The State Cannot Teach Men Virtue

A reader with the somewhat calculating name (perhaps expressing when the number of distinct single-digit numbers in a counting system equals the change in time of nothing, or perhaps expressing a Naval station at the mouth of a river containing many marshy streams [but see footnote]) of Base Delta Zero, writes in and asks:

Leaving aside the fact that the American Republican Party just went all-out to turn back the clock to the 1880s, isn’t that pretty much the definition of a conservative? A conservative, by definition, is someone who works to maintain (or ‘conserve’) the existing order.

I have two comments. First, let me mention the definition here, so that no one is mislead by typical linguistic distractions.

The Progressives want to change the world.

Some (the soft sell) just want to change the world peacefully and incrementally to promote what they call greater social justice, by which they mean total control of all aspects of life by the state, that is, totalitarianism.

Others (the hard sell) want to change it violently and suddenly to usher in socialist utopia, that is, totalitarianism.

The basic difference is that the soft sells would let you keep private property in name only, provided you used to as the state directs, whereas the hard sells would expropriate your property.

Both agree that the world is a ruthless Darwinian competition between oppressors and the oppressed, and one must side with the oppressed, no matter the merits of the case.

The hard sells identify the oppressed as the workingman, and the oppressor as Rich Uncle Pennybags from the Monopoly Game.

The soft sells identify the oppressed as a random collection of mascots (women, youths, certain sexual perverts but not others, Blacks, illegal aliens, Muslims, American Indians) and the oppressors as White Christian Males. Irish Catholics and Jews used to be members of the oppressed mascots, but now are oppressors. Orientals are oppressed except when they want to study hard and go to college, in which case they are oppressors. Or something like that.

So in the Progressive worldview, historical forces are always moving society in the direction of totalitarianism, that is, social justice, and anyone who opposes the forces of history is called a ‘reactionary’ or a ‘conservative’, that is, someone who wants the status quo of today maintained, or a return to the conditions of yesterday.

The implication is that there is no rational reason to prefer the past to the present, merely an inertia, or timidity, lack of imagination, or a desire of the evil exploiters to maintain the current injustices of the world for their own benefit, or a foolishness on the part of the exploited not to see their own degradation.

You see how flattering this conception is to the Progressive.

Not only is history and evolution on his side, but the opposition need no be engaged in debate, nor persuaded, nor need the details of the blueprint for utopia be discussed. Because if the causes for opposing Progressivism as always illegitimate (as in inertia, timidity, stupidity, greed, folly) the ideas used to defend those causes are always propaganda, insincere, and beyond the pale of right thinking persons. This is the Ad Hominem core of Progressive thought: it is an emotional reaction, not a rational action, merely to flatter oneself by denigrating one’s betters. Call it self esteem.

This also allows the Progressive, who is always eventually falls into the trap of mental laziness even if at first his mind is active, the lazy and sloppy habit of being able to lump all his opposition into one group. A monarchist living under an established Church, for example, in Europe can be called ‘Rightwing’ or ‘Conservative’ because he opposes disestablishment or extending the franchise to the working class; but then again National Socialists of Germany (Nazis) are ‘Rightwing’ and ‘Conservative’ because they oppose the Communist dream of one world government and abolition of private property; and Italian Fascists are ‘Rightwing’ and ‘Conservative’ because they oppose their twin brother totalitarians; and republicans who believe in the right to bear arms and freedom of speech and the equality of man are ‘Rightwing’ and ‘Conservative’ even when they are agitating for radical change, because they question the wisdom of the Utopian blueprint on the grounds that there is no blueprint, totalitarianism sucks, and man is meant for happier things.

The whole purpose of this linguistic rigmarole, the reason for the convoluted verbal balancing act as absurd as seeing  a hippopotamus balancing on one toe, is to allow the mentally lazy Progressives to slander their opponents by calling the GOP ‘Nazis.’

Either because of stupidity, or because we cannot make a better terminology stick, the so-called Rightwing in America calls ourselves ‘Conservative’ but we do not use this ad hominem, lazy self-flattering definition for the term.

A conservative is defined as someone who believes in those timeless principles on which the republic was founded: limited government hindered by checks and balances, separation of powers, the rights of man, freedom of speech, press, religion, and the right to bear arms, and of the free market, as well as notions of virtue, decency and honor.

We believe in this principle because of the nature of man and the nature of reality, which does not change any more than the laws of mathematics change. There is no improving on man, and no cure for the human condition, not before the Last Judgment.

We seek to conserve where those principles are in effect, and to change where they are not in effect, and in places where they have never been known, we seek radical and sudden change, and, if need be, violent rebellion.

Where those principles were once known and have been frittered away or sold for a mess of pottage and false promises, we want them back. Any movement toward those principles is progress, and any movement back to the pre-Stone-Age socioeconomic theories of the Left, i.e. word-voodoo totalitarian tribalism, is regress.

So call those principles whatever you will, but whether we want things changed or things to stay the same depends on how closely law and custom adheres to the eternal truths that we hold to be self evident.

In America, the so called Progressive stands in the 1880’s. He is fascinated, or mesmerized, by Marxist notions which were out of date before Marx even took pen to paper (I do not exaggerate. The economic errors in his theories had all been explored by previous writers and exploded.)

The soft sell Progressive has an updated version of the 1880’s to include cultural Marxist ideals, i.e. Political Correctness, based on the failure of Marxist theory after World War One to establish one world government or proletarian revolution in the advanced Western nations.

The cultural Marxist continues to see the world as a Darwian war to the death between oppressors and oppressed, but does not seek violent overthrow of investors and the genocide of Jews. Instead, he seeks to change the thinking, the language, and the culture, so that the West will hate itself to the point where we will stand by in moral confusion and self-condemnation while the Muslims commit genocide on the Jews.

