The American Mind: In Defense of Stigma

This post from Alex Kaschuta at The American Mind, In Defense of Stigma, talks about degenerating mores in our society. Conservatism and progressivism in society are necessary, competing forces. Though not wholly unrelated, these terms are not synonymous with the political Conservatives and Progressives. Small c conservatives protect that which has shown that it works to protect and extend the existence of the society. Small p progressives test out new ways of doing things to see if they are better ways than the old ways. If the progressive elements find something that works better, then it gets integrated into the society and becomes something that the conservative elements should continue to defend going forward. Going to either extreme leads to societal downfall. Too conservative and the society stagnates and collapses. Too progressive and the society breaks apart and collapses. Stigma is a tool to protect the traditional way of doing things.

We are staring down the barrel of a world without social norms. This summer of riotous unrest has only exacerbated a trend that was hurtling forward to begin with: in the name of unfettered free choice and “destigmatization,” progressives of every stripe have demanded we not only abolish, but positively invert, every social norm.

To mark the conquest, as any victor does, the advocates of unfettered choice have found it necessary to parade the spoils. It is not enough to tear off our former cultural girdles: traditional social norms are not only being defeated, but inverted. Under the banner of diversity and inclusion, new transgressive duties are imposed to replace the old authoritative ones. Now, at a time when the initiation rituals of our culture are essentially “whatever may piss off your dad,” a discussion about what traditional norms mean (or meant) and what they could mean in the future is warranted.

Though collective norms change through the ages, there was never a time when an absence of norms was normative itself. Until now, that is: in the late hours of post-modernity, non-judgmentalism and tolerance are the highest order in our current culture. Arguably, rejecting order is the only true order. And to mark the occasion and make sure we don’t slip into old habits, the culture rallies around giving alternative lifestyles their time in the sun. We’ve replaced local norms—which, stipulated, were often stifling—with a very loose set of global commandments that, to meet the test of the global, need to overcome the parochial.

This drive for openness is understandable. We live in a globalized world where interactions between diverse people need to be smoothed out, to be standardized for global production and consumption. You are a member of the global village first, then, if there’s any local village left, you may be a member of that as well, but only within the bounds of your new supreme law. We need to be tolerant above all, just to make this thing work.

A contemporary stage for this conversation is the problem of sexual norms. Sex-positive feminism, the normalization of sex work, and a constellation of alternative sexual arrangements such as polyamory (polygamy?) have moved into the spotlight. The call is to destigmatize and normalize. The Left and libertarians alike make a powerful argument: “What’s it to you?”

Their point is compelling: people are different, and for some people, traditional arrangements in love and life may not be the best fit. Individual people have distinct personal preferences, and if they so desire, they should be able to exercise choice.

The problem arises at the collective level.

The Sex Worker Society

Societies and communities, if they are to mean anything, are a product of their culture. Culture, beyond its formal, visible artifacts like paintings, music, and corndogs, represents the invisible web of informal knowledge and rules that tie people to each other. These informal bonds are the stories and myths you share with others in your community. They inform you about the perspective on reality that other people have because they mirror your own. I know what you believe because I believe it too. From these myths, tales, and, importantly, taboos, we collectively generate norms.

A norm is not just what you know but also what’s expected of you from the other members of your collective. Norms encode essential information about what it means to be together.

A society is downstream from what its collective myths generate.

Our global and very vocal new collective myths around sexuality optimize for “shame minimization in the individual” and “tolerance of any lifestyle that is not directly a threat to others.” Even if these are noble goals on the level of the individual, on a collective level, this is not what myths are for. Myths, tales, and other memeplexes exist for group coordination.

For any culture, it makes sense for myths to exist to support behavior that focuses on selflessness and the next generation, propagating both its genes and its memes. Among other things, Christianity served as one such memeplex that embedded pro-social norms and, while it conferred sanctity to the individual, nevertheless always framed human life as a part of a collective.

