Troy Leavitt on GamerGate and the Religion of Identity Politics

Game developer Troy Leavitt recently released a video on YouTube called GamerGate — Thoughts of a Game Developer. It’s very good, and I recommend you watch it.

But the thing that most caught my attention was his extremely clear and concise description of what he calls “The Religion of Identity Politics”—which could just as well be called “The Religion of Social Justice” (as I would probably call it) or “The Religion of Political Correctness.”

And he understands GamerGate, correctly, as a revolt against this aggressive Religion.

His words are good, so I am going to share them, because that’s what I do.



My explanation is that GamerGate was a consumer revolt against the Religion of Identity Politics.  I think the word ‘religion’ is the right word here, because there’s kind of a central dogma in identity politics, and that is that you are defined not by your behavior, not by your character, but by your demographic identifiers. For example, you start with your sex, whether you’re male or you’re female; then you move on to your race, whether you’re white, or black, or asian, or indian or whatever that might be; and then your sexual orientation, gay, straight, bi, and so forth—and this is supposed to be your political group. It’s how you’re supposed to be IDENTIFIED. And the Religion of Identity Politics goes on to say that the more rare your particular instances of demographics are, the more oppressed you are, and hence, the more righteousness within the religion you can assume. Conversely, the more commonplace are your demographics, the more oppressive you are, and hence the more evil secretly resides in your very existence.

To me, this is very much like original sin. If you just happen to be born into a majority position, within the Religion of Identity Politics, you are automatically sinful. Your behavior doesn’t really matter. That’s what they mean by ‘privilege’—it’s your position, you’re just born into it. Note that this is the exact opposite of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s plea that people should be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Now also within the religion, the only way you can really be redeemed is to accept your inherent sinful nature as on oppressor—to whatever degree that is—and you confess your demographic markers. You say, “I’m sorry I’m white, I’m sorry I’m male, I’m sorry I’m straight!” and then you promise, you promise to do better, to have a change of heart, to strive to overcome your inherently sinful ways. And you do that be denigrating yourself, by putting yourself down, and elevating others who might be in a more oppressed state. It doesn’t matter if you’re a good person. Within the Religion of Identity Politics, it’s purely your demographic.

Go back and look at those articles [about gamers] that all dropped on the same day of August 28, and you can see pretty clearly that they’re evangelizing this religion of identity politics. And they’re saying “This is the solution to this scandal we see over here.” The authors, the press people, were kind of like priests and priestesses of Identity.

No! I reject your religion. I reject what you’re saying about me! And I’m going to push back. I’m going to fight back against anybody who says I have to suddenly buy into your religion to be a good person.” To me, that’s what GamerGate was all about and what it continues to be all about.

It’s a rejection of the Religion of Identity Politics.

Why Kristi Winters’ Recent Attempt at Politically Correct Shaming Fails

Recently, a group of feminists and social justice warriors made a YouTube video called “Reasonable Questions for Anti SJWs“.  The first thing to note is that the SJWs in question simply could not restrain themselves  from virtue signaling in the title—they just had to add that “reasonable” to the standard “Questions for Xs” title.  It’s almost as if our default assumption is that SJWs would be unreasonable—which is of course a safe assumption and borne out very well in this video.

I want to discuss one “question” by Kristi Winters, which wasn’t a sincere question, but an attempt at politically correct shaming couched in the form of a question.  She asked, given the loathing of feminist misandry among anti-SJWs, whether the anti-SJW community would “call out” instances of what Kristi Winters asserted were cases of misandry in the anti-SJW community, specifically the use of such terms as “beta male,” “cuck,” and “mangina,” particularly towards male feminists.

There is a slight amount of cleverness here, in that Winters is trying to catch the anti-SJWs out in a moral contradiction, of practicing something they condemn when feminists do it.  Unfortunately, her attempt fails. And I am going to explain why.

Feminist misandry is grounded in a genuine hatred and/or fear of natural, healthy masculinity—invariably stigmatized by feminists as “toxic masculinity.”  Hatred of nature is one characteristic of feminism, which leads very easily into biology denialism and, as a consequence, science denialism.

The main trope here is “gender is a social construct,” which anyone who has bothered to investigate the science of the matter knows to be false.  Human beings are a sexually dimorphic species, conditioned by hundreds of thousands of years of natural history.  Men and women are, in short, different by nature, and everyone not deeply in the grip of an ideology knows this.

If gender were not grounded in nature, it would be shapable by society in radical ways—anyone could, more or less, “choose” to be transgendered.  But transgenderism and gender dysphoria are real conditions that people have. They are not choices.  Similarly, we have overwhelming evidence in the case of John Money’s disastrous attempts to have boys born with abnormal genitalia raised and “socialized” as girls.  For years, he assured parents that gender was a function only of socialization and that a child raised as a girl would, in effect, be a girl.  This led to monstrously cruel suffering on the part of the children he had forcibly misgendered, placing their parents in the the unwitting role of tormentors of their own children, whom they only wanted to help.  I refer you particularly to the sad case of David Reimer, thoroughly documented in As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl.

Now, it is true that gender expression is in part social and variable from culture to culture. But what is necessary to keep in mind is that CULTURE is always built on the foundation of NATURE.  In this way, gender is somewhat analogous to language. It is natural for human beings to speak language.  It is not, however, natural to speak any given language, e.g. English or Chinese; this must be learned.  It was once assumed that human language was infinitely variable across cultures, that is, socially constructed in a way totally unconstrained by nature.  We now know this to be false.  Languages do vary in superficial respects, but all human languages reflect a universal underlying human grammar—this is what makes translation possible, among other things.  So, while gender expression can and does vary somewhat due to social factors and conditions, it does so within natural parameters. There is, in other words, a kind of natural grammar and syntax of gender.

And again, we all know this. Men and women do not act just alike or interchangeably, but with their own characteristic masculine and feminine modalities.

What does all this have to do with the matter at hand?

This: Kristi Winters and feminists like her, female or male, are misandrists because they hate or fear and want to suppress, extirpate, and replace natural, healthy masculinity (and to a large degree natural healthy femininity as well).  This is what misandry is—a hatred of men grounded in the way men are by nature.

Now, it is also human to become either virtuous or vicious (as Aristotle says) and the two sexes have their own characteristic “styles” in this regard, men being manly, and women being womanly.  It is probably going too far to say that men and women have different virtues, but I would say they perform the virtues in different ways—the virtue of modesty is a case in point. No matter how much and how often feminists whinge about double standards, promiscuous females are always going to be looked down on in a way promiscuous males are not.  There are reasons for this.

What do terms like “beta male”, “cuck”, or “mangina” signify? Are they misandric? Do they reflect a hatred of men?

No. They reflect a degree of natural contempt for males who are, in one way or another, failed men. Such men are emasculated males, who fall short of the proper realization of their masculine nature, for whatever reason.

They are contemptible, and especially so to women, who are not attracted to such emasculated males. It is something of an open secret that feminists despise male feminists—at least as potential mates.  Here is a literal cuckold, virtue signaling about how good a feminist he is to let is wife sleep with other men: What Open Marriage Taught One Man About Feminism. This man’s article was greeted with near-universal contempt. And rightly so. I defy you to read this article and not hold this man in contempt. I have no doubt that his wife holds him in contempt. If you succeeded, congratulations—you have managed to eradicate your natural sense of contempt by means of ideological brainwashing.  Good on you.

