If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject. – Ayn Rand
The political philosophy of the New Left is weak, shallow, and in its expression by some of its gurus, patently absurd. But it has won the West. It has won the academies of the pan-European word, and through them generations grow up steeped in the creed.
What is the creed, and why has it won?
It has won because it echoes a Christian teaching, to which some 8,000 generations (reckoning 4 generations per century) of Europeans have been subjected.
It is the notion that to be a good person you must pity other people and make sacrifices for them. Only if you do that, are you worthy and virtuous.
It has been drummed into every Christian from his earliest years, so even if he rebels against his religion, his class, his culture, his race, his nation, he clings to that idea as to the moral kingpin of his universe. Take it away, and the center will not hold.
The New Left was a rebellion by affluent, middle-class adolescents (some of them well advanced in middle age) against their class, culture, race, and nation, starting about twenty years after the end of the Second World War (1939-1945).
The old Left, a secular version of Christianity, won the support of middle-class intellectuals by directing pity on to the working-class. The intellectuals would, at whatever cost to themselves, lead the oppressed and exploited workers in revolution. In Russia to start with, they did just that before the end of the First World War.
By the late 1960s, the old Left, in the person of dictators and their henchmen, was actively oppressing millions, including the populations of the Eastern European countries and a part of Germany.
So the old Left lost its appeal partly because the Leftist regimes could not easily be held up as models of paradise on earth. In addition, the working-class in the West had generally become prosperous enough to be content with its lot.
The New Left found new victims to feel sorry for. It found them first abroad, in the Third World, which was not prosperous. It declared the people of Third World countries to be exploited and oppressed by European colonialism and imperialism, even if their countries were no longer colonies or parts of empires. Its concern extended to Third World descendants who lived in the First World.
Then it declared that in the First World, women were victims of male-dominated societies. Many women volunteered for the role.
Next, homosexuals were declared, and many declared themselves, victims of heterosexual-dominated First World societies.
The main thing was, New Left intellectuals found new groups to pity, and so new sources for pride in a feeling of self-worth.
After 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War – of which the West was the immediate winner – the old Left was held by Western intellectuals (whom Thomas Sowell calls “the self-annointed”) to have been the wrong Left. The New Left, they maintain, is the politically correct Left.
The strange thing about the (new or old) Left’s remedy for human suffering is this: While only the individual can feel pain and suffer distress; while no masses, no group, no class, no race as such can suffer or feel anything at all; yet the Plan of the Left to remedy suffering is always one that sacrifices individuals for the sake of the group. It is always a Plan that is implemented regardless of individual suffering. So important is the Plan itself, that any number of individuals may be persecuted, silenced, tortured, enslaved, killed for it.
There is no collective remedy for human suffering. The only prescription that works is individual freedom; leaving people alone to serve their own purposes in the manner they choose for themselves. (Nothing need prevent an individual from aiding other individuals if that’s what he wants to do.)
John Schindler, who calls himself “a traditional leftist”, writes about why he believes the New Left has won in an article titled Who Really Won the Cold War?, in The Federalist. I quote it in full.
While he makes some points I do not agree with (chiefly the idea he takes for granted that Leftism ideally serves the cause of “human freedom”), he makes many more that bear out what I have said about the old Left and the New Left, and how and why the New Left has won the Cold War. I found this surprising. But it explains why an essay by a “traditional leftist” appears in The Federalist.
He starts with a figure from the old Left who has just recently risen to prominence:
The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party has sent shockwaves far beyond Britain. There has been disbelief that the United Kingdom’s storied left-wing party opted to be led by a man so obviously contemptuous of his own society. In the wake of their recent electoral debacle under the uninspiring Ed Miliband, Labour has chosen as its leader an activist who resembles a walking leftist cliché. Corbyn’s radicalism is not in doubt. Aside from his embrace of socialist-throwback platitudes that linger on his party’s left flank on the full range of domestic issues, in adamant rejection of Blairism, Corbyn’s foreign-policy views merit attention. Openly hostile to NATO and Britain’s longstanding “special relationship” with the United States, Corbyn adds overt sympathy for numerous authoritarian regimes.
He blames the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, not the Kremlin, for the Ukraine crisis and has endorsed Russia Today, Putin’s TV propaganda network. Corbyn opposes essentially all overseas military operations by Britain and wants to parley with Bashar al-Assad, four years into Syria’s fratricide, while viewing Tehran as a partner for Middle East peace.
That said, leftist infatuation with foreign dictators is hardly new. For decades a crush on “progressive” despots safely far away from their own free country has been a staple of the Western far-Left diet. Corbyn is simply a paid-up member of his ideological tribe.
Yet Corbyn surpasses his predecessors in his fervent embrace of the social-justice message at home as well as abroad. He exudes hostility towards the Britain that made the historic Labour Party. This, after all, is a man who celebrates Hamas, Hezbollah, and related Islamist extremists as freedom-fighters, while explaining the death of Osama bin Laden was “a tragedy”.
Unsurprisingly, Corbyn enthusiastically espouses multiculturalism and says Britain should “celebrate” record numbers of immigrants entering the country — a position not popular with many voters, who see the European Union being overwhelmed by waves of migrants from Asia and Africa. Between his crush on the West’s enemies and his desire to change his country’s population, Corbyn wants to abolish Britain, not reform it.
Yet we should not regard Corbyn as a particular outlier. In truth, his cocktail of trendy “progressive” opinions, which rejects virtually everything about their own society, is commonly found among postmodern Western leftists. The only difference is that Corbyn makes no effort to mask his views. Many of his fellow travelers obscure their take, which would be considered extreme by most voters, behind moderate-sounding language.
Unlike Barack Obama, who once assured us that he did not see a Red America or a Blue America, rather a United States of America — then proceeded to govern through two terms as a highly partisan liberal Democrat — Corbyn states openly that there is only one “real” Britain, and it is deep red (which in Britain, as most of Europe, means left-wing).
Corbynism is no sudden or shocking development, but the natural culmination of 50 years of left-wing views that have shifted from a desire to reform Western democracies to an unconcealed wish to kill them, or at least change them so fundamentally that they bear little resemblance to themselves.
The Old Left, for all its sometimes horrific flaws, sought socioeconomic change to benefit average citizens, not all-out social revolution. They, in their own way, were very much a product of Western culture. After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, which split the Left worldwide into communist and social democratic groupings, the latter worked within the socioeconomic system, embracing democracy while seeking minimal deep changes to society itself.
Even the communists were hardly social revolutionaries in practice. In the initial euphoria of the revolution there was experimentation. The Soviet Union became the first society ever to allow abortion and easy divorce. In Hungary, during the short-lived red revolution at the end of World War I, Bolsheviks embraced social radicalism and introduced sex education to undermine the traditional family.
However, once firmly in power, the Soviets dropped any pretense of social revolution to mirror the politico-economic one. While religion was persecuted and mild feminism got lip service, Stalin banned abortion and the party frowned upon sexual immorality. After all, the revolution needed soldiers and workers, and who but communist women could make those?
Although the abortion ban was dropped after Stalin, Soviet social practices remained highly “heteronormative,” with homosexuality being criminal while men and women were strongly encouraged to marry and be fruitful. In its most extreme form, Nicolae Ceaușescu nearly banned abortion and contraceptives altogether in his effort to build his highly fecund socialist Romania.
Many were the Western progressives who visited the East Bloc during the Cold War, having been fed propaganda about the wondrous “new society”, only to discover that communism was actually behind the West in matters of family, sex, and gender.
While the Soviets and their clients remained mired in traditional social models, the West moved on — or forward, depending on your viewpoint. The great social revolution of the 1960s, which passed the East Bloc by because communism had insulated the countries, brought forth a New Left in the West that was interested in matters of sex, gender, and race rather than who owns the means of production.
Their “long march through the institutions” after a half-century must be judged wholly successful. While the Right has won the battle for economics across the West — calls for public ownership now seem quaint rather than threatening to capitalists — the New Left has triumphed on the social front in every arena.
In the United States, which was more resistant to the New Left agenda than many Western countries, the Obama years have witnessed the victory of social justice on all major matters of race, gender, and sexuality. Thanks to activists, politicians, and courts, Americans today are living in a very different social and sexual world than their parents and grandparents.
More than a few communists saw all this coming. Beginning in the 1970s, East Bloc secret police began to notice the impact of the New Left on their Old Left countries. Cries for radical individualism from dissidents under Western influence troubled the communists, who didn’t know what to do about this trend, which they dismissed as a bourgeois affectation.
