Saturday, December 09, 2006

Saturday Review

I’m thinking about cutting back my blogging from seven days to five, writing new posts on weekdays and then posting edited versions of older material on weekends. I intend to return to a discussion of Wilber’s Integral Politics, but it can’t hurt to begin with a review of what I believe and why I believe it.

As it so happens, there is an interview of me in the new issue of What is Enlightenment? magazine, with which Wilber is closely associated. The interview doesn’t delve into politics, so I am quite sure they are going to receive a flood of angry and alarmed letters from people who check out the blog and discover to their horror that, not only am not a leftist "progressive," but that I consider leftism the greatest danger and impediment to the type of integral spirituality discussed in the magazine.

A few readers have already found their way here after reading the interview, and, to their credit, have kept an open mind. One of them in particular has asked me to clarify the difference between classical liberalism and leftism, which I am happy to do. This is a key distinction, because without it, you simply will not be able to think clearly about politics, for leftism, as it relates to classical American liberalism, is an illiberal philosophy. Therefore, it is quite confusing to call leftists liberals.

*****

Let’s begin with some definitions. Spirituality is the quest to understand the Truth of our existence (“doctrine”) and to align our will and our being with that Truth (“method”). Politics has to do with one's philosophy of government, and more generally, of the relations between men and society. Economics, in the words of Thomas Sowell, has to do with the allocation of scarce resources which have alternatve uses, and more generally, with laws governing the creation of wealth.

There have obviously been countless political philosophies down through the ages, mostly bad ones. For that matter, there have been countless false or partial religions. Sometimes religion can swallow up politics (as in the case of Islam), while some bad political philosophies, such as Leftism, attempt to do away with religion and drain the world of its transcendent dimension, either in subtle ways, such as various "liberal theologies," or in more ham-handed ways, as in the case of the secular fundamentalists and metaphysical yahoos at the New York Times or ACLU. Once you have drained reality of its transcendent dimension, there is only a horizontal struggle below for mere animal existence. Their only ideal is that there are no ideals except that people with religious ideals are dangerous.

However, one cannot actually do away with religion, one can only displace it and insert false religion in its place. For example, to paraphrase an anonymous friend, if you are a secular leftist who sees reality as nothing more than a class struggle between exploiter and exploited, victim and oppressor, you are in fact a worshipper of an idol named Mars. This is nowhere more obvious than in the unrelieved rage of a light-free, ghost-dancing spiritual community such as dailykos or huffingtonpost. (A critical point: do not ever equate “spirit” with good; clearly, there is good spirituality and bad spirituality, i.e., Aztec, Nation of Islam, Scientology, etc.)

*****

At the foundation of the secular leftist revolt against God is the attendant idea that there is no such thing as absolute Truth, for God, among other things, is the ground and possibility of Truth. One of the benefits of religion -- properly understood -- is that it prevents the mind from regressing into the magical worldview, the circular maze of pagan thought that preceded the major revelations. Sophisticated postmodern secularists believe they are making progress by leaving the "superstitions" of religion behind, but this is rarely the case. Instead of believing “nothing,” they tend to believe in “anything,” which is where the pseudo-religion of contemporary liberalism -- that is, leftism -- comes in. Secular leftists simply elevate relativism to the status of an absolute, and thereby circle around from “post-” to “premodern” in their thinking.

In genuine liberalism the emphasis is on liberty in its deepest spiritual sense, whereas in leftism the emphasis is on equality in a blandly horizontal, exterior, and ultimately soul-destroying sense. The purely secular world is a “flatland” prison where the human spirit is confined as a result of having foreclosed the wider world of vertical liberty. It is an elaborate cognitive system that has been constructed for the purposes of living in this man-made Dark Age. Its language is a sort of braille, it's ideology a cane for moving about in this subterranean world. Only the recovery of spiritual vision confers true freedom, because it allows one to move vertically.

Contrary to what you may have been taught, America’s truly liberal founders were steeped in Judeo-Christian metaphysics. As such, they did not believe in mere license, which comes down to meaningless freedom on the horizontal, exterior plane. Rather, they believed that horizontal history had a beginning and was guided by a purpose, and that only through the unfolding of human liberty could that vertical purpose be achieved. Our founders were progressive to the core, but unlike our contemporary leftist "progressives," they measured progress in relation to permanent standards that lay outside time -- metaphorically speaking, an eschatological "Kingdom of God," or "city on a hill" drawing us toward it.

Liberty -- understood in its spiritual sense -- was the key idea of our revolutionary founders. This cannot be overemphasized. According to Michael Novak, liberty was understood as the "axis of the universe," history as "the drama of human liberty." Thomas Jefferson wrote that "the God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time." It was for this reason that Jefferson chose for the design of the seal of the United States Moses leading the children of Israel out of the death-cult of Egypt, out of the horizontal wasteland of spiritual bondage and into the open circle of a higher life. America was quite consciously conceived as an opportunity to "relaunch" mankind after so many centuries of disappointment, underachievement, and spiritual stagnation.

