So, why the broader media silence (you know, from journalists)?
Why do the Portland authorities tolerate such violent lawlessness, while selectively enforcing the law?
My map is pretty simple: Once individuals and institutions acquiesce or commit to the claims of activist logic, the adoption of radical principles or radical chic (fashionable signaling), the game is afoot. Sympathy for collectivist ideological framing of truths (not the actual truths, per se) can unite strange bedfellows.
If you don’t explicitly condemn violence, nor limit violence through a statement of principles, you will drift into the radicalism of those who wish to tear it all down. Weaponized resentment can easily consume civil discourse.
Of course, some on the Left (laregly what’s become the ‘IDW’) openly condemn such violence and these particular bad actors, while continually arguing for what amounts to radical institutional change.
Openly condemning violence is always welcome:
Follow-up: Did the shakes thrown at @MrAndyNgo contain cement? We don’t know. Quite possibly not.
Was Andy struck repeatedly, bloodied & bruised, and injured sufficiently that he is still in the hospital under observation for brain bleed? Yes. That is all most definitely true.
I think the Arts & Sciences need better stewardship.
But, Chris, you might find yourself thinking, while I appreciate your rakish good looks I happen to disagree. You’ve been reasonably up front about your biases (Northeastern Democrats in the family, Irish Catholic roots and many conservative views, libertarian leanings, a passion for the arts and some work and appreciation in/for the sciences….aiming for live and let live, mostly).
What do you even stand for, anyways?
Hopefully, I’m standing for better stewardship of the institutions of our fine Republic. I’m acting as though there will be rules, and people enforcing those rules, and institutional authority. I’m acting as though there will be politics, regardless of many of the current failures of our political, academic and media folks. I’m respecting religious belief, tolerance, and the consent of the governed.
***Also, I am currently accepting sums in excess of $1 million dollars to the email below. No small-time players, please. I aim to provide, for me and my loved ones, a series of vacation villas from which I can shake my fists at passing clouds, above life’s thousand, cutting indignities.
‘One remembers Weber’s epitaph for the Protestant Ethic, as he contemplated a devitalised bourgeoisie spiritlessly tending the petrified mechanism their ancestors had raised. Adapted, without apology, it might also be used to depict that petrified Utopia of the New Ruling classes of the East.
I suppose I’m still baffled by the the 2015 decision to let over a million ‘asylum-seekers’ into Germany:
‘Merkel said she was moved by the sight of hundreds of migrants stuck at a railway station in Hungary last week, chanting their desire to come to Germany.’
I decided to look up Angela Merkel’s wikipedia page, and found the following as well:
‘In 2012, Merkel said, regarding her faith: “I am a member of the evangelical church. I believe in God and religion is also my constant companion, and has been for the whole of my life. We as Christians should above all not be afraid of standing up for our beliefs.” She also publicly declared that Germany suffers not from “too much Islam” but “too little Christianity”‘
As previously posted:
There’s plenty of German theory, pathology and overwhelming 20th-century collective guilt going on here. What many moderns and humanists can ignore are the deep impulses they have to make meaning, and to draw distinctions between the sacred and the profane, which in the West can manifest as a kind of sentimental Romanticization of Nature and Man (religious and anti-religious, truthfully, and perhaps some hybridization illuminated by German Theory).
Everyone wants to transcend and seek the timeless, the immortal, and the pure, I’m guessing.
There is also a particular myth of the ‘Noble Savage,’ alive and well in the Western World, where the local tribesman or displaced native is celebrated as an exotic but worthy adversary, or some kind of anachronistic adornment.
This stuff can be true and inspiring in the arts, synthesized as part of the Romantic school:
Perhaps the native is to be included under the net of secular human idealism or given land, a casino or a museum somewhere on the Western Estate and left to many of his own devices (many further Left likely see a fellow oppressed class of victims with whom to feel solidarity on the way to radical and revolutionary freedom).
