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Practical politics

Further adventures in inclusivity

The logic of antidiscrimination law continues to work itself out: scholar proposes compulsory “tolerance” within churches. The argument’s no joke if you’ve thought through the implications of existing legal principles regarding equality of opportunity and access and the separation of religion from public discourse.


Equal access to employment with Governor McGreevey

One issue raised by the current sleaze involving New Jersey Governor McGreevey is the issue of homosexuals hiring homosexuals. I have some slight personal experience of the thing, since an Episcopal diocese to which I used to be connected is run by a gay mafia that looks out for its own. Others have noticed it as well, if the Google entries for “gay mafia”, “homosexual mafia”, “velvet mafia”, “homintern” and whatnot are any indication. Many people, for example, find it very hard to understand the response of Catholic authorities to predatory clerical pederasts apart from the influence of homosexual cliques and networks.


Canadian tax tyranny

Canada Revenue Agency is warning churches to be silent on moral issues when they become political issues. So they have to keep quiet at present about “gay marriage,” at least if they’re on the wrong side. It’s not clear how far the principle reaches. Do the Catholics lose their tax exemption if they deny communion to pro-abortion types.


A note from the CEDAW front

With reference to the supposed liberal respect for the consent of the people, it’s worth pointing out that the attempt to force universal abortion rights on the whole world on international human rights grounds is going ahead full tilt, with a UN Committee developing its plans establishing abortion on demand for women and girls as an internationally recognized and enforceable human right. (The Turnabout search function will turn up previous entries on the horrors of CEDAW, The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the treaty that’s providing cover for the campaign.)


Why have these things happened?

Right-wingers puzzle over how to explain liberalism and the Left. Where do they come from—a sheltered upbringing, arrested emotional development, scientism, a general lack of realism, managerial class self-interest? Some even look at modern culture and politics and conclude that the love of equality is simply the love of degradation and death, so it’s the latter that really explains everything.

When several things all imply each other to varying degrees it can be difficult to say which is most basic. At Turnabout we mostly like simple conceptual explanations. They seem to explain basic issues more clearly and comprehensively than speculations about histories or motives. In order to understand what a whole society consistently does you have to look beyond what people want or even what they value to how those wants and values come about. Modern culture isn’t degraded just because people like degradation. There are always people with every conceivable motive, including the drive to degrade themselves. How does it happen that in our time that drive is able to present itself as truer and more in accord with the way things are than anything else—and therefore, weirdly, as good and morally compulsory, so that anything else would be a cop-out? And values like freedom and equality don’t explain themselves. People always have things that they value. How does it happen that today it has come to seem obvious that things as abstract and empty as those particular values are supreme and everything else must give way to them?


Race and American identity

A correspondent raised the issue of the historic identity of the American people, and whether it depended on the exclusion of nonwhites and in particular blacks. He suggested (a bit modishly, I thought) that to the extent concrete ethnicity became less important during the course of our history a sort of constructed pseudo-ethnicity based on the exclusion of the nonwhite Other grew in importance, and also claimed that Westward expansion was racist in the sense that Indians as Indians had to be defined as unworthy for it to seem legitimate to occupy their land.

My response:


Paleo-politics and Catholicism

The uniform view of the cultural Left—which includes everything that counts as mainstream from the standpoint of our bureaucracies of truth—is that nods by Republican leaders toward traditionalist cultural concerns prove that the GOP has been hijacked by fundamentalist wackos. That’s not rhetoric and spin, things really look to them that way. It’s clear from scholarly discussions and judicial opinions, for example, that the elite bar, a thoroughly mainstream part of our ruling class, is literally unable to conceive of a legitimate ground for publicly distinguishing homosexual couplings from any other sexual connection, including marriage.


What rights for the Right?

It’s a mistake for conservatives to stake their case on the appeal to freedom and equality as ultimate principles that is the stuff of political rhetoric today. The appeal is self-defeating, both for conservatives and for anyone intelligently attached to those goals. Their logic is innately unlimited, and the attempt to put them into effect ever more comprehensively leads first to left-wing radicalism and then to tyranny and degradation.

Still, we have to live in the world around us to some extent and try to make our pitch in a way that can be understood. So if people want to talk about rights traditionalist conservatives should, among other things, put forward their own ideas on the subject. It seems to me that one very important right they should push is the right to live with integrity in accordance with views they share with others, at least if those views have longstanding local backing and so aren’t eccentric, antisocial or aggressive and are plainly capable of ordering a productive and satisfying way of life. Such a right is obviously basic to any political order that can legitimately claim to be free or popular. It would include:


The coming Reich

Robert Reich was a class ahead of me at college, and at the time he stood out for his knack at picking out positions that were (1) somewhat ahead of the curve, so he could get a leg up as representative of The Next Big Thing, but (2) not too far ahead, so those in power could bring him into their efforts to deal with events and bring them in line with the needs of orderly management and their own interests.


Don't just stand there, do something!

A couple of online petitions in support of marriage from Alliance for Marriage and Institute for Religion and Democracy.


Errata variorum

Keeping abreast of the times:


Bias no myth

Liberal media bias is obvious to most people but usually invisible to liberals. The media bias basics assembled by the Media Research Center includes surveys and whatnot and are worth bookmarking in case the point comes up.


French hypocrisy and puritanism strike again

Brigitte Bardot and her publisher have been fined 5,000 Euros each for being on the wrong side of current social issues. The immediate basis of the fines was publication of a book some people found objectionable on acccount of its comments on immigrants, in-your-face homosexuals, and whatnot.


News in the consumer society

The Pew Center has put out an interesting survey of people’s news habits. The survey confirms that:

  • People trust journalists less and less. That’s especially true of people who are Republican or conservative. As a result, the alphabet networks are down but Fox News is way up.
  • Young people don’t read newspapers and absorb news from random sources. More and more people are getting their news online.
  • Specific knowledge of current events goes with age, and with education and general level of culture. Readers of “literary” mags like the New Yorker have more of it than readers of political mags that the New Republic.

Here and Now

How are things now and what do we do about them?


No One Left to Lie To

by Christopher Hitchens

122 pp hb Verso London 1999

The disappearance of politics in today’s world reflects the disappearance of resistance to rational hedonism. “Give ‘em what they want” has become the grand principle of what passes for public life. To put it formally, only a few crazies now dispute that the final goal of public life is a rational system for maximizing individual satisfactions as much and equally as possible.

In the absence of politics disputes that once were political take on a purely technical form. How can prosperity be promoted, diffused and secured? How can noneconomic considerations—ethnic and religious ties and so on—be rendered irrelevant? Any substantive issues, for example the conflict between maximizing satisfactions and equalizing them, get turned into just another technical matter, with the “right” arguing that reducing taxes and regulation increases production and helps the poor and the “left” claiming the same for egalitarian initiatives.


Radical Traditionalism and the New World Order

The attempt to base social order on human will dominates public life today to the point that objective moral order has become unthinkable. Technological hedonism, the rational organization of all things to give each man what he wants, is universally accepted as the guiding ideal.

The current situation has grown up in stages. The First World War marked the end of tradition and religion as stated principles of order. The conception of legitimacy that vanished then depended on a religious establishment that could no longer serve as the basis of politics. Thrones fell because their authority was no longer viewed as divinely ordered or simply part of the way things were. Instead, government had to base itself entirely on the will of the governed. In the absence of God, the will of Man became the source of law.


What is the EU?

The goals and ultimate destiny of the European Union have been variously explained. The uncertainty is not altogether accidental, since the plan of the EU Founding Fathers was to bring about European unity by indirection. The strategy is a good one; it is hard to criticize what has no accepted description. Those who favor the EU can cooperate without making their long-term goals explicit, while opponents are told that their objections are mistaken because the EU is really something else.

It is therefore important to say what the EU is and so make it something that can be discussed and understood. It is clear that it is not a collection of solutions to particular practical problems, but rather an all-embracing attempt to construct ever greater unity in spite of all obstacles. It may rhetorically assert the principle of subsidiarity — making decisions locally when possible — but its entire history denies that principle. It aims at centralization and uniformity for their own sake.


Civil War Two

by Thomas W. Chittum

201 pp American Eagle Publications, Show Low (Arizona) 1996. ISBN 0-929408-17-9

Thomas Chittum, a former rifleman in Vietnam, the Rhodesian Territorials, and the Croatian Army, has written something of an underground classic that predicts the devolution of an increasingly multicultural America into racial partition and bloody civil war.

The analysis is quite simple. Through immigration policy and “affirmative action” programs American governing elites are transforming the country from a generally democratic nation-state into a stratified multiethnic empire. For the elites the payoff is increased power, status and wealth as the transformation makes them increasingly immune to popular control. Nonetheless, the new arrangements will be unstable because multiethnic empires are always unstable. In the absence of common understandings and loyalties, they can be held together only by force, privilege, and a strategy of divide and rule.


What to do now?

A correspondent asks:

What should the mainstream conservative movement be doing (that it’s currently not) that would help society? How might Buchanan and paleocons become formidable?

My reply:

I don’t have any magical solutions. It seems to me the most important battle the paleocons and people like Buchanan should carry on is at the level of principle and concept.

As things stand they’re not really allowed to be part of the public discussion. The basic reason is that if you think it’s good to have social authorities other than transnational bureaucracies and world markets then by definition you’re a “hater”—a nativist, xenophobe, racist, sexist, homophobe, theocrat, etc. As such you’re a public menace to be crushed by all available means.



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