I got hold of a copy of Vox Day’s new ‘book’ with the intent of reviewing it for you all but an odd thing happened on several occasions. I fell asleep. It isn’t that the prose construction is worse than usual – Vox Day puts non-fiction sentences together better than he does with the sentences in his novels. With the fiction there’s that clunk, clunk, clunk effect that is reminiscent of somebody pushing a wheel barrow whose wheels have been replaced by squares. The non-fiction tends to trip itself up on its own ideas rather than sentence structure. So I didn’t anticipate quite how dull this book would be. You would think it would contain a mix of things either provocative or inadvertently funny but it is just a rehash of the previous SJW book with different examples.
You probably know somebody with a limited range of social anecdotes. They may tell you a story in some social setting and you listen politely. Then in another setting they tell you either the same story or one very like it. Then on a third occasion the conversation is the same story again and then again. That’s pretty much this book. It is hardly the first book that has sent me to sleep but I would have expected something more like a general feeling boredom rather than unconsciousness.
There are no new observations about Vox Day here. The formula is the same, a constant note of misogyny with sporadic racism and fear mongering. There is more to write about from my end in the later chapters as these hit the bits of bat-shit accounts of Aristotle and Rabid Puppies that readers may expect from my blog
Let’s dive in. You might need coffee.
Foreword by ‘Ivan Throne’
“Even more disturbing today is concerted invasion of the open source community by social justice warriors of the Left, who seek to distract and corrupt an incredibly promising realm of innovation and technological growth by siphoning resources and time away from development of brilliant product. The pathetic, pointless creation of “Safety Councils” and “Diversity Assurance Teams” corrodes, derails, and destroys the brilliance of digital group collaboration. These embedded cancers use shame, self-importance, and useless incompetence as tools of their metastasizing.”
What is notable here is the extra backstory to the foreword. The foreword was not originally from this Ivan Throne character (a man apparently trying to turn the traits of psychopathy into a self-help guide) but from Andrew Torba, the guy behind the alt-right version of Twitter called Gab. In between time, Vox and Torba had a major falling out because of…rival far-right trolls posting nasty things at Vox Day on Gab. Vox is all against ‘safety councils’ as a nebulous threat but in practice wants social media companies to maintain a “Legal Review Board” to protect him.
“Learn why the self-annihilatory socio-sexual processes of the social justice warrior are inescapably rooted in their psyche.
Drive your understanding into the defense of not just your own reputation, career, safety and future… but also the survival and integrity of your company, your church, your institutions and your culture. War without quarter is terrible, for men are crueler than all other beasts. Losing war without quarter is worse because one cannot recover from it. Vox Day wants you to win.”
Scary stuff, although if the left are “self-annihilatory” defeating us shouldn’t require any effort at all. However, grasp of meaning and the logical implications of meaning is in short supply in this book.
This is mainly about how honest Vox finds himself to be and about how SJWs are monsters. Personally I’d take “monster” as a compliment from a man who calls child murderers heroes. Of course there is the issue of Vox’s habitual use of bullshit to which he says:
“Of course, this does not mean I will not engage in rhetoric or hyperbole from time to time, but the astute reader will recall that rhetoric is at its most effective when it is utilized in the service of the truth.”
Which is a good point, so good that I once pointed that out to Vox:
Me on Vox’s blog that one time “A great place for you to start to get a better understanding of the role of enthymeme in general and its relationship with logic would be Aristotle’s rhetoric itself. I think you perhaps have misunderstood the distinction as somehow rhetoric (in Aristotle’s sense) as being utterly divorced from logic. If so then the word you are looking for is not ‘rhetoric’ but ‘bullshit’. Substituting the word ‘bullshit’ for ‘rhetoric’ in your response, renders it a better description for what you seem to be trying to say.
However, Aristotle did not advance the notion of rhetoric as BS or sophistry but as an art of persuasion but persuasion towards TRUTH by rational means.
“It is clear, then, that rhetorical study, in its strict sense, is concerned with the modes of persuasion. Persuasion is clearly a sort of demonstration, since we are most fully persuaded when we consider a thing to have been demonstrated.”
I’m still chuckling.
He ends the introduction with a mixed metaphor about how his followers need to learn from the tactical brilliance of Hannibal, then remembers that in the end Hannibal lost badly and ends with “SJW delenda est” because in the metaphor the SJWs are now the Carthaginians. Look the key thing here is elephants. That’s what I’m taking away from all this.
