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Sunday, January 31, 2010

I'd rather see you dead

In a discussion on the 'Oz Conservative' blog, A.Reeves said:

If I had a son, and if he wanted to study the average Mickey Mouse course at a government-run Australian university, I would quote the words of King Louis IX's mother: "I would rather see you lying dead in your open coffin than commit a single mortal sin." ...

This sparked a memory from my childhood, from when I was perhaps five or six. I was talking to my mother, as all children do at some time or other, about doing "bad things" and about what if *I* were to do "bad things" -- and "bad things" means wicked things, sin and injustice: a six year old may not understand rape, but he understands murder and theft, he understands injustice; he understands wickedness even if he does not yet grasp the depth of the wickedness of which human beings are capable.

My mother said to me essentially what Blanche of Castile said to her son: "I'd rather see you dead than see you do such-and-such." She might even have mentioned the coffin, I don't remember for sure.

So, wasn't my mother so cruel in her pre-modernism? (Would not the modern-day statist busy-bodies have used that as a pretext for stealing me from my parents?)

I submit that the mindset which would even consider the former question above worthy of being asked, much less worth of being entertained, lies at the root of what is destroying our Western societies. I believe that if more parents said that to their offspring -- and meant it! -- the world would be in a much better condition.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Even an atheist knows better

Vox Day: "Even an atheist knows better"

Here is April, the Hyacinth Girl's, take: Pathetic

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We must first harrow. Then may we sow.

An excellent essay by 'Kristor,' posted on Lawrence Auster's 'View From The Right' blog: The genesis of gnosticism

When I read this entry, "Cameron's cinematic liberal paradise makes viewers hate reality," I got to thinking about Gnosticism and the movies, and came up with a few things.
When I was a teenager Jeremiah Johnson had much the same effect on me that Avatar seems to be having on these people. The purity and beauty, and the raw adventure of his life as a mountain man appealed to me enormously. Like Johnson, I wanted to leave civilization behind and venture off alone into the wilderness. So I did. Like him, I discovered that, while less greasy and noisy than cities, the wilderness is no less beset with tragedy, no less painful or messy. Going into the wilderness doesn't solve anything. That's the difference between Jeremiah Johnson and Avatar. The former does not sugar coat reality, does not make the Indians or the Mountain Men inherently nobler than the men of the town. It is, in fact, a Greek tragedy, its dramatic engine a conflict between legitimate moral imperatives that force themselves upon Johnson and the other dramatis personae. All are driven by a vision of what is right and good, and by the furies unleashed by the conflict between mutually contradictory goods, by reverence, love, vengeance, retribution and honor, to a universally fatal end.

You wrote that Avatar's gnosticism is something new. But really it isn't. Avatar recapitulates a trope so hackworn in Hollywood that it has become venerable, and obeisance in its direction almost obligatory in movies set anywhere but the present day ironic cosmopolitan West: evil industrial civilization of our forefathers versus innocent noble savages. One of the earliest instances of the theme was the movie Mad Max, with Mel Gibson as a post-apocalyptic loner, a lethal, cynical former good guy who has been disillusioned by the collapse of the civilization he once defended, and is now out for himself alone. He comes upon a band of inept and pacific hippies clad in white burlap, who have cadged together a commune in the middle of the wilderness. But they are bedeviled by a band of selfish depraved unwashed outlaws who all wear black leather and studs, drive tractor-trailers and armored Harleys, and who use 50 caliber machine guns against the breech-loading antiques of the hapless hippies. Mad Max is an outlaw like the bad guys: he doesn't wash, and he wears black leather and studs, drives a muscle car and wields shotguns. He is not a hippie. But he has a code of honor, that leads him to befriend the hippies, and so against overwhelming odds he utterly defeats the bad guys. Then he becomes king, or something; or else disappears again into the wilderness.

This theme has been done to death, particularly by Kevin Costner, who reprises it in most of his movies. Dances with Wolves is an archetype of the genre. Matrix descended to the same pathetic depths after an inspired opening (massive orgiastic dance of the burlap-clad hippies deep in their enlightened underground city as the evil machines inexorably approach). Beware when you see a bunch of actors in burlap, because it almost always portends a formulaic play on this decrepit theme. Another sure tipoff: Mad Max casts a jaundiced eye on the beta villagers in their simple happy dance as outlaw bad guys thunder ever nearer. Other instances: The Mission (DeNiro is Mad Max); The Outlaw Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood is Mad Max); Little Big Man (Dustin Hoffman is Mad Max); The Patriot and Braveheart (Mad Max is Mad Max).