But certainly with the triumphs of trade and commerce, the many benefits and successes of Western expansion (the thousand injustices and brutalities of State and privately funded imperialism), comes a lot of doubt, guilt, and shame.
What is true and right?
How should I live and what should I do?
I can say Orwell has caused me to think, reflect, and honestly take a look at myself in the mirror.
Much as the sciences require intellectual rigor, empirical evidence and much skepticism, there are bands of Western anti-science postmodernists in their wake, too, who can sink into a kind of nebulous modern mysticism, building museums as temples.
Just as there are humanists there are anti-humanists.
‘The paleofantasy is a fantasy in part because it supposes that we humans, or at least our protohuman forebears, were at some point perfectly adapted to our environments. We apply this erroneous idea of evolution’s producing the ideal mesh between organism and surroundings to other life forms, too, not just to people.’
There’s a lot of confusion out there in the popular mind, apparently. Fascinating discoveries going on right now in genetics, genome research, and evolutionary biology, to name a few.
But there are also political and ideological movements displaying many characteristics of religious movements, and seeking to make laws we all must follow.
Some radical professors, some loud students, and many parasitic administrators are quite like true-believing cultists, spilling particularly bad ideas into our public discourse. These ideas tend to get human nature, institutional authority, and the pursuit of truth dangerously wrong.
‘With their preoccupation with identity, privilege, and oppression, our institutions of higher education increasingly promote a paranoid climate of perpetual crisis. Is it surprising, then, that participants in this hothouse environment would respond to an incentive structure that rewards victimhood by manufacturing it?’
Well, I wouldn’t say ALL institutions of higher education, nor all departments, nor all people, but education is certainly getting a bad rap, much of it deserved.
This blog is still operating as though the only way to win the identity game is by not playing. The loaded terms ‘privilege,’ ‘narratives,’ and ‘(H)istory, ‘ might indicate a person is playing such games, and I generally leave them be, avoiding the game, and if necessary, the player.
The best defense against becoming the master to someone else’s slave, oppressor to someone else’s oppressed, is by treating others as you’d want to be treated. Don’t assume that your grouping of ‘women’ accounts for the woman in front of you, even if some women are playing the ‘all women are victims,’ game. She’s her own person and has thoughts about you, too. Some of [those] thoughts are likely quite true, and maybe not so flattering.
Aim for win/win situations and solutions.
On the right, I suspect the warmer welcome for the Brothers Weinstein (still of the Left) is due to a common enemy. Also, it’s probably due to their thoughtfulness, and the more recent minority status of conservatism in the mainstream.
Strange bedfellows these days as human nature hasn’t changed much, and there will be institutional authority.
There is increasing pressure for the rules of that institutional authority to become more open, if those rules be routed through algorithms:
There are many disgruntled tech workers who have been sharing uncomfortable practices for years now that involve the algorithmic corruption of sense-making for social engineering objectives.
These folks had nothing to do w/ O’Keefe so far as I know.
Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw– For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law. He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair: For when they reach the scene of crime–Macavity’s not there!
Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity, He’s broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity. His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare, And when you reach the scene of crime–Macavity’s not there! You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air But I tell you once and once again,–Macavity’s not there!
Macavity’s a ginger cat, he’s very tall and thin; You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in. His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed; His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed. He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake; And when you think he’s half asleep, he’s always wide awake.
Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity, For he’s a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity. You may meet him in a bystreet, you may see him in the square But when a crime’s discovered, then–Macavity’s not there!
He’s outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.) And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard’s. And when the larder’s looted, or the jewel-case is rifled, Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke’s been stifled, Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair Ay, there’s the wonder of the thing! Macavity’s not there!
And when the Foreign Office find a Treaty’s gone astray, Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way, There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair But it’s useless to investigate–Macavity’s not there! And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say: ‘It must have been Macavity!’ but he’s a mile away. You’ll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumbs, Or engaged in doing complicated long division sums.
Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity, There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity. He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare: At whatever time the deed took place–MACAVITY WASN’T THERE! And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known, (I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone) Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime.
