Friday, August 15, 2014

President Wormwood and Professor Screwtape

If, as implied in The Screwtape Letters, "demons themselves are teachers," then teachers are -- or can be -- demonic.

I mean, someone is teaching this shit. So let's give course credit where it's due: Obama is our first president to have been the unalloyed creature of an insular educational system created and staffed almost wholly by leftists, devoid of meaningful diversity. Thus, we should not be surprised that his administration has produced no winners. Except for Jimmy Carter, who has plunged to a secure #2 on the list of all-time worst presidents.

A creature of the system. Now, we are all creatures, and we all exist in horizontal and vertical systems of dependence and interdependence. But it is not without reason that Mr. Screwtape is especially proud of his particular system and of the students it has tempted and molded. A coronerstone of this malefic system, according to Jacobs, is "the Historical Point of View" (although familiar with it, I haven't actually read the whole of Screwtape, only passages, so all quotes are from or in Jacobs).

Screwtape assures his pupil, Wormwood, that while "only the learned read old books" -- to be exact, books published prior to the establishment of the Oprah Winfrey Show -- they are nevertheless, thanks to the System, "of all men the least likely to acquire wisdom while doing so."

How does this System work its dark magic? "We have done this by inculcating the Historical Point of View," which, "put briefly, means that when a learned man is presented with any statement in an ancient author, the one question he never asks is whether it is true."

Rather, the modern denizen of the looniversity bin will place the source in its historical context, and if he's really successful, explain it with reference to the author's class, or gender, or sexual orientation. But by no means will he regard the author

"as a possible source of knowledge -- to anticipate that what he said could possibly modify your thoughts or behavior -- this would be rejected as unutterably simple-minded."

Oh Gagdad, will you ever give up the cheap polemics? Well, let's consider our presidential product of this demonic System. Not only is he a Wormwoodian student, he's a Screwtapian Master, a Constitutional Scholar, no less. What sort of wisdom did he acquire from contact with our learned and venerable founders?

First, he dismisses the quaint idea that there is wisdom to be had, for these privileged heteronormative aristocrats forged only "a charter of negative liberties,” which places severe constraints on what the state can do to us.

Seriously, it's almost as if these white dudes were frightened of state power, as if the state, of all things, can endanger our natural rights!

Our Scholar-President went on to observe that our founding document “says what the states can’t do to you (and) what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf.”

Hmm. Are we reading the same document? I'm pretty sure there's something in there about ensuring domestic tranquility and securing the blessings of liberty to our posterior. In other words, the Constitution is supposed to have our backs. Its very reason for being is to secure and promote the natural rights alluded to in the Declaration and specified in various amendments, e.g., life, liberty, property, self defense, speech, assembly, worship, etc.

A man who is tired of those things is tired of life. And he seriously needs to get one, instead of devoting his annoying existence to eroding ours.

But that is not what well-trained demons do. Let's face it: they love to fuck with people, because without that perverse joy, they are reduced to absolute boredom. If you want to picture a black hole, imagine a Clinton without politics.

Another adultolescent genius, Ezra Klein, has checked into this Constitution business and assures us that the whole thing is "confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago and what people believe it says differs from person to person and differs depending on what they want to get done."

Klein's equally brilliant interlocutor muses that Republicans sure give this antiquated document -- over a hundred years old! -- "a whole lot of lip service." I wonder why? It's almost as if they are products of a different teacher from a different system.

Look at how Klein views the Law of the Land: it not only confuses but frustrates him, because it interferes with what he and our tykeminded progressives want to "get done."

But that is such a passive way to put it! For it is a truism that in order for the state to do something for you, it must first be given the power to do something to you (like fine you for not buying its crappy health insurance). But the state tends to have a selective institutional memory, and is prone to forget all about the first part of the bargain, so we end up paying an awful lot of money for the privilege of our own subjugation. After all, the business end of the state is the IRS, which is all do-to and no do-for.

Back to the contours of the Demonic System. "The Historical Point of View is one of the chief means by which we insulate ourselves from the possible wisdom of our ancestors," but not the only means. Another is what Lewis calls "Bulverism" -- or what the left calls Diversity and Multiculturalism and which the Raccoon calls the Absurdity of Absolute Relativism.

