Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nullification and Media Slander

 Tom Woods' new book Nullification was recently released.  He has a delightfully funny and thoughtful interview with a Zombie, who, as you'll see, has prepared for the interview, by replacing his brain with a broken record player.  Check it out.



--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.

The Power of Classification

This should come as no surprise to Christians, who will recall that God gave Adam the power to name the animals. Yet we neglect the significance of that event in other aspects of life.


“When observers use classification or definition rather than judgment to place people in categories, they exercise power over those people. Thomas Szasz, a maverick psychiatrist, has described this process in the determination of psychiatric disorders. Szasz shows how classifying people changes them into the image that accords with the classifier’s assumptions or his desires. In that way, “classification is like a lever: it gives one a purchase on whatever it is one wants to move.” To classify people psychiatrically, Szasz believes, is to establish control over them. To classify people by their culture, as the humanitarians do, is by extension to establish control over whole populations. To the extent humanitarian policies become national policy, a whole society falls under the power of the classifiers. As Szasz says, the process of classification serves the classifier. Since classification is a process of will more than of reason, the arbitrary nature of sentimentality is perfectly suited to the exercise of this kind of power. It creates in people their ontological nature in the way one wishes, just as God created man, and at the same time sets the stage for exercising domination over them. Or, as Szasz says, to get the lever on them and move them.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 75).


--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bureaucracy and State Power

“State power can be applied only because there exist administrative organs that translate the wishes of political authorities into action. It is commonly supposed that political and bureaucratic functions are sharply divided and that the latter are able to act only insofar as they are given commands by the former, being themselves impotent to decide on policy. Only some such conception can legitimate the enormous powers that the bureaucracies exercise...

But the faceless bureaucrat silently obeying orders, completely dependent upon the hierarchical configuration of administrative and political authorities, is a textbook pattern that does not describe what actually happens in bureaucratic organizations... 

The power of the bureaucracy is the reasons presidents have complained so vociferously that they cannot get their orders executed. Political scientist Richard Neustadt described the presidency as a “clerkship” that gives the incumbent the right to persuade his subordinates to do his bidding. A strong president is one who can get the government to follow his orders. The bureaucracy is unamanageable. Galbraith says that when he was the federal government’s chief price controller during World War II he had no control over what happened. Decisions were made by technocrats on committees—layers, accountants, economists, specialists of all kinds—and he was “nearly helpless” to do anything but ratify them. After two years of the same kind of experience, President Carter’s attorney general, Griffin Bell, said in a speech that bureaucracy is “more than a painful nuisance. It is a prescription for societal suicide.” The independence of the bureaucracy from political authority means that bureaucrats do not merely enforce the law or administer it: they make the law. They are the law, and the old ideal of having a government of laws rather than of men can no longer be realized. The new class has found a vehicle for giving its values the force of law without bothering to take over the political authority of the state. That is one reason nothing seems to change much in social democracies when voters throw one party out of office in favor of another.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 204-205).


--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Poverty of the Third World

“Schoeck exposes the disadvantages many cultures impose on those who would otherwise be innovative and productive. The ubiquitous fear of envy destroys economic incentive, for anyone who receives what his neighbors do not have makes himself vulnerable. This is not an environment that fosters innovation. Agricultural improvements come at a glacial pace, confined to the limits set by the fear of envy. Such are the reasons that lead to Bauer’s conclusion that economic development “requires modernization of the mind.” It requires, that is, changes that are cultural and therefore religious in nature, not those that are primarily technical.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 71).

--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.

Personal Ethics and Wealth

“We do not lack examples of the impact that such personal traits have on the social world. Daniel Moynihan points out that a sexual ethic that places a low premium on chastity, and therefore has a high rate of births outside of marriage, is “predisposed to dependency.” Edward Banfield, a social scientist at Harvard University, finds that poverty is related to time orientation. The lower classes tend to be present-oriented, less willing to forego present benefits in order to secure future ones. Thus, they choose a way of living that finds little value in work, self-improvement, or self-sacrifice. Banfield believes this is the most realistic explanation of class, but, whether or not that is so, it is a reasonable explanation of why some people are poor. Harrington concludes that only the federal government was capable of bringing an end to slums, and that it should undertake a massive new housing program. But a few pages earlier he had shown that moving slum people into new housing creates new slums instantly. That is a graphic example of how culture is more than, and more powerful than, material circumstances.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 63-64).

