Category Archives: Culture

The West That Was, Part 5, by Paul Rosenberg

The common law is an underappreciated cornerstone of Western civilization. From Paul Rosenberg at freemansperspective.com:

When law was sovereign

All of us in the modern West grew up believing that we were living under “the rule of law.” The truth, however, is that the rule of law – the sovereignty of law – ended a couple of centuries ago. And by losing it, we lost a primary driver of our civilization.

The sovereignty of law was never perfect, of course… it had to be applied by actual human beings… but it engaged the better aspects of human nature and thrived along with them. The systems that replaced it, on the other hand, thrive mainly upon human weaknesses.

What “rule of law” means to people today is that a single set of rules applies to everyone equally. That’s not remotely true in practice, of course, but that doesn’t make the concept bad: implementation in the real world always introduces problems. What makes our “rule of law” deeply and even fatally flawed is the part that’s not included in the slogans: the fact that a small group of law-makers stand above the law, not below it.

Unlike the rest of us, if the law-makers don’t like the way the law applies to them, they are free to change it, and can nearly always do so without consequences.

In the old days of Western civilization, no one was above justice. Law was sovereign over everyone. And that version of law was not made; rather, it was discovered. The judges of that era didn’t write edicts, they discovered and explained what was just or unjust in particular cases.

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Can the Great ‘Awokening’ Succeed? by Victor Davis Hanson

What happens when the non-woken awaken to the awoken and what they’re after? That’s happening right now, and epochal conflict is inevitable. From Victor Davis Hanson at amgreatness.com:

Wokeism is creating a future group of politically incorrect Trotskyites on a proverbial rendezvous with a Mexican ice pick, given that by birth they will never be woke enough for the new Stalinism.

We all know that we are living in revolutionary times. The origins, ascendence, values, laws, and future of the United States are all under assault by self-described, though accurately described, revolutionaries.

It is a Jacobin, Bolshevik, or Maoist moment. All aspects of life, well beyond politics, are now to be ideologically conditioned. Everything from kindergarten messaging, cartoons, workplace reeducation, and television commercials to college admissions, baseball games, and the airlines are to be “fundamentally transformed” along racial lines.

Long gone is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of a colorblind society. Gone, at least at the state level, is confidence in the melting pot of assimilation, integration, and intermarriage (although mixed marriages and multiracial children are at an all-time high).

Gone are even the affirmative-action doctrines of proportional representation and disparate impact. (Yet the two mandates were always arbitrarily applied, in the sense that the U.S. Postal Service and the professional football and basketball leagues never paid much attention to racial quotas based on demographic percentages, which apparently only applied to white and Asian “overrepresentation” elsewhere).

Wokeism, however, is essentially tribal. It seeks to identify particular nonwhite constituencies, unite them not by identical class, not by similar skin color, not by collective similar history, not by shared experience, not by mutual cultural affinities, not by longstanding historical alliances, but simply by two premises:

1) Those of the woke collective are either claimants to being “nonwhite,” and thus victims of racism, or they are architects and supporters of the wokeist agenda, and: 2) they can thereby all either directly leverage reparatory concessions in hiring, admissions, careers, compensation, and general influence or ensure the revolutionary guillotine exempts themselves.

A cynic might add that much of this new racialism is a product of globalteering, and seeks to cater to huge foreign markets—China especially—by both “looking more like the world,” and delighting America’s critics, while appeasing far less moral audiences and consumers abroad than a perceived shrinking market at home.

Still for the woke revolution to succeed, a number of experiments will have to go its way.

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Deontological Rivalry Pits East Against West, by Stephen Karganovic

In this rivalry, the betting favorite is the side that’s talking about truth, beauty, family, culture, and nation. from Stephen Karganovic at strategic-culture.org:

What is in progress is a clash between people and nations who support normal human values and the part of the Western elite which preaches post-human values

Russian historian and distinguished public intellectual Dr. Natalia Narochnitskaya was spot on in her Christmas homily delivered to cultural notables in Kaliningrad a few months ago when she said that “The world needs Russia precisely for being Russia, and therefore Russia must remain true to herself!”