By the 1980s, the more perceptive East Bloc security services were denouncing this Western poison, which took the form of radical feminism, sexual freedom, environmental activism, and gay rights. To traditional communists, who barely understood this new ideology, it was a scary Western import, according to the secret police. Some in Eastern Europe termed this decadence “anarcho-liberalism”, and they considered it a disease of an affluent late capitalist society burdened with excessive consumerism and leisure time.
In the end, of course, the communists lost. Lots of average people in the East Bloc wanted the freedom to own cool shoes, while some pined for the social-sexual liberties that the West offered. In many ways, the revolutions of 1989 to 1991 that changed the map and politics of Europe and beyond can be viewed with a quarter-century of hindsight as the defeat of the Old Left in the East by the New Left in the West.
We are living still with the consequences of this seismic political shift. With the sudden disappearance of the communist threat, the Right lost interest in socioeconomic fairness, a Cold War necessity to keep reds at bay on the home-front, while oddly so did the Left.
The obsessive interest of the New Left in social justice has come at the expense of economic concerns, with the result that on a wide range of topics their positions, barring lip service, differ hardly at all from the Right. Few on the Left question our basic economic arrangements; tearing down our social foundations has been their core program.
Barack Obama is the most left-wing president ever on social justice, yet he is a darling of Wall Street. Hillary Clinton, despite her belated interest in social issues, is deeply enmeshed in high finance and will never challenge it. Thus Bernie Sanders, who is an amalgam of Old and New Left, is treated like an atavism by mainstream liberals when he opens the economics can of worms.
It’s all enough to make the few traditional leftists among us want to pull their hair out. The broad alliance of cultural Left and corporate Right, which questions none of our economics, has triumphed in our politics — or at least had until Donald Trump came along to question “settled” issues such as mass, often illegal, immigration. The cultural Left favors this because it gradually dissolves the traditional culture, which they despise, while the corporate Right favors it for the cheap labor. Postmodern capitalism is at least as revolutionary a force as anything cooked up by any Marxist, as well as something any Social Justice Warrior can live with.
For more than a generation we have sorely lacked mainstream contributions from social democrats who seek to make our society better, not destroy it. There ought to be no illusions about what the cultural Left seeks: a full revolution of our society and its history, which they see as benighted by irredeemable racism, sexism, and Old Think. Their opponents are objectively evil and on the“wrong side of history,” as Obama himself has assured us, and they must disappear. “Error has no rights,” the mid-nineteenth-century Vatican formulation, has oddly been adapted by our postmodern Left.
As communists once predicted the state itself would wither away, resulting in complete human freedom and progress, the New Left expects that all traditional societal arrangements will wither away, thereby allowing full human freedom and progress. One offered discipline and order and sometimes gulags; the other offers sexual liberty, anti-racism, and iPhones.
Both these beliefs are illusions, and dangerous ones, rooted in a Marxist sense of “knowing” where history is going. The working class was once revered by leftists as uniquely virtuous, while for the New Left that vanguard role is played by minorities sexual and racial, who are allegedly untainted by the dominant group. The essential willingness to ignore inconvenient truths remains the same.
Let us give the Old Left, particularly its social democratic guise, credit that they did not seek the extirpation of our whole society and culture, but instead its transformation. What the New Left today fights for is far more revolutionary and utopian. A Europe that seeks a future where actual Europeans are a dying remnant, replaced by more vigorous immigrants, is but one manifestation of this worldview.
Leftists once heartily sang the “Internationale,” which promised “This is the final struggle” (C’est la lutte finale). Communists were quite wrong about that. History has moved on and left them behind everywhere but Cuba, North Korea, and Western universities. Yet their social-justice descendants believe the same thing, with a different favored fantasy class.
They will be proved wrong, too. The Corbyn vision has no future to offer most Britons. It would be incomprehensible to generations of Labour patriots who fought for Britain, her values, and her allies. The only question is how much damage to what is left of the West will be inflicted before the New Left is vanquished, too.
I wish I could share his optimism that the New Left will be vanquished (in the foreseeable future).
And what I miss in the essay is any reference to the human misery that “traditional leftism” of the redder kind has caused wherever it has had power to cause it. Of course, his focus is on the British Left, which was never – until now? – as red as all that.
I dislike his implication that collectivism (aka Leftism) of his favored – or any – kind is a valid recipe for improving what Leftists have called “the human condition”.
But I applaud his recognition that the New Left “seeks the extirpation of our whole society and culture”, and that he deplores that terrible aim.
If only he could also see that it is logically, even necessarily, derived from the old socialist collectivist thinking to which he remains faithful!
Jillian Becker September 18, 2015
It would be a most desirable thing, a sweet dream for all mankind, if the evil Left were to perish.
Its years of power in the West may be over. The “long march through the institutions” brought it to the peak of power – the presidency of the USA. And there it has failed. Of course.
There are signs of its demise in America, what with corrupt old Hillary’s pathetic dance, and voters waking up to Obama’s treachery, and someone (Trump) daring to defy political correctness at last.
And in Britain, the dream may be about to become true.
Steven Hayward writes at PowerLine:
More fun than watching the Hillary meltdown and the Democratic Party rage against the results of the Obama regime is to cast your gaze over to Britain, where the Labour Party seems to have forgotten the lesson of their 1983 election platform (which included a call for unilateral nuclear disarmament) which UK political junkies referred to as “the longest suicide note in history.”
Labour was crushed in that election, and having not been chastened by the recent election rout at the hands of the Conservatives and the Scottish nationalist party seems to be hankering for a repeat of 1983. By all accounts, the Labour Party is set to choose as its next leader Jeremy Corbyn, a deep-left radical who is generally regarded as completely unelectable [by Tony Blair] if he indeed heads the Labour Party into the next election.
I can’t do better than Boris Johnson, the colorful Tory mayor of London, who posted the following on his Facebook page a few days ago. Since it’s on Facebook and there’s no general link, I’ll just report the entire piece here:
It begins with a look of slow and wondering amazement – as if he hardly dares believe his luck; and then the certainty builds, millisecond by millisecond. Then the eyebrows go up even higher, and the mouth gapes and the eyes pop and the epiglottis vibrates as he lets out a long, whooping yell of sheer incredulous ecstasy.
That is how police chief Brody reacts in the last reel of Jaws when, by some fluke, he manages to shoot a bullet right into the oxygen tank in the mouth of the shark, and the ravening fish improbably explodes. That is frankly how we in the Tory party feel as we watch what is happening in the Labour movement today.
If these polls are right (and that is a pretty big if these days) then we are at that preliminary stage in Roy Scheider’s masterful portrait of the joyful police chief. We aren’t yet whooping, but our eyebrows are twitching north in incredulity. We are filled with disbelief that this can really be taking place, a distrust of the evidence of our senses.
If all these forecasts are right – the polls, the betting markets, the pundits – then that fearsome New Labour machine is in the process of some kind of violent, unexpected and hilarious disintegration. It really looks as though it might be the end for the ruthless beast that won three election victories and struck terror for so long into Tory hearts. Can it be true? Can this be happening? Are they really proposing that Her Majesty’s Opposition should be led by Jeremy Corbyn?
It is not just that he has next to zero support among mainstream Labour MPs in the Commons; it doesn’t matter that he has rebelled against the party leadership ever since he has been in the House. Indeed, it doesn’t matter that he sometimes identifies the right problems – low pay, underinvestment in infrastructure, or whatever. It is his solutions that are so out of whack with reality.
This is a man whose policies are way, way to the Left even of the last Labour leader –[Ed] Miliband – a man who in the end was resoundingly rejected by the electorate for being too Left-wing. … He would take this country back to the 1970s, or perhaps even the 1790s. He believes in higher taxes and a bigger deficit, and kowtowing to the unions, and abandoning all attempts to introduce competition or academic rigour in schools – let alone reforming welfare.
He is a Sinn Fein-loving, monarchy-baiting, Israel-bashing believer in unilateral nuclear disarmament. … Never in all his wildest dreams did he imagine that he might be leader of what has been – until this year – one of the major parties of government; and now he is having greatness thrust upon him. …
The armies of Labour rank and file … honestly seem to think that this might be the way forward. Yes, there really are a few hundred thousand people who seriously think that we should turn back the clock, take huge swathes of industry back into public ownership and massively expand the state.
The problem for Labour is that they do not represent the majority of people in this country. That is the real lesson of this campaign so far: that the mass of the Labour Party is totally out of touch with reality and common sense. How should we Tories react? … We watch with befuddlement and bewilderment that is turning all the time into a sense of exhilarating vindication: I told you they were loony.