--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Humanitarian Definition of Poverty

“The humanitarian definition of poverty shows it to be relative. This means that nobody can be content with what he has because someone else has more. We should all be consumed with envy, it says, and seek ways to have other people’s possessions. What kind of definition of the good life must lie behind the conception that one is oppressed if he only has meat twice a week, if his plumbing does not come up to the modern code, or if he does not have a color television set or a car? He may be oppressed with or without those things, but the fact that he is without them gives no information about the presence or absence of justice or guilt. Being poor is the greatest evil, in humanitarian thinking, because having material possessions is the greatest good. It is fitting that the war on poverty should come at the same time as the apogee of materialism. Modern materialism is not only an ethical philosophy that says that human relations are determined by material factors. Social pathology, in this thinking, requires a material cause, and that sets the stage for finding culprits on whom to inflict guilt. The readiness of humanitarian politics to exploit that philosophy leads the British historian C. Northcote Parkinson to conclude that all modern politicians are Marxist in orientation, inasmuch as they believe that all problems are primarily economic.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 61).
--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.

Humanitarianism Is Not New

“Humanitarian behavior is not a characteristic peculiar to modernity. Examples abound of primitive societies in which to express admiration for the property of another is to be given it. Nothing is withheld. Such behavior is often believed to be generous and loving, but its real motivation is fear. People correctly consider the power of envy so great that it is worthwhile to lose almost anything rather than invoke its malevolence against themselves. There is no reason to engage in productive economic activity, because that increases wealth and thereby elicits envy. Thus the society remains primitive. The kind of “generosity” that gives under those circumstances can be called humanitarian but not for the reasons usually assumed.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 58).

--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Economic Equality

“It has often been said that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer and that, as the disparity increases, the poor will rise against the rich in a revolution. The old socialist idea was that the great dissatisfaction of the poor masses could only be assuaged by a socialist redistribution of wealth. The dissatisfactions, however, have grown with the increase of equality, exactly the opposite of those expectations. This is what Alexis de Tocqueville predicted when he visited the United States 150 years ago, and more recently observers have been calling this odd social phenomenon the Tocqueville effect. As society erases social distinctions and moves toward a leveling of income differentials, the demand for equality is not satisfied, but intensified. People do not envy a Rockefeller his millions as much as they envy their neighbor a ten percent differential in income. All inequalities, monetary or otherwise, are more galling to the envious when they are nearby, when the advantage is held by those whom one knows and when it is seen daily. The leveling movement has nothing to do with justice, because its impulse is not to raise those who are down but to topple those who are up; ressentiment is the motive.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 55).

--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.

History's Temptation

“The conviction that God is active in history makes historicism especially attractive to the church, tempting it to argue that the resurrection guarantees continual victory over the world, that the Christian consequently can enter into the world’s works without worrying about the finer points of scruples, that the lordship of Christ over history guarantees that, when one system replaces another, God’s will is being accomplished. The chief consequence of such mistakes is that Christians justify evil political, economic, and social forces.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 31).
--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Heathen History

The modern historical profession is Hegelian in the sense that it assumes that the explanation of history lies within itself. Just as the antithesis lies within the thesis and the synthesis within the relationship between the two, so the meaning of history is thought to be comprehended exhaustively in itself. What the historian is unable to explain must be a matter of defective or incomplete sources or of his own limitations in drawing inferences from them. His failure to acknowledge that the explanation of history may lie outside of history is analogous to the naturalism of the physical and biological sciences, which also sees “the whole show” in the artifacts of creation.” (Herbert Schlossberg,Idols for Destruction, p. 23-24).

--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.

