"Environmentalism, which in its raw, early form had no time for the encrusted, seized-up politics of left and right, has been sucked into the yawning, bottomless chasm of the 'progressive' left." A personal, twenty-year journey through the world’s wild places and the movements to protect them is also, for Paul Kingsnorth, an education in the limits of a project that has forgotten nature and lost its soul.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
But the idea that there’s no connection between nativism and assimilationism seems … strange. Consider, for instance, the way the debate over Catholic immigration to the United States played out. Yes, you did have nativists who thought that the Irish (and Italians, and Slavs) were too racially inferior to ever become Americans. But the anti-Catholic case was ideological and cultural (think “rum, romanism and rebellion”) as often as it was racist, and assimilationist as often as it was strictly exclusionist, and the two tendencies consistently overlapped. Many nativists moved back and forth between arguing that Catholic immigrants would have particular difficulty adapting to American norms because they’d been brought up in an inherently despotic religious culture, and arguing that Catholic immigrants would make excellent Americans — but only once they escaped the malign influence of priests and nuns and popes. The great Catholic-versus-nativist flashpoint in the late 19th century was public education: Whether it should be explicitly Protestant, whether public dollars should flow to Catholic schools, etc. And most of the rhetorical and intellectual work that American Catholics did to reconcile their faith with American democracy — which would eventually produce the hyper-patriotism of the mid-20th century American church — was an explicit response to the nativist-but-also-assimilationist demand that Catholics either Americanize or depart.
(It’s also important to note that the ideological critique of Catholic immigration wasn’t necessarily crazy. The 19th-century Vatican really did have a very public problem with liberalism and democracy, and it wasn’t unreasonable for Protestant Americans to worry about Catholicism’s ability to conform itself to democratic pluralism. The parallel to the debate over Islam today should be obvious: It’s foolish and bigoted to suggest that Muslims can’t be good Americans, but it isn’t unreasonable to suggest that American Muslim leaders, like Catholic prelates before them, have a particular obligation to embrace the separation of church and state, to distance themselves from Islamist currents overseas — rather than, say, endorsing the basic premises of the Iranian theocracy — and so on.)
Where's the Southern perspective to act as a corrective? Was there more to American nativism than history books might suggest? Were there vested interests backing it? The problem with Mr. Douthat's analysis here is that he looks at generalizations and reifies them, instead of looking at the moral and political principles involved, and to present an overview of the different contemporary viewpoints on the matter. While granting that "obviously no columnist’s conceit is going to capture all of the complexities of American history," Douthat still strains to establish that there is a connection between nativism and assimilationism. If supporters of certain laws or policies have different reasons for supporting those laws then does it make any sense to lump them all together into one movement and claim that the movement has different tendencies? Even if this might be acceptable within limits for the sake of history, does it tell us how to proceed with respect to the Muslim question? Not at all, unless you already share his liberal assumptions that govern his analysis and answer.
There’s been a lot of criticism of my column’s suggestion that the idea of America as a distinctive culture — English-speaking, Anglo-Saxon and/or Western, Protestant and then “Judeo-Christian” — has driven both a positive assimilationism and a darker nativism over the years, and indeed that these two impulses are often intertwined.
In that previous column he contrasts the a "traditional" conception of the United States, one that is founded upon its culture, with the conception of the proposition nation. (And to limit the proposition nation viewpoint simply to allegiance to the Constitution might be too narrow, I think. Moreover, how is the Constitution understood?) I suspect traditional conservatives (and antebellum Southerners) have notion of assimilation that differs from the Yankee nativism of the 19th century. Mr. Douthat is doing traditional conservatism no favors when he claims, "But both understandings of this country have real wisdom to offer, and both have been necessary to the American experiment’s success," but fails to offer a better account of what Americans believed about their culture and identity. Lumping different groups of conservatives who voice a negative opinion about Islam or Muslim immigration together with the nativists is the sort of simplistic and ultimately useless gloss one should expect from a MSM source, but Mr. Douthat should know better, especially if he prides himself on being "conservative." Or is it more important to continue churning out these all-too-brief columns for the sake of keeping his living and position at the NY Times? It may even seem to be more of an appeal to his readers to accept that he is the principled "conservative" while other conservatives are just bigots. Self-absorbed shaming of others, rather than a thorough inquiry into the moral questions. One would think that liberals who bother to read his column would feel justified in dismissing cultural/social conservatism after reading his latest.
(Did democratic pluralism really exist in the late 19th and early 20th century? Or was it already subordinated to a national identity that had its purpose the preservation of a certain kind of political economy? And might it be that some were already aware that Catholicism was not opposed to its adherents coexisting in a pluralistic society, but that it offered objections to the justice of that political economy?)
There were large icons of our Lord and the Theotokos set up near the communion rail. Several members of St. Basil's parish were present to chant -- the liturgy was mostly in English, though there was a bit of Church Slavonic before communion. Fr. Mickey concelebrated -- he is biritual (Roman and which Byzantine rite?) and one of my mother's (many) favorite priests. The pastor of OLP concelebrated, along with one of the elderly priests who often celebrates Mass there. I didn't recognize the deacon or the gentleman carrying the crucifix. (He had an accent -- I heard him talking at the reception. Australian maybe?)
