Romantic Urbanism-Worth A Look? There’s Also Something Going On With The Environmentalists

Romantic Urbanism seems to, well, inspire Romantic conceptions of a place.

Romanticism (also known as the Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical.

For my piece, seeking poetic meaning, through the written and spoken word, moves many hearts and minds most deeply. Within such mediated and heightened, experiences of reality, many people forget their own senses and reason. A creative genius has created a work (a poem, a cathedral, your favorite song) where the creator’s senses and reason has become yours. You’re a bit like a walker on the forest floor; the creative genius the canopy overhead, filtering the sunlight to this tree and that. One need only look to revelation and myth, religious and ideological, to understand how powerful such works of the imagination are, and how such impulses within us, can be.

In the Romantic Age, this was channeled in specific directions.

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth’s Lake District ain’t necessarily the cloud in front of you. Those clouds have come and gone. You are not really a cloud (though for a moment maybe you were, within the mind’s eye, the cloud and the looker and the poet, while reading the poem).

Who’s more likely to be Romantically inspired? Well, some temperaments more than others, I’m guessing. All of us to some extent, however, in the modern world. I think people whose education has come through modern channels are more likely.

In my experience, sometimes it’s the rationalist, the data scientist, or the physicist, when the brain-draining day’s work is done, who becomes most inspired to identify with modern, collectivist and Romanticized thought. These folks are often among the brightest, and the ones working with hardest data, and the most rigorous standards of getting at the truth. But, such folks are human, after all. Often, they want comforting fictions over harsh truths. Ideal utopias dot the horizon. Some rationalists can also be painfully naive when it comes to the motives others have in a shared enterprise (a bureaucracy, a political coalition etc).

Reality, the reality of privation, violence and criminality are still with us. Some people choose violence for dominance and leverage over others. Some people develop skills which involve harming you. Many people in rough neighborhoods are happy to get over on you, and that’s about it. Many people in rough neighborhoods choose not to live this way and cultivate and strive to keep what’s good alive, moving forwards.

Incentives matter.

Some very educated people, with good backgrounds, can be absolute assholes, and even dangerously criminal. This shouldn’t come as entirely surprising. Higher intelligence is certainly no guarantee of character.

‘Poverty’ has become a kind of big, conceptual bowl into which the imaginings of a post-Christian, humanistic, ethic have gathered. Some people have turned these ideas into what I regard as a rather idealistic (and ideological) platform, actualizing such ideas through emergent thought.

I suppose we’ll see.

On that note:

I remain skeptical of much environmental thinking, primarily in the realms of politics, law and ad hoc ethics. Many people here aren’t actually doing science. Many such knowledge and truth claims are serving various masters. Such ideas have become the glue holding many coalitions of humanists, anti-humanists, idealists and ideologues together, mediating the natural worlds and those of (M)an.

On this site, see:

Slight Update & Repost-Hipster Romanticism? From The Atlantic Photo: ‘Adventures Of A Serial Trespasser’

Via A Reader-Isaiah Berlin’s Lectures On The Roots Of Romanticism

Some Thursday Songs-Metal, Myth, American Romanticism And The Civil War

Eric Kaufmann (podcast) samples some younger, more liberal people on their relation to many American traditions.

The new Equality movements are having effects, and many folks are coalescing around new moral lights, sometimes religiously.

The rule of law, due process, freedom of speech and many duties our Republic requires are viewed much more skeptically.

As posted:

Modernism goes to the movies.

Some pictures at the link.

There’s mention of the Mt. Rushmore house at the end of North By Northwest. I suspect some among us have wanted to live in a modernist lair.

From an article in Der Spiegel on the Bauhaus, where modernism got its start:

‘The real feat achieved by Gropius and his cohorts was to have recognized and exposed the sociopolitical and moral power of architecture and design. They wanted to exert “effective influence” on “general conditions,” fashion a more just world and turn all of this into a “vital concern of the entire people.”‘

Eric Gibson & James Panero discuss sculpture in exile & culture under siege.

