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.
Thursday, November 29, A.D. 2012
Phallocratic Sitting

Scandinavia in general and Sweden in particular appear to be nearing the Ragnarok of the leftist insanity spiral. Swedish feminists (sic) have instituted “gender reprogramming” in the nation’s schools and commercial marketing, they have called for a ban on urination while standing up, and they have redefined laws on rape to such an extent that a woman may later claim that she silently refused to engage in sexal activity, which would retroactively render the act “rape.” And the American Left balked at Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment! These daughters of the Vikings have introduced a new gender neutral pronoun to replace gender specific pronouns—and not just in ambiguous situations like the Anglophone “h’or sh’it” innovation. The Swedes are mad and madly destroying their society; I sometimes wonder if they ever ceased to be anything but decadent pagans. . . . No, Sweden’s contemporary sickness betrays a fallen Christianity. Pagans could never be so blind to nature.

Yesterday, I discovered yet another sign of their ticking time bomb of social neurosis: Macho in Public. It is a site wherein Swedish women post pictures that they have taken of men who slouch on mass transportation. Vice’s Nathalie Rothschild interviews the site’s owner My Vingren in “Swedish Feminists Are So Bored They’re Telling Men How to Sit on the Bus.” Rothschild reports:

Yet some Swedish women apparently think that the image of the Nordic country as a feminist’s paradise is just a veneer hiding deep-seated misogyny. Their evidence? Men slouching and taking up more than one seat on buses, trains, and subways.

To counter this “normalized expression of power” (that’s what they call slouching), a group of firebrand feminists have set up a blog called “Macho i Kollektivtrafiken” (“Macho in Public Transport”), encouraging readers to send in sneaky snaps of men in relaxed poses. The aim is to spread awareness of a “symbolic and active recreation not just of power, but of a stereotypical form of masculinity.”

Do Swedish women really feel threatened by men who slouch on the subway? Can this seriously be construed as a feminist issue? Do feminists today really view women as weaklings who are traumatized by straddle-legged passengers and who don’t have the guts to tell men to scooch over? It’s tempting to suggest that the women posting pictures of slouching men online should grow a pair, and point out that feminists have fought hard to shake the image of women as thin-skinned victims off and to prove that women have agency, gumption, and power.

I would rather believe that the site is an outlet for Swedish perverts to gaze at men’s laps, but I fear that the delicate Swedettes are sincere. Old fashioned lust is far more acceptable than such a twisted understanding of human society. In the interview, Vingren voices a lot of powerspeak inanities that made me hate college English courses forever.

VICE: Your blog claims that men who take up more space than they physically need when using public transport are practicing an “invisible and unconscious expression of power in an everyday, public space.” Can men oppress women without even knowing it?

My Vingren: Absolutely. I think one of the most problematic aspects of having such an extensive power structure is that a lot of people aren’t even aware that how they act affects others. The fact that men get more space in classrooms, at board meetings, and so on, is part of a structural oppression that not everyone knows they’re taking part in.

What kinds of reasons do men tend to give for taking up more space than women on subways, buses, and trains?

It’s everything from “scrotum sweat is unpleasant,” to “I have the right to sit comfortably,” and “it’s physically impossible for me to sit differently because I have a penis.”

What would you say to those claiming that, in the grand scheme of things, this issue is a “luxury problem”?

My point is that this is part and parcel of the kind of oppression that leads to women being raped, getting lower salaries, and being exposed to violence in relationships.

How does your campaign fit into the history of the feminist struggle for equality?

To talk about space, about who takes and who gives space, I think is a big part of feminism.

Sweden has a reputation abroad as an egalitarian society, almost a feminist paradise. Isn’t that true?

No, it’s not. I work with rape victims so I often see the dark underbelly of our country. Of course, we have reached many goals and women have more choice today than they did 30 years ago, but we are far from equal.

Do you think women can stand up for themselves?

Yes, I’m convinced they can. But I think it’s more effective for girls to work together for change rather than every individual girl having to resolve power-structural issues.

Don’t women have the guts to confront men and tell them to move over, please?

I don’t think women and girls can cope with that. They choose not to take on that battle.

What do you think would happen if a woman told a man to move over? Have you or anyone you know tried?