So, no, Kristi, we don’t hate men. That’s your thing. We do, however, have a degree of contempt for failed men. I know you think that their failure is really a “victory” over “toxic patriarchal masculinity”—but you are wrong, and the dating and mating preferences of women prove it and will keep proving it again and again. Pathetic, contemptible beta males will never be valuable commodities in human sexual interactions, no more than ugly, fat feminists will be, no matter how much both groups whinge about how unfair nature is.  Beta positivity is as doomed as body positivity.

I don’t mind being the one to break it to you: Nature is anti-SJW.  Nature could not care less about gender fairness.

And human beings will always judge others by the standards of judgment which are natural to them, because these are the natural standards.

When you declare war on nature, Kristi, you can’t win. All you can do is make a lot of human beings unhappy if they listen to your bullshit.

I recommend listening to a couple of Romans on this point:



Why the Dictionary Definition of Feminism Fails

Definitions depend on usage.  For example, anyone is free to stipulate the definition of any word.  One could, if one wanted to, define feminism as ‘the doctrine that women are fundamentally inferior to men and should serve them.’  This would certainly create an odd sort of ‘feminist,’ which is the main reason we try not to do that with important words.  Definitions are meant to make something clear.  Dictionary definitions are meant to make clear how a given word or term is actually used or has been used in a given language.

There are of course many dictionaries, and thus many “dictionary definitions” of feminism (and everything else), but this is the go-to one used in most public discourse on the internet, the one given by Google when you type “define feminism” into it:


Definition is something people do for a reason.  It is an action that has an end, namely,  to make clear the meaning or usage of the term being defined.  It is thus possible to fail in giving a definition, by failing to capture the actual usage of a term.  And like other human activities that aim at a definite end, definition has rules or guidelines; these rules are not compulsory rules, in the sense that “you morally ought to obey them,” but are similar to logical rules, in the sense that “if you violate these rules you will fail at your task”—whether that task be “making a valid argument” or “making a term clear in its usage.”

Briefly, the criteria of sound definition are

  1. A definition must be coextensive. It must catch every instance and exclude no instance of what is being defined.
  2. A definition must be unambiguous.  Ambiguous terms in a definition cause the meaning to be unclear.
  3. A definition must be concise, not lengthy.
  4. A definition must be positive, not negative.
  5. A definition must be literal, not metaphorical.
  6. A definition must be non-circular.

I grant that, as far as I can see, the “dictionary definition” of feminism meets criteria 3-6.

Where it fails are 1 and 2.

The first point is fairly clear, and it is why most people get very annoyed when feminists appeal to the dictionary definition of feminism.  It is annoying because they are very clearly NOT trying to explain what feminism IS, but trying to SELL IT to you by creating a false equivalence with something that sounds (and is) much better than feminism, viz. egalitarianism, as applied to the sexes.

This point  is so stupidly simple, it can be put in the form of a diagram that even a child can understand. I apologize for insulting your intelligence, but it really IS necessary to hammer this point home with this lack of subtlety—because the people who cite the dictionary definition aren’t even trying to be honest, it is necessary to rub their faces in how wrong they are:


This is the basic problem. The sets of “feminists” and “people who advocate for women’s rights on the basis of social, political, and economic equality with men” are just not coextensive.  Yes, they overlap somewhat, but there are very many feminists who do not advocate for equality, and very many people who do advocate for the equality of the sexes (and I am one of them) who are not feminists.  And the reason that so many of us advocates of women’s equality are NOT feminists, is precisely because so many feminists are NOT advocates of equality.

Since feminism (femin-ISM) is an ideology, and ideologies are belief-systems, no one can force anyone else to subscribe to an ideology against their will.  And yet, this is what those who cite the dictionary definition of feminism are trying to do: they are trying to FORCE you to self-identify as a feminist, on the basis of some of your beliefs, and they are trying to do it with a FALSE definition of feminism.  And one thing that is, or at least should be, anathema in a pluralistic liberal democracy is attempts to FORCE others to believe as you want them to believe.  In a free and democratic society,  we use PERSUASION rather than FORCE, and ideally, RATIONAL PERSUASION, which is different from COERCIVE PERSUASION and MANIPULATIVE PERSUASION.

To be clear, I was using “force you to identify as a feminists” in the looser sense of “coercively and manipulatively persuade you to.”  There have only been a few attempts to use genuine force (so far), as when a member of the E.U. Parliament attempted to make it a CRIME to criticize feminism.  And of course, governmental FORCE was what Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn were asking for when they went before the UN, asking that the UN put pressure on national governments to implement feminist ideology by law.  However benighted and ridiculous Emma Watson’s HeForShe campaign was, at least she wasn’t advocating that the UN take steps to see her ideology implemented by force of law.

So, while most feminists would LOVE to use actual FORCE to punish anyone who dissents from their ideology, they usually don’t have the power to do this, except in limited areas.  Rejecting feminism will indeed get you fired as a matter of course at many colleges and universities in the United States, where feminist ideologues essentially control those institutions.

But let me explain why this is DISHONEST PERSUASION: it is (1) COERCIVE PERSUASION in the sense that feminists will do whatever is in their power to harm you if you do not agree with them, and it is (2) MANIPULATIVE PERSUASION in the sense that feminists deliberately distort the truth in order to sell and push their ideology.  The basic move in the appeal to the dictionary definition is an appeal to shame. In a highly egalitarian society such as ours, people are very vulnerable to being socially shamed if they hold anti-egalitarian views.  Feminists, by simply equating feminism with the egalitarian view in regard to the sexes, attempt to socially shame and stigmatize anyone who does not identify as a feminist or accept feminist ideology as being an anti-egalitarian or sexist.

This tactic is of course not limited to appeals to the dictionary; many feminists as a matter of course label anyone who disagrees with their ideological position as “sexist” or even “misogynist.” This is DISHONEST because it isn’t true.  Most people in the modern West are egalitarians with respect to the sexes—ironically, the largest group in the modern West of non-egalitarians with regard to the sexes are certain kinds of feminists, who are female supremacists.  So, a feminist tells a LIE (manipulative persuasion) by saying feminism and egalitarianism of the sexes are the same, and attempts on the basis of this lie to SHAME and STIGMATIZE you (coercive persuasion) for not being a feminist on the false basis that not being a feminist is equivalent to not being an egalitarian regarding the sexes, or worse, is being a sexist, or still worse, is being a misogynist.

All this seems pretty obvious.  I’m only bothering to spell it out because I enjoy laying things out clearly.

The SECOND reason the dictionary definition of feminism fails is that it is not unambiguous. The problem turns on the word “equality.”  As the philosopher Roger Scruton has observed, there is hardly a more important word in modern political discourse that is so entirely resistant to clear definition:


Almost everyone in the modern West is “for equality,” but at the same time is completely unable to say what it is, how we would get it, and why it’s so desirable in the first place.  Almost no one, in the West or anywhere else, thinks that people should be treated “equally” in every respect. Nor is it clear exactly what it even MEANS to “treat people equally” in many cases.

Which brings us back to the problem with using such an unclear term in a definition.  There are simply too many ways to take “equality” for the definition to actually make clear what it is talking about.  Let me give just two examples of why this is bad:

(1) Since one kind of equality is identity or sameness, a stupid person who desires “equality” will tend to desire what we could call exactly-the-same-ness.  The problem with this is the context of the sexes, is that men and women are NOT the same, but rather different in fundamental ways.  This doesn’t mean, of course, that they should be treated unequally in the sense of unfairly, but remember, this is the stupid person’s reasoning we are going through.  “The only way to achieve equality is by sameness,” the stupid person reasons, “so equality requires that men and women be treated the same, and even more, that they be made the same. And since it is a moral imperative that they be made the same, they must really be the same, metaphysically. So we must ignore any evidence of natural difference, for example, biology, and indeed more than ignore it, condemn it as sexist.”

