Despite objections from the Liberal parties and requests not to go ahead with the exclusive meeting of the eighteen "Friends of the EU Constitution", called for by Luxemburg and Spain - the latter currently led by the political and cultural equivalent of Attila The Hun - in an opening speech in Madrid, Spain's Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos argued that any revised Constitution should be extended to include more European objectives (?), rather than pared down to just institutional reforms.
Delegates from the eighteen countries that have ratified the EU constitution, plus its strong supporters - Ireland and Portugal - gathered in Madrid to outline their positions on the future of the European treaty and to "help the German presidency to collect the positions, to help finding a way out" of the current limbo. In line with the motto of the meeting and the key idea to be highlighted in the forthcoming statement - "Por una Europa Mejor", for a better Europe - Mr Moratinos reiterated that the current treaty is an "excellent document".
Apart from the usual underhanded way of conducting EU business, the "excellent document" is a re-hash of the existing treaties and charters, plus lots of wool produced by a committee of political has-beens, minus the good proposals and ideas. How the EU deals with its own values is exemplified by the extra-curricular "meeting of the friends" and how they run roughshod over the French and Dutch vetoes. In an EU Observer article the word vetoes is indicated between inverted commas, as if these were not real, but only a sort of constructed coincidence, having no real value in the legal sense. But the contrary is the case and these attempts at invalidating it are an indication of the legal relativism that is current in Brussels politics. I'm still wondering what part of "Non" and "Nee" they did not quite understand.
The vetoes are what the Constitution would make impossible, if adopted: for any one country to obstruct the deals the others make, and an end to (mostly Thatcherite) opt-outs. It is also at this point that the negative side of the EU would start to outweigh the positive: it would no longer be a benign, voluntary "occupation" by foreign powers offset by economic benefits, but a dictatorship by the majority, violating members' principle right to self-determination and sovereignty: it will prove to be self-defeating and its adoption will mark the end of the European Union and its efforts for peace in the absence of power politics on the continent.
The proposed Constitution is also an effort of creating a future in which moral truth has no role in governance. Like the VVD Dutch Liberal Party, it doesn't pass moral judgement, equating Christianity with cannibalism and Colin Powell with Robert Mugabe. It will impose a anti-theist French style laïcité  on public life, thereby violating its own declared moral commitment to tolerance.
The single thing that the patch-work of member countries have in common - a culture based on the Judeo-Christian civilizational enterprise built on the ruins of classical Greco-Roman values, is being denied to the point of stretching science to prove a rather immature purpose. The question can be asked: are a people who deny their own history worthy of a future? This isn't a time for wisdom and visions, but for polarization and transition. That is why the desert call to shelve the constitutional project for the moment, is wasted on "the friends". European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso's EU 50th anniversary birthday list calls for all but roots, although he does invoke the Catholic founding fathers, who we may wonder cover their heads in disappointment over such cultural barbarism.
Thanks to the relativist Christophobia of the anti-theist state  and in consideration of a comment yesterday on Dr Sanity's blog: "By all means, accept reality ... your grandchildren will be Muslim. Allahu akbar!" (yes, the gloves are off), the future is likely to be characterised by "God in the Gutter and Allah at the Altar". But we shouldn't despair: salvation may yet come in the guise of two former communist countries and new P.C. irritants, the Czech Republic and Poland. Perhaps after the last Western baby-boomer has packed it in, the New Europe may yet be able to snatch some of the bankrupt assets away from the Gates of Vienna.
I specifically would like to hear the views of new Europeans. They are heartily invited to post their comments.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Despite objections from the Liberal parties and requests not to go ahead with the exclusive meeting of the eighteen "Friends of the EU Constitution", called for by Luxemburg and Spain - the latter currently led by the political and cultural equivalent of Attila The Hun - in an opening speech in Madrid, Spain's Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos argued that any revised Constitution should be extended to include more European objectives (?), rather than pared down to just institutional reforms.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
The American Jewish Committee in a new press release is urging the Bangladesh caretaker government of Fakhruddin Ahmed to take a strong stand for justice and drop the unwarranted charges against Salah Choudhury, publisher and editor of The Weekly Blitz and winner of the Moral Courage Award 2006, whose trial for sedition has resumed on 22nd January.
In these pages I have done a number of urgent appeals to the readership to sign the petition, the last one around 1st January. The number of indignant blogs, comments and posts daily published about the woes of Islam and the injustices of sharia law, plus the calls for universal human rights and freedom of speech and conscience can hardly be counted. It is therefore more than a little sad that the petition for this brave journalist, who is on trial for his life for sedition, viz. for his beliefs in inter-faith dialogue, fails to get more attention.
The current ticker of the petition stands at 3,354, which is better than it was around Christmas, but is still not on such levels that it reasonably can be hoped to assert any sway over the radicals within the judiciary in Bangladesh.
Therefore another appeal TO SIGN THE PETITION FOR THE LIFE OF SALAH CHOUDHURY TODAY - right this minute!
Here is the link to the petition. If you don't get to the right page directly, please copy and paste "Choudhury" into the Google search box and click the first petition listed. If you own a blog or a website, please consider inserting a link of your own to actively support the campaign.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Since Pope Benedict's visit to Turkey in November I have been staunchly resisting any temptation to write about Islam or - to be more precise - Islamo-Nazism, meaning unabbreviated Islam-inspired National Socialism (it is very apt, if you think about it - more later). First of all, how many times can you write khafir while still being remotely funny, original or informative? I'll leave that to the specialists, my intrepid co-bloggers at Gates of Vienna and The Gathering Storm, collectors of these up-beat news items.
Secondly, I think the subject is over-exposed: my mother used to tell my over-indulgent father "leave the child, the more attention you give her, the more she'll come asking for it".
I also think our salvation lies more in educating our own misguided relativist, multicultural idealists that have produced the capitulating mind-set of Down With Us, rather than with the guys who glorify death, blood and violence in the service of Islamic hegemony.
But now things are piling up a bit. And some of it is even interesting. Let's start with the good news, with the caveat for those with a bit of an off day, that from there on things will go down faster than you can say Fall of Constantinople.
NewsMax' January issue (keep reading! remember PMF #11. Good things, bad people say) carries an article which I was hoping I could legibly scan, but technology let me down once again. Obviously I cannot reproduce the whole item here, but this is the gist: Muqtader Khan, author and assistant professor Political Science at the University of Delaware responds to Bin Laden's call for "martyrdom operations" with a letter carrying the subject title "Go to Hell". A similar memo can be found on the site of Islam For Today. The moderate Muslim community in America is taking the action Europeans have long asked and vainly waited for, which is another thing to think about for the boys in Brussels!
