The Authoritarian Personality by the Frankfurt School figure Theodor Adorno was a milestone in the medicalization of dissent, aside from considerably more aggressive efforts in the Soviet Union where Communists like him had unlimited power. The dreadfully boring book was presented as a psychological treatise, wrapped in the cloak of science. It contained some quizzes measuring various politically incorrect attitudes, particularly about Jews, Blacks, foreigners, and even “zootsuiters”. The survey results were presented along with much Freudian commentary. It was four decades before “political correctness” acquired its present ironic sense, but this is one of the places where the original cultural Marxists were codifying the basics as early as 1950.
Its theme is that there’s something wrong with people who have those opinions. Calling someone crazy is a clever end run around actually having to debate their ideas. The book alleges that these views result from neurosis. It makes heavy use of Freudian catch-all stuff like repressed homosexuality and Daddy issues. In fact, it’s so obsessively overdone that it seems like Adorno himself was a “closet case” who got too many spankings as a child.
This implies that it’s impossible that politically incorrect opinions might be reasoned perspectives. Likewise, it dismisses the possibility that they result from any personal experience with multicultural conflicts, like bad behavior by the “vibrant” groups themselves. (The Frankfurt School itself is a prime example of bad behavior; subverting the country that sheltered them during WWII constitutes epic ingratitude.) The book’s message is that rightists are crazy and leftists are well-adjusted; QED.
All told, this was part of the Frankfurt School shtick of shouting down opponents. Debate is hard work, but cheating is easy! Herbert Marcuse’s Repressive Tolerance was another example, where he built a leftist case for censorship. That directly opposed freedom of speech, the greatest triumph of classical liberalism. (I can see why Pinochet got impatient with characters like that.) Anyway, modern political correctness doesn’t even need these justifications any more; it’s more like “I don’t care about the facts, and I don’t care if you’re right; you just can’t say that!”
I can remark about nutty leftists, of course, but I’ll also explain why they’re wrong. Even so, Adorno’s efforts went well beyond the usual argumentum ad hominem tactics. Under the mantle of scholarly authority, he reframed opinions he didn’t like as pathology, convinced people to take that notion seriously, and got it into college classes as a required textbook. Over three decades after its publication, it was used at my alma mater in sociology classes, and probably still is there and at other universities.
The F-scale was the most famous of the book’s quizzes. Adorno ripped off the basic concept from a rather obscure 1938 paper by the psychologist Erich Rudolf Jaensch, “Der Gegentypus: psychologisch-anthropologische Grundlagen deutscher Kulturphilosophie, ausgehend von dem was wir überwinden wollen”. According to the original idea, the confident, resolute, and decisive “J-type” personality is someone who Jaensch would’ve considered an upstanding citizen. Meanwhile, the wishy-washy “S-type” was someone whose mind was so open that his brains fell out, possibly muddle-headed enough to hear colors. That type Jaensch considered characteristic of Communists and other undesirables. Okay, so that was a cheap shot.
Adorno didn’t bother to cite Jaensch. The closest he came to crediting him for the idea was to scold him tediously a couple times. (That was rather petty.) For a brief excerpt:
It is this motive which has been stressed particularly by Allport (9); and Boder has demonstrated in great detail in his study of “Nazi Science” the interconnections of psychological pro et contra schemes, the repressive function of categories such as Jaensch’s “Gegentypus” and the arbitrary manipulation of empirical findings (47).
Did I mention that this stuff is dreadfully boring? Consider it “The Banality of Cultural Marxism” if you will. Also note well, The Authoritarian Personality engages in much repressive categorization and fuzzy science itself.
For the “F-scale” quiz, he inverted Jaensch’s original idea, the same cheap shot but in reverse. Still, Adorno added to the concepts here and there. For example, other Fascist traits might include:
Growing up in a traditional family with a strong father;
Being concerned about morality; and
Irrationality (that’s way subtle, Comrade Adorno.)
Anyway, apparently I’m not a good Fascist because I understand the logical bifurcation fallacy and don’t believe in astrology. According to The Authoritarian Personality, someone too decisive, patriotic, manly, etc. is a dangerous no-goodnik. Meanwhile, Adorno promoted the idea that being a pussy is good. That’s pure, 24-karat Frankfurt School for you right there.
