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Tag Archive: Liberalism

A Letter to My Teen Daughters, Concerning Racism

Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2016 (11:59 pm), by John W Gillis


It can be difficult for me to get a handle on what I want to say about something, especially on-the-spot. But I wanted to follow up on tonight’s brief post-dinner discussion of something I consider profoundly important in the world today, which is the role the idea of racism plays in the on-going cultural drama of the propagation of modern society’s religious dogmas. I hope you will all find the time to do me the courtesy of reading this through. I have tried to be brief, but that’s a challenge, too…

Some information gleaned from reputable-looking sites on the WWW regarding the KKK: 1

“At its peak in the 1920s, Klan membership exceeded 4 million people nationwide.”

{and then, over the course of a single lifetime—70 years…}

“In the early 1990s, the Klan was estimated to have between 6,000 and 10,000 active members, mostly in the Deep South.”

{and, finally, after having seen its membership drop 99.75% by the last decade of the century…}

“[The KKK] is estimated to have between 5,000 and 8,000 members as of 2012.”

These last numbers are from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is basically a left-wing agitprop organization which would be happy to find as many KKK members as they could, in order to prop up the relentless political narrative that “White” culture is awash in “racism”.

On the other hand, while the KKK was busy losing 20% of what little was left of its vanishing membership…: 2

“The American Religious Identification Survey gives Wicca an average annual growth of 143% for the period 1990 to 2001 (from 8,000 to 134,000)”

{so, 25 years ago, there were about as many KKK members as there were Wiccans (~8,000), and then…}

“According to Wikipedia, Wicca “is a modern pagan, witchcraft religion”.  It has been estimated that the number of Americans that are Wiccans is doubling every 30 months, and at this point there are more than 200,000 registered witches and approximately 8 million unregistered practitioners of Wicca.  And it is important to remember that Wicca is just one form of witchcraft.  There are many other “darker” forms of witchcraft that are also experiencing tremendous growth.”

So, the KKK, at 0.0025% or less of the population and declining steadily, continues to be held up as a despised symbol of a rampant moral and spiritual problem that no one can ever really find anymore, except in the hurt feelings of recompense-seeking victims, the self-righteous scoldings of crisis-seeking newsbarkers, celebrity-seeking entertainers, and status-seeking educators, or the mob manipulations of power-seeking politicians.

And yet, there are 1,000 times more Wiccans than Klansmen, at 2.5% of the population and growing rapidly, and nobody seems overly concerned about a crisis of paganism in America – or even one of witchcraft. Indeed, the very entertainers and newsbarkers who inveigh with holy wrath against the scourge of every under-pigmented Oscar nomination slate are quite at home embracing and propagating the cultural “sophistication” of paganism, and in celebrating its bloody sacrifices.

A final, important note on “racism”:

Racism is a word invented in the 1930s to describe Adolf Hitler’s anthropological views, and their political expression. These views were called neo-pagan, because he combined romantic elements of German/Norse paganism with modern, “scientific” ideas, including evolutionism. Evolutionism was a requisite component of his view that Jews in particular (but also others to lesser degrees), were of an inferior race. Hitler did not invent this idea of sub-human species belonging to a different “race”, but he brought it into the heart of Europe from the former colonial lands, and directed it primarily toward the Jews. And he sold it to a willing populace using an egotistically romantic notion of a master race.

You need to posit multiple races in order to have “racism”. On every level, this idea is deeply absurd, and offensive to the truth. The denial of genuine common humanity (never mind superiority/inferiority views, which are actually a distraction from the real evil being sold) is completely at odds with the fundamental Christian doctrine of Original Sin, and hence would render Christianity absurd – the salvational claim of Christianity being that God, in Christ, became one of us (i.e. a member of the one human race) in order that we could become like Him (i.e. divine: “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled Himself to share in our humanity” – prayer at the preparation of the gifts).

The common current public spectacle of calling political and cultural opponents of Liberalism “racists” is absurd, obscene, and despicable – as is the quarrying of “racism” under every phony fig leaf.

But that’s not because the pagan idea of a sub-human species undeserving of the respect due human dignity has disappeared with the Nazis and the last gasps of American race slaving. Far from it. It has simply migrated from the plantations and encomiendas of America, and from the death camps of central Europe, into the abortion mills of what remains of Western civilization.

So it’s not that I actually think “racism” doesn’t exist, it’s just that I think most people are dead wrong about where it lives on today. And it’s a lot easier to thump your chest about the imagined sins of “those” real or imagined people, than to confront your own. Don’t be deceived by these fools.

