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More on why social justice is bad

Libertarianism isn’t a cure-all, it’s just necessary (at least a lot of it is) for the protection of whatever makes life worth living.

If social justice—equality of outcome—is to be achieved the only things that can be allowed to count are things like formal qualifications that a bureaucracy can measure and administer. Otherwise control is impossible and there is room for endless arbitrariness. Big government must therefore work to make idiosyncratic choices, habits and relationships as irrelevant to practical affairs as possible. But freedom, virtue and love essentially involve personal choice, habit and relationship. Big government must therefore make them as ineffectual as possible. The effects of choice must be muffled, vice and virtue confused, love debunked as favoritism, or as dominance and dependency. How can any of that be good?

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The tolerance Nazis

The situation with the prom in Canada shows what I meant a couple of days ago when I called Article 1 of the Dutch constitution (no discrimination on any grounds by anyone ever) fanatical. In theory you’re allowed to believe that sexual customs that support the traditional family are a good thing, but if you act publicly on that theory in any way the law comes down on you, even if you’re a religious institution upholding the beliefs it has held for 2000 years.

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Catholicism and the tolerant state

Feminism at MIT

Survey design isn’t something most people feel strongly about, but I find this depressing: MIT Surrenders the Scientific Method”.

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More UN hi-jinx

I keep getting things about family-related doings at the UN. Here’s one about American resistance to efforts by the EU, Canada and the Latin American countries[!] to redefine the family and make abortion a right for teenagers. Doesn’t the fact that these things have become questions of international politics show that something extremely strange—and wrong—has happened?

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Melanie Phillips and Western identity

Melanie Phillips, the British journalist, has made the Fortuyn murder an occasion for commenting on contradictions within liberalism. Her article is a good start, but she has a way to go before she escapes from the contradictions she discusses. It’s worth discussing the piece from that point of view, because it is representative of so much neoconservative thought.

Phillips herself is a liberal, although a restrained one. As such she identifies her goal as true liberalism. For her that would include, as non-negotiable fundamentals, “the treatment of women, freedom of speech, the separation of private and public values, and tolerance of homosexuality.” However, she wants such things to be restrained by norms of sexual behavior, family values, moral self-restraint, and rejection of nihilism and libertinism. So it seems what she wants is classical liberalism with a mixture of late 20th-century developments in a moderate form: moderate civil rights, moderate feminism, moderate gay liberation, and moderate public agnosticism.

The problem with her view is that while moderation is a good quality it needs something solid to moderate. One must therefore ask what this mixture of freedom, equality and restraint is going to be based on. Phillips’ answer: a common civic identity within which immigrants, whom the West will continue to welcome, can pursue their own culture and traditions. That sounds measured and serious, but it remains quite unclear where the civic identity is going to come from. It presumably won’t come from religious orthodoxy or ancestral traditions; that would exclude immigrants and abandon liberalism altogether. She does allow British traditions to win in case of conflict, but making something the default answer for pragmatic reasons is no way to preserve it as a constituent of identity.

“Civic identity” sounds like something generated by liberal institutions themselves. No other source is apparent. If that’s so, then it can’t go beyond what’s implicit in those institutions. It’s hard to see, therefore, how it can lead to family values and the rest of it. The principles of liberal institutions are consent, fair procedures and equal treatment. All good things, in their place, but how do you extract things like marital loyalty and sexual restraint from them?

Phillips neither avoids nor deals rationally with the contradiction. She says both that there should be norms of sexual behavior sufficient to support family life, and that one’s sex life is of no concern to others. Which is it? The insoluble problem she faces is that liberalism needs family values and other forms of restraint and self-sacrificing loyalty to survive. It can’t generate them, however, and it can’t let anything else—religious orthodoxy or ancestral tradition, for example—be authoritative enough to generate them without ceasing to be liberalism.

It’s important for people to think about these things, and they have to start somewhere, so Phillips is to be applauded for her article. What events are forcing her and others to recognize is that you can’t always be neutral. To have public order you must be able to assert something non-neutral and make it publicly binding. But once that’s recognized liberalism will have a very hard time maintaining itself. If you can make non-neutral principles binding, what in the end becomes of the arguments for liberalism in the West itself? The claim to neutrality has been essential to liberal dominance. Those who recognize that it must be given up but want to remain liberals typically assume that liberalism simply is the Western tradition. That’s obviously not so. The claim of neutrality has been essential to liberal victory over other Western traditions, and if it gives up that claim it will eventually find itself very hard put to maintain its position practically.

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Pope thinks priests are different

As I mentioned in my longish piece on Christianity and politics a couple of days ago, a great strength of the Christian view is that it provides a way to recognize and value genuine human differences. Since “celebrating diversity” can’t mean insisting that everyone be the same, Christian orthodoxy can never buy into the opposition to discrimination enshrined in Article 1 of the Dutch constitution. An example I gave was women and the priesthood.

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Modern Christian martyrs

It seems unlikely that those who prosecuted Brigitte Bardot for criticising Islam or Le Pen for calling gas chambers a “detail” will now go against critics of Christianity, even though a new compilation shows that during the last century 45,000,000 Christians were killed for their religion.

Death makes us all equal, but some are more equal than others. The very high figure may depend somewhat on interpretation, for example the relationship between the antireligious goals of communist states and the various repressions they conducted. Still, the number of hard-core martyrs duing the last century is very high, certainly many millions, but no-one thinks it matters. Unlike Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Christian martyrs aren’t relevant to the official story about things and so are edited out.

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Reparations news service

All reparations all the time: to keep in touch with fast-breaking news, go to slaveryreparations.com at newstrove.com!

I wonder if this would be possible for other people, to set up Google news or whatever to do a standard search that turns up items of special interest to right-wingers and lists them on a page when you go to it?

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Human ID chips

We knew it was coming, but it’s not pleasant when it happens: “First Humans to Receive ID Chips”. Brave New World meets Big Brother!

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Dutch constitution

A friend points out an NRO article by Rod Dreher detailing Fortuyn’s platform. All very mild. The most interesting point is that Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution forbids discrimination—by anyone—on “religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex, or on any other grounds whatsoever.” So in Holland you have to carry on all relations with everyone in compliance with strict liberal theory. This is fanaticism. Why liberal theory rather than some other theory?

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EU flag

Is this possible? Take a look at the new EU flag!

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Second thoughts in the Dutch Church

Still, not all Europeans in public positions are as lacking in humanity as Times of London staffers. A traditionalist Austrian e-newsletter mentions the statement of the “extremely (‘auesserst’) liberal” Dutch Cardinal Simonis:

“How can a country be described as a model where there is very permissive legislation on the subject of abortion, where euthanasia has been introduced, made to appear as a right, and where marriage between individuals of the same sex is licit?” the cardinal asked.

“These are the consequences of this individualist freedom,” he warned. “Dutch society is too permissive, beyond the limits of what is allowed.”

Cardinal Simonis ended by expressing the hope that Fortuyn´s assassination will “be an occasion to truly reflect on all that is happening in the Netherlands.”

So the shock of murder, like the shock of the pederasty scandals in the United States, is bringing to their senses even some who have been inclined to go along with modernity.

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More on religion and social justice

Social justice requires irreligion; the reverse is true as well. Men need to feel they live in a comprehensible world. If God’s running the show then that’s taken care of, so government can become a matter of what is practically expedient in a situation that is fundamentally well-ordered. Perfection of outcome is not needed because perfection has already been attended to.

If there is no God, then we must create order. Since it is the order of the world as a whole that concerns us most—it is that order that lies behind all thought and action—the death of God means that man must become, as a practical matter, divine. He must construct the world as an ordered system, and since he can’t rely on any higher power or tendency of things toward the good, he must do so as an act of will and by force.

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Religion and social justice

As things are now, the problem with the constitutional separation of church and state is that it assumes that government is not the vehicle of moral life. That assumption is inconsistent with the concept of social justice. “Social justice” means that government supervises how things end up. If government is responsible for what happens, however, then to say government must stay out of religion is to say that religion can have no effect on events.

Government is now responsible for the care of the weak, the upbringing of children, the general well-being of everyone, even the attitudes we display toward each other. Under such circumstances the claim that it is not taking a position on the fundamental questions of human life is absurd. Government today can claim to act without regard to particular religous beliefs only by asserting that religious belief is or ought to be irrelevant to everything serious.

The practical effect of the separation of church and state, under modern conditions, is therefore the establishment of godlessness. The only way of averting such a result is radical reduction in the role of government, an event that is desirable for any number of reasons but appears on the whole unlikely.

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Women soldiers

Are the strongest objections to women soldiers the pragmatic ones? Not really. Certainly the pragmatic objections are more than sufficient, but—as feminists would agree—apparent practicality shouldn’t overshadow fundamental principle.

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Effects of Fortuyn murder

It seems unlikely that the Fortuyn murder will change anything. The Europeans have been absolutely unwilling to talk about issues relating to immigration and get openly abusive and hysterical whenever they come up.

Serves him right! says the Times of London. When people leave reason and decency behind to that extent it takes more than the death of someone they don’t like to bring them back to their senses. There has to be a genuine catastophe, or else the passing of a lot of time.

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London Times on Fortuyn

The British press never ceases to disgust. Here’s the Times on the Fortuyn assassination, “Deadly Ideas: Fortuyn’s killing robs European politics of its innocence”[!]

I especially liked their comment that the killing

will link the violence that has hovered on the fringes of right-wing politics with the ugliness of racial conflict and the emotive theme of immigration.

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Christianity and politics

Random thoughts on politics and Christian orthodoxy:

Political modernism is the attempt to establish a wholly rational and this-worldly social order. The world is to be re-created and redeemed through man’s will. Political modernism thus substitutes faith in man for faith in God. As such, it is a denial of the nature of God, man, and the world. Its natural consequences are anarchy, tyranny, or both.

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Christianity and politics

Thoughts on politics and Christian orthodoxy:

Political modernism is the attempt to establish a wholly rational and this-worldly social order. The world is to be re-created and redeemed through man’s will. Political modernism thus substitutes faith in man for faith in God. As such, it is a denial of the nature of God, man, and the world. Its natural consequences are anarchy, tyranny, or both.

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