Good, bad, and abominable cultures 37

The assertion, frequently heard, that “all cultures are equal” is sheer nonsense. Are they equal in achievement? Obviously not. Since all the races (or correctly speaking sub-races, humankind being one race, members of every sub-race able to reproduce with members of all other sub-races) are equally old, there is no such thing as a culture that hasn’t had enough time to develop as others have. But while some are developed to the point that they can send a man to walk on the moon, there are some that never invented the wheel. There has been the same amount of time for the development of both the space-exploring culture and the wheel-less culture, and in that time-span one developed much further than the other. It is so plain a fact it doesn’t really need saying. But there are those who will cry “Racism!” – the sin of sins to Leftists – if it is said.

Well, we are saying it.

And it is not “racism”. Generalizations can be made about cultures. But the generalization cannot be applied to individuals. An individual whose parents moved away from an illiterate culture can become (say) a professor in an American university, given the necessary education.

Not only are there inferior cultures, there are positively bad cultures that the human race would be better without. They practice abominable customs and are unworthy of tolerance. It’s absurd to want the worst of them to be preserved as scientists want to preserve species. (Some scientists protested against the last of the small-pox virus being destroyed!)

Eminently qualifying for destruction are such cultural customs as (to give just a few examples) those that: Burn widows on the funeral pyres of their dead husbands. Kill girls for “dishonoring” their families by their choice of husband. Kill women as a punishment for having been raped, and stone people to death – as Islamic law prescribes. Bury people alive – as the Islamic State (ISIS) does. Mutilate women’s genitals and flatten their breasts with hot rocks, as is done routinely in parts of Africa (and by Africans in Britain). Murder children for their organs to make the disgusting “remedies” of South African witchdoctors. Own slaves. Judicially punish a man who has wronged another by ordering that his sister be raped by his victim, as happens in India and Pakistan. (See here, here, and here.)

Many such abominations are sanctioned or commanded by religion, or are essential aspects of an ideology. They are rooted so deep in this or that culture that they are hard to eradicate.

After the British had put an end to the custom of widow-burning among certain castes in India, widows were instead kept imprisoned in their houses for the rest of their lives. If they were to live on, they had still to be kept from ever re-marrying. Rudyard Kipling wrote about them. A kind husband, he found, would leave instructions that his widow be allowed a small peephole through which she could glimpse the outside world.

Western feminists refuse to condemn such practices on the grounds that no culture is inferior. One argument often produced by them and other Leftists to explain why a culture that does evil things should not be called evil is, “We do evil things too”.

No we don’t. Not by law. Americans once owned slaves, but not now. If the same standards are applied, ours is a good culture. (Though it wouldn’t be if the Socialist Democratic Party were to get complete control of the federal government.)

However, within our culture there are differences which, measured by different, higher standards, are to be judged better and worse.

Professor Amy Wax of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and Professor Larry Alexander of the University of San Diego wrote an article, in August 2017, discussing good and bad culture within America. (They were furiously condemned for it by fellow academics, accused of “racism” of course, though there was not the least trace of race prejudice in it.)

They wrote:

Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era lows. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more are raised by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.

The causes of these phenomena are multiple and complex, but implicated in these and other maladies is the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture.

That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

These basic cultural precepts reigned from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. They could be followed by people of all backgrounds and abilities, especially when backed up by almost universal endorsement. Adherence was a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains, and social coherence of that period.

Did everyone abide by those precepts? Of course not. There are always rebels — and hypocrites, those who publicly endorse the norms but transgress them. But as the saying goes, hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue. Even the deviants rarely disavowed or openly disparaged the prevailing expectations.

Was everything perfect during the period of bourgeois cultural hegemony? Of course not. There was racial discrimination, limited sex roles, and pockets of anti-Semitism. However, steady improvements for women and minorities were underway even when bourgeois norms reigned. Banishing discrimination and expanding opportunity does not require the demise of bourgeois culture. Quite the opposite: The loss of bourgeois habits seriously impeded the progress of disadvantaged groups. That trend also accelerated the destructive consequences of the growing welfare state, which, by taking over financial support of families, reduced the need for two parents. A strong pro-marriage norm might have blunted this effect. Instead, the number of single parents grew astronomically, producing children more prone to academic failure, addiction, idleness, crime, and poverty.

