Saturday, February 20, 2010
WEST POINT, NY - MAY 23: Cadets in the graduating class of the United States Military Academy at West Point participate in commencement exercises on May 23, 2009 in West Point, New York. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave the commencement speech to the 970 graduates at the elite military academy. (Getty/Daylife)
Mr. Robert Hickson has an article in the March issue of Chronicles about West Point and the loss of traditions and decline of standards at the military academy and in the US Army at large: "Don Quixote at West Point."
When I contracted some of my trusted classmates from West Point and told them the entire story, I was told that the problem extends beyond the West Point Military Police. When cadets themselves are 'off duty,' it is often difficult to say who is a cadet and who is a vagrant or suspect gangster. Moreover, a dignified woman in the West Point Post Exchange had told me that the dress and conduct of the constable was representative. Cadets and other members of the military increasingly dress and act in this manner. 'This is not, by far, the way it used to be,' she said. 'But people don't seem to care anymore.' There is a pervading indifference, as if to say: 'I don't care, and you don't matter.'
My classmates informed me that the ethos at the academy is now so changed that a recent superintendent invited a very young, potential financial donor to stay overnight at his prestigious military quarters, while a decorated veteran general from World War II was put up at a nearby hotel. One of my other good classmates--not at all a curmudgeon, much less a pessimist or a fatalist--said, 'Robert, the Corps has, and the Army has'--cadet slang for 'the standards of the Corps and the Corps of Cadets itself have gone to hell, and the Army has, too.' I had not expected to hear these words from such a senior and distinguished man.
In any case, we shall not recover the flower of chivalry, much less its fuller fruits, unless we rediscover and are nourished by its roots, including its deeper religious roots. But as James Burnham writes, 'To be defeated after losing well does not always lose so much as not to have fought.' Don Quixote would agree. (And, along with his courage amid the surrounding mockery and cynicism, he further displayed 'the wisdom fo his naivete,' especially by his prompt and sustaining desire for 'chivalrous magnanimity' and for 'a new order of voluntary nobility.') As Chesterton once said, only a live thing can swim against the stream. Let us not be a drifter, nor a slothful tramp. As my Catholic Special Forces team sergeant once said to me: 'Sir, let us flame out, not rust out!'
Do the cadets still have an idea of what it means to be an officer and a gentleman? How can the admission of women to the academy not erode traditional ideals of what it is to be a gentleman?
WEST POINT, NY - MAY 23: Cadets in the graduating class of the United States Military Academy at West Point participate in commencement exercises on May 23, 2009 in West Point, New York. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave the commencement speech to the 970 graduates at the elite military academy. (Getty/Daylife)
Has the US Army relaxed of standards with regards to behavior and dress in the name of freedom and psychological comfort. Whatever the justification, if its high standards regarding appearance and demeanor are no longer enforced, and it draws its members from society at large, which is in decline, what should we expect except for soldiers and officers who behave no differently from their civilian counterparts when they are off duty?
The inevitable march to radical egalitarianism and the destruction of tradition -- it seems fitting that the Union Army, instrument for the eradication of traditional culture in the South, has fallen to the same disease that it has helped spread in the past. This is not to say that certain members, like the author of this piece, have not been heroic or virtuous, for whom I have much admiration and respect. But I am talking about the institution itself. After all, it serves the National Government.
*Slavery was just one aspect of the traditional culture of the South, and not a necessary part of it. If the South had ended slavery peacefully, we would have seen that this is the case, both in the result and in the originating impulse, which would have come from within the South. Instead the war and the occupation arguably created more animosity and resistance to change. Let us also remember that racism and racial discrimination was also present in the North.
The book is advertised in Chronicles, so I took a look at the publisher's page. What's his relationship with his bishop like?
From VDARE: Father Pat Bascio: A Rare (?) Immigration Enforcement Voice In The Catholic Clergy
Who would say that illegal immigration isn't wrong? But the bigger question is of land, and whether it is a common good and if nation-states can make a claim to so much of it, putting up an obstacle to the (supposed) right to travel/migrate. Yet, how many immigrants would be willing to move in order to start from scratch, though, as a farmer, as opposed to being a wage slave in an industrialized economy? (Is that a significant enough consideration when it comes to defining the right to migration?)
Once the United States started on the path of imperialism (and even before), when has its elites not been enamored with using the military for their imperial ventures? Given the successes of the Germany military, it's not surprising that the Americans would try to learn from them. The Germans are convenient scapegoat; whom did the American army emulate after World War I? Iirc, it was the French. Those with imperial ambitions or who seek to become a world power will want their military to be modelled after the best, not the worst.
A problem-solving leadership exercise, Project X consisted of several scenarios and associated tasks. Working in small groups, you were expected to solve these while working against the clock. What made the project exciting and more than busy-work, like the endless marching or shining of shoes or waxing of floors, was that it was based on German methods of developing and instilling small-unit leadership, teamwork, and adaptability. If it worked for the Germans, the “finest soldiers in the world” during World War II, it was good enough for us, or so most of us concluded (including me).
Project X was just one rather routine manifestation of the American military’s fascination with German methods and the German military mystique. As I began teaching military history to cadets at the Air Force Academy in 1990, I quickly became familiar with a flourishing “Cult of Clausewitz.” So ubiquitous was Carl von Clausewitz and his book On War that it seemed as if we Americans had never produced our own military theorists. I grew familiar with the way Auftragstaktik (the idea of maximizing flexibility and initiative at the lowest tactical levels) was regularly extolled. So prevalent did Clausewitz and Auftragstaktik become that, in the 1980s and 1990s, American military thinking seemed reducible to the idea that “war is a continuation of politics” and a belief that victory went to the side that empowered its “strategic corporals.”
3GW may have become popular in the "right" circles, but was it really ever adopted? (I think the Marines were more successful than the Army, according to William Lind.)
The American military’s fascination with German military methods and modes of thinking raises many questions. In retrospect, what disturbs me most is that the military swallowed the Clausewitzian/German notion of war as a dialectical or creative art, one in which well-trained and highly-motivated leaders can impose their will on events.
