Saturday, November 23, 2019

Eco Pretends to Think About Fascism

Umberto Eco appears to be a liar. No wonder Vox Day likes him. Nevertheless, it's tantalizing enough to be worth repairing.
  1. The cult of tradition. “One has only to look at the syllabus of every fascist movement to find the major traditionalist thinkers. The Nazi gnosis was nourished by traditionalist, syncretistic, occult elements.”
  2. The rejection of modernism. “The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.”
  3. The cult of action for action’s sake. “Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, any previous reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation.”
  4. Disagreement is treason. “The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge.”
  5. Fear of difference. “The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.”
  6. Appeal to social frustration. “One of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups.”
  7. The obsession with a plot. “The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia.”
  8. The enemy is both strong and weak. “By a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.”
  9. Pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. “For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.”
  10. Contempt for the weak. “Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology.”
  11. Everybody is educated to become a hero. “In Ur-Fascist ideology, heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death.”
  12. Machismo and weaponry. “Machismo implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality.”
  13. Selective populism. “There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.”
  14.  Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak. “All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.”
Seems it's been tweaked to specifically exclude Progressivism. Let's generalize just a touch.
  1. Dogmatism
  2. Rejection of reasonable criticism
  3. Avoidance of passivism
  4. Disagreement is heresy
  5. Xenophobia
  6. Appeal to social frustration 
  7. Obsession with a plot
  8. The enemy is first strong, then weak
  9. With us or against us
  10. Contempt for the outgroup
  11. Every subject is told they're special and they excel. 
  12. Obsession with behaving as one sex, to the exclusion of the other
  13. Selective populism
  14. Newspeakers
Five are noticeably changed: 1, 2, 10, 11, 12. The definition is so close that it beggars imagination to suppose the original author did not notice how finely he was toeing the line. I suppose we can also consider Straussianism. Perhaps the point is to allow certain clued-in readers to 'accidentally' make the obvious edits. I still think being a Straussian is merely being a furtive, ineffective Progressive, i.e. a worshipper of lies, and both modes make you sound like an idiot.

Although unintentionally revealing, even the corrected list needs substantial revision. 9 and 10 are dumb criteria that apply to almost everyone. Might as well include [has skin, breathes air]. 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, and 11 are in fact all the same criterion, easily summed as dogmatism and xenophobia; 7 and 8 also imply each other. Let's offer these repairs too.
  1. Dogmatism and xenophobia, including ingroup supremacism which often but not always takes the form of nationalist supremacism. 
  2. Condemnation of wu wei
  3. Exploitation of social frustration, typically that caused by the fascism itself. (Self-licking ice cream.)
  4. Obsession with the Plot of a State Enemy that is, as convenient, overwhelmingly strong and pathetically weak. Typically used to deflect well-deserved blame for the failures of fascism.
  5. Extremely skewed gender affinity; condemnation of one sex; ideally excluding one sex entirely from political life.
  6. Demotism with unprincipled exceptions
  7. The use of new words for old ideas, typically so certain old ideas can be excluded from the new schema, and secondarily as shibboleths. 
In short a fascism is a demotist fundamentalist religion masquerading as politics.

P.S. With the names rectified, it's obvious that a newspeaker cannot reject modernity or in any serious way be a native traditionalist. Any serious scholar would be too embarrassed by such a provincial self-contradiction to even think about publication.'s Pontus. While we're talking as if we're not in Pontus, the task after Linnaean taxonomy is genetic analysis. Speak not merely of what fascism is by why it collects these features. In particular, the gender skew is plain weird. The first is about diagnosis; the second is about preventing minor antigen mutations from evading detection, and for killing new fascism growths at the seed stage.

If you found out that religion and politics, the canon impolite topics, turned out to be the same thing, would you be surprised?

Friday, November 22, 2019

Case Study How To: Stoicism.

Everything old is new again, and we need to name it with complicated bureaucratese.
In UtEB’s model, emotional learning forms the foundation of much of our behavior.
Richard is having a genuine problem. Not an intolerable one, but why not fix it if you can fix it?
He had been consistently successful and admired at work, but still suffered from serious self-doubt and low confidence at his job. On occasions such as daily technical meetings, when he considered saying something, he experienced thoughts including “Who am I to think I know what’s right?”, “This could be wrong” and “Watch out - don’t go out on a limb”. These prevented him from expressing any opinions.
(Also read the therapist transcript.)

