All the best to you and yours.
Happy Easter 2020
Thanks for stopping by and to everyone that has.
I hope your Easter is full of family, gratitude, and hollow chocolate bunnies if you’ve managed to brave the trip to the drug store.
Via The Portal-Eric Weinstein & Peter Thiel
Both men are plugged-in to mathematics, the mathematical sciences, technology, tech investment, and to some extent, the political economy. The genuine, and most rapid, progress affecting all of our lives tends to come out of such knowledge.
I appreciate the depth, breadth and openness both offer. Perhaps both also see themselves as outside much mainstream thought, and somewhat iconoclastic, if the substance of their thinking and insight does, in fact, place them ahead of one or many curves.
This blog has accepted the deeper critique that without limiting principles against violence, one can not simply dine ‘a la carte’ at the buffet of radical change.
Human nature, whether understood through the lens of Christian faith, the humanities, our founders’ framing, the social sciences and even the mathematical sciences, is inherently corruptible by ideas many modern, radical and historically revisonary doctrines promote.
In other words, I’m much closer to Thiel’s commitment to the classical liberal/libertarian approach, and perhaps even a bit more conservative, but always open to revision.
As posted on this site. The Oakeshottian/Minogue critique of ideology:
The discussion hinges on the idea of whether or not you and I are already free, and whether or not we somehow need liberating from something. The world and society are full of injustices, and discontents, and inequalities. Sure, we needed liberating from King George III for various reasons during our revolution, but not in the radical, ideological, rationalist sense (addition: a reader points out John Locke’s right of revolution…duly noted).
Black folks in America certainly needed liberating, held under the laws and subject to extreme injustice. But how?
In Marxist ideology, this liberating hinges on a form of revolutionary praxis, according to Minogue. It operates as a closed system of ‘first principles’ which goes deep and purports to function as a science and claims to undercut the sciences, philosophy, capitalism and theology in order to liberate. This is why it lives on, and on, and on. Despite its failures it remains ultimately untestable, neither proved nor disproved, not being a form of knowledge we’ll know ever lines up with reality, or that can be falsifiable, a la Karl Popper.
In the video, liberation theology is briefly discussed as well, described by Buckley as a kind of ‘baptised Marxism.’ In it, we see a charged movement against the injustices of slavery moving towards ideas of liberation (think Rev. Wright’s church). I’ll put up a quote from a few posts ago by Cornel West.:
‘Being a leftist is a calling, not a career; it’s a vocation not a profession. It means you are concerned about structural violence, you are concerned about exploitation at the work place, you are concerned about institutionalized contempt against gay brothers and lesbian sisters, hatred against peoples of color, and the subordination of women.’
Related On This Site: Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution
Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’……Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”…Race And Free Speech-From Volokh: ‘Philadelphia Mayor Suggests Magazine Article on Race Relations Isn’t Protected by the First Amendment’
One way out of multiculturalism and cultural relativism:
Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’
Repost-It Ain’t What You Know, It’s What You Know That Ain’t So?-Eric Weinstein At the Rubin Report: The Four Kinds Of Fake News
End Federal Funding For The Arts? From The New Criterion: ‘Who Supports The Arts?’ Plus Richard Serra’s ‘Tilted Arc’ & An Old Vincent Gallo Interview
‘But step back a moment. Would ending federal, i.e., taxpayer, i.e., your, money on entities like the NEA, the NEH, and the CPB be a bad thing?’
Here are two good reasons in favor of ending Federal funding:
- You will likely aid in making better art. Universities, museums and institutions don’t necessarily get along with the creative genius, nor in making something new. In fact, such institutions can stifle creativity by rewarding and amplifying current tastes and entrenching public sentiment into reefs, creating additional hurdles for talent to get where it’s going. State money, furthermore, is not a necessary condition of good art. In fact, it may be a necessary condition of bad art [addition: we can probably say that bad art is everywhere, but there’s rarely great art coming out of Federally funded programs].