Since stupid people tend to equate equality with sameness, they also tend to equate difference with inequality, and so a great deal of modern feminism, as an ideology, advocates biological denialism. MOST PEOPLE who are principled egalitarians and want to see justice between the sexes (which is most people) are NOT signing up for an ideology that requires them to deny biology and other inconvenient parts of reality.  The dictionary definition of feminism does nothing to rule out the interpretation of equality as exactly-the-same-ness, which entails biology denialism specifically and more generally reality denialism.

(2) This one is also fairly obvious, given that it has been a point of contention in the West at least since Rousseau and the French Revolution, although it is probably more associated in the popular mind with Marx and Marxism.  I am of course talking about the distinction between equality of opportunity, which holds there ought to be a “level playing field” in which no one “begins the game” with any unearned or unfair advantages or disadvantages, and that, so long as the game isn’t rigged, and the players play fairly, justice has been satisfied, even if the outcomes of the players may be widely different; and equality of outcome, which holds that the game must be rigged to ensure that no one wins or loses, and indeed, no matter what the players do or fail to do, they obtain exactly the same results in the game.

The trouble with the Marxist understanding of equality is that it is antithetical to the other primary modern Western value, freedom or liberty.  The classical-liberal view accepts inequality of outcome, because it values both equality and liberty. So once again, the dictionary definition of feminism fails to tell us whether a feminist is interested in preserving freedom and liberty, especially and including women’s freedom, or whether a feminist, in Marxist fashion, is an authoritarian or totalitarian who hates liberty because it results in a kind of inequality which is deemed unacceptable.  Most people in the modern West place a high value on liberty, and would not sign up for an ideology that is anti-liberty.  However, there is also a rather sizable and vocal feminist minority (perhaps even a majority, certainly a plurality) who are more than happy to sacrifice liberty for the sake of their (Marxist) vision of equality—most of them are delusional or catastrophically naïve, and advocate the suppression of liberty on the assumption that it will only be the liberties of others which will be restricted.

I’m sure that if Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn got the censorship laws they advocate put in place, they would expect not ever to be subject to them—but that isn’t how things work, when you give the state broad powers to censor and control.  For example, consider a case from the history of feminism itself: Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, thwarted time and again in their attempts to implement censorship laws in the United States (they were repeated blocked by the First Amendment) eventually turned their efforts to Canada, which has no equivalent of the US’s First Amendment.  And they partially succeeded!  It became part of Canadian law that certain kinds of books could not be imported into Canada nor sold in Canadian bookstores. Really, they should have seen it coming.  Now, since the laws banned books that contain thing X, and MacKinnon and Dworkin write books about how awful a thing thing X is, it naturally follows that their books contain thing X—yes, it is there only in order to be condemned, but the law makes no distinction between various uses of thing X.  So, to their surprise and horror, MacKinnon and Dworkin found that they had succeeded in banning their own books in Canada and among the most affected by the new censorship laws were feminist bookstores and publishers, who found they could no longer publish or sell feminist books thanks to the new feminist censorship law. Feminism had gotten what it had asked for, and it had succeeded in censoring itself!

In sum, the dictionary definition of feminism fails as a useful definition because it asserts something false to actual usage, namely, the identity of feminism and egalitarianism regarding the sexes—and it does this dishonestly, as a technique to coerce and manipulate by means of appeals to shame made on the basis of this conflation; furthermore, it fails to sufficiently make clear what “feminism” even means, with the result that entire point of giving a definition, to make the meaning of a word clear, is not achieved.

I could talk about some other things, such as the inherent sexism involved in term itself,


but that is more of a meta-criticism of the term “feminism” than the failure of the dictionary definition of it.  So let this be enough for now.

I’ll leave you with a link to Satoshi Kanazawa’s article Why Modern Feminism is Illogical, Unnecessary, and Evil.  Read it and think it over.

Harambe the Gorilla and American Race Relations

As most of you know, in May 28, 2016, a three-year-old boy managed to get into the gorilla enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo.  The child was approached by the gorilla Harambe, whose behavior towards the child was ambiguous—since the incident was filmed, you can see for yourself—and one of the zookeepers, fearing for the boy’s life, shot and killed Harambe.

This was sad, and much like the case of Cecil the lion, gave many Americans an occasion to indulge in their over sentimentality about animals.  As far as I can tell, while unfortunate, the zoo worker acted reasonably under the circumstances.  It would have been very easy for Harambe, who as a gorilla and not a human being certainly bears no moral blame for anything, to have severely injured or killed the child, even unintentionally.

More unfortunately, the incident gave those Americans interested in race baiting an opportunity to indulge in that also, for example:

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 5.43.35 PM.png

So Hood Intellect tells us (1) this is was example of ‘white privilege’, and that (2) IF the boy had been black, there would have been a different outcome.

Hypotheticals Contrary to Fact are usually safe for rhetoricians and demagogues, since there is usually no real way to disprove “If things had been different from how they actually were, this other thing would have been different too,” e.g. “If the Nazis had won World War 2, the world in 2016 would be a better place.”  I tend to doubt that claim, but we have no way of testing it, since its basis is a hypothesis contrary to fact, that is, a hypothetical that we can imagine, but which isn’t true.

However, in this case, Hood Intellect had jumped the gun with his race baiting—this was one of those rare case where we were actually able to test a hypothesis contrary to fact, since as it happened, Hood Intellect’s information about the boy being white was incorrect. The boy was, in fact, black.

That serves as complete refutation of BOTH of Hood Intellect’s claims: Since the boy was, in fact, black, the killing of Harambe was (1) clearly NOT an example of ‘white privilege’ and (2) it is clearly NOT the case that, if the boy was black, which he was, “they would’ve found a tranquilizer,” instead of fatally shooting Harambe.  If anything, this shows that the workers at the Cincinnati Zoo are not racist, which is what we should expect, since there are almost no real racists in America.  (I do not count people who have never have never had much interaction with people of other races, and who therefore can be awkward and uncomfortable at first as “racist,” white or otherwise, and neither should you.)

But since Hood Intellect is, as I’ve said, a demagogue and a race-baiter, he was unfazed by the complete refutation of his claims by reality.  Like all ideologues, he merely adjusted the facts to fit his narrative:

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 5.43.01 PM.png

Hood Intellect NOW blames the shooting of Harambe on ‘whiteness’ in a DIFFERENT way.  Before, Harambe was shot “for a white boy’s safety,” but oops, the boy was black—so now, Harambe was not shot to ensure a black boy’s safety (which he was) but because of the inherent violence of white people.  (What Hood Intellect is overlooking is that tranquilizers TAKE TIME TO WORK, especially on 440 lb gorilla, time the child in immediate danger might not have had—not that I expect a rational argument to move Hood Intellect’s intellect.)

The incident caused such a big reaction, I think in part, because a large segment of the American public are getting very tired of this kind of dishonest rhetoric, in which white people are damned if they do and damned if they don’t—and not just white people either. I think most Americans, black, white, asian, whatever, are generally fair-minded, and really dislike race-baiting.  It clearly DOES NOT MATTER to Hood Intellect what the people involved were thinking or what they did or why they did it—no, he is going to USE this incident to race-bait, no matter what. He has a narrative in which “white people” are the villains and he is going to TELL THAT STORY come hell or high water.  For all I know, the zoo worker that shot Harambe was also black.  Was he? I don’t know. Do you? But I don’t need to know that, to know he made the right call, even if the death of Harmabe was unfortunate, which it was.