It’s hard to say how men in general would react. In order for any change to happen I think men need to realize themselves that change is needed.

It seems like many people think your blog is a joke. Why is that?

I really don’t know.

Will the blog make a difference?

Of course, we’re going to change the world.

I would like to emphasize that Vingren states, “My point is that this [slouching] is part and parcel of the kind of oppression that leads to women being raped, getting lower salaries, and being exposed to violence in relationships.” Ponder what a nightmarish brew of ideas must percolate in that nutty Norse noggin. It is most unsettling to contemplate.

Not explored in the article is how leftist ideology—feminism in particular—has rendered traditional etiquette obsolete and has led to widespread neglect in the formation of boys so that they usually become effeminate wimps or feral cads. Also not mentioned is that Sweden’s “legitimate” rape statistics have skyrocketed over the past few decades due to the importation of Africans with a decidely different understanding of sexual relations.

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, November 29, Anno Domini 2012
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Thursday, November 22, A.D. 2012
Lizzie Velasquez

Happy Thanksgiving to my American compatriots!

On this day of feasting and gratitude, we should count our blessings, especially being mindful of the many gifts that we always overlook.

Several months ago, I learnt about Lizzie Velasquez. She cannot gain weight or body fat; there are only three known current cases of her condition. On Miss Velasquez’s page, you may read about her extraordinary life and see the obvious challenges that she faces each day. Despite such, she has quite the spirit. The word is clichéd and Oprahesque, but it is certainly le mot juste here: young Velasquez’s story is inspiring. Watch the videos. I wish that every self-pitying teenager in America could spend a few days with the Velasquez family. It would be a good intervention for their souls.

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, November 22, Anno Domini 2012
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Friday, November 16, A.D. 2012
Obama Is Black

Steve Sailer has understood and explained Obama as a man, politician, and socio-political force better than anyone whom I have read. Unlike most writers who treat Obama’s biography, Sailer is honest and frank about taboos that render contemporary Americans blind and stupid, especially ethnicity.

Having read and thought about Sailer’s ideas for years, it occurred to me this summer that Obama is black because he has a leftist world view. Obviously, I do not mean that Obama’s ideas and convictions have determined his ethnic constitution. I mean that, decades ago, Obama the half-Old American Kansan and half-Kenyan, raised in Indonesia and Hawaii under the tutelage of old leftwing W.A.S.P. forbearance, decended from old leftwing W.A.S.P. forebears, and educated as any Yankee bred prep, traveled to Chicago to insinuate himself into the Negro community of perpetual grievance. He became a race man, not by blood or birth, but by conviction.

American blacks tend to be leftists, or at least they hold enough leftist values to heed leftist manipulators. In a predominantly European derived society, blacks tend to cluster on the left side of many socio-economic bell curves. They are an ethnic proletariat, which makes them susceptible to leftwing agitators. In them, American Marxists have found a plentiful supply of useful idiots. Blacks are leftists because they are black. Yet, Obama is no follower of Alinksy because of his color. The causal relation is the reverse. Obama identifies with the black community because he is a radical. Obama is like the parody white, kufi-wearing Dr. Fingeroot in the Old Negro Space Program, but no one sees the absurdity because Obama looks black.

Sailer has made this point in various ways a hundred times, but it only clicked for me earlier in the year. Evidently, other folks see it more easily. I had been intending to write this post for months, but what finally occasioned it, besides the recent electoral catastrophe that has forced me to think about the president, was Richard Spencer’s post of a humorous Chris Rock “campaign” video: “Our SWiPL President.” Obama is a S.W.P.L. guy. On a related note, Sailer published an article on Vdare earlier in the year about Obama’s literary tastes, “The Sunday Newspaper Test of Presidents,” wherein he comments upon the waspiness of Obama’s preferred reading. I would not be surprised if Obama shopped at Whole Foods before he became president.

