(Via Dan Mitchell: Milton Friedman, Adam Smith, and Other People’s Money – well worth reading.)
Archive for the 'Political Philosophy' Category
Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 7th May 2016 (All posts by Michael Hiteshew)
For all his persuasiveness, incompetence is Satan’s principle problem. The devil always sets out to construct heaven and winds up with hell because he uses the wrong principles. ~Richard Fernandez
I’m reminded by that statement of something a former Soviet general wrote after the fall of the USSR, that the difference in societies produced by the Bolshevik Revolution and the American Revolution came down to founders and their guiding principles, You had Madison and Jefferson and The Enlightenment, we had Lenin who led us into communism.
I remember a conversation I had with two young leftists where I work. One, a young girl with a physics degree, the other a young man with a BSEE. They were Obama supporters and Progressives. I tried to engage them in the idea of First Principles, in the cause and effect and unintended consequences of political and economic policies and approaches. Neither knew what I was talking about. They were simply convinced that a smart guy needed to be in power to do whatever needed to be done. ‘People are stupid! They need to be told what to do.’ I think they would have been committed Bolsheviks in another place and time. In reality, both were the idiots they were sneering at, they just didn’t realize it. Possibly they were projecting their own lack of understanding of the world onto everyone. They had no understanding of the disastrous effects Progressive policies have had on the black population, on race relations, on the economy, on their own lives and opportunities and job prospects. They just wanted someone ‘smart’ in charge to fix it. They set out to build heaven and will be forever confused by the hell that results.
Ben Rhodes and Jonathan Gruber both lied to sell Progressive policies that could not be sold on their merits. That’s why they lied. But like the young Progressives above, both believe people are stupid and need to be told what to do by someone a lot smarter, like them. The lying is incidental. It’s ego confirmation to them that the peasants are so dim they actually believed them. No wonder Obama spends his whole life with a smirk on his face.
Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 19th April 2016 (All posts by Michael Hiteshew)
Can the president decree that a US law be ignored or even reversed if it advances his party’s political agenda? If so, is that not legislating from the Oval Office?
The US Constitution, Article I, Section I: All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
If the president can grant deportation relief to 5 million immigrants here illegally – for whatever reason – what law cannot be reversed? What law has any meaning?
And what does it say about the current ideological makeup of the court that half the justices think this is a valid and legal course of action for a president? And assuming that Hillary is our next president and will appoint at least one far left justice, what is the likelihood the Constitution means anything at all anymore? Are we moving into the endgame, the first tentative steps of dictatorship, fully blessed and sanctified by the US Supreme Court?
“Louise Arbour had one response to Farage and Steyn that, I think, was missed by the audience and by F & S. Arbour said:”
Read the rest of Seth’s new post here.
President Obama got it exactly wrong when he argued in a Washington Post op-ed that “as the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons, the United States has a moral obligation to continue to lead the way in eliminating them.” What he should have written instead was “as the only nation ever to refrain from using nuclear weapons gratuitously when it had the monopoly on such weapons, the United States has the moral authority to lead the way in regulating them.”
What gives the US moral authority is bias, the improbability of it using nuclear weapons in time of peace. You can be sure the USAF won’t nuke Chicago, or Brussels or Kampala tomorrow, even if it physically could, because of civilizational bias. The reason why Obama’s unilateral reductions in the American nuclear arsenal as gestures to nuclear disarmament are meaningless is because he’s not actually reducing any of the risk. All the danger is on the other side, where the bias goes the other way for aggression, conquest and world domination. That is what he seems unable to reduce.
[. . .]
The reason why statements like “Islam is the religion of peace” or “we will never be at war with Islam” are so dangerous is because they ignore bias and reduce the problem to the mere monitoring of things. They put the most important factor of all into the error term. The result is a world of runaway entropy that is more dangerous to everybody, especially to Muslims.
[. . .]
These Kurdish peasants instinctively remember what the West has forgotten, that man lives not just in a world of things but of angels and demons. Cultures and belief are not optional extras but the bedrock of survival. They know instinctively that for man to survive he must fight Evil which is real with the aid of the Old Ones, who are also real. Only thus can he change his biases; only thus can he get the better of entropy.
President Obama is the anti-confident American. He seems to believe that his country should be taken down a notch or two, should apologize for past wrongs, should stop seeing itself in terms of confident exceptionalism. How’s that working out? Fernandez’s points aren’t new but bear repeating. Belief in cultural and moral equivalence is effectively suicidal. Our elites are too corrupt and incompetent to understand that this is the case or to know what to do about it.
