Saturday, December 17, 2011

Meanwhile, in Mexico...

Fred Reed: The Exodus Begins

The Heart and the Fist

A book by Eric Greitens, who advertises himself as a SEAL. His interview on the Diane Rehm Show earlier this year. Charlie Rose and The Colbert Report. ABC.net.au and NPR.
Gary Snyder Show (mp3)



Does he justify American imperial forays in the name of humanitarianism? Does he represent Kaplan's "soldier-diplomat"? He wrote an essay for the Fall 2009 Phi Beta Kappa newsletter, The Key Reporter, in which he praises service-learning as a means of developing phronesis. I think he is wrong, because phronesis cannot be developed unless it is first within one's own community and in accordance with the order of charity. The dogmatic liberal do-gooder who loves all equally does not have phronesis, even if he may have misguided benevolence. A liberal arts education presupposes the proper moral development in a community, it does not lead to it. We can even see the proper moral development in the example of the Rwandans themselves, who act virtuously (or not) in their own communities and towards their own neighbors. They do not seek to improve themselves by going somewhere else and meddling in the affairs of others, the secular version of the Christian missionary who has left home in order to serve God first of all.

(Phi Beta Kappa is so Uhmerican in many ways. This is an organization which believes Martha Nussbaum is worthy of being honored, after all. Let the ivory tower fall down.)

Essay after the jump.
Someone linked to this in a discussion about alphas: The Atlantic, Vladimir Putin, Action Man

A random thought I had the other day - how appropriate would the study of the Rule of St. Benedict be for a class dealing with community life? It isn't a complete political treatise, but might it offer us moderns a look into what living with others requires?

Some bishops speak on immigration

Why do they make these political statements? They may claim that they are being pastoral, but they should clean house instead. (Even if they do it in the wrong way, how much more can traditionalists be excluded, ignored, or attacked? Oops, remembered Little Rock.) When the Church and the hierarchy is feminized what valuable reform to domestic and parish life can we really expect? Some may rightly draw attention to the bishops' failures to police their priests. But the crisis of leadership is bigger than that. (The "Mommy Church"?)

Reactions:
Hispanic bishops decry ‘disdain for immigrants,’ inaction on immigration reform

Zenit: US Bishops Write Letter to Hispanic Immigrants
the letter (PDF)

Catholic Culture:
Phil Lawler, Clarity, please, on illegal immigration and How Catholics might advance the debate on immigration
Toward a Realistic View of Society by Dr. Jeff Mirus

Crisis Magazine:
John Zmirak, Render Unto Caesar
Christopher Mannion, Is America Just a Protestant Botch?
Joseph A. Varicalli, Divided We Fall (reviewing Peter Brimelow!)


There's also a piece by Mark and Louise Zwick of Casa Juan Diego/the Houston Catholic Worker - Who Should Be Here?

One might infer that they hold to a liberal conception of universal benevolence based on their writings, but I have seen nothing explicit. I don't think there is very little with which an orthodox Catholic would disagree. But showing hospitality to strangers and foreigners does not entail giving them citizenship or increasing the size of the welfare state (which should be done away with). The same system that "forces" migration is also the cause of the welfare state, which is not sustainable. When the U.S. is ready to embrace a lower standard of living for everyone, how many will want to move here? And how many of those already here will return to their homelands instead?

Don 2

Don 2 will be playing at some of the local cinemas, including several of the AMCs. As I've remarked before, for some reason there is a bigger market for Indian movies at the local theaters than Chinese movies, even though the populations are comparable in numbers? Part of the explanation can be found in the Bloomberg article linked below. Here's the trailer:


And some MVs:



(making)



That's the free market at work, right? It's not as if the whole cinema is taken up with Bollywood films, just a screen or two. And can't multiculturalism and ethnic diversity be reflected in the market and consumption of mass entertainment? I'd watch the movie for Priyanka Chopra. And the consumption of ethnic mass media isn't sufficient in itself to produce ethnic affiliation/identity, right?

But it can be a means for such.

