Monday, February 8, 2016

Quote: On the Moralism of the Left


The genius of liberalism, and the key to its great power, is that it promotes a certain view of the meaning of human existence, while claiming to be neutral on the question of the good. The New Liberalism pursues a certain moral vision only negatively, without having to take responsibility for any substantive moral principles, and it enacts this vision by criticizing, dissolving and undermining the authority of traditional morality and religion.

- Ralph C. Hancock

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Beware the Cult of Personality

One hundred and seventy three years ago, when I was still an undergraduate in college, I had the good fortune of taking a class on the history of the social sciences. I learned about and read from folks like August Compte, Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and yes, even Karl Marx. I have since come to realize that most of the thoughts of these gentlemen were pure hogwash, but also find that sometimes they actually had something to say about how societies are put together.

Max Weber, among other things, taught us about power and government rule. He outlined where political authority comes from, categorizing power into three groups: charismatic authority, legal authority, and traditional authority.

The United States was founded on the concept of legal authority. The Constitution was written as the supreme law of the land. The founders also understood that the rule of law promoted the most good for the most people.

Since the introduction of progressivism (a code word for socialism) in the US, politicians have chopped away at the Constitution and the rule of law in order to promote socialist programs that ostensibly help the poor. (I say ostensibly, because in practice, socialist programs have never produced any expected results.) With billions spent on welfare programs, on education, and now to prop up health insurance companies, our "progress" remains negligible. The number of poor has increased. The test scores of students remain the same and, in some places, are declining. Obamacare has increased costs and taxes, decreased coverage (except for that all important birth control!) and has failed to enroll the very people it was designed to protect.

All this has occurred because the people of the US have gradually given up the legal authority of the Constitution in favor of charismatic authority. We've replaced laws with charismatic leaders. We've turned the US from the rule of the people into a nation ruled by the cult of personality.

The cult of personality exists when people put their faith in individuals rather than in principles. A cult of personality exists when people praise and adore their politician. These cults are maintained through flattery and propaganda.

In the US, we have set our leaders up as demigods and grant them powers to "save us" from the "ravages" of life, economics, terrorism, poor choices, health problems, or the mean people over there that we don't like. We blindly follow anyone who will preach to us the gospel we want to hear, despite the obvious evidence that these chosen leaders don't really believe the twaddle they spew from their mouths. (Even more dangerous is someone like Bernie Sanders who actually believes his own twaddle. There's nothing more dangerous than a true twaddle believer.)

The sad part is that most Americans no longer stop to think of the damage that one person can cause a country. The demons of the past are lost to history and are forgotten.

We no longer pay attention to good ideas, but are deafened by soundbites and witty comebacks. We no longer even ask the question, "Which candidate will uphold the Constitution?" Instead, we bow and scrape before some of the most dishonest members of our society and are blinded enough to call them leaders.

What could possibly go wrong?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Some Thoughts on the Primary Elections

With the primaries starting this week in Iowa, I've been pondering the problems that face the country. Most everyone agrees that the country is headed in the wrong direction and that our economic foundations are not as strong as they used to be. The country has divided itself neatly in half with ideologies based on the direction we ought to take.

Half the country seems determined to place our future in the hands of politicians with the idea that somehow "they" can "make things better." These people blindly follow the lure of government programs, entitlements, and taxes. They follow the government handout. They crave the government concession. For some reason, they think that adding more government programs to an overburdened system will somehow create a new American Utopia of equality, goodwill, and peace.

Half the country tries to temper this headlong plunge over the Cliffs of Insanity. These people warn of the dangers of socialism and moral relativism. For their efforts, they are vilified, mocked, and openly hated for getting in the way of having an "open" and "equal" society. (And I do indeed use those terms mocking the hypocrisy of the left.)

Yet, much to my dismay, many of the people whom I have considered rational conservatives, who have promoted the foundational principles of the US, now march headlong after politicians or businessmen, in the futile hope that somehow "they" can "make things better."

We the people of the United States have lost the art of reason. Instead, we've generally replaced our responsibilities to elect good people who will protect our natural rights. We teach our children feel-good platitudes and mediocrity of thought. We elect, time and again, fools who now represent a country of fools.

It looks like this year's national election will be no different from any others from the past thirty years.

As a people, we deserve whom we get. Neither political party has offered any real differences for many years. Despite the virulent and spiteful words between the two parties (mainly from one direction) neither party really represents the foundational principles of the US anymore.

What about Donald Trump? Trump represents his own party. Perhaps that is his appeal among conservatives. Yet all I see in Trump is someone who has successfully created a cult of personality whose followers act just like a bunch of Democrats.

Followers of Hillary or Bernie have lost all sense of a moral compass. Their adherence to the doctrines of moral relativism and America-bashing have finally produced a people whose emotions and feelings get in the way of rational thought. Brought up in our wishy-washy educational system, these people condemn the foundations of our country, have nearly succeeded in removing them, then turn around and blame both the nature of the foundations and the structure when it collapses.