Christianity, like other religions, is a self-propagating myth—this is not to pass judgment on the truths of its history one way or another. It is simply to point out that Christian teaching gives its adherents a way of understanding themselves, and their progeny, as more than merely interchangeable automatons. It tells them a story about who they are, what they must strive for, and why.

Arguably, a hollowed-out shell of Christian principles still acts as a brittle coordination mechanism in the West. How long the scaffolding will hold, even at the current level of rust, is not clear. Its successor, the “choose your own adventure” meme of the late 20th and early 21st century, isn’t a self-propagating myth because it can’t account for the collective. The adventure is, by definition, solo.

The Choiceless Choices of Infinite Freedom

Traditional norms have incorporated millennia of wisdom that an 18-year-old, though technically adult, can’t begin to fathom, both at the collective and individual level. The unguided young adult, born into a world that has been thoroughly de-normed and destigmatized, isn’t a perfect choice machine. The lack of supportive mythology limits her ability to choose her own adventure because it eliminates the wisdom encoded in tradition.

The thing about humans is, where there is more than one person, there are always norms. If societies do not proactively shape them, they will arise from our most base and short-term desires, whose fulfillment becomes a norm in itself. So, in the absence of guiding morality, the young adult will gravitate toward the norms set by her similarly confused peer group, who are still LARP-ing rebellion against 1950s father figures they’ve usually only seen in movies. Tradition was (allegedly) the cage of our ancestors, and the new anti-norms will finally make us, the individuals, free to choose and overcome arbitrary conventions.

So, for the young adult, born into normative normlessness, what does life look like? She (the ideal young adult today is female) is a magpie, gravitating toward every shiny new thing, doing experiments in living, always customizing her experience through ever more varied, but ultimately superficial, choices. She optimizes for individual preferences also because she interfaces first and foremost with the global market—a market that, beyond its admittedly magical powers of wish-fulfillment, can’t see her as a member of a community. She is a producer/consumer with desires that grow ever more sophisticated at the speed at which the market can satiate and then create them anew.

A lack of local norms works well in the global market because the price of admission is agreeing to leave your roots behind, to play well with others, to consume the global goods. The fact that there were no roots to begin with saves the system a few steps.

Every additional step in crushing stuffy tradition is another step toward expanding choice, but only in the narrowest sense. Choice is emergent from the world we live in, from the culture and communities we are a part of, often with millennia of embedded wisdom that doesn’t come with your firmware at 18 years of age. We choose what kind of life to live against a backdrop of what kind of life most people live, and what kind of life our ancestors valued. That’s the only context in which choice has any meaning at all—if there are no norms, choice is all but infinite—and meaningless.

In the strictest sense, the un-civilized and un-cultured individual is limited to choices led by his impulses. He is trapped in the short term because he is deprived of the wisdom that there is a sacredness in the long term, a sacredness in selflessness.

Norms, taboos, reputation, and shame are how societies coordinate informally around collective goals like cohesion, understanding, and, ultimately, survival. If a society not only allows for the destigmatization of its taboos but actively encourages it, or simply doesn’t frown on defectors, that society cannot sustain itself for long. Myths that help coordinate groups of people, religious or secular, are almost indistinguishable from the stigma they entail.

Stigma has no positive connotations today. It is merely a synonym of the dreaded intolerance that needs to be left at the door of the global village. But for norms to mean anything, something must happen when they are violated. In that sense, the stigma is the pro-social meme because it is the enforcer of it. A norm that is 100% carrot, 0% stick is not a norm, especially one that requires tradeoffs for the long-term because it lacks skin in the game.

Paying the Cost

The truth is that stigma can be traumatic for the individual. It can hurt and alienate in myriad ways. But that doesn’t mean that it is disposable at the collective level. The stigma ensures the norms of the world that our 18-year-old wakes up in are guiding her into a direction that makes sense for both her and the group she is embedded in.

