Saturday, July 17, 2010
If I have some time I'll write a short post about culture and republicanism.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Another peek at First Principles this week -- I wish a paleo would give a response to George Carey's Conservatism, Centralization, and Constitutional Federalism. M. Stanton Evans, The States and the Constitution.
If you can get bad legislation passed, is that really such an achievement? What's wrong with the analysis at the CS Monitor? Financial reform bill another win for Obama, but will the public care?
It is not Obama’s fault that for 30 years America’s policy – under Reagan, both Bushes and Bill Clinton – has been to export jobs permanently to the Third World. The jobs that Americans now desperately seek are no longer here, in the homeland, and never will be. They’re in China, Taiwan, Vietnam, India, Indonesia.
No stimulus program, giving money to cement contractors to fix potholes along the federal interstate highway system, is going to bring those jobs back. Highly trained tool and die workers, the aristocrats of the manufacturing sector, are flipping hamburgers – at best – for $7.50 an hour because U.S. corporations sent their jobs to Guangzhou, with the approval of politicians flush with the money of the “free trade” lobby.
It is not Obama’s fault that across 30 years more and more money has floated up to the apex of the social pyramid till America is heading back to where it was in the 1880s, a nation of tramps and millionaires. It’s not his fault that every tax break, every regulation, every judicial decision tilts toward business and the rich. That was the neoliberal America conjured into malign vitality back in the mid 1970s.
But it is Obama’s fault that he did not understand this, that always, from the getgo, he flattered Americans with paeans to their greatness, without adequate warning of the political and corporate corruption destroying America and the resistance he would face if he really fought against the prevailing arrangements that were destroying America. He offered them a free and easy pass to a better future, and now they see that the promise was empty.
It’s Obama’s fault, too, that, as a communicator, he cannot rally and inspire the nation from its fears. From his earliest years he has schooled himself not to be excitable, not to be an angry black man who would be alarming to his white friends at Harvard and his later corporate patrons. Self-control was his passport to the guardians of the system, who were desperate to find a symbolic leader to restore America’s credibility in the world after the disasters of the Bush era. He is too cool.
So, now Americans in increasing numbers have lost confidence in him. For the first time in the polls negative assessments outnumber the positive. He no longer commands trust. His support is drifting down to 40 per cent. The straddle that allowed him to flatter corporate chieftains at the same time as blue-collar workers now seems like the most vapid opportunism. The casual campaign pledge to wipe out al-Quaida in Afghanistan is now being cashed out in a disastrous campaign viewed with dismay by a majority of Americans.
The polls portend disaster. It now looks as though the Republicans may well recapture not only the House but, conceivably, the Senate as well. The public mood is so contrarian that, even though polls show that voters think the Democrats may well have better solutions on the economy than Republicans, they will vote against incumbent Democrats in the midterm elections next fall. They just want to throw the bums out.
Obama has sought out Bill Clinton to advise him in this desperate hour. If Clinton is frank, he will remind Obama that his own hopes for a progressive first term were destroyed by the failure of his health reform in the spring of 1993. By August of that year, he was importing a Republican, David Gergen, to run the White House.
Obama had his window of opportunity last year, when he could have made jobs and financial reform his prime objectives. That’s what Americans hoped for. Mesmerized by economic advisers who were creatures of the banks, he instead plunged into the Sargasso Sea of “health reform,” wasted the better part of a year, and ended up with something that pleases no one.
More from the weekend edition:
John Ross, In the Basement of Mexican Justice, No One is Innocent
Chase Madar, Keep Cops Out of Schools: New York's Failed Experiment
Andrew Cockburn, Worth It? the Human Price of Sanctions
Ralph Nader, Delta Blues: Can the Iranian Model Save Mississippi?
Dave Lindorff, Cap and Blow?
Missy Beattie, Marketing Peace and War
Michael Barker, Foundations and Social Change: an Interview with Diana Johnstone
Stewart J. Lawrence, Is Obama Backing Away From a Sweeping Immigration Legalization
Sherwood Ross, What Tea Partiers Owe Progressives
This primacy of production is even more pronounced in necessaries, particularly the most basic, like food and clothing. The producer of food will always need food; he is motivated to produce enough at least to ensure that he may eat. The consumer of food, on the other hand, is entirely dependent upon the producers of it. If the producers do not produce enough, or produce in too low a quality, the consumer dies. The same is true for a society as a whole: if that society fails to produce sufficient food, it must either import that food, compensating for that importation by some other valuable production, or simply go without, which clearly is not a viable option. Either way, it must produce rather than merely consume, and production is again seen to be primary; for without production, no consumption can occur.
Which brings me to my present topic: the primacy of agriculture. By “agriculture” here I mean, very loosely, the production of food; it includes farming, gardening, animal husbandry, hunting, fishing, and anything else that results in some food product at the end. It’s clear from the foregoing that agriculture is the most necessary of all productive industries. Agriculture is the oldest and the greatest profession. Without a healthy agricultural base, all economies are doomed, for workers cannot work if they cannot eat. Before we worry about whether we’ve got enough motor vehicles, good enough highways, fast enough computers, and big enough office parks, we need to worry about whether we’ve got enough food. We take it entirely for granted these days, but we shouldn’t. It’s the bedrock of all human endeavor, the root of all human production. Without it, we can do nothing.
Without physical sustenance, no other work in a political community is possible. And yet, most Americans pay scant attention to what is required for food to be brought to their homes. In fact, many are content with the industrial system; they are just ignorant of the damage that it causes to the soil and to water systems and of the amount of energy required to keep it going.
Relocalization and sustainability require that more become farmers, but who is willing to do the work? How can we transform the major urban and suburban areas, and make farming more appealing and financially feasible? Would people be willing to pay more money for their food, when they can get it at lower prices from elsewhere, thanks to cheap gas?
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Recalling what Aristotle writes about community in Politics III.3 and III.9....
