Spotlight

Repost-From Michael Totten At World Affairs: “Noam Chomsky: The Last Totalitarian”

Full interview here. Totten interviews Benjamin Kerstein, who’s written Diary of an ...

Update And Repost: ‘From The Philosopher’s Magazine Via The A & L Daily: ‘My Philosophy: Alan Sokal’

Interview here. Do you remember the Sokal hoax? A few thoughts on the ...

Repost-Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

Full post here. Key quote: “More recently Richard Rorty made an attractive ...

Offering links and thoughts on the Arts, Politics, Political Philosophy and Foreign Affairs.

More On That Oso Landslide

From The Landslide blog:

In reviewing seismic data with two distinct events, it’s not clear if a top portion slipped first, causing the bottom to give, or vice versa:

Our author:

‘To my untrained eye the initial seismic event shows a slow increase in energy release rather than an abrupt peak.  Note also that the second event appears to be much smaller than the first.  Thus, in this interpretation, the initial failure was, I think, a small, slow failure in the lower slope that destabilised the upper block of the Oso landslide, which slid onto the mass below.’

From King5 news, names, photos and a brief remembrance of those who lost their lives. R.I.P.

Two Links On The Conservation Of Liberty

This blog sometimes acts as a bit of a dumping ground, a curio-shelf of ideas on the conservation of liberty.

Keep sending those links by tweet, email, or the comments section: No postmodern, nihilist art lunacy is silly nor ideological enough, and no one painting themselves into ideological corners really ought to be safe, including me and you.

From Standpoint, our reviewer takes a look at ‘The Intellectual Life Of Edmund Burke: From The Sublime And Beautiful To American Independence‘, by David Bromwich.

‘Bromwich twice quotes Burke’s deceptively simple political creed, that “the principles of true politicks are those of morality enlarged, and I neither now do nor every will admit of any other.” This biography can be viewed as a careful unpacking of the varying implications of that stance, as Burke both adhered to it, and attained a deeper understanding of its meaning, over the course of his career in public life.’

Here’s a link to Michael Sandel at Harvard’s lecture courses on ‘Justice’.  I’ve made it through his presentation of Robert Nozick, Locke, and Kant so far.

From The New Republic: ‘The U.S. Is Accidentally Pushing Kurdistan Toward Independence From Iraq’

Full piece here.

Things are getting interesting:

 The Kurdistan Regional Government’s efforts to export its own oil, against the wishes of the Iraqi and U.S. governments, saw a significant achievement last week: Reuters reported Thursday that a tanker carrying more that $100 million of crude oil was headed for Galveston, Texas.  But just days later, on Monday night, a U.S. judge sided with an Iraqi Oil Ministry complaint that the KRG had ‘misappropriated’ the one million barrels, and she ordered their seizure.’

If you’re Kurdish, I imagine you want to take Erbil, and take further steps one at a time. America has a big stake in a stable enough Iraq to limit ISIS/ISIL, and coalitions that can keep the peace, as well as obligations to the Turkish government and others. Kurdish independence relies upon the continued disintegration of the nation-state of Iraq as we know it (it may be too late), and the disruption of Kurdish populations in highly militarized southeastern Turkey, chaotic Syria, and in Northwestern Iran.

Any reasonably interested observer wants to ensure that Kurdish fighting forces and Kurdish authorities are people we can do business with, not engaging in the kinds of sectarianism, tribalism and retribution so common in Iraq should they gain more autonomy, oil revenue and power.  As of now, the Kurdish portions of Iraq tend to be the most safe, taking in those fleeing the chaos unleashed.

See Also:  Dexter Filkins ‘From Kurdistan To New York’

During Christopher Hitchens’ 2009 appearance on Australia’s Q & A, he wore a Kurdish flag pin in solidarity and fielded a question from a Kurd (starts at minute 1:30…mentioned as the rest of the debate may be worth your time):

————————

Independent Kurdistan-A Good Outcome For American Interests?

In his book Where The West Ends, Totten describes visiting Northern Iraq briefly as a tourist with a friend, and the general feeling of pro-Americanism in Kurdish Northern Iraq that generally one can only feel in Poland, parts of the former Yugoslavia etc.

Related On This Site: Longer odds, lots of risk: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest’s Via Media: “The Rise Of Independent Kurdistan?”From Reuters: ‘Analysis: Syrian Kurds Sense Freedom, Power Struggle Awaits’

Repost-’Kenneth Anderson At Volokh: ‘The Fragmenting of the New Class Elites, Or, Downward Mobility’

Full post here.

Anderson had his own theory of the Occupy movements and the recession:

‘In social theory, OWS is best understood not as a populist movement against the bankers, but instead as the breakdown of the New Class into its two increasingly disconnected parts.  The upper tier, the bankers-government bankers-super credentialed elites.  But also the lower tier, those who saw themselves entitled to a white collar job in the Virtue Industries of government and non-profits — the helping professions, the culture industry, the virtueocracies, the industries of therapeutic social control, as Christopher Lasch pointed out in his final book, The Revolt of the Elites.’

