Theodore Dalrymple, Moral Authority, and You’ve Got A Special Delivery From Putin

How do you preserve and conserve many laws and traditions and institutions likely worth preserving and conserving, and the authority necessary to maintain them with perhaps many people less connected in their lives and minds to those laws, traditions and institutions nowadays?

Are we becoming more individualistic?

Without that presumed moral fabric, and with more choice and opportunity available, will more Americans seek security and purpose in the secular ideologies so often leading to a rather Euro-statist secular authority?

Do you trust the institutional authority claimed by many standard secular liberal humanists on the way toward secular ideals?

How do the more often individualist and atheist libertarians find common ground with social and religious conservatives?

Do they?

Here’s Dalrymple:

‘One of the problems of modern society is the difficulty many people now have with accepting and obeying rules that they neither made themselves nor can they deduce from any of their own, self-chosen first principles, chief amongst which is the democratic one that a cat may look at a king. That is why, if you take the risk of asking a person who is behaving in a mildly antisocial way to desist, he will suddenly turn moral philosopher and demand an incontrovertible proof that he should not behave in that way.’

Speaking of authority, at least one Russian lawmaker thought it was time to take post-Soviet authoritarianism, self-serving ethno-nationalism, and Russia’s low birth-rate to the next level.

First, there was talk of encouraging hook-ups in tents at love camps, mixing sweet, young romance with coolly calculated demographic and political survival:

‘Remember the mammoths, say the clean-cut organisers at the youth camp’s mass wedding. “They became extinct because they did not have enough sex. That must not happen to Russia.’

Now for a more ‘personal’ solution.  Ladies, if you’ve seen Vlad on a horse, this really was a next logical step.

-Naturally, Putin still offers photo-ops of himself bare-chested:  embodying the virility, strength, and charisma that the Russian people will need going forward to conquer nature and vanquish all enemies.

A meeting of one of Vlad’s country jaunts was caught, miraculously, on tape and in English:


You can’t enjoy the highs if you haven’t endured the lows, am I right?

***Bonus-1980′s tourist Putin meeting Ronald Reagan as a KGB member in Red Square.

***Double Bonus-Putin and Bush’s love affair in a GAZ M-21 Volga caught on tape.  Putin sent Medvedev out to keep the flame alive with Obama on missile defense.

To put it crudely as possible:  This guy knows more about love than a fate-tossed Ukranian mail-order bride.  You can’t entirely blame him either, as some of its working.

Are we headed toward 19th century geo-politics?:  Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

Repost-Frank Furedi At Spiked Via The A & L Daily: ‘The Truth About Tolerance’

Full piece here.

Although Ramadan’s book is presented as a spiritual meditation on the problems of existence, it is actually an eclectic mixture of current intellectual prejudices and old-fashioned appeals to revelation and dogma’


“It is precisely because Ramadan is unsympathetic to the idea of individual autonomy and moral independence that he can casually dismiss tolerance as the intellectual charity of the powerful. Tolerance is anything but charity.”

Because, Furedi argues, there is no acceptance of the idea of critical judgement in Ramadan’s embrace of Western multiculturalism.

Obviously, I can see danger in many Muslims’ claims to faith (at times an unyielding moral absolutism) mixed with only an acceptance of the West’s moral relativism.  I would also point out that to an American, smaller European economies, more stratified societies, and greater cultural homogeneity can lead to less space in Europe than America for immigrants (and we are facing a current round of homegrown terrorists, however low the percentage, the consequences are very high).

One step beyond Ramadan, on this view, might be a Muslim thinker accepting a definition of tolerance that includes critical judgment and more classical liberalism.  I would also point out such a definition would likely require greater inclusion of Muslims into European societies as well, if integration is in fact the goal.

Ayan Hirsi Ali’s rejection of the European Left and flirtation with the right (where a narrow nationalism combined with racial identity lurks in darker corners) could be instructive as a possible, but perhaps not necessary, path.  She has also been very vocally anti-Islam as a faith entirely.

Perhaps there a few ways around the current stalemate in the Middle-East with our military involved in protracted nation-building in order to achieve security aims.  Perhaps I haven’t come up with any.

Also On This Site: Just when I go out on a limbFrom Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’.  Christopher Hitchens is an equal-opportunity socialist/post-socialist critic of all of religions’ claims to faith, and perhaps, like Hirsi Ali, shared a swing to the right (from that confused Left) that could lead to some moral problems.  Repost-Ayan Hirsi Ali At The CSM: ‘Swiss Ban On Minarets Was A Vote For Tolerance And Inclusion’

Free speech (used both well and unwell) meets offended  and violent 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’

A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea: From ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’ From Foreign Policy: ‘Germany’s Age Of Anxiety’

Why hobble our economy, if it’s so important to integrating new arrivals?: Via The A & L Daily-Interview With Christopher Caldwell At Spiegel OnlineTheodore Dalrymple Still Attacking Multi-Culturalism In Britain

Low European Birth Rates In The NY Times: No Babies?

Full article here.

Is there a crisis in Europe?  Maybe, maybe not.  There are low birth-rates, however.  The article suggests one of the reasons in Mediterranean countries is their half-step toward modernization:  More women work and have educational opportunities yet the old Catholic traditions remain in place.  This produces an economic crunch on all parties involved.  

Of course immigration is sometimes offered as a potential solution.  However, it’s often overlooked that immigration is probably more of a threat to smaller, more stratified European societies then it can be in America.  This might help explain some of the extreme rightist political support lately (where a potentially violent nationalism united with racial identity lurks). 

See Also:  This weekly back-and-forth between Kerry Howley (libertarian) and Kay Hymowitz (social conservative) in the L.A. Times, in which they discuss fertility, the family, American culture, low European birth-rates etc…

On This Site:

The NY Times On Equal Parenting: When Mom And Dad Share It All

Kay Hymowitz In The City Journal:  Child-Man In The Promised Land?

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