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Part 1: The Narcissistic Wolf
Narcissus was shot by Cupid’s arrow while staring into a reflective pool. He fell in love with his own reflection to such an extent that he starved while staring at himself.
For this reason, narcissism is usually associated with intense self-love. But there is a variant of narcissism that is equally obsessed with self-hatred. As the great German writer Herman Hesse wrote in Steppenwolf, “that self-hate is really the same thing as sheer egoism, and in the long run breeds the same cruel isolation and despair.” Steppenwolf can only see himself.
In Steppenwolf, the titular character hates himself and becomes so narcissistic that he can’t relate to other people. Self-hatred might be more destructive or less destructive than self-love, but it functions quite similarly. Steppenwolf feels superior to other people in many respects, but he hates himself for being unable to befriend them. I suspect he is an Aspie so he has higher intelligence and finds humans quite frustrating to get along with.
But enough with the great works of literature from a bygone age- let’s descend into modern drivel.
Part 2: Lileks and Ayaan Hirsi Ali tear at the heart of Fashionable Wokism
I suspect that the modern antiracist idea is a kind of narcissism on mass, and it based both on self-love and self-hatred simultaneously. The main point isn’t to feel good or bad but to feel self-important.
Recently, James Lileks in his interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali mentioned that non-white Empires were guilty of abuse of the weak and violence against the other and misogyny, and pretty much everything that European Empires are accused of. Such accusations directed at European Empires are often well-deserved, but that is not Lilek’s point. He rightly notes that Western societies are judged by very high standards and that non-Western societies are exempted from such standards.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is probably much more bothered by this than Lileks is. She had Female Genital Mutilation done to her at a young age and her father would have forced her to marry her cousin had she not escaped to the Netherlands. The silence of white upper-class feminists with regard to women in her position is deafening.
Many have interpreted this as being rank oikophobia (irrational fear or revulsion of the local) or the more commonly termed white guilt. This is accurate as far as it goes but to paraphrase a great Catholic thinker, “When someone says that he is ashamed of his race or culture, what he really means is that he feels superior to others of his race or culture.” As Quillette writer and former soldier Spencer Case has noticed while observing Fullbright scholars, they consider themselves, “Globally-minded” liberals who are eager to distinguish themselves from the flag-waving rubes. This implies an ability to see your country at a cool distance. Condemning America demonstrates a transcendence of parochial loyalty. Hostility may not be objectivity, but it certainly isn’t slavish devotion, and that’s the main thing.” Even an unreasonable animus towards one’s country is more fashionable than unreasonable devotion. With the exception of conservative intellectuals, superiority complexes are common among the academic types.
Since time immemorial, the literati have felt superior to the common working man. They often feel that they are above their country as well. In the fourth century B.C. there Diogenes referred to himself as a citizen of the world. Western intellectuals are unique only in that they think that their society is uniquely bad.
As far as I can tell, the West is unique in that after they conquered various peoples, they felt bad about it around the late 1800s. I have never heard of any civilization feeling bad about winning a war until then. Herodotus’s lamentation for Melos comes close, but it can easily be interpreted as suggesting that the world is so brutal that it just sort of happens that the weak get conquered by the strong.
There is a series of comic novels starring the English soldier Harry Flashman. Flashman is a coward and a cynic and he isn’t a hero in any typical sense. But because of the flaws in his character, he has deep insight into human nature. He overheard a respected Anthropologist in an English club praising the Indian peoples of Americans and condemning the,
Yankees’ barbarous treatment of the Plains tribes after the Uprising, and their iniquitous Indian policy in general, the abominations of the reservation system, and the cruelties practiced.” He speaks of the Indians as being, “helpless nomads who desired only to be left alone to pursue their traditional way of life as peaceful herdsmen, fostering their simple culture, honouring their ancient gods…
Flashman because of his indecency, knows that this is nonsense.
If you think [the whites] were a whit more guilty than your darling redskins, you’re an even bigger bloody fool than you look. What bleating breast-beaters like you can’t comprehend… is that when selfish, frightened men — in other words, any men, red or white, civilised or savage — come face to face in the middle of a wilderness that both of ’em want… then war breaks out, and the weaker goes under. Policies don’t matter a spent piss — it’s the men in fear and rage and uncertainty watching the woods and skyline, d’you see, you purblind bookworm, you!
I imagine Herodotus and many Confucian scholars looking very sad for a moment and then agree with Flashman.
