Herd immunity from common sense is the fundamental characteristic of the left

Talking to friends on the left (actually they are almost entirely my wife’s friends) never fails to astonish me about how lock-step they all are with whatever happens to be the latest ideological fashion statement of the moment. I am often taken by surprise since it is often difficult to keep up with the what beliefs are in or out, but it only requires a conversation with any one of them and I find myself right up to date.

It reminded me of one of my favourite books of my youth, The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndam. I read every one of his books when I was a young lad, the most famous being The Day of the Triffids. All of Wyndam’s books are astonishing reads and it seems all are still in print. But the Midwich Cuckoos remains the one I have loved the most, and strangely seems absolutely relevant to understanding the mentality on the left side of politics. I will describe the plot but from the movie made from the book, Village of the Damned (1960 film). The book is better, an absolute page turner. From these plot details of the film you will see how relevant the book is to the mind-numbing sameness of the belief structures on the left. I have left out anything that might give the plot and ending away in the following which is mainly done to show how accurately the book describes the modern left.

The inhabitants of the British village of Midwich suddenly fall unconscious, as does anyone entering the village. Two months later, all women and girls of child-bearing age in the affected area are discovered to be pregnant. All the women give birth on the same day. Their children have a powerful telepathic bond with one another. They can communicate with each other over great distances, and as one learns something, so do the others.

At age three, the children dress impeccably, always walk as a group, speak in an adult manner, and behave maturely, but show no conscience or love, and demonstrate a coldness to others, causing the villagers to fear and be repulsed by them. The children begin to exhibit the power to read minds and to force people to do things against their will. Zellaby, whose “son” David is one of the children, is eager to work with them. Zellaby compares the children’s resistance to reasoning with a brick wall and uses this motif as self-protection against their mind reading after the children’s inhuman nature becomes clear to him.

It may even be that Wyndam wrote the book as a caricature of the mentality on the left in his own time, published as it was in the midst of the cold war (1957). Whether or not that was his intention, it certainly fits the mould today.

Advice on how to pass the time

While we are home maintaining our social distances, there is advice being given on how to occupy yourself in a more cultured sort of way. There is, firstly, this: You Can Now Tour 2,500 World-Famous Museums From the Comfort of Your Own Sofa. Since even if we could leave the house we are unlikely to fly anywhere for a bit, this might help to fill in for not actually being able to climb the Acropolis.

There is then this: Jordan Peterson’s list of Great Books. Starts with Stendahl’s Charterhouse of Parma. The list reminds me of one of the truly great books I have read: How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read. It divides books into those you have not read, books you have perused, and finally books you have forgotten. The Charterhouse of Parma is in that third category for me, as is Le Rouge et le Noir. I saw a copy of The Carpetbaggers for $2 the other day which is definitely a book I have forgotten. Picked it up and opened just somewhere and while I knew who the characters were, the specific part of the story had utterly evaporated.

Reminds me of a joke my blesséd mother told me many years ago.

How do you keep an Englishman happy in his old age?

Tell him jokes when he’s young.

I hope I don’t get reported to the HRC.

The Invisible Woman

The first thing you have to know about the film is that the star of this latest version of The Invisible Man is a woman, Elizabeth Moss. I might also mention this from her Wikipedia entry.

Moss identifies as a… feminist. After a fan questioned whether her role in the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale etc etc etc.”

Starred in The Handmaid’s Tale and is personally a committed feminist. OK, could happen to anyone. And this, in a nut shell, is the way the story opens.

The Invisible Man is a 2020 science fiction horror film written and directed by Leigh Whannell. A contemporary adaptation of the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells and a reboot of The Invisible Man film series, it follows a woman who believes she is being stalked by her abusive partner, despite him apparently having died.

Now for the spoilers so back off unless you’ve seen the film or don’t care.

Let me first go through the plot outlined at the link with my own additions:

Trapped [in what way exactly?] in a violent, controlling relationship [asserted but at no stage demonstrated] with wealthy scientist Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer), their childhood friend James, a police detective, (Aldis Hodge) and his teenage daughter Sydney (Storm Reid). Adrian later commits suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, but a series of bizarre events leads Cecilia to suspect his death was a hoax. As these eerie coincidences turn lethal, threatening the lives of those she loves, Cecilia’s sanity begins to unravel as she desperately tries to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see [are we to assume that each of the visits by an invisible presence are merely a manifestation of her madness or are they genuine events? Either Adrian has an invisibility machine, in which case she can use it herself later on, or he doesn’t. Which is it?]. She visits Adrian’s home to investigate and discovers a suit that uses cameras to render the wearer invisible [which somehow is able to be assembled elsewhere, such as in the parking lot of a hospital]. She takes it and hides it in the house before escaping as she continues to be followed by who she believes to be Adrian. When Cecilia attempts to tell her sister about the suit, Adrian cuts Emily’s throat in a packed restaurant [who is completely invisible to everyone else in that packed restaurant], making it look like Cecilia committed the crime.