So the Progressive is roughly fifty years behind the times when it comes to the Sexual Revolution and the Drug Culture, and he is eager to join the struggle with his Black Brethren to overthrow the Jim Crow laws and fight the KKK. The Progressive does this by supporting the party who voted in Jim Crow and formed the KKK, namely, the Democrats, and by opposing the NRA, who armed the Blacks against the Democrat KKK, and by opposing the Republicans, who both freed the Blacks and voting in the Civil Rights Act.

Compared to a man who speaks eternal truth, the man who is always chasing the latest fashion to reach the utopia of tomorrow is the one always behind the times. Some Progressives are more modern, and a seek a type of collective existence that has the social aspects of Marxism without the poverty and violence. They live circa 1968.

I am not sure if there is a name for the informal logical error being made here by the Progressive. Perhaps Argumentum ad novitatem? It is the idea that the latest and newest thing must be true.

In this case, the Progressive ideas are not new. I’ve been hearing them since before the Moonshot, myself.

They date from roughly time of Plato, or the time of Lycurgus. Aristotle refuted them, at least to my satisfaction. The state cannot teach men virtue.

My second comment is this: Base Delta Zero says “…Republican Party just went all-out to turn back the clock to the 1880s….” I assume this refers to the recent national election, and I assume this comment was meant honestly, that is, with the intent of referring to some objective subject matter, and not merely as a rhetorical flourish.

Either Mr Zero is from a parallel universe, or he read or saw parts of this recent campaign entirely hidden from me. The campaign I saw did not have any policy discussions about changing the laws, or any any law or regulation, back to the way it was in the 1880’s. I would have been, depending on the law being discussed, much more interested, even enthused, about the campaign had there been.

Indeed, I do not recall any discussion of policy at all. My recollection is that one side argued, in a nutshell, that the government should lower taxes and create jobs for the Middle Class. The other side argued that the government should raise taxes on the evil vampire-rich and create jobs for the Middle Class. Then this same side argued that Mitt Romney was evil because he was white and rich and not one of us, that he gave cancer to a factory hand’s wife, that he did not pay taxes, that he killed Big Bird, and that voting for Barack Obama was the same as having sex.

I believe the opposition of the Catholic Church for having heathens force us to pay for abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptions so your sluts could commit fornication and abominations and baby-murder was called ‘the war on women’ — as if our mere nominal refusal to spend our hard earned money so that you could indulging in sins leading to damnation without having to spend your own damned money was the same as an act of war.

I could make myself mildly queasy merely by reciting the public policy issues I wish had been discussed, in this, the most frivolous and insubstantial campaign in living memory, at a time when the election issues where more important than any since the Civil War, the very existence of the republic hanging the balance.

Instead I will merely post a general challenge to any reader who cares to answer: Name one policy, law, or regulation that was discussed by both sides during this election, a single one, which advocated the return to a law, rule or regulation substantially the same as its equivalent law in the 1880’s. Name one.

I am not counting mere airy accusations by one side or the other that the thinking of the other side is backward. I mean, quote me a quote, one from each side, showing that each candidate or his campaign or his party addressed an issue to change a current law to the law as it stood in 1880.

Perhaps it was discussed and I did not hear it. Quote me the quote. Show me.

To aid in your memory, dear readers, allow me to remind you what the election of 1880 was about: Both major parties tip-toed around the currency issue, avoided civil service reform, supported immigration restriction and hefty pensions for Civil War veterans. Only on the tariff question did they differ; the Republicans supported high protective duties and the Democrats a tariff for revenue only. The major issue of the day was the end of Reconstruction.

* * * *

FOOTNOTE: I sadly must hung up my Geek Credentials. As it turns out, Base Delta Zero is from STAR WARS. It is an Imperial Star Destroyer code for a Star Destroyer to slag 100%  of the surface of a planet and render it sterile and uninhabitable. It is an apt name for a radical Leftist, since this is their approach to civilization.

 

 

58 Comments

  1. Comment by Jordan179:

    Both agree that the world is a ruthless Darwinian competition between oppressors and the oppressed, and one must side with the oppressed, no matter the merits of the case.

    Cultures (and subcultures, and ideas) do evolve in a manner similar in some ways to biological species. However (1) competition, even in biological Nature, and more so in cultural Nature need not be a zero-sum game: there can be a net positive outcome for the players on the average; and (2) unlike in biological competition, a single player is not bound by his genetic nature during his own lifetime, nor even is a lineage so bound: the same individual person can belong to more than one cultural “species” during his lifetime, or even simultaneously; finally (3) the notion that there are clearly defined “oppressors” and “oppressed” is an oversimplification even for a feudal society, let alone a democratic one.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I agree all these criticisms of the Leftist world view are valid, and I agree that some Leftists (they are not a unified monolith bloc) add nuance to their worldview by taking into account these factors.

      Nonetheless, the inextinguishable nature of the eternal war between oppressor and oppressed is the core myth and central emotional appeal of Leftism. They denounce eternal enemies rarely and without passion, or never; and denounce the authority against whom they rebel with zest and zeal. Compare the frequency and volume of complaints about the goings on in Abu Graib prison while it was being run by the US Army versus when it was being run by Saddam’s Baathists, and compare the severity and frequency of the crimes against humanity.

      To be blunt, I have never, never, never, not once heard a Leftwing speaker advocate a war against an equal. I have heard everything they advocate to be a struggle, either violent or not depending on the strain of Leftism being advanced, against the authorities that rule us, either cultural (informal) authorities or legal (formal) authority.

