Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Resurrection of the Body

How is there continuity between the body we have in this life and our glorified body? (Assuming that we persevere unto the end, of course--may our Lord make it so.)

Robert George and Patrick Lee respond to Stephen Barr's comments on their reaction to the Bodies exhibit discussion at First Things.

Dr. Barr had some comments to make after Cardinal Schonborn's piece on evolution was published in the NYTimes (alternate). Here is Cardinal Schonborn's response to Dr. Barr. (Dr. Barr went on to write an article for First Things, "The Miracle of Evolution.") My sympathies lie with Cardinal Schonborn; I will leave a critique of Barr's article for another time, focusing instead on the FT discussion of the resurrection of the body.

(Found this during my search for links, observations on the controversy by J. P. Hubert.)

So do I have a not-so-tiny axe to grind with Dr. Barr? Yes, I'll admit it. I'm tired of Catholic scientists or philosophers who believe they must concede to contemporary scientific dogma an status of certitude or of having been [strictly] demonstrated that it usually does not deserve, and if they had the proper training they should realize this. And yet they not only take it upon themselves to be experts (understandable, to a point), but have no problem drawing out the "theological" implications of their positions. Shades of Galileo.

There is nothing like stubborness and ingrained opinion, whether it be attachment to contemporary physics or to a certain school of political philosophy, to defeat true inquiry.

Dr. Barr's comments:

I am not competent to get involved in the theological and philosophical discussions among Robert P. George, Patrick Lee, Robert T. Miller, and Claire V. McCusker on the relation between bodies and souls. However, as a physicist I am interested in one statement made here yesterday by Robert George and Patrick Lee concerning the resurrection of the body. They note that in their forthcoming book, Body-Self Dualism and Contemporary Ethical Issues, they defend the view that the resurrection of the body involves “God’s reassembling at least some of the numerically same particles that once were in our living bodies when we were alive.” That seems to me to be a very problematic notion from the point of view of modern physics—indeed, strictly speaking, a meaningless notion. It is meaningless to ask whether an electron, say, that exists at one place and time is the same one that exists at another place and time. Elementary particles, such as electrons and protons, have no individual identity (in medieval terms, one might say that they have no haeceitas), though one can meaningfully talk about how many there are and (with less precision) about where they are.

Elementary particles, assuming that they do exist as parts of a whole, obviously do not have an individual identity while they are parts of that whole. The question is whether they can/do have independent existence as individuals of a lower order of material reality, and if so, whether they can properly said to occupy a certain place.

For example, if today I have a box containing ten electrons, sealed off so that no particles can enter or escape, there will still be ten electrons in it tomorrow. But modern physics teaches us that there is no meaning whatsoever to the question of whether “this” electron here today is the “same one” as “that” electron there tomorrow. One might try to give this question some meaning by marking or labeling each electron in some way, but that cannot be done even in principle. Or one might try to “keep an eye on” each electron and follow its movements from moment to moment, as one might try to keep an eye on the shell containing the hidden object in a shell game. However, that too is not possible even in principle, as the concept of a particle following a continuous path or trajectory through time is a classical concept—quantum theory tells us that one cannot follow particles around in that way. When particles get near each other, they unavoidably get mixed up with each other. To explain fully this famous “quantum indistinguishability of particles” is not possible to do in a brief space.

Even though he is a physicisit, Dr. Barr does not understand that there is a difference between the "indeterminancy" resulting from the natures of the things taken by themselves, without interactions with anything else, and "indeterminancy" that is a result of intrinsic constraints on our ability to measure phenomena on that level. That is to say,

(1) Things cannot be measured because they are intrinsically unmeasurable.
is not the same as
(2) Things cannot be measured because we cannot measure them with our tools.

One cannot point, whether with one's hands or with tools (even of the most advanced kind) to one "elementary particle" and keep track of it. But God's knowledge of things (and where they may be) is not like ours, dependent in some way on those things. Rather, His knowledge is of them as their cause--would He therefore not know where they are, since He holds them in being? It's a mistake by quantum physicists (and physicists in general) to make a claim about the nature of lower-reality entities when in reality the phenomena reveals the limitations of our ability to measure.

Perhaps an analogy will help. Suppose on Monday I have five dollars in my bank account and deposit another five by means of a check on Tuesday. Then on Friday, I withdraw five dollars from my account by writing a check. Are the five dollars I withdraw the same ones that were there Monday, or are they the ones I deposited on Tuesday, or are some of them the ones that were there Monday and others of them not? One can see that this is a meaningless question. One can talk about how many dollars there are and where they are (in the sense that the dollars are in this account or that account), but dollars in an account have no individuality. What I am saying about elementary particles is not at all controversial among physicists. It is a well-accepted fact of life in fundamental physics. Therefore, if one is to make sense of the identity of a resurrected body with the former body, it must do it in some terms other than the identity of the particles of which they are composed. At any rate, so it seems to me.

The analogy with money fails because one is dealing with what was a non-tangible instrument to begin with. If, for example, one was using gold as currency, and one deposited one's gold in a primitive bank (where it could not be lent out), then one could very well point to one's gold and say that is my gold, i.e. the gold I deposited. On the other hand, if it is a more advanced bank, where people's gold is taken together and lent out, and one is issued a receipt or IOU, then even if one could identify a certain portion as being that which was originally deposited, nonetheless, one has given up one's legal claim on that original deposit, accepting instead an IOU for gold of the same amount as that deposited, understanding that in the future one will not receive the identical gold that one deposited, just gold of the same amount.

Analogies may help illustrate one's point, but one better make sure one understands that analogy.

There are other problems as well. If one is going to talk about the resurrected body as being made up of the same kinds of particles—electrons, protons, and so on—one will be forced to say that the world to come has physical laws that are the same (or differ very little) as the laws that govern this universe. This would raise all sorts of awkward questions. Just to take one example: Organic life in our world requires energy, which comes ultimately from the sun, in most cases. So will there be stars in the world to come? Will they burn up their nuclear fuel in billions of years? If so, then what? Will God perform continuous miracles to prevent our aging, and the new “sun” from burning out, and all the other effects of temporality that are inherent in a world with laws such as our present universe has? But if there are continuous miracles, would it even make sense to speak anymore of a world governed by laws? And if the world to come has not laws like ours, then the whole question of whether there are the same kinds of particles becomes meaningless, since what you mean by a particle and its properties is bound up with the deepest structure of the laws of physics.

(1) Here is the modern scientist's reliance on laws, whether as exact descriptions or as approximations. [Would such laws, as predictions, have the status of science for Aristotle? No, because of the contingent nature of things coming-to-be.] An Aristotelian does not talk about laws, unless he is trying to reconcile modern scientific discourse with Aristotelian teachings. Rather, he talks about natures, and how things behave with respect to themselves and to other things, and to the cosmos as a whole.

(2) The modern confusion about energy, which is due to its reification. I don't have time to trace the origin of energeia (which is especially relevant with respect to debates with the Orthodox about God), but the sun, through its light, acts upon plants, which in turn grow, etc. As far as I know, there is no official teaching on the fate of rest of the cosmos, and what exactly the New Creation will be like. But just because we do not know what will happen after the Last Day does not mean that from the data of Scripture and Tradition we cannot say something about the resurrection of the body.

"And if the world to come has not laws like ours, then the whole question of whether there are the same kinds of particles becomes meaningless, since what you mean by a particle and its properties is bound up with the deepest structure of the laws of physics."

Here we see Barr granting some sort of priority in being to the laws of physics--rather than natures being prior in being, and laws being the result of our reason or intellect coming to know them. Will things have the same natures? If they continue to exist, they will. If their natures are different, then they are no longer the same and do not exist. Perhaps even at the core Barr is a reductionist, claiming that the properties of a particle (and everything else) are fully explainable by the fundamental laws of physics. If so, then he's in worse shape than I thought.