If I were Dutch, I would not be altogether reassured by the ease with which it was widely (though mistakenly) believed that a 17-year-old girl named Noa Pothoven was put to death by doctors because of her unbearable mental suffering, rather than the fact that she was actually allowed to refuse all food and drink until she died of dehydration.’
‘There was something distinctly histrionic or self-advertising about her suicide. She did not go quietly: she advertised or broadcast what she was going to do, and why she was going to do it. She did not want to shuffle off this mortal coil: she wanted to make a mark, to enter history. And she succeeded.’
There certainly is something rather histrionic and hysterical in the ‘environment’ these days:
***Bonus points to Dalrymple for mentioning ‘The Sufferings Of Young Werther‘ which I suffered in translation during year twenty-one on this Earth. After spending time with Nietzsche via Walter Kaufman, eternity as a bath house full of spiders, and Rilke’s panther, I was well on my way to having a proper heart of stone.
‘That’s the line up in American Legion v. American Humanist Association, the case about the 32-foot cross on public land that honors soldiers who died in WWI. The American Legion won — the case is reversed and remanded. It will take me a little time to find my way through those opinions. The precedents in this area of the Establishment Clause have been very confused, and (as someone who taught those cases for many years) I want to know how the Court puzzled through them this time.’
‘The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rendered by 15:2 in Lautsi v Italy (App. No.: 30814/06) on the 18th March 2011 that it is justifiable for public funded schools in Italy to continue displaying crucifixes on the classroom walls.’
“The philosophy of human rights addresses questions about the existence, content, nature, universality, justification, and legal status of human rights. The strong claims made on behalf of human rights (for example, that they are universal, or that they exist independently of legal enactment as justified moral norms) frequently provoke skeptical doubts and countering philosophical defences.”
And further on down the line, some humanists are pretty ‘aspirational’ as well as having a logo and a revised manifesto.
I’ll repost the below again because, in America, I believe we’ve likely tipped from a majority religious civic fabric and culture to something more like a majority secular culture. This likely brings a lot of European problems over (people searching for meaning, membership, group belonging). We’ve got less frontier and more hierarchy and more reactions to inequality and the same old socialism gaining deeper representation in our politics.
Ack, mutter, so much German theory and deep, metaphysical maps:
I’m sure some will be eager to note that this took place 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:
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?
Many Christians in the West tend to see such secular idealism and humanism as being birthed from Christianity, and as being unmoored from the duties and obligations that come with religious belief in a transcendent God. People haven’t changed that much, after all, nor has human nature, they often subtly argue, pointing out the many consequences such secular humanist claims have in the world by placing all kinds of laws, duties, and obligations upon us all.
Ross Douthat made similar arguments some years ago while promoting his book ‘Bad Religion:‘
‘…what is the idea of universal human rights if not a metaphysical principle? Can you find universal human rights under a microscope?‘
Natural law, Christian theology and metaphysics meet liberalism, gay rights, and a more rights-based definitions of liberty. Saletan and Douthat are discussing Douthat’s new book Bad Religion and having a back and forth.
Douthat puts forth the following:
‘Indeed, it’s completely obvious that absent the Christian faith, there would be no liberalism at all. No ideal of universal human rights without Jesus’ radical upending of social hierarchies (including his death alongside common criminals on the cross). No separation of church and state without the gospels’ “render unto Caesar” and St. Augustine’s two cities. No liberal confidence about the march of historical progress without the Judeo-Christian interpretation of history as an unfolding story rather than an endlessly repeating wheel’
Perhaps modern American liberalism can claim other roots for itself. Here’s a quote from Leo Strauss, who has influenced American conservative thought heavily:
“Strauss taught that liberalism in its modern form contained within it an intrinsic tendency towards extreme relativism, which in turn led to two types of nihilism. The first was a “brutal” nihilism, expressed in Nazi and Marxist regimes. In On Tyranny, he wrote that these ideologies, both descendants of Enlightenment thought, tried to destroy all traditions, history, ethics, and moral standards and replace them by force under which nature and mankind are subjugated and conquered. The second type – the “gentle” nihilism expressed in Western liberal democracies – was a kind of value-free aimlessness and a hedonistic”permissive egalitarianism”, which he saw as permeating the fabric of contemporary American society.”