We start with a story using the second person. You are some person – no, you are some man, the assumption here for the whole book is that he is writing for a man who he imagines as some poor put upon soul. This man (which is you and if it doesn’t sound like you then obviously this isn’t the book for you) has been through hell because he had a Dilbert cartoon on his desk. The upshot of which is that he has to go to some mandatory training because this is the hell that SJWs have wrought – training organised by HR. Personally I’d call that a side effect of late stage capitalism but apparently SJWs are the cause of all that might vex a man these day. I can’t find it but I recall a blogpost by Vox Day in which he blamed people NOT wanting to follow a dress code at work as also being a symptom of SJWs. Now you might think that was inconsistency on Vox’s part but it makes more sense (if not logical sense) if I add the fact that in the dress code case it was women that were complaining. The twist in the story is that you (i.e. the poor every-bloke on the HR diversity course) meets a charming successful looking man on the course. The story feels like it is about to go on a sort of bromance curve but it turns out this handsome chap is a hedge fund dude who monitors such courses (how exactly who knows) because by turning up at them he knows which companies are going bankrupt. Quite why he actually turns up in person, I don’t know. The key thing is this magic hedge fund guy uses such diversity training to spot which companies are going to fold and collapse. Gasp!
The story is followed by this claim:
“Whether you realize it or not, if you live in the West, you are currently engulfed in a civilization-wide cultural war that is taking place all around you. Maybe you’re aware of it, or maybe you’re not. It doesn’t matter. The cultural war is real and it is vicious. And unlike a traditional shooting war between different nations, in a cultural war there are no civilians.”
Oh that’s the old rhetoric, right? Don’t forget that this exact same ‘war’ analogy is how Vox Day framed his support for the actions of mass-murderer Anders Brevik.
A few years ago this story and analysis would appear to be hard to reconcile with the assumed beliefs of a rightwing commentator. Our assumptions (from the centre and the left) was that a conservative believes in market forces and hence the scenario in the story demonstrates self correction. Companies doing the wrong thing (in the conservative vision) go bankrupt thus making room for companies doing the right thing in a late Victorian parody of natural selection.
The error being of thinking of the extreme right as business-conservatives but more so. Fascism has no such faith in market economics – how can it when fascists believe in supposed strong men making strong decisions to shape the world. For decades there has been an ideological contradiction on the right between the faith in Adam Smith’s invisible hand and a more Nietzchean conception of decisive men being decisive. A failure to understand how central that concept is/was in rightwing thought is what makes it seem mysterious that supposed libertarians could morph so readily into crypto-Nazis but even a cursory look at Ayn Rand’s heroes reveals that adoration of the decisive man was always going to trump abstract ideas about quasi-alogrithmic processes. The fear of government and of regulation among the right has (aside from a few) always been a fear of the supposedly weak using democracy to manage the strong. This is a theme that consistently connects Vox Day’s supposed original ‘libertarianism’, his adoration of mass murderers, his “psychosexual hierarchy” (in which the chief enemy is the dreaded ‘gamma’) and even his feuds with the SFWA and Worldcon.
Chapter 2 is mainly crowing about Trump winning. Chapter 3 rambles all over the place about stuff, Colin Kaepernick, Vox’s new comics and the height of the late Jack Kirby.
Chapter 4 starts with a quote from John Stuart Mill and is about the dreaded “convergence” which again degenerates into anecdotes about news stories including another re-hash of Milo Yiannopolous being dis-invited to the Conservative Political Action Conference. Quite how SJWs were to blame for the right-on-right scandal that saw Yiannopolous sacked from alt-right media outlet Brietbart, Vox doesn’t really say. I guess it was a thing Vox found BAD and hence SJWs must have orchestrated it some how. Is the paranoid tone of this book an affectation or is it part of the author’s personality? I really can’t tell. It is like (and co-morbid with) the misogyny – does Vox really think women around him are all conspiring to achieve his downfall? I don’t know (although it wouldn’t surprise me if they were now as a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy) but it is such a consistent tell in his writing that I think it is reasonable to assume that is more than a cynical pretence and that there is something deep in his personality that sees women as such an existential threat to him that he maintains a whole extra blog just on how awful he think women and men who let women tell them what to do are. I guess his wife likes him and that’s probably how he rationalises that his words don’t sound like bad dialogue from a overly Freudian play about a man on the edge running away to be eaten by grizzly bears.
Skim, skim, Google, skim, Twitter again (the social media platform so terrible that Vox came crawling back to it after his tantrum at Gab), some band I haven’t heard of. The chapter was supposed to be about ‘convergence’ but it was just another list of complaints.
Chapter 5 – Rehash the last book again. We start with an anecdote about a megachurch in Minnesota with a magnificent minister and it’s decline. I’ll pick on this because Vox’s version of the story (which I assume is quasi-fictional based on past experience but which I haven’t fact checked) is such a clear example of how he perceives the world as discussed above.
“However, he retired in 1999, and as is so often the case when a strong leader retires, was succeeded by men who were considerably less capable of assuming the burden of leadership. In 2007, a woman by the name of Mindy Bak joined what had become a bloated 88-person staff, and with the help of other SJWs who had also infiltrated the church, managed to get herself appointed interim senior pastor in 2014 through a series of highly political machinations circumventing the traditionalists on the church’s Board of Elders.”
