Michael Moynihan Reviews Russell Brand At The Daily Beast

It can take a village to raise an idiot, and there appears a space in Britain into which sometimes witty, constantly preening and narcissistic performance artist Russell Brand has plopped himself.

After much shameless celebrity-seeking and many attempts to plop himself over here as well (through manic, self-absorbed word and idea play, the performing part, apparently), Brand has also trafficked in thera-speak, victimology, and making self-piteous demands for inclusion of former drug addicts like himself into society through social programs (though, hats off to anyone who’s kicked such habits).

Michael Moynihan reviewed his book so you don’t have to (no, please don’t get up).  ‘Russell Brand’s Revolution For Morons

‘These are sentences that stupid people think are smart; a simple concept brutally assaulted by a thesaurus. When he hits upon a phrase he likes, the reader should prepare to be smothered by it. Scattered throughout Revolution, Brand denounces “the occupants of the bejeweled bus,” “the bejeweled fun bus of privilege,” “the eighty-five occupants of the bejeweled bus of privilege,” “the occupants of the bejeweled bus,” the “bejeweled bus with eighty-four other plutocrats,” and a “bejeweled misogynist making money by moving ice.” The writing isn’t just excruciatingly bad, but exhaustingly repetitive.’

On that note: It’s not the vapid, radical chic Leftist ideology that Brand tries to wave around without much reason…however…Lena Dunham seems at a crossroads of feminism, the celebrity cult of Self (complete with knowing meta-winks at fame), the inwardness of the writer and artist confessing away, as well a lot of wannabe radicalism and warmed-over 60’s bohemian counter-culture.

Kevin Williamson wasn’t too impressed with all the posturing, holding Dunham to her own standards: “Pathetic Privilege.”

I can’t speak to her art, but I think I know why she’s been feted in many quarters.

————

Moving along: Should the culture drift further Left, perhaps one could expect the rather lonely Peter Hitchens-type conservative arguments brought against Brand’s bathos.

Perhaps you don’t entirely agree with Hitchens, but if fewer people believe in the spirit of the laws which criminalize drug-use and possession, and fewer believe in the prosecution of those laws (War On Drugs over here), then a lot of the authority based on the presumption of free will and responsibility aimed for in the law-abiding (applying pressure to never use drugs in the first place, especially the hard ones), is likely significantly eroded.

Russell Brand’s arguments aren’t particularly well-made, but I suspect there’s much more space for them, and for compassion without, perhaps, full consideration of the consequences and a lot of other costs besides.

————-

So, this is just liberalism, right?  It’s not race, it’s class.  It’s not ideology, it’s only science.  Look at all this equality!

See Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic: That Party At Lenny’s… for a rich account of the times

Which Way, Venezuela?-Michael Moynihan At The Daily Beast: ‘No Mas Democracia’Who Needs A Growing Economy, When You’ve Got Solidarity?-Michael Moynihan At The Daily Beast: ‘The Death Of Stalin’s Songbird’

Christopher Hitchens At Slate: Yale Surrenders

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)’

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

Full piece here.

‘The country’s premier business training ground was trying to solve a seemingly intractable problem. Year after year, women who had arrived with the same test scores and grades as men fell behind. Attracting and retaining female professors was a losing battle; from 2006 to 2007, a third of the female junior faculty left.’

If you can’t control risk, probability, nature, and biology, you can try and control other people, the ‘culture’, and get all up in their business schools:

‘He and his classmates had been unwitting guinea pigs in what would have once sounded like a far-fetched feminist fantasy: What if Harvard Business School gave itself a gender makeover, changing its curriculum, rules and social rituals to foster female success?’

American Power link here.

If we go by what the gender equity crowd does, rather than by what they say, the lesson seems how to take an abstract idea like (E)quality, form some sort of organizational/ideological structure out of it, then eventually affix that structure to institutions with deep pockets like the Harvard Business School, and/or the government to achieve desired outcomes.

That’s good business if you can get it.

This blog still predicts that gender feminism is doomed to failure.  Perhaps just as intractable a problem is how many such people have come to run many of our institutions without serious pushback.

Addition:  I always get email on the equity topic.  No, I don’t support douchebaggery, but it’s there, and I try and focus on my own behavior, not on controlling everyone else’s.  No, I’m not anti-woman, I’m anti-forcing the sexes to be the same.  I’ve seen little to no evidence that they are.

Related Links: Christina Hoff Sommers (wikipedia) is trying to replacing gender feminism with equity feminism. She also wrote The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men.