Remanded to a treatment center while she awaits trial, Cecilia is informed by the medical staff that she is pregnant. Adrian’s brother Tom (Michael Dorman) visits her and offers to help her if she agrees to return to Adrian and raise their child together [an obvious sign of a brutal hateful nature], acknowledging that he helped his brother stage his suicide. Cecilia refuses his offer but manages to steal a pen from his briefcase, which she uses later to stab Adrian while he is lurking in her room. This causes his suit to malfunction and flicker in and out of visibility, drawing the attention of security. Adrian is able to violently incapacitate the security staff as he flees the building, but Cecilia follows him and attempts to kill him with a security guard’s gun [The invisibility suit nevertheless continues to work well enough most of the time]. Adrian subdues her and admits that he won’t harm her while she is pregnant, but makes clear he plans to kill Sydney instead.

Cecilia races to James’ house and ends up shooting and killing an invisible intruder [it really works], although she unmasks him and finds Tom in the suit. When police find Adrian alive at his house, claiming that he was his brother’s captive all along, Cecilia realizes that Adrian sent Tom to James’ house in his place, knowing what would happen. In an attempt to get Adrian to admit to his role, she meets him for dinner at his home to discuss her pregnancy, but Adrian denies any involvement [presumably lying if the plot is to work, but what evidence is there?]  Knowing she’ll never be safe as long as he is alive, Cecilia equips herself with a spare invisible suit and cuts Adrian’s throat in full view of a security camera, making it seem as if he committed suicide [in which case she must, while invisible, put a knife into his hand and then have him draw the blade across his throat].

James, who was nearby overviewing the scene with a radio, asks Cecilia what happened. She assures him that Adrian indeed committed suicide. Despite spotting the invisible suit in her handbag, he accepts her story [not even a bit sceptical?].

Let me add a little to fill in some of the gaps.

First, the abusive relationship has to be taken on trust. The film opens with Ms Moss in the most astonishing palatial home, overlooking the ocean, as they lie in bed with her husband reaching across his sleeping wife in a night-time embrace. She, however, removes his hand, slips out of the bed, gets past all of the security devices that exist throughout the house on the way to the exit, and once free is almost overtaken by her husband who breaks the glass of the car in his rage as she is driving off. Since she was completely able to walk out of the house in the middle of the night, there was no need for this melodramatic 3:00 am escape. Why not? Could be.

Next we see her living in terror of her husband at the home of a policeman friend and his daughter (who by the way sleeps with Moss to help relieve her anxiety). Moss is totally in fear that her husband will come back and in some way harm her. She is then informed that her husband had died by his own hand, and not only that, had left her something absurd like $10,000,000. Why not? Could be.

But as the plot moves along we find Ms Moss being terrorised by some invisible person. We see these events on the screen. There really is an invisible person, who has a reality for her but whose existence is known to others only because she keeps telling everyone that she is being stalked by her dead husband, who so far as everyone else is concerned is dead. Indeed we even see photos of the scene of the husband’s quite gory death although apparently staged but so well that even the coroner is taken in. She nevertheless insists that her dead husband is stalking her, and there are numerous scenes where Ms Moss is just there when this invisible presence forces her to do evil things, such as cut her own sister’s throat while they are sitting together in a restaurant, or perhaps it was The Invisible Male who had done it while she just sat there. Either way, ridiculous.

Thus, as you are watching the film, you can take Ms Moss’s side and believe that her husband is such an incredible genius, has invented some means to make himself invisible that absolutely no one has ever heard of before and is using this device to stalk his wife through all kinds of menacing moments which occur before us right through the film. Or we can believe her husband really is dead, and that she is completely nuts and the moving is allowing us to experience her hallucinations. To the audience, the plot depends on the existence of an invisibility machine. Why not? Could be. Actually, couldn’t be, but let us go on.

There is then one plot device after another, which at one stage takes her back to her matrimonial home. There she discovers, inside this mansion, the invisibility device after yet again getting into a fight with her invisible husband. How she knows it is what it is who can explain, but she does. Personally, why he doesn’t just despatch her I could not work out. For my taste, she wasn’t worth the effort to keep the marriage together, but that’s just me. Nor once she had left was there much reason either to have her back or to seek such an elaborate revenge. Still, it was handy for him to have invented this invisibility machine but never have mentioned it to his wife, nor anyone else.

