Archive for the 'Morality and Philosphy' Category
Posted by Jonathan on 13th April 2014 (All posts by Jonathan)
Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the ‘transcendent’ and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.
This wears well.
Posted in Arts & Letters, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior, Morality and Philosphy, Quotations, Rhetoric, Tradeoffs | 6 Comments »
Posted by Lexington Green on 9th January 2014 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Our good friend Seth Barrett Tillman has an excellent article, part personal narrative, part meditation on the basis of conflict between Arabs and Jews, based on thoughts on the book of Esther.
The article, “Purim & My Bangladeshi Friend” may be found by clicking here.
On the Jewish holiday of Purim the practice is to read the book of Esther. Purim is on March 15-16 in 2014. It is not a widespread practice, but I know Catholics who read the book of Esther on Purim, and I read it last year for the first time. If you have never read it, you should. It is only about 6,000 words, the length of a long article, not a book. You can find it here.
As Seth notes, while the story is one of survival for the Jews, it also shows the sorrow and disgrace suffered by every defeated people at the hands of their conquerors.
Every year at Purim, my co-religionists and I read Esther. The story, as customarily explained to children, is that Esther won a contest . . . something akin to the modern beauty pageant. The prize was that she was made queen – the wife of the Persian emperor. As a result, by pleading to her husband on behalf of her brethren, she was well-situated to save the Jewish community from the nefarious Haman, who actively plotted genocide against the Jews. Esther’s courage thwarts Haman and the community is saved, although it remained in exile. The story is presented as one with a happy ending.
But, that is the story as it is told to our children.
By contrast, an adult, who considered Esther, would understand that the story of Purim is also an intensely sad story.
Highly recommended. RTWT.
Posted in Arts & Letters, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Morality and Philosphy, Personal Narrative, Religion | 2 Comments »
Posted by Zenpundit on 23rd September 2013 (All posts by Zenpundit)
Cross-posted from zenpundit.com
David Ronfeldt, RAND strategist and theorist has done a deep two-part review of America 3.0 over at his Visions from Two Theories blog. Ronfeldt has been spending the last few years developing his TIMN analytic framework (Tribes, Institutions [hierarchical], Markets and Networks) which you can get a taste from here and here or a full reading with this RAND paper.
David regards the familial structure thesis put forward by James Bennett and Michael Lotus in America 3.0 as “captivating” and “compelling” for ”illuminating the importance of the nuclear family for America’s evolution in ways that, in my view, help validate and reinforce TIMN”. Both reviews are detailed and should be read in their entirety, but I will have some excerpts below:
America 3.0 illuminates significance of nuclear families — in line with TIMN (Part 1 of 2)
….Bennett and Lotus show at length (Chapter 2, pp. 29-45) that the nuclear family explains a lot about our distinctive culture and society:
“It has caused Americans to have a uniquely strong concept of each person as an individual self, with an identity that is not bound by family or tribal or social ties. … Our distinctive type [of] American nuclear family has made us what we are.” (p. 29)And “what we are” as a result is individualistic, liberty-loving, nonegalitarian (without being inegalitarian), competitive, enterprising, mobile, and voluntaristic. In addition, Americans tend to have middle-class values, an instrumental view of government, and a preference for suburban lifestyles.
As the authors carefully note, these are generally positive traits, but they have both bright and dark sides, noticeable for example in the ways they make America a “high-risk, high-return culture” (p. 38) — much to the bane of some individuals. The traits also interact in interesting ways, such that Americans tend to be loners as individuals and families, but also joiners “who form an incomprehensibly dense network of voluntary associations” — much to the benefit of civil society (p. 39).
In sum, the American-style nuclear family is the major cause of “American exceptionalism” — the basis of our freedom and prosperity, our “amazing powers of assimilation” (p. 53), and our unique institutions:
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Posted in Academia, America 3.0, Civil Society, History, Human Behavior, Markets and Trading, Morality and Philosphy, Organizational Analysis, Political Philosophy, Politics, Society, USA | 5 Comments »
Posted by Trent Telenko on 13th September 2013 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
There are few places in history where you see a stand unto death by western militaries that rivals that of the Spartans at Thermopylae. It takes a very special kind of “morale” and “moral” character for any military unit to fight effectively until killed. In 1973, on the Golan Heights, the IDF Armored Corps did just that.