      Perhaps you can remind me of some case, some cause, to the contrary? Some injustice the Left cried out to see rectified other than ones committed by an authority, formal or informal, ruling over us, we who live in the West?

      • Comment by Rolf Andreassen:

        The Rwandan genocide. More recently, Ghadaffi’s suppression of the revolt against him. South African apartheid; white rule in Rhodesia. (But perhaps you’d consider that part of the West?)

        • Comment by Robert Mitchell Jr:

          Bad examples all. The Left did not lift a finger to stop the Rwandan genocide, and were vile enough to turn it into entertainment. Rhodesia? It is to laugh. Somehow Black Genocide is better then white rule (and, of course, “white rule” = The West in the eyes of the Left)? The Left quite loudly proclaimed “You break it, you bought it” when it came to Iraq…….. South African apartheid (again, “white rule” = The West in the eyes of the Left) has not ended, just is being performed by the “right” tribes, once again showcasing the racism built into Leftism. And Ghadaffi got attacked by the Left because he aided us in the War on Terror (siding with the West) , proving W right about the “Axis of Evil”. All of your examples are of the Left attacking “The West” except for the one where the Left stood by and let Genocide happen……

        • Comment by Jordan179:

          The Rwandan genocide took place on Bill Clinton’s watch, and he did absolutely nothing to stop it or to punish anyone responsible for it when it was over. This despite the fact that Rwanda has only a joke-army: one Marine brigade could have forced the whole country into abject cringing submission.

          South Africa and Rhodesia were (alas) part of the West. And I remember quite well at the time that the people most critical of them were on the Left — and were utterly uncritical of the far worse oppression at the time prevalent in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, even where such oppression was racial in motivation (as was the case between Russia and most of the non-Russian minorities).

          I’ll grant you Libya: a lot of the Right were strangely unwilling to help take down Gaddafi.

          • Comment by Stephen J.:

            By “Left” in this case, are we referring to the populist movement, or to the governments elected with those movements’ support? The Clinton administration made no intervention in Rwanda, but it would not surprise me to find many citizens on the Left agitating vigorously for a response they didn’t get. (Both Left and Right are consistently disappointed by the politicians they actually elect, it must be noted.)

            “I’ll grant you Libya: a lot of the Right were strangely unwilling to help take down Gaddafi.”

            Mostly because the alternative was always expected to be worse, a prognostication which I think is currently being borne out. Which does not endorse the decision to do nothing, I concede. If the Left’s besetting sin is always to pretend realpolitik is unnecessary and something they would never indulge in, even while they do it, the Right’s besetting sin may be to fall back on it too often as the all-purpose excuse for questionable foreign policy decisions.

            • Comment by Jordan179:

              By “Left” in this case, are we referring to the populist movement, or to the governments elected with those movements’ support? The Clinton administration made no intervention in Rwanda, but it would not surprise me to find many citizens on the Left agitating vigorously for a response they didn’t get.

              Well, I’m referring to both, and probably one of the reasons why Clinton was not eager to go into Rwanda to stop the genocide, even though it would have been cheap and easy, is that he was well aware of the fact that the very same people who were agitating for him to enter Rwanda would also have been the very same people who would have panicked the moment that some Rwandan guerilla band got lucky and managed to stage a successful ambush. Remember that all this happened right after Somalia, and that the very same people who cheered Clinton when he expanded our mission in Somalia also cried “doom!” as soon as the Black Hawk Down disaster occurred.

              One of the problems with the Western Left is that it often demands the government “do something” about iniquity abroad, but it is not willing to admit that “something” usually of necessity implies a military interventions, nor is it willing to stay the course when such interventions suffer setbacks. Heck, it was originally American liberals who wanted us to intervene in Vietnam, and we all know how their attitude then changed when the North Vietnamese showed that they were willing to absorb some losses. (Or maybe we don’t all know this — the post 1968 Left has put a lot of academic effort into obscuring the extent to which every one of the liberal luminaries of the early 1960’s was behind the initial efforts in Vietnam, starting with JFK and going all the way down the political food chain).

            • Comment by Jordan179:

              As for Gadaffi, I thought it possible that his replacement would be worse for America, but I was in favor of us taking him down for one big reason: Lockerbie. Bad as his replacements may be, the fact that Gadaffi’s career ended in a humiliating death in part because of his attacks on America in the 1980’s, and even more that this occurred thirty years later, should be a sobering warning to Third World tyrants that it is not safe to pull feathers from the tail of the American eagle.

              Of course, Obama being an idiot, he didn’t make the point explicitly, so the deterrence-value of the example is reduced. But I suspect that a lot of Third World tyrants, whose personal survival depends on noticing things like this, noticed.

              • Comment by joeclark77:

                No. What third-world dictators learned was, if you are a friend or ally of the United States (like Mubarak), or an enemy who complies with America’s demands (like Qadaffi), you will be betrayed and killed. If you remain belligerent, refuse America’s demands, threaten and kill Americans and their friends (like North Korea, Iran, Pakistan), America will cower and send you gifts, elevating your status in your region.

                • Comment by rlbell:

                  Ghaddafi fell from power because Libyans had finally had enough and the Tunisian example showed that a popular uprising could work. Ghaddafi had alienated most Libyans outside his own tribe. It is not certain that he would have remained in power, even if the West had allowed him to use airstrikes against the rebels with impunity. The man was hated but, after the fall of the Tunisian dictator, he was no longer feared.

                  • Comment by Rolf Andreassen:

                    Let me remind you of the circumstances of the intervention. The West sent air support specifically because Ghaddafi’s forces were about to retake rebel-held Benghazi, slaughter the rebels, and presumably decimate the civilian population as punishment for rebellion. The Libyans may have “had enough”, but the popular uprising was not “working”, it was about to fail bloodily. If it had not been for intervention, Ghaddafi would have demonstrated that anyone who didn’t fear him was badly mistaken.

