Category Archives: Philosophy

The Left’s Descent to Fascism, by Charles Hugh Smith

Charles Hugh Smith treats the Left’s descent into fascism as a fairly recent development, but it’s not. Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were fascists by most definitions of the word, including Smith’s. From Smith at oftwominds.com:

The Left is morally and fiscally bankrupt, devoid of coherent solutions, and corrupted by its embrace of the Corporatocracy.

History often surprises us with unexpected ironies. For the past century, the slide to fascism could be found on the Right (conservative, populist, nationalist political parties).

But now it’s the Left that’s descending into fascism, and few seem to even notice this remarkable development. By Left I mean socialist-leaning, progressive, internationalist/globalist political parties.

What is fascism? There is no one tidy definition, but it has three essential elements:

1) State and corporate elites govern society and the economy as one unified class.

2) This status quo (i.e. The Establishment) seeks to impose a conformity of values and opinion that support the dominant narratives of the status quo via the mass (corporate) media and the state-controlled educational system.

3) Dissent from any quarter is suppressed via mass-media ridicule, the judicial crushing and silencing of whistleblowers, and all the other powers of the central state: rendition, extra-legal imprisonment, political gulags (in our era, disguised as drug-war gulags), character assassination, murder by drone, impoverishing dissenters via firings and blacklists, and on and on.

The Left is now the political wing of the corporatocracy. As Phillipe Poutou, a Ford factory mechanic from Bordeaux who is the sole working-class candidate in France’s presidential election, so deliciously pointed out, the Left and Right status quo candidates are indistinguishable in terms of their self-serving corruption and elitism:Mechanic-Candidate Bursts French Political Elite’s Bubble (NY Times)

Here in the U.S., the self-serving Democratic Party elites operate within the Corporatocracy structure, in which the state protects and funds private-sector cartels; the two intertwined and self-reinforcing elites manifest and enforce state policies.

To continue reading: The Left’s Descent to Fascism

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The Swarm, by Robert Gore

There’s no stopping the swarm.

Thag and his tribesmen had taken down a mammoth that morning. The feast was still underway, but Thag was bored with the men grunt-bragging about their exploit and the women grunt-complaining about the tribulations of raising cave-kids. He retreated to his cave and sat outside it, absently rubbing two sticks together. His hand brushed against one of the sticks where he had rubbed it—hot. After rubbing some more he stuck a dried leaf on the hot spot, just to see what would happen. Smoke, a flame, fire! He dropped the burning leaf to the ground. How could this be? Fire came from the sky gods. The flame died out. He gathered leaves, put them in a pile, rubbed the sticks, ignited a leaf, and dropped it on the pile. Big fire! Warm—good on cold nights.

When Thag showed the tribe how he had tamed fire, they may have grunt-hailed him as a “genius,” although he had only stumbled on to something because he was bored. While cave living may appeal to certain sensibilities—Nature! No technology! Extended families living together! A sense of community! etc.!—it had to have been excruciatingly boring for any mentally active cave-person. Boredom is one of the most under-appreciated forces in human history, for both good and evil. Much of the change wrought through the centuries resulted from somebody trying, in either a beneficial or destructive way, to make life more interesting.

Couple boredom with a problem to be solved and sometimes the outcome is progress. It was a good thing Adam and Eve were kicked out of Eden, because paradise had to have been tedious. With no problems to constructively occupy their time, Adam and Eve were bound to get into trouble. It is no accident that the majority of human progress comes not from idyllic environments but from those in which the basics of survival—sustenance, shelter, warmth—are not readily available and must be obtained by the application of brain power to ostensibly unforgiving surroundings.

While the solitary genius figure exercises an attraction in both history and lore, the acquisition of most knowledge is more prosaic. It’s usually a numbers, trial-and-error, and networking game. With tribes dispersed around the globe, chances are that other Thags made the same discovery at around the same time. Given fire’s useful properties—heat, light, cooking, weaponry—once tamed the knowledge probably spread like, well, wildfire. It also prompted further discoveries. Heat up certain rocks and metal ores drip out that can be forged into arrowheads, blades, ornaments, ploughs, and so on. These new innovations allowed hunter-gatherers to become farmers, who generated surpluses that led to communications, trade, and eventually, writing and numbers.