In western military writings you hear a great deal about Avigdor Kahalani’s 77 Regiment of the 7th Armoured Brigade holding off the Syrians with fewer than 25 tanks and almost no ammunition at the end on the Golan Heights. What you don’t hear about is the 188th (Barak) Brigade, which held the southern Golan Heights and was wiped out, but did the following before it died, from this link:
Dead IDF Centurion Tank on the Golan Heights
The Syrian 1st Armored Division was advancing up the route toward the Golan HQ at Nafakh. Colonel Yitzhak Ben-Shoham, the Barak Brigade’s commander, realized his brigade was for all intents and purposes destroyed. He therefore organized and led a small group of surviving tanks in a holding action that slowed the Syrian advance on his HQ for several hours until he and the rest of the defenders were killed. With the brigade commander dead, no reserves in sight and two Syrian brigades advancing toward the Golan HQ–and with some units having bypassed the base on both flanks–the situation could only be described as grave. Lead elements of the Syrian brigades actually reached Nafakh and broke through the base’s southern perimeter. One Syrian T-55 crashed into General Eitan’s HQ, only to be knocked out by the last operational tank in Gringold’s platoon.
At that point, Eitan evacuated his headquarters to an improvised location farther to the north. Those left to defend the base manned two trackless Centurions from the camp repair depot and fired bazookas in a final stand that knocked out several Syrian tanks until those last Israeli tanks were destroyed.
The 188th Barak Brigade was no more.
That was very much a “Thermopylae” any way you cut it. There is a reason the “Valley of Tears” happened in 1973 as it did.
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Posted in History, Holidays, Israel, Middle East, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, War and Peace | 6 Comments »
Posted by Carl from Chicago on 15th July 2013 (All posts by Carl from Chicago)
I recently watched the excellent “Frontline” documentary “Two American Families” which followed two families from 1992 onward in Milwaukee as they struggled to stay middle class. The movie started with the main breadwinners in each family losing solid middle class union jobs and then starting an odyssey of lower wage jobs with no benefits, often during non-standard hours (the night shift).
While the families struggled, I actually was more interested in their children than the parents who were ostensibly the “stars” of the film. As the parents worked (both parents had to join the work force to make up for the lost wages) the children (three from one family, five from the second family) had to look after themselves since they were often left home alone after school.
While in New York City on the subway I came across these billboards which warned (potential?) single mothers very directly that if they had a child out of wedlock they faced a high chance of being a single mother and in poverty. The sign I saw had the quote:
If you finish high school, get a job, and get married before having children, you have a 98 percent chance of not being in poverty
From the results of the documentary, one of the children finished a four year college, and he appeared to be the most successful of the 8 kids they followed up on. Earlier in the documentary they showed him (his name was Keith) in college, struggling to get by and pay tuition bills on a credit card. Keith was not married and did not have children and in interviews stated pretty flatly that he didn’t want to get married and have a child until he was ready to support them. A second child went into the navy and was there for many years, before leaving and then re-enlisting as a private contractor in Afghanistan since he couldn’t find work in Milwaukee. A third kid (a woman) got an associates degree and (miraculously) did not get pregnant, and she was doing OK as a medical biller at a hospital in Milwaukee.
The other children didn’t seem to graduate high school or did and then didn’t go to college. Many of them had multiple children themselves (without getting married) from a variety of different partners. One of them was married (the girl who got an associates’ degree) but she was married to a guy who was out of work.
Each of these children, who were the real legacy of the troubles cited in the documentary, fell right into that concept that if you finish high school, get a job, and get married, you won’t live in poverty. One slight “tweak” to this rule might be to marry a spouse who works themselves or has some capacity to be a positive parent; some of the partners were obviously sulking or already disgruntled at an early age. Nowhere in the documentary did they directly point this out, although it was the central lesson from the film.
Cross posted at LITGM
Posted in Economics & Finance, Education, Morality and Philosphy, The Press | 9 Comments »
Posted by TM Lutas on 3rd July 2013 (All posts by TM Lutas)
Real social taboos cost you hits in the blogosphere. The persistent reduction in hit count every time I touched the subject of gay marriage finally twigged me to the fact that secular marriage has an entire set of cultural taboos associated with it and if you touch them, people run away. Your hit counts drop. Try analyzing why you have secular marriage at all and people suddenly turn dense, obtuse, and conflate religious with secular marriage at every opportunity. No fear, I won’t go into it in this post. This is more of a meta commentary.
Gay marriage advocates have skillfully deployed those taboos to achieve what they want, a change in public consensus regarding marriage that is playing out in the slow motion avalanche in favor of gay marriage. They are winning in large part because nobody wants to discuss to consensus what is secular marriage for. It’s too icky.
Once secular marriage’s split from religious marriage norms becomes large enough, courageous believers are going to dive into the ick and explain it, in great detail. There will be Catholics, Muslims, Jews as well as others explaining what they haven’t had to explain before because of the prior consensus that, if not perfect, was at least close enough to their beliefs to be acceptable. Social conservatives who look like your grandparents will be talking about sex, about dominance, about female and male emotional frailties that generally only come up in rare “moment of clarity” fashion for most people. It will be the biggest orgy of social transgressiveness to happen in decades and the traditional tribes of social transgressiveness are going to be running for the door with their ears plugged up crying out “la-la-la I can’t hear you” in an absolutely clarifying display of hypocrisy.