If you have attended a Screwtape-sponsored college, one of the first things you will have learned is how to Bulverize an author or text. It requires no skill at all, and yet, magically elevates one above the author who is being Bulverized. It is an intoxicating temptation because it renders the inferior soul superior to his superiors, and as we saw from the examples above (Professors Klein, Obama, and O'Donnell), it is difficult for the temporo-centric soul to resist.

Dávila has a perfectly apt aphorism to describe Bulverism: "Reducing another's thought to its supposed motives prevents us from understanding it." For example, just recently Harry Reid attacked a Supreme Court decision on the grounds that it was decided by "five white men." Even leaving the Bulverizing absurdity aside, it is an empirical fact that Harry Reid is whiter than Clarence Thomas's eyeballs.

But it doesn't matter. The Wormwoodian apprentice will have heard the dog whistle, and that is sufficient to settle the matter. Same with Citizens United. Turns out the Constitution does empower the state to limit free speech so long as a "corporation" is engaging in it, such as the New York Times, the L.A. Times, the Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and Hollywood, not to mention colleges and universities, which are big businesses too.

Screwtape assures his students of "the great truth [!] that refutation is no necessary part of argument."

Rather "Assume that your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error." President Obama has mastered this method to perfection. He would never condescend to prove he is right or his adversaries wrong. Rather, they just be hatin' on him! Stop hatin' all the time!

"That is how Bulver became one of the makers of the Twentieth Century." His "diabolical purpose" is "to remove questions of truth and falsehood from the mind's life." The well-trained student does not think of doctrines as true or false, but rather, "'academic' or 'practical,' 'outworn or contemporary,' 'conventional or ruthless.'" "Don't waste time" trying to convince with argument, rather, with jargon, shame, superiority, etc., such as "we are on the right side of history." In short, believe "not because it is true, but for some other reason. That's the game."

Once lured into the game, then "people can find themselves unable to recognize the difference [between truth and falsehood] even when it is put before them plainly: they come to possess invincible ignorance."

And what we call invincible ignorance is what products of Screwtape's system call the Smartest President Ever!


Edna Crabapple said...

If you want to picture a black hole, imagine a Clinton without politics.


julie said...

But doesn't matter. The Wormwoodian apprentice will have heard the dog whistle, and that is sufficient to settle the matter.

Today's example: Lewis & Clark's racial Inquisition

FTL said...

A couple of things:

1. Leftist argumentation is composed primarily of ad hominem fallacy. The problem is that ad hominem attacks work only if the person being attacked cooperates with the attacker. I picture an ad hominem attack as a club the attacker lays at the feet of his victim. It is up to the victim to grab that club and beat himself over the head with it.

1a. Pointing out hypocrisy is a form of ad hominem fallacy (tu quoque), and it, too, relies on the cooperation of the hypocrite. Besides the fact that a shameless person is naturally immune to any such charge, time and effort spent on establishing hypocrisy does nothing to advance an actual argument.

2. Regarding your description of The Constitution as a charter of negative liberties restricting the power of the state, I think it is critically important to point out that "the state" in our form of government is not some faceless force of nature. Our government is ultimately the expressed will (filtered though it is) of all the people with whom we share this land.

Though that may sound like an endorsement of the oft-heard the-people-have-spoken/elections-matter capitulation we get from GOP surrender monkeys and the national level elites who profit from electoral stalemate, it is not. Spending even only a moment imagining what could possibly be going on in the head of somebody willing to drive around with an "I {heart} Obamacare" bumper sticker on his car should be more than enough to illustrate why negative liberties are critically important.

mushroom said...

At the end of most editions of Screwtape, they have "Screwtape Proposes A Toast" in which he exposes the American education system. I think Lewis wrote this in '62. One of the paragraphs I have highlighted has Screwtape explaining:

All is summed up in the prayer which a young female human is said to have uttered recently: "O God, make me a normal twentieth century girl!" Thanks to our labours, this will mean increasingly, "Make me a minx, a moron, and a parasite."

Mission accomplished.

Barack said...

Stop hatin' on Julia!

Sandra Fluke said...

I resemble that remark!

Magister said...

Our Scholar-President went on to observe that our founding document “says what the states can’t do to you (and) what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf.”

He thinks the postwar German constitution is superior. German constitutionalism makes constant reference to what the State must do for you. "Positive rights," I think they call it.

What they mean is "State-enforced entitlements." Even charity wears jack-boots.

Magister said...

