The Map Is Not the Territory; Or, The Strange World of Reality

I took a number of math classes and two physics classes in college. The two physics professors were a strong contrast. The first always wore an untucked shirt, had messy hair, and joked a lot. The second always wore a suit and tie and had a rather formal method of presentation. But they were both lucid, engaged people. The math professors on the other hand ranged from kind of weird to complete space cadets.

Why the difference? I think because physics is about constructing an abstraction that explains and predicts the real world, where math is just a logical abstraction that may or may not be useful in the real world. An idea can be logically consistent but not match with or map reality.

Nick Steves objected to my objection to Mark Christensen. He says I respond to my impression of what he said, not what he actually said. I will respond then to certain specific statements.

Christensen quotes Evola at length, concluding with Evola’s statement that the mob rejects any leader not subordinate to it. He continues in his own words “In other words, nationalism becomes an enemy of civilization when it believes that Shakespeare is great because he was English, rather than that England is great because it produced Shakespeare.”

It’s a difficult distinction to make because the two are deeply intertwined. However, Shakespeare is not a defense of England. England needs no defense. Would England be great without Shakespeare, or other distinguished artists? Maybe, maybe not, but that is not the point. Nationhood is not a competition, it’s a matter of natural law. Furthermore England exists without Shakespeare; but Shakespeare does not exist without England.

Later Christensen says, “If nationalist and humanist forms of regressive egalitarianism are equally false,…” creating an abstraction that is not only meaningless but false and dangerous. Globalism states that all non-elites everywhere are equal, except for some that are bad, and all elites everywhere are equal, and should rule the good non-elites benevolently and the bad non-elites harshly.

Nationalism isn’t “regressive”, unless you can prove to me otherwise, and it isn’t “egalitarian”. Nations exist, and nationalism tries to recognize this reality and improve on it. It sees that nations are coherent communities of people who are not equal as this term is used in revolutionary politics but are interdependent. Nationalism is hierarchical in a way neither communism nor capitalism is, but that’s a subject for a different day.

He continues with “then the allies of civilization must start our work from the bottom up.” His following list then details how nationalism may be harmful, but can also be harnessed to support “civilization”, which is the project of him and people like him.

I am just pleased as punch that my people, my community, my kin might be of some use to Mr. Christensen in his lofty endeavors. With Point 5 he tells us “Those who care about advancing and improving the state of their ethnocultural kin must accept 1. Nationalism or identitarianism which free-rides on the achievements of a few to excuse the failures of many will ultimately destroy the group.”

Here Christensen adopts- whether he realizes it or not- the German Romantic, or Nietzchean concept of the superman, who rises above the common by his dedication to truth and excellence. But nationalism and identitarianism don’t “free ride” on the achievements of the few, they make the achievements of the few possible.

The soil doesn’t “free ride” off the roots, nor the roots off the trunk and branches. The soils exists without the tree, but not vice versa. Bruce Charlton writes sometimes about how geniuses are produced, and treats it as a matter of group selection. Geniuses themselves often have poor survival- Newton was a never-married virgin- but they help the survival of their group, if it can produce them. Charlton thinks England was at one time capable of producing geniuses, but no longer.

Geniuses, like all other kinds of civilization, grow in some soil. Leftists believe this soil to be their governance. The desire of leftists to move Third World peoples to the West and North is not so much belief in “magic dirt” as Steve Sailer phrases it, but in “magic government”. Mainstream conservatives believe in something the call “culture”, which can also produce civilization simply by exposure.

Civilization however seems to me to be something substantially biological. If was a matter of wealth, well, lots of societies have been wealthy and not produced much in the way of civilization. If it was a matter of stable, enlightened governance, well, many societies have been stably and enlightenedly governed and not produced much in the way of civilization.

Governance- in the widest sense of government, but also encouraged tradition and encouraged religion- can produce optimum results from a nation, and since the quality of governance will vary over time, we will see from a nation with a long history what the biology can produce. The results are- China, impressive (excepting current manufactured goods), Japan, excellent to outstanding, the rest of Asia, nothing much, the Americas, nothing not European, Africa, nothing, Europe, the peak of human accomplishment.

Christensen concludes with-“The ethnoculture does not make our heroes great; our heroes make our ethnoculture great. Anything which improves its ability to shape better people should be embraced. The day it stops doing so is the day it deserves its place in the graveyard of history.”

Again, the ethnoculture does not make its heroes great, it makes them possible. Heroes don’t, and can’t possibly, make an ethnoculture great because you can’t make something great on which your existence is predicated. You do not grace or bless it, it graces and blesses you. Nor does it shape them, it produces them. “Shape” implies the molding of something preexisting.