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.’

A very Harvard affair: The Spelke/Pinker debate-The Science Of Gender And Science

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

Harvey Mansfield At The City Journal: ‘Principles That Don’t Change’

Bing West At The American Interest-’Women In Ground Combat’

Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Ron Unz At The American Conservative: ‘The Myth Of American Meritocracy’

Gender feminists are what I take Thomas Sowell to mean by ‘intellectuals:’

———————

These are pretty much the kinds of ideals and policymakers we have in the White House right now:

——————–

Harvey Mansfield, Harvard professor and Straussian discusses feminism:

—————-

***Straussians see America as sliding inexorably into hedonism, backing our way into radical individualism and excessive freedom, drifting towards European nihilism, or the belief in nothing [no possibility of objective knowledge]  Atop this process will pile up the products of reason, or fields of knowledge which claim reason can do much more than it may be able to do.  He includes many of the social sciences, and much of ‘modern’ philosophy.  Here’s the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s Entry:

‘Strauss especially worried about the modern philosophical grounds for political and moral normativity as well as about the philosophical, theological, and political consequences of what he took to be modern philosophy’s overinflated claims for the self-sufficiency of reason.’

According to Strauss, this same process led Europe into fascism (he was a German Jew who emigrated during the rise of the Nazi party).  This can perhaps be highlighted in the difference between political science, and political philosophy, as he saw them.

Political science assumes that the study of politics can be like a science, or a least quantified like one:  Statistics, modeling and analysis, polling data, voting habits and voting records, historical trends and party affiliation;  All of these can be guided by political theory and experience and synthesized to help us understand what politics is.

Perhaps, as we have seen recently, we can even use statistical modeling to predict elections.  Politicians, wonks, pundits, and aspirants to power all see use in more data and greater predictibility, and many naturally see clear political advantage in such thinking.

Strauss’ critique of this approach suggests that it also shapes to some extent who we think we are, and who we ought to be.  It is reductionist, and ultimately pits political groups and parties against one another, as though itself and everyone in its care were a neutral observer.

For Strauss, this approach ought to be countered by asking questions in a deeper tradition of political philosophy, his own neo-classicism:

“What is the good society?”

“What is the common good?”

On his thinking, modern political philosophers have also acted as revolutionaries, from Machiavelli onwards.  They’ve fallen from grace in a way, or at least from his reason/revelation distinction. We moderns are lurching forwards, stumbling forwards through the dark corridors of the modern age.  We need return to classical philosophy, back to Plato and Aristotle:

‘Strauss employs the term “theological-political predicament,” to diagnose what he contends are the devastating philosophical, theological, and political consequences of the early modern attempt to separate theology from politics. However, Strauss in no way favors a return to theocracy or, like his contemporary Carl Schmitt, a turn toward political theology. Instead, Strauss attempts to recover classical political philosophy not to return to the political structures of the past but to reconsider ways in which pre-modern thinkers thought it necessary to grapple and live with the tensions, if not contradictions that, by definition, arise from human society. For Strauss, a recognition, and not a resolution, of the tensions and contradictions that define human society is the necessary starting point for philosophically reconstructing a philosophy, theology, and politics of moderation, all of which, he claims, the twentieth-century desperately needs.

Perhaps non-Straussians can begin to ask such questions of feminism, too.

Do the moral laws make the people, or do the people make the moral laws?

Feel free to highlight my ignorance.  Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Addition:  Allowing way for ‘revelation’ also may leave the door open to those claiming divine intervention when seeking earthly power.  Strauss tried to avoid that possibility

A Few Thoughts On Same Sex Marriage-Ross Douthat At The NY Times: “Religious Liberty And The Gay Marriage Endgame’

Full post here.

Religious conservatives had better be nice, or at least start planning ahead, advises Douthat:

‘If religious conservatives are, in effect, negotiating the terms of their surrender, it’s at least possible that those negotiations would go better if they were conducted right now, in the wake of a Roe v. Wade-style Supreme Court ruling, rather than in a future where the bloc of Americans opposed to gay marriage has shrunk from the current 44 percent to 30 percent or 25 percent, and the incentives for liberals to be magnanimous in victory have shrunk apace as well.’

One way to look at this:  There’s been a long, steady decline of religion’s influence in the public square, and more broadly throughout American culture.  The gay marriage argument was lost some time ago in the public mind, for various reasons and the not-good-enough reasons made against it.