Posted by Joseph on Friday, November 16, Anno Domini 2012
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Thursday, November 15, A.D. 2012
A New Conservatism

Last week, the Austerites commiserated in the seal of republic’s destruction. Auster comments upon an essay by Daren Jonescu on American Thinker that refuses to indulge in the standard conservative American wishful thinking tripe; the American republic of the Republican imagination no longer exists. Conservatives cannot win much political power in our current society. Instead of becoming leftist lite in the hope of getting elected, conservatives should rather focus on the war of ideas. Instead of Rovian tactics and compromises, we should testify to the verity of the permanent things. Auster calls for this new conservatism—a conservatism of truth. Commentator James P. then offers powerful words from Solzhenitsyn’s “Live Not by Lies.” It is sage advice.

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, November 15, Anno Domini 2012
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Monday, November 12, A.D. 2012
Phase Change

We just commemorated the ninety-fourth anniversary of the Great War’s end. I recommend that you read “The Gardener” by Kipling if you missed my mention of it over the summer. May the dead find peace, and may our civilization recover from the shock induced madness resulting from the last century’s wars.

For something else fitting for the time, you may wish to read Kristor’s “Phase Change” on the Orthosphere. Kristor’s argument reminds me of Kuhn’s paradigm shifts in the natural sciences.

Is it bad that I wish to live in interesting times? At least, such is preferable to bad times. Écrasez l’infâme is an attractive motto for the heretics of every age.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, November 12, Anno Domini 2012
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Friday, November 9, A.D. 2012
Disappointed by Ann

Ann Coulter has had a few unpleasant weeks. Her political hero fraternized with the enemy, her presidential pick lost the election, and her media buddy gave up the ship to the pirates. Imagine the insufferable commentary that she has to hear now from her friend Bill Maher. Tant pis pour elle.

Though I feel for my favorite lioness, I am saddened by her column this week: “Don’t Blame Romney.” After lamenting that America will not benefit from Romney’s executive talents, Coulter attacks Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock for their giving the Democrats two seats in the Senate:

The last two weeks of the campaign were consumed with discussions of women’s “reproductive rights,” not because of anything Romney did, but because these two idiots decided to come out against abortion in the case of rape and incest.

After all the hard work intelligent pro-lifers have done in changing the public’s mind about a subject the public would rather not think about at all, these purist grandstanders came along and announced insane positions with no practical purpose whatsoever, other than showing off.

While pro-lifers in the trenches have been pushing the abortion positions where 90 percent of the country agrees with us—such as bans on partial birth abortion, and parental and spousal notification laws—Akin and Mourdock decided to leap straight to the other end of the spectrum and argue for abortion positions that less than 1 percent of the nation agrees with.

In order to be pro-life badasses, they gave up two easy-win Republican Senate seats.

No law is ever going to require a woman to bear the child of her rapist. Yes, it’s every bit as much a life as an unborn child that is not the product of rape. But sentient human beings are capable of drawing gradations along a line.

Just because I need iron to live doesn’t mean I have to accept 100,000 milligrams, which will kill me. If we give the guy who passed bad checks a prison furlough, that doesn’t mean we have to give one to Willie Horton. I like a tablespoon of sugar in my coffee, but not a pound.

The overwhelming majority of people—including me—are going to say the law shouldn’t force someone who has been raped to carry the child. On the other hand, abortion should be illegal in most other cases.

Is that so hard for Republicans to say?

Purist conservatives are like idiot hipsters who can’t like a band that’s popular. They believe that a group with any kind of a following can’t be a good band, just as show-off social conservatives consider it a mark of integrity that their candidates—Akin, Mourdock, Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell—take wildly unpopular positions and lose elections.

It was the same thing with purist libertarian Barry Goldwater, who—as you will read in my book, “Mugged: Racial Demagoguery From the Seventies to Obama”—nearly destroyed the Republican Party with his pointless pursuit of libertarian perfection in his vote against the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

I like a band that sells NO albums because it proves they have too much integrity to sell out.

We have a country to save. And just as the laws of elections generally mean the incumbent president wins, they also mean the party out of the White House typically stages a big comeback in midterm elections. BIG. Don’t blow it with purist showoffs next time, Republicans.

