24 February 2009

Attending conferences

Just in case it may ever be used as an excuse for not giving me a Professorship that I do not like attending conferences, may I say that there is all the difference in the world between attending conferences, however boring and rubbishy, if it is part of a job for which one is being rewarded with salary and status, and doing so as an unsalaried and statusless person living in very bad circumstances.

The Society for Psychical Research always held it against me that I spared myself attendance at their conferences, after they had cut off all sources of financial support.

Actually, other things being equal, broadcasting and giving seminars is something for which I have a natural aptitude, and do not mind doing. I even quite enjoy putting things across.

Sitting through other people’s papers and joining in discussions of them is another matter altogether, and would always be fairly negative, although I would always accept it as part of the job if I had a sufficiently statusful and well-rewarded appointment.

16 February 2009

Erosion of respect for individual liberty

Respect for individual liberty is protected, if at all, by the market forces of a capitalist society; when that protection is eroded by socialism, anything goes.

A Christian lady has been blamed for allowing a 16-year-old Muslim girl whom she was fostering to convert to Christianity.

As well as showing dislike of Christianity, this demonstrates that the individual is supposed to be entirely the product of social influences. According to those in power, those around the individual should be able to decree his opinions and attitudes. If an unwanted inclination arises, his parents or guardians should be able to eradicate it, and be punished for failing to do so. (This Christian lady has been disqualified from fostering, and the drop in income means she can no longer afford the farm she used to rent to look after vulnerable teenagers.)

From the Daily Mail, 9 February 2009:

A foster mother has been struck off the register for allowing a Muslim girl in her care to convert to Christianity. The woman, who has looked after more than 80 children in the past ten years, is considering suing the council over the decision. Although she is a practicing Anglican, she said she had put no pressure on the girl who was baptised last year at the age of 16. She said social workers had also raised no objections to her own attendance at church.

But officials insist she failed in her duty to preserve the girl’s religion and should have tried to stop the baptism. Last April, they ruled that the girl, now 17, should stay away from church for six months. The foster mother’s removal from the register followed in November.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has launched a legal challenge to the decision with funding from the Christian Institute. Mike Judge, a spokesman for the institute, said:

'All people should be free to change or modify their religious beliefs. That surely must be a core human right in any free society. I cannot imagine that an atheist foster carer would be struck off if a Christian child in her care stopped believing in God ...'

The carer is a single mother of two in her 50s who has worked with young children for much of her life. She has had an unblemished record since becoming a foster parent in the North of England in 1999 ... The move has stripped her of her sole source of income, forcing her to downsize to a one-bedroom flat.

Similar attitudes were shown towards my father, when I was at school, for failing to prevent me from wanting to take more exams than other people, and at an earlier age. The fact that I was known to have a very high IQ was not regarded as any excuse.

It is asserted and implied in many academic productions in the fields of philosophy, education, and psychology that there is no such thing as individuality, as distinct from the results of social influence and interaction.

The relevant departments of my suppressed independent university are still unable to publish criticisms of these tendentious assertions, so censorship continues to prevail.

06 February 2009

Lying (from the forthcoming book 'The Corpse and the Kingdom')

I have observed that in my experience the human race seems to like it best if the socially agreed view of the situation not merely distorts but actually inverts one or two of the salient facts.

To this one may add the observation that people tell lies more often than seems necessary to arrive at the (apparently) desired objective, and that they like to engage in manipulating other people's psychology. The less successful the manipulations are being, and the more self-evident it is that the victim of the manipulation is aware of what is going on, the more forcefully and obsessively do they insist on behaving as if he is unaware.

A motivation for this may be postulated. Reality (however much they may insist that it is impossible to define it except by reference to social agreement) is seen as a sort of threat, or potential rival, to social agreement. And there can be no more satisfying way of asserting the supremacy of the latter than by insisting that it is right when it is obviously wrong.

Market forces alone protect the freedom of the individual to act realistically and independently of social agreement. Hence a society in which market forces are weakened is likely to contain a suicidal drive.

I have alluded elsewhere in this book to a story about a tribe of native Americans who sallied forth to battle clad in ‘magic’ shirts which were no protection at all against real lead bullets. This is an acceptable story because it is supposed to illustrate the inferiority of superstition to rationalism, or the foolishness of supposing that there might be more to the situation than met the eye of a materialistic monist.

But there are times when modern society strikes me as being very like that tribe.

Of course this is only a hypothetical suggestion, which cannot be taken too far, at least not on the level of social organisation. No doubt this psychological factor, if present on that level, is modified by many others. How, for example, would one account for the fact that the suicidal drive is not shown by completely communist countries, and to a differential extent even by countries which are not? Part of the answer might be that once market forces have been completely eliminated and the state has assumed full control of what may be thought and expressed, external reality is no longer felt as a threat in the same way, so there is no longer any need to behave suicidally.