They tended to be smart, educated sorts away from home. Ambitious men with deep grievances and wounded pride. Men seeking purity and strength of purpose, as well as a lost kingdom.
Like many Muslim men relative to those in the West, they’d spent most of their lives segregated from women, with many fewer opportunities to have their educations match a deeper sense of purpose and vocation. These were men, who in that rush of youth, perhaps saw little purpose in merely dedicating their lives to family, work and being connected to others through the kind of civil society and associations we have here in the West.
Of course, some men are pretty sadistic to begin with, but certainly not all.
There was righteous glory to be had, and bloody battles to be fought in driving the infidel from the Arabian peninsula, and eventually Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In fact, most of these men were often exposed to political oppression and brutality within the kinds of States common throughout the Muslim world these days.
As for the new recruits: Some of them had a bomb strapped to them same day. Not much room for franchise growth…in this life!
‘As I have noted before, there is only one type of reform that can make progress in meeting the three goals of a sensible health care system: cost reduction, quality improvements, and public access. That reform requires massive deregulation of the many market impediments that are already in place. Lower the costs, drop the excessive mandates, and thin out administrative costs, and people will flock back to the system voluntarily’
Avik Roy summed his thoughts up nicely:
‘Any serious health reform program—left, right, or center—would involve some disruption of our existing health-coverage arrangements. What makes Obamacare such a deeply flawed piece of work is not that it disrupts our existing arrangements, but that it disrupts those arrangements by forcing people to buy costlier coverage.’
The force is exactly the problem for folks concerned about the politicization of money, the expansion of authoritarian bureaucracy driven by activists into ever more corners of American lives.
You know, something that works.
What comes next isn’t exactly clear…
As for my own conspiratorial suspicions, I expect an influential cohort, if not an editorial majority of the NY Times to soon resemble that of Britain’s ‘Guardian‘ (that’s Vanguardian to you, you neoliberal bourgeois sell-out).
It’s time to build a people’s movement to end unemployment and poverty; avert climate catastrophe; build a sustainable, just economy; and recognize the dignity and human rights of every person. The power to create this new world is not in our hopes; it’s not in our dreams — it’s in our hands.
A train-wreck on the air with a lot of coughing. If some Britons aren’t engaged in the magical and doomsday cult thinking of back to nature utopianism, they’re apparently channeling that magical thinking into the Green Party political platform of free houses and money-tree utopianism. Good to know.
I don’t think the fight is over yet, but a society of greater freedom and responsibility is gradually being replaced by one of less freedom, along with a greater denial of a woman’s responsibility to properly handle herself in a world which isn’t necessarily safe.
Of course, the world and our society cannot ultimately be made safe for any single one of us, man or woman. Reasonable people understand the necessity of mitigating the risk of violence through civilizing behaviors and the promotion of common moral decency, often through the law, while also understanding such risk can never be fully mitigated.
There are bad people out there, and there are people who can and will act very badly when given the chance, and we, through our own actions, and through the the law, must sometimes step-in to deal with them.
Such unpleasant facts also instruct us to reaffirm the obvious natural differences between the sexes: Most men possess greater physical strength and a more immediate desire for sexual release than most women, as well as the greater capacity for physical violence.
In light of the above, a very vocal minority of activists tend to regard all people, men and women alike, as requiring of their ideology enshrined into law and policy.
The above statements are generally deeply unpleasant and epistemologically challenging to activist ideology and identity, for in the zeal for equality, many activists often gloss over such differences differences between the sexes, lest such admission puts them their beliefs and political platform into a compromising position.
Activists often deploy rhetoric and questionable statistics to insert themselves into all of our bedrooms, intimate lives, and personal choices through the law. They can take genuine victims within their embrace just as easily as liars and damaged people making false claims.
The rest of us are left to sort-out the truth.
They’ve started where have they have the most traction: In universities, where people who have only ideology often congregate, gaining influence and power, which are simulacra of the wider world, and among the safest places there are.
