I think the red-headed girl’s reaction is what jokes are for.
Addition: Oh yes, it’s vulgar.
One of the better ways to deal with Antifa.
Does a public park belong to the loudest, most violent people in it?
Upsides of political idealism: Identify an injustice–>Organize like minds on the issue, forming a political coalition–>Peaceably assemble and protest within our Constitutional framework–>Pursue the truth and use your speech to persuade, as many people as possible, for as long as possible, eventually drafting new legislation.
It ain’t easy but it can be done. No one can fully right past wrongs. Not all new laws are good laws. Oh, the suffering.
The downsides of political idealism: Individuals, especially groups of individuals, identify with what they’re against as much as what they’re for. Politics occurs in a world of limited resources, is factional, and often divides as much as unites. Human ignorance is pretty much the rule, not the exception.
I see a lot of rapid change, and continued pressure and buckling of our political parties and many of our institutions, and some kind of new secular, religious ‘woke’ glue now binding many of the cracks.
Under the presumed universal ideals of (M)an, (H)umanity, Enlightenment (R)eason and Atheism (in which I have a foot), travel political ideals like (D)emocracy, (P)eace) and (E)quality.
Beneath (D)emocratic idealists are many Democratic (S)ocialists, nihilists, anti-fascists, anarchists, and people who just want to tear a functioning democracy down.
Beneath (P)eace idealists are people behaving…not so peacefully.
Beneath the (E)quality idealists are various ‘-Ismologists’ (race, gender, anti-human, anti-Nature environmentalists) who only see the world through narrow ideological lenses, full of many questionable knowledge and truth claims about reality and human nature, perfectly willing to take control of our existing institutions until they bring about utopia.
Don’t be like this lady.
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).
People have been warning against this stuff for awhile.
The levers used to drive change within the West come with many destructive and destabilizing consequences. I’m generally sympathetic to the lenses Douglas Murray uses to view current events:
Many mainstream publications and outlets now help to promote an ideological vision which justifies violence, upheaval, and radical change. You’re either part of the problem, or part of the solution. You’re either for today’s righteous moral crusaders or against today’s righteous moral crusaders.
Violence is justified against you, by individuals swarming in a mob, because you’re preventing (M)an from moving towards his (H)istorical ends, the (P)eople rising up against the (O)pressor and (F)ascism, creating the utopia (no place) to come.
The authorities won’t necessarily protect life and property, so Main Street could become lawless:
Many universities and foundations, governmental and corporarate bureaucracies, now harbor similar ideas within them. Policies, programs, novels and articles are spun out of knowledge claims which generally don’t hold up, drowning out the pursuit of truth.
Many tech platforms are following similar logic (Youtube is mainstreaming and monetizing).
A ‘Unity‘-making American Left cohort has splintered away, in order to defend freedom of speech, a more working-man Left, and the pursuit of truth through the mathematical sciences. I don’t share in these political views, but I’m guessing a decent middle could be built here.
Ted Cruz is a Constitutional Conservative (U.S. Senator) and Eric Weinstein is what I’m calling a New, New Left independent thinker (pro speech, pro-mathematical sciences, pro-change, anti-identity).
A classically liberal cohort, to which I’m more sympathetic, is also pushing against the collectivist, identitarian politickers, and will remain prime targets for radicals. Liberals often didn’t stand up to the ’68 radicals in American universities, and often don’t now, but there’s always hope.
I’m guessing Great Britain, with it’s more entrenched class structure and particular history, is further Left than the U.S. on many of these issues, but as to how to push back against the ideological capture within institutions, this isn’t a bad example:
And if you have any small ‘c’ conservative political views…bless your heart:
‘Quit talking bad about women, homosexuals, and preferred social minorities, and you can say anything you want about people who haven’t been to college, manual workers, country people, peasants, religious people, unmodern people, old people, and so on.’
‘Here our account of the disposition to be conservative and its current fortunes might be expected to end, with the man in whom this disposition is strong, last seen swimming against the tide, disregarded not because what he has to say is necessarily false but because it has become irrelevant; outmanoeuvred, not on account of any intrinsic demerit but merely by the flow of circumstance; a faded, timid, nostalgic character, provoking pity as an outcast and contempt as a reactionary. Nevertheless, I think there is something more to be said. Even in these circumstances, when a conservative disposition in respect of things in general is unmistakably at a discount, there are occasions when this disposition remains not only appropriate, but supremely so; and there are connections in which we are unavoidably disposed in a conservative direction.’
