May 13th, 2011-From Yahoo News: ‘Libyan Rebel Leaders Hold White House Talks’

Full post here.

“Obama held talks with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen about Libya, and they pledged that “as long as the Gaddafi regime continues to attack its own population, NATO will maintain its operations to protect civilians.”

NATO armed forces chief David Richards (Britain) says NATO must target Gadhafi.

Related On This Site:  Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”From The Washington Post: ‘Obama Authorizes Predator Drone Strikes In Libya’

Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

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From Philosophy And Polity: ‘Historicism In German Political Theory’

Full piece here.

A good summary of historicism:

‘I believe that naturalist historicism is most exemplified by Kant’s writings, and this historicism is warped first by Hegel and next by Fichte by adding the element of ‘the chosen people’ as Germans. Marx alters this naturalist historicism to reflect a more economic approach, replacing conflicting natural desires with class-struggles and the Germans with the Proletariats.’

and in conclusion:

As we have seen, common in each author is the idea that humanity is pushed along a course by forces beyond ourselves. Whether these are based in nature, some world-spirit, national identity, or class struggle, we are nonetheless driven towards our complete development. The differences lie in the level of this development. Kant believes our capacity lies at the global level, eventually enveloping each and every human being. But Hegel and Fichte stunt this historicism and narrowly present it as the development of the German state and nation. In doing so, they neglect human development on the whole and attempt to bypass complete human development and resolution. However, Marx returns the discussion to a global level, and removes the German ethnocentrism injected by Hegel and Fichte. By doing so I believe he opens the door to a more robust and thorough view of humanity’s development, one unfettered by national identities and arbitrary borders.

Does the pursuit of meaning, and absolute meaning through man’s post-Enlightenment use of reason alone, and the lure of historicist logic and German political organization need counterweights…or are they obviously already here?

Is Leo Strauss a useful path?  The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy seems to have some doubts:

In the end, how one evaluates the circular nature of Strauss’s questions and answers will depend upon how seriously one takes Strauss’s diagnosis of the “theologico-political predicament of modernity.” If one does not think Strauss has made a serious case for the dire intellectual and political implications of this predicament, then one will not be persuaded that Strauss has done much more than creatively re-read some pre-modern philosophers, for better or for worse. If on the other hand, one finds Strauss’s diagnosis of the “theologico-political predicament” persuasive, one might think that Strauss has accomplished quite a lot by raising the questions of truth, revelation, and nature anew in a day and age in which discussion of these matters seems to have been deemed mute.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Addition:  As a reader points out, I’m quite aware the quote above is from someone quite sympathetic to Marxism.

Related On This Site:  Some discussion of  Isaiah Berlin’s attempt to address the dangers of historicist logic/the perfectibility of man once such an idea becomes the seed for political organization: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty” …

Ayn Rand borrowed heavily from Kant:  Link To An Ayn Rand Paper: The Objectivist Attack On Kant

Peter Singer discusses Hegel and Marx

Getting a better hold on Strauss and his definition of historicism?:  Some Tuesday Quotations From Leo Strauss…See the comments: Harry Jaffa At The Claremont Institute: ‘Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy’

How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?

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Repost-Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?

Full post here which is a response to this NY Times interview.

This analysis suggests that yes, it does:

“…educational degrees, whether they confer skills or credentials, are more important to income than IQ when minimum thresholds are met.”


“People with average and below average IQs are getting just as much of a financial return out of their 4-year degree as those above the 85th percentile. This suggests many more people of marginal ability should be seeking a Bachelor’s degree, not less.”

So, Murray’s argment for more vocational and apprenticeship education having greater value than a college degree may not be valid.

However, I still like Murray’s idea that there is a kind of top-heavy credentialization going on; more people are placing more value on a degree (with more externalized incentives?).

Yet, many of Murray’s arguments are based on the idea that we’ve gotten away from core principles that could serve us well (serve the brightest, don’t put ideology above natural talent)…and this analysis is partially motivated by libertarian politics and a certain political philosophy.

Are Murray’s ideas deep enough to encompass some of the longer-lasting problems of education?

Related On This Site:  In looking at his articles, some of his claims seem rhetorical, designed to focus attention on a potential problem:  Charles Murray In The WSJ: For Most People, College Is A Waste Of TimeCharles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational RomanticismCharles Murray On The SAT Test: Abolish It

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Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco’

Full piece here.