And Alex Massie writes at The Spectator (UK):
Lately, I’ve been thinking about Willie Horton and Michael Dukakis. That’s what Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to prominence will do to a fellow. Horton, you will remember, was the convicted murderer who never returned from a weekend furlough granted to him while Dukakis was governor of Massachusetts, and subsequently kidnapped a couple in Maryland, stabbing the husband and repeatedly raping the wife.
He became the star of George Bush’s 1988 presidential election campaign. Lee Atwater, Bush’s most pugnacious strategist, had vowed to “strip the bark” from Dukakis and promised that “by the time we’re finished they’re going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakis’ running-mate”. The Willie Horton ads were ugly … but, by god, they were effective. They gave Bush a message: he wasn’t the other guy. The guy from the most liberal corner of the most liberal state in the Union, the guy who opposed the death penalty, who disapproved of … the Pledge of Allegiance, the guy who let a first-degree murderer out of jail, not once, but ten times. The same murderer, Willie Horton, who invaded a suburban home and raped a woman. The Willie Horton who said “Obviously, I am for Dukakis” (it didn’t matter that he didn’t vote just as the other nuances of the issue didn’t matter at all).
By the end of it all it was a bloody business. In the second presidential debate Dukakis was asked if he’d still oppose the death penalty for someone who raped and killed his own wife. He said he would. Game over. Dukakis never understood what hit him.
Of course it was ugly and of course it was merciless and sometimes it was unfair too. But that didn’t matter.
All his bark was stripped.
So the question is, How many Willie Hortons does Jeremy Corbyn have?
An astonishing number. Not just ISIS, not just his support for an inquiry into supposed Jewish influence on government decisions, not just the platforms he’s shared with a remarkable number of unsavoury types. Not just his suggestion Hamas is not a terrorist organisation. Not just his willingness to blame Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine on NATO. Not just his instinctive support for anyone opposed to anything proposed by either the United States or the United Kingdom. Not even just his suggestion, in 2013, that Argentina be permitted a say in the governance of the Falkland Islands. Not just these things, but all or any of them.
Most of these, frankly, should disqualify him from serious office.
And so too should his record on Northern Ireland. A vast amount of guff is now being peddled by Corbyn’s supporters on this. If we are to believe them, Corby’s willingness to talk to Sinn Fein and the IRA in the 1980s just showed how he was ahead of the game. After all, the British government eventually did so too, didn’t it?
This misses the vital point. Corbyn might have wanted ‘peace’ but he wanted it on the IRA’s terms. He wanted Sinn Fein and the IRA to win.
People genuinely interested in peace – and cross-community dialogue – back then didn’t speak at Troops Out rallies. They didn’t invite convicted IRA bombers to the House of Commons two weeks after the IRA attempted to assassinate the Prime Minister and the rest of her cabinet in Brighton. (A bomb, remember, that killed five people.) …
Even now he cannot actually bring himself to condemn IRA atrocities, weaselling out of suggestions he do so by condemning all atrocities. But normal people know that condemning IRA murders does not mean condoning Loyalist murders or, for that matter, the excesses of the RUC and British Army. Corbyn, however, still prefers to sing from the [Irish] Republican song-sheet. …
Far from being ahead of the game, Corbyn was, at best, deluded, and at worst, marginally complicit in the murderous actions of a terrorist organisation that targeted his fellow citizens.
That none of this seems to trouble his supporters says all you need to know about the mess Labour finds itself in.
If – and perhaps this is unlikely – Corbyn makes it to 2020 even the most ludicrous, improbable, Tory could beat him. Running an anti-Corbyn campaign would be the greatest turkey shoot in the history of modern British politics.
The only difficulty would be deciding which of Corbyn’s Willie Hortons it would be most effective to focus upon. Bark-stripping will never be easier.
Choosing Corbyn is worse than a blunder, it’s a crime.
Not if his leadership means the end of the British Labour Party.
We hope Corbyn is easily beatable in a general election. We hope the campaign against him will be managed as effectively as Bush’s campaign against Dukakis was managed.
We hope the British Laboour Party is a spent force. Forever.
And we hope that will be the beginning of the end of the evil Left as a force in national politics in the West.
But we are skeptical and rather pessimistic through experience, and will not be surprised if we are disappointed.
Today we have posted essay number 14, Mystic Communism: Georg Lukács, in the series by Jillian Becker titled The Darkness of This World (Part 2). (Find it under Pages in our margin.)
Here is part of it. We hope you won’t neglect the footnotes (not added here). They are laden with information.
Georg Lukács (1885-1971)
Georg Lukács was the quintessential revolutionary romantic of the twentieth century, longing to avenge his inner desolation on the civilization that nurtured him. And as an active participant in two revolutions and two despotic regimes, that is what he did.
With this essay we come to the nub of the whole series. Like all the other self-absorbed intellectuals we have talked about, fictitious and real, Georg Lukács advocated the doing of evil as the necessary means to a higher good. But unlike the others, he found himself actually in possession of the power to harm and destroy other lives, and he used it with passion and pride.
He was born in Budapest in 1885. The son of a banker ennobled by the Emperor of Austro-Hungary, he was nurtured in luxury. In his late teens he started writing professionally, reviewing plays for a small circulation periodical. He promoted the staging of avant-garde drama. He also tried to write plays, but without success. He realized and accepted that he “would never be a producer” and regretted that he “was no writer” – by which he probably meant a writer of plays, novels or poetry.
In fact he wrote prolifically. His first book, Soul and Form, appeared in 1910; a collection of essays mostly in literary criticism. Their dominant themes are art, Romanticism, longing, God, love, death, and bourgeois life. The volume was greeted with critical acclaim. No less a judge of literary merit than Thomas Mann – who was later to be the most insightful and devastating critic of Lukács’s character – praised the work as “beautiful and profound”.
One of the essays is about some German and Swiss writers who, Lukács allows, created admirable works despite being bourgeois. “The bourgeois way of life signifies only a denial of everything that is beautiful, everything the life-instinct longs for”, he states with conviction.
This was not the disdain of the aristocrat for a class beneath him. (The von Lukács family, for all its wealth and title, would in any case have been classed as haut bourgeois rather than true nobility.) Nor was it (yet) a revolutionary’s contempt for the established order. It was the romantic artist’s repudiation of the average and ordinary. Lukács deemed himself an artist because, he wrote, “the essay is an art form”, and essays such as his could be “intellectual poems”.
He concedes that a degree of genius is to be found in the works of those ordinary bourgeois men who were nevertheless writers. “This bourgeois way of life,” he wrote, “has no value whatsoever, in itself. For only the works which it brings forth confer value upon a life lived within such a framework and within such a form.”
What makes a life bourgeois, Lukács explains, is “first and foremost by the exercise of a bourgeois profession”. (One of the writers he examines earns his living as a judge, another as a clergyman, another as a government clerk. Lukács himself had no need to earn a living.) “A bourgeois profession,” he goes on, “as a form of life signifies, in the first place, the primacy of ethics in life”. These ethical men “do their duty”. The characters in the stories of one of them are “incapable of evil”; there is “no real sin” in their world. But that, to Lukács, far from being a fine thing, is a fault. The artistic achievement of these merely ethical men is, he declares, “great after its own fashion”. But he himself valued the aesthetic far above the ethical. The highest art could not be achieved by a person who binds himself to duty, but only by one who is capable of sin, intimate with beauty, and whose life-spirit longs for … the unreachable. For years his life-spirit burned with longing, seeking what it could not find; the search, and its frustration, being the tragic fate of such a soul as his.
“This longing is more than just something waiting for fulfillment, it is a fact of the soul with a value and existence of its own; an original and deep-rooted attitude towards the whole of life, a final, irreducible category of possibilities of experience,” he wrote. Such a soul “will always long for something he can never reach”.
In 1911, Lukács wrote a story titled On Poverty of Spirit. It is told in the form of a letter from a woman to the father of a young man who has killed himself. She recounts a conversation they had two days before his death, about the suicide of her sister, who had been the young man’s lover. He talks at length about his ideas and feelings, for the most part philosophically, but he does state plainly that he is guilty of her death “in the eyes of God”, in that he failed to “help” or “save” her. One can discern through the thicket of beautiful profundities, that he had refused to marry her because he wanted to dedicate himself wholly to his work as a writer. Furthermore, “she had to die so that my work could be completed – so that nothing remains in the world for me except my work.” But after all the argument about it and about, Lukacs wants us to understand that the young man did the right thing when he shot himself, because of his guilt and for other sound, if rather obscure and certainly long-winded, philosophical reasons.
