Helplessness – avoid the plague – be a good person

Week 28, 2020


Learned helplessness is when a person or animal is repeatedly exposed to a stimulus they are unable to escape at that moment. Ultimately, the thought settles in the subconscious of the human or animal that they have no control over the situation. Their behaviour manifests an acceptance that there is nothing they can do to get away from the discomfort or to improve their situation.

Even when there is an opportunity later to escape the source of their discomfort, or a way to improve their situation, this learned helplessness prevents them from seizing the opportunity.

Because they expect something bad to happen and because they believe they are powerless to do something about it, they do nothing. They simply endure the pain and discomfort. This is despite their ability to at least reduce the pain and discomfort, or even to escape from their situation.

The fact that they do not have to endure pain and discomfort, even that they can create an environment and situation where they can be mostly happy and satisfied, does not permeate the haze of helplessness.

The person who had the potential to be happy and content, and even help other people to deactivate their learned helplessness and be happy and content, remains helpless, unhappy and dissatisfied. The potential remains unfulfilled.


A father tells his children, “Don’t bother. You won’t make it anyway.” Considering the enormous negative effect this could have on the children’s lives, one could argue that the father is a wicked person.

If someone – especially someone in a position of authority – tells people that positive self-esteem and a good degree of confidence are problematic, that they should rather knock their self-esteem a few ticks down and lower their self-confidence, an argument can be made that this person has a toxic influence over others, and that he or she should be avoided like the plague.

By the way, individuals commit crimes, not communities or groups. Individuals study hard and get good grades, not communities or groups. Individuals work hard, and get good jobs, not communities or groups.

Here, then, is today’s educational lesson, compliments of Twitter (click on the tweet to read the thread):

The City of Seattle held a training session for white employees called “Interrupting Internalized Racial Superiority and Whiteness.”

So I did a public records request to find out exactly what this means. Let’s go through it together in this thread. 👇

— Christopher F. Rufo (@realchrisrufo) July 6, 2020


Any reasonable person knows crying wolf is a bad idea. You want to save your warnings for real danger.

A warning is certainly what James M. Masnov gives in the introductory paragraph of his article, “History Killers: The Academic Fraudulence of the 1619 Project”. He speaks of the beginning of a new dark age, in which people who believe in liberal values wage an existential struggle with dark powers.

In the remainder of the article, he discusses the controversial 1619 Project, in which the author, Nikole Hannah-Jones, argues that slavery lies at the real foundation of the United States; that 1776 was not the beginning of the United States, but rather 1619, when the first slaves arrived, and that the American War of Independence was waged against Britain to protect the institution of slavery.

Masnov explains why the central idea behind the 1619 Project is historically false. He also argues how liberalism provides better answers to what is still wrong with America than what the so-called Social Justice movement and organisations like Black Lives Matter can offer.

But the first paragraph definitely hits the hardest. And unless you have buried your head in the sand, you should be able to see the outline of the wolf he warns about.

“History Killers: The Academic Fraudulence of the 1619 Project”


A significant proportion of Western political, educational, intellectual and cultural figures in dominant positions want non-black people to think of themselves as racists. To me, thinking of myself that way is simply not valuable. Such a way of thinking holds no practical value for me.

What is of practical value to me, however, is to think of myself as someone who does not judge someone on his or her skin colour or ethnicity, but rather on the content of their character. From years of experience I have learned that people respond well to this, and that it leads to positive and constructive social and professional relationships.

Also from first-hand experience, and from what I can gather from other people’s experiences, it seems to be an approach that works for many other people on both sides of the social interaction. So it makes sense for me to keep doing what works.

FRIDAY, 10 JULY 2020

At one point in my life, I was idealistic and held on to romantic ideas of a more ideal world. I also believed that I would never abandon my idealism.

Disenchantment struck when I learned that the German Nazis were also seen as romantic in their belief in a pure Aryan Germany, without Jews or other nasty non-Germans. Same reaction when I read that the Taliban in Afghanistan, and later ISIS in Iraq and Syria, were similarly viewed as idealists who believed in a romantic ideal of men with beards and women who obeyed their men, in a society that looked like eighth-century Arabia, and governed by similar laws and regulations.

Obviously, romantic and idealistic had meanings other than giving flowers to your girlfriend on Valentine’s Day, or cherishing dreams of becoming a writer.

There was also a time when I believed “left” meant to be interested in justice for all, especially for society’s underdogs, and that leftists cared more about their fellow human beings; also that “conservative” was applied to people who wanted to push religion down people’s throats, and who believed big corporations should have a bigger say in how society is governed than the ordinary man or woman on the street.

I also had naive ideas about revolutions, and about socialism. A few books on Mao and Stalin, and on Red China and the Soviet Union, did manage to spell out the reality of communist states quite clearly. I was also aware that I was attracted to socialism because I was bad at hustling for more money in a free market system.

Finally, it should be mentioned that at one point I was impressed with the idea that philosophers, and other academics, should not only study the world, but change it. People want their lives and their work to matter. Who would be happy analysing the world if they can do so much more? The idea that academics cannot be activists and still be faithful to the objective study of their subject was not so clear to me at the time. After all, if you are an activist, how can you look at numbers and names and other clues and go where they take you if you’ve already decided where you want to go? The same goes for journalists.

That’s all I wanted to say. Good day.