of propaganda offices, governments, the film and entertainment industriies, and the academics. Nothing like this had ever occurred before. The false-reality that the ‘red pill’ will shatter takes place when one realizes that this ‘world’ is a mixture of lies and truths. But there is a sense that, somehow, one might perceive correctly, and that this knowledge (as a gnosis) will somehow help one. But what if knowing is actually more difficult, more painful, and does not lead to irenic feelings?

      Therefor the Blue Pill is ‘conforting illusions’, the ‘general story’ we receive, and also social ridicule of those who, like prophets (or prophetesses as the case may be) attempt to alert us to ‘truth’. The ‘Alt-Right’ which is really the European New Right and people like Jonathan Bowden, Alain de Benoit, and those who resisted the Generation 1968 by retreating into pure and solid philosophical ideas, bring forward revolutionary and transformative information. It is soundly based and thus ‘ethical’.

      The message that is most relevant to this particular blog post about Sullivan is that ‘telling the truth’ and ‘knowing the truth’ (about this but really, at least potentially, about many different things) is ‘dangerous knowledge’ and that even knowing it, and even more distributing it, must be controlled. And obviously the ‘message’ which is implied, but definitely not stated, has to do with the realization that we are living in a ‘fabricated and engineered social reality’ that is upheld not altogether for idealistic purposes, but rather to uphold an economic system and an entire regime of view that supports the regime.

      What I find deliciously funny is that just a short time ago the term ‘Alt-Right’ was a term of condemnation and ridicule. It was a swearword you exclaimed while holding up a quivering cockroach by one leg. But as the truths that the Alternative and New Right are dealing in are seen in a fair light (and they are totally reasonable perceptions and ideas) the regime of thought which infects liberals and so-called conservatives alike, is challenged and, sloooooooowly, they begin to see and think in those terms, at least to a small degree. That is ‘the power of ideas’.

      Political and social issues aside, the other strange implication in the notion of a Red Pill is, I think, in ‘metaphysical awakening’. The Stephen Pinkers of our world, and an entire current of dominant thinking including that farcical cripple Dawkins, has come to dominate the discourse about the odd topic of ‘reality’. They chatter meaninglessly and it is all taken as having significant import, yet in truth they say nothing at all.

      In a similar sense that left-progressives ‘marched through the institutions’ and succeeded in implanting their perceptual order in your brain, to become in a manner of speaking ‘the lens’ through which ‘reality’ is seen and interpreted, so too have these ‘Pinkers’ of the world come to suppose they can define our reality at a metaphysical level. This is also evidence of ‘the pwer of idea’ but it is idea that is a damper on thinking, and evidence (I suggest) of similar coercion. The regime of thought control extends from political and social mis-truths to other levels of mis-truth and deceptive lie about the nature of reality. About us. About this place. Obviously what I mean is this ‘regime’ seeks to knock away a very substantial pillar that is uniquely Occidental. You could say that the outward symbol of this, or the most tangible manifestation, is ‘Christianity’, but what is really being referred to is ur-Christian or, as I say, Greco-Christian. Yet *they* are working like demons to undermine it, and there is where the battle is most violent.

      How strange it is to live in a present in which the nature of the perceptual game and the nature of the perceptual war — and one hinging into profound senses of *meaning* and *value* — that is being waged against *us* is all becoming so visible, so uncovered as it were. And how strange that this *battle* is played out within us as we struggle to make sense of what we see … on the screen … passing before our eyes …

  7. This discussion could have done with a few left wing voices working their angles and the alt-right (though derived from European “right”…which is still Left of center by American political standards) is the only other varying voice.

    (Not to disparage any of the comments, I think they are all great)

  8. This sort of issue is why I wrote How Not to Be a Bigot.  For the past several years I’ve been working on upgrading the “software” in people’s heads–I’ll worry about their hardware when that’s done. 

    I’ve been sitting on this response for a while, because I realized that my actionable solution was neglecting a critical aspect of the situation: At the moment we live in a world of almost single-minded competition, so if a company thinks they have a cheap way of gauging the net worth of someone (by looking at them), they’ll take it.  Even if they’re wrong some percentage of the time, they may find it makes them more money on balance.  Big, impersonal companies have successfully divorced most of society from the process of deciding how we should treat each other, so that the only concern that’s left is getting more of what we want, faster and cheaper, without regard to how we got there or what people have to do to get it. 

    To a small extent, we can fix this problem with rules. We’ve already established a 40-hour work week to avoid sacrificing our lives for more wealth. However, at some point we have to accept that rules are not going to help. Society will change anyway, though, because people’s actions will make it impossible to stay the same.

    If some people have a harder time getting hired because of prejudice, that’s an advantage for those who do hire them. They may get paid less for a time, but they can build a reputation that speaks for itself, and use that to negotiate for more money. If an entire group doesn’t know how to present itself as competent to another group, they’ll either learn how or they’ll have to demonstrate that competence in their own way, so that they become legitimate competition in their own right.

    In the end, it all comes down to people learning. Rules about how we have to treat people in the marketplace and how we have to talk about them are preventing people from all groups from learning and changing. For the sake of us all, those rules should be abolished. Education for empowerment is where we need to start changing things, not education for behavior control.

    On a side note, I did have to watch a few videos on diversity for my current job, and I was impressed with how they handled the issue. They were nuanced, called out flaws in other diversity training, and emphasized finding and sharing commonalities rather than tracking and tolerating differences.

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