Sunday, May 31, 2020
Did China make a major mistake in moving a few thousand troops across the Line of Actual Control into Indian territory?
It seems clear from clips from Indian media that the Indians are now mad as hornets. The one power on Earth large enough to threaten China on land, and now they are an enemy.
Remember BRICS? China seemed to be part of a coalescing informal economic alliance that challenged the G7: Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa. The league of emerging powers.
Now India seems interested instead in a British idea to expand the G7 into the “D10”: an alliance of ten leading democracies. Britain, Canada, the US, Italy, Germany, France, Japan—the G7—plus India, South Korea, and Australia. The key idea is that together they could meet one another’s high tech needs without relying on any Chinese components. Supply lines thus secured.
Yet it seems to me this might serve as the nucleus for a larger grouping of the world’s democracies; a possible rival for the UN that would actually have a unifying principle and be able to get things done.
One early order of business might be to create a unified health secretariat, to replace the failed WHO. Second order of business: recognize Taiwan, and bring them in as a member. See how China likes that—a suitable response for their effective annexation of Hong Kong. Third order of business: preference for fellow democracies in matters of foreign aid. Fourth order of business: mutual defense pact. Equivalent to NATO, which coalesced to counter the old Soviet Union. Fifth order of business: preferential trade agreement; “free trade.” This could help establish the new, more secure supply lines needed to replace China, and re-integrate the UK into a larger trading bloc to replace the EU.
Taking all of these measures should also create a major incentive for other nations to become democratic.
We may be seeing a new world order emerging.
|NYC Draft Riots, 1863.|
The current mad rioting across the US seems to demonstrate the reality of the Devil. It looks as though it is organized; yet it cannot be easily accounted for by any human agency. Therefore, the hypothesis that there is some independent malicious spiritual consciousness interfering in affairs.
There are reports of mysterious pallets of bricks left in prominent public places for mob use; of masked men with umbrellas smashing windows to encourage looting. There is a mysterious gap in the original video that triggered the protests…
The nominal cause for all the unrest is that apparent murder of George Floyd, captured on video. It is supposedly Black Lives Matter, or the black community more generally, demanding justice.
But justice was already apparently being served. The policeman seen killing Floyd had already been arrested and charged with murder. Moreover, the violent protests that we are now seeing are probably ending more black lives, devastating black neighbourhoods, reinforcing police presumptions that black people are violent and lawless, and suggesting to the public the need for more police and greater police powers. If the black community is doing this as a community, they are working against their own interests.
This is itself a hallmark of Satan’s work; that his followers work to their own destruction. But we also see videos online of blacks loudly protesting the looting and violence. And many if not most of the rioters have white skin.
A more plausible explanation is that the rioting, whatever happened to spark it, is driven by general frustration at the long lockdown, desperation at loss of employment, a feeling that the experts and the government have messed up and behaved callously during the epidemic. Yet if this is the impetus, the rioting and looting are again counterproductive. They are perfectly calculated to cause a new outbreak of the virus, forcing us all back into lockdown for longer. And justifying the government in not trusting the people to make their own decisions.
Some of the news media are apparently blaming it all on “white supremacists.” It might indeed fit their agenda, by discrediting blacks. But this presumes a massive, coordinated false flag operation, involving moving large numbers of people into places where they do not live, and having them all chant and spray-paint only slogans they disagree with—an improbable conspiracy theory, and certainly vastly beyond the capabilities of any existing “white supremacist” organization to pull off all across the country on a day’s notice. At least as any kind of organized group, they number only a couple of thousand at most, and these riots are breaking out in cities all over the country.
Some, including the governor of Minnesota, suggest foreign provocateurs are behind it all. This sounds reasonable to some, no doubt, because of current tensions with China. But as with white supremacists, the numbers of foreign agents and resources likely available seems beyond the realm of possibility. As a general principle, I doubt foreign intelligence services really account for much. By their nature, they amount to a group of bureaucrats operating without supervision. What happens when you put together a large group of bureaucrats and remove any supervision?
If individual agents or cells ever do get up to anything, the secrecy generally means they end up operating at cross-purposes, most often for their own narrow self-interests.
And “provocateurs” can only ever be a partial explanation. People must have a predisposition to be “provoked.”
Some, of course, blame the police for it all—it is all, including the killing of George Floyd, an assertion of police bullying. If they only kept the police away from the protesters, similarly, all would be well. Police themselves have not been helping this perception—at one point, they arrested a black CNN crew member on camera.
Yet policemen and police chiefs across the country quickly condemned the original killing. If some policemen have an attitude problem, it does not seem to be an organized or coordinated thing.
The likeliest explanation seems to be that Antifa are behind this. If Antifa is, as claimed, an anti-fascist organization, this would again be counter-productive. Chaos in the streets is a demand for Fascism. But I think it is clear that Antifa is not now, and has never been, an anti-Fascist organization. Rather, it is a Fascist organization seeking power.
If Antifa is behind the curtain, this too would involve moving people in large numbers into neighbourhoods where they do not live—Antifa’s membership is white and middle class. But they at least seem large enough, wealthy enough, and organized enough to make this possible.
It would not be surprising, either, if Antifa were getting funding from some foreign power.
Perhaps the upshot of these riots needs to be a concerted investigation by the FBI into Antifa.
Saturday, May 30, 2020
It must be tough to be a Christian apologist or professional debater, like William Lane Craig or Ravi Zacharias. You can have your arguments well researched, as Craig certainly does; but even so, sooner or later someone is going to come at you with something you had not thought of. And you can be left flat-footed.
I fear that tends to happen with Frank Turek. He is not that well-versed in the philosophy. He seems to get flummoxed. When he gets flummoxed, he will not admit it, but resorts to rhetorical tricks.
The person who sincerely seeks truth, wherever that search may lead, is a Christian. Only such a person shows true faith in God. The person who does not sincerely seek truth is not a Christian. You don’t get to be a Christian just by saying so. Frank Turek turns out not to be a Christian.
In a YouTube video I watched, an audience member suggested a possible response to the claim that postmodernism is self-contradictory. Instead of saying “all rules have exceptions,” the postmodernist can say, “all rules have exceptions—except this one.” Unfortunately, Turek simply denounced the statement as “too stupid to answer” and suggested calling the postmodernist who proposed it “poopy-pants.”
Thanks for claiming to speak in my behalf as a Christian, Frank Turek.
Let me respond, then.
The phrase “all rules have exceptions, except this one” to begin with, is not really to the point. A theist or other absolutist could assent to it; a rule can be absolute in principle and still have defined exceptions, or a defined context in which it is true. The Law of Gravity, for example, does not apply in dreams.