As we’ve seen with so many activist causes: Facts, the law, and cool-headed regard for changing our institutions with good reasons easily takes a backseat to the incitement of the passions, rabble-rousing, and the creation of new classes of victims that can be leveraged to maximum political effect.
Upon inspection, deeply baked within much activism is the belief that violence can eventually be justified for larger, abstract political goals; that one’s enemies are perhaps even evil, rather than merely wrongheaded.
As previously posted: This blog continues to support civil libertarian feminists, often ex-feminists, or even continuing feminists who criticize feminist ideology in good or bad faith because they are free to do so. They are free to bring-up the often shoddy use of statistics by many feminists, the cultural Marxism and troubling tendencies of victimhood/oppressor theories, the controlling impulses on display in the video below.
Via David Thompson, from Canada via the Agenda with Steve Paikin, notice how two panelists just can’t bring themselves around to the idea of other people speaking their minds, thinking differently and critically, and pursuing ideas freely in an open debate.
They really don’t seem to see a problem with where the logic of their own ideology leads: To silence and shout-down opposing points of view, to constantly try and control the speech and thoughts of others.
Michael Moynihan on British historian’s Eric Hobsbawm more recent estimation amongst many chatterati.
Let’s not forget:
‘In a now infamous 1994 interview with journalist Michael Ignatieff, the historian was asked if the murder of “15, 20 million people might have been justified” in establishing a Marxist paradise. “Yes,” Mr. Hobsbawm replied.’
“How to Change the World” shows us little more than how an intellectual has committed his life not to exploring and stress-testing an ideology but to stubbornly defending it. The brand of Marxism that Eric Hobsbawm champions is indeed a way to “change the world.” It already did. And it was a catastrophe.’
‘A bright new future dawns for Orchard Beach with Mayor de Blasio’s promise to commit money to upgrading the great Bronx Riviera.’
The People shall one day control the means of recreation:
‘Now, de Blasio, who has committed to spending park money fairly in rich and poor neighborhoods, has the chance to right the scales of recreational justice, in the process improving life for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers as a major part of his legacy.’
(Addition): Apparently, this is how you rope the People’s Revolutionary Representative into money for your pet project when he’s out for a photo-op (end).
Let’s hope this isn’t a Red Dawn, dear reader, where we find ourselves somewhere beyond the dunes and dressing rooms of the once great Bronx Riviera; filthy, exhausted, huddled around a beach campfire, gathering the shards of recent history that have led us to our fates.
‘What if history is nothing but an abandoned Orchard Beach bathhouse full of spiders?’…mutters Powers Boothe, clenching his teeth, pouring his hooch onto the fire.
It rages up into the starless night.
C. Thomas Howell muffles a sob.
As previously posted, some light humor:
Michael Moynihan reviewed Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’ which praised the Cuban Health Care System.
Christopher Hitchens took a helicopter ride with Sean Penn, and that tracksuit-wearing strongman of the people, Hugo Chavez-Hugo Boss.
Yes, these ideas are responsible for the deaths of thousands, right now, in real time. To say nothing of a few lost generations of human potential, hopes, dreams and basic securities.
It’s a long way out of socialist and revolutionary solidarity, which continually occupies the South American mind. One more revolution: Adam Kirsch takes a look at Mario Vargas Llosa. The Dream Of The Peruvian.
Mentioned: Natural Law Theory (Greeks and Romans…Aquinas) Utilitarianism, Mill’s Harm Principle, Kant’s potential relation to Natural Law Theory and his deontologism)….
Where I very much agree: George’s acknowledgment that there may be no fundamental way to determine, in the aggregate, the utilitarian maxim.
***As to politics and man, and political philosophy, the people most convinced of their reasons and their ownmoral and ideological lights, often seem the ones most attracted to power and influence.
Make a chair, a seat of scope and influence, and all the wrong sorts seem to gather around eventually, quite certain they should be the ones sitting down. The decent, and what’s decent in people can easily become subjects.
Addition: Has George made the case for natural law…that morality is somehow a law…and connected to nature and that which is beyond us?
