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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1750 on: September 21, 2017, 07:47:55 PM »

https://www.wsj.com/articles/struggling-americans-once-sought-greener-pasturesnow-theyre-stuck-1501686801?mod=e2fb
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1751 on: September 26, 2017, 12:42:16 PM »

Op-Ed Columnist
The Dying Art of Disagreement
Plato and Aristotle in discussion, by Luca della Robbia (1437)


This is the text of a lecture delivered at the Lowy Institute Media Award dinner in Sydney, Australia, on Saturday, Sept. 23. The award recognizes excellence in Australian foreign affairs journalism.

Let me begin with thanks to the Lowy Institute for bringing me all the way to Sydney and doing me the honor of hosting me here this evening.

I’m aware of the controversy that has gone with my selection as your speaker. I respect the wishes of the Colvin family and join in honoring Mark Colvin’s memory as a courageous foreign correspondent and an extraordinary writer and broadcaster. And I’d particularly like to thank Michael Fullilove for not rescinding the invitation.

This has become the depressing trend on American university campuses, where the roster of disinvited speakers and forced cancellations includes former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice, former Harvard University President Larry Summers, actor Alec Baldwin, human-rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, DNA co-discoverer James Watson, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, filmmaker Michael Moore, conservative Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George Will and liberal Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Anna Quindlen, to name just a few.

So illustrious is the list that, on second thought, I’m beginning to regret that you didn’t disinvite me after all.

The title of my talk tonight is “The Dying Art of Disagreement.” This is a subject that is dear to me — literally dear — since disagreement is the way in which I have always earned a living. Disagreement is dear to me, too, because it is the most vital ingredient of any decent society.

To say the words, “I agree” — whether it’s agreeing to join an organization, or submit to a political authority, or subscribe to a religious faith — may be the basis of every community.

But to say, I disagree; I refuse; you’re wrong; etiam si omnes — ego non — these are the words that define our individuality, give us our freedom, enjoin our tolerance, enlarge our perspectives, seize our attention, energize our progress, make our democracies real, and give hope and courage to oppressed people everywhere. Galileo and Darwin; Mandela, Havel, and Liu Xiaobo; Rosa Parks and Natan Sharansky — such are the ranks of those who disagree.

And the problem, as I see it, is that we’re failing at the task.

This is a puzzle. At least as far as far as the United States is concerned, Americans have rarely disagreed more in recent decades.

We disagree about racial issues, bathroom policies, health care laws, and, of course, the 45th president. We express our disagreements in radio and cable TV rants in ways that are increasingly virulent; street and campus protests that are increasingly violent; and personal conversations that are increasingly embittering.

This is yet another age in which we judge one another morally depending on where we stand politically.

Nor is this just an impression of the moment. Extensive survey data show that Republicans are much more right-leaning than they were twenty years ago, Democrats much more left-leaning, and both sides much more likely to see the other as a mortal threat to the nation’s welfare.

The polarization is geographic, as more people live in states and communities where their neighbors are much likelier to share their politics.

The polarization is personal: Fully 50 percent of Republicans would not want their child to marry a Democrat, and nearly a third of Democrats return the sentiment. Interparty marriage has taken the place of interracial marriage as a family taboo.

Finally the polarization is electronic and digital, as Americans increasingly inhabit the filter bubbles of news and social media that correspond to their ideological affinities. We no longer just have our own opinions. We also have our separate “facts,” often the result of what different media outlets consider newsworthy. In the last election, fully 40 percent of Trump voters named Fox News as their chief source of news.

Thanks a bunch for that one, Australia.

It’s usually the case that the more we do something, the better we are at it. Instead, we’re like Casanovas in reverse: the more we do it, the worse we’re at it. Our disagreements may frequently hoarsen our voices, but they rarely sharpen our thinking, much less change our minds.

It behooves us to wonder why.

* * *

Thirty years ago, in 1987, a philosophy professor at the University of Chicago named Allan Bloom — at the time best known for his graceful translations of Plato’s “Republic” and Rousseau’s “Emile” — published a learned polemic about the state of higher education in the United States. It was called “The Closing of the American Mind.”

The book appeared when I was in high school, and I struggled to make my way through a text thick with references to Plato, Weber, Heidegger and Strauss. But I got the gist — and the gist was that I’d better enroll in the University of Chicago and read the great books. That is what I did.

What was it that one learned through a great books curriculum? Certainly not “conservatism” in any contemporary American sense of the term. We were not taught to become American patriots, or religious pietists, or to worship what Rudyard Kipling called “the Gods of the Market Place.” We were not instructed in the evils of Marxism, or the glories of capitalism, or even the superiority of Western civilization.

As I think about it, I’m not sure we were taught anything at all. What we did was read books that raised serious questions about the human condition, and which invited us to attempt to ask serious questions of our own. Education, in this sense, wasn’t a “teaching” with any fixed lesson. It was an exercise in interrogation.

To listen and understand; to question and disagree; to treat no proposition as sacred and no objection as impious; to be willing to entertain unpopular ideas and cultivate the habits of an open mind — this is what I was encouraged to do by my teachers at the University of Chicago.

It’s what used to be called a liberal education.

The University of Chicago showed us something else: that every great idea is really just a spectacular disagreement with some other great idea.

Socrates quarrels with Homer. Aristotle quarrels with Plato. Locke quarrels with Hobbes and Rousseau quarrels with them both. Nietzsche quarrels with everyone. Wittgenstein quarrels with himself.

These quarrels are never personal. Nor are they particularly political, at least in the ordinary sense of politics. Sometimes they take place over the distance of decades, even centuries.