I think it is a profound mistake, given what we know today, to try to imagine how our bodiliness in the next world will be realized. And I think that the Scriptures warn us that this is a mistake. 1 John 3 tells us that “what we shall be has not yet been revealed.” St. Paul tells us that “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man … what God has prepared.” He also tells us that our bodies will be “spiritual bodies,” and that “in the twinkling of an eye … we shall be changed.” These passages suggest (at least to me) that in whatever sense we shall have bodily existence in heaven, it shall be very different, unimaginably different, different in a way that has not yet been revealed. And so, perhaps, we should leave it at that. It is probably as futile for us to try to imagine the next life as for a baby in the womb to try to imagine its life after it is born and grown up, or for a caterpillar to imagine life as a butterfly. Someday we shall know; now it is not necessary for us to know.

We see that Dr. Barr is not afraid to engage in some exegesis in order to shore up his "scientific" prognosis of the question. Obviously, we do not have direct experience of glorified bodies, so we cannot say anything about it that is based on our experience. Nonetheless, we do maintain that Christ's body after His Resurrection was glorified, and that the Apostles had some experience of it and what it could do, and recorded this in Scripture. (Hence Aquinas' discussion of its properties in the Summa Theologiae.)

If we truly remain human after the resurrection, and human nature consists of body and soul, and not just any body, like that of a gorilla or a cat, but a "human" body, then we do have some sort of idea of what it is like; at the very least we have an idea of what it won't be like.

Scripture has other suggestive passages. In the Book of Revelation, we are told that in the world to come “there will be time no longer,” and we are also told that “there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” No time? No light except that given them by God? This suggests a realm utterly different from the one we now inhabit, a realm in which many of the physical principles and realities of our world will have no counterpart. Is it not possible that our bodiliness will be fully realized within the Body of Christ, and that God will be our food, our light, our everything—so that God is indeed “all in all”?

Because Dr. Barr does not have a proper understanding of the principles of nature, of matter and form, act and potency, he is unable to imagine how things can be continuous and yet somewhat dissimilar. It's all an either-or thing for him. Either it is 100% the same, or it is 100% different.
If it's 100% different, then why talk about what the resurrected body will be like? For it too may be 100% different from the body we have now.

It may also be a failure to appreciate, among other things, the difference between natural potency and obediential potency--assuming that there is some continuity, and not an entirely new order of things (which is a possible understanding of the data).

Now, for Dr. George and Dr. Lee:

We are grateful to Stephen Barr for his comments on our recent posting in which we say that the “reassembly” conception of the Jewish and Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the body is most probable. We described that conception as “God’s reassembling at least some of the numerically same particles that once were in our living bodies when we were alive.” Barr wonders whether this idea has any real meaning in light of contemporary quantum physics, which holds that subatomic particles lack individuation or individual identity, in part because they lack the property of being here rather than there.

We fear that our use of the term particles may have been infelicitous inasmuch as it might suggest (especially to physicists, such as Barr) our taking a position on questions of the status or behavior or subatomic particles. Our point was not to do that, but to suggest that belief in the resurrection seems to entail some type of material or bodily continuity. And that would have to be by God’s reassembling something material. How to refer to that something material is problematical: perhaps parcels of matter, or parcels of matter-energy. In any case, we think that belief in some form of material continuity, indeed, a partial identity with respect to the material aspect of the human person, is part of what it means to believe in the resurrection. Perhaps Barr will not agree, and no doubt he could say much more to throw light on the perplexing question of how to relate the macro-level (where individuality, continuity, and identity are facts) to the micro-level (where a subatomic particle’s being here does not seem to exclude its being there).

Ah yes, it is problematical if one does not know the difference between matter and energy. This is what happens what Einstein's matter-energy equivalence is taken too seriously, and one does not see how mathematical physics is not a full account of nature. If energy, as defined in mathematical physics, is just as measurable as real things, they must therefore have the same ontological status. Not quite.

Believing Jews and Christians know that the doctrine of the resurrection of the body expresses a profound mystery. They do not suppose that we can fully comprehend the resurrection or render its meaning transparent. Theologians have explored questions about the doctrine partly because some philosophers have claimed that it is internally incoherent and therefore unworthy of assent, and partly also from a desire to understand what we can without claiming to have removed the veil that still shrouds its depths. Our concern in our forthcoming book is to show that belief in bodily resurrection is not incoherent (that it is not self-contradictory, which is not the same as to show that it is true or even intrinsically possible), and, of course, to do so without evacuating it of all realism—reducing it to mere symbol or metaphor. Thus, we completely agree that “eye has not seen, and ear has not heard . . . what God has prepared for those who love him.”

This does not mean, however, that heaven is completely unintelligible, only that it is a mystery, that there is more there than we can understand. This is especially true of the supernatural dimension of heaven—the supernatural communion with God and those who dwell in perpetual friendship with Him. Heaven will also include, though, a fulfillment of our human nature, and here it is important not to mystify our thinking about this that it is inadvertently denied. We will be bodily beings because that’s the kind of thing we are. We shall have glorified bodies, “spiritual bodies,” in St. Paul’s phrase, but they will still be bodies. That means at least this much: We will be able to walk and talk, see with our eyes, gesture with our hands, etc. Glorification (thinking about the passages about Christ after his Resurrection) seems to mean that some of the body’s limitations will be removed. No doubt it will also include a lot more that we cannot now understand—on that point Barr and we agree. However—and on this Barr no doubt also agrees—heaven will include real bodies, and our own bodies, so that the persons there will really be us; and that, it seems, must involve some material continuity or identity.

I agree with this part.

The main philosophical challenges regarding resurrection have arisen because some argue that in order for a human person at one time to be identical to a human person at an earlier time, there must be material and organic continuity from the one to the other, but such continuity does not obtain on the Christian view of the resurrection. Various replies have been proposed to this objection. One is that the persistence of the concrete, immortal human soul, with its same act of existing, provides sufficient continuity for the risen to be the same human being with the one that died. As we indicated in our earlier posting, we think this view might be true—that is, it is neither self-contradictory nor clearly incompatible with data of faith.

This is somewhat akin to the position that individuation of material things is through form, not through matter.

However, though possible, this proposal seems to have serious difficulties. First, it is clear from Scripture, and the constant faith of the Church, that Christ’s tomb was empty. So, although Christ’s body is glorified—a truth we in no way wish to minimize—nevertheless it was the same body that was buried three days before and that was now alive and talking with Mary Magdalene (although she did not at first recognize him), showing his wounds to Thomas who had doubted, and eating and drinking with the apostles. If the opponents of Christianity had been able to produce his dead body, they surely would have done so, and, what is the important point here, if they had done so that would have falsified the Christian belief in Christ’s Resurrection. Thus, in Christ’s Resurrection there is some type of material, bodily continuity, indeed, some type of material identity—the same body that was buried, now lives, though it is now glorified.

Our resurrection—as St. Paul teaches—is patterned after, and is mysteriously a participation in, Christ’s Resurrection. So, first, if it is true that persistence of the immortal soul between death and resurrection is sufficient for identity of the person after resurrection with the person before death, then at least this much must be said: Those who die just before the end of the world so that their bodies do not corrupt must in some way have the same body or same matter in them at their resurrection. Certainly it would be contrary to the notion of resurrection if Joe is resurrected but his body is still in the tomb—that would not be a resurrection but only a re-creation. So, if one says that persistence of the human soul is sufficient continuity for identity of the resurrected human being with the one who died, one will have to add that those who are resurrected before their bodies corrupt must get those same bodies—in some meaningful sense of the word same, at least in the sense that if the body is here, talking to So-and-So, it cannot at the same time be there, in a tomb.

This is pretty much an elaboration of my earlier point--if I had read this part before typing my response to Barr, I wouldn't have bothered to include it as a part of my own response. Ah well. This is what happens when one critiques as one reads, instead of reading everything before critiquing.

