William F. Buckley And Kenneth Minogue Discuss Ideology


I’m well aware that any schlub can post a Youtube video on a WordPress site, but given the progressive politics dominating political discourse, it’s timely, I assure you.

The discussion hinges on the idea of whether or not you and I are already free, and whether or not we somehow need liberating from something.  The world and society are full of injustices, and discontents, and inequalities.  Sure, we needed liberating from King George for various reasons during our revolution, but not in the radical, ideological, rationalist sense (addition: a reader points out John Locke’s right of revolution…duly noted).

Black folks in America certainly needed liberating, held under the laws and subject to extreme injustice.  But how?

In Marxist ideology, this liberating hinges on a form of revolutionary praxis, according to Minogue.  It operates as a closed system of ‘first principles’ which goes deep and purports to function as a science and claims to undercut the sciences, philosophy, capitalism and theology in order to liberate.  This is why it lives on, and on, and on.  Despite its failures it remains ultimately untestable, neither proved nor disproved, not being a form of knowledge we’ll know ever lines up with reality, or that can be falsifiable, a la Karl Popper.

In the video, liberation theology is briefly discussed as well, described by Buckley as a kind of ‘baptised Marxism.’  In it, we see a charged movement against the injustices of slavery moving towards ideas of liberation (think Rev. Wright’s church).   I’ll put up a quote from a few posts ago by Cornel West.:

‘Being a leftist is a calling, not a career; it’s a vocation not a profession. It means you are concerned about structural violence, you are concerned about exploitation at the work place, you are concerned about institutionalized contempt against gay brothers and lesbian sisters, hatred against peoples of color, and the subordination of women.’

Few things are sadder to me than relatively well-off, unknowing, white liberals, maybe even of the classical variety, finding sudden solidarity under the current progressive mainstream discussion, softly under the influence of the New Left alliance of the 60’s.

There are many hypocrisies visible in this approach, logical inconsistencies and costs to all of our economic and political freedoms.

Needless to say, it’s frustrating.

Also As Sent In:  Martin Luther King’s intellectual development came mainly through theology and seminary, social gospel (addressing social injustices), but also depended on various other sources, including Gandhi’s non-violent resistance (not acquiescence) to displace the force of the laws used against blacks for centuries.  He welcomed a broad definition of rights enacted into law to include black folks, and a vast involvement of Federal authority…that libertarians have trouble with philosophically:


Related On This Site:  Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’……Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”Race And Free Speech-From Volokh: ‘Philadelphia Mayor Suggests Magazine Article on Race Relations Isn’t Protected by the First Amendment’

One way out of multiculturalism and cultural relativism:

Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

They’ve got to keep up with the times:A Few Thoughts On NPR And Current Liberal Establishment Thinking Under Obama

 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’From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?…We’re already mixing art and politics, so…

Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘Thoughts On Woolwich’

Full piece here.

According to Dalrymple, it is South London that produced these men, desperate for something to believe in, seeking out group membership and meaning, moral certainty and a handbook for life.  The franchise of radical Islam will continue to provide answers in the minds of men moving in and out of a criminal subculture, not entirely without opportunity, but rootless, sometimes violent and aggressive.  While looking towards Islam, the Islamist agitators give structure to express some of what was already inside and part of the milieu in which they moved:

‘The hacking to death of Lee Rigby on a street in Woolwich tells us as much about the society that we have created, or allowed to develop, as it does about radical Islam preached by fat, middle-aged clerics.’

I can’t speak for the men, but clearly they had serious problems, and Dalrymple provides a little background on both.

There are other issues which the multicultural bien-pensant worldview simply hasn’t accounted for regarding Muslim immigration, including how to properly integrate Muslims into the British economy and civil society.  It ought to be made clear that there is a civil society with laws and rules governing it, and some pathway to join that civil society.