From the public square to the Natural World:

Mike Shellenberger on his new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.

As previously posted, ‘Do Children Cause Global Warming?

Bjorn Lomborg:

‘Across all cultures, raising a child is considered one of the most rewarding things a person can do. Yet a chorus of campaigners, scientists, and journalists suggest that everyone should think twice before procreating.’

As I see things, many in the West are replacing belief in a deeper substrate of religious doctrines with belief in a substrate of secular humanist ideals and various flavors of political idealism.

There’s a kind of Neo-Romanticism going on, including religious impulses channeled through secular beliefs and in anti-capital, anti-technology and anti-human directions.

OUT:  Old kooks

IN: New kooks

I’d like to remind folks that Peace Pavilion West, an Eco-Romantic Human Collective Going Back To Nature and Forward Towards Progress, is still accepting applications.

-Would you like to live in your OWN ecopodment as part of a living, working Community?

-Does 1,200 calories of guaranteed bug-paste and 8 glasses of fresh spring water a day sound good to you?

-Close your eyes: The day’s field labor is done. Honest sweat and natural musk mix with memory. Your mind, body and soul begin to rise towards the Cosmos, as each Community member joins hands, chanting Earthsong at dusk

True story:  I was tutoring a girl in Seattle, and she was in the arts.  Artists are often alone, more vulnerable, and she suddenly opened up about Climate Change.

This was one of the primary lenses through which she viewed the world, and it was predicting imminent disaster.  Doom and gloom.  The End Of The World Is Nigh.  Her teachers and peers were eye deep in this acopalyptic thinking, and such ideas were clearly amplifying her anxiety.

I shared some of my interest in the Natural world, animals and experiences.  We looked up some facts and discussed them for a bit.  I told a bad joke or two.  After both relaxing somewhat, I tried to suggest getting out a bit more and mixing it up.  You got this.

Instead of global green governance, what about a World Leviathan…food for thought, and a little frightening…there are other sources rather than Hobbes: At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes

Ronald Bailey At Reason: ‘Delusional in Durban’A Few Links On Environmentalism And Liberty

Related On This Site: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’

Urbanists love to hate Joel Kotkin, as he has offered them much in the way of criticism. At the New Urbanist website, I found the following quote:

“Only when humans are again permitted to build authentic urbanism — those cities, towns, and villages that nurture us by their comforts and delights — will we cease the despoiling of Nature by escaping to sprawl.”

Free Speech Requires Backbone-Michael Totten In Cuba: ‘The Lost World, Part II’

Full piece here.

Why do so many in the American media choose not focus on the immiseration of the Cuban people under Communism?

Well, I’ve often heard: ‘True communism was never tried’ as though that were some kind of deep wisdom.

Let’s just say old dreams die hard.

Totten visited Trinidad, in central Cuba, and found well-maintained Spanish colonial architecture:

‘The streets are made of stone, the roofs beautifully tiled. All the buildings and houses are colorfully painted. Every visible structure in every direction pre-dates the Industrial Revolution. The city is a living museum piece, not just of Cuba before communist rule, but of Latin America during the Conquistador era, of the world before industry and machines, before globalization and standardization and the mass society changed politics and culture for everybody forever.’

The Cuban people, like all others unfortunate enough to have undergone Communist revolution, live in a time-warp, frozen-in-place by a failed industrial-age theory of history, frozen further still to year-zero of their own revolution. Most Cubans live not only without basic modern conveniences like cars, cell-phones, and computers, but also without the health-care and education promised them but never delivered.  Many also live without much vision for the future, Cuban leaders strolling the deck of a rotten, totalitarian police-state above them, everyone listing to and fro on unforgiving Caribbean currents.

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘The Once Great Havana’

Gloria Estefan offers a window into Cuban culture, music, honor, and immigration as it mixes with American culture.

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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:

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.

