Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hurtling Downward Faster than the Speed of Light?

Ironically, one result of modern rationalism has been the ascendence of emotion and sentiment as the leading edge of thought.

Specifically, because emotion is denied as a source of genuine knowledge (both gross because irrelevant and subtle because impossible), the rationalist imagines he can think without it. This only causes the untutored sentiments to take their vengeance on the mind that denies them. One sees this in every feeling-based modernist movement from doctrinaire atheism, to radical secularism, to metaphysical Darwinism, to any form of leftism.

This occurred to me while reading a passage of Schuon. He mentions that while "there are no doubt contemporary philosophical problems," there are nevertheless "no intellectual needs so particular to our time as to render incomprehensible those of our fathers."

Interestingly, the older I get and wiser -- or less dense -- I become, the more true this is. To put it another way, the younger I was, the more drawn I was to the new, the novel, the modern and up-to-date. Now I wonder what "needs" these were addressing, because I now regard the "solutions" as hopelessly superficial and beside the point. They do not address man as he is, but as they wish him to be. But if man were really that way, their solutions would be unnecessary.

Last night I happened to see a short clip of Reagan from before he was president, and remembered how much I despised him back in the 1980s. When I saw the clip, it gave me a totally spontaneous and unmediated "good feeling" about the man. Without knowing anything else about him, there was a prior response of warmth and even trust.

You might say that my present feelings toward Obama are the mirror image of the feelings I had thirty years ago about Reagan. But you would be wrong. Several trolls have made this charge, and superficially it makes sense: I am the same person, but I have, for whatever reason, attached my toxic emotions to a new object of scorn.

But last night, after seeing the short clip of Reagan, I wondered if, thirty years from today, I might happen to see a short clip of Obama on my implanted biocomputer screen and have that same spontaneous emotional reaction of warmth and good will.

No. That is impossible, because the change I have endured is not of the "flip-flop" variety, but rather, of the evolutionary and non-linear type.

Also, in order to revert backward, I would have to "unknow" so much I have learned over the last thirty years, that I would no longer be I.

If anyone should believe in progress it is the self-styled "progressive," but in reality, progressive belief is the one thing in the world that isn't subject to the universal decay that flows from their cosmic nihilism. Empires come and go, but socialism is forever.

It is indeed true that "real knowledge has no history" (Schuon). But the progressive lives in hopeless contradiction, for he posits a world with no transcendent ground and therefore no permanent truths.

Just as Darwinism mandates that every species is an accident on the way to either extinction or another transitional species, it also means that today's truth becomes tomorrow's obsolete opinion, convention, and myth. Except for metaphysical Darwinism, which abides in a transcendent world of permanent truth, right alongside Obama's campaign promises.

It is similar to the supposedly faster-than-light neutrinos we learned about last week. The problem isn't that this is merely a new physical "fact" to be piled atop all the others.

Rather, if true, it would be a fact that unexplains everything else physicists "know" about the foundations of the natural world. Some facts are puzzle pieces, others are explosive devices. This is a neutrino bomb that leaves physicists standing while utterly blowing their minds.

But irrespective of whether we are in for a new physical paradigm, nothing about intelligence itself will have changed. And this is why revelation does not change, because it is and always will be conformed to man. It is addressed to "certain constants of intelligence" (Schuon), which is another way of saying that the intellect is not just in conformity to truth, but ultimately of the same "substance," which is being itself.

Thus, one might say that revelation is a communication of being from (future or timeless) Self to (present or temporal) self. And a modern man is simply "a man who forgets what is known about man" (Don Colacho), which cannot be forgotten without ceasing to be one.

In any event, the mind can readily assimilate any merely scientific finding without ceasing to be what it is. Man will always be higher than that which he knows; if he is lower, then he cannot know (truth), period.

To put it another way, the mind can only accept aberrations such as atheism or metaphysical Darwinism as a consequence of not being what it is.

We could say the same of leftism, being that it elevates man's fleeting desires to timeless and universal rights, and these new rights to someone else's obligation to fulfill them.

In short, it redounds to a tyranny of government of, by, and for the ungovernable. When we devolve from principle to accident, from idea to fact, and from intellect to feeling, we likewise justify any collective action to nurture or remedy these good or bad feelings.

For our founders, democracy was rooted in the conviction that all citizens are capable of being either ruler or ruled. Therefore, people who are incapable of self-rule are specifically unfit to engage in democracy. If you cannot even master your own domain, how can you presume to be sovereign over others?

But in the world of the left, these objectively disordered souls -- or the elected proxies who gain power in exchange for indulging and ministering to them -- become the rulers and exploiters of the self-governed. Their world is precisely ass-backward.

And we mean this literally, since it places man's worthless excreta at the top, and his head -- his truth-metabolizing intellect -- at the bottom. Is it any wonder we've been hurtling downward for the last three years even faster than usual?

It may look as if this is occurring faster than the Light which can save us. But this is only an illusion, for darkness doesn't actually move. It only enshrouds.

Real wisdom does not fade with age any more than does real art. Conceptualist relativism abolishes truth in order to set in its place a blind and heavy biological pseudo-reality. --F. Schuon

69 Comments:

Blogger Van said...

“Specifically, because emotion is denied as a source of genuine knowledge (both gross because irrelevant and subtle because impossible), the rationalist imagines he can think without it. This only causes the untutored sentiments to take their vengeance on the mind that denies them. One sees this in every feeling-based modernist movement from doctrinaire atheism, to radical secularism, to metaphysical Darwinism, to any form of leftism.”

And why, from the beginning of proregressive education, when it was still saying ‘all the right things’, when they stripped all educational material of anything that smacked of imagination, of the poetic or any sign of sentiment, it ceased to be material suited for Education, and the results began to plummet almost immediately, helping to give us the wonderful world we have today.

And that ‘immediately’ began well over a century before the 1960’s.

9/27/2011 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It's as if in radically separating light and warmth -- which necessarily go together - they create an artificial light on the one hand, and an overheated emotionality on the other.

9/27/2011 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

If you cannot even master your own domain, how can you presume to be sovereign over others?

Ah, yet another way to distinguish between leftism and conservatism: The conservative asks the above question. The leftist figures that if mastering his own domain is that hard, it must be so for everyone else, too (being generally incapable of distinguishing personal problems from universal problems). And since it's his problem, he'll helpfully volunteer to dictate to everyone else precisely how it should be solved: not be self-mastery, which he has deemed impossible, but by government fiat.

9/27/2011 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

(not be = not by; pimf)

9/27/2011 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

"It is similar to the supposedly faster-than-light neutrinos we learned about last week."

I know I'm just a gorilla, but when I was reading about this newsoid, I thought, why don't we undo nothing and just adjust what we thought was the maximum speed of light? Because I think it's been proved that you can slow down light..

Back to da post!

9/27/2011 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"In any event, the mind can readily assimilate any merely scientific finding without ceasing to be what it is. Man will always be higher than that which he knows; if he is lower, then he cannot know (truth), period."

That is all.

... er... and,

"In short, it redounds to a tyranny of government of, by, and for the ungovernable. When we devolve from principle to accident, from idea to fact, and from intellect to feeling, we likewise justify any collective action to nurture or remedy these good or bad feelings."


"If you cannot even master your own domain, how can you presume to be sovereign over others?"

Oh, that's easy. You, tragically victimized hero that you are, have these inconsequential, non-essential 'feelings' mucking up your habits, but being as heroic as you are, you are able to rise about them, you are able to see the lives of the little people with cool clarity, and so, obviously, you are supremely well suited to 'forcing them to be free'.

(sigh)

9/27/2011 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking of ungovernable, for fun, I've been reading a book called Birth of the Cool, and the level of dysfunction, sociopathy, and self-deception of these prototypical leftists is just astounding. But they morphed into the sixties boomers, who in turn have become into our statist masters....

9/27/2011 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

We could say the same of leftism, being that it elevates man's fleeting desires to timeless and universal rights, and these new rights to someone else's obligation to fulfill them.

