‘It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.’
Kantian metaphysics can lead to problems in the public square, or at least something of an aesthetic retreat, by individuals, from the public square. Part of the Anglo-talent for governance has roots in the Humean empiricism Kant was to synthesize within his own platform, and I’d argue this empiricism is culturally much deeper within the Anglo-sphere. There is often more deference to the uniqueness of each of our experiences and the uniqueness each that case can bring within common-law jurisprudence.
Repost-Appeasement Won’t Do-Via A Reader, ‘Michael Ignatieff Interview With Isaiah Berlin’…A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”…Repost-Classical Liberalism Via Friesian.Com-‘Exchange with Tomaz Castello Branco on John Gray’
Inside every Iranian is a Western peace activist waiting to get out…Via Mick Hartley via The National-Iran’s long-cherished Tehran to Beirut land-bridge moves closer to reality.
From Intelligence Squared: Two people on either side debating whether ‘Obama’s Foreign Policy Is A Failure‘ (some rather unsurprising anti-Trump sentiment is expressed by the panelists at the outset, to some applause by the audience in NYC).
What just happened in Saudi Arabia? Adam Garfinkle: ‘The 1002nd Arabian Night?‘
‘Contrary to what the vast majority of Americans seem to think, Saudi Arabia is not a traditional Muslim country. Saudi Arabia is an attenuated neo-fundamentalist country from having been taken over, by force of arms in the early 20th century, by a “revitalization movement”—to use Anthony F.C. Wallace’s classic 1956 description of the type. The Wahhabi movement’
The Trump Administration, just possibly, had one sensible idea in foreign policy: stop playing footsie with the Iranians and organize the Sunnis to confront the real threat—creeping Iranian imperial recidivism—and to whack ISIS at the same time. But having a decent idea and knowing how to make it happen are two different things. The Saudis did not whack ISIS; if any locals did, it was the Kurds, and look where their efforts have got them.
And more broadly: It’s quite possible to bring the problems of other parts of the world into your own neighborhood along with the people you are bringing in. This can, and and unfortunately, sometimes does, include the worst elements.
Right now, service members and special forces are acting in your name as a U.S. citizen abroad, and local and federal law enforcement officials here at home, and there are many good reasons why.
When we focus on these harsh truths and bear some of the burden they carry, the conversations about freedom and responsibility tend to go better.
Wahhabism in the Balkans?:
With whom can we do business against these worst elements?
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) November 11, 2017
More than 5500 battle-hardened Islamic State jihadis from 33 countries have returned home. https://t.co/yOBPdu6M7j
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) November 13, 2017
Previously on this site: Henry Kissinger & George Schulz Via The WSJ: ‘The Iran Deal And Its Consequences’
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
A Postcard From The Volcano
Children picking up our bones
Will never know that these were once
As quick as foxes on the hill;
And that in autumn, when the grapes
Made sharp air sharper by their smell
These had a being, breathing frost;
And least will guess that with our bones
We left much more, left what still is
The look of things, left what we felt
At what we saw. The spring clouds blow
Above the shuttered mansion-house,
Beyond our gate and the windy sky
Cries out a literate despair.
We knew for long the mansion’s look
And what we said of it became
A part of what it is . . . Children,
Still weaving budded aureoles,
Will speak our speech and never know,
Will say of the mansion that it seems
As if he that lived there left behind
A spirit storming in blank walls,
A dirty house in a gutted world,
A tatter of shadows peaked to white,
Smeared with the gold of the opulent sun.
For some, Trump operates as a clever and ambitious used-car salesman, with some victories under his belt, but a used-car salesman nonetheless. He will ultimately be unable to deliver on many of his promises without making too many short-term gains at the expense of long-term freedoms, principle, character and knowledge. Such a man has been summoned by the times, and may not be the worst we see yet.
To other conservative-minded folks, he may be a cruder, politically personalizing populist, yes, but he stands-up for their economic and personal interests, making all the right people uncomfortable in all the right ways by openly waving the flag and focusing on national sovereignty and economic growth (identity politickers, one-worlders, progressives, the media, political and Hollywood elites, liberal political idealists as well as many establishment Republicans and RINO’s are properly either driven into irrational frenzy or made irrelevant).
Jonah Goldberg defends his vision of conservatism as a vocal anti-Trumper here (I suspect it is somewhat personal), towards the end of his podcast ‘The Remnant.’ In it, he explains why he resists the incomplete, and what he sees as incorrect, ‘neo-conservative‘ label (for him neo-conservatives bring the terminology, analysis and methods of the social sciences into conservatism while using them against Communist, Socialist, Marxist and other collectivist, rationalist enterprises).