On Poverty of Spirit was written after – and about – the suicide of his own lover, Irma Seidler, whom he had not married, being dedicated to his work as a writer. She had married someone else, had not been happy, and had drowned herself. The story he wrote was a confession of his guilt. But he himself did not do the right thing. It was enough that his alter ego did it in the story: the brilliant young man tragically performing an extreme act of penance in fiction rendered it unnecessary for Lukács himself to perform it. Besides, what he, the author, did was something better, higher: he gave the episode a “form” as a work of art. When Lukács spoke of “form” he meant art – always expecting the word to resonate in the minds of his cultured readers with Plato’s theory of “Forms” or “Ideals”. To him, a work of art was a revelation, or representative, or reminder of the “noumenal” reality that – so Plato and Kant have convinced Middle European intellectuals – lies behind, beyond, above this “phenomenal” world in which we live.
When he wrote Soul and Form, Lukács believed that the two worlds were irreconcilable; that a soul belonged to one or the other. (He does not say, but almost certainly knew, that in the creeds of the old Gnostic cults, the souls of the “Perfects” or “Pneumatics” belonged to a transcendent world, while the souls of the common “Hylics” were bound to the earth). His own soul – he knew – belonged to the higher, better, mystical world, the world of “essences”; the unreachable world. Here in this world, “abandoned by God”, he felt he was a stranger, an alien on earth; that humankind did not belong here; and that there was “an antagonism between the soul and the world”. That is what he meant when he asked rhetorically- cried out, so to speak, in his writing – “How can one bring essence into life? How can life become essential?” For years he searched for an answer. Morbidly pre-occupied with death, tragedy, and the condition of the human soul – above all his own – he wrote: “Man is abandoned to immanent meaninglessness.” He longed for “an extinction of selfhood” through “complete absorption of the ego into a higher being”.
Often he conjectured that the only answer was in death, and he brooded on suicide. He declares in Soul and Form: “Life is without value, without significance, and we [presumably he and all those who suffer the same spiritual anguish] would be ready to consecrate it every moment to death.”
His was an intensely religious temperament, but he was drawn neither emotionally nor intellectually to any organized religion; not to the Judaism of his ancestors, nor to Christianity – though his parents had him baptized in the Lutheran church in 1897 so that he could attend a good Lutheran school.
Karl Jaspers – later a famous philosopher – met Lukács in Heidelberg in 1913 and had no difficulty recognizing the nature of his contemporary’s mystical beliefs. He records: “Many came to Heidelberg [University] who were men of letters and potential candidates for Habilitation. Among them was Georg von Lukács from Budapest and Ernst Bloch from Mannheim. … At that time, they were Gnostics who shared their theosophical fantasies in their social circles.” It is probable that Lukács simply announced to Jaspers and all the company that he was a Gnostic. He was calling himself a “gnostic activist” in his writings years before he became in any way active in public life.
By “gnostic” he meant possessed of that intuitive knowledge which is a special gift to the specially gifted. What he intuitively knew which the ordinary (bourgeois) person could not know in the same way, was that there was a higher better world, the “intelligible” world: the “essential” world; the “noumenal” world. What he meant by “activist” is less clear. He seems to have meant that he not only thought philosophically that there is a higher better world, but that he also felt it. The activity was not muscular but emotional. It was not worked out by the intellect but immediately known by “intellectual intuition”, through which one might become “good”.
Become good? But had he not rejected ethical behavior? Certainly he had – and by “goodness” he did not mean anything so bourgeois as ethical behavior. He expounds his idea of what goodness is in Poverty of Spirit:
“Prince Myshkin [hero of Dostoyevsky’s novel The Idiot] and Alyosha [hero of Dostoyevsky”s The Brothers Karamazov] are good; what does that mean? … [T]heir knowledge [gnosis] became realized in deed, their thinking left the purely conceptual realm of knowledge, their view of mankind became an intellectual intuition: they are Gnostics of the deed.” … “Goodness is the miracle, the grace, and the salvation. The descent of the heavenly realm to the earth. … It is an abandonment of ethic. Goodness is not an ethical category; you’ll find it in no consistent ethical system. And with good reason. Ethics is general, binding, and far removed from men; it is the first – the most primitive – exaltation of mankind over the chaos of everyday life; it is man’s moving away from himself, and from his empirical condition. Goodness, however, is the return to real life, man’s true discovery of his home.” … “Goodness is madness, it is not mild, not refined, and not quietistic; it is wild, terrible, blind, and adventurous. The soul of the good one has become empty of all psychological content, of grounds and consequences; it has become a pure white slate upon which destiny inscribes its absurd command to be followed blindly, recklessly, cruelly to the end.”
In the First World War, Lukács was conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian armed forces; but he dodged the draft with the help of a certificate from Karl Jaspers (who was a qualified doctor and psychiatrist), and through the use of his father’s connections – the calling in of a favor owed to the banker by a personage close to the royal and imperial government. Duly declared unfit for active service, Lukács did his patriotic duty as a letter censor in Budapest for a few months in 1915.
It was after the war, when his country was in the abjection and disorder of defeat, that he found the answer to his spiritual search, a solution to his loneliness, despair and longing. He recognized that the “higher being” into which his “ego” might be “absorbed” was the International Communist movement. In December 1918 he joined the newly formed Hungarian Communist Party.
The commitment of his soul to the Party was no less religious for being political. He saw Communism as a cure not only for his own discontent – his despair, or loneliness, or Faust-like boredom with the contemplative life – but for everyone else’s too. He assumed that everyone suffered from the same malaise as he did. As a general social phenomenon he called it “alienation”, and declared it to be the result of capitalism and the bourgeois order. Communism, he believed, was the salvation of all mankind, provided only that each soul had faith enough and submitted utterly to its church. …
Jillian Becker July 19, 2015
Now, despite all her lies, Hillary Clinton should be believed at last. Why? Because she is proposing radical leftist policies, and she has been a radical leftist since her schooldays.
She became then, and continues to be, an ardent follower of the Marxist revolutionary, Saul Alinsky.
Barack Obama also was, and continues to be, an Alinskyite.
A Hillary Clinton presidency would be tantamount to a third Obama term.
Stanley Kurtz exposes and explains all this in the video we took from Front Page:
In higher education today, sustainability is an ideology — not a proposition to be discussed, but a baseline assumption to be taken on authority. Dissent is harshly suppressed. Scientists who question climate change, for example, are branded 21st-century heretics. In the classroom, this doctrinaire approach undermines open inquiry and rational debate — the heart of liberal education’s mission.
Campus Sustainability: Going Green is Just Part of the Plot
It’s the new religion, and it’s the new home of the entire liberal agenda.
Sustainability now permeates campuses from the classroom to the dorm, dining hall, faculty lounge, physical plant and alumni office. …
Sustainability, it turns out, is the new battle cry in an old war. It’s a wraparound concept that links the old, familiar liberal causes of environmental activism, animosity toward free markets, and a progressive take on “social justice”.
But it repackages them and lends them urgency by maintaining that embrace of its ideological agenda is imperative to avoid a looming ecological and social catastrophe. …
The campus sustainability movement’s mission is to transform our fundamental social, economic and political institutions, and to do so by manipulating, cajoling and browbeating a generation of college students into accepting the movement’s worldview and cultural norms. …
Sustainability is not an academic discipline but an ideological “lens” through which to view all of life, as the report makes clear. Today, 475 colleges in 65 states or Canadian provinces offer a total of 1,436 degree or certificate programs in sustainability, according to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. In addition, there are countless elective classes. Cornell University offers more than 400, ranging from “The Ethics of Eating” (“defend” or change your eating habits) to “Magnifying Small Spaces Studio,” where students learn to make do living in tiny spaces.
Beyond the classroom, students are pressured — often by paid student “eco-reps” — to conform the smallest details of their daily lives to the movement’s norms. This can mean tray-less cafeteria dining; shorter showers; “Meatless Mondays”; lectures on fossil fuel divestment; and films like “Food, Inc.” or “The Story of Bottled Water”, which depict the American economy as a tool of greedy, ruthless capitalists.
How is the sustainability movement playing out on Minnesota campuses? St. John’s University in Collegeville offers an example. SJU is committed to “incorporating the goals of sustainability into every aspect of life” and focusing students’ attention on the “triple bottom line: equity, economy and the environment.”