This brings go mind a parallel quote from a Robert Louis Stevenson story:

You are attending to the little wants, and you have forgotten the great and only real ones, like a man who should be doctoring a toothache on the Judgment Day.

9/27/2011 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of the cool, Lileks today on shopping:

"There were two guys at Banana Republic looking at stuff, and one said, with a slight tone of worry, “I’m getting out of my comfort zone with this.”

It had stripes.

The music was cool – slinky chill, sophisticated lounge, soulful crooning. You are this kind of person when you’re wearing this stuff. Or rather you are already this person, which is why you’re here. Welcome. Over at the Gap, they were playing “indie” rock, because the people who shop there are iconoclasts and free-thinkers and independent souls who find expression of their carefree spirit at the largest seller of mass-produce blue-fabric pants store on the planet."

9/27/2011 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ooh... Mushroom, thanks for that nugget, it's one I've missed, but will have to remedy.

The paragraph, and how it concludes (next page) is a winner,

"There is something more than I can understand in this," he said at length. "Your mouth is full of subtleties, and the devil has led you very far astray; but the devil is only a very weak spirit before God's truth, and all his subtleties vanish at a word of true honour, like darkness at morning. Listen to me once more. I learned long ago that a gentleman should live chivalrously and lovingly to God, and the king, and his lady; and though I have seen many strange things done, I have still striven to command my ways upon that rule. It is not only written in all noble histories, but in every man's heart, if he will take care to read. You speak of food and wine, and I know very well that hunger is a difficult trial to endure; but you do not speak of other wants; you say nothing of honour, of faith to God and other men, of courtesy, of love without reproach. It may be that I am not very wise - and yet I think I am - but you seem to me like one who has lost his way and made a great error in life. You are attending to the little wants, and you have totally forgotten the great and only real ones, like a man who should be doctoring a toothache on the Judgment Day. For such things as honour and love and faith are not only nobler than food and drink, but indeed I think that we desire them more, and suffer more sharply for their absence. I speak to you as I think you will most easily understand me. Are you not, while careful to fill your belly, disregarding another appetite in your heart, which spoils the pleasure of your life and keeps you continually wretched?"

9/27/2011 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking also of government by the ungovernable, this at Taki's:

"An Israeli ballerina-turned-Mayor of Chicago is now demanding that Windy City workers participate—willingly or not—in a wellness plan. If those on the city payroll refuse to register, they’ll pay $50 a month as a penalty for not choosing what Rahm Emanuel, a big believer in the right to choose, has chosen for them."

9/27/2011 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Open Trench said...

The importance of emotions is rated all the way from neglible to paramount, depending on who you talk to.

The spectrum of major emotions, (mad, sad, glad, loving or hating)each have adherents and detractors.

Some say emotions are not amenable to control by other elements of the being, thus enthroning them as masters of life.

Some say emotions are the whole point of life, and to have strong feelings is the meaning of life itself.

How do you feel about emotions?

9/27/2011 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

bt said "How do you feel abo..."

Like I'm talking to a black hole.

9/27/2011 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Van, my thoughts exactly.
*sigh*

9/27/2011 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ironically, one result of modern rationalism has been the ascendence of emotion and sentiment as the leading edge of thought.

Apropos, the Sultan provides once again:

'In the Washington Post's "On Faith" section, a story asks; 'Judaism without God? Yes, say American atheists'. You can have Judaism without G-d, much as you can have an "On Faith" section without anything to have faith in.'

9/27/2011 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Just pondering the emotion, knowledge connection a bit here and maybe this is a shallow manifestation of a deeper truth.

It has been my experience that
in order to really learn a subject, you have to love it first. Maybe that is obvious but these discussions here make me review the obvious in a different light.

Aren't the great teachers the ones that start the love affair between student and subject as well as teach the material?

9/27/2011 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

John, along those lines, Everything is Interesting.

But as to love and knowledge, to the seeker of Truth, whichever way you begin - either the way of love or of knowledge - ultimately you can't have the one without the other. To know is to love, yada yada...

9/27/2011 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

As I've broached with Van, I am still struggling with "human rights". Isn't human rights (what we call them) a function of order and truth applied through radiant charity, both human and divine?

In any case, it's more fruitful to appeal to duties, than to rights.

Detaching (or severing) the rhetoric of human rights from the Left would essentially force the fight to "primordial man" or vertical truth.

In any case, English liberties evolved as concrete entities, rather than abstractions that were universal. Two people can't grant each other rights without seeing each other's soul - a difficult task, but not impossible in an organic, traditional culture; impossible in a Leftist global super-state.

Not that I wish there weren't human rights, and I certainly think that that which is referred to by that name are something, and are innate, and are God-given.

But are they quantifiable? And should they be?

9/27/2011 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

Another way to put it is, rights seems to imply an absolute which actually limits their energy and power.

9/28/2011 04:24:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Matthew said "In any case, it's more fruitful to appeal to duties, than to rights."

Our Rights come from our nature as human beings, and the tangible quality which is our essential characteristic, Reason. We cannot function as human beings without being able to exercise our ability to think, without being able to act on that 'ability', and without being able to retain the fruits (property) of those actions.

We cannot live as human beings, without being able to act as we see fit - when forced to act otherwise, we are forced to act against our better judgment, and so act for our demise. That is the source of Natural Law, from which our Individual Rights are derived.

Our Rights are only negative ones, we have a Right to not being forcibly prevented from thinking and acting as we see fit, and to retain the fruits, if any, of those thoughts and actions. The responsibilities that imposes upon us, is to not forcibly prevent others from doing the same.

We do not have any Rights to anything, and any attempt to say we do would mean compelling others to provide them - which would be a violation of their Rights.

"But are they quantifiable? And should they be?"

There is no possible way to list all of the decisions, or even the types of decisions, which every person must be free to make, now or in the future. Impossible, foolish to try. Aside from being foolish, by listing some, that tends to give an argument to those who'd wish to deny you other rights, the ability to say "Well, this isn't listed, so we should be able to stop people from those thoughts and actions."

That was the reason why many, including James Madison, did not want to have a list of rights included in, or amended to our Constitution... until he hit upon the nugget of the idea, which became our 9th & 10th amendments, to state that those rights that are listed,

'shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people' (9th), and that the powers that were listed for the States (there are NO 'States Rights', a bogus and asinine idea from the get go by the ol' South) and the people 'are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.'(10th).

That idea freed them up to list only those Rights which could be seen as absolutely vital to protect in order to prevent a tyrant from rising in this nation, while at the same time securing our ability to think, act and retain our property, for all time.

Or until such a time as the schools could be subverted into not teaching such ideas, and further incapacitating the people from being able to reason in such a manner as to arrive at such ideas themselves....Check

9/28/2011 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Julie @ 9:09am --

Well said. Also, isn't that what FDR said when the industrial revolution was his "argument" for giving up? A slithery trick! His "Bill of Rights" (or entitlements) particularly comes to mind.

wv: allis (all is)... Not related per se. I just like it.

9/28/2011 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger Esther said...

But that's exactly what I want to argue - that "Reason" has to be defined (experientially and practically and organically) or articulated by something transcendent and positive which is unequivocal. You can "hedge" this with negative rights (like the Magna Carta) but you can't possibly hope to write (or dare I say, to educate enough of a majority) them in such a way as to protect them indefinitely. Of course, if we had been more vigilant, tried harder, etc. But the whole point of the American experiment seems lost to me when it is given the proviso that "it has to be operated well" - that's true of any form of government.

I can agree with the negative emphasis on rights, but it still seems to leave one in the unsatisfactory position of having to constantly be on the defensive against revolutionary forces, which are forever attempting to subvert the spirit and intent.

I realize the Founders foresaw this, but what government would not endure if the people were eternally vigilant? The whole argument seems to me to have to hinge on federalism (of which State's rights is indeed one proper form) being somehow inherently capable of generating more vigilance on the behalf of the people.

This is a dubious proposition, although I pray that I am wrong.

As you can tell, still working through this....