Excel Movies and Reliance Entertainment and Reliance Entertainment

From 2008: Why Reliance Is Buying U.S. Cinemas
India's Reliance Entertainment has acquired more than 200 movie theaters in 28 U.S. cities in pursuit of global expat communities

Bodyguard

Friday, December 16, 2011

That someone could graduate from a Catholic liberal arts college an unthinking Republican zombies should be an indictment against that school's claims about the liberal education it provides and the results (i.e. producing critical thinkers).

Some Dowland



Items of Interest, 16 December 2011

Peter Hitchens, In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011

Wendell Berry Indiana Public Radio interview (mp3)

Kevin Gutzman, The Dangerous Supreme Court

Leon Hadar, Libertarians Should do Foreign Policy

Iraq:
Thomas Fleming, The New Empire of Old
PJB, And Was the Mission Accomplished?

Iran:
Phillip Giraldi, A Dangerous Answer
The Inevitable War with Iran
Why Do They Hate Us?
Daniel Larison, Ron Paul and the Politics of Opposing an Attack on Iran
Paul Was Right on Iran, and His Position Is More Popular Than You Think

The Imperial Presidency:
House and Obama OK Forever-Prison Bill
Congressional Tyranny, White House Surrender

Peak Oil and Energy:
A Conversation About Europe
US study casts pall over BC's shale gas biz by Andrew Nikiforuk (EB)


OWS and Economics:
"Worker-Owners of America, Unite": Will Cooperative Workplaces Democratize U.S. Economy?
Tomgram: Barbara Ehrenreich and John Ehrenreich, The Fall of the "Liberal Elite" | TomDispatch
Kevin Carson, Occupy Doesn’t Have a Platform — It is a Platform
Why bringing the bankers to heel is so important… by Brian Davey (EB)
China's epic hangover begins
It's time for economic theory to evolve

Relocalization:
My search for the imperfect Christmas tree by Gene Logsdon (EB)
How much work is small-scale farming? by Sharon Astyk (EB)
Rob Hopkins, “Another world is not only possible… she’s opening a bakery round the corner”.
How Designing Smarter Farmers' Markets Will Help Our Cities Survive
Transforming the Economy: Linking Hands Across the Social and Environmental Divide
Bill McKibben Predicts a Small Future
Time People Who Mattered: Bill McKibben

Diet and Health:
Is There Any Such Thing As ‘Safe Starches’ On A Low-Carb Diet?

Catholic:
Rorate Caeli: Just in time for Kerstmis: The Church that led the Vatican II "Rhine reforms" was rotten
United Not Absorbed: An English Perspective
Reuniting faith: Lecturers discuss Eastern Orthodox Christianity, its history

Homer's Iliad: A New Translation, An Old Translation and The Glory of this Masterpiece by Robert M. Woods
Scholar discovers 16th-century love poem written by an Englishwoman

Masculinity and Friendship:
The Handy Herb
Bizzaro Asperger's Syndrome - beta orbiters
They really do want to tear you down

The Grim Beeper

Misc:
Daniel McInerny, On Writing Jane Austen Sequels
The Thinking Housewife: Has American Ballet Lost Its Soul?

Batman star Christian Bale roughed up while trying to visit China pro-life activist

Music:
AKUS on Tonight Show


Early music vocalists Anonymous 4, bearing gifts from new CD, to offer Chicago concert

Travis Hayley...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Just read on Daniel McCarthy's status update that Christopher Hitchens has passed away. Kyrie eleison.

Another good one by John Michael Greer

The Future Can't Pay Its Bills

A very good historical narrative that takes into account the abundance of cheap energy sources.

Let’s step away for a moment from the game of arbitrary tokens we call "money," and look at the economy from a thermodynamic perspective, as a system for producing goods and services by applying energy to an assortment of raw materials. Until the coming of the industrial revolution, the vast majority of the energy that went into human economic systems went from sunlight to crops to human and animal muscle, which produced and distributed goods and services. The industrial revolution transformed that equation adding torrents of cheap abundant fossil fuel energy to the annual income from photosynthesis. Only a small fraction of the labor force and other resources had to be diverted from food production to bring this flood of energy into the economic equation, and only a small fraction of fossil fuels had to be cycled back into the fossil fuel extraction process; the rest of the labor force, other resources, and all that additional energy from fossil fuels could be poured into the rest of the economy, producing goods and services in unparalleled amounts.

