Friday, February 03, 2012

Government Of, By, and For the Ungovernable

Apologize for the Sun Ra freakout yesterday. Obviously my wires got crossed as a result of trying to blog while watching the Holder thingy, and that's what came out. Although Ra appears regularly in the 'Coon Club Au Go-Go showroom, I do not advocate him to the uninitiated.

It did form quite a contrast, however -- the penultimate retrograde reactionary establishment negro overseer of the Victim Plantation vs. the only-begotten post-racial interplanetary musical transponder of happy tomorrows: the entirely predictable type vs. the unprecedented and unrepeatable individual. I suppose Holder must have provoked his opposite number in positive space.

But none of this is actually irrelevant to our topic, which involves the limits of freedom. Much of Charles Murray's Coming Apart -- which is a must read -- revolves around the same subject, which ultimately comes down to the question of how a people can remain free if they reject the virtues -- i.e., the intrinsic limits -- that undergird the very possibility of freedom.

Murray cites various founders and foreign observers who were acutely aware of this. Indeed, in order to not know it, you must have either attended graduate school or else be among the underclass victims of the toxic ideology of our academic elites.

This is indeed one of the striking conclusions of the book, that our elites, instead of preaching what they practice -- i.e., the behaviors and attitudes that resulted in their own success -- preach exactly the opposite. In THE NEW CLASS: PROFITING FROM DECLINE, PowerLine links to a piece at Falkenblog that relieves me of the need to lay the foundation:

"Murray argues the well-off should set a better example by not apologizing for their squareness, but rather, by advocating their lifestyle and scorning those who fail to live up to it -- we need more of what is usually called ‘blaming the victim.'"

Nevertheless, the lower classes never stop hearing of "how great it is to be a victim, how noble it is to be poor, powerless, or discriminated [against]; to be wronged is the ultimate in righteousness." But this is not something our hyper status-conscious elites would ever indulge in themselves:

"Alas, successful people are ashamed to assert they have better genetics, values, and habits -- even though they quietly believe it to be true -- and so are content to let the media and intellectuals push the delusional idea that success is like when Paris Hilton had sex on a digital camera and built a career out of it: luck, connections, and chutzpah, but no discipline, ingenuity, and perseverence. With such examples it becomes defensible to suggest most of the rich are like that -- mere lucky hacks in the game of life. The flip side is that those who are unsuccessful are suffering for no fault of their own" (Falkenstein).

Speaking of Falkenstein's monster, the whole thing is a weird and twisted academic experiment in reverse-prometheanism: a misguided attempt to make man better by making him worse, or transcendence via regression.

I know many successful liberals who are full of covert (and not so covert) narcissistic superiority, which they deny through assimilation of the liberal sensibility described above. There is nothing empathic or compassionate about them. They live their own lives in a conservative, even blandly bourgeois, manner, and yet, advocate an entirely different set of values for the unsuccessful.

These unsuccessful victims of someone else's success function only as props in the liberal's personal psychodrama. They have no interest whatsoever in understanding the actual behaviors that result in poverty or in success. Indeed, they need the poor in order to elevate themselves, which helps explain their dogged adherence to policies that are guaranteed to create more of them.

Murray attempts to distill the cardinal virtues that resulted in America's unprecedented success -- which for him are marriage, industriousness, honesty, and religiosity -- and in so doing, show how unique they were to America.

In fact, this is something everyone once knew, both here and abroad. He cites an example from 1825, when a European observer wrote that "no government could be established on the same principle as that of the United States, with a different code of morals."

Furthermore, our Constitution "can only suffice a people habitually correct in their actions, and would be utterly inadequate to the wants of a different nation. Change the domestic habits of the Americans, their religious devotion, and their respect for morality, and it will not be necessary to change a single letter of the Constitution in order to vary the whole form of their government" (Francis Grund, emphasis mine).

How extraordinarily prescient! Yes, the ACLU is a strict adherent to the Constitution -- the perverse Constitution that results from a complete rejection of the spirit and values that inspired it.

Murray cites various founders, such as Madison: "To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea."

Franklin: "only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."

Patrick Henry: "bad men cannot make good citizens.... No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue."

