Nikon d3100. I’m new at this and doing my best when I get a little extra time. Thanks for looking. Maybe it gives you a feel for the place.
“7. What is meant by enthusiasm. This I take to be properly enthusiasm, which, though founded neither on reason nor divine revelation, but rising from the conceits of a warmed or overweening brain, works yet, where it once gets footing, more powerfully on the persuasions and actions of men than either of those two, or both together: men being most forwardly obedient to the impulses they receive from themselves; and the whole man is sure to act more vigorously where the whole man is carried by a natural motion. For strong conceit, like a new principle, carries all easily with it, when got above common sense, and freed from all restraint of reason and check of reflection, it is heightened into a divine authority, in concurrence with our own temper and inclination.”
If many folks at NPR could be like the CBC, or the BBC (forced licensing fees since WWII), I’m guessing they would.
True Story: Over a decade ago, there was a story on one of the local Seattle NPR stations I haven’t been able to track down (Seattle or Olympia). The topic was toys imported from China; some potential problems with toxicity.
There was one interviewee. She was neither lawyer nor doctor, nor chemist. She didn’t work in politics, nor in trade policy. She didn’t work in the toy business and didn’t know about freight/transport/toy sales. She might have had a child, but that seemed to be about the extent of knowledge. She had some interesting potential facts and information, but that was about it.
‘This is curious,’ I thought, ‘why is she on the air?‘
Dear Reader, she was an activist.
NPR ethics policy update: Journalists can now participate in activities that advocate for “freedom and dignity of human beings” on social media and in real life. https://t.co/oLe7PSffJj pic.twitter.com/vcLmRhyHgW— kellymcb (@kellymcb) July 29, 2021
An activist is someone who becomes active. Activists activate. Becoming morally and emotionally engaged on some topic or other, for activists, is a good thing. Virtuous, even. Activists have had enough. Activists, of The People, stand up and speak for The People. Activists are in a kind of war with the world as it is, with injustice, and activists are always busy going to war with the truth and knowledge they have, against their enemies.
Whatever your thinking and/or experiences, Dear Reader, inevitably, some questions arise.
What if the activist is wrong? What if the activist has bad or missing information? Would a such a person as the activist, with the incentives and passion of the activist, ever admit to being wrong?
Do they justify violence in the name of their cause?
A bigger problem at NPR: For all my life, before I was born, back when NPR was created in the hoary mists of time and 60’s Civil Rights idealism, the activist has been at the core of their business model. Interview an activist and a guy in the oil industry. Split the difference. Get some jazz musicians and some good photographers and do a money-losing piece on both (I am grateful for these, thanks, NPR). Get a lady from Code Pink in here along with Senator so-and-so to mainline some pure democracy into the discussion.
Well, the activist capture is clearly catching up with them (along with a failing business model).
As this blog has been arguing for over a decade, there might not be much stable ground beneath liberal idealism, enough to maintain the consent of the governed and legitimate moral authority.
The problems run deep.
If you think, as I do, that human nature generally needs to be constrained, that we have a good Constitutional model to do so, and that Christian thinking (to be viewed with profound skepticism) at least prohibits violence in principle, then the activist model is to be viewed with profound skepticism.
Many of the true and good causes have already devolved into rackets (much Black activist leadership, the ACLU, Civil Rights). Look no further than the think-tank and activist Right to see that such devolution is probably inevitable.
If you can’t see that your own idealism is a point-of-view, then you’ve consigned yourself to be surprised and perhaps, attacked, by thought which disagrees.
Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy:
‘Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people”:
First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.
Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.’
This is what I think many New Atheists, Men Of System, Men of Reason, Rationalists/Idealists so often miss: A lot of what human nature is, is capable of, even, can’t necessarily be molded by you. At least not in the short and mid-term and not according to many current plans. Where you put your thinking is where your hopes follow. If you find yourself hating what humanity is, then your ideas aren’t good enough to understand humanity.
And they are certainly not good enough to be in authority.
A lot of what motivates those who want change is mobilized resentment against current authority, and this passes for everything that is ‘good.’
You don’t get to speak for all of the public. You don’t get to presume to curate the arts and sciences. You have to survive in a free market, with free speech.
That seems fair to me.
What about you?
The dash of a Ranchero:
‘More generally, the duty not to offend the vulnerable classes today in speech has been codified as the amorphous thing called ‘political correctness,’ and such codification makes the codifiers our masters whom we must obey not because it is the law, but because they are our masters. Such is a servile relationship. Codification of this kind removes the situational freedom with which citizens in what is recognizably a civil relationship ought to be free to respond to each other.’
