Not All Borders Are Land Borders

It’s been pretty obvious that the Biden administration and their supporters have wanted the southern border to be substantially open.  But for some reason, they don’t seem to have extended this idea to other ways of entering the US:  airports and seaports.  I haven’t seen any proposal to eliminate the customs & immigration facilities at international airports, or at passenger-handing seaports.

Why not?  It would certainly be more convenient for all international travelers, and especially for those who want to migrate to the US:  no traveling through deserts, jungles and swamps, no need to fear robbery, murder, and rape on the way, no need to pay off the drug cartels.  Just buy an airline ticket: surely much more affordable than the other path, as well as more convenient, considering the high extortion payments demanded by the cartels.

What would be the reason why open-borders advocates do not push for this logical extension of their ideas?

One hypothesis might be that the people who buy airline tickets would include a higher mix of financially-better-off people than those who are willing to make the grueling trip across the southern border…and those people would be (a) less-likely to vote for Democratic candidates, and (b) more likely to compete for jobs held by members of key groups within the Democratic constituency.

Any other theories?

The Question of When…

The question of when to talk to your children, when you live in a repressive dictatorship was something I remember from reading James Michener’s essay into political reporting The Bridge at Andau; an account into the Hungarian Revolt of 1956 against the Soviet Union, published the following year. There came a time when parents of school-aged children, Michener wrote, had to open up to their children, if they were anti-Soviet dissidents, religious, or simply Hungary-first patriots. It was a fine line; either live a lie in front of your children regarding your own beliefs, and at worst, see them irretrievably buy into the whole Soviet system if you left it too late, or trusting that they were sufficiently mature, to be adept at concealing such dissident beliefs in front of their schoolfellows, Communist-indoctrinated teachers – and informers among them. How old did your children need to be, before they could dissemble in front of peers, teachers and spying informants among them? It was a matter of deep concern to Hungarian parents, as Michener related. (Parenthetically, as a teenager and young adult I had never been the least bit enchanted by the golden chimera of communism in any guise. Growing up, my parents knew too many people who had fled from Communist-dominated or threatened countries and had heart-rending stories to tell of their experiences in living in and fleeing Cuba, Russia, Eastern Europe, the far East. Reading Michener’s account of the Hungarian Revolt definitely drew a line under my antipathy towards all-powerful dictatorships of the so-called proletariat.)

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Koestler on Closed Systems

The writer Arthur Koestler (‘Darkness at Noon) was a Marxist believer and a Party member when he visited the Soviet Union in 1932.  Looking back later at his younger self, he was struck by the way in which he’d had a kind of filter, a ‘mental sorting machine’, which allowed him to justify the not-so-nice things that he had seen and to fit everything into his belief about the rightness and beneficiality of Communism.  These reflections led him to thoughts on the nature of intellectually closed systems.

A closed system has three peculiarities. Firstly, it claims to represent a truth of universal validity, capable of explaining all phenomena, and to have a cure for all that ails man. In the second place, it is a system which cannot be refuted by evidence, because all potentially damaging data are automatically processed and reinterpreted to make them fit the expected pattern. The processing is done by sophisticated methods of casuistry, centered on axioms of great emotive power, and indifferent to the rules of common logic; it is a kind of Wonderland croquet, played with mobile hoops. In the third place, it is a system which invalidates criticism by shifting the argument to the subjective motivation of the critic, and deducing his motivation from the axioms of the system itself.

The orthodox Freudian school in its early stages approximated a closed system; if you argued that for such and such reasons you doubted the existence of the so-called castration complex, the Freudian’s prompt answer was that your argument betrayed an unconscious resistance indicating that you ourself have a castration complex; you were caught in a vicious circle. Similarly, if you argued with a Stalinist that to make a pact with Hitler was not a nice thing to do he would explain that your bourgeois class-consciousness made you unable to understand the dialectics of history..

In short, the closed system excludes the possibility of objective argument by two related proceedings: (a) facts are deprived of their value as evidence by scholastic processing; (b) objections are invalidated by shifting the argument to the personal motive behind the objection. This procedure is legitimate according to the closed system’s rules of the game which, however absurd they seem to the outsider, have a great coherence and inner consistency.

The atmosphere inside the closed system is highly charged; it is an emotional hothouse…The trained, “closed-minded” theologian, psychoanalyst, or Marxist can at any time make mincemeat of his “open-minded” adversary and thus prove the superiority of his system to the world and to himself..

I’ve cited the above excerpt a number of times in the past. Given the level of ideological capture that seems to be taking place in our Western societies at present, I thought it was due for a rerun and discussion.

Why are there so many people now who are willing–even eager–to become votaries of of ideological systems? I’d suggest that several factors are operative:

First, there are a lot of people who are lonely and looking for a sense of affiliation. Relatedly, a lot of people lack a sense of meaning…which was once more often provided by traditional religions and social roles–and political activism and belief can fill this need.  Sebastian Haffner, who came of age in Germany between the wars, observed this phenomenon.  When the political and economic situation in that country began to stabilize–for which he credits Gustav Stresemann–most people were happy:

The last ten years were forgotten like a bad dream. The Day of Judgment was remote again, and there was no demand for saviors or revolutionaries…There was an ample measure of freedom, peace, and order, everywhere the most well-meaning liberal-mindedness, good wages, good food and a little political boredom. everyone was cordially invited to concentrate on their personal lives, to arrange their affairs according to their own taste and to find their own paths to happiness.

But a return to private life was not to everyone’s taste:

A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions…Now that these deliveries suddenly ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned how to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful and worth while, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation. They were bored, their minds strayed to silly thoughts, and they began to sulk…

To be precise…it was not the entire generation of young Germans. Not every single individual reacted in this fashion. There were some who learned during this period, belatedly and a little clumsily, as it were, how to live. they began to enjoy their own lives, weaned themselves from the cheap intoxication of the sports of war and revolution, and started to develop their own personalities. It was at this time that, invisibly and unnoticed, the Germans divided into those who later became Nazis and those who would remain non-Nazis.

I think there are a lot of people in America today, and in the West generally, who have become accustomed to having ‘the raw material for their deeper emotions’ delivered by the public sphere.

Second, for some people the desire for affiliation shades into the darker pleasure of behaving with cruelty to those outside the charmed circle…while simultaneously feeling very virtuous about their behavior  See my post Conformity, Cruelty, and Political Activism.

Third, people who are intelligent, but not at all creative, tend to latch on to the intellectual systems created by others and to hold to those systems create by others even more fiercely than the originators of those systems would do.  This observation is from the writer Andre Maurois, and I think it is correct.  I also think that the description ‘intelligent but not creative’ describes a high percentage of the current incumbents in academia and media organizations.

Your thoughts?

Too Many, Not Enough

I have to confess to feeling a positively unholy degree of amusement, watching the Establishment Mainstream Media publicly coming to grips with Joe Biden’s senility … this after pretty much papering over his decaying mental condition over the past three years. That President Biden’s remaining brain cells have been melting into a slightly greenish and glowing puddle of goo has been screamingly obvious to everyone on the center-to-right quadrant of the blogosphere with any sense and worldly knowledge since his installation in the Oval Office. That the major national media minions are now having to wrap their tiny minds around that realization, and not just acknowledge but explain how it is now urgent that he be replaced on the Dem party ticket this year, as well as how they managed to escape noticing the freaking obvious for the past two or three years … well, all sorts of fun for those of us with a freakish sense of humor. It’s like watching a hapless stage magician try and gingerly handle a turd by the clean end.

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