Tocqueville: "travelers who have visited North America.... all agree in remarking that morals are far more strict there than elsewhere."

Even Jefferson (not that his erratic thought process should hold any particular weight, except that he seems to be the perennial favorite of the adultolescent left): "Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?"

One could go on and on. The point is, self-government requires first and foremost government of oneself. But with the symbolic ascendence of Obama, we have reached the dangerous tipping point of a government of, by, and for the ungovernable. Or, perhaps of the insufferable over the ungovernable, the former enabling the latter with a poisonous and destructive ideology that is guaranteed to produce more of the victims that justify the ideology.

Again, all of the above goes to the ninth of our Ten Universal Principles, which concerns the limits of freedom. I couldn't possibly express it more clearly than Tocqueville, who is quoted by Murray:

"Thus, while the law permits the Americans to do what they please, religion prevents them from" doing so. The latter "must be regarded as the first of their political institutions," for "Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other."

But as we have said before, leftism is quintessentially "the possibility of the impossible," endeavoring always to bring about what can never be, through ideas and principles that should never have been.

To be continued, but no posts for several days....

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Thank God Almighty, I'm Unfree at Last!

I'll be honest. I'm distracted by Eric Holder's dramatic (in a soap opera sort of way) testimony before congress. Very difficult to listen to it while blogging. It's not something I've ever before attempted. Kind of giving me a headache. Probably not healthy to divide one's attention in this manner.

We've already established that human beings have an intrinsic right to freedom. But freedom in the absence of limits reduces to nihilism, just as, say, absolute musical freedom -- in which there are no scales, no melody, and no rhythm -- can produce nothing more interesting or involving than sonic chaos.

But sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between chaos and a very high degree of order.

For example, Sun Ra himself, the interstellar ambassador, said "I can write something so chaotic you would say you know it's not written. But the reason it's chaotic is because it's written to be. It's further out than anything [my musicians] would be doing if they were just improvising."

In fact, when a new player came into the band, he first had to serve time in the "Ra jail" and learn the cosmo-musical rules: "Freedom wasn't Ra's bag. In his view, the rhetoric of freedom was the downfall of black America" (John Corbett, When Angels Speak of Love). Could a brother from Saturn have been correct about this? What can he know of the struggle of black people on earth?

In 1970 he said: "I couldn't approach black people with the truth because they like lies. They live lies… At one time I felt that white people were to blame for everything, but then I found out that they were just puppets and pawns of some greater force, which has been using them… Some force is having a good time [manipulating black and white people] and looking, enjoying itself up in a reserved seat, wondering, 'I wonder when they're going to wake up'" (wikipedia).

What Ra was talking about is the mind parasites that can only operate because man is free. To put it another way, they exploit man's freedom and hijack the host in order to do their will.

This is not some type of neo-Gnosticism, at least as far as I am concerned. Rather, it is a very objective and experience-near description of what's happening here on earth.

Since they aren't free, other animals can only do so much harm. But man's capacity for evil is as (relatively) infinite as is his capacity for freedom. Thus, if we don't recognize the divinely authored limits to freedom, then limits will be imposed by lesser forces and factors of which we often aren't aware, say, "political correctness."

Leftists often pride themselves on being "free speech absolutists." That they can say this with a straight face only shows the extent to which they are unaware of the constraints they are under.

For example, a white man from saturn could never get away with suggesting that he "couldn't approach black people with the truth because they like lies. They live lies." In fact, the other day, a black man from Florida said something similar, which resulted in a white man from Virginia revoking his blackness.

The third of Spitzer's three universal principles of justice and natural rights goes to this question of the limits to freedom: One person's (or group's) freedoms cannot impose undue burdens upon other persons (or groups).

An immediate corollary of this is that "governments should not grant freedoms to one group of individuals that will likely create undue burdens for others or threaten the safety of others."

For example, does Roe v. Wade, in granting a new constitutional right to women, result in an undue burden being placed on the condemned children who will be deprived of their lives?

Spitzer reminds us that our rights do not emanate from government but from the Creator. Is it possible that the Creator meant for us to have the intrinsic right to kill our unborn children? I suppose it's possible. But that would argue for the Gnostic idea of a renegade, evil god that rules this world. Frankly, I wouldn't trust him.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Pleasure (Not Necessarily in that Order)

We are up to the eighth of our Ten Universal Principles. This one goes to the issue of how we resolve a conflict of rights, say, my right to property and your freedom of assembly.