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The true time-warp and bizzaro-land is likely still North Korea, however:

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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”

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-‘Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’

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Friedman doesn’t dispute that people have responsibilities to other people, but rather that the government is simply an inefficient means to meet those responsibilities (by interfering with the free market, which Friedman asserts has been the best way to lift the greatest number out of poverty).  Furthermore, he argues that the government causes and maintains poverty in the case of black teenagers by failing to provide a decent education so that they fail to learn basic skills in government-run schools, and through the minimum wage which distorts the market, preventing more opportunities for work.

On the other hand, one of the moral cornerstones of the progressive movement is that but for the Civil Rights Act among others, and building the Great Society (and but for a group of people acting on principles, and eventually making those principles into laws and institutions) black folks would have remained not only excluded from the job market, but from the legal rights granted to citizens and held in slavery and bondage by the laws.

Here is Thomas Sowell (heavily influcenced by the same Austrian School Of Economics) debating welfare and schools with the then State Of Pennsylvania Secretary Of Welfare:

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Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Addition: It just occurred to me that Friedman’s view of liberty is one of voluntary cooperative action.  Anything more is an injustice to the individual and a serious threat to individual liberty (transferring too much power to the State through social programs like Social Security, Welfare etc and the injustice of taxation upon individuals and the dangers of the well-intentioned and do-gooders from the New Deal on).  The voluntary exchanges that occur between people pursuing their own self-interest in the marketplace has been the greatest driver of human freedom and the greatest liberator from the natural human conditions of poverty, privation and want.  Friedman merges Adam Smith’s invisible hand and Thomas Jefferson’s separation of powers:  Free To Choose 

Noam Chomsky also shares a view that the individual ought to be free to enter into voluntary cooperative action (community councils or faculties in universities), but believes that to be achieved by perhaps only anarchy (where he retreats) or anarcho syndicalism, or libertarian socialism.  I don’t find anarchy to be tenable in protecting individual liberty.  Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge.

Leo Strauss may not have been a believer, but he did want the individual to be free from the structures that developed in Europe these past centuries.  The triumph of Reason (historicism and positivism which lead to relativism and nihilism) over some form of Revelation, or revealed truth. Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Food for thought.

Related On This Site:  How do conservatism and libertarianism deal with Martin Luther King…?:  Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution..

Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”…How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?

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

From Reason.Tv: ‘NBC’s Education Summit-Joe Trippi, Michelle Rhee & More’From The Washington Post: ‘D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee To Announce Resignation Wednesday’

Michelle Rhee At Newsweek: “What I’ve Learned”Repost-’Too Much “Quality Control” In Universities?’

Robert Nozick merged elements of Kant and Locke into a strong, libertarian defense of the individual, and also responded to Rawls distributive justice: A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”From Slate: ‘The Liberty Scam-Why Even Robert Nozick, The Philosophical Father Of Libertarianism, Gave Up On The Movement He Inspired.’

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

From CATO: ‘Venezuela Is Spiraling Out Of Control’

Full post here.

This is just sad.

The post-Chavez Maduro government is trying to control whatever in order to keep power and presumably still claim the high moral ground of its unrealizable socialist-populist ideals, having taken over a series of electronics stores:

‘As the economic situation rapidly worsens in Venezuela, the government is growing increasingly authoritarian and is now actively undermining the foundations of the country’s already deteriorated social fabric’

A timeline and a discussion of how soaring inflation is being caused by political factors.

Take it from a bright Venezuelan:

‘Chavez is actually not an orthodox Marxist in the sense that Marx would have recognized (which was why I linked to the sort of Marxist ‘prophecy’ of people like Chavez from the ‘Eighteenth Brumaire’). Chavez is more along the lines of what traditional Marxists referred to as ‘Bonapartist’ (borrowing from the figure of Napoleon Bonaparte). The whole theory on which Chavez based his political life was that the working class (or what passed for it, in a country like Venezuela) *could not* make a revolution on its own, and that someone else (the military and the Socialist Party, led by him) needed to make the revolution for them. ‘

Christopher Hitchens at Slate-Hugo Boss:

‘The boss loves to talk and has clocked up speeches of Castro-like length. Bolívar is the theme of which he never tires. His early uniformed movement of mutineers—which failed to bring off a military coup in 1992—was named for Bolívar.’