“In our time,” she pointed out, “when beauty and adherence to norm are denounced as something vulgar and annoying, while sin and perversion are touted as symbols of sophistication, when all spiritual and historical sanctities of our people are being trampled underfoot, it is more vital than ever to avoid falling into perfidiously set traps. A huge role in this belongs to the Orthodox Church – the pillar and foundation of the Truth, but as well to all who are engaged in the fields of education and enlightenment.”

“Our mission,” Dr. Narochnitskaya continued, “is to pass our historical heritage on to future generations. Contemporary Russia, which is in the process of re-establishing its national and religious substance, is slated to become the world’s major powerhouse on the spiritual stage.”

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France: Macron Gave Up Fighting Radicalism, by Guy Millière

Is it Islam’s turn to rule Europe, or at least France? From Guy Millière at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • There are also teachers who, possibly because they are scared, choose to bow their heads, give up teaching certain subjects and — when students shout anti-Semitic and anti-Western insults — to act as if they hear nothing. It has become almost impossible in most French high schools to talk about either Israel or the Holocaust.

  • Most journalists seem to prefer avoiding all discussion of the advance of radical Islam in France. They know that those who do so are immediately called “racists” or “Islamophobes” and are often threatened, prosecuted, sentenced to heavy fines or fired from their place of work.

  • Even though what the journalist Éric Zemmour said was accurate and verifiable, the CSA (Superior Audiovisual Council), said that to state certain facts constitutes an “incitement to racial hatred”.

  • In 2015, a French journalist compared the National Rally Party to the Islamic State. [National Rally President] Marine Le Pen responded by posting on Twitter two photographs of crimes committed by the Islamic State and added, “This is Islamic State”…. In court, the judge asked Le Pen, “Do you consider that these photos violate human dignity?”. Le Pen replied, “It is the crime that violates human dignity, it is not its photographic reproduction”.

  • “Fourteen months before the presidential deadline of 2022, … the supposition is that … Marine Le Pen, will necessarily be in the second round of the election and that whoever will face her is no longer guaranteed to win”. — Le Monde, March 22, 2021.

 

Éric Zemmour (pictured), one of the only journalists in France who still speaks freely… is brought into court at least once a year. The fines imposed on him come to 10,000 euros ($11,800) each time. (Photo by Lionel Bonaventure/AFP via Getty Images)

 

November 1, 2020. Didier Lemaire, a high school teacher who works in Trappes, a small town west of Paris, published an open letter in the left-wing magazine Le Nouvel Observateur. He spoke of the murder of Samuel Paty, another teacher, savagely beheaded two weeks earlier by a Muslim extremist. He denounced the submission of the French authorities to religious intimidation and the impossibility of the French school system being able to transmit any real knowledge of history or to give students the intellectual means to think freely. He said that in just a few years, the situation in the city where he worked has deteriorated markedly. Lemaire wrote:

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More Casualties of Wokeness: Grammar and Spelling… Ain’t That Grate? by PF Whalen

The human brain thinks with two sets of symbols: words and numbers. The ability to think in large measure is dependent on the ability to manipulate those sets of symbols. From PF Whalen at bluestateconservative.com:

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The Word We Need To Make Sense of This Moment, by Paul Rosenberg

The scope of what we’re permitted to do keeps shrinking. From Paul Rosenberg at freemansperspective.com:

The past year has been a mass confusion of fear, misinformation, cover-ups, tyranny, crazed true-believers and more. Making sense of it has been difficult, and even those of us who try to do so professionally have come up short. But this morning the word we’ve needed rolled through my mind as I was waking up. And that word is scope. Please bear with me as I explain.

There’s a paraphrase of Aristotle that I love; it’s his definition of happiness:

The exercise of vital powers, along lines of excellence, in a life affording them scope.

There is a tremendous amount that can be unpacked from that short passage, and I suggest that you spend some time with it, but it’s the last phrase that’s so crucial to us now: a life affording scope. That’s what has been stolen from us over the past year, and it’s far more important than most of us have understood.

