Sunday, October 26, 2014

Federalist #43

       The fourth class comprises the following miscellaneous powers: 1)  A power "to promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing, for a limited time, to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."
       The utility of this power will scarcely be questioned.  The copyright of authors has been solemnly adjudged in Great Britain to be a right of common law.  The right to useful inventions seems with equal reason to belong to the inventors.  The public good fully coincides in both cases with the claims of individuals.  The States cannot separately make effectual provision for either of the cases, and most of them have anticipated the decision of this point by laws passed at the instance of Congress.
       2)"To exercise exclusive legislation, in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular States and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States;  and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislatures of the States in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings."
       The indispensible necessity of complete authority at the seat of governments carries its own evidence with it.  It is a power exercised by every legislature of the Union, I might say of the world, by virtue of its general supremacy.  Without it not only the public authority might be insulted and its proceedings interrupted with impunity, but a dependence of the members of the general government on the State comprehending the seat of the government for protection in the exercise of their duty might bring on the national councils an imputation of awe or influence equally dishonorable to the government and dissatisfactory to the other members of the Confederacy.  This consideration has the more weight as the gradual accumulation of public improvements at the stationary residence of the government would be both too great a public pledge to be left in the hands of a single State, and would create so many obstacles to a removal of the government, as still further to abridge its necessary independence.  The extent of this federal district is sufficiently circumscribed to satisfy every jealousy of an opposite nature.  And as it is to be appropriated to this use with the consent of the State ceding it;  as the State will no doubt provide in the compact for the rights and the consent of the citizens inhabiting it;  as the inhabitants will find sufficient inducements of interest to become willing parties to the cession;  as they will have had their voice in the election of the government which is to exercise authority over them;  as a municipal legislature for local purposes, derived from their own sufferages, will of course be allowed them;  and as the authority of the legislature of the State, and of the inhabitants of the ceded part of it, to concur in the cession will be derived from the whole people of the State in their adoption of the Constitution, every imaginable objection seems to be obviated.
       The necessity of a like authority over forts, magazines, etc., established by the general government, is not less evident.  The public money expended on such places, and the public property deposited in them, require that they should be exempt from the authority of the particular State.  Nor would it be proper for the places on which the security of the entire Union may depend to be in any degree dependent on a particular member of it.  All objections and scruples are here also obviated by requiring the concurrence of the States concerned in every such establishment.
       3)  "To declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted."
       As treason may be committed against the United States, the authority of the United States ought to be enabled to punish it.  But as new-fangled and artificial treasons have been the great engines by which violent factions, the natural offspring of free government, have usually wreaked their alternate malignity on each other, the convention have, with great judgment, opposed a barrier to this peculiar danger, by inserting a constitutional definition of the crime, fixing the proof necessary for conviction of it, and restraining the Congress, even in punishing it, from extending the consequences of guilt beyond the person of its author.
       4)"To admit new States into the Union;  but no new State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other State;  nor any State be formed by the junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the consent of the legislatures of the States concerned, as well as of the Congress."
       In the Articles of Confederation, no provision is found on this important subject.  Canada was to be admitted of right, on her joining in the measures of the United States;  and the other colonies, by which were evidently meant the other British colonies, at the discretion of nine States.  The eventual establishment of new States seems to have been overlooked by the compilers of that instrument.  We have seen the inconvenience of this omission, and the assumption of power into which Congress have been led by it.  With great propriety, therefore, has the new system supplied the defect.  The general precaution that no new States shall be formed without the concurrence of the federal authority and that of the States concerned is consonant to the principles which ought to govern such transactions.  The particular precaution against the erection of new States, by the partition of a State without its consent, quiets the jealousy of the larger States;  as that of the smaller is quieted by a like precaution against a junction of States without their consent.
        5)  "To dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States, with a proviso that nothing in the Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular State."
        This is a power of very great importance, and required by considerations similar to those which show the propriety of the former.  The proviso annexed is proper in itself, and was probably rendered absolutely necessary by jealousies and questions concerning the Western territory sufficiently known to the public.
       6)  "To guarantee to every State in the Union a republican form of government;  to protect each of them against invasion;  and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened), against domestic violence."