Physicist Ilya Prigogine has shown by way of intricate equations that the flow of energy through a system increases the complexity of the system. If any further evidence was needed to back up his claims, the history of the world’s industrial economies provides it. The three centuries that followed the development of the first functional steam engines saw economic complexity, measured by the creation of new job categories, soar to a level almost unimaginably greater than any previous civilization had achieved. The bonanza of wealth produced by adding fossil fuel energy to the sun’s annual contribution spread throughout the industrial economies, and the ways and means by which money sprayed outwards from the pockets of coal magnates and oil barons quickly became institutionalized.

Governments, businesses, and societies ballooned in complexity, creating niches for entire ecosystems of office fauna to do tasks the presidents and tycoons of the nineteenth century had accomplished with a tiny fraction of the personnel; workloads obeyed Parkinson’s Law—"work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion"—and everyone found that it was easier to add more staff to get a job done than to get the existing staff to do it themselves. The result, in most industrial societies, is an economy in which only a small fraction of the labor force actually has anything directly to do with the production of goods and services, while the rest are kept busy managing the sprawling social and economic machinery that has come into being to organize, finance, manage, staff, market, advertise, sell, analyze, tax, regulate, review, praise, and denounce the production of goods and services.

What seems to have been lost sight of, though, is that this immense superstructure all rests on the same foundation as any other economy, the use of energy to convert raw materials into goods and services. More to the point, it depends on a certain level of surplus that can be produced in this way, and that depends in turn on being able to add plenty of fossil fuel energy to the economic system without having to divert too large a fraction of the labor force, resource base, and energy supply into the extraction of fossil fuels. Some sense of the difference made by fossil fuels can be measured by comparing the economies of the industrial age to those of societies that, by any other standard, were near the upper end of human social complexity—Tokugawa Japan and Renaissance Italy are the ones that come to mind. Urban, literate, and highly cultured, each of these societies had the resources to support extraordinary artistic, literary, and intellectual creativity. Still, they did this with economies vastly simpler than anything you’ll find in a modern industrial society.

The division of the labor force among economic roles makes a good measure of the difference. In both societies, the largest economic sector, employing around fifty per cent of the adult population (nearly all adult women and most elderly people of both sexes), was the household economy; a good half of the total economic value produced in each society came out of the kitchen gardens, spindles, looms, and other economic facilities associated with households. Another thirty per cent or so of the population in each society, including most of the adult men, was engaged full time in farming and other forms of direct food production; maybe ten per cent of the adult population worked in the skilled trades; and the remaining ten per cent or so was divided between religious professionals, military professionals, artists and performers, aristocrats, and merchants who lived by buying and selling goods produced by others.

Would the development and growth of the modern nation-state have been possible without empore and/or cheap energy?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Items of Interest, 14 December 2011

Peter Hitchens, How to Think – a user’s guide to the reasoning mind – plus some reflections on Cannabis farmers

Making 2012 the year resilience built by Asher Miller (EB)

John Robb, EXAMPLE: Personal Brands and Resilience

Local Dollars, Local Sense by Michael H. Shuman - Chelsea Green

Wendell Berry: The World We Live In

Richard Heinberg, Soaring Oil and Food Prices Threaten Affordable Food Supply (EB)

Richard Heinberg, An Eco-Literate Conversation With Richard Heinberg (mp3)
Includes an endorsement of feminism?

Permaculture pioneers — Stories from the new frontier by Kerry Dawborn and Caroline Smith (EB)

An Economy to Feed Your Soul
Nipun Mehta lives in the gift economy.

