The “Enlightenment”- Philosophy or Culture?

We are taught that the social change called the Enlightenment, from roughly around 1600 to the early 1800’s, was the product of European society abandoning superstition for reason and science. That this was shown by the overthrow or weakening of the aristocracy, the abandonment of Catholicism for Protestant Christianity, the strengthening of democratic and legal institutions, and the establishment of an international trade and diplomatic system.

But is this really true? The new way was different, but not necessarily better for most people. As David Goldman/Spengler recently pointed out, globalization has always destroyed societies. Having most things decided by judges or lawyers rather than noblemen holding court isn’t much of an improvement- the idiocy of the English legal system was well parodied by Charles Dickens in “Bleak House”. Being able to pacify the masses with imported grain and sugar only holds off the inevitable for so long, as we see in Egypt.

The “Enlightenment” was really the shift in power and cultural values from the aristocratic military elite to that of bankers and merchants. Its supposed greatest accomplishment- science- was not a product of Calvinist businessmen, but Anglican gentry with curiosity and time on their hands. Its primary accomplishments- “democracy”, “human rights” and “equality” are all bogus on their faces, and in any case highly conditional to suit the case at hand.

People, especially conservatives, and even many alt-righters, need to get the idea out of their heads that there is any such thing as “the Constitution” or “the rule of law”.

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About thrasymachus33308

I like fast cars, fast women and southern-fried rock. I have an ongoing beef with George Orwell. I take my name from a character in Plato's "Republic" who was exasperated with the kind of turgid BS that passed for deep thought and political discourse in that time and place, just as I am today. The character, whose name means "fierce fighter" was based on a real person but nobody knows for sure what his actual political beliefs were. I take my pseudonym from a character in an Adam Sandler song who was a obnoxious jerk who pissed off everybody.
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17 Responses to The “Enlightenment”- Philosophy or Culture?

  1. Heil Hizzle Mein Nizzle says:

    I think for most “conservatives” the ethics are as situational as they are for the liberals. You’re familiar with the Bible, so I’m sure you know all about the Mote and the Beam. When Bush was president, these constitutional diehards with their fifes and tri-corner hats were pretty quiet, but now they’re up in arms. Conversely, the liberals who were bitching about Bush pouring water down the throats of detainees are tying themselves into pretzels to explain why Obama authorizing “double-tap” drone strikes on wedding parties is what Martin Luther King Jr. would do.

    A few outlier weirdos called bullshit on both Bush and Obama, like Chomsky or Greenwald on the Left, or Buchanan or Paul on the right, but none of these people have their own TV shows on a 24 cable network.

  2. fnn says:

    For the first time I’m ready to admit that I actually saw Dave “Spengler” Goldman whispering in the ear of Lyndon LaRouche about 1973 in NYC. Today Goldman is a Jewish chauvinist-and religious Jew-of the most extreme kind. He may be right once in a while but I can’t stand to read him. I won’t read that linked article, for example, since I know that the Syrian War would have gone nowhere without a thumbs-up from US-Israel.

    • He’s an interesting writer with a different viewpoint. Like most people he’s right about some things and wrong about others.

      I talk to the LaRouche people when I see them and they make more sense than any mainstream political people.

      • fnn says:

        That’s a low bar-there hasn’t been a mainstream American political movement that’s been worth much since the days of the America First Committee. And If you knew more of the entire history of the LaRouche movement I doubt if you’d be so impressed.

  3. Ryu says:

    They certainly do need to give up the constitution. And the government makes the laws, so naturally the laws serve USG’s ends.

    Too many still believe that this country is the old US. That country is dead and buried. Soldiers and cops in particular believe it.

  4. spandrell says:

    Let us not take class struggle to far. The Modern era was a net improvement over the Middle Ages. Pacifying the masses with sugar works because before globalization there was no sugar. Nor a lot of stuff. Globalization destroys societies. Good riddance. Societies die, what can you do about it? Trying to stop that is like trying to protect every obscure tribal language in New Guinea.

  5. webley says:

    Interesting ideas please expound further. Between this and moldbug I am piecing together a history quite different than what is taught in school.
    I find it fascinating what ordered societies all pulling in the same direction can accomplish. Ie the tower of babel myth. It is ludicrous to think our fractured multiculti civ in the west will ever again accomplish anything of note.

  6. RS says:

    Golden Spengler is mendacious, noxious in fact, and well worth reading.

    Sugars are probably somewhat vitality-sapping, by way of being anti-androgenic, by way of adiposity. Subcutaneous fat impinges testosterone secretion — nontrivially . . . quite a lot if one is notably fat — while visceral fat inactivates DHT. Visceral fat also has possibly-relevant effects on levels of cytokines like IL-6 which are lethargizing and possibly psycho-depressant factors. It’s basically a small high (mediated by endogenous opioids) with a small but semi-permanent hangover. –Probably (not much is really certain in nutrition science). I’m scientizing not ‘moralizing’ ; I like getting high in ways that are a square deal, but sugar looks like a bad deal. To top it off, if you pretty much abstain from refined sugar a raw carrot starts to taste pretty sweet, because the perception of sweetness upregulates.

    • I’ve tried to go on a “raw food” diet in the past––the cravings you get on such a diet are unbelievable. I wish I had the willpower and spending money to eat more like that again, but it’s very hard to do on your own.