How would a monarchy that was well-administered be inferior (innately) to a federalist republic?

Thanks for chatting, Van. I'm not saying I am right, and you certainly make excellent points, but they don't answer my (perhaps existential to me) main dilemmas.

Basically, classical liberalism seems to me (when consistent) to end up with JS Mill.

9/29/2011 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Esther said “But that's exactly what I want to argue - that "Reason" has to be defined (experientially and practically and organically) or articulated by something transcendent and positive which is unequivocal.”
(Matthew, your slip is showing again ;-) )

The only tie Reason can have to anything unchanging, is through what it discovers – there is no way to guarantee that a person will discover it. The closest we can come to even an expectation of it, is through a proper education, one fired with an ideal, an understanding of virtue, an ability to methodically question and verify – and a sense of the importance of tying your thoughts to reality and truth.

You sound as if you are seeking a guarantee – there are none, and cannot be any guarantees for man, otherwise he’d cease to be man, and become some deterministic pinball computer instead.

“you can't possibly hope to write (or dare I say, to educate enough of a majority) them in such a way as to protect them indefinitely.”

I can certainly hope for such a thing, but I’d be a fool to expect it.

“But the whole point of the American experiment seems lost to me when it is given the proviso that "it has to be operated well" - that's true of any form of government.”

In fact the whole point of the American experiment IS that “it has to be operated well”, that the people do have to be educated and virtuous or it will not work. To say that you’re expecting, or even seeking something more than that... the first question I’d have to ask is, how? Knowledge cannot be found or bestowed, it has to be developed, individually and cannot be otherwise. The second question I’d have to ask is what is it you think is the nature of man? Are you saying that you do believe that man is perfectible by men? Can you think of another ultimate end of the idea that there is some way to guarantee an American form of government that doesn’t depend upon men learning to operate it well?

“... the unsatisfactory position of having to constantly be on the defensive against revolutionary forces, which are forever attempting to subvert the spirit and intent.”

Matthew, uncomfortable or not, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. And unfortunately half of that vigilance is going to have to be directed towards those who feel they are helping secure liberty by ‘forcing men to be free’. Just the way it is. I didn’t make the world, if you don’t like that... take it up with the fellow who did.

“The whole argument seems to me to have to hinge on federalism (of which State's rights is indeed one proper form) being somehow inherently capable of generating more vigilance on the behalf of the people.”

Federalism is indeed a key component of our system of government, but in and of itself it lends nothing to the process that is inherently supportive of reason, rights and liberty. Federalism is just acknowledging that people in one state may prefer to do things differently than in another state – as far as Federalism itself is concerned, there’s not much difference between whether the states in question are Missouri and Illinois, or Germany and France.

And while it may sound picky, I assure you it is not, there is no such thing under our Constitution as ‘States Rights’, that the people who attempted to claim there was, were fighting for slavery, ought to tell you something about that. States have Powers, not Rights. Only individuals have Rights, and they also have Powers, and only disaster can follow from mixing them (see the Ninth and Tenth amendments.)

(break)

9/30/2011 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(cont.)

“How would a monarchy that was well-administered be inferior (innately) to a federalist republic?”

Well... no reason why it should be. Seriously. In fact, I, Madison, Locke, Cicero & Aristotle would argue that a single person could administer matters better than a republic. Whether the rights of individuals would be respected by that administration, is another matter.

And it depends upon what you mean by a Republic and a Monarchy too. A Republic can mean simply a system of representative government organized around a rule of law. Nothing in that means that it supports good laws or a good government. A Monarchy is simply a government that has one person as ruler of the government. Nothing says he couldn’t decree laws that respected individual rights and property. Hong Kong, when administered under the British, was one of the freest places on earth, 20th century America included (it did have that teensy issue of not allowing the people to rule themselves that was a bit of an issue, but still, all in all, it was the bomb).

It’s only when you define a Republic as John Adams did, as a system of representative government organized by, and around, the rule of law, where a person’s Right to their Property was the ultimate purpose of those laws... that you have a chance of having a Republic that is worthy of respect and veneration.

The most important key to it all, is Property Rights – they are the political anchor for all our Individual Rights. If you hold it as unquestionable that a person has a right to their property and that no one can take it from them, then, with Reason, you will be able to arrive at the need for respecting and defending all of our other rights as well – and Reason itself will be continually honed in the process, through a necessary focus on reality.

Not for nothing did Marx say that "In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property. ", just as it was not for nothing that John Adams said,

"The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If "Thou shalt not covet," and "Thou shalt not steal," were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free."

And that is the closest you’ll ever get to a guarantee. If property rights are fiercely defended for ALL people, then your government will be as close to an assured place where liberty will endure as it can get.

Allow that to be violated... for the greater good, or any other reason... and you will soon slide towards tyranny.

If you want it all wrapped up in one easily graspable and transportable statement, that’s it.

“Basically, classical liberalism seems to me (when consistent) to end up with JS Mill.”

Classical Liberalism left the idea of Liberalism (liberty) behind when it followed Rousseau, Godwin, and Bentham down the path of denying Free Will – what with the influence Bentham had in J.S. Mill’s life and upon his father, the poor kid never stood a chance.

Forsake Property Rights, and you will be soon led to the idea that Free Will is untenable.

Forsake Free Will, and you will soon be led to the idea that property must not be privately held.

The two are inseparable, and if you use Reason to bind them both together, you and your descendents have a shot at maintaining liberty. Let either one go, and you’re hosed for sure.

“Thanks for chatting, Van.”

;-)

9/30/2011 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

Monarchy can be just as much concerned with "rule of law" as any republican form of government, which has always been inimicable to monarchy.

If the American experiment has to be operated well to be "special", then the idea of checks and balances and enumerated rights and constitutions is rendered null and void. The whole reason for its existence hinges on some kind of argument that this is a different kind of system - one which redress is more possible, one which injustice finds harder to crack. Give that up, & where are you at?

The Civil War was over tariffs, slavery, & power. It's over-simplification to think otherwise. The South (for all its flaws, and they were myriad) was all that stood between what you hold as an ideal, and what we are getting today. Sad that the road forked at that particular juncture.

I agree that education is (ultimately) critical. HOwever, it sounds to me like you're saying that John Locke was right about how we gather data for ideas - that we can't have innate ideas, or have them superseded to us from above without some kind of very enumerable synthesis.

Property and reason (or education) - I agree, but think that both will be redefined if left by themselves. Redefined, or simply abolished. I don't want guarantees, I just want a fighting chance. Where is the fighting chance with property? We RENT our property from the government.

9/30/2011 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"The South (for all its flaws, and they were myriad) was all that stood between what you hold as an ideal, and what we are getting today."

Other way around: both slavery and monarchy are rooted in the identical first principle, that some men are born to rule over others without their consent.

"If the American experiment has to be operated well to be "special", then the idea of checks and balances and enumerated rights and constitutions is rendered null and void."

Another first principle -- or dream -- of the left: a system so perfect that men won't have to be good.

10/01/2011 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"If the American experiment has to be operated well to be "special", then the idea of checks and balances and enumerated rights and constitutions is rendered null and void."

I was afraid that was what was lurking there, but please tell me you're giving it more consideration than that...I'd hate to think I'm wasting my time here.

"Monarchy can be just as much concerned with "rule of law" as any republican form of government, which has always been inimicable to monarchy."

The problem with a Monarchy isn't that a monarch might be inclined to respect the rights of his people, the issue is that there is nothing but his inclination to depend upon. The rule of law in a monarcy is an illusion of circumstance, power is not only all there is, but all that 'guides' it is the arbitrary whim of the ruler. There is no true rule of law under a monarchy, only the chance appearance of it.

And the difference between a monarchy and a democracy is only one of quantity.

"The whole reason for its existence hinges on some kind of argument that this is a different kind of system..."

Not some kind of argument, an entirely different kind of argument. Only a Republic is compatible with Reason and the rule of law. The rule of law depends upon a people who choose to establish laws to live under, and choose based upon reasoning, not power. Only a Republic has the potential to establish a rule of law based upon a principle which reinforces the rule of law and individual rights - and the principle is of course property rights... which is arrived at only though Reasoning for the purposes of discovering the Truth - as Cicero said, it is where we touch the mind of God.

