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.
Politics
The art of the common good
Tuesday, February 9, A.D. 2016
Köselitz contra Fukuyama

Happy birthday to my father! Many more years to you!

Henry Köselitz has an excellent little essay on the Radix Journal site: “History Isn’t Over.” He mentions Francis Fukuyama’s well known description of the world after the fall of the Soviet Union and the establishment of American hegemony in the 1990s—the “end of history”—and notes how history is refusing to end. In other words, mankind stubbornly refuses to accept universalist, liberal, commercial republicanism as the only show in town. Indeed, there are good reasons to think that the curtain call for that production is nearing. From Köselitz’s essay:

Liberal regimes cannot pay their debts because Liberal regimes do not have the population base necessary to sustain a modern welfare state. All Liberal regimes have below replacement birth rates, creating a situation in which there are not enough workers to produce the wealth required to provide for medical care for retirees and benefits for those unable to find work in an economy increasingly geared towards those on the right-hand side of the bell curve. As this trend is found in every Liberal regime, it is not an accident. This fall in population is the direct result of the sexual revolution, the deconstruction of the family, and the pursuit of economic growth at all costs, all of which are a natural outgrowth of Liberalism’s belief in the autonomy and equality of the individual.

The sexual revolution separated sex from fertility; it desacralized sex, made it just another recreational activity instead of the foundation of the family. The patriarchal family itself came under attack by feminism, which objected to male leadership in both the public and private sphere, and actively worked to delegitimize the family and the mores and institutions which supported it. This project was aided by businesses which wished to increase the supply of labor, thus reducing its value. All of these trends contributed to falling fertility rates, and are products of principles of equality and individual autonomy followed to their logical conclusion. Liberal regimes cannot defend their borders or protect their citizens from crime because Liberalism cannot delineate an “Us” or a “Them”. They are unable to do this because Liberalism contends that human society is merely an aggregation of autonomous and equal individuals each pursuing their own rational self interest. It thus must deny the existence of the Other. It is not possible to conceive of an Other because to do so would be to “discriminate”. Discrimination is the act the valuing of one thing over another, thus the act by its very nature violates the Liberal moral principle of equality. Because of this, a Liberal regime cannot consider questions of identity when shaping its immigration policy without contradicting its highest moral principles. It is no accident that Liberal regimes are importing millions of “refugees” who have open disdain for the values and culture of Europe and have nothing in common with the European populations which they are “enriching”. It also why Liberal regimes throughout the world have long allowed their inner cities to become third world slums.

Exactly! Liberalism eventually lobotomizes its adherents. The above words bear repeating: “. . . Liberalism cannot delineate an ‘Us’ or a ‘Them’. They are unable to do this because Liberalism contends that human society is merely an aggregation of autonomous and equal individuals each pursuing their own rational self interest. It thus must deny the existence of the Other. It is not possible to conceive of an Other because to do so would be to ‘discriminate’. Discrimination is the act the valuing of one thing over another, thus the act by its very nature violates the Liberal moral principle of equality.” Human beings are social by nature, and rational self interest involves a network of interests—because the self finds its context among broader associations—a series of “us’s.” Liberal societies are naked and vulnerable, internally and externally, to men who refuse to intoxicate themselves on eighteenth century hallucinations. Their tribes unite and find the decadent West a low hanging fruit ripe for picking—and devouring. There are barbarians at the gate, but there are no guardians at the tower, and the gate is kept open on principle. Hence, liberal regimes will fall. The question remains to what extent any remnant of their host civilization survives. This is why I refuse to rejoice at the coming disaster. I do not want modernity’s violent death to destroy anything else; for its life has marred the world beyond the fantasies of hell.

I have never read Fukuyama; I only know of the “end of history” as I know about Confucius’ Mandate of Heaven—through cultural osmosis. With apologies to Fukuyama who may have addressed the irony himself, I find it amusing that someone would identify the rise of liberal capitalist imperium as “the end of history,” which reeks of Marxist obsession with Hegelian dialectic—the thought paradigm of the very people whose utopia just self-destructed. Maybe, such was Fukuyama’s point, and he has fun with it. After all, his famous book is titled The End of History and the Last Man. How can that the second part of that title not proceed from an intellectual’s smirk?