       In a confederacy founded on republican principles, and composed of republican members, the superintending government ought clearly to possess authority to defend the system against aristocratic or monarchical innovations.  The more intimate the nature of such a union may be, the greater interest have the members in the political institutions of each other;  and the greater right to insist that the forms of government under which the compact was entered into should be substantially maintained.  But a right implies a remedy;  and where else could the remedy be deposited than where it is deposited by the Constitution?  Governments of dissimilar principles and forms have been found less adapted to a federal coalition of any sort than those of a kindred nature.  "As the confederate republic of Germany," says Montesquieu, "consists of free cities and petty states, subject to different princes, experience shows us that it is more imperfect than that of Holland and Switzerland."  "Greece was undone," he adds, "as soon as the king of Macedon obtained a seat among the Amphictyons."  In the latter case, no doubt, the disproportionate force, as well as the monarchical form of the new confederate, had its share of influence on the events.  It may possibly be asked what need there could be of such a precaution, and whether it may not become a pretext for alterations in the State government, without the concurrence of the States themselves.  These questions admit of ready answers.  If the interposition of the general government should not be needed, the provision for such an event will be a harmless superfluity only in the Constitution.  But who can say what experiments may be produced by the caprice of particular States, by the ambition of enterprising leaders, or by the intrigues and influence of foreign powers?  To the second question it may be answered that if the general government should interpose by virtue of this constitutional authority, it will be, of course, bound to pursue the authority.  But the authority extends no further than to a guaranty of a republican form of government, which supposes a pre-existing government of the form which is to be guaranteed.  As long, therefore, as the existing republican forms are continued by the States, they are guaranteed by the federal Constitution.  Whenever the States may choose to substitute other republican forms, they have a right to do so and to claim the federal guaranty for the latter.  The only restrictions imposed on them is that they shall not exchange republican for anti-republican Constitutions;  a restriction which, it is presumed, will hardly be considered a grievance.
       A protection against invasion is due from every society to the parts composing it.  The latitude of the expression here used seems to secure each State not only against foreign hostility, but against ambitious or vindictive enterprizes of its more powerful neighbors.  The history both of ancient and modern confederacies proves that the weaker members of the Union ought not to be insensible to the policty of this article.
        Protection against domestic violence is added with equal propriety.  It has been remarked that even among the Swiss cantons, which, properly speaking, are not under one government, provision is made for this object;  and the history of that league informs us that mutual aid is frequently claimed and afforded;  and as well by the most democratic as the other cantons.  A recent and well-known event among ourselves has warned us to be prepared for emergencies of a like nature.
       At first view, it might seem not to square with the republican theory to suppose either that a majority have not the right, or that a minority will have the force, to subvert a government;  and  consequently that the federal interposition can never be required but when it would be improper.  But theoretic reasoning, in this as in most  other cases, must be qualified by the lessons of practice.  Why may not illicit combinations, for purposes of violence, be formed as well by a majority of a State, especially a small State, as by a majority of a county, or a district of the same State;  and if the authority of the State ought, in the latter case, to protect the local magistracy, ought not the federal authority, in the former, to support the State authority?  Besides, there are certain parts of the State constitutions which are so interwoven with the federal Constitution that a violent blow cannot be given to the one without communicating the wound to the other.  Insurrection in a State will rarely induce a federal interposition, unless the number concerned in them bear some proportion to the friends of government.  It will be much better that the violence in such cases should be repressed by the superintending power, than that the majority should be left to maintain their cause by a bloody and obstinate contest.  The existance of a right to interpose will generally prevent the necessity of exerting it.
       Is it true that force and right are necessarily on the same side in republican governments?  May not the minor party possess such a superiority of pecuniary resources, of military talents and experience, or of secret succors from foreign powers, as will render it superior also in an appeal to the sword?  May not a more compact and advantageous position turn the scale on the same side against a superior number so situated as to be less capable of a prompt and collected exertion of its strength?  Nothing can be more chimerical than to imagine that in a trial of actual force victory may be calculated by the rules which prevail in a census of the inhabitants, or which determine the event of an election!  May it not happen, in fine, that the minority of citizens may become a majority of persons, by the accession of alien residents, of a casual concourse of adventurers, or of those whom the constitution of the State has not admitted to the rights of suffrage?  I take no notice of an unhappy species of population abounding in some of the States, who, during the calm of regular government, are sunk below the level of men;  but who, in the tempestuous scenes of civil violence, may emerge into the human character and give a superiority of strength to any party with which they may associate themselves.
       In cases where it may be doubtful on which side justice lies, what better umpires could be desired by two violent factions, flying to arms and tearing a State to pieces, than the representatives of confederate States, not heated by the local flame?  To the impartiality of judges, they would unite the affection of friends.  Happy would it be if such a remedy for its infirmities could be enjoyed by all free governments;  if a project equally effectual could be established for the universal peace of mankind!
        Should it be asked what is to be the redress for an insurrection pervading all the States, and comprising a superiority of the entire force, though not a constitutional right?  the answer must be that such a case, as it would be without the compass of human remedies, so it is fortunately not within the compass of human probability;  and that it is a sufficient recommendation of the federal Constitution that it diminishes the risk of a calamity for which no possible constitution can provide a cure.