The YES! Breakthrough 15: Will Allen — YES! Magazine (Growing Power)

Energy:
Tom Murphy, Can tides turn the tide? (EB)

Karl North, An outline of benefits from a lower energy civilization (EB)

Abortion:
India's Deadly Secret

Convert Pitfalls: Obstacles In the Orthodox Mission Today
Stumbled upon RTV, on Ch. 38; it's abroadcast version of TVLand and advertises itself as "Classic TV." At 7 was an episode of Highway to Heaven (dealing, in part, with discrimination against Mexicans, but still the cast was mostly white) - the quality of the production, as well as the fashion, reminded me of shows from the 70s, even though the series debuted in 1984. (Starsky and Hutch at 8.)

Jiro Dreams ofo Sushi

Apple trailers

Mag Pictures

Saints and Soldiers Airborne Creed



A second movie: a new series? No doubt this is also a Mormon-produced movie...


Apple

An all-white cast? Despite its missionary outreach to minorities and overseas, is the Church of Latter Day Saints putting forth itself as the great White hope, the preserver of all that is good about America?

Playing to the Base?

Santorum on US Bishops and immigration

On this issue he isn't as bad as the "mainstream" candidates? But what does he believe about American identity? Here is his blurb on American exceptionalism:

Rick Santorum understands that the events of September 11, 2001 brought to our front door the uncomfortable truth that attacks on our soil are not merely a distant possibility, but a harsh reality.

To combat this threat, Rick refused to back down from those who wish to destroy America. Rick Santorum understands that those who wish to destroy America do so because they hate everything we are – a land of freedom, a land of prosperity, a land of equality. Rick knows that backing down to the Jihadists means that we are only putting our foundational principles at greater risk. As an elected representative, Rick knew that his greatest responsibility was to protect the freedoms we enjoy – and we should not apologize for holding true to these principles.

He has no principled opposition to immigration, no discussion of assimilation: "Secure our border, streamline the legal immigration process to attract highly skilled talent and entrepreneurs from around the world and reform the agriculture worker program so it works for America's farmers"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Items of Interest, 13 December 2011

Peter Hitchens, David Cameron’s Phoney War, or A Curse in Disguise
Kelley Vlahos, Iraq: No Comfort in Being Right

Rod Dreher, Russell Kirk, stranger and prophet


FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY, Why the US & Israel May Agree to Bombing Iran

Fabius Maximus, Why Americans should love Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings – we live there

Distributism:
Some recent posts about "Distributism"
Christopher Ferrera, In Defense of Distributism
Why Socialism and Distributism are Wholly Antithetical

Relocalization:
John Robb, Contagion: The communication of disease from one person to another by close contact.

Transition branching out? Land reform: losing and recovering the Commons
by Justin Kenrick (EB)

Economics:
Economics and the Pursuit of Happiness
Rod Dreher, More on the cult of Wall Street
The Journey Home-Wilhelm Röpke & the Humane Economy by Roger Scruton
Commentary: Oil, climate, agriculture and learning to love limits by Sharon Astyk (original)

OWS:
Kevin Carson, Revolution 2.0: Is Occupy Reaching a Takeoff Point?

Peak Oil:
Talkin’ peak oil blues: The new KunstlerCast book
Top 10 Peak Oil Books of 2011

Water:
As Global Population Grows, Water Matters More - interview

Wes Jackson:
Can We Restore the Prairie—And Still Support Ourselves?

The Atomic Bombings:
The Least Evil Option: A Defense of Harry Truman (via MoJ)

Diet and Health:
Karen De Coster, Austrian Economics Meets Primal Blueprint?

Feminism:
The reduction of masculinity
Decoding the Female Happiness Paradox

Catholic:
Msgr. Gherardini: Vatican II is not a super-dogma
The importance and the limits of the authentic Magisterium

Marshall McLuhan & Chesterton: New Touchstone

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Items of Interest, 11 December 2011

Thomas Fleming, Serbia: Surviving the American Imperium
Peter Hitchens, Victory? Not while we're in the clutches of Angela's giant vampire squid

More on Libertarianism and Foreign Policy:
Justin Raimondo, Doing Foreign Policy
Jacob Huebert, Libertarianism is Antiwar

Fast and Furious:
Karen De Coster, The Gun-Runners in DC

Economy:
Europe’s Deadly Transition From Social Democracy to Oligarchy by MICHAEL HUDSON

Social democracies in name only? How long have European countries really been oligarchies? Can there be a need for welfare state without wealth being concentrated primarily in the hands of the few?