- Incentives matter: The self-interested, ideologically driven and less-talented will have incentives to control the Federal bureaucracy and politicize the arts. They’re out there, and if you reward them with cash and status, you’ll get more of them (bad artists, ideologues, politicians and bureaucrats in an unholy cycle of Badness).
No one can speak for all the public, not even the artistic genius. Art-curators, docents, specialists and critics can do good [for art], but sometimes they can do bad. Individual talent, tradition, hard-work, groups of people, ideas, money and opportunities all matter, but how much exactly, is anyone’s guess.
Richard Serra was commissioned to put a piece in Federal Plaza, paid for the public, and some people didn’t like it.
It was removed. Serra felt railroaded. There was a lot of press and drama.
Pretty relevant, I’d say:
Also, this Vincent Gallo interview is funny as hell:
He takes the critics on while wearing an awesome USA track-suit:
Related On This Site: Repost-From Poemshape: ‘Let Poetry Die’
They’ve got to keep up with the times:A Few Thoughts On NPR And Current Liberal Establishment Thinking Under Obama
From 2 Blowhards-We Need The Arts: A Sob Story…A museum industrial complex…more complexes…who are the people museums should be serving? James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’
The Intellectual Cowardice Of The Crowd-Charles Murray At Middlebury College
Here’s a fine example of how to exchange ideas: Two people gather in a forum to present and dispute the data used, the methodologies applied, the empirical evidence offered, and the conclusions and conjectures both might draw from their own thinking. There’s some light moderation and Q & A from the audience:
From Middlebury College a few days ago (where Charles Murray was invited to speak but was shouted-down and chased-away):
An example of how not to exchange ideas: Individuals are encouraged to simply show up and participate as part of a mob, likely getting a sense of identity, purpose, and accomplishment by righteously shouting down an invited speaker.
Free inquiry is chilled, the passions incited and engaged, and the hatreds organized. This approach clouds the truth and the civilities and methods by which we more reasonably can arrive at truth.
The truth, for the most part, has already been decided in many minds (enough to act in such an ignorant way). The administrator who had injury done to her in trying to exit the event was just getting in the way of the truth, dear reader.
Such thinking has been institutionalized in many settings: Here’s how the Washington Post portrayed the affair, labeling Charles Murray not by the quality of his ideas, nor his reasoning, but by a rather laughably inaccurate representation of events, sympathetic to the mob:
This is how WaPo reports on an out-of-control mob that physically assaults a speaker and a professor? https://t.co/hrGA5MfeHo
— Charles Murray (@charlesmurray) March 3, 2017
As previously posted: Below is an example how similar stewardship of our institutions by those who share in such ideology themselves, or who offer tacit approval of such ideology (tolerating the intolerance through capitulation, or in a kind of enemy-seeking ‘brownstone activism’), has gone on for a generations now.
From TheFire.Org-‘The Condescending Paternalism Of Williams President Adam Falk:’
As FIRE co-founder Alan Charles Kors has said: “You cannot say to people, you’re too weak to live with freedom. Only that group is strong enough to live with freedom.”
But that’s exactly what Adam Falk, the patronizing president of Williams College, has said to the college’s student body. Yesterday, Falk unilaterally canceled a speech by John Derbyshire, who was invited as part of the student-run “Uncomfortable Learning” speaker series.
From Adam Falk’s letter to Williams students about the matter:
‘Today I am taking the extraordinary step of canceling a speech by John Derbyshire, who was to have presented his views here on Monday night. The college didn’t invite Derbyshire, but I have made it clear to the students who did that the college will not provide a platform for him.
Free speech is a value I hold in extremely high regard. The college has a very long history of encouraging the expression of a range of viewpoints and giving voice to widely differing opinions. We have said we wouldn’t cancel speakers or prevent the expression of views except in the most extreme circumstances. In other words: There’s a line somewhere, but in our history of hosting events and speeches of all kinds, we hadn’t yet found it.
