I found a playful piece by Professor Henry Fitzgerald that was published in Analysis: “Nominalist things.” My favorite part:
It’s all right, children! One need have no quarrel with dragons, qua nominalist! The number two would be a far greater stain on the world’s ontological purity than a mere dragon!
With apologies to Sister Maria . . .
In our Bizarro land, honest observations and common sense caution carry the whiff of phallocracy to the hordes of harridans who want to exempt women from the world’s facts. A Toronto police officer warned students not to dress like sluts at a safety forum: “Cop’s rape comment sparks wave of ‘SlutWalks’.” Woe be to the reasonable in storms of silliness! The offended masses have organized and executed protests called “SlutWalks,” where marchers wish to “reclaim the word ‘slut.’” That hallowed word is indeed a treasured hallmark of the crazy Left. Imagine the gall of that fascist pig cop who tried to impose shame on free living happy hussies. How regressive!
Obviously, one’s trashy wardrobe taste ought not to relate to violent crime. Similarly, one’s decision to walk alone in a seedy neighborhood at night should not correspond to victimhood. Yet, they do. There are monsters among us, and we have a responsibility to ourselves to use prudent judgment. The copper was simply stating an obvious practical fact for the sake of the students in the audience. Yet, he had to apologize. Now, he has to marvel at the moronic displays of his countrymen and of his neighbors to the south.
Lawrence Auster and Laura Wood routinely comment on this particular malady, the causes of which lie deep within Leftist disorder.
There have been some threads on View from the Right about the German political class’s condemnation of Chancellor Merkel for stating, “I am pleased that we managed to kill bin Laden”:
“German chancellor criminally charged for expressing delight over bin Laden’s demise”
“Debate on Germany”
“What Merkel actually said”
“A reader replies to Kleine-Hartlage”
The threads explore the postwar German character and how the leftist obsessions of contemporary denazified Germans threaten Europe just as Nazi ideology and aggression threatened Europe in the twentieth century. I commented, though it may not mean much without the thread’s context:
I have enjoyed reading the thread on Germany, though I thought that Daniel S.‘s comment set a bad tone for the discussion:
“If this is all that remains of Germany, then the quicker it disappears as a nation the better. One is almost tempted to say that they deserve to be swallowed up by the very Muslims they grovel before and for which they use their court system as an agent. I have as much contempt for modern Germany as I have for modern Britain.”
I have a friend who says the same thing about Europe in general. The obvious problem is that a significant number of Germans (as well as Brits, Danes, Italians, Canadians, Australians, Americans, and so on) are not deluded, suicidal morons, and yet they must suffer the demise of their nation along with the foolish majority.
I also finally found a blind spot in Kristor’s moral imagination! Kristor writes:
“That’s really interesting. PC is just like the old Deuteronomic Law. Neither of them allow for remission of sins. Both turn in upon themselves, in ever more rococo legalisms that cannot actually be lived. But Liberalism is even more hopeless than the Law; for liberals have no Day of Atonement.”
What Kristor forgets is that there is such a leftist Day of Atonement. It is called Election Day. By electing socialists who redistribute wealth and establish privileges for the least among us, Democrats purge themselves with hyssop, and they shall be clean. It is the only way to atone for their being whiter than snow.
Europe greatly interests me. I do not share the common American view that “over there” is far removed from us. I maintain a colonial perspective; Europe is the homeland. It is the source of our civilization, language, and blood. For all its faults and folly, I cannot dismiss it just as I cannot dismiss America. For I see myself as part of it. The last few centuries of separation do not define America and Europe, and we are very much part of a larger whole—that of Western Civilization. Our fates are intertwined.
I also refuse to consign German identity to the hellish period of the last century. Two decades in the last century do not define Germany, and the revolting defeated Deutschen of the last few generations are as emblematic of the Germans as the Jersey Shore cast is of the Italians. Our age of decadence will eventually pass away, and hopefully nobler representatives will replace the not so Last Man. Yet, we moderns or at least we homines americani have difficulty with our long term memory.
Perhaps, as a Cincinnatian, it is easier for me to see German civilization beyond the twelve year reign of the Third Reich. For Midwesterners are well acquainted with German American republicanism, with its commitments to civic engagement, public duty, and the common good. My travels in Germany and Austria accord with the impressions of some of Auster’s commenters, too. German cities are like decent American cities—clean, well tended, and hospitable to a middle class, industrious lifestyle. If you can get past their idiotic leftist views and knee jerk ethnic and cultural self hatred, which I attribute to denazification and postwar demoralization, the Germans are generally quite pleasant people. They are not the humorless cannibals, perverts, and black leather wearing Sprocketsliebhaber of our popular imagination. Moreover, the more mountainous and more Catholic the area, the better the Germans. Bavaria is one of my favorite places in the world.
