‘This past weekend, the U.S. government confirmed the death of Abu Abd al-Rahman Atiyyat Allah, otherwise known as Atiyya, a senior al Qaeda leader who was likely killed by a drone strike in Waziristan. ‘
The American Interest is revisiting the Civil War. Our author makes a point:
‘…but it underscores a point often missed in the terrible toll of the Civil War’s losses, which is that democracy—the classical liberal democracy of Locke and Montesquieu, of Hamilton and Madison, of Mill and Tocqueville—survived.’
“In their view…ideas can be traced to prior conditions that are not ideas, such as economic forces or, more particularly for them, political interests. Ideas are essentially defensive; they justify, defend, and protect the established interests of various regimes and of their opponents, for example the defense of the American colonists in the Declaration of Independence.”
However, Mansfield also argues there are two problems that seem to arise from Rahe’s view, namely that De Tocqueville’s thinking runs deeper than those sources:
“…when democracy comes to America fully visible “in broad daylight,” as Tocqueville says, it is in the democratic “idea,” both political and religious, that the Puritans brought with them. It seems that, before the Puritans, democracy was working under cover of aristocracy–on its own, as it were–without benefit of advocates who were strong enough to speak openly on its behalf.”
…namely that he was a historicist in some ways (democracy has been there all along, back to the Greeks at least) , as well as the fact that De Tocqueville:
“…does not appear to be a political philosopher, at least not one of their kind. He does not provide either a comprehensive survey of politics, as did Montesquieu, or an abstract foundation for politics, as did Rousseau.”
Mansfield argues that De Tocuqueville took care to resist the lure of top-down abstract surveys applied to people and how they organize , as well as even resisting historicism.
“In this he offers testimony to the influence of ideas while avoiding them, and to the power of the democratic context of ideas while resisting it. One could say that he yields some ground to historicism as he decisively rejects it”
Food for thought. Mansfield seems to find Rahe’s book not quite convincing.
I still very much find myself compelled by Strauss’s fact-value distinction (from wikipedia):
“Strauss treated politics as something that could not be studied from afar. A political scientist examining politics with a value-free scientific eye, for Strauss, was self-deluded”
Friedman doesn’t dispute that people have responsibilities to other people, but rather that the government is simply an inefficient means to meet those responsibilities (by interfering with the free market, which Friedman asserts has been the best way to lift the greatest number out of poverty). Furthermore, he argues that the government causes and maintains poverty in the case of black teenagers by failing to provide a decent education so that they fail to learn basic skills in government-run schools, and through the minimum wage which distorts the market, preventing more opportunities for work.
On the other hand, one of the moral cornerstones of the progressive movement is that but for the Civil Rights Act among others, and building the Great Society (and but for a group of people acting on principles, and eventually making those principles into laws and institutions) black folks would have remained not only excluded from the job market, but from the legal rights granted to citizens and held in slavery and bondage by the laws.
Here is Thomas Sowell (heavily influcenced by the same Austrian School Of Economics) debating welfare and schools with the then State Of Pennsylvania Secretary Of Welfare:
Any thoughts and comments are welcome.
Addition: It just occurred to me that Friedman’s view of liberty is one of voluntary cooperative action. Anything more is an injustice to the individual and a serious threat to individual liberty (transferring too much power to the State through social programs like Social Security, Welfare etc and the injustice of taxation upon individuals and the dangers of the well-intentioned and do-gooders from the New Deal on). The voluntary exchanges that occur between people pursuing their own self-interest in the marketplace has been the greatest driver of human freedom and the greatest liberator from the natural human conditions of poverty, privation and want. Friedman merges Adam Smith’s invisible hand and Thomas Jefferson’s separation of powers: Free To Choose
Noam Chomsky also shares a view that the individual ought to be free to enter into voluntary cooperative action (community councils or faculties in universities), but believes that to be achieved by perhaps only anarchy (where he retreats) or anarcho syndicalism, or libertarian socialism. I don’t find anarchy to be tenable in protecting individual liberty. Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge.
“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….”
It looks like we’ve been dealing with such a problem for a long time, in one form or another.
‘A strategy is not a goal like maximizing shareholder value or keeping America safe from terrorism. It’s not even a plan. It is a design — a coherent approach to defining and solving a particular problem, in which the different elements have to work together.’
And on Postrel’s analysis of Apple, that’s what it’s doing well.
‘So if you really want to be like Apple, drop the fluff- filled vision statements and magical wishes. Pretend your company’s existence is at stake, coldly evaluate the environment, and make choices. Stop thinking of strategy as meaningless verbiage or financial goals and treat it as a serious design challenge.’
Here are two quotations from Henry Kissinger:
“The purpose of bureaucracy is to devise a standard operating procedure which can cope effectively with most problems. A bureaucracy is efficient if the matters which it handles routinely are, in fact, the most frequent and if its procedures are relevant to their solution. If those criteria are met, the energies of the top leadership are freed to deal creatively with the unexpected occurrence or with the need for innovation. Bureaucracy becomes an obstacle when what it defines as routine does not address the most significant range of issues or when its prescribed mode of action proves irrelevant to the problem.”
“Moreover, the reputation, indeed the political survival, of most leaders depends on their ability to realize their goals, however these may have been arrived at. Whether these goals are desireable is relatively less crucial.”
Not a war on terror, but wars on terror. A deep, interesting discussion of terrorism, nationhood, law, political structures and war.
Bobbit’s professional focus is Constitutional Law. His faculty page is here, his book here. A NY Times review here, (a pretty good job), which has the last lines:
“There is also a tragic consciousness overshadowing it, evident in the fragments of poetry Mr. Bobbitt cites throughout. He quotes St. Augustine, calling the looming task “mournful work”: “sustaining relative good in the face of greater evil.”
‘In a July 2009 essay about the war in Afghanistan, I asked: “Is It Worth It?”1My answer then was yes, but only barely. Because the case for war was a close call on the merits, I anticipated that it would be controversial and hard to sustain politically, with the possibility of a left-right antiwar coalition forming against a pro-war center. It is now two years later. Has anything important changed since then?’
I remain pessimistic and unconvinced that any real developments have changed strategic realities. Our troops carry on.