End Federal Funding For The Arts? From The New Criterion: ‘Who Supports The Arts?’ Plus Richard Serra’s ‘Tilted Arc’ & An Old Vincent Gallo Interview

Full piece here.

‘But step back a moment. Would ending federal, i.e., taxpayer, i.e., your, money on entities like the NEA, the NEH, and the CPB be a bad thing?’

Here are two good reasons in favor of ending Federal funding:

  1. You will likely aid in making better art.  Universities, museums and institutions don’t necessarily get along with the creative genius, nor in making something new.  In fact, such institutions can stifle creativity by rewarding and amplifying current tastes and entrenching public sentiment into reefs, creating additional hurdles for talent to get where it’s going.  State money, furthermore, is not a necessary condition of good art.  In fact, it may be a necessary condition of bad art [addition: we can probably say that bad art is everywhere, but there’s rarely great art coming out of Federally funded programs].
  2. Incentives matter: The self-interested, ideologically driven and less-talented will have incentives to control the Federal bureaucracy and politicize the arts.  They’re out there, and if you reward them with cash and status, you’ll get more of them (bad artists, ideologues, politicians and bureaucrats in an unholy cycle of Badness).

No one can speak for all the public, not even the artistic genius.  Art-curators, docents, specialists and critics can do good [for art], but sometimes they can do bad. Individual talent, tradition, hard-work, groups of people, ideas, money and opportunities all matter, but how much exactly, is anyone’s guess.

Richard Serra was commissioned to put a piece in Federal Plaza, paid for the public, and some people didn’t like it.

It was removed.  Serra felt railroaded.  There was a lot of press and drama.

Pretty relevant, I’d say:

Also, this Vincent Gallo interview is funny as hell:

He takes the critics on while wearing an awesome USA track-suit:

Related On This Site:  Repost-From Poemshape: ‘Let Poetry Die’

They’ve got to keep up with the times:A Few Thoughts On NPR And Current Liberal Establishment Thinking Under Obama

 Ken Burns makes a good documentary, but he’s also arguing he absolutely needs your tax dollars in service of what he assumes to be a shared definition of the “common good” as he pursues that art.  The market just can’t support it otherwise. Repost-From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?…We’re already mixing art and politics, so…
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Here’s a suggestion to keep aesthetic and political judgements apart-Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

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From 2 Blowhards-We Need The Arts: A Sob Story…A museum industrial complex…more complexes…who are the people museums should be serving? James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’

Less Muddleheadedness At Middlebury, Please

48 Middlebury professors have signed the following document (WSJ paywall warning…speech on public affairs and civil discourse ain’t necessarily free).

Standing-up for J.S. Mill’s basic insights based upon his moral foundations will probably only be used by many Left-leaning radical types in times of crisis…if the rest of us are so lucky:

Here’s to hoping such principled moral courage occurs ALL THE TIME, not just when violence erupts after decades of tacit approval and non-confrontation, or when there’s bad PR and embarrassment all around.

Charles Murray’s account here.

Furthermore, as previously and often posted:

“First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.’

‘Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied. ‘

‘Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds. ‘

And not only this, but, fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: the dogma becoming a mere formal profession, inefficacious for good, but cumbering the ground, and preventing the growth of any real and heartfelt conviction, from reason or personal experience.”

-John Stuart Mill ‘On Liberty: Chapter II-Of The Liberty Of Thought And Discussion’

See the previous post.The Intellectual Cowardice Of The Crowd-Charles Murray At Middlebury College

Saturday Quotation-Jerry Pournelle

As previously and consistently posted-Thanks to a reader. 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.’

I’d add this:  Bureaucratic elements exist within companies, of course, but, sooner or later, such elements are subject to market forces (if there ain’t too much collusion with lawmakers).

Decisions made within companies often receive more direct feedback (monthly and quarterly reports), customer feedback (client management is key) and competitive threats (Company B across town risked some money/time and invested in data analytics which now sets the industry standard) etc.