 

1. The first two quotes regarding the KKK are taken from www.history.com, the third from the Wikipedia entry for the KKK.

2. The two quotes regarding Wicca are taken from thetruthwins.com

…it was the halting and reversing of a socio-cultural revolution

Posted: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 (10:18 pm), by John W Gillis


The lights have been out at this blog for about a year and a half, but I’ve been targeting to get back to it, and even made a few tweaks and updates over the past week in preparation. And I could hardly find a finer way of turning the lights back on than by sharing this illuminating article at TheWeek.com by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, who punctures the absurd conceits of the Progressive movement concerning the “inevitability” of social change, by revisiting the origins of the concept of racialism (race & racism) in early modern and – especially – Enlightenment era “scientific” liberalism:

Like other socio-cultural revolutions, it started out as a fringe idea and became mainstream seemingly overnight. The idea of studying and classifying “races” as such appears as mostly a sidebar in scientific inquiry in the mid-part of the 18th century, but by the end of the 18th century it’s all over the place and by the 19th century the idea of races is pretty much received wisdom. In the American Colonies, the first person to be legally recognized as a slave was owned by a free black man. While some colonies had laws banning marriage between free persons and slaves, none of them originally had anti-miscegenation laws. These laws were passed in a sudden wave, in a matter of a generation.

Like other socio-cultural revolutions, it draped itself under scientific accoutrements. To many people, theories of evolution seemed to naturally indicate that there were different races and that these races had intrinsic traits. “Scientific racism” was all the rage. While we hear about people like James Henley Thornwell, the Southern white Calvinistic preacher who backed slavery, we hear much less about figures like Louis Agassiz, the Swiss-born deist scientist who built a profitable public speaking career in the South promoting scientific racism.

Like other socio-cultural revolutions, it advanced under the banner of moral progress. Racism is inseparable from colonialism and the “white man’s burden” to colonize the lesser races to teach them civilization (at the barrel of a gun if need be — for their own good, of course). Another form of so-called moral progress, enthusiastically embraced by progressive elites and coevally linked with racism, is eugenicism. Margaret Sanger, the doyenne of the family planning movement and great advocate of eugenicism was, like the Ku Klux Klan, a sworn enemy of both inferior races and the Catholic Church (and in fact, spoke at a KKK event and was well received).

Part of Gobry’s point is that the progressive conceit that there is no turning back from social change once it is committed to is refuted, unawares, by progressives themselves every time they toll their signal bell claiming once-for-all social victory over the dark and “ancient” scourge of racism through the Civil Rights movement: the civil rights movement was nothing but the turning back of earlier but still relatively recent moral and cultural “progress” rooted in liberal (i.e. anti-Catholic) ideology.

To me, this is so obvious as to be pretty much self-evident, and I’ve always been baffled by the success of progressivism’s propaganda accusing its opponents (“conservatives”) of being champions of racism. Christian doctrine is as necessarily opposed to racism as it is to same-sex marriage: not simply because it’s a bad idea or evil result, but because it is an absurdity relying on a bogus premise concerning the nature of the human being, one which ultimately denigrates the race through mockery of just what it means to be a human being, created in the image of a God who is Father of all. But a lie can travel half-way around the world…

Not so much a cultural revolution, as it is a mop-up job

Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2013 (8:45 pm), by John W Gillis


Thanks to a link provided by Operation Rescue Boston’s Bill Cotter in a recent newsletter email, I recently came across an article by John Jalsevac at LifeSiteNews.com, which I consider the most insightful piece of short literature I have read on the cultural phenomenon of gay marriage, recognizing not only the problem the concept presents, but also acknowledging the very thin grounds modern (i.e. liberalized) “conservatives” have to stand on in resisting the expansion of the modern notion of marriage to include gays:

But an honest look at the cultural landscape raises the question of just how much is left to defend. The statistics suggest that social conservatives may be brandishing their scimitars not in defense of a robust institution suddenly threatened by a new and hostile cultural force, but rather the smoking ruins of an institution long ago surrendered and abandoned as lost. The Sexual Revolution of the 60s, and what a friend of mine calls the subsequent “hell of the Divorce Tsunami” of the 70s, have already swept this Thing That We Used to Call Marriage out to sea, leaving us clinging to the bobbing flotsam and jetsam.

