A sensitive subject, and much deeper than party, ideology, or political ideal. All may not be well in Europe due to demographics, immigration, rapid technological change challenging a rather poorly designed centralized bureaucracy. The less there is, or is perceived to be, the uglier it tends to get.
On that note, ‘neo-conservatism’ is a label of particular heretical significance on the Left, for neo-conservatives are often believers who’ve left the fold.
Perhaps the deep antipathy for religion, and its courageous equal application to Islam separated Hitchens from many peers (especially after Rushdie). Perhaps a slow acculturation to life in the U.S. helped lead to support for the Iraq invasion:
My summary of Smith’s take: ‘I still read Andrew Sullivan and his thoughtful, potentially evil views, but when the mob comes to town, I’ll pretty much cave to the mob (The ‘-Ism’quisition). Although the NY Times is increasingly displaying the ideogical capture of the radical Left, as have many institutions, I really do need the paycheck.’
‘The New York Times, by its executive editor’s own admission, is increasingly engaged in a project of reporting everything through the prism of white supremacy and critical race theory, in order to “teach” its readers to think in these crudely reductionist and racial terms. That’s why this issue wasn’t called, say, “special issue”, but a “project”. It’s as much activism as journalism.’
A link on this site in support of Sullivan’s Oakeshottian political philosophy:
‘Olympianism is the characteristic belief system of today’s secularist, and it has itself many of the features of a religion. For one thing, the fusion of political conviction and moral superiority into a single package resembles the way in which religions (outside liberal states) constitute comprehensive ways of life supplying all that is necessary (in the eyes of believers) for salvation. Again, the religions with which we are familiar are monotheistic and refer everything to a single center. In traditional religions, this is usually God; with Olympianism, it is society, understood ultimately as including the whole of humanity. And Olympianism, like many religions, is keen to proselytize. Its characteristic mode of missionary activity is journalism and the media.’
‘Progress, Communism, and Olympianism: these are three versions of the grand Western project. The first rumbles along in the background of our thought, the second is obviously a complete failure, but Olympianism is not only alive but a positively vibrant force in the way we think now. Above all, it determines the Western moral posture towards the rest of the world. It affirms democracy as an ideal, but carefully manipulates attitudes in a nervous attempt to control opinions hostile to Olympianism, such as beliefs in capital or corporal punishment, racial, and otherforms of prejudice, national self-assertion—and indeed, religion‘
My rather cynical take on California, for which I harbor deep fondness: Many folks on the political Left tend to imagine that most deep knowledge and truth questions have been, or will soon be, settled in favor of their ideals (Equality, Peace, Diversity). They often make what I see as category errors when it comes to (R)eason and (S)cience.
If the big questions are settled, then, all that’s Left is to build the collective, human-rights based institutions which will guide (H)umanity to its (E)nds.
Ignore those radicals over there, they’re simply reacting against Enlightenment year-zero fascism:
To someone with such a point of view in California: Religious and social conservatives become a bothersome, backwards minority, while the honor and duty required to maintain a military are seen as antiquated, often ‘male’ and agressive (Colonial). The prudence required to maintain a balanced budget, and many basic rules, are increasingly seen through the ideological, tribal lens of identitarian politics (shut up, Karen).
Freedom comes with responsibility, but ‘liberation’ comes with many violent radicals, crazies, and true-believers.
How many actual individuals are leaving California because of the increasing social disorder in the cities, high costs of living and one-party politics?
‘I’m writing in response to your “Goodbye, Blue America” post, with its large “Leaving California” graphic. I left California four years ago. (It happens that I live in a different blue state now, and I want to leave this one, too.) There are so many reasons I left, but the urban unrest was a big part of it.’
Many people from other States (and countries)–>California
Many people from California–>Other Western States (Arizona/Nevada/Colorado/Oregon/Washington/Idaho) and back to their home States.
‘Noyce was like a great many bright young men and women from Dissenting Protestant families in the Middle West after the Second World War. They had been raised as Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, United Brethren, whatever. They had been led through the Church door and prodded toward religion, but it had never come alive for them. Sundays made their skulls feel like dried-out husks. So they slowly walked away from the church and silently, without so much as a growl of rebellion, congratulated themselves on their independence of mind and headed into another way of life. Only decades later, in most cases, would they discover how, absentmindedly, inexplicably, they had brought the old ways along for the journey nonetheless. It was as if . . . through some extraordinary mistake . . . they had been sewn into the linings of their coats!
There are many people pursuing secular human rights ideals within many a Western governmental agency, international institution, and activist quarter these days. They claim the person who seeks to be virtuous, pursuing an ideal vision of the good society, simply by sharing in this ideal, has immediate access to a global human community and as such, moral duties to this community.