Most importantly, they are never based on a misunderstanding. On the contrary, the disagreements arise from perfect comprehension; from having chewed over the ideas of your intellectual opponent so thoroughly that you can properly spit them out.

In other words, to disagree well you must first understand well. You have to read deeply, listen carefully, watch closely. You need to grant your adversary moral respect; give him the intellectual benefit of doubt; have sympathy for his motives and participate empathically with his line of reasoning. And you need to allow for the possibility that you might yet be persuaded of what he has to say.

“The Closing of the American Mind” took its place in the tradition of these quarrels. Since the 1960s it had been the vogue in American universities to treat the so-called “Dead White European Males” of the Western canon as agents of social and political oppression. Allan Bloom insisted that, to the contrary, they were the best possible instruments of spiritual liberation.

He also insisted that to sustain liberal democracy you needed liberally educated people. This, at least, should not have been controversial. For free societies to function, the idea of open-mindedness can’t simply be a catchphrase or a dogma. It needs to be a personal habit, most of all when it comes to preserving an open mind toward those with whom we disagree.

* * *

That habit was no longer being exercised much 30 years ago. And if you’ve followed the news from American campuses in recent years, things have become a lot worse.

According to a new survey from the Brookings Institution, a plurality of college students today — fully 44 percent — do not believe the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects so-called “hate speech,” when of course it absolutely does. More shockingly, a narrow majority of students — 51 percent — think it is “acceptable” for a student group to shout down a speaker with whom they disagree. An astonishing 20 percent also agree that it’s acceptable to use violence to prevent a speaker from speaking.

These attitudes are being made plain nearly every week on one college campus or another.

There are speakers being shouted down by organized claques of hecklers — such was the experience of Israeli ambassador Michael Oren at the University of California, Irvine. Or speakers who require hundreds of thousands of dollars of security measures in order to appear on campus — such was the experience of conservative pundit Ben Shapiro earlier this month at Berkeley. Or speakers who are physically barred from reaching the auditorium — that’s what happened to Heather MacDonald at Claremont McKenna College in April. Or teachers who are humiliated by their students and hounded from their positions for allegedly hurting students’ feelings — that’s what happened to Erika and Nicholas Christakis of Yale.

And there is violence. Listen to a description from Middlebury College professor Allison Stanger of what happened when she invited the libertarian scholar Charles Murray to her school to give a talk in March:

    The protesters succeeded in shutting down the lecture. We were forced to move to another site and broadcast our discussion via live stream, while activists who had figured out where we were banged on the windows and set off fire alarms. Afterward, as Dr. Murray and I left the building . . . a mob charged us.

    Most of the hatred was focused on Dr. Murray, but when I took his right arm to shield him and to make sure we stayed together, the crowd turned on me. Someone pulled my hair, while others were shoving me. I feared for my life. Once we got into the car, protesters climbed on it, hitting the windows and rocking the vehicle whenever we stopped to avoid harming them. I am still wearing a neck brace, and spent a week in a dark room to recover from a concussion caused by the whiplash.

Middlebury is one of the most prestigious liberal-arts colleges in the United States, with an acceptance rate of just 16 percent and tuition fees of nearly $50,000 a year. How does an elite institution become a factory for junior totalitarians, so full of their own certitudes that they could indulge their taste for bullying and violence?

There’s no one answer. What’s clear is that the mis-education begins early. I was raised on the old-fashioned view that sticks and stones could break my bones but words would never hurt me. But today there’s a belief that since words can cause stress, and stress can have physiological effects, stressful words are tantamount to a form of violence. This is the age of protected feelings purchased at the cost of permanent infantilization.

The mis-education continues in grade school. As the Brookings findings indicate, younger Americans seem to have no grasp of what our First Amendment says, much less of the kind of speech it protects. This is a testimony to the collapse of civics education in the United States, creating the conditions that make young people uniquely susceptible to demagogy of the left- or right-wing varieties.

Then we get to college, where the dominant mode of politics is identity politics, and in which the primary test of an argument isn’t the quality of the thinking but the cultural, racial, or sexual standing of the person making it. As a woman of color I think X. As a gay man I think Y. As a person of privilege I apologize for Z. This is the baroque way Americans often speak these days. It is a way of replacing individual thought — with all the effort that actual thinking requires — with social identification — with all the attitude that attitudinizing requires.

In recent years, identity politics have become the moated castles from which we safeguard our feelings from hurt and our opinions from challenge. It is our “safe space.” But it is a safe space of a uniquely pernicious kind — a safe space from thought, rather than a safe space for thought, to borrow a line I recently heard from Salman Rushdie.

Another consequence of identity politics is that it has made the distance between making an argument and causing offense terrifyingly short. Any argument that can be cast as insensitive or offensive to a given group of people isn’t treated as being merely wrong. Instead it is seen as immoral, and therefore unworthy of discussion or rebuttal.

The result is that the disagreements we need to have — and to have vigorously — are banished from the public square before they’re settled. People who might otherwise join a conversation to see where it might lead them choose instead to shrink from it, lest they say the “wrong” thing and be accused of some kind of political -ism or -phobia. For fear of causing offense, they forego the opportunity to be persuaded.

Take the arguments over same-sex marriage, which you are now debating in Australia. My own views in favor of same-sex marriage are well known, and I hope the Yes’s wins by a convincing margin.

