"All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State."
-- 19th century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (pictured below). Hegel is the most influential philosopher of the Left -- inspiring Karl Marx, the American "Progressives" of the early 20th century and university socialists to this day.
"For a hundred years or more the defining division in politics, in Britain and elsewhere, was about the role of the state. Essentially progressives believed in its ability to improve society; Conservatives feared its interference stifled personal liberty.
-- Anthony Blair, Labour Party Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. (2006)
"To me, conservative means believing in a minimum amount of government and a maximum amount of freedom -- and keeping government out of people's lives and business -- and leaving people alone,"
-- Lyn Nofziger, long-time U.S. Republican insider (2005)
AN EXTENDED LOOK AT MODERN LEFTISM
"...It is not to be expected that a legislature will be found in any country that will not have some of its members, who will pursue their private ends, and for which they will sacrifice the public good. Men of this character are, generally, artful and designing, and frequently possess brilliant talents and abilities; they commonly act in concert, and agree to share the spoils of their country among them; they will keep their object ever in view [government-controlled health care, anyone?], and follow it with constancy [sought since the 1930's]. To effect their purpose, they will assume any shape, and, Proteus like, mould themselves into any form - where they find members proof against direct bribery or gifts of offices, they will endeavor to mislead their minds by specious and false reasoning, to impose upon their unsuspecting honesty by an affectation of zeal for the public good; they will form juntos, and hold out-door meetings; they will operate upon the good nature of their opponents, by a thousand little attentions, and teize them into compliance by the earnestness of solicitation. Those who are acquainted with the manner of conducting business in public assemblies, know how prevalent art and address are in carrying a measure, even over men of the best intentions, and of good understanding. ... It is probable, ... the powerful influence that great and designing men have over the honest and unsuspecting, by their art and address, their soothing manners and civilities, and their cringing flattery, joined with their affected patriotism; when these different species of influence are combined, it is scarcely to be hoped that a legislature, composed of so small a number, as the one proposed by the new constitution, will long resist their force."And that was written in 1787!
"I want to make change, but I've already made change. I will continue to make change. I'm not just running on a promise of change, I'm running on 35 years of change. I'm running on having taken on the drug companies and the health insurance companies, taking on the oil companies. So, you know, I think it is clear that what we need is somebody who can deliver change."And Barack Obama too made change the theme of his run for the Presidency: "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” (In Columbia, Missouri, on Oct. 30, 2008). Thanks to the inertia of Congress, it's doubtful that he made any lasting changes at all but it wasn't for want of trying.
"Far from opposing all reform, Burke insisted, "A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation."So conservatives have NEVER opposed change per se and it is little more than a calumny to say that they do. Caution certainly characterizes conservatives but attitude to change as such does not.
The issue was not reform versus no reform; it was between the view that reform was a simple matter that could be engaged in sweepingly and the view that it required prudence and was best approached incrementally"
"For example, mass murders of the political opposition, or those merely caught in the crossfire, were all too common during the Terror-and the methods employed were as efficient and coldhearted as those of modern regimes. When the guillotine was not fast enough in Lyons in early 1794, "the government's soldiers used cannonfire to gun down large batches of prisoners, with swordsmen finishing off those left half dead by rounds of grapeshot." That same year, the Jacobins used mass drownings in Nantes to kill off "enemies of the Revolution," claiming some 1,800 victims in this gruesome way. Burleigh notes that through these and other atrocities "up to a third of the population perished, a statistic roughly equivalent to the horrors of twentieth-century Cambodia."
High self-esteem, studies show, offers no immunity against bad behavior. Research by Dr. Brad J. Bushman of Iowa State University and Dr. Roy F. Baumeister of Case Western Reserve University finds that some people with high self-regard are actually more likely to lash out aggressively when criticized than those with low-self esteem. The list of groups - neo-Nazis, street toughs, school bullies - who combine preening self-satisfaction with violence belies the power of one to ameliorate the other
Today's college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors, according to a comprehensive new study by five psychologists who worry that the trend could be harmful to personal relationships and American society. "We need to stop endlessly repeating 'You're special' and having children repeat that back," said the study's lead author, Professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University. "Kids are self-centered enough already." ....
The study asserts that narcissists "are more likely to have romantic relationships that are short-lived, at risk for infidelity, lack emotional warmth, and to exhibit game-playing, dishonesty, and over-controlling and violent behaviors."
"Account must be taken of every single article, every pound of grain, because what socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything" -- V.I. Lenin
Think of it in ... well, cheap Darwinian terms. Imagine that we have a two party system, and each party is a collection of status-seeking individuals looking for power by winning a greater "market share" of the vote. Imagine that they each have their ideological principles --one is more to the left, one more to the right -- but these principles are quite flexible in the face of imminent or repeated failure at the polls. Over time, as each party crafts its message to maximize its appeal -- and adjusts its message after each election to regain any lost share of the votes -- wouldn't one expect the system to reach a roughly 50-50 equilibrium, in which every election was a cliffhanger?