The doctrinaire liberal has no problem with the immigration of members of other peoples who have a different culture, because he doesn't have to live with them, and he doesn't care about community life. In the liberal model for understanding the origin of society (and government), individuals (or families) associate for the sake of the necessities of life, especially the protection of life and property. Living in society is desirable in so far as society enables them to more easily secure their private good. Liberal thinkers neglect an important good, namely the good of friendship. They may admit that men and women form families, but they ignore the good of friendship as it exists between members of a political community. (Not all of which are reducible to friendship between family members.)
Liberals presume that there are universal moral norms which govern how individuals behave towards one another, defending some notion of justice and right. (A "thin" sense of culture, as it were.) But is there anything more to morality than this? No. Society and government are for the sake of promoting the good of the individual, and the individual can determine what this is for himself, so long as he does not harm anyone else without their consent or infringe on their rights. Hence the laws that liberals support may not be sufficient for promoting what is necessary for people to live together well. Liberals also have no sense of custom as unwritten law, and would probably be opposed to such a notion on principle.
(The notion of a common good that liberals subscribe to is either the instrumental one or the aggregate one. The personalistic account of the common good comes dangerously close to being the same as the liberal one, if its definitions are not careful and do not take into account man's social nature.)
Written human laws constitute only a small part of the culture of a society, which includes all that orders society, even if our knowledge of unwritten mores shrinks with every generation. Moreover, a culture will differ in accordance with the constitution of the polity. Though admittedly the days of republican America are probably behind us.
The typical well-off American doesn't care about immigration, since he doesn't have to have immigrants as neighbors, or associate with them, really. Interracial marriage is often frowned upon, though they'd be loathe to admit it. Because these Americans live in isolation from their own neighbors, as well as from people who are ethnically different, they do not care about the vast array of informal laws and customs that govern behavior in any society. Life in community has very little meaning for them.
These intellectual error of liberals may also be combined with those of the (dogmatic) multiculturalist who either embraces diversity for its own sake, or sees Western culture as being inferior to non-Western cultures. Then you add to this mix the error of the will, the "do-gooder" mentality of the liberal who does not recognize an order in charity and whose loves reflect the belief that there is no difference whatsoever between the citizen and the non-citizen.
Even if a polity doesn't have the same sort of physical mobility and lack of rootedness that characterizes American culture, it may experience social fragmentation and loss of culture because of its inordinate size. (Plus the other historical factors that lead to the destruction of local communities.)
Edit. Mark Richardson has some complementary thoughts in his look at Sweden in Identity lite.
Althusius, in his Politica, follows Aristotle closely on the ends of society, though it is not clear to me that he discusses civic friendship enough. John C. Calhoun's Disquisition on Government agrees with Aristotle as well, though he seems to offer a more "Augustinian" reason on why government is necessary?
In order to have a clear and just conception of the nature and object of government, it is indispensable to understand correctly what that constitution or law of our nature is, in which government originates; or, to express it more fully and accurately — that law, without which government would not, and with which, it must necessarily exist. Without this, it is as impossible to lay any solid foundation for the science of government, as it would be to lay one for that of astronomy, without a like understanding of that constitution or law of the material world, according to which the several bodies composing the solar system mutually act on each other, and by which they are kept in their respective spheres. The first question, accordingly, to be considered is — What is that constitution or law of our nature, without which government would not exist, and with which its existence is necessary?
In considering this, I assume, as an incontestable fact, that man is so constituted as to be a social being. His inclinations and wants, physical and moral, irresistibly impel him to associate with his kind; and he has, accordingly, never been found, in any age or country, in any state other than the social. In no other, indeed, could he exist; and in no other — were it possible for him to exist — could he attain to a full development of his moral and intellectual faculties, or raise himself, in the scale of being, much above the level of the brute creation.
I next assume, also, as a fact not less incontestable, that, while man is so constituted as to make the social state necessary to his existence and the full development of his faculties, this state itself cannot exist without government. The assumption rests on universal experience. In no age or country has any society or community ever been found, whether enlightened or savage, without government of some description.
Having assumed these, as unquestionable phenomena of our nature, I shall, without further remark, proceed to the investigation of the primary and important question — What is that constitution of our nature, which, while it impels man to associate with his kind, renders it impossible for society to exist without government?
The answer will be found in the fact (not less incontestable than either of the others) that, while man is created for the social state, and is accordingly so formed as to feel what affects others, as well as what affects himself, he is, at the same time, so constituted as to feel more intensely what affects him directly, than what affects him indirectly though others; or, to express it differently, he is so constituted, that his direct or individual affections are stronger than his sympathetic or social feelings. I intentionally avoid the expression, selfish feelings, as applicable to the former; because, as commonly used, it implies an unusual excess of the individual over the social feelings, in the person to whom it is applied; and, consequently, something depraved and vicious. My object is, to exclude such inference, and to restrict the inquiry exclusively to facts in their bearings on the subject under consideration, viewed as mere phenomena appertaining to our nature — constituted as it is; and which are as unquestionable as is that of gravitation, or any other phenomenon of the material world.
In asserting that our individual are stronger than our social feelings, it is not intended to deny that there are instances, growing out of peculiar relations — as that of a mother and her infant — or resulting from the force of education and habit over peculiar constitutions, in which the latter have overpowered the former; but these instances are few, and always regarded as something extraordinary. The deep impression they make, whenever they occur, is the strongest proof that they are regarded as exceptions to some general and well understood law of our nature; just as some of the minor powers of the material world are apparently to gravitation.
I might go farther, and assert this to be a phenomenon, not of our nature only, but of all animated existence, throughout its entire range, so far as our knowledge extends. It would, indeed, seem to be essentially connected with the great law of self-preservation which pervades all that feels, from man down to the lowest and most insignificant reptile or insect. In none is it stronger than in man. His social feelings may, indeed, in a state of safety and abundance, combined with high intellectual and moral culture, acquire great expansion and force; but not so great as to overpower this all-pervading and essential law of animated existence.
