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Quite obviously, no doesn’t always mean no.

Take this excerpt from my favourite movie, The Empire Strikes Back:

Han Solo: Hey, Your Worship, I’m only trying to help.
Princess Leia: Would you please stop calling me that?
Han Solo: Sure, Leia.
Princess Leia: You make it so difficult sometimes.
Han Solo: I do, I really do. You could be a little nicer, though. Come on, admit it. Sometimes you think I’m all right.
Princess Leia: Occasionally, maybe… when you aren’t acting like a scoundrel.
Han Solo: Scoundrel? Scoundrel? I like the sound of that. [Han starts to massage Leia's hand]
Princess Leia: Stop that.
Han Solo: Stop what?
Princess Leia: [timidly] Stop that. My hands are dirty.
Han Solo: My hands are dirty, too. What are you afraid of?
Princess Leia: Afraid?
Han Solo: You’re trembling.
Princess Leia: I’m not trembling. [Han moves in closer]
Han Solo: You like me because I’m a scoundrel. There aren’t enough scoundrels in your life.
Princess Leia: I happen to like nice men.
Han Solo: I’m nice men.
Princess Leia: No, you’re not. You’re… [they kiss]

The only excuse for not having seen this scene is being very young. If you really can’t be bothered to watch the original Star Wars movies, at least go to YouTube and find this scene.

Clearly, Leia wanted Han not to stop. She wanted him to be assertive. No meant yes.

Now take this infamous excerpt from my favorite novel, “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand:

She fought like an animal. But she made no sound. She did not call for help. She heard the echoes of her blows in a gasp of his breath, and she knew that it was a gasp of pleasure. She reached for the lamp on the dressing table. He knocked the lamp out of her hand. The crystal burst to pieces in the darkness.

[...]

It was an act that could be performed in tenderness, as a seal of love, or in contempt, as a symbol of humiliation and conquest. It could be the act of a lover or the act of a soldier violating an enemy woman. He did it as an act of scorn. Not as love, but as defilement. And this made her lie still and submit. One gesture of tenderness from him–and she would have remained cold, untouched by the thing done to her body. But the act of a master taking shameful, contemptuous possession of her was the kind of rapture she had wanted. Then she felt him shaking with the agony of a pleasure unbearable even to him, she knew that she had given that to him, that it came from her, from her body, and she bit her lips and she knew what he had wanted her to know.

[...]

They had been united in an understanding beyond the violence, beyond the deliberate obscenity of his action; had she meant less to him, he would not have taken her as he did; had he meant less to her, she would not have fought so desperately. The unrepeatable exultation was in knowing that they both understood this.

She fought Roark because she wanted it. Rand later claimed if this was rape, it was rape by “engraved invitation”, because Dominique did indeed “ask for it”.

Another example is Margaret Mitchell’s novel “Gone with the Wind”. Here, Scarlett, who has no eyes for her suitor Rhett, finally feels love for him after he violently drags her up the stairs. You can have a look at the relevant passages here.

Both novels were written by women. Indeed it’s very easy to find novels with a distinctly D/s theme that have female authorship, so Occam’s razor demands assuming also a sizable female audience even if rumors about this cliche alone don’t convince you. The same goes for short stories on the internet, and, of course, the bdsm porn industry.

So what does “no means no” actually mean? Does it mean that a woman, who says no, means no, or does it mean that you should take it to mean no even if she means yes. In other words, did Leia or Dominique wanted their suitors to stop, or should those have stopped in any case?

The first meaning is the literal one and is a descriptive statement. The second one is prescriptive; it tells us what to do.

You might think that this is irrelevant nit-picking, but I don’t think so – and here is why. Today, you have to be quite out of touch with the developments of modern technology to live under the delusion that no actually always means no in the descriptive sense. We covered this.

So when today you are told that “no means no” you could argue that it has to take the prescriptive meaning, as clearly the other one is absurd. From the perspective of finding a code of conduct, the prescription doesn’t sound too bad. Since one can’t know for sure what anybody really wants one should act only on consent they give explicitly.

However, the times have changed. When my sexuality was awakening and I began to ponder the fundamental questions about sexual dynamics, there was no internet. But there was, among other things, the mantra that “no means no” that everybody was convinced was true. And I didn’t take it to have a prescriptive meaning, even though I understood there to be a prescriptive corollary. I took it literally. I actually believed that women don’t want their resistance to be overcome. In other words, I believed Han’s masculine assertiveness being desired by women to be unrealistic.

There were also, frequently, stories about rape and sexual molestation in the media being under discussion. The suspicion that the woman might have invited the transgression was considered a tool of sexism. The problem that is so obvious today, that both men and women enjoy dynamics that can be hard to tell from abuse, was wiped off society’s radar.

So, when I think back to my childhood “sexual education”, I can’t help thinking that I have been lied to. Indoctrinated. “No means no” can, and often will have been, when stated unqualified, taken to be a description of female sexuality, rather than a code of conduct. And as such it’s blatantly wrong.