The City Journal is taking on some of the consequences of California’s progressive politics, and how San Francisco policies can create rewards and little to no punishment for the string of homeless kids who travel from city to city up and down the West coast.  Living in Seattle, I can testify to this behavior (McDonald characterizes it as a new hippie trail and a logical consequence of its morally suspect origins, though I suspect that there are other reasons, including manifest destiny).

Attempts to impose law and order are met with strong rebuke:

‘The homelessness industry instantly mobilized against the Civil Sidewalks law. Its first tactic was to assimilate the gutter punks into the “homelessness” paradigm, so that they could be slotted into the industry’s road-tested narrative about the casualties of a heartless free-market economy. “Homelessness, at its core, is an economic issue,” intoned the Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco’s most powerful homelessness advocacy group, in a report criticizing the proposed law.’

But this is San Francisco.  There’s a huge pool of sentiment (and often votes) for anything even mildly anti-business, anti-establishment, and sometimes full-on anarchic (this would help explain the WTO protests here in Seattle).

But point taken: someone’s moral concern becomes a cause for action (often with other people’s money, and righteously), which can become a non-profit (run with other people’s money, sometimes well, sometimes terribly) which can become part of a political force seeking its own self-interest (which then seeks more of other people’s money through politics and taxation)…and eventually…becomes willfully ignorant and dismissive of the burden it places upon the businesses, residents and citizens of its client host.

Of course, McDonald has been focusing on crime, and the harm done by crime against idealists seeking to round up criminal actors and the worst parts of our nature under a certain progressive ideology and politics:

“I don’t hang out in the Tenderloin because I don’t feel like smoking crack,” Cory says primly. Such scruples suggest a keen sense of self-preservation, notes Kent Uyehara. “These kids couldn’t handle the Tenderloin,” he says. “The local drug dealers won’t tolerate hippie punks interrupting their operations; they’d get beaten up or shot.”

At least most of them usually aren’t violent, or as violent as the actual people who murder, rob and steal. McDonald focuses on the effect on civil society, which is likely her strongest argument:

‘It is also about the most basic rules of civilized society, which hold that public spaces should be shared by the public, not monopolized by the disorderly few.’

Related On This Site:  This is the city that brought a near ban on toys in happy meals…From Strange Maps: ‘Crime Topography Of San Francisco’Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘Radical Graffiti Chic’

California’s anti-immigration, anti-union Democrat: Full video and background on Mickey Kaus here.

More broadly:  An anarchist who ended up conservative:  Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

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Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘High Noon In Pakistan’

Full post here.

Mead has another good analysis:

‘As US-Pakistan tensions rise, the Pakistanis have looked to China as an alternative great power backer.  The Pakistani argument to China is that Pakistan offers an offset to India that makes it harder for India to challenge Chinese influence in southeast Asia and elsewhere.’

So what do we do with a barely functional Pakistani state which has nuclear weapons, a recent swell of Anti-American popular sentiment, a state that looks the other way/harbors/produces terrorism…plays both ends while receiving U.S. aid upon a feudal, tribal land-owning system…and that we still have reasons to support?:

‘The administration is going to have to look at a broad range of options that stretch from adding some new dimensions to US-India relations and engaging more directly with more neighbors about the future of Afghanistan to additional operations like the Abbottabad raid where intelligence suggests appropriately important targets can be found.  On the other hand, the administration needs to develop a crystal clear and specific vision for what we want from Pakistan and what we will do if and only if we can secure it.’

Likely worth your time.

Michael Totten did an interview with Hezbollah’s pr guy.

Related On This Site:  From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanRepost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar…Bending now to Obama’s vision?  His Security Report here.

The Hitchens factor, and a vigorous defense of free speech: From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’From Michael Totten: ‘An Interview With Christopher Hitchens’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Mubaraks, Mamelukes, Modernizers and Muslims’Walter Russell Mead’s New Book On Britain and America

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Roger Sandall: ‘Plato Vs. Grand Theft Auto’

Full post here.

Sandall has Plato and Aristotle weigh in on Grand Theft Auto:

‘In ancient Greece dramatic recitation was an essential part of Greek education, and this involved acting roles and representing characters before other children. Moreover, if some of Eric A. Havelock’s argument in Preface to Plato is accepted, in those days most Greeks were still semi-literate at best, and in an oral culture continual recitation was how information was remembered and passed on: the works of Hesiod and Homer amounted to encyclopaedias, in poetic form, of all that the Hellenic peoples had learnt and known and done.’