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, February 9, Anno Domini 2016
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Thursday, February 4, A.D. 2016
Pollack’s Respectful Whistle

Insanity is rampant, and there is no shortage of material for cultural critics. Nonetheless, I recommend a brief but clear post that Malcolm Pollack published last summer about the Obama administration’s clever strategy on the racial Marxism front: “A Respectful Whistle.” Perhaps, clever is not the appropriate word. It is not tactically brilliant to muster and direct one’s forces to attack a wide break in the enemy’s defense. That is war 101, right, if not just common sense? Thus, it is not so much that leftist strategy is brilliant as it is that American “conservatives” are blind, imbecilic, or pusillanimous (and possibly all three) when it comes to ethnic matters. So, why shouldn’t Obama’s henchmen have a little opportune fun with our Nation of Cowards?

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, February 4, Anno Domini 2016
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Wednesday, February 3, A.D. 2016
Stereotype Affirmation

Claire Lehmann wrote an article of substance on Quillette about the current state of psychology research, the work of Lee Jussim, and studies about stereotypes: “How a rebellious scientist uncovered the surprising truth about stereotypes.” The irony is that the truth about stereotypes is not at all surprising—it is what careful observers of the human condition have always known. What is surprising in Lehmann’s report, sadly, is how information that does not complement Party doctrine (the “Narrative” as some folks like to say) gets shelved or ignored in a society wherein most everyone voices encomia to the values of transparency, objectivity, and rationality. What a sham—those Potemkin principles of the modern university! Ask Charles Murray, James Watson, Robert Oscar Lopez, or Lawrence Summers about their esteemed colleagues’ and institutions’ commitment to open inquiry in search of truth. See how school administrators, “educators,” and today’s students handle what Steve Sailer calls “hatefacts”—those unpleasant, counter-narrative truths that might trigger cognitive dissonance among upstanding, right-thinking citizens. Dedication to science!?!? Hooey!

Jussim’s experience should surprise and appall the academic world, but that will not happen. We should be shocked by the established, pervasive, willful deceit in our society, but its ubiquity accustoms us to its perversity. Kudos, though, to folks like Jussim—and Lehmann—who fight the good fight.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, February 3, Anno Domini 2016
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Friday, January 29, A.D. 2016
Kalb on Trump

Last October, James Kalb wrote about the rise of Donald Trump in the context of “political correctness”: “Trump and the Culture of Political Correctness.” Kalb argues that Trump’s spectacle of a campaign, while showy and bacchanalian, is nevertheless less unreal than the official narrative of the American establishment, which refuses to acknowledge its own masquerade. The vivid contrast between the clown who tells the truth and the marm who gravely speaks what everyone knows to be nonsense has set Trump on the path to the White House.

Trump’s campaign has been a personal delight for me ever since he announced his candidacy by forcing the media and the politicians to address the national question. Trump—the smasher of leftist bars on the Overton window. What joy! I do not know whether he will succeed in winning—but I am surprisingly pleased by the American presidential race this year. I put no trust in the sons of men, but I quite enjoy seeing an unholy fool mock the wicked and dishonest sanctimony of the powers that be.

Posted by Joseph on Friday, January 29, Anno Domini 2016
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Wednesday, January 27, A.D. 2016
Ellis Objects to the Happiness Patrol

Last month, Bret Easton Ellis penned an essay reflecting on our culture in The New York Times, “Bret Easton Ellis on Living in the Cult of Likability.” I recommend Ellis’ insights on the “reputation economy” and the stifling, inclusive blandness to which we are obliged to conform and pay hommage.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, January 27, Anno Domini 2016
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Friday, January 22, A.D. 2016
Two Different Takes on Philosopher Kings

May the Lord have mercy on our nation.

I have tried to avoid watching televised political debates and campaign interviews over the past several months, but I have, at times, wandered into them. On a few such occasions, I have cringed when Senator Cruz and others have mentioned “philosopher kings” with disgust. As any student of Plato’s Republic will know, the intended targets of the politician’s ridicule can in no way be considered philosopher kings, the rule of whom we certainly do not deserve (per de Maistre and good sense).

Well, at least one journalist has called Cruz on his wording, “Ted Cruz is the bad guy in his own philosophic narrative.” I confess that I find it irritating to agree with a whippersnapper leftwing activist in his criticism of the Right’s senator sweetheart. Republican voters deserve better politicians (—or do they, M. de Maistre?).

Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon has also recently addressed philosopher kingship in Touchstone, where he meditates on the proper role of Adam (and, by extension, us) in creation. It is worth your time.

Posted by Joseph on Friday, January 22, Anno Domini 2016
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Monday, January 11, A.D. 2016
Migrant Sexual Assault = Mean Internet Comments

Insanity is not the correct term for the West’s mentality. From the BBC’s “Cologne sex attacks ‘require police rethink’” (emphasis mine):

“Police in Germany will have to rethink their tactics following attacks on women in the city of Cologne on New Year’s Eve, a senior official has said.