The feminist sex-education by my parents and my government-funded teachers was wrong, I should rather have believed Star Wars.

Obviously this matters. A code of conduct can always be negotiated, and its importance is clear even to a young child. If both men and women desire the “chase”, clear rules can ensure that such chases can be indulged under a framework that balances risks for both genders. But if women don’t ever desire the “chase”, there is no need for a discussion. Every assertive man is then a bully or worse.

Furthermore, I’ve been largely raised by women. The men were, as far as I can tell, not particularly masculine and in hindsight probably not particularly active in forming the narratives under which my views on sexuality formed – as well as the rest of my world-view. They merely went along.

What kind of a woman tells young men in their care something that will impair their sexuality? Things that they know to be wrong, first handed? Things that are likely to be contradicted by the pornographic literature they themselves consume, as is today visible to everyone, when they are not busy lying to those they pretend to care for?

This applies to mothers, other family members serving as role models, teachers, and the adult generation of that time in general. It’s an important question because society is often thought of under collectivist premises. This is called the social contract: The older generation teaches the young generation skills and values, “how life works”, and for that the new generation honors the older generation, and provides for them in their age.

Since most people are too dumb to understand why social contract theory is nonsensical, it’s sometimes beneficial to just assume this irrational framework and ask:

How does hypocrisy fit into this scheme?

In particular, what does a generation owe to another when they have been told not “how life works”, but lies that make them become sexually frustrated “nice guys” wondering why women often reward a guy that didn’t take no for an answer. Didn’t no mean no?

And of course the lies about sexuality are only the tip of the ice berg. In order to become a man as confident as Han Solo or Howard Roark (in other words, in order to become a man at all) one needs much more. Liberal indoctrination doesn’t help here, as you can easily see by looking at all the effeminate neurotics today, especially in the US and the UK, and compare them to their Christians ancestors. People who traveled across the Atlantic towards an uncertain future, to homestead in an unknown country. All that without any college education or social security. Real men.

Compared to the modern progressive mainstream, many of those Christians were sane and honest. Their God might not exist, but sexually, their only lie is that this God wants you to wait until marriage and be monogamous. The abuse-dramatizing, progressive generation of baby-boomers deceive under the guise of being “sensitive”, “educated” and full of “love”, whereas in fact they are merely anti-masculinity and anti-capitalism in a way Christian societies had not predominantly been since the Protestant Reformation. I’m pretty sure that historically for many progressives, this was their problem with Christians to begin with.

The woman desiring to be dominated and not advertising the fact is as innocent as it gets. But if such women became mothers (or educators) who, in the internetless 70ties, 80ties and 90ties, claimed “no means no”, which they knew to be a lie, and jeopardized the sexual health of their child for the benefit of potential rape victims (and their own self-flattery), they did that in the same way that some Islamic parents employ female genital mutilation to trade the sexual health of their daughters for the benefit of Allah. The relative absurdity of the delusion in question does not affect the scope of their betrayal. Parents should be on the side of their children – for their own, selfish benefit: The saved potential rape victim will thank them as little as the Muslim’s fictional deity, but the love and resentment of their offspring is going to be proportional to their loyalty and treachery.

I have argued for objective morality by comparing life to Super Mario in my last post (which is not prerequisite read for this one). However, a better analogy might be a massive-multiplayer game. Obviously there are other players. Or maybe those are NPCs?

It’s a side issue that I will leave to the reader’s idle contemplation. We will call those intelligent actors “other players” – that some of them might show themselves to be akin to Ms Toadstool or Browser’s minions from your perspective shouldn’t confuse us.

So life’s like a game and you need to figure out what it is about. Let’s take two life models:

  1. You go for pleasure. You earn as much money as you have to with unskilled labor to pursue your interests. You learn to become a pick up artist and your sex live is adventurous. You’re not likely to have a family.
  2. You go for a career. You learn a trade and sacrifice many pleasures that your peers will enjoy in the hope it will be rewarding. You become more wealthy and will have a family.

I hope I managed to paint those models in a way that makes it hard for you to choose which you’d rather be. Which is the goal is more desirable objectively?

Of course I don’t believe those are the only options and it’s also obvious that it will depend on many factors unique to the specific options and hazards that present themselves in your life. But the question serves well to establish that the question is not trivial. The game of life is certainly more complex and diverse than Super Mario.

To find positive goals is difficult. It’s much more easy to find examples for things to avoid. As with video games, it is a good idea to start by staying alive and learning as much as one can – maybe the rest presents itself later. So let’s start by looking at what to watch out for: Browser’s minions.

The real life’s Browser’s minions come in two shapes: Human and non-human. The non-human ones are things like illnesses and accidents. I have little to contribute on the identification of those. I largely consider common knowledge on those as high-quality.