THE NEW LEFT
The Federal Court ruled that Liberal Senator Ross Lightfoot broke the law when he called Aborigines in their native state the most primitive people on earth: Justice Christopher Carr said the West Australian Senator had breached the Racial Discrimination Act with his comments to a journalist in May 1997. He ordered Senator Lightfoot to pay costs of up to $10,000.
The judge at our trial exhibited the typical do-gooder liberal attitudes in this respect. He could not possibly gainsay, and therefore condemn someone for saying, that blacks perform intellectually at a lower level than whites. At the same time his emotions could not bear the thought that this state of affairs was unchangeable and not capable of remedy by education and social engineering. The first thought was just about acceptable to him; the second was not. It is essential to the liberal's faith in his ability to guide people forward that he have the capacity to lift up the low by civic action, whatever their depressed condition. Offend that faith, and you make the liberal very angry!"
A Columbia University professor told an anti-war gathering that he would like to see "a million Mogadishus" -- referring to the 1993 ambush in Somalia that killed 18 American servicemen. At Wednesday night's "teach-in" on the Columbia campus, Nicholas De Genova also called for the defeat of U.S. forces in Iraq and said, "The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military." And he asserted that Americans who call themselves "patriots" are white supremacists.
Religious groups moved closer to resolving an impasse over the Queensland government's new anti-discrimination laws. Church and Islamic leaders today met with Premier Peter Beattie to discuss the bill, which will effectively remove the right of religious schools not to employ people in de facto or gay relationships.
"Anti-globalism has been aptly described as a secular religion. So is Marxism: a creed complete with prophet, sacred texts and the promise of a heaven shrouded in mystery. Marx was not a scientist, as he claimed. He founded a faith. The economic and political systems he inspired are dead or dying. But his religion is a broad church, and lives on."
Singer discusses the work of three Norwegian researchers who have applied buying-power indices to international income statistics, and found that from 1970 to 1997, as globalization was reaching around the world, international inequality steadily declined
"We recognize that separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind's own destruction and to the death of nations. Only through a re-integration of humanity into the whole of nature can our people be made stronger. That is the fundamental point of the biological tasks of our age. Humankind alone is no longer the focus of thought, but rather life as a whole . . . This striving toward connectedness with the totality of life, with nature itself, a nature into which we are born, this is the deepest meaning and the true essence of Socialist thought."
The idea that Leftists favour peace is of course absurd. The hate, anger and envy that drive Leftists make them inherently aggressive and bloodthirsty -- as we see whenever they gain absolute power -- from the French revolutionaries onward through Trotsky, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot -- not to mention more minor revolutionaries. And the great violence that often characterized "peace" demonstrations of the Vietnam era (see e.g. here) gave the lie to any claim that these Leftists were any different from their predecessors
"Though the averages are higher for conservative administrations, when one looks at administrations individually, there are numerous exceptions to the supposed trend. For example, in addition to Heath, the suicide rate under Churchill was likewise low, while during Callaghan's Labour administration it was quite high"
"The kindergartens of Victoria have launched an anti-Santa campaign this Christmas. At last count, about 50 kindergartens had banned Santa and were going to entertain their tots with magicians or clowns instead so as not to offend minority groups.
If the teachers are really conscientious objectors to Santa and Christmas, Pierpont assumes they will not recognise Christmas at all and keep working right through the Yuletide holidays. If they did that, perhaps some Australian offspring might emerge from our education system with an IQ somewhere above single-digit levels."
Randall is speaking here of the "gaps" I described in August. Enumerated briefly, they include a gap in marginal tax rates, a gap in personal disposable income (and overall GDP per capita), a gap in labour productivity, a gap in unemployment, and a gap in the stability of the currency. Basically, between the U.S. and Canada, there's a "gap" in any indicator of economic health or standard of living you can conceive. Randall adds a new gap to this list--namely, a gap in the regulatory cost of financial services.
"In particular I noticed how tribalism - really only an anthopologist's term for an extreme form of communitarianism - seemed tohave dinned the individualism out of people, so nobody cared or dared to take a lead or differ notably from the others. Some people will tell you tribe (or village, or community) humanizes, brings comfort and security. I thought it was stifling, and brutal in its way.
"One of the last announcements Cardinal George Pell made before taking his annual leave this week was to introduce a program, new to Australia and only the third of its kind in the world, to provide support to pregnant women who are contemplating abortion. "We want to respond to the needs of women facing an unexpected or difficult pregnancy by providing them with life-affirming options," he said. "Through the program, expectant mothers and, if required, their families, will be provided with social, emotional and practical support to enable them to continue with their pregnancy to full term. Women need real alternatives to abortion, and this new program is targeted to meet the specific needs of women contemplating abortion."