OK. What does this theme, in its relentless stultifying recurrence in our popular culture, say about us? This is where my thinking started. You may find that in what follows I have gone a saltation too far, but bear with me.

To begin at the beginning, I think Voegelin is not quite right in arguing that gnosticism stems in the first instance from a realization that God has withdrawn from the world, or that he utterly transcends it. Rather, it stems from a feeling that the world has somehow or other been disenchanted. Its first historical roots do indeed lie in the collapse of the innocent paganism that first sustained our ancestors, for whom the whole world was suffused by spirits. But this same feeling of disenchantment and meaninglessness today afflicts most moderns, who have never thought as pagans. They find life disenchanted and meaningless, not because the gods, dryads and hamadryads don't exist, but because the transcendent God of monotheism doesn't exist. So it isn't transcendence per se that is the problem, but disenchantment. And the disenchantment arises because the patrimonial religion has for them become incredible, or incomprehensible. So long as that religion is credible, and has power to constrain and organize men's thoughts and feelings, gnosticism will gain little traction.

All human beings long for Eden, and we can't have it. This is the basic existential problem we all face; no other problem is more fundamental. We long for a world where things are as they should be, and lo we live in a world where they are not. In our early childhood--for those of us fortunate enough to have had a reasonably good one--we lived for a time in Eden. Our father and mother loved us, and each other; there was harmony in the home, and warmth; we did as we were told, and behold it was good. Soon enough, and too soon, we found out that not all is so well with the world as we had thought. There are mean dogs, and bullies, and Mummy and Daddy fight, and we must go out alone into the cold to school. And we do not always as we are told. This process of loss and compounding disaster continues until we are dead, with a brief interlude wherein--for those of us who are fortunate--we recapitulate it vicariously with our own children.

For all but the most sheltered children, the disillusionment of our innocence is complete by the time we reach adolescence. There are two possible responses to this adolescent discovery. Either we conclude that the world is inherently evil, deficient, worthless, or that we are ourselves the source of the problem. The latter is rare among the young, naturally enough; for looking back, the adolescent can clearly see that he bears no responsibility for the mess in which he has landed. The mess has, rather, been inflicted upon him undeservedly. The whole thing is deeply unfair. So most of us conclude that the fault of the world is the world's fault. In particular, we conclude that the basic problem is embodied in our parents, and in the whole system of things, the weltanschauung and institutions, the customs and traditions, that they represent, practice, and have inculcated in us. Thus begins the adolescent rebellion.

The adolescent rebel rejects the world and all its evils and messy compromises. The system of his elders has not succeeded in banishing evil from the world, so he rejects that, too, root and branch. He rejects their gods; he rejects their very categories of thought. In the limit, he rejects thought altogether. He becomes a nominalist, not just with respect to the transcendent reliability and appropriateness of his inherited folkways, but with respect to the very notions of goodness, truth, and beauty. He rejects the Limit, and especially the limit of logical compossibility, that prevents him from having his cake and eating it too (or, e.g., from making the Grand Canyon both pristine and wheelchair accessible). He wants all possible goods, now, without limit, to the max; and he wants no tragedy in life. Finally, he rejects the limit of form: he rejects formality in art, dress, sex, work, politics, worship, diction, comportment, station, and so forth; and with them, he rejects beauty, truth, order, goodness, for all of them are revealed to the laser eye of his skepticism as merely conventional, thus false and "inauthentic," and therefore evil. His art is "transgressive" or aleatory; the great theme of his literature is rebellion, revolution, the outlaw and the pervert--sex, death, and finally death by sex.

But the rejection of the patrimonial order leads to radical uncertainty about everything. Life is perilous for everyone, but for the nominalist rebel there is no transcendent order that can be relied upon to govern and set things finally right, just and true, in terms of which the things that now seem so wrong and painful may therefore be understood as falling toward their due and proper Providential order. For the nominalist, as for everyone, nothing in life is really certain; but for the nominalist, nothing in life is reliably good, either. Even worse, the nominalist rebel can rely on no one but himself. So he turns to a program of revolutionary action. He becomes a Pelagian Utopian [one who believes that moral perfection through human action is attainable in this life without the assistance of divine grace], out to save the world, building proud towers that cannot reach to Heaven. Even nihilist anarchists and atheists, who insist that in reality nothing matters, work to increase the influence of their doctrines.

