You can add up the parts
But you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march
There is no drum
Every heart, every heart
To love will come
But like a refugee
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
From “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen. Continue reading
Under Russian communism, people knew what they were supposed to say and what not, but it did not mean that the majority of Russians actually believed Russian propaganda, that was why things like “The Terror” were perhaps necessary; purges and executions keeping people bewildered and scared. East Germans did not simply embrace Marxism either, hence the desire to escape over the Berlin Wall by some, and the need for perpetual surveillance. Professors at the University of Belgrade under Yugoslav communism who were overt Marxists were regarded as hacks and jokes by perhaps the majority of the students; not people to be taken seriously, though the relatively moderate rule of Tito, not being as oppressive as Soviet-style communism, was also not as opposed. Likewise, it seems like German fascism enjoyed more popular support than Bolshevism which really was a tiny movement. Russians were used to autocratic rule, and still are. So, once the Czar abdicated, the “head of state” could be fairly neatly replaced with Lenin and his cronies. Popular support was neither expected nor required. Russian peasants tended to be staunchly theistic and thus opposed to communism with its atheism. The disaster of collectivized farming would not have helped either. Continue reading
Confusingly, the Left seems to offer libertinism and the freedom to gratify desires of almost any description without compunction; drugs, random sex, prancing around naked, dressing up as cartoons in cosplay, you name it. However, if your desire is to be a normal family man or woman, then you are a target for the most puritanical and judgmental hatred. This has been going on for a long time. Feminists were encouraged by people like Simone de Beauvoir to regard wives who had children and cared for them themselves as despicable. People with the most far-out “identities” want to be regarded as normal and to be accepted. Some older old-fashioned homosexuals used to actually like the “transgressive” aspect of “forbidden love” and wanted nothing to do with normalization and gay marriage, by analogy with an accidental happenstance peek down a blouse versus the bare-it-all boredom of a bikini. Continue reading
Salyer points out that an important characteristic of the Left is the demand for justification. However, why we love one woman, family, community, nation, rather than another cannot be justified. Any quality the beloved might have will be possessed by another. The cultures of other countries have their own charms, not necessarily existing in our own country, too. The Right, however, believes in loyalty, and loyalty and justification cannot coexist. The rationalist demand for justification is irrational. Rationalism per se is irrational. The truly rational acknowledge the limits of reason and accommodate mystery. The demand for justification cannot be justified, but the limits on justification can.
Tradition is a product of trial and error – a combination of what works and historical happenstance. Cooking styles will be influenced by locally available produce and, at times, climate. Extremely spicy food is connected to hot climates which accelerate spoilage. Can a Frenchman justify his love of French cooking versus Chinese? Not really. And yet, his loyalty to his own cuisine is good and beautiful. Without the love of French cuisine, it ceases to exist.
Axioms cannot be justified – or rather, they are self-justifying. Without self-evident axioms there is nihilism, the characteristic of the Left. And then, the Left accepts only empirical statements as legitimate. Empiricism is synonymous with objectivity and thus measurement. The Good, the desire for the True, and the Beautiful cannot be measured and thus cannot be justified. This is why spiritual, nonmaterial reality, is necessary to avoid nihilism. Continue reading
Create an elite class of cosmopolitan technocrats with no allegiance to any country or city; equally happy to live in Paris, London, New York, Tokyo. Do this through enormous international corporations, with the same qualities, and selecting candidates needed to perform corporate functions. This will work better if all sentimental attachments to family, home, city, and country are jettisoned and demonized as parochial nationalism promoted by benighted Neanderthals living in flyover country. This creates Globalism – a mixture of economic interdependence, watered down deracinated Western culture, promoting cosmopolitanism, “tolerance,” and the attempt to make any odd subculture feel “accepted” and normalized, while at the same time trying to dismantle any idea of normalcy. Continue reading
The alternative to public justice is private justice. Historically, private justice has included interminable feuds. A member of a family is killed or injured, the affected family retaliates by killing or injuring either the imagined assailant or a member of his family. This assailant’s family then retaliates, injuring or killing members of the first family ad infinitum. Some feuds have been known to last centuries.
