Hello there! You’ve stumbled onto (or into) my blog. I have some fascinating things to share, but if you don’t find yourself a fan of history, bizarre steampunk fantasies, wargaming, or controversial opinions, turn back now. My view of history is based on sources from multiple perspectives, my fiction writing is dark and convoluted, and my opinions tend to be expressed with ludicrous amounts of sarcasm. You have been warned.
I know at least some of you reading this actually had the unpleasant experience of growing up in the Soviet Union, so you already know just how vicious the “sheep” can be. Personally, I hate the term “sheep” to describe statist bootlicks, I prefer to call them “lemmings.” Anyway, while it wasn’t my intent to write another editorial for a while, there was another bit of toxic e-drama that I simply must address. While it may be in bad form for me to publish a series of private messages, I’d say that the person whom I was in contact with doesn’t deserve privacy if he’s not even going to give me the time of day over what I share, so screw decorum, Andrew Campbell is going to be made an example of. Pity, I thought we’d be good friends. We had our first interaction in the comments section of this post. I can’t see any of his comments anymore, because he’s blocked me. Well, I guess he’ll never see my scathing take of him, either! No matter, our initial interaction, which was entirely cordial (though he was clearly on edge the entire time, probably because of Chris Bulcock’s mild jab at millennials) is not relevant to the point that I’m going to make today. I’ll just get straight to our private interaction, and share my conclusions at the end.
Andrew: So, thanks for the interest in seeing my personal shop. It’s a work in progress, not very photogenic, so I don’t show it off really. I work in a prototype shop, but my personal tools are high precision manual things. I work toward making a watch entirely from scratch. I’ve had the skill to do this for a while, but finding the machines (or rather, affording them) was an issue for a time. The day job pays my bills and makes me better at my own work, which has never paid much privately- but my equipment was mainly meant for my own odd ends. I have very little about my career as a machinist on here, just never felt the need to show it all. I’ve an instagram where I’m gradually opening up a little about some of it. Just always been a private individual. If you’re truly curious, feel free to chat sometime, I’ll answer questions.
Me: I understand. My own shop is a bit of a mess at the moment, and my machines need some work, but I’m slowly getting it into presentable condition in between odd maintenance projects. I’m a rather private individual myself, but I find it necessary to share more and more of my personal projects in order to “market” my skills. I have a few interesting things to share in the near future, so maybe those will give us something to chat about.
Andrew: Actually, I just opened linked in, and first thing I see is a post from you, so I click it.
Me: Ah, in that case, beware the hot takes that I occasionally put out. My editorial blog automatically cross-posts to LinkedIn.
Andrew: Leads me to a page mocking science and masks, and antivaxxer bullshit. So, the first impression I have of you is this. Good luck, I have no desire to interact with idiots like this anymore. It’s not even political at this point it’s just downright human stupidity at this point
And this is why I don’t do much on LinkedIn
Good luck to you hope reality doesn’t catch up to you I hear it leads to intubation. I’m just not even tolerating people like you anymore I’ve had enough more than enough
Sincerely I hope you remain safe but I’m not tolerating this crap anymore
Me: I said “beware the hot takes.” Not everything I share is something I agree with, sometimes I share stuff that I disagree with in order to make a point.
That was just a dodge that I made in attempt to get him to calm down, but it didn’t work.
Andrew: If someone’s first interaction with you isn’t an immediate clarification that this is not what you believe it’s not a good way to present yourself
LinkedIn is a professional Network
I would normally never speak this candidly to someone on here but this is so blatant I draw the line so if this is what you believe this is what I believe so I am going to be blunt about it
If this is not what you believe clarify pretty quick or you have lost the connection
If someone wants to present themself with this information this is what crazy areas of Facebook are for not a professional Network
Me: Correction: LinkedIn is SUPPOSED TO BE a professional network. It’s been devolving into a social media cesspit lately. At first, it was a few people sharing some memes for the laughs (I do this with my friends all the time) but some people take it too far. I’m sorry if you got the wrong impression from my feed, but I can only type so fast in my defense.
Andrew: I will listen to your explanation of what this is supposed to be
To me this looks like you support the opposite of science and reason and you seem to be thankful someone shared this with you so my impression is this is what you believe
If I have this wrong feel free to explain but that’s what it looks like to me
Me: Right. Here it is: I have two different blogs, one on WordPress, one on Hive. My WordPress blog automatically cross-posts to LinkedIn. My Hive blog does not. If I think a post on Hive, whether one of my own or from someone I follow, is particularly amusing (for the record, I have quite a few connections who are scientists who work in the vaccine industry, including my own father) or informative, I manually cross-post it here.
Andrew: This does not clarify your view on this.
Because this has come up, I will ask you directly- is this what you believe? Are you an antivaxxer or think covid is overblown?
Me: I’m pro-vax, but anti-mandate. I think CoVID is real, but I think that the government is going overboard on the response and exploiting the crisis to gain more power (maybe that’s just my Slavic paranoia, but whatever).
Andrew: Family has caught this. Family has nearly died. It matters.
Me: I was born [in] the [former] USSR. Public welfare was the excuse for every tyrannical diktat. This matters.
Granted, I was too young to actually remember the Soviet Union, but my parents have told me all about it.
That’s a lie, my parents didn’t tell me a damn thing about life in the Soviet Union, I studied it by reading extensively, but I was in a hurry to type a defense before the next message came through. The only people who have actually told me about life under the Soviet system in personal conversations have been Tatiana Nastashenko and Natalia Vinogradova, neither of whom I’m related to… as far as I know 😉
Andrew: Yes I think I see where this is going
For the record my best friend was also born in the USSR. And he fled to America because it was a shit hole where he couldn’t even buy bread
Apparently he grasped reality and recognized what you don’t. He became an engineer and a successful man and takes science seriously because he remembers what the country he came from was like.
I pity you a great deal
Me: And what don’t I recognise?
Andrew: Reality and everything that comes with it apparently like basic science.
Goodbye I am not wasting my time with someone like you
Me: Be more specific, please. I actually take science very seriously. Both of my parents are scientists, and I intended to become a scientist before going into engineering. [message not sent, connection terminated]
As of this conversation (all of my interactions involving Andrew took place within the span of 12 hours), the most recent post on my LinkedIn feed was a link to a collection of memes that one of my friends shared on Hive. I think the post was fairly innocuous, but apparently, it was quite triggering to poor Andrew, who began typing at an absolutely alarming rate (at least thrice as fast as I can, and I’m no slouch at a keyboard). For the record, I anticipate a strong reaction from almost anyone who views my blog, even without knowing what my most recent post is, for the simple reason that I’ve been aware for quite some time that my opinions are unpopular. However, this I have no words for. Maybe this is just my own social ineptitude rearing its ugly head again, or maybe this is just a microcosm of mass psychosis. To me, this seems to echo the interaction between myself, Yelena Rakhimov, and the vicious “scientist” Wales Nematollahi, which I’ve already covered.
Of course, if I really DO come across as an anti-science nutjob, PLEASE TELL ME NOW. I’ll have some retractions to make, but if my attempt to remain rational and moderate is making me come across as an extremist… well, I don’t know WHAT to do. Maybe I should just stop writing, since it gets me into trouble.
Arrogance and hypocrisy are two things I despise above all else, and Bracing Views offers an abundant supply of both. It has been over a year since I unsubscribed from that blog, mainly because I was sick of the vitriol in the comments section, which gave even Twitter a run for its money in terms of how juvenile it was, though still not quite as vile as LinkedIn has become as of late. I took a peek at it the other day, and it’s not nearly as bad as I remember – it’s worse, and I haven’t even looked at the comments yet.
For those of you who came over from Hive to read my editorials, you may not be aware, but Bill Astore and I have quite a history. He is my former history professor, and was easily my favourite instructor while I was in college. I liked him so much, I made it a point to take as many courses that he taught as possible. However, I was a communist back then, and I’m not quite sure if it’s just because I’ve done a total 180 on my socio-political beliefs since my teen-age years, or because he’s been dragged so far left by his own audience (as well as corporate propaganda masquerading as independent journalism) that he’s completely lost the plot, or both, but I’ve since lost all respect for the colonel. Oh, we still agree on some things, but only for the same reason that even a broken clock is right twice a day. To be clear, I am aware that the vast majority of his posts are dedicated to lambasting the MICC (Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex), something which I whole-heartedly agree with, but while we identify similar problems with modern society, our ideal solutions to them are polar opposites, and the fundamental underpinnings of those solutions are irreconcilable, as they are rooted in totally incompatible philosophies.
I once asked Astore what his actual position on the political compass was. He didn’t answer, instead stating a handful of cherry-picked policies that he supports, all of which were vaguely socialistic. I told him “I won’t call you a socialist, I know better than that.” I hereby retract that statement. He is a socialist, and there are no two ways about it. He is either too cowardly or too dishonest to admit it, but he knows what socialism is, and in a relatively recent blog post, he explained precisely why he is, unequivocally, a socialist. In his “dream vision” for the US (live version here, archived version here), he espouses all four facets of a socialist society: government monopoly of key industries, a welfare state with an emphasis on universal healthcare, price controls, and wage controls (both minimum and maximum – specifically, he envisions a country where there is no such thing as a billionaire, because all wealth is redistributed, or “equitably distributed,” in his own words). He also says, in no uncertain terms, that he believes these principles to be “neither right nor left,” but simply “reasonable.” Reasonable or not, these ARE left-wing economic policies, these are socialist policies, and he knows as much, so he is either trapped inside a narrow, far-left Overton window without realising it (unlikely), or he is trying to deliberately drag the broader Overton window to the far left. He knows bloody well what socialism is, and therefore should simply embrace the label of “socialist,” after all, his most vocal followers all have.