He envisions paleo-cons as part of a more recent movement, pro-Trumpers as potentially misguided, and his platform of freer-market, more Hayekian conservatism as just as well-established and valid, or perhaps more valid than other competing visions.
It’s true that although no one individual nor faction likely possesses all of the truth, most individuals and factions believe they do, especially under the pressures of politics, opinion and influence. Political coalitions can bring such disparate groups together for awhile.
One major rift seems to be this:
Free Trade vs Economic Nationalism–
If you’re for open markets and free-trade, you likely don’t see too much long-term viability in trade-protectionism (union Left nor protectionist Right), because the forces at work are as relentless as they are transformative. There is little choice but to ride the waves of innovation, global competition and mobile labor, as the goal is to keep creating win-win scenarios, and keep building newer, better opportunities which engage people at their core talents and ambitions.
It is inefficient, backwards-thinking, and even perhaps politically dangerous, to react to the same waves by paying some people to keep rearranging the chairs inefficiently and creating incentives to use our political system for their personal and factional gains. The open-market approach doesn’t tend to make for ‘compassionate’ politics when people are hurting (deeply), but its best case seems to be that it can make for a politics of moral decency and local involvement by embracing this role, engaging a lot of who we are as people, not just what we do in the marketplace.
On the other hand, economic nationalism can also be a unifying force; a large island of possible agreement and common interest in a rapidly changing political and economic American landscape. This is much of what Donald Trump responded to in speech after speech as he toured the country (he also appealed to simply not being Hillary, attacking his opponent as he was attacked). The demographics are changing, and The Civil Rights movement, along with the extension of Civil Rights logic to more and more minority groups and individuals has continued apace, leading to much social transformation.
Freedoms have been extended to even those once legally denied such freedoms, and some people are finding themselves with different views, and different understanding of relationships they once held, even with their neighbors. I think it’s also true to say that many people driving these changes are also having to answer for some consequences of their ideals and behavior in action. Many radicals seek to change laws they call illegitimate, just as they often seek to control the institutions and lawmaking process they consider illegitimate, just as they seek to make their own laws based on universal claims, to rectify past injustices, and often not recognize opponents as anything but illegitimate (or evil). There is a lot of dependence, decadence, resentment and lack of freedom among many activists and radicals claiming freedom for all, despite the truths they have to tell.
How does economic nationalism fit it? I think Trump’s focus on jobs and border walls does, in fact, call some people from allegiance to their individual ‘class,’ ‘race’ and ‘gender’ categories to different purpose (away from identity politics and towards getting a job and serving the country). But I don’t think the appeal is that broad.
Economic nationalism also crystallizes a return to a promised pre-existing order, and I think it’s fair to say it certainly does give voice to people being tired of called rubes, racists and misogynists.
Whatever your political stripes, then, I know I’m seeing a profound mistrust of most established institutions, authority and claims to authority right now. The extremes have often come to the middle, and the middle seems harder to find.
***As for the Democratic party, there is just as big a rift of populist, activist, and socially democratic progressivism within the base against older, establishment hawkish and more economically conservative establishmentarianism. The center seems sufficiently Left enough to have trouble winning working people back (though I could be wrong).
Here’s Trump giving a campaign speech in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania in October 2016 which has traditionally been a coal town, and is now trying to attract more and newer industries (Pennsylvania has traditionally been..traditional, with hard-work, patriotism and public service being profoundly important to most).
A lot of people went for Trump:
Design for November
Let confusion be the design
and all my thoughts go,
swallowed by desire: recess
from promises in
the November of your arms.
Release from the rose: broken
through which, from easy
branches that mock the blood
a few leaves fall. There
the mind is cradled,
stripped also and returned
to the ground, a trivial
and momentary clatter. Sleep
and be brought down, and so
condone the world, eased of
the jagged sky and all
its petty imageries, flying
birds, its fogs and windy
phalanxes . . .
Laura Kipnis, a former Marxist-materialist feminist (who among us hasn’t longed for an economy run by Marxists?), and still quite Left-feminist, has become a source of information and resolve against Title IX abuses and the shadowy kangaroo courts which have resulted.
In the audio interview, she mentions part of what really interests her is not this task, nor university and government policy, but finding ‘freedom on the page,’ partially guided by by Twain, Whitman and various others.
Naturally, I support her in this, and, of course, this kind of ‘freedom on the page’ and exploration of the human condition with wit, humor, tragedy, and irony is the point of a good humanities education.
