The Cancer of Fanaticism

In my school days, teachers would often say that historians remained puzzled as to why so many good Germans stood silent as the Nazis took over or how Russians just allowed the Bolsheviks to go on a murder spree. The point was to have us think about these events as something other than just a good guy versus bad guy thing. The lesson of history was that the forces of good had to be active, not passive. Otherwise, the people seeking to exploit and subvert society would not meet any resistance.

Perhaps for school kids, it was a fine exercise, but it was the sort of thinking that motivated the Nazis and Bolsheviks to murder. These were not people who thought of themselves as evil or on the wrong side of history. To the contrary, they saw themselves as the champions of light, fighting the forces of darkness. As such, they were duty bound to use any means necessary to win. Maybe the people at the top were more cynical, as is usually the case, but the rank and file were the truest of true believers.

The only person I have read, other than myself, who bothered to contemplate the mindset of the typical Nazi, Bolshevik or Progressive was Eric Hoffer. His classic book, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, is the field guide to understanding the mind of the political zealot. Over the years I have referenced it many times, when posting about the American Left. Hoffer’s book is not the definitive work, more of a skeleton key to unlock a mode of analysis. It is a starting point in thinking about the Left.

For example, the conventional way of framing politics is the old Left-Right scale, where Hitler is on the Right and Stalin is on the Left. This scale was useful during the Cold War as a rhetorical device, but it never made any sense, as a way to describe the modern political universe. It’s why stupid people and the historically ignorant argue that the Nazis were actually leftists or that fascism exists today. The demands of that political scale require everyone to seek the undefined to middle, to avoid being Hitler or Stalin.

A better scale, especially in the current age, is probably one that has the true believer at one end and the non-ideological skeptic at the other. Unlike the old Left-Right scale, there is no one at the either end to point to as the most extreme example. Instead, it is impossible to be entirely free of belief, as humans are not robots. Therefore, there are no pure skeptics. At the other end, there is always some way to be just a bit more pious than the most pious, or at least appear to be, so it is a line that extends out indefinitely.

Another way to think of it is the skeptical end is zero, the complete lack of belief or faith, if you will, and the total acceptance of observable reality. No human is built with a desire to reach zero. It’s like looking into a blast furnace. No matter how beautiful it is, the closer you get the more intolerable. Just as no one can walk into and experience the purifying flames of the furnace, not one can ever fully embrace reality. As a result, the most cynical among us are clustered at some safe distance from the point of absolute reality.

At the other end, the next point on the scale is like the next step on the road to paradise and each step is more inviting than the next, at least to those built to seek it.  Unlike the other end of the scale, there is no intense resistance, so the only thing that can keep the believer from seeking greater purity is a leash of sorts, either internal or external, that limits their ability to seek the ultimate goal. In the post-Christian West, we are learning that some men lack that internal governor and will go as far as they can to reach paradise.

That is, of course, what lies beneath the great ideological struggles of the Western world since the French Revolution. They may not be explicit, but that is what lies beneath all of them. Communists of various stripes thought they could create the worker’s paradise in the industrial age. The radicalism of Robespierre became a secular religion, in which men were gods. The fascists were a utopian reaction to the utopian radicals of their age. They simply had a different vision of paradise, which is why they embraced the same methods.

We see this today with the America Left, which has, in fits and starts, become increasingly radical and increasingly untethered from reality. Into the 20th century, it still carried with it the Christian restraint of accepting that paradise, if it exists at all, is in the next life. That’s all gone now and the believers are filled with the passion of the zealot. All that matters to them is the next step on the path. Whoever is the most pious, the furthest along on the journey, is the standard until someone else can prove to be pious, further along the path.

That explains the dog-piling we see from these fanatics, whenever they discover a heretic or obstacle. They lack anything resembling human compassion, so the heretic serves only one role for them. That is as a point of comparison. The more outraged and exited one is about the heretic, the more pious they are. The heretic, becomes point zero on the graph, so the further one is away from the heretic, emotionally and spiritually, the further along they are on their journey to paradise. Thus the endless piety contests.

It’s why someone like Howard Dean feels righteous in calling for the imprisonment of Andrew Torba, for the crime of existing. Dean is not a bright man, but he is filled with the passion of the true believer. For him and the rest of his cult, the point of shrieking at Torba is not a practical one. It is spiritual one. They are showing how far along the path they are away from the sinner and toward the land of milk and honey. Dean probably would have called for Torba’s murder, but he did not have to in order to show he was the most pious.

That is the great challenge of the post-Christian era. The limiting principle of Christianity, that grace was for the next life, is gone. That means all of the lunatics are off the leash and society has no intellectual framework for putting them back on the leash. As a result, the West is afflicted with a metastasizing cancer in the form of increasingly deranged true believers, determined to extend their quest for self-abnegation to the whole of society in order to bring about the end times. Either the cancer is removed, or the host will die.

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Member

Well as to the post Christian era of the west you mentioned, how do you like your society now?

As far as using German societies and Hitler as analogies, you could have used other participants in that era for better examples. (Not just Stalin and the Russian slave state either)

As Rachel Maddow said, this is our life now.

Member

I would love to explain this to my relatives and neighbors, but they are busy preparing for the rapture.

Codex
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Codex

It wouldn’t help. At least not in the way you imagine it would. They probably already know that the further one gets from the blazing, terrible, awesome beauty of Reality, the more ugly, broken and selfish men are. And that most of us are living further along the poisonous outer regions than is good for us.

But that’s a really useful observation the Z-man made. I’m grateful.