Coulter has long been consistent in her political advice, following Buckley’s venerable rule of supporting the most conservative politician electable. I do not fault Buckley or Coulter for this view. In terms of political strategy, it seems sensible. However, one of the roles of law is to teach men what is right and what is wrong. Truth matters in the practical world. When a society leaves the golden path and heads toward perdition, righteous men should speak out against such aberrations and their consequent wickedness. In the United States, we find much evil accepted and celebrated. Just men may argue how best to address the times, but, heeding Isaiah’s warning, they should be unanimous in their commitment to call that which is good good and that which is evil evil. If Republicans aim for the outlawing of abortion at the State level but grant exceptions for the cases of rape, incest, and mortal danger, then such may be an acceptable policy for our society now. However, leaders should not hesitate to point out to the public—to teach the people—that such exceptions are a condescension to a sickness in our society. They should admit and instruct that the basis of the prolife position—that there is an innocent human being whose life is at stake—does not lead to the first two exceptions.

The Republicans’ exceptions are less logical and less morally defensible than the Clintonian Democrats’ goal of making abortion “safe, legal, and rare.” If abortion is a hunky dory medical procedure “between a woman and her doctor,” then why should it be rare? No one says that periodic tooth cleaning should be rare or that colonoscopy should be rare (well, many may wish otherwise, but . . .). However, one could say that abortion should be rare because it is a medical procedure to “fix” an unfortunate situation (unwanted pregnancy), and we should reduce the frequency of that unfortunate situation. In this way, abortion would be like cancer treatment—it should be rare not because the treatment is objectionable but because we want to eliminate the condition. The Republicans admit that they oppose abortion because it kills innocent children. They acknowledge the salient fact. Nonetheless, they then proceed to justify murder in certain cases that do not weigh a life against a life. In the cases of pregnancy by rape or incest, we weigh an innocent human life against a victim of sexual abuse’s aggrieved state. What exactly are we supposed to achieve by killing the unborn baby in such cases? The removal of a painful reminder? A rape victim is not going to forget the trauma of sexual assault, pregnant or not. The removal of miasma? If we accept spiritual purity as a legitimate basis of law, then we must do quite an extensive revision of our legal code. Even so, capital punishment for the perpetrator and handing over the child to a convent appear better solutions to miasmic contamination than compounding the offense with innocent blood. The removal of an unjust burden? Unfortunately, bad things sometimes happen to good people, though laws and political policies may temper the effects of bad fortune. Instead of killing babies conceived in horrid circumstances, our society could recompense the victim, preferably by confiscating the property of the perpetrator (or wages earned in slave labor, if the vicious is allowed to live).

I was raised in a prolife home. My mother began toting me to anti-abortion marches in elementary school. However, I always heard the unquestioned acceptance of the “hard case” exceptions, together, of course, with the relevant statistics—the percentage of abortions that involve the “hard cases” is quite small. So, I accepted the exceptions, as well, never thinking more about the issue. When I was a fourteen year old high school freshman, I befriended a girl whom I met in a religious youth group. She was from a troubled family, and she told me more and more of her story as we got to know each other better. I remember well the night that she told me she had suffered sexual abuse by her stepfather. She had become pregnant, and her mother made her get an abortion to “fix” the problem. My friend told me that she was haunted by her action—and by the thought of her child. She suffered every day; abortion did not solve her “hard case.” Her grief struck me profoundly. Of course, I sympathized with her. I wished that I could have removed her from the trauma that she experienced. Yet, her personal story made abortion in “hard cases” real to me. A pregnancy from rape was still a pregnancy, and an abortion of a baby conceived after rape was still an abortion. Such is obvious, but my mind had relegated the phenomena into their own special unexamined state until my friend’s pain reified them. How could I deny the humanity of such children? How could I consider murder an acceptable therapy for a victim of a horrific crime? From that night, I rejected the “hard case” exceptions. I knew no one who thought similarly until I went to college, where I encountered others who analyzed morality from principle rather than from politically useful myopia.

That said, I support incremental approaches to legal reform because such saves lives and moves the national conscience closer to where it should be. I moreover recognize that our laws cannot instill perfect virtue. Thomas reminds us of such in the Summa Theologiae (I-II, 96-2):

The purpose of human law is to lead men to virtue, not suddenly, but gradually. Wherefore it does not lay upon the multitude of imperfect men the burdens of those who are already virtuous, viz. that they should abstain from all evil. Otherwise these imperfect ones, being unable to bear such precepts, would break out into yet greater evils: thus it is written (Psalm 30:33): “He that violently bloweth his nose, bringeth out blood”; and (Matthew 9:17) that if “new wine,” i.e. precepts of a perfect life, “is put into old bottles,” i.e. into imperfect men, “the bottles break, and the wine runneth out,” i.e. the precepts are despised, and those men, from contempt, break into evils worse still.