But that constitution of our nature which makes us feel more intensely what affects us directly than what affects us indirectly through others, necessarily leads to conflict between individuals. Each, in consequence, has a greater regard for his own safety or happiness, than for the safety or happiness of others; and, where these come in opposition, is ready to sacrifice the interests of others to his own. And hence, the tendency to a universal state of conflict, between individual and individual; accompanied by the connected passions of suspicion, jealousy, anger and revenge — followed by insolence, fraud and cruelty — and, if not prevented by some controlling power, ending in a state of universal discord and confusion, destructive of the social state and the ends for which it is ordained. This controlling power, wherever vested, or by whomsoever exercised, is GOVERNMENT.
More on identity:
The role of affections: identity not merely "rational" or "credal" -- what one thinks or believes. Identity is also defined by one's social relations and bonds.
IEP: Political Philosophy, Liberalism
Begun on July 2.
No, again. In recent decades, a revolution in our understanding of human nature has produced evidence from neuroscience to anthropology that we have all the social “wiring” needed to make the turn toward life. It turns out we’ve evolved to take pleasure in and to need cooperation, empathy, fairness, and efficacy.
Human beings are social by nature. How many of our wisdom traditions already told us this?
A traditional conservative can agree with the decentralization of power, but what of the rest? The author seems like a democrat, and while the three factor she lists can contribute or exacerbate evil, the conservative does not put the blame wholly on a bad system. We must also look at the responsibility of the moral agent for his actions. Laws shape our actions and character -- but what laws would the author endorse? I suspect that her choices would differ significantly from the conservative, republican or not.
Then what is preventing us from moving toward the world that almost all of us want? My short answer is that we feel powerless. We feel powerless to act on what we know.
And what robs us of power?
For some, it’s the false idea that we have to change human nature itself; that we have to overcome our Stone Age emotions, as esteemed biologist E.O. Wilson tells us.
Others cling to the notion that most of us are OK, but there’s an evil minority—be it people raking in the dough on Wall Street or hiding in caves in Pakistan. The solution is to get rid of “them” so we can have the world we want.
To me, both seem daunting, truly impossible tasks.
What if there were a wholly different way of seeing the challenge that gets at the very root of our powerlessness, and is grounded in the latest science?
In Getting a Grip 2: Clarity, Creativity and Courage for the World We Really Want, I suggest that we humans find our power only as we embrace the totality of our complex nature: accepting that, yes, we are hard-wired (or at least, “soft-wired”) to be caring and cooperative problem-solvers. And at the same time, lab experiments, as well as current and past genocides, prove that under the right (wrong) conditions, most of us will brutalize others.
It’s tough to truly accept that both attributes exist within virtually all of us, but the payoff for taking this mental leap is huge.
From this frame, we know what to do. We don’t have to change human nature or get rid of the evil ones. We have to first identify the social rules and norms that both bring out the best in us and keep the worst in check; and then work to manifest precisely those conditions.
I believe the evidence shows that three conditions, in particular, lead humans to no good. They are concentration of power, anonymity, and scapegoating.
If that is the case, progress toward the world we want comes as we dissolve these conditions and move toward communities and societies with widely dispersed power, transparent public decision making, and shared responsibility for creating solutions instead of looking for someone to blame.
The great news is that millions of people worldwide are fostering the conditions that bring out the best in us. But if despair is still a danger for many who feel powerless to act on what we know now, maybe it’s time we rethink power itself.
Relocalization requires that we focus on building up community, though it may be too late for conservatives to do much to stem the progressive tide. While some conservatives and radicals see the importance of community, I do not think there is much of a competition between the two groups, if only because what is being done overall to build community is rather insignificant in comparison to the social trends of decline affecting the country. I might be wrong.
Just as important, the findings of neuroscience suggest a great way to empower ourselves. We can place ourselves in the company of those more courageous than we are. For sure, we’ll become more like them.
Thus, our most important choices may be deciding whom we spend time with as friends, colleagues, and partners. And “spending time” means more than face-to-face contact. What we see on TV, in films, and on the Internet, what we read and therefore imagine—all are firing mirror neurons in our brains and forming us. Knowing this, we can choose courage—and power.
I think the author is overly optimistic in thinking that these small beginning steps can lead to legislative reform at the Federal level:
Our every act shapes the field of power relationships, and the rules we create determine whether they will be life-serving.
Today’s rules, for example, allow private-money’s influence over public decisions to create one of the three conditions proven to lead to no good: highly concentrated power. Lobbyists spent $3.5 billion last year to influence Congress, funding more than two dozen lobbyists for every single legislator citizens have elected to represent them.
Once we fully embrace the notion that dispersion and accountability of power is key to our thriving, then we will no longer be surprised when a new president fails to turn the ship of state. Instead, we’ll realize the need and see our power to change the rules.
Right now, we have a prime opportunity. Both houses of Congress are considering the Fair Elections Now Act, which would establish voluntary public financing of congressional elections. It would enable everyday citizens—the waitress, teacher, or truck driver—to run for office without being tethered to corporate money. It’s built on a system that is already working in Maine, Arizona, and Connecticut.
No matter what else we are doing to promote democracy we can each press our representatives to get on board. We can make campaign finance reform a sexy, compelling issue, knowing it’s needed to move on everything from serious climate-change legislation to remaking our banking system.
For further inquiry:
I've been dipping into Illich again,but it is taking me a while to read through his essays.
Illich accords a primacy to love, but what is it for Christ to be anarchist? Does Illich distinguish between power and authority? Between command and exploitation or coercion? Is there such a thing as the moral use of power? And is disparity in power or inequality in general tantamount to injustice?
Tucson Bishop Kicanas Testifies Before Congress, Urges Federal Action on Immigration Reform
Insight Scoop: Wow. Sorta. Well, okay. Not really.
