Saturday, September 05, 2009

Jerry Salyer, Martyrs and Modernity: Germany’s Heroes and the Left

It seems that some English policymakers feared catching blue-blood cooties from exposure to – in Oppen’s wry wording – “too many counts and barons.” Remember that Anglo-American leaders had no qualms about turning some hundred thousand men, women, and children into radioactive briquettes in order to “end the war”. (That is, to end it unconditionally, without need of peace negotiations.) And recall that in order to defeat the Führer, Allied leaders were quite willing to make an alliance with that famed international humanitarian Joseph Stalin.

But as for working with Hitler’s enemies within the German aristocracy… well, apparently that was asking a bit much. Whoa – come now, there are limits, after all.

One such aristocratic persona non grata was Oppen’s biographical subject – grand-nephew of the famed Prussian field-marshal of the same name – Helmuth James von Moltke. Though active in a variety of spheres, Moltke’s most productive work is circumscribed by the Kreisau Circle, so-called after the count’s country estate where Protestant theologians, Catholic priests, and lay intellectuals gathered to discuss Germany’s fate. Moltke and his companions intended that post-Hitler Germany would not repeat the mistakes of Weimar, and sought some viable, humane vision with which to fill in the vacuum left by Nazism’s inevitable self-destruction.

The Kreisau papers describe a decentralized society anchored by organic institutions, in which regional autonomy and an independent local leadership class would impede the ascendancy of any totalitarian demagogue. This decentralist ideal flowed from Kreisau’s Christian orientation, which translated practically into an emphasis upon localism and small communities. Such communities based upon “naturally occurring ties between individuals” – i.e., the organic ties which bind families together and neighbors to one another – were in Moltke’s view the key to a sustainably sane society.

Per Moltke, National Socialism was a logical consequence of the modern trend toward political and economic consolidation, a consolidation which snuffed out both human identity and the economic means by which individuals might resist tyranny. Rendered anonymous and faceless like ants in a hive, modern mass-man had no chance for either spiritual or political freedom. Quite early on Moltke attributed the philosophical roots of this totalitarian trend to his bête-noir G.W. Hegel, warning that “... in my view, we are on the road which leads through Hegel to the deification of the state.”

How Moltke’s decentralized society would have turned out is anybody’s guess. And whether Moltke was right in blaming Hegel is debatable; certainly better-qualified heads than mine have questioned how culpable Hegel really is vis-à-vis the modern totalitarian impulse. Yet right answers or wrong, at least Moltke was asking the appropriate questions. While he may have fingered the wrong suspect, at the very least he was aware of the essential nature of the problem – which is more than one can say of most intellectuals then or today. This is worth emphasizing. While Moltke particularly abhorred Nazism, his remarks about the general trend toward “the idolized state” also applied to the Bolsheviks… and to the increasingly centralized regimes of America and Britain as well.
Ovation TV | Hilary Hahn
Alison Krauss + Yo Yo Ma Slumber my darling

This one is a bit out of season... Yo Yo Ma & Allison Krauss

Yo-Yo Ma - Appalachian Waltz

Alison Krauss-A Living Prayer

Alison Krauss - There Is A Reason
Salve Regina sung by the monks of the Grande Chartreuse
Zenit: Debate Goes On: Something Religious in Dr. House?
Life Academy Member Notes Character's Search for Truth
Zenit: Super-priests and 21st Century Challenges (Part 1) and Super-priests and 21st Century Challenges (Part 2)

Friday, September 04, 2009

Catholic Light: German RC territory follows U.S. letter to members

The post offers a translation of this document.
Via the Western Confucian: Morality Play.

Thinking about kids’ right and wrong

Jean Piaget looms over current theories of moral development. In 1932, the late Swiss psychologist proposed that children progress through three stages to construct mature concepts of right and wrong. He believed that kids achieve a sense of autonomy and a critical stance toward parenting practices by late childhood or early adolescence.

Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg elaborated on Piaget’s theory in 1969, arguing that children don’t formulate moral concepts such as justice, rights and autonomy until late adolescence.

One alternative to Kohlberg’s approach proposes that a morality of care and empathy develops alongside a morality of justice. Other researchers argued that children in non-Western cultures come to think about morality differently than the Western youngsters studied by Piaget and Kohlberg.