But if I had to guess, I suspect the No’s will exceed whatever they are currently polling. That’s because the case for same-sex marriage is too often advanced not by reason, but merely by branding every opponent of it as a “bigot” — just because they are sticking to an opinion that was shared across the entire political spectrum only a few years ago. Few people like outing themselves as someone’s idea of a bigot, so they keep their opinions to themselves even when speaking to pollsters. That’s just what happened last year in the Brexit vote and the U.S. presidential election, and look where we are now.

If you want to make a winning argument for same-sex marriage, particularly against conservative opponents, make it on a conservative foundation: As a matter of individual freedom, and as an avenue toward moral responsibility and social respectability. The No’s will have a hard time arguing with that. But if you call them morons and Neanderthals, all you’ll get in return is their middle finger or their clenched fist.

One final point about identity politics: It’s a game at which two can play. In the United States, the so-called “alt-right” justifies its white-identity politics in terms that are coyly borrowed from the progressive left. One of the more dismaying features of last year’s election was the extent to which “white working class” became a catchall identity for people whose travails we were supposed to pity but whose habits or beliefs we were not supposed to criticize. The result was to give the Trump base a moral pass it did little to earn.

* * *

So here’s where we stand: Intelligent disagreement is the lifeblood of any thriving society. Yet we in the United States are raising a younger generation who have never been taught either the how or the why of disagreement, and who seem to think that free speech is a one-way right: Namely, their right to disinvite, shout down or abuse anyone they dislike, lest they run the risk of listening to that person — or even allowing someone else to listen. The results are evident in the parlous state of our universities, and the frayed edges of our democracies.

Can we do better?

This is supposed to be a lecture on the media, and I’d like to conclude this talk with a word about the role that editors and especially publishers can play in ways that might improve the state of public discussion rather than just reflect and accelerate its decline.

I began this talk by noting that Americans have rarely disagreed so vehemently about so much. On second thought, this isn’t the whole truth.

Yes, we disagree constantly. But what makes our disagreements so toxic is that we refuse to make eye contact with our opponents, or try to see things as they might, or find some middle ground.

Instead, we fight each other from the safe distance of our separate islands of ideology and identity and listen intently to echoes of ourselves. We take exaggerated and histrionic offense to whatever is said about us. We banish entire lines of thought and attempt to excommunicate all manner of people — your humble speaker included — without giving them so much as a cursory hearing.

The crucial prerequisite of intelligent disagreement — namely: shut up; listen up; pause and reconsider; and only then speak — is absent.

Perhaps the reason for this is that we have few obvious models for disagreeing well, and those we do have — such as the Intelligence Squared debates in New York and London or Fareed Zakaria’s show on CNN — cater to a sliver of elite tastes, like classical music.

Fox News and other partisan networks have demonstrated that the quickest route to huge profitability is to serve up a steady diet of high-carb, low-protein populist pap. Reasoned disagreement of the kind that could serve democracy well fails the market test. Those of us who otherwise believe in the virtues of unfettered capitalism should bear that fact in mind.

I do not believe the answer, at least in the U.S., lies in heavier investment in publicly sponsored television along the lines of the BBC. It too, suffers, from its own form of ideological conformism and journalistic groupthink, immunized from criticism due to its indifference to competition.

Nor do I believe the answer lies in a return to what in America used to be called the “Fairness Doctrine,” mandating equal time for different points of view. Free speech must ultimately be free, whether or not it’s fair.

But I do think there’s such a thing as private ownership in the public interest, and of fiduciary duties not only to shareholders but also to citizens. Journalism is not just any other business, like trucking or food services. Nations can have lousy food and exemplary government, as Great Britain demonstrated for most of the last century. They can also have great food and lousy government, as France has always demonstrated.

But no country can have good government, or a healthy public square, without high-quality journalism — journalism that can distinguish a fact from a belief and again from an opinion; that understands that the purpose of opinion isn’t to depart from facts but to use them as a bridge to a larger idea called “truth”; and that appreciates that truth is a large enough destination that, like Manhattan, it can be reached by many bridges of radically different designs. In other words, journalism that is grounded in facts while abounding in disagreements.

I believe it is still possible — and all the more necessary — for journalism to perform these functions, especially as the other institutions that were meant to do so have fallen short. But that requires proprietors and publishers who understand that their role ought not to be to push a party line, or be a slave to Google hits and Facebook ads, or provide a titillating kind of news entertainment, or help out a president or prime minister who they favor or who’s in trouble.

Their role is to clarify the terms of debate by championing aggressive and objective news reporting, and improve the quality of debate with commentary that opens minds and challenges assumptions rather than merely confirming them.

This is journalism in defense of liberalism, not liberal in the left-wing American or right-wing Australian sense, but liberal in its belief that the individual is more than just an identity, and that free men and women do not need to be protected from discomfiting ideas and unpopular arguments. More than ever, they need to be exposed to them, so that we may revive the arts of disagreement that are the best foundation of intelligent democratic life.