The genial and insightful Mark Richardson, of Oz Conservative, must have a particularly strong stomach in order to treat the objectionable so soberly and seriously. Read, for example, his exegesis of Ellen Lewin’s Lesbian Mothers: Accounts of Gender in American Culture in “How does Professor Lewin think women step up to personhood? A clue: not through heterosexual marriage.” It is a marvel to me that Richardson can maintain rational apatheia while trudging through such rank and foul spiritual sludge.
It’s interesting to see how liberal autonomy theory plays out in Professor Lewin’s book. For instance, she argues that there is a difference between being a good mother in a marriage and in a divorce. Being a good mother in a marriage is not so good because it is merely a “natural attribute” (not something self-determined). But if a mother gets custody in the courts, that is a “self-conscious achievement” and “evidence of skill” in “protecting the integrity” of her family:
Mothers who face actual or potential custody challenges use strategies of appeasement, support, and autonomy in the course of protecting the integrity of their families. The claim to being a “good mother,” a key element of feminine gender identity in American culture, is transformed from a natural attribute into the product of self-conscious achievement . . .
In this situation a competent mother is one who accedes to enough of her husband’s demands to discourage a custody challenge but not so much that her concessions can be turned against her. Being a “good mother” is thus transformed from a state of being, a natural attribute, into evidence of skill, rewarded by the father’s failure to gain custody or, better yet, by his failure to pursue it at all. [pp.177-178]
As for divorce being a step up for women, this is how Professor Lewin puts it:
These convergences between lesbian mothers’ coming-out stories and the divorce stories of both lesbians and heterosexual mothers point to a telling contradiction in American culture. Marriage is seen as a special kind of success for women, but it also imposes a loss of autonomy and personhood that threatens to compromise the individual’s quest for accomplishment and individuality. As observers of American culture have noted since Alexis de Tocqueville described his impressions in the mid-nineteenth century, individuality and the related concept of privacy are such core dimensions of American culture that conditions or behavior that might be interpreted as dependency seem questionable if not shameful . . .
. . . Both coming out and divorce shift women’s status downward in the eyes of the society as a whole, yet the women who experience them view them in many respects as steps up. At the core of both coming-out and divorce stories is the theme of increasing autonomy and competence, and both kinds of accounts tend to focus on discovery of one’s “true” self. In these respects, as Kath Weston has observed, they constitute odysseys of self-discovery; at the same time, they demonstrate a concern with achieving adulthood and autonomy which is a particular consequence of the infantilization that both marriage and heterosexuality can impose on women. [pp.43, 45]
The logic of the argument is that in a marriage women are dependent on a man, that this makes married heterosexual women infantile, so that divorce and/or lesbianism represent a step forward toward an adult, autonomous life.
I have several friends and acquaintances who share Richardson’s remarkable virtue, but I cannot understand it. I can tolerate a considerable amount of stupidity, vice, and confusion, but at a certain point, I simply recoil from what my primeval instincts sense as miasmic filth. As such, my less noble soul only abhors Lewin and creatures like her. I know that I should weep for her confusion and concern myself about her lost path, but I cannot. I just want her far away from me. I, therefore, might come under Whittaker Chambers’ condemnation of Ayn Rand when he complains, “From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: ‘To a gas chamber — go!’” It is not that I harbor exterminationist zeal for ridding the land of Lewin’s revolting insanity; it just troubles me mightily that I share the same world as her. For I have long realized that, deep down, my psychological framework is far more similar to the Leftists whom I despise than my fellow wayfarers on the Right. That pit at the center of ideological self righteousness is darkness, which is simply hate—a hatred so strong that no pleas of Christian love, understanding for shortcomings, or reminders of shared humanity soften its intense disgust with its object. In the abstract, I might entertain those finer calls, but, at best, I just want to remove myself from the occasion of demonic sin by ceasing to think about such matters.
By contrast, Richardson displays an almost heroic soul in his ability to confront such sickness while remaining a decent man. I marvel at such folks.
Last month, Auster commented on the government and media reactions to the killings in Afghanistan that followed Terry Jones’ burning of the Koran in “Why a Florida pastor has blood on his hands for mass murders committed by Afghan savages on the other side of the world.” Among such reactions was that of craven Senator Lindsey Graham, who stated the following on Face the Nation:
I wish we could find some way to hold people accountable. Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war. During WWII, you had limits on what you could say if it would inspire the enemy. . . . Any time we can push back here in America against actions like this that put our troops at risk, we ought to do it.