The liturgy, including the veneration of the cross and icon of the Dormition, was about 2 hours and 15 minutes -- I stood the whole time and wouldn't have minded it, if my back hadn't been bothering me. It's been a while since I've attending a Byzantine-rite Divine Liturgy, and I've missed participating in one. As I haven't been able to go down to St. Basil so far, I decided this would be the best opportunity for me to do so and to celebrate the anniversary of Fr. Anthony's ordination.
One's judgments and reasoning can be affected by being put in a place of power, but not because his brain or his intellect have been changed, but because the will that moves the intellect is disordered.
Recognizing that one may have suppressed anger in the past because it wasn't "nice" makes one second-guess one's lack of action in the past, or being silent when some sort of rebuke might be appropriate. Ah yes, "fraternal correction" might be a more temperate response. The salvation of souls should be paramount and those who threaten the salvation of others (and thus their own) should be warned. Should a few things be said to the cardinal archbishop of Boston as well? In order to "rehabilitiate" anger as a healthy emotion and to learn what to do in such situations, I would need direction from someone who has true prudence, along with courage and true meekness, not someone who is merely "nice." Prudence is not the same as undue or exaggerated fear of the consequences of one's actions, and there may be more important things than pursuing an academic career, such as one's own honor and integrity.
To the dissenters: ordination is reserved for men only? You could have fooled me, since we have plenty of bishops and priests who are women. If shaming language is not appropriate in this case, then when?
Maybe I should get more sleep. Judging others in authority always carries a risk, but those who are subject to that authority eventually weary of perceived inaction, indecisiveness, and lack of fortitude. Even natural fathers may find that it is necessary to admonish and discipline their children for their sake. If you are going to let them "go their own way" at least inform them that they have done so by excommunicating them, instead of doing nothing and validating their "Catholicity."
Thursday, August 19, 2010
I have no doubt that many of these events will be shown on EWTN. No visit to Brompton Oratory? If only liturgy at Westminster Cathedral were ad orientem.
Something to ponder: On Martyrdom.
something to supplement this earlier post: How-To: Proper Plank Technique.
Workout of the Week (WOW)
How-To: Proper Overhead Press Technique
How-To: Proper Squat Technique
How-To: Proper Pullup/Chinup Technique
How-To: Proper Pushup Technique
Introducing Primal Blueprint Fitness
Let us begin with the more obvious exercise in stupidity, the notion that the First Amendment to the Constitution of 1787 grants a blanket freedom of religion to be enforced by the Federal government. Anyone who got through second grade by now is aware that it is not the First Amendment that is in play but the 14th, which was passed illegally for the purpose of giving civil rights (primarily involving contracts and wills) to former slaves. Only the tortured metaphysics and imbecility of federal judges–no exceptions alive today that I know of-could twist this into anything relevant to the current case. The purpose of the First Amendment was to prevent power-crazed national politicians from imposing their religious views on the rest of us in the states.
This serves to underscore the necessity to inquire and understand how terms are used by the speaker instead of making a guess based on our assumptions. This is a very important lesson of logic, particularly when we are engaged in an discussion with someone else, but it is also needed for the correct reading of texts. It also underscores the need for a "living tradition" with some sort of authority to explain how texts should be understood when the texts themselves do not supply definitions for the terms that it uses.
The E Pluribus Unum Project at Assumption College (which seems intent on promoting a national identity, despite a seeming openness to different answers to the questions posed on the homepage).
Bradley Project final report -- an endorsement of the proposition nation.
I discovered Sex at Dawn on Twitter—where the cyber-hunter/gatherers meet and feast on each other’s tweets—thanks to Bonobo Handshake author Vanessa Woods (a previous guest on The Dr. Susan Block Show). It’s appropriate that our kissin’ cousins the bonobos led me, swinging from Twitter tree to tree, to Sex at Dawn. In fact, the bonobos themselves, as well as the Bonobo Way of peace through pleasure, all but embody Ryan and Jethá’s concept of a prehistoric human forager community where “fierce egalitarianism” once ruled, war was virtually unknown, paternity was not an issue and possessiveness was not a problem—after all, what is there to possess when you’re always on the move and U-hauls haven’t been invented?
Most otherwise topnotch evolutionary psychologists, primatologists and anthropologists—like Drs. Helen Fisher, David Buss, Frans de Waal, Owen Lovejoy, Matt Ridley, Steven Pinker, Robert Wright and such notables—come up with flip, vague or convoluted ways to explain away unpopular evidence. They seem to be trying to squeeze the square peg of monogamy into the round hole of humanity. Ryan and Jethá have chosen a more well-rounded term to characterize the essence of human sexuality as practiced by our prehistoric progenitors: promiscuity.
That’s a loaded word in common parlance, but when Ryan and Jethá say “promiscuous,” they don’t mean reckless, uncaring, libertine screwing around. Rather they impart the sense of its Latin root, “miscere,” which means “to mix,” implying that our ancestors enjoyed what biologist Alan F. Dickson called “multi-male/multi-female mating systems,” involving ongoing erotic, caring relationships with a mix of selected members of their close-knit tribe. I imagine this promiscuity could take many different forms; perhaps one approach might involve serial romances with three or four partners at any given time, erotic skin-to-skin encounters with several others and an orgy around the fire every Saturday night. Sound like fun to you?