The honor the Lowy Institute does tonight’s nominees is an important step in that direction. What they have uncovered, for the rest of you to debate, is the only way by which our democracies can remain rational, reasonable, and free.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1752 on: September 28, 2017, 05:32:11 AM »



http://www.aei.org/publication/does-america-still-believe-in-the-right-to-be-wrong/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTnpWak1XTXhaRFF4TlRrMyIsInQiOiJhMXBFM3ZONkZiZ29jb3MxSzlXaTN0UHEzbkRLYXN3VFBoWVAxSmlzdW0yOHVaSXVjYWpIaDNYOTlRYXlKb29hbFwvbXA1K0hkZnZDTEx2QWpIcmRxcmlJRFpiWUJQeGczc2lNUmhEdVJOZkdtWmViUE5VelZkUGhmYzlQZTVwODEifQ%3D%3D
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1753 on: October 07, 2017, 07:15:50 AM »

The Culture of Death—and of Disdain
Why do Americans own so many guns? Because they don’t trust the protected elites to protect them.
Photo: Chad Crowe
By Peggy Noonan
Oct. 5, 2017 6:56 p.m. ET
703 COMMENTS

When news broke at Christmastime five years ago of what had happened at Newtown a friend, a news anchor, called and said with a broken voice: “What is the word for what we feel?” I thought for a moment. “Shattered,” I said. “We are shattered, all of us.” When people in ensuing days spoke of what had been done to the little children in the classrooms, I’d put up my hands and say no, we can’t keep putting those words in the air, we can’t afford it. When terrible images enter our heads and settle in, they become too real, and what is real is soon, by the unstable, imitated, repeated.

When Columbine happened in the spring of 1999, it hit me like a wave of sickness. I wrote a piece about the culture of death that produced the teenage shooters: “Think of it this way. Your child is an intelligent little fish. He swims in deep water. Waves of sound and sight, of thought and fact, come invisibly through that water, like radar. . . . The sound from the television is a wave, and the sound from the radio; the headlines on the newsstand, on the magazines, on the ad on the bus as it whizzes by—all are waves. The fish—your child—is bombarded and barely knows it. But the waves contain words like this, which I’ll limit to only one source, the news:

“. . . was found strangled and is believed to have been sexually molested . . . had her breast implants removed . . . took the stand to say the killer was smiling the day the show aired . . . said the procedure is, in fact, legal infanticide . . . is thought to be connected to earlier sexual activity among teens . . . court battle over who owns the frozen sperm . . . contains songs that call for dominating and even imprisoning women . . . died of lethal injection . . . had threatened to kill her children . . . had asked Kevorkian for help in killing himself . . . protested the game, which they said has gone beyond violence to sadism . . . showed no remorse . . . which is about a wager over whether he could sleep with another student . . .

“This is the ocean in which our children swim. This is the sound of our culture. It comes from all parts of our culture and reaches all parts of our culture, and all the people in it, which is everybody.”

We were bringing up our children in an unwell atmosphere. It would enter and distort them. Could we turn this around?

And here is the horror for me of Las Vegas: I was not shattered. That shatters me.

It was just another terrible story. It is not the new normal it is the new abnormal and deep down we know it’s not going to stop. There is too much instability in our country, too much rage and lovelessness, too many weapons.

On television, the terrible sameness. We all know the postmassacre drill now. The shocked witness knows exactly what the anchor needs and speaks in rounded, 20-second bursts. Activists have their bullet-point arguments ready because they used them last time and then saved them in a file called “Aurora,” “Virginia Tech” or “Giffords, Gabby.”

We are stuck, the debate frozen. The right honestly doesn’t understand why the left keeps insisting on reforms that won’t help. The left honestly doesn’t understand how much yearning there is among so many conservatives to do something, try something, make it better. They don’t want their kids growing up in a world where madmen have guns that shoot nine rounds a second. Many this week at least agreed bump stocks can be banned. It probably won’t help much. But if it helps just a little, for God’s sake, do it.

But: Why do so many Americans have guns? I don’t mean those who like to hunt and shoot or live far out and need protection. I don’t mean those who’ve been handed down the guns of their grandfather or father. Why do a significant number of Americans have so many guns?

Wouldn’t it help if we thought about that?

I think a lot of Americans have guns because they’re fearful—and for damn good reason. They fear a coming chaos, and know that when it happens it will be coming to a nation that no longer coheres. They think it’s all collapsing—our society, our culture, the baseline competence of our leadership class. They see the cultural infrastructure giving way—illegitimacy, abused children, neglect, racial tensions, kids on opioids staring at screens—and, unlike their cultural superiors, they understand the implications.

Nuts with nukes, terrorists bent on a mission. The grid will go down. One of our foes will hit us, suddenly and hard. In the end it could be hand to hand, door to door. I said some of this six years ago to a famously liberal journalist, who blinked in surprise. If that’s true, he said, they won’t have a chance! But they are Americans, I said. They won’t go down without a fight.

Americans have so many guns because drug gangs roam the streets, because they have less trust in their neighbors, because they read Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” Because all of their personal and financial information got hacked in the latest breach, because our country’s real overlords are in Silicon Valley and appear to be moral Martians who operate on some weird new postmodern ethical wavelength. And they’ll be the ones programming the robots that’ll soon take all the jobs! Maybe the robots will all look like Mark Zuckerberg, like those eyeless busts of Roman Emperors. Our leaders don’t even think about this technological revolution. They’re too busy with transgender rights.

Americans have so many guns because they know the water their children swim in hasn’t gotten cleaner since Columbine, but more polluted and lethal.

The establishments and elites that create our political and entertainment culture have no idea how fragile it all is—how fragile it seems to people living normal, less privileged lives. That is because nothing is fragile for them. They’re barricaded behind the things the influential have, from good neighborhoods to security alarms, doormen and gates. They’re not dark in their imagining of the future because history has never been dark for them; it’s been sunshine, which they expect to continue. They sail on, oblivious to the legitimate anxieties of their countrymen who live near the edge.

Those who create our culture feel free to lecture normal Americans—on news shows, on late night comedy shows. Why do they have such a propensity for violence? What is their love for guns? Why do they join the National Rifle Association? The influential grind away with their disdain for their fellow Americans, whom they seem less to want to help than to dominate: Give up your gun, bake my cake, free speech isn’t free if what you’re saying triggers us.