By this point the statistics are so familiar that they have ceased to be shocking. And yet the numbers ought to shock us. Right now, some sixty percent of couples cohabit before marriage; nearly half of all marriages end in divorce; a record number of Americans aren’t bothering to get married in the first place, and those that do get married are getting married ever later; 41 percent of all children are born out of wedlock; 35 percent of children live in single-parent homes; only 61 percent of children under 18 live with their biological parents; and the birth rate has now dipped below the replacement level, as couples are having fewer and fewer, or sometimes no children at all.

So much for marriage being “life-long,” “exclusive” and child-oriented! Well then, what do we have left? Only the final third of our definition of traditional marriage: that marriage should be between one man and one woman. From the perspective of the gay rights movement, getting rid of this final scrap of our definition is not so much a cultural revolution, as it is a mop-up job. The revolution already happened. Now it’s simply a question of tying up the loose ends.

And they are not wrong.

Jalsevac insists that what is being defended against the encroachment of homosexuality is not marriage in any historically meaningful sense, but a liberal institution he calls New Marriage, which is little more than the corpse of that institution upon which civilization has been built. He is absolutely correct.

Liberalism – understood in its older sense, and not something that began in the 1960s or late 19th century – has had as its aim the destruction/replacement of two fundamental institutions: the Church, and the family. In fact, I think one could reduce its aim to the singular goal of the destruction/replacement of fatherhood (i.e. patriarchy). On the family/marriage front, the main battle was lost about fifty years ago. I barely know anyone who understands marriage as anything that even closely resembles the reality that formed human culture.

Were it not for the working of grace in my life, I don’t think I would be able to understand what the difference is. But there is a difference – a momentous difference – and the truth, however elusive, must be pursued, embraced, and proclaimed. I recommend following the link to the entire article.

A Belated Clarification

Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 (1:12 am), by John W Gillis


Circumstances compel me to issue a clarification to a notion rendered in my last entry, from late December, lamenting the re-election of Barack Obama. My expressing a similar idea in a conversation prompted a sharp rebuttal that I was (wrongly and uncharitably) entertaining a conceit that everyone who voted to re-elect Obama did so either for trivial reasons, or out of naked self-interest. It is not true that I believe that, but I can understand how someone could come to that conclusion, given the cynical tone of my harangue.

I made two offending comments: one that “many people” had voted for him in 2008 because of the color of his skin (from which it was inferred that I therefore also meant to imply that the same occurred last November, which I did not say, but which I have no good reason to doubt happened on some scale, although I suspect it was not nearly the factor it was in 2008), and the other that “a majority of citizens are [now] willing to vote themselves other people’s money”, which I did say had appeared to have become a real possibility. What I said, I maintain, is true – in both cases. The first is demonstrable – nobody even tries to hide it until someone impolitic like myself is uncultured enough to point out its unseemliness in plain speech. The second I did not and do not assert as an accomplished fact, but did and do assert as either a real or near and impending crisis of political morality, representing the inevitable culmination of a century of domination of the American polity by political and social progressivism.

Neither of these claims, however, precludes the possibility of a principled support for Obama. I certainly have asserted that not all political support for Obama was of a principled nature, but that is not the same thing as saying that none of it was. I have no doubt that there is a core of true believers in the cause of progressivism who got behind Obama – as they get behind many other politicians from the Democrat Party, or other members of the left wing of the political landscape. In other words, there are people who actually believe this stuff. In fact, it’s silly to think that I think they don’t exist. So if you want to accuse me of claiming that all Obama supporters are either fools or knaves, I stand guilty as accused; I think it is utterly foolish to believe that the utopian nonsense of progressivism will produce anything but increased misery, impoverishment, dependence, enslavement, and social disorder, as it systematically funnels all the levers of social power into an ever-expanding, all-powerful state bureaucracy. But I categorically deny the charge that I think they are all knaves. There’s a difference.

Nonetheless, the point I was making, which referred to the crisis of political morality mentioned above, is that the Democrat Party, as the torch bearer for progressivism in America, has quite intentionally and systematically constructed an ever-growing constituency of self-interest, significantly augmenting that ideological core, through the enactment of policies that constantly increase dependence upon governmental “services” (e.g individual welfare subsidies; management of social crises) and “largesse” (e.g. institutional welfare; “friendly” tax code manipulation; grants and other funding), while simultaneously creating an ever-expanding constituency of direct dependents in the form of public sector employees whose livelihoods depend  on the secure growth of governmental reach into society.