This cultural script began to break down in the late 1960s. A combination of factors — prosperity, the Pill [birth control], the expansion of higher education, and the doubts surrounding the Vietnam War — encouraged an antiauthoritarian, adolescent, wish-fulfillment ideal — sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll — that was unworthy of, and unworkable for, a mature, prosperous adult society. This era saw the beginnings of an identity politics that inverted the color-blind aspirations of civil rights leaders like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into an obsession with race, ethnicity, gender, and now sexual preference.

The writers do not mention “the New Left” with its agenda of a “long march through the institutions”, but it belongs among the causes of the cultural breakdown. 

And those adults with influence over the culture, for a variety of reasons, abandoned their role as advocates for respectability, civility, and adult values. As a consequence, the counterculture made great headway, particularly among the chattering classes — academics, writers, artists, actors, and journalists — who relished liberation from conventional constraints and turned condemning America and reviewing its crimes into a class marker of virtue and sophistication.

All cultures are not equal. Or at least they are not equal in preparing people to be productive in an advanced economy. The culture of the Plains Indians was designed for nomadic hunters, but is not suited to a First World, 21st-century environment. Nor are the single-parent, antisocial habits, prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-“acting white” rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants. These cultural orientations are not only incompatible with what an advanced free-market economy and a viable democracy require, they are also destructive of a sense of solidarity and reciprocity among Americans. If the bourgeois cultural script — which the upper-middle class still largely observes but now hesitates to preach — cannot be widely reinstated, things are likely to get worse for us all.

Would the re-embrace of bourgeois norms by the ordinary Americans who have abandoned them significantly reduce society’s pathologies? There is every reason to believe so. Among those who currently follow the old precepts, regardless of their level of education or affluence, the homicide rate is tiny, opioid addiction is rare, and poverty rates are low. Those who live by the simple rules that most people used to accept may not end up rich or hold elite jobs, but their lives will go far better than they do now. All schools and neighborhoods would be much safer and more pleasant. More students from all walks of life would be educated for constructive employment and democratic participation.

But restoring the hegemony of the bourgeois culture will require the arbiters of culture — the academics, media, and Hollywood — to relinquish multicultural grievance polemics and the preening pretense of defending the downtrodden. Instead of bashing the bourgeois culture, they should return to the 1950s posture of celebrating it.

Is that likely to happen? We’re inclined to say sadly, no.

Posted under Africa, Arab States, Asia, Ethics, Feminism, India, Islam, Leftism, Slavery, tyranny by Jillian Becker on Sunday, February 10, 2019

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Chief Inspector Remorse 10

Should the US be the world’s policeman?

Can the US be the world’s policeman?

Does the US want to be the world’s policeman?

This is Dennis Prager’s opinion (in part – read it all here):

In his speech to the nation on Syria last week, the president twice emphasized that America is not the “world’s policeman.” According to polls, most Americans agree.

Unfortunately, however, relinquishing this role assures catastrophe, both for the world and for America.

This is easy to demonstrate. Imagine that because of the great financial and human price the mayors and city councils of some major American cities decide that they no longer want to police their cities. Individuals simply have to protect themselves.

We all know what would happen: The worst human beings would terrorize these cities, and the loss of life would be far greater than before. But chaos would not long reign. The strongest thugs and their organizations would take over the cities.

That is what will happen to the world if the United States decides — because of the financial expense and the loss of American troops — not to be the “world’s policeman.” (I put the term in quotes because America never policed the whole world, nor is it feasible to do so. But America’s strength and willingness to use it has been the greatest force in history for liberty and world stability.)

This will be followed by the violent death of more and more innocent people around the world, economic disruption and social chaos. Eventually the strongest — meaning the most vile individuals and groups — will dominate within countries and over entire regions.

There are two reasons why this would happen.

First, the world needs a policeman. The world in no way differs from cities needing police. Those who oppose America being the world’s policeman need at least to acknowledge that the world needs one.

Which leads to the second reason: If that policeman is not the United States, who or what will be?