Finally, we think that this is probably true of all human beings, no matter when they lived and died. For, it would seem odd that the character of the resurrection of one (albeit small) class of human beings would be radically different from that of others. Also, the resurrection of all human beings—not just those who live and die very near the end of the world—is patterned after and is a participation in Christ’s Resurrection. And finally, the very idea of a resurrection—a rising again—seems to demand some type of bodily continuity—though the body is also glorified, and that, we agree, means there is more to it—but not less—than the same body (or matter) being alive that once was dead.

Now, Dr. George and Dr. Lee have traced out the arguments (in a more thorough fashion than me) for our taking about the resurrected body in an intelligible manner. But they do not attempt to explain how there is continuity, only that there is some sort of continuity.

Without delving in the technical distinctions between the various kinds of identity, it is clear that for most of us, the resurrected body is not numerically identical to the the body, taken as a whole in itself, we have now. Our body decays, 'disintegrates' and its parts are taken up by other living things in the cycle of life.

It is also the case that there will not even be numerical identity for many or most of the parts--after all, it seems that some of our parts have been shared with other human beings. This carbon atom, say, or that oxygen atom. Perhaps God could do a lot of work to make sure that we only share parts with things that cannot be resurrected, but is it really necessary for this kind of identity to obtain in order for there to be "continuity"?

Let us assume that Aquinas does hold that for materal things, individuation is by matter, rather than form--there are two things to remember here:

(1) matter is to form as potency is to act
(2) the more complex a thing, the higher the form (the greater degree of organizing it must do)

When complex things come to be, it is not the imposition of a substantial form on pure potency, i.e. prime matter (which would be the case for the simplest things in existence, the elements whatever those may turn out to be). (As the 16th and 17th ce Jesuits thought, according to Marjorie Grene.) Rather, there it is remote matter, which is already in some way organized.

Take for example the human development. Let us assume for the sake of simplicity that a human soul is infused at conception (*though I have not seen any argument from natural reason that this must be so, and that a temporary non-rational animal soul that cannot also pattern human development.) The human body does not come to existence from pure potency, or from the simplest elements. Rather, what happens is that when the spermatazoa and egg fuse, that which results is the in potency to be actualized by the human soul as its substantial form.

Can we say that the human soul can be used to (re-)animate the body of a cat instead of a human body? While this may be contrary to our dignity as human beings, it is beyond the realm of possibility of the rational soul? I would say yes, because the soul is the substantial form not of a cat body, but of a human body, even if it is in an immature state of development (i.e. the zygote). What it actualizes and makes living is not a cat body, but a human body, so that which "receives" it must be proportioned to it, as matter is proportioned to form. Not only that, but there is not one "general, one-size-fits-all" soul that every human being has, with individual differences (eye color, height, etc.) being comletely due to chance. Let us not go to the extreme of saying that all such individual traits are due to our DNA, but admit that DNA nonetheless is an important part of us.

This is where I think the proportion form:matter::act:potency must be kept in mind when talking about matter being the principle of individuation. While the precursors of the body, the spermatazoa and the egg, have an 'independent' existence before fertilization, they are nonetheless united, taken up, and integrated in fertilization through form into a human body. Development of the human body, along with the generation of individual traits (eye color, etc.) is possible because of the powers that come with that form [especially that of development]--not taken by itself, but in tandem with the body, as nature, the principle of motion and rest in a thing, is not simply form by itself or matter by itself, but both.

Do we need to undergo development again, with the same sort of remote matter, as found in the spermatazoa and egg, in order to have those same traits reappear? I think that it should be obvious that God is not required to repeat morphogenesis in order to generate a body with the same individual traits. Surely His power is greater than that. With an creative knowledge of the mature adult form to be achieved, how difficult would it be for God to animate the body with the soul to which the body belongs? (Not that this occurs in stages, with the resurrection of the body, followed later in time by the infusion of the soul.) God does not need to use the same identical elements, atoms, etc. that our bodies had at a certain time. What needs to be present are the appropriate parts of a mature human being, possessing the qualities and so on that serve to distinguish us as individuals (having brown eyes as opposed to blue eyes, and so on).

Perhaps this may be unclear; I wouldn't be surprised if it were, since it is getting late, and I cannot write that well at the moment. But I just wanted to get these perliminary thoughts down so that I will have something to return to if I ever decide to revise my thoughts and write a longer piece in the future.

Note: distinction between proximate matter, undifferentiated "matter" of the zygote, and parts qua "matter"

Saturday wrap-up

Everyone's visiting Boston this weekend. Today my mom flew in after being in Cleveland for a couple of days--my sister the MD was there along with KK for a friend's wedding, so my mom went along to help take care of the niece, but she also went to the wedding and the reception. Haha the niece likes to talk on the phone. Anyways, this afternoon we tagged along as Fujian Gal did her errands; first she went to Verizon over on Boylston to get her phone fixed--they merely replaced certain parts with parts from another phone, rather than exchanging phones with her. Then we went to the Wrentham outlets, which was packed with people today. How sad, spending a day consuming. Fujian Gal picked up some nice suits over at Benetton, plus some shirts at Ann Taylor. For dinner we went to El Cafetal--Sarge missed out tonight.

Later I went with Fujian Gal to see World Trade Center. I pretty much agree with the critiques of the movie--see, for example, Steven Greydanus or John Mark Butterworth. It is difficult to make a movie about 9/11 and the WTC with a happy ending, and not have it sentimental. A documentary making full use of news coverage from that day would have had a bigger impact on me, I think, especially because of the horror of re-watching the sad events of that day. Would it that be merely for the sake of reliving those feelings though without a care for those who died? Would that be disrespectful to the victims? Or would it be like the horror one feels when one watches the aliens decimate the population of New Jersey in War of the Worlds? Is there any good for which one could invoke that feeling? Sigh. I'm not sure.

Mencius talks about feeling pity for others as the root of morality. Can we say that a movie like World Trade Center at least makes us feel pity?

Charlotte Allen on Aelred of Rievaulx and Fr. Dailey


St. Aelred actually came up in a conversation last night with the New Scot, which was a discussion of same-sex attraction. I have one of his books on friendship, and I expect that it will not differ too much from what St. Francis de Sales says (or Aristotle, for that matter, at least with respect to virtue, even though the religious aspect of sharing God as a common good is absent in the Nicomachean Ethics--but St. Francis surely makes up for the lacunae in Aristotle's account).

*edit* Al Trovato at Rorate Caeli reacts strongly to Charlotte Allen's entry. He also refers to a review by good ol' Fr. Buckley, F.S.S.P. of Aelred of Rievaulx: Pursuing Perfect Happiness.

btw, for the Lady Downstairs--The New Scot returned to Boston on Thursday, he had spent a week up in Ontario, and on his way back he dropped by New Hampshire, where his parents were camping. He has some other news too, but I'll let him do the talking. We met up with his friend the Ethiopian Copt; Fujian Gal also returned from her training session in New Jersey last night, so we all headed to Victoria's for dinner. Fish filet with vegetables, spicy salt pork, yang chow fried rice, seafood dried fried udon, plus West Lake beef soup. The Philosopher was originally going to go with us, but his friend Pablo had already made arrangements with him for the rest of the evening, so when he called to meet up earlier than expected, the Philosopher left to see him. Ah well. Hope you are having a pleasant weekend with your nephew.

New trailers

at Apple

The Ground Truth "The filmmaker’s subjects are patriotic young Americans - ordinary men and women who heeded the call for military service in Iraq - as they experience recruitment and training, combat, homecoming, and the struggle to reintegrate with families and communities."
official website

What do you think Sarge?

Here's one for Pete Takeshi:
Pusher Trilogy
and another: Zen Noir
And would you at all be interested in The Haven?

Old Joy -- this year's Sideways?