One more quick thing: the Germans call our constitutional model "negative rights." That is, our constitution defines some things but leaves a lot unstated and undefined. Leaving that much slack in the constitutional order is, to them, to define rights and freedom "negatively."

That means the State lacks the means to control everything.

Our founders were wise.

ted said...

Once lured into the game, then "people can find themselves unable to recognize the difference [between truth and falsehood] even when it is put before them plainly: they come to possess invincible ignorance."

From MOTT:

"What renders such an intellectual mirage all the more dangerous is that it is not, as a general rule, purely and simply a delusion or illusion. It is a mixture of truth and illusion, mixed in an inextricable way. The true serves to prop up the false and the false seems to lend the true a new splendor. It is therefore a mirage and not pure illusion, which would be easier to perceive."

Gagdad Bob said...

Or as someone said, percept follows concept.

Magister said...

"Percept following concept," perfect. Here's Ray Benson and Willie Nelson wisely begging to differ:

Gagdad Bob said...

I noticed the other day in that interview with world-class idiot Thomas Freidman, Obama complained of being unable to get anything done because of the balkanization of the media. In other words, when everyone thinks the same thing and they all agree with him, that's diversity. But if they deviate, that's evil balkanization!

Magister said...

"Brazen," my mom used to say, and not in a good way.

Gagdad Bob said...

It's true. I've never in my life seen such a bold liar.

Magister said...

Speaking of MOTT, here's a lovely song by Patrizia Laquidara:

The song expresses "The Hanged Man" position -- it's suspension, its equilibrium -- as fragile and vulnerable.

Gagdad Bob said...

You generally can't lie that way without a whole lot of winking going on, that is, people being in on the lie. For example, when I tell a tall tale to my young 'un, I might wink at the wife, so she doesn't accidentally break the spell. Obama's relationship to the MSM has been one big mutual Wink.

Magister said...

Bob, I'm reading Gil Anidjar's new book, Blood. The basic argument is that the Eucharist is the root of many of the world's evils, past and present: feudalism, capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, nationalism, Nazism, racism, etc. Naturally, he's one of the professors at Columbia who organizes all the hate-Israel stuff. The book is a bizarre slog of academese and a weirdly adolescent personal tone.

Gagdad Bob said...

The ultimate in Bulverization!

Magister said...

The big wink, definitely And Obama sure is a long goodbye.

I think ideology stains him through and through. The fundraising crony capitalism is his opportunist side. There's no evidence I can see that he isn't part of the international socialist left.

Someone back in April endured a very long dinner with Obama in a wine cellar. I spoke with this person. He was diplomatic but couldn't entirely hide his lack of enthusiasm.

I fear our President was less than scintillating and overstayed his welcome.

Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking of crazy and evil professors who are supported on the taxpayer's dime, This Guy.

Magister said...

Well, Bulverism is indeed a strong temptation. I'm certainly tempted to reduce the book to Anidjar's motive. When the argument is so overblown ...

I won't bore us ll with details. It's one of those books that is overall bonkers -- but there are interesting things said in it by the way. I'm sorry to have to wade through all 200+ pages.

Magister said...

Pino is Latin American lefty socialist convert jihadi. Perfect.

Good for this guy:

The president of Kent State University, Lester A. Lefton, slammed Pino for his behavior, saying the way Khaldi was treated was "reprehensible" and "an embarrassment to our university".

Pino is tenured. I wonder what he'd need to do to be fired.

Gagdad Bob said...

The perfect post-Professor Pino palate cleanser.

julie said...

Magister - these days, he'd probably have to express a conservative viewpoint. Otherwise, he can probably commit pretty much any kind of depravity and be practically bulletproof.

julie said...

Re. the quote of the century, he's absolutely right. Which is why I don't hold out much hope that things will get any better after the next election. At least with Carter, it only took four years for people to come to their senses; America voted for TFG twice.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"But that is not what well-trained demons do. Let's face it: they love to fuck with people, because without that perverse joy, they are reduced to absolute boredom."

And when there ain't no conservatives readily available they will gleefully turn on each other.

Magister said...

Yep, Pat gets that bit exactly right, as usual. Julie, I don't have much personal experience with tenure review cases, but I'm closely, erm, adjacent to it. It's really all about getting the first book done and published. It doesn't much matter how bad it is. That's the neutral quantitative standard everyone uses.

