This post is complicated and requires close reading. Even then, not everyone who reads it carefully will understand it. This is not suitable material for your casual skiving off work from home. It is long, dull, and there are no pictures. You might want to skip it. However, if you ever have trouble grasping my meaning in a future post, you might want to come back to this piece.
I’ve noticed a few odd things happening across the web lately.
Many readers misunderstood my post about gun rights in the US, assuming I was taking a position that I was not.
In cases elsewhere, I’ve seen ironic posts taken seriously or the wrong way.
I pointed out a misunderstanding on Adam’s blog, which was itself misunderstood, plus I probably misunderstood the original comment. This post is not a continuation of that discussion.
Finally, I’m receiving more than the usual amount of private communication from people saying they are too afraid to post publicly, even under a handle. They often make a point that I thought I had made myself.
What’s going on?
A big hint is that this has been occurring for about three weeks. Other things have also been going on over that period.
The typical, Anglo-Saxon way of speaking English is forthright and clear. Unlike speakers of many other languages, we value clarity of meaning over politeness, respect for our betters, or sensitivity to the feelings of others.
This was the primary cause of culture shock when I first moved to Japan. You can’t simply point out a problem – you have to gently hint at it, in a roundabout way. By the same token, you need to pay attention to the meaningful hints and silences of others.
But three weeks ago, the West went mad. It has been building gradually since the 1960s, accelerated in 2013, and has now exploded in a way that has surprised everyone.
About a third of Westerners have jumped out of the tree, going by Audacious Epigone’s number crunching of support for a mob tearing down the Columbus statue. I estimate another third remain sane, that is, moderate and hoping for the restoration of the rule of law. The remaining third are gently chewing and haven’t noticed what’s going on.
The number of cancellations has spiraled out of control. Left-wing figures are trawling through each other’s past statements in order to spot something non-canonical by the standards of this week, partly to promote their own path up the slippery pole of the Twitocracy, and partly to distract attention from themselves and stave of their own cancellation for as long as possible. In other words, it is a mild Cultural Revolution. It may not remain mild.
Do not doubt that the crazy third really are crazy. You might be thinking, ‘I don’t support all this vandalism and looting, but they are right to be angry about police brutality against African Americans.’ They are not right. Since 2015, US cops have shot ten unarmed blacks.
Meanwhile, this weekend, in Chicago alone, 66 people were shot and nine of them died. We can safely assume that all or almost all of the victims and perps were black.
The black reaction is actually more sane than the white reaction. They have a strong in-group preference, and therefore see police action as unwanted, outside interference, whereas shootings within their own gang culture are accepted as private matters to be dealt with in-house.
Further, the riots, looting, and violence make a strange sort of sense. Blacks inhabit some of the best real estate in the US, and disorder like this is what keeps out white gentrifiers who might force them out through higher prices.
Don’t be misled. There is no race war. This is and always has been a civil war between two groups of white people, with minorities taking on auxiliary roles.
Only high-IQ, lunatic whites could follow the convoluted chain of reasoning that took them from protesting an instance of police brutality, to tearing down a Columbus statue. Let alone tearing down George Washington, or Ulysses S. Grant, who freed the slaves, or Cervantes, who was enslaved by Africans.
Only whites could seriously support the concept of disbanding the police. Blacks merely want reduced policing of their neighbourhoods so they can live their own way, and that will now happen. Whites, on the other hand, are seriously claiming that the recent fatal shooting in CHOP would only have been worse if cops were on hand, and that it was probably the work of the B**galoo Boys anyway. After a black man was killed during a shoot-out with cops, one commenter said police had no right to arbitrarily dole out the death penalty in that case. This is what a third of whites currently believe.
It’s the same in the rest of the West. Only mad whites in the UK could think they are too racist, after politely giving their whole country to foreigners. Only mad whites in Australia could claim too many Aborigines are dying in custody, when they know why so many of them are in custody.
Many people are currently feeling like they’re the only sane man in a lunatic asylum, and are afraid to do or say anything lest they attract the attention of the mob.
Hence, normally forthright Westerners are nervous online. They (we) are not speaking clearly. They are speaking in parables, or making ironic statements that may or may not be ironic, or are using references that their readers are not grasping, or are hinting at things they dare not say aloud.
This is normal.
The Enlightenment has only been a feature of Western society for around three centuries, and has not fully caught on beyond our societies. It is an anomoly for humans. It is a highly fragile structure. The very idea of free debate, of holding a disagreeable idea in one’s head merely to try it out as an intellectual exercise, is very strange and rarely allowed in any human culture.
Now that Enlightenment is coming to an end.
We can no longer say what we think. Speech is moderated both by what is said, and by who is saying it. The rule of law for protests and violence has given way to a who/whom judgement of the merits of the cause.
Our trouble is, we’re not used to it. We are accustomed to clicking on a blog post, getting the main argument in the first paragraph, seeing it developed and supported in the middle, and restated at the end.
