Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wingnut update

Let's check in with our favorite right-wing lunatics:

Mencius Moldbug was going to give a talk at a conference on seasteading organized by Milton Friedman's grandson, but pissed off another, more prominent speaker by calling him a faggot and got disinvited. Oops.

Lawrence Auster was weirdly obsessed for awhile with the "The Game" aka pick-up-artistry. He's the most popular search keyword for this blog, so I guess I should mention him again.

Scipio was the subject of an profile in Esquire (the author shared my alarm that someone this deranged was in charge of a classroom of children), after which his site went down, and has remained that way for weeks. If he was hacked, well, maybe it was by one of the liberals he fantasized about stabbing to death.

Spengler is trying to protect some rigid definition of Judaism from the practices of actual Jews. L'shana Tovah, bro.

Gagdad Bob continues to spew forth metaphysical mush interspersed with attacks on the left. I still find something fascinating in how coherent his worldview is, although it's both wrong and repellent and supported with transparent lies.

Both Gagdad and Moldbug strike me as creatively intelligent people who for whatever reasons could not accept the consensus worldview of their peers, and so struck out in (somewhat) original directions. That's the source of their continued appeal to me, but in their determination to separate themselves off from liberalism have veered far into paranoid craziness, and have hence dug themselves into intellectual corners that they can't escape. Their ideologies are impervious to critique -- Gagdad like to crow about things he knows with "absolute certainty" -- or argument from outside; facts are selectively chosen or radically twisted to fit the paradigm.

There are certain kinds of genius who create their own worlds; many of the greatest artists belong to this group. That's all well and good for fiction and art (Joyce, Tolkien, Picasso, Sergio Leone come to mind), but for poltics it is ultimately either tedious or dangerous. Politics is the art of the possible; the only justification for thinking about it is if doing so can help to understand and improve the real world. Too many people think it's about building castles in the air. This was always at the core of my long argument with libertarians -- they are nerds in love with an elegant theory and don't care about the mismatch with reality. Gagdad and Moldbug are more interesting but have the same general flaw.

All of which is to say I am trying to get over my unhealthy fascination with wingnuts. They are just not that interesting except as pathology. Besides, now the academics are getting into it. My Yom Kippur resolution is to spend less time on these wackjobs and more on tikkun olam.


John Redford said...

If I were the broad-minded person I ought to be, I would skim these sites too, just to see if they have a new and valuable perspective. Really, though, life is short, and my blood pressure has limits.

I notice, though, that many of my favorite bloggers do follow the wingnuts and relish the combat. It was a noble fight when the Bushies were looting the country, but seems like piling on when they're in such disgrace.

mtraven said...

Well, I like to think that my bestiary contains somewhat more interesting creatures than your run-of-the-mill Bush supporters. To qualify for this list you have to be seriously crazy. But it's a fine distinction, especially now when the mainstream seems to be catching up with the fringe.

mnuez said...

Three brief comments:

I checked out the Scipio piece expecting awesomeness and was quite let down. The guy sounds no more objectionable to me as a teacher than almost any other potential pedagogue. If anything, I prefer his charismatic presence in an american classroom as a counterbalance to the overwhelming influence of pop/consumer culture.

As for Mencius, I LOVE him, I really do but he's somewhat insane. His commentors are generally a less admirable bunch but they're a mixed bag as well. A few smart and knowledgeable midnight tappers surrounded by a barbarian horde of 115-IQ nostril flaring middling males with maladropisms.

As for politics... why is it any less worthy a diversion than anything else? Build edifices, fight for am, enjoy the kampf and reap the...??? Whatever the case, it seems just fine an intellectual pursuit to me.