In this notional construct, war became not destructive, but constructive. It became not the last resort of kings, but the preferred recourse of “creative” warlords who demonstrated their mastery of it by cultivating such qualities as flexibility, adaptability, and quickness. One aimed to get inside the enemy’s “decision cycle,” the so-called OODA loop -- the Air Force’s version of Auftragstaktik -- while at the same time cultivating a “warrior ethos” within a tight-knit professional army that was to stand above, and also separate from, ordinary citizens.
Is Clausewitz really the model for 3GW? Here he sounds more like a 2GW thinker.
This idolization of the German military was a telling manifestation of a growing militarism within an American society which remained remarkably oblivious to the slow strangulation of its citizen-soldier ideal. At the same time, the American military began to glorify a new generation of warrior-leaders by a selective reading of its past. Old “Blood and Guts” himself, the warrior-leader George S. Patton -- the commander as artist-creator-genius -- was celebrated; Omar N. Bradley -- the bespectacled GI general and reluctant soldier-citizen -- was neglected. Not coincidentally, a new vision of the battlefield emerged in which the U.S. military aimed, without the slightest sense of irony, for “total situational awareness” and “full spectrum dominance,” goals that, if attained, promised commanders the almost god-like ability to master the “storm of steel,” to calm the waves, to command the air.
It seems to me that part of Patton's popularity was that he was one of the few who mastered 3GW and used it. But within military culture he may have been idolized for different reasons. Total situational awareness and full spectrum dominance though are relics of 2GW thinking, so how is this really linked to the German way of war?
In the process, any sense of war as thoroughly unpredictable and enormously wasteful was lost. In this infatuation with German military prowess, which the political scientist John Mearsheimer memorably described as “Wehrmacht penis envy,” we celebrated our ability to Blitzkrieg our enemies -- which promised rapid, decisive victories that would be largely bloodless (at least for us). In 1991, a decisively quick victory in the Desert Storm campaign of the first Gulf War was the proof, or so it seemed then, that a successful “revolution in military affairs,” or RMA in military parlance, was underway.
Forgotten, however, was this: the German Blitzkrieg of World War II ended with Germany’s “third empire” thoroughly thrashed by opponents who continued to fight even when the odds seemed longest.
What a remarkable, not to say bizarre, turnabout! The army and country the U.S. had soundly beaten in two world wars (with a lot of help from allies, including, of course, those godless communists of the Soviet Union in the second one) had become a beacon for the U.S. military after Vietnam. To use a sports analogy, it was as if a Major League Baseball franchise, in seeking to win the World Series, decided to model itself not on the New York Yankees but rather on the Chicago Cubs.
3GW is a means, not an end in itself, and I think at the very least the more astute of the German military commanders realized this, even if the Nazi leadership did not. Should we attribute the mistakes made by Hitler to the German military? (As it is, many claim the German military should have resisted Hitler.) We should distinguish the learning of 3GW from thinking that war is the primary means of solving political conflict.
Precisely because that disaster did not befall us, precisely because we emerged triumphant from two world wars, we became both too enamored with the decisiveness of war, and too dismissive of our own unique strength. For our strength was not military élan or cutting-edge weaponry or tactical finesse (these were German “strengths”), but rather the dedication, the generosity, even the occasional ineptitude, of our citizen-soldiers. Their spirit was unbreakable precisely because they -- a truly democratic citizen army -- were dedicated to defeating a repellently evil empire that reveled fanatically in its own combat vigor.
This smells like American exceptionalism and may be giving too much (or little) credit to American military leadership, depending on what one thinks of the Soviets and their role and bringing down the German war machine. I don't think the average German soldier was any less dedicated than the average American soldier. Comparing the average American citizen with the average German citizen with respect to virtues other than those needed for a warrior doesn't make sense to me, since the constitutional order had already been subverted by World War II, and the political power of an average American citizen was rather limited even then. Even the Germans could vote for their leaders under the Weimar Republic. Was the patriotism of a German soldier any less than that of an American? We seem to be repeating WW2 propaganda caricatures.
The author seems to overstretch in order to make his point, and does not appear to have adequate familiarity with 3GW, beyond certain principles. The historical illustrations do not match up. The snarky response is that the author is USAF -- what does he know about ground warfare? But maybe he knows more than this article seems to indicate. Still, the rest of the article serves as a warning to Americans about embracing militarism. Those who think 3GW will give them certain victory in the pursuit of imperial goals should be chastized. 3GW is just a tool; whether one should go to war in the first place is a question that needs to be answered based on justice and wisdom, not on the belief that victory can be achieved. (And in a 4GW world, 3GW may win a conflict against a nominal nation-state, but it will not help in occupation and nation-building, nor is it an adequate response to the use of 4GW by non-state actors after the defeat of the country.)
What would happen if the misandrist teachers and principals of today got their hands on Calvin? Calvin on ritalin?
Calvin and Hobbes Comic Strip on GoComics.com
Friday, February 19, 2010
This week I watched the first two episodes of the God of Study (공부의 신) on KBS America. While I may sympathize with students who have to endure the school system in E. Asia, especially secondary school, I have to say that the solution offered to them, to use the system in order to overthrow it, repels me. The alumnus who has become a lawyer tells the students that if they want to change the system and get rid of society's preferential treatment for those who go to the "right" schools and the power these fortunate few exercise over everyone else, they must first succeed academically and gain positions of influence and power. This may appeal to high school students who are currently suffering, but do the drama or the original manga look critically at the education system itself? Is this the sort of education that East Asians need, if industrialization is not the future? And what of a more liberal education?
John Gatto writes:
[I]ndustrial and institutional interest had seeded Russia, China, Japan, and the Pacific Islands with the doctrine of psychological schooling long ago, nearly at the beginning of the century, and in Japan’s case even before that.
We should probably add Korea to that list.
Because of the real crises that afflict education both here and in East Asia, I can't really enjoy the show, even if it tries to be inspiring. Would popular outrage in South Korea be sufficient for the education system to be reformed? What would it take to dethrone the education experts there? And would the corporations, forces of industrialization, and sadly, adherents to traditional Korean culture be fighting to preserve the status quo?