The linchpin of discovery and innovation is dispersion of knowledge. While knowledge can be kept secret, mostly it’s a public good. Its spread in human communities can be likened to a beehive. The swarm seeks pollen and individual bees returns to the hive to let the other bees know what they did or did not find. It’s a numbers game: the more bees, the more trial and error, the bigger the network, and the greater the chance of success.

The exponential inflection point for the dispersion of human knowledge and hence, innovation, came with Gutenberg’s printing press in 1440. By dramatically decreasing the cost and increasing the scope of information dispersal, Gutenberg unlocked minds that had been trapped in dogma promulgated by the religious and political elite. Change was glacial during the Middle Ages, but in a comparatively short time the Reformation, Renaissance, and Enlightenment swept Europe. It was if a beehive went from 10 to 10,000 bees overnight: that many more questions, hypotheses, and trials and errors; that much more intellectual cross-pollination (pun intended), and a network that was no longer just those in one’s immediate vicinity, but which encompassed the entirety of Europe, and later, America.

This intellectual revolution was a direct threat to the Church and the state, bastions of unmerited privilege and inflexible, self-serving doctrine. While certain individuals were condemned and persecuted, it was the newly empowered swarm that posed the danger. Luther, Galileo, and others challenged the powers because their challenges were quickly and widely disseminated. What they planted required fertile soil—an audience. Given this intellectual upheaval, it was inevitable that someone would ask why, if individuals could think for themselves, they could also not govern themselves? It took a few centuries, but eventually the swarm overcame the elite.

The twentieth century marked both the resurgence of state-based elites and paradoxically, their inability to stop the swarm. Ironically, as defenders of orthodoxy, privilege, and the status quo, institutions of higher education and the legacy media supplanted the church. The swarm is questioning the steadily declining value of both, and eventually they will be rejected and either reconstituted or replaced entirely.

The swarm continues to expand and disseminate knowledge, notwithstanding governments’ best efforts to stop it. Despite two barbaric global wars and countless smaller ones, totalitarian regimes responsible for the suffering and deaths of hundreds of millions, welfare states that penalize the productive for the benefit of the unproductive, and the widespread intellectual and cultural embrace of statist doctrines, the swarm devises workarounds and progress proceeds.

Government began as a protection racket. Now it’s the chief threat to the physical, economic, and legal security of much of the world, and workarounds are popping up everywhere. Computerization and the internet, Gutenberg’s progeny, have dramatically lowered the cost, expanded the scope, and widened the availability of privately generated information. Cryptocurrencies and precious metals are viable alternatives to government scrip, and afford users far more privacy. There are huge global black markets in drugs, weapons, and many other goods and services (more enlightened jurisdictions are taking halting steps towards legalizing some of this commerce). Devolutionary politics are a response to the monstrously bloated, centralized governments that are impeding the swarm.

The question remains how far governments will go. Stopping the swarm is akin to standing outside a beehive and trying to shoot all the bees as they leave. The more stupidly retrograde governments, which may well include that of the United States, will take their positions, shotguns in hand. However, the power of any government is derivative and depends on the swarm. More enlightened governments will let the bees fly and enjoy the honey. The Eurasian political and economic alliance Russia and China are spearheading may prove a notable example.

Stupid, retrograde governments could destroy the world and end the planet’s most successful species. Short of that, substantial ructions that wreak havoc on present arrangements, the consequences of past stupidity, appear inevitable. However, while knowledge is not immutable, it has a tendency to survive, especially when widely dispersed among the swarm. Thus, there’s reason for optimism. The forces of ignorance, violence, destruction, and death have fought countless battles against the swarm, and while it has had its defeats, the swarm has always won—the world’s population is over seven billion—and knowledge has expanded. No matter how bleak things look, the betting odds again favor the swarm.

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No Need to Ask, by Robert Gore

People trade their self-respect for trifles.

He then bespattered the youth with abundance of that language which passes between country gentleman who embrace opposite sides of the question; with frequent applications to him to salute that part which is generally introduced into all controversies that arise among the lower orders of the English gentry at horse-races, cock-matches, and other public places. Allusions to this part are likewise often made for the sake of jest. And here, I believe, the wit is generally misunderstood. In reality, it lies in desiring another to kiss your a– for having just before threatened to kick his; for I have observed very accurately, that no one ever desires you to kick that which belongs to himself, nor offers to kiss this part in another.