To limit the scope of human action… the scope of human will… is to limit our ultimate assets, which are intelligence, self-reflection and creativity. Without them, we sink back to an animal existence, because those are precisely the things which we have and which animals lack.

There is no greater crime than the mass restriction of scope. To oppress talent is to impoverish billions of humans yet unborn.

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Americans… ‘Know Your Enemy’, by Eamon McKinney

For most Americans, their biggest enemy is the American, not the Chinese, government. From Eamon McKinney at strategic-culture.org:

It wasn’t China that sold out generations of yet unborn Americans to feed the military Industrial complex to the tune of nearly a trillion dollars/year. It wasn’t China that bailed out the criminal bankers for trillions more dollars.

“Know your enemy” is one of the 36 strategies from the “Art of War” It was written by Sun Tzu 2600 years ago during the Warring States period in China. It was a treatise on dealing with war and conflict. I was almost entirely unaware of the writing during my first two years in China. That was 45 years ago when I was a foreign student at University in Beijing. I studied the language, the history and literature as a way to understand this fascinating and ancient culture. Doubtless the Art of War was not unknown in China, but I never recall it being quoted once in any modern context.

I was first acquainted with the work in earnest, not in China but in America. In 1979 after leaving China, I attended a leading business school in America in pursuit of an M.B.A. It seems that the Art of War was enjoying a rise in popularity, and was required reading at all the major American business schools. These leading business schools were grooming the next generation of American business leaders. Most of my classmates went on to be lawyers or worked on Wall Street. In many cases both. And they carried the lessons of the Art of War with them.

And what were the lessons that they extracted from this ancient work?

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Who Is Shaking The Jar? by Jim Quinn

Who is the real enemy of the millions of basically decent people in America, and why are they stirring up so much contrived conflict? From Jim Quinn at theburningplatform.com:

“If you catch 100 red fire ants as well as 100 large black ants, and put them in a jar, at first, nothing will happen. However, if you violently shake the jar and dump them back on the ground the ants will fight until they eventually kill each other. The thing is, the red ants think the black ants are the enemy and vice versa, when in reality, the real enemy is the person who shook the jar. This is exactly what’s happening in society today. Liberal vs. Conservative. Black vs. White. Pro Mask vs. Anti-Mask. Vax vs. Anti-vax. Rich vs. poor. Man vs. woman. Cop vs. citizen. The real question we need to be asking ourselves is who’s shaking the jar… and why?” Shera Starr

Who's Shaking the Jar? - The Thinking Conservative

A few weeks ago, I saw the above quote in Jeff Thomas’ article Learning from Ants, and it has been reverberating in my mind ever since. It is a perfect analogy for what has been happening in this country for years, with the jar lately being shaken at a rate faster than a Biden vote count increase at 3:00 am in a swing state. Everyone in this country, and the world, is at each other’s throats. Who is shaking the jar? Why are they shaking the jar? Why do they want us fighting each other?

If they keep us focused on fighting each other, they believe we will not notice their reprehensible criminality, as they manipulate the masses through psychological engineering and the employment of propaganda techniques to push their desired narrative. If you ask someone – who is shaking the jar? – they will likely answer based on the standard left vs right, liberal vs conservative, white vs black paradigm which has been created by those benefiting from conflict. It is always a safe bet to follow the money when trying to identify the culprits.

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The Inversion, by Robert Gore

Getting along by going along with the patently absurd.

A seamless web, they all believe because they all believe.

The Gordian Knot, Robert Gore, 2000

If it seems like the world has turned upside down it’s because it has. Right is wrong and wrong is right. Truth is lies and lies are truth. Knowledge is ignorance and ignorance is knowledge. Success is failure and failure is success. Reality is illusion and illusion is reality.

It would be comforting to say that this inversion is a plot by nefarious others. Comforting, but not true, in the pre-inversion meaning of the word true. Rather it stems from answers to questions that confront everyone. To think for yourself or believe with the group? To stand alone or cower with the crowd? It’s the conflict between the individual and the collective, and between what’s true and what’s believed.