The disruptive forces within bureaucracies often tend to be internal (opposing blocs at odds with the bureaucratic elements), or enough free people who won’t subject themselves to the bureaucracy and/or or whose self-interest works against those in current control of the bureaucracy.

Unfortunately, many bureaucracies end with a political defeat and/or the entire collapse of the political economy.

-Bureaucrats and idealists, as well-meaning and hard-working as some may be, often find themselves unable to escape the inertia of the systems they’ve helped to create, incentivized to spend other people’s money on other people.

-Via friesian.com, a cold but humorous eye: The Practical Rules Of Bureaucracy.

One problem here lies in getting how people actually behave wrong, or overlooking the self-interested nature of so much human motivation and action, while still recognizing one’s moral obligations to other people and the intractability of so much human suffering and so many human problems.

Naturally, I think pretty highly of myself, and aim to operate under the ideas that none of us is selfless, none of us has special possession of universal truths (some are wiser than others), and none can design systems from the top down that work for everyone.

This world being what it is, I have resigned myself to the idea of there being some bureaucracy, but constant vigilance and vigorous freedom is required to even sustain some of it.

A Henry Kissinger quote found here.

“The purpose of bureaucracy is to devise a standard operating procedure which can cope effectively with most problems.  A bureaucracy is efficient if the matters which it handles routinely are, in fact, the most frequent and if its procedures are relevant to their solution.  If those criteria are met, the energies of the top leadership are freed to deal creatively with the unexpected occurrence or with the need for innovation.  Bureaucracy becomes an obstacle when what it defines as routine does not address the most significant range of issues or when its prescribed mode of action proves irrelevant to the problem.”

and:

“Moreover, the reputation, indeed the political survival, of most leaders depends on their ability to realize their goals, however these may have been arrived at.  Whether these goals are desireable is relatively less crucial.”

Kissinger, Henry. American Foreign Policy:  Three Essays.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.  1969.

Speech And The Desire To Control The Language, Thoughts And Minds Of Others-Jordan Peterson Talking With Gad Saad

We are seeing some people in the social sciences use quantitative methodologies to try and understand what’s been going on in many universities, with regard to political philosophy, ideology, and collectivist movements.

The modern fields of psychology, evo and moral psychology, sociology, economics, etc all now seem to have practitioners addressing some threats that (R)eason enthroned can pose to all of our liberties, or at least, the radical and revolutionary ideologues who often profess Reason/Anti-Reason as their guide; seeking immediate social change and influence.

What kinds of people join social justice movements and believe/claim to believe righteously and truly in such causes?   How much of what they say is true?

How might they fit into a broader framework of ‘-isms,’ often seeking radical equality (of outcome) and collective liberation from dominatory oppression?  What potential cost is there to all of our liberties, traditions, and institutions regarding this particular raft of ideas?

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Intellectually, as this blog has noted, there is often a watered-down Hegelianism at work in many movements seeking radical and revolutionary freedom (the master/slave dialectic and the absolute idealism providing intellectual foundation for much of what is called cultural relativism these days, which provided foundation for the Marxism and post-Marxism found in such movements).

Here’s Peterson being questioned by a group as to the merits of his ideas:


As to demands for the use of non-gendered pronouns (which is currently trending): I will say that I have sympathy for people on the margins, people with few options and not many opportunities,  people who face uphill battles, and sometimes genuine threats of physical violence.

That said, I don’t enjoy the idea of playing a game I can’t win.  More speech, not less, is the means to arrive at more truth. Allowing the people you actually fear the freedom to express their ideas allows more sunlight into civil society. I loathe the use of force and the desire to control the thoughts, language and minds of others.

I loathe it even more when it is used as part of a program which attacks our institutions and the legitimate authority required to maintain our institutions, and thus, many of our freedoms.

I most loathe it when it is used to treat other individuals as objects of scorn and oppression, or to shout them down in righteous anger.

Have you learned nothing?

