History

Free Speech, Moral Relativism, And New Rules-Some Links

Via a reader: Jonathan Merritt-‘The Death Of Moral Relativism:’

Hmmm…

‘Law, virtue, and a shame culture have risen to prominence in recent years, signaling that moral relativism may be going the way of the buggy whip.’

On this site, see: Pushing Against Moral Relativism & The Academic Fashions Of Modern Life-Some Links…Repost: Via A Reader-Peter Thiel On The Logic Of Multiculturalism

Addition: Full interview here.

“Nigel: Has relativism had its day as an influential philosophical position?

Simon: No – and I don’t think it should ever die. The danger is that it gets replaced by some kind of complacent dogmatism, which is at least equally unhealthy. The Greek sceptics thought that confronting a plurality of perspectives is the beginning of wisdom, and I think they were right. It is certainly the beginning of historiography and anthropology, and if we think, for instance, of the Copernican revolution, of self-conscious science. The trick is to benefit from an imaginative awareness of diversity, without falling into a kind of “anything goes” wishy-washy nihilism or scepticism….”

It looks like we’ve been dealing with such a problem for a long time, in one form or another.

Niall Ferguson notes something important about networks of patronage in the academy; networks increasingly colonized by people of Left-liberal persuasion and their moral lights (sometimes out-and out- Marxists):  Disagreement is typically seen as personal, heretical and beyond the bounds of presumed acceptability.  Should one disagree one is fair game to be mobbed as not merely wrong, nor mistaken, but as potentially ‘evil’ and a target for character attacks, shaming, and exclusion.

When you have heads of departments, faculty, and university Presidents committed to some aspect of the Left-liberal moral lights and their own careers and obligations (if not the out-and-out radicalism), don’t expect them to side with heretics.

It’s worth revisiting how Ferguson’s wife, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, using the products of Western thought, has pretty much been excluded from polite society in challenging Islamists because such challenges violate the tenets of the current replacements for religion (the Left-liberals and out- and out- Marxists in the academy):

‘Yesterday Brandeis University decided to withdraw an honorary degree they were to confer upon me next month during their Commencement exercises. I wish to dissociate myself from the university’s statement, which implies that I was in any way consulted about this decision. On the contrary, I was completely shocked when President Frederick Lawrence called me — just a few hours before issuing a public statement — to say that such a decision had been made.’

Tunku Varadarajan Reviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Nomad’ At The Daily Beast

Christopher Hitchens At Slate: Yale SurrendersYale concluded that the risk of violence and the potential consequences that stemmed from their decision to publish a scholarly work about the Mohammed cartoons (reprinting those cartoons) was not worth the risk.  Hitchens is not a fan of religion.

The Intellectual Cowardice Of The Crowd-Charles Murray At Middlebury College Race,

Free Speech And All That-John Derbyshire Will Not Be Appearing At Williams College

Repost At The Request Of A Reader-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?

Hirsi Ali seems to have found the embrace of the West out of both tribal localism and its customs, Islam, and the short-sightedness of multiculturalism.  Notice non-Muslims are not the ones threatening her with death: Tunku Varadarajan Reviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Nomad’ At The Daily BeastRepost-Ayan Hirsi Ali At The CSM: ‘Swiss Ban On Minarets Was A Vote ForTolerance And Inclusion’

On Niall Ferguson’s new Biography- ‘Kissinger: Volume I: The Idealist.1923-1968:’

FT review.

The Economist

Ferguson discusses the first volume in D.C.

Some Sunday Links-The People Shall One Day Control The Means Of Recreation

Michael Moynihan on British historian’s Eric Hobsbawm more recent estimation amongst many chatterati.

Let’s not forget:

‘In a now infamous 1994 interview with journalist Michael Ignatieff, the historian was asked if the murder of “15, 20 million people might have been justified” in establishing a Marxist paradise. “Yes,” Mr. Hobsbawm replied.’

That interview here.

Moynihan finishes with:

“How to Change the World” shows us little more than how an intellectual has committed his life not to exploring and stress-testing an ideology but to stubbornly defending it. The brand of Marxism that Eric Hobsbawm champions is indeed a way to “change the world.” It already did. And it was a catastrophe.’

From the De Blasio files, at the NY Daily News:

Let Orchard Beach be a beach of The People!:

‘A bright new future dawns for Orchard Beach with Mayor de Blasio’s promise to commit money to upgrading the great Bronx Riviera.’

The People shall one day control the means of recreation:

‘Now, de Blasio, who has committed to spending park money fairly in rich and poor neighborhoods, has the chance to right the scales of recreational justice, in the process improving life for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers as a major part of his legacy.’