Glenfilthie
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Glenfilthie

I can’t help thinking about your screed on Michelle Goldberg. Our disgust with her was probably a snippet of what happened in Nazi Germany back in 1936. Picture it, the conversation, the Jewish bing, and how it might have gone back then: “Herr Filthie – what are we going to do about this damned Jew? They are all like her!” “We are not thugs, Gruppenfurher Z, surely this is an issue for the courts…” “But they’re all like that, and the judiciary is infested with people just like her!” And in the midst of the squabble – a man in… Read more »

Glenfilthie
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Glenfilthie

Also, Z – please keep us in the loop about Gab if you can. I never posted there but stopped in every day. I could take the lunacy and perversion that showed up there because there was plenty of good stuff there too – and no self righteous zealot was trying to rub my nose in his censorship and delusions…

Karl McHungus
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Karl McHungus

Hoffer’s book is fantastic; you really can’t understand mass movements without it. The key insight is the true believer’s disgust with his self. I liked how he discusses the different archetypes like businessman, etc and how they relate to a mass movement.

According to Hoffer, such movements go through phases; so where is the current prog movement in terms of such phases (i.e. when does it turn benign)?

Member

Gustave Le Bon wrote a very interesting book about crowds that should be on everyone’s list. It fits nicely as a companion piece to Hoffer. Amazingly enough, Le Bon’s book was published before psychology had gained ground in academics, and yet The Crowd is an amazing analysis of the herd instinct of crowds and how fanatics can gain control of them. You can get it for free on Kindle. https://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20181031/jimmy-buffett-to-perform-for-gillum-nelson-in-west-palm-beach

Member

Show up for the concert in a MAGA hat and a sign saying you’re glad Cheeseburger in Paradise went bankrupt.

karl Mchungus
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karl Mchungus

I read that as “Lebron”!

Saml Adams
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Saml Adams

Hoffer as a “skeleton key” is insightful. I simply look at our local band of shrieking harpies and realize when you dig in, most possess some combo of actual DX’d mental illness, fucked up kids, banker hubbies that are screwing everything in sight, or got dumped for the new model and are need an outlet for their bitterness.

Rod1963
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Rod1963

From what I’ve seen the average Leftard believer behaves like a cultist. The NPC meme is quite fitting. Like your typical college educated spiritual cult follower the political cultist has no core personality anymore, in it’s stead are a bunch of slogans, dogma, stuffed into them by the local political boss or MSM persona. This makes them dangerous since they can be turned into weapons like the Bagwhan Shree Ranjeesh did in Oregon when he ordered his followers to poison a entire town to take it over. All of his followers were well off college educated whites who had no… Read more »

Tykebomb
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Tykebomb

There’s a phenomenon in packs of men (street gangs, football fans, soccer hooligans, etc.) where the group will start beating on a guy and will get so worked up that they kill him. It’s a primordial response. Once they start, it becomes a competition to be the most loyal. A blood rage comes over them. The funny thing about progs is that they are almost human and respectable. The signal gets mixed up though. Instead of fighting for things normal humans would, hearth and kin, something distorts it. Defending their women becomes being in Antifa to defend the psycho blue… Read more »

Member

The pack instinct is why the great American philosopher Remus has, as his primary advice as to how to deal with the upcoming unpleasantness “Stay away from crowds”.
It is sage advice.

Mcleod
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Mcleod

I have always felt that the left should be defined as moooooore government and the right should be defined as less government. Communists and theocracies on the far left and anarchists on the far right. Defining left and right based on the seating arrangement of the French Nation Assembly of over 200 years ago is stupid. I’ve always attributed weakness as the reason religious and political zealots exist. It’s the guy that doesn’t like you because you’re attractive and athletic and will plot and scheme in the shadows to get even with you and the world because Suzy hotpants won’t… Read more »

Member

The super church dude to whom you are referring, is rich, has a Barbie wife, and has an ability to elicit both laughter and tears.

Accordingly, would he not be the target of the envious?

Mcleod
Guest
Mcleod

He could be genuine, but his physiognomy skeeves me out. He doesn’t look like the kinda dude I would want having my back. Super mega church groups give me an Amway vibe, so it could just be me. I personally know a lot of preachers that use their “authority” in a church to get laid. Kind of a weak, feminine strategy if you ask me.

Member

His physiognomy gives me some skeeves as well.

WE also agree on the Amway vibe.

Nonetheless, I can see why almost all women would find him more appealing than Jonah Goldberg or Andrew Sullivan or Jerrold Nadler or John Berman or Al Sharpton or John McCain or Don Lemon or Rob Reiner or Howard Dean.

Alzaebo
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Alzaebo

Gospel speakers are clean matinee idols for isolated, lonely older women.

I don’t mind. For gods’ sake, let’s have a heart here.

Member

Nice point.

Dr, Dre
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Dr, Dre

Don’t forget John Kerry. He served in Vietnam.

CaptainMike
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CaptainMike

Just ordered Hoffer’s book. This is one of your best posts of the year, it’s not often that one encounters a whole new framework for analysis. I think we will be saved from the progressive paradise, not by resistance from those on the reality end of the spectrum, but by the overarching weight of complexity these ever compiling untruths put onto the backs the fanatics. To paraphrase that loony Rand; You can deny reality, but you can’t escape the consequences of denying reality (forever). Thinking about the current zeitgeist and comparing it to the pre- Civil War era. It really… Read more »

ExPraliteMonk
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ExPraliteMonk

All of Hoffer’s writings are the best. He once said “When people are given the freedom to do as they please, they will imitate each other.”

Lester Fewer
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Lester Fewer

“When I want to know the news, I read Byron.” — Frank O’Hara “Her first thought was to cut off Juan’s head, Her second, was to cut off his — acquaintance.” — actual Lord Byron, (from “Don Juan”), similar to Pete Townshend and John Lennon in its, well, acerbic relation to reality. Everybody needs to Read. More. Poetry. “A. A violent order is disorder. And, B. A great disorder is an order. These Two things are one. (Pages of illustrations.)” “Well, an old order is a violent one.” — both from Stevens “first Bunny died, Then John Latouche, then Jackson… Read more »

Chaotic Neutral
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Chaotic Neutral

I always love your posts.
They’re the posts with the most!
Who are your favorite poets?