I believe it’s important to look at the concomitant rise in Civil Rights activism since the 60’s, often enacted into law, driving more freedom for ever more groups of people and individuals along the way.  Because individual liberty is vital to our Constitutional project, and central to American thinking, Americans tend to be swayed when they look at lack of liberty for others as an issue of individual liberty for themselves.

Some of these Civil Rights and freedom movements, as I see them, are inextricably linked with ideological Leftism.  These are the rights-based, identity-group, victimhood brands of activism which can scoop up the  individual into a net, set him on the stove, and cook him for dinner.

There is the liberation theology of Rev Wright’s church.  There is the progressive agenda which seeks socialized control of public goods and shrinks private wealth, eroding political freedoms. There is anti-humanist environmentalism.  There is ideological feminism carting its decades of bad statistics, purity tests and political-power seeking along with it.

Gays and lesbians tend to do best when they put the matter in terms of individual liberty.  They’re your children, friends and neighbors, after all.  They’re individuals and people.

As a movement, though, I suspect many are quite happy to attach themselves to the Civil Rights train and its ideological discontents.  I also suspect many gays and lesbians are happy to continue the move away from social and religious conservatism, and many traditions and customs woven into our institutions which have stood us well.

I can’t help but have sympathy with gays and lesbians, and don’t begrudge them their freedom (I’m American after all), especially those free-thinkers and defenders of liberty despite the opprobrium they’ve received.

Despite this, I know many of the forces driving change in our society continue to follow the logic inherent in some of the reasons behind those changes,  serving some interests and not all, encouraging us to overlook basics regarding human nature and political power.

Onward we go.

Addition:  Daniel McCarthy at the American Conservative The Supreme Court’s Gay-Marriage Gradualism.

Related On This Site:  The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?  Yes, Edmund Burke opposed the French revolution Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

Repost-’Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’..From Fora Via YouTube: ‘Thomas Sowell and a Conflict of Visions’

Charles Murray is trying to get virtue back with the social sciences: Charles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People

More Culture Wars-From The WSJ Via Instapundit: ‘The New Unmarried Moms’

Full piece here.

Our authors may be following Charles Murray’s lead, which he outlined in ‘Coming Apart:’

They write:

‘In fact, a key part of the explanation for the struggles of today’s working and lower middle classes in the U.S. is delayed marriage. When the trend toward later marriage first took off in the 1970s, most of these young men and women delayed having children, much as they had in the past. But by 2000, there was a cultural shift. They still put off their weddings, but their childbearing—not so much. Fifty-eight percent of first births among this group are now to unmarried women.’

What kind of a society should we have?  What kind of society are we creating?

Many women in college and in the professions are delaying marriage and child-bearing.  They can generally afford to put off marriage in pursuit of education and career (though they can’t wait too long and we’ve got tremendous student-loan debt).  The women without such opportunities and who aren’t in college or the professions generally aren’t putting off having children for too long on the analysis above, but they are putting off marriage.  This can have consequences for all of us.

Are we creating a two-tiered society, one of low-skilled, lower educated folks whom we ought to encourage into marriage, and the other full of higher skilled, better educated folks who will probably get married anyways, after putting career first?

Of course, implicit in the above quotation is the idea that conservatives are already losing the debate:  The coveted sweet spot in the middle and upper-middle class mind in America, which tends to guide our social institutions, laws, and politics is not currently well occupied by particularly religious, nor traditional, nor conservative ideas.

The newer social model hasn’t addressed many problems that the old social model may have addressed. On Murray’s view, perhaps we’re in danger of losing much in the way of economic dynamism as a result (to which I’ve found very few women in my time who wish to go back to 1963, which Murray doesn’t suggest we do, and relatively fewer women willing to call themselves feminists or address the radicalism inherent in feminism head-on).

Our authors continue:

‘But to truly move forward, educators, employers, policy makers, parents, entertainment leaders and young adults themselves need to join together in launching a national conversation about bringing down the childbearing rate of unmarried women and men in their 20s. Such campaigns aren’t just talk. They worked for dealing with teen pregnancy, and they can work again.’

The ending comes off a little weak.

Here’s Murray discussing Coming Apart:

————————-

***Having been asked to watch a few clips of the popular HBO series ‘Girls, I suspect the show can be seen partially as a product of the post 60’s, literary, post-post-modern beat/hippie/hipster culture that comes with a pedigree.  There is a deeper current of Western individualism (romanticism, modernism, post-modernism) running through Western culture.  On the show, perhaps there is a deeper quest for the Self going on.  Freedom is next.