Today, a school of thought developed by University of California, Berkeley psychologist Elliot Turiel asserts that moral decisions based on fairness and welfare develop alongside those based on other concerns, such as social rules. He and other researchers posit that children in all cultures think critically about the morality of parents’ and others’ actions at earlier ages than assumed by Piaget and Kohlberg.

Piaget’s suggestion that children form and revise moral concepts based on their social experiences remains influential. Most researchers, though, now reject his idea that moral development proceeds through one-size-fits-all stages.
I thought Quickly was having franchising problems, but apparently those have gone away (I can no longer find any reference to them online). One is supposed to be opening just down the road "soon." There's a pearl tea drink at the Cupertino Oaks -- or there used to be one, but I can't find any information about it on the Internet. I haven't been to the Q Cup in Cupertino...

Edit. Never mind, I found it on yelp. It's another Quickly. (This in addition to the one at Cupertino Village.) Maybe it was Q Cup that was having franchising problems??? This is what the last review of one store seems to be confirming.
Asia Times: Crisis looms in Russia's armed forces
Russia's Defense Ministry is fighting an internal battle, with bullying, corruption, violence and suicide all on the rise in the armed forces despite the implementation of an unparalleled reform agenda. The depth of social ills afflicting the military may be deeper than realized, reflecting entrenched demographic problems across the country. - Roger N McDermott
Caleb Stegall brings us an excerpt from Mark Mitchell's forthcoming book, The Humane Vision of Wendell Berry.

(Mr. Wendell Berry of Kentucky must have been updated fairly recently -- it now has a blog.)
The current issue of Texas Co-op Power has the following article on John Wilkes Boothe: Did He Go To Hell Or Texas? by Martha Deeringer. (Link to the latter from LRC.)
Rob Hopkins, My Introduction to ‘Local Food: how to make it happen in your community’

(archived at EB)
Mondragón Worker-Cooperatives Decide How to Ride Out a Downturn

(archived at EB)

Yes! Magazine
R. Cort Kirkwood, How the Church Failed Ted Kennedy (And How Ted Kennedy Failed the Church)
From Psychology Today, 2007: Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature

Evolutionary psych...

1. Men like blond bombshells (and women want to look like them)

Long before TV—in 15th- and 16th- century Italy, and possibly two millennia ago—women were dying their hair blond. A recent study shows that in Iran, where exposure to Western media and culture is limited, women are actually more concerned with their body image, and want to lose more weight, than their American counterparts. It is difficult to ascribe the preferences and desires of women in 15th-century Italy and 21st-century Iran to socialization by media.

Women's desire to look like Barbie—young with small waist, large breasts, long blond hair, and blue eyes—is a direct, realistic, and sensible response to the desire of men to mate with women who look like her. There is evolutionary logic behind each of these features.

Men prefer young women in part because they tend to be healthier than older women. One accurate indicator of health is physical attractiveness; another is hair. Healthy women have lustrous, shiny hair, whereas the hair of sickly people loses its luster. Because hair grows slowly, shoulder-length hair reveals several years of a woman's health status.

Men also have a universal preference for women with a low waist-to-hip ratio. They are healthier and more fertile than other women; they have an easier time conceiving a child and do so at earlier ages because they have larger amounts of essential reproductive hormones. Thus men are unconsciously seeking healthier and more fertile women when they seek women with small waists.

Until very recently, it was a mystery to evolutionary psychology why men prefer women with large breasts, since the size of a woman's breasts has no relationship to her ability to lactate. But Harvard anthropologist Frank Marlowe contends that larger, and hence heavier, breasts sag more conspicuously with age than do smaller breasts. Thus they make it easier for men to judge a woman's age (and her reproductive value) by sight—suggesting why men find women with large breasts more attractive.

Alternatively, men may prefer women with large breasts for the same reason they prefer women with small waists. A new study of Polish women shows that women with large breasts and tight waists have the greatest fecundity, indicated by their levels of two reproductive hormones (estradiol and progesterone).

Blond hair is unique in that it changes dramatically with age. Typically, young girls with light blond hair become women with brown hair. Thus, men who prefer to mate with blond women are unconsciously attempting to mate with younger (and hence, on average, healthier and more fecund) women. It is no coincidence that blond hair evolved in Scandinavia and northern Europe, probably as an alternative means for women to advertise their youth, as their bodies were concealed under heavy clothing.