Would it help if we tried less censure and more cultural affiliation? Might it help if we started working on problems that are real? Sure. But why lower the temperature when there’s such easy pleasure to be had in ridiculing your mindless and benighted countrymen?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1754 on: October 08, 2017, 12:51:46 PM »

http://www.barofsolitude.com/…/the-power-of-secularized-man/
22 September 2017 by Yoshiro Blackburn

The Power of Secularized Man


“The films which the Allies circulated in Germany and elsewhere after the war showed clearly that this atmosphere of insanity and unreality is not dispelled by pure reportage. To the unprejudiced observer these pictures are just about as convincing as snapshots of mysterious substances taken at spiritual séances. Common sense reacted to the horrors of Buchenwald and Auschwitz with the plausible argument: ‘What crimes must these people have committed that such things were done to them!’; or, in Germany and Austria, in the midst of starvation, overpopulation, and general hatred: ‘Too bad that they’ve stopped gassing the Jews’; and everywhere with the skeptical shrug that greets ineffectual propaganda.

“If the propaganda of truth fails to convince the average person because it is too monstrous, it is positively dangerous to those who know from their own imaginings what they themselves are capable of doing and who are therefore perfectly willing to believe in the reality of what they have seen. Suddenly it becomes evident that things which for thousands of years the human imagination had banished to a realm beyond human competence can be manufactured right here on earth, that Hell and Purgatory, and even a shadow of their perpetual duration, can be established by the most modern methods of destruction and therapy. To these people (and they are more numerous in any large city than we like to admit) the totalitarian hell proves only that the power of man is greater than they ever dared to think, and that man can realize hellish fantasies without making the sky fall or the earth open.

“These analogies, repeated in many reports from the world of the dying, seem to express more than a desperate attempt at saying what is outside the realm of human speech. Nothing perhaps distinguishes modern masses as radically from those of previous centuries as the loss of faith in a Last Judgment: the worst have lost their fear and the best have lost their hope. Unable as yet to live without fear and hope, these masses are attracted by every effort which seems to promise a man-made fabrication of the Paradise they had longed for and of the Hell they had feared. Just as the popularized features of Marx’s classless society have a queer resemblance to the Messianic, so the reality of the concentration camps resembles nothing so much as medieval pictures of Hell.

“The one thing that cannot be reproduced is what made the traditional conceptions of Hell tolerable to man: the Last Judgment, the idea of an absolute standard of justice combined with the infinite possibility of grace. For in the human estimation there is no crime and no sin commensurable with the everlasting torments of Hell. Hence the discomfiture of common sense, which asks: What crime must these people have committed in order to suffer so inhumanly? Hence also the absolute innocence of the victims: no man ever deserved this. Hence finally the grotesque haphazardness with which concentration-camp victims were chosen in the perfected terror state: such ‘punishment’ can, with equal justice and injustice, be inflicted on anyone.”
 — Hannah Arendt, from The Origins of Totalitarianism (1966)
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« Reply #1755 on: October 11, 2017, 03:14:40 PM »

By George Friedman


Manners and Political Life


Restraint in public life is not a foundation of civilization. It is civilization.


I married a woman born in Australia, of that class that emulated English culture. Loving her as I did, I did not understand the British obsession with table manners. For her, eating a bowl of soup was a work of art, a complex of motions difficult for me to master, and to me incomprehensible in purpose. From the beginning of our love, dinner became for me an exercise of obscure rules governing the movement of food to my mouth. It was a time when conversation was carefully hedged by taboos and obligations. Some things were not discussed at dinner.

Meredith, my wife, grew up elegant and restrained. The enormous body of rules she called good manners rigidly shaped and controlled her passions, which were many. She followed the rules she learned as a child partly out of a desire for others to think well of her, partly because she regarded these manners as the laws of nature. Restraint and propriety were the outward sign of a decent life. The dinner table was where children learned that there were rules to a civilized life. For many, the powers of good manners crushed their souls, leaving them with little but the arrogance of having mastered the rules. For the best, manners provided the frame for a life of free will and self-confidence. Good manners allowed her to be both free and civilized, in the English manner. Her obsession with manners imposed a civility that shaped the way in which people disagreed.

I grew up in the Bronx, a place of fragmented cultures, of immigrants under severe and deforming pressure. There were many cultures – few any longer authentic, all in some way at odds with each other. Meredith’s table was a place of restraint. Mine was a place of combat. The hidden message about food was to eat as much as you can as quickly as you can, because who could really know when you would eat again? The table was a place of intellectual and emotional combat, where grievances were revealed, ideas were challenged and the new world we were in was analyzed for its strangeness. The grammar of debate took precedence over digestion.

She and I appear to many to be mismatched. She has never lost her belief that one must show restraint to appear to fit in. I have never lost my belief that the world is a dangerous place that must be confronted vigorously. Yet underneath these differences we formed a bond, based on a will to live as we will, but distinguishing carefully between who we were in private and who we were in public. This distinction is the root of both sanity and civility. I learned from her that there was a time and place for everything. I learned that without manners, however arbitrary they might be, life was chaos. I learned that combat, in speech and deed, might sometimes be necessary, but that it must be bound by the rituals of civility, or everything is destroyed. I am not sure she learned much from me.

Public Life

Manners make it possible to disagree within a framework of ritual that the disagreement does not lead to unhealable breaches. They allow you to live much of your life in unthinking patterns, freeing you to devote your thoughts to matters more pressing than how to greet someone, or whether to put on a tie. A tie is an example of this. It is a pointless piece of cloth. Yet, in putting it on, the act of dressing becomes complex and focuses you on the task ahead. You are putting on a tie because what you will now do has some importance – at least for me.

