Monday, April 30, 2012

Tension And Habitat Part 4: "Progressives"

A number of readers have written to me specifically about the "Tribe And
Tribalism" segment in this series. Their missives have suggested both
alternate approaches to "tribe" and a great many additional examples of
recognizable tribes within this nation and others. It's the sort of
feedback that makes me pleased to have elicited it, because it indicates
that people are thinking seriously about fundamentals.

One "tribe" that's drawn particular attention is the ideological tribe
of hard-left "progressives." We can see from the criteria in that
earlier essay that self-nominated "progressives" do constitute a tribe:

-- It possesses a set of criteria for determining who is (and who is
not) a member: Identification is by political alignment and the use of
the proper "shibboleth" words.
-- It demonstrates a substantial degree of cohesion over time:
"Progressives" virtually never defect from their tribe.
-- It prefers members to non-members in significant ways: Have you ever
known a "progressive" who would willingly associate with
-- It enforces a code of conduct upon members, whether formally or
informally: Mandatory attendance at a certain number of public protests
and demonstrations per year.
-- It regards interaction and interpenetration with outsiders as
occasions of elevated danger and opportunity: Mainly to meet
"progressives" of the opposite sex for, ah, extra-curricular dialogue.

When Eric Hoffer wrote of "a compact and unified church" of "true
believers," he might well have had his era's "progressives" in mind.

However, it's fairly clear that, whatever "progressives" might truly
value, progress, at least as we regular humans understand it, is no part
of their agenda:

"Progress is the improved satisfaction of human desires, morally, with
less input." -- Kevin Cullinane

Indeed. Even if those "human desires" included all the ostensible policy
goals "progressives" claim to cherish, they can't claim progress toward
those, either. As a recent humorous example, consider that wind farms,
long a totem of the enviro-Nazi faction of the "progressives," are now
believed to contribute to "global warming."
( That puts the
"warmistas" at war with the renewable-energy bunch and the Left's cadre
of crony capitalists! Superb!

As matters are trending, "progressives" might soon become an endangered
species. The tribe is incapable of advancing on its overt goals, ever
more deeply riven by internal discord, completely dependent on a
relatively small group of "sugar daddies," and frowned upon by an
increasing fraction of the American electorate. America still shelters
enclaves within which it's safe -- nay, required -- to pose as a
"progressive," but those habitats are relatively well demarcated
geographically. More, their denizens seldom venture out, unless it's by
aircraft to another such habitat.

Perhaps it's time to get the EPA involved...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tension And Habitat Part 3: The Political Species

In every land and every generation there have been men whose overriding priority is acquiring power over others. They've espoused dogmas of many kinds, such that one cannot easily find an ideological thread to connect them all. But in one respect they've been entirely consistent: They've all labored to increase the power of governments over those subject to them.

The success of their efforts has varied from nation to nation. Now and then they've triumphed completely; in several places, their grip on power has yet to be seriously threatened. Even in the United States, they've made inroads far deeper than those of us who love freedom like to admit...and most of us are at a loss to comprehend or explain how that came to pass.

I've begun to think that habitat might provide the answer.

The concept of habitat as a locale whose characteristics conduce to the flourishing of particular species can be extended into the realm of abstractions. If a particular set of ideas must be established for persons whose livelihood depends on the widespread acceptance of those ideas to flourish, those ideas constitute a non-geographic sort of habitat: an ideological foundation which, when established among a populace, will permit persons whose ambitions they favor to rise in prosperity, prestige, and influence.

This sort of habitat is unlike the natural sort in a critical way: Those who desire to exploit it can take action to construct it.

There are many directions in which I could take this concept, but the one in which I have the greatest interest is the slow erection of a habitat for socialist premises and Big Government in the United States.

* * * * * * * * *

A country as large as the U.S. makes room for many sorts of ideas, and thus for communities dedicated to them. As early as the 1820s, persons such as Robert Owen and John Humphrey Noyes built communes -- proto-communist states -- within America's borders. Those, of course, were entirely voluntary communities; their members were free to depart at any time. Nevertheless, they constituted a womb for the embryonic theories they expressed in practice...theories which persons of more abstract bent, such as Marx and Engels, would develop to their full malignancy shortly thereafter.

It's not perfectly accurate nor entirely fair to those early utopians to call them socialists or Communists. They had a vision of a "good society" that they hoped to achieve by departing from the prevailing norms. Why they thought they could improve on conditions in the larger society around them isn't easy to determine. Though their experiments failed to provide the results they sought, the ideas they germinated did not fail to find supporters and promulgators.

A period of general prosperity is a tough one for promulgators of radical doctrines. When people are happy with their stations in life and the fruits of their labors, selling them on the notion that the society that made their advancements possible is wholly incorrect in its premises is almost impossible. Yet throughout the nineteenth century, socialist ideas kept a fingernail grip on just enough minds that when conditions for their dissemination became more favorable, there were dedicated, energetic promulgators available to spread them.

The period approximately from 1880 to 1900 saw a downturn in the fortunes of rural communities, at least in comparison to those of the rapidly industrializing cities. Though the records don't compel one conclusion over another, it's possible that the most important aspect of the economic tensions of those years was a nostalgia, among farm communities, for the time before the industrial surge -- a time when you didn't have to worry about how you'd "keep 'em on the farm," because the farm was essentially all there was. Rural families experienced significant "losses" to the centers of industry, where the prospect of quick riches glittered, while coping with the recognition that their own labors could not match the opulence available from the enterprises that clustered in the urban zones. Resentment, exacerbated by the inexcusable favoritism shown by Washington and the state governments to certain industries and the captains thereof, swelled.

That period saw the emergence of the Progressives, whose chief public face, William Jennings Bryan, was personally responsible for the largest political realignment yet observed in American history. But Bryan was little more than a poster boy for a set of ideas that were finding the resentments of the rural populace fertile soil from which to flower.

A few names:

  • Edward Bellamy
  • Jeremy Bentham
  • Lincoln Steffens
  • Jacob Riis
  • Upton Sinclair
  • Richard Ely
  • Colonel Edward House
  • Herbert Croly
  • Charles Sanders Peirce

These were the major promulgators of the socialist / Big Government ideas which, after careful laying of groundwork by the Theodore Roosevelt and Wilson Administrations, would burst forth from FDR's New Deal as a replacement doctrine for traditional American conceptions of individual freedom.

Convenient crises -- the Panic of 1906; World War I; the Great Depression -- played a part in this progression, beyond all question. But the ideas had to be "waiting in the wings," already well established in a sufficient number of Americans' minds and favorable to the ambitions of energetic, opportunistic men, to exploit them. That idea-foundation provided just enough habitat for the earliest acolytes of the Omnipotent State to flourish and expand.

* * * * * * * * * *

We've come a long way downhill since those critical decades. Today, the suggestion that there should be any topics, any areas of enterprise, or any venues of human interaction deemed off limits to the State is considered "controversial." Property is now considered conditional. A man's body is a thing to be regulated and "protected" by political force. Even freedom of speech is widely regarded as a charming vestige of a primitive time: something our forebears could tolerate, but which our "more complex era" cannot afford. In all things, the needs of the State come first -- and woe to him who thinks to stand in its way.

We stand upon the threshold of a complete rejection of the concept of individual freedom.

Amidst all this, we who love freedom speak of a vulpine "political class," no member of which can be trusted. We orate that it must somehow be removed from the levers of power, so that persons who genuinely love freedom and appreciate the importance of objective law can get to work at restoring those blessings. More openly than ever, sincere Americans, men of good will, mutter about the probable necessity of a Second American Revolution, aimed at deposing the current ruling class and restoring the Constitution in full and literal effect.

But wait: hearken first to Bertrand Russell:

Those who have seized power, even for the noblest of motives soon persuade themselves that there are good reasons for not relinquishing it. This is particularly likely to happen if they believe themselves to represent some immensely important cause. They will feel that their opponents are ignorant and perverse; before long they will come to hate them...The important thing is to keep their power, not to use it as a means to an eventual paradise. And so what were means become ends, and the original ends are forgotten except on Sundays.

Let's imagine for a moment that a revolution were to take place. Imagine further that it were to succeed in deposing our current political masters. Given the assumptions and ideas prevalent among Americans generally, what would most likely follow?

* * * * * * * * * *

It could be worse, of course:

In the end, the French and Dutch electorates voted No to the new [European] constitution. One recalls the T-shirt slogan popular among American feminists: "What part of 'No' don't you understand?" In the chancelleries of Europe, pretty much every part. At the time of the constitution referenda, the rotating European "presidency" was held by Luxembourg, a country slightly larger than your rec room. Jean-Claude Juncker, its rhetorically deranged prime minister and European "president," staggered around like a collegiate date-rape defendant, insisting that all reasonable persons understand that "Non" really means "Oui." As he put it before the big vote, "If it's a yes, we will say 'on we go,' and if it's a no we will say 'we continue.'"...