A biting critique of recent public arguments by liberal academics, by Seth Barrett Tillman:
There is a final possibility. Apparently, some non-originalists believe they are part of a victimized, long-suffering, powerless, discrete, insular intellectual minority. As Professor Jack Balkin, a prominent commentator (but not one of the Alliance-for-Justice-350), wrote:
Accepting that opposition as the proper frame for debate just locks liberals into a clever rhetorical strategy created by movement conservatives in the 1980s, who wanted to put themselves on the side of the American constitutional tradition, and liberals on the outside looking in. [here] [here] (emphasis added)
The notion that in order for liberals to believe in a living Constitution they have to reject originalism in all of its forms is the biggest canard ever foisted on them. [here] [here] (emphasis added)
In this intellectual milieu, signing a letter you do not really believe is not hypocrisy: it is virtue. Thus, signing such a letter is the natural and justified response of victims to an unfair world imposed upon them by malevolent intellectual forces which have deformed reasoned, public debate. That’s not hypocrisy: that’s something else entirely. I am going to refrain from characterizing that reason, but I expect the public will take the hint.
Is it any wonder that millions of Americans vote for Trump?
Worth reading in its entirety.
From Seth Barrett Tillman’s new post about western cultural confidence (and the lack thereof):
Our administrative unit’s official motto is: Health, Fairness, Environment, Culture. So it should not surprise you that we chose you among other applicants seeking to immigrate to our (now your) prefecture because you have (as far as we can discover) no strongly held views, on anything. We believe that (former) outsiders like you from distant regions add to our ever-growing cultural diversity, but we seek to do so in a way that guarantees our social cohesion.
In the event that you violate a minor domestic regulation (i.e., under Schedule 1 and its annex) and you are under 18, you will be assigned community service and ordered to apologize to any victims of your wrongdoing (should they remain alive). If you violate a major domestic regulation (i.e., under Schedule 2 and its annex) and you are over 18, you will be sent down for correction, but we cannot send you back to your former prefecture, as it is in political disarray and your human rights may be threatened by your return there. Your statutory right to residence vests after 60 days; your statutory right to vote in municipal elections vests after 6 months; your statutory right to vote in prefecture-wide elections and for an inter-prefecture delegate vests after 1 year…
Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 3rd April 2016 (All posts by Michael Hiteshew)
In his book The Snapping of the American Mind, David Kupelian asks the following painful question that millions of Americans like myself have pondered for years and will ponder for some time to come as America slowly rips itself apart. Kupelian writes, “How could it be that hundreds of thousands of Americans fought and bled – and many died – on foreign shores to contain an evil and metastasizing ideology variously called communism, Marxism, socialism, collectivism, or statism, and yet now, just a few years later, we would gaze up at the pinnacle of power in our own country and behold leaders in thrall to essentially the same core ideology we fought and died to protect strangers from?”
The answer to this is can be found within the culture itself and more specifically within America’s youth who have seemingly embraced the concept of socialism with little to no understanding of what socialism even is. Yet, like frogs slowly boiling to death in the cesspools that have become our college campuses, our nation’s youth collectively embrace the ideology that will destroy them while demanding that they be “protected” from opinions that run contrary to their beliefs.
I have this issue with one of my daughters. She’s very sweet and very hard working, but like everyone who has lived she has struggled at times and dealt with situations that seemed completely unfair. She wonders why Bernie’s ideas won’t work. Why shouldn’t lots more thing be free for everyone? Why can’t that work? She received little or no history education in school, and obviously no economics. Of course, there are reasons for that. And what history they do hear is more likely to be Howard Zinn than Steven Ambrose. Without understanding the history of these movements, you cannot understand where all this leads. And they don’t recognize the road on which they are treading.
Non-originalists communicate in two different discourses.
