On the Reality and Ubiquity of Witches

“For my part, I have ever believed, and do now know, that there are witches.”

Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici (1642)

“You have sold yourself to do evil.”

1 Kings 21: 20

In a recent post, Kristor confessed his belief in daimonic reality, as indeed every logical human must.  Belief in spirits is not an archaic superstition, but is rather a valid inference from the fact that the natural world is not self-explanatory.  As Sir Thomas Browne explained in the middle of the seventeenth century, the “learned heads” that say it is self-explanatory “forget their metaphysics.” Continue reading

The Amorphous Soul

                                           “Another shapeless soul,
Full of revolts and hates and tyrannous force.”

Lewis Moris, Epic of Hades (1876)

There is talk of “reeducation camps” in the lively comment thread ensuant to Kristor’s recent “Never Panic” post.  This talk should really be of “more rigorous reeducation camps,” since every culture is nothing but a reeducation camp in which men and women are, as Machiavelli said, “reminded of those ordinances in conformity with which they ought to live.”*  The only question is whether those men and women participate in this universal reeducation camp as eager or refractory campers. Continue reading

The Morlock Question

“One consequence is the breeding in the slums of our great cities . . . of a hoard of semi-barbarians, whose unskilled labor is neither required in our present complex industrial organization, nor capable of earning a maintenance there.” 

Sidney Webb, The Difficulties of Individualism (1896)

“Proletarianism is a state of feeling rather than a matter of outward circumstance.” 

Arnold J. Toynbee, A Study of History, vol. 5 (1939)

Webb wrote this line as a Fabian socialist, and therefore argued that the “hoard of semi-barbarians” could be redeemed if the state would only take up their cause and civilize them.  He believed that “the private ownership of land and capital” was the root cause of this hoard of semi-barbarians, because private property had an “evil effect on human character and the multiplication of the race.”  Webb therefore believed that this evil effect would disappear if only land and capital passed into the hands of the state. Continue reading

Omens, Portents and Signs

I spent much of this past weekend on my back under the kitchen sink, wrestling out an old faucet and shoving in a new one.  As many of you know from experience, this is a provoking business that requires many painful contortions and cruel frustrations, not to mention periodic showers of rusty grit into one’s eyes.  If I did not break the Third Commandment, it was by the grace of God. Continue reading

A Terror to Evildoers of All Kinds: More Bryan Lynchings from 1874

“The true cowboy is a terror to evildoers of all kinds.”

John Henry Sullivan, Life and Adventures of the Genuine Cowboy (1896)

I trust that we all recognize the defects of vigilante justice. Vigilantes have poor standards of evidence, make little effort to curb their passions and prejudices, and urge rather than condemn a rush to judgment.  Vigilante justice is therefore liable to errors of indictment and excesses of brutality.  But none of this means it is incapable of exacting justice, or that the slow and deliberate procedures of the judicial system are in every way superior.  Indeed, as a thoughtful vigilante would explain, slow and deliberate procedures are defective insofar as they drain from justice the valuable elements of righteous wrath and chastening terror. Continue reading

The Black Pig and the Carrion Birds

“There are strong indications . . . that, in ancient times, the boar was held in great dread, or perhaps in great estimation.” 

W. G. Martin, Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland (1902)

“Not as a vulture but a dove
The Holy Ghost came from above.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863)

I was on the river Saturday afternoon, and from my canoe saw, among other things, the carcass of a dead black pig stretched out on the muddy river bank.  I cannot say why this black pig died, but can say its death was not lamented, since such black pigs are hereabouts abhorred as vermin and a pestilence.  They are, in fact, a feral breed descended from domestic swine that long ago escaped or were released into the wild.  The offspring of the liberated swine prospered in central Texas, where winters are mild and nuciferous trees are plentiful.  But even as they prospered, they were no longer esteemed as a ready source of easy meat, and were instead dreaded as rooting vermin that tore up the land. Continue reading

The Politics of Guilt

It is a well-known fact that politics arose from the fact that a man cannot scratch his own back.  The configuration of his limbs prevents dexterous scratching with his back leg, in the manner of a dog or cat, and the dignity of his person prevents rolling on the ground like a horse, or rubbing against a fencepost like a cow.  And thus it was that one of our shaggy ancestors proposed to another, “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” Continue reading

Smetana Folks

Orthosphere commenter Joseph A. recently wrote that he could humanely bridge the ideological chasm between himself and an SJW if he found that they both shared a love for the music of the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana.  In the hope that it might add to this love feast, I promised to send him a photo of a hamlet called Smetana, which lies six or seven miles west of here.

Continue reading