Related: Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas
Field Report: A Michigan Teen Farms Her Backyard (via Rod Dreher)
History of Norms Addressing Gravest Crimes
Father Lombardi on Significance of New Norms
"A Great Contribution to the Clarity and Certainty of Law in This Field"
Changes Made to "Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela"
Made to "Render the Text More Useful"
Fr. Samir: French ban on burqa a welcome law!
by Samir Khalil Samir
For the expert on Islam, the law is an invitation for European Muslims to strive for integration and marginalize Salafi trends of opposition and conflict. Moreover, the burqa has no justification in the Koran or Islamic tradition, it is merely a custom of Saudi Arabia (and some other countries) which confirms chauvinism and the "the woman’s grave".
New bishop of Yulin (Yan’an), a PhD graduate from Rome
by Zhen Yuan
Church tightens, clarifies rules on sex abuses by priests
Changes on ‘Rules on the Most Serious Crimes’ are made public today. They include faster procedures, a longer statute of limitations (20 years), treating as a crime the acquisition, possession or disclosure “in any way and by any means” of pornographic images of minors by priests. Changes are also made to the rules that govern crimes against the faith and the sacraments.
Religious freedom, the path to peace: a Carmelite convert from Hinduism comments
by Nirmala Carvalho
Sister Mary Joseph, a former Brahmin Hindu, since 1977 has lived in the cloistered Carmelite Convent in Mumbai. Here she comments to AsiaNews the theme "Religious freedom, the path to peace", chosen by Pope Benedict XVI for World Day for Peace 2011.
Ethnic unrest in Guangxi over water pollution by industrial plant
Thousands of villagers come out to protest against polluting aluminium plant, but are beaten by company security guards. Police face sit-ins and demonstrators, who belong to the Zhuang ethnic minority.
Death on your doorstep
Restrepo directed by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
Repeated tight shots of earnest US soldiers are the perfect metaphor for what makes an otherwise cinematically-pleasing film almost useless for telling us anything about the real war. The lack of critical local knowledge of what it's like to live through decades of conflict leaves a gaping hole in this Sundance prize-winner. - Nick Turse
A year after Xinjiang riots, tensions simmer
On the surface, Urumqi, scene of last year's deadly riots in China's western Xinjiang autonomous region, seems calm. But as Beijing moves to develop the country's west, there are underlying ethnic tensions it will need to address to avoid future flare-ups. - Gordon Ross
Frida Berrigan, Trillion Dollar Babies: Re-examining the Pentagon's Spending Habits
Dave Lindorff, How Bank of America Got Away With a Huge Swindle
Paul Craig Roberts, Economics in Freefall
Another of Stiglitz’s shortcomings, one that he shares with most economists, is his habit of reifying the market economy. The market is a social organization. The results of market activity reflect the behavior of the human participants in the market. When economists reify the market, they attribute the behavior, ethics, and morality--or lack thereof--of humans to the market itself. Thus, Stiglitz describes human failures as “market failures,” and he asks in his new book, Freefall, “why didn’t the market exercise discipline on bad corporate governance and bad incentive structures?”
Social institutions are inanimate. They do not possess life and cannot impose good outcomes on human action.
Libertarians also reify markets, but instead of blaming markets for human failures, they imbue the market with human virtues and even with the super-human virtue of producing results that human intelligence cannot improve upon. Economists’ “risk models” for which Nobel Prizes have been awarded and Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan attributed the social institution with economic wisdom beyond man’s.
It is likely that the practice of reifying the market economy developed as a form of shorthand. It was convenient to say that the market did this and that rather than to have to describe the human interactions that produced the results. The market was transformed from an abstraction into a life form and became the actor instead of the humans operating within the institution.
If the outcomes are good, libertarians attribute the good results to the market’s virtues; if bad, libertarians blame human interference--government regulation. Economists of Stiglitz’s persuasion see it in the opposite way. Good results are produced by regulation; bad results are the result of allowing the market to make decisions on its own.
This way of thinking, which reifies a social institution, is ingrained in economics. It is the source of enormous confusion and has resulted in a pointless long-running ideological battle that Stiglitz calls “a battle of ideas.”
It is possible to clear away the confusion. First, understand that a free market is one in which prices are free to respond to supply and demand. Economists of all persuasions understand that to fix a price below the price at which supply and demand equate results in shortages. Economists have learned this from rent control. Fixing a price above the price at which supply and demand equate results in surpluses. Economists have learned this from agricultural subsidies. A free market does not mean a market in which human behavior is not regulated. A free market is one in which supply and demand are permitted to equate.
Second, understand that regulation regulates human behavior, not the market. It is the actors in the market who are charged with regulatory infractions, not the institution itself. Regulation is necessary because of human faults, such as greed, fraud, carelessness, not because of market faults. Regulation is necessary because of human failure, not because of market failure.
Third, understand that the problem of regulation is that it is done by flawed humans. Human flaws do not disappear by moving human action from the economy to government. Most likely the flaws worsen as government decisions are often unaccountable. Many economists assume that regulators act in the public interest. However, as George Stigler, another Nobel Prizewinner, pointed out several decades ago, regulators are invariably captured by the industries that they regulate.
By Peter Haworth
Federalism and subsidiarity are, indeed, different concepts, even though they often dictate similar applications. Federalism is a rigid notion; it now frequently connotes the making of strong demarcations of power between the multiple local associations and the single central government within a political union. Subsidiarity, however, enjoins leaving a function with the lowest level of association (i.e., not allowing a higher-level association to assume power over the function) to the extent that the lower-level association can perform it efficiently.*Here is a short post I wrote on subsidiarity, speculating on its role in contemporary CST. A longer post.
The difference between the two principles can be further illustrated through considering the different ways that each might dictate handling the scenario of a rogue state or polity within a larger political union that possesses a federal government to help manage the common affairs of this union.
Let us assume, for example, that a state gravely mistreated a minority portion of its residents. What would each of the above principles direct as being the correct action? If the political union were organized such that the states had full police powers and this was not a power assigned to the federal government, then federalism would demand maintaining such demarcation of powers regardless of the fact that the rogue state is failing to protect and is even willfully mistreating its residents. In fact, other than during the initial stage of deciding how power is to be demarcated between lower and higher (or more centralized) levels, the effective performance of a function is not even considered in determining applications of the principle of federalism.