"The South (for all its flaws, and they were myriad) was all that stood between what you hold as an ideal, and what we are getting today."

Hard to tell what you mean by this, but if it is that the south was for anything but power, you've got an error lurking about that is a conceptual black hole – better identify it and root it out, or it will consume you. If you think the urge for power over others is anything but pure evil, you are in mortal danger. No matter what distractions of finery you think they seemed to have, it was nothing but a costume tossed over emptiness and the urge for the unearned, the unreal, the power to remake the world in their own image.

To not only seek power over others, but to explicitly use it to eliminate from another the core of what it means to be human - using your own mind to make your own choices - denied, wiped out, inserting their own commands into what should have been another’s life... pure evil. Up to the Declaration of Independence, it could be excused as something that was 'just the way it is', after that, to consider it as anything other than a terribly difficult situation to disentangle ourselves from, was to deny everything America meant and still means today. The South was fundamentally rooted not only in denying that, but reveling in it, and their corruption was seeping into everything they touched.

There is nothing romantic about evil... if you think there is... you'd best do some hard thinking upon it.
(break)

10/01/2011 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(cont)

"HOwever, it sounds to me like you're saying that John Locke was right about how we gather data for ideas - that we can't have innate ideas, or have them superseded to us from above without some kind of very enumerable synthesis."

We can't have innate ideas, to think otherwise is ultimately to think that we don't think, that we have no free will and no possibility of grasping what is True. Follow it to it's ends, and you will find nothing but costumed power worship masking an utter emptiness.

However, the fact that we do not have innate ideas does not in any way mean that we cannot perceive, conceive and engage with timeless truth. In fact it is because we are 'tabula rasa', and human and alive, that we are able to discover what is true, through our perceptual experience of what IS, and our ever deepening conceptual understanding of what it is and what it means, and means to us.

If we had innate ideas, we could do no such thing, we would never know the truth, at best we'd only be able to roll along a path, like a model train on a track, or maybe more to the point, like a player piano, imitating and repeating music, but not really playing it.

Tabula Rasa doesn't mean that we do not have a very Human Nature - it is our form of conforming to what is true, and because of it we not only are able to see what is true, but touch it, flow with it, or as Gagdad says, metabolize it, and all of that depends upon our ability to discover it, which we do through reason, and choose it, which we can only do through our own volition, Free Will - and that can only happen, if there is nothing there to begin with, no innate something in the place where our reasoned choice would have been.

Anything which seeks to prevent that, anything which pretends to lead you to 'happiness' without the effort of your thoughts and actions, some perfect system which claims it can provide it to you without you... means to do just that - it means eliminating YOU from its system, leaving only your physical bulk where a human being once was... welcome to the zombie apocalypse.

The two things you've spoken of at least wistfully here, a perfect system, or power over others 'for the greater good', are the heart and asoul of left.

I do hope you'll think about it. Remember evil doesn't come in wearing nametag, it comes in as what you desire.

10/01/2011 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

Respectfully, your position(s) on the South clarifies our differences. To conceive of the Republic as spiritual entity gained by the individual "taking heaven by storm" is also what I desire. However, to view monarchy as a democracy of ONE is to read modernist dilemmas backwards into what "once was". I am speaking of the ideal of sacral kingship, not of the idea of a Fuhrer-principle. There are plenty of examples of classically liberal political entities which flourished under monarchies, and which were destroyed by democratic process (the Hapsburgs come to mind, as well as the entire medieval period). One might argue (as Baron Ledhin has done) that classical liberalism originated out of the monarchical principle, and even John Adams argued for mixed government. To justify the annihilation of the South in toto is to essentially place one in the position (arguably) of being a proto-Leftist. Again, I realize that this is not the intent, or even the entire substance of what is argued. The hardest thing for those of good will today to do is to rebuke each other, as we try to navigate the wreck of the world.

Again, respectfully, believing that John Locke's epistemology is a good starting point is to reject not only Calvin and the entire medieval period, but Saint Paul's first chapter of Romans. Why would one wish to do this?

Power over others is the last thing existentially which I want.

However, any trip out of where the person is (in this case, myself) is a dangerous one. I appreciate the admonitions, and will heed them, as I quest.

Gurdjieff was right that the person should accept as true nothing but what one can embody in one's self and understand and grasp, and I take what you say in that spirit.

Orthoparadoxically, this involves submitting (at least in the beginning) to superior intellects and hearts, which are only available "in the past", or (if one is lucky) from one's guardian spirit leading "into the future".

Perhaps this is a waste of time. However, I do not see how rejecting political order (as opposed to chaos), even in the name of a Republic of the spirit - gets one anywhere.

I don't want a perfect system - I simply expect that a given system be able to produce something qualitatively superior to that which it supersedes. Otherwise, it is a system which defines itself as "good" without reference to the Good. This is a mare's nest of epic proportions.

One can rest in property rights with relative security, and are right to do so. However, all of these good things (right to vote on one's property, right to assemble, right to petition, etc.) are not "of the essence" if the core spiritual values are lost which make these things live.

I'm confused. Are you arguing that what every well-born, or well-souled, or well-bred person prior to 1789 considered "normative" (hierarchy opposed to chaos, order opposed to mass rule) has to be sacrificed to gain enumerated powers and un-enumerated powers which will guarantee the latent possibility of renewal?

How does this not fit the definition of "Left", as you have interposed it? This seems like a false dichotomy to me - choose 1776, or re-embrace the "Left". I'd rather have BOTH law and order, and respect for property rights.

Not that long ago in this country, before the "Republic" caved into the centrifugal forces of mass democracy, this was not entirely unimaginable.

I agree with Wilhelm Humboldt's assessment - liberty and order are both too fine a thing to be sacrificed to either of the other. If this is "Leftist", then words don't mean much.

Again, it's difficult to speak this way - it's easier to not raise one's fears and speak frankly. And I appreciate your insights, and respect where you are coming from. I think you are also mistaken, although perhaps I've misunderstood something here.

10/01/2011 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

Men always have to be good - they have to be made to be good - by themselves. Such a situation does not imply (however) that we are condemned to accept (for instance) the Revolution of 1776's cry of "No King but Christ".

This is to place one's self in a very Anglo-Protestant box, politically. Given the ethnic and cultural turmoil of modern America, is this a wise course of action? Is it practicable?

I'd like to believe it possible. The evidence of modern America as well as the ideals of the past tend to argue against it.

How is this a Leftist position?

10/01/2011 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Being that you cannot write coherently, I am not surprised that you cannot think coherently. I would be surprised, however, if I am the first person who cared enough about you to tell you this.

10/01/2011 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

Example?

10/01/2011 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

"Are you saying that you do believe that man is perfectible by men?"

Yes, if by this is mean through personal loyalty - isn't this what we do when we gather around someone on the Internet, recognizing that they may have a bit more of the spark than someone else? Isn't this why my comments are subject to moderation, and Robert Godwin's aren't? Isn't this the way it should be?

To command humbly, to serve with pride - that was the old motto of monarchy.

I'll admit some of my thinking is muddled - that's why I'm here - and am more than happy to have them detailed to me. It's not the first time someone has said I was being obscure, but not "incoherent".

Property rights are never secure in a system in which a person is thought to be a parasite - therefore, the ultimate guarantees of political systems do not rest on enumerated (or non-enumerated) individual rights, because no individual is strong enough to protect them (or even understand them) on his own.

I don't think this is merely a semantic argument; what you are calling a spiritual "Republic" (as a base) with a political federalism as its extension (as the expression of its spiritual reality) could be equally, perhaps far better, served by a system which overtly recognized rank, precedence, and excellence.

I am not arguing it SHOULD be this way, but that it IS already this way. Hence, that is why we now suffer under an oligarchy which is veiled behind a regime of political correctness, which is what I understand to be the essence of the term "Left", at least as we experience it daily.

