Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mugged

Yesterday after work, I was walking out to my car, holding my favorite coffee mug in my mouth while I fastened the top button of my coat. Before I could fasten the button, the mug slipped from my teeth. I dropped my hands to catch the mug and frantically juggled it for a few seconds before it fell to the concrete and shattered.

I crouched and held my head in my hands, looking through my parted fingers at the broken pieces of my favorite mug. The grief that struck me made me realize what a precious thing it was to me. It was a gift from my friend Judy after I was baptized in July. Not only was it a pretty mug, with a tender, uplifting message elegantly printed on the side, but it had a handle that fit my hand well, and it held just the right amount of coffee, enough for drinking before it grew cold.

When I put the clean dishes in the cupboard, I made sure this mug went into the cupboard last, because it was usually the first mug I used. Just a few days earlier I had shown it proudly to my girlfriend. She could have disapproved of or taken issue with anything I’ve written, my mind and soul poured onto paper, and it would not have bothered me as much had she not approved of that mug. It was more than a simple mug, it was an extension of me, my late coming to Jesus, and my close friendship with Judy that I did not appreciate until it was gone.

What a fragile thing, my coffee mug, and how careless I had been in breaking it. Would that I show more care toward the things I treasure in this world, which are more fragile than they seem. I’m thankful for that mug and for the kind woman who gave it to me.

The maker of the mug is Abbey Press, based in St. Meinrad, Indiana.

Further reading: Rod Dreher reflects on breaking his favorite coffee mug, a remarkable coincidence.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Odds and ends 11/22/2013

Can you guess the three famous men who died November 22, 1963?

  • John F. Kennedy
  • C. S. Lewis
  • Aldous Huxley

I did not know Huxley died that day, too, until today, the 50th anniversary of his death. Matthew J. Franck reflects at First Things:

Huxley’s claim on our attention comes in a very distant third after Kennedy and Lewis. Although many of his works remain in print, they are all—unlike those of Lewis—quite dated, and it is highly doubtful that by the end of the present century anyone will be reading anything by Huxley.

With just one exception: Brave New World, published in 1932, sells briskly to this day, is widely read in schools and universities, and is regularly invoked as one of the great prophetic dystopias written in the twentieth century. Today, as Huxley himself once told George Orwell, Brave New World seems a much more prescient and disturbing work than Orwell’s 1984.

I agree. I have written here and here on why the denatured technocracy of Brave New World is superior to 1984’s hard tyranny.

“So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly arise and make them miserable.” –Aldous Huxley

This week at the Red Pill Report, I blogged about an apt example of what Huxley foresaw, seeing parallels with another dystopian writer: Ayn Rand.


“When you see rage at the idea of honoring the successful, climaxing in death threats, you are witnessing the ressentiment of those who secretly regard themselves as failures, whatever their outward success, and are desperately struggling to bury the knowledge that they themselves are responsible for their fate. Hatred for the achievers is the outward projection of their own self-loathing.” –Harry Binswanger

Andrew Huszar, the Federal Reserve’s head quantitative easer, apologizes:

Despite the Fed’s rhetoric, my program wasn’t helping to make credit any more accessible for the average American. The banks were only issuing fewer and fewer loans. More insidiously, whatever credit they were extending wasn’t getting much cheaper. QE may have been driving down the wholesale cost for banks to make loans, but Wall Street was pocketing most of the extra cash.

From the trenches, several other Fed managers also began voicing the concern that QE wasn’t working as planned. Our warnings fell on deaf ears. In the past, Fed leaders—even if they ultimately erred—would have worried obsessively about the costs versus the benefits of any major initiative. Now the only obsession seemed to be with the newest survey of financial-market expectations or the latest in-person feedback from Wall Street’s leading bankers and hedge-fund managers. Sorry, U.S. taxpayer.

Trading for the first round of QE ended on March 31, 2010. The final results confirmed that, while there had been only trivial relief for Main Street, the U.S. central bank’s bond purchases had been an absolute coup for Wall Street. The banks hadn’t just benefited from the lower cost of making loans. They’d also enjoyed huge capital gains on the rising values of their securities holdings and fat commissions from brokering most of the Fed’s QE transactions. Wall Street had experienced its most profitable year ever in 2009, and 2010 was starting off in much the same way.

$1.25 trillion in government-bought mortgage bonds later, stocks were booming, buoyed by fake money, and the economy was still stagnant. 2010 saw the introduction of QE2. Now we are in the midst of indefinite QE3.

Daniel Horowitz castigates the Fed:

If not for the Federal Reserve acting to service the debt on the cheap, we would immediately actualize the damaging effects of increased spending under large programs like the stimulus and Obamacare. According to Investors’ Business Daily, “If Washington had to pay the average interest now that it paid in 2000 (6.4%), it would be paying $500 billion more each year to stay afloat.”

Consequently, most people would feel the pain of “the free lunch” and realize that it is not so free. Without the Fed’s monetary manipulation, Washington would be forced to raise taxes more outright in order to purvey Obamacare and the free lunch society. Now they can do so simply by monetizing the debt on the cheap.

This summer, it looked like reality might have finally hit the Fed. I talked about it at the Red Pill Report:

In lieu of a political class that has neither the inclination nor the will to curb spending, the right thing to do, and what Fed Chairman Paul Volcker did in the late ’70s and early ’80s, would be to temporarily spike the interest rate to attract bond buyers. A higher interest rate would increase bond yields and depreciate their sale price, offering bond buyers a good return on their investment. This would infuse the government with cash, but it would be coupled with a necessary evil: It will cause interest payments on the national debt, already hovering at $400 billion per year, to blow through the roof.

A deep recession would follow, as the government cuts back on spending commitments in order to prioritize interest payments on the debt. (This is what would have happened in 2011 had the Republicans followed through with their threats to not raise the debt limit.) The sharp pain of the recession would restore sane fiscal policy in Washington and usher in an era of prosperity akin to the ’80s and ’90s.

You can already see Bernanke laying the groundwork for this. After his announcement to end quantitative easing Wednesday, bond yields rose to 2-year highs. Remember, though, the end of quantitative easing is just the start. The next step is raising the interest rate.

This puts us on track for a recession in the middle of President Obama’s second term. A recession could define the near-term political landscape in Republicans’ favor, including a make-or-break presidential election for the future of the country.

Which is why I think Obama will replace Bernanke, whose term ends next year, with someone who will keep the interest rate low. The nominee will be asked about quantitative easing at her Senate confirmation hearing, and she will say she has no plan to pursue further quantitative easing.