Now the lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty. 2 Cor 3:17

*****

As the contradictory ideals of liberty vs. equality began to ramify through history, it resulted in the very different nations and societies we see today, for the more liberty a nation has, the less her people will be equal, while the more equality is pursued by coercive state policy, the more liberty will necessarily be attenuated and diminished.

The nations of the European Union are, of course, the embodiment of the perennial leftist dream of a cradle-to-grave welfare system. But in order to achieve the goal of radical equality, the Europeans must maintain a confiscatory tax system that undermines liberty, since they begin with the assumption that neither your property nor the fruit of your labors belongs to you, but to the state: to the collective.

This flawed understanding of equality is an atavistic and deeply pernicious holdover from our most primitive social arrangements. While it might have made sense in the archaic environment of psychobiological evolution in small face-to-face groups, in order for human beings to evolve psychohistorically, it was necessary for human beings to overcome their "envy barrier" and to tolerate the painful idea that some might possess more than others.

Human beings evolved as a group animal long prior to ever producing “individuals” with their own unique interior. All primitive cultures have collective defense mechanisms that prevent individuation, but these defenses are also present in more subtle form in modern societies.

In his classic work, Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior, Helmut Schoeck notes that our most persistently misguided economic ideas stem from the futile attempt to eliminate envy. In order to placate the envious individual, government must intervene with policies that do achieve the desired end of of creating more equality, but at the cost of inefficiency, lack of economic growth, and ultimately far less wealth for everyone.

Only by tolerating one’s envy is economic development possible: "the more both private individuals and the custodians of political power in a given society are able to act as though there were no such thing as envy, the greater will be the rate of economic growth and the number of innovations in general." A society is best able to achieve its creative potential if it functions "as if the envious person could be ignored." Likewise, well-meaning leftists who seek the completely "just society" are doomed to failure because of an implicit belief that it is possible to eliminate envy. But human beings will inevitably find something new to envy.

Ironically, the pursuit of equality achieves its goal in a perverse sort of way, by dragging everyone down to a lower level of prosperity. In the Fall 2005 Claremont Review of Books, an article by Gerard Alexander spells out some of the dire results of the pursuit of equality over liberty. For example, on average, U.S. per capita income is 55% higher than the average of the 15 core countries of the European Union. In fact, the largest E.U. countries "have per capita incomes comparable to America's poorest states." Alexander points out that if France, Italy or the U.K. were admitted to the American union, "any one of them would rank as the 5th poorest of the 50 states, ahead only of West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Montana." Ireland, which is currently the richest E.U. country, "would be the 13th poorest state, Sweden the 6th poorest.... 40% of all Swedish households would classify as low-income by American standards."

In addition to impeding a nation's wealth-producing capacity, the mindless pursuit of equality results in chronically high unemployment. France has lived with unemployment between 8-12% for some 25 years, and if anything, this underestimates the true figure because of forced early retirement and extensive but futile job-training programs. And there is a disproportionately negative impact on the poorest sectors of society, since a high unemployment rate pushes aside the least skilled workers first.

But the narcissism that is nurtured in the entitlement society means that its victims will inevitably feel entitled to more entitlements, thus resulting in even worse conditions. This is just part of the underlying dynamic of what we saw with the Muslim riots in France. Attempting to “buy them off" with yet more social programs will only result in a greater sense of entitlement and more unrest, since, once the spigot of a person's unlimited sense of entitlement is opened, it is very hard to shut it off. This is partly because our sense of entitlement is rooted in the earliest infantile experience, when we are, for the only time in our lives, actually "entitled" to mother's magical ministering of our every need and whim. The universe revolves around the moment-to-moment needs of the baby, which is as it should be. For a baby.

If there is a "human-animal" spiritual realm, then it is actually the purely immanent-horizontal space occupied by socialist Left of Western Europe. Although they think of us as "selfish" because of our low taxes and smaller government, it is actually the other way around. Although superficially socialism may appear to be more humane, Mark Steyn points out that "nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism.” Once a fellow is “enjoying the fruits of government health care and all the rest, he couldn't give a hoot about the broader social interest; he's got his, and if it's going to bankrupt the state a generation hence, well, as long as they can keep the checks coming till he's dead, it's fine by him." In this sense, Social democracy is eventually "explicitly antisocial.”

There is a further corrosion of the soul that takes place with European style socialism, in that, because it elevates material desires to the highest, it cynically cuts the heart out of any transcendent view of the world. As Steyn explains, it perversely elevates secondary priorities such as mandated six week vacations over primary ones such as family and national defense. And change is almost impossible, because the great majority has become dependent on government, which causes a sort of "adherence" to horizontal. You cannot rouse the ideals of a nation that has lost its ideals. Any politician who threatens the entitlement system cannot get elected in Western Europe. The situation is analogous to an addict who has given over his power to the pusher.

By attempting to create the perfect society on earth through government coercion, it actually diminishes our humanity, since it relieves human beings of having to exert the continual moral effort to make the world a better place, as this is only possible by maintaining contact with the realm of transcendent moral ideals. In other words, European socialism is actually a flight from morality, thereby making people less humane, not more. It is a bogus kind of freedom, because it merely frees one from the vertical while condemning one to the horizontal. As the Pope has written, "the destruction of transcendence is the actual amputation of human beings from which all other sicknesses flow. Robbed of their real greatness they can only find escape in illusory hopes.... The loss of transcendence evokes the flight to utopia."

