Arimathea
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Philosophy
All wisdom begins in wonder, and this delight kindles a desire for truth that leads us on a quest for the really real -- the source of being itself. Hence, the philosophical impulse, albeit often manifested in atheistic and irreverent stumblings in the dark of human ignorance, begins and ultimately ends in theology -- communicating and communing with our origin and goal. We men are rational animals who seek to know. We are agents of truth who want correct answers to questions that we must ask. From the noblest objects of contemplation to the seemingly insignificant everyday trivialities of life, we attempt to unravel perplexing knots. Limited, blind, and distracted, we nevertheless struggle for wisdom. This is our lot, and it is also our glory.
Sunday, May 31, A.D. 2009
George Tiller, Abortionist and Lutheran Usher

As you may have read, George Tiller, a.k.a. “Tiller the Killer” who performed late term abortions in Wichita, Kansas, was shot to death outside of his Lutheran congregation this morning. According to the National Abortion Federation as reported in The Wichita Eagle, “Tiller was the eighth U.S. abortion provider murdered since 1977, and 17 others had been targeted with attempted murder.” I could not find any incidents reported before A.D. 1977. So, it seems that anti-abortion vigilantism has resulted in eight deaths in the United States. I do not wish to make the deaths of eight people a light matter, but one should bear the number in mind when the media cry about the scourge of anti-abortion violence. Violence in the 1960’s by antiwar protesters and black activists claimed many more lives, and yet the Left does not hold such acts against the peace and civil rights movements. Of course, I should not expect principled consistency by politically motivated journalists.

Unlike the mainstream prolife folks, I do not consider Tiller’s death a tragedy. I certainly do not consider him a hero worthy of candlelight vigils. His line of work was monstrous, and he more than deserved death. He killed innocents for treasure; I can think of few things as revolting. Nonetheless, the murder was foolish and wicked.

First, the murder is bad for the prolife movement; we cannot expect the media or stupid Americans to look at the numbers in an intelligent manner. In the most divisive civil conflict of our age, very few independent agents on one side of the dispute have resorted to violence—a miniscule number compared to agents of violence in other social conflicts. As the prolife side thinks that legal abortion has resulted in fifty million American fatalities, the fact of eight dead abortion providers does not condemn the prolife movement as violent. We should expect to have seen many more, given human passions and the extent of the injustice of abortion. Perhaps, the prolife movement is, after all, prolife.

Second, and far more importantly, vigilantism is an attack on all social order. Presbyterian preacher and abortionist killer Paul Jennings Hill argued in his last words before his execution, “The last thing I want to say: If you believe abortion is a lethal force, you should oppose the force and do what you have to do to stop it. May God help you to protect the unborn as you would want to be protected.” What Hill and his small group of comrades miss is the impact of their outlaw justice to the society at large. Assuming that abortionists do deserve death (as I certainly believe), do we trust their fellow men to exact it? Even in an organized political community, I do not really trust human beings with the power of life and death. The justice system has to exist, but we are all keenly aware of its many shortcomings. In the film version of The Fellowship of the Ring, Jackson has Gandalf deliver a remarkable line, “Many who live deserve death, and some that die deserve life - can you give it to them? Do not be so quick to deal out death and judgement. For even the very wisest cannot see all ends.” I think that we ought to be very wary of anyone who feels confident in such dealing.

Furthermore, do we really wish for every Joe with a grievance to take the law into his own hands? If large, ordered human communities fail so often in meting out justice, think of the lunacy involved with vigilantism. There are indeed instances where society’s rules result in injustice, but we cannot trust men to take matters into their own hands to resolve the injustice. Men would see their pet grievance as the exceptional case where the rules do not work; human beings are adept at rationalizing and at exempting themselves from universal rules that they expect others to follow. Such madness cannot be justified; it is a recipe for overthrowing the social order.

