« Why Not be a Nominalist about Sets? | Main | Unusual Experiences and the Problems of Overbelief and Underbelief »

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I have read a bit of history, and I believe that one of the immutable things about evil is that, in its rebellion against the Creator, it always reaches for total control, and so over-extends itself. It is not just Hitler who did this, it is the same with all evil, everywhere. Stealing the 2020 election, and the administration we are faced with now, is just such an over-extension, if you ask me; and perhaps, God willing, 4 years, and not 8 years, will be enough. But maybe not, and there is this quote from Francis Cardinal George, OMI, to ponder: "I expect to die in my bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the Church has done so often in human history." A sobering thought, because that will take more than 8 years. God help us all.

Good comments, Joe. Your opening sentence sounds the theme of Genesis 2 and 3. I will write a separate post about it.

Will we wake up in time to restore the Republic? I see no reason to be sanguine. We are weaker than we have ever been and are ripe for takeover by our geopolitical enemies. While we self-enstupidate, they salivate. You and Pollack are perhaps far too optimistic. Eight years? How about 80 years?

Pollack has written on an even darker threat: AI gone wild. We are now at the point where in a few years ALL humanity can be extinguished, and I don't mean by nuclear war, which, of course, is yet another terrible threat a threat appreciated by Trump but not by the filthy, clueless Dems.

I am wondering why I take such good care of myself. You and I are staring at the possibility of 20 more years in this awful predicament.

Yes, “Should We All Now Be Accelerationists?” is an “brilliant” post, demonstrative of Malcolm Pollack’s superior compositional and analytical abilities. His concise catalogue of the indicators of our spiraling national crisis and the evil and ill-founded ideological suppositions that have given rise to them are both accurate and sobering. It is also hard to find fault with his analysis of the futility of the “conservative” or “traditional” political response or of armed resistance, given the material and ideological prowess and fanatical commitment of the Left to the “aggressive, secular pseudoreligion, which denies all transcendent order and natural categories.”

However, Bill, I think that Pollack's and your endorsement of the accelerationist option deserves closer scrutiny. Specifically, while I see the logic behind this position, one that is rooted in a clear-headed appraisal of our dismal prospects as an opposition to tyranny and barbarism, I believe that in endorsing and following such a path, we are failing in our moral duty. We could view this failure in religious terms as that of the sin of omission, that is the sin of knowing a right action, one conforming to the divine law, and refusing to perform it, as for example, knowing that the pseudoreligion is out to destroy all that is good and merely stand aside in the hope that some future good will arise out of the evil it creates rather than to oppose it relentlessly, even without much or any hope of success. Or we could view it in secular terms, as the moral responsibility that derives from our natural rational faculties to know what is right and wrong and the obligation to act accordingly. In either case, we can not remain indifferent or, worse, hopeful that evil will engulf more and more of our national life before inevitably precipitating its own destruction. Whatever utility the accelerationist may possess, our endorsement of it would would inflict terrible harms on our souls and moral facilities.

Thanks for the link and the kind words, Bill.

You're right: although I suggested that once the fever burns out we can begin again, there's no guarantee that this will happen anytime soon - or, as far as rebuilding anything resembling the civilization we've destroyed, anytime at all. Perhaps the collapse of the American Leviathan will allow its aggregated sovereignty to be picked up in peaceful ways by local and regional communities, but it might just as likely usher in a long, dark age of war, anarchy, and chaos, just as the collapse of Rome did in western Europe.

I wrote what I did only because I have at last begun to lose hope in the political struggle of traditional American life against the swollen power of the vast managerial/corporate State. Let's face it, we're losing, and the balance of forces isn't changing in our favor. I do believe, though, that the system now in place is so rotten, so diseased, and so at odds with everything that is right and good and true, that eventually it has to die of natural causes - and if that's so, then sooner is better than later.

That's a very good objection, Vito. We will have to ponder it seriously, Malcolm more than me since I was basically just summarizing and sharpening his proposal.

There were those who went up against Hitler and ended hanged by piano wire or guillotined, and this just a short time before the collapse of the Reich. You know the story of The White Rose and the philosophy professor who lead them and paid with his life.

