I regret linking the “No Pressure” video

(Note: this entry, written with the intention of ending discussion at VFR about the “No Pressure” video, opened up a new discussion. See in particular Kathlene’s comment presenting evidence that the video maker did not mean the murders humorously or ironically, but seriously—they are seriously saying that it’s ok to blow up children for the sake of environmentalist purity. Also, when I pointed out to Kathlene in an e-mail that this is not a snuff movie, because in a snuff movie an actual murder is filmed, she suggested that it be called a fantasy snuff film, which I think really hits the mark.)

A cultural critic does not need to talk about every cultural barbarity. There are certain things so sick, repulsive, and degrading that they should simply be ignored. That’s the way I feel about the “No Pressure” environmentalist murder video from Britain which so many people have been talking about, and which I regret linking the other day. I regret it because, to my mind, even to criticize such an evil thing is to allow it to enter our minds, which we should not do, and give it a reality that it should not have. Many people are puzzling and cerebrating over the real motives and intentions of the video maker. I have no interest in his motives and intentions. I don’t wish to have the subject in my mind in any form. To treat something that is beyond depraved as a normal subject of conversation is to degrade ourselves.And it has been worse in this case, as many people writing about the video are not just condemning it, but getting “into” it and speculating about it from all sorts of odd angles.

This is not to call for ignoring the reality of evil. As the Indian spiritual teacher J. Krishnamurti once put it, if you want to know what is in a department store, you do not need to get out of the elevator at each floor and look at every item on that floor. You can look out from the elevator and see that this is the toy department, this is the men’s clothing department, this is the homes furnishing department and so on, and that is all you need to know. Similarly, in order to understand evil sufficiently, it is not necessary to examine every particular form of evil, no matter how evil it may be. However, since I did post something about the video, which triggered some comments, I am posting the comments that have come in, though I myself will have nothing more to say about the matter, and will not be posting anything more about it (other than, as is unavoidable, replying to replies to this entry). That also is a form of cultural criticism.

An exchange with Kilroy M. from Australia on October 5:

Kilroy wrote:

Here’s an idea for a backslap:

“So, kiddies, who here thinks that homosexuals are normal?”—little hand goes up—button pressed—BOOM!

“So, kiddies, who here thinks that it’s a bad thing to let more Muslims into the country?”—little hand goes up—button pressed—BOOM!

“So, kiddies, who here thinks it’s a good thing to encourage girls at school to want to have careers and see marriage as a failure?”—little hand goes up—button pressed—BOOM!

Seriously … this would be hours of fun online.

Something else that occurred to me about this: I don’t think that the producers of this video actually thought it was OK. I believe that they knew it would attract such outrage, and as a consequence be talked about widely (go “viral” online). This is apparently something that is becoming more and more frequent: advertising campaigns of “leaked” material or outrageous stuff that gets pulled/rejected, and then discussed on a million blogs and twitter feeds. The leaked material is often leaked intentionally, the pulled material is often expected—the purpose is to cause controversy and chatter. As much as I hate to say it, but I fear that VFR has inadvertently become a billboard for 10:10. Which, as I indicated below, is all the more reason for conservatives to get on the offensive with similar stuff. No pressure :-)

LA replied:

I don’t understand what you’re saying. I find the video so repulsive I really didn’t want to post it at all, but there has been so much discussion about it that I felt it would be remiss not to post it. I should have just mentioned it and let others find it if they were interested.

Kilroy replied:

I was being perhaps a little too facetious. My point was that this wasn’t so much evidence of how desensitised the environutters are, but a deliberate attempt to produce something that would be discussed widely and thus achieve a marketing objective. As a consequence, everybody who posts about it has aided in the ultimate objective. Be that as it may, I think it’s worth discussing if only to make the public aware of the underhanded tactics and repulsive sensibilities of those behind the fanatical environmentalist movement.

Leonard D. wrote (October 5):

That horrifying film that Philip M. mentioned is for real. It was created by an organization called 10:10, and it is entitled No Pressure, as in “Cut your carbon by 10 percent. No pressure.”