       Among the advantages of a confederate republic enumerated by Montesquieu, an important one is "that should a popular insurrection happen in one of the States, the others are able to quell it.  Should abuses creep into one part, they are reformed by those that remain sound."
       7)"To consider all debts contracted and engagements entered into before the adoption of this Constitution as being no less valid against the United States under this Constitution than under the Confederation."
        This can only be considered as a declaratory proposition;  and may have been inserted, among other reasons, for the satisfaction of the foreign creditors of the United States, who cannot be strangers to the pretended doctrine that a change in the political form of civil society has the magical effect of dissolving its moral obligations.
       Among the lesser criticisms which have been exercised on the Constitution, it has been remarked that the validity of engagements ought to have been asserted in favor of the United States, as well as against them;  and in the spirit which usually characterizes little critics, the omission has been transformed and magnified into a plot against the national rights.  The authors of this discovery may be told what few others need to be informed of, that as engagements are in their nature reciprocal, an assertion of their validity on one side necessarily involves a validity on the other side;  and that as the article is merely declaratory, the establishment of the principle in one case is sufficient for every case.  They may be further told that every constitution must limit its precautions to dangers that are not altogether imaginary;  and that no real danger can exist that the government would dare, with or even without this constitutional declaration before it, to remit the debts justly due to the public on the pretext here condemned.
       8)  "To provide for amendments to be ratified by three fourths of the States under two exceptions only."
       That useful alterations will be suggested by experience could not but be forseen.  It was requisite, therefore, that a mode for introducing them should be provided.  The mode preferred by the convention seems to be stamped with every mark of propriety.  It guards equally against that extreme facility, which would render the Constitution too mutable;  and that extreme difficulty, which might perpetuate its discovered faults.  It, moreover, equally enables the general and the State governments to originate the amendment of errors, as they may be pointed out by the experience on one side, or on the other.  The exception in favor of the equality of sufferage in the Senate was probably meant as a palladium to the residuary sovereignty of the States, implied and secured by that principle of representation in one branch of the legislature;  and was probably insisted on by the States particularly attached to that equality.  The other exception must have been admitted on the same considerations which produced the privilege defended by it.
       9)"The ratification of the conventions of nine States shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the States, ratifying the same."
       This article speaks for itself.  The express authority of the people alone could give due validity to the Constitution.  To have required the unanimous ratification of the thirteen States would have subjected the essential interests of the whole to the caprice or corruption of a single member.  It would have marked a want of foresight in the convention, which our own experience would have rendered inexcusable.
        Two questions of a very delicate nature present themselves on this occasion:  1)On what principle the Confederation, which stands in the solemn form of a compact among the States, can be superseded without the unanimous consent of the parties to it?  2)What relation is to subsist between the nine or more States ratifying the Constitution, and the remaining few who do not become parties to it?
       The first question is answered at once by recurring to the absolute necessity of the case;  to the great principle of self-preservation;  to the transcendent law of nature and of nature's God, which declares that the safety and happiness of society are the objects at which all political institutions aim and to which all such institutions must be sacrificed.  Perhaps, also, an answer may be found without searching beyond the principles of the compact itself.  It has been heretofore noted among the defects of the Confederation that in many of the States it had received no higher sanction than a mere legislative ratification.  The principle of reciprocity seems to require that its obligation on the other States should be reduced to the same standard.  A compact between independent sovereigns, founded on ordinary acts of legislative authority, can pretend to no higher validity than a league or treaty between the parties.  It is an established doctrine on the subject of treaties that all the articles are mutually conditions of each other;  that a breach of any one article is a breach of the whole treaty;  and that a breach, committed by either of the parties, absolves the others, and authorizes them, if they please, to pronounce the compact violated and void.  Should it unhappily be necessary to appeal to; these delicate truths for a justification for dispensing with the consent of particular States to a dissolution of the federal pact, will not the complaining parties find it a difficult task to answer the multiplied and important infractions with which they may be confronted?  The time has been when it was incumbent on us all to veil the ideas which this paragraph exhibits.  The scene is now changed, and with it the part which the same motives dictate.
       The second question is not less delicate;  and the flattering prospect of its being merely hypothetical forbids an over-curious discussion of it.  It is one of those cases which must be left to provide for itself.  In general, it may be observed that although no political relation can subsist between the assenting and dissenting States, yet the moral relations will remain uncancelled.  The claims of justice, both on one side and on the other, will be in force, and must be fulfilled;  the rights of humanity must in all cases be duly and mutually respected;  whilst considerations of a common interest, and, above all, the remembrance of the endearing scenes which are past, and the anticipation of a speedy triumph over the obstacles to reunion, will, it is hoped, not urge in vain moderation on one side, and prudence on the other.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Pro-Life Whig Manifesto