...For his part, the architect of the constitution -- the former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing -- was happy to pile on: why, even if the French and the Dutch had been boorish enough to want to vote no to the constitution, they would have been incapable of so doing, as the whole thing was designed to be way above their pretty little heads. "It is not possible for anyone to understand the full text," declared M. Giscard....The point is that his ingrate subjects had no need to read beyond the opening sentence: "We the people agree to leave it to you the people who know better than the people." [Mark Steyn, America Alone: The End of the world as We Know It

Europe, the majority of whose nation-states are nominal democracies, has proved utterly unable to shake off its masters, despite the well-established opposition of the majority of ordinary Europeans to them and their socialist-superstate scheme. The Old World has had longer to marinate in socialist and superstate ideas, though one might well wonder why the proximity of the largest failed socialist superstate in history hasn't dampened their affection for them. What those ordinary Europeans fail to grasp is that their demands on their governments, jointly and severally, constitute a demand for exactly what's being done to them. The ideological habitat of contemporary Europe is immensely favorable to authoritarianism, socialism, and the Omnipotent State, and ferociously hostile to freedom, capitalism, and national sovereignty.

And that is the direction in which the United States of America is headed.

* * * * * * * * * *

To destroy a species, or even to compel it to relocate, one must destroy its habitat. When the habitat exists in the minds of men, there is one and only one way to do that: ideological warfare.

There's little point to debating what income tax rates should be. There's even less point to carping about "too much regulation." We will not liberate this country by accepting the totalitarians' premises and then haggling over details.

But are enough of us properly armed and motivated for a true combat of ideas?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Newfs Aren't Just For Drooling

...and I have the proof right here!

(No, we don't plan to train Rufus the Newfus to do any such thing. Really, now: would you?)

Tension And Habitat Part 2: Thoughts On Tribe And Tribalism

First, my thanks to those of you who have written to express appreciation for the previous essay in this new series and to warn me that I've "painted a bull's-eye on my chest." I'm aware of the risks inherent in telling people things they don't want to hear; I'm also aware that the longer the "unspeakable truth," of whatever import, remains unspoken, the more damage will occur when those who have refused to face it are finally compelled to do so. In this and in all similar oppositions, I feel a personal moral obligation to take reality's side.

And yes, I am attempting to "sleep with one eye open."

* * * * * * * * * *

Owing to its associations with various aboriginal groupings around the world, there are few words with as unpleasant a connotation as tribe. Yet it remains exceptionally useful as an envelope within which to study the great importance of habitat and adaptation in human social organization and interaction.

Tribe, first of all, has nothing to do with race. All the races of the world form tribes. Sometimes those tribes are even multiracial. This distinction is critical to making use of the concept.

A tribe is a group with certain social and political characteristics:

  1. It possesses a set of criteria for determining who is (and who is not) a member;
  2. It demonstrates a substantial degree of cohesion over time;
  3. It prefers members to non-members in significant ways;
  4. It enforces a code of conduct upon members, whether formally or informally;
  5. It regards interaction and interpenetration with outsiders as occasions of elevated danger and opportunity.

From that definition, it follows that the tribe is the precursor of the organized political unit. The explicitly political unit's major distinction is that it has completely formalized its code of conduct, the penalties for violating it, and the mechanisms that enforce it. Yet we can see the outlines of the political unit, particularly the nation-state, in the characteristics and operation of the tribe.

What makes the tribe fascinating is the extent to which its formation derives from habitat.

The characteristics of a given locale will determine what sorts of life can flourish there. When some species become dominant in that locale is when we traditionally begin to refer to it as those species' habitat. But a habitat, as I argued in the previous essay, never ceases to operate in shaping the species that adopt it. One of the most obvious, yet least studied, aspects of a habitat's operation on its dominant species is in how it shapes whatever tribe might form there.

Remember that a tribe must exhibit both criteria for inclusion and cohesion over time. The most important determinants of these things are blood relationships and the distances over which individuals may practically travel, with the latter helping to shape the former. For example, a severe desert environment such as the contemporary Sahara sharply limits individuals' radius of travel; thus, tribes that form in that environment will tend to be geographically compact. A more life-tolerant environment such as Middle Europe will permit individuals to move more freely and at greater distances; thus, tribes that form there will on average be geographically more dispersed. As a population advances technologically, those radii can be expanded, but characteristics of the environment, such as great heat or lack of easily accessible resources, can retard such progress.

Critical to the understanding of tribes' political importance is the appreciation of how they function in relation to one another over time. The cohesive identity of a tribe causes it to resist subsumption in a larger unit. That resistance is not absolute; tribes have often allowed such subsumption, when given a sufficient reason, as in the case of the formation of the United States from the freshly liberated states. However, since a tribe's ways and traditions incorporate preferences for its own members, the interpenetration of tribes, for whatever reason, will sometimes eventuate in violence. Neighboring tribes that have a history of violent interactions will thus have two reasons to resist subsumption, one considerably more powerful than the other.

The degree of resistance particular tribes exhibit to subsumption and unification is what gives rise to the sizes and shapes of the political units we recognize as nation-states.

* * * * * * * * * *

Even after nation-states have formalized their legal systems and all that goes with them, whatever tribes they have subsumed will still exhibit tribal characteristics, at least for a while. In particular, members of a subsumed tribe will continue to prefer one another to the members of other subsumed tribes. In historical studies, this is often called sectionalism, but the geographical connotations of that word should not be allowed to lead us astray. After subsumption by a nation-state, the members of a tribe will often undergo some degree of internal dispersion. Yet they will continue to maintain tribal preferences as they disperse, until interpenetration and the slow process of binding to their new locales have had time to weaken them. Consider the resistance of various religious groups to exogamy as an illustration.

Should political incentives arise that reinforce tribal distinctions and preferences, havoc will ensue. A nation-state cannot endure under conditions of internal inter-tribal strife; as Abraham Lincoln put it, a house divided cannot stand. There must ultimately be either a convulsive reduction of the tribes to political passivity, for example by warfare, or a parting of the ways that dissolves the nation-state into two or more separate units, as happened after the British relinquished the rule of India.

A subsumed tribe reluctant to weaken its cohesion and its preferences, but unwilling to risk open conflict with the enveloping polity or with other subsumed tribes, will sometimes "go underground." That is: it will attempt to pull its distinctive characteristics and its methods for preferring members to non-members out of public view. This isn't always possible; when possible, it isn't necessarily easy. But it does occur, for example in the case of the Amish, the Mennonites, and similarly insular groups in American history.

Most fascinating of all, interior conflicts brought about by political forces can actually germinate new tribes within the nation-state. Those conflicts, and the nascent tribes they elicit, can arise from:

  • Legal privileges granted to some persons but not others;
  • National policies that have regionally, racially, sexually, ethnically, occupationally, religiously, or otherwise discriminatory effects;
  • De facto infringements or abridgements of the rights of recognizable groups.

When such forces cause new tribes to arise within an existing nation-state, their tribalism tends to be irruptive, disruptive...and sometimes violent. The extent to which they take hold and attract allegiants is the measure of their impact upon the health of such a nation, and the prospects for its continued existence.

* * * * * * * * * *

Tribalism is shorthand for the perpetuation of the preferences and practices of a tribe by those who are or were once its members. Among the politically most important aspects of tribalism is the behavior political scientists call particularism: the willingness to grant one's primary allegiance to the tribe in preference to the nation-state. When a tribe subsumed within a nation-state become restive, its members begin to be covertly particularist; when such allegiances become overt, open inter-tribal warfare becomes a real possibility.

There are far too many examples of such alignments in operation in the United States today to be complacent about them. In just the post-World War II decades, we have seen the emergence of tribes based on region (militias), on race (the Black Panthers, old and new), on religion (Muslims in America), on ethnicity (Aztlan, La Raza, et. al.), on gender (militant feminism), sexual orientation (don't get me started), disability (the "deaf culture"), and so forth. A fully cohesive polity would refuse such tribes the slightest degree of political recognition or legislative influence. Sadly, that has not been the case these past fifty years.

I contend that the greatest of all hazards to America's future inheres in the burgeoning tribalism / particularism we observe around us today. To the extent it prevails among us, we are no longer "One nation under God." Rather, we are an assemblage of mutually hostile tribes jockeying for advantage over one another, the ultimate effect of which can only be either the forcible suppression of some tribes by others or the political dissolution of the United States. If we wish not to be impaled on either of those tines of the political pitchfork, we must quench the forces that have given rise to the tribes among us. How that is to be done, I cannot say.

More anon.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Then and Now

As a student of history, your humble blogster is occasionally struck by parallels between current events and epochs of history. As an example, I call your attention to the similarity of war fever being fanned by the governing elite here in the US against Iran and Syria to the similar policies of the German government during the decade of the 1930s.

In both instances we find a ruling elite presiding over crippling economic conditions. For reasons of political  survival  that elite must divert its citizens' attention from declining living standards as well as a concomitant disappearance of formerly existing liberty.

In the case of Germany, the population was propagandized to view its cultural brethren in neighboring nations as victimized and oppressed by evil tyrants and in need of "liberation".

Those were the purported conditions obtaining in the Sudeten region of Czechoslovakia, the Rhineland and Poland.  After remilitarizing the Rhineland in 1936, seizing the Sudetenland and the rest of Czechoslovakia in 1938-9, a false flag incident at Gleiwitz on the German side of its border with Poland was staged as the pretext for invading that hapless nation. We all know how that turned out. In the present instance think: Straits of Hormuz.

Fast forward to recent history and we observe the mass media/government spokespersons (a redundancy) obsessing over human rights violations committed by the Syrian dictator as well as the supposed efforts of a bellicose nutcase Iranian regime to develop nuclear weapons. Couple this with the administration's failed efforts to convince US citizens of the existence of an economic "recovery" and there exists the possible perfect storm of conditions necessary for the commencement of another "military action" in order to enable the current US regime to remain in power.

Given the likely choice of protagonists in the upcoming contest for the US imperial throne, this writer can envision a serious debate over which candidate can most effectively lead the nation during wartime.

May Random Chance*  guide and deliver us through these trying times.

*Hopefully you, dear reader, will forgive this somewhat esoteric allusion to God. No blasphemy is intended.

cross posted at: Fighting in the Shade™

Tension And Habitat Part 1: Racial Tensions

In recent weeks, talk of an impending race war has become commonplace -- far more so than one would expect from the people of a deliberately multiracial, multi-ethnic nation. Moreover, in light of the multiple nationwide attacks on innocent Caucasians by Negroes (including gangs and impromptu bands of Negroes), it cannot be waved aside as mere scare-mongering. In short, though the probability is difficult to assess, a race war looks more likely today than ever before in American history.

Similarly, political forces have whipped up the notion of a "war on women" among left-leaning women. This is being done specifically for electoral advantage, but its effect cannot be contained to that subject alone. American women have been made steadily more aware that American men's overall opinion of them is considerably lower than their own. Thus, women are accumulating reasons to fear that genuine hostility is growing up between the sexes, perhaps to the point that men might soon seek to do women objective damage.

Not very pleasant thoughts, are they? No, I didn't think so.

Of course, quite a lot of this tension is propelled by political forces. Race tensions are deliberately fomented by race-hustlers such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who seek to enlarge their own public profiles and political influence thereby. Tensions between the sexes, though they've been rising since the emergence of gender-war feminism, are getting a big boost from the Democrats' need to run a negative campaign in this year of Our Lord 2012. Were it possible to subtract politics and political aspirations from the mix, racial and gender relations would be far more amicable than they are today.

However, even with current politics excluded, tensions would still exist. Groups as disparate as Caucasians and Negroes, or as men and women, must always feel some uncertainty about their standing with one another. Such uncertainty sometimes manifests itself in ugly ways.

I'm about to step out onto a slender limb, so I'll understand perfectly if you choose not to accompany me any further.

* * * * * * * * * *

A population acquires its group-generic characteristics from adapting to its habitat. Only after shifting to a substantially different habitat will those characteristics experience any pressure to change.

Among anthropologists, the above are non-controversial statements. However, if given specific application to race, they suddenly become "unspeakable truths," the sort of statement that can instantly trigger denunciation, ostracism, or worse. Yet they remain true, and possess great explanatory power.

For example, the Negro race originated in the world's hotter, wetter climates. Energy and water are the fundamentals of life on Earth: the more of them are available in a given locale, the more abundant will life be in that locale. This, too, is non-controversial. So the Negro race's origins are in a habitat where life of all sorts was plentifully supplied with its basic necessities: the jungle.

The jungle is a very dangerous place specifically because it teems with life of all sorts, from microbes to giant predators. Technology can make it more survivable, but the dangers cannot be eradicated without eradicating the jungle itself. For a non-technological or pre-technological population, the dangers cannot easily be addressed through defensive measures. If a jungle population is to survive, it must grow faster than it's being worn down by the hazards of its habitat. This impels two adaptations:

  • Tribalism;
  • A high birth rate.

A tribal allegiance attempts to marshal a defense against both predatory species and competing tribes. A high birth rate attacks the problem of loss of population to predation and disease. Both of these characterized pre-technological jungle societies. (In a fascinating parallel, we can see race-independent, slightly weaker forms of these adaptations in pre-technological farming communities in the colonial-era United States.)

The Caucasian race, wherever it may have germinated, spread swiftly through the more temperate climates of the world. Less energy and less water meant less life, and therefore less exposure to the hazards of predation and disease than obtain in the jungle. Thus, the pressure on pre-technological Caucasians to form small, tightly-bound tribes and produce large numbers of infants was less than on their Negro cousins. Caucasian societies tended toward larger, more inclusive structures; Caucasian birth rates tended to be less than those of Negroes. Thousands of years of adaptation to their respective habitats cemented these differences rather firmly.

Adaptations of this sort tend to persist for some time even when the environmental pressures that evoked them have been altered, whether by technology or relocation. The new conditions "need time" to work on the adapted population through natural selection. That usually takes several generations, at least. More, the re-adaptation can be slowed or thwarted by other forces, which has happened to both Caucasians and Negroes.

* * * * * * * * * *

When Caucasians penetrated to interior Africa, they brought their technology with them. Along with the survival pressures that militate toward tribalism and a high birth rate, jungle conditions also impede the development of technology. In consequence, the new arrivals weren't only lighter-skinned; they also commanded machines and tools of considerably greater power than those wielded by the indigenes. The Euro-colonization of Africa could not have happened otherwise; neither could the persistence of recognizably European enclaves, which mimicked European communities of the Old World nations from which their populaces derived. The imported technology allowed Europeans in Africa to resist the pressures to which the indigenous populations had adapted willy-nilly.

Early tensions between black and white arose not merely from anatomical differences, but from the difference Europeans' imported technology made to their way of life and their ability to impose themselves on the natives. Hilaire Belloc's quatrain:

Whatever happens,
We have got
The Maxim gun,
And they have not.

...has more explanatory power than any number of socio-anthropological treatises.

This inequality in technological mastery compelled the Euro-colonists to seek a rationale for the dominance it conferred upon them. Rudyard Kipling's famous poem "White Man's Burden" is probably the best known expression of that rationale. It wasn't abhorred then, nor should it have been; it merely expressed the difference, so great as to be qualitative, between the moral and social outlooks of the two races Euro-imperialism had thrown together. Indeed, Europeans generally viewed the elevation of the Negro race to equal moral and social stature as a God-given responsibility, regardless of what it might demand from the Caucasian peoples.

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were untroubled by our twenty-first century notions about absolute human equality.

* * * * * * * * * *

The institution of slavery proved a devastating intrusion into the generally benign system of Euro-imperialism. When Caucasian slavers started cooperating with Negro slavers -- yet another "unspeakable truth" -- it became much more difficult for colonial powers that tolerated the slave trade to pose as wholly benign. (They'd never been "wholly" benign in any event; the desire to profit from the natural resources of the colonized lands had been an incentive to colonization from the first.) Slavery is always a benefit solely to a small, highly privileged group; a power that tolerates it has implicitly aligned itself with the interests of that group. Thus, even in African colonies where Euro-colonization had won substantial "buy-in" from native populations, the colonial power suffered a severe setback in its relations with the Negro population.

(Note that this effect never touched India, though the British ruled it for more than a century. The British Empire did not tolerate the sale of Indians to foreign slave traders, though somewhat milder forms of "domestic" enslavement persisted even under Imperial rule. In consequence, Indians' attitudes toward the British Empire remained moderately favorable even after Mohandas Gandhi started the nativist movement that eventuated in Indian self-rule.)

There was worse to come. Caucasian involvement in the enslavement of Negroes started the admixture of the races in majority-Caucasian nations on the worst imaginable race-relations terms. The effects would persist for many decades; as Demosthenes once said, once you have destroyed a man, it's no simple matter to make him whole again. Nothing is more destructive to good will or the human spirit than slavery. Even the invocation of remote memories of the era of slavery is sufficient to mobilize Negro animosity toward Caucasians, including Caucasians who haven't even an ancestral involvement in the vile practice.

The Negro who crossed the ocean in chains went from his African habitat, the innate ferocity of which had adapted his people toward a tribal outlook and a high birth rate, to a temperate habitat where he was regarded as property: a rightless sub-human who existed for the convenience and profit of his owner. Even should he somehow attain freedom, his incentives for adapting to his new habitat and emulating the practices of the Caucasian majority were minuscule at best. Indeed, he had good reason to feel he was owed by those who had placed him in bondage.

* * * * * * * * * *

In the United States in our time, the "legacy of slavery" is mostly a cant phrase by which race-hustlers hope to exacerbate racial tensions for political advantage. It does have some effect, but time and the gradual accession of American Negroes to social and economic equality with American Caucasians have devalued it substantially. It's not nearly as potent a divisor as one of the most poignantly well-intentioned yet destructive social policies of all time: welfare.