The real postmodern position that stands in opposition to theism is “there is no truth.” That is why they speak of “narratives,” and “my truth.” They might say instead, “truth is subjective.” Same meaning. So, rephrase the statement as “there is no truth, except this one.” If you prefer, “truth is subjective, except for this truth.”
But using “this” might be a little misleading. What is “this” in this sentence?
Try to replace it with what it refers to and you immediately get an infinite regression.
“There is no truth except that there is no truth except that there is no truth except that there is no truth…”
“Truth is subjective except for the truth that truth is subjective except for the truth that truth is subjective …”
And the statement never comes to an end. Making it logically impossible on two grounds instead of just one.
Friday, May 29, 2020
The Democratic Party and the legacy media seem determined to commit suicide by tantrum. The Communist Party of China seems determined to do the same. And now it looks as though it’s Twitter and Jack Dorsey.
By labelling a tweet by the President fake news, they seemed to be daring him to go after them and the rest of social media, and end their practice of censoring political views. Many on the right have been demanding this for some time. Now Trump can no longer ignore these demands.
Now he has signed an executive order demanding that the matter be investigated. And what is Twitter’s immediate response? To immediately flag another of his tweets.
It seems reckless enough to pick a fight with the president of the US, and seem to claim the right to tell him what to do. But it is worse than that. Trump is entirely responsible for the profitability of Twitter. It was on its way to die a natural death when he came along, and made it his main platform. Since he began, everyone had to have a Twitter account, in order to follow Trump.
Never mind Trump’s legal powers as president. All he would have to do is move off Twitter onto another platform, and Twitter is dead.
And it is exactly the kind of controversial tweets that Twitter is flagging that make him a must-read.
Has Jack Dorsey gone mad? Surely he is a smart enough businessman to realize that he is destroying his business.
Here is what I think must be behind it: Dorsey wants to force Trump to promote legislation requiring Twitter, and everyone else, to stop censoring and publish everything. He might even be in collusion with Trump on this, and be giving him cover.
The fact that Trump doesn't simply move off Twitter and kill it suggests that this is so.
Dorsey’s main interest, presumably, is in making money. So too with the other tech barons. It is in their financial interests to run everything, to promote higher levels of readership. Even if that were not so, policing what is posted costs money.
They have been censoring not because they want to, but because advertisers demand it. And advertisers demand it because people on the left have been complaining to them, and threatening boycotts if they are associated with political content the left does not like.
If they ignore this pressure and fail to censor, the advertisers can simply move their money to another platform that does. So none of the big companies dares to be the one not to censor.
It is a classic situation in which legislation can benefit everyone. Make it illegal to censor, and the advertisers will have nowhere else to go. And the advertisers are happy too—they reach more people, and can no longer be threatened with boycotts or bad PR by left-wing activists over where they advertise.
Thursday, May 28, 2020
While we in North America and Europe are tearing down our statues, no longer teaching history, deliberately discouraging memorization, and otherwise committing cultural suicide, the Chinese are learning all about Western culture.
I am currently teaching Chinese students of high school age online. It is extremely rewarding. I discover they have all had, in effect, a solid Western education. They have been taught all the little bits of traditional wisdom. They have read all the books and know all the history. Not excluding books I might have thought might be sensitive for political reasons, like 1984 and Animal Farm. No problems of political correctness there, it seems. In their free time, they have read comic books summarizing elements of Western culture. It is pretty clear the entire country is making a concerted effort to understand and assimilate what it can from the West. They know more about Western civilization and history than the typical Canadian or American university graduate.
The big gap is perhaps Christianity. But there are signs that, despite the government, the average Chinese is very interested.
For years, the league tables from the OECD have shown that students in Singapore, Shanghai, Taiwan, or Hong Kong do better on their standardized tests than anyone in America or Europe.
People have scoffed, and claimed the Chinese system is good for standardized tests, but does not teach how to think creatively. That may be so; I have no opinion at this point; other than to say it sounds odd to me to claim that the typical Canadian public school teaches creativity. Set that aside. Even if true, they are surely gaining a major strategic advantage: they understand us Westerners. We do not understand them.
“Western civilization” has been dying in Europe since about 1900. It started dying in America too as of about the 1960s.
I find it consoling that China might be able, in future, to carry that torch, the torch of civilization in general, without losing all that has been accomplished in Europe in the past two thousand years. Granted that the present government is a problem, and is holding this process back; but I expect the present government to be gone, one way or another, soon. I invoke dialectical materialism here: once any population has reached a certain prosperity level, around $10,000 US GDP per capita, a transition to democracy seems inevitable. Witness South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, or Singapore.
If those now in charge do not mess it all up on the way out, as they almost seem to be striving to do, the long-term future of a non-Communist China looks promising to me.
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
We are, as a society, dangerously ignorant, if not in deliberate denial, of the fact that there are people in the world who get satisfaction out of controlling other people and making other people suffer. These are, more or less, in modern psychological terminology, “narcissists,” those who wish to feel superior to others. The problem is common, because it is a common, indeed inevitable human impulse: to be as gods, as the serpent promised Eve. It is, simply, the impulse to evil.
Because we are ignorant of, or in denial of, the reality of evil, we no longer put up any barriers against them.
Anyone who gets satisfaction out of making others suffer will naturally gravitate to jobs in which they get to deal with especially vulnerable people, ideally people under their full, unsupervised control. Nursing homes are perfect for such purposes. Unless we set up a system to prevent it, we should expect that anyone in a nursing home is being abused.
Other obvious opportunities for such predators are, of course, orphanages, hospitals, mental hospitals, or schools. Especially residential schools.
We are in the habit of blaming the eternal scandals around orphanages and residential schools on the religious groups that had been running them. But religious groups cannot be blamed in the present case. The media narrative instead seems to be that the problem is with their being “private” and “for profit.” The problem will be solved, then, by having the government run them.
This will, of course, make the problem worse. Just as secularizing the schools and hospitals made the problem worse. It will reduce supervision, improve job security, and raise the pay, rewarding the predators and making the job more attractive to them. Private employers must please the customers: family members, if not the residents themselves. Bureaucrats get to do as they want.
We used to prevent or minimize such abuse by making such jobs part of a religious vocation. The churches ran the hospitals, the nursing homes, the orphanages, the asylums, and the schools. This was so obvious a strategy that it was followed, not just in North America and Europe, but everywhere, in Buddhist lands or Muslim lands as much as in Christian lands.
This approach meant staff were selected and vetted from the outset for their moral character. They were closely supervised at all times; not just on the job, but outside the job.
We have systematically removed all such protections.