There has to be more than just signing arrivals up for benefits in a large Welfare State, piling them and their relatives into council houses and expecting job programs to do the trick.  You will breed the same pathologies as one finds in the homegrown wards of the State, but also manage to import native customs and sometimes barbaric native traditions, while keeping London neighborhoods, cultures, and religions toxically divided.  This creates a powder keg ready to blow, and the politicians ever more mealy-mouthed and full of half-empty promises and half-baked visions of civil society.

Of course, this is pretty much what many American progressives, Leftists, multiculturalists and non-classical liberals would do over here, but many Americans haven’t quite figured that out yet.

Here’s to hoping.  And here’s to letting the Woolwich killer speak for himself.  Violence begets violence.  Islamism and multiculturalism form an unholy marriage:


Related On This Site: A British neo-conservative type?:  Islamism, Immigration & Multiculturalism-Melanie Phillips Via Youtube

It’s the fierce critic of religion, new Atheist, and 68er Christopher Hitchens who has defended free speech most vigorously:  Repost-From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’

From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea…as a more entrenched radical British Left and Muslim immigration don’t mix too well: From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’… Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’

Free speech (used both well and unwell) meets offended Muslims: Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks HeadbuttedDuring Lecture’From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’

Najat Fawzy Alsaeid At The Center For Islamic Pluralism: ‘The War Of Ideologies In The Arab World’

More On Lars Hedegaard Via the NY Times: Is Europe Waking Up?


Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘What The New Atheists Don’t See’Theodore Dalrymple Still Attacking Multi-Culturalism In Britain…From The WSJ Weekend Journal-Theodore Dalrymple: “Man Vs. Mutt”

Repost-‘Steven Fuller In Project Syndicate: Who Needs The Humanities?’

Full article here.

“This enabled first him and then her to command authority regardless of birth, resulting in the forging of networks and even institutions whose benefits cut deeply across bloodlines.”

Yes, the humanities are vital to a democracy, or at least in creating common experience through a mastery of language, rhetoric, and expression.  This occurs by reading, writing and discussing novels, philosophical texts, poems and ocassionally, music.   It can be a great leveller and unifier.

“The university began with the humanities at its heart, but today it is playing catch-up with the natural sciences.”

Which university was that, exactly?  Even when functioning well, the humanities aim towards philosophy, and have vaguely modelled themselves after the sciences, at least in this country.  Most importantly they focus on the contribution of artists.  We read Walt Whitman for his poems.

Nevertheless, to paraphrase Keynes, every time we turn on the radio or television, read a newspaper, pick up a novel, or watch a movie, we are in the thrall of one or more dead humanists who set the terms of reference through which we see the world.”

Yes, but we are also in thrall to Maxwell’s equations and thories of electromagnetism that helped invent the radio and T.V.  And to be cruder, we rely on the printing press for the newspaper and novel…the camera for the movies.

I guess Fuller means most people could benefit from reading the great writers to understand what’s right in front of them and to broaden and deepen their thinking.  I agree, but would also like to point out that thinking doesn’t begin nor end there.

Are the humanities in crisis?


Here’s a quote from George Santayana:

The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the old man who will not laugh is a fool.

From The Detroit Free Press: ‘DIA’s Art Collection Could Face Sell-Off To Satisfy Detroit’s Creditors’

Full piece here.

The city’s finances are worse than realized, the corruption deeper, the rot more thorough, leaving many interests still unwilling to face bleak reality.  It’s been a long, slow decline, and it may come down to hawking the city’s art collection:

‘The DIA is unusual among major civic museums in that the city retains ownership of the building and collection while daily operations, including fund-raising, are overseen by a nonprofit institution.’

Many collectors who donated to the museum have put restrictions on their donations, so if it gets that far along there will be much confusion as to what can and can’t be sold, and where the proceeds would go.

Detroit’s industry is gone, and unlike New York City, which still has a diversified portfolio and a tax base to squeeze during tough times, Detroit has virtually nothing to fall back on.  It’s a ghost town:

“New York went into receivership, (and) nobody forced it to sell Central Park,” Nowling said. “We’re certainly going to make that argument that they’re jewels of the city that are just inherent to the city itself that we need to have. But people need to be prepared.’