Federal and state welfare programs do not differentiate the eligibility criteria nor the available benefits according to the race of the beneficiary. Even so, welfarism has had an effect on American Negroes far beyond what it exerted on American Caucasians. The reason is not far to seek.

Welfarism -- the distribution by a government of material benefits to private persons according to legal criteria -- requires a bureaucracy. A welfare bureaucracy incorporates the same sort of incentives as any other bureaucracy: it needs employees dedicated to its purposes, and external supporters who will fight to protect and expand the bureaucracy's mission. The administrators of newborn welfare systems were aware of this, as are all persons in such positions. Therefore, they swiftly sought prospective client populations upon whom they could bestow benefits. The best "hunting grounds" for such populations were in the largest American cities.

Among the tragedies of the post-Civil War period was the reaction of the cities to the subsequent migration of Negroes toward urban areas, as they sought economic opportunity. Before that diaspora, the cities of the North were largely economically free; in reaction to the influx of Negro labor, they erected legal barriers to economic self-sufficiency that earlier immigrants had not faced. The completion of those barriers would take decades, but step by step, city governments opted to "protect" existing corporations and their pre-existent merchant classes from the newcomers arriving from the South.

The consequence was the steady concentration of the cities' Negro populations into economically depressed zones: ghettoes. Whereas earlier Caucasian immigrants arriving in the port cities had found a freewheeling economic environment in which any man could immediately begin hawking his trade or his wares, America's internal migrants confronted massive difficulties. This even extended to getting employment; the progressive constriction of the cities' economies by regulation put a discouraging pressure on business formation, expansion, and hiring.

Urban Negro ghettoes were thus perfect targets for welfare workers eager to sign large numbers of clients up for the benefits from the new welfare systems. Indeed, so eager were the bureaucracies to enlist this large potential clientele that they established quiet preferential policies for hiring representatives of such ghettoes into their work forces. Owing to their economic disadvantages, those ghetto populations were unusually receptive to the suggestion that they had a "right" to government support. Few stopped to think through the probable effects on their futures, or on the futures of their communities as functioning components in a capitalist society. No one, with the possible exception of one or two exceptionally farsighted analysts, gave a thought to the retardant effect welfare would have on American Negroes' need to adapt to the nation's "habitat:" its social, economic, and political norms.

Every statistical difference in pathologies between America's Caucasian and Negro populations derives, at least in part, from this progression.

* * * * * * * * * *

Economic separation begets cultural alienation, which is amplified by any tendency toward tribal allegiances. Though the Negro influence on American culture before the burgeoning of welfare was largely agglutinative and positive, its more recent outcroppings have been quite the opposite. In retrospect, it's easy for us of the twenty-first century to laugh at the scare-mongers who shrieked that "jazz is destroying our youth." Those folks should be happy they didn't live to experience rap or hip-hop.

Today, the most prominent aspects of what the media term "black culture" are militantly anti-Caucasian and anti-American. Ironically, by far the greater number of American Negroes has adopted traditional American norms about self-reliance, responsibility, and civic virtue. Indeed, it's a mistake and an injustice to speak of "black America" as if it were a monolithic entity; it's quite sharply divided internally by differential adoption of American norms. But the militants, the demanders of reparations, and the promulgators of overtly anti-American sentiments, get nearly all the air time and column inches.

Racial solidarity is a known phenomenon in all the conventionally recognized races. Though the degree varies, persons of race X will feel an inclination to "protect" their anomalous elements, including overt lawbreakers, against prosecution by persons outside race X. Inasmuch as it's as likely as not that an "anomaly" is the child of one who has successfully adapted to the nation's norms, the consequence pits respectable, law-abiding Negroes against respectable, law-abiding Caucasians, in the service of persons who feel contempt for the former and outright hatred for the latter.

Is it any wonder that there should be racial tension? Is it any wonder, given that our major media have made it their policy to suppress news of black-on-white crimes while aggressively promoting white-on-black crimes (and pseudo-crimes), that there should be so much talk about an impending race war?

* * * * * * * * * *

There is no Last Graf. America's social policies are so tightly intertwined with the political efforts of special interests that they constitute a Gordian knot. They cannot be unraveled; they must be cut. But slashing apart so large a system, with so many beneficiaries of so many kinds, will take more courage and more resolve than any contemporary American politician possesses. It is the recognition of the insolubility of the problem that, in my estimation, accounts for the recent willingness to speak openly of a possible race war: an armed struggle to reserve the American habitat for one race only.

War, as Sir John Slessor said, is horrible, but not the most horrible of things. Here and there, Americans of all races are beginning to wonder whether a race war, at the end of which one race would be expelled (if not expunged) from the United States, would be less horrible than the perpetuation of today's highly tense, morally indefensible, sporadically violent conditions. Which way of thought will prevail, I cannot foresee. Should such a war come, what would determine its form, the level of its carnage, or its ultimate outcome, I fear to imagine.

More anon.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Our "Brave New World"

As Frantz Fanon said, “Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”

“The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.” From "Matrix" the film.

Paul Craig Roberts

That is Mr Roberts dollar's worth of input. I say dollar, due to the fact that since the introduction of the Federal Reserve in 1913 it is now worth just over 2 cents.

The US now has an acknowledged national debt approaching 16 trillion dollars  which exceeds the GDP and congress will be raising the legal limit on it later THIS year at the behest of the teleprompter jesus. The taxpayers will not tolerate a substantial increase in taxes to fund all of the idiotic bullshit we have come to demand from Mordor on the Potomac and thus 40% of all annual  government spending is borrowed on the bond market requiring payment of interest kept artificially manageable by Mr. Bernanke. As of March, 2012 61% of these US Treasury bonds are purchased by the Federal Reserve. Where does the Federal Reserve obtain the funds to purchase those bonds? It PRINTS them!

There is however, an increasingly utilized "tool" which the Federal government has had in its bag since enactment of the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 . Fail to report to the Federal government on form #8300 a cash transaction of $10,000.00 or more or even deposit in your bank account a sum less than you received in income and you may expect a visit from Federal agents  as well as the account being seized. Of course in these cases you must prove your innocence instead of vice versa as required by our increasingly irrelevant Constitution and meanwhile you have no financial resources to hire legal counsel.

Welcome to the "Brave New World" of the USSA.
cross posted at: Fighting in the Shade™

Fascinating Revelations Dept.

I don't often have the experience of confronting something so bizarre that I simply must have confirmation of its reality. I had it this morning:
"But amid the bad news and pressures of late 2009, the trip unexpectedly passed like a brief, happy fantasy for the president, a Nordic alternate reality where citizens were learned and pensive, discussions were thoughtful, and everyone was a fan. "It wasn't hero worship," said one adviser who accompanied them. "Okay, it was."

For one day, the Obamas lived in the dream version of his presidency instead of the depressing reality. At meals and receptions, they mingled with the members of the Royal Academy – government officials, academics…

[In his speech, the president] laid out standards that he privately must have known he would not reach. "The United States of America must remain a standard-bearer in the conduct of war," he said. "That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America's commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions." He did not acknowledge that the effort to close Guantanamo was failing or address the questions of whether his detention policies violated those guidelines. "We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals we fight to defend," he said. It was as if he had pressed some sort of rewind button to 2008.

The trip spurred a thought the Obamas and their friends would voice to each other again and again as the president's popularity continued to decline: the American public just did not appreciate their exceptional leader. The president "could get 70 or 80 percent of the vote anywhere but the U.S." [President Obama's old friend] Marty Nesbitt told [another old friend of Obama] Eric Whitaker indignantly."

And that's not all, Gentle Reader:

Obama had always had a high estimation of his ability to cast and run his operation. When David Plouffe, his campaign manager, first interviewed for a job with him in 2006, the senator gave him a warning: "I think I could probably do every job on the campaign better than the people I'll hire to do it," he said. "It's hard to give up control when that's all I've known." Obama said nearly the same thing to Patrick Gaspard, whom he hired to be the campaign's political director. "I think I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters," Obama told him. "I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm gonna think I'm a better political director than my political director."

Both those passages appear in Jodi Kantor's apparently authorized biography "The Obamas:"

What can we conclude from these revelations in the light of Thomas Sowell's exceedingly well argued thesis in "The Vision Of The Anointed:" That the political Left (when not consciously venal or vicious) regards itself as intellectually and morally superior to anyone not on the Left?

There's a principle in jurisprudence that gives presumptive weight to what's called "a declaration against penal interest." That is: If a witness testifies in a fashion that exposes him to a legal hazard that would otherwise leave him untouched, the jury is supposed to grant his statement the presumption of truth. Considering the enormous implications of the two passages above, I'm minded to give Miss Kantor's reportage that presumption, even if she does write for the New York Times.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Duopolists

Few things in politics are as regular as the denunciation of minor
parties by the allegiants of the major parties:

"They're political locusts, noisy and bothersome as they emerge like
clockwork from their hidey holes. We're talking "third partiers," and
they find presidential elections irresistible, so brace yourself,
America. You are about to be swarmed by those much holier than thou.

"Their four-year life cycle means third partiers disappear between
elections, but, as usual, they are now climbing onto their soapboxes to
declare that neither major-party candidate is acceptable to their
refined tastes. They alone are looking for the last, best leader of the
free world.

"The rest of us, on the other hand, are zombies being hoodwinked by
Democrats and Republicans, so third partiers are here to save us from
our stupid selves. You know, like better angels and public-television

The author of the above, Michael Goodwin, is generally sensible on
specific matters of public policy, but in the cited column he reveals
that he suffers from a rather common political malady: he fails to
understand that there are reasons to cast a ballot OTHER than to elect a
particular candidate. Indeed, in his very next paragraph, he reveals the
cause of his infection:

"The noisy demand for other choices is a post-primary ritual, and the
most predictable part is that the pols the elitists find acceptable all
share one thing: They are unelectable. What a coincidence!"

(Elitists, eh? That's ironic, embedded as it is in the midst of a
contemptuous dismissal of those who don't share Goodwin's parimutuel
view of elections. But perhaps I should stay on point.)

Note the critical word: UNELECTABLE. Goodwin's entire tirade rests on
that word. In his view, if a candidate is "unelectable," then there's no
reason to vote for him.

True, third-party candidates seldom win elections. It happens, now and
then, but only once has a third party elected a president. Of course,
that president -- Abraham Lincoln -- was somewhat consequential, but no
matter. The usual venue for a third-party victory is in a local election
for a town or county functionary.

But third-party candidacies can sway an election's results. Indeed,
Goodwin makes mention of Ross Perot's candidacy in 1992, which is
credited with having given the White House to Bill Clinton. In 2000,
Democrats blamed Pat Buchanan's presidential candidacy for costing Al
Gore the state of Florida, and therefore the election. In 2008, Norm
Coleman lost his United States Senate seat to comedian Al Franken by a
margin smaller than the number of votes cast for Libertarian candidate
Charles Aldrich. Similar cases abound.

I contend that each such event is a moment for introspection and
correction by the candidate who feels he "ought to" have won. Why did
those precious votes go to an "unelectable" candidate? Why didn't those
voters realize that they were "throwing away" their ballots by casting
them thus? Why didn't they "do the right thing" and vote for the
electable lesser of two evils, as good Americans are supposed to do?

The questions practically answer themselves. Those third-party voters
were expressing an opinion that, if heeded, might have given the
defeated candidate the office he sought. That opinion: "You're not good
enough for us."

George H. W. Bush didn't lose the White House because votes that were
properly his were somehow misdirected to Ross Perot; he lost it because
he'd broken virtually every promise he'd made while campaigning for the
presidency in 1988. Conservative voters who felt an obligation to vote,
but whose consciences forbade them to vote for a president who'd
betrayed his trust, expressed their convictions with third-party votes:
for Perot; for Libertarian candidate Andre Marrou, for Constitution
Party candidate Howard Phillips, and others who received lesser totals.

Third parties are one of the few vehicles disgusted voters can use to
express that disgust. Indeed, the closer to one another the Republican
and the Democrat candidate become in policy prescriptions and overall
philosophy of governance, the more Americans will choose neither, and
will make it plain with a third-party ballot. The extreme effort the
major parties have exerted to prevent third parties from receiving
visibility that could confer "legitimacy" on them speaks volumes to this
effect. If they could do so, the kingmakers of the major parties would
contrive to deny ballot access to anyone but their own candidates. An
impermeable duopoly of the electoral process would suit them far better
than our current, wide-open scheme.

There are occasions when the stakes are so extraordinarily high that a
third-party ballot is unwise -- when the lesser of the two major-party
evils must be installed in office, because the alternative is bringing
disaster down upon the nation. The elections of 2012 strike me as such
an occasion, for which reason I'll hold my nose and vote straight-ticket
Republican this coming November. But under other circumstances, I'd
disdain to vote for managerial-statist Republican Mitt Romney for
president; I'd direct my ballot to a candidate whose principles more
closely accord with my own.

Voting, by which we express our willingness to confer power on a
candidate, is always a matter of conscience. No columnist has the
authority to override that still small voice. Don't allow them to sway
you from the course your conscience directs.


FWP: (belches) Gahh.
CSO: Tummy troubles again?
FWP: Yeah. But why? All we had last night was a salad.
CSO: Don't forget the four Oreos.
FWP: Wow! What a great name for a neo-Motown group!
CSO: "The Four Oreos?"
FWP: Yeah!
CSO: Two white guys in blackface and two black guys in whiteface?
FWP: Now you're rockin'!
CSO: But would they?
FWP: Probably not.

That exchange took place at 5:10 AM. Repeat it at your own risk. There are no warranties, express or implied.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Some God Questions

Relax, relax. I'm NOT about to take on that role myself! It's just that there's a fascinating article at Fox News this morning:

"Neuroscience knows a great deal about how the brain works during a variety of spiritual experiences, ranging from meditation to near-death to the mystical sense of oneness. Knowledge made firm by well-established brain mechanisms that have stood the scientific test over time.

Against our intuition, we now clearly see that spiritual experience of many varieties is inextricably bound to our primal brain. When we consider the brain's majesty, things like Beethoven's symphonies and Einstein's theories come to mind. However, this grandeur blinds us to the brain's prime purpose-to keep us alive....

Of course science can't explain everything about the brain, including spirituality.

Beyond science's boundaries we discover faith. When transcending science's limits, we must keep in mind that like knowledge, faith too resides within the brain since nothing is known of experience outside the brain.

Many neuroscientists, like Thomas Metzinger, hold that the brain with its own processes is incapable of fully understanding itself. The brain thereby finds itself enveloped in "a special form of darkness."...

Do cold hard science facts suck the nectar from our spiritual potential? I think not, for it seems to me we are poised on the threshold of an era holding promise for the birth of a new kind of wisdom. Such wisdom steels us against false hopes shielded by false science. A wisdom that dispels the "scientific proof" that out-of-body experience evidences consciousness outside the brain, or that near-death experience "proves" a return from death possible or life after death. These assertions rightfully belong in the province of personal faith, not the realm of science."

How refreshing: A scientist, and moreover one in a "hard" field that explores questions with objective answers (could we but know them), who admits to the limits, not merely on his own comprehension, but on science itself! There are some, clearly, but I get the sense that most of them prefer to keep their convictions to themselves.

Faith doesn't come to all of us in exactly the same fashion. Indeed, it doesn't come to all of us, period. Some reach it through a process of exaltation, perhaps through art or music. Others of other inclinations yearn for it, but must fight their way past the many obstacles that rationality and the human experience pose to belief. Still others simply accept the Bible story without objection, make it the core of their lives from early on, and are never troubled by the carpings of the anti-theists.

Because it's neither provable nor disprovable, faith is the ultimate mixed bag.

Alongside that, allow me to quote a recent review of my novel "On Broken Wings" ( ):

"Again Porretto has the courage to ask life's major questions: what is religion? What is love? When is it okay to kill? What is God? What happens when we die? What do we owe our fellow man? What do we owe ourselves?"

(It's an extremely flattering review, and I wish its author had left an email address so that I might thank her for it. Ah, well. We don't always get what we want, and that's not always a bad thing.)

The part that made my ears prick up was "What is God?" If you recall the piece I wrote about definitions -- go to if you don't -- the point of definition is to establish the criteria for inclusion in a category. Since God is, by postulate, unique, any attempt to define Him intensively would be internally contradictory. However, we can theorize with fair confidence about certain of His attributes, which is another approach to the exploration of His nature and our relation to Him.

Faith is, of course, a prerequisite: at minimum, faith that God exists (whatever "exists" means in application to a Being we cannot probe by material or temporal methods). But given that much faith -- alternately, that much willingness to suspend disbelief for the sake of an interesting inquiry into the likelihood of a supernatural realm -- it becomes possible to ask other questions of import. For example:

  • Why did God create the universe?
  • Does God experience time in any meaningful sense?
  • Is there only one valid "God story," or might there be more?
  • Does Man stand in a special relation to God? If so, what is it?
  • Is there a Divine Plan? If so, is it possible for mortal Man to know it?

One of the blessings of our time is that intelligent people with the required modicum of intellectual courage, such as neurologist Dr. Kevin Nelson, who authored the Fox News article cited above, can actually discuss such things with no fear of being burned at the stake, regardless of their conclusions, doubts, or reservations. It was not always thus. Indeed, we should remain mindful that, given Man's habit of attempting to impose his views on others by force, it's not impossible that the hazards once associated with such undertakings will return in some darker future age.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Great American

Like many others of my generation, I've been inundated with progaganda slurring various persons and organizations that have opposed the century's trend toward the centralization of power in Washington, the usurpation of extra-Constitutional powers, and the reduction of American sovereignty to a charming vestige under an internationalist order wholly opposed to American ideals.