The sex-positive world of ubiquitous cam girls and normalized sex work is one that maximizes short-term material gain for the individual. Few will deny this. Yet at the same time, few have romantic notions about aging in the industry and flourishing beyond a few good years without having to veer off into the tricky world of increasingly baroque fetish porn.

Beyond the potential mental health consequences for those pursuing such a course, the adverse effects for the group are immense and cumulative. Yet if the short-term, material benefits of engaging in sex work are high, and they are, then in the absence of a strong moral framework there is no reason this destructive porn spiral can’t become the new normal. The incentives are aligned: potential consumption is maximized, GDP is booming, and, to sweeten the deal for your average global citizen, this is also what would piss off the guiding 1950s dad avatar.

Those who advocate normalizing everything (but what dad says) also often claim that though people may get hurt if we take away our social guard rails, not everyone does—in fact, some people are freed to express their true selves in ways they couldn’t in more traditional societies. There is a caste of the enlightened among us, people rational enough to partake in taboo delights. Why shouldn’t they be able to, if they so choose?

But if that’s the case, isn’t that what the rebels have always done? Haven’t the chosen people always bent rules that were only bendable because they were rules? If there are no such rules, what is even the meaning of those formerly taboo acts? And as long as there’s room for rebels to brave a little social stigma and act how they want, what’s the argument for tearing down our entire civilization just so those few can do things they would already have done?

Normalization is the opposite of bending the rules. It is the demand that we abolish them to comfort those that would rather not be seen as defectors. So, to solve the problem of shame, we make everyone a defector. The stark truth here is that the vast majority of people cannot take it. They are better off sticking with the program, having a guiding light, waking up to a world of useful norms that protect them and the society they live in. Ridding our communities of moral taboos that the enlightened can do without will hurt these people most, as it has already if we look at the desperation left in the wake of the sexual revolution.

So, even if some custom arrangements may be better for some, killing the memes that are best for most is terrible for everyone.

The Federalist: 5 Reasons Conservatives Should Have Hope For The Future

The Federalist and Peter Burfeind have 5 Reasons Conservatives Should Have Hope For The Future

If Joe Biden walks away with a presidential victory, conservatives will have many reasons to despair. This would portend some terrifying realities about propaganda and the manipulation of public opinion, the acceptance of potential fraud, and the willingness to accept the curtailment of basic liberties.

But it need not. In fact, conservatives have reason to be quite hopeful. We might be in an Obi-Wan Kenobi moment, wherein striking Trump down will make his movement more powerful than anyone can possibly imagine. Beyond the typical takes on the election that give conservatives hope — we appear to have kept the Senate, and socialism and critical race theory lost — we have five long-term reasons to be hopeful.

1. Final Liberation from Establishment Republicans

At some level, the left has to be jealous. For any chance of defeating Donald Trump, look what they had to settle for: a dementia-addled, 78-year-old fossil who’s spent 47 years in the Senate as a pandering politician straight out of Central Casting. But the Democrat establishment pushed him because he polled best against Trump and, as Democrats are so quick to remind us, “science and data.”

Ah, I remember those days. I remember hearing the smart set tell us how a Herman Cain would be an abject failure as a candidate or president, so we’d better go with a traditional politician, such as John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Jeb Bush.

Then came Trump, dismantling the entire paradigm. One of the most beloved politicians in our history, he showed us how a successful American with a love for his country can do great things, things politicians have been promising for years, such as lowering unemployment for minorities, increasing wages for the working class, sticking it to communist China, creating peace in the Middle East, giving us energy independence, restructuring bad trade deals, withdrawing from foreign entanglements, and revolutionizing the federal judiciary.

Meanwhile, the Democrats get to watch a doddering hack grapple with the wily Sen. Mitch McConnell for four years, while trying to pick up the pieces of an economy they tanked to get Biden elected president and nothing else. Or maybe they’re looking forward to a President Kamala Harris doing her “Excuse me! Excuse me!” routine like that vice principal you mocked in high school.