The human-caused threats (aka “evil”), however, are another matter. You heard of criminals, but I’m afraid that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Consider my own story: I was raised in a liberal (read: Communist) German household. Lot’s of people in my family are public service workers, especially teachers. The general view of the world I grew up with was: Money and power is the same thing and both corrupt people who used to have good intentions, authority is bad, scientific and technological progress is really scary, but political progress is really wonderful (the Scandinavians are “ahead” of us). And, of course, men were generally bad in the past and will be kind of obsolete in the future. Obviously, as a man, you can in part redeem yourself by being enlightened and swearing off your wicked ways of sexual exploitation and careerist ambitions. This narrative was both explicit and implicit. It has lost popularity, but even today you still find many articles in German magazines that, in part gloating, in part genuinely concerned, picture the male gender as a useless leftover from the past.

I swallowed a lot of that pill, but I didn’t swallow it all. To the extent that I did buy it, it crippled me. I believed to have an inherently evil side and that only by “overcoming” some of my own desires, I could be good. In particular, the part I believed to be evil, covered all of my sexuality.

That’s one important observation:

A lot of ideas out there are not good for you. You might even be surrounded by them and be led to believe there’s a universal consensus about them.

Where do these ideas come from? Or more importantly, why do those ideas form fads that make parts of a young generation be completely immersed in them?

If you believe that all players of our game are innocent truth-seekers, that’s quite a conundrum. A less naive investigator might take the motive of people’s choices of ideas to believe in into account.

If, for example, you take a man who has believed above narrative until he’s well over 40, then it’s easy to see how his self-esteem might be attached to this illusion. He might defend those ideas simply because he rather lives with a lie than admits to be a joke. Note how this is probably sub-conscious:

They lie to themselves first. They are deluded.

(Small detour for Objectivists: Since I suggested in my last post to merely explain Objectivism 101 – although with my own words and eccentric approach – I should admit here that I’m not certain if such motive was actually one of the things Rand considered or even strongly believed in. She did speak of a generic motive of being anti-life. While I think that this often works as an approximation, I personally think a much more practical, although not more complicated, theory is to assume the motive to be self-flattery. I think this explains the various flavors of delusions better and it is also a much more plausible motive in and by itself. If you’ve read the Selfish Gene -it’s easy to see how genes for self-flattery have an evolutionary advantage under many circumstances. Being outright pro-death could be interpreted as an extreme case of self-flattery: If I have to die or live miserably, at least I’m going to believe that dying or living miserably is either a good thing, or least inevitable.)

That explains why such ideas come and stay. It’s easy to imagine how the first women (and men) being hurt by, or envious of, successful, dominant males liked to believe that there could be a better world, ruled by more sensitive spirits. From that, it’s a shorter path to a feminist culture than one might think.

Consider the following quote:

THE scenes of this story, as its title indicates, lie among a race hitherto ignored by the associations of polite and refined society; an exotic race, whose ancestors, born beneath a tropic sun, brought with them, and perpetuated to their descendants, a character so essentially unlike the hard and dominant Anglo-Saxon race, as for many years to have won from it only misunderstanding and contempt.
But another and better day is dawning; every influence of literature, of poetry, and of art, in our times, is becoming more and more in unison with the great master chord of Christianity, “good-will to man.”

Care to guess which race is so unlike the hard and dominant Anglo-Saxon race?

Brace yourself: it’s who used to be called the Negroes and the quote is the first paragraph of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s preface to her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

You might be puzzled about this characterization. The times have changed a bit – in her time, Anglo-Saxons where not the effeminate whiners they are now. They were masculine. They were bad-ass. And, in her book, being bad-ass was bad indeed.

People of color, on the other hand – I should qualify: the ones she knew – were compliant. They were, after all, mostly slaves. In her mind, it was a character trait of the race rather than an effect of slavery. She sympathized with them not because they were slaves but because they were meek. Doesn’t that sound familiar? She didn’t want them to become citizens of the US alongside with those brutish Anglo-Saxons. Her vision was to sent them back to Africa where they were to be founding “Christian Colonies”:

When an enlightened and Christianized community shall have, on the shores of Africa, laws, language, and literature, drawn from among us, may then the scenes from the house of bondage be to them like the remembrance of Egypt to the Israelite,—a motive of thankfulness to Him who hath redeemed them!

Given the actual history we can safely say that someone was very deluded indeed.

The book is by some considered to be one of the main causes for the American Civil War. Lincoln allegedly said about Beecher Stove: “So this is the little lady who started this great war.”

You might be willing to turn a blind eye on the quirks of an intellectual who was instrumental in such a good cause such as the abolition of slavery, but I would advise you to reconsider.

Riddle me this: Over 150 years ago, in a time were allegedly female values counted for nothing and women were property, little more than birth machines and expendable pleasures to men, a woman wrote a novel with the underlying narrative that is very similar to the one of modern leftists: The white man is bad, the black man is good (by nature!). Masculinity is bad, femininity is good. Money is bad, charity is good. And, instead of being ignored and laughed at (or even cracked down on), she became instrumental for a change in the Zeitgeist that lead to the American Civil War.

