No Minister

Posts Tagged ‘Philosophy

Russia’s strange demons

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A lot of people have spent years trying to figure out what makes Vladimir Putin tick. How much is explained by his KGB past? How much by the scars of the collapse of the USSR? How much by a sense of Russian history, the future of Russia and how he sees himself in forming that future.

I saw one of these attempts the other day, where some bright young scholar talks about the possible influence of one Alexander Dugin, leader of the National Bolshevik Party:

Dugin is a relativist who claims that concepts of liberalism, freedom and democracy are alien to Russian culture, and that the exact sciences of chemistry and physics are demonic Western influences. He believes that Russia is culturally closer to Asia than to Europe, and espouses an ultranationalist, neo-fascist ideology based on his idea of Neo-Eurasianism.

A good synopsis of his thoughts:

That discussion is from 2014, but it reminded me of this essay published in NY Books in 2018 about another Russian philosopher from the early and mid-20th century, who appears to have had much the same thoughts, but who does not appear on Dugin’s Wiki page. The article is long but worth your time, Ivan Ilyin, Putin’s Philosopher of Russian Fascism. Here are some excerpts, following this precise synopsis:

The article draws quite the contrast between Lenin’s atheist take on a war of social classes, The Masses and forth – and Ilyin’s take:

What Ilyin would call “the abyss of atheism” of the new [Soviet] regime was the final confirmation of the flaws of the world, and of the power of modern ideas to reinforce them.

After he departed Russia, Ilyin would maintain that humanity needed heroes, outsized characters from beyond history, capable of willing themselves to power. In his dissertation, this politics was implicit in the longing for a missing totality [wholeness] and the suggestion that the nation might begin its restoration. It was an ideology awaiting a form and a name.

But if you think Ilyin was “godly” you should be prepared for his very strange take on God. The article uses the example of Jesus’s saying,  “Judge not, that ye not be judged.”:

For Ilyin, these were the words of a failed God with a doomed Son. In fact, a righteous man did not reflect upon his own deeds or attempt to see the perspective of another; he contemplated, recognized absolute good and evil, and named the enemies to be destroyed. The proper interpretation of the “judge not” passage [by Ilyin] was that every day was judgment day, and that men would be judged for not killing God’s enemies when they had the chance. In God’s absence, Ilyin determined who those enemies were.

Obviously you can also forget about the central Christian tenet of loving your enemies.

Ilyin died in Switzerland in 1954 and was forgotten to history. Then Putin arrived and in 2005 began quoting him, as well as reinterring his remains to Russia, a huge symbolic move. Other Russian politicians, even in the Opposition parties, followed, as did patriarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church.

But Putin took it further:

In late 2011 and early 2012, Putin made public a new ideology, based in Ilyin, defining Russia in opposition to [the EU] model of Europe. In an article in Izvestiia on October 3, 2011, Putin announced a rival Eurasian Union that would unite states that had failed to establish the rule of law. In Nezavisimaia Gazeta on January 23, 2012, Putin, citing Ilyin, presented integration among states as a matter of virtue rather than achievement. The rule of law was not a universal aspiration, but part of an alien Western civilization; Russian culture, meanwhile, united Russia with post-Soviet states such as Ukraine.

The rule of law is an alien Western concept! Yes, well there have been more than a few civilisations that thought the same, but I thought the last 200 years had put that to bed – or a thousand if you want to go back to Magna Carta where the first chinks were made in the armour of Kingly authority.

But you can see the common path from those articles and speeches of Putin and today’s invasion of Ukraine, together with the propaganda / belief that Ukraine has never been a seperate nation from Mother Russia and never will be considered so.

As soldiers received their mobilization orders for the invasion of the Ukraine’s Crimean province in January 2014, all of Russia’s high-ranking bureaucrats and regional governors were sent a copy of Ilyin’s Our Tasks. After Russian troops occupied Crimea and the Russian parliament voted for annexation, Putin cited Ilyin again as justification. 

Ilyin’s ideas on sexual decadence and the “decadence” of democracy also lead directly to Russian attacks on those features of the West.