Chaotic Neutral
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Chaotic Neutral

Well, all of this was worse during the magian Christian Era. Heretics were routinely killed and tortured. As late as 1600 a 19 year old was hung for professing atheism in private. I read some account of the trial of a heretic in the early modern period in England. He was sentenced to have his tongue awled and was put in a public cage for one month in minimal clothing during the icy British winter. Miraculously he survived, so they had another hearing to decide what to do with him. They decided to sentence him to life in prison, and… Read more »

AHfOH
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AHfOH

Home run. All the piety of the overtly spiritual, but none of the humility.

Member

Really good post.

Another issue besides the no limiting principle is that given that there is no official holy scripture of the left, there is no way to {edit: keep in place] the separation of church and state. Progressivism is obviously the official state religion all across the West, and I think it explains a good bit of the rise of populism.

Member

I’ve been reading Max Weber’s The City. It is basically an attempt to describe the origins of the modern city. In the middle ages there was an outbreak of popular government in the towns of northern Italy where they either supplanted noble rule or came to terms with it. The power that allowed this was the guilds associated with trades and commerce, which, for the most part banned nobles from being members. This was at a time when many towns were subject to the larger city based republics (Venice, Florence, Genoa) and most of the towns had a ‘podesta’ or… Read more »

Wolf Barney
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Wolf Barney

Outstanding post. I’ve been thinking about some of these things lately, like observable reality and the nature of genetic traits in people, along with all of the ubiquitous virtue-signaling and shrieking, but hadn’t thought about them in the context of a scale.

Walter Mitty
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Walter Mitty

White Nationalism is the only solution for us. A country of our own out of some of the States of the former United States. No Jews, Asians, Japanese etc, etc, Where we can succeed or fail on our own. A separation. It is ok for Israel to be for Jews only, Japan for Japanese only, China for Chinese only, Sub Saharan Africa for Blacks only.

But not Us , oh no , why you Racist swine!! They yell.

DeBeers Diamonds
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DeBeers Diamonds

Practically everyone in the Third World believes they have an unadulterated right to move to the First World, as a reparation for colonialism. Whatever any of us think is irrelevant, at best we are left to the “caves in the Caucasus” as a sort of “Indian reservation”. No one thinks we have any moral authority, and returning to the failed policies of the imperialist past will not work in a far worse demographic situation. We either show humility, or get humbled.

Dutch
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Dutch

Reparations for colonialism is the excuse. Grabbing a big piece of that abundant American pie is the real motivation.

Cyrus
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Cyrus

Why should we show humility in the face of an invasion?

Alzaebo
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Alzaebo

From Hate Twitter :
“they even break the law and risk their lives to live in majority white nations, but then have the audacity to refer to us as racists because we want to live in majority white nations too.”

DeBeers Diamonds
Guest
DeBeers Diamonds

We get a choice: privilege or identity. We are not going to be allowed to keep both, considering our shrinking share of the global population, not just that of the US population. If we don’t want the migrants, we will be either using military force (as yet unelectable) or paying them to stay in their homelands. Israel has moral authority and nuclear blackmail, we don’t.

Member

Great post. Z: “the lunatics are off the leash *and society has no intellectual framework for putting them back on the leash*.” This is debatable.

pyrrhus
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pyrrhus

What you get with the leftist Priesthood is purity spirals, which of necessity rapidly reach levels that are insane and anti-civilizational. The traditional right is too involved with practical life to get into such nonsense, which is a disadvantage when the priests control the media.

highdesert45
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highdesert45

“It’s why stupid people and the historically ignorant argue that the Nazis were actually leftists or that fascism exists today.”

National Socialists…totalitarian, as opposed to authoritarian. Whereas both would force you to do what they ordered, under penalty of death, the totalitarians expected you to actually believe in their ideology. Nazis were leftist totalitarians, as are all democrats.

Chaotic Neutral
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Chaotic Neutral

Well it doesn’t really fit on the simplified left/right axis. In economics, as socialist, nazism would be far left. On racial issues, as maintaining racial purity of aryans, far right by modern American estimation, but Fabian socialists believed in race and eugenics, as did Woodrow Wilson. You might even think of nazism as a form of affirmative action for Germans against higher IQ Jews, hence leftist! On environment, early national socialism would be far left. On social mores like homosexuality far right, but who advocated gay rights back then? As military expansionist nazis would be right wing, and this might… Read more »

Jim Haples
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Jim Haples

“You might even think of nazism as a form of affirmative action for Germans against higher IQ Jews, hence leftist! “. That was gold, Jerry! Absolutely gold. I love reading the comments here.

Alzaebo
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Alzaebo

“who advocated gay rights back then?” Why, the Institute for the Science of Sexual Health- “scientists” experimenting in homosexuality, pederasty, and transgender pre-op. The Kinsey types. Guess their, and Kinsey, and Kinsey’s marketer’s, ethnicity.

The famous photos of Nazi book burnings were German protestors (led by Nazis) burning the 3400 books of the Institute.

After the war, the Allies burned over 30,000 Nazi and nationalist authored books. No photos.

Slab Bulkhead
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Slab Bulkhead

“who advocated gay rights back then?”

If you don’t understand this, you don’t understand Weimar Germany

Gay rights were in fact a thing back then and Magnus Hirschfeld was working on transsexualism as well

And yes, he was Jewish

Start googling

LineInTheSand
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LineInTheSand

.

Member
James LePore

The Ultimate Heretic has emerged from the Darkness: Donald Trump.

Saml Adams
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Saml Adams

Almost done re-reading “Eichmann in Jerusalem” for the first time since college. Arendt caught a lot of flack for it, one theme that runs through and through is how those “limiting principles” eroded through the rank and file in Germany. What passes for history today would leave you thinking the worst of Nazi ideology sprung out fully formed versus a long process that ended up at Wannsee.