Now the vulnerable everywhere must pay a heavy price.
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
The major world religions agree on most things. On basic morality, on an afterlife, on heaven and hell. However, it is valid and necessary to point out that they do disagree in some things; and when they do, at least one of them must be wrong.
Islam has made its fundamental disagreement with Christianity plain: it developed, after all, in the context of Christianity, and needed to differentiate itself. Christianity is wrong because it believes God is a Trinity; for Islam, God is a unity. According to Islam, believing Jesus is God is a ticket to Hell.
We are obliged to take a position on the matter. We cannot stay neutral.
First, why insist God cannot have more than one nature? Even a mere mortal like myself can have three separate Facebook pages, each presenting a somewhat different identity. Why can’t God do something similar? And God is omnipotent: does one deny his ability to do so? To deny such an ability is to deny your God is God—and that would be the apostasy. You are worshipping some demon.
One must assert, therefore, that God may choose to remain at all times one person, or manifest himself as many. Do we have the right to presuppose which he must choose or has chosen? Would God send us to Hell if, in sincerity, we chose wrong in guessing the divine intent? How would that be a moral failing on our part?
To make it a matter for hellfire, therefore, looks like special pleading to scare people away from examining the argument.
What is the evidence?
The evidence of the Quran is clear, that God is one and Jesus is not God. But the authority of the Quran depends on the assumption that it comes from God; using it as authority on the nature of God is tautological. The same is true of the evidence for the Trinity in the Bible.
Our conclusion must therefore be based on pure reason from first principles.
There are such arguments for the Trinity.
To begin with, to say that God is a perfect unity, lacking all duality or multiplicity, means that God is lacking something: multiplicity. If he lacks something, unless that thing is itself a flaw, he is less than perfect. Is being more than one a flaw? If so, creation itself is a flaw, and God must have been wrong to create anything. Either way, if he is envisioned as perfect unity, he is flawed.
Let us then consider the repeated Muslim assumption that Allah is benevolent, merciful. Or the Christian equivalent assertion, that God is love.
It is impossible for God to be benevolent or merciful in the absence of any other beings. Merciful to whom?
It is impossible for love to exist within only one being; love exists only with other.
Therefore, if either love or benevolence are intrinsic to his nature, he must have been multiple in some way eternally. Or, if he was not, his nature has changed over time. If it has changed over time, his previous state must have been lacking. And lacking in things we would consider intrinsically good: in love, in mercy, in benevolence.
So he was not God yet, for God is by definition perfect, and he was not perfect.
In sum, God is not God until and unless he is multiple. We must assume he is and was eternally.
The Chinese government cracking down in Hong Kong makes some sense in terms of survival instinct: to discourage internal revolution.
But China also seems to be picking fights everywhere and going out of their way to make enemies. At a time when the rest of the world already has reason to feel less friendly. This makes no strategic sense. It looks suicidal.
But it also looks like the recent actions of the Democratic Party in the US. As if they are daring the voters to turn against them.
It may be a sign that either, CCP or Democrats, see their own demise as inevitable, and are consciously or unconsciously seeking to hasten it to end the unbearable tension. One thinks of Hitler, launching doomed offensives rather than conserve his forces in the last months of the Second World War. If you're going down to defeat, you might as well do something high-risk and crazy, just on the off-hope it might scramble the deck.
Suddenly, in Toronto, it is summer weather—t-shit weather. It was snowing two weeks ago. After the long winter, and the long lockdown, it is futile to try to enforce quarantine. Last weekend, apparently people were cheek-by-jowl in Trinity-Bellwoods Park, without masks. The washrooms were still closed, so people were urinating at random. Similar scenes are reported from the US.
It has all gone on too long.
Grocery shopping, people were less inclined than ever to maintain distancing. There was little if any pretense. Fewer were wearing masks.
We may as a result see a sudden spike in new cases and deaths—disaster. We may not. I have long thought the virus is likely to recede for the summer, from sunlight and warm weather. There has been no spike in Georgia or Florida, which ended their lockdowns weeks ago.
I think the authorities are being unwise in maintaining the lockdowns. It would be better to end them, while stressing the need for masks and distancing. That way, they would maintain some credibility, and get some compliance.
Scott Adams has reported the interesting fact that Costa Rica has a local drug industry that manufactures hydroxychloraquine. As a result, they have been prescribing it at first symptoms. I do not know if this is with or without zinc. But Costa Rica also seems to have had a notably lower death and infection rate so far than other nearby countries.
If hydroxychloroquine really does turn out to be of significant value, a lot of people will have a lot of blood on their hands for ignoring or even trying to discount it. Why is it that, at this late date, we still have no properly controlled study looking at its use at first symptoms in combination with zinc, the situation in which, clinically, is has been reported to work?
This pandemic has, it seems to me, been an education in how corrupt and self-serving the people in charge most often are.
I think many others are coming to this conclusion as well.
Monday, May 25, 2020
“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.
They belonged to you, and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.
Now they know that everything you gave me is from you,
because the words you gave to me I have given to them,
and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you,
and they have believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.
I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me”
There is a common misconception that Jesus came to save all men. Church thinkers as prominent as von Balthasar and Bishop Barron want to believe all men will be saved. The consecration at the English mass actually used to say that Jesus came “for all,” a mistranslation of the previous Latin. This is of course what everyone wants to believe. It is reassuring.
But in this Sunday’s reading, Jesus plainly says otherwise. He came for a certain subset of mankind, who belong to the Father.
And this is the consistent message of the gospel. For example, at the very outset of the gospel, when some of the Pharisees come to the Jordan to be baptized, John rejects them, saying
“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”
They were refused as unsuitable for salvation. They were refused Christian initiation.
So on what basis are some saved?
The passage implies good works: “they have kept your word.” Yet it also says this group belonged to God before any such justification by works. Score one for the Lutherans?
The passage indeed implies faith: “they have believed that you sent me.” Yet it also says that they belonged to God before any such justification by faith. So much for the Lutherans. Score one for the Calvinists? Some are simply predestined to be saved, regardless of any justification?
Perhaps, at least based on this passage.
But perhaps there is a further clue in the phrase “out of the world.” Those selected by the Father, those for whom Jesus came, are those who are in some sense separated from or alienated from the world.
And this tallies with Jesus’s own clear enumeration of those who are his people: in the Beatitudes.
The people whom Jesus came to save are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger for righteousness, the peacemakers, the merciful, the pure-hearted, the persecuted. Such people do not fit in this world, and suffer in it.
And the rest, Jesus almost as much as says, can go to hell.
Sunday, May 24, 2020
It seems to me this is not a sign of strength, but of weakness. These look like desperate moves. What is the Chinese government afraid of?