Minogue, Kenneth. The Servile Mind: How Democracy Erodes The Moral Life. Encounter Books, 900 Broadway, Suite 601, New York, New York, 10003. 2010. Print. Pg 7.
“Public opinion, I am sorry to say, will bear a great deal of nonsense. There is scarcely any absurdity so gross, whether in religion, politics, science or manners, which it will not bear.”
“Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. He who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or decisions possible or impossible to execute.”
Maybe wisdom can be spun out of quotation sites.
Dirda reviews this biography of Julian Hawthorne.
Did you know Hawthorne had a son who wrote for Hearst and rubbed shoulders with Twain?:
‘Over the course of his long life, Julian Hawthorne seems to have met every major literary and public figure of his time. As a child, he sometimes listened in as his father conversed with Emerson, Thoreau and Melville. At birthday parties, he played games with little Louisa May Alcott.’
Also from Michael Dirda, check out his visit to ‘Mencken Day’ in Baltimore:
‘We stayed for the afternoon talk-in which Richard Schrader revealed how slanted and inaccurate Mencken’s account of the Scopes evolution trial had been…’
The business of monkeys…
I’m often returned to the simple pleasures of bookishness while reading Dirda.
From a previous piece at the Times Literary Supplement (subscription required):
“As a student of his native literature, Mencken favours writers with the authentic American yawp – Walt Whitman and Mark Twain, the humorists George Ade and Ring Lardner. Huckleberry Finn is the novel he loves most (followed, somewhat surprisingly, by Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim). He judges Emerson to be overrated – “an importer of stale German elixirs, sometimes direct and sometimes through the Carlylean branch house”. He can’t bear the circumlocutions of Henry James and the gentility of William Dean Howells”
Elixirs and ideas Roger Scruton At The New Atlantis: ‘Scientism In The Arts & Humanities’ From Scientific Blogging: ‘The Humanities Are In Crisis-Science Is Not’ Repost-Adam Kirsch At The New Republic: ‘Art Over Biology’…Repost-Stanley Fish At The NY Times Blog: ‘The Last Professors: The Corporate Professors And The Fate Of The Humanities’
Menand wonders in his new book, why it often can take 9 years for a humanities PhD to get their doctorate. He suggests part of the answer lies in the numbers: fewer opportunities and fewer university programs since 1970. Overtrained and underpaid.
Who’s going to be in charge of political decision-making in a world of limited resources? Environmental activists, true-believers, bureaucrats?
Measure people by outcomes, not intentions.
What choices you have, it’s probably time to exercise them.
Germany’s renewables experiment is over.
By 2025 it will have spent $580B to make electricity nearly 2x more expensive & 10x more carbon-intensive than France’s.
The reason renewables can’t power modern civilization is because they were never meant to. https://t.co/zHwRTePEoI
— Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) July 2, 2019
Via a reader:
I’d like to remind folks that Peace Pavilion West, an Eco-Romantic Human Collective Going Back To Nature and Forward Towards Progress, is still accepting applications.
-Would you like to live in your OWN ecopodment as part of a living, working Community?
-Does 1,200 calories of guaranteed bug-paste and 8 glasses of fresh spring water a day sound good to you?
-Close your eyes: The day’s field labor is done. Honest sweat and natural musk mix with memory. Your mind, body and soul begin to rise towards the Cosmos, as each Community member joins hands, chanting Earthsong at dusk:
At Peace Pavilion West, Christians are invited to join us in our large, canvas bag. Ablute yourselves with the waters of Gaia.
— Chris Navin (@chris_navin) March 24, 2020
At Peace Plaza East, Skype yoga connects bodies in time & space. Postmodern emotional Selves fuse with technological achievement. Poetry & Science, East & West, Individual & Collective…all unite within One Grand Historical Narrative Of Liberation.
— Chris Navin (@chris_navin) March 26, 2020
Related On This Site:
From the public square to the Natural World:
Mike Shellenberger on his new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.
As previously posted, ‘Do Children Cause Global Warming?‘
‘Across all cultures, raising a child is considered one of the most rewarding things a person can do. Yet a chorus of campaigners, scientists, and journalists suggest that everyone should think twice before procreating.’
Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’
“Only when humans are again permitted to build authentic urbanism — those cities, towns, and villages that nurture us by their comforts and delights — will we cease the despoiling of Nature by escaping to sprawl.”
Bjorn Lomborg is skeptical of ‘Earth Hour’ in Blinded By The Light. Go towards the light.
Ronald Bailey At Reason: ‘Delusional in Durban’…A Few Links On Environmentalism And Liberty…From The WSJ-A Heated Exchange: Al Gore Confronts His Critics…From The Literary Review–Weather Channel Green Ideology: Founder John Coleman Upset….The Weather Channel’s Green Blog: A Little Too Green