Saturday, November 17, 2012
Thursday, October 18, 2012
An Amoral Nation
It wasn't always overt. Many talked about “sincerity” while others fretted that the candidates are “hard to believe.” A whole host of other character traits were bandied about in assessing which candidate can be trusted. But trusted to do what? In each case our fellow citizens weren’t concerned about the health of the republic--which only principles can insure. They merely wanted to know who will give them “more stuff” now.
There was a completely amoral tone that the permeated the conversations. And it reflects the campaign of both candidates. Obama is clear: he lists all the “free stuff” he’ll give you while making it clear you won’t have to pay for it. He’d fund it from the top 1-2 percent of high earners. You don’t have to work and earn it--as virtue would require. You’ll get someone else’s hard earned wealth--as expediency allows. Mere expediency is the antithesis of principle. If we can get away with expropriating others wealth for now, let’s do it. If they “go Galt” tomorrow ... well, tomorrow will be another day.
What does Mr. Romney offer in return? In the second debate he assures us that the “top 5 percent will continue to pay 60 percent, as they do today. I’m not looking to cut taxes for wealthy people. I am looking to cut taxes for middle-income people.” You’ll still get the government goods and services but you won’t have to pay for it. We’ll still get the rich to foot the bill. No principle is cited and none can be detected. Why, then, would we expect to see the voter apply principles to make an informed choice? When it comes to the expedient of getting “free stuff” paid by the rich, who is more believable?
The choice of principle versus mere expediency is exemplified by the President’s addition of $5 trillion to the debt. If our nation was founded on the virtues of industry and frugality (as Ben Franklin would express it), then what could be more profligate than uncontrolled spending funded by overwhelming debt? Mere expediency allows one to weigh the pleasures of today--which are concrete--while downplaying the costs of tomorrow--which are not in sight. To quote our President, “We don't have to worry about it short term.”
Prudence is another virtue prized by our founding fathers. Living beyond one’s means is recklessness. Excessive borrowing allows one the expedient of funding government services in the short run while deferring payments to the future. The President admits it: “Right now interest rates are low because people still consider the United States the safest and greatest country on earth, rightfully so, but it is a problem long term and even medium-term.” Actually, it’s the Fed that is artificially lowering rates but regardless of the cause we have what is known as a “teaser rate” that will someday reset higher similar to the reckless subprime lending that allowed borrowers to get low monthly payments with “teaser rates.” Let’s remember what profligate borrowing did to the private sector as we ponder what’s in store for the federal government. But “we don’t have to worry about it short term.”
Romney gets credit for making this a moral issue in the first debate. “I'm glad you raised that, and it's a -- it's a critical issue. I think it's not just an economic issue, I think it's a moral issue. I think it's, frankly, not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in, knowing those burdens are going to be passed on to the next generation and they're going to be paying the interest and the principal all their lives. And the amount of debt we're adding, at a trillion a year, is simply not moral.”
Bravo! Principles are long-term in nature. And Romney returned to enduring principles towards the end of his first debate when he said: “The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The role of government is to promote and protect the principles of those documents.” He discussed “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” but these principles weren’t deployed through out his first debate as arbiters of policy; and they were totally absent from the second debate. It was Obama, in the second debate, who said “I believe that the free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the world’s ever known. I believe in self-reliance and individual initiative and risk takers being rewarded.” Yet every policy he advocates takes us down the road to socialism. Principles are not slogans. They aren’t boilerplate rhetoric inserted to pay homage to our past. They must be deployed in the present. Each policy must be brought forth and judged in light of the principles. They must be the arbiter of one’s policy decision as one asks is this consistent with our fundamental principles or does this contradict our principles? Neither candidate employed principles in their analysis during the second debate.
If we are talking about the principle of self-reliance we must continually ask “who earn this?” and “who does this rightfully belong?” Instead the candidates only discuss “who gets more?” at the expense of the rich or future taxpayers. A virtuous person cares how they get their wealth. An honorable person aspires to earn it. Even those temporarily down on their luck can and usually maintain their aspirations to be productive members of society.