Why have we been so inundated? We should have known the reason was sinister:

There have always been true Americans. There have always been Americans who understood both the games being played and the stakes at risk. And there have always been low persons determined that the nation view them as persons with a low and evil agenda of their own.

Decide for yourself.

Eternity Road Archives Are Becoming Available

The first segment of the Eternity Road Archives has been mailed out to everyone who:

  • Has declared a desire for them, and:
  • Whose email address I possess.

But there's a problem: Some of you who've asked for the Archives did so through the commenting system here, which does not pass email addresses along with the comments.

As I've lost my old Address Book -- a consequence of some bad decisions about Microsoft Outlook -- I can't use my former knowledge of your email addresses (such as I possessed) to contact you. Therefore I must ask you: If you want the ER Archives, please send me your email address via email, not through the comments here.

If you've mislaid it -- hey, I'm not the only one around here who loses things -- my address is

fran -- dot -- porretto -- commercial "at" sign -- yahoo -- dot -- com

Write me, and I'll be happy to oblige you.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Politics, Money, Race, George Zimmerman, And 2012

It's always a mistake to be too certain about one's prognostications...but there are days when the course of events seems both crystal clear and firmly set.

Just in case you've spent the past thirty years on Tristan da Cunha without an Internet connection, there's a presidential election campaign in progress here in the U. S. of A. The incumbent is one of the least popular presidents in recent history, while his putative challenger is about as inspiring as soggy Wonder Bread® But the year is divisible by four, and the news rags have been slavering over the prospect of this election ever since The Won was deified raised to the presidency, so they have to write about it as if it were a world heavyweight championship fight. Their challenge, of course, is to find an angle that won't elicit either snorts or snores.

The easy answer is to write about the fundraising efforts of the two contestants:

President Barack Obama's re-election effort enjoyed a 10-to-1 financial edge over Republican rival Mitt Romney last month, out-raising the former Massachusetts governor by millions as Obama stuffed more than $104 million into his campaign war chest.

A nasty primary battle between Romney and his GOP rivals took a financial toll on his presidential campaign, which raised $12.6 million in March and left Romney with about $10 million in the bank by month's end. All told, Obama and the Democratic Party raised a combined $53 million in donations during that period, while Romney with his party pulled in about half of that.

Still, an anticipated fire hose of cash from major Republican "super" political committees and the Republican Party is likely to bring some financial parity to the general election, for which Romney only recently started collecting donations. Super PACs like American Crossroads and its nonprofit arm, Crossroads GPS, raised $100 million this election cycle, and the groups plan to flood the airwaves in coming months with ads critical of Obama.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I have only one question: Do dollars win elections?

In the past, the consensus has been that a funding advantage equates to an electoral advantage. The logic of the thing is that funding translates to publicity, to popular outreach, and to lionization pieces about the candidate. The buried assumption is that these things are necessarily constructive. What if the candidate is already overexposed and roundly disliked?

Has there ever been a president as overexposed as Barack Hussein Obama? Has there ever been a public figure so determined to substitute public relations for perfomance, rhetoric for results? Indeed, has there ever been a high official whose self-glorification is so at odds with his record in power?

Would expensively expanded and intensified PR really help such a candidate?

Think about it.

* * *

The Left's rhetorical thrust in 2008 was that "if you vote against Obama, you must be a racist." The Right's riposte today is that "if you vote for Obama, you must be an idiot." Neither assertion is quite perfectly on the mark, though the latter contains more than a grain of truth.

However, race will be a factor in this election. Moreover, it will weigh against Obama, both in propria persona and through the actions of his chief lieutenants, most notably Attorney-General Eric Holder. These two men have racialized public policy and public administration so thoroughly that the most important factor about any target or supplicant of the federal government is his race -- and Americans are generally aware of this.

Just so there's absolutely no doubt about it: I am a racist. That is: I am persuaded on the basis of objective evidence that as statistical aggregates, the conventionally recognized races currently differ in several measurable ways. Moreover, all other things being equal I prefer members of my own race (Caucasian) as friends, colleagues, neighbors, companions, lovers, and business partners; I uphold the absolute right, under freedom of association, for any individual of any race to do the same. So call me a racist if you like; it rolls right off my back, as you can see.

However, I am not a political racist. I stand squarely against any suggestion that the law, or the political system, should treat members of different races differently. If individuals are not equal before the law, then the law itself is a fiction, merely a shield for the oppression of some by others.

Obama, Holder, and others in the Obamunist cadre have revealed themselves as political racists. The first indications came in the 2008 presidential campaign; there have been many since. The most recent one, which seems likely to have a massive effect on voting patterns this coming November, is the prosecution of George Zimmerman for the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

The prosecution has no case. It has no evidence, whether witness-provided or circumstantial, with which to counter Zimmerman's claim of self-defense. Moreover, there is substantial evidence, both witness-provided and circumstantial, to the effect that the thing went down exactly as Zimmerman has said. But prosecutrix Angela Corey appears to have latched onto this case as her shot at glory. Perhaps she's never heard the name of Michael Nifong; if not, she's sure to hear it soon.

All the usual racialist flacksters have entered the ring, including Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. If that alone isn't a giveaway about the weakness of the accusations against Zimmerman, I can't imagine what would do the job. But wait: there's more! Barack Hussein Obama himself, not content with having smeared a Massachusetts policeman as having "acted stupidly" in the 2009 Henry Louis Gates matter, has leaped into this melee too: "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon."

The arrogance of Negro racialists has risen so high that they feel perfectly confident about preconvicting a Caucasian for having killed a Negro. More, when they leap outside the boundaries of law, as the New Black Panthers did in putting a dead-or-alive bounty on Zimmerman's head, their allegiants inside the justice system simply ignore it. But inasmuch as Eric Holder decreed that the case against that very group for voter intimidation be dropped even though the Justice Department had already won the case, that was entirely to be expected.

Unless true justice should somehow prevail, George Zimmerman might soon become the sort of racial sacrificial lamb Andrew Klavan wrote about in his novel True Crime.

* * *

And now, a few words from Fred Reed:

Our racial policy has proved a disaster. Sixty years after Brown vs. the School Board, blacks have not assimilated. They constitute a separate people having almost nothing in common with the surrounding European society. They fiercely maintain their identity with their own music, dialect, customs, dress, and names. All attempts to turn them into middle-class whites in darker packaging have failed. Only relentless governmental pressure forces an appearance of partial integration....

Whites are frightened of blacks. They are afraid of taking the wrong exit from the freeway and ending up in a black ghetto. They are afraid when they pass young black males in a dark neighborhood. White women clutch their purses and cross the street, try not to get into elevators with them. The fear, seldom mentioned, determines where whites live, where they go, and where they send their children to school.

This unacknowledged fear engenders unacknowledged consequences. When white men buy guns, journalistic organs of that prissy rectitude we call political correctness—the Washington Post, probably National Review—speak of gun nuts, psychosexual inadequacies, and sordid fantasies. Hardly. The purchasers of guns have in mind defending their families should the need arise. The buyers do not fear attack by Jewish violinists....

A spring is being wound. On one hand, when you live in a sprawling tightly packed concentration of people like yourself, it is easy to forget that you are very much a minority, that the majority holds all the high cards, and that food doesn’t really come from Safeway.

On the other hand, via the internet whites now know of the racial attacks, and grow quietly very sick of them. There is among many white men an undercurrent of “Bring it on.” This is not confined merely to cops, soldiers, conservatives, Southerners, westerners, the rural and the blue-collar. You can find it, carefully hidden, in federal offices and even among men in newsrooms. The extent of this sentiment is easy to underestimate. Those who share it don’t dare express it, and most journalists live in ideological bubbles.

We must lynch Zimmerman.

What are the odds, given the efforts of the Jacksons and Sharptons and the participation of vicious racialists ensconced in the highest of high offices, that it will work out any other way?


Friday, April 20, 2012

Challenge And Response

Yes, Virginia: There is a Republican Party establishment, though it might not function exactly as you've imagined:

"Conservative insurgents pose serious threats this year to establishment Republicans in at least three open-seat Senate races. In every case, political action committees and lobbyists have hugely favored the establishment pick with contributions. One reason: The GOP establishment rallies industry donors behind the Republican seen as stronger in November. A deeper reason: The revolving-door clique of K Street and Capitol Hill operatives needs Republicans elected to upper chamber who are likely to play ball.

"We don't need a lot of Jim DeMint disciples," former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said last election cycle. "As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them." Lott is now a millionaire corporate lobbyist whose clients include bailout beneficiaries like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, subsidy sucklers like General Electric and for-profit colleges and government contractors like Raytheon. He likes Republicans who don't take their limited-government talk so darn seriously -- team players who won't rock the boat, in part because they are eying K Street jobs after retirement.