          • Comment by joeclark77:

            Jordan, maybe you don’t remember this, but after 9/11 we made our foreign policy crystal clear: any nation aiding and comforting these terrorists, and especially those attempting to provide them with weapons of mass destruction, is our enemy. All nations undertaking such actions must stop immediately.

            Gaddafi was a villain but when he saw that we meant business, he swore off international terrorism, and ceased his attempts to get nuclear weapons. That doesn’t make him our friend, but he was complying with our demand and we too should have heeded our word. We drew a line in the sand and he said “okay, I won’t cross it”. Meanwhile, several other nations (notably Iran and Pakistan) crossed the line willfully and obviously. If our nation had any honor at all, we would have taken the war to those nations and not taken it to Libya.

            Yet, when we had the opportunity in 2009 to help the Iranian opposition unseat their enemy dictator, Obama said nothing and actually went on TV to praise the “supreme leader” and legitimize his fraudulent election. By contrast, when the compliant Qadaffi came under attack from our sworn enemies, Al Qaeda and other Islamist organizations, we actually aided and abetted them, encouraged them to take all the WMDs they could steal from Qadaffi’s store, murdered Qadaffi’s children and grandchildren in airstrikes (and CELEBRATED each killing with a press release!) and then had Qadaffi sodomized and murdered on live TV for the world to see.

            That was NOT a policy conservatives should have supported.

            • Comment by Jordan179:

              I agree with you about our fecklessness on Iran. As for Gadaffi, in my opinion his action in deliberately destroying a civilian airliner with Americans onboard put him outside the category of persons to whom one’s word should be binding. (I know that John Wright disagrees with me on this. He’s nicer than me in some ways).

              Obama’s big mistake was failing to conceptually link Gaddafi’s downfall with revenge for Lockerbie. Which it most definitely was — look at what Gaddafi did just before the rebellion erupted. IMO the British played a part in the dictator’s downfall which will not be known until certain secrets are declassified 25-50 years in the future.

              • Comment by joeclark77:

                The British and the French declared war on Libya in the name of NATO explicitly because they wanted control of the Libyan oil supply. This was not a secret, the news media were talking about it at the time. (Obama claimed to be taking his cue from NATO and the Arab League, which doesn’t make any sense at all, but that’s what it is.) The British were not trying to get revenge for Lockerbie… if you’ll recall they had just a year or two earlier traded away the honor of the Lockerbie victims in exchange for an oil deal. Anyway, revenge for Lockerbie is not a good reason to oust a compliant, cowed enemy and replace him with hostile, WMD-armed terrorists who would begin their regime by slaughtering every black African they could find within their borders. If we wanted *personal* revenge we should have just killed Qadaffi, the man, with a cruise missile or something.

                There is NO justification in military geo-strategy, international politics and diplomacy, morality, justice, or any other sphere of rationality, for our bizarre intervention in Libya.

    • Comment by The OFloinn:

      To the extent that Darwinianism explains cultural evolution it has been abraded from an actual scientific theory to a tautologous metaphor. Darwin proposed a theory to explain how evolution took place. He did not simply cry ‘evolution’ and wave his hands. In fact, he avoided the term ‘evolution’ as much as he could.

      • Comment by Jordan179:

        There is a relationship between Darwinian biological evolution and cultural evolution, in that Darwin outlined the first truly scientific theory of evolution — one which did not depend upon mysterious forces of progress or guiding spirits to operate. Of course, cultural evolution is a lot more complex than biological evolution, because it operates in more directions than simple descent, and also because it is often Lamarckian in nature. I wouldn’t conclude from this (as many, mostly Leftist, evolutionary theorists do) that evolution doesn’t apply to cultures — simply that it applies in far more involved ways. The “Darwin” of cultural evolution hasn’t yet done his work.

        • Comment by qbauer:

          The Darwin of cultural evolution was Hegel. Woodrow Wilson — who in my estimation planted all of the fungal spores that our current President is harvesting — was spiritually, politically influenced by Hegel. For a great book on Wilson’s connection to Hegel, and the university roots of “Progessivism” and how his big ideas corrupted our country, Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism is a good read.

      • Comment by Jordan179:

        Well … cultural evolutionary theory is today around where biological evolutionary theory was in the late 18th century, when Erasmus Darwin penned his poem. It still awaits its Charles Darwin.

        Which I don’t find that surprising, because as I said, it’s a lot more complex. Human minds and ideas are much bigger and more powerful than chromosomes or gene sequences. And they can relate in ways that sex cells can’t — for instance, a man may change his mind many times in a single lifetime, but an animal is stuck with the genotype with which it was born, and past the attainment of adulthood will biologically deterioriate rather than develop further. So it will be a while until someone — a “Hari Seldon,” perhaps? — develops a true science of cultural evolution.

  2. Comment by John Hutchins:

    I did see some discussion about revoking the charter for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and removing the legal standing and tax benefits of churches in general. That was an issue in the 1880’s as well, and the comentators and pundits talking about the issue appear completely unaware that there is no charter for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as it was already formally dissolved in the 1880’s and is, in the US, a series of corporations and tax exempt structures and copyright holding companies designed specifically with attempts to seize property and dissolve the church in mind.

  3. Comment by Rolf Andreassen:

    In 1880 it was legal to possess an ounce of marijuana for personal use. Two states have reverted to this state of affairs as far as their own laws go, although how the clash with federal law will work out is not clear. So if anyone is to be taxed with returning to 1880, it doesn’t seem to be the Republicans. :)

    • Comment by Robert Mitchell Jr:

      Alas, the War on Drugs was created by the Democrats, who got a taste of Power with Prohibition, and were unwilling to let it go. Alas, this foolish attempt to end this evil, Totalitarian act of the Democrats was not pushed by the Republicans, who understand that state laws do not trump Federal laws. But who knows how far it might go in this time of Congressional gridlock?

