Repost-Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy

D’Souza is a Christian, and while debating Daniel Dennett at Tufts University, he brings up Nietzsche’s argument that God is dead.   From the depths of Nietzsche’s thinking, D’Souza argues he was able to see the coming crisis in Europe; that Europeans could no longer base their lives upon defunct Christian metaphysics without radically and creatively developing new thinking from the ground up.  Nietzsche also supposed that few if any would heed his call and realize the depth of this crisis, and so would likely lumber into the tremendously violent conflicts of the 20th century.

D’Souza then charges Dennett with a similarly shallow approach; over-simplyfying the metaphysical depths of Christianity from the relatively stable position of present day scientific analysis (which, as D’Souza’s argument suggests, grew out of Christianity itself).

D’Souza is a Christian, as mentioned, and Dennett not.   Nietzsche would probably have not thought much about either a 20th century man still resting upon a belief in God…nor a 20th century man analyzing such a belief from an understanding of science (as a philosopher, Dennett, with a background in science).

You might have to come up with more than that to get to Dennett.

Good debate.  Argument starts at 5:30:

See Also:  A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom:  The Nietzsche Connection

How might Nietzsche figure in the discussion, at least with regard to Camille Paglia.  See the comments:  Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was Successful

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Joel Kotkin At New Geography: ‘The Unseen Class War That Could Decide The Presidential Election’

Full piece here.

Kotkin, a demographer, suggests a divide in the upcoming election between a ‘clerisy’ and a ‘yeomanry:’

‘Obama’s core middle-class support, and that of his party, comes from what might be best described as “the clerisy,” a 21st century version of France’s pre-revolution First Estate. This includes an ever-expanding class of minders — lawyers, teachers, university professors, the media and, most particularly, the relatively well paid legions of public sector workers — who inhabit Washington, academia, large non-profits and government centers across the country.’

Well, they’re rent-seekers, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with rent-seeking, but if your paycheck comes from institutions (public and/or private) that depend on the public dime, or you believe in the “common” good as defined by redistributive ideals for our institutions as you toil away in one, shielded from other economic realities, then you’re more likely to vote your interests/ideals.

‘The nature of their work also differentiates the clerisy from the yeomanry. The clerisy labors largely in offices and has no contact with actual production. Many yeomen, particularly in business services, depend on industry for their livelihoods either directly or indirectly. The clerisy’s stultifying, and often job-toxic regulations and “green” agenda may be one reason why people engaged in farming, fishing, forestry, transportation, manufacturing and construction overwhelmingly disapprove of the president’s policies, according to Gallup.’

Either way, Kotkin is likely very familiar with the ‘clerisy’ as he lives and works in California.  Is California a bellwether for the nation?  Are we slowly drifting secular and leftward as a nation, with larger pools of public sentiment for green/redistributive/’clerisy’-type policies? The takers vs. the makers?

Related On This Site:  Look out Omaha…people are coming your way?: …Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’Joel Kotkin At Forbes: ‘Is Perestroika Coming In California?’

Are these the enemies of the future?: Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’

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

Full interview here.

Totten interviews Benjamin Kerstein, who’s written Diary of an Anti-Chomskyite, which is bold in holding Chomsky to account for many of his ideas and public statements regarding his politics:

‘In the case of Chomsky, however, I think we have one of the most egregious cases. He didn’t just support an ideology, he essentially created it, or at least played a major—perhaps the decisive—role in doing so. And there isn’t just one case of lending his skills to justifying horrendous acts of political evil, there are many. And as I noted before, he has never owned up to any of them and as far as I can tell never will.’

It sounds quite incendiary.   Kerstein labels Chomsky a monster for such sins as Cambodia.

There’s also this:

‘Chomsky says at one point that there is a moral and ethical order that is hardwired into human beings. And Foucault basically asks him, why? How do you know this hardwired morality exists? And even if it exists, how can we know that it is, in fact, moral in the first place? We may feel it to be moral, but that doesn’t make it true.’


More here from the Times Literary Supplement.

