THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 484 September 17 - 23, 2007
Highlights this week:
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September 17, 2007
I have medical appointments this afternoon. This will have to be short.
Greg Cochran, who often sees things clearly and always says precisely what he thinks, has been unrelenting in his contempt for those who put us into this war. He is convinced that they are both stupid and evil, with the emphasis on stupid; and that there is nothing to be said in their favor or in explanation of what they have done. Of course this means that the entire Congress, and much of the Executive Branch of government are not merely deluded by virulent ideologies, but just dumber than dirt.
A minute's thought will convince you that this view can't be correct. These people have been clever enough to be either elected or appointed to positions of power; and to delude the rest of the nation, who are presumably smarter than they are (or else the lot of us are stupid, with Cochran being the only intelligent person in the land). Cochran is correct: there was insufficient intelligence (the old fashioned kind, smarts, not military intelligence) applied to the Near East situation. A very smart group with an agenda was able to convince an equally smart group of people to do a very stupid thing: something that, seen in retrospect, is very stupid. But did it seem stupid at the time?
Among those convinced to go along with the invasion were both Hillary Clinton and William F. Buckley, Jr., neither of whom is stupid under any acceptable definition of the term. Buckley was even persuaded to allow the egregious Frum to denounce all those who did not enthusiastically endorse the invasion of Iraq, to allow Frum to insult Stephen Tonsor and other intellectual conservative philosophers who pointed out the errors in the egregious Frum's article, and stuck to his guns when it was apparent to much of the nation that the invasion was a mistake to begin with and the implementation was a disaster. It took Buckley a long time to realize that the invasion was a ghastly error.
I have before said that the explanation of all this is Jacobinism. Buckley, no Jacobin, was persuaded by Jacobins and the argument of patriotism and national unity, but Jacobin arguments affected him as well. I have said this often, sometimes in reply to private mail by Cochran.
Today I received from Greg:
Now if you want to descend to that level of debate, go ahead.
My view remains that most of those who thought the invasion would be a cakewalk did so because of Jacobinism: they really believed that given the overthrow of the monster, people would leap at the prospect of freedom and democracy. Hell, they still say such things.
This was compounded by Chalabi the Thief who told them what they wanted to hear: that Iraq would unify, that the people of Iraq thirsted for democracy and were basically pro-western, that control of this civilized country would be easy -- and it would then ally with the West.
That doesn't mean that Jacobinism was the reason for the invasion. Most of those urging the invasion have national interests at heart. Unfortunately they are not all US national interests. And some had commercial interests at heart.
But intelligent people went on with the silly invasion because they actually believed that when tyrants are overthrown, then democracy can be encouraged; that we can carry liberation into the Middle East on the points of our bayonets.
A few of us, including me, pointed out that it wasn't going to work that way, but we were drowned out because Jacobinism is the national sentiment, taught in every US college and high school. In every human heart beats the desire for freedom. Democracy is the only legitimate form of government (counting noses and weighing the vote of the village idiot the same as that of the professor is the only legitimate form of government) (being governed by the first 500 names in the Boston telephone directory rather than Harvard University faculty is the only legitimate form of government)...
My point being that Jacobinism is so pervasive in our political thought that we have forgotten Madison and Hamilton and Jay, and George Washington, and the Adams dynasty and in general our national heritage.
And I am out of time, due to a medical appointment. I have to keep emphasizing: what Greg calls herd instinct is certainly correct (Pareto has a much better analysis); and in the US the intellectual herd instinct is Jacobinism. It is politically incorrect to say that Democracy is not the end goal of history, the only worthwhile form of government. We no longer even hear of the defects of Democracy. Writers like Parkinson and books like his Evolution of Political Thought are out of print although fortunately they can still be found on line. (I have not investigated the copyright status of the various eBook versions of his book which I recommend highly. Surely one of them is authorized? )
Everyone in government starts with the assumption that the desirable end result of history is democracy. That's the herd instinct. Wishful thinking -- within every human heart beats a burning desire for freedom and democracy -- does the rest.
The disaster in Iraq began at Yale and Princeton, and until the modern political ideology is defeated in academia, it will continue to inspire imbecilic policies like open borders, pre-emptive wars against people who are no threat to us, entangling alliances, interfering and involvement in the territorial disputes of Europe and Asia and elsewhere, and putting cheap goods ahead of the national interest and welfare.
I agree that much of the intellectual establishment has been stupefied and acts stupidly; but merely saying so is not going to change things. Before you can cure a disease you must diagnose it: and my diagnosis is that we still believe in "The End of History", the simple minded philosophy of the enlightenment, and the ideal of egalitarian democracy. Until we expand our intellectual horizons we will continue to act stupidly, and after the policies fail, wonder how we could be so stupid.
I have to get out of here now. I note that the incoming Fire Chief of Los Angeles has said that ending discrimination will be the number one job of the Fire Department.
I would have thought that preventing and putting out fires was more important, but clearly the entire City Council and the Fire Department Officials think otherwise. And they tell me that Jacobinism isn't pervasive.
I have returned from my EENT appointment. They find nothing treatable, and nothing to worry about. Tinnitus isn't treatable. My other difficulties don't seem to be degenerative. It looks as if I'll be around for a few more years.
Mark Graves sent this:
I thought this said it best.
|This week:||Tuesday, September
I have done both the mailbag and the column and they await formatting and posting by the managing editor.
I bring this up because I am in a small debate in another conference on just what a Conservative is. If you take a poll on the subject you will get one answer, because the neo-cons have stolen our label but left behind most of our principles. No real Conservative could possibly have endorsed the crazy spending spree of the Bush Administration. I will leave endorsement of the War for another time; suffice it to say that Buckley endorsed the invasion of Iraq, although doing so violated nearly every Conservative principle.
And that, I would say, is key to defining Conservatism and Conservatives. Conservatives, the real thing, have principles and insist that those who govern in their name do so from those principles; not from expediency, not in response to the whims of the moment and temporary majorities, but from real principles.
That almost inevitably condemns Conservatives to an advisory rather than a governing role, particularly in a nation in transition from Republic to Democracy (which will inevitably lead to Imperialism). Conservatives will insist that not all things are possible, that not all government actions will do good, that "Big Government Conservatism" is a contradiction in terms, and that foreign policy ought to serve our national interests, not send out our blood and treasure to Do Good in Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East.
When Buckley founded National Review he said the purpose was to stand in the way of history and shout "Stop!". For a long while NR did that -- and by doing it, kept the debate alive, and made it possible to slow some of the headlong rush to disaster. But note that National Review couldn't stop The Great Society, which finally did in the black American family (slavery couldn't do that; Reconstruction couldn't; Jim Crow and legal segregation couldn't destroy the black family). And eventually National Review ran the articles by the egregious Frum denouncing as no longer conservative anyone who opposed the Iraq invasion.
It's an important debate: should the neo-cons, most of them with Trotskyite origins and residual beliefs in the power of big government do Do Good, be entitled to the honorable designation of Conservative? Real conservatism became a movement in America when Russell Kirk put together the philosophical foundations, a set of self-consistent principles derived from both Edmund Burke and the American Framers of the Constitution. Conservative scholars read Kirk and Burke, but also The Federalist Papers, and George Washington's early speeches, the letters of John Adams. We don't expect all conservative followers to read this stuff; but we do expect our leaders to be familiar with our origins.
At least I think I can make that case. I do not see how an administration that spent money like drunken sailors, engineered entangling alliances, and got us involved in the territorial disputes of Europe and the Middle East can be said to have paid much attention to the principles of American Conservatism.
So let me repeat:
You may hear the poem read to you at http://www.olimu.com/Readings/GodsOfTheCopybookHeadings.htm The reading is excellent; the commentary is typical modern academia. No matter. The poem is what counts.
Do not forget: tomorrow is International Talk Like a Pirate Day
September 19, 2007
Well, me hearties, 'tis another day I be wanderin' about wonderin' when me editor will respond to me tales of Hell. 'Tis hard to get much done while waiting for the shoes to drop. So I be playin' about with notebooks and plot points and readin' old Helen McInnis novels. If I only had a plot!
Now we be off for a walk along the quay.
Will one of the attorneys in the readership explain how OJ can prepare a defense if he can have no contact with the co-defendants?
Tomorrow several letters on growing food and on capacitors to run cars.
There is a lot of great mail. It's time for my walk.
Inquiry from another conference:
My first thought was that this was an absurd question, but then I couldn't come up with any counter examples.
This just in: Arctic sea ice is re=forming, and the Northwest Passage may close shortly. Now what?
Now go read Fred on comics:
I recall when I went to first grade at St. Anne's (on Highland Ave. in the neighborhood known as Normal in Memphis) I could read, thanks to comic books and later Big Little Books. I also developed a pretty good vocabulary. While in first grade I encountered V. M. Hillyer, A Child's History of the World, and a few months after his A Child's Geography of the World. Those two books are out of print, and I would to Heaven that they were easily available; I recently acquired good copies for about $50 each.
Anyone trying to raise children to be educated adults would do well to buy those books at whatever cost, and pound on the copyright holder to get them back into print at a lower cost. They had a great deal to do with shaping my view of the world as I grew up. I knew about Alexander the Great and his horse when I was five, and I had an historical view of the world by the time I got to Capleville Consolidated in 4th Grade.
Modern comic books are not the same as the old Detective Comics and More Fun of my youth. Alas.
Regarding women in programming, Colonel Couvillon suggests Admiral Grace Hopper.
She was certainly a formidable woman. I twice had the misfortune to be the speaker following her at a major event. She was then Commodore Hopper, and her lecture included handing out nanoseconds -- a bit of wire cut to the length that it would take electrons to travel 1 nanosecond. And of course she told the story of the original "bug", a moth that had got into the contacts of a relay, and was taped into the official log.
She was a formidable speaker and leader, but did she actually write programs? Perhaps so; they would have been in COBOL which was the language she knew and worked with.
Thanks. EFF does not come off as the good guys in this. Neither does SCRIBD. SFWA is still considering its options, meaning that writers are on their own right now; there is no author association looking out for their interests. I have hopes that SFWA will find it has a spine after all.
Child's History... is available for $27.50 plus S&H from:http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?sts=t&tn=a+child%27s+history+of+the+world&x=0&y=0
Child's Geography is available for $15.00 plus S&H from:http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?sts=t&tn=a+child%27s+geography+of+the+world&x=0&y=0
You have to scroll down in each case.
September 21, 2007
I now have plenty of examples of why I don't run a "blog" on which everyone can post anything they like. How many of you want to read 300 messages that say "Grace Hopper" or some variant of the above, then another 50 saying "Oh, I should have read further," then --
Of course I knew that, but thanks for the reminder. I also knew that the chap who asked the question (a software billionaire whose name you would know) knew about Roberta's program. Roberta's program is an example of the sort of thing I used to write about in the 80's: there will come a time when programming won't be important. What will be important is what you teach the computer to do; knowing something worth doing on a computer. The mechanics of writing the program are unimportant compared to the job the computer is doing. Her program teaches people to read. It does it without fail.
I will have some excerpts from mail about Admiral Hopper, who does seem to be instrumental in the development of the first COBOL compiler. At one time there were more programs in COBOL than in all other languages combined.
And of course how could we have forgotten Augusta Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace? Who was bled to death by physicians just as her father had been done in by the doctors. If Byron could have stayed awake -- he kept the doctors away -- kept drinking beer he'd have got over the dysentery, and might very likely have become the first King of Greece, in which case his daughter might or might not have tried her hand at programming...
When I get back from my walk I'll put up a couple of letters about women in programming.
Well, in Louisiana the Reverend Jackson and other black leaders seem to be saying that if some high school students hang a rope from a tree, they get to burn down the school, beat a white kid senseless, and generally act like barbarians.
Liberals, who expect blacks to behave this way rather than to behave like citizens, encourage this sort of thing. They like feeling paternalistic. Having grown up in an aristocratic society where we were supposed to look out for blacks and defend them against the lower class crackers, I can tell them: it's not a job you really want. Encouraging people to be in tutelage rather than grow up doesn't have a very high payoff either psychologically or economically. I got the hell out of that society by joining the Army at age 17 (having convinced the recruiting officers I was 18; after all, I was a high school graduate), and I have not missed that aspect of the Old South since. I don't want to be responsible for other people who are expected not to act like adults.
Hanging a noose from a tree is not a crime. It's not a nice thing to do, but then rap music played at high volume accusing all women of being ho's and inviting violence against the police and authorities is not nice. Does that mean that if a group of kids decides to destroy the boom box and beat its owner senseless they should be justified and defended by marches? If so, then we are talking about revolution and ethnic cleansing, open warfare. Let them fight it out to exhaustion. Bring Iraq to Louisiana and Mississippi and California.
Is that really what the liberals who are flocking to Louisiana want?
I expect black and white citizens to act civilized, and finding excuses for barbarism does not seem like a worthwhile activity.
Jerry, Hillyer's Child's History of the World is back in print, available from the Calvert School, which specializes in helping homeschoolers:
Copyright was renewed in 1952, so it's not going to be available from Project Gutenberg.
Homeschooling or not, anyone with a child under 12 should get this book. It is an essential introduction to Western Civilization.
|This week:||Saturday, September
Don't the days seem shorter already? And the storms have begun in Los Angeles.
Reminding you: if you have children, get Hillyer.
And now it's time for our walk before it rains again.
We got out just as the next storm started. That didn't take long...
.I took the day off.
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