I can’t wait.
Posted in Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Religion, Society | 13 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 18th April 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
Most readers will have at least heard of the anti-Nazi resistance movement known as The White Rose, which was centered around the University of Munich.
On February 22, 1943, three leading members of the group–Hans Scholl, his sister Sophie Scholl, and their friend Christoph Probst–were tried by a “People’s Court” and sentenced to death. The sentences were carried out that same day.
The transcript of the People’s Court’s verdict provides useful insight into the totalitarian mind. It can be found here.
I have some comments on this document, but before posting them I’ll wait to see what others have to say.
What, if anything, particularly strikes you about the transcript?
Posted in Civil Liberties, Germany, History, Morality and Philosphy | 27 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 30th March 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
I have been kind of neutral on the whole gay marriage issue. I think it began as an artifact of the AIDS epidemic and an attempt to curb the promiscuity of male gay life. In the early days of the epidemic, I had to inform a very nice nuclear engineer that he was HIV positive. This was well before treatment had developed and it was a death sentence. He told me it was impossible because he had been in a monogamous relationship with his partner for ten years. What could I say ? I once had to inform a nice lady who was a Christian Scientist that she had breast cancer. Her response was that she was losing her breast and her religion at the same time.
It has been taken over by activists who are determined to validate their life style and to force conventional society to accept it as equivalent to heterosexual family life, which it is not. It is surprising the success they have had with the young who seem to accept the argument that it is a “civil rights” issue, which is, of course, nonsense. Mark Steyn usually has something worthwhile to say on most subjects and this time is no exception.
Gays will now be as drearily suburban as the rest of us. A couple of years back, I saw a picture in the paper of two chubby old queens tying the knot at City Hall in Vancouver, and the thought occurred that Western liberalism had finally succeeded in boring all the fun out of homosexuality.
He does have a sense of humor amid reflections on a dying culture.
In the upper echelons of society, our elites practice what they don’t preach. Scrupulously nonjudgmental about everything except traditional Christian morality, they nevertheless lead lives in which, as Charles Murray documents in his book Coming Apart, marriage is still expected to be a lifelong commitment. It is easy to see moneyed gay newlyweds moving into such enclaves, and making a go of it. As the Most Reverend Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, said just before his enthronement the other day, “You see gay relationships that are just stunning in the quality of the relationship.” “Stunning”: What a fabulous endorsement! But, amongst the type of gay couple that gets to dine with the Archbishop of Canterbury, he’s probably right.
The problem, as pointed out years ago by Vice President Dan Quayle, is that the elites set the pattern for those whose lives cannot succeed without the structures of traditional society. They set the pattern, unfortunately, by what they say, not what they do.
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Posted in Academia, Book Notes, Civil Society, Education, Human Behavior, Morality and Philosphy, Politics | 16 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 6th March 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
…since we lost Neptunus Lex
Here again are some of my favorite Lex posts, most but not all of which I linked last year at this time. All are very much worth reading.
The captain wakes before dawn…with a feeling that all is not well with the ship
Reading Solzhenitsyn at the US Naval Academy
Movie vs reality. Lex, who served as executive officer of the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), answers some question’s from his daughter’s friend about the movie.
Hornets, Tomcats, Scooters, Girls & Guys, Oh My!
Lex, in a pensive mood
Some reflections on a less-than-perfect carrier landing, a verbal interchange that probably shouldn’t have happened, and the nature of leadership
Have you ever killed anyone? asked the massage therapist, after learning that Lex had been in the Navy.
You’re having a dinner party and have the magical ability to invite 10 people–5 men and 5 women–from all of history. Who would you pick?
A troubled pilot and an F-18: Maybe they saved each other.
Colors and continuity.
Tennyson’s Ulysses, personalized and hyperlinked. Created by Lex to mark his retirement from the Navy. Perhaps my favorite of all of Lex’s posts, and particularly appropriate today.
Bill Brandt, a frequent Chicago Boyz commenter, has a tribute to the Captain at The Lexicans.
Posted in Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, Obits, Poetry, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 19th January 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
Bill Kristol (corrected thanks to Joe) has an excellent column today on where Republicans could go in the next four years. I have little confidence that the House GOP can bend Obama to their will on the deficit or spending. He is riding high with the aid of the mainstream press and TV. The public does not understand the spending issue, or at least not enough of us do. The Republicans represent the “Eat your vegetables or there will be no dessert” philosophy and that is not popular right now. What do we do ? Here is one suggestion.
He quotes UN Ambassador Pat Moynihan in 1975.