It is for this reason that I find Republicans’ condescension morally acceptable to support, though only strategically and, ideally, temporarily. Even so, I support an unwavering fidelity to solid moral reasoning and sound principle. By contrast, Coulter’s damns intellectually consistent prolifers. Consider the “disaster” of Richard Mourdock. Mourdock stated, “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” The dishonest minions of hell twisted Mourdock’s wholly mainstream Christian understanding of God’s role in the proliferation of the human race by stating that Mourdock’s God intends rape. Mourdock’s Democratic opponent and eventual victor Joe Donnelly shamelessly reponded, “The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in, does not intend for rape to happen—ever. What Mr. Mourdock said is shocking, and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful to survivors of rape.” The alinksied Mourdock clarified his remarks, “What I said was, in answering the question from my position of faith, I said I believe that God creates life. I believe that as wholly and as fully as I can believe it. That God creates life. Are you trying to suggest that somehow I think that God pre-ordained rape? No, I don’t think that. That’s sick. Twisted. That’s not even close to what I said. What I said is that God creates life.” Instead of attacking the Democrats for their bad faith and instead of defending a normal Christian understanding of God’s role in life, the Right from Romney’s campaign to pundits like Coulter denounce and blame Mourdock. Rather than sinking to the lowest level of idiocratic pandering, conservatives could ask Mourdock’s “Christian” detractors how they conceive of divine providence in a fallen world. It is not a simple issue, and I have never been able to get a satisfying grasp on the issue. Yet, Mourdock’s position appears to be a standard theologoumenon. In our age of the anti-Christs, though, fundamental Christian doctrines—and those who espouse them—are anathema.

Though of lesser importance, Coulter’s swipe at Goldwater disheartens me, as well. Goldwater’s courageous and prophetic opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an attempt to defend the American constitutional regime from a bloodless revolution that has rendered us ever more shackled by intrusive statists (well, not so bloodless, actually . . .). American conservatives should never have accepted the leftist attack on the freedom of association and the freedom of contract. They should have never accepted the underpinning mechanism of racial Marxism, whereby the government tramples on American liberties—and American individuals—in its interminable quest to “close the gap” between different ethnic groups. For all his faults, Goldwater’s stand should remain a source of pride and inspiration for American conservatives, even a touchstone in determining the proper role of government in a liberal republic of the Anglo-Saxon tradition. If we are unable or unwilling to defend the basic principles of the traditional American regime, what good is there in scraping over policies to which those neglected principles redound? In Christian theological terms, Coulter would have had the Boston Congregationalists reject trinitarianism but argue vociferously with the Unitarians about hymnography.

Goldwater and his supporters were the Spartans at Thermopylae. Would Coulter counsel Republicans to follow Ephialtes?

Posted by Joseph on Friday, November 9, Anno Domini 2012
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Wednesday, November 7, A.D. 2012
Just Desserts

The citizens of these United States have made their choice. I firmly believe that President Obama is the leader that our society deserves. As I stated last week in “Buchanan Endorses Romney,” Joseph de Maistre’s aphorism always holds true.

My own thoughts accord with those of Lawrence Auster: “How we have lost America and put ourselves under the power of leftists, aliens, and parasites who intend our harm.” He wrote last week:

The fact that such a failed, irresponsible, unworthy, lying, leftist, anti-American president is in such a tight race against such a plausible and competent opponent, instead of facing the certainty of a Carter-type repudiation by the electorate, is a very sobering indicator of the state of our country. It confirms the view, held by some on the right, that America has already been transformed into a different country, a country in which blacks, Hispanic and other nonwhite immigrants, single women, and alienated white leftists—constituencies that hardly existed or were largely insignificant fifty years ago—now exercise virtual control over our politics and assure the county’s ever more leftward course. Therefore, even if the Republicans manage to pull out a victory this time, and in office slow down the country’s leftist march somewhat, and in particular stop the imminent catastrophe of Obamacare, all of which I very much hope happens, America in the long run is still lost. Our future is to be a country ruled by a coalition of nonwhite parasites and white leftist scum.