All societies have had to deal with these tendencies toward nominalism, anarchism, and nihilism in their adolescents. Traditional societies dealt with them by forcing all their young through traumatic rites of passage in which they were stripped of their adolescence, and from which they emerged as mature exponents and defenders of their patrimonial tradition--as men, and women. These rites vary greatly from one group to another, but wherever they are effective, it is because the adults all give their own credence to the ontology and morality they have themselves inherited from their forbears. Where adults are confident in their patrimonial Limit, in all its formal expressions, and impose it therefore consistently and rigorously upon their children from an early age, the full-blown adolescent revolt is unthinkable. The adolescent is then, rather, eager to assume the mantle of full adulthood, of full mature participation in the maintenance of the sacred order that in the eyes of all his people is so important to the life of the whole world. For we all crave and seek order in our experience, children most of all. The discovery of the limit and order of the world is after all the forecondition of survival and prosperity.

In many societies, the rite of passage from adolescence to adulthood--at least for boys--takes the form of the walkabout, the solo: the youngster ventures forth alone beyond the pale, there to test himself against the wilderness, and to find his peculiar genius. Once he has found it, the prodigal son may return, to enrich the tradition of his people with the contribution of his own heroic journey. As a man, tested and often blooded in combat, he has become himself one of the heroes that peopled the legends of his childhood.

But what happens when the grownups begin to doubt their own story? They fail to live as if it were true, fail to teach their children that it is true, fail fully to want their children to grow up believing it is true, or to follow it. The rite of passage then becomes an empty form; a lie. And no one is fooled by such empty gestures. Indeed, they eventually elicit contempt, adding fuel to the adolescent fire consuming all social forms. The young son may then never wander out beyond the pale. In that case, he becomes a hapless hippie, clad in burlap and fumbling with his pathetic Garand. He becomes, in the language of Game, a beta, or worse. But some young men, goaded mercilessly by their animal spirits, may wander out beyond the pale, and never come back. They become rogues, outlaws, alpha males: they become Mad Max. Mad Max is an adolescent who has never fully grown up, who has begun his rite of passage, but never finished. He has never fully accepted, or else has explicitly rejected, the limits and responsibilities of manhood in full; has never let himself be tied down by obligations to wife, family, people. He has never bought the story.

Interestingly, it is precisely the young men who are ready to go on Walkabout that female adolescents, who have not yet themselves undergone their rite of passage to womanhood, are programmed to find attractive, for such adolescent males are in their own age cohort, and offer them the best chance of long term protection--provided they finish the passage to manhood. Men and women today have never finished growing up. So, far into their third and fourth decades of life, the women act like adolescent girls, and the men act like adolescent boys. The women go for the masculine hero types, the Mad Max alpha males; the men go for the nubile, perky young women.

Even without a vibrant traditional society to push us through a traumatic rite of passage, the exigencies of life generally provide all the trauma we could ask for, and more. So we do eventually grow up. As we grow we sooner or later learn that the world is not a movie about us (having children of our own often sparks this realization). We learn that the adolescent's feeling that he has been unfairly plunged into a horrible situation is simply inapposite, for the world is what it is, regardless of what we want. The mature adult knows that the world has not been done to him; if he is wise, he realizes indeed that, on the contrary, it has been done, in part, for him. He will be what he would be, and the world is provided to him as the proscenium for his decision. The world is not unfair. It is, rather, pitilessly just, logical, ordered (logic and justice have to be pitiless or they can't be ordered; can't be just or logical). We grow more conservative as we age because in living we learn more and more about the world, which everywhere conserves order.

The adult, then, realizes that the great existential problem of man is, not the world's disorder, but his own; not the evil of the world, but his own sinfulness. He realizes that the problem with his life is ... himself. So he takes responsibility. He works to amend his life, and to turn and live toward God. Further, he takes responsibility for those he loves. Only thus is his predicament as a mundane creature ever resolved. He lives in the world, but is less about it. So he transcends his accidents.

If what I've said so far about a sound patriomonial culture and the transition to adulthood within that culture is correct, then it is the case gnosticism flowers when a patrimonial religion has somehow weakened or failed, or lost its popular credence. Gnosticism is an attempt to find a solution to the social crisis brough on by the failure of the patrimonial religion. Most of its products are sports, mere incoherent heresies, such as the wild Gnostic sects of the early centuries AD. But often the wild experimentation and social chaos characteristic of such eras opens social room for a new order that transcends the patrimonial order without negating it, as Christianity transcended and carried forward--or, as the earliest Christians thought, revivified and fulfilled--the religion of Judah.

What, then, is to be done? How can the world be re-enchanted, and a durable social order restored? There is only one way. The philosophical credentials of religious belief--which means, in the West, Christianity--must be popularly rehabilitated. Only when most people admit that Christianity is philosophically respectable can our patrimonial ontology and morality hope for a renascence. Only after such a renascence can the young grow up admiring the vision of order and beauty that their parents also forthrightly admire. Only thus will the young ever give credence to that vision.

Perhaps the most acute perversity of our perverse age is that the multitudes who criticize or reject Christianity on philosophical grounds know almost nothing either about Christianity or philosophy. Only thus could they bring themselves to embrace incoherent, self-refuting doctrines such as nominalism or materialism. The first step, then, of a Traditionalist apologetics must be to make that incoherence explicit and unmistakable. We must first harrow. Then may we sow.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

You've got me now, and that makes all the difference

Bob Parks: Big Head Of The Day

We’ve been calling President Obama a narcissist for awhile now. Between “Let me clear”, “I’m the president”, or the numerous times he retells the wonder that was his election victory, one could assume he has an overinflated sense of self.
Rep. Marion Berry’s parting shot, published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette offers a warning to moderate Democrats and border state moderates - warning of a midterm bloodbath comparable to the 54-seat D-to-R swing in 1994. But the jaw-dropper is Berry’s claim that President Obama personally dismissed any comparison between Democrats now and under Bill Clinton 16 years ago - by saying his personal popularity would bail everybody out.

“I’ve been doing that with this White House, and they just don’t seem to give it any credibility at all,” Berry said. “They just kept telling us how good it was going to be. The president himself, when that was brought up in one group, said, ‘Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.’ We’re going to see how much difference that makes now.”

We can now officially declare President Obama’s narcissism fact…

And a fitting illustration (from here):

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

IFPS: The Trial of Geert Wilders: A Symposium

The International Free Press Society: The Trial of Geert Wilders: A Symposium

The subject matter is the upcoming trial (starting tomorrow, 2010/01/20) of the Dutch politician and MP, Geert Wilders, for, in essence, the "crime" of "Islamophobia." While I do not intend even to imply, by highlighting one contribution, that the other contributions are less than worthy, I do wish to draw Gentle Reader's attention to the contribution of David Yerushalmi:

Geert Wilders, Member of Parliament of the Netherlands and chairman of the Freedom Party, goes on trial Wednesday in the land of the Dutch. His alleged crime: criticizing Islam in such a way that it insults Muslims and causes other people to hate devout Muslims because of their faith in Islam and its scriptures. Specifically, the lengthy summons and charge sheet set out a host of Wilders’ statements that violate two specific criminal laws. One, Wilders publicly dared to criticize Islam and its scripture in such a way that he insulted devout Muslims who take their faith in Islam seriously. Two, his public statements incite others to hate or discriminate against Muslims because of their religious beliefs. If found guilty, Wilders might very well be imprisoned and stripped of his political office.

The case demonstrates in classic terms the convergence between the Left and tyranny, ...
To understand the rationale for such laws, we need not travel far. Europeans brought the truth of the Enlightenment to the West. This new truth is not merely close at hand, it is the hand. Indeed, it is the whole of a man’s existence.

The truth of the Enlightenment was and continues to be that there is no truth. Western men live the certainty of this new absolutism because we accept the reduction of man to the mathematical physics of science. To gain the certainty that men are bound by the material counting of scientific symbols is to know that all else is belief or uncertain opinion. What Western men at one time understood as the truth of existence is now only an absolutely uncertain belief. If political man has no access to truth except the truth that no truth exists, there can be no truthful criticism.