Related On This Site:  Perhaps after Kant’s transcendental idealism, Chomsky really does believe that morality, like Chomsky’s innatist theory of language, is universal and furthermore hard-wired into the brain.  This could lead to a political philosophy of either universalism or nihilism, or at least his retreat into anarchism or anarcho-syndicalism away from such idealism.  There’s little to no room for the individual in such a vision.  Perhaps Chomsky has never seen life, liberty and property and the individual except from such a vantage point:  Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge

What about value pluralism…positive and negative liberty?: The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

A reader points out that I’ve put forth no real arguments…: The Politics Of Noam Chomsky-The Dangers Of Kantian Transcendental Idealism?

Martha Nussbaum criticizing Chomsky’s hubris in Martha Nussbaum In Dissent–Violence On The Left: Nandigram And The Communists Of West Bengal

Perhaps Chomsky and Strauss both flirted with Zionism, but they were very different thinkers:…From Peter Berkowitz At Harvard: ‘The Reason Of Revelation: The Jewish Thought Of Leo Strauss’From Darwinian Conservatism By Larry Arnhart: “Surfing Strauss’s Third Wave of Modernity”

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest’s Via Media: “The Rise Of Independent Kurdistan?”

Full piece here.

A good analysis.  It seems most Middle-East policy mostly comes down to placing bets, and regardless of the Iraqi Kurds’ strong American support, this bet would hold longer odds with very messy consequences.  The Iraqi Kurds were severely punished by Saddam after rising up during the first Gulf War, and some loyalty and some guilt for their plight likely motivated Bush during the second Iraq invasion.  Southeastern Turkey, Northeastern Syria and Western Iran also have higher Kurdish populations and until more recently, kept a tight lid on them.  Only Turkey is strong enough to do so tightly at the moment.


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 is worth your time):


In his new book Where The West EndsMichael 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:   So, it wasn’t an Arab Spring, but there has been an erosion of the old rituals and control of the public square….more individualization that has affected the man on the Street, according to an Olivier Roy: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest on Egypt: ‘Still More of the Same—and Something New’

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Via Youtube: August 24th, 2012 Curiosity Rover Report


They’ve moved the rover forward and back about 3 meters each way.  They’ve fired up the laser.  List of instruments here.  Some more Mars facts.

Addition: Neil Armstrong R.I.P.

Related On This Site:   Via The Mars Science Laboratory At NASA: ”Mount Sharp’ On Mars Links Geology’s Past And Future’Via Youtube: ‘The Challenges Of Getting To Mars: Selecting A Landing Site

NASA Via Youtube: ‘The Martians: Launching Curiosity To Mars’NASA Via Youtube: ‘Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity Rover) Mission AnimationRepost: Richard Feynman at NASA

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Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘The Obamacare Quaqmire’

Full piece here.

‘The situation is further complicated because the basic design of these plans is intended to create major cross-subsidies between user groups, which are enforced by the guaranteed issue and non-discrimination rules that apply to all health coverages on the exchanges. Those requirements mean that it is impossible for insurance companies to deny coverage to any applicant except on very narrow grounds that relate to oversubscription. One major threat to standard insurance coverage is that the insured has more information about his or her condition than the insurer. In traditional insurance law, the insurer was therefore entitled to require full disclosure about the relevant risk in order to price the coverage appropriately, or to decline it altogether.’

What is the end game if insurers can’t properly account for risk?

Related On This Site:    From The New England Journal Of Medicine Via CATO: ‘The Constitutionality of the Individual Mandate’From If-Then Knots: Health Care Is Not A Right…But Then Neither Is Property?… From The New Yorker: Atul Gawande On Health Care-”The Cost Conundrum”Sally Pipes At Forbes: ‘A Plan That Leads Health Care To Nowhere’Peter Suderman At The WSJ: ‘Obamacare And The Medicaid Mess’From AEI: ‘Study: ‘Obama Healthcare Reform Raising Costs, Forcing Workers Out Of Existing Plans’

From Sultan Knish: ‘The Mirage Of Moderate Islam’

Full piece here.

This is one of the least charitable views of the Middle-East, and Islam, that I’ve seen.  It casts a cold eye upon the Muslim World, identifying its darkest tendencies as central to Islam itself.