At some institutions, teaching evaluations count a bit if bad scores are sufficiently bad -- but marginally bad teaching won't trump a book placed with a reputable academic press. A second book will make you a "full" professor, which means you get to sit on many more hiring committees -- or not, if you prefer to kick back, which many do. I'm not against tenure per se. But it is, to put it mildly, easily abused.

Conservative viewpoints aren't so much the issue because conservative job candidates rarely make it to the on-campus interview pile.

Gagdad Bob said...

If Obama had a son... with Lois Lerner.

Gagdad Bob said...

Somebody needs to put in the caption to Michael Brown roughing up the store owner:

"You didn't build this!"

julie said...

Ha. If only he hadn't been shot, he could have had a promising career in the IRS. Or maybe working border patrol up north, where bagpipes are a serious threat.

Ace has some good commentary about that image, too.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Brown was simply helping to spread the wealth, just like the looters that loved him.

mushroom said...

I was on the side of the deceased since the cops have become so militarized. But it looks like the cop may be able to justify the shooting.

I can't believe anybody actually smokes Swisher Sweets so I assume Brown stole them to make blunts. What a thing to die over.

julie said...

I don't know enough about the situation, but the impression I have so far is that there may be no good guys in this fight; just two sets of thugs, one with state authority and one with street cred. I wish I had more faith in the police, but even as a kid I knew they weren't always the good guys. They're only human, no better.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Mushroom, I cooncur with demilitarizing police forces.
As for whether the cop was justified in shooting this poor, defenseless teenager I'll wait for all the evidence, unlike Holder and Obama.

Definitely looks like the Ferguson police really botched the protests/riots, however.

ted said...

Ok, just an observation: How has an act like this become normative for this audience? Have we declined this far?

julie said...

Wow. I was expecting a crowd of bros holding their beer cups aloft and possibly clutching fistfuls of dollar bills.

I noticed a lot of parents there; wonder if they were surprised at what they had brought their kids (mostly female) to see, or knew in advance? Sadly, I'm guessing it's the latter.

As to how it has become normative, I don't really understand it, but would simply note that our current resident's wife took her daughters to see Beyonce in concert - which amounts to the same, but with more stage effects - and praised her as a role model for all girls.

EbonyRaptor said...

The siege on truth is unrelenting. It exhausts me.

ted said...

Bob: I noticed on the sidebar you will be reading the biography on Alex Chilton. Have you ever heard the Replacements tribute to him?

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes. It's on the compilation I picked up a couple weeks ago. The bio is supposed to be very good, so I jumped on a cheap used copy...

Gagdad Bob said...


Not only did Westerberg write a tribute to Alex Chilton, but he learned guitar by playing along with Go All the Way by the Raspberries, so his his power pop pedigree couldn't be more lofty.

Also: interesting British documentary on the whole history of the LA music scene from the Byrds to the Eagles. I've only watched the first ten minutes, but David Crosby is such an insufferable load, that I find him almost fascinating. He always drips with clueless self-importance.

Jack said...

Looks like the kinder, gentler approach isn't really working that much better in Ferguson, MO than the stormtrooper method.

Maybe worse.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

It's obvious that Nixon is not cut out to be a leader. Plus, he kept using condescending words like "you will we allowed to speak."

In contrast the State Patrol Capt. Johnson is a leader and doesn't sound like a blithering imbecile.
If Nixon was smart he would let Johnson handle everything because Nixon is clearly a doofus.

I concur with Johnson's even keel approach, and his warning of arrests for those trying to make things worse set the right tone because of how he said it.

However, the Black Panthers and other agitators are gonna do everything they can to cause more chaos, so Johnson sure has his work cut out for him.

Democrat policies created this environment and I feel bad for guys like Capt. Johnson who is trying to keep a lid on this leftwing pressure cooker.

julie said...

I hadn't read the article. For just a moment there, Ben, I thought one of us was caught in a time warp.

Jack said...


Let's hope that Capt. Johnson can keep/restore order.

Over at NRO the far from extreme Rich Lowry makes the same point that the new policing method hasn't exactly quelled the looting etc. It appears now that the police are standing back and letting it happen.

I would hate to think that there are radicals from outside of MO stirring things up. Though it isn't a stretch to believe that is happening. Doing so might cause some real damage, and not just of the looting and pillaging kind.