Consider all this an early forerunner of the “toxic masculinity” baloney being thrown around today. The cultural Marxists of today have gotten a little bolder with it. Those smart intellectuals in academia have declared that being masculine, a normative male trait, is something bad – toxic even! It’s still the same message: to be virtuous, you have to be a politically correct soy boy who couldn’t punch his way out of a wet paper bag. Wimps of the world, unite!
To a large degree, success in the dating arena simply comes from not doing anything wrong. It’s a little more complicated than that, since there are countless mistakes to avoid, but practice makes perfect. I’d like to point out a very common mistake by women in today’s society that certainly will hurt their chances. The following two examples are from chubby women who unfortunately have to struggle more, but really this is a universal observation.
Online dating isn’t working, daygame isn’t working
The first example came from a dating forum for BBWs. The original poster was asking for tips on how to meet guys. She’d tried a number of dating sites and apps already. (I’d like to add that online dating is a sausage fest. If a woman is finding it hard to hook up online, indeed something must be going wrong.) Also, guys were never approaching her in public. The few online contacts she gets seem only to want hookups. Other than that, conversations fizzled out, and it was a frustrating experience.
The first reply was a brief note of encouragement, stating that this forum was the right place. He indicated he hoped she’d find success. Then he stated that the forum should be positive overall, where she could expand her horizons, and encounter new experiences. He wished her luck and used the endearing term “baby”.
To that welcoming and positive message, she wrote an absolutely scathing reply because he used the word “baby”. It’s quite clear that he wasn’t doing so disrespectfully, but her feminist programming made her think he was. Later, her reply got deleted, either by her or by the moderator.
What are we to make of this? It seems that being overweight is the least of her worries! If that’s how she acts online, that’s probably how she behaves in public too. Who in his right mind would want to deal with an attitude like that?
As for the few guys she does find, it’s understandable that she’s disappointed that all they want is sex. Still, if that’s the only value that she’s bringing to the table, then what else can be expected? If she wants an enduring relationship, that requires an endearing personality which someone will want to be around on a daily basis. There’s more, but I’ll save that for another article.
How not to win a guy’s heart
Here’s another example from a social media post. The text might be a little hard to read, so I’ll put it here, along with my commentary (of course). This one is pretty bad – it’s full of feminist bellyaching, which is highly unattractive – but I’ll do my best to be constructive. It begins with the title:
“Why you are obligated to find me fucking attractive”
David Deangelo said it best with his tagline (and book title) “Attraction isn’t a choice”. If I listed the reasons why a hoped-for girlfriend should be turned on by me, and presented them to her with the most brilliant and flawless logic, that would be a Blue Pill game mistake on my part. If instead I ordered her to be attracted to me, well, let’s just say that would fail much worse. That’s just not how attraction works.
“Because girls who looked like me as a little girl are dieting. DIETING. There are 10 year olds eating fucking salads and lean protein.”
Not to put too fine a point on it, if they keep it up, they won’t end up looking like Honey Boo Boo.
“Because I am an amazing fucking person, not in spite of my weight and gender but BECAUSE OF IT.”
I hate to sound like Bill Clinton here, but I feel her pain. I’ve had my struggles too, so I understand where she’s coming from. Still, rather than shaking my fist at the world, I took another approach and got better.
“Because you, as a cis gendered man are oppressive by existence alone (similar to original sin) and this must be atoned for by dating and admiring people who don’t fit into your idealized conception of beauty.”
Well, that’s rather charming and ladylike. If she’d said “Because I want to fuck you”, then it would be a little better, but still a bit dodgy. Best of all might be “Let us partake of delight joined as one” or something like that.
“Because attraction is more than just physical.”
OK, I’ll agree with that one. Still, as I pointed out in Righteous Seduction, guys should try to look their best because the first thing anyone notices is appearance. Good verbal game only starts working after you start talking. I’ll add further, if the second thing I notice about someone is a nasty attitude, then she’s done. That’s certainly an example of bad verbal game! Like I said in the beginning, don’t make mistakes.
“Because finding an opinionated genderless or genderqueer superfat genius intimidating is fucking triggering.”
Most guys aren’t into butch looks, or women who believe they’re one of these new made-up genders. The reason why is simple. Feminine appearance is an attraction cue for straight guys, just as women prefer muscular men over hipster soy boys. That means that things like weird hair colors, haircuts that look like they were done by gardening tools, bad tattoos (most of them are bad), and body piercings are a turn-off.
I’m pretty easy to please about personal appearance, more than most others. Point of fact, I do give fat chicks a chance. I give butch women a chance too, because I like seducing lesbians. However, I have no tolerance for hostile behavior. Neither does anyone else, with the possible exception of masochists and guys with no self-respect. Even if the hottest woman in the room is acting snotty, I certainly won’t be helping her to cure her sexual frustration.
This is the big secret
Ladies, if you want to lose weight, I wish you the best of luck. I’ll do even better than that and tell you how. This does take a while, but stick with it, and you’ll succeed.
Until then, there’s a change you can make right now: act friendly. Smile, laugh, show a little joy – it’s not hard at all! Being a little flirty is perfectly fine too. I don’t mean you have to get all Miley Cyrus with it, just the charm you ladies are so good at when you put your minds to it. If you like a guy, you can walk up and introduce yourself. We’re not going to bite off your head for that! This is how to attract a guy you like. Trust me – it works much better than being crabby.
Here’s someone causing a disruption in a gaming store. Then when the word “sir” is used – an honorific far more dignified than he/she/it deserves – things really go nuclear. The fruitcake keeps swearing, makes a not too veiled threat to commit violence, and then kicks over some merchandise.
This is what happens when a kid is raised with an improper hugs / spankings ratio during childhood. Dude, grow a pair!
Having been born toward the end of the Pleistocene epoch, I’ve seen a lot. In fact, I thought I’d seen it all. Well, little did I know! I should’ve predicted that this was coming, but I was unprepared for the advent of politically correct bathrooms.
Thesis: Men and women want separate bathrooms
From an architectural perspective, it would be simpler to build just one bathroom. However, men and women want separate crappers. First, we want same-sex places where we can change clothing if needed. That much is for fairly obvious reasons.
Also, men and women don’t want to do their business around each other. If a chick saw a dude taking a leak, mutual embarrassment would occur. Other than that, if a hottie went into a stall and took a massive “number two”, it would be rather traumatic. I’m somewhat a romantic at heart, and although I understand what inevitably happens after digestion, there are things I don’t want to witness. Excerpting from Swift’s “The Lady’s Dressing Room“:
So Things, which must not be exprest,
When plumpt into the reeking Chest;
Send up an excremental Smell
To taint the Parts from whence they fell.
The Pettycoats and Gown perfume,
Which waft a Stink round every Room.
Thus finishing his grand Survey,
Disgusted Strephon stole away
Repeating in his amorous Fits,
Oh! Celia, Celia, Celia shits!
So after this even more hopeless romantic than myself discovers the commode (in those days, that meant a chest of drawers which might have a chamber pot hidden away under it) he was scarred for life.
Antithesis: Transgender activists have deconstructed men and women into nonexistence
There is a tiny category of people who think they’re something they’re not, which in psychology is known as delusion. They’ve been enabled by academic types who have been educated beyond their ability to understand. After the activists and the media got hip to this, radical gender theory has become a new orthodoxy in society.
How did that happen? I describe this in an upcoming book, with the tentative title Deplorable Diabolical Diatribes and Reactionary Rightist Rants. It’s in the chapter where I introduce cultural forensics, “How did we end up in Clown World?” Here’s a sneak preview:
The following… is merely one example of many where an idea eventually has far-reaching consequences. Simone de Beauvoir was a feminist, Communist, and overall special snowflake. Also, she was the long-term girlfriend of Jean-Paul Sartre, a leftist philosopher and literary figure who attained celebrity status; riding his coattails helped make her famous too. In 1949, she introduced one of these momentous ideas in her book The Second Sex. She wrote, “One is not born but becomes a woman.” It’s unlikely that even she ever dreamed how far that notion would go.