For example, they've successfully removed the rule of law in our court system. Then, blaming the rule of law for maintaining the "evil empire" of the US, they leave an unjust, arbitrary, and potentially dictatorial system in its place. When the system collapses underneath them, they will be first to condemn the structure for its inability to protect them.

This week we are faced with an election that places an emphasis on name-calling, blaming, and vitriolic language. We've placed our hopes in people, then have actively destroyed the institutions that created the ideals of life, liberty, and property. We've handed power to socialists, then have wondered why we no longer have any power over our government.

I am beginning to get a bit pessimistic about the future of the United States. "They" can never "make things better." Only we the people can.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Community College Plans Month of Whiteness Shaming

As our colleges and universities continue the free fall down the path of institutionalized ignorance, administrators fill the vacuum with the phantasm of social equality.

As a case in point, Portland Community College has announced that it will sponsor an event this April designated as Whiteness History Month to explore how the "construct of whiteness" creates racial inequality (source).

According to the school website, the month-long event will be "an effort to change our campus climate" by "[challenging] the master narrative of race and racism through an exploration of the social construction of whiteness." Defining their terms, the website explains that “whiteness ‘does not simply refer to skin color[,] but [to] an ideology based on beliefs, values, behaviors, habits, and attitudes, which result in the unequal distribution of power and privilege based on skin color.’”

Here, in a nutshell, is a clear indication of how schools have failed to educate the rising generation of students and how it has turned them into brain-dead products of a zombie apocalypse. Schools no longer teach students how to think but only teach what to think.

The progressive terminology, borrowed from sociology, is almost painful to contemplate. For example, notice the circular reasoning in the definition of "whiteness." The definition says that "whiteness" doesn't refer to skin color...but is based on skin color.

Blaming the perception of skin color as a "social construct," the progressives who planned this event go on to list a whole series of other "social constructs" which are poorly defined and impossible to pin down.

Consider the terms: "campus climate, ideology, beliefs, values, behaviors, habits, attitudes, unequal distribution, and privilege." The core of progressive dogma relies on such terms to indicate some vague and undefined dissatisfaction with the status quo. Then progressive dogma points to equally vague terms as a "solution" to the dissatisfaction it created.

This particular community college denies the very philosophy of liberalism that allows it to exist in favor of adopting a dangerous ideology based on debasement, imprecise terminology, and race warfare in order to produce...what?

As a best guess, I can only assume that the college wishes to promote some nebulous Utopian ideal. Would such an ideal embrace "equal distribution" and "lack of privilege?" It's impossible to say, exactly, since progressive goals change on a daily basis.

The Portland school is a brilliant example of such dogmas. By promoting a month-long event based on telling white people how miserable they should feel because of their "whiteness," the school creates a vague and unthinking rejection of the very philosophy that created liberalism.

This is anti-liberalism. It rejects individualism in favor of promoting groups over individuals. It rejects a philosophy of government based on the power of the people. It rejects the philosophy which destroyed slavery as an institution. It rejects the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence.

In its place, it creates a vague ideal which is ill equipped to handle the realities of the world and the problems of human nature. It replaces thinking with ignorance. It ignores the great moral questions by replacing good and evil with "values." It creates a vague and unsettling disquiet which can never be satisfied.

And it is a shame that this dogma has become the foundation of modern education.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Presidential Nominee Debates and American Values

The candidates from both Democrat and Republican debates often referred to "American values," mostly in the negative, as in, "Those are not our American values."

The idea of values is a slippery one, originating from old, worn out sociological ideas from Germans like Friedrich Nietzsche, Max Weber, and Sigmund Freud. The terms passed into everyday use in the universities, then into common parlance. Terms such as "value" or "value judgment" left the narrow use within the academic world and became general, nebulous ideas, difficult to pin down. Within my lifetime, the concept of values replaced long-held ideas of good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice.

Modern progressives thrive on undefined terms such as values, preferring to use value relativism in order to create the illusion of a better world. Of course, whenever a new idea springs up among the progressives, it too becomes a value. Because the term is so broad and undefined, trying to pin down progressive values is like trying to shoot a target that keeps moving up and back, and side to side.

Unfortunately, our schools now teach values, instead of moral and ethical standards. Schools reject teaching history and philosophy, as those disciplines help people learn how to think for themselves and show that there is value in struggling to choose good over evil. Modern education rejects any discussions of good and evil, right and wrong, preferring instead to measure student success against the moving target of relative values.

Schools refuse to teach students how to think for themselves, once the backbone of higher education. This is because thinking beyond the mutable progressive system of values is dangerous. Such education has become a Catch 22: We must not question our American values because that is not our American value!

The cure is to come to a real understanding of the intellectual history that created the self-inflated system of values. Knowledge of this history is required in order to understand ourselves and to provide ourselves with real alternatives.

Whenever a progressive argues, red-faced and spewing the most vile invective against anyone who disagrees, remember that progressives have been indoctrinated to avoid thinking at all costs in order to support their values.

It's a shame that they will never be able to understand any alternatives to the doctrines they've been fed. They've lost the ability to choose good over evil, preferring instead to mire themselves in a world of vapor and illusion.