Vigilantism is the last resort for folks who live in a failed society—not a failing society, but a failed and destroyed society. A vigilante asserts that the social order, or what remains of it, is not worth upholding, and then he actively seeks to overturn it. For when one takes justice into his own hands, he jeopardizes the social order. From the perspective of the society, he becomes an enemy—as much as any criminal. I do not think that the United States is incapable of sliding into such a disordered chaos that vigilantism would be morally defensible, but it certainly is not such now. We have working organs of social order and justice. We have corrupt politicians and bad laws, but we also have a stable political process and social order by and in which we can work for reform and improvement. There are millions of people and thousands of institutions that are helping to hold American society together—helping to render it more just and correctly ordered. To kill a monster such as Tiller in disregard of the law and of society is nihilistically to assert that all has already been lost. Moreover, if such were the case, then what good could come from one dead abortionist? A better choice in such a hypothetical Gomorrah would be to retire to the desert to pray.

When I look at history, I conclude that revolutions almost invariably make things worse than they already were. Some aggrieved revolutionary fanatics—“perfectionists with guns,” as someone once remarked on the National Review, attempt to overthrow the status quo in order to usher in the glorious just state that they desire. Yet, the resulting disorder proves that the cure harms people more than the disease. When the chains that bind a society are loosened and anarchy sets in, the weak and innocent become prey to the wolves. What depraved situation would justify such a cost? I am not sure, but I do know that American society is not such a lost cause.

Tiller’s murderer may not have been an anarchist. He may not have realized how his breaking of the law in order to bring a supposed higher justice to a murderer erodes all laws. Nonetheless, his act, like all crimes, whether motivated by hate, greed, or some peculiar dedication to righteousness, harms the whole society by chipping further away at the social order.

Thus, I weep not for Tiller, though I should have rather seen his repentance than his death, but I find the murder, like all murders, a wound in our political body.

Posted by Joseph on Sunday, May 31, Anno Domini 2009
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Saturday, May 23, A.D. 2009
Your Morals

If you like to waste time in a narcissistic manner, you are probably familiar with online personality and political tests. I find these tests mildly entertaining, though the results always annoy me. The questions are just too ambiguous; one needs clarifications and contexts to give sincere answers. It is for this reason that I consistently test as a political “moderate” when it is clear that I would be considered a far right reactionary extremist by most Americans. When the tests crank out their results, I am usually paired up with Tony Blair. It is insulting!

If you are in to this sort of thing, I recommend an online test that Jonathan Haidt manages and uses in his research in morality—YourMorals.Org. There are several different tests on the site that you can do, and they are fairly interesting. Haidt has a political angle in his research, as well. He proposes that Americans’ political loyalties parallel their moral intuitions. You may read his article, “When Morality Opposes Justice: Conservatives Have Moral Intuitions that Liberals may not Recognize.” Unfortunately, Haidt does not seem to consider that his (Leftist) definition of justice may be incorrect. This shortsightedness must lead to distortions in his research, since the terms “fair” and “just” that his test uses have significantly different meanings for different test takers. In trying to determine how the American Right and Left factor the notion of equality in their morality, Haidt’s test ought to frame the questions such that “fairness” does not translate into equality. If the test consistently worded its questions so, I believe that the results for conservatives would differ even more so from the results of Leftists.

Below, you can see a graphic depiction of my own answers to one of his morality tests. The test measures how much one’s morals depends on Haidt’s five sources for moral values. The green bar represents my answers, the blue bar those of “Liberals” (sic), and the red bar those of “Conservatives.”

As I have stated, the “fairness” section is rather inaccurate because it begs the question. Besides that objection, I think that Haidt should add another value source—order. I think that his “purity” category jumbles up the notions of purity and order. Though I can see a resemblance between the two, they cannot be reduced to one another. Moreover, I think much of the stock in authority derives from a value of order. Authority is often simply instrumental to order.

Posted by Joseph on Saturday, May 23, Anno Domini 2009
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Thursday, May 21, A.D. 2009
Color of Change

Earlier this week, one of Auster’s commentators publicized a popular bumper sticker:

I have written before how the Left manipulates American blacks as its useful idiots (for instance, here and here), but it is still fascinating to see the unintended symbolism of such a relationship depicted so vividly.

Though not graphically savvy and without access to any decent image software, I offer my own “Color of Change,” which will soon be the only change that we can afford.