I grew up in the 1960s, when manners were held to be a form of hypocrisy, the sign of a false and inauthentic time. When Mickey Mantle hit a home run, he trotted around the bases as if his excellence was incidental and required no celebration. His undoubted elation was contained within ritual. Today, success in sports has fewer limits, and success and contempt for the other side frequently merge. When I was very young, courtship and marriage rituals were ringed with things you did not do. Of course, all these things were done, but they were hidden from the gaze of others. Part of it was shame, but part of it was also respect for manners, even in their breach. It had the added and urgent dimension that the most precious parts of growing up were private things.

The argument was that honesty was the highest virtue. Manners restrained honest expression and therefore denied us our authenticity. What came of this was an assault on the distinction between what we are in private and what we are in public. The great icon of this was Woodstock, where the music was less important than the fact that things that had been ruthlessly private had become utterly public. The shame that is attached to bad manners was seen as dishonesty, and unrestrained actions as honesty. The restraint of manners became mortally wounded.

Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower had come to despise each other by the time of Eisenhower’s inauguration. They hid this in public. The press, undoubtedly aware of the tension, chose not to focus on it. The ritual that was at the heart of the republic – the peaceful transfer of power ¬– was the focus, and the personal feelings of each were hidden from view. They were dishonest in their public behavior, and in retrospect, the self-restraint with which they hid their honest feelings was their moral obligation. These were two dishonest men, honoring their nation in their dishonesty.

The press was in on the act. The press is an institution specifically mentioned in our Constitution. Implicitly it is charged with telling the truth. The press minimized the fact that Franklin D. Roosevelt was disabled. The New York Times refrained from publishing that the Soviets had deployed missiles in Cuba. Reporters did not make public the rumors that Eisenhower might have been having an affair in England. All of these might have been true, but the press saw its role as that of an adversary to the state, but not an enemy.

Members of the press saw themselves as carrying out three roles: They were journalists, they were citizens, and they were well-mannered. As journalists, they published “all the news that’s fit to print.” As citizens, they wanted the U.S. to win World War II and would do nothing to hinder it. As ladies and gentlemen, they knew there were things that were true but did not warrant telling. There were always exceptions, but the prestige press, as they were then called, did not see these roles as incompatible.
It is important not to overstate the comity that existed, or neglect the exceptions, but the idea that good manners required certain behavior did matter. It is not clear to me that the republic suffered from the restraint of good manners and the ability of politicians and journalists to feel shame.

Authenticity

Today, we are surrounded by politicians who have decided that honesty requires that they show how deeply they detest each other, and a public that feels free to display its contempt for any with whom it disagrees. Our opponents have become our enemies, and our enemies have become monsters. This has become true for all political factions, and all political factions believe it is true only for their opponents. The idea that it is proper to hide and suppress our malice because not doing so is bad manners has been lost on all levels. With this has been lost the idea that it is possible to disagree on important matters, yet respect and even honor your opponent. Or, put another way, what has been lost is the obligation to appear to feel this way. Manners, after all, do not ask you to lie to yourself, but merely to the rest of the world.

The obsession with honesty over manners hides something important. Depending on who you are, depending on what you say, and depending on why you say it, honesty can be devastating. The idea that manners create inauthentic lives, lives in which true feelings are suppressed, is absolutely true. But it forgets the point that many of the things we feel ought to be suppressed, and many of the truths we know ought not to even be whispered. Indeed, the whisperer, when revealed, should feel shame. Without the ability to feel shame, humans are barbarians. It is manners, however false, that create the matrix in which shame can be felt. When we consider public life today, the inflicting of shame has changed from the subtle force of manners, to the ability to intimidate those you disagree with. As Francois de La Rochefoucauld said, “Hypocrisy is a tribute vice pays to virtue.” Today, vice feels little need to apologize.

I am not here speaking of issues. The issues must be debated. I am speaking of the aesthetics of debate, of restraint and respect. I am speaking of the ability to believe something deeply, yet hold open the possibility that you have much to learn from those who disagree – or at least pretend to, which is almost as good.

What I have written here would seem to have little to do with geopolitics. It has everything to do with it. A nation has as its foundation the love of one’s own. That isn’t a saccharine concept. It is the idea that we are born in or come to a country and do not merely share core values with each other, but honor each other for being our fellow citizens, that our mutual bond is the fellowship of the nation. Underneath there may be much malice, but good manners require it be hidden. The collapse of manners undermines the love of one’s own and weakens the foundation of the nation. And since nations rise and fall, this is very much a geopolitical question.

In the end, being well-mannered in the highest sense is a personal obligation. It rests on the desire to be well-thought-of as a human being, and on caring what others think of you. Many of us lack that virtue. We lack the ability to be ashamed, or we have convinced ourselves that feeling shame is a weakness. We appear on television saying things to each other that decent human beings would not reveal they feel, and our viewers applaud. There is no federal program to resurrect pride in our bearing. It flows from each of us doing it. But that requires a common code of behavior, not fully rational but fully respected, and that has been eaten away. This is the place where I should mention social media, but what more is there to say on that, so consider it said. We all know that there is a terrible problem. But most of us think it is the person we dislike who is the problem, not us.

There is a concept worth ending on, which is the principle of intellectual rectitude, the idea that one must be cautious in thought and in speech. That we should know what we know, and know what we feel, and draw a sharp line between the two. There is a place for feelings, but passion can lead to recklessness, and societies crumble over the massive assault of passion. One of the things I try to do – frequently failing – is to exercise intellectual rectitude in my writing. Restraint in public life – that life that you live with others – is not a foundation of civilization. It is civilization.