First, Ilyin called Russia homosexual, then underwent therapy with his girlfriend, then blamed God. Putin first submitted to years of shirtless fur-and-feather photoshoots, then divorced his wife, then blamed the European Union for Russian homosexuality. Ilyin sexualized what he experienced as foreign threats. Jazz, for example, was a plot to induce premature ejaculation. When Ukrainians began in late 2013 to assemble in favor of a European future for their country, the Russian media raised the specter of a “homodictatorship.”

As opposed to kneeling to Russian kleptocracy, of which Putin is the supreme example.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 9, 2022 at 6:38 am

A Bitter Red Pill to swallow

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In the now-classic 1999 Science Fiction movie, The Matrix, there is a scene where the protagonist is offered a choice between taking two pills, one coloured red and the other blue.

It’s explained to him that the choice means either continuing with his life as it is (blue), even though he suspects there’s something very wrong with that life, or discovering what’s really going on around him (red):

“You take the blue pill… the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill… you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

He takes the red pill and discovers to his screaming horror that he’s actually been “living” inside a virtual world, a simulated reality created by AI’s; the Matrix. Now when the Wachowski brothers made this film they had clear intentions as to what this all meant, which was that we all need to take the red pill at some point in order to become free thinkers. A lot of fans of the movie thought it was an allegory for transgenderism, a theory reinforced when both brothers later became trans-woman.

What the Wachowskis cannot be happy about is that the allegory has become part and parcel of right-wing culture in the USA, where being “red-pilled” means breaking free of the overwhelming influence of left-wing ideas – particularly cultural ones since Marxist economics is dead with only vast state spending remaining. But unfortunately for them ideas cannot be controlled by their creators and the Right pretty much owns this allegory or meme nowadays.

One reason is that watching Lefties become red-pilled has been such a fascinating exercise, especially as Woke and Identity Politics has come to the fore to crush Lefties. But it can happen in more old-fashioned circumstances, such as Politically Correct situations where some political decision is being enforced across-the-board by the culture of the state, MSM and other institutions.

What follows is not exactly what I would call a red-pilling because this unhappy woman probably still continues to believe most of what she’s being told to do and may even still have high opinions of her fellow thinkers. But she certainly must be wondering about her comrades, given how easily and viciously they turned on her when she dared to show even one crack in the armour of The Narrative around vaccinating her kids for the Chinese Lung Snot virus.

On May 12 it happens.

Then something else happens

And away we go….

Having expressed the “correct” opinions about probably everything on Twitter, meaning everything Lefty, she’s no doubt surprised by the reaction on this one issue.

The last in this thread shows some learning, perhaps enough that she will at least start asking questions in future situations where TPTB are certain that you should follow their “agenda”.

A glimmer of daylight on Radio New Zealand

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They’ve marketed themselves as RNZ in recent years because long names confuse people nowadays, punchy marketing soundbites are needed, and Radio Aotearoa is likely not to go over well with their largely older audience.

Having ignored them for the last five years I found myself checking their website each day to find out the Great Chinese Lung Pox Case count, so have had the ‘opportunity” to scan through their other stories. As was entirely predictable they, like all the rest of the NZ MSM, are fully onboard with government policies, actions and measures, although sometimes it comes in the form of attacking the critics, presumably when Labour has produced results or done something so useless or awful that RNZ can’t bring itself to directly defend them.

It’s a version of the play that old hard-line Lefties pulled in the 1980’s re the USSR: they couldn’t defend that crap any more, so they just attacked those attacked the Soviet system; anti-anti-Communists as it were.

So I was pleased and surprised to see this article in the RNZ a few days ago, Prior’s warning:

The writer Bill Pearson’s essay, Fretful Sleepers, written in the wake of the 1951 waterside dispute, famously depicted his fellow citizens as what some might now call “sheeple”.

He warned there “is no one more docile in the face of authority than the New Zealander”, a condition he said arose from “a docile sleepy electorate, veneration of war heroes, willingness to persecute those who don’t conform, gullibility in the face of headlines and radio pep talks”.

Heh. That must have got up the nose of more than a few members RNZ’s Leftie luvvies, who have feasted for years on the martyrdom of 1951 and the terrible things it said about their Right-wing fellow citizens.