Many ambitious and reasonably well-intentioned young people are hearing its call.
On some level, most of us seek some kind of greater life purpose (guiding ideals and principles) and we seek for our inborn talents and natural abilities to merge hopefully, with our responsibility to feed ourselves and serve others in making a living.
These ideals allow some people, some of the time, to transcend many personal responsibilities along with many of the duties of family, neighbor, friend, the local, the state, the national.
Yet, at what cost? How are they working out in the world, our institutions, and in our lives?
If there’s anything universal in human affairs (math, the sciences, music, self-interest?), how is the universal to be codified into laws (rules), rights and responsibilities, and who makes the laws and who enforces them?
What is right, exactly, and where do ‘rights’ come from?
How does one person do lasting good for another while pursuing his/her own self-interest within the institutions and organizations that have developed and are often controlled by those adhering to such ideals?
As posted (may you find the thread running through the post, dear reader. I know it’s a lot to ask…especially with all the unanswered, open-ended questions):
“‘…a morally concerned style of intellectual atheism openly avowed by only a small minority of individuals (for example, those who are members of the British Humanist Association) but tacitly accepted by a wide spectrum of educated people in all parts of the Western world.”
A Roger Scruton quote that stands out in the video below, while discussing moral relativism to an audience in a country once behind the Iron Curtain:
‘There’s an attempt to produce a universal, objective morality, but without any conception of where it comes from.’
Where does the moral legitimacy come from to decide what a ‘human right’ is? A majority of ‘right-thinking’ people? A political majority? Some transcendent source? German Idealism?
Perhaps modern American liberalism can claim other roots for itself. Here’s a quote on Leo Strauss, who has influenced American conservative thought heavily:
“As Strauss understood it, the principle of liberal democracy in the natural freedom and equality of all human beings, and the bond of liberal society is a universal morality that links human beings regardless of religion. Liberalism understands religion to be a primary source of divisiveness in society, but it also regards liberty of religious worship to be a fundamental expression of the autonomy of the individual. To safeguard religion and to safeguard society from conflicts over religion, liberalism pushes religion to the private sphere where it is protected by law. The liberal state also strictly prohibits public laws that discriminate on the basis of religion. What the liberal state cannot do without ceasing to be liberal is to use the law to root out and entirely eliminate discrimination, religious and otherwise, on the part of private individuals and groups.”
How could you Americans violate international norms, approve an airstrike in Syria, and walk away from the table of international cooperation, asks an entirely earnest, forthcoming Vladimir Putin?:
‘It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.’
As for that exceptionalism thing, our current President is probably closer to this view than most Presidents have been, whatever your strategic thoughts on Syria.
I remember coming of age in the 80’s, and being introduced to the Ivan Drago school of diplomacy:
You know, there may have been a chance of avoiding such a region-destabilizing Civil War, but that moment, should there have been such a moment, has long passed:
‘As the White House repeated this Monday, the conflict in Syria will only end with a political solution. In other words, the United States should use the leverage it has, in the form of continued pressure and looming military strikes, to help get all sides to the table.’
The US, however, should avoid getting sucked into the Syrian Civil War. Thus, it should punish Assad with enough force to deter future use of chemical weapons, but without using so much force that it gets drawn into an open-ended conflict’
But his solution strikes me as the same kind of liberal internationalist, U.N. one worlderish-type thinking that helped get us to this point:
‘The US should strive to persuade all parties to reach a power-sharing agreement to end the war. This can only happen with the cooperation of Russia and other players, such as Iran.’
That’s good for a laugh. We kept a lid on the region. We were the muscle, and now the Saudis, partially due to fracking, partially due to our withdrawal from the region without plans for our replacement, are turning to Moscow. With so many players, including Iran and Russia fighting a proxy war Syria, this sounds pretty unworkable.
This is also why John Kerry’s appeal as to the moral awfulness of chemical weapons, and the need to draw a ‘red line’ and call others to action, while reasonable and historically accurate, still rings so hollow. Geneva conventions do not a peaceful world make:
Are we still the world’s policeman? Stay tuned.
Addition: Ramesh Ponnuru at the National Review, dissents:
‘This is not a military action that we are undertaking to defend ourselves from attack or to protect a core interest. The congressional power to declare war, if it is not to be a dead letter, has to apply here. And it seems to me exceedingly unlikely that Congress would vote to commit us in Syria, because the public manifestly opposes it. This is a war with no clear objective, thus no strategy to attain it, no legal basis, and no public support. I dissent.’
Michael Totten’s piece that revisits a Robert Kaplan piece from 1993, which is prescient: “A Writhing Ghost Of A Would-Be Nation”. It was always a patchwork of minority tribes, remnants of the Ottoman Empire