The ambassador outlines the various elements that distinguish Japanese religiosity from Christianity. Are these insurmountable intellectual and cultural obstacles to evangelization? Do they have to be broken down by consumerism, worldliness, and an acquisition of the sense of sin before missionaries can be effective?
I do wonder though how big of a role Buddhist nihilism plays in the practical reasoning of the average Japanese. I can't shake the impression that much of Japanese religiosity (especially with respect to nature) is "superficial" in the sense that it has no deep connection to their ultimate end. It is more of a cultural or habitual practice similar to how "cultural Christians" in the West behave than a "religious" practice.
Mr. Poulos has been associated with not a few websites, it is difficult to keep track of them all. Ricochet.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
That presence is far from over. Scatterings of combat troops still await departure, and some 50,000 will stay another year in what is designated as a noncombat role. They will carry weapons to defend themselves and accompany Iraqi troops on missions (but only if asked). Special forces will continue to help Iraqis hunt for terrorists.
CNN: Last U.S. combat convoy has left Iraq
I should have attempted to brighten the photo before uploading it. Oh well.
One of the advantages of being underemployed is that I can attend events such as Dr. Bacevich's lecture in San Francisco last week. Young people have the excuse that they are working for not attending. But what if they weren't? There was one Asian in his 30s or 40s. The rest were 50 or above -- lots of seniors. By the time the room filled up, there were may be 3 or 4 people under the age of 30. (Including several Asian women.)
Looking at the elderly surrounding me, I was struck with the thought that they should be respected because they have at least more experience, if not actual wisdom. Conversing with the old is one of the simple joys of life. They probably can also teach some us useful things, even if they are unable to guide us in living. (This may not be the case with those who come after the Boomers, as we continue to lose practical skills.)
It's funny, both the Commonwealth Club and the WAC had posters advertising trips and cruises. I suppose such travel services target the senior citizens who frequent their events?
Dr. Bacevich was introduced by Ralph Kuiper, who told us about the WAC's weekly radio broadcast on KQED on Monday. He then told us to check the audio and video archive at the WAC's website. I learned that Professor Bacevich received his PhD from Princeton in American Diplomatic History. I also noted the WAC branding present on the wall hanging behind the stage. It's something everyone who has the money does these days when they filming speakers.
The good professor wanted to spend 18 to 20 minutes summarizing the argument of his most recent book, Washington Rules. The rest of the time would be devoted to answering questions from the audience. He started off by asking two questions: "Why are we in Afghanistan?" and "Why were we in Vietnam?" (the latter being an important question for his generation, especially since he was a soldier in Vietnam). There is a single answer to both questions: Washington adheres to the National Security Consensus or pattern of behavior that no longer works. These are the Washington Rules. Bacevich belives that alternatives do exist to the status quo.
Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- Embattled radio talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger announced Tuesday she will not renew her contract that is up at the end of the year, telling CNN's "Larry King Live" she wants to "regain my First Amendment rights."
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin’s First District, one of the smartest men in politics insofar as I can tell, goes around touting his brilliantly conceived free-market, limited-government approach called Roadmap for America’s Future. Whose main defect appears to be that in facilitating economic recovery it would change the ways Americans interface with federal social programs and the tax system that supports them. The prospect of that seems to disturb colleagues; thus … well, hear out Bacon: “[M]any Republican colleagues … even as they praise Ryan for his doggedness, privately consider the Roadmap a path to electoral disaster.”His website. His campaign site.
From this thread, a hack to achieve it simply.
No time to try any of them out, need to finish some posts...
Edit. Found the official Blogger how-to page... I guess I should enable the new post editor.
If reports about the problems with the Mk16 are accurate, then what is the US Special Operations Command thinking? Another instance of the MIC at work? FN Herstal is a Belgian company, but production of the SCAR would be on US soil?
Would our soldiers be better off using M4s, as they continue to be modified through further innovations, until someone creates the next-generation US combat rifle?
On August 17, Bloomberg reported a US government release that industrial production rose twice as much as forecast, climbing 1 percent. Bloomberg interpreted this to mean that “increased business investment is propelling the gains in manufacturing, which accounts for 11 percent of the world’s largest economy.”
The stock market rose.
Let’s look at this through the lens of statistician John Williams of shadowstats.com.
Williams reports that “the primary driver of a 1.0% monthly gain in seasonally-adjusted July industrial production” was “warped seasonal factors” caused by “the irregular patterns in U.S. auto production in the last two years.” Industrial production “shrank by 1.0% before seasonal adjustments.”
If the government and Bloomberg had announced that industrial production fell by 1.0% in July, would the stock market have risen 104 points on August 17?
Notice that Bloomberg reports that manufacturing accounts for 11 percent of the US economy. I remember when manufacturing accounted for 18% of the US economy. The decline of 39% is due to jobs offshoring.
Think about that. Wall Street and shareholders and executives of transnational corporations have made billions by moving 39% of US manufacturing offshore to boost the GDP and employment of foreign countries, such as China, while impoverishing their former American work force. Congress and the economics profession have cheered this on as “the New Economy.”
Bought-and-paid-for-economists told us that “the new economy” would make us all rich, and so did the financial press. We were well rid, they claimed, of the “old” industries and manufactures, the departure of which destroyed the tax base of so many American cities and states and the livelihood of millions of Americans.
