GABlog Generative Anthropology in the Public Sphere

December 5, 2016

Prospects: Therapeutic vs. Disciplinary Orders

Filed under: GA — adam @ 8:31 pm

What we might call the “cereal wars” has the Breitbart website pitted against the Kelloggs corporation, which has piously announced that it will no longer advertise on the honey badger website since it doesn’t “share our values.” Breitbart’s counter-attack involves both a boycott of Kelloggs (easy for me—no more Eggos, and the kids are off Frosted Flakes) and a series of exposures of Kelloggs’ donations to far left political causes like Black Lives Matters and Soros’s Tides Foundation, thereby vindicating Reactionary Future’s Moldbuggian focus on the corporate-funded foundations as the source of “social justice” style resentments. Another similarly vindicating item: John Derbyshire answers his own question, “Exactly Who in America has this Insatiable Appetite for Somali Immigration” as follows:

The appetite belongs in the first place to the refugee importers, the so-called Voluntary Agencies, who get vast grants of federal money to aid them in their efforts, and who pay their executives grand salaries; and in the second place to Midwestern meatpacking and food-processing companies wanting cheap labor.

It’s all a nice little money racket dressed up in humanitarian language.

Now, these are somewhat different rackets—Kelloggs, I would guess, like many corporations, is a victim of a kind of Stockholm Syndrome probably going back to the trustbusting of the early 20th century  (in general, not with Kelloggs in particular) whereby the pincer movements of the labor movement, the yellow press and Progressives squeezed corporations into paying ransom in the form of charitable (and political) giving most likely to appease those governments most inclined to interfere with your business. In the end, you come to believe what you have to support in order to stay in business. The (Catholic) “Voluntary Agencies,” meanwhile worms its way into reciprocal relations with government bureaucracies, wherein the growth of each is the growth of the other. Still, while a quick look at their website yielded no enlightenment on the point, it’s reasonable to assume that the voluntary agencies are hardly bereft of private donations (perhaps even from those Midwestern meatpackers), especially with the imprimatur of the government on their activities. But, anyway, the differences are irrelevant—what matters is that if you believe that anyone who would consider deporting Somali immigrants and/or allowing no more into the country is an irredeemable, deplorable racist, or even if you find it a bit indelicate to discuss such matters, it is because very powerful public-private vectors of interest want it that way. So, the arguments over “immigration policy” and “the New Jim Crow” are a bit beside the point—if we shut down Voluntary Agencies and restricted Kelloggs to the business of producing obese children, we wouldn’t have to talk about this stuff in the first place. (it’s probably needless to say, but the examples I’ve just mentioned are the tiniest of tips on the most gigantic of icebergs.) We would, though, have to start talking about shutting down a very wide range of completely “legitimate” and even highly esteemed forms of philanthropy, which would in many ways be an even more difficult “conversation.”

In other words, the liberal democratic process is irrelevant here—no one ever voted to drastically increase the importation of Somalis, and no politician would ever publicly support doing so (although Hillary Clinton came pretty close), at least not until enough Somalis have clustered somewhere to function as a voting bloc (at which point the Republicans will be exhorted to develop minority-friendly, pro-immigration and anti-Islamophobic policies so they don’t get called racist and even win 9% of the Somali vote). And yet they keep coming. Perhaps Trump will shut down this pipeline (while he opens other, more socially beneficial ones), but for that to be more than a temporary fix he would have to “drain the swamp” even more comprehensively than he imagines (and I think he is already imagining this task on a rather grand scale), so as to take on all these joint public-private predatory cons practiced upon the American people. (A useful definition of the “right” today would be those who insist that those importing the Somalis ad dumping them on unsuspecting Midwestern towns be held responsible for the consequences of doing so—in the sense of being tried as accessories to the crimes their clients commit. If you don’t support that, aren’t you just a Commie?) It’s certainly impossible to do so on constitutional and legal terms, which means any president (and especially this incoming one) would risk impeachment before even really getting started. If such a president wanted to continue, then, he would need to justify taking on extra-constitutional and extra-legal powers, and to do that he would need a kind of private-public army within the security forces of the state, loyal to him alone. You can see where this is going, but I’ll get more specific about it soon.