Apparently the far left likes the idea of murdering people who are not willing to commit to their crazier ideas. Actually, I think I can what guess the “thinking” that was behind this. It is safe to assume that the progressives who filmed it are utterly pacifistic in their personal lives. So to them, the idea of people like them murdering others in cold blood for not joining their campaign seems like a stark contrast. And thus the “humor”: the unexpected juxtaposition of their goodness and gentleness versus the obvious badness and murderousness of what they are portraying. Ha ha!

Imagine living in a bubble, such that nobody associated with the filming of that thing realized how normal people would view it.

The good news is that not only did the film get “withdrawn” by 10:10 (as if that were truly possible on the Internet), several of the corporate sponsors also pulled out. My guess is that leftists will want to flush this film down the memory hole; that is about the only way I can see for the left to handle it. And the good news is, they can’t do that any more.

Ken Hechtman, VFR’s Canadian leftist reader, writes:

I can’t believe you didn’t think that was funny! I laughed so hard watching it I had to show it to the guys at work yesterday and I had three or four of them laughing out loud around my computer.

You’re over-thinking the thing. The message of it is simple—reducing carbon isn’t optional, it really is life and death. That’s it. Not “we’re going to murder everyone who doesn’t do what we want in the messiest way possible”.

The gag is obvious too, or maybe it’s only obvious if you have a day job and a boss. Anybody who does has had the experience where the boss asks you to volunteer for something, says it’s completely optional, won’t be held against you if you don’t—“no pressure”—and he’s lying. The boss is always lying when he says that and you know he’s lying and he knows you know. But he wants you to go through the humiliating little charade where you pretend his order is really a request and he pretends your complying with his order is really a voluntary gesture on your part. And you go through it because you know that he’s got his metaphorical thumb firmly on the metaphorical detonate button.

Well, if you didn’t like “No Pressure” you will probably not enjoy my favorite Richard Curtiss piece of all time, “Skinhead Hamlet.”

LA replies:

Are you seriously telling me that you found it funny, laugh-out-loud funny? You found it funny when you saw people suddenly being blown up and turned into a puddle of blood by their teachers and employers?

Larry T. writes:

There is now a parody on the 10:10 “No Pressure” video in the style of the Hitler downfall series. I came across the link on the excellent UK blog, EUReferendum.

- end of initial entry -

The author of the blog Stuff Black People Don’t Like writes:

This video is further proof of what progressives/leftists/ socialists/liberals/communists/ant-racists wish to happen to those who profess even the smallest misgivings with their agenda.

They want us to die. If you’ve seen the movie “Independence Day,” you might recall the scene where the president finds out what the invading aliens have in store. After stating the peace is not an option, the alien tells us that they want us to die.

In my opinion, the entire Omar Thornton event showed us that the left wants us to die, in how they canonized Thornton by viciously reporting on the alleged racism of the dead. This “No Pressure” video, where two children go against lower carbon emissions, shows us other groups that fit into the category of those the left/progressives would love see die.

Here is the article I wrote on the subject.

In closing, keep up the great work.

Philip M. writes from England:

You write:

“Similarly, in order to understand evil sufficiently, it is not necessary to examine every particular form of evil, no matter how evil it may be.”

My apologies for lobbing a depth charge into the cool, still waters of Lake Auster! But I think it is wrong to give this as a truth for everyone, even if it is true for youself. I think the department store analogy is too simplistic. Sometimes I like to argue with the manager of the department store, in great detail, about a wide selection of his products. And I want him to know that I’ve done my homework.

If something really bothers me, I want to know why. I do not shy away from it. I like to turn it over in my mind until I have understood it, even though it often bothers me for days. I don’t think I would have come so far into race-reality, nor had had the courage to stand up and argue with left-wing people if I hadn’t. And because many of the people I argue with are young, I am able to furnish them with examples from popular culture, films, video and comedy that they are aware of, and am often able to argue with an insight, clarity and honesty which forces them to listen.

I was surprised by your reaction, until I remembered you posting about the new Machete film, saying you didn’t even want to think about it. My first thought was that I knew I would be down the cinema with my friend, watching the film and then dissecting it for days. Yes it’s scary, but it’s real. This is the future. And I want to see it experience it now, so I can prepare now.