I wrote that before Bernanke reversed himself and all but assured the continuation of QE3 through the end of his term, until it was no longer up to him to set Fed policy. Had he stuck to the Fed position in June, QE tapering would be occurring now, and QE would be over if and when Fed chair nominee Janet Yellen assumed the office. Have no doubts: Yellen favors QE. The issue was whether she would revive QE upon assuming the Fed chair. Testifying before the Senate that she would revive QE would be politically untenable—much less tenable than, say, continuing the work of her predecessor.

I stand by my prediction: The Fed will continue to pursue monetary policies that protect big government from the consequences of its spending binge.


A reminder from FreedomWorks’s Wayne Brough on planning:

Economists focus on wages and prices, and have a general idea about the relationship between them, but Hayek claimed that economists do not-and cannot-possess information about the particular structure of wages that produce equilibrium. A general increase in wages and prices can be modeled, but it is far more difficult to model which set of wages and prices correctly matches labor markets to output in a way that promotes employment and economic growth. Because of these difficulties, Hayek claimed that many economists “happily proceed on the fiction that the factors which they can measure are the only ones that are relevant.” This is akin to looking for the car keys under the lamppost because that’s where the light is.

In Religion & Ethics, Peter Hitchens writes a riveting essay against marijuana legalization:

If [social liberals] campaign for a reform that frees them, and “first-class minds” like them, to take drugs, they are also campaigning for a reform that frees everyone else. That means it frees—or withdraws protection from—the beaten and rejected child of a shattered home on the squalid estate, the school failure, the unemployable young man in the post-industrial desert, the young mother living on benefits and, eventually, her children. And they are campaigning, in effect, for more people to use drugs which can, quite capriciously and unpredictably, destroy their users’ mental health. So for their own convenience and peace of mind, they are willing to condemn unknown numbers of others to possible disaster. This can hardly be called a selfless action.

Finally, we are not islands. If we risk destroying ourselves (as I believe we do if we use drugs) then we risk gravely wounding those who love us and care for us. For me this is a profound individual contract. It is one that will be understood most readily by the parents of adolescent children, children who have a sort of independence but often lack the experience to use it aright. If the law makes light of those parents’ concerns, and refuses to support them, what argument can they use to dissuade their young from taking a path that might well lead to permanent self-destruction?

“No man is an island” is certainly true in our economic lives and our social lives. Man is a cooperative animal. Notice, though, how apostles of the emerging tyranny shout “we’re in this together” and such to the rafters when selling top-down economic centralization, but remain coldly silent about—even quietly supportive of—social vice. It’s almost as if they want to weaken the institutions for the government to annex them. It’s like they want government to eat the civil society.


The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a more aggressive, federal version of San Antonio’s non-discrimination ordinance, passed the Senate with ease Nov. 7. Daniel Horowitz reports:

The Senate “ENDA” bill (S.815) would bestow civil rights status on anyone who claim they were denied a job because of “such individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.” As part of a trial lawyer’s dream, the term “gender identity” is so vague and subjective that it includes “the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.”

Let’s put aside the issue of legislating immorality on private individuals and businesses. There is a legitimate question as to what constitutes a sexual orientation or a gender identity. Before insanity reigned supreme in recent years, a man was a man and a woman was a woman. But if all appearances or mannerisms “with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth” are included, then who is to say that a pedophile is not covered under this bill?

Think such an eventuality is outlandish? Think again.

On Friday, the Washington Times broke the story that the American Psychiatric Association in its new edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, reclassified pedophilia as a “sexual orientation” instead of a mental illness.

I thought San Antonio’s narcissist ordinance was bad! ENDA passed the Senate more quickly with less constituent input. Whereas San Antonio’s NDO affects only companies that contract with the city and people who run for local office, ENDA extends to every company in America, regardless of whether they do business with the government.

Fortunately, ENDA will die in the House of Representatives.


Thanksgiving will be tense this year for the Cheney family. Liz Cheney, who is running for the U.S. Senate, supports traditional marriage against the radical redefinitionists. Her sister, Mary, is gay, and she is “married” to her partner, who took to Facebook to post:

I was watching my sister-in-law on Fox News Sunday (yes Liz, in fifteen states and the District of Columbia you are my sister-in-law) and was very disappointed to hear her say “I do believe in the traditional definition of marriage.”

Liz has been a guest in our home, has spent time and shared holidays with our children, and when Mary and I got married in 2012—she didn’t hesitate to tell us how happy she was for us.

To have her now say she doesn’t support our right to marry is offensive to say the least.

I can’t help but wonder how Liz would feel if as she moved from state to state, she discovered that her family was protected in one but not the other.

I always thought freedom meant freedom for EVERYONE.

Or: If you don’t support my identity in sin, you are a bigot.

As this rant illustrates, the “right” to marry trumps the right to disagree on what marriage is.

George Neumayr comments:

What kind of woman takes to Facebook to call her sibling a hateful bigot for merely opposing the most radical social innovation in history — a position that almost all politicians took until a few years ago? Loving the sinner requires loving their sin, demands Mary, who thought it appropriate to use social media to announce that “Liz’s position is to treat my family as second class citizens. That’s not a position I can be ‘lovingly tolerant’ towards.”

A similar episode of familial blackmail occurred 2 years ago to a New York Senate Democrat:

A Democrat from Brooklyn, known for his gruff style and shifting alliances, Senator [Carl] Kruger voted against same-sex marriage two years ago, was seen as a pariah in his party and was accused in March of taking $1 million in bribes in return for political favors.

Some gay activists, assuming he was a lost cause, had taken to picketing outside of his house and screaming that he was gay — an approach that seemed only to harden his opposition to their agenda. (Mr. Kruger has said he is not gay.) But unbeknown to all but a few people, Mr. Kruger desperately wanted to change his vote. The issue, it turned out, was tearing apart his household.

The gay nephew of the woman he lives with, Dorothy Turano, was so furious at Mr. Kruger for opposing same-sex marriage two years ago that he had cut off contact with both of them, devastating Ms. Turano. “I don’t need this,” Mr. Kruger told Senator John L. Sampson of Brooklyn, the Democratic majority leader. “It has gotten personal now.”

Mr. Sampson, a longtime supporter of same-sex marriage, advised Mr. Kruger to focus on the nephew, not the political repercussions. “When everything else is gone,” Mr. Sampson told him, “all you have left is family.”

Wrong! All you have left is God.