I know, I know. It is stupid, cheap, and childish. It stinks—just like the refuse that we call American politics.

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, May 21, Anno Domini 2009
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Tuesday, May 19, A.D. 2009
Rock and Roll

A couple of years ago, Mark Steyn wrote an article for The New Criterion to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of The Closing Of The American Mind“Twenty years ago today.” Steyn focuses on Allan Bloom’s treatment of music in the book and notes how wide is the aesthetic gulf that separates the generations who grew up with rock and roll from their elders.

But Bloom is writing about rock music the way someone from the pre-rock generation experiences it. You’ve no interest in the stuff, you don’t buy the albums, you don’t tune to the radio stations, you would never knowingly seek out a rock and roll experience—and yet it’s all around you. You go to buy some socks, and it’s playing in the store. You get on the red eye to Heathrow, and they pump it into the cabin before you take off. I was filling up at a gas station the other day and I noticed that outside, at the pump, they now pipe pop music at you. This is one of the most constant forms of cultural dislocation anybody of the pre-Bloom generation faces: Most of us have prejudices: we may not like ballet or golf, but we don’t have to worry about going to the deli and ordering a ham on rye while some ninny in tights prances around us or a fellow in plus-fours tries to chip it out of the rough behind the salad bar. Yet, in the course of a day, any number of non-rock-related transactions are accompanied by rock music. I was at the airport last week, sitting at the gate, and over the transom some woman was singing about having two lovers and being very happy about it. And we all sat there as if it’s perfectly routine. To the pre-Bloom generation, it’s very weird—though, as he notes, “It may well be that a society’s greatest madness seems normal to itself.” Whether or not rock music is the soundtrack for the age that its more ambitious proponents tout it as, it’s a literal soundtrack: it’s like being in a movie with a really bad score. So Bloom’s not here to weigh the merit of the Beatles vs. Pink Floyd vs. Madonna vs. Niggaz with Attitude vs. Eminem vs. Green Day. They come and go, and there is no more dated sentence in Bloom’s book than the one where he gets specific and wonders whether Michael Jackson, Prince, or Boy George will take the place of Mick Jagger. But he’s not doing album reviews, he’s pondering the state of an entire society with a rock aesthetic.

Bloom was a Straussian sort of Platonist, and he thought that Plato’s discussions about the power of music in the Republic and in the Laws were central to his understanding of a healthy political order—and correct. I agree, and I often think about the power of music to ennoble or to debase. I frequently note to myself in religious services how the (Orthodox) Church’s liturgical tradition is a historical expression of the Athenian Stranger’s musical program in the Laws. For therein people constantly sing measured music in praise of good men and of God. They continually reaffirm and remind themselves of the tradition’s doctrines and values. They incorporate into the Church through song, becoming one with it—the musical equivalent of communion. One sees in the Church the old proverb further developed: lex orandi, lex cantandi, lex credendi, lex agendi.

Yet, I did grow up on rock and roll, and though I love older forms of music, too, I still appreciate rock. I wonder, at times, if rock music is as destructive, nihilistic, and animalistic as its critics claim, and I worry that it might be so. I like it anyway; my soul has been permanently tainted as it has developed in the aesthetic environment of contemporary popular music.

However, I believe that something else must be at work besides familiarity. I also grew up surrounded by hideous international style architecture, but I have never liked it. I have always found it inhuman and ugly. If I can resist the nihilistic allure of modern architecture, why can’t I resist that of music? Is it possible that rock and roll is more redeeming than Bloom thinks? For rock derives much of its character from older popular music, and I doubt that Bloom would have found old peasant music a harbinger for civilizational ruin. Nonetheless, when I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland last summer with my sister and nephew, I thought a lot of Bloom and of Plato. Our health depends on our nutrition, and we consume a lot of poison.

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, May 19, Anno Domini 2009
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Sunday, May 17, A.D. 2009
Civilizational Despair

Cassandra Goldman addresses the gnawing dread that traditionalists feel concerning the modern world in her recent post, “What is to be done?” As Goldman points out, there is no horizontal salvation in sight. Sober men like my friend Andrew like to remind us dyspeptic ones that the world has always been so. There is truth to Andrew’s equanimity. Since Cain, the affairs of mankind have always been deplorable. Yet, human beings have survived and have even managed to justify our race’s existence from time to time along the way.