(How many Catholic secondary schools are there in South Korea? Do the successors of the Confucian scholars reject the current education system?)
Links for 공부의 신:
I am enjoying Slave Hunters though. (Also on KBS.)
Next Sunday on Masterpiece Theater: The 39 Steps.
I will probably watch this adaptation of the novel because of Rupert Penry-Jones, but the other main character is a "feisty suffragette," Victoria Sinclair, played by Lydia Leonard. I haven't read the novel or watched the Hitchcock adaptation, so I don't know what sort of view is taken regarding the movement, if any.
BBC bungles showpiece drama remake The 39 Steps with a host of howlers... like the biplane with a machine gun ‘ahead of its time’
Apparently the character of Sinclair was invented for this adaptation. Something to make the story more palatable to the PC crowd?
The legend of Perseus involves the hero, born of Zeus and a mortal woman, setting out on a quest to kill the snake-headed Gorgon Medusa (not played by Uma Thurman in the film, sorry Percy Jackson fans) and save the princess Andromeda from a sea monster -- known as the Kraken in the movie versions of the tale. The new film's story does deviate from the original's in many ways, though.
"In the original, Perseus is part man, part god, as you know," says Worthington. "And he accepts the gods' side pretty easily in the first one and accepts all the gifts the gods give him. And to me that wasn't a very good message to give to my nine-year-old nephew, or any kid, I think -- is that you have to be a god to achieve something. So one of the things I talked to Louis about was that … he wants to be a man and do this as a man. And do it with other men. Because I think that's a good message that anything is possible if you're banded together as men. So that's where it differs a lot. He's rejecting the gods a hell of a lot. And then the second thing is that [in] Greek mythology destiny is set for you, something I thought that was another crap message to give to my nephew. Because to say to him you're already going to be destined to do this, this and this, I believe you can make your own fate. So we kind of played against that. My Perseus is really a boisterous, belligerent kind of teenager. You tell him he can't do something, he'll run headlong into doing it. And that gets him into a lot of trouble. He's not the golden boy, he's the teenager who has to learn to grow up."
Did Greek myths foster this sort of impiety? Not that I recall.
I think if I were living in Texas I'd be supporting her campaign. She seems to have Ron Paul's support, if not an official endorsement. How much will Glenn Beck's hit piece affect Texas voters? I think he's lost any respect he might have gained from paleos. Reactions of Republicans against her tell us what it means to be a "conservative" -- full acceptance of the National Government, the centralized nation-state, and slavish adoption of the official explanation coming out of D.C concerning 9/11. Her patriotism is called into question for her skepticism concerning the 9/11 report and she is called a traitor for talking about secession. If Texans are among those calling her a traitor, they've been brainwashed or they've moved in from elsewhere. Do they say the same thing about Ron Paul?
Sean Scallon, Some conspiracy theories are more equal than others
People are no longer told it is their fault, their actions that cause the effects. Their flaws and failings, their weakness and absurdity, even their criminality, can be excused and explained. The liberal-left and its psycho-twaddle franchise hold out the apparent answer. Everything is a condition or disorder, an illness or syndrome, an addiction or compulsion; everything can be blamed on someone or something else, on the system or situation, on society, on discrimination, on your vulnerabilities, on your not being breast-fed, on your mother preferring your sister, on your being undervalued and a third sibling or having attention-deficit or low self-esteem. Hell, it might even be ME. Blah, blah, blah. Grow a spine.
Our sense of wellbeing and our very souls—our capacity to accept reality and see the truth—are corrupted by this bullshit. Individual responsibility is abrogated and elsewhere, proportion and perspective are dropped.
[A]Mexican paper is indicating that the Pope has moved to refound the Legion of Christ, taking away the highest level of its hierarchy and placing all the schools under his immediate supervision. Obviously this is terribly unsubstantiated but I wanted to put a thread in place that will be corrected and updated when the information becomes available.
Giselle's reaction: "This would be very good, if true. (I used to think suppression was best, but Pete Vere showed me why that is actually not a good step.)"
For Pete Vere's explanation, see this and this.
Who would (or is qualified to) rewrite the constitution(s) and reform their seminaries?
Edit. Gisell updates with a translation of the Reforma piece. In the combox, someone asks how Miles Jesu is doing these days. (From Clerical Whispers in 2009: The Truth About Miles Jesu.)
(Plus A Country of Serfs Ruled By Oligarchs and Grounds For Hope and Despair)
As in regard to the virtues some men are called good in respect of a state of character, others in respect of an activity, so too in the case of friendship; for those who live together delight in each other and confer benefits on each other, but those who are asleep or locally separated are not performing, but are disposed to perform, the activities of friendship; distance does not break off the friendship absolutely, but only the activity of it. But if the absence is lasting, it seems actually to make men forget their friendship; hence the saying 'out of sight, out of mind'. Neither old people nor sour people seem to make friends easily; for there is little that is pleasant in them, and no one can spend his days with one whose company is painful, or not pleasant, since nature seems above all to avoid the painful and to aim at the pleasant. Those, however, who approve of each other but do not live together seem to be well-disposed rather than actual friends. For there is nothing so characteristic of friends as living together (since while it people who are in need that desire benefits, even those who are supremely happy desire to spend their days together; for solitude suits such people least of all); but people cannot live together if they are not pleasant and do not enjoy the same things, as friends who are companions seem to do.
The truest friendship, then, is that of the good, as we have frequently said; for that which is without qualification good or pleasant seems to be lovable and desirable, and for each person that which is good or pleasant to him; and the good man is lovable and desirable to the good man for both these reasons. Now it looks as if love were a feeling, friendship a state of character; for love may be felt just as much towards lifeless things, but mutual love involves choice and choice springs from a state of character; and men wish well to those whom they love, for their sake, not as a result of feeling but as a result of a state of character. And in loving a friend men love what is good for themselves; for the good man in becoming a friend becomes a good to his friend. Each, then, both loves what is good for himself, and makes an equal return in goodwill and in pleasantness; for friendship is said to be equality, and both of these are found most in the friendship of the good.