We put the onus of responsibility on the author: if the reader doesn’t get your point, you did not write clearly enough. We are not mind-readers. Go back to school.
These last three weeks, when we read an article, we might have to reread it several times to guess its meaning, and even then we may get it wrong.
There might also have been cases when a friend, relative, or neighbour approached you, and you could not quite catch his point. He may have been putting out feelers, trying to find a sane ally, but was too afraid to come out and say it in case you were not.
This is not the New Normal. It is the Old Normal, one we have not seen for some time.
Readers of early literature are accustomed to this, because we know that much of the meaning is esoteric. We know that Montaigne cannot say all that he thinks. He goes so far, and leaves the rest to the reader. Shakespeare cannot write about certain contemporary topics, so he writes instead about events from long ago or far away.
Keep in mind that even the great Enlightenment thinker, Voltaire, had to hide behind many pseudonyms and was eventually forced to escape to England when his own cancellation loomed. How he would have mocked that neologism – ‘cancellation’.
This post is not pro-free speech. At this point, it doesn’t matter whether you support it or not. One side has gained the upper hand and is very rapidly closing down our old right.
Further, this is not the first time the lights have been going out all over Europe. This time, however, the restrictions might become permanent. This time, liberalism may not bounce back.
The worm may turn. Some reactionary group might seize control and restrict the narrative just as tightly as the Woke Left. Those who instigate a revolution usually lose control a short time later. In any case, the golden age of free speech is probably coming to an end.
If you have read carefully so far, you will understand that people are currently misunderstanding each other, and why. It will make sense to you that people are arguing despite actually agreeing with each other. But what are we supposed to do?
First, let the concept sink in. We are no longer speaking openly. Your feelings about this don’t matter.
Second, you need to learn to read the old way. Closely. You must search for subtlety. You must realize that the face reading of a text might not be its true meaning.
Once you have the right attitude, here are some things to look for:
Omitted extrapolation. You might read a and think, that would lead logically to b. Why is the author so dumb that he won’t say b? Well, dear reader, it is because he assumes you’re clever enough to get to b without him having to spell it out.
References. A writer might include a snippet of a poem, or a piece of music, or mention an old book. Artwork might also be significant. The author expects you to either be familiar with the source or to look it up. I recently caught a tiny snippet from Paul Joseph Watson that would have got him thrown off every platform had the Woke Army noticed it. But they didn’t. Most of his readers probably missed it, too.
Drawing attention. This is a very common hint, and one often missed. Sometimes a writer will draw your attention to a particular fact, or to the nature of an adversary’s name, or to a piece of history, but then say nothing about it. He is assuming that you will notice and figure out the significance without him doing it for you.
Irony. Sometimes an author will deliberately make an absurd point or blatantly false claims, assuming you will see that it is rubbish and get the joke. An example on this site has so far sailed under the radar.
This is not an exhaustive list. Once you start reading closely, and have the attitude of reading between the lines, you’ll figure out other techniques for yourself.
You might complain, but what if I make a guess about the meaning and get it wrong?
That might not be such a problem. Imagine an author writes a, but secretly means b. You read it, and wonder if this might actually be an argument for c, d, or e. You have missed the author’s meaning, but have considered three new ideas regardless. That is not ideal, but it is good. Thinking is good.
One might also suggest, can’t we just use alternative platforms?
Yes and no.
Russian servers are available, but other services like CloudFlare and payment systems will probably still be required. Some discussions will certainly move on to the Dark Web – even ideas that were acceptable for debate on CNN a decade ago.
To reach a broad audience, however, authors with controversial views need to hide in plain sight. Voltaire was influential because everyone knew who he was. In any case, a fellow publishing too plainly on safe platforms may be cancelled in other ways.
One might also argue that we should be bold, that cloaking our meaning is the coward’s way. Some may choose this path. Events of the past few weeks show us that the situation can change very rapidly. People are being cancelled for comments of 16 years ago, and the very meaning of the term ‘cancellation’ might be very different two years’ hence. I recommend caution.
Of course, while I value reading politically incorrect views, I myself am painfully moderate and don’t have much to say that goes against current mores. Posts here at the People’s Blog will continue to be straightforward, and anyone reading an extremist idea into anything I write is probably a crazy vegetarian who needs more zinc to make his brain work properly.
I hope that these troubled times bring us closer together. If you still live in the West, take a moment to get to know your neighbours. Introduce yourself, find out what they’re like. If you discover that they are like-minded and willing to help out in a pinch, that is a good that money can’t buy. If you find them unfriendly or difficult to cooperate with, you might consider eventually moving to a location that’s a better fit for your family. In this day and age, living around those with a similar, responsible mindset is probably the best form of safety there is.
If you catch my drift.
Please think before you comment. Have you really grasped the meaning, or have you skim-read the first line of each paragraph, assumed I was making Cliched Point a, and now you want to charge in with Cliched Point b? Or are you wanting to say, so you mean c, when I will need to delete cif you say it? Or do you think this is a continuation of an argument that never existed? Kindly reflect before you post.