I respond to Goldman’s post (slightly modified):

Melancholic thoughts, indeed. The despair would be even worse if so many conservatives (traditionalists) were not religious folk who store up their treasure in heaven.

Apart from its veracity, I sometimes wonder if such a measured resignation to/from/in/at the world is beneficial or detrimental to civilization. I really don’t know, but I think that the advantages to evaluating mortal life in a larger, transcendent framework outweigh the disadvantages. The materialist and horizontal Left may gain movement fuel from their “this is all that there is” attitude, channeling the natural human hunger for perfection and order into utopian, social engineering schemes, but I cannot help but think that what is false is ultimately disadvantageous. And I find materialism quite unconvincing. Moreover, when one believes that perfection, order, goodness, beauty, and truth are the really real, then it is easier to hope — and to love, both of which are useful motivation and sustenance.

I think of Tolkien’s line in The Return of the King about earthly evil not being able to mar the beauty of the stars:

“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”

Life is more than the decay that we see.

It is for this reason that traditionalists rightly abhor the wicked ways to achieve our aims, such as those mentioned beforehand. When the world is much more than the factual situation of any given moment, then utilitarian and consequentialist justifications for committing evil as a means toward the good fall apart.

Also, I agree that Protestantism is the spiritual side of modernity. I don’t know the causality (if Protestantism is the cause or the effect), but I suspect that it is an accompanying symptom of a greater rot. Already in the high medieval West, the seeds of materialism and secularism were germinating. I personally think that nominalism was the beginning of the end.

Lastly, you point out how we are trapped. Wither go we? I wish that the sci. fi. geeks were on to something and we could develop faster than light speed travel. The world has grown too small, too crowded, and too oppressive. It deadens the spirit. We need an escape (or a great culling by nature). Regardless, it will be painful.

Like Goldman, I think that our time is worse. Never before have so many been so wrong about so much, and never before have those confused and/or malicious people had so much power. Technological advances have raised the stakes of human error. The unraveling of modernity will likely result from its own self-destruction through its hybristic abuse of technology. It is a pity, though, that so much beauty and achievement must pass away with it.

Posted by Joseph on Sunday, May 17, Anno Domini 2009
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Saturday, May 16, A.D. 2009
L’autre c’est nous

Here is yet another entry that involves a dream. The other night, I dreamt that I was having a discussion with an acquaintance of mine. We were disagreeing about a certain point, when she made an argument that surprised me. I granted her point and marveled at her insight. Then, I woke up, still admiring her particular take on the issue when it dawned on me that my own mind had supplied her argument, as well.

The dream was not a mental replaying of a real discussion. We never discussed the topic before. My mind proposed an argument that seemed fitting to her—one that I would not come up with on my own. Yet, I did so, in a sense.

I suppose that I have experienced enough of this woman’s approach to life that I know the peculiar logos of her mind and that such a perspective has now become one of the many voices in my soul. It is commonplace to acknowledge the value of exposure to different view points, but I think that more occurs psychologically in dialogue than simply encountering various sets of opinions and values. In my dream, I was not aware of the sort of thing that my acquaintance would say merely as a matter of fact. Rather, the force of her argument—and of her quite different understanding of the world—impressed me and converted me in my opinion. This appears to show that I do not simply have a casual understanding of her disparate values but that, through dialogue with her, I have absorbed her world view as an integral whole without having assimilated it into my own. It is very strange.

Deliberation often seems like an argument amongst the many voices of the soul. Following various models of the soul, we might describe this internal discussion as one between various appetites or priorities, as a struggle between the rational and the emotive, or as a dispute between our better and worse selves. Perhaps, it is a discussion between the various logical systems that we have encountered in our life, as well. If so, we are, in a certain way, not simply our experiences but the collection of minds with whom we have entered into dialogue, whether textually or verbally. Education and philosophical maturity, then, involve the judging, ordering, and assimilating of these minds.

