Sir James Lovelock; the Roberts decision and the coming election; education, aristocracy, and The Revolt of the Masses; and more.


Mail 731 Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.


I will open with this in a spirit of fairness:

Canadian Crude

Dear Jerry:

Reading your header , " Gaia guru derides Warmist believers; <> my eyes rolled skyward before beginning to search the page for the National Inquirer masthead.

It turned out instead to be the Toronto Sun, which has a lot in common with its London namesake If you want to know what James Lovelock thinks , there are better ways to find out than letting one newspaper edit what he had to say to another, especially when the subject is oil , and the second hand journalism is cut to fit the taste of Canada’s tar patch.

Here’s a link to the full transcript of what Sir James actually said, as opposed to Charles Brumbelow’s take on the wishful thinking of Watts Up with That.

It appeared under the no less interesting title,

James Lovelock on shale gas and the problem with the Greens

Russell Seitz

Well, my headline did go further than Sir James’ text, but I will plead that my exaggeration is mild compared to those of the True Believers.



Hi Jerry,

Your analysis is the best I’ve seen to explain why Roberts did what he did, and I agree that this election is critically important.

I just wish we were running Reagan and not Romney. We sorely need a statesman with grand vision (not just the guy who’s turn it is) right now.



You are hardly alone in wishing that we had Mr. Reagan instead of Romney. But wishing will not make it so. We must play the hand we have been dealt. Mr. Romney won the primary. I was not thrilled with his attacks on my friend Newt Gingrich, but I never had a hope that Newt would win in the first place. Romney has been through every mill there is. He remains the most solidly states rights candidate other than the governor of Texas, and that is one big plus. He is more Mormon than Establishment, and self-reliance is strong among Mormons. So is states rights.


Health care gloom

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

A bit more serious than the last email, but I wish to direct your attention to the following two articles.

I share their concern. Romney’s criticism of Obamacare has been muted. I have a nasty suspicion that "repeal and replace" simply means "make a symbolic vote, make some cosmetic changes, then continue with Obamacare with a shiny new ‘Romneycare’ label". Sort of like what they do on cars when they turn a Chevrolet into a Cadillac by changing the hood ornament.

Or do we truly expect the author of Romneycare to be anxious to undo something that closely resembles his signature achievement?

My concern is that there is insufficient fire in the belly of Republicans in power to repeal Obamacare even if they do get all three branches in November. ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ or something similar is more likely.

Do you have any suggestions? The only one I can think of is ‘light a fire under the Republicans running for office’.


Brian P.

The key is what kind of majority Romney gets. If it is clear that the Republicans owe their win to the tea party, then non-establishment Republicans will have far more influence than if the Republicans think they are winning on their charm and merits. Since most of them are terrified, a shift in the leadership can be important. We’ve been through all this before. The Reagan/Ford primary election that resulted in Carter is in some senses the predecessor of the 2010 election.

As to Romneycare, I have never heard him suggest that what was correct and constitutional for a state is either constitutional or desirable as a federal program; and I have often heard him say that Romneycare was never intended as a federal program. Why impute to him a desire to implement something that he has repeatedly said was a state matter and has never proposed for national implementation?

The conservative cause is not going magically to take control of the government no matter what happens; but I would rather negotiate with the Republican establishment than with the Democrat establishment.

I do not pretend that the situation is not desperate. Mr. Roberts has made it so, whether deliberately or for some other reason. (I will not accept that he has lost his senses.) This election will be a referendum on entitlements. I think the Republicans will win, because Obama care is not popular; but for the conservatives to win we need to turn out every sympathizer we have. We must be seen to have finally decided to act. Those who want self government must make some effort at governing themselves.

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.


‘This means that Chief Justice Roberts is right. There is no short cut to reforming the welfare state and ending its reign of injustice and oppression. It must be accomplished through the expression of the American popular will.’


Roland Dobbins

Madison made it very clear. You cannot have a special institution designed to protect the rights and liberties of the people. Qui custodiet and all that. Kemal Ataturk thought to entrust the liberties of the Turkish people to his comrades in arms, and made the Army the guardian of Turkey as a secular state. They did that remarkably well for four generations, but it is unlikely that this will continue. Timocracy is viable but it generally will not last.

The liberties of the American people are entrusted to the whole of the people. Courts can delay, courts can warn, or, as with the Warren Court, they can be something to fear. But liberty must be won continually; it is not something you can win once and go back to sleep. As we are finding more and more.

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free. And eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Those clichés were once more than clichés and slogans; they were learned in the cradle and nurtured in grade school. We have forgotten them, and for some they are corny old clichés. They are not. They are the axioms of liberty.


Hello, Jerry –

So, according to Justice Roberts, ObamaCare is a tax. OK, I’l buy that. What,exactly, is being taxed?

My understanding of direct/indirect taxation is that a direct tax is one levied on property, while an indirect is one levied on the transfer of property (or wealth). In the case of health insurance, it seems unlikely that this would be an indirect tax, since the point of insurance is that you pay your premium even if you received no benefits.

If ObamaCare is then a direct tax, why is it not subject to the apportionment requirement, and so invalid in its present form?


Jim Martin

What Mr. Roberts is trying to tell you is that such matters are important only if you believe in the Constitution; and the Court can only prevent the political branches of government from doing as they will for so long. He says he can no longer protect us from the consequences of our political actions. For things like the apportionment requirement to be important you must first decide that such legalisms are more important than compassion and entitlement.


Subj: Ray Bradbury: "Reagan was our greatest president"

I recall rereading the book publication of Bradbury’s essay "Apollo, the Sun Goes Out," arguing for the continuation of the space program instead of canceling it to pay for welfare programs; it has been a subtle influence on my life and thought ever since. So I can’t say I’m surprised. It appears to have originally been published in the LA Times, 17 May 1972. (The reprint was published in Perry Rhodan 18, Ace Books, 1972). But while I think I’ve seen it on the web in the past, it doesn’t turn up on a web search now, so there are probably no legitimate copies out there.

Some of his thoughts which went into that essay are captured here:

Yes. Ray was too thoroughly entwined with the Hollywood establishment to be very open politically, and he talked politics very quietly and confidentially. He had a lot at stake. But he was also very much pro space exploration.


Political campaign lost, knowledge won…

"Having completed a political campaign, and lost, I’ve gained a new awareness of the nature and vulnerabilities of incumbent politicians in the current era of American national socialism. More importantly, I’ve glimpsed the unlimited possibilities and glorious impact of individual decisions to challenge the illusion of central authority and to live free, by no man’s leave and as we wish."

Charles Brumbelow

I’ve won campaigns and I have lost campaigns. I was a county chairman in the Goldwater presidential election (and we did carry the state for George Murphy but not for Goldwater) and I was manager of Barry Goldwater Junior’s first and successful campaign for Congress.

Freedom is not free, and there is always a campaign.


Apple and the Strategy of Technology

Dear Jerry,

After reading the article you linked about McNamara and the Strategy of Technology, I was struck by a thought. For fifteen years Apple has conducted the commercial equivalent of a Strategy of Technology. They understand that technology is a stream, and they seek to swim with it. They perfect their logistics and operations, but only in the service of their strategy, and that strategy is based on a similar understanding of technology to SoT.

The three of you wrote: "To make the enemy counter each move you make, and dance to your tune, is the aim of a Technological War strategy."

I think that’s a fair summary of life at Google, Microsoft, RIM, Nokia, Samsung, Asus etc. recently. I wait to see what happens next. (And at least in commercial competition, the fallout is only metaphorical.)

Steve Setzer

An insightful observation. Thank you.


Subj: Charles Murray: The BA is a Work of the Devil

>>As long as the piece of paper called a BA remains the emblem of educational success, it will lead to colleges and community colleges that collude with students to provide that piece of paper without regard to anything that is learned. …<<


As usual, Murray is very much worth reading. I am working on several essays on what to do about the education crisis, but that involves understanding what education is. Most people can never be ‘educated’ in the true sense of the word; yet civilization depends on their being a core of educated and influential men and women.

Any discussion of education must also include Ortega y Gasset, Revolt of the Masses, and its implications.

“we distinguished the excellent man from the common man by saying that the former is the one who makes great demands on himself, and the latter the one who makes no demands on himself, but contents himself with what he is, and is delighted with himself. Contrary to what is usually thought, it is the man of excellence, and not the common man who lives in essential servitude. Life has no savour for him unless he makes it consist in service to something transcendental. Hence he does not look upon the necessity of serving as an oppression. When, by chance, such necessity is lacking, he grows restless and invents some new standard, more difficult, more exigent, with which to coerce himself. This is life lived as a discipline — the noble life. Nobility is defined by the demands it makes on us — by obligations, not by rights. Noblesse oblige. ‘To live as one likes is plebeian; the noble man aspires to order and law’ (Goethe) (quoted in

And from years ago:

Hamilton, the bastard son of a Scots peddler, would have been content to have an hereditary Senate, and primogeniture, and in general the trappings and makings of aristocracy in the United States of the Framers. And Ortega y Gasset said that a civilization is a civilization only so long as it is aristocratic. Most people find the rather mobile aristocracy of the later British Empire, especially after the reforms of Macaulay, to have been one of its more admirable points: it wasn’t that they were all virtuous, in the old sense of the Four Cardinal Virtues, but that they aspired to be, and admired that kind of virtue — and admitted that there were virtues, which our present day equalitarian society does not, lest we discover that they are not as wide spread as we like, and we have to pass judgment on someone.

Prudence, Temperance, Courage, and Justice: if the British aristocracy that perished in the Boer war and then in The Great War did not all exhibit those virtues, they all admired them and found them desirable. Even Flashman finds himself being virtuous despite himself…

If we cannot be a republic, then the aristocratic empire of the Widow of Windsor may be what we must aspire to. What other models do we have? (Sparta, perhaps: an idealized Sparta was the founding myth of my Empire of Man in the series you mention; for those interested, The Prince  clip_image004is relevant.)

But recall that my CoDominium series was intended as a warning…


Subject: SCOTUS Ruling Means Bigger, More Intrusive IRS

It certainly will if Obama wins the November election. If the Republicans win, that will not be so.


Thought you might enjoy this.


David March

Indeed. Thanks.




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