A papal rebuke to globalism

Pope Francis:  indigenous people have rights over their land

The Pope said that indigenous people should have the final say about what happens to their land.

Pope Francis insisted on Wednesday that indigenous groups must give prior consent to any economic activity affecting their ancestral lands.

The pontiff met with representatives of indigenous peoples attending a UN agricultural meeting and said the key issue facing them is how to reconcile the right to economic development with protecting their cultures and territories.

“In this regard, the right to prior and informed consent should always prevail,” he said. “Only then is it possible to guarantee peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict.”

History’s first Latin American Pope has been a consistent backer of indigenous rights and has frequently spoken out about the plight of indigenous people in resisting economic development that threatens their lands.

“For governments, this means recognizing that indigenous communities are a part of the population to be appreciated and consulted, and whose full participation should be promoted at the local and national level,” Francis told the indigenous leaders Wednesday.

If the post-Vatican II mess puts an end to Pius XII’s idiotic “right to immigrate” I guess it won’t have been all bad (just almost all bad).

The Right vindicates common sense distinctions

Quincy Latham notes the perils involved in trying to free one’s mind of Leftist-tainted concepts, concluding

On the whole I think it would be better for leftists to feel that they cannot use certain basic concepts comfortable without admitting unwanted implications, and for us to feel quite at home with our basic conceptual vocabulary


Leftists already read little because study and thought do little to advance their social status, but we should look forward to the day when they actively avoid Homer, Rousseau and Darwin because they “know” that these authors are somehow implicitly fascist.

In some ways, we’re already there.  One of the core intellectual tasks of the Right has been, and will continue to be, the analysis and rehabilitation of categories found useful by pre-modern humanity but rejected by moderns in their fits of ideologically-driven oversimplification.

Consider these three:

  1. Friend vs. Enemy.  Carl Schmitt famously put this distinction at the core of his political theory in explicit defiance of the liberal humanitarianism of his day that wanted to reduce all questions to abstract morality and economic efficiency.  The friend vs. enemy distinction, Schmitt insisted, is independent of these.  To identify a threatening nation as the enemy does not necessarily make any statement about its moral, aesthetic, or economic qualities.  Schmitt observed that the liberal nations (for him, the victors of WWI) in fact do mobilize against threats and competitors; forbidding themselves the vocabulary of “friend” and “enemy” means they recast their hostilities in terms of moral absolutes.  The nation they attack cannot be called their own enemy, so it must be demonized as the enemy of all humanity.  This will be a reoccurring conservative argument.  Eliminating a needed category doesn’t eliminate hostility between peoples; it only forces them to be incorrectly conceptualized along moral lines, which actually diminishes our ability to empathize with our opponent.
  2. Native vs. Foreigner.  Much of what Schmitt said about the distinction between friend and enemy applies to the more basic categorization of people as belonging to “us” or as being alien.  I argued recently in the Orthosphere, concerning the topic of Muslim immigration, that we can actually be more sympathetic to Muslims among us if we acknowledge that our concern is not that their ways are objectionable in some absolute (moral/philosophical) sense, but that they are alien to the culture we wish to preserve as dominant in our nation.  Reflections about the “universal person” are also quite relevant to this.
  3. Masculine vs. feminine.  Conservatives have found little to recommend the liberals’ distinction between biological “sex” and socially constructed “gender”.  However, pre-modern peoples had intriguing intuitions of masculinity and femininity as essences or principles that can be considered beyond the strict context of sexual reproduction.  Largely defined by relation to each other (so that, for example, a woman relates in a feminine way to other people more than to wild animals or inanimate objects), even things other than sexually reproducing animals can participate in these principles to some extent.  For example, the sun is masculine while Luna is feminine, at least in how they present themselves to us.  Masculinity and femininity seem to represent poles in the structure of relationality itself, and so even the more mythical attributions of these essences were not necessarily intended metaphorically.

The liberal critique of these categories, and others not accommodated by their ideology, comes down to the following

  1. Imperialism of the moral.  The category in question is recognized as nonmoral, and the critic asserts that it is morally superior to use only moral categories.  (“Wouldn’t it be better to judge someone based on whether he’s a good person than on where he was born?”)  Alternatively, the critic presumes that other categories actually are reducible to moral categories, and other categories are condemned for being inaccurate in their presumed implicit moral evaluations.  (“He’s a good person.  How can you call him an ‘alien’ as if he were some kind of monster?!”)
  2. Appeal to boundary cases.  Sometimes the boundaries of the criticized category are fuzzy.  Perhaps a particular person is like “us” in some ways but unlike “us” in others.  From this, conclude that the category is arbitrary and meaningless.
  3. Emotivism.  Claim that the criticized category is actually a sub-rational emotional response.  It must be because it has no place in liberal ideology, which the liberal presumes to be coextensive with reason itself.  And in fact, when certain ways of thinking are made socially unacceptable, they will likely only pop out in emergencies and moments of distress.  It would be no different with moral categories–if the concepts “evil” and “unfair” were socially disfavored, people would only resort to them when intolerably provoked and undoubtedly emotional.
  4. Imputation of sinister social motives.  The critic points out that the categorization promotes some established social structure; therefore, it must be an illusion.

Ironically, Leftist categories are arguably far more vulnerable to these objections than traditional ones.  Consider the core Leftist category of “privileged” vs. “oppressed”.  It clearly assigns moral status based on what are actually amoral-in-themselves  sociological facts.  That the “privilege” is illegitimate is presumed rather than argued, and the moral imputations are often incorrect.  Also, dividing the world into privileged and oppressors is a gross oversimplification of complicated reality.  Many people are privileged in some way and disadvantaged in others, or privileged compared to some and disadvantaged compared to others, or privileged in some contexts while disadvantaged in others.  To claim that all white men are “privileged” regardless of income, location of residence, family reputation, religion, disability, education, etc. is ridiculous.  The boundaries of privilege are even fuzzier than those of race.  Most people are in the fuzzy boundary of privilege, while most people have clear racial and national identities, and only an insignificant few lack a manifest sex.  Needless to say, the accusation of privilege is often emotionally charged, an accusation borne of resentment and envy.  And from the beginning it has been at the service of a distinct political agenda.

The Leftist is in no position to criticize other peoples’ categories.  But I agree with Mr. Latham.  By all means, let us be glad as we watch them mentally cripple themselves.

Orthosphere posts

I’ve put a couple of posts of the Orthosphere lately.

First, a book review of Roger Scruton’s How to be a Conservative.

Second, a consideration of Why people don’t want Muslim immigration.

My reason for returning to the Orthosphere is the new policy that allows a distinction between ephemeral “posts” and more substantive “essays”.  I am a mere culture warrior with no pretense to profundity, and when I’m not culture warring I’m comparing My Little Pony to Star Trek, but I’m pleased that the Orthosphere aspires to higher things.  Now I can do my thing without getting in the way of them doing their’s.

Also, with President Trump’s idiotic belligerence toward Iran, those who told me that we needed to elect Trump to avoid a nuclear war are advised to reconsider my argument for why you shouldn’t vote.  Even more relevant, here’s an old post of mine on why the Republican Party is always going off on crazy tangents.

Ours is an age of decisive leadership

I speak, of course, of Pope Francis.  I’ve been marveling at how he just decided to go all Unum Sanctum on the Knights of Malta like that.  If you don’t like condom peddling, you’re out on your ass, just like that!  For decades, we’ve been watching as priests and religious orders openly defied Paul, John Paul II, and Benedict and got away with it.  Then we’d say “Well, the Pope isn’t a dictator” or “Just wait–the Church thinks in centuries”.  But you know what?  Francis doesn’t think in centuries.  He didn’t like the FFI, so he didn’t wait a hundred years to murder it.  When he sensed resistance in the CDW and the Pontifical John Paul II Institute, he didn’t dialogue; he purged them.  Not one at a time, either.  All at once.  Then he promises to closely monitor the JPII Institute to make sure they’re teaching his new depraved doctrine.  Priests who don’t like it are suspended.  See the decree suspending Father Medina.  It strongly suggests that anyone who disagrees with Francis’ newfangled teachings is a schismatic and incurs latae sententiae excommunication.  Expect to see that idea percolate up to the top.  How new is the new normal?  The pope’s own newspaper reprints a letter saying, basically, that it’s okay  to have sex with a woman other than one’s wife as long as one feels at peace with God.  “I am the tradition!” declared Pius IX, but can anyone imagine him thinking he could rewrite Catholicism like this?  On the books, Pius IX was all-powerful, but the Church was never thought to be his to do with as he pleased.

I am struck by how insubstantial the past has come to feel.  One used to have a sense that beliefs and practices that had existed for millennia, or even just centuries, were very solid, and if subject to change at all, only in a gradual, organic way.  We would mock the ignorance and hubris of American politicians who would demand the Catholic Church change teachings as old as humanity to satisfy some ideological craze of the moment.  Now, the past has lost its weight, while ideological crazes seem unstoppable.  Those in power can overturn anything and everything with the stroke of a pen, and there’s nothing we can do about it.