Saddam Hussein grew up as a cadre in the highly ideological and dogmatic Ba'ath party structure. His speeches, from the time he entered government in 1968 until his demise, had a consistent ideological, pseudo-intellectual character, even if in the final decade a layer of Islamist rhetoric was added. From his first declarations to his last, he always presented the Arabs as the master race, whose history and accomplishments are glorious. He has always had a mystical belief in self-purification through violence, the notion that the soul is elevated through warfare and killing.
MICHEL AFLAQ was born in Damascus in 1910, a Greek Orthodox Christian. He won a scholarship to study philosophy at the Sorbonne sometime between 1928 and 1930 (biographies differ), and there he studied Marx, Nietzsche, Lenin, Mazzini, and a range of German nationalists and proto-Nazis. Aflaq became active in Arab student politics with his countryman Salah Bitar, a Sunni Muslim. Together, they were thrilled by the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party, but they also came to admire the organizational structure Lenin had created within the Russian Communist party.
LEFTISTS IN POWER
We had to go around and talk about at least one way in which we have been/are oppressed. When my turn came up, and I answered that I have never been oppressed, the instructor corrected me, saying that I must have been, as I'm female. I persisted, saying that being female has never been anything short of a blessing for me. The instructor was relentless, insisting that I was necessarily oppressed at one point in my life. The instructor asked to speak with me after class. He was visibly shaken and angry. He told me that my classroom behavior was disruptive in the least (although I was never voluntarily disagreeing), and that I would be kicked out of class and would thereby lose my job and my housing for the next year unless I learned to be more cooperative."
Kahn had required students, to achieve full credit, to write letters to President George W. Bush "demanding" that he not go to war with Iraq. Several students requested that they be allowed to complete the assignment by expressing their own opinions, which would mean, in some cases, writing letters in support of President Bush's foreign policy. Kahn told the students that letters supporting the president would not be acceptable and would not receive credit. Several students refused to turn in the assignment and were penalized.
"The Federal Election Commission could not have foreseen that when it required employment information on political donations of over $200, it would expose scandalous uniformity in a university community that advertises its diversity. The Sacramento Bee reported that the University of California system gave more to the Kerry campaign than any other single employee group, and that Harvard was second, with only 15,000 employees to UC's 160,000. Campus bloggers computed the percentages of Kerry contributions over Bush: Cornell 93%, Dartmouth 97%, Yale 93%, Brown 89%."
"What I hoped to find in After Theory was ideas about what type of thinking and writing might flourish in a post-theory world. I soon discovered that Eagleton doesn't seem to be the least interested in thinking, only in potted ideas... Eagleton himself is so bombastic it's hard to read him straight... After Theory takes us into a vacuum where bits of past theories collide, supported only by vacuous commentary".
"With corporate capitalism everywhere in command, the outlook is for increased poverty, more environmental degradation, ever more uneven distribution of resources and the undermining of traditional societies and ways of life... Doing battle against the prevailing inequality means invoking the idea that we all belong to a community, as opposed to the illusion, voiced famously by Thatcher, that "there is no society, only individuals." ... On the road to shaping an alternative, the left might respond with a time-honored socialist insight, namely that "I" only exists within a "we," and that unless we look out for everyone, no one is secure.
"As expected in a speech to fellow heads of state and diplomats, President Bush on Tuesday dispensed with the red-meat phrases beloved by his supporters on the campaign trail. . . . Instead, the president was conciliatory, intent to show that he can play with others. He didn't quite break out in Esperanto, but he spoke admiringly of the principles and values embodied by the United Nations."--editorial, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 22, 2004
"Mr. Bush delivered an inexplicably defiant campaign speech. . . . Even when he talked about issues of common agreement, like the global fight against AIDS and easing the crushing third-world debt, Mr. Bush seemed more interested in praising his own policies than in assuming the leadership of an international effort. The speech would have drawn cheers at an adoring Republican National Convention, but it seemed to fall flat in a room full of stony-faced world leaders. Mr. Bush has never exhibited much respect for the United Nations."--editorial, New York Times, Sept. 22, 2004
SO WHAT ARE RIGHTISTS?
"Conservatives and libertarians should appreciate The Simpsons for regularly showcasing much that they hold dear.
"There's no ideological requirement to work here," executive producer Al Jean says by phone. Though free marketeers and liberals write the show, Jean says they agree on this: "We mistrust authorities and people who try to hold people down. We believe more in individuals and families."
The Simpsons are a nuclear family led by an atomic power-plant engineer and a stay-at-home mom. They regularly attend church and occasionally seek spiritual advice from their minister, Reverend Timothy Lovejoy. Marge Simpson even homeschools Bart when he is expelled for misbehavior."
Other applications of the equality mania:Government as the answer
Genetics and IQ