Subsidiarity, on the other hand, is more flexible, in that it is theoretically open to transferring a function (i.e., power over the function) to higher levels if it becomes clear that a lower-level association cannot perform the function efficiently. Thus, if it were found that a state or polity within our hypothetical union could not efficiently perform the function of protecting a certain minority of people within its borders, then subsidiarity would direct us to transfer this function and the corresponding power over such function to a higher level, by whose agency performance of that function could be performed more efficiently.
For many, the pursuit of such applications of the subsidiarity principle (and not federalism) just seems like utter common sense. Subsidiarity is a principle that allows for continual re-evaluation about which levels of government can most efficiently perform various functions and, hence, should have the relevant powers over such functions. Federalism, on the other hand, does not entail this evaluation within its concept; it refers merely to the maintenance of an already determined division of functions and the powers to implement them.
We have to remember that what may be ideal or in accordance with reason is different from what obtains in reality. While the civitas is the perfect community and should be of a certain size, because of the loss of autarky what used to be a perfect community may no longer be such, and what originated as a union of civitates may now have the character proper to a perfect community, instead of being some sort of alliance or confederation.
How does the authority of the father differ from that of the head of a guild? How does the authority of the government of the civitas compare?
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Last week, there was another earthquake in southern California... Given the political situation in the Golden State and its hostility to guns, I've been thinking about moving. Where would I go? Somewhere in the midwest (Montana) or the South. Texas is physically closest to California, and probably more sustainable than Arizona or New Mexico. It may also be a bit more diverse than other states in the South. It has a reputation for being gun-friendly, and it has historical and cultural links to the South. Surely things aren't as bad in Texas as they are in coastal California. Maybe I'll keep an eye out for opportunities at OLAA in the future. I should visit San Antonio some time in the future.
Moving near Clear Creek Monastery would be more challenging, unless I already had some money and the proper farming skills.
Per impossibile, if a group of citizens could form an informal militia, would they be obligated to submit to the proper state authority (the governor)? Or would it be possible to follow only the local authority, such as that of the sheriff? (Those who would form an informal militia may not be inclined to trust those holding state office, after all.)
Keep on looking...
Happy Bastille Day! We are celebrating with mulberry ice-cream cones from in front of Chez Panisse from 12:30pm today. Come down and join us. Liberté, égalité, fraternité!
The Western Confucian links to the following by Kevin Gutzman: Bastille Day is Bunk.
Traditional American republicans do not endorse everything about the French Revolution; some even reject it entirely. Traditional Catholics are even more critical. (For example, Christendom and Revolution.) And then there are the Catholic monarchists...
Remember the Vendée! What more can be said in response to French radicalism?
Alphajets from the French Air Force' Patrouille de France, or French Acrobatic Patrol, fly above the Arc de Triomphe during the annual Bastille Day military parade on The Champs Elysee Avenue in Paris, Wednesday, July 14, 2010. (AP/Daylife)
French First lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (R) poses with Benin's first lady Chantal Boni in front of the Elysee palace in Paris following a meeting on July 13, 2010, as leaders of 13 African countries are in France to take part in its national celebrations. Troops from 13 African nations marched in Paris on July 14, 2010, marking half a century of independence from France as part of a rain-soaked Bastille Day parade heavily criticised by human rights groups. (Getty/Daylife)
French troops take part in the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris July 14, 2010. (Getty/Daylife)
Students from the French Ecole Polytechnique take part under heavy rain in the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris July 14, 2010. (Getty/Daylife)
French republican guards take part in the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris July 14, 2010. (Getty/Daylife)
Saint-Cyr military academy students take part in the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris July 14, 2010. (Getty/Daylife)
Pioneers from the French Foreign Legion (Legion etrangere) take part in the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris July 14, 2010. (Getty/Daylife)
I think Mr. Sailer is too eager for a technofix for what ails American education:
One thing that you might hope that Teach for America would have accomplished over its 20 years of existence is lead to a revolution in educational software and hardware. You can't expect superstars to stick around teaching forever, but you could expect that they and their experience would go to Silicon Valley and invent great educational software. Instead, we seem to have gone backwards in the focus on education software.Though I did notice that the children at school like JiJi. It may be useful in raising standardized testing scores: The power of the penguin: local students improve math scores with JiJi. And such programs may be able to do what a human cannot, get the interest of all the children at once, so that they can learn en masse.
If the problem with American mass education is intrinsic to the system, and not to the quality of the teachers, then what?
Problems that TFA may exemplify:
1. National organizations that have no real roots in local community, with respect to the administration and to its recruits.
2. A reliance on a central authority and all that goes with it: mission statements and so on, instead of leadership and virtues proper to the organization and its ties to the community. (Institution-centered, rather than people-centered. Also, p0romoting the liberal ideal of do-goodism, rather than the order of charity.)
3. An inadequate grasp of problems it purports to solve. (In this case, the crisis of American mass education.)
4. A failure to understand the problems means that proposed solutions will not be adequate.
5. A failure to understand the purposes of education also impacts the understanding of the problem.
6. Failing to get input from those serving in the trenches about what works and what doesn't. (A lack of resources for internal reform.) Instead, providing incentives for those in the lower levels to keep their mouths shut and to not rock the boat, or to remain in comfrotable ignorance.
7. Promoting itself as a brand or stepping stone to positions coveted by those seeking elite status. (What sort of "talent" pool does TFA tap into? Does it promote the inflating of egos, rather than humble service of the community?) And is branding also for the sake of financial gain? Using those with "elite" educational backgrounds to sell the organization and to bring in more $?
8. Turning service (and works of charity) into an opportunity to make more money than is necessary.
Some links on TFA.
Rod Dreher, Monsanto's genetically-modified Eucharist
CHT, Obama the Liar on Free Trade
Mark Richardson on the link between liberalism and multiculturalism: Identity lite.
