April 5, 2012

Liberal guilt, encapsulated

“Crudely summarised, it goes something like this: ‘I am better than you because I pretend to feel worse.’

Spot on.  In fact, I think of it this way:  watching the left luxuriate over their various self-inflicted ethical debasements is like watching some sort of sad and surreal penis measuring contest — only, in a progressive break with testosterone-sodden patriarchal tradition, the morally-preening self-flagellists have decided to measure whose castrated stump is actually shortest.  To, you know, avoid being called out for perpetuating even self-referential gender stereotypes that are complicit in sustaining moral blindness with respect to multi-tiered hierarchies of socio-ontological privilege.

After which I enjoy a sandwich and watch an episode of Swamp People and I forget all about these pretentious morons.

(h/t Silver Whistle)



Posted by Jeff G. @ 1:08pm

Comments (76)

  1. Interestingly, there does seem to be some serious overlap here with that concept Nietzche coined as ‘slave morality’.

  2. “Interestingly”? Or “predictably”?

  3. Is it predictable that lefties would pursue Nietzche’s concept of a reverse-defined, resentment based slave morality?

    I mean, it’s hardly that it just now became evident. Predictable in that it’s been going on for quite some time now. It is now past time.

    But I don’t find it predictable, really. At least, I wouldn’t have predicted it ahead of time. As pedestrian as it is it’s still kind of shocking to me.

  4. Crude but accurate, you might say.

  5. As pedestrian as it is it’s still kind of shocking to me.

    Not to me. It’s the moral cleansing they grant themselves so they can justify the horrors and atrocities they’re willing to commit in the name of “progress.”

  6. From the excerpt over at DT’s:

    Liberal guilt is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s really just the political expression of that rather old-fashioned thing, conscience…

    Which is actually social conscience — it can’t be personal conscience because guilty liberals treat the individual members of their protected classes like intestinal parasites (they actually treat shit better than that). And as we all know, prepending “social” onto anything negates its meaning and creates an idea that is 180° opposite.

  7. Social justice, social security…

  8. Okay, maybe not social disease…

  9. Or “social unrest,” which is really just redundant.

  10. Sorta OT, and reminiscent of guilt: Romney wants to end gender discrimination at private clubs now.


    Hat-tip to frequent commenter here, Paul Zummo for this severely-conservative, pro-freedom of association find.

  11. [S]ophisticated Marxism became cultural criticism of life in the Western democracies [but] none of it came from Marx of a Marxist perspective. It was, and is, Nietzschean, variations on our way of life as that of “the last man.” [long paragraph on cultural criticism relying on categories taken from the sociology of Max Weber, reminder that previous chapter explained how Weber drew his inspiration from Nietzsche].

    So Nietzsche came to America. His conversion to the Left ws easily accepted here as genuine, because Americans cannot believe that any really intelligent and good person does not at bottom share the Will Rogers Weltanschauung, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Nietzsche’s naturalization was accomplished in many waves: some of us went to Europe to find him; he came with the emigrés; and most recently professors of comparative literature have gotten heavily into the import business … deconstructing Nietzsche and Heidegger and reconstructing them on the Left[.] …Heidegger and Nietzsche now come under their own names, treading on the red carpet rolled out for them by their earlyier envoys. Academic psychology, sociology, comparative literature and anthropology [just think of all the intersting people Jeff has introduced to in these webpages!] have been dominated by them for a long time. But their passage from the academy to the marketplace is the real story. A language developed to explain to knowers how bad we are has been adopted by us to declare to the world how interesting we are. Somehow the goods got damaged in transit. Marcuse began in Germany in the twenties by being something of a serious Hegel scholar. He ended up here writing trashy culture criticism with a heavy sex interest in One Dimensional Man and other well-known books. In the Soviet Union, instead of the philosopher-king they got the ideological tyrant; in the United States the culture critic became the voice of Woodstock. (Allan Bloom “The Nietzscheanization of the Left or Vice Versa, in The Closing of the American Mind, 217-28 at 227-28.)

  12. [..]some sort of sad and surreal penis measuring contest

    Kind of kinky when you think of Ms Penny in her knickers eating bacon.