Part Two tomorrow.

47 Comments:

Blogger Smoov said...

Therefore, it is quite confusing to call leftists liberals.

Not only confusing. I don't think it goes too far to posit this (intentional?) corruption of the language as one of the core reasons for the success of leftism among people who are actually liberals.

The loss of an entire ideological category has been calamitous. Leftists have far more in common with right-wing "conservative" fascists (no, I'm not saying that self-identified conservatives are fascists!) than they do with liberals.

I strongly believe we should attempt to reclaim the word "liberal" in order to distinguish ourselves from authoritarians "on both ends of the spectrum" (itself a grossly corrupting metaphor).

I'm a liberal: the opposite of a leftist.

Many "liberals" really are liberals. Many other "liberals" are leftists. Likewise, many "conservatives" are in fact liberals, while some are in fact fascistic racist theocrats.

The fact that I am a liberal is why I am so incredibly drawn to Bob's vision and writings.

12/09/2006 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger stephen_b said...

I think a corollary to the Pope’s statement about loss of transcendence could also be that it makes the culture more susceptible to conquest by another that has at its core a perverted transcendence, i.e., radical Islam.

12/09/2006 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

stephen b--

Absolutely. This is why EUdopia is doomed. It's just a matter of time before they are overrun, this time by barbarians from the lower vertical. Only good religion can defeat bad religion. "No religion" is helpless.

12/09/2006 08:59:00 AM  
Anonymous USS Ben said...

Excellent post, Bob!

The ideas of the left corrode the social/cultural/economic/political/judicial/military/science/Religion/education/health.

It eats away the very fabric of Liberty from the inside out!

Equal outcomes produce the gravest of injustice.

Stagnation and apathy thrive in leftest deals.

Envy is elevated as a virtue.

Narsissism and malignant narcissism is prevalant.

Sociopathic behavior becomes commonplace.

Leftism is more insidious than most humans realize.

12/09/2006 09:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Mars said...

I'm by no means hostile to your post in the general sense; it is remarkably clear and persuasive.

However, and echoing yesterday's post about balancing the four quadrants, major exceptions to your general rule of "liberty over equality" can easily be located and have to be accomodated somehow into your general philosophy.

I cite the French Revolution (the conditions leading up to it, primarily) and the struggles of Labor vs Industry in the twentieth century.

We see that in the case of the French Revolution, the "liberty" of the Royals had to be revoked for the good of the collective (the nation)propelled by the stimulus of raw hunger.

Likewise Labor vs. Industry--an imbalance of power resulted in mass suffering and privations.

The idea is that at some point envy becomes a legitimate motivator (at the level of starvation at the very least)and a society had better have some mechanism for relieving envy of this intense variety.

Now, the founding fathers of the USA had built "checks and balances" into their system of government but the fact is this system has needed major tweaking to address the evils of slavery and lassaiz-faire capitalism.

"Entitlement" is not entirely a chimera. It might be another way to say "right" (as in the inalienable kind).

Your global and complete smashing of the left may be TOO complete--some remnant of leftist entitlement politics must remain in place as a guard against unchecked power.

As always in so many things, a middle course is the way.

12/09/2006 09:35:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

>>"some remnant of leftist entitlement politics must remain in place as a guard against unchecked power."<<

Funny how leftist policies, when taken to their ultimate ends, have resulted in the worst abuses of unchecked power the earth has ever known.
And when half measure leftist policies are implemented, you get Old Europe.
No thanks.

12/09/2006 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Your global and complete smashing of the left

This is a worthy goal.

We must storm the intellectual beaches and drop moral A-bombs in an all-out war on leftism.

12/09/2006 09:53:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

>>"We see that in the case of the French Revolution, the "liberty" of the Royals had to be revoked for the good of the collective (the nation)propelled by the stimulus of raw hunger.

Likewise Labor vs. Industry--an imbalance of power resulted in mass suffering and privations."<<


>>...."if you are a secular leftist who sees reality as nothing more than a class struggle between exploiter and exploited, victim and oppressor, you are in fact a worshipper of an idol named Mars."<<

Hmmmm....

12/09/2006 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

You know why dislike leftism so much?

I resent what they did to me.

Like so many tail-end boomers I was the victim of a parentally-inflicted university eduction. It has taken me years to undo the damage (Lee Harris wrote that it took him 25 years).

The big-city culture in which I came of age was by 1984 so throughly atheistic and shallow that for years I had no idea that intelligent people anywhere spoke about spiritual matters. Religion and spiritualty for me were entirely limited to very strange but harmless addle-pated people like my born-again Aunt (one of the few Christians I knew out of many hundred people who were friends, family and colleagues).

I bought into the empiricist cult hook, line and sinker. It wasn't so much that I believed in the leftist world view, I simply never questioned it. It just "was". Everywhere. Always.