John Robb, JOURNAL: A Mechanism for Economic and Political Concentration
Steve Sailer, How to get into college
The 50-year farm bill (original)
We need new strategies for agriculture that emphasize efficient nutrient use in order to lower production costs and minimize negative environmental effects. The trouble is, the best soils on the best landscapes are already being farmed. Much of the future expansion of agriculture will be onto marginal lands where the risk of irreversible degradation under annual grain production is high. As these areas become degraded, expensive chemical, energy, and equipment inputs will become less effective and much less affordable.
Fireflies In July (original)
Gene Logsdon, OrganicToBe.org
Most of us have only a little knowledge of the awesome events going on in nature right around us all the time. That’s why we must ceaselessly travel in search of distraction far and wide. There are wonders at work right under our noses but we don’t notice. It is even more lamentable now that we have abandoned the real world for the electronic world.
Ellen Brown, How Brokers Became Bookies
Mark Weisbrot, Exacerbating the Crisis in the Eurozone
Jonathan Cook, Remote-Controlled Killing
Dean Baker, Reckless Drilling: BP's Carnage
Deepak Tripathi, The Dwindling of Afghanistan's Coalition of the Willing
PFC Juan S. Restrepo, after whom OP Restrepo was named.
(source: Sky Soldiers Killed in Action)
The early bird special at Cinearts Santana Row isn't bad -- $6.00. (I think that's also the early bird special for AMC as well.) Cinearts Santana Row is now showing Toy Story 3. For a while I was the only person under 40 -- there were 15 to 20 other people watching the movie, but they were all seniors. Then 2 women under the age of 40 entered the theater, but they left 20 minutes or so into the movie. Why? Was it too boring? Not enough handsome men?
The glimpse that Restrepo offers us of the life of the American infantrymen serving in Afghanistan is too short. I didn't mind that there wasn't much actual war-making (combat) in the documentary -- I just wanted to experience more of what their life was like, and to become more acquainted with the men in the platoon. The documentary is a bit like the clips one sees in the 5 or 10 minute short stories shown on the news or a television news magazine program, with enough of them strung together to make a 90-minute film.
Still, I think the documentary might be revelatory for American civilians who have no idea what it is like to be a soldier in the infantry or what sort of sacrifices our soldiers have to make in executing the foreign policy decisions of the Federal government.
Is it proper for American army officers to serve as diplomats and intermediaries between local Afghan leaders and the US government? Do they have the training and knowledge of the culture to really do this? Both the CO of Battle Company, and the CO of the 173rd Brigade Combat Team carry out this role. Is it one reason why the United States is lousy at "empire-building"?
Now for some remarks on the previews and trailers they showed before the movie:
The theater showed some previews -- you know, the package of 3, usually a TV show plus a movie plus something else. The first brought a welcome sight, even though I didn't recognize her at first, and I had to concentrate and try to remember who the stars of this TV show were, as I had read about it earlier this year. Sasha Alexander is back on TV; she's starring in a new procedural on TNT along with Angie Harmon. The show, Rizzoli and Isles, is supposed to take place in Boston; Sasha Alexander is , the logical scientist/medical examiner, while Angie Harmon plays , the tomboy who goes with her gut instinct. Does this remind you of any other pairings? The first one that came to my mind was Kirk and Spock of Star Trek. The two "extremes" of male psychology transferred to female characters.
It's another girl power show. If I had cable, I might be happy to see Sasha Alexander on the television again, but I'd have to put up with the nonsense.
There was also a brief short for Scott Pilgrim versus the World, which is based on the comic books. He seems like a beta; and then there is the (extreme) female fantasy of a man fighting other men (in this case, the ex-bfs) in order to win the heart of the outcast girl. He doesn't much care for the Asian girl who has a crush on him. (Is there some sort of bias against Asian women?) So what do women think of Scott Pilgrim? A beta having to become an alpha?
Julia Roberts was interviewed for her movie Eat, Pray, Love. The main character is travelling the world (Rome, India,
There's a new show on USA, Covert Affairs. The show and its main character, a woman who is supposedly a CIA agent, reminded me a bit of Alias. I had to look carefully to make sure it wasn't Jennifer Garner starring. (It's actually Piper Perabo. She looks different. I don't remember her cheekbones being so prominent.) I think USA is doing better than the major networks, but soon it will be the equal of TNT with respect to promoting girl power. (Hulu has some clips and will netcast the episodes.)
The majority of the trailers became an unintended contrast to the masculine appeal of Restrepo. The noticeable exception? Perhaps the new Robert Duvall movie, Get Low. So much of what is produced in Hollywood is geared towards women. I also noted that many of the commercials were examples of how consumer goods are being marketed to women.
What would happen if women stopped purchasing so much? What would marketers do without their audience?
For Angie Harmon, another baby, another show
Keeping her daughter away from Corpses! Sasha Alexander talks Rizzoli & Isles
Herc Has Seen TNT’s New Lady Cop Show RIZZOLI & ISLES!!
TED: Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity
Herc’s Seen USA’s New Romantic CIA Drama COVERT AFFAIRS!!
Alison Krauss Contributes New Recording to Get Low Film Soundtrack
Begun on July 9.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Ah Fai is going to switch to working FT at AS. (I also heard that another is to be opened in SF...)
Ah Fei told me that Miyake's closed in March. The restaurant was very popular when it first opened, but it gradually went into decline, changing owners at least once or twice. I don't know if the one in Palo Alto is still open or not. Ah Fei went in February; the interior was very dirty, and the tables were sticky. The restaurant was in great need of remodeling, but it seems that the business has closed.
Free the Animal: T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study: Finally, Exhaustively Discredited and The China Study Smackdown Roundup. More Barefoot Options
Vegans and the Quest for Purity by Harold Fromm
Don Vandergriff, EXCELLENT ASSESSMENT OF COIN
Heute fehlt es den Jugendlichen vor allem an liturgischer Bildung (via NLM)
The Art of Biblical Hospitality
The "Te Deum"
Observance of Liturgical Norms and "Ars Celebrandi"
Since I've been hearing this a lot lately... June Casagrande: 'Have Drank' or 'Have Drunk'? The Answer Is Closer Than Many Realize
Canada's energy superpower delusion (original)
First off, Canada is not now, nor is it ever likely to be, an "Energy Superpower". This term was first used by Prime Minister Harper on the eve of the 2006 G8 meeting.