Graham baffles the mind, and he is a Republican from South Carolina, for goodness’ sake. One woman has properly castigated the spineless nematode; watch citizen Ann Barnhardt’s video response (rated PG):
Having relished that red blooded American answer to Graham’s nonsense, let us return to Auster, who offers an explanation of why people would blame a Florida preacher for the savagery of Afghans on the other side of the world:
As I have often written, the liberal order articulates the world through a “script” in which there are three characters: the white liberal, who embodies the non-discriminatory virtue of the liberal regime; the white non-liberal, who discriminates against nonwhites and who must be crushed by the white liberal; and the nonwhite/non-Westerner, who either is discriminated against by the white non-liberal or is non-discriminatorily included by the white liberal. In the script, furthermore, only the white liberal and the white non-liberal are moral actors, with the first representing good and the second representing evil. The nonwhite/non-Westerner is not a moral actor, but is simply the passive recipient of the white liberal’s goodness or of the white non-liberal’s bigotry. The reason that the nonwhite/non-Westerner cannot be a moral actor is that his very function in the script is to be the recipient of either good non-discrimination or evil discrimination. If he were a moral actor, then his own actions would have to be judged; specifically, his bad actions would have to be judged. But to judge his bad actions would be to discriminate against him. And since the central purpose of liberalism is to eliminate all discriminatory treatment of nonwhites/non-Westerners, moral judgement of nonwhites/non-Westerners must also be eliminated. Therefore nonwhites/non-Westerners cannot be seen as responsible moral actors.
The liberal script explains why Jones, who burned a piece of paper with ink on it that he owned, has “blood on his hands,” but the Muslim Afghan mob that invaded a UN compound and murdered 12 UN employees do not have blood on their hands. The Muslims are not moral actors. The Muslims are simply the victims of Terry Jones’s discriminatory act against them. Jones, the white non-liberal, is a moral agent who is responsible for his evil actions. The Muslims are not moral agents and are not responsible for their actions.
Auster regularly repeats his theory of the Left’s denying moral agency to certain groups of people, and I think that he is correct. For the theory explains the infantile manner in which the West’s ruling class treats the Other. However, I think that his theory is only a form of a larger pattern wherein Leftists reject or ignore the possibility of moral or immoral behavior by those whom their noblesse obliges, regardless of the ethnicity involved. We routinely see vice excused while blame gets shifted to “the system” or to “the unjust power structure.” All the while, Leftists employ the language of morality to make their case. In doing so, they are either quite confused, devilishly inconsistent, or simply belittling to the lesser whom they, as civilized, educated people, cannot expect to act as moral agents. If the third is true, then Leftists do not reject morality as such, and so they do not argue foolishly or dishonestly when they make moral claims for their position. It simply means that they reserve the moral realm for themselves and for their interlocutors, while the mass of humanity under discussion is treated simply as pegs in a machine without agency or freedom. They discuss men the way they would discuss animals rescued from a dog fighting ring—as mere passive beasts corrupted by malignant forces.
Speaking of dogs, one of Auster’s readers links to another insightful analysis by David Greenfield, “Muslims and Moral Handicaps.”
When a man teases a dog on the other side of a chain link fence—we blame the man for provoking the dog, not the dog for being provoked. Animals have less of everything that makes for accountability. And so don’t hold them accountable. Instead we divide them into categories of dangerous and harmless, and treat them accordingly.
Our response to Muslim violence in Afghanistan, supposedly touched off by a Koran burning in Florida, uses that same canine logic. The Muslims are dangerous and violent, so whoever provokes them is held accountable for what they do. Don’t tease a doberman on the other side of a chain link fence and don’t tease Muslims on the other side of the border or the world. That’s the takeaway from our elected and unelected officials.
But the Muslim rioters are not dogs, they are human beings whose moral responsibility is being denied by treating their violence as a reflexive act. Their violence is not unconscious or instinctual—it emerges out of a decision making process. There is nothing inevitable about what happened in Afghanistan. If Muslims had some sort of hair trigger, then why was the violent rioting confined to a very specific part of the world. For the same reason that the reaction to the Mohammed cartoons took so long. And why was it directed at the UN and not the US. The Koran burning was not the cause of Muslim violence—but a rationalization for existing violence that would have occurred anyway for reasons having nothing to do with Terry Jones. And by treating Muslims like the ‘Morally Handicapped’ who have no choice but to kill when something offends them, we are not doing any favors for them or us.