I don't have a firm position on this; I am just trying to understand the problem in all its complexity. But I get your point: if we just acquiesce in the Dementocratic evil, then that is moral failure on our part.

So I ask you: what should we do? We need concrete suggestions, not more analysis from VDH and the rest of them. Malcolm is probably right that voting will do no good. Diana West also maintains this. If you have an opinion about her, I'd like to hear it. I myself have gone on and on about a retyurn to federalism, but that too is probably only just more ineffective yap-and-scribble. That leaves armed revolt.

What would you suggest we do?

“What do you suggest we do?”

Like Malcolm Pollack, I do not see a way forward. My disagreement arises from my sense that, this miserable situation does not release us from the moral duty to fight for what is right and true. I understand the frustration that prompts Pollack, a highly cultivated and decent man, to consider the merit of the accelerationist strategy, but I very suspect or hope that most of would be unable to remain silent and inactive as evil becomes even more general. That is the dilemma in which we find ourselves, the need to act for the true and the good, even when our actions have little or no chance of bringing about a better state of affairs, when at most we are relegated to fighting rear guard actions, winning at best local skirmishes, against an enemy whose prowess we cannot hope to match.

Here is something along similar lines from a British point of view: https://libertarianism.uk/2023/04/25/why-i-do-not-write/

https://www.thecollector.com/the-white-rose-resistance-group/

Vito and Bill,

Let me say first, Vito, that I hadn't seen your comments when I posted mine (even though mine ended up with a later timestamp than yours). I'll thank you, as I did Bill, for your kind remarks.

I completely understand your objection, and like you, I instinctively recoil from the idea of letting wickedness have its way. It's only recently that I have been able to give the "accelerationist option" any serious consideration at all, and even now it's hard for me to say that I really endorse it.

That said, though, there might be a better way to look at this: to see it, not as giving up the fight, but as trying to find the only strategy that might actually work, as opposed to a noble but futile gesture that satisfies our consciences but accomplishes nothing. We have seen what "Conservatism" has manage to conserve -- nothing! -- while, as I said in my post, the feeble resistance we have mounted may have managed to slow the progress of our disease just enough that, despite some grumbling, we have accustomed ourselves gradually to each new click of the ratchet. (As Robert L. Dabney once wrote, "American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition.")

Perhaps, though, our keeping the growth of this evil just slightly in check has been what has allowed it to progress as it has; securing and gradually solidifying each new advance before extending another lobe. Maybe the way to kill this thing at last is simply to release the confining pressure, to let it "have its head' so freely and swell so rapidly that it bursts.

Another metaphor that might be apt is the ancient military tactic of letting your line give way, so that the enemy fatally extends himself.

Still another way of looking at it might be to imagine that our restriction of this tumor's growth is what has prevented the body (in this case, the "body politic" of decent American people, who are slow to anger, fond of safety, and averse to conflict) from activating the generalized immune response it would mount in the face of a more lethally aggressive disease.

What I'm saying, then, is that the moral obligation we are under is not simply to offer a doomed beau geste, but to do what will actually be most effective against this evil. Is accelerationism the best way? I don't know, but I think the moral argument here may be more subtle and complex than you have suggested.

Over at "The Remnant," this:

"Now That We See the Fruits of Rejecting Catholic Truth, How Do We Recover?"

Link:

https://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/articles/item/6595-now-that-we-see-the-fruits-of-rejecting-catholic-truth-how-do-we-recover

Thanks for the link, Joe. I am a student of Garrigou-Lagrange's work and so I was very happy to see the internal link to an important article of his.

Malcolm,

>>What I'm saying, then, is that the moral obligation we are under is not simply to offer a doomed beau geste, but to do what will actually be most effective against this evil. << We appear to be in the vicinity of the problem of dirty hands. See https://people.brandeis.edu/~teuber/Walzer,%20The%20Problem%20of%20Dirty%20Hands.pdf

And here: https://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher_stri/aporetics/

More tomorrow.

Malcolm,

Thank you for your thoughtful response to my comments. As you are well aware, this issue involves sorting through a set of thorny moral questions, our answers to which are often disconcerting, tentative, or provisional. So, I take very seriously your objection to my insistence that we are required to oppose the acceleratory trajectory of evil. You write: “What I'm saying, then, is that the moral obligation we are under is not simply to offer a doomed beau geste, but to do what will actually be most effective against this evil. Is accelerationism the best way? I don't know, but I think the moral argument here may be more subtle and complex than you have suggested.” I am no moral philosopher, so my approach to this issue is too blunt; however, I think that I have good reasons to reject this observation.