Ralf Jaeger, interior minister for North Rhine-Westphalia, said police had to “adjust” to the fact that groups of men had attacked women en masse.

Three suspects had been identified, he said, but no arrests had been made.

Scores of women say they were robbed or sexually assaulted by men, reportedly of Arab or North African appearance.

Mr Jaeger also warned that anti-immigrant groups were trying to use the attacks to stir up hatred against refugees.

“What happens on the right-wing platforms and in chatrooms is at least as awful as the acts of those assaulting the women,” he said. “This is poisoning the climate of our society.”

This reminds me (and evidently many others) of the Fort Hood incident. General Casey, then Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, infamously responded to the murder of American soldiers by a “fellow American” with, “Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”

I really do look forward to the day when our enemies’ enablers are lined up against walls throughout the West and shot by future insurrectionists. That day will be terrible, but the earth groans for its dawn. Such vermin deserve their fate, and I cannot muster a Christian apology for them. That is a confession, not hyperbole. There is no love or forgiveness in my soul for them—only a deep revulsion at their miasmic filth.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, January 11, Anno Domini 2016
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Tuesday, September 15, A.D. 2015
Paglia on the Faculty

Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine interviewed Camille Paglia, wherein Paglia voiced some provocative words about the American university: “Everything’s Awesome and Camille Paglia Is Unhappy!” Paglia states:

Paglia: I am an equal opportunity feminist. I believe that all barriers to women’s advancement in the social and political realm must be removed. However, I don’t feel that gender is sufficient to explain all of human life. This gender myopia has become a disease, a substitute for a religion, this whole cosmic view. It’s impossible that the feminist agenda can ever be the total explanation for human life. Our problem now is that this monomania—the identity politics of the 1970s, so people see everything through the lens of race, gender, or class-this is an absolute madness, and in fact, it’s a distortion of the ‘60s. I feel that the ‘60s had a vision, a large cosmic perspective that was absolutely lost in this degeneration, in this splintering of the 1970s into these identity politics.

reason: Was it just that the revolution eats its own? Or is it that there’s a shrinking economic pie, so people started grabbing for whatever they could before the Titanic goes down? What explains that narrowing?

Paglia: I actually wrote an entire essay about the religious vision of America in the 1960s in “Cults and Cosmic Consciousness.” I feel that the real visionary thinkers of my generation destroyed their brains on drugs. LSD just leveled all the truly talented people of my generation.

reason: I have to say that this conversation is over! So who were the people who destroyed themselves on drugs?

Paglia: My classmates. The authentic imaginations, the really innovative people of my generation, the most daring of my generation took the drug. Now I, for some reason, felt that the LSD was untested, and I did not want to experiment with it. But I was very interested in it. I was interested in all types of vision quests at the time. I went up with fellow students [from SUNY-Binghamton] to see Timothy Leary speak at Cornell. I saw him, and it made me uneasy that here was the guru with such a crowd around him, but his face was already twitching. I could see that this was not going to end well, and it did not.

So when I got to graduate school in 1968, I can attest to the fact that no authentically radical student of the 1960s ever went to graduate school. So all that were left were the time-servers, who parasitically [lived] on the achievements of the 1960s, for heaven’s sake. Any authentic leftist who had a job at a university in the 1970s or ‘80s or ‘90s should have been opposing the entire evolution of the university-that is, toward this administrative bureaucracy that has totally robbed power from the faculty. The total speciousness and fraud of academic leftism is proven by the passivity of these people in every department of the university to that power play that happened.

Re-read that last paragraph, and re-read it, again. Then, sputter a series of expletives and amens. But is she right? I don’t know, but it makes me wonder.

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, September 15, Anno Domini 2015
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Tuesday, August 11, A.D. 2015
Christina Hoff Sommers on Trigger Warnings

Count your blessings if you have not yet encountered the cowardly new world of trigger warnings. For a briefer, Christina Hoff Sommers explains the stupidity for you:

Western peoples as a whole really need something like an intense Outward Bound experience. And we may get it, but without the safety nets. I certainly do not wish for an EMP-like incident, but nonsense like “trigger warnings” makes me wonder whether a great culling must await us.