Women with blue eyes should not be any different from those with green or brown eyes. Yet preference for blue eyes seems both universal and undeniable—in males as well as females. One explanation is that the human pupil dilates when an individual is exposed to something that she likes. For instance, the pupils of women and infants (but not men) spontaneously dilate when they see babies. Pupil dilation is an honest indicator of interest and attraction. And the size of the pupil is easiest to determine in blue eyes. Blue-eyed people are considered attractive as potential mates because it is easiest to determine whether they are interested in us or not.

The irony is that none of the above is true any longer. Through face-lifts, wigs, liposuction, surgical breast augmentation, hair dye, and color contact lenses, any woman, regardless of age, can have many of the key features that define ideal female beauty. And men fall for them. Men can cognitively understand that many blond women with firm, large breasts are not actually 15 years old, but they still find them attractive because their evolved psychological mechanisms are fooled by modern inventions that did not exist in the ancestral environment.

Google Books: Why beautiful people have more daughters: from dating, shopping, and praying to going to war and becoming a billionaire--Two Evolutionary Psychologists Explain Why We Do What We Do By Alan S. Miller, Satoshi Kanazawa

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Peak Oil Crisis: As Summer Ends by Tom Whipple
Twitch: Chow Yun-Fat lay some Philosophy in CONFUCIUS Trailer

He's been in some real stinkers lately, and his Hollywood career hasn't gone anywhere. It's unfortunate he couldn't get back together with John Woo to do Red Cliff. Can he pull of Kong Zi? His face looks a bit too round... not as skinny as Kong Zi is traditionally portrayed. The movie itself does look good though, but will it accurately convey the teachings of Master Kong, and their spirit?
Another blogger on Mad Men -- Delenda est Carthago.
Whiskey's Place: Disney Buys Marvel: Superheros and Where the Boys Aren't

Good news? The beginning of the end for the Disney empire? While aware of its PCness and feminism, I hadn't considered this aspect of the Disney business before, that it was not capturing the part of the market made up by boys and young teenagers. (Even if it would seem to be a natural consequence.)
2 from John Gatto are available from New Society Publishers: Dumbing Us Down and Weapons of Mass Instruction
Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, The Psychology of Homosexuality (Catholic Answers Live, August 26, 2009 -- mp3 and rm.

NARTH; his personal website.
Fr. Robert Barron: Word on Fire

Here he is on Catholic Answers Live: How to Win the Culture War (August 24, 2009) -- mp3 and rm
Jared Diamond on The Evolution of Religions

I'd probably disagree with this even more than with some of his historical theses regarding collapse and growth. No time to sit through it right now... Diamond is not noted as an authority on anthropology (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), but what sort of theories is he spinning?

His faculty page.
From 2005: Jared Diamond - How Societies Fail-And Sometimes Succeed - Long Now Foundation
Jared Diamond on why societies collapse

Another comparison with the Roman Empire

Ugo Bardi, "Peak Civilization": The Fall of the Roman Empire

(archived at Energy Bulletin)
Sandro Magister, Erdogan and the Christians. Few Promises, Zero Action

A surprise visit from the Turkish prime minister to Bartholomew I. But like other conciliatory gestures in the past, this one also risks producing no results. Benedict XVI's reservations on the entry of Turkey into the European Union. The caution of Vatican diplomacy

The Thinking Housewife: Male and Female, Summarized

I was thinking about men and their "geeking" out over tools...

Men take pride in a job well done, in a product well made. (Women also, but it seems to me that this does not matter as much as the emotional satisfaction they derive from making something for someone they love.) Much of masculine identity/vocation/psychology rests upon what one does. Tools become an extension of one's self, in so far as they enable us to use our power over inanimate nature. Hence, tools become a part of male identity, and it is no surprise that men spend so much time looking for the best tool for the job and examining their technical specs.

The differences between males and females is apparent when children play. Part of it can be attributed to imitation, but the desire to take on certain roles as a reflection of nature and identity is innate. The nurturing side of girls comes out when they are taking care of their dolls.

Boys, in exercising their imagination, tend to act out in masculine ways noted above--look at how they play with toy machines and cars. Even when they are playing with dinosaurs it is marked by aggression, dominance, and power. The aggressive part of masculinity is even more clear when they are making spaceships or other war machines or playing soldier.

I have seen some kindergarten boys playing in the kitchen or house as well, and who were not adopting the father's role, but playing along with the girls and doing what the girls were doing. Some of it is imitation, perhaps some of it is also for socialization. One does wonder if there is anything happening at home that is leading to this behavior. It happens, but it is not common--the majority of boys are doing boyish things.
Dan Phillips writes, "Wow! Austin Bramwell has in no uncertain terms taken issue with Kevin Gutzman on the Constitution. This is a rather brash denunciation. Bramwell seems to revel in being brash. I disagree with his take and am working on an article length reply."