National Catholic Reporter's John Allen on 18th January wrote an article on an inter-faith meeting, held recently at the U.N. The Iranian scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr was his own usual optimistic self, declaring "We are standing on the edge of a precipice", and "We may well fall into the jaws of Hell". But then - I've noticed this more than once - the Shiites are the Calvinists of the Islamic world, a conclusion that sadly doesn't help us one iota.
But we're drifting off-topic ... what we are up against with the Islamo-Nazist mentality is exemplified by a post on the site of the Dutch leading Elsevier Magazine, to the effect that Folia, a University of Amsterdam weekly, is reporting Muslim death threats against a young law student - ironically the son of an Arabist of some repute - who, moonlighting as a stand-up, happened to do some innocent jokes on Islam. But he should have known, there's no humor beyond the pillars of Hercules. Enquiries at one of the local mosques learns that it only stands to reason. A spokesperson, asked if death threats are condoned, replies: "Yes, a Muslim is obliged to act, if it's too much he (the perpetrator) can be put down (meaning, be killed). Insulting Islam is not allowed". Referring to the ritual slaughter of cuddly enfant terrible and film producer Theo van Gogh, he adds ominously that he (Theo) didn't heed the warnings either. So that we know ... But what else is new? By now it is no problem to easily fill a hundred blogs a day with reports of Muslim aberrations, as measured against the post-modern Western norms and values that have lost so much of its backbone that it no longer can stand up straigtht.
Another reason I don't like writing about this subject is, that it is utterly fruitless: the discourse doesn't go anywhere. After 9/11 everybody still wondered bewilderedly why these people hated us and went to raide the bookshelves for an explanation. Now we know what's dhimmitude and what they want is a jumbo size caliphate from Jakarta to Reykjavik - we don't - full stop. An excellent article by Henryk Broder, "Hurray! We're Capitulating!" on the site of the German Magazine Der Spiegel sums it up nicely: "At issue is freedom of opinion, one of the central tenets of the Enlightenment and democracy. And whether respect, consideration and tolerance are the right approach to dealing with cultures that, for their part, behave without respect, consideration or tolerance when it comes to anything they view as decadent, provocative and unworthy ...".
That things are not nearly as innocent and spontaneous as they seem is highlighted by the Mohammed cartoon row, that was carefully stage-managed and directed by the forces of Islamo-Nazism. Let me wrap this up by stressing the following paragraph from the article:
"Nowadays acts of terrorism are not committed for their own sake, but in the name of an ideology one could call Nazi-Islamism," Romanian-American author Norman Manea told the German daily Die Welt in March 2004. The only difference, in Manea's view, is "that this ideology invokes a religion, whereas the Nazis were mythical without being religious." Manea believes that what he calls a "World War III" has already begun. "The Europeans are putting off the recognition - as they did in the 1930s - of the tremendous tragedy that awaits them and that has, in fact, already arrived ... The willingness to submit to self-deception is as widespread today as it was (then)"... so we have no such an excuse ... what's ours ...?
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
I promised revisiting the Regensburg speech, but there are other pressing news items. For some weeks now I have been googling two articles whisked from Lebanon's The Daily Star newspaper. One I have already mentioned in an earlier post about a new phenomenon in Middle East politics, the Iranian-Syrian invention of National Islamism. It seeks to replace and incorporate Arab Nationalism with Islamism, a highly suspect and volatile potion indeed! The Palestinian and Lebanese subcontractors are Hamas and Hizbollah respectively. The idea is uniting Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and Iranians under a "patriotic" Shiite-Islamic banner led by the axis Iran and Syria, with the primary goal of victory over Israel and its Western allies. This is not to be achieved by means of a negotiated settlement mind you, which is anathema to the National Islamists. The asset of Iran's nuclear capability looms large.
- The Syrian Al-Assad Ba'ath regime (sister-party to Saddam Hussein's) being predominantly secular, and Iran just about owning Syria, is in a position to dictate terms.
- The leadership in what are usually termed "the moderate Arab countries" is largely irrelevant to the doctrine: the policy as envisioned is grass-roots up.
The article underscores what stands out when you think about it: the moderate elites would be delighted to see Israel and its allies put the axis and its subcontractors in their place, but are unlikely to do anything themselves, occupied as they have been for decades with self-preservation.
The article closes with the ominous conclusion that even moderate success will set the Israeli-Palestine peace settlement back at least a generation. Against this backdrop a drama is presently playing out in the streets of Beirut. Since early December of last year Hizbollah with the assistance of Christian turncoat Michael Aoun has been camping out in the streets of Beirut in an effort to topple the Siniora government, which is seen by the protest movements as pro Western and thus "unpatriotic".
Hizbollah's scorched earth mentality has brought Lebanon into a war with Israel over the summer of 2006, at a material cost which, by the U.N. is estimated at $10 billion; through increasingly violent protest rallies and strikes it is now jeopardizing Prime Minister Siniora's attendance of the donor conference known as Paris III, where the sole agenda item is Lebanon's total public debt of about $41 billion, or 190 percent of Lebanon's GDP. It is slowly dawning on the country just what Hizbollah's state-within-a-state is costing, and that's just the material down-side.
- In another article it becomes apparent how disastrous the situation actually is: Hizbullah is not only having to deal with its devastating blunder of last summer and the protracted and futile encampment on Beirut's streets, they also have to deal with Syria's troubles with the international community over the Hariri murder tribunal.
- Added to that the fact that the Iranian pay-master is not amused that the investments haven't been paying off and over the loss of buffer territory at the Lebanon-Israeli border.
- Hizbollah's own Shiite community is also far from pleased: not only did it have to sustain the suffering due to the war, the reconstruction and "reimbursement" promised by Tehran is also not forthcoming.
Considering all this, it becomes apparent that what we are witnessing these days in Beirut may be the last desperate efforts to salvage an impossible situation, one of which the citizens of Lebanon have had enough.
