A Few Quotations From The Stanford Encyclopedia On Positive And Negative Freedom

Full entry here. Of course, there are other ways to think about ...

From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’

Full piece here. The old liberal vs libertarian battle rehashed…link sent in ...

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Full text found here. (updated) I wanted to focus a little on ...

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

Gathered Over The Years-Some Quotes On Multiculturalism


Salman Rushdie at about minute 57:00:  ‘This idea of separate treatment for separate cultures…I think essentially if we follow that to its conclusion…destroys our ability to have a really moral framework for society.’

From Theodore Dalrymple:

‘The doctrine of multiculturalism arose, at least in Holland, as a response to the immigration influx, believed initially to be temporary. The original purpose of multiculturalism was to preserve the culture of European “guest workers” so that when they returned home, having completed their labor contracts, they would not feel dislocated by their time away. The doctrine became a shibboleth of the Left, a useful tool of cultural dismantlement, only after family reunion in the name of humanitarianism became normal policy during the 1960s and the guest workers transformed into permanent residents.’

Full interview here with Simon Blackburn.

“Nigel: Has relativism had its day as an influential philosophical position?

Simon: No – and I don’t think it should ever die. The danger is that it gets replaced by some kind of complacent dogmatism, which is at least equally unhealthy. The Greek sceptics thought that confronting a plurality of perspectives is the beginning of wisdom, and I think they were right. It is certainly the beginning of historiography and anthropology, and if we think, for instance, of the Copernican revolution, of self-conscious science. The trick is to benefit from an imaginative awareness of diversity, without falling into a kind of “anything goes” wishy-washy nihilism or scepticism….”

Click through for some of Eugene Volokh’s thoughts. He finishes with the following:

It’s a mistake, I think, to condemn multiculturalism in general, just as it’s a mistake to praise multiculturalism in general. Rather, we should think about which forms of toleration, accommodation, and embrace of differing cultural values and behaviors are good for America — in the light of American legal and social traditions — and which are bad.

Here’s a quote from a previous post, at the request of a friend:

“As Strauss understood it, the principle of liberal democracy in the natural freedom and equality of all human beings, and the bond of liberal society is a universal morality that links human beings regardless of religion. Liberalism understands religion to be a primary source of divisiveness in society, but it also regards liberty of religious worship to be a fundamental expression of the autonomy of the individual. To safeguard religion and to safeguard society from conflicts over religion, liberalism pushes religion to the private sphere where it is protected by law. The liberal state also strictly prohibits public laws that discriminate on the basis of religion. What the liberal state cannot do without ceasing to be liberal is to use the law to root out and entirely eliminate discrimination, religious and otherwise, on the part of private individuals and groups.”

A matter of deep debate.

See Also On This Site:  Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…?:  From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…Are we going soft and “European”… do we need to protect our religious idealism enshrined in the Constitution….with the social sciences?…Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People

Kenan Malik In The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Twenty Years On: Internalizing The Fatwa’-Salman Rushdie

Also On This Site:  Morality away from a transcendent God, but back toward Hume through the cognitive sciences?: Franz De Waal At The NY Times 10/17/10: ‘Morals Without God?’

Maybe if you’re defending religion, Nietzsche is a problematic reference: Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy…

Repost-From Virtual Philosophy: A Brief Interview With Simon BlackburnFrom The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Repost-From The Volokh Conspiracy: Multiculturalism As A Traditional American Value

Full post here.

Two questions:

1. Can you separate multiculturalism from cultural relativism…or are there deeper ideas to which multiculturalism can appeal outside of “value” speak?

2. Doesn’t multiculturalism reward tribal/separatist tendencies within a potentially dangerous idealism, harboring radical elements?

I had an emailer suggest that many of the tendencies you typically might find outside of multiculturalism i.e. racist, nationalist, totalitarian impulses…lie waiting to be expressed within multiculturalism…we’re humans after all.

Do you find Volokh’s utilitarian argument compelling…have we been multicultural all along?

Monument to Multiculturalism at Union Station

…in Toronto

Monday Quotation-Voltaire

“He is a hard man who is only just, and a sad one who is only wise.”


Some Sunday Obamacare Links

Megan McArdle at Bloomberg: ‘Obamacare Insurers Are Suffering. That Won’t End Well.

As to the recent noise made by UnitedHealth:

‘That said, strategic positioning is obviously far from the whole story, or even the majority of it. UnitedHealth really is losing money on these policies right now. It really is seeing something that looks dangerously like adverse selection.’

I still think it’s crucial to advocate that the ACA, poorly written and hastily passed with one-party consent, is a law designed to plan over 1/6 of the American economy from one location, taking money earned by some and redistributing that money (time + labor) to others by way of a huge bureaucracy, politicians, and other interested parties.

