Thursday, March 18, 2021

On Medium: American Paranoia and the Modern Legacy of Nihilism

Read on about Machiavellian centrism, the secret weariness of progressives and Trumpian conservatives, and how American politics is nihilistic despite all the hot air.


  1. The most damning thing about is that as souless as American style negative liberty is, where is the better alternative? No one in their right mind would choose to live in North Korea, but even China & Russia, for all their success & national optimism, seem like stifling places to live for anyone with an IQ in the triple digits.

    I once read Plato's Laws, hoping it would be an expansion upon the Republic. It is, but it's also -- by turns -- so tedious & dogmatic that I doubt its authenticity. Twelve books of nitpicking rules dictating nearly every facet of life that could rival the Talmud & for what? The perpetuation of a race that is so busy with marriage, childrearing, commerce, religious festivals & politics that it no longer has any time to reflect on why it's doing all this. A society like that would have no patience for a Socrates. They would have executed him before he was old enough to grow hair on his chin.

    I guess the take away from all this is that philosophy isn't some harmless pass time & certainly isn't the enlightened alternative to religion. Philosophy causes doubts, which lead to skepticism & usually ends in either in a machiavellian indifference to truth & value or ennui. People crave meaning & value, they want to know why they should live. But they also fear that the question either has no answer or that the answer may not be to their liking. So instead of searching for the answer, they content themselves with an answer. But that solution is itself a renunciation of value. If any consoling answer will do, then why bother? If consolation is all that's needed, then it can be found more honestly & easily in a bottle of brandy. Or, if that solution lacks dignity, one could become a Buddhist & achieve the sort of happiness that a boulder enjoys.

    1. Well, I agree about the downside of philosophy, and you raise the challenge that the sum of my writings is meant to tackle: How to overcome that downside? How to avoid nihilism with honour and integrity? Is there such a thing as godless honour or should we opt for the consolation of alcohol or dog-like, "Cynical" life as hobos? Does rational enlightenment entail that everything is meaningless and pointless?

      I walk on the edge of those questions. Sometimes I emphasize the downside or the threat of total negativity, and at other times I pull back and talk about the constructive options (such as the aesthetic reconstruction of morality or the superiority of liberal secular humanism to conservative savagery).

      I don't know if there's currently a social order that rivals liberalism (democracy, capitalism, freedom of thought, secular modernization, etc). Certainly, there are many societies that improve on American systems in specific ways. I'm more interested in the small-scale revolution, in the prospects for individual enlightenment, since society emerges as the aggregate of a population's identities. The social order reflects the ethos which in turn reflects the history that determines the culture in which individuals fit and with which they define themselves.

      I'm planning to write something soon on Chinese atheistic culture. It's interesting how its amoral atheism differs from Western, Christianity-influenced secularism.