By the way, I am not surprised to see Paul Singer’s name all over this New York Times article, lauding his efforts to essentially buy New York Republicans’ votes with contributions to their reelection campaigns. This is the same “Republican mega-donor” who congratulated New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for capitulating on same-sex marriage, on which I reported briefly in the October 25, 2013 edition of “Odds and ends.” Let’s look back at that story:

To people like Paul Singer, the hedge fund titan who founded American Unity PAC to encourage Republicans to support marriage equality, Christie’s surrender was cause for celebration.

Jeff Cook-McCormac, a senior adviser to Singer’s PAC, praised Christie’s move to BuzzFeed.

“While he didn’t get the policy outcome he was looking for, he was able to navigate this in a way that’s really thoughtful and respectful of the sentiments of a diverse community within New Jersey,” Cook-McCormac said. “I mean, he’s a rare guy who’s been able to appeal to people with sincerely held beliefs on both sides of this issue.”

He added, “The donor community are particularly looking for leaders who can unite people, and who can find a path back to winning elections.”

Gobbledygook. How do you appeal to people who believe two and two is four and people who believe two and two is five at the same time? Why would you want to appeal to people on both sides of the issue when your PAC was founded to fight for one side?

Getting back to the issue at hand, same-sex marriage, what did Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. think about “gay” rights?

“I am a boy,” an anonymous writer told King. “But I feel about boys the way I ought to feel about girls. I don’t want my parents to know about me. What can I do?”

In calm, pastoral tones, King told the boy that his problem wasn’t uncommon, but required “careful attention.”

“The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired,” King wrote. “You are already on the right road toward a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it.”

Homosexuality is a sin to be personally overcome, not validated through a policy of obtuse nondiscrimination.

An idea came to mind while reading through the comments on Rod Dreher’s post about same-sex marriage and religious liberty. State discrimination against people with distinct, immutable traits is the litmus test for being granted protected status. Blacks are the most obvious example. Judicial wise men foolishly interpret sexuality, impossibly complex and unique to every person, as distinct and immutable. Is there any chance a judge will allow those who follow written scripture—distinct and immutable—the same level of protection as those seeking the right to sexual destiny?


“The whole point of Obamacare is to make everyone conform to the government’s idea of what is fitting and proper in health care. Your own calculation of your self-interest, and your own moral and religious beliefs about ethical health care coverage, matter not at all under Obamacare.” –Matthew J. Franck

Socialist Howard Dean makes my point (re: “The fate of the union” and “Obamacare and the republic”):

I wonder if he has the legal authority to do this, since this was a congressional bill that set this up.

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal foolishly thinks Obamacare is good for Republicans:

ObamaCare is really a political self-punching machine, slugging itself with every botched rollout, missed deadline, postponed mandate, higher deductible, canceled insurance policy and jury-rigged administrative fix. John Roberts, we hardly knew you: Your ObamaCare swing vote last year may yet turn out to be best gift Republicans have had in a decade.

We heard the same phony argument when the Supreme Court irrationally upheld the individual mandate last year. Mitt Romney still lost the presidency because he failed to muster political will against Obamacare. (And for good reason: Obamacare was based on his own totalitarian healthcare law in Massachusetts.)

Here’s how Obamacare doesn’t benefit Republicans: They’ve failed so far to muster the political will to represent a majority of Americans who disapprove of Obamacare. There’s no reason to believe they will muster the political will to represent a greater majority of Americans. They face the same opponent, whom they’ve lost to time and time again. The Democrats are dug in, recalcitrant. They control the Senate, they control the White House. The road to liberty runs through those political bodies. The Democrats are holed up like Lt. Col. William Travis in the Alamo, like King Theoden in Helm’s Deep. Republicans must attack, attack, attack, because President Obama and Harry Reid are not going to surrender to a simple show of force. They know the stakes. They are playing for the fate of the republic. They will fight to the death, so they must be put to death. Politically speaking, of course.

Daniel Horowitz agrees:

We cannot afford to wait until the website is fixed and the dependency takes root. It’s tempting for Republicans to just sit back and enjoy the polling data, but polling data will not get rid of the law. Polls are not elections. And even 2014 will not save us. In the best case scenario, we will have 51 seats in the Senate with a unified filibuster-strong Democrat minority that, when coupled with the wayward Republicans, will give Senator Harry Reid a de facto majority. Moreover, President Obama will still be president. Waiting until 2017 is simply unacceptable.

This nerd sees blessed, healthy people who have little use for doctors benefiting from “discrimination” in the healthcare market.

The only way to end that discriminatory system is to bring everyone into the system and pay one fair price. That means that the genetic winners, the lottery winners who’ve been paying an artificially low price because of this discrimination now will have to pay more in return. And that, by my estimate, is about four million people. In return, we’ll have a fixed system where over 30 million people will now for the first time be able to access fairly price and guaranteed health insurance.

Yes, they are lucky that they are born healthy. So are others who are born tall and who are born rich. The world “discriminates” people with luck and talent and natural gifts from those who do not. In the spirit of equality, are we going to make everyone sick, everyone short, everyone poor? Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron” satirized this totalitarian mindset 50 years ago. It numbs my mind to see it advocated by this foolish wonk.


I enjoyed Jay Leno’s interview of George W. Bush. One of Bush’s gifts is his humility. You hear it when he praises the troops and praises the American character. He doesn’t worry about suffering common indignities that a powerful man like him can avoid.


Sexual “liberation” is regressive, not progressive, I wrote earlier this year. Heather Wilhelm agrees. Excerpts:

Our time-traveling anthropologist might also be nonplused at the almost primitive, pagan nature found in much of America’s pro-choice culture. In ancient times it was perfectly normal to worship body parts—some of the most famous male and female representations go back to the Stone Age—but today, one would think we’d be a bit more sophisticated. Most of us know, thanks to hundreds of years of science and philosophy, not to mention a little bit of common sense, that human beings are more than just an animalistic body. Some of us might even go out on a limb and say we have an eternal soul.

The ultimate irony of the modern abortion debate is that those who see themselves as “progressive” and “forward-thinking” are actually taking us back, in a sense, to the days of the woolly mammoth. By dissecting humans into little more than a collection of body parts—and turning a blind eye to the existence of clearly living, breathing babies—they ignore much more than just science. They ignore the best of civilization as a whole. They are, it could be argued, today’s new primitives.

If your destination is hell, one step closer would be called progress.

Arizona State University student Annica Benning weighs in at the College Fix:

The sexism is overwhelming. Liberals are quick to paint conservatives as “anti-women,” and often claim Republicans are engaged in a so-called “war on women,” yet these degrading and exploitative ads portray women as giddy, sex-starved and desperate whose biggest wish is that some hot guy will be “easy to get.”