A candidate can prove they respect the principle of “self-reliance” if they defend the property rights of every individual who rightfully produced and earned his wealth. Obama contradicts this principle and Romney shies way from it. A candidate can prove they respect the inalienable right to life, liberty, and property, when they insure that every individual can freely act to further his life, run his business, spend his earnings, and live according to his deepest spiritual values. Obama believes in paternalistic government as he has increased “regulations” to the point of strangling the economy. It’s not clear what Romney believes anymore in this regard.
The questioners in the Hofstra debate, as those asked by the man in the street, show that people want “more stuff” whether they’ve earned it or not. If Obama was smiling during the second debate, it was because he knows he was in his element. Unless Romney explicitly names and challenges the crass amoral expediency implicit in “give me more free stuff now,” he doesn’t deserve to win. It is only the dying embers of the torch of liberty in the hearts of our fellow citizens that can save us next month. If we win that reprieve, we must revitalize our culture and re-establish the moral foundation on which our nation was built. No matter who wins, the fight doesn’t end on November 6th. It just begins.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Locke as Subversive?
There once was a man named John Locke.The last sentence refers to William Buckley famous article in the first issue of National Review in 1955 when communism spread over half the world and modern liberalism was unchallenged. Was Locke a dangerous wooly-eye radical causing the downward spiral of his day? What's happened to the ISI (formerly known as Intercollegiate Society of Individualists)?
A fan of tradition he was not.
By rejecting his teaching,
ISI is preaching
How to stand athwart history and yell “stop!”
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spokenMany of my online friends and colleagues have seen their words used as excuses for a vile act they would never have imagined let alone condoned. There was no ambiguity in their words that lent them to such usage. The problems in Norway are real. The solution devised by Breivik was diabolical. It has no grounds in the works of the authors he cites. Indeed, many of the authors, in their comments section, have continually told the “let’s nuke ‘em” crowd to get lost. They were never welcomed in the halls of reasonable debate.
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools ...
There are some ideas in Breivik’s 1500 page compendium that are unique to his thought. They shed some light on his desperation and delusions. This can be seen in his charges against the Norwegian establishment (section 3.2 and 3.5):
Aiding and abetting to cultural genocide against the indigenous peoples of Europe. Cultural genocide is a term used to describe the deliberate destruction of the cultural heritage of a people or nation for political, military, religious, ideological, ethnical, or racial reasons. According to the ”United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” the cultural Marxist/multiculturalist elites of Europe (all category A, B and C traitors) are committing cultural genocide against the Indigenous Peoples of Europe.The term cultural genocide is key. This insidious concept is fully operative in Breivik’s mind in the way it was intended by the left--as morally equivalent to physical genocide. Let’s examine their usage before we see why Breivik makes it a driving factor.
The most basic human right is to defend oneself against deliberate cultural attacks or even an institutionalized cultural genocide of unprecedented historical proportions. It’s not just a right but a duty for all Europeans to defend oneself against such atrocities through armed struggle.
David Nersessian writes in the journal of the Carnegie Council:
Collective identity is not self-evident but derives from the numerous, inter-dependent aspects of a group’s existence. Lemkin’s original conception of genocide expressly recognized that a group could be destroyed by attacking any of these unique aspects. By limiting genocide to its physical and biological manifestations, a group can be kept physically and biologically intact even as its collective identity suffers in a fundamental and irremediable manner. Put another way, the present understanding of genocide preserves the body of the group but allows its very soul to be destroyed.It is very popular in Arab literature with regard to Palestinian Arab culture. Hanan writes:
In many ways, cultural genocide (which is also referred to as "ethnocide", "sociocide" and "deculturation") sets out to achieve the same goals as a physical genocide. As Professor Stuart Stein from the University of the West of England has pointed out, "the same objective, the eradication of a group of people differentiated by some distinct traits, such as ethnicity, race, religion, language, nationality, or culture, can be achieved just as effectively in the mid-to-long-term, by gradual processes, as it might be by their immediate physical liquidation."Also see this article for another example.
