Category Archive 'Leftism'

05 Sep 2017

San Francisco Celebrates 1967

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Judith Miller discusses the odd culture of America’s Cool Grey City of Love as San Francisco commemorates the 1967 origin of the Counter-Culture which today dominates the city.

It is San Francisco’s smug self-satisfaction that so enrages critics like Michael Anton, the San Francisco native who now works for the Trump White House in national-security communications. In a blistering 2015 critique in the Claremont Review of Books, Anton asserted that “San Francisco values” had come to reflect little more than a “confluence of hippie leftism and filthy lucre,” a marriage of convenience between “old-time materialism and hippie ‘morality.’ ” What kept the Summer of Love veneer going for so long, he asserted, is the implicit deal between the high-tech oligarchs and the hippie rank-and-file. “The latter not only decline to use their considerable propaganda skills to vilify the former, but cheerfully glorify and whitewash them,” he wrote. “The oligarchs in turn subsidize the lefties through nonprofits and make-work jobs” and, more important, “take their cues from them on matters of politics not directly contrary to their economic interests.” Both groups benefit from what he called this “socio-intellectual money laundering.” The resulting policies have done little to create opportunities for an aspiring middle class that is neither elite nor bohemian.

Anton is not wrong about the less savory aspects of the counterculture. A notable omission in the city’s much touted tradition of “tolerance,” for instance, is that it rarely extends to politics. There is no welcome mat out for Republicans, especially conservatives. Student mobs at Berkeley boast about preventing conservative scholars from speaking on campus. Socially liberal but fiscally conservative activists like David Crane, who worked as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s finance director, struggle to raise funds for candidates willing to question the pension burdens being imposed on future generations by San Francisco liberals in the name of “workers’ rights.” Several Republican city residents confided that they would never display a Trump/Pence sticker on their car or home window for fear of vandalism.

RTWT

22 Oct 2016

“A Case For Jefferson”

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robertfrost

A Case for Jefferson
by Robert Frost

Harrison loves my country too,
But wants it all made over new.
He’s Freudian Viennese by night.
By day he’s Marxian Muscovite.
It isn’t because he’s Russian Jew.
He’s Puritan Yankee through and through.
He dotes on Saturday pork and beans.
But his mind is hardly out of his teens:
With him the love of country means
Blowing it all to smithereens
And having it all made over new.

Hat tip to neo-neocon via Vanderleun.

10 Jan 2016

From a Memorial in Argentina

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Juan Bautista Alberdi 1810-1853

“Juan Bautista Alberdi sostenía que la Libertad produce en el hombre de a pie la angustia de la responsabilidad y por eso añora la monarquía absoluta, donde no debía decidir. Y al morir el Antiguo Régimen, se volcaba hacia el socialismo. Lo vio con 100 años de antelación.”

[Juan Bautista Alberdi argued that Liberty produces in the common man the anguish of responsibility and he therefore yearns for an absolute monarchy and no obligation to decide. Thus the death of the Ancien Regime spills over into Socialism. He saw a hundred years ahead.]

06 Apr 2015

Roger Scruton: The End of the University

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University

There is this month, in First Things, a must-read essay on the transformation of the modern university by Roger Scruton, who (as usual) brilliantly identifies exactly what the Left’s long march through the culture has wrought.

[T]he university extolled by Newman was designed to protect the privileges of an existing upper class and to place obstacles before the advance of its competitors. It imparted futile skills, which were esteemed precisely for their futility, since this made them into a badge of membership that only a few could afford. And far from advancing the fund of knowledge, it existed to safeguard the sacred myths: It placed a protective wall of enchantment around the religion, the social values, and the high culture of the past, and pretended that the recondite skills required to enjoy this enchantment—Latin and Greek, for example—were the highest forms of knowledge. In short, the ­Newmanite university was an instrument for the perpetuation of a leisure class. The culture that it passed on was not the property of the whole community but merely an ideological tool, through which the powers and privileges of the existing order were endowed with their aura of legitimacy.