Admittedly, this helps keep many chatterers chattering away who see their own selves and causes (feminism especially) reflected therein.  I can’t say I care that much for the subject matter, though I will generally support artists who stay true to their art, as religion, polite society, politics and ideologues of all sorts should be transcended if that art is going to last.

Addition:  And, to be fair, it’s entertainment, and it’s designed to give pleasure.  It’s pretty well-done.  Dunham should watch out for the maw of celebrity culture.

Glenn Reynolds has a piece at USA Today.

According to the Atlantic:  Why are 58% of first-births to unmarried women in lower middle class households.  Of course, it might have a lot to do with taking marriage apart, and replacing it with…whatever’s here now.  Naturally, being politically liberal, they focus on making more income equality.

Related On This Site:   Charles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People…Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…of England?:  From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…

Kay Hymowitz In The The City Journal: Love In The Time Of DarwinismKay Hymowitz In The City Journal: Child-Man In The Promised Land?Kay Hymowitz At The City Journal: ‘How Brooklyn Got Its Groove Back’

The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Don’t get Borked, at least if you’re openly religious and aiming for higher office:  Bork had his own view of the 1960′s: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  He has a big vision with some holes in it, but it’s one that embraces change boldly.

Once you take apart the old structure, you have to criticize the meritocracy you’ve helped create: David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘Why Our Elites Stink’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

Conn Carroll At The Washington Examiner: ‘California In Crisis’

5-part series here.

High spending, high taxes, the prop system, green policies and public pensions all have a hand in California’s current economic crisis.

In this blog’s experience, California has always been less rooted and less traditional than much of the rest of the country.  It occupies a space deep in the American psyche, drawing all types of people.

It has been the end point of manifest destiny, attracting both prospectors and naturalists, frontier industrialists and the Beats, hardworking immigrants straight off the boat and new-agers and spiritual types.

This blog still maintains that culturally, it profits to see California as a test case for the rise of both environmentalism and multiculturalism.  It’s doubtful that many of the people who embrace such ideas as guides for living, public policy, educational practices and political incentives will associate their ideas with California’s current economic problems.

Many Californians are facing the squeeze because they have to.

Feel free to highlight my ignorance.  Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Addition:  Victor Davis Hanson:

‘Soon, even the Stanford professor and the La Jolla administrator may learn that illegal immigration, cumbersome regulations, and the terrible elementary schools affect them as well.

The four-part solution for California is clear:  don’t raise the state’s crushing taxes any higher; reform public-employee compensation:  make use of ample natural resources: and stop the flow of illegal aliens. Just focus on those four areas-as California did so well in the past-and in time, the state will return to its bounty of a few decades ago.  Many of us intend to stay and see that it does.

***California’s got tremendous natural beauty and resources, and much in the way of ‘human capital,’ especially in technology and the sciences, partially due to the old Master Plan).

Hearst Castle 4 by Bill Kuffrey

Hearst Castle 4 by Bill Kuffrey

There are good reasons to leave:  From Erica.Biz: ‘Dear California: I’m Leaving You. Here’s Why…’

-A link for Michael Lewis’ article about California politics, public pensions and Schwarzenegger’s time in office.

-A map from Immodest Proposals on how to divide California.  Topographic crime map of San Francisco. 

-California’s anti-immigration, anti-union Democrat: Full video and background on Mickey Kaus here.

Related On This Site:  Victor Davis Hanson Via Youtube Via Uncommon Knowledge: ‘The New Old World Order’Victor Davis Hanson At The City Journal: ‘California, Here We Stay’

Dream big: Via Reason: ‘California’s Public Transportation Sinkhole’ A great city deserves great art extravaganzas…: L.A.’s New Public Art Piece ‘The Levitated Mass,’ Or As The American Interest Puts It: ‘A Moving Rock’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas: ‘California’s Kafkaesque Rent Control Laws’

California Dreamers From The Atlantic-A Brief Review Of Kevin Starr’s History Of California

The people who promise solutions to poverty and homelessness seem to be engaged in a utopian cost-shifting exercise which favors their interests and overlooks crime, violence and personal responsbility…hardly a way to balance the budget: Repost-Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco’

From Erica.Biz: ‘Dear California: I’m Leaving You. Here’s Why…’

Full post here.

It made the rounds a while back, but still worth a read.

‘California just isn’t worth it. My priorities have changed. I value income freedom and flexibility more than I value living near the beach. I value having a paid-off house I can call “home” more than I value having a half-million-dollar noose around my neck that declines in value by the day.’