OWS:
Kevin Carson, Deliver Occupy From Its “Friends”

Relocalization:
What is worth investing in? by Ute Kelly (EB)
Msgr. Luigi G. Ligutti, Rural roads to security; America's third struggle for freedom"
Principles for a New Economy: Rethinking the Meaning and Measurement of Progress

John Robb, Six Lessons from Mexico's War on Drugs
Why Networked Resilient Communities won't need China

Creating Community: The Local Food Movement is Changing What and How We Eat
Money, Politics and Your Neighbor by Ron Fent

Catholic:The Commentary of Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro on Universae Ecclesiae
Dom Antoine Forgeot, Comment s’explique la vitalité de certains monastères ?

Feminism:
" It’s not our cultural programming that sets our standards for beauty; it is our instinct."
The Gaming of the Shrew: Shakespeare’s Sociosexual Masterpiece

Diet and Health:
My Primal Transformation: Discovering the Art of Fit
Don’t Listen to Me. Listen to Dr. Terry Wahls, Cured from Debilitating Multiple Sclerosis (MS) On a Paleo Diet
Mark Sisson, How Agriculture Ruined Your Health (and What To Do About It)
The LLVLC Show (Episode 521): New Zealand-Based Paleo & Zone Nutritionist Julianne Taylor (mp3)
Five New MUST-SEE Health Videos For December 2011
Top 25 ‘Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb’ Amazon Bestsellers In 2011

1988:

I can't imagine something like this being made today for network TV. (The cast being all-white being only one reason.)

A definition of conservatism

Throne and Altar (via Oz Conservative)

On page 4: "It is the defense of common understandings and structures of authority embodied in moral communities. The most important of these moral communities are the patriarchal family, organized religion, the traditional culture of a local community, and the nation-state."

I take this to be a defense of the nation-state against globalism or internationalism, but it is inadequate in so far as the nation-state itself is the bad end-product of the continuous accumulation and centralization of power. I'm also inclined to reject the moral epistemology on page 1, which seems to accept the validity of the naturalistic fallacy.

Man experiences the world’s order in three levels. The first is inert matter and the empirical or “brute” facts about the world which it embodies. Matter qua matter has neither purpose nor higher meaning; it is raw material which man subjects to his will. The second level is that of subjective will. Man is aware of himself as a being with desires, goals, and opinions, in sum as one who assigns value. As an assigner of values, he can “color” his world with meaning, finding a thing good or bad, useful or harmful, beautiful or ugly. The level of subjective will is also the level at which we encounter the liberal version of morality. Man recognizes that other sentient beings also assign desires and fears, values and disvalues to the things in the world. He realizes that the subjective valuations of others are in some objective sense “equal” to his own and entitled to the same respect.


Inert fact and subjective valuation do not exhaust our experience of order; each of us recognizes that the world is “weighted” with meanings which seem to exist prior to and independently of anyone’s will. For example, one can see the distinction between the three orders in the relationship between a mother and her child. On the level of empirical facts, there is the fact that this baby is the offspring of that woman, there is the inability of human young to care for themselves, and there are the many facts about the woman, such as her ability to nurse, which are relevant to child rearing. On the level of subjectivity, there are the feelings of the mother and child towards one another. Finally, there are the stations of mother and child, the un-chosen context which gives meaning to their acts toward each other and the standard by which they are judged. All cultures recognize a duty for mothers to nurture their offspring, and a duty for children to honor and obey their mothers. The nature of these stations cannot be derived by mere logic from any set of empirical facts. On the level of empirical fact, one cannot even surmise a basic fact like that the purpose of the uterus is reproduction, but only that it can be used for this purpose. Objective meaning belongs to an entirely different and higher order of intelligibility. In fact, it is the idea of the station of motherhood which allows a woman to make sense of the many empirical facts of her femininity. Nor does the station of motherhood derive from subjective desires; neither the mother nor the child nor both together have the authority to dissolve the bond between them. Of course, a woman may neglect or abuse her child, but even so she doesn’t escape the context of her maternal station; she just fulfills it poorly, making herself a bad mother.