And another quote on Strauss, which seems more compelling to me:
“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.”
I’m more interested in the many people who are claiming that more freedom is necessary to reach a liberal ideal as they go about extending it to another group of people. They aren’t just asking for a little more freedom, for as we humans do, they are striving to make their ideal the highest thing around, as well as a source for the laws, and a way to organize people and a path to political power and influence. That seems to be part of the deal, but rarely discussed and I think should be open for debate a la Strauss. Christianity certainly has a lot of experience in that realm.
James Lindsay further discusses exposure of the specious knowledge claims behind targeted postmodern grievance studies programs (if it has ‘studies’ after it, you should probably study something else).
Intersectionalism, and many postmodern movements in general, have many characteristics of religious movements.
If you’re thinking the plan is to bring progress to all (M)ankind; ever more freedom to ever more people along the ‘arc of (H)istory,’ you might want to keep thinking.
Much high liberal idealism is ripe for satire. Much radicalism beneath high liberal idealism is dangerously narrow and rigid.
“‘…a morally concerned style of intellectual atheism openly avowed by only a small minority of individuals (for example, those who are members of the British Humanist Association) but tacitly accepted by a wide spectrum of educated people in all parts of the Western world.”
‘In the shorter term, postmodernism has caused an impoverishment of much of the academic humanities, both in the quality of the work being done and the civility of the debates. The sciences have been less affected and are relatively healthy. The social sciences are mixed.
I am optimistic, though, for a couple of reasons. One is that pomo was able to entrench itself in the second half of the twentieth century in large part because first-rate intellectuals were mostly dismissive of it and focused on their own projects. But over the last ten years, after pomo’s excesses became blatant, there has been a vigorous counter-attack and pomo is now on the defensive. Another reason for optimism is that, as a species of skepticism, pomo is ultimately empty and becomes boring. Eventually intellectually-alert individuals get tired of the same old lines and move on. It is one thing, as the pomo can do well, to critique other theories and tear them down. But that merely clears the field for the next new and intriguing theory and for the next generation of energetic young intellectuals.
So while the postmodernism has had its generation or two, I think we’re ready for the next new thing – a strong, fresh, and positive approach to the big issues, one that of course takes into account the critical weapons the pomo have used well over the last while’
More On Nietzsche’s influence-Part of Bryan Magee’s series:
Nietzsche directed his thought against Christian morality, secular morality (Kantian and utilitarian), was quite anti-democratic, and anti-Socratic Greek (the beginning of the end).
Quote found here at friesian.com (recovering Kantian idealism and moving in a libertarian direction):
‘Oddly enough, it is the intellctual snobbery and elitism of many of the literati that politically correct egalitarianism appeals to; their partiality to literary Marxism is based not on its economic theory but on its hostility to business and the middle class. The character of this anti-bourgeois sentiment therefore has more in common with its origin in aristocratic disdain for the lower orders than with egalitarianism.’
Roger Scruton was cast out of polite society just for trying to provide some context and pushback (with a strong Hegelian conservative approach mixed English Anglican localism?) :
I An old man sits In the shadow of a pine tree In China. He sees larkspur, Blue and white, At the edge of the shadow, Move in the wind. His beard moves in the wind. The pine tree moves in the wind. Thus water flows Over weeds.
II The night is of the colour Of a woman’s arm: Night, the female, Obscure, Fragrant and supple, Conceals herself. A pool shines, Like a bracelet Shaken in a dance.
III I measure myself Against a tall tree. I find that I am much taller, For I reach right up to the sun, With my eye; And I reach to the shore of the sea With my ear. Nevertheless, I dislike The way ants crawl In and out of my shadow.