Alzaebo
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Alzaebo

Kidnapped, alone, held in the stronghold of in the enraged victors that murdered his nation.

How long did they torture him before they killed him?

Alzaebo
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Alzaebo

Not disagreeing with your point, that wartime erodes restraint (and that we born racist uberbeasts have little restraint to begin with).

But, when you mention the book, I can’t help imagine: what if I were in his place?

Uhberific
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Uhberific

“It’s why stupid people and the historically ignorant argue that the Nazis were actually leftists or that fascism exists today.” @thezman, could you please elaborate on this? In earnest I ask, why is it stupid to assert that the Nazis were on the political left, as defined by that old scale? Perhaps I am stupid, but that’s been my understanding for some time, as I can see almost no connection between them and right-wingers in the Anglo-American tradition, who value liberty and the individual, and have no stomach for utopias. Or are you saying that merely arguing it is a… Read more »

DeBeers Diamonds
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DeBeers Diamonds

By the standard of 1789, almost everyone is on the left other than a few isolated “Legitimistes” and “Jacobites”. Politics is also best described using more than one axes. Left/Right most correctly refers to a belief in egalitarianism vs. aristocracy. That’s how we also get the equally limiting lolbertarian two axes test. One angle usually not tried is to allege that Stalin wasn’t as far-left as is implied. He initially formed an alliance with Nazi Germany, and purged a significant number of Jewish “Old Bolsheviks” during the purges. But only a Trotskyite would call Stalin “far-right”

Al from da Nort
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Al from da Nort

Uber; I think it’s the latter: Rhetorical waste of time due to the general historical ignorance today. In fact, it’s pretty obvious that Fascists (including Nazi’s) were of the so-called left* if you know much about the history of the movement. After all, they said so themselves at the time. Hell, Hitler even labeled his party as being socialist (Nazi < National Socialist German Workers' Party). Communists were International Socialists and proudly said so at the time they emerged in Europe ~ 150 years ago. The Fascists, starting with B. Mussolini in 1919. were National Socialists and proudly said so… Read more »

LineInTheSand
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LineInTheSand

Before World War 2, “conservatism” meant protecting a specific people and social order. That’s why Hitler was conservative and right wing in his time. “Conservatism” meant limited government and laisse faire capitalism only after WW2

DeBeers Diamonds
Guest
DeBeers Diamonds

In many European/Latin American countries the term “conservative” is considered a slur that has a similar meaning that “reactionary” does in English. In countries like Germany, the monarchy is loathed only slightly less than the Nazis. “Nationalist” also has a similar meaning, though only in Europe, most right-wing parties use either “Patriotic” or “Sovereigntist”. A rough equivalent to “nationalist” in Europe is “supremacist” in English.

DeBeers Diamonds
Guest
DeBeers Diamonds

An example of how this works: In France, Jean-Marie Le Pen was the founder and leader of the “Front National”. When his daughter Marine Le Pen became leader, the old man was bounced for his repeated statements of being sympathetic to Vichy. She renamed the party to “Rassemblment National” which means “National Rally”. She couldn’t use “Patriotes” because it was already taken by another defector party. Stuck with “National” and a leader named “Le Pen” it still reeks of “Vichy” to the average French voter.

Alzaebo
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Alzaebo

National Socialism versus International Socialism is, essentially, arguing the tax code.

DeBeers Diamonds
Guest
DeBeers Diamonds

That’s a Dinesh-tier take. “Socialism in one country” is Stalin, “permanent world revolution” is Trotsky. Hitler was about “Volk Lebensraum”. And of more importance is that all of these figures are long dead, and many of their ideas are of diminished importance in a society that is no longer dominated by heavy industry. You might have just as easily said “Christian Zionism versus Zionism is arguing about kosher food”

Drake
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Drake

The name on the box is pretty accurate. They were nationalists and socialists. Mussolini was kicked out of the Italian Socialist Party for his foriegn policies.

pimpkin\'s nephew
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pimpkin\'s nephew

Arguing it is a waste of time. We don’t have much time left. The fate of our society doesn’t rely on establishing that Hitler was a leftist, any more than Napoleon, Oliver Cromwell, Abe Lincoln, Stinky Macfarland or Genghis Khan. Hitler is a permanent meme, the way Satan used to be in the days of John Milton. It has been said that “the Left can’t meme”. Well, they don’t have to; the ‘meta-memes’ – Hitler, racism, homophobia, ‘white privilege’, colonialism, ‘patriarchy’, and so on – are all baked in, thanks to the education empire (so brilliantly and largely uselessly detailed… Read more »

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

Had a weird experience yesterday. I work in a big-time professional office building. The corporate landlord decided to set up a seasonal event in the lobby, spider webs and gravestones, all the Halloween stuff. A bunch of workers in the building “not of a certain age” had worn costumes to work. Quite a few black cats among the females, I suppose that one is flattering to the wearer and is culturally safe. As I left in the afternoon, bunches of them were in the lobby, in costume, wandering around, looking at the stuff, but mostly not interacting with each other… Read more »

Member

When you interact with a lot of people especially young ones, it does give you pause as to what kind of resistance and change can happen.

As an aside about Halloween, I had a black teenager come to the house in white face. How about that?

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

What I got out of it is perhaps an insight into how the Bolsheviks took power in Russia, how the Nazis took power in Germany, and maybe how all sorts of tyrants assumed power at various places and times. The people get atomized, they stop caring, and they drift day-to-day without any real internal direction or goals. They then fall prey to group-think (call it the madness of the crowd if you like) to some charismatic personality, or to the idea that someone is going to provide for them. And away things go. The labeling is mildly interesting to me,… Read more »

Alzaebo
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Alzaebo

“but the way these movements get up and going is the real story”

Boy howdy! Zman’s real value is that he leads discussion in how things work, not getting lost in the weeds of outdated labels or “who’s right, who’s wrong”.

