In Praise Of Prejudice, Lucifer and counterknowledge

June 13, 2008

Idea Fix and Richard Wolstencroft recommend the following books:

In Praise of Prejudice by Theodore Dalrymple. An astutely observed book that examines how useful and true most prejudices are, and that to live one’s life without them is almost impossible. or at least a great folly. A fun read, a tad neo con at times, but you can take and leave his examples and apply his rules to your favorite prejudice. Hours of fun for the whole family.

Counterknowledge by Damian Thompson. An excellent book about the many quack theories being esposed on the net and in mainstream culture. I’m guilty of propagating counterknowledge with my own doubts over the official 911 story. Book attempts to debunk all conspiracy theories and pseudo histories. Some deserve debunking and the book is good in some cases. Others Thompson relies too heavily on the official record and fails to recognise that at one time ideas like gravity and the world being round were counterknowledge. Sometmes you have to allow bullshit… to get at the kernels of truth. Still, a good read.

The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo. Why good people turn evil. From the guy who did those Stanford experiments on prisoners and guards known as the Stanford Prison Experiment and defended the Abu Ghraib torturers. Fascinating Psychological book on what makes people turn to the dark side of the force. Zimbardo’s emphasis is on environment and situations. Half way in to it. Good so far, but a little long.

5 Responses to “In Praise Of Prejudice, Lucifer and counterknowledge”

  1. Steve said

    In what ways do you think Dalrymple’s book is “a tad neo con”? I think this phrase has been so misused, it is now almost meaningless, and I’m just curious what you meant by it. Thanks.

  2. richard777 said

    Neo Con means right wing Neo Capitalist, one who amongst other things favors an unlimited free market, much that comes with Globalisation and resource wars masked as a ‘war on terror’. A segment of the Republican party, it can mean Tory or Blair’s hyper capitalist Labour. Its out of favour now as good cop in Obama comes into replace bad cop in Bush

    Dalrymple touched on Neo Con issues as examples of useful prejudice/s in his book.

    I’m sympathetic to some Neo Con ideas and concerns but find them not radical, vital and creative enough enough. We need to embrace the latent fascism the Neo Con’s have brought to democratic politics recently and go the whole hog! A new Phoenix must rise from the wasteland of the contemporary world, a new era of right wing revolutionary politics. Take back what is rightfully ours (the planet) and put the world to right (by saving it from ‘us’, the idea of universal humanism, etc).

  3. Greg Maxwell said

    Hmm, an interesting mix of Keynesian managed markets and utopian ideals there Rich. You’re almost sounding socialist.
    Exactly whom do you suggest we might be taking the planet back from? And who will this “we” be? And who is the “us” we’re going to save it from? Perhaps when you’re not so occupied with your more esoteric philosophic studies, you might acquaint yourself with the works of economists like Mieses, Hayek, Friedman and the Chicago School followed by the work up til the present day of Geoffrey Sachs.
    Pop quiz on Friday.

  4. richard777 said

    Some answers:

    Exactly whom do you suggest we might be taking the planet back from?

    Them, The ‘They’, The Enemy, The Last Man, see Nietzsche, Heidegger and Carl Schmitt. See Pareto and Mosca for ‘elite theory’.

    And who will this “we” be?

    It’ll work itself out. A New organic elite formed from the best, most creative and vital people from all countries world wide. A true meritocracy. A Transcendental Fascism beyond race, class and gender united in the wholeness of Being, standing in resolute decision amidst the great sway of history and enowning.

    And who is the “us” we’re going to save it from?

    The Enemy, the Masses, collectivism, socialists (of which I am not one , though I am sympathetic to some of their ideas, sure), humanists who can’t see beyond humanism, liberals who can’t see the true libertinage, capitalists in their present form, anarchists who can’t appreciate the truest anarchy, etc. from these groups or ideas we can ’save’ whats left of civilisation, one could hope.

    Hayek is good but too tied up in Capitalism’s endless entropy, cant see the wood for the trees. Keynes, interesting, but we need to think like the Fascists, beyond money and economics towards myth, rebirth, unity, power, will, a new Greece, a real ‘utopia’, yes, that already exists in parts of the world, just waiting for the young liberated Transcendental Fascists of tomorrow to take it the next ideological evolutionary step, the freedom of Heraclitus and other such things.

    Some of these comments are cavalier. But hopefully a thumb nail sketch of what I’m describing comes across…

    Look forward to my quiz, G Man!



  5. Greg Maxwell said

    Less of a quiz and more of a commentary.
    As I’ve aged and headed back to the corporate world rather than the fantasyland of clubdom, I’ve started to take a more pragmatic view of things. Being an empiricist, engineer type, I’m concerned with what we’re going to do, rather than why we should do it.
    Your use of the term fascism interests me because it’s being used to describe various world views, usually in a pejorative sense. There’s the lefty derision of corporate fascism to describe the hegemonic aspect of particularly US culture and foreign policy. It’s fashionable to decry the dominance of US style market economics but that dominance is purely consensual and as such, quite within the rights of the dominated to accept. To my mind, the greatest slide into fascism these days is being taken by adherents to the Gaia worship of the radical Greens. These environmental fundamentalists would sacrifice all our freedoms and advances on the altar of their ideology of humanity as virus. Their shameless exploitation of the overhyped climate change scare is the obvious manifestation of this. Look at the responses they favour and you’ll find the usual socialist income redistribution meme dressed up in green clothes. This is a result of the hijacking of the instruments of Green politics by the rump of european Marxism left with nowhere to go after the fall of the Berlin wall. Gesture politics and fundamentally racist because they would deny the 3rd world the opportunity to advance its standard of living as we have done. It’s statist welfare on a national scale. Whole countries put on the dole with carbon credit money.
    So, to the meritocracy of transcendental fascism you’re proposing. I’m interested in the mechanism. Are we to have a Randian shrug? Are you the new John Galt? Who picks the footsoldiers? Where is the first meeting being held. Should I bring nibbles?

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