The Reaping
"Hilary Swank plays a former Christian missionary who lost her faith after her family was tragically killed, and has since become a world renowned expert in disproving religious phenomena. But when she investigates a small Louisiana town that is suffering from what appear to be the Biblical plagues, she realizes that science cannot explain it."

So will it be like Signs? Is this a movie geared for the "Christian movie-goer"?

Eric Bana is back in Lucky You. "In Lucky You, a professional poker player (Eric Bana) gets a lesson in life from a struggling singer (Drew Barrymore) as he collides with his estranged father (Robert Duvall) at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas." A feel-good movie centered around poker? Maybe the Subletter would like this movie.

Evidently, the release date for Edmond is still July 14th, 2006, but the trailer just showed up now on Apple? It must be making its way around the indies theaters.

Another Truman Capote movie? And another incarnation of Lassie.

"The Patrimony"

The Patrimony, or Obsessions with Liberalism

Reminds me to read M. Zuckert's books, The Natural Rights Republic, Launching Liberalism: On Lockean Political Philosophy and Natural Rights and the New Republicanism.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Poster of The Prestige

From AICN:

Kor. Ent. News, 18 August 2006

Jeon Ji-hyun Turns Into Rock Bride

Can that really be Jeon Ji-hyun? The famously demure Korean star has transformed herself into a rock chick for the Laneige fall cosmetics line of Amore Pacific, evolving into a glamorous power woman. On stage, she shows off her singing ability and smooth thighs, with a newfound energy infusing her every move.

"Famously demure"? And what was My Sassy Girl? Perhaps in real life... but certainly not all of her roles have been of demure women.

K-Wave Star Has 'No Plans to Wed'
KSW recently converted to Catholicism. Maybe he needs some spiritual direction.

Lee Byung-hun to Meet Hilton Sisters
So will Paris find LBH "hot"?

Goh Hyung-jeon: More at Ease in Her 30s

Born-Again Singer Publishes Memoirs

Culture - August. 18, 2006
Women basketball players pose for the inaugural issue of monthly women basketball magazine Basket Queen, to hit the stands on Aug. 25./Courtesy of Basket Queen

Front - August. 18, 2006

Dragons engraved on a gilt bronze crown made during the ancient Baekjae Kingdom (1st-7th century A.D.). The artifact currently undergoing restoration by Chungnam Institute of History and Culture was discovered in Gongju, the capital of the kingdom, in South Chungcheong Province and will be exhibited at the Gongju National Museum from September.

A gilt bronze shoe engraved with lotus flowers made during the ancient Baekjae Kingdom (1st-7th century A.D.). The artifact currently undergoing restoration by Chungnam Institute of History and Culture was discovered in Gongju, the capital of the kingdom in South Chungcheong Province and will be exhibited at the Gongju National Museum from September.

Nine dragons engraved on a gilt bronze shoe¡¯s sole made during the ancient Baekjae Kingdom (1st-7th century A.D.). The artifact currently undergoing restoration by Chungnam Institute of History and Culture was discovered in Gongju, the capital of the kingdom, in South Chungcheong Province and will be exhibited at the Gongju National Museum from September.

Hankooki Times review of Fly Hight

Ferrari: Models pose with a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano in a pre-launch ceremony in Seoul, Thursday. The Ferrari model, priced at 456 million won, will be sold on a reservation basis starting in November.

/Courtesy of Kuz Plus

U.S. Renews Warning of N.Korea Nuke Test

U.S. Renews Warning of N.Korea Nuke Test


From The Minimum Wages and Taxes on the Dead

The poor are such a nuisance. Just when Congress tries to bring sense to its self-created chaos, the poor get in the way. The most recent example is the collision between the very poor who are paid the minimum wage and the very rich that happen to die.

The minimum wage is a concept with which the rich have little familiarity and one they never expected to have an adverse effect on their well-being. The minimum wage provides that those who work for a living should be paid no less than a certain amount. The amount since 1997 has been $5.15 an hour or $10,712 a year if the worker foregoes any vacation. (Since 1997 Congress has increased its members' wages by $31,600 which coincidentally is slightly less than 3 times more the annual income of a minimum wage recipient.)

Adjusted for inflation the minimum wage is at its lowest level in 50 years.

Assuming just a 40-hour work week, of course.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Beat! by William Lind


By William S. Lind

With today’s cease-fire in Lebanon, the second Hezbollah-Israeli War is temporarily in remission. So far, Israel has been beaten.

The magnitude of the defeat is considerable. Israel appears to have lost at every level—strategic, operational and tactical. Nothing she tried worked. Air power failed, as it always does against an enemy who doesn’t have to maneuver operationally, or even move tactically for the most part. The attempts to blockade Lebanon and thus cut off Hezbollah’s resupply failed; her caches proved ample. Most seriously, the ground assault into Lebanon failed. Israel took little ground and paid heavily in casualties for that. More, she cannot hold what she has taken; if she is not forced to withdraw by diplomacy, Hezbollah will push her out, as it did once before. The alternative is a bleeding ulcer that never heals.

But these failures only begin to measure the magnitude of Israel’s defeat. While Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, is now an Islamic hero, Olmert has become a boiled brisket in the piranha pool that is Israeli politics. The cease-fire in Lebanon will allow camera crews to broadcast the extent of the destruction to the world, with further damage to Israel’s image. Israel’s “wall” strategy for dealing with the Palestinians has been undone; Hamas rockets can fly over a wall as easily as Hezbollah rockets have flown over Israel’s northern border.

Most importantly, an Islamic Fourth Generation entity, Hezbollah, will now point the way throughout the Arab and larger Islamic world to a future in which Israel can be defeated. That will have vast ramifications, and not for Israel alone. Hundreds of millions of Moslems will believe that the same Fourth Generation war that defeated hated Israel can beat equally-hated America, its “coalitions” and its allied Arab and Moslem regimes. Future events seem more likely to confirm that belief than to undermine it.

The cease-fire in Lebanon will last only briefly, its life probably measured in days if not in hours. Neither Israel nor Hezbollah has genuinely accepted it. The notion that the Lebanese Army and a rag-tag U.N. force will disarm Hezbollah is absurd even by the usual low standard of diplomatic fictions. The bombing and the rocketing may stop briefly, but Israel has already announced a campaign of assassination against Hezbollah leaders, while every Israeli soldier in Lebanon will remain a target of Hezbollah.

Unfortunately for states generally, Israel appears to have no good options when hostilities recommence. It can continue to grind forward on the ground in southern Lebanon, paying bitterly for each foot of ground, and perhaps eventually denying Hezbollah some of its rocket-launching sites. But it cannot hold what it takes.

It may strive for a more robust U.N. force, but what country wants to fight Hezbollah? Any occupier of southern Lebanon that is not there with Hezbollah’s permission will face the same guerrilla war Israel already fought and lost. Most probably, Israel will escalate by taking the war to Syria or Iran, and what will be a strategy of desperation. That too will fail, after it plunges the whole region into a war the outcome of which will be catastrophic for the United States as well as for Israel.

Before that disastrous denouement, my Fourth Generation crystal ball suggests the following events are likely:

Again, a near-term resumption of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, with Israel succeeding no better than it has to date. In the past, the IDF has been brilliant at pulling rabbits out of hats, but this time someone else seems to occupy all the rabbit holes.

A fracturing of Lebanon, with a collapse of the weak Lebanese state and very possibly a return to civil war there (which was always the probable result of Syria’s departure).

A rise of Syrian and Iranian influence generally, matched by a fall of American influence. If Israel and America were clever, Syria’s comeback could offer a diplomatic opportunity of a deal in which Syria changed sides in return for a peace treaty with Israel that included the return of all lands. The crystal ball says that opportunity will be spurned.

A vast strengthening of Islamic 4GW elements everywhere.