  13. ot

    Holder says court power to review laws ‘beyond dispute’

    Published April 05, 2012


    Attorney General Eric Holder assured a federal appeals court Thursday that the Obama administration believes judges have the authority to overturn federal laws, after President Obama’s comments earlier this week raised concerns from the bench about his view of judicial power.

    Holder, in a three-page letter to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, said “the power of the courts to review the constitutionality of legislation is beyond dispute,” though it should only be exercised in “appropriate cases.” He also claimed laws passed by Congress are “presumptively constitutional.”


  14. deconstructing Nietzsche and Heidegger and reconstructing them on the Left[.]

    They tried to do that to Orwell too, but they didn’t wait until he was dead — and he, being watchful for just that sort of thing, resisted.

  15. Perhaps of interest.

    Understanding The Slave Mentality

    h/t Barnhardt

  16. So, twenty-five years on, has it made a difference we can measure yet Ernst, or might we expect we can see any such difference only dimly — if at all — and must wait another near twenty-five years to see more substantial, more wide-spread and positive fruits?

  17. To riff off of McGehee’s point about social consience: Social conscience is the social imagination, which is looking at other people as utilitarian means towards an imagined end. Or, to put it figuratively,

    You goddamned teabaggers! How many more of you are we going to have to mock, shame, harrass, (beat, imprison, torture, and execute) before you understand we just want what’s best for you?

  18. I am appalled to hear that they don’t let women into Augusta.

    How do those poor devils get their beer delivered on the back nine?

    Coincidentally, Nietzsche and Heidegger just teed off as the final pairing of the day.

  19. They tried to do that to Orwell too, but they didn’t wait until he was dead — and he, being watchful for just that sort of thing, resisted.

    I wouldn’t say deconstruct/reconstruct so much as keep on the reservation.

    Here, Orwell serves as a prime example of the limitations of the Left-Right dichotomy as it’s differently applied in Europe and America. Orwell was a man of the moderate Left criticizing the radical Left. Had he lived, he may, like Burnham, have found himself writing for William F. Buckley Jr.

    Nietzsche was a man of the Right because he was a critic of bourgeois civilization from the old aristocratic perspective (meaning that everything that for him was Good and Beautiful and True came from the aristocracy and egalitarianism was smothering it all).

    Heidegger? Bloom implies that Heidegger was of the right, mostly because he was a influenced by Nietzsche. I don’t know. As taken with National Socialism as he was, I’d say he was on the Left, but maybe that’s just my American perspective.

  20. Has it made a difference?

    How the hell should I know, sdferr?

    Only freaks read serious works of philosophy and cultural criticism. Serious people read about how Erica Jong discovered her vagina and such. The rest of America is either watching The View or American Idol or perhaps masturbating over space titties.

  21. Well, in the late ’40s Europe’s moderate Left still thought Stalin was just a liberal in a hurry. Orwell had been arguing otherwise for years, and the unmistakable point of Animal Farm didn’t stop the Left from trying to portray 1984 as a cautionary tale against right-wing totalitarianism.

    I’m sure Orwell opposed totalitrarianism of all stripes — but 1984 wasn’t about the German-American Bund.

  22. It was, and is, Nietzschean, variations on our way of life as that of “the last man.”

    Well, it’s not that one can advocate what Nietzche advocated without being basically, a genuine NaZi, but all the same they are still doing it quite wrong. It’s ‘Nietzschean’ in the sense that it conforms to all his criticisms of such activity. Maybe that has something to do with the translation through Weber, or being put into the employment of a western Marxism that itself had become primarily resentment based and oppositional.

  23. I don’t know either Ernst, but I do think I sometimes see intimations of a change ongoing, often, though not always, associated with Bloom’s students become now teachers themselves. People at least are still asking the questions revolving around “Is our curricula adequate to our aims? How can we change it? How make it better?” and so on, even if too infrequently to my tastes. Maybe it’s too much to hope that a majority of eyes will be opened one day. But on the other hand, it doesn’t seem impossible — and certainly not a necessity — that the vast majority should have to remain closed for all time.