In recent years I've managed to tear loose from this "life", which in hindsight appears impoverished and flat. A Buddhist mentor helped me part of the way, and a variety of influences (now including Bob) have managed to provide the leverage I needed to pry off the leftist/materialist carapace in which I was unwittingly imprisoned.

Leftist ideology stole half my life! I can't get that back, but I can do my little bit to fight back against this banal tide of soft evil.

Bona fide leftists deserve no quarter. Both barrels.

12/09/2006 10:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Joan of Argghh! said...

Speaking of Mars, is there some sort of Cosmic understanding we can deduct from the alignment of Mars, Jupiter, and Mercury tomorrow morning?

War, Commerce, and Justice. Hmm...

12/09/2006 10:26:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Joan, I think they're all in Sag., which of course relates to Jup - it would be nice if Sag/Jup only related to "Justice", but it often relates to fanatical, "true believer" adherence to religious or institutional ideals. Add Mars to the mix and you've got a pretty labile combo. (some Nation of Islam fanatic just got arrested for planning a hand grenading of a mall)

For spiritually progressed souls, on the other hand, it might make for the strengthening and actualization of the highest spiritual ideals.

12/09/2006 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

The only real (minor) problem I have with this excellent post is that it sort of implies that America is some sort of bastion of small-government liberty compared with the bloated socialist welfare states of Europe.

In fact the US itself is grossly over-governed, and heavily socialized in numerous areas. Tax rates may not be as high as in (most of) Europe, but they are burdensome nonetheless. The "conservative" Bush administration has inflicted some of the most hideously bloated entitlement programs in recent US history.

Unions (e.g., teachers) have enormous power in the US. Liberty is often crushed in the name of the "War on Drugs" or other colossal, expensive failures to control vice from above.

Now, the ideals upon which America was founded still survive and are manifested daily in a million ways. However a very significant percentage of the US population are essentially European in temperament, and are simply itching to strengthen the authority of the UN, implement socialized health care, raise taxes, and otherwise eurofy America.

A Republic, If You Can Keep It

More timely now than ever.

12/09/2006 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Yup.

12/09/2006 11:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Jimmy J. said...

smoov,
I was touched by your comment about having to unlearn all that you learned in the university and from your contemporaries. Compared with me you are one fast dude. But then life is really a journey. Some of us take longer to find the right path.

Voices like yours are needed to help others to find the right path. We don't want to destroy the left; only to try to open their minds up to the Truth.

You are very correct about how far left this country has veered. If it weren't for Ronald Reagan we'd be a lot further than that. It's not too late. Our system is malleable but strong. All of us who follow the path of conservatism just need to dedicate ourselves to working toward a smaller government, freer markets, better education, and freedom of religion (as opposed to freedom from religion).

I think the collectivists are exposing their true colors more and more these days, making it much easier to understand their true intentions.

12/09/2006 02:26:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Si, utopian nanny state idealism, in this day and age, always shades into the negative archetype of the Devouring Mother. In essence, I think it's an attempt at a neo-paganism in which the herd, the masses, are guided by the supposedly enlightened few. That was fine in its day. Today it's nothing but regressive, and worse - it's gussied up in materialistic science, ie., is more horizontal than a pancake.

What's the ultimate goal? I ask myself. Well, self, is it not co-partnership with the Deity? Tall order, that, requiring liberty of mind, body, spirit. But that IS the ultimate goal, the Light on the Horizon, the Dawn. Anything that hampers should be seen exactly for what it is, particularly now as linear time grows short.

Oh yeah, Fergus the Cat sends greetings from the Mother Ship.

12/09/2006 02:31:00 PM  
Anonymous dilys said...

"The ultimate goal,.. is it not co-partnership with the Deity?"

The Anchoress is on to that with a beautiful specific final paragraph.

"In every assent we utter, every stitch we knit, every empty bowl we fill, every lonely life we consent to touch, every hateful remark we respond to with love, we create something where there was nothing. With our every “yes,” we assist in creation, with the continuation of the world. We work with the Creator, for whom no need is too small, for whom love knows no limits.

It is the great secret."

In graphic form here.

12/09/2006 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

jimmy j:

We don't want to destroy the left; only to try to open their minds up to the Truth.

Let me clarify that when I employ invective toward the Left I am being hyperbolic for the most part. I certainly don't want to physically harm anyone (though I do believe we must be vigilant for the true domestic enemies like Lynne Stewart).

I do believe that we must become far more aggressive in countering the pernicious ideas promulgated by the Left.

12/09/2006 03:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Jimmy J. said...

smoov,
"I do believe that we must become far more aggressive in countering the pernicious ideas promulgated by the Left."

Amen!!

12/09/2006 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Politico said...

Bob, you've spoken against affirmative action policies for people of color.

I'm wondering if there are other specific areas of policy where you have a solid opionion.

I would especially like to hear of any specific legislation that you oppose, or conversely any new laws that you would like to have enacted.

For instance, I favor a law allowing concealed carry of firearms in California and repealing existing restrictions of same.

Give us a platform as if you were a politician; I think this would fine tune for many readers what true liberalism in action would look like.

12/09/2006 04:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Disciple of the Jody said...

Tree-huggers, student radicals, advocates for the homeless, etc.