But the article mentions another person, one Arthur Prior, “the greatest New Zealand philosopher of the 20th century” (sadly we can’t claim Karl Popper, even though he wrote his famous essay The Open Society and Its Enemies, while teaching here)

In Prior’s speech to the Civil Liberties Council in 1955, titled The Threat to Civil Liberties in New Zealand, Today and Tomorrow, Prior identified three “rather deep-seated national habits and weaknesses … in our national temperament”. These were:

  1. Careless Legislation
    “what might be called our habit of lazy and careless legislation” – laws that enter the statue books not because of any conspiracy but because “of a lack of concern and watchfulness”

    He called this “oppression on paper with liberty in fact” – that is, daily life continues unaffected until a government threatens to enact the dormant legislation.
  2. Political tribalism
    “unscrupulous party spirit” – what today we might call political tribalism – whereby “we cannot admit that sometimes our own bunch are wrong and the other bunch is right”.
  3. Blanket of silence
    “a certain excessive readiness to take offence which we New Zealanders exhibit”.

    “For some reason, it is only too easy for a person or organisation to go to the powers that be and say, ‘Look here, it hurts us to hear somebody saying so-and-so’, and the powers that be will reply, ‘Goodness me, I’m sorry to hear that – we’ll just stop them saying it then’.”

As the RNZ writer points out that last sounds an awful lot like “cancel culture”, and in case you’ve forgotten:

… its application sometimes requires the government to protect you from being censored by other citizens. For example, the government has a duty to protect you from being attacked by a hostile mob that doesn’t like your ideas or having your public speech disrupted by a heckler’s veto.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 28, 2021 at 2:00 pm

Grok Love Cave

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One of may favourite American essayists and humourists is Iowahawk, (real name, David Burge).

While I understand his move to Twitter I don’t like it. I more appreciate the blog he wrote in until 2014, but he’s been puncturing pretentious pricks for more than two decades on many platforms.

Such as this old piece he originally published in 1999, College Profs Denounce Western Culture, Move to Caves:

A passionate critic of Euro-American “linear thought,” Grok is one of a growing number of college professors around the nation who have relocated to caves, mud huts and makeshift sweat lodges to demonstrate their disdain for western culture and technology. For Grok, 44, the move to a cave was a natural step in his intellectual progression.

“My dissertation at Columbia synthesized the seminal works of Jacques Lacan, Derrida, and Michel Foucault,” says Grok, referring to the influential French deconstructionist philosophers. “I was able to prove, conclusively, that conclusiveness is not conclusive.”

Of course what could be pointed at and laughed about in 1999, or even 2014, doesn’t seem so funny now that it’s running loose in the wild. Still, read and enjoy Grok’s adventures:

“I began to deconstruct everything I could get my hands on,” says Grok. “The Old Testament, Shakespeare, Dick and Jane, a 1967 J.C. Whitney catalog, the Boston phone book, you name it. I showed how everything is a lie, that everything could be deconstructed. Well, except Deconstruction, obviously.”

It was then that Grok published a series of influential articles in which he deconstructed the sciences. “I initially showed that the so-called ‘scientific method,’ so treasured by the self-appointed high priests of science, was nothing but a bizarre ritual of the industrialist phallocracy,” said Grok. “From there, it was a short intellectual leap to disprove the reality of the periodic tables, gravity and algebra.”

Despite being elected chairman of the Philosophy Department in 1995, Grok felt an intellectual void. “I needed some way to explain why literature and science were so bad, so putrid, so incredibly vile,” said Grok. “That’s when it dawned on me. They were the products of western culture.”

Being homeless on the streets is for wimps:

Grok says that each of his attempts to replace western technology brought more frustration. “Last year, when I was lying over a heating grate in my cardboard box, I realized I was merely a pawn of western industrialists. Like the developing world, I had been seduced and entrapped by their addictive steam and cardboard technology.”

Also modern medicine and food production:

“Finally, I have broken the cycle of oppression,” he says, violently hacking up a thick clot of blood-streaked mucus. He refuses my offer to contact medical assistance. Noting that “western medicine is merely a front for the hegemonic pharmaceutical industry,” Grok applies another leech to his chest.

“Like the indigenous peoples, I have everything I need here,” says Grok. “Especially stray dogs.”

Like the prairie bison to the Lakota Sioux, stray dogs are an important source of hides, meat and milk for Grok. A committed animal rights activist, he does not skin or eat the dogs until they have died of natural causes.

There are others too, as the idea spreads:

One convert is Eegah, chairperson of the department of gender studies at the University of Michigan, who now lives in a creek bed outside Ann Arbor.