The things you might dislike about health-care access now, in all probability, will increase: Huge networks, murky billing and rising prices.  Some people will have access to care they previously didn’t but with awful cost/benefit outcomes.

We’ve taken many of the failures of the old system, the employer-based, jerry-rigged one, and vastly expanded Medicaid on top of it. This has also taken much choice, incentive, and opportunity away from the hardest working people, while trying to give the hardest working people’s stuff to the people who have less stuff.

This blog believes there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

The promises made reeked at the time (bending the cost-curve downwards), and a lot of numbers were tossed around to sway public opinion, and get the thing passed.

Such promises cannot possibly be met, and when they’re not, it’s reasonable to expect the people who made the promises will be all too happy to then regulate, ration, and control the system they’ve built, and huge parts of the economy, the political economy, and our lives.

They have the knowledge to do so, as far as they’re concerned.

Jim Pethokoukis quotes Robert Laszewski:

‘When are Obamacare apologists going to stop spinning the insurance exchange enrollment as some big victory that is running smoothly? Yes, Obamacare has brought the number of those uninsured down — because of the Medicaid expansion in those states that have taken it and because the poorest people eligible for the biggest exchange subsidies and lowest deductibles have found the program attractive. But that Obamacare has been a huge failure among the working class and middle-class — not to mention those who make too much for subsidies and have to pay the full cost for their expensive plans–has once again been confirmed.’

Previously: Charlie Martin here:

‘Whatever solution we look for though, the really important point is this: the whole basis of Obamacare, the notion that we can have more people, getting more benefits, and pay less, is just impossible. The arithmetic doesn’t work. And if you think that’s “unfair,” I’m sorry.’

Everyone equally more miserable, really:

Still not a right:  From If-Then Knots: Health Care Is Not A Right…But Then Neither Is Property?A Few Health Care Links-03/18/2010Peter Suderman At The WSJ: ‘Obamacare And The Medicaid Mess’From KeithHennessey.Com: ‘How To Repeal Obamacare’

The American Response To ISIS-Not So Strategic

I can claim no expertise on the matter; except that of a moderately informed American citizen trying to keep up…

Key points:  ISIS clearly represents a form of radical Islam; one with fascistic and Western elements, yes, but Islam-inspired nonetheless. To my knowledge, there are no non-Muslim, nor non-Muslim-aspiring converts and self-radicalizers joining this fight, nor seeking to advance ISIS aims.

I do not believe people in the West are at war with Islam, perhaps that’s not as obvious as it should be in certain quarters, but in other quarters it should be just as obvious the West has been in a form of warfare with radical, guerilla-style, Islamic-inspired terrorist groups for some time. These groups keep emerging out of Islamic societies, capable of attacking Western societies, and even radicalizing a few Muslims within Western societies.

Some of these radicals have been forged (supported even) out of direct contact with American military engagement in the past and present, and also other Western/Russian engagement, too. Some such radicals can even be born within, or travel freely to and from, Western societies and the front lines of their ordained battlefield, as many Muslims are voting with their feet; seeking more freedom, opportunity, and security than their own societies can provide, becoming immigrants, economic migrants, and in some cases, benefit-seekers, and in a few, rarer cases…radicalized terrorists and murderers.

Deeper down, though, it seems these radicals are being born out of the conflict within Muslim societies and those societies’ contacts/conflicts with both the West and what is generally called ‘modernity.’  Islam and Islamic societies are having a pretty rough time with so much change, and most Muslims’ view of how society ought to be, and what the good society is, and what will happen in the future, differs greatly from what many in the West live and propose.

So, how does the West respond, and according to which leaders and ideas?

As to ISIS, Grame Wood’s piece and interview seem like a decent place to start:

Here he is in a VICE interview on the same subject:


As to the American response, I’m quite sympathetic to viewing the President thusly:  Take the easy path of blaming your ideological enemies at home when the fruits of your foreign-policy decisions are borne.  Elide over the radical Islamic nature of the threat which can cost people their lives and likely prohibits reasonable policy-making.  Gloss over the humanitarian disaster Syria’s become, largely on your watch.

If necessary, double-down on your own policy positions and political coalitions (climate change is the real threat, peace is next, the Syrian mess will be solved by humanitarian means alone, that’s what ‘good’ people do).

Jonah Goldberg here.  Walter Russell Mead here.

‘From the standpoint of American interests and of the well being of the Syrians, the primary responsibility that the United States has toward the people of Syria is not to offer asylum to something like 0.25 percent of its refugee population. The primary duty of this country was to prevent such a disaster from happening and, failing that, to support in-country safe havens and relief operations. No doubt President Obama and the unthinking press zealots who applaud his every move prefer a conversation about why ordinary Americans are racist xenophobes to one about why President Obama’s Syria policy has created an immense and still expanding disaster.’