10/01/2011 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Matthew, I wasn’t sure whether I should bother replying or not… maybe you had the beer bong out Saturday?… but maybe not. Being me, I can’t just leave it alone though, there are a few lowlights at the core of what you've said that I can't resist, but I'll try to avoid replying (much) to the ones that have already been driven home again and again though, not my problem that you want to ignore them.

First, the pretexts of the confederate slave holding south form the basis for leftist thought even today. No matter their thin claims of supporting ‘property’ and opposing tyranny – they were and are anti-liberty, anti-reason, detached from reality, and are fundamentally anti-American, as are those of their descendants in the left today. Align yourself with them and you align yourself with Obama in all but style and degree. Period.

“Power over others is the last thing existentially which I want.”

It is however, the only option your ideas leave you, and by choosing them, you will discard your own freedom of choice.

“However, to view monarchy as a democracy of ONE is to read modernist dilemmas backwards into what "once was".”

Quantity isn’t the issue, what is, is the attempt to use power to force freedom. If you can’t see the contradiction, and disqualification of that… there isn’t much you will be able to see.

"I am speaking of the ideal of sacral kingship, not of the idea of a Fuhrer-principle.”

Some variation of a Fuhrer-principle is the method of putting an ‘ideal of sacral kingship’ into practice. At no time will ‘this time!’ be any different from all the other times it’s been tried and failed. Clue.

“believing that John Locke's epistemology is a good starting point is to reject not only Calvin…”

Locke’s epistemology of course has errors, and while slavishly following its implications and allowing them to override your own sense, and ability to sense, will eventually lead to Hume, his errors don’t amount to anything that isn’t easily corrected today – providing that you don’t begin with Locke as a starting point, but with the actual starting point, Aristotle. When you begin in the middle, no one should be surprised at how much they are stumbling about.

I reject Calvin, and every other form of pre-destination and denial of free will, thoroughly and completely, and because I began from an actual starting point, it’s a much simpler task to spot a false trail for what it is. Calvin was occasionally correct in much the same way that Ptolemy was often technically correct about the orbit of Mars – he had dates and positions that matched with reality, but only incidentally, and he was in complete error as to the reason why. Ptolemy however had the admirable excuse of honest ignorance, which no one since Galileo & Newton do. Similarly with philosophers, and if you want to accept one person’s claims for how you feel men should be, as a better basis for an Epistemology than reality, then your ideas, such as they are, will rot on the vine, as they so visibly are.

“…and the entire medieval period, but Saint Paul's first chapter of Romans…”

You think far too much of Calvin and far too little of Paul.

“even John Adams argued for mixed government.”

Your reading of Adams is thin, at best.

Orthoparadoxically, attempting to achieve perfection is a guarantee of nothing but radical imperfection, unreason, violence and destruction; while accepting the inevitability of imperfection is the One path open for reasonable men to proceed towards perfection.

(break)

10/03/2011 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(cont)

You asked Gagdad for an example of your incoherence, there are several on this page, such as You wanted an example? Here’s a few, beginning with:

“Yes, if by this is mean through personal loyalty…”
“Property rights are never secure in a system in which a person is thought to be a parasite - therefore, the ultimate guarantees of political systems do not rest on enumerated…”
“I don't think this is merely a semantic argument…”

, these passages were incoherent, near textbook non sequiturs, and not surprisingly I could not follow them. But if I had to pick (and I do) the lines that seem to sum up your positions best, it'd be these two:

“To command humbly, to serve with pride - that was the old motto of monarchy.”
“perhaps far better, served by a system which overtly recognized rank, precedence, and excellence.”

The first was the hope, because the fact was that there was nothing to restrain them from giving any order they might desire – it was the very definition of the rule of men, rather than of laws, and from this end of history and understanding, there is nothing admirable at all to recommend it.

The second is what you have been trying to say, and to justify, throughout, and they mean nothing more than some people are better, more valuable than others by virtue of some sign of greatness which they (shock!) see in themselves, and therefore they are fit to order the lives of others.

It is foul fantasy, it is false, it is untrue, it attempts to assert that what is untrue, is true, because you want it to be – for the greater good, no doubt – and by virtue of that, it is a position that is a fully compatible flavor of leftism.

Political Correctness doesn’t have anything to do with oligarchy, it has to do with asserting what is not true, in order to impose and constrain people through the lie the politically correct person wishes to be accepted as true.

Which is, again, a fully compatible flavor of leftism.

You’d be wise to identify and disassociate yourself from every whiff of it that you find about you… and from here, it seems to be hanging around you as pungently as garlic. If you don’t smell it, you might want to step out of the kitchen for a while.

10/03/2011 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The book I'm currently reading, Jaffa's New Birth of Freedom touches on most of these ideas. It might be the best work on political philosophy and the foundation of the American creed I've ever read. He just decimates the Lincoln hating paleo-conservatives, showing their incoherence, inconsistency, and intellectual dishonesty. Van, you'd love it.

10/03/2011 07:33:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

OK, I'll try being direct with the verbiage...here's a Van-size post, with two parts.

I'm not a Lincoln- hater, but you'll have to pardon me for disagreeing with you over the old South: it's preposterous to assert that it was "leftist" in any sense but in a sense in which Generalissimo Franco & King Arthur would be leftists, as well as Czar Nicholas and Rochejacquelin who lead the Jacquerie.

In any case, your argument doesn't differentiate sufficiently between various elements of the old South, or between its political expression and its culture. Abolitionism (it is well known) actually helped to radicalize the Southern position on slavery, which prior to 1830, was headed in the opposite direction. You're being hopelessly simple-minded on this issue, and I can't allow it to pass muster.

Again, not a Lincoln-hater myself - but I recognize when a period of history is being used for current propaganda, including (it would seem) among friends.

You all have nothing good to say about the old South? You have no condemnation to make of the veritable Jacobins and raving lunatics who helped foment for the bloodiest war on American soil? Nothing?

No one is asking for an endorsement. Just a little more of a deft touch when discussing the issue. I'll give you a good argument for your side - monarchy imposed slavery on the South (against the wishes of the assemblies) and democracy (later) ratified it. So I suppose that's an argument for a Republic.

"the attempt to use power to force freedom...It is foul fantasy, it is false, it is untrue, it attempts to assert that what is untrue, is true, because you want it to be – for the greater good, no doubt – and by virtue of that, it is a position that is a fully compatible flavor of leftism."

10/03/2011 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

Part II

All power limits or abrogates freedom. You would have justified the power of the Union to wage war on slaveholders, and you certainly justify the power of the government to levy taxes, which are not directly correlated to individual consent. Now, before you shout j'accuse!, I wrote "all power limits freedom", those are your words (actually an improvement on them - you wrote "forces freedom", which is unclear)
and not mine. You are the one arguing abstractly, about "rule of law" versus "rule of men" (a false dichotomy if there ever was one).

You don't believe merely in free will, but in human autonomy of a very radical and specific sort. Not Sartre, of course, but definitely J.S. Mill. Your problem is that you can't determine what directly or indirectly affects other people enough in this technological era in order to avoid endless factions and litigations. The modern American republic is hardly an aberration of classically liberal thought, but rather, a certain form of its completion.

I guess that's why you have to resort to thinking I don't believe in free will (Calvin believed in it too) or that I am a Leftist.

Was Lord Cromer, who administered Egypt according to his own whims and to their infinite betterment, a Leftist? Is Egypt better off now, without him?

Your problem is not with Calvin, or with me, but with the Bible itself. Paul justifies "the sword of terror" in Romans 13, and indirectly acknowledges slavery in many of his epistles. Does your political account have enough sophistication to take cognizance of such facts? Does it even have enough coherence to explain where the individual stops and "the directly affected other individual begins"?