Between sour and elderly people friendship arises less readily, inasmuch as they are less good-tempered and enjoy companionship less; for these are thou to be the greatest marks of friendship productive of it. This is why, while men become friends quickly, old men do not; it is because men do not become friends with those in whom they do not delight; and similarly sour people do not quickly make friends either. But such men may bear goodwill to each other; for they wish one another well and aid one another in need; but they are hardly friends because they do not spend their days together nor delight in each other, and these are thought the greatest marks of friendship.
One cannot be a friend to many people in the sense of having friendship of the perfect type with them, just as one cannot be in love with many people at once (for love is a sort of excess of feeling, and it is the nature of such only to be felt towards one person); and it is not easy for many people at the same time to please the same person very greatly, or perhaps even to be good in his eyes. One must, too, acquire some experience of the other person and become familiar with him, and that is very hard. But with a view to utility or pleasure it is possible that many people should please one; for many people are useful or pleasant, and these services take little time.
See also Cicero's De Amicitia.
Fred Thompson endorses John McCain
Yeah, Fred Thompson the great conservative hope of the Republican Party? What a joke.
Well, yes, my views are rooted in pessimism. After all, I am a pessimist. I’m all the more pessimistic because I see that there are figures such as Ron Paul and his son Rand, Paul Ryan and perhaps a few others, including our former governor Gary Johnson, who do offer the right sort of leadership, and I can also see that none of them can get a serious hearing from their own side.
What’s more, I see why these figures can’t get a serious hearing, and it certainly isn’t because they aren’t serious people. There is no large constituency on the right for the kind of deep and radical reforms they advocate. Whatever skepticism of the national security and warfare state there is, it is limited to a relative handful of libertarians and a few traditional conservatives, and even if there is theoretically more support for Paul Ryan’s proposals for domestic programs there is no political will to push for them.
Paul Ryan’s budget is a creditable effort to balance the budget and eliminate the long-term liabilities from entitlements. If the leadership had any convictions or spine, they would champion this is as the unpalatable but necessary reform that it is. That would mean embarking on a long uphill struggle against trends of public opinion, demographic changes and a national culture of entitlement, and it would probably be politically very dangerous for them to do this in the short to medium term. They couldn’t just sit back and wait to win back a couple dozen seats by default. They would have to risk what they have to do what is in the country’s best interest.
Of course, they remember how easily they were beaten back in ‘95-’96 when they proposed to do something with Medicare far less significant than what Ryan proposes, and they dare not go near it again. This is why we see their silly pose of being the saviors of Medicare in the health care debate. As their core constituents age and retire, the GOP is going to become the greatest obstacle to entitlement reform.
Paul Ryan for U.S. Congress
Congressman Paul Ryan's Republican Healthcare Alternative
Republican poster boy Paul Ryan - Isthmus
The GOP's Alternative Budget - WSJ.com
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Later another patron came up to me and asked if I went to Pittsburgh High School. He graduated the same year I did. How many doppelgangers do I have? I assume he is living in the area now, and he was with his gf/wife.
There was a group of young Indian adults at a nearby table -- they were in their 20s. Do they work in the area? Or do they actually live in Cupertino? While Indian families were somewhat common ten years ago, Indian twenty-somethings were not.
Episode-380- Rifles, Shotguns and Handguns for Modern Survival (mp3)
The Nature of Love, by Dietrich von Hildebrand.
The scale of contemporary life is so vast that it is hard to fathom. For most of us, completing even the most homebound tasks – using the bathroom, eating a meal – involves us massive networks of pipe and road, transportation and production, people and powers. For most of us, going to work means traveling a fair amount of horizontal distance – and then logging on to connect ourselves to even more far-flung places, to cover an even greater span of space. Ours is an era in which the grand forces are all centrifugal, as William Leach has written, and in which the injunction is to “extend your reach.” We are told to minimize the time we spend doing things – to seek efficiency – in order to extend ourselves further. Services like Facebook are inevitable in this context, since they both allow and encourage the extension of our reach across great, seemingly limitless distances.
By contrast, the scale of friendship is necessarily limited. Friendship is a bounded relationship, one that thrives on intimacy and depth rather than extension and breadth. Friendship thrives, as C.S. Lewis wrote, by withdrawing people from networks of collective “togetherness” into smaller and more partial spheres. Even if, as Lewis says, friendship is the least jealous of loves, it is always to some degree exclusive. Friendship flourishes when given lots of time and little distraction: conditions which you cannot extend to more than a very few people. In the end, the scale of friendship is limited because each of our lives is limited. Our time is limited, and friendship requires time. (It is telling how silly the dominant values expressed in our language sound when they are applied to friendship; no one has ever complemented someone else by calling her an “efficient” friend.)
Put in starker terms, we might say that Facebook friendship is part and parcel of a culture that values a way of living that – while on certain terms quite interesting and rewarding – is inhospitable to the cultivation of real friendship.
Last week’s Archdruid Report post fielded a thoughtful response from peak oil blogger Sharon Astyk, who pointed out that what I was describing as America’s descent to Third World status could as well be called a future of “ordinary human poverty.” She’s quite right, of course. There’s nothing all that remarkable about the future ahead of us; it’s simply that the unparalleled abundance that our civilization bought by burning through half a billion years of stored sunlight in three short centuries has left most people in the industrial world clueless about the basic realities of human life in more ordinary times.
It’s this cluelessness that underlies so many enthusiastic discussions of a green future full of high technology and relative material abundance. Those discussions also rely on one of the dogmas of the modern religion of progress, the article of faith that the accumulation of technical knowledge was what gave the industrial world its three centuries of unparalleled wealth; since technical knowledge is still accumulating, the belief goes, we may expect more of the same in the future. Now in fact the primary factor that drove the rise of industrial civilization, and made possible the lavish lifestyles of the recent past, was the recklessness with which the earth’s fossil fuel reserves have been extracted and burnt over the last few centuries. The explosion of technical knowledge was a consequence of that, not a cause.
