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U.S. right-wingers like to use Sarkozy as a rhetorical bludgeon, showing that Europe is moving toward the U.S. rather than vice versa. I wonder if this will cause any of their little pea brains to short-circuit. ~Dave Roberts

Via Yglesias

This comes in response to news not only that Nicolas Sarkozy supports introducing a carbon tax, but also proposes putting levies on non-Kyoto-ratifying countries’ imports.  Not very Bush-like or “pro-American,” is it? 

But the Sarkophiles don’t care that much about his views on industrial and environmental policy.  They will overlook this the same way they have overlooked every daffy Tony Blair domestic policy for a decade.  Yes, some have enthused over Sarkozy’s supposed interest in deregulation, but the thing that Sarkophiles really like about him is that he strikes a pro-American pose and drives French leftists up the wall.  In this way, the admiration for Sarkozy is like the conservative admiration showered on Giuliani.  Sure, it makes no sense, but that’s how it works. 

Since he has started taking a hard line with Iran, they are positively swooning, and this is the key to understanding all present-day talk of “pro-American” and “anti-American” sentiment in Europe.  According to this view, the people who wanted to keep us out of Iraq were hostile to us, and those who cheered us on and offered to help were our friends.  Looking back on it, it sounds like a sick joke.  Five years later, given all that has happened in Iraq, you’d think this kind of thinking wouldn’t exist anymore, but it is thriving.  The difference is that the interventionists dub those who support a strike on Iran as our friends, while vilifying those governments and countries that tell us that this is a crazy idea. 

As to whether a Thompson entry into the race would harm Romney’s chances of winning the nomination, of course it would. His entry will also make the hill steeper for McCain and Giuliani. ~Dean Barnett

Let’s start out with the positives: Fred Thompson is a pretty decent actor, and as I recall he was mostly all right when he was in the Senate.  Of course, right there is a big problem: he hasn’t been in Washington as an elected official in a few years.  He is just about as fresh in the political world today as that other Thompson running for President (Tommy), and he has less of a record to run on.  What exactly is his election slogan?  Is it “I replaced Al Gore in the Senate, but I am not Al Gore”?  Obviously, he has followed the herd on foreign policy and has lately even distinguished himself by jumping on the “Libby is a victim” bandwagon, so there are many reasons why I would be unenthusiastic about a Fred Thompson run. 

But the idea that he would have some sort of major impact on the race one way or another is bizarre.  Does Fred Thompson have some vast army of loyalists that no one has ever noticed before?  How did he suddenly supposedly become a major player in the GOP, when he has lately been “that funny guy who is in Law & Order“?  Saying that Thompson’s entry would “make the hill steeper” for anyone is a bit like saying that the entry of, say, Larry Craig of Idaho would throw the entire field into disarray.  I’m sure this sort of talk is flattering to Fred Thompson and his fans to think so, but it simply isn’t true.  No one thinks that a surprise Max Cleland campaign would create big problems for Democratic candidates, and no one is even suggesting such a thing because it would be so bizarre and pointless.  Besides, Fred is probably making more on Law & Order than he would if he even managed to win, and he almost certainly would have a better time acting than being the guy saddled with all the woes that the next President will inherit.     

Just to keep matters in balance, let me point out that although it is mostly the Left that hates individualism—remember, socialism means that we, humanity, are all just one organism—the Right’s hostility toward it is no less virulent.  Just recall that both Hitler and Stalin hated individualism, in any of its varieties. ~Tibor Machan

Actually, Hitler and Stalin hated personal liberty and they hated individualism.  To confuse the two is typical of people who think that individualism is somehow a good thing.  Also, Hitler was a radical nationalist who endorsed the supreme importance of labour and encouraged the collaboration of the state and industry in a state capitalist economy.  Only in the fever dreams of libertarians does that place him on “the Right” or associate him with conservatives of any stripe.  If this is how Mr. Machan begins his tiresome attack, you can just imagine how much worse it gets. 

The push was evident in a Baltimore radio advertisement targeting African American listeners that was sponsored by the Washington-based National Black Republican Association. The ad identifies Martin Luther King Jr. as a Republican and pins the founding of the Ku Klux Klan on Democrats.

One woman says: “Democrats passed those black codes and Jim Crow laws. Democrats started the Ku Klux Klan.”

“The Klan?” her friend replies. “White hoods and sheets?”

First woman: “Democrats fought all civil rights legislation from the 1860s to the 1960s. Democrats released those vicious dogs and fire hoses on blacks.” ~The Washington Post (9/21/06)

To its credit (and a good sign that Steele is fairly savvy), Michael Steele’s campaign denounced the ad.  Now the ad has the virtue of being mostly true, as far as it goes, and I suppose I can understand why black Republicans think this is a pretty withering indictment of the Democratic Party in the past.  It is presumably for reasons such as these that some relative few black people become Republicans today; it is certainly why the GOP had a great many more black supporters in the past.  And if the Democratic Party were anything like what it was before, say, the 1980s, there might be some point to bringing this up now.  Unlike the GOP, which continues its fine traditions of plutocracy, collaboration with corporations, executive abuses of power, wars of aggression and the consolidation of wealth and power, the Democrats of yore are no more, as some have mentioned recently.  Most of the voters became Republicans in the hope that there they would find some refuge from the radicalism that had swept over their party.  Obviously, it had everything to do with the civil rights revolution and the massive intrusion of the federal government into the affairs of the states and the people.  How did it become the government’s business how I conduct business at my firm, who I hire and fire and why?  Egalitarian claptrap and the use of coercion.  A different generation of conservatives, not necessarily all Republicans (and not representative of a lot of GOP politicians), saw this process as a great leap forward for the forces of consolidation and unconstitutional government, and opposed it at least for this reason. 

The move of these Democratic voters to the other side was a choice made almost out of necessity, and has not really had terribly happy results; instead of remaking the GOP into a more Jeffersonian and authentically decentralist-populist party, the GOP has absorbed these voters and made them into reliable supporters of their age-old commitments to consolidated nationalism, centralism, state capitalism and imperialism.  It has reeducated many of them to believe that conservatism is a doctrine that preaches egalitarianism against the “real racists” of the left. 

Of course, it should be noted, progressive and leftist racism has always existed, and many of the racial codes instituted in the late 19th and early 20th century were the fruits of progressives in the South and elsewhere; these codes, along with an enthusiasm for eugenics and sterilisation of the “unfit,” did catch on with the cutting-edge progressives of their day.  To the extent that they departed from a civilised and humane modus vivendi in the Era of Good Feelings, they represented a final revolutionary assault on the remnants of the Old South.  Jim Crow law were the products of progressivism and populism, and if there is one thing to take away from the story of Jim Crow it is that mass democracy and appeals to “the people” can, when unchecked by higher principles, lead to manifest injustices.  But throughout this period the Democrats remained far and away the conservative party of this country, which changed when the party leadership took the path of social engineering, centralised planning and rationalisation and often left their constituents’ interests behind.    

One can also make a credible argument that the Dems today exploit their black voters with a cynicism equalled only by the way the GOP exploits its Christian voters, and that it does not serve the real interests of black voters to be so fully committed to one party.  Perhaps black voters should heed those sorts of arguments.  But I, for one, find tiresome the frequent invocations of the KKK and Jim Crow by Republicans, black or white (especially in the context of foreign policy!).  Not a month goes by, it seems, that we are not treated to some gaseous windbag holding forth on the former KKK membership of Robert Byrd.  Okay, fine, we get it, we know all about it.  But this observation is usually recently made in the context of attacking Byrd for his denunciations of the war in Iraq or executive abuses of power; the ”Byrd was a Klansman” meme has a high correlation to the defense of atrocious, unconstitutional policies that used to make these very same conservatives sick when Bubba was engaged in something similar.   

I am terribly weary of how elements in the GOP, including many in the leadership, seem to have taken pride that it used to be the progressive, left-wing party in this country.  (In this sense, the dalliance with conservatives over the last five decades has been the odd exception, the interlude between the main acts of progressivism.)  Besides the obvious two-faced nature of this hostility to the old Democratic South, whence comes an important part of their present political power and their most loyal voters (most of whose ancestors were the very Democrats being slammed in such attacks), it perpetuates the weird support for egalitarian politics that has become a virtual requirement in GOP politics over the last 20 years.  It is, of course, fun to hit affirmative action for being discriminatory (and there are perfectly good arguments as to why affirmative action mostly harms it alleged beneficiaries without ever needing to mention equality), as Republicans now do in criticisms of progressives, but historically conservatives have not been quick to attack structures of inequality because we fundamentally do not believe in equality as a guiding principle in politics.  That is basic.  (In truth, many conservatives today attack affirmative action because it works to the disadvantage of our constituencies and to the advantage of others; some may object to any kind of spoils system, but many object to being on the losing side, which is predictable.)  Not only do we assume that there will be, perhaps sometimes even should be, a certain degree of natural inequality in the world, but we are wary of the kinds of coercion and upheaval required to eradicate it if, indeed, it proves to be unjust. 

The shift towards a belief in equality has been marked, in my view, with the steady erosion and deterioration of conservative thought, as modern conservatives have been forced to do some deft maneuvering to make sense of their current egalitarianism in light of a tradition that has always been, almost by definition, anti-egalitarian.

On the Foley matter, Snow punted, telling reporters: “The House has to clean up the mess, to the extent there is a mess.” ~The International Herald-Tribune

Mess?  What mess?  I don’t see any mess!  This Snow response is a bit like Rumsfeld’s “stuff happens” or “freedom is untidy” remarks about the looting in Baghdad.

He pretends that the word Logos can mean either “the word” or “reason,” which it can in Greek but never does in the Bible, where it is presented as heavenly truth. ~Christopher Hitchens

Which is more annoying: someone who doesn’t know enough history to comment intelligently on something, or an atheist telling Christians what the Bible “really” says?  It’s something of a toss-up.  I tend to lean towards the former, but both are pretty maddening. 

Of course Logos in the Bible can refer back to reason, and in the Gospel of St. John it refers back precisely to the Stoic universal logos that Hellenistic Judaism had taken up in the time of Philo of Alexandria and which the Johannine Gospel adopted for the famous Prologue.  The identification of universal Reason with God’s word (memra in Hebrew) had already taken place in the first century B.C.–if Hitchens doesn’t like it, he can take it up with the great Jewish philosopher.  There are undoubtedly plenty of places elsewhere in Scripture where logos refers back to God’s word where it means His commandment, but anyone with a rudimentary grasp on patristics would know that when Pope Benedict uses logos in this way he is drawing on the word-play that St. Gregory the Theologian used that incorporated all the different meanings of logos in his homilies and the tradition of Justin Martyr that interprets classical philosophy as a preparation for the Gentiles through the use of reason as a way of participating in Christ the Word.  Indeed, the very basis of Catholic ecumenical theology rests on the similar assumption that anything true or reasonable in other religions represents their participation in the Logos and therefore makes them worthy of a certain respect.  Hitchens probably does not know much of this, since he does not bother to acquaint himself with the finer points of doctrines that he finds inherently offensive and absurd, which is yet another reason why the man ought to remain quiet on topics such as these.   

For the foreseeable future, the bonds of community must be particular bonds, and the very character of a regime requires such bonds. The essential reason for this fact is that liberal democracy privileges discord and establishes majority rule as the principle of decision making in the political sphere. In order to sustain this institutionalization of conflict, there must be a strong sense of commong belonging. There are costs inherent in this regime, prices to pay; the regime requires, in particular, that when minorities are overruled they recognize the legitimacy of decisions made by the representatives of their adversaries. This coast is bearable and is borne in Western regimes for two reasons: (1) because these democratic regimes are also liberal (and the liberal rule limits the scope and cost of the democratic rule); and (2) because of the existence of communitarian bonds forged by national unity. There are of course counterexamples: Canada and Belgium, which are divided into two communities and which tinker and feel their way toward viable solutions; and a number of African states in which tribal rivalries and the absence of a true nation are major obstacles to the establishment of, and respect for, liberal-democratic rules. ~Philippe Beneton, Equality By Default

Beneton is a joy to read. Here he makes a point that I have stressed in the past, and which would not have been entirely unfamiliar to early generations of Americans, for whom a homogenous population was essential to the survival of a republic. What republics and democracies have in common in spite of their significant differences as types of regime is the need for common identity and political consensus. (This tends to produce a bland style of compromise politics in which there are no stark alternatives, but also fewer chances of political disagreements erupting into civil war.) When a common identity is lacking, or political consensus breaks down, democracy is a fast track to civil strife and bloodshed, and this is truest of those societies in which tribal and ethnic loyalties retain greater power.