PS- your sad illustration above points out Viktor Frankl’s book about his time in Auschwitz: that the strongest human instinct is not hunger, or power, or sex, or money, but the need to belong, to have a place amongst others.

Something really broken going on there. That’s not the big office environment I remember from the 80’s.

Wolf Barney
Guest
Wolf Barney

Dutch- A better costume for your co-workers would be that gray NPC-face (non-player character)

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

Ohhh, triggering. I could probably get the entire event cancelled for next year by wearing that thing into the room. That is, if they got last week’s memo about NPCs.

Rod1963
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Rod1963

Even 20 years ago office work was no different. Behavior was very circumscribed because anything you say or act can be used against you in such environments. These people are afraid to be anything other than a good minion while at work. Think about it, you say the wrong thing and you get fired and blackballed. Don’t think for a moment it doesn’t create a oppressive environment. You literally have to put your personality in a small dark place to work in such places The only places where you see people talking to people, joking, laughing is among white blue… Read more »

pimpkin\'s nephew
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pimpkin\'s nephew

Thus the Ingsoc slogan, “Only proles and animals are free.”

karl Mchungus
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karl Mchungus

Working in an office is soul killing under the best of circumstances. Now it is like 100x worse than 20 years ago.

Joachim
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Joachim

I was reading a Paul Gottfried essay yesterday, on the Frankfort School/Critical Theory, and this caught my eye:

“Lipset was also concerned about “working class authoritarianism,” a focus very much present in the work of Adorno and Horkheimer. Communists, fascists and all the benighted simpletons toiling in factories potentially opposed American pluralism.”

https://vdare.com/articles/the-intellectual-roots-of-the-american-left-s-emerging-totalitarianism

Procopius
Guest
Procopius

The Zman running like hell back into basic bitch conservatism! … This is why I don’t think amero-conservatives are anything but worthless. Not that I’m a nazi-larper but I understand why the German conservatives in the 1920s were ran over by the antifa because their conservatives were cowards and thought being couragous was extremism and fanaticism. The antifa we’re put out of business by the natsocs not by moderate positions and reasonable arguments. The thing that’s strange about zmans antifanaticism is his view on Christianity. … Christians were fanatically intorerent in days of old and they became the official religion… Read more »

AHfOH
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AHfOH

Wow. Cogent and clear.

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

Heh. Two steps away from

If
White man bad
Then
Execute
Orange man bad

Al from da Nort
Guest
Al from da Nort

Proc; Whether early Christians were fanatic true believers as described by Hoffer is highly questionable. The difference: If you are a Christian believer, you know, then and now, that you are intrinsically no better than anyone else in the eyes of God (i.e. what really matters). And the more a believer you are the more you are aware of your own intrinsic wretchedness. Now, human nature and human behavior being what it is, there were invariably sociopaths who cropped up and tried to engage in self-promoting purity spirals. Sometimes they succeeded, but mostly they were then ordinarily called heretics and… Read more »

Joachim
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Joachim

As I understand it, about the only people living lives relatively in accord with the injunctions of the Church Fathers are fanatical sects like the Amish and the closed-off communities of Orthodox Old Believers. The Catholic Church, right to Vatican II, believed Catholics were required to institute Catholic states, if their countries were sufficiently Catholic to enable them to do so. This entailed censoring (or worse) those who publicly dissented from the Faith (I believe even practicing non-Catholic faiths, in public, was to be outlawed). By the standards of the 20th century, by the standards of the American tradition, that… Read more »

Al from da Nort
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Al from da Nort

Joachim;
The Amish are dangerous fanatics_? You really need to get out more, particularly in Amish territory. Apparently the word ‘fanatic’ has lost most of its meaning, particularly the sub-text ‘dangerous’, as in ‘the Amish are dangerous fanatics’, which you seem to imply.

No doubt, should they achieve unchecked power, they (or anybody else with unchecked power) could *become* ‘dangerous fanatics’. As it is, they are not.

Right now they just make good (but expensive) furniture and dress funny.

Joachim
Guest
Joachim

To be clear, I greatly like and admire the Amish, the Orthodox Old Believers, etc. Large, and growing, communities of Amish are quite near where I live, and as a kid, I traveled through Amish country with my grandparents, stopping at some of their small shops, watching and listening to my old-school grandpa talk with similarly old-school Amish men. To be clear, they’re not perfect, with arrests for puppy-mills, incest, and bestiality making the news. Rumors, that cynical me has ultimately found believable, of them employing non-Amish males as studs for their women, due to their genetic (in-breeding) problem, are… Read more »

pimpkin\'s nephew
Guest
pimpkin\'s nephew

So the Amish are fanatical, eh? They live according to rules laid down by their ancestors. They are productive and happy and mind their own business – very well, I might add. Much of the productive farmland here in my part of the world has been preserved and improved by these ‘fanatics’. They aren’t unsocial. They aren’t out to convert anyone. They strike some as ‘fanatical’, I suppose, because they are grounded and self-aware, and that scares many people.

Joachim
Guest
Joachim

Merriam-Webster’s two definitions of fanatic:

1. a person exhibiting excessive enthusiasm and intense uncritical devotion toward some controversial matter (as in religion or politics)

2. a person who is extremely enthusiastic about and devoted to some interest or activity

I’d say the Amish quite clearly fall under the second definition, especially by the standards of the last 100+ years. And again, to be clear, although I’m not a fan of their pacifism, I greatly admire and respect them.

Tax Slave
Guest

Why do you continue to use the white man’s colonialist tool of oppression called the “Internet”? Best to confess now and drive that iPhone into your chest as punishment.

Paul Bonneau
Guest

Eh, I don’t think the whole thing is entirely driven by true belief. Plain old self-interest must also have a part to play. Just think of all the fanatics looking for a position in the new reality, commissars about to divvy up the loot stolen from the heretics, enjoying the exercise of power. These people would be considered nothing but dregs in the old reality.