The bought-and-paid-for-economists got all the media forums for a decade. While they lied, the US economy died.
Not until I was well into writing my new book, Holy Shit: Managing Manure To Save Mankind, which is about how to manage manure for soil enrichment, did I realize that cats, dogs and horses are a very significant source of valuable fertilizer that we are mostly throwing away. Or, as our friends’ cat, Django, indicates in the photo above, flushing it down the toilet.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Some were expecting more from Neil Marshall, given his early work; others think it is just another chase movie. Eager for any decent swords-and-sandals movie, I found the movie satisfying for the most part, but the final showdown was a disappointment. (Not enough survivors for a better action sequence.) Spoiler alert! The ending is somewhat similiar to that of Marhsall's last movie, Doomsday. I'd have to say that the movie fizzled towards the end.
Confessions of a recovering environmentalist (original)
Robert Costanza is professor of ecological economics at the University of Vermont and director of the Gund Institute of Ecological Economics. He talks about the things most economists overlook, like the fact that growth can't continue forever on a finite planet, and the ways our well-being is not connected with how much money we have.The Transition of Appalachia
The dilemma of poverty in the South: equity or transformation
The gulf at the gas station: Can we calculate the true cost of our dependence on oil?
The failure of networked systems: The repercussions of systematic risk revisited
Of course we are right to love our own people more than others and to wish to preserve our people and its traditions. Race is a murky concept, as MAR points out, though it is pretty clear cut compared with ethnicity and nationality. To take the example of Finland, the ruling elite of Finland is thoroughly penetrated by Swedes, while the ruling elite of Sweden has a strong German element. But even Hitler was aware that the German nation was not really a race or a pure group. A nation, in the nationalist sense, includes shared ancestry but also a good deal of fictional ancestry, as well as a sense of tradition, attachment to place.
Such attachments are not always strong enough to survive conquest and subjugation, though sometimes they are remarkably resilient. The Old Testament bears witness to the tenacity, indeed the ferocity of the Jews’ belief in their own superiority and their attachment to their land–though it is conveniently quiet about the fact that most Jews did not return from their captivities. And thre is not a word in the New Testament which, correctly interpreted without guile or malice, that can be used to support the universalists’ contempt for nationality or ethnicity, and I challenge anyone who thinks otherwise to make his case. If it is the usual irrelevant lies about neither Greek nor Jew, I am afraid I shall have to be more severe than I should like to be.
One of the most striking things about the Gospels, especially John’s, is the Galileean origins and attachments of Christ and the eleven faithful apostles. Judas, aptly named, is the one Judaean Jew. Even after crucifixion and death, Jesus is barely risen before he precedes the apostles back to Galilee. Judaea is a terrible place today and it was probably not much better 2000 years ago, while Galilee is well-watered with orchards and pastures. The whole area around the Sea of Galilee is like paradise compared with the rest of the country, and I do not think I am too far off in seeing the Christ’s attachment to his home country–though he was despised and rejected partly for his origins in a region only recently Judaeized– as a model for the rest of us. Our goal, then, working together is to refute the universalist Enlightenment/neopagan heresies that have been injected into Christianity by its enemies.
(via Alt Right)
Moreno acknowledged that race preferences are controversial. But he pointed out that it was not the court’s job to decide if they were good or bad—only to decide whether the proposition that banned them was constitutional. In deciding that it was not constitutional, he relied on an obscure set of US Supreme Court precedents that have come to be known as the "political structure doctrine." Like the concept of "disparate impact" , it was conjured up out of the Constitution as part of the tortured jurisprudence on race that goes back at least to the Brown decision of 1954.
Revisiting David Stove's Infamous Essay
Taking a very pedestrian example from current events, consider the dearth of women in physics and engineering. Academia, being what it is, considers this evidence of a vast world-wide conspiracy of invisible men who are diabolically conspiring to keep women from succeeding in the hard sciences. If you're a working academic in one of these fields, you will engage in ritual Maoist witch hunts, looking for sexist oppressors. There is approximately zero evidence for this conspiracy theory, yet it is unquestioned by hard nosed savants who allegedly fear no ghosts. Some of these true believers doubtless understand the concepts of "mean" and "standard deviation," and may even be aware of the fact that men have both a higher mean intelligence, and a much higher standard deviation in intelligence distribution; in particular in the areas of intelligence which pertain to these professions. With these two facts, the conspiracy theory evaporates: there are more male scientists and engineers because there are more males who are capable of doing the work. Virtually nobody is willing to say this, despite it being completely obvious to anyone not equipped with an academic sinecure.
The desire of women for a mate who is more "intelligent" is part of their hypergamous instinct even if some claim that it is not prevalent among American women today. (Some argue that nerds and intellectuals are avoided by women because intelligence is associated with low testosterone/lack of masculinity.) If this desire were to be universal and to be fulfilled, wouldn't we expect the male curve to be skewed towards the right relative to the female curve?
But raw intelligence or "scientific" intelligence may not be identical to what is needed for good practical reasoning, and it seems that is good practical reasoning that is needed first of all in the one who has authority in a household. Differences in the power of the imagination and how it is used may account for some differences in ability (imagining spatial relationships --> sense of direction and geometry, or abstraction + math --> modern physical sciences).