Now, by contrast, we have universities dedicated to the growth of knowledge, which are not merely non-elitist but anti-elitist in their social structure. …

[H]owever, a visitor to the American university today is more likely to be struck by the indigenous varieties of censorship than by any atmosphere of free inquiry. It is true that Americans live in a tolerant society. But they also breed vigilant guardians, keen to detect and extirpate the first signs of “prejudice” among the young. And these guardians have an innate tendency to gravitate to the universities, where the very freedom of the curriculum, and its openness to innovation, provide them with an opportunity to exercise their censorious passions. Books are put on or struck off the syllabus on grounds of their political correctness; speech codes and counseling services police the language and thought of both students and teachers; courses are designed to impart ideological conformity, and students are often penalized for having drawn some heretical conclusion about the leading issues of the day. In sensitive areas, such as race, sex, and the mysterious thing called “gender,” censorship is overtly directed not only at students but also at any teacher, however impartial and scrupulous, who comes up with the wrong conclusions.

Of course, the culture of the West remains the primary object of study in humanities departments. However, the purpose is not to instill that culture but to repudiate it—to examine it for all the ways in which it sins against the egalitarian worldview. The Marxist theory of ideology, or some feminist, poststructuralist, or Foucauldian descendent of it, will be summoned in proof of the view that the precious achievements of our culture owe their status to the power that speaks through them, and that they are therefore of no intrinsic worth. …

Moral relativism clears the ground for a new kind of absolutism. The emerging curriculum in the humanities is in fact far more censorious, in crucial matters, than the one that it strives to replace. It is no longer permitted to believe that there are real and inherent distinctions between people. All distinctions are “culturally constructed” and therefore changeable. And the business of the curriculum is to deconstruct them, to replace distinction with equality in every sphere where distinction has been part of the inherited culture. Students must believe that in crucial respects, in particular in those matters that touch on race, sex, class, role, and cultural refinement, Western civilization is just an arbitrary ideological device, and certainly not (as its self-image suggests) a repository of real moral knowledge. Moreover, they must accept that the purpose of their education is not to inherit that culture but to question it and, if possible, to replace it with a new “multicultural” approach that makes no distinctions between the many forms of life by which the students find themselves surrounded.

To doubt those doctrines is to commit deepest heresy, and to pose a threat to the community that the modern university needs. For the modern university tries to cater to students regardless of religion, sex, race, or cultural background, even regardless of ability. It is to a great extent a creation of the state and is fully signed up to the statist idea of what a society should be—namely, a society without distinction. It is therefore as dependent on the belief in equality as Cardinal Newman’s university was dependent on the belief in God.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

25 Feb 2015

“Liberalism Fills the Missing Space Once Inhabited By Religion and the Family”

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Eric Fischl, The Old Man’s Boat and the Old Man’s Dog, 1982. –Our time’s version of The Raft of the Medusa.

And Dan Greenfield argues that it really does not do a terribly good job.

Liberalism has become a revolt against the middle class that its grandparents struggled to reach, a rejection of their “materialism” while substituting the “ethical materialism” of liberalism in its place that envisions a much smaller upper and middle class that derives its wealth and power not from hard work in the private sector, but highly profitable social justice volunteerism in the public sector.

An American Dream of universal prosperity has been pitted against the left’s dream of a benevolent feudal system in which the few will be very well paid to oversee the income equality of the many.

11 Aug 2014

No Room For Lions, Lefties Dream of a Peaceable Kingdom

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LionGiraffe

Nicholas James Pell, in Taki’s Magazine, deplores the radical Utopian Left’s desire to re-make predatory animals into vegetarians and remodel all of Nature into a “pan species welfare state.”

[O]ne of the curious things about leftist egalitarianism: it tends to eat everything in its path. The second you start believing that all men must be re-created equal, under penalty of law, the road to reasonable accommodations for people who think they’re elves or those who prefer to see multiple personality disorder as a lifestyle choice isn’t too long. And so we live in a world where grown men (or at least Ronan Farrow) get paid beaucoup bucks to go on television and bemoan the lack of ethnic diversity in cartoon smileys used by teenage girls for whom typing out whole words is too much of a bother.