Another response to Bramwell? This one will be posted at CHT, I presume.

Boondock Saints

As the trailer for Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day has made its debut on IGN, I'd thought I'd ask a question regarding the first movie in relation to the small subset of women who have chosen this movie as being one of their favorites. Why do they like it so much? It is likely that some enjoy the movie just because of the two men who play the main characters: Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus--they would stay away from most other action movies, unless there was some eye candy for them. But what other reasons might there be for embracing what seems to be a typical guy movie? Stylish violence, vigilanteism, offbeat and dark humor, some surprising cameos, Willem Dafoe? Or is it the transformation of two nice working boys into killers out for justice?

(Should Boondock Saints be considered a part of the hip criminal/gangster comedy-drama trend that includes Pulp Fiction and Guy Ritchie movies?)

The Boondock Saints Trailer

The boondock Saints Official trailer

Boondock Saints Courtroom Speech

Related links:

imdb and wiki and Rotten Tomatoes
Boondock Saints 2 Plot Revealed
The Legitimacy of Vigilanteism
From Drudge: BP announces 'giant' oil discovery... and Seven Miles Beneath Gulf of Mexico...
Mike Whitney, How Bad Will It Get?
The American Papist: Controversy: Cardinal O'Malley defends participation in Kennedy funeral

Fr. Z's post.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Rod Dreher: How an ideologue destroyed Ave Maria Law

Reaction at Fumare.
Is there plastic in your metal water bottle?
By Lori Bongiorno

Just when you thought aluminum bottles were safter than plastic...

Sigg: CEO Letters about our liners

Elemental Container
Oggi Water Bottles: More Like a Wonder Bottle than a Water Bottle

Should Enivros Embrace the Aluminum Bottle?
Are Aluminum Bottles Greener than Glass?
JMG, The Dawn of Scarcity Industrialism
Right blasts Obama speech to students

When even college students and "adults" lack the right education to understand the issues, what purpose could Obama's speech to school children possibly serve except to indoctrinate, increase the pretenses of the imperial presidency, and reinforce a cult of personality? Is the president ignorant enough to think that the children will actually comprehend what he is talking about and to make their own judgments?

Rod Dreher reacts to the reaction. If the president wants to do something about public education, then he should read Gotti and others, instead of just telling students to "work hard." This merely reinforces the illusion that academic success (as it is determined by the public education system) will lead to success in life. If he is going to give moral advice, shouldn't he at least examine the ends to which actions are ordered, and see if they are truly good. But this is probably above his pay grade, too--if so, then maybe he shouldn't attempt to be the moral guide/cheerleader for the nation. There are plenty of truly wise people who could fill that role, if they wanted it.
American Papist: Text: Letter from US Legion Territorial Directors to members

Related links:
Life after RC
Max Arthur, What it was REALLY like for The Dambusters in the most audacious bombing raid of World War II
Dr. Clyde Wilson, in one of his comments to Patrick Buchanan's Did Hitler Want War? (also posted at TakiMag), writes:

Britain is our Mother and at the end of the day rightly had our sympathy. The free constitutional confederation known as the United States could not have been created by other than Britons. Our Founders perfectly understood that even though they chose to leave home and set up on their own. The influx of all later groups have resulted in deterioration. Britain, for all her sins, which are many, was a positive cultural force in the world in countless ways. If you want to take a deep historical perspective, I would say that the primary cause of World War II was the insane American entry into World War I. The Northeastern elites who ruled the U.S. made that decision.
To regard Britain as the mother of America is a sentiment with which Andrew Cusack would agree, I think. How other contemporary (traditional) Catholics feel about this... some would disagree and have no place in their hearts for Britain, either because they are too "American" or because their forefathers immigrated from places other than Britain, and in trying to be Catholic, they have looked elsewhere as an inspirtation for Catholic culture. (This was quite common among some people associated with Christendom.) It cannot be denied that during the time when the colonies were being founded, Britain was primarily a Protestant nation. How much, then, of post-Reformation English (or British) culture can be harmonized with a Catholic ethos and worldview?