We live in an age of fear. It’s not fear of germs, war, poverty or any other tangible threat that most besets humanity. It’s the fear of being disliked and ostracized by the group.

If every age has its emblematic technology, ours is social media, with its cloying likes and thumbs up and its vicious cancellations, doxing, and deplatforming. No longer must you wander through life plagued by that nagging insecurity—am I liked? Now you can keep virtual score: you not only know if you’re liked or disliked, you know how much and by whom. Unfortunately, that knowledge doesn’t seem to help; the scoreboards only amplify the insecurity. What was once an occasionally troubling question, privately asked of one’s self, has become a widely held, public obsession.

The official Covid-19 response is the apotheosis of inversion and probably the one that runs it off the rails. There’s a model that has repeatedly erred predicting infection and death rates by orders of magnitude. Use it! Politicians and bureaucrats, the two most power-hungry groups on the planet, are clamoring for unlimited powers to destroy jobs, businesses, economies, lives, and liberty. Give it to ’em, no questions asked! Sunshine, Vitamin D, fresh air, and exercise prevent diseases and lessen their symptoms’ severity. Lock ’em up! Lockdowns aren’t working. Lock ’em up harder! Masks don’t prevent or hinder viral transmission, their packaging says so. Double, triple, or better yet, quadruple mask! At high cycle thresholds, the PCR test throws off many false positives, inflating case counts. Crank up the cycle thresholds until Biden gets in office! Cheap medicines hydroxychloroquine, and ivermectin both prevent and cure the disease, provided it’s not too far advanced. Discourage their use! They work better than expensive vaccines. Make vaccinations mandatory! Scores of reputable and eminent doctors and scientists are questioning and criticizing the protocols. Censor them and follow our shapeshifting science! Death counts are inflated because hospitals have a financial incentive to attribute deaths to Covid-19 and anybody who has tested positive and subsequently dies of whatever cause is labeled a Covid-19 death. If they scare people into saving just one life…. The cure is far worse than the disease. Shut up or we’ll shut you up! There’s always germs out there and they constantly mutate, this horseshit could last forever. New Normal, Great Reset. It will last forever, and it will get worse, won’t it? We’ll circle back on that.

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Peer pressure is the fundamental force of the social universe. Anyone who’s part of a collective will be pressured to accept its consensus on matters trivial and important. Congruence between what a collective believes and truth is happenstance. The larger the group, the higher the chance of incongruence.

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The West Is Losing Its Soft Power, by Patrick Armstrong

The West, particularly the United States, has lost a lot of its appeal to the rest of the world. From Patrick Armstrong at strategic-culture.org:

“Soft power” is a useful concept whose invention is attributed to Joseph Nye in the 1980s. “Hard power” is easy enough to understand: it’s the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay or Marshal Zhukov in Berlin. But soft power is more subtle: in Nye’s words: “many values like democracy, human rights, and individual opportunities are deeply seductive.” There are two commonly used ranking lists: Portland – Soft Power 30 – and Brand – Global Soft Power Index. Portland’s top ten in 2019 were France, UK, Germany, Sweden, USA, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, Australia and Netherlands. Brand’s in 2020 were USA, Germany, UK, Japan, China, France, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden and Russia. The first rating is very Eurocentric, the other includes Russia and China. Another difference is the position of the United States, but that doesn’t really make much difference to the point of my essay which is about soft power then, now and in the near future.

The Second World War brought the true flowering of the USA’s soft power; from the cargo cults of Melanesia to the cargo cults of Europe, GIs brought the dream to everyone. The USA won the war in a way that no other power did – it emerged immensely stronger and richer into a world in which its natural competitors had been impoverished. At Bretton Woods and San Francisco it shaped the new world to a degree that no other power could. And, understandably, it shaped it to its own benefit, quite convinced that it had every right to do so as the victor and exemplar of the better future. Only the USSR and its sphere grumpily disagreed.

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