I speculated how self-interest can drive different results in this short article:
http://strike-the-root.com/self-interest

karl Mchungus
Guest
karl Mchungus

did you read the book?

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

Severian had a similar point at Rotten Chestnuts about dweebs turning their personal problems into a career, with their own court ingenues.

Din C. Nuffin
Guest
Din C. Nuffin

Barack Obama appointed eleven members of the Trilateral Commission to top-level and key positions in his administration within his first ten days in office. David Rockefeller died in March of 2017, but he had basically managed the United States foreign policy since 1973 in the interest of international banks and corporations, not “the voters”. My favorite Rockefeller coup was the election of Commission member Jimmy Carter, and the subsequent disastrous cancellation of the Russian wheat sale in 1980, as punishment for the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The Russians simply purchased the grain they needed from South America, where The Rockefeller… Read more »

Member

He talks about it all the time wrt Bezos, Musk, etc.

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

Nicely done. That’s why I rail at the Judeo-Puritan business model of subversion- indebt, invade, invite.

Campaigns are a mask for commodities and market share.
FFS, can’t they just build some damn pipelines or whatever and sell to customers without all the turmoil?

Hippie Speedball
Guest
Hippie Speedball

I think LeBon’s The Psychology of Revolution is better than Hoffer’s book:
https://socialsciences.mcmaster.ca/econ/ugcm/3ll3/lebon/Revolution.pdf

karl Mchungus
Guest
karl Mchungus

did you read the Hoffer book? why is the other better?

Issac
Guest
Issac

Motive is less relevant as time goes on. Pecking at the internals of a prog warrior won’t have much impact unless you have a handle on power sufficient to de-Nazify them. Personally, I see no reason to assume the class that animates prog politics is no longer cynical. You don’t get Liz Warren situations from honest true believers and she is outwardly on of the most ideological.

Of course the rank and file are true believers. This is par for the course and likely a necessity within any coherent social entity greater than Dunbar size.

karl Mchungus
Guest
karl Mchungus

re: Hoffer it is important to separate out the “go along to get along” typed from the true believers. what is the proportion of the former vs the latter in the prog movement?

Member

Karl. Good question. I’d say 70% are go alongs, and 30% are true believers. It’s hard to say though, since the MSM makes it seem like everyone’s a righteous Lefty radical except for the deplorables.

Federalist
Guest
Federalist

I would suggest looking into Eric Voegelin and his ideas about Gnosticism and immanentizing the eschaton.

LineInTheSand
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LineInTheSand

Z has mentioned the limiting principle in other posts and I’d like to examine it. My understanding of the limiting principle is that it is a belief that prevents another belief from becoming fanatical. To my knowledge, the only example of a limiting principle that has ever been offered is that Christians are taught not to expect paradise in this world and this teaching supposedly moderates their political actions.

Can commenters offer other examples of a limiting principle or define the idea more clearly?

Jim Haples
Guest
Jim Haples

I took what Zman was saying as- that the idea of “grace was for the next life” Was (is gone) as the definition of the limiting principle of Christianity. There are and/or were other limiting principles. 100 yrs ago= shame, responsibility, being shunned, the stocks, etc. Now= pretty much- can I get away with it and fu I can.

LineInTheSand
Guest
LineInTheSand

I guess that the lack of response to my inquiry means that when Z or his followers talk about a “limiting principle” they mean nothing but “shut up goy.”

Member

Good essay. I’ve used a variation of it to explain the problem of the government leviathan for years. For the Government Party, there is no upper limit to how much government should spend. The government has a floor, but no ceiling. So the “limiting factor” is Prog compassion, which, as we’ve all seen, is limited only by their piety…which is unlimited. It explains mundane things, like Janet Yellen stating the other day that she wishes she had a magic wand to raise taxes. Not cut spending. Raise taxes. Janet the Pious for the win…evil earners are punished for their sins,… Read more »

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

With BIS central banking as the fuel.
Money used to be a real thing you could inventory with your own eyes.
A real, solid limit.

With a license to print unlimited “money”, of course you’ll end up owning everything.
And funding lots of broken glass.

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

I keep thinking about Z’s statement on power a couple of days ago: “Ashkenazi Jews have been wildly successful, despite being a distinct minority in lands where the majority is often very hostile to them. That’s no small thing.” Cultural marxism and central banking dominate or outright rule every continent on this earth. Judaism has no “next life”; it is predicated on resurrecting this world, and this world only. Thus, no “…limiting principle of Christianity, that grace was for the next life.” One cannot deny such power. I don’t believe the post-Christian One World order can or will stop. Is… Read more »

Dutch
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Dutch

Near as I can tell, the mainline Christian denominations ignore the next life, and promise bliss in this life if you believe and do the “right things”, most of which are paying penance for deeds committed by someone, somewhere, in Jesus’ name. Or not in Jesus’ name. Or something that could maybe have been committed, or possibly considered once or twice. The application of guilt runs wide and deep. It is not about eternal damnation anymore, it is about shaming and shunning in this life. Eternal retribution ain’t good enough. It is about immediate results, payable in dopamine hits to… Read more »

Al from da Nort
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Al from da Nort

Dutch;
Yes, and that’s why they’re dying.

Cerulean
Guest
Cerulean

I’m going to have to read Hoffer. I’m skeptical about the idea that all or most fanatics hate themselves. The dictionary definition of ‘fanatic’ usually involves the word ‘enthusiasm.’ It comes from words that mean inspired or possessed by God or a god. I suppose in a post-christian society it can mean someone who claims to act for a higher cause than ordinary people do. Fanatic is always used in a pejorative sense. (We don’t have fanatics; they do.) I read a newspaper today for the first time in a long time. It was sitting on the table when I… Read more »

Slab Bulkhead
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Slab Bulkhead

Saying fanatics “hate themselves” might be a pejorative way of stating it.