First, we have to distinguish between the religious and secular opponents of the pseudoreligion, since the metaphysical suppositions of the two groups, however much else they share in common, are different. Essentially, you are arguing that we should adopt an accelerationist stance because of its utility or practicality: it is the one that “will actually be most effective against this evil.” Leaving aside for the moment, whether any or most of us could actually acquiesce to the suffering and wrongs that would ensure from the intensification and propagation of evil, I simply note here that this sort of ethical reasoning falls outside of a biblical framework, both orthodox Judaic and Christian. The religious opponent, whatever his sinfulness, must say what is true and do what is right in any context because he seeks to live according to divine teaching. In Christian terms, he seeks to the make the Kingdom present “on Earth as it is in Heaven.” This is why such blessed opponents of evil as saints Maximillian Kolb and Edith Stein and the Protestant clergyman Dietrich Bonhoffer, to name just three of the thousands of Christians and Jews who lost their lives opposing the Nazi and Communist tyrannies, did what was required by God, regardless of the impracticality of their acts.

Second, I doubt that we Americans, or at least those of us who directly lived under what was once a democratic Republic, would actually tolerate the accelerating reign of evil. It would simply grate against our rational beliefs and moral principles in too many ways for many of us to remain silent, biding our time as it attained its apex. After all, each step of its progress would inflect wounds of one kind or another on our rights, institutions, and principles. To give a concrete example, how many of us would not rise in opposition when the already manifest aim to normalize and even legalize pedophilia attains the status as another sacred “human right” advanced by the Left? As evil accelerates, the conditions of our lives would become increasingly intolerable, and I suspect (and hope) that many of us, if for nothing more than the most basic instincts of self-protection, rise up and resist.

Finally, we must never assume that the end point of the acceleration would be reached before the institution of mass incarcerations or annihilations. We are only seven or eight decades away from precisely such crimes against humanity flourishing in the heart of Europe. Are we so confident that the terminus of evil does not have them once against as its final stop?

One final point: To keep my response as brief as possible, I excluded from consideration those who would reject accelerationism because of moral systems that are absolutist but not necessarily religious (Kantian, for example). Much of what I say about religious believers would apply, with modification, also to them.

Vito,

Thank you for your response. You wrote:

Second, I doubt that we Americans, or at least those of us who directly lived under what was once a democratic Republic, would actually tolerate the accelerating reign of evil. It would simply grate against our rational beliefs and moral principles in too many ways for many of us to remain silent, biding our time as it attained its apex. After all, each step of its progress would inflect wounds of one kind or another on our rights, institutions, and principles. To give a concrete example, how many of us would not rise in opposition when the already manifest aim to normalize and even legalize pedophilia attains the status as another sacred “human right” advanced by the Left? As evil accelerates, the conditions of our lives would become increasingly intolerable, and I suspect (and hope) that many of us, if for nothing more than the most basic instincts of self-protection, rise up and resist.

Quite so! That's exactly what I had in mind when I said:

Still another way of looking at it might be to imagine that our restriction of this tumor's growth is what has prevented the body (in this case, the "body politic" of decent American people, who are slow to anger, fond of safety, and averse to conflict) from activating the generalized immune response it would mount in the face of a more lethally aggressive disease.

The accelerationist believes that the best hope is simply for all those decent Americans to open their eyes: to see this evil as so intolerable that it will rouse them at last to put aside their aversion to conflict (and the decades of frog-boiling they've already undergone), and to stand up as one and say "enough!".

For whatever reason (and to explain why would take not a blog-comment, but a book), all that has happened so far, as bad as it's been (and as horrifying, for so many of us) still hasn't been enough to awaken that sleeping dragon. Somehow, we need to bring that anger to a boil, or we are surely doomed. So if things have to get worse before they can get better -- if the only way out really is through -- then all we need to do might be just to let the Left have its way for a few more years.

Vito B: Yes that would be the final stop here. HRC called half the country 'irredeemable." That's death camp language. All she lacked was the power to carry it out.