Keep in mind, I'm not posing these as questions to myself - I think individual liberty is quite adequately defined pragmatically as "the most amount of liberty that is possible, feasible, and desirable", and hold it as a high ideal, a luxury which humanity should aspire to by all means. So I'm not asking cutey Leftist bullshit questions designed to display my immense sophistication; I'm simply asking you on your premises how do you account for classical liberalism's desire to use power to infringe some people's property (presumably those who are "directly" affecting others) but eschew then using that same power to tell those now delivered where their freedoms stop (eg., deprivation of the right to vote, etc.)?

I don't think you or anyone else can do it, and no amount of jumping about and name-calling and pretending I want a perfect system will do it either.

10/03/2011 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

Political systems help or induce or influence private virtue. No amount of power or design can ensure political virtue, but it does not therefore follow that a badly designed system is not culpable in wreaking havoc with private mores.

I trust the above is sufficiently clear?

Democracy has "tried and failed" also. How is this any argument against monarchy or sacred kingships, then, when every political system (and I know you believe this) has "tried and failed"? The form doesn't matter, nor does the right to vote. What matters is justice in those who hold the office of magistrate.

The best you can hope for is a pragmatic argument that republics tend to have safety valves, safety clauses, etc., etc. Pardon me for thinking (then) that they SHOULD.

The debate is over which system can better supply the means for self-governance, not over whose system is "perfect" or (in your case) defined as "perfection by planning for imperfection". Same argument could be used (perfection by imperfection) for hereditary constitutional monarchies, in which very few have suffrage, but that's by the way.

So let's stop calling each other Leftist (actually, I haven't gotten that far yet), and debate the real issue at hand, which is whether it's worth while talking about individual rights in a political context as abstract absolutes.

I understand that you assume a bedrock of spiritual culture to buttress this and give it responsibility and content. However, this is begging the question. If we grant each other this, then which FORM of government best protects the bedrock?

So are we having an argument about FORM, or are we discussing the current state of talking about "rights" in America?

PC is about power as well as lies, and nothing but truth (and a truth actuated as a power) can defeat it. Why do you think they are lying? So they can have a bit of fun? Or so they can keep their jobs, enjoy the manipulation, and loot the country with factional infighting and divvying of spoils?

Wasn't Andrew Jackson a big tote for democracy also? DIdn't he practically invent the spoils system in this country?

For the life of me, I cannot understand this irrational attachment to the voting process. I tolerate it myself because of conservative instinct, and because often times something worse replaces that which is swept away - but the classical liberal in me distrusts it immensely.

10/03/2011 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

“here's a Van-size post”

Eh, a mini-van at best, and Good lord, what a mess. I imagine this’ll require more than a few comments, and then this should be taken off line, it’s gone far beyond the scope of this page.

“it's preposterous to assert that it was "leftist" in any sense but in a sense in which Generalissimo Franco & King Arthur would be leftists”

Franco, yep. King Arthur? Read back to the Galileo & Newton part of my comment above… maybe you’ll figure it out.

“In any case, your argument doesn't differentiate sufficiently between various elements of the old South”

Correct. Not talking about any particular part of the old south, but what the ideas of the slave holding south were based upon. You don’t seem to be able to get that. It’s ok. I get that you can’t get that. Move along.

“monarchy imposed slavery on the South”
On the North too. The North got rid of it. The South held onto it. There’s a reason why, and it doesn’t have to do with tariffs.

“I wrote "all power limits freedom", those are your words (actually an improvement on them - you wrote "forces freedom", which is unclear)
and not mine.”

Not mine either, sorry, thought you had enough of a clue that you’d get it (I’ve quoted it endlessly enough (old timers here are groaning and nodding)), read up on your Rousseau (“… means nothing less than we must force men to be free…”

And no, all power does not limit freedom. The power that upholds and defends the Right to Free Speech, etc, does not limit freedom, but expands it. Focus Matthew, focus.

“You are the one arguing abstractly, about "rule of law" versus "rule of men" (a false dichotomy if there ever was one).”

Take it up with John Adams Novanglus

“ They define a republic to be a government of laws, and not of men.”

Or better yet, read it and take the risk of learning something worth learning.

“You don't believe merely in free will, but in human autonomy of a very radical and specific sort.”

Call me a libertarian and I’m going to slap you.

“Not Sartre, of course, but definitely J.S. Mill”

That does it Whap!

(break)

10/04/2011 06:56:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(cont)

“Your problem is that you can't determine what directly or indirectly affects other people enough in this technological era in order to avoid endless factions and litigations.”

Heh, says the boy who’s pining for the glories of the Old South and sacral kingship. I’m actually involved in using the technological era to inform people and help bring about actions on nationwide, statewide, and local levels. Not to brag, especially since my part has been small, but it’s been large enough to help pass a (state) constitutional amendment, stop several bills dead in their tracks, and more importantly, stir up a hornets nest of informed parents, halting, or at least slowing (damn zombies, they keep getting back up), the further centralization of our school system in Missouri.

Now you can call that division and faction if you’d like, or if you’d like your words to mean something more than a buzz word you picked up, you can call it people responding to ideas and issues that concern their lives, and doing something about it. Another thing you could call that is America… but that would involve your first learning what it means, and why – I’m not holding my breath. But one thing I’d be foolish to call it, is a solution – I’m very much aware that it is not doing much more than putting up very temporary obstacles in ‘the enemies’ way – but in that sense, they are useful, and buy us some time.

The only real victory possible, secularly speaking (so to speak), will be when enough of the people are informed enough, to recognize and not tolerate the hallmarks of leftist thought, which is why I’ve also been involved in putting on numerous classes educating people about the ideas that went into the founding of America – it’s an agonizingly slow process, but it’s a start, and I’m far, far, far from the only one doing it.

Now, knowing how unable you are to retain a concept (seeing as we went over most of this back in March & April – classical liberalism, Calvin, Prudence, etc), I’ll repeat, I identify ‘leftist’ or ‘proregressive’ thought, as those ideas, policies and practices that rest upon the idea that we are fundamentally unable to know reality, that we do not have free will, and that some form of experts must make people’s lives better for the mass of the people, with or without their consent. These ideas are most easily seen in practice by their behavior towards Property Rights, which is always to some degree, antagonistic, which is always reflected in their behavior to all other individual rights.

And no, that doesn’t neatly delineate between various sects, parties or movements, for one reason – I don’t care about them. Their differences are of degree, not kind – I care about the kind.

(break)

10/04/2011 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(cont)
“is hardly an aberration of classically liberal thought, but rather, a certain form of its completion.”

There is no Hegelian thesis>antithesis>synthesis at work here, contradictions do not unite, they vie with and destroy each other, when classical liberalism gave way to modern liberalism, that was no development of thought, but an overthrow of it. Get a clue.

“I think individual liberty is quite adequately defined pragmatically as…”

Oh, thanks for the reminder. Next to their view of Property Rights, the proregressive leftist has a tendency towards Pragmatism (‘what works for the moment’ over principled thought and action), which is another tell-tale sign of the inner leftist. As well as an aversion to, and an inability to comprehend, the meaning of, Prudence, which typically results in their confusing Prudence with Pragmatism… but don’t let me interrupt you, please continue your demonstration.

“I'm simply asking you on your premises how do you account for classical liberalism's desire to use power to infringe some people's property…”

I don’t. Whatever line of thought that does that, is not Classical Liberalism. BTW, despite popular understanding, J.S. Mill was not a classical liberal, the breed died out in England with Burke. Perhaps I haven’t said it recently, though I certainly have in our previous contacts, when I say Classical Liberalism, I’m speaking of the Founders Era variety, American/English branch of the Enlightenment, not the Frenchified branch. The Frenchified branch spread the ideas of Rousseau (who came to England through Godwin), Hume and Bentham – who had a direct line to the formation of Mill’s mind - and with it Classical Liberalism ended there.

Btw, at the risk of ticking off most of the conservative world…Adam Smith?… not so much either; he had some very good, very wide ranging observations, but he didn’t really ‘Get it’, ironically the American/British branch of the Enlightenment, and Classical Liberalism, are far better represented by the ideas of Jean Baptiste Say, or Frederic Bastiat.

“pretending I want a perfect system will do it either”

Matthew, pay attention to your own words, I don’t like having to do it for you.