Of course, I would argue that socialism is not a reasonable position. It sounds good, it appeals to people’s emotions, but it simply doesn’t work. I, personally, would like to see none of it, but I will concede that some parts of it can work. The Nordic model, for instance, has universal healthcare (and the necessary high taxes to pay for it), but no minimum wage, and closed borders (except for Sweden, but that’s why Sweden is failing, while Norway and Denmark are still successful). So, colonel, if you are actually reading this, I challenge you: explain to me precisely how your ideal society could actually function. I don’t think you’ve actually thought this through, but you’ve either been blinded by the glowing approval of your socialist sycophants, or you simply live in a land of make-believe even more than you think. You’re going to have to do better with me. I suggest that you come up with a make-believe budget for your make-believe America, and then explain precisely how you will get anyone to agree to it; I’m serious, show me your mathematics. Since you like Star Wars quotes so much, here’s one for you: when I left you, I was but the learner, now I am the master. Of course, I have since abandoned Star Wars and graduated to the much more nuanced, morally grey, grimdark 40K, so, ah, for lack of better rhetoric in favour of a cheap internet reference, git gud scrub.
And now, I turn to my friends from Hive, though the broader audience may find some of the following paragraph to be insightful as well. If you haven’t gathered by now, Bracing Views is a far-left echo chamber, and echo chambers of any persuasion are dangerous. Without genuinely diverse opinions (as opposed to artificially diverse opinions), extremist ideas fester and proliferate, unbeknownst to wider society. But of course, I am preaching to the choir, because we are all in favour of free speech, and of planting the seeds of liberty in the minds of those fettered to the religion of statism. Do not be fooled, Astore and his socialist sycophants may despise the current political establishment, as do we, but not all revolutionaries are created equal; they are not anarchists, libertarians, classical liberals, or even modern liberals, they are authoritarian collectivists (Astore himself has repeatedly denounced “rugged individualism,” thus repeating the main underpinning of Marxism, and, by extension, Critical Race Theory). Allowing this sort of system to take hold has grave ramifications, after all, and speaking of broken clocks, communist historical revisionist Howard Zinn once said “the greatest atrocities in history have not been the result of disobedience, but obedience.” It’s funny how socialists love freedom when they’re not the ones in power, but they are far more tyrannical than their enemies when they are in power.
I once thought Bill Astore honestly believed what he espoused, and that’s fine, because it’s possible to have an honest discussion with someone like that, and maybe find some redeeming qualities in someone who holds beliefs that you may find repugnant, and also find some genuine common ground. After all, someone who is honest about their beliefs is probably open-minded enough to change their mind. However, if someone lies about their own position, regardless of the motive, they are definitely not open to the possibility of changing their mind. The colonel may claim to dislike the militarisation of America, the veneration of soldiers, and the glorification of war, but his solution, hypocritically enough, is to return to the bad old days of conscription, which is blatantly unconstitutional for a good reason (and first implemented by the same president that began the policy of international interventionism). Astore once proposed a form of conscription for civilian activities in society, and while I’ve recently said my piece about the inseparable nature of collectivism and militarism, at the time, I wrote an article playing devil’s advocate on the idea that “service guarantees citizenship,” in which I tried to get everyone to expand on this idea as a thought exercise, but curiously, everyone clammed up as soon as I published it, and Astore himself immediately back-peddled on his own proposal (though he still thinks military conscription should be restored, live article here, archived version here, point № 9). Clearly, the colonel and his bootlicks aren’t interested in a genuine discussion about how society should function, probably because they know that the ideas presented in Bracing Views are so bad, they wouldn’t even stand up to a simple Socratic thought experiment. I found the cowardice annoying at the time, but I excused it. Now, however, I find it both inexcusable and utterly infuriating. Is Astore just being totally disingenuous so that he can accumulate followers (in other words, a grifter like his idol Bernie Sanders, profiting off the popularity of vapid progressivism)? Unless he had a stroke and completely lost his mind, I doubt it, considering how stubborn he is when it comes to his “principles,” and his thoughts are, to say the least, coherent. Is this blog just a far-left circle-jerk where grumpy old Marxists can simply vent their frustration about their constant defeat at the hands of the neoliberal political establishment, and that the proletariat would much rather join the “far right” (whatever the fuck the “far right” actually is) rather than the glorious revolution? Perhaps, but that doesn’t make it harmless, as anyone who is familiar with the incel phenomenon knows where that ultimately leads, and I know that at least one of Astore’s regular commenters is already an Antifa sympathiser.
I have no idea where I’m going with this. I simply can’t predict what sort of response I’m going to get, though I will say this: Bill, if you thought that my article was unnecessarily harsh, then you need to spend more time around Russians, because I received a similarly harsh response, albeit not quite so verbose, when I tried to discuss my own brand of Lysenkoist feminism with Soviet defector Natalia Vinogradova (not sure if I ever mentioned her to you, but it’s of no consequence either way). I could offer a series of pre-emptive rebuttals to any number of responses that I expect to receive, but I’d rather not waste my time over-preparing for a debate that I may not even have. Besides, I’m considerably quicker-witted than I was during my college days. I once thought that Bracing Views was an intellectual space, where people valued free thought, were open to to all ideas, and were civil and honest to each other in their discussions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Honestly, I feel betrayed. Perhaps that is my own bloody fault, for turning away from communism, but I still can’t help but lament that I thought there was openness to all ideas, “right” and “left.” However, I have new friends, and I’ve gotten a lot better at both serious writing and shitposting. Hunting season has begun, so if I can’t bag some whitetails in the woods, perhaps I’ll bag some midwits on the internet. Either way, it’s time to have some fun.
Rift storms are not the weather of the world. They are unnatural phenomena that twist reality and spread madness. They vary so widely in intensity that particularly severe thunderstorms are sometimes mistaken for mild rift storms, at least by those who are familiar with this little-known aspect of Rossberan occult.
Rift storms get their name from the fact that they are supposed to be tears in the fabric of reality, portals to the realm of chaos, the Great Void of Everything and Nothing. In chaos worship, it is said that every now and then, the primordial powers get bored with reality, open a rift, and toss out something of their own creation into the material world. Neticine crystals are said to be products of the Great Void, rather than of the natural world, but they are just one example. Since chaos worship all but disappeared by the time of the Great Rossberan War, such stories were extremely rare, and the stories surrounding the rift storms themselves all but disappeared. Still, the most undaunted occultists eventually put the pieces together.
There are four primary aspects to chaos: rage, resilience, evolution, and passion. Depending on the sect of chaos worship one examines, these concepts could be bent a bit: war, fire, and blood all stand for rage, pestilence and endless cycles of static karma both stand for resilience, fate and magic both stand for evolution, and passion could be any number of other emotions that don’t fit with the other three aspects of chaos. There is little rhyme or reason to how these might fit within the overarching concept, after all, this is chaos, and in addition to the four primary aspects, there are either four or five secondary aspects, which is why chaos is represented by an eight or nine-pointed star (eight is much more common) with points of different lengths. These ideas are vaguely connected to rift storms based on what sort of events may follow them, for instance, the great plague that swept over the lands of Skhara in the wake of Castle Holgar’s fall.
I believe I’ve written about this before, but just in case I haven’t, Skhara fell after the castles of the noble houses were raided, one by one, as the country descended into complete anarchy, following two centuries of decadence and decay. As the raiders grew in number, closing in on Holgar, a storm began to brew right over the massive citadel. The gates were broken down and the citadel sacked, and at some point during the mayhem, the magazines containing the supply of dark fire were ignited, blowing off the top floors of the citadel and the ceiling to the great hall. Columns of dark blue flames reached into the black clouds above the ruined citadel, and almost in response to the happenings on the ground, the sky erupted, becoming laced with lightning. The clouds spread all over Skhara, bringing with them a malevolent plague that killed most animals and a good amount of plant life as well. Wherever the plague ravaged the land, a creature known only as the Night’s Dragon could be seen flying overhead. The Night’s Dragon was rumoured to be a daemon that the Skharnovs bound inside their citadel to give them power, and the raid on Castle Holgar unleashed the creature. There was a tiny grain of truth to these rumours, but for the most part, the Night’s Dragon wasn’t the bearer or herald of the great plague, merely an observer. Since no-one ever figured out what the source of the plague was, or even what disease so indiscriminately ravaged the Skharan lands, occultists came to the conclusion that the plague of Skhara was no natural event, but a rift storm, albeit an extremely brief one. There were legends of storms that lasted for centuries, some of them recent enough that there was some real history to corroborate them.
The two halves of the Rhûnnish Empire, later known as Alexandria and Okseetia, were separated by a mountain range. There are three gaps in this otherwise impassible mountain range, places were the mountains are low enough that the terrain is easily traversible, at least on foot. For some unknown reason, there is a portion of the central gap where the tectonic plates, rather than buckling upward to create a mountain range, buckled downward to create a massive valley. As one might expect, this valley slowly filled with sediment deposited by runoff, creating a lowland region known as Bezdnya, which literally means “without day,” because shadows from all directions kept the lowlands in perpetual darkness, but is also nearly identical to the Rhûnnish word for “chasm.” In addition to the perpetual darkness, Bezdnya also tended to accumulate cold air descending off the mountains, and therefore was almost always covered in thick fog. This alone was reason enough to avoid the region, but to make matters worse, thunderclouds gathered above the region with remarkable frequency and almost no warning. It was said that the slightest disturbance would cause a massive wall of black clouds to appear out of nowhere above Bezdnya, and the flashes of lightning would be visible up to fifteen leagues away. For over a millennium, those who dwelt in central Rhun, specifically just north of Krivs or the Velikipust, lived forever in the eerie shadow of the intangible wall. The only comfort that they had were the espers.
In central Rhûnnish folklore, espers are said to be those who descend from the unfortunate souls who were caught in the storm the very first time it appeared. The legend goes that when the storm first appeared over Bezdnya, it engulfed everything within the lowlands and twisted it into a vile, corrupt form of what it once was. The people fled, but everywhere they went, were treated as monsters because of how disfigured they were. What the storm’s survivors lacked in aesthetics, however, they made up for with newfound magical powers. Whether from compassion or coercion, some people interbred with the disfigured people, and the offspring were called espers. The magical abilities of espers persisted throughout the family, and for this reason, esper families largely kept to themselves. Ordinary folk kept their distance out of fear for the unknown, but remained somewhat thankful to the espers for their regular rituals to keep the storms of Bezdnya from getting worse or spreading. Ironically, when the Rhûnnish Empire split in half, the storms dissipated, and only the shadow and fog remained in Bezdnya, thus removing part of the natural border between Alexandria and Okseetia. The espers quietly faded from common folklore and local religion to one of the most esoteric occult terms. Since Bezdnya remained a place that no-one wanted to visit, the true version of events that inspired the old legends remained completely unknown for another three centuries. At least, this was the case until occultists started finally asking “what happened to the espers, if they even existed?”