Cultural genocide is a double anti-concept. It is meant to pre-empt valid terminology and distort the debate. The concept of genocide is an insidious replacement for mass slaughter. The notion implies that the slaughter of large number of individuals is worse if the group is demographically homogeneous. By implication the slaughter of a heterogenous group is less severe. Americans, for example, can’t be victims of genocide. When have we seen the jihadi attacks of 9/11 refered to as genocide? The notion of genocide makes the collective ontologically primary. Individuals matter less.
Cultural genocide compounds the error. The mere passing away of a culture, by choice or by time, is raised to the significance of mass slaughter! Thus, when Breivik sees his country changing, it is genocide pure and simple. This kind of talk is poisonous. It’s no longer a nostalgic loss of old folksy customs that many feel when their children adopt new ways. It’s not the threat to fundamental philosophical values, which in a liberal order requires debate and refutation. It’s genocide: extinguishing a collective being. Breivik is striking out against a collective enemy regardless of individual complicity in this imagined crime. Reading between his lines you can hear: we must kill them before they kill all of us!
Closely aliened with cultural genocide is his notion of indigenous cultures. In section 2.78 he writes:
Rhetoric related to “indigenous rights” is an untapped goldmine which has currently been deluded and sidetracked due to “rhetorical contamination” from the US. If you use “white nationalist” rhetoric you are instantly placed in the same category as Hitler. This is not the case with rhetoric related to indigenous rights as this rhetoric is usually related to the Aboriginal or Native American struggles. Some of the reason why many nationalists reject the “indigenous” argument is because it is generally used by a group who has been defeated.He sees his struggle as an indigenous rights movement for the collective survival of his group. He admits this tribal model is distinctly European and won’t apply to America. In the “Euro-US divide” he says:
However tempting to discuss US nationalism/conservatism, I’m not going to. The reason is that the fundamental factors vary too much. The European Americans aren’t the indigenous peoples of the US, the Native Americans are. In addition; there are more than 60 million Muslims in Western (25-30) + Eastern Europe (35) while only 9 million in the US.His politics is what the left commonly calls “Identity Politics”. It has little grounding in the [classical] liberal thought which is common in the anti-jihadi writers that he cites. They are first and foremost alarmed by the illiberal nature of Islam. Breivik agrees with the problem but has adapted a collectivist solution that is obviously his own. He has stepped off into an imagined war of all against all. He is alone in this war as he deserves to be.
Let us not for a moment accept the guilt by association that is directed against the thoughtful critics of one of today’s greatest problem: the threat of Islam. This problem has to be discussed. If this becomes an excuse to suppress the debate even further, illiberalism will have won once again.
If the Left is ever successful in its bid to criminalize ideological opponents and justify acts of terrorism against their opponents, their victory will destroy the liberal democratic foundations of Western civilization.I'd add that this would play right into Breivik's hands. So would Daniel Pipes, as he explains here in his last six paragraphs.
Update: Wikipedia notes Breivik's use of the concept of cultural genocide: "In the pre-trial hearing, February 2012, Breivik read a prepared statement demanding to be released and treated as a hero for his 'pre-emptive attack against traitors' accused of planning cultural genocide. He said, 'They are committing, or planning to commit, cultural destruction, of which deconstruction of the Norwegian ethnic group and deconstruction of Norwegian culture. This is the same as ethnic cleansing.'"
Sunday, November 14, 2010
War Before Civilization
To come to this conclusion he had to fight his own prejudice—one shared by his profession. “Like most archaeologists trained in the postwar period, I emerged from the first stage of my education so inculcated with the assumption that warfare and prehistory did not mix that I was willing to dismiss unambiguous physical evidence to the contrary.” [p ix] “Weapons and armor” were dismissed as “status symbols and had only a symbolic function rather than a practical military one.” [p19] Social anthropologists, who encountered savage societies, declared that contact with civilization induced the transformation from a peaceful disposition to a warrior-like ethos. However, the overwhelming evidence was too great to allow this prevailing dogma to go unchallenged.