It occurs to me now that Frank Herbert’s portrayal of Alia’s particular burden of “abomination” in Dune may be a metaphor for this process. Earlier in the week, I wrote about Shai-hulud and now I am writing about Alia. I suppose that Herbert’s own fictional universe that I read several years ago has become one of my many minds that offers its imagery and understanding when I muse.

Posted by Joseph on Saturday, May 16, Anno Domini 2009
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Thursday, May 14, A.D. 2009
A Place for Us

Last summer, my brother Adam, my nephew Austin, and I took a day trip to visit the real Bob Evans Farm in Rio Grande, Ohio. Along the way, Adam and I discussed politics as we weaved through the beautiful rolling hills of southern Ohio on the edge of Appalachia.

I argued that socialism and the welfare state slowly weaken and corrupt societies. I voiced the neoconservative objection to the welfare state; treating adults like children rather than rational, responsible agents leads to civic deterioration and social pathologies when such adults still maintain their freedoms. We simply remove the natural consequences of bad decisions and thereby keep such people from learning the hard logic of life. I also explained my social Darwinian view that our welfare state subsidizes the breeding of the vicious, irresponsible, and stupid; it diverts society’s resources from cultivating the best to be better to making the worse more numerous. I stated that artificially imposed equality by the state is unjust in principle and harmful in practice. It incentivizes behavior that weakens a society and makes beneficial behavior less rewarding.

Adam surprised me with his counter argument. Instead of defending the welfare state as a matter of social justice, he proposed that a certain type of welfare state exists for society’s convenience by removing unproductive and unsightly denizens from the life of the society. The welfare state, ideally, keeps the hobos from the streets and from our daily lives. Of course, if you live in an urban area of the United States, you know how well the welfare state accomplishes that job. Adam responded, though, that such would be far worse without H.H.S. and H.U.D. The welfare state, then, provides a public health and public convenience service for the middle and upper classes by keeping the poorest of the poor from bothering the rest of us.

This is a novel take on the old view of the welfare state as a pressure valve that relieves mounting proletarian rage. You may have heard that Bismarck subdued the Marxists by instituting limited socialism and that Roosevelt made America safe for millionaires by keeping the peasants with pitchforks fed and secure enough to allay their economic anxieties and class resentment. Adam’s argument holds that the welfare state does not simply make the world safe for the rich but more pleasant for everyone. After all, what else should we do with these people?

I remain committed to my opposition to socialism, as its deleterious effects on a population are evident for those with eyes to see. Yet, what are we to do with the least of these?

I think that a good society should allow enough economic dynamism so that a virtuous, talented, and disciplined person may escape his impoverished circumstances and lead a reasonably prosperous life. The United States is such a society, but poverty continues, as it always will, because not everyone is equally virtuous, talented, and disciplined. Naturally, an idiot born into a rich family will fare better than an idiot born into a poor family, but it is less likely that the rich will raise an idiot. Genetics, environmental factors, and choices all matter, and no social construct shy of inhuman totalitarianism can provide even the semblance of an even playing field. Moreover, sometimes, people just have bad luck. A fine bourgeois pedestrian may end up as a paraplegic if an automobile swerves and hits him through no fault of his own. Fortune always plays a role.

Given that the poor will always be with us, what should we do with them? It seems that less industrialized societies fare better in this regard. For as a society increases in its economic and technological complexity, the proportion of the population that has the ability to navigate civil life with success decreases. To argue this, I must first address I.Q.

Let us look simply at intelligence, and by intelligence I mean general problem solving abilities. Dogmatic egalitarians find intelligence research horrifying because they cannot bear to acknowledge the obvious truth that human beings differ in their abilities. They ceaselessly rattle on about studies that show how environmental factors affect I.Q. levels, and they chant the Flynn effect as a mantra. However, the fact that environmental factors influence intelligence does not mean that they are the decisive factors in determining intelligence. It is necessary to look at the evidence and see where it leads. Steve Sailer provides a bounty of information about I.Q., and he is fearlessly honest in such a dishonest age. I recommend his blog; it is insightful, and his style is entertaining to read, as well.