Can the victimocracy stabilize itself in some way, or must it continue to generate more chaos until social collapse? While that latter possibility is not to be dismissed, and might even be preferable as it would make the case for the needed state of emergency, I believe that some kind of stabilization is possible. Of course, liberalism has been destabilizing from the beginning, since Locke and even earlier, but it took a long time for liberalism to not only upset but undertake to systematically interfere in and organize all aspects of life, from the most minute and intimate to the most public. Right now a boy taking a girl on a date has no idea what might land him in jail, or make it impossible for him to acquire a college diploma, or lead him to be banned from going within 50 yards of a school for the rest of his life. This situation (which can be multiplied for the categories of race, transgenderism, in some places one’s views of global warming, and who knows what else as we go forward), I think, is genuinely new, an exponential rate of increase in destabilization, and will soon be felt to be intolerable. The form of stabilization has been building for half a century, and has been discussed at length by Philip Rieff, Christopher Lasch, and others—the “therapeutic society.” The tendency to define all unacceptable attitudes as “phobias,” and as indicating a (reactionary, authoritarian) personality out of touch with “reality,” provide the vocabulary for a sustained “intervention” that all the “helping” and medical professions are geared up to provide. Why wait until racism, an inclination to distinguish between the sexes, insufficient sensitivity to the environment, and so on, actually manifest themselves, when we can surely identify behaviors and traits that predispose one to such tendencies and curtail their expression in advance. Such intervention can readily be built into the school systems from the earliest years, and the duties of the courts and social services can be revised so as to include determining the fitness of parents in terms of their attunement with these attitudes. And, no doubt, the various foundations will stand ready to infuse billions of dollars in grants to ensure the success of the whole enterprise. There can be competition over whether to extend some new form of therapeutic discipline in this direction or that, but all within the same framework. There is something paradoxical in the therapeutic order: one has to believe in a pre-social, naturalized form of “health” that has, nevertheless, been so thoroughly distorted by “society” that it has to be remade from top to bottom according to a model that, due to ever increasing scientific knowledge of human physiology, psychology and sociology, is in a sense more natural than humans ever were in the first place. Stabilization would be relative, for sure, since this can’t really be done in a coherent way (but that itself can be good for business)—but all of these initiatives could at least be brought under a single form of authority. The only problem, but it is a fatal one, is that such an order will be completely incapacitated in dealing with any non-therapeutic order, and will exacerbate any conflicts with such orders by treating them as if these other orders were, in fact, under therapeutic authority. (Much like European countries presently try to reduce the incidence of sexual assault by Muslim migrants by treating them as if they simply don’t know the rules and codes regarding sexual harassment in the West, and just need a workshop to clear things up.) This delusional mindset is an advantage for those non-therapeutic orders, and gives reactionaries an incentive to represent the current order as a therapeutic one, regardless of how far it is along that path. It shouldn’t be hard, since the SJW left already speaks about itself as if it is in a hospital, with everyone watching each other on suicide watch.

As obvious as it must seem, I’ll repeat that electoral politics, discourses on civil and human rights, arguments about promoting economic freedom and growth, etc., i.e., the stale staples of our political diet, are completely irrelevant to these developments, and therefore to opposing them (the Supreme Court may follow the election returns, but the foundations certainly don’t). Anyone who thinks that transgenderism is a fraud or that homosexuality is malleable or who honestly studies the effects of homosexuals raising children will never get through graduate school or get accredited in psychology, nursing, social work, etc. How do you vote against that? By all means, sue on behalf of your religious rights—we’ll see if you’ll even be able to find a lawyer willing to represent you. Against the therapeutic order the new order would have to pit self-discipline, privileging the signs of self-control, continence, practice, self-abnegation, loyalty to superiors, respect for peers and protection of subordinates, a willingness to be judged by the highest independent standards, deference to the genuine capabilities and authority of others, and recruiting supporters from the professions, locations and demographic groups richest in these qualities and elevating those groups as examples for the others. (The blogger sundance at Conservative Treehouse speaks of the “white hats” holding out in within the security apparatuses that have been mostly corrupted.) The new order would be one of faith and knowledge, both of which are generated by discipline—the pseudo-knowledge of the therapeutic would have to be countered by the study of civilization, in its distinction everywhere from barbarism, savagery and decadence. The unnatural nature of the therapeutic can be shown to be nothing but a comprehensive system of, to use the vernacular, “flipping out” or being “triggered”; to use a term that has pretty much fallen into disuse, the subjects of the victimary-cum-therapeutic are nothing but malingerers. General George Patton provided a model for how to treat malingerers, and perhaps learning from that model is a way (to cite Trump) to stop the poor old general from spinning in his grave.

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