Keeley thoroughly reviews the statistics. Depending on region and means of classification he finds that 5%-13% of primitive tribes or bands are peaceful (meaning not engaging in raids or wars more than once a year). “Most peaceful groups [are] living in areas with extremely low population densities, isolated by distance and hard country from other groups...” [p 28] But “many small-band societies that are regarded by ethnologists as not engaging in warfare instead evidence very high homicide rates.” [p29]
“Truly peaceful agriculturalists appear to be somewhat less common than pacifistic hunter-gatherers… Low-density, nomadic hunter-gatherers, with their few (and portable) possessions, large territories, and few fixed resources or constructed facilities, had the option of fleeing … Farmers and sedentary hunter-gatherers had little alternative but to meet force with force or, after injury, to discourage further depredations by taking revenge.” [p31]
War is common to civilized states and primitive non-state societies but given the evidence of Keeley’s book “the only reasonable conclusion is that wars are actually more frequent in nonstate societies than they are in state societies—especially modern nations.” [p33] “From North America at least, archaeological evidence reveals precisely the same pattern recorded ethnographically for tribal peoples the world over of frequent deadly raids and occasional horrific massacres. This was an indigenous and ‘native’ pattern long before contact with Europeans complicated the situation.’ [p69]
What happens when primitive and civilized people clash? He has some startling conclusions. When numbers are equal, either side is likely to win. Civilized fighting, geared to wining battles against other nation-states, is a liability when fighting savages. “In most cases, civilized soldiers have defeated primitive warriors only when they adopted the latter’s tactics. In the history of European expansion, soldiers repeatedly had to abandon their civilized techniques and weapons to win against even the most primitive opponents. The unorthodox techniques adopted were smaller, more mobile units; abandonment of artillery and use of lighter small arms; open formations and skirmishing tactics; increased reliance on ambushes, raids, and surprise attacks on settlements; destruction of the enemy’s economic infrastructure (habitations, foodstores, livestock, and means of transport); a strategy of attrition against the enemy’s manpower; relentless pursuit to take advantage of civilization’s superior logistics; and extensive use of natives as scouts or auxiliaries. In other words, not only were civilized military techniques incapable of defeating their primitive counter parts, but in many cases the collaboration of primitive warriors was necessary because civilized soldiers alone were inadequate for the task.” [p74]
“Primitive (and guerilla) warfare consists of war stripped to its essentials: the murder of enemies; the theft or destruction of their sustenance, wealth, and essential resources; and the inducement in them of insecurity and terror. It conducts the basic business of war without recourse to ponderous formations or equipment, complicated maneuvers, strict chains of command, calculated strategies, time tables, or other civilized embellishments. When civilized soldiers meet adversaries so unencumbered, they too must shed a considerable weight of intellectual baggage and physical armor just to even the odds.” [p75]
Often civilized nation-states were helped by other factors. “These silent partners included viruses, bacteria, seed plants, and mammals that disseminated death and triggered ecological transformations that decimated native manpower and disrupted traditional economies. These insidious conquistadors spread far more rapidly and were many times more deadly than the human conquerors …” [p78] He concludes: “In the face of these facts, the claim that the superior tactics and military discipline of Europeans gained them dominion over primitives in the Americas, Oceania, and Siberia is so inflated that it would be comic were not the facts that contradict it so tragic.” [p79]
Keeley, also notes facts contrary to his thesis. “… it was common the world over for the warrior who had just killed an enemy to be regarded by his own people as spiritually polluted or contaminated... Often he had to live for a time in seclusion, eat special food or fast …” [p144] War is repulsive even to primitive man. “Yet if this worldwide revulsion had any real impact on social behavior, wars should be rare and peace common; instead the opposite is true.” [p147]. His explanation of this paradox isn’t convincing. Neither is his explanation for the rise of the neo-Rousseauian “noble savage” dogmatism that dominated anthropology for so long.
Lawrence Keeley is a man who has respects for the facts. To the extent that he is not an exception in his profession—he says he’s not—there is a silent revolution taking place within the academy. Even if one isn’t convinced of every generality, one has to appreciate the seismic shift in worldview that is taking place.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
What Makes America American?