The Dutch take their Enlightenment seriously. Geert Wilders’s crime is that he takes his nation and culture no less seriously than he takes Islam’s. No one can study Islam and its legal context, known as Shariah, and not know that it seeks the dominance or destruction of Dutch national existence and culture. The new Dutchmen take neither seriously except to say that neither exist outside of the mind and the “feelings” of the men who harbour such beliefs.

Wilders’ crime is not his speech. It is his commitment to the truth of existence of a Dutch people and nation grounded in Christianity. That truth violates the principles of the Enlightenment now engraved in the tablets of a Western world where the only truth permitted men in the public sphere is a multicultural pluralism devoid of any truthful content but that there is no truthful content.

To that breach of peace, Wilders is guilty. ...

Firstly, it ought to go without saying that Mr Yerushalmi did not say that to be Dutch is to be a Christian ... I realize that Gentle Reader does not require this explicit statement; however, there are always intellectually dishonest fools about, who seek nothing but mischief.

Mr Yerushalmi's point is that "political correctness" is the natural working-out of the so-called Enlightenment. And that, not only is it false, but that it's killing us.

The "it" which is killing us is not "political correctness," that's merely a symptom of the illness. What is killing us is the societal rejection of truth; that is, that the anti-leven of the so-called Enlightenment has, after all these years, finally worked its way through the whole loaf.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

The First Question

The "First Question" is "Exists there a Creator-God?" The reason this is the "First Question" is that all other questions we may ask about reality, and therefore all other answers we may learn, follow from the answer we give to this question.

The question of God's existence is not just a matter of theology -- by the way, I said that precisely that way because these days most people labor under the misapprehension that matters and questions of theology are trivial, that even if a specific question may be interesting, the answer (even if it can be determined) has no importance "in the here and now." On the contrary, understanding the reality, or the non-reality, of God is fundamental to understanding "the here and now;" for the "First Question" is a question about the very nature of reality.

If we answer the "First Question" wrongly, then our understanding of reality must necessarily be incorrect, in contrast merely to being incomplete if we answer the question rightly.

There is only one possible answer to the question: either the answer is "Yes," or it is "No;" but it is not "Both 'yes' and 'no'" and it is not "Neither 'yes' nor 'no.'"

Furthermore, it's not really possible to decline to answer the question; well, not unless one is content to remain an ignoramus (which, as the saying goes, but the Latin for 'agnostic') in all ways and in all things. The reason one can't really decline to answer is because the question is about the very nature of reality. Thus, even those who assert that the question is unanswerable in principle must always comport themselves as though they already know the answer (and, generally, such folk comport themselves as though they know that the answer were "No").

"Exists there a Creator-God?"

I phrased the question that way to a purpose. The issue to be explored is not, "Does there exist some entity which we might reasonably call a 'god'?" (and which may or may not have any connection to us, who live in the world). Rather, the issue is, "Does the physical/material world exist intentionally; is the world a creation?"

See? Just as I said above, the question is about the very nature of reality, and the anwser is one or the other, either "Yes" or "No."

And everyone lives as though he knows the answer.

In this post, I am not going to answer the question. Of course, if Gentle Reader knows that I am a Christian, then he has a really good idea of which answer I will give as correct; though he may not yet know the why of it. However, the point of this post -- and any discussion which may arise from it -- is not about the answer, but is rather about the question. So: no answer from me at this time.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Naming The Beast

Michael Coren names the beast:

Things have become positively absurd when in ordinary, civil discourse we cannot call a Lutheran a Lutheran or refer to an outrage committed by Lutherans when an outrage has quite clearly been committed by followers of Luther in the name of Luther.

Let us consider just the past two weeks. On Christmas Day, for example, one Lutheran with alleged connections to organized Lutheran groups attempted to blow up an airliner and send hundreds of innocent men, women and children to their deaths.


Thank goodness he was too incompetent to carry out the awful deed, but because of the actions of this, Lutheran airports all over the world will be forced to spend millions of dollars, that could otherwise go to social programs, on security personnel and paraphernalia.

In Yemen, the British and American embassies have had to close down because they are in too great a danger of being attacked by Lutheran fanatics intent on slaughter. Yemen is rapidly becoming ungovernable because of Lutheran extremism and thousands of people have been killed or exiled because of their actions. Lutheran militants have told the ancient Jewish community in the country, one that predates the very foundation of Lutheranism, to leave or be killed.