Spitzer calls it The Principle of the Fundamentality of Rights: The more fundamental right is the one which is necessary for the possibility of the other; where there is a conflict, we should resolve in favor of the more fundamental.

This makes sense to most Americans, but not to the Occupy Wall Street crowd, the one percent who insist that their right of assembly trumps the right to private property.

What this ultimately means is that the OWSers believe they have a constitutionally protected right to crime. Which they do. Like all Americans, they can apply for a job with the government.

You might say that there are necessary rights and sufficient rights. As in logic, a sufficient right is one "with which," whereas a necessary right is one "without which." Thus, the most Necessary Right of all would be the right without which no other rights are possible. Is there such a right? I don't know yet. Let's find out!

As we know, the Declaration of Independence mentions three such rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And of course, for the founders, "happiness" has a specific meaning. It has nothing to do with its contemporary usage, but with the idea of actualizing our potential and perfecting our human nature. You might say that it doesn't connote transient states but permanent traits.

But of those three, is there one that is more necessary?

Well, let's see. It looks to me as if Life must trump the second two, since without it, we cannot be free, much less perfect ourselves. Compared to Life, liberty and the p. of h. are reduced to sufficient rights, i.e., rights with which Life may aim the teloscope at its own celestial coonsteliation and achieve its end.

Of course, when the Declaration speaks of Life, it is not referring to plant life, or to that stuff growing in my bathtub. Rather, it obviously means human life, since back then, people weren't yet stupid enough to confuse animals and humans. Animals do not have rights. Rather, human beings have obligations toward them.

Thus, in order to understand the "right to Life," we must first define what we mean by human life -- or a human for short. After all, we're talking about living humans, not dead ones. But even there, a subtle caveat is in order, since we are talking about the totality of human lives, past, present, and future.

Which means that we have an obligation to future generations, something even liberals believe, so long as the future generation isn't unlucky enough to be in the womb. That generation has no rights. Unless the fetus in question is homosexual. Then you have no right to kill it.

We also have an obligation to the past. It seems that this is something the temperamental conservative is "born knowing," whereas the temperamental liberal almost defines himself in terms of not knowing it -- or at least not respecting it.

This is one of the virtues of studying history -- no, not the kind of ahistorical history promulgated by the tenured, but real history. For example, I recently read biographies of Washington, Hamilton, and Lincoln, and was reminded all over again how much I owe these great men. It's a debt I can never repay, but one I must always be mindful of.

I've mentioned this before, but I remember walking out of the theatre after watching Saving Private Ryan, and thinking to myself, "how can I ever repay these people," especially the ones who are buried somewhere on the coast of France? To think in these terms is a quintessentially human thing to do. To forget our obligation to the past is to render ourselves less than human.

So man qua man is entitled to the pursuit of the natural perfection of his nature. That's my opinion, anyway.

Now, when we say "right to life," we mean that we have a right to ourselves. Every human being is being-for-himself and master of his domain. But the essence of humanness -- for it is a condition without which humanness is impossible -- is our intersubjectivity, or our trinitarian nature.

As such, when we talk about the second right, liberty, there is an ineluctable complementarity to it, which essentially involves responsibilities, duties, and obligations to go along with our freedom. To talk about the latter in the absence of the former is to speak of a monster, not a human being.

Thus, we may only speak of the "yoke of liberty," for man is condemned to freedom. And we use the word "condemned" advisedly, for liberty means different things to different people and cultures. For example, in Islam, freedom doesn't mean what people think it means:

"[M]ost Americans still do not know that hurriya, Arabic for 'freedom,' connotes 'perfect slavery' or absolute submission to Allah, very nearly the opposite of the Western concept." Ironically, the primary complaint of, say, the Muslim Brotherhood, is not over the denial of (Western style) freedom, but the repression of Islam (Andrew McCarthy, National Review, 1.23.12).