‘Insurers cannot simply go on eating those losses forever. They certainly won’t do so for free. Unless the exchanges get a rapid infusion of healthier customers who pay substantial premiums without using much care, insurers are going to keep pulling out of the areas where they are losing money. Or at the very least, they will demand benefits from the government to make it worth their while to stay.’
‘One ray of sunshine might be an involuntary heightening of the contradictions: The structure of the Affordable Care Act, by removing health care decisions even further from consumers, all but ensures that costs will escalate even faster. At some point, most employers in America will only be able to afford catastrophic health insurance for their employees. If and when that irony busts onto the scene, perhaps real consumer dynamics will emerge, and perhaps America will stumble backward into a Singapore-style system.’
Or it might make this country stumble into the single-payer model after those who wrote the law ridiculously stretched the truth in order to sell it to the American people.
Sally Pipes has had experience with this kind of thing in Canada.
Once you make a scare economic good a ‘right,’ you’re just fighting over who controls the good, which, in most cases, leads to less for a vast majority, and the most advantage for those who need your money most in order to gain political power and influence.
Charlie Martin from a while ago:
‘Whatever solution we look for though, the really important point is this: the whole basis of Obamacare, the notion that we can have more people, getting more benefits, and pay less, is just impossible. The arithmetic doesn’t work. And if you think that’s “unfair,” I’m sorry.’
‘In the late 1830s, Cole was intent on advancing the genre of landscape painting in a way that conveyed universal truths about human existence, religious faith, and the natural world. First conceived in 1836, the four pictures comprising The Voyage of Life: Childhood, Youth, Manhood, and Old Age fulfilled that aspiration.’
These scenes in the Romantic style can have an emotional pull for me, as generally does the work of the Hudson River School. Such allegory certainly tends to function as a vehicle into memory (Cole’s work has really stuck with me…in a sort of haunting way, mixed with some thought of how I’m supposed to live and what might be coming next).
Also, the wild, untamed nature we Americans have often faced is perhaps requiring of a spirited and grand attempt at putting our experiences within Nature into some context: To soar as high as our hopes often do.
Or at least, to find in paintings: Familiarity. I like to see the roll of a hill like I’ve seen, or an opening of clouds, sky and light like I’ve seen.
Perhaps Wild Nature can be ordered in a Romantic, neo-classical or more modern way. Perhaps Nature can be made, with the tools at our disposal, to conform to some of our deeper ideas about Nature, mirroring our hopes in some recognizable fashion; giving some basic comfort and meaning.
Maybe, after all, we can find a home here.
On the other hand, allegory with overt moral/religious meaning can also come across as heavy-handed, sentimental, and moralistic. Too lush and pretentious; perhaps a bit anachronistic.
Do I really have to hunt for all the symbols and put the puzzle together?
‘So, you’re going to reveal universal truths, eh?’
This can seem distant from the experiences of the modern viewer, often finding himself a little further down the modern/postmodern ‘river’, where such attempts at universality might seem a wash.
Much more common these days are the very personal shards and glimpses of the inner life of an artist, attached to high ambition and great talent surely in some cases; as well to form and tradition, but generally making less bold claims to knowledge than ‘The Voyage Of Life‘.
In painting, I’m reminded of the abstract expressionist movement seeking meaning in reducing experience to the abstract in order to reveal something essential within Nature, or essential about our relationship to Nature: A transcendent place where shape, form and color can be isolated from anything immediately recognizable in the world.
‘The movement’s name is derived from the combination of the emotional intensity and self-denial of the German Expressionists with the anti-figurative aesthetic of the European abstract schools such as Futurism, the Bauhaus, and Synthetic Cubism. Additionally, it has an image of being rebellious, anarchic, highly idiosyncratic and, some feel, nihilistic. In practice, the term is applied to any number of artists working (mostly) in New York who had quite different styles, and even to work that is neither especially abstract nor expressionist.’
The exploration of the Self is often pursued, as well as that of Nature, but the general hope that it might all make sense (life, death, Nature, purpose etc) in many more modern movements is often left abandoned.