It might be possible to frame it in a more positive sense; for example, to say that they have gained an appreciation of limitations of individualism and learned to value something greater than themselves

Cyril Holland
Guest

One thing I notice that appears unique about the current crop of fanatics is that their goal is blurry, ill-defined and ever-changing. Valhalla, The Workers Paradise, Christian Salvation and the like are things that can be expressed and understood. Most of the cosmopolitan crowd I’ve come in contact with never discuss their ideals in absolutist terms. They just talk about progress, but never with any specific goal in mind. Progress toward what? What is the desired end here? If you ask them if they believe that things like anti-racism and economic inequality can ever be achieved they usually say something… Read more »

Karl Horst (Germany)
Guest
Karl Horst (Germany)

Not a real mystery to anyone who knows their Bible – 2 Timothy 3 3 Be sure of this. In the last days hard times will come. 2 People will love themselves. They will love money. They will talk about themselves and be proud. They will say wrong things about people. They will not obey their parents. They will not be thankful. They will not keep anything holy. 3 They will have no love. They will not agree with anybody. They will tell lies about people. They will have no self-control. They will beat people. They will not love anything… Read more »

TimNY
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TimNY

Well, damn. Now I have to read my namesake’s book. Tim

Karl McHungus
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Karl McHungus

Tim the Enchanter

Marionette
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Marionette

I read that John Cleese forgot the name he was supposed to call himself, thus the pause, and then the confusion of the rest. One of the many great moments in that movie.

Joachim
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Joachim

I haven’t read Eric Hoffer yet, but I just want to voice a concern of mine. The claim of anti-fanaticism can be a mask for consumerism-hedonism, for rank decadence and degeneracy. I’m inclined to think that our problem has been a distinct lack of fanaticism, on the right side of the aisle. Not all are content with a pure bourgeois life of shopping, et al., much of mankind, psychologically, require something more and higher. I’ll further say that I don’t believe Christianity is going to make a sufficient come-back to fill this void (evolution is a dagger to it’s heart,… Read more »

Karl McHungus
Guest
Karl McHungus

zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Al from da Nort
Guest
Al from da Nort

Joachim; Re The *Theory* of Evolution destroying original sin: I don’t see how the two concepts are contradictory in the least, especially for a true materialist. If the theory of purely materialistic evolution is correct, then intra-species aggressive, ruthless, murderous, treacherous, etc. behavior wins every time, particularly if one is able to conceal ones’ intentions. So humans having these traits will reproduce and those lacking them will not. Since (some) behavior is heritable, per HBD realism, said traits will tend to predominate over time. Call the end result of a purely materialist process of competition for mates and resources whatever… Read more »

slumlord
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slumlord

As a result, the most cynical among us are clustered at some safe distance from the point of absolute reality. Oh man you’ve got this so wrong. “Right” falsehoods and no better than “Left” ones. It’s the pretty lies we tell ourselves that damn us all. What unites all the fanatic ideologies is the preference for the lie over the Truth and their resistance and opposition to reality calibration. That’s why a truth teller is despised by both sides of the mainstream “Right” and “Left”. BTW, read James Gregor. Your understanding of Fascism is wrong. He’s also go a good… Read more »

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

Standing some distance from the blast furnace of reality is one of the most meaningful things I have read in a while. Makes me wonder if the slow grind to death, and the giving in that people often, but not always, do at the threshold of death, is somehow related. Is the giving in an eleventh-hour embrace of the reality of existence, or the release from the concern about it? Is the furnace welcome at that late hour, or is keeping a distance deemed no longer necessary despite the agony, because the pain will be over soon?

pimpkin\'s nephew
Guest
pimpkin\'s nephew

The answer is – we don’t know.

All this fuss over pointless lives in a pointless universe gets boring.

Willy Nohmor
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Willy Nohmor

You seem to be saying that there are people like Solzhenitsyn who are not afraid to stare into the blast furnace because they are willing to confront the truth. But I don’t think that the blast furnace or point zero as used in the post means the Truth. The post says that point zero is the lack of belief or faith. That is closer to nihilism. I don’t know how instructive it is to have a better scale with looney true believers on one side and nihilists on the other. I like the idea of a scale where the idealistic,… Read more »

Spud Boy
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Spud Boy

I think you’re onto something, as evidenced by the traction that Jordan Peterson has received. Traditional religion is burdened with so much supernatural bullshit that many, like myself, simply can’t deal with it. We need heroes and narratives to live by however, in order to maintain a cohesive society, which is the point JP makes in his speeches.

pimpkin\'s nephew
Guest
pimpkin\'s nephew

“Traditional religion is burdened with so much supernatural bullshit that many, like myself, simply can’t deal with it.”

Find me the hero, and the narrative, among actually-existing societies, that rely on something other than ‘supernatural bullshit’ to inflate their importance.

I live by a hero and a narrative – I won’t say which. Have you found your hero, your narrative, freed of that supernatural bullshit you can’t deal with? I wish you luck.

Member

Pimpkin that’s just wise sounding sophistry.

pimpkin\'s nephew
Guest
pimpkin\'s nephew

Frip, that’s just flippant non-contribution from one who enjoys his own voice. If you have a point to make, then make it.

Member

I’m tired Pimpkin. I’ll just say there’s exaggerational “myth”. Then there’s a dude who’s the son of god…a guy who splits the sea in two…and a guy that defeats an army with a bone. To conflate the two is sophistry. I’m out.

Karl McHungus
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Karl McHungus

Someone enjoys their own voice.

Nunnya Bidnez, jr.
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Nunnya Bidnez, jr.

“Traditional religion is burdened with so much supernatural bullshit”..