The university — which boasts of becoming “carbon-neutral” by 2035 by conserving, changing energy sources, and investing in alternative energy and carbon offsets — offers courses like “Food, Gender and Environment”; has two “eco-houses” for student living; distributes the “SJU Green Guide,” and employs 10 full-time equivalents for diversity and equity coordination.
SJU’s sustainability push begins at freshman orientation, where students use “corn utensils and recyclable plates” during meals. All freshmen and seniors take a Sustainability Literacy Assessment, so the school can measure how effectively its saturation campaign is changing students’ beliefs and attitudes. …
The University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus also bombards students with preachy exhortations on the gospel of sustainability. These include politically correct invocations about biking, transit, recycling and composting, and a “Welcome Week” during which every student has “the chance to engage with … hands-on learning activities and … to win prizes all while learning about sustainability.”
The U earns special “points” from a national sustainability rating organization because it provides “gender neutral housing” for “transgender and transitioning students” … as well as single-race housing for black men, Hmong students and other minorities.
The university’s Sustainability Studies office emphasizes the “heavy intersection” between “the issues of race relations and sustainability”. During last year’s riots in Ferguson, Mo., the office posted online resources demonstrating how “white folk can show support against police brutality,” and encouraged students to donate to “The Organization for Black Struggle” — fighting “the racist police state in Ferguson” — to help protesters with “basic needs, including food, water, gas masks and school supplies.” …
“Sustainability” is a doctrine – apodictic, unquestionable, like the doctrines of all religions:
In teaching and scientific research, it “shuts out certain questions and locks in certain answers”, as the NAS puts it. In decisionmaking about energy use and physical plant, it discourages honest analysis of costs and benefits.
In at least one university, devotees have to swear allegiance to the church and its teaching:
The movement’s “salute-and-shut-up” mind-set is reflected in the sustainability oath that students and employees at the University of Virginia are asked to take on matriculation and at graduation:
“I pledge to consider the social, economic and environmental impacts of my habits and to explore ways to foster a sustainable environment during my time here at U.Va. and beyond.”
The authoritarian impulse is also evident in the movement’s public-policy agenda. Its leaders call for vastly increasing state control over people and resources, and conferring power on government planners to distribute wealth and opportunity on the basis of skin color and socioeconomic status.
This sacrifice of individual economic, political and intellectual liberty is regarded as “the price that must be paid now to ensure the welfare of future generations”, as the NAS [National Association of Scholars] observes.
Why are students attracted to the sustainability movement?
Answer: Romanticism: the fear of reality that sustains religious faith and all utopian dreams of transforming the world nearer to the dreamer’s desire:
Its appeal springs, in large measure, from its quasi-religious nature and message. In our increasingly secular age, a focus on transcendent meaning has largely vanished from campus. Sustainability can fill the resulting vacuum by offering young people a sense of purpose and meaning.
“Like its predecessor movements that excited student passions,” sustainability “invokes moralistic duties to repair and restructure the Earth”, explains the NAS. It “rewards its followers with a sense of belonging to a community of the enlightened few, and endows the smallest actions with meaning and significance”. Recycling a plastic cup, for example, becomes “a noble sacrifice rewarded with laurels” that “contributes inexorably” toward saving the planet.
The Church of Sustainability derives many of its major themes from Judeo-Christianity. It teaches that the Earth — once a pristine Eden — is now fallen and polluted because of human sinfulness, and that an apocalyptic Judgment Day looms unless mankind repents. Absolution and salvation are possible if humans heed the enlightened saints and prophets who warn us of impending doom.
It is a fast growing religion:
As sustainability spreads beyond the campus, we increasingly see it touted in coffee shops, celebrated by major corporations and embraced by urban planners. For example, it’s the ideology driving “Thrive MSP 2040″, the Metropolitan Council’s new 30-year plan for development in the Twin Cities region, with its pervasive themes of top-down planning and rule by “experts”.
“Experts” are the new priesthood.
It’s ironic that college campuses are home base for the sustainability movement. For higher education is among the least sustainable of our contemporary institutions. Colleges and universities are caught in a death spiral of rising costs and declining benefits. Nevertheless, they obsess about recyclable napkins, solar panels and fossil-fuel divestment, and pour $3.2 billion annually — frequently without assessing effectiveness — into achieving their dreams of sustainability, according to the NAS.
Today, colleges and universities are charging students huge, unsustainable sums — often upward of $50,000 a year — for the privilege of (among other things) living out an elite, politically correct fad. Many emerge with a crushing load of debt, at a time when, as the NAS points out, more than 50 percent of recent graduates are either unemployed or underemployed.
For these young people, there’s no better guarantee of an unsustainable future.
Justice Scalia, in his dissent from the Supreme Curt’s ruling that makes same-sex marriage legal throughout the United States (see our post immediately below, Who rules America?), so despised what five of his fellow justices ruled – because they had no right to – that he wrote this :
The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.
His chief concern is that the Supreme Court was exceeding its powers and disastrously changing its proper function as a checking and balancing branch of government. Also, he declared it wrong to shut down the democratic process of debate within the states.
He firmly stated that the issue of same-sex marriage itself was not important to him.
Much as we like his dissenting opinion on the whole, on this point we disagree. While we take no position on any sexual preferences, practices, or proclivities (as long as there is no exploitation or corruption of children involved), we think that the issue of same-sex marriage is important. Its legalization throughout the United States has profound consequences.
Far from augmenting individual freedom, the ruling is radically destructive of it.
Here is an article that explains why that is the case, by Stella Morabito at The Federalist:
Same-sex marriage is a notion that contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction. I doubt many have thought this through, with the ironic exception of the elites who have been pushing the agenda the hardest.
Most people are weary of it all and going along to get along, especially since dissent has become such a socially expensive proposition, almost overnight. That in itself should deeply concern anyone who values freedom of expression.
Sure, true believers scattered across the land really do think the entire project ends with allowing same-sex couples to marry. Most persist in the blind faith that a federal ban on the standard definition of marriage will have no negative effect on family autonomy and privacy. That’s a pipe dream.
The same-sex marriage agenda is more like a magic bullet with a trajectory that will abolish civil marriage for everyone, and in doing so, will embed central planning into American life. And that, my friends, is the whole point of it. Along with Obamacare, net neutrality, and Common Core, genderless marriage is a blueprint for regulating life, particularly family life.
The Rainbow’s Arc
Unintended consequences usually come about when we are ignorant or maybe lazy about a course of action. But we usually crash land after following an arc of logic, which in this case has gone largely undiscerned and unaddressed in the public square.
Americans are in a fog about how marriage equality will lead to more central planning and thought policing. This is partly because the media and Hollywood only provide slogans to regurgitate while academics and judges push politically correct speech codes to obey.
Let’s explore the fallout of that arc of faulty logic. Included below are some 15 of the gaping holes in the “marriage equality” reasoning that Americans have not thought through.
1. The Kids Are Not Alright
Last month, six adult children from LGBT households filed amicus briefs opposing genderless marriage …
Whenever a parent is missing — for whatever reason — a child feels a primal wound. In this respect, parents belong to their children more than children belong to their parents. We ought to recognize that privileges of civil marriage should ultimately exist for children, not for adults. Children have the right to know their origins and not to be treated as commodities. Same-sex parenting — which increasingly involves human trafficking, particularly with artificial reproductive technologies (see number eight) — deliberately deprives a child of a mother and/or a father. The “marriage equality” agenda requires that such children bear that burden alone and repress their primal wound in silence.
2. Love’s Got Nothing to Do with State Interest in Marriage
“Love is love” is an empty slogan when it comes to state interest in marriage. How two people feel about one another is none of the state’s business. The state’s interest is limited to the heterosexual union because that’s the only union that produces the state’s citizenry.
And it still is, whether the union happens traditionally or in a petri dish. Each and every one of us — equally and without exception — only exists through the heterosexual union. In any free and functioning society, there is a state interest in encouraging as much as possible those who sire and bear us to be responsible for raising us.
3. The Infertility Canard
Just as the state has no litmus test for feelings or motives, it has no litmus test for any heterosexual couple who do not produce children because of intent, infertility, or age. Conflating same-sex couples with childless or elderly heterosexual couples seems to be the fallacy of composition: claiming something must be true of the whole because it’s true of some part of the whole.
Sorry, but the heterosexual union, no matter how it takes place, is the only way any citizen exists, including intersex and transgender citizens. So recognizing that union without prejudice remains the only reason for state interest in marriage.