The United States goes into opposition. This is our circumstance. We are a minority. We are outvoted. This is neither an unprecedented nor an intolerable situation. The question is what do we make of it. So far we have made little—nothing—of what is in fact an opportunity. We go about dazed that the world has changed. We toy with the idea of stopping it and getting off. We rebound with the thought that if only we are more reasonable perhaps “they” will be. . . . But “they” do not grow reasonable. Instead, we grow unreasonable. A sterile enterprise which awaits total redefinition.
I feel much the same way. I would have much preferred the GOP to have voted “present” when the “fiscal cliff” matter was before the House. I would like to see them do the same when the debt ceiling issue is voted on. Let Obama have his way but show that we do not agree.
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Posted in Big Government, Business, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Middle East, Morality and Philosphy, Politics, United Nations | 64 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st January 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
I wish I were more enthusiastic but I still wish everyone a good year. The “fiscal cliff” talks have ended about as I expected. The Republicans have pretty much rolled over. The House has yet to vote and I wonder how that will go. If they all grew a spine (or some other anatomical parts) they would vote “present” and let the Democrats pass the bill by themselves. Drudge has a link to the Breitbart story.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the last-minute fiscal cliff deal reached by congressional leaders and President Barack Obama cuts only $15 billion in spending while increasing tax revenues by $620 billion—a 41:1 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts.
When Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush increased taxes in return for spending cuts—cuts that never ultimately came—they did so at ratios of 1:3 and 1:2.
“In 1982, President Reagan was promised $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes,” Americans for Tax Reform says of those two incidents. “The tax hikes went through, but the spending cuts did not materialize. President Reagan later said that signing onto this deal was the biggest mistake of his presidency.
“In 1990, President George H.W. Bush agreed to $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes. The tax hikes went through, and we are still paying them today. Not a single penny of the promised spending cuts actually happened.”
This will be another such fake compromise. However, The Gods of the Copybook Headings are coming.
In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”
Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew,
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four –
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
It’s too long to post all of it and, for those who are unsure of the source of the title, copybooks were supplied for all school children in England, when it was still England. The copy books had traditional aphorisms on each page that children were expected to learn.
Another expression that relates to the books was someone “blotted his copybook.” This meant making an error that was difficult to correct.
The “copybook headings” to which the title refers were proverbs or maxims, extolling virtues such as honesty or fair dealing that were printed at the top of the pages of 19th-century British students’ special notebook pages, called copybooks. The school-children had to write them by hand repeatedly down the page.
The work has been described as “beautifully captur[ing] the thinking of Schumpeter and Keynes.” David Gilmour says that while topics of the work are the “usual subjects”, the commentary “sound better in verse” while Alice Ramos says that they are “far removed from Horace’s elegant succinctness” but do “make the same point with some force.”
I don’t think I would agree that Keynes is an example of the copybook headings’ wisdom although his recommendations have been wildly distorted by politicians.
We are coming to a period when math will be far more determinant than wishful thinking in terms of our lives.
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man –
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began –
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire –
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
Hopefully, not this year. Happy New Year.
Posted in Anglosphere, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Education, Human Behavior, Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Poetry, Public Finance | 5 Comments »
Posted by Shannon Love on 3rd November 2012 (All posts by Shannon Love)
[Note: This post isn't really about abortion itself but instead about the exception Democrats make for the issue of abortion in their ideology. It didn't have to be abortion with all it's related moral and legal complexity. It could have been some other medical procedure or anything that affects the human body. Don't get distracted by the broader issues of abortion itself.]
The 2012 Democratic platform states:
The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way.. [emp added]
The Democrats claim to support abortion, even to the extremes, because they believe that women own their own bodies and have the right to perfectly control anything that happens to those bodies. They argue that as long as any part of the fetus/infant remains inside the woman’s body, it directly affects her body and she has a right kill the fetus if she so chooses. Any interference in that choice is social and government violation of the principle of self-ownership and control.
That sounds good … but the Democrats are obviously lying. The Democrats don’t really believe that women own their own bodies nor that women have an innate right to control what happens to those bodies.
I state that with perfect confidence because once you stop to think about it, it becomes obvious that the Democrats commitment to “Our bodies, our choice,” begins and ends with abortion.
Far from being the natural outgrowth of a broad philosophical commitment to the idea of self-ownership and control of our own bodies, the Democrats stance on the right to abortion is the sole and glaring exception to an ideology that otherwise treats the bodies of women like the bodies of government owned cattle.
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Posted in Civil Liberties, Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Political Philosophy, Religion | 7 Comments »
Posted by Trent Telenko on 1st November 2012 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
The Human trafficking scandal involving Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) raises further questions about the Obama Administration’s troubling record of selectively enforcing American law for political gain, and the Main Stream Media’s active cooperation with that agenda.