Legends of espers were never widespread, but instead in localised pockets scattered over Rossbera, always in relatively remote areas that were known for supernatural phenomena. Another important example was the legend of the Ma Xin dynasty, the last dynasty of Minkutian Emperors, more commonly known as the dynasty of sorcerers. Though it was widely believed that the sorcerers did not have any real magical powers, and that they simply displayed elaborate parlour tricks in order to dupe the Minkutian people, Jenůfa Nószimål, who was present at the sacking of Sing Yat San, seemed to think otherwise. Nószimål later became acquainted with the espers of Rhûn, though despite her on-and-off obsession with the local legends, she never figured out what the true nature of Bezdnya was. She came close, but most of what she wrote about the Rossberan supernatural disappeared when the Rhûnnish Empire fell, presumable stolen by former inquisitors who later formed the Stalwart Order of the Iron Rose. The Order of the Iron Rose, which operated all over Rossbera, effectively had total control over what manner of occult knowledge was available. Anything to do with “real” magic, they guarded jealously, and this led to conflicts with another secret organisation: the Zigidzt Society, which controlled information about other secret organisations, keeping them as well-hidden from governments as possible – assuming that they payed their dues. Between the tension with the Zigidzt Society, the rise of proletarian collectivism (an ideology which opposed guilds and guild-like secret societies “gatekeeping” knowledge), and the resurgence of chaos worship, around the time that the Great Rossberan War began, all the secrets started to unravel. This would be this time that mythology and reality would finally be separated.
Sorry to end this little bit of lore on a cliffhanger, but I’m still working this part out. Most of the “magic” in this world is just superstition, so I have yet to figure out how much of this is real, and how much is just weaponised mythology. The motif of this story is supposed to be steampunk, not gaslamp fantasy.
Last night, I had a very strange dream about finding out that I hadn’t heard from a very good friend of mine (whom I sometimes refer to as my “sister,” incidentally, because reasons) for so many years because she had died in childbirth. I’m not sure why, nor am I sure why it immediately reminded me of the play “Our Town,” but it gave me the idea to expand on two criticisms that I have of that theatrical travesty.
When I first read the play almost twenty years ago, I summed up my thoughts about it as such: no-one [in Grover’s Corners] ever really died, because no-one ever really lived. Of course, the plot of the play is only part of the problem, so I’ll stick a pin in that and come back to it later. For now, I’d like to rip apart the setting, or rather, lack thereof. The premise of the play is that there are no props and no setting, so as “not to distract from the character interactions,” which I would argue only shows just how shallow and boring said character interactions are, but I digress. For me personally, I find the lack of setting and props has the opposite effect, breaking any sense of immersion, and combined with the fact that the stage manager is the main character in the play, albeit one who doesn’t interact with the rest of the cast, merely exacerbates that problem. The fact that characters pretend to interact with objects that aren’t there is even more jarring, to the point where I was tempted to scream “oh, for fuck’s sake, give her a real basket and some goddamned string beans!”
I don’t think that I need to elaborate on my criticisms of the play. I am not enough of a pompous windbag to be able to stretch out what I’ve already said into a thousand words (the typical length of an undergraduate level essay assignment) without simply levelling a litany of insults at it. On the opposite side of that very same coin, I am not the type of person who simply complains. I’m an engineer, so when I see a problem, I want to fix it. Since I’ve also gotten a lot better at storytelling, and writing in general, since I was twelve, I’m going to attempt to outline a story with the same basic plot as “Our Town,” but in such a way as to make it into a coherent and engaging story, rather than the shortest, cheapest and most infuriating insomnia cure ever written (either that, or a deliberately shoddy propaganda piece intended to make people hate small-town America… you can probably tell where my mind has been lately).
First of all, the setting needs to be rich, rather than absent. For starters, the fictional town of Grover’s Corners is the most boring place on earth, where nothing happens. Either change the town’s backstory, or set the story in a real town, because any real town, no matter how small, has a far richer history than Grover’s Corners. Second, rather than a dry introduction by a series of disinterested narrators, open with a slideshow or something like that, a timelapse through the centuries, perhaps, that depicts how the town got to the way it was. In other words, show, don’t tell. A picture is worth a thousand words, but then, I already summed up the entire play in only a hundred. Third, if the intent for the play was a “slice of life” type of narrative, then realistically, it would include some sort of conflict, gossip, or banter between the characters. What we see instead are shallow, vapid, perfectly polite one-dimensional conversations between unfeeling automatons pretending to be human.
It’s hard to say where the introduction ends and act one truly begins. After all, the writing is poor and disjointed; Thornton Wilder is hardly on the same level as Karel Čapek or William Shakespeare, and I will continue to get my cathartic digs in as I try to offer constructive criticism (this play really is awful). Since acts two and three focus primarily on George and Emily, then the introductory narration can end as soon as those two are introduced, following a montage of all the other main characters. Speaking of main characters, the stage manager is getting written out of my version – he (or she) can stay off the stage and out of sight, unless, of course, the stage manager can lay on some thick sarcasm, like so:
Our story takes place in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, 40 degrees north, 70 degrees west, which is actually in Massachusetts, but hey, details. It should stand to reason that this fictional town be impossible, because nowhere in even New England is as insufferably boring as Grover’s Corners, a place so polite and dull that all the children act like middle-aged men who have resigned themselves to being whipping boys for their fat and psychopathic wives [cue the snickering from the handful of Pink Floyd fans who understood that reference].
Now then, whose voice would be most appropriate for that delivery: the snooty judge from Futurama, Peter Griffin, or Ben Stein? Seriously, at this point we have two options: defile the solemnity of the original play by turning it into the verbal equivalent of slapstick, or keep the boring story, but dress it up and make it more immersive. I could write this critique in the “choose your own adventure” format, but I think it would be better if I just re-wrote the entire play twice. Of course, it is important to note that Wilder wrote “Our Town” almost purely out of spite, since American theatre was in quite a sorry state in the 1930s, for obvious reasons. Then again, if this is the greatest American play ever written, then I doubt American theatre was ever any good – but maybe that’s just my Shakespearean bias becoming self-aware and soliloquising.
Since act one is basically one long character sketch with no plot whatsoever, I think it pertinent to move the flashback from act two to the end of act one, and maybe elaborate on it. As I said, unless the stage manager is going to make things interesting, he shouldn’t be in the damn play, and the main characters should be George and Emily.
Act two is the most infuriating to me. I’ve never been involved in a romantic relationship, but even I know that people who are madly in love do not even attempt to rationalise their actions, much less actually behave rationally. If George and Emily are in love, they would not both get cold feet at the same time. If they aren’t in love, both believe they aren’t ready for marriage, but decide to get married anyway, what’s the reason? All I can think of is the pressure by “society” to do so, and there is no dissenting voice, nothing at all to dissuade them. Perhaps George could have an elderly relative, or better yet, the jaded church organist, Simon, plant the idea in his head: “listen Georgie, what you call ‘love’ is just a chemical reaction that compels animals to breed; it hits hard, and then slowly fades, leaving you stranded in a failing marriage. I did it, your parents are going to do it, break the cycle Georgie, rise above, forget the farm and go back to school; get out of this one-horse town and never look back.” Alright, alright, maybe not a total ripoff of Rick Sanchez, but at least you can see where I’m going with this. Of course, we already have two characters that are sceptical of marriage, the Crowell brothers, but they aren’t exactly the “wise but cynical old man” types.
Act three has a surreal premise, and a tremendous amount of potential – by which I mean that death has the greatest potential for character development, all of which is wasted in the actual play. The dead are nothing more than transparent versions of their living selves, which should not be. Simon is still a bitter, nihilistic drunk (ok, not really, but wouldn’t it be tremendously entertaining if he were drinking from a whiskey bottle at Emily’s funeral, and all the living onlookers simply see a bottle floating in midair?), and everyone else still has unfinished business, but unable to finish it and find peace… no wonder even the Soviets found this play “too depressing” to be shown in East Berlin. Speaking of the total absence of character development, the rest of the final act is devoted to Emily revisiting her twelfth birthday… WHY?! What’s the point of these pointless flashbacks, other than to illustrate that all of these characters are sentimental children? Again, this I think can be fixed with a little dark humour. The blasé line of “how’d she die? Oh, had a bit of trouble bringing a babe into the world” (“a bit of trouble,” understatement of the year) gives me an idea: ghost Emily holds up a ghost baby and hisses: “you killed me, you ungrateful brat” in the same style as Markus Meechan telling his pug “you ruined my life.” Maybe you don’t find this funny, but always remember my favourite Stalin quote: “dark humour is like food, not everyone gets it.” Since act three is all about death, the possibilities are endless to make it both entertaining and insightful.
I have no idea where I’m going with this. My own thoughts are becoming a bit disjointed trying to critique this disjointed non-story. Maybe I’ll revisit this idea at some point. For now, I have my own fiction writing to return to.
“The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths; anything that is inconsistent with the facts must be either discarded or revised.” – Carl Sagan
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell
Scientists are supposed to be open-minded and stand for truth, rather than stubbornly attach themselves to a one-sided narrative. Science is supposed to be politically neutral, but when scientific institutions and their individual members become politicised, then “science” can no longer be trusted. Anyone who says “the science is settled” does not stand up for actual science. Science is a process, not a result, and therefore may never be settled. The closest statement that one can make that would be accurate is “the evidence is incontrovertible,” and even that is somewhat misleading. The more we study anything, the more complicated we find out that it is, without exception. Nothing in science allows its practitioners to stop studying and start preaching. Unfortunately, “science” communicators overwhelmingly reject these ideas, instead picking a narrative, finding studies that seem to support it, and ignoring any studies that are inconvenient to it. Actual scientists remain silent, because they are too busy working, and the public face of science is that of biased socio-political narratives. This process will serve only to undermine science, and set society back as a result. When individuals with scientific backgrounds or titles engage in this sort of anti-scientific behaviour, it further undermines science, and feeds into the grander anti-science narrative that “science is a religion, too,” and ultimately paves the way for society to trade rationalism for ideological dogma.