One discourse is the mode of truth: it is the mode they reserve for their sophisticated clients and legal briefs, for their colleagues and students. In this discourse, non-originalists critique originalism as …
1. Wrongheaded or false because the Constitution is not prolix, it is only an outline, and the gaps must be filled in by each generation;
2. Wrongheaded because the Framers’ and Ratifiers’ intent is not discoverable;
3. Wrongheaded because different Framers’ and Ratifiers’ intent, although discoverable, was not unified;
4. Wrongheaded because original public meaning is not (now) discoverable (e.g., the Constitution is too old);
5. Wrongheaded because during the framing era and during ratification there were a multiplicity of original public meanings;
6. Wrongheaded because judicial rulings and precedent are the superior means through which to determine the meaning of the Constitution;
7. Wrongheaded because judges, academic lawyers, and lawyers are not good historians;
8. Wrongheaded because the Framing-era and ratification lacked democratic bona fidés by modern standards;
9. Wrongheaded because we should not be ruled by the moral norms or the dead hand of the past; and,
10. Wrongheaded because originalism gets the wrong (e.g., conservative or libertarian) results.
The problem is that non-originalists have an entirely different discourse, a second discourse, when they communicate with the public. When non-originalists communicate with the public … non-originalists transform themselves and their discourse into naked, unabashed originalism. It is really quite astounding.
Lexington Green adds:
You are restrained in your condemnation of this despicable dishonesty.
The public has very little understanding of law, the Constitution, the legal system, lawyers, courts or anything else that people like us think about all day long.
There is nonetheless a vague, inchoate sense that there something called a constitution, and it is in writing, and most people who think they know anything about it mistakenly believe that it says that all men are created equal, and that it protects our rights, whatever those happen to be, and that the government has to do what The Constitution says.
If you were to tell these people, well, actually, we law professors and judges and lawyers have figured out that you don’t actually have to do what the Constitution says, because … it won’t matter what the “because” is. The typical American will respond with something along the lines of “are you fucking kidding me?”
My seat of the pants guess is that between between 1% and 5% of the people in this country have any idea what has been going on with the U.S. Constitution in the courts in the last 50 years.
These guys are being smart not publicizing the reality. If Joe and Jane American voter knew what was going on they would cut the funding for these people.
Read the whole thing.
(See also this post by Lex from 2008.)
Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 22nd March 2016 (All posts by Michael Hiteshew)
Video Published on Jul 18, 2014
I just picked up a link to this today and thought it was impressive. A muslim girl showed up at a Heritage Foundation discussion on the Benghazi attack to put on a ‘Poor me! What about us moderate muslims?’ act. Not to condemn what jihadis had done, not to pledge her support to fight against them, not to say how she is organizing peaceful muslims to combat terrorism in the United States. No, of course not. She owes the West and the United States nothing, least of all defense. She showed up to play the victim card, or was possibly sent there as part of a strategy to use political correctness as a weapon to encourage Western weakness in the face of violent islam. Either way, Brigitte Gabriel was having none of it. She gave her a piece of her mind and made some excellent points along the way. If more people were this clear headed we’d have a lot fewer problems in the world.
“re: Seth Barrett Tillman responding to President Adam Falk, Williams College: the Allure of Forbidden Fruit”
Seth Barrett Tillman responds to the president of Williams College:
Dear President Falk,
I read your February 18, 2016 letter to the Williams Community. I do not understand it. You don’t quote, link to, point to, or even summarize anything Derbyshire said or wrote. So the reader has no way to understand precisely what he said or wrote that crossed any “line” or even, when he said or wrote you allege constitutes hate speech. How is the reader supposed to understand your letter?
Read the whole thing.
1) President Falk’s statement that “Free speech is a value I hold in extremely high regard” sounds a lot like “Your call is very important to us”.
2) Hate speech is speech. The reason why no one who expresses concern about “hate speech” ever mentions such a thing as “love speech” is that it’s obvious that speech that no one objects to requires no protection. The term “hate speech” is verbal camouflage used to obfuscate anti-free-speech arguments.
Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 7th February 2016 (All posts by Michael Hiteshew)
Ted Cruz, more than any other candidate, really seems intent on reducing the size of government in Washington and the scope of its power in our lives. Ted is a deeply religious man, and normally I’m uncomfortable with candidates who wear their religious beliefs on their chest. However, the perfect is the enemy of the good, and that’s a very tiny flaw to overlook.
Most impressive to me is his Five for Freedom plan. This from the first section:
Abolish the IRS, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. A Cruz Administration will appoint heads of each of those agencies whose sole charge will be to wind them down and determine whether any programs need to be preserved.
- Internal Revenue Services – end the political targeting, simplify the tax code, and abolish the IRS as we know it.
- Department of Education – return education to those who know our students best: parents, teachers, local communities, and states. And block-grant education funding to the states.