Oakeshott, Michael. Rationalism In Politics And Other Essays. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1991. Print.
“Those who speak most of progress measure it by quantity and not by quality.”
If you have an ideology, a loosely connected set of doctrines and ideas, built upon revolutionary ‘praxis’ and radical liberation, you also have a place to put your moral sentiments and judgments about reality and the world.
Where your thoughts go, so tend to go your habits, character and beliefs. You are cleared to act in the world.
Human beings, likely at the structural level, require profound concepts to make sense of reality and the world, as well as our own sensory apparatus, emotions and desires.
Messianic, Manichean and Millenarian doctrines of revolutionary praxis and liberation (moral, sexual, political), generally propose tearing down everything which exists, usually towards the aim of liberation, without necessarily replacing our current institutions with anything.
This is fine if you don’t mind generally dysfunctional institutions, more easily exerting unaccountable power (fulfilling the prophecy).
Some people in the modern world are following ideas which haven’t addressed the hard problems of maintaining moral legitimacy in positions of authority, nor reasonable mastery of one’s (S)elf and the passions, creating adult human beings.
Peter Hitchens used to be a Bolshevik, and his late brother Christopher Hitchens a Trotskyist (I’m speculating that some gruesome family tragedy might be at play).
Such youthful radicalism has tilted him back towards religious conservatism in Britain:
Failure to recognize these deep human problems, at the personal and political levels, and the consquences of the ideas in play, are, what I see as a failure of many custodians of our current institutions.
The Human Nature and Nature problems are still in play, such as they always have been.
James Lindsay helps to clarify some intellectual strands of the radical, revolutionary, and more pedestrian postmodern types, and how such thinkers and ideas are exerting pressure upon all of us.
Why do antifa members believe they have the right to justified violence, and how has the space for them in civil society been created and supported at the highest levels?:
I also tweeted this Haidt quote last night. Not only did a lot of people in the replies share Haidt’s pessimism, but quite a few said that they thought thirty years was being too optimistic, and that the collapse would occur before then.https://t.co/837tiZY1Rw
One thing which has struck me about the varying protests–>riots–>violence in American cities is the lack of political leadership, institutional strength and public sentiment required to address them. A lot of political actors and voting Americans apparently share overlap with the ideas leading many people into the streets.
Such events also seem localized and inchoate, pretty continuous in Portland and Seattle (many more Antifa), and in Chicago over the weekend, pretty indicative of the problems Chicago’s had for a long time regarding race relations, political corruption and crime.
Of course, many people are looking to our political leadership, institutions and broad public sentiment to address these issues at the moment, finding questionable leadership, overbuilt institutions and bands of unsatisfyingly balkanized public sentiment.
It looks as though we have systemic issues and lot of fluid change going on, and it’s getting more and more difficult to remain reasonable about what politics can do with the passions and loyalties it inspires.
Some years ago, now, Walter Russell Mead was arguing that the blue progressive social model was unsustainable (I suppose the red would be too, to some extent, on this view). The government can’t prop up what has been lost with unsustainable spending and a vastly increased Federal project. Mead thought we needed a new liberalism since the old had diffused itself upon the loss of manufacturing, private sector jobs and globalization.
It would seem Donald Trump disagrees about the role of the coal and oil industries, manufacturing, and what globalization means for an American worker he sees himself representing as President (peeling off many working folks, and some ‘minorities’ from the excesses of identity politics with economic growth populism).
Mead finishes with:
‘We’ve wasted too many years arguing over how to retrieve the irretrievable; can we please now get on with the actual business of this great, liberal, unapologetically forward-looking nation.’
Perhaps more liberal attitudes are becoming more prevalent in American society, or at least perhaps there is a waning of religious conservatism and Christianity in the public square.
I’m having trouble imagining how traditional belief will get along with the products of (R)eason, rationalism, materialism, determinism and atheism under some kind of big-tent (L)iberal project.
Strange bedfellows, anyways. This would seem especially so amongst progressive true-believers and practitioners of radical identity politics.
Charles Kesler took at look at how he thought Obama might have understood himself back before the election of 2012.
That is to say, Kesler envisions a liberal tradition bubbling-up during the administrations of Woodrow Wilson to FDR, LBJ through Obama.
During Obama’s fourth-wave liberalism, then, there there were visible ‘postmodern’ strands and Civil Rights strands. There were blessedly more evolutionary anti-history Hegelian historicist strands over revolutionary Marxist strands.