A free Hong Kong could be the incubator of a general revolution.
The Chinese government presumably sees this as only too likely.
More generally, it may feel it must look tough abroad primarily to impress those at home into continuing submission.
Many noticed, and captured on their cell phones, a strange afternoon darkness as the current session of the Chinese National Party Congress opened in Beijing. This is one more sign, according to Chinese tradition, that a dynasty is about to fall.
On February 24, a young man went into a Toronto massage parlour with a machete and killed one of the masseuses. He has now been charged with terrorism—on the grounds that his motive was support of the “incel” movement, defined by CSIS as “violent misogyny.”
The press and media consistently describe him as an “extremist.” As they invariably do other terrorists.
The term presumes that the problem with his thinking is that it strayed too far from the average. This implies that the average person shares the same basic ideas in a more muted form.
In this case, that apparently means that we are all misogynists. We all believe we are entitled to sex, and that it is the duty of random women to give it to us. Most of us are simply not prepared to resort to violence.
I have a problem with the tacit assumption that sex on demand is okay.
Similarly, it is nonsense to call the attackers on 9/11 Muslim “extremists.” We have ample evidence that they were not particularly observant Muslims. They came from secularized, Westernized backgrounds. Al Qaeda ran brothels in Iraq.
I also have a problem with the notion that the average person and what he thinks and does is the standard of morality, or truth. This is what the term “extremist,” used as an accusation or charge, implies: “extreme” makes sense only in relation to a norm.
You want an obvious example of a person whose thinking strayed far from the norm? Here are a few: the Buddha. Socrates. Jesus Christ. Mother Theresa. Gandhi. Martin Luther King. Oskar Schindler. Churchill. Copernicus. Steve Jobs, with his personal slogan, “think different.” Any individual who has ever contributed any significant good to mankind. Any was, literally, an extremist.
By contrast, it is not so clear that the guy who stabbed the masseuse was an extremist. The term, remember, makes sense only in terms of a social norm. If you are surrounded by people who think the same way you do, you are not an “extremist,” but a conformist.
The RCMP investigation determined that the "crime was in fact one in which the accused was inspired by the ideologically motivated extremist [sic] movement commonly known as incel."
Most of his social dealing may well have been with that movement, which apparently thrives online. Incels are not generally the type who get out a lot. Accordingly, he was not an extremist—he was a moderate in relation to the social group to which he belonged.
The same is true of the team of hijackers who rammed the World Trade Center on 9/11. They were not extremists at all, but conformists within their social group. Indeed, a large proportion of the populations of some Middle Eastern Muslim countries probably supported the attacks at the time.
To call such people “extremists” is a perfect inversion of the truth, and is, worse, calculated to encourage such incidents in future. Going along with those around you is the opposite of morality.
Saturday, May 23, 2020
Apparently the death of Stalin was not entirely as in the film. He lingered for three days, drifting in and out of consciousness. And his daughter, who was present, says that at the last moment, he lifted his fist toward the ceiling, fell back and died.
Somehow, I expected him to show fear.
As Joan Crawford, lay dying, her housekeeper tried to pray in her behalf; and she objected: “Damn it! Don’t you dare ask God to help me.”
Hitler seems to have been unrepentant too. He cursed the German people for having let him down.
There seems something troublingly admirable in this holding out defiant and unrepentant to the end. One thinks of Jacob wrestling with the angel. God gave us free will; should we surrender it so easily?
There is obviously a conflict in our consciences.
Do not go gentle into that good night
Old age should burn and rave at close of day
Rage, rage, at the dying of the light.
And aren’t these ends more admirable, at least, than Judas’s reported end, hanging himself from a tree in his remorse? That seems, by comparison, rather more despicable. It feels like an attempt to get out of making amends. As Saul did. As Peter did.
Judas is, by tradition, the one person we know with certainty to be in Hell.
Catholic teaching is that God sends nobody to Hell. We decide to go ourselves. Is this what we see here? In their defiance, are Stalin or Hitler or Crawford choosing Hell?
Milton has Satan justify his rebellion against God with the famous phrase, “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.”
This sounds plausibly like the rationale here: a proud refusal to submit your own will to another.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
And yet, again, many or most of us find the sentiment in that famous poem admirable.
Stalin or Crawford or Hitler are, in the end, taking full responsibility for their actions, and in doing so, are also implicitly accepting punishment for their actions.
Perhaps they merit an incalculably long period in purgatory, rather than Hell. Or perhaps at least the lower circles of Hell are reserved for those who, like Judas, do their evil in secret and sly ways, pretend to piety, do harm while feigning affection, and then deny they did it.
Friday, May 22, 2020
Denial is an essential concept to explain the dynamics of a dysfunctional family. A family becomes dysfunctional because it is denying some core problem. The classic case is the alcoholism of a parent. Adult Children of Alcoholics reports that fully 50% of those growing up in alcoholic families will deny there is any alcoholism present.
But do not be misled; alcoholism is not the only possibility. It is only the one most visible to our materialistic society. The real issue is a parental vice of any kind. See the Seven Deadly Sins for the traditional list.
The family exists to support a parent in a vice or vices; essential to this is denying that it is a vice, or that they have it.
But if denial is such a necessary concept, why has it not been known throughout history? Why do we hear it only in the last few decades; why does it sound so much like “pop psychology”?
This is a misconception. A Google engram shows that usage of the actual term, “denial,” is no more common today that it was in 1850, or 1800; frequency of usage has been mostly consistent, with perhaps a gentle valley stretching from the beginning into the middle years of the 20th century.
That has to mean that, if it is being used more frequently in some new sense in recent years, it must for some reason be used less in some prior meaning; an improbable idea, and something that surely could not simply happen by chance. A prior concept has been appropriated by psychology.
Denial, of just the sort seen in a dysfunctional family, is modelled prominently by St. Peter in the New Testament. It appears in all four gospels.
We’ll quote Mark’s version, as Mark’s is most succinct:
While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.
“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.
But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.
When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” Again he denied it.
After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”
He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” (Mark 14: 66-71).
This is just the sort of adamant and repeated denial of the obvious seen in any dysfunctional family.
Moreover, it is from the same source.
The government—as in the family the parent—has done something wrong. They are rejecting and executing an innocent man on a false charge. Rather than standing against this government action, Peter denies the slightest inference that he might. Nobody is more loyal to the government than he.