Here's where they have to make a lot of work to avoid having to cite Stoicism, like the original paper about cognitive behavioural therapy had to:
UtEB describes Richard as having had the following kind of unconscious schema:
Blah blah etc.

The actual problem is that the thought is illogical. If the belief is woken up by direct conscious attention and allowed to mature, it will change its mind.

Do folk actually hate you? This is an empirical question. The correct thing to do is try it and see what happens. Richard should, contrary to his normal habits, assert an opinion. See, empirically, if anyone reacts negatively.

Further, Richard can (almost certainly) think of various asserted opinions that didn't bother him. Others can assert opinions without being immediately hated. Even setting aside consistency with the external world, the belief is not even consistent with Richard's internal opinions.

Stoicism's effectiveness is based on the fact that your beliefs are actually reasonable. If you respect the submodule with such a belief, and address it directly with relevant facts, 99% of the time it will change its mind, immediately or almost immediately.

Caveats. It can be difficult not to self-sabotage sometimes. The urge for psychological affirmation is strong. Also, asserting opinions during meetings can genuinely be a bad idea. Perhaps Richard is using the correct strategy for the wrong reason. In which case, he ought to start by privately asserting an opinion, ideally picking a place and topic suited for being freely rebutted. He could also float an opinion in the form of a deferential question. "How do you know that X isn't true?" Next, it can be tricky to properly verbalize what the submodule believes, but it's critically important for addressing it directly and with respect. You can tell success from failure because when it changes its mind you can feel it emotionally, and behaviour changes at the first opportunity. Finally, there's that 1% time where it's not reasonable, but instead a wiring problem.

It doesn't help that the truth is prosaic. Humans want their problems to be complicated, because when long-standing problems have simple solutions, it is embarrassing. Worse than the problem itself, amirite? Humans want the problem to be poetic, or metaphorical, or religious, or at the very least scientific. They want it to be meaningful, not because they did a dumb. In practice this ends up being a LastPsych style defence against change. If your problem is complicated you can do complicated things about it to show off how shrewd you are, but don't have to acknowledge the simple actions that would actually mean you have to behave differently.

Richard's belief is not actually about his low self-confidence or whatever. It's about being able to condemn his father for his deviant behaviour. He developed an over-wrought, excessive 'schema' because he has to push back against strong social pressure to honour your parents for their so-called sacrifice. If instead it's okay to condemn deviant behaviour regardless of who engages in it (even Jesus) then he wouldn't have to overcompensate. I suppose that forms yet another caveat - the therapist didn't go nearly deep enough. Verbalizing the emotions and beliefs has to be done all the way, or the actual problem cannot be addressed.

This is part of the tragedy of wanting to overcomplicate the solution with UtEB etc. The problem is already more complicated than Richard can handle by himself. There's no need to make it worse.
The formation of memory traces involves consolidation, when the memory is first laid out in the brain; deconsolidation, when an established memory is “opened” and becomes available for changes; and reconsolidation, when a deconsolidated memory (along with possible changes) is stored and becomes frozen again.
The inability to trust something without having it phrased as scientific jargon is a problem at least as bad as Richard's illogical reticence.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Jesus Was a Sinner

My research indicates Jesus wasn't supposed to talk about his divine nature. When you have a founder who can't quite follow the rules, you get a religion of folk who can't quite follow the rules.

Let's talk a bit about ad hominem. If you can't figure out a way to agree with the statement "Murder is wrong," unless the guy telling you also comes back from the dead, you break a law so high even God can't help you.

Ye Olde Booke has lots of good advice. However, there's a profoundly prosaic reason behind Jesus' sin. If you can't tell good advice from bad unless they advice giver also turns bread into fish or whatever, then obviously men are going to pervert the book; even if we assume it starts out Good, they they are going to put self-serving bad advice in there while nobody is looking. Precisely because you can't tell the difference.

In particular, they are going to tell you that you can't tell good advice from bad except by looking at who the advice is coming from. (See also: localism.)