      • Comment by Jordan179:

        It’s unfortunately more complex than that: Prohibition came from the Republican Reform movements which started in the 1890’s: though it started under Wilson’s Administration he actually vetoed the Volstead Act; it was maintained by three Republican Administrations (those of Harding, Coolidge and Hoover) and finally repealed under a Democratic one (FDR’s). Prohibition was one of the worst sins ever committed by the Republican Party, and they did it because they thought they could make men better by passing laws forbidding sinful actions.

        It is true that FDR and Truman replaced the prohibition on alcohol with a prohibition on more exotic drugs. And that was their sin. But they only took an idea which had come from Republican circles and ran with it.

        • Comment by Robert Mitchell Jr:

          Ah, the Reform movements had voices in both the Democrat and Republican parties, and, of course, the Constitutional amendment that created Prohibition was passed during Wilson’s term, yes? If anything, his veto of the Volstead act shows how evil the Democrats are about these things, unless you think it’s ok for the Democrats to completely ignore the Constitution (Which is certainly something the Fascist Wilson tried to do). Claiming that Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover “maintained” it is um, special. They also “maintained” the Bill of Rights and defended the country from foreign aggression. They took an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution, yes? There was nothing Republican about Prohibition. Check the voting records. Prohibition was one of the most “bipartisan” acts in our political history.

          Now we get to the meat of it. FDR and Truman replaced prohibition with a prohibition on more exotic drugs, yes. Without any sort of Constitutional mandate to do so, just raw power. As well blame the Republicans for dead girlfriends because they had the idea that the military should have guns…….

          One last thing, all laws are passed to make things better by forbidding sinful actions. Even the ones you claim are pragmatic are moved by a moral code.

        • Comment by Dystopia Max:

          Prohibition? The worst thing the Republicans ever did was pass the 19th Amendment. Once that happened, Prohibition was a fait accompli, as women’s natural aversion to their husband’s drinking (read Chesterton sometime) enabled it to pass, and only great violence and great public campaigns aimed at the female demographic were able to repeal it. The end result of the 19th Amendment and the end result of any government allowing women the vote is the social and political encouragement of permanent singleness in women through promiscuity and government workfare, since single women will almost always vote for an assured Big Daddy government over a husband who may undergo sickness and penury as well as health and prosperity.

          As for drugs, people with kids and experience with drugs harder than alcohol generally don’t want those kids wasting their productive years away chasing amped-up psychedelic experiences or extreme feelings. This is almost never mentioned in public anti-drug campaigns aimed at kids, but it’s one of the prime motivators for the continued war.

          • Comment by John C Wright:

            Actually, women voted more often along conservative lines up until about the 1970’s, perhaps out of a natural aversion to sudden changes in the social fabric.

          • Comment by Tom Simon:

            The worst thing the Republicans ever did was pass the 19th Amendment.

            Why do you pin the 19th Amendment on Republicans?

            • Comment by Jordan179:

              Why do you pin the 19th Amendment on Republicans?

              Because the Prohibition political movement was originally spawned by the Republican Party. There was a religious movement beginning in the first half of the 19th century — the Transcendents — which also inspired certain people to attempt to reform social injustices which had gone unredressed for so long that most people considered them intractable problems.

              This produced two very good consequences: Abolition and Women’s Suffrage. It also produced one very bad one: Prohibition. Many of the same people who were Abolitionists and Suffragettes were also Prohibitionists, and the majority of Abolitionists, Suffragettes and Prohibitionists were Republicans. This is deliberately obscured today by the modern liberal academic establishment, which wants to forget the fact that the Democrats were originally the party of racism and sexism in America.

              • Comment by Robert Mitchell Jr:

                Which is to say that the 19th Amendment is not the work of the Republicans. The Republicans, alas, are a little too dull for many, who quickly spin off to form a new party or movement, only to crash and burn. Witness “Porkbusters”, who pilloried the Republicans “overspending”, only to see the Democrats they had put into power increase the deficit tenfold.

                As to your other point, what choice do they have? The Democrats are still the party of Racism and Sexism in America. The Republicans fought for Civil Rights for a hundred+ years, only to see the Democrats (When they saw the old methods were no longer politically viable) switch from violent lynching to the smothering pillow of “Affirmative Action (always a generation from ending!)” and the soft bigotry of low expectations. As to Sexism, the Party of Ted Kennedy is today’s big news story, where the brutal attack of a woman by a politically powerful Democrat warrants nothing more then probation……

            • Comment by Jordan179:

              Sorry, I meant Transcendentalists. The “Transcendents” are meddlers from the future in my Mandateverse :)

  4. Comment by Stephen J.:

    “Both agree that the world is a ruthless Darwinian competition between oppressors and the oppressed, and one must side with the oppressed, no matter the merits of the case.”

    These days I understand the preferred terms are privileged and disadvantaged. The idea being presumably to allow for the points of nuance that there are levels of privilege, and that individuals may be part of a faction that lets them passively enjoy the benefits of an oppressive system without themselves actively oppressing any other specific individual, while still exploiting the guilt that comes from seeing others living less fortunately for no reason (in itself a decent and natural empathic impulse if it encourages charity).

    It does occur to me, though, that one could probably find a Republican candidate who explicitly campaigned against same-sex civil marriage on the basis of sexual norms which were much more widely accepted in the 1880s. Perhaps this is what Mr./Ms. Delta Zero meant. (Now if a candidate could be found who tried to bring straight marriage back to the 1880s by getting rid of no-fault divorce, you might have something.)