Differences in the structures of male and female brains may be related to differences in the sense powers, and differences in the sense powers may have an impact on our abilities to understand and reason. Some look to abstraction being necessary for thinking about questions of justice; we are aware how emotional attachment can lead to bias or partiality. Is it emotional "attachment" that influences our reasoning (and conversely, emotional detachment that promotes abstract considerations of justice), or is there some other interaction between emotion and reason that can explain sex differences in practical reasoning (if such exist)?
But why should anyone want to cut the U.S. military budget?
One reason is that—with $549 billion requested for basic military expenditures and another $159 billion requested for U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—the record $708 billion military spending called for by the Obama administration for fiscal 2011 will be nearly equivalent to the military spending of all other nations in the world combined. When it comes to military appropriations, the U.S. government already spends about seven times as much as China, thirteen times as much as Russia, and seventy-three times as much as Iran.
Is this really necessary? During the Cold War, the United States confronted far more dangerous and numerous military adversaries, including the Soviet Union. And the U.S. government certainly possessed an enormous and devastating military arsenal, as well as the armed forces that used it. But in those years, U.S. military spending accounted for only 26 percent of the world total. Today, as U.S. Congressman Barney Frank has observed, "we have fewer enemies and we're spending more money."
Where does this vast outlay of U.S. tax dollars—the greatest military appropriations in U.S. history—go? One place is to overseas U.S. military bases. According to Chalmers Johnson, a political scientist and former CIA consultant, as much as $250 billion per year is used to maintain some 865 U.S. military facilities in more than forty countries and overseas U.S. territories.
The money also goes to fund vast legions of private military contractors. A recent Pentagon report estimated that the Defense Department relies on 766,000 contractors at an annual cost of about $155 billion, and this figure does not include private intelligence organizations. A Washington Post study, which included all categories, estimated that the Defense Department employs 1.2 million private contractors.
Of course, enormously expensive air and naval weapons systems—often accompanied by huge cost over-runs—account for a substantial portion of the Pentagon's budget. But exactly who are these high tech, Cold War weapons to be used against? Certainly they have little value in a world threatened by terrorism. As Congressman Frank has remarked: "I don't think any terrorist has ever been shot by a nuclear submarine."
Furthermore, when bemoaning budget deficits, Americans should not forget the enormous price the United States has paid for its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the highly-respected National Priorities Project, their cost, so far, amounts to $1.06 trillion. (For those readers who are unaccustomed to dealing with a trillion dollar budget, that's $1,060,000,000,000.)
Before self-professed conservatives and patriots say that we need to spend as much money as we currently do on the military, they should re-examine the purposes of our military and what we actually need to adequately defend the United States. Only yesterday did I read again at the TAC blog the silly proclamation that we need to fight them over there so that we don't have to fight them over here. That's a justification for perpetual war. And they wonder why those who are in the military, or who have served in the military like Andrew Bacevich, might be a little bit upset?
Fabius Maximus: About the legacy of SecDef Gates (and his rumored departure)
Robert Gates confirms plans to leave office in 2011
Related: Traditional Vocations Blog
Stile Antico: Old-School A Cappella in Boston (features audio of their concert for the BEMF)
Also via Jeffrey Tucker, a video about Abbaye Notre Dame de Fontgombault.
Something I found through Google:
I think Dr. Cavadini's assessment of the impact of Ex Corde Ecclesiae on large Catholic colleges and universities is about right. Such documents only have teeth if there are bishops who are willing to enforce them.
[U]niversities begin to deal with the problem of how to be both academically credible and Catholic by vesting their Catholic identity in programming that, while certainly an essential part of the Catholic agenda, is actually present in almost any university of top quality. A focus on ethics? on social justice? on educating the whole person? What good university would eschew any of these, and in fact, not feature them? Language about social justice works its way into our mission statements, but language about witnessing to the truth of the Gospel does not, unless it is equated with the former. We seem to accept the going paradigm of academic excellence, and subordinate the "distinctive" element to that. But aren't we then selling ourselves short? Have we really made much progress?
On the other hand, for me, the mere statement of an ideal is already a lot of progress. And it is not surprising if it takes a generation to begin to move towards the cultural renewal that ideals call us to. Can we learn to "live into" this ideal? What does the language of "faith seeking understanding" mean when applied not only to a theology department but to the whole Catholic intellectual endeavor (see section 5)? Are we humble enough to admit we may not know, and to begin seeking? Of the "essential" characteristics of a Catholic university listed by Ex Corde (section 13), do we accept only no. 4, an institutional commitment to service, and not the other three? Including, "fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us from the Church?" Would that ever show up in a mission statement? Can we take responsibility for seeking the "integration" of knowledge (see section 16), and not settle simply for "inter-disciplinarity," essential (section 20) but not the same? The apostolic exhortationl, incidentally, only asks for the quest for integration, and not for a settled achievement. Do we regard the relationship with the Church as "essential" to our identities (section 27)? Would the language of section 49 ever find its way into a mission statement?: "By its very nature, each Catholic University ... is a living institutional witness to Christ and his message, so vitally important in cultures marked by secularism ..." And, most importantly, do we reserve the adjudication of how well we are doing on meeting the ideal only to ourselves and not to the Church?