What is the source of this? Some modern philosopher would be the prime candidate, rather than some version of [Christian] scholasticism.

It is not clear to me if the first level is to be identified with sense perception or understanding. If the latter, then I would reject it. If the former, I would be hesitant to say that matter is perceived as being inert or without having purpose.

But, the author talks about levels of intelligibility so I'll have to say that he is wrong in his account of epistemology, even if he is just correcting some inadequate modern account. The account is so strange to me that it is difficult for me to respond to it point by point - I'd have to write an alternate account.
How many gangs (or 4GW organizations) would remain in existence without being parasites on greater society (i.e. funding through illegal activity) or external funding? How many are self-sufficient, dependent upon the legitimate labor and wealth of its members and native supporters?

I wouldn't necessarily equate all black market activity with immoral activity, though it may be proscribed.

Gangs (or terrorist organizations) may have a certain appeal to boys and young men who lack meaningful relationships with fathers or other male authority figures. Participation in gangs does represent male behavior, but we can't separate the moral analysis of their activities from a psychological or sociological analysis of gang members' motivations. The same couuld be said of 4GW organizations, except that some may be operating in weak nation-state, in which they approximate the functions of the government and can be said to be the government of the local community in fact though not in name.

via Oz Conservative:

Gaudete in Domino



St. Benedict's Monastery in São Paulo - Mosteiro de São Bento de São Paulo

St. Benedict Schola Cantorum links

The Gift Economy

John Médaille:
The first market in which we operate is the gift economy of family and the community. We are first called into being by the ready-made community of the family, and from this community we receive a variety of gifts. Our being, to be sure, but also the gift of our name, our family, our language, our first moral perceptions, our first experiences of love and belonging, and so forth. This economy of grace (gifts) is the primary economy, and all other economic and social activity must be judged from the standpoint of how will it serves the family. Without this check, there is really no way to know whether the economy “works” in any concrete sense. A fully monetized economy erodes the gift economy of the family upon which the whole social order depends. Beyond this family economy, there are economies of community service, economies of political activity (in which votes are the medium of exchange), religious economies, and so forth. All of these depend on the economy of production and exchange (note both terms), and hence are checked by that economy, even as they provide checks for the exchange and production economies.
Mr. Médaille does not talk about the gift of the environment (or natural resources), but Pope Benedict XVI does in Caritas in Veritate (CNA Article). This can be combined with an understanding of the primary, secondary, and tertiary economies as outlined by John Michael Greer, building upon the work of EF Schumacher. The primary economy is indeed a gift of God, but we should also understand our family and other people as gifts from God as well, whom we should aid in seeking perfection. (The gift of non-rational creation is instrumental to the perfection of humanity.) As mutually dependent animals, we rely first of all upon communication in order to bring about perfection upon others. In a real community, in which people share bonds, culture, and history, they are given to one another and can come to recognize this - there is very little "choice" in the matter. This is in contrast to our megapoleis which have more the form of voluntary associations or "intentional communities" if anything at all.

Hence the great flaw of this aspect of the encyclical (and of Médaille's work)?* The attempt at an economic solution or a political solution without a proper understanding of the science politics, in particular what community is and its necessary conditions, and thus the true nature of the problem with which we are faced. One can use law to regulate the actions of individuals, but if the common good is rather ephemeral, to what can it be ordered except relative tranquility? One ends up upholding the liberal order and transactional justice despite one's rejection of it, because  when we are dealing with the modern nation-state (which is just too large) or megapoleis, there is very little basis for talking about social justice or solidarity or civic friendship to a group of strangers who have very few ties to one another. A band-aid solution which will not work in the long run because the loss or destruction of community will continue to erode even commutative justice?