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, August 11, Anno Domini 2015
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Thursday, August 6, A.D. 2015
Charlton Diagnoses the Left

Bruce Charlton has two recent posts about the Left that I highly recommend: “The Left is a (self-) deceptive enemy of Christianity” and “The Left has evolved, continues to evolve, to defeat Christianity.” They are very insightful. Here is a selection from the first post:

Christians are up-against an enemy who denies that they are an enemy, an enemy who does not even know that they are our enemies -  an enemy that reframes their sustained and strategic attempt to annihilate Christianity under a variety of abstract universal concepts.

Christians are up-against an enemy which attacks by making rules that are only accidentally, only contingently, only unintendedly interpreted to be applied to Christians specifically… and which are - it just happens, in practice - seldom or never applied to other religions.

At every stage of the war against Christianity there is a self-denial and also a public denial of any strategic intent to attack Christians.

So Christians are put into the position of - as it were - telling, or persuading, dominant secular Leftism that it is our enemy! - in the face of sincere protestations from Liberals that they are nothing of the sort!

And this is something that Christians, and Christians specifically, find it very hard to do.

I mean Christians find it hard to label others as their enemy when that enemy denies any specific hostile intent, and especially when those enemies do not even feel hostile intent. This seems like picking a fight, seems like judging the hearts of Men - seems, in short, an unChristian sort of thing to do.

From the second post:

Leftism was initially very clearly anti-Christian (often anti- the established church). The biggest change in the Left happened in the mid 1960s. (But of course there is a grey area, and change was gradual - even though it was swift.) Up to the sixties, Leftism was about ‘rational’ economics - nationalization, planning, meritocratic equality of opportunity etc; but after the sixties the Left was about culture - and in particular the sexual revolution - equality of outcome, and the fluid agenda of antiracism, feminism, and more recently the multi-culti/ diversity/ inclusive agenda.

This was a massive change in doctrine - and a change from a revolution to establish an eternal utopia; to establishing a state of permanent revolution with no end-point.

My point is that the Left has evolved and transformed - but there is continuity, and that continuity is that the Left is an opposition, a reaction - the Left is ‘against’ not for. And the main thing the Left is against is Christianity (real traditionalist Christianity, of any type); and against everything to do with Christianity. . . .

There Left has no consistency or coherence, and no need for consistency or coherence - consistency and coherence just get in the way of attacking Christianity by any and every means.

The Left evolves, and Christianity is what the Left evolves around.

If I had to choose one defining characteristic or orientation for “the Left,” I would say disorder. The Left since the age of revolutions began (if not from the fall of the angels) has sought to subvert order in the world. Few early revolutionaries championed chaos directly (though their latter day heirs certainly have), but disorder has been the invariable result of their project. According to their stated intentions, the revolutionaries pursued liberty and equality in various forms, but the pursuit of such goals without an overarching system of values in which they have their place necessarily leads to chaos. Certain revolutionary agents may have had such an overarching system, which they found upon our Greco-Roman and/or Christian heritage or upon hopes that advances in the natural sciences would reveal the correct road to travel. Yet, systems of value—or, as the Germans say, world views—are quite difficult complexities to discuss, much more so to understand. Once a civilization enters into a revolutionary phase that discards accepted wisdom and seeks to create new measures, then everything becomes unstable. Why should we stop with the reforms of France in the 1790s, Britain in the 1830s, America in the 1860s, Russia in the 1920s, and so forth? Why should we accept one man’s or generation’s philosophy rather than the latest utopian promises of the latest demagogue (/activist/community organizer)? Revolutionary society makes political theory a bloodsport, where force and violence follow speculative ruminations—and where “why not” has cogency. Consequently, the drive for liberty and equality (which are practically antithetical to each other, which makes modern politics even more bizarrely absurd) does not accept the limitations placed by any particular overarching system of values and demands the destruction of any vestige of order that impedes or constricts the revolutionaries’ vision au courant for the maximization of liberty and/or equality. And this leads to human chaos of every kind. Of course, this was all explained very well millennia ago in Plato’s Laws, but that is so old, antiquated, passé!

So, I think that Charlton’s diagnosis of the Left is correct—because Christianity represents (or furnishes) the West’s familiar, established overarching system of values that the revolutionaries reject. It is the old order—the essence of l’ancien régime. Leftist agents actively work against the previous stage of revolution—the last system of values that their predecessors found reasonable— but the order to which they oppose themselves, the direction against which they disorient, so to speak, is the foundation of Western civilization, which is Christianity. And since Christianity is true, the revolutionaries not only work against the old order of Christendom but also against order itself, not just practically, as previously noted, but theoretically. In other words, modern revolution is and has always been a Satanic movement. It follows its archetype in so many ways. Its essence is rebellion against God; such is evil.

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, August 6, Anno Domini 2015
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