Be prepared.

Detroit’s not too big to fail, the argument a delegation of mayors pleading to the Federal Government and the Ford Administration made for the Big Apple back in 1975:


Perhaps this is why Mayor Bloomberg got so angry recently when the taxi deal got blocked. The budget he’d prepared relied on similar gimmicks. Even NYC can probably only placate some voting blocs for so long with limited revenue.

***As for budget gimmicks on the national level, green schemes and union deal failures have been swept quietly under the rug.  Our deficits are getting scary.  Unemployment remains high.  Our politics remains deeply partisan, and by many appearances, nearly dysfunctional at the moment.

Addition: As a reader points out, the NY metro area is growing.  Yes it’s growing, but its politics is badly in need of updating, and like other major American cities, has its share of patronage, rot, and cronyism.  It is a world city as well.

Hipster hope, artists, collectivists and small business types can’t save it either:  A Short Culture Wars Essay-Two Links On Detroit & ‘Ruin Porn’

What about the popular arts and culture?:Update And Repost-From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’…A Few Thoughts And A Tuesday Poem By Philip Levine

GM is not a municipality, but good money got put in, probably after bad and it reeks of politics: From The Detroit News: ‘How The Treasury, GM Stock Deal Got Done’

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.

Via Youtube: Ric Burns—New York: A Documentary Film – Episode One: The Country and The City (1609-1825)

A museum industrial complex…more complexes…who are the people museums should be serving? James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’

From James Lileks: ‘The Gobbler’

Click here to experience ‘The Gobbler.

‘If you’re ever wondering what the War Room of “Dr. Strangelove” would look like if the movie had been directed by Prince, here you go.’

After taking the photo tour, I remain convinced that ‘The Gobbler’ exists in its own realm of awesome badness.  Such a shag-covered, abandoned love-child of the late 60’s and early 70’s is challenging just what I thought I knew about American culture.

And while I can lounge in the bathos of this Wisconsin motor court/supper club’s global ambitions, and walk through the valley of the shadow of its modernist, U.N. international style, I still can’t fathom the intentions of its authors.

Why, Gobbler, why?

Want to lose an afternoon?  Visit Lileks.com.  A fine humorist with a sharp pen and a keen eye.  This is what the internet is for.

Additionally:  Donald Pittenger, at Art Contrarian, and formerly of 2 Blowhards, has been looking at modernism.  From the banner of his blog:

‘The point-of-view is that modernism in art is an idea that has, after a century or more, been thoroughly tested and found wanting. Not to say that it should be abolished — just put in its proper, diminished place’

Here’s Australian art critic Robert Hughes discussing the Albany plaza, and almost hyperbolically criticizing the aims of modernist architecture.

***Fun fact, he pronounces the “Boogie Woogie”  the “Boo-gie Woo-gie.”  


Related On This Site: They designed a city in the heart of Brazil that really doesn’t work for people: Brasilia: A Planned City

No thanks to living in planned communities upon someone else’s overall vision?: Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?Repost-Via Reason: ‘Salvador Allende’s Cybersocialist Command Center’……From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

A structure in the desert…not even a city Update On LACMA, Michael Heizer And The ‘Levitated Mass’-Modern Art And The Public;..where is modernism headed? Via Youtube: Justin, The Horse That Could Paint

Denis Dutton suggested art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth…the money and the fame) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

James Taranto At The WSJ: ‘See You In The Funny Papers’

Full piece here.

Taranto details his formative journalistic experience as a college newspaper editor, which eventually blossomed into an ACLU legal battle over the 1st amendment.  The culprit:  A comic strip published at the UCLA college newspaper (where Taranto didn’t attend, and wasn’t involved in publishing, but became involved with nonetheless).