I have written about this phenomenon before on the subject of climate change, and also mentioned a video about anti-evolution pseudo-science in the Soviet Union, so I won’t go into details about it here. Both of those subjects deserve their own articles, but this one is going to be a bit long anyway, as it is an addendum to my last editorial. The conversation on Haley Lawrence’s LinkedIn post keep going and going, and it revealed to me about the vaccine argument exactly what I saw about the climate argument: both sides are firmly convinced that the other is not only biased, but deliberately peddling fake data. In the case of the climate argument, this is demonstrable on both sides: those who claim that climate change is a myth are working with skewed data provided by the fossil fuel industry, meanwhile those who claim that climate change is an existential threat are exaggerating their numbers in order to scare people into action. The Green New Deal, incidentally, is such an obvious NIMBYist grift that it’s been disavowed by its own architect, and will probably never again see the light of day. There is no honesty on either side of the climate change argument, and both extreme positions outright reject the middle ground, occupied by actual climate scientists. The same is true of the vaccine argument, at least in the Anglosphere. You already know my position on vaccines (I think vaccines are a net benefit and people should take them, but should they not be mandated by the government, and no vaccine is 100% safe) and on freedom of speech (no speech should be prohibited, but people should be allowed to choose what they are exposed to), so, without further ado, some more degeneracy on display.
When I went back through the comment thread to retrieve relevant comments, there was something that struck me as odd:
Wales Nematollahi (replying to Steve Mccullough): I had over 6 years in the Army. IMO their sorry AR-15s don’t cut it either.
No army that I know of uses the AR-15 – it’s a civilian sporting rifle designed to look like a military weapon. I already had enough reason to believe that Wales is a liar, but this is undeniable proof: he’s never served in any military if he thinks that the AR-15 is a military weapon. Hell, I’ve never served in the military (though I was a Civil Air Patrol cadet and a Mitchell recipient), and even I know that!
The vast majority of the comments posted were of Yelena Rakhimov posting links to articles about CoVID deaths, vaccine efficacy rates, and vaccine injuries, while Wales and Steve simply dismissed them all. I noticed a pattern, and you can still visit the original post as of me writing this article, but I’m going to save my particularly damning observation until the very end. Here’s the part where things get interesting.
Yelena (replying to Steve): I thought you are a truth consultant. Oh well, I’ll keep digging.
Steve’s profile says “self-employed at Truthconsulting,” in case you either didn’t notice, or simply didn’t both to read the thread for yourself.
Steve: good comment. Don’t agree with killing babies and I’m not a truth teller…
“I’m not a truth teller”? Was that a Freudian slip on Steve’s part?
Wales (replying to Miguel Saldana, whom I have not mentioned before):
Join the club. I’m a biologist and a certified medical technologist with extensive experience in microbiology, including clinical microbiology and biodefense. When I see “stats” that are presented in a way that implies we should accept them as faith, I ask for sources or citations.
Yelena Rakhimov presented a YouTube font of misinformation; most non-scientists who are anti-vaccines or otherwise anti science act as if Tucker Carlson, sone YouTube presentation, or anyone else “confirming” their biases is as good or better than scientific research. In my eyes, anti-science is pseudoscience, pseudophilosophy, and pseudo religion.
First, I have no reason to believe that any of Wales’s credentials are real. Judging by his profile picture, he’s certainly old enough to have achieved all those things, but he’s already lost his credibility with me, since he’s gullible enough to uncritically believe that all online platforms outside of the Silicon Valley mainstream are “far right echo chambers,” and his inane comment about the AR-15 basically clinched it. Second, he claims that statistics are not to be trusted – this means nothing, since everyone knows that statistics can be manipulated to support whatever narrative you want, so this is just a red herring. Third, he claims to ask for sources or citations, but what he actually does is dismiss everything that’s thrown at him as biased propaganda. Fourth, YouTube videos are not primary sources – all honest content creators, including YouTubers, include primary sources in the video description or a pinned comment, which he would know if he actually watched any. Fifth, to say that anti-science is pseudoscience is redundant, but to call it “pseudophilosophy” and “pseudo-religion” is totally nonsensical – there is no such thing as a false philosophy, only flawed ones, any flawed philosophy as called “sophistry,” as I have already discussed, and most philosophies are either scientific or religious in their structure, so I think Wales is just trying to throw out as many buzzwords as possible in a vain attempt to make himself seem intellectually superior. Are you starting to see a pattern yet? When Yelena provided a link in a comment that has since been deleted, here’s the reponse she got:
Wales: I’ve already dismissed [Robert] Malone. Since you use Telegram — and Inknoe what’s on Telegram — are you a White supremacist?
Yelena: could you clarify what white supremacist is? Can jews fall into this category? I’m a bit confused with all this liberal classifications. For centuries jews were oppressed and now are we still oppressed or opressors?
Me (replying to Yelena):
Jews are only a protected minority if we have the correct politics; the same is true of blacks and other ethnicities that are minorities in western nations. Then again, I’m fairly certain that being Russian cancels everything else out. You could be a transgender Asian Muslim, but if you were born in Russia, you are automatically the worst kind of traitor to the left. Bear in mind that Critical Race “Theory” is just a smokescreen for authoritarian socialism. Not Soviet Communism per se (even though it was Leon Trotsky who coined the term “racism” to begin with), but a very similar system that relies on ideological purity.
Also, remember that any platform that is not part of Silicon Valley or that is explicitly in favour of free speech is automatically smeared as “far right” or “white supremacist” by the establishment, be it Telegram, Gab, or BitChute, to name a few (two of which I use, and I have yet to encounter any actual white supremacists – plenty of sock puppets POSING as white supremacists, though). Wales tried to pull the same nonsense on me when he brought up 8kun and Parler, neither of which I’ve ever used, and I doubt he has either – he’s probably just regurgitating stuff from ADL hit pieces.
Wales (replying to me): Oh, my! It sounds to me as if you think Whites are persecuted! Am I right? Funny that you stand up for Russians, because your relatives resisted them strongly.
Wales (replying to Yelena): Having some Jewish ancestry I guarantee I follow anti-Semitic incidents, and they have been increasing in the ISA and in Europe. All I did was ask if you’re a White supremacist. All you had to do was say “No.”
Yelena (replying to Wales): how could I answer no if I wasn’t sure if I am? I identify as white. I could probably be white supremacy. Still don’t know who they are. How can one become white supremacy? Are Russians (non-jews) white supremacy?
Yelena (immediate follow-up to the previous reply): oh and why was Larry Elder called black faced white supremacy? This totally threw me off.
Trenton Schwarzer (replying to Yelena): say what?
Yelena (replying to Trenton): provides link to Newsweek article about Larry Elder being called “the black face of white supremacy” and then says oh I know! I’m Jewish face white supremacy. 😂 My first creation of a new classification. 👍
The juvenile mud-slinging continued for quite a while before the conversation got interesting again.
Trenton (replying to Wales, though I can’t seem to find which specific comment):
so you admit it Tyranny is your MO, of course I was figuring that out.
Interesting how you guys totally ignore the fact that these vaccines are only about 40 % effective…
Wales (replying to Trenton): Oh, grow up. Your accusation is projection. I’m certain you believe anyone to the left of you, including normal conservatives, is tyrannical. Oh, why didn’t I answer you East? I have a life outside of social media. Get a life yourself.
Always accuse your enemy of that which you are guilty (projection), including projection itself. This is one layer of hypocrisy on top of another, “fractal hypocrisy,” you could call it! I did mention that the ideological method relies on compound fallacies, after all. For the record, what I find most profoundly telling is that someone who claims to have a life outside of social media is making more comments than anyone else, compulsively responding to absolutely everyone he perceives to be “far right” (he loves that phrase) while also verbally fellating anyone who agrees with him.
Me (replying to Wales’s last response to me): Wow, the strawman-making business is booming! First, NEVER conflate “Russian” with “Soviet.” The Soviets oppressed Russians as much as they oppressed Czechs. Second, despite having a Czech name, it may interest you to know that I was born in St. Petersburg, and I consider myself Russian more than anything else. My ancestry comes from all over the place, and if I tied myself in knots over past injustices the way that you do, I’d have killed myself years ago – my own grandparents probably shot at each other on the Eastern Front. Third, I’m not white enough to be accepted by white supremacists – I’m a Slav, not an Aryan, I’m part Asian, and my mother’s family is Jewish. Aligning myself with white supremacists would go against my own self-interest. But then, CRT sees “white” as a system of classical liberal values, not as a skin colour.
Wales: I don’t tie myself in knots. I’m proud of all my ancestry. You have no clue about me except that you know I’ve not made secular far right wing politics my religion. Are you a supporter of Vladimir Putin?
Me: I’m not dignifying your question with a response, as nothing I say in my defense will change your mind about me, but I WILL say that your constant narcissistic projection of your own quasi-religious adherence to your beliefs, addiction to social media, and sociopathic lack of empathy are all getting really old. You’re proud all right, a little TOO proud for my taste. I think I’m done with you, and with this blasted comment thread. I have better things to do. I’ll give you the last word, that is all.
Wales: You don’t have the credentials to call me sociopathic. If you can’t stand what I post, just block me and go to your far right wing echo chambers on Telegram, 8kun, and other sleazy places on the Internet. LinkedIn allows debate and disagreement. Apparently you can’t handle that.
I gave Wales a chance to redeem himself with one final parting shot – he missed. Instead, he used an argument from authority (saying that someone is wrong because they lack credentials is just as much an argument from authority as saying that someone is right because they have credentials), a strawman (bringing up 8kun, which I clearly told him that I’ve never used), and yet more projection (saying that I can’t handle debate and disagreement).