LA replies:

I would say that your reasons for wanting to know about such a phenomenon as this video are perfectly valid. Each of us has his own boundaries and our own sense of what is necessary for us to know. I wasn’t telling other people that they shouldn’t discuss the video. I was giving the reasons why I don’t want to discuss it.

Kristor writes:

The disturbing thing about the video to me was that it showed me, as plain as the nose on my face, that there is no such thing as moderate leftism. There is rather only active leftism and passive leftism; and the video revealed the real hopes of either sort of leftist for those of other persuasions: that they should either knuckle under to the leftist agenda, or die. There are to be sure many passive leftists who are not actively involved in the promulgation of the doctrine, most of whom would not hurt a fly. But to the extent that they have committed themselves to the leftist view of things, they can’t consistently have a problem with the active leftists who do things like put millions of dissidents in gulags; so they supported Stalin. And they do this because at bottom their doctrine leaves them no alternative but to think of those who oppose it as evil, or stupid, or insane, and so as deserving destruction. One can’t be a committed Social Democrat and believe that any amount of capitalism is OK, and ought to be tolerated. A Social Democrat has to be committed to the eventual, gradual, total destruction of capitalism.

And as Ken Hechtman’s reaction to the video makes clear, leftists cannot quite comprehend how anyone could find the opinions expressed in the video objectionable.

The parallels with Islam are striking. We should not draw a distinction between “fundamentalist” or “radical” Muslims and “moderate” Muslims. We should rather distinguish between passive and active Muslims. The passive Muslims are to the active Muslims as Obama is to Pol Pot.

LA replies:

I’m impressed. Kristor seems to be saying that this five minute video reveals the true, evil nature of leftism in the same way that the Koran reveals the real, evil nature of Islam. I just thought it was one work by one leftist. I don’t know why it has the great and general significance that Kristor gives it.

Kristor replies:

Maybe it doesn’t. It just struck me, and started a train of thought. That’s how deliberative processes start: we notice something we hadn’t, something that disturbs us. I had always known in theory that Social Democrats were committed to the eventual utter destruction of capitalism, and that their more enterprising co-religionists in the Comintern were committed to genocide as an acceptable means to that end. But I had never before experienced the juxtaposition of the well-meaning leftist schoolmarm with the radical evil of the gulag. The film put those two things together for me, concretely, and for the first time. It made clear the fact that they intend me to go to a Cambodian style re-education camp, if nothing else works.

LA replies:

You had an epiphany.

Kristor replies:
Yes. What do you call an epiphany of evil? There has to be a word for that.

LA replies:

As far as I understand, an epiphany doesn’t have to be of God or good. A sudden revelation of the true nature of a thing, regardless of the nature of that thing, can be called an epiphany.

Kristor continues:

I’ll tell you what it is. The film made me realize for the first time that they hate me, and they want me dead. If they could push a button that would kill me and everyone like me, they would go ahead and push it. That’s disturbing.

LA writes:

Kristor said: “Yeah. What do you call an epiphany of evil? There has to be a word for that.”

We could try to coin a term for an epiphany of evil. Hmm. “Epi” means above or from above, “phany” means appear. To appear from above. A manifestation of a god. Now there have been variations that people have come up with. Eric Voegelin coined the term “egophany,” for a manifestion or revelation of the ego. I see (here) that the Greek prefix for “below” is “hypo.” So we could coin the word “hypophany”: a revelation from below, or a revelation of the lower. But the word doesn’t sound distinctive enough.

What about an appearance or revelation of evil? The Greek word for evil is kako, which also means harsh, resulting in our word cacophony, harsh sound. So changing the last “o” to an “a” gives us cacophany: a revelation of evil. But that’s too similar to cacophony, so it doesn’t work.

So we’re not there yet.

(P.S. This discussion reminds me of an unpublished draft from years ago in which the title of one of the chapters is, “The Etiology of Evil.”)

Ken Hechtman writes:

You wrote:

“Are you seriously telling me that you found it funny, laugh-out-loud funny? YOu found it funny when you saw people suddenly being blown up?”