One might be tempted to grin at that statement, contemplating how everyone for ages thought women were naturally women, until those smart French intellectuals set us rubes straight. To take it more seriously, one might ponder how much of femininity is cultural and how much is inborn. The extreme position took hold – de Beauvoir’s statement as a literal absolute – that femininity is not innate, but is entirely a product of society…
The seed of the social construction idea in general – another one of those big ideas with major consequences – begins with a fundamentalist interpretation of Rousseau’s “blank slate” concept. According to that one, babies are like empty vessels yet to be filled with information, much like a computer before an operating system is installed. Together with de Beauvoir’s bon mot, all this morphed into the “gender is only a social construct” catchphrase. It became orthodoxy in academia that being male or female is merely a state of mind imposed on people by society, and has nothing to do with biology.
This gender theory morphed further yet. Dr. John Money’s junk science gave this one a new twist. How this began was that a boy was badly injured by a botched circumcision. (Note: don’t do this to your sons. Let them choose.) Dr. Money was consulted, and his advice was to give the baby a sex change. As the reasoning went, if there’s nothing on an infant’s mental hard drive yet, and being male or female is only socially conditioned programming, there should be no problem installing “Girl OS” instead of “Boy OS”. Dr. Money prematurely declared it a success, something that helped make him a much-lauded academic celebrity. Unfortunately, the reality was that it was a disaster which eventually caused the mutilated patient a life of anguish and a premature death. The aftermath caused his brother to commit suicide.
Eventually this radical gender theory was enforced as a matter of public policy. For one example, in October 2016, the US military began funding change operations. That’s quite a significant departure from previous policies. In the Current Year, if a business owner tells a man in a dress not to enter the women’s bathroom, then bad press and legal action might follow.
Finally… children – including very young ones – are encouraged to become transsexual, sometimes including life-changing surgery and hormonal interventions. Most people still haven’t heard the truth about the Dr. Money catastrophe, of course. That certainly wouldn’t help The Narrative! Apparently we haven’t learned that giving sex changes to kids is an atrocity. Still, we wouldn’t want to make those GLBT activists mad, now would we?
Note well, this is a very brief recap. In the beginning, we thought that there were only men and women. Today, there are dozens of made-up genders. I won’t bother to try breaking it all down into Aristotelian categories. Even if I did so, my analysis would become obsolete as soon as someone announced a new batch of sexual identities. Actually, there are theoretically an infinite number of them. Already the notion of gender seems to be falling into fractal dust, if you buy into all that sophistry.
Okay, so if you’re still trying to honor the thesis position, but now you have to honor the antithesis position too lest you make GLBT activists mad, where the hell do you go to the bathroom?
Synthesis: In the Current Year, even potties will be politically correct
So I had to take a leak recently at a large venue. I found that there is no men’s room and women’s room. Instead, there was a room for “urinals”, with half a dozen of them, and a long hall with individual rooms containing a toilet. The solution to the dilemma was diabolically clever. If you have a dick and need to do a “number one”, you go to the “urinals” room. If you don’t have a dick, or if anyone needs to do a “number two”, then you pick one of the rooms with a toilet.
As a construction worker, I’m well aware that from an architectural perspective that this was quite a pain to implement. That means putting in lots of permanent walls. Also, the plumbing has to be spread out further. Then there must be a 1:1 sink-to-crapper ratio, and each little room needs its own light fixtures. This arrangement is also inefficient because it takes up more space in the building too, which can’t be used for other purposes. Finally, they had to get that special signage custom made, rather than the “men” and “women” signs that already are mass-produced.
Other than that, the requirement of conforming to the self-image of a small group of mentally ill people has necessitated this. Really, it’s a slap in the face of tradition, though tradition already seems to be pretty red-faced after decades of cultural Marxism. Before society comes to terms with some new absurdity, another one comes along. I don’t want to make too much out of this latest development, but it’s rather disturbing that The Narrative takes precedence over objective reality every single time.
Still, we don’t want to make the GLBT activists mad, now do we? Now, even bathrooms are a casualty of the culture war. Welcome to Clown World.
Earlier I had some irreverent remarks about the founder of my religion. Surely that one offends any Mormons more devout than I am, and it’s hard to get less pious than Yours Truly. This time I’m surely going to irritate some garden variety fundamentalist Christians by telling it like it is about a revered figure in the Bible. Apologies in advance; you’ve been warned.