Taking, as the most egregious example, public sector unions, the Democrat Party has assumed the role of sophisticated money launderer on behalf of the unions (or perhaps it would be even more accurate to say the unions act as money launderers for the Democrat Party), when, sitting as public officials and ersatz agents for the commonwealth, they allow the unions to fleece their neighbors through budget-breaking contract agreements (typically overloaded with sugardaddy-like risk removal) that quite transparently come attached with an implicit quid pro quo of solid political support for the Democrats, including the transference of public funds from tax revenues, through union salaries, to (mandatory) union dues, which finally make their way to political campaign contributions to the Democrat Party. The public sector unions are the largest political contributors in the U.S. (The NEA is consistently ranked #1), and virtually 100% of their “contributions” go to their sponsors: the Democrats. Every cent of that is tax dollars that are re-routed through the unions to the Democrats for campaigning against Republicans. Every cent. And this is legal.

But I digress. All of the government-dependent constituencies of the Democrat Party have similarly, if sometimes less radically, incestuous relationships in place with the party of the political class, cemented in place by the trading of tax revenue “allocations” for political support at the ballot box, an arrangement that seems to me to represent the very definition of political corruption. My complaint is that this arrangement promises to cannibalize the social contract that liberal society assumes as its foundation.

Furthermore, I have to say that I am simply not naïve enough to suppose that the vanguard of the political enterprise willing to use such means to achieve and consolidate power is necessarily to be found comprised of a full slate of idealistic but foolish true believers, who only want to see the flowering of the utopian future of “equality” and “justice” – and none who might better fit the description of knaves. The idealists may not be able to see it, but the truth of the matter is that when and if the leftist takeover is complete, the land will not be ruled by educated and sensitive idealists sipping wine in tweed jackets. Just saying…

In Case You Need to Know How to Vote on Tuesday…

Posted: Saturday, November 3, 2012 (9:51 pm), by John W Gillis


The coveted MaybeToday.org Election 2012 endorsements and voting guidelines are here at last. Readers will certainly want to use these statements to inform their own decision-making prior to the upcoming election. For example, any of my neighbors in Precinct 8 of lovely Natick Massachusetts could print out this post and take it with them to the Morse Room in the Morse Institute Library next Tuesday, for use as instructions on precisely how to cast one’s votes (I think that would be legal, but I have to admit I’m not sure – please check with the voting officials before pulling this out at the polls! It might be classifiable as campaign-related material, although I have no involvement with any campaign). Others may find it less directly applicable to them in places, but hopefully still plenty helpful. Don’t forget to share it with your friends – or enemies, I’m not picky – I’m bi-partisan!

For President of the United States: Republican Mitt Romney gets my vote, and my unhesitating endorsement. I admit to starting out this campaign season as a simple anti-Obama voter (sensibly enough, I would hope the reader would admit), but I have grown considerably in my opinion of, and confidence in, Mr. Romney, and I look forward to seeing him inaugurated in January, which I am quite confident will be the outcome of this election. I have been particularly impressed with the graciousness with which he has tolerated the slanderous campaign against him by the Democrats. He has been a model of the idealized leading citizen envisioned by America’s Founding Fathers. Go Mitt!

For U.S. Senator from Massachusetts: incumbent Republican Scott Brown gets my vote, as well as my reluctant endorsement. I’m not a big fan of Scott Brown, but as was also the case when he ran for this seat in the 2010 special election, he represents the only even remotely sane option on the ballot. Of course, this is often the case with Republicans running against Democrats, but challenger Elizabeth Warren truly represents the worst of the Democrat Party. She is a relentless “I’m on the side of the little guy” demagogue who, as a professor at Harvard Community College University, pockets a salary of over $300,000/year for teaching a single course, while calling for the government at all levels to increase tax-supported “funding” to schools in order to make education “more affordable” to the kind of people who do her laundry. At the risk of sounding “sexist” by mentioning her physical appearance, I must say that her startlingly high cheekbones remind me of a legendary American cultural hero I once saw on a $3 bill (I think it was Chief Wild Eagle), but that’s just not enough to convince me she has what it takes to execute an honest political office. Good grief.