(Addition): Apparently, this is how you rope the People’s Revolutionary Representative into money for your pet project when he’s out for a photo-op (end).

Let’s hope this isn’t a Red Dawn, dear reader, where we find ourselves somewhere beyond the dunes and dressing rooms of the once great Bronx Riviera; filthy, exhausted, huddled around a beach campfire, gathering the shards of recent history that have led us to our fates.

What if history is nothing but an abandoned Orchard Beach bathhouse full of spiders?’…mutters Powers Boothe, clenching his teeth, pouring his hooch onto the fire.

It rages up into the starless night.

C. Thomas Howell muffles a sob.

———————–

As previously posted, some light humor:

Michael Moynihan reviewed Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’ which praised the Cuban Health Care System.

Christopher Hitchens took a helicopter ride with Sean Penn, and that tracksuit-wearing strongman of the people, Hugo Chavez-Hugo Boss.

Yes, these ideas are responsible for the deaths of thousands, right now, in real time.  To say nothing of a few lost generations of human potential, hopes, dreams and basic securities.

It’s a long way out of socialist and revolutionary solidarity, which continually occupies the South American mind. One more revolution: Adam Kirsch takes a look at Mario Vargas Llosa. The Dream Of The Peruvian.

How’s that Russian reset going?:

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What about value pluralism…positive and negative liberty?: The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Classical Liberalism Via Friesian.Com-’Exchange with Tomaz Castello Branco on John Gray’

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

Related On This Site:  What Will De Blasio’s New York Look Like?-Some LinksSandinistas At The NY Times: ‘A Mayoral Hopeful Now, de Blasio Was Once a Young Leftist’Two Links On Diane Ravitch & School Reform

 

Repost: Via Youtube: Ric Burns—New York: A Documentary Film – Episode One: The Country and The City (1609-1825)

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From the onset, Manhattan was a place for trade and commerce.  It has an exceptional natural harbor. It was an outpost for the Dutch to invest and turn a profit and it’s continued from there (after many years of British rule and even British control during the Revolutionary War).  It didn’t become our nation’s political capital as Jefferson made sure of contra Hamilton, though it has had distinct artistic and cultural influence.

As the series points out, what drew and draws so many disparate groups and pits them against each other is economic opportunity.  What unites them is not diversity (that’s a by-product), but self-interest and a chance for a better life by getting a job, making it big, getting away from somewhere else,being the first or the best in your field (finance, trade, insurance, fashion).  I suspect both religion and secular religion (the current rise of the equality of outcome crowd, nanny-staters) have always had and hopefully always will have a hard time bending New York’s commercial bustle to their moral visions.

Related On This Site: The market will make people better off, but always leaves them wanting more and in spiritual malaise, which invites constant meddling.  Can economic freedom and free markets reconcile the moral depth of progressive big-State human freedom:  Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’

Both agree God has something to do with it…Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”

The Irish were a mess:  William Stern At The City Journal: ‘How Dagger John Saved New York’s Irish’

A Few Thoughts On Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: “Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I”

Politicians and politics likely won’t deliver you from human nature, nor fulfill your dreams in the way you want: anarchy probably won’t either: Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

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Timothy Snyder At The New Republic: ‘Savagery’

Full review here.

Snyder reviews Paul Preston’s new book on the Spanish Civil War.

There was plenty of savagery to go around during the War, and the little I know I do from having spent time in Spain and getting to know a few people whose grandparents fought during that time.  The Valle de Los Caidos is seldom talked about, and for good reason (Franco used prison laborers from the other side in order to construct a monument to his fallen fellows).

Perhaps the more conservative, traditional, religious parts of the nationalist coalition weren’t prepared for some of the folks that made up Franco’s forces:

‘First, many of the soldiers fighting under the banner of Spanish nationalism against the Republic were Muslims, mercenaries from Spanish Morocco. Second, Christian soldiers were little interested in the application of ethics to their deeds.

Well, this is war and Franco did amass his army from the Spanish colonies in Morocco.  Yet as for the Republicans:

‘The most violent political force in the Republican zone were the anarchists, who fought against Franco but also opposed the Republic. Beyond the reach of the government, and bountifully armed, they were all but impossible to control. They ran the most murderous of the checas, including one squad that decorated their murder van with skulls and their uniforms with death’s heads’

The fight had been brewing for quite some time to get Spain on the path to “modernity” and “progress.”  Clearly, not everyone agreed how to get there or where they were going…as other European ideological conflicts and interests consumed the country:

‘And so the Republic itself, when it was re-established in 1931, was bound to provoke determined and articulate resistance. Its new constitution propagated a secular state, which angered the priesthood and the conservatives. The first government purged the officer corps, demoting many officers who had been promoted for their deeds in Morocco. But more infuriating still, it concerned itself with the fate of the peasantry, rather than leaving them under the authority of local notables.’