       The Republican Party, as represented as such characters such as Sci-Fi Bruce Rauner, seems to be becoming transmogrified into a group of amoral Ayn Randians.  Unwilling to address any social issue as being the road to ruin, the only thing the Randians care about is "smaller government."  Not honest government, not parlimentary democracy, not a civil society, just "smaller" government.  The only thing this new brand of libertarian Republicans care about is money.  This is mine.  Don't touch it.  Get a job.
         One sign that the Randians are taking over is the obsession with disability (SSI) recipients.  While there has been a swelling of SSI recipients in the last few years, it has become an article of faith with the Randians that nobody legitimately receives disability.  Even if you are a quadraplegic, you are a leach on society if you recieve SSI.  To use Paul Ryan's unlovely phrase, such people are takers who steal from makers.  This Manichean duality of people who are unworthy and people who are worthy is a staple of talk radio, which is really odd, because when George W. Bush was president, recieving SSI was not the mark of a parasite.  Maybe this is one reason why talk radio is dying, the recreational activity of choice for people who think they are excellent human beings because they make a lot of money.
           Don't get me wrong.  I'm not endorsing the nihilistic left.  I'm just pointing out how nihilistic the Randians are.  Pro-aborts who think everyone who recieves social benefits are scum have as little moral compass as modern liberals.  Unfortunately, the Primrose League, or establishment Republicans, are just this sort of person.
           It would be Estase's position that being pro-life goes hand in hand with a realization that some persons will need social benefits.  When a family has the integrity and honor to bring a child with Down's Syndrome into the world, this human person should not anticipate a life of homelessness and squalor.  A Down's patient is a valuable person, not just a taker.  Does the Republican party want a T-4 program to eliminate everyone who might not make a lot of money?  Is the highest value of Republicanism stinginess?  The Irishman these people need to keep in mind is Edmund Burke, not Ronald Reagan.  The talk radio community pretends to exemplify conservative thought, but they actually are ignoring one of Burke's most important principles:  stinginess has longer-range costs that are not forseeable in the present.  Another Burkean principle ignored by the Randians is that for men to love their country, their country should be lovely.  A lovely country does not kill its weak and poor.  A lovely country does not call the poor "takers."

Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Spanish Civil War and the Illinois Governor's Race

       Sweet child in time/You'll see the light/Lines drawn between/Good and bad
       The Spanish Civil War was a battle between two evil ideologies--Soviet Communism as represented by the Republicans, and Fascism, as represented by the Nationalists under Franco.  The Republicans were nun-raping, priest-murdering savages.  The Nationalists were Jew-murdering thugs.  Neither side were worth a damn, and if Estase had been alive, he would have hoped each side would kill off the other.  It reminds me of what Reagan said of the Iran-Iraq war:  "It's a real shame both sides can't lose this war."

       Fast forward to 2012.  Real conservatives Bill Brady and Kurt Dillard are trounched by upstart Rahm Emmanuel confidant and Disturbin' Dick Durbin supporter Bruce Rauner.  (See my previous post, "Sci-Fi Bruce Rauner.")  Not only is Rauner pro-abortion, he promises to remake the Illinois GOP in his own image.  The Illinois GOP was always heavy in Primrose Leaguers, but Rauner intends to make values voters unwelcome in Illinois Republican politics.  So, while voting for Pat Quinn means voting for more financial ruin for the state, voting for Bruce Rauner means pro-lifers will have no place in state GOP politics.  So, in other words, it is the Spanish Civil War all over again.  It is one set of evil men against another set of evil men.  Enjoy, Illinoisans.

You better close your eyes, bow your head/Wait for the ricochet

Saturday, September 06, 2014

John Dewey and the Cult of Superficiality

         Estase has read his share of philosophy.  John Dewey is a particular bĂȘte noire of his, for the simple reason that Dewey proposed solutions that have no depth of thinking to them.  Following John Stuart Mill, the idea that rule by experts was desirable was the theory of Dewey.  Unlike Mill, Dewey had little idea of how complex this might actually be.  Mill was at least man enough to realize that there would be a debate on who the experts were.  Dewey seemed to think that being progressive was evidence that one was entitled to be an "expert."  Dewey provides no insight on how to balance popular government with rule by experts.  Dewey provides no insight on how to balance religious or minority rights with rule by experts.  Dewey's acolytes in the Roosevelt administration had zero respect for kosher butchering, as can be seen in the Schechter poultry case.  The only value was economic manipulation--religious freedom did not register, nor did the right to do business as one chose.
          Rule by experts is a concept that will not die, no matter how ridiculous it may be when applied to reality.