  24. Romney wants to end gender discrimination at private clubs now.

    Gotta love how Romney instinctively goes for the “Me too!” angle.

    By the time November rolls around, Obama will have him promising to end the Republican War on Women…


    the poor…

    the environment…

  25. I understand your point about Orwell. He had a hell of a time getting Animal Farm published In part because his regular publishers on the Left didn’t want to touch it.

    Christopher Hitchens was trying to reconstruct Orwell just a decade ago.

  26. I should find my Signet paperback of 1984 that I inherited from my father. Erich Fromm’s afterward is a doozy!

  27. “Liberal Guilt” Is just a post-Christian proto-Marxist heresy. In the pathetic braincases that hold the liberal mind, they actually believe that if you express enough guilt over past wrongs of your class and/or race you are cleansed of the taint for whatever wrongness you feel guilty about. It is the worst thought processes of pseudo-religious thought and Marxist groupthink rammed together…

  28. The problem is liberals don’t think they’re guilty of anything. “Liberal guilt” is really the smug conceit that others should feel the guilt prescribed by liberals – as the piece cited by Thompson illustrates.

  29. Maybe that has something to do with the translation through Weber

    I think it has more to do with the Left’s habit of believing someone or something is right, not because it’s right in itself, but because they believe it to be. No need to worry about your intellectual/philosophical pedigree when you’ve joined the Elect (in the gnostic sense).

  30. There were a lot of really terrific writers who were writing contemporaneously to Allan Bloom. Bloom was also blinded by his own biases.

  31. “Liberal Guilt” Is just a post-Christian proto-Marxist heresy.

    I’d say a neo-gnostic instead of proto-Marxist myself.

    But it is heresy.

  32. You sure you don’t have Allan confused with his evil twin Harold?

  33. Nope.

  34. The Book That Drove Them Crazy
    Allan Bloom’s ‘Closing of the American Mind’ 25 years later. By Andrew Ferguson

    h/t sdferr

  35. Mine might not be very thick, but it sure is short!

  36. Then you’d better unpack that. Because it strikes me as equivocating relevancy masquerading as judiciousness while bullshitting your way through the classroom participation portion of your grade.

  37. I already unpacked it. That’s how small it is!

  38. Small enought to get in ahead of me.

    I hate when that happens.

  39. I like neo-gnostic. It even rolls off the tongue nicely.

  40. For what it’s worth, I’m also interested in hearing about Bloom’s problems.

    I’m not going to say that I’m a fan but I do have his rookie card in a shoebox under my bed.

  41. Time to veer off topic. Much as I appreciate the sneer that can be put on gnostic, it’s a usage issue for me when using agnostic.

    It’s one of those things. Everyone one knows what agnostic means so it’s the tool at hand but it doesn’t really work beyond that.

  42. Do recognized cognates ordinarily result in a squirt of oxytocin into the brain?

  43. In an extreme Hayekian sense. Like, local dendrite connections? Indubitably.

    Think I mentioned this before by email but such things were a significant part of the fun with behavioral economics before those damn dirty progressives packaged it for fascism.

    This was back when Cobain walked the earth. Good times. No, really, good times.

  44. I’m still trying to figure out what bh is talking about with gnostic/agnostic and usage.

    Is it a pronunciation thing?

  45. can one be an agnomic agnostic

  46. As well as in the local connections I suspect some philologists like Nietzsche get a hard-on for language. Not a gnu, the likes of Nietzsche.

  47. Perhaps my favorite sentence in the Fuguson piece sdferr & geoff linked:

    “In time the academic establishment’s horror of Bloom grew too vast for mere paper and ink to contain. Drastic action had to be taken: Conferences had to be held.

  48. Oh, sorry, Ernst.

    Gnostic has — to me, anyways — a basic pejorative tilt. A gnostic is full of shit, basically. So, when I use agnostic to mean non-believer or non-knower but it can also be read in a different way e.g. non-bullshitter.

  49. Either remove the “when” or “but” above.

  50. Ah gnostic = “know it all.” Makes sense. In an idiosyncratic sort of way

  51. I’d say not entirely idiosyncratic, Ernst. Throw in a dash of Catholicism.

  52. Ahem: ” . . . is . . . -cula . . . ” deserves me a good cross-linguistic upside-a-head whapping, ya Latinate slouches.