Finally and perhaps most discouragingly, a continued inability of state militaries everywhere, including those of Israel and the United States, to come to grips with Fourth Generation War. Inability may be too kind of a word; refusal is perhaps more accurate.

Are there any brighter prospects? Not unless Israel changes its fundamental policy. Even in the unlikely event that the cease-fire in Lebanon holds and Lebanese Army and U.N. forces do wander into southern Lebanon, that would buy but a bit of time. Israel only has a long-term future if it can reach a mutually acceptable accommodation with its neighbors. So long as those neighbors are states, a policy of pursuing such an accommodation may have some chance of success. But as the rise of Fourth Generation elements such as Hezbollah and Hamas weaken and in time replace those states, the possibility will disappear. Unfortunately, Israeli politics appear to be moving away from such a course rather than toward it.

For America, the question is whether Washington will continue to demand that we go down with the Israeli ship.

Celtic Spring

Featured on the show America's Got Talent; I've never seen them perform. This is their website. The New Scot likes them and hopes they win the contest; apparently he met them while he was visiting Ontario.

Here's a YouTube video:

Sadly, At Last didn't make it to the top 5. I know a lot of Asians were pulling for them. Here is one of their videos:

You can find others in "Explore More Videos" on this page.

Bianca Ryan is the winner. Hrm, I'm not sure if she was better than Celtic Spring, her voice wasn't that great. But she wins $1 million. Crazy.

What does the Church say about its social teaching?

From the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:

For each, I provide the main point and have edited out the rest, just to give readers a rough idea of what the Compendium says. (With the exception of #528.)

Chapter 12 Social Doctrine and Ecclesial Action
I. Pastoral Action in the Social Field

521. Aware of the power of Christianity to renew even cultural and social realities, the Church offers the contribution of her teaching to the building up of the human community by bringing out the social significance of the Gospel.

522. In her social doctrine the Church offers above all an integral vision of man and a complete understanding of his personal and social dimensions.

523. This Christian anthropology gives life to and supports the pastoral task of inculturation of the faith, which aims at an interior renewal, through the power of the Gospel, of modern man's criteria of judgment, the values underlying his decisions, the way he thinks and the models after which his life is patterned.

b. Social doctrine and social pastoral activity
524. The Church's social teaching is the insidpensable reference point that determines the nature, modality, articulation and development of pastoral activity in the social field.

525. The social message of the Gospel must guide the Church in her twofold pastoral activity: that of helping men and women to discover the truth and to choose the path that they will follow, and that of encouraging Christians to bear witness with a spirit of service to the Gospel in the field of social activity.

526. The Church's social doctrine provides the fundamental criteria for pastoral action in the area of social activity: proclaiming the Gospel; placing the Gospel message in the context of social realities; planning actions aimed at the renewal of these realities; and conforming them to the demands of Christian morality.

527. Above all, the pastorla activity of the Church in the social sector must bear witness to the truth of the human person.

c. Social doctrine and formation
528. The Church's social doctrine is an indispensable reference point for a totally integated Christian formation. The insistence of the Magisterium in proposing this doctrine as a source of inspiration for the apostolate and for social action comes from the conviction that it constitutes an extraordinary resource for formation; "this is especially true for the lay faithful who have responsibilities in various fields of social and public life. Above all, it is indispensable that they have a more exact knowledge. . . of the Church's social doctrine." This doctrinal patrimony is neither taught nor known sufficiently, which is part of the reason for its failure to be suitably reflected in concrete behavior.

529.The formative value of the Church's social doctrine should receive more attention in catechesis.

530. In the context of catechesis above all it is important that the teaching of the Church's social doctrine be directed towards motivating action for the evangelization and humanization of temporal realities.

531. The Church's social doctrine must be the basis of an intense and constant work of formation, especially of the lay faithful. Such a formation should take into account their obligations in civil society.

Interview with Wes Jackson

From Counterpunch:

July 10, 2003

Sustainability and Politics An Interview with Wes Jackson


Wes Jackson and his colleagues at The Land Institute are working on a 10,000 year-old problem -- agriculture. Not simply problems in agriculture, but the problem of agriculture.

That fundamental problem is that no one has come up with a sustainable system for perpetuating agricultural productivity. High yields mask what Jackson has called "the failure of success": Production remains high while the health of the soil continues to decline dramatically -- primarily because of erosion and chemical contamination of land and water. That kind of success guarantees the inevitable collapse of the system.

Agriculture isn't the only system we live with that is unsustainable -- empire and capitalism also come to mind quickly. How are these systems connected to each other? How long can such systems continue before they give way to something new? Can they be replaced before they take the planet down with them? Who and what will suffer in the meantime? And, what can movements do to change all this? Jackson has some provocative ideas about -- though he'd be the first to admit, no definitive answers to -- these questions.

Twenty-seven years ago, Jackson -- then a professor of environmental studies at California State University at Sacramento with degrees in botany and genetics -- co-founded The Land Institute to pursue a long-term solution to the problem of agriculture, delving into both the scientific and cultural aspects. The goal, articulated in the Land's mission statement, is agriculture that will allow people, communities, and the land to prosper in sustainable fashion.

The research into what they call "natural systems agriculture" (NSA) investigates ways that monoculture annual grains (such as corn and wheat) can be replaced by polyculture (grown in combinations) perennial grains. NSA attempts to mimic nature instead of subduing it. Jackson points out that when left alone, a natural ecosystem such as a prairie recycles materials, sponsors its own fertility, runs on contemporary sunlight, and increases biodiversity. The question NSA poses is whether agriculture can be designed to increase ecological wealth in such fashion rather than degrade it.

Jackson, who currently serves as the president of The Land Institute, is the author of several books, including New Roots for Agriculture, Altars of Unhewn Stone, and Becoming Native to This Place. In his writing and frequent lectures, Jackson explores the intersection of science and society, agronomy and ecology, culture and politics. His talks are a lively mix of styles -- country preacher, old-time storyteller, hard-nosed scientist, and political organizer. Jackson is blunt about the problems of the culture and agriculture but hopeful about the possibilities of change, and his folksy style allows him to launch fairly radical ideas in ways that don't seem threatening. I began my interview with him by asking him to expand on several slogans he had tossed out at Prairie Festival, the annual celebration of The Land Institute, in 2001.

Robert Jensen: At the 25th anniversary celebration you offered three aphorisms that seem to turn conventional political wisdom on its head -- "If we walk our talk, we won't get there," "We need to spend more time preaching to the choir," and "We've got to quit meeting people where they are." Explain what you meant.

Wes Jackson: "If we walk our talk, we won't get there" is the easy one. Look, I ride jet planes. I drive. My household is tied into the grid. We're all dependent on the extractive economy. If we were to "walk the talk" -- if we were to really live within the limits of a renewal life-support system with no subsidies from coal or portable liquid fuels or the poison of nuclear power -- we would have trouble making our voices heard in the culture.

Another way to put it is that there's no life outside the system. So, I think we should ask two questions about endeavors that involve us in the extractive economy. One is, "How can I use this nonrenewable resource in a strategic way?" Two, "Is it so much fun that you can't say no to it?" That second one is just a way of not taking ourselves too seriously.

RJ: What about the people who say that it's important to create alternatives that are, to the degree possible, outside the system? Should people sacrifice involvement in a political movement to create a model of something else?

WJ: We do need those good examples, and people have to work in the area of their passion. When I look at people I start with the question, "Have they joined the fight?" If they have, then you have to be careful in critique, because we don't know enough about what's going to be most effective in the long run. If someone wants to be the good example, then fine. But I think they should be doing it out of intrinsic interest, not out of sense of nobility.

RJ: What about, "We need to spend more time preaching to the choir"?