The Drudge Report broke a scandal involving Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) going to a tier 3 Human Trafficking nation — the Dominican Republic — to visit prostitutes. According to the State Department here These are the following U.S. Laws on Trafficking in Persons that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is in jeopardy from —
1. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 (P.L. 106-386),
2. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 (H.R. 2620),
3. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (H.R. 972), and
4. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (H.R. 7311), also known as the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.
The TVPA laws are set up for easy extra-territorial law enforcement as they are laws where guilt is a matter of fact and not intent.
Statutory Rape Laws are an example of a law of fact. It does not matter if you didn’t know the person you were sleeping with was under age. If you slept with him or her, you are guilty. Being drunk or any other excuse only applies to the penalty phase, not the guilt or innocence of a felony sex offender conviction.
Similarly, under the TVPA, if you are an American citizen and sleep with a 15-year old prostitute in a Tier 3 nation like Thailand or the Dominican Republic. You are going to be in jeopardy not just for sleeping with a prostitute, but the American age of consent applied to you over seas. Even if the local age of consent is very much under that of the American state the visiting American is legal resident of. [Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) is subject to age provisions of New Jersey Permanent Statues, Title 2C, Chapter 14, Section 2]
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Posted in Americas, Anglosphere, Crime and Punishment, Morality and Philosphy, National Security, Politics | 17 Comments »
Posted by Shannon Love on 22nd September 2012 (All posts by Shannon Love)
Mitt Romney gave 29.65% of his income last year to charity and gave an average of 13.5% over the last 20 years. No surprise. He’s a Mormon. That’s what they do along with wacky things like staying married, paying attention to their children, being involved in their communities and other things that Leftists find strange and disturbing. The people we should really be surprised to find generous are the only notionally religious Leftists like Kerry, Edwards, Biden and Obama.
Surprise! The ironclad faith of Secular-Leftists in themselves as vastly more compassionate than anyone else, is, according to the best research, nothing but self-righteous, egomaniacal, self-aggrandizement. Leftists make the Pharisees of New Testament parable look pretty good in comparison. At least when the Pharisees bragged about their piety and how much they gave to the Temple, they actually performed the rituals and gave money. Leftists brag about how compassionate they are and then don’t give much from their own time and pocket books.
This would be a good time to mention again Arthur C. Brooks’ Who Really Cares, which, as near as I can tell, is the only scientific (as much as sociology can be scientific) study of charitable giving in the US. Brooks was very careful in methodology correcting for variables of income, race, etc as well as breaking apart giving to religious versus secular charities.
I found a summary online [PDF] that covers most of the findings of the book in condensed form.. It makes an eye opening read if you’ve always taken the Left’s self-mythology for granted.
Some choice bits:
Conservatives are more likely to give to charity than liberals, but only by a percentage point or two. Liberals, on the other hand, are more likely to volunteer their time than conservatives, but only by a percentage point or two. This might make it seem as if there really isn’t that much difference between the two groups when it comes to giving. However, when factors like average dollar amounts donated are examined, the differences become striking: “In 2000, households headed by a conservative gave, on average, 30 percent more money than a household headed by a liberal.” This, despite the fact that families headed by liberals earned more on average than conservative families.
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Posted in Book Notes, Leftism, Libertarianism, Morality and Philosphy, Political Philosophy, Religion, Society | 14 Comments »
Posted by Zenpundit on 1st September 2012 (All posts by Zenpundit)
Cross-posted from zenpundit.com
Professor Harvey C. Mansfield of Harvard University and a fellow at the Hoover Institution is famous for his scholarship on classical political philosophy (I often recommend his edition on Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy) as well as his provocative commentary on social and political issues. While I liked his take on Machiavelli, I warmed to him further when, after his book on manliness came out and some reporter asked Mansfield if it was “manly” to carry a gun? He answered to the effect, “Yes, but not as manly as carrying a sword”.
Mansfield has a new article out in Defining Ideas on the nature of elections and democracy worth reading:
Are You Smarter Than a Freshman?
….Machiavelli believes that human beings are divided into the few who want to rule and the many who do not care to rule themselves but do not want to be ruled by others either. Then those who want to rule must conceal their rule from the many they rule if they wish to succeed. How can they do this? Machiavelli went about conceiving a “new mode of ruling,” a hidden government that puts the people “under a dominion they do not see.” Government is hidden when it appears not to be imposed on you from above but when it comes from you, when it is self-imposed.
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Posted in Academia, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Elections, History, Human Behavior, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy, Politics | 2 Comments »
Posted by Ginny on 26th August 2012 (All posts by Ginny)
Weekly Standard. Breitbart.
This is difficult territory. But someone I deeply respect, whose background is evangelical, said he saw abortion in about any circumstances as deeply wrong; he’s also voting for Obama. The schism between sides may mean he hasn’t been exposed to audios like those linked above. Or he doesn’t want to know. So, this is difficult because that Illinois hearing and its transcripts define an in-your-face position.