As for what to do? We should resist this onrushing evil as best we can, but it hardly needs to be accelerated. God is permitting it for some end and in the true picture it has no intrinsic power and will vanish in an instant.

One practical thing would for people on the side of good, to start wearing some small identifying pin (Sacred Heart pin?) so we become aware of our own numbers; we are the many in actuality; the left relies on self-amplifying loudness to bully others from a small place, really.

And further, we can set aside the good things needed for the future where they will be likely to survive the possible collapses. I am getting my architectural library together into a shepherd's hut, of sturdy and anti-fire construction and will search out a place to put it away from urban centers. A remote dispersed paper library, if you will, immune both to riots and EMP attack. More on that later.

And Bro Bill:

As for "AI," remember that the computers are only adding and subtracting ones and zeros, and will never understand anything, nor become conscious. The danger of "AI" is located in the cretins who believe it. Nothing new here. There have always been idiots.

Joe,

The threat of advanced AI does NOT require that computers and robotics become conscious, self-conscious, or truly intelligent.

I don't think you appreciate the terrible threat of advanced AI. See here for starters: https://time.com/6266679/musk-ai-open-letter/

Vito,

What would you say about the Allied atrocities visited upon the Axis Powers during WWII? Consider the indiscriminate killing of noncombatants in Germany and in Japan. Those killings were clear violations of Just War Theory. Would you say *Fiat justitia pereat mundi* or the equivalent *Fiat justitia ruat caelum*?

Is it obvious to you that the killing of noncombatants was not justified? It is not obvious to me. It is also not obvious to me that the killing of noncombatants WAS justified. For me it is a problem, one to which I have no satisfying solution.

Suppose God and the soul are real and we KNOW that they are real and we KNOW that it is wrong always and everywhere and under any circumstances to kill innocent noncombatants in order to prevent a nuclear holocaust that we KNOW will end civilization. Then perhaps we should just let civilization and the human race be destroyed. Doesn't John Henry Cardinal Newman somewhere say that it would be better that the whole world be destroyed than that one sin be committed against God?

But here's the rub: we don't KNOW any of the above, we merely, albeit reasonably, BELIEVE it. Faith is not knowledge. So is it not 'better known' that innocent Germans should be killed rather than that civilization end? This is the problem of dirty hands. The accelerationist proposal is a variant of it.

I said, "The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful unt...

Here: http://newmanreader.org/works/apologia65/chapter5.html

These A "I" bots run on electricity. Musk is assuming that we cannot pull the plug. He's mad.

And further, from Musk's letter, with my comments in (parenthesis):

“Contemporary AI systems are now becoming human-competitive at general tasks,” states the letter, which was hosted on the Future of Life Institute’s website. “We must ask ourselves: Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth? (Human beings already do this.) Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? (No A " I " bot is ever going to construct a building on site, let alone creatively design something new.) Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? (Adding and subtracting ones and zeros is NOT what human beings do, you can't replace us with that.) Should we risk loss of control of our civilization? (We are not risking that. I myself have yanked many plugs. It is easy to stop this stuff.)Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders.”

Bill,

I have no difficulty resting my case on a reasoned faith, since, I agree with you that the certainty that derives from knowledge is denied to us with regard to these complex moral matters, as it is with the most fundamental philosophical questions. As you have often said, and I thank you for this insight, “We have to choose.” Malcolm, who has a subtle intellect, presents a coherent argument in favor of the accelerationist position; this cannot be denied. But in the end, his argument represents a rational choice, as does mine. We can go back and forth on this matter indefinitely and never know what is true. That is just the state of affairs that we have been dealt, given the feebleness of our intellects.

As for German and Japanese civilian casualties in the Second World War, almost all the victims of the allied bombing campaigns, you are right that a moral judgement on this issue is no easy matter. However, our historical knowledge does allow us to classify some of these deaths as defensible under a just war doctrine, and others not. I could go into this evidence in detail, but this is not the place to do so. Again, with the evidence placed before us, we might well disagree as to its import, so we would end up having to choose once again.

Malcolm,

Want to take a crack at explaining to Joe the threat of deep AI?