It turns out that Joseph Smith – “Glass Looker”, writer of mediocre Biblical fan fiction, rookie bankster, bad Egyptologist , horn dog – wasn’t such a big shyster after all, compared to his Old Testament namesake. In fact, comparing the two would be about like a high school kid who deals nickel bags of weed from his locker versus Pablo Escobar. Adask’s Lawtells about this, worth a read in its entirety.
That one takes a poke at the economist Keynes. Anyway, I don’t have a gripe with Keynes; it’s the neocon economists who drive me up a wall. That’s all another rant for another day. I figured I’d recap the story too with my own spin.
The Biblical Joseph plots to swindle the entire country
There’s lots of stuff in Genesis about Joseph’s long sojourn in Egypt. There were plenty of ups and downs in that experience. He eventually became the second in command of the Pharaoh, who fully trusted him and delegated his powers to him. That’s not bad for a foreigner who started out as a slave and just got sprung from jail, right? Together, they would begin a monstrous scheme against Egypt’s citizens.
In Genesis 40, Joseph starts to get a reputation as a dream interpreter, a gift from God as he explains. So then – how does he use this great blessing? In the next chapter, the Pharaoh has the dream about the seven fat cows and seven lean cows. After a similar dream, he consults Joseph about it. This meant that there would be seven great harvests, followed by seven bad harvests. Maybe you heard about all that in Sunday school, and how – forearmed with the knowledge – Joseph saved the Egyptians from mass starvation. What a nice guy, huh? A closer look at the story reveals things in an entirely different light.
And so it came to pass that the dream came true. Insider information is great to have. For example, a hedge fund manager could make serious bucks if he’s on buddy-buddy terms or related somehow to a Federal Reserve honcho. Knowing before anyone else does which way the prime rate will go is worth quite a bundle on Wall Street. (Insider trading like that is crooked and illegal, but hey…) Imagine what you could do if you had a hot tip straight from God!
Ancient Egypt gets gypped
So here’s what happened. As predicted, Egypt had bumper crops for seven years. During that time, Joseph bought up the surplus, preparing for hard times. The government surely got a pretty good deal on it; that’s Economics 101. Having a major buyer would’ve kept the prices from hitting rock bottom, though, so the farmers were making money. Then things take a turn for the worse in Genesis 47. The seven years of plenty were finished.
“47:13 – And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt and all the land of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine.”
During the lean years, he provided the surplus grain to the people so they had enough food. That’s what you heard about in Sunday school. Yay Joseph!
Oh, but wait – did you think he sold back the grain at cost, or at merely a modest markup? He could’ve if he’d wanted. For seven years straight, the farmers had profited from a massive surplus. Presumably they didn’t blow it all in Vegas, though surely they would’ve gotten a kick out of Luxor. Buying back the grain they’d grown in seven bountiful harvests, they completely ran out of money in under a year.
“47:14 – And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought: and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.”
Apparently the price gouging was so exorbitant that (if the story is to be believed literally) the Egyptian people were left completely penniless. The government took the opportunity to squeeze them for every last copper they had.
Now let’s read between the lines here. After a massive crop failure, of course the price of grain was going to be high; again that’s Economics 101. It’s not like anyone was in a position to sell it cheaper and undercut the government’s price, since the harvest was terrible this time. If anyone found the price objectionable, the government’s agents simply could shrug their shoulders and say, “Yes, it was much cheaper last year when you were selling it, but that was then. Hey, it’s the maaaarket.”
That’s what the oil execs say these days whenever they pop a Viagra and jack up the gas prices. One example of this game is when the Rockefellers artificially limited the refinery capacity and gave us the late 1970s energy crisis. If you’re an old geezer like me, you’ll remember unprecedented high prices and cars lined up for a couple blocks to get into gas stations. OPEC gets froggy too on occasion. Sensibly, they cut it out after a while and dial prices back down, before electric cars (like the 1970s Citicar, the 1990s EV1, or newer models) really get a chance to catch on.
This has far-reaching implications. All products get brought to stores in trucks. When the fuel cost goes up, prices go up, that’s one of the things that cause inflation. When oil prices eventually go back down, it takes a good while longer for gasoline prices to go back down. Products at stores take much longer to get cheaper again, if they do at all. Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” theory states that prices set themselves efficiently because of competition. However, this certainly doesn’t happen overnight.