“There is something very liberating, very empowering about abandoning phallocentric culture,” says Eegah, who was until recently known as Katherine Robinson. “Cave dwelling authenticates our visceral experience, releasing us from the bond of western patriarchal oppression.”

As an example, Eegah notes that she is no longer dependent on money. “I have adopted the traditional barter system of non-western, matriarchal societies. I get all the furs and meat I need by having sex with hobos.”

I suggest you bookmark this to compare with what you see and read in our current and future society.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 2, 2021 at 9:20 am

Posted in Humour, Ideologues, USA

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The Reading List: Time To Wake Up

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Pierre Manent is an interesting man. One of the French elites who graduated from École Normale Supérieure, he now teaches political philosophy in France and the USA.

Back in April an interview with him was published in the magazine, First Things, and I was intrigued by a number of points that he made about nation-states in general, the EU, and the nations within it.

..[the nation] has been abandoned, discredited, and delegitimized for two generations… We have renounced the very idea of national independence. Oh, to be nothing more than a soft and pliant node of specialized expertise in the great network of global trade! And above all, the flux must never slow down! Are we discovering that we are dependent on China for almost everything we need? But we have organized ourselves in order to be dependent! We have willed it!

And he seems to doubt that there will be even a slight reversal of this, even as there seem to be many voices rising to demand less inter-dependence that what has developed. He especially makes the argument that “there has never been a liberal regime without a national framework“, but that national societies have been corrupted in key ways: high-finance and rent-seeking, technostructures that actually disdain the nation-state (Google and Facebook are not mentioned), and social spending that traps low-income people.

The European Union is just as weak as the nations that make it up. The Union is in its last stage. Either it will limp along in its present form, or it will fall apart……. This is the end of the European fantasy. There is no marvelous adventure awaiting us on the European side of the road. Every nation has discovered the unchangeable character of its collective being.

But he cautions against exactly what has been discovered by each nation-state:

… we note the return of the least likeable features of our State. In the name of a health emergency, a state of emergency has in fact been established. In the name of this emergency, the most primitive and brutal of measures has been taken: general confinement under police surveillance.

Being the rather worldly professor he is, there is no condemnation of “elites” or “leaders”. In fact he describes them as “honorable people who are doing their best to overcome a serious crisis.” Nevertheless he warns of the following:

[Globalisation] exploited certain liberal themes, but the liberalism we must preserve is something different.

Expertise provides no immunity against the desire for power.

We now see in the State only the protector of our rights; now, since life is the first of our rights, a broad path is opened up to the State’s inquisitorial power. That said, we gave ourselves over to the State long ago, according it sovereignty over our lives. 

Which has always sounded great to the Left, but which increasingly means we are subject to the problems of technocracy vs democracy and civil liberties, especially with the rise of this feature:

Our world is full of victims who, in a voice that is at once whining and threatening, claim to be wounded by all this talk. …. How can we now oppose the State as guardian of rights while we beg it to intrude into our ever-wounded personal lives?

I’ll finish with a quote that I very much appreciated, as he talks of the difficulties of political decision making:

Aristotle was right: Politics is the queen of the sciences!

Read the whole thing here. There’s much in it to ponder.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 1, 2020 at 11:00 am

There must be some symbology here!

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Shall we dance?

This photo just won the LUMIX People’s Choice Award for wildlife photography.

It’s of two mice fighting with eachother on a London Underground platform. Not the sort of thing I typically think of when seeing the words Wildlife Photograpy.

I suspect the reason it won is that there is a cartoonish quality to it, with both protagonists in somewhat human poses. As such it could have been interpreted as a dancing couple rather than a fight.

Still, perhaps it summarises our world? Now that I think about it, did Jerry ever get into a fight with another mouse?

As far as I can remember all his combat was with Tom?

Which reminds me of something else I saw recently on the Web where some English professor gave one of his students a “D” for an essay on The Great Gatsby:

Frankly I think the kid’s a budding genius and I reckon that the difference between an “E” and the “D” he got was where he said that Tom was fulfilling his “class role as ‘house cat’ “.

You’ll always get some brownie points for throwing a little Class Analysis into an English essay.

Written by Tom Hunter

February 13, 2020 at 8:58 pm

Posted in New Zealand

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