Don’t you think that it is possible to argue against slavery without being a leftist? Do we really have to decide being a self-loathing whiner and being a supporter of slavery? Why didn’t she say this:

When market forces unfettered and unhindered by the the shackles of slavery, and fueled by the true, strong spirit of those now doomed to effeminate obedience and weakness, will lead the world to the true, Christian destiny, the Anglo-Saxon race shall look back in shame of having subdued their betters in such unjust a way.

The answer is obvious: Leftists don’t talk like that.

But I brought this example up to make a different point:

Delusions can be grand, both in scope and in time. They can span many generations and billions of people.

And there’s another interesting lead: The abolition of slavery sounds nice. Feminine values sound nice.

In fact you might have noticed in your personal dealings with other people that those who pay lip service to things that sound nice in the sense that they benefit not just themselves or their immediate associates but others, especially those that are needy, often tend to be those most ill-equipped to benefit anyone in any objective way.

Consider the case of feminism: With the exclusion of feminist opinion makers (who are largely employed at educational institutions or media people), would you think that the most radical feminists are usually those women who strive for careers in the economy? I would say that you find them more among students, and especially among students of subjects of unusually questionable relevance.

And if one looks at political programs, one finds that most of them sound nice, even though when implemented, they often spell disaster. In fact one of the nicest-sounding programs was exactly the program under which much of the world vanished behind an iron curtain.

Look at the following examples of political agenda: Abolition of slavery, Equality for women, Feeding the poor, Universal health care.

None of these is anything anybody would really argue against as stated. You might believe that not all of those examples are actually what they profess to be. But assuming they are, wouldn’t we all like those goals?

That leads to another hint:

Delusions have a tendency to sound nice. Those are the do-gooder delusions.

My own life experience as let me to believe that almost all of those that

  1. declare goals that don’t primarily benefit themselves or immediate associates and
  2. easily get touchy about insinuating ulterior motives

are likely to be deluded. Compare that to the reaction by someone who professes selfishness in pursuing a medical profession: He may also be dishonest, but on questioning his motives, he won’t be offended. He may try to dodge or rationalize, but as a rule you don’t receive an emotionally indignant response: They consciously know it’s true, while the deluded only sub-consciously suspects it.

That’s because in the case of the do-gooder, his self-esteem is tied to the delusion: Should the delusion’s falsehood be realized by a majority, he is left with nothing (he probably hasn’t learnt much). But if most people come to accept that a medical professional pursues his career for his own sake, he still has his skills and so his career. (Such a former do-gooder is often called “disillusioned”.)

The doctor’s example leads to another interesting class of delusions I like to call the professional delusions. I’m an IT guy with about ten years of experience in software development with different languages and platforms. Although I do believe that IT attracts abstract thinkers, many small-scale delusions are (now) very obvious to me. If you ever witnessed the flame wars erupting over what is the best language ever or the even more ridiculous fights over Microsoft vs Linux, you are quickly reminded of the fighting between religious cults.

What is the reason for that? Our theory of self-flattery provides a simple answer: If you’ve learned a certain language and platform you’ve made an investment. You want that investment to pay off. If your language and platform appears to get out of fashion (maybe because its sponsors have changed their strategy or maybe because something much better came along) you won’t like that. The value of the language or tool set is your value. You will feel a desire to defend it even though your defense is, of course, not actually at all useful to you in any objective way. It is an irrational response.

Rand called this phenomenon mysticism, and I’m ashamed to admit that I can back up my theory with empirical evidence gained by introspection. If you can, by looking at your past, confirm this for yourself, this leads to my last observation for this post:

There’s a Browser’s minion in you.

And that’s the only one you can, with reason, have control over. That’s the first and most dangerous one you will have to identify and destroy – for your sake.

Although many people are influenced by Rand, there’s few who take her actual philosophy seriously. Among those who are trying to defend it there are many who don’t get it, thereby defending it badly.

So even people who are pretty smart, have to some extent argued with self-identified Objectivists and maybe even read one of her novels often think that O’ism is some kind of joke and argue how morality can’t be objective. I have encountered especially geeks with a background in something technical like programming who fall in that pattern. I’m a mathematician and IT professional myself.

If you’re in this group and so far you’ve heard only circular reasoning and unwarranted assumptions, please read on. This article might be for you. I have a different approach to explaining the whole thing and this article might clear up one the most elusive points: objective morality.

First we have to define our words precisely. That’s always necessary to get things cleared. But language doesn’t exist because words got explicitly defined. Languages evolved by implicit agreement about the meaning of words. There are some words that mean several things in various different contexts, those are called homonyms. But by and large words map to concepts that can be described precisely enough to explain the meaning without referring to the word itself. That’s a definition. While a definition often shifts, restricts or broadens the meaning of a word, we should generally try to preserve the meaning as implied by its usage. Otherwise, a neologism might be a better option.