There is a time to tell the truth, and a time to withhold it. In the Bible, two books are thought to be written by Solomon. One, Ecclesiastes, is about the fact that there is a time and place for everything. It is a book of manners and of despair. Manners and despair are linked, but if you don’t know there is a time and place for everything, then you are not human. Solomon also wrote the Song of Songs. It is a poem about love and the erotic. It allows us to see that while there is a time and place for everything, and eros in the public space is unacceptable, a life without the erotic is not worth living. The Song of Songs is our solace for the rigors of Ecclesiastes.

The loss of time and place is the loss of propriety and proportion. It is the destruction of both the public and the private, of the life of duty and the life of pleasure. Pleasure cannot live without duty nor duty without pleasure. Neither can exist without good manners. And this applies to the relationship of lovers, of citizens and of nations. And the beginning of the path to it is intellectual rectitude.
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G M
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« Reply #1756 on: October 11, 2017, 03:21:38 PM »

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. John Adams

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnadams391045.html

http://dailycaller.com/2017/10/09/california-to-have-harsher-penalty-for-pronoun-violations-than-for-knowingly-spreading-hiv/



By George Friedman


Manners and Political Life


Restraint in public life is not a foundation of civilization. It is civilization.


I married a woman born in Australia, of that class that emulated English culture. Loving her as I did, I did not understand the British obsession with table manners. For her, eating a bowl of soup was a work of art, a complex of motions difficult for me to master, and to me incomprehensible in purpose. From the beginning of our love, dinner became for me an exercise of obscure rules governing the movement of food to my mouth. It was a time when conversation was carefully hedged by taboos and obligations. Some things were not discussed at dinner.

Meredith, my wife, grew up elegant and restrained. The enormous body of rules she called good manners rigidly shaped and controlled her passions, which were many. She followed the rules she learned as a child partly out of a desire for others to think well of her, partly because she regarded these manners as the laws of nature. Restraint and propriety were the outward sign of a decent life. The dinner table was where children learned that there were rules to a civilized life. For many, the powers of good manners crushed their souls, leaving them with little but the arrogance of having mastered the rules. For the best, manners provided the frame for a life of free will and self-confidence. Good manners allowed her to be both free and civilized, in the English manner. Her obsession with manners imposed a civility that shaped the way in which people disagreed.

I grew up in the Bronx, a place of fragmented cultures, of immigrants under severe and deforming pressure. There were many cultures – few any longer authentic, all in some way at odds with each other. Meredith’s table was a place of restraint. Mine was a place of combat. The hidden message about food was to eat as much as you can as quickly as you can, because who could really know when you would eat again? The table was a place of intellectual and emotional combat, where grievances were revealed, ideas were challenged and the new world we were in was analyzed for its strangeness. The grammar of debate took precedence over digestion.

She and I appear to many to be mismatched. She has never lost her belief that one must show restraint to appear to fit in. I have never lost my belief that the world is a dangerous place that must be confronted vigorously. Yet underneath these differences we formed a bond, based on a will to live as we will, but distinguishing carefully between who we were in private and who we were in public. This distinction is the root of both sanity and civility. I learned from her that there was a time and place for everything. I learned that without manners, however arbitrary they might be, life was chaos. I learned that combat, in speech and deed, might sometimes be necessary, but that it must be bound by the rituals of civility, or everything is destroyed. I am not sure she learned much from me.

Public Life

Manners make it possible to disagree within a framework of ritual that the disagreement does not lead to unhealable breaches. They allow you to live much of your life in unthinking patterns, freeing you to devote your thoughts to matters more pressing than how to greet someone, or whether to put on a tie. A tie is an example of this. It is a pointless piece of cloth. Yet, in putting it on, the act of dressing becomes complex and focuses you on the task ahead. You are putting on a tie because what you will now do has some importance – at least for me.

I grew up in the 1960s, when manners were held to be a form of hypocrisy, the sign of a false and inauthentic time. When Mickey Mantle hit a home run, he trotted around the bases as if his excellence was incidental and required no celebration. His undoubted elation was contained within ritual. Today, success in sports has fewer limits, and success and contempt for the other side frequently merge. When I was very young, courtship and marriage rituals were ringed with things you did not do. Of course, all these things were done, but they were hidden from the gaze of others. Part of it was shame, but part of it was also respect for manners, even in their breach. It had the added and urgent dimension that the most precious parts of growing up were private things.

The argument was that honesty was the highest virtue. Manners restrained honest expression and therefore denied us our authenticity. What came of this was an assault on the distinction between what we are in private and what we are in public. The great icon of this was Woodstock, where the music was less important than the fact that things that had been ruthlessly private had become utterly public. The shame that is attached to bad manners was seen as dishonesty, and unrestrained actions as honesty. The restraint of manners became mortally wounded.

Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower had come to despise each other by the time of Eisenhower’s inauguration. They hid this in public. The press, undoubtedly aware of the tension, chose not to focus on it. The ritual that was at the heart of the republic – the peaceful transfer of power ¬– was the focus, and the personal feelings of each were hidden from view. They were dishonest in their public behavior, and in retrospect, the self-restraint with which they hid their honest feelings was their moral obligation. These were two dishonest men, honoring their nation in their dishonesty.

The press was in on the act. The press is an institution specifically mentioned in our Constitution. Implicitly it is charged with telling the truth. The press minimized the fact that Franklin D. Roosevelt was disabled. The New York Times refrained from publishing that the Soviets had deployed missiles in Cuba. Reporters did not make public the rumors that Eisenhower might have been having an affair in England. All of these might have been true, but the press saw its role as that of an adversary to the state, but not an enemy.

Members of the press saw themselves as carrying out three roles: They were journalists, they were citizens, and they were well-mannered. As journalists, they published “all the news that’s fit to print.” As citizens, they wanted the U.S. to win World War II and would do nothing to hinder it. As ladies and gentlemen, they knew there were things that were true but did not warrant telling. There were always exceptions, but the prestige press, as they were then called, did not see these roles as incompatible.
It is important not to overstate the comity that existed, or neglect the exceptions, but the idea that good manners required certain behavior did matter. It is not clear to me that the republic suffered from the restraint of good manners and the ability of politicians and journalists to feel shame.

Authenticity

Today, we are surrounded by politicians who have decided that honesty requires that they show how deeply they detest each other, and a public that feels free to display its contempt for any with whom it disagrees. Our opponents have become our enemies, and our enemies have become monsters. This has become true for all political factions, and all political factions believe it is true only for their opponents. The idea that it is proper to hide and suppress our malice because not doing so is bad manners has been lost on all levels. With this has been lost the idea that it is possible to disagree on important matters, yet respect and even honor your opponent. Or, put another way, what has been lost is the obligation to appear to feel this way. Manners, after all, do not ask you to lie to yourself, but merely to the rest of the world.

The obsession with honesty over manners hides something important. Depending on who you are, depending on what you say, and depending on why you say it, honesty can be devastating. The idea that manners create inauthentic lives, lives in which true feelings are suppressed, is absolutely true. But it forgets the point that many of the things we feel ought to be suppressed, and many of the truths we know ought not to even be whispered. Indeed, the whisperer, when revealed, should feel shame. Without the ability to feel shame, humans are barbarians. It is manners, however false, that create the matrix in which shame can be felt. When we consider public life today, the inflicting of shame has changed from the subtle force of manners, to the ability to intimidate those you disagree with. As Francois de La Rochefoucauld said, “Hypocrisy is a tribute vice pays to virtue.” Today, vice feels little need to apologize.

I am not here speaking of issues. The issues must be debated. I am speaking of the aesthetics of debate, of restraint and respect. I am speaking of the ability to believe something deeply, yet hold open the possibility that you have much to learn from those who disagree – or at least pretend to, which is almost as good.

What I have written here would seem to have little to do with geopolitics. It has everything to do with it. A nation has as its foundation the love of one’s own. That isn’t a saccharine concept. It is the idea that we are born in or come to a country and do not merely share core values with each other, but honor each other for being our fellow citizens, that our mutual bond is the fellowship of the nation. Underneath there may be much malice, but good manners require it be hidden. The collapse of manners undermines the love of one’s own and weakens the foundation of the nation. And since nations rise and fall, this is very much a geopolitical question.

In the end, being well-mannered in the highest sense is a personal obligation. It rests on the desire to be well-thought-of as a human being, and on caring what others think of you. Many of us lack that virtue. We lack the ability to be ashamed, or we have convinced ourselves that feeling shame is a weakness. We appear on television saying things to each other that decent human beings would not reveal they feel, and our viewers applaud. There is no federal program to resurrect pride in our bearing. It flows from each of us doing it. But that requires a common code of behavior, not fully rational but fully respected, and that has been eaten away. This is the place where I should mention social media, but what more is there to say on that, so consider it said. We all know that there is a terrible problem. But most of us think it is the person we dislike who is the problem, not us.

There is a concept worth ending on, which is the principle of intellectual rectitude, the idea that one must be cautious in thought and in speech. That we should know what we know, and know what we feel, and draw a sharp line between the two. There is a place for feelings, but passion can lead to recklessness, and societies crumble over the massive assault of passion. One of the things I try to do – frequently failing – is to exercise intellectual rectitude in my writing. Restraint in public life – that life that you live with others – is not a foundation of civilization. It is civilization.

There is a time to tell the truth, and a time to withhold it. In the Bible, two books are thought to be written by Solomon. One, Ecclesiastes, is about the fact that there is a time and place for everything. It is a book of manners and of despair. Manners and despair are linked, but if you don’t know there is a time and place for everything, then you are not human. Solomon also wrote the Song of Songs. It is a poem about love and the erotic. It allows us to see that while there is a time and place for everything, and eros in the public space is unacceptable, a life without the erotic is not worth living. The Song of Songs is our solace for the rigors of Ecclesiastes.

The loss of time and place is the loss of propriety and proportion. It is the destruction of both the public and the private, of the life of duty and the life of pleasure. Pleasure cannot live without duty nor duty without pleasure. Neither can exist without good manners. And this applies to the relationship of lovers, of citizens and of nations. And the beginning of the path to it is intellectual rectitude.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1757 on: November 01, 2017, 01:11:58 PM »

http://www.dailywire.com/news/23003/why-dont-media-treat-islamist-terror-attacks-white-ben-shapiro?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_content=062316-news&utm_campaign=benshapiro
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« Reply #1758 on: November 01, 2017, 09:44:28 PM »


"The tree of liberty diversity must be refreshed from time to time constantly with the blood of patriots and tyrants innocents."

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1759 on: November 14, 2017, 06:08:36 PM »

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/453729/roy-moore-christianity-built-on-fear?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NR%20Daily%20Monday%20through%20Friday%202017-11-14&utm_term=NR5PM%20Actives
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