‘We Are The Change We’ve Been Waiting For‘ may be preferable to ‘Peace, Bread & Land.‘
Personally, I still think we’re on a longer trend-line towards more Continental problems, but, frankly, there’s high variability in such a prediction.
On Mead’s thinking, libertarians who point out the lessons of Hayek’s ‘The Road to Serfdom‘, and Straussian conservatives who follow Strauss‘ end run around nihilism/moral relativism, and the three crises of modernity, may not be necessary. We’ve not arrived at these particular problems of Continental Europe.
“Despite the pleas from those who live and work inside Capitol Hill for law and order to be restored, Seattle’s city council has determined that CHAZ should continue. On Tuesday, the city even provided upgrades to CHAZ, including street blockades that double as graffiti canvases, along with cleaning services and porta-potties.
It is difficult to decipher what CHAZ occupants want. Each faction, whether liberal, Marxist or anarchist, has their own agenda. But one online manifesto posted on Medium demands no less than the abolishment of the criminal justice system.”
My two cents: To give you a flavor of Seattle politics, there has been an avowed Socialist (born in India) on the City Council for a few years now, a Marxist of sorts (born in Africa), writing for The Stranger, and maybe, Dear Reader, just check out Yesler Terrace. It says a lot more than I could.
In Seattle then, there’s a globally aspiring green, pink and red politics which runs the city (pretty insane), fighting it out with a rather muscular system of free-flowing capital and trade (Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, a big port), a rather mild, perhaps Left-Of-Center working-man, garage-band ethos (fishing, boat-building, timber, code, grunge etc), and some very laid-back attitudes. Seattle’s not the most civilized, mature nor cultured place, but it’s got some real advantages.
As for CHAZ or CHOP: Capitol Hill has always seemed like a slowly unfolding protest to me. Now it’s been kicked-up a few notches. The general ethos there, for better or worse, is alternative, counter-culture, anti-establishment, and ‘liberatory.’
It’s unsurprising to me, then, that Seattle’s current Mayor (responsible for law enforcement) supports undercutting the laws she’s required to enforce because she shares overlap with the ideas of anarchists, radicals, revolutionaries and some violent and dangerous lawbreakers in her vision of democratic leadership. Everything must go!
For as long as I can remember, Capitol Hill has been autonomous – it’s always been a place where people go to express themselves freely. Today at the #CHAZ, I spoke with organizers and community about how we can move forward and keep our communities safe, together. pic.twitter.com/XhtXHiIl9K
Will this be good for her re-election chances? It’s possible.
The sad thoughts which come to me: However this little experiment ends, it will cost. There will be some lives, property, many businesses, the time and energy of thousands.
Even if many residents and businesses do decide to sue the City and the Mayor’s Office for being stuck in CHOP, it’s still taxpayer money. It won’t just be the deep pockets paying, but the time, money and decency of everyone deciding to honorably carry something which doesn’t require destroying everything that exists first.
On that note, if you’re interested in a more philosophical discussion, on many schools of postmodern thought, the nihilism of Nietzsche, collectivism, and the politics of identity, Stephen Hicks is worth a listen:
The ideas of free will and individual responsibility are generally not shared by those with a collectivist, identity-driven worldview:
And even as Mill’s utilitarianism can end-up sacrificing a few individuals for some greater good, the intersectional and identity-politics ideas sacrifice individuals at the start.
Yes, this was coming, and it’s still coming. The radical roots are very unstable foundations upon which to maintain democratic institutions:
The idea of the ‘Splinternet’, being discussed in many quarters, is interesting. Networks of global online collaboration, personally and professionally, are easily overshadowed by larger divergent and conflicting political, national and legal interests (China, The EU, America).
Here’s a refreshing jolt of Scottish insight and depressive realism for you (don’t know if I know enough to know about how much I think is true). A lot of the problems in the tail need to be analyzed.
Dear Reader, if you’re thinking belief doesn’t matter, please check out what can happen to people when they come in and out of hope, attached to deeper system of belief, even if that system is generally an ideology with debatable epistemological roots.
Of course there are always violent knuckleheads at such events, but it’s remarkable how many people find themselves sharing common intellectual ground:
What you personally think is true, and what you know, can profoundly affect your experiences and the decisions you make. This bleeds into the thousands of daily judgments your make, moral and otherwise.
