A press-release from the Office of the President at Upstate Consolation University contains an announcement that beginning in the fall semester, a new graduate program, the first of its kind in North America, will offer a master’s degree in Studies Studies. In the announcement, UCU President Chloe Alexandra Brainepanne expresses her enthusiasm for the new Studies Studies Program, funds for which became available when the Academic Senate passed a measure eliminating all literature courses in the English Department, which will henceforth dedicate itself entirely to Freshman Remedial Writing and Advanced Internet Media Appreciation. Several former English faculty members will transfer to Studies Studies, while the rest have been indefinitely furloughed.
When you carry an improper reduction into practice, you end up destroying valuable things – you make your theory a weapon. This can end in only two ways: you drop your weapon, or you use it to hack at yourself.
Take, for example, libertarianism.
Homo economicus gets a bad rap, as being insensible of the finer things in life: love, charity, worship, beauty, and so forth. He is supposed to be interested only in profit for himself.
In fact, the notion is far more comprehensive. Included in the calculus of what is profitable to economic man is his evaluation of what is morally best, spiritually best, and so forth. We all weigh our decisions in this manner, balancing our desires to fulfill obligations, to meet duties, to care for our bodies and for those whom we love, to tend the garden, make some profitable trades, respond to customers, go to church, and so forth. Economic life is not about spending and getting money, it is about allocating time. And the question ever before each of us is always the same: what is the right thing to do now, mutatis mutandis? I.e., given my overall schedule of preferences for all the possible things that I could do – including doing nothing – what is optimal?
Homo economicus is often profane and wicked and debased and ignoble, to be sure; but only because he is Fallen, and then only insofar as he has not been baptized and converted to a new and righteous and truer mind, so that his preferences are still whacked by idolatry and falsehood and unbelief, thus queering and ruining all his evaluations. The homo economicus that people gripe about is miscalled. His true name is homo irreligiosus.
How to get students to respect the professor… Carry a hand phaser! That’s Rachel, a very good sport!
The liberal cause célèbre of the month has been transgender bathrooms. Before that it was gay marriage. I imagine as a gay man one would have felt very good about that; people coming out to big rallies and the liberal media saying all sorts of nice things about homosexuals. At a college I know of, a gay man was hired by the philosophy department and appointed chief diversity officer. It would be a tremendous scandal if he turned out not to be gay after all! If he were caught embracing a woman in a sexual manner, quelle horreur.
We have seen that feminists throw women under the bus when it comes to Islam’s treatment of women. Cultural relativism trumps any despicable thing one might do to women. Pointing to Sweden’s distinction as having the second-highest number of rapes per 100,000 in the world due to Muslim immigration makes one a racist. Being a Muslim trumps being a woman for most favored status. Being a Muslim trumps our instinct to protect women, at least for liberals/feminists. It even trumps our desire to protect children. Mohammad married a six year old and had sex with her when she was nine. This has not been renounced as far as I know. Pedophilia is to be tolerated if it is practiced by Muslims or at least by Mohammad.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, most of my students think that the greater horror they can “tolerate” the better people they are – up to and including the Holocaust. I used to tell my students that this was not the intention of their misguided teachers who taught them to be moral and cultural relativists. Now, I wonder if perhaps it was the intention of their teachers. But whether it was or not, it is now the intention of liberals to tolerate any behavior of those with most favored status.
Walking through the Financial District of San Francisco and taking in the tremendous diversity of dress and accoutrement there to be seen is a source of endless interest. After years of observation, I have developed a hypothesis about what a person’s dress indicates about his inner condition, to wit: any obvious design to appear abnormal indicates spiritual disease, a deep unhappiness of some sort – alienation, confusion, loneliness, perhaps despair – that has prompted a compensatory effort to attract attention, as it were almost a cry for help. Or, more succinctly: if you look as though you are trying to look a certain way, you feel you are failing to be what you would like to have been.
There is always an oligarchy, whether or not it is explicit. Where there is no recognized aristocracy – where, i.e., there is a liberal political order – oligarchic society inevitably devolves sooner or later to anarcho-tyranny.
Liberalism is founded upon two fundamental principles: Equality and Liberty. The former implies the latter. If all men are equal, then no man is suited either by nature or historical happenstance, nor therefore is he legitimately entitled, to exercise authoritative sway over his fellows, so as at all to constrain their liberty. If all men are equal simpliciter, then all men are free equally and perfectly, and none may rightly rule.
But of course, Liberty and Equality are contradictory. You can’t have both. The only way to let men be free is to let them be unequal. The only way to make men equal then is to eliminate their liberty, so as to make them all the same. To make all men equally free – which is to say, equally powerful – is to institute anarchy; and the only way to do it is by tyranny. Thus, our current state: anarcho-tyranny.
Tariffs are suddenly respectable again across a wide swath of the Right. Are they essentially at odds with free markets, ergo with prosperity, as others on the Right insist? Can a nation prosper that imposes them?
It is a well-known implication of Darwinian evolutionary theory that one thousand monkeys, furnished with as many word-processing devices, and ensconced both gratis and in perpetuum in a mid-priced traveler’s hotel such as the Marriott Suites, would, by their inveterate although quite random keyboard activity, eventually produce either –
1. Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged; or –
2. The generic mission-statement of any graduate-level “studies” program at any state-supported consolation-university in North America.
I place my bet on Atlas Shrugged, but in my circle of intimate friends, to whose wisdom I defer, the majority of opinion favors the generic mission-statement. A consolation-university, by the way, is any state-supported, doctorate-granting institution of higher education that is not, for example, Ann Arbor or Berkeley. Let us say that Michigan State and UC Irvine are paradigms of the consolation-university. (Not that I hold any brief for Ann Arbor or Berkeley. My consolation-university was UCLA.)
Politics – the abstract discourse upon how best to order the City – can proceed only within the City itself, and among its citizens: men who have taken personal responsibility for its welfare and defense, pledging their lives thereto, and thus in extremis to each other. It can proceed then only when there is a City in the first place: when the City itself is coherent; when, in other words, essentially all the citizens have the same basic ideas about what is fair and right, so that the matter of political discourse is concerned with how best to achieve it. Its foreconditions are widespread adherence to a common cult – i.e., to a common understanding of what is good and proper and just – and a common native tongue, the moral terms of which, as shared from the cradle, are therefore transparently clear to everyone, so that conversation can proceed.