On it, the Middle-East is comprised mostly of a bunch of tribes (some nomadic) which are cobbled together upon a later version of Judeo-Christian metaphysics called Islam, for which the penalty of apostasy is death.  There is no State upon this vision (Westphalian or not), really only the Mosque, with the Caliphate being the end game.

As noted elsewhere, Islam does not really create a centralized political authority (like Rome).  Additionally, on this view, its spread by conquest (the sword) is highlighted, which its adherents are always seeking to advance:

‘Its moment of religious transcendence was not that of the law or the spirit, but the sight of tribal rivalries uniting under a single green banner. The banner of Islam.’

After the conquest, presumably, Islam goes deep with its transcendental claims, profound metaphysics and daily rituals.  It maintains authority by strict control of political, public, and social life, eventually planning for the next conquest to unite yet another tribe.  It does this through prayer, service and eventually action as each person is required to submit the will in faith to God.  In Islam, this is non-negotiable, and it’s also anathema to many in the post-Enlightenment West, accustomed as we are to separation of Church and State.

On Greenfield’s view, this is why ‘moderate’ Muslims cannot really be found by Western standards, because moderates aren’t really allowed by what he terms a ‘supremacist’ political/religious/moral philosophy that doesn’t create any space for them in the public square.

The analogy Greenfield uses is Gulags are to Communism what Al Qaeda is to Islam.


There are, of course (Greenfield stops at deeper divisions like racial or genetic categories) moderate people getting on with life the Muslim World:  Pragmatists, wise men and idiots, politicians and poets, young people flush with the dreams and hopes of youth and old people who don’t particularly care.

Yet, below the surface, lie the old tribal and family loyalties attached to ‘supremacist’ Islam.  This drives Muslims onward with or without the imported models of Western Statecraft, colonial boundaries, waves of technology and ideology such as Communism, Capitalism, Humanism, etc that the West has sent their way.  Such imports can be grafted onto the root, but the root remains.

This is why the West, according to our author, still insists in seeing the mirage of moderation projected upon the Middle East and Islamic societies through our foreign policy.  We’re looking for familiarity which may not be there:

‘The two primary paradigms through which Western political elites see Islam, are that of tyranny on the right, and that of the evils of Western foreign policy on the left. Bush employed the former when he defined the problem as being one of tyranny, rather than Islam. Having defined the problem in terms of a majority of “Good Muslims” oppressed by “Bad Tyrants”, Bush tried to liberate the former from the latter, only to discover that there was a good deal of overlap between the two. Under Obama, we have seen the left implement its own construct of Islam, as popular resistance movements against colonial oppression, who are reacting to the evils of American foreign policy.

How much room is there for diplomacy and effective policy on the back of this analysis?  On it, all Muslims are essentially supremacists, moral absolutists and many are tribal, semi-civilized nomads, never really worth trusting because the worst of them is the best of them.

Across any bargaining table would be someone from the Muslim world who sees you as either a potential convert or a body on the battlefield to global Muslim domination (or someone who eventually has to answer to a group of people who do).  This isn’t exactly a pragmatic state of mind for folks in the U.S to be in when dealing with what may be an adversary, or even someone for whom there may be some temporary shared interest worth defining.

I suspect this analysis (with its truths) comes from a position of Jewish nationalism, the high tensions in Israel with a hostile Muslim world surrounding it (the Hamas charter refuses the right of Israel to exist), increasing anti-semitism in Europe, and a more left of center American administration seemingly abandoning Israel as we commit to liberal internationalist doctrine.  This is what some Israelis are likely thinking.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Thanks to a reader for the link.

Related On This Site:  Samuel Huntington worked against modernization theory, and argued that a chasm between the West and Islam will be a primary source of post Cold-war conflict: Clash of Civilizations:  From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work

His student, Francis Fukuyama and once neo-conservative (likely before working with the locals against Russians in Afghanistan and sometime after we invaded Iraq) charted his own course in The End Of History.   From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington…he’s now taken that model of Hegelian statecraft home:  Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest-’The Two Europes’

So, it wasn’t an Arab Spring, but there has been an erosion of the old rituals and control of the public square….more individualization that has affected the man on the Street, according to an Olivier Roy: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’

Roger Scruton suggests Islam is incompatible with Western Freedom: From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

Ayan Hirsi Ali has her own agenda, and will use the political right in Europe to frame the debate (and she’s on a personal mission against Islam), but notice non-Muslims are not the ones threatening her with death: Tunku Varadarajan Reviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Nomad’ At The Daily BeastRepost-Ayan Hirsi Ali At The CSM: ‘Swiss Ban On Minarets Was A Vote For Tolerance And Inclusion’

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Repost-From The Information Philosopher: Another Take On Libertarianism

Full entry here.