In Pakistan, a Lutheran suicide bomber drove his car into a crowd watching a volleyball game and murdered more than a hundred people enjoying a day out watching a sporting event. Body parts of children were scattered all over the field for hours after the explosion.

In Afghanistan, a Lutheran militant killed a Canadian journalist and four Canadian soldiers.

These casualties were just the latest in a bitter, bloody litany of people killed in the name of fundamentalist Lutheranism, many of them women and aid workers trying to improve the lives of ordinary people.

In Iran, people protesting against the excesses of a Lutheran theocratic government were beaten and killed and many are, as we speak, being tortured in prisons by Lutheran thugs. Lutheran Iran has the second highest execution rate in the world and, for its population size, the highest by far.

Another attempt

In Denmark, an axe-carrying Lutheran tried to break into the home of an elderly cartoonist who had drawn a picture of Martin Luther some years ago that had offended many Lutherans. The police arrested the man, who was merely the latest Lutheran to have been charged with offences concerning the life of the cartoonist.

Just two ordinary and typical weeks and this does not include the daily arrests, acts of intolerance and discrimination, hateful propaganda and brutality, failed terror attacks and the like from Lutheran individuals and Lutheran states.

But we must be careful not to engage in Lutheranophobia because that is the worst, most horrible, awful, nasty, smelly crime in the history of the world and almost everybody who criticises Lutheranism and Lutherans in any way is guilty of it.

Yet in the name of the Prophet Satire, peace be upon him, we surely have to speak out now before it is too late to do so. It's already sometimes dangerous and even illegal but, as Luther himself said, here I stand for I can do no other.

Of course (and as I am sure Mr Coren knows), the real beast, the one that really endangers us, is not "Lutheranism," but is rather the leftism and "liberalism" (*) which intends the destruction of Western cultures/societies and polities and of the over-arching Western civilization.

(*) What we these days call "liberalism" has at best a tenuous connection with historical liberalism. Modern "liberalism" is merely an inconsistent leftism; and while leftism continuously asserts its great Love For Man, it hates men.

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

How America Got All Modern And Found Her Groove

When I was home in Indiana for Christmas, I was trying to explain to one of my sisters how in America 'liberal' came to be a synonym for 'socialist.' I don't think she really followed; perhaps I didn't explain well.

In any event, prior to about a century ago, 'liberal' was used to mean something very similar to what "conservative" means in America. It still is used with that meaning that in Europe ... which is why the Communists of the (thank God!) now-extinct USSR were always on tirades about the "evils" of liberalism (*) ... and why (I'm going on memory here, and I can't find a link to better explain the situation), a few years ago in France, when it looked as though Le Pen might win the national election, a prominant French politician said, "The battle is between the social and the liberal."

This recent article on 'National Review Online' goes into how that change-of-meaning came about -- John Dewey and the Philosophical Refounding of America

(*) When I was a youngster, before I'd learned what the term 'liberal' really means, when I mistakenly thought 'liberalism' was synonymous with 'socialism,' it always quite confused me when I'd read accounts of some Soviet rant about liberals or liberalism.

At the same time, Mark Richardson, of the 'Oz Conservative' blog makea a good case that (modern and/or post-modern) socialistic "liberalism" is a natural out-working of the flaws inhernet in the "classical liberalism" of John Stewart Mill, et al.

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Men Will Be Boys

Men will be boys ... and that's not a bad thing.

(h/t Cassandra)

YouTube link

YouTube link

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Friday, January 8, 2010

News From The Front

News from the front ... of the "half-vast left-wing conspiracy" --

Bob Parks: Quote Of The Day

Gentle Reader ought to read Mr Parks' entry, simply to take in the sheer insanity of "liberalism."

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What Is Conservatism?

Cassandra, of the ''Villainous Company' blog, writes:

A while back I was asked by a very lovely and intelligent lady to write an essay on conservatism.

I did quite a bit of research and was rather surprised by what I learned. Yes, I do have an opinion on this subject. But I hear so many people say, "He/She isn't a conservative" that I can't quite resist throwing the question back at you all: "OK. Exactly what IS a conservative? Define it for me."

