Sunday, April 22, 2012
Does anyone find it the least bit odd that one of the most famous and, arguably, most powerful men in the world consistently complains about people who have a lot of money?
Monday, April 16, 2012
The "Noble [Subservient] Savage" Delusion
It's taught in schools and colleges. It's depicted in blockbuster films (i.e. Avatar and Pocahontas). And, it's yearned for daily in discussions, blog posts, and internet commentary... The noble delusion that we can all return to Eden, where everyone shares (and presumably no one leeches), everyone cooperates (and presumably no one's a slacker), and no one is crushed into submission by the desire to make the noted dream Real.
On my Facebook site recently an acquaintance had a link to an article about a tribe of people in Africa who are noted for their collectivist values and lifestyles (1000 points already, right?). In the article, "researchers" (who we know, of course, never have a personal agenda or propaganda point to make) simply presented a game to tribal children in which they could run to a tree where a basket of fruit was placed. The first child to reach the basket would "win" the desired treat. Of course these were non-westerners and appropriately non-capitalist pure spirits, so they all - supposedly - ran together hand in hand because of their pronounced sense of communal fairness. Out of curiosity, I later found that the "Xhosa" people are named for the local language's word for "fierce," or "angry" (subdued laughter now appropriate).
I don't call into question the "researches" conclusions (really). Maybe their appraisals were accurate. I don't doubt the possibility that this tiny group of children have been raised with an extra dose of good manners and even selflessness.
Some people don't like it when one is skeptical regarding such stories. After all, what socialist wants it to rain on their perpetual parade of the fanciful. Some of my skepticism arises from the recurrence of this meme among some academics. Margaret Meade famously told us of the pure souls of Samoa, leading to the disappointment of later research that found Samoans to have, among other human flaws, one of the highest incidences of rape in the world. That's right, they were flawed like all of us lowly products of western science, technology, and individualism.
I touched on some of these same issues before in a post regarding James Cameron's movie, "Avatar."
I don't think it would be a bad thing if people were generally more kind and voluntarily shared and cooperated (as many already do, in spite of what Hollywood tells us). Contrary to caricatures of conservatives, designed by the delusional clowns of leftdom, conservative philosophy has no gripe with people striving for social improvement and moral goodness. It's the restrictions or abolition of the voluntary part of the equation that gets a most of us concerned. Any society or political apparatus can order one to be "selfless" - not really all that impressive. Pretending that the lifestyle of a tiny tribe of people can be mimicked by modern techno-industrial societies of millions is far-fetched. Worse still to imagine that a return to cave or jungle would be a desirable path. A modern financial consultant may be stressed and notably competitive but I can't see the world being a better place if he or she had elephantiasis or a knowledge of science that was summed up in a few folk tales.
Rousseau was probably the first modern intellectual to begin this recurring nonsense that primitive people are better people and that our moral failures somehow emerge from our unwillingness to be pulled into some "natural " state of obedience to collective hierarchies.
I took a primate behavior class in college (highly recommended) and was amazed at how Chimpanzees and gorillas etc. had - in nascent form - so many of the things that leftists attribute to social conditioning or capitalism. I particularly loved one experiment in which a chimp was made privy to the location of some bananas and how he waited until the others were ferried away before he accessed them - for himself (I guess he didn't get the memo).
There will no doubt always be people who yearn for the imaginary times of the past or see some acts of communal behavior amongst more primitive peoples and think we could, or should, do the same because it would be "what's best for us. "
The children noted at the beginning of this essay are the equivalent of Bambi; cute, nice, ideal, but definitely not us. In the long stretch of human history and the variety of ways we can live, there is no evidence that "sharing" on a mass scale is possible let alone desirable.
If it's selfishness that some are so put off by, they may want to consider the possibility that their perpetual demand that others "sacrifice" and "share" on command may be one of the most selfish acts humans have contrived - and there's a body count to backup my argument.
"The noble savage" is a delusion. All humans have a bit of nobility and savagery within them and some choose one side with greater allegiance, but the most truly noble among us are those that freely choose to be so. Those who idealize some isolated examples of altruism as a template worthy of imposing on the rest of us are bound to disappoint (they always have).
Subservience is hardly noble but it most assuredly is savage.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
The Nice People
It's an unfortunate fact of social/political history that;
(Some) nice people supported Hitler. Average, often middle-class, decent people who would never think of deliberately harming another human being... Supported Adolf Hitler (!)
(Some) nice people supported Mao.
(Some) nice People supported (and continue to support) Fidel Castro.
(Some) nice people support the power and growth of arbitrary state political authority.
Some people are nice...
But that doesn't mean that some people aren't stupid.
Saturday, April 07, 2012
Imagination inspires beauty...but...
Imagination inspires beauty...but...
Practical reasoning and common sense gets the paint on the canvass.
Imagination and feeling embarks on new paths...
Practical reasoning and common sense keeps the car on the road.
Imagination and feeling can see a new and better world...
Practical reasoning and common sense can see the danger of excess and prevent the destruction of what is good in the world.
Imagination strives to solve every problem...
Practical reasoning and common sense pays the bills.
Imagination and feeling falls in love...
Practical reasoning and common sense keeps a marriage sound and stable.
Imagination and feeling "moves mountains"...
Practical reasoning and common sense applies itself to those things that can really be done.
When we are without imagination and feeling we are without art, music, and dreams...
When we are without practical reasoning and common sense the real world drowns in false notions and withers upon its own foolishness.
When practical reasoning and common sense pretends to act from the heart, we get shitty art, and soulless creation...
When imagination and feeling pretends to act for practical purpose we get chaos, sloth, and the rise of tyranny.
Feeling inspires imagination and practical reasoning inspires common sense.
Some are for some things and some for another. The real world would cease to function without either.
...Now, pay you bills, save your money, assist those in need, and listen to a good piece of music...preferably at an art museum and, by all means, don't pretend that half of reality is invalid because you've locked yourself into illusions or self-deprivation.
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
The Nonsensical Truth Squads of Social Media - Speech Codes Beyond the Campus.
I've got a Facebook account. Fun, fun, fun - not really. I initially got on the thing so I'd have a place to post photos of my family and some of my drawings and "art" photos for other family members and friends. I also, like many, came to enjoy brief updates on the lives of friends and people I've known. It works quite well to those ends. To other ends it often becomes just another laughable template for "progressives" to remind others that they hold the secret to all knowledge in general and that any one who dares to differ is... racist, fascist, stupid, selfish, etc. (yawn).
The first year or so, while posting links to science articles or writing a sentence or two on mundane personal matters, I deliberately steered away from any reference to politics. Just as when I'm at a social gathering and meet someone new or don't know an acquaintance's worldview, I think it would be damn rude to burst out with comments insulting random perspectives and idols - I don't bring up politics with people I don't know (assuming the possibility that they're views are different from my own or in the far reaches of the trendy-land left). The reasonable sense of decorum I try to adopt is often not reciprocated. I can't count the number of times that complete strangers or those I barely knew started spouting out cliche' hatreds for Bush, Palin, conservatives, business people, even America in general. There's often an occasional obligatory rant about Israel as well ('never quite understood the lefts' lockstep hatred of the only true democracy in the Middle East).
Like a good conservative, I guess I'm supposed to just nod in compliance, take the personal insults and cower in the fear that a label may be cast my way for disagreeing - "fascist, racist, privileged, capitalist, selfish, stupid, religious (my favorite since I'm an agnostic) etc. etc."
Enter, my last year or so of Facebook. Some friend's would post links to topical issues of the day and even comment or ask for responses - 'reasonable . But, More and more I began noticing the lefties amongst my "friends," and more often mere acquaintances, posting clearly controversial and partisan links bashing conservatives. The style was of course what those of us on the right have become used to amongst this crowd; clearly picking a fight, anything to prove to themselves that they had the one true monopoly on goodness. They were begging for responses but heaven forbid it be a " wrong" response.
On one occasion a third party commenter totally lost it, misinterpreting things that had no political relevance at all and really getting quite vicious while expressing their angst over other material criticising Obama - the god-man (never go there).
There's a "feminist" I know from years back who had always been a fervent femi-leftist (is there any other kind?). She recently has taken to posting extremely aggressive and insulting statements clearly hoping for a response from those like myself. But, I'm going to pass on that one. I've observed the psychology of the Jacobins long enough to know when an expression of reasoned disagreement is futile (this is one of those people who, if she actually had political power would be a raging dictator for the cause - complete with thought police and death camps). I wanted to respond to her last post with a question regarding why she she and other feminists had generally given a pass to Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Anthony Wiener, Bill Maher, et al., but not to Margaret Thatcher, Ayn Rand, Sarah Palin, or Michelle Backman, Michelle Malkin, et al. Of course, the answer is obvious; "feminism" has nothing to do with "empowerment of women" or responding to male chauvinism of various types. No, it's good old-fashioned leftism, packaged in the same dishonest garb as so much of civil rights, environmentalism, and "social justice."
A common issue that pops up on Facebook posts and comments among these people is to tie anything they don't approve of with the tea parties. Sometimes it's a mere side-note "...evil, racist extremists...like the tea parties..."). For my part I always point out - I think quite reasonably- that belief in limited government and lower taxation are valid viewpoints completely unrelated to "racism," "greed, " or "privilege" and, having a different viewpoint is actually an acceptable thing amongst civilized people who aren't on a mission to cram their custom made distopias down everyone's throat.
There is no doubt a civil war of sorts occurring in America today. I can't help but view it all in the way Andrew Breitbart described it in his recent book, "Righteous Indignation..." These people really are bullies, they refuse to accept the fact that half the political spectrum has a right to exist at all. While the product of a dynamic and diverse society, I have to wonder if some of these people, if given a chance, would be totally fine with mass-arrests and persecution of anyone holding views similar to the country's founders. These clowns are the heirs to Rousseau and Marx and like past kindred spirits of the same...they will hurt you if you dare defy them (and if the fates of history afford them the power). After all, they're on a mission..."to make a better world."
Offering me confirmation of what I've seen in these types so often before, a particularly troubling exchange was with a very intelligent ('last I heard he was an assistant attorney general for a state government) former friend from a couple of decades back. I remember meeting him again for a brief reunion a few years back and the first thing he said upon being introduced to my new wife was, "so, are you still one of those...(?)...Republicans?" (For what it's worth, I've never been registered as a Republican). When I "friended" this guy on Facebook, he accepted without comment. After numerous posts of my very cute daughter and some artsy photos, he finally found reason to acknowledge my existence upon reading one of my comments to another's post (again, I dared play defense for conservative/limited government values). This guy couldn't so much as note, "your daughter is cute" but was ready to roll when a fight could be picked regarding my defense of decency during the lefts' prime offensive on our country and its values.
I realize that much of this - being rather personal in nature - sounds like mere bitching but, I dare suggest that more than a few readers have encountered this same style of nonsense. It exemplifies the subtle underbelly of a phenomena in social media, but more so it reinforces the truth regarding the temperament of people who have become entirely unreasonable and intolerant of other people or viewpoints.
Andrew Breitbart's recent book keeps reminding me that we no longer have to take this shit; the lies, the coordinated overbearing tentacles in all aspects of the culture, the smug style of confrontation. Like many, I'm ecstatic that fewer of us on the right are now taking this nonsense sitting down. In spite of what our opponents think of us,they're dishonest, they fight dirty, and their goals have little to do with love of country or freedom. For them the bottom line is an old one, a contrived "equality" of outcome and a political structure lorded over by intellectuals and those who see themselves as intellectuals. Time to stop bending over and time to go on the offensive...
Like Andrew Breitbart said....." war..."