Iron & Ideology-Bad Ideas Are Still With Us; Ruins Still Around Us

Theodore Dalrymple revisits the totalitarian wonderland created under Enver Hoxha:

‘The word unforgettable is overused, no doubt, but Albania in those days really was unforgettable. The tops of the posts in the vineyards were provided with metal spikes to impale invading parachutists, there was one concrete gun emplacement for every four inhabitants of the country, and by night searchlights scoured the coast for traitors trying to flee from their compulsory happiness. The official policy of the country was paranoia; it was its religion, in fact, all other forms of religion having been abolished.’

On that note: Check out the ‘Socialist Cybernetics‘ of Salvador Allende.

In working towards a theme, check out Buzludzha, the abandoned Communist monument in Bulgaria’s Balkan mountains, which still draws up to 50,000 Bulgarian Socialists for a yearly pilgrimage.  Human Planet’s Timothy Allen visited the structure in the snow and took some haunting photos.  You will think you’ve stepped into a Bond film and one of Blofeld’s modernist lairs, but with somewhat Eastern Orthodox tile frescos of Lenin and Marx gazing out at you, abandoned to time, the elements and to nature.


North Korea has been frozen in time since 1948, when the first Kim was installed by the Soviets.  Since the Korean War, it’s grown into a cult of personality, headed by the divinely inspired, thoroughly repressive Kim dynasty and in its wake, a totalitarian State.  It is bizarro world, but still has a large military, with missiles pointed at Seoul, and virtually little else.  Like a sick dog on a rusty chain, it growls when it needs food.

Take a trip to the Hermit Kingdom:

Moving along:

An anecdote from Havana:

‘He told me about what happened at his sister’s elementary school a few years after Castro took over.

“Do you want ice cream and dulces (sweets),” his sister’s teacher, a staunch Fidelista, asked the class.

“Yes!” the kids said.

“Okay, then,” she said. “Put your hands together, bow your heads, and pray to God that he brings you ice cream and dulces.”

Nothing happened, of course. God did not did not provide the children with ice cream or dulces.

 “Now,” the teacher said. “Put your hands together and pray to Fidel that the Revolution gives you ice cream and sweets.”

The kids closed their eyes and bowed their heads. They prayed to Fidel Castro. And when the kids raised their heads and opened their eyes, ice cream and dulces had miraculously appeared on the teacher’s desk’


Briton Roger Scruton gave a talk in Budapest, Hungary, a country currently under politically right leadership, out from under tradition and institution-destroying Communist bureaucracy, in the news these days for refusing many Middle-Eastern refugees.

I recommend the video, as Scruton spent many years behind the Iron Curtain, working with folks to help chart a course out of Communist rule.

Moral Relativism is actually quite hard to define:

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A quote that stuck out:

‘There’s an attempt to produce a universal, objective morality, but without any conception of where it comes from.’

Where does the moral legitimacy come from to decide what a ‘human right’ is?  A majority of ‘right-thinking’ people?  A political majority? Some transcendent source?

As this blog has often noted, such secular idealism can lead to an ever-expanding list of human-rights, demands, and obligations; these in turn leading to rather sclerotic, over-promising, under-delivering, deeply indebted European states and poorly functional international institutions.  It can also produce a kind of liberal bien-pensant worldview, which can catch a radical cold every now and again, but which generally supports political leaders claiming such ideals and causes.  Oh yes, most folks nowadays believe we’re progressing, but where was that we were progressing to, exactly?  How do you know this to be true?

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”

Classical Liberalism Via Friesian.Com-’Exchange with Tomaz Castello Branco on John Gray’

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

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