Here’s how I define morality: “Moral is what you ought to do.”

Hmm. You’re skeptical. You think this is cyclical. Or useless. I assume that you will at least agree that this is an equivalent way of putting morality. After all, it fits common usage. “You ought not kill!” and “Killing is immoral!” are certainly equivalent. So are “You ought to think of others!” and “Thinking of others is moral!”. But so far, it’s just shifting the problem. What is it that you ought to do?

Let’s look at an analogy, the video game. Video games are an excellent metaphor for life. You have a goal, which is what you ought to achieve. There are foes and threats that you ought to overcome.

What those are is usually pretty objective, don’t you think? Have you ever heard anyone debating about whether Mario really should rescue Princess Toadstool? That he should rather jump into an abyss? There is no argument, because the “reality” of Super Mario follows objective rules.

Now there’s no Princess Toadstool to rescue in the reality that you and I live in. You can certainly find an abyss to jump into. Do you feel that this is something you ought to do?

I think not. The inner voice in you warning you against such foolishness is called survival instinct. It’s purpose is to tell you what you ought not to do. You might object to that. You might say there’s no objective meaning to anything in that inner voice is wrong. I’m usually tempted at this point in a debate with subjectives to have them find an abyss.

But let me use another analogy.

We are life forms. Imagine a more primitive life form. A rabbit, for example. Would you agree that a rabbit should try to avoid predators? That it ought to do that? If so, that’s your objective morality for a rabbit. It should survive as long as possible and produce as many little rabbits as possible. That’s the point of a rabbit. Like overcoming all obstacles, defeating Browser and rescuing Princess Toadstool is the point of Super Mario. And it’s pretty damn objective. No one is arguing what the rabbit has to do. Everyone agrees. It would appear even the rabbit agrees although maybe that’s just projection.

I hear you object at this point. Vehemently. You say that this isn’t the same thing. The analogy is invalid. But is it?

I bet it’s because of this word “ought”. You think it means something else when applied to human beings than when applied to animals or avatars. You think it’s a homonym. A trick. And here’s why:

When you say “The rabbit ought to procreate.” you mean it’s good for the rabbit as a life form if he would. You’re describing his purpose. Like a scientist.

When you say “You ought to think of others.” you mean it would be nice for you or somebody else if the person in question did. You’re prescribing behavior. Like a tyrant.

I really seems to be a homonym, doesn’t it?

But it gets even more weird. When you say “If you really want that job you better ought to make an effort!”, you’re not the tyrant but again the scientist. You’re giving advice. Even though you’re now talking to a human being. So those two meanings of “ought” are around even when we talk about the real deal, man in reality.

I think that’s really bad language design. It’s annoying enough that there are words like “red” that can mean the past tense of “read” as well as a color, but at least context usually makes it clear what is what. In the case of “ought” it can be really confusing.

For example, which of the two meanings of “ought” does a gangster mean when he says “You ought to give me your wallet.”, while waving a knife around?

Does he advise you to give the wallet up? As in, it might be bad for you health if you don’t? Or does he prescribe you to do it? As in, it would make him happy if you do?

Too obvious? Ok, how about this one: What is meant when they say people ought to pay their taxes? Are they giving a friendly warning about the nasty consequences of legal persecution or are they wishing for them to pay their fair share, so that wonderful things like schools can be funded?

Still too obvious? What do parents mean when they tell their children that they ought to do their homework? Are they advising their children about the important causality chain between making homework and a better future, or do they just mean if the homework doesn’t get done, they would get really angry.

Isn’t that really weird? English appears to be a language in which “I want you to do X.” and “Doing X is in your interest.” can, and usually is, expressed with the same words. In fact there seems to be a very blurry continuum from people just not caring which they mean to obviously malevolent mafia-talk.

I doubt that English is unique in that property. In fact I fear that there is a purpose behind it: People like that blurry continuum. They don’t really want to think too precisely about whether it’s good for their children or good for themselves. Whether it’s good for the tax payer or good for the tax receiver. Even ordinary criminals sometimes genuinely seem to believe that informing their victims about the benefits of compliance constitute an honest warning, as if the threat came from a third party.

If we want to clear things up, we would need to map the word morality to only one of those “oughts”.

If you are one of those who believe that “morality isn’t objective”, you’re likely to believe that it should be the “tyrant-ought”. And I agree, that one isn’t objective: What I want a young attractive lady to do and what her father wants her to do are certainly different things. There appears to be great subjectivity here.

But my objection to your choice would be: Seriously? Morality is defined at what a person X wants a person Y to do, and as such depends on X subjective wishes? That is clearly a very useless definition, and it doesn’t really fit common usage either. Yet I’d be surprised if it wasn’t your choice assuming your belief in subjective morality.

