McStudge’s sole comment on the election

It is almost touching, how the humans cling to their most obviously stupid beliefs. For instance, large numbers of them believe that by voting for one shop-window mannequin over another, they can improve the quality of merchandise sold in the shop.

We encourage them in this belief, of course. It distracts them from the inconvenient fact that the shop itself is a monopoly and removes all competitors by force. Remember, my poppets, the most powerful force in the humans’ lives is their own gullibility. Use it often, and use it well.

     H. Smiggy McStudge

Rally round the ideology, boys

It is easier to rally a band of Visigoths, Arabs or Ivyleaguers with a streamlined creed that fits neatly on a banner. In politics as well, coherent philosophy frequently loses out in the short run to ideology – that is, a half-baked idea holding a fully loaded pistol.

—John Zmirak

(Hat tip to Margot St. Aubin.)

‘Dear verminous cretin’: Smiggy replies to a reader

In response to ‘Theyocracy: The argument’, Nancy Lebovitz writes:

I realize it’s unreasonable to expect a demon to supply links or evidence.

I looked up Cruz’s speech, and it seemed like a bunch of insults, and lacked a description of what Obama had done which was so awful.

I found the above, which claimed that Cicero was pushing for insurrection, and Cruz quoted him with that in mind. This may or may not be true, but it’s certainly not a general attack on politicians using classical quotations.

What are your sources?

H. Smiggy McStudge answers for his own purposes, not for Ms. Lebovitz’s benefit, so you must excuse the whiff of brimstone. For my own part, I apologize to Ms. Lebovitz. It is not that Smiggy lacks manners; he understands them exquisitely, and when he is offensive, he always does it on purpose. But Smiggy will be Smiggy, and if I edited out his rudeness, half of his meaning would be lost along with it. If you took all the malice out of him, you could not see him without an electron microscope. I hold you in high regard, Ms. Lebovitz, whatever a McStudge may please himself to say.

[Read more…]

Theyocracy: The argument

My dear junior McStudges, field operatives, and propagandists,

Here follows, for your benefit, a short treatise on the Myth of Government. It does not describe, except incidentally, the so-called art of Government itself. What the humans believe about government, you can discover for yourself quite easily. They have an entire profession called Political Science, the practitioners of which are too weak-willed and scrupulous to be politicians, and too stupid to be scientists. If you want to know the fifteen prevalent superstitions about government and its alleged uses, you can go and waste your time with them; but I do not recommend it, except as a source of cheap laughter to help your digestion. What government is really about – the final end which we have in view when we spread this particular vice among the humans – is a secret kept, successfully so far, by wiser heads than yours. That information is distributed strictly on a need-to-know basis, and you do not need to know.

However, you do need to know what government is; and you also need to know the Myth. [Read more…]

‘The frightful landslide into Theyocracy’

My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) – or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in any sense other than the inanimate realm of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights, nor mind); and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remained obstinate!

If we could get back to personal names, it would do a lot of good. Government is an abstract noun meaning the art and process of governing and it should be an offence to write it with a capital G or so as to refer to people. If people were in the habit of referring to ‘King George’s council, Winston and his gang’, it would go a long way to clearing thought, and reducing the frightful landslide into Theyocracy.

Anyway the proper study of Man is anything but Man; and the most improper job of any man, even saints (who were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.

The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, no. 52
(to Christopher Tolkien, 29 November 1943)

(Paragraph breaks added.)

The infernal and redoubtable H. Smiggy McStudge has some things to say about all this, and has asked (or rather, peremptorily ordered) me to put some of it up here in the near future. Perhaps I shall oblige (or obey) him. He says it is to be a manual of advice for all the little McStudges, who, he says, have great zeal for their work but are in danger of believing their own propaganda. It will also be an ‘outline of history’, a form that was very popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but is pretty well extinct now. Smiggy makes his pitch thus:

‘The average human now has nothing but contempt for history – contempt born of utter ignorance. The schools teach a kind of compost of outdated sociology and falsified anthropology under the name of Social Studies, and graduate chuckleheads who cannot tell you whether George III came before or after George II, and who, if given a globe, are exceptionally lucky if they can point a finger at the Earth. History has been abandoned to the history buffs, who have the characteristic stupidity of experts, the ant’s-eye view. There are people who can tell you in minute detail the costume and weaponry of a Pecheneg warrior of the eleventh century, but who cannot tell you what the Pechenegs did, or how they influenced other nations, or why anyone should bother to inform themselves about the God-rotted Pechenegs at all. And we McStudges are very content that this should be so.