    • Comment by Zagato:

      (Now if a candidate could be found who tried to bring straight marriage back to the 1880s by getting rid of no-fault divorce, you might have something.)

      Personally, I say get rid of no-fault divorce.

      Let me repeat that: Get rid of no-fault divorce. There. I bolded and italicized it for you.

      It makes marriage actually mean something again. There is no point entering into a contract in which one party (usually the woman: see here) can dissolve it at will, then run away with cash, prizes, and the children. You, as a man, are expected to do the work required to maintain a family without getting the family. Furthermore, you can be punished even if you’re doing everything you should as a husband and father, simply because the woman feels “unhappy” or otherwise dissatisfied with you. When alimony and child support come into play, you have been reduced to an ATM; you must pay for the privilege of being rejected by your own wife. If you don’t pay (no matter the reason), you go to jail.

      No-fault divorce punishes those who have committed no crimes.

    • Comment by lotdw:

      “It does occur to me, though, that one could probably find a Republican candidate who explicitly campaigned against same-sex civil marriage on the basis of sexual norms which were much more widely accepted in the 1880s. Perhaps this is what Mr./Ms. Delta Zero meant.”

      Maybe, but then he could just as well have said the 1950s, or the 1720s, or the 1000s.

      Of course, it’s a fallacy to think that something is better merely because it comes later.

  5. Comment by robertjwizard:

    …back to the way it was in the 1880′s. I would have been, depending on the law being discussed, much more interested, even enthused, about the campaign had it been.

    I would have peed.

    • Comment by Stephen J.:

      Sir, that is the best laugh I’ve had all day. Thank you!

      • Comment by robertjwizard:

        I giggled a little writing it. If I may kill the moment to say that any such campaign would have been thought insane. That what our forefathers thought, sane, just and rational is called by its opposite now. There is a class of intellectual that campaigns for just such things now. And it is futile because those ideas bore fruit within the age of reason and will never arise again without its base.

        That it took 4 centuries of Aristotelean philosophy to reach even the stage of John Locke. For the Founding Fathers, sons of the most rational age, to forge on a new land this creed, even while their enemies forged their creation’s demise, to last for a wink of time, to be concealed again.

        I would have peed, but there may have been a tinkle of pity in there as well.

        There is a poem in there somewhere dealing with pee and dreams…

  6. Comment by Sylvie D. Rousseau:

    Perhaps Argumentum ad novitatem? It is the idea that the latest and newest thing must be true.
    As a reverse variation of the argumentum ad antiquitatem, it falls in the category of “statistical” arguments. Such assertions might help form an opinion on a given subject, but if the thing is proven false by a valid argument, the opinion is turned against the argument and its proponents.

    • Comment by Tom Simon:

      The trouble is that neither the ad antiquitatem nor the ad novitatem is normally based on statistical evidence. The ad antiquitatem is generally based on a loose intuitive belief that things that have lasted a long time must have done so for good reason. In some cases this belief is so extreme that it takes the form of outright pejorism. The ad novitatem is based on an ideological belief in meliorism — and nothing more. If you don’t believe that there is a mystical force called ‘progress’ that tends to drive all things towards perpetual improvement, then the ad novitatem will hold no force for you: as indeed it should not.

      Cf. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where Governor Gumpas tries to defend the slave trade in the Lone Islands:

      ‘But that would be putting the clock back,’ gasped the Governor. ‘Have you no idea of progress, of development?’

      ‘I have seen them both in an egg,’ said Caspian. ‘We call it Going bad in Narnia. This trade must stop.’

      Gumpas makes the argument from novelty: the slave trade is new, therefore ‘progressive’, and whatever is new and progressive must be better than what it replaced. Caspian is not fooled, and disproves Gumpas’s meliorist axiom with an obvious counterexample.

      To enlarge upon Caspian’s example, there are four things that can happen to an egg. Two of them depend upon external action: it can be eaten or broken. The other two are internal organic processes: the egg can develop until it hatches, or it can go bad. One of these changes is for the better (from the egg’s point of view), one for the worse; and no a priori assumption can tell us which of these things will happen to any given egg. Meliorism is the silly belief that all eggs must hatch; pejorism is the silly belief that all eggs must go bad. An honest person will have nothing to do with either of them.

      • Comment by Sylvie D. Rousseau:

        Thank you for the correction and the example. “Wicked Paedia” (cf. David Warren) seems to be awful as usual. I cannot even find again where I saw the link with statistical arguments. I might have confounded two articles. Sorry.

        • Comment by Tom Simon:

          De nada. I use Wicked Paedia fairly often myself, but mostly for things like looking up the release dates of movies, or the birth and death dates of famous people.

          Most Wikipedia articles are slanted antigoglin; they would make a funny-looking fence; but at least the fenceposts touch the ground at the same point where they would if they were upright.

  7. Ping from I need this on a bumper sticker | Something Fishy:

    [...] John C Wright: totalitarianism sucks [...]

  8. Comment by Dirigibletrance:

    Just FYI, “Base Delta Zero” is a Star Wars reference. It is the procedural name the Empire used for when an Imperial Star Destroyer (or fleet of Star Destroyers) destroyed the civilization on a planet by glassing all major population centers via sustained orbital heavy-turbolaser bombardment.

    Yes, this was done frequently enough that there was a formal name for it.

  9. Comment by Base Delta Zero:

    irection of totalitarianism, that is, social justice,

    For values of ‘progressive’ that are ‘Marxist’ and ‘totalitarianism’ that are ‘Communism’. Which are still not the same thing.

