A few years ago I realized I did not know what I believed. A great deal of this had to do with the fact that I was a philosophy major. If you ask a philosopher if he believes in X he mentally translates that question into “can I prove that X is true?” And then he answers that question rather than the one you actually asked.
For example, if you ask him “Do you believe in God?” his mind makes that “Can you prove that God exists?” and he answers no. Then — classic situation — two hours later he receives word that his wife has been critically injured in a car accident and he finds himself praying on the way to the hospital. By this I mean that he does not set out to pray. He does not choose to do it. It is not the result of a rational calculation. He just does it, and then notices himself doing it and is surprised — or worse.
As they say, actions speak louder than words. And the philosopher’s actions belie his words. In fact, he does believe in God. It was some shallower part of himself that answered “no” when you put the question to him. It was a much deeper and authentic part that took over on the way to the hospital and spoke with a voice of real sincerity.
The truth of the matter is that beliefs are not chosen. The philosopher in my story does not consciously choose to pray, and he did not consciously choose to believe in God. It is only his pseudo-beliefs that are chosen, including his pseudo-atheism. We believe in what we think is true, and we have no choice in the matter. Or perhaps I should put this in stronger terms: we truly believe in what we really, really think is true.
I feel inclined to put it this way, owing to our seemingly infinite capacity for self-deception. My imaginary philosopher thinks that he doesn’t believe in God, because he thinks he doesn’t think that “God exists” is a true claim. And it takes a personal catastrophe to crack open his hard head and teach him what he actually believes. Though I will wager that he will forget the fact that he prayed in the car, especially if he reaches the hospital and finds that his wife is going to pull through. One form our self-deception takes is the disconcerting tendency to deny evidence that doesn’t cohere with what we think we already know, especially when it concerns ourselves (“I was drunk. Besides, everyone experiments in college. Everyone.”)
So, when I speak of belief I mean those things we really, truly, and deeply hold to be true, regardless (sometimes) of what our conscious convictions may be. Now why is it the case that we have not chosen those beliefs? Belief is our response to what we recognize as truth. Once the mind has accepted something as true, it has no choice but to believe. Indeed, we might simply define belief as the acceptance of (what we regard as) truth. But here again we must be careful. For “the mind” weaves all sorts of fantasies. My imaginary philosopher’s “mind,” after all, tells him there is no God. So it might be preferable to refer to the heart. Once the heart has accepted something as true, it has no choice but to believe.
Admittedly, this is awfully vague. But it is also defensibly vague. “The heart” is the organ of knowing we refer to when we want to warn our listeners that we are not talking about that fantasy weaving, superficial, facile “mind” that tells us things we don’t truly believe. There is a profound epistemological distinction in our vague language of “mind” and “heart.” Famously, Barry Goldwater’s campaign slogan was “In your heart you know he’s right.” (Trump could use this, to great effect.) Imagine if it had been “In your mind you know he’s right.” This would have been immeasurably weaker, because we all know that it is in “the heart” that we truly believe, whatever our minds may say. Yes, it’s all very vague. But in your heart you know exactly what I mean, and that I’m right.
Now, I have said that once we recognize the truth we have no choice but to believe. This claim will be resisted, because we can all think of many instances where we recognized the truth but denied it. But what is going on in cases of “denial” is that the mind is reacting against a deeper-level recognition of truth. Suppose our philosopher gets to the hospital and finds that his wife was not alone in that car. A man was with her, one with whom she’d been having an affair. As the course of her day is pieced together, all the evidence points to this. “It’s not true,” says our philosopher, “it can’t be true.” But he knows that it is; that’s why he protests so much. And six months later he’ll be saying to a bartender, with perfect sincerity, “The truth is that I knew it all along. I just didn’t want to admit it to myself.”
The word “belief” is Anglo-Saxon. Old English geliefan meant “to be dear to” and “to trust.” This is highly significant. I have often immediately trusted or distrusted someone. Even if I “came to trust” a man, once that trust was established it was closer to an emotion than to the conclusion of a chain of reasoning. And the same is true, obviously, of loving another. I don’t come to love as the result of a process of thought. Sometimes I love when, rationally, it may seem foolish to do so. Sometimes I love for reasons that defy rational explanation entirely. I love family members even when I have to admit that I don’t really like them. This wasn’t, again, something I chose.
To believe — really and truly — is like trusting and loving. The part of “the heart” that “knows” pulls me in certain directions, and I have no choice but to follow. In my “heart of hearts” there are certain things I believe, and other things I can never be made to believe. Just as there are certain people I love or trust, and others I cannot be talked into loving or trusting. Our hearts love and trust the truth: and when we recognize the truth we are smitten. There is no choice in the matter. The only choice exists in “the mind,” and its ability to affirm that we believe, or to deny it.
Socrates in the Theaetetus toys with defining knowledge as “true belief with an account.” This has created a veritable cottage industry in Anglo-American philosophy, with rivers of ink spilled over the question of what “justified, true belief” really means. Much of what has been written on the subject is actually hilariously funny, but unintentionally so. This literature has fostered the idea that if we can’t provide a justification for our beliefs then we don’t know anything. But we have all had the experience of truly, deeply believing something, without being able to provide an “account” for why we believe — and then finding ourselves vindicated. We knew all along. Therefore, knowledge does not have to be justified true belief.
Certainly, knowledge has to be true. We cannot say “I know that Rudolf Hess is on Mars” — the kind of thing Miguel Serrano claimed. Well, we can say this, but it has no legitimate claim to being knowledge, since it is false. We have sent probes to Mars, and there was no sign of Hess. So what we have to conclude in this case is that Serrano believed that Hess (the real Hess, not the double locked up in Spandau prison) was on Mars, but he believed something that was false. However, did Serrano really, truly believe? I’m guessing that the answer is no. Nevertheless, we must face the fact that it is possible to believe things — deep in our heart of hearts — that aren’t true. As I have said: once the heart has accepted something as true it has no choice but to believe. But the heart can be wrong about truth.
I would maintain the following, however: when the heart believes, most of the time it is right. Most of the time it is a reliable guide. There have been countless instances in my life when I followed my head rather than my heart. And in almost every case I have regretted my actions. Lest we lose sight of the point here, what I mean is that often in my life I have not consulted what I truly believe. Instead, I have actively denied or repressed my beliefs. I have seldom acted on the basis of wishful thinking — but I have often acted based on spurious “reasoning.”
I would say that discovering what I truly believe has been one of the great efforts of my life, one that is a continual struggle. And as a White Nationalist, one of my major tasks, as I see it, is helping others to discover what they truly believe.
As I have pointed out many times, it is our views that are in accord with the facts of reality, and with nature. (See, for example, my essay “The Invisible Ideology.”) As I have said, it is possible to believe — deep down — things that are completely false. And yet I don’t think that many white liberals believe, deep down, that they are right. Recall my earlier example of the cuckolded husband, our philosophy professor, who confesses to his bartender “I knew it all along.” What kind of evidence had been staring him in the face for months, or possibly years?
I had a cousin in a similar situation. Her husband was cheating on her. He had to “work late.” The phone would ring at odd hours, and only once (a signal). The archetypal blond hair was found on the lapel of his Brooks Brothers suit, etc. Yet, when the affair was finally exposed, my cousin was aghast. Several years later, however, she confessed that she “knew it all along.” What had horrified and angered her at the time was not the fact of the affair, but being confronted with it in such a way that denial was no longer possible. And this is a key, I think, to understanding the rage some white liberals direct toward our kind.
When white liberals are confronted with the facts about race, immigration, and the sexes, their rage is not just due to having their cherished beliefs challenged. It is due to having their doubts confirmed. More than that: it is the result of having their worst fears confirmed. For if we are right, dear reader, then everything is very, very wrong. You would think people would appreciate being told that they are teetering on the edge of an abyss. Alas, no.
My father and I have had an uneasy relationship for many years. I have always given him credit for intelligence and nonconformity, so I naively shared my views with him more than a decade ago. To my shock he exploded in rage, shouting “I think you’re sick!” Hard to bounce back from a thing like that. So, we now try to avoid politics. And yet it creeps in occasionally and the impression I get from time to time is that he agrees with me, but won’t admit it.
I felt sympathy for him when I finally realized that the man is terrified. Like a lot of old people (he’s in his 80s) he’d like to believe that things are going to go on after he’s gone, and that they’re going to be okay. But everything I have to offer him screams that things will not be okay, that they’re coming apart at the seams. And that the country he served for years in the military is headed for the dustbin of history.
My father knows what the truth is. He sees it all around him. At least, on a certain level. What makes him mad as hell is when somebody forces him to acknowledge it. I don’t see much of a point in continuing to argue with my father. But when the forbidden subjects come up he seems calmer now. And I often say, gently, “I know that you know this.” Or “I know that you see this.” He gets a funny look on his face. He’s uncomfortable, but he’s almost smiling. It’s a look I’ve seen on the faces of others, since I now increasingly try this tactic.
Really, we’re not telling them anything that they don’t already know. We’re helping them to discover what they already believe. In their hearts, they know we’re right.