“We must limit determinism …but not eliminate it as Libertarians mistakenly think necessary.”

Thanks to a reader for pointing this out:

“Most libertarians have been mind/body dualists who, following René Descartes, explained human freedom by a separate mind substance that somehow manages to act in the physical world. Some, especially Immanuel Kant, believed that our freedom only existed in a transcendental or noumenal world, leaving the physical world to be completely deterministic.

Exploring some intellectual foundations…examining other arguments…

See Also On This Site:  Kant is a major influence on libertarians, from Ayn Rand to Robert Nozick:  A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”…Link To An Ayn Rand Paper: The Objectivist Attack On Kant

From Reason’s Hit And Run: What Kind Of Libertarian Are You?

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Damon Root At Reason: ‘The Rise of the Libertarian Legal Movement’

Full post here.

Did the libertarians affect Bork’s thinking?:

‘SCOTUSBlog is currently hosting an online symposium devoted to this year’s 50th anniversary of the publication of Yale law professor Alexander Bickel’s influential book The Least Dangerous Branch: The Supreme Court at the Bar of Politics.’

Related On This Site:   Libertarians led the charge to combat Obamacare:  Charles Fried and Randy Barnett among others, testify as to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (Nearly 3 hrs, but likely worth your time.  You can skip to the parts you’d like)……Randy Barnett At Volokh: ‘My Answers to Questions Posed by Senators Durbin and Sessions’

Originalism vs the ‘living constitution?” George Will Via The Jewish World Review: ‘True Self-Government’A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

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From The Daily Mail: “Muslim Brotherhood Has ‘Started Crucifying Opponents Of New President’, Claims Website”

Full piece here.

The Daily Mail is picking up on reports out of Egypt.  Hopefully, it’s not that bad.

The Mubarak regime and then the SCAF after Mubarak’s fall were the only entities acting like a lid upon most Egyptians beneath the regime: a majority who live in grinding poverty, who were accustomed to deep bureaucratic corruption and oppression while forced to rely on that bureaucracy and regime for order, and who have little to no institutions otherwise.  The habits and institutions of rule by the people, which we in the West are generally familiar, are not there for many reasons.

The business and educated class had many foreign ties, and it’s safe to say that they were and are a smaller minority in Egypt. Many, too, had to get in good enough with Mubarak or the regime if they were high-profile enough to survive.  After Morsi won the election, it was a struggle between the remnants of the old regime and the SCAF, and Morsi’s Brotherhood-led coalition.

Now, it’s looking pretty grim if the reports are true.


From Nancy Okail’s guest post at Adam Garfinkle’s blog:

‘However, the more serious problem is that over the past 18 months the decrees issued by the SCAF, and later by Morsi, have not been founded on legal or constitutional grounds; rather, they indicate that the transitional path has been merely the continuation of haphazard, interest-based populist decisions. With the continued absence of rule of law and the gravity of the problems that Egyptians face, it is far from certain that things will remain calm. There are no guarantees that the civil divorce will remain civil’



Addition:  From Foreign Affairs:

‘It thus stands to reason that Morsi’s sacking of Egypt’s top national security and defense officials might in part represent a shift in Egyptian foreign policy away from the United States. Toward what country, however, remains unclear. There is no other power that could be Egypt’s patron, yet Cairo might not need one.’

This could make U.S. Foreign Policy much more difficult, and hopefully not as antagonistic as Iran after the Revolution.

Related On This Site:  From Al Jazeera English: ‘Morsi Wins Egypt’s Presidential Election’Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest on Egypt: ‘Still More of the Same—and Something New’…are we still on a liberalizing, Westernizing trajectory?, however slow the pace? Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’