In which Mr. Goldberg loses patience

Unfortunately, he’s still much too polite, as he left out the obvious, “Look, you utter morons….”

How do I say this so people will understand? Fascism isn’t a libertarian doctrine! It just isn’t, never will be and it can’t be cast as one. Anarchism, secessionism, extreme localism or rampant individualism may be bad, evil, wrong, stupid, selfish and all sorts of other things (though not by my lights). But they have nothing to do with a totalitarian vision of the state where individuals and institutions alike must march in step and take orders from the government.

Anyone who describes libertarianism as being in any way akin to fascism is either a) totally dishonest, b) totally ignorant, or c) remarkably stupid. Without exception. The heart of fascism is “nulla contro lo stato”. Nothing contrary to the State. The heart of libertarianism is “lo stato limitato”. The two ideologies are inimical and they always will be.

Spengler IDs himself

Spengler = David Goldman, the associate editor of First Things:

During the too-brief run of the Asia Times print edition in the 1990s, the newspaper asked me to write a humor column, and I chose the name “Spengler” as a joke – a columnist for an Asian daily using the name of the author of The Decline of the West.

Unless, of course, this is merely a red herring….

Why yes, I did laugh

Joel Rosenberg fires off a rather good one:

Tom Maddox is an SF writer of fairly minor import. His major professional accomplishment, from this remove, is that he hangs out with his buddy, William Gibson, of (deserved, even though I don’t care for it) Neuromancer fame, who he, well, kind of worships. Back in the day, he was a frequent infestation, err, presence on Usenet, promoting Gibson (pbuh) in every context. It was kinda like when my six-year-old discovered Britney Spears.

Then one day, some guy writes in and asks something to the effect of “Which came first, Gibson’s Neuromancer or the movie Bladerunner?”

I happen to quite like William Gibson’s work. His more recent novels are arguably better than the original cyberpunk stuff with which he made his name. But he’s not a literary demigod either and his accomplishments don’t require embellishment.

Mailvox: no psychopaths here

JB queries local eddies in the psycho-social continuum:

I enjoyed your exploration in the angels trilogy of the psychology of two school shooters superficially similar to Dylan and Klebold. I wonder if you have seen this article offering a different story than the “bullying” line for Dylan and Klebold’s behavior.

I am not deprecating bullying as a factor since loneliness is a major part of the human suffering of psychopathy. But I suspect after reading that it was not bullying but psychopathic nihilistic contempt for humanity that best explains the massacre. I noted three points from the article:

1) Harris went quiet and planned for a year, allowing many people on the hit list to graduate
2) The planned massacre revolved around explosives, was orders of magnitudes larger, and was aimed at targets beyond the school
3) Harris seems to fit the psychopathic mastermind personality so well – the article develops a more comprehensive picture of his words and actions over time than the “bullying did it” articles I’ve seen

What do you think of the figures tossed around, that 1% or 4% are psychopaths? Could one say that you and Bane are both ones? Over the last month I have been induced by life evidence to evaluate my psychological profile, then a close friend’s, and that is how I came across the Columbine article.

It was an interesting article. Harris was certainly an intriguing personality; I’m rather pleased that my fictional portrayal appears to have gotten the dynamic between the two killers generally right. In answer to JB’s questions, I think the percentages are exaggerated, as the imprecision alone is sufficient to indicate. And I don’t believe that either Bane or I can be reasonably described as pyschopathic even though both of us might superficially appear to score higher than the average on the Hare checklist. To paraphrase something Bane once said, ruthlessness is often nothing more than a comprehensive understanding the range of the available choices and a willingness to act on the basis of that understanding. But we’re both far too accepting of our personal responsibilities and far too little impressed by our places in the vastness of Creation to ever qualify as being even remotely psychopathic.

I will admit that the highly intelligent are probably more prone to being inaccurately viewed as a bit psychopathic, although it’s not reasonable to always blame a lack of empathy for holding people in contempt; many, if not most, people are genuinely contemptible in one way or another. For example, holding an individual in contempt because he is a relative retard incapable of basic reading comprehension or formulating substantive criticism is not tantamount to denying his equal value as a human being in possession of a soul. It simply means that his opinions are of no value. I believe there is no shortage of evidence to demonstrate that this is true most of the time for most of the 6 billion individuals on the planet.

However, it’s also true that those who favor the abstract over the material, as most intellectuals do, operate in a manner that can appear to be similar to psychopaths in that they don’t tend to pay a great deal of attention to individual matters. But this is generally an issue of focus and perspective, not incapacity. The significant difference can be seen in the way that genuine intellectuals don’t take criticism personally because they know that it is their ideas that are the real target; the psychopath, on the other hand, invents slights and takes great personal offense at imaginary provocations because he believes that everything revolves around him.