It’s the whole build-up—“well, that’s fine … your choice, really … no pressure … “—that makes it funny. Just blowing people up apropos of nothing isn’t all that funny. Well, it is in some of the old Monty Python episodes, but that’s another story.

I’ve been on the receiving end of a pitch like that more times than I care to count and I didn’t dare refuse to “volunteer” because I knew something bad would happen to me if I did refuse. So to see it played out like that, where the consequences of taking the boss at his word are that immediate and that graphic, yes, of course it’s funny.

That said, the clip is terrible as propaganda. The point of green propaganda is to make you identify with the characters who save the planet. The gag in this clip only works if you identify with the people who get blown up. Sure, I loved it. I’ll be showing it to people years from now. But I’m not the guy they need to convince. I was convinced 20 years ago. The guy they need to convince will hate it and hate the people who commissioned it and hate the entire cause they work for.

Philip M. writes:

My initial heading of “looking away” was from a half-remembered quote by Nietzsche, which was along the lines of “If you find something ugly, look away.” It stuck with me somewhat because I wasn’t sure what he meant. But of course, he was talking to us, in the future, talking about coping with living in a nihilistic world.

LA replies:

Yes, I think you’re thinking of the chapter in Thus Spoke Zarathustra called “On Passing By,” in which Zarathustra meets a man outside a city who is damning and cursing it for its horrors, and Zarathustra expresses disgust for this man and says: “Where one cannot love, one should pass by.” Meaning one doesn’t want to get caught in condemning the culture all the time, but to focus on the positive things that we can be. Remember, the meaning of Dionysian Man, the Superman, is that he is always in a positive state, he says “Yes” to everything, no matter how terrible, painful, or evil. So if one finds oneself in a situation where one cannot say “Yes,” one should leave.

Kristor writes:

“An epiphany doesn’t have to be of God or good. A sudden revelation of the true nature of a thing, regardless of the nature of that thing, can be called an epiphany.”

Right, but while in the original Greek epiphany does indeed mean merely “manifestation,” until the early 19th century the word was used to refer only to the epiphany of Christ. The early 19th century? That’s a usage way too newfangled for a traditionalist speaker of English; I’d much rather have a neologism that expresses the notion of an epiphany of evil. What’s the opposite of “theophany”? Since evil is privation of good—i.e., of God—an epiphany of evil would have to be an “atheophany,” right?

I’m mostly kidding here. Mostly.

Philip M. replies to LA:

I think it was from an earlier book of aphorisms, but I noticed when I read his earlier work that a lot of the aphorisms had gone into Zarathustra in a reworked form. So it’s the same idea. He had a very prophetic sense of the world that was being born, so I guess it’s sound advice.

Philip writes:

I remember there used to be a DVD—Jerry Springer, too HOT for TV!!!! with all the bits they couldn’t show on the normal version.

I think I need to start a “too hot for Auster” blog.

Philip writes:

Ken Hechtman writes:

That said, the clip is terrible as propaganda. The point of green propaganda is to make you identify with the characters who save the planet. The gag in this clip only works if you identify with the people who get blown up.

But I’m not the guy they need to convince. I was convinced 20 years ago.

Ken says he identifies with the victims in the video, but then goes on to say that he was one of the ones who was convinced, which would put him in the position of the ones who are not killed, would it not?

I guess when you only think that the morality of an act is judged solely by the motivation behind the act (we want to save the planet, which is good, therefore what we do in order to save the planet is good), the more extreme the action, the greater the depth it has. It’s a way of saying, “We really mean it,” according to the only scale of values they have, a utilitarian one.

Richard N. writes:

All the females killed in the film are white-skinned blondes, and the three men in the film also white. Statistically it seems highly unlikely that this is a random selection of modern British society. My question, therefore, is: can the charge of racism also be leveled at the people responsible?

