Socialism’s basic premise is that the value of anyone’s life is found only its contribution to the social good. No individual life has value in and of itself.
–Commenter Pat Frank, at What’s Up With That
"It is not worth the while to go round the world to count the cats in Zanzibar" – Henry David Thoreau
Socialism’s basic premise is that the value of anyone’s life is found only its contribution to the social good. No individual life has value in and of itself.
–Commenter Pat Frank, at What’s Up With That
Paul added the following comment to his original posting, and requested that it be posted. Happy to oblige. Minor editing to original (typo fixed, unnecessary break in exposition removed); Categories added. –Julie
[Original: Comment to "Bacon, Hobbes and a Coke Anyone?" by Paul Marks
November 2, 2015 at 7:51 pm]
Bentham gets worse over time. He starts off horrified by the violence the American War of Independence and (more) the French Revolution – he then draws the wrong conclusion that talk of “rights” and “natural law” is the cause of this violence (and can not even seem to tell the difference between the private property based American Revolution and the collectivist, Rousseau style, French Revolution) .
Bentham then decided to throw the baby out with the bath water – by rejecting any of natural rights (“nonsense on stilts”) or natural law, just accepting the Hobbesian Positivist definition of law as just the will of the ruler of rulers (despotism – tyranny).
But Bentham remains, sort of, free market for awhile – in that he wants the state to have absolute power (no natural rights or natural law either) but NOT use it much. But then he comes up with more and more statist ideas – ending in the 13 Departments of state that he hoped would control just about everything in a despotism that would have made the Ottoman Empire blush.
But Bentham is not an isolated example – this follower of Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes is the master of the Bowood Circle and the “Westminster Review” crowd. People such as James Mill and his son John Stewart Mill.
The new “liberalism” of endless attacks on the Crown (part of what Bentham claimed to be defending against the French Revolution), endless attacks against the Church of England (the Anglican Church) “Tory” people (many of whom were actually Old Whigs such as Edmund Burke) and so on.
Notice the TRICK (and it is a trick) – freedom has gone from wanting the state to be limited, to wanting “freedom from tradition” and “freedom from God” (“free” thinking as automatic atheism) and the desire for a NEW STATE.
A professional civil service (not people appointed by minister) controlled by “scientific” experts – as with Francis Bacon’s “The New Atlantis”.
An elected government with the vote for everyone – but the elections to be essentially FAKE, as the professional “experts” (people like James Mill and J.S. Mill) would really control everything regardless of who won the election – via a professional Civil Service and “education”.
And the land owners?
The people who the Old Whigs had rightly understood to be the foundation of liberty against the danger of an all mighty state.
The Westminster Review crowd Bentham’s bastard “liberal” children HATED the land owners as the “landed interest” – they wanted “free trade in land”, presented as the end of entails and so on, but really a Trojan Horse for land nationalisation.
For the domination of the STATE over land – as with the Ottoman Empire (and justified by the economics of David Ricardo – refuted by Frank Fetter).
This is the “little” secret behind the “liberalism” of Bentham and the Mills.
It is a “democratic” door way into the all mighty state of the Ottoman Empire – but without Islam.
Instead of Allah it is the state (the “scientific” “liberal” state) that would be worshipped – as long as it was controlled by “enlightened” experts (themselves) serving “the greatest good of the greatest number”.
Yes the above is unfair to the Mills – they (especially J.S. Mill) did have a real believe in freedom of speech and so on.
But they have no philosophy to back it up their belief in freedom of speech – the attempt to of J.S. Mill to reconcile his (sincere) belief in Freedom of Speech with his support for the unlimited New State (with an end to the “landed interest” and so on) is a terrible failure.
It is not “just” a lack of faith in God – it is the lack of any faith in any higher law (one can believe in natural justice without believing in God). Legal Positivism – the idea that the state has no foundational limits and that “law” is just the will of the ruler or rulers.
That is at the heart of the new “liberalism” – and it is what Mill (and modern “liberals”) get from Bentham, and he got from Thomas Bacon and Francis Bacon.
And Bentham (where ever you are) please note – this Legal Positivism is at the heart of the French Revolution you said you opposed.
Rousseau is not so different from Hobbes as people imagine – indeed they share fundamental principles.
The King (or rather despot) of Hobbes is like the “Lawgiver” or “the people” of Rousseau – there are no limits on their power.
The land of the Church (or individuals) can be looted by such a state and given to anyone they feel like giving it to.
Edmund Burke was correct – the “freedom” of the French Revolution was just old slavery in disguise.
The French Revolutionary regime was much the same as the despotism of the Ottoman Empire.