WJ: That's meant to suggest we need to deepen the discussion. The modern environmental movement really began in 1962 with Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. Before that, environmentalism was mostly about wilderness advocacy, with some focus on soil erosion and water conservation. With those roots in saving wilderness, this new environmental movement lacked the intellectual basis necessary to understand the kinds of problems we face as a consequence of consumerism. Today we have to fight the idea that nature is to be subdued or ignored. In that older view, wilderness was seen as the sacred, and we could afford to allow other parts of the world that served human needs and desires to be profane. Now we realize the planet is seamless and that wilderness is really an artifact of civilization. So, we haven't had a long enough time to deepen the discussion, and that deepening is best done with members of the choir, rather than with people who are just catching on that the planet is in trouble.

RJ: What about the argument that we have to broaden the movement so that we have the political power to make the changes that are so crucial?

WJ: Yes, but by making a movement's ideas too readily accessible, you can make them meaningless. Ultimately, you have to have depth to your argument or people will find themselves being self-satisfied by hauling their cans to be recycled in their SUV. To even be talking about recycling when the parking lots are full is kind of absurd.

There's a lot of work for the choir to do, too. For example, we have to learn to be better numbersmiths, to understand science and statistics. I'm going to be 67 this month, and in my lifetime people have burned 97.5 percent of all the oil that has ever been burned. That's an important statistic. We have to face the fact that we are not going to find a technological substitute for the high-density energy that comes out of a gas or oil well. It is thermodynamically implausible. We have not attended to these numbers and realities. So, we have people running around rather glibly saying that, "We have alternatives. We just need to get solar and wind and thermal insulation and this, that and the other."

RJ: What do you say to those who contend that there are energy alternatives that will allow Americans to continue to consume at the current level?

WJ: I say that's nuts. That's where the discussion needs to deepen. Take the example of a photovoltaic array and look at the energy that the array will produce in its lifetime and the energy it takes to make it. It's a ratio that ranges from 4:1 to 8:1. Or a wind machine, which is about the same. Thermal insulation is pretty good, close to 100:1. But all that still isn't enough. It's assumed, because scarcity is always said to be the mother of invention, that when things get scarce we will find the alternative. Well, I'm saying there simply is no alternative to the density of high-energy carbon coming out of an oil well.

RJ: Do you think there is a need to preach to the choir in other movements, such as the antiwar or anti-corporate globalization movements?

WJ: I think so. It's clear that war and racism, poverty, sexism, the growing gap between the rich and the poor, are all connected. And when we hit a brick wall, it turns out that brick wall is capitalism. We're going to have to face that. But people want to believe it is possible to design around capitalism, through regulation and progressive legislation. But that won't work, and we need some consciousness-raising on that.

RJ: What about the argument that the reactionary right and the Bush administration are so dangerous, such a threat to the planet, that all our efforts should be directed to defeating Bush in 2004?

WJ: I think that's pretty naïve. The Bush folks are going to go to the fat cats who made out so well on the tax cuts and say, "OK boys, give us 10 percent." And they'll get it, and that will put billons in their coffers, and they'll use that to buy media and control the discussion. It's whistling in the dark to presume those guys don't have a plan to keep this thing alive.

RJ: What if the Democrats had a realistic chance to beat Bush? Would that change anything for you?

WJ: Given the behavior of the Democrats, who have tried to become more like the Republicans, what evidence do we have that they would have a spirited about-face? I'm pretty sure they would be better in some ways, that fewer of our civil liberties would be violated. But the Democrats are not trying to change our dependence on an extractive economy. What did Clinton do for us?

The Democrats turn the dial a little to the left, and the Republicans turn it to the right, but they're both on the wrong channel. I don't see any fine-tuning that is going to make a big difference.

RJ: What about the third slogan, "We've got to quit meeting people where they are"?

WJ: If you meet people where they are, you're going to meet them in Wal-Mart, where things are cheap and things don't last. We keep trying to meet people on the grounds of economics: Are they going to be able to keep their 401Ks intact? Are they going to have more money so they can eat out more often and buy more breakables? In that framework, the ecology message is reduced to hoping that the EPA does a better job of enforcing the Clean Water Act and the Clear Air Act. But the planet could still go down the tubes with clean water and clean air, and with wind generators in place. We've not talked about a society that, at the rate it's going, is going to require four planets to keep up with consumption.

Here's where we have to be thinking deeply. Agriculture had its beginning 10,000 years ago. What were the ecosystems like 10,000 years ago, after the retreat of the ice? Those ecosystems featured material recycling and they ran on contemporary sunlight. Humans have yet to build societies like that. Is it possible that embedded in nature's economy are suggestions for a human economy in which conservation is a consequence of production? Let's open that up. The day after 9/11, I wrote a piece suggesting that what George Bush should say is, "My fellow Americans, from this day forward we will evaluate our progress by how independent of the extractive economy we have become." I think that kind of speech would resonate with a lot of people. But if it resonates, then they have to roll up their sleeves and say, "What does that mean for me, for us?" That would not be meeting people where they are. George Bush is meeting people where they are.

RJ: One possible conclusion from all this is that, given where the culture and most people are, a mass movement around sustainability isn't possible today. Is that your view?

WJ: Let me be more positive. A mass intellectual engagement on these issues is possible and is necessary. I don't know if is possible right now. My hope is that when the resource base declines and we are caught -- and it will appear to be unawares -- there will have been going on in smaller circles an adequate deepening of the conversation that has the potential to spread among the larger population.

RJ: Any thoughts on how to go forward with that?

WJ: One thing to avoid is getting too overloaded with abstractions, without any of the particulars. This struggle that we're involved in is not going to be won with the bumper sticker. It's going to be won across the ecological mosaic of the country; it's going to be the particularities. I'm worried about our willingness to so readily embrace the abstractions without the particularities.

Here's an example, which will sound like whining, but it's not. Here at The Land Institute people are out there breeding crops, doing the experiments, evaluating germ plasm, because we think that in the 25 to 50 year time frame it's possible to build an agriculture based on the way natural ecosystems work. Those are particularities. Now, some of the people in the environmental movement, some who are my friends, think that they are change agents and are out there networking, going off to another conference. I don't object to people doing those kinds of things -- I do some of that myself -- but what I do object to is the marginalization of an organization like ours because we say it will take 25 to 50 years before we have something to offer the farmer. My question for almost any group is, "What does this translate into in a material way?"

Even though we are marginal, one reason that we are still alive as a viable organization is not only that we have an alternative paradigm, in the Kuhnian sense, but there is pollen being transferred on behalf of that paradigm. In other words, I think values dictate genotype. I think we're here because our project resonates at a deep level with the Friends of the Land and the foundation world.

RJ: What effect on public policy have you had?

WJ: We've been to Washington, and we've hit the brick walls. So, we're avoiding the brick walls. Instead, we are supporting 19 graduate students from around the country. They will go back to their universities, and we hope the institute's intellectual "virus" will infect these major universities and eventually overcome their institutional "immune systems." It's change from the bottom up. In that sense, we're looking at public policy for the long term. We are trying to develop the compelling alternative for the future.

RJ: What is your assessment of the anti-corporate globalization movement, especially the tactic of street protests?

WJ: We need to confront, but we also need these particularities. The good thing about this movement is the realization that we're all caught within a kind of structural immorality. But, the bad thing is that we tend to stop with that, as if there's nothing I can do except protest about it, and hope that the overall structure changes so that my behavior will be more environmentally benign. Street protests -- in combination with other tactics -- have worked in the past, in other movements. But I think that the environmental movement is, in many ways, more complicated than the anti-Vietnam war or civil rights movement. We have to deal with the aspect of human nature that wants stuff, wants comfort and security. For some time I think we were naïve and thought these problems could be solved easily.

This is one area where I think we need to sit back and do some more thinking. What has worked? Take a look at CSAs, community-supported agriculture. I'm all for those, but they don't really speak to the vast majority of 350 million acres of farmland, most of which is eroding and being chemically contaminated. CSA farms are donuts around the cities. I don't object to doing that, but we shouldn't presume that's a movement.