For U.S. Representative from the Fifth Massachusetts Congressional District: Framingham Republican Tom Tierney gets my reluctant vote, over perpetual incumbent Ed Malarkey. I would vote against Ed Malarkey purely on account of his idiotic (hence, predictably successful) campaign to double-down on the screwball idea of Daylight Saving Time – a social engineering adjustment that cost businesses billions of dollars in wasteful compliance costs when it was implemented a few years ago, and continues to screw up the works for various information systems today. However, Ed has much more to answer for than that. Tierney, for his part, looks to be almost as bad a candidate as Malarkey. He’s the very definition of a RINO, who I have to assume registers as a Republican only for the chance to (repeatedly) get on the ballot and garner some anti-Malarkey votes. On the other hand, at least he’s had a real job. Nonetheless, he will be trounced once again by party-line voters who have no idea who he is, and that will be no great loss, except as an opportunity to put a genuine alternative to insipid progressivism on the ballot for this important seat.

For Governor’s Councilor, Second District: I will be abstaining, as this Council should simply be abolished.

For Massachusetts State Senator, Second Middlesex & Norfolk District: I will also be abstaining on this choice, as incumbent Democrat Karen Spilka is running unopposed for her fifth term in the Massachusetts Senate. As a rule of thumb, I do not vote for candidates running unopposed, unless I specifically want to encourage them. I have no such desire to encourage Ms. Spilka.

For Massachusetts State Representative for the 5th Middlesex House District: Republican challenger William Callahan of Natick gets my vote, although I’m not sure why, except that he’s not seven-term incumbent, Natick Democrat David Linksy. Linsky isn’t a bad guy, but he’s very much the insider, and he strikes me as too much of a typical liberal: the sort who seem incapable of understanding that there might be actual alternatives to threadworn liberal solutions, habitually dismissive of those who don’t “get it”, where “it” is nothing but the pious orthodoxies of post-modern liberalism. It’s time for David to return full-time to private law practice. As for Callahan, he told a local newspaper that he was running on a “transparency” message, but I’ve found it almost impossible to find out anything about him other than that he’s ex-military (National Guard – retired as a colonel). Whatever. If he’s willing to run and serve, he’s worth a shot.

For Middlesex County Sheriff: Ernesto Petrone gets the nod over Democrat Peter Koutoujian, for no other reason than that Petrone is unaffiliated with any political party, which means that we belong to the same non-party. Let’s face it: one less Democrat occupying a political office in Massachusetts is a step toward establishing a more truly democratic (small-d) political environment in the state.

For Middlesex County Clerk of Courts: Democrat Michael A. Sullivan is running unopposed, and the “No Voting for the Unopposed” rule is to be applied.

For Register of Deeds, Middlesex Southern District: Maria Curtatone is running as an unopposed Democrat, which almost disqualifies her from consideration on two counts right away. But she goes down swinging wildly on strike three, when the 48 year-old identifies herself in a biographical sketch provided to e-the-People as “the proud parent” of two children. This smacks very clearly of the fashionable, transgressive, “post-gender” pieties that are coursing through the atrophied veins of the Democrat party and other lodes of progressive group-think these days. Any woman who has neither the sense nor the decency to identify her relation to her children as “mother” should be kept out of public positions of influence, as far as I’m concerned.

On QUESTION 1 – Right to Repair: I am advocating a NO vote on this question, seeing as compromise legislation has been worked out and signed into law since this question went on the ballot – otherwise, I would have supported this effort. The compromise agreement should be honored.

On QUESTION 2 – Legalizing “Doctor Assisted Suicide”: NO. This is such bad law that it is hard to know where to start in criticizing it. The sick, the despairing, and the dying do not need to be told that it is time for them to put themselves out of our misery. The medical profession is already fatally compromised by its embrace of abortion, but this would further erode the premise of its existence. Suicide is a tragedy, and those who destroy themselves – and mark my words: suicide destroys the self, not the evil circumstances of pain, suffering, and whatnot – they have absolutely no idea of what the personal consequences of such a self-repudiation are. I imagine they suppose it “ends it all”, but that would require that the human being be purely material, having no spirit (i.e. intellect and will). That is a dubious assumption, to say the least, and you cannot make the spirit to be as if it never was, simply by killing the body. This is beyond foolishness; the worst sufferings are spiritual, and everybody with a shred of honesty and self-awareness knows it. Why is it that, just when the human race finally has the technology to effectively ameliorate so much of the pain and suffering that have long defined the descent into death for the ill, it has suddenly become fashionable and “compassionate” to promote self-obliteration on account of the fear of pain and suffering? I smell a rat.

On QUESTION 3 – Medical Use of Marijuana: NO. That this is nothing more than a Trojan Horse should be fairly evident to everyone eligible to vote on Tuesday, unless they’re stoned. The War on Drugs might be a disaster, but marijuana’s War on Intelligence is no suitable replacement.