Rod Dreher (formerly Catholic, currently Orthodox, religiously conservative but often writing for a liberal mainstream) brings up a former piece of his on Ta Nehisi Coates’ popularized racial identity separatism: ‘Amy Cooper, Race, And Mercy’
‘He [Coates] set himself up to be disillusioned because he expected of liberalism something it couldn’t deliver. (“To expect too much is to have a sentimental view of life and this is a softness that ends in bitterness.” — Flannery O’Connor). He really seems to have thought that we were moving inexorably to the elimination of that particular evil in this world.’ And we are!
To some extent, a Marxist or post-Marxist framework has won many minds, including those viewing the world primarily through the ‘-Isms’ (feminism, environmentalism, racism, liberation theology, a politics prioritizing collective identity, constant radical overthrow of anything established).
Change becomes an immediate necessity, and any injustice, or perceived injustice, becomes an actionable reality. Any established tradition, practice, or responsibility someone else has decided to carry becomes oppressive.
Unfortunately, such a view, mainstream in many quaraters, never really condemns violence in pursuit of its aims.
Why did law enforcement allow these cells to proliferate across the US? Professional agitators exploit local communities and use justified anger to further divide all of us – when they say: “All good cops are dead cops” they mean black and Hispanic cops too – ask them. I did. https://t.co/IC6iw3kEtu
If identity politics is a watered-down form of Marxism [quite a bit of truth in this] then some Leftists are advocating a return to more pure Marxism, in the face of institutional weakness and capture (‘woke’ elites, competitive globalism and flabby, high liberal institutionalism, ‘neo-liberals’ etc.). A lot of the industrial utopianism Marx advocated (dependent upon and reactive to Hegelian (H)istoricism and a ridiculously reductive materialism), is easily transferable to computing technology and (S)cience.
In America, personally, I believe a more religious, more traditional civil fabric is being eroded in favor of…something else (freedom of speech and religious liberty perhaps no longer enjoying a popular majority).
As for my thinking, the Platonic model found in the Republic (one of many models I’m using), keeps me up at night: Benjamin Jowett’s translation of Plato’s Republic can be found here.
As to politics and social institutions, sent in by a reader, here’s a talk given by John McWhorter about his views in ‘Losing The Race‘, a man who strikes me as politically amorphous, unsatisfyingly moderate for some, and often very sensible. As has been the case for a while, there [are] a whole range of views out there
Monticello. Prints & Photograph Division, Library Of Congress LC-F8-1046
My two cents:
As have done many universities, one by one, many mainstream American publications have taken the logic of social activism on board. Whether as feature or undercard, a certain percentage of the institution’s resources become devoted to negotiations between activists (soft and hard radicals) and points centerward.
Shared claims to knowledge, along with shared political ideals, compel many moderate liberals to unify around blaming any political/social/moral oppostion, even while taking upon the challenge of internal dialog with radicals.
Anti-fascists, of course, derive primary meaning in life from joining an anonymous mob dedicated to driving evil fascists from the public sphere. In my opinion, they deserve the violent embrace of the incredibly small number of actual neo-Nazis and fascists they publicly and continually invoke.
Meanwhile, the rest of us get dragged, to some extent, into framing civilizational norms, rules and expected behavior by semi-incoherent anarchic radicals willing to do violence.
This blog rejects the notion that the civilizational norms, rules and expected behavior should be driven by far-Left radicals and their doppelgangers.
Just as should have been done by many old-liberal guards in the 1960’s, or should be done now by many professionals, politicos, and mainstream publishers, the totalitarian radicals should be pushed from institutional influence and polite society.
I have my doubts about Donald Trump, and the fracturing of conservative coalitions into warring factions under his leadership, and the conditions which have made his election possible.
From where I stand, though, I have even more doubts about liberal and Left coalitions fracturing into an anarchic violent base, Democratic Socialism (one more perfectly equal majoritarian election/uprising should do it), and the neo-liberal and high-liberal secular humanist elite above them.
There’s a lot of failure to go around, and reasons for hope.
Without a stronger moral core, will liberalism necessarily corrode into the soft tyranny of an ever-expanding State?
Since the 60’s, and with a lot of postmodern nihilism making advances in our society, is a liberal politics of consent possible given the dangers of cultivating a kind of majoritarian politics: Dirty, easily corrupt, with everyone fighting for a piece of the pie?
As an example, Civil Rights activists showed moral courage and high idealism, to be sure, but we’ve also seen a devolution of the Civil Rights crowd into squabbling factions, many of whom seem more interested in money, self-promotion, influence, and political power.
