Justin Murphy’s “The Psychology of Prohibiting Outside Thinkers”
by Kevin Macdonald
HERE IS Justin Murphy describing his background, research, and activism:
Why is there not more rebellion against status quo institutions? How have economic and political processes pacified our capacity for radical collective action? As a political scientist, I am interested in the roles played by information, communication, and ideology in the pacification of political resistance and conflict. Before joining the faculty of Politics and IR at the University of Southampton in the UK, I did my PhD at Temple University in the US. There I was active in Occupy Wall Street, some civil disobedience and shutting down of things, some longer-term campaigns against the big U.S. banks, and sundry other works and deeds, including a radical warehouse project where I lived for nearly three years.
So Murphy is an academic on the left. He is therefore part of the establishment, a card-carrying member of the institutional structure that dominates intellectual discourse in the West. But, unlike the vast majority of his academic brethren, he is quite aware that the left is now the status quo and that it is doing everything it can to preserve its elite status — and that its self-preserving tactics are at base nothing more than irrational assertions of power and privilege. Murphy makes these claims in a blogpost: “The psychology of prohibiting outside thinkers.” Part of the subtitle says it all: “The real motivation of respectable progressivism is managing guilty conscience and conserving bourgeois privileges.”
What’s so refreshing about this is that instead of “exclud[ing] independent right-wing intellectual work on moral grounds,” he would actually “enjoy thinking” with intellectuals on the right. Indeed, moral indictments have become the stock in trade of establishment intellectuals — as noted in my three-part “Moralism and Moral Arguments in the War for Western Survival.” Moral condemnations are easy. No intellectual heavy lifting required. All one need do is appeal to conventional moral intuitions as shaped by the same institutions that are now the status quo — the media and academic culture. As I note, those who dissent from the status quo are “not only misguided, [they are] malevolent … consumed by hatred, anger and fear towards non-Whites, gays, women and the entire victim class pantheon, or so goes the stereotype And that’s the problem. Being cast as evil means you are outside the moral community. There’s no need to talk with you, no need to be fair, or even worry about your safety. You are like an outlaw in Old Norse society — ‘a person [who] lost all of his or her civil rights and could be killed on sight without any legal repercussions.’”
Back to Murphy:
Very simply, [“institutional intellectuals”] are imposing a cordon sanitaire that is instrumentally necessary to the continuation of their unjustified intellectual privileges in the institutional order. I am increasingly convinced there is simply no other public function to this political repetition compulsion. The reason this is important, from the left, is that this cordon sanitaire is straightforwardly a mechanism to conserve the status quo, everything progressives pretend to be interested in overthrowing. This is why neo-reactionary intellectuals speak of the status quo political order as dominated by a left-progressive “Cathedral.” …
The religious analogy is quite apt. Like moral pronouncements, religious dogmas are not refutable and need not be justified empirically. They are nothing more than intellectually shoddy ex Cathedra pronouncements that take advantage of a pre-existing intellectual consensus.
First, it seems to be a fact that the genuinely intellectual wings of the alt-right or neo-reaction (NRx) or whatever you want to call it, are probably too intelligent and sophisticated for bourgeois intellectual workers to engage with, let alone compete with. … So if those essays are actually pretty smart and a legitimate challenge to your institutional authority as a credentialed intellectual — you are functionally required to close ranks, if only with a silent agreement to not engage.
Now, as soon as anyone from this non-institutional world produces effects within the institutional orbit, it is actually a really serious survival reflex for all institutionally privileged intellectuals to play the morality card (“no platform!”). If all these strange, outside autodidacts are actually smart and independently producing high-level intellectual content you don’t have the time to even understand, let alone defeat or otherwise control, this is an existential threat to your entire livelihood. Because all of your personal identity, your status, and your salary, is based directly on your credentialed, legitimated membership card giving your writings and pontifications an officially sanctioned power and authority. If that door is opened even a crack by non-credentialed outsiders, the whole jig is up for the respectable bourgeois monopoly on the official intellectual organs of society.