4. Same-Sex Marriage Will Settle Nothing
It’s only the starting point for a glut of philosophically related demands for state recognition and approval of many other types of relationships, including polygamy and incest. This will mark the sudden beginning of an even more sudden end for same-sex marriage, not so much because those other types of relationships prove immoral, but because they serve as exhibits for the argument that all civil marriage — including same-sex marriage — is unsustainable and discriminatory.
5. “Marriage Equality” Opens the Path for “Unmarried Equality”
There’s a movement waiting in the wings called “unmarried equality,” which argues that all civil marriage should be abolished because it privileges married people over singles. If same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land, it will set the precedent for abolishing marriage. Far from getting the state out of the marriage business, it will invite the state to regulate all familial relationships, particularly those with children. Once the state doesn’t have to recognize your marriage, it is freer to treat your spouse and children as strangers to you.
6. Transgenderism Is a Big Part of This Package
Americans have not thought through the implications of same-sex marriage and how it is logically a big step to erasing all sex distinctions in law. If we become legally sexless, the implications are vast when it comes to how or whether the state will recognize family relationships such as mother, father, son, or daughter. There’s already a push to eliminate sex identification at birth, which could mean removing sex distinctions on birth certificates. This will seem logical because all gender identity non-discrimination laws already presume that everybody’s sex is something arbitrarily “assigned” to them at birth.
7. It’s an Open Invitation for State Licensing of Parents
If we allow the abolition of sex distinctions and civil marriage — both of which are written into the social DNA of same-sex marriage — we logically allow the state to gain greater control over deciding familial relationships. Civil marriage so far has presumed that a child born into a heterosexual union has the default right to be raised by his biological parents together. How can the presumption of maternity or paternity survive in a legal system that recognizes neither sex distinctions nor a marriage relationship?
The bellwethers are out there. MSNBC anchor Melissa Harris-Perry did a “Forward” spot for the Obama administration in which she stated that all children “belong” to communities, not families. Another friend of the Obama administration, gender legal theorist Martha Fineman, calls for state-subsidized care-giving units to replace marriage and the family.
8. Same-Sex Marriage Commodifies Children
You may think artificial reproductive technologies (ART) are fine as an avenue to obtain children for those unable to conceive. But in the context of genderless marriage, ART ramps up the potential for human trafficking. Check anonymousus.com to read testimonies of grief and loss felt by children who were conceived in this manner. Check the movies Eggsploitation and Breeders by the Center for Bioethics and Culture to hear stories of the exploitation of women in the industry. There is definitely an element of human bondage in all of this, particularly because human beings are being deliberately separated from their mothers and fathers, in a way that echoes the wounds of slavery’s separations and the search for one’s roots.
About the next section (9): we are leaving it in, although we care not a jot about any church’s teachings about anything, because freedom of religion must mean freedom to have no religion. The important points this author makes above and below are matters of reason and common sense .
9. It Sets a Head-On Collision Course with Freedom of Religion
The handwriting is on the wall. You need only reflect on how a screaming mob managed to conjure up total surrender from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence so he would reject that state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Catholic Charities is closing its adoption services where same-sex marriage laws pressure them to reject their church’s teachings about marriage and family. Owners of businesses that serve the wedding industry are being forced to either scrap their consciences or shut their doors. Anti-discrimination lawsuits against churches that don’t perform same-sex marriages will undoubtedly increase.
10. It Sets a Collision for Freedom of Speech and Press
Campus speech codes. Social punishment. Firing Brendan Eich as CEO of Mozilla for discovering his thought crime of privately believing in marriage six years prior. The utter compliance of virtually every big business in America, every media outlet, every pundit who is permitted to have a voice in the public square.
11. It’s Especially On a Collision Course with Freedom of Association
I already mentioned that abolishing civil marriage, along with legal sex distinctions, puts the government in a better position to regulate familial relationships, and probably to license parents. If we think deeply about these things, it’s hard to avoid the fact that freedom of association begins with family autonomy, a place where the state is supposed to leave you alone in your most intimate relationships. It’s hard to see how freedom of association is not affected, especially when PC speech codes have everyone constantly checking their chit chat with neighbors, co-workers, and classmates. At Marquette University, staff were told that any conversation or remarks construed to be against same-sex marriage were to be reported to Human Resources, even if just inadvertently overheard.
12. Same-Sex Kills Privacy by Growing Bureaucracy
With the erosion of family autonomy practically guaranteed by the rainbow arc of same-sex marriage, private life will tend to evaporate, just as it always does in centrally planned societies. Distrust grows because people fear punishment for expressing dissenting views. The emphasis on political correctness in the name of equality, coupled with an ever-growing bureaucracy, is a perfect environment in which to percolate a surveillance society.
13. It’s Meant to Be Global
The United States is already punishing countries and threatening to cut off aid if they don’t accept the LGBT agenda. This is especially true of developing countries, in which the whole idea is foreign to over 95 percent of the population. According to a report by Rep. Steve Stockman, corroborated by a Pentagon official, the administration held back critical intelligence from Nigeria which would have aided in locating girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. The new National Security Strategy recently released by the White House makes clear that the LGBT agenda is a global agenda. And it looks a lot like cultural imperialism of the worst kind.
14. It Promises a Monolithic Society of Conformity
In the past year or two, everyone with something to lose by opposing same-sex marriage — with the honorable exception of Eich — seems to have scuttled their principles. Five years ago, the American Psychological Association voted 157-0 — that’s right, ZERO — to support genderless marriage. For an excellent assessment of what this sort of conformity means for a free society, read Brendan O’Neill’s article in Spiked, entitled Gay Marriage: A Case Study in Conformism. The agenda was imposed by elites, entirely due to a methodical blitzkrieg of programs and enforcement dictated from above. Same-sex marriage simply could not come about without suppressing dissent in all of our institutions.
15. Expect More Severe Punishment for Dissent
If you think the bullying of businesses, churches, and individuals who don’t get with the LGBT program now is bad, it promises to get much worse once codified. Is this really the sort of society you wish to live in? Where expressing an opinion from your heart on faith [or lack of it – ed], family, marriage, relationships, love, or the very nature of reality — is routinely attacked as hate speech? Because that is exactly what you need to expect.
Justice Anthony Kennedy made it very clear in his words of the Windsor decision that any dissent on same-sex marriage was tantamount to animus. It is but a short step from presuming animus to punishing dissent.
So perhaps the biggest question hanging in the air is this: What will the authorities decide to do to dissenters?
The Left likes to believe – as Obama and Harry Reid often iterate – that it is “on the side of history”.
Is history then stuck with those stale and failed ideas of a Marxian stamp propagated by the likes of Kenneth Galbraith, John Maynard Keynes, or the bone-headed strategies of Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Priven?
Or tending back to the Dark Ages with a resurgence of Islam?
Surely not. A civilization that has put a man on the moon; has invented the computer, the internet, the driverless car; that watches the expansion of the universe; that can replace a faulty human heart with a new one; that has used liberty to become rich, knowledgable, and ever more inventive, is not going to go back to communism or the law of the seventh century desert?
Quo vadis then?
The maliciously lefty and deeply nasty New York Times notices a rise in libertarian opinion in America.
Libertarianism has been touted as the wave of America’s political future for many years, generally with more enthusiasm than evidence. But there are some tangible signs that Americans’ attitudes are in fact moving in that direction.
The NYT goes on to substantiate its claim with figures and a chart.
It defines a libertarian, fairly enough, as “someone who believes that the government is best when it governs least”.
There have been visible shifts in public opinion on a number of issues, ranging from increasing tolerance for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization on the one hand, to the skepticism over stimulus packages and the health-care overhaul on the other hand, that can be interpreted as a move toward more libertarian views.
The Tea Party movement also has some lineage in libertarian thinking. Although polls suggest that many people who participate in the Tea Party movement have quite socially conservative views, the movement spends little time emphasizing those positions, as compared with economic issues.
The perception that the Tea Party – whose chief issue is the need for fiscal responsibility – has “some lineage in libertarian thinking” is remarkable for that newspaper. It seldom removes its red blindfold long enough to replace it for a short time with blinders. For it to see something that is actually there but not obvious is a lucky moment of illumination worth a cheer or two. The author of the article is Nate Silver. Perhaps he found some cunning way to let that uncongenial revelation slip past editorial oversight.
Or perhaps he and his editors think that libertarian thinking is bad anyway. If we didn’t know that to be the case already, there’s a hint of it in what comes later.
