Tuesday, July 13, 2004


An interesting paper on Leo Strauss just out from Claremont. It argues that Strauss was more in tune with traditional American isolationism than the neocons are. The argument centres on whether America's foreign policy should be solely centred on self-preservation (Strauss) or whether it should also be evangelical for democracy (Kristol and the neocons). Much of the rhetoric coming from the White House does give the impression that a neocon agenda is being followed but I am sure that GWB would have done nothing in Afghanistan and Iraq except as a way of protecting America from further terrorist depredations. So the neocons are just a sort of Greek chorus on the sidelines.

But arguing about theories of isolationism versus interventionism is to me a bit too reminiscent of Leftist devotion to oversimplified theories. I prefer traditional conservative skepticism about generalizations and an emphasis on each case being judged on its individual merits. Note that the conservative government of my country appears to be untouched by either Straussianism or neoconservatism and yet behaves in a similar way to the USA. It has twice recently intervened militarily in the affairs of neighbouring countries and done so with great humanitarian success by most standards. Neither country was any threat to Australia so the intervention was almost wholly altruistic. It sprang from conservative decency, not any grand theory. I am sure that both Australia and the USA will continue to be motivated by a mix of self-interest and altruism that will defy any theory to predict or describe it.



Christopher Pearson has an interesting summary of recent developments in Australia's "History wars" (surprisingly reminiscent of the Historikerstreit in Germany or the American "reparations" movement -- with Leftists determined to promote inherited guilt from one's forefathers and conservatives rejecting that). He notes that a Leftist historian has now come out and admitted that the usual accounts of brutality by early white settlers against Australia's native blacks are basically fraudulent but says that Australians need to build their image of themselves on such a lie! How Leftist! Leftists themselves cannot handle reality and think that everyone else is the same. I personally have no difficulty handing my convict ancestry and know of no living Australian who does. And if I can handle convict ancestry, I think other Australians might just be able to handle comfortably the thought that their ancestors were conquerors.

Orson Scott Card has a brilliant account of how Leftist bias works in the mainsteam American media. His conclusion: "What makes the liberal bias in the mainstream media so pernicious is that they deny that they're biased and insist that their twisted version of events is "reality," and anyone who disagrees with them is either mentally or morally suspect. In other words, they're fanatics. And, like all good fanatics, they're utterly convinced that they're in sole possession of virtue and truth."

There is an interesting catalogue here showing that many of America's patriotic songs and poems were in the past written by "progressive" authors. It shows how sadly the American Left has degenerated in recent years. They hate America and all it stands for these days. The shift rightwards in American politics initiated by Reagan and sealed by the downfall of the Leftists' beloved Soviet Union has totally embittered them. Where once they had some shadow of an alternative to capitalism to put forward, now all they have left is the hatred that drove such stupid ideas.

Why the poor are richer than they seem: "The most glaring inaccuracy is that benefits from in-kind welfare programs go uncounted, so they aren't included in evaluating the poor's income. Since many such programs reduce benefits as incomes rise (e.g., the 30 cent reduction in food-stamp benefits for each $1 of net income), they undermine recipients' incentives to work. Many therefore earn less, so those transfers actually make recipients appear poorer. This is a large and growing error. Of the roughly $400 billion given annually in total government means-tested assistance, the proportion given in-kind has dramatically increased, now comprising about three-quarters of the total... Measures of consumption by various groups are far better indicators of relative well-being than the statistics invoked by Kerry and Edwards. They show dramatically smaller inequalities. Political support for a plethora of redistribution policies has long been maintained by skillful abuse of the data concerning inequality in America."

Read this: "How does the young elite see the future? In a book published yesterday, Imagining Australia, four Australian graduates of Harvard University outline ways to reignite a passion for reform." And guess what the suggested reforms are: More tired old government interventionism? You'd be wrong. The reforms suggested are all free-trade and free-enterprise oriented. Worth a read. See here. Good to see young people standing up for individual liberty despite all the Leftist indoctrination they get from the educational system -- even from such a Leftist hotbed as Harvard!

Amusing: "In the 1960s, nearly half of the US population smoked cigarettes. That number is down to about 22%, a group that Yale University researcher Tony George calls "hard-core" smokers. Among the mentally ill, however, the proportion of smokers is much higher: up to 90% of schizophrenics, 70% of those with bipolar disorder and more than 50% of depressed individuals smoke. Some studies estimate that a third of those who smoke have at one time battled a mental illness. "Smoking is a marker for psychopathology"" The article concerned is an interesting one. It suggests that smoking may be a successful self-medication for various brain disorders. The article is however very pesky to get into so, for convenience, I have reposted it here.

LOL: Philosophers are famous for never completely agreeing with one-another and I disagree with this post by Keith Burgess-Jackson: "I think some people who read my blog (AnalPhilosopher) like my conservatism. These people tend to be meat-eaters, and many of them don't like being reminded that meat-eating is wrong." I think Keith got a bit carried away there. Meat eating is certainly wrong according to the way he defines wrongness but there are many conceptions of wrongness. Mine is here and Protestant Christians of course find their source of right and wrong in the Bible -- and meat eating is accepted in the Bible, not forbidden. So for Christians, meat-eating is NOT wrong. For the record, I personally have bacon and egg breakfasts quite often and eat enough sausages to make me a good German. But my favourite sausage is Merguez -- of North African origin. If you have never had good Merguez, you haven't lived!

"Vanity of vanities. All is vanity" (Ecclesiastes 1:2). In my well-spent youth, I was on one occasion interviewed by a women's magazine about my lifestyle. Although I find it a bit embarrassing now, I have decided to put the interview on the net. See here. Note that the report is not totally accurate. I was NOT, for instance, divorced at the time. It is broadly representative of how I felt 30 years ago, however, so I am putting it on the net for the record's sake

For more postings, see GREENIE WATCH and POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH. Mirror sites here and here


Leftism is more popular with young people than with older people largely because Leftism is itself juvenile: They criticize what they don't understand. Which makes it ironic that "We know best" and "It's for your own good" are the basic Leftist messages. Leftists have never got past the simplistic thinking or the arrogance that are the characteristic limitations of youth

"Created" equal in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence is a religious way of saying that people are NOT equal but start out with the same rights.

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