Then there is a fight in the madhouse hospital Ms. Moss has been taken to after murdering her sister in which Mr Invisible Man shoots a number of people to death, but then inexplicably to me, does not shoot others to death that he might have, and more stupidly still, allows others to discover that there really is someone with a device that really can make themselves invisible.

Finale, her husband turns out to be alive after all but had been locked away in some storage shack. It tuns out that the man who has been invisible is her husband’s brother, the lawyer. We find this out because when Mr Invisible is shot and killed, that is who has died. Ms Moss then has a dinner with her husband for whom there is no now no evidence whatsoever that he has done anything wrong at any stage. While sitting down to dinner, she is wired for sound with her policeman friend listening in. Throughout the dinner her husband continually insists that he loves her. He never says otherwise, nor is there any reason for the audience to think otherwise. In the midst of dinner she excuses herself to go the the ladies, and while she is out of the room, for reasons unknown, the husband grabs a knife and slashes his own throat and dies. The policeman friend is listening in to all this while the events are being videoed on the security camera – a clear suicide so far as the camera can see. Hearing all of the commotion through the wire, the policeman rushes into the house, meeting as she is on her way out, a very self-satisfied, smiling and much contented Ms Moss who walks past him, and mirabile dictu, she is carrying an invisibility device in her bag. The policeman friend is puzzled, but we in the audience can see that she has been at the centre of a very successful murder plot to kill her husband. By film end, there is not a shred of evidence that her husband was in any way a villain who has ever been out to kill her. She, of course, is a few million dollars richer and is free of her husband and his terrible control over her life.

All the women I have spoken to about the story are completely satisfied with the story, how it evolves and how it ends. On no evidence whatsoever shown in the film, she was escaping from an abusive “controlling” relationship, the film even using the word. If there is evidence of bad intentions towards his wife, they occur only after she has left and he starts his ultra-ultra-high-tech revenge which in any case seems to have been undertaken by the brother. Having now discovered the technology, she has commandeered the device which she uses on her husband who continually insists that he loves her, and will say nothing else while they are having dinner together, although they, so far as he is aware, are absolutely alone and no one can hear what is being said.

For myself, this was a film I was not able to see its moral centre until it turned out that Ms. Moss was a vengeful murderess but only I seem to think this is what takes place. But that would be completely against the spirit of our times, I thought, to make a woman a villain. But all the women I have since spoken to loved the film, since they found the murder of her husband by his wife completely satisfying and justified. He got what he deserved. As explained to me, don’t I think there are such things as oppressive husbands? Of course there are, but why do they think this one in the film is one such husband? That is a complete unknown to me.

If you ask me we live in a very emotionally damaged society, with this one of the most depraved films I have ever seen. This is modern feminist literature, as with The Handmaiden’s Tale, where women are portrayed as living in a world of control and repression when in fact, as in the film, they live the freest most luxurious lives, and as in this case, a life entirely financed by her husband, since once she is on her own, she just sits around the house, and in the only activity we actually see her involved with, in the kitchen, cooking. She apparently does nothing on her own to finance her life style.

A very political film, absolutely crazy to its very core. No man can take it seriously, and given how sparse the audience was, not all that many women can either. Or perhaps they do. Rotten Tomatoes gave it 90% from Critics and 89% from the audience. IMDb gave it a more sane 7.7. Will just finish with the last para of this review by someone named Jennifer Heaton.

The Invisible Man is a perfect blend of high-concept and grounded horror, tapping into the zeitgeist and delivering a haunting parable about psychological abuse. Whilst undeniably a horror film at its core, it also transcends the genre to the point where non-horror fans will find something to enjoy. Whilst it certainly doesn’t linger on Universal’s past mistakes, its success proves that you don’t need gigantic budgets, a shared universe or celebrity stunt casting to reinvent the Universal Monsters brand. Though perhaps not as ingenious or revolutionary a take as, say, Jordan Peele’s recent output, it is still a brilliant testament to how the best horror takes our real-life anxieties and warps them into debilitating nightmares. Heed the trigger warnings beforehand, but absolutely go see it if you can!

The Universal Monsters brand! We live in such idiotic times. Are married women everywhere really plotting to get out?

The most decadent show I have ever seen

Went to see on the weekend the most decadent show I have ever seen, a show so decadent it could only be seen in an upstairs back alley setting far far from the public eye. Actually, just kidding. It was the musical Chicago which has been playing to rapturous full houses at the Playhouse in Melbourne. Tell me what you think of the plot which is taken directly from Wikipedia: Chicago (musical). These bits are from Act I.