Or so often, as we’ve seen in the past few generations: The pursuit of The Self can easily become subsumed to the pursuit of fame, celebrity, and money.
Towards a theme: Perhaps you’ve also heard of the Rothko chapel, in Houston, Texas.
Mark Rothko undertook the idea that within the modern context, one could create temples of universal meaning through aesthetics, art, and beauty:
‘The Rothko Chapel, founded by Houston philanthropists John and Dominique de Menil, was dedicated in 1971 as an intimate sanctuary available to people of every belief. A tranquil meditative environment inspired by the mural canvases of Russian born American painter Mark Rothko (1903-1970), the Chapel welcomes over 60,000 visitors each year, people of every faith and from all parts of the world.’
There’s even a suite of music by Morton Feldman, entitled ‘Rothko Chapel’
‘He spent 12 days trapped in our bureaucratic jungle because we couldn’t communicate,” he said. “Germany is unfortunately an extremely bureaucratic country. Especially during the refugee crisis I’ve seen how much red tape we have.”
‘A respected research institute wanted Chinese classical texts to adorn its journal, something beautiful and elegant, to illustrate a special report on China. Instead, it got a racy flyer extolling the lusty details of stripping housewives in a brothel.’
Back to the States.Via a reader: Umm…yeah…there are probably some games you win by refusing to play:
“I have divided my personality,” the Italian artist says. “There is Vanessa Beecroft as a European white female, and then there is Vanessa Beecroft as Kanye, an African-American male.” She then reveals that she actually took a DNA test as she thought she could very possibly be black. Spoiler alert: she is not.
If it’s not race…it’s gender…or class…or theory….or something, and that’s despite the weirdness on display here. If it’s postmodern, it’s probably got a lot of ‘bodies juxtaposed in space’ and theory involved.
In my humble experience: Ignorance is often the rule, not the exception. There are reefs of sentiment, pride, love, tradition and pre-judgment and judgment that bind people together, as much drive them apart.
One’s own observations are based on very limited experience, out of which lofty heights of abstraction can be reached, and upon which individuals can stand apart on principle, mistaken or not…bearing much weight, while still possibly being wrong about a good many things.
Be careful what you do with your eyes and your mind.
On that note…a cheery old German, whom I don’t think ought to be the last word on matters of race:
‘Every nation ridicules other nations, and all are right.’
Related on this site: Postmodern generator here, via David Thompson.
“…in 1996 the radical “postmodernist” journal Social Text published an article submitted by Alan Sokal, a mathematical physicist at New York University, with the mouthwatering title “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.” Sokal then revealed the article to be a spoof…”
Sokal has been busy ruminating since that paper, and Blackburn, a Cambridge philosophy professor, reviews his ruminations.
‘The billiard table is a seductive analogy. But in real foreign policy, the billiard balls do not react only to physical impact. They are also guided by their own cultural inheritances: their histories, instincts, ideals, their characteristic national approaches to strategy, in short, their national values. A realist foreign policy needs a strong value system to guide it through the inherent ambiguities of circumstance. Even Bismarck, the supreme realist, emphasized the ultimate moral basis of realist statesmanship: “The best a statesman can do is to listen carefully to the footsteps of God, get ahold of the hem of His cloak and walk with Him a few steps of the way.’
and a partial look at ideas underlying his multipolar vision:
‘The distinction between idealism and realism rejects the experience of history. Idealists do not have a monopoly on moral values; realists must recognize that ideals are also part of reality. We will be less frequently disillusioned if we emphasize a foreign policy designed to accumulate nuance rather than triumph through apocalyptic showdowns, and our values will benefit over the longer term.’
‘A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation. Without such means it might even risque the loss of that part of the constitution which it wished the most religiously to preserve. The two principles of conservation and correction operated strongly at the two critical periods of the Restoration and Revolution, when England found itself without a king. At both those periods the nation had lost the bond of union in their antient edifice; they did not however, dissolve the whole fabric.’