Well the Line Forms, On the Right, Babe

   "Less known to our intelligentsia is an aphorism in Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra, a book well known to {Bertholt} Brecht, entitled "On the Pale Criminal," which tells the story of a neurotic murderer, eerily resembling Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, who does not know, cannot know, that he committed murder out of a motive as legitimate as any other and useful in many important situations, but delegitimized in our pacific times:  he lusted after "the joy of the knife."  This scenario for "Mack the Knife" is the beginning of the supra-moral attitude of expectancy, waiting to see what the volcano of the id will spew forth, which appealed to Weimar and its American admirers.  Everything is all right as long as it is not fascism!  With Armstrong taking Lenya's place, as Mai Britt took Dietrich's, it is all mass-marketed and the message becomes less dangerous, although no less corrupt.  All awareness of foreignness disappears.  It is thought to be folk culture, all-American, part of the American century, just as "stay loose" (as opposed to uptight) is supposed to have been an insight of rock music and not a translation of Heidegger's Gelassenheit.  The historical sense and the distance on our times, the only advantages of Weimar nostalgia, are gone, and American self-satisfaction--the sense that the scene is ours, that we have nothing important to learn about life from the past--is served.
       This image can be seen in our intellectual history, if only one substitutes Mary McCarthy for Louis Armstrong and Hannah Arendt for Lotte Lenya, or David Riesman for Armstrong and Erich Fromm for Lenya, and so on through the honor roll of American intellectuals.  Our stars are singing a song they do not understand, translated from a German original and having a huge popular success with unknown but wide-ranging consequences, as something of the original message touches something in American souls.  But behind it all, the master lyricists are Nietzsche and Heidegger."  The Closing of the American Mind by Allen Bloom, pgs. 151-52.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Bloom on New Left

