Repost-Via Youtube: Eric Hoffer-‘The Passionate State Of Mind’

Continuing on a theme on this blog.

Hoffer was a man deeply suspicious of top-down organization and intellectuals running things, yet he is a man deeply curious and taken with ideas: He strikes this blog as something of an anti-intellectual’s intellectual. He worked as a longshoreman for much of his life in San Francisco and was not formally educated, but read many of the great books. In the video he discusses how he thought he was observing a change from an interest in business to an interest in ideas in American culture and society in the 1960’s, among other things.

From a Thomas Sowell piece, the Legacy Of Eric Hoffer:

‘Hoffer said: “The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.”

People who are fulfilled in their own lives and careers are not the ones attracted to mass movements: “A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding,” Hoffer said. “When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.”

What Hoffer was describing was the political busybody, the zealot for a cause — the “true believer,” who filled the ranks of ideological movements that created the totalitarian tyrannies of the 20th century.’

Related On This Site: Are we still having the same debate…is it manifest destiny?: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”Repost-Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco

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”From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and trendy leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal: Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

Please Don’t Join A F**kin’ Cult-Some Gathered Links And Stray Thoughts

Technology can affect each of us personally and intimately; vast distances suddenly bridged and scaled downwards.  Endless distractions.

How to live and what to do?  Family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, people in the academy; some people are handling this change better than others, personally and professionally.

High rates of technological change are likely a leading cause for our institutional chaos right now; the political extremes dominating discourse, the shifting middle, the more visibly grubby political class members ascendance and the social media mobbing.

From where I stand, it seems some on the religious and political right suggest withdrawal from the public square entirely.

It seems many on the ideological Left are thinking the same (back to the Commune), despite a longer, rather successful march through many institutions and likely being overstretched at the moment (the dark web cometh).

I figure if you know how to value that which matters most, you’ll navigate alright.  Don’t forget to do right by those you love, and those who love you:  Work, effort, and sacrifice.  Take a look at the stars when you can.  Keep learning.  Take it easy, sometimes.

And don’t join a f**kin’ cult!

-Nxivm is pronounced ‘Nexium,’ which sounds prettly classy (the purple pill) and legit (like something carved at Caesar’s Palace parking lot) : The ‘Sex Cult’ That Preached Empowerment

-Is Nxivm lower on the rung of ‘bad ideas’ than Heaven’s Gate (a steaming pile of scripture, New Age lunacy, weird sexual abnegation and half-baked astronomy..):

-Lawrence Wright on his book-Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & The Prison Of Belief.

Maybe I’ll help gore a sacred cow or two:

Dorothy Thompson speculates who would go Nazi in a room full of people at a dinner party.

‘Kind, good, happy, gentlemanly, secure people never go Nazi. They may be the gentle philosopher whose name is in the Blue Book, or Bill from City College to whom democracy gave a chance to design airplanes–you’ll never make Nazis out of them. But the frustrated and humiliated intellectual, the rich and scared speculator, the spoiled son, the labor tyrant, the fellow who has achieved success by smelling out the wind of success–they would all go Nazi in a crisis.’

Power through discipline!  Strengthen your will!

Intellectuals running things…who joins mass movements?

Ross Douthat made similar arguments some years ago while promoting his book ‘Bad Religion:

‘…what is the idea of universal human rights if not a metaphysical principle?  Can you find universal human rights under a microscope?

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As previously posted:

Part 10 of a discussion between Douthat and Will Saletan here.

Natural law, Christian theology and metaphysics meet liberalism, gay rights, and a more rights-based definitions of liberty. Saletan and Douthat are discussing Douthat’s new book Bad Religion and having a back and forth.