It is far more insulting to treat Muslims as if they have no ability to control themselves and have no responsibility for their actions—than it is to burn their Koran. That is an assessment that even many Muslims would agree with.
To blame Jones for their actions, we must either treat murder as a reasonable response to the burning of a book, or grant that Jones has a higher level of moral responsibility than the rioters do. There are few non-Muslims who could defend the notion that burning the Koran is a provocation that justifies bloodshed. And virtually no liberal would openly concede that he believes Muslims are morally handicapped—but then why does he treat them that way?
This is perhaps why there is such a double standard on the Left for the Israelis; maybe it is not simply due to multicultural relativism wherein Westerners refuse to judge non-Westerners for failing Western standards. Leftists sympathize with Palestinian Arabs even when they behave atrociously, but they indulge their righteous anger when the Israelis act the least bit aggressive in defending themselves. What might be unspoken is that Leftists see the Israelis as truly human, and thus worthy of moral reprimand, while they find the Palestinians perpetually innocent regardless of their actions because they are seen as less than human. One may rationally take offense when a man spits at him; no sensible person waxes indignant when a camel does so.
Peter Hitchens makes some gloomy but significant points about the recent royal wedding. Consider “They wouldn’t have thought much of this wedding back in 1953” and “Old misery guts hits back” (in the latter, Hitchens responds to criticism by Libby Purves).
In Monday’s post, “The Royal Wedding,” I wrote:
The sorry state of the British people, the decline of their appreciation for tradition and civilization, their increasing acceptance of leftist, egalitarian nonsense, and their self absorbed commitment to “me society” egoism spell trouble for the crown even if the royal family executes its duties well.
Hitchens’ pieces more thoroughly explore those themes. Read, for example, the following from the second article:
Few grasped my point, which is this: If you want a functioning monarchy, you have to have a serious, responsible and religiously committed people, who revere tradition and honour the past. That’s simply not what we are. WE ceased to be during the Diana frenzy, the ghost of which haunted the whole event last week. And you cannot really like the events of last Friday if you value the hard, sometimes cold, sometimes gloomy things that lie beneath the ceremony and the pageant. Monarchy can’t be fashionable, can’t be modern, can’t be populist - at least not for long.
If you marry the spirit of the age, you will pretty soon be bereaved or divorced. For that spirit doesn’t wait around in the same place for long.
Hitchen also offers some sage social commentary:
My points about the marriage service will have meant nothing to those to whom they meant nothing, and lots to those who cared.
This is the point I constantly come up against. That all these arguments, over drugs, marriage, crime, schooling, foreign affairs etc are down to which sort of country you prefer, and what price you are prepared to pay for what you prefer. As I have begun to write my next book, on the non-existent ‘War on Drugs’, it has become clear to me that the issue, from right back into the late 1960s, has been ’ are we to be a self-controlled, restrained people who accept this as the price for the ordered, peaceful, stratified, and insular civilisation we desire, deferring immediate gratification for long-term security and solid prosperity? Or are we to be a relaxed, pleasure-seeking and unrestrained people who accept that the price of that may be more disorder, less efficiency, more chaos, a steady decline in our real wealth - and less political freedom?
I know my opponents would put it differently, but I’ll leave them to do that. My guess is that many of them actually quite like the benefits of the ‘repressed’ society I favour - the assurance that our frontiers will be defended, that there will be a competent doctor in the hospital when they need him, that there’s somebody out there when things get difficult. But they’re not really prepared to pay the price for it.
Of course, Leftists do not believe that natural laws operate in human affairs, as they reject the idea of human nature. For them, nothing, not even biology, can stand in the way of their will.
Last Friday, Prince William and Catherine Middleton married in Westminster Abbey as the world watched. Predictably, first world republican naysayers and third world perpetual whiners about colonial oppression chastised the curious, well wishing billions who showed interest in the delightful affair. From ladies’ gossip and fashion pages to conservative sites like View from the Right and the Thinking Housewife, commentary about the event obviously displayed diverse opinion.