I think the definition of liberty here is key.  The “New Class”, on this analysis, would be generally seeking to enshrine positive definitions of liberty as a libertarian might view liberty and liberalism (with individual freedoms eventually threatened by the consequences of political and social order such folks pursue…namely big States and perhaps a big World Government entity).

You can easily think of some Davos types, Bono and other entertainers, various non-profiteers, the right’s boogeyman George Soros and perhaps Al Gore, some advocates for world government,  humanists and cosmopolitans (old and new money) at the top.  Beneath them here at home one could easily think of social workers, community organizers, government nutritionists, environmentalists, unionized teachers, all of whom require the welfare State for their existence (other people’s money taxed and redistributed to them as they pursue their own self-interest and their own conception of the Good and public Good).

All of them, on this analysis, are rent-seekers (and rent-seeking is quite normal, but for these folks it requires a large State or the benefits gained here at home…and other markets abroad).

Food for thought.

Related On This Site:   Ken Burns makes a good documentary, but he’s also arguing he absolutely needs your tax dollars in service of what he assumes to be a shared definition of the “common good” as he pursues that art.  The market just can’t support it otherwise. Repost-From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’

Steven Pinker curiously goes Hobbesian and mentions an ‘international Leviathan’:   At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes

A Few Thoughts On Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: “Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I”

The market will make people better off, but always leaves them wanting more and in a state of spiritual malaise, which invites constant meddling.  Can economic freedom and free markets reconcile the moral depth of progressive big-State human freedom:  Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’A Few Quotations From F.A. Hayek’s: ‘Why I Am Not A Conservative’A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Michael Dirda At The Washington Post-Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Son

Full post here.

Dirda reviews this biography of Julian Hawthorne.

Did you know Hawthorne had a son who wrote for Hearst and rubbed shoulders with Twain?:

‘Over the course of his long life, Julian Hawthorne seems to have met every major literary and public figure of his time. As a child, he sometimes listened in as his father conversed with Emerson, Thoreau and Melville. At birthday parties, he played games with little Louisa May Alcott.’

Also from Michael Dirda, check out his visit to ‘Mencken Day’ in Baltimore:

‘We stayed for the afternoon talk-in which Richard Schrader revealed how slanted and inaccurate Mencken’s account of the Scopes evolution trial had been…’

The business of monkeys…

I’m often returned to the simple pleasures of bookishness while reading Dirda.

From a previous piece at the Times Literary Supplement (subscription required):

“As a student of his native literature, Mencken favours writers with the authentic American yawp – Walt Whitman and Mark Twain, the humorists George Ade and Ring Lardner. Huckleberry Finn is the novel he loves most (followed, somewhat surprisingly, by Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim). He judges Emerson to be overrated – “an importer of stale German elixirs, sometimes direct and sometimes through the Carlylean branch house”. He can’t bear the circumlocutions of Henry James and the gentility of William Dean Howells”

See Also: How To Study Literature: M.H. Abrams In The Chronicle Of Higher Ed

Elixirs and ideas Roger Scruton At The New Atlantis: ‘Scientism In The Arts & Humanities’ From Scientific Blogging: ‘The Humanities Are In Crisis-Science Is Not’ Repost-Adam Kirsch At The New Republic: ‘Art Over Biology’…Repost-Stanley Fish At The NY Times Blog: ‘The Last Professors: The Corporate Professors And The Fate Of The Humanities’

Menand wonders in his new book, why it often can take 9 years for a humanities PhD to get their doctorate.  He suggests part of the answer lies in the numbers:  fewer opportunities and fewer university programs since 1970.  Overtrained and underpaid.

Two Links From The American Interest & It’s Willer Time

Adam Garfinkle (as of July 11th) at the American Interest on ISIS/ISIL, the Kurds, the Iranian regime (the U.S. position can’t allow deliverable nukes for Iran, the Iranian regime is by hook or by crook aiming for deliverable nukes):

‘Do not go soft in the P5+1 negotiations, do not erode the sanctions regime further, and be prepared to build it back up if Iranian behavior warrants; keep repeating the determination that Iran will not have nuclear weapons and that all options remain on the table to prevent it; prepare multi-level economic warfare plans short of kinetic strikes, not to exclude naval blockades; intercept Iranian arms shipments to insurgents in the region and, perhaps, once unloaded, sink the ships; reveal Assad’s chemical weapons declaration to have been bogus; quickly and significantly aid the FSA to do real harm to Iran’s Alawi allies in Damascus; and, above all, use the current ISIS crisis to harm Iran for the longer term.’

This blog is generally sympathetic to Kurdish aims, but in the wake of Iraq we have other interests to balance: Independent Kurdistan-A Good Outcome For American Interests? Longer odds, lots of risk: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest’s Via Media: “The Rise Of Independent Kurdistan?”From Reuters: ‘Analysis: Syrian Kurds Sense Freedom, Power Struggle Awaits’

Four More Months-The White House & The Iranian Regime

Walter Russell Mead is not happy with the media’s investment in a certain narrative: ‘As Libya Implodes, “Smart Diplomacy” Becoming A Punch Line:

‘But luckily for Team Obama, the mainstream press would rather die than subject liberal Democrats to the critiques it reserves for the GOP. So instead, as Libya writhes in agony, reputations and careers move on. The news is so bad, and the President’s foreign policy is collapsing on so many fronts, that it is impossible to keep the story off the front pages.’