The coast controls the legislature, and the public sector unions, greens, progressives and various lobbyists and activist groups have made living in California prohibitively expensive for many businesses, families, and the private sector.  In short, they’re hollowing out the tax base, and many people have chosen to leave.

Culturally, California has often been ahead of the curve, which would translate poorly for our nation’s fiscal health:  Environmentalism, multiculturalism and diversity, and the folks whom I call fiscally irresponsible egalitarians have been making cultural inroads across America.   They tend to define the public in Left-Of-Center fashion, heavy on the equality side of the equality/freedom equation for the sake of this discussion.

Thus, beneath such a definition of the public, public goods such as utilities, basic services, and education end up being controlled by those who can often end up free riding on the public good: public sector unions, a host of questionably important environmental regulators choking out businesses and jobs, and the worst kind of educrat who determines budgets and hiring.

The ideals guiding this definition of the public and public good clearly place impossible demands upon our institutions, which our institutions can’t practically live up to given the realities of human nature and economic scarcity.  Ironically, those who wanted more equality often end up with less equality.  Getting ahead for many people who end up in charge is still about who they know, luck, making political connections, and money, but now there are fewer people to know, more politicians and interest groups controlling the money supply while aiming for reelection, and less money all around because you’ve driven the productive people out.

More liberty isn’t a bad first step to remedy the situation, but don’t expect too much of California politics in the near future.

So goes California, so goes the nation?

———————-

-A link for Michael Lewis’ article about California politics, public pensions and Schwarzenegger’s time in office.

-A map from Immodest Proposals on how to divide California.  Topographic crime map of San Francisco. 

-California’s anti-immigration, anti-union Democrat: Full video and background on Mickey Kaus here.

Related On This Site: Neo-conservatism partially came out of the increasingly liberal trends in our society, as folks get ‘mugged by reality,” and the response to those liberal trends.  There is always a sharp edge to people, their affairs, and the groups they form:  Victor Davis Hanson Via Youtube Via Uncommon Knowledge: ‘The New Old World Order’Victor Davis Hanson At The City Journal: ‘California, Here We Stay’

Dream big: Via Reason: ‘California’s Public Transportation Sinkhole’ A great city deserves great art extravaganzas…: L.A.’s New Public Art Piece ‘The Levitated Mass,’ Or As The American Interest Puts It: ‘A Moving Rock’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas: ‘California’s Kafkaesque Rent Control Laws’

California Dreamers From The Atlantic-A Brief Review Of Kevin Starr’s History Of California

The people who promise solutions to poverty and homlessness seem to be engaged in a utopian cost-shifting exercise which favors their interests and overlooks crime, violence and personal responsbility…hardly a way to balance the budget: Repost-Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco’

Some concentrated wealth on top, a stalled legislature with members who know how to play the game…and a service sector beneath…that probably can’t go on forever: …From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’

Kay Hymowitz In The The City Journal: Love In The Time Of Darwinism

Full post here.

Hymowitz is still attacking feminism and post-feminism; mainly their effects on pop culture…and by Darwinism I think she means pop culture Darwinism as applied to dating:

“The reason for all this anger, I submit, is that the dating and mating scene is in chaos. SYMs of the postfeminist era are moving around in a Babel of miscues, cross-purposes, and half-conscious, contradictory female expectations that are alternately proudly egalitarian and coyly traditional.”

She sympathizes largely with young men who are stuck between the kinds of values they hopefully received from their moral(istic?) upbringing (be patient, tolerant, kind and sensitive) and the lack of reinforcement of such values in the broader culture, mainly by:

“…an uncompromising biological determinism that makes no room for human cultivation.”

A kind of moral dead-end and shallow replacement for what’s come before?  On this note, I think Hymowitz’s best point would be the moral depth sacrificed by current pop culture intellectual influences (equality ideologies, intellectually flabby secularism) aren’t deep enough to deal with…say.. the many biological differences between the sexes… 

Yet, I also suspect that there aren’t many thoughtful women who would sacrifice the recent gains of feminism for themselves, regardless of the obviously intellectually confused, ideological, and short-sighted nature of much of current feminism.  As such, it’s unclear what might be a better or deeper set of ideas Hymowitz might put in their place without making a lot of other sacrifices.

Related On This SiteLow European Birth Rates In The NY Times: No Babies?Kay Hymowitz In The City Journal: Child-Man In The Promised Land?

Add to Technorati Favorites