The 60’s protest model, too, washed over our universities, demanding freedom against injustice, but it has since devolved into a kind of politically correct farce, with comically illiberal and intolerant people claiming they seek liberty and tolerance for all in the name of similar ideals.
Who are they to decide what’s best for everyone? How ‘liberal’ were they ever, really?
Kelley Ross responds to a correspondent on Isaiah Berlin’s value pluralism, while discussing John Gray as well:
‘Now, I do not regard Berlin’s value pluralism as objectionable or even as wrong, except to the extend that it is irrelevant to the MORAL issue and so proves nothing for or against liberalism. Liberalism will indeed recommend itself if one wishes to have a regime that will respect, within limits, a value pluralism. I have no doubt that respecting a considerable value pluralism in society is a good thing and that a nomocratic regime that, mostly, leaves people alone is morally superior to a teleocratic regime that specifies and engineers the kinds of values that people should have. However, the project of showing that such a regime IS a good thing and IS morally superior is precisely the kind of thing that Gray decided was a failure.
Thus, I believe Gray himself sees clearly enough that a thoroughgoing “value pluralism” would mean that the regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini is just as morally justified as the regime of Thomas Jefferson. Gray prefers liberalism (or its wreckage) for the very same reason that the deconstructionist philosopher Richard Rorty prefers his leftism: it is “ours” and “we” like it better. Why Gray, or Rorty, should think that they speak for the rest of “us” is a good question. ‘
and about providing a core to liberalism:
‘Why should the state need a “sufficient rational justificaton” to impose a certain set of values? The whole project of “rational justification” is what Gray, and earlier philosophers like Hume, gave up on as hopeless. All the state need do, which it has often done, is claim that its values are favored by the majority, by the General Will, by the Blood of the Volk, or by God, and it is in business.’
And that business can quickly lead to ever-greater intrusion into our lives:
‘J.S. Mill, etc., continue to be better philosophers than Berlin or Gray because they understand that there must be an absolute moral claim in the end to fundamental rights and negative liberty, however it is thought, or not thought, to be justified. Surrendering the rational case does not even mean accepting the overall “value pluralism” thesis, since Hume himself did not do so. ‘
Are libertarians the true classical liberals? Much closer to our founding fathers?
Assuming that corruption is a natural state in human affairs, exacerbated by politics-as-profession and long-standing economic blight, often gets you closer to the truth. Hello, depressive realism, my old friend.
Many major U.S. City Halls are notoriously corrupt (NYC, Chicago), but let’s face it, many smaller cities and towns can play dirty, too.
‘In Harrisburg, a state audit found that the school district wasted millions on salaries, contracts, and benefits. This follows a two-year probation period served by six-term mayor Stephen Reed, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to stealing artifacts from the capital city’s museum.’
‘A Pennsylvania newspaper once described Reed as a mayor who “never met a bond deal he didn’t like.” Give a politician the chance to pile up debt on favored projects without answering directly to voters, and no one should be surprised if he takes advantage of it. That’s why the history of state and local finance is filled with reform moments.’
Much of this transcends party politics and goes more to political power, bad management and collective fiddling…
‘The Harrisburg School District, so impoverished that the state is helping it dig out of its financial and academic woes, has hit a mother lode of tax dollars, evidently due to several years of financial ineptitude.
In early October the district discovered it had nearly $12 million it didn’t know it had until someone started looking closely at the books.’
Perhaps that money will be put to better use than the incinerator and the Wild West museum boondoggle. Perhaps not.
Walter Russell Mead took a look at similarly bankrupt Jefferson County, Alabama, where Birmingham is located:
‘Will the market still lend to cities after they’ve gone bankrupt?’
Promises made for public employees simply cannot be met in many cases.
Reason used Harrisburg as a model for fiscal failure.
It doesn’t look much like progress to me, if, many mentally-ill, desperate for purpose, communists, socialists, anarchists and the black bloc anti-fascists run roughshod over your city.
If you don’t properly account for human nature, the bad and good in everyone, your model isn’t working. The people running these cities, without lots of growth and trade, would likely run them into the ground with such utopian ideas.
Time to grow up a bit, Portland:
Addition: As a reader points out, I don’t mean to be glib. Violence is serious, especially if it’s happening to you as the police stand-down, but if you’re expecting contrition from folks who are wedded to radical ideology, you can keep expecting.
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.