    Seriously, though, the ‘Progressive’ label comes from the belief that they are improving conditions (i.e. making progress). Some may believe there to be a general trend towards justice and freedom, but not all. (Although, look at say, the general involvement of people in their own government compared to 300 years ago. Or, really, just about anything (per capita, granted))

    and anyone who opposes the forces of history is called a ‘reactionary’ or a ‘conservative’, that is, someone who wants the status quo of today maintained, or a return to the conditions of yesterday.

    The implication is that there is no rational reason to prefer the past to the present, merely an inertia, or timidity, lack of imagination, or a desire of the evil exploiters to maintain the current injustices of the world for their own benefit, or a foolishness on the part of the exploited not to see their own degradation.

    There is no rational reason to prefer the past to the present because it is the past (nor is there are a rational reason to prefer to the present to the past because it is the present). There can be perfectly rational reasons for preferring the system used in the past. ‘Because without absolute restrictions on state power it could be used for evil’ is a valid reason. Hell, ‘Because a man raised from birth to govern is more experienced than some random theorist off the street’ is a valid reason. ‘Because we’ve always done it this way’ is not a valid reason.
    BUT
    For the most part, conservatives don’t use ‘because we’ve always done it this way’, and the burden of proof is on the new theory, especially when you’re considering large-scale applications. It’s just their positions happen to be the traditional ones.

    …but then again National Socialists of Germany (Nazis) are ‘Rightwing’ and ‘Conservative’ because they oppose the Communist dream of one world government and abolition of private property…

    The National Socialist German Worker’s Party is socialist like the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea is democratic, a republic, or ruled by the people. That aside, those groups are called ‘Right-wing/Conservative’ because they favor an authority-based worldview with a strong emphasis on traditional values. Obviously to very different degrees – a position is not its most irrational extreme

    A conservative is defined as someone who believes in those timeless principles on which the republic was founded: limited government hindered by checks and balances, separation of powers, the rights of man, freedom of speech, press, religion, and the right to bear arms, and of the free market, as well as notions of virtue, decency and honor.

    Commitments demonstrated by, in recent years: Unlimited surveilance powers, consolidation of power in the Executive, torture, the steadfast codification of sectarian doctrine into law, unilateral assassination(!) of American citizens (!) in non-hostile(!) nations, boundless subsidies for megacorporations, lowering upper-income taxes while simultaneously launching a war on false pretenses, adamant insistence that the President not be questioned, followed immediately by rampant speculation on the next President’s background, and seething hatred for… everything.
    You got ‘the right to bear arms’ down, I guess. That’s… nice. (Mostly. But we could at least regulate guns as much as America’s other favorite Dangerous Metal Object)

    So the Progressive is roughly fifty years behind the times when it comes to the Sexual Revolution and the Drug Culture, and he is eager to join the struggle with his Black Brethren to overthrow the Jim Crow laws and fight the KKK. The Progressive does this by supporting the party who voted in Jim Crow and formed the KKK, namely, the Democrats, and by opposing the NRA, who armed the Blacks against the Democrat KKK, and by opposing the Republicans, who both freed the Blacks and voting in the Civil Rights Act.

    Yes? The Republican party created the New Deal, and made war on their fellow citizens in order to seize their property. Times change, and the modern Democratic party is not the same as the Democratic party of the past. Also, both parties voted for the Civil Rights Act in the majority, it was pretty much a straight North/South split.

    Instead I will merely post a general challenge to any reader who cares to answer: Name one policy, law, or regulation that was discussed by both sides during this election, a single one, which advocated the return to a law, rule or regulation substantially the same as its equivalent law in the 1880′s. Name one.

    Repeal of the Civil Rights Act, removal of Social Security, contraception bans, no less than two states wanting to secede, repeal of anti-trust laws, repeal of child-labor laws, union-busting… all that wonderful Gilded Age stuff.

    that he killed Big Bird

    Because, in the first debate, Romney mentioned cutting PBS as one part of his plan to balance the deficit, which is a bit like trying to lift a steel girder off a man’s chest by chipping off some of the paint.

    voting for Barack Obama was the same as having sex.

    It is? How disappointing.

    I believe the opposition of the Catholic Church for having heathens force us to pay for abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptions so your sluts could commit fornication and abominations and baby-murder was called ‘the war on women’ — as if our mere nominal refusal to spend our hard earned money so that you could indulging in sins leading to damnation without having to spend your own damned money was the same as an act of war.

    No. The Catholic Church wanted (wants) to prevent women from spending their own money on contraception (Abortion = still not covered by insurance!). Health benefits are not a gift from the employer, it is due to the employee as part of their salary/wages. The employer, regardless of their relative virtue, cannot dictate what it is spent on.
    Also, government mandated rape, widespan bans on contraception, Todd Akin’s literally medieval ideas on reproductive physiology, government mandated rape, attempted repeal of the Violence Against Women Act, shooting down the Equal Pay act, and did I mention the government mandated rape

    FOOTNOTE: I sadly must hung up my Geek Credentials. As it turns out, Base Delta Zero is from STAR WARS. It is an Imperial Star Destroyer code for a Star Destroyer to slag 100% of the surface of a planet and render it sterile and uninhabitable. It is an apt name for a radical Leftist, since this is their approach to civilization.

    Funny enough, the last time someone made a quip like this, it was in reference to my disagreement that cars should be banned…

    Compare the frequency and volume of complaints about the goings on in Abu Graib prison while it was being run by the US Army versus when it was being run by Saddam’s Baathists, and compare the severity and frequency of the crimes against humanity.