In that strip, a chicken admitted to having been admitted to UCLA due to affirmative action.  The offending chicken roused a few hurt feelings, but also the cries of victimhood and the need for retribution.  Shut up, they explained.

This was back in 1989:

‘Our suspension from the Sundial was a disillusioning experience. If you’d asked us before it happened to characterize our political views, we’d have said libertarian. We were on the side of the “left,” we thought, when it came to questions of personal freedom, especially freedom of expression. It turned out the left wasn’t necessarily on our side. Liberals could be shockingly illiberal’

It’s been the operating theory of this blog that Leftism, progressivism, and the secular ‘-isms’ that generally spring from a Left-of-Center political philosophy (multiculturalism, feminism, environmentalism), now firmly part of public opinion and much of mainstream American culture, have not hammered out core philosophical issues surrounding relationships between the individual and collective.  There are always new victims to round-up, and new injustices to be found and exploited for political and ideological gain.  This ought to make all clear thinking individuals take pause.

The roots of what is fast becoming modern liberalism can be quite illiberal.

Of course, Taranto’s adventure happened in Southern California, where there is much more sentiment for this kind of thinking (it’s produced Ronald Reagan, Andrew Breitbart, and Reason Magazine in opposition).  But as Taranto argues, it’s been more widespread in our culture:

‘That, it seems to us, is the central story of our time. The left-liberal elite that attained cultural dominance between the 1960s and the 1980s–and that since 2008 has seen itself as being on the cusp of political dominance as well–is undergoing a crisis of authority, and its defenses are increasingly ferocious and unprincipled’

It’s an important story of our time, no doubt.  In my experience, even many old school liberals deep down tend to think people aren’t much good, and are in need of constant supervision. Many tend to promote, or go along with, expanded definitions of the public good, and public institutions, and ever more programs to supervise and make more ‘equal,’ more ‘just,’ and more ‘fair.’  Eventually, they wall themselves off.

On a related note, I don’t know if it’s a law of nature (if it is, I’ve also seen it in every office I’ve been in, but those offices have to answer to the market).  Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy:

‘Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people”:

 First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization’

Is our culture becoming like California’s culture?

Our government has grown steadily for decades, yet it functions more poorly and is divided as ever.  Do people fight more over the less there is?:

Repost-Francis Fukuyama And Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘None Of The Above’

Also On This Site:  They’re coming…no wait…they’re already here: From FIRE.org-’Federal Government Mandates Unconstitutional Speech Codes At Colleges And Universities Nationwide’

Related On This Site:  Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.

The Chicago School rolls up its sleeves: Repost-’Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’Repost-From Fora Via YouTube: ‘Thomas Sowell and a Conflict of Visions’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas: ‘California’s Kafkaesque Rent Control Laws’

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty” …Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

Using J.S. Mill, moving away from religion?: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’…Repost: Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder

A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”

Eli Lake At The Daily Beast-‘Exclusive: CIA Honored Benghazi Chief In Secret Ceremony’

Full piece here.

‘The honor given behind closed doors to “Bob,” the officer who was in charge of the Benghazi intelligence annex and CIA base that was attacked in the early morning of September 12, 2012 and then abandoned for nearly three weeks, illustrates the murky lines of command that preceded the attack, and helped make it a politically volatile issue. While the State Department was responsible for elements of the security for the diplomatic mission at Benghazi, the mission itself was used primarily for intelligence activities and most the U.S. officials there and at the nearby annex were CIA officers who used State Department cover.’

The State Department and the CIA are going at one another under such political pressure.  I can remember thinking that we seemed to be embarking on a rather different course for Middle East policy under Obama, and I’ve yet to be persuaded his worldview is accurate enough (I tend to disagree with his ideals), and his leadership deep and competent enough to deliver.

Walter Russell Mead’s take on Benghazi:

‘A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that more than half of Americans believe the Obama administration is covering up over Benghazi, and that a narrow plurality also thinks the congressional GOP is in on the whole fiasco for political gain. That seems about right to us.’