We’ve found the line. Derbyshire, in my opinion, is on the other side of it. Many of his expressions clearly constitute hate speech, and we will not promote such speech on this campus or in our community.
We respect—and expect—our students’ exploration of ideas, including ones that are very challenging, and we encourage individual choice and decision-making by students. But at times it’s our role as educators and administrators to step in and make decisions that are in the best interest of students and our community. This is one of those times.’
John Derbyshire raised quite a stir after publishing ‘The Talk: Nonblack Version,’
‘There is a talk that nonblack Americans have with their kids, too. My own kids, now 19 and 16, have had it in bits and pieces as subtopics have arisen. If I were to assemble it into a single talk, it would look something like the following. ‘
Of course, what better place than a liberal arts college to talk these matters out?
Read up. Get your reasons and arguments together. Show up at the debate, alone or with friends. Listen to the other fellow. Think. Respond. Think some more. Debate.
Publishing and disseminating the thoughts and ideas of others is not necessarily an endorsement of those thoughts and ideas, but it is absolutely vital in maintaining a free and open society:
Out of principle alone, here’s Derbyshire discussing his general worldview:
Kevin Williamson At The National Review: ‘Whose Liberalism?’
Original review in The Nation:
‘Before the 1930s, histories of liberalism told a different story. In his excellent Liberalism: The Life of an Idea, the journalist Edmund Fawcett, a former correspondent for The Economist, returns to this earlier telling. For Fawcett, liberalism is, at its simplest, about “improving people’s lives while treating them alike and shielding them from undue power.” To understand its history, “liberty is the wrong place to begin.” Liberalism wasn’t created in the seventeenth century but in the nineteenth, after a trio of revolutions—American, French and industrial—shattered the old order. Liberalism’s first job wasn’t simply to defend private individuals and limit the size of government, but to cope with the rise of capitalism and mass democracy amid the aftershocks of a postrevolutionary world.’
Reducing Locke’s influence thus would serve certain ends:
For Fawcett, all of these solutions count as liberal ones. His book is intended as a defense of liberal values, capaciously defined. The usual cast list of Mill, Tocqueville and Isaiah Berlin is expanded to include unfamiliar philosophers and household-name politicians on both the left and the right who wouldn’t normally make the cut: Roger Nash Baldwin, the founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, stands alongside the German progressive Eugen Richter; Margaret Thatcher and Herbert Hoover are squeezed in alongside Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson; Marxist Jean-Paul Sartre rubs shoulders with Milton Friedman and conservative philosopher Michael Oakeshott.’
To which Williamson responds:
‘Forrester, a lecturer in the history of political thought at Queen Mary University, London, begins with a strange assertion: that the idea of liberalism as a consent-oriented view rooted in the work of John Locke and based on “toleration, private property, and individualism” is in effect a propaganda coup, “a recent invention. It is, in fact, largely a product of the Cold War. . . . Before the 1930s, histories of liberalism told a different story.”
‘This speaks to an ancient but fundamental disagreement over the nature of human beings and, consequently, over the nature of human society. Conservatives — those who seek to conserve the liberal national order formalized by the founding of the American republic — tend to be oriented toward process, toward a narrow reading not only of Constitution and statute but also of the meaning of rights (negative) and the role of the state (limited); in our view, rights are enjoyed by individuals rather than by collectives, even when those rights are exercised in aggregate. Forrester characterizes this habit as “polar thinking,” and against it opposes what she calls “practical thinking” and “practical compromise.”
The fight for the ‘pragmatic’ and the view from nowhere is always going on. Comments are worth a read.
Related On This Site: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’ Classical Liberalism Via Friesian.Com-’Exchange with Tomaz Castello Branco on John Gray’
Ed West At The Telegraph: ‘Conservatives, Depressing Everyone Since 500BC’…Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism
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.… Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”
Roger Scruton In The American Spectator: The New Humanism…From Nigel Warburton’s Site: A Definition of Humanism?…
Repost-Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’
Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘UVA Should Help Police Catch Alleged Rapists — Now.’
‘I wrote last week about the explosive rape allegations against a University of Virginia fraternity in Rolling Stone. This morning I see that Richard Bradley, a former editor at George who had the unhappy distinction of having been taken in by Stephen Glass, is raising questions about the story and the reporting by the author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely.’
There can be big rewards for using the victimhood bullhorn: Garnering internet traffic, making money, gaining political power and cultural influence etc. but facts often come later…in some cases…if at all.
If the facts are true, then use the bullhorn wisely.
Camille Paglia’s take on modern campus politics here.
With freedom comes responsibility.
Via David Thompson, from Canada via the Agenda with Steve Paikin, notice how two panelists just can’t bring themselves around to the idea of other people speaking their minds, thinking differently and critically, and pursuing ideas freely in an open debate.
They really don’t seem to see a problem with where the logic of their own ideology leads: To silence and shout-down opposing points of view, to constantly try and control the speech and thoughts of others.
Canada and Britain already have a more entrenched ideological/victimhood class of generally Left types, America.
As I’ve gotten a few nasty e-mails myself on this subject, I want to reiterate this is not a dismissal of the seriousness of the moral horror and crime that is rape, but a freeing of such a horrible crime to be discussed in the public square calmly and reasonably by differing points of view. The crime is bad enough without the cult of victimhood out to morally and ideologically dominate the issue.
This ‘holding the line’ is more an appeal to keep civil society civil, and wrenching a very serious subject away from ideologues who traffic in often questionable statistics, gin up moral outrage and panic, and gain advantage by using blind, rabid emotion to their advantage to shun, shame and attack anyone who disagrees. That’s really all it can take to have a less free society, and it’s really all some people have.
After six years of an administration which also benefits from bringing further Left activists into the public square (gun-rights, Keystone pipeline, Organizing For Action), and will likely do little to turn those ideologues away, some media outlets which have drifted in the same direction lately will find it hard indeed to even criticize the ideologues among them.
This ain’t liberal, nor open, nor civil.
Here’s George Will reasonably explaining his position, and the reasons for it:
Cathy Young At Minding The Campus: ‘The Brown Case: Does It Still Look Like Rape?…The Personal Ain’t Political-Holding The Line Against Rape Ideologues-Conor Friedersdorf On George Will
Christina Hoff Sommers (wikipedia) is trying to replacing gender feminism with equity feminism. She also wrote The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men.
Are You Man Enough? Nussbaum v. Mansfield…From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’
Defending Eliot Spitzer…as a man who ought to be free of prostitution laws…but didn’t he prosecute others with those same laws?: Repost: Martha Nussbaum On Eliot Spitzer At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A very Harvard affair: The Spelke/Pinker debate-The Science Of Gender And Science
Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?…
From FIRE.org-’Federal Government Mandates Unconstitutional Speech Codes At Colleges And Universities Nationwide’
Greg Lukianoff At FIRE.Org: ‘Emily Bazelon And The Danger Of Bringing “Anti-Bullying” Laws To Campus’
Catholics, Punditry, Progressives & Rubes-Ross Douthat At The NY Times
Douthat responds to E.J. Dionne’s ‘The Reformicons‘ and Andrew Sullivan’s ‘Reform Conservatism.’ It’s interesting to note that Dionne is a liberal Catholic progressive Democrat (concern-trolling at its finest), and Sullivan a gay, Catholic British emigre, aligning with progressives on many social and political issues (Obama is the ‘true conservative‘), and Douthat a more conservative Catholic columnist for the NY Times, who’s written a book on the subject ‘Grand New Party.’
This seems a pretty BosWash and Catholic affair.
Perhaps Dionne and Sullivan are gazing with warier eyes upon religious and social conservatives now that the progressive coalition in power may be running out of steam, and Obama’s approval numbers are running lower lately.