Christensen makes the existence of my ethnoculture contingent on producing something he approves of. William Munny said “Deserves gots nothin’ to do with it” but in any case I deny any judgment on whether my ethnoculture deserves to die or should be destroyed.

Putting “civilization” ahead of the people is putting the cart before the horse, except the people aren’t a horse.

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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 Map Is Not the Territory; Or, The Strange World of Reality

  1. Ryu says:

    One ought not to discard impressions so easily. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied, Thrashy.

    There are many systems of self-consistent mathematical logic. The universe has its own rules and its own logic. It may not match the logic of Kant or Aristotle. One learns them through experience.

    Animals, insects, and bacteria have lived for millions of years…and survived…quite happily without our human “logic.”

  2. Hizzle says:

    I think you won this one, although all of my leftist professors taught me that debate isn’t about winning, which I guess is the liberal version of the line you quote from “Unforgiven.”

  3. Toddy Cat says:

    I think that the reason that NRx is so confused and ambivalent about Nationalism is that it’s founder Curtis Yarvin (aka “Mencius Moldbug”) was confused and ambivalent about it himself, especially in it’s more extreme forms. For example, in many of his writings, Moldbug was surprisingly complimentary with regard to extreme nationalism, he regarded it as a genuine right-wing movement (no “liberal fascism” for him – sorry, Goldberg!) and he regarded it as a justified reaction to Leftist aggression, regardless of its crimes and excesses committed under the duress of war. But Moldbug was (is?) also a half-Jewish San Francisco intellectual with a visceral dislike and fear of mass movements, especially those not guided by an “elite”. So while his reading of the problem was highly accurate and useful, his solution (“Patchwork”) is essentially anarcho-Capitalism with a territorial component, making it slightly less absurd, but still totally unworkable.

    In short, IMHO, Moldbug was an extremely expert diagnostician with regard to our societal ills, but he could never, for personal reasons, reconcile himself to the fact that some sort of right-wing populist nationalist movement was the only real solution that had any chance of breaking us out of the death spiral that we find ourselves in, regardless of what the ultimate solution might be. He diagnosed cancer in Western Civilization, then recommended a course of treatment involving quack medicine, and he was smart enough to see this. For all I know, that’s why he quit blogging.

  4. nickbsteves says:

    The importance that you, Thrasymachus, and Mark Christensen respectively attach to feelings of national or ethnic belonging for a well-ordered society probably differ by a little. Surely the truth lies somewhere between propositions A) they are of no importance (which clearly Christensen is not saying) and B) they are the only thing that is important (which would be retarded). That you interpret this small difference of emphasis as some sort of elitist hostility to working class people is unfortunate. I’m certain none is intended. Good government is good for the working class, irrespective of one’s recipe for good government. There is always an elite, and never an elite quite so powerful as when “public opinion” is curated by them. Today, I think we can agree that that elite is hostile to its own people (nation). But this is not a natural situation. And it is not good government.

    I object to the word “nationalism” because of the “-ism”, not because of the “national”. The “-ism” implies a totalizing ideology, which one does not need to explain, justify, or enforce national feeling and loyalty. National feeling and loyalty is a good thing. Totalizing ideologies are not.

    • Toddy Cat says:

      Since all totalizing ideologies end up destroying the cultures and peoples that adopt them, I’m sure that most people who call themselves “Nationalists” would reject any such interpretation of their philosophy, and to most of us, I don’t think that the “-ism” implies a totalitarian philosophy. Since I and Thrasy are both Christians, I know that we both certainly would reject any such thing. Probably we’re just dealing with semantics here, but it does seem that there is a difference in substance as well, insofar as NRx is an explicitly elitist movement that embraces a passivist strategy, while NRx is more demotic and activist. We have the same enemies, however, and they are deadly indeed. Details can wait.

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  6. Toddy Cat says:

    Good point, I look forward to reading this. By the way, I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth, but I know that you’re a Christian, and by definition, Christians can’t be political totalitarians – that’s idolatry, obviously.

    • nickbsteves says:

      You lost me at “by definition, Christians”. Not being facetious. There are so many definitions that the descriptions is practically meaningless. The simplest most objective definition of Christian is “one who is baptized”. By that definition, “Christians” can fall for all sorts of stupid, idolatrous stuff.