Or, it certainly was before many campus radicals and Marxist-materialists came to town, helping to create bloated bureaucracies, sexual paranoia and byzantine federal mandates…oh you know the rest.
Dear Student, this letter has been sent to advise you to appear before…Falco!:
Facing West From California’s Shores
Facing west, from California’s shores,
Inquiring, tireless, seeking what is yet unfound,
I, a child, very old, over waves, towards the house of maternity, the land of migrations, look afar,
Look off the shores of my Western Sea—the circle almost circled;
For, starting westward from Hindustan, from the vales of Kashmere,
From Asia—from the north—from the God, the sage, and the hero,
From the south—from the flowery peninsulas, and the spice islands;
Long having wander’d since—round the earth having wander’d,
Now I face home again—very pleas’d and joyous;
(But where is what I started for, so long ago? And why it is yet unfound?)
I make a pact with you, Walt Whitman –
I have detested you long enough.
I come to you as a grown child
Who has had a pig-headed father;
I am old enough now to make friends.
It was you that broke the new wood,
Now is a time for carving.
We have one sap and one root –
Let there be commerce between us.
Related Links: Christina Hoff Sommers (wikipedia) is trying to replacing gender feminism with equity feminism. She also wrote The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men.
Defending Eliot Spitzer…as a man who ought to be free of prostitution laws…but didn’t he prosecute others with those same laws?: Repost: Martha Nussbaum On Eliot Spitzer At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A very Harvard affair: The Spelke/Pinker debate-The Science Of Gender And Science
Hey-Hey, Ho-Ho, Western Civ has got to go!
Maybe teaching Western Civ 101 and requiring students to think independently and rigorously would help salvage a more politicized academic climate (especially in the humanities and social sciences).
Not too bad for 1996:
On this site, see:
Salman Rushdie at about minute 57:00: ‘This idea of separate treatment for separate cultures…I think essentially if we follow that to its conclusion…destroys our ability to have a really moral framework for society.’
From Theodore Dalrymple:
‘The doctrine of multiculturalism arose, at least in Holland, as a response to the immigration influx, believed initially to be temporary. The original purpose of multiculturalism was to preserve the culture of European “guest workers” so that when they returned home, having completed their labor contracts, they would not feel dislocated by their time away. The doctrine became a shibboleth of the Left, a useful tool of cultural dismantlement, only after family reunion in the name of humanitarianism became normal policy during the 1960s and the guest workers transformed into permanent residents.’
“Nigel: Has relativism had its day as an influential philosophical position?
Simon: No – and I don’t think it should ever die. The danger is that it gets replaced by some kind of complacent dogmatism, which is at least equally unhealthy. The Greek sceptics thought that confronting a plurality of perspectives is the beginning of wisdom, and I think they were right. It is certainly the beginning of historiography and anthropology, and if we think, for instance, of the Copernican revolution, of self-conscious science. The trick is to benefit from an imaginative awareness of diversity, without falling into a kind of “anything goes” wishy-washy nihilism or scepticism….”
Click through for some of Eugene Volokh’s thoughts. He finishes with the following:
“It’s a mistake, I think, to condemn multiculturalism in general, just as it’s a mistake to praise multiculturalism in general. Rather, we should think about which forms of toleration, accommodation, and embrace of differing cultural values and behaviors are good for America — in the light of American legal and social traditions — and which are bad.“
Here’s a quote from a previous post, at the request of a friend:
“As Strauss understood it, the principle of liberal democracy in the natural freedom and equality of all human beings, and the bond of liberal society is a universal morality that links human beings regardless of religion. Liberalism understands religion to be a primary source of divisiveness in society, but it also regards liberty of religious worship to be a fundamental expression of the autonomy of the individual. To safeguard religion and to safeguard society from conflicts over religion, liberalism pushes religion to the private sphere where it is protected by law. The liberal state also strictly prohibits public laws that discriminate on the basis of religion. What the liberal state cannot do without ceasing to be liberal is to use the law to root out and entirely eliminate discrimination, religious and otherwise, on the part of private individuals and groups.”
A matter of deep debate.
See Also On This Site: Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…?: From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…Are we going soft and “European”… do we need to protect our religious idealism enshrined in the Constitution….with the social sciences?…Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People
Also On This Site: Morality away from a transcendent God, but back toward Hume through the cognitive sciences?: Franz De Waal At The NY Times 10/17/10: ‘Morals Without God?’…
Maybe if you’re defending religion, Nietzsche is a problematic reference: Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy…
Repost-From Virtual Philosophy: A Brief Interview With Simon Blackburn…From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’