Douthat puts forth the following:

‘Indeed, it’s completely obvious that absent the Christian faith, there would be no liberalism at all. No ideal of universal human rights without Jesus’ radical upending of social hierarchies (including his death alongside common criminals on the cross). No separation of church and state without the gospels’ “render unto Caesar” and St. Augustine’s two cities. No liberal confidence about the march of historical progress without the Judeo-Christian interpretation of history as an unfolding story rather than an endlessly repeating wheel’

Perhaps modern American liberalism can claim other roots for itself.  Here’s a quote from Leo Strauss, who has influenced American conservative thought heavily:

Strauss taught that liberalism in its modern form contained within it an intrinsic tendency towards extreme relativism, which in turn led to two types of nihilism. The first was a “brutal” nihilism, expressed in Nazi and Marxist regimes. In On Tyranny, he wrote that these ideologies, both descendants of Enlightenment thought, tried to destroy all traditions, history, ethics, and moral standards and replace them by force under which nature and mankind are subjugated and conquered. The second type – the “gentle” nihilism expressed in Western liberal democracies – was a kind of value-free aimlessness and a hedonistic”permissive egalitarianism”, which he saw as permeating the fabric of contemporary American society.”

And another quote on Strauss, which seems more compelling to me:

“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.”

I’m more interested in the many people who are claiming that more freedom is necessary to reach a liberal ideal as they go about extending it to another group of people.  They aren’t just asking for a little more freedom, for as we humans do, they are striving to make their ideal the highest thing around, as well as a source for the laws, and a way to organize people and a path to political power and influence.  That seems to be part of the deal, but rarely discussed and I think should be open for debate a la Strauss. Christianity certainly has a lot of experience in that realm.

Related On This Site: While politically Left, Slate used to be a bit edgy, thoughtful, occasionally more of a haven for artists, writers, creative thinkers and iconoclasts (Christopher Hitchens was a good example). At least Saletan thinks pretty deeply  From Slate: William Saletan’s ‘White Men Can’t Jump’

Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Nussbaum argues that relgion shouldn’t be a source for the moral laws From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum…More on Strauss as I’m skeptical of his hermeticism and his strong reaction to Nietzsche and some things he may have missed about the Anglo tradition: From Philosophy And Polity: ‘Historicism In German Political Theory’From The Selected Writings By And About George Anastaplo: ‘Reason and Revelation: On Leo Strauss’

Speech And The Desire To Control The Language, Thoughts And Minds Of Others-Jordan Peterson Talking With Gad Saad

We are seeing some people in the social sciences use quantitative methodologies to try and understand what’s been going on in many universities, with regard to political philosophy, ideology, and collectivist movements.

The modern fields of psychology, evo and moral psychology, sociology, economics, etc all now seem to have practitioners addressing some threats that (R)eason enthroned can pose to all of our liberties, or at least, the radical and revolutionary ideologues who often profess Reason/Anti-Reason as their guide; seeking immediate social change and influence.

What kinds of people join social justice movements and believe/claim to believe righteously and truly in such causes?   How much of what they say is true?

How might they fit into a broader framework of ‘-isms,’ often seeking radical equality (of outcome) and collective liberation from dominatory oppression?  What potential cost is there to all of our liberties, traditions, and institutions regarding this particular raft of ideas?

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Intellectually, as this blog has noted, there is often a watered-down Hegelianism at work in many movements seeking radical and revolutionary freedom (the master/slave dialectic and the absolute idealism providing intellectual foundation for much of what is called cultural relativism these days, which provided foundation for the Marxism and post-Marxism found in such movements).

Here’s Peterson being questioned by a group as to the merits of his ideas:


As to demands for the use of non-gendered pronouns (which is currently trending): I will say that I have sympathy for people on the margins, people with few options and not many opportunities,  people who face uphill battles, and sometimes genuine threats of physical violence.

That said, I don’t enjoy the idea of playing a game I can’t win.  More speech, not less, is the means to arrive at more truth. Allowing the people you actually fear the freedom to express their ideas allows more sunlight into civil society. I loathe the use of force and the desire to control the thoughts, language and minds of others.

I loathe it even more when it is used as part of a program which attacks our institutions and the legitimate authority required to maintain our institutions, and thus, many of our freedoms.