What I don’t see ANYWHERE in the story of the death of Harambe is ANY kind of malice, especially not any kind of RACIAL MALICE or RACISM.

The only place I see POISON is in the race-baiting rhetoric of Hood Intellect and those like him, who don’t give one damn about the facts, but only want to demonize white people, a kind of rhetoric that is all-too-common in many parts of the American left.  Nor is this kind of anti-white rhetoric something on which black people like Hood Intellect have a monopoly.  There are plenty of white people who take great delight in white-hate.  (And of course, for all I know, Hood Intellect might be white. A Twitter avatar of a black man doesn’t prove he is a black man after all).

This same kind of venomous rhetoric is endemic in feminism also, where it is men, rather than white people, who are demonized.  Although now, thank to the magic of “intersectionality” you can double, triple, or quadruple down, and damn not just whites or men, but white men, or straight white men, or cis het white men.  Or able-bodied, thin cis het white men.

This rhetoric is poisonous because it privileges narrative over reality and gives a license to hate the demonized and dehumanized other—all in the name of condemning those who demonize and dehumanize the other.  The irony is amusing and ironic, but ideologies don’t get ironic; that requires one to step outside one’s monomania for blame and revenge.

We live in a world of tarantulas.



Distributive Justice, Pattern Justice, Social Justice

Distributive justice is the kind of justice that is concerned with the distribution of goods.  Aristotle contrasts distributive justice with corrective justice, which “sets things straight” when there has been a violation of justice, either criminal or civil.

Aristotle further notes that distributive justice always involves some kind of idea of merit or desert, which will serve as the basis of the distribution.  Whether a distribution is regarded as just or not will depend on the standard of merit or desert brought to bear.

In some cases, a defective standard of desert will produce an obviously unjust distribution. For example, a racist might believe that his own race deserves more than other races (or that other races deserve less) just on the basis of using race as the criterion of desert.  Or again, in many legal situations (not all) Islam explicitly treats one man as worth the same as two women, so if a women deserves X, and man deserves 2X, just because he is a man.  Prima facie, these seem to be clear examples in injustice deriving from faulty standard of desert in seeking justice.

The philosopher Robert Nozick has argued that there are two basic kinds of theories of distributive justice, which I will call pattern theories and history of acquisition theories.

A pattern theory of distributive justice holds that a given distribution of goods, honors, wealth, income, and social opportunities is just if and only if it conforms to some sort of ideal rational pattern, e.g. “exactly equal for all” according to radical egalitarianism, or “whatever abstract pattern maximizes happiness” according to utilitarianism.

By contrast, a history of acquisition theory of distributive justice holds that a given distribution of goods is just if and only if all persons have acquired the goods they hold in the right way, e.g. via fair exchange.

Now, there is a good deal to criticize in Nozick, and I’m not endorsing him wholesale here, but this distinction seems cogent, as is the point he uses it to make:

Pattern theories of distributive justice are all necessarily incompatible with any significant amount of freedom or liberty for the simple yet profound reason that freedom disturbs patterns.

To illustrate this with an extreme example for clarity, suppose we adopt a radical egalitarian pattern theory and actually bring it about. We all have exactly an equal amount of wealth.  What am I free to do with my property? I cannot give away even the smallest amount of money to anyone, because the pattern would then be broken, and this would be, by definition, unjust.

And this will be the case regardless of what the pattern is: the free choices of agents will necessarily disrupt the pattern, which will then have to be restored, and for that matter, constantly maintained by coercive authoritarian force.

In other words, pattern theories of distributive justice necessarily destroy liberty and require authoritarian or even totalitarian policing to constantly force things to fit the pattern.

It goes without saying that Marxism is a paradigm case of a pattern theory, both in theory and in practice.

I also note that Social Justice is a pattern theory (not surprising, since it is cultural Marxism)—even if SJWs can never manage to say what the end state pattern is supposed to look like exactly.

Let me give another example. I’ve been playing a lot of Fallout 4 recently (fun game, highly recommended), and one of the things you do is manage a number of Settlements, assigning your settlers to different jobs.  You need food providers and guards, and you can have stores, including a general store, clothing store, weapons store, a medical clinic, and a bar.

Let’s say I have the following set-up

2 slots for farmers

3 slots for guards

1 each of the 5 types of store.

Suppose I have 10 settlers, 5 men and 5 women.

And now suppose I want to use a feminist pattern theory of justice that requires 50/50 representation in all jobs.

It should be obvious that I can’t have a static pattern. The guards can’t be 50/50 male/female because there’s 3 slots: it would have to be 2 men and 1 woman, or 1 woman and 2 men.  As for the stores, each is unique, so there can’t be 50/50 representation there either. Each merchant must be either male or female.  I can have 1 male farmer and 1 female farmer; that’s about as static as I can get.

So, to achieve “feminist pattern justice” I would have to rotate jobs around such that the male settlers and the female settlers changed jobs 50% of the time.

The math would get somewhat complicated, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that I could indeed do it. (It wouldn’t be that complicated: my famers are already 50/50, I keep one full-time male guard, and one full-time female guard, which leaves 6 jobs: I just make 3 sets of 2, and switch them back and forth between a male and a female.)

I would now have ACHIEVED feminist pattern justice in my settlement where every job is worked exactly equally by men and woman, either full-time or 50% of the time.

Now suppose that my settlers were real people and not video game characters who will do whatever I tell them. Suppose I have it set up as described above: both farmers and two guards static, the others switching 50% of the time, including a male and a female who switch between the weapon store and the clothing store.

Okay, now suppose this: My full-time female guard would rather farm and my full-time male farmer would rather guard, and they WANT to switch jobs (which would leave me with only female famers and always more male guards than female guards!  Also, my 50/50 weapons store/clothing store minders talk it over, and the woman wants to work at the clothing store full-time (rather than half the time) and the man wants to work at the weapons store full-time rather than half.

May I allow them their “liberty” for their “pursuit of happiness”?

I may not. To do so would necessarily to be to disrupt the pattern as dictated by feminist pattern justice.  It would not only not be morally allowable for me to allow these deviations from the pattern, it would be morally obligatory upon me to force my settlers to fit the pattern.

And what if they grew angry and resentful at me for thwarting their freedom to make life choices which they (rightly) believe to be in their personal best interest, in their interests of happiness and a maximally good life? What justification can I give for my totalitarian interference with their liberty and my deliberate thwarting of their happiness?

Why, justice of course! Specifically, SOCIAL JUSTICE.

Under the rubric of Feminist Pattern Social Justice I not only may act in totalitarian matter, crushing the freedoms of others and significantly impairing their happiness, I MUST DO SO.  


Yet it seems evident that by controlling the choices of others in a directly totalitarian manner in order to force actual living individuals to conform to an abstract pattern is extremely unjust. It is, in fact, evil. Obviously evil. It would deny what some have described as self-evident truths that all persons have unalienable rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Following the ideal of Feminist Pattern Social Justice morally requires that I disregard the rights of others to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Nozick regards this as reductio refutation of pattern theories of distributive justice. The argument in simplest form would be:

  1. Pattern theories of distributive justice entail an unjust from of authoritarian control to force people to fit the pattern and the eradication of whatever freedoms that would disrupt the pattern, including rightful freedoms.
  2. No theory of distributive justice can be correct or just if it entails unjust authoritarian control over people and the eradication of some or all of people’s rightful freedoms.
  3. Therefore, no pattern theory of distributive justice can be correct or just.

This seems basically sound to me, and a fairly obvious point. If justice requires distribution according to an abstract pattern, then a great deal of coercive force will be needed to implement the pattern (I’m thinking of Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot as real world examples) and an extreme and perhaps total curtailment of liberty will be necessary in order to prevent persons from using their liberty to make choices that disrupt the pattern.