Democracies that pride themselves on their ethnic and racial diversity and actually allow ethnicity and race to become politicised and a marker of political identity will sooner or later go the way of a Bolivia or an Ivory Coast as tribal and racial consciousness becomes the banner for mass mobilisation and/or supremacism combined with violence. For a democratic system to succeed at all, these identities should not be suppressed (they will not disappear, but simply take on more radical and destructive forms) but be superseded by some common national identity that incorporates all members of the political community. However, I cannot stress enough that this common national identity must be based in the history, the people and the land of the nation to which all newcomers are joining themselves; if the overarching national identity is ideological in nature, it will not last much more than two generations without suffering significant internal strife.

All of this is why either the thorough political assimilation of immigrants or the reduction of levels of immigration is essential to future stability of the American political system. The alternatives are a breakdown in political consensus, a loss of shared identity and the rise of a more aggressive tribal politics.

Democratic elections, even in the managerial age, are always affairs of identity politics, as everyone chooses candidates based not on what the candidates say but on how closely they resemble you, the voter. Perhaps this is why some people could describe Clinton without irony as “the first black President,” because most black Americans could identify with him out of whatever shared cultural habits or references they may have held in common. It is certainly why evangelicals embraced George “Christ Is My Favourite Philosopher” Bush, since it was not because of any striking or distinctive religious conservative credentials that they flocked to the man; it was the personal story of accepting Christ that resonated with many evangelicals, which may help explain their otherwise baffling loyalty to the man. As these examples show, identification with a candidate does not always need to be strictly ethnic or racial, but we would be kidding ourselves if we denied that it was a significant factor, even when we are supposed to think that it “shouldn’t” matter.

The Ivory Coast in particular was once something close to a model African democratic success story: it was democratically governed, relatively prosperous for West Africa, multiethnic and generally peaceful, but also a magnet for foreign labour from the surrounding nations because of its relative prosperity. Pressures began to build to define Ivoirite, i.e., Ivorianness, vis-a-vis neighbouring countries, which aggravated ethnic resentments, which was followed by President Gbagbo’s writing about the superiority of his tribe and stoking anti-foreign and specifically anti-Fasoan hatred among his kinsmen. Northern Ivorians took this ill, which created the conditions for the attempted coup that sparked the war.

The “return of the tribes” happened all right, and Mr. Brooks’ precious democracy did not smooth out the rough edges of Ivorian politics, but instead provoked an attempted coup against Gbagbo and made Ivorian political conflict–which had already been increasingly organised along tribal and ethnic lines–into an ethnic war aggravated by the Muslim-Christian division of the country. “Melting pots,” even if they have actually succeeded in assimilating new populations, can themselves melt down and break, and the more large numbers of unassimilated people–people who may not want to assimilate–that a country takes in puts that much more stress on the capacity of any country to absorb and incorporate the newcomers. If assimilation is simply assumed rather than actively pursued as policy and as a social rule, it will not work nearly as well, leaving whole swathes of the country increasingly isolated from the rest.

Fears about security are turning Baghdad’s once bustling streets into ghost bazaars. It’s something never seen since the establishment of the modern State of Iraq in 1921.

Fear and unease on the part of both consumers and merchants means that the vigorous buying and selling that once went on until late at night now stops by mid-afternoon.

Everywhere is hit - the Iraqi capital’s best-known marketplaces like the al-Safafeer Souq with its traditional, popular, and cultural goods; the al-Ghazl Souq which specializes in birds and animals; Souq al-Kutub, the celebrated book market; and Souq al-Shorja, the city’s biggest wholesale marketplace. ~Monsters and Critics

Via Antiwar

At The Corner, Michael Rubin believes he has found the magic bullet to defend the ridiculous terms “Islamic fascist” and Islamofascist:

Is Islamism Totalitarian? [Michael Rubin]

These prominent Muslim intellectuals and writers think so.It makes the criticism of President Bush by some American pundits for using the term Islamic fascism seem, well, silly.  


Why, Salman Rushdie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, among others–ever the paragons of defining normative Islam–have declared Islamism (as opposed, I guess, to plain vanilla Islam) to be totalitarian.  Along with a lot of other standard left-liberal rhetoric, they declare:

We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity, and secular values for all.

That’s all very predictable, but it suggests that they would likely see  any dogmatic religion that makes extensive demands on its believers to be totalitarian in many respects.  This tends to undermine their assessment of something as totalitarian–which, if properly used, refers to the total integration of state and society (as it was originally used) or, as it is used more conventionally, the abolition of any and all barriers to the control of the state that is undertaken in most cases for ideological reasons.  Islamism and, indeed, Islam do make totalising claims about all spheres of life and their strict adherents would seek to implement those claims through government coercion if and when they obtain power, so there is reason to describe them as totalitarian.  But this has next to nothing to do with fascism. 

Indeed, if we look at the historic fascist regimes, particularly the regime in Italy, we look in vain for precisely this kind of totalising interference in every aspect of life.  As I have suggested before, to elide fascism and Islamism is basically to insult the name of fascism.  It could be argued that referring to someone as an Islamic fascist, while rhetorically useful, is even less accurate because it minimises the nature of the threat by comparing it with the relatively unthreatening and weak Fascist regime of Italy.  Totalitarianism, a term invented by the Italians, never fully existed in Fascist Italy in the way that we use it now.  The connections between the totalitarianism of secret police, control of the public through propaganda and fear, and massive state coercion and violence we associate with Nazi Germany and the USSR and fascism in Italy are very tenuous.  In any case, the two terms are not syonymous, even if we argue that a generic fascism is totalitarian. 

Next, one might ask why Ms. Ali and Mr. Rushdie would take this view.  It could have something to do with their hostility to most forms of normative Islam and their personal negative experiences at the receiving end of hatred and threats from Islamic revolutionaries and fundamentalists.  Another signatory is Ibn Warraq, author of Why I Am Not A Muslim, which ought to rather preclude defining him as a “Muslim intellectual” or Muslim writer.   

It might be that secular Muslims who see eye-to-eye with Bernard Henri Levy (another signatory of this “Muslim intellectual” statement) may not have much more authority in describing Islamism definitively as totalitarian than any other Westerner.  In fact, I think the description of “Islamism” as totalitarian is accurate, but it tells us nothing about whether the term “Islamic fascist” is accurate.  The differences between generic term “totalitarian” and the specific term ”fascist” are essential to stating and understanding things clearly.  To say that something is totalitarian (to continue to abuse a word that virtually no one understands) is not necessarily to say that it is fascist, which makes Mr. Rubin’s remark seem all the more facile and, yes, silly, unless he is prepared to start calling them Islamocommies as well.  Islamocommie does roll off the tongue more easily, but it would be just as stupid.

More basically, this is a very strange argument for Mr. Rubin to be making.  He seems to think that if he can find a few secular Muslims, Muslims in exile from their native lands or ex-Muslims who already share the ideology of liberal modernity and who also happen to agree that Islamism is totalitarian that he has somehow proved the point.  Of course, if finding Muslims to back your position on something was the key to success in argument, opponents of the terms Islamofascist and “Islamic fascist” have even more Muslim witnesses–on the order of one billion.  Rubin’s is a preposterous argument on every level, which is understandable, since defending such a preposterous term as Islamofascist should require equally preposterous arguments.

Martin Hendry, a senior lecturer in astronomy at Glasgow University and member of the IAU, said: “Unless the science underlying this is rigorous, how can we expect to agree on a definition that will be not only understood by ourselves, but other forms of life if and when we encounter them?” ~Scotland on Sunday

I know I wake up in the middle of the night wondering, ”Will the alien visitors understand our system of defining planets?”  Don’t you?  My guess is that if we ever come across other intelligent forms of life somewhere in the galaxy, they would immediately have nothing to do with us if they knew how ridiculous we were capable of being over defining the number of planets in our own solar system.  For the sake of future interstellar goodwill, the IAU needs to stop meddling with a perfectly decent, arbitrary number of planets.   

When the IAU started fiddling with the definitions of what it meant to be a planet, I suspected nothing good could come from it.  Then, after the brief “pluton” compromise–which all other scientists hated because it infringed on their own plutonian terms–we found that Pluto had been cast down to “dwarf planet” status.  Now others are (sort of) going after Neptune:

Harold Weaver, from the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and a New Horizons project scientist, said: “Since many ‘Plutinos’, including Pluto, cross Neptune’s orbit, I’d say Neptune’s neighbourhood still needs some clearing.”  

This is, of course, completely logical given the guidelines used to demote Pluto to “dwarf planet.”  But what would we call Neptune?  Would it fall under the category of “gas giant-with-cluttered-orbit”?  Bit of a mouthful.  But it is time that somebody draw a line somewhere to stop this madness by making an appeal to the beautiful arbitrariness of tradition.  Pluto was declared a planet 90 years ago, and in those ninety years we have since discovered that it has a moon (or, for the anti-Plutonians out there, a sizeable neighbour).  Pitiful little Mercury doesn’t even have a moon, nor does Venus, so why pick on Pluto because it’s so small?  It sounds like interplanetary bullying to me.  Ninety years may not be much in the world of astronomy, or even in human history, but it’s long enough to establish a fine tradition.  If this means that we have to make makeshift categories to accommodate Ceres, Charon and the abominably nicknamed Xena, we should do so, but what is unnecessary to change is unnecessary to change.     

Why isn’t a form of the argumentum ad Naziam considered a fallacy when debating war, just as the reductio ad Hitlerum is fallacious when arguing with an opponent whose position you reject?  Why isn’t there some sort of corollary of Godwin’s Law for arguments about war?  It would prevent a whole host of bad or tendentious arguments from being made. 

Thus, under this corollary, when your first response to the Iranian nuclear weapons program is, “We have to stop the new Hitler!” your credibility ought to be drastically reduced by, say, 50%.  If you persist in this line of argument, your credibility will decrease geometrically each time you make this claim.  Under this rule, each time your first response to any argument against the evils of war or against going to war is, “But what about the Nazis?” your credibility will likewise be drastically reduced.  I think this corollary could also be extended to cover false alarms over “new Holocausts” and genocide in general. 

The basic premise of this is that if your first instinct is to compare every situation and every moral problem to the problem of Nazism, you really haven’t very much to contribute because you apparently cannot or will not see things except in terms of one conflict with one set of circumstances that blind you to the rest of reality.  The tendency to rely on the argumentum ad Naziam hints that you may be unaware of the fact that we are not, in fact, at war with the Nazis any longer or that the Nazis are all dead.  It is liable to make you support horrendous arguments for how wars should be waged (see argument from war crimes) by saying things like, “Well, if we could torch Dresden, we can certainly blow up a few villages…” or “If it worked in fighting the Nazis, it must be okay…” or “I suppose you wouldn’t have been willing to lay waste to German cities to fight the Nazis, eh, would you, Nazi-lover?”  These are not serious, moral arguments.  They are the complaints of people who find themselves at odds with their moral tradition and the moral authorities which they purport to acknowledge and respect; they are the complaints of people who have become so accustomed to making excuses for government and the abuses of power that they no longer have their right bearings when it comes to questions of war.  They are the complaints of people who frequently endorse unjust wars and then wrap themselves up in their “moral tradition” to find some tenuous rationale for what they have done, so they are naturally offended when anyone happens to draw attention to the moral deficiency of their position.  

People are fed up with the petty partisanship and angry bickering in Washington. ~Joe Lieberman

Derb - The ghost of Erik Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn moves me to find a different, more sad, meaning in the Montenegro vote. This signals the true and final demise of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. When my decks are cleared, one of these days, I’m going to take up the cause of marshalling a “two cheers for the Hapsburgs” argument for NR. Certainly one can make the case that the 20th century would have been lovelier with it than without it.

Update: A couple readers offer the narrowly factual objection that neither Serbia nor Montenegro were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. To which I say: this is precisely the sort of nuanced point my future defense of the Austro-Hungarian Empire would take into account! I do know that the Hapsburgs wanted the S&Ms in their empire — and they would have been lucky to be in it! Anyway, I shall hit the books harder before venturing further down this path. ~Jonah “Lie For a Just Cause” Goldberg, The Corner

Taking the easy shot at Goldberg’s remarkable ignorance would be too simple. So instead I have two points. Assuming he was a ghost, Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s spirit would not be talking to Jonah Goldberg under any circumstances, unless it was to scare him out of the National Review offices. It is more likely he is residing in the reflected glory of the Beatific Vision, or so we can hope. Okay, here’s a third point: Kuehnelt-Leddihn would be horrified by the Montenegrin vote because of its democratic and nationalistic character. That is what a real K-L reader would take away from the story immediately. Identitarianism was bad enough for K-L, but identitarianism based on a fairly insubstantial national identity would have to be even worse! The fact that the independence movement is led by a crook and monumental swindler in Djukanovic doesn’t help at all. As a committed Kuehnelt-Leddihnist, I won’t stand for Jonah Goldberg lowering the name of the great man with such preposterous posts.

Update: I encourage all people of Serbia-Montenegro (it’s still one country at the moment), their kin in this country and everyone with any respect for this people to give Goldberg a lot of grief for dismissively referring to their folk as “S&Ms,” which can only have been intended as a tasteless joke. And there is nothing worse than facetious admiration of the Habsburgs. Why only two cheers?

A liberal Democrat is proposing that Congress censure President George W. Bush for authorizing domestic eavesdropping.

“The president has broken the law and, in some way, he must be held accountable,” said the Democrat, Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. He spoke in an interview Sunday.

A censure resolution would, in effect, simply scold the president. Such a resolution has been used just once in U.S. history - against Andrew Jackson in 1834.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., called the proposal “a crazy political move” that would weaken the United States in time of war.

Feingold’s five-page resolution will be introduced today. It contends that Bush violated the law when, on his own, he set up the eavesdropping program within the National Security Agency following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. ~AP (via

It’s not much, but I suppose it’s at least something.

We praise Christ’s Apostles as bright stars illumining the ends of the world, glorious Philemon, Onesimus, Archippus, and with them, wise Apphia, crying: Pray unceasingly in behalf of us all.

Archippus was one of the Seventy. The Apostle Paul mentions him in his Epistles to the Colossians (4:17) and to Philemon (2), calling him his fellow-soldier in the battle. The Christians’ gathering-place for prayer in the town of Colossae was in the house of Philemon. The Apostle Paul, writing to Philemon, calls this ‘the Church in thy house’. This was in the time when the apostles were consecrating their disciples to the episcopate - some to permanent sees and others as missionaries, travelling to various places. Philemon was one of these latter. Apphia, Philemon’s wife, remained to serve the house-church with fasting. At the time of a feast of the pagan goddess Artemis, all the faithful in Colossae were, as was their custom, gathered at prayer in the house of Philemon. The pagans came to hear of this gathering, rushed in on them and seized all the Christians. They flogged Archippus, Philemon and Apphia as their leaders, then buried them up to the waist in the ground and stoned them. Philemon and Apphia died of this, but they took Archippus out of the hole barely alive and left him for the children to play with. They took knives and stabbed him all over, and thus this fellow-soldier of Paul’s in the battle made a good end of his earthly road. ~St. Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue from Ochrid

I’m glad Bruce brought up Schumpeter, for it is he, rather than Schumacher, who ought to be the patron economist of crunchy conservatism. Not only did Schumpeter argue that capitalism undermined the very social institutions which gave it birth and guarded its existence, leading to socialism, he pointed out that universal rationalization through cost accounting exposed more natural ordering structures—the classically understood “ties that bind”—to a brutal new calculus in which they did not perform well at all. Commitment to kin, community, and place entail making heavy economic sacrifices and provide benefits not easily entered on a balance sheet. For Schumpeter, the key piece of evidence for his theory was declining birth rates in industrialized nations. As a result, he argued, we have created a new species of “homo economicus” which has lost “the only sort of romance and heroism that is left”—the romance and heroism of “working for the future irrespective of whether or not one is going to harvest the crop oneself.” ~Caleb Stegall, Crunchy Cons

This is an important corrective for many a libertarian and “conservative” who will refer to “creative destruction” as if it were a good and highly desirable thing and invoke Schumpeter as if he were a proponent of the social and moral disintegration that he observed at work in such a system. What these people seem to forget, or never knew, is that prophets of “creative destruction” share more with nihilists and anarchists than with any sort of civilised human being. It was Bakunin, after all, who said, “The passion for destruction is also a creative passion.”

I do not have a high degree of hope for any version of movement conservatism, towards which I remain skeptical. I put much more stock in what amounts to monasticism, in the broadest sense, which includes all of the crunchy virtues Rod discusses and more, though in a very natural and inarticulate way. This would include the many lay movements in the Church, local economic coalitions, and various traditional cultures that do much more doing than speaking and theorizing. One does not need to theorize how to view and engage secular modernity if one daily concentrates on self-sacrifice, prayer, and simply doing the work of God and disciplining the body and mind to order themselves according to their place and heritage. One of the great things about the book is in the way Rod shows many such “ordinary” people doing just this.

Is crunchy conservatism necessary? No. In fact, it may be in danger of posing an additional hurdle to real recovery by becoming just another lifestyle option in a culture awash with narcissistic lifestyle choices (a danger I think Rod recognizes in the book). Is an authentically conservative response to the challenges of late modernity necessary? Yes, now more than ever. ~Caleb Stegall

I want to return to Mr. Stegall’s remarks about “monasticism,” but I’m afraid that I must run to get to classical Armenian on time. I’ll add more later.

To live without speaking is better than to speak without living. For the former who lives rightly does good even by his silence, but the latter does no good even when he speaks. When words and life correspond to one another they are together the whole of divine philosophy. ~St. Isidore of Pelusium

O God of our Fathers,
Take not away Your mercy from us
But ever act towards us according to Your kindness,
And by the prayers of Your Saints
Guide our lives in peace. ~Troparion

The church has found you to be a new morning star, O glorious Isidore,
Enlightening it with the clarity of your teaching.
It cries out to you:
Rejoice, O Isidore, most blessed,
From the height of your spiritual wisdom! ~Kontakion

If multiculturalism is incompatible with a free and lively society, as some implicitly now concede, then the sensible response is not to gradually chip away at Western freedom but to ensure that immigration from non-Western cultures proceeds at a rate that is assimilable culturally as well as economically. In other words Muslims coming to Europe or America would automatically adjust to the freedoms of a free society because they would lack the numbers to insist on everyone else changing to suit them — which is currently the Islamist demand.

That demand is, finally, the reason for applauding those French, German, Spanish and other European newspapers that have reproduced the cartoons as a gesture of sympathy with Jyllands-Posten and those politicians, such as France’s Nicholas Sarkozy, who have supported them. Even if the arguments for laws against blasphemy were valid — and they are not trivial — that would count as a secondary consideration alongside the need to resist plain blackmail, intimidation and murder. Those who take refuge in the false equivalence of the “two sides” argument are, in the end, guilty of cowardice. They should seek some “Dutch courage” by ordering a glass of acquavit with a Carlsberg chaser. ~John O’Sullivan

Amen to that, Mr. O’Sullivan.

Pakistan’s president told a senior American official Saturday the United States must not repeat airstrikes like the one that apparently was aimed at al-Qaida but killed civilians in a remote village, as officials sought to soothe public outrage over the attack.

Also Saturday, two Pakistani intelligence officials told The Associated Press a captured al-Qaida leader had informed interrogators that he had met Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy, last year at one of the homes that was hit.

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf assured visiting U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns that Pakistan would not waver in its support for Washington’s war on terrorism but said such airstrikes must not be repeated, a Foreign Ministry official said. The attack prompted nationwide protests calling for Musharraf’s ouster. ~Yahoo News

Via Antiwar.

But I would quibble with John Pod on one small point, knowing I am fully open to the charge of nitpicking and pedantry. He says there is no conservative position on immigration. This strikes me as untrue. There are, I believe, some minimal principles all conservatives agree on and I think those who disagree really aren’t conservatives. Conservatives agree that there should be borders and that these borders have significance. Conservatives agree that citizenship has a definition and that there are rules, rights and responsibilities which come with it. Conservatives believe that it would be, at minimum, preferable if immigrants didn’t come here illegally. Conservatives agree that there is something called American culture (though we debate it’s adaptability and power to assimilate). Beyond that, I think John’s right to say there’s no single conservative position on immigration policy. But if you disagree with these principlees you’re either simply confused or you’re an adherent of some other orientation or ideology. ~Jonah Goldberg, The Corner

Via Kevin Drum, who has an interesting question.

Of course, neocons don’t necessarily agree that there is something called American culture (or at least they don’t agree that any historic American culture is something that needs to be preserved, except in its most abstract, ahistorical form of freedom, equality, democracy), and they certainly don’t all assume that borders have significance (even if they will grant reluctantly that borders do actually exist). Goldberg does have it right for once–conservatives do need, at a bare minimum, to accept the conditions he set down to still be conservative, and those who can’t aren’t really conservative. This is what the folks at VDare, Chronicles and TAC have been saying about the Open Borders crowd for years.

Also, here are some fairly good points from O’Sullivan and Krikorian.

The belief has taken root that those of us who oppose optimism are enemies of life itself. According to Matthew d’Ancona, ‘In 2005, the Islamists made brutally clear, yet again, that they are determined to destroy life, economic success and optimism wherever they encounter it.’

Not for the first time, one could not help feeling a twinge of sympathy with the Islamists. The facile optimism which characterises a certain kind of liberal imperialist would be laughable if it were not so dangerous. We go out to save Iraq, or Africa, or the planet itself, and think ourselves noble for taking such trouble, and consider ourselves ill used when not everyone is as grateful as they should be for the gifts we bring of democracy, debt relief and slightly smaller carbon emissions. ~Andrew Gimson, The Spectator (registration required)

Even after just four weeks of the brave new dawn, I’m bored by the sensation-seeking, turning-over-the-furniture, épater les bourgeois predictability of the new, Labour-lite Conservative Party. It’s just so last year.

It’s not really of an intellectual standard worthy of my wanting to engage in debate with it. And, fundamentally, it is irrelevant. Wanting to maintain high levels of taxes, abuse capitalism, leave sclerotic public services unreformed and become more politically correct than Sir Ian Blair may be irritating, but it is not important. It will only become important in the event of the Conservatives winning power. And, frankly, we are still some way off that jolly day. ~Simon Heffer, The Daily Telegraph

And here is the conclusion to Mr. Heffer’s bruising critique of Cameron’s folly (with which I could not agree more):

What Mr Cameron needs most to worry about, as he travels this tortured and deceptive road, is that when the electorate finally has its choice between a real social democratic party and a recent imitation of one, it will incline once more towards choosing the real thing rather than deciding to play with the replica.

Peter, I agree with you on Jeff Hart’s piece [in today’s Wall Street Journal]. We were in a staff meeting here at the Dallas Morning News, and my editor had to nudge me to get me to put down the Journal and pay attention, so captivating was Jeff’s essay. Crunchy me especially liked this passage:

But the utopian temptation can turn such free-market thought into a utopianism of its own–that is, free markets to be effected even while excluding every other value and purpose . . .such as Beauty, broadly defined. The desire for Beauty may be natural to human beings, like other natural desires. It appeared early, in prehistoric cave murals. In literature (for example, Dante) and in other forms of representation–painting, sculpture, music, architecture–Heaven is always beautiful, Hell ugly. Plato taught that the love of Beauty led to the Good. Among the needs of civilization is what Burke called the “unbought grace of life.” ~Rod Dreher (via Peter Robinson) at The Corner

Mr. Hart’s remarks on beauty brought Mr. Dreher’s ideas to my mind as well–it is encouraging to hear that Mr. Dreher responded in much the same way to the article. What was telling in the responses to Mr. Hart’s article at The Corner was the complete lack of any comment on the anti-Wilsonian arguments advanced therein. That is something that NRO understandably doesn’t want to touch.

The Republican Party now presents itself as the party of Hard Wilsonianism, which is no more plausible than the original Soft Wilsonianism, which balkanized Central Europe with dire consequences. No one has ever thought Wilsonianism to be conservative, ignoring as it does the intractability of culture and people’s high valuation of a modus vivendi. Wilsonianism derives from Locke and Rousseau in their belief in the fundamental goodness of mankind and hence in a convergence of interests.

George W. Bush has firmly situated himself in this tradition, as in his 2003 pronouncement, “The human heart desires the same good things everywhere on earth.” Welcome to Iraq. Whereas realism counsels great prudence in complex cultural situations, Wilsonianism rushes optimistically ahead. Not every country is Denmark. The fighting in Iraq has gone on for more than two years, and the ultimate result of “democratization” in that fractured nation remains very much in doubt, as does the long-range influence of the Iraq invasion on conditions in the Middle East as a whole. In general, Wilsonianism is a snare and a delusion as a guide to policy, and far from conservative. ~Jeffrey Hart,

It is with a certain satisfaction that I see conclude its pretentious series on American Conservatism with the veteran Mr. Hart’s article, which ridicules more than half the things their other contributors have endorsed. Since the series was a not-so-subtle retort to the founding of The American Conservative (bringing us such rubbish as Max Boot’s What the Heck is a ‘Neocon’?), it is fitting that the series concluded with an article endorsing more of TAC’s positions than it did those of the WSJ editorial board. It is truly surprising to see such dissidence from the well-known party line allowed on the WSJ’s op-ed pages–it is noteworthy for its rarity.

There is some genuine satisfaction in seeing an old hand of the “movement” belittle the idols of the new generation and all but disown the Iraq war (or at least the ideological underpinnings of it) that has become the defining event of the “conservative” political hegemony of the past five years. As the Hansons of the world ignore reality and grip even more tightly onto the failed policy of invading Iraq as a transformative event and fundamentally prudent course, even bizarrely invoking the Korean War (yes, the Korean War!) as an encouraging precedent for “staying the course” in Iraq, Mr. Hart reminds us of what real “mainstream” conservative thought used to look like before the darkness fell.

When we combine these three elements: chance, necessity and the fertility of the universe, we see clearly that evolution, as many hold, is not simply a random blind process. It has a direction and an intrinsic destiny. By intrinsic, I mean that science need not, and in fact cannot methodologically, invoke a designer as those arguing for intelligent design attempt to do.

How are we to interpret this scientific picture of life’s origins in terms of religious belief? Do we need God to explain this? Very succinctly, my answer is no. In fact, to need God would be a very denial of God. God is not the response to a need. One gets the impression from certain religious believers that they fondly hope for the durability of certain gaps in our scientific knowledge of evolution, so that they can fill them with God. This is the exact opposite of what human intelligence is all about. We should be seeking for the fullness of God in creation. We should not need God; we should accept him when he comes to us.

But the personal God I have described is also God, creator of the universe. It is unfortunate that, especially in America, creationism has come to mean some fundamentalistic, literal, scientific interpretation of Genesis. Judaic-Christian faith is radically creationist, but in a totally different sense. It is rooted in a belief that everything depends upon God, or better, all is a gift from God. The universe is not God and it cannot exist independently of God. Neither pantheism nor naturalism is true. God is working with the universe. The universe has a certain vitality of its own like a child does. It has the ability to respond to words of endearment and encouragement. You discipline a child but you try to preserve and enrich the individual character of the child and its own passion for life. A parent must allow the child to grow into adulthood, to come to make its own choices, to go on its own way in life. Words that give life are richer than mere commands or information. In such wise ways does God deal with the universe – the infinite, ever-expanding universe. That is why, it seems to me, that the Intelligent Design Movement, a largely American phenomenon, diminishes God, makes him a designer rather than a lover. ~George Coyne, S.J., The Tablet (registration required)

Via Mirror of Justice.

Generally, this is very good–this cuts through all of the myriad false defenses of ID-as-science and returns the faithful mind to contemplating a personal God. I suspect that Fr. Coyne would have little patience with this apology for ID.

If pilgrims worshipping in the Church of the Nativity look up at the roof, they will see a battlefield threatening the future of one of Christendom’s most holy sites.

Squabbling over crucial roof repairs between the three Christian communities who share custodianship of Jesus’s birthplace is endangering the 1,500-year-old basilica.

Large holes in the 500-year-old lead roof have let rainwater flood inside for years. It streams down the walls and threatens to wash away Crusader-era murals and destroy Byzantine mosaics. ~The Daily Telegraph

Via Orthodoxy Today Blog.

The need for preserving one of the greatest shrines and pilgrimage sites in the Christian world, to say nothing of the importance of preserving the church’s images for their historical and art historical value, really must transcend all other considerations. As an aspiring Byzantinist, I find the disrepair of this site especially appalling. Of course, I am Orthodox, and I won’t quibble with the claims the Orthodox have made with respect to the arrangements concerning the church’s management and control, but it is an embarrassment and a terrible failure to allow one of our greatest churches to fall into such a state of disrepair. If it were simply a problem of the necessary resources or expertise, I find it hard to believe that all local Orthodox churches would not come to the aid of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

In this piece for the Times, Mr. Kaletsky reiterates the main objections I made to David Cameron as the new Tory leader. Anthony Gregory at the Lew Rockwell Blog agrees.

The Class A war criminals had already paid for their crimes on this earth through their deaths and executions. The Japanese point of view on this matter means that these people had paid their debt to society. This type of thinking should be very easy to understand for people coming from a Christian background. If these people are not to be redeemed after their death, then when will they be? Only God can answer this question and not man. This is why the Japanese war dead – regardless of their circumstances while living on this earth – are enshrined at Yasukuni Shrine. ~Mike Rogers,

But there are deeper problems here. Insofar as the movie adheres to Lewis’s text, it’s a knockout. But as Adamson wedges in original action sequences, he willingly sacrifices far too much of Lewis’s most essential dialogue. Peter Jackson had no choice but to severely abbreviate The Lord of the Rings in order to contain it in feature-length chapters, but Adamson’s challenge was quite the opposite. Lewis’s story is short, simple and concentrated—every episode, every line counts.

For no good reason, conventional adventure spectacle replaces the joys of long, memorable sequences like the melting of the witch’s dominion, a woodland Christmas party, and the thawing of prisoners. Adamson’s more excited about inventing a frantic fight with wolves on a frozen river, and 20 minutes of elaborate, Jackson-esque, CGI warfare, as if to ensure there’s enough material for a video game tie-in. Lewis, preferring beauty to violence, only gave the war a page or two.

Those who don’t know the book won’t find anything amiss. Those who do will realize that Adamson’s excisions do more than just quicken the pace—they change the nature of important characters.

The beavers, vividly voiced by Ray Winstone and Dawn French, are a cartoonish but likeable pair. But they’re robbed of significant lines that build our apprehension of meeting Aslan and help us understand his kingship. The book’s devotees will be dismayed to find that Mr. Beaver is denied his famous speech about Aslan’s power and authority: “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” (Tumnus and Lucy echo this sentiment later, but it doesn’t serve the same purpose.)

Meanwhile, our dear, benevolent Professor has been reduced almost to a bit role, with many of his key lines of dialogues seriously abbreviated or outright dropped. It staggers the imagination as to why he’s been minimized to just a couple of grandfatherly interjections. An expanded “special edition” is in order.

As for the character we’ve all longed to see—Aslan—let’s face it: He’s not the Aslan who gave that novel its bold and beating heart. He’s given a voice of nobility and gentleness by Hollywood’s favorite warrior-mentor, Liam Neeson. Thanks to the animators, he’s a beautiful sight, if not quite as convincing as the CGI characters in Jackson’s Middle-Earth. But Adamson, working with Emmy-winning co-writers Ann Peacock, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely, has severely altered Aslan’s presence and power in the script.

While other characters’ roles have been expanded, the lion’s appearances are painfully brief. He doesn’t have the time onscreen to earn our affection and awe the way we might have hoped. And scene by scene, the writers consistently skirt the issue of Aslan’s authority, eliminating most references to his history, power, and influence. Aslan’s father, the Emperor Beyond the Sea, is never mentioned. Instead, the lion waxes philosophical like Obi-Wan Kenobi, mentioning the Deep Magic that “governs” his “destiny.” Huh?

Just as Aslan’s majesty has been diminished, the strength of the Witch has been upgraded. She bears little resemblance to the sorceress who made Mr. Beaver declare, “If she can stand on her two feet and look [Aslan] him in the face it’ll be the most she can do and more than I expect.” In the novel, Jadis went into terrified hysterics at the mere mention of Aslan’s name—here she barely flinches. When they face off, she’s fearless. Did Adamson make the White Witch a more threatening villain to increase suspense? That’s a practical idea. But Lewis would have objected. This Aslan is essentially muzzled and bound long before the Stone Table scene. ~Jeffrey Overstreet, Christianity Today

This all sounds very disappointing, but what were we to expect from Disney and a director who didn’t give much thought to the religious side of the story? If Mr. Overstreet is right, this adaptation does as much violence to the substance of the allegory as possible short of rewriting the narrative–his own review is far too kind to Adamson and the hack editors who decided to minimise the role of the one character who cannot be reduced without making Narnia into just another roleplaying game universe. It is worse than Jackson’s neglect of Aragorn’s Christ-like royal powers in the adaptation of Return of the King–it is more like cutting out all reference to the Ring and the Ring-bearer. I won’t be bothering to see this one.

I leave the merits of ID entirely to the side here, for they are irrelevant to my point. But let us posit, arguendo, that ID does prove capable of beating back the “materialist plague” in the West, and thus kindling a new-found respect for Westerners among Muslims. Are we to believe that this development would dim the passions of totalitarian Islam and remove the goad that drives fervent men to jihad? I don’t think we can reasonably expect that. ~Paul J. Cella

Mr. Cella makes this point better and more clearly than I did yesterday in my post on Akyol’s article.

But if there is an ounce of truth in the notion that George Bush seriously proposed the destruction of al-Jazeera, and was only dissuaded by the Prime Minister, then we need to know, and we need to know urgently. We need to know what we have been fighting for, and there is only one way to find out.

The Attorney General’s ban is ridiculous, untenable, and redolent of guilt. I do not like people to break the Official Secrets Act, and, as it happens, I would not object to the continued prosecution of those who are alleged to have broken it. But we now have allegations of such severity, against the US President and his motives, that we need to clear them up.

If someone passes me the document within the next few days I will be very happy to publish it in The Spectator, and risk a jail sentence. The public need to judge for themselves. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. If we suppress the truth, we forget what we are fighting for, and in an important respect we become as sick and as bad as our enemies. ~Boris Johnson

It is rather quaint that Mr. Johnson imagines that “what we are fighting for” in Iraq has some sort of friendly relationship with truth, and that suppressing truth would somehow compromise the high and noble principles advanced by invading a country without provocation. After all, if aggression and unprovoked killing throughout an entire country are acceptable, why worry about dishonesty or a cover-up over something as insignificant as plotting to attack a few foreign journalists?

But give Mr. Johnson some credit–he does find using white phosphorus and torture to be regrettable, and he would be a bit unnerved if the President had indeed desired to blow up al-Jazeera. But would he continue to support the unjust war that precipitated all these things? Most likely, yes.

Two government-subsidized Brussels organisations, the “intercultural youth platform” Kif Kif and the “movement against racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia” MRAX, have lodged a complaint before the Belgian judicial authorities against Filip Dewinter, a member of the Flemish regional parliament and one of the leaders of the Flemish-secessionist Vlaams Belang, which is the largest party in Belgium. They demand that Dewinter be convicted for “incitement to racist hatred” and that his party be deprived of its funding. In Belgium, political parties are almost entirely government-funded, as accepting private donations is mostly illegal.

The reason for the complaint is an interview which Dewinter says he recently gave to the New York magazine Jewish Week (and which he put on his website). When asked whether he espoused xenophobia, Dewinter replied:

“Xenophobia” is not the word I would use. If it absolutely must be a “phobia” let it be “islamophobia”. Yes, we’re afraid of Islam. The islamisation of Europe is a frightening thing. Even distinguished Jewish scholars as Bat Ye’or and Bernard Lewis warned for this. If this historical process continues, the Jews will be the first victims. Europe will become as dangerous for them as Egypt or Algeria.

The fact that Dewinter used the word “islamophobia” has outraged the Belgian media, since xenophobia (and islamophobia) is a criminal offense. Under Belgium’s very broad Anti-Racism Act of 1981, racial discrimination is defined as “each form of distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference, which has or may have as its aim or consequence that the recognition, the enjoyment or exercise on an equal footing of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social or cultural sphere or in other areas of social life, is destroyed, affected or restricted.”