Nor, when you accept the secular postmillennialist argument that humans need to wipe out every trace of injustice on Earth, is it that big of a leap to argue in favor of changing the genetic code of wild animals to make them stop eating meat—though it’s still not clear why the plan to eliminate suffering from the world doesn’t include anything about rescuing plants from consumption. Carnivorous animals, specifically lions, are singled out as “sociopathic killing machines.” David Pearce, the “independent philosopher” and transhumanist vegan who cooked up the Hedonistic Imperative, seems somewhat less interested in reprogramming carnivorous animals than he is in eliminating them.

To wit: “To judge that lions should exist is to affirm that it is better, in some sense, that sociopathic killing machines prowl the Earth rather than alternative herbivores.”

I’m somewhat sympathetic to the argument that people who have never field dressed an animal don’t get to to grouse about animal welfare.

Read the whole thing.

13 Mar 2014

Artist Secures Funding, Then Refuses to Deliver Books

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John Campbell raised over $51,000 on Kickstarter from more than 1000 donors for his personal project of publishing a comic titled Sad Pictures for Children.

Campbell then published an addendum on Kickstarter, informing donors that he was fed up with mailing out copies of his book. He would not be mailing any more, and every time somebody complained, he intended to burn a copy of his book. His anti-Capitalism rant is hilarious enough to merit reading, but sufficiently incoherent and deranged that you are better off with some selected excerpts.

AFFLUENT PEOPLE: PLEASE DEFEND YOUR DESIRE FOR AFFLUENCE AND PARTICIPATION IN CAPITALISM

I shipped about 75% of kickstarter rewards to backers. I will not be shipping any more. I will not be issuing any refunds. For every message I receive about this book through e-mail, social media or any other means, I will burn another book.


When we allow ourselves to believe that certain people/animals/things have value we simultaneously and necessarily believe that other people/animals/things do not.

I do not need more wealth or property than what fulfills my needs. I do not need to increase my income as I age.

I pulled money from that retirement account a few times until finally taking all the money out and closing it at the end of 2011. I experienced an emotional “crash” that fall, like most falls, but this was worse than others, in part because I ran out of money and went off anti-depressant medication for the first time. I didn’t understand this then, but I could’ve gone online and asked people to pay for my meds and they would have.

This Christmas I refunded more books and orders than I have before. I got a lot of requests from backers to get books sent before Christmas, which I was able to do for some people. I could not do this for other people before leaving for the holidays, and many of them asked for refunds.

I refunded them with money I got from selling the original art I made for my webcomic from 2009-2012. This was money I planned to ship orders with. After this happened, I could have made another update explaining I had issued refunds and then tried to sell more things or asked for more shipping money. Instead I thought for a long time about what has been happening.

Before I sold my original art, I wrote a post to backers that mentioned my sexual identity. I felt that explaining part of my personal development over the previous year would help bring understanding and value to my absence from the internet and lack of production. I sold enough to ship the books I needed to ship, something like 50 pieces. When I posted links to my original art with the broader reach of my social media presences and other websites, I sold, I think, 3 pieces.

If I had explained some of my absence on my social media presences the way I had on my kickstarter, my original art would have increased in monetary value. If I had not explained myself to my backers in a way that satisfied them, they may not have asked to buy original art or helped with shipping at all. What if I had felt or expressed myself some different, less acceptable way? Several cartoonists e-mailed me to let me know I was “so brave” for mentioning my sexuality to my backers without understanding that if I hadn’t my work probably wouldn’t have had enough value to pay for shipping, or refunding as it turned out.

What if I don’t want to talk about my sexuality on the internet? What if I don’t want to draw again? Why should I prove to people on the internet I deserve to eat and sleep? I don’t deserve to eat and sleep. I don’t deserve anything good or bad. There isn’t “good” or “bad” and there isn’t an “I” to deserve them.