      • RS says:

        I wouldn’t do that, personally. We’ve been cooking for so long. Though it’s probably good to eat some raw food.

        I was a huge sugar head for many a year. Had it bad. Like Mark Twain with tobacco, I found it so easy to quit that I did so twenty times. I was interested in losing visceral/abdominal fat, among other things, but this didn’t seem to follow too easily from avoiding sugar.

        When I also quit industrial-age plant oils at the same time, I lost the belly pretty fast. I don’t know if soybean oil, canola oil etc cause visceral fat and other problems, but some people claim so, and allegedly these oils didn’t really exist in 1915 when everyone was thin. (I don’t have excellent or multiple sources on this, but I believe it.) You need pretty high temps to extract them, temps which obviously were attainable in 1915, but the additives used to prevent them from polymerizing (into something like plastic) at those temps were not yet developed. Anyway once you bring them up to 400* C or something, you apparently get unnatural molecules in a fair quantity.

        Once I got some effects, it was automatically drilled into my subconscious that I just wanted to eat home cooked meat and vegetables, with moderate rice/etc and a considerable amount of “1915” fat, literally 99% of the time. (And some nuts and cheese and stuff.) Olive oil, peanut oil, and animal fats are the only fats I know offhand are not extracted using high temps and do not get undesirably altered at cooking temps (though you can easily burn butter, of course). I stopped wanting anything else. Couple of bay leaves, some thyme, butter, black pepper, red wine vinegar — any meat and any veg is damn good. To switch it up you just get some mint and lemon juice or something. Or I spring for some Thai stuff based on coconut milk which I am pretty sure is cold-extracted. Being quite lazy I just cook a gigantic pot of stuff all at once. Reheat it, or not, whatever.

        Unfortunately pretty much everything you can buy at a store or restaurant, other than unaltered ingredients, will have sugar or industrial oils. (Heck even most vegetables have a fair amount of glucose and fructose, just not a lot.)

        What’s interesting is that a lot of sophisticated thinking on this subject is kind of a waste of time. Just look at what people ate in 1915 when they were far healthier metabolically and (I’ve heard it claimed) cardiovascularly. Eat that. All the fancy science one might read has far less epistemic power than just looking at 1915. I mean, non-dietary factors could be involved in the 1915-2013 difference. Only, they probably aren’t. I could scare up some insomnia-curing biochem & epidemiology papers about canola oil, but the only thing I want to know is whether people ate it in quantity in 1915. George Washington would never read all that malarkey.

      • RS says:

        > Anyway once you bring them up to 400* C or something, you apparently get unnatural molecules in a fair quantity.

        Like trans fats, basically, and worse. There is trans fat in beef, but quite little, and IIRC they may of a rather benign kind. Otherwise, trans fats don’t occur in nature.

        Granted, there is an infinity of different small molecules in food plants. Not all of them are necessarily very nice, though our domestic plants are probably pretty low in nasty stuff. But regardless, all(?) this stuff runs towards the water soluble end of the scale, and the body is handsomely equipped to render them yet more water soluble (if need be) and get them on out of you.

        Some good plant chems are rendered more abundant/useable upon cooking. And some are rendered less so. So I think having some raw and some cooked vegs is probably best.

      • Anon says:

        Do you consider corn oil Pre-1915 and OK?

      • RS says:

        I think probably non-OK.

        I have to admit, my main source on this, Catherine Shanahan, is not what I’d call scholarly. On the one hand she is in most ways straightforward and honest (states frankly that good-looking people have vast advantages in life) — on the other she practically suggests everyone can be decent-looking through proper nutrition, largely via epigenetics, and she comes close to suggesting genetic mutations don’t matter much, as a rule, for health/etc. That is beyond unlikely.

        So, she could be a lot stronger scientifically, but she’s not beholden to the (rather dubious IMO) nutrition orthodoxy in any subtle or unsubtle way ; sometimes I appreciate people like that. She rejects orthodox views on cholesterol as well (I’m agnostic). Her books do have refs which one could check out. One day I will check her refs on heart attack, etc being far rarer in the West in 1915: very interesting if true.

        Anyway she lists all the oils that are cold-extracted and considered suitable for cooking by her. You can probably read it on the free Amazon preview of her shorter book. There are just a few oils she says are kosher but should not be overheated: the rest are either plain thumbs up or plain thumbs down.

  7. IA says:

    What is culture? You don’ t seem to have a definition.

  8. Colmainen says:

    Some people just enjoy being servants to a nobleman and run their carriages.

    Compared to what the ancien regime was doing on 1780, the merchants were improvements enough.

  9. Carl says:

    Yeah, the rule of law sux man. get rid of it. oh wait isn’t that one of the customs and traditions of the west? eek! what do we do now

  10. Gringo says:

    Its supposed greatest accomplishment- science- was not a product of Calvinist businessmen, but Anglican gentry with curiosity and time on their hands.
    Not correct. In The Evolution of Man and Society, Darlington points out that the vast majority of scientific and engineering advances in England and Scotland during the 17th-19th centuries came from Dissidents- which is to say Calvinists of sorts- and hardly any from Anglicans. Newton had to feign allegiance to Anglicanism to gain admission to Cambridge, but his religious beliefs were rather unorthodox. Faraday- Anglican? You gotta be kidding me. Darwin’s family tree is full of Unitarians and Dissenters, though he did lead the life of the gentry. Check it out.

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