We Catholics are commonly urged to "engage the culture"; not to flee for monasteries of our own making, but to work within the institutions of mass media, mass education, mass marketing, and mass entertainment to advance the banners of Christ, our King.
I do not wish to criticize those who toil at that thankless task. Nor will I suggest that their work will be futile; no true service of the Lord can be without fruit. But I do believe we have mistaken the signs of the times. We seek to engage a culture, when there is no culture to engage. Our task is rather to revive the memory of what a culture is.
If that declaration seems provocative, I ask you to consider that word "culture," and to cease using it to denote the habits and fads of the masses. For the "masses" do not produce culture. The people do, when they cherish and preserve and pass along to their descendants what is most dear to them: their memorials and feasts, their music and dances and rites of passage and of courtship; their know-how, their moral laws; most important, their worship. There is no culture without cultus. Without a common belief in God or the gods, you do not get ancient Athens and the Parthenon atop its rocky mount. You do not hear the Psalms in the synagogue. Michelangelo does not sculpt the David as a tribute to the patriots of his native Florence.
I saw this trailer before Restrepo; I don't think it will be as subversive as Race to Nowhere. It might even be its opposite, in terms of the solutions it promotes?
OSB. The Cistercians, the Trappists and the Lay Associates. Index.
Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance
The Cistercians and Trappists
THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LAY CISTERCIAN COMMUNITIES
Cistercian Studies Quarterly
Professor of History, Hillsdale College
Rancho Santa Fe, CA
Monday, July 12, 2010
Last week I went to Tatami for lunch with my mother. The restaurant is run by Koreans and a lot of the patrons are Koreans. There was a cute little Korean toddler there -- maybe the same age as my nephew?
Today we went to 101 Dim Sum in Fremont for dinner, since it was Mr. PW's birthday. The food there is ok, but I wouldn't drive there just for Chinese food. At the table next to us was a little boy, maybe a toddler, but he seemed more experienced playing with his father's phone (data device?), so maybe he is a bit older than my nephew. He reminded me of my nephew though, but he didn't look Cantonese. He looked more Northern...
I am always puzzled by folks like Sempronious who are for monarchy and established church, or aristocracy. Exactly where are you going to get that monarch? You cannot be for monarchy in general, only for a particular royal line. The last legitimate monarch in the English-speaking world lost his head long ago. Do you want the tacky little Germans and Danes who now uselessly drain the British? The Russian, Austrian, or Spanish claimants?
America was not founded by a monarchy or a central state of any kind. It was founded by brave, independent men—mostly younger sons of the gentry and yeomen—who risked their own capital and lives to settle a continent. The fall begins when they are replaced by the flotsam and jetsom and rejected authoritarians, revolutionaries, and socialists of Europe from the 1840s onward.
Related: A New Monastery: Our Lady of the Cenacle - Vultus Christi
CMAA Sacred Music Colloquium 2010: What Is Liturgical Theology?: The Rev. Mark Daniel Kirby, OSB
The post–Technology Age workforce can produce more in less time, reduce its carbon footprint and allow employees to have (and, no, we're not joking) a personal life
by Leilani Clark
(h/t Post Carbon Institute)
New Economic Foundation
The Art of Being Minimalist: How to Stop Consuming and Start Living
Far Beyond the Stars
Interview with Everett Bogue: How to Pursue the Reality You Imagine Yourself Living
Juliet B. Schor is a member of the BC faculty? I may have seen her before.
Juliet B. Schor: "Plenitude" | The Diane Rehm Show from WAMU and NPR
But it was Amerio's conviction – and Radaelli explains this well in his extensive afterword to "Zibaldone" – that this protection guaranteed to the Church by Christ applies only to "ex cathedra" dogmatic definitions of the magisterium, not to the uncertain, fleeting, debatable "pastoral" teachings of Vatican Council II and of the following decades.I suspect Amerio does not think infallibility is limited to ex cathedra definitions.
The result, according to Amerio and Radaelli, is that Vatican Council II is full of vague, equivocal assertions that can be interpreted in different ways, some of them even in definite contrast with the previous magisterium of the Church.
And this ambiguous pastoral language is believed to have paved the way for a Church that today is "overrun by thousands of doctrines and hundreds of thousands of nefarious customs." Including in art, music, liturgy.
What should be done to remedy this disaster? Radaelli's proposal goes beyond the one made recently – on the basis of equally harsh critical judgments – by another respected scholar of the Catholic tradition, Thomist theologian Brunero Gherardini, 85, canon of the basilica of Saint Peter, professor emeritus of the Pontifical Lateran University, and director of the magazine "Divinitas."
Monsignor Gherardini advanced his proposal in a book released in Rome last year, entitled: "Concilio Ecumenico Vaticano II. Un discorso da fare."
The book concludes with a "Plea to the Holy Father." He is asked to have the documents of the Council reexamined, in order to clarify once and for all "if, in what sense, and to what extent" Vatican II is or is not in continuity with the previous magisterium of the Church.
Gherardini's book is introduced by two prefaces: one by Albert Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo and former secretary of the Vatican congregation for divine worship, and the other by Mario Olivieri, bishop of Savona. The latter writes that he joins "toto corde" in the plea to the Holy Father.
So then, in his afterword to "Zibaldone" by Romano Amerio, Professor Radaelli welcomes Monsignor Gherardini's proposal, but "only as a helpful first step in purifying the air from many, too many misunderstandings."
Clarifying the meaning of the conciliar documents, in fact, is not enough in Radaelli's judgment, if such a clarification is then offered to the Church with the same ineffective style of pastoral "teaching" that entered into use with the council, suggestive rather than imperative.