    Because Saddam did something worse, that makes it okay? The whole point of being better than the petty tyrants and homicidal maniacs of the world is to be better than the petty tyrants and homicidal maniacs of the world

    The Rwandan genocide took place on Bill Clinton’s watch, and he did absolutely nothing to stop it or to punish anyone responsible for it when it was over. This despite the fact that Rwanda has only a joke-army: one Marine brigade could have forced the whole country into abject cringing submission.

    Great! Now you have a country to forcibly prevent from killing each other. Good luck doing that. (With a few thousand Marines)

    In more general terms America’s UberArmy pretty much guarantees that any war will be easy, but occupations… those are hard. A sledgehammer is nice, but ‘worthless nation-building excercises’ are precisely what is needed… you must put all the pieces back together just right, or you might end up with something worse than what you started with.
    Meanwhile in Libya/Egypt/Tunisia… the whole Arab Spring might still bear some fruit. There’s a strong fundamentalist presence, but there’s also a rising current of secularism… it’d be really nice if the whole Iraq experiment had actually succeeded – but that really demonstrates how hard an occupation can be. We could’ve stayed as long as we liked, sure, but the country was hardly better off than it had been, and we were making precious little process on improvement. It was just instead of one big psycho you had hundreds of little psychos running around fighting each other.
    Sometimes war is worth it. But it is always devastating, and full-scale invasion… well, wars are expensive. Want to invade Iran? Say goodbye to any hope of lowering the deficit. Even if you cut all domestic spending and let the country fall to pieces…

    Let me repeat that: Get rid of no-fault divorce. There. I bolded and italicized it for you.

    And watch the domestic violence rate skyrocket…

    No-fault divorce allows unhappy couples to readily seperate. Being forced to live with someone you don’t like is not pleasant… if you don’t think you should be divorced, don’t get one. Besides, what makes you think faulted divorce would be any better, custody-wise, when now it’s a tort with a stated reason for seperation? Either you get a situation where ‘grounds’ are readily faked, or you have actual abusive situations where the couple can’t seperate.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Unlimited surveillance powers, consolidation of power in the Executive, torture, the steadfast codification of sectarian doctrine into law, unilateral assassination(!) of American citizens (!) in non-hostile(!) nations, boundless subsidies for megacorporations …

      I hope you will join me in my absolute condemnation and detestation of these things you list. They are the opposite of my point of view. Am I not a conservative?

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      The Catholic Church wanted (wants) to prevent women from spending their own money on contraception (Abortion = still not covered by insurance!). Health benefits are not a gift from the employer, it is due to the employee as part of their salary/wages. The employer, regardless of their relative virtue, cannot dictate what it is spent on.

      This merits nothing more than a curt dismissal. I am an attorney: take my word for it that in Anglo-American law, it is not theft if you fail to give me your property where I have no color of claim to it.

      By your logic, all property whatsoever is owned by the state, whose power reaches to all areas of human life, unrestricted by law. It is pure totalitarianism.

      Also, the HHS mandate does indeed provide that Catholic employers pay for insurance to provide abortifacient drugs, that is to say, drugs that cause abortions.

      No Catholic employer is claiming the right to garnish wages used by employees on their own time to buy contraceptives. This is a lie so breathtaking, even by Lefty standards, that surely even you must pause in dizzy astonishment. It reads like a parody of Orwellian doublethink.

      • Comment by Rolf Andreassen:

        Nobody said a word about Catholic employers. The institution accused was the Catholic Church. Now, I am not entirely up on its doctrines, but is it not the case that your church believes contraception is a sin? And, presumably, it would like to prevent women from spending their money on sinning. I do not necessarily accuse it of wishing to use the law to do so; an institution so large no doubt has all sorts of opinions on the point. If it attempts to achieve that goal by persuasion, that is of course entirely legitimate. Still, it is a historical fact that countries in which the Catholic church was strong have also had secular laws banning contraception.

  10. Comment by Base Delta Zero:

    This merits nothing more than a curt dismissal. I am an attorney: take my word for it that in Anglo-American law, it is not theft if you fail to give me your property where I have no color of claim to it.

    By your logic, all property whatsoever is owned by the state, whose power reaches to all areas of human life, unrestricted by law. It is pure totalitarianism.

    That’s not what I said. It is not theft to fail to give property one has no claim to, that’s obvious, but employees, do have claim to payment for their work. Health benefits are part of that payment, taken in lieu of cash (because a corporation can get better rates than an individual through bulk purchasing) – this was the case prior to the ACA, and remains the case now. The difference is it is now (essentially) mandatory that employers offer some of their payment in health care. I imagine you disagree with this precept, but that’s not what this specific debate is about – various employers, many of which are not directly religious in nature, want a specific exemption to the mandate – they want to provide less than they are legally required, but don’t want to suffer the consequences.

    Not only that, but this is a rather new thing, since the protesting institutions that previously provided coverage already included contraception

    Also, the HHS mandate does indeed provide that Catholic employers pay for insurance to provide abortifacient drugs, that is to say, drugs that cause abortions.

    Plan B doesn’t cause abortion.

    I hope you will join me in my absolute condemnation and detestation of these things you list. They are the opposite of my point of view. Am I not a conservative?

    I suspect the one thing we might agree on is that things are screwed up, and you are definitely a conservative… though, this may imply the Republican party is not.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I am an attorney. I know the law. What you are saying is rubbish. Your claim is that a contract between two parties may, at will, by the state, be rewritten so as to create a new obligation to which one of them never agreed, and that to refuse to preform this newly imposed obligation is theft.

      In reality, what you are describing is the tort called “interference with contracts” and it is forbidden under Angloamerican common law, and runs afoul of the ‘takings’ clause in the Bill of Rights.

      What you are saying is not just the opposite of the truth, it is an insolent evil.

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