Contrary to the European anti-discrimination treaties, the Belgian bill not only prohibits distinctions that have restrictions as their aim or consequence, but also distinctions that may have these restrictions – or even simply effects – as their consequence. Anyone who describes himself as an “islamophobe” is pronouncing a preference which may have as its consequence that the enjoyment of a freedom in an area of social life be affected. Moreover, the Belgian Anti-Discrimination Act of 2003 reversed the onus of proof. The complainant does not need to prove that the accused “discriminates” or propagates “discrimination,” but it is up to the latter to prove that he does not. ~Paul Belien, The Brussels Journal

I have to congratulate Mr. Dewinter and his party on continuing to challenge the oppressive laws of the Belgian state. In spite of the fact that he probably knew he could be sued and his party defunded (again), he has not allowed tyrannical laws to cow or intimidate him from stating his quite reasonable opinions. Mr. Dewinter and the Vlaams Belang have our best wishes for defeating these scurrilous attacks and continuing to have success to determine the political fortunes of a Flanders that will one day, let’s hope, be independent and free.

[Col.] Bubp, a GOP state legislator and Marine Corps Reserve officer, had campaigned for Schmidt. He put out his own statement yesterday: “The comments and concerns I shared with Congresswoman Schmidt were never meant as a personal reference to Mr. Murtha. . . . We never discussed anyone by name and there was no intent to ever disparage the congressman or his distinguished record of service for our nation.” Bubp, through a spokeswoman, declined an interview request.

Schmidt recalls their Friday phone conversation somewhat differently. “I wrote down what he was saying,” she said in the interview. “He did ask me to send a message to Congress, and he also said send a message to ‘that congressman.’ He did not know that congressman’s name, but I did. Neither one of us knew he was a Marine.”

Schmidt said she had not noticed the numerous references to Murtha’s military background in the newspaper, radio and TV accounts of his troop-withdrawal proposal, made Thursday. “They keep us pretty busy,” she said.

Paul Hackett, a veteran of the Iraq war who lost the August special election to Schmidt, said her comments on the House floor “were at best irresponsible and at worst grossly unpatriotic.” Hackett, who has sharply criticized President Bush’s Iraq war policy, is running for the U.S. Senate in Ohio, but some Democrats are trying to talk him into a rematch against Schmidt. ~The Washington Post

I find her excuse very hard to believe. Who hasn’t seen a reference to his military career in every news story about Rep. Murtha? Most of the articles out there have made a point of mentioning it to highlight the fact that, as a veteran and supporter of activist foreign policy, his growing opposition to the war is more significant than that of other members of his party.

Mmebers of Congress do have staffers for many reasons–one of them is to keep the members from missing or misstating facts that are common knowledge to any literate and informed citizen. It reflects very badly on Rep. Schmidt and her party that she cannot simply acknowledge that her choice of words could only have appeared to be designed to insult Rep. Murtha and imply that he was exhibiting a kind of cowardice. It simply cannot be just a coincidence, and even if it was a coincidence she ought to be able to understand why her remarks were immediately offensive to those that heard and read them. No spin was required to make people across the spectrum understand the trashy nature of the attack–everyone knew what she meant to say, even if she is too much of a coward to admit it.

Not only did Rep. Jean Schmidt slander Rep. Murtha by suggesting that he was a coward and not a ‘real’ Marine because of his Iraq withdrawal proposal–she apparently also misrepresented the conversation she had with Marine Col. Bubp, whose sentiments she claimed to be conveying to the House:

But a spokeswoman for the colonel, Danny R. Bubp, said Ms. Schmidt had misconstrued their conversation.

While Mr. Bubp, a Republican member of the Ohio House of Representatives, opposes a quick withdrawal for forces, “he did not mention Congressman Murtha by name nor did he mean to disparage Congressman Murtha,” said Karen Tabor, his spokeswoman. “He feels as though the words that Congresswoman Schmidt chose did not represent their conversation.” ~The New York Times

Meanwhile, Rep. Schmidt continues to retreat from her obnoxious remarks in the most disingenuous way possible:

Asked to respond on Monday, the congresswoman’s office said only, “Mrs. Schmidt’s statement was never meant to disparage Congressman Murtha.”

Hat tip to Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly.

The Vatican’s chief astronomer said Friday that “intelligent design” isn’t science and doesn’t belong in science classrooms, the latest high-ranking Roman Catholic official to enter the evolution debate in the United States.

The Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said placing intelligent design theory alongside that of evolution in school programs was “wrong” and was akin to mixing apples with oranges.

“Intelligent design isn’t science even though it pretends to be,” the ANSA news agency quoted Coyne as saying on the sidelines of a conference in Florence. “If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science.” (AP)

Hat tip to John Derbyshire.

Though it is hardly surprising that a leading Vatican scientist would find ID theory unscientific (it does not take a scientific genius to realise this), it is gratifying to see the learned gentleman make much the same argument that I made a few weeks back. In short, I said that ID is a philosophical and theological view, and one well grounded in the patristic and Western philosophical tradition, but that does not mean it has any place in the study of the natural sciences. It does not make claims that can be tested, and its chief virtue, so to speak, is that it cannot be disproven using empirical evidence. Importing ID theory into biology and physics classes would be like lecturing on Platonic body-soul dualism to neuroscience students. It might be interesting and edifying, but it has nothing directly to do with the study of neuroscience.

Metaphysics is the province of philosophers and theologians. It is precisely when evolutionists have attempted to make metaphysical claims from natural evidence that evolution takes on the aspect of a weapon against the Faith. Making the same fundamental error in attempting to rectify this arrogant presumption by muddling metaphysics and science is misguided and will only entrench philosophical materialism in our culture by providing materialists with easy targets for ridicule.

The Muslim writer Amir Taheri, tackling the question of ‘Why Paris is Burning’, described how France’s policy of assimilation began to fail when (Muslim) immigrants grouped themselves in concentrated areas. The resulting alienation, says Taheri, opens the way for radical Islamists to promote religious and cultural apartheid. Some are even calling for Muslim majority areas to become like an Ottoman millet, i.e., to organise their own social, cultural and educational life in accordance with their religious beliefs. In parts of France, says Taheri, a de facto millet system is already in place, seen in Islamic headdress, Islamic beards, Islamic control of the administration, and the elimination of cinemas, dance halls and shops selling alcohol and pork.

The Muslim community in France is well on the way to becoming a millet, a state within a state. The only substantive goal still outstanding is the implementation of Islamic law (Shariah) instead of French law.

Muslims in France have by and large rejected the concept of the integration of individuals and are working instead for the integration of communities. The same is happening in the UK, where the concept of multiculturalism has long been popular. ~Patrick Sookhdeo, The Spectator (registration required)

On June 26, 2002, the INC wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee staff identifying Hannah as the White House recipient of information gathered by the group through a U.S.-funded effort called the Information Collection Program. Knight Ridder obtained a copy of the letter and previously reported on it.

The letter, written by Entifadh Qanbar, then the director of the INC’s Washington office, identified 108 articles in leading Western news media to which it said the INC had funneled the same information that it fed to Hannah, as well as a senior Pentagon official.

The information included a claim by an INC-supplied defector, Adnan Ihsan al-Haideri, that he had visited 20 secret nuclear, biological and chemical warfare facilities in Iraq.

Haideri’s claim first appeared in a Dec. 20, 2001, article in The New York Times and then in a White House background paper, “A Decade of Deception and Defiance,” released in conjunction with a Sept. 12, 2002, speech to the U.N. General Assembly by Bush.

Haideri, however, showed deception in a CIA-administered lie detector test three days before The New York Times article appeared, and was unable to identify a single illicit arms facility when he accompanied U.S. weapons inspectors to Iraq in January 2004, Knight Ridder reported in May of last year.

The White House background paper also cited INC-produced defectors’ claims that Saddam ran a terrorist training camp outside Baghdad in Salman Pak where Iraqi and non-Iraqi Islamic extremists were schooled in assassination, sabotage and the hijacking of aircraft and trains.

After the war, U.S. officials determined that a facility in Salman Pak was used to train Iraqi anti-terrorist commandos. ~Knight-Ridder

Cardinal Newman’s remarks about St. Cyril’s exegetical method, quoted in the previous post, made me reflect a little on the radically different (and sometimes terrible) conclusions different approaches to Scripture produce. How a person perceives the written Word determines to a remarkable degree his vision of the Church and his understanding of the role of Church Tradition in interpreting Scripture. Without wanting to overstate the matter, it seems fair to say that the greater willingness one has to perceive multiple layers of meaning in any one passage of Scripture (in particular, the greater one’s willingness to embrace allegorical exegesis), the greater one’s willingness to understand the Church in Her mystical and Eucharistic reality, as well as the greater the willingness to preserve the paradoxes about Christ without seeking to force a reconciliation that will, according to our limited understanding, diminish the glory and mystery of God Incarnate. The less one desires to perceive Scripture in a merely “carnal” manner, the more one can embrace the Church as Christ’s Body incorporating all living Christians, whether reposed or still on earth, as well as embracing what I might call ecclesial exegesis. This is nothing other than the perfectly traditional habit of interpreting Scripture in the light of the Church’s living reality and the continuing inspiration of the God-bearing Fathers in the Holy Spirit. We cannot judge Scripture “on our own” or even simply according to natural reason, because we do not exist or worship in this way.

If I were to approach Scripture carnally, I might have difficulty finding a ready warrant for, to take a typically Orthodox example, the veneration of icons (after all, where are the panel paintings mentioned in the New Testament?). But, if I were to approach Scripture ecclesially, I would be able to see that God already presents to us the most resplendent and glorious Icon in Christ, Who, as the Image of the Father (Heb. 1:1-3), is the Icon by nature on Whom all other icons are predicated and to Whom all icons ultimately refer. In this lies the truth of the Incarnation and its consequences for the redemption of all of creation, but it is not readily apparent to just anyone who happens to read the Bible, nor should we expect that it would be. It would be difficult for someone schooled in reading texts only for outer meaning or, at best, moral lessons to become accustomed to the constant typological and allegorical readings the Fathers provide for us. Yet being accustomed to these sorts of readings is essential to any basic understanding of Christian doctrine, because it was just in this manner that the Evangelists and Apostles wrote (and so it was in this manner that later Fathers read them), as anyone who even briefly acquaints himself with the Gospel of John or the Epistle to the Hebrews may be able to see.

The traditional fourfold interpretation of Scripture (literal, moral/tropological, typological, allegorical) familiar to early medieval Latin Fathers and their successors was the product of a catholic and ecclesial view of exegesis that sought to incorporate and encompass as many valid and mutually reinforcing meanings in Scripture as possible. The victories of the churches of Alexandria, Rome and Constantinople respectively at the Third, Fourth and Fifth Ecumenical Councils went a long way in keeping the most basic, often least instructive, literal, “carnal” sense of the Word represented stereotypically by the Antiochene tradition from impoverishing the religious imagination of the Church.

Handed a once-in-a-generation opportunity to return the Supreme Court to constitutionalism, George W. Bush passed over a dozen of the finest jurists of his day — to name his personal lawyer.

In a decision deeply disheartening to those who invested such hopes in him, Bush may have tossed away his and our last chance to roll back the social revolution imposed upon us by our judicial dictatorship since the days of Earl Warren.

This is not to disparage Harriet Miers. From all accounts, she is a gracious lady who has spent decades in the law and served ably as Bush’s lawyer in Texas and, for a year, as White House counsel.

But her qualifications for the Supreme Court are non-existent. She is not a brilliant jurist, indeed, has never been a judge. She is not a scholar of the law. Researchers are hard-pressed to dig up an opinion. She has not had a brilliant career in politics, the academy, the corporate world or public forum. Were she not a friend of Bush, and female, she would never have even been considered. ~Pat Buchanan

As Mr. Buchanan observes elsewhere in the article, the lack of a paper trail was decisive in Ms. Miers’ selection. This is not unlike Judge Robert’s very limited “trail” of actual judicial rulings, which, unlike his legal briefs for the Reagan administration or private casework, could provide some clue as to how he might rule in the future. When I correctly guessed that John Roberts would be the nominee, I had known this from the first time I read about him when I saw that he had few court decisions with which the left could bludgeon him. Mr. Bush likes the appearance of success, whether or not it actually achieves anything, and in this he is simply a more obnoxious version of what all modern politicians are by habit. As with Judge Roberts, so with Harriet Miers: Mr. Bush wants no contentious confirmation battles, and so has chosen what he believes is the safest option, namely Souter encore, in the belief that breaking faith with his constituents will cost him nothing. So far, most “conservatives” in the GOP have given him no reason to fear a backlash. Mr. Buchanan says that the “conservative movement has been had” yet again, but an old saying comes to mind: “Fool me once…” Mr. Bush has betrayed many, many conservative principles, as anyone could see, so why should anyone have trusted that he would not, in the end, betray a constitutionalism in which he evidently does not believe?

He has wanted no contentious battles because, as he has shown with almost all of his nominees at least since the pitiful support shown Mr. Estrada, he will never rise to their defense or risk his own position on any domestic question of any size. He has shown that he will always keep his precious “political capital” tightly in his hands, like Smeagol grasping the Ring.

As Mr. Buchanan also notes, all of the bad instincts that Mr. Bush seemed to suppress in the Roberts’ nomination came back with a vengeance. Besides his desperate need to pander, in domestic politics, to official victim groups and their loudspeakers in the press, there the pathetic inclination to exalt hangers-on and old supporters with substantial and significant positions that should, one might think, be chosen on exceptional merit and not the sort of undue personal connections and influence that tend to drive Mr. Bush’s personnel decisions (think of FEMA’s Brown and Condi Rice). But I predict that, however disappointed “conservatives” in the GOP will be, these same “conservatives” will line up behind Mr. Bush yet again.

How do we know this? Because we know empirically from history and verified theory that democracies don’t make war on each other, and therefore we can predict that between any two democracies there will be no future war. However, war can well occur between two if one or both are not democracies. Moreover, the probability of war is far higher if both are nondemocracies.

Is war inevitable? No! We can expand the sphere of democracies to encompass the globe and thereby make war history. There is no reason to suspect that the relationships among democracies will be any different than they are today if all countries are democratic. Democracies will remain intrinsically democracies, and thus the essential nature of democracies –political rights for all citizens, the democratic culture, multiple civic groups, a spontaneous society, and bonds and cross pressure — that ensure peace will remain.~R.J. Rummel

What can one say in the face of such foolishness? I have occasionally encountered Mr. Rummel’s ramblings about “democratic peace” and “freedomism” before, and I have wasted little time on taking them seriously, but the troubling thing is that Mr. Rummel’s bizarre theory readily wins acceptance in conventional thinking. It is my impression that a great many Americans, and Westerners generally, work on the assumption that democracy=peace. Pacifists, of course, take this to the extreme with the assumption that war must therefore be undemocratic, so obvious is the equation between peace and democracy. But even a brief, cursory glance at history would tell us this political theory is simply false and has virtually no supporting evidence. It would be a waste of my time to explain in detail why the wars between democratic states that I have already mentioned in previous posts really are wars between democratic states. Perhaps simply a list of some relevant conflicts would suffice (I do not propose that this list is exhaustive, but simply what comes to mind).

There are the conflicts between what we must, for analytic purposes, consider as democratic states or, at the very least, states with very significant democratic elements: the American War for Independence, the Quasi-War (1798-1800), the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (unless we are going to quibble that Britain was not yet sufficiently ‘democratic’ at this point), the American War of Secession, the Boer War, WWI. Then there are the wars started by democratic states, whether the target of their aggression was a democratic state or not: the Greco-Turkish Wars, the Spanish-American War, the First and Second Balkan Wars, the Greek invasion of Turkey (1919-22) and, of course, Kosovo and Iraq. Japan’s wars of aggression were not conducted by a democratic government, but it was scarcely for lack of parliamentary institutions, constitutional rights and a broad franchise that Japan became expansionist and militaristic–democracy and military expansionism can often go hand in hand, fueled by the insane desire to bring the “gift” of democracy to other victims.

It would only be by narrowly definining democracy in terms of parliamentary and participatory government, which I have been doing here, that we could exclude fascist and communist revolutionary regimes from the label of democratic. Obviously, if we included these as part of democracy’s legacy (which, in the sense of being the legacy of 1789, they are), the indictment would be overwhelming. Also, I have intentionally limited the examples to American and European nations. There could very well be useful examples from other parts of the world in the last century of which I am presently unaware or which I have forgotten. But the list given above should be sufficient to disprove Mr. Rummel’s claim once and for all.

Confronted with this, only an ideologue could maintain that “democracies do not go to war with one another” or that “democracies do not start wars.” Of course they do! Democracies, last I checked, were populated with men, who are every bit as likely to succumb to ambition, greed, bloodlust, libido dominandi, the desire to acquire new territory and resources and ideological fervour as men in any other regime. I would go further and argue that democracies exacerbate all of these vicious tendencies in men and make wars both more likely and more destructive when they occur, but that is an argument for another time.

Besides, wars have causes in conflicts over the control of resources and territory. As long as resources are limited and territoriality is an element in human politics (in other words, until the Kingdom comes), there will be war. If all nations became true functioning democracies tomorrow it would not resolve disputes over territory and resources, nor would it change basic strategic interests, nor would it reduce the willingness of strong powers to go to war to achieve their strategic goals. Wars are caused by extreme conflicts of two interested polities, not by madcap dictators simply deciding that war is entertaining (or whatever it is that “democratic peace” advocates think causes war). Dictators may exploit grievances and whip up the crowd into bellicose frenzy, but the interests and grievances have to exist already for this to work.
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President Bush’s job approval has dipped below 40 percent for the first time in the AP-Ipsos poll, reflecting widespread doubts about his handling of gasoline prices and the response to Hurricane Katrina.

Nearly four years after Bush’s job approval soared into the 80s after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Bush was at 39 percent job approval in an AP-Ipsos poll taken this week. That’s the lowest since the the poll was started in December 2003.

The public’s view of the nation’s direction has grown increasingly negative as well, with nearly two-thirds now saying the country is heading down the wrong track. ~The Chicago Sun-Times

39% is a pretty pitiful figure. It is on par with Nixon in the summer of 1973 and the rating of Gerald Ford after he had pardoned Nixon. It is only five points better than Jimmy Carter in 1981. Mr. Bush’s mediocrity as President has now been matched by the popular perception of his mediocrity. The GOP should be very afraid.

While the majority in some societies is often wiser than educated opinion, it cannot always be wiser—even in America, where the intellectual class, as judged by what one sees of the professors, is the biggest collection of fools and scoundrels the world has ever seen. Ordinarily people are superior to the elite only when they follow the rules of conscience imposed by tradition, but where ordinary people watch TV, play video games, and listen to pop music they are often as wicked and even more obtuse than the pointy headed intellectuals they say they hate but to whom they are willing to trust their children’s minds and morals. Don’t tell me about the basically good American people, when so many of them put their kids in government internment centers and do next to nothing to combat the propaganda that is drummed into the little heads every day. ~Thomas Fleming

All three wished to justify the ways of God to man, to affirm God’s benevolence, to see meaning in the seemingly monstrous randomness of nature’s violence, and to find solace in God’s guiding hand. None seemed to worry that others might think him to be making a fine case for a rejection of God, or of faith in divine goodness. Simply said, there is no more liberating knowledge given us by the gospel—and none in which we should find more comfort—than the knowledge that suffering and death, considered in themselves, have no ultimate meaning at all. ~David B. Hart, “Tsunami and Theodicy,” First Things (March 2005)

This is the core of Dr. Hart’s objection to conventional theodicy of a religious bent, and it forms the core of the main rebuttal of this kind of theodicy in his crisply-written little book, The Doors of the Sea (Eerdmans, July 2005), which carries with it the tagline: “Where was God in the Tsunami?” Expanding upon a December 31 Wall Street Journal article, Dr. Hart puts forward what he regards as the proper Orthodox perspective of natural calamity and God’s goodness. Having written an article, then a longer essay and finally a book in response to the dreadful tsunami of December 2004, Dr. Hart cannot be accused of having insufficiently thought about the problem. It is generally a successful summary of Orthodox doctrines of God, creation and man and a thoughtful consideration of the implications that innocent and ‘random’ suffering may or may not have for these doctrines. After a treatment of what we might call literary theodicies in Voltaire and Dostoevsky, Dr. Hart restates Orthodox teaching on the cosmological significance of the Fall, based in the truth that man is microcosm, and relies heavily on this one doctrine to ‘exculpate’, if you will, God from any connection to the massive suffering of the Asian tsunami. By the same token, presumably, he would make the same case for the disaster on the Gulf Coast and the destruction of New Orleans, which makes his sort of theodicy immediately relevant.

Where Dr. Hart goes awry is in his central argument that because God did not create the world with death and suffering (absolutely true), and because death and suffering have no inherent meaning (again, true), God therefore has no role in these calamities and death and suffering as they are experienced in the world have no meaning. I think the logical mistake is clear for all to see. What is true of suffering as such, which is simply the fruit of our alienation from God, is not necessarily true of suffering in history over which God is sovereign. If suffering was in some sense ‘empty’ or ’senseless’ before the Incarnation and Passion, it is difficult to see how it remained this way after the Resurrection.

If the Eighth Day is the beginning of a new creation, and even though we acknowledge and believe that death has no sting, Hades no victory, how do we account for the continued existence of natural calamities and death, unless these are to serve as spurs to repentance and thus serve the purpose of God to raise man and all creation to Himself?Taken abstractly and in isolation, it is correct that death is absolutely meaningless, because it is the deprivation and absence of life, and suffering likewise as part of our fallen, mortal condition. But that is not to say that illness, suffering and death have no purpose (their chief purposes, according to the Fathers, are to remind us of death, teach us to repent and limit our sinful state respectively), or that God does not ordain these things to come to pass (clearly, Scripture and the Fathers say that He does–more on this later).

I suppose it is conceivable that there might be ‘random’ or ’senseless’ suffering in the world, but that would need to be argued much more closely than Dr. Hart does. In fact, Dr. Hart essentially grants that much suffering and death is random and senseless, and he grants this without much protest. He seems to assume that this claim is obviously largely correct–it is the misguided attempts to ‘make sense’ of disaster with reference to God’s inscrutable ways that are the main target of his ire.

His ’solution’ is both to acquit God of any involvement in the calamities themselves, though he does allow that God might turn such evils to some good (because he cannot ignore Providence all together), and to affirm the meaninglessness of at least the random suffering experienced in such natural disasters. At the root of this is a curiously non-patristic (to say nothing of non-Scriptural) aversion to thinking of God as ever being a wrathful God, a God Who might justly and lovingly will destruction as chastisement and correction. It may seem distasteful to a modern audience to think of a hurricane or a tsunami in terms of God’s “fatherly” rebuke, but this is how a far greater Christian and theologian than Dr. Hart or I will likely ever be did see natural calamities. Dr. Hart cannot point an accusing finger at Bl. Augustine and his theological successors, or at anyone else, for this ‘distorted’ understanding of theodicy–it is eminently Orthodox, expressed by one of the greatest Orthodox saints, the Theologian himself, St. Gregory of Nazianzus (I intend to post a lengthier treatment of this problem with extensive quotes from St. Gregory’s Oration 16).
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The cover story for the last summer edition of American Conservative (Aug. 29 issue), “Defining Conservatism Down” by Austin Bramwell, seemed to promise a tale of how ‘the Right’ has lost its former intellectual vivacity and become the complacent steward of an intellectual legacy about which relatively few, if any, contemporary conservative ‘intellectuals’ have many compelling questions. Neither do contemporaries, by and large, apparently have any strong challenges to the fundamental, foundational notions laid down by the coterie of major mid-century thinkers, whose names are all well-known to old ‘movement’ hands and to some neophytes who came of age in the late ‘90s. (Paleoconservatism, noticeably absent from the article, does engage in critical and challenging engagement with the ‘movement’ greats, and its adherents have shown a tremendous willingness to go against, beyond or away from the pleasant neo-Burkean and neo-Idealist theses of Kirk and Weaver, for example, even as they accept many of their observations.) No new comprehensive reevaluations of American conservatism or the American Right (which are assuredly not the same thing, but which Mr. Bramwell consistently conflates) are forthcoming, according to this account, and the article seeks to explain why this is so.

In the course of Mr. Bramwell’s winding article, which is all the more interesting for its not having paid much attention to its purported theme, he stated that the intellectual challenge to the Left posed by the Right has grown weaker and flabbier in no small part because of contemporary acceptance of a ‘consensus’ (perhaps collection of ideas might be a better way of putting it) that is basically unquestioned. The intellectual heavy lifting has already been done, so contemporary “conservatives” apparently claim, and now it is time to put it into practice. Whatever occasional disagreements occur, they have ceased to be over major theoretical clashes, and it is here that Mr. Bramwell locates one of the causes of the decline of conservative intellectual activity. Instead of explaining how this happened, which is what one might have expected, he discusses what conservatism was like before the decline and, after random digressions into libertarian theory, suggests a few remedies for recovering that earlier fruitful competition of ideas.

The article is fairly ecumenical (minus paleoconservatives, except perhaps Kirk), as major figures generally associated with the Right from Rand (!) to Jaffa are included with all their mutual disagreements, but both the description of the Right under consideration here, the intellectual problems of the Right and the prospects for future intellectual creativity run heavily towards the libertarian side. There is not much point in dwelling long on the ever-vexing problem of terms and definitions (though Weaver would), but Chilton Williamson’s distinction between conservatives and Rightists might prove useful here to highlight the terminological vagueness of Mr. Bramwell’s article that muddles much of his analysis.

As Mr. Williamson puts it:

The primary distinction within the conservative tradition, almost by definition, is the most hoary one as well. It amounts to the difference between a conservatism founded uncompromisingly on eternal principles and the conservatism that appeals to historical context and the status quo, prudence, and pragmatism. The term “Rightist” commonly designates conservatives of the first division, while “conservative” denotes those belonging to the second. Thus, a “conservative” seeks to conserve what exists in the present, while a “Rightist” is prepared to dismantle contemporary institutions in order to replace them with ancient ones resurrected from the past–monarchism, say, or the feudal system. In the culture of the modern West, Rightists are always the “extremists” (e.g., Patrick Buchanan), marginalized in public debate and practical politics alike in favor of “conservatives” who have so far discarded absolute principles while emphasizing pragmatic ones as to have become nearly indistinguishable from the relativistic liberals they claim to oppose.

Needless to say, in this definition libertarians are not to be found on either side, though Rightists are often interested in what libertarians have to say and are willing to work with them in common cause. But even to the extent that libertarians root their libertarianism in certain established constants, be it their conception of human nature and natural law, or have developed a philosophical defense of self-interest and self-determination there is little that is Rightist about them. The fact of the matter is that libertarians have never really been Rightists in the sense Williamson means it, libertarianism has been as much of a hindrance to the elaboration of conservative ideas as a support and especially in the field of economics most conservatives have leaned on libertarian economists to the point where they have come to accept far too much of the libertarian view of man and society, stripping them of the capacity to make cogent arguments outside of the materialist framework in which they have learned to argue. Thus Mr. Bramwell’s account of the intellectual failures of libertarians or the current inquiries of libertarian groups distracts us with material that is not directly pertinent to the problem. It is actually a measure of the extent to which some libertarian arguments have been found compelling and sustainable, or at least pragmatically useful (to conservatives), that intellectual conservatism has gone into stagnation and decline.
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Joseph Bottum’s article opposing the death penalty on putatively Christian grounds has gained some attention online. Winning the prize for conciseness and clarity is The Japery’s brief statement at The New Pantagruel. Hugo Schwyzer, a liberal Christian blogger (or, as he would have it, a “progressive consistent life-ethic Anabaptist/Episcopalian Democrat”), applauds Mr. Bottum for bringing First Things closer to what he calls a “consistent life” position, which by itself should make Mr. Bottum very nervous.

But I appreciated Mr. Schwyzer’s comments, as it drew my attention back to what I suppose must have constituted the theological core of Mr. Bottum’s argument (I might be forgiven for having missed the importance of this element with all the erroneous discussion of divine right of kings, et al.). This was supposed to be the profound and insightful bit of exgesis that would convince the readers of First Things that, even though murderers really did deserve to die, they should nonetheless be spared. What was it? It was the fact that Cain killed Abel, but that even then God protected Cain’s life (therefore, we should do likewise in similar circumstances). Wow. What is the bulk of Church Tradition against a piece of Sunday afternoon interpretation like that? What does Mr. Bottum make of the rather blatant and obvious problem that there are entire books of Scripture that lay out, again and again, the ordained killing of not just murderers but a whole host of transgressors? Of course, being under the New Covenant we all generally agree that the Law does not have the same supreme authority that it once had under the Old, but whether or not a particular punishment is specifically mandated by divine law there is no escaping the fact that legitimate magistrates are authorised to use such extreme punishments. As First Things‘ contributors love to remind us all when it comes to warfare (a kind of killing Mr. Bottum’s colleagues can really get behind almost without reservation), these prudential judgements are made by the secular authorities, and the Church recognises that it is their place to make these decisions.

A few things should be cleared up. In the Orthodox Church, as among Catholics, the Fathers do not ‘endorse’ capital punishment, partly because almost all Fathers of the Church have not lived in societies where the usage of capital punishment was ever seriously questioned on moral or any other grounds, so that it was especially incumbent on them to try to alleviate the harshness of a law that would undoubtedly be too brutal. Most never saw a world where the taking of innocent life could be treated so cavalierly, so we can imagine that they would have stated their abhorrence of murderers and the punishments due such people had the society around them not already held such a strong view.

In truth, as the Book of Ezekiel (Ez. 33:11) tells us, as phrased in a common Orthodox prayer, God does not desire the death of a sinner, but rather that he should return to Him and live. This is, in brief, the whole of God’s desire throughout salvation history. Nonetheless, just as death has entered the world through sin, because God has allowed it as a limit to sin, so it is fitting and reasonable that God would permit, nay, require that a vicious and impious person who not only steals another’s life but commits sacrilege in marring and attacking one made in the image of God be put to death as a limit to his sins and a limit to the destructiveness wrought by sin in the world. Certainly, the Fathers acknowledge the authority of the secular arm to do this, and in the past in the Byzantine case they acknowledged its legitimacy under Roman law.

Even though God did not create death, and He takes no pleasure in the death of any of His creatures, He turns even this evil to some good and to the accomplishment of His will. And it is painfully evident that God wills that men love one another as He has loved us, and certainly not that men slay one another: what could be more heinous, more alienating from God and sinful, than repudiating one of the two great commandments given us by the Lord by doing violence against another person? How else should we treat someone who has transgressed this sacred boundary than to execute him in payment of his debt? Against this, what possible sense can Mr. Bottum’s argument make?

The ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that 51 percent of Americans disapprove of the two-term president’s overall performance, with 40 percent strongly disapproving.

Comparatively, former president Bill Clinton’s highest strong disapproval rating peaked at 33 percent in 1994, while the strong disapproval rating for Bush’s father George H.W. Bush reached 34 percent in 1992, according to the poll. ~Yahoo News

This poll result may not ultimately mean very much. At first, it might suggest massive electoral rebellion against the incumbent president’s party as we saw in 1994 and the massive disaffection from the incumbent president that we saw in 1992. Unlike Messrs. Clinton and Bush the Elder, Dobleve has the option of demagoguing his position as a wartime president, which has the same destructively attractive effect on Americans as flames have on moths. All political trends right now point to a GOP electoral disaster in 2006, but that presupposes there is an opposition party that can appear credible as a party of government once again.

To conclude: Democracy has two faces—one is the face of Aristotle and Jefferson, a completely decentralized system in which power is exercised at the lowest possible level and is subject to law and tradition. As Aristotle noted, any democracy in which the will of the people takes precedence over law and tradition is only another kind of tyranny.

The other face, the false face, is that of the demagogues of the Athenian Assembly, and also of Robespierre and Abraham Lincoln and both political parties today. This is a system based on the principle of untrammeled majority rule, subject to neither law nor tradition. If the people want to overturn any clause in the Constitution, they are free to do so. This explains why the Bill of Rights, which were designed to protect the states and the people from the federal government are now used to reinforce the power of the federal government against the people and the states.

In reality, of course, the the people has no power, since we are all under the control of tiny oligarchic cliques and pressure groups that monopolize wealth, power, and prestige. How false democracy devoured Jefferson’s true democracy is a long sad story, punctuated by wars and revolutionary legislation. But if Americans ever wish to be free, they shall not only have to go back to the thinking of Adams and Jefferson but also to the ancient writers and ancient languages that formed their minds and inspired their imaginations. And even we if cannot recover our political freedom as a nation, we can liberate our minds from the propaganda of civics books and discpline our free minds on the classical curriculum. ~Thomas Fleming, The Autodidact

Aristotle and Jefferson’s visions of local, lawful democracy are very good and welcome antidotes to what most people think of as democracy. I recommend Dr. Fleming’s article in its entirety. When I have denounced democracy here and elsewhere, it has always been aimed at the distortions of these visions and the false democracy that most Europeans since at least 1789 have seen as the only sort of democracy they have ever encountered. The Swiss were, and still are to some extent, a sterling example of true, locally-based democracy as it should be practiced if it must be. But today even the Swiss endure a relatively centralised and consolidated state, and this is due to the influence of modern, European democracy on the respectable burgher self-government that grew up naturally in Switzerland.

The democracy of historical Athens degenerated and became the debased form that gave democracy such a bad name for the next 2,000 years. Athenian democracy was corrupted through the expansion of its commercial and political empire. That observation has become a commonplace, but what usually does not follow that observation is the additional observation that regimes premised on the rule of the many are often more prone to territorially expansionist policies than more narrowly-based regimes. Increased territory is most in the interest of the many, as it makes practicable the ancient popular demand for the distribution of land.

In the modern case, populist and nationalist enthusiasms have replaced the drive for land with ideological drives for advancing this or that national ideal and affirming the power of the nation. This has, if anything, made the many in any given state even more prone to expansionism and conflict than they were before. This is a short way of saying that warfare states have not been foisted on “the people,” but they have willingly embraced the small band of oligarchs who proposed to create warfare states. The many want expansion and hegemony, always and in every culture, and war is the demagogue’s best resource.

In the Roman Republic, providing land for veterans was one of the continual pressures for expansionist warfare, and thus plebeians had as much, if not more, of a vested interest in that warfare as the aristocracy. The military demands of the expanded state required the building up of permanent armies that came to identify with their commanders, which almost immediately militarised the factional conflicts of the city to the ultimate destruction of the old Republic and the establishment of the moderate, restrained dictatorship of the Principate.

The American Republic was infected by the same corrupted form of democracy as Athens, most of whose advocates were constantly urging an expansion fundamentally injurious to the stability of the Republic. (The fatal flaw in the early republican endeavour was connected to its central principle of self-government, as self-government and expanded participation in that self-government came to be regarded as one and the same thing, even though they are contradictory.) This was the perverse realisation of the greater decentralisation Jefferson imagined would result from continuing westward expansion. In practical terms, there was greater decentralisation, but with territorial expansion came a need to find bonds uniting the disparate communities, and thus there was all the greater impulse to identify with the interests of larger regions or with the Union in abstract. Instead of the distance between far-flung communities in the West inoculating whole regions against political enthusiasms originating in the cities, these communities were no less prone to embracing these enthusiasms, and perhaps more so given their lesser experience of them. Partisan attachments and popular participation in elections at the national level strengthened these tendencies to identify with interests other than those of one’s own community.

American democracy, the sort Jefferson codified and idealised, fell prey to large-scale and rather ideological democracy. It remains debatable whether this was avoidable once self-government and expanded franchise were linked in practice and the new democratic state constitutions of the 1820s and 1830s began muddling the understanding of self-government held by the Founders.

By late afternoon May 13, talks had stalled between Uzbekistan authorities and armed demonstrators inside a government building in Andijan. Speaking by phone to the gunmen, a top law-enforcement official used an Uzbek proverb to foretell the government’s next move:

“Your eyes will soon see what befalls you.”

Shortly afterward, gun-mounted armored personnel carriers raced up to Babur Square outside the building, where thousands more demonstrators were rallying against the trial of 23 local businessmen on Islamic extremism charges. Without warning, Uzbek soldiers opened fire on the crowd, survivors said.

Every other street leading from the square already had been blocked by military vehicles and soldiers. Uzbek authorities left only one way out: Chulpon Prospekt, Andijan’s main thoroughfare.

Several thousand Uzbeks, almost all of them unarmed, jammed into the broad, tree-lined street. Fifteen minutes later, the ambush began. Uzbek soldiers on rooftops, in apartment windows and treetops fired down on protesters huddled together, many with arms linked.

“The bullets rained down,” said Abdulsalam Karimov, 50. “There were soldiers everywhere with one aim–to kill everybody.” ~The Chicago Tribune

Defense officials from Russia and the United States last week helped block a new demand for an international probe into the Uzbekistan government’s shooting of hundreds of protesters last month, according to U.S. and diplomatic officials.

British and other European officials had pushed to include language calling for an independent investigation in a communique issued by defense ministers of NATO countries and Russia after a daylong meeting in Brussels on Thursday. But the joint communique merely stated that “issues of security and stability in Central Asia, including Uzbekistan,” had been discussed.

The outcome obscured an internal U.S. dispute over whether NATO ministers should raise the May 13 shootings in Andijan at the risk of provoking Uzbekistan to cut off U.S. access to a military air base on its territory.

The communique’s wording was worked out after what several knowledgeable sources called a vigorous debate in Brussels between U.S. defense officials, who emphasized the importance of the base, and others, including State Department representatives at NATO headquarters, who favored language calling for a transparent, independent and international probe into the killings of Uzbekistan civilians by police and soldiers. ~The Washington Post

As more accounts of the Andijan massacre have been forthcoming in the press, it is clear that the Uzbek government has been lying about and suppressing inquiries into an unusually blatant and heinous act of repression. The Uzbek military, which wrought the slaughtering of protesters, receives millions in U.S. aid. That connects Washington and the American tax-payer, unfortunately but inextricably, to these terrible events. It is the military of a state allied in the so-called War on Terror, and therefore its actions, even those within Uzbekistan’s borders, reflect on America in central Asia and beyond and further sully our reputation. Islam Karimov is our poster boy for the sort of regime we actually endorse in the region, whatever silly and irresponsible chatter we have heard to the contrary. Wiser statesmen in every age have known how valuable reputation is for the influence of one’s state in the world, and how impossible it is to retrieve once it has been lost. Why are we letting our reputation be ruined still more by the likes of a Karimov?

Unlike the much greater massacre at Hama in 1982 by Syrian forces, the Uzbek government cannot even attempt to claim that the people being slaughtered in the streets were dangerous Islamists or that they were even associated with Islamists. The already tenuous connections between the 23 accused businessmen and militant Islamist groups already strains credulity. Here the full schizophrenia of American policy in the Islamic world is revealed. Mr. Bush has declared support for secular, authoritarian regimes in Muslim countries to be acceptable no longer, and thus goes out of his way to encourage and strengthen Islamist forces in these countries. At the same time is not willing to follow through on this supposedly high-minded principle, even when the Islamist threat is minimal and the regime in question has committed atrocities against civilians, because doing so would threaten U.S. hegemony and a sought-after central Asian military base.

From a realist perspective, Uzbekistan is now as much of an embarrassment and political liability as it ever was a strategic asset, and it should be cut loose from all connections to America. From an America First perspective, of course, there should never have been a base in Uzbekistan, or at least it should not have lasted beyond 2002, and the sooner Americans end their military and financial relationship with Tashkent the better. We will wait in vain for Washington to impose any penalties on Uzbekistan for what its army did in Andijan, but there is no doubt that we ought to cut off diplomatic relations with any country that deliberately slaughters peaceful protesters. We did so after the Tiananmen massacre, and even if the body count is not as high in this case the principle is the same.

Dinara Asanbaeva, academic supervisor at a political science academy sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said the arrangement also made her doubt both men’s commitment to democracy.

“These leaders are just trying to divide up the benefits of the revolution between themselves,” she said. “It’s a change of the political elite but not of the political system.”

People are also concerned because Bakiyev will inherit a constitution — retooled by Akayev in the ’90s — that gives the president sweeping powers over parliament and makes impeachment all but impossible.

There are plans to reform the constitution by referendum in September, and Bakiyev has pledged to support such moves if he is elected. But under the current constitution, Kyrgyzstan’s 5 million citizens would have few legal options if Bakiyev were to go back on his word.

“I’m afraid that with all the power he will have after the elections, it will be very difficult for him to resist,” Asanbaeva said. “Every human being is weak, and Mr. Bakiyev has a past in [Akayev’s] government. The only reason he was in opposition was because of personal differences with Akayev, not out of principle.” ~The Washington Post

Insurgents determined to flout an Iraqi-led security offensive in Baghdad put on a bloody show of defiance with a dual suicide attack which left up to 30 people dead and more than 100 injured.

The attacks, carried out in the predominantly Shia town of Hillah, south of Baghdad, came on the second day of Operation Lightning, the biggest security sweep in the capital since the war ended in 2003. ~The Independent

The chief of police in Basra admitted yesterday that he had effectively lost control of three-quarters of his officers and that sectarian militias had infiltrated the force and were using their posts to assassinate opponents.

Speaking to the Guardian, General Hassan al-Sade said half of his 13,750-strong force was secretly working for political parties in Iraq’s second city and that some officers were involved in ambushes.

Other officers were politically neutral but had no interest in policing and did not follow his orders, he told the Guardian.

“I trust 25% of my force, no more.”

The claim jarred with Basra’s reputation as an oasis of stability and security and underlined the burgeoning influence of Shia militias in southern Iraq. ~The Guardian

The insurgency in Iraq is “in the last throes,” Vice President Dick Cheney says, and he predicts that the fighting will end before the Bush administration leaves office.

In a wide-ranging interview Monday on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” Cheney cited the recent push by Iraqi forces to crack down on insurgent activity in Baghdad and reports that the most-wanted terrorist leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had been wounded.

The vice president said he expected the war would end during President Bush’s second term, which ends in 2009.

“I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time,” Cheney said. “The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.” ~CNN

Col. David H. Hackworth, the United States Army’s legendary, highly decorated guerrilla fighter and lifelong champion of the doughboy and dogface, groundpounder and grunt, died Wednesday in Mexico. He was 74 years old. The cause of death was a form of cancer now appearing with increasing frequency among Vietnam veterans exposed to the defoliants called Agents Orange and Blue.

Col. Hackworth spent more than half a century on the country’s hottest battlefields, first as a soldier, then as a writer, war correspondent and sharp-eyed critic of the Military Industrial Complex and ticket-punching generals he dismissed as Perfumed Princes. He preferred the combat style of World War II and Korean War heroes like James Gavin and Matthew Ridgeway and, during Vietnam, of Hank “The Gunfighter” Emerson and Hal Moore. General Moore, the author of “We Were Soldiers Once and Young,” called him “the Patton of Vietnam” and General Creighton Abrams, the last American commander in that disastrous war, described him as “the best battalion commander I ever saw in the United States Army.”

Col. Hackworth’s battlefield exploits put him on the line of American military heroes squarely next to Sgt. York and Audie Murphy. The novelist Ward Just, who knew him for forty years, described him as “the genuine article, a soldier’s soldier, a connoisseur of combat.” At 14, as World War II was sputtering out, he lied about his age to join the Merchant Marine, and at 15 he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Over the next 26 years he spent fully seven in combat. He was put in for the Medal of Honor three times; the last application is currently under review at the Pentagon. He was twice awarded the Army’s second highest honor for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross, along with 10 Silver Stars and 8 Bronze Stars. When asked about his many awards, he always said he was proudest of his 8 Purple Hearts and his Combat Infantryman’s Badge.

A reputation won on the battlefield made it impossible to dismiss him when he went on the attack later as a critic of careerism and incompetence in the military high command. In 1971, he appeared in the field on ABC’s Issue and Answers to say Vietnam “is a bad war…it can’t be won. We need to get out.” He also predicted that Saigon would fall to the North Vietnamese within four years, a prediction that turned out to be far more accurate than anything the Joint Chiefs of Staff were telling President Nixon or that the President was telling the American people.

With almost five years in country, Col. Hackworth was the only senior officer to sound off about the Vietnam War. After the interview, he retired from the Army and moved to Australia.

“He was perhaps the finest soldier of his generation,” observed the novelist and war correspondent Nicholas Proffit, who described Col. Hackworth’s combat autobiography About Face, a national best-seller, as “a passionate cry from the heart of a man who never stopped loving the Army, even when it stopped loving him back.” ~PRNewswire

Col. Hackworth was a great and outstandingly patriotic man. He was among the finest soldiers in American military history, as well as being an effective and honourable advocate for the welfare of American soldiers to his last days. He always put the welfare of this country and the men of our armed forces ahead of everything else. For all these things he should be honoured and remembered as long as our country exists. The ignorant and fatuous military men and militarists can breathe a sigh of relief that one of their greatest foes is gone. Fortunately, Col. Hackworth’s Soldiers for the Truth remains, and I would urge everyone who admired Col. Hackworth to support his organisation in the future.

The Inter-Orthodox Theological Conference “Ecumenism: Origins – Expectations – Disenchantment” was convened on September 20th, 2004 in Thessaloniki, Greece and carried out its work until September 24th with great success. The conference was organized by the Department of Pastoral and Social Theology of the Theological School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the Society of Orthodox Studies. Conference sessions were held in the Ceremony Hall of the University.

The conference commenced with a proclamation by His All-holiness Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki. In attendance were many Metropolitans and Bishops, as well as the mayor of Thessaloniki (Mr. Panagiotis Psomiadis), members of the Greek Parliament, and university professors, who offered greetings to the conference attendees.

Over the five days of the conference, sixty respected speakers, including Hierarchs from various Orthodox Churches, analyzed every aspect of Ecumenism before a packed audience of the abbots of holy monasteries, clergy, monks, and laity, among which were many theologians, professors from both Theological Schools, and students of the Theological School of the University of Thessaloniki

Conference participants came to the following conclusions, based on the numerous presentations and accompanying discussions (PDF file linked).

Hat tip to Uncut Mountain.

For people who think a bit like Schall, reflecting on whether any political philosophy is left in the Bush administration, not to mention conservative or neoconservative ideology - he narrows down any categorization of himself to a fondness for St. Thomas Aquinas - there has been an obvious change. In his view, the big problem arose in the administration’s not talking candidly enough about the Big Problem.

Referring to President George W. Bush, he said: “I always thought it was a mistake not say what Iraq really was, that is, a war against an expanding Islam. I can put myself in Bush’s position, of course, and understand it was a prudential act to say it was a war on terrorism.” ~The International Herald-Tribune

“I say here, and I know well what I speak of, there were never any necessary wars but the religious wars. There were never any just wars but the religious wars. There were never any humane wars but the religious wars. For these men were fighting for something that claimed, at least, to be the happiness of man, the virtue of a man.” ~G.K. Chesterton, The Napoleon of Notting Hill

Further, I argue that our main problems are not too much force, but too little. A peaceful world is not a world with no ready forces but one with adequate, responsible, and superior force that is used when necessary. The failure to have or use such forces causes terror and war to grow exponentially. Unused force, when needed at a particular time and place, ceases to be force. But force is meaningless if one does not know that he has an enemy or how this enemy works and thinks. That latter is a spiritual and philosophical problem, not a technical one. Many an adequately armed country has been destroyed because it did not recognize its real enemy. Nor is this an argument for force “for force’s sake.” It is an argument for force for justice’s sake. I am not for “eternal peace,” which is a this-worldly myth, but for real peace of actual men in an actual and fallen world. Peace is not a goal, but a consequence of doing what is right and preventing what is wrong and, yes, knowing the difference between the two. ~Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., Policy Review

There is something vaguely unsettling about a Jesuit who reads Profs. Dawson and Lewis approvingly, and professes a fairly standard, old-fashioned view of just war (and one that does not go in for the ludicrous licenses that George Weigel, for example, has taken with Catholic doctrine) who nonetheless supports the invasion of Iraq because of, of all the reasons, the one reason no notable advocate for war ever set forth: a civilisational imperative to resist “expanding Islam”. But perhaps it is not so surprising that a regular columnist for Crisis magazine maintains such a strange position.
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Leo [XIII] expects the State—for the worker’s good and ultimately for the common good—to impose these obligations on employers if they do not freely accept them (31 et seq.). Now, if companies have to give Sundays and holy days off; if they have to limit their hours and make family-friendly policies; if they have to limit their use of pregnant or nursing women, etc., then in all of these ways they are being made to “lose money.” In Woods’ terms, some one’s “gain comes at another’s coerced expense.” One can cite similar points ad nauseam. [Thomas] Woods is so far from Catholic social teaching—indeed, from the entire Western tradition from Aristotle through the Fathers down to Saint Thomas—he isn’t even moving in the same universe. This ought to be troubling his conscience. If Woods replies that he agrees with what the popes want (e.g., a living wage) but he thinks he knows better how to get those results, he is dodging the problems that we are facing here and now. Let us pretend that the magic of the free market will work things out to everyone’s advantage . . . someday. How long from now? Ten years? Twenty? Fifty? Meanwhile, do we let wage agreements contrary to the moral law simply stand unchecked, because the lives of some poor people have to be, as it were, manure to fertilize the ground for more prosperous days? It seems to me the Church is saying: The worker has to be given such and such, here and now. If not, mortal sin is being committed and the common good damaged. If this means inefficiency, okay; if it means a lower gross national product, okay; if it means the rich have to live more frugally, that’s even better.

~ Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, This Goes Way Beyond Free Markets on the Chronicles website

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