Further, running a monopoly or a cartel is an end run around that. Competition can’t set the prices efficiently, if there’s no competition. It means the owners can make the price whatever they want, because fuck you.
Joseph’s food monopoly worked great – for him! All the country’s money went straight into the Pharaoh’s treasury. The prosperity from seven good years, as well as all the rest of their savings from before – gone! So now what?
From the Dust Bowl to the Great Depression
“47:15 – And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth.”
Now check this out. Parsing this quaint KJV phrase – “money failed” – into modern terms, Egypt’s private sector economy suffered a catastrophic depression. Of course that was going to happen; after all that price gouging, nobody had any money left to buy more overpriced grain! Joseph seems to have been a pretty sharp cookie, entrusted with a great nation’s financial affairs, so surely he knew exactly what would happen. You don’t even have to be Adam Smith to understand that no money means no economy. Now the public was completely desperate, and begging for relief.
“47:16 – And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail.”
“If?” Like things had any chance of improving? Good one, Joe! He reassured those guys, “if money fail” further yet, he’d just trade all their livestock for enough grain to keep them alive a while longer. No money, no problem; we got you covered! (Snicker, snicker.)
“47:17 – And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year.”
Sure enough, ancient Egypt’s Great Depression didn’t end. Of course “money failed” still, since all of it remained hoarded in the Pharaoh’s treasury. They didn’t have tractors back then, so farmers relied on horses, donkeys, and oxen to work the fields – which they had to hand over to the Pharaoh just to survive.
“47:18 – When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide it from my lord, how that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not ought left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands:”
Surprise! In the second year, the peasants were screwed, and not in the fun way. They knew it and the government knew it. Well, if you can’t get blood out of a turnip, you can still put the turnip up for sale…
Dependency is the road to slavery
“47:19 – Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate.”
So after the next iteration of this, the once-independent farmers gave up their land and freedom to the Pharaoh. Today, “servant” generally means paid household help, but in earlier times it meant “slave”, from the Latin term “servus”. The passage is quite clear that they wanted to sell themselves into slavery for bread, along with their land. They even begged for that. Societal self-abasement never got any lower than this, at least until cultural Marxism came along thousands of years later.
“47:20 – And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh’s.”
Now these independent yeoman farmers had lost all their property, and even became property themselves.
“47:21 – And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof.”
The new slaves got crowded into the cities and rode out the crisis on the Pharaoh’s handouts.
“47:22 – Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands.”
The Asshole Dictator 101 course teaches that you can’t risk pissing off everyone. You need to keep your high class citizens, especially those in a position to keep morale from completely collapsing, on your side. They, and the military, are what keep the peasants from revolting.
The “New Normal”
“47:23 – Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land.”
Likely there was a fast forward here for a few years. After the anticipated famine came to an end, Joseph cut them a deal. They’d been slaves crammed together in the cities for a while, but he’d let them go back to the fields they used to own, which now belonged to the Pharaoh. He’d even give them seed grain from the remaining supply so they could get started again. What an awesome guy! There were strings attached, though – surprise!
“47:24 – And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.”
From now on, all of Egypt’s farmers would be sharecroppers, with the Pharaoh getting a 20% cut every year henceforth. (If you’re a middle class American, you’re in the 22% tax bracket. You can play some Negro spirituals next time you’re doing your taxes to get you in the mood.) Did Joseph decide to upgrade their status slightly, from slaves to serfs, because he felt guilty about screwing them? No, he knew that the agriculture was about to improve and their grain reserves wouldn’t last forever. The Pharaoh needed them to grow crops again. Best of all, he’d get a 20% piece of the action henceforth.
“47:25 – And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.”
You might think that after this colossal swindle, the people of Egypt would’ve been ready to lynch their despotic Pharaoh and his crooked right hand man. If you figured the torches and pitchforks would come out, you’d be wrong. Those two never even had to use force to cheat the public. They simply manipulated a crisis to their maximum advantage. As events unfolded, it’s not too hard to imagine Egypt’s top politicians feigning concern while hiding the details and conspiring to stick it to the public further.