The gospel makes it clear enough why this happens, in either case: in the first place, out of fear. Every family, to preserve the family delusion, has a scapegoat, selected by the guilty parent. The surest way to become the scapegoat is to be caught telling the truth—about the secret vice, or about anything. In the gospel, this social scapegoat is Jesus: Jesus is the ultimate scapegoat for all mankind. The treatment dealt out to the scapegoat within a family, or within society, then serves to keep others in line: they fear that, if they point out the family dysfunction, or the resulting act of scapegoating, they may be given the same treatment, be scapegoated in their turn. This then fuels the family denial.
Some may remember how this worked with homosexuality back in high school—at least as late as the Sixties or Seventies. If you did not go along with the general derision towards some unlucky classmate who acted fey, you risked being declared a fag yourself.
And so the family is kept in line: denial.
There is a yet more fundamental example of denial in the Bible. It happens in the Garden of Eden.
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8).
This is right after they have eaten the forbidden fruit; as obvious a denial of reality as we see in a dysfunctional family. God is omniscient; hiding in the bushes is not going to work.
Here, the cause of denial is guilt; awareness of sin.
This too is a common cause in a dysfunctional family. Aware of their own settled vice, the problem parent will almost instinctively encourage or lure their children into immorality of some kind. Once they succeed, the child is doubly afraid to acknowledge the family truth, for they have their own secrets to conceal. The parent can, in effect, blackmail them; and truth itself, in any form, comes to seem a threat.
The term “denial” may sound cheap to us now because modern psychology, in appropriating the term, has subverted it, by eliminating the essential moral issue. To put it plainly, psychology itself is in denial, and for the classic reason. The issue is sin, or vice.
Indeed, arguably, it is Adam’s and Eve’s denial of sin by hiding in the bushes that is the real original sin, the one that caused the Fall, and not the eating of the apple. Sin is inevitable, and was for them, given free will and a lifespan projected to be infinite. You sin, and you ask for forgiveness; a merciful God forgives. The problem is the denial, the refusal to acknowledge the sin, that commits one to the path of vice. This is just what original sin is understood to do.
The ur-sin of denial is then the reason anyone rejects Jesus and salvation:
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (John 3: 19-21).
Denial is, it seems, the sin of all sins; it is the turning at the crossroads onto the high road to Hell.
This is the most terrible consequence of growing up in a dysfunctional family.
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. …
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:1-6)
I never liked The Who. They may be the band that ruined rock and roll.
Ironic to say so, because “My Generation” is almost the ultimate rock song. But after that, they totally lost the plot.
They had no rhythm section—they lost the roll in rock and roll. No steady beat, no repeating bass line. It was all showboating, with three lead instruments.
And they smothered the music in more cheap showing off: Pete Townsend’s windmilling arm, only to play a simple chord. Roger Daltrey throwing the microphone around. Smashing their instruments at the end of the set. Talent no longer mattered; the music no longer mattered. Any no-talent can do any of that. You felt cheap and intellectually patronized just watching it.
Thursday, May 21, 2020
At first this story seemed too perfect; I thought it might be a hoax. But GQ seems like a neutral source. It's not the Onion, not the Babylon Bee.
Thrash metal drummer visits hell, not so keen on Satan anymore.
JP Morgan study suggests states that have ended the lockdown in the US have seen new cases decline instead of rising.
It seems to me the datum that new cases are actually declining instead of rising when lockdowns end strengthens the thesis that the virus is sunlight-sensitive, and going into decline because of summer.
It is still frustratingly hard to get reliable information about what is going on with COVID-19. Official sources seem to so badly lag unofficial ones as to be useless or even harmful; bureaucracies are vast inert bodies, and perhaps also riddled with special interests pursuing their own agendas. In the media, political partisanship seems to be producing false information consistently. And experts in the field are all over the map, disagreeing on almost everything. You can find an expert to support any possible position.
One prominent expert now says the virus may be dying out naturally. As I noted here some time ago, this is actually the usual thing with epidemics. It does not necessarily have to do with vaccines or “herd immunity.”
I look at the graphs at Our World in Data, and it does look as though he may be right. Among the previously hard-hit countries, the death toll has been declining steadily for some time. Although none are anywhere near herd immunity.
Better treatments? Perhaps. But the number of new confirmed cases daily has also been declining at about the same rate. Despite the rapid “ramping up” of testing.
The result of lockdowns? I included Sweden in the mix last time, and the trend still held. I hear that Austria, Czechia, Norway, and Denmark have been out of lockdown for a few weeks, and this does not seem to have bent the curve upward for any. Denmark, Norway, and Austria are still going down in number of new cases. Perhaps more slowly than during the lockdown period in the case of Norway or Austria. Czechia is trending slightly up.
I hypothesized that this might have to do with the coming of summer and warmer, sunny weather. To test the hypothesis, I look at Argentina, Brazil, Chile, South Africa, and Australia, a selection of Southern Hemisphere countries. Presumably, they are now moving into the colder half of the year, so their reported cases should be going up, not down.
And they are—dramatically in the case of Chile or Brazil. Australia is an exception, but they have taken lockdown measures that may have prevented the virus from yet establishing a foothold. Mozambique, Angola, and Uruguay also have seen few cases overall.
Meanwhile, the WHO is announcing that, worldwide, numbers are still rising.
So it still looks to me as though a summer lull is the likeliest explanation, rather than viral suicide.
Either way, we should be able to safely come out of lockdown for the summer in the Northern part of the big blue marble.
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Everyone was reading Hesse in the Sixties. Steppenwolf was the hallucinogenic Bible—a literary acid trip. People thought he was advocating Eastern philosophies, paganism, Jungian psychology, drug use, and an ethic of doing your own thing. Sadly, his reputation has waned since from this perception, just as the Sixties sensibility has waned.
I have reread him since, and he is just as good as he was. But he wasn’t saying the same things.
In his own journals, he speaks disparagingly of Indian civilization; and of Jungian psychology. He was actually advocating Christianity. In his own words, “Christianity, one not preached but lived, was the strongest of the powers that shaped and moulded me.” In many cases his essential point has been exactly reversed.
For example Journey to the East, as the title is translated into English, seems to be advocating a trip east to find truth. India or Tibet, right?
In fact, “Die Morgenlandfahrt,” the title in German, “Journey to the Land of Morning,” is the common term for the Crusades. Kind of changes the sense of it.
Of course, in the novel, he never gets to the east. Instead, the climactic final scene is a visual representation of John 3: 30: “He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less.”
I perceived that my image was in the process of adding to and flowing into Leo’s, nourishing and strengthening it. It seemed that, in time, all the substance from one image would flow into the other and only one would remain: Leo. He must grow, I must disappear.