And so is an aspect (a side) of the new “liberalism” today.
And note this:
Religion is not actually the key point here.
For example Martin Luther was sincerely religious – but he embraced determinist philosophy and collectivist politics.
The Anglican position is (or was) fundamentally different – due to the influence of Richard Hooker and others.
And Ayn Rand was a passionate atheist (a mocker of silly religious people – people like me).
Yet Rand was also a passionate defender of humans as beings (agents – not the flesh robots of Martin Luther and Thomas Hobbes) and of natural justice.
This is arguably one of the more bizarre stories I have read. Ever.
A small Jewish ultra-Orthodox newspaper in Israel has found itself in the spotlight after digitally removing Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel from a photo of this week’s Paris march.
World leaders had linked arms to march in Paris against terrorism after Islamic extremists killed 17 people. At the march, Merkel stood in the front row between the French president, François Hollande, and Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.
But readers of the Hamevaser newspaper’s Monday edition didn’t know, as she had been digitally removed, leaving Abbas standing next to Hollande. Israeli media joked it was meant to bring Abbas closer to Israeli premier Binyamin Netanyahu, who was standing nearby.
And why? Why? because of XX-phobia. Seriously. They also took-out the EU foreign affairs supremo and the Mayor of Paris.
Within the insular ultra-Orthodox community, pictures of women are rarely shown, due to modesty concerns. In Jerusalem, ultra-Orthodox vandals frequently deface buses and billboards with advertising deemed to be immodest.
Now if Chancellor Merkel had been strutting her stuff in a sling-shot bikini and heels and nowt else then OK but this is the original photo…
Now I’m no fashionista but that is a modestly dressed woman. And she is also the German Chancellor so she ought to be there. God knows what Abbas was doing there but France and Germany are best buddies these days (thanks for small mercis – I mean we don’t want to go through all of that yet again).
Binyamin Lipkin, editor of Hamevaser, said the newspaper is a family publication that must be suitable for all audiences, including young children.
“The eight-year-old can’t see what I don’t want him to see,” he told Israel’s Channel 10 television station. “True, a picture of Angela Merkel should not ruin the child, but if I draw a line, I have to put it there from the bottom all the way to the top.”
He also said he did not want to tarnish the memories of the people killed in the attacks.
“Including a picture of a woman into something so sacred, as far as we are concerned, it can desecrate the memory of the martyrs and not the other way around,” he said.
I am lost. There is no way anyone could take that image as sexually provocative (I assume that was this loon’s point). I mean it ain’t Miley Cyrus. And in terms of the “family paper” schtick don’t families tend to have female members? Call me old-fashioned but I female relatives. I don’t think that unusual. And what the flying hellskis is the desecration stuff about? These people weren’t martyrs. They were just unlucky by and large. Could have been me, could have been you. This site has republished the Motoons of Doom. And in what way Chancellor Merkel takes away from the loss is beyond me. Also one of the dead was a female French cop. If anyone was a martyr she was dying in the line and all.
But this is only sort of about sexism. I mean it is but there is more. The massacre was about freedom of the press and an Israeli paper chooses to Photoshop inconvenient truths like the sex of the German Chancellor out. OK, fine print what you want but don’t doctor photos and then go on about martyrs for press freedom.
Or is it just plain sexism and they object to a female heading a major nation? Is it that simple? Get over it. We did with Maggie when I was a little kid.
What century are these folk in? I mean really? Moshe Dayan fought for this?
PS. And as someone from a culturally Christian background the idea that an image of a woman is a desecration is just weird.
The Republic of Venice, like some other Italian States, was in contact with the Greek (Byzantine) Empire to the east, where Ancient Greek learning was preserved, from the most early days – contact was never lost in the Dark Ages. And the other states of Europe were in close contact with the Republic of Venice and the other Italian states. Yet the education system teaches that Greek learning came only from Islamic Spain. Is this theory really true?
Did, for example, thinkers in the British Isles such as the Irish thinkers from the 5th (indeed reaching back to Patrick and Pelagius [yes Pelagius, that free will scholar of Greek and possibly Hebrew, - of course I would drag him into it] of Roman Britain) century to the 9th century (before old Ireland was destroyed by the Vikings), or the English thinkers of the 12th century and so on (not just Roger Bacon there were other great Greek scholars and scientific thinkers also), really get their knowledge of Greek from Islamic Spain? Of course both the Greek Orthodox Church and the old Irish Celtic Church are not known for the delight in the predestination of Augustine – even if philosopher theologians do strange twisted gymnastics to try and reconcile predestination and moral responsibility (the reality of choice – of the existence of the human agent). Just as Judaism has always rejected predestination (unlike mainstream Islam) and stood for individual moral responsibility – the reality of choice, of the human person.