At the present moment, these are the only possible alternatives to the United States:

a) No one

b) Russia

c) China

d) Iran

e) The United Nations

The first alternative would lead, as noted, to what having no police in an American city would lead to. Since at this time no country can do what America has done in policing the world, the world would likely divide into regions controlled in each case by tyrannical regimes or groups. China would dominate Asia; Russia would re-dominate the countries that were part of the former Soviet Union and the East European countries; Russia and a nuclear Iran would dominate the Middle East; and anti-American dictators would take over many Latin American countries.

In other words, a) would lead to b), c) and d).

Would that disturb those Americans — from the left to the libertarian right — who want America to stop being the “world’s policeman”? …

It is difficult to imagine anyone arguing that the United Nations would or could substitute for the United States in maintaining peace or liberty anywhere. The U.N. is only what the General Assembly, which is dominated by the Islamic nations, and the Security Council, which is morally paralyzed by Chinese and Russian vetoes, want it to be. …

Americans are retreating into isolationism largely because of what they perceive as wasted American lives and treasure in Iraq and Afghanistan. But this conclusion is unwarranted.

It is leaving – not fighting in – Iraq and Afghanistan that will lead to failures in those countries.

American troops around the globe are the greatest preservers of liberty and peace in the world. …

We have no choice but to be the world’s policeman. And we will eventually realize this – but only after we, and the world, pay a terrible price.

In the meantime, the American defeat by Russia, Syria and Iran last week means that the country that has been, for one hundred years, the greatest force for good, is perilously close to abandoning that role.

What is a police force? It is the strong arm of government.

Government by impersonal law is the best system. Only under the rule of law is individual freedom possible. The protection of freedom is not just the first but the only proper duty of an elected government.

A government requires an army to protect the nation as a whole from foreign attack, and police to protect individuals within its jurisdiction.   

For the US to police the world, it would need to be the world’s government.  

Who would argue for that?

How would an American global government be elected? It could hardly be by democratic means – every adult in the world having a vote and the right to stand as a candidate for representational office. It would no longer be American.

The only way America could be the world’s government is by imperial might. The US would have to acquire the rest of the world as its empire.

For all that America was mockingly euphemized as “imperialism”  by its Communist enemies, the historical fact is that the United States resisted acquiring an empire even when it would have been much in its own interests to do so – and an improvement in Dennis Prager’s terms of liberty and peace for the populations that would have come under its rule. (We’ll leave the little anomaly of Guam out of this discussion.) If it had used military might to regain American-owned oil fields in the Middle East in the 1970s when they were stolen (“nationalized”)  by the ruling despots, and had thereafter governed the territories from Washington, D.C, it would not only have been good for Americans but also for the tyrannized peoples of the several states.

America would not do that. What would it do? Expend blood and treasure to keep oppression or Communist imperialism at bay in Korea, in Vietnam, in Yugoslavia, in Iraq, in Afghanistan  – do Americans now think those wars were worth it? Isn’t there considerable remorse over ever having fought them at all?

And is it really the duty of Americans to wipe away the tears of nations?

Of the 196 self-governing countries in the world, how many do not have oppressed minorities, or subjugate women, or kill homosexuals, or keep slaves, or experience famine? How many whose populations are not chronically afflicted with malaria, AIDS, ebola, cholera …? The world is full of misery. Will America transform it all to happiness like Disney fairies with sparkling wands?

Will America free the Chinese and the Cubans from Communism? Turn that vast concentration camp North Korea into a second Texas?

No. The US government (under Obama) wouldn’t even support the Iranians when they rose against the tyrannical mullahs.

In the 19th century it was Britain who tried to fulfill the role of the world’s policeman. Remember how Kipling put it in (shudder now) The White Man’s Burden? Here’s part of it:

Take up the White Man’s burden–

The savage wars of peace–

Fill full the mouth of Famine

And bid the sickness cease;

And when your goal is nearest

The end for others sought,

Watch sloth and heathen Folly

Bring all your hopes to nought.

 

Take up the White Man’s burden–

No tawdry rule of kings,

But toil of serf and sweeper–

The tale of common things.