Edit. A link provided in the combox for this post:
CONSTRUCTIVE PROGRAMME: Its Meaning and Place, by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
What would canon lawyers like Ed Peters make of this?
I suspect that there are some Orthodox who would agree with Mr. McCall's critique and what it says about the Roman understanding of the papacy.
Unlike modern liberal conceptions of law dominated by floods of detailed legislative and administrative texts, the Traditional understanding of law is much richer. Gatian, the 12th century father of Canon Law, began his great textbook on Canon Law by defining law with the following general summary: “The human race is ruled by two things, namely, Natural Law and long-standing custom.” Law is comprised of two pillars, the precepts established by God which can be known by the use of right reason (Natural Law) and time honored customary norms. Notice what is missing from this definition: statue, ordinances—the very life blood of modern Liberal legal code-based systems.
The omission is not due to Gratian’s ignorance of such legal forms of rules. Just a few pages later he lists statutes and ordinances within a more detailed list of specific types of laws or leges. Yet, these ordinances are circumscribed and thus limited by the two opening categories of law, Natural Law and custom. The Traditional understanding of the role of statutes was that they merely confirmed in writing what was already known either by the use of right reason or the observance of long standing customs. Legislators did not see themselves as making laws de novo but rather of discovering, clarifying and recording with precision the contents of laws which pre-existed in the Natural Law or long standing custom. The traditional role of a legislator was jus dicere or “to speak the law.” Such a phrase implies the role is one of making known—or speaking—the law rather than creating it.
Isidore explains in a passage quoted by Gratian: “It does not matter whether it [custom] is confirmed by writing [i.e., a statute] or by reason [i.e., Natural Law], since reason also supports ordinance. Furthermore if ordinance is determined by reason, then ordinance will be all that reason has already confirmed.” Statutes are a part of a system founded on Natural Law and customary norms. Its legitimacy is dependent upon them. Gratian comments after this passage that “in part, custom has been collected in writing and, in part, it has been preserved only in the usages of its followers. What is put in writing is called enactment or law, while what is not collected in writing is called by the general term custom.”
When the ancient Romans produced their first written laws in the mid fifth century B.C., the Law of the Twelve Tables, these statutes were not seen as newly created laws but merely a written record of the ancient Roman customs that had been in use for years. It was written down so that it could be better known and so as to reduce disputes about its contents. This characteristic was common to all the great written legal products up to the nineteenth century.
The concept of a newly devised Code purporting to embody all of the law of a society being promulgated and imposed upon a society was unprecedented before the Enlightenment. Although sometimes called “codes,” the Traditional projects are more accurately described as compilations. Thus, the great Corpus Juris Civilis of the Emperor Justinian in the sixth Century A.D. was not a new Code of law (in the sense of the 1917 Code) written by politicians and bureaucrats and imposed on the Christian Empire. It was a collection of the Imperial and Senatorial enactments and the opinions and interpretations of well known Roman jurists compiled by scholars from the mass of these documents and collated into a single set of books. The law books promulgated by Justinian did not “change” the law but merely presented the laws in an organized way – a record of the pre-existing longstanding and organically developed legal system.
Gratian did the same thing for the law of the Church. His Decretum is a collection of constitutions of Ecumenical and local Councils and Synods, juridical decisions of Popes, commentaries by Father’s of the Church and writings of philosophers and theologians—all arranged topically and interspersed with introductions, interpretations and commentaries by Gratian. This monumental compilation, together with various supplements containing subsequent additional decisions and constitutions, was studied by jurists and used by canon lawyers as the living corpus of all of Ecclesiastical Law from the 12th century until 1917.
Although I have provided only a limited description of the Civil Law of Justinian and the Canon Law of Gratian, we should be able to see that it is a much more flexible, living, organic, nuanced and varied form of legal system than a modern Code. Gratian and the scholars working for Justinian did not create the law out of thin air based on pure disembodied reason. They respected law as a living system developing through the application of right reason and customary norms to new situations and circumstances and through the slow, almost imperceptible, growth and development of customs. They approached law with a humility unknown to modern Code drafters. Law was a treasure preserved yet perfected slightly by each generation. Since law involved the working out in detail of such complex penumbras as equity, goodness, rightness and justice, no single person, or even group of persons, in a particular place and time should dare claim to compose the entire corpus of law. To do so would seem the height of hubris to the classical and Traditional minded jurists for over two millennia.
Is Mr. McCall opposing the Code of Canon Law with a Anglo-American Common Law mentality?
One way to see the stark difference in approach between Traditional legal systems and modern ones (such as the Code of Canon Law) is to look at the relationship between authority and time. In the modern liberal system, authority is linked to novelty. The newer the law, the more authority it carries. Thus, the 1983 Code of Canon Law has greater authority over provisions in the 1917 Code because it has been enacted more recently.
The Traditional understanding of law was just the opposite. The older a particular law or legal norm could be demonstrated to be, the greater authority attributed to it. Customs which existed “since the memory of man runneth not to the contrary” were seen as much more reliable, and thus authoritative, than newer and novel norms. Opinions of ancient thinkers, jurists, philosophers, popes and saints that had stood the test of time were more authoritative than something dreamed up yesterday. Again the ancient attitude is filled with humility and acceptance of human failing.
A newer law carries "more authority" because it may replace or modifies the older law. Does Mr. McCall deny that the Pope (or any other ruler) has the authority to issue new and different legislation?
Authorities such as the Pope or a secular ruler have plenary authority to make statutes (particular laws) to clarify, sanction and make more particular the principles of Natural Law and Custom. Yet, even if his will makes these laws, a ruler’s will must flow from these two fonts of law. A prince who legislates outside of this legal hierarchy becomes a tyrant. Customs can be overturned by statute but such an extraordinary act is reserved for the suppression of bad customs, those contrary to the Natural or Divine Law. Rulers and authorities are thus the guardians of a slowly and organically developing human law which has its origin in Natural Law and historical Customs.
Mr. McCall then discusses the centralization of secular authority and the development in how it was understood and applied, culminating in the changes introduced by the rationalists and the French Revolution.