Another method involves vigilantism. An angry mob becomes judge, jury, and executioner. There is no trial or careful determination of guilt and the remedies open to the mob of vigilantes are limited to the noose or possibly a severe beating if the victim gets lucky. The vigilante mob is vulnerable to the speeches and sophisms of mellifluous scoundrels. There are no rules of evidence, so it is all too easy for someone’s enemies to conspire against him. Mere unsubstantiated rumor and baseless assertion provides sufficient pretext to attack. If it concerns you that innocent people are sometimes falsely convicted in the public justice system, you should be more concerned about the consequences of mob rule. Continue reading
In Dr. Faustus, Thomas Mann identifies the inadequacies of thinking of freedom in terms of free will. The narrator describes the paradox of freedom as being only the ability to deviate from God’s will. If that were true, then freedom is only the power to do evil. That would imply that the devil represents freedom and God represents bland conformity and submission.
Those of us trained in philosophical thinking are so used to equating freedom with free will that Berdyaev’s disparagement of this idea, even contempt, can be disconcerting and puzzling upon first encountering it. The same unappealing picture of free will can be found in Kant as identified by Mann’s narrator. Free will for Kant is the ability to ignore nature and the empirical, and to follow the moral law – a moral law that is the same for all. Man is the maker or discerner of the law, the ruler, and also the subject of the law, the follower. In the process, Kant invents a new form of determinism that could be called rational determinism, or moral determinism. Nature provides the railroad of desire, pleasure, and “happiness.” The rational being can jump off the tracks, only to find himself immediately on new rational train tracks. A being first pressed upon as a piano key by nature and the laws of egotism, described by Dostoevsky in Notes From Underground, finds a new prison for himself created by rationality. Continue reading
Most people will not drown a passing stranger if terrorists tell them that the alternative is that they will kill five innocent people. They will not push a fat man off a bridge in order to save five other lives. There is a good reason for this, and it is that the prohibition on murdering innocent people is the most fundamental of all moral rules. Once that is removed, then that is the end of people living together. And yet, the majority of people think it is OK to pull a lever that means the death of an innocent person, in order to save five others – though they will not drown or push that one innocent person. This contradiction then has morally nihilistic implications – namely it suggests that morality makes no sense and moral intuitions are not just unreliable, but irrational.
Previously, I had suggested that the lever acted like a magical talisman that distorts our moral intuitions, putting enough emotional distance between us and the impact and significance of taking an innocent life, much as Dresden was bombed with incendiary bombs dropped from thousands of feet up in the air that roasted people alive. There is a good chance that the occupants of that same plane would be loath to push someone into an oven, lock the door, and then turn the temperature up and listen to them scream as they baked to death, even though the result is identical and just as painful either way. Continue reading
The pathological version of Green thinking flattens Clare Grave’s hierarchy of moral development because it rejects the notion of superior and inferior. Strangely enough, the tendency has been to reject all of Western civilization as though leaving the caves and the savannah were terrible mistakes, and that we would be better off without such amazing cultural contributions as those of Homer, Plato, and Shakespeare.. This connects to Rousseau’s fantasy that life in “the state of nature” was a paradise. If you read Discourse on Inequality (notice the title) it is clear that “the state of nature” never existed. Rousseau imagines a completely solitary man wandering through the forest, lying down to sleep when he is tired, drinking from the river when thirsty, and helping himself to fruit from trees when he is hungry. There is no notion of parents, or family. Women get pregnant from chance and random encounters in the forest, and no one ever makes the connection between sexual intercourse and pregnancy. Rousseau, in real life, impregnated his housekeeper multiple times and immediately sent the children to orphanages where they died. He commented that he had no interest in his housekeeper as a person and that she served merely to relieve him of sexual frustration. He obviously had no interest in his children either. Arguably, Rousseau’s attitude towards romantic love, sex, and children has become rather popular – with some people seeing children as nothing but a nuisance and a misery to be got rid of through abortion or birth control – and sex as impersonal and unrelated to love. Continue reading
A universe with no God can be expected to be random, chaotic, and meaningless. The fact that there even is a universe, is of course a problem for the atheist. Why is there something rather than nothing? Is the slightly odd query. In the Godless universe, Darwin is king. There is even an oratorio for Darwin, a musical form normally reserved for Christ and saints. The religious impulse pops up in another guise. Natural selection and, the later developed concept, of random mutation is supposed to drive organismic life – with the impossible miracle happening; order coming out of chaos, still with no Logos in sight. So, with neo-Darwinism, the random and chaotic, nonetheless has an apparent telos. If organisms exist, the very least they could do in this supposedly chaotic universe, would be to be some monstrous pulsating blob of slime churning between grotesque structures, rather than being frequently rather beautiful and even graceful. Continue reading