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Posted in Elections, Morality and Philosphy, Obama | 15 Comments »
Posted by Shannon Love on 24th August 2012 (All posts by Shannon Love)
Sorry I haven’t been blogging any during the last eight months but the truth is that I’ve been wrestling with a big decision that affects everyone and I didn’t quite know how to explain it. Now, I’ve come to a decision and I think it only right that I inform you all of it so that you have some time to prepare yourself.
Here goes… I’m turning off the Universe.
Yep, that’s right, the whole shebang, from littlest Higgs Boson to the greatest galaxy clusters. Say goodnight, Gracie.
I know this will be hard to accept, but, you see, you’re not real. I mean, you are real as far as the experience of yourself and every other human being you know of but you aren’t, you know, real real.
I’m not explaining this very well.
You see, I wrote you. That is to say I programmed you. I programmed you and every other person, place and thing in your universe. You’re just a simulation, a very big video game, based loosely on once-real people, places and things that I created. Not only did I create the simulation but I can start it, stop it, rewind it and alter it at will.
And all that kinda makes me god. I mean not GOD god but just god of the universe you experience. Let’s just say, “god as far as you are concerned.”
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Posted in Christianity, Human Behavior, Morality and Philosphy, Religion, Science | 19 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 4th August 2012 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
I was struck yesterday by a post on Ann Althouse’s blog, and by a Virginia Postrel piece that makes the same point, how wrong Obama was to say “You didn’t build that..”
The incident, so characteristic of this leftist ideologue president, is the stimulus for theorizing about how economies work, and perhaps why this one is so stuck with Obama in the White House.
There is an excellent analysis by David Warren printed last year in Canada and which I have saved. It is a comparison of Obama with Gorbachev and brings considerable light on the subject of success of nations.
Yet they do have one major thing in common, and that is the belief that, regardless of what the ruler does, the polity he rules must necessarily continue. This is perhaps the most essential, if seldom acknowledged, insight of the post-modern “liberal” mind: that if you take the pillars away, the roof will continue to hover in the air.
Gorbachev seemed to assume, right up to the fall of the Berlin Wall and then beyond it, that his Communist Party would recover from any temporary setbacks, and that the long-term effects of his glasnost and perestroika could only be to make it bigger and stronger.
There is a corollary of this largely unspoken assumption: that no matter what you do to one part of a machine, the rest of the machine will continue to function normally.
This brief discussion fits well with the book that was recommended by the Postrel piece.
The Bad History Behind ‘You Didn’t Build That’
By Virginia Postrel
The controversy surrounding President Barack Obama’s admonishment that “if you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen” has defied the usual election-year pattern.
Normally a political faux pas lasts little more than a news cycle. People hear the story, decide what they think, and quickly move on to the next brouhaha, following what the journalist Mickey Kaus calls the Feiler Faster Thesis. A gaffe that might have ruined a candidate 20 years ago is now forgotten within days.
Three weeks later, Obama’s comment is still a big deal.
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Posted in Big Government, Britain, Business, Civil Society, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Entrepreneurship, France, Human Behavior, Judaism, Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy | 9 Comments »
Posted by Charles Cameron on 29th April 2012 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
[ introducing the world of problem solvers and creatives to the world of theologians and contemplatives and vice versa -- and then, Simone Weil -- cross-posted from Zenpundit ]
I believe this is an important post in its own way, though a short one: because it links two areas that I believe are joined at the hip in “reality” but seldom linked together in thinking about either one.
I mean, creativity, as in the guys working away in the garage on something that when it emerges will be the new Apple, and grace, the mysterious and mercurial manner in which inspiration touches down on us…
In the first part of this post, then, I would simply like to suggest that those entrepreneurial folk who follow their dreams — typically into garages or caves — and beg borrow and steal from relatives, friends and passing acquaintances the funds they need to continue their pursuit of some goal or grail under the rubric “do what you love and the money will follow” are, in fact, following a variant of a far earlier rubric, “seek ye first the kingdom of God … and all these things shall be added unto you” – and that creative insight or aha! is in fact a stepped down and secular version of what theology has long termed epiphany – the shining through of the eternal into our mortal lives.
But this will get preachy if I belabor the point: what I am hoping to do is to open the literatures of the world’s contemplative traditions to the interest of “creatives” and the literatures of creativity, problem solving, and autopioesis to the interest of theologians and contemplatives…
And Simone Weil.
Simone Weil, a philosopher I very much admire, wrote a book of superb beauty and wisdom titled Gravity and Grace. I must suppose that her title was somewhere in the back room of my mind, working quietly away behind the scenes, when the title for this post popped up.
Weil is, shall we say, hard liquor for the mind and spirit — highly distilled, potent, to be sipped, no more than two paragraphs or pages at a time…
A Jew who loved the Mass yet refused baptism, an ally of communists and a resistance fighter against the Nazis, a factory worker, mystic, philosopher. The poster at the top of this post is for a film of her life: I doubt it will be a comfortable film, but the discomfort will likely be of the inspirational kind.