Yet, the Church who had been the model for virtuous jurisprudence for a millennia did an about-face as the twentieth century dawned. Rather than the secular realm imitating the jurisprudence of the Church, the Church decided to imitate, or accommodate herself, to the secular world. If Codes were the new thing, the Church needed to get with the times.
Cardinal Gaspari was appointed head of a committee that was to study the history of the corpus juris canonici with the purpose of composing a codex juris canonici, a Code of Canon Law. Written by committee it was imposed on the Church by the will of the prince, Pope Benedict XV. With this single act the enormous, intricate tree of ecclesiastical jurisprudence that had been growing up over centuries, with Gratian at its roots, was cut down and replaced by a product of a single committee of a particular time and place.
In fairness, the provisions of the Code of 1917 were fairly conservative and compromises were added that paid a nod to the validity of custom which to the extent not inconsistent with the Code was allowed to remain in force. Still the revolutionary axe had been laid to the root. Custom, tradition, Natural Law were replaced by the work of a committee and imposed by the will of the Sovereign Pontiff.
The utter futility of the project was evident, as with all Codes, to those with eyes to see. Law is meant to be a living organism, developing, growing and being pruned over time in light of new climates and conditions. As with all the European secular Codes, this rationalist work that was meant once and for all to definitively fix all the laws of the Church was revised and supplanted by yet a new definitive Code—the Code of Canon Law of 1983. As could have easily been predicted, this later creation incorporated more liberal ideology and language than its ill-begotten parent.
Critics of a certain notion of papal authority may draw a connection between the issuing of the Code of Canon Law with Vatican I. Mr. McCall himself compares the writing and promulgation of the two Codes of Canon Law with the creation and imposition of the new Roman missal.
To achieve both revolutions, a new understanding of authority needed to be promoted. It is one in which the Pope is unconstrained by Custom and eternal principles. He is the master of the Church, the sovereign prince, and can impose a new Code of Law or a New Ordo of Mass at will. Even Pope Paul VI exhibited discomfort with this novel autocratic accretion to the office of the Vicar of Christ on Earth. He could not bring himself to clearly supplant the ancient customary Liturgy of the Church with the fabricated new one.
Now what did the 1917 Code of Canon Law do to reverse or abrogate custom? And how were such changes negative? Did they damage the Church's authority and credibility? (How many people besides clerics and canon lawyers were familiar with the changes?) Do both codes sufficiently allow for the continuation of local law and custom to mitigate his criticisms?
1917 Code of Canon Law
One of my points — a pretty obvious one, or so I thought, for anyone who understands the contours of ecclesiastical authority — is that the Church cannot pronounce on the mechanics of the cause-and-effect relationships that exist in the sciences. Two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen either make water or they do not. Wages are either increased this way or they are increased that way. These facts may help us form our moral conclusions, but they are, obviously, not themselves subject to moral critique. Something either works a particular way or it doesn’t.
Storck continues to argue that the Church must have the authority in some cases to declare that the sciences are “simply wrong.” Thus if economics says wages rise by doing X, but the statements of prelates seem to imply that they can rise by doing Y, then so much the worse for economics. If we allow the cause-and-effect relationships in economics to exist autonomously (again, he speaks as if cause-and-effect relationships could be subject to moral rebuke!), he demands, then “where does it end?” He says a psychologist could then say that promiscuity leads to human flourishing, and that I would be helpless to object.
I trust my readers have already spotted the fallacy, but just in case: even in this situation the proper objection is not to the cause-and-effect relationships. The psychologist’s research could in fact be unimpeachable: behavior A may well lead to emotional state B. The question is whether emotional state B in fact constitutes human flourishing. This is a philosophical/theological question, not a technical question involving the operation of forces in the natural world, and thus falls well within the province of the Church.
Woods resorts to his understanding of scientific reasoning in order to justify his separation of economics from morality and oversight by the Magisterium. The laws of economics are called laws equivocally -- they are not the same as the "laws" that "govern" the nonrational natural world. Why? Because human behavior, unlike the behavior of subrational creatures, is free and not necessary. Scientists can speak of laws governing the natural world because nonrational natures are determined to their ends, and will behave to attain those ends. What sets human beings apart from other natural creatures is their freedom. Hence, the "laws" posited by economists cannot but be generalizations about human behavior based on assumptions about their desires, and ultimately their moral character, and their constancy of choice -- that is to say that they consistently choose in accordance with their desires and form the respective habits.
Moreover, such generalizations cannot attain the status of certainty, as it is understood within Aristotelian logic (which I take to be a superior account of human reasoning than what passes for philosophy of science these days). This is true not only of human behavior but of any natural creature -- one cannot predict that something will do something with certainty because it is possible that something will intervene to prevent it from happening, and so on. (We can talk about "probable outcomes" in which we exclude the possibility of something happening to prevent those outcomes from occurring.) With human beings the obstacle to an outcome can not only come from without but from within.
It seems that Woods would be incorrect if he were to say that economics is purely a "descriptive" science by his own account. Otherwise, how can he make normative judgments or prescriptions? What hat is he wearing when he makes policy recommendations, or demands that there be non-interference by the government with the market? He is engaged with means-end reasoning, and he believes that the end as specified by the Austrian school is the best or most choice-worthy. But the Church understands that the human good is not merely the accumulation of property or wealth, or even of a diversity of material things. It is proper to the Magisterium to teach about how human goods are to be ordered and attained.
Let us avoid the error of attributing to him an error in understanding the nature economics. If he uses "economics" and "science" in a way that differ from how Catholic theologians and bishops used these words in the past, so be it. But if he denies that the Church or the secular government has the authority or competence to make pronouncements about how agents are to behave in the "marketplace" then he is a dissenter.
(See also this previous post.)
Introduction to the Spirit of the Liturgy by Msgr. Guido Marini, Part 2 of 6
(in pdf format)
(via Pertinacious Papist)
The Detroit Latin Mass Community is providing the texts; check back with their website for updates.
It seems to me that this is a perfect description of the modern liberal state and its conception of law and economics. The idea of virtue in general, and the specific virtue of justice in particular, have been exiled from our notions of politics, law, and economics. But a political order divorced from justice can only be about power; a legal order divorced from justice is merely a contradiction; an economic order divorced from justice is always on the verge of collapse (as ours is.)