The fact that Wales acted like a petulant child the entire time, and dismissed all of Yelena’s sources as “from the secular political far right” reminded me of another charlatan with a fake degree who once said to an ideological opponent “that’s not evidence, that’s just a bunch of paper” when presented with peer-reviewed research papers. Are you seeing what I’m getting at yet? Wales Nematollahi sounds almost exactly like Kent Hovind, between the self-aggrandisement, logical fallacies, and name-calling. Am I to believe that this man is a real scientist? His job title may contain the word “scientist,” but he doesn’t act like a scientist. Besides, credentials don’t necessarily mean anything – Kent Hovind has a PhD, but it’s from an unaccredited diploma mill, and his dissertation (which is “private” and available only on Wikileaks) is so laughable that it would receive a failing grade if submitted as an undergraduate level essay exam. Hovind, of course, is the exception, not the rule. However, when the exception becomes the rule, whether in reality or simply by perception, then wider society can no longer trust those who claim to stand for the truth. I like to think that the majority of scientists are open-minded and honest, but I have no way of finding that out. Only the dogmatic and dishonest ones have time to be so vocal. So, the question is, what is Wales’s motive for being an authoritarian shill online and projecting his own hostile nature and addiction to social media onto others? In other words, whose payroll is he on?
If this sort of thing is allowed to continue, and spoiled children wearing adult skinsuits are allowed to run roughshod over normal and sane people, then society as we know it is lost. I don’t know of any solution that can be implemented that is both in line with my own principles and lacks the potential to be abused. Since this post is directed mostly at the parties involved in this fecal performance, I ask you: since you are aware of at least some of the warning signs of mass psychosis, how do we stop it before it takes hold?
I hate e-drama, but I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you don’t choose drama, it chooses you. Recently on LinkedIn, a woman named Haley Lawrence made a post that popped up in my feed for some reason, since I’m not following her. Personally, I thought that the post was perfectly innocuous: she said “not anti-vaxx, I’m against mandates and coercion.” You can view the post here, at least while it’s still up, though you should also visit my archived version, this way you can see the post as I last commented on it, since comments are being deleted left and right, the post itself could be deleted at some point, and Haley could even get kicked off the platform. The archived version doesn’t show everything, so the comments pertinent to this article are below:
Frank Marcovitz: I disagree
Haley Lawrence: And that’s your choice to disagree and guess what? I respect that.
Me (replying to Haley): Unfortunately, this is why people like us (i.e. those who value personal liberty and medical privacy) always lose out to the authoritarian busybodies – WE respect THEIR choices, THEY do not respect OURS. Keep a sharp eye out for the strawmen, false equivalences, and ad hominem attacks that will be (well, they are already) thrown about in attempt to morally brow-beat us into compliance.
Trenton Schwarzer (replying to Frank): You disagree with ——- what, freedom of choice?
Steve Mccullough (replying to Trenton): knowingly killing others
Steve Mccullough (replying to me): respect your right to kill other? [sic]
Me (replying to Steve): That is a blatant strawman and a false equivalence. You just did exactly as I warned you would. Care to try this again, you narcissistic busybody? [this comment was deleted by LinkedIn, presumably after being reported, though over a dozen people liked it; I eventually re-posted it and left out the “narcissistic busybody” bit]
As more and more people piled on, arguing on both sides of the vaccine mandate argument, most of the comments were absolutely vitriolic tripe, though the authoritarians were clearly much more hostile, inarticulate and condescending. There was only one break, and that was when Shree Nanguneri entered the chat, trying to be diplomatic.
Shree (replying to me):
Your point is valid and the magical question may lie in how we work this inclusively to benefit everyone?
I am sure there has to be a way to work it out collaboratively and in a civil manner between all of us otherwise intelligent people, I suppose.
Why not ask questions on how solutions can be proposed instead of accusing the other side as killers or the other way as depriving people of their constitutional rights and freedom?
Your experiences please?
While I’d like to think that there is some sort of middle ground that can be reached, I’m afraid that there are far too many people who simply will not compromise on their own inherently incompatible positions, thus giving a sense of realism to an otherwise false dichotomy. The only thing that works in that case is if the belligerent parties simply agree to stay as far away from each other as possible.
In a perfect world, we could all be rational adults about it and simply agree to disagree, but it’s really hard to maintain a mature composure when there are a few voices screeching like spoiled children. You can’t take people like that seriously, so I like to indulge my own inner child and make fun of them. It usually blows up in my face (if you haven’t gathered, I’ve dealt with a lot of unreasonable people), but it’s tremendously cathartic and a far healthier coping mechanism than binge drinking.
Concerning vaccines, specifically, I am reminded of the old saying “you catch more flies with a teaspoon of honey than a gallon of vinegar.” If 100% vaccination is the goal, the hostile moral brow-beating of the “vaccine hesitant” has to stop, simple as.
Does this answer any of your questions?
As I have mentioned before, authoritarians are narcissists, and I’m not the first person to point this out. Narcissists are not willing to make concessions, and therefore, neurotypical people must continually make concessions for them, ultimately giving them exactly what they want. In the grander scheme, narcissistic politicians (which is redundant these days) foment the death of a liberal society, because a liberal society is based around a “live and let live” attitude, in which people are free to make their own choices, but are not free to impose those choices on others. The narcissist does not understand the very concept of personal preference, and therefore does not believe that people are free to do any different from them. When people like this make policy decisions, the result is totalitarianism. However, in the upside-down world of totalitarianism, if you do not obey all tyrannical diktats, then you are infringing on the rights of others, specifically the “rights” of the tyrant to dictate how you live your life. As I mentioned in my article about the ideological method, as the debate proceeds, then the proponent of the flawed ideology (in this case, medical tyranny) will resort to increasingly fallacious arguments and pure emotional appeals in a desperate attempt to morally brow-beat their opponents into submission – “if you don’t agree with me, you are literally killing people.” The tyrant cries out in pain as he whips you for disobeying him. It’s effective, but it’s fallacious nonetheless.
So, let’s break this down: there are two extreme positions regarding vaccines. On one end, you have the totalitarians, who believe that people who do not get vaccinated are walking public health hazards, therefore vaccines should be mandatory, and that this “should not be up for debate.” Those very words, “this should not be up for debate,” is a clear indication that they are not willing to move from this position by any measurable amount. On the other end, you have the anti-vaxxers, who believe that all vaccines are poison and that no-one should take them. Oddly enough, I have never heard of an anti-vaxxer who thinks that vaccines should be outlawed. Already, we have a bit of a disparity, since the anti-vaxxers don’t think that anyone should be coerced into doing as they do. But then, there is no limit to tyranny, the way that there is to liberty. Logically, the middle ground between anti-vax and medical tyranny would be vaccine choice: people are free to get vaccinated if they wish, and private enterprises are free to discriminate against vaccinated or unvaccinated people at their own pleasure. Haley and I both support the middle ground position, though our personal choices are different: she doesn’t want the CoVID-19 vaccine, whereas I’ve already received it (I’m not saying which one, since my vaccination status is none of anyone’s business anyway, I’m just revealing it to make a point).
When the totalitarians inevitably lose the argument, they must shift the goal-posts and either argue about philosophy or freedom of speech, which are somewhat intertwined. The free speech argument that they use is usually a variation of “hate speech is not free speech” or “harmful misinformation is not free speech.” Totalitarians generally pay lip service to freedom of speech and the problem of censorship, but this is a motte-and-bailey argument. They have different working definitions of censorship and free speech from those of us who actually support freedom of speech. This they exposed after Steve called Yelena Rakhimov “Hitler” later on in the chat. Since this is a far spicier insult than anything I’ve said on LinkedIn, there’s no way that this isn’t a violation of LinkedIn’s terms of service, yet it’s still there as of me writing this article.
Steve Mccullough: where’s the jeapordy, hitler. You get to decide who lives and dies?
Yelena’s initial response to this comment is no longer there, oddly enough. She made fun of him for calling her “Hitler.” I suggested, tongue-in-cheek, that she report his comment for abuse. I could have done so myself, but since the comment wasn’t directed at me, it’s not really my decision.
Me: You should report his comment for abuse. Steve is clearly a troll, he’s just here to disrupt the conversation and rile people up, not contribute anything useful.
Yelena: I don’t get easily insulted. I know how human mind works. People usually use insults when they run out of arguments. So I take it as a win.
Me: Steve ran out of arguments a long time ago. Meanwhile, Wales Nematollahi thinks I’m in favour of cancel culture because I want this already wonky comments section to not be so cluttered with such utter tripe. If LinkedIn’s comments functioned more like Disqus, this wouldn’t be an issue, I’d just block them both and get on with my day.
As I said, it’s not my decision, it’s hers. If she wants to let him get away with it and leave the comment there for all to see, that works just as well as getting him in trouble with the website. However, that’s not the standard that Steve’s ideological allies believe in, as I explain with the very comment that I mentioned.
Wales Nematollahi (replying to me): So you want cancel culture.
Me: That’s another strawman. Blocking a troll because he’s disrupting a conversation with total nonsense and cluttering up the comments section does not infringe on free speech. But then, this entire PLATFORM has devolved into the sort of infantile nonsense that one would previously see only on Twitter, so I’m not surprised you’d throw that at me.
The reason that Wales’s comment is a strawman (though one could also make the case that it’s a false equivalence, the two fallacies are quite similar) is because the decision to block or mute a person, if that option is available, is not “cancelling” them. Freedom of speech includes the freedom to choose what speech you are exposed to. If you wish to live in an echo chamber, that is your right. If you wish not to see irrelevant nonsense, that is your right. Reporting a single comment for abuse will see that comment removed, not the removal of the person’s account. I shouldn’t have to make this argument, but Wales just wanted to make me look bad, so he continued.
Wales: Your reply to me bolsters my belief that you support the far right wing version of cancel culture. You just don’t seem to like the fact that these flatheads aren’t echo chambers. Wouldn’t you be happier in 8kun or Parler?
Me: Great, another strawman, combined with a fallacy of projection. You know who really wants an echo chamber? Look in the mirror. Oh, wait, you already are. Seriously, why is your side allowed to be so vitriolic while brow-beating people, but no-one else is allowed to get annoyed and retaliate? Why the onus on ME to keep MY cool, but you can be as nasty as you please? Double standards? Seriously, next time you reply to me, leave out the logical fallacies, and make a real argument.
Wales has not replied to me. Personally, I don’t think he even knows what 8kun or Parler actually are, but he’s simply been told that they are “far-right echo chambers,” so they were convenient things he could throw at me to make me look bad. I don’t even know why he would assume that I’m “far right,” other than the fact that I called his ideological ally a “troll.” All but two of the comments that I made on that particular LinkedIn post are documented in this article, and I doubt anyone could honestly evaluate me as “far right” from those comments alone, unless that person is working with a definition of “far right” that includes everyone who does not believe exactly as they do. “Far right” is nothing more than a socio-political pejorative that leftists and authoritarians (and authoritarian leftists in particular) use against their detractors for ease of dismissal.
I’m starting to really hate LinkedIn, but if I can use it to direct more people here to my WordPress blog or to Hive, then it’s worth the headaches that I suffer until I get kicked off the platform – just as Shaista Justin was. Yes, I’m throwing an awful lot of names around today. It must be done, because in these trying times, we need to know whom we can trust.
In my previous editorial, I explained precisely what the ideological method is. However, it is important to note that not everyone who uses the ideological method is an ideologue. Most are just repeating the lies that they’ve been taught to regurgitate. They are the useful idiots, and while some are true believers, most know better, but remain dishonest because they stand to benefit from their continued sycophancy.
To begin, only two of the terms in the title are mutually exclusive: brainlet and midwit. “Brainlet” is a colloquialism for someone who is quite stupid, usually with a two-digit IQ. A midwit, by contrast, has an IQ between 110 and 125, though not all people in that IQ range are midwits. Midwits are intellectually dishonest individuals who are perfect examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect, and most show the signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. They are typically popular, straight-A students in public school, and in homeschooling circles, are derisively referred to as “pleasantly gifted.” Brainlets who use the ideological method do so because they have been told to. Midwits engage in intellectual dishonesty of their own volition, because they wish to avoid any possibility of being wrong. Unlike the brainlet, who is obedient because they know no other choice, the midwit necessarily has a vested interest in propping up flawed ideologies: the protection of their ego.
In the context of an ideological argument, midwits will use every dirty trick that true ideologues use, so distinguishing between the two is damn near impossible in such a setting. However, midwits generally aren’t creative enough to come up with their own ideology, and instead must adopt the ideology of another that has egotistical appeal, usually some derivative of Hegelianism. For this reason, midwits revel in their own sycophancy, whereas true ideologues usually aren’t anyone’s sycophants. The true ideologue, as opposed to the colloquial ideologue (the colloquial definition of “ideologue” includes midwits, and that the definiton that I used when I warned people not to debate ideologues), is creative enough to invent their own ideology, and is probably far too intelligent to qualify as a midwit, though they are typically afflicted with the exact same mental illnesses (personality disorders ARE mental illnesses, despite what the DSM might say). True ideologues usually know at some level that their ideology is flawed, which is precisely why they overwhelmingly reject empiricism. If they can throw out the very basis of rational thought, then they can assert whatever they want, and still be completely correct by their own standards. Midwits, on the other hand, don’t think this far ahead, so they can be easily rebuked simply by pointing out the severe flaws in their argumentation itself.
A true ideologue is, by definition, a true believer of their own bullshit, which is why they must internalise their own apologetics in order to comfortably reinforce their delusions. However, there is another type of person, again usually afflicted with the same personality disorder, and again probably too intelligent to be a midwit, who uses the same methods to propagate an ideology, but they know it’s nonsense: the grifter. “Grift” is the diminutive form of “graft,” which is a practise in botany of splicing two different plants together, usually a male and female of the same species, such that a single plant may produce fruit (not all plants are natural hermaphrodites). Once upon a time, however, the word “graft” had an additional meaning, and that was a con such as a ponzi scheme. A “grafter” was a large-scale con artist or corrupt politician, whereas a “grifter” was a small-scale con artist, as one might describe a sleazy used car salesman. Since the word “grafter” has since fallen out of favour, “grifter” can now be applied to any con artist or corrupt politician. Like the ideologue and the midwit, the grifter has a vested interest in propagating a flawed ideology, but whereas the ideologue and the midwit do such to satisfy their egos, the grifter does so purely for material gain.
Grifters, by themselves, are not very dangerous. Since they are concerned purely with material gain, they don’t have a vested interest in eliminating competing ideas or relentlessly pursuing the one person that they are unable to con. However, when a grifter decides to propagate someone else’s dangerous ideology for profit, they become a useful idiot for someone who is genuinely dangerous. Funny, I did say that grifters are usually too smart to be midwits, didn’t I? I guess you have to be rather intelligent to be a useful idiot, after all, there are some ideas so stupid that only academics will believe them.
Grifters and ideologues are not mutually exclusive, but instead two extremes on the ends of a sliding scale. One on end, there is the pure grifter, who knows that what they are peddling is total nonsense, but they do it anyway because they have something to gain. On the other, there is the pure ideologue, who truly believes that what they are peddling is true and good, and they feel compelled to confront opposition to it in order to spread the words and satisfy their own conscience. However, it is very difficult to find a person who fits one of these extremes. After all, sometimes it is necessary to convince yourself that the nonsense you’re peddling is true, in order to put on a convincing act. Likewise, no true ideologue has such an unshakable faith in their ideology that they will subject it to meaningful criticism, and every one of them must, by necessity, resort to some measure of intellectual dishonesty in order to promote their ideology. Incidentally, this is precisely why I refer to the slow creep of global tyranny as the “Great Authoritarian Grift,” because even if the people promoting bigger government genuinely believe that it is a good idea, the GAG itself is a power grab that benefits only the political class, and some of them have admitted that in hot mike moments; to them, true believers in the beneficence of big government, midwitted or otherwise, are simply the useful idiots required to brow-beat the rest of us into submission. The GAG is one grift that cannot succeed unless everyone is complicit in it, because, in the words of Jacob Tothe, the subject is not content in his servitude if others are free.
Determining the type of person promoting an ideology requires an evaluation of both their character and their motive. For this, the RAVEN method can be used:
Ability to see
This is a method that I became aware of thanks to The Pholosopher, and she goes into it in detail here. Of course, as with most things, the closer you look, the more complicated it is. Reputation and expertise are relatively easy to determine; vested interest and neutrality are not, as they require some digging into a person’s past behaviour. I’ve already touched on the subject of vested interest here, and perhaps I’ll devote a future article to each letter of the helpful corvid. Thanks to the internet, digging into a person’s past is a lot easier now than it used to be, and if you are deeply entrenched in internet culture, determining whether or not someone is a troll is quite easy. Some people act like trolls in real life, however, and those can be some tough nuts to crack, as far as their motive is concerned. Trolls, incidentally have a vested interest in keeping up their act: they find people’s reactions to be amusing. I’m speaking from experience, by the way, since I like trolling the crypto-tankies (authoritarian collectivists masquerading as left-leaning libertarians) and getting them to show their true colours; it’s easier than you think, by the way, since they will compulsively go after nonexistent bait and thus can be tricked with almost no effort into making a reverse motte-and-bailey argument, all while hilariously accusing their detractors of doing exactly what they are doing.
With all of this said, perhaps now you are sufficiently armed with the necessary knowledge to quickly assess with whom you may end up in an ideological argument online. After all, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but don’t bother debating ideologues, but how would you know if someone is an ideologue without debating them or watching their conduct during a debate with someone else? Well, I never said that it was a quick process. Perhaps some people can form quick assessments of a person’s character, but I can’t, I have little to no social instinct, and must instead make a very careful analysis.
Remember, don’t debate ideologues, because you can’t win, but you can still mock and debunk them behind their backs. The same goes for grifters. Midwits and brainlets are fair game, however. Be nice to the brainlets, because you may actually be able to win them over. Midwits that you victimise, however, will forever be useful enemies to you; they can hold one hell of a grudge, but that can work in your favour, since their detractors will inevitably come across their unhinged bitch-fests about your counterarguments.
This post is long overdue. I have used this phrase multiple times, but have never fully explained it, and that is to be rectified now. Those of you who stand for truth, regardless of whether or not that truth is comfortable, need to know what you’re up against. Effectively, the ideological method is the exact opposite of the scientific method, but there is much more to it than that. Thus, before the ideological method can be properly defined, it is necessary to define the scientific method for contrast.
The scientific method is the process of creating a hypothesis, performing experiments to test the hypothesis, observing the results of those experiments, and drawing a conclusion from those observations. The conclusion will either confirm or debunk the hypothesis, and in many cases, hypotheses are formed from observation of the natural world to begin with. Any hypothesis that is inconsistent with the facts must be either discarded or revised. The philosophy that this method is based on is called empiricism; the opposing philosophy is called sophistry. Empiricism is a very simple philosophy, whereas sophistry is absurdly complicated.
The ideological method is the process of creating a presupposition and accumulating only the data that supports it, whether by very careful selection or outright fabrication. Any facts that are inconsistent with the presupposition are discarded. For those who are familiar with the logical fallacies, this is the process of cherry-picking, or painting bulls-eyes round arrows. However, there is a lot more to the ideological method than that. Every logical fallacy has been used to defend flawed ideas, and every flawed idea requires logical fallacies and other forms of intellectual dishonesty in its defense. It requires a great deal more intelligence and creativity in order to craft a sophistic defense of an idea than an empirical defense.
It takes a great deal more intelligence to lie than to tell the truth. Lies also require creativity, from the small amount needed to twist the truth in one’s favour, to the large amount to fabricate a tall tale. Because most people lack the intellectual capability to craft a big lie, and naïvely assume that more intelligent individuals are both honest and benevolent, the plebians of society have a greater proclivity for believing eloquent sophistry than blunt empiricism. A comforting lie is easier to accept than an uncomfortable truth.
“Society has moved away from what works and moved toward what sounds good.” – Thomas Sowell
“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” – Aron Ra
When I warned my readers not to debate ideologues, I did so with good reason. Professional pompous postmodernist pontificators, or as I like to call them, forsaken princesses, are widely known to toss word salads at their ideological opponents, and the winner is the one who uses the most flowery language. This is nothing new, in fact this is the very criticism that Plato (423-347 BC) made of sophists, and Cicero (106-43 BC) later echoed the exact same sentiment in his repudiation of direct democracy, because the public is too easily manipulated by the honeyed words of demagogues. However, while word salad may work on the uninformed, easily impressed plebians who enjoy watching political debates or internet blood-sports, the deceptive wiles of the forsaken princesses ultimately fail to convince anyone who has a sufficient command of language to be able to see through the veil of nonsense.
A quote commonly attributed to Winston Churchill is that a lie gets halfway round the world before the truth can even get its pants on. There is little evidence to suggest that Churchill actually said this, but the point still stands. In addition to flowery language that entertains more than it informs, the ideological method is more about propagating control than propagating truth. Truth moves slowly by design, because the truth is complicated. The big lie, however, whatever lie that may be at the time, is usually quite simple, but merely cloaked in complexity. Again, we see opposites: the truth itself is complicated, but the method to determine it is simple, whereas the big lie is simple, but the method to justify it is complicated. Since the best lies all have a grain of truth to them, the ideological method partially relies on self-evident truths in order to stand up to superficial scrutiny. Here is where we see the invocation of the second logical fallacy: the double standard.
The double standard is one of several logical fallacies that fall into the category of motte-and-bailey arguments, so-named for a type of early Medieval castle. In such a structure, the bailey is a small fortified town where most of the inhabitants live, easy to access but difficult to defend. When under heavy siege, the defenders will retreat to the heavily fortified motte, which is difficult to access, but easy to defend. In an ideological argument, the bailey is a generally unpalatable idea that the ideologue wishes to propagate. When subjected to criticism, however, the ideologue will retreat to the proverbial motte, which is a much more palatable idea that many more people would agree to.
For those of you who know Medieval history, you will be aware that castles were as much offensive structures as defensive ones. Castles projected power, since they were places where armies could safely gather and launch attacks from. Another type of motte-and-bailey argument is the armoured strawman, which one could also call the hollow steelman. The steelman is the most charitable interpretation of an opposing position, and generally the most honest. A strawman, on the other hand, is a deliberate misrepresentation of an opposing position that is designed to make it look as weak or malicious as possible, and it is a logical fallacy in itself. Since the strawman is such a well-known tactic, thanks to creationists in the early days of YouTube, it is such an obvious fallacy that virtually no-one uses it on its own anymore. Instead, in a deceptive effort to appear honest, ideologues will first prop up a steelman, but then later transform it into a strawman when it is convenient for their position. One could also call this a bait-and-switch method of argumentation, and I find it profoundly telling that ideologues habitually accuse their opponents of “baiting” them whenever they ask an inconvenient question, because this is the fallacy of projection.
Accusing one’s opponent of that which one is guilty is another fallacy. If the opponent is actually guilty of this accusation, it is called tu quoque (Latin for “you too”), or the pot calling the kettle black; if the opponent is not guilty, it is called projection, or the pot calling the silverware black. Curiously, this is one of Saul Alinsky’s rules for radicals, taken directly from the book bearing that title. Rules For Radicals effectively teaches the ideological method, in other words, it directly advocates for people to use intellectually dishonest tactics in order to win ideological arguments. This is nothing new, either. All religions advocate for the exact same thing, teaching people to use the ideological method to propagate their beliefs. Oh, but curiouser and curiouser, there is one particular fallacy that I once thought was unique to religious apologetics, yet I have since encountered it typed by the fingers of secular ideologues.
It is no secret that the most vocal atheists, anti-theists in particular, were once highly religious people. The more radical and dangerous the religion that they once belonged to, the more they oppose religion later in life. In order to dismiss their arguments, however, religious apologists will attempt to smear these individuals as “never having been true believers.” This is not an invention of the apologist making the argument, but instead an instruction in many religious doctrines: he who loses faith was never a true believer to begin with. This is a justification for constantly testing the adherents’ faith, usually through abuse. The statement itself, however, is a “no true Scotsman” fallacy, though there is more to it. It presents itself as a false Scotsman, but it is also a strawman, implying that the person was not sufficiently indoctrinated into the religion to keep the faith in the face of an inconvenient truth (which is another curious admission), and it is generally meant as an attack on the person’s character, and thus an ad hominem fallacy. The dismissal of an ideological traitor as “never having been a true believer” is therefore a three-for-one fallacy, one of many compound fallacies. A compound fallacy is any single statement that contains more than one logical fallacy, and amounts to telling multiple lies at once. This is how it is possible to tell more lies in a sentence than there are words in that sentence. By the way, the secular example that I came across was the statement that “anyone who voted for Bernie Sanders and is happy with the job that Trump is doing never believed in what Bernie really stood for.” This statement is flat-out wrong, because the main reason to vote for either Sanders or Trump was simply a dissatisfaction with the political establishment (represented by Hillary Clinton in 2016). Of course, believing that a vote for a politician is a total endorsement of that politician’s stated position is a fallacious assumption; generally speaking, people vote against politicians as much as they vote for them, if not more so.
Every politician has a personality cult, though some have it to a greater extent than others. In a representative democracy, it is important to remember that not everyone who votes for a particular politician is a part of that politician’s personality cult! Generally speaking, people who accuse those who vote for a different politician from the one that they support of being in a personality cult are themselves in a personality cult. This is another accusation of that which one is oneself guilty. In a two-party political system, this is also a false dichotomy, and therefore another compound fallacy. Political zealots have also been known to level the accusation of “being part of the problem” not only at their political opposites, but also at those who are apolitical and don’t vote at all. Depending on the motivation and the exact rhetoric used in the accusation, one could spot the fallacies of projection, false dichotomy, strawman, and who knows what else, potentially resulting in a compound fallacy containing six or more fallacies. There is a good reason that politics is said to be even more irrational than religion.
Since the ideological method is the basis of debate, rather than investigation, it is more important to be convincing than earnest. As the debate continues and all fallacious statements cloaked in a veneer of factual accuracy are debunked, the ideologue will resort to emotional appeals, since emotions are easier to manipulate than knowledge. This is true not only within individual debates, but within larger societal debates. When the “factual” claims of an ideological movement have all been debunked, the ideologues will default to emotional appeals in each new encounter with their ideological detractors, attempting to morally brow-beat people into compliance, while smearing those who stand in their way, undaunted by their screeching, as “cold, uncaring, and violent” thus projecting their sociopathic lack of compassion onto their enemies. At first, this begins as pure projection, but when those who desire truth and freedom begin to fight back, it turns into tu quoque, partially vindicating the vicious ideologues, and that’s how they win over more people. Ultimately, appeasement doesn’t work, standing your ground doesn’t work, fighting back doesn’t work, and beating them doesn’t work; ideologues have answers for all of these. The proper approach is to mock them, and then walk away when they demand you fight them, but pursue them when they attempt to flee; the spectacle you must put on for the plebians is to show the vicious ideologues that they are not your equal, but instead are beneath contempt. Disengagement is the key to victory, in other words, debunk, but do not debate.
Words have power, they evoke emotions and convey ideas, one of which is fear, but it doesn’t need to be. I decided to write this article as an antidote to fear, because people are afraid of things they ought not to be – one of which is me.
I’ve been told that I scare people. While you might not guess from looking at me (I’m 170 cm, 57kg, and I look like a girl), when it comes to the ideas I believe in and the labels I wear unironically, it’s easy to see why people might find me a bit scary. However, what you demystify, you disarm, and what you daemonise, you attract the impressionable to. My beliefs are not as radical or nihilistic as they may seem, and I’ll explain why, by breaking down the actual definitions of several spooky labels that I wear.
Atheist – a person who lacks belief in any deities. Anyone who is not convinced that an actual deity exists is an atheist, and this definition certainly applies to me. This is a label that typically alarms religious people, because there is a common misconception that atheists are opposed to a belief in god, and while some atheists certainly do oppose any sort of religious belief, there is a different term that describes such a belief: anti-theism. All anti-theists are atheists, but not all atheists are anti-theists. Furthermore, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind American Christians that Madalyn Murray O’Hair did not take prayer out of schools, she took state-mandated prayer out of school, because it is a violation of the First Amendment for any public institution to show deferential treatment toward any religion. Prayer cannot be banned in school, because that too, would violate the First Amendment. For the most part, I take no issue with Christians, in fact I’m more likely to have disagreements with my fellow atheists. Just don’t try to convert me – that would not go well, because for everything that you may think requires a divine explanation, I have a secular answer, including morality.
Anarchist – a person who believes that government is not necessary for a functioning society. There is a common misconception that anarchists are violent, irrational and hell-bent on abolishing society as we know it. Again, some anarchists are violent, but an awful lot of self-described anarchists aren’t interested in abolishing government itself, they wish to abolish all vestiges of the current power structures and replace them with another system of government, albeit with a name other than “government.” At some point, the revolution ends, and the revolutionaries become the political establishment. Most self-described anarchists, especially the violent ones, are secretly totalitarians. This does not describe me. My desire is to promote greater individualism and slowly, peacefully, erode the government’s power until there is none left. Anarchism is the ultimate goal of true libertarianism (an ideology no longer promoted by the US Libertarian Party), that is to keep making the State as small and unobtrusive as possible – therefore, the logical conclusion is no government at all. I don’t think that this goal is achievable (certainly not in my lifetime), it is simply an ideal that we need to keep working toward if we value liberty. Unlike many of my fellow anarchists, even those with whom I ideologically align perfectly, I am willing to participate in the civic process (this includes voting) if there is a possibility that it will help to curtail government control. In other words, in order to create a society with the smallest amount of government interference possible, we must strive to eliminate it altogether, because it is the logical limit of the saying “he who governs least, governs best.”
Capitalist – a person who engages in Free Market activities and is able to keep the resources they earn and do with them as they see fit. Most capitalists know exactly what capitalism is, but most non-capitalists, socialists in particular (not every non-capitalist is a socialist; you can divest yourself of the free market but not believe in socialism), believe in a strawman parody of capitalism that is purely exploitative and reinforces entrenched power structures, such that western society is “socialism for the rich, dog-eat-dog capitalism for the rest.” This is flat-out wrong, because wage slaves don’t engage in capitalism. Not only that, but there is a constant conflation of “capitalist” with “bourgeois,” “hierarchical,” “selfish,” and “greedy.” Not all capitalists are wealthy, not all believe in static class structures (in fact, most don’t, because capitalism is a system that enables social mobility, rather than stifling it), not all are selfish (some give quite generously to charity) and not all are greedy. Of course, if you are a socialist, then you probably think that “capitalism” is the same as “corporatism,” the latter of which I am opposed to as well. Furthermore, if you are a socialist, you probably believe that being generous makes a person a socialist – it does not. Socialism is a system of forced altruism, and forced altruism is false altruism, which is why socialism tends to foment resentment, rather than good will.
Liberal – effectively, a person who adheres to philosophy based on a “live and let live” attitude. This may seem like a contradiction, since I’ve already revealed that I’m an anarchist, but in this context, I’m not referring to political beliefs, but in social beliefs. Many conservatives, and also many self-described liberals as well, mistakenly believe that liberalism is “left-wing.” I’ve already discussed this at length, but having liberal views on social issues does not make a person left-wing. Liberal simply means “permissive,” which means that having “conservative” views on social issues simply makes a person an authoritarian, and what is “conservative” is completely arbitrary, and entirely dependent on the context of the culture that one is examining. Being opposed to discrimination based on ethnicity or gender is a liberal position, but it is in no way leftist. Being opposed to the criminalisation of certain substances (alcohol, marijuana, etc.) is also a liberal position, and in no way leftist. People who are familiar with the political compass may disagree, but while I like the political compass itself, I’ve already addressed the problems with political compass tests, and I plan to examine those flaws in greater detail some time in the future.
Conservative – in the context of finance, a synonym for “frugal.” I have already explained the paradox of how it is possible to be both a liberal and a conservative at the same time, even when the context is not limited to finance. My point is that I’m not a big spender as it is, I resent having to tighten my own belt because the government keeps loosening its own as it becomes increasingly bloated, and I’m sick of hearing that “socialism is the solution,” because anyone who understands economics knows it would actually exacerbate a lot of the current problems. Then again, people who are fiscally liberal, even those who aren’t outright socialist, are usually such because they can’t do basic math, and therefore can’t manage money.
Ex-Soviet – self-explanatory, at least in the ideological sense; I’m too young to have grown up in the Soviet Union. A lot of people that I’m ideologically aligned with currently get spooked when I tell them that I used to a communist, and not a fruity, woke anarcho-communist, but a tankie, an unironic Soviet, and a Stalinist specifically (I believed some weird shit as a teen-ager). In fact, the woke nonsense was the main reason I abandoned communism in the first place, because back when I still was a communist, I learned about the existence of social justice, and upon discovering that most SJWs, whom I have always despised, were also communists, I almost blew my lunch. Upon going further down the rabbit hole of communist philosophy (and I was already deep enough that I was a Lysenkoist before I had ever even heard of Trofim Lysenko), I realised that the soc-jus nonsense was simply the purest form of communism, and I was cured almost instantly. Mind you, there are still certain things about the Soviet system that I like – mostly having to do with public education and the arts – but they are the decidedly meritocratic, non-communist parts of it, some of which have actually been preserved in the modern Russian Federation. I didn’t immediately become an anarchist after abandoning communism, I was a bit of a milquetoast centrist for a while, then a libertarian, and ultimately I started to embrace the label of “anarchist” for the same reason I embraced the label of “atheist” – I learned what the terms actually meant.
I hope I have sufficiently demystified the spooky language, and put at least some readers at ease. I doubt my ideological opponents will think any better of me as a result, in fact, I suspect that the vicious ideologues out there will probably think worse of me for trying to calm people down, instead of riling them up. What do you think? Have I succeeded in making some of these labels appear less threatening? Have I changed your mind in any other way?
Cognitive dissonance is a bitch. Ever since a certain YouTube video appeared, the problem of mass psychosis has been discussed far more widely than ever before. For the record, I was one of the first to watch it, as it appeared in my feed mere hours after it was published. Anyway, while I had intended my next post to be either another GAG file about spooky language or some more lore about the Nine Empires, I would like to elaborate on a comment that I posted in response to Shaista Justin on LinkedIn, because there is a character limit on LinkedIn comments, and I have too much to say on the subject.
Anyone who creates a system of mass psychosis does so with malicious intent, but that doesn’t mean all who actively participate in the system also do so from a place of malice. This is especially true of religion. In the modern day, most new religions die (sometimes, along with their followers) quite quickly, and are dismissed simply as “cults.” It should be noted that, in the common vernacular, the word “cult” is far more simplistic and derogatory in its meaning than in either clinical rhetoric or historical context, but I’m not going to discuss that here. For now, just keep in mind that every religion started out as what we would call a “cult,” and Christianity is no exception.
Whenever religion has rule over law, it is a net negative for society, because it puts religious doctrine ahead of both truth and personal liberty. However, though it is a net negative, not all aspects of religion are negative. Religion provides many good things for people, otherwise it would not be so popular. Religions may be formed by individuals who have no motive other than control, but they are adopted and propagated by individuals who have benevolent intent, and who also value truth. Since the truth can stand up to scrutiny, true believers of any religion are far more likely to engage with ideological opponents than grifters. As a religion ages, it becomes more common for its adherents to be open-minded true believers, rather than grifting intellectual cowards.
Though most people think of the Roman Catholic Church as an obstacle to scientific progress, people need to remember that the oldest European universities were all founded by the Church for the purpose of educating the clergy. The curriculum was four years: medicine, mathematics, law, and rhetoric, and after completion, the student would be ordained as a priest. Priests were not only preachers, they were also advisors to nobles, and acted in many other civic capacities according to rank. A knight or baron, for instance, may have taken personal council from a mere priest, whereas a duke would take council from a bishop, and a king would take council from a cardinal. Priests may have also dabbled in naturalistic pursuits, contributing their knowledge of the natural world to the university in turn. The very first “scientists,” i.e. those who acted in such a capacity before the word “science” was even coined, were all aspiring Catholic priests at one point. So long as none of the knowledge discovered through naturalism conflicted with Catholic doctrine, there was no reason to stifle any such pursuits. The problem arose when the geocentric model of the Solar System was challenged – and we all know how that went. For the record, geocentricity is an Aristotelian idea – the actual Christian doctrine explicity describes the Earth as flat, and that the sun and moon are both inside it, though even most YECs don’t believe that.
Had the Catholic Church wished to retain complete control over European society, then it would have not been so lenient concerning the intellectual pursuits of its aspiring clergy. While the Church may have been founded for the sole purpose of controlling people’s minds, that was a thousand years before the hypothesis of the Heliocentric Solar System was first proposed, and, coincidentally, the invention of the printing press, the latter of which helped to start the Protestant Reformation. While it is true that the Church did not want common people reading the bible (nope, still not capitalising), had the Catholic Church actually qualified as a cult, the Church would have done everything in its power to stifle technological progress, rather than encourage it. Actual cults adhere rather strictly to something called the BITE model – Behaviour, Information, Thought, and Emotion control. Though the Church sought to control all of these initially, not only was that control very difficult to enforce, but over the course of a thousand years, it was gradually relinquished in favour of a less theocratic civic model. I could write an entire book on the subject of how, in its efforts to bring more people into the Christian fold, the Catholic Church had no choice but to integrate pagan traditions (Christmas being a particularly famous example), so I won’t bore you with every detail of how the Church stretched itself thin while also being undermined from within, sometimes even at the highest level.
My favourite example of an escape from mass psychosis is the collapse of the Soviet Union, not because of what I know (I know more Soviet history than even the average communist professor, incidentally), but because of what I don’t know. I could explain, in great detail, precisely the mentality that existed in Russia in 1917, and what sort of sentiments had been simmering since 1905 at least. I could also explain precisely why Stalin rose to power and was able to dispose of Trotsky, Lenin’s heir apparent, with relative ease. I could explain why Khrushchëv was such a failure, and even why the Soviet Union persisted in spite of his blunders. However, there is one major gap in my knowledge of Soviet history: what the general sentiment was in the country round the time I was born. For those of you who don’t know, whenever I meet a new friend from the former USSR, and they ask my age, I respond “I was born when the Soviet Union collapsed.” To be precise, I was born three weeks after the collapse, though I don’t know how accurate my official birth-date actually is – I tell people I was born in St. Petersburg, but for all I know, I was actually born in Leningrad. Anyway, this gap my knowledge is largely due to two things: with one exception, anyone I know who grew up in the Soviet Union defected to America in the 1980s. As for anyone I know who lives in Russia, they are, again with one exception, all younger than me. Knowing what I know about Russian culture, however, I would not be surprised if the mass psychosis had died along with Stalin himself, because unlike every other Russian leader, Stalin had a large personality cult (every politician has one, by the way, but seldom is it large enough to extend to the entire system of government). Most Russians don’t care about politics, so give them democracy, and they probably won’t bother to vote, especially if their own lives are reasonably comfortable. To over-simplify for the western observer, Russian culture is effectively “do whatever you must to survive, and if it’s illegal, just don’t talk about it.” This has seemingly always been the case – under the tsars, under the Soviets (even Stalin), and it’s still true now. What strikes me as odd is that the collapse of the USSR took the rest of the world by complete surprise, apparently. Perhaps if I can’t get an answer to the question I seek about Russia, I may have to get it…
…from China. Don’t check your calendar just yet, but China has been communist (at least in name) for about as long as Russia was. My point is that, despite the incessant and ludicrously over-reaching power plays, both domestically and internationally, China may be on the verge of collapse. After all, an animal is most dangerous when wounded, and while the CCP may be willing to sacrifice every aspect of communism except the nifty-looking symbolism (you have to admit, the hammer-and-sickle looks cool) in order to maintain political stability, how far can they go before they lose control? I don’t know what the situation is like on the inside, but if the Epoch Times and the Podcast of the Lotus Eaters are anything to go by, it would seem that the CCP itself is on the verge of collapse. The party members are certainly frightened, which is why they have been in full damage-control mode for the past year-and-a-half, between both the virus that we’re not allowed to talk about and the election that we’re not allowed to question the results of. Despite all the bravado, I suspect that the Chinese government may collapse any day now, and we’ll all soon learn precisely how that happened.
The point of all this is that mass psychosis is something that people who fall into may not be able to escape – it may be something that takes generations, particularly when the psychosis is systemic. After all, it is easier to get someone to believe a lie than to convince them they’ve been lied to. Delusions are easier to create than to destroy. The process of succumbing to and recovering from delusions is also considerably quicker with individuals than with societies, hence the longer lifespans of mainstream religions than tiny cults.