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Which map are you using to understand this conflict?:  From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington

Ebrahim Moosa At Bloggingheads Discusses Islamic Reform

al-Zawahiri’s Egypt, a good backstory: Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’

Michael Moynihan

Repost: Kenan Malik In The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Twenty Years On: Internalizing The Fatwa’-Salman Rushdie’

Link sent in by a reader to Alexander Hitchens essay:  As American As Apple Pie: How Anwar al-Awlaki Became The Face Of Western Jihad

Paul Berman At The New Republic: ‘From September 11 to the Arab Spring: Do Ideas Matter?’From Foreign Affairs: ‘Al Qaeda After Attiyya’….From The AP: ‘Al-Awlaki: From Voice For Jihad To Al-Qaida Figure’

From Reason: ‘Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks Headbutted During Lecture’

Many libertarians stand firm on freedom of speech:  Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra LevantFrom Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’Christopher Hitchens At Slate: Yale SurrendersYale concluded that the risk of violence and the potential consequences that stemmed from their decision to publish a scholarly work about the Mohammed cartoons (reprinting those cartoons) was not worth the risk. Hitchens was not a fan of religion.

Some Quotations From Samuel Huntington

“The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.”

Samuel Huntington (wikipedia).  The quote is from The Clash Of Civilizations and is fairly well known, and I’m sure intelligently disagreed with.

Political Order In Changing Societies info here, a book likely worth your time.

A quote 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.”

I’ll keep putting it up, as it’s so relevant. A few central quotes from this article here:

Huntington was instinctively a conservative because he valued an ordered society, but he also championed conservatism as a necessary instrument to defend liberal institutions against communism. In many of his books he attacked idealistic liberals for holding such institutions to impossible, utopian standards that undermined their effectiveness in the world.”


“An iconoclast to the core, Huntington never threw his lot in with left or right. He was too statist to be a libertarian, too realist to embrace neoconservatism, and too sympathetic to nationalism, religion and the military to identify with liberal Democrats. As a conservative Democrat, then, he is an intellectual rarity.”

Update And Repost: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

See Also:  Google books has ‘Political Order In Changing Societies‘ and ‘Who Are We?:  The Challenges To America’s National Identity‘  (previews) available.

Via The New Criterion: ‘The Intolerable Dream’

Full piece here.

Of some interest:

‘Having read so many chivalric epics that his brains have “dried up,” the hero decides that he has been called to revive chivalry and restore the Golden Age in this Age of Iron. But as the book proceeded, Cervantes realized that he had hit on something much more profound than a simple parody. The story kept raising ultimate questions about faith, belief, evidence, and utopian ideals. When do we need caution and when risk? Should we seek to transform reality or the way we perceive it? Do good intentions or good results define moral actions? And what is the proper role of literature itself?’

Tilting at Windmills, a reading group of Don Quixote done back in 2007.

On Nabokov’s reading of Don Quixote, via a NY Times article:

What Nabokov’s eyes kept seeing as he prepared his lectures was the accurately perceived fact that the book elicits cruel laughter. Cervantes’ old man who had read himself into insanity and his smelly squire were created to be the butt of mockery. Quite early, readers and critics began to sidestep this Spanish fun and to interpret that story as another kind of satire: one in which an essentially sane, humane soul in a crass and unromantic world can only appear as insane.

If you have any good links, or links to reviews, please pass them along…

Here’s a stanza from ‘Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Blackbird‘ by Wallace Stevens, transitioning from Romanticism to Modernism, wrestling with faith and more modern doubt, staying the course with good Dutch-German insurance-executive sobriety and also lasting late in the night with passionately abstract poetic imaginings:

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?


The poem must resist the intelligence / Almost successfully.

Via A Reader-‘Locke’s Empiricism, Berkeley’s Idealism’


Presented by Lawrence Cahoone, at College Of The Holy Cross, and focusing on ‘An Essay Concering Human Understanding.’

Via a previous post:

‘If a man in the state of nature be so free, as has been said; if he be absolute lord of his own person and possessions, equal to the greatest, and subject to nobody, why will he part with his freedom?  Why will he give up this empire, and subject himself to the dominion and control of any other power?  To which ’tis obvious to answer, that though in the state of nature he hath such a right, yet the enjoyment of it is very uncertain, and constantly exposed to the invasion of others.  For all being kings as much as he, every man his equal, and the greater part no strict observers of equity and justice, the enjoyment of the property he has in this state is very unsafe, very insecure.  This makes him willing to quit this condition, which however free, is full of fears and continual dangers: and ’tis not without reason, that he seeks out, and is willing to join in society with others who are already united, or have a mind to unity for the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties and estates, which I call by the general name, property.’

*Locke, John.  Two Treatises Of Government.  London: Everyman, J.M. Dent, Orion Publishing House.  1993.