- Department of Energy – cut off the Washington Cartel, stop picking winners and losers, and unleash the energy renaissance.
- Department of Commerce – close the “congressional cookie jar” and promote free-enterprise and free trade for every business.
- Department of Housing and Urban Development – offer real solutions to lift people out of hardship, rather than trapping families in a cycle of poverty, and empower Americans by promoting the dignity of work and reforming programs such as Section 8 housing.
Tillman on Lamya H: “Your complaint is that your psychology professor was too—fat? I am so sorry. I can see that that would ruin your freshman experience. You were expecting? Luke Skywalker during his youth? Princess Leia Organa during her Jabba the Hutt years?”
From: Seth Barrett Tillman, Return of the Letter to a Young Social Justice Warrior—responding to Lamya H.’s: A personal history of Islamophobia in America, Vox (January 15, 2016), http://ssrn.com/abstract=2719141.
(Related post: “Dear Young Social Justice Warrior”.)
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 18th January 2016 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
Texas Governor Greg Abbot has called for a Constitutional convention of states.
UPDATE: Conservative Wahoo is in favor.
Why do I support it? A few reasons:
1) I am a political junkie. I’ve seen two impeachments proceedings in the House and one Trial in the Senate. I’ve never seen a convention of the states.
2) I think there are some places where the Constitution could be improved (see below), but I prefer that those improvements be WITHIN the Constitutional process rather than by Executive fiat (see, Obama, B.)
3) I believe it would energize people in this country to a great degree–equaled only maybe by war–to really think hard about what this country means to them.
He has a summary of the Mark Levin proposed amendments from his book.
A convention is one of two ways that the U.S. Constitution can be amended, and it’s described in Article V. One way is that Congress can propose amendments approved by two-thirds of the members of both chambers. The other method allows two-thirds of the state legislatures to call for a convention to propose amendments. Republicans backing the idea are confident that because they control state government in a majority of states, their ideas would prevail.
Democrats are horrified. The Huffington Post first ran this post with a headline that he wanted Texas to secede! I guess they thought better of the scare tactic.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Friday proposed a series of amendments to the U.S. constitution that would permit states to override the Supreme Court and ignore federal laws.
One of the proposed measures would allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override federal regulations, while another sets the same threshold for overturning decisions by the Supreme Court. The governor also wants to change the Constitution to block Congress from “regulating activity that occurs wholly within one state,” and to require a supermajority of seven Supreme Court votes before a “democratically enacted law” can be overturned.
OK. That’s fair enough.
The plan lays out nine specific proposed amendments that would:
Prohibit congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one state.
Require Congress to balance its budget.
Prohibit administrative agencies from creating federal law.
Prohibit administrative agencies from pre-empting state law.
Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law
Restore the balance of power between the federal and state governments by limiting the former to the powers expressly delegated to it in the Constitution.
Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a federal law or regulation.
Balancing the budget is probably pie-in-the-sky but the others sound reasonable to me.
Concept of the Corporation, by Peter Drucker
It’s been a long time since I read this 1946 book by Peter Drucker. I recently pulled it down from the shelf and thought it worth a reread. I’ll be excerpting some passages I think are particularly interesting, not necessarily in sequential order. For starters, under the heading the corporation as a social institution:
Americans rarely realize how completely their view of society differs from that accepted in Europe, where social philosophy for the last three hundred years has fluctuated between regarding society as God and regarding it as merely an expression of brute force. The difference between the American view of the nature and meaning of social organization and the views of modern Europe goes back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. During that period which culminated in the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) the Continent (and to a lesser degree England) broke with the traditional concept of society as a means to an ethical end–the concept that underlay the great medieval synthesis—and substituted for it either the deification or the degradation of politics. Ever since, the only choice in Europe has been between Hegel and Machiavelli. This country (and that part of English tradition which began with Hooker and led through Locke to Burke) refused to break with the basically Christian view of society as it was developed from the fifth to the nineteenth century and built its society on the reapplication of the old principle to new social facts and new social needs.
To this social philosophy the United States owes that character of being at the same time both the most materialistic and the most idealistic society, which has baffled so many observers…The American who regards social institutions and material goods as ethically valuable because they are the means to an ethical goal is neither an idealist nor a naturalist, he is a dualist.
Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 16th January 2016 (All posts by Michael Hiteshew)
“The Leftists claim the moral high ground, but the morality is the only ground on which they can be defeated. We can attack the political figures all we want, but they will be replaced by different ones of exactly the same kind.”