Exclusive focus on the mandatum, at the expense of asking these and similar questions, made us feel that we knew what the answers to these questions were. We knew what "witness to Christ" meant -- it was either social justice, or else too parochial an idea to make it in the mainstream of American academia. Should we really give up that easily? Isn't it not only our responsibility but our strength to find a way to preserve phrases like this from lapsing either into fundamentalism, or to blending in with secularism? Isn't that our job?
For example, have we really fully contemplated what the ideal of the "preferential option for the poor" means? This cannot be reduced merely to a theory of social justice, or simply to the language of justice, apart from reference to the Word of God and to God's love, for the preferential option for the poor is not a statement, in the first instance, about the poor, but about God's gratuitous love. Is it really so foreign to a university to accept this "preference," which is received through submission to the Word of God and in deference to the magisterium which serves the Word of God, as a starting point? It is not reducible to a secular agenda, but would provide "a living institutional witness to Christ and his message," as theological reflection unfolds the connection to human dignity, to the sanctity of life, and the nature of God, and as the other disciplines can be informed by this ideal as appropriate. Nor is it reducible to a fundamentalist agenda, because it is a "starting point in faith" (initium fidei), the beginning of "seeking to understand," and does not use faith as a self-sufficient end point.
It may not be a self-sufficient end point for rational or scientific inquiry, but it is an important part of the life of the students that needs to be cultivated and fostered, not undermined through overt and covert attacks. Fr. Cavadini is optimistic; I am not, and I think it is too late for most Catholic colleges and universities to change. They have made plans for the future with the same economic assumptions that other large institutions have used. (Perpetual growth, cheap energy, and so on.)
As for the Church in the 21st Century document -- I may have seen this before, or some version of it. It's nice and vague, and acknowledges that Catholic universities should be ordered towards the good of the intellect and the will. But does it really take the Magisterium seriously? Or Catholic teaching on faith and morals? When you look at Boston College, for example, and how the students live their lives and how the administration and faculty fail to give them guidance, can you take such a document seriously? I don't see anything but institutional failure.
Those who would presume to have the care of souls, even if in a limited respect, should be careful lest they lead the little ones astray.
By Jeff Riggenbach
It seems to me that none of the major players was totally in the right during the English Civil War. Who was the representative of republican thought?
Monday, August 16, 2010
Islam and America: The President’s Fictitious History by Carson Holloway
I read somewhere that Steve Sailer claims that B. H. Obama could not relate to Europe and perceived himself to be an outsider? Is this how average African-Americans, even those who are practicing Christian and received their Christianity originally from white people, would also feel while spending time in Europe? If so, this would seem to show that race is as much a component of identity as culture, and that culture (religion & beliefs) and language are not enough.
How many white Americans feel comfortable in Europe? Or in the U.K. or the country from which their ancestors came? I would think that the percentage and absolute number is greater than it is for black Americans. The claim that there is a single culture and identity for Americans seems manifestly false. There are many different American cultures and identities, and it remains to be seen if harmony and peace can be maintained.
PJB, Culture Jihad
Edit. Jack Hunter, Beyond the Mosque
Leon Hadar, The Politics of Identity
Oz Conservative: Delusions of gender?
Theodore Dalrymple, Our Binge Drinking Culture is a Living Hell for Everyone
Franklin C. Spinney, How the Defense Industry is Hosing Obama and the Taxpayer ... Again
Paul Craig Roberts, The Ecstasy of Empire
Jayne Lyn Stahl, Petraeus Speaks
Ralph Nader, Hopes Dimming
Gareth Porter, Top Israeli Generals and Intel Officials Oppose Striking Iran
Shamus Cooke, Is Obama Playing With Nuclear Fire?
Daniel Robelo, Mexico Considers Legalizing Drugs
David Michael Green, Losing It at the White House
Education is a raging battleground for competing ideologies in South Korea. While open national debate or a neutral commission of experts would make most sense to resolve subjects from school autonomy to free lunches, to teachers' politics and the wielding of the "rod of love" for corporal punishment, it is more likely that the left and right will continue to thrash it out. - Aidan Foster-Carter
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is forecasting world oil demand will set a new record next year when is smashes through 2008’s pre-recession high – and warning that the “era of cheap oil is over.” According to the IEA’s latest Oil Market Report, published August 11, global demand will reach 86.6 million barrels per day in 2010, and then 87.9 million barrels per day in 2011, assuming a continuing global economic recovery. This means demand is set to pass the all-time high of 86.9 million barrels per day established in 2008 before the global economic downturn.
Of course, the figures assume that there will be continuing global economic recovery. Will this be the case?
And something from Juliet Schor: Rethinking scale and growth for a more sustainable world
Both for households and firms, shifting to sustainability opens up new possibilities, and intersects with ongoing changes in the economy. In Plenitude, I lay out a number of principles that should inform our thinking about how to solve the climate and eco-crises. These include re-thinking the question of scale, knowledge transmission, the role of informal economies and social capital, new consumer patterns, and the relation among productivity growth, output and hours of work.
How conservative is Wyoming? Wyoming Catholic College is in Wyoming. So is Yellowstone National Park. (2012!)
Micheli for Governor
This endorsement should be no surprise:
Sunday, August 15, 2010
I wasn't convinced by his arguments, but apparently Continuum believes there is a market for the book.
Also by Dr. Hull: The Proto-History of the Roman Liturgical Reform (alt)
An excerpt from Washington Rules.
Referring to George Kennan, J. William Fulbright, Christopher Lasch, and Martin Luther King, Professor Bacevich writes:
The essential credo to which each of these figures subscribed, a variant of the convictions first articulated by the Cultivating Our Own Garden Founders, deserves renewed consideration today. Its essence is simply this: America’s purpose is to be America, striving to fulfill the aspirations expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as reinterpreted with the passage of time and in light of hard-earned experience.
The proper aim of American statecraft, therefore, is not to redeem humankind or to prescribe some specific world order, nor to police the planet by force of arms. Its purpose is to permit Americans to avail themselves of the right of self-determination as they seek to create at home a “more perfect union.” Any policy impeding that enterprise -- as open-ended war surely does -- is misguided and pernicious.
By demonstrating the feasibility of creating a way of life based on humane, liberal values, the United States might help illuminate the path ahead for others who seek freedom. Or as Randolph Bourne once put it, “a turning within” is essential “in order that we may have something to give without.” Yet this “giving without” qualifies as an extra benefit -- a bonus or dividend -- not as the central purpose of American life.
In short, if the United States has a saving mission, it is, first and foremost, to save itself. In that regard, Dr. King’s list of evils may need a bit of tweaking. In our own day, the sins requiring expiation number more than three. Yet in his insistence that we first heal ourselves -- “Come home, America!” -- King remains today the prophet Americans would do well to heed.
A New Trinity
Here, too, there exists an alternative tradition to which Americans today could repair, should they choose to do so. This tradition harks back to the nearly forgotten anti-imperial origins of the Republic. Succinctly captured in the motto “Don’t Tread on Me,” this tradition is one that does not seek trouble but insists that others will accord the United States respect. Updated for our own time, it might translate into the following substitute for the existing sacred trinity.
First, the purpose of the U.S. military is not to combat evil or remake the world, but to defend the United States and its most vital interests. However necessary, military power itself is neither good nor inherently desirable. Any nation defining itself in terms of military might is well down the road to perdition, as earlier generations of Americans instinctively understood. As for military supremacy, the lessons of the past are quite clear. It is an illusion and its pursuit an invitation to mischief, if not disaster. Therefore, the United States should maintain only those forces required to accomplish the defense establishment’s core mission.
Second, the primary duty station of the American soldier is in America. Just as the U.S. military should not be a global police force, so too it should not be a global occupation force. Specific circumstances may from time to time require the United States on a temporary basis to establish a military presence abroad. Yet rather than defining the norm, Americans should view this prospect as a sharp departure, entailing public debate and prior congressional authorization. Dismantling the Pentagon’s sprawling network of existing bases promises to be a lengthy process. Priority should be given to those regions where the American presence costs the most while accomplishing the least. According to those criteria, U.S. troops should withdraw from the Persian Gulf and Central Asia forthwith.
Third, consistent with the Just War tradition, the United States should employ force only as a last resort and only in self-defense. The Bush Doctrine of preventive war -- the United States bestowing on itself the exclusive prerogative of employing force against ostensible threats even before they materialize—is a moral and strategic abomination, the very inverse of prudent and enlightened statecraft. Concocted by George W. Bush to justify his needless and misguided 2003 invasion of Iraq, this doctrine still awaits explicit abrogation by authorities in Washington. Never again should the United States undertake “a war of choice” informed by fantasies that violence provides a shortcut to resolving history’s complexities.
Were this alternative triad to become the basis for policy, dramatic changes in the U.S. national security posture would ensue. Military spending would decrease appreciably. The Pentagon’s global footprint would shrink. Weapons manufacturers would see their profits plummet. Beltway Bandits would close up shop. The ranks of defense- oriented think tanks would thin. These changes, in turn, would narrow the range of options available for employing force, obliging policy makers to exhibit greater restraint in intervening abroad. With resources currently devoted to rehabilitating Baghdad or Kabul freed up, the cause of rehabilitating Cleveland and Detroit might finally attract a following.
He summarizes this material in his WAC talk. His emphasis is on realism for foreign policy, and America setting its house in order. But is it too late? And does Professor Bacevich offer an adequate constitutional solution?
Andrew Bacevich, The Lessons of Endless War
Is a Draft the Answer?
There is also a third perspective, which blames the failures of Iraq and Afghanistan on a problematic relationship between soldiers and society. According to this view, the All-Volunteer Force itself is the problem. As the military historian Adrian Lewis observed, "The most significant transformation in the American conduct of war since World War II and the invention of the atomic bomb was not technological, but cultural, social, and political -- the removal of the American people from the conduct of war." Only after 9/11, with the Bush administration waging war on multiple fronts, have the implications of this transformation become fully evident.
A reliance on volunteer-professionals places a de facto cap on the army's overall size. The pool of willing recruits is necessarily limited. Given a choice, most young Americans will opt for opportunities other than military service, with protracted war diminishing rather than enhancing any collective propensity to volunteer. It is virtually inconceivable that any presidential call to the colors, however impassioned, any PR campaign, however cleverly designed, or any package of pay and bonuses, however generous, could reverse this disinclination.
