From Via Media: ‘A Light Fails In Egypt’

Full post here.

A piece well-worth reading.  We have a big stake in a stable Egypt, given the instability of the region, and Egypt’s ‘liberal’ class of educated folks is thinner on the ground, and not capable of supporting the broader kind of representative government we’d like to see.  There’s not enough wealth, education, opportunity and economic and institutional strength in Egypt to support it.

That was the dream. Morsi’s biggest problem never was, and still is not today, the twittering liberals of early Tahrir; western oriented secular liberalism has a long way to go before it can become a significant ideological force among the masses in Egypt. His greatest ideological opponents are cynicism and despair and he is in such deep trouble today because the collapsing economy and the general paralysis make him look like another snake oil salesmen selling a fake route to progress. What if Islamism like Nasser’s nationalism is a failure in Egypt? What then? What next?

The Islamist party hasn’t been capable of addressing these deep-rooted problems, nor leading very competently at all.

Millions of people are out in the streets.

Related On This SiteNancy Okail At Freedom House: “‘Muslim Rage’ and the Politics of Distraction in Egypt’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?’

Sunday Photo And A Poem By Gary Snyder

Where:  Birkenhead Lake, B.C. Canada.

No, I can’t take photos like this, but people in the family can.

310D-Birkenhead with Boat -2 copy
This is the poem that came to mind, even though Gary Snyder wrote from here instead, where apparently he would be for 60 days at a time:

Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout

Down valley a smoke haze
Three days heat, after five days rain
Pitch glows on the fir-cones
Across rocks and meadows
Swarms of new flies.

I cannot remember things I once read
A few friends, but they are in cities.
Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup
Looking down for miles
Through high still air.

Gary Snyder

A Few Thoughts On Same Sex Marriage-Ross Douthat At The NY Times: “Religious Liberty And The Gay Marriage Endgame’

Full post here.

Religious conservatives had better be nice, or at least start planning ahead, advises Douthat:

‘If religious conservatives are, in effect, negotiating the terms of their surrender, it’s at least possible that those negotiations would go better if they were conducted right now, in the wake of a Roe v. Wade-style Supreme Court ruling, rather than in a future where the bloc of Americans opposed to gay marriage has shrunk from the current 44 percent to 30 percent or 25 percent, and the incentives for liberals to be magnanimous in victory have shrunk apace as well.’

One way to look at this:  There’s been a long, steady decline of religion’s influence in the public square, and more broadly throughout American culture.  The gay marriage argument was lost some time ago in the public mind, for various reasons and the not-good-enough reasons made against it.

I believe it’s important to look at the concomitant rise in Civil Rights activism since the 60’s, often enacted into law, driving more freedom for ever more groups of people and individuals along the way.  Because individual liberty is vital to our Constitutional project, and central to American thinking, Americans tend to be swayed when they look at lack of liberty for others as an issue of individual liberty for themselves.

Some of these Civil Rights and freedom movements, as I see them, are inextricably linked with ideological Leftism.  These are the rights-based, identity-group, victimhood brands of activism which can scoop up the  individual into a net, set him on the stove, and cook him for dinner.

There is the liberation theology of Rev Wright’s church.  There is the progressive agenda which seeks socialized control of public goods and shrinks private wealth, eroding political freedoms. There is anti-humanist environmentalism.  There is ideological feminism carting its decades of bad statistics, purity tests and political-power seeking along with it.

Gays and lesbians tend to do best when they put the matter in terms of individual liberty.  They’re your children, friends and neighbors, after all.  They’re individuals and people.

As a movement, though, I suspect many are quite happy to attach themselves to the Civil Rights train and its ideological discontents.  I also suspect many gays and lesbians are happy to continue the move away from social and religious conservatism, and many traditions and customs woven into our institutions which have stood us well.

I can’t help but have sympathy with gays and lesbians, and don’t begrudge them their freedom (I’m American after all), especially those free-thinkers and defenders of liberty despite the opprobrium they’ve received.

Despite this, I know many of the forces driving change in our society continue to follow the logic inherent in some of the reasons behind those changes,  serving some interests and not all, encouraging us to overlook basics regarding human nature and political power.

Onward we go.

Addition:  Daniel McCarthy at the American Conservative The Supreme Court’s Gay-Marriage Gradualism.

Related On This Site:  The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?  Yes, Edmund Burke opposed the French revolution Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

Repost-’Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’..From Fora Via YouTube: ‘Thomas Sowell and a Conflict of Visions’

Charles Murray is trying to get virtue back with the social sciences: Charles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People

Peter Berkowitz At The Hoover Institution: ‘Tom Wolfe’s Miami’

Full review here.

What are you looking for in a novel:  Ideas and the deployment of ideas?  A reflection of your life/times/society? Good prose?  Characters that pop into your life?  Glimpses of the author? Pleasure?

‘The deeper divisions, as Wolfe’s novel compellingly presents them, are between those who believe that happiness consists in one form of pleasure or another — including the aesthetic pleasure of sensitively glimpsing one’s own sensitivities and the sensitivities of others — and those who, like Tom Wolfe and his heroes, believe that happiness consists in the exercise of courage, self-control, and the other qualities of mind and character that constitute human excellence.’

A New Yorker review here.

See Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic: That Party At Lenny’s for a rich account of the 60′s.  I remember reading ‘A Man In Full‘ a while back, and having mixed feelings.

Here’s a quote from Italo Calvino:

“Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.”

With Marco Rubio in the news, and all this politics surrounding immigration, change, and culture, I think Gloria Estefan is a window into Cuban culture, music, honor, immigration as it mixes with American culture.

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What about Miami politics?

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

Full post here.

