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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Teachers Without Chests

       "Those who understand the spirit of the Tao and have been led by that spirit itself demands.  Only they can know what those directions are.  The outsider knows nothing about the matter.  His attempts at alteration, as we have seen, contradict themselves.  So far from being able to harmonize discrepancies in its letter by penetration to its spirit, he merely snatches at some one precept, on which the accidents of time and place happen to have riveted his attention, and then rides it to death--for no reason that he can give.  From within the Tao itself comes the only authority to modify the Tao.  This is what Confucius meant when he said, 'With those who follow a different Way it is useless to take counsel (Analects, XV, 39).'"  C.S. Lewis The Abolition of Man (p.59).

       Mankind has warped David Hume's fact/value distinction into the idea that only facts have value.  Those values that are retained from Christianity are done so for convenience.  Want to advocate gay rights?  Put a "Love Your Neighbor:  No Exceptions" bumper sticker on your car.  Hence, wishing others well is transformed into approving homosexual behavior.  Want the U.S. to accept thousands of potential terrorists?  Invoke (as Pope Karl did) the Beatitudes.  Thus, people who think Christianity is a pernicious myth can cling to disconnected teachings as facts turned values.
       Educators are now told to refrain from conveying a sense of morality to their students.  This is one form of moral relativism;  the student must be free to decide what modes of behavior are appropriate for him or her.
       Another form of moral relativism is multiculturalism;  the values of Western Europe are not necessarily to be preferred.  Sharia Law, including tolerance for spousal abuse, is now a feature of life in Britain and Germany.
       In the void existing within today's young person (which morality or religion might have filled one hundred years ago), the material the university supplies to fill it is politics.  A college freshman will be encouraged to argue political positions in Composition 100.  They will study ideologies, environmentalism and feminism.  Students might earn a bachelor's degree without having read Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, but they may well be required to read this or the other twentieth century political manifesto.
       Today's college campus, with its "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces" is an island of political indoctrination where traditional philosophical ideas are never debated.  Undergraduates today have no time to question the meaning of the good life or the nature of friendship.  Campus is awash in contraceptives, yet you still hear of co-eds occasionally smothering the newborn they delivered in the bathroom of their dorm.
       If you think political corruption or financial crimes will become anything other than omnipresent, when educated people will have been taught from kindergarten through college that truth is relative and morality a matter of taste, you have a gift for groundless optimism that would put Pollyanna to shame.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

L' Etat, c'est Moi

       The progressive era was the beginning of the United States having a nation that considered its people as so much cattle.  Progressives had little use for constitutional restraints upon government power.  They wished to give presidents godlike power;  the president should be an elected monarch.  
        The first president to treat himself as a god among men was the vile racist Woodrow Wilson.  The chronically dishonest Wilson pretended that the United States had no preference as to who won World War I.  Wilson censored the news, preventing Americans from knowing about the hundreds of deadly acts of sabotage conducted against factories by German agents.  In 1916, he had the temerity to run for reelection based on keeping the U.S. out of the war, only to enter the war on the pretense of outrage over German submarine attacks.  Wilson then indulged his grandiose delusions by creating fourteen platitudes, and reshaping Europe according to his own whims.
     Next came Franklin Delano Roosevelt, America's answer to Henry VIII.  A truly revolutionary president, Roosevelt seemed to think he had the right to occupy the White House forever.  His economic schemes were often ruled unconstitutional;  Roosevelt's answer was packing the Supreme Court with syncophants who would allow him to do anything he wished.  To this day, the decisions of New Deal era justices allow the Court of King's Bench to justify unlimited distortions of the Commerce Clause.
        Of course, Oh Blah Blah was the ultimate destination for the United States.  No American president ever embodied the spirit of Louis XIV better than our forty-fourth president.  Not only did Obama think he had the power to enforce only those federal laws he fully agreed with, his Justice Department was fully politicized.  And who could forget the way he ignored the War Powers Act of 1973 in order to engage us in Libya and Syria!  "I am the State," thundered Louis XIV, and Obama agreed entirely.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Goodbye, Weather Channel!