       "But the activists had no special quarrel with the classic texts, and they were even a bit infected by their Frankfurt School masters' habit of parading their intimacy with high culture.  Radicals had at an earlier stage of egalitarianism already dealt with the monarchic, aristocratic and antidemocratic character of most literary classics by no longer paying attention to their manifest political content.  Literary criticism concentrated on the private, the intimate, the feelings, thoughts and relations of individuals, while reducing to the status of a literary convention of the past the fact that the heroes of many classic works were soldiers and statesmen engaged in ruling and faced with political problems(p65).
       Herbert Marcuse appealed to university students in the sixties with a combination of Marx and Freud.  In Eros and Civilization and One Dimensional Man he promised that the overcoming of capitalism and its false consciousness will result in a society where the greatest satisfactions are sexual, of a sort that the bourgeois moralist Freud called polymorphous and infantile.  Rock music touches the same chord in the young.  Free sexual expression, anarchism, mining of the irrational unconscious and giving it free rein are what they have in common.  The high intellectual life I shall describe in Part Two and the low rock world are partners in the same entertainment enterprise.  They must both be interpreted as parts of the cultural fabric of late capitalism.  Their success comes from the bourgeois' need to feel that he is not bourgeois, to have undangerous experiments with the unlimited.  He is willing to pay dearly for them.  The Left is better interpreted by Nietzsche than by Marx.  The critical theory of late capitalism is at once late capitalism's subtlest and crudest expression.  Anti-bourgeois ire is the opiate of the Last Man(p.78).
       Woody Allen's comedy is nothing but a set of variations on the theme of the man who does not have a real "self" or "identity," and feels superior to the inauthentically self-satisfied people because he is conscious of his situation and at the same time inferior to them because they are "adjusted."  This borrowed psychology turns into a textbook in Zelig, which is the story of an "other-directed" man, as opposed to an "inner-directed" man, terms popularized in the 1950s by David Riesman's The Lonely Crowd, borrowed by him from his analyst, Erich Fromm, who himself absorbed them (e.g. innige Mensch) from a really serious thinker, Nietzsche's heir, Martin Heidegger.  I was astounded to see how doctrinaire Woody Allen is, and how normal his way of looking at things--which has immediate roots in the most profound German philosophy--has become in the American entertainment market.  One of the links between Germany and the United States, the psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, actually plays a cameo role in Zelig(p. 144-45).
        Get rid of capitalist alienation and Puritan repression, and all will be well as each man chooses for himself.  But Woody Allen really has nothing to tell us about inner-directedness.  Nor does Riesman nor, going further back, does Fromm.  One has to get to Heidegger to learn something of all the grim facts of what inner-directedness might really mean.  Allen is never nearly as funny as Kafka, who really took the problem seriously, without the propagandistic reassurance that Left progressivism would solve it.  Zelig has a flirtation with Hitler--whose appeal, it almost goes without saying, is to "other-directed persons,"  or to use an equivalent expression popularized by another German psychoanalyst, Theodore Adorno, to "authoritarian personalities"--but is rescued by his psychiatricus ex machine.  (Flirtation with Stalin never needs explanation in this intellectual universe.)  Woody Allen helps to make us feel comfortable with nihilism, to Americanize it.  I'm O.K., thou art O.K. too, if we agree to be a bit haunted together(p. 146).
       Herbert Marcuse's accent has been turned into a Middle Western twang; the echt Deutsche label has been replaced by a Made In America label;  and the new American life-style has become a Disneyland version of the Weimar Republic for the whole family(p. 147).
       I shall not comment on the Nazi period of the now de-Nazified Heidegger, other than to remark that the ever more open recognition that he was the most interesting thinker of our century, formerly chastely displaced in admiration for his various proxies, gives evidence that we are playing with fire.  His interest in new gods led him, as it did Nietzsche, in his teaching to honor immoderation over moderation and to ridicule morality.  Both helped to constitute that ambiguous Weimar atmosphere in which liberals looked like simpletons and anything was possible for people who sang of the joy of the knife {ed.--Mack the Knife} in cabarets(p. 154).
       Vulgar Marxism is, of course, Marxism.  Nonvulgar Marxism is Nietzsche, Weber, Freud, Heidegger, as well as the host of later Leftists who drank at their trough--such as Lukacs, Kojeve, Benjamin, Merleau-Ponty and Sartre--and hoped to enroll them in the class struggle(p. 220).
       This is what we find in Marcuse and many others, who simply do not talk about the difficulty posed by the contradiction between Marx's fundamental principles and those of Freud.  Two powerful systems are served up in a single package.  Freud is the really meaty part of the concoction.  Marx provides a generalized assurance that capitalism is indeed at fault and that the problems can be solved by more equality and more freedom, that the liberated people will possess all the virtues(p. 223).
       Weber at least provided some examples, even though his definition may have been problematic.  One wonders whether Weber's contention that the value giver is an aristocrat of the spirit is less plausible than that of those who say that just anyone is, if he has the right therapist, or if a socialist society is constructed for him.  This egalitarian transformation of Weber permitted anyone who is not to the left to be diagnosed as mentally ill.  Left critics of psychoanalysis called it a tool of bourgeois conformism;  one wonders, however, whether the critics are not manipulators of psychological therapy in the service of Left conformism.  Adorno's meretricious fabrication of the authoritarian and democratic personality types has exactly the same sources as the inner-directed-other-directed typology, and the same sinister implications(p. 225).
       Marcuse began in Germany in the twenties by being something of a serious Hegel scholar.  He ended up here writing trashy-culture criticism with a heavy sex interest  in One Dimensional Man and other well-known books.  In the Soviet Union, instead of the philosopher-king they got the ideological tyrant;  in the United States the culture critic became the voice of Woodstock (p. 226).
       The New Left in America was a Nietzschanized-Heideggerianized Left.  The unthinking hatred of "bourgeois society"  was exactly the same in both places.  A distinguished professor of political science proved this when he read to his radical students some speeches about what was to be done.  They were enthusiastic until he informed them that the speeches were by Mussolini.  Heidegger himself, late in his life, made overtures to the New Left.  The most sinister formula in his Rectoral Address of 1933 was, with only the slightest of alterations, the slogan of the American professors who collaborated with the student movements of the sixties:  "The time for decision is past.  The decision has already been made by the youngest part of the German nation (p. 314-15). "

All from The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Francis Fukuyama and Zombie Movies