The ports ye shall not enter,

The roads ye shall not tread,

Go mark them with your living,

And mark them with your dead.

 

Take up the White Man’s burden–

And reap his old reward:

The blame of those ye better,

The hate of those ye guard–

The cry of hosts ye humour

(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:–

“Why brought he us from bondage,

Our loved Egyptian night?”

Does Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, who wants America to be bound by the Responsibility to Protect Resolution of the UN (for which was not she the inspiring muse?), realize that that is what she is asking her country to do? A politically correct Leftess like her? If she doesn’t, it’s time she did.

Does Dennis Prager (who is usually more enlightened than Samantha) realize it?  Seems not. But we hope he will.

Help denied 1

This poem, titled Mesopotamia 1917, by Rudyard Kipling, is quoted by Scott Johnson at PowerLine in connection with the tragedy of Benghazi, where Americans were left to die. We share Scott Johnson’s feeling for the aptness of it.

They shall not return to us, the resolute, the young,

The eager and whole-hearted whom we gave:

But the men who left them thriftily to die in their own dung,

Shall they come with years and honour to the grave?

 

They shall not return to us; the strong men coldly slain

In sight of help denied from day to day:

But the men who edged their agonies and chid them in their pain,

Are they too strong and wise to put away?

 

Our dead shall not return to us while Day and Night divide–

Never while the bars of sunset hold.

But the idle-minded overlings who quibbled while they died,

Shall they thrust for high employments as of old?

 

Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour:

When the storm is ended shall we find

How softly but how swiftly they have sidled back to power

By the favour and contrivance of their kind?

 

Even while they soothe us, while they promise large amends,

Even while they make a show of fear,

Do they call upon their debtors, and take counsel with their friends,

To conform and re-establish each career?

 

Their lives cannot repay us – their death could not undo–

The shame that they have laid upon our race.

But the slothfulness that wasted and the arrogance that slew,

Shall we leave it unabated in its place?

The shipwreck of civilization 8

Everything possible should be done to save children and their mothers from a sinking ship.

Feminists though, if they’re to be true to their professed principles … Pause. True to their professed principles? Principles such as freedom from male oppression? Never. Vide their indifference to the subjugation of Muslim women. So let’s say, their clamor… If they’re to be true to their clamor for equality with men, feminists on board a sinking ship insufficiently supplied with lifeboats should be willing to go down with it.

This post is about the sinking of a particular ship, about the captain and most of his men pushing past women and children to save themselves, and how the event is a metaphor for the sinking of Europe – and of  civilization. We view feminism, along with all leftist egalitarian movements, as a cause of our civilization’s decline.   

On what happened when the cruise-ship Costa Concordia hit the rocks and sank, Mark Steyn writes:

There was no orderly evacuation from the Costa Concordia, just chaos punctuated by individual acts of courage from, for example, an Hungarian violinist in the orchestra and a ship’s entertainer in a Spiderman costume, both of whom helped children to safety, the former paying with his life.

The miserable Captain Schettino, by contrast, is presently under house arrest, charged with manslaughter and abandoning ship. His explanation is that, when the vessel listed suddenly, he fell into a lifeboat and was unable to climb out. Seriously. Could happen to anyone, slippery decks and all that. Next thing you know, he was safe on shore, leaving his passengers all at sea. On the other hand, the audio of him being ordered by Coast Guard officers to return to his ship and refusing to do so is not helpful to this version of events.

In the centenary year of the most famous of all maritime disasters, we would do well to consider honestly the tale of the Titanic.

On the Titanic, the male passengers gave their lives for the women and would never have considered doing otherwise. On the Costa Concordia, in the words of a female passenger, “There were big men, crew members, pushing their way past us to get into the lifeboat.” …

The principle that when a ship sinks the women and children should be first in the lifeboats was established, Steyn says, on February 26, 1852, when –

HMS Birkenhead was wrecked off the coast of Cape Town while transporting British troops to South Africa. There were, as on the Titanic, insufficient lifeboats. The women and children were escorted to the ship’s cutter. The men mustered on deck. They were ordered not to dive in the water lest they risk endangering the ladies and their young charges by swamping the boats. So they stood stiffly at their posts as the ship disappeared beneath the waves. As Kipling wrote:

“We’re most of us liars, we’re ‘arf of us thieves, an’ the rest of us rank as can be,

But once in a while we can finish in style (which I ‘ope it won’t ‘appen to me).”