The outside world may have another impression, but Israel has calculated that its policy of military restraint, in place since the Oslo peace process in 1993, is not paying off. Two particular reasons stand out in this respect: the lack of willingness or ability of ordinary Lebanese citizens to constrain Hizbollah's state-within-a-state at the southern border, and the fact that during the years of restraint Hizbollah has been piling up rockets on the Israeli border. The Palestinian organisation Hamas, at present in government, is a not only Iran's subcontractor, but is also Hizbollah's peer, and the two are emulating and incorporating successful elements of each other's strategies. It may well be that the next miscalculated kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by Hizbollah will not cost Lebanon $10 billion, but will result in total bankruptcy.
- The meeting in Damascus of Palestinian President Abbas with Hamas' supreme leader Khaled Meshaal this weekend for crucial discussions on whether Hamas will accept the terms of a coalition with Fatah, is yet another cross current in the National Islamist's proxi power play with the forces of democracy.
- The latest news from Tehran is that it said it was still cooperating with the IAEA, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, despite announcing a day earlier that it was barring 38 inspectors from working in the country.
- The aforementioned story is not carried by any other news outlet, but the Jerusalem Post carries a article about Iran just having taken delivery of a number of Russian Tor M-1 missiles (purchased before the recent U.N. sanctions were imposed) just as three days of military maneuvers went under way in Iran.
Nobody is at this stage advised to hold their breath till democracy breaks out in the Middle East.
Monday, January 22, 2007
No sooner had I posted my list of a nice round figure of ten points, which for the sake of efficiency shall hence be termed the PMF (Post-Modernism's Fallacies), or I detected a further offence against reason. Actually this may be a version of the Tolerance Trick, the habit of attacking the messenger instead of the message.
11. Good things, bad people say.
In this version somebody who is considered "bad" (that is, in the wrong "camp": if you're Left-leaning, read neo-cons; if you're a Right-winger read Hillery) can still say perfectly proper things from time to time. The fact that they are in another camp doesn't make them grow horns or roast babies on feast days. What somebody says must always be weighed and considered on its own merits.
I have to draw attention to this phenomenon as it is considered acceptable to post comments on message boards, reading: "well of course he's wrong, he's a neo-con, isn't he?!". Of course without any further specification or motivation, the reason why he is wrong!
Back to the Culture War, which by the way some may think is an American phenomenon, in Europe it is brewing just as fierce, if more sub-surface. I have been desperately looking for a reason why the Left since roughly the change of the millennium, has been reacting in such a fanatical, vitriolic, acidic, poisonous, black-biled way (I'm almost at a loss for words to describe it), in relation to, to name but a few situations: the Bush administration, the neo-cons, the war in Iraq, the war on terrorism, name the list of Leftist bogeys and causes. A measure of what's going on can be found in the remarks of the enfant terrible of conservative writing, Dinesh D'Souza concerning the reactions to his new book "The Enemy at Home" (to which I don't subscribe, b.t.w.). He's gone on the record saying he's looking forward to a Fest of Hatred.
I'm greatly unqualified, not being a shrink, but could it be that the Left is scared out of their wits for Osama's laddies at home and abroad, and:
- are they blaming the Right (at large) for the Muslim radicalization, confused as they are about the usefulness of appeasing extremists and the Law of Cause and Effect c.q. the time-line?
- and/or are they too intimidated to stand up to Islamic extremism - hiding as they are behind a façade of cultural relativism - and live it out on the next bad thing they do dare to take on: Christians and Right-wingers? Educated comments invited ...
Something else I've noted: is it me or is the Left - the further they move towards secular radical Enlightenment - the more irrational they get?
In any case, Allah is giving God a bad name, causing the Left to withdraw even further behind the barricade of soulless rationality, while hysterically asserting the virtues of plurality; the Right is singing the praises of charismatic Evangelism (at least in the U.S.) as the summit of what religiosity has to offer. Both going in opposite directions towards the extreme sides of their positions, which isn't exactly conducive to a rebirth of wisdom and balance.
Speaking of balance of faith and reason, some may consider it old news, but I fear it is not. I am preparing a post on the real content of Pope Benedict's Regensburg speech. Thanks to the Sons of Peace one single sentence was lifted from that document of six pages (a marginal one at that) and got the decibel levels spiking, the actual content drowned out of existence. So I'll revisit that in the next couple of days, it being of the utmost importance for the future of Europe and Western culture.
I'm leaving you for today with a picture of a marvel of Greek architecture, the lighthouse on the Ionian island of Kefallonia: may her lights shine just a little on our battered brains!
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Here's the third and final instalment of my list of post-modern problem areas. I use the term loosely, as some fallacies can be attributed to relativism, while the sources of others can be traced back to other miscellaneous pseudo-philosophies of the Enlightened variety. Liberalism, long considered the sole victor in the fight with communism, on this lonely height is beginning to show its limitations. As with all good things taken to extremes it has started turning into its own opposite, or a serpent that is swallowing its own tail: a dictatorship of radical liberal relativism; an oxymoron that typifies the cultural confusion of hot air, empty sophistry without wisdom. The assertivity of radical Islam calls yet for more tolerance of the relativist type, the very last 'remedy' we need, as we shall see.
9. The Intolerance of tolerance and why it is no longer fun to have a debate.
Tolerance means, allowing others a different opinion than your own. What it does not mean emphatically, is that all opinions are equally valid. The post Relativism's Three More Sins Against Reason: The Tolerance Trick was particularly rich as far as confusion, fallacies and their consequences were concerned. We saw how Greg Koukl showed us the inherent inconsistencies in the relativist world view.
He also showed how tolerance in the classical sense of the word means: to have respect for the person, when attacking his ideas and/or behavior. As is done in conflict mediation, the person and his ideas or position must not be confused. Greg Koukl explained how the modern definition of tolerance turns the classical meaning on its head: egalitarianism about ideas and elitism in relation to persons: the ideas have become sacrosanct, the person is fair game. The Passive-Aggressive Tolerance Trick supposes that every one's view has equal merit. No-body's ideas are ever wrong and to say so, is considered the height of disrespect and ... intolerance.
In practice this relativist definition has a number of serious consequences:
- Critique isn't a done thing; it isn't socially acceptable anymore. This is a development which is highly undesirable. First of all it means that nobody, whatever his of her fault, will ever stand corrected. People may commit a fallacy (which in philosophy is an easy thing to do, as Parmenides of Elea can attest to ) or develop a socially unacceptable habit - without ever hitting a corrective barrier. This has consequences for the person involved and for society as a whole: we don't develop the capacity to accept and absorb corrections and in doing so, grow as a person or improve our knowledge.
- It is also detrimental for the already virtually non-existant concept of authority, which is exclusively understood to mean somebody "more" or "better", to be cut to size for his airs instead of a person who by education, intelligence or experience has gathered a particularly rich and deep knowledge about a certain subject and we can become better and wiser people, if we listen and learn, making their knowledge our own. (Contrary to popular belief this does not involve any genuflecting, crawling or any other abject physical activity.)
- It is entirely acceptable to criticize and debate somebody's ideas and behavior, while simultaneously respecting him or her as a person. True tolerance dictates we have in the end to accept that his or her idea may differ from our own, but we can try to persuade him otherwise in a debate, without violating his person, verbally or otherwise. David Klinghoffer in an article "The Limitations of Liberal Pluralism" published on the Discovery Institute site describes in a hilarious way the interaction with a public of the "Jewish liberal species". David Klinghoffer obviously hasn't met Greg Koukl yet.
- Since relativism maintains there is no such thing as objective truth, it is regretfully not possible to talk about anything other than personal opinions. You like red, I like green. You can talk until you're blue in the face, it doesn't get you anywhere beyond that. That's why debates nowadays are so frustrating and can easily develop into shouting matches. It is not a search for truth, but an useless tug-of-war about personal preferences.
- Frustration chips away at good manners and respect for others. Considering that we have no longer recourse to mitigations, like the appeal on tolerance in the true sense of the word, or an attempt at conflict mediation - which also has become a meaningless exercise in the absence of objective truth - it becomes apparent what we are left with is a real social and cultural problem.
How then can we find our way back? Let's first convince ourselves that there is such a thing as objective truth and real falsehood. We must learn to trust our senses and logic again as the ultimate sources by which we can gain first hand knowledge, the way to truth .
Once that confidence is restored, we must re-learn the art of debating.
- We get to a position - a thesis if you wish - by gathering arguments: the scholastic or dialectic method works as follows:
1. posing (formulate) a working hypothesis or question,
2. listing the arguments from both sides (for and against),
3. weigh both sides for an answer to our question,
4. finally the thesis is checked for practical and/or moral objections that must be taken into consideration; if there are any, we re-take our steps. Elementary, really.
- When considering the merits of somebody's position - are they true or false, what is the weight of the argument - we can do this by the same method. It is as good as fool-proof and keeps the subject matter central to the debate, not the debaters.
- Since true tolerance means, allowing others an opinion other than your own, this presupposes that there are at least two parties in the debate. This makes it important that both have come to a certain conclusion, by the dialectical method, or otherwise. In the absence of which we are again dealing with personal opinion and the result isn't tolerance as we now know, but anger or indifference, another thing altogether. But debating is fun  once you get the hang of it. And it will take us out of the vicious circle of the Passive-Aggresive Tolerance Trick.
10. The tolerance of intolerance.
Last on this list but not least, we have the reversal of the above, just as common and pernicious: the tolerance of intolerance. If we cannot empathize with one another and conflicting ideas are deemed equally valid - as relativism maintains - how then can disagreements be settled? As the pattern of conflicting behavior is supported by the basic philosophy, whatever of Harvard's conflict resolution techniques may be applied, all will prove futile against the lack of objective truth.
In the post The Impossible Made Possible: the Dictatorship of Liberalism we have seen that by uncritically accepting the Islamists perspective that Westerners are "Christian Crusaders", the Archbishop of Canterbury unwittingly accepted the legitimacy of the consequences of that view, namely the massacre of Christians. He adopted a morally inconsistent and therefore morally wrong position: the tolerance of intolerance.
In the next few days I'll come back with some more bemusement about the consequences and affects of modern sophistry. The last has not been said yet.
Friday, January 19, 2007
In the first instalment of this post we looked at fallacies 1 to 5. This morning I could add a tenth problem to the list, placed conveniently on 7., sandwiched between how a person's political affinity differs from wet bathing water on 6., and on 8. the intricacies of the French Revolution.
At this stage it may be practical to remind ourselves of the definition of relativism. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy states the following:
"Relativism is sometimes identified (usually by its critics) as the thesis that all points of view are equally valid. In ethics, this amounts to saying that all moralities are equally good; in epistemology it implies that all beliefs, or belief systems, are equally true. Critics of relativism typically dismiss such... to which I have nothing to add. Back to my list of post-modern problems. Not all, but most of them can be directly attributed to the relativist world view and we will see indeed how pernicious and pervasive the consequences are.
views as incoherent since they imply the validity even of the view that relativism is false. They also charge that such views are pernicious since they undermine the enterprise of trying to improve our ways of thinking"
6. Fact is not opinion.
It is a fact that the table is made of wood. In my opinion a red table cloth would be nice.
- You can discuss the choice of a table cloth with your neighbour, who may think a blue one would be better - and go in the end for a green one.
- The fact that it is a wooden table, cannot be changed however long the matter is debated. It is not open to interpretation; it is a fact of life and the law of nature. This may seem obvious, but it is sadly a commonly made mistake.
7. The truth about the Questionable Cause, or Causality, or the Law of Cause and Effect
Having for some time witnessed how some people are struggling with cause and effect, I was not particularly surprised this morning, to find there is a relationship with post-modern thinking. Without going deep into the basics of Aristotle's work "Metaphysics", it can be said that up to modern times causality was a law of nature and moreover, plain common sense. It was also the basis for St Thomas' proof of God's existence: matter unable to create matter, giving rise to the First Cause, a.k.a. God.
Since this state of affairs couldn't stand for the New Man, a number of philosophers and scientists have posed views to the effect that the universe is but an accident, a random chain of events (determinism) and there is no such principle as a free will (incompatibilism). The principle of free will is also often forgotten by Christians, struggling as they do with wars and holocausts that they forget are committed by humans at free will.
Nietzsche's philosophy on the meaningless universe and existentialism did the rest for a cynic world view, that is ruled by boredom and trivia.
Since ideas have consequences, with the corresponding abolition of the time-line in education (boring) and teaching instead centered around themes (fun!), it becomes apparent that some people started developing problems with Law of Cause and Effect: the understanding that cause happens prior to the effect and the effect being a reaction to the cause.
You cannot really explain without getting seriously pedantic, that when a book is on the table, and next it is on the floor, any normal, reasonable person would assume that the book has fallen off the table, on the floor. In grown up current affairs' terms, for example: the events in New York on the 11th of September 2001 (Cause) happened prior to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 (Effect), not the other way around.
8. Equality means, equal before the law.
During the French revolution the people called for "Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité", Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood (Solidarity). By Equality they meant, equal before the law, so as to put an end to the commonly practiced, nasty habit of class justice whereby there was one law for the people, and another for the aristocracy.
Lately we have the tendency to take equality to mean "the same" or "identical", and often not used in a legal context either. That you are not the same person as your neighbor may be self-evident and only clones are (more or less) identical. It would therefore be better to speak of equivalance when we mean to say that somebody shouldn't be giving himself any needless airs.
Even if we are all equal before the law, judges will still have to be careful and interpret the law from a legal language into a human one, taking for example human dignity and fairness into consideration. Only in totalitarian regimes is the law considered above the people. In democratic countries the law serves the people and not the other way around.
To be continued.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Greg Koukl has identified seven further problems with relativism of a more philosophical, rather than practical nature. But before we go into those I'd like to go through my own preliminary list, which currently counts nine points, directly related problems on a day-to-day level, plus a number of other misconcepts that are typical of post-modernity. Some we already know, others we haven't yet discussed in this blog. It is a random list, with no particular order of importance. Some are however of utmost relevance, as we shall see as we get more insight into the problem.
The definition are subjectivism according to Wikipedia reads: "A philosophical tenet that accords primacy to subjective experiences as fundament of all measure and law. In an extreme form, it may hold that the nature and existence of every object depends only on some one's subjective awareness of it". About the latter Anthony Rizzi in the book Science before Science writes a quote attributed to Albert Einstein: "Do you really believe the world isn't there if you're not looking at it?": the result of the fundamental mistake of Idealism.
1. The world is not a pie.
The world isn't made in such a way, that if my part is bigger, somebody else's portion is necessarily smaller. It isn't a zero-sum game as in labour negotiations. In the Harvard method of conflict management we learn that when mitigating a dispute between two parties, we don't go for a watered down compromise, but instead we try to forge a new situation out of the dispute. If one party has oranges and claims the right to the other's lemons, we suggest they consider building a fruit juice factory together, not both ending up with half of what they already had, plus only half of the desired object.
The fallacy seems to be based on an erroneous analogy with natural resources, which evidently are limited. But most things are not limited, replenish themselves or are simply not subject to this particular law of physics, especially in economics and in the world of ideas.
2. Down-talking is degrading.
If I talk myself (my country, my traditions, my culture, etc.) down with the object of making the other party feel better, I can spare myself the degradation. It doesn't work that way. On the contrary, the other party thinks: "Well, if your culture is so poor, how can you possibly make a sound judgement about mine". On the other hand, if I am proud of mine, the other party can feel free to say: "If you're proud, look at mine!".
3. It is possible to support two views simultaneously.
On the same note and perhaps a result of the two-party system or the bi-polar world view of the Cold War: if I choose for health care, this doesn't mean automatically that I am against education. I can support both. More controversial: if I am against George Bush, I can still be for democracy. It may seem stating the obvious, but this is how the anti-war movement ended up as apologists for terrorists and advocates for Saddam Hussein (a tyrant during whose tenure the rate of deaths per 24 hours stood at 240, still exceeding current shocking levels).
4. Goodness is unlimited.
Another version of yet the same misunderstanding: if I am good, it doesn't follow the other party is bad: we can both be good. If I value Western culture, this doesn't necessarily mean I think nothing of the East. It is entirely possible to appreciate and see the merits of both. And if irreconcilable, we can always decide to tolerate each other (in the classical sense of the word: see point 8.)
5. Truth by survey does not exist.
Nowadays it is considered the done thing to probe public opinion on a number of issues. These surveys and polls however are for the most part simply a pastime, filling web space and current affair programs of the B category. Silly questions galore: sometimes they are relevant to a particular political issue and are a measure of public opinion ("Is the surge a good thing?"), at other times they are plain silly and call for an opinion over a fact ("Is AIDS a growing problem?"), or worse even - on moral or religious matters ("Does God exist?").
A lack of knowledge may be at the root of putting a matter to the vote that isn't for the people at large to decide at all ("Should the Pope abdicate?"). "Yes", and so what ....?
Does a return of 50,1% make an error right or true? Public opinion is notoriously fickle and if the majority of people make a mistake, which isn't unheard of, should their wish be taken seriously? Remember that Hitler came to power as a result of a perfectly legitimate election, as did the current Hamas government.
These endless surveys and polls, whether appropriate or not, are causing misconcepts and fallacies. Moreover they make people less aware and increasingly insensitive towards minorities, who as a consequence, are faced with a dictatorship by the majority. I seriously think irresponsible and unscientific polling should be boycotted. If you agree, start by nominating ludicrous polls and surveys for the Competition for the Most Outrageous Survey Award.
Monday, January 15, 2007
- Today's relativist quote:
"I like to participate in this program because the music is fun and seeing other people work out, makes you wanna join in ... at least I do".That is after "you may sit down" (so as to avoid "you must". "Sit down, please" apparently being too much of an imperative).
- Crusader blog this morning surprised us with a beautifully written piece by Mark Steyn on the late Oriana Fallaci, which is really worth reading.
- Townhall.com columnist Kevin McCullough in a post yesterday on the subject of the Christian Left (and why it is not, in his opinion) cites a conversation he had with a spokesman for the movement, Dr. Tony Campolo. Asked why his new book "Letters to a Young Evangelical" seemed to have such great disdain for the Christian Right, Dr Campolo answered as follows:
"It's the sense that they come across as judgemental, they come across as being the people who have the whole answer to everything and are not willing to give credence to any other point of view, and it’s that absolute closed mind set that emerges from that context."Let's analyze this for a bit: Dr Campolo feels, he senses, he gets impressions that come across him. His complaints are that the Christian Right is judgemental, they have an answer to everything, they are not willing to give credence to any other point of view and from that follows, they have an absolute closed mind set, which is worthy of disdain.
It seems to me that The Christian Right have thought things over for a bit and are pretty sure about their position. They may be judging other views, as we all do, including Dr Campolo: how else can we form our opinion? They have an answer to everything: well, good for them! - they must have a very good source. It is Dr Campolo's opinion and not fact that they don't give credence to any other point of view: I say that perhaps they do, but all are deemed inferior to their own. If they have a closed mind set: so what? So has Mr Campolo, for how else can he be so sure.
Of his own position Dr Campolo is less sure; he feels, has ideas, but it all remains kinda nebulous. And he's proud of it too - it conveys an open mind, you see! His complaints are more concrete. What then is the problem? Of course Dr Campolo would rather have the other party undercut their position up front, by having it followed by a question mark, rendering it based on quick-sand and an exercise in futility. The Christian Right apparently aren't willing to oblige on this point.
The remarks made by Dr Campolo are indicative of one of relativism's little peculiarities, a version of the tolerance trick. There's nothing wrong with the Christian Right's ideas, it's just the people that are at fault: they have a closed mind set! It is getting a familiar pattern: the people are attacked, instead of the idea. The latter of course would require a proper analysis, a lengthy weighing of pros and cons. In short: it would take a mental effort. Decibels are cheaper.
As we have seen, is the core accusation against the Christian Right, the closed mind set, by no means sure. Dr Campolo on the contrary, has proved that it is he who isn't willing to match an accusation with a mental effort.
Followers often seem to be moved by impressions and how things look, instead of the facts, the content, the point in question. That's why a proper debate is impossible: it soon turns to decibel production pure and simple. And it explains their obsession with the public image and trivia. It's an immature, superficial, mentally lazy and passive world view.
What is it then what relativists want? A compromise? A monstrosity like "we are a little pregnant"? We all know such a thing doesn't exist in reality. A cosmos in which nobody is sure about anything will go to pieces double quick from lack of coherence. God knows, we're well on our way, if we can't turn this cultural fallacy short term!
In the land of subjectivism everything always seems to be upside down and inside out: it is a sort of idealistic  neverland of paradoxymora and other strange creatures of an infantile imagination.
Friday, January 12, 2007
To the list of subjectivist sins we can now add a reverse of Greg Koukl's Tolerance Trick: The Tolerance of Intolerance. A (regretfully anonymous) commentator on Thursday 12th, to a post on the plight of Christians in the Middle East on the blog Setting the World to Rights wrote as follows:
Relativistic thinking leads to a peculiar problem. If one person cannot judge an other's behavior because he does not live in his skin and cannot see through his eyes, then how should disagreements be settled? If each antagonist's conflicting idea about what each will do is determined by equally valid but differing perspectives, then a philosophy that starts out sounding tolerant to each, devolves into a philosophy that supports conflicting patterns of behavior, otherwise known as violence. By uncritically accepting the Islamists perspective that Westerners are "Christian Crusaders", no doubt in the name of being tolerant, the Archbishop (ed. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams) unwittingly accepts the legitimacy of the consequences of that worldview, namely the massacre of Christians -- surely the height of intolerance. The Archbishop, like relativists who argue similarly, adopts a morally inconsistent and therefore morally wrong position: the tolerance of intolerance.... for which we are no end grateful!
In the world of paradoxes and oxymora created by the relativist world view I yesterday even had to conclude that the impossible has now become possible. What keeps bothering me no end is the case of Rocco Buttiglione. Let me not repeat the whole sordid matter: a biography and links to media articles on the case can be found on the site of the Acton Institute.
It was of course the politically correct E.U. at its worst, having elevated subjectivism to the officially prescribed policy for all member countries. I'm just wondering what my old hero, philosopher and former E.U.commissioner Frits Bolkestein would make of it. We cannot know, as he doesn't seem to blog.
It is of course a case that would make any follower of genuine Liberalism, in the classical sense of De Tocqueville and John Locke, shudder at the mere thought, the latter two probably turning in their graves as well. I know my mother does.
I was a member of the Dutch (classical) Liberal party VVD (not to be confused with the left wing Liberal D66) when Frits Bolkestein was leading it with great moral courage. Mr Bolkestein at his inauguration stressed the need to come to a discussion in the party on ethics and morality. It never got off the ground, there being a wing that subscribes to "unlimited liberty as long as nobody else gets hurt" and the banning of "preaching moral values", a hint at the fully fledged relativism of current date. The subject at some point even became a real taboo. It was - in the end - also the core reason for me leaving the party.
Since there's an element, described by some journalists with a turn for the caricature, as "beer tap liberalism" - a branch of Liberals not particularly interested in the inner thoughts and workings of the doctrine itself - they know little of De Montesquieu who remarked on the American Constitution that it worked as it was embedded in a Christian society, and John Adams who said that the American Constitution was made "only for a moral and religious people". Alexis de Tocqueville has commented that "despotism may govern without faith, liberty cannot" and Liberal theorist John Locke noted on civil society that it was Christianity that gave his doctrine foundations and strength.
Contrary to how it is seen at present, I think that for at least a number of the great Liberal philosophers from the age of the Enlightenment, it never was the idea for society to become "radically enlightened" (secularized, science and reason only considered possible outside the faith), in the sense that Christianity, as the original source of reason, science and natural philosophy, was seen by them as an obstacle to the Liberal ideal. Above quotations are proof to the contrary.
Pope Benedict XVI in his book "Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures" proposes that we adopt the reverse of an axiom from the age of the Enlightenment, when an attempt was made to understand and define the essential norms and morality by saying, these would be valid etsi Deus non daretur, even if God did exist. The reverse advising the atheist to direct his life veluti si Deus daretur, as if God did indeed exist.
It is valuable advice from men who in wisdom and knowledge are light-years removed from today's pseudo scepticism and sophistry that in fact has led to a form of politically correct crypto- totalitarianism, that hasn't the foggiest notion or even awareness of a nasty by-product of democracy, the dictatorship by the majority.
But in line with the paradox of The Intolerance of Tolerance, it is the Dictatorship of Liberalism that is at the core of "The Case Buttiglione", a case with more victims than Mr Buttiglione and the E.P. alone: it marks the death of classical Liberalism as we knew it. (It stands to reason, when basically totalitarian parties start calling themselves liberal.)
Thursday, January 11, 2007
- Today I received from the American Jewish Committee an update on the Salah Choudhury situation. Apparently the Moral Courage Award has been handed out to Mr Choudhury. What fills me personally with anger is that my government is lavishing vast amounts of taxpayer's money (called development funds) on a country that abuses its citizens, is stifling freedom and tends to follow the ranks of what is now termed a new political system in the Islamic world that will prove to be every bit as bad as its predecessors. Here's the article in yesterday's Daily Star of Lebanon in re of National Islamism (make a mental note; I don't think we've heard the first and the last of this).
It is not too late to sign the petition for the life of Salah Choudhury! The link can be found here on the left hand side column or see the relevant articles.
Here's the story on the Award:
Shoaib Salah Choudhury expressed deep appreciation to AJC for sending its Moral Courage Award to him through the U.S. Embassy in Bangladesh. "When I brought the plaque to my residence, my family was extremely delighted to see it. We have placed the plaque with respect in our living room, where the guests will have the opportunity of seeing it. Each time I see it, it gives me a kind of divine inspiration. And, every time, I remember especially Mr. David Harris and our friend Yehudit Barsky for kindly choosing me as the recipient of the award." AJC had attempted to honor Choudhury at the Centennial Annual Meeting in May 2006, but he was prevented from leaving Bangladesh and is now on trial for sedition because of his efforts to foster dialogue with Jews, to visit Israel and his opposition to radical Islam in Bangladesh. His trial is set to resume on January 22.- On a similar note how Islamic countries are misusing so-called development funds against their benefactors. Lebanon's Daily Star has a report how Egypt is funding Al Qa'ida's P.R. requirements.
- This post isn't about a so-called "Peace Mum" who is exploiting the death of her son for narrow party political gains in a shameless fashion. Present pastime is proof she's also an activist and is displaying very awkward bereavement reactions.
- Here we have a worthy, except if you happen to be Venezuelan, in which case my commiserations. After Tony Blair's socialism by a third way proved to be unadulterated Tory politics, it seems that Hugo Chavez a.k.a. The Clown of the Caribbean, is now trying to get it done in yet a fourth manner. How many more ways do they need to concede at last that socialism doesn't work?!
- According to the E.U. Observer Spain and Luxemburg are calling for "pride" in the Constitution. They are right: pride is so much more important than acknowledging your religious, historical and cultural roots of two millennia! Pride is P.C., pride is neutral, pride is good (provided it doesn't lead to nationalistic tendencies, in which case we'll break out in a terrible rash: wait till the 21st and you'll see).
- The theme of today's post seems to be shame and pride. Here's one for the shame category: Recently I have been writing how the New Europe, the former East Block, is treated by Old Europe, which is an indecent shame. Al-Guardian provides us today with an excellent example. (What an awful rag is that! And me thinking the New Rotterdam Courant was the pits!)
- Townhall.com's columnist Star Parker is on the case of the defense of Oprah! Good for her! I'm so proud of her!
- Back to shame (and a bit of fun thrown in): journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran, former Baghdad bureau chief for The Washington Post has published a book. It's all about the debauched life of the Americans in the Green Zone in Baghdad during the first year of the U.S. occupation. It's called Imperial Life in the Emerald City. In a recent interview on CNN he clarified the trouveille as follows: 'emerald' refers to the Green Zone (emeralds are green, you must know) and the Americans were displaying 'imperial' attitudes: they were sitting in Saddam's palaces, eating pork in the middle of an Islamic capital!
Monday, January 08, 2007
The Euston Manifesto this is basically old news that I missed when it was hot, due to other pressing matters (like fleeing Western Europe). A few Google exercises however learn that criticism of the Manifesto mostly came from bloggers on the Leftest side of the authors, and were termed in the usual expletative and unmotivated style that we now know is associated with a relative world view. After working a way through four of the ten pages, said to contain 402,000 hits, I had seen enough. I am seriously wondering why no one else has taken the thing apart, but then that review might still be hiding in the remaining six pages of lower Google rank. If so, I'd like to know.
Not far from where Karl Marx used to jot down his misguided lunacy that led to so much human misery in later years, in the early months of 2006 a group of the Leftist Intelligentsia came together to distance themselves from what had become a movement of terrorist and totalitarian apologists. In the words of the Manifesto: "...a reaction to what are asserted to be widespread violations of left-wing principles by other left-wingers". The manifesto states that "the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between forces on the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values". (Sorry about the lingo, which is to convey the general atmosphere: I'll distill and re-phrase as much as I can.) Said violations are largely in relation to issues in the Middle East, such as the Iraq war, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war on terrorism etc.
Broadly speaking, the group asserts that the Left as a whole is overly critical of the actions of Western governments, such as the military presence in Iraq, and correspondingly  is overly supportive of forces opposing Western governments, such as the Iraqi insurgents. As the paper puts it, "we must define ourselves against those for whom the entire progressive-democratic agenda has been subordinated to a blanket and simplistic 'anti-imperialism' and/or hostility to the current U.S. administration".
So, there you have it. The nomenclature and terminology are Old Marxist School (so much for mainstream socialism the 3rd way), but don't let that mislead you! This stuff makes the Leftist building shake on its very foundation: this is the Elite (academics, journalists, activists, pundits) disseminating right wing neo-con agit-prop, displaying neo-imp tendencies, and this is a minimum Manifesto - your guess as good as mine what blasphemy a fully fledged paper might have produced!
The Manifesto states it cares for historical truth. Reading this for the first time I was at first mesmerized by the very expectation of real historical confessions of earth shattering proportions, but the authors hereby merely express their intention, hence to criticise in forthright terms those Leftists, who ally with "illiberal theocrats" or other anti-democratic figures and organisations (one feels George Galloway is singled out here). Additionally, they promise to listen to the ideas of both the left and the right, if ... furthering democracy.
The paper is showing more signs of maturity: "... making common cause with genuine democrats, whether socialist or not ..." (does that extend to George Bush, one wonders?) and the self-confessed democratic and progressive forces continue that: "... after the bombs stopped falling, the Left should have united around a campaign to support Iraqi democrats, feminists, and progressives". Instead, in their view, alliances were formed with Islamist groups, Baathists and the libertarian antiwar.com. One does wonder what the extent is of these alliances and what they entail. The question also springs to mind if these treacherous acts in a time of war, are no longer punishable by law?
The Manifesto puts paid to blindly appeasing the ravings of the Sons of Peace, "... condemning all forms of tyranny, terrorism, anti-Americanism, racism, anti-Zionism, (they) reject fear of modernity, (fear) of freedom, irrationalism , the subordination of women and reaffirm the ideas that inspired the great rallying calls of the democratic revolutions of the eighteenth century: liberty, equality and solidarity; human rights; the pursuit of happiness".
But we aren't to hold them for zealots (I wasn't particularly inclined to - no idea why the aforementioned might lead to such a conclusion): they also embrace the values of free enquiry, open dialogue and creative doubt, of care in judgement and a sense of the intractabilities of the world. And here we have it:
"We stand against all claims to a total - unquestionable or unquestioning - truth".
The group strongly supports the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, dismissing all arguments against the idea of eternal truths.
