Monday, November 19, 2012

Nietzsche and Marx

It is terrible to admit it, but these are the two most important thinkers of modern times.

Nietzsche correctly diagnosed the disease of envy. It is widespread and the condition of the patient is dire. It has given us a common sense which deems it appropriate for the poor to bomb their neighbors but not for the wealthy neighbors to use deadly force to defend themselves against the bombing. It has given us a common sense which feels that the government should take as much capital from the employers in a society as is necessary to provide the non-wealthy a comfortable standard of living. It forces the mind to ignore the catastrophic results of this policy.

Marx packaged the purified essence of envy in a delivery system which enabled the disease to destroy the Western world's political and economic systems in about one hundred and fifty years. 100 million died in the process, and untold millions were impoverished. He gave us to believe that any argument against the justice or prudence of enforcing equality of economic outcomes may be dismissed as nothing more than an epiphenomenon of the greed of the wealthy desiring to protect their wealth from redistribution. This stops the mind from using its own defenses to remove the virus. When reason is prevented from attempting to persuade, the patient is terminally ill and there is no hope of saving him.

Monday, November 05, 2012

If You Can Keep It

Human nature being what it is, the American political system is the best known political system. But the system makes no guarantee of its own longevity, human nature being what it is. Nothing in either human nature or the American political system should lead us to believe that a 1,000-year run of the system likely. A quarter of a millennium may just as well be considered a good run. Indeed, the system has had a few wrenches thrown into its works during the last 100 years and is running very poorly now.

You have a republic if you can keep it. If you can't keep it, then you can't keep it. We are such that we are prone to be swayed by our sloth, envy, greed and lust for power. Our political system is such that it cannot withstand all manifestations of these vices without breaking down. It is the best known system for handling these vices, but they still have the capacity to gain the upper hand and destroy it.

An economic or political collapse would bring much misery and death. Many of those who would die or suffer would be innocent and quite undeserving of their fates. But it isn't appropriate to be depressed about this. This is what is naturally so. This is our nature as human beings. It is rather appropriate to be grateful for this world and to do one's best to make things go as well as they possibly can, knowing that the end will come eventually.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Glen Doherty:

Tyrone Woods:

Unexcelled heroes in the War on Terror. We await the books of investigative journalism. The survivors need to be interviewed.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Meditation and Prayer

I know a Zen Buddhist who's car has a bumper sticker which says, "I'd rather be driving." There's one of those well-known Zen ink circles on it (an enso.) He operates a zendo. Nice fellow.

Bill would rather be driving. In meditation the point is to keep the mind unwaveringly aware of only this moment, to pare conscious states down so that its customary flurry of thoughts subsides. Bill isn't thinking of something else, but only driving. He isn't interested in or intent on anything else, but only driving. Meditation entails not wanting something else. I think the main point is gratitude (and I've explained that in previous posts.) The object of meditation is gratitude for one's life in this world, or gratitude that this world exists. The point is not to want something else than what one has.

Prayer is essentially an expression of gratitude that this world exists. (Which is why prayer that asks God for something can't be prayer.) If one prays earnestly and intently, one keeps the mind conscious primarily of this gratitude and maintains a meditative state.

I think the two states can be very similar if close enough to perfectly executed. It depends upon keeping the mind very still and conscious of this world and one's gratitude for it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Progressivism and Civil Society

You know I've never met one person who is for sharing wealth who would ever share a dime. - Jane, a commenter at JOM.

Indeed. But why? Yuval Levin has a nice article in the latest NRDT in which he points out that progressivism includes the intent to eliminate civil society, which includes sharing the wealth via private charity. It does this by arguing that if you're in favor of sharing then you agree that the government should transfer wealth from the rich to the poor and take over all social functions held by the institutions of civil society, so as to ensure these functions are performed by law. Indeed, any function of civil society worth doing should be relinquished to the government to make sure it is done and made available to all, equitably. The civil society vanishes, and all that is left is the individual and the state, where the individual's entire life is reducible to functions of the state in which he partakes. He loses his individuality. He no longer can assemble a life of his choosing by piecing together those elements of the civil society which appeal particularly to his inclinations and talents. He does as he's told, just as everyone else does, by bureaucrats who do not know him.

So, the non sequitur "You're in favor of giving to the poor, so you must support the welfare state vision of progressivism" is not only a powerful tool to confuse muddle who aren't prepared to notice its fallacy but also a weapon wielded against civil society. "Sharing" has nothing to do with it, nor does welfare.

Moreover, civil institutions which individuals create reflect their values, are chosen by them, and are meaningful to them. They have the marks of very specific backgrounds from which they emerge. They reflect and contribute to ways of life which have a history. When these institutions are created by government they are generic and devoid of specific marks and reflect no ways of life at all, embody only a distant bureaucrat's values if any values at all, are chosen by few who want to partake of them, and are meaningful to no one. Meaning gone, all that is left are work, government, private pleasures and private prayer.

So, the government can't even take over the civil society and run it. The progressive's welfare state, in requiring the subsumption of civil institutions by government, requires the demise of the civil society. There isn't room for both in human life. They are competitors. The asymmetry in this competition is that a healthy civil society can tolerate a healthy and functioning government, one small in size, but a welfare state cannot tolerate a healthy and functioning civil society because a civil society that is small is not healthy or functioning. The welfare state must eliminate the civil society but civil society tolerates government (and even needs government.)

The larger the share of GDP the government has the smaller the civil society becomes. That's just math. You can't wriggle out of that. When you move up from 15% to 25% and beyond to larger government shares of the GDP, you begin to squeeze the institutions which make for meaningful lives out of existence. The same math which fiscally dooms the progressive budget also dooms civil society. You can print or borrow money for a while to cover up this math but sooner or later you must face it. The welfare state destroys civil society and also itself.

You can't have prosperity and poverty reduction while confiscating capital from private industry. You can't have enormous tax revenues while making it impossible to amass capital in private business. You can't maintain a welfare state while maintaining a rich civil society. Inasmuch as a healthy society requires prosperity and a functioning civil society, the progressive's welfare state is a mathematical and economic impossibility. This does not entail that there are no progressives do not realize this and earnestly wish for prosperity, the welfare state and civil society to coexist. But it does entail that the others are totalitarians and care nothing about anyone's welfare but their own.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Latest Attempt at an Argument for Leftism

It's the argument that since a successful businessman required the assistance of others in the form of an infrastructure and a labor force, he is not entitled to the wealth he created for himself. It's as poor as all the other arguments for leftism.

We all get the infrastructure and labor force. They are an opportunity open for all to use. Some of us work hard and apply brains in using this infrastructure, creating wealth for themselves. Others do not.

Those with the wealth pay for most of the bill for the infrastructure and labor force. Others do not, many paying nothing at all for it, while still retaining the same opportunity to use them as anyone else.

The Marxists' latest attempt at argumentation falls into the catch-all category non sequitur. It simply doesn't follow from the fact that we all jointly provide the infrastructure and labor force that therefore the wealth someone creates by using these is not his property.

You and I create a street between our houses. Afterwards I create a taxi company and make a good living using it. Meanwhile, you play tiddly winks and gaze vacantly at me driving my cab up and down the street. We use the street about equally, and I pay almost all of the bills to fix the potholes. You express your envy. I suggest you create a cab company or use the street as a runway for a small airlines or teach roller skating lessons on the street or whatever. I even offer to hire you to drive my cab (meanwhile, I am employing your cousins who are enabled to support their families.) You say "Hmph!" and return to your tiddly winks. At the end of the year you send some men with guns to extract 50% of my earnings. They call themselves "IRS".

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Leftism Is The Old Regime

You've been hoodwinked for about 150 years.

People who covet absolute power need to trick you into giving it to them, unless they take it from you at gunpoint.

The most powerful trick in the book is to make you believe that they will protect you from being subjected to tyranny if you give them power and relinquish your independence and freedom.
I am on your side. I will protect you from the tyrants who only want to subject and enslave you, to hoodwink you out of the fruits of your labor and to deprive you of your prosperity. I need you to entrust to me the responsibility to provide for you and regulate your life so that they cannot harm you. This will be costly, so I need you to fund this endeavor. It will require enormous power, so I need you to allow me to have it. Together we can fight the good fight.
Sound familiar? If you believe this propaganda, then you will oppose the alternative to increasing centralized government authority: liberty. You will take yourself to be doing this for the sake of liberty and in opposition to tyranny. You will propel a tyrant to power in the confused belief that this is the way to prevent tyranny.

There are two possible results. The first possibility is that of a powerful elite with enormous wealth and power ruling over impoverished and powerless masses. Sound familiar? It's the Old Regime. The second possibility is that in order to keep you hoodwinked the tyrants will have to pay you off so that you don't hit the skids so abruptly that you wake up from your confusion. But the money won't last and bankruptcy will come sooner or later. For Greece it comes sooner, with several U.S. states, the U.S. itself, and certain European countries making their way towards the precipice at various speeds.

Consider the various leftwing figures of the last 100 years, from the most brutal to the most effete and seemingly benign, from Stalin and Hitler to the various current American politicians of the left and their cronies. You will find only hard tyrants and soft. None has been on the side of liberty. The are the Old Regime of the last 1000 years. You have been hoodwinked.

The new regime is liberty. The Old Regime will not die easily and will even masquerade as the opponent of the Old Regime and the friend of liberty in order to secure its power. It's actually quite simple and easy to see through.