“The family is at the center of Santorum’s economic vision”

Posted: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 (11:39 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Wednesday, January 4th, 2012:

James Pethokoukis writing earlier today at the American Enterprise Institute’s Enterprise Blog, in an article called: Santorum vs. Romney is a conflict of conservative visions:

I don’t think Santorum believes tax reform is unimportant. True, throughout his Iowa campaign, Santorum has, in the words of David Brooks, been “picking fights” with supply-siders. Yet Santorum wants to sharply cut tax rates on labor income, capital income, and corporate profits.

Nor does Santorum think cutting the size of government is unimportant. He says he would cut federal spending by $5 trillion within five years and implement Representative Paul Ryan’s entitlement reforms. That’s a pretty Tea Party-friendly agenda.

All necessary but not sufficient for Santorum. He isn’t satisfied with an economy that’s more efficient and competitive if it doesn’t result in stronger families. As it says on his campaign website: “Rick Santorum believes that to have a strong national economy, we must have strong families.” The family is at the center of Santorum’s economic vision. GDP growth is a means, not an end.

Pethokoukis is absolutely right about the difference between the two competing economic visions on the so-called right of our nation’s political divide (so-called because they share a revulsion for the politics and ideology of the left), and it is one major reason why I am supporting Rick Santorum.

Making common cause against leftism does not make either flank of the opposition “right wing”, nor does it make them jointly conservative. A conservative vision of society is not one rooted in the liberal idea of the dog-eat-dog free marketplace of autonomous individualism, but one rooted in love, duty, and prudence. The conservative idea of society is an organic unity, flowing out from intimate interpersonal union, and nourished by virtue and wisdom (i.e. tradition) at each step along the way: from marriage to children to family to community to culture. Some form of this idea has been the stabilizing force in all the world’s great cultures.

The Republican Party reflects a smorgasbord of actors and ideas conservative, liberal, and libertarian. That’s OK – there’s nothing wrong with coalition politics, though it’s a little dangerous to principle when too many people naively or stubbornly insist there is an alignment on values. There is not. There is also much that could be said concerning the affinity between libertarianism’s misappropriation of the term “conservative” and the relentless linguistic manipulation that notoriously characterizes leftist efforts at obfuscation and agitprop, but this is neither the time nor the place to pursue that…

Someone’s set of values will prevail in this election cycle, and in Santorum, Republicans and their enablers have an opportunity to propose an economic vision that rejects the “creative destruction” so central to libertarianism for a sober humanism, one which also rejects both the irresponsible fiscal libertinism of “moderate” modern-day liberalism, and the criminal imbecility of socialism and state-sponsored redistributionism.

Santorum is right: GDP growth is a means, not the end; the end is human flourishing in freedom.

It is hard to imagine zero-tolerance bullying prevention without schools becoming mini-bureaucratic-police states

Posted: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 (3:10 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Wednesday, September 14th, 2011:

Mary Rose Somarriba, writing yesterday at Public Discourse, on the recent anti-bullying legislation recently enacted in New Jersey (hewing closely to Obama administration policies), in an article called “A Bully-Free World?”:

Why, one might ask, would the president lead a conference on preventing something like bullying, which is ultimately impossible to prevent? It could be, perhaps, because bullying is something that everyone agrees is wrong, and it is something that everyone can relate to, because everyone has been bullied at some point.

But sadly, bullying is like any unfortunate human conflict and will exist as long as humans do. This does not mean it is okay to bully; it means it is problematic to imagine that we can create a world in which conflict doesn’t exist. It is hard to imagine zero-tolerance bullying prevention without schools becoming mini-bureaucratic-police states—the likes of which only belong in films like Minority Report or Adjustment Bureau—where kids could be criminally charged for hurting each other’s feelings, “different” kids could be targeted as “likely to be bullied,” and so on. But that is exactly what this boils down to: a child’s version of hate crimes.

In reality, laws like New Jersey’s risk worsening the problems of bullying. There is reason to believe that hotlines where kids can anonymously text-message tips to incriminate bullies are yet another technology that kids will abuse for the purposes of bullying. Further, bullying prevention is arguably the wrong goal altogether. It would be better to focus on conflict resolution than on conflict prevention. Devoting all effort to preventing the inevitable is not only wasteful policy; it is a failure to do what actually might lessen the damage of real-life conflicts.