The libertarian opinions, revealed by a CNN poll and quoted in the article, are these:
Some 63 percent of respondents said government was doing too much — up from 61 percent in 2010 and 52 percent in 2008 — while 50 percent said government should not favor any particular set of values, up from 44 percent in 2010 and 41 percent in 2008.
The author, apparently not happy to accept what the poll reveals, comments:
Whether people are as libertarian-minded in practice as they might believe themselves to be when they answer survey questions is another matter. Still, there have been visible shifts in public opinion on a number of issues, ranging from increasing tolerance for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization on the one hand …”
So a tolerance with which he has sympathy …
… to the skepticism over stimulus packages and the health-care overhaul on the other hand …
So a skepticism he condemns …
… that can be interpreted as a move toward more libertarian views.
How confusing for Nate Silver! Libertarians like some of the things he likes. But they also dislike things that he holds dear.
Well, actually, that is the case with us too.
We welcome the spread of libertarian sentiment.
We too see no reason why marijuana should be illegal.
As for same-sex marriage, we think it is an hilarious farce, but would on no account oppose it. A 12-year old boy once defined marriage for us as “a legal union between two or more things”. Why not more than two? Why not things or beasts as well as humans? If – as the argument goes – they love each other? (Well, we said it’s a farce.)
Where we are strongly with libertarians is on the issue of economic freedom. As our contributing commenter Don L often recommends: accept that the Austrian School is right and allow no government interference whatsoever in economic activity – and abolish the Fed. We also advocate keeping taxes (flat-rated) very low. So low that they cannot sustain a government that does much more than it absolutely has to do – protect the liberty of the people, from outside enemies, and domestic criminals. And enforce the law of contract.
But we too have some quarrels with libertarians.
There are those among them who outrageously condone the corruption of children, even the use of them for pornography “as long as they are willing and are paid for their services”!*
Quite a large number of libertarians are historical revisionists, and some who ridiculously and with evil intent deny that the Holocaust ever happened.**
And most libertarians want America to take no notice of what’s going on in the world beyond its borders, except for trade and vacations. As if ignorance is a protection from a world full of expansionist tyrannies and ideologies.
No. None of that.
But a libertarianism that holds individual freedom as the highest value, and knows that it is only possible under the rule of law; and at the same time is committed to preserving the best of everything America has achieved in the past, is a libertarianism that we can – and do – embrace.
* We cannot link to articles that discuss this. Access to them is “forbidden”.
**Although the article we link to here does endorse what we say that some libertarians deny the Holocaust, it goes too far in criticizing Reason and its sponsors.
Will the myth of Anthropogenic Global Warming be laid to rest?
The solar physicist Willy Soon debunked it recently. The warmists fell upon him like a swarm of hornets. Unable to disprove his science, they poured contempt on the sources of his funding, being possessed of the peculiar theory that if a scientist’s work is funded by government it is moral, but if it is funded by business and industry it is not only immoral but for that very reason invalid. The implication is that a scientist who accepts money from non-government sources is being bought, and will make dishonest findings to suit his backers. Those who accept government money, on the other hand, cannot be similarly charged because the motives of government are always pure as the waters of a mountain spring.
Now comes more evidence against the AGW theory:
This is from Breitbart, by James Delingpole:
A new scientific paper has driven yet another nail into the coffin of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming theory.
The paper – Rethinking the lower bound on aerosol radiative forcing by Bjorn Stevens of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, published in the American Meteorological Society journal – finds that the effects of aerosols on climate are much smaller than those in almost all the computer models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Aerosols are the minute particles added to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels (as well as by non-anthropogenic sources, like volcanoes). The reason they are important is that they are so often cited by alarmists to excuse the awkward fact that the world has stubbornly failed to warm at the disastrous rate they predicted it would.
Apparently – or so the excuse goes – these aerosols are masking the true extent of runaway climate change by cancelling out the effects of man-made CO2.
Here, for example, is a NASA expert in 2009:
Using climate models, we estimate that aerosols have masked about 50 percent of the warming that would otherwise have been caused by greenhouse gases trapping heat near the surface of the Earth
Here is a report on a study from another institution – NOAA – with a long track record of ramping up the alarmist cause:
A new study led by the U.S, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that tiny particles that make their way all the way up into the stratosphere may be offsetting a global rise in temperatures due to carbon emissions.
Aerosols are often used to explain the lack of “global warming” in the cooling period between 1940 and 1970 (when the growth in industrialisation and all that extra man-made CO2 ought to have begun taking effect).
They have also been used in [a] 2011 paper – whose co-authors include one Michael Mann, which gives you an idea of its quality and reliability – for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS). It claims that the reason there has been a “hiatus” in global warming since 1998 is because of the effect of aerosol emissions. This got one of the BBC’s resident alarmists Richard Black very excited. He wrote it up in an article entitled Global warming lull down to China’s coal growth. (Oddly he forgot to surround it with scare quotes, or finish it with a question mark.)
The new Stevens paper has been described as a “game-changer” by one expert in the field, Nic Lewis.
According to the IPCC’s models, the effect of aerosols on climate could be as much as 4.5 degrees C. But Stevens paper suggests that this is a considerable overestimate and that the reduction they effect on temperature cannot be more than 1.8 degrees C.
This pretty much kills the alarmists’ “the aerosols ate my homework” excuse stone dead. If the cooling effects of aerosols turn out to be much smaller than the IPCC thinks, then what this means is that the rise in global temperatures attributable to man-made CO2 is also much smaller than the alarmists’ computer models acknowledge.
As Andrew Montford comments here:
Jim Hansen, Bob Ward, Kevin Trenberth, Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt, your climate alarmism just took one helluva beating.
So will the AGW theory be abandoned?
In the light of Bjorn Stevens’s new research, coming on top of other accumulating evidence such as Willy Soon’s, the answer should be yes.
But we think the right answer is, sadly, no. Because it was never expounded just to convince us that we were dangerously (and wickedly) over-heating the planet; it was always to give the would-be controllers of our lives – governments, and projected world-government – an excuse to extend their power over us.
The Daily Caller reports:
The United Nation’s climate chief says that reordering the global economy to fight climate change is the “most difficult” task the international body has ever undertaken.
“This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history,” Christiana Figueres, who heads up the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, told reporters.
“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for the, at least, 150 years, since the industrial revolution,” Figueres said.
So there you have it.
Terrorism is a method.
It is not an ideology, or a movement, or a conspiracy, or a policy, or an aim.
Its users might be an organized movement that conspires to adopt the tactic; and a state might use it against its own people as a matter of policy. But terrorism itself is simply a method. A tactic.
Terrorism is not hard to define:
Terrorism is the systematic use of violence to create public fear.
As a method of intimidation it is as old as mankind and will surely continue to be used as long as our species continues to exist.
It has been used for various types of causes, such as religious (eg. the Catholic Church with its Inquisition; Protestant powers such as Calvin in Geneva, the Puritans at Salem); commercial and criminal (eg. the Mafia); and political, by rebels, and revolutionaries, and adherents of diverse ideologies.
Whether terrorism is used by a small group like the Weather Underground or the Baader-Meinhof gang; a large group like the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Northern Ireland and England, or Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) in Peru; or a state like the Third Reich or the USSR, it is a method of instilling fear into many more people than it can directly attack so they or their rulers will do or not do what the terrorists want done or not done. That is why the attacks need to be random. Though you have done nothing personally to affront the terrorist organization doing its evil deeds in your corner of the world, you must be made to understand that their bomb could be in the bus you take to work or your child takes to school, and so could as easily kill or maim you or your child as anyone else.
The mentality behind terrorism is similar to the mentality of the racist. The users of the method target individuals indiscriminately because they “belong” to a group or class that the terrorists designate their enemy. You are a member of a political party that they oppose. You have a nationality they don’t like. You are a capitalist. You work for the “military-industrial complex”. Or you are one person in a national collective under a despotism that would keep you obedient.
Terrorism punishes the innocent. If a tyrant is killed, it is not terrorism; if his infant children are killed as “collateral damage”, it is.
Can the use of terrorism ever be justified? It is the moral question every terrorist needs to answer for himself. He alone makes the decision to do the deed. It is no excuse that he is obeying others. He – or she – is still responsible even under threat. The exception of course is when – for instance – a person is forcibly strapped into a suicide vest, deposited in a public place, and is detonated without taking any action himself. Islamic terrorists use children in this way.