“The reason why this socialist system is immoral is because equality can only be enforced one way (points down). You cannot elevate people to make them equal because people are all born different, but you can always bring them down to the lowest common denominator. That’s what they eventually wind up doing, regardless of their claims to the contrary”
Catherine Engelbrecht, the woman conducting this interview, was targeted by the Obama administration for her work with the King Street Patriots and True the Vote:
Then other agencies began to show up at their business, including the BATF, and OSHA, who found no violations but their visits eventually resulted in fines upward of 20K. Engelbrecht said there was no real apparent reason for the inquiries and visits made by the agencies.
Meanwhile, the IRS continued its intrusive demands, including inquiries into every Facebook or Twitter posting Engelbrecht had ever made, her political aspirations, places she had spoken or intended to speak, the content of her remarks, and other abusive questions. It didn’t take long before Englebrecht decided that the statistical probability of her requests for tax-exempt status and the tyrannical actions of government agencies being unconnected was slim to none, and she decided to act.
After the second visit of the BATF, Engelbrecht called her attorney, asking, “Who do we sue, and how do we do it?” Lawsuits were filed against the IRS on several counts, including one to compel the agency to either grant the tax-exempt status, or refuse the request. In December 2013, the status was granted, but portions of the lawsuits have not yet been resolved.
Engelbrecht told us that she has copies of a letter from Obama’s general counsel demanding investigation of any organization claiming to be involved with election integrity, and another specifically targeting True the Vote, designating it as a threat to the administration.
Your tax dollars at work: The IRS Targeting of Catherine Engelbrecht. The Progressive movement increasingly resembles and adopts the tactics of the Communist Party.
Further reading: Laughing at the Contradictions of Socialism in America
The traditional modern conservative opinion on the 2nd Amendment diminishes and almost entirely dismisses the opening clause, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”. I believe this to be an error that leaves leftists an opening to prolong the Second Amendment assault forever. That opening needs to be closed. A substantive construction of this clause that makes sense to the general public is necessary to put down the gun control movement permanently.
But first, a little Latin. Crimes can be generally divided into the categories “malum prohibitum” and “malum in se”. Malum in se are crimes that are universally considered wrong or immoral that all just societies prohibit. Malum prohibitum are crimes that a legislature creates and are only crimes because they told us so. Tyrannies thrive by multiplying malum prohibitum crimes and turning honest citizens into fearful subjects that can be seized by the law at any time. Militias only go after malum in se crimes and are thus useful to the people who want a just society but useless to any sort of tyrant.
The militia’s uselessness to tyrants is its greatest selling point and one that the colonists implicitly understood because none of the abuses of King George were ever enforced by the militia (if there are examples where this actually happened, please share in comments). With that understanding, the introductory clause makes perfect sense to us all and gives us a common sense reason why even today, it’s important to have a strong militia so that our security is, as much as feasible, in the hands of people who will not sweat the small stuff. In fact, it’s truly necessary for the security of a free state.
The alternative is to entirely rely on paid agents of the state for our security, whether military or police. Is there ever a case where governments who are hard up for cash don’t make petty rules to extract fines and hem in the people’s liberty? Is there a government out there that does not favor its supporters and disfavor its opponents? Controlling these agents’ salaries is a powerful inducement for them to do the wrong thing if the government asks them. Over time and across a large number of governments, there will always be cases where they will be asked and there will always be agents who are willing to be tin pot tyrants. They have households to maintain after all.
The Diplomad observes that “‘Progressives’, of course, are greatly influenced by movies. In fact…the majority of what passes for “Progressive thought” is derived from the Hollywood version of history that they have running in an endless video loop in their heads. Listen to them talk about the economy, race relations, education, “gender equality,” US history, etc., and it all forms part of some giant Hollywood script.” Indeed—shortly after 9/11, when the idea of arming airline pilots was first mooted, critics of the idea referred to “gunfights at 35,000 feet” as something “out of a Tom Clancy movie”. Hadn’t they thought that deliberately crashing airplanes into buildings might be something out of a Tom Clancy movie, too? And whether or not something might appear in a movie is obviously irrelevant to its validity from a policy standpoint.
This topic relates closely to my earlier post about metaphors, interfaces, and thought processes, in which I discuss the consequences of the “iconic” versus the “textual” modes of presenting information.