  53. Serious people read about how Erica Jong discovered her vagina

    As a decidedly unserious person, I’ve never read anything on that particular topic. Lemme guess: “with two hands and a flashlight?”

  54. That kind of Gnosis is different. But I can see where the perjorative connotation comes from.

  55. In what other sense are we using gnostic, Ernst? Seriously, I hold the whole gnostic group in a fuzzy “mystery cult” category in my head without much by way of distinction.

  56. From the wiki: *According to Foreign Policy [Benjamin] Barber “was among a small group of democracy advocates and public intellectuals… working under contract with the Monitor Group consulting firm to interact with Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi on issues of democracy and civil society”.[3] Barber says, “we thought — and I think Monitor thought — it was an opportunity to work at internal reform.”*

    In Harper’s, the political scientist Benjamin Barber called the book “a most enticing, a most subtle, a most learned, a most dangerous tract.” Americans were too susceptible to a “Philosopher Despot” like Bloom, Barber wrote. “Anxious about the loss of fixed points, wishing for simpler, more orderly times,” they found in his work “a new Book of Truth for an era after God.”

    Such are the judgments of political scientists.

  57. If the tone doesn’t come through well enough with my comment at 6:14 that was a question not a retort.

    I really do lump them all into a hold-all category and might be quite mistaken to do so.

  58. I’m just used to thinking of Gnosis, gnostics, and gnosticism as a historian does, of a gnostic as someone “in the know” of whatever secret neo-platonic, pseudo-Christian derivative “mystery” about the meaning and purpose of life, the universe, everything in, of, and beyond the cosmos that the enlightened “knower” claimed to possess. I’ve never bothered to reduce it to bullshit believed by a bullshitting bullshitter before.

    But, come to think of it.

  59. Gotcha.

    And, yes, very good, heh, on the link.

  60. E. Voegelin uses the term extensively doesn’t he? If my guess is close, he brings the older identity forward to apply to people near or in our time to highlight similarities (if not equivalences) in modern political trends?

  61. My Voegelin is terrible. Worse than my Spanish.

  62. (I do like his definition of gnosis that one might find at Wiki though. Not that I just did. Nope, I just happened to stumble upon my rare, signed edition of Stuff Voegelin Said on a bookshelf earlier today. Odd coincidence, that.)

  63. After he takes it back to Ahnkenaten, Voegelin brings it forward to the present.

    The I know something that will answer all your questions and solve all your problems if… seems a near constant of human history.

  64. Is a Voegelin warrior someone who engages in Voegelin monologues?

  65. Probably more like monadlogues as distinct from gonadlogues.

  66. In 1966 in Messina, Italy, a conference was held concerning systems of gnosis. Among its several aims were the need to establish a program to translate the recently acquired Nag Hammadi library (discussed above) and the need to arrive at an agreement concerning an accurate definition of “Gnosticism”. This was in answer to the tendency, prevalent since the 18th century, to use the term “gnostic” less as its origins implied, but rather as an interpretive category for contemporary philosophical and religious movements. For example, in 1835, New Testament scholar Ferdinand Christian Baur constructed a developmental model of Gnosticism that culminated in the religious philosophy of Hegel; one might compare literary critic Harold Bloom’s recent attempts to identify Gnostic elements in contemporary American religion, or Eric Voegelin’s analysis of totalitarian impulses through the interpretive lens of Gnosticism.

    The “cautious proposal” reached by the conference concerning Gnosticism is described by Markschies:

    In the concluding document of Messina the proposal was “by the simultaneous application of historical and typological methods” to designate “a particular group of systems of the second century after Christ” as “gnosticism”, and to use “gnosis” to define a conception of knowledge transcending the times which was described as “knowledge of divine mysteries for an élite”.