Demian seems to advocate paganism and doing your own thing, scorning conventional morality. At least, its title character does. But look at that name again, “Demian.” It is actually a Christian morality play, and “Demian” is the Devil incarnate. The main character, who follows his lead, ends the novel in the fires of hell.
The realization hurt. Everything that has happened to me since then has hurt. But if I sometimes find the key and go all the way down into myself, where the fate pictures slumber in the dark mirror, then I only have to lean over the black mirror and see my own image, which is now completely like him, him, my Friend and leader.
For more on that, you could do worse than to read my paper, “Hesse’s Demian as Christian Morality Play.”
Hesse is not the only Christian writer the Sixties got wrong. How about Tolkien? His Ring trilogy was also de rigeur reading for hippiedom, and everyone thought themselves Hobbits. Far from being pagan, it was entirely intentional Christian allegory. Nobody seems to realize just how hallucinogenic and countercultural real Christianity really is.
Another foundational author to the Baby Boomers and the Sixties zeitgeist is Jack Kerouac. A lot of the phraseology and the concepts of the time, things like “hung up,” and hitchhiking across the continent, come from Kerouac’s On the Road and Dharma Bums. He is read as casting off Christianity for Buddhism, and conventional morality for “if it feels good, do it.” Being moral is being “hung up.” But he was actually advocating Catholicism, and called himself a “general of the Jesuits.” To him, one became “hung up” on desires, not inhibitions. Dean Moriarty, whose libertine lifestyle was taken by everyone in the Sixties as example, was not his hero, but an example of someone taking the wrong road. The book ends with Dean unable to talk, unable to explain or justify himself, refused the final ride, disappearing in the rear view mirror.
Dharma Bums begins with an encounter with a hobo who has carefully preserved, as his prize possession, a prayer to Saint Theresa. He is the “dharma bum” of the title.
Kerouac called the movement he inspired “the Beats.” People think this has something to do with rhythm and jazz music. Kerouac himself explained it as a reference to the Beatitudes.
He was plain enough; people refuse to see what they don’t want to see, and take it all the opposite of as intended.
Another example, speaking of beat, is rock and roll. People see it as the Devil’s music, soundtrack of Sixties rebellion, “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” Few seem to realize that rock’s roots are religious, and it got its energy from the gospel.
Go to YouTube and look for Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She invented it, and performed it in a thousand churches in the South and Midwest, That’s where all the early rockers heard it, singing themselves as kids in their church choirs.
Jerry Lee Lewis’s cousin was a famous TV evangelist, Jimmy Swaggart. Elvis Presley recorded a good deal of gospel; remember “Crying in the Chapel”?
You saw me crying in the chapelLittle Richard actually became an ordained minister.
The tears I shed were tears of joy
I know the meaning of contentment
Now I am happy with the Lord
Rock was gospel, but with the lyrics skewed to speak instead of courting and sexuality. And it has lost its energy since it lost this awareness of its origins. You want to feel that old rock energy now, you’re going to have to go back to a Pentecostal or a Baptist church.
How about another Sixties icon, in another medium, Andy Warhol? Supposedly all about sexual rebellion, right? Actually, there’s no evidence of any such rebellion in his personal life; he was a devout Byzantine Catholic. And, once you hear this, you can perhaps see where his art comes from: he was transferring the concept of the icon to popular culture.
The tragic truth is that all the underlying energy of the Sixties was directed towards a religious revival. It was a reaction to the deadening robotic scientistic world view, a rediscovery of the human soul. You even saw it budding, in movements like the Jesus people, the Hare Krishnas; and the like.
Then it was all strangled in the Seventies and Eighties by dark forces. By Marxism, by Yuppiedom, by the cheap materialist pseudo-salvation of New Age, and by postmodernist relativism.
I had a bit of an online scuffle once with a contingent of Leonard Cohen Facebook fans who were mocking Christians for playing “Hallelujah” at their funerals. After all, the song was obviously about kinky sex, and the Hallelujah chorus referred to an orgasm, right?
The pagan Cohenites apparently had no awareness that “she tied you to a kitchen chair, she broke your throne, she cut your hair” was a Biblical reference. They thought it was celebrating sadomasochism. Even though the first two words of the song are “King David.”
It isn’t just about the Sixties. It isn’t only the Sixties that most people seem to get wrong.
Years earlier, I had a similar scuffle with a fellow student who was shocked by my reference to Coleridge as a Christian writer. She thought him a pagan nature-worshipper and an advocate of drug use. A view that would have horrified Coleridge, a key Anglican theologian of his day.
And another scuffle with a with-it band of fellow students who thought it outrageous of me to claim Oscar Wilde as a Christian mystic, instead of, as they supposed, a prominent advocate of sexual libertinage and the gay lifestyle. You probably thought so too, didn’t you?
But his love of paradox is extremely similar to Chesterton. His fairy tales are full of Christian references. Wilde declared himself a Christian, converted to Catholicism, had a priest administer extreme unction at his death, and denied throughout his life being homosexual.
And I recollect another argument with a grad student who marked down my undergrad essay for referring to William Blake as a mystic. Despite the fact that his preface to Jerusalem has become the classic Anglican hymn.
There is serious and widespread denial here. It is embedded in the culture, and certainly embedded in the academy.
It is impossible to understand English literature in general, or Western art in general, or any art in general, in other than religious terms. Outside of Western Europe, there is no concept of non-religious art in the first place. English literature is incomprehensible without background knowledge of Christian symbolism, Christian morality, Christian philosophy. Yet it is never studied in these terms.
My ambition was to study it in these terms; I signed on for graduate school to study the new field of “religion and literature.” Unfortunately, that movement within the academy, timid as it was, died with the first generation of scholars. I arrived on campus just as they were retiring, and was unable to find a supervisor for a doctoral thesis.
Instead, the religious beliefs of writers and artists seem to be deliberately ignored, if not suppressed, everywhere. Instead, utterly foreign philosophies are imposed, things the writers themselves would not have recognized: Marxist interpretations, feminist interpretations, searches for supposed homosexuality, Freudian or Jungian interpretations, structuralist framings, existentialist framings, postmodern deconstructions. All of which arrive at having nothing to say about the text.
Realizing all this has long shaken my faith in the value of creating art. Being oblique, it can easily be misinterpreted, and lead people, as here, in exactly the wrong direction. Makes me wonder, what is the point?
But then, the same can be said of Jesus’s parables. They can be, and usually are, misunderstood, even to the extent of meaning the opposite of what they say. For one example, people commonly seem to suppose that “the Good Samaritan” is simply telling us to help those in need. “The Prodigal Son” has actually been preached to me as a lesson in the higher morality of never leaving home. Nobody seems to notice that every parable says something deeply transgressive of conventional wisdom, of their own time or of this.
