Monday, April 20, 2009

History: Islam and the Crusades

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At the Gates of Vienna blog I found this series of eight short videos that follow the history of the crusades. Historically accurate and engaging (if a bit scary), they are sobering and instructive. Warning to multiculturalists: this series is not Politically Correct!
Among other things, it is clearly shown that -- in contrast with Utopians of the modern West -- Muslims have no illusions about who they are.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An Adventure for Serious Readers

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Takuan Seiyo continues putting together a serious and engaging opus in From Meccania to Atlantis, complete with some interesting metaphors and a wide range of useful references. It is an ambitious and thoughtful polemic affirming the Western tradition in times of trouble.

Using the Invasion of the Body Snatchers as a metaphorical foundation to explain the hold that postmodern philosophy has gained on contemporary Western thought, he enumerates the historical causes and the self-destructive effects on modern society.

Meccania demands more than a casual reading, and the work has grown to some length, now in its tenth installment. Mr. Seiyo's writing contains some of the overreach to be expected in polemic, but his assertions are well documented, provocative and thoroughly entertaining. I find myself looking forward to his next installment in the way that an earlier generation did to serialized Dikens novels.

While Mr. Seiyo, like many other writers in the conservative tradition, identifies and condemns the long and growing list of collectivist follies, he does it with considerably more insight and skill than other writers I know of. Not content, he says, with merely describing the mindless retreat from the Western canon, he promises to offer practical and lawful remedial strategies. Whether he can deliver remains to be seen.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Cost of Political Evasion and Misdirection

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There are times when we make embarrassing mistakes. We can acknowledge the error and try to prevent a recurrence or we can practice deception on ourselves and others to minimize damage. Most of us, I suspect, do both at one time or another. Human nature, as I see it.
But for certain politicians the rewards for the latter course are enormous; the risks for the former unthinkable.
This post by Alex Epstein may shed light on the sorry state of the economy as well as that of some of our elected officials.

Timely Renewal of Ideas

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In is interesting to see the way ideas ebb and flow through the public consciousness. Some are current for a time, fade away and then re-emerge, newly apposite to changing circumstance. As books fall from best-seller lists, so do they occasionally return years later.
I am thinking of Ayn Rand's "Objectivism" (the ideas) and Atlas Shrugged (the books). This submission by Amit Ghate to Pajamas Media is instructive.

Response to Threats: Productive and Otherwise

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For those among us who find themselves wondering about the passiveness and denials of the left (and, increasingly the center) Dr. Joy Bliss, of Maggie's Farm, probes for answers from the perspective of psychiatry. I found this article (Part I) on Dr. Sanity's blog, and I think it is a useful analysis.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Some Thoughts On Equality

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The notion of generalized human equality is a staple – a mantra – of collectivists. Like so many of the ideas floated by the left, it sounds good, it rings with noble sentiment, but it is bereft of intellect and its meaning is corrupt. The applied, functional meaning is rather more like human leveling. The equality of persons, correctly and narrowly defined, exists only in the sight of God and the blindness of justice.
As history suggests and science makes clear, no two persons are identical, i.e., equal; at a minimum they will have physical, emotional and mental characteristics that will distinguish them from one another and from everyone else.
We are told that government (God help us!) must establish Equality of Opportunity among its citizens. But what can that mean? If persons are not equal, their opportunities cannot be equal. Some will say, “it ain’t fair”, and they will be correct. It is the way of the world. The concept of fairness is, after all, a human construction, and when prudentially applied – voluntarily and by free men – it may well benefit society.
But when we set out to impose “fairness” we are acting contrary to fact, reason and human nature. But that is precisely what the left is determined to do.
In socialist Western Europe, people become extremely disturbed about wide disparities in income, and we now see a similar uneasiness here in the emerging rhetoric of class warfare and in the eagerness of the political left to redistribute wealth.
When government uses its powers of armed, coercive force to impose a regimen of fairness on the polity there is little reason to hope for restraint, the preservation of individual liberty or helpful outcomes.
For a century and more we have seen the ruinous consequences to society of collectivist governments, but we seem to have learned not a thing.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Good Government? A Challenge To Readers.

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The challenge is simple enough, really. It is this: cite an example of a serious problem in contemporary society -- social, political or economic -- that is not caused by or exacerbated by government.

For readers who are vaguely troubled about the conditions of American society but uncertain about what is wrong, as well as those who know that serious problems exist but do not understand their causes, I recommend reading an essay (The Law) by Frederic Bastiat. Bastiat was a French economist concerned with the abuse of government power in France during the first half of the 18th Century. But The Law might just as well have been written about 21st Century America. He wrote with insight, wit and clarity, and his work explains much about what we are now facing.