I still think the primary motivating factor for getting to the bottom of Benghazi is why we didn’t at least make all attempts possible to help, as nothing is worse for troop morale.  The administration particularly needs to be seen as succeeding in Libya, and is particularly sensitive to any criticism that it isn’t.

The liberal internationalist, former human rights campaign folks guided by realpolitik, and yes, Bernhard Henri-Levy’s input in the face of Gadhafi’s tyranny were motivating factors in our involvement.

Here’s a quote from Anne-Marie Slaughter, on liberal internationalism:

‘The central liberal internationalist premise is the value of a rules-based international order that restrains powerful states and thereby reassures their enemies and allies alike and allows weaker states to have sufficient voice in the system that they will not choose to exit’

We also formed an alliance with Anglo-French interests.  Our Middle-East policy is hinged upon a worldview that doesn’t seem to be lining up that well with events on the ground in the Muslim world, and I fear sacrifices too many of our strengths for too few gains, exposing too many of our weaknesses.

In addition, our military is stretched pretty thinly right now and the Republican establishment isn’t showing deep understanding of the issues either.  The Muslim world is not about to live up to our ideals, and this is as much about living up to our own.  To me, this generally means our sovereignty and interests first, solid alliances and international institutions next, and we’ll take it from there.

As always, it’s up for debate.

Related On This SiteEli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘U.S. Officials Knew Libya Attacks Were Work of Al Qaeda Affiliates’ From The BBC Via Michael Totten: ‘Libya: Islamist Militia Bases Stormed In Benghazi’

Via Reuters: ‘U.S. Ambassador To Libya Killed In Benghazi Attack’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanFrom The New Yorker: ‘How Qaddafi Lost Libya’

Just how far Left is this administration anyways? Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘How To Become A Dictator’

Full piece here.

Totten touches on libertarianism, anarchy, federalism, the idea of federal states, Lebanon, Syria under both Assads, and more:

“If you decide you want to leave journalism,” Nadim Shehadi said to me over coffee at a café on Beirut’s old waterfront, “if you feel like you’ve been there and done that and would like to become a dictator, you should hire me as an advisor. I’m expensive, but I’m worth it.”


“If Syria is to become like Lebanon, though,” I said, “it will have to be like Lebanon without its militias.”

“Lebanon,” he said, “will be a very different place without the Assad regime next to it.”

Totten’s book: Where The West Ends. I donated to Totten to allow him to keep up his travels.

It’s likely you won’t agree with all of Samuel Huntington’s ideas, but he maintained a deeply learned understanding of the animating ideas behind Western/American political organization with keen observation of what was happening on the ground in foreign countries.  Here’s a brief summation from Robert Kaplan’s article:

“• The fact that the world is modernizing does not mean that it is Westernizing. The impact of urbanization and mass communications, coupled with poverty and ethnic divisions, will not lead to peoples’ everywhere thinking as we do.

• Asia, despite its ups and downs, is expanding militarily and economically. Islam is exploding demographically. The West may be declining in relative influence.

• Culture-consciousness is getting stronger, not weaker, and states or peoples may band together because of cultural similarities rather than because of ideological ones, as in the past.

• The Western belief that parliamentary democracy and free markets are suitable for everyone will bring the West into conflict with civilizations—notably, Islam and the Chinese—that think differently.

• In a multi-polar world based loosely on civilizations rather than on ideologies, Americans must reaffirm their Western identity.”

I also tend to think that Francis Fukuyama’s End of History and Hegelianism, at least, was a return to the kind of expansive idealism that leads towards bigger federal states, and fuses cultural and national identity, pumping up bureaucracies and the federal state towards unreachable secular ideals.

Related On This Site: What about a night watchman state, and isn’t libertarianism partially an introduction of Enlightenment rationalism moving  individuals towards forms of anarchy and away from religious doctrines, traditions, customs and conservative ideas?: Repost-Youtube Via Libertarianism.Org-David Friedman: ‘The Machinery Of Freedom’

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’