Would you really want to live in a society totally cleansed of these?

Wouldn't your skin crawl as you realized that there was no check -totally none-- on "niceness" and profitability, and knowing that the big box stores slowly checkerboard the landscape, interspersed by nice homes and tidy churches, while the strip miners and foresters work over our public lands, and on the Alaskan plains the crude drips and seeps into the tundra?

Sure, we'd all be more prosperous and happy, reading our bland self-congratulatory newspapers, but let's get real--we were radicals when we were young, and we should let the young lefty radicals do what they do, which is to prevent us from achiving the worst possible nightmare, the total success of the libertarian ideology.

That being said, we can't give away the store either. We must, however, carefully tolerate and even nurture a small crop of dissenters and radicals. They are to social evolution what DNA mutations are to biologic evolution; without them we are an evolutionary cul-de-sac.

Please work this reality into your philosophy somehow, GDB, otherwise you will have to be classified as an enemy of the people, while paradoxically trying to help.

12/09/2006 04:28:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Aye, Dilys, "being creative" is to literally assist in Creation. Even a smiling at a stranger in an elevator is creative.

Creativity, I think, is a state of being, a mode of consciousness - and even without its tangible, material manifestation, it resonates, assists, has an effect on the body spiritual.

12/09/2006 05:35:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

The only true social evolution to be seen in the modern world has been backed by the religious. Specifically those of a Judeo Christian foundation.
Lefties only bring destruction because they have no structural ideals besides the ends justifying their means.
When you classify Bob as an enemy of the people, will he be put on "the list"?

12/09/2006 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

the total success of all ideologies are not equal.

The goal is to have an ideology whose total success is desirable.

The leftist ideology is appropriate, I would surmise, for teenagers.

12/09/2006 05:45:00 PM  
Anonymous GLASR said...

OMGoodness, wish I had learned how to use all these blogging tool extensions from Firefox.

Liberty as in liberation and empowerment of the individual?

The political spectrum runs from the center, to your left starts Democrat to Socialist to Communist and on, the end is Nazism/fascism. To the right you have Republicans to Libertarians to Federalists and on, the end is anarchists. If you tie the ends together, circular reasoning is the only connector between conservatism and fascism.

Nothing gets done in the middle.

Devolution not Revolution.

The negatives, if there truly are THAT many correct in a capital driven economy. Focusing on the destruction involved without considering what happens next is rather foolish. Plant more trees, the "pie" is infinite, clean up the oopsey, stop thinking so much of yourself as to imagine, as George Carlin(?) once said, "we're anything more than a pimple on the ass of this planet.", the Pope never said not to bleed your enemy till they get the point, major tweaking? nah, just didn't have enough time to address perfection but they knew - why were slaves 3/5 of a person? Answer correctly and I'll give you the next question that proves the Founding Fathers could see the future.

Since Marx all lefty radicals embrace a culture of death, racism, contempt for and oppression of the people in general - Dr. Godwin(man do I have a hard time getting past that name, he's kidding us right?) put it best the other day, look around, we live in a paradise. Go spend some time in Western Europe, it's the leading edge of the Third World for Heavens sake.

Shrink the left for a better World.

The planets? Hmmmm ......... it's all good.

12/09/2006 05:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

Disciple of the Jody: The issue is not that these treehugging, etc types exist. but that they try to force their views and rules on others. Not all morals need nor should they be enforced by the gun to be effective in the world.

Offtopic koan: What is the difference between a Christian using the bible to prove the validity of the bible (hence Christianity) and a Denning using material science to prove that material science is the only path to truth?

12/09/2006 06:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Answer:

Hmm... The former is an open system that points beyond itself, while the latter is a closed system that is ultimately circular and self-referential?

12/09/2006 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger LukeBlogWalker said...

Disciple of the Jody said...

[Tree-huggers, student radicals, advocates for the homeless, etc.

Would you really want to live in a society totally cleansed of these?]

Hmm, I think the leftist / liberal viewpoint misses the boat on this idea.

Conservatives do not want to get rid of these people -they want to fix the problems, not just frost them over with bloated funding which keep bureaucracies in place -which always claim they don't get enough money.

Its sort of like clear thinking. If you do a good job, you eliminate all kinds of catastrophe and several redundant steps. You seek to make things streamlined and effective.. efficiency notwithstanding.

The distinction is this: If you are budgeted 200 million dollars to do something for the homeless, and you spend your budget this year, you've been efficient.

Thats never the question. The question is, were you effective in dealing with the problem with the monies alloted?

Thus the differences between conservatives and liberals generally, have to do with "fixing" the problem, versus merely "doing something" for the sake of doing something -and piddling away tax dollars while getting nothing "fixed".

For a liberal, passing a useless bill to fund a project is "doing something" and makes their emotional state better for having done so.

Despite that frequently the foundations and societies which get government money (and lets not forget the G itself) are all basically funnels for redistributed funds. In the case of foundations and societies -they usually have retired politicians on the board -who started the program to begin with.

Can you say, "slush fund"? or "Free" money? I knew you could.

And why would you want to be a disciple of Jody, when you can be a learner of truth instead?

(This is not to impune Jody at all, but Jody, like any of us, is less than truth) -so why shoot low?

Since the great Arrgggging one brought up planetary alignments..

=An interesting proportionality I've noticed. Someone brought up UFOs to me recently, and I have noticed the quality of the photos is inversely proportional to camera technology.

When was the last time you saw a great full on shot of some UFO over some guy's barn? Not since they were easy to double-expose on film!

I am just mullling this over, and don't wish to launch a stupid discussion of UFOs.

I would love to have the time to do a useless master's degree on the history of the movement in corelation to world events and science fiction movies.

I also find it either sick or stupid that non photograhpers are so enthralled with lens and optical effects.

Can you tell I'm a bit bored tonight?

With respect to equality, this is an often misunderstood concept. The framers spent time on this -and were discussing equality under the law. It is apparent that people themselves are not equal.

This had more to do with LEX REX (the law is king) versus REX LEX issues which they faced in dealing with the king.

It had just about nothing to do with people being equal in some intrinsic sense.

In fact, if I recall my history, the interesting thing about the late 19th and early 20th century is that we considered everyone to be the same (equal) -because they were all different (unique.)

Now we say that everyone should be made the same (equality redefined) because we are different.

Naturally the being made the same is loaded up with politcally correct sewage and catch phrases like "Diversity".

The end result (thanks to the leftists / liberals) is that in seeking this bogus and faux-topia that lives only in the imagination, they lower all of us, rather than let the system better itself for all. (I am generalizing, but you get the effect).

These things are similar to the "separation of Church and State" -which is not in the US constitution, but in the constitution of the Soviet Union.

Amazing how someone took the idea of the State not being in a place to prefer a religion, that is, having no State religion, or State controlled religion, and flipped it into a faux non involvement in religion.

Morons.

At least we can be amused that the son of Madalyn Murray O'Hair is a Christian.

Naturally, the great irony of the new left, is that during their heyday of the 60's and 70's they were for no controls. Peace, love, dope, sex, drugs, rock-n-roll.

Now that they are greying up and have a foot next to the grave, they have become some of the biggest facists on the rock.

You can't eat that, its bad for you. You can't have this or that when you are pregnant. On and on it goes.

I really think all that experimentalist education, coupled with all those duck and cover, worlds gonna end any minute, and UFO movies really bent those kids around but good!

[Offtopic koan: What is the difference between a Christian using the bible to prove the validity of the bible (hence Christianity) and a Denning using material science to prove that material science is the only path to truth?]

Oh ye of little knowledge. There is no difference, especially in a tit for tat headspace.

But understand this well...

In both cases you must examine the evidence, and let the truth persuade you.

The A-Priori generally is, that if you believe in any religion, especially Judeo-Christianity, then you must be a wack job.

This idea comes from the folks who can't stand any outside referent which may have authority over them. It also shows they never looked at any of the real information that is available, or rejected it out of hand.

Rebels.

Consider the "Jesus Seminar" people -who claim to be good scholars. Well, except that if someone quotes scripture to prove something about Jesus -they throw it out. If there is a miracle mentioned, those don't happen, so they throw it out. It goes on like this.

So rather than do any research for real, looking in history and in the Bible, they fail, as they only look with their biased eyes. Then they compound their error by purporting to be scholars, which they are not.

Also in the science versus the Bible situation, we often get good Scientists who know nothing of the Bible, and good students of the Bible, who are not good Scientists.

This does not make for a good discussion.

I suggest again, Josh McDowell's classics as starting points:

Evidence that Demands a Verdict
More Evidence that Demands a Verdict
More than a Carpenter

If you can get through just the first one, I bet your ideas will be a bit different.

Okay, back to the HF gear.

-Luke

12/09/2006 07:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Brazier said...

Wouldn't your skin crawl as you realized that there was no check -totally none-- on "niceness" and profitability ...

No, not at all. Can you give me a reason why it should?

The problem with environmentalism is, that it identifies hatred of civilization with love of the wilderness, and thus disguises the regress to tribal savagery and superstition as a form of compassion for the beasts. If you look at the facts, tribal savages treated "nature" far more savagely than any civilization in history did; and a true appreciative love of the wilderness as such appears only among confirmed monotheists -- the Book of Psalms, for example -- who rejected the imitation of "natural" savagery as idolatry.

The "radical dissenter" who confuses good with evil, as environmentalism does, ends by persuading the larger society to accept evil: the "tree-hugger" convinces the populace that the forest is man's enemy, and thus only speeds the bulldozer's progress where the populace has control of policy. There is thus no benefit to nurturing such people; they can only do harm, even to their favored cause.

12/09/2006 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said… “Contrary to what you may have been taught, America’s truly liberal founders were steeped in Judeo-Christian metaphysics.”
Ahem… pardon my impertinence, but … “Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian philosophy & metaphysics” seems a Complementarity of more breadth & depth.

12/09/2006 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Well, I think their metaphysics was Judeo-Christian and their law and science was Greco-Roman. -- Didn't see much of the Stoic or Epicurian in their philosophizing...

12/09/2006 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Van said...
Gagdad said… “In addition to impeding a nation's wealth-producing capacity, the mindless pursuit of equality results in chronically high unemployment.” But even worse – or if not worse, at least prior to, it results in mindless (or mindfully mindless ?) regulations and codifications of all you might be inclined to venture and do.

It changes the nature of Gov’t from that which protects your Rights and Liberty, into a creature that preys on your freedom to exercise them. Egalitarianism binds, inhibits and stultifies both thought and the spirit, and as a result reduces mental, physical and spiritual productivity.

12/09/2006 08:22:02 PM

12/09/2006 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said… “it actually diminishes our humanity, since it relieves human beings of having to exert the continual moral effort to make the world a better place, as this is only possible by maintaining contact with the realm of transcendent moral ideals.”

I’d say “truer words were never spoken”… except that I just finished reading the posts from Monday through Friday… and of course there’s all the rest of One Cosmos over the last 1+ years… and of course “One Cosmos Under God”… knowing that “truer words…” are routinely spoken here, well it just kind of takes the zing out of that phrase. Still… “truer words were never spoken”.

12/09/2006 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Mars said... "We see that in the case of the French Revolution, the "liberty" of the Royals had to be revoked for the good of the collective (the nation)propelled by the stimulus of raw hunger."

In the French Revolution we see centuries of tyranny overthrown - a good, and the only good to come of it, but it was done by demagoges and butchers under the guise of the corrupted Enlightenment, and struck a deep wound to the conception of Liberty as it was understood by the Founders. You can not read of its leaders in Marat, Corday, Danton & Robespierre and think otherwise, not to mention ushering in the first Totalitarian in Napoleon.

But worse than the thousands killed then, were the millions killed by the French Revolution in the Twentieh Century by way the it's killing the Enlghtenment (the English variety) by ushering in the thought of Rousseau & Kant and their direct followers in Hegel, Marx and the vomitous rest.

"Likewise Labor vs. Industry--an imbalance of power resulted in mass suffering and privations." Power will always exist in an imbalance - the only balance to be measured is that of Individual Rights and their defense in Law. "this system has needed major tweaking to address the evils of slavery and lassaiz-faire capitalism" to equate slavery and lassaiz-faire capitalism shows an influence of the worst of Marxism and ignorance - you'd do well to educate yourself outside wackademia.

12/09/2006 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Van--

That's a good point re the Greek connection. It's just that people tend to overemphasize that and under-emphasize the extent to which the founders were also steeped in religious metaphysics, both Judeo- and Christian. There is literally no other "Judeo-Christian" country aside from the U.S.

Michael Novak's book "On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding" does a great job of presenting the evidence for this. The founders were naturally schooled in the classics, but also amazingly deep and eloquent religious thinkers, which is exactly what set them apart from the thinkers of the radical enlightenment. Thankfully, America was the product of "skeptical enlightenment" thinkers who balanced the complementarities of tradition and science, reason and revelation, etc.

12/09/2006 09:28:00 PM  
Anonymous USS Ben said...

My fellow Bobbleheads are all net, today!

12/09/2006 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Very nice exchange today, all.

Luke...I am your father.

Well, someone had to say it.

12/09/2006 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/09/2006 10:53:00 PM  
Anonymous han soloblog said...

Leia is mine, Luke.

12/09/2006 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Disciple of Jody,
The intent of your words is interesting. You said... "That being said, we can't give away the store either. We must, however, carefully tolerate and even nurture a small crop of dissenters and radicals." and " otherwise you will have to be classified as an enemy of the people".

Has anyone ever noticed that the worst evils come from those who seem to profess a moderate view? A willingness to see both sides? An urging to "be reasonable"? meaning that if we can just dispense with immoderate ideals of Right and Wrong, we can get about the business of establishing what it is we want and dispensing with those who inconvenient folk by the millions who want the wrong (oops, we mean other) things, without any messy recriminations.

The rest of your words are worthless, empty and silly - always disturbing and somewhat frightening.

12/09/2006 10:55:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

(Not sure how I double posted that)

12/09/2006 10:57:00 PM  
Anonymous GLASR said...

joan of argghh! Are you from The Castle of Argghh!? If so, nice move linking Tom.

12/09/2006 11:22:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said… “It's just that people tend to overemphasize that and under-emphasize the extent to which the founders were also steeped in religious metaphysics, both Judeo- and Christian. There is literally no other "Judeo-Christian" country aside from the U.S.”

Yep I agree with you there (just don't want to see that pendulum swinging the other way).

Couple books on my turn table now are "The Founders and the Classics" by Carl Richards, and an old out of print, which if you can find it, is worth the price, "Education of the Founding Fathers of the Republic" by James J. Walsh (1935) – an eye opening research into the schooling that produced the true Greatest Generation.

In 1796, Adams wrote “The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity, let the Blackguard Paine say what he will." and in a letter to Jefferson in 1813”I have examined all [religions]...and the result is that the Bible is the best Book in the world. It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen.” And yet the Founders also included Ethan Allen (Atheist), Patrick Henry (Anti-Federalist), James Madison (Father of the Constitution) and Thomas Paine (Deist)?