But maybe you didn’t believe in subjective morality. Maybe you’re a Christian and think objective morality exists and comes through the bible from God.

Note how suspiciously close those two “oughts” then become: To obey God’s rules is in your interest. You want to go to heaven. God’s rules seem to be an objective fact of reality, just like the gangster’s demand. On the other hand, God really tells you to obey and threatens you with hellfire, like the gangster’s knife threatens your health.

What’s going on here? We have elevated our “gangster” away from the level of an equal actor. “God” is outside our judgement. We don’t ask the question whether God’s is a criminal or not (at least not when we’re Christian). He’s good by definition. But his threat, the gangster’s knife, remains. Morality becomes objective because there’s only one party who does the prescribing, namely God.

There’s a secular equivalent. If you replace “God” with “society”, the same argument holds. If, for example, a tax payer calls the state a looting parasite, he has a hard time defending himself. This is because people assume that the state represents their society and society is good by definition. That’s why states can in fact commit one horror after the next, and never anyone really blames them.

Where a Christian would say “The lord gives and the lord takes, blessed be the name of the lord.” to avoid locating responsibility, some secularists would say “What have we done?” – “we” meaning “anybody”. You, I, all of us have committed all those atrocities that a particular state (our society) have committed, and thus really no one in particular.

Here in Germany, defectors from the Nazi regime are still legally guilty for having defected. That’s not because anyone sympathizes with Hitler. But a substantial number of people don’t think that a failure of leadership justifies defection. (This attitude is eroding, but it’s still visible.)

In fact this is just a general pattern of authority: When you’re in a position of power and want to order your “subjects” (and be that your children), you just establish rules and want them followed. You don’t get into philosophical debates about the two “oughts”. You demand the homework made – compliance satisfies you and is, in your opinion, in the interest of your children. The two “oughts” are, for all that you care about, the same. In this capacity you are a moral authority.

But why do moral authorities resort to Orwellian language?

The parent could, after all, just say “I want you to do your homework, because I believe it’s good for you. Do it or you’ll make you.”

And the citizen could say:  ”I want the rich be forced to pay more because I want the state to have more money. I believe it’s ultimately good for the rich too.”

And the gangster could say: “I want your wallet. Give it to me or I’ll stab you.”

That’s better, isn’t it? Observe how the gangster will find nothing to excuse his threat with while the parent’s remark looks completely acceptable. That’s because of this following unspoken rule:

Clear language harms tricksters. Fuzzy language benefits tricksters.

We don’t like tricksters and we want to know what we’re talking about, ergo we want clear language.

I’m afraid God doesn’t exist. And I’m afraid society isn’t a moral authority in any sensible way or form. States, the things that are supposed to represent it, are organizations pretty much like companies and foundations are. They are usually presided over by people who are elected by a majority of the electorate in complicated procedures. Most people agree that those who preside over those states, the politicians, are not exactly role models. People still want society be a moral authority, but they usually see that there’s no organization that can live up to that promise in practice.

That’s because the idea is nonsensical to begin with, and you can see it with reductio ad absurdum: Reduce society to the small settlement Seasonville with a number of farmers. A minority of them are afraid of the winter and work hard to save. Then winter comes and there isn’t enough for everyone. A party “People’s front for a prosperous Seasonville.” forms. They get elected into power and start redistributing. They call it “social justice” – after all, everybody has a right to eat, right?

You might object to my analogy: “What are they supposed to do?” you ask. “Are they supposed to starve?”

Well, I could argue that maybe they are supposed to say: “Gee, we really made one mistake here. Maybe those ambitious people are better than us. Let’s ask them whether they give us a credit we can pay back later after we’ve learned something from their superior values. Maybe we should accept them as moral authorities rather than deluding ourselves into believing that ‘society’ is one in any meaningful way.”

But let us not distract from the issue of this article. I was arguing that taking society as a moral authority is at least sometimes (I believe always) a pretext for parasitism and expropriation.

I made that argument about society to prepare you for a novel idea: It doesn’t make sense to map the word “morality” to the “tyrant-ought” or both “oughts”, because in both cases it’s a definition that is impractical – you don’t define and use your language in a way that benefits tricksters. You define it in a way that benefits you and your honest partners in communication. Anything else is suicidal.

If the word morality is mapped to the “scientist-ought”, the parent’s language is not impaired: “You ought to do your homework or else I get mad.” is perfectly legitimate. “You ought to give me your wallet or else I stab you.” is not. The parents don’t have to resort to lies in communicating with their children. They don’t need language to be fuzzy. It’s perfectly alright to just make children follow rules rather than trying to blurry the line between orders and advice.

So I have shown that this is the sensible way morality ought to be defined. (I’m presuming our goal is to have a practical language that allows communication between honest participants.)

And this is exactly the same way in which the rabbit ought to avoid predators and Mario ought to rescue Princess Toadstool. And it’s all objective.

