Kant versus Cant

This is the text of an opinion piece recently published by Sir Roger Scruton in the Spectator on June 13, 2018.

‘Kant vs cant: How liberals lost their way’ – Spectator Life, June 18

I recently attended an academic seminar, along with some of the most thoughtful and distinguished members of what is sometimes called the ‘liberal establishment’. The topic was ‘the crisis of liberalism’. Many of those present believed that there is such a crisis, and that it is caused by the inability of liberal ideas to prevail over the growing threat of ‘populism’. The thing called populism is amorphous and eludes every attempt to define it. However it is out there and ready to pounce, as it did with the election of Donald Trump, with the vote for Brexit, and with the recent emergence of the Italian Five Star Movement, the German AfD and the National Rally in France, formerly the Front National.

Whether or not there is such a thing as populism, there is certainly such a thing as liberalism. It is associated with the great names of Enlightenment thinking, including Locke, Montesquieu, Hume, Kant and Smith, according to whom the business of government is not to gratify autocratic power, but to maintain individual liberty. Liberalism is the philosophy of limited government. It seeks to reconcile the liberty of citizens with the equal liberty of their neighbours. It has an ideal of civic patriotism, which unites us in a shared commitment to defending the government that protects us all. It leads of its own accord to democratic institutions, since it aims to make government accountable to the people.

Hence liberalism frees the law from all more visceral ties. It regards citizens as equal participants in the political process, regardless of ethnicity, religion or class. We belong together, liberalism tells us, because we ourselves create the law that governs us, with the aim of freeing and protecting us all.

That vision is shared by conservatives too. Even the movements dismissed as ‘populist’ subscribe to the liberal idea of constitutional government. In a real sense we are all liberal constitutionalists now, and the presence among us of religious fanatics prepared to murder in the service of their God has only served to confirm our commitment to the liberal inheritance.

But is that the view of liberals? Liberals, I have discovered, are suspicious of traditional loyalties. They defend alternative lifestyles and nonconformist behaviour. They are not attached to any religious institution and feel the call of patriotic duty only weakly. In the recent referendum they would have voted with the Remainers, and when confronting a Leaver they are likely to sniff out the traces of ‘racism and xenophobia’, which are the odours emitted by populists when cornered by their sophisticated critics.

As a result, when it comes to any form of traditional attachment, liberals are against it. When it comes to the big questions they are resolutely opposed to established interests. They identify with oppositional causes, even if — especially if — it is our tradition of liberal government that is the target. Two recent issues have convinced me of this.

The first is the law that makes hunting with hounds a crime. This aimed to extinguish an activity central to rural society for centuries. Of course hunting has no place on the list of liberal amusements. But either you believe in limited government or you don’t. And if you do, you must recognise, with John Stuart Mill, that the business of government is not to mend our morals but to protect our freedoms. What was most striking was that no self-described liberal spoke out against this outrageous expansion of legislative power. The aim was to extinguish a way of life that was of no interest to liberals. So why should a liberal bother?

The other example is the sexual abuse of young girls by immigrant communities. About these cases (in Rotherham, Oxford, Shrewsbury and elsewhere) nobody in authority would tell the truth until forced to do so, for fear of the ‘racist’ label. ‘Racist’ is an accusation that liberals will go through any amount of contortion to avoid, and if, in order to avoid it, you have to grant immunity to gangs of immigrant criminals, so be it.

These cases remind me that the tradition of liberal government exists because we wish to extend the protection of the law to everyone, regardless of faith, ethnicity or family connections. The fate of the Rotherham girls should have awoken the indignation of the entire liberal elite. But it was the liberals who decided that it was best to keep quiet about it, for it was they who had invented and thrived upon the ‘racism’ meme. I conclude that there is indeed a crisis of liberalism, and that the crisis is liberals.

Published in Spectator Life 13th June 2018

The universe is entirely mental

“The universe does not exist outside our consciousness”.

“Consciousness is the only carrier of reality.”

“The brain is the second person perspective of the first person experience.”

“The universe is the second-person perspective of someone else’s first person experience”

“Life is the image of dissociated processes of mind”.

“The universe does not exist outside of our consciousness of it”.

 

Krauthammer

If Charles was wrong in his beliefs that the Middle East could be made better by American intervention, as I believe he was, his error was on the side of hope.  A splendid man, with a great gift for the opinion business. On Trump he could be wrong. I will leave it at that.

To live the life that you intend – that is the point.

 

The women were not speaking to each other

 

Overpromoted and female.

From the blogsite “The other McCain”

An anonymous email came in over the transom this morning:

Hi, Stacy.
During the early weeks after the USS Fitzgerald was speared by a lumbering Philippine container ship, it was noteworthy that the captain and a couple of admirals were publically named, but not the actual officer in charge, the officer of the deck. (OOD) The other person who should have kept the Fitz out of trouble is the person in charge of the combat information center, the Tactical Action Officer. That individual is supposed to be monitoring the combat radar, which can detect a swimmer at a distance of two miles.
Not until a year later, when the final reports are made public and the guilty parties have been court-martialed, does the truth come out. The OOD was named Sarah, and the Tactical Action Officer was named Natalie, and they weren’t speaking to each other!!! The Tactical Action Officer would normally be in near constant communication with the OOD, but there is no record of any communication between them that entire shift!
Another fun fact: In the Navy that won WWII, the damage control officers were usually some of the biggest and strongest men aboard, able to close hatches, shore up damaged areas with timbers, etc. The Fitz’s damage control officer was also a woman, and she never left the bridge. She handled the aftermath of the accident remotely, without lifting a finger herself!
Look it up: The OOD was Sarah Coppock, Tactical Action Officer was Natalie Combs. . . .
When I noticed last year that they were doing all they could to keep the OOD’s name out of the headlines, I speculated to my son that it was a she. Turns out all the key people (except one officer in the CIC) were female!

Indeed, I did some searching, and Lt. Coppock pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty. Lt. Combs faced a hearing last month:

In an 11-hour hearing, prosecutors painted a picture of Lt. Irian Woodley, the ship’s surface warfare coordinator, and Lt. Natalie Combs, the tactical action officer, as failing at their jobs, not using the tools at their disposal properly and not communicating adequately. They became complacent with faulty equipment and did not seek to get it fixed, and they failed to communicate with the bridge, the prosecution argued. Had they done those things, the government contended, they would have been able to avert the collision.

That two of the officers — Coppock and Combs — involved in this fatal incident were female suggests that discipline and training standards have been lowered for the sake of “gender integration,” which was a major policy push at the Pentagon during the Obama administration. It could be that senior officers, knowing their promotions may hinge on enthusiastic support for “gender integration,” are reluctant to enforce standards for the women under their command.

This was the story of Kara Hultgreen, the Navy pilot who died in a 1994 F-14 crash. Investigation showed that Hultgreen had been allowed to proceed in her training after errors that would have meant a washout for any male pilot. But the Clinton administration was pushing for female fighter pilots, which resulted in a competition between the Navy and Air Force to put women into these combat roles. It is not necessary to believe that (a) women shouldn’t be fighter pilots, in order to believe (b) lowering standards for the sake of quotas is a bad idea. Of course, you may believe both (a) and (b), but it is (b) that gets people killed.

It seems obvious that the Pentagon (and the liberal media) sought to suppress full knowledge of what happened to the Fitzgerald in the immediate aftermath of the June 2017 incident that killed seven sailors, in the same way the details of Kara Hultgreen’s death were suppressed. It took investigative reporters like Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times a lot of hard work to find out what actually happened to Hultgreen. Let’s hope other reporters will dig into what’s happening in our military with the “gender intergration” agenda at the Pentagon now.

A plea for sex-segregated education

“Let boys become men” is the title of an essay on the plight of boys in our feminized education system. I commend it to your attention.

It starts with a bang and goes from there.

Whenever the idealistic Left, never satisfied but ever meddlesome, sees some discrepancy between the performance of one group and that of another, they who find injustice everywhere but in their own hearts leap to the conclusion that some “system,” like an evil mage working his malignant designs out of the sight of men, has carved out the canyon. And then it is the task of those who worship an even ground to fill in the Grand Canyon, with pebbles, good wishes, reams of law and regulation, and other people’s money….

We are talking about failure here, and not about girlish success. It is not as if the world has been set afire by our college graduates, who very seldom can write three sensible and grammatical sentences in a row, who might be able to parrot the slogans of gender theory but cannot identify Garibaldi or Catherine de Medici, and whose actual performance in the arts is generally beneath embarrassment. I have not the time here to argue that the age of great women novelists is largely past, or that the greatest woman poet is still either Sappho or Emily Dickinson, those artists of the lyrical and terse. I will say that civilization seems to have gained nothing at all by feminism, if you take into account every Bernini, Bach, Schopenhauer, Goethe, Newman, and Planck burnt out in the bud; because that is what is happening to boys, en masse. If I hear of a boy who has failed out of high school, I can make no assumptions as to his intelligence; he may be a genius. Certainly, the capacity to do well in our high schools, such as they are, is a strong indication against genius, and in favor of a neat and happy willingness to please, to do what is always socially acceptable, however that is defined from place to place and from time to time….
If you wanted to come up with teaching methods, school policies, and a curriculum perversely designed to bore the ordinary boy half to death, to frustrate him, to fail to engage his natural propensities, to give him no hope, to cut his heart right out, then you could hardly improve on what we have now.
The actions taken so far get rid of things boys do well and like to do:
  • memory work
  • geography
  • map making
  • military history and history in general
  • aggressive and rough activity
 impose
  • reading about girls and women.

The plot is working.

 

 

Bernardo Kastrup

Bernardo Kastrup is a physicist who has broken from materialism as the basis for understanding the nature of the universe. Materialism is the doctrine that there is nothing in the universe except matter and its motions. Hence explaining how something so immediate, mental, weird, and undivided as consciousness arises from a material process becomes the “hard problem” of consciousness.

By contrast, Kastrup has become a thorough-going radical “idealist”. Not as in someone who is driven by ideals, but someone who considers that mind is the fundamental constituent of the universe.

An introduction to where his views have led him is found in this Scientific American article:

 

The obvious way around the combination problem is to posit that, although consciousness is indeed fundamental in nature, it isn’t fragmented like matter. The idea is to extend consciousness to the entire fabric of spacetime, as opposed to limiting it to the boundaries of individual subatomic particles. This view—called “cosmopsychism” in modern philosophy, although our preferred formulation of it boils down to what has classically been called “idealism”—is that there is only one, universal, consciousness. The physical universe as a whole is the extrinsic appearance of universal inner life, just as a living brain and body are the extrinsic appearance of a person’s inner life.

I have been reading Kastrup’s Why Materialism is Baloney to my considerable satisfaction. His writing is clear as water, but what he is asking you to imagine is that how you have been educated causes you to misperceive the world. It is not his language that is difficult. It is in seeing the world through fresh eyes.

He is the author of seven books.

Kastrup is the antidote to the Harris/Dennett/Hitchens school of radical materialist atheism.

Watch out for Kastrup; the man is taking the battle to the reigning gods of drivel.

John Perry Barlow

Mother American Night: My Life in Crazy Times by [Barlow, John Perry, Greenfield, Robert]

The Insanely Eventful Life of Grateful Dead Lyricist John Perry Barlow

A posthumous memoir from a mutant genius

Mother American Night: My Life in Crazy Times, by John Perry Barlow with Robert Greenfield, Crown Archetype, 288 pages, $27

John Perry Barlow, who died this year at age 70, was a Grateful Dead lyricist, a pioneer in the fight for online civil liberties, and possibly a mutant. As Barlow recounts in his posthumously published memoir, Mother American Night, his mother as a girl was treated for tuberculosis by a quack who administered a prolonged beam of X-rays right into her hip. Forty-five minutes of this treatment gave her radiation sickness. Her hair fell out, she suffered severe burns, and she was informed that, oops, she’d been sterilized.

The sterilization didn’t take. Two decades later, in 1947, she gave birth to John Perry Barlow. One of his X-Men superpowers seems to have been to unerringly locate centers of the American zeitgeist and discover some pivotal role he could play in them.

When everything is policed except crime

 

Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire had the lowest rate of solved crime in 2017, while the most crimes were solved in Uttlesford in Essex

 

The news today from the country formerly known as England is that less than one in twenty street crimes are being solved.

Less than one in 20 street robberies and burglaries are being solved in the UK, shocking new figures have revealed.

Official police data shows that just four per cent of robberies and three per cent of burglaries were solved in England and Wales in 2017.

The figures will fuel concerns that there is a crisis in the nation’s policing, with one MP describing London as ‘the Wild West.

  1. The “Wild West” was policed by private vengeance rather than by the forces law and was by comparison exceedingly safe. Killing someone would result in a gang of the friends of the victim hunting you down.
  2. The news reminds me of Mark Steyn’s bon mot, “Britain, where everything is policed except crime”.

The Master’s views on the matter can be found here.

London’s murder rate is now higher than New York’s.

 

The number of police officers in England and Wales is at its lowest level since the late 1980s, with a significant drop between 2010 and 2017

 

Not clear on the concept

From the left hand end of the bell curve comes news that a man (guess what colour he is) sought to extort a domain name through a shooting and home invasion.

During the invasion, his wounded victim shot back and hit him four times. The assailant got 20 years for this and other crimes.

After being clubbed with the pistol and repeatedly targeted with a Taser, Deyo [the victim] gained control of the handgun, despite being shot in the leg. He then shot Hopkins [the assailant] several times in the chest and called police. Hopkins, who survived the incident in June last year, pleaded guilty to one count of “interference and attempted interference with commerce by threats and violence”.

You can’t make this up.

Hopkins is pictured below.

Hopkins

we are living in a liberal Oceania

Fred Reed writes:

“Affirmative action” means hiring people because they can’t do the job well. Near-synonyms are “diversity,” meaning groups that cannot do the job well, and “inclusiveness,” which means seeking people who you know cannot do the job well. These underpin American society, and have ruined education.

More here.

“Mac Donald goes on to tell of school after school accepting diversity with credentials well below those of real students, of schools dropping the GRE requirement because it makes obvious that in STEM fields women and minorities are not performing as desired. (“Minorities” always means “poorly performing minorities.” Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and so on don’t count.)”

Heather MacDonald on “How Identity Politics is Harming the Sciences”

The situation is dire because the lies are so deeply believed, the conformity required is so effectively enforced, and the penalty for thinking differently is exclusion and oblivion.

Hence we are living in a liberal Oceania

  • inclusion is exclusion

  • diversity is uniformity

  • tolerance is intolerance