(break)

10/04/2011 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(cont)
“Political systems help or induce or influence private virtue.”

Political systems can interfere with or enable private virtue, nothing more.

“I trust the above is sufficiently clear?”

I think your trust is misplaced.

“I know you believe this”

As you’ve demonstrated with your J.S. Mill comment, you’ve no idea what I believe, please stick to trying to figure out what you believe, because as you demonstrate with this,

“The form doesn't matter, nor does the right to vote. What matters is justice in those who hold the office of magistrate.”

It is an uninformed, confused, horror show of a mess. You haven’t demonstrated the slightest evidence that you comprehend the meaning or purpose of law, let alone Reason, Virtue, Principles or Rights.

“The best you can hope for is a pragmatic argument”

Sadly, that seems to be the best that you can hope for, hence your comments.

“The debate is over which system can better supply the means for self-governance,”

Why don’t you work on figuring out what self-governance means and why, then the system which best supports it, might become a bit more self-evident to you. At that point you might finally understand why what you have to say is in such complete conflict with it.

“Wasn't Andrew Jackson a big tote for democracy…”

Yeah, he was, which is why I rank him as one of our worst presidents ever.

“For the life of me, I cannot understand this irrational attachment to the voting process.”

The truest and most insightful thing you’ve said here. Why don’t you work on figuring out why people such as our founders considered it to be so important – the book by John Adams I linked to above wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Until you do, there is no point in your using either the words ‘Conservative’ or ‘Classical Liberal’.

I suspect those reading this page would rather not have to see any more of this conversation, if you want to continue it, you know my email.

10/04/2011 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Thanks for the book ref Gagdad, added to cart.

10/04/2011 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

You'll love it, but Matthew needs it.

10/04/2011 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

"And why, from the beginning of proregressive education, when it was still saying ‘all the right things’, when they stripped all educational material of anything that smacked of imagination, of the poetic or any sign of sentiment, it ceased to be material suited for Education, and the results began to plummet almost immediately, helping to give us the wonderful world we have today.

And that ‘immediately’ began well over a century before the 1960’s."

I make that around 1860?

As long as you continue to think that the Civil War represented an unadulterated good (or pick any other "triumph" of classical liberalism) I don't suppose it's worth discussing. In fact, it's not very "classically liberal" of you to suppose so.

For what it's worth, I humbly submit that a hyperventilating and reactionary frame of mind is more of a cardinal marker for "Leftism" than is anything which I could be construed to have written.

It is pellucid what self-governance means, and it has very little necessary connection with voting (as far as I can tell).

I have your email; good luck with the Tea Party.

10/04/2011 09:26:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"It is pellucid what self-governance means, and it has very little necessary connection with voting"

And it has no connection to the Confederacy, where self-government was forbidden by law and by custom.

10/05/2011 05:42:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Matthew, what little respect I had left for you just left the building. When you figure out how to read what people are saying, rather than what you wish they were saying, check back in.

In this post, and many others, I pointed out that the Morrill Act for Land Grant Colleges, passed in 1862, by Lincoln, as a war measure, has had a longer lasting and more damaging impact upon America than even the Civil War itself was.

I believe that if you check previous emails, it was raised there too.

If you plan on waking up, try opening your eyes first.

10/05/2011 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

Racial slavery was an enormous evil; slavery itself is an existential fact of life which cannot be addressed solely or even primarily by politics, nor is one system of government abstractly preferable to another (why am I lecturing Van on Aristotle here?)

I suppose one could argue for choosing the lesser of two evils between a society which continued the one, and a society which abolished it through the mechanism of equality of citizenship. (Now we're talking about "societies", which always scares me). Or, one can embrace an existential view of history which is "revelatory" (otherwise, King Arthur is a "Leftist"). Now we're talking about "progress", which also scares me. I'm not convinced, and judging from Van's tone, neither is he.

Van, I think I finally "get" your position - the way one reconciles a very secular idea of freedom (to be charitable, we'll say it comes by way of Aristotle, through Locke) with an (also) very secular idea of property rights is by affirming the necessity for preserving mass democracy, much like the South reasoned in 1860 regarding slavery, and much like the North also thought on the matter - one can't preserve industrial city-scapes with the South as a competitor. This reflects on the firebrands on either side who were in favor of settling things with a war.

Robert, Jaffa's condemnation of A. Stephens' remarks about the African race could (supposing he was completely lucid) equally apply to Lincoln, unless of course you read him (and Jaffa) through a Straussian lens? Isn't this a fair question?

The South certainly did (in principle) threaten property rights and self-government for all by abrogating it for some (in this case, the worst sin was the racial component). There were (however) free blacks in the old South. The North's victory also threatened "rights" by destroying the organic basis of federalism, and it went far beyond a simple land act, as Van ought to be aware and willing to admit.

You have no cause to complain, Van - you've misread virtually every post I've ever written, and all either of us can do is try to do better. Quit squalling.

You're certainly a sharp mind, a good debater, and an honest person (as far as I can tell), but maybe you should just calm down a little bit.

I'm not a Leftist, I don't think power belongs to the strong (or to the good). I think true power is something most of us probably don't understand very well. You'd make more converts and gain more ears if you'd try to listen to the spirit and tone. I'll try to read more of the "letter of the law" on your website.

I can understand hanging on to absolute voting rights as a kind of safety towel, but doesn't that make one a "conservative"? Relative voting rights are another matter - which is what we have now anyway.

"Only a Republic is compatible with Reason and the rule of law. The rule of law depends upon a people who choose to establish laws to live under, and choose based upon reasoning, not power. Only a Republic has the potential to establish a rule of law based upon a principle which reinforces the rule of law and individual rights - and the principle is of course property rights... which is arrived at only though Reasoning for the purposes of discovering the Truth - as Cicero said, it is where we touch the mind of God."

Any organic federalism can recognize voting rights in ways and means which are not absolute. It sounds to me that you think "everything is political". Again, to my sensibilities, this smacks of "the Left". But I don't actually think that you are "Left", a courtesy which apparently doesn't extend to me?

10/05/2011 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

Been up since 4am, blame it on that in advance. I'm done, I'll think about what you've both said and written.

10/05/2011 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"nor is one system of government abstractly preferable to another"

So you would just as soon be slave as free.

Not only are you self-evidently incorrect, you sound a little nuts.

10/05/2011 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

matthew said "...very secular idea of property rights is by affirming the necessity for preserving mass democracy..."

Where in God's name did you ever get the idea that I in any way supported Democracy? Or that I thought that Democracy and Property Rights - or any proper Individual Rights - could actually be compatible?

Aristotle is one of my favorites... but have you read his politics? Particularly the section on Education? Are you kidding me?

Stop.

Learn what it is that you are trying to talk about, actually means first.

I can't read any further.

No doubt my curiousity will get the better of me later... but ... just... stop.

10/05/2011 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Is your comprehension of voting so limited that you equate voting democratically with Democracy?!

Argh... done.

I wish.

10/05/2011 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"Robert, Jaffa's condemnation of A. Stephens' remarks about the African race could (supposing he was completely lucid) equally apply to Lincoln, unless of course you read him (and Jaffa) through a Straussian lens? Isn't this a fair question?"

No, it is an absurd question. Stephens did not believe in natural rights, as did the founders, but was a progressive who believed that 19th century science proved the superiority of white over black. Lincoln's goal was to preserve the union while keeping slavery on the path to extinction.

10/05/2011 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"The North's victory also threatened "rights" by destroying the organic basis of federalism, "

What does that even mean? States do not have rights, only people do. States have power, but no power to deny natural rights.

10/05/2011 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

As an aside, in reading this book by Jaffa, it's striking how similar -- and similarly perverse -- are the constitutional arguments for slavery and abortion. Even if one is pro-choice, Roe v. Wade has to be the worst instance of judicial reasoning since Dred Scott.

10/05/2011 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Guess I'm not the first to notice.