Yet Jesus actually says he speaks in parables for this very reason: so that they will be misunderstood by people.
"The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables:
Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand."
Art is actually a way to separate the sheep from the goats.
In the Garden of Genesis, God forms Adam out of the clay—“Adam” apparently means “red clay.”
“God said, ‘Let’s make man in our image, after our likeness. … God created man in his own image. In God’s image he created him; male and female he created them.”
“Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
God made man as a potter casts a pot. Man is God’s work of art. And in breathing a soul into him, God makes man in his own image. Man has the soul of an artist. His mission is to create art.
When the Bible portrays the goal of creation, the heaven that will emerge at the end of time, it is a city, not a garden.
“I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.”
“Her light was like a most precious stone, as if it were a jasper stone, clear as crystal; having a great and high wall; having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. On the east were three gates; and on the north three gates; and on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. He who spoke with me had for a measure a golden reed to measure the city, its gates, and its walls. The city is square, and its length is as great as its width. He measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand twelve stadia. Its length, width, and height are equal. Its wall is one hundred forty-four cubits, by the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. The construction of its wall was jasper. The city was pure gold, like pure glass. The foundations of the city’s wall were adorned with all kinds of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; he fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; and the twelfth, amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls. Each one of the gates was made of one pearl. The street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”
This describes a vast work of art.
Man is co-creator of heaven. Nature is from God; art is nature processed through the smithy of our souls.
And the religious life is life itself approached as a work of art. That Christian mystic, Oscar Wilde, almost said as much: “I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works.”
It is traditionally understood that history is, to monotheists, the working out of man’s salvation. But this is far more true of culture. The development of culture is the development of salvation. Because this is so, culture is an ongoing war of good and evil.
This is why the understanding of the parables, the literature, the art is inevitably perverted. Because evil gets its innings.
All true art comes from the Holy Spirit—it is inspiration.
Yet it is then denied or perverted for the general population by the opposing power. Sometimes the initial inspiration is perverted by the original artist; more often by the academy or the experts or the popular culture.
When religion wanes, accordingly, art wanes too, having lost its inspiration. We see in more recent years that most of the arts are moribund. They are failing to create, because the artistic class has drifted away from the sources of inspiration.
We tried to get back on track in the Sixties.
It is time to try again.
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Another shopping day; about the only time I get a glimpse of the outside world. Cold May day, with leaves on the trees and flowers in bloom.
The store was more crowded this week, perhaps because of the long weekend. Half the meat aisle was empty; no powdered milk; a sign below the yeast and the baking powder warning to buy now, while supplies last.
People seem to be slacking off on the social distancing.
Trump has announced he is taking hydroxylchoraquine and zinc. The mainstream media have already declared hydroxychloroquine ineffective and dangerous. Now they must struggle to explain why Trump would be taking it himself. What will they do if a study comes in showing it is effective—for we have not yet seen a controlled study that used it as recommended?
No doubt the media would not report it. But the Trump administration could make sure the word got out.
That the media would have so recklessly got themselves into this position suggests their underlying suicidal tendencies.
Monday, May 18, 2020
My father and all his tobacco loved you,
I love you too in all your forms,
The slim and lovely virgin floating among German beer,
The mean governess of the huge pink maps,
The solitary mourner of a prince.
I am cold and rainy,
I am dirty as a glass roof in a train station,
I feel like an empty cast iron exhibition,
I want ornaments on everything,
Because my love, she gone with other boys.
I'm not much nourished by modern love,
Will you come into my life
With your sorrow and your black carriages,
And your perfect
Queen Victoria,-- Leonard Cohen
The Twentieth Century belongs to you and me.
Let us be two severe giants not less lonely for our partnership,
Who discolor test tubes in the halls of Science,
Who turn up unwelcome at every World's Fair,
Heavy with proverbs and corrections,
Confusing the star-dazed tourists
With our incomparable sense of loss.
I can’t stand to watch Justin Trudeau’s coronavirus briefings. There is something about the quality of his voice… feigned concern. He is too obviously an actor, and not a good actor. I feel my intelligence insulted every time.
Doug Ford is a little better, but still hard to take, for the same reason.
Trump was knocked for his apparent lack of compassion at his virus briefings. But I vastly preferred his approach, which was to give encouragement and hard information.
His new press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, seems to have taken over the task. She is immensely entertaining to watch. But mostly for her takedowns of the press.
The media are behaving outrageously throughout this; they have become the last place to go for reliable news. Given the technological pressures they face from the new media, it looks like deliberate mass suicide on the level of Jonestown, Guyana. But then, it looks as though the Democratic Party is doing the same, with their nomination and resolute support of Biden and the House’s passivity and obstruction.
I wonder if this is all connected. Trudeau, and Ford, speak to the voters like children; and the left apparently likes this. The legacy media, and the Democratic Party establishment, are indeed acting like children, refusing to deal with unpleasant realities. They are instead throwing tantrums and making demands.
They are spoiled adult children: narcissists.
And one secret about narcissists is that they actually always want someone else to take charge. They do not want adult responsibility.
As a result, they are actually doing everything they can to re-elect Trump.
Sunday, May 17, 2020
Steve Bannon likes to start his shows by saying “Some decades nothing happens. Some weeks, decades happen.” It seems we are at such a time. Perhaps the biggest time of turning since 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell. Perhaps since 1967-68.
A compendium of the present moment:
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has been declining in the US, UK, Sweden, and Canada for some time. For many weeks, it seemed to be only growing; we seem to have turned the proverbial corner, crested that hill. In the US and UK, it has been going down since mid-April. In Sweden and Canada, since May 1st. This is especially significant because it has been happening at the same time that testing has been growing quickly, so that we should naturally be seeing more new cases.
The daily death toll, a lagging indicator, is also now heading steadily down.
I include Sweden to see if this is a result of the lockdown. It seems not.
Throw in Spain and France. In Spain, the number of cases has been declining since the end of March; in France, since April 2nd.
Guess what this is all aligning with?
The coming of warmer weather.
It seems as though we can generally expect an abatement of the virus for the summer months. For what that should be like, throw in the antipodes, Australia and New Zealand: a small hump around the end of March, really of infected people arriving from abroad, until the borders were shut, and now almost nothing.
We should be good for summer, here in the Northern Hemisphere, at least if we stop flights from below the equator. Until perhaps October.
This gives us some time to prepare our defenses. At a minimum, even without a vaccine or a cure, with our newfound experience, we should be able to attack the thing the way the South Koreans did, testing, tracking, isolating, masking, keeping the economy going.