The Historian's Philosphical Commitments

“The very use of the idea of cause conceals philosophical commitments that the profession seldom addresses. If we wish to consider the Babylonian captivity of the kingdom of Judah in 587 B.C. , we shall find sufficient documentation and archaeological evidence to speak of the political, economic, social, and military causes of the debacle. But Hebrew prophets said that it took place because God’s judgment had fallen on the Judeans for their idolatry and wickedness. From that perspective, the “causes” that the historian’s explanation advances are not causes at all, but effects, and are thought to be causes only because of the meta-historical commitments that the historian brings to his evidence. For him history is “the whole show,” and therefore nothing lies beyond it to enter the historical stage and cause events to happen.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 22).

--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Superiority of the West (at least formerly so)

"Cultures are equal in value only if there is no standard against which to judge them. The culture of the West, infused as it is with Christian values, is superior to any other, and all the valid charges against the West are indications that it has betrayed its own heritage. It is not superior because it is wealthy; it is wealthy because it is superior, because it believes that work is a calling, that matter is important, that reason is a gift of God. This culture, God’s gift, transmits its material blessings along with its interpretation of reality. Animist cultures, to cite one example by way of contrast, are not likely to produce large numbers of skilled engineers as long as they believe that physical objects have spirits. Therefore, the West cannot export prosperity without also exporting the culture that makes it possible. But to spread the culture of the West now means also to spread the destructive accretions that in recent years have altered it so, and that apparently is what the Muslim world has begun to resist so fiercely. To their credit, some Islamic leaders recognize they may have to choose between prosperity and keeping their own culture. In that, they are far ahead of the U.S. government, burdened as it is with the delusions of humanitarian sentimentality.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 72).

--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.

Turning the Clock Back

“…in refusing to believe that an identified historical trend may be challenged, the historicists have divinized history. In any given case, they have absolutized this trend and thereby put history’s seal of approval on this status quo, one, no doubt that is moving their way. The paradox of a moving status quo is explained by the function of historical movement in historicist thinking; it plays precisely the same role as the lack of movement to a traditionalist, acting as a standard or value with which one must not tamper.

As a matter of simple historical observation, it would be hard to find a common saying as implausible as “We can’t turn back the clock.” The reason intelligent observers of the past found the cycle theory of history persuasive is precisely because it seemed as if the clock had been turned back. For, if turning back the clock describes the ending of a perceived historical trend and a reversion to the historical configuration that it replaced, we could list examples of this phenomenon endlessly; alternations between democracy and authoritarianism, high and low hemlines, moral permissiveness and prudery, war and peace, and so on. At each turn of the times we might be able to find historicists (witting or otherwise) saying plaintively that we can’t turn the clock back. As a polemical device this idea pictures historical trends as juggernauts that cannot be stopped even if one were so foolish as to wish them to stop. These juggernauts, in fact, always do seem to be stopped eventually; and after they are, it is not a convincing explanation of what happened to say that the clock was turned back.

The problem with the clock that cannot be turned back is that it is the wrong metaphor. Only a metaphor having to do with space rather than time will help us out of this blind alley. That seems like another paradox since the whole discussion is one of historical and not geographical interpretation. The resolution of the paradox lies in the fact that people support or oppose historical trends on the basis of the ends to which they are directed. “This will lead us to the welfare state.” “That will lead us to a society based on competition.” The analogue of those ends is destination, and so we need to speak of taking a path to a place we wish to reach. We take a wrong turn and find ourselves in what appears to be an endless bog. We decide to turn around and retrace our steps to discover the correct route to the destination. However, someone in our party has read his Hegel and tells us that we want to turn back the clock back. The reply to that is that to go straight ahead will take us deeper into the bog without knowing how many miles it stretches or what lies beyond, that the destination is elsewhere, and that the only way we shall find it is to discover where we made our mistake. Thus, the turning back has to do with space and not time.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 15-17).

Nostalgia is Overrated

The Las Vegas Sun has done us all a service by creating a gallery of 12 advertisements from a bygone era.  It is truly appalling what passed for advertising.  Our current advertising is also appalling, but I suppose there is some comfort in knowing it is not a new phenomenon.  Check them out.


--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.

Historicist Determinism

I am in the proces of re-reading Herbert Schlossberg's Idols For Destruction.  It has been nearly a year since I first read it, and readers that have been with me since then know that I regard the book highly and have already blogged about it considerably. 

This post marks a new series in quotations from the book that I did not quote in my first series on the book.  I hope you find these quotes beneficial in continuing to formulate a Christian worldview.

