EGI Notes

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Of Pragmatism and Principles

This post is specifically addressed to Greg Johnson and all the participants in the blog Counter Currents.  Rather than fill up the comments thread there with an enormous post, I will collect my thoughts here, and then link to this post over there.  They can then discuss/debate it, as they see fit, at that venue.

The topic of this post is the issue of Andrew Hamilton’s sly ad hominem insinuation that we all must, at his command, debate the “who is White?” question, or else be considered akin to Jewish censors, “aping” the behavior of inferiors. The suggestion is that free speech is an important characteristic of Whites; therefore, specific obsessions must be the focus of constant discussion, all in the name of free speech and its place in the White character.

I will address this in two ways.

First, we can ask: are we a debating society or are we political soldiers fighting a battle to achieve particular goals?  If we are a debating society, then, yes, free speech is paramount, and, we have an obligation to discuss and debate whatever issue is put before us.  Here, the discussion itself is the end, it is the objective.  

Very well.

But, if we are political soldiers, then any approach, including free speech/debate, needs to be judged with respect to achieving our aims.  At times, discussion and debate are useful.  At other times, it is not.  When fighting a war, does one constantly question the friend/enemy disjunction?  It would seem that this should be done before the hostilities commence.  When one is in the foxhole with what one believes are comrades-in-arms, one hopes that they are “shooting” with you, not at you.

In warfare, there definitely is a time for discussion and debate of the friend/enemy axis.  That time is before the war begins. Once it begins, and the objective is to fight for a particular objective, then the discussion/debate should be, at that point, how best to achieve that objective.  If you are constantly going to be questioning the parameters of inclusion of your own forces in the middle of the battle, the probability of victory is nil.  Of course, certainly, issues come up.  A Benedict Arnold may be discovered as a traitor.  Things happen.  But that’s somewhat different than the Continental Congress suddenly debating in 1777 whether or not New York or Massachusetts should or should not be included in the endeavor.  A bit late perhaps? A bit late after New Yorkers and New Englanders have already fought in the battle (see the discussion on honor/integrity, below)?

Of course, we have concern trolls who insist we need to discuss these issues, endlessly (and the discussions will be endless if the end result of the debate is not to their liking), because if we don’t, our opponents will. That is a ludicrous argument. Of course opponents will bring up issues designed to cause fissures in any dissident movement (think of the implications of that for a moment). The fact is – ANY group, ANY ideology, and ANY set of principles can ALWAYS be questioned by opponents at ANY time.  What does this mean?  It means that we should DEFEND the group and its principles – and if the definition of the group was carefully considered from the outset (a minimum requirement for any sound group and its leadership), then there is a definition based on principles that can and should be defended.  And you defend the group by actually defending it, not by publicly attacking it, and not by joining the opponents in a fervent effort to deconstruct the group you allegedly belong to.

If Counter Currents is a debating society, then everything and anything should be open to debate (not just those issues that obsess particular individuals).  We can debate whether or not the White race should be preserved, and whether or not Counter Currents should exist or not. Why not?  Question everything!  On the other hand, if Counter Currents is a community of individuals, based on certain criteria, aiming to achieve specific goals, then we can ask why members of that community are required to constantly defend their inclusion in that community when that inclusion is continuously questioned by other members of that same community?  Something is not quite right there.

Second, is the matter of principle.  I can imagine some people stating that principle trumps pragmatism, and that certain aspects of the White character are inviolate and cannot be compromised in the pursuit of victory.  Very well.  Are there White principles of importance other than free speech?  I believe there are, and will discuss two of these.

We can start with the principle of integrity/loyalty: honoring the social contract.  A group is formed following a set of criteria.  Individuals join the group based on those criteria (and here I mean those who join in good faith and not the traitors and trolls), and they then contribute to the group’s collective goods, helping to build up that community’s social capital.

At that point, it is dishonorable in the extreme for the group criteria to be changed mid-stream, to exclude members after the fact, after the expenditure of effort and the construction of the group social capital.  That is disloyalty to members of the group so targeted. If we value principle, and assert a primacy of principle over pragmatism, then the character flaw of disloyalty is unforgivable, and any leader or group that exhibits such a grave defect of character can never be trusted.  These are things essential to the White character: loyalty, honor, the bond of the social contract, integrity and trustworthiness, and the interconnected rights and obligations between a community and its members.  It is unWhite, unAryan, and aping the behavior of inferior groups, to cavalierly break the social contract once it is established. 

Then there is the principle of freedom of association.  While members of a community have the right to question the community’s direction, the community has rights as well.  Fundamental to community rights is the minimum of defining who or what the community is and what it represents, and that members of the community, also at minimum, respect the basic foundational basis for the community’s existence.  Those who cannot in good conscience agree to that definition of community should have the right to go elsewhere, to join another community or found one of their own. They should do so before complicating the issue of their contributions to the group social capital.  It’s essential therefore for the group to explicitly define itself from the outset (a recurring theme of this post), and for group members to understand this definition, before joining the group and investing in it.  If one has a change of heart afterwards, then that person can voluntarily relinquish their connection to the group, forfeit their social capital, and start elsewhere.  That should be their free choice; as discussed above it is dishonorable (and destructive to pragmatic group cohesion) for the community to redefine itself mid-stream.  However, it is reasonable for individuals or subgroups in the community to decide to invoke freedom of association if they so choose. 

Freedom of association cuts both ways – the fact that someone is dissatisfied with a group they freely chose to join does not give them the right to break the social contract the group has with its other members.  The onus is on the dissatisfied individual to make their free choice.  This is what Jim Bowery terms “sortocracy,” and while I have disagreed with Bowery on a number of things over the years, I do agree with him on the importance of freedom of association, on the importance of groups being able to define themselves as they see fit, and for those who disagree to vote with their feet and move elsewhere.  I myself have done so.  When it has become clear that I was not welcome at certain blogs, websites, or print journals, I left and took my business elsewhere.  However, I do note that in each case, it was an example of the community dishonorably altering its definition mid-stream, and therefore, I was not obligated to move; i.e., it was not fully “free choice.”  Nevertheless, I did so, and allowed the communities to (dishonorably) follow their new direction.  Therefore, those who, in contrast, decide for themselves that a consistently run community is not to their taste have a more pressing obligation to invoke freedom of association – in their case, a pure free choice decision.

These are all issues relevant to the case at hand.

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