It may likewise seem surprizing that in the many thousand kind invitations of this sort, which every one who hath conversed with country gentlemen must have heard, no one, I believe, hath ever seen a single instance where the desire hath been complied with; – a great instance of their want of politeness; for in town nothing can be more common than for the finest gentlemen to perform this ceremony every day to their superiors, without having that favour once requested of them.

Henry Fielding, A History of Tom Jones (1749)

Ass-kissing (A-K) is, as Henry Fielding noted, a paradoxical social phenomenon. Among those who request it, the requested never comply; A-K occurs only when the request is not made. One paradox Fielding didn’t mention: the more prevalent it becomes, the less anyone notices or remarks about it. Indeed, in our age even the most jaded and cynical, who dismiss all apparent virtue as hypocritical or false, who ascribe everything to the brutal machinations of venality, money, and power, seldom mention butt-bussing, although a distasteful but necessary examination reveals it as a powerful explanatory force.

Why are so many “luminaries” such obvious mediocrities? How does incompetence spread its leprous grasp? Why is so much obviously trite, second-rate, or just plain awful cultural fare not just tolerated, but hailed as brilliant, transgressive, and transformational? How can universities promulgate nonsense that leaves graduates stupider than before they matriculated? Why does the faintest of commendatory words—“nice,” “cute,” and “like”—dominate media, online, and verbal discourse, while we no longer hear terms like “admire” and “respect”? No answers are possible without examining the dynamics of sucking up.

Within the human psyche, two fundamental impulses war: to be liked, accepted, and fit in, or to be independent and stand alone. For the first to win, one only has to allow one’s emotions free rein. Being liked is usually pleasant, so that desire is the path of least emotional resistance. Independence requires a conscious decision and unwavering commitment, because it can lead to ostracism and hatred. The steadfastly independent guide their actions by principles, not random emotional impulse. If you know on which side of this dividing line a person falls, you know the single most important aspect of that individual’s personality and character.

For most people acceptance is more important than principle. Under enough social pressure, they’ll jettison whatever they’ve claimed to uphold. Government always rests on its coercive ability, but at least as potent a source of its power is the pervasive fear of independence and standing out. Many people would accept the state’s dictates and venerate it even if the gun was not figuratively or literally pointed at their heads. If A-K is your proficiency, you welcome a system in which economic, social, and political rewards are doled out by one’s conformity to the herd and obsequiousness to those doing the doling.

Politics is institutionalized A-K, which makes Washington the A-K capital of the world. An entire occupation, lobbying, is devoted to sucking up. This oleaginous trade solicits money from its clients to solicit favors from the government. (Any time you see the word “solicit” assume sucking up is somewhere involved.) Unlike that those bad old free markets where individuals trade value—goods, services, labor, credit, money, etc—for value, government trades goodwill, favors, influence, sex, etc. for power, payola, and prestige. As it expands, more and more of what transpires is governed by A-K, less and less by value for value, which puts the value creators at a disadvantage to the suck-ups. In the perfect world of the latter, the former would be completely at their mercy, abandoning their integrity, productive ability, talent, skill, and other virtues as they descend into supine suck-uptitude.

It is impossible to have your lips planted on someone else’s buttock, especially someone you deep-down despise, and not loathe yourself. Loathing themselves, butt-bussers cannot admire virtue in those who have it. It’s secretly hated and either publicly disparaged or denied. As A-K spreads like a noxious cloud from Washington out over the land, recognition and appreciation of virtue disappear, replaced by formulaic deference to socially and politically correct bromides and the faux virtues implied by those bromides.

In self-serving advertisements corporations signal their fealty to the approved causes of the moment. Campuses have become bromide bastions. Social media descend a step further. There’s nothing even faux virtuous about pictures of kittens and the like, but those who post them garner electronic affirmations that are worth less than the minimal effort—touching a screen or clicking a mouse—necessary to produce them. It’s a form of signaling: I’m safe and will give the crowd what it wants.

In order to ascend to the rarefied world of the enlightened elite, you are required to affirm membership with insipid and inane identifying incantations. You must be “awestruck” at the brilliance of obvious idiots and their ideas; “moved to tears” by ugly art, discordant music, unreadable novels, and tedious movies and theatre; fake laugh at the correct comics; cite approvingly propaganda masquerading as serious journalism, and praise the statesmanship of criminals. The elite unfortunately set the agenda for what the rest of the populace reads, views, and hears. The incantations are the elite’s public entrance exam; who knows what’s required privately. It’s undoubtedly unwholesome and disgusting, entangling its members in a vast, inescapable web: everyone kissing everyone else’s ass all at the same time.