***One rebuttal to the above, of course, would be Hayekian:  There is no knowledge that would allow any person or group of persons to centrally plan a language any more than there is knowledge for anyone to centrally plan an economy (yes, you can compile a dictionary a la Samuel Johnson but, no, Esperanto is probably something of a top-down, rationalistic pipe-dream).


As to those Canadian Human Rights Commissions, as previously posted:

Here are {Ezra} Levant’s opening statements during his investigation:

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Levant was fighting what he saw as an infringement upon his freedom of speech by the Human Rights Commission of Alberta. As editor of the Western Standard, Levant published the Danish cartoons of Mohammed, and found himself investigated by, in his words, “a kangaroo court.”

Originally, a letter was written by Syed Soharwardy, an imam living in Alberta, to the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Soharwardy claimed that the cartoons were morally offensive to the religion of Islam. Levant believed his decision to publish the cartoons was protected by Canadian law, and that Soharwardy found a path to legal action (at the expense of Canadian taxpayers) through the Human Rights Commission because no one else would take Soharwardy’s claims seriously.

One of Levant’s main concerns seems to be the the way in which someone like Soharwardy, (with unchallenged religious beliefs, and illiberal ideas of social freedom), has infringed upon his freedoms through an institution like the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

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Heading towards a theme, here’s Mark Steyn discussing complaints brought against Macleans, Canada’s largest publication, by the President of the Canadian Islamic Congress (who sent three representatives) to TVOntario. They were upset at the pieces Steyn had published there. The complaints went through the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for alleged “Islamophobia” and “promoting hate:”

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Pretty heated.

Again, the focus here is not whether Islam is a religion whose followers would eventually clash with the idea of separation of church and state, and/or identify with a larger global pan-Muslim population at the expense of their adopted countries. That’s a different debate. We know that here in America, they are granted a space created by our Constitution for freedom of religion in the public square and no specific religious test for office. They must follow our laws and are protected by them. Living and working alongside one another has its benefits and I generally favor the melting pot approach.

The debate here focuses on the effect that multiculturalism, the human rights crowd, and the public sentiment behind them can have upon freedom of expression when Human Rights Commissions are allowed legal recourse to settle this kind of dispute. This is one of the consequences of those ideas in action, and it’s not exactly liberal. It’s the multicultural solution, and it can be absolutely chilling on speech, placing onerous financial burdens on citizens, and it can create a sort of shadow court with aims of its own (if not jurisdiction) operating alongside the regular courts.

We’re not anywhere near Choudary territory yet, but remember that Nidal Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter, had some problems with “workplace violence”. Most multiculturalists really don’t see a problem with their approach.

***A friend points out that the illiberal tendencies of the Muslim complainants in both cases and the illiberalism of the multiculturalists is a good fit. Just don’t be a Canadian on the receiving end.

***This also helps to confirm the libertarian contention that libertarians are the true classical liberals, and modern liberalism has followed the logic of moral relativism, a lot of Continental, New Left, neo-Marxist influences in feminism and race theory which lead to an unhealthy desire to control and be controlled by the State, which will grow larger and larger.

Also On This Site: From The BBC-Kurt Westergaard: ‘Cartoonist Attacker In Danish Court’

Repost-From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’

Virtual Philosophy has a series on free speech and some links and notes to J.S. Mill’s ‘On Liberty’ among others. Is Mill’s utilitarianism enough?: From virtual philosopher: ‘Free Speech: notes and links for course at Free Word Centre’

A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea…as a more entrenched radical British Left and Muslim immigration don’t mix too well: From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’

Free speech (used both well and unwell) meets offended Muslims: Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks HeadbuttedDuring Lecture’From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’

Repost-Eugene Volokh At The National Review: ‘Multiculturalism: For or Against?’Theodore Dalrymple Still Attacking Multi-Culturalism In BritainFrom The Volokh Conspiracy: Multiculturalism As A Traditional American Value

Organizing For Action?-Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘What Erdogan’s Pivot To Putin Really Means’

Mead here:

‘The issues in Syria are difficult and the alternatives are few, but President Obama’s Syria policy is one of the shabbiest and sorriest displays of serial ineptitude that has unfolded in world politics in all these many years.’