In my experience, people freak out over this definition. They hate it. They don’t want it. But why?

I have a very gloomy conviction about a quite sinister and depressing motive. Let me explain this in the context of video games again:

Most people don’t know what the game is about and rather than trying to figure out what it is, they resort to the strategy of discouraging other players to give up as they did.

That makes sense as most of them operate under the illusion that the game is zero-sum: They think that when others win, they lose.

In other words, when I hear someone say “morality is subjective”, I think I deal with yet another flavor of a trickster (or an innocent but naive victim of one, parroting their tune, which sometimes can be difficult to discern).

Thus, to say “morality is objective”, especially in combination with “selfishness is moral” (remember, you play your own avatar), is a way of showing my honesty. I’m saying: Look, I’m not a trickster. I speak plain language. Now we can deal as free men, in honest trade on the market place of goods, services and ideas.

I have a theory that might tell someone who is not anti-Semitic about where Antisemitism comes from and convince someone who in fact is anti-Semitic that he might be barking up the wrong tree and why. I call it the PAMF setup.

There are two basic cliches about the Jews.

The first is that they are ideological arsonists. The greatest ideological arsonist, Karl Marx, was a Jew, at least in terms of heritage. There are some works I dare not to quote that claim that many ideologues who lobbied the dangerous ideas of the 20th century into popularity were Jews. Those also claim that many of the actors in the Bolshevik revolutions were Jews.

I don’t know whether this is really true, but let’s assume it is. It appears to be a cliche and cliches are usually true. Feminists might claim that men are less responsible. The truth is that they are willing to take risks – which really is the same thing.

Then there is Hollywood, which I consider to be full of arsonists. And full of Jews. Again, I haven’t done any original research, but I am willing to accept the cliche that there is a correlation between Jews and your usual suspects: Hollywood/progressives/liberals/Communists/etc.

However, that can be explained with the second cliche about Jews:

They are just pretty damn good at what their doing. In particular, they make careers. In Europe, they used to be professionals: Physicians, lawyers, scientists, writers, etc. Also bankers.

The most rewarding careers are just those fields that Jews traditionally went into. They didn’t necessarily go there because you can do most damage in them. It just happens so that those positions you can do most damage in are the most rewarding ones.

As a conservative, I believe in values. I believe that successful people usually have more or less successful offspring not because of genes or money, but because they pass their values on. This would explain why Jews are successful while being surrounded by, on average, less successful gentiles. They have better values.

This also could explain the Antisemitism. If you indentify with your gentile culture you will resent a more successful one that live in it. You will be drawn towards ideas that paint them as cheaters and parasites. It’s a consequence of tribalism.

It’s probably a very common explanation for both Hitler’s, the Muslim’s and the Leftist’s Antisemitism alike. In all cases, the folks have a “we”, a team badge: The race, the Umma and the people, respectively. And then there are some Jews who just won’t give up their identity. Worse even, they steal us our show, they put us to shame with how successful they are. We’re all one now. The only good people we tolerate or those with our team badge.

Then there is banking. Most people don’t like contracts in which they can be held accountable for their own idiocy and the most prominent case of such contracts is the loan. Since Jews have historically an unusually high activity in the profession of banking and money-lending, it’s obvious how that can translate into Antisemitism. I take it for granted that you are familiar with this connection – there probably wasn’t a single Jew hating intellectual who didn’t also hate usury - but on prominent example exploiting this theme is the Merchant of Venice, in which a Jew demands “a pound of flesh” from his Christian debtor.

But all this doesn’t explain why Jews should be arsonists. Maybe they aren’t and my explanation should end here. Clearly we already have enough explanatory power to be satisfied, at least if you believe that the cliches about Jewish leftism are exaggerated. But let’s say they are not. Can we explain them?

Let’s say you have a traditional, bourgeois family with a patriarch P, his wife M, their very promising son A and his brother F, who, although smart, really is a bit of a disappointment. He never gets anything done.

Let’s call this the PAMF setup.

P instinctively likes and prefers A. P’s love is conditional. F feels that and is alienated. He reacts with modest symptoms of rebellion. He no longer accepts his father’s guidance and seeks to aim his ambition in other directions. At first, that may be idle pleasures. He is still funded by his parents, which will lower his self-confidence even further. He will get into arguments with P.

If P’s power is absolute, F will eventually either be put in place or cast out of the family to live on his own, modest, means. He will “fall deep”. If that happens, we probably won’t hear from him again. But there’s another player, M.

M instinctively protects F. M’s love is unconditional. M has power over P in many ways. P needs M’s support and since being completely in charge is hard, he might want to have M an active role in the family’s decision-making. If that is their policy, it won’t be pick and chose. M will be able to shift the power balance in favor of F to some extent. Perhaps enough to ensure P’s ongoing financial support.