Velma Kelly is a vaudevillian who welcomes the audience to tonight’s show (“All That Jazz”). Interplayed with the opening number, the scene cuts to February 14, 1928 in the bedroom of chorus girl Roxie Hart, where she murders Fred Casely as he attempts to break off an affair with her.

None of this is ambiguous. Roxie, on stage and before the audience, murders Fred in cold blood for the reason given. Most of the rest of the plot revolves around the efforts made by Roxie’s lawyer to have her acquitted, both before the courts and before the public as filtered through the media presentation of the facts and circumstance. These are the relevant bits from Act II.

  • Velma returns to introduce the opening act, resentful of Roxie’s manipulation of the system and ability to seduce a doctor into saying Roxie is pregnant; as Roxie emerges, she sings gleefully of the future of her unborn (nonexistent) child.
  • Billy, Roxie’s lawyer, exposes holes in Roxie’s story by noting that she and Amos (Roxie’s husband) had not had sex in four months, meaning if she were pregnant, the child was not Amos’s, in hopes that Amos will divorce her and look like a villain, which Amos almost does.
  • The trial date arrives. Billy calms Roxie by suggesting she will be fine so long as she makes a show of the trial.
  • As promised, Billy gets Roxie acquitted.
  • Amos (her husband) tries to get Roxie to come home. She admits she isn’t pregnant, leaving Amos.

Indeed, as we all know, Chicago has had quite an illustrious history.

The original Broadway production opened in 1975 at the 46th Street Theatre and ran for 936 performances, until 1977. Bob Fosse choreographed the original production, and his style is strongly identified with the show. It debuted in the West End in 1979, where it ran for 600 performances. Chicago was revived on Broadway in 1996, and a year later in the West End.

The 1996 Broadway production holds the record as the longest-running musical revival and the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. It is the second longest-running show to ever run on Broadway, behind only The Phantom of the OperaChicago surpassed Cats on November 23, 2014, when it played its 7,486th performance. The West End revival became the longest-running American musical in West End history. Chicago has been staged in numerous productions around the world, and has toured extensively in the United States and United Kingdom. The 2002 film version of the musical won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Great music of course. About a married woman who shoots her lover [not her husband] to death because he wants to leave her, and then through the sleazy actions of her lawyer, and in particular through his ability to manipulate the press, gets her off. Having been acquitted, she ditches her husband who still loves his wife. Based on a play also titled Chicago first produced in 1926 when things were obviously very different from today. Some further details:

The play was adapted as the 1927 film Chicago, then as the 1942 film Roxie Hart, and the 1975 stage musical Chicago, which in turn was adapted as the 2002 film Chicago.

You can watch the silent film version in full at the above link. Worth every minute if for no other reason than to see how the morality of our world has changed since 1927. You can also watch the the 1942 version at the above link. We are more like 1942, starring Ginger Rogers, a comedy from end to end with a very very different kind of ending.

As for Bob Fosse who wrote the book and choreographed Chicago for the stage:

He is the only person ever to have won OscarEmmy, and Tony awards in the same year (1973)

There has, of course, been a petition circulated far and wide to have Fosse’s Oscar, Emmy and Tony Awards taken from him.

The deep state discussed before the rest of us found out

On the very first page of a book written by one of my favourite and among the most insightful authors on politics I know, Sheldon Wolin, in his Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism published in 2008, eight years before Donald Trump was elected President, there is this quote at the very top of the page and on its own, which is designed to set the scene:

Robert S. Mueller III [director of the FBI] and Secretary of State Powell read from the Bible. Mr Mueller’s theme was good versus evil. “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of the present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,” he said, reading from Ephesians 6:12-18. (Wolin 2008: 4 – parentheses in the original]

This was taken from an article in The New York Times published on September 12, 2003, page A-19. And in the preface, Wolin helps explain the point of the book and the reason for quoting Mueller.

The concept of totalitarianism is central to what follows…. References to Hitler’s Germany are introduced to remind the reader of the benchmarks in a system of power that was invasive abroad, justified preemptive war as a matter of official doctrine, and repressed all opposition at home – a system that was racist in principle and practice, deeply ideological, and openly bent on world domination. Those benchmarks are introduce to illuminate tendencies in our own system of power that are opposed to the fundamental principles of constitutional democracy. Those tendencies are, I believe, totalizing in the sense that they are obsessed with control, expansion, superiority, and supremacy.” (Wolin 2008: xvii)

It is exactly this that Donald Trump has exposed.