I.e. Vox’s ideal (a strong leader) departs and is replaced by a (gasp) woman and decline sets in. Note the space we are in. The default “SJW” Vox and friends like to denounce is a far leftwing radical feminist with a strong social justice ideology. However, the anecdotes and the constant warning of danger are not actual Doc Marten wearing, rainbow-coloured hair socialists living in a shared house and studying Intersectionality at college but rather people much closer to home to his readers. We (people reading this blog et al) may think of ourselves as SJWs but the typical ‘SJW’ of Vox’s anecdotes in this book and on his blog are people like:
- Pastors at evangelical christian churches promoting charity
- Office workers complaining about having to wear high heels
- Journalists at RIGHTWING media outlets not being rightwing enough
- Capitalist industries trying to maintain harmonious relations among staff
- Social media platforms trying not to loser users because of trolls
- Republican presidential candidates (no seriously – just wait)
Sometimes he’ll blame Jewish people and sometimes weak conservatives (not again ‘weakness’ being the unforgivable sin) and sometimes immigrants and often vague handwavey “SJWs” but more often than not the target is either women or men he deems insufficiently masculine. Now look, Freud’s theories are pseudoscience, so lets not descend into half-baked long-distance psychoanalysis but…damn, I really don’t think this is a cynical affectation on Vox’s part.
Did I mention that this chapter is called “The Convergence Sequence”. I guess I had assumed that previous chapter would be about that. Anyway this chapter is about how convergence happens (hint: women are all conspiring against Vox to get him). The previous chapter was “Convergence” so maybe chapter 4 was the first Chapter 5*
The convergence sequence, Vox claims, is this:
1. Infiltration. This is when women, oops sorry, “SJWs” join things and do work. Now you might think that would be both a good thing and inevitable that helpful, nice people predisposed to being helpful and nice would do things. This is bad though because then they’ll expect the think they joined to also be helpful and nice.
“SJWs are particularly drawn to HR in the corporate world and community management in the open source world, because these organizational roles tend to combine the two things that SJWs seek most, power over others and an absence of personal responsibility. They can also be found in volunteer roles; SJWs tend to have a lot of time on their hands and volunteering for the jobs that no one else wants to do is one of their favorite ways to make themselves appear indispensable to those who are in charge of the organization….
But if you want to identify the initial SJW in an organization, look for a longtime volunteer, usually female, who is quiet, selfless, well-regarded by everyone, and heavily relied upon by the leadership.”
See, I wasn’t being sarcastic earlier or even exaggerating. Note the key elements he sees as symptoms of being a “SJW” – not a tendency to quote Gramsci or use the term “intersectionality” or a hard to suppress desire to punch Nazis. Nope the key symptoms of Vox’s fear are:
- Being a woman (or ‘female’ as Vox says in what I presume is a Ferengi impression)
- Well-regarded by everyone
- Relied upon by leadership
I wonder if Vox ever reads the New Testament and if he does, does he shout “obvious SJW!” every so often.
“Don’t expect SJW infiltrators to be blue-haired, frothing-mad genderqueer activists with thick-framed eyeglasses.”
You see? I’m really not being sarcastic.
So there are some none-women examples of this kind of SJW infiltration that Vox provides:
“Sometimes the infiltration is incidental. SJWs need jobs just like anyone else, after all, and they are more than willing to exploit the well-known tendency of the average white employer to want to score affirmative action points or pick up a get-out-of-sexism-free card by hiring a woman, particularly for a job in a heavily male occupation. This inexplicable temptation to knowingly hire less-qualified candidates the employer knows will probably not fit in well with the existing employees is a form of what I think of as Republican Candidate Syndrome. The connection may not seem immediately apparent, but bear with me, since it actually makes sense.”
No, Vox, it doesn’t make sense except in as a symptom of worldview gone pathologically wrong. This paragraph is a set up for his next two examples of SJW infiltration: Ben Carson, Herman Kaine and Alan Keyes. Now I’ll concede that Vox has a point that each of these candidates really wasn’t suitable to be President of the United States but lets not forget that Vox genuinely thinks Donald Trump *is* suitable. So poor reasoning, confused ideas, and being temperamentally unfit for office aren’t why Vox sees these three men as SJW infiltrators. I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to identify what each of them have in common.
Anyway there are eight more stages after that but he sort of writes about each one less. I think he is getting bored himself at this point.
The good news is the more to write about in the next chapters including the predictable case of Vox mangling Aristotle and logic, a sustained whine about how Mary Robinette Kowal was mean to poor-old Vox, the nascent far right pseudo-science of r/K theory, and a reprise of Rabid Puppies. The bad news is it is still all awful.
*[This joke is mandatory]