David Warren writes about the conspiracy of German elites, in both media and government, to suppress knowledge of the New Year’s atrocities in Cologne and other cities. Indeed, one might conclude that the whole idea of free speech hasn’t taken hold very well in Germany over the last 70 years, at least among the writing and political classes. Unfortunately, the problem is not limited to Germany: Mark Zuckerberg, the ringmaster of the Facebook circus, was apparently all too eager to co-conspire with Merkel to delete strong criticisms of her immigration policies.
A society cannot thrive or even survive if its decision-making organs are disconnected from knowledge of what is actually happening, any more than your furnace can keep your house at the right temperature if the wires connecting it to the thermostat are cut. In a democracy, the ultimate decision-making organ is supposed to be the people of the country.
Don Sensing writes about totalism, and how it is reflected in the behavior of the Obama administration and the attitudes of the “progressive” Left. He quotes Mussolini’s definition of Fascism:
Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 11th January 2016 (All posts by Michael Hiteshew)
Anonymous Conservative uses some interesting research into the evolved behavioral dynamics of animal populations and applies it to human populations to explain the Left-Right political divide. The gist of the argument is that two distinct behavioral psychologies exist among animals, r and K:
The terms r and K came from variables in equations which described how populations would change over time. r represented the maximal reproductive rate of an individual, while K represented the carrying capacity of an environment.
The first environment an organism may face is the presence of freely available resources, which is referred to as an r-selective environment.
In r-selection, those individuals who waste time fighting for food will be out-reproduced by pacifists, who simply focus upon eating, and reproducing. Fighting also entails risks of injury or death – risks which are pointless given the free availability of resources everywhere. Hence this environment will favor a tendency towards conflict avoidance, and tend to cull the aggressive and competitive. It will also evolve tendencies towards mating as early as possible, as often as possible, with as many mates as possible, while investing as little effort as possible rearing offspring. Here, there are unlimited resources just waiting to be utilized, and even the most unfit can acquire them. As a result, it is more advantageous to produce as many offspring as possible, as quickly as possible, regardless of fitness, so as to out-reproduce those who either waste time producing quality offspring or waste time competing with each other.
In the other environment, a population exists at the carrying capacity of its environment. Since there is not enough food to go around, and someone must die from starvation, this will evolve a specific psychology within such a species. Termed a K-type psychology, or K-Selected Reproductive Strategy, this psychology will embrace competitions between individuals and accept disparities in competitive outcomes as an innate part of the world, that is not to be challenged. Since individuals who do not fight for some portion of the limited resources will starve, this environment will favor an innately competitive, conflict-prone psychology. Study shows, such a psychology will also tend to embrace monogamy, embrace chastity until monogamous adulthood, and favor high-investment, two-parent parenting, with an emphasis upon rearing as successful an offspring as possible.
This explains the very different social outlook of the pioneers from, say, the modern Progressives. To the pioneers, everything must be worked for, built, exploited, expanded and defended. They cleared the forests, planted the prairies, drilled and tapped the aquifers, mined the mountains, built power plants, built dams and irrigated the dry lands. Progressives see and teach that as a history of evil and greed, all while maximizing their use of it and working to destroy it by neglect or regulation.
“A Critique of Two Left-of-Centre Views of the United States Constitution: Professor Akhil Amar & Professor Lawrence Lessig”
Professor Akhil Amar (Yale Law School) and Professor Lawrence Lessig (Harvard Law School) have both written on the scope of the Constitution’s office-language. Indeed, their individual views on the scope of the Constitution’s office-language are central to (some of) the leading theories they have each popularized.
[. . .]
Amar and Lessig cannot both be correct. At most: only one can be correct. We, the public, deserve a full, meaningful debate: not a cult—or, even, two well-placed elite academic cults—whose chief sacraments are omerta and humbug.
Will anyone—particularly those on the Left—step forward? Or will the many who have supported both Professor Amar’s and Professor Lessig’s views in this matter continue to support both, notwithstanding that these two views contradict one another?
These posts are brief and worth reading.
In fact, we all know that it is this very real possibility—the omnipresent depressing likelihood of future Paris-like attacks—which is the urgent crisis that demands our immediate attention and our best efforts. All our lives and our children’s lives depend on it. All know this, except Dr. O’Donnell. For her, the “urgent [matter is] to ensure that students and professionals do not resort to prejudicial judgments about others”. This is the sort of grand category error that the public has come to expect from a disconnected transnational, elitist, academic class: an academic class which sees tradition, loyalty, and patriotism as primitive, and whose promoters teach that nations, citizenship, borders, and law defined by elected parliaments are irksome problems to be overcome.