‘But let us not be fooled because we make fools of others. We need a clear eye for the prize. History is a game that we have played, using the humans as pawns and fodder. Let us not be dazzled by the lies and distractions we design for them. Our workers in the field need a clear understanding of what the game is, and what the stakes are, and which tactics are most likely to be successful. There is, of course, some risk in making this information widely available. Some of the humans are likely to read it. Fortunately, few of them have (thanks to our efforts) the mental equipment to take notice of the truth; fewer still have the gumption to act on it. These perishing few may safely be ignored. The risk is nothing compared to the risk of letting our own people wallow in the ignorance they have created. Ink is a wonderful poison. Let us cover the world with it, let us use it to drown human wit and human reason, such as they are, once and for all. But let us take care not to drink it ourselves.’

The logic of corporatism

Fragment of a conversation, overheard:

‘The second oddest thing about the Yintulites is that most of them volunteered to be eaten by the Imperial Dragon. You see, they were so afraid of the ordinary man-eating dragons, they could imagine no other way to protect themselves than to make friends with the Imperial Dragon. But in point of fact, the Imperial Dragon never promised to eat the other dragons, or even to eat its human servants last. It merely had power over the other dragons, because they were its offspring and its pets; and so the silly Yintulites imagined that it would use that power to benefit them.’

‘But why did they have to be eaten by any dragon? Why didn’t they just run away?’

‘That, my dear, is the first oddest thing about the Yintulites. In their minds, the best possible thing in life was to choose which dragon to be devoured by. The idea of not being eaten never occurred to them.’

C. S. L. on slavery

Fifty years and a couple of days after he departed from the Shadowlands.

Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.

—C. S. Lewis, ‘Equality’ (collected in Present Concerns)

A reply to S. Dorman

In my recent essai, ‘Why are dragons afraid of Americans?’, I made one or two passing references to Utopian Socialism. S. Dorman (cinda-cite on LiveJournal) writes the following comment:

it feels ungrateful of me not to mention…for many the misery–gone! but it’s back now. so unions?–flawed but needed again. there is no utopia, but people tend to work toward it personally, for familial reasons–when they are working.

I don’t normally write about explicitly political matters here, but when I attempted to reply on LiveJournal, I found that I had run over the limit for comments; so I beg indulgence of you all, and ask those not interested not to click on the link below, and not to bother with the remainder of this post. [Read more…]

Conservatives, progressives, and educational methods

First the text, from the immortal Chesterton:

The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types — the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine.

And now the sermon. This is from ‘docargent’, a commenter on Sarah A. Hoyt’s blog. I offer it with the caveat that the teacher cited cannot be reached to confirm the story:

I worked as support staff in a middle school once and, having been left almost innumerate due to the New Math, asked a teacher nearing retirement if anything done since the New Math had worked as well as the methods used before it. When she said no, I asked why public schools never went back to the pre- New Math method.

“There’s no money in it,” she said.

According to her, school districts receive federal grants to use new and experimental teaching plans. If these fail, and they usually do, no effort is made to correct the damage done to the education of the students used as guinea pigs; they’ll have to pick the subject up themselves later on. The school districts need the grants to pay for various unfunded mandates.

I thought this over and asked her if this meant that if an experimental teaching method did actually work, the district would still abandon it in a few years for something totally untried in order to get a new grant.

“Yes,” she said.

Adam Smith: Men vs. chessmen

The man of system . . . seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board; he does not consider that the pieces put upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it.

—Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments