Wednesday, June 28, 2017

By Whose Standards?



I just can't seem to fit into society
I hold no hope for this dim simplicity
Of law and order
By whose rules?

I see no rhyme and no reason
I hold no hope for this holy treason
Of love and so soft
By whose standards?
By my standards


The song has a time metric of 11/8, hence the title of the song. 

An interesting comment to my post, The Law (No, Not THAT One), offered by Voluntaryist June 27, 2017 at 10:23 AM.  Let’s jump right in:

Are "old & good" two ideals by which to judge?

We must judge by some “ideal.”  As “old” suggests predictability in the law (a tremendously good characteristic, if you ask me), I guess it depends on your definition of “good.”   Do you offer a better “ideal”?

Is "because we've always done it that way" a valid argument?

Did I make that argument?  It really depends on your definition of “good.”

How is "good" defined?

That’s the question, isn’t it.  As long as two or more humans are destined to interact, someone (or something) must define it.  It’s kind of tough to agree to disagree on something like this.

Isn't it done by consensus?

Not in the Germanic Middle Ages; every individual noble could veto the king.  But, of course, he only had legitimacy in this if he could lean on old and good law and if his peers generally agreed…so…yes.  Kind of circular, I know; things get messy when dealing with humans in the real world.

Do the majority ever hold a "bad" as a "good" and evolve ethically? I think so.

Yes, it has happened.  At least according to my ideal, my standard.  Maybe not to theirs.

If we accept a current "good" as valid, in spite of its irrationality, are we independent thinkers?

Who is to judge the rationality of “good”?  Who is to say that one’s independent thinking is more independent than another’s?  What standard?  What ideal?

If not, is that immoral?

Based on what standard?  What ideal?

Is it moral to renounce conscience in favor of custom or consensus?

Maybe no renouncing is involved.  Who says an individual’s conscience is “moral”?  Based on what standard?

Is that what the optimal human does?

“The optimal human”?  Is this a lab experiment? 

Really, it depends on a chosen standard.  Who is to say who (or what) is “the optimal human”?  Is it appropriate to describe as “the optimal human” one who acts in an immoral (based on what standard?) manner as long as he is following his conscience?

Or is it slavish obedience to authority?

Not if it is reasonably consistent with one’s standard.  When interacting with humans, “reasonably consistent” is pretty good.

And common practice, but inhuman all the same?

I wouldn’t describe following common practice as “inhuman.”  In fact, it is very human; most people do it, sway with the wind.  The key questions (and I know I sound like a broken record):  

What is the standard?  Who decides?

Conclusion

Two thoughts come to mind: first, when dealing with humans, perfect is not an option; second, you can’t replace something with nothing.

Dreamers of all types have failed to understand these; schemers of all types know all too well that there is an infinite supply of dreamers.  The world is littered with the dead bodies of the beneficiaries of the schemers’ schemes – to include many of the aforementioned dreamers.

Which leads to a third thought: every dreamer’s dream starts out with a promise for a more peaceful and just world.  None have ended this way.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

You Cannot Be Serious!



Yes, they can be serious.

During his tennis career, McEnroe became known for outbursts on the court when he thought umpires had missed a call. In one classic exchange, he yelled at an official, "You cannot be serious! That ball was on the line!"


Garcia-Navarro: We're talking about male players but there is of course wonderful female players. Let's talk about Serena Williams. You say she is the best female player in the world in the book.

McEnroe: Best female player ever — no question.

Garcia-Navarro: Some wouldn't qualify it, some would say she's the best player in the world. Why qualify it?

McEnroe: Oh! Uh, she's not, you mean, the best player in the world, period?

Garcia-Navarro: Yeah, the best tennis player in the world. You know, why say female player?

McEnroe: Well because if she was in, if she played the men's circuit she'd be like 700 in the world.

Garcia-Navarro: You think so?

McEnroe: Yeah. That doesn't mean I don't think Serena is an incredible player. I do…

Do you see the problem?  Of course, you do not if you put on your rational thinking cap.  But put on your “everything is about race and gender and white privilege; context is irrelevant” cap, and the problem will jump out at you in spades.

Let’s revisit:

McEnroe: Oh! Uh, she's not, you mean, the best player in the world, period?

Garcia-Navarro: Yeah, the best tennis player in the world. You know, why say female player?

Garcia-Navarro clarified: “…the best tennis player in the world.”  Period!

Serena Williams responded via two tweets:

Dear John, I adore and respect you but please please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based.

I guess one could make an argument about “700”; is this the issue?  Because I cannot imagine anyone who knows anything about tennis would say that Serena Williams is the best player in the world.  Better that Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, or Roger Federer?

No one would say this, not even Serena Williams.

I've never played anyone ranked 'there' nor do I have time. Respect me and my privacy as I'm trying to have a baby. Good day sir.

It wasn’t McEnroe that invaded Serena’s privacy; it was Garcia-Navarro.

You can imagine the backlash in the media – mainstream news media and mainstream sports media.  For example, today McEnroe was given a chance to apologize – very nice of CBS news to offer this opportunity.

"CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell asked McEnroe whether he'd like to apologize. McEnroe replied, "No."

McEnroe turns the table and asks Charlie Rose, and I will paraphrase: Charlie, you play a lot of tennis, I see you on the courts.  Where do you think Serena would rank on the men’s circuit?  Rose ran away from the question like Ebola.

More from McEnroe: we are talking about something that I can’t believe we are even talking about.

Well, maybe in a rational world, John.  But this is CBS (and I am sure it will be the case wherever you go).  Believe it.  They insisted to keep talking about it.

The first portion of the interview ended: “No apology to Serena, really?”  “I’d be happy to apologize to Serena if that makes you feel better.”

Because, after all, that is really what matters.

Conclusion

McEnroe should run for president.  He would win in a landslide.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Who Leads When There Are No Rules?



So asks Jordan Peterson.  In response, he offers food for thought:

The probability that it’s the friendliest and nicest people is very, very low.

I suggest that what he is saying is that the probability that it’s the meanest and nastiest people is very, very high.

Hans Hoppe weighs in on this topic: Why Bad Men Rule:

Free entry and competition in the production of goods is good, but free competition in the production of bads is not. Free entry into the business of torturing and killing innocents, or free competition in counterfeiting or swindling, for instance, is not good; it is worse than bad.

To this we could add Hayek’s well-known chapter from his book Road to Serfdom, Why the Worst Get on Top.

Libertarian political philosophy offers, perhaps, the fewest rules of any political philosophy devised by man.  Really, it offers only one rule: do not initiate aggression.  I guess the only way to have fewer rules is to offer no rule at all regarding aggression – but then you would have no political philosophy.  We need not concern ourselves with this absurdity.

In other words, libertarian political philosophy comes closest to the condition described by Peterson: there are no rules.  Therefore, his question is very appropriate for those grounded in libertarian theory to address: in such a condition, who leads?  Who makes the rules?

Many libertarians would answer: no one.  Each individual is an autonomous economic actor, to be bound only by voluntary contractual agreements.  This sound good in theory.

I have often posed the question: when has [insert any utopian political scheme] worked out well in practice?  Limited government, communism, fascism, democratic socialism, etc.  Show me when some men ruling over other men under any of these schemes has worked out well for those not in the ruling class.  A fair question.

I suggest another fair question: has there ever been a meaningful (I will even accept “minor”) example of a society ruled by no one?  While I acknowledge that I am no scholar in such matters, in all of my reading the most decentralized societies I have found still have rulers: patriarchs in tribes, nobles in the European Middle Ages, etc.

My point?  As I have written too often, when we consider the application of libertarian theory in this world, we should consider that human beings live in it.  Never in recorded human history, to my understanding, has there been a meaningful, sustained period of “no ruler.” 

“Yes, bionic, but pure libertarianism has never been tried.”  Of course.  Apologists for communism would say the same thing.  Maybe that’s the point.  It hasn’t been “tried” because human nature disallows it from being tried.  Given human nature, why would we expect such a utopian outcome?

I return to the basis of libertarian theory: the non-aggression principle.  Even in this least-rule-bound political theory, there are many open questions subject to interpretation.  I will offer two:

Define “aggression”; define “property.”

I can say with 100% certainty there will never be universally accepted definitions of either of these terms – even the most dedicated libertarian thinkers cannot agree on the meaning of these terms regarding many topics: abortion, immigration, intellectual property, punishment, restitution, threats, fraud, etc.  How would we expect mankind as a whole (heck, even you and your immediate neighbors) to have total agreement on these?

So…who will decide?  Who will make the rules?  Who will provide the definitions?

I have offered my answer: culture; custom; the old and good law.  Something no one individual can overcome; something no one individual can overrule or erase.

Do you have a better answer?  Because, if you don’t, go back and read Hoppe and Hayek.  That’s your answer.  You choose to be ruled by men, and you choose to be ruled by the worst of these.

Conclusion

Absent a well-defined and widely accepted culture there is no hope of moving toward a libertarian world.  Such a culture is not a sufficient condition (as not all cultures are conducive to libertarianism), but it is certainly a necessary condition.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

From Immigrants and Refugees to Terrorists



For the first few years of World War Two, most Jews in Palestine played nice with the British.  If Britain was victorious in the larger conflict, the Zionists would have some chance to continue their immigration in Palestine and achieve their hoped-for state.  If Germany was victorious, there was no chance of this.

This approach did not survive the war.

One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate, by Tom Segev

Immigrants and Refugees

Jews were dying in Europe.  The British held little concern for this; the Jews in Palestine felt the same:

“I was not well-versed on matters of saving of the Jews of Europe, even though I was chairman of the Jewish Agency,” Ben-Gurion wrote a few years later.  “The heart of my activity was enlisting Jewry in the demand to establish a Jewish state.”

The Arabs, in the meantime, saw the risk:

“We all sympathize with the Jews and are shocked at the way Christian nations are persecuting them.  But do you expect Moslems of Palestine…to become more Christian or more humanitarian than the followers of Christ: Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, etc. etc.?  Have we to suffer in order to make good what you Christians commit?”

Ben-Gurion was troubled by the possibility that Jewish survivors in Europe might not want to come to Palestine, but would choose to settle elsewhere.

“I think we should not treat this danger lightly.  It is the greatest danger not only to Zionism but to the Yishuv.”

But the Jews from Europe came – before the war, during the war, and after the war; the number of Jews in Palestine increased eight-fold during the Mandatory period, to one-third of the total population; Muslims and Christians doubled.

Terrorists

“The revolt sprang from the land and from the blood,” wrote Menachem Begin, Etzel leader.  Despite its name, though, Etzel’s action was not a revolt, but rather a decision to resume terrorist activities, largely against the British.

Menachem Begin was one of those immigrants turned terrorist, arriving in Palestine in May 1942.

Etzel (Irgun) announced the beginning of terrorism on February 1, 1944.  The more radical among the Zionists decided it was time to run the British out.

Etzel’s funds came from robbing banks or extorting money from local businessmen; the organization received contributions as well, mostly from America.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Why They Are After Trump…Revisited



For several months, I have felt that the Trump=Russia witch hunt was a diversion. Sure, they want Trump out, but not for the stated reason – not for Russia.  They want Trump out because what he represents is a voice for people who are tired of seeing every libertine, immoral, property-rights and wealth destroying progressive platform agenda shoved down their throats.  Trump ran against almost every plank of this life-destroying force.

I wrote on this topic in March; from the conclusion:

Russia is a diversion; it is useful as a means to an end.  It isn’t the end.  The end is the salvation of the many pillars of the progressive agenda; the end is the final destruction of western, classical liberal, civilization.

Don’t expect me to explain it as well as Judge Napolitano can and has; I have listened to and read several commentators on the topic of the special prosecutor, Comey’s testimony, etc.  I can only offer a semi-ignorant layman’s summary.

A special prosecutor was appointed with no crime to prosecute; with no crime to prosecute, you have a dozen of the most aggressive, capable attorneys looking for something…anything.  Show me the man and I will show you the crime. 

The narrative is shifting, from collusion to obstruction.  Without a crime for the special prosecutor to prosecute, why not? 

They ignore the overwhelming evidence of the Clinton crimes, former Attorney General Lynch and her visit with Bill, even the leaking admitted to by Comey.

But the special prosecutor is looking for a Trump crime.  And the collusion with Russia – after one year – is a narrative with no story.

They want Trump out because they want their progressive, cultural destroying agenda to crush us all.