Related On This Site:  Romantic primitivism: Roger Sandall: Marveling At The Aborigines, But Not Really Helping?….Did Jared Diamond get attacked for not being romantic enough…or just for potential hubris?:  Was he acting as a journalist in Papua New-Guinea?:  From The Chronicle Of Higher Education: Jared Diamond’s Lawsuit

Some discussion of Plato:  Repost: From the Cambridge Companion To Plato-T.H. Irwin’s “Plato: The intellectual Background’Bryan Magee Via Youtube: ‘Martha Nussbaum On Aristotle’

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From The Selected Writings By And About George Anastaplo: ‘Reason and Revelation: On Leo Strauss’

Full post here.

Link sent in.  On Strauss:

‘For one thing, he recognized and many times said that there is, at least in the United States, common ground shared by political philosophy and Christianity, especially the Roman Catholic Church, in the struggle against modern relativism and vulgar hedonism. Besides, Mr. Strauss always was in these matters a very cautious man:   he was always aware, that is, of his minority status as a Jew and even more as a student of political philosophy, an awareness which very much contributed to his sensitivity to the possibility of esotericism.’

and often I’ve seen such tension play out in policy debates between the ‘secular republic’ and the ‘constitutional republic’ crowds:

‘Any well-established religion, it should be expected, is apt to have had exerted upon it over the centuries the sobering influence of nature. And, as Mr. Fortin points out, recourse to political philosophy made Christianity politically responsible in this world. In being thus useful, it should be noticed, political philosophy may pose more of a threat to Christianity than it does to Judaism. Has not Judaism always been more concerned with the things of this world, and hence with worldly wisdom?’

It’s good to note how close and exhaustive a reader of texts Strauss was.

Also On This Site:  Getting a better hold on Strauss. See the comments: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Harry Jaffa At The Claremont Institute: ‘Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy’Some Tuesday Quotations From Leo StraussFrom Peter Berkowitz At Harvard: ‘The Reason Of Revelation: The Jewish Thought Of Leo Strauss’

Can Kant do all that heavy lifting…what are some of the dangers of Enlightenment project?:  From Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On Youtube: Geoffrey Warnock On KantA Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty” …

Is there a move afoot in America away from religion, social conservatism, and toward morality via secular Enlightenment ideals…towards value-free relativism?  toward secular morality?:  Franz De Waal At The NY Times 10/17/10: ‘Morals Without God?’Repost-Steven Weinberg’s Essay ‘On God’ In The NY Times Review Of BooksRoger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’ …Will Wilkinson At Forbes: ‘The Social Animal by David Brooks: A Scornful Review’..

Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”

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From Outside The Wire: ‘Harvest Moon’

Full post here.

‘The main driver of instability in Trek Nawa, Marja and the entire Helmund river valley is opium and the disruption of age old tribal settlement patterns.’

Some good photos at the link.  Writer is on the ground.

Related On This Site:  From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanRepost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’From Commonweal: Andrew Bacevich “The War We Can’t Win: Afghanistan And The Limits Of American Power”

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Sally Pipes At Forbes: ‘A Plan That Leads Health Care To Nowhere’

Full piece here.

They may not be death panels, but they will have likely consequences:

‘The government purchases far more drugs than any other entity. So it can effectively dictate the price it will pay. Such price controls may seem like an effective way to cut spending–but they’ll actually reduce the supply of available drugs. Pharmaceutical firms will simply stop selling their wares if the government forces them to take a loss on every transaction.’

Also On This Site:  Interview with Pipes at Reason:  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’

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From Buzzmachine: ‘Hard Economic Lessons For News’

Full post here.

So, you want to be in the news business?:

‘I continue to be astonished at the economic naiveté I hear in discussions of the business of news.’

Does the news business attract more idealists than other areas…what about in conjunction with the higher education bubble?

Worth a read.

Related On This Site: Who Reads The Newspapers?From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”…Bill Virgin says newspapers built up their value, and slowly let it die: From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die?.

What about pay sites?:  From Denis Pombriant: ‘Reinventing The Newspaper Business Model With Zuora”

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