The public’s servility toward the Pharaoh is a textbook case of societal Stockholm Syndrome. This was the guy who’d approved of the scheme and now owned all their money, livestock, fields, and (since all that wasn’t enough gravy for this greedy shmuck) 20% of their future earnings. As for Joseph, he was a skillful enough bullshit artist that he got the public to believe he was their savior. He positioned himself as the way out of their predicament, when in fact his predatory practices caused it.
Holy chutzpah, Batman! Even now, he’s considered to be this great patriarch, a wise and magnanimous guy who helped out those starving Africans. This is all despite a colossal profiteering scheme involving price gouging, crashing the economy, and cheating a nation’s citizens out of everything they had.
If the story that the Bible tells is true, Joseph and the Pharaoh were some of the worst kleptocrats of the Bronze Age. Ancient warfare got pretty bad. Sometimes foreign conquerors would plunder a defeated country, or shake down the helpless population with a heavy tribute. (The Mongol Yoke is a classic example of this.) However, a king oppressing his own citizens that badly is just a little much. A responsible leader doesn’t exploit the people. Anyway, all that’s another discussion; stay tuned.
Did this actually happen?
It’s doubtful the story is true, at least in any substantial sense. Egyptian records (which are pretty thorough) describe nothing like that. Neither are there any chronicles from abroad corroborating these events, other than the Old Testament itself. However, there could be a slim chance that the Egyptians finally got wise to that, pronounced damnatio memoriae on the corrupt Pharaoh and the scheming foreigner, and edited this sordid episode out of their history.
Aside from that, the Nile floods every spring, bringing fresh water and runoff from as far away as Uganda. The Egyptians then got to plant on fields enriched by a new layer of mud. America’s Midwestern farmers could only dream about this kind of climactic regularity. It seems a little improbable for there to be a seven year long Dust Bowl on the fertile banks of the Nile.
This seems to have taken place at the beginning of Egypt’s “New Kingdom” era when they got expansionistic and took over the Levant. Canaan (later Israel / Palestine) is also mentioned suffering from the same problems. This new province of Egypt was the western part of the Fertile Crescent (considerably more hospitable than now). They had their own agriculture; that’s the first place farming got started. It was a separate climactic region with different characteristics than the Nile Valley. They also had access to neighboring kingdoms – the Hittites, Mitanni, and Babylonians – who could’ve sold them food if needed and undercut exorbitant government prices.
Furthermore, it would’ve taken an unprecedented granary capacity for that scheme to work. Also, it’s unlikely for grain to stay reasonably fresh for seven years, which is how long the crisis supposedly lasted. Without advanced technology, it probably would’ve gone bad in half that time, or less.
Lastly – assuming God inspired the correct dream interpretation and it wasn’t just a lucky guess – why did Joseph get away with using the information maliciously? He could’ve been struck by lightning, turned into an ant, infected with leprosy, or gotten the old-fashioned slow roast. Some other parts of the Old Testament show people arguing with God, or even trying to pull a fast one on Him. Sometimes it even works, but I think that Heavenly Father actually is a little smarter than that. This story wouldn’t have worked in Greek mythology; someone who committed hubris would’ve gotten a can of whup-ass opened up on him in a hurry.
The Book of Genesis is basically right about some parts. However, I’ll have to conclude that this part of it was either a fable, or substantially embellished. Perhaps it was made up by someone who knew the rudiments of commodity manipulation, then wrote a yarn about how their great patriarch gypped those Egyptian peasants and they even loved him for it.
If it was partially true, I would suspect there was substantial spin doctoring. Those types think that they’re wonderful people, oblivious to the resentment generated by their behavior. Even if they’re aware of the conditions they caused, the public matters nothing to them. If the people get wise and retaliate, they think they’re being terribly wronged and can’t understand what they possibly did to deserve it. Well, bless their hearts.
Joseph Smith, the founder of my religion, has a reputation of being a 19th century con man. I certainly won’t argue the point, as I’m pretty much a heathen, and just a Mormon by technicality. This isn’t exhaustive, but rather a few highlights of his career. Actually, he got started early with the bullshit artistry.