We need to be saying, "Listen folks, capitalism is inherently destructive." How do we get from where we are to where we need to be, keeping in mind that we can't just try to tame that son of a bitch. We have got to get rid of capitalism.

RJ: What are the most effective vehicles for that, if it's not just protests in the streets, not faith in the Democrats?

WJ: That isn't easy. We need to be drawing attention to the brick wall of capitalism every time we hit it, acknowledging that we don't just need to find a way over it but how to knock it down. But what about while we are blocked by the brick wall? Well, it is worthwhile when we are making a pollination or designing our experiments that we design it for some future farmer, rather than for something that can be readily adopted today by a corporate bookkeeper. In our breeding work here we could try to come up with perennial monocultures, and that would make the seed companies happy. Our work on perennial polycultures doesn't knock the wall of capitalism down, but at least while you are behind the wall you can imagine life on the other side of the wall. That may sound like a poor and hollow substitute for something that will get at knocking down the wall. But at least we can plan for the other side.

RJ: Do you have any thoughts on what an alternative to capitalism would look like?

WJ: Just to get discussion going, I've been putting forward the hypothesis that since the Stone Age there has not been a single technological product or process, including the domestication of crops and livestock, that hasn't come at the cost of drawing down the capital stock of the planet. I call that the "utterly dismal hypothesis." I'm advancing it not because it's necessarily right, but to suggest that life forms have got it as good as it gets. Whether you are talking about the cell, the tissue, the organ, the organ system or the organism, up that hierarchy to the ecosystem and the ecosphere -- at all levels in that hierarchy of structure, life has had to work it out, given the constraints of the second law of thermodynamics. To presume that we can have a technological array that beats that is somewhat arrogant. Life would have done that long ago. Why should we constantly be looking for technological solutions? I don't think we have spent enough time looking at the rules of nature's economy, which are systems that have featured material recycling and run on contemporary sunlight. That's the kind of alternative economics I'm interested in. And I think that if we don't get sustainability in agriculture first, it's not going to happen. We have some disciplines standing behind and, potentially, helping agriculture -- ecology, evolutionary biology. So that is where it seems to me where the discussion has to start.

Robert Jensen is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, a member of the Nowar Collective, and author of the book Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream and the pamphlet "Citizens of the Empire." He can be reached at

Alt source.

More interviews:
"The Genius of Place" and "Maintaining Sustainable Agriculture"

"From the Margin"
His lectures at the E. F. Schumacher Society

"The Gospel According to Wes Jackson"

"Col. Drake and the Age of Oil"

Col. Drake and the Age of Oil

by Byron W. King

Titusville, U.S.A.

THERE HE WAS, as big as life and looking quite good for a man who died in 1880. I was on a visit to the Drake Well Museum, just south of Titusville, Pa. I was walking into the museum compound, and whom should I encounter but Col. Edwin Drake, dressed in the period garb one is accustomed to seeing in the grainy old photos. "Well, hello, Col. Drake."

OK. It was not the real Col. Drake. This fellow is an actor who has been playing the role of Col. Drake for about 10 years. He gives talks to museum visitors and appears in films or news articles that call for a Drake look-alike. He has read much of the literature available on the life and times of Drake, he dresses for the part, and he is just the plain old spitting image of the famous man, down to his bushy brown beard. He is as near as one can get to being in the company of the famous man, and his life and remarkable times.


"From Mania to Depression" by Uri Avnery

The Thirty Three Day War

From Mania to Depression


Tel Aviv.

THE RESULTS of the war are obvious:

* The prisoners, who served as casus belli (or pretext) for the war, have not been released. They will come back only as a result of an exchange of prisoners, exactly as Hassan Nasrallah proposed before the war.

* Hizbullah has remained as it was. It has not been destroyed, nor disarmed, nor even removed from where it was. Its fighters have proved themselves in battle and have even garnered compliments from Israeli soldiers. Its command and communication stucture has continued to function to the end. Its TV station is still broadcasting.

* Hassan Nasrallah is alive and kicking. Persistent attempts to kill him failed. His prestige is sky-high. Everywhere in the Arab world, from Morocco to Iraq, songs are being composed in his honor and his picture adorns the walls.

* The Lebanese army will be deployed along the border, side by side with a large international force. That is the only material change that has been achieved.

This will not replace Hizbullah. Hizbullah will remain in the area, in every village and town. The Israeli army has not succeeded in removing it from one single village. That was simply impossible without permanently removing the population to which it belongs.

The Lebanese army and the international force cannot and will not confront Hizbullah. Their very presence there depends on Hizbullah's consent. In practice, a kind of co-existence of the three forces will come into being, each one knowing that it has to come to terms with the other two.

Perhaps the international force will be able to prevent incursions by Hizbullah, such as the one that preceded this war. But it will also have to prevent Israeli actions, such as the reconnaissance flights of our Air Force over Lebanon. That's why the Israeli army objected, at the beginning, so strenuously to the introduction of this force.

Economics and community

My response to JB's last comment in the Monarchist post. JB's comments are in italics.

You say, "When did large communities come to exist except through conquest. (And the Civil War can be seen as a war of conquest.)" The US in the 1790s and early 1800s was indeed a large community without having really conquered anything. The Louisiana Purchase more than doubled the size of the nation with Jefferson's signature and no bloodshed. There was no "conquest" involved here.

And what of the indigenous peoples who inhabitated that territory? They didn't sign over the sovereignty. Hence, military conquest was needed to back up a treaty signed by colonial powers handing land back and forth between themselves. No one ever asked for the opinion or consent of the natives. Even if there are legitimate exceptions in history, the fact remains that the majority of large political communities come to exist through conquest, and the same is true of the United States, whether one looks at its treatment of indigenous peoples, or the action of the Federal Government with respect to the Confederacy.

Of course money in politics is "necessary." When is money not necessary? And most towns do in fact still have town meetings. Go to any local public library or community center and you'll see them.

Yes, but where do the majority of people live? Do the majority live within the metropolitan beltways? or within small towns? Small towns may still have some form of town meeting, but my other point is that these are relatively powerless to protect the community from having their economy wrecked.

The ability of money to influence an election in a small community is less obvious, because the scale of running a campaign to get voters is diminished, and should be virtually unnecessary where the citizens know one another. Instead, in a small community money plays a role when some candidate is trying to directly bribe the voters or indirectly, by make an impression through spending money, and making promises that the party (for example, the initiation of new construction projects to celebrate the grandeur of the community) will continue once he is elected.

Again, you claim, "So what if major players try to influence local elections? What motive do you think they have other than preserving party control? Certainly it's not to protect the local community. In most areas subsidiarity is dead." Party politics is relevant at the local and national level. Of course we want to preserve party control, from the bottom up. The Party platforms, of both parties, have ramifications for local, state and national interests. I'm not sure I understand what your point is. What is your solution here?

The solution is decentralization coupled with the protection of local economies and, ultimately, a return to a real Federation, if not beyond. Is it necessary for the major parties to have their tentatcles all the way down? There are no actual and distinct local and state interests, because there is no subsidiarity. Allowing companies to outsource jobs and remove production for the sake of the national economy has a real deleterious effect on local communitise. The burden of band-aid solutions, like social security and so on, should be taken up by the states, if they had actual economic independence and self-sufficiency.

You say, "when the two parties such have a hold and are not interested in doing anything about protecting local communities, it just becomes a game of 'politics as usual'--no great improvement will take place, and all the talk of substantive differences on important issues pales in comparison to the agreement between the two parties on preserving the status quo." What do you mean, "not interested in doing anything about protecting local communities."? To what extent? How are local communities not being protected and what do we mean by protection? If I vote for a Conservative who cuts taxes, for example, this will have a ripple effect down to the local communities because everyone in them will have more cash, to do with it what they please within the community.