Nicolas Moses responds to Dr. Wilson:

Dr. Wilson, though I have done everything I can to Latinize my mind, I have to confess that I too have a certain fondness for the British Empire (I am an American of Norwegian and Austrian descent) and a bit of nostalgia for the fast-fading ambiance of it’s legacy. I do appreciate your willingness to acknowledge that she did both good and bad; however, on account of my race, my family, and myself, I must wholeheartedly disagree with your judgment that I and my kind are the dregs of the U.S.: “The influx of all later groups have resulted in deterioration.”

Yes, Britain did much good, but she also did much evil, as you acknowledge, and her chief sin was undoubtedly to sow the social and ideological seeds of the destruction of her own fruit even while it blossomed. It was the degenterate Unitarian-Congregationalist coalition ruined the country, not the Irish, Italian, Polish, and German (nor even Mexican) Catholics they invited in to serve as pawns in their cat-and-mouse game. But so long as we remained unassimilated, I must assert that the portions of the country we settled (northern) only benefitted from our presence and I daresay needed this Hiberno/Continrntal makeover.

Our sin was envy: the burning desire to become WASP, and to allow the WASP to make us WASP in all but name (sometimes in name as well). The Kennedys are the perfect personification of this. The result is not pretty: a conspicuous display of everything that is wrong with both Irish Catholic and Anglo-Calvinist societies like such a disgusting warm red pimple on the tip of the nose. In the last half of the twentieth century, the outlawed Cosa Nostra was probably the most purely Catholic institution with any real power in America (that’s saying a lot), and whether it or the WASP political elite was the less decent is a question I am not qualified to answer.

The assimilation is ever-encroaching, on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. Nowadays even decent Catholics and decent Southerners fall prey to post-Puritan evangelical sentiment and vote Stupid Party in the general elections. We are all doomed unless we can extrapolate from our minds the toxic venom generated by one Elizabeth Rex…

Maybe we have more in common than it seems.

Peter Hitchens
has also revisited the question of World War II recently: Kennedy, war and empire (which contains a response to comments to his The rapid rebuttal unit writes..., I believe).

Another view of our bishops

In light of the Kennedy Funeral Mass and burial...

As much as I don't really like using the labels alpha/male/omega to name and describe human beings and their characters/personalities, I do think they are useful to some extent. Do we have too many bishops and clerics who are beta rather than alpha? Christians and non-Christians have talked about the "nice guy" syndrome and how it hurts men, the pursuit of their vocation, and how they relate to others. American clerics are not immune to the syndrome. Leon J. Podles, the author of The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, has criticized the bishops for failing to exercise leadership. The criticism that bishops are bureaucrats who compromise or stay silent in order not to alienate is a common one.

Is the problem merely one of pastoral strategy? Or is it primarily a defect in character that is the cause? Can there be a pastoral or a prudential reason to stay silent in the face of sin? So much is justified in the name of prudence or charity that they seem to be rationalizations of weakness. (After all, prudence had been denigrated as being self-interested calculation, over-cautiousness, or pusillanimity.)

The impetus for Church reform seems to be only when disaster strikes, and not before. Some point to the few good bishops and cardinals here and there, but a few have turned out to be disappointments as shepherds of their flocks.

DIALOGUE (Mr. Podles's blog)
From Fr. Z: D. Tulsa: New Benedictine monastery to be founded

I thought the name Fr. Mark Daniel Kirby was familiar, but OSB didn't look right. There's a reason for that--he was formerly a Cistercian, which I recalled. (Where? NLM? Or Beyond the Prosaic?) Then I became aware that he was the same person as the author of the blog Vultus Christi. There's more information about the new foundation here: A New Monastery: Our Lady of the Cenacle. Fr. Kirby posts his story at Fr. Z's.
Richard Spencer confirms that "Kevin Gutzman is hard at work crafting a response to Austin’s recent essay on how the American Constitution, contrary to the wishes of its greatest defenders, is hardly a safeguard against government expansion and centralization."

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Rainwater Harvesting Systems

The Rainwater Harvesting Community ::
Rainwater Harvesting System | Rainwater Harvesting Guide

CISTA: Modern Rainwater Harvesting Made Beautiful
Rainwater Harvesting at the Garden Home Retreat
City of Portland

Extraordinary Carmelites to Start Foundation in Elysburg
Paul J. Cella, Plutocracy and the crisis of usury.
The Republican candidates for governor of California so far include Tom Campbell, Steve Poizner, and Meg Whitman. Nothing to see here?