And the comments:

–Chris, do you have the exact date when man agreed to “join in society with others”

My response which has not really answered the question:


I’m still trying to figure out exactly when, or how, it was that each man was granted rights derived from God, or reason, or some sufficiently abstract principle(s) that keeps him free enough to be neither master nor slave, and at least free enough to choose voluntary association through protection of law, property, contract, and some of the ‘negative’ liberties.

Given my understanding of human nature and my own experience, I don’t see how this is possible without family, the dependence upon institutions, tradition and the habits derived from them forming the backbone of civil society. That may well be a lack of faith in human nature, but I consider it quite realistic

How the voluntary association and the obligations and duties to these institutions fit together is a matter of deep debate and one I clearly haven’t resolved.

Some Links On The Paris Attacks

Via the BBC:

Attack sites:

  • Bataclan concert venue, 50 boulevard Voltaire, 11th district – hostages held

  • Le Carillon, 18 rue Alibert, 10th district – gun attack

  • Le Petit Cambodge, 20 rue Alibert, 10th district – gun attack

  • La Belle Equipe, 92 rue de Charonne, 11th district – gun attack

  • Near Stade de France, St Denis, just north of Paris – reported suicide attack near venue as France v Germany football match played

  • Reports of gunfire at at least one other site



The Atlantic has some decent coverage

First thoughts:  I doubt this will be enough to shake political, cultural and institutional investment in what I see as misguided idealism gathered under secular humanist banners.  That is to say:  There is a lack of common sense when it comes to reasonable threat assessment regarding Islamic terrorism.

There also seems a lack of honest reflection about the gap between post Enlightenment Europe and Islam in general, and post-Enlightenment Europe and Islamic immigration in particular; where radical actors can be bred within European cities.  I’d love to see more open debate regarding the carrying capacity members of European societies come to decide they can maintain; thus meeting their demand for cheap labor, their own low birth-rates, and the desperate need found in much of the rest of the world.

Addition:  If you’re going to let people in, then how will you integrate them, and where are you all headed together?  What are the best ways to ease the natural tensions that result?

Whom should you let in and what restrictions should you have?  How do you balance national security interests within the EU, and how much do you invest in military power, and thus, security in order to combat radical Islam?

Thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.  A quick and ignoble death to the terrorists.

Related On This Site: Ayan Hirsi Ali has used the ideals of the West (especially women’s rights) to potentially confront Islam; which has served her politically as well:  Repost-Ayan Hirsi Ali At The CSM: ‘Swiss Ban On Minarets Was A Vote For Tolerance And Inclusion’

Is Islam incompatibile with freedom as we define it here in the West, or is this a false choice?:  From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

Update And Repost: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Michael Moynihan

Repost: Kenan Malik In The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Twenty Years On: Internalizing The Fatwa’-Salman Rushdie’Paul Berman At The New Republic: ‘From September 11 to the Arab Spring: Do Ideas Matter?’From Foreign Affairs: ‘Al Qaeda After Attiyya’….From The AP: ‘Al-Awlaki: From Voice For Jihad To Al-Qaida Figure’From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”And:  Philip Bobbitt Discusses His Book ‘Terror And Consent’ On Bloggingheads

Repost-Jesse Larner In Dissent Magazine: Who’s Afraid Of Friedrich Hayek? The Obvious Truths And Mystical Fallacies Of A Hero Of The Right

Full essay here.

There’s what you would expect:

“A complex economy is something no person or institution can understand.”

“To Hayek, this is what socialism, communism, and collectivism—he makes little distinction between them—mean: the dangerous illusion of perfectibility.”

But also this:

“Plainly, transparently—and in stark contrast to many modern conservative intellectuals—he (sic Hayek) is a man concerned with human freedom. One of the unexpected things in Road is that he writes with passion against class privilege.”

You don’t have to get into bed with leftist utopianism to see that all groups of people tend to serve their own interests, regardless of ideological bent…and that this can eventually pose a threat to individual freedoms.  Perhaps the American right is being a little mystic with regard to Hayek, though Larner probably has his own motivations as well.

Larner points out the limits of Hayek’s ideas (and genius).  Beyond his central insights, Hayek was also deeply influenced by romanticism, possessed a rather mystic approach to law…both encompassed by a deep commitment to individualism.

I’d also point out that there is standard German Idealism at work here, as well as the times: A hard, unyielding right and a utopian left in an embrace that later fell apart into chaos.  It’s understandable that Hayek was desperate to create a platform upon which to save individual liberty.

It might be worthy of note that Karl Popper and the Vienna Circle may have been similarly shaped by those times.

Anyways, food for thought.

by animalitobaby

See Also:  Friedrich Hayek Discussion On Bloggingheads.  Bruce Caldwell discusses his then new book on Hayek.

Repost-From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’

.A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty” …From Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On Youtube: Geoffrey Warnock On KantSome Friday Quotations: (On) Kant, Locke, and Pierce


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