I theorize that the sentiment of feeling guilty for victory in battle emerged from Christianity. Christ was an abused minority and a poor celibate who failed to make friends with political connections. Christ himself seemed cooly indifferent towards political power and unlike some of the earlier Jewish prophets, he wasn’t much of a political figure. It is unsurprising that Christianity first spread among the poor people, women, and slaves.
Still, this doesn’t fully explain the strange roots of Western guilt. To answer that question, we have to go to the first story of guilt ever in human history.
Part 3: Falling towards judgment
There are a few very beautiful medieval songs that praise the fall of man. The idea is that falling from grace allowed for G-d to return as Jesus Christ to bring us closer to G-d. According to Mike Duncan, one of the most influential podcasters ever and historian of Rome, some Romans felt more connected to Jesus because they were responsible for his death. Killing the only truly innocent man who was also the word made flesh and persecuting his followers connected Rome to the one true faith according to their citizens. At first, this celebration of sin seems bizarre. But, it parallels the Garden of Eden.
To oversimplify a fathomless story that one can spend a lifetime interpreting, original sin, knowledge of good and evil and the possibility of redemption were all the same fruit. Humanity became capable of understanding good at the same time that it felt guilt and shame and at the time they trespassed against goodness. Though this fall was painful, the knowledge gained from it put them closer to G-d and allowed them the possibility of redemption.
What does this have to do with Ayaan Hirsi Ali and white guilt? Well, it explains why Woke Western intellectuals don’t care about the evils of the non-Western world. When a white guy mistreats a lady in Europe America or Israel, he should know better; but other non-Western or non-white people aren’t really capable of sin. They are treated like Adam or Eve before the fall. Children who don’t know sin and cannot be judged like adults.
To the best of my reckoning, this explains the fundamental contradiction of the kind of the academic left going from Edward Said, through Foucalt to the modern woke movement. Post-modernists pretend to believe that there is no good or evil and everything is based on what groups decide is good or evil. Only sociopaths actually believe that. Postmodernists believe that rape, slavery, and genocide are evil but they pretend to not believe it. They might even believe that they believe it but in their souls, they hate what they perceive as evil. In my experience, postmodernists universally do not believe in the absence of good and evil and they fetishize white bigotry. Notably, postmodernists aren’t arguing with the Woke left over the Woke’s narrative. In a similar fashion of cognitive dissonance, the Woke left will never complain about how Fidel Castro imprisons homosexuals and ignores how Maduro starves the poor and then goes on about how they champion minorities and the oppressed.
The only reasonable explanation is that they don’t believe what they say they believe. Observation and deduction would suggest that the left thinks that whites and western civilization are uniquely capable of being judged.
Part 4: The folly of the intellectual class
Now it is plain to anyone who took a world history course that, all humanity has had racism and wars and misogyny and so on. So how is it that a great multitude of Western Intellectuals can ignore it? According to Paul Johnson, Mark Camp, and other commentators on influential leftist academics, it is never about the poor and the wretched of the world- not really. It’s about how the academic elite feel about the world and about how the societies that they live in full below their standards. The victims of oppression and bigotry from non-whites or non-Western aggressors don’t elicit the same feels and therefore don’t count.
As Milton’s rebel angel put it, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” The opportunities afforded by Western Civilization can be made into utter bigotry and the cruelties of everywhere else can be imagined away in the intellectuals’ heads.
They say that the mind is a terrible thing to waste but wasting a mind isn’t half so terrible as misusing it. All the books and all the education in the world can’t dissuade a fool gifted with a high I.Q. Overwhelmingly, our intellectual class has misplaced their minds and cannot be relied on for anything approaching solid moral reasoning. They have failed us and our culture and our progeny will suffer for it.
Part 5: What is to be done?
Western Civilization is probably the best Civilization because we were the first peoples to give up slavery and the first people to think that conquering the weak was bad. I would like to continue to judge cultures based on liberal Enlightenment principles of individual rights, freedom of conscience, and fair play. I think you should as well. We must hold even tighter to these self-evident Truths since our narcissistic elites won’t. The arbitrary denial of life, liberty, and property to any human individual is evil regardless of what country it is in what level of melanin the aggressor possesses.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been at the forefront of standing for universal liberal principles against both Islamists and guilt-ridden narcissistic leftists. She is an expression of classical liberalism at its most beautiful. With the same courage that she wielded to defy her forced marriage and Islamist misogyny, she refuses the leftist lie that there are two distinct categories of people with some capable of reason and morality and some innocent and incapable of judgment. To her, people are people and are judged on their ideas and character. After all, what is the purpose of anything if not to aim towards what is good and True and what can be more True than the idea that men are born equal and should be free.