If the abandoning of the principle of authority and "discussionism" are the illness of the conciliar and postconciliar Church, getting out of it – Radaelli writes – requires doing the opposite. The upper hierarchy of the Church must close the discussion with a dogmatic proclamation "ex cathedra," infallible and obligatory. It must strike with anathema those who do not obey, and bless those who obey.
And what does Radaelli expect the supreme cathedra of the Church to decree? Just like Amerio, he is convinced that in at least three cases there has been "an abysmal rupture of continuity" between Vatican II and the previous magisterium: where the council affirms that the Church of Christ "subsists in" the Catholic Church instead of saying that it "is" the Catholic Church; where it asserts that "Christians worship the same God worshiped by the Jews and Muslims"; and in the declaration on religious freedom "Dignitatis Humanae."
In Benedict XVI, both Gherardini and Amerio-Radaelli see a friendly pope. But there is no chance that he will grant their requests.
On the contrary, both on the whole and on some controversial points pope Joseph Ratzinger has already made it known that he does not at all share their positions.
For example, in the summer of 2007 the congregation for the doctrine of the faith made a statement on the continuity of meaning between the formulas "is" and "subsists in," affirming that "the Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change [the previous doctrine on the Church], rather it developed, deepened and more fully explained it."
As for the declaration on religious freedom "Dignitatis Humanae," Benedict XVI himself has explained that, if it departed from previous "contingent" indications of the magisterium, it did so precisely to "recover the deepest patrimony of the Church."
The article reminds me something over at Rorate Caeli, a comment by Bishop Williamson on the current discussions between the SSPX and Rome: How the talks are going.
(source of picture)
SF Gate: The Bay Area needs to act like a city-state (via John Robb)
Mr. Saffo's proposal to save the Bay Area from Sacramento.
What is the relationship between self-identity and social cohesion? Is it possible for the former to be present while the latter is nonetheless lacking? I think so. I think the author
It is clear that Sacramento can't solve California's problems. It is also clear that California's voters are unwilling to force real change, preferring merely to add to the state's thicket of ruinous, gridlock-inducing initiatives. Meanwhile, the mess in Sacramento is threatening the Bay Area's economic future.
That is why the Bay Area needs to start thinking like a city-state. In an age when nations have become so large that their citizens no longer identify with distant governments, city-states are political units large enough to have a global economic impact but small enough for even the most casual citizen to understand the relationships that make their city-state work. Politicians are local and thus more inclined to pragmatism and constructive action. Businesses understand that their fortunes are tied to the success of the local community. This balance between effect and size and the tendency toward social cohesion make contemporary city-states like Singapore and Hong Kong bright spots in an uncertain global economy.
The Bay Area has all the qualities of a successful city-state. Consider geography: The Bay Area isn't an island like Singapore but, like Hong Kong, it is defined by a central bay and bordered by mountains. There are no "Welcome to the Bay Area" signs on our highways, yet we all know where we leave the rest of California and enter the Bay Area.
Successful city-states have outsize economies compared to their neighbors'. If the Bay Area were to secede from California, it would instantly become the world's 25th largest economy, ahead of Austria, Taiwan, Greece and Denmark.
City-states have global business reputations. Singapore is synonymous with pragmatic corruption-free business; Hong Kong is famous for its trading savvy. The Bay Area is the global model for innovation and entrepreneurship, a fact underscored by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's recent pilgrimage to Silicon Valley in search of new ideas. The Bay Area has launched industries from personal computing and digital media to biotech, and is home to more fast-growing companies than anywhere else in the United States.
City-states have distinct identities. The Bay Area is at once diverse and socially cohesive, with a strong sense of self-identity. Residents may joke about the Bay to Breakers or the latest resolution passed by the People's Republic of Berkeley, but they are also quick to explain to outsiders why the Bay Area is so special. This cohesion can be the basis of an all-important common ground, missing elsewhere in California as the Bay Area faces up to the coming economic challenges.
City-states have pragmatic governments. Pragmatism grows up from the local level, where decisionmakers witness the consequences of their decisions in their own backyards. Bay Area cities may be in considerable pain, but cities like San Jose started facing up to their problems years before Sacramento got serious, and towns like San Carlos have been proactive in attempts to re-engineer services (the city recently outsourced its police department). The Bay Area might not resemble Singapore with its highly disciplined government ministries, but our local governmental bodies have shown remarkable foresight in creating regional bodies like BART, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to achieve pragmatic long-term goals. City-states also have awkward relationships with their neighbors. Malaysia still resents Singapore's independence and success, and Hong Kong citizens regularly oppose policies imposed on it by Beijing's central government. The Bay Area hasn't experienced this sort of tension with Sacramento, or other California regions, but it is time to do so. Tension would signal that the Bay Area is finally acting as a single body when it comes to looking out for its vital interests.
As a city-state, the Bay Area needs to remind our representatives in Sacramento that they represent us, not the entire state, much less a political party. Our local politicians also need to make themselves heard directly in Sacramento and Washington as Bay Area voices and not merely as representatives of local cities. And Bay Area business, academic and cultural leaders need to do the same.
misjudges the social cohesion he sees; it is more fragile than he thinks. What self-identity there is may suffice for a modern liberal state that is able to promote atomization because of an abundance of cheap energy. But it doesn't suffice for a true community, and cultural diversity (not necessarily ethnic diversity, if different peoples are unified by a common culture) is antagonistic to the building up of community.
Some notes on size and community:
Polities that are too big and lacking meaningful subgroups destroy social context; people need to be "situated" in order to exercise moral agency well. (For more on the limits of size, see Kohr, Schumacher, and Sale.)
The formal cause of a community: its culture, in particular its laws and customs? The bonds of civic friendship which unite the members to one another? What else orders the community to the common good? Can there be more than one formal cause of a thing? It seems not, as this would mean that there is not really one thing. A community cannot have two formal causes--if it did, then it is not an integral whole, but a combination of disparate parts which is united by some external element.