Worth reading in full.
Read Heather Mac Donald’s column at City Journal.
Imagine an Ivy administration that encouraged frat boys and athletes to abuse women and get into trouble with the law. That’s analogous to the current situation, the only differences being the identities and characteristic weaknesses of the members of the respective groups being egged on and suppressed. The young hysterics desperately need guidance from mature adults who have their best interests at heart. Instead the system their parents trust and pay an arm and leg for indulges, out of cowardice or ideological zeal, the kids’ worst impulses.
Institutional racist or anti-female conspiracies, the figments of fevered leftist/feminist imagination, have never been less frequent, but anti-intellectual and anti-male conspiracies are everywhere.
The college administrators will do fine. The victimized students, mostly men, will learn hard lessons. Many, though not all, will emerge stronger for it. But many of the young leftist women, and some of the men, who have been overprotected and fed lies their entire lives, will have significant difficulty functioning in the real world.
If DCFS employees encourage or look the other way at the corruption of children it’s a scandal. How is it different when university administrators do the same thing with vulnerable young adults?
(I cross-posted my 2014 review of C S Lewis’s novel That Hideous Strength over at Richochet, where a good comment thread has developed. Some of the comments reminded me of the extremely negative review of the book written by JBS Haldane in 1946, and Lewis’s response thereto.)
Haldane was an eminent British scientist (population genetics) and a Marxist. C S Lewis was…well, you probably already know who C S Lewis was.
Haldane’s critique was directed at the series of novels by Lewis known as the Ransom Trilogy, and particularly the last book of the series, That Hideous Strength . Lewis responded in a letter which remained unpublished for many of years. All this may sound ancient and esoteric, but I believe the Lewis/Haldane controversy is very relevant to our current political and philosophical landscape.
To briefly summarize That Hideous Strength: Mark, a young sociologist, is hired by a government agency called NICE–the National Institute for Coordinated Experimentation–having as its stated mission the application of science to social problems. (Unbelievably, today the real-life British agency which establishes rationing policies for healthcare is also called NICE.) In the novel, NICE turns out to be a conspiracy devoted to very diabolical purposes, as Mark gradually discovers. It also turns out that the main reason NICE wanted to hire Mark is to get control of his wife, Jane (maiden name: Tudor) who has clairvoyant powers. The NICE officials want to use Jane’s abilities to get in touch with the magician Merlin and to effect a junction between modern scientific power and the ancient powers of magic, thereby bringing about the enslavement of mankind and worse. Jane, though, becomes involved with a group which represents the polar opposite of NICE, led by a philology professor named Ransom, who is clearly intended as a Christ-figure. The conflict between NICE and the Ransom group will determine the future of humanity.
A brilliantly written and thought-provoking book, which I highly recommend, even if, like me, you’re not generally a fan of fantasy novels.
With context established, here are some of the highlights of the Lewis/Haldane controversy:
1) Money and Power.
In his article, Haldane attacks Lewis for the latter’s refusal to absolutely condemn usury, and celebrates the fact that “Mammon has been cleared off a sixth of our planet’s surface”…clearly referring to the Soviet Union. Here’s part of Lewis’s response:
The difference between us is that the Professor sees the ‘World’ purely in terms of those threats and those allurements which depend on money. I do not. The most ‘worldly’ society I have ever lived in is that of schoolboys: most worldly in the cruelty and arrogance of the strong, the toadyism and mutual treachery of the weak, and the unqualified snobbery of both. Nothing was so base that most members of the school proletariat would not do it, or suffer it, to win the favour of the school aristocracy: hardly any injustice too bad for the aristocracy to practise. But the class system did not in the least depend on the amount of pocket money. Who needs to care about money if most of the things he wants will be offered by cringing servility and the remainder can be taken by force? This lesson has remained with me all my life. That is one of the reasons why I cannot share Professor Haldanes exaltation at the banishment of Mammon from ‘a sixth of our planet’s surface’. I have already lived in a world from which Mammon was banished: it was the most wicked and miserable I have yet known. If Mammon were the only devil, it would be another matter. But where Mammon vacates the throne, how if Moloch takes his
place? As Aristotle said, ‘Men do not become tyrants in order to keep warm’. All men, of course, desire pleasure and safety. But all men also desire power and all men desire the mere sense of being ‘in the know’ or the ‘inner ring’, of not being ‘outsiders’: a passion insufficiently studied and the chief theme of my story. When the state of society is such that money is the passport to all these prizes, then of course money will be the prime temptation. But when the passport changes, the desires will remain.