IV When my dream was near the moon, The white folds of its gown Filled with yellow light. The soles of its feet Grew red. Its hair filled With certain blue crystallizations From stars, Not far off.
V Not all the knives of the lamp-posts, Nor the chisels of the long streets, Nor the mallets of the domes And high towers, Can carve What one star can carve, Shining through the grape-leaves.
VI Rationalists, wearing square hats, Think, in square rooms, Looking at the floor, Looking at the ceiling. They confine themselves To right-angled triangles. If they tried rhomboids, Cones, waving lines, ellipses As, for example, the ellipse of the half-moon Rationalists would wear sombreros.
I quite like this one. Perhaps it’s because of what I see as a Romantic sensibility fitted to imagistic purpose.
As to that final stanza: That’s a lot of very lush language to describe what are, to my mind, very visual-field, mathematical concepts. Stevens was a poet of lush language, celebrating it like the old dandy he was, but also translating the Romantic arrangment of language to the spare, image-based aims of modernism. Make it new and strip it down.
Perhaps, this is more the tension occurring here rather than that of a frustrated mathematician.
I’ll try and stir the pot a bit:
‘…modern rationalism is what commonplace minds made out of the inspiration of men of discrimination and genius.’
Oakeshott, Michael. Rationalism In Politics And Other Essays. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1991. Print. Pg 6.
One might ask what kind of genius? Artistic, linguistic and poetic? Or rather mathematical and physical? Parts of this debate could be said to stretch back to the Greeks, at least. They exist [such debates] all around us today, within our universities, politics and lives.
Personally, I’m reminded of many modern debates over reason, what it can do , what it can’t, and also many rationalist/anti-rationalist reactions to it.
The Romantic impulse generally involves a return to Nature and the countryside, away from civilization. The poet and the artist also invite one back to one’s own sense experience anew; the ambitious attempting to celebrate the emotions and grand themes without a hint of irony (love, death, war).
At least, many try and show us as we are and can be to ourselves.
I’ll just re-post in opposition to the Oberlin model, where, apparently, practice of the ‘liberal arts’ can become so liberal brains might fall out; curation of the arts beholden to students driven by ideology and bureaucrats enabling them in a rather destructive feedback loop. The recent settlement will not likely help many budding artists, I suspect. Godspeed, budding artists.
It probably hasn’t helped relations with the surrounding townsfolk, either.
Discovering the truth should always be part of your life.
The only other Oberlin reference I can find on this blog is Lena Dunham (Kevin Williamson is not a fan). Personally, I say ‘no thanks ‘to much anaesthetic (don’t look at me, oppressor), liberatory (look at my body) popular art, especially when it becomes explicity political and/or ideological.
If you need your art to grant you identity enough to be somebody, even if you are a successful popular artist, you should probably work on your art more.
If you need group identity enough to matter in the world (woman, black, white, gay), especially in politics, you should probably work on your life, work and relationships more.
Interesting paper presented by Erika Kiss, beginning about minute 32:00 (the whole conference is likely worth your time for more knowledge on Oakeshott).
According to Kiss, Oakeshott’s non-teleological, non-purposive view of education is potentially a response to Friedrich Hayek, Martha Nussbaum, and Allan Bloom, in the sense that all of these thinkers posit some useful purpose or outcome in getting a liberal education.
Hayek’s profound epistemological attack on rationalist thought is still a system itself, and attaches learning to market-based processes which eventually drive freedom and new thinking in universities. The two are mutually dependent to some extent.
Nussbaum attaches liberal learning to ends such as making us ‘Aristotelian citizens of the world’, or better citizens in a democracy, which has struck me as incomplete at best.
Allan Bloom is profoundly influenced by Straussian ne0-classicism, and wants love, classical learning, honor and duty to perhaps be those reasons why a young man or woman should read the classics. This, instead of crass commercialism, the influences of popular music, deconstructionism and logical positivism.