For generations, men in the West have refused to patrol the city walls and to defend their people from the barbarians; they have acquiesced to internal and external, spiritual and bodily foes. Such cowardice and negligence lead inevitably to the city’s ruin. It is no surprise for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, November 7, Anno Domini 2012
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Tuesday, November 6, A.D. 2012
The Consolation of Bonald

It is election day in these United States of America. Over on the Orthosphere, Bonald has posted a consolation for those of us who find either electoral outcome depressing: “What consolation? An inner dialogue.” (Though, of course, I find one outcome far worse than the other—both for its near-immediate consequences and for what it implies about the nation). Bonald’s lament and hopeful rejoinder reminds me of Samwise Gamgee’s realization of transcendence in The Return of the King:

The land seemed full of creaking and cracking and sly noises, but there was no sound of voice or of foot. Far above the Ephel Duath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. 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. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master’s, ceased to trouble him. He crawled back into the brambles and laid himself by Frodo’s side, and putting away all fear he cast himself into a deep untroubled sleep.

Though I agree with Bonald’s overall point, I disagree with his set-up. He finds the current nightmarish trajectory of the West sustainable. I find his pessimism ludicrous. The next post on the Orthosphere is Kristor’s correction: “Evil if Autophagous.” Wickedness devours itself; it cannot last.

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, November 6, Anno Domini 2012
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Monday, November 5, A.D. 2012
Klein Researches Romney

My favorite leftist journalist Ezra Klein has an insightful article about Mitt Romney and about his approach to leadership on Bloomberg: “Running the Data on a Romney Presidency.” Klein is maturing into the Left’s version of Byron York—a true political journalist.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, November 5, Anno Domini 2012
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Friday, November 2, A.D. 2012
Buchanan Endorses Romney

Patrick Buchanan has endorsed Romney for president. Obviously, Buchanan would not endorse Obama, but it is always interesting when an alienated and estranged “paleocon” condescends to support a Republican. I know his grief.

Buchanan’s endorsement begins with a sober reflection upon the state of the republic before it mentions Romney. The contrast between what is needed and what is offered is startling—so rare it is to see principled, thoughtful socio-political analysis juxtaposed with active partisan cheerleading. For real conservatives tend to dislike the Grand Old Party, even if we often end up voting for the bastards less wicked. Even if “Romney will be the most accomplished incoming president since Dwight Eisenhower” (according to Ann Coulter’s endorsement), does anyone believe that he is up to the task to “transform” America, albeit as a return to its roots? One emperor may cripple an empire, but the work of building it extends far beyond the ability of one man or even of one generation.

Buchanan writes:

“Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.”

So wrote John Jay in Federalist No. 2, wherein he describes Americans as a “band of brethren united to each other by the strongest ties.”

That “band of brethren united” no longer exists.

No longer are we “descended from the same ancestors.”

Indeed, as we are daily instructed, it is our “diversity” — our citizens can trace their ancestors to every member state of the United Nations — that “is our strength.” And this diversity makes us a stronger, better country than the America of Eisenhower and JFK.

No longer do we speak the same language. To tens of millions, Spanish is their language. Millions more do not use English in their homes. Nor are their children taught in English in the schools.

As for “professing the same religion,” the Christianity of Jay and the Founding Fathers has been purged from all public institutions. One in 5 Americans profess no religious faith. The mainline Protestant churches — the Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran and Presbyterian — have been losing congregants for a half-century. Secularism is the religion of the elites. It alone is promulgated in public schools.

Are we attached to “the same principles of government”?

Half the nation believes it is the duty of government to feed, house, educate and medicate the population and endlessly extract from the well-to-do whatever is required to make everybody more equal.

Egalitarianism has triumphed over freedom. Hierarchy, the natural concomitant of freedom, is seen as undemocratic.

Are we similar “in our manners and customs”? Are we agreed upon what is good or even tolerable in music, literature, art?