Where does South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint fit in? His Senate Conservatives Fund in 2010 helped insurgent conservatives beat establishment Republicans in Florida, Kentucky, Nevada, Colorado and Pennsylvania. Also bringing money to the Tea Party wing is the Club for Growth, which figured in all those races and also helped overthrow notorious Utah porker Sen. Bob Bennett in favor of conservative stalwart Mike Lee. Lee, Pat Toomey, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul aren't exactly "disciples" of DeMint, but they are decidedly not the products of K Street."

Longtime classical-liberal commentator Jeff Goldstein has a few choice words to say about these Republican Party establishment proclivities:

"You know what? Screw it. Let the Trent Lotts and the John McCains and the Mitch McConnells — and the big business interests they represent — have the damn thing....

The establishment GOP is feckless and, in an important ideological sense, corrupt to its core. It's time it went the way of the Whigs.

The progressives, because they are more committed to the ideology of fascism, will ultimately sink this country. The modern GOP establishment, for its part, will watch and try to profit around the edges until the last bit of graft gets gobbled up by the cynical scavengers who mouth conservative platitudes while working diligently to push a ruling class agenda.

Me, I'm preparing for the rebuild. The best part of which will be when I find Trent Lott, bitch slap him, and take back a good bit of our stuff."

To which I must reply: Preparing for the rebuild how, Jeff? Are you at work on the founding of a third political party, dedicated to classical-liberal / libertarian-conservative principles, that can rise to major-party status and eventually displace the GOP? Because that's an "oaks, not mushrooms" sort of undertaking: it requires a profound commitment and quite a lot of endurance. The most recent attempts, the Libertarian and Constitution Parties, failed rather dramatically...and there's still a lot of argument over the reasons.

We who love freedom are naturally appalled by Trent Lott's sentiments as quoted above. They make it clear that our supposed political representatives cannot be trusted -- that relying entirely upon them, unconstrained and uncorrected, is likely to lead to dismay and destruction. But it is in the nature of the fundamental laws of politics and power that this will eventually be the case in any organization whose central purpose is to get its candidates elected:

They who seek power over others will always be those to whom power over others is all that matters.

That dynamic, which operates in all places and times, is what has corrupted both political parties. Look at the history of the two parties, not merely at their current decayed states. Time was, they were both pro-freedom, separated merely by a few aspects of policy. The resemblance was so great that Oliver Wendell Holmes was moved to write that "all Americans are Liberals, to one degree or another."

Time was.

For the moment, our task is to buy time. Is the collapse of the Republic so imminent that there's no point in trying to save it? If so, then it would be better to allow Obama to complete the destruction, so that the true causes will be unconcealable. But I dissent from that premise. I think the United States, as badly abused as it's been and as far as it's strayed from the principles of its founding, has a decade or more left in it -- time in which we who understand and love freedom should labor tirelessly to build a replacement for the political organizations that have betrayed us.

Therefore: Support the Republicans for now, and allow Romney a turn in the Oval Office...and prepare a party to replace the GOP, and a candidate worthy to replace Romney in 2020, if not 2016.

A Simplex Complex

Nowhere on Earth is there a more complex creature -- more involute of mind, or more elaborate of emotions -- than the American male of adult responsibilities. This fact causes American women quite a lot of agita. The agita arises from frustration. A typical expression of that frustration can be found here:

"Women try to interpret what guys do as though it means something more. They're simple creatures, but when they do or say something we don't particularly like, we go one of two ways, depending on our relationship status. If we barely know them, we give them the benefit of the doubt and THEN SOME. If we've been in a relationship with them for years, any little thing they say or do that isn't exactly WHAT we want to hear WHEN and HOW we want to hear it, they're an asshole who doesn't understand us and our relationship is a mess."

The American woman's frustration arises NOT from men's supposed simplicity, but from her inability -- or unwillingness -- to comprehend her man's mental structure. That stems from an aspect of male "engineering." It's rather obvious to any man who's thought about it for as much as five seconds. However, it's apparently opaque to the lesser sex, which impels them to invent their common notions about how we're really "simple" creatures that possess a mysterious ability to resist their wiles.

Heads up, ladies: As we in the technologies are well aware, a complex system should have as simple a user interface as possible. The American male's "user interface" is charmingly simple, perhaps even optimal:

  1. We pursue what we want, unless convinced that we can't have it or it's not worth its price.
  2. We respect honesty, candor, and ability demonstrated by achievement.
  3. We respond positively to forthrightness and negatively to manipulation.
  4. We believe in rewarding the good, punishing the bad, and being upfront about both.
  5. In the main, we like ourselves as we are, and take umbrage at attempts to "improve" us.

Deal with a man from those precepts, and your interactions with him will be gratifying, even profitable.

If you ponder the above five points for just a moment, you can easily grasp why we react adversely to attempts to "manage" us. Tell us what you want, and you have a decent chance of getting it. Try to manipulate, maneuver, or corner us into doing as you wish, and we'll bend space and time to deny it to you. Women are all too often inclined toward "managing" their menfolk, a path that frequently eventuates in sorrow.

The reasons are not far to seek. Men's innate aggression makes them the natural leaders of the mating dance; women are therefore in a reactive position as a potential romance begins. Once the thing is well under way -- generally, with the inception of a sexual relationship -- his outward conduct is likely to change. Since men tend to regard the beginning of physical intimacy as a signal that they've "sealed the deal," and that the relationship has shifted from its "inception" phase to a "maintenance" phase, he might cease to seem quite as courtly to her as previously. His conduct will almost certainly lose the importuning quality that a suitor normally exhibits to the object of his affections. This can induce her to fear that she's lost value in his eyes. In the usual case, nothing could be further from the truth. Still, it can be hard not to suspect such a thing, given that the wining and dining have partway been displaced by bill paying, lawn care, and fretting over property taxes.

Her challenges are twofold. First, she must resist the urge to reinstate the conditions of their courtship, in which he was required to please her to win her favors. Second, she must resist the impulse to regard him as someone who "needs to change." He'll detect -- and resent -- any attempts to manipulate him, quite as much from his beloved as from his work supervisor.

The female tendency to salve her frustrations by classifying men as "simple creatures" is merely self-flattering self-deception. She who can resist that temptation is more likely to derive long-term satisfaction from her mate than she who maintains that Woman, in her double-X complexity and superior wisdom, knows better than Man what's best for him.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The More Things "Change"...

For those who have had a modicum of exposure to writings of the classical historians it becomes obvious that although history does not repeat itself there are similarities and parallels to present day events which are unfolding even as this screed is being composed. Although many scholars have an acquaintance with the works of  Edward Gibbon and his 6 volume magnum opus "History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" published between 1776 and 1788, Gibbon was forced to make use of centuries old primary sources and was not the first to opine on the causes of the disintegration of the first and greatest of the western hegemonic empires. A more contemporary historian and witness to the events attending the disintegration of the western Roman Empire was the pagan Greek Zosimus  who resided in Constantinople during the last decade of the 5th and the first decade of the 6th centuries.

By the 4th century, the Roman economy and tax structure were so dismal that many farmers abandoned their lands in order to receive public entitlements.
At this point, the imperial government was spending the majority of the funds it collected on either the military or public entitlements. For a time, according to historian Joseph Tainter, “those who lived off the treasury were more numerous than those paying into it.”
Sound familiar?
In the 5th century, tax riots and all-out rebellion were commonplace in the countryside among the few farmers who remained. The Roman government routinely had to dispatch its legions to stamp out peasant tax revolts.
But this did not stop their taxes from rising.
Valentinian III, who remarked in 444 AD that new taxes on landowners and merchants [the "wealthy"] would be catastrophic, still imposed an additional 4% sales tax… and further decreed that all transactions be conducted in the presence of a tax collector.
Citizens of the opinion that in 2012 governments do not concern themselves with such low level economic activity as yard sales, had better think again.  After all; "it's for the children" and the benefit of the local treasury.
Indeed, many citizens of the empire in lieu of abandoning their free holdings for flight to the cities sought protection from the imperial tax collectors by joining the cause of the invading Visigoths.
"Many Roman peasants even fought alongside their invaders, as was the case when Balkan miners defected to the Visigoths en mass in 378  and destroyed an imperial army sent to suppress them. Others simply vacated the Empire altogether."
In the later stages of the Roman Empire, emperors clipped the edges from circulated gold coins and used the shavings diluted with cheap base metals to strike new coins of the same nominal value. This occurred as the emperor decreed that taxes were to be paid with only unclipped coins. Compare this practice with the central bank printing up new banknotes backed by nothing and being the first to spend them before the economy has suffered price inflation caused by the increase in the money supply.
If you, dear reader see a similarity to the events described above and western civilization in this year of our Lord 2012, welcome to the party.

cross posted at: Fighting in the Shade™


In the piece below, I mocked the phrase "social justice" and challenged a user (who'd thought he could defame libertarians with it) to define it. A few people have written to ask, apparently sincerely, why I think that's a stroke of any weight. After some reflection, I've decided to see if I can satisfy them.