If that happens, you have what I call a free radical. F has not only financial support. He may already have benefited from an education. He’s potentially potent intellectually. Even if that potency can’t be channeled into impressing his father, it can still be enough to, for example, write the Communist manifest, or go out agitating for some leftist cell. That’s harder for people who either come from an unintellectual background (they lack the skills) or those who need to work for a living. Also, if any of those other two conditions are met, the resentment felt by F would be dramatically reduced: His alienation from, and dislike of, P, comes from the feeling of being useless and unwanted.

So a person who feels useless and unwanted with education and financial means has increased potential to become an intellectual arsonist. That makes sense to me.

If that is a general principle, then it would explain why Jews would have more potent intellectual arsonists than, say, the Amish. Or Muslims. Or Buddhists. Or in fact all the gentiles they lived and still live among.

It would also explain why America produces more intellectual arsonists than, say, modern Germany. And why early 20th-century Germany produced more arsonists than, say, early 20th-century France. Or late 18th century Britain… you get the idea.

Whenever there is a social milieu that has values to the end of being successful, it will also be proportionally responsible for producing said arsonists.

So when Hitler hated the Jews, he might have seen two things:

  • They made more money than the Germans (because they have superior values).
  • They are leftists who undermine good values (because of all the free radicals).

Modern-day anti-Semites might see similar symptoms. All conclude: There must be a Jewish conspiracy.

This conclusion rests on a purely cladistic view of memetics (the analysis of the movement of ideas in society over time and space). The idea is that, since Jews form a clade (they preserve their culture), it makes sense to view their actions and ambitions as related – in the same sense that the actions and ambitions of cells in a larger organism are related.

The cladistic view is important and useful. It certainly is one of the first things to explore in the understanding of sociology. But PAMF is an argument with an explanatory power that a purely cladistic view cannot have.

Consider, for example, On the Jewish Question:

What, in itself, was the basis of the Jewish religion? Practical need, egoism.

[...]

The chimerical nationality of the Jew is the nationality of the merchant, of the man of money in general.

The groundless law of the Jew is only a religious caricature of groundless morality and right in general, of the purely formal rites with which the world of self-interest surrounds itself.

Remember, Karl Marx was not an Objectivist. These sentences are supposed to describe a bad thing. Then again Marx is clearly in the Jewish clade, why would he attack himself? With PAMF, it makes sense. He’s attacking his heritage because they remind him of his inability to earn a proper living. They are an insult to his very existence.

But Marx is one person. Maybe you object to apply PAMF to larger groups and even whole social milieus, spanning millions of individuals, like Jews in general. Maybe you think that it will even itself out in some way.

I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that, but still, I would like to direct your attention to a mass application of PAMF the effects of which are relatively easily recognizable: Large groups of people who are financially dependent but not firmly controlled by those who they depend on. Examples: Youths, beneficiaries of welfare states (both in the West and in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia), Greece, Gaza.

Note that these are not necessarily poor groups, although some are. And yet it is exactly those groups that are “rebellious” to those they depend on. Of course rebellious is a weird word in this context. If, for example, Gaza would manage to “liberate” themselves from its evil dependency, they would all starve. They have nothing to offer in exchange for the basic necessities of life, professional victimhood and terrorism are their only industry.

Greece isn’t Gaza, obviously, but it’s fascinating to see whom the Greeks blame for their troubles: Germany, the major net tax payer in the EU. Guess who’s a net tax receiver.

Then take Occupy Wallstreet. Would their standard of living increase or decrease if they were “free”, ie. their subsidies in forms of college tuition and government jobs would cease? And what is the movement they hate the most? Taxed Enough Already.

Germany is as orderly as a Tea Party, Greece puts even Occupy to shame.

I’m pretty confident in claiming that the basic psychology here is the PAMF setup. We have compliant Ps (the tax payers of the West, the EU and Israel), we have ruling Ms (the whole Western cultural narrative is dominated by female values), and we have Fs ranging from complainers to murderous savages who depend on the Ps who are made to pay by Ms. The Ms’ dominance is purely intellectual and psychological – there is no force that could stop Ps to quit paying if they wanted to – or to start being assertive. (Being assertive is basically the neocon, to stop paying is the Ron-Paul libertarian.)

There are also As who are at best shamed and shunned, think young ambitious boys in public schools, or at worst just killed, as in Gaza.

I side with A, but most side with F because they are either a compliant P (those can be convinced), a controlling M (those must be faced) or indeed themselves F (as long as they aren’t your children, those must be ignored, outwitted and ultimately defeated).

If you still don’t believe there’s at least some merit to the explanatory power of PAMF, we probably disagree much more fundamentally than just on the question of Jews.

If you do, at least in some of the cases I outlined, it will be more interesting.

First post in my new blog. It’s about ideologies and a companion of the YouTube channel.

So far, there’s no additional content on this blog, but I plan to put scripts and additional material here.

Regards, John