“Americans may belong more to the West than to Asia, but they are not Europeans, they are different. Nobody expressed this better than the great Prussian officer sent by the French to instill some discipline in Washington’s ragtag troops at Valley Forge in 1775. He was Baron von Steuben: ‘The genius of this nation is not in the least to be compared with that of the Prussians, Austrians, or French. You say to your [European] soldier, “Do this,” and he doeth it, but I am obliged to say, “This is the reason why you ought to do that,” and he does it.’”I found this passage in Seymour Morris, Jr's book "American History: Revised." It is not blind duty but right reason that motivates the American, according to Morris. Here is another author's take on the same passage:
'Washington appointed him [Steuben] inspector general of the Continental Army in the hope that Steuben would shape his ragtag mass into a fighting force, and so he did, but not at all in the way that Washington had expected. In the manual Steuben wrote for this American army, the most remarkable theme was love: love of the soldier for his fellow soldier, love of the officer for his men, love of country and love of his nation's ideals. Steuben obviously intuited that a people's army, a force of citizen-soldiers fighting for freedom from oppression, would be motivated most powerfully not by fear but, as he put it, by "love and confidence"—love of their cause, confidence in their officers and in themselves. "The genius of this nation," Steuben explained in a letter to a Prussian officer, "is not in the least to be compared with that of the Prussians, Austrians, or French. You say to your soldier, 'Do this,' and he does it; but I am obliged to say, 'This is the reason why you ought to do that,' and then he does it."'
This is from James R. Gaines' "Washington and Lafayette" in the Smithonian Magazine. Here it is not duty imposed by the threats of an autocratic ruler but the shared passionate values that motivate the American to join his fellow citizens in their common cause: individual liberty.
While Steuben was being inspired by the American ethos, back home in Prussia, Immanuel Kant was arguing for the duty-bound ethics that Steuben found so typically European. Practical reason (ethics) was not to be instrumental; it was a categorial imperative, a duty.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
As a secular-right writer, I found that I had something to contribute to the understanding of the problem in Islamic culture and the threat to the West. Since that time many have joined the cause and their websites abound with excellent essays. The links on the right will lead you to writers who now know more than I do ... and do an outstanding job.
I'll add to the debate whenever I see a need that is unmet.
Best regards, Jason.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Stand Up For Geert Wilders!
Holland was once the home to liberty's founders and defenders. In the 17th century Hugo Grotius advocated religious tolerance and natural law. Holland gave haven to Spinoza’s family, after Holland gained its freedom from Spain and established a tolerant regime. In 1683, John Locke, fled to Holland where he found freedom and fellowship only to return to England in 1689 during the Glorious Revolution. Locke’s defense of England's new liberal order would inspire the Americans in 1776.
Holland had played a key role in the world’s struggle for liberty. Sadly she is leading Europe’s decay into darkness. It started with the death of Pym Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh. It continued with its betrayal of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The pace of Holland’s suicide has accelerated with the outrageous attempt to silence one of Europe’s brave patriots.
It must not be allowed to succeed. Speak out! Donate! Boycott Holland until it secures Geert Wilder's freedom and safety.
I join with other freedom-loving writers on the 'net: Jihad Watch, AOW, Caroline Glick, Pamela Geller, New English Review, Grant Jones, Gates of Vienna, Mark Alexander, Bosch Fawstin, Gandalf, John Ray, Robert Spencer, Robert Spencer, and Pamela Geller … more to come.
Update: The UK refuses Wilders' entry because of his views are deemed unacceptable. Reports: Charles N. Steele, Robert Spencer, IFPS, Mary Jackson, Jerry Gordon, Gates of Vienna, Lawrence Auster, Pastorius, Mark Alexander, Opinionator, John Derbyshire, Glenn Reynolds, Andrew McCarthy, Stephen Brown, Bat Ye'or, Theodore Dalrymple, Mary Jackson, Andrew Ian Dodge, Mike McNally, and the MSM: UK Telegraph, Associate Press via the New York Times, BBC, National Post, Brussels Journal, the Spectator.
Update2: Esmerelda Weatherwax reports from London: Fitna is shown while filmaker is banned.
Update3: This is the speech that was banned in Britain.
Update4: WSJ - Britain's Surrender to Islamists: "What makes this surrender of free speech and fairness -- the most noble of British traditions -- particularly depressing is its totality. All main British parties support the Labour government's ban against Mr. Wilders -- the so-called Liberal Democrats just as eagerly as the Tories."