If the form is not proportioned to the matter, the matter will not receive it.

If one wants to promote solidarity and social justice, one must first rebuild community. (Paradoxical? Not quite.)

*wrt JM: another problem being the ideal of autarky with respect to goods necessary for the perfection of the polity.

Related:
Mr. Greer's The Wealth of Nature

The Prayer of the [Re-]Publican

"God, I thank you that I am not like the so-called 99%. I am not lazy and entitled, and have achieved financial prosperity through my own efforts alone by using the freedom everyone has in America, and I am content to enjoy the fruits of my labor instead of envying others."

For discussion by Patrick Henry Reardon of the original parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.

Barbarians on the Thames

Theodore Dalrymple for City Journal

There is reason to think that it should so apply. One rioter told a journalist that his compatriots were fed up with being broke all the time and that he knew people who had absolutely nothing. It is worth pondering what lies behind these words. It is obvious that the rioter considered being broke not merely unpleasant, as we all would, but unjust and anomalous, for it was these qualities that justified the rioting in his mind and led him to suggest that the riots were restitution. Leave aside the Micawberish point that one can be broke on any income whatever if one’s desires fail to align with one’s financial possibilities; it is again obvious that the rioter believed that he had a right not to be broke and that this right was being violated. When he said that he knew people with “nothing,” he did not mean that he knew homeless, starving people left on the street without clothes to wear or shoes on their feet; none of the rioters was like this, and many looked only too fit for law-abiding citizens’ comfort. Nor did he mean people without hot and cold running water, electricity, a television, a cell phone, health care, and access to schooling. People had a right to such things, and yet they could have them all and still have “nothing,” in his meaning of the word. Somehow, people had a right to something beyond this irreducible “nothing” because this “nothing” was a justification for rioting. So people have a right to more than they have a right to; in other words, they have a right to everything.


Tangible benefits, on this view, come not as the result of work, effort, and self-discipline: they come as of right. This inflated doctrine of rights has turned into a cargo cult as primitive as that in New Guinea, where the natives thought, after a laden airplane crashed in the jungle, that consumer goods dropped from the sky. Apparently, all that is necessary for people like the rioters to live at a higher standard of living, equal to that of others, is for the government to decree it as their right—a right already inscribed in their hearts and minds.


This doctrine originated not with the rioters but with politicians, social philosophers, and journalists. You need only read Henry Mayhew’s nineteenth-century account of the laboring poor in London to realize that the notion of having rights to tangible benefits was once unknown to the population, even during severe hardship. But the politicians, social philosophers, and journalists transformed things evidently desirable in themselves—decent housing, for example—into rights that nothing, including the behavior of the rights holders, could abrogate. It clearly never occurred to the well-meaning discoverers of these “rights” that their propagation might influence the human personality, at least of that part of the population destined to become increasingly dependent on exercising them; and it required only an admixture of egalitarianism to complete the dialectic of ingratitude and resentment.

Too harsh on the UK rioters?

'Tis the season to give to the less fortunate

Walking past the Salvation Army volunteer at the post office yesterday (I didn't say, "Sorry, I contribute only to Catholic charities."), I was thinking that it is relatively easy for people who have the equivalent of at least 200 slaves working for them (because of cheap energy) to give some extraneous wealth away. The giving of alms is not the most important sign of how "Christians love one another." At Patriactionary, someone asked whether Christians ever had a separatist mentality. I still have the suspicion that the early Christians of the Roman Empire did maintain some social distance from their pagan neighbors, or more accurately, preferred to show love towards their fellow Christians first (and also to other non-Christians of good will). They were enjoined to love others as well, but with whom did they associate and form intimate friendships? I believe that it was primarily with other Christians, and if true it should be a warning to us that our understanding of charity (which is more liberal than Christian) is wrong. I just need to find some historical documentation to back this thesis up in order to convince uhmerican Catholic liberals.

Apple country

Who wants to live in a place where Diwali is as important or more important than Christmas, other than Indian immigrants. It's a good thing that the Chinese don't have a major festival falling in December. Can't blame the whites for leaving.