I think the modern liberal state is able to maintain a mixed constitution because of its size -- it is both an oligarchy and a democracy, two deviant regimes in Aristotle's classification. Both the wealthy and the masses must be satisfied, and it is a delicate balance which must be maintained.
The consequences of a decade of loose monetary policies in major reserve currency centers are now being felt in Greece. Other countries will follow in its path, their pain seen in durable economic stagnation and unemployment. - Hossein Askari and Noureddine Krichene
Marjah in Helmand province was targeted for the largest-ever offensive by Western and Afghan forces because it generates significant funds for the Taliban through opium production and it gives insurgents a solid base. It was also chosen as a part of Washington's focus on altering the parameters of the country itself. - Kamran Bokhari, Peter Zeihan and Nathan Hughes
Ted Trainer, Culture Change
The world is immensely complicated, and the forces of sweeping change may overall boost transition towns for their positive contribution. Or as Ted Trainer lays out below, a course correction is needed now.
Rob Hopkins will probably write a response.
Mr. Feeney writes:
In fact, the trap he describes, the dire life-botch of setting out for a Ph.D. and then for an academic job, is only a trap (or only necessarily a trap) when viewed through a sort of grad student logic and pathos. That is, he doesn’t seem to acknowledge the existence of any freestanding pleasures of pursuing a humanities doctorate that might do some, if not all (but maybe all!), of the work of justifying that loopy decision. He reinforces the strange and unfortunate phenomenon by which the people least capable of seeing what is cool and special and potentially ecstatically fun about being a grad student are grad students. I saw this first hand (like really first-hand, as in, in the mirror). Benton talks about how grad students are socialized in various maladaptive ways. But he doesn’t talk about maybe the most directly harmful socialization grad students undergo, which, in fact, the general thrust of his several articles serves to reinforce: You enter a Ph.D. program and breathe in the supposition that your life is supposed to suck.
The negatives of a grad program: (1) the infantilization that grad school promotes, and the obstacle it posses to married life (if both spouses want to raise a family), (2) the grunt work that ranges from the perfunctory to the ridiculous, depending on the faculty member and course -- the good faculty members and courses devoted to the pursuit of truth rather than idelogy are not common in the humanities, (3) and the community surrounding a PhD program tends to be focused more on becoming an academic than truth -- if there is truth it is multiculturalism or moral relativism or cultural Marxism. It is very difficult to build friendships with people who are other opposed to your beliefs or too cowardly to stand up for them. Grad students may not speak out in defense of the truth for fear of alienating faculty members (and to a lesser degree, other students), and this is the beginning of a bad habit that they will have if they succeed in becoming academics. But it is disheartening to see faculty members who are content in their own niche and circle and reluctant to offend their colleagues, even if it is in defense of the Faith at a supposed Catholic institution.
What pleasures are there of pursuing a humanities doctorate in comparison? Learning from the greats can be done in part by reading on one's own, or learning from a teacher that is willing to teach -- it doesn't have to be done in a grad school.
As for Mr. Feeney's recommendations:
(1) View the Ph.D. as an end in itself.
What is the trade-off, in terms of time spent and opportunity cost? Is it worth it?
And a PhD that can be given to those who are hostile to the Western intellectual tradition is rather worthless, even if it is the ultimate in credentialing.
(2) Try not to take too long.
A no-brainer, but 4 years is too long for people who should already be participating in civil society as adults.
(3) Take an occasional moment to note that your “job” for the time being is to read books, some of them “great,” and talk about them.
And one has to write papers about them, which are to be evaluated by the professors and occasionally other students. This can be a major negative for doing coursework. "Surely the grade about how good your argumentation is, and not your conclusions." Yeah, right. Studying in an environment that is hostile to your point of view or academic interests is still a net negative, when one is considering the grad school experience as a whole, and not a part of it in isolation from the rest.
Such differences do not build up friendship, and are more likely to lead to a loss of respect as one evaluates the faculty members critically. (Assuming that one had such respect for them before they entered the program.)
(4) Take up a dissertation topic might get you sent to cool places for research, language-learning.
It's nice to be single, unattached, and without responsibility, isn't it?
The rest of his recommendations deal with socialization -- which in most urban areas requires money and time. Can a Catholic find other Catholics in academia? Yes, but finding time to meet with them can be hard, given the different schedules. Socialization for the sake of socialization leaves one hungry for true friendship.
Mr. Feeney thinks that grad school can be turned into a net positive for all who were in the same circumstances as he. I disagree.
Perhaps the association of Mr. Dale Fushek with Life Teen was not as great as that of Fr. Maciel with the LCs, but can the Life Teen avoid being stigmatized because of him? And how much of its program did Mr. Fushek create or inspire? (I don't think he is mentioned on the website.)
Zenit: Benedict XVI's Condemnation of Sexual Abuse Crisis
Edit. A follow-up post from Dr. Larison: Meaningless Statements, Meaningless Threats.
So more bullying from Republicans to toe the party line. We should recognize the Republican Party for the fraud that it is when it comes to representing conservatism.
I’ve witnessed people discount or dismiss folks like Greg Glassman’s (of CrossFit) or Mark Rippetoe’s (of Starting Strength) training advice simply because they don’t “look the part.”
Welcome to CrossFit: Forging Elite Fitness
A layout of "Nicene Christianity" -- how helpful or short would such an ecumenical catechism be, if it focused solely on the Nicene Creed? Given the differences in doctrine between Protestant sects, how could it be anything more than that? Elaboration on the Nicene Creed would have to be limited.