--------------------------------------------------------

“Historicism, in taking freedom out of the historical experience, parallels similar tendencies in the social sciences that make it impossible to retain the Christian conviction that people are responsible and accountable for what they do. If there is no freedom to do this or that, how can it be said that responsibility inheres in the person who does something or refrains from doing it? Here is a philosophy made to order for a generation of intellectuals infatuated with Niebuhr’s teaching that doing evil is inevitable, that one’s choices can do no more than mitigate its severity.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 15).

--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Risk and "The Black Swan"

 The New Yorker has a good interview with author Nassim Taleb on risk.  It is worth listening to in its entirety.



--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Godless Philosophy

"Ethicist" Peter Singer has written a remarkable editorial for the New York Times entitled, "Should This Be the Last Generation?"  Singer questions, "How good does life have to be, to make it reasonable to bring a child into the world? Is the standard of life experienced by most people in developed nations today good enough to make this decision unproblematic, in the absence of specific knowledge that the child will have a severe genetic disease or other problem?"

Toward the end he questions:

"Is a world with people in it better than one without? Put aside what we do to other species — that’s a different issue. Let’s assume that the choice is between a world like ours and one with no sentient beings in it at all. And assume, too — here we have to get fictitious, as philosophers often do — that if we choose to bring about the world with no sentient beings at all, everyone will agree to do that. No one’s rights will be violated — at least, not the rights of any existing people. Can non-existent people have a right to come into existence?"

He then, rather arbitrarily, chooses life:

"In my judgment, for most people, life is worth living. Even if that is not yet the case, I am enough of an optimist to believe that, should humans survive for another century or two, we will learn from our past mistakes and bring about a world in which there is far less suffering than there is now. But justifying that choice forces us to reconsider the deep issues with which I began. Is life worth living? Are the interests of a future child a reason for bringing that child into existence? And is the continuance of our species justifiable in the face of our knowledge that it will certainly bring suffering to innocent future human beings?" 

Those that do not reckon the evil of the godless philosophy of our age as the great wickedness that it is, must re-evaluate the ideology they naively dismiss.  Philosophers such as Singer have no room for God in their worldview, and as a result have little reason to include mankind  in their eschatology.  Man is left to the whim of a philosopher's reasoning.  G.K. Chesterton is right, in Orthodoxy, to judge philosophies based on their merits.  Christianity breeds life, all else breeds death.  Is this not sufficient grounds to judge the merits of an ideology?

--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Keeping Your Commitments

This year I have led my small group through a Psalm each week.  This past Wednesday we read Psalm 15.  I have leaned upon John Calvin's Commentary on the Psalms and found this passage especially helpful:

Calvin writes concerning verse 4:
"...the faithful will rather submit to suffer loss than break their word. When a man keeps his promises, in as far as he sees it to be for his own advantage, there is in this no argument to prove his uprightness and faithfulness. But when men make a promise to each other, there is nothing more common than from some slight loss which the performance of it would occasion, to endeavor to find a pretext for breaking their engagements. Every one considers with himself what is for his own advantage, and if it puts him to inconvenience or trouble to stand to
his promises, he is ingenious enough to imagine that he will incur a far greater loss than there is any reason to apprehend. It seems, indeed, a fair excuse when a man complains that, if he does not depart from his engagement, he will suffer great loss. Hence it is, that we generally see so much unfaithfulness among men, that they do not consider themselves bound to perform the promises which they have made, except in so far as it will promote their own personal interest. David, therefore, condemning this inconstancy, requires the children of God to exhibit the greatest steadfastness in the fulfillment of their promises."

In light of the fact that 25% of American homes are "underwater," this passage from Calvin ought to strike deeply in the conscience of Christians.

--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Doug Wilson on Romans 13

This is a very thoughtful and provocative sermon on Romans 13.  I highly commend it to you.  Listen here, or watch below:


Sermon: Governmental Tax Cheats - Doug Wilson from Canon Wired on Vimeo.



--------------------------------------------------------
Buy and store gold abroad at BullionVault.
Get free shipping on your gold and silver purchase at Lear Capital.
Buy and Store Gold at Goldmoney.