On the bombings of WW2, the fact that I am here adding to the conversation is very probably due to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My dad was flying P-38 fighters in the pacific; he and his pilot buddies to a man thought that their chances of surviving the invasion of the Japanese home islands were very, very poor. And my dad had already lost his only brother in the war. And then the invasions of the islands, scheduled for December 1945, and March 1946, did not have to happen. We were expecting millions of casualties and 400,000 to 800,000 fatalities. Every purple heart medal given out to this day was minted in anticipation of the probable wounded of those invasions. The Japanese would have sustained like numbers. I don't think the moral judgement is very hard to make here. (link)

https://ladailypost.com/what-if-the-u-s-had-invaded-japan-on-nov-1-1945/#:~:text=While%20the%20overall%20Japanese%20deaths%20attributed%20to%20the,would%20cost%205%20to%2010%20million%20Japanese%20lives.

Churchill has this to say: "To quell the Japanese resistance man by man and conquer the country yard by yard might well require the loss of a million American lives and half that number of British . . . Now all this nightmare picture had vanished. In its place was the vision — fair and bright indeed it seemed — of the end of the war in one or two violent shocks . . . To avert a vast, indefinite butchery, to bring the war to an end, to give peace to the world, to lay healing hands on its tortured people by a manifestation of overwhelming power at the cost of a few explosions, seemed, after all our toils and perils, a miracle of deliverance." (from "Triumph and Tragedy, pages 638 and 639, published 1953.)

I had a thought mulling these things over while pulling weeds and cultivating soil that I wanted to risk exposing here regarding acceleration.
I have experienced spontaneously erupting notions, over this nouveau era, of the accelerationist idea, and I'm old enough to have been around the block on these themes before. As one of our prophets says, "If you you don't believe me I can show you the scars." (I am not very unlike any of you posting and commenting on this thread wrt the political and philosophical underpinnings of my worldview.) For example, "Oh God, bring it on! This world is FUBAR! Let's get ready to rumble!"
I'm not disavowing that notion, and I acknowledge the moral issue of 'doing the right thing versus the expedient thing', but here's my sticking point right now:
There are, and have been all along I presume, 1)those elements and agents who like arson on principle, and 2)on a spectrum or gradient, many others also, persuadable or influenceable.
Signing on to a protocol of acceleration is not our proper calling, gentlemen. Signaling acceleration to the social engine that feeds on humanity is what powers the beast. But recognizing the inevitability of acceleration is proper. The acceleration will continue (until morale improves) whether we will it or no, but surely, it will. The answer to the question, "What shall we do, now that the shit is slow motion hitting the fan before our eyes while we watch"? must be to occupy and witness (κατέχω, μαρτυρώ) without giving occasion to our neighbor to stumble.
Too many people are vulnerable, susceptible to or already on suicide watch to give any leash to notions of activist accelerationism or a posture of advocacy, but we can and must at least acknowledge with one another the signs of the times, and encourage each other as charity and wisdom commend.
I'm cultivating a close connection to local sustainability as I always have, gardening, conserving, prepping sanely, keeping powder dry and living as simple a life as possible, hoping even an ignored example will bear some witness, have some effect. Trying to balance being a modern and a traditionalist, and a stranger in a strange land. As I heard someone say earlier this evening, trying to marry beauty with divine intelligence. And be awake and responsive now and in the hour of you know what, amen.

mharko,

Wise comments. We certainly don't want to enlist pyromaniacal Antifa and BLM thugs as accelerants.

>>The answer to the question, "What shall we do, now that the shit is slow motion hitting the fan before our eyes while we watch"? must be to occupy and witness (κατέχω, μαρτυρώ) without giving occasion to our neighbor to stumble.

Too many people are vulnerable, susceptible to or already on suicide watch to give any leash to notions of activist accelerationism or a posture of advocacy, but we can and must at least acknowledge with one another the signs of the times, and encourage each other as charity and wisdom commend.<<

Your ending is beautiful. I would add: Ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. This world is a vanishing quantity. It will soon pass away and its evil with it. As Teresa of Avila said to the nuns in her charge, "Sisters, we have but one night to spend in this bad inn." One way to retain one's sanity is to cultivate the soil of contemptus mundi

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo
Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 10/2008

Categories

Categories

February 2024

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29    
Blog powered by Typepad