If you would like a refund, please contact a fan of my work directly for your money. This is where the money would come from anyway. I am cutting out the middle man.

I refunded some of the preorders I received through paypal in addition to the kickstarter orders, but I will not be refunding any more.

The backers who gave me the most money received the least “reward” from me. After shipping costs, I “lost money” on most of the books I sold at the $25 level so, backers at the higher levels, you could perceive of yourselves as having “paid for” the books that the “lower” backers currently have, and you could try to get those books that you “paid for” somehow.

You could try to obtain refunds through kickstarter or paypal, through your bank or credit card company. You could try to harass me or inconvenience me or tell other people negative things about me or this kickstarter in the hope that this will affect me negatively. Be aware that each attempt to contact me about this book will individually result in the burning of a book until the books are gone.

I am making the loudest sound I know how to make. I know that some people will be personally offended that I am doing this, but I am doing this in large part because our culture has developed in such a way that some of the intelligent, empathetic people who follow me will believe they feel more psychological pain because of books being burnt, their money and my attitude about them than because of the destruction of the natural world, the continuation of classist, racist, abusive patterns of behavior and representation, etc.

If you have negative feelings about the actions I am taking, that is part of what I am protesting against. I am protesting the values you use to determine how you feel about and interact with the world.

I will not be responsible for the manufacture of any more unnecessary physical objects. The natural world is being destroyed by unnecessary production. …

I want direct funding for my living necessities. I want to establish relationships with a group of people who can pay for my baseline needs like food and rent. I am looking for people who do not feel they need to see any “return” on their “investment.” I am looking for people who understand that money is a bad joke we use to hurt each other. I’m looking for people who like me were born with a lot of privileges but who have had the awareness and emotional stability to keep their bucket under the faucet when the money comes out.

I am not looking for the support of anyone who wants a book, or wants to see me put stick figure comics on the internet. I do not need the support of anyone who thinks that I will deserve to eat and sleep only after I have fulfilled some standard they’ve chosen to hold me to. I am looking for people who believe that if you spend your life in a small room thinking, you deserve to live and breathe the same amount as someone who spends their life doing intense physical or mental labor, or who has money that ‘makes money.'”

And so on.

This Campbell guy (soon to be a girl apparently) represents in one personality a pretty hideous indictment of the culture and attitudes of the contemporary Left.

Via Reason magazine.

18 Oct 2011

Fairness Versus Productivity

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Simon Raven, writing back in 1970 in Places Where They Sing, the sixth volume of his roman fleuve, depicts the Provost of Lancaster College repeating to himself the claims of the same philosophy of fairness which Barack Obama and other Americans on the left insist on preferring even to greater productivity and the benefit of all.

“‘In conclusion,’ wrote Robert Constable, ‘it is important to face up to Professor Parkinson’s charge that a high rate of tax on earned income draws off creative and inventive energy, too much of which, he claims, is now unproductively employed in devising new methods of tax avoidance. There is some evidence to support this assertion; but the assertion itself demonstrates and strengthens precisely those attitudes of mind which modern social philosophy is concerned to discredit and destroy. For personal ability or talent must no longer be regarded as a means to personal enrichment but as a commodity, held in trust by some fortunate individual, whereby he may serve and enrich mankind. Indifferent to monetary returns, such an individual should find his satisfaction in the exercise of his skill (grateful that it releases him from the drudgery by which most men must earn their livelihood) and in the knowledge that he is providing pleasure or amenity for his fellow human beings. Such grace, I fear, is still far to seek; and it will certainly not be found in any quantity as long as influential writers like Professor Parkinson continue to regard society, not as an area of tillage to be held and harvested in common, but as a barren and bloody arena in which men mangle one another in pursuit of acclaim and gold.’