Gagdad Bob said...

The first task of civilization is order, something the left will never understand. Disorder = suicide.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I listened to the press conference earlier, which is what I was commenting on, and Nixon was a stuttering, condescending fool that everyone could see fear oozing out of.
Not to mention he has the charisma of a weaselly hyena.

He's very fortunate to have Capt. Johnson but I'm not sure Nixon won't find a way to make it worse than he already has.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I cooncur, Bob, order should be the main goal and arresting the agitators should be a priority.

Jack said...

Now let's not be hasty, maybe the Panthers are there to bring calm and reconciliation.


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

It seems nuts to me that they allow these thugs to run around and incite rioting.
Maybe in Ferguson it's different but it's still illegal to make death threats and incite riots.

If they don't put a stop to this it will continue to get worse.

Van Harvey said...

If there were no riots tonight it was only because we had lightening, thunder and rain.

Press conferences and innuendos - both sides. That's all they got.

We, on the other hand, had multiple SWAT teams staked around our mall, and numerous threats to take the violence to the neighborhoods across the bridge.

I've bought my first gun.

Don't like it, but I take threats seriously. And no one, no one, can take Nixon seriously.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Will be praying for your family and you, Van.

julie said...

Van, I didn't realize you were so close to the action. I hope and pray things settle down.

Gagdad Bob said...

I remember buying some shells for my old 12 gauge during the Rodney King riots.

Christina M said...

We had race riots in Miami in 1980, 1982, 1984, and 1991. I asked Mike if they were as bad as the ones now. He said, "Yes, but we didn't have internet then." I lived there during the first three riots and it left me with a feeling of unease and an auto-reaction to hit the floor when I hear gunfire. The riots, the Mariel Boatlift (1980), the exploding crime rate from those Marielitos, and the corruption of just about everyone there, convinced me that Miami was no longer my hometown and that a rural environment would suit me better. It's like I already lived what this country is going through on grander scale now. Exactly the same issues. I'm kind of surprised that everyone isn't already armed.

Van Harvey said...

These riots in Fergusson are downright 'cute' in comparison to the Watts or Rodney King riots - there really is no comparison.

But unlike in those cases, the police are allowing a mob to persist itself, destroying the peace in their community and threatening, actually threatening to attack other communities because they are 'other' to them.

I've never owned a gun before, for no other reason that I never felt the need. A burglar is still more likely to receive five ball bearings in the face from my wrist rocket, than a blast of buckshot from my new shotgun. But that's useless against a carfull of a mobile mob, and having been threatened now I feel a need to be able to respond.


And I completely blame the police and the Gov. Not for using force, but for failing to. No one can be secure in their rights in the presence of a mob. There is no right of peaceful assembly regarding a riotous mob gathered in the middle of the street, into the night, chanting threats against the community, breaking bottles and otherwise disturbing the peace. Honestly it is such a clear cut case for the legitimate use of force. Give the order to disperse "Disperse or be shot. 10 seconds". Shoot and or arrest whoever is still there in 11 seconds. Done.

But because our rights aren't respected, because property rights don't have any standing any longer, and few other actual rights are even attempted to be upheld, or are so thoroughly corrupted in the law today, that there is any confusion on the issue. And because every branch of the State, and media, wackademia, etc, are complicit in that, when faced with a basic legitimate function of the State, they are entirely helpless, and We The People are so screwed.

julie said...

Yeah. I think a lot of the concerns about demilitarizing the police may be... not wrong, exactly, but misplaced. Or rather, the use of force by many police departments appears to be, quite often, misapplied. Tales of abuse of force against the meek and powerless abound, but when we need them to be strong in the face of serious threats to the public, they don't appear to have a clue what to do about it. Suddenly, they face a ravening mob, and all their military toys don't seem to be very useful when they're up against people who are looking for a fight.

I do wonder how much the internet makes things worse. How many of the rioters are traveling in from other areas, alerted by social media, to join in the mayhem while they think they can get away with it?

Cousin Dupree said...

I say give Ferguson an independent state.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Well, I was wrong about Capt. Johnson.
While he does have considerable leadership skills Johnson doesn't have the cajones to do his job and establish order.
Plus, he should have anyone breaking the laws (death threats, looting, standing in the streets, ignoring curfew, etc., arrested. All of them.

Van has an excellent post about what's been going on at Ferguson: