Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On Conserving Change and Changing Mankind

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I'm having a little difficulty transitioning from the profane back to the sacred. I wake up in the morning and find that my nonlocal service is still interrupted. Which is fine. We're on a descending path anyway, not an ascending one. Or, at the very least, we believe in the old Raccoon adage, "one step up, two steps down." The only real measure of your vertical progress is how it actually plays out in the horizontal world.

I've had quite a bit of unanticipated slack this month, so I've been blowing through a number of books, some of which deserve at least a post or two. One of these is The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities Throughout American History, by Patrick Allitt. To his credit, Allitt treats the subject in a detached and scholarly manner (in the old-fashioned liberal sense of the term), to such an extent that it is impossible to say what his own politics might be.

Another good thing about the book is that it is free of... what's the word? You know, that historical fallacy where you project present circumstances into the past -- for example, condemning slavery from our historical vantage point, when in fact slavery was at one time universal. By simply condemning it, you're not likely to understand it. Or to say that men oppressed women, when in fact 90% of humans slaved away on farms from sunup to sundown. For most people there were only two options: toil in the fields raising crops or toil in the house raising children. Frankly, I would prefer the latter.

One critical point Allitt makes is that prior to the 1950s, there was no such thing as "conservatism" as we know it today -- that is, "conservative" as noun, with a specific ideological content. Rather, there was only conservative as adjective. As such, it was more an attitude than any definite agenda, This is no doubt why it began to be thought of as "reactionary," because in a way it was.

The founders even built this dichotomy into the Constitution, with the idea that the house would channel the often irrational passions of the citizenry, while the senate would serve to convert the passions into thought, so to speak -- very much as a mother does with a baby, i.e., serve as the container for the contained. (In fact, it wasn't even until the early 20th century that senators were democratically elected instead of being appointed by state legislatures.)

(From the Department of I Didn't Know That: "The modern word senatorial is derived from the Latin word senātus (senate), which comes from senex, "old man." And now you know why Barbara Boxer looks like a little old man.)

One of the reasons William F. Buckley is so important is that prior to his efforts, there was no coherent conservative movement in the United States. Nor did people identify themselves as "conservative." Nevertheless, it always existed, just implicitly. Allitt says that it is primarily an "attitude to social and political change" that "puts more faith in the lessons of history than in the abstractions of political philosophy." It is skeptical, anti-utopian, and very much aware of the Law of Unintended Consequences. But mainly, it has no delusions about what man is or is capable of being.

If you don't know what man is, then your political philosophy will go astray with its first step. Therefore, psychology must precede politics, and religion (i.e., metaphysics) must precede psychology. (Contemporary) liberalism begins with opposite assumptions about man, failing to appreciate the fragile nature of civilization and the darkness in the heart of man (which is why an enduring feature of liberalism is its naivete toward true evil).

As Allitt writes, conservatives generally share the view "that civilization is fragile and easily disrupted. Every generation must learn anew the importance of restraint, manners, deference, and good citizenship; the survival of the republic presupposes the virtue of its citizens."

Which goes to one of the biggest cliches spewed by our troll goddinpotty, who maintains that conservatives are "against change" and progress. This is absurd on its face, since conservatives are champions of the free market, and nothing in human history has brought about as much dynamic change and progress as the free market.

For example, just since 1990, a billion or so souls (concentrated especially in India and China) have been lifted out of poverty because of free trade. This is absolutely unprecedented in human history, and certainly could not have occurred with leftist economic policies, which would have frozen these people in their state of destitution.

In fact, another highly recommended book is Economics Does Not Lie. In it, Sorman writes that more people have perished as a result of bad economic policy than perhaps any other cause in human history. But of course, through most of history human beings had no idea what correct economic policy was. In short, they didn't have the foggiest notion of how wealth is created. Sorman says that economics has only been a truly objective science since the 1960s.

So who's against change? Indeed, the end result of "global warming" legislation would be to condemn millions of people to poverty. Even if the theory were true -- which it isn't -- far more humans would perish as a result of trying somehow to stop the climate from changing.

It's similar to how millions -- millions! -- of Africans have died of malaria as a result of the ban on DDT. But of course, environmentalists never have blood on their hands, since their intentions are good. When it comes to unintended consequences, they are inveterate scofflaws. Socialized medicine imploding in Canada? Don't worry. We'll eliminate the bugs in the system!

In America, conservative and liberal mean very different things than they do in Europe. For most of American history, they simply referred to two varieties of classical liberalism. But around the same time conservatism emerged as a distinct body of thought, liberalism morphed into the illiberal leftism we know and hate today. You could say that the new left triumphed with the nomination of McGovern, while the new conservatism did with the election of Ronald Reagan. Obama is merely the extension of McGovern, while conservatives are still waiting for their next Reagan. Certainly the liberal George W. Bush wasn't it.

Another critical point to bear in mind is that the conservatism that emerged in the 1950s consisted of a sometimes uneasy coalition of free marketeers, traditionalists, and anti-communists. You might say that the first group embodies the dynamic and radical change of the American system, while the second group embodies the continuity as well as the virtue without which the system cannot function optimally. Liberals have no regard for the second group, but instead want to replace its function with a large and powerful state as a counterweight to the first.

But again, the nicest thing you can say about them is that they ignore the Law of Unintended Consequences, because the state simply becomes a way for untalented or ruthless people to gain power and prestige, in the way that the market allows the talented and productive to gain power and prestige. By denigrating tradition, you simply end up with two sets of scoundrels.

This, by the way, is one of the reasons Buckley excluded the Randian objectivists from the movement he forged, since they were and are profoundly anti-tradition (as are capital-L Libertarians).

Originally, "traditionalist" mainly meant "Catholic." The so-called religious right did not become a political force until the 1970s, especially after the judicial abortion of Roe v Wade. Indeed, the first candidate they backed was the "born again" Jimmy Carter; most people had never even heard the term "born again Christian" before. (Theological "fundamentalism" is in many ways more modern than traditional.)

Which leads to a current struggle within the conservative movement, i.e., the place of the religious right. Many so-called conservative elites have always been uneasy with, and embarrassed by, these people, and some would frankly like to distance themselves altogether from them. To a certain extent, I can relate. As far as I am concerned, they tend to be overly emotional, and their intellectual and theological content is more or less negligible. I wouldn't want them to be the leaders of the movement, because that would throw off the whole balance of the conservative coalition. I don't think that the Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells are bad people. But, with all due respect, I think they need to be led, not the leaders.

I am sure that there are some sensible Democrats who have a similar problem with their left (as indeed the "blue dogs" have discovered). You cannot eliminate the kos's the huffpos, the Olbermanns. But if you allow them to lead.... well, look at what has happened in just six months! Republicans shouldn't get too cocky, because the same thing would happen in reverse should the religious right take over the party. This is a center-right country.

Of course, there are also different types of traditionalists, most notably, the "agrarian traditionalists" such as Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk, and Albert Nock. One could also place Schuon and the Traditionalist school of perennial religion in that category. I have a number of problems with them, but perhaps the central one is, assuming they are correct, how would you ever convert their ideology to specific policies?

For example, let's say that Schuon is correct that the pre-Renaissance medieval synthesis represents the apex of culture. How would you go about reinstituting that system, as opposed to simply using it as a bludgeon to critique contemporary culture? Let's just say that it would have to involve a fair amount of tyranny. Frankly, that would be a form of conservative fascism. I have to say, I love the blessings of modernity. Without them I'd have been dead long ago.

Well, I better stop. Long day ahead.

60 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

...more people have perished as a result of bad economic policy than perhaps any other cause in human history.

Along those lines, the Anchoress yesterday linked to this excellent (but long) article in the Atlantic, written by a lifelong Democrat.

A relevant excerpt:

"Accidentally, but relentlessly, America has built a health-care system with incentives that inexorably generate terrible and perverse results. Incentives that emphasize health care over any other aspect of health and well-being. That emphasize treatment over prevention. That disguise true costs. That favor complexity, and discourage transparent competition based on price or quality. That result in a generational pyramid scheme rather than sustainable financing. And that—most important—remove consumers from our irreplaceable role as the ultimate ensurer of value."

8/19/2009 08:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Rackbabi said...

This one's kind of a snoozer.

8/19/2009 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> .... senex, "old man." And now you know why Barbara Boxer looks like a little old man.

I think she looks even more like the Latin word for "old woman" (anus).

8/19/2009 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

On the value of freedom, here's an interesting article about picnicking East Germans escaping to Austria.

"Some of them were waiting for this moment for 20 or 30 years," Nagy said. "They left behind everything ... because freedom has the greatest value."

8/19/2009 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

“For most people there were only two options: toil in the fields raising crops or toil in the house raising children. Frankly, I would prefer the latter.”

Bob, remember the other day when I said, “I don’t wanna be around when…”

Back tadapost..

8/19/2009 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

“Indeed, the end result of "global warming" legislation would be to condemn millions of people to poverty. Even if the theory were true -- which it isn't -- far more humans would perish as a result of trying somehow to stop the climate from changing.”

You know, if you believe in peak oil, excuse me, Peak Oil, well then, when we run out that pretty much solves the global warming crisis. Excuse me, Crisis. So really, you should use as much oil as you possibly can. It’s everyone’s responsibility, if you care about the earth, that is. Do the right thing. The earth cries when you don’t.

8/19/2009 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"When it comes to unintended consequences, they are inveterate scofflaws. Socialized medicine imploding in Canada? Don't worry. We'll eliminate the bugs in the system!"

Problem with that, of course, is that the system is the bug!

wv:spore
I already said that.

8/19/2009 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous maineman said...

" . . . just since 1990, a billion or so souls (concentrated especially in India and China) have been lifted out of poverty because of free trade. This is absolutely unprecedented in human history, and certainly could not have occurred with leftist economic policies, which would have frozen these people in their state of destitution."

You could have gone further, of course, since it was exactly the case that leftist economic policies had frozen both China and India in states of destitution for the prior half century.

8/19/2009 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Harry Carey said...

"...90% of humans slaved away on farms from sunup to sundown. For most people there were only two options: toil in the fields raising crops or toil in the house raising children."

You would greatly benefit from large doses of Lord Northbourne, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Wendell Berry, Eric Gill, John Seymour, and Gene Logsdon.
Obviously farming is hard work, as are all the manual crafts. Travel to Europe sometime, though, and have a look at some medieval cathedrals, or mosaics, etc. There is simply no way that work could have been done without a large degree of happiness in their work. Contrarily, my experience with most of the building trades today is shoddy work-at least in America. Again it's a question of quality and quantity. Values versus the multiplication of things wanted.

8/19/2009 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Entertain-me said...

I'm in agreement with Rackbaby.

8/19/2009 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Harry Carey said...

And my experience with the building trades in America is extensive-just ask me.

8/19/2009 10:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Harry Carey said...

I'm currently studying the floor joist construction from the vantage point of my Mom's basement.

8/19/2009 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger QP said...

I commend to you the most rational essay I've read to date on "Caritas in Veritate", at Mises Institute.

8/19/2009 11:07:00 AM  
Anonymous jack buck said...

"For example, let's say that Schuon is correct that the pre-Renaissance medieval synthesis represents the apex of culture. How would you go about reinstituting that system, as opposed to simply using it as a bludgeon to critique contemporary culture? Let's just say that it would have to involve a fair amount of tyranny. Frankly, that would be a form of conservative fascism."
First of all, if you examine much of Western society today, it already is the manifestation concrete planning by elites--in our case a caste of incredibly weathly merchants. The entire edifice of education, for example, was planned out and excuted by these elites (See the work of Charlotte Iserbyt and John Gatto on this subject). If you then extrapolate all the ways in which modern society is connected and effected by our education system, you will begin to see how we already are under an actual tyrrany, merely cloaked in the guise of free markets and voting days. Obviously, this tyranny does not reach every climb, but it nonetheless stretches its tentacles to places that are difficult to imagine. A more interesting exercise, however, in my opinion, is to imagine a country without schools. The Catholic priest/theologian Ivan Illich once proposed a method of education called de-schooling (as an aside, and quite relavent today, Illich noted the three deep areas of totalitarianism reach--schooling, welfare, and health care). Gatto also, by citing loads of anecdotal accounts, helps us to imagine what the world might be like without the tyrrany of the education system. Perfect example--Benjamin Franklin. Unschooled, fugitive, and yet, possibly the most educated man of his time.
In any case, I imagine the society that Schuon might have envisioned, or at least Richard Weaver, would have been agrarian (note well that with our current unemployment rate at 9-10%--it's really significantly higher, not to mention our incredible incarceration counts--this would easily be alleviated by fully turning to healthier food production methods) in its base, which is highly conservative--even most hippies I know who turned to the land, end up becoming politically conservative. Beyond that, it would have insisted on the well making of that which needs making, whether it is a burger or a bomb. Sometimes that may emerge through free markets, sometimes there may need be some planning.
Above all, such a society would be "traditional" in the religious sense, and all lesser values would have as their guide those ultimate values.

8/19/2009 11:43:00 AM  
Anonymous ralia said...

Incarcerated gang bangers forced to work on collectivist farms?


What a maroon.

8/19/2009 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Elephant, in response to your comment at the end of yesterday's post, you should read that link on "Caritas in Veritate" that QP provided above. In about the eighth or ninth graph, the author discusses the perception ov value:

In a free market, individuals do not exchange goods of equivalent value. They exchange goods of unequal value. If the values were equivalent, market participants would be indifferent and there would be no reason to make the exchange. It is precisely because a buyer values an apple more than 25 cents and because a seller values 25 cents more than an apple, that the buy/sell transaction takes place.

There's more. QP is right, it's an excellent read.

8/19/2009 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger jp said...

Jack Buck says:

"even most hippies I know who turned to the land, end up becoming politically conservative."

I'll bet this has something to do with the nature of, uh, nature.

If I tried to community organize a cornfield using flowery words, I doubt that I would get corn as an end product.

8/19/2009 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Curt Gowdy said...

Ralia,
Really, that's all you came away with?
Incarcerated gang bangers, would, I imagine in a Schuonian world, be no longer incarcerated, but long dead.
Gatto's research on the relationship of literacy to imprisonment is eye opening. Give it shot, it won't hurt you.
In any case, I am, of course referring to the idea that prisoners can be made to do useful things. And also, that we imprison people for things for which it is idiotic to do so (possession of small amounts of marijuana, for example). I simply note that our actual unemployment rates are estimated quite low.

8/19/2009 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger Elephant said...

Thank you, Julie. Will do.

Also, I am reading the article in the Atlantic you mentioned and have posted it on my Facebook account (can be useful for some things I guess!)

8/19/2009 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

NameShifter - cut the crap, pick a nic. Just sayin'. Anyway, NameShifter said "...connected and effected by our education system, you will begin to see how we already are under an actual tyrrany, merely cloaked in the guise of free markets and voting days. Obviously, this tyranny does not reach every climb, but it nonetheless stretches its tentacles to places that are difficult to imagine..."

Which brought to mind one of my heroes, Richard Mitchell, from his "Graves of Academe" (online or free to download as .pdf or Word.doc), not a Republican or Conservative, just a Prof of English Lit, disgusted with the pitiful grammar used by administration and other professors, he began the "Underground Grammarian" newsletter, and then slowly realized that not only was their grammar faulty, but it often hid an utter lack of thinking which spread itself through their systems of 'educationism', he discovered

"... the brooding monstrosity of American educationism, the immense, mindless brute that by now troubles the waters of all, all that is done in our land in the supposed cause of "education," since when, as you see, I can rarely bring myself to write that word without quotation marks, or even fashion a sentence less than nine or ten lines long, lest I inadvertently fail to suggest the creature's awesome dimensions and seemingly endless tentacular complexities. I will try to do better. The somber subject requires clarity."

I've argued time and again, such as in What never was and never will be - Modern Madness, that 'education' was the first successful wedge into the federal gov't by the progressives, via the Morril Act, an 1860's 'War measure' by proregressive republican Sen. Morril, and was the beginning of our slide to the dismal flatness of today.

As Jefferson said “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be”... the proregressives took it to heart.

8/19/2009 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie & QP, I haven't read the essay yet, but will, but this,

"...In a free market, individuals do not exchange goods of equivalent value. They exchange goods of unequal value. If the values were equivalent, market participants would be indifferent and there would be no reason to make the exchange. It is precisely because a buyer values an apple more than 25 cents and because a seller values 25 cents more than an apple, that the buy/sell transaction takes place. ..."

I disagree with (though I'm fairly lonely in the reasons for my assessment), the error being the mistaken belief that the $'s exchanged are the full measure of the value.

I think most, if not all economists, miss the fact that the coming together of the buyer and the seller, at that point in time, for that transaction, itself creates value, and a not insignificant value, which 'fills in' the apparent imbalance in the trade.

Value, Wealth, is actually created, in a transaction... though not easily measured.

Lacking the imposition of force, people do not agree to transactions which lose value (and it is important to distinguish between value and money), and I don't believe that they mistakenly judge the monetary value of their exchanges - you can't build wealth on consecutive and a never ending run of errors.

They may wish they were able to get more $ or tangible goods, but in closing the transaction, they've agree that they've received full compensation, not necessarily monetary, and have exchanged their value for a like value.

8/19/2009 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"For most people there were only two options: toil in the fields raising crops or toil in the house raising children. Frankly, I would prefer the latter."

Here hear! This also brings to mind the absurd "child labor laws" and protests that any child labor is akin to bad parenting or abuse.

Within reason, of course, I'm not for twenty hour work day for kids.
But children learn a lot and build good character when they do work, be it chores or helping with a family business or having their own job.

It usd to be that children HAD to work for families to just survive, and it's still that way in third world countries (so all those idiots protesting child labor actually hurt families in other countries, for the most part).

In fact, I would say that parents that refuse to let or have their kids work are the one's abusing their kids (albeit unknowingly), because they grow up with no sense of understanding of economics or how the real world operates.
They also have less of a sense of charity.

And many grow up holding out for management or tha dream job since they have very high self esteems but have never earned any of it.

8/19/2009 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"(In fact, it wasn't even until the early 20th century that senators were democratically elected instead of being appointed by state legislatures.)"

There are two amendments which must be removed, before anything has a chance of getting back to normal, 16th (income tax+) and 17th which destroyed the purpose and structure of the Senate.

And of course all the various POS legislation that gives the state first claim to a parents children.

Kill those, and all the rest will flutter to the ground like dead leaves.

8/19/2009 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Van--I never noticed that grammar was the underpinning of thought until I attended a parent practicum for the classical tutorial program we will be using for the children starting this month. We previewed the grammar course, and the course on categorical logic. Having reviewed the materials, I can state pretty confidently that my three oldest children and I (parents must sit under the tutelage as well) will be getting a *thorough* grounding in grammar. I'll be reading your links soon!

8/19/2009 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/19/2009 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"For most of American history, they simply referred to two varieties of classical liberalism. But around the same time conservatism emerged as a distinct body of thought, liberalism morphed into the illiberal leftism we know and hate today."

And the shift hit it's tipping point after Wilson... people sort of shook their selves and said no more! (which of course, in typical American fashion, faded from memory after two or three years), and the Proregressives did everything they could to distance themselves from the name 'progressive', and swiped the name 'Liberal', because being the mystics (in all the bad connotations) they truly are - they believe 'words' have magic power to conjure away uncomfortable truths.

For a clue about what the "No MORE!" was over, compare the current kerfuffle over the Whitehouse asking people to turn in the email addresses of 'misinformed' neighbors, and the Wilson administration which asked people to turn in their neighbors who were 'misinformed' about their policies, not so they could be sent a stern and endarkening message, but for actual retaliatory actions from govt agencies, and imprisonment as well.

Well over 100,000 Americans were imprisoned for not being as proregressive and 'patriotic' (unquestioning of proregressives) as the administration felt they should be about its economic measures, policies and position on the war.

After all that had settled out... people said they'd had enough, Harding was elected on a call for a "Return to normalcy", and the proregressives shucked their name and swiped the name of liberal from the Democrats. The Classical Liberals in the Democrat party mostly fled to the Republican party, and it's been an uneasy mix of traditionalists, conservatives and classical liberals, ever since.

Those who do not learn from history....

8/19/2009 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Harry Carey:

Your paean to the Middle ages has the aroma of the Agrarian visions of happy darkies picking cotton in the antebellum south.

I would prefer to be a free man with my own plot of land sitting on my humble mediation pillow facing east, over being an unfree indentured servant chipping away at stones in order to memorialize the grandiose dreams of a syphilitic and inbred tyrant wanting to get into heaven by impressing God.

It's probably just an American thing. You wouldn't understand. Most Europeans still prefer to work for the GodState. My ancestors caught the first thing smoking for the New World.

As Toots said, "Every man a king. Every man a priest. Every man a Coon."

8/19/2009 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Susannah said "...my three oldest children and I (parents must sit under the tutelage as well) will be getting a *thorough* grounding in grammar."

Good for you guys! I have heard many good comments about this book on teaching grammar through sentence diagramming (once the norm) called Rex Barks, and there are actually several of the old books available online, gutenberg.org, etc.

For me, maybe it's the programmer in me, but it diagramming makes great sense.

I must admit with chagrin though, that although I'm very aware of it's importance, and I'm constantly on the look out for it, I am embarrassingly far from making good grammar second (or even third) nature to me... I can spot it in other's writing pretty well, but ... my own bad habits too ingrained, I suppose.

Sigh.

BTW, Michell's book "Less than words can say" (available online at the same site) is a must read.

8/19/2009 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Oh, we will be diagramming our brains out. I'm actually looking forward to it, being a language fiend. We are using a course developed by the founder of the program, called Essentials of the English Language. The tutorial program is called Classical Conversations & was developed by a homeschooling mom. http://classicalconversations.com/index.php I read your post on the history of education, and it jives with a lot of what I've read as well. Where did you find those shocking NEA statements? I knew they were bad guys, but I had no idea how bad.

8/19/2009 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Methinks I've got to get my hands on *Rex Barks.* :) Thanks!

8/19/2009 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Savannah-

Most members of the NEA have no inkling how bad their organization is.
Same with most unions, unfortunately. They are content with only the extortion (I mean, "negotiations") of better salaries/wages and benefits, and rarely look any further than that, let alone the Unintended Consequences of "negotiating" their way out of a job.

8/19/2009 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I know good and well they are not negotiating "for the children." They go out of their way at every convention to re-affirm their resolution against homeschooling. If parental involvement is indeed *the key* to a child's educational success (as the DOE puts it), homeschooling should be acclaimed by a teacher's union--especially given the well-documented results of the movement. Van's post elucidates the anti-liberty, anti-choice impulse behind such a resolution.

8/19/2009 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Off-topic, sorta,
Oy, vey!

8/19/2009 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Good point, Sanannah. If the NEA really cared abhout the children they would applaud homeschooliong (and many private schools) that actually show good results.

Instead they put their own interests above (and to the detriment of) the children.

8/19/2009 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Julie-

Yes, of course Obamuh is now on "god's" side, irt HRT.
Funny n' chilling at the same time.

I laughed at this comment:

"If he needs support from his 'constituents' shouldn't he be calling the mosques?"

8/19/2009 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

And this, also from Julie's link:

"We are God's partners in matters of life and death," Obama said.

But mostly death, and certainly not from the God of creation, but rather the twisted god of death n' white man annihilation he worshipped under Wright's tutelage.

8/19/2009 06:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Bob Uecker said...

GB,
Having been a farmer and craftsman for many years now, I can assure you it is not a European thing, but a post WWII thing where manual labor stopped being virtuous.
It's hard to explain, though. Pillows facing east are great, too, but not exclusively American, nor are they the ultimate in the good life.

8/19/2009 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Uke:

You're being willfully obtuse. All labor has dignity. But not forced labor.

8/19/2009 07:02:00 PM  
Anonymous goddinpotty said...

Oy. I read Richard Mitchell years ago and liked him a lot. Clear thinking and clear language is something I value. So it is amusing in a tragic sort of way to find that your Van, one of the most hysterical, addled, and long-winded writers around, is an admirer. What do you think Mitchell would have made out of passages like this (selected at random from Van's blog):

Doubting is not questioning. Properly, doubt is a feeling which alerts you through a largely unconscious wider picture analysis which tells you ‘something isn’t right’ about something which you already know a great deal about, like a sensor alerting you that something doesn’t add up. It is a secondary advisor which tells you to be careful, there’s something here you are missing, but it is not suitable to be used as a primary method of thought – that is the role reserved for questioning.

Using doubt as a method, it necessarily becomes a process of breaking down and discarding that which does not fit your assumptions of what is valid and true, it simply is not a process of apprehending, resolving and building up towards valid conceptions of what is True, that is the province of Reasoning. As a result of doubting instead of reasoning, what is ventured to be opined is put forth without a well reasoned foundation of thought, and so it must be asserted, and done so either with, or over, the thoughts of others, and that requires an assessment of whether or not you can trounce them if they are opposed to you.


God, that's painful to read. "What is ventured to be opined is put forth"? I've never made it more than a few paragraphs into one of Van's screeds, but Mitchell is always a bracing pleasure. Van, you should try boiling down your drivel into the lapidary style Mitchell exhibits. There's a fair chance nothing at all will be left, but maybe a kernel of clear thought can be dredged from the swamp.

8/19/2009 07:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Brent Musberger said...

There's a deep difference between "forced" labor and a calling.
One of the foibles of the modern world is the phenonemon of the aimless teenager. We offer them nothing, outside of music and sports, but are so very afraid to "force" something on them. Meanwhile, they get tatoos and become crossdressers.

8/19/2009 07:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Northern Bandit said...

Has anyone figured Garden Potty out yet? Bob's an insane rightwing lunatic and we're all his long-winded sycophantic minions, yet the Garden Pest shows up each and every day. Now he's taken to reading other coons besides Bob.

David Horowitz, call your office...

wv: triessop -- (apply liberally to prevent garden potty-rot)

8/19/2009 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

He wouldn't be here if he weren't getting some enjoyment out if it. Whether it's something from the blog itself, or just devilish glee in stirring the pot, who knows. I wonder what GIP thinks of the post Van actually linked in this thread. Doubt we'll hear from him on the substance of that.

8/19/2009 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Susannah said "Where did you find those shocking NEA statements? I knew they were bad guys, but I had no idea how bad."

From reading over the years... worst part is they aren't the worse... with America being a nation founded upon ideas, they are, in the deepest sense, anti-American.

8/19/2009 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger danielwwwwwww said...

I love your blog, and I've read your book a few times. I wish you'd do more posts about psychoanalysis, perhaps drawing on your clinical experiences with various patients. Psychology, mind parasites, lots of the stuff covered in your book would be great; there's been so many political posts lately, which are great, but your psychological themed ones are shining gems to me as well! Wonder your thoughts on Julius Evola, too.

8/19/2009 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

gulpingpotty said "God, that's painful to read. "What is ventured to be opined is put forth"? I've never made it more than a few paragraphs into one of Van's screeds, but Mitchell is always a bracing pleasure. Van, you should try boiling down your drivel into the lapidary style Mitchell exhibits."

Heh. Well, other than saying that taking a clause and pasting it as a sentence (even capitalizing the "W" in 'what') shows even less of an ability to recognize and appreciate structure, than I did in assembling it, I'd say again that I could definitely use some editing, not to mention an editor.

My excuse? It's a blog. While it serves me to sketch out ideas, validity is much more of a concern, than polished presentation; when dividing time between family, reading, writing and work, the time which polishing the writing would require, loses out to the others.

So sue me. As I've noted often before (and warned), on the brevity vs longwinded scale, I'm more than a bit lopsided onto the right.

And finally, I've got to admit to a bit of schadenfreude... I feel a bit of unexpected satisfaction in your displeasure... thanks for that.

P.S. But if you appreciated Mitchell... maybe there's some hope for you yet. Maybe.

8/19/2009 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger danielwwwwwww said...

Some Evola food for thought http://www.gornahoor.net/Individual/IABW.htm

8/19/2009 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I am thoroughly enjoying that Mitchell link, Van. As one reviewer noted, the temptation to read it out loud to one's neighbor is overwhelming. Hubby's getting an earful. Thank you!

8/19/2009 08:56:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/19/2009 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Van-

Yes, thanks for those links, and thanks to Susannah for bringing up diagramming!

I'm gonna see if it works on my wife, who, at times, doesn't understand what I'm saying, thinking I mean something else entirely rather than what I intended (O Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood, is a prayer I often mutter, but not out loud).

Needless to say, this can be quite frustrating as I'm sure all married folks can attest to. One wrong word or phrase and you're ducking for cover. :^)

8/19/2009 09:41:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Van,

I think Gardenparty has a crush on you.

8/19/2009 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Evola! a dense {hey if readers here grok Schuon, no problemo?} but rewarding controversial-vilified author. His book on Alchemy
is one of my faves

8/20/2009 04:49:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I haven't read him, but he does strike me as a tad extreme...

Again, I love modernity, and have no illusions about premodern times. Last night I was reading about what surgery was like before the use of anesthetics in 1853 or so. A very articulate woman describes what it felt like to have a mastectomy done while fully conscious in the early 19th century. I'll spare you the details, but she couldn't even write or think about it without almost passing out from the horror.

8/20/2009 05:28:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

This, from QP & Julie's article (and it is a good one) I think gives the context that I assumed in my previous comment was being ignored (read the article before commenting on it you say? Pshaw!),

"As Ludwig von Mises argues, "it is precisely the disparity in the value attached to the objects exchanged that results in their being exchanged." This insight means, Mises continues, that "just as there is no standard and no measurement of sexual love, of friendship and sympathy, and of aesthetic enjoyment, so there is no measurement of the value of commodities."[1] We cannot measure value, we can only prefer one good to another. In other words, I can say "I prefer this apple to 25 cents; therefore I will make the exchange," or "I prefer Susan to Beth; therefore I will ask Susan to dinner," but I cannot say "this apple is worth 10% more than 25 cents" or "I like Susan three times as much as Beth." Since we cannot measure value, we cannot define the market as the place where actors establish equivalency of value between goods. "

Particularly,

"We cannot measure value, we can only prefer one good to another. In other words, I can say "I prefer this apple to 25 cents; therefore I will make the exchange," "

I just have a problem excluding 'preference' from the full 'Value' that is being satisfied in the exchange. Although I certainly agree that preference can't be measured monetarily, I don't see an unequal exchange taking place in the sense that one person is somehow being gyped, in paying more $ for something than the other gave $ value to it. There are other issues being satisfied as well, tangible and intangible - it serves a purpose, and that can't be ignored just because it can't be assigned cash value - something bureaucrats & bean-counters are famous for disregarding.

wv:terse
Nyahhh

8/20/2009 05:48:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Bob, I'm the beneficiary of several family memoirs passed down through our family history. I've even read a couple aloud to the children. One of the unifying features is that every mother lost a child to some disease or other that we now think nothing about, thanks to vaccinations. It's heartbreaking to contemplate. I can't even imagine how fearful the first appearance of a cough or fever must have been. I read or listen to a lot of 19th century American writings (via librivox, et al) as well and notice the frequency of death, the length of illnesses (weeks in bed!) and the mistaken notions of medicine that were just par for the course then. In short, like you, I am very, very grateful for modernity.

8/20/2009 05:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Bob-

Not to mention having to use outhouses in the wintertime.
Idjits who yearn for the "simpler" primitive times oughtta just go outside and sit on some ice cold wood when they got a bad case of the grumpies.

Oh, and no toilet paper.

Of course, outhouses in sweltering heat ain't no pinic neither.

8/20/2009 08:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Or picnic.

8/20/2009 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Outhouse?! Luxury.

8/20/2009 08:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Gypsy Joe said...

Van-

Gyped? We law abiding (mostly) Gypsies are insulted by that term.
Why not say Democrated instead?
Or donked? You know they'll steal you blind. They're definitely worse than the worst Gypsies.

8/20/2009 08:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

I rest my case. Out at sea we hadta go in buckets and dump 'em over the side (the contents, not the buckets).

Well, sometimes the contents stuck to the bucket.
Sure didn't help recruitment efforts. Which is prolly why most crew members were indentured in those days.

8/20/2009 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

It's amazing how some folks can romanticize those periods of history where death and unimaginable pain was so common, and under the worst of conditions.

Hell, now we got people living in poverty that are obese.
Poverty and obese, or fat don't go together. If someone is living in actual poverty, they are skinny and malnourished, not fat.

I'm pretty sure it's not just me, but it's crazy when politicians and "advocates" for the "poor" say that the reason those living in poverty are fat is because they are depressed due to the poverty.

Hey, I don't doubt that many of those folks are depressed, but if they were indeed living in poverty they wouldn't have enough to get fat, ergo it would not be an issue.

Seriously, when I was a kid in the '60's we lived in relative poverty, which was still nothing like third world poverty. We didn't starve, but we sure were hungry most the time.
I don't ever recall obesity bein' a problem among the po' folks I knew.

8/20/2009 08:50:00 AM  

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