One of my kids – probably the youngest one – mentioned something during dinner the other night about the latest anti-bullying campaign at her school, and I was too tired and cranky to resist letting out a snort. The kids were a little flabbergasted when I said I thought the current anti-bullying hysteria is moronic. Of course, they assumed that anyone who didn’t “like” anti-bullying must therefore “like” bullying – that’s the way these things are framed society-wide, the way immature minds tend to work naturally, and certainly fits the Facebook zeitgeist we and they inhabit. I pointed out the hypocrisy of adults shoving anti-bullying propaganda down the throats of helpless populations of schoolchildren, and made some references to the long stream of social do-goodism in the schools, of which anti-bullying is not merely the latest fashion, but an almost inevitable consequence of previous efforts by the same kinds of “progressive” people to coddle school children, eliminate discipline, abandon authority, and eradicate the stain of “judgmentalism”.

I don’t think I did a very good job of explaining myself, and fortunately, Somarriba does a pretty good job in this article of explaining at least why the anti-bullying agenda is impractical. But I really dislike the agenda for reasons she comes close to, but doesn’t address. She suggests that perhaps President Obama wants to get out in front of this because everybody agrees that bullying is wrong, and she’s dead right about that: it’s a convenient platform for cheesy moralism. You won’t lose any votes by thundering denunciations against bullies, after all. And that’s the real problem here: it’s symptomatic of a culture that feels the need to find something phony with which to fill a glaring void, a void where genuine morality deserves to be found, but cannot be allowed expression lest it upset the libertarian apple cart of mutually assured disregard of vice.

The tragedy is that they’re dead

Posted: Monday, June 27, 2011 (9:25 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for June 27th, 2011:

The New York Times’ Ross Douthat’s take on the Mara Hvistendahl book I posted on last Wednesday:

This places many Western liberals, Hvistendahl included, in a distinctly uncomfortable position. Their own premises insist that the unborn aren’t human beings yet, and that the right to an abortion is nearly absolute. A self-proclaimed agnostic about when life begins, Hvistendahl insists that she hasn’t written “a book about death and killing.” But this leaves her struggling to define a victim for the crime that she’s uncovered.

It’s society at large, she argues, citing evidence that gender-imbalanced countries tend to be violent and unstable. It’s the women in those countries, she adds, pointing out that skewed sex ratios are associated with increased prostitution and sex trafficking.

These are important points. But the sense of outrage that pervades her story seems to have been inspired by the missing girls themselves, not the consequences of their absence.

Here the anti-abortion side has it easier. We can say outright what’s implied on every page of “Unnatural Selection,” even if the author can’t quite bring herself around.

The tragedy of the world’s 160 million missing girls isn’t that they’re “missing.” The tragedy is that they’re dead.

My initial reaction upon hearing of this book was to be interested, but not interested enough to add it to my absurdly and hopelessly overgrown reading list, but the more I read about it, the more it appears that the author really did her homework, and that it might be worth a look.

Appropriately, Douthat seems concerned primarily with the complicity, unveiled by Hvistendahl, of self-righteous Western institutions in the propagation of the Orient’s “gendercide”, and I suspect that is not at all what the author had in mind, but the facts speak for themselves – eventually.

It seems also worth noting that the figure of 160 million “missing” (i.e. dead) girls is grossly understated as far as I can see, because it only refers to the delta from the imbalanced birth rate, not the total number killed, which would necessarily add a number approaching half the number of world-wide abortions, though one could argue that the others were killed for different reasons – as if that were important.

The lunatic fascist and socialist tyrants who were the dominant objects of public fear and loathing during the 20th century, it turns out, had nothing on the bureaucrats running The Rockefeller Foundation, Planned Parenthood, or the various liberal governments of the “civilized world” which oversaw the project of progress – not when it comes to the shedding of innocent blood for personal and political gain.

Government serves best when it protects and safeguards—rather than crowds out—the poverty-fighting institutions of civil society

Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2011 (10:00 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Thursday, May 5th, 2011:

Ryan Messmore, writing at the Heritage Foundation website, on the ruse that a social and political order disciplined by a commitment to limited government is to be equated with an antipathy for the poor:

The goal of overcoming poverty is not simply to eliminate need, but to enable people to thrive—that is, to empower them to live meaningful lives and contribute to society. Thriving is much more than a full stomach and a place to sleep. People tend to flourish in the context of healthy relationships with their families and communities. Suffering and breakdown often result when those relationships are absent or unhealthy.