From what I have read, from common sense, and from personal experience, it seems that human beings have innate ranges of potential ability levels and that environmental factors influence where in those ranges people end up. I.Q. junkies often use athleticism as a parallel example because the egalitarians have not brainwashed the many to believe that everyone has the same potentiality in regards to athleticism. It is likely that an athletic training facility could take an “average” child with respect to athletic ability and render that child superior in athletic ability to the vast majority of people. A lot of polishing can make a mediocre specimen shine. Yet, we see that there are exceptional people who excel in athleticism without ever having benefited from such investment. Their musculature, cardiovascular system, reflexes, and the like are just naturally superior to the average person’s. Nature provides us with diversity in populations. As such, if you want to have an athletic Übermensch, you need to invest much in a person with a superior potential, just as the Chinese Olympic machine.

I believe that intelligence is similar, and such explains the Flynn effect. As educational opportunities and a more intellectually demanding lifestyle applied to more and more people in the twentieth century, the intelligence quotient rates for given populations rose. Yet, where we have seen a rise, we have also witnessed a tapering off in the most advanced societies. For modern, industrialized society has increased its investment in cognitive development, and we have seen I.Q. rates rise correspondingly. We might even see further increased rates as we learn more about brain development. Nonetheless, the bell curve remains; it just shifts to the right, and we have noticed that the law of diminishing returns has kicked in.

So, what does I.Q. have to do with poverty? Clearly, less intelligent people are going to have more economic troubles. Achieving material prosperity is a problem, and intelligence is the problem solving skill. Recognizing patterns, seeing connections, analyzing situations, and imagining various solutions to puzzles are all elements of intelligence that contribute to success in life.

In static, caste like societies, there is little social mobility. Thus, it is possible to have people with high intelligence potential remain at the bottom of the social ladder. Consider, for example, Ashkenazim in premodern Europe, and compare their state with the Ashkenazim after Jewish emancipation. By contrast, in an economically open and mobile society like ours, poor people are usually stupid people. Vice leads to poverty, as well, but vice seems to occur with more frequency among the less intelligent. I do not hold that intelligence and virtue are the same, and most of us know smart, wicked individuals. I suspect, though, that virtue demands intelligence. The Forrest Gump type of virtuous idiot is rare; he is of a sort similar to Aristotle’s divine man, whose virtue seems to come inexplicably from the gods. Regardless, the poor are generally stupid, and that is why they remain poor.

I would like to introduce a distinction between two types of poverty. Let us say that there is the meaning of poor as lower class. In that a natural inequality exists among men, there will always be a lower class. Let us also grant another meaning of poor as destitute, meaning unable to provide the basic material needs for oneself and one’s family because of one’s economic situation, some of which are natural and some of which depend on the conventions of one’s society. This meaning of poor as destitute is what interests me.

It seems that the level of economic complexity in a society determines the percentage of the population that can rise above destitution. Imagine an agrarian society with a low population density and abundant land. In such a society, assuming that there is a rule of law and unclaimed land, very few people would be destitute because of their natural abilities. Indeed, even if all the land were controlled by lords, a peasant could make a living working for another. Of course, an intelligent farmer might prosper while an idiotic farmer might scrape by, but scraping by still raises him above our definition of destitution. He can provide for himself as life is relatively simple. The necessary I.Q. to navigate such a society successfully is not very high.

Contrast such a world with our highly complicated and technologically advanced society. There is a much higher proportion of the populace that cannot survive in such a society without the largess and/or management of benefactors and of exploiters, be they individuals, groups, or the state. The material standard of living of the poor in the Western world is quite high, compared to historical standards, but many of these poor only manage such a standard of living because of the welfare state. They could not navigate the modern world on their own.

Aristotle suggests that some men are natural slaves. They are fundamentally unable, through stupidity or vice, to manage their own affairs. They are perpetual children, who must be managed and directed by a mind other than their own defective and insufficient one. Hence, such a man is a natural slave to another man—a master. The Greeks seemed to have suffered no Kantian illusions about treating every human being as an end. An idiot might as well be useful to someone else if he himself is incapable of human agency. For we very well cannot expect a man to look after another man’s good to his own detriment, which would be the case if a fellow busies himself with another person’s good. Yet, we can expect a man to utilize another man as one employs a beast. One should be kind and just, but a master still exploits the labor of the slave. The slave, in turn, has his life managed for him and his action directed to beneficial production.

