Category Archives: Modernity

The Banality of Gender Construction

That gender is a social construction is a banality.

What else could any cultural distinction or category be? What is the entirety of language with its myriad distinctions if not a social construction?

The question is, what does the claim that a distinction or norm is socially constructed give you? It certainly doesn’t–as feminists and gender queers assume–authorize wilful and arbitrary emendations of the constructed concept . That assumption itself rests on a semantic conflation of construction with legislation.

Cultural constructions, like organisms, develop through adaptation not legislation. They are heuristics that have survived the test of time. As with all heuristics, they offer a means to successfully navigate the world without having to understand it. They do not admit to rational or philosophical explanation or validation. Their only validation is that they work. And more importantly, they work over a long, long period of time, beyond the span of a single generation. When they stop working, the culture that makes use of them either adapts by coming up with new heuristics or vanishes.

The gender binary and the distinctions associated with it have been around for a long time and will likely be around a lot while longer. Longevity has “naturalized” them, but this is not to be sniffed at because the naturalization of norms testifies to their success. What ought to be questioned is the knee-jerk compulsion to question the validity of every inherited cultural given.

Gender is “problematic” for us because technology has rapidly transformed its beneficiaries into artificial mutations that can only survive in a techno bubble. This has rendered us extremely fragile but rather than acknowledge this fragility and its potentially dire implications for our survival, we prefer to imagine that we have gained the god-like power to alter ourselves and our environment at will and to whatever extent we please.

Needless to say, this is foolhardy, but then modernity is a succession of foolhardy experiments with catastrophic unintended consequences. Which, apparently, does not deter us from embarking on new ones.

The disruption of gender roles has already had the effect in the industrialized countries of effectively sterilizing the population. So we already know where this experiment is headed. Its logical outcome is extinction. This means that In time, gender confusion will have proved to be a self-limiting pathology.

Freak Show

I understand where the alt right’s obsession with genetics comes from. It is, at least in part, an attempt to give scientific validation to the concept of a natural order. The problem is that the idea of a natural order must be axiomatic, an article of faith. Turning to science for the validation of an ancient cultural axiom subordinates it to an empiricism that is both alien and hostile to ancient wisdom. Even if such a validation were possible, it would be more harmful than useful for it would implicitly affirm the privileged position that modernity assigns to science as a source of knowledge.

Scientific validation is not only a weak and always provisional form of validation but also, as far as traditional concepts are involved always an implicit invalidation. Traditional concepts rely on tradition and revelation as their authority. They belong to a different cultural ecology than empiricism and its stunted rationalism, and any attempt to render them empirical fatally jeopordizes them. To use Nassim Taleb’s terminology, traditional concepts are heuristic not empirical. They achieve validation by their effects. Medieval Christianity gave us Chartres. Postmodernism gives us Daniel Libeskind.

Science cannot be the final arbiter of truths that can only be effective if they are absolute.

In the modern world, it is impossible to affirm the legitimacy of tradition without questioning the legitimacy of science. The two cannot coexist.

When dealing with false philosophies that appear philosophically impregnable because of modern credulity to impertinent sophistry, Joseph De Maistre showed the way. Consider not the theory but its consequences. Deconstruction and its correlate, social contructivism (the belief that traditional norms are mere social constructions that can be violated and amended at will), are disproved by the freakishness they produce. Feminism is disproved by its uglifying effect on women. The belief that gender is a construction is disproved by the abject ridiculousness of men passing themselves as women and vice versa.

The aesthetic consequences of an idea are the most rigorous test of its validity.

What is latent in an idea, covered up by appeals to sentiment and resentment, is exposed by its realization. An idea whose products are disfigured, malformed, freakish, monstrous, weak, shrill, cacophonous, graceless, poisonous, ugly is a bad idea irrespective of the high-minded bullshit it comes wrapped in. Good ideas are recognized by their beautiful, ennobling effects. If you want to get the measure of the wisdom of any civilization or any period within a civilization, examine its artifacts. It is what a civilization leaves behind when it can no longer speak except through its residue that justifies or condemns it.

If the idea of a natural order is not axiomatic, if it is not an unquestionable cultural given, it is nothing. The fragmentary scientific validation of some longstanding cultural belief always comes too late and counts for very little.

What science–or more accurately, modern science–has killed, it cannot revive.

Tradition cannot cede authority to short-sighted empiricism without nullifying itself. This is fundamental.

An authentic traditionalist has to be willing to accept that tradfition is indefensible. This has no bearing on its legitimacy. Tradition is indefensible because it is the distillation of a knowledge acquired practically through harrowing and heroic encounters with the worst and best that life has to offer. Tradition is indefensible because it is not modern and, therefore, alien to the modern prejudice that equates legitimacy with understanding. The wisdom of tradition, its legitimacy, reveals itself today negatively, via the dismal consequences of what has replaced it.

In the same way that tradition is rationally indefensible, modernity and its abominations are rationally irrefutable. Genetics will never disprove the pernicious doctrine of social construction because that doctrine is itself part and parcel of the scientific ethos. After all, it is science itself that allows the surgical and pharmacological alteration of gender and, beyond that, the artificialization of the human organism at the cellular level.

Science cannot validate the natural order because it is science’s mutational power, its toxicity, that has made us unnatural.

It is our own unnaturalness that expresses itself in deconstruction. Deconstruction manifests what has already occurred, the undoing, the ruination of foundational cultural precepts, but it manifests this undoing as wilful reenactment and in this way affords us the delusion of voluntaristic cultural agency. We deconstruct gender because gender was already ruined by the exigencies of industrialization and the invention of automation and wage labor. We deconstruct patriarchal authority because patriarchal authority acquiesced long ago to the overwhelming power of ungendered capital.

Conservatism today has nothing left to conserve.

Modernity cannot be refuted. It can only be allowed to perish. Indeed, is modernity anything but a perishing? Is it anything but a civilizational supernova that comes after a civilization has exhausted its vitality? Most of what we take as the causes of cultural decline are actually its effects. It is our diminishment that modernity signifies, our inability to endure the heroic demands of the ancient wisdom.

Belief in the natural order demanded a fatalism, a stoicism, an islam, an amor fati that at some point became insupportable to modern minds. The recourse to genetics to restore the authority of nature reproduces the error it tries to correct. Faith in the natural order demands instead conviction in modernity’s evanescence.

The freak menagerie assembled by modernity is not an indication of a “transhuman’ future. Rather, it is an indication that modernity has no future.