Do we all seek to live by the same moral code? Abortion, a felony in the 1950s, is now a constitutional right. Homosexual marriage, an absurdity not long ago, is the civil rights cause du jour.

Dissent from the intolerant new orthodoxy and you are a bigot, a hater, a homophobe, an enemy of women’s rights.

Recent wars — Vietnam, Iraq — have seen us not “fighting side by side” but fighting side against side.

Racially, morally, politically, culturally, socially, the America of Jay and the Federalist Papers is ancient history. Less and less do we have in common. And to listen to cable TV is to realize that Americans do not even like one another. If America did not exist as a nation, would these 50 disparate states surrender their sovereignty and independence to enter such a union as the United States of 2012?

Nor are we unique in sensing that we are no longer one. Scotland, Catalonia and Flanders maneuver to break free of the nations that contain their peoples. All over the world, peoples are disaggregating along the lines of creed, culture, tribe and faith.

What has this to do with the election of 2012? Everything.

For if America is to endure as a nation, her peoples are going to need the freedom to live differently and the space to live apart, according to their irreconcilable beliefs. Yet should Barack Obama win, the centralization of power and control will continue beyond the point of no return.

His replacement of any retiring Supreme Court justice with another judicial activist — a Sonia Sotomayor, an Elena Kagan — would negate a half-century of conservative labors and mean that abortion on demand — like slavery, a moral abomination to scores of millions — is forever law in all 50 states.

President Obama speaks now of a budget deal in which Democrats agree to $2.50 in spending cuts if the Republicans agree to $1 in tax increases. But given the character of his party — for whom Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, food stamps, Head Start, earned income tax credits and Pell Grants are holy icons — any deal Obama cuts with Republicans in return for higher taxes will be like the deal Ronald Reagan eternally regretted.

The tax hikes become permanent; the budget cuts are never made.

In the first debate, Mitt Romney said that in crafting a budget that consumes a fourth of the economy, he would ask one question: “Is the program so critical that it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?”

If a President Romney held to that rule, it would spell an end to any new wars of choice and all foreign aid and grants to global redistributionsts — such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It would entail a review of all U.S. alliances dating back to the Cold War, which have U.S. troops on every continent and in a hundred countries.

Obama offers more of the stalemate America has gone through for the past two years.

Much more than a reversal of Obamacare needs to be done to salvage the American nation. I am tempted to agree with the Marxist strategy of “the worse, the better.” Nonetheless, I voted a few weeks ago for Romney just as I voted in dismay for McCain and Bush before him. I disagree with the Orthosphereans who counsel us to refrain from voting. I wrote four years ago in “As the 2008 Election Nears, a Personal Story”:

Well, my love-affair with politics ended when I went to college. I entered with the intention of majoring in politics and international affairs only to have my belief in America, democracy, and liberalism smashed to pieces. I embraced Plato and threw away Locke. I saw how Thomas Aquinas made better sense than Madison. I came to see the cultural revolution that led to the destruction of Western civilization as the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, not the 1960’s. Previous heroes like Jefferson became for me a source of disgust and shame—even a complex sense of betrayal. I refused to vote, as I did not wish to be implicated in the cesspool of American demagogic democracy. I realized that my own untenable liberalism was related to my unreflective belief in democracy as the only political system possible. For if we are going to governed by the ignorant, emotive masses, then the government must have very little power. At least, then, the wise can get along in their own pursuit of the good without being hassled by the herd.

I do not now think that any of those sentiments or judgments are wrong—except that we do not have the luxury of being apolitical animals. I know that many people disparage Leo Strauss, but on this point, I believe that he helped me temper my unrealistic absolutism. No one in the history of the world has lived in a regime that was wisely governed. Even if the occasional virtuous and wise man leads—if by divine design or chance a philosopher and a king happen to occur in the same person—such a person is yet a mortal living among mortals. There is only so much such a man can do to make his society conform more to the natural law. For passions, petty interests, ignorance, and vice are ever present in human affairs. I knew early on that human problems cannot be solved but only managed, but this insight did not translate for me into the obvious conclusion that we therefore should still invest ourselves with the management. For we are still political animals, even if we are fated to live in a fallen world. It is the mark of the fanatical purist to starve to death rather than to eat with the unclean.

