Time for the Republicans to retire

I try not to pay attention to them, but I haven’t been able to completely avoid hearing about the aspiring Republican candidates.  Except for Gingrich, they’re not a bad lot personally, but all these primaries mean that we’re forced to look at the ugly reality that is “Republican ideas“.  I’m afraid I don’t think that anybody who is sympathetic to the idea of imposing a flat tax or of bombing Iran has any business being anywhere near political power–the first because I can’t imagine why a massive transfer of tax burden from the rich to the middle class, and a corresponding transfer of wealth from the middle class to the rich, would be a desirable thing, the second because I generally think wars are things to be avoided, at least when there is absolutely no reason for provoking one.  Then there’s the whole “The national debt is out of control!  We have to cut taxes!” think that just makes it hard to take them seriously.  Yes, among the Republican establishment, we social conservatives are morons for supporting normative gender roles, but holding as dogma that the U.S. economy is always on the right side of the Laffer curve–that’s the heart of conservatism, right?  It pains me to say it, but it is now the Republicans who are the class warfare party.  Revenue neutral tax change by definition means a burden is being taken off one group and put onto another.  Hence, neoconservative publications–even First Things, as I’ve noted before–have started making noises about how the bottom half aren’t pulling their tax weight, and republican virtue demands that those slackers pony up.  On the other hand, corporate income taxes and capital gains taxes must be reduced.  It was hard work, but the Republicans have succeeded in living down to image of them painted by their enemies.  They do make the Democrats’ accusation of being the rich man’s party hard to dismiss.

Sometimes they try to prove that they’re the “conservative” party, but this doesn’t impress me, since the Republicans don’t know what conservatism means.  I’m more reactionary than anyone registered with that party, and I see no reason why people shouldn’t be forced to buy health insurance–put an end to those free riders, I say!  I also don’t understand this stubborn refusal to consider the possibility that global warming is real and man-made.  What does any of this have to do with defending Christendom and the patriarchal family?

The Republicans simply can’t be trusted with power.  They would do no good on the issues we care about, but because we are unfairly associated with them in the public mind, their incompetence would tarnish us.  I can’t work up any desire to see them defeat even our unambiguous enemies–the baby-killing, sodomy-promoting anti-clerical Democrats.

Why, though?  Why can’t a national party even appear to be worthy of public trust?  The end of the Cold War has been very bad for the Republicans.  Back when communism ravaged half the world and promised to bring its hellish rule to the other half, the Republican positions kind of made sense.  It was good and necessary that the one nation capable of resisting the Reds should do so, making its own the interests of all mankind.  Today, the Red menace is gone, and American hegemony has become a fact in search of a purpose.  In the face of communist agitation, condemnations of “socialism” and defenses of the free market as by far the lesser evil were also good and necessary.  Today, nobody’s talking about nationalizing industries, and all this talk about “socialism” is meaningless.  The Cold War gave the Republicans a sensible stand on foreign policy and economics–the two areas in which they got a reputation for being “strong”.  The lack of a communist threat rendered all of that irrelevant.

Still, one would think that the collapse and discrediting of socialism would have been more disorienting for the parties of the Left.  Yet they got through it without a hitch, arguably stronger than before, now that they were no longer associated (fairly or not) with a brutal tyranny.  And the center-right parties went into ideological drift, no longer sure what their purpose was to be, and easy prey to every charismatic charlatan looking for followers.

I think the ultimate reason is the rout of conservatives from academia.  People on this blog–including, sometimes, me–attack the pretensions of experts, but one really can’t run a modern nation-state without them.  The Republicans have no experts that they can trust, so they’re running blind.  The physicists tell them that their missile defense plan will never work.  That’s something we should be able to speak on.  However, the Republicans knew that most physicists are commies and would rather America not be able to defend herself from Soviet or Chinese missile attack; therefore, the experts can’t be trusted.  So the Republicans insisted on throwing more and more money at this boondoggle.  The Republicans decide that we should put a manned base on the moon, and then put men on Mars.  Where did they get this hare-brained idea?  Certainly not from the astronomers; we would have told them what a waste of money this is and how it will cripple the valuable space exploration and science work that NASA has been and is doing.  But most of us are commies, so another boondoggle had to be carried along until a Democratic president thankfully killed it.  And those are just the two biggest partisan issues in my personal field.

The Republicans thought they could do without the universities, because they would have think tanks instead.  This has obviously not worked out.  Academia’s peer review process is certainly imperfect, but the think tank system seems to be totally without merit.  Throw enough money at unaffiliated intellectuals, and you’ll find people to tell you want you want to hear.

I of course have a prejudice, given where I work, that universities are the center of the world.  There is some truth to it though.  I would rather that my beliefs were respectable among the intellectual elite than that they could win votes among the masses.  The masses have inertia but no initiative.  What the elite want them to believe, they will believe; it just takes a generation to make the shift.