Posted in Arts & Letters, Big Government, Britain, Christianity, Crime and Punishment, Deep Thoughts, History, Human Behavior, Law, Leftism, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Religion, Society | 18 Comments »
Browsing through a used bookstore the other day, I saw a slightly later book by Antin: They who knock at our gates–a complete gospel of immigration (available here). It was published in 1914, at a time when immigration had become a very hot social and political issue, and is a highly polemical but pretty well-reasoned document. Antin’s key points and arguments are:
**The fundamental American statement of belief is the Declaration of Independence. “What the Mosaic Law is to the Jews, the Declaration is to the American people…Without it, we should not differ greatly from other nations who have achieved a constitutional form of government and various democratic institutions.” And “it was by sinking our particular quarrel with George of England in the universal quarrel of humanity with injustice that we emerged a distinct nation with a unique mission in the world.” Our loyalty to these principles is tested by our attitude toward immigration, “For the alien, whatever ethnic or geographic label he carries, in a primary classification of the creatures of the earth, falls in the human family.” This universalist view leads Antin to conclude that we are morally obligated to accept as many immigrants as we feasibly can–and we have room for many, many more. “Let the children be brought up to know that we are a people with a mission.”
**Contrary to the assertions being made in some quarters (in 1914), today’s immigrants are not of inferior quality to those of earlier eras. Jewish immigrants from Russia, for example, are pursuing religious liberty in a way directly analogous to the Pilgrims…indeed, “It takes a hundred times as much steadfastness and endurance for a Russian Jew of today to remain a Jew as it took for an English Protestant in the seventeenth century to defy the established Church”…and Russian Jews have shown great courage in the revolutionary movements against the Czar. Also, “We experienced a shock of surprise, a little while ago, when troops of our Greek immigrants deserted the bootblacking parlors and the fruit-stands and tumbled aboard anything that happened to sail for the Mediterranean, in their eagerness..to strike a blow for their country in her need….From these unexpected exploits of the craven Jew and the degenerate Greek, it would seem as if the different elements of the despised “new” immigration only await a spectacular opportunity to prove themselves equal to the “old” in civic valor.” Recent immigrants have also distinguished themselves in their avid pursuit of educational opportunities. “Bread isn’t easy to get in America,” Antin quotes a widow on Division Street, “but the children can go to school, and that’s more than bread.”
**Many of the problems associated with immigrant communities are actually the fault of bad municipal administration. “You might dump the whole of the East Side into the German capital and there would be no slums there, because the municipal authorities of Berlin know how to enforce building regulations, how to plant trees, and how to clean the streets….If the slums were due to the influx of foreigners, why should London have slums, and more hideous slums than New York?”
**Those who choose to become immigrants, from whatever, country, represent that best of that population. “Some of the best blood of New England answered the call of “Westward ho!” when the empty lands beyond the Alleghenies gaped for population…Of the aristocracy of New England that portion stayed at home which was fortified by wealth, and so did not feel the economic pressure of increased population; of the proletariat remained, on the whole, the less robust, the less venturesome, the men and women of conservative imagination. It was bound to be so, because wherever the population is set in motion by internal pressure, the emigrant train is composed of the stoutest, the most resourceful of those who are not held back by the roots of wealth or sentiment. Voluntary emigration always calls for the highest combination of the physical and moral virtues.”
Hence, the United States has practical as well as moral reasons to maximize immigration. Antin does not demand an absolutely uncontrolled immigration policy–“I do not ask that we remove all restrictions and let the flood of immigration sweep in unchecked”–she seems to be OK with health checks, and she calls for deportation of immigrants who have committed crimes–but does assert that the gate should be opened as wide as possible.
A quite different view of mass immigration can be found (oddly enough) in one of George MacDonald Fraser’s picaresque Flashman novels (link). In this passage, the anti-hero Flashman speaks very much out of character, soberly and thoughtfully in what is probably the author’s own voice, about the American Indian experience of European movement to their lands.