10/05/2011 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

Well, if that's what you think, Van, then I am not sure why we are arguing. Every time I express a doubt about "human rights" existing (a doubt I've always couched in the context of voting rights and/or the arena of political rhetoric), I get violently mauled. Perhaps I am a little nuts, but I'd like for it to be explained to me how (in the name of God) someone like Lincoln can have his praises sung as if he were virtually a saint (Jaffa may be better than the author of Sea to Shining Sea, whoever he was, I can't recall now), when his sentiments about Africans were identical to A. Stephens.

So there's no connection between Lincoln's land act and the fact that he was willing to consolidate federal power over the states? Call them something other than rights, if you want to.

"Forms" of government (as in): government of one, the few, or the many, or any mix of the three, not slavery. I thought that went without saying. But yes, I'd rather be a slave under a just ruler than a "free man" in any number of socialist republics we've had on the planet.

10/05/2011 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Matthew, your statements about Lincoln are willful lies rooted in hatred. The truth is easily available to any sincere and intellectually honest person. You believe what you do about Lincoln because that is what you choose to believe. It is easily corrected if one wishes to be corrected. But your mind has been steeped in a culture of stupid lies, vile hatreds, and plain resentment over its inferiority. No one believes it outside your intellectual jerk circle of fellow cultists.

10/05/2011 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

matthew said " It sounds to me that you think "everything is political"."

I've said over and again that politics operates at the bottom rung, it is only the visible effect of philosophy. Nothing can be accomplished through politics if it has not already been accomplished in philosophy and the understanding of it.

But your comment sums up your recent streak of comments to a "T". It looks to me like you think across the surface of things, like a pebble skipped across a frozen pond, and then congratulate yourself on how far you've travelled.

"Well, if that's what you think, Van, then I am not sure why we are arguing."

2nd truest thing you've said so far. Look deeper. Take the time to learn, with at least some depth, before pronouncing your opinion. To those who've at least taken a stab at it, the ice cracking beneath your intellectual feet is extremely obvious... as is what comes next.

10/05/2011 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

I'd like to let this go; silence, however, implies consent (or guilt). I don't hate Lincoln, and certainly belong to no "cults". I simply asked why Lincoln-eulogizers don't speak about his recorded quotations on the race problem in America. It's a curious phenomenon. I have to assume that either you are proving my point, or else I've been fed a pack of lies. Should be easy to determine, and I'll be sure and get back with you.

10/07/2011 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

There are a number of reasons, and there is plenty of information out there. For starters, one must draw a distinction between public and private statements. Also, there is no way Lincoln could have succeeded without the support of the multitude of Northern racists who were nevertheless anti-slavery, not to mention the border states, plus the many southern racists who were against secession (120,000 of whom fought for the union). People who have an overall strategy often have to say and do things that appear counter to the strategy. That Churchill publicly said nice things about Stalin is a poor indication of how he actually felt about him.

10/07/2011 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

I know that's Jaffa's take, and that was why I asked the question about Strauss. My current problem is trying to understand how or why very little is ever said about what was lost during the war, and how it might be recovered. It's nice to see people like Van noting the land act, yet I disagree profoundly that federalism is "merely" a flavor of "states" - Missouri does it this way, Iowa likes it this'a'way. My own thinking is more along the lines of Taparelli or Althusius:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luigi_Taparelli
My current impression is that Lincoln is an ambivalent character.

10/07/2011 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

matthew said “My current impression”

Well put.

10/08/2011 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

After thinking about this exchange for two years, I'd like to publicly ask Robert Godwin to explain his assertion that I was a Leftist who thought that systems had to be so perfect no one had to be good. I argued exactly the opposite: checks and balances are universal to all governments, and are wonderful things, however, men always have to be good. The idea that a certain brand of checks/balances (ie., American) is SOOOO GOOD that anything else is uncivilized (or worse) is actually a very Leftist position, in that it presupposes that our system is utterly singular (eg., so good that America doesn't have to be good), get it in place and take a holiday from history, because there is one right way to formulate and express our intuitions of natural rights, since democracy is so much more than local self-government, nay more than even a religion, it is GOD HIMSELF. What you are saying, Bob, is that our "system is so good, it can survive even with a president like Obama in office". "Our system is so good, that One Million Dead during the Civil War was SO WORTH IT!" (got to break eggs to make omelettes). "Our system is so good, that to question the goodness of it or even the particulars of its development in history (or God forbid, its martyrs and saints) automatically makes one a Leftist!". You call me a Leftist? Even if I was, I couldn't hold a candle to you, big fella! I proudly embrace whatever is good in America (checks and balances, light federalism, regional differences, Magna Carta style rights, etc.), and indeed, have emotion towards the whole. But I do not for a minute suppose that the system is so perfect men don't have to be good; in fact, they have to be good enough to keep it from going corrupt, and good enough to know when it's gone too far to retrieve or defend. That isn't a Leftist position, and you know it. Take back (both of you) not the things you said about me, but the things you said about the freedom loving and God-worshipping ancestors you both presumably had in monarchical Europe, your own flesh and blood, your own spiritual forefathers. And stop calling me a Leftist - I think you protest too much, comrades. Lovingly yours, hoping the verbiage is clear enough for comprehension, MCS.

1/22/2014 12:13:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Matthew said "After thinking about this exchange for two years"

Thinking, or stewing? Not seeing any evidence of increased comprehension or new insights (or paragraphs), I'm gonna have to go with stewing.

1/22/2014 05:13:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

That's right Van, go for rhetoric and ad hominem argument, although that's preferable to your usual 10 page screed/ data dump. To pick at random from your old reams of paper:
"Not for nothing did Marx say that "In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property."

Your ilk abolished private property when they took the realm away from the King; no King as owner, no freeholder as owner either. Your ilk declared eminent domain and evicted people living in the hills so we could build enormous dams to glut our free markets or declare huge national forests owned by the real People.

Shame on both of you for slandering your European forefathers, who would be ashamed of both of you for dragging their history into the Procrustean bed of your classically liberal logic, and chopping off their body politic because it was "monarchical" or "aristocratic", and therefore (somehow) akin to slavery.

Comprehension of what, Mr. V. Hervey? The only "stewing" around here is the last two years, as you both baste in the sauce of the Obama administration's co-Leftism. May you all be as equal and free as pigs in a sty. Good luck. Call me when you stop slandering your ancestors, and I'll take your plight seriously.

1/22/2014 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Matthew said "...Take back (both of you) not the things you said about me, but the things you said about the freedom loving and God-worshipping ancestors you both pres..."

Ya know, in this rare moment of downtime at work, I couldn't help noticing, thanks to something Julie posted a bit more recently (you know, this year, this week), just how closely your comment resembles Otter's famous double secret probation rebuttal speech from 'Animal House':

"
Otter: Ladies and gentlemen, I'll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests - we did.
[winks at Dean Wormer]
Otter: But you can't hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg - isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!
[Leads the Deltas out of the hearing, all humming the Star-Spangled Banner]
"

Is that what you were going for? Or parody...? No? Huh.

BTW Matthew, the American system, as designed (though currently ignored, which is the real issue), isn't great because of what it does, or because of who our ancestors were(!), but because of what it doesn't do. It not only makes it difficult for government to agree upon taking any action at all, it forbids it from taking those actions it might finally agree upon taking, which would infringe upon its people's Rights.

Any alternate system of kinder gentl'r fascism or monarchy that you'd like to propose as a better system, would have to surpass the American system's ability to prevent its govt from taking action, which, as you seem to like systems that do things (you know, enslaving people, etc), rather than those which refrain from doing things, I'm betting that's highly unlikely.

"...hoping the verbiage is clear en..."

But thanks, good comedy is sooo hard to come by.

1/22/2014 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Matthew said "Your ilk abolished private property when they took the realm away from the King"

Wow. Yes, nothing says Private Property like a King owning a realm. I'd assumed that your latest comment was the unfortunate result of leaving the computer open during a kegger, but it looks like it might have more to do with an irony deficient diet... or worse.

Best wishes on a speedy recovery.

1/22/2014 08:56:00 AM  

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