And so I return to one of my perennial themes: ‘social justice’ is ethically wrong, because it violates justice, justice in its ordinary sense, without need of a qualifying adjective.

Therefore, I will continue to fight against social justice and SJWs in word and deed, wherever and however I can.

Proofs and Demonstrations

There seems to be widespread misunderstanding about what proofs are, or as I prefer to call them, demonstrations. The Greek word is ἀπόδειξις, which means “to make something manifest, to show something, to place it before one’s view as evident.”

For something to be evident (as you can surmise from the vid– root) is for it to be “fully seen, completely in view, manifest to one’s eyes”.

A demonstration aims to make the truth of something evident.  “Evidentness” is the aim or end of a proof or demonstration.  This is important, because “evidentness” is also involved in every demonstration, and not simply as its end.

For a demonstration to succeed in making something evident, it must be both logically valid and have true premises.  And the validity of the demonstration as well as the truth of its premises must themselves be evident.  Sometimes this requires further argument or demonstration, but sometimes it does not.

Demonstrations are arguments, and they take place at the level of λόγος or discursive reasoning.  The level of λόγος is also the level of language, so all arguments, proofs, and demonstrations (I am using these as synonyms now) are presented in language, which can be informal or highly formalized.

The dependence of demonstrations on evidentness is shown in that

  1. Demonstrations aim at making the truth of a proposition, the conclusion, evident.
  2. Demonstrations require evident propositions, i.e. true premises, to succeed.
  3. Demonstrations require evidently valid reasoning whereby the conclusion is reached.

What this shows is that there is a power of the soul upon which discursive reasoning, λόγος, depends, and to which it is inferior. In Greek, this power is called νόησις [noēsis].  In Latin, it is called intellectus.  It comes uncertainly into English, sometimes as “the intellect,” sometimes as “intelligence” sometimes as “understanding” or “the understanding,” and sometimes as “intuition.”  Modern English-speaking analytic philosophers sometimes call it “a priori intuition.”

Personally, I loathe to word “intuition,” since it connotes, to me and many people, something like “a vague hunch or feeling about something.” And νόησις is the opposite of vague.  It is, in fact, the very touchstone of certain knowledge.

Let me take an example I’m fond of, given by Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll of Alice in Wonderland fame).  One of the simplest logical forms is modus ponens, which has the following schema:

  1. P ⇒ Q
  2. P
  3. ∴ Q


  1. If P is true then Q is true,
  2. P is true.
  3. So Q is true.

Well and good. How do we know this is valid? How do we know it is the case that “If P is true then Q is true” taken together with “P is true” allows us to know that Q is true?

The answer is, we see that it is so. That is to say, it is evident. Or if you prefer, noetically evident.

There is no possible way in which modus ponens can be demonstrated to be valid. As with many other basic logical truths and axioms, it is “too simple” to be demonstrated. It is, rather, one of the basic elements any demonstration always and necessarily relies on.

Aristotle famously emphasizes this, that it is an error (and he adds, a sign of lack of sufficient education) to think that everything requires a demonstration. If this were the case, then every demonstration would require a demonstration, and that too another demonstration, resulting in an infinite regress, such that nothing would ever be demonstrated.  Demonstrations require that we can “go back” to evident starting points. If there were nothing that was evident without demonstration, that is, self-evident, there would be no demonstrations—remember, the very idea of a demonstration involves the idea of the evident.  Their purpose is to make something evident.

The reason one gives a λόγος is to make something evident, manifest to νόησις.  Two more Greek words are useful here. One of Aristotle’s favorite words is δήλον [dēlon], which means “clear, evident, manifest.”  Anywhere I’ve written evident in this post, you could substitute δήλον.  Another very important Greek word is ἀληθής, which means “true.” The noun form, for ‘truth’ is ἀλήθεια.  Note the initial alpha privative α-.  The Greek word for “truth” is a-lēthē-ia where λήθη (lēthē) like the river and the goddess Λήθη means “hidden, concealed, covered.” So the Greek word for truth means, literally, “unconcealment” and thus shows its connection to what is evident or δήλον.  What is true, ἀληθής, is what is evidentδήλον.

What is crucial to emphasize is that being evident/δήλον is something that relates to our power of intellectual sight, to the νοῦς and νόησις. νοῦς is the power or faculty of the soul. νόησις is the activity. νοῦςνόησις :: power of sight : activity of seeing. νόησις is the being-at-work or actuality or ἐνέργεια of νοῦς.

One consequence of this that Aristotle (and others after him, such as St. Thomas Aquinas) draws is that God is pure νόησις.  The divine knowledge, divine omniscience, does not need λόγος, because λόγος is both subordinate to νόησις and inferior to it. When Aristotle defines the human being as “the living being with λόγος, he is distinguishing us from both lower animals and higher divine beings, gods, and very emphatically from the Unmoved Mover, Aristotle’s term for God.

Unlike νόησις, which can only fail to happen, λόγος can be false as well as true, it can be ψεῦδος as well as ἀληθής.  Plato explores the ψεῦδης λόγος [pseudēs logos] at length in The Sophist. In that dialogue, the Eleatic Stranger and Theaetetus are attempting to answer the question posed by Socrates (who is present, but silent save at the beginning) “What is the sophist?” They arrive at what seems to be the correct definition, namely, that “the sophist is the one who gives the ψεῦδης λόγος,” when all of a sudden, an imaginary sophist (voiced by the Eleatic Stranger) pops up and declares this to be impossible. “To speak falsely,” he argues, “is to say that which is not. But that which is not—is nothing.  As nothing at all, that which is not can neither be said nor thought. Parmenides himself has shown than nonbeing or nothing or ‘that which in no way is’ cannot be thought or said, and therefore, since ‘that which is not’ cannot be said, there is no one who says ‘that which is not,’ and therefore, there are no sophists, and therefore,” the sophist concludes with a self-satisfied smirk, “I am not a sophist!”

I won’t fully go into Plato’s analysis of how it is possible to say that which is not (the short answer is what Hegel will later call determinate negation—one cannot say what “in no way is” or absolute nonbeing—but one can say what something is not, by saying it is something other than it is; the ψεῦδης λόγος is a kind of covering over or obscuring of something by means of something else, rather than making it manifest as what it is).

For our purposes here it is enough to note that the realm of discursivity/λόγος is the realm of both truth and falsehood, unconcealment and concealment, making evident and obscuring from view.

Now, every argument will have certain necessary components.  Arguments are not things that happen “all at once” (like νόησις) but rather step by step.  This means they have parts.  Arguments have a form; this form may be valid or invalid. Arguments are composed of propositions, the premises, which can be true or false.  And propositions in turn are composed of terms, which may be clear or unclear.  A sound argument will have clear terms, true premises, and a valid form.

This is not hard to understand. But because all arguments have this structure, all arguments may be challenged on any of these three grounds: the validity of the argument may be called into question, the truth of the premises may be called into question, and the clarity or meaning of the terms may be called into question.

What I want to emphasize is that this is always possible, for any argument, by the very nature of an argument.  It is therefore also subject to sophistical abuse.  The philosopher Peter Geach gives two examples of this:



It is trivially easy to use the sophistical tricks of

  1. demand terms used in a demonstration be defined. When they are defined, as they must be, in other terms, demand that the new terms be defined in turn. Repeat infinitely.
  2. demand that the premises of a demonstration be demonstrated. If a new demonstration is given, demand that its premises be demonstrated in turn. Repeat infinitely.
  3. demand that the validity of a demonstration be demonstrated. If a new demonstration is given, demand that its validity be demonstrated in turn. Repeat infinitely.

