Thursday, 17 January 2013

A Blast from the Past 2!

More RSS feed from the late In Mala Fide website:

Ten Years Gone: Don't Squandor Your Twenties Thinking
by Chester Belloc

As I approach thirty, I am surprised to find myself doing alright. I have a job with a solid mentor, I am working out daily, and I have a girlfriend who can take care of herself but does not like feminism. But when I look back on years 18-28 it was, with few exceptions, a wasteland. I didn’t have Ferd’s “Advice for Young Men,” so my social life drifted into drinking beer and eating pizza with a bunch of beta duds whom I don’t even talk to anymore. I could have constructed a better social life for myself, but I was too busy brooding and obsessing over everything from religion to politics. Every young man should do some serious thinking, but a bit of common-sense advice at the beginning would have saved me a lot of wasted time that I could have spent living my twenties to the fullest. Most of life’s important principles are pretty obvious. Our uneducated ancestors understood them, and it is only the sheer volume of lies in the modern world that keep us from seeing these principles clearly. Here is some of that advice I wish I had received when I went off to college. Make of it what you will.

I. Philosophy
The central works of the “Enlightenment” are nonsense. Rousseau, Locke, Hobbes, etc. are all grounded in the idea of a “state of nature” where autonomous, undifferentiated adults came together and used their free will to create a “social contract” that is the basis of society. This social contract, the philosophers tell us, guaranteed a set of human “rights” that apply universally.

Anthropology has thoroughly discredited the state of nature. Humans have never lived as individuals; we evolved and can only survive in extended, gender-and-age differentiated kinship networks bound together by genetics and shared experience. If there is such a thing as morality, it proceeds not from rights, but from the differentiated duties within our family network which are necessary for survival. Moreover, society didn’t come out of a bunch of individuals coming together and signing a bill of rights; society evolved organically when different kinship networks merged for mutual survival into a larger group and gradually became bound together by a common culture and shared historical memory. Aristotle is the philosopher who understands this best.

II. Religion
Be careful. Religion will develop your moral sense and help you understand that underneath all the glitter, we live in a fallen world. On the other hand, young men are prone to obsession and fanaticism, and religion can aggravate this. Don’t start out reading the Bible: its mixture of hyperbole, metaphor, and allegory can mess you up if you don’t know how to read it properly. You will wind up viewing the world as a Manichean, melodramatic battle between God and the Devil, when in reality it is a dreary place full of mediocrity and petty people who care about their own narrow interests, not the drama going on within your head. Stick to reading secondary sources until you are mature enough to understand all of this, the real nature of original sin.

On a related note, are you looking for proof of God? In my experience one cannot prove faith, but some rational inferences can be drawn. Consider total nothingness. Not just the vacuum of space, but the total absence of any physical laws. Did we really get from there to a universe with planets on which conscious beings dwell who conceive of a creator by total chance? I suppose it is possible, but I think we can infer at least the probability of some First Mover. The more interesting question is: if there is a God, is he really all-good? All-knowing? All-powerful? For such answers, we need to turn to revealed religion. As Chateaubriand argued, the best argument for Christianity’s truth is its own substance. Either you believe that the New Testament and the lives of the saints are too sublime to have a purely human explanation, or you do not. When I read the Letters of Paul, I don’t think I am reading some classical version of David Koresh. If you feel differently, that’s your prerogative.

III. Women
This one isn’t so hard. A woman worth anything wants a man. A man is a boy who has gotten over his fear of death. If you can laugh at death, so much the better. To get over your fear of death, perhaps take a page from the Hagakure and contemplate your own death and suffering daily. It’s a funny thing, but if you do this daily you will feel yourself freed to enjoy the rest of your day to the fullest. Women will recognize this tension between life and death, the dangerous man, and be drawn to it. Working out is a part of this.

IV. Race
We are pretty much wired for it. It is good to treat people with respect as individuals, and if you want to have a somewhat flexible conception of race, or prioritize culture or religion, that’s fine, but race is going to remain with us as a fact of life. Any race that doesn’t stick up for itself is going to be walked over by others, and selling out your own race is at least as bad as picking on a different one.

V. Politics
Government dependants can vote. Half the population pays no income tax. Your average person watches TV for hours every day, and lets the government educate his children. Congress is run by special interests, for special interests. Nine old lawyers decide social issues. The borders are wide open. Politics is almost futile in such an environment. If you must devote some of your time to politics, devote it to minimizing the destructive interference of government in our private lives, families, and communities. Unless you are very rich, you shouldn’t devote more than 5% of your time to politics. Spend the rest of your time cultivating your private sphere of life, while minimizing your contact with the state. Also, enjoy yourself! Living well is the best revenge.


1 comment:

  1. Ferdinand Bardamu has re-emerged: the In Mala Fide website is up and running again, and he has published a book based on his website articles: