Articles on this Page
- 10/01/11--14:21: _Dissecting a Chocol...
- 11/26/11--12:24: _A Postscript for Mo...
- 12/27/11--22:09: _Cave Paintings of C...
- 01/02/12--13:06: _A Flaw in the Const...
- 01/14/12--15:54: _Consorting With the...
- 01/24/12--09:18: _Mr. Thompson Live
- 01/27/12--11:35: _Obama's End-Game
- 02/07/12--16:20: _A Confluence of Forces
- 03/09/12--14:53: _Post-Apocalyptic Mu...
- 03/25/12--14:06: _Those Who Get It, T...
- 04/21/12--12:55: _Psychology of a Killer
- 05/03/12--13:36: _Follow the Network
- 07/10/12--22:36: _Psychology and Music
- 09/02/12--01:24: _They Can Do Whateve...
- 09/08/12--14:39: _Flotsam, Jetsam and...
- 10/21/12--11:04: _Trevor Loudon's Urg...
- 11/24/12--14:45: _When Good Men Do No...
- 11/30/12--02:18: _Denouement of a Lob...
- 12/14/12--15:35: _It's a Madhouse
- 12/21/12--12:23: _Postscript on a Mad...
- 02/10/13--14:29: _Keepers of the Faith
- 04/07/13--10:48: _The Appeal of Marxi...
- 07/17/13--11:48: _The Appeal of Islam...
- 12/09/13--13:36: _Chickens Come Home ...
- 03/27/14--11:44: _The Final Phase in ...
- 10/01/11--14:21: Dissecting a Chocolate Pudding
- "Desire for exploitation... seeking something that you want where a living thing happens to be in the way; examples include rape, plunder, conquest, and the elimination of rivals..."
- "Dominance... competition among individuals... competition among groups..."
- "Revenge... vendettas, rough justice, and cruel punishments..."
- "Ideology... which might be the biggest contributor of all (such as in militant religions, nationalism, fascism, Nazism, and communism)..."
- 11/26/11--12:24: A Postscript for Monument Builders
- 12/27/11--22:09: Cave Paintings of Chauvet
- 01/02/12--13:06: A Flaw in the Constitution?
- 01/14/12--15:54: Consorting With the Devil
- 01/24/12--09:18: Mr. Thompson Live
- 01/27/12--11:35: Obama's End-Game
- 02/07/12--16:20: A Confluence of Forces
- 03/09/12--14:53: Post-Apocalyptic Musings of Henry Bemis
- 03/25/12--14:06: Those Who Get It, Those Who Don't.
- 04/21/12--12:55: Psychology of a Killer
- 05/03/12--13:36: Follow the Network
- 07/10/12--22:36: Psychology and Music
- 09/02/12--01:24: They Can Do Whatever They Want
- 09/08/12--14:39: Flotsam, Jetsam and Lagan.
- 10/21/12--11:04: Trevor Loudon's Urgent Message On the Extreme Danger Posed by Obama
- 11/24/12--14:45: When Good Men Do Nothing
- 11/30/12--02:18: Denouement of a Lobotomized Nation
- 12/14/12--15:35: It's a Madhouse
- 12/21/12--12:23: Postscript on a Madhouse
- 02/10/13--14:29: Keepers of the Faith
- 04/07/13--10:48: The Appeal of Marxism is to Psychopaths
- 07/17/13--11:48: The Appeal of Islam Is to Psychopaths
- 12/09/13--13:36: Chickens Come Home To Roost on Saint Mandela
a talk by Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, it has some interesting statistics concerning the decline in violence throughout human history, but as Twain once said, there are "lies, damned lies, and there are statistics." It starts from the ridiculous assertion that
"The extraordinary 65-year stretch since the end of the Second World War has been called the "Long Peace", and has perhaps the most striking statistics of all, zero. There were zero wars between the United States and the Soviet Union (the two superpowers of the era), contrary to every expert prediction."He conveniently ignores an awful lot of very bloody wars. Picking a few at random (and including WWII just for reference),
1939-45: World War II (55 million) [note: other sources put the toll at up to 100 million]I have to note that the source for this is so uniformly optimistic as to be ludicrous itself. One should double or triple many of those figures. It lists Stalin's purges, for instance, as 10 million dead, when better figures are at least 20 million, and some are over 30 million.
1946-49: Chinese civil war (1.2 million)
1946-54: France-Vietnam war (600,000)
1947: Partition of India and Pakistan (1 million)
1949-50: Mainland China vs Tibet (1,200,000)
1950-53: Korean war (3 million)
1958-61: Mao's "Great Leap Forward" (38 million)
1964-73: USA-Vietnam war (3 million)
1965: second India-Pakistan war over Kashmir
1966-69: Mao's "Cultural Revolution" (11 million)
1967-70: Nigeria-Biafra civil war (800,000)
1971: Pakistan-Bangladesh civil war (500,000)
1974-91: Ethiopian civil war (1,000,000)
1975-78: Menghitsu, Ethiopia (1.5 million)
1975-79: Khmer Rouge, Cambodia (1.7 million)
1975-2002: Angolan civil war (500,000)
1976-93: Mozambique's civil war (900,000)
1976-98: Indonesia-East Timor civil war (600,000)
1979-88: the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan (1.3 million)
1980-88: Iraq-Iran war (1 million)
1983-2002: Sudanese civil war (2 million)
1998-: Congo/Zaire's war - Rwanda and Uganda vs Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia (3.8 million)
The way Pinker's thesis works is this: calculate violence on a per capita basis, and violence around the world has dramatically reduced over history; your chance of dying is less today.
Of course, on a non-per-capita basis, the number of deaths from violence has been going way up, and it isn't in the least clear to me whether he's including all the consequences of violence and statism, such as starvation, etc. How he explains his decision goes like
The denominator here is the world population, not the population size of countries involved in each war. There are arguments for doing it either way. The problem is that you can make the numbers go all over the place depending on the choice of the denominator, whether you choose the country that initiated the war, the collateral damage in other countries, the neighboring countries, and so on. So in all cases I've plotted deaths as a proportion of world population.So if you're going to make your numbers go all over the place, why not make them go all over toward your thesis? That is, the epistemology of a self-licking ice cream cone.
As to why there's been "no wars" since WWII, he says,
"Specifically, the number of democracies has increased since the Second World War and again since the end of the Cold War, relative to the number of autocracies...."I suppose if you consider the Soviet Union and Communist China "democracies".
"...There's been a steady increase in international trade since the end of the Second World War."More on that shortly.
"...There's been a continuous increase in the number of intergovernmental organizations that countries have entered into. And especially since the end of the Cold War in 1990, there's been an increase in the number of international peace-keeping missions, and even more importantly, the number of international peace keepers that have kept themselves in between warring nations mostly in the developing world."Again, more on that shortly.
"Nuclear weapons, paradoxically, are so militarily useless that they haven't really affected balance of power considerations. This is not to deny that deterrence has been important, just that the massive amount of destruction that countries like the U.S. and the USSR could inflict with conventional weaponry made each very nervous about the other even if neither side had had nuclear weapons. World War II in Europe didn't involve nuclear weapons, but was a kind of destruction that no one wanted to see again. The theory of the Nuclear Peace is quite popular, but I’m skeptical."Well, I'm skeptical of a lot, too. Then there is his statement that slavery has been reduced around the world:
"...just fifty years ago, slavery was still legal in Saudi Arabia... The last countries to abolish it were Saudi Arabia in 1962..."Even our own State Department might dispute that.
SAUDI ARABIA (Tier 3)
"Saudi Arabia is a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor and to a much lesser extent, forced prostitution. Men and women from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and many other countries voluntarily travel to Saudi Arabia as domestic servants or other low-skilled laborers, but some subsequently face conditions indicative of involuntary servitude, including nonpayment of wages, long working hours without rest, deprivation of food, threats, physical or sexual abuse, and restrictions on movement, such as the withholding of passports or confinement to the workplace. Recent reports of abuse include the driving of nails into a domestic worker’s body...
...The Government of Saudi Arabia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.Again, this report significantly understates the slavery problem in Saudi Arabia; they still hold slave bazaars, albeit no longer for public display. But Pinker's argument is that the slavery is less of the old-fashioned "yes, massuh" flogging variety. I suppose, as long as you don't have nails driven through your palms.
This was all part of a pattern of sophistic argument and presentation that left in me that lingering feeling of E coli poisoning, so I simply had to dissect it. His thesis, to summarize, is that the cause of the historical reduction in violence is: empathy, literacy, the rise of the State, the decline in individualism, and, if you can believe it, the rise in international commerce.
I think the real sub-text to this may be advocacy of a one-world state and some other silly nonsense. He talks of the rise of the "pacifying force of reason" -- which would be meaningful if he used that term properly -- but he defines it as
"...the cognitive faculties that allow us to engage in objective, detached analysis. ...People will be tempted to rise above their parochial vantage point, making it harder to privilege their own interests over others."Ie, apart from any self-interest. Keep in mind this is from an alleged psychologist. If you want to understand where he gets this viewpoint, he makes a confession:
"So what are the immediate causes of the Long Peace [after WWII], and what I call the new peace (that is, the Post-Cold War era)? They were anticipated by Immanuel Kant in his remarkable essay, "Perpetual Peace" from 1795, in which he suggested that democracy, trade and an international community were pacifying forces."No major surprises there. For anyone who doesn't know what Kant stood for, I offer as exhibit A: Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Communist China, and most of the deaths in that list up above.
The most curious incongruity in Pinker's thesis is the contention that international commerce (or what he calls the "theory of Gentle Commerce", from Tocqueville) has been a great pacifying force. This is somewhat conventional (a lot of people believe it) but keep in mind we're talking about a Harvard academic who admires Kant. I think the not-obvious but real sub-text here is the conventional Leftist line about the pacifying power of the welfare state, and I go back to my previous statement that he implicitly is advocating for the pacifying power of a one-world government free of individualistic concerns. He is not advocating for Capitalism:
"What were the immediate causes of the humanitarian revolution? A plausible first guess is affluence. One might surmise that as one's own life becomes more pleasant, one places a higher value on life in general. However, I don't think the timing works.This would seem to contradict my statement that he is implicitly arguing for a welfare state, but I think the difference is what he believes are the causes of affluence. He rejects the Industrial Revolution (the rise of Capitalism) as a cause because the timing "doesn't work", mainly by simply redefining it as a 19th century phenomenon:
"Most economic historians say that the world saw virtually no increase in affluence until the time of the Industrial Revolution starting in the early decades of the 19th century. But most of the reforms that I've been talking about were concentrated in the 18th century, when income growth was pretty much flat."Well, affluence increased from near-zero to something a lot more than near-zero, if you want to call that "flat", while mortality from disease and starvation declined precipitously and world population grew exponentially.
When he speaks of "commerce" as reducing violence among peoples he seems particularly confused. His definition of commerce is:
"a development of the institutions of money and finance, and of technologies of transportation and time keeping."Whenever you see someone define a key concept in terms of non-essentials, you have to wonder what essentials they are trying to evade. What makes commerce possible? Possibly—freedom, ie, individual rights, and governments that protect individual rights. On those terms, only some kinds of governments can have commerce. But when you define it in terms of "transportation" and "time-keeping", even a totalitarian state can have "commerce" (so long as there is a capitalist to make the trucks and keep their clocks functioning).
He even says
"The result was to shift the incentive structure from zero-sum plunder to positive-sum trade."Well, that sounds good, but here is how he interprets trade:
"We will hear more from both Leda and Martin that reciprocal altruism, such as gains in trade, can result in both sides being better off after an interaction."Putting aside that he feels the need to let Leda and Martin take all the heat for such a ludicrous definition, he is trying to smuggle in the idea that trading is "reciprocal altruism", not self-interested profit. "Positive-sum trade" becomes "positive-sum altruism" for Pinker.
That has implications. My interpretation: his view of a proper government is one which enforces "reciprocal altruism" at the point of a gun, ie, Collectivism.
He says statistical studies show "that countries with open economies and greater international trade are less likely to engage in war, are less likely to host civil wars, and have genocides."
Again, the meaning of his terms is important. Like Kant, I think that, for Pinker, A is not A, reason is post-modern enlightenment ("empathy", "altruism", anti-individualism, etc), commerce is state-controlled, trade is altruistic, etc. The "timing doesn't work" for freedom to have reduced violence, but for him it does happen to correlate with the rise of Marxism and the "Long Peace" after WWII, when (he repeats himself) nuclear weapons were never used.
Never mind that they weren't used because the Soviet Union didn't dare to use them because they faced annihilation by the United States.
He makes other points that sound good superficially, but are really insidious in how they attempt to undermine genuine ideas. He speaks of the civilizing influences of book production, literacy and academic schooling, which gives rise to reason and "the expanding circle of empathy", and he lumps this under the term "cosmopolitanism".
"...literacy gives rise to cosmopolitanism. It is plausible that the reading of history, journalism, and fiction puts people into the habit of inhabiting other peoples' minds, which could increase empathy and therefore make cruelty less appealing."Curious choice, that. The correct definition of "cosmopolitan" is "worldly". As he argues, the violence declined with the rise of the State, and with fewer warring groups. As he says,
"In the transition from Middle Ages to modernity there was a consolidation of centralized states and kingdoms throughout Europe."The point is actually more subtly woven into his thesis. He says
"What is the rate of death by violence in people who have recently lived outside of state control, namely hunter-gatherers, hunter-horticulturalists, and other tribal groups?"Or,
"There's the drive toward dominance, both the competition among individuals to be alpha male, and the competition among groups for ethnic, racial, national or religious supremacy or pre-eminence."He also speaks of the reduction of violence from "fewer interstate wars". He discusses this somewhat at length, while rationalizing the rise in civil wars as due to the "superpowers," but the implication is clear: fewer groups, less violence; fewer governments, less violence. To complete the syllogism, one government, no violence.
He also argues that the proliferation of "intergovernmental organizations" was a key factor. In my opinion, again, code for institutions like the U.N. and "one-world government".
What ideology advocates for centralized, one-world government today?
Let's move on.
Pinker argues there are five basic causes of violence:
That's right, he said there were five, but only listed four. I might add, "irrationality".
Note a common thread in these: "seeking something that you want", "competition among individuals", "cruel punishments", "ideology". I think the common denominator here is "cruel individuals pursuing their self-interest and exhibiting independent judgment, moral certitude and no ideology."
I know, I know. What a reach. But consider it in the context of everything else. For instance, he says
"...people tend to exaggerate their adversary's malevolence and exaggerate their own innocence. Self-serving biases can stoke cycles of revenge when you have two sides, each of them intoxicated with their own sense of rectitude and moral infallibility."Then he lists the four factors which inhibit violence: "self-control", "empathy", "moral sense", and "the escalator of reason".
Ah, yes. It's just like going to the shopping mall as a child: we commit violence because of our fear of taking the first step on the moving stairs of reason.
"Reason leads to the replacement of a morality based on tribalism, authority and puritanism with a morality based on fairness and universal rules."Fairness to whom? According to what universal rules? No answer.
What is "reason" to Pinker? It is people rising
"...above their parochial vantage point, making it harder to privilege their own interests."So you see he takes his escalator analogy seriously. How are they rising? Literacy that makes them more "cosmopolitan" and prepared to engage in the "gentle commerce" of "reciprocal altruism".
"Why should literacy matter? A number of the causes are summed up by the term "Enlightenment." For one thing, knowledge replaced superstition and ignorance: beliefs such as that Jews poisoned wells, heretics go to hell, witches cause crop failures, children are possessed, and Africans are brutish. As Voltaire said, 'Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.'"So literacy = reading Voltaire and knowing that Africans aren't brutish.
"Also, literacy gives rise to cosmopolitanism. It is plausible that the reading of history, journalism, and fiction puts people into the habit of inhabiting other peoples' minds, which could increase empathy and therefore make cruelty less appealing. This is a point I'll return to later in the talk."Back to the four factors. What is "self-control" to Pinker? Not doing violence. What is "empathy"? Following your emotions. What is "moral sense"? Altruism. He implies we're not supposed to exhibit independent judgment or have an ideology, but exhorts us to practice reason...
Hmmmm. In addition to altruism, it sounds a lot like some kind of rationalization for multiculturalism and relativism — sacrifice for other cultures — with a dash of Rodney King to end the violence ("Can't we all just get along?").
Besides the "pacifying forces" of "democracy, trade and an international community", Pinker goes on to say
"Hobbes got it right: a Leviathan, namely a state and justice system with a monopoly on legitimate use of violence, can reduce aggregate violence by eliminating the incentives for exploitative attack; by reducing the need for deterrence and vengeance (because Leviathan is going to deter your enemies so you don't have to), and by circumventing self-serving biases. One of the major discoveries of social and evolutionary psychology in the past several decades is that people tend to exaggerate their adversary's malevolence and exaggerate their own innocence. Self-serving biases can stoke cycles of revenge when you have two sides, each of them intoxicated with their own sense of rectitude and moral infallibility."I don't know about that "Leviathan" part (Pinker capitalized the "L", not me), but sure, we need government. What kind? He doesn't say. One based on individual rights, or one based on totalitarianism? No direct answer, but his thesis is all about the dramatic reduction in violence around the world because of the emergence of big government--during a massive rise in Marxist and fascist totalitarian governments throughout the 20th century. And the core tenet of his thesis is that if we measure violence on a per capita basis, everyone (including people under totalitarian governments!) is now better off than their historical predecessors.
He also talks of the pacifying force of the "Rights Revolution", which he defines as
"...the reduction of systemic violence at smaller scales against vulnerable populations such as racial minorities, women, children, homosexuals and animals."He also includes the demise of hunting and the rise in vegetarianism among the potent forces for reducing violance, and argues it comes about from the "Expanding Circle of empathy". (Again, it's not clear why he uses a capital "E"; is the "expanding" part more important than the empathy?)
There is also a bizarre non-sequitur woven into his reasoning as a tumorous, yet benign sub-text. It's repeated so often and is so ineffective that one has to wonder if the Expanding circle of empathy has emptied his brain cavity. To paraphrase, it goes like this: "Worldwide violence has been reduced to historic lows because we no longer have witch hunts, dueling, blood sports, debtors prisons, persecution of gays and animal cruelty in films."
To counter this sort of "reasoning", Pinker does make a pretense of advocating rational ideas,
"In addition, the decline of violence has implications for our assessment of modernity: the centuries-long erosion of family, tribe, tradition and religion by the forces of individualism, cosmopolitanism, reason and science."but it's a little like going to a symphony where they intersperse atonal nonsense within a program of melodic pieces from Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff—except the melodic pieces have been moved to an anharmonic musical scale.
It's the method of a con man, and a not very bright con man, at that—a common poseur.
The appropriately named Pinker is little more than another irredeemably post-modern intellectual wanna-bee, steeped in Kantianism, ensconced in ivy-league academia, and incapable of even seeing the general commerce for the trees. If I had to sum him up, I'd say he is anti-capitalist, anti-individualist, anti-individual rights, pro-one-world government, pro-collectivist, and probably some flavor of soft communist, but god knows, it doesn't really matter when your brain has the consistency of pudding.
In 1962, Ayn Rand wrote an essay, "The Monument Builders" (reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness), where she named the real nature of this special type of parasite:
...Socialism is not a movement of the people. It is a movement of the intellectuals, originated, led and controlled by the intellectuals, carried by them out of their stuffy ivory towers into those bloody fields of practice where they unite with their allies and executors: the thugs.
What, then, is the motive of such intellectuals? Power-lust. Power-lust —-as a manifestation of helplessness, of self-loathing, and of the desire for the unearned.Which gets to the subject of monument builders. Rand goes on,
The desire for the unearned has two aspects: the unearned in matter and the unearned in spirit. (By "spirit" I mean: man's consciousness.) These two aspects are necessarily interrelated, but a man's desire may be focused predominantly on one or the other. The desire for the unearned in spirit is the desire for unearned greatness: it is expressed (but not defined) by the foggy murk of the term 'prestige.'Think of "We are the 99%". She continues,
Unearned greatness is so unreal, so neurotic a concept that the wretch who seeks it cannot identify it even to himself: to identify it, is to make it impossible. He needs the irrational, undefinable slogans of altruism and collectivism to give a semiplausible form to his nameless urge and anchor it to reality—-to support his own self-deception more than to deceive his victims. "The public," "the public interest," "service to the public" are the means, the tools, the swinging pendulums of the power-luster’s self-hypnosis.
Since there is no such entity as "the public," since ...the concept is so conveniently undefinable, its use rests only on any given gang’s ability to proclaim that "The public, c’est moi"—and to maintain the claim at the point of a gun.
...Greatness is achieved by the productive effort of a man's mind in the pursuit of clearly defined, rational goals. But a delusion of grandeur can be served only by the switching, undefinable chimera of a public monument—which is presented as a munificent gift to the victims whose forced labor or extorted money had paid for it—which is dedicated to the service of all and none, owned by all and none, gaped at by all and enjoyed by none.Now we come to an interesting essay that appeared yesterday in Pajamas Media, titled Stealing as Policy, from the Iron Curtain to Robert Byrd, by Ion Mihai Pacepa, a former Lieutenant General in the Romanian Army. Pacepa was "the highest official who has ever defected from the Soviet bloc. In 1989 Romanian tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu was executed at the end of a trial whose main accusations came out of Pacepa's book Red Horizons (Regnery Publishing, 1987), subsequently republished in 27 countries."
This is the ruler's only way to appease his obsession: "prestige." Prestige—-in whose eyes? In anyone's. In the eyes of his tortured victims, of the beggars in the streets of his kingdom, of the bootlickers at his court, of the foreign tribes and their rulers beyond the borders. It is to impress all those eyes-—the eyes of everyone and no one—-that the blood of generations of subjects has been spilled and spent.
Over a year ago, I wrote a post, Maybe there ARE commies under every rock... that quoted Pacepa at length, in an interview where he and two other former communists explained old Soviet plans for taking over Western countries using fifth columns of thousands of communist agents burrowed into every government in Europe. So Pacepa's name caught my eye when I saw the column he penned yesterday for PJ, about how socialists inevitably become monument builders, and how this disease has infected the United States. For instance, he cites the example of the late Senator Robert Byrd:
"Over his long career in the U.S. Congress, the late Democratic Senator Robert Byrd was able to steal $3.3 billion, with a “b,” of tax money in order to build his West Virginia into a monument to himself. Several transportation projects named after him gained national notoriety. The Robert C. Byrd Highway, also known as the Appalachian Development Highway System, was dubbed “West Virginia’s road to nowhere” in 2009, after it received a $9.5 million earmark in the $410 billion Omnibus Appropriation Act and $21 million more from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. More than 50 buildings erected with tax money stolen by Senator Byrd are now named for him. Here are a few: Robert C. Byrd Community Center, Pine Grove, WV; Robert C. Byrd Federal Correction Institution, Hazelton, WV; Robert C. Byrd Visitor Center, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, WV; Robert C. Byrd United States R Courthouse and Federal Building, Charleston, WV; Robert C. Byrd Academic and Technology Center, Marshall University in Huntington, WV; Robert C. Byrd Auditorium, National Conservation Center, WV; Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, Green Bank, WV; Robert C. Byrd Library, Wheeling, WV."And this reminded me of Ayn Rand's essay. For years, I've myself lamented and condemned the proliferation of monuments to public officials — especially living public officials. For instance, we no longer name naval ships after things like "Enterprise", "Kitty Hawk", "Lexington" or "Independence" — we name them after John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Harry Truman, John C. Stennis or George W. Bush.
This habit of politicians has grown so malignant that it's now de rigueur in many of the bills passed by Congress: the real payment for securing funding for some kind of pork is not the votes-- it's the right of a politician to have his name attached to the bridges, roads, buildings, ships, airports, parks, public housing projects and just about anything else that he connived via backroom deals to get funded.
The right to be immortalized for being a looter of the people they pretend to "serve".
The movement is just getting under way for Barack Obama. As Pacepa notes:
President Obama’s current redistribution of the country’s wealth caused the downgrading of the U.S. credit rating for the first time in our country’s history, but it helped the young president to start transforming the U.S. into a monument to himself. Below is just a partial list of projects and places already named after President Obama.
California: President Barack Obama Parkway, Orlando; Obama Way, Seaside; Barack Obama Charter School, Compton; Barack Obama Global Preparation Academy, Los Angeles; Barack Obama Academy, Oakland.Small potatoes, so far, but these are still the kinds of monuments Ayn Rand talked about in her 1962 essay. As she said then,
Florida: Barack Obama Avenue, Opa-loka; Barack Obama Boulevard, West Park.
Maryland: Barack Obama Elementary School, Upper Marlboro.
Missouri: Barack Obama Elementary School, Pine Lawn.
Minnesota: Barack and Michelle Obama Service Learning Elementary, Saint Paul.
New Jersey: Barack Obama Academy, Plainfield; Barack Obama Green Charter High School, Plainfield.
New York: Barack Obama Elementary School, Hempstead.
Pennsylvania: Obama High School, Pittsburgh.
Texas: Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, Dallas.
One may see, in certain Biblical movies, a graphic image of the meaning of public monument building: the building of the pyramids. Hordes of starved, ragged, emaciated men straining the last effort of their inadequate muscles at the inhuman task of pulling the ropes that drag large chunks of stone, straining like tortured beasts of burden under the whips of overseers, collapsing on the job and dying in the desert sands—that a dead Pharaoh might lie in an imposingly senseless structure and thus gain eternal "prestige" in the eyes of the unborn of future generations.As she notes, our country set itself apart from so many others throughout history:
...The great distinction of the United States of America, up to the last few decades, was the modesty of its public monuments. Such monuments as did exist were genuine: they were not erected for "prestige," but were functional structures that had housed events of great historical importance. If you have seen the austere simplicity of Independence Hall, you have seen the difference between authentic grandeur and the pyramids of "public-spirited" prestige-seekers.And we come full circle today, to the ideal embraced by Obama:
When you consider the global devastation perpetrated by socialism, the sea of blood and the millions of victims, remember that they were sacrificed, not for "the good of mankind" nor for a "noble ideal," but for the festering vanity of some scared brute or some pretentious mediocrity who craved a mantle of unearned "greatness"—and that the monument to socialism is a pyramid of public factories, public theaters and public parks, erected on a foundation of human corpses, with the figure of the ruler posturing on top, beating his chest and screaming his plea for "prestige" to the starless void above him.So when you consider the agenda of Barack Obama, contemplate, for a start, the faux Roman forum he had built to celebrate his nomination 3 1/2 years ago--and from that, you may be sure that what he seeks to erect now in this country is exactly what Rand spoke of 50 years ago: monuments to himself, built on a foundation of corpses.
Just about the only magazine I've subscribed to for the last 15 years is Archaeology. I was catching up on back issues and found a fascinating article on the stone age paintings in the Chauvet Cave in France, which was discovered very recently, in December of 1994.
The paintings are twice as old as any found before, and done in two periods, 30,000 years and 35,000 years ago.
This is one of the most significant archaelogical sites ever found. Some of the drawings are just amazingly good even by modern standards, including a pride of lions hunting bison and a herd of horses. Anatomically correct with shading on many many of them like a good charcoal drawing. This link to Archaeology magazine doesn't have the best images, but has the story (note there are links to different parts of the story). A little more information can be found on Wiki.
Think about that -- 5000 years separation, in the same caves. That's older than the Pyramids are to us, today.
The caves weren't habited by humans except when spring came, after the cave bears moved out. Many of the drawings have the claw marks of bears over them, and some were drawn over the claw marks.
But whatever pictures I provide here simply don't do justice to this archaeological site. If you find this interesting you must see the 90 minute documentary "Cave of Forgotten Dreams". Must. Here is a trailer:
This is the most interesting documentary I have ever seen. (I watched on Netflix instant queue.) The paintings are incredibly extensive through 1300 feet of caves. Stunningly beautiful crystal formations throughout, often growing on hundreds and hundreds of bones of cave bears. Hundreds of very distinct human handprints on the walls, including from one prolific painter than can be identified by a crook in one finger -- his prints span the cave, from one end to the other.
The making of the film was discussed a couple issues ago of Archaeology magazine, if you want to know more. The documentary was also done in 3-D, and given how the paintings took advantage of the contours of the cave walls, I personally would buy a 3-D HD TV solely to watch this documentary again.
One thing interesting about this place -- the study involves so many specialties-- archaeology, paleontology, art history, geology, zoology, and I'm probably leaving some out.
The only thing I apologize for in advance is that the "heavenly" music that comes in now and then is annoyingly hoaky. And three idiotic, meaningless minutes at the end about albino crocodiles and the nuclear power plant 20 miles away. Yes, crocodiles. Don't ask me. A European made this. But the content transcends any of that.
For more information, see http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/arcnat/chauvet/en/ and go to "visit the cave".
No institution based on a set of firm principles can survive if it allows members who hold opposite principles. Imagine if the AMA allowed witch doctors among its members, or if the American Physical Society (physicists, not massage therapists!) allowed flat-Earther's to be members. It would guarantee the end of medicine or physics.
Yet the United States, an institution founded on the principle of individual rights, allows citizens who actively promote socialism and communism -- in education, law and government.
I'm an advocate of free speech, but I don't think that means a nation should have to tolerate those among it who openly reject, by their own word and deed, the core founding principle of the country--individual rights--and work to subvert it every waking minute of their day.
I'm not saying criminalize those who reject individual rights, except where they commit crimes. But there's an enormous gulf between agreeing with individual rights and commiting crimes that prove you don't agree with individual rights. Socialists and communists -- and now Islamists -- have been working that angle for almost 100 years. I wouldn't allow them in the country to do it. In absence of a state of war against them, I would at least evict them. (In a state of war I would imprison them until the state of war is ended.)
Politicians who try to make law that violates individual rights, or who achieve that end and find it ruled unconstitutional -- should immediately lose their job and be deported. Teachers who openly advocate doctrines that violate individual rights should be judged similarly--they should be deported.
It's not a violation of their rights to deport them. It's a basic condition of "membership", or citizenship. Today, naturalized citizens or members of the military are asked to declare loyalty to the Constitution; all I'm doing is refining that statement and taking it seriously. I think everyone reaching the age of 18 should be required to take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution and to the principle of individual rights. Natural-born or naturalized citizens alike who breech that oath should all be stripped of citizenship.
There should be a formal mechanism to determine that fact, a kind of court separate from the criminal courts, dedicated to one question: does this person reject individual rights? A legal process similar to a criminal trial, but with only one penalty: loss of citizenship and deportation. Bring charges and present objective evidence based on a person's words, actions and writings, and if overwhelming (as it would be in the case of someone like Obama or Pelosi or William Ayers) strip them of their citizenship and deport them as "subversives" who are incompatible with the principles of the United States of America.
It couldn't have been done before now, because until Ayn Rand there was no objective definition of individual rights. It probably couldn't be done until a rational philosophy becomes dominant, at least in the sense that it was dominant when the Founders created the United States. You'd get the religious people campaigning to make God a requirement, too. But imagine if it had been in place from the beginning, with a basically sound rational philosophy for the country--even the religious people who advocate violations of rights could have been evicted as "undesirable".
I've asked myself repeatedly if this notion somehow violates free speech. Is it wrong to demand a loyalty oath? We already do that, we just don't enforce it. If you demand a loyalty oath, is it wrong to define it precisely, in objective terms, on the basis of the one idea that one *should* demand loyalty to--fealty to individual rights? And if you have a loyalty oath, is it wrong to take it seriously and enforce it with real consequences? Does that violate "free speech"? I don't think so.
Yes, the idea could be abused if someone attempted to implement it today. But I always come back to the principle I stated above, which I think is true:
No institution based on a set of firm principles can survive if it allows members who hold opposite principles.Ayn Rand put it somewhat differently:
"When opposite basic principles are clearly and openly defined, it works to the advantage of the rational side; when they are not clearly defined, but are hidden or evaded, it works to the advantage of the irrational side."I'm simply saying, define the basic principle of our government, clearly and openly--and put it into practice as more than a slogan. In the absence of recognizing that, I'd say the chances for the long-term survival of any rational society are bleak.
I think there are multiple reasons for these recurring moral pronouncements and condemnations of moral turpitude, with accompanied vitriolic demands for "de-friending".
The most superficial of the rationalizations for these assertions is that anyone disagreeing with Ayn Rand or Leonard Peikoff on this or that issue are corrupting Objectivism, damaging a great value, etc. Therefore if you stand for truth and goodness and don't wish to sanction evil, you must prove your rectitude in the court of public opinion and dissociate yourself from the blight, as well as dissociate yourself from the blighters of the blight.
Let's go beyond superficialities. I think the real underlying notion motivating these pronouncements is less about religious conformity than it is the false notion that a self-evident argument can be made in a simple assertion--from which comes the conviction that anyone who fails to acknowledge the facts of a matter (as presented and presumed by an apparently omniscient presenter) is inherently dishonest.
I'm intentionally not naming names on either side of the equation. I'd prefer that people form their own judgments without coloring things with personalities. For the purposes of this point, I'm asking everyone else who comments here not to name names, either.
Sometimes the pronouncements and demands are simple ones, but sometimes they are accompanied by such overwhelming "evidence" as can be crammed into a paragraph on a Facebook thread -- a link to a damning blog post, a youtube video, the latest insult, the bloodied candlestick in the broomcloset of Colonel Mustard. But it's all held up as incontrovertible proof of intellectual dishonesty, corruption and even evil, which only a blind man can't see and a dishonest person won't see.
You see the syllogism at play here: "I present here incontrovertible proof of the evil of person X. Here it is. If you won't grasp it, you are evil, too. And if you know someone who won't grasp it, they are evil. And if you don't divorce yourself from all evil associations, you are even more evil. So there. Listen up and fly right. Yours, God."
Or at least, Demi-god.
Strangely, I think the people most often associated with this technique (I won't call it reason) are generally honest and well-intentioned in some way. At least, as I've seen it on Facebook. They want to do right. They want to stand up and defend the good. But along the way, they are betraying the very thing they claim to be standing up for.
Their error is a disastrous form of intrinsicism.
I don't mean that the way some are going to jump to the conclusion -- a religious orthodoxy. That may be the eventual consequence. Hold that thought if you wish. More specifically, I mean:
The idea that a rational mind can grasp truth by simple statements.
That is, the idea that the truth is inherent in simple statements -- as if an assertion and a few randomly selected words and facts constitute sufficient intellectual grounds for another mind to reach a complex judgment about another person's thoughts and motives.
I wish I could color that statement in red, highlight it, capitalize it, enlarge the font and add a screaming voice with a brooding background musical accompaniment. Oh, wait. I can:
The idea that a rational mind can grasp truth by simple statements is false.Sans musical accompaniment, unfortunately.
Many people take from Ayn Rand the idea that moral pronouncements and praise of the good or condemnation of the evil is proper. Well, yes, it is. If you know what the hell you are talking about. But in lieu of that it's foolish, stupid, or evil in itself.
Moral pronouncements are easy. Anyone with vocal chords can make them. Rational judgment and reasoned arguments are much harder. And in a contest between those two, I've noticed that people who lack the ability to do the former particularly well are much more inclined to do the latter. Call it a form of empowerment.
But if reasoned argument is hard, it appears that respect for the independent minds of those to whom the assertions are made is the most difficult of all.
Let me say this unequivocally: any person who attempts to impose by threats their assessments on others is operating on a standard of social metaphysics and acting completely contrary to the most fundamental principles of Objectivism.
Those who claim to be defending Ayn Rand or Leonard Peikoff while employing a method that openly rejects the Objectivist positions on independence and reason are themselves guiltier than those making errors about any other aspect of the philosophy.
By way of reminder, here are some quotes from Ayn Rand on the subject. The particular sources will be left as an exercise. In no particular order:
"We never make assertions, Miss Taggart," said Hugh Akston. "That is the moral crime peculiar to our enemies. We do not tell—we show. We do not claim—we prove. It is not your obedience that we seek to win, but your rational conviction. You have seen all the elements of our secret. The conclusion is now yours to draw--we can help you to name it, but not to accept it-the sight, the knowledge and the acceptance must be yours."
"I don't ask for opinions."
"What do you go by?"
"Well, whose judgment did you take?"
"But whom did you consult about it?"
"I am not committing the contemptible act of asking you to take me on faith. You have to live by your own knowledge and judgment."
"If you want to see an abstract principle, such as moral action, in material form--there it is. Look at it, ...You had to act on your own judgment, you had to have the capacity to judge, the courage to stand on the verdict of your mind..."
"Consider the reasons which make us certain that we are right," said Hugh Akston, "but not the fact that we are certain. If you are not convinced, ignore our certainty. Don't be tempted to substitute our judgment for your own,"
"Don't rely on our knowledge of what's best for your future," said Mulligan. "We do know, but it can't be best until you know it."
"Don't consider our interests or desires," said Francisco. "You have no duty to anyone but yourself."
"Cherryl... Cherryl, you poor kid, ...You don't have to see through the eyes of others, hold onto yours, stand on your own judgment, you know that what is, is--say it aloud, like the holiest of prayers, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise."
"No, you do not have to live; it is your basic act of choice; but if you choose to live, you must live as a man—by the work and the judgment of your mind."
"The most depraved sentence you can now utter is to ask: Whose reason? The answer is: Yours. No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it. It is only with your own knowledge that you can deal. It is only your own knowledge that you can claim to possess or ask others to consider. Your mind is your only judge of truth—and if others dissent from your verdict, reality is the court of final appeal. Nothing but a man's mind can perform that complex, delicate, crucial process of identification which is thinking. Nothing can direct the process but his own judgment. Nothing can direct his judgment but his moral integrity."
"Learn to distinguish the difference between errors of knowledge and breaches of morality. An error of knowledge is not a moral flaw, provided you are willing to correct it; only a mystic would judge human beings by the standard of an impossible, automatic omniscience. But a breach of morality is the conscious choice of an action you know to be evil, or a willful evasion of knowledge, a suspension of sight and of thought. That which you do not know, is not a moral charge against you; but that which you refuse to know, is an account of infamy growing in your soul. Make every allowance for errors of "knowledge; do not forgive or accept any breach of morality. Give the benefit of the doubt to those who seek to know; but treat as potential killers those specimens of insolent depravity who make demands upon you, announcing that they have and seek no reasons, proclaiming, as a license, that they 'just feel it’
"Independence is the recognition of the fact that yours is the responsibility of judgment and nothing can help you escape it—that no substitute can do your thinking, as no pinch-hitter can live your life—that the vilest form of self-abasement and self-destruction is the subordination of your mind to the mind of another, the acceptance of an authority over your brain, the acceptance of his assertions as facts, his say—so as truth, his edicts as middle-man between your consciousness and your existence."
"This much is true: the most selfish of all things is the independent mind that recognizes no authority higher than its own and no value higher than its judgment of truth. You are asked to sacrifice your intellectual integrity, your logic, your reason, your standard of truth—in favor of becoming a prostitute whose standard is the greatest good for the greatest number.
"Every man will stand or fall, live or die by his rational judgment."
"You have cried that man's sins are destroying the world and you have cursed human nature for its unwillingness to practice the virtues you demanded. Since virtue, to you, consists of sacrifice, you have demanded more sacrifices at every successive disaster. In the name of a return to morality, you have sacrificed all those evils which you held as the cause of your plight. You have sacrificed justice to mercy. You have sacrificed independence to unity. You have sacrificed reason to faith."
"...conviction requires an act of independence and rests on the absolute of an objective reality."
"The basic need of the creator is independence. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion. It cannot be curbed, sacrificed or subordinated to any consideration whatsoever. It demands total independence in function and in motive. To a creator, all relations with men are secondary."
"The choice is not self-sacrifice or domination. The choice is independence or dependence."
"The code of the creator is built on the needs of the reasoning mind which allows man to survive. The code of the second-hander is built on the needs of a mind incapable of survival."
"Independence is the only gauge of human virtue and value. What a man is and makes of himself; not what he has or hasn't done for others. There is no substitute for personal dignity. There is no standard of personal dignity except independence."
"Notice the malignant kind of resentment against any idea that propounds independence. Notice the malice toward an independent man."
"Don't you know that most people take most things because that's what's given them, and they have no opinion whatever? Do you wish to be guided by what they expect you to think they think or by your own judgment?"
"God damn you!" he screamed. "God damn you! Who do you think you are? Who told you that you could do this to people? So you're too good for that building? You want to make me ashamed of it? You rotten, lousy, conceited bastard! Who are you? You don't even have the wits to know that you're a flop, an incompetent, a beggar, a failure, a failure, a failure! And you stand there pronouncing judgment! You, against the whole country! You against everybody! Why should I listen to you? You can't frighten me. You can't touch me. I have the whole world with me!...Don't stare at me like that! I've always hated you! You didn't know that, did you? I've always hated you! I always will! I'll break you some day, I swear I will, if it's the last thing I do!"
"Peter," said Roark, "why betray so much?"
"As a matter of fact, Mr. Roark, I'm not alone in this decision. As a matter of fact, I did want you, I had decided on you, honestly I had, but it was Miss Dominique Francon, whose judgment I value most highly, who convinced me that you were not the right choice for this commission--and she was fair enough to allow me to tell you that she did."
"When facing society, the man most concerned, the man who is to do the most and contribute the most, has the least say. It's taken for granted that he has no voice and the reasons he could offer are rejected in advance as prejudiced--since no speech is ever considered, but only the speaker. It's so much easier to pass judgment on a man than on an idea."
"And what, incidentally, do you think integrity is? The ability not to pick a watch out of your neighbor's pocket? No, it's not as easy as that. If that were all, I'd say ninety-five percent of humanity were honest, upright men. Only, as you can see, they aren't. Integrity is the ability to stand by an idea. That presupposes the ability to think. Thinking is something one doesn't borrow or pawn. And yet, if I were asked to choose a symbol for humanity as we know it, I wouldn't choose a cross nor an eagle nor a lion and unicorn. I'd choose three gilded balls."
"Gail Wynand was not good at taking orders. He recognized nothing but the accuracy of his own judgment."
"You're beginning to see, aren't you, Peter? Shall I make it clearer. You've never wanted me to be real. You never wanted anyone to be. But you didn't want to show it. You wanted an act to help your act--a beautiful, complicated act, all twists, trimmings and words. All words. You didn't like what I said about Vincent Knowlton. You liked it when I said the same thing under cover of virtuous sentiments. You didn't want me to believe. You only wanted me to convince you that I believed. My real soul, Peter? It's real only when it's independent--you've discovered that, haven't you? It's real only when it chooses curtains and desserts--you're right about that--curtains, desserts and religions, Peter, and the shapes of buildings. But you've never wanted that. You wanted a mirror. People want nothing but mirrors around them. To reflect them while they're reflecting too. You know, like the senseless infinity you get from two mirrors facing each other across a narrow passage. Usually in the more vulgar kind of hotels. Reflections of reflections and echoes of echoes. No beginning and no end. No center and no purpose. I gave you what you wanted. I became what you are, what your friends are, what most of humanity is so busy being--only with the trimmings. I didn't go around spouting book reviews to hide my emptiness of judgment--I said I had no judgment. I didn't borrow designs to hide my creative impotence--I created nothing. I didn't say that equality is a noble conception and unity the chief goal of mankind--I just agreed with everybody. You call it death, Peter? That kind of death--I've imposed it on you and on everyone around us. But you--you haven't done that. People are comfortable with you, they like you, they enjoy your presence. You've spared them the blank death. Because you've imposed it--on yourself."
"That, precisely, is the deadliness of second-handers. They have no concern for facts, ideas, work. They're concerned only with people. They don't ask: 'Is this true?' They ask: 'Is this what others think is true?' Not to judge, but to repeat. Not to do, but to give the impression of doing. Not creation, but show. Not ability, but friendship. Not merit, but pull. What would happen to the world without those who do, think, work, produce? Those are the egotists. You don't think through another's brain and you don't work through another's hands. When you suspend your faculty of independent judgment, you suspend consciousness. To stop consciousness is to stop life. Second-handers have no sense of reality. Their reality is not within them, but somewhere in that space which divides one human body from another. Not an entity, but a relation--anchored to nothing. That's the emptiness I couldn't understand in people. That's what stopped me whenever I faced a committee. Men without an ego. Opinion without a rational process. Motion without brakes or motor. Power without responsibility. The second-hander acts, but the source of his actions is scattered in every other living person. It's everywhere and nowhere and you can't reason with him. He's not open to reason. You can't speak to him--he can't hear. You're tried by an empty bench. A blind mass running amuck, to crush you without sense or purpose. Steve Mallory couldn't define the monster, but he knew. That's the drooling beast he fears. The second-hander."
"By seeking self-esteem through others. By living second-hand. And it has opened the way for every kind of horror. It has become the dreadful form of selfishness which a truly selfish man couldn't have conceived. And now, to cure a world perishing from selflessness, we're asked to destroy the self."
In response to some personal comments posted elsewhere, I'd like to add that there are two aspects to my post: independence and epistemology, and they're closely related in this context. Let's say Person A wants to inform other people about grievous errors by Person B. How do they do it? I am in no way against this. I am only for doing it rationally, in a manner Ayn Rand would smile upon--not because I want to imitate everything she did, blindly, but because she was the best example I've ever seen of how to engage in reasoned argument, and I think that gets forgotten by many people.
It takes many forms. Sometimes it's open insults, four letter words, this person is a louse, don't have anything to do with them, etc. Sometimes people are explicit and say "de-friend them or you're no friend of mine". Sometimes that's left implicit. And everything in between. But most people can read between the lines.
Sometimes it's got a veneer of reason behind it -- some limited attempt to provide a reasoned explanation for the shortcomings of Person B, with implications of "you'd better look into this and get with the program". But insufficient reasoning for anyone else to really form any kind of proper judgment, and by implication, insufficient respect for the priorities of other people in expecting them to find the reasoned argument you didn't provide.
But what's the proper way to raise an issue about someone's errors or dishonesty? Believe me when I say, that's the thrust of my original comment.
Genuine intellectual dishonesty isn't so hard to treat. It may still take the presentation of a lot of evidence and explanations to actually prove, but comparatively, not so hard to treat. It should not involve screaming and insults and endless moral condemnation, as so much is done on FB -- it should be, in the words of Joe Friday, "Just the Facts, Ma'am". Well, mostly, but the facts leading to a conclusion of moral turpitude. It's not simply that superficial, emotionally laden arguments set a bad example (though they do that), or that it makes O-ism look bad (it does that). The fundamental is that it's not how you persuade people. It's not a process of reason. That is what I'm arguing against.
But here's the deal: intellectual dishonesty isn't usually the issue, even though most people seem to think it is. Most people just do a really crappy job of assessing honesty in other people, and the rush to condemn someone as dishonest -- which is the only proper basis for the flurry of condemnations of "evil" people -- is just horribly misplaced and destructive when the evidence as presented is insufficient and the argumentation sucks. ("Crappy" doesn't really capture just how utterly putrifyingly shitty most of the reasoning is that I see in this context.)
I think this is vastly more destructive to Objectivism than errors by any Person B I've seen. (There's more than a few.)
What I would like to see is more genuine reasoning -- on both sides of the aisle, because that's the only way to make one side.
I'd like to see more genuine recognition that many people can be blind to their errors without being dishonest.
I'd like more recognition that an honest person genuinely trying to understand the truth needs a reasoned argument and that no amount of insults and condemnations are a reasoned argument.
I'd like recognition that you don't make allies out of friends, but out convincing opponents of the truth -- and the truth requires a well-reasoned argument.
And I'd like recognition of the fact that pointlessly alienating and dissociating yourself (and asking others to dissociate themselves) from those who are honest and are trying to understand the truth is destructive in itself -- because you only expand your ranks by persuading those who aren't in your ranks. And nothing is as hopelessly stupid as alienating an honest person who agrees with you on 98% of everything.
All that said, I am defending no one's views here beyond those of my own. I am defending a process, and my comments apply to both sides.
I do sympathize with the frustration of those who see people who vociferously advocate points of view that are wrong (sometimes catastrophically) on important issues, or which seem to willfully be blind to the broadest context, or which just trivialize philosophy with inane "lifeboat situations" or worse. Again, I'm trying to leave those issues out of this discussion. I've just seen very bad reasoning on both sides. That's my point.
I'm simply saying, if you want to win the argument and bring people to your side, you have to be the most rational, and set the best example.
In later discussion, I remarked elsewhere,
1. Moral condemnation over intellectual disagreements is always inappropriate when the disagreements are honest.
2. Public condemnation demands a high standard of evidence, and mere suspicion of dishonesty in intellectual disagreements is not adequate.
3. There is no such thing as "quality control" in a proper intellectual movement. The only arbiter of "quality" is rational persuasion about ideas. Condemnation is not an argument.
A gentle reminder about focusing on the positive. Reason is the positive in this context -- the method of identifying what's true.
My interest is primarily in reminding people that advocates of reason should be focused on making rational arguments about ideas, not about getting into arguments.
My primary value is reason, and persuading people with reason. I don't really give a damn about spending time on other things; Ayn Rand certainly didn't. She was the model par excellance about how to conduct an intellectual movement. Spending time on minutiae is mostly a waste of time and effort and accomplishes nothing in the end. If people are wrong, reality will be the ultimate arbiter of that. If people are dishonest, that too.
Much more important, and difficult, is persuading people what is right. If people want to be exemplars of Objectivism, they'd better spend their time learning how to make coherent, persuasive arguments. Even if you don't persuade your opponent with those arguments, if there's an audience you'll reach other people. That's what spreads the right ideas.
Put it another way: you don't spread the right ideas by spending all your time talking about every mistake that other people have made. People want to know what you know that is right, and why.
They also want to see integrity in action -- that is, if integrity is loyalty to values, and loyalty is consistency, they would want to see, in advocates of reason, really skilled reasoning in advocating the ideas that reason implies, qua Objectivism. But if they see advocates of reason who don't care to take the time and effort to form comprehensive arguments, with precision in formulation -- the right choice of word or phrasing, the attention to answering obvious questions, reference to source materials and facts, etc., the argument is lost by the appearance of a lack of conviction among the advocates.
Ayn Rand was the master of all these qualities. Review how she conducted herself. No one was attacked more viciously than her, but she always conducted herself with class, above the fray. Even if her questioners were antagonistic (for example, Mike Wallace, Phil Donahue), she would always answer questions with detailed, respectful arguments--that is, she took them seriously.
I'm not saying she turned the other cheek when it was clear someone was dishonest, nor that she never expressed anger, but her primary focus was always on making rational arguments for her ideas.
As a further addendum, one thing that drives disputes over intellectual matters far too much is an unwillingness to admit error. Very few people like the feeling of loss of self-esteem that accompanies admission of error to an opponent.
But the genuine intellectual is interested in truth, and doesn't indulge the self-licking ice cream cone of confirmation bias -- the quest for only those arguments and facts that support their position, to the exclusion or evasion of arguments that don't. The genuine advocate of reason simply delights in discovering the truth of things, and if an opponent (or, better, a colleague) discovers it first and makes one aware of it -- the emotion is delight and gratitude, not fear of admitting wrong.
Consider it in the context of, say, some new theory of gravity. You'll have the advocates of General Relativity and the Big Bang fighting for their position, and the Newtonians and Galileans fighting passionately for their viewpoint. And along comes John Galt, let's say, who shows them a new anti-gravity motor he built, based on a completely different theory that makes General Relativity and Newtonian mechanics as obsolete as stone knives and bearskins. What would a rational man feel on being proved wrong? To quote Ayn Rand, "It's so wonderful to see a great, new, crucial achievement which is not mine!"
Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, published 1957:
"Listen to Mr. Thompson's report on the world crisis, November 22!"
The newspapers did not mention the outbreaks of violence that had begun to burst across the country--but she watched them through the reports of train conductors about bullet-riddled cars, dismantled tracks, attacked trains, besieged stations, in. Nebraska, in Oregon, in Texas, in Montana--the futile, doomed outbreaks, prompted by nothing but despair, ending in nothing but destruction. Some were the explosions of local gangs; some spread wider. There were districts that rose in blind rebellion, arrested the local officials, expelled the agents of Washington, killed the tax collectors--then, announcing their secession from the country, went on to the final extreme of the very evil that had destroyed them, as if fighting murder with suicide: went on to seize all property within their reach, to declare community bondage of all to all, and to perish within a week, their meager loot consumed, in the bloody hatred of all for all, in the chaos of no rule save that of the gun, to perish under the lethargic thrust of a few worn soldiers sent out from Washington to bring order to the ruins.
The newspapers did not mention it. The editorials went on speaking of self-denial as the road to future progress, of self-sacrifice as the moral imperative, of greed as the enemy, of love as the solution--their threadbare phrases as sickeningly sweet as the odor of ether in a hospital...
It was the first acknowledgment of the unacknowledged. The announcements began to appear a week in advance and went ringing across the country. "Mr. Thompson will give the people a report on the world crisis! Listen to Mr. Thompson on every radio station and television channel at 8 P.M., on November 22!"
First, the front pages of the newspapers and the shouts of the radio voices had explained it: "To counteract the fears and rumors spread by the enemies of the people, Mr. Thompson will address the country on November 22 and will give us a full report on the state of the world in this solemn moment of global crisis. Mr. Thompson will put an end to those sinister forces whose purpose is to keep us in terror and despair. He will bring light into the darkness of the world and will show us the way out of our tragic problems...
Then the chorus broke loose and went growing day by day. "Listen to Mr. Thompson on November 22!" said daily headlines. "Don't forget Mr. Thompson on November 22!" cried radio stations at the end of every program. "Mr. Thompson will tell you the truth!..."
"Don't despair! Listen to Mr. Thompson!" said pennants on government cars, "Don't give up! Listen to Mr. Thompson!" said banners in offices and shops. "Have faith! Listen to Mr. Thompson!" said voices in churches. "Mr. Thompson will give you the answer!" wrote army airplanes across the sky, the letters dissolving in space, and only the last two words remaining by the time the sentence was completed.
Public loud-speakers were built in the squares of New York for the day of the speech, and came to rasping life once an hour, in time with the ringing of distant clocks, to send over the worn rattle of the traffic, over the heads of the shabby crowds, the sonorous, mechanical cry of an alarm-toned voice: "Listen to Mr. Thompson's report on the world crisis, November 22!"Do you feel lucky?
Two more stories today. First is this one, Pentagon cuts reshape military, trim costs, which discusses details of more defense cuts, including
- Delay development of a new ballistic missile submarine by two years.This last is the primary goal of Obama. The submarines -- secondary. The others -- gravy.
- Eliminate six of the Air Force's tactical-air fighter squadrons and retire or divest 130 aircraft used for moving troops and equipment.
- Retire seven Navy cruisers and two smaller amphibious ships early, postpone the purchase of a big-deck amphibious ship by one year and postpone the planned purchase of a number of other vessels for several years.
- Eliminate two Army heavy brigades stationed in Europe and compensate by rotating U.S. based units into the region for training and exercises.
- Study the possibility of further reducing the size of U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Then this next story, Senior NSC aide vetted for Pentagon assistant secretary post, about an NSC aide being sent to the Pentagon to help with budget cuts. Well, Obama is putting a lot of NSC aides over in the Pentagon right now to help with budget cuts. People close to him. Reliable people. But I immediately thought, what about this new guy, Derek Chollet? Who is he? What's his background? Does he have any suspicious associates?
Well, it turns out my first guess was exactly right--he was a "special advisor" to Strobe Talbott during the Clinton Administration. So what? Well, the most important Russian defector after the fall of the Soviet Union, Sergei Tretyakov, who used to run the KGB mission at the U.N. (hundreds of KGB agents) said Talbott was "our most important intelligence asset". During the Clinton Administration.
I would ask Tretyakov more, but two summers ago Putin had him killed -- "heart attack". (See my post The Spy Who Came in from the Cold ... to a place getting rather chilly.) Two weeks after Tretyakov's surprise death on June 13, 2010, you'll note, we arrested 10 Russian moles and were going to prosecute them--but Obama rushed to send them back to Russia.
And people wonder why I suggest Obama is a Russian mole himself? His every action is consistent with that end. Quite aside from the communist parents (two fathers) and grandparents, KGB mentor (Frank Davis), ad infinitum.
I think Obama is gearing up to win the election. When that happens -- the gloves come off. I'm 100% sure he will do everything in his power to completely eliminate the U.S. nuclear deterrent. Stay tuned.
There's an interesting connection between two recent news items. One was this fascinating description of the prison camps in North Korea, a place so horrific that it almost defies description.
The other was this story today, which describes Harry Reid's sponsorship of the latest attempt to regulate the internet under the guise of the need for "cybersecurity. Coming after the recently failed attempt to "craft" a bill (ever notice reporters always say "craft" when it's for legislation they back?) to stop internet piracy (SOPA / PIPA), or not-so-failed attempts to expand the oversight of the FCC via the imposition of "net neutrality" regulations (after Congress refused to authorize them by legislation), I'm struck that, even though one can find legitimate rationalizations for "cybersecurity" or control of online piracy, it's evidence of a deeper pattern -- which surely must be given scrutiny and consideration, given the connection I think exists to the first news item.
One can always find rationalizations for the necessity of these things, but this latest cybersecurity bill that the Democrats are trying to ram through (tell me again why is it more important than everything else right now??) is clearly evidence, as I said, of a pattern and a motive that's more evil and deliberate than simple incremental encroachment of government power -- a motive that even many of its supporters wouldn't dare admit to themselves, but which I think the Democratic leadership, and Obama in particular, does consciously have -- a motive which all the "flaws" in these pieces of legislation and new rules, hidden under the veneer of the "public interest", have been adding up to:
The power to impose full censorship of the internet, so they can muzzle critics.
This is what connects to that North Korean gulag, and not very metaphorically, given time.
You'll always find plenty of naive people who might actually believe these kinds of bills and regulations are only about legitimate purposes to prevent fraud, stop intellectual property theft or protect national security -- but I don't think that's the reason here. To quote the Goldfinger Principle, "once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action."
I think there's an organized motive behind the pattern of bills and regulations, evidenced by the way they keep surfacing over and over until passed. For instance, the net neutrality regulations were imposed unilaterally by the FCC, without any statutory or constitutional authority, when Congress refused to authorize them. Then SOPA / PIPA came along, and you can bet your bottom dollar they'll be revived in some new form, very soon, probably around 2AM on a Federal holiday -- or Obama will simply have the FCC or DHS unlaterally declare the authority.
The one thing you can count on in all these sorts of bills is a flawed content that one must notice always leaves the door wide open for full statutory control of the internet by means of some convoluted legal qualifier or interpretation.
If you buy into my premise, inquiring minds have to ask: why do they want full control to censor the internet?
One must also pay attention to the timing of these bills: the proponents appear determined to have them get passed before the election, despite much more urgent things the Congress could be doing -- like pass a budget, what a concept. As Ayn Rand noted in the early 1960's, the last time the Left attempted to authorize FCC censorship,
"...a federal commissioner may never utter a single word for or against any program. But what do you suppose will happen if and when, with or without his knowledge, a third-assistant or a second cousin or just a nameless friend from Washington whispers to a television executive that the commissioner does not like producer X or does not approve of writer Y or takes a great interest in the career of starlet Z or is anxious to advance the cause of the United Nations?"Pick your radical Left-wing (or Right-wing) cause that needs the support and help of a muzzle. In the 1960s, they failed -- except in the sense that over time the brainwashing of the media was completed by their takeover of the school system -- so today, most print and TV suffers a self-imposed de facto censorship (with the exception, perhaps, of Fox and a few others). But most people now get their news from the internet -- and that threatens the agenda of the Left, which is once again trying to regain the upper hand to control the one medium they haven't muzzled.
"Censorship, in its old-fashioned meaning, is a government edict that forbids the discussion of some specific subjects or ideas—such, for instance, as sex, religion or criticism of government officials—an edict enforced by the government’s scrutiny of all forms of communication prior to their public release. But for stifling the freedom of men’s minds the modern method is much more potent; it rests on the power of nonobjective law; it neither forbids nor permits anything; it never defines or specifies; it merely delivers men’s lives, fortunes, careers, ambitions into the arbitrary power of a bureaucrat who can reward or punish at whim. It spares the bureaucrat the troublesome necessity of committing himself to rigid rules—and it places upon the victims the burden of discovering how to please him, with a fluid unknowable as their only guide."Censorship plays an utterly crucial role in the decline of a country into full dictatorship, because once in place, anything goes -- totalitarian leaders find it much easier to "lock down" a nation when they are the gatekeepers of what can be said or heard -- and what can't. Censorship is not merely a defining characteristic of dictatorship, it's the essential means to impose and sustain a dictatorship -- much more so than simple brutality. To quote Ellsworth Toohey,
"...It's the soul, Peter, the soul. Not whips or swords or fire or guns. That's why the Caesars, the Attilas, the Napoleons were fools and did not last. We will. The soul, Peter, is that which can't be ruled. It must be broken. Drive a wedge in, get your fingers on it--and the man is yours. You won't need a whip--he'll bring it to you and ask to be whipped. Set him in reverse--and his own mechanism will do your work for you. Use him against himself."The means to the soul are the ideas, opinions and voices that are heard. What people think and know and think they know. That is the object of censorship.
Once in place, it becomes almost impossible for a country to change course without revolution, and practically, in this day and age, constructive forms of revolution are effectively impossible, Hollywood to the contrary notwithstanding.
I invoke exhibit A: North Korea. Today, physical revolutions have become little more than exercises in substituting one dictator for another, and anyone who thinks otherwise simply hasn't a clue about the effectiveness of modern methods of warfare.
Putting aside the masterminds of this latest attempted putsch of the internet, the naive dupes who have been supporting these bills or regulations break down into two camps. The largest camp comprises the truly stupid, including either the well-intentioned pragmatists who are too-willing to accept anything they hear, or who are unable to grasp the deeply flawed nature of a legislation that grants government powers to trample individual rights unfettered.
Then there is the smaller sub-group (at least, outside of Congress) of grifters-of-the-moment receiving political payola to give some "friends" advantage over someone else. In Atlas Shrugged terms, this latter faction are the Orren Boyle / Jim Taggart types paying off the Wesley Mouch types.
I could slice and dice this endlessly, but without going down that path, let's break this down more fundamentally to include the masterminds themselves. Including even the human dross of naive fools who think they are "doing good", we can categorize everyone by means of two definitions provided by Ayn Rand: what she called (through the voice of John Galt) the mystics of spirit and the mystics of muscle.
"The mystics of both schools, who preach the creed of sacrifice, are germs that attack you through a single sore: your fear of relying on your mind. They tell you that they possess a means of knowledge higher than the mind, a mode of consciousness superior to reason—like a special pull with some bureaucrat of the universe who gives them secret tips withheld from others. The mystics of spirit declare that they possess an extra sense you lack: this special sixth sense consists of contradicting the whole of the knowledge of your five. The mystics of muscle do not bother to assert any claim to extrasensory perception: they merely declare that your senses are not valid, and that their wisdom consists of perceiving your blindness by some manner of unspecified means. Both kinds demand that you invalidate your own consciousness and surrender yourself into their power. They offer you, as proof of their superior knowledge, the fact that they assert the opposite of everything you know, and as proof of their superior ability to deal with existence, the fact that they lead you to misery, self-sacrifice, starvation, destruction."You can see the connection to censorship. Whether your senses are not valid, or whether these mystics are really smarter than you, either way, they claim superior knowledge that must be imposed by them.
Aka, via censorship and state controlled organs for disseminating knowledge to the lowing herd. ("Lowing"; verb: (of a cow) Make a characteristic deep sound: "the lowing of cattle".)
Wherever the adherents of either school gravitate on the parasitic food chain, in a sense they always converge to the same level: a mystic of spirit will always gravitate to power to impose his ideas, and a mystic of muscle will always gravitate to manipulating the means of the spirit -- ideas -- to cement his power.
The two types are best summed up by two quotes. The first comes from villain Floyd Ferris in Atlas Shrugged:
Dr. Ferris smiled. "Don't you suppose we knew it?" he said, his tone suggesting that he was letting his patent-leather hair down to impress a fellow criminal by a display of superior cunning.
"We've waited a long time to get something on you. You honest men are such a problem and such a headache. But we knew you'd slip sooner or later-and this is just what we wanted."
"You seem to be pleased about it."
"Don't I have good reason to be?"
"But, after all, I did break one of your laws."
"Well, what do you think they're for?"
Dr. Ferris did not notice the sudden look on Rearden's face, the look of a man hit by the first vision of that which he had sought to see.
Dr. Ferris was past the stage of seeing; he was intent upon delivering the last blows to an animal caught in a trap.
"Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against--then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted-and you create a nation of law-breakers--and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."The second quote comes again from villain Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead. More than any other, he sums up the deepest motives of the perpetrators behind our own little drama (for instance, the motives of Barack Obama), as he explains what he's been trying to accomplish by orchestrating the destruction of the independent man represented by hero Howard Roark:
"I don't want to kill him. I want him in jail. You understand? In jail. In a cell. Behind bars. Locked, stopped, strapped--and alive. He'll get up when they tell him to. He'll eat what they give him. He'll move when he's told to move and stop when he's told. He'll walk to the jute mill, when he's told, and he'll work as he's told. They'll push him, if he doesn't move fast enough, and they'll slap his face when they feel like it, and they'll beat him with rubber hose if he doesn't obey. And he'll obey. He'll take orders. He'll take orders!"Today that means: control of the internet. To quote Galt once again,
"Make no mistake about the character of mystics. To undercut your consciousness has always been their only purpose throughout the ages—and power, the power to rule you by force, has always been their only lust.This is the essence of the flurry of bills and regulations promoted by the Obama administration.
"Did you wonder what is wrong with the world? ...All your gangs of mystics, of spirit or muscle, are fighting one another for power to rule you..."If I may paraphrase his next sentence: "...snarling that suppression of malcontents is the solution for all the problems of your spirit and that hope and undefined change is the solution for all the problems of your body — you who have agreed to have no mind."
To continue the same quote:
"Granting man less dignity than they grant to cattle, ignoring what an animal trainer could tell them — that no animal can be trained by fear, that a tortured elephant will trample its torturer, but will not work for him or carry his burdens — they expect man to continue to produce electronic tubes, supersonic airplanes, atom-smashing engines and interstellar telescopes, with his ration of meat for reward and a lash on his back for incentive."That is, with TARP and "stimulus" as his reward and the fear of a regulator as his incentive.
"A mystic is a man who surrendered his mind at its first encounter with the minds of others."
The means is censorship.
"Every dictator is a mystic, and every mystic is a potential dictator... His lust is to command, not to convince: conviction requires an act of independence and rests on the absolute of an objective reality. What he seeks is power over reality and over men's means of perceiving it, their mind, the power to interpose his will between existence and consciousness, as if, by agreeing to fake the reality he orders them to fake, men would, in fact, create it. ...No matter whose welfare he professes to serve, be it the welfare of God or of that disembodied gargoyle he describes as 'The People,'...in fact, in reality, on earth, his ideal is death, his craving is to kill, his only satisfaction is to torture. ...Death is the premise at the root of their theories, death is the goal of their actions in practice — and you are the last of their victims."Before the last Presidential election, I predicted everything Obama was, is and would do (see Good Night, America, for instance) So on that note, I must say: if he isn't removed from office in the coming election, this last quote captures our fate in his hands--maybe not literally in his second term, but over time, by his successors.
To end on a more positive note, with regard to both Obama and the Senate's latest incarnation for regulating the internet,
"...there comes a point, in the defeat of any man of virtue, when his own consent is needed for evil to win."Indeed. Don't ever give it.
Many people are in love with their e-books -- and the convenience is certainly a factor. I'll stick with my print copies.
But when I hear from many friends who delight in their ability to dispose of all their print books -- and many of them are literally throwing their books in the garbage -- I imagine the most-pessimistic scenario: post-apocalyptic, end of the world stuff, and descent into a new Dark Ages.
Maybe it's the aftermath of a global nuclear armageddon, or maybe it's just slow decay into world-wide despotism and economic decline. But suppose before it happens most of the print industry ceases to be cause of e-books. Maybe in the post-Armageddon period most of the print libraries are burned to the ground, or burned for heating. Everybody has their e-books, of course. But there's no way to power the damned things. Industrial civilization is in smoking ruins. No power plants, no chargers.
But it gets worse: the microchips and hard-drives that all the knowledge of humanity is stored on -- those electronic devices die of their own accord after awhile. Atoms move around randomly over time, cosmic rays break down crystal structures, heat de-magnetizes disk platters. Most of it won't work after 20 years, but after 50 years? Not much will remain.
So your world has ended, most libraries are gone, everyone got rid of their print books -- and e-books go permanently dead. Education goes completely in the toilet in the short term, without books. And in the long-term -- the utter lack of books will greatly facilitate the decline into a _Very_ _Dark_ _Age_.
reported that Pope Benedict XVI, on a trip to that Caribbean paradise, has said, "...Marxism was out of place in the contemporary world," and has urged Cubans to find "new models".
"Today it is evident that Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality."Not that it ever did correspond, but recognizing even this much is what I call "progress".
Reading that story, my eye happened on another story linked from September 14, 2010, which is much more entertaining, and I don't know how the hell I ever missed it:
"Capitalist storm clouds loom over Havana after state cuts 1M jobs ... Cuban workers told to become entrepreneurs in bid to boost island's private sector"This is brilliant -- the communist nation held up as the model of communism for the West for 50 years is abandoning communism and laying off one million government workers.
Let's put that in perspective: Cuba has a population of 11.2 million people. That's almost ten percent of the population are being given pink slips. If it was the U.S. -- with a population of 312 million -- that would be the equivalent of laying off almost 28 million government workers.
Note that total Federal Government employment today is about 3 million. (And isn't it interesting that the population of Cuba has plateaued? What would have caused that?)
Echoing the Pope, a year and a half earlier, Fidel Castro told a correspondent of The Atlantic magazine:
"The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore."The shock heard 'round the communist world. Not that it ever did work, of course, but I'll give him that shred of his pride to hang on to.
It was supposed to be the start of a brave new world in which the customer was king. But the teenage boy in the barber's chair stared at his reflection, aghast and almost crying. "What have you done?" he asked, caressing uneven clumps on a shorn scalp.That about sums up Obama's approach. But the difference is that Cuba is fleeing from communism, while Obama is still racing towards his Brave New World.
The barber, a fortysomething man with a grubby white coat, put down the scissors, lit a cigarette, and shrugged. "Looks OK to me. Don't know what you're on about."
Oh, the pain of independence. But he'd better start learning: sheep shears do not a profitable barber make.
"The Communist party document admitted lack of experience, insufficient skill levels and low initiative could sink new enterprises. "Many of them could fail within a year," it says.
This just sounds like the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act -- or just Solyndra.
...Unemployment last year was officially 1.7%, but with average monthly salaries of only $20, supplemented by a ration book and free health care and education, many Cubans make minimal efforts, prompting an old joke: "They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work."And there you have the Obama vision for all of us. "Hope and change" really meant "hope for loose change."
"Leftwingers abroad may feel let down by the cuts, but Cuban officials believe the thriving black market is an indicator that the private sector will soak up surplus labour."God knows, Barack "Che" Obama is probably feeling let down. Raul Castro, brother of Fidel, said,
"We have to erase forever the notion that Cuba is the only country in the world in which people can live without working," he told the national assembly last month.Can anyone imagine Barack "Mao" Obama saying such a thing? Easier to imagine him asking to extend unemployment benefits by another trillion or three.
[Said Raul Castro,] The decades-old US embargo – a crippling, punitive measure – could no longer be blamed for all the island's woes...And over here, capitalism can no longer be blamed for all our woes, after the decades-long, crippling, punitive measures that have been imposed on it.
Even the Cuban Labor Federation gets it, as they issued this mea culpa:
"Our state cannot and should not continue maintaining companies, productive entities, services and budgeted sectors with bloated payrolls [and] losses that hurt the economy," said the official Cuban labour federation, which announced the news. ...It was no longer possible to protect and subsidise salaries on an unlimited basis and cuts will affect all government sectors, said the labour federation. "Losses that hurt our economy are ultimately counterproductive, creating bad habits and distorting worker conduct."If Obama wants to continue appointing communists to be his Czars, I could probably get behind these guys.
Leftwingers abroad may feel let down by the cuts, but Cuban officials believe the thriving black market is an indicator that the private sector will soak up surplus labour. ...One Havana-based western diplomat was less sanguine about Cuba's response ... "People knew this was coming, but now it's here, it's real, and they're worried. Bosses will get rid of the least productive employees, the ones who don't work or show up for work. The type of people who may lack the get up and go to start a business."Amen to that.
Cuba has a lot of growing up to do, and that last quote echoed something said by John Galt in Atlas Shrugged -- his words are good advice for anyone on the long road back to independence and self-respect:
"Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours."
Postscript from the Department of Life meets Grand Irony:
The day after writing this, I read this report of Obama's trip to look across the DMZ and see North Korea through binoculars, where he said,
"It is like you are in a time warp," Obama said Sunday, after he toured a rocky border post in the demilitarised buffer zone that has split the Korean peninsular for longer than he has been alive. "It is like you are looking across 50 years into a country that has missed 40 years or 50 years of progress..."
"If a country can't feed its people effectively, if it can't make anything of any use to anybody, if it has no exports other than weapons and even those aren't ones that in any way would be considered state of the art. If it can't deliver on any indicators of well-being... for its people... then you'd think you'd want to try something different. There are certain things that just don't work and what they are doing doesn't work."This doesn't mean Obama "gets it", or "gets" anything at all. From his perspective, those dumb North Koreans simply don't know how to properly run a communist state.
In a related news item that has exploded over the web, at the summit he attended in South Korea -- concerning nuclear proliferation -- Obama got caught talking very candidly to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in this exchange:
President Obama: "On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space."
President Medvedev: "Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…"
President Obama: "This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility."
President Medvedev: "I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir, and I stand with you."Flexibility for what? On all of what "issues"?
You have to wonder what Obama's true allegiances are. Well, I know. And I'm sure Vladimir knows. You all recall my many posts on Obama's goal of unilateral nuclear disarmament of the United States? My claims that after the election he will attempt to eliminate all U.S. nuclear weapons by Executive fiat? Stay tuned. After the election he will have more "flexibility," for this, and so much more.
A Shrink Asks: What's Wrong with Obama?doesn't provide a very good psychological analysis, but it mentions this much, which is worth considering to get to the correct conclusion about Barack Obama (I'd say "the man" but he's too sub-human for that):
Obama himself is a strange bird. He doesn't fit easily into any diagnostic category. Many people attribute Obama's oddness to his narcissism. True, Obama has a gargantuan ego, and he is notoriously thin-skinned. Yet a personality disorder like narcissism does not explain Obama's strangeness: his giggling while being asked about the economy; his continuing a shout-out rather than announcing the
Take also Obama's declaring on the "Today Show" that he wants to know whose ass to kick. Consummate narcissists would never stoop to this vulgar display of adolescent machismo.
Obama is flat when passion is needed; he's aggressive when savvy is required. What's most worrisome is that Obama doesn't even realize that his behavior is inappropriate."
The meaning of that is significant, and not to be dismissed as a harmless aberration. Quoting John Galt in Atlas Shrugged,
"It is a conspiracy without leader or direction, and the random little thugs of the moment who cash in on the agony of one land or another are chance scum riding the torrent from the broken dam of the sewer of centuries, from the reservoir of hatred for reason, for logic, for ability, for achievement, for joy, stored by every whining anti-human who ever preached the superiority of the 'heart' over the mind.
"It is a conspiracy of all those who seek, not to live, but to get away with living…
"...a conspiracy that unites by links of evasion all those who pursue a zero as a value:
"The professor who, unable to think, takes pleasure in crippling the mind of his students,
"The businessman who, to protect his stagnation, takes pleasure in chaining the ability of competitors,
"The neurotic who, to defend his self-loathing, takes pleasure in breaking men of self-esteem,
"The incompetent who takes pleasure in defeating achievement,
"The mediocrity who takes pleasure in demolishing greatness,
"The eunuch who takes pleasure in the castration of all pleasure —
"and all their intellectual munition-makers, all those who preach that the immolation of virtue will transform vices into virtue."
The real reason many people promote the narcissist term -- aside from ignorance of what it means -- is that they want to denigrate self-interest as such and attack such self-respect as any man or woman may have earned for themselves.
The article goes on to examine Obama's dysfunctional childhood and ask if there's some blame there for what he's become, but no definitive conclusions are offered.
The answer, in my opinion, starts with the one I've given for years: Obama is a megalomaniacal power-luster:
Obama's mother was a radical, revolutionary communist. So was his birth father (who died while trying to overthrow the Kenyan government, and who worked for the KGB). His adopted father was a communist revolutionary. His own admitted mentor was a communist under KGB control (Frank Davis). His grandparents were communists (probably under KGB control). Etc. The man's entire life has been spent in that red-light district, and it produced a lifeform dominated by one emotion: hatred for anyone of ability, hatred for anyone with a love of life.
Consider that monster designation — as the old Jesuit saying goes, "Give me a child for the first seven years and you may do what you like with him afterwards." His parents, grandparents, mentors, associates—had Obama for an entire lifetime.
Victor Hugo, in his novel The Man Who Laughs, put it this way:
…The comprachicos, or comprapequeños, were a strange and hideous nomadic association, famous in the seventeenth century, forgotten in the eighteenth, unknown today.
…Comprachicos, as well as comprapequeños, is a compound Spanish word that means “child-buyers.” The comprachicos traded in children. They bought them and sold them.
They did not steal them. The kidnapping of children is a different industry.
And what did they make of these children?
The people need laughter; so do the kings. Cities require side-show freaks or clowns; palaces require jesters …
To succeed in producing a freak, one must get hold of him early. A dwarf must be started when he is small …
Hence, an art. There were educators. They took a man and turned him into a miscarriage; they took a face and made a muzzle. They stunted growth; they mangled features. This artificial production of teratological cases had its own rules. It was a whole science. Imagine an inverted orthopedics. Where God had put a straight glance, this art put a squint. Where God had put harmony, they put deformity. Where God had put perfection, they brought back a botched attempt. And, in the eyes of connoisseurs, it is the botched that was perfect …
The practice of degrading man leads one to the practice of deforming him. Deformity completes the task of political suppression…
The comprachicos had a talent, to disfigure, that made them valuable in politics. To disfigure is better than to kill. There was the iron mask, but that is an awkward means. One cannot populate
Europewith iron masks; deformed mountebanks, however, run through the streets without appearing implausible; besides, an iron mask can be torn off, a mask of flesh cannot. To mask you forever by means of your own face, nothing can be more ingenious…
A smile to mask you from the world—what could be more ingenious?
Ellsworth Toohey, the arch-villain in The Fountainhead, when asked by mediocrity Peter Keating what he was after, confessed
"Power, Petey." ...Toohey was smiling, almost indifferently.So it is with people today. Toohey goes on to elaborate how one achieves power, and among his methods,
"You...always said..." Keating began thickly, and stopped.
"I've always said just that. Clearly, precisely and openly. It's not my fault if you couldn't hear."
"Then there's another way. Kill by laughter. Laughter is an instrument of human joy. Learn to use it as a weapon of destruction. Turn it into a sneer. It's simple. Tell them to laugh at everything. Tell them that a sense of humor is an unlimited virtue. Don't let anything remain sacred in a man's soul--and his soul won't be sacred to him. Kill reverence and you've killed the hero in man. One doesn't reverence with a giggle. He'll obey and he'll set no limits to his obedience--anything goes--nothing is too serious.There you have the explanation for Obama's giggles. Quoting Galt once again,
"Make no mistake about the character of mystics. To undercut your consciousness has always been their only purpose throughout the ages—and power, the power to rule you by force, has always been their only lust...
"A mystic is driven by the urge to impress, to cheat, to flatter, to deceive, to force that omnipotent consciousness of others. 'They' are his only key to reality, he feels that he cannot exist save by harnessing their mysterious power and extorting their unaccountable consent, 'They' are his only means of perception and, like a blind man who depends on the sight of a dog, he feels he must leash them in order to live. To control the consciousness of others becomes his only passion; power-lust is a weed that grows only in the vacant lots of an abandoned mind...
"A mystic craves obedience from men, not their agreement. He wants them to surrender their consciousness to his assertions, his edicts, his wishes, his whims—as his consciousness is surrendered to theirs. He wants to deal with men by means of faith and force—he finds no satisfaction in their consent if he must earn it by means of facts and reason. Reason is the enemy he dreads ...
"...the feelings that move him from then on are hatred for all the values of man's life, and lust for all the evils that destroy it, A mystic relishes the spectacle of suffering, of poverty, subservience and terror; these give him a feeling of triumph, a proof of the defeat of rational reality. But no other reality exists.
"No matter whose welfare he professes to serve, be it the welfare of God or of that disembodied gargoyle he describes as 'The People,' no matter what ideal he proclaims in terms of some supernatural dimension—in fact, in reality, on earth, his ideal is death, his craving is to kill, his only satisfaction is to torture...
"there is no way to please him; when you obey, he will reverse his orders; he seeks obedience for the sake of obedience and destruction for the sake of destruction. You who are craven enough to believe that you can make terms with a mystic by giving in to his extortions—there is no way to buy him off, the bribe he wants is your life...
"Death is the premise at the root of their theories, death is the goal of their actions in practice—and you are the last of their victims."
"I don't want to kill him. I want him in jail. You understand? In jail. In a cell. Behind bars. Locked, stopped, strapped--and alive. He'll get up when they tell him to. He'll eat what they give him. He'll move when he's told to move and stop when he's told. He'll walk to the jute mill, when he's told, and he'll work as he's told. They'll push him, if he doesn't move fast enough, and they'll slap his face when they feel like it, and they'll beat him with rubber hose if he doesn't obey. And he'll obey. He'll take orders. He'll take orders!"
The meaning of it all is this: Obama is an incredibly dangerous man for the future of this country — and for your own life.
I'm reading Trevor Loudon's book on Obama ("Barack Obama and the Enemies Within") -- he's the main original source who exposed Obama's communist past and many communist associates, including Van Jones, Valerie Jarrett, Bill Ayers, etc. Extremely well-researched and documented, not a conspiracy theorist -- and one chapter I was reading last night quoted several communist leaders who discussed the fact that the strategy of using stimulus funds was planned before Obama's election.
For example, a few weeks after Obama's election in 2008, Sam Webb, the leader of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) said:
"This favorable correlation of class and social forces couldn't happen at a better time... Our policy of singling out the extreme right and its reactionary corporate backers and building the broadest unity against them... in this year's election we applied that policy consistently and creatively... It is not immodest to say that both our overall policy and our tactical adjustment were on the money. We should not claim bragging rights but our strategic and tactical approach captured better than any other organization or movement on the left the political algebra of the election process... It doesn't claim to capture reality in all of its complexity...the strategic notion of stages of struggle has to be employed judiciously and flexibly... or as some like to say, dialectically..."You may note the connection to Obama's "flexibility" expressed in South Korea recently.
"Obama is an unusal political figure.. He has... an almost intuitive feel for the national mood... Let us give Obama some space.... Marxism is a guide to action, not a dogma... These web-generated forms of organization and action were formidable in the elections and will in all likelihood contine to be a forceful presence in the coming years.... Unity is on a higher level... differences have to be handled in a way as not to break the overall unity... Although we are not in the socialist stage of the revolutionary process, we are, nevetheless on the road... the force of economic events will compel millions more to consider socialist ideas that in past were dismissed out of hand..."He goes on to explain what he means by that:
"...We should consider initiating meetings to discuss the economic crisis and how to respond to it at the local, state and national level... We should also mobilize support for Obama's stimulus package, for aid to the auto corporations -- albeit with strings -- and for immediate relieft for homeowners..." ("A Springtime of Possibility", posted on the Communist Party website, 2008)And then brags:
"It sure feels good to be on the winning side." (p 239 - 246)Another comment came from Mark Rudd, a key former communist associate of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn with the radical SDS, and a leader in "Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS), the parent organization for "Progressives for Obama" which unites all the leading communist groups in the U.S., including CPUSA and Democratic Socialists of America (*not* socialists). (Per Loudon, according to the FBI, Rudd once made a trip to Cuba during the Vietnam War that "involved terrorist training in camps set up by Soviet KGB Colonel Vadim Kotchergine.") After Obama's election, Rudd said,
"Obama is a strategic thinker. He knew precisely what it would take to get elected and didn't blow it... What he's doing now is moving on the most popular issues -- the environment, health care and the economy... The economic agenda will stress stimulation from the bottom sometimes and handouts to the top at other times... By the second or third year of this recession, when stimulus is needed at the bottom, people may begin to discuss cutting the military budget... Obama plays basketball... you have to be able to look like you're doing one thing but do another...."Anticipating further "progress", he adds,
"...Look to the second-level appointments. There is a whole government in waiting that Podesta has at the Center for American Progress... This is no stupid guy. Had any of the stupid Republicans read his books, they never could have said, "We don't know who this guy is." You know every thought he has ever had. Our job now is to organize both inside and outside the Demo party..." (Mark Rudd, "Let's Get Smart About Obama", Nov. 28, 2008, p250 of Loudon's book)Another communist activist, Jeff Jones said a day after Rudd's article, about Obama,
"This guy is really SMART... He is going to successfully extort green concessions from Detroit. He will convince Congress to pass a major stimulus package that will lay the foundation for the development of an alternative energy manufacturing industry... redistributing financial resources downward are presented as unconnected pieces of legislation but actually they are interlocking comiponents of Obama's coherent multi-layered agenda... Even Lenin would be impressed."You can see the connection to Solyndra.
On the board or as members of Democratic Socialists of America, by the way, are Rudd, Dohrn, Ayers, Angela Davis (who beat a rap of providing the weapons used to murder a judge, prosecutor and jurist during a trial), Noam Chomsky (noted linguist and leftist MIT professor), Tom Hayden (former husband of Jane Fonda), Mike Klonsky (Maoist/CPUSA who gave Obama a job with the "Small Schools Workshop", a communist organization in Chicago), other former Weathermen and Marxists / Leninists, etc, etc. A real Who's Who of communism in the U.S.
But as I said, the umbrella organization for DSA is MDS, and prominent members are Michael and Robert Meeropol -- the two orphaned sons of executed Soviet spies Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, adopted by Abe Meeropol, a teacher, writer and CPUSA member (p 253), who taught several other notable writers, including Paddy Chayefsky, Neil Simon and James Baldwin.
An interesting tidbit.
This barely scratches the surface of the connections. It's a tight world they all live in -- former SDS and Weathermen, communists formerly affiliated with the KGB (CPUSA was KGB controlled), "progressives", "democratic socialists", and right in the middle of it all, Barack Obama.
They succeed, in part, because few people are willing to grasp the full extent of it all. Loudon's book is a good job of trying to, though it's mainly just a compendium (664 pages) of excerpts he accumulated over years of research -- but which could be tied together more concisely for people to get the entire picture of what we're confronting.
I've thought for some time, and I'm thinking much more, recently, that an excellent way, and in some respects, the best way to study the workings of the human mind is via music. The piano, especially. Think about it -- if I gave you a string of, say 30 random numbers, could you recall them?
Or 1000 numbers in a pattern? Now watch what a pianist does: he plays many more things in sequence, in much more complex variations, sometimes for hours without ever looking at a piece of sheet music. What process of memory is involved? What does that say about the principles of how memory works?
Or consider what neural connections must be formed to precisely play a complex work of music? All the practice, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of hours over years, to refine the semi-automatic selection of tens of thousands of muscle fibers in endless variations of control so that ten fingers precisely fly over the keys, in precise coordination with a streaming flux of sound. A precision that eliminates all contradictions in the choice of those thousands of muscles, made in milliseconds.
Or consider the emotions evoked by any composition -- how music (as Ayn Rand noted) is the only art form that is a direct link between perception and emotions:
The fundamental difference between music and the other arts lies in the fact that music is experienced as if it reversed man’s normal psycho-epistemological process. The other arts create a physical object (i.e., an object perceived by man’s senses, be it a book or a painting) and the psycho-epistemological process goes from the perception of the object to the conceptual grasp of its meaning, to an appraisal in terms of one’s basic values, to a consequent emotion.
The pattern is: from perception—to conceptual understanding—to appraisal—to emotion. The pattern of the process involved in music is: from perception—to emotion—to appraisal—to conceptual understanding. Music is experienced as if it had the power to reach man’s emotions directly. (Art and Cognition,” The Romantic Manifesto)...musical phrases can be artistically engineered like a universal language with a precise vocabulary to create the exact emotions a composer wants another person to feel, and influence, to that extent (however generally, yet in some sense, so precisely) the thoughts another person might have, and that the composer wants them to have.
Or volition -- which directs the learning process, maintains the effort, guiding your perception to focus on every note and correct every mistake, accepting no errors (because if you do accept errors, your learning never converges on competence), refining the precision, speeding the tempo, defining the nuance of interpretation.
Or the method of repetition that starts from slow, halting attempts at precision (in the beginner) in moving ten fingers in so many patterns, gradually automatizing the control (because you can't consciously control all of it directly) while correcting errors one at a time, but always under focused conscious direction -- faster and faster (as required by the piece), so that dozens of notes per second can be played with a precision of force and timing in complex relationships -- but every single note played by every single finger in every instant is all under the full awareness of your conscious mind, as if time has slowed down while you play it.
Or abstraction, as you learn more and more pieces, and your mind integrates the endless varieties of musical patterns, until it generalizes the principles, in some sense, of melody and harmony and chords and rhythms so that playing an instrument feels like a direct link between the sounds in your mind and the motions of your hands, or the notes on a page and the sounds in your mind, an almost effortless translation, an extension of your body and thoughts....
I'm not there (and never will be -- too much an engineer with too little training, too little practice, and too little discipline!), but I do have so much admiration for those who are there, who've had that dedication, and who have achieved such a remarkable level of ability, of which any performance is a testament to their integrity to that purpose.
A lot more could said, but I think there's something here that could be applied to any field of learning. Imagine if everyone in every field could function with the virtuousity and dedication and passion and honesty of a concert pianist toward his craft. What a world we would have.
A number of people (including me) have highlighted the danger of Presidential Executive Orders which claim almost unlimited authority for any type of "emergency" (see my post here) . For instance, this story in the American Thinker ("Do Obama's Executive Orders Reveal A Pattern?" ) recently was making the rounds with an argument to that effect.
Reading it, I started to dig into whether the argument was valid. I read many of Obama's recent EO's, and then was drawn to a White House webpage title "Presidential Actions", that lists presidential proclamations, orders and whatever else Presidents do on any given day. We'll put aside the several hundred special days, weeks and months that were designated in the last couple years -- things like "National Poison Prevention Week", "Workers Day", etc. It's what Presidents do.
More interesting was ALL the national emergencies that I found which are active **right now**. Just going through the first 42 pages of the "Presidential Actions", I found that we are presently in a State of National Emergency with respect to:
Russia's proliferation of Highly Enriched UraniumLet me say again: we are in a state of national emergency with respect to all these entities.
Terrorists Disrupting the Middle East Peace Process
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Terrorists and their supporters
I'm sure there's a lot more. That's just the ones I found for the last year or so that were declared or re-authorized. Some of them go back to Bush and Clinton, maybe further. I didn't trace back but a few.
It's clear to me what's going on: under "precedent", a President can bypass Congress by declaring a national emergency via an Executive Order. There is no established Constitutional authority for doing so, but no one ever challenged the precedent, so they are just doing it. (Again, it started before Obama.)
So, in my blog posts of awhile ago ("The Unbridled Authority of Presidential Executive Orders", or "Totalitarianism Redux", etc) I was rather missing the Amazonian rain forest for the Charlie Brown Christmas tree when I ruminated on the dangers of allowing the President the authority to declare any undefined emergency. That bus has come and gone decades ago. Presidents for quite some time have been asserting that authority endlessly.
The purpose seems clear: to circumvent Congress and U.S. Statute, they declare an emergency, and then no existing law on the books applies to them. They can do (in the words of Bill Murray, from "Groundhog Day"): whatever they want.
No restrictions whatever.
Let's review just what it is they do claim they can do in an emergency, if their mood sees fit:
1. Seize all highways, seaports. (EO 10990, originally, superceded by later EOs)I'll leave you to ruminate on just how far down the path of statism we've actually gone, and what's holding them back.
2. Seize and control the communication media. (Well, that's a fait accompli, but it started with EO 10995)
3. Seize all electrical power, gas, petroleum, fuels and minerals. (EO 10997, et al)
4. Seize all food resources and farms. (EO 10998...)
5. Force all civilians into work brigades. (EO 11000...)
6. Take over all health, education and welfare functions. (EO 11001. Sounds just like Obamacare, doesn't it?)
7. Establishes a national registration of all persons. (EO 11002...)
8. seize all airports and aircraft, including commercial aircraft. (EO 11003. Pretty much what happened after 9/11)
9. Relocate communities, build new housing, designate areas to be abandoned, and establish new locations for populations. (EO 11004. Not unlike what Fannie, Freddie and the CRA accomplished, but more draconian.)
10. Seize railroads, inland waterways and public storage facilities. (EO 11005)
11. The National Guard could be federalized to seal all borders and take control of U.S. air space and all ports of entry. (EO 12656)
12. Enforce “industrial support” with the Dept. of Justice. (EO 11310)
13. Take control over the mechanisms of production and distribution, of energy sources, wages, salaries, credit and the flow of money in U.S. financial institution in any undefined national emergency. (EO 11921)
14. Asserts that when a state of emergency is declared by the President, Congress cannot review actions under this EO for six months. (EO 11921. This EO is a massive expansion of previous EOs, under a Republican Administration.)
15. increase domestic intelligence and surveillance. (EO 12656) It grants the government the right to isolate large groups of civilians.
16. authorize all Executive Orders to be put into effect in times of increased international tensions and economic or financial crisis. (EO 11051)
I saw The Dark Knight Rises last night, and I had the first religious experience of my life: I could not stop praying, "God, please let it be over."
This review has some spoilers, so in that spirit, I recommend you read on.
Seriously, the hype I read about this movie was mildly overrated. The comparison that many made of the prescience to our current political situation would be laughable, except that the comparison will be lost on 99.99% of the American public. The endless symbolism I found grating and was longing for even one concrete idea stated unapologetically.
The story was endlessly slow to develop, with a meandering plot (if it had a plot) that needed a mini-series to properly develop. I got extremely tired of the machine-gun presentation of scenes or shots of scenes that lasted only a few seconds or fractions of a second (if that). The score was annoyingly ever-present and overly loud, when there were definite moments that it should have shut the ____ up. Perhaps for an hour or two. (At several points I had to put my fingers in my ears.)
The plot (again, if I can call it that) was a predictable pastiche of many movies that came before. The villain "Bain" was so obviously Darth Vader as to be laughable. The phrase "cliche-ridden string of memes" comes to mind, except, "meme" is really just an avant garde synonym for "cliche", so I repeat myself.
There was virtuallly no development of character motivations in any serious sense. The secret villain who is only revealed in the climax (in a ripoff of Othello), is supposed to make us believe that all the death and destruction was motivated by nothing more than revenge for the death of .... well, I'll leave out that spoiler, except you saw it in a few dozen other movies and hundreds of TV shows. How that ties in to Obama's class warfare shtick can only be done with sewing thread of some kind of bubble gum.
Then we have the absurdly unlikely plot elements, like, when every single cop in the city of Gotham descends en masse into a big sewer hole to chase the bad guys, who are nowhere to be found, but who have clearly orchestrated this unlikely event so that the cops can be bottled up like bugs in a botanist's bottle by explosions that seal off the sewers. Why the bad guys didn't simply kill them all in some visceral demonstration of Darwin's theory, I don't know.
And there the cops stay for the next three months while Batman decides if he wants to save Gotham, getting physical therapy in some remote prison fortress that consists of hanging him from a rope and having someone fix his protruding broken vertabrae by punching the bloodied chunks back in place as hard as possible.
Yes, chiropracty has come a long way, though there was never an explanation for Wayne's recovered knee, elbow, shoulder and other cartilage, which a doctor in the opening to this pot-boiler tells us is "non-existent". I should think the elixer for that cure would have a market.
The prison thread is replete with the ethereal appearance of Obi-wan-Kenobi pretending to be Liam Neeson, who arrives to taunt the clueless Wayne, but this merely spurs Batman on to rebuild his strength and escape his fortress of solitude for debauched superheroes. Escape involves a pointless "leap of faith" in an obscure kiling apparatus that Austin Power would have approved of, involving climbing a hundred feet up the inside of a convenient vertical smokestack of badly set bricks, and then, when halfway up, abandoning that successful strategy to jump across the empty space of the 15 foot column to a conveniently placed concrete shelf jutting out on the other side, from whence you climb another 50 feet up the remainder of the stack to emerge in the middle of a remote desert without even a taxi to get home.
This "leap" seems to kill most prisoners that attempt it, but not Bruce Wayne, and he falls over and over again to the end of a 50 foot length of rope that stops his descent without the obligatory ripping-of-the-spine-in-half denoument.
The curious thing no one noticed is, this rope tied to Wayne's torso is clearly shown going out the top of the smokestack where it it belayed somewhere.
For the life of me, I cannot understand why Wayne didn't just climb the rope. Don't trouble yourself with that thought.
The cops back home have meanwhile subsisted on 3 months of K-rations generously donated by the bad guys, who seem to care in some touching way for them, but are finally saved by the Catwoman who can do more with two rockets on her borrowed Batcycle than the combined forces of the entire Republic --in the intervening three months no one, not even the cops, have attempted to remove the 10 trillion tons of debris keeping the cops in their sewer-bottle.
Cops are released, uniforms cleaned, pressed, dry-cleaned, but sans body odor and other public health issues (seriously, what's your underwear like after three months in a sewer?), to do battle with the bad guys, hand-to-hand. Guns are still wrong, you see. But even hand-to-hand, they can't seem to muster a single brain with a plan, and the obvious solution is to just run at the bad guys as a mob and get mowed down by machine guns and cannon fire. I must remember this strategy for future reference.
The only positive thing to this movie was the Catwoman, who had a shred of characterization and intelligence, and I recommend her line near the end, when Batman is getting his ass kicked once more by the evil Darth -- sorry, Bain -- and she shows up to rescue Batboob (living proof that his hydrocephalitic cowl is concealing not a shred of perceptive ability) and blows Bain to hell and back, saying something to the effect of, "this non-violence thing isn't really doing it for me."
Me neither. At this point in the movie, the bad guys have killed about 40 berzilion people and are about to set off a nuclear weapon; I think we're past the point of self-restraint.
The obligatory nuclear weapon itself is based on time-tested dramatic principles of contrived science and phony time-pressure that would make James Bond's nemesis Goldfinger proud. In the beginning the "fusion core" (fyi, "fusion" doesn't use a core -- that's "fission") is reported to be a little unstable when unhooked from it's computer console in the storm sewers of Wayne Enterprises, but somehow that instability acquired a precision of microseconds by the end of the movie.
Yadayada. I could say more, but why bother. It held my attention at the level of trying to navigate the demolition derby of rush-hour traffic on the 805 in Irvine, or count my toes while taking a bath. If it was a fish, I'd throw it back. Can anyone write an adult movie?
In essence, he is making a plea to vote Obama out of office if we are to save the world from absolute rule by Russia and China, caused by Obama's goal of eviscerating the United States military deterrent, which the destruction of the U.S. economy serves the end of (via policies such as "stimulus", Obamacare, blocking oil development, etc).
Loudon's method is not to assert what Obama is, but to show you the evidence, and let you reach your own conclusions -- if you dare. His objective is a simple one:
"...The United States is the last, best hope for mankind. If freedom falls in America, it falls in every corner of the globe...."I've written many blog posts on the danger of Obama, on his nihilist psychology, and his subversive goals, which rest overtly on the unilateral elimination of our nuclear deterrent in a second term (and I mean "eliminate unilaterally") and on his Soviet connections. (See, as a sampling, "Good Night, America", "Psychology of a Killer", "Obama's End Game", "Psychology of a Spiritual Looter", "The Next Phase in Obama's Rush Towards Unilateral Nuclear Disarmament", etc.)
I reached all my own conclusions independently of Loudon, who I only learned about some months ago. Our conclusions are identical: As evidenced by his extensive connections not only to the communist internationale, but his links to the old KGB and their replacements today, there is no question that Obama is acting deliberately, methodically and with malice aforethought on behalf of Russia -- but also as a matter of principle, because destruction of the good is his only raison d'etre, his only reason for being -- to destroy the United States and the United States military as a deterrent force in the world.
Loudon's concern is the short-term, existential survival of the United States and the world posed by a second Obama term, and the desperate need to get him out of office, now. His video summarizes only a few aspects of the evidence, which includes
"...Alice Palmer, a woman who got Obama his first job in politics, was effectively a Soviet agent. ..."She was with the World Peace Council, the Soviet Union's number one international front. The Soviets put billions of rubles into this..."On Obama's personal mentor from the age of 10 years:
"Frank Marshall Davis, communist, possible Soviet spy ...The FBI ...put together a 600 page file on the man ...he was seen photographing obscure Hawaiian beaches with a camera with a telescopic lens. They suspected military espionage, because they put Davis on "security index A", which was reserved for only the most dangerous communists..."Then there is Obama's present Chief of Staff in the White House:
"Valerie Jarrett, Obama's closest advisor, his most trusted friend -- her whole family was involved in the far left radical movement. Her maternal grandfather Robert Taylor was affiliated in the 1930s with the American Peace Mobilization, the communist party's main front at the time. ...her father Vernon Jarrett ...was a member of the American Youth for Democracy, which became the Communist Party USA. ...Jarrett was writing their press releases and propaganda, with Frank Marshall Davis..."
I also suggest you take a look at Loudon's blog. Most of the information from his book originally was published there.
Transcript (abridged slightly, a few sentences re-phrased for brevity):
The second reason is a little more selfish... the United States is the last, best hope for mankind. If freedom falls in America, it falls in every corner of the globe. If you lose your military superiority, you lose your world leadership. The Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, the Cubans, the North Koreans and their allies will carve up this globe amongst themselves.
...A lot of people email me and they say, if Obama gets back in again, can we come and live in New Zealand? I say, really, there is nowhere to run now. Just 1500 miles north of my country lie the beautiful Fijian islands. They now have a Marxist government. The Chinese are training the Fijian military and building big hydroelectric dams. Fiji is now a Chinese client state.
Just a few months ago, the Australian minister of defense was in China and a top Chinese official embarassed him publicly. He said, "Now is the time for Australia to choose. Do you stay under American protection, or do you come under Chinese protection?"
It's happening now because the bad guys of the world are getting bolder and bolder because of the leadership they see coming out of your White House. And all around the world your allies.... are very, very concerned because they see that your President seems to love the bad guys. ... this is creating a huge amount of instability, and people are looking to see which bully they have to curry favor with because they see that the United States is no longer a dependable ally. It's a very serious situation as far as world liberty goes.
There's a big world power play in action right now. In 1984, New Zealand elected a socialist labor government, and one of the first things they did was enact legislation banning nuclear warships in our harbors. As the United States was the only country sending nuclear warships to our harbors, that killed, overnight, the Australian-New Zealand-U.S. military alliance, ANZUS, stone cold dead, and it hasn't been revived to this day. Now how would it happen at the height of the cold war, a Western country could so willingly turn its back on the Western alliance?
A few years after this event, I had the pleasure of interviewing over several months, a New Zealander who infiltrated the local communist party for our security intelligence services, the equivalent of the American FBI. The guy was a government spy inside the communist party. In 1983 he was given the greatest honor any communist could enjoy, he was sent to Moscow to train at Lenin's institute for higher learning. This was a huge place, 3500 students, many of them on 7 year courses... this was a training ground for the future world communist leadership. There were people there from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Thailand, Luxembourg, Italy, Greece. Virtually every country was represented, except for one, the United States. The only reason there were no Americans there was that at some point, your government had told the Soviet Union, if there were any Americans caught training at that institute, there would be war. The Soviets respected that, but what they would do instead, they would train Canadians, or Mexicans or New Zealanders in the doctrines they wanted promoted, and those people would go and train the American communists.
My friend, sat down in a room, with the other three members of his delegation, with members of the KGB, and the Lenin institute, and they had a plan. This was the time of the massive anti-nuclear marches through Europe. ...There were real fears NATO might break up. The Soviets were funding these peace marches, funding the local communist parties that organized them, because they wanted NATO to break up. ... It is important to remember, that to Moscow, the American military and military alliances have always been the number one target, because your military is the only thing standing between them and what they want, which is world domination.
The plan was this. They had the big thing going on in Europe, but how about breaking away some country in the Western alliance, somewhere outside Europe, and the psychological and propaganda impact of that will spur on the peace movement in Europe, and lead to the destruction of NATO.
So they picked on New Zealand because we were small, socially liberal and the communists were strong, and they controlled our peace movement and they had infiltrated our labor party. They knew they couldn't sell it as anti-American, because most Kiwis were pro-American, so this had to be New Zealand standing up for peace, Kiwis standing against the nuclear arms race, New Zealand striking an independent foreign policy. Chest thumping patriotic stuff. So they worked out the slogans, they worked out the psychology, and the small delegation left Moscow and returned to New Zealand. They had secret meetings with the New Zealand labor party, with the peace movement, with the labor unions, and they mounted a campaign. In a few short months, that legislation was in front of our parliament and passed, and our alliance with the United States was killed stone cold dead. Even today, the conservatives don't dare overturn it. And hardly one of them would have any idea that those policies were designed in Moscow by the KB at Lenin's Institute for Higher Learning.
That is how a whole nation can be duped by a foreign power, ... that is what happened to my country, and that is what is happening to your country.
Why is this relevant to the United States? The Left has an agenda for America... Mr. Obama has a background in the hard Left. He's a red diaper baby, he was brought up in the Marxist movement his entire life. ...His first mentor was Frank Marshall Davis, who started out in the communist movement of Chicago in the 1940's... in 1948 he left Chicago and moved to Hawaii. Why would he do that? Comrade Stalin had ordered the American communist party to put as many members as possible to Hawaii because that is where Pearl Harbor was. Stalin wanted as many spies as he could get on the island, and as many agitators as he could get to close the bases down.
...The FBI had watched Davis for 19 years and were very concerned about him. They put together a 600 page file on the man. They were getting regular reports that he was seen photographing obscure Hawaiian beaches with a camera with a telescopic lens. They suspected military espionage, because they put Davis on "security index A", which was reserved for only the most dangerous communists, and if war had broken out with the Soviet Union, Davis could have been arrested immediately.
This was the man who was chosen, in 1970, to be the mentor to Barack Obama, who had just returned from Indonesia. That choice was made by Obama's grandfather, Stanley Dunham. Mr. Obama mentions Davis 22 times in his book "Dreams from my Father".
The next significant mentor to Obama was a woman named Alice Palmer. She was an Illinois State Senator, and she got Obama his first job. She guided him ...in the mid-90's. Alice Palmer had a very strong background in the communist movement. She was with the World Peace Council, the Soviet Union's number one international front.
The Soviets put billions of rubles into this. It still exists and was designed to agitate against your military, your military alliances, against Star Wars, against any weapons system that might give the United States superiority over its enemies.
Alice Palmer was heavily involved in it. She was also involved with an affiliate, the U.S. Peace Council, as an executive member. Alice Palmer also ran a network of black communist journalists in the United States, called the Black Press Institute, and she took several of these people, in 1985, for a trip to the Soviet Union, East Germany, and communist Czechoslovakia. She was also in Moscow in 1986, covering the annual conference of the communist party of the Soviet Union. In the same year she was elected as North American Vice President of the Organization of Journalists, a bona fide Soviet front.
So Alice Palmer, a woman who got Obama his first job in politics, was effectively a Soviet agent.
Today, Valerie Jarrett, Obama's closest advisor, his most trusted friend -- her whole family was involved in the far left radical movement. Her maternal grandfather Robert Taylor was affiliated in the 1930s with the American Peace Mobilization, the communist party's main front at the time, and their job was to keep American troops out of World War 2... At that time, Stalin was still allied with Nazi Germany. When Hitler betrayed Stalin, overnight the American Peace Mobilization became the American People's Mobilization, the most pro-war organization in the United States. And Robert Taylor was involved with that, alongside Frank Marshall Davis.
On the other side of Valerie Jarrett's family was her father Vernon Jarrett. ...in 1946, Jarrett was a member of the American Youth for Democracy, which became the Communist Party USA. In 1948 Vernon Jarrett served on the Packinghouse Workers Strike Committee, their publicity committee, a communist labor union and Jarrett was writing their press releases and propaganda, with Frank Marshall Davis.
The two most powerful people in America, Barack Obama, and his chief advisor, Valerie Jarrett can both trace their political lineage back to the Chicago communist party of the 1940's and specifically to Frank Marshall Davis.
Another person associated with the American Peace Mobilization group was a man named Hugh DeLacy, a card-carrying member of the communist party. He ended up settling in Santa Cruz, where he was a friend with a local congressman, Leon Panetta, who is now your Secretary of Defense (after Obama first appointed him to head the CIA). The Panettas and DeLacys were very good friends, they had parties at each others houses. When DeLacy died, four people read eulogies at his funeral. One was Panetta, and the other three were all members of a Marxist organization called Democratic Socialists of America. Panetta and DeLacy had corresponded over 10 years about opposing Reagan's policies of containing communism, opposing Star Wars, cutting the U.S. military.
DeLacy was a friend of another man, John Stuart Service, who had been part of the Soviet spy ring in the 1940s that worked to tilt U.S. State Department policy toward the Chinese communists. With the help of Service, DeLacy was given a free month-long trip to China to meet with two American expatriates who were working for the communist Chinese. Service was also working other others including those with the KGB spy ring in the State Department. ...He was in close contact with 5 members of the KGB and 1 communist spy. This was the man who was best friends with Panetta, your current Secretary of Defense.
That brings me to the real agenda of the Left -- to destroy your military. That's what this is all about. This is why the Soviets have funded the Peace movements and United States Communist Party, because their number one objective has always been to bring your military to its knees.
And now you have a situation in the United States, where your Commander in Chief, Mr. Obama, is working with your Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, to slash your military budget to ribbons. Mr. Obama has even got a paper commission to cut your U.S. nuclear arsenal down to 292 nuclear weapons. The Russians alone have more than 1500 -- that we know about. Yet Mr. Obama thinks it is a wise course of action to cut whole chunks out of the Army, whole chunks out of the Navy, weapons systems cancelled -- and who is cheering him on? None other than Vladimir Putin himself.
In March of this year, Mr. Obama did a very significant thing. He was in Korea talking to the Russian President, Mr. Medvedev, and said "I need more space. When I get reelected, I will have more flexibility to deal with you." and Medvedev answered, "I will pass your message on to Vladimir, we are with you."
That is the single most significant thing your President has said in his entire term of office. It is not about bringing your country down economically -- that's part of it -- it is not about health care -- that's part of it, too. The big agenda is to wreck your economy to the point that Americans will accept the gutting of their military. That is the agenda. Nothing else comes close as far as the communists, as far as the Russians, as far as all their allies are concerned, because there is no way back for you from that point.
This is not about a depression because Americans can survive a depression. This is not about losing your rights, because Americans can stand up and take them back. But have you ever been in the position before where your Commander in Chief and your Secretary of Defense have been giving your number one enemy everything it wants?
And project it forward, Ladies and Gentlemen, if Obama gets four more years, how much military will you have left? And how effective will it be?
And think about this: if in 4 more years your military is way run down, and the Russians have increased their armaments, the Chinese have built up their blue water navy in the Pacific, Iran has nuclear weapons, and a future Republican comes along to run for President, and he says, I'm going to rebuild the U.S. military to its former levels, to its former power –
Do you think for one minute the Russians and the Chinese and their allies will sit on their hands and let you guys do it? Do you think, when they've got you exactly where they want you they will entertain letting you rebuild your military might?
There is really no way back. This is about getting rid of your President, or allowing him to destroy your military capability, your ability to defend your country and defend your allies, taking you to a point where there is no return. Because if this continues, not only will you be not able to defend your allies, like Israel or Japan or Taiwan or Australia, but you'll not be able to defend even your homeland, and you will have no alternative but to accept some United Nations "Super-State" or face the combined military might of Russia and China and all their crazy allies and not a friend in the world to come to your aid.
This is about the survival of the free world. If America goes, we all go. If you lose your military dominance, the bad guys are going to take over, and there will be no where left to run. China will dominate the Pacific, Russia will dominate Europe. China will dominate Africa, Iran will dominate the Middle East, and there will be no safe havens left.
If some people think a world led by America isn't so hot, a world led by Russia and China will be a whole different ballgame, and I think the consequences of that will be quite horrific.
That is the alternative. It is America's survival at stake, and the survival of the whole Western world. I urge every American to consider that when they go to the ballots. That is the number one question that should be uppermost in their minds when they go to vote.
Postscript: Meanwhile there was a news story today, Putin flexes muscle in big test of Russia's nuclear arsenal...
(Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin took a leading role in the latest tests of Russia's strategic nuclear arsenal, the most comprehensive since the 1991 Soviet collapse, the Kremlin said on Saturday.
The exercises, held mostly on Friday, featured prominently in news reports on state television which seemed aimed to show Russians and the world that Putin is the hands-on chief of a resurgent power.
Tests involving command systems and all three components of the nuclear "triad" - land and sea-launched long-range nuclear missiles and strategic bombers - were conducted "under the personal leadership of Vladimir Putin", the Kremlin said.
An RS-12M Topol Intercontinental Ballistic Missile was launched from the Plesetsk site in northern Russia, and a submarine test-launched another ICBM from the Sea of Okhotsk, the Defence Ministry said.
Long-range Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers fired four guided missiles that hit their targets on a testing range in the northwestern Komi region, it said.
"Exercises of the strategic nuclear forces were conducted on such a scale for the first time in the modern history of Russia," the Kremlin statement said...
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)
The other day I posted a quote from Cicero that lamented the decline of Rome into despotism under Julius Caesar because of an indifferent, indolent, disorganized and cowardly society, with a parallel to our own situation since Obama's reelection (though perhaps since his first election).
"Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and gave him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the 'new, wonderful good society' which shall now be Rome, interpreted to mean 'more money, more ease, more security, more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.'" (Marcus Tullius Cicero)A friend who lives in Romania understood this quote very well, since his country is the land of former communist dictator Nicolai Ceausescu, a man who had some parallels to our own Comrade Barack. My friend provided an extremely relevant and important article on Cicero that expands on the Roman parallel perfectly, Standing Up When It is Too Late. I lightly abridge and reformat for emphasis, but I think it is so important that I provide most of the article here for you to contemplate directly:
Footnote:There is a letter by Marcus Tullius Cicero, dated 18 December 50 B.C. This letter was written to his friend Atticus on the eve of the Roman Civil War. He wrote as follows:"The political situation alarms me deeply, and so far I have found scarcely anybody who is not for giving Caesar what he demands rather than fighting it out."To explain the situation in brief, G. Julius Caesar had demanded the right to circumvent the Roman constitution, to break laws with impunity, to extend his command over a large army by using that army to threaten the Senate of Rome."And why should we start standing up to him now?" asked Cicero. The next day he wrote to Atticus: "We should have stood up to him [Caesar] when he was weak, and that would have been easy. Now we have to deal with eleven legions...."Though he hated the idea of civil war, the only course, said Cicero, was to follow "the honest men or whoever may be called such, even if they plunge."
And who were these "honest men"?"I don't know of any," wrote Cicero in the same letter. "There are honest individuals, but [there are no honest groups]." ... "None were frightened of living under an autocracy", he lamented. The capitalists, especially, "never have objected to that, so long as they were left in peace."But civil war occurred nonetheless, because people are not free to be dishonest forever. They must admit to certain responsibilities, and oppose the advance of evil. The previous inclination to look away, to do nothing, to shrug off responsibility, proves in the end to be no more than a delaying tactic. They attempted to put off calamity, Cicero suggested, and made it all the more calamitous. That is all.
Why did the Roman Senate suddenly stand up to Caesar? What triggered their resistance? As with all free people, they began with policies of procrastination and appeasement. They hoped that the problem (i.e., Caesar) would go away. In the end, however, they discovered their mistake. Everyone still hoped for peace, though none believed it was possible. Everyone wanted to avoid war, but nobody saw a way out. Pompey stood before the Senate and gave voice to what everyone thought."If we give Caesar the consulship, it will mean the subversion of the constitution." [said Cicero]In other words, it would mean the end of Rome, the end of the republic, the destruction of their country.
...Why do free people fall into complacency? Why are threats ignored until the eleventh hour?"Surely," wrote Cicero at the end of Caesar's dictatorship, "our present sufferings are all too well deserved. For had we not allowed outrages to go unpunished on all sides, it would never have been possible for a single individual to seize tyrannical power." Caesar's cause was not right, but evil, Cicero explained. "Mere confiscations of the property of individual citizens were far from enough to satisfy him. Whole provinces and countries succumbed to his onslaught, in one comprehensive universal catastrophe.."As for the city of Rome, Cicero lamented, "nothing is left ...the real Rome is gone forever."
Republics are slow to defend themselves against enemies that advance, like Caesar, under camouflage. But make no mistake, republics always defend. Groups and categories of men may not be honest or brave, but when they are finally confronted with the truth -- as individuals -- they see no other course. They stand up and fight. We should not be surprised, therefore, that Caesar was struck down in the Senate and killed by thrusting daggers. It is all too true, of course."We should have stood up to him when he was weak," Cicero lamented.The problem with republican government is its tardiness; or rather, tardiness in the face of danger. As Machiavelli wrote,"The institutions normally used by republics are slow in functioning. No assembly or magistrate can do everything alone. In many cases, they have to consult with one another, and to reconcile their diverse views takes time. Where there is a question of remedying a situation that will not brook delay, such a procedure is dangerous."Machiavelli concluded, therefore, "...that republics in imminent danger, having no recourse to dictatorship ... will always be ruined when some grave misfortune befalls them."
This is the weakness of republican government. Here is the ground on which it dies. An obvious threat, like 9/11 or Pearl Harbor is not the greatest danger. It is the subtle, camouflaged threat, that creeps up from behind. It is this camouflage that gives reluctant men a way out. "We need not fight. We need not make a fuss. There is nothing to fear."
When this is the prevailing view, people who understand a given threat may ask: "What is to be done?"
As long as we are isolated individuals, there is nothing to do. The individual may be honest with himself, but groups are not honest. What prevails overall is an optimistic dismissal. "The threat isn't real."
This is how Hitler got so far. This is how Communism took over so many countries, and continues today under camouflage. There is nothing the individual can do that will sway the crowd. And as we are a republic, our political system operates according to the psychology of a crowd. The majority are caught up in the fads and media trends of the moment. Cynical and empty publicity characterizes much of our public discourse.
Are the Russians and Chinese arming themselves against us? Is Venezuela becoming a military bulwark for Communism in Latin America? Is Mexico being destabilized by the Russian mafia (via the Mexican mafia)? Has Canada been infiltrated by Chinese intelligence allied with Chinese organized crime? Are socialist revolutionaries inside the U.S. government subverting the nation's nuclear deterrent, foreign policy, and border security?
The crowd says "no" because that is what they want to believe. But one day the country will awaken. Then, and only then, Americans will stop going along as if nothing serious hangs over them. Will it be too late? Perhaps it will be too late to save the republic. But it will not be too late to save the country.
Cicero has an extensive fascinating history. From the Wiki, I offer you a sampling:
Marcus Tullius Cicero (January 3, 106 BC – December 7, 43 BC) was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul and constitutionalist. ..Petrarch's rediscovery of Cicero's letters is often credited for initiating the 14th-century Renaissance... The peak of Cicero's authority and prestige came during the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, and his impact on leading Enlightenment thinkers such as John Locke, David Hume, and Montesquieu was substantial. His works rank among the most influential in European culture, and today still constitute one of the most important bodies of primary material for the writing and revision of Roman history... Cicero also had an influence on modern astronomy.
"...He is credited with transforming Latin from a modest utilitarian language into a versatile literary medium capable of expressing abstract and complicated thoughts with clarity. Julius Caesar praised Cicero's achievement by saying “it is more important to have greatly extended the frontiers of the Roman spirit than the frontiers of the Roman empire"... Nicolaus Copernicus, searching for ancient views on earth motion, say that he "first ... found in Cicero that Hicetas supposed the earth to move."
"...Cicero the republican inspired the Founding Fathers of the United States and the revolutionaries of the French Revolution. John Adams said of him "As all the ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher united than Cicero, his authority should have great weight." Jefferson names Cicero as one of a handful of major figures who contributed to a tradition “of public right” that informed his draft of the Declaration of Independence and shaped American understandings of "the common sense" basis for the right of revolution."
In Cicero's time,
...Caesar, seeking the legitimacy an endorsement by a senior senator would provide, courted Cicero's favour, but even so Cicero slipped out of Italy... Eventually, he provoked the hostility of his fellow senator Cato, who told him that he would have been of more use to the cause of the optimates if he had stayed in Rome. After Caesar's victory at Pharsalus, Cicero returned to Rome only very cautiously. Caesar pardoned him and Cicero tried to adjust to the situation and maintain his political work, hoping that Caesar might revive the Republic and its institutions.
...Cicero, however, was taken completely by surprise when the Liberatores assassinated Caesar on the ides of March, 44 BC. Cicero was not included in the conspiracy, even though the conspirators were sure of his sympathy. Marcus Junius Brutus called out Cicero's name, asking him to restore the republic when he lifted the bloodstained dagger after the assassination. A letter Cicero wrote in February 43 BC to Trebonius, one of the conspirators, began, "How I could wish that you had invited me to that most glorious banquet on the Ides of March"
Cicero became a popular leader during the period of instability following the assassination. He had no respect for Mark Antony, who was scheming to take revenge upon Caesar's murderers.
...Cicero and all of his contacts and supporters were numbered among the enemies of the state, and reportedly, Octavian argued for two days against Cicero being added to the list.
Cicero was one of the most viciously and doggedly hunted among the proscribed. He was viewed with sympathy by a large segment of the public and many people refused to report that they had seen him. He was caught December 7, 43 BC leaving his villa in Formiae in a litter going to the seaside where he hoped to embark on a ship destined for Macedonia. When his killers – Herennius (a centurion) and Popilius (a tribune) – arrived, Cicero's own slaves said they had not seen him, but he was given away by Philologus, a freed slave of his brother Quintus Cicero.
Cicero's last words are said to have been, "There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly." He bowed to his captors, leaning his head out of the litter in a gladiatorial gesture to ease the task. By baring his neck and throat to the soldiers, he was indicating that he wouldn't resist. According to Plutarch, Herennius first slew him, then cut off his head. On Antony's instructions his hands, which had penned the Philippics against Antony, were cut off as well; these were nailed along with his head on the Rostra in the Forum Romanum according to the tradition of Marius and Sulla, both of whom had displayed the heads of their enemies in the Forum. Cicero was the only victim of the proscriptions to be displayed in that manner. According to Cassius Dio (in a story often mistakenly attributed to Plutarch), Antony's wife Fulvia took Cicero's head, pulled out his tongue, and jabbed it repeatedly with her hairpin in final revenge against Cicero's power of speech.
A few years ago on my blog I linked an interview with a former Soviet KGB defector, Yuri Bezmenov, in which he described, in a 1984 interview on Canadian TV, in chilling detail how the Soviets were working to undermine America with ideological subversion. I'm revisiting this after the election, because the implications of that interview have become so much more significant -- we are on the verge of something so terrible -- as a nation, and as a world -- that I can hardly put words to it. I will let the former KGB man do most of the speaking.
Now, I know what a lot of Objectivist friends will say -- ideas are the primary determinant of the course of a culture, and intelligence and military propaganda efforts are of minor significance -- but remember, ideas determine ideology, and ideology determines psyops (psychological operations). The Soviets were the product of Kant, Hegel and Marx, and so were their military and intelligence operations -- operations which were planned and executed over decades towards the end goal of global domination.
Yes -- the Soviet Union is no longer around. But the effect of their operations are still very much alive, in the sense of zombies. Exhibit A: Barack Obama. Exhibit B: the American education system. Exhibit C: The American mainstream media. Exhibit D: the sanction of victims at every level of our society. Exhibit E: the imminent collapse of our society.
His words are frighteningly prophetic -- in 1984. Don't dismiss this with superficial bromides -- not until you've watched the interview, or read the transcript of what the man said, which I will include parts of to motivate your interest in more. This has direct relevance to what we are now living.
Some excerpts here from Bezmenov -- compare this to what you know today:
BEZMENOV: "...ideological subversion, active measures, or psychological warfare. What it basically means is: to change the perception of reality of every American that despite of the abundance of information no one is able to come to sensible conclusions in the interest of defending themselves, their families, their community, and their country. It's a great brainwashing process which goes very slow and is divided into four basic stages...
1. The first stage being "demoralization". It takes from 15 to 20 years to demoralize a nation. Why that many years? Because this is the minimum number of years required to educate one generation of students in the country of your enemy exposed to the ideology of [their] enemy. ...So basically America is Stuck, with demoralization; and unless, even if you start right now this minute; you start educating new generation of Americans - it will still take you 15 to 20 years to turn the tide of uh, ideological perception of reality; uh back to normalcy and patriotism.
...The demoralization process in the United States is basically completed already for the last 25 years [he said this in 1984!]. Actually, it's over fulfilled because demoralization now reaches such areas where not even Comrade Andropov and all his experts would even dream of such tremendous success.Seethis video to connect what he says about a people now addicted to "all kinds of goodies": I'm not sure if this video is a gag or not, but it captures the essence of what's happened to our society. This woman describes why the People's State of California is the best state in the country to live in -- because everything is free. She concludes, quite matter-of-factly and earnestly,
...The result you can see -- most of the people who graduated in the 60's, dropouts or half-baked intellectuals, are now occupying the positions of power in the government, civil service, business, mass media, and educational systems. You are stuck with them. You can't get rid of to them. They are contaminated. They are programmed to think and react to certain stimuli in a certain pattern [alluding to Pavlov]. You can not change their mind even if you expose them to authentic information. Even if you prove that white is white and black is black, you still can not change the basic perception and the logic of behavior. In other words [for] these people the process of demoralization is complete and irreversible. To rid society of these people you need another 15 or 20 years to educate a new generation of patriotically minded and common sense people who would be acting in favor and in the interests of United States society.
2. The next stage is destabilization.... this time, subverter does not care about your ideas and the patterns of your consumption. Whether you eat junk food and get fat and flabby doesn't matter any more. It only takes 2 to 5 years to destabilize a nation. This time what matters is essentials; economy, foreign relations, [and] defense systems. And you can see it quite clearly that in some... sensitive areas such as defense and [the] economy, the influence of Marxist-Leninist ideas in the United States is absolutely fantastic. I could never believe it 14 years ago when I landed in this part of the world that the process will go that fast.
3. The next stage of course is crisis, which may take only up to 6 weeks to bring a country to the verge of crisis. ...This is what will happen in [the] United States if you allow all the shmucks to bring the country to crisis. To promise people all kinds of goodies, and the paradise on Earth.
"I mean, WHO would want to work in America? This is what the taxpayers are paying for!"
Back to Bezmenov.
4. And, after crisis, with a violent change of power, structure, and economy, you have [the so-called] period of normalization. It may last indefinitely. Normalization is a cynical expression borrowed from Soviet propaganda. When the Soviet tanks moved into Czechoslovakia in ‘68, Comrade Brezhnev said, ‘Now the situation in brotherly Czechoslovakia is normalized.’He adds,
This is what will happen in [the] United States if you allow all these schmucks to bring the country to crisis, to promise people all kind[s] of goodies and the paradise on earth, to destabilize your economy, to eliminate the principle of free market competition, and to put [a] Big Brother government in Washington, D.C. with benevolent dictators like Walter Mondale, who will promise lots of thing[s], never mind whether the promises are fulfillable or not. He will go to Moscow to kiss the bottoms of [a] new generation of Soviet assassins, never mind... he will create false illusions that the situation is under control. [The] situation is not under control. [The] situation is disgustingly out of control.
Most of the American politicians, media, and educational system trains another generation of people who think they are living at the peacetime. False. [The] United States is in a state of war: undeclared, total war against the basic principles and foundations of this system. And the initiator of this war is not Comrade Andropov, of course. It's the system. However ridiculous it may sound, [it is] the world Communist system (or the world Communist conspiracy). Whether I scare some people or not, I don't give a hoot. If you are not scared by now, nothing can scare you.
But you don’t have to be paranoid about it. What actually happens now [is] that unlike [me], you have literally several years to live on unless [the] United States [wakes] up.
To destabilize your economy to eliminate the principal of free market competition; and to put a big brother government in Washington D.C.; with benevolent dictators ...Never mind whether the promises are fulfilled or not. He [the dictator] will go to Moscow to kiss the bottoms of a new generation of Soviet assassins. Never mind [nothing to see here, move along], he will create false illusions that the situation is under control.
Sidenote: Obama's first visit overseas after winning his first election? Russia, to meet Putin. It's been announced his next visit overseas after this latest election will be... to visit Putin, who is also a former KGB man. I know this remark will evoke comment from my Russian friends :) Doesn't mean Putin is still a communist.]
"Most of the American politicians, media, and educational system train another generation of people who think they are living at the peacetime. False. United States is in a state of war; undeclared, total war against the basic principles and foundations of this system. And the initiator of this war is not Comrade Andropov of course - it's the system. However, ridiculous it may sound, [it is] the world Communist system, or the world Communist conspiracy.[Side-side note: I have a friend who was in Berlin in 1984, working Army signals intelligence for NSA, when his group picked up the first coded messages from Moscow that Andropov had died; the world learned 3 days later.]
BEZMENOV: "Whether I scare some people or not, I don't give a hoot. If you're not scared by now, nothing can scare you. You don't have to be paranoid about it. What actually happens now; that unlike myself, you have literally several years to live on unless United States wake up. The time bomb is ticking. With every second the disaster is coming closer. Unlike myself, you will have nowhere to defect to, unless you want to live in Antarctica with penguins. This is it, this is the last country with freedom and possibility.Bezmenov did a lecture in Los Angeles just before these interviews, and said similar things, but also went into some more detail about the nature of Soviet subversive techniques. A sampling:
INTERVIEWER: Okay, so what do we do? What is your recommendation to the American people?
BEZMENOV: Well, the immediate thing that comes to mind is, of course, there must be a very strong national effort to educate people in the spirit of REAL patriotism, number one. Number two, to explain [to] them the real danger of socialist, communist, welfare state, Big Brother government. If people fail to grasp the impending danger; nothing ever will help the United States. You may kiss goodbye your freedoms.... All this freedom will vanish in 5 seconds - including your precious lives.
The moment at least part of [the] United States population is convinced that the danger is real, they have to FORCE their government, and I'm not talking about sending letters, signing petitions, and all this beautiful, noble activity, I'm talking about FORCING [the] United States government to stop aiding Communism....
BEZMENOV: "The highest art of warfare is not to fight at all, but to subvert anything of value in the country of your enemy, until such time that the perception of reality of your enemy is screwed up to such an extent that he does not perceive you as an enemy, and that your system, your civilization and your ambitions look to you enemy as an alternative, if not desirable, then at least feasible. Better Red than Dead. That's the ultimate purpose, the final stage by which you can take your enemy without a single shot being fired. If the subversion is successful. This is what subversion is. As you see, not a single mention of blowing up bridges.Even more chilling is how Bezmenov routinely describes how communists take care of dissenters after they take over:
"The basics of subversion are being taught to every student of the KGB in the USSR and to officers of military academies."
"Subversion can only be successful when the initiator, the actor, the agent of subversion has a responsive target. It's a two-way traffic. The United States is a receptive target of subversion."
BEZMENOV: Most of the activity of the department [KGB] was to compile a huge amount and volume of information on individuals who were instrumental in creating public opinion. Publisher, editors, journalists, actors, educationalists, professors of political science, members of parliament, representatives of business circles.You might tie that in to this from the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) web site, November 17, 2012 -- their National Committee issued a report celebrating the re-election of Barack Obama:
Most of these people were divided roughly into two groups: those who would tow the Soviet foreign policy, who would be promoted to positions of power through media and public manipulation; [and] those who refuse the Soviet influence in their own country -- [they] would be character assassinated OR executed physically, come Revolution.
Same way as in a small town of Hua in South Vietnam; several thousands of Vietnamese were executed in one night when the city was captured by [the] Viet Cong for only two days; and American CIA could never figure out -- how could [the communists] possibly know each Individual, where he lives, where to get him, [how could they] be arrested in one night basically in four hours before dawn, put on a van, driven out of the city limits and shot?
The answer is very simple. Long before communists occupied the city, there was an extensive network of informers; local Vietnamese citizens who knew absolutely everything about people who were instrumental in [forming] public opinion -- including barbers and taxi drivers. Everyone who was sympathetic to the United States was executed. Same thing was done under the guidance of the Soviet Embassy in Hanoi, and same thing I was doing in New Delhi. To my horror, I discovered that in the files were people who were doomed to execution. There were names of pro-Soviet Journalists, with whom I was personally friendly.
INTERVIEWER: Pro Soviet?
BEZMENOV: Simply, because, you see, [they were] useful idiots, the leftists who are idealistically believing in the beauty of Soviet or Communist or Socialist or whatever system; when they get disillusioned, they become the worst enemies. That's why my KGB instructors specifically made the point, "never bother with leftists, forget about these political prostitutes -- "aim higher," this was my instruction...
INTERVIEWER: But to eliminate the others; to execute the others, don't they serve some purpose -- wouldn't they be the one's to rely on?
BEZMENOV: No, they serve a purpose only [up] to the stage of destabilization of a nation. For example, your leftists in [the] United States; all these professors and all these beautiful civil rights defenders. They are instrumental in the process of the subversion, only to destabilize a nation. When the job is completed, they are not needed anymore. They know too much. ...The moment they serve their purpose, all the useful idiots are either executed entirely, [or sent to a prison camp]. All the idealistically minded Marxists. ...you can get popular like Daniel Ellsberg and filthy rich like Jane Fonda for being a dissident [and] for criticizing your Pentagon. In [the] future these people will simply be [he makes a squishy noise] squashed like cockroaches for criticizing the government.
"We meet on the heels of an enormous people's victory. It was a long and bitterly contested battle in which the forces of inclusive democracy came out on top. The better angels of the American people spread their wings.Pause on a few phrases in there:
"An African American president was reelected to the Presidency, the Democrats unexpectedly strengthened their hand in the Senate and House, new progressive voices, like Elizabeth Warren, are coming to Washington.
"We can be proud of our role in the election. Our contribution was both ideological and practical. Nearly every member and leader was involved. Our work gives us much to build on as we throw ourselves into the post-election battles.
"In every state and city our political relationships are broader and deeper; our presence and prestige are on a new level.
"We come out of this election poised to play a larger role in the unfolding struggles, beginning with the struggle over the "fiscal cliff."
"...Our contribution was both ideological and practical. Nearly every member and leader was involved."Think about that word -- "practical." It means something to a committed communist -- it means, control and violence. This was practically a call to mobilize for violent takeover.
"Our work gives us much to build on as we throw ourselves into the post-election battles. We come out of this election poised to play a larger role in the unfolding struggles..."You must realize that communists take that word "battle" literally. And Barack Obama is a communist. A Stalinist.
Realize -- we have something much worse than mafioso in charge of our country right now.
There is *much* more to either the inteview or the lectures. He's quite matter of fact (and very funny at times), as when he talks at length of how most of the "idealistic" communists would be immediately executed if the Soviets took over. Well, same principle applies if it's not the Soviets: people after power don't tolerate starry-eyed idealists for long.
It's all coming from a man who knew, too well, how the United States was being deliberately undermined for decades, by long-range plan and intention. Yes, the sickness was much wider than Soviet plans. Yes, there was, as Ayn Rand argued, a philosophical sickness poisoning the entire world with wrong ideas, from which communism emerged, and yes, the United States was infected with it even before the Russian Revolution in 1917. (It was.)
But it's one thing to be sick; it's another thing to feed the patient poison to greatly accelerate the sickness. (and the Soviets were part of the sickness)
Ayn Rand also said that the communists -- which as Bezmenov notes were *not* just the Soviets but the entire loosely-knit *internationale* of communists and their sympathizers -- were like maggots feeding off of a corpse. (from memory -- exact phrasing might be corrected). In this case, the maggots that the Soviets begat in the 50's and 60's took on a life of their own even well before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and what we are living with today is the legacy of that.
Another side note: Bezmenov worked for the KGB to subvert India during the 60's. In the late 40's, the post-war architect of Indian socialism was a British diplomat and intellectual named Harold Laski. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Laski) He was openly a socialist, later revealed to be a closet communist -- a Fabian, if I recall, the stealth organization dedicated to incremental implementation of communism, started by Bertram Russell, among others.
But in the 1930's Ayn Rand heard Laski talk, and instantly realized that *he* was the role model for her character of Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead -- a man, whom she had say in the novel (see my post Good Night, America) about the independent, free man:
"I don't want to kill him. I want him in jail. You understand? In jail. In a cell. Behind bars. Locked, stopped, strapped--and alive. He'll get up when they tell him to. He'll eat what they give him. He'll move when he's told to move and stop when he's told. He'll walk to the jute mill, when he's told, and he'll work as he's told. They'll push him, if he doesn't move fast enough, and they'll slap his face when they feel like it, and they'll beat him with rubber hose if he doesn't obey. And he'll obey. He'll take orders. He'll take orders!"This is all related to a point I made in a post a year and a half ago: the problem is bigger than most people realize. Much bigger.
Links to full Los Angeles lecture by Bezmenov:
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JN0By0xbst8
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoaS6Tt6ODY
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJ30f9OfuFs
Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pX_9kKvyjJs
Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bivEvWDWxlI
Part 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgUmpwZiGjg
Part 7: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VctBWelXt4
Short video segments of the interview on this page:
Full 81 minute video of Bezmenov interview:
Full interview transcript (in three parts):
Partial transcript of Bezmenov interview may be found here:
He escaped to the West in 1970 after becoming totally disgusted with the Soviet system; and he did this at great risk to his life. He certainly is one of the worlds outstanding experts on the subject of Soviet propaganda; and disinformation and active measures.
[To Bezmenov] ...you spoke before about "ideological subversion" and that's a phrase that I'm afraid some Americans don't understand. When the Soviets use the phrase "ideological subversion" what do they mean by it?
Everyone who was sympathetic to United States was executed. Same thing was done under the guidance of the Soviet Embassy in Hanoi, and same thing I was doing in New Delhi. To my horror, I discovered that in the files were people who were doomed to execution. There were names of pro-Soviet Journalists, with whom I was personally friendly.
ED GRIFFIN: And yet these people who have been programmed and as you say [are] in place and who are favorable to an opening with the Soviet concept -- these are the very people who would be marked for extermination in this country?
[Now] you can get popular like Daniel Ellsberg and filthy rich like Jane Fonda for being a dissident [and] for criticizing your Pentagon. In [the] future these people will simply be [he makes a squishy noise] squashed like cockroaches for criticizing the government. Nobody is going to pay them nothing for their beautiful [and] noble ideas of EQUALITY. This they don't understand and it will be the greatest shock for them, of course.
The demoralization process in the United States is basically completed already for the last 25 years. Actually, it's over fulfilled because demoralization now reaches such areas where not even Comrade Andropov and all his experts would even dream of such tremendous success. Most of it is done by Americans to Americans thanks to lack of moral standards. As I mentioned before, exposure to true information does not matter anymore. A person who was demoralized is unable to assess true information. The facts tell nothing to him, even if I shower him with information, with authentic proof, with documents and pictures. Even if I take him by force to the Soviet Union and show him the concentration camps...he will refuse to believe it.... until he is going to receive a kick in his fat bottom.
It only takes 2 to 5 years to destabilize a nation. This time what matters is essentials; economy, foreign relations, [and] defense systems. And you can see it quite clearly that in some... sensitive areas such as defense and [the] economy, the influence of Marxist-Leninist ideas in the United States is absolutely fantastic. I could never believe it 14 years ago when I landed in this part of the world that the process will go that fast.
To promise people all kinds of goodies, and the paradise on Earth. Uh to destabilize your economy to eliminate the principal of free market competition; and to put a big brother government in Washington D.C.; with benevolent dictators like  Walter Mondale [2008 Obama] who will promise lots of things - Never mind whether the promises are fulfilled or not. He [the dictator] will go to Moscow to kiss the bottoms of a new generation of Soviet Assassins. Never mind [nothing to see here, move along], he will create false illusions that the situation is under control.
Most of the American politicians, media, and educational system train another generation of people who think they are living at the peacetime. False. United States is in a state of war; undeclared, total war against the basic principles and foundations of this system. And the initiator of this war is not Comrade Andropov of course - it's the system. However, ridiculous it may sound, [it is] the world Communist system, or the world Communist conspiracy. Whether I scare some people or not, I don't give a hoot. If you're not scared by now, nothing can scare you. You don't have to be paranoid about it. What actually happens now; that unlike myself, you have literally several years to live on unless United States wake up. The time bomb is ticking. With every second the disaster is coming closer. Unlike myself, you will have nowhere to defect to, unless you want to live in Antarctica with penguins.
The moment at least part of [the] United States population is convinced that the danger is real, they have to FORCE their government, and I'm not talking about sending letters, signing petitions, and all this beautiful, noble activity, I'm talking about FORCING [the] United States government to stop aiding Communism....
Headline: 20 Children Among 28 Dead In Newtown Elementary School Massacre.
It's too terrible to dwell on the concrete details, which have become far too commonplace. I only note that it was inevitable, and more is on the way.
It's a terrible fact that when the philosophy of a culture becomes utterly irrational, it infects everything. People become utterly irrational when they come to embrace utterly irrational ideas. I've remarked multiple times that the Left has become borderline psychotic, and I mean it. Leonard Peikoff suggested something similar many years ago in his speech, "Modernism and Madness," (1994) which was the source of my own observation, and I've thought about it ever since.
The effect of irrational ideas infects everyone who subscribes to them. What makes the Left's ideas so pernicious, especially those of the so-called "post-modern" Left, who are something of the apotheosis of worship in the Cult of Unreason, is the insidious nature of the un-integrated, unreal ideas they advocate -- ideas developed ultimately with no regard for reality, but not merely no regard -- open, defiant contempt for reality. The ideas they uphold are utterly unintegrated from any rational context by intention, with a brooding leitmotif of loathing for any kind of order to existence, and for any kind of human existence. This expresses itself in the phenomenon Ayn Rand identified as hatred of the good for being the good:
This hatred is not resentment against some prescribed view of the good with which one does not agree. . . . Hatred of the good for being the good means hatred of that which one regards as good by one’s own (conscious or subconscious) judgment. It means hatred of a person for possessing a value or virtue one regards as desirable.As she noted,
What is the nature of a creature in which the sight of a value arouses hatred and the desire to destroy? In the most profound sense of the term, such a creature is a killer, not a physical, but a metaphysical one—it is not an enemy of your values, but of all values, it is an enemy of anything that enables men to survive, it is an enemy of life as such and of everything living.The effect of irrational ideas has to ripple down through a culture. Putting aside the vocational aspects, our schools today are dedicated to one proposition: destroying the minds of children. The most successful products of our schools now grow up warped and disfigured mentally, in possession of some knowledge here and there -- table scraps for emaciated minds -- but largely shriveled mentally, their cortical folds flattened and disfigured by rabid committments to random eclectic notions bearing no connection at all to reality.
At some level they know they are freaks. The anger wells up. From the start of their grade-school they had stewed for years in a pot of irrationality that washed their brains of any critical faculty and left them inept to live and filled with rationalizations for their metaphysical incompetence -- it's somebody else's fault for their lack of self-esteem or ambition or whatever. The brainwashing was perfect, because they came out of the process not merely unable to recognize their own killers, but admiring them.
With the sanction of a post-modern philosophy that glorifies hatred of anything human, they went home -- to watch post-modern movies or television shows denigrate anything heroic while teaching a mindless amoral violence as the solution to all problems. And then, when bored with that (for the existentialism of boredom surely permeates the post-modern culture) they settled deeper into their couches to play post-modern video games that glorify mindless violence.
Then you add the confines of the straitjacket of statism. All that incompetence and feelings of worthlessness become a suffocating claustrophobic pressure seeking release. With no freedom, no ability to exercise individual judgment and only unchosen duties -- of course something has to give.
This is the pattern of any extreme authoritarianism driven by an insane philosophy. Psychological pressure builds till people start exploding. They go crazy.
It's happened throughout history, though you don't read much about it unless you look for it. Look up the history of any rigidly authoritarian country like the Soviet Union, or Cambodia -- sometimes the people doing the exploding are the ones in control. (Or -- who was the "Pied Piper" of Hamelin? A serial killer of children. Put this one in the context of the stultifying religious authoritarianism of the Dark Ages.)
Freedom is the pressure relief valve of psychosis, in a sense, but more fundamentally, reason is what prevents psychosis and the pressure build-up in the first place -- by developing confident human beings who feel fit to live, who are qualified to live freely and independently, and who cultivate a society that allows people to live freely.
Free, rational societies don't breed mass killers. Authoritarian, irrational societies do breed mass killers. That's why I said: more is coming.
Our society has scorned reason. Under government run, left-wing schools of pure, unadulterated brainwashing, too many children are taught nothing but irrational social and psychological doctrines that disfigure them mentally -- by design.
Ayn Rand explained it in one of her most brilliant essays, The Comprachicos. Quoting Victor Hugo in his novel The Man Who Laughs, she made a comparison:
' …The comprachicos, or comprapequeños, were a strange and hideous nomadic association, famous in the seventeenth century, forgotten in the eighteenth, unknown today.She continued in her own voice:
'…Comprachicos, as well as comprapequeños, is a compound Spanish word that means “child-buyers.” The comprachicos traded in children. They bought them and sold them.
' They did not steal them. The kidnapping of children is a different industry.
' And what did they make of these children?
' Why monsters?
' To laugh.
' The people need laughter; so do the kings. Cities require side-show freaks or clowns; palaces require jesters …
' To succeed in producing a freak, one must get hold of him early. A dwarf must be started when he is small …'
' Hence, an art. There were educators. They took a man and turned him into a miscarriage; they took a face and made a muzzle. They stunted growth; they mangled features. This artificial production of teratological cases had its own rules. It was a whole science. Imagine an inverted orthopedics. Where God had put a straight glance, this art put a squint. Where God had put harmony, they put deformity. Where God had put perfection, they brought back a botched attempt. And, in the eyes of connoisseurs, it is the botched that was perfect …
' The practice of degrading man leads one to the practice of deforming him. Deformity completes the task of political suppression…
' The comprachicos had a talent, to disfigure, that made them valuable in politics. To disfigure is better than to kill. There was the iron mask, but that is an awkward means. One cannot populate Europe with iron masks; deformed mountebanks, however, run through the streets without appearing implausible; besides, an iron mask can be torn off, a mask of flesh cannot. To mask you forever by means of your own face, nothing can be more ingenious…'
The production of monsters — helpless,twisted monsters whose normal development has been stunted — goes on all around us. But the modern heirs of the comprachicos are smarter and subtler than their predecessors: they do not hide, they practice their trade in the open; they do not buy children, the children are delivered to them; they do not use sulphur or iron, they achieve their goal without ever laying a finger on their little victims.
This is the ingenuity practiced by most of today’s educators. They are the comprachicos of the mind. They do not place a child into a vase to adjust his body to its contours. They place him into a “Progressive” nursery school to adjust him to society...She quotes herself in Atlas Shrugged:
He thought of all the living species that train their young in the art of survival, the cats who teach their kittens to hunt, the birds who spend such strident effort on teaching their fledglings to fly — yet man, whose tool of survival is the mind, does not merely fail to teach a child to think, but devotes the child’s education to the purpose of destroying his brain, of convincing him that thought is futile and evil, before he has started to think… “Men would shudder, he thought, if they saw a mother bird plucking the feathers from the wings of her young, then pushing him out of the nest to struggle for survival—yet that was what they did to their children...I strongly recommend her entire essay to expand on what I'm saying here.
So the mental cripples emerging from our schools, realizing they are metaphysically worthless social pawns, become a kind of suicide bomber. They understand only one thing -- that they possess no reading ability, no writing ability, no mathematics ability, no knowledge of history or science or literature, no morals, no principles to guide them, no introspective ability (because that requires all the rest), no capacity to think whatsoever, and no self-respect, because that requires the capacity to think. What can they do?
Explode. They have to explode. It's the only thing they feel capable of doing, and for many the only thing they are practiced in doing, based on long hours ruminating in front of the screen of an imploding culture.
They can't see inwardly, so all they can do is look outward. They see some people who are happy, or who might be happy, and they feel a bubbling resentment. They hear the steady pounding of left-wing culture rap that resonates with the never-ending migraine in their own skulls. Momentarily, they get a brief cathartic release watching other people "solve" their problems on TV or in movies by shooting, stabbing, strangling or blowing someone up. The "anti-heroes" in those shows project no moral purpose to the carnage -- so the message is simply that even if love is the professed theoretical solution, killing is the only practical one.
This is reinforced when the nightly news flashes on-screen to trumpet the celebration of the doctrine at a wholesale level, with new legislation or Presidential edicts that destroy industries or murder Americans in altruistic wars.
Seeing all this indiscriminate killing, disfigured human misfits might flee to the narcotic of a video game to get them through another night of escape with a barrage of simulated killing -- but that drug wears off quickly, leaving them only halucinogenic nightmares of unrelenting terror. Repeated day in and day out, the psychological battering eventually drives some to seek out a stronger drug, the only thing they feel competent to do to redeem the void of their lives-- kill.
The current generation, meanwhile, being fully mentally and permanently disfigured by the Comprachicos of the educational establishment and our culture writ large, have been let loose to stumble around for their survival within the cage of our authoritarian society -- which regulates their every movement and whips them at every turn for any expression of individual judgment or pursuit of any personal happiness. They've no future at all, nothing but random hope for some loose change of an existence.
They see only one way out of the pain of such an existence: death. This becomes a brooding, festering fascination with it, born of resentment and hatred and loathing and envy for every single creature that is worthy of its own existence. This resentment comes to consume the pathetic shreds of their lives, and some of them determine, when the pressure becomes too great, that one last suicidal gasp is all that's left to prove that they are better, as long as no one else is better off. Anyone of any happiness, or any potential for happiness, like a child. Anyone of any ability, any integrity, any achievement, any good in them is a glaring affront to the existence of these metaphysical monstrosities, and must be eliminated, in their psychotic world-view. Destroyed, obliterated from existence.
Such is the development of a mass killer -- anyone who's main goal is to snuff out the lives of everyone who might be happy, solely because they might be happy.
Random shootings are modern philosophy played out in action on a small scale. But modern philosophy is also starting to play out on a much bigger scale -- the recent election was our next "Batman shooter" preparing to enter the theater of the nation by engraved invitation -- and it will soon lead to global destruction unless the government-run schools of indoctrinated madness are shut down, but more fundamentally, only if the philosophies of madness that guide those schools are replaced with a philosophy of reason.
(I don't wish to raise the spectre of politics in this essay given the somber nature of the subject, but some time ago I did a commentary on how this kind of analysis applies to the disfigured creature in the White House. It is a fact that he is closely related in spirit and intention to those who would randomly attack schools or theaters, and this should be borne in mind for the wary.)
I had a private exchange with a friend who remarked,
I had a thought about the Left’s abhorrence of guns. I wonder if part of it stems from a rationalist “principle” of “all killing is bad.” So, it’s not just the murder of innocents that’s evil, but killing in self-defense is really just as bad--and from that contradiction flows all manner of additional craziness.The subject was the madness within our modern society. He quoted Galt in Atlas Shrugged, who said,
"I have said that faith and force are corollaries, and that mysticism will always lead to the rule of brutality. The cause of it is contained in the very nature of mysticism. Reason is the only objective means of communication and of understanding among men; when men deal with one another by means of reason, reality is their objective standard and frame of reference. But when men claim to possess supernatural means of knowledge, no persuasion, communication or understanding are possible. Why do we kill wild animals in the jungle? Because no other way of dealing with them is open to us. And that is the state to which mysticism reduces mankind—a state where, in case of disagreement, men have no recourse except to physical violence."I replied (dovetailing my last post the other day, It's a Madhouse):
It's true that mysticism reduces mankind to the state where disagreements can only (ultimately) be resolved with force and / or violence, but in our society the practical expression of mysticism is self-sacrifice, and I think this is the best starting point to understand the spread of psychosis in our world.
For many on the Religious Right, sacrifice takes a relatively simple form -- God, Country, Charity, etc. But generally, they kind of let you keep half your soul and half your happiness. That's enough to keep most (religious) people grounded enough in reality to survive.
The Left takes self-sacrifice more seriously, though. The root of this, I think, is that they are neurotically driven to seek any gospel that gains them moral superiority over others. Why they are so neurotically insecure about themselves is a different topic (it's much like a rat eating its own tail because it's both taught and reinforced in school and society), but I think the leitmotif of the Left culminates in a neurotic insecurity that becomes driven by the Creed of Self-sacrifice.
The pain of this neurotic self-doubt is compensated by only one thing: power lust. Their desire to control others is rationalized by projecting it through the demands of society, and the really scary part is their unadmitted desire for a dictator to rule them.
Morality, via self-sacrifice, is their kool-aid. The means to control people while inflating their own pseudo-self-esteem... moral superiority = higher perceived self-value. An illusion of self-worth created by the drug of self-sacrifice, because *anyone* can easily find ways to ask *others* to sacrifice. The method comes courtesy of Karl Marx, Immanuel Kant, and every religious huckster for the last 30,000 years of human existence.
The more they call for methods of self-sacrifice, the more superior they are, and the addication grows with the number of laws and lobbyists in Washington.
Psychologically, their neurosis leads them to seek out every form of self-sacrifice. Gun control, saving the whales, the planet, the furbish lousewort, sacrificing for racial equality via racism, sacrificing Western Civilization to every barbaric civilization (Islam or any random tribe of indians), even giving up any kind of food that is tasty in the name of any kind of diet that isn't (eg, vegetarianism), prohibiting any modern convenience in the name of technological abstinence -- or the technology that makes conveniences possible, like coal, oil, nuclear, in favor of any quackery that is more costly (wind, solar, etc). And the self-sacrifice is all couched as unchosen duties to thy neighbor, village, city, state, nation, planet, even your own body (don't eat salt!), which is treated as somehow not your own. Ad infinitum.
At the deepest level, they sacrifice reason and reality to any irrational notion they care to concoct out of thin air and turn into a cult or a fiscal policy or foreign policy or a university curriculum. But again, it's all unchosen duties and unchosen "responsibilities" (a word they prefer because it requires less self-examination and allows more equivocation between the chosen and the unchosen) because they want to sacrifice individual judgment, individual values, individual choices to the herd or to the worship of unhuman or inanimate objects.
In an important sense, the Left is that part of human civilization that never stopped worshipping bulls and figurines and sun-gods and other icons; they just reified them in the form of abstractions -- "society", "the planet", and most abstract of all, any floating, disconnected nothingness conceived by an ivory tower academic living off government subsistence, especially those ideas pertaining to human behavior, human psychology, human interactions. Though of course, today it goes far beyond that, right into the "hard" sciences. Any abstract nothingness is in the pantheon of their gods.
As Galt said, they worship the Zero, because that's the ultimate form of self-sacrifice. Zeroes worshipping every Zero, trying to claim a Zero is something because they worship it. Exhibit A: Barack Obama.
Gun control plays into all this, cause it's the sacrifice of innocent victims to armed killers, and the sacrifice of innocent citizens to the government. It nicely plays into their need to control people with a straitjacket of regulations and permissions. You didn't build that, but if you did, we'll tax you out of existence and take credit for it.
Sacrifice of the individual to society embraces most things the Left advocates, though the aberration of environmentalism took that concept a step further to advocate the sacrifice of the individual to even things outside society -- by anthropomorphizing the planet or nothingness (there have been calls to end the littering of space with our "junk").
There's nothing connected to reality in any major agenda of the Left. The only common theme is the unquestioned irrational pursuit of self-sacrifice. It's all insane, and it has to breed insanity. As Galt also said,"Death is the standard of your values, death is your chosen goal, and you have to keep running, since there is no escape from the pursuer who is out to destroy you or from the knowledge that that pursuer is yourself. Stop running, for once—there is no place to run—stand naked, as you dread to stand, but as I see you, and take a look at what you dared to call a moral code."To paraphrase, psychosis is the standard of their values, psychosis is their chosen goal... take a look at what they dare to call a moral ideal -- the creed of self-sacrifice.
Many people condemn them. Most people have no idea what they are.
Put it this way.... define "conspiracy."
Try. For many people, it's equivalent to any uncertain theory that seems too convoluted and implausible to be true. Much scientific work would fall under the definition most people hold for "conspiracy."
That is, for most people, if a speculation or conjecture conflicts with their established notions and isn't simple-mindedly self-evident or absolutely proven with "smoking gun" in-your-face evidence,then it may be dismissed out-of-hand and labeled a "conspiracy theory" to avoid further thought. A form of the fallacy of the "argument from incredulity" (my lack of imagination means I can dismiss you), which is a form of the argument from ignorance (the premise is false because you can't prove it ). (See also this or this.)
Here I would like to discuss the form of argumentum ad ignorantiam which I will label argumentum exconiuratiotheoria -- the argument from conspiracy theory.
This method -- the method of first checking to see if something sounds like a conspiracy theory -- is primarily a means of shutting down legitimate conjecture and rational examination. I emphasize "sounds like."
Speculation qualifies as a true conspiracy theory when at least one of two factors is present:
1.) There is either noevidence whatsoever for the speculation, which consists of arbitrary mental constructs; and
2.) When there is knownevidence which openly contradicts the speculation and which is being consciously evaded by the person(s) doing the speculation.
Technically, I might note, a conspiracy theory isn't a theory at all, since a legitimate theory doesn't contain the elements of (1) or (2) above.
There is also "Occam's Razor," -- the principle of using the least complex hypothesis to explain the known facts -- but too often this is used incorrectly to justify a form of evasion, since by ignoring enough facts and other complexity you can conveniently show that your simpler explanation for things must be the right one. Religious arguments come to mind.
The legitimate application of Occam's Razor is different. It lies in using the Razor to prioritize hypotheses being investigated -- and every hypothesis must try to explain the same body of facts -- that is, all the facts that are known. You start by investigating the least complex hypothesis first; if it fails to explain all the known facts, you dump it and move on to a different hypothesis, choosing the simplest of those other hypothesis. Loop and repeat. (When a hypothesis becomes proven, Occam's Razor no longer applies, because a proven hypothesis is the only one that can explain all the known facts.)
To my observation, people who like to condemn others as conspiracy theorists do it for a number of reasons. The honest ones want to advocate a rational method. The dishonest ones like the moral authority it grants them, and from that, a sense of intellectual superiority and power over others, which they attain by being smarter, wiser. "Keep your conspiracies to yourself" would summarize how the latter approach such things.
I will note: honest anti-conspirialists don't rush to condemn wild-eyed notions; they simply point out the facts that contradict a wild-eyed notion.
"We never make assertions, Miss Taggart," said Hugh Akston. "That is the moral crime peculiar to our enemies. We do not tell--we show. We do not claim--we prove. It is not your obedience that we seek to win, but your rational conviction. You have seen all the elements of our secret. The conclusion is now yours to draw--we can help you to name it, but not to accept it--the sight, the knowledge and the acceptance must be yours." (in Atlas Shrugged)There is a larger issue which most people miss: the logical fallacy of "jumping to conclusions" (hasty generalization, dicto simpliciter) often applies to both sides.
Sometimes there is insufficient evidence to formulate any theory at all. More precisely, when the possible explanations for the known facts are too great, the certainty of any speculation or hypothesis is too low to assert it. It becomes ridiculous to claim anything as an explanation without more facts.
A good example comes from medicine: you feel some stomach discomfort, accompanied by blurred vision, let's say. You go to an online medical database and conclude you've got one of 1000 possible conditions. Which is it? No way to know without more facts, and you pick the most dire one, brain cancer. It could be lack of sleep, but you choose the worst one to worry about.
This erroneous method of cognition is common even in the sciences. (For instance, in the "science" of global warming.)
The same fallacy often applies to many of the people who condemn conspiracy theorists. Even the more honest practitioners of the creed of Anti-Conspirializing often slip into the faux moral indignation of sneering at what they think is an unlikely "theory," hypothesis or speculation by resting on the laurels of mental laziness or social conformity or appeals to authority (argumentum ad verecundiam).
Typically, the anti-conspirialists live in their own unadmitted cloistered world of assumptions and prejudices -- limiting context, knowledge, facts or logical analysis to justify their assertions that "X" or "Y" is a conspiracy theory, they will exclude germane facts to defend their opinions. In some circles, this is known as the method of a self-licking ice cream cone.
For instance -- many people would consider it absurd "conspiracy theorizing" to suggest that Obama is deliberately trying to destroy the United States -- but that would be ignoring (deliberately and willfully) a massive body of context-- not merely his background, but that such destruction is the explicit ideology of Marx. (Thesis, anti-thesis, synthesis in Marxian theory means to tear everything down at the "anti-thesis" level of historical determinism; but for more evidence, you need simply read what all Marxists openly assert they intend to do.)
You point out Obama's Marxist roots, associates, ad infinitum, and they will claim he's not a communist, because no one could be that bad, so he must be a socialist. Or, he's not a socialist, because no American politician could be that bad, so he must be "pragmatic" with a concern for the poor. Whatever.
You point out that all his friends and family and associates are communists, and they'll say communism has never been practiced before, because the failures of the Soviet Union, Mao, Castro, Khmer Rouge prove it wasn't communism, because by definition communism is successful. (These last are the least honest -- this is how communists will answer you before condemning your conspiracy theories.)
Among the more honest who condemn conspiracy theorists (which is more interesting) a social standard is often at work. "It can't be true because most people don't hold that." (On facebook, most often in the form, "it can't be true because Snopes says it's not true.") "It can't be true because I haven't read it yet in a reputable forum or newspaper." "It can't be true because I haven't heard it from an authority or expert." (Global warming advocates love this approach, and explicitly manipulate it.)
Sometimes the standard isn't social but psychological: "It can't be true because it would upset my world-view."
An example of that last one would be: "Voter fraud can't be rampant in the United States because I want to believe we have an honest system of democratic government." But it might also be relevant to a belief in God, or the idea that the government is here to help.
Sometimes the standard isn't social or psychological, but motivational: "It can't be true because it would require a hell of a lot of work on my part to prove it's not true."
These cases of "more honest" people are typically about people who are mentally lazy or evading at a deeper level of psychology -- hence my scare quotes around the phrase "more honest."
Not all speculation is a conspiracy theory, and speculation is not a dirty word -- it's a word that exists for a reason: it's the starting point for explaining anything. It's one of the starting points for any reasoning process that is about forming propositions to explain some body of facts. Not the ending point, the starting point.
An honest person sees facts that have no explanation, and formulates an idea, a speculation about the cause. A rational person keeps his mind open to facts that would disprove or support an unproven speculation, and amends his speculations to account for them -- but especially to facts that might disprove his hypothesis, at least in the early stages of validation, because disproof by the law of non-contradiction is much easier than proving something.
At some point, there may accumulate a sufficient body of evidence to raise a speculation to the level of a formal, precise hypothesis, but the search for new facts continues as before. There is no change in the method, only in the degree of precision of the hypothesis.
As long as (1) or (2) aren't violated, at no time does an unproven hypothesis qualify as a conspiracy theory. It's -- a hypothesis. There's a reason this word exists. It describes a stage in the formulation of any proposition along the path from speculation to tentative hypothesis to unproven theory to fully proven theory.
A note on history: Some people try to claim that there never has been a conspiracy in history that was proven. They cherry-pick their "evidence" (to the extent they have any at all), and show there are no conspiracies to manipulate the price of commodities, or of aliens, or of whatever -- always easy cases to make, or cases that are too complex to easily disprove.
But conspiracies do exist -- there is a reason the word exists.
I return to my first question: what is a "conspiracy"? Definitions vary, but generally, it's a secret plan by a group of people to accomplish some end which is often unlawful or harmful, or to advance their interests.
Would a corporate marketing strategy qualify? Most corporations conceal their plans from competitors. It's done by a group of people in secret. You might say it's lawful -- so it's not a conspiracy. Borderline case.
Would a mass movement like global warming apply? That is, a movement to impose strict sanctions on the use of oil and coal and other hydrocarbons? It's done out in the open -- but it distorts facts and many of the leading proponents conceal their ultimate ends, including the destruction of industrial civilization. It's legal -- but I think it qualifies as a conspiracy because of the concealment and the destructive ends.
Would the spread of Islamic theology and jihad apply? Definitely: the spread of shariah and the methods employed, however explicitly layed-out in the Koran and Hadith, are still secret to most gullible Westerners who know nothing of the methods of Islam (and who don't want to know) -- the proponents count on that. (All you have to do is watch Memri TV to see how news is manipulated in the Islamic world, depending on whether you listen in English or in Arabic.)
Would the intelligence operations of any nation qualify? Well, it's outside the law (being the action of one nation against others), but I think it might qualify as a conspiracy because of the secretiveness, but especially when there is a destructive aspect, as it did with the old Soviet Union.
The Soviets were masters of conspiracies (see, for instance, this blog post of mine), and so were their willing puppets, the communist internationale writ large. The Soviets, according to many defectors, ex-pats and citizens of the former Easter Bloc, had all sorts of conspiracies to manipulate, direct and take over entire governments in Europe or the world over. (The U.S., maybe?) But of course we know of the many spies they did put in place around the world.
Conspiracies exist -- it's a fact. Some ends can't be accomplished except in secret. Some enemies can't be conquered -- except by concealing means and ends.
But the historical part is this: the term "conspiracy theory" didn't become widely used till after the Congressional hearings in the late forties to expose communists in the United States, during the HUAC hearings. In response, the communists concocted a brilliant conspiracy to counter future hearings -- they demonized anyone who suspected their conspiracies... by calling them conspiracy theorists. I note that it follows a method condemned by Ayn Rand:
"There is a certain type of argument which, in fact, is not an argument, but a means of forestalling debate and extorting an opponent’s agreement with one’s undiscussed notions. It is a method of bypassing logic by means of psychological pressure... [It] consists of threatening to impeach an opponent’s character by means of his argument, thus impeaching the argument without debate. Example: “Only the immoral can fail to see that Candidate X’s argument is false.” . . . The falsehood of his argument is asserted arbitrarily and offered as proof of his immorality.
"In today’s epistemological jungle, that second method is used more frequently than any other type of irrational argument. It should be classified as a logical fallacy and may be designated as The Argument from Intimidation:
The essential characteristic of the Argument from Intimidation is its appeal to moral self-doubt and its reliance on the fear, guilt or ignorance of the victim. It is used in the form of an ultimatum demanding that the victim renounce a given idea without discussion, under threat of being considered morally unworthy. The pattern is always: “Only those who are evil (dishonest, heartless, insensitive, ignorant, etc.) can hold such an idea.”
...The tone is usually one of scornful or belligerent incredulity. “Surely you are not an advocate of capitalism, are you?” And if this does not intimidate the prospective victim—who answers, properly: “I am,”—the ensuing dialogue goes something like this: “Oh, you couldn’t be! Not really!” “Really.” “But everybody knows that capitalism is outdated!” “I don’t.” “Oh, come now!” “Since I don’t know it, will you please tell me the reasons for thinking that capitalism is outdated?” “Oh, don’t be ridiculous!” “Will you tell me the reasons?” “Well, really, if you don’t know, I couldn’t possibly tell you!”
All this is accompanied by raised eyebrows, wide-eyed stares, shrugs, grunts, snickers and the entire arsenal of nonverbal signals communicating ominous innuendoes and emotional vibrations of a single kind: disapproval.
If those vibrations fail, if such debaters are challenged, one finds that they have no arguments, no evidence, no proof, no reasons, no ground to stand on—that their noisy aggressiveness serves to hide a vacuum—that the Argument from Intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence.
...Let me emphasize that the Argument from Intimidation does not consist of introducing moral judgment into intellectual issues, but of substituting moral judgment for intellectual argument. Moral evaluations are implicit in most intellectual issues; it is not merely permissible, but mandatory to pass moral judgment when and where appropriate; to suppress such judgment is an act of moral cowardice. But a moral judgment must always follow, not precede (or supersede), the reasons on which it is based.
(In her collection of essays, The Virtue of Selfishness)In the case of rushing to condemn someone as a conspiracy theorist -- without factual evidence or logical arguments -- the same method serves to make someone look smarter, wiser, more knowledgable, less gullible, less wild-eyed in a simple stroke -- hence the appeal of the term to many people. It's an excuse not to think too hard to refute someone, and to distance themselves quickly from someone who might destroy one's social standing as a keeper of the faith -- any faith. Faith in God, faith in Democracy, faith in "accepted" scientific theories, you name it.
That is the legacy we have today -- a term and a method of fallacious argumentation that preserves the canons of the norm and the gospel of the gullible while destroying anyone else's capacity to speculate about new ideas or potential dangers (and any new idea is a potential danger to the advocates of the status quo) -- while the obscurantists, Marxists, environmentalists, Islamists and irrationalists destroy the remnants of our way of life. But hey, that's all just a conspiracy theory.
Rolling Stone provides a typical faux-analysis that makes excuses and doesn't address real causes for the allure of Islamic fundamentalism to creatures like the Boston Bombers. To trace out all the tortured paths pulling people not born into it into a nihilistic religion of mass psychosis would require a book, but fundamentally, the appeal of Islam is to those who seek power over others.
Why power? Because the people Islam attracts are neurotically (and in many cases, psychotically) self-doubting and self-loathing. Power over others is a path to pseudo-self-esteem -- the illusion that they are better, more able, more worthy of living because they can control others, inspire fear in them, kill them, enslave them. More powerful.
This compensates for an intense, and usually well-earned metaphysical inadequacy -- an Islamist or wannabe is at root unfit to live in reality, a congenital incompetent.
At some level, they know it: it is to this psychological substrate of individual self-loathing that the sophistry of cultural self-loathing makes its appeal -- offering the Islamist candidate the opportunity to wallow in all the flaws alleged or real of the Western society he lives in, without any balance of all the immense good of Western culture over all others, giving him the convenient scapegoat of a bunch of amoral sinners for all his personal problems -- provided on a poison-coated silver platter by the post-modern cult of phony toleration and illusory coexistence.
This is what breeds monsters operating under the veneer of the "religion of peace" -- in the West, at least.
There are deeper causes, layers and layers of them. Most fundamental of all are generations of intellectuals -- especially philosophers and theologians -- who concocted massive rationalizations for even more massively irrational ideas -- the insignificance of the individual in existence, or the inefficacy of his mind to help in his struggle to exist, via schools that poison his mind with that irrationality and much more, brainwashing him to follow twisted paths of convoluted pseudo-reasoning, and leaving only knots of confusion, inadequacy, self-doubt, chronic fear and frustration whenever he gropes to think, a metastatic twine ball made of the detonation cord of hatred for anyone and anything he sees as the scapegoats for his tortured efforts to think.
Out of such Frankensteinian bits and pieces do you stitch together a mindless killer and a destroyer.
And then there is Islam, in the shadows, whispering that he's right -- that all his fears are someone else's fault, and offering him the moral rectitude and the power and the reward of 72 virgins in an alternate reality to put things right with a bomb or a gun or an airplane.
The same psychological process of corruption takes place with Marxism, with this interesting variant: where Islam appeals to those who want to shut off their minds, communists (the most dangerous variant of Marxist) appeals to those with megalomaniacal tendencies of alleged superior intelligence -- a different rationalization for the same root disease: feelings of metaphysical incompetence, and the same object: the desire to rule and destroy to prove otherwise.
Except the committed Marxist who believes he is smarter than anyone else aims to achieve rule using somewhat different means -- ie, faux-intellectuality and twisted conspiracies. The end is the same though: absolute rule and death and destruction.
Then we come to Barack Obama -- a communist and a promoter of Islam. QED.
I've always known that the "racism" charge has been an especially pernicious means of promoting the agenda of the Left by disarming people today (not just white) with intense guilt... for things that some other guys did a century and a half ago. But as much as Obama cashed in on it, I thought the scam of its cachet was definitely on a rapid decline.... till Mandela died.
Then I saw an enormous number of people -- not everyone, but way too many -- on the Right (whatever the hell that means anymore), including even more than a few alleged admirers of Ayn Rand, who were jumping on the bandwagon that rationalized -- sometimes in the most egregious ways -- Mandela's lifelong Stalinist communism and murders, as if he was the "great savior" of the incredible evils of South African apartheid -- as if they were worse than, say, Stalin's murder of 10 million Ukrainian farmers, or Pol Pot's murder of 3 million Cambodians, or Mao's murders of 10's of millions of Chinese during the Cultural Revolution, or Castro's destruction of Cuba and summary executions of opponents, or.....
You get the picture. Context-dropping on an epic, planetary scale, from otherwise rational people, from my observation. People willing to claim they don't know nuthin' about Mandela, so hey, let's give the guy the benefit of the doubt, ya know? He just died. Show a little respect.
Or people who cast about with a 5 minute search on Wikipedia and come up with a page doubtless written by Mandela's commie supporters -- but don't bother to check for that (too much work or not enough imagination) -- which engages in wholesale historical revisionism, offering a convenient buy-in to the storyline (and I do mean storyline, one Hollywood could be proud of) promoting the fable that all his years in jail made Mandela a changed man!!
Praise the Lord. Mandela, I'm supposed to hallucinate, saw the light and had renounced his commie ways before he died. Forget the thousands who died because of him. Let's all hail Saint Nelson for saving the world from SOUTH AFRICAN APARTHEID... you know, not slavery, of course, just discrimination here and there. Not captives in a totalitarian state, you know, cause anyone who didn't like it could board an airplane or boat and leave any time they wanted, rather than getting machine-gunned to death crossing the no-man's-land of an East German-like border.
I mean, we're supposed to believe he renounced his commie ways, even if, you know, he didn't renounce his commie wife and commie friends, or chosen commie replacement who openly sings about machine-gunning to death every white in South Africa. Someone must have slipped an old East German mickey or Heinrich in on him.
I see only one explanation for this mass psychosis: the post-modern disease of unearned racial guilt still lives on as viral as ever. In their quest to prove to everyone that they oppose racism, they rationalize... communism, the greatest mass killer ideology in the history of mankind.
You see, to them, racism that was the South African variety of discrimination here or there was obviously far more evil than communism of the, you know -- ten's of millions dead here or there and everyone enslaved from birth to grave.
Brilliant analysis. But tell that to the people of North Korea.
Hey, crappy wages and separate seating areas was clearly worse than anything that goes on in the Middle East today, like Saudi Arabia, which still has slave bazaars, still castrates men into more obedient eunuchs after years of good service as child-prostitutes for sheiks, still stones women to death for "dishonoring" their families by having.... a boyfriend or looking too revealing (maybe).
Well, you can judge a man by his priorities.
In any case, as flags across the U.S. obediently drop to half-mast on the order of Saint Obama, in remembrance of Saint Mandela, while everyone solemnly rubs blue mud in their belly buttons to demonstrate their sanctimonious disdain for racism the world over, the historical revisionists score another field goal and communists advance with the ball, based on nothing more than an opposing team that is too shackled with unearned guilt to try to stop them, too intellectually arrested to ask questions or seek sufficient knowledge to recognize the enemy, too obsessed with proving their moral righteousness to deflect charges of guilt or racial insensitivity, too ready to take on the burdens of evils done a couple centuries ago.
On such basis, or lack thereof, so goes the world.
(P.S.: Some have criticized me for understating the wrongs of apartheid, but my point was deliberate: to make people think about the sheer magnitude of the evil many are sanctioning -- communism -- in praising Mandela for "doing some good". One does not fight a lesser evil with a greater evil. Mandela did no good at all. He was a Stalinist who caused the murders of many people, in the name of enslaving an entire country and murdering many, many more. South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world since his ascendancy, and its economy is in shambles. It will get much, much worse before it gets better there.
One must note: the Left is trying to deify Mandela, and the defication has exactly one purpose: to promote communism. The agenda is that simple. And those suckers who fall for the trap are aiding and abetting untold future horror for the planet, unless the trend is reversed. )
Sub-headline: "And the Surrender of Western Civilization to Barbarism."
This news story caught my eye because it's so preposterous, but then I asked why this story is coming out right now. It's promoting the old KGB psyop from the 70's that started the whole global warming scam -- global cooling from a nuclear war would destroy planet. I had to ask myself why? and why now?
In the 70's, the psychological operation to scare the bejeezus out of the West was intended to promote nuclear disarmament by the West. When the science didn't fly and no unilateral disarmament was forthcoming, even under the administration of the socialist buffoon Jimmy Carter, the USSR morphed the scam into global *warming* by fossil fuels, selling it to the gullible green movement, as a means of crippling the U.S. economy (thereby to cripple funding for defense). People bought it, hook, line and sinker.
But now we are brought full circle:
DENVER (CBS4) – With an estimated 17,000 nuclear weapons in the world... Even a relatively small regional nuclear war, like a conflict between India and Pakistan, could spark a global environmental catastrophe, says a new study.
...Firestorms would belch over 5 million tons of ash into the sky. "The ash would absorb the sun’s rays, causing deadly cooling on the surface.
Global temperatures would plummet my nearly 3 degrees Farenheit on average, with most of North America experiencing winters that would be colder by 4 to 10 degrees. Lethal frosts would cover the Earth and reduce the growing seasons bu about a month for several years."So you see... global cooling once again. To scare us. It's preposterous because one single volcanic eruption can belch more ash into the sky than 17,000 nuclear weapons, but they're using those same "simulations" that have failed to correctly predict global warming.
In 2009 I wrote (not the first time) about Obama's real agenda: unilateral disarmament of the United States nuclear deterrent. This CBS story, coming out at this time, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, near where I live, strikes me as being of *high* probability as preparing the public for Obama's first strike on our nuclear arsenal. The timing is right, and I'd bet the authors have a connection through the communist internationale back to the White House.
As I wrote in April 11, 2009 ("The Next Phase in Obama's Rush Towards Unilateral Disarmament"),
"First Obama announces in Prague his goal of unilateral nuclear disarmament. Now, as part of arms control negotiations, he is nominating someone who wants the U.S. to eliminate our conventional arms, as well."...Obama has steadily been doing both for 6 years. The new START treaty signed in his first year in office mandated 30% cuts in our nuclear deterrent while allowing the Russians to increase and modernize their deterrent. He has eliminated almost every new weapons modernization program we have, and is unilaterally eliminating one squadron of our ICBMs (on his word only, mind you), and is in the process of reducing our army and navy to the lowest levels since before World War 2.
I have predicted that he will order the elimination of the entire U.S. nuclear deterrent. This is his raison d'etre -- his reason for being in that job. His *only* reason. I have said you can predict his every action based on what Putin wants. "Tell Vladimir I will have more flexibility after the election", he told Russian President Medvedev, as caught on an open mike.
This is not a statement of a man loyal the the U.S. This is the statement of a man dedicated to destroying the U.S. This is the statement of a fifth columnist, a man planted in that job by the enemy.
So my prediction once again: this CBS story is to scare and prepare the public for Obama's announcement that he intends to unilaterally eliminate the entire U.S. nuclear deterrent as a threat to the planet. Stay tuned. More is coming.