The trouble is that some of the ancient sophists and some people today believe that these sophistical tricks constitute actual refutations of arguments or demonstrations.

But they obviously do not, since they can be applied to any proof, argument, or demonstration whatever, regardless of what it actually says.

I bring this up because these are favorite techniques used by many modern atheists.  Frequently, one hears them say “There is no evidence for God.” If one gives a demonstration, they demand that the demonstration be demonstrated, and so on, ad infinitum, and when one fails to meet this impossible demand, they smugly conclude that one has failed to demonstrate the existence of God. This is sophistry.  One could ask them to demonstrate that one’s demonstration has failed, and if they answer, demand that they demonstrate the demonstration, etc.  Anyone can play sophistical games.

I think that a very common error today is that people misunderstand the nature of proof or demonstration.  They seem to believe proof is something that COMPELS ASSENT.  But that isn’t what proof does. The task of a demonstration is to make something evident, that is, to place it before one’s eyes as clearly true. No one, however, and certainly not a demonstration, can compel anyone to actually look at what is placed in front of them.  Whether or not to actually look at or follow a demonstration is a decision of the will.  And so is the act of  ASSENTING to the truth of a proposition. If I “know in advance” that a given conclusion is wrong, I need not pay any attention to any argument given for that conclusion—other than, as Peter Geach once put it, to locate the fallacy.

What can we take away from this?

One can willfully and sophistically reject a perfectly cogent demonstration.  The fact that one is unconvinced by a demonstration is not a refutation of that demonstration.  The mother of a criminal might refuse to be convinced that “her baby boy” committed the crime, regardless of any amount of argument or evidence presented to her. This is not, however, a refutation of the case for her son’s guilt.

One way to short-circuit at least some kinds of sophistical regress tricks is to invoke Socrates’ principle of fair play in dialogues, which boils down to taking turns:


In other words, in a dialogue, which is a back and forth, you get one.  If you ask me to demonstrate something once, that’s fair enough (assuming your are asking in good faith). If I comply, and you then ask me to demonstrate my demonstration, the proper response is “No. I gave you your one. Now it’s your turn to show there’s something wrong with my argument, if you can.  Until you do this, I have no more responsibility here.  But if you do give a refutation of my demonstration, then it will be my turn to show why your refutation fails.”

I’m constantly amazed that so many people think “I’m not convinced” is a refutation. It isn’t. It’s not even a statement about the demonstration, but about one’s own psychological state.  The mere fact that someone is unconvinced may be because the demonstration is defective; but it may also be because the person in question is stupid, or ignorant, or failed to follow the demonstration, or is willfully set against being convinced for some extraneous reason (like the mother of the criminal’s love for her son).

As I said, the purpose of a proof or demonstration is to make something evident as true. But “evident” means “can be seen to be true” not “must be seen to be true.”  A matter may be evident in itself, but not evident to some people. Nothing can be made evident to those who will not look, or who refuse to accept the testimony of their eyes. You can reasonably be said to have “fed” someone if you set food before them to eat.  If they refuse to eat it, that isn’t your responsibility, but theirs. There was food there to be eaten.

This is why it is almost always pointless to argue with the completely convinced ideologue.  It doesn’t matter what you say. He will refuse to hear you, or to look at anything that would contradict his ideology. Ideologues are often recognizable by their win/win stance: for example, many feminists hold that arguments for feminism are strong and sound, and also hold that any arguments against feminism are instances of “misogyny” and therefore are also arguments for feminism.  Marxists hold that arguments for Marxism are strong and sound, and arguments against Marxism show the ideological prejudices of the bourgeoisie, and are therefore arguments for Marxism. Freudians hold their arguments for sexual repression and neurosis to be strong and sound, and hold any arguments against sexual repression and neurosis to be evidence of sexual repression and neurosis and therefore as evidence for psychoanalysis.  And if you think it matters that strict Freudian psychoanalysis is not longer that popular, consider the way the pseudo-Freudian word “phobia” has invaded our modern political discourse, e.g. an argument for gay marriage is strong and sound; an argument against gay marriage is “homophobic” and therefore really an argument in favor of gay marriage. Any praise of Islam is justified; any criticism of Islam is unjustified, because it is “Islamophobia” and therefore indicative of mental illness, rather than reason.

“Racism” and “misogyny” in our day have also essentially become “-phobia” words.

Positions and arguments are dismissed as supposedly being signs of psychological and/or moral properties, e.g. “hate” and “fear.”

Planet of the Apes and Prejudice

Not quite a Jane Austen title, I know, but this is something I have found very fascinating for years.

Human beings seem to have a natural “love of their own.” Call it prejudice, if you want, but the truth seems to be that it is both deeply human and at the same time, superficial.

But let’s get to the story!


PLANET OF THE APES, Charlton Heston, Linda Harrison, Kim Hunter, Roddy McDowall, 1968, Tm & Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.

During the filming of Planet of the Apes in 1967, Charlton Heston noted “an instinctive segregation on the set. Not only would the apes eat together, but the chimpanzees ate with the chimpanzees, the gorillas ate with the gorillas, the orangutans ate with the orangutans, and the humans would eat off by themselves. It was quite spooky.”

James Franciscus noticed the same thing filming Beneath the Planet of the Apes in 1969. “During lunch I looked up and realized, ‘My God, here is the universe,’ because at one table were all the orangutans eating, at another table were the apes, and at another table were the humans. The orangutan characters would not eat or mix with the ape characters, and the humans wouldn’t sit down and eat with any one of them.

“I remember saying, ‘Look around — do you realize what’s happening here? This is a little isolated microcosm of probably what’s bugging the whole world. Call it prejudice or whatever you want to call it. Whatever’s different is to be shunned or it’s frightening or so forth.’ Nobody was intermingling, even though they were all humans underneath the masks. The masks were enough to bring out our own little genetic natures of fear and prejudice. It was startling.”

(From Joe Russo and Larry Landsman, Planet of the Apes Revisited, 2001.)


What is so interesting about this (to me) is that the actors self-segregated based entirely on their costumes, their outward appearance.  It made no difference if the actor was black, white, or asian; what seemed to be the sole determining factor (for the duration of filming) was whether he or she was chimpanzee, orangutan, gorilla, or human.

On the one hand, this seems like bad news: it suggests that a certain level of prejudice against people who “aren’t like us” in an obvious visual way will always be a part of human nature.  I’m certain it is the sort of thing that can be overcome with practice, but it seems to be our default state.

On the other hand, it strikes me as good news: it seems to show that in most cases racial prejudice is an incredibly superficial thing, that it is literally all surface, and that the greater part of this kind of behavior is not rooted in any deep antipathy or hatred of other races.

I suspect this common tendency is part of human nature, and we should certainly be aware of it—but that also means not making more of it than it is.  It should caution us about labelling every kind of tendency towards self-segregation as “racism”—assuming that word carries connotations of racial hatred or prejudice.

Witches, Patriarchy, White Supremacy

We need to talk about a serious threat to all of us: WITCHES.

Witches are evil. They are a great evil at work in the world right now, using their evil magic to cause great harm to humanity. I wish to make sweeping changes to our laws and public policies and social mores in order to combat the evil of witches and witchcraft.