The prevalence of A-K may elicit despair among those with no use for it, the few who would like to make their way based on their ambition, talent, skill, hard work and independent integrity. They have one grim consolation. The last several decades, as everybody was kissing everybody else’s ass, the world went to hell. Reality doesn’t kiss asses; it often kicks them. The A-K legions have ignored realities that might unpleasantly brook the approved narratives; realities that will not forever ignore them. Nothing is more certain: the world has an imminent rendezvous with a plethora of ass-kicking realities. The world is not completely devoid of justice.

a kick-ass satire

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Why Socialism is Here to Stay, by Jeff Thomas

Socialism persists and does its deleterious work because it promises, although never delivers, so much for so many at the expense of the few. From Jeff Thomas at internationalman.com: 

“[T]he government has to take resources from someone before it can dole them out to others. This act of taking destroys an economy. The more you take from the productive members of society, the less productive they become. That’s the primary lesson of the history of socialism.”

The above quote is from Porter Stansberry – from his book, America 2020: The Survival Blueprint. It states a concept I’ve described for years, but Porter states it more succinctly than I ever have. In particular, it negates the argument by many “progressives” that, even if they don’t recommend full-on socialism, they believe in getting “just the right mix” of socialism and capitalism to create the ideal system.

Unfortunately, as viable as this concept may sound, even moderate socialistic national policies result in moderate deterioration of the system. It’s not unlike being “just a little” addicted to heroin.

It may be argued that, “That’s different. With heroin, the addict will always end up wanting more and he’ll become even more dependent.” Exactly so – and that’s unquestionably true for socialism as well. Once the concept of “free stuff” is part of a nation’s governing system, the desire for more free stuff will inexorably rise.

And, of course, historically, we have seen that governments always step up to the plate whenever the demand for more free stuff is suggested. But why should this be so? Wouldn’t a more conservative government be less likely to proffer entitlements than a more liberal government?

Actually, no. To believe this is to misunderstand the very nature of governance. Those who are governed like to believe that their government exists to serve them, and all political leaders are quick to encourage this perception. However, amongst themselves, political leaders fully understand that they exist primarily to feed off of and dominate the electorate. Of course, they can’t actually admit this, but, regardless of party affiliation, that is their very raison d’tre.

To continue reading: Why Socialism is Here to Stay

Questions for Judge Gorsuch, by Andrew P. Napolitano

This is a thoughtful and interesting article about judicial philosophy. From Andrew P. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

I have spent this past week watching the Senate Judiciary Committee interrogating U.S. Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch. Judge Gorsuch is President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. The vacancy was created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia more than 13 months ago. The Supreme Court is currently generally divided between four liberals and four conservatives. As a justice, Gorsuch would probably break many ideological ties.

During the hearings, Republican senators are doing their best to associate Judge Gorsuch with the popular-in-death Justice Scalia, and Democratic senators are doing their best to try to pin down Gorsuch by making him commit publicly to positions on hot-button issues, such as abortion, gun rights and the use of unrestricted money in political campaigns. Gorsuch has accepted the Republican sobriquets and declined to answer Democratic inquiries with specificity. So, are the hearings of any real value?

Here is the back story.

Prior to the partisan efforts to block the nominations of the late Judge Robert Bork and now-Justice Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, the Senate’s “advice and consent” role was mainly limited to a cursory examination of a nominee’s qualifications for office. The Bork hearings succeeded in derailing his nomination by portraying his philosophical views as outside the mainstream of legal thought. The Thomas hearings, which failed to block the nomination, centered on the nominee’s alleged personal shortcomings, which were directly challenged and mainly refuted.

My point here is that since these two hearings in 1987 and 1991, the Senate Judiciary Committee has felt unleashed to probe and prod into any area it sees fit, and the nominees have become unleashed to answer only the questions that they think will advance their nominations.

To continue reading: Questions for Judge Gorsuch

She Said That? 3/14/17

From Edith Wharton (1862–1937), Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and designer The House of Mirth (1905):

Why do we call all our generous ideas illusions, and the mean ones truths?

He Said That? 3/8/17

From C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) British novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecturer, and Christian apologist, The Weight of Glory (1949):

We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.