Kathlene M. writes:

There’s a one-minute “Behind the Scenes” video of the making of that horrifying environmentalist snuff fantasy video “No Pressure.” In the “Behind the Scenes” video, the kids who act in the video express excitement about being blown up. One kid says “My name is _____ and I think it is fine to explode children for a good cause.” Aren’t you just chortling with laughter? Al Qaeda might adopt it and call it the Joys of Jihad. Such depraved “humor” tells me, as you have already noted, that there is something very very wrong with England and with radical Leftism.

P.S. You’ll especially love the part at the 36 second mark where the kids say in unison, “Exploding is Fun!”

LA replies:
Thank you for this horrifying information. It proves that they really meant it.

Note: in a snuff video, an actual murder is filmed. I began calling it a snuff video myself, because others did, and then someone pointed out the mistake to me.

Kathlene replies:

Thanks for the correction, Lawrence. How about calling it a faux-snuff video? Or snuff-fantasy video?

I’ve read on the blogs that the video has now been dubbed “Splattergate.”

James M. writes:

About your reluctance to look too closely at evil things, and the “No Pressure” entry, didn’t Nietzsche say, “When you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you”? That seems to describe exactly what you’re talking about.

LA replies:

What do you think Nietzsche meant by that?

LA continues:

I’ve just looked up the quote, and there are many references to it online, but none that give the original context or even a citation, and the discussions I find about the meaning of the statement don’t strike me as useful. (I’ve read all of Nietzsche’s books other than his lesser known works written between The Birth of Tragedy and The Gay Science, and I’m not offhand familiar with the statement.)

Ahh, Answers.com at least presents the complete sentence:

“Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

But the two phrases do not have the same meaning, so the first phrase doesn’t help us understand the second. The idea of the abyss gazing into me does not suggest the idea that I am becoming an abyss. This strikes me as a rare Nietzsche utterance that, while very provocative sounding (which is why it is so widely quoted), lacks a definite meaning.

October 7

Philip M. writes from England:

I always took it as meaning that there is an unnerving sense of emptiness “echoed” back within oneself.

P.S. Ever seen the Coen brothers film, The Big Lebowski? Very funny German criminal nihilists. “We are nihilists, Lebowski! We believe in nassing, NASSING!!!”

Paul Weston (a BNP candidate for Parliament in the last election) writes from England:

The people that made this video and those that find it amusing, tend to be Socialists with strong political views. Over the course of the last century such people naturally gravitated to the Nazi Party and the Communist Party, who combined to murder some 150 million people.

Had the last century not happened, then perhaps this ill conceived video would not be viewed with such shock by people today. But the last century did happen, and my particular feeling of revulsion is caused not so much by the content of the video, but the chilling realisation that the people who made it share the same ideological make up as the people who committed genocide in the last century, and who are quite clearly capable of doing it again this century.

Hence Conservative revulsion on the one hand, and great amusement for the leftist Ken Hechtmans of this world on the other. These people are evil. In the last century they were the ones who ran the extermination camps and Gulags, whilst we were/are the ones who liberated them.

Leonard D. writes:

Regarding the quote:

“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”

This quote does not have any definitive contextual authorial meaning, because it is found in Beyond Good and Evil only as a floating aphorism (chapter 4, #146). You can make of it what you will. I think the intent is pretty obvious: experiencing evil in any way in dangerous because it can change you, and change wrought by evil is often a bad thing. The first sentence is the more concrete one, which we all know of examples of; almost every war movie has a character who has lost his moral bearings. The second is the deeper and more general statement. [LA replies: I think you have it right, as regards the first sentence. My problem is with the second sentence. The words, “the abyss gazes into you,” does not convey a definite image or idea to my mind.]

I think it is quite appropriate to this particular discussion. You know, or at least intuitively sense, that watching something like No Pressure is dangerous because if you do, it becomes part of you, and you don’t want that kind of industrial-strength evil anywhere near your brain. As you said: “To treat something that is beyond depraved as a normal subject of conversation is to degrade ourselves.”

It is funny that in other contexts, the left is insistent that the form of things matters. For example, we are instructed to use the clunky “he/she” instead of “he” as a gender-neutral pronoun, because presumably if we are not careful, we might start to think that only males do stuff. Or, on TV we must show lots of black scientists and doctors and whatnot, and of course most criminals should be rich white men, because otherwise we might discourage the tender sensibilities of black kids or something. And yet, if we show people murdering others for insufficient political commitment, that’s OK! Nobody could possibly get the wrong idea! All in a good cause!