That, thought Constable as he lifted his head, is putting it a bit strong. Although there are real gladiators, the iron men of industry and commerce, for the most part the circus is occupied by perfectly decent fellows who are hoping, in return for a conscientious display of talent, to achieve a quiet independence and retire to a Sabine farm. But then again, thought Con¬stable, if society is to be truly co-operative there is no place even for such temperate self-interest as this. It’s not the economics of the thing that matter so much as the moral attitude . . . the idea that one will make a part of human society for only so long as it takes to raise enough money to opt out of that society and buy a pretty house on the hill way up above the noise and the suffering and the stink. If society were justly ordered, thought Constable for the millionth time, if wealth were fairly spread, then no ability would win enough money to escape the suffering and the stink, and all ability would therefore be used to mitigate them. This, then, must be the argument for heavy taxes on earned money – that independence, even when earned, is a crime against humanity.”

10 Sep 2009

Thomas Friedman: Yearning For Dictatorship

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They know how to achieve consensus in China

Republicans are declining to support Obama-Care and Cap-and-Trade. Why, it’s enough to make New York Times editorialist Thomas Friedman envy China.

Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today.

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.

Our one-party democracy is worse.

08 Jun 2009

Without Judgment, There is Only Leftism

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Roger Scruton, in the American Spectator, describes how sloth, self-indulgence, and intellectual cowardice led the modern university to surrender to egalitarian relativism and thus to be politicized.

As universities expanded, the humanities began to displace the sciences from the curriculum. Students wished to use their time at university to cultivate their leisure interests and to improve their souls, rather than to learn hard facts and complex theories. And there arose a serious question as to why universities were devoting their resources to subjects that made so little discernible difference to the wider world. What good do the humanities do, and why should students take three or four years out of their lives in order to read books which—if they were interested—they would read in any case, and which—if they were not interested—would never do them the least bit of good?

In the days when the humanities involved knowledge of classical languages and an acquaintance with German scholarship, there was no doubt that they required real mental discipline, even if their point could reasonably be doubted. But once subjects like English were admitted to a central place in the curriculum, the question of their validity became urgent. And then, in the wake of English came the pseudo-humanities—women’s studies, gay studies and the like—which were based on the assumption that, if English is a discipline, so too are they. And since there is no cogent justification for women’s studies that does not dwell upon the subject’s ideological purpose, the entire curriculum in the humanities began to be seen in ideological terms. …

Subjects like English and art history grew from the desire to teach young people how to discriminate art from effect, beauty from kitsch, and real from phony sentiment. This ability was not regarded as an unimportant skill like fencing or horse riding, which students are free to acquire or not, according to their interests. It was regarded as a real form of knowledge, as vital to the future of civilization as the knowledge of mathematics, and more closely connected with the moral health of society than any natural science. It was only on that assumption that the humanities acquired their central place in the modern university.

If, however, the humanities are to avoid the cultivation of taste, it is not only their central place in the curriculum that is thrown in doubt. Given their prominence in the modern university, and the fact that increasingly many students come to university who are unprepared for any other form of study, any change in the humanities is a change in the very idea of a university. Conservatives often complain about the politicization of the universities, and about the fact that only liberal views are propagated or even tolerated on campus. But they fail to see the true cause of this, which is the internal collapse of the humanities. When judgment is marginalized or forbidden nothing remains save politics. The only permitted way to compare Jane Austen and Maya Angelou, or Mozart and Meshuggah, is in terms of their rival political postures. And then the point of studying Jane Austen or Mozart is lost. What do they have to tell us about the ideological conflicts of today, or the power struggles that are played out in the faculty common room?

The true conservative cause, when it comes to the universities, ought to be the restoration of judgment to its central place in the humanities. And that shows how difficult a task the recapture of the universities will be. It will require a confrontation with the culture of youth, and an insistence that the real purpose of universities is not to flatter the tastes of those who arrive there, but to present them with a rite of passage into something better.

Read the whole thing.

24 Feb 2009

Tired of You, Barack Hu

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John Hawkins gives 15 reasons he’s already tired of Barack Obama.


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