Mind you, you'll need your thinking cap for what follows.

* * *

Some time ago, when embroiled in a quarrelsome encounter, I challenged my adversary in a fashion he found troubling. "Define Milwaukee," I said.
"Huh? Why?" he replied.
"To prove to me that you know both how to do it and why to do it."

At first he rejected it as absurd, but I persisted, and he agreed to try it. He had some trouble with it, but ultimately he managed to produce a valid statement about Milwaukee that most people would agree would not apply to any other city. But he couldn't cope with the "why" portion of the challenge. In particular, he couldn't articulate why he'd felt the demand for a "definition" of Milwaukee was absurd.

Eventually I let him off the hook. "There's only one Milwaukee, right?"
"Right," he said warily.
"So why bother to define it? Definition is a practical undertaking. We only need definitions so we can cope with categories -- so we can know if a thing is or is not a member of a defined category. If a thing is one of a kind, there's no need for a definition of it. Think of it this way: Do we need a definition of you?"

So it is with "social justice," one of the enduring shibboleths of the American Left.

"Social justice" is a label for a condition some persons claim is desirable. However, the condition lacks a definition. The Left's tacticians prefer it that way: it makes it impossible to state with
assurance when and where it exists. But if "social justice" is desirable yet uncertain, there's never a conclusive argument for ceasing to strive for it...or for the use of unlimited State power in attempting to reach it.

The one thing the Left insists, and will continue to insist, is that "social justice" does not exist in the United States. But ask a Leftist flackster "How do you know?" and he's immediately on the defensive. After all, he has no definition with which to falsify the claim. Moreover, he'd be unwilling ever to concede that the U.S. possesses this undefined attribute, because it would torpedo his demand for unlimited power over the American people and economy.

The core of the thing is, of course, that "social justice" is a meaningless term. Not only hasn't it ever been defined; it cannot be defined without destroying the meaning of "justice." Justice is founded
on the concept of individual rights and cannot exist apart from it. Thus, justice is inherently opposed to collectivization; any attempt to define it in terms of groups immediately destroys its meaning as applied to individuals. The Communists' "you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs" maxim applies with full force.

The "eggs" the flackster for "social justice" will break are thee and me, Gentle Reader.

* * *

Definition, as I remarked to my unnamed adversary above, is a practical matter. We don't compose definitions for mere pleasure. We do so because we think in categories. For categories to be useful implements of thought, they must have boundaries. Aristotle's approach to definition as a combination of a "genus" (an enclosing category) and a "differentia" (what distinguishes the category being defined from the one of which it's a subset) is what makes useful definitions possible, and any thought that employs them fruitful.

In this connection, ponder the extensive list of bludgeon-words and phrases the Left routinely uses against us:
  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Islamophobia
  • Compassion
  • Fair Share
  • Social Justice
Not one of the above possesses a firm definition applicable to political discourse. They are rhetorical weapons, nothing more: intended to intimidate, to impute low motives to their target, and to imply that "good people" ought never to align themselves with him.

This, too, is a practical matter. The best sort of weapon is one for which there is no countermeasure. Failing that, the countermeasure should be elusive and hard to wield. Leftist rhetoric, being based on
nebulous emotional appeals to the melioristic impulse good Americans share, is particularly potent for that reason: most of us on the pro-freedom Right aren't combative enough, or, quite frankly, sharp
enough, to counter it expeditiously.

* * *

Time was, I was resolved to treat with the promoter of left-liberalism as a well-intentioned sort who differed with me from a rational basis. That is, I assumed that either our premises were incompatibly different, or one of us had committed one or more logical errors. Given that assumption, it was possible for me to believe that eventually we would manage to "reason together," find the faults one or the other of us had incorporated into his thinking, and arrive at a shared conclusion.

Time was.

The giveaway to the fallacy is left-liberals' utter contempt for anyone who differs with them. Their "assumption of differential rectitude" (Thomas Sowell) amounts to a relegation of others of different opinions to a lower stratum of intelligence and morality. The article I linked below displays that contempt undisguised. Worse, it was completely unnecessary, being entirely disjoint from the topic the author was addressing.

I have no doubt that many Americans who hold political opinions of the left-liberal sort are nevertheless fundamentally decent people -- the sort who "hate only in abstractions," to borrow a phrase from the late John Brunner. But that doesn't apply to persons who readily condemn whole categories of people, in service to leftist ideology. They deserve as swift, as sharp, and as contemptuous a backhanding as I can dish out: the only treatment appropriate for nominal adults who persist in acting like vicious, self-absorbed children.

It's a practical thing: a stroke in the cause of freedom and justice. No one who preaches against freedom or justice, whatever pseudo-noble motives he claims, shall be permitted to pass me unscathed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


In part, this is a tangent from Scott Angell's excellent piece below -- by the way, welcome back, Scott -- and in part, it's an exorcism of sorts. You see, a hack writer of mediocre science fiction novels recently saw fit to denigrate libertarians:

"I'm not going to lecture you about Jeff Bezos either, although I do want to note that he came out of a hedge fund and he's ostensibly a libertarian; these aspects of his background make me uneasy, because in my experience they tend to be found in conjunction with a social-darwinist ideology that has no time for social justice,
compassion, or charity. (When you hear a libertarian talking about "disruption" and "innovation" what they usually mean is "opportunities to make a quick buck, however damaging the long-term side effects may be". Watch for the self-serving cant and the shout-outs to abstractions framed in terms of market ideology.)"

Would you imagine that this...person could, if pressed, define "social justice?" Could he provide a definition that would allow a dispassionate observer to determine what it is and what it is not -- where it starts and where it ends? Would you imagine that he could refute the libertarian critique of government-imposed "compassion" and "charity?" Indeed, do you think he's intellectually capable of grasping the distinction between a right and a desire, much less formulating that distinction intensively?

This is the sort of sanctimonious bilge left-liberals spout continuously: rather than cope with the substance of their opponents' arguments, they attack their opponents' characters and motives.
Moreover, they do so at every opportunity, whether appropriate or not, so that their listeners can never forget the contempt they feel for those who dissent from their dogmas. It demonstrates their inability to cope with the existence of intelligent persons who differ with them. It also demonstrates the willfulness that characterizes minor children who haven't yet accepted the fundamental aspect of natural law.

What's the fundamental aspect of natural law, you ask? Exactly and only this: It exists.

Every other feature of the universe, from the properties of matter and energy all the way up to the mysteries of human motivation, flows from that statement. A truly great writer, Robert A. Heinlein, put it this way in his novel Glory Road:

"May it please milord hero, the world is not what we wish it to be. It is what it is. No, I have over-assumed. Perhaps it is indeed what we wish it to be. Either way, it is what it is. Le voila! Behold it, self-demonstrating. Das Ding an Sich. Bite it. It is. Ai-je raison? Do I speak truly?"

Libertarian thought proceeds from our recognition that:
  • The universe has laws;
  • That some of those laws pertain to the satisfaction and limitation of human desires;
  • And that no matter how desperate their desire nor how great their exertions, legislatures, courts, autocrats, and squads of thugs with guns cannot violate, repeal, or modify them.

Libertarian thought is essentially an exercise in humility before the natural order. It takes the laws of nature as fixed, which the left-liberal is unwilling to do. It attempts to orient men's desires that things be other than they are: honoring the decent man's impulse toward meliorism while nonetheless recognizing that under the laws of nature, not all the things we wish for are possible.

The left-liberal -- the sincere left-liberal, as opposed to the one whose principal goal is power over others -- rejects the premise. He insists that what he wants must be possible, and on the terms he has decreed. Why? Because he wants it that way. Badly. So badly that he's willing to trample on others' rights to whatever extent is required to get it.

As we have seen, both here in America and elsewhere, when the left-liberal acquires political power, the rest of us had better look to our defenses. Indeed, we'd better keep a tight grip on them, for sooner
or later -- usually sooner -- he will attempt to strip us of them. We can't allow the hoi polloi the means of resisting what we know is best for them, now can we?

The day the left-liberal discovers that no amount of coercive force can overcome the laws of nature is a sad day for all of us. But in a final irony, he's massively unwilling to admit that he could possibly have been wrong. You'll hear every imaginable excuse and self-exculpation. "The wrong people were in power." "We weren't consistent enough." "There were too many counter-revolutionary elements." Or most chilling of all: "More terror is required," the trumpet call of the French revolutionaries whose excesses brought Napoleon upon Europe.

I've tried mightily to treat with left-liberals, and indeed, with all those who differ with me politically, as if they were potential libertarians: sincere in their convictions but erroneous in their premises or misled in their reasoning. Cretins such as the one whose suppurating, self-canonizing contempt evoked this tirade make it ever more difficult.

Their childish willfulness, so dismissive of the destruction their ideology has wrought and continues to wreak, deserves as much contempt in return as it expresses toward us.