You almost have to laugh. While they’re locked into “establishment mode” for four years, pantomiming gravitas with their whole “adults in the room” schtick to impress the seven remaining people watching CNN, the right will be having a blast retaking the House, nurturing a new generation of Trump-like candidates, and choosing another unconventional leader for president in 2024 that we actually like and don’t have to hold our noses to select. We’re done with the establishment, and it feels so liberating.

2. Germination of Several Movements

Let’s get into that new generation of conservatives. Trump brought in a significant swath of working-class voters. The Blexit movement continues, with obvious results in the increased turnout of black voters for Trump. With Trump’s Hispanic gains, can we say the whole “demography is destiny” theory officially ran out of juice at, of all places, the Rio Grande and southern Florida?

The last these demographic groups tasted of genuine Trumpism — prior to the Wuhan virus — they were doing outstanding. Now they got Biden to build his case that destroying the energy sector and subsidizing green energy will really get things going again.

Who better than an old, pandering white guy to convince young minority Americans that maybe it’s time for a second exodus from the Democrat plantation? And who will be on the sidelines with a megaphone the whole time saying, “I told you so. Remember what you had under me?”

3. Trump Not Going Anywhere

That of course leads to our third reason for long-term hope: Trump isn’t going anywhere. This is a man who did five to six rallies a day, speaking an hour and a half at each one, for two weeks after recuperating from COVID-19. He’s also a man who hates losing, and his family is completely invested in the movement he started.

Who knows how this will translate. There’s talk of him beginning a right-leaning media outfit to compete with Fox News. Will he continue doing rallies to inspire support for a transformed Republican Party? Will he do a Grover Cleveland number and run for president again?

Whatever it is he chooses to do, he remains the same person uniquely suited to the task at hand, of disrupting the status quo in Washington. He clearly has the support of half the country. Many love him like they’ve never loved any other politician because of how he spoke up for them. That doesn’t end.

4. The Left Not in Charge When We Survive Meltdown

The left displayed a real logic problem this year. I became alert to this problem when I heard Biden and others blame Trump for the COVID-19 deaths. Huh? Do people really fall this easily for the “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy, the logic that “X is president during Y, therefore X caused Y”?

Of course they do. That defines the leftist mind, the hive mind, the belief that agency doesn’t reside in the individual but in collective systems. This is how they think. Consequently, they must run those systems. They must have power.

Their attraction to the swamp comes with an underlying presumption of incredible self-importance. They manage the economy. They keep peace in the world. They take care of us all, good people that they are.

So what do you suppose it means when precisely nothing happens 10 years from now, about the time the world is predicted to implode from climate change? If the left is in charge of things, you know exactly what that will mean: “Thanks to President Ocasio-Cortez’s extreme measures, we’ve saved the world from catastrophe.” We’ll get a preview of this propaganda when a President Biden announces the end of the pandemic due to his wise governance.

This is why they not only needed to win this year but win big, big enough to enact the Green New Deal. That, in turn, could only be sustained with court-packing and a few new states to ensure a friendly Senate for the foreseeable future. With each radical measure, they would use the COVID-19 response as a template. “We came together before to defeat coronavirus; let’s do the same to defeat climate change!”

Alas, this is not going to happen thanks to the GOP’s other 2020 election victories. Without new states and new senators, the midterms will remain seasons of GOP success. It’s difficult to imagine the next presidential election generating excitement for a second Harris or Biden term, at least enough to create coattails for a Democrat takeover of the Senate and House.

2030 will come with glorious weather, and the left will have had nothing to do with it. After a string of exposed lies — Russia, COVID-19 “science,” systemic racism, polls, climate change — how soon before the nation becomes wise to the fact that leftism is synonymous with lying?

5. America Is Still America

The answer to that last question gets to the American DNA. Americans distrust power. The left does well appealing to that distrust, promoting a false narrative blaming the “powers that be” whenever they’re out of power. They milk that “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy for everything it’s worth. It comes more naturally to them than it does to the right.