I wonder if natural slavery provides a solution to our problem. However, given the earlier discussion, I question if one’s status as a natural slave would change depending on the complexity of a society. It seems problematic to consign a person to natural slavery because he cannot function in an advanced society but could have gotten well enough along in colonial America. Maybe this is simply my inner Luddite’s wishes, but perhaps our complex society is inherently incompatible with much of the human race. For unnaturally natural slavery seems unjust, and our current system is unsustainable and self-destructive. Although not a reader of Rand, I ask when Atlas will shrug, or when will the demographic consequences of our current mess lead us to an Idiocracy? We are well on our way.

Furthermore, as a Christian, I find it difficult to accept natural slavery for morons. I enthusiastically embrace natural slavery for the vicious. I think that the wicked should become slaves of the society, but I find it repulsive to treat decent men like animals. Nonetheless, perhaps a moderated form of natural slavery is needed. Such is the wisdom of feudal societies, clans, and the system of the Roman pater familias. If we assigned fools to the care of their kin, such kin would more likely be kind and even beneficent masters. This solution has the further advantage of not increasing the power of the state over the lives of its competent citizens.

We see such a situation in our own society to some extent with people who are so mentally challenged that they cannot even get by on the dole. Without the welfare state and with certain modifications of the law, the destitute unable or unwilling to work voluntarily as servants under another’s charge would be placed in the custody of their families, who would have a legal obligation to look after their stupid relatives. The vicious who endanger their relatives would become natural slaves of the state, having forfeited their freedom by transgressing the law and disrupting the social order.

Our liberal society, based on individual autonomy and self-gratification, would abhor such a transformation. For it would burden family members with obligations not of their choosing, and it would refuse to grant moronic adults their self-determining destruction. Yet, when Western liberal society crushes beneath the weight of its own many follies and confusions, either we shall end up in a state of primitivism wherein most idiots can get by with a hoe or we shall have some form of feudal or clannish order wherein the more clever ones direct the less clever ones. Or likely both . . .

It worked for thousands of generations. It will work in the future.

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, May 14, Anno Domini 2009
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Wednesday, May 13, A.D. 2009
What Women Want

On Lawrence Auster’s View from the Right, there is a fascinating discussion about women, civilization, and the new barbarism that results in the rape and murder of women—“Why Has the Female Sex Lost Its Mind?” Cassandra Goldman’s A Letter to the Times recently featured a similar entry, “How Many Women Does Feminism Have to Kill?” Both threads deal with the miseducation that girls get in our society that leaves them naive and vulnerable to predatory men.

I highly recommend both posts; they show how Leftist social experimentation misunderstands and further corrupts human society. Moreover; Auster’s thread repeatedly brings up the superbly insightful (and quite genial) Anthony Daniels, a.k.a. Theodore Dalrymple.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, May 13, Anno Domini 2009
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Saturday, May 9, A.D. 2009
Musings on a Kashi Cereal Box

Today is the third open house for the European Union in Washington. I have gone to visit the embassies for the first two years, and I have really enjoyed my experiences. So, I’ll make my way to the northwest quadrant to visit the pads of our friends from across the pond. I have not been able to visit the British Embassy, yet. It is my first priority this year, though I hope that they will not ban me from entering for holding values that are opposed to their feckless elite’s social vision. If Geert Wilders and Michael Savage are unacceptable, I surely would not make the cut. O how I love and weep for Albion.

As I was eating my Kashi U cereal with black currants and walnuts this morning, complemented with Silk soy milk, I decided to read the box.

At Kashi, we believe you are what you eat. We also believe you are more than that. So we created Kashi U™ cereal to promote the vitality of life. And in life, everything is interconnected. Just as your systems work together, your body works with other bodies. And everybody unites to build our world.