So, as the Republic and the Laws make clear, we live in a world where the best and just social arrangement does not exist and frankly cannot exist given our contradictory nature. Utopian schemes fail to understand that truth about the human condition . . . they gasp and strive after that one more revolution, which we’ll finally get right. If only this or that cog in the system could be change, if only that obstacle, human or otherwise, could be removed, we would be closer to the just society. These folks learn nothing from books, history, or their own eyes—they just see the shining city on the hill, the existence of which would be worth any price, any effort—any sacrifice.

Knowing this, we must make do with what we have. I think of Gandalf’s wonderfully Stoic response to Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring:

Frodo: “Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?”

Gandalf: “Such questions cannot be answered . . . You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.”

Jackson’s film version also deals with it well:

Frodo: “I wish none of this had ever happened.”

Gandalf: “So do all who live to face such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

These are very wise words, as we should expect from Tolkien. The absence of perfection does not excuse us of the duties of human life. As political animals, we have a duty to our community and to ourselves to engage ourselves in the life of the city for the common good.

Certainly, this involvement can and should take different forms for each person and each set of circumstances. Some may fulfill it most in teaching, or being an honest tradesmen, or raising good children, or conducting the power of the political regime with an impartial eye that seeks the good of the community.

Moreover, a representative democracy is what we Americans have. As I stated earlier, such a regime as now exists in the United States is a formula for foolish and unjust government. As Andrew says, belief in democracy is the commitment to the proposition that one half of the rulers should have below average intelligence, below average wisdom, below average virtue, below average experience in political affairs, and so on. It is pure madness, but it is what we have now—a republic, if we can keep it. Therefore, we should work to protect ourselves from its harmful tendencies. This is, perhaps, what the wiser of the American founders desired—a republic tempered against its inherent instability and flaws.

Some folks would counsel letting the sinking ship go down into the deep. All attempts to make it more seaworthy are just delaying the day when the vessel takes people down. I see reason in such ideas, but there is something rather inhuman about that calculating—it reminds me of eugenic infanticide. For the inevitable day might truly come, but it seems to me that we should defend the city nonetheless while we have strength. Perhaps, this is simply a matter of political sentiment rather than reason, but allowing one’s community to disintegrate, even with good long-term intentions, feels ignoble and wrong. You may put obstacles and difficulties in your children’s life because you love them and know that such challenges will make them stronger. No good mother, however, poisons her child so that another more promising child can come to take his place. Moreover, every sinking ship results in deaths and destruction; should we willingly stand by? Even terrible human regimes are often replaced by worse ones, which is a good argument against revolution. Radical social upheaval rarely—possibly never—does the body politic good. I’ll likely revisit this strategic-political topic in the future, but enough of it now.

September 11, A.D. 2001 likely had an effect on my anti-Americanism, as well. For I had a love-hate relationship with my society as I have a love-hate relationship with many things. Yet, when it actually occurred to me that the United States could be vulnerable (obvious enough, but the human mind is a silly power sometimes), my sentiments shifted considerably. Maybe I was just getting older and hopefully wiser. At any rate, I came to be more open to and honest about the great things of America. When you are in love with perfection, it is a an easy step to loathe the imperfect as such and not simply its imperfection. Annoying traits in your family might bother you more than the same behavior that you see in others. Hume appears correct here—our desire to think well of ourselves leads us to wish everything connected to us to be fine, as well, for our own sake. Vanity publically celebrates others while privately congratulating the self. Anyway, in my adult years, I have come to see the beauty as well as the ugliness in American life. As all things human, political society is complex, being both a cause for celebration and for mourning—a mark of pride and a stain in need of repentance.

So, having been convicted of civic irresponsibility, I registered to vote again as an independent. . . .

Regardless of the election’s outcome, Joseph de Maistre’s aphorism will hold true:

Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite. De longues réflexions et une longue expérience, payée bien cher, m’ont convaincu de cette vérité comme d’une proposition de mathématiques. Toute loi est donc inutile et même funeste (quelque excellente qu’elle puisse être en elle-même), si la nation n’est pas digne de la loi et faite pour la loi.

Posted by Joseph on Friday, November 2, Anno Domini 2012
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