The two have a back and forth on how they see current American politics.  Here’s Fukuyama:

‘A lot of the increasing homogeneity of the parties and the fact that they overlap very little is that there are very few House districts that are competitive anymore. That’s not an accident.’

A Reason video on gerrymandering.  Do we really want politicians incentivized to redraw their own districts, and thus stifle intra-party debate?

If not, who decides how we keep up with moving populations?:

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From Via Media:  Texas Vs. California 6-0, 6-0, 6-0.  Maybe one last dance with Moonbeam wasn’t the best way forward, but then again, maybe no one can stop the union and green alliance with the incentives of California politics.

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.  Technology is changing things rapidly, and maybe, as Charles Murray points out, it’s skewing the field toward high IQ positions while simultaneously getting rid of industrial, managerial, clerical, labor intensive office jobs.  Even so,  we can’t cling to the past.  This is quite a progressive vision but one that embraces change boldly.

Francis Fukuyama has started a center for Public Administration at Stanford…it’d be interesting to imagine a conversation between Eric Hoffer and Fukuyama: Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest: ‘Mexico And The Drug Wars’…Has Fukuyama turned away from Hegel and toward Darwin?

Update And Repost-Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’

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

What About Foreign Policy (R)ealism?-From The Center For Islamic Pluralism: ‘Turkey Rises Against Islamist Rule’

Full piece here.

‘The world needs to open its eyes and perceive the danger of Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan for regional stability and pluralism. Erdoǧan has overreached; a new Turkish revolution may have begun. On Tuesday, the Confederation of Public Workers’ Unions, known from its Turkish name as KESK, called for a two-day strike against Erdoǧan’s “fascism.” The people of Turkey have promised to resist Erdoǧan’s authoritarian ambitions until victory is achieved.’

Many Westerners are looking at the situation in Turkey and seeing shared ideals of freedom for individual rights against authority and tyranny.  Erdogan is ‘the man’, and he’s keeping his people down, away from the voluntary associations (real Leftists are  authoritarian themselves) and freedoms of choice that could allow civil society to flourish under the rule of law.  Individual freedom is what Taksim Square’s about and Erdogan is finally getting push-back for taking Ataturk’s secular authoritarianism and simply continuing with his own brand of Islamic authoritarianism.

Even Fareed Zakaria sees it as an Arab World struggle between democracy (the act of people voting and participating) and small ‘l’ liberalism (the development of individual rights and the rule of law we’re more familiar with in the West).  Turkey’s growing up as a Western State, and even though the process is messy, it’s one we should welcome:

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The libertarian view of voluntary associations, at least, is a view I’m more inclined to share for civil society here at home, especially in response to progressive and 60’s idealist/civil rights social programs and Statist plans for the rest of us.  If it isn’t the New Deal, it’s the Great Society, or Obamacare.  Heck, I’d definitely take small ‘l’ liberalism and civil libertarianism over Leftism any day.

Abroad though, while I recognize the value of solidarity for those in Taksim square, just as I do for Iran’s Green revolution, I have some doubts as to how well (l)iberalism actually travels.  Prospects are looking pretty grim after the Arab Spring, and Turkey would seem an exception in the Arab world.

Here’s a quote by Jeanne Kirkpatrick, offering advice for Jimmy Carter a while back:

In his essay Representative Government, Jon Stuart Mill identified three fundamental conditions which the Carter administration would do well to ponder.  These are: “One, that the people should be willing to receive it [representative government]; two, that they should be willing and able to do what is necessary for its preservation; three, that they should be willing and able to fulfill the duties and discharge the functions which it imposes on them.”

-From Dictatorship And Double Standards.

This is also worth keeping in mind after the Arab Spring.

It might be useful to think about a realist response to the current administration’s very idealistic liberal internationalism (tempered by realpolitik, yes, but further Left than Clinton Hawkishness, for sure).

Here’s a quote from ‘Observing Japan,’ drawing a distinction between big ‘R’ and small ‘r’ realists:

‘I would argue that the two former secretaries of States are, in fact, capital-R Realists {James Baker and Lawrence Eagleburger}. To them, all foreign policy is essentially reactive, grounded in iron laws shaped by Westphalian era of international relations. States may differ in relative power capabilities, but all seek to use whatever capabilities they have to secure their interests in the midst of perpetual competition among states. Ideals — the world as it ought to be — have little place in this vision of international affairs.’

Jeanne Kirkpatrick, on the other hand,  would be defined as a small ‘r’ realist according to our author (keep in mind that neo-conservatives tend to be liberals ‘mugged by reality,’ or people who once shared the ideals, but now have doubts):

‘Accordingly, the view of foreign policy outlined by Jeane Kirkpatrick in her 1979 essay in Commentary, “Dictatorships and Double Standards,” was largely consistent with the domestic policy views of thinkers like Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Irving Kristol, James Q. Wilson, and Nathan Glazer. Policymaking in pursuit of ideals isn’t the problem; failing to temper ideals with a sober assessment of reality is.’

Those men all were reacting domestically to progressivism and liberalism, LBJ’s ‘Great Society‘ programs and other progressive projects, and maybe Kirkpatrick spoke their language a bit better than the (R)ealists like James Baker.

There aren’t old hands like James Baker hanging around the Republican party nowadays.

Who can we do business with in the Middle-East after the ‘Arab Spring’?  Where are our potential allies and alliances, and how (R)eal should we keep it?

Related On This Site:  Repost: From Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

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

Samuel Huntington worked against modernization theory, always going against the grain, 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: Update And Repost-Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’

Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest: ‘James Q. Wilson, 1931-2012′

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?’

Repost-Roger Sandall At The American Interest: ‘Tribal Realism’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism