Archives for category: Ideological currents

Friedrich W. Nietzsche


A state? What is that? Well! open now your ears to me, for now I will speak to you about the death of peoples.

State is the name of the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it lies; and this lie slips from its mouth: ‘I, the state, am the people.’

It is a lie! It was creators who created peoples, and hung a faith and a love over them: thus they served life.

Destroyers are they who lay snares for the many, and call it state: they hang a sword and a hundred cravings over them.

Where there are still peoples, the state is not understood, and is hated as the evil eye, and as sin against laws and customs.

This sign I give to you: every people speaks its own language of good and evil, which its neighbor does not understand. It has created its own language of laws and customs.

But the state lies in all the tongues of good and evil; and whatever it says it lies; and whatever it has it has stolen.

Everything in it is false; it bites with stolen teeth, and bites often. It is false down to its bowels.

Confusion of tongues of good and evil; this sign I give you as the sign of the state. This sign points to the will to death! it points to the preachers of death!

All too many are born: for the superfluous the state was created!

See how it entices them to it, the all-too-many! How it swallows and chews and rechews them!

‘On earth there is nothing greater than I: I am the governing hand of God.’ — thus roars the monster. And not only the long-eared and short-sighted fall upon their knees!

Ah! even in your ears, you great souls, it whispers its gloomy lies! Ah! it finds out the rich hearts which willingly squander themselves!

Yes, it finds you too, you conquerors of the old God! You became weary of conflict, and now your weariness serves the new idol!

It would set up heroes and honorable ones around it, the new idol! Gladly it basks in the sunshine of good consciences, — the cold monster!

It will give everything to you, if you worship it, the new idol: thus it buys the lustre of your virtue, and the glance of your proud eyes.

Through you it seeks to seduce the all-too-many! Yes, a hellish artifice has been created here, a death-horse jingling with the trappings of divine honors!

Yes, a dying for many has been created here, which glorifies itself as life: verily, a great service to all preachers of death!

The state, I call it, where all drink poison, the good and the bad: the state, where all lose themselves, the good and the bad: the state, where the slow suicide of all — is called ‘life.’

Behold the superfluous! They steal the works of the creators and the treasures of the wise. Education, they call their theft — and everything becomes sickness and trouble to them!

Behold the superfluous! They are always sick; they vomit their bile and call it a newspaper. They devour each other and cannot even digest themselves.

Behold the superfluous! They acquire wealth and become the poorer for it. They seek power, and the lever of power, much money — these impotent ones!

See them clamber, these nimble apes! They clamber over one another, and thus pull each other into the mud and the abyss.

They all strive for the throne: this is their madness — as if happiness sat on the throne! Often filth sits on the throne. — and often also the throne on filth.

Madmen they all seem to me, and clambering apes, and too eager. Foul smells their idol to me, the cold monster: foul they all smell to me, these idolaters.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Advertisements

IMG_8993


Congress is back in session next Tuesday. The days in session? Twelve. If Republicans don’t rush through cannabis legalization, they will have missed the biggest opportunity for political success — on the order of Democrats’ huge error in opposing the Tea Party (for the stupid, tribal reasons they did).

Missed opportunities are hard to track. But this opportunity, still open, is pretty easy to see. Trump would sign such legislation. He has said as much. And Republicans could (a) express solidarity with the majority opinion on the subject and (b) gain traction with young people, who are especially likely to be against sending marijuana users to jail and ruin their lives by interdiction and prosecution and dispossession.

But, being the Stupid Party, the GOP will not do it. Right?

(Facebook, yesterday)

“Conservatives” and “progressives” are perhaps best seen for what they are on the issue of drugs. For it is here that these two brands of progressivism — socially conservative and socialist/technocratic — come head to head for a kind of weird bipartisanship.

It was the socially conservative progressives (SCP) who needed the illiberal, anti-Constitutional method of the socialist/technocratic progressives (STP), for the old federalism stood in the way of prohibiting alcohol. To get this, the SCPs pushed women’s suffrage and the income tax. These two allowed Prohibition to go national, which was the SCP flagship policy. It was a disaster, of course. And was later repealed in Progressives’ even greater debacle, The Great Depression (yes, it was caused by their policies).

But the STPs had what they needed, the foundations to develop the welfare state and the therapeutic state. That is, the welfare state and the therapeutic state were built, both, on the basis of the female vote and the income tax, and the cultural excuse that Prohibition gave — though Prohibition was ended by constitutional amendment, the general policy was secured at every level, including federal; there would be no real pushback from SCPs (who came to call themselves, with some but not much justification, “conservatives”). And the general progressive mindset allowed them two world wars, and the two wars allowed experiments in “war socialism,” which in turn paved the way for federal regulation and the full panoply of the Administrative State, plus vast programs of redistribution, including Social Security and much more.

And, with all these programs that pleased the STPs so much, there remained the psychoactive drug prohibitions, as a sop to the SCPs. And, of course, the STPs let the states regulate alcohol, in a pretense form of federalism, as a vestige of Prohibition.

I could go on and on, but you see the general tenor. The Republican Party is the SCP party, and the Democrats make up the STP party. Progressivism has triumphed, and Republicans are so ineffective because they do not realize that they embraced the progressive meme long ago, and that it corrupted their souls. And their politics.

(from LocoFoco.us on Facebook, yesterday)

A bill is in play. But it is bipartisan. Republicans should have made it partisan. Or must it be bipartisan because there are enough Prohibitionist in the GOP? What an idiotic coalition the Republican Party is. Even social conservatives and religious Christians have reason to support decriminalization (I prefer full legalization at the federal level). But this group of people are the second least politically astute group in the country.

A friend responds:

You underestimate the buy-in they have on the drug war. Two-thirds of the Republican voters have a Jeff Sessions level religious anti-pot mindset (shared by 1/2 of the democratic voters). Polling will have shown them that any caving on the drug war is going to result in more blow back from their base.

There are certain things each political party cannot do no matter how much political sense it makes. An outsider can come in with these issues and run as an R or D and get independent voter support, but someone who has come through the ranks can’t.

I volley back:

For the same reason the Democrats “had” to attack the Tea Party — not because it was ideologically required or good politics in the long run, but because it was a culture war thing. This is why I hate the two parties.

(Facebook, yesterday)

twv

I have just begun reading Kenneth Minogue’s The Liberal Mind (1963). It is excellent so far. But I notice something odd. He is talking about the nature of liberalism, from John Locke to the present day, but he seems to be downplaying the major transformation of liberalism in the 19th century, from a limited government perspective to a government-everywhere perspective. He deals with J.S. Mill as a transitional figure, briefly, and moves on.

But the Introduction is itself brief, and he can hardly be expected to be exhaustive or even convincing withing its confines. But it is apparent that Minogue is one of those people who see a strong commonality from individualist liberalism to collectivist liberalism — my preferred terms, not his.

Indeed, I do not think it even helpful to pretend that what we [used to] call modern liberalism is, today, very liberal at all. I see three relevant ideologies, here, and they have an interesting relationship:

Liberalism + Socialism = Progressivism

Progressivism – Liberalism = Socialism

The truth is, socialists saw liberalism as anathema, a horrid compromise with tradition and nature. Progressivism is inherently compromised, and cannot make much sense. But a social system always has countervailing powers, so a contradictory ruling philosophy might be seen as a feature, not a bug.

The essence of that early liberal “compromise” with nature and tradition was also a feature, not a bug. Minogue makes an interesting distinction between ideologies developed from goals and those developed from technique. The transformation of liberalism, he suggests, might best be seen in this distinction. The technique of representative governance seems better suited to a goal quite different from the early liberal goal of liberty as a limit to coercion, and generally securing a free society. That different goal? An interest-group version of socialism, where the point is to repeatedly save distinct “classes” from suffering.

I expect Minogue to go on and elaborate on the messianic nature of modern liberalism — that is, progressivism — and the tension between the socialist conception of class and the practical, real-world perceptions of multiple groups’ quite varied interest.

But I took a start, when Minogue used “John Smith” as a literary conceit to designate the citizen in the liberal society.

Where is “Jane Smith,” and the children?

I am not a feminist, but that does not mean that I think we can ignore the role of women and the necessity for dealing with children in political theory. Minogue seems to have accepted the classical liberal stance, theorizing without talking about women and children and family life. Sort of subsuming all that under the category of The Individual.

Indeed, I checked the index and found neither “women” nor “family” nor “children” nor “sexual selection” within.

It is tempting to consider the original liberalism as an ideology promoted by the masculine instincts and reasonings, socialism as an ideology promoted by the feminie instincts and reasonings, and progressivism as some weird compromise between the two. Something like this is what George Lakoff argues in several of his [rather silly] books.

The problem with this is that the classical liberalism I know best — the one that is individualistic; the one that grew into modern libertarianism — spits out the hook and lure of this way of thinking. Most especially, the individualistic view of the world does not see politics primarily in masculine and feminine ways. Lakoff’s paternalism and maternalism dichotomy is not between liberalism and progressivism, but between conservatism and progressivism. Individualist liberals see the State as, at most, an umpire. Anything more, and it is oppressive, corrosive of a free society.

The problem with this non-sexualized view of the State is that it is not how people form their ideological commitments. Masculine and feminine habits of mind swamp the attention. (Probably the reason liberalism turned into progressivism.)

Dr. Jordan Peterson is fond of making the point that there must be a compromise between masculine and feminine world views in our politics — between Mill’s dichotomy, “production” and “distribution.” But is progressivism that compromise? Not now anyway, with modern progressivism jettisoning its liberal elements, putting it well on the way back to a socialist program.

As I have written about elsewhere, Mill’s distinction between production and distribution is gimcracked and incoherent. But the mindset sticks with us because, perhaps, of our family model view of the world: the husband goes out and “produces” while the wife stays at home and “distributes.”

This family model does not, I repeat, fit with the umpire model of the state or ideology. And it is worth noting that individualist liberal economists such as H. Dunning Macleod and Joseph Hiam Levy leveled strong criticism at the production/distribution model as understood by Mill and as fits the modern family model. The world is more complicated, and these concepts can derail a realistic view of the world.

Also missing from Minogue’s index is “messianism.” This is troubling, for what socialism adds to liberalism is the messianic notion of “saving” people. (He does deal with this in what I have read so far.) When women got the right to vote, in America, they were on a crusade against alcohol and the Saloon Power. But they also demanded further programs that saved the suffering. They wanted to distribute the goods collected in taxes and help people. It is a very womanly thing to want. And men, well, men are programmed by evolution to give women what they want. Hence the welfare state, and the male role in it — as leaders giving women what they want.

But feminism has morphed and transformed society yet again, aiming to insert women into high-status occupations traditionally reserved for men, because, well, “equality.” This is not about equality, though, since feminists never desire to see women fill the occupations of low-status men or of those middle-status men who take high-risk jobs. Feminism is quite a fly in the ointment of ideology, muddying up the family model by destroying the family. It makes liberalism, socialism, progressivism more complicated.

I left my copy of The Liberal Mind downstairs. I will sign off, here, to see if Minogue lists feminism in his index. Whether he does or not, I will continue reading. It is a fascinating book, regardless of its apparent sexless nature. After all, most of the political theory I read is sexless, and barely incorporates reproduction into its theoretics.

twv

There must be no bloodshed, no violence unless it is defensive, no coercion! We must do it our way and our way alone! To do otherwise is to betray centuries of hardship and struggle.

Above all else Kyfho. Forget Kyfho in your pursuit of victory over the enemy, and you will become the enemy . . . worse than the enemy because he doesn’t know he is capable of anything better.

― F. Paul Wilson, An Enemy of the State


There is absolutely no link between religion X and violence. But, if you attempt to make such a claim, you’ll make innumerable otherwise peaceful adherents of X very violent. So say that X is peaceful or else face the violent (I mean peaceful) consequences.

—Professor Gad Saad, Facebook, December 11, 2017


But this can’t be happening! [Swedish economist] Johan Norberg pooh-poohed the situation last year. We were silly for believing the stories of no-go zones, increased violence and rape.

But now it’s bombings.

Hint to economists: We worry about terrorism not because it is always statistically a danger, but because the supply of terrorists and terrorist violence is elastic, and the demand isn’t in our direct control.

It’s about scale. Terrorism can scale upwards. Bathtub deaths tend not to so scale. And even opiate deaths do not threaten the legal infrastructure. Terrorism is designed to destabilize. (It often does the opposite of course; ask anarchists, if they have any reflective capacity at all.)

TWV, Facebook, November 4, 2017


Violence and Irrationality in Politics: Paretian Sociology

Alberto Mingardi EXCERPT: [Vilfredo Pareto] considered World War I a consequence of demagogic plutocracy, with profiteers benefiting from military spending and part of the working class cheering entry into the war, hoping for a better life afterward.

The very triumph of demagogic plutocracy foreshadowed a crisis of this kind of regime. Plutocracy feeding demagogy entails a dangerous equilibrium: it means feeding ever-bigger demands for new benefits and special privileges. For Pareto, when a ruling class weakens, it becomes at the same time less efficacious in defending its own power but also more greedy: “on the one hand its yoke gets heavier, on the other hand it has less strength to keep [the yoke on society].”

Giandomenica Becchio EXCERPT: [A] non-logical theory based on irrational feelings and emotions can be very persuasive and useful to generate forms of social integration which seem to work in the short run, yet they are dangerous in the long run because they decrease economic development and erode individual liberty. Both socialism and fascism are good examples of this mechanism which combines rationality and irrationality: in fact, Pareto interpreted political theories as ex-post ways of rationalization and camouflage. . . .

Pareto, who rejected the theory of class struggle, adopted the theory of spoliation to explain the emergence of any governing group that seizes power either in legal or illegal ways. His theory of elites is the broader application of this mechanism to politics. Elites can vary in their compositions, but they are all oligarchic.

Richard E. Wagner EXCERPT: Political environments are different from market environments. People do not bear the value consequences of their political choices. Choosing between candidates is nothing like choosing between products or inputs. One might express a preference for one candidate over the other, but that expression does not yield the product or the input that might have been associated with that candidate. This situation does not mean that action is irrational. It means only that the rationality of action manifests differently in political environments. There can still be reasons for selecting one candidate over the other, only it has nothing to do with products or inputs. It has to do with images and the penumbra of associations those images carry in their wake.

In this respect, [Vilfredo] Pareto, and also his compatriot Gaetano Mosca, treated political competition as a process by which candidates sought to articulate ideological images that resonated more strongly with voters than the images set forth by other candidates. The result of this competitive process was the possibility of inferior outcomes dominating superior outcomes. Along these lines, Jürgen Backhaus (1978) explained how importing some implications of Pareto’s thought into public choice theory could lead to a sharper understanding of how acceptable political programs would have been rejected under market arrangements, with Patrick and Wagner (2015) amplifying Pareto’s scheme of analysis.

via Williamson M. Evers on Facebook, November 13, 2018


Fox news-opinion anchor Tucker Carlson, regarding a recent incident involving his children at a restaurant:

46039169_10156976852874973_41953807483011072_n

A few days ago, Kat Timpf, a quick-witted, quirky and extremely attractive 30-year-old woman who provides a libertarian perspective on the Fox News Network, reported on Twitter that she had been run out of an establishment in New York by a screaming drunk woman.

At some point speech becomes abuse, because it is not just speech. It becomes assault.

I am not sure where that line is, but since I hold to a Stand Your Ground view of self-defense when it comes to deadly weaponry, I am not sure I can condemn Tucker’s son in throwing a drink at the man abusing his sister, calling her the most vile of names. Normally, I would say that owners and managers of eateries and taverns and lounges and the like should try to maintain control at their establishments, preventing some patrons from verbally abusing others, and committing a variety of minatory “speech acts.” If they do not, they implicitly side with the abusers. And, of course, many of the recent instances of harassment of Trump Administration figures have been organized by the establishments’ owners. And at least one has suffered consequences in drop-off in patronage.

A full-blown culture war, with Americans choosing sides and reviling each other in public, and engaging in aggressive speech and action, and in mutual ugliness, is still on the rise. One would have hoped that Democrats taking back the House of Reprentatives last week would have assuaged their mad powerlust that spurs much of this violence. They believe they are entitled to rule, and just cannot countenance those whom they disagree with from having power, even if by democratic processes, within a constitutional framework.

Every political ideology is about force and violence, for every ideology is about directing state power (or limiting it) in defense and offense for social outcomes. So, it is no wonder that those who demand more extensive state action would tend to be more violent. They want more violence.

But of course they want more violence by the State. Their frustration leads them to take action themselves, though.

Conservatives and those “on the right” also can be violent, and have been. But because they want to limit state action in principle — to at least some degree (libertarianism being one of several popular fantasies in conservatives circles) — and because they are, by nature, more conscientious than those “on the left,” they tend to be a bit less violent.

Of course, the besetting sin of the right is rage, and one of their characteristic crimes is going overboard in retaliation against perceived threats. “There is no kill like overkill” could be a slogan of the right in general.

I do not recall seeing mobs of right-wingers rioting after Barack Obama’s election and re-election. But after Trump’s election two years ago, we have witnessed a constant stream of low-level rioting and public abuse, almost to the point of insurrection, from the left. But this is in no way new. The left loves protest marches, which have often instigated rioting on the margins — and sometimes from the center — of the protest ranks. While the Tea Party protests were almost uniformly peaceful, the later left-wing variant of this sort of protest, the “Occupy” protests and sieges, were filled with violence. And the general difference between left and right protest marches is that the right-wing ones almost always have permits, and the left-wing ones rarely do. And yet the police tend to give more leeway to the leftists bent on violence than they do the right-wingers, who tend to engage in violence only in self-defense — when “antifa” and BAMN and other terrorists engage in counter-protests, complete with thrown bottles and swung bike-locks in socks.

The post-Kavanaugh protests at the Supreme Court building, with mobs beating on the doors, and the recent mob at Tucker Carlson’s doorstep, where the beating on the doors actually harmed the doors (I guess the Carlsons did not invest in a castle-apt door), is all the more indication of the inherent violence of the left.

And yet they pretend to be the peaceful ones.

It is part of the left’s strategy, has been since the dawn of socialist agitation, perhaps since the French Revolution: lead with a fantasy of peace, but demand maximum government action, which is inherently terroristic. And the means dreamt of in their mad philosophies being violent, become the means they use in their agitation.

It has always been thus. Which is why I hate the left with a bit more passion than the right. The right leaves social room for individuals and groups as countervailing powers to the State. The left puts everything in the State. And, as part of their agitation, everything in their groups: class struggle; marginalized group rebellion; mob action.

I also support violence: I believe in self-defense. And if a mob is heading towards me, and I cannot easily escape, I reserve the right to go to total war upon the aggressors.

Things do not look pretty. Especially if the economy takes a nose-dive and the ideological character of progress becomes murkier on the right and clearer on the left.

Meanwhile, I sympathize with Tucker Carlson. Even if his politics, these days, veers off into the irrational.


Hey, socialists, if you don’t want me to think of you as violent, maybe you should ditch your ceremonial stance of fist raised in the air.

It looks as threatening as tiki torches, to me. The latter are goofy and convivial as well as threatening in some contexts. But a fist in the air has always been a sign of defiance, at least in our time.

So, yeah: I think of you as wannaBmurderous thugs. Stop throwing rocks and bottles and firecrackers at people you disagree with, and stop chanting with those raised fists, and get back to me.

—TWV, August 4, 2018


re Democrats’ objection to the president’s language regarding illegal-alien gang members:

Most people, of all colors and even parties, are smart enough to know that denigrating cruel, tribalistic murderers is not a sign of denying the human “the spark of divinity,” as doddering Nancy Pelosi put it. It is merely an acknowledgement that people, in their actions, can forsake that moral fiction of “the spark of divinity” for an equally realistic “spark of deviltry.” And yes, “animality” is an adequate figure of speech to cover this. Calling cruel, violent murderers “animals” is one way to raise a “hue and cry” against precisely the people the term “hue and cry” was coined: horrific criminals.

—TWV, May 23, 2018


A Revision on the Bill of Rights, Part III

The main problem with the notion of self-defense is it imposes on justice, for everyone has the right for a fair trial. Therefore, using a firearm to defend oneself is not legal because if the attacker is killed, he or she is devoid of his or her rights.

I just skimmed this, since I try to make a point of not reading any more HuffPo nonsense, but I can still ask — is there a reader on the planet who does not see the idiocy here? The author argues that the problem with lethal self-defense is that it robs criminals of a fair trial! Can anyone not recognize that the purpose of the fair trial is to constrain RETALIATION and not DEFENSE?

There is a difference between the two. At the moment of a crime, social questions of innocence or guilt or possible feuding retaliation (with its ratcheting-up of violence) are not in play.

Elementary concepts elude HuffPo writers.

—TWV, Facebook, June 20, 2017


A point I make that is often lost even on my libertarian friends: the classical liberal theory of the State “monopolized” the use of force not evenly in practice but in the limited sense of setting the terms of all violence, of taking to itself a position in conflict similar to a central bank does in relationship to a nation’s banking system, becoming a “lender of last resort” — the State, in liberal theory, is the Defender of Last Resort.

This means that, according to most classical liberal theorists, such as founders of the United States of America, one does not give up the right of self-defense by living under the umbrella of state power, one merely gives up the right of retaliation and forced redress.

That is the theory, anyway.

twv

It is possible that progressives are now beginning to understand themselves. At least, they are beginning to see how others see them.

Everybody has heard progressives’ opposition to “hate” — and increasingly know progressives mainly for their expressions of hatred.

Everybody’s listened to progressives’ theories of oppression — and increasingly recognize progressives as inveterate oppressors.

Everybody’s witnessed their incessant promotion of inclusion — yet the easiest way to identify progressives is to witness their acts of expulsion, watching those whom they disown.

It now dawns on progressives that they are not the rebels they thought they were. They catch themselves repeatedly defending the major institutions of our society, and watch themselves astride Leviathan, holding the reins of cultural power. For decades, the general tenor of their favored mode of politics has been one of cultural domination, of conservation of power.

But that has not been their self-image, has it?

Well, if you are always screaming for the next sliver of advantage, you can pretend to be a screamer and not a silencer.

Really, hasn’t their habitual stance of opposition been merely a pose?

Sure, their oppositional stance made sense during the Vietnam War. They opposed the war. And to the extent they are against capitalism, well, we do live in a capitalist society. But as everybody knows, it’s awkward complaining about capitalism on an iPhone, and railing against big business while your favorite devices are made by the richest corporation in the country.

But mainly, progressives long ago obtained most of the institutions they have demanded. And it was shown during the Obama administration that the bulk of progressives do not give a rat’s whisker for peace, having enthusiastically protested war during the Bush years only to allow their anti-war protests to peter out upon the accession of Barack Hussein Obama, who then proceeded to do all of the killing Bush did, and more. They opposed not war but Republicans. This is so obvious and so tired an observation one almost hates to bring it up.

Less obvious, with their guy in power, progressives’ attitude of entitlement to power progressed rapidly. And thoroughly. Obama admitted to having a knack for killing people overseas; progressives demonstrated their knack for cherishing power and excusing power — when in their hands.

Then came the opposition to progressivism, which perhaps for the first time was directed against them in ways that they could understand: on the slogan, wit and mockery level, combined with unconcealed contempt. Jon Stewart had primed the pump of progressive hubris during the Bush years, with contempt always an undercurrent. Stewart converted nearly every last nice progressive into a snorting elitist without a lick of respect for those whom they disagreed with. Then, when the candidate selected for them by their own mavens and political vicars lost to the person they had mocked the most, they simply and thoroughly “lost their shit.” And when Obama constitutionally relinquished the reins of power to Trump, their immediate reaction was to revert to protest . . . and demand the suppression of speech they did not like.

On grounds of “hate,” of course, because those who opposed them were “oppressing” special victim classes. Oh, and because those baddies were into “exclusion,” and so therefore must be excluded from any institutional access to platforms that they themselves dominated — the universities, namely, and social media platforms.

There is a dialectic here: self-image as rebels on the outs; success in capturing the commanding heights of the culture; increasing domination of the Democratic Party; a series of massively successful revolutions in manners; partisan success at the federal level along with the promotion of one major reform; and then . . . reversion to rebellion and protest as soon as they lose the presidency, coupled with pressure both public and private to suppress freedom of speech.

Oh, but note that “public and private”: the use of public institutions to suppress dissent from their views was done behind close doors (select Democratic senators threatening social media platforms) while the use of mob action was out in the open. The public was private and the private was public.

The reason for the current hysteria and clumsy graspings at power? Panic is the result of a sudden loss of “privilege.” But what has really got to induce hysteria is the difficult thought that they themselves are not what they have pretended to be.

Now, in this progressives are not alone. My line for years, now, has been that progressives misunderstand conservatism and conservatives misunderstand themselves. But the reverse has also been true. Why? Not merely because political ideology requires a great deal of fiction to keep it going. Man cannot live by realism alone, so Realpolitik must always be leavened with myth. Sure. But what is bigger is that the traditional myths that keep the right and the left going have had so little to do with reality. Socialism is the left’s baseline paradise; strict constructionist constitutionalism (in America) and traditional forms of elitism (generally) the right’s. But neither appears to be workable on its own terms, so each side engages in a lot of pretense.

The funny thing about the standard pretenses? Progressives pretend they do not have most of what they really want, while conservatives pretend that they want what they do not have. We live in a society dominated by progressive institutions. Conservatives, by and large, do not want to get rid of Social Security and Medicare and handouts to the poor. Oh, sure, they tell themselves they want to change things, but once in power they move almost no tick down the road to republicanism. Meanwhile, Progressives do not have all that much more to achieve, which is why they bring in pathetic stories about “gender” and push preposterous notions like biological sex not mattering. Once you have achieved most of what you want, it becomes all-important to make the most of the last few crumbs. (This is Spencer’s Law.)

A whole lot of evasion has gone on. So it has been amusing to watch reality slip into the shouting matches and riots and Twitterstorms. The right is still a confused mess of anti-leftists, but the left? It is increasingly truer and truer to its own entelechy, its own cultic self.

And thus all the more amazing and impossible not to watch. In meltdown.

Ah, progress!

twv

U.S. and NATO, before 1991: Communism must be fought!
U.S. and NATO, after 1991: Just kidding, it was always about Russia!

American leftists, before 1991: Hey, communism isn’t so bad . . .
American leftists, after 1991*: Yeah, it’s the Russians! That’s the ticket.

Rightwingers, before 1991: Those commies are so godless!
Rightwingers, after 1991: Muh military-industrial complex!

 

twv

 

* Especially after Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential loss.

wiseman

A timeline of me changing my attitude on iconoclasm:

  1. When Russians pulled down Lenin statues, at the end of the Soviet era, I cheered.
  2. When folks in Seattle’s Fremont District put up a Lenin statue, I snickered.
  3. When American forces, during the Conquest of Iraq, hit some major sites of ancient Mesopotamian civilization I was deeply irked.
  4. When ISIS began dismantling, destroying and selling off ancient statues from Assyria as “idols,” I was aghast that any modern would wish to treat as objects for either current reverence or irreverence millennia-old statuary.
  5. When SJWs turned against the statuary of the Civil War dead, I was somewhat disturbed that anyone would treat centuries-old and even decades-old memorials as objects for current reverence or irreverance — other than a reverance for history.

My attitude about recent iconoclasm is not unlike my attitude regarding speech: just as the proper response to speech one does not like is more speech, the proper response to statuary one doesn’t like is not iconoclasm but more statuary. It is easy to destroy, not so easy to put up new monuments — they cost money, at the very least. Destroying statuary amounts to destroying history. And destruction, even the destruction of ugly history, seems more like childishness than maturity. Adults should be able to look at a statue and not get sucked into its implied ideology.

And, surely, the postmoderns are right: any given artifact possesses more than one meaning. We Hyperboreans are authorized to pick and choose the meanings we prefer, surely.

I prefer knowledge to ignorance, truth over myth, and seeing even the most vile of monuments as examples of history.

Yes, I am one of those people fascinated by ancient monuments. I have been since very young. You know: the Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu, Göbekli Tepe, all that.  My interest has engendered quite a bit of reverence for these monuments’ historicity, not allegiance to their original functionality. I am quite certain I would not support the bulk of the policies of the ancient monument-builders were someone foolish enough to attempt to revive those policies.

I made peace with Lenin being in Seattle. Still . . . perhaps I should fear the statue’s influence on Seattle politics. Could it have given succor to socialism on the current Seattle City Council?

Which brings up an important point: republican governments should probably forgo the making of monuments. They are inherently propagandistic, and though celebrating the heroes of the republic seems a fine thing, it is worth doing this privately, with private funds on private land. If republics have any legitimacy, it is in defending individual rights. Adding propagandistic and eulogizing monuments to the mix of political duties is part of the ancien régime where much effort had to be made to pretend that leaders were gods, or,  at the very least, God’s servants upon the Midgard.

All this notwithstanding, were it up to me, a motto emblazoned upon every legislative house with the words Mundus vult decipi would be more apt than any other maxim, like E pluribus unum or Novus ordo seclorum.

But in politics, truth is not what you lead with.

twv

 

 

The Democratic Party, in America, is in disarray. And is astoundingly weak.

But why?

Because Democrats lost their way, embracing oppositionalism, racism-baiting, and vulgar stupidity in place of the kind of power negotiations that made Tip O’Neill tops in the 1980s.IMG_1239

At the beginning of the Obama Administration, the Democrats had a chance at establishing a lock on the American polity. It is obvious that there are enough progressives to ride herd over the rest of America. But the progressives have one major problem: they are intellectually flaccid, morally depraved and clueless about how the world works.

The Democrats could have succeeded by doing one thing in 2009: embrace the Tea Party. But they couldn’t do that. Not because the Tea Party was saying anything inherently Democratic, but because Progressives need white, Flyover Country rubes to hate. And because they support ever-more government not because it is better for people, but because that trend-line conforms to their religious bigotries, their statism.

So the left waited a year or two and started their own, made-in-hell protest movement:  Occupy X. And that quickly became so repellent (messy, hysterical, raping mobs “protesting” what they were not quite sure) that they lost face with normal people.

Concurrently with this, the Democrats pushed through an unpopular Jerry-rigged health care reform package — which in turn made life really hard for working folks. (Though it was a boon to non-working folks, and, perhaps, the very sick. It basically ruined my finances for two or three years. So I was not a happy camper.) Indeed, Obama backed it all the way, thereby pissing away much of his political capital.

Add to that fiasco Obama’s racial stance, with the Trayvon Martin case and others, where Obama exacerbated tense racial relations. He basically doubled down on the left’s moral preening about racism. To say that middle-class white Americans were not impressed would be to understate it.

What’s worse, Obama’s foreign policy appeared incoherent: the Libya fiasco, the proposed Syria coup, the rise of ISIS, and a continuing Afghanistan war sat on top of Obama’s ramping up of the drone strike policy — all followed by the Russia uranium deal (which people did not understand) and the Iran deal (which people understood even less). There was nothing really good on the foreign policy front. Obama got his Nobel Peace Prize upon election, and apparently decided that this undeserved honor gave him the green light to mess up the rest of his term in office.

Finally, the Democrats offered up for American consideration a self-satirizing socialist and a corrupt insider harpy . . . to take Obama’s place. And insiders in the corrupt party used chicanery to squelch the socialist. They all rallied around A Woman, and the left’s besetting reverse discrimination play became obvious for all to see. Nothing was kept close to the chest. The cards were on the table. The Queen of Spades was up to ride into the presidency and rule America — a second dynasty in our time was set to change everything by changing nothing.

Obama may very well have been elected “because he was black,” but enough Americans got squeamish about voting in a woman for no better reason than her “gender.”

And that was the final straw. Republicans, adrift since the Tea Party fizzled, flitted from one candidate to another, finally selecting the Mule, the weirdest candidate in American history, Donald Trump.

Because Democrats had so disgraced themselves, and because they went hysterical at the very idea of Trump, enough Americans voted for the outsider to send him to Washington, D.C.

Though going in I knew the election would be closer than Democrats were saying, I was nevertheless surprised that The Donald took the Electoral College.

I was pleased, of course, to see an obvious slimeball booted off stage. But I confess, Trump made me a bit nervous.

But there has been little time to worry, for the Democrats could not help themselves: they doubled down. The Resistance went into full protest mode. And the left disgraced Progressivism again. The left’s invective against the new president just wouldn’t let up. And seemed so unhinged.

And as if to prove every point I have ever made against partisanship, leftists accused the new president of nearly everything their side exhibited better:

  • Ignorance
  • Sexism
  • Racism
  • Vulgarity
  • Corruption and self-dealing

The list could go on and on. Only with the petty “orange hair” crap could I see something that might not apply better to the Democrats themselves — though pussy-hats mimicked Trump’s hairdo’s color and risible nature. (This must have something to do with one’s head and the collective unconscious.)

Democrats could have played nice with Trump and got him to do all sorts of things they wanted. After all, the man had been a self-described Democrat for much of his adult life, a hobnobber with the Clintons and (I am told, if not necessarily reliably) a guest on the Epstein Rape Plane. But instead of cultivating Trump, their anti-Trump hysteria turned off even many #NeverTrumpers. Huge mistake, that. In the game of coup-stick insult and grudge-holding, Trump is the master. He knows how to use others’ vices for his benefit.

Now Trump has made some sort of deal with North Korea. This is obviously good from a Democratic point of view — accept that it was not a Democrat who did it. So Trump is riding high and the Democrats look like losers.

Still, after all this, the Trump win remains a bit strange, no matter how bad a candidate Hillary Clinton was. Perhaps the election was fixed — not by Russians or Julian Assange, but by time travelers from the future. The devastation of a Hillary Clinton presidency was just so much that they broke protocols and “fixed” history.

Anything being better than Hillary. Even post-human Americans can understand that.

We live in interesting times.

twv

35227213_10155603705206915_7616839253498003456_n

The day neoliberals embraced neoconservatism.

Sibelius MONUMENT

Early adopters of a meme — which could be a folkway, a technology, an idea or whole ideology — are different from late adopters; indeed, early adopters are psychologically distinct from late adopters across time, even regarding the same idea.

This means that the early adopters of “progressive” statism in the 19th century and early 20th centuries do not look like current proponents of the same ideology. That is, because today’s progressives are late adopters — indeed, holdouts . . . as their ideology, once dominant, begins to receive significant cultural challenge — they are essentially conservative or reactionary in temper.

This explains current ideological conflict, and the outrageous censoriousness of the left. The people who think they are radicals are conservative, and the people who think themselves conservatives may, in psychological fact if not on some historical ideological maps, be the radicals.


From Alex Ross’s The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century (2008):

In 1984, the great American avant-garde composer Morton Feldman gave a lecture at the relentlessly up-to-date Summer Courses for New Music, in Darmstadt, Germany. ‘The people who you think are radicals might really be conservatives,’ Feldman said on that occasion. ‘The people who you think are conservative might really be radical.’ And he began to hum the Sibelius Fifth.

Sometimes it seems as though people no longer know what freedom of speech is. The Stanley Fish argumentation in his infamous essay against the very coherence of free speech has not increased clarity or general understanding — though I take it that was indeed what Fish was trying to provide. So I have, in a number of venues, tried to explain free speech.

Recently on Quora I have answered two questions that sketch out what I believe to be the correct formulation of the idea:

I provided the gist of my understanding in the first essay:

Remember, freedom of speech is a term of art. It does not mean “all speech is free,” or that all symbolic acts are legally justifiable. Freedom of speech is merely speech broadly construed (semiosis) that does not aggress against the rights of others to be free. It is a way of defending freedom in the realm of speaking, listening, reading, writing, etc.

We cannot (rightly) possess a right to use speech to conspire against the rights of others.

The most important point to take away is this: a right to free speech does not mean that all speech is free.

Free speech “absolutists” get this wrong all the time, for they are constantly moved by their desire for consistency and absolutism to construe all speech as free. One reason for this is that they wish to use the First Amendment in a lawyerly way, with specific words carrying the most weight. They most strongly wish to avoid philosophy, and instead use the Constitution as a magic document, and the words in it as incantations that solve all problems.

We can see how well that has turned out.

And perhaps my free speech absolutist friends are afraid of Fishian (piscine?) error, of saying that if some speech is free and other speech is not, then the demarcating line must be arbitrary.

This is just simply not the case.

So, what is the line of demarcation between speech that is protected as free and speech that is not?

Freedom itself, in the wider context.

Most importantly, free speech really only makes sense in societies that regard general freedom (liberty) as in some sense primary. Indeed, it also only makes sense — and this can be seen best when paired up with freedom of religion and especially the press and association in the First Amendment listing — in a private property rights regime.

You have the right to speak freely on your property. You have the right to speak freely on property you have hired for the occasion.

It necessarily becomes murky regarding public places. This is especially murky regarding the freedom of the press when the press is a government outfit, like Britain BBC. What is “freedom of the press” regarding a government-run medium? All speech is finite, and its purveying is done under conditions of scarcity. Everyone must ration their resources. Including newspapers and blogs as well as radio and TV networks. So when the BBC makes an editorial decision, “free speech” is problematic: which words and ideas to broadcast is a constant decision-making process, with some telling others what to say and what listeners and viewers may hear. “Freedom of speech” is perilously close to meaningless. (But is not.) Which is why minimizing government is a necessity: it obviates basic principles and places government bodies in the position of serving some people and not others.

And government is, in theory, supposed to serve all people.

Oh, why did I bring up “freedom of the press”? That is not free speech, I can hear someone protest.

But it is. “The press” is just a technological way of distributing speech beyond our local realms, outside of our properties. It is free speech with extended borderlines. But the extension must always conform — as speech alone must conform — to individual rights in society.

It might be useful to remind today’s confused connoisseurs to see these concepts in a continuum:

freedom: of thought — of speech — of press

with the most basic being on the left and going from private to public as we read right.

And the context of property rights integrates everything. Without property rights there is no freedom of any kind. For freedom depends on exit rights and exclusion rights. Which, together, make up free association, which is implied by free speech and press freedom.

And, as I noted on Quora: No one has a right to contract a hitman to murder another. You cannot absolve yourself on “free speech” grounds for that sort of criminal speech. Similarly, you may not command someone you have reason to believe will follow your orders to commit a crime, either. The common law has long held that incitement to riot and similar acts do not constitute protected speech because free.

The idea is simple: freedom as both a fact and a right requires reciprocity. Your speech cannot be defended as free speech if your speech precludes others from their free speech.

It is an old idea, reciprocity. But people still get this wrong.

Maybe it would help to compare freedom of speech and press with freedom of religion. In the United States, the First Amendment prohibits Congress from messing about in religious matters, or favoring one religion over another, ceteris paribus.

But that does not mean everything declared “religious” is protected. It may be the case that you desire to sacrifice infants and virgins to your god Ashtaroth, but let us be realistic: sacrifice of this kind abridges the rights of infants and virgins. “Religion” is no excuse for crime.

This is not so nuanced an idea that it cannot be readily understood. No? But maybe it is difficult. After all, I cannot recall anyone else make this exact formulation.

So this is what I insist upon: all these British-American concepts are terms of art, and the art should not seem to us British and American citizens at all recondite. The art is liberty. As soon as you erode liberty either by erecting a Leviathan state (of any variety) or by engaging in piecemeal criminal activity, these freedoms become incoherent.

twv