I readily acknowledge the moral rot and cultural decay that has set in Britain since the Second World War, and the House of Windsor has not exempted itself from the slide toward Gomorrah. The Queen has overseen the transition of the United Kingdom from a victorious world empire to a tumultuous Babel that has willingly allowed itself to be colonized by unassimilable hordes that have destroyed peaceful, unified cultures. The indigenous Brits cannot blame the brown invaders alone for the unsettling rise of violent crime, political corruption, dysfunctional family and community life, and the extent of parasitic dependence upon the dole. The self reliant, self sacrificing British of high minded resolve have transformed into a mass of lazy, vulgar, entitled brutes whose aims rise no higher than the selfish gluttony of their lowest appetites. The United Kingdom vividly has shown itself to be an incarnation of the decline of regimes as told in Plato’s Republic.
I moreover admit that the royal family has not only been negligent of safeguarding British society from the harmful tendencies of the post war age but has also contributed to the vice. Three of Queen Elizabeth’s four children have been divorced, and their lives have not escaped scandal. One might argue that such moral failings have always occurred but that the press was once more protective of royal indiscretions than today. Fleet Street has always worked for the devil; so, I am less sure of the transparency explanation. Even if such were true, it simply means that members of the royal family have a greater responsibility to live properly in order to set a good example for the society. The Queen’s children have failed miserably. Their spouses fared even worse, especially Diana Spencer and Sarah Ferguson whose narcissism and irresponsibility typify the postmodern, “liberated” woman.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed the spectacle of the wedding, and I wish every good thing for the couple. There is hope that this younger generation has awoken from the foolishness of the self indulgent age of their parents. Of course, the prince and Middleton should not have cohabitated before marriage. No one believed that Catherine’s white gown accompanied a virginal state. However, gossip mongers unfriendly to Middleton claimed that she was a virgin before he started dating William, and she has spent the last decade waiting to marry the prince. So, Catherine is not likely to have spent her sexuality at the market. Given contemporary standards, such is remarkably traditional. Moreover, it is clear that William and Catherine know each other well; the decision to wed was not taken lightly. Despite the dismal success statistics of marriages preceded by cohabitation, I hope that this one makes it. For it seems that the pair is truly committed. Lastly, the couple’s behavior and choices allow for us to hope that they will live up to their responsibilities of providing a good example of loving, well ordered family life. The British crown has lost much of its direct political power, but it retains moral leadership if the sovereign is willing and capable of being a good example to the people.
Those of us who are supportive of the British monarchy have legitimate reasons to worry. The sorry state of the British people, the decline of their appreciation for tradition and civilization, their increasing acceptance of leftist, egalitarian nonsense, and their self absorbed commitment to “me society” egoism spell trouble for the crown even if the royal family executes its duties well.
Beyond that, traditionalists understandably fret over the transgressive unforced moves by the royal family itself. I once attended a service at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, and the minister shocked me with hellfire and brimstone rhetoric directed at his country’s leadership. I did not expect such conviction from Anglicans. In response to Charles’ frequent universalist statements in support of a multicultural, multifaith Britain, the preacher reminded the Prince of Wales that, should he ascend the throne, he would not be the “defender of the faiths” (note the “s”) but rather the defender of the Christian Church. In Charles’ defense, let us note that British aristocrats have long admired Mohammedans. The Windsors’ appreciation of them is not something new or an example of leftist Islamo-chic posing. Mohammedan subjects of the Queen around the world, as well as Mohammedans in former lands of the crown, are some of the royal family’s most enthusiastic supporters. For a much smaller percentage of the Dar al-Islam has bought the egalitarian extremism of the Left. Musulmans also tend to be more pious and observant, taking their religion more seriously than most Christians in Britain. It is therefore not surprising that the Windsors would have warm feelings toward them. Furthermore, we cannot blame the Mohammedans for the decline of Christendom. Rather, the decline of Christendom preceded and is a necessary requisite for the Islamization of Europe. Christians and apostates from the faith are the reason for Christianity’s retreat in the sceptered isle, not Pakistanis.
Besides Charles’ frequent warm fuzzies to the Mohammedans, he consistently shows himself to be a traditionalist in matters of culture, music, art, architecture, and language. He maintains an interest in the Orthodox Church and is said to complement his public Anglicanism with private Orthodox devotion. His father Prince Philip was Orthodox until he converted before his marriage to Elizabeth, and Philip and Charles often visit Mount Athos and coordinate efforts to support the monastic peninsula. To his credit, Charles typically refuses to pander to the newly adopted barbarian impulses of his people, which has hurt his public image among the polloi. Of course, his marriage to Diana was a sham, but he otherwise seems sensible and levelheaded. The Charles of British history have been right but nonetheless disastrous for the crown. Charles III may follow the template.
For now, though, let us rejoice in a new marriage and wish Albion the best.