And now for something to wash all that down.  Pretty much unrelated.

It’s Willer Time:

Saturday Poem: William Butler Yeats

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss;
Nor leave them happier than before.
Nor law; nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

-William Butler Yeats

Repost-Roger Scruton In The American Spectator: The New Humanism

Full post here.

Perhaps Scruton is just being nostalgic for what he describes as the old humanism:

“There is no need for God, they thought, in order to live with a vision of the higher life. All the values that had been appropriated by the Christian churches are available to the humanist too.”

And he laments the new humanism, which lacks the noblility of purpose of the old, and offers nothing positive:

Instead of idealizing man, the new humanism denigrates God and attacks the belief in God as a human weakness”

Scruton suggests Richard Dawkins to be an example of the new humanists.  Also, an interesting quote:

“Having shaken off their shackles and discovered that they have not obtained contentment, human beings have a lamentable tendency to believe that they are victims of some alien force, be it aristocracy, the bourgeoisie, capitalism, the priesthood, or simply the belief in God. And the feeling arises that they need only destroy this alien force, and happiness will be served up on a plate, in a garden of pleasures. That, in my view, is why the Enlightenment, which promised the reign of freedom and justice, issued in an unending series of wars”

The Garden Of Eden? What about the unitarian universalists?

See also on this site:  Similar topics from Britain:    From Nigel Warburton’s Site: A Definition of Humanism?…A Debate: Would We Better Off Without Religion?…Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

Roger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’

Four More Months-The White House & The Iranian Regime

Secretary Of State John Kerry has announced a four month extension of the initial preliminary talks with Iran, stretching them until November 24th:

Claudia Rosett is unhappy with language coming from the White House, worried that we’ve already legitimized too much.

It’s tough to see what happens in the next four months that hasn’t happened already:

The phrase is absurd. Iran’s nuclear program is manifestly not about peace. If it were, there would have been no need for Iran’s collaboration with Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan nuclear network, no need for secretly built Iranian enrichment facilities, no need for Iran’s years of maneuvering under sanctions, no need for Iran’s work on long-range missiles to deliver nuclear weapons, no need for the whole vast elaborate web of deceits and dodges and ploys with which Iran has built its nuclear program. There would be no need now for months and months of multi-tiered haggling in Vienna with the U.S., Britain, France and Germany (and, nominally, with China and Russia — which have managed the trick of both supplying materiel to Iran’s nuclear program, and bargaining over the results). There would be no need for secrecy. There would be no need for any more Iranian nuclear program going forward. Iran’s regime could dismantle its entire nuclear kit, and amuse itself with developing the country’s vast wealth of oil and gas.’

Click through for more.

It’s hard to see from here how the divide gets bridged:  An Iran which sees nuclear enrichment and weapons as a right, a big stick, and a matter of national destiny, and a U.S. that sees an Iran with nuclear weapons as fundamentally unacceptable.

In Iran, you’ve got a theocratic, repressive regime which sponsors terrorism far beyond its borders, props up Assad and runs guns to Hamas and various others. This is a deep State largely controlled by an Islamic revolutionary security apparatus which squelches domestic political opposition, spies on its citizens, and has been known to murder and jail dissenters and opponents. There are some democratic elements, journalists, and many business interests in Iranian society, of course, bumping up against the Baseej, the Supreme Leader and the theocracy, but they don’t have too much control over their country.

It was argued that with newly elected Hassan Rouhani as President, this was the best chance for something to happen.

By and large, we’re out on a limb with a crafty, authoritarian regime at the end of the day, generally not to be taken at its word most of the time but which probably acts in what can be recognized as rational ways (aiming for regional domination and nuclear weapons as a matter of national destiny, for starters).

I keep putting this quote up from this piece over at the Atlantic: From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work

“Although the professional soldier accepts the reality of never-ending and limited conflict, “the liberal tendency,” Huntington explained, is “to absolutize and dichotomize war and peace.” Liberals will most readily support a war if they can turn it into a crusade for advancing humanistic ideals. That is why, he wrote, liberals seek to reduce the defense budget even as they periodically demand an adventurous foreign policy.”

What about an unadventurous foreign policy, but still very risky nonetheless?

-Dexter Filkins on Iran here.

-Scowcroft and Brzezinski may be offering plans: ‘George Shultz & Henry Kissinger At The Hoover Institution: ‘What A Final Iran Deal Must Do’

-Which Ideas Are Guiding Our Foreign Policy With Iran.’ Some Saturday Links On Iran-Peace At What Price?

-Israel, Iran, & Peace: Andrew Sullivan Responds To Charges Of Potential Anti-Semitism

Monday Quotation-George Santayana

Those who speak most of progress measure it by quantity and not by quality.”

-George Santayana

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,252 other followers