Efforts to fight poverty are more effective if they tend to the full range of relationships necessary for thriving. Successful approaches not only heal brokenness where it exists, but also strengthen healthy relationships, which make poverty unlikely in the first place. Preventing a problem is often more effective in the long run than continually treating the symptoms.

Calls for increased welfare spending frequently miss the deeper problem: Poverty in America is often more the result of multiple broken relationships in peoples’ lives than the result of a lack of material resources. Financial trouble is often a symptom of a deeper breakdown. Whether a father abandoning his children, a broken marriage turning a spouse to drugs, or a teenage boy looking for acceptance in a gang, poverty and social breakdown often stem from people relating wrongly to someone or something. These broken lives resulting from broken relationships often lead to material hardship.

Effective responses to poverty address the relational dynamics that lead people to drug addiction, depression, fear, violence, and the inability to keep a job. Yet a large bureaucratic government is ill equipped to address precisely these dynamics and relationships.

Hope, trust, friendship, accountability, discipline, encouragement, and healthy personal relationships are key ingredients of human well-being. When they are missing or ruptured, the result may be poverty, delinquency, or social breakdown. Civil society institutions that foster face-to-face interaction best cultivate these ingredients of human flourishing. Poverty-reduction efforts should therefore strengthen those spheres of society in which healthy relationships grow.

When considering the role of government in alleviating poverty, public policy should acknowledge the relational nature of poverty as well as the vital contributions from local, personal institutions. Government is an important piece of a larger framework that benefits people in need, but government serves best when it protects and safeguards—rather than crowds out—the poverty-fighting institutions of civil society.

This essay demonstrates some clear thinking on a perennially important topic, but like most “conservative” views promoting what used to be called the liberal order of public life, it reads much too much like a report, and not enough like a manifesto. Still, it’s a fairly solid presentation of an idea that is going to have to be nurtured into an effective story, if America is going to avoid the slide into moral anarchy that is pounding on the doors of those European societies awash now in entitlementism coupled with fiscal insolvency. How on earth, after all, does a society deal with a constantly growing underclass of perpetually unemployed or underemployed state-dependent subjects, who expect (and have been promised) a never-ending stream of bread & circus? The domination of society by the bureaucratic state is such a profoundly stupid idea that it is difficult to even find untrammeled ground upon which to stand to criticize it

Via First Thoughts

– Update: with some discussion here, demonstrating yet again just how pervasive assumptions regarding the “normalcy” of state-dependency have quietly become.

The western world is an end state: the comfy couch at the end of history

Posted: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 (10:03 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Wednesday, January 19th, 2011:

Walter Russell Mead, writing at The American Interest on the on-going decline – and largely unconsidered future – of the structures underpinning modern life in the West:

The word ‘developed’ contains an important assumption: that a historical process known as development (closely related to modernization — another problematic word) not only exists throughout the world, it culminates in a known end which has already been reached.  This word implies that countries like France, Canada and our own happy United States of America have reached the end of history, the summit of human achievement, stable and enduring arrangements in political economy that are unlikely to change much going forward.

Nothing could be stupider or less historically defensible than this belief, yet few assumptions are more widespread among the world’s intelligentsia, planners and, especially, bureaucrats.  Technological change has never been moving faster or with greater force than it is today as the implications of one revolution in IT after another work themselves out; the foundations of the global economic and political order are being shaken by the dramatic rise of new powers. Yet somehow many of us believe that the  western world is an end state: the comfy couch at the end of history rather than the launching pad for another great, disruptive leap into the unknown.

This is a smart essay from Mead that points out just how backward-looking the whole current debate over political economy is in America – and elsewhere. So-called conservatives are, of course, routinely accused of backwards, illiberal thinking (even though, at least in America, those known as politically conservative are almost uniformly advocating classically liberal policy). But even the left, with their pretentions of “progressing,” are not trying to move toward anything new, but are only doubling-down on a project that is already exhausted, even when viewed in the most favorable light.

Mead sees the best path forward in a new incarnation of liberalism. I suppose he’s right, at least at the white-board level, but the devil, as they say, is in the details. I think his view that the current state of liberalism is a continuing bulwark against socialism defies the growing evidence of the mainstreaming of a leftist politics of resentment, and the continued hostility to religion in public life emanating from the liberal institutions of influence (media, academia). Not to mention the ever-creeping scope of government. Maybe I’m misreading him. Then again, maybe he should similarly look at the evolution of socialism. Nonetheless, he’s a good read.