Why do some of the most highly talented people resist the temptation of being granted status in exchange for serving the neoliberal program? Vladimir reintroduces this question:
[What] accounts for those rare smart individuals who are immune to this pressure? Some years ago you left a memorable comment on Moldbug’s blog that has stuck with me ever since, asking why e.g. Steve Sailer didn’t become a New York Times opinion writer, and Lawrence Auster an Ivy League professor. Both certainly had the talent and opportunity, but instead chose a life of comparable obscurity and low status just because the regular mode of rationalizing progressive dogma somehow doesn’t work with them.
Yes, I remember that thread. Off the cuff, it may help to assume that the kind of a person who doesn’t sell his talents cheaply doesn’t necessarily, fully choose his dissent. It chooses him.
The things that create the dissident can be prosaic, such as an inability to network. But I think there is the genuine Disgust Threshold element at play too. I explored that angle in a post titled Disgust, which features Zbigniew Herbert’s poem “The Power of Taste” in translation:
It did not require great character at all
our refusal our disagreement and resistance
we had the necessary shred of courage
but fundamentally it was a matter of taste
The power of the weak stomach: it doesn’t even have to be framed in the language of principle. My parents, for example, were upper middle class strivers in a 1960s/70s Poland but they refused to join the Party and they went to church, and both of those things complicated their careers. Later, as a teenager in the U.S., I asked my dad if he didn’t join the Communist Party because he didn’t wanna be a sellout and he shrugged that it wasn’t anything that melodramatic — rather, he said, being in the Party meant that you’d have to spend a lot of time making ridiculous speeches to rooms full of people you couldn’t stomach.
In grad school, I could have greased my way to what I thought of at the time as a promising academic career — I was a popular T.A. and tutor and fancied myself an “inspiring teacher” — but I couldn’t take portions of the syllabus seriously and naïvely, on multiple occasions I discussed my reservation with the profs. They got snippy. I jumped that ship.
An organization I once disaffiliated myself from was home to people I respect as well as to those high functioning, with-the-program progressives. Shitlib faces, as Heartiste calls them, are overrepresented among those featured on that org’s web site. The soft-smug smiles, the “thoughtful” hand-on-chin poses in their professional portraits, the bio statements frontloaded with lib-signaling.
Which things in our progressive utopia make you sick?
(Like a Degenerate: a NSFW parody of Lana Del Rey’s song.)