To your example: More cash to do what? Consume non-essential goods, which are produced outside the United States? I don't see how that benefits the community. Is that tax return sufficient for the start and cultivation and maintenance of a home business? Cutting taxes, by itself, does nothing to reform the economic structures and practices as they exist in this country.

Not doing anything to protect native production, the economic independence and self-sufficiency of local communities on a humane, eco-friendly scale, and reducing our dependence on oil = not interested in doing anything about protecting local communities

"An empty tautology if the law is made in their favor. If legal justice is that those who absolutize the acquisition of property then they may not be breaking laws, but their justice isn't true justice." How is the law tailored in favor of the rich? You've begun with a premise that I don't readily accept. We do still live in a rule of law society. Who is above the law in the United States? This isn't Cuba. You make quite a good number of assertions and axioms without providing any concrete examples of either, in this case.

"Rule of law" is easily perverted if the standard of justice is not the right one.

The right to acquire (and to dispose of) property is near-absolute. (The only qualifications here in the U.S. to the right to acquire and dispose of I can think here is eminent domain, taxation, and obvious punishments.) Hence the exercise of this right is by definition just, and in accordance with the law. There is no need to be "above the law" if the law favors and protects one's activities. The "right" is not properly subordinated to the common good of society.

I would like to think that separation of powers and subsidiarity go hand in hand. They compliment each other.

Despite separation of powers, the Federal Government has not protected subsidiarity. Subsidiarity becomes even more necessary as a counter to the centralizing tendency of modern nation-states, but in the past 2 centuries has been the loser.

Your comments on Walmart are very interesting. How is Wal-Mart the worst offenders against justice and how are they "further decreasing economic opportunities for members of the community." I would say it's precisely the opposite. Have we reached an insurmountable impass? Perhaps. Again, you've made these broad brush assertions without any real example to back it up. With regard to profit, the overwhelming majority of an industry's profit is actually reinvested into the business to increase production levels, wages, hire new people, etc. Many people seem to think that profits are stored in the backroom of the company or horded by some greedy CEO, but this is not the case. Money is continually flowing in and back into the company. For a tour de force defense of walmart, I recommend the following article from the Mises Institute.

It touches on the usual accusations levied against Wal-Mart that you appear to support. I will highlight a good passage and leave the rest to speak for itself. It also gives a good review of common misunderstandings about economic concepts such as prices, cost, wages, etc.

Many of Wal-Mart's critics are socialists who probably resent the fact that Wal-Mart provides an increasingly clear example of how capitalism can shower abundance on its entire population, as their socialist utopias never could. Many of the critics seem to be motivated by fear of change and fear of economic progress. They have a deep distrust of economic freedom and see doom and gloom around every corner as an economy is advancing.
As to be expected from the Austrian school. Who has economic freedom? The corporation? The rich? What of the economic freedom of everyone else? Neglible and not worth protecting.

The economy is advancing? I don't think so--check out Lou Dobbs or Paul Craig Roberts--the economy is shifting to service industries as production is relocated and info/tech jobs are outsourced. The only non-service industries that are growing are those associated with real estate, and we in the middle of the real estate bubble. Just wait until that pops. I've posted some of PCR's articles here, along with links to his archives.

In the past, people like this denounced innovations like the assembly line and mass production for many of the same reasons that they denounce Wal-Mart today. They said that these new methods of production would reduce us all to miserable cogs in a machine enslaved to our employers.
And they did, until the rise of unions prevented the egregious abuses that were taking place. Since then, men were willing to be stuck in intellectually numbing job on the assembly line, so long as it paid the bills.

It is ironic that their intellectual descendants now panic at the thought of losing assembly-line manufacturing jobs overseas because of Wal-Mart. The next generation of ignorant critics will probably complain about the loss of Wal-Mart jobs to more efficient producers.
Because despite the evil of assembly-line manufacturing jobs, at least they are jobs here, filled by Americans.

Paul Craig Roberts: "Second Thoughts on Free Trade". (Typical response by a member of the Austrian school.) "Moving Our Economy Offshore"

The truth about Wal-Mart's critics is that they aren't really interested in economics at all, but they know that in order to be taken seriously they have to pretend to be addressing the issue from a rational point of view. Economic science is complicated and poorly understood by most people, so propagandists often use it as a tool to lend credibility to their arguments. By misusing economic concepts, terminology, and statistics, Wal-Mart's critics have been able to give many people the impression that they are on the side of science. I hope this essay has demonstrated the utter fallaciousness of that impression.
No, Wal-Mart's critics are not interested in unrestrained liberalism and capitalism. As for the true nature of economic pseudo-science, I'll leave that for another post.

As for Wal-Mart itself:
(Professor Bainbridge is no distributist, he's quite the opposite but even he admits that Walmart's practices are not humane.)
The Wal-Mart Effect, by Charles Fishman
"Wal-Mart Memo Suggests Ways to Cut Employee Benefit Costs"
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices
Wal-Mart Watch

A misc link by people actually debating whether a Wal-Mart should enter their community:

Of course, I'm not calling you, TC, a Socialist, I know you're not, but a lot of the arguments you mentioned, and a lot of Catholics sign onto them to as well, ring familiar. I would hadly use Belloc as a sound economic theorist. Many of his theories are more or less socialist witha a Catholic gloss. This is not to disparage his other writings that cover theology, which are wonderful, but a problem I see over and over again is that many Catholics latch on to these utopian ecnomic theories like distributism, with little or no knowledge of their implications.

If one gives a proper definition of socialism, one will be unable to show that Belloc's writings on distributism are socialist. If we accept as a definition "the collective ownership of the means of production and distribution" or something close, then distributism is not socialism. Distributism is the distribution of the means of production among the members of a community, as individuals and heads of households, not taken collectively. Smearing a doctrine with a name isn't a refutation, especially if the name is misapplied. As for utopian, it's only utopian if justice is utopian. Obviously in a degraded social order it might seem utopian, but it doesn't mean that the degraded social order itself is just nor does it have the proper understanding of justice to judge of it properly.

See the following for more:

The Debate Between Dr. Storck and Dr. Woods over the Austrian school:
(First link contains all of the links in the discussion, including the following.)
Dr. Kwasniewski's Summary
Mr. Storck's last response

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Law and command

R. A. Armstrong's book, Primary and Secondary Precepts in Thomistic Natural Law Teaching, is not an easy book to find--there was a used copy floating around a while ago, but someone snatched it up before I could buy it. The following article makes a reference to the book, and I stumbled across it while doing a search for Armstrong's work.

The relationship between law and command is of some concern for my topic; I am wondering if I am missing more recent work. Armstrong's book was published in the 60s, after all.

James Fieser

Apparently James Fieser has a lot of things lined up; most of his work is on Hume. So what is this essay on Aquinas?

Armstrong: "...when we speak of a precept "following" or being "derived" from another, we are not suggesting a procedure in any way analogous to the strict deductive system employed by Euclid."

Fieser: "Against commentators such as Armstrong, I will argue that the "logic" referred to by Thomas in his account of natural law is best interpreted as formal, syllogistic logic.(4) What emerges is a more precise account of how actions are related to natural law, and a procedure which takes much of the guess work out of discovering our moral duty."

But is the derivation of secondary precepts a part of a science such as ethics, or a function of practical reasoning, through understanding of the good? Judgments need to be made as to what bears upon goods, but are these judgments further specified or elaborated? Or are there actual syllogisms involved? This is a question I hadn't thought of before...

On the other hand, it seems that ethics, even one that is virtue-centered, does result in secondary precepts by telling us what actions are good and what are not...

Ugh, something else I will have to sift through and decide if I need to discuss it in the dissertation.

Found this essay by Fr. Rhonheimer (not located at his homepage), "Natural Moral Law." Whoa, it turns out that it was published in The Thomist.

Dr. Kilma has a bibliography for those interested in learning more about medieval philosophy.