       Estase has been a longtime fan of the Weather Channel.  In the last three years, it has become clear that TWC has become a hotbed of carbon dioxide hysteria.  I gave up on the otherwise interesting Weather Underground program because its politics are too much like their namesakes'.  The tipping point has been reached today.  TWC actually broke into their weather coverage to propagandize (with Bill Nye, sodomy guy) about the decision by Orange Blatherskite to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Accords.  Hey NBC, why don't you keep your politics on MSNBC?  Maybe those of us who want to make sure we don't get rained on could care less what former childrens' TV stars think about carbon dioxide.  They actually acted as though the fact that corporations which would never need to burn fossil fuels endorsing the Paris Accords was some sort of compelling argument for them.  No, I'm not surprised that the commies at Starbucks want us to stick with the Paris Accords.  Perhaps TWC needs to see a drop in viewership to get them to lay off the politics.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Turdogan's Aggression Against Americans

    Last week, Turkish President Erdogan visited Washington D.C.  Many Americans, including those of Armenian descent, came to protest our government's continued collusion with the Islamofascist Turkish state.  Erdogan has been a covert backer of the Daesh, yet continues to receive the support of the American government.  Turdogan unleashed a group of his thugs on American citizens exercising their First Amendment right to free speech.  Some of these Americans were left a bloodied shambles after their beatdown by Turkish thugs.
        Orange Blatherskite ran on a platform of putting the rights of Americans in the forefront.  If he is to maintain any credibility as a person who defends the American people, it is time to put Erdogan in the doghouse.  Cut off all military aid to Turkey.  Take steps to remove Turkey from NATO.  If Turkey will not respect the rights of Americans on American soil, let them be a pariah state.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Mao Zedong Hour

       Estase wrote a letter to Sci-Fi Bruce Rauner about House Bill 40.  One of the more execrable pieces of legislation created by Illinois Democrats, it would publicly fund abortions at a time when the state is already billions of Dollars behind in payments to employees and organizations.  I got a form letter back, thanking me for writing about "abortion access."  With a Republican like Sci-Fi Bruce Rauner, who needs any Democrats?
       Estase is old enough to recall Judy Baar Topinka bragging about how she was pro-abortion and fiscally conservative, which to her meant she was "moderate."  As milquetoast and unassuming as former Governor Jim Edgar was, he looks like a titan of a man compared to most Killinois Republicans.   I have personally never understood why the Illinois GOP has such a poor track record of picking actual conservatives to run for office.  Only the apparatchiks of said party would pick a homosexual Navy vet who exaggerated his service record repeatedly to run for the Senate--and, who, when interviewed by WTAD of Quincy, would opine that confirming judicial nominees was "a waste of time!"  Mind-boggling.  This is the caliber of man who the Illinois GOP puts forward.  I guess we were trying to make Minnesota feel better about their Senators (which include the never-funny either politically or professionally Al Franken).  The absolute leftist insanity of Illinois Democrats is the only impetus to give any of these pseudoconservatives one's vote.
     Makes one almost consider watching the Mao Zedong Hour. . . .