His torment is the disappearance of faith. His program is to lead men to God. His preferred instrument is teaching. But the Vatican curia doesn't help him much. And sometimes it harms him
(via the Western Confucian)
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
So the confederation of nobles that won a brief respite for Poland had become a cause célèbre in the late 18th century, and provides the backdrop in our story as Rousseau puts pen to paper. That this confederation’s purpose failed, even before Rousseau completed his work, only enhances the power of his subtle argument; for Rousseau’s purpose is to speak more broadly than the particulars of his age in Poland. His purpose concerns how a people might forge their patriotic devotion even bereft of a secure territory or state. As Kendall summarizes, “let the Poles build their republic in their own hearts, beyond the reach of foreign sword.” How this feat — which, as I say, more recent history confirms the Polish people, like few peoples on earth, have been more than equal to — might be accomplished: that is the theme of Rousseau’s Poland
Perhaps piety is possible, even if "bereft of a secure territory or state"; but one must have at least a people to which one belongs. A "proposition nation" does not produce the ties of loyalty that are needed for there to be a strong group identity that can weather disaster.
Well, let us snap our cellphones shut and use the word correctly: even so, there are friends and there are friends. The first sort includes those people we enjoy seeing maybe often, maybe not, learn something from, swap stories with, leave the children with, borrow books from, or work with compatibly. We reach out to them (and they to us) feeling various degrees of affection and need. Most of us require an extended social network to keep us mentally and morally awake, and for a laugh, too, and if these friends are people we can weave in and out of our lives without heartbreak, they are nonetheless dear. They respond, they amuse, and they sometimes shelter us in a way that shows as clear as paint that the world is full of goodness and not just evil. Nor do they generally require an enormous amount of time. A man who cannot keep friendships like these in good repair isn’t trying.
But the friends who are our best and closest friends are another matter entirely. They are rare, and irreplaceable, and to those of us temperamentally inclined to look at things a certain way, they seem to be one of the many excesses of a Creation that is so overflowing with good things that there is a great deal of undeserved extra. We have our families, who are stuck with us; how fortunate we are also to have our intimate friends, who are not.
Finding friends like these seems to be a matter of grace or luck, though keeping them requires time and effort, tact and finally love. Beyond fourth grade there is no instant best-friending; real friendship needs a patina. It has to be proven in order to be. It needs presence, too; communion is too subtle a matter to establish itself well long-distance. You can maintain friendships across the country, but you can’t really grow them; not without visits in between. (At least I can’t. The one exception I’d make is for letters, since a written letter can be almost as expressive as a face.) It’s very hard to be there for someone long-distance, either; in times of crisis there is no substitution for the laying on of hands. Outside of the necessity of your kids knowing their grandparents, keeping an old friend at hand is the strongest argument I know for everybody to stop moving already.
I know there are some well-made movies out there. I don’t deny this. I have probably seen some of them. What I deny is that you can reach a certain age and still be addicted to this form of entertainment, that you can “go to the movies” intending not to see something in particular but intending simply to “go to the movies” or “take in a movie” or, because it’s Friday, “rent a movie.” At a certain age you must come to prefer your book and a chair by the fire, or the pleasures of argument with friends over beer; otherwise, I own, you must admit some unflattering things about yourself.
Let it be said—and then let us be done with the matter—that movies are inferior to books and conversation. If I allow that bad books are inferior to good movies, or that good movies are more to be desired than dull conversation, I hasten to add that movie-watching is never the same as reading—and it is certainly not as strenuous as engaging in dull talk. Movie-watching is like Gilligan’s exercise regimen: lifting bamboo poles weighted with empty coconut shells.
Moving-watching is to reading what phone sex is to sex.
San Antonio Archbishop Calls Out to Laity
Archbishop José Gomez's letter (pdf
Monday, February 15, 2010
Once again, the comments give us an idea of what distorted notion of charity is in currency in LC circles. If Dr. Conrad Baars were around, he'd have a lot of potential patients among LCs and members of RC.
Giselle also writes: The face of conservative Mexico. If the Legion is suppressed, what impact will this have on the Church in Mexico? How badly is the Church losing faithful to other sects? Is the Church doing enough to address the corruption and injustice of the political economy? (How big of a threat are the drug cartels to priests and religious?) Can the Church do more to promote relocalization there?
By Muhammad Cohen
Resorts World Sentosa CEO Tan Hee Teck (L) �and Lim Kok Thay, Genting Group's chairman and CEO, pose with Chinese lion dance performers after officiating the opening of hotels at Resorts World Sentosa integrated casino resort in Singapore January 20, 2010. (Reuters/Daylife)
Visitors walk under a dome structure leading out from the casino, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010 in Singapore. Singapore's first casino-resort partially opened Wednesday, a key part of a government plan to reduce reliance on manufacturing and brand the tightly controlled city-state as a cosmopolitan Asian capital. Resorts World Sentosa, built by Malaysia's Genting Bhd for US$5 billion, opened 1,340 rooms in four hotels, including a Hard Rock hotel and a property designed by architect Michael Graves. (AP/Daylife)
An aerial view shows the site of the soon-to-be-opened Resorts World Sentosa casino on Singapore's Sentosa Island February 11, 2010. Singapore will open its first casino on Sunday, coinciding with the start of the Chinese New Year, as the city-state makes the latest roll of the dice to turn itself into a playground for the rich. (Reuters/Daylife)
Chairman of Resorts World Sentosa and the Genting Group, Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, buys tips for his first play, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010 in Singapore. Resorts World Sentosa, built by Malaysia's Genting Bhd for US$4.7 billion, opened Singapore's first casino Sunday. (AP/Daylife)
Interior view of Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010. Resorts World Sentosa, built by Malaysia's Genting Bhd for US$4.7 billion, opened Singapore's first casino Sunday. (AP/Daylife)
A lion dancing troupe performs at the entrance to the Resorts World Sentosa casino on Singapore's Sentosa Island before its opening February 14, 2010. Singapore's first casino, a key part of a drive to boost tourism revenue and please wealthy visitors, opened it doors on Sunday, Lunar New Year -- the most auspicious day of the Chinese calendar. (Reuters/Daylife)
A croupier waits for gamblers in front of a roulette wheel inside the Resorts World Sentosa casino on Singapore's Sentosa Island February 14, 2010. Singapore's first casino, a key part of a drive to boost tourism revenue and please wealthy visitors, opened it doors on Sunday, Lunar New Year -- the most auspicious day of the Chinese calendar. (Reuters/Daylife)