Sixty years later, the men on the Titanic – liars and thieves, wealthy and powerful, poor and obscure – found themselves called upon to “finish in style,” and did so. They had barely an hour to kiss their wives goodbye, watch them clamber into the lifeboats, and sail off without them. They, too, ‘ope’d it wouldn’t ‘appen to them, but, when it did, the social norm of “women and children first” held up under pressure and across all classes.

Today there is no social norm, so it’s every man for himself – operative word “man,” although not many of the chaps on the Titanic would recognize those on the Costa Concordia as “men.” From a grandmother on the latter: “I was standing by the lifeboats and men, big men, were banging into me and knocking the girls.”

Whenever I write about these subjects, I receive a lot of mail from men along the lines of this correspondent:

“The feminists wanted a gender-neutral society. Now they’ve got it. So what are you complaining about?”

We think that’s a pertinent and cogent argument – though a distressing one, since we’re not all feminists.

And it doesn’t exonerate the men.

So the manly virtues (if you’ll forgive a quaint phrase) shrivel away to the so-called “man caves,” those sad little redoubts of beer and premium cable sports networks.

We are beyond social norms these days. A woman can be a soldier. A man can be a woman. A 7-year-old cross-dressing boy can join the Girl Scouts in Colorado because he “identifies” as a girl. It all adds to life’s rich tapestry, no doubt. But I can’t help wondering, when the ship hits the fan, how many of us will still be willing to identify as a man. …

Now to the nub:

The Costa Concordia isn’t merely a metaphor for EU collapse but – here it comes down the slipway – the fragility of civilization. Like every ship, the Concordia had its emergency procedures – the lifeboat drills that all crew and passengers are obliged to go through before sailing. As with the security theater at airports, the rituals give the illusion of security – and then, as the ship tips and the lights fail and the icy black water rushes in, we discover we’re on our own: from dancing and dining, showgirls and saunas, to the inky depths in a matter of moments.

Go, go, go like a soldier 1

In an interesting article at Canada Free Press, Philip V. Brennan not only defends (Chairman of the RNC ) Michael Steele’s view of the impossibility of US victory in the Afghanistan war, but gives a fascinating account of how the British found it impossible to win a war there in the 19th century.

Speaking of the war in Afghanistan and President Obama’s involvement in that struggle Steele let loose with this warning about U.S. Involvement in that strange and hostile region. (I won’t call Afghanistan a country because this collection of fiercely independent tribal areas is anything but what qualifies as a nation state.)

[Steele observed] that if Obama is “such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that’s the one thing you don’t do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? … Everyone who has tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed. And there are reasons for that.”

Wildly inaccurate, screeched both G.O.P. and Democrat Party critics … [one of whom] went on to cite the British experience in 1842 when, [the Democrat critic] insisted, the UK had scored a success. Either the Democratic strategist is woefully ignorant of what happened to the Brits in that year or he was flat out lying. He should try to tell that whopper to the descendants of the 16,000 British and Indian [retreating] troops who were cut to pieces by Afghani tribesmen at the beginning of 1842.

“A fearful slaughter ensued…  Without food, mangled and cut to pieces, each one caring only for himself, all subordination had fled; and the soldiers of the forty-fourth English regiment are reported to have knocked down their officers with the butts of their muskets. … More than 16,000 people had set out on the retreat from Kabul, and in the end only one man, Dr. William Brydon, a British Army surgeon … made it alive to Jalalabad. …  It was believed the Afghans let him live so he could tell the grisly story.”

If that’s a success story I’d hate to read one dealing with failure.

He goes on to quote this verse by Rudyard Kipling:

When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains

And the women come out to cut up what remains

Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains

An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier

Go, go, go like a soldier …”

We sure hope no wounded US or NATO soldier will be driven to suicide by the wild Afghan tribes.

But we agree emphatically that victory over them is impossible, and the war should be stopped now.