This comment really strikes home with me. I wrote three books on Judaism from an evolutionary perspective, the first of which was reviewed positively in academic journals; the second was less widely reviewed, and the third was basically ignored apart from a favorable review by Frank Salter in the Human Ethology Bulletin. Instead I was subjected to a vicious witch hunt spearheaded by the SPLC, joined by a great many of the faculty in the College of Liberal Arts, especially the Jewish faculty. In all of the exchanges on faculty email lists there was never any attempt to deal with the academic soundness of these books. Labels like “anti-Semitic” sufficed. So now, nearly 20 years after publication, Culture of Critique remains ignored by the academic establishment even as it gains traction on the Alt Right.
The same can be said about Murray’s The Bell Curve. It is referenced at times but almost always with the adjective ‘discredited’ even though the data are rock solid. I know a liberal academic who commented, “I don’t have to read Mein Kampf to know it is evil. Same with The Bell Curve.”
An interesting question is, because respectable intellectuals are often pretty smart and capable, why are they so fearful of outside intellectual projects, even if they are as evil as some fear? They are smart and capable intellectuals, so you’d think they would embrace some interesting challenge as an opportunity for productive contestation. Why don’t they? Well, here’s where the reality gets ugly. The reason respectable intellectuals so instinctively close ranks around the moral exclusion of NRx intellectuals is that currently working, respectable intellectuals privately know that the intellectual compromises they have made to secure their respectability and careers has rendered most of their life’s work sadly and vulnerably low-quality.
I suspect this is quite true. There is a replication crisis centering on psychology and particularly in social psychology, the most blatantly politicized field within psychology. This is my summary of Prof. Jonathan Haidt’s comments on the topic:
when scholarly articles that contravene the sacred values of the tribe are submitted to academic journals, reviewers and editors suddenly become super rigorous. More controls are needed, and more subjects. It’s not a representative sample, and the statistical techniques are inadequate. This use of scientific rigor against theories that are disliked for deeper reasons is a theme of Chapter 2 of The Culture of Critique where it was also noted that standards were quite lax when it came to data that fit the leftist zeitgeist.
Whole areas of education and sociology doubtless have similar problems. For example, in education, there have been decades of studies “discovering” panaceas for the Black-White academic achievement gap — without any success. But, as Prof. Ray Wolters notes (“Why Education Reform Failed,” The Occidental Quarterly [Spring, 2016]), hope springs eternal because there are always new wrinkles to try. Fundamentally the field fails to deal with IQ or with genetic influences on IQ and academic performance.
The same is likely true of huge swaths of the humanities where verbal brilliance, post-modern lack of logic and rigor, and leftist politics have created wonderlands of inanity. All this would be swept away if the outsiders triumphed. I strongly suggest following @RealPeerReview on Twitter to get a feeling for what is now going on in academia. Remember, these people are getting jobs and students are paying exorbitant tuition to hear them lecture.
To convince status-quo cultural money dispensers to give you a grant, for instance, any currently “successful” academic or artist has to so extensively pepper their proposal with patently stupid words and notions that knowingly make the final result a sad, contorted piece of work 80% of which is bent to the flattery of our overlords. But we falsely rationalize this contortion as “mature discipline” which we then rationalize to be the warrant for our privileged status as legitimate intellectuals.
And then, twisting the knife:
Because we know deep down inside that our life’s work is only half of what it could have been had we the courage to not ask for permission, if there ever arise people who are doing high-level intellectual work on the outside, exactly as they wish to without anyone’s permission or money, then not only are we naturally resentful, but we secretly know that at least some of these outsiders are likely doing more interesting, more valuable, more radically incisive work than we are, because we secretly know that we earn our salary by agreeing to only say half of what we could.
Can’t think of a better way to end it. What is really incredibly pathetic is that really challenging this regime from within the academic world is vanishingly rare. Or perhaps it’s not so surprising given the above. But what happened to all that idealism that young scholars have when they really get interested in a field? Why don’t professors in evolutionary science, who know well how natural selection works when there is an invasive species or sub-species — why don’t these White people become vocal opponents of the current multicultural zeitgeist that is actively selecting against European genes? How can they just watch or even applaud the demise of their own people?
This for me is the hardest to understand. Careerism over their obvious genetic/evolutionary interests.
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Source: Unz Review