In the meantime, Tim Poole worries about war breaking out between the US and China; Drudge reports a Pentagon war game suggests China could win a war with the US in the Pacific.
Let’s unpack that. There has never been a war between two nuclear powers, and there is probably a good reason: Mutual Assured Destruction. So I doubt a straight-on confrontation between the US and China. I also doubt that the Pentagon’s war game really suggested a Chinese victory. If it had, bad idea to let that get public. More likely, they are projecting into the future, in order to convince the government to take China more seriously and spend more money on the military. We used to hear similar warnings about NATO’s capability against the Warsaw Pact.
It is true that the Chinese government has been acting aggressive. But the real effect of the coronavirus seems to be to have derailed their attempt to achieve world dominance by stealth. Now suddenly everybody’s on to it; in part thanks to their missteps in handling the virus and its public relations aftereffects, in part because the virus provides a vivid mental image of Chinese infiltration.
Their current aggression may therefore be a sign of weakness and frustration; people near the top may feel a need to show they still have a handle on things—because they do not.
Joshua Philipp expects the Chinese government to collapse within a year. I find that more likely than war. China is set for a spell of severe economic contraction. The government is going to run out of money: with the shutdown, where’s their stream of cash to come from? Their belt-and-road initiative is going to collapse, because they can no longer afford it, and because other nations are now going to be suspicious of their motives. Everyone is now worried about pulling their supply chains home, or diversifying them. People suspect Chinese products are designed to spy on them. Foreign investment is going to shift to India, Indonesia, Vietnam, South America. Demographic trends were already working against China, raising the cost of Chinese labour. A coordinated opposition seems to be coalescing around Hong Kong and Falun Gong.
For many years, few in China have supported the communist government for ideological reasons. Their popular support was based on the old Confucian idea, that the party was a body of experts who could manage well. They are vulnerable to any impression of incompetence.
Early in this pandemic, I theorized that it was a way for God to topple some malignant social entities. More than a theory; it follows from monotheism.
It may well be that it had to be this harsh to do the deed. But it still seems as if designed to topple the CCP.
Perhaps others. Perhaps also the Iranian regime; the Venezuelan; perhaps the EU in its present form.
In the US, it is hitting “blue” states far harder than “red” states; almost as though they were targeted.
Not that the mere presence of the virus should discredit the local politics. However, it seems to have prompted Democratic local regimes to resort to more draconian lockdown measures, in LA, New York City, and Michigan. This is their natural tendency, after all: top down, government driven. And this is perhaps producing a popular backlash. Some “red” regimes, like Florida and Georgia, are easing the lockdowns, and, so far, getting away with it, tending to discredit the big government approach.
The pandemic has also tended to show the established “experts” as frequently wrong; as either self-interested or incompetent. And the essence of “progressive” politics has always been rule by the experts.
I wonder whether the current crisis means the end of the American left as we know it.
There are signs. Google, for example, is cutting back on its “diversity programme.” Not ideological, the techie money guys were simply betting on the side they thought would be least controversial, and so most profitable. They may swiftly switch their bet from left to right.
Mainstream media outlets, the vital pillar of leftist control of “the narrative,” are dying like summer flies on the windshield from the lack of advertising revenue; and this is beginning to include “woke” online outlets too. For one thing, in the face of the pandemic, they are looking increasingly frivolous and irresponsible. If you want reliable news of what is going on with the coronavirus, it has been necessary to go to small independent sources.
Schools, colleges, and universities have been the other strong pillar of left-wing social domination; home of the “experts” and responsible for the indoctrination of the young. They too are particularly hard hit by this pandemic, with people forced to learn how to learn at home, busting their monopoly. Even if students return in the fall, colleges have been surviving and thriving on the foreign trade. Without those international tuitions, demographics should have forced them into decline a generation ago. And the foreign students are probably not coming back for some time.
New York City is apparently emptying out; twenty percent of the population of Manhattan has left. This is a natural reaction to an epidemic; London emptied out during the Black Plague. But having learned to telecommute, and that living at close quarters is not healthy, are they all coming back? The pandemic may inspire a general migration out of cities; something that economics seems to require in any case. Politically, this means a dispersal of the leftist base into Republican territory, where they will be, in most cases, a local minority. It seems likely they will over time adopt local attitudes more often than changing them.
In the meantime, circumstances seem to be combining to destroy the Democratic campaign for this presidential election to an almost uncanny extent. Biden’s mental capacity is visibly and rapidly declining; what were the chances of that? He has been caught by serious “metoo” accusations; he has been revealed to be deeply involved in Watergate-like political corruption in the Flynn affair. This on top of the prior apparent corruption of Burisma and Hunter Biden’s other business dealings.
The nomination process already looked seriously rigged. The Democratic leadership in general looked corrupt in getting him the nomination. Now they look incompetent in doing so as well.
A weak presidential candidate should hurt them in the House and Senate elections as well; but it seems to me that the House Democrats are messing things up badly enough on their own. The impeachment drive looked at best irresponsible, when we now see there was urgent action needed on the coming pandemic. During the pandemic, they are looking at best irrelevant, in staying away from Washington, at worst obstructionist. They have not looked like part of the solution, but part of the problem. The recent Republican victory in a Democratic seat in California may suggest a canary’s dying breath in an anthracite mine.
Interesting times, lads, interesting times.
Saturday, May 16, 2020
Diversity is our strength.
Or so we are told.
Common sense suggests that unity is at least as important. Diversity is more like friction: energy dissipated without direction. Chaos is the ultimate diversity.
Granted that I love the diversity of the Catholic Church: the thought of people all around the world worshipping as one.
But then, it is not the diversity I love, is it? It is the act of deliberate unity. The old American motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” similarly celebrates a movement to unity, not diversity: “out of many, one.” One might as well say, “out of lead, gold.” “Out of manure, flower.” Diversity is the given, unity the ideal.
The liberal goal of equality is a call for unity: the idea is to treat all men the same.
The medieval scholastics considered unity one of the transcendental values, the ultimate goals of human existence.
So why this new and pressing desire for diversity? Very new in the idea that diversity is to be preserved and celebrated.
A thought occurs. Unity is equivalent to purity, and purity to morality. Sir Galahad said,
“My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.” Our prime directive, Jesus said, is to “love God with your whole heart.”
The devil, conversely, literally means diversity: the word comes from dia-bol, to set apart. Devils are multiple by nature: "pandemonium."
We are dealing with something diabolic.
The subtext to this emerging celebration of diversity, I suspect, is that it releases us from obligations to do what is right. We get to act at random, and nobody can object. That’s “diversity.”
The idiom “to hell in a handcart” comes to mind.