So that's my challenge to you, whether you are a blogger or a reader. Define conservatism for me. Better yet, do it for yourself.

Have at it in the comments section. And if you are a blogger and want to post your reply, let me know and I'll post a roundup of responses.

Should be an interesting discussion.

My response is: "Conservativism is the mindset and act of knowing and holding to a proper and virtuous balance between the competing goods of human nature."

Certainly, I might expand upon that. But for now, I won't.

Edit [follow-up at VC]:

Cassandra: "Ilion: how do you define "proper and virtuous"? I can imagine many different notions of both adjectives that I would disagree with deeply, but my liberal friends would find very much in line with their thinking."

Why limit your question to just those words? All the words of the sentence were deliberately chosen to give "liberals" apoplexy.

But, as you ask about just those two words -- well, if your “liberal friends” use those terms non-tendentiously, then they’re about to step on a banana peel (and if they use them tendentiously, they merely expose their intellectual dishonesty). To use, --and mean -- such terms as ‘proper’ and ‘virtue’ is to acknowledge that there is an objective moral standard, which we can know and to which we can appeal, and upon which we may reason.

“Liberalism” (as libertarianism, though in a different manner) is about the denial of an objectively real moral order in favor of the assertion of will and power.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

You Cannot Reason

Neither you nor I can reason -- we just imagine that we do. Further, we merely imagine that we imagine (for there exists no such thing as imagination, any more than there exists such a thing as reason).

What's this absurdity which I've just stated? Why, they are simply among the logical implications of atheism, of the denial that there exists a Creator-God, and that we are his creations.

I've explained these truths at other times and places, at more or less length, but I think that this post (in this thread at the 'Gates of Vienna' blog) succinctly captures the argument, so I reproduce it here:

[''EscapeVelocity' said]
"... In closing, I would like to state, that as soon as [there] is proof that there is no God, then I will change my position. (As you noted, that is an unlikely occurence.)"

[I replied]
It's not only unlikely, it's impossible, for what is false cannot be proven true.

The reality of minds in a material world (thus, every human being who has ever existed) is proof that atheism is false. If atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, then we would not -- because we could not -- exist. But we do exist. Therefore, atheism is not the truth about the nature of reality.

This is the general form of the argument to support the prior claim --

GIVEN the reality of the natural/physical/material world, IF atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN everything which exists and/or transpires must be wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes. [edit: But, since there exist entities and events in the world which are not wholly reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes, then it is seen that the denial that 'God is' is a false proposition.]

The explanation/proof is as follows --

This "everything" (which exists and must be wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes) includes our minds and all the functions and capabilities of our minds -- including reason (and, really, not just the individual acts of reasoning that we all engage in, but big-r 'Reason').

Now, specifically with respect to reasoning, what inescapably follows from atheism is that it is impossible for anything existing in reality (that included us) to reason.

When an entity reasons, it chooses to move from one thought or concept to another based on (its understanding of) the content of the concepts and of the logical relationship between them.

But, IF atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN this movement from (what we call) thought to though (which activity or change-of-mental-state we call 'reasoning') *has* to be caused by, and must be wholely explicable in terms of, state-changes of matter. That is, it is not the content of, and logical relationship between, two thoughts which prompts a reasoning entity to move from the one thought to the other, but rather it is some change-of-state of some matter which determines that an entity "thinks" any particular "thought" when it does.
I leave it to the reader to dwell on the further implications.

This logical implication/consequence of atheism (the one I have explicated) directly denies what we all know to be true about the "cause" of all acts of reasoning. This logical implication/consequence of atheism states an absurdity, namely that we do not, and cannot, reason. Since the stated absurdity is a logical implication/consequence of atheism, therefore atheism is shown to be absurd. Which is to say, necessarily false.

Perhaps Gentle Reader will ask me whether I expect many (or even any) of those persons who call themselves 'atheists' and 'agnostics' to admit, based on this reasoning or any reasoning, that there exists, and that we can know that there exists, a Creator-God.

Gentle Reader always was a humorist!

What I expect is to be called greatly mistaken about the reasoning I've explicated. Or too stupid to see that it's incorrect. Or a liar for asserting it.

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The Leaning Tower of Liuzhou

MailOnline: Chinese demolition men accidentally create the leaning tower of Liuzhou (article includes photos and video)

(h/t Lawrence Auster)

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