Archive Page 2

The “Mere Flabbiness” of the Elites

[My philosophical friend Finiti has permitted me to reprint here this post from his own site (www.benfiniti.com).]

by Ben Finiti

I came across a passage which seems to describe in remarkably succinct terms the process of the “avant garde” elite’s degradation of our culture.  It is in a 1940 book on Aeschylus by the classical scholar Gilbert Murray.  He is contrasting his subject with the turmoil raised by the Sophists of Athens

“The development is one which has often been repeated in ages of great intellectual activity.  Vigorous minds begin to question the convention in which they have been brought up and which they have now outgrown.  They reject first the elements in them which are morally repulsive, then the parts that are obviously incredible; they try to reject the husk and preserve the kernel, and for a time reach a far higher moral and intellectual standard than the generations before them or the duller people of their own time.

“Then, it seems, something is apt to go wrong.  Perhaps a cynic would say – and it would be hard to confute him – the element
of reason in man is so feeble a thing that he cannot stand successfully except when propped in the stiff harness of convention. At any rate there is always apt to come a later generation which has carried doubt and skepticism much farther and finds the kernel to consist only of inner layers of husk and then more husk, as the place of George IV’s heart, according to Thackeray, was supplied by waistcoats and then more waistcoats.

“First come inspiration and the exaltation of breaking false barriers: at the end comes the mere flabbiness of having no barriers left to break and no talent except for breaking them. ” Continue reading ‘The “Mere Flabbiness” of the Elites’

NEA and The Party: The NCLB Saga

You probably read the story: “NEA Slams Obama’s School Reform Plan”.  This is a type of story that occurs predictably after every election:  “Supporters unhappy with something ‘their’ president proposes”. 

 Groups such as unions, that fight for their members’ interests, must inevitably find themselves opposing actions they think are detrimental.  That’s the advocacy business.

 And everyone knows NEA is such a group, right?

 The question is anything but rhetorical.  Consider the ongoing saga of NCLB, the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001. Continue reading ‘NEA and The Party: The NCLB Saga’

Rene Girard, scapegoats, and the next Holocaust

One of the most original thinkers of our time, Rene Girard, has an excellent article in First Things (one of the most important publications of our time), entitled “On War andApocalypse“.

He reviews his theory of mimetic rivalry and scapegoating, and then offers some related reflections on modern Islamism.  It is most thought-provoking, as RG often is.  And this is clearer than much of his writing (he is, after all, a Frenchman.)  Continue reading ‘Rene Girard, scapegoats, and the next Holocaust’

Leszek Kolakowski, 1927-2009

(by Mister Moleman’s philosophical friend Ben Finiti)

One of the greatest of modern thinkers passed away last month.  Leszek Kolakowski was rightly known for his searing critique of Communism, embodied in his magisterial 1978 survey, the 3-volume Main Currents of Marxism.  The 20th century had crushed his every favorable illusion about Communism (as it did for virtually every other Pole).  He exposed the ugly philosophical reality of Marxism as thoroughly as Alexander Solzhenitsyn exposed its hideous physical reality.  With Main Currents and Gulag Archipelago on a bookshelf, and only The Black Book of Communism between them, no library really needs another volume on the subject. Continue reading ‘Leszek Kolakowski, 1927-2009’

NEA, Past and Present

Mike Antonucci, my cyber-friend and the watchdog of America’s largest union, has asked if I have any thoughts on the recent NEA RA.  Mike, you should be careful what you ask for.

 This NEA Convention seems to have generated little real news.  The ongoing organizational schizophrenia that has driven NEA for the past two decades continues to fade into the background. Continue reading ‘NEA, Past and Present’

A Simple Question

Why do Democrats (the McGovernite New Democratic Party, that is) so regularly beat up on our allies (see Hillary Clinton here getting tough with Israel), while turning on all their considerable charm towards the regimes that despise us the most (Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Castro)? Continue reading ‘A Simple Question’

Obama’s NEA-Style Summit

I have just read the description of President Obama’s Financial Responsibility Summit (if I got the name right).  It was disturbingly familiar.

It was an NEA conference writ large (or at least upscale). Continue reading ‘Obama’s NEA-Style Summit’

Conservatism, the Enlightenments, and Religion

by Mister M’s friend Ben Finiti

The Enlightenment of the 18th Century was the birth of the movement to articulate a rational basis for society and the freedom of the individual. 

 

The French Enlightenment (Descartes, Rousseau, Voltaire, Robespierre)  was directed against the church, seeing religion as mankind’s primary oppressor.  And it took a strongly ideological form from the start, being largely ungrounded in experience of local institutions that actually grew a sense of individual freedom.

 
The British Enlightenment (Locke, Hume, Smith, Burke) saw its task as the creation of a theoretical framework for the balancing of individual freedom and community interests.  Based on common sense and actual experience of freedom, Continue reading ‘Conservatism, the Enlightenments, and Religion’

Who Is Killing The Unions?

Unionism in the private sector is not just down; it’s almost out.  Membership has been falling steadily for half a century and is now circling the drain, with membership at 7.5% of the workforce.  In 1953 it was 36%.

 

This disastrous decline has been partly masked by the simultaneous growth of unions in the public sector.  While private unions sank, public ones climbed from near-zero in the 1950’s to around 36%, where it has held steady since 1980.  Decline has also been disguised by the growing political power of the union movement, as its electoral organizing skills have improved even as membership organizing has languished.

 

Why the decline?  Why have private sector workers stopped joining unions?

 

The unions have a ready answer:  it’s too hard to organize because employers cheat.  They scare and intimidate and fire workers who try to organize. Continue reading ‘Who Is Killing The Unions?’

Fathers of Daughters

A friend of mine used to theorize that all conservatism, and therefore all defense of society, rests on the fathers of daughters – FODs, as he called them.

 

He explained that it is only when one has children that one begins to recognize how fragile is the future, how dangerous the present, and how great our responsibility to protect the vulnerable, such as children. 

 

The problem is that women, for the most part, tend to believe that the world is dangerous only by accident, rather than as a basic, natural condition.  My friend claimed that he had never met a woman who would not agree with the statement that “People are basically good.”  And increasingly many men agree with them.

Continue reading ‘Fathers of Daughters’

One Sermon, One Sunday; Sen. Obama in Church

 

As I ponder Barack Obama sitting in church listening to his pastor’s hate-filled sermons, I cannot help but think of my mother.  I imagine her sitting in the next pew.  I know what she would have done.   Continue reading ‘One Sermon, One Sunday; Sen. Obama in Church’


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