You are here

Society and culture

Going with the social flow

I just finished reading Stanley Milgram’s Obedience to Authority.


Lords, chancellors, and lofty moral imperatives

The Blair government is issuing regulations implementing a statutory prohibition against discrimination in the provision of “services.” The regulations say you can’t discriminate against homosexuals, no exceptions.


Filling out the quotas

For the sake of fairness I ought to include a white male (one who’s not yet dead) in my gallery of intellectual corruption and psychological disorder in academia. So here’s a piece from British philosopher A. C. Grayling in which he gives views on Christianity and European history that in manner and substance qualify him for inclusion.


Lies have consequences

A few days ago I called Houston Baker a “thuggish hack,” and mentioned him as an example of “the lost honor of academia.” It seems to me that the information readily available on the internet supports those views (examples can be found here and here). Still, I was struck by how bad his situation is.


I don't get it

How comeanarchotyranny
only appears 39 times in the Google index?

UPDATE: Good news: “anarcho-tyranny” appears 15,000 times. Still not enough, but better than 39!


The lost honor of academia

What must it be like working in a profession in which a pleasant out-of-her-depth fantasist like Elaine Pagels or a thuggish hack like Houston Baker (see this discussion) are named-chair superstars at top universities?


Yes, Virginia, there are liberal tyrants

Here are a couple of comments on another weblog that touch on something I wrote and raise a point worth discussing:


Observations on a field trip

I went to a conference this Saturday put on by some academics and noted (as one might expect) that there’s a definite orthodoxy that provides the assumed background for discussions. For my own purposes I decided to summarize the orthodoxy, and here’s what I came up with:

  • There’s no truth except the results of the natural sciences, and those are really a matter of what’s practically reliable rather than what’s true. It follows that conflicts don’t relate to something larger that each tries to approximate but no one fully grasps, they’re just conflicts. Consequently, no enduring tradition can be the vehicle of any enduring truth. Every tradition has debates and conflicts, so it’s by nature dialogic and conflictual, and that’s all that can be said about it.

What's it to you?

A standard jibe from proponents of “gay marriage” is that marriages don’t eat each other up, so John and Mary’s can’t be affected by Ron and Barry’s. As one blogger puts it, “I can’t help but feel sorry for people whose families are so fragile as to be destroyed by someone else’s decision to make a long-term commitment to another person.”

The jibe fits very nicely with current understandings of human conduct, which tell us that we are (and should be) independent individuals making up our own minds how we will act based on personal goals and the incentives and disincentives our environment offers. On that understanding, which people consider a matter of simple rationality, the jibe seems unanswerable.


Fire station madness

An example of how tolerance and diversity mean universal suppression: firemen forbidden to put pictures of loved ones, flags on lockers. Several weeks ago a sexually offensive slogan was found on the outside of a fireman’s locker.


The struggle goes on

Der Untergang des Abendlandes seems to be accelerating:

  • The Eldest Daughter of the Church is definitely leaving home. The number of self-declared French Catholics has dropped from 80 per cent in the early 1990s to 67 per cent in 2000 and 51 per cent today. Half of those Catholics say they don’t believe in God, while in the population at large the number of self-declared atheists (apparently a stronger position than simple disbelief) has risen since 1994 from 23 to 31 percent.

Bowled over by diversity

Steve Sailer’s got a good article about bigshot Harvard social scientist Robert D. Putnam. Putnam’s the guy behind Bowling Alone, a famous article (and then book) that documented the decline of civc engagement in America. More recently, as Sailer details, he’s published a study showing that more ethnic diversity means less social trust, not only between but even within ethnic groups.


More on Hell and handbaskets

For those who liked my gloom-and-doom entry last month, here’s something even gloomier and doomier from the late John Attarian: Requiem for the Right.


Building the future

A quote from Le Corbusier that proves the man’s intelligence: “The core of our old cities, with their domes and cathedrals, must be broken up and skyscrapers put in their place.” (Cited in A Humane Economy, 85.) Say what you like, he knew his stuff. The urban environment is the setting for the rituals that constitute our public life. The goal of modernity is to replace the familial, civic and religious core of that common life with technologically rational processes embodied in world markets and neutral transnational bureaucracies. Once you grasp that point the need to replace domes and cathedrals with skyscrapers is obvious.


The Pope as conqueror of prejudice

On the face of it, these pro-homosexualists who don’t like “prejudice” have a point: Mixed message, and Two speeches, two days apart. If it’s true, as the Pope supposedly said, that we should all strive to “overcome preconceived ideas and prejudices, tear down barriers and eliminate contrasts that divide … so as to build together a world of justice and peace,” then it’s not clear why we should accept sexual distinctions rather than struggle against them, with gays heroically leading the way. To be more specific, here’s the way people today understand such statements:


What's hot and what's not

Someone just did a survey of under-10-year-olds in England, and found they thought that celebrity was the best thing in the world, followed by good looks and wealth. That fills in the picture presented by the survey of teenaged girls last year that found that 63 per cent wanted to be glamour models, while 25 per cent fancied a career in lap dancing.


A slightly brighter note

Still, in spite of the gloom and doom of the last posting, life goes on, and no cloud but has a silver lining. For example, a big benefit of the recent scandals in the Catholic Church and growing anti-religious trends in Western life is that they’ve squashed a lot of the happy talk the Church has been stuck with for the past 40 years and forced the bishops to try to figure out what it is they’re supposed to stand for and why.


Dyspeptic mutterings

First it was the French Jews, then the Dutch, then the Germans, all people with fertility rates well in the red, who were reported to be leaving their homelands. Now it seems it’s the British too: Almost one in 10 British citizens living overseas. In the meantime the flow of Third World immigrants into the West goes on faster than ever: 1 in 7 Mexican workers employed in the U.S.


It helps to be into theatre

When I passed through the Houston airport recently they kept threatening over the PA system to arrest anyone who made jokes about airport security. Since that’s where we are, it’s hard to believe many people will take complaints from the airport imams seriously. The Muslims still seem rather ham-handed manipulating public views.


The soul of man under liberalism

In my last post I suggested that liberalism intrinsically causes crime, because the strong impulses, weak intelligence and spotty human attachments that make a man criminal are supported by basic liberal principles (making preference the standard of the good, reducing reason to the service of desire, turning autonomy into an ultimate standard). I then suggested that in practice a liberal society can choose between treating criminals with respect and consideration, as the Europeans do, and ignoring crime, or stomping on them, and ignoring the illiberality of the resulting social order.



Subscribe to RSS - Society and culture