McCarthy estimates that maybe 20% actually long for the type of freedom we enjoy in the west. Here again, this is one of the points where leftism and Islamism converge, i.e., the devaluing of freedom and its progeny, the individual. If there's one thing they can't stand, it's the intolerance of intolerance.

The bottom line is that on any objective or logical basis, "the right to life is more fundamental than the right to liberty and the right to property, and the right to liberty is more fundamental than the right to property."

Actually, it is difficult to disentangle those last two, but just ask yourself, would you rather go to jail (lose your liberty) or pay a fine (give up some property)? And would you rather go to prison or the gas chamber?

Note also that for the left, the pursuit of transient happiness trumps the right to life, with the result that their most necessary right is convenience or expediency. Which is why theirs is a philosophy of barbarism.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Declaration of Independence is Unconstitutional

In our review of Ten Universal Principles, we've covered three that pertain to epistemology (the true) and three that apply to ethics (the good). What about the collective good, i.e., politics?

Here again, Spitzer outlines three principles with which any normal person should be able to agree.

We might go so far as to say that this is one of the things that defines a person: the ability to arrive at abstract and universal truths. Obviously, no mere animal can do this.

Or, to paraphrase something E.F. Schumacher wrote, a human isn't just an "animal plus X"; rather, the animal is "human minus X." This is because one cannot get from contingent to universal, or accident to essence, by simply adding some measurable quantity to the former. Contingent + Contingent ≠ Universal.

But what is X?

I would suggest that X is the absolute, although it goes by many names. As Spitzer describes elsewhere, man is always and everywhere aware of "the unrestricted, the unconditional, and the perfect," not just in truth, but love, goodness, beauty, and being as such.

To put it another way, man is always in communion with O, or, in other worlds, suspended somewhere between relative and absolute. Animals are wholly in the relative; God is wholly Absolute; a proper man has one foot in the former, one in the latter. An improper man has one foot in his mouth and the other on a banana peel.

Spitzer lists some of the names of O: Creator, Pure Being, Unconditioned Existence, Being Itself, First Cause, Ground of Being.

To which we might add Unmoved Mover, Tao, Brahman, Primordial Slack, Escape from the Planet of the Clocks, Something for Nothing, SomeOne for Nobody, Same Old Ombuddhi, the Free Launch, the Error in My Favor, the Found Money, the Beautiful Genie, Barbara Eden, the Womb with a Pew, the Tippling Point, the Last Day of School, the Summa Vacation, etc.

Spitzer's first principle of justice and natural rights is: All human beings possess in themselves (by virtue of their existence alone) the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property ownership; no government gives these rights, and no government can take them away.

There. How difficult was that?

Very difficult if history is our guide and Obama is our example. For instance, did you know that Obama has the power to override your first amendment right to freedom of religion? It's true. I'm not sure who or what grants him this extra-constitutional authority, for he's never disclosed it.

Please note again that this principle is by no means "natural," for if it were, then the Declaration of Independence wouldn't have represented such an audacious haymaker right in Satan's breadbasket.

To this day, the vast majority of governments and people do not accept this principle. Indeed, any secular, materialist, or atheistic person cannot accept it, on pain of immediate self-contradiction.

For the intellectually honest liberal -- surely one must exist somewhere? -- the Declaration of Independence is unconstitutional, pure and simple.

But so too is the Constitution unconstitutional, since one of its reasons for existence is to "secure the blessings of liberty," and blessings come from God. Unless you're a liberal, in which case they emanate from the penumbra of the state.

Spitzer references the old-school Jesuit Francisco Suarez, who adds that the purpose of law -- which is the scaffold of a free government -- is "the due preservation and natural perfection or happiness of human nature."

In other words, the Law has a telos, which is the actualization of man's potential and free discovery of his end. Thus, the state has no right to limit, let alone terminate, your real personhood (which is what all leftist tyrannies do, which is to say, permit only one type of person or none at all; the same goes for speech).

Note that governments do not have "rights." Rather, they have only powers. This obviously goes for states as well, which is why it is absurd to argue for "states rights" in order to bypass the Constitution and restrict human rights.

Which is why the Confederate assouls who used "states-rights" as a pretext to restrict and deny the rights of human beings were anything but conservative. For only a leftist could believe that the state has a supernatural right to strip man of his natural rights.

To be continued....