Posted in Entrepreneurship, Morality and Philosphy | 14 Comments »
Posted by Carl from Chicago on 3rd March 2012 (All posts by Carl from Chicago)
When I was a consultant I traveled throughout the US and worked in many different states and regions. I grew up in the Midwest, where my core values were shaped. A general description of these values in business would be a variant of the “golden rule” – from wikipedia:
The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a maxim, ethical code, or morality that essentially states either of the following:
(Positive form): One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.
(Negative/prohibitive form, also called the Silver Rule): One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated.
This concept describes a “reciprocal” or “two-way” relationship between one’s self and others that involves both sides equally and in a mutual fashion.
This sort of approach wasn’t out of the “goodness of your heart”, it was a fair and reasonable way to approach your customer or supplier. An example – you are working on a job at a price that you both agreed upon, and then you find that things are significantly different than planned and you will come up far short of your original profitability or even lose money on the job – what do you do?
You approach the customer, subtly, and describe some of the new or unseen events that have changed the scope of the project since inception. The customer has a few options – they can 1) give you nothing and tell you to “eat the difference” 2) split the difference on some of the unforeseen items which may not make you whole but softens the blow 3) not change the current deal at all but implicitly or explicitly tell you that there are future opportunities to make yourself whole.
More often than not, we eventually came to a #2 type resolution, although it was often linked with a #3 type opportunity. Rarely were we just told to “pound sand” and take the #1 option.
Why is it this way? On the surface it would seem that, as a customer, #1 would always be preferable. You have a binding contract, why not stick it to your vendor? A few reasons – a bitter vendor is unlikely to do good work, and will look at the contract in detail to find a way to stick it back to you by living to the “letter” not “spirit” of the agreement. An additional component is that if you behave as if life was a series of single transactions with no consequences to others (i.e. a series of #1 events), you eventually end up with a reputation as a “bad customer” and this will come to damage you in various ways; often it will get raised from the vendors boss to the customers’ boss at the golf course or some other type of less formal venue; and most companies don’t want a reputation for being difficult and vindictive. An additional element is that this type of behavior is generally not how people in the Midwest live their lives – it will probably be correlated with other types of behaviors (selfishness, not looking out for co-workers, extreme ambition) that will lead to at least a mild ostracism or at least career damage.
The second part of a series of #1 issues is that the SUPPLIER can just walk away from the job in the first place if they aren’t going to earn a sufficient profit. Sure, you can sue them, but the courts take forever and meanwhile, whatever project you hired the supplier for in the first place is languishing (i.e. a product launch, or a cost reduction project, etc…). This is a variant of the golden rule on the part of the supplier, which means that they have an obligation to do the best work possible under the spirit of the agreement to make the purchaser look good.
In my limited experience the apex of #1 experiences on all side was New York. Even the simplest item became a desperate bargaining scrum, with both sides scouring the other for weaknesses and gleefully “sticking it to them” whenever possible. If you approached a NY transaction with the attitude of a midwesterner, you were going to get screwed, because they were going to walk all over you and push for favorable terms and lord over you their advantages while you would be loathe to use the same tactics in return. Soon even the dimmest types have to take on #1 attitudes, and then regular update meetings are just taking turns throwing the other guy “under the bus” and scheming to leverage the fine print. A real joy.
The difficulty with #1 behavior is that it “negates” itself when confronted by both parties using this set of tactics. Now you get back to equilibrium, but the entire transaction and work effort is bitter and poisoned. As far as future work, you just “roll forward” your grievances into the NEXT transaction and find ever more creative ways to win with #1 tactics in the future, as both sides escalate.
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Posted in Chicagoania, Economics & Finance, Morality and Philosphy | 10 Comments »
Posted by TM Lutas on 29th February 2012 (All posts by TM Lutas)
Francesca Minerva and Alberto Giubilini wrote a paper entitled After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?. They were subsequently shocked that their argument in favor of infanticide instead of putting up for adoption led to death threats.
There is something deeply wrong in the state of modern, academic philosophy and ethics. The first problem is in making the argument. The second is in being so isolated from society that the reaction to the article surprises them.
Update: The journal article has been moved and now resides behind a paywall.