Liberalism flowed from Holland to England to America. It appears that liberalism's end will follow that same path if we do not act.
Update5: Mr. Wilders goes to Washington: Pam Geller, Robert Tracinski, Robert Spencer.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Rogues' Island Nation
In New England, many a landholder found himself in crushing debt. Farmers demanded relief. In 1785 the bailout party gained control of the Rhode Island legislature by championing the creation of paper money to pay off the debt. John Fiske writes:
“The legislature of 1786 showed an overwhelming majority in favor of paper money. The farmers from the inland towns were unanimous in supporting the measure. They could not see the difference between the state making a dollar out of paper and a dollar out of silver. The idea that the value did not lie in the government stamp they dismissed as an idle crotchet, a wire-drawn theory, worthy only of ‘literary fellows.’ What they could see was the glaring fact that they had no money, hard or soft; and they wanted something that would satisfy their creditors and buy new gowns for their wives, whose raiment was unquestionably the worse for wear.”
The script was not respected as a store of value or a unit of trade. It was heavily discounted as fast as it was printed. Fiske writes:
“But the depreciation began instantly. When the worthy farmers went to the store for dry goods or sugar, and found the prices rising with dreadful rapidity, they were at first astonished, and then enraged. The trouble, as they truly said, was with the wicked merchants, who would not take the paper dollars at their face value. These men were thus thwarting the government, and must be punished. An act was accordingly hurried through the legislature, commanding every one to take paper as an equivalent for gold, under penalty of five hundred dollars fine and loss of the right of suffrage.”
Those evil greedy merchants! How dare they want real money! What did those selfish mercenaries do next?
“The merchants in the cities thereupon shut up their shops. During the summer of 1786 all business was at a standstill in Newport and Providence, except in the bar-rooms. There and about the market-places men spent their time angrily discussing politics, and scarcely a day passed without street-fights, which at time grew into riots. In the country, too, no less than in the cities, the goddess of discord reigned. The farmers determined to starve the city people into submission, and they entered into an agreement not to send any produce into the cities until the merchants should open their shops and begin selling their goods for paper at its face value. … the farmers threw away their milk, used their corn for fuel, and let their apples rot on the ground, rather than supply the detested merchants.”
That’ll teach ‘em. Those damn farmers! The people are to blame!
“The farmers were threatened with armed violence. Town-meetings were held all over the state, to discuss the situation, and how long they might have talked to no purpose none can say, when all at once the matter was brought into court.”
The court ruled that no one had to take the paper money at face value but the legislature removed the judges. But …
“… among the farmers there were some who had grown tired of seeing their produce spoiled on their hands; and many of the richest merchants had announced their intention of moving out of the state. The new forcing act accordingly failed to pass, and presently the old one was repealed. The paper dollar had been issued in May; in November it passed for sixteen cents.”
The attempt to evade economic law leads to far worse consequences both materially and spiritually as society degenerates into warring factions.
“These outrageous proceedings awakened disgust and alarm among sensible people in all the other states, and Rhode Island was everywhere reviled and made fun of. … and forthwith the unhappy little state was nicknamed Rogues' Island.”
Events such as these motivated our founding fathers to “form a more prefect union” where legislative power was checked, mob rule discouraged, judicial review protected the rule of law, property rights respected, and economic regional warfare avoided.
Rhode Island sent no delegates to the convention and was the last to ratify the new constitution.
Have we become a Rogues’ Island nation?
Monday, September 29, 2008
Dick Armey on voting no to the bailout.
Thomas Sowell on bailout politicians.
Alex Epstein on bailouts without reform.
Robert Bidinotto on the bailout and the crisis.
Martin Masse on the bailout as socialism.
Yaron Brook: stop the bailouts.
Edward Cline on the history of bailouts, etc.
Jeff Perren comments on several aspects of the problem.
John Allison against helping the losers. (H/T Ghate)
John Allison on the “rescue.” (H/T Hicks)
Michael Graham on bailout and personal responsibility.
Nicholas Provenzo explains the history in clear terms.
Charles N. Steele celebrates the "no" vote.
Pamela Geller … well, let her say it.
Update1: Robert Trancinski: Kill it for good!