[In previous forms of totalitarian societies] the revolutionaries gained the leverage necessary to reconstruct, then mobilize society. In contrast, inverted totalitarianism is only in part a state-centered phenomenon. Primarily it represents the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry. (Wolen xvii-xviii)

As with anything like this, even if he has exactly explained what we see, no one will care. But it is interesting all the same to have found this already in print so long before we see it exposed in the way it has now been.

“Police interrogated me about my Justin Trudeau book. They didn’t know I videotaped it”

That’s Ezra Levant. You would think Trudeau and company would be embarrassed by all this, that the entire country should be embarrassed, but there you are. It is only our historic constitutional rights that preserve our freedom just out of habit, if not conviction. If you do not value Ezra and worry about what you see, YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

Via Powerline.

Donald Trump will speak on behalf of Delta House

This was picked up from Steve Hayward at Powerline: TRUMP VERSUS DEAN WORMER. He writes:

Trump as head of Delta House is actually a lot more accurate than the people who did this parody may realize. And I expect his second inaugural parade might resemble the Animal House version, too, as he ramrods the Deep State lined up on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue.

A bit too premature for me to be picking the result of the election in November, but why not be an optimist? And if you are not familiar with this scene from the greatest movie of my generation (well not quite), here it is.

Learned ignorance page after page

Went into a bookshop today and went to the politics section and this was a part of the selection of what I found. There must have been around a dozen books on American politics, that were all were desperately anti-Trump and with many of them turned towards us potential readers to ensure we saw what there was.

Nothing will apparently educate the “educated”. Their ignorance is invincible. Their shallowness knows no depths. The incapacity to learn from actual real world experience is capacious. It is truly frightening how much they don’t know about so much, but worse, the extent to which they will close their ears and eyes to alternatives.

I find it the same in discussing economics with many of these so-called experts. The American economy may never have prospered as it now is. Jobs numbers are increasing while real wages at the bottom of the income distribution are rising for the first time in decades.

PDT foreign policy is another area where one success follows another. I am sickened at the thought that Iran could just blow an airliner out of the sky. Seriously, whose side are they on? It’s not yours.

Hayek was a John Stuart Mill classical liberal

This is an exceptionally interesting article, that needs to be considered among us on the right side of the political ledger: F.A. Hayek & Social Justice: A Missed Opportunity and a Challenge. They argue that Hayek’s views were left incomplete, but what’s worth, because they do not conform to some commonly accepted modern version of conservative thought, Hayek is being abandoned by those who ought to turn to him for sound advice. Start here which is where the authors start with a critique of Hayek by Professor Edward Feser:

Dr. Feser argues, of “economism”:

This subjectivism about value has great utility when our focus is merely on satisfying the material needs and wants people actually happen to have. Hayek’s purely procedural conception of just action, however, effectively treats value subjectivism as a completely general principle of social organization. The rules that govern capitalist societies must not treat any of the diverse ends people happen to have as objectively better or worse than any other. To acknowledge that there is some objective fact of the matter about what people ought to want, or some standard of value independent of the market, would open the door to justifying interference with the choices of economic actors, and thereby destroy the price mechanism.

This is the point that Professor Feser makes which I happen to agree with:

This subjectivism, Dr. Feser contends, is an acid that will eat away at capitalism itself: “If there is no standard of good apart from what people happen to want, how can Hayek complain if what they happen to want is an egalitarian redistribution of wealth, or freedom from religion and traditional family arrangements?”

But this was no more Hayek’s position than it was John Stuart Mill’s. It is the modern libertarian position as best I understand it, but it is not the view of we classical liberals. I think this is an absolutely valid criticism.

This is what they conclude from the book they are discussing:

Hayek does not have an “objective notion of the good as such” when it comes to the substance of a society (or at least a large and complex society). But it is not clear he was entirely subjective about justice or even that he would necessarily limit it to the personal sphere. Even with regard to the distribution of goods, he is not averse to the idea that there are “smaller scale orders in which it is possible to distribute goods on the basis of various interpretations of justice, taking into account effort and need.” They argue that Hayek did have a conception of an objective nature to justice in the personal and even business realm, explaining, for instance, how “an employer should determine employees’ wages according to known and intelligible rules and that it should be seen that all employees receive what is due to them.

That could just as easily have been said by Mill. There are no absolute criteria available from any source that will lay down what the answers to these issues is, but must emerge through a process of trial and error as events are examined over time and in different circumstances. Freedom sits at one pole and justice at the other, but these are only words until attempts are made to transform such ideas into practice. What the authors see as “the Great Forgetting” which they blame on Hayek’s “incompleteness” is their own failing because they see the answers in some libertarian set of principles which Hayek did not accept.