Maybe people shouldn’t be getting their political advice from Sean Penn:

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Peter Singer discusses Hegel and MarxOn Mario Vargas Llosa-Adam Kirsch At The City Journal: ‘The Dream Of The Peruvian’

From They City Journal: ‘What I Learned In The Poverty War’

Full piece here.

Our author, Peter Cove, does have a dog in the hunt as founder of America Works, the first for-profit Welfare-to-Work company in America:

‘But the government’s unprecedented expenditures failed to bring about the decline in poverty that Johnson had promised.  Instead, they made things worse.’

A true-believer in helping the poor changes his thinking:

‘My experience with long-term welfare clients has led me to propose a radical solution:  that we abolish all cash welfare, as well as food and housing assistance-expcept for the elderly and the physically and mentally disable-in order to move from a dependency culture to one of work-first.’

Cove traces how his work, and the broader politics and culture have intertwined.

Of course, reasonable people recognize that they have moral obligations to other people, but they’re skeptical of who decides what those obligations are, and who has the moral authority to make such decisions.  Reasonable people recognize that a more open, free economy has downsides, and can lead to greed and excess, winners and losers, and can never cure poverty.   But they also recognize that it is the engine which gives the poor in America one of the highest standards of living in the world.

Just as most wealthy men and politicians seek to maximize their own power and self-interest, so too do bureaucrats.  A belief in one’s ideals does not immunize one from human nature, and in fact, such utopianism is cause for greater skepticism.  Forced transfer payments from people who work to those who don’t, overseen by bureaucrats and politicians no matter how strong their beliefs, is merely a less sustainable economic and social model.  It doesn’t necessarily create more of the behavior such true-believers want to see, it leads to unintended consequences, and sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.

‘In public policy, we should deduce our theory from practice.  Unfortunately, most people in the business of helping the poor turn that principle upside down, proposing theories first and then basing programs on them.’

Here’s a quotation sent in by a reader.  Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy:

‘Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people”:

 First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization’

Related On This Site:  Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘Want To Be The Next Apple? Lose The Bafflegab’

Repost-William Stern At The City Journal: ‘How Dagger John Saved New York’s Irish’

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’…Walter Russell Mead says the Great Society is over:  A Few Thoughts On Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: “Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I”

Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’

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

Full post here.

Stern points out how important the Catholic Church, and one man in particular, were in transforming Irish immigrants from a hated, poor, dislocated immigrant class into something more in mid nineteenth-century America:

‘A hundred years ago and more, Manhattan’s tens of thousands of Irish seemed a lost community, mired in poverty and ignorance, destroying themselves through drink, idleness, violence, criminality, and illegitimacy.’

The Irish Catholic Church had brought a lot of its troubles with it, but opportunity was here, and the religion needed to change (the metaphysical debates may last for centuries but religion is woven into the culture, responding to the culture, of its time, usually only as good as its people and the decisions they make):

Hughes was outraged. He didn’t want Catholics to be second-class citizens in America as they had been in Ireland, and he thought he had a duty not to repeat the mistakes of the clergy in Ireland, who in his view had been remiss in not speaking out more forcefully against English oppression.’

This required a moral and psychological transformation that perhaps only religion could provide.  Education and job opportunities were key:

‘Faced with perhaps as many as 60,000 Irish children wandering in packs around New York City—not attending school, not working, not under any adult supervision—Hughes encouraged the formation of the Society for the Protection of Destitute Catholic Children, known as the Catholic Protectory, which was in a sense the forerunner of Boys Town.’

Eventually, criminals became policeman, trades were learned, politics was infiltrated and controlled through the big city machines.

Related On This Site:  But progressive policies do address needs, and reward people, just at great cost including potential threats to individual liberties, jobs, political stability and individual and fiscal responsibility, obviously.  Walter Russell Mead says the Great Society is over:  A Few Thoughts On Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: “Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I”

Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”Repost-Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

Roger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’ …Theodore Dalrymple In The City Journal: Atheism’s Problems..more progressive silliness.Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco’

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