But I don’t need to be able to say exactly what I mean by witches and witchcraft.  I just have the special ability, based on my personal experience as a victim of witchcraft , to be able to detect it at work nearly everywhere. It may be possible for me to teach you to be able to detect witchcraft everywhere, but maybe not: it could be you are blind to witchcraft because you are already under the spell of evil witches. That’s the thing about witches: they use their witchcraft to make witchcraft undetectable by anyone under the influence of witchcraft.

I also don’t need to produce any evidence that witches and witchcraft exist and are at work actively doing evil to us. My assertions are enough evidence, because I am a victim of witchcraft, and victims of something have special privileges. You may not have had such personal experiences as a victim of witchcraft, so you may not be able to see it. But since I am a victim, you are morally and intellectually obligated to take my word for it without requiring any kind of objective evidence! To ask for evidence would be victim blaming and also helping the evil witches!

I demand the power to conduct witch hunts, to seize witches on the suspicion of witchcraft, to try, convict, and punish witches on the basis of accusations.  Witchcraft is so heinous a crime, there can be no defense of it—not even innocence!

If you are not willing to grant me unlimited witch hunting powers to fight this clear and present evil and danger of witchcraft, then you are clearly under the spell of the witches, and I am justified in denouncing you as, if not a witch, then as a witch-apologist. And as a witch-apologist, you also need to be socially shamed and possibly fired from your job.

On the other hand, if you have a problem with allowing me unlimited power to conduct witch hunts and change our laws and social structures and whole way of life, if you have a problem giving me the power to ruin people’s lives with mere accusations, just on the basis of my claiming to be a victim of witchcraft, without being able to

  1. Say exactly what witches and witchcraft are,
  2. Show that witches actually exist, and haven’t been simply made up by me,

then surely you’ll agree that it’s fair for me not to grant you any special status or privileges or social powers or belief for your righteous political agenda to “smash Patriarchy” or “dismantle White Supremacy,” unless and until,

  1. if you are a feminist, you can prove that “Patriarchy” exists;
  2. if you are a leftist neo-racist, you can prove that a “White Supremacy” exists;

Unless and until you can do that, I’ll treat your ideas of “Patriarchy” and “White Supremacy” in exactly the same way I treat far-right ideologues’ ideas of “White Genocide” and “The International Jewish Conspiracy.”

That is, I’ll treat them as the absurd delusions of fanatical ideologues and will fight against making any substantial social or political changes on the basis of these delusions, no matter how much you assert they are real. I don’t doubt you believe these things, but then, neo-Nazis firmly believe in the international Jewish Conspiracy too—strong belief doesn’t make a thing real.  If you want to claim virtue or dictate behavior to others or make social policy changes to fight some evil—first you have to prove your evil isn’t imaginary.  Your belief in it isn’t evidence, even if you claim to be a victim of it.  Remember, I am a victim of witchcraft, and I say witches are real. You believe me, right?

Seems fair to me.

Zarathustra’s Speech “On the Tarantulas”




On the Tarantulas

Behold, this is the hole of the tarantula.  Do you want to see the tarantula itself?  Here hangs its web; touch it, that it tremble!

There it comes willingly: welcome, tarantula! Your triangle and symbol sits black on your back; and I also know what sits in your soul. Revenge sits in your soul: wherever you bite, black scabs grow; your poison makes the soul whirl with revenge.

Thus I speak to you in a parable—you who make souls whirl, you preachers of equality.  To me you are tarantulas, and secretly vengeful. But I shall bring your secrets to light; therefore I laugh in your faces with my laughter of the heights. Therefore I tear at your webs, that your rage may lure you out of your lie-holes and your revenge may leap out from behind your word justice. For that man be delivered from revenge, that is for me the bridge to the highest hope, and a rainbow after long storms.

The tarantulas, of course, would have it otherwise. “What justice means to us is precisely that the world be filled with the storms of our revenge“—thus they speak to each other. “We shall wreak vengeance and abuse on all whose equals we are not“—thus do the tarantula-hearts vow. “And ‘will to equality’ shall henceforth be the name for virtue; and against all that has power we want to raise our clamor!”

You preachers of equality, the tyrannomania of impotence clamors thus out of you for equality: your most secret ambitions to be tyrants thus shroud themselves in words of virtue.  Aggrieved conceit, repressed envy—perhaps the conceit and envy of your fathers—erupt from you as a flame and as the frenzy of revenge.

What was silent in the father speaks in the son; and often I found the son the unveiled secret of the father.

They are like enthusiasts, yet it is not the heart that fires them—but revenge.  And when they become elegant and cold, it is not the spirit but envy that makes them elegant and cold.  Their jealousy leads them even on the paths of thinkers; and this is the sign of their jealousy: they always go too far, till their weariness must in the end lie down to sleep in the snow.  Out of every one of their complaints sounds revenge; in their praise there is always a sting, and to be a judge seems bliss to them.

But thus I counsel you, my friends: Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.  They are people of a low sort and stock; the hangman and the bloodhound look out of their faces.  Mistrust all who talk much of their justice!  Verily, their souls lack more than honey.  And when they call themselves the good and the just, do not forget that they would be pharisees, if only they had—power.

My friends, I do not want to be mixed up and confused with others.  Some preach my doctrine of life and are at the same time preachers of equality and tarantulas.  Although they are sitting in their holes, these poisonous spiders, with their backs turned on life, they speak in favor of life, but only because they wish to hurt.  They wish to hurt those who now have power, for among these the preaching of death is still most at home.  If it were otherwise, the tarantulas would teach otherwise; they themselves were once the foremost slanderers of the world and burners of heretics.

I do not wish to be mixed up and confused with these preachers of equality.  For, to me justice speaks thus: “Men are not equal.”  Nor shall they become equal!  What would my love of the Superman be if I spoke otherwise?

On a thousand bridges and paths they shall throng to the future, and ever more war and inequality shall divide them: thus does my great love make me speak.  In their hostilities they shall become inventors of images and ghosts, and with their images and ghosts they shall yet fight the highest fight against one another.  Good and evil, and rich and poor, and high and low, and all the names of values—arms shall they be and clattering signs that life must overcome itself again and again.

Life wants to build itself up into the heights with pillars and steps; it wants to look into vast distances and out toward stirring beauties: therefore it requires height.  And because it requires height, it requires steps and contradiction among the steps and the climbers. Life wants to climb and to overcome itself climbing.

And behold, my friends: here where the tarantula has its hole, the ruins of an ancient temple rise; behold it with enlightened eyes!  Verily, the man who once piled his thoughts to the sky in these stones—he, like the wisest, knew the secret of all life.  That struggle and inequality are present even in beauty, and also war for power and more power: that is what he teaches us here in the plainest parable.  How divinely vault and arches break through each other in a wrestling match; how they strive against each other with light and shade, the godlike strivers—with such assurance and beauty let us be enemies too, my friends!  Let us strive against one another like gods.

Alas, then the tarantula, my old enemy, but me. With godlike assurance and beauty it bit my finger.  “Punishment there must be and justice,” it thinks; “and here he shall not sing songs in honor of enmity in vain.”

Indeed, it has avenged itself.  And alas, now it will make my soul, too, whirl with revenge.  But to keep me from whirling, my friends, tie me tight to this column.  Rather would I be a stylite even, than a whirl of revenge.

Verily, Zarathustra is no cyclone or whirlwind; and if he is a dancer, he will never dance the tarantella.

Thus spoke Zarathustra.

“Be a MAN. Get Married.”

Prager University released a video on YouTube called “Be a man. Get married” narrated by sociologist Brad Wilcox.

I’d like to share some thoughts on this video.