This belittles the progress women have made over the years toward equality and independence, but Amy Runyon-Harms, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado, defended them, saying: “People get upset when you portray women as independent.”

That is interesting – independence can now be defined based on sexual promiscuity?

“Equality” and “independence” are dubious benefits when they cost us harmony and happiness.


Re: military sexual assaults, Jed Babbin explains in the American Spectator:

My law school pal Joe Rehyansky served as an Army JAG prosecutor for 18 years and then about a decade as an assistant DA in Tennessee. He told me, “In all my years prosecuting, in and out of the Army, I never saw a sexual assault allegation swept under the rug; never encountered a woman who was afraid to file a formal complaint; and never saw such a case handled as anything other than a crime that was prosecuted or not based on the evidence. Victims these days, especially women victims claiming sexual assault, see themselves as a privileged class. Something’s got to be done, regardless of whether the allegation is provable.”

If the civilian lawyers of [Kirsten] Gillibrand’s new system are outside the chain of command, who will prevent them from going on crusades pursuing soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who are unjustly accused? That bias doesn’t concern Gillibrand. Her new legal force would be “independent.”

In the current military justice system, the prevention of bias is one of the top priorities, and it’s a goal that is achieved. First of all, most commanders don’t interfere at all with the decision to bring someone up on charges. They rightfully rely on their lawyers. When they don’t, the military justice system deals with any interference they might attempt in a manner designed to protect the rights of the accused.

There’s a concept in military justice called “command influence.” A senior commander — whether it’s a colonel or a multi-star general — is designated the “convening authority,” which means that the charges in a special or general court martial are brought under his orders.

When any commander, or someone higher in the chain of command, tries to influence the lawyers or the judge in a prosecution, either by urging prosecution and conviction or by telling the lawyers or judge that a suspect should get a free pass for a crime, that’s improper command influence under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The consequences can be severe.


Louis C. K. is in the Luddite camp. John Lott differs:

“If you could go back in time to Orville Wright and go ‘Hey, dude, I had to sit on the runway for 40 minutes,’ he’d be like ‘Oh shit, well let’s not even bother then. Hey, Wendell, shut it down. They make you wait for a bit,’” [Louis C. K.] channeled.

...

The rant argues that man ought to view technology with awe and reverence. In the short run, there’s nothing wrong with that—at least the awe part. When we see the latest inventions and upgrades do something amazing, it’s fun and harmless to say “Wow, look at this!”

Yet technological progress comes from trial and error, impatience, even boredom. The same impulse that led Louis C. K.’s fellow passenger to blow off steam when the Wi-Fi went down led somebody else to not just fix it but eventually improve upon it, to make Wi-Fi in the sky not just possible but reliable—and faster to boot.


A year ago, I predicted Chris Christie would lose his reelection bid:

Had Republicans taken control of the White House and the Senate, the narrative of a “maverick” Chris Christie would have been established. In the last year of his first term as governor, he would have exploited opportunities to defy the Republican-controlled federal government in order to appeal to moderates and position himself for reelection.

Alas, that didn’t happen. Christie’s reelection odds shrank with the federal government remaining in Democratic hands. Moderates are more likely to be unmoved by Christie’s hosannas to Obama than they would have been by his pokes in the eye to Romney. Now, Christie is more likely than not to lose his reelection bid, as if there was ever any doubt the Garden State would remain among the bluest of blue.

What was I thinking? A poor prediction, and poorly written to boot.


In closing, Robert George of the Girgis, George, Anderson marriage triumvirate highlights liberals’ internal inconstancy on the death penalty and abortion:

[Mario Cuomo] condemns the death penalty in the most explicitly, indeed flamboyantly, moralistic terms: “I am against the death penalty because I think it is bad and unfair. It is debasing. It is degenerate. It kills innocent people.” He does not pause to consider that these are precisely the claims pro-life people make against the policy of legal abortion and its public funding—a policy that Cuomo defends.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

An “anarchist” leads the socialists

Is University of Chile student union president Melissa Sepúlveda an anarchist, as she claims? She talks like a socialist, condemning the “economic model in place since the dictatorship,” the “old individualist system,” and urging Bolshevik-style revolution.

“Ms. Sepúlveda’s position is full of ironies,” the Financial Times reports. Is it, though? Anarchy is no government, a return to nature, dog eat dog. Socialism is distributed ownership of the means of production, but in application it is always centralized control of men’s economic lives. That’s the opposite of anarchy, isn’t it?

Not so fast. In an anarchy, the pursuit of power is unbound by legal, moral restrictions on man. Under socialism, the rich and powerful align themselves with big government, unbound by fealty to the rule of law.

Sepúlveda is neither an anarchist nor a socialist. She is a nihilist. Per Nietzsche, she idolizes the will to power, a narcissistic, destructive drive to, in Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy’s words, “define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe.”

The “old individualist system” (i.e., free-market reforms under Pinochet) has made Chile’s economy the envy of Latin America. Wealth and, consequently, power accrue to those who create value. Socialists reject the free market as a matter of course because it is inherently unequal. Nihilists reject the free market because they reject any qualification on the accumulation of power, except for exercising existing power.

Insofar as the free market is “individualist,” that is no sin. Radical individualism is a cornerstone of nihilism. But a nihilist who allies herself with “share-the-wealth” socialists cannot reveal this. Rather, she calls herself an anarchist, since her common cause with the socialists is bringing down the Chilean government, which enforces property rights to support the free market.

Power is the link between anarchy and socialism. They are both the nihilist’s means to the unmitigated right to inflict his will.

In summary:

  • A socialist cannot be an anarchist because he loves big government.
  • An anarchist cannot be a socialist because he hates big government.
  • A nihilist can be an anarchist and a socialist because both are means to the unmitigated right to inflict one’s will.

UPDATE (12/2):

A twist on this theme appears at the Red Pill Report. Note the exchange with Tom Gualtieri in the comments.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

N-word cookie jar

Warning: Contains profanity.

A drunk Riley Cooper was recorded threatening “every nigger” at a Kenny Chesney concert. “I, like a whole lot of people, use the N-word all day, every day, my whole life,” the melanin-deficient Eagles wide receiver did not murmur in meek, conciliatory tones.

Dolphins guard Richie Incognito left a similarly profane voicemail on a black teammate’s cell phone. “The word is not necessarily a racial slur. Everyone is trying to paint it like I made some kind of hate crime or something,” the apologetic paleface did not say.

Here’s what they really said when they were caught with their white hands in the N-word cookie jar:

“In no way, shape, or form is it ever acceptable for me to use that word, even if it’s friend to friend.” –Richie Incognito

“I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself.” –Riley Cooper

We ought to pity these victims of gotcha politics. Cultural familiarity acquired from a lifetime spent in mixed-race locker rooms lured them into a false sense of racial security. They thought they were one of the guys, they thought were being cool and edgy, and America condemned them to racist hell. A white teammate in an NFL or NBA locker room can get away with a lot, but in isolation he is another closet white supremacist, fuel for the grisly grievance machine.

“Nigger” to Riley Cooper and Richie Incognito is not a curse word. It’s a neutral identifier of a black person. If that sounds like a lame excuse, remember it’s the same excuse given by basketball legend Charles Barkley, ESPN pundit Michael Wilbon, and George Zimmerman trial witness Rachel Jeantel. Insofar as “nigger” is an offensive word, it’s only offensive when whites use it, even if it’s in the same context as when blacks use it.

Which is the worse double standard: whites are not allowed to defile blacks, or blacks alone are allowed to defile themselves?

Half-white, half-black Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes was ejected from an NBA game for fighting. He tweeted, “I love my teammates like family, but I’m DONE standing up for these niggas! All this shit does is cost me money.” His character was not universally panned. His livelihood was not threatened. Black cultural figures in Barkley and Wilbon defended him.

Richie Incognito was suspended from the Dolphins, and may be cut. Riley Cooper almost lost his job with the Eagles and accepted counseling, ostensibly to unlearn his racism, but really to learn to respect a race cult that is founded on the idea of disrespecting itself. Their sin: being white in a black world.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fleshly images

Emily Stimpson writes about beauty:

[The people we love] don’t see a collection of body parts; they see us. They see our love for them. They see sacrifices made and patience exercised. They see how many times we’ve forgiven them, listened to them, and encouraged them. They see our honesty, integrity, fidelity, and devotion. They also see our intelligence, humor, wit, and creativity—all gifts from God and all ways we image God.

Nihilists, objectivists, second-wave feminists, et al. don’t believe in this kind of beauty or the love that inheres in it. They believe in the actualizing of nuanced images of the self against custom, against law, against nature. On their view, people are only good for what use we have for them.

In a digital, pixelated age, much of what passes for beauty is superficial. Consumer culture manipulates our weakness for beauty to sell us stuff. Far more hurtful than parting with our money, however, is parting with our capacity to love. As Morgan Bennett notes in Public Discourse, continued consumption of images reroutes sexual interaction down image-oriented neural pathways in the brain at the expense of deeper attraction. In short, images stunt our ability to be excited by genuine love.

Fleshly images have the power to overshadow the essentials of a woman. Countless are the pretty girls I would have done anything to be with who were uninteresting and uninterested in me. That was my fault. I had trouble acquainting pretty girls because their characters remained hidden to me as I idolized their prettiness.

You can tell a man who idolizes the flesh from a man who doesn’t by his discomfort in the still, quiet spaces, where the shallowness of his attraction is exposed, like the near shore in low tide. There’s nothing wrong with admiring a woman’s flesh, but love must have deeper foundations to flourish.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sexual harmony

One half of the Democrats’ “war on women” cultural meme, deployed to great effect against Mitt Romney and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, is women’s ostensible disadvantage relative to men. The other half is men’s mythical responsibility for creating that disadvantage (i.e., “patriarchy”).

Some facts of life: Women conceive children. Women carry their children to term. Women, both in body and temperament, are innately suited to suckle and raise children.

There are many words to describe having ultimate say over the fact, much less the well-being, of the future of humankind. “Disadvantage” isn’t one of them. Men, by nature alienated from this process of genetic and cultural renewal, are welcomed into it by women. But women just as easily shut them out. That’s what I call a disadvantage.

George Gilder writes:

Unlike femininity, relaxed masculinity is at bottom empty, a limp nullity. While the female body is full of internal potentiality, the male is internally barren. Manhood at the most basic level can be validated and expressed only in action.

...

Although his relationship to specific children can give him a sense of futurity resembling the woman’s, it always must come through her body and her choices. The child can never be his unless a woman allows him to claim it with her.

Hence men’s impulse to prove themselves worthy of women’s favor, by pursuing activity, competing, achieving, sometimes violently, that feminine tenderness inclines women to avoid. Apart from physical attraction, men’s and women’s disadvantages, written into their natures, endear them to the other’s unique gendered advantages.

Such balance between male and female natures is not the hallmark of a conspiracy to “keep women down.” Men did not make women the way they are, nor did they make themselves the way they are. God ordered it this way. Gilder’s description of a “limp nullity” expresses the profound void man experiences in isolation—“for she was taken out of man”—and his yearning to fill it—“united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:23-24).

In a Marxist liberationist spirit, we have colluded against God’s order to redefine femininity apart from female sexual nature—and failed spectacularly. Women’s pent-up resentment and frustration that the “war on women” meme exploit belie the sexual revolution’s supposed benefits. Women today have more “rights” than ever before, and they hate men more than ever before. Once equal partners in each other’s happiness, now men and women are competitors. The harmony is broken.

But it can be fixed, by returning to what has always worked, to the differences that make us whole.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cool and fun life

“I’ve had friends call me and say, ‘Your life looks so amazing.’ And I tell them: ‘I’m a marketer; I’m only posting the moments that are amazing.’” –Randi Zuckerberg

One of my greatest temptations is envying the images of other people’s lives. It makes me feel like the cool and fun life is eluding me, no matter how cool and fun my life is, stirring within me hopeless discontent. By images, I don’t mean people’s real lives, but the narrow parts of their lives that I see, or the narrow, glossy parts I am allowed to see.

Glimpses of my friends’ cool and fun lives on Facebook especially distress me. Facebook lends itself to momentary, fabricated projections of one’s life into the ether. The mundane and the unpleasant are deliberately skipped over. Any given day an engagement, a new home purchase, a promotion, or pregnancy are announced in my newsfeed. My average day is going to work and watching the Spurs game on TV.

As life accelerates with new technology and facial human interaction declines, superficial impressions are all we’ll have of the lives of most of the people in our outer circles. Digital media allow us tight control over how our lives are perceived by others. That power, like that of the advertising executive and the television producer, is easily corrupted by personal bias and vanity. People’s individual brands, marketed for consumption, self-serving, skew perceptions of reality, embedding unrealistic expectations in our subconscious.

How I Met Your Mother. Being single in New York does not look like this.For example, the popular sitcom How I Met Your Mother couldn’t be further from the reality of being single and living in New York. If it were real, I’d be single and living in New York.

Mystery would be preferable to the fake images that taunt and tantalize us. If there was a way to scientifically measure how much hurt failing to live up to unrealistic expectations causes us, I am sure it would be high.

For more observations on images and envy, read “Things we want.”

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Odds and ends 11/6/2013

Patrick Deneen summarizes Alexis de Tocqueville’s foresight in the American Conservative:

Once democratic man recognizes his membership in “humanity” at large, he becomes devoted to the improvement of everyone—and no-one in particular. In a democratic age, shorn of all positions and status, a new and nearly universal passion for perfectibility comes to predominate—the improvement of society constantly in the name and belief in the ever-increasing democratic equality of all humanity. Only when the aristocratic order has been displaced, and the individual has been liberated from the old order, can “the human mind imagine the possibility of an ideal but always fugitive perfection.”

The liberation of humanity from all partial and mediating groups and memberships finally culminates in what Tocqueville famously calls “the tutelary State”—the rise of a new form of tyranny, “democratic despotism,” particularly chilling because it comes about not through the imposition of force and violence, but at the invitation of an individuated and weak democratic citizenry. No longer able to turn to the old orders and organizations to which he might once have belonged, “he naturally turns his eyes toward the huge entity which alone stands above the universal level of abasement”—the State—amid his individuated weakness.


Nine amendments to the Texas Constitution were put to the people Tuesday. Here’s how I voted:

  1. AGAINST
  2. FOR
  3. AGAINST
  4. FOR
  5. BLANK
  6. AGAINST
  7. AGAINST
  8. FOR
  9. FOR

All the amendments passed.

Coloradans pondered deeper issues Tuesday, such as whether to tax marijuana and whether to secede. The Hill reports:

The debate over secession is framed in rural vs. urban terms.

Weld County, located on the northern border of Colorado, is by far the most populated county, with more than 250,000 residents, to sign onto the measure.

Most of the other 10 other counties that will vote on the measure hold populations of less than 10,000 residents. Rural voters in Colorado gave Mitt Romney nearly 60 percent of their vote during the 2012 election.

...

Voters statewide will also cast their ballots on a marijuana tax, after Colorado became one of two states to legalize the drug for recreational use.

“Combine that with the state’s marijuana legalization initiative, and voters and activists in the more rural and conservative parts of the state feel like the state government has grown completely alien to them, and they no longer want to be a part of it,” [University of Denver political science professor Seth] Masket said.

If northern Coloradans vote to form their own state, they disown their Colorado citizenship. If they are successful, common sense dictates they not be allowed to vote on matters such as taxing marijuana that affect the state they voted to secede from.

Ironically, if Coloradans reject the marijuana tax, it will nullify the legalization effort. Social libertarians are in the awkward position of supporting a tax on their drugs, something libertarian Charles C. W. Cooke actually favors.

One of the reasons I don’t want a 51st state is because I like the symmetry of an even 50 states. There’s a workaround, however. While conservative enclaves split from liberal states and liberal enclaves split from conservative states, they can combine to form their own states, thereby reducing the necessity of changing the number of stars on the flag. Northern Colorado can join Nebraska and/or Wyoming. Western Maryland can join West Virginia. The District of Columbia (and Northern Virginia) can join Maryland. Puerto Rico can join Florida. Monolithic New England can form a superstate. By the way, it’s not fair that the 15 million people of Yankeeland get 12 senators, while the 27 million people of Texas get only two.


Ross Douthat writes on marijuana and gambling:

Both have been made possible by the same trend in American attitudes: the rise of a live-and-let-live social libertarianism, the weakening influence of both religious conservatism and liberal communitarianism, the growing suspicion of moralism in public policy.

And both, in different ways, illustrate the potential problems facing a culture pervaded by what the late sociologist Robert Bellah called “expressive individualism” and allergic to any restrictions on what individuals choose to do.

This is clearer in the case of casinos, whose consequences for the common good are straightforwardly disastrous. As the Institute for American Values report points out, the alliance of state governments and gambling interests is essentially exploitative, and the tax revenue casinos supply comes at the expense of long-term social welfare. Casinos tend to lower property values and weaken social capital in the places where they’re planted, they’re more likely to extract dollars from distressed communities than to spur economic development, and their presence is a disaster for the reckless and the addiction-prone.

Pot is a more complicated issue, given its essential harmlessness for many users and the crying need to lock up fewer Americans for nonviolent offenses. But one can support decriminalizing marijuana possession, as many states have done, while still doubting the prudence of legalizing (and, of course, taxing) its open manufacture and sale.

Whatever benefits legalization brings with it, it will almost certainly increase marijuana use, which has already risen sharply in the last decade. And as purely recreational as a joint may be for casual tokers, steady use isn’t always so harmless: it can limit educational attainment, and with it economic mobility, to an extent that mirrors the impact of growing up in a single-parent home.

I don’t recall the freedom to get stoned was anywhere in the Constitution. Don’t miss this insightful line:

Perhaps these costs are just the price we pay for liberty, in the same way that certain social liberals and libertarians regard the costs of family breakdown as a price worth paying for emancipation from sexual repression.

“Repression” is the birds and the bees. “Repression” is action and equal and opposite reaction. Lacking the ability to willfully destroy women’s ability to conceive was the norm for thousands of years.


Gay discrimination bill moves forward in the Senate, the Washington Post reports. Nihilists celebrate. No one mentions sexuality is mutable and not a fixed trait. “Discriminating” against foul behavior is not comparable to discriminating against skin pigment.

Most opponents, including Boehner, have focused their concerns on allegations that the legislation would benefit trial lawyers and have shied away from the morality and family-values questions that once dominated the issue.

“There’s been a softer tone, and there’s been a recognition that anti-gay politics that may have worked in 2000 and in 2004 don’t work anymore,” said Jeff Cook-McCormac, senior adviser to the American Unity Fund, a pro-gay-rights group funded by Republican mega-donors.

Substitute “Republican mega-donors” with “social liberals.”


The problem isn’t that Ken Cuccinelli is a social conservative, it’s that he’s a strident social conservative, David Brooks says. Strident how? Strident in the narrative the wicked Terry McAuliffe painted. So it’s not Cuccinelli’s stridency that burned him, but the false perception of stridency. Brooks suggests countering this by “toning down” a nonexistent policy assault on abortion “rights.”

There is no better modern example of gratuitous hatred than women and their male enablers who claim the gendered right to youth cleansing. Virginians deserve what they get.


“To hell with the middle,” Brent Bozell says. Yes, insofar as sycophantic appeals for their votes go. The “middle” are just liberals who are ashamed of the title.


Socialist Stuart Chase is credited with saying: “Common sense is that which tells us the world is flat.” This claim, if true, would bolster critiques of whatever claims “common sense” made in Chase’s day. But it isn’t true. Ships, the farther they sail away, sink further below the horizon, suggesting a convex—not a flat—surface of the world. Common sense says the world is curved. Common sense also says a centralized state economy will not be as prosperous, liberating, or fair as a free economy.


Texas women support Texas’ 20-week abortion ban 59-30. Wendy Davis doesn’t represent Texas women. Daniel Kuebler writes in Public Discourse:

It turns out that women are much more supportive of the fictitious “war on women” than men. This seems counterintuitive, at least to those immersed in radical feminist politics. However, when one considers how abortion on demand alters the fundamental sexual dynamics between men and women, it starts to make sense.

As Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker explain in Premarital Sex in America, the cost of sex in modern America is rather low. For women, in particular, changes in sexual expectations, widespread use of the pill, and abortion on demand all have reduced the cost of sex significantly. There is little social stigma associated with women who are sexually active and/or have multiple sex partners, and the risk of pregnancy and childbirth has been mitigated by both the pill and easy access to abortions. The cost to women now looks very similar to the cost to men, and, as a result, the young women of today are nearly as sexually active as the young men.

While feminists champion this leveling of the sexual playing field, the altered sexual calculus has actually placed women at a significant disadvantage. If women are more willing to engage in sexual activity, men are more than willing to play along—but they are likely to provide very little in return.

No-strings-attached sexual encounters have become the norm for young adults on college campuses, while dating and long-term commitment continue to fall by the wayside. Whom does this benefit?

As more sexually active women enter the marketplace, it is the young men that seem to be reaping the benefits, not women. For example, Regnerus and Uecker found that on college campuses in which women outnumber men (meaning there are more sexually active women in the marketplace), the women had a more negative view of the men on campus, they went on fewer dates, and received less commitment in return for sexual relations. What was meant to be the triumphant sexual liberation of women has turned college campuses into something that resembles a frat boy’s fantasy world. It is a world that leaves women isolated and lonely.

I laid it all out here.

Don’t this miss priceless nugget from Kuebler:

While the abortion issue is often cloaked in terms of choice, many women feel that their ability to choose actually has been taken away. Not by pro-lifers, but by men who abandoned them in their time of need or who emotionally or physically manipulated them into procuring an abortion. And for the men who choose manipulation, it is only a small step from coercion to outright deception and force. The recent Florida case in which a man deceived his girlfriend into taking a drug that induced a chemical abortion is a case in point. But if a woman can choose to abort her child, why can’t the father? That is exactly where the pro-choice mantra has led us.

“Remember, before the Affordable Care Act, these bad-apple insurers had free rein every single year to limit the care that you received, or used minor pre-existing conditions to jack up your premiums, or bill you into bankruptcy.” –President Obama

Lies. Only monopolies (created by government regulation and centralization) do whatever they want without fear of losing their customers. Competition in the free market and a fair justice system ensure “bad-apple insurers” don’t do what the President accuses them of doing.

“The genius Ivy League technocrats that a formerly self-governing citizenry apparently prefer to be ruled by have bet they can get away with wrecking the lives of millions of Americans whose only mistake was to make prudent and sensible arrangements for their own health-care needs.” –Mark Steyn

A conversation between Rep. Renee Ellmers and Kathleen Sebelius:

[Ellmers:] “And that is why health care premiums are increasing, because we are forcing them to buy things that they will never need. Thank you.”

[Sebelius:] “The individual policies cover families. Men often do need maternity care for their spouses and for their families, yes.”

“A single male, aged 32, does need maternity coverage. To the best of your knowledge, has a man ever delivered a baby?”

One size doesn’t fit all.

A wordsmithing (read lying) Jay Carney leaves glaring contradictions unresolved. Redaction in bold:

As the law says and as the president made clear in the statements that you cite, if you had insurance coverage on the individual market when the Affordable Care Act was passed into law and you liked that plan and you wanted to stay on it even though it didn’t meet the minimum standards that the Affordable Care Act would bring into place on January 1, 2014, you can keep that coverage. You’re grandfathered in.

In other words, “bad” insurance plans before March 2010 are permissible, but “bad” insurance plans after March 2010 are subject to the wonderful ministrations of Obamacare.

Since hardly anyone stays at the same company with the same health insurance his whole life, eventually everyone will succumb to Obamacare.

Kimberly Strassel writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Jeanne Shaheen doesn’t sound like a Democrat who just won a government-shutdown “victory.” Ms. Shaheen sounds like a Democrat who thinks she’s going to lose her job.

The New Hampshire senator fundamentally altered the health-care fight on Tuesday with a letter to the White House demanding it both extend the ObamaCare enrollment deadline and waive tax penalties for those unable to enroll. Within nanoseconds, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor had endorsed her “common-sense idea.” By Wednesday night, five Senate Democrats were on board, pushing for ... what’s that dirty GOP word? Oh, right. “Delay.”

After 16 long days of vowing to Republicans that they would not cave in any way, shape or form on ObamaCare, Democrats spent their first post-shutdown week caving in every way, shape and form.

How pathetic that Democratic senators who failed to do their jobs in 2010 when they passed Obamacare without reading it, and continue to fail to do their jobs in 2013 as Obamacare accrues victims, cede their legislative authority to a tyrant in a play for political cover so they can continue to fail to do their jobs in 2015 and beyond.

William Murchison turns his razor-like pen on planners:

A certain kind of personality, as I have hinted, believes with fervency in the uncanny ability of “experts” to prescribe and control economic inputs and outputs. The Harvard faculty is conspicuously of that kidney. Prof. Rogoff mentions 6 percent inflation as if he knew with certainty precisely the right dosage and precisely the right length of time to administer it. This is the fantasy of the centralist, the administrative-state acolyte who is confident always that knowledge and insight count for more than the whirl and tumult of the marketplace.

There have always been such people. There always will be. The trick is to keep them in their place by ignoring them, by insisting on the historic truth that choice in the free marketplace always delivers better results than direction from above. How would we know this? Well, from reading history. Or from looking around.


Ramesh Ponnuru and Rich Lowry speak for the GOP loser caucus in National Review:

The defunders often said that those who predicted their failure were “defeatists.” Yet it is they who have given in to despair. They are the ones who entertain the ideas that everything has gotten worse; that the last few decades of conservative thought and action have been for nothing; that engagement in politics as traditionally conceived is hopeless; that government programs, once begun, must corrupt the citizenry so that they can never be ended or reformed; that the country will soon be past the point of regeneration, if it is not there already.

This is not giving in to despair, but giving in to reality. In the universe I live in, Democrats scare the living daylights out of seniors by slandering Republican efforts to reform their unsustainable government benefits. People corrupted by addictive dependency cannot be relied upon to strive or sacrifice for the national interest.


Patrick Ryan of the American Spectator explains how pedophilia will be tolerated:

Modern Western society views the expression of sexuality as a primary component of human identity. As each autonomous individual can form his own happiness and welfare, sex is an essential component of human flourishing.

As sex leads to the creation of life, it is indeed an essential human act. Yet the West is currently trying to isolate sex as a pleasurable, inconsequential form of recreation. The paradox rests in the very fact that it becomes banal, while also life-affirming and essential to our identities.

Speaking of deviancy, CNN reports:

As the concept of open relationships rises in pop culture and political debates, some polyamorous families like the Holders and Mullins see an opportunity to go public and fight stereotypes that polyamory is just swinging, cheating or kinky sex.

It’s not just a fling or a phase for them. It’s an identity. They want to show that polyamory can be a viable alternative to monogamy, even for middle-class, suburban families with children, jobs and house notes. (emphasis mine)

“Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness?” No, no. License, Entitlement, and the pursuit of Identity.


Russell Moore on evangelism:

Without speaking to the conscience, and addressing what the sinner already knows to be true about the day of giving an account, there is not love, only the consigning of the guilty conscience to accusation and condemnation. If the church is right about the personhood of unborn children (and I think it is), then why would we not be “obsessed” about speaking for them, and for the women and men whose consciences are tyrannized by their past sins?

It is not good news to say to such consciences, “Well, we’re all brothers and sisters,” if what they feel in their psyches and read in their Bibles (and in their Catholic catechisms) is that those who commit such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. We must speak with tenderness and gentleness, but with an authoritative word from God, that there is a means of reconciliation. The burdened conscience doesn’t wish to hear “It’s all okay.” The burdened conscience is freed by “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Rom. 8:1).


“By supporting H.R. 15 I am strengthening my message: Addressing immigration reform in the House cannot wait. I am serious about making real progress and will remain committed to doing whatever it takes to repair our broken immigration system.” –Rep. David Valadao

“Doing whatever it takes,” or doing whatever?


I started reading C. S. Lovett’s book Dealing with the Devil after I wrote the allegory of the cobra. I was floored to find this description of the devil in the first chapter:

He was enamored with his own beauty, impressed with his wisdom, and exalted by the importance of his job. Though a created being, he deluded himself into thinking he could be “like the Most High.” The blinding power of self-affection is manifested when a created being thinks to replace his creator.

You would think I had written “Snakebitten” with this quote in mind, but I wasn’t aware of it until 3 days later! It gratifies me to no end to later discover the themes of my writing reflected in others’ work.


I did it first.


“Nine out of 10 writers, in my imaginary but plausible statistic, will tell you that the best thing about writing is ‘having written,’ which is politesse for being done with it so the little bugger isn’t gnawing at your brain anymore.” –Jeremy Lott

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Authoritarianism’s ideology

To whom does the future belong: Leftism, Islamism, or Americanism? That is the question Dennis Prager poses in his book Still the Best Hope, a strong defense of the “American way,” which is hardly recognizable in its current incarnation after a hundred years of progressive rot. The one thing in common these competing ideologies have is they propose to correct flawed human nature. None of them would be necessary if human beings were perfect, if we did not suffer on this earth, or if we did not make each other suffer.

The Left’s goal is material equality (because the root of all evil is material inequality). Islam’s goal is a worldwide caliphate under totalitarian sharia law (Islam means “submission”). Because both ideologies are unnatural and oppressive, they must be imposed by force. Leftists impose their vision by government diktat, Islamists by direct violence and intimidation.

Americanism is unique in that it requires no artifice, no imposition from on high. Under self-government, the institutions for keeping the peace are freely entered into and perpetuated by the people. The family and the church provide correction to children in their formative years, making them into good, moral people. As the Founders observed, none but good, moral people can govern themselves. The only oppression is that of the law of nature, the rule of God, but that is the case anywhere, at any time.

Is there a fourth possibility? Prager acknowledges the authoritarian model, but dismisses it out of hand. He observes, albeit briefly:

The Chinese model is based on the ability of a small group of people (the Chinese Communist Party in this case) to control a society. Confucianism, with its emphases on stability and hierarchy, may play some role in the ability of many Chinese to give up most personal freedoms for economic gain and a largely conflict-free society. But the Chinese government does not offer Confucianism to its own people, let alone to others.

Maybe, in its own interests, the Chinese government should offer Confucianism to the Chinese people. I would be amazed if the Chinese government had not looked into fostering ideologies that breed subservience—or, better, flat-out worship—of the state. If successful, a theology of the state would protect the regime from the rising Chinese middle class, who otherwise would be provoked to rebel when they are refused the right to determine the courses of their lives.

To be sure, there is no ideological threat from thugs in suits and uniforms that run China and other authoritarian regimes, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t competitors for the future of mankind. Myriad are people’s rationalizations for not crossing an overreaching state (e.g., Confucianism, pacifism, or simply fear). But none are as effective as worship of the state itself. You can enslave a people, make them dependent on you. That’s the easy part. But if they think, even suspect, that they don’t deserve it, that they didn’t earn it themselves—if they think they are capable of more than what you let them have—they will be dissatisfied and angry and liable to be caught up in an insurrection. The trick is to make them feel like they are contributing, to make them feel pride in what they are doing. You have to make them love their servitude.

The “efficient,” undemocratic ways in which authoritarian regimes lord over their people has apostles, notably columnist Tom Friedman of the New York Times. Statism adheres to no specific ideological principle. It accepts the premises of man’s flawed nature and the tensions between the individual and the community, and it emphasizes men’s need for masters who “know best.” Societies organized from the top down are dehumanized, likened to complex machines such as automobiles. Individuals are molded to perform specific roles (piston, valve, rotor, etc.). Experts in these matters call themselves “social engineers.” They look upon the mass of humanity and see not individuals created in the image of God, but interchangeable machine parts.

The results of authoritarianism are never good. Disregarding, for a moment, the obvious trampling on human rights, it is impossible to aggregate the dispersed corporate knowledge of a whole people in the minds of a few. Unidirectional, command-and-control societies regress because they don’t know what they don’t know. They attempt to build a future on what they do know, which exists further and further in the past. They squelch progress. Nevertheless, authoritarianism’s apostles argue, better to be united in slavery to the state than risk the potential for misery under liberty and free will.