In almost every case the Reformation of the 16th century led to a Church that was committed to Predestination and was a department of State – after all Predestination was the central doctrine of Martin Luther and John Calvin (they both HATED freedom and reason), and Luther taught that the State should control the State and Calvin taught that the Church should control the State – the autonomy of Church and State was utterly alien to both these thinkers. In England it led, by the 18th century, to a Church that was far MORE in favour of moral responsibility, free will, (hostile to Predestination and so on) than the Roman Catholic Church was, and to a Church that was largely part of the landed interest (backed by local patrons and so on as well as being a, largely, independent landowner itself) rather than being a department of state – an “Established Church” rather than a “State Church”. A Church that was theologically and socially radically different from the rest of Protestant Europe. Why?
Even in the 16th century someone like Richard Hooker (the three legged stool – scripture, tradition, and REASON) seems distinctly English – distinctly “Anglican” (a possible misuse of language – but I hope you get my point), by the 17th century philosopher theologians such as Henry Moore and Ralph Cudworth, perhaps the greatest Greek and Hebrew scholar of his age, are quite acceptable in England, but would have seemed radially alien in the Protestant nations of Europe (and in the centralised Counter Reformation Catholic world) – with the possible exception of the minority tradition in Holland, the Arminian tradition (and remember it was the MINORITY tradition in Holland).
Why was England so weird in its Church development? Unlike both Catholic Europe and Protestant Europe.
I have asked these questions before – but just received utterly irrelevant answers such as “Ralph Cudworth believed in witchcraft”, yes he did (so did the great Common Law thinkers Hales and Selden), but why did the Church in England (both Anglican such as Granville Sharpe and William Wilberforce and Dissenting such as Richard Price [but also his Anglican political opponent Edmund Burke] – or a bit of both such as John Wesley) contain so many people, such as Cudworth and Moore and….., who believed in religious toleration and moral responsibility, free will – hostile to predestination. Why did the English Church turn out, in the main, so differently from the rest of Europe?
So was there no movement of Greek learning from the Byzantine Empire directly to the states of Italy? Was it all via Islamic Spain? Even though Venice was technically part of the Eastern Empire itself? The “Islamic Spain is what matters” idea seems like a unlikely theory. But I am willing to be corrected.
And why did the Church in England, certainly by the 18th century, turn out so different from both Protestant and Catholic Europe? I suspect that the answer to this question is the key to the different POLITICAL development of this land in the late 17th century and the 18th century, compared to the rest of Europe.
The often attacked British press is, in reality, one of the glories of this country. In the United States the normal pattern is for there to be a single dominate newspaper in a town or city and for it to reflect the “liberal” left ideology of the education system (the “Schools of Journalism” and so on) – with, by and large, the only choices being to read the leftist line, presented as “objective, scientific, journalism” or read no newspaper. There is the New York Post, which gives an alternative view of New York and other matters, and the financial and business newspaper the Wall Street Journal (both owned by Rupert Murdoch – which is why the totalitarian left hate him, as he is basically all that stands in their way of gaining a leftist monopoly in the press), but there is little other dissent. Just as on television basically the only dissent from the leftist line is “Fox News” (also owned by Mr Murdoch) with all other television stations reflecting the leftist line.
In the United Kingdom things are very different. There are many newspapers on the left – such as the “I” and the “Independent” and the “Guardian” and the “Daily Mirror” and the “Financial Times” (anyone who thinks a financial and business newspaper can not be on the left has never met the “FT”), but there are also many newspapers on the “right” (in the conservative or old style liberal sense – not the socialist Fascist sense) – such as the “Daily Telegraph”, the “Express”, the “Daily Mail” and the “Sun”. However, annoying the press may be at times this diversity in the press is one of the glories of this country and people who hate it are like people who hate the Queen or Winston Churchill – they really hate Britain.
The left, at least the totalitarian left, seek constantly to destroy the free press in the United Kingdom. For example with the financial backing of, son of Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, Max Mosley (who won a libel case against being accused of being involved in a Nazi themed prostitute event – although he was involved in a Nazi themed prostitute event, work-that-one-out), the left ran a campaign against the newspapers. The left also used a claim in the Guardian newspaper that employees of the Sun newspaper had deleted messages on a murdered girl’s mobile telephone (a claim that turned out to be FALSE – they did “hack” the telephone, in the hope of getting information that would help them crack the case, but they did NOT delete any messages) to get Prime Minister Cameron’s government to impose some censorship on the press. “Hacking” mobile telephones was already illegal (and was done at least as much by Daily Mirror people as by Sun people – but the left does not care about that), and the new censorship rules will not make “hacking” any more illegal – but the left’s objective is censorship, the case of the murdered little girl was just a means-to-an-end to the totalitarian left. And Mr Cameron went along with some of what they wanted (partly because he was embarrassed at employing a person who had once been involved in telephone “hacking” himself) – and he should be ashamed of that.
It should be pointed out that the “Sun” and the, now closed down,”News of the World” are-were Rupert Murdoch newspapers. The leftist campaign against them was nothing to do with them “hacking” telephones more than the leftist “Daily Mirror” people did (they did not “hack” more than Daily Mirror people did) – it was a way of attacking Mr Murdoch, whom (as I have already pointed out) the left see as the main barrier in their way of creating a leftist monopoly in the media of the United States – yes the campaign in Britain was really, in part, about the United States.
However, evil never sleeps and the left have moved on. Far left activist groups have now pushed the management of Waitrose and Tesco supermarkets to physically cover up newspapers.
What exactly has the Tesco chain of supermarkets agreed to do? They have agreed to cover up all but the titles of newspapers that are on sale. The totalitarian leftist activist groups have claimed this will “protect” children (it is always “the children”) from seeing bare breasts. However, women with no tops on are a tradition of page THREE of the Sun newspaper – not the front page, there are no bare breasts on the front page (although there are bare breasts on show in art galleries – no doubt the totalitarian left will now try and get paintings and statues banned, at least if “the children” are their real concern……..).
The cat is let out of the bag by the boasts from the totalitarian left of getting “offensive” headlines covered up – not “just” photographs, HEADLINES.
This makes it clear what this campaign is really about – it is about suppressing, literally “covering up”, any OPINION the left does not like. It is the same sort of thing as the Frankfurt School of Marxism “Political Correctness” or “Critical Theory” that now dominates the education system – turning students into brainwashed zombies who will not tolerate any non “Progressive” opinions.
The evil groups behind the censorship of the press campaign are tiny – organisations such as “Child’s Eyes” and “Stop Page Three” have few members, they could not win any elections. But they do not have to enforce their totalitarian desires by winning elections – not when they are dealing with spineless cowards.
Tesco supermarkets, like so many corporations, is a bureaucracy without any real powerful individual share owners any more. The hired managers are responsible to other hired managers (at Pension Funds and so on – institutional share owners) and they basically want a “quiet life” – they have no passion for what they do, and they have no courage, no principles for which they will risk their jobs. Besides they are mostly ex university students – with all the leftist indoctrination (brainwashing) that a modern school and university “education” implies.
These hired managers at Tesco face ruthless leftist fanatics – who are prepared to do anything, anything at all, to enforce their desire for censorship, so the easy thing to do is to SUBMIT. And, besides, with their “educated” background a lot of the managers half agree with the leftist fanatics – with the totalitarian bullyboy (and bullygirl) censors.
It is difficult not to despair.
There is an industry which concerns itself with helping to create these when Mother Nature isn’t quite doing her job. But it needs to be regulated, you know. It really does. Even Mr. Wesley J. Smith, of whom more below, says so, though he otherwise disagrees with Ms. Cristina Richie, whose views are our topic today. (The gentleman’s remark rather sounds as though he approves of “regulation,” and disapproves of its lack, on principle.)
Anyway, it turns out that Carbon Legacies, even when naturally occurring, are not an unmitigated good. Indeed, one might question whether they are a Good Thing at all, even as others are delighted with theirs, or with the prospects of acquiring such.
Here is the abstract of an article from the Journal of Medical Ethics by Cristina Richie, Theology Department, Boston College, which argues that since every human “emits carbon” into the environment,
Evaluating the ethics of offering reproductive services against its overall harm to the environment makes unregulated ARTs unjustified….
“ART” stands for “Assisted Reproductive Technology.” It includes such things as fertilization in vitro and artificial insemination, as well as methods of having babies where the child might be born with AIDS, surrogate pregnancy, and more.
(WikiFootia has a good overview.)
From Ms. Richie’s article:
A carbon footprint is the aggregate of resource use and carbon emissions over a person’s life. A carbon legacy occurs when a person chooses to procreate. All people have carbon footprints; only people with biological children have carbon legacies.
(I have had some non-biological “children,” but only in a figurative sense, such as patterns of words set down on paper or sent into cyberspace. But it seems to me that actual non-biological children are probably rather rare.)
Now ask me what I think. C’mon, you know you want to! *g* Well, lest the multitude of Kounting Kitties hereabouts get to yowling from the suspense….
Views in which “the environment” is seen as of higher moral value than human beings as such — whether conceived in delight or after a fight, or both, or neither — are perverse in the strongest and most serious sense of the word. (Compact OED, Print Ed., 1971, = 1933 OED plus addenda, gives various definitions, several of which boil down to “turning away from right to wrong.”) To me, the word has a connotation of DELIGHT in turning from right to wrong, and a deliberate inversion of right and wrong, so that the evil is embraced as good and the good, as evil.
All I can say is, I place a very high value on my own personal Carbon Legacy, who in early middle age continues to provide joy, light, and warmth to my life. Besides, this person grows houseplants and, in summer, tomatoes and peppers, so I figure that offsets the inevitable “emission of carbon.” (Whatever does Ms. Richie think that means? There’s a huge variety of carbon-containing molecules that are “emitted” by a huge variety of sources, most of them “natural.”) Personally I think that once we’ve gotten fluorine out of the way by banning it (per a suggestion by some doofus over here), we should simply ban carbon. That would solve everything. At least from the human point of view, which would no longer exist.
. . .
I will let Mr. Wesley J. Smith, of LifeNews.com, have the last word. He has a piece on this entitled “Population Controllers Call Babies ‘Carbon Legacies,’ a Threat to the Environment.” Per Mr. Smith:
And Jesus said, ‘Suffer the little carbon legacies to come onto me’….
I don’t really follow mainstream politics these days. So many of the big issues are not debated. Should our health provision be nationalised? Should we privatise schools? How come only the government substantially owns roads? Why is our currency fiat,? What is the point of a central bank? Will Iraq be fixed with more killing? Why are there victimless crimes on the statute book? Why are the government entitled to half our cash? Why are we disarmed? Why don’t we have robust reliable energy supplies? Why can’t we quit the EU, the UN, NATO? Why do we even need national trade agreements in the internet era?
There is almost no debate on these gigantic subjects; the political settlement having run aground on the social democratic rocks. So it doesn’t much energise me.
However, I did catch some of the Labour conference this week, and it looks like they have stopped trying.
We had Sadiq Khan who wasn’t quite sure of what he thought about bombing ISIS. He wanted to “see what the Prime Minister said” because independent thought was obviously a bit tricky. In fairness to him, the coverage is a joke; the so-called Arab coalition extends in some cases to allowing use of air space and not much else.
Then we had Rachel Reeves who is apparently shadow work and pensions secretary who didn’t know what the basic state pension was (sic) nor apparently did she have any understanding of how it was derived. I had to read the report twice to see if I had misread it. You cannot be taken seriously as a frontline politician without at least a basic grasp of your own brief.
Ed Balls did not disappoint announcing the ludicrous ‘mansion’ tax which will be nightmarish to administer and won’t raise the cash they think. And you might question why someone who lives in a leafy Southern suburb and has done for years should suddenly have to fork out an additional £15K a year. Avoidance schemes aplenty will abound. Plus he was going to “close tax loopholes” how do they say this stuff with a straight face? Oh and cut the deficit of course along with all the extra spending pledges. Balls it seems to me was going to cut the deficit by borrowing more. You will recall what borrowing too much money has done to Greece.
Then we had the organ grinder himself saying he was going to spend the mansion tax cash on the NHS (which is curious because on Monday Rachel Reeves was spending it on reducing the deficit) and this was of course cheered for some reason which completely escapes me. Maybe there is this weird school of thought which says “Large bureaucracy – good, give more money to with no thought of actual results or even goals”
Labour were asked how many cuts they had identified to eliminate the structural deficit. It turns out they amounted to £400m. The structural budget deficit is £75B. So all their efforts in opposition have identified just over half of one percent of the cuts need to balance the budget. And this is blown away with all the extra spending you know they will do.
Also Ed didn’t talk about the deficit in his speech, because you know how popular financial reality is with Labour party delegates. This is “dog-ate-my-homework” stuff. You forgot?
This is not serious politics. They aren’t trying, they are just making noises which sound nice to the hard of thinking, but which evaporate when you look at them in any detail.
Lest you think this is an invitation to vote Tory, it’s not. Osborne may try but will clearly fail to balance the budget if the Tories are re-elected. Balls and Milli won’t even try.
This is going to end in either sovereign default or an orgy of QE regardless of who is elected because the debt and the interest payment keeps going up. This means more and more of the government’s tax receipts are spent paying the interest on the debt. No-one wants to take the hard decisions, nor even has a philosophical basis for doing so, much less any chance of being elected if they tell the obvious truth (which is being stubbornly ignored by the electorate).
The American Founding Father John Jay was fond of reading Plato in his youth (often not a good sign), and even named one of his slaves Plato (I am not attacking Mr Jay over slavery – I know he did more than anyone else to end slavery in New York State, even losing an election over it).
It is not likely that John Jay was fond of the economic collectivism of Plato (after all John Jay was the man famous for making “those who own the land should govern it” his maxim – although it was actually G. Morris who supported a strictly limited franchise, as long you owned a little land, say your own home, you should have the vote according to Jay), so what was he getting from Plato?
Not the idea of the importance of virtue – that was a commonplace of republican (small “r”) thought, that only a moral people could remain free (that a people addicted to vice and waste would either not notice government getting more powerful – or would actively welcome a despotic government, if it promised them lots of benefits “bread and games”).
Nor was John Jay some sort of “Puritan” in the Hollywood sense – he did not believe that such things as drink and dancing should be banned, he liked a drink and he employed tutors to teach his children to dance (and the only reason he did not go to the theatre was that he believed there was so much suffering and humiliation in real life that he did not want to see it on the stage as well). Again “virtue” was a much broader concept than the Hollywood mockery of po faced Puritans.
What Plato would have given John Jay is that idea that people can (and should) be made virtuous by THE STATE.
We today are used to prisons and government schools (especially in New York) being dens of vice – and that is not funny (rape and so on should not be a matter for nudge-nudge, wink-wink jokes). Places where vast amounts of taxpayers money are spent – and people come out vastly worse than they went in. Indeed the only thing that government schools in America appear to be good at teaching people is that government should control everything and that business (especially “big business”) is evil (needing to be controlled by noble government), and the churches are evil too, and…… (well any alternative to the state in any area of life) is evil – how odd that government schools should teach that government should control everything (well actually not odd at all).
However, dens of vice was not the Platonic vision (although what American schools and colleges actually teach would have pleased Plato).
In the vision of John Jay the government prisons he established (to replace the old policy of either hanging or flogging criminals) were meant to “reform” criminals.
And the government school system he longed for (it was not really established till after his time) would take children and turn them into virtuous citizens of the new republic .
What if someone from the state had come to Mr Jay’s farm (the house he had built shows his reputation as an aristocrat is false – it is a rather ordinary house with a front pouch where someone can sit on a rocking chair and chat to passers by – the house that “Common Man” Jefferson had built is vastly grander, but then Jefferson did not mind borrowing money, John Jay hated the idea of borrowing for luxury, he would only spend money he actually had) and started to order him about in farming matters?
I think such a government official would have got a cold stare from the man who attacked price controls and other such nonsense (John Adams would have lost his temper and set the dogs on such an official). But why should government be better at forming human character?
If would not trust the government to be in charge of your carrots, why would you trust them to be in charge of your children?
Governments are often better than private individuals and associations for destructive things – killing people, burning cities and so on (as a man who had lived through war – Mr Jay knew that), but for constructive things such as reforming human character? That does not seem very likely.
Evil (force and fear) has its place in human affairs – remember the Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk is divided between good and evil. His good side has many things (for example a sincere love of knowledge for its own sake) – even his courage (the evil Kirk is a coward – terrified of losing his own skin), but the good Kirk is also useless as a Star Ship commander (he will not take risks with other people’s lives – and he is horrified even by the suffering and death of enemies). It is the evil Kirk who has the “power of command” and the delight in torment and destruction that gives him the incentive to think up clever ways of destroying foes (the pleasure a cat has). And these-things-are-necessary at times.
The state (force and fear – the Sword of State) is the negative (destructive) energy of human life – you can burn a city with such a force, but you can not make people better (not really) you can not create new and good things. Force and fear has its place in human life (the good Kirk can not command the Enterprise – although the evil Kirk can not be trusted to do so) – but it can not turn a child into a good adult, or turn criminals into honest people (it can just turn them into hypocrites like Mr Heap – pretending to be “ever so humble” as they plot fresh crimes).
If one tries to use the state for positive (for constructive) purposes the negative energy feeds back on itself – the tormented child becomes a vile adult, the criminal leaves the prison worse than when he went in (and so on). The state can punish crime – but it can reform people (and the effort to use state power to “make people better” leads to the most terrible tyranny, as C.S. Lewis pointed out).
Those people (such as John Jay) who supported setting up state prison systems and school systems sincerely believing that they would promote virtue were making an error – a terrible, fundamental, error (an error for which the world is still suffering – and will suffer more).
The Western tradition is based upon three principles.
That the physical universe is real and can be investigated – that it is not an illusion or unknowable.
That the human self (the mind – the investigator, the reasoning “I”) also exists, and that this does not contradict the first principle.
And that right and wrong (good and evil) really exist (are not just “cheer and boo” words) and that humans (as beings – reasoning “I”) can CHOOSE between them – can do otherwise than we do.
All these things can be found in Aristotle - although much error can be found in Aristotle also.
And they can also be found in the “Common Sense” philosophy (sometimes known know as the Scottish Philosophy of Thomas Reid to Noah Porter and James McCosh – but within which I would include such English philosophers as Ralph Cudworth, Harold Prichard, Sir William David Ross and Antony Flew).
It is rather more doubtful that these things, the three principles of the Western tradition, can be found in some more academically fashionable philosophies.
Ariel Schochet, who has served eight stints behind bars in Bergen County [New Jersey], the so-called deadbeat dad roundups trap the men in a system they are never able to climb out of. “We aren’t supposed to have debtor’s prisons in this country anymore, but that’s essentially what this has turned into,” said Schochet, who built up a $278,000 debt to his ex-wife after losing his job on Wall Street.
Charles Dickens wrote extensively about debtors prisons, having been through this tribulation as a child during his fathers imprisonment for debt in Marshalsea prison in 1824, but even during his lifetime the closure of debtors prisons and the introduction of less punitive bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings appeared to turn the tide back, but it is a tide that has ebbed and flowed both ways over the centuries.
This was nowhere more true than in the United States where bankruptcy laws were enacted in 1800, repealed in 1803, enacted again in 1841, repealed again in 1843, enacted yet again in 1867 and repealed yet again in 1878 – thus the current laws may just be an extraordinarily long hiatus between repeals.
This weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting a friend in the historic city of Münster, Germany – a university town with 50,000 students and famous as the site of the Rathaus where the Treaty of Westphalia was signed ending the Thirty Years’ War in 1648.
What was not so appealing this weekend was the protest outside the historic Rathaus by a group of supporters of the Palestinians shouting quite frankly repulsive and anti-Semitic slogans while the Police looked on with cold eyes.
The rally had been called by the “initiative of the Friends of Palestine in Münster”. Bearing banners and pamphlets to express their protest the participants were mainly women with headscarves and children.
They also chanted slogans such as “child murderer Israel” or “mass murderer Netanyahu”. In a pamphlet stated: “We do not hate the Jews, but the terrorist state of Israel.”
On the opposite side of the street, under the arches, demonstrated a significantly smaller group of people for self-defense of Israel.
It was quite clear to all concerned that the Police were not there to ensure the demonstrators didn’t get out of hand (as occasionally happens with environmental and Neo-Nazi protests in Germany), but rather to ensure that the demonstrators themselves were protected from the public at large.
Marcus, my host for the weekend, is an educated native German with a doctorate in physics who spends his summer vacations building village schools in rural India, so not exactly a little-Deutschlander, but he was outraged to the point of anger that the “…spectre of the anti-Semitism of the Nazi era…” (his exact words) should be displayed again on the streets of Germany.
I pointed out to Marcus that if the right to free-speech means anything, it means the right to make statements which others may find offensive and that there is no general right not to be offended.
“Quite correct”, Marcus said, “but if the protesters had been ethnic German’s rather than immigrants, then they would have been dragged away by the Police at the first anti-Semitic outburst” - this was in relation to an anti-immigration protest at the Münster Rathaus some months ago, which the police had broken up for exactly that reason.
“The police are afraid to intervene because they are Muslims” was Marcus’ final word on the matter.
The human rights of a woman with dementia were breached when she was moved from her house to a care home, a court has ruled.
[Her] son, who has not been identified, told BBC Radio 4′s Today Programme he was “flabbergasted” to find his mother had been taken into care.
He said: “I returned from a short trip to the local town, to pick up a valve radio I’d bought for mum at auction. On my return mum’s carer told me two social services people had been and taken her to ‘a place of safety’.”
In his judgement, District Judge Paul Mort said the council behaved unlawfully when they moved the woman from her own house to a care home because they failed to get authorisation from its own specialist panel and had not applied to the Court of Protection.
The local authority also failed to tell her son of where she was for 19 days and he was then only allowed limited contact whilst the council investigated neglect claims.
So, a UK Social Services department effectively kidnaps an 81-year old woman from her home and her family and refuses to reveal her whereabouts for 19-days until served with a writ of habeas corpus.
The most repellent thing about this whole episode is that while criticising the failure of Milton Keynes Council to follow correct procedure, the woman in question remains in a care home with no likelihood of returning home, so despite voluble criticism of Social Services, District Judge Paul Mort will not reverse this kidnapping, which occurred some 11-months ago.
As the woman in question is now under the guardianship of the dubiously named Court of Protection reporting is scant as this is effectively a secret court. Judge Mort’s decision was actually handed down in April, but publication of details have only just been released.
Clip from BBC Radio 4′s The Today Programme:
I would swear that I saw, for the first time ever, outright anger in Prof. Epstein’s face the first time I watched this clip. Never mind, you can hear it in his voice as he gives Yale Law School’s Prof. Jed Rubenfeld a concise and pithy jolly what-for for a**-hattery.
This is the final 5:48 of a panel discussion described as below. The whole thing is quite interesting. Steve Forbes also seems to have some understanding of what’s what. Andy Stern of the infamous SEIU brings along his flag and his violin. And the odious Prof Rubenfeld is…well, odious. Although his question in Part 11 is one we all get asked a lot, and I’m glad to have Prof. E.’s response.
Best part first. The series begins with Part 1, below Part 11 here. I think you can just click through the segments from there.
Uploaded on Nov 17, 2009
The Federalist Society presented this panel discussion on Redistribution of Wealth at the 2009 National Lawyers Convention on Thursday, November 12, 2009. Panelists included Prof. Richard A. Epstein of New York University Law School; Mr. Steve Forbes, Chairman and CEO of Forbes Inc. and Editor of Forbes Magazine; Prof. Jed Rubenfeld of Yale Law School; Mr. Andrew L. Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union; and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit as the moderator. Part 11 of 11
The whole thing is very much worth seeing, highly recommended, and be sure you have your kidney basin at the ready for Prof. Rubenfeld’s first appearance:
I put the money quote in boldface ….
‘Anyone advocating government officials or anyone else coercively taxing some people against their will and giving that money to others [is] guilty of advocating coercion and intimidation. Such people are not libertarians based on the ZAP criteria.
‘Such people are also guilty of fraud if they claim to be “libertarians.”’
–Commenter Garry Reed | December 7, 2013, 9:36 pm
…in response to the posting ‘U.S. “Libertarians” Debate Basic Income,’ which links to several pieces, pro- and not-so, on the topic by various Shining and Less-Shining Lights. These include a podcast interview by somebody at Cato of our pal Zwolinski, whose allegedly libertarian heart regularly bleeds, though not for people who think charity and justice are two different things, and also a piece by somebody at Reason, who tells us how much less demeaning such a program would be. (I guess people are still, underneath it all, not proud of being unable to look after themselves — not even in the face of catastrophe.)
I thought this last article might be a satirical debunking of the idea, but no such luck.
Single Acts of Tyranny proposes to tyrannize us by destroying our fondest dream, which is that hell is the creation of the Devil which takes the form of bringing to Humanity that most desirable of conditions, happiness and joy — O hell, World PEACE, happiness and joy — by denying us everything that any human being could possibly need or want. In this case, the sense of physical sweetness that sugar brings us.
Now along comes Perfesser “Nudge” Sunstein, who says, “No such thing”: It’s all the woolly-minded Paranoid Libertarians, who broadcast to us the Sirens’ wail in the form of warnings against such things as slippery-slope arguments, plus four more dreadful paranoid ploys.
On the other hand, the Comments to the articule (what an apt typo! think I’ll leave it) seem to be running rather heavily against what they see as the Prof’s muddying of the waters.
Actually, it’s my observation that as soon as you let the meaning of words (that is, their meaning in Standard English, since there does have to be a standard for interpretation somewhere or “it’s deuces wild”) — as soon as you let the meaning of words become unmoored from their core meaning in Standard English, you are deep into the territory of the Slippery Slope and worse. Mr. Whittle did a wonderful illustration of how this works, on a Trifecta a few years back. If you have a “standard” as opposed to “basic” (but still paid) membership, I think it is, you can still watch it.
But I’m O/T there. The point is that ANY argument can, in my experience, be stretched to prove anything whatsoever, if you have just the teensiest bit of imagination. And Lefties are loaded with it, as long it informs them that their plans will work so well that they should just naturally have the final say.
Go, read — including the Comments, until you get bored: there are 288 of them so far, some meaty — and be Enlightened.
PS: Acts, no offense. That first line is my idea of humor. I do like your idea of putting 5 kg. of sugar in jail, though. Maybe it work to help me lose a little around the hips. :>)