On the side, I read:

At Kashi, we believe that everything we do can make a difference. Much like choosing a better breakfast can lead to better food choices later in the day, every step towards building a more sustainable earth enables further steps.

Kashi goes on to congratulate itself for its use of recycled paper, wind energy, and biodegradable soy-based inks.

Now, I realize that I should just expect self-righteous preaching and smugness whenever I enter the realm of Stuff White People Like, like Kashi cereal. American Leftists just cannot help themselves, being the direct biological and spiritual children of those dreadful New England Puritans. Alas, I like stuff white people like because I am somewhat white myself, but can’t I just have a tasty breakfast without being lectured by the cereal box?

Jay Nordlinger often writes about the politicization of culture on the National Review. He laments how all sorts of civil events have become stages for political speech, from high school graduations to symphony performances to Thanksgiving parades. We have become so fractured as a society with respect to fundamental beliefs that every public event becomes yet another battleground in an endless culture war. In “My Kingdom for a Safe Zone,” Nordlinger calls for “safe zones” where we can just get on with the business of life.

One would think that breakfast could be a safe zone. Well, if you eat like the enemy, you must live like the enemy. Our enemy is not interested in safe zones. The personal is political, right?

It is not that I disagree with the desire or the efforts to make the world better. I heartily agree that each choice that we make changes the world a little bit for better or worse. As such, we should work toward the good even in the smallest matters. Those sentiments are thoroughly Christian. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much” and “thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

I also fully support conservation efforts and ways to reduce waste.

However, there is something that I find repugnant about Leftist pieties . . . perhaps it is because I see them as secular perversions of Christian roots. Perhaps it is the endless moralizing and preaching, which make it all so comically hypocritical, given the Left’s criticism of traditional religious folks. Perhaps, however, I simply dislike the idea that I might be as obnoxious as I find Leftists, with my exhortations to recycling, composting, mass transportation, and so on. I might, indeed, be as white as they.

As a vegetarian who actually likes classical music (rather than simply purporting to do so), I might even be whiter . . .

Posted by Joseph on Saturday, May 9, Anno Domini 2009
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Thursday, May 7, A.D. 2009
Connie Culp

Earlier in the week, Drudge featured the first facial transplant in the United States. The recipient is a woman named Connie Culp, whose husband shot her in the face six years ago. Miraculously, she survived the shot gun attack, and she has undergone thirty surgeries, with more to follow. You can also read the article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which includes a video with parts of her speech and a remarkable image scan that shows how much shot impacted her face.

Though a Luddite at heart, I marvel at the work of the Cleveland Clinic. Modern medicine in general is pretty amazing. Descartes hoped that his scientific project would help man to overcome the fall, and we see the fruits of the conquest to master nature in this story. I find it troubling for its implications, but it remains undeniably impressive.

Here is Mrs. Culp’s full speech:

I found this story quite moving. I often think that I realize how much that I take for granted, but then I encounter such stories and I am reminded by my casual ingratitude. Never before have I considered not having a nose. How fortunate we are, and how quickly we complain. As Mrs. Culp reminds us, echoing the lessons of Job, you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Fascinated and humbled by Culp’s grace in her ordeal, I looked into her case. Evidently, her husband Thomas Culp shot her and then shot himself. Mrs. Culp remembers the episode well. The husband survived, and he is currently serving seven years in prison. He only received seven years for shooting his wife in the head! Is that justice? Even more remarkable is that Mrs. Culp remains married to him and seemingly has forgiven him.

You may wish to watch an interview with Mrs. Culp by Steubenville’s WTOV—before her facial transplant but after twenty surgeries. In the interview, we discover that Mrs. Culp can barely see now, but she does relate that she could see her husband shoot himself after he shot her. She also tells of the first time that night when she saw herself in a mirror. The story is so dreadful, and yet she perseveres.

It seems that Mrs. Culp is an average, working class Midwesterner. Yet, we see in her story some incredible nobility. Perhaps, there is hope for the human race after all. We have survived for thousands of years. Mrs. Culp—and perhaps the grace of God—indicate why.

Many blessing to Connie Culp.

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, May 7, Anno Domini 2009
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