Furthermore, to the extent that an army composed of regulars is no longer a people's army, the people have little say in its use. In effect, the professional military has become an extension of the imperial presidency. The troops fight when and where the commander in chief determines.
Finally, a reliance on professional soldiers eviscerates the concept of civic duty, relieving citizens at large of any obligation to contribute to the nation's defense. Ending the draft during the waning days of the Vietnam War did nothing to heal the divisions created by that conflict; instead, it ratified the separation of army from society. Like mowing lawns and bussing tables, fighting and perhaps dying to sustain the American way of life became something that Americans pay others to do.
So the third lesson of the Iraq War focuses on the need to repair the relationship between army and society. One way to do this is to junk the All-Volunteer Force altogether. Rather than rely on professionals, perhaps it makes sense to revive the tradition of the citizen-soldier.
Proposals to restore this hallowed tradition invariably conjure up images of reinstituting some form of conscription. In place of a system based on the principle of individual choice, those unhappy with the AVF advocate a system based on the principle of state compulsion.
The advantages offered by such a system are hardly trivial. To the extent that Iraq and Afghanistan have exposed the operational, political, and moral problems produced by relying on a small professional force, a draft seems to offer one obvious way to alleviate those problems.
For those who worry that the existing army is overextended, conscription provides a mechanism for expansion. Triple the size of the army -- in essence restoring the structure that existed during much of the Cold War -- and the personnel shortages that constrain the prosecution of ground campaigns will disappear. Sustaining the military commitment to Iraq for ten or twenty years, or even a century as Senator John McCain and many neoconservatives are willing to contemplate, then becomes a viable proposition.
War planners will no longer find themselves obliged to give short shrift to Contingency A (Afghanistan) in order to support Contingency B (Iraq). The concept of "surge" will take on a whole new meaning with the Pentagon able to dispatch not a measly 30,000 reinforcements to Iraq or another few thousand to Afghanistan, but 100,000 or more additional troops wherever they might be needed. Was the problem with Operation Iraqi Freedom too few "boots on the ground" for occupation and reconstruction? Reconstitute the draft, and that problem goes away.
Creating a mass army might even permit the United States to resuscitate the Weinberger-Powell Doctrine with its emphasis on "overwhelming force."
For those distressed by the absence of a politically meaningful antiwar movement despite the Iraq War's manifest unpopularity, the appeal of conscription differs somewhat. Some political activists look to an Iraq-era draft to do what the Vietnam-era draft did: animate large-scale protest, alter the political dynamic, and eventually shut down any conflict that lacks widespread popular support. The prospect of involuntary service will pry the kids out of the shopping malls and send them into the streets. It will prod the parents of draft-eligible offspring to see politics as something other than a mechanism for doling out entitlements. As a consequence, members of Congress keen to retain their seats will define their wartime responsibilities as something more than simply rubber-stamping spending bills proposed by the White House. In this way, a draft could reinvigorate American democracy, restore the governmental system of checks and balances, and constrain the warmongers inhabiting the executive branch.
For those moved by moral considerations, a draft promises to ensure a more equitable distribution of sacrifice in war time. No longer will rural Americans, people of color, recent immigrants, and members of the working class fill the ranks of the armed forces in disproportionate numbers. With conscription, the children of the political elite and of the well-to-do will once again bear their fair share of the load. Those reaping the benefits of the American way of life will contribute to its defense, helping to garrison the more distant precincts of empire. Perhaps even the editorial staffs of the Weekly Standard, National Review, and the New Republic might have the opportunity to serve, a salutary prospect given the propensity of those magazines to argue on behalf of military intervention.
Reconfigure the armed services to fight "small wars"; empower the generals; reconnect soldiering to citizenship -- on the surface each of these has a certain appeal. But upon closer examination, each also has large defects. They are the wrong lessons to take from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Andrew Bacevich And The Perpetual War Machine
Antiwar: Scott Horton Interviews Andrew Bacevich (mp3)
The updated one, produced by Mr. Moffat. From: Mr Cameron may need sharp elbows but the real middle classes never did:
I doubt Mr. Hitchens likes the updating of Shakespeare, but I haven't read anything written by him that confirms this. Sherlock will be shown on Masterpiece Theater/Mystery later this year (October 24-November 7).
I’ve tried to like the BBC’s 21st Century Sherlock Holmes. And I have to concede that the idea is clever and the choice of actors – especially Benedict Cumberbatch – is quite brilliant. But in the end it is wrong. While one or two people may be persuaded to go back to the books, most won’t. The TV version, if it succeeds, will become the accepted one.
The authentic detective will fade into obscurity, elbowed out of the way by a funky Dr Who figure – Sherlock Wholmes.
And this will be a terrible pity. Because those who still read the originals know that they are in fact works of imaginative genius, which cannot really be separated from the Victorian and Edwardian England in which they are set, in which any suburban villa could conceal a scandalous secret brought back from India, Australia or America. Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes is a far more interesting and drily witty person than any BBC scriptwriter could ever be or imagine.
Too many of Doyle’s works – Brigadier Gerard, Professor Challenger and the great historical novels, not to mention his marvellous short stories – have already been wrongly forgotten. We mustn’t let this happen to Sherlock as well.
Sherlock will be back for a second series BBC confirms.
A fan site.