First I want to note something very important about Prager University’s YouTube videos. They are all, as a matter of policy, only around 5 minutes long.  My assumption is that this is so they can convey their message in a timespan that a majority of people will be able to handle.  But this has a couple of consequences.  First, the Prager faculty cannot make a detailed and lengthy argument.  To get their message across, they have to rely on rhetorical shorthand devices such as examples and illustrations.  This seems to work, as Prager has garnered over 70,000,000 views.  On the other hand, 5 minutes is simply not enough time to lay out anything more than a bare skeleton of an argument.  For example, the philosopher Peter Kreeft has made two Prager videoes “Where do Good and Evil Come From?” and “God vs Atheism: Which is More Rational?“, both of which I recommend, but neither of which gives Professor Kreeft anywhere near the time he needs to really make the argument: he isn’t so much making an argument, as presenting the outline of an argument.  If you want to see the argument actually spelled out at length, I suggest you read one or more of Professor Kreeft’s 50+ books.   He’s an extremely competent, well-respected philosopher who also has a gift for writing books accessible to people with little or no formal philosophical training.

So with that in mind, let’s have a look at Brad Wilcox’s “Be a man. Get married.” The video appears to be a summary presentation of Wilcox’s book For Richer, For Poorer: How Family Structures Economic Success in America.  Wilcox’s main argument is that married men take a different attitude towards life and particularly towards their work, such that married men are markedly more economically successful than single men, on average. Most of the “argument” such as it is, is an anecdote about a young man who was lazy and living in his parents’ basement until he got married, whereupon he had to “man up” and went on to become much more responsible, disciplined, self-motived, and above all (for Wilcox) economically successful.

Taken by itself, this is terrible argument to get married.  While I have no doubt that Wilcox is correct that married men earn more on average than single men, it simply doesn’t follow that (1) married men have more money than single men—the extra money they make is, after all, going to support their wife and children as well as themselves—nor that (2) married men are better off in any way other than economically, something which, given (1) is very like not true anyway.  So, if married men are no better off in being married except economically, and—by the way—they also aren’t even better off economically, except on paper, Wilcox’s case is pretty much a complete failure.

Add to that the fact that he comes across as morally hectoring men to “man up” and get married.  Few people like to be preached at in a condescending manner, especially when the preaching comes it the form of an argument that is almost laughably bad. No wonder Wilcox’s video provoked so much hostility around the net:

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Wilcox also completely ignores the potentially devastating consequences of a failed marriage for men, both economic and emotional.  He bangs on and on about the alleged rewards, but fails even to suggest that there might be risks, much less prohibitive risks for men to get married.

Now, as it happens, I think that marriage is one of the greatest goods possible for both men and women.  Wilcox’s case for it, however, is so bad that it does more harm than good. While I was watching it, I kept thinking of man advising young inner city black males “You should get into dealing drugs; there’s good money in it”, which is also superficially true, but leaves out that whole thing about the overwhelming likelihood of prison time and early, violent death.

Wilcox does actually manage to at least mention two decent points, or at least they appear in the video, one which speaks to the individual good of marriage and one which speaks to the social good:

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I went ahead and struck out the “financial well-being” part of that one.

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Wilcox does go on about the transformative effect of marriage, but he couches his case exclusively in terms of attitude towards work, which in turn leads men to work harder and make more money.  But with the distinct possibility of being less happy, having less leisure to enjoy one’s extra income, and having one’s extra income or more being taken away from one, it sounds very much like Wilcox is arguing that “Marriage makes men work harder, which is beneficial to someone other than them, so they should do that.” In Wilcox’s terms, marriage doesn’t seem like something that the pursuit of happiness would lead to; it sounds, in fact, much like something the pursuit of happiness would mitigate against.

What someone wishing to make the case for marriage to men in the modern West needs to  do is to show how they benefit from it.  And this benefit could with partial accuracy be expressed in the phrase “be a man“—except this way of putting it is apt to sound like moral shaming language.  The truth of the matter, however, is that it should be expressed in terms of virtue and self-actualization: if you would be a man in the fullest sense, you must be a husband and a father.  And why should you wish to be a man “in the fullest sense”? Because that is a component of your εὐδαιμονία—your happiness or flourishing; it is because you are a human being, and to be a human being means, among other things, to be a member of a sexually dimorphic species.  No one, I think, would seriously argue against the propositions that sex and sexuality are major components of the human body and psychē—many of the major moral arguments of the current age revolve directly around sex and sexuality—nor would anyone contend that, collectively, for any gives biological species, reproduction is one of the most important factors to consider about that species.  And of course, no matter how much our prevailing sexual ethos has attempted to conceptually separate sex and sexuality from reproduction, every honest human being knows (so I would assert) that sex and sexuality are naturally directed at reproduction.  That is what they are for.  In older language, having children is the τέλος—the “end”, “purpose,” or “goal”—of sex.

One particularly virulent modern myth is that nature does not have any “ends”, “goals”, or “purposes”, that there are no natural τέλη or that if there are, they are not normative for human beings. I cannot lay out the full case here, but I will note in passing (1) natural τέλη were never “refuted” by any sound philosophical arguments—they were simply deemed unuseful by thinkers such as Descartes and Bacon, who saw in the idea of natural ends (rightly) an obstacle to their project of the human conquest and subdual of nature.  The scientific method does not find natural τέλη because it is part of that method not to acknowledge them from the the outset.  Consider Descartes’ argument, that τέλη have no place in science because the purposes of God are inscrutable:


And for this reason alone I consider the customary search for final causes to be totally useless in physics; there is considerable rashness in thinking myself capable of investigating the < impenetrable > purposes of God.

Descartes, René. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes: Volume 2 (p. 39). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Notice that (1) this argument could just as well apply to the parts of physics of which Descartes approves, efficient and material causes, for is there not “considerable rashness in thinking myself capable of investigating” how God has designed the world to operate in any respect? And (2) from the point of view of modern physics, in hindsight, which is the more “inscrutable” proposition: “The spin of a Higgs boson is zero” or “the purpose of eyes in organisms is sight“?

Only someone deeply in the grip of anti-teleological metaphysics could deny that eyes are for seeing, lungs for oxygenating the blood, the legs for locomotion, and sex for the production of children.  The fact that seeing, breathing, walking or running, and especially sex also give us pleasure—sometimes great pleasure—in no way cancels this basic natural directedness-towards of our powers.

One needs only the additional premise that “what our natural powers aim at is constitutive of our good” in the way e.g. knowledge is good, because our natural cognitive powers are aimed at knowledge and truth in a way they are not aimed at deception and falsehood.  Or as Aristotle begins the Metaphysics: “All men by nature desire to know.”

Why get married? Why become a husband and a father? (Or a wife and a mother? for that matter).  Because this belongs to the fulfillment of your nature, which just is the condition of your happiness or εὐδαιμονία.  Certainly one can elect to follow another path in life, and  seek a kind of secondary or sub-optimal εὐδαιμονία, or one can be prevented from seeking  optimal realization of one’s nature by external circumstances.  Life is not fair that way.  None of that changes the fact that being married, with children, is optimal condition for the happiness or flourishing of human beings, women as well as men.

But isn’t it true that our modern society has deprecated marriage, has created conditions in which men have an entire range of disincentives to marry and to become fathers (fathers in the true sense—rearers of children—not in the merely biological sense)?

It sure has. This is one of the reasons that Western civilization is dying.  We are not reproducing, neither biologically nor in our cultural ideas and values—the transmission of which, from parents to children, is one of the primary purposes of the family.

Any civilization that makes war on marriage and the family will destroy itself.  And it will also, along the way, deprive vast numbers of men and women of their opportunity to maximize their own happiness, forcing them to settle for something less.  Both of these are a great shame.