I most loathe it when it is used to treat other individuals as objects of scorn and oppression, or to shout them down in righteous anger.

Have you learned nothing?

***One rebuttal to the above, of course, would be Hayekian:  There is no knowledge that would allow any person or group of persons to centrally plan a language any more than there is knowledge for anyone to centrally plan an economy (yes, you can compile a dictionary a la Samuel Johnson but, no, Esperanto is probably something of a top-down, rationalistic pipe-dream).


As to those Canadian Human Rights Commissions, as previously posted:

Here are {Ezra} Levant’s opening statements during his investigation:

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Levant was fighting what he saw as an infringement upon his freedom of speech by the Human Rights Commission of Alberta. As editor of the Western Standard, Levant published the Danish cartoons of Mohammed, and found himself investigated by, in his words, “a kangaroo court.”

Originally, a letter was written by Syed Soharwardy, an imam living in Alberta, to the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Soharwardy claimed that the cartoons were morally offensive to the religion of Islam. Levant believed his decision to publish the cartoons was protected by Canadian law, and that Soharwardy found a path to legal action (at the expense of Canadian taxpayers) through the Human Rights Commission because no one else would take Soharwardy’s claims seriously.

One of Levant’s main concerns seems to be the the way in which someone like Soharwardy, (with unchallenged religious beliefs, and illiberal ideas of social freedom), has infringed upon his freedoms through an institution like the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

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Heading towards a theme, here’s Mark Steyn discussing complaints brought against Macleans, Canada’s largest publication, by the President of the Canadian Islamic Congress (who sent three representatives) to TVOntario. They were upset at the pieces Steyn had published there. The complaints went through the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for alleged “Islamophobia” and “promoting hate:”

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Pretty heated.

Again, the focus here is not whether Islam is a religion whose followers would eventually clash with the idea of separation of church and state, and/or identify with a larger global pan-Muslim population at the expense of their adopted countries. That’s a different debate. We know that here in America, they are granted a space created by our Constitution for freedom of religion in the public square and no specific religious test for office. They must follow our laws and are protected by them. Living and working alongside one another has its benefits and I generally favor the melting pot approach.

The debate here focuses on the effect that multiculturalism, the human rights crowd, and the public sentiment behind them can have upon freedom of expression when Human Rights Commissions are allowed legal recourse to settle this kind of dispute. This is one of the consequences of those ideas in action, and it’s not exactly liberal. It’s the multicultural solution, and it can be absolutely chilling on speech, placing onerous financial burdens on citizens, and it can create a sort of shadow court with aims of its own (if not jurisdiction) operating alongside the regular courts.

We’re not anywhere near Choudary territory yet, but remember that Nidal Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter, had some problems with “workplace violence”. Most multiculturalists really don’t see a problem with their approach.

***A friend points out that the illiberal tendencies of the Muslim complainants in both cases and the illiberalism of the multiculturalists is a good fit. Just don’t be a Canadian on the receiving end.

***This also helps to confirm the libertarian contention that libertarians are the true classical liberals, and modern liberalism has followed the logic of moral relativism, a lot of Continental, New Left, neo-Marxist influences in feminism and race theory which lead to an unhealthy desire to control and be controlled by the State, which will grow larger and larger.

Also On This Site: From The BBC-Kurt Westergaard: ‘Cartoonist Attacker In Danish Court’

Repost-From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’

Virtual Philosophy has a series on free speech and some links and notes to J.S. Mill’s ‘On Liberty’ among others. Is Mill’s utilitarianism enough?: From virtual philosopher: ‘Free Speech: notes and links for course at Free Word Centre’

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)’

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

Repost-Eugene Volokh At The National Review: ‘Multiculturalism: For or Against?’Theodore Dalrymple Still Attacking Multi-Culturalism In BritainFrom The Volokh Conspiracy: Multiculturalism As A Traditional American Value