Jonah O. writes:

Just a quick note regarding the environmental “fantasy snuff” film: While it is certainly true that the environmental cause has successfully attracted a good portion of the nihilist, anti-human left, I hope that this does not have the effect of making all concern for our natural surroundings into an issue “of the left,” and one ignored by the right.

There are certain forms of pollution and destruction that bespeak the worst sort of profligacy, decadence, and short-term thinking—qualities which traditionalists tend to condemn liberals and liberalism for embodying.

This sort of thing does not happen on VFR. But on the more rabble-y sites (like FreeRepublic etc.), it is not uncommon to see “conservatives” replying to the silly and anti-human “environmentalism” of the left by stating desires to deface their lands, make certain animals extinct and other things of this nature.

It’s unhealthy and unconservative.

LA replies:

There you see the influence of Ann Coulter style “conservatism,” consisting principally of snarky reactions against liberals, and containing no vision of a true good as an alternative to the falsity and badness of liberalism. This type of conservatism fits to a certain degree the pattern I have discussed in the context of, say, the paleocons and the anti-Jew “right”: if you don’t believe in a good, but only in opposing that which you don’t like, you inevitably end up embracing anything that will discomfort the people you don’t like, regardless of how bad it is. Thus you have “conservatives” stating their desire to deface the land and make animals go extinct. Such “conservatives” are not guided by any objective standard. Their only guide is relative and negative: that which will make my liberal enemy look foolish is the good; that which will enrage my liberal enemy is the good.

I’m not saying that political warfare doesn’t have a place for aggressive and enflaming rhetoric against our political foes. It does. But in the absence of standards, such rhetoric becomes destructive.

Mencius Moldbug writes:

Ken Hechtman again performs an invaluable service. He states the liberal perspective exactly. They really do believe AGW, this phantom of massaged custom statistics (Google “McShane and Wyner 2010”—this in the Annals of Applied Statistics, a math journal, which academically outranks all of “climate science” put together—at least when it comes to statistics), is a matter of life and death.

But they know perfectly well that they themselves would never kill over it! Why, they wouldn’t hurt a fly.

And the rest of us grin and bear it. For we know perfectly well that the murderers will find themselves. The Baron d’Holbach could never have been a Marat, nor could anyone he knew. Lincoln Steffens could never have been a Stalin. And yet, when the time came for Marats and Stalins—Marats and Stalins were found.

And until mankind is uniformly translated into angeldom, they always will be found, they always can be found. Indeed it is not at all hard to point to them, in embryo today. And so, those of us whose brains the worm has not quite eaten look at the deeds of the liberals, who rule all creation and probably always will, and see five year olds playing with matches under the propane tank. These are our leaders! This is our society! This is our government! Observe it carefully—for it is not about to change.

Kristor writes:

Mike Flynn ties the 10:10 video to an Audi ad that aired last year on the Superbowl, featuring the jackbooted totalitarian Green Police.

James M. replies to LA:

You wrote: “What do you think Nietzsche meant by that?”

I don’t know what he meant by it. I should have said so. Here is how I make my own sense of it:

Perhaps, if Satan is somehow present in every evil thing, then our grappling with those things, trying to study and understand them, has the effect of calling Satan’s attention to ourselves, making ourselves more familiar to him. So dealing too closely with evil increases his proximity to us, enabling him to better study us, learning our individual weaknesses. From this standpoint, “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you” becomes sensible but I’m sure my understanding is totally unrelated to Nietzsche’s intention.

LA replies:

That’s excellent and makes sense. Once we personify the abyss, as evil, the phrase becomes both intelligible (i.e., its meaning can be discerned) and sensible (i.e., its meaning is likely true).

(How’s that for winging it?)

James M. replies:

Thanks. I was winging it as well. : ) My sense of that quote was inchoate to begin with and you made me think through it to come up with something.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 06, 2010 01:08 PM | Send

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