New blog policies

Unfortunately, several recent discussions have been derailed by sophomoric mockery and personal insults.  I try to give commenters a wide latitude here, but this would seem to be an instance where an exercise of authority is needed.  It only takes one heckler to spoil the atmosphere for everyone.  (And it never stays just one, as human nature disposes others to respond in kind.)

So, from now on, I will delete any new comment I find that personally insults me or any other commenter.  Anyone may disagree with us, but you must express your disagreement respectfully.  I intend to enforce this policy evenhandedly against both people I agree and disagree with.  Since I’m enforcing a general rule, please don’t take my filtering your comment as a personal affront.

Personal insults against third party public figures (e.g. Christopher Hitchens, George W. Bush, Winston Churchill) are still allowed, but insults against their families (presuming these are not public figures) are not.  One exception is that no disrespect for Jesus Christ will be tolerated, because I would fear for my soul if I defended His honor less zealously than my own.

Another problem we’ve had is theological debates getting derailed by atheist hecklers.  Nonbelievers are certainly welcome at this blog (although they will no doubt find some subjects of discussion uninteresting), but they must appreciate that one of its purposes is for me and other Christian reactionaries to work out the implications of our worldview.  For these intra-Christian, or at least intra-theist, debates, it’s not reasonable for someone to put up an uninformed rant about how God is no different from the tooth fairy and then expect everyone else to drop everything and lay out three millenia of natural theology that he didn’t bother to learn himself.  Of course, issues of natural theology should be–and are–debated here, but a Christian can’t be expected to justify every aspect of his worldview every time he opens his mouth.  So, I’m going to discourage these sort of “all Christians are stupid” comments, except in posts where the truth of Christianity is the actual issue at hand.  I realize that it’s harder to respect a religion you disagree with than a person you disagree with, so someone who steps out of bounds on this will get a warning.  Further violations on that discussion will be removed.  Now, by nature, this rule is not even-handed–there’s no enforced restrictions on the insults that can be hurled at atheism, Marxism, etc.  We don’t believe in neutrality here.  However, I ask my Christian commenters to treat others as they would want to be treated, and I’ll try to give a good example.

Disapproving as I do of ex post facto laws, all existing comments will remain.

Why worship God?

All theists will agree that it is good to worship God.  But why, asks the atheist?  What and who is it good for?  Is it good for God?  Then He must be a very imperfect deity that His self-esteem needs such elaborate reinforcement.  “No, no!” we say.  “God is the plenitude of being (and, in the Trinity, the plenitude of love); He certainly has no need for our worship.”  Well then, if He is just as well off without it, why not just sleep in on Sunday?  One answer suggests itself, and has become quite popular:  “Worshiping God is good for us!  It’s what we were made to do, and what we find our completion in.”  And this is quite true.  On the other hand, it’s the secondary thing, not the primary thing.  No one who gives himself in adoration to God is thinking of a benefit to himself.  Not that wanting benefits from God is wrong–Christ Himself taught us to petition God.  Still, glorifying God is something different; one’s eyes are not on oneself.  It is what von Hildebrand called a “value response”.  We worship God because that is the proper response to His goodness.  It is good for us, but above all, it is good period, that is, it is just.  It is the correct and just relationship between creature and Creator.  Not every “good” has to mean “good for…”

Proph is one of the few people I’ve seen to get this exactly right.  Here he is critiquing an atheist internet video:

He declares there are “many problematic qualities” we’re asked to accept about this God that proves its falseness, but then provides perhaps the stupidest sample of what those “problematic qualities” are: “No being can be regarded as perfect,” he says, “if it needs to be worshipped.”

Agreed! Such would be a contradiction in terms. God, being perfect, has no imperfections in need of realization and therefore no “needs.” So we should not presume to worship God because we think He needs to be worshipped. We should worship Him because he deserves to be worshipped, and moreover, because it is good — that is, consistent with our natures as created beings who owe their creator a debt of gratitude and obedience — to worship Him. The argument as expressed by QS is stupid and he is right to call it such. But he is wrong to call it a “problem” for theism because no one, to my knowledge, has aksed anyone to accept that argument.

Of course, for rational creatures, there is a tight congruence between “good for us” and “good period” (i.e. just), since the telos of our rationality is to make appropriate judgments, above all value judgments about the highest things.

Another blow in the First Things / Front Porch Republic debate

Finally, here’s the reply to Joe Carter that I’ve been waiting for.  Excerpt:

Mr. Carter seems to contrast a democratic regime with a regime of coercion, such as when he writes in the comments: “There is not a hint that he (i.e., Mr. Salyer) prefers democratic means to advance his agenda. If he did he would not need to favor coercion to reach the goals he wants to achieve.” But of course, democracies do not differ from other regimes in the degree of coercion they might exercise; they only differ from other regimes in the mechanisms they employ to determine how and when that coercion is exercised. The extent of that coercion may be quite as broad and inhuman as any power wielded by a monarch…Why exactly should we believe that rule by fifty-one percent of such a population will result in the most just and peaceable regime?

Yet, rule they must. In any complex society, the opinion and principles of some portion of the public must be expressed in the laws, to the displeasure of some other portion of the public. Here is where I think Mr. Carter shows himself the most deceived. He writes, again in the comments, “So if someone has the right ‘vision for a proper life’ it’s okay for them to coerce other people into accepting that vision? And how is that not fascism?” It’s not fascism because it’s a description of every single political order that ever was, or ever will be. It’s certainly a description of our own democracy, where a “vision of a proper life” which includes a lack of etiquette, an all-pervasive trash culture, a deceitful public language known as “political correctness,” and the demolition of enormous swathes of our natural landscape for the erection of strip malls and tract housing are imposed on the rest of us which regard these things as horrifying. The reason Mr. Carter doesn’t consider these things to be forms of coercion is because they go forward with the consent of the majority of Americans, and he, like most Americans, is accustomed to thinking of coercion exercised by a majority of citizens as no coercion at all. For this reason, he is able to believe in that most fantastic of liberal chimeras — the neutral state, the state uncommitted to any discrete philosophical positions. James Fitzjames Stephen, the Victorian jurist and polemical foe of J.S. Mill, took especial aim at this fallacious notion in his book Liberty, Equality, Fraternity:

They found, as everyone who has to do with legislation must find, that laws must be based upon principles, and that it is impossible to lay down any principles of legislation at all unless you are prepared to say, I am right, and you are wrong, and your view shall give way to mine, quietly, gradually, and peaceably; but one of us two must rule and the other must obey, and I mean to rule.

In America, it is the majority that means to rule, and to their views the views of everyone else give way. It is not the case that in America, no one has a “vision of a proper life” imposed on them. It is simply the case that in America, a majority of the people generally gets to choose what that vision looks like. And the rest of us are coerced into accepting it.


Are men equal?

Some of you may be interested in this.  Justin has found and quoted an interesting argument from A Voice for Men attacking the masculine protector role because it implies that men are not equal to (i.e. inferior to) women.  In the comments, I defend the patriarchal position:  men and women are not “equal”; they have distinct roles.  Since two orthospheric writers responded so oppositely to the same article, it may be worth further discussion.  See The Truth Shall Set You Free for details.


Friend of the Orthosphere Svein Sellanraa/rkirk has some nice articles on the new Hungarian constitution, which, from our reactionary perspective, is like a dream come true.  See here and here and here.  Here’s a summary from an article he links:

The first issue that has provoked dismay among critics is that Hungary is no longer a republic. The words “Republic of” have been excised from the nation’s official title. According to left-wing commentators, this suggests democracy is in danger. Considering that Hungary was declared a republic on 1 February, 1946, by a Communist-controlled government that had gained power with 17 per cent of the vote, the term hardly seems redolent of civic liberties. By its immemorial constitutional tradition, Hungary is ruled by the Holy Crown of St Stephen, the ultimate symbol of authority. The royal seal of Hungarian kings did not bear the monarch’s name but the inscription: “The seal of the Holy Crown of Hungary.”

The removal of republican nomenclature was the culmination of a process begun under a new law, the Lex Millenaris, when the royal regalia were carried in procession to the Hungarian parliament on January 1, 2000, as the symbols of authority. Although the monarchy has not been restored in the person of an individual, if a Habsburg restoration were eventually thought politic the Archduke Georg, the Magyarised son of the late Crown Prince Otto, already resides in Budapest. Hungary’s post-Habsburg history has been tragic. At the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, Woodrow Wilson robbed Hungary of 71 per cent of its territory, 66 per cent of its population and its only seaport. That was a preliminary taste of American foreign policy initiatives.

The new constitution makes the classic statement of Burkean philosophy: “Our Basic Law is the foundation of our legal system; it is a contract between Hungarians past, present and future.” That recognition of the seamless continuum of history and the transience of generations stands head and shoulders above the trashy verbiage of EU treaties. Not only does it “recognise the role of Christianity in preserving nationhood”, it “professes that the family and the nation constitute the principal framework of our coexistence”. No wonder it is anathema to the Frankfurt Marxists of the EU.

It protects human life from the moment of conception and defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. It lists the crimes of Communism and lifts the statute of limitations that protected the criminals of the Soviet era who despatched 600,000 Hungarians to concentration camps.

The foolish apologist

Here are the 10 pitfalls of the foolish apologist.  (H/T Mere Comments)

That was painful to read–I must be guilty of at least 8 of these.  I need to just shut up and go on a year-long penance.  Anyway, those of you who are interested in spreading the Christian faith (which should be all of you who are Christians) might find it helpful.  These are very easy pitfalls to fall into.  Believe me.