How often, these past four years, did the leftist mind resort to “Orange Man Bad!” and a primal scream into the cosmos every time their car didn’t start, or they encountered a long line at McDonald’s, or they just felt blue? It’s their psychic makeup.

No more. The left is running their asylum now. They’re great at manufacturing fear about the bogeymen behind “the system,” but in actual governance, they do nothing but lose. Of course, the leftist answer to that conundrum is, “If we all just work together, nothing is impossible.” So they can continue to blame the Senate, disinformation, gridlock, those on “the wrong side of history,” and Trump.

The whole point of leftism is that it can’t succeed without total investment by everyone in its program. That’s why it’s “all hands on deck” from Big Tech, Big Media, Big Business, Hollywood, Wall Street, human resources departments, and the Washington swamp. That’s why cancel culture is integral to their success. Dissent, alternative information, and a muscular minority topples the whole house of cards.

We’re America. We left the tyrannies of the world to come here. We left our cultures and even families. We’re all just a few generations away from incredible risk-takers, fighters, and survivors. Rugged individualism is in our blood.

Add to that the brilliant system set up by the forefathers with its many checks and balances. The newly conservative federal courts, red state governments, and that troublesome right to free speech aren’t going anywhere for now. Meanwhile, the free market is begging for new social media platforms and a FBexit or Twexit movement.

The left tells Americans, “We’re all in this together,” but it won’t be too long before, well, 70 million people say, “Speak for yourself. We’ll speak for ourselves, thank you.” That 70 million isn’t going anywhere. It’s only growing.

Redoubt News: Facebook Punishes 800+ Conservatives

From Redoubt News, Facebook Punishes 800+ Conservatives, dated Oct. 11, 2018.

The Washington Post has reported on Thursday that Facebook is continuing it’s purge on “more than 800 U.S. publishers and accounts for flooding users with politically oriented content that violated the company’s spam policies, a move that could reignite accusations of political censorship.”

We saw many conservatives shut down this week as Facebook makes every appearance of attempting to meddle in the Mid-Term elections. This author’s personal account has been shut down again for sharing Conservative articles and viewpoints.

The WaPo article continued to tell us:

“Some had hundreds of thousands of followers and expressed a range of political viewpoints, including a page that billed itself as “the first publication to endorse President Donald J. Trump.” They did not appear to have ties to Russia, company officials said.

But the move to target U.S. politically oriented sites, just weeks before the congressional midterms, is sure to be a flash point for political groups and their allies, who are already accusing the tech giant of political bias and arbitrary censorship of political content.

The claims of Russian operatives using Facebook to target American voters ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election has been the excuse for Facebook to shut down Free Speech on sites and individuals of their choosing, yet it does not seem arbitrary. They give every indication they have specifically decided who will be shut down and who will not.

The conservative political pages and content is the special focus of the purge, as they have shown that other content they call extreme will be left alone.

Wired tells us that:

Channel 4’s Dispatches documentary on Facebook moderation shows staff being told to leave extreme content on the site because “if you start censoring too much then people lose interest in the platform”

Early Facebook investor Roger McNamee told the programme that this kind of material is “the crack cocaine of their product – the really extreme, really dangerous form of content that attracts the most highly engaged people on the platform”.

According to McNamee, Facebook understands that it is advantageous for people to spend more time on the platform so they can view more advertising. And to maximise your appeal to people’s eyeballs, he argues, you need extreme content. “One person on the extreme can easily provoke 50 or 100 people so they want as much extreme content as they can get.”

Facebook has implemented this conservative purge just weeks before a highly-charged Mid-Term election in the United States. Liberal Democrats have seen their numbers slide dramatically during the recent Supreme Court nomination hearings and calls for violence by Left-Wing Extremist politicians, such as Maxine Waters, Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton

Read the entire article at Redoubt News by clicking here.

Related:

ZeroHedge: Facebook Purges Over 800 Accounts With Millions Of Followers; Prominent Conservatives Vanish