Assad is still there…

My long-winded, critical take: Many bad actors claim to honor the rules of the ‘international community’ while continuing to pursue their aims, which often work against any such definition of said ‘community’ many in the West would like to see.  The Moscow/Tehran/Damascus alliance has strengthened considerably, while the Syrian conflict has continued.

Of course, acquiring deliverable nukes doesn’t just potentially conflict with American interests, but against the professed ideals of those claiming to currently speak for the ‘international community’ within American leadership. American interests are still primarily bankrolling (blood and treasure) much of the ‘international community’s’ ability to influence bad actors.

It’s not clear to me current American policy will stop the Iranian regime from trying to get where, quite apparently, it wants to be.  In trading the previous negative constraints (sanctions, threat of force), for such weak affirmative restraints (the current deal), this may have simply deleveraged American advantage for little ‘yield’.

It’d be nice to be wrong.  I’m listening.

A potentially useful analogy: The American military could be analogous to the police in Dallas, or St Louis, or Boston:  They still have to protect and serve American citizens but they’ve been brought to heel under the scrutiny of activist logic.

Such logic incentivizes a lot of people, including bad actors, without much in the way of constraints upon behavior, except in joining the activist’s cause or the activist’s definition of ‘community’ in de-legitimizing current traditions and institutions, and in often dehumanizing ‘others’.  The American military, much like the police in Dallas, St Louis, or Boston, are still responsible for dealing with bad actors who wish to do them (and us) harm, but their risk has gone way up, while their legitimacy has gone way down (and our legitimacy wasn’t great before Obama).

***I suspect anti-American interests will keep doing what they can to maximize advantage in the meantime (Putin is a prime example), while interests that could align with American interests may look around for other strong-horses.  Situational logic applies in decisions that could be a matter of life and death for smaller players (you’ve got to cozy up to someone, maybe just to keep ’em off you). More strongly allied nations will likely wait around and quietly diversify their portfolios.

At home, putting an activist at the helm has tacked American policy/politics Leftward, and may well create more hawkish Democrats, neo-conservatives, and conservatives both angry/disconsolate at this state of affairs, looking to carve out a path forward in reaction and response.

Populist anger and political dysfunction don’t tend to make for great foreign policy.

Let me know what/how much I’ve got wrong.

Via A Reader: Walter Russell Mead On The Steve Paikin Show…

Is Barack Obama A Realist?

Addition: Link sent in to a Ben Domenech piece at The Federalist: ‘Reject Naive Foreign Policy, Whatever Its Source

At Google-Lawrence Wright’s Discussion Of Al Qaeda In ‘The Looming Tower’

Lawrence Wright offered a decent profile of many Al Qaeda top-men in ‘The Looming Tower.

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!

Wright piece on Al Qaeda’s number two man, Ayman Al-Zawahiri.

Some of Roger Scruton’s essays here. Interesting quote in this video, which may line-up with Wright’s observations about the pursuit of purity, and how it tends to end:

‘Universal values only make sense in a very specific context…the attempt to universalize them, or project and impose them…just leads to their appropriation by sinister forces.”

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Feel free to highlight my ignorance.

[Addition]: Of course, what do we do in defense against people who want to kill us where we live, whose ideals are fairly deluded and corrupted from the start?

Related On This Site: From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”

Roger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’

Rape Is Still Too Important A Crime To Leave To Ideologues

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.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent-Cathy Young at WaPo:  ‘Stop Calling Nate Parker A Rapist

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.

Related On This Site: Cathy Young At Minding The Campus: ‘The Brown Case: Does It Still Look Like Rape?

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.

Are You Man Enough? Nussbaum v. MansfieldFrom The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

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

Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?

From The NY Times: ‘Harvard Business School Case Study: Gender Equity’