Our author wants to note that Preston’s book is careful to point out that the Nationalists were worse, however, which raised a bit of suspicion on my part:

‘Preston is concerned to show that violence from the Right was on a greater scale than violence from the Left during the Spanish Civil War. Contemporary accounts of atrocities came from Madrid, the Republican capital, where reporters and ambassadors could observe and criticize the actions of the Republic but not those of the rebels—with certain exceptions, such as that airdropped corpse. Preston reminds us that prevailing opinion in the British establishment (Churchill was a good example) held at the time that right-wing killings were relatively insignificant. But with the help of massive documentation recently published by Spanish historians, Preston shows that roughly 150,000 Spaniards were murdered on territories controlled by the rebel nationalists, compared with about 50,000 in the Republican zones’

Well, everyone has their interests while examining the conflict, but point taken.  Snyder goes on:

‘From Poland’s Galicia in the east to Spain’s Galicia in the west, conditions of radical inequality conspired with weak state institutions to turn the energy of capitalism against democracy by generating support for the far Left and the far Right, especially during the Great Depression’

Is “capitalism” really the bogeyman here, a handmaiden to both the anarchic revolutionaries and the fascist mercenaries with “democracy” lost in the shuffle?  Implicit in the review are certain assumptions about democracy, which seem pretty liberal by American standards.

In fact, this review is found in “the New Republic”, so, duly noted.

Related On This Site: Snyder is perhaps not a fan of libertarianism Timothy Snyder Responds To Steven Pinker’s New Book At Foreign Policy: ‘War No More: Why The World Has Become More Peaceful’

From The Chronicle Of Higher Ed Via A & L Daily: “Myths Or Facts In Feminist Scholarship?

Full article here.  (Once archived, no longer free)

As the A & L daily notes, that’s Nancy K.D. Lemon vs Christina Hoff Sommers.  

Sommers started the criticism here.

I think one piece of the puzzle is Roger Scruton’s argument here, which suggests a failure to keep aesthetic judgment apart from political judgment in the humanities…:

“And since there is no cogent justification for women’s studies that does not dwell upon the subject’s ideological purpose, the entire curriculum in the humanities began to be seen in ideological terms.”

This can spill out into our politics…and we get many people on the right criticizing entire institutions of higher learning…and many on the left mixing race, gender politics and humanities into theories which clearly have ideological aims and political consequences.

Though of course, Lemon is on the faculty at Berkeley Law…

From the comments section:  

If, in the interest of advancing her cause, she [sic, Lemon]  perpetuates fallacious reasoning, she forfeits her position as a scholar and becomes a mere advocate–something any of us can be, because there are no standards to advocacy. If she pretends to something better, she has to BE better. The same holds true for Sommers, and those who can root out fallacious reasoning on her part are right to do so.

See Also: From The Chronicle Of Higher Ed Via A & L Daily: Christina Hoff Sommers “Persistent Myths In Feminist Scholarship” Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment…Revisiting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?

You could just try reading Shakespeare, and go from there…

Thanks to iri5

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Garrett Mattingly On Machiavelli-The Prince: Political Science Or Political Satire?

Full article here.

“The notion that The Prince is what it pretends to be, a scientific manual for tyrants, has to contend not only against Machiavelli’s life but against his writings, as, of course, everyone who wants to use The Prince as a centerpiece in an exposition of Machiavelli’s political thought has recognized…”

Mattingly (wikipedia), a historian, argues that this short work of Machiavelli’s overshadows his attempts at plays, poems and prose, and overlooks the following:

“‘…Popular rule is always better than the rule of princes.’ This is not just a casual remark. It is the main theme of the Discorsi and the basic assumption of all but one of Machiavelli’s writings, as it was the basic assumption of his political career.”

Well, perhaps Machiavelli did really believe in the traditional virtues (Christian, Aristotelian?) and thus did not truly question those traditional beliefs…

…and instead perhaps The Prince should be viewed more as work of art in the vein of his other works (and not as philosophy necessarily?) as Mattingly argues…

Are you convinced?

See Also On This SiteFrom Nigel Warburton’s Virtual Philosopher: Machiavelli Is Always RelevantFriday Quotations: Machiavelli And The Founders

Niccolo Machiavelli by Crashworks

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