The Santa Clara County Republican Party is sponsoring a meeting with the candidates' representatives, who will be discussing the candidates' platforms and solutions.
September 9, 2009, at 6:00 PM at 70 West Hedding St., San Jose. To reserve a place, call 408.246.6600 or e-mail

Who's going to take about sustainability? No one in the Democratic or Republican parties. The Green Party? Unfortunately, the Green Party is not concerned only with the environment--it opposed Proposition 8 and is at the forefront of the revolution in morals.

California Republican Party
California's Ills Aid Candidate -

Trailer for Blue Swallow

Jang Jin Young's last film...
Actress Jang Jin-young Dies of Cancer at 35

``Actress Jang Jin-young passed away today at the Seoul St. Mary's Hospital at Catholic University of Korea. Even after she was diagnosed with cancer, she was always positive and tried to pay back the love and support her fans sent her. We will remember her passion toward films and we hope she stays in our hearts forever,'' Jang's agency, Yedang Entertainment, said through a press release.

I can't find any information about her religion. But she was at a Catholic hospital... I hope she received a visit from a chaplain.
It sounds as if South Korea is advancing rapidly towards the same social decay that is to be found in the United States, based on disordered social relations. From the Western Confucian, A Seoul City Councilman Speaks Hard Truths. (Link originally from The Marmot's Hole.)

Will this process be accelerated in Korea, and what will be the consequences upon Korean society? In Anglo-Saxon countries, what remains of Christianity's influence and Western notions of chivalry have in part prevented men from taking an appropriate response. But there is also the betaization that has taken place because of the United States's political development. I believe the laws protecting family and respecting its place and authority within society have been weakened in South Korea. I have doubts as to whether South Koreans have ever possessed a robust set of republican virtues, which was lost by Americans in the 19th century. Has the evangelization of Korea had as wide an impact as it has had on the United States and other Anglo-Saxon countries? Where is the war between the sexes more likely to escalate?

In contrast to the typical masculinized feminist harridan, a Korean actress who seemed very feminine has passed away -- Actresss Jang Jin-young Dead at 35. May she RIP.

Farewell to Jang Jinyoung

The Distributist Review: Chapter XIX: Building the Ownership Society

The Distributist Review: Chapter XIX: Building the Ownership Society
Asia Times: Wrong Swiss city
New Basel bank accounting guidelines fail to address the fundamental problems that helped to get the financial system into its present mess. Something much more stringent, a Geneva convention, is required, with the aim of preventing the banking system from destroying itself. - Martin Hutchinson
The Western Confucian posts a clip of Laetitia Nova singing Thomas Tallis' O Sacrum Convivium. From their website:

Mission San Francisco de Asis
○ワーク/大きな古時計 他

Soprano 小林容子
Alto  島谷木綿子 下村美穂
Tenor  田中隆裕 
Bass 鈴木信司 中原浩二

2009年11月8日(日) 17:00開演予定
Apparently they will be performing at Misión San Francisco de Asís and Mission Dolores Basilica in November? (If so, it's not listed on the calendar at the mission's official website yet.) Another video:

Monday, August 31, 2009

Austin Bramwell criticizes Kevin Gutzman: Original Sins. I suspect Professor Gutzman will be offering a rebuttal at TakiMag soon.

More from Dr. Fleming on Machiavelli

Machiavelli: Discourses B

Naturally, the Greeks did not think of everything or eclipse all subsequent achievement. Vergil is as great in his way as Homer and Sophocles are in theirs, and there are even classicists who think that Shakespeare is fit to be named in the same sentence as Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. In political theory, perhaps the most important contributions have been made by Machiavelli and his disciples—a group that James Burnham discussed in one of his best books, The Machiavellians, perhaps the late Sam Francis’ favorite book about politics.

Machiavelli advanced human understanding in many ways, but three of his most significant advances are associated with the words state, power, and liberty. The Greeks had not talked much about the nature and functioning of what we call the state. Aristotle did write a great deal about the nature of the city and the commonwealth, but of the state—a permanent institutionalized government that operates independently and often against the interests of the people of the commonwealth—he appears to know very little, except insofar as he is describing tyranny. But a tyranny, even a popular tyranny, is an illegitimate exercise of power, while the state defines legitimacy. The reason for the Greek and Roman silence-a silence preserved by St. Thomas—seems evident to me: the state is the creation of the later Middle Ages and the early Renaissance. There are at least two lines of development: the development of centralized monarchies in England, France, and Spain, which is fairly well known, and the less familiar development of the city-states of Tuscany. To condense a great deal of complicated history as succinctly and simply as I can, the republics of Pisa and Florence were the creatures of corporations, of, on the one hand, craft and mercantile guilds, and, on the other, of protective associations formed by rich and powerful families, initially aristocratic but later including the wealthier businessmen. The state, then, is the supercorporation that expresses the power of its constituents. This is in sharp contrast with the Athenian polis or even the Roman Imperium, which were conceived of as institutions that served the interests of the citizens.