And yet, there are those who reject traditional religion, but call themselves “spiritual”.
An equal amount, if not more, “bullshit”.. pagans, witches, gaia worshippers.. they all have their own brand of BS they believe in. They are still Believers, they just don’t believe in your religion.
“We need heroes and narratives” … why not become your own Hero, create yor own narrative. Works for me.

Karl McHungus
Guest
Karl McHungus

Shit, is shit, is shit. – G. Stein

Karl McHungus
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Karl McHungus

The Shoveler?

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

Invisible Boy and Blue Raja make me laugh as well.

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

I agree entirely, Spud Boy. Where is Leonidas, Patton, or Rommel?

Swrichmond
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Swrichmond

“It’s like looking into a blast furnace. No matter how beautiful it is, the closer you get the more intolerable…As a result, the most cynical among us are clustered at some safe distance from the point of absolute reality.”

I am reasonably certain that this is how those who venture too far down the path of philosophy wind up blind.

Saml Adams
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Saml Adams

OT: Got a crack ‘o dawn flight back east in the morning…if you could post up the podcast (assuming there is one) early…would be eternally grateful.

Slab Bulkhead
Guest
Slab Bulkhead

If it comes down to fanatics vs non-fanatics, non-fanatics are doomed. Look at how the left has run roughshod over conservatives who just want to be left alone. Just analyze the outcomes from a game theory perspective, fanatic vs guy who wants to be left alone. The fanatic can just keep pushing and pushing, as long as he doesn’t trigger the self defense response. And gradually, the conditions that trigger self defense can also be pushed back, until he can take everything, without fighting back ever being “worth it” from the perspective of the guy who wants to be left… Read more »

Karl McHungus
Guest
Karl McHungus

Mother Nature *always* wins.

Slab Bulkhead
Guest
Slab Bulkhead

Yes, nature always wins. But during our libertarian phase WE were the ones who ignored the “laws” of nature. We slept while our rivals consolidated control over every aspect of our society and worked to destroy us. A less intelligent creature with less of a capacity for abstraction would have noticed the threat far earlier, but we were able to create an imaginary world for ourselves, where we pretended that nature was not “red in tooth and claw”. This allowed us to ignore the threat posed by stuff like Big Tech for far too long. We run nothing, our opponents… Read more »

Member

I’ve conquered mountains. I’ve made it out of the forest after being lost. Did mother nature win? No, I kicked her ass.

Member

Hoffer’s concept of the True Believer has always resonated with me. From the perspective of the true believer archetype, left versus right is irrelevant when it comes to comparing Nazis and Communists during that era. They were both true believers who were going to create a paradise on earth and rid the world of devils. The difference being that the Nazis were more grounded in reality than the Bolsheviks in Germany circa the 30s. Nazis were fanatics but were fighting real threats: horrible economy, a crushing treaty, violent communists and Jewish control over much of the country. When it comes… Read more »

Member

“Franco (especially) and Mussolini were not as fanatical as the communists or Nazis.”

I don’t have much to add in any deep way. But want to point out that separate from ideology, Germans are some weird, cruel mothers. Just watch their porn. There’s something wrong with them. A gap in human feeling. The Asians show this as well.

Alzaebo
Guest
Alzaebo

Too true. That took balls.

Moran ya Simba
Guest
Moran ya Simba

Agree that this is a major, maybe the greatest, danger, the ever escalating virtue signalling/piousness cascade. It drives insanity. Just one word on this, we too can get caught up in this dynamic; who is the most rebellious, the most no nonsense rejectionist of ‘the narrative’. Z has convinced me that a guy like Shapiro is not our ally a little to the left (I never much liked him anyway, smug little f..k). And J Peterson, yeah, there’s plenty to question there. The Lincoln narrative, the JQ, you name, legit to debate. But I am happy to see that it… Read more »

Name
Guest
Name

How does this sound to you?
https://youtu.be/JEyNNCn9Z5M

Please your comment, Z.

Member

Let me throw out a crazy thought here …. I’ve seen several comments and cartoons premised on the “joke” that Democrats are championing causes that almost seem to *guarantee* a Trump second term. And that got me to thinking … is it possible that down, deep in their twisted minds, the foam-at-the-mouth leftists *want* Trump around for another four years? Because he makes such a fantastic Satan, and railing against him feels so pure and holy?

Member

Good point. But still, there’s no way that translates to them voting for Trump.

Member

Catholicism traditionally had a brilliant way to deal with those whose personality made them lean toward fanaticism. It taught them that if you *really* wanted to be a zealot, the most pious thing you could possibly do was to lock yourself up inside a monastery and take a vow of silence. Ridiculous Enlightenment-era caricatures of the medieval age aside, this worked well at keeping fanatics from making too much trouble for a very long time. It was only once this system was weakened that the Church reluctantly had to take to terrifying fanatics into silence by tying them to logs… Read more »

Member

Interesting post AntiDem. I’d like to read an article on the topic. I just figured the church hierarchy persecuted blasphemers. So you’re saying they were wary of their own SJW’s? Cool.

Willy Nohmor
Guest
Willy Nohmor

I’m reading the hofer book now due to this Post. So, question – are you saying the dissident right is or is not a mass movement and if it is, what do you make of hofers statement that movements are interchangeable for those who seek a substitution of self with the greater cause of the movement? To be clear I get that you are saying the left is a mass movement but what about the right? Is it only the far right which would qualify? Hofer says that movements which lack passion and a desire to substitute self are simply… Read more »

sirlancelot
Guest
sirlancelot

I don’t get caught up in labels. Of course it’s important to identify our enemies Like to keep it simple, left / right , red / blue. it’s hard enough keeping up with this country’s terminology, far-right , alt- right, dissident-right, etc. For example in Australia the “liberal party” is equivalent to our conservative party. And at this time would like to invoke “Goodwin’s law” Going to laugh in the face of the next moron that accuses me of being Hitler. We need to ridicule these people, embarrass them in public. Fanatics are high strung, mentally unstable , easy to… Read more »