    — Markschies, Gnosis: An Introduction, p. 13

    In essence, it had been decided that “Gnosticism” would become a historically specific term, restricted to mean the Gnostic movements prevalent in the 3rd century, while “gnosis” would be a universal term, denoting a system of knowledge retained “for a privileged élite.” However, this effort towards providing clarity in fact created more conceptual confusion, as the historical term “Gnosticism” was an entirely modern construction, while the new universal term “gnosis” was a historical term: “something was being called “gnosticism” that the ancient theologians had called ‘gnosis’ … [A] concept of gnosis had been created by Messina that was almost unusable in a historical sense”.[115] In antiquity, all agreed that knowledge was centrally important to life, but few were agreed as to what exactly constituted knowledge; the unitary conception that the Messina proposal presupposed did not exist.[115]

    These flaws have meant that the problems concerning an exact definition of Gnosticism persist.

  67. the proposal was “by the simultaneous application of historical and typological methods” to designate “a particular group of systems of the second century after Christ” as “gnosticism”, and to use “gnosis” to define a conception of knowledge transcending the times which was described as “knowledge of divine mysteries for an élite”.

    They just need to reimagine and update it. Make it hip. A hip gnosis might really take off.

  68. Hip gnosis?

    I missed it at first.

  69. Listen to my voice… relax… observe my pocket watch swinging back and forth. You know, hip gnosis.

  70. agnomic agnostics for the show

  71. Ferguson says Bloom was hip to the gnosis:

    Relativism, in fact, was the only moral postulate that went unchallenged in academic life. Defenders of relativism often defend it by denying it exists: No one, they say, truly believes that one idea is ultimately as good as another. And of course they’re right that none of us in our own lives act as though we believed this. But most of us profess it nonetheless, especially if we’ve got a college education, in which case we will be careful to use air quotes when we are forced to say the word “truth” in polite company. In a genial but harrowing review of Closing, a professor at -Carleton College, Michael Zuckert, told of canvassing the students in his class on American political thought. He asked whether they agreed that the truths in the first lines of the Declaration of Independence were indeed “self-evident.” Seven percent voted “yes.” On further conversation, he wrote, it turned out “that they were convinced there is no such thing as ‘truth,’ self-evident or otherwise, in the sphere of claims of the sort raised in the Declaration.” He would have gotten the same response in almost any college classroom today, and I’m not too sure about the 7 percent.

    What follows when a belief in objectivity and truth dies away in higher education? In time an educated person comes to doubt that purpose and meaning are discoverable?—?he doubts, finally, that they even exist. It’s no mystery why fewer and fewer students in higher education today bother with the liberal arts, preferring professional training in their place. Deprived of their traditional purpose in the pursuit of what’s true and good, the humanities could only founder. The study of literature, for example, was consumed in the trivialities of the deconstructionists and their successors. Philosophy curdled into positivism and word play. History became an inventory of political grievances.

    Into the vacuum left by the humanities comes science, which by its own admission is unconcerned with the large questions of meaning and purpose. Even so, on campus and elsewhere, science is now taken as the final authority on any important human question?—?and not always the rigorous physical sciences, either, but the rickety, less empirical, more easily manipulated guesswork of behavioral psychology, cultural anthropology, sociology, developmental studies, and so on. Nowadays, if we seek insight into the mysteries of the human heart (not high on the academic agenda in any case) we are far more likely to consult a neurobiologist or a social psychologist than Tolstoy or Aristotle. This is not progress.

    These are not the fundamentally serious ideas you’re looking for.
    You can go about your business.
    Vote for Romney.

  72. The problem is liberals don’t think they’re guilty of anything. “Liberal guilt” is really the smug conceit that others should feel the guilt prescribed by liberals – as the piece cited by Thompson illustrates.

    Where’s the “like” button?

    As to gnostics, yeah, I always get the impression that it is pejorative, in that gnostics are the holders of “secret knowledge” and thus the blessed ones.

    AGW believers are gnostic. They know to a metaphysical certainty that the world is doomed and they know why.

    You don’t. Because you aren’t good enough to know.

    Never mind science. The science is settled!

    What’s that? The science behind the science hasn’t been published?

    Well, like I said, it’s secret knowledge.

  73. So Obama is a Constitutional-gnostic?

  74. Woof! Woof!


  75. Well if they can find Genes linked to PTSD perhaps it won’t be long till the find the one linked to Liberal Guilt.