The state is an instrument of power, the power exercised by the corporate members over themselves and, what is more important perhaps, over non-members or junior members. Thus in a state, politics is the pursuit of state power to use in your own interest and the interest of your family and allies. This fact is sufficient to explain what seems to be Machiavelli’s obsession with power.

The ancients were very interested in political liberty, which they regarded as first, a commonwealth’s freedom from external control, such as the control threatened by the Persian invasion, and secondly, freedom from arbitrary and abusive government. This is basically Machiavelli’s understanding. For Florence to be free, she has to be free of foreign occupation, whether French, imperial, or papal, and freely governed by a broadly distributed elite class that does not too much abuse the lower orders. To maintain freedom, the political class (neither Aristotle nor Machiavelli were foolish enough to include the masses) had to exercise vigilance. It had to recruit and maintain a citizen army (mercenaries, as NM warned, were fickle and dangerous) and it had to be prudent in spending and taxing. Florence’s wars of imperial conquest led to excessive debt, taxation, and, ultimately, to the opportunity for the Medici to buy the state.

Thomas Fleming, Machiavelli: Discourses A and Machiavelli I: An Abbreviated and Highly Inaccurate Brief History of Florence
Lawrence Auster has a round-up of posts on the topic of PUAs and Game.
The Thinking Housewife: Men in Ads and Why the Image of Spineless Men is Real

It's not just misandry -- it is also reality: the rise of the betas. Were the men of the past, who provided for the family and so on, mere betas? I wouldn't want to make that claim without more evidence, although it may be that American men have been slowly transformed into compliant sheep by the combined forces of government and industry since the second half of the nineteenth century.

Yesterday someone asked me what I thought about Milgram's experiment and what it supposedly said about people's morality and obedience to unlawful authority. She compared it to the participation of ordinary Germans in World War II. One thing that I didn't not was that these people submitted themselves to the researcher in the first place, much like the willing participant who volunteers for the hypnotist. I did make the point though that it may be an indicator that we have not been raising "active citizens" -- by which I meant citizens who can think critically and have the virtues to back up their principles. Secondly, that we do not really live in a "democracy" (or a republic), though it is claimed that we do. Members of centralized nation-states that claim to be democratic do not have the virtues necessary for the creation and maintenance of a republic? It doesn't surprise me. In fact, Aristotle points out that a good citizen is one who serves the regmie well and is not necessarily a good man. It is only in a good regime that the good citizen is also a good man.

More on Milgram's experiment:
Milgram’s Experiment on Obedience to Authority
Milgram basics
The Man Who Shocked the World
What Obama Isn't Telling You About Afghanistan by ANTONY DiMAGGIO
Madoff and the SEC's Revolving Door by PAM MARTENS
Asia Times: Central bankers stuck in a hole
By Hossein Askari and Noureddine Krichene

Is this the kind of publicity the Church needs?

NOR links to both articles: Kennedy's Letter To Pope Revealed At Burial and Excerpts of Kennedy letter to pope and response.

Perhaps there was some remonstration in the response from the Pope. Perhaps there wasn't. I think if I were dying I would like to have someone remind me of the reality of sin and its consequences, and advising me to get clean before I face judgment--not necessarily because they are presuming sin, but because they are reminding me how sin is incompatible with the love of God and eternal beatitude. But in the case of someone who publicly supported the "right to abortion"...
Rod Dreher asks: Are you quitting Facebook?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ted V. McAllister, The Reluctant Southerner: Reflections on Home and History
Is Kant's (first formulation of the) categorical imperative sufficient for determining certain precepts of morality? If the choice to live the American way of life is one that cannot be attempted by everyone on the planet without the ultimate destruction of humanity, then the CI would tell us that such a lifestyle founded upon inordinate consumption is wrong.

SEP: Kant's Moral Philosophy
Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals
Jeff Martin, Omnibus Response to Various Issues Raised by My Post on a Dessicated Conception of Property Rights