‘The reality is that, except in truly exceptional cases, our politics is better off in the long run when views held by large proportions of the public are represented in some form by one of our two parties. Right now (to run down a partial list of divisive cultural issues), a plurality of Americans want the immigration rate decreased; about half the country opposes affirmative action; more than half supports the death penalty; about half of Americans call themselves pro-life. Support for gay marriage and marijuana legalization has skyrocketed, but in both cases about 40 percent of the country is still opposed. Even independent of my own (yes, populist and socially conservative) views, I think these people, these opinions, deserve democratic representation: Representation that leads and channels and restrains, representation that recognizes trends and trajectories and political realities, but also representation that makes them feel well-served, spoken for, and (in the case of issues where they’re probably on the losing side) respected even in defeat’
The wheels are turning, and like politicians, many a pundit’s limp body has been pulled from the gears of electoral politics and predictions about the future.
Predictions are hard, especially about the future.
Pluralism And Majoritarianism And All That-Some Links
Ross Douthat at the NY Times: ‘Why Liberalism Needs Pluralism‘
Watch those radical roots:
‘…much of progressivism is straightforwardly organized around the idea of the state-as-liberator, and inclined to see “the private life of power” as a greater threat to true liberty than either the tyranny of the majority or the kindly despotism of the administrative state.’
One of this blog’s primary concerns is that modern liberalism, as practiced with its progressive, collectivist and activist roots, has not addressed vital concerns between the individual and the collective, which can soon lead to the ‘tyranny of the majority or the kindly despotism of the administrative state’ as Douthat points out.
It’s not always as grave as that, but current liberal politics, with pressure from below, has been busy dragging 60’s feminist, environmentalist, and Civil Rights activism back into political discourse (to say nothing of New Deal, Big Labor, and other, older entitlement programs).
Perhaps Douthat’s piece also highlights a gap between many libertarians and conservatives that will very tough to bridge: Some libertarian ideas lead to anarchic consequences, and a vigorous libertarian defense of the individual contradicts many social and religious conservative organizing principles as well.
On that note, if you want to see where labor activism in progressive politics can lead (unions and politicians generally fighting for the cause, their paychecks and their pensions first, the actual concerns of children later), look no further than California:
‘But after those basic protections were enshrined in law decades ago, labor leaders pushed legislators to expand rights and entitlements for public school teachers—at the expense of educating kids. In the last ten years, only 91 teachers out of about 300,000 (.003 percent) who have attained permanence lost their jobs in California. Of those, only 19 (.0007 percent) have been dismissed for poor performance
This is neither economically nor politically sustainable, and places impossible demands upon our institutions. As for the mayor of New York City:
‘The people are to show “the leaders the path.” But, it turns out, there is only one, progressive path, already marked out with thick hedges on each side. All we’ve really got to do is make sure everybody’s in the lane–get’em all signed up. The means has become the end–“universal” enrollment, not universal achievement–and the work of the good neighbor a matter of paperwork, not particular care or love’
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.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal: Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”
For Commerce And Contemplation-From David Thompson: ‘The Humble Among Us:’
Let’s face it, some people claiming to speak for the arts, or all artists, or all of the public who would benefit from the arts, are quite obviously speaking for themselves, their own interests, and/or ideas that will never speak for all artists nor all of the public.
In the worst cases, they can be speaking for ideas which seek to deploy the arts as propaganda.
Usually, though, after the humor dies down, such thinking tends to lead to more foundations, arts councils and programs, not necessarily better art:
‘As a member of our creative caste, Ms Delaney wants to capture the buzz and thrum of city life. She wants to inspire “recognition” and, above all, “empathy.” It’s just that she’d prefer not to empathise too much with those non-creative people. Say, by working for a living and paying her own bills’
For those interested, here are a few central questions I’ve gleaned from many discussions and debates of my own:
–‘Who decides what is good and not good art, and what the public ‘ought’ to be viewing?‘
–’Should artists of ambition, some talent and potential genius be supported, and if so, how? Does this support always incentivize them to make better art?
–Does institutionalization lead to the easier appropriation of art by the religious, the politicians, the speculators and patrons, the culture vultures and various other ideological interests?