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Benefits of Culture

       People currently like to pretend that fields like literature, philosophy and other humanities are useless.  These people pretend that science and social sciences can exist without being grounded in the arts.  Matthew Arnold and Jose Ortega y Gasset argue in books from different centuries similar points--that culture is a necessary precondition for liberal democracy.
       Matthew Arnold, in his Culture and Anarchy, posits culture as the main remedy for the social problems of nineteenth century Britain.  He begins by subdividing moral thinking into Hebraism and Hellenism.  Hebraism is an emphasis upon proscribed behaviors.  (That is, do good things, and don't do bad things.)  Hellenism is the pursuit of truth and enlightenment.  Arnold felt that most of his contemporaries either embraced Hebraism to the exclusion of Hellenism, or vice versa.  Culture, for Arnold, meant embracing both Hebraism and Hellenism.  The groups rejecting culture Arnold called Barbarians and Philistines.  Barbarians extolled sports and the military;  they romanticized aristocracy and wished for absolute monarchy.  Philistines thought wealth was the greatest good;  they either thought free markets and trade were the answer or craved more social programs.  "The pursuit of perfection, then, is the pursuit of sweetness and light.  He who works for sweetness works in the end for light also;  he who works for light works in the end for sweetness also.  But he who works for sweetness and light united, works to make reason and the will of God prevail.  He who works for machinery, he who works for hatred, works only for confusion.  Culture looks beyond machinery, culture hates hatred;  culture has one great passion, the passion for sweetness and light.  It has one even yet greater!--the passion for making them prevail.  It is not satisfied till we all come to a perfect man;  it knows that the sweetness and light of the few must be imperfect until the raw and unkindled masses of humanity are touched with sweetness and light(p. 69)."  "Having, I say, at the bottom of our English hearts a very strong belief in freedom, and a very weak belief in right reason, we are soon silenced when a man plead the prime right to do as he likes, because this is the prime right for ourselves too;  and even if we attempt now and then to mumble something about reason, yet we have ourselves thought so little about this and so much about liberty, that we are in conscience forced, when our brother Philistine with whom we are meddling turns boldly round upon us and asks:  Have you any light?--to shake our heads ruefully, and to let him go his own way after all (p, 79)."  Arnold says that those who seek culture and perfection can look beyond social class.  "And this bent always tends to take them out of their class, and to make their distinguishing characteristic not their Barbarism or their Philistinism, but their humanity (p. 108)."  "Now, it is clear that the very absence of any powerful authority amongst us, and the prevalent doctrine of the duty and happiness of doing as one likes, and asserting our personal liberty, must tend to prevent the erection of any very strict standard of excellence, the belief in any very paramount authority of right reason, the recognition of our best self as anything very recondite and hard to come at (p. 109-110)."  Culture is seeking personal development.  "There is no unum necessarium,or one thing needful, which can free human nature from the obligation of trying to come to its best at all these points.  The real unum necessarium for us it to come to our best at all these points (p. 150)."  Arnold sees culture as a way of ending religious strife.  "The State is the religion of all its citizens without the fanaticism of any of them.  Those who deny this, either think so poorly of the State that they do not like to see religion condescend to touch the State, or they think so poorly of religion that they do not like to see the State condescend to touch religion.  But no good statesman will think thus unworthily either of the State or of religion (p. 156)."
       As stated above, Arnold saw culture as the uniting of moral excellence (Hebraism) and mental excellence (Hellenism).  Arnold saw it as the antidote for both overly clas-conscious British society and for lopsided personal development.
       Similarly, Jose Ortega y Gasset in his The Revolt of the Masses laments the fact that modern man has less pressure constraining his life;  that is, it has never been easier to live one's life due to advances in science and the triumph of popular government.  Excepting those who challenge themselves intentionally, the masses are like impatient, spoiled children.  They have forgotten the culture that made today's technological society possible.  Their political language devolves into violence.  "An idea is a putting truth in checkmate.  Whoever wishes to have ideas must first prepare himself to desire truth and to accept the rules of the game imposed by it.  It is no use speaking of ideas when there is no acceptance of a higher authority to regulate them, a series of standards to which it is possible to appeal in a discussion. . . .What I affirm is that there is no culture where there are no standards to which our fellow men can have recourse.  There is no culture where there are no principles of legality to which to appeal.  There is no culture where there is no acceptance of certain final intellectual positions to which a dispute may be referred (p. 72)."
       Due to the idea of equality, the masses actually see themselves as the ascetic's equal, and refuse to submit to his direction.  Not only does the average man celebrate vulgarity, he is "indocile," and refuses to accept authority.  The abandonment of mental standards and culture means totalitarian government becomes inevitable.  If men will become indifferent to what Arnold called Hellenism, Ortega y Gasset sees civilization itself at risk.
       Totalitarianism arises from rejection of the principles that undergird liberal democracy.  We have already discussed Arnold's treatment of culture as the solution for class-consciousness.  Now, Ortega y Gasset envisions the stifling of intelligent opinion by the tyranny of the mediocre.  "Can we be surprised that the world to-day seems empty of purposes, anticipations, ideals?  Nobody has concerned himself with supplying them.  Such has been the desertion of the directing minorities, which is always found on the reverse side of the rebellion of the masses (p. 46)."
       Arnold states:  "But in each class there are born a certain number of natures with a curiosity bout their best self, with a bent for seeing things as they are, for disentangling themselves from machinery, for simply concerning themselves with reason and the will of God, and doing their best to make these prevail;--for the pursuit, in a word, of perfection (p. 108)."  The ascetic man Ortega y Gasset envisions takes on mental challenges, pushing himself constantly.  "Contrary to what is usually thought, it is the man of excellence, and not the common man, who lives in essential servitude.  Life has no savour for him unless he makes it consist in service to something transcendental.  Hence he does not look upon the necessity of serving as an oppression.  When, by chance, such necessity is lacking, he grows restless and invents some new standard, more difficult, more exigent, with which to coerce himself.  This is life lived as a discipline--the noble life.  Nobility is defined by the demands it makes on us--by obligations, not by rights (p. 63)."  Where Arnold thought every man could potentially benefit from culture, Ortega y Gasset seems convinced many university graduates are uninterested in the subjects of philosophy and other humanities which constitute culture.  The fact that medical doctors were among the first to embrace National Socialism in Germany would seem to confirm Ortega y Gasset's theory that science unmoored from the humanities creates a technologically proficient barbarian.
       Although Ortega y Gasset does not discuss in as much detail what constitutes culture as does Arnold, both see political violence and an erosion in the possibility of democracy arising from the abandonment of culture.  How ironic is it that college campuses are becoming places where the free discussion of ideas has been replaced by trigger warnings and safe spaces!  How long will the liberal arts and sciences languish while people extoll business curriculum and STEM as the only fit fields of study?  Will fields such as political philosophy die of starvation when disconnected from the classics and literature?