In his younger days, he was a “money digger“. He didn’t have a metal detector, but fortunately he had a magic peepstone to see through dirt. There was just one problem – whenever his shovel touched a treasure chest underground, immediately it sank deeper. Silly pirates – always burying their booty in quicksand! People were more superstitious nearly two centuries ago, and believing in folk magic stuff wasn’t too unusual, but that only went so far. In 1826, “Joseph Smith the Glass Looker” got arrested for fraud.
Later, Smith got into the religion racket, finding it (as L. Ron Hubbard did much later) to be considerably more profitable. Another thing he had in common with Scientology’s founder was a very active imagination. Some others, though, might say that he’d dropped too much LDS.
Smith called a couple other magic peepstones the “Urim and Thummim”. He’d drop a crystal ball into his hat, stick his face in the hat, and start reciting the Book of Mormon. This way, he didn’t even have to look at the Golden Plates to translate them, or page through an Aztec dictionary. That’s how the book that Mark Twain called “chloroform in print” came into being. I’ll have to admit, Hubbard was the better writer of the two.
Then there was the Kirtland Safety Society swindle. Joseph Smith tried to start a bank, and had paper money all printed up and ready to go. The Prophet was surprised to find that its charter got denied. (Gosh, I wonder why the state rejected it? He thought they were just being prejudiced.) Still, he went ahead with it anyway, despite its unlicensed status. He had the funny money stamped over, so that the “Kirtland Safety Society BANK” bills read “anti BANK ing” instead. It wasn’t really a bank, because he didn’t call it one! Clever, huh?
Fractional reserve banking is a tricky business, of course, even when it’s “anti-bank-ing”. They filled chests with rocks, then scattered a thin layer of coins over the rocks. After a look in the vault, prospective customers were convinced it was quite solvent indeed, a great place to deposit their money. Things didn’t end so well – what a shocker! Come to think of it, Joseph Smith should’ve asked some Indians for advice; surely these Lamanites had inherited a knack for high finance from their forefathers. With the tribe’s help, running an “anti-bank” would’ve been a piece of cake…
So the Kirtland Safety Society went belly-up from illiquidity, $100K in the hole and sued nine ways from Sunday. According to one inflation calculator I found, in 1837, a hundred grand then would be the equivalent of $2.2 million now. Back then, Americans didn’t use funny money from that tricky Federal Reserve. Your great grandparents had real money – gold dollars! I suspect it’s actually inflated considerably more than a 22:1 ratio after we switched to paper money. In the 1800s, fifty cents was a decent grocery run. Eleven bucks won’t buy much food these days. Maybe the Federal Reserve is an “anti-bank-ing” venture too?
He dabbled in Egyptology too, and claimed to have deciphered their language, though the results were pretty embarrassing. Still, that’s how we got the Book of Abraham, with some cool stuff like Planet Kolob. There’s much more, but I won’t compile a list of Joseph Smith’s flaky deeds, as I could write a book about it. In fact, others have done exactly that, and I doubt I could do better.
Anyway, all that bullshit artistry is something for bad Mormons like me to chuckle about. At least he got more pussy than a cat shelter. His notch count was even higher than mine, which is no mean feat.
Eventually things came to a bitter end for our first Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. I figure it was inevitable. Even if he hadn’t been shot in the Carthage jail, some other mob would’ve whacked him eventually. That had nearly happened a few times before. Church history basically says that he went like a lamb to the slaughter. The truth is that he had a gun snuck into the jail, and he went out trading fire. Somehow I like the real version better. Maybe that means that he’s in Valhalla now?
Anyway, his birthday is coming up soon on December 23. Be sure to raise a glass of Pay Lay Ale for Brother Joseph.
"Engullimos de un sorbo la mentira que nos adula y bebemos gota a gota la verdad que nos amarga" Diderot. / "El que tiene la verdad en el corazón no debe temer jamás que a su lengua le falte fuerza de persuasión" Ruskin – (Bitácora-Biblioteca virtual y PERSONAL, recopilatória de aquellos artículos que despiertan mi interés)
Preserving The American Creed: Christian Piety, The English Language, Work Ethic, Rugged Individualism, The Rule Of Law, & Limited Government, While Defending American Exceptionalism, Identity, & Culture against all Leftist Ideologies & Islam