      The events of the last week are making me remember the famous t-shirt slogan of the 80s:  Choose Life.
        Right now Christians are being purged from Iraq by ISIS, a bloodthirsty terrorist group.  Nigerian Catholics have been burned alive by their Muslim neighbors.  An unarmed young African-American in Ferguson, MO is shot for no apparent reason.  To top it off, comedian Robin Williams hangs himself.
          I have started to wonder if one of the reasons for the popularity of zombie movies is that, in a perverse way, the total breakdown of society isn't unthinkable any more.  One reason we got into this situation with Iraq was that the Bush administration's bible was Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man .  It was the Condaleeza Rice view of things that all human beings desired to live in western democracies.  One only needs to look at what happened to Iran after the Shah to see that, no, not all human beings wish to live in western democracies.  Indeed, the first thing that some people will do with their votes will be to install religious extremists as their government.  The Bushies made this mistake in its most extreme form when they encouraged the creation of the Palestinian Authority under the mistaken belief that Palestinians would create a moderate, democratic government.  When they actually installed Hamas as the ruling party, Israel was now faced with the necessity of treating people who will not accept their existance as the Palestinian government.
               The zombie movie resounds with people because it refutes the neoconservative idea that people have an intrinsic love of democracy and order.  Humans everywhere do not love freedom, at least the western idea of freedom as being liberal democracy.  This relentless crusade for making the world democratic has only put the most barbaric and retrograde elements in positions of strength in Iraq and Gaza/West Bank.  Indeed, how other than the existance of revived corpses could there be more chaos in the world right now?
          The movement in the world, and especially the middle east, is towards governments that utilize mass murder as a tool for uniformity.  In that sense, the Yugoslav civil wars in the 1940s and 1990s are the template for groups such as ISIS.  Why persuade people to support a government when you can just kill off your opposition?  Why worry about drawing national borders to account for ethnic groups when you can just destroy minority ethnicities?
            Choose Life isn't just a t-shirt slogan anymore.  It is the most basic and anachronistic aspiration for today's blood-soaked world. 

Friday, August 01, 2014

Aims of Government

       The following is from Cato's Letters, #63:
       While the people have common-sense left, they will easily see whether they are justly governed, and well or ill used;  whether they are protected or plundered:  They will know that no man ought to be the director of the affairs of all, without their consent;  that no consent can give him unlimited power over their bodies and minds;  and that the laws of nature can never be entirely abrogated by positive laws;  but that, on the contrary, the entering into society, and becoming subject to government, is only the parting with natural liberty, in some instances, to be protected in the enjoyment of it in others.

Kasab Taburu (Butcher Brigade), Part Nineteen

       "By the fall of 1920 the Kemalist army was acting on its committment to destroy Armenia, now a precarious, isolated country of genocide refugees ravaged by disease and famine.  Once again Armenia found itself in a situation beyond its control.  In the summer of 1920, the Soviets were pressing Armenia to join the Soviet Union, and war actually broke out between Armenia and the Soviet Union in July.  From the other side of the world--so it seemed--the West was urging Armenia not to join the Soviets, which in the end would cost Armenia even more territory.
       In this tense period a draft of a treaty between Soviet Russia and Kemalist Turkey remained unratified in Ankara because the Soviets now asked that some of Turkish Armenia be awarded to the present Armenian Republic.  The Soviets also asked that the peoples of Turkish Armenia (the term used by the Soviets) and Batum, eastern Thrace, and the regions inhabited jointly by Turks and Arabs should be given the right to decide their own fate.  Refugees living in Soviet Russia, and those who had been made homeless by war and massacre, were to be allowed to return to their homes and participate in a referendum.
       The Turkish response to the Soviet requests is revealing.  Kiazim Karabekir's answer is an early and quintessential statement of Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide.  He retorted:' In Turkey there has been neither an Armenia nor territory inhabited by Armenians. . . . Those [Armenians] living in Turkey committed murder and massacres, and have escaped to Iran, America, Europe, and some of them to Armenia.  How is it possible to call back these murderers and give them the right to vote?'  When Soviet foreign commissar Grigori Chicherin put the same proposal to the Turkish delegation in Moscow, he was told the same thing:  'No Armenian provinces have ever existed in Turkey.'  In this way, the Kemalists were continuing the work of the Young Turks in their effort to erase Armenia in fact and idea from the map it had inhabited."  The Burning Tigris by Peter Balakian, pgs.325-28.