Posted in Academia, Medicine, Morality and Philosphy | 9 Comments »
Posted by onparkstreet on 11th January 2012 (All posts by onparkstreet)
In a previous post, I asked a question about leverages in terms of foreign policy:
A key–an essential–question on leverages at Abu Muqawama (Dr. Andrew Exum):
Where things get tricky is when one tries to decide what to do about that. The principle problem is one that has been in my head watching more violent crackdowns in Bahrain and Egypt: the very source of U.S. leverage against the regimes in Bahrain and Egypt is that which links the United States to the abuses of the regime in the first place. So if you want to take a “moral” stand against the abuses of the regime in Bahrain and remove the Fifth Fleet, congratulations! You can feel good about yourself for about 24 hours — or until the time you realize that you have just lost the ability to schedule a same-day meeting with the Crown Prince to press him on the behavior of Bahrain’s security forces. Your leverage, such as it was, has just evaporated. The same is true in Egypt. It would feel good, amidst these violent clashes between the Army and protesters, to cut aid to the Egyptian Army. But in doing so, you also reduce your own leverage over the behavior of the Army itself.
Okay, so we have leverage with an Army cracking down on its own people, an Army fattened on US military aid and training. I thought bilateral military training was supposed to mitigate the worst instincts of some armies? Isn’t that the theory? What does it mean to have leverage? To what end? To what purpose? I don’t know the answer and I don’t think anyone does, so Dr. Exum has a point. We have no strategy (link goes to Zen) within which to place “trade offs”. Well, if we do, I can’t see it.
Greg Scoblete at The Compass (RealClearWorld) asks the question in a much better fashion (I enjoy reading that blog, whether I agree or disagree with specific points):
But all of this begs an important question – leverage for what? The idea is that the U.S. invests in places like Bahrain and Egypt because it needs or wants something in return. During the Cold War, it was keeping these states out of the Soviet orbit. In the 1990s and beyond, it was ensuring these states remained friendly with Israel and accommodative to U.S. military power in the region. Today, what? What is it that U.S. policy requires from Egypt and Bahrain that necessitates supporting these regimes during these brutal crack downs?
How should we view American policy toward the Middle East? What is the larger strategic framework within which we ought to view the various relationships? What is the optimal posture for the United States? Folks, I don’t know. I’d love to know your opinions on the subject.
Posted in Blogging, History, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics, Russia, Society, Terrorism, United Nations, USA, War and Peace | 8 Comments »
Posted by Shannon Love on 6th November 2011 (All posts by Shannon Love)
Every year, thousands of boy and girl scouts head out into the wild and set up camp sites. They even do so on a scale of thousands when they have Jamborees. Even more impressively, the vast majority of the people organizing and doing the work are just teenagers. We see the same level of impressive self-organization when natural disasters hit. Strangers instantly come together to pool limited resources and help each other out. Within hours, they can create a physically safe and emotionally supportive ad hoc community while they wait for outside help to arrive.
Given all that, just how pathetic is it that the various “Occupy” mobs can’t even come close to providing the same level of effective self-organization in their little campground cum shantytowns? Even the most trivial decisions take hours of protracted debate that often end without deciding on an action. The “Occupiers” in many cities have rioted, attacking random individuals and destroying businesses large and small. Almost all of the sites nationwide are plagued internally by violence and theft. The New York Occupy campground has even had to establish a women’s only tent to prevent rapes.
Do these pathetic, immature, egocentric twits actually expect the rest of us to allow them to influence any major public policy? When people are losing jobs and homes and entire communities and even states are sliding into bankruptcy, why would we turn to such overt incompetents for leadership? If they can’t manage a campground or honestly manage 500,000 donated dollars, why would we think they can manage a city government or regulate a bank?
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Posted in Anti-Americanism, Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Politics | 14 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 4th November 2011 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
I started following what I called “The Affair of the Danish Mo-Toons” way back at the very beginning of that particular imbroglio, followed by the ruckus last year over “Everybody Draw Mohammad” and now we seem to have moved on to the Charlie Hebdo fiasco – a French satirical magazine dared to poke fun at the founder of Islam … by putting a cartoon version on the cover of their latest issue, with the result that their offices were firebombed. I think at this point it would have been fair to assume that representatives of the Religion of Peace would respond in a not-quite-so peaceful manner, so all props for the Charlie Hebdo management for even going ahead with it – for even thinking of standing up for freedom of thought, freedom of a press, even freedom to take the piss out of a target. (The following is what I wrote last year – still relevant to this latest case) Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Civil Society, Islam, Morality and Philosphy, Religion, That's NOT Funny, The Press | 8 Comments »
Posted by Joseph Fouche on 15th October 2011 (All posts by Joseph Fouche)
Like other commenters, I was struck by this observation of Lex’s while he related his tale of his initial Occupy Chicago encounter:
My hatred of the Boomers, who have brainwashed and wasted these kids
is boundless. There is nothing wrong with them. They have just never
been taught anything but bullshit. They have been betrayed by their
parents and their teachers. It is very depressing. The country has
been shamefully dumbed down.
Three weeks ago, Thomas S. Monson, the president of my church, observed:
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Posted in Morality and Philosphy, Political Philosophy, Rhetoric | 35 Comments »