  7. Mark Christensen says:

    An ethnoculture is exactly as you describe, the structure which allows individuals in a society to live and cooperate and develop. Because human kinds differ, the structures which make them flourish differ. What works for Singapore doesn’t work in Nigeria doesn’t work in Stockholm. I think we agree on this point. My stance on how responsible an ethnoculture is for producing heroes isn’t as negative as this response presents it, so I’ll state it more clearly here: the chief reason ethnocultures matter is because, like this response says, ethnocultures are to heroes as gardens are to roses. So we don’t differ particularly on that

    All these ethnocultures exist under judgement of Nature or its Maker. I assume the extinct Tasmanian aboriginals and the British colonials who settled those lands both had their natural attachments to their kith and kin, but that will have to be an assumption because one of them got rather brutally selected against when they encountered each other. I want to avoid a similar fate for my own thede, ergo I want an ethnoculture which produces the sort of individuals which achieve great things. When I refer to Shakespeare it’s in a far more cyclical sense than my phrasing let on (my bad). England produces Shakespeare, but it’s the work of Shakespeare and other great men which in turn keep that ethnoculture healthy. The tree can’t exist without the soil, but the soil needs the tree’s compost.

    Yes, as a dreadful elitist, my original post had a particular audience in mind: Western (more precisely, Anglosphere) brahmins. If there is a Western Civ 2116, it will exist because the modes of thought necessary to achieve it were reintroduced to at least some portion of the culture-making class. Problem is, white brahmins seem to generally be the very whitest of whites when it comes to tribalism. Europe’s biological population is markedly less ethnocentric, less tribally motivated, and more abstract and idealistic in both social norms and morality than any other. England is the most hardcore in that respect. Even the very best of colonial British snobbery never approached the clannishness of the Pashtun. But England also ruled an Empire on which The Sun Never Set. Ergo, the tendency has strengths (freer cooperation, higher social trust, makes it easier for high ability people to work together) as well as failure modes (principle failure mode being lack of safeguards against entryism by other groups).

    Our ethnoculture as it exists now has been hacked, the most obvious manifestation being the refusal to apply tribal lenses to Rotherham, Cologne, etc despite the explicit tribalism of the barbarian perpetrators. So to whatever extent we care about our ethnoculture, it’s going to have to undergo repairs. The collective ethnoculture as it exists in the reborn West will be one in which the current structural failures have been selected against by the sheer fact that it was able to create said rebirth.

    And so, my hypothesis: if ethnoculture is important (and it is), and if we want to awaken those in a position to reintroduce that fact as a thought-and-culture forming principle (and I think we ought to), then we need to make clear the link between our ethnoculture and our historical achievements, abstract as they might be, because brahmins – beyond any other class of whites – will not simply step up to defend and rebuild Western ethnoculture because it is “theirs”.

  8. Jerry says:

    Bruce Charlton writes sometimes about how geniuses are produced, and treats it as a matter of group selection. Geniuses themselves often have poor survival- Newton was a never-married virgin- but they help the survival of their group, if it can produce them. Charlton thinks England was at one time capable of producing geniuses, but no longer.

    If geniuses are dying as virgins like Newton did, then you’re not going to have geniuses for long. If England had geniuses in the past and now no longer does, it would be because the geniuses in the past died as virgins like Newton or reproduced at lower rates than other Englishmen.

    • nickbsteves says:

      Not at all true. A society that had rising mean intelligence would continue to produce geniuses, even if every one of the geniuses was carted off to a monastery to do Genius Work and died childless. Focussing on genius reproduction is a non-starter. There are not enough of them to change the society-wide statistics either way. What a society needs is the above average to have more children, and the below average to have fewer. The genius stats will take care of themselves. Not that you’d legislate that way. It arises naturally from appropriate common sense customs regarding marriage and procreation.

      The other side of the coin is that we are probably not putting the geniuses we actually do have to any good use.

      • Charlton defines genius as something more than a person of high intelligence, and I think this is correct. High intelligence is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for genius. China has produced lots of high IQ people but few if any geniuses as far as I can tell. England used to have geniuses but doesn’t any more. Producing more high IQ children is highly desirable but does not solve the genius problem.

        High IQ upper middle-class children seem to grow up in an environment of crushing intellectual conformity focused entirely on elite university admissions. The little sparks of genius I have come across in my life seem to come from people without college educations.

      • Jerry says:

        Rising mean intelligence would imply that people above average reproduce at higher rates than those below average. Assuming that people like Newton and others we’re calling geniuses are above average, geniuses would be a subset of the part of the population, the people above average, reproducing at higher rates overall.

      • Jerry says:

        If high intelligence is a necessary condition for genius, then falling mean intelligence would result in fewer geniuses. And if geniuses themselves are reproducing at lower rates than the average person, then there would be fewer geniuses.

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