An argument is sometimes put forward by persons – usually academics – who want, for various and usually disgraceful reasons, to discourage action against this or that terrorist organization, that the number of people who are hurt or killed in a specified period by terrorist action is smaller than the number killed by (eg) car accidents in the same time span. But an accident is by definition nobody’s fault. Because terrorism is a moral question, depending on people making decisions and implementing them, such comparisons are not only invalid but invidious.
What of war? Does that not harm and kill many innocents? Of course. But when war happens, all normal constraints are abandoned and the moral questions are changed. Was Churchill right to have Dresden bombed flat? Was America right to drop nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima? If more people were saved by these acts which brought war to an end than were hurt and killed by the actions themselves, were they good or were they evil?
The morality of war is open to argument. But clear acts of terrorism can be carried out within wars, and need to be unequivocally condemned. For instance, in World War Two, the Germans massacred all the inhabitants (642), men women and children, of the village of Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10, 1944, in reprisal for one of their officers being captured and held there. It was plainly a “war crime”, and plainly an act of terrorism.
What – it is sometimes asked – of random violence used against a conqueror occupying your country in war? Is that terrorism? And even if it is, is it not justified? Not an easy question to answer. The best one can do to decide the morality of (eg) blowing up a train that is bringing enemy reinforcements into your country but also bearing some of your fellow countrymen, is to ask whether the action would make most of your fellow countrymen feel more safe or more threatened. If the answer is “more safe”, it could be argued that the act was therefore justified. But much depends on what an action is, whom it kills and in what way; on the circumstances of the occupation, and on whether it is oppressive or comparatively benign. In each case, judgment is needed.
Communism and Islam are inherently terrorist ideologies.
Jillian Becker March 18, 2015
(Jillian Becker was director of the London-based Institute for the Study of Terrorism 1985-1990)
Where we part company with Libertarians is over the hugely important matter of defense.
Like them, we want a free market economy, small government and low taxes. And we too hold liberty to be a supreme value.
The article we quote below is by John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart of the libertarian Cato Institute in America. It was published by The Guardian in Britain on February 24, 2015.
Libertarians and The Guardian are not on the same side. Libertarians are for the freedom of the individual. The Guardian is for socialism, statism, big controlling government interfering in every individual life.
But The Guardian is also pro-Islam. And that is what brings these Libertarians and the collectivists of The Guardian together. Not that the Libertarians are pro-Islam. We have observed that, as a group, they know nothing about Islam and don’t want to. They obstinately refuse to learn what’s going on politically in the wider world, believe Americans have no need to take notice of foreign affairs, and should never go to war unless America itself is attacked. To them, the aggression of 9/11 did not qualify as a war-provoking attack. That’s why they want the (badly named but ever more urgently needed) “War on Terror” to be stopped. And that’s what got these two into the columns of The Guardian.
Terrorism Poses No Existential Threat to America. We Must Stop Pretending Otherwise
One of the most unchallenged, zany assertions during the war on terror has been that terrorists present an existential threat to the United States, the modern state and civilization itself. This is important because the overwrought expression, if accepted as valid, could close off evaluation of security efforts. For example, no defense of civil liberties is likely to be terribly effective if people believe the threat from terrorism to be existential.
At long last, President Barack Obama and other top officials are beginning to back away from this absurd position. This much overdue development may not last, however. Extravagant alarmism about the pathological but self-destructiveIslamic State (ISIS) in areas of Syria and Iraq may cause us to backslide.
The notion that international terrorism presents an existential threat was spawned by the traumatized in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Rudy Giuliani, mayor of New York at the time, recalls that all “security experts” expected “dozens and dozens and multiyears of attacks like this” and, in her book The Dark Side, Jane Mayer observed that “the only certainty shared by virtually the entire American intelligence community” was that “a second wave of even more devastating terrorist attacks on America was imminent”. Duly terrified, US intelligence services were soon imaginatively calculating the number of trained al-Qaida operatives in the United States to be between 2,000 and 5,000.
Also compelling was the extrapolation that, because the 9/11 terrorists were successful with box-cutters, they might well be able to turn out nuclear weapons.
Who on earth said such a silly thing? What was said is that jihadists might become nuclear armed. And in fact the Islamic theocracy of Iran is becoming a nuclear-armed power, and repetitively threatens Israel, America and Europe with destruction. Why don’t these writers know that? Or do they know it and choose to ignore it?
Soon it was being authoritatively proclaimed that atomic terrorists could “destroy civilization as we know it” and that it was likely that a nuclear terrorist attack on the United States would transpire by 2014.
Many a terrorist attack that could have been devastating (how devastating it’s impossible to know) has been averted because sensible people – which category does not include Obama – have worked hard to prevent them, and so far have largely succeeded.
But no, okay, it is not “terrorism” that threatens Western civilization, it is Islam, using the method of terrorism to an unprecedented extent.
“Atomic terrorists” – namely Iran – could destroy civilization as we know it. Especially as atomic war against us will be accompanied by the Islamization of Europe – which these authors are above noticing.
The sneering scorn they pour on the menace makes their arguments all the more inapposite.
No atomic terrorists have yet appeared (al-Qaida’s entire budget in 2001 for research on all weapons of mass destruction totaled less than $4,000), and intelligence has been far better at counting al-Qaida operatives in the country than at finding them.
But the notion that terrorism presents an existential threat has played on. By 2008, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff declared it to be a “significant existential” one – carefully differentiating it, apparently, from all those insignificant existential threats Americans have faced in the past. The bizarre formulation survived into the Obama years. In October 2009, Bruce Riedel, an advisor to the new administration, publicly maintained the al-Qaida threat to the country to be existential.
In 2014, however, things began to change.
In a speech at Harvard in October, Vice President Joseph Biden …
Of all people! A man no one in their right mind would look to for insight, accurate analysis, or the most basic comprehension of what’s happening even if it’s going on under his own nose …
… offered the thought that “we face no existential threat — none — to our way of life or our ultimate security”. After a decent interval of three months, President Barack Obama reiterated this point at a press conference, and then expanded in an interview a few weeks later, adding that the US should not “provide a victory to these terrorist networks by over-inflating their importance and suggesting in some fashion that they are an existential threat to the United States or the world order”. Later, his national security advisor, Susan Rice, echoed the point in a formal speech.
Obama also said that al-Qaida was defeated, when in truth it has grown bigger and has spread further. Obama constantly signals that he loves Islam, so he would say those things. Libertarians ought not to be unaware of that.
And for them to quote Susan Rice, the notorious lie-retailer of the Obama administration, is absurdly ingenuous.
It is astounding that these utterances … appear to mark the first time any officials in the United States have had the notion and the courage to say so in public.
Whether that development, at once remarkable and absurdly belated, will have some consequence, or even continue, remains to be seen. Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham have insisted for months that ISIS presents an existential threat to the United States. …
And General Michael Flynn, recently retired as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, has been insisting that the terrorist enemy is “committed to the destruction of freedom and the American way of life” while seeking “world domination, achieved through violence and bloodshed”. It was reported that his remarks provoked nods of approval, cheers and “ultimately a standing ovation” from the audience.
Thus even the most modest imaginable effort to rein in the war on terror hyperbole may fail to gel.
“Rein in the war on terror hyperbole”? They mean, of course, do nothing about the jihad.
What is most remarkable about the article is that these two believers in the value of individual freedom ignore the tragedy of individuals who have been captured, tortured, and killed by terrorists inside America and in the Middle East – and we are speaking specifically of Islamic terrorists, Islam being the ideology that is posing a serious threat to the Western world and its civilization. They seem to have neither an instinctive nor a rational desire for justice. They consider only the collective of the nation in their assessment of existential danger. Of course the USA is not immediately threatened with destruction as a nation by Islam with its favored method of terrorism.
It is, however, being slowly destroyed by Leftist, statist, collectivist, redistributionist government which puts no value on civil liberties. And jihadis iterate often enough that America is their target, that they will replace the Constitution with sharia law, and that Americans will be given the choice of conversion, subservience, or death. So when Europe, much of Africa, all the Middle East, and a very large part of the Far East are Islamic; and when the US has abandoned its own Constitution, disarmed its citizenry, and allowed the population to be cowed by threats and demonstrations of horrific murders, how long will it take for the jihadis’ aim to be achieved?
Perhaps Mueller and Stewart seem to feel that they themselves are somehow immune from terrorist attacks, such as the one people experienced in Boston when bombs exploded in their midst as they watched a marathon race.
And perhaps an unwillingness to consider such a possibility can explain why they are not concerned about the deaths by terrorist violence of thousands of individuals.
No wonder The Guardian liked their article.