The only thing monolithic about them was their commitment to true Liberty, Freedom and Education (not degree’s, Education) – and the fact that they actually achieved it.

They were that most rare of men (today), Intellectuals (read just the titles of the books popular in their day - longer than some students essays of today) who were also men of Action.

Truly amazing.

The Regressives have consistently sought to put down the “dogmatic & authoritarian” nature of education in the founders day – assuredly there were hacks then as now, but if you ask me which curriculum I’d rather put my kids through – that which produced the wisest people in the last 2,000 years, or that which produces professors who urge the eradication of the white race, along with various other assorted leftists and Columbine’ers… it’s a pretty simple choice for me.

12/09/2006 11:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Joan of Argghh! said...

Glasr-

No, not from the Castle. It's been my "handle" since before the Castle came into existence. (Free Republic used to be the only place to have intelligent discussion back in 2000.)

Growing up Catholic, Joan of Arc was my patron saint. It was a natural evolution, if you will, to Joan of Argghh! (No, I'd never seen the Monty Python bit.)

12/10/2006 05:25:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Disciple of the Jody said...

Oh boy. Where do you start with someone like this?

Do you have ANY clue about how the world works? Wait, you're a leftist so the answer is obviously no.

First of all, OF COURSE we don't need horrible ideas and deluded people in order to have a functioning society! We did away with laws against segregation and miscegenation decades ago and people were wringing their hands with fear that we were going to hell in a handcart. Segregation laws did not "balance" anything out, nor act as a "check" on anything. They were simply pure, unadulterated evil.

Communism/socialism is also unadulterated evil in that it ALWAYS produces worse overall outcomes. Even where there are relatively small differences the effect is obvious. The US is more "capitalist" (a Marxist term which should be abandoned) than Canada. As a result Canada is relatively poorer, and as a result of being poorer has MORE POLLUTION per capita than the US (look it up). They emit more particulate pollution and still dump raw sewage into both oceans.

Globally those nations which have moved toward free-market capitalism and away from socialism have seen public health improve drastically, while levels of pollution plummet. This effect will happen in China eventually, especially if they could just get rid of the vestiges of communism.

Homeless? Speaking of Canada, when I was recently in Toronto I learned that they spend around $35,000 per homeless person on various programs for them. They have FAR more homeless per capita than NYC, and they look pretty miserable despite "earning" $35K per year. Socialism and leftism CREATE homelessness and poverty.

while the strip miners and foresters work over our public lands, and on the Alaskan plains the crude drips and seeps into the tundra?

The only way we will EVER move beyond these practices is through wealth creation leading to investment in the future technologies required to make clean, abundant energy possible. The very worst polluters on earth were (and still are) the hard socialist countries of the former East bloc.

Your whole point is utterly bankrupt. We did not suffer from eliminating the evil of racial segregation, nor will we suffer from eliminating the constellation of bad ideas and worse policy we know today as "progressivism". Your adolescent desire to be a "radical" can be played out elsewhere at your own expense.

12/10/2006 05:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you take away the likelyhood of class envy rearing its ugly head, you reduce the Wright Bros to decent bicycle builders. You reduce Einstein to a frustrated patent clerk. You reduce Bill Gates to a perpetual electronics tinkerer in his garage.

We owe civil--ization to those who dare to provoke envy. The world needs more envy, not less.
SteveH

12/10/2006 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Its all been said before, but...

Any "ism", however brilliant in concept and design, that depends on something other than true human nature to function, will fail -- and take down a lot of humans with it. Accepting and understanding human nature as "fallen" -- separated from God -- is the only viable starting point. Reality to reality.

12/10/2006 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger MikeZ said...

Politico: "For instance, I favor a law allowing concealed carry of firearms in California and repealing existing restrictions of same."

Some cities have concealed-carry permits - but they're harder to get than hen's teeth.

My problem with looser gun laws is that there are far too many people who aren't responsible enough to carry them on a regular basis. In my neighboring Los Angeles, gangs roam about with all the guns they want - laws to the contrary.

And a few towns have passed laws saying you HAVE to have a gun. No doubt, these towns are bypassed by roving robbers.

Given the current state of affairs, there's no easy solution. I'm for fewer restrictions, but there are consequences to face.

Micahel B: "No, not at all. Can you give me a reason why it should?"

Hundreds of reasons. To start with, read the history of the labor movement from the 20s to the 40s or so. Find out what forced the development of unions. Or, for a faster ride, read Dickens' take on workhouses, orphanages, child labor, &c.

For the first part of their existence, labor unions balanced the overwhelming application of power by companies (Google for "company town"). In recent years, the pendulum swung the other way (as it usually does).

One problem seems to be that environmentalists are convinced the sky is falling, and want to force us to do something - anything, just so long as it involves spending massive amounts of money, and they get to decide where it goes.

Mars: "We see that in the case of the French Revolution, the "liberty" of the Royals had to be revoked for the good of the collective (the nation)propelled by the stimulus of raw hunger."

"Revoked" is a lovely euphemism for "beheading".

12/13/2006 05:27:00 PM  

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