The Manifesto then takes another turn and continues to stress that it "rejects cultural relativism". This may explain their acceptance of the Declaration of Universal Human Rights, but then we still have the "eternal truth" issue.
It is beyond me why an Intelligentsia doesn't have the intelligence to have their scribbles screened by logicians before setting them loose on society, a large part of which takes these things seriously for some reason.
The Manifesto intentionally does not specify the preferred economic system, but we must assume they subscribe to the capitalist free-market system, that being the best capable of guaranteeing "the economic and social equality between people of all races, religions, genders, and sexual orientations" that they demand.
Next we hit trouble again as the Manifest declares that "labour rights are human rights, in defence of less-commonly represented people, including children and the sexually oppressed". Can anybody please explain to me, who are the sexually oppressed?! Trafficked women working in legalized brothels, or what? Equating labour rights with human rights is a fine example of what has given human rights a bad name and what has caused the lamentable devaluation of what we should be holding sacred as the very guarantor of human dignity. It is a stretch but let's suppose some labour union functionary demands a new coffee machine on the third floor, or a day care centre in the basement? One cannot in his right mind categorize that as human rights; it trivializes and debases them and will lead to their erosion!
Apparently the U.S. is "not a model society", begging the question what then is the ideal? Since the demise of the Soviet Union the Left is very short on ideals, reason why they display that obnoxious cynicism, what pundits mistake for an attitude of healthy criticism.
While the statement is commendable in that the authors condemn and reject all forms of terrorism (at long last) and equate it with a violation of international law, that nothing can excuse terrorism and they admit that the worst atrocities happen within Islam, the choice of words and feeling for detail is at times astonishing: what to think of their "opposition on inter-tribal conflict": yes, the war of Hutus and Tutsis was something terrible!
The Manifesto wraps it up by declaring that it condemns those that call the Iraqi insurgents freedom fighters, that people must be allowed to express and criticise opinions within the traditional constraints against libel, slander, and incitement to violence, and that religion is fair game for expression and criticism alike (of course). However, the authors say, this right should be tempered by the personal responsibility of the speaker. In that case it is hoped that parenting and education is improved. Or somebody wakes up and explains to the world at large not to confuse the person with the issues.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
One of the ludicrous by-products of George-hatred is the almost silent condemnation of democracy. After all, there is something to be said for enlightened totalitarianism. On second thought a messy democracy is not such a good idea after all, just because George said that it was. Democracy: so bourgeois, so over-rated and generally not a result obtained by forcible liberation from dictatorship. Germany and Japan after World War II are visible refutations of this statement, but to relativists opinions are more important than facts.
The last few years have produced more of these aberrations, as the countries of "New Europe" acquired a bad name by voicing too much of an appreciation for freedom, by not being atheist enough and generally for having not nearly enough P.C.-ness infused into them.
First the Polish plumber became somebody akin to a free market terrorist; then in the early stages of cajoling the U.N. into enforcing their own Security Council Resolutions and support the war in Iraq (in the absence of Saddam, adhering to the terms and conditions brought to bear after his war against Kuwait), the Poles were told by the French President Jacques Chirac at some point, they missed a good opportunity to shut up. Lower than gutter level they don't come. The attack on New York's Twin Towers on 9/11 crossed a new frontier in the history of terrorism: since that time lots of people are inspired to cross new frontiers all of the time: Jacques Chirac with his comment crossed new territory in the history of diplomacy; it was a sad example of how an otherwise perfectly good mannered and sophisticated man all of a sudden lost sight of civility: it happened often those days.
This is still not really over and things are exacerbated by the relativist preference for the here and now. So it happened that it has been altogether erased from our collective memory how much we owe the former communist countries: they were sold and and left to their own devices when in Yalta and Tehran after World War II, they paid the price for the West's freedom. Some in the West consoled themselves with the thought that Uncle Joe probably wasn't nearly as bad as some said he was and that they, after all, were living in the working man's paradise. A state of affairs soon to be realised on a global level.
While the last thoughts (and sometimes other means of support) have not been atoned for, half as much as should have been, there are now people of the Intelligentsia (meaning Left Leaning High Culture) that have had enough of these aberrations and want to go back to the status quo ante George and forget all about the Americans being in Iraq for the oil and premature accusations like that. In fact they have been doing this since 25th May of last year, but nobody of the international MSM thought to inform the public outside the U.K. or I was too busy fleeing the relativist heartland. Anyway, this is the first I'm hearing of the Euston Manifesto Group of Islington by way of the New Culture Blog. It cannot have been hot news for a long time, otherwise I would have picked up on it from some place.
Contents of the Manifesto warrants a single, dedicated post. While it is old news and critique almost entirely comes from the (loony) lefter side of the manifestists proper and is worded in terms of "wanky wonkos betray our cause and join the ranks of the neo-imperialists", the Manifesto offers some beautiful examples of violations against reason that I simply cannot bear passing up.
Suffice it at present to say that the Left Elite/Liberal Intelligentsia have a rock solid template for everything they do: the choice of words and its nomenclature are infamous, as is its capacity to turn an idea on its head. The word Manifesto has a first class pedigree and its use on the Left goes all the way back to Karl Marx himself.
"New" in New Culture Blog works like "progressive" in those circles: it was new and progressive seventy years ago, so mentally you have to read instead "Over-aged" and "regressive".
At first the libs display all the usual Pavlov reactions to a given situation: if the self-appointed opinion leaders decide Against, say George and the war on terrorism, they all go Against George plus the war on terrorism. This automatically implies what they are For, namely all of George's enemies. Schematically this makes a horror cabinet of 3rd millennium current affairs (in no particular order):
- Against: the war in Iraq, the Iraqi government, democracy, Israel, the war on terrorism, the death penalty, the Iraqi Court, the Kurds, Eastern Europe, Colin Powell, Tony Blair, Condi Rice, pro democracy movements against authoritative but essentially "benign" governments (like Yanukovych's), God (Allah exempted), globalization, free-market liberalism, Ethiopia, classical liberalism, cookies, etc. etc.
- Pro: The Noble Freedom Fighters, Saddam c.s., the Palestinians, Hamas, Hezbollah, Ahmadinejad, Al Qa'ida c.s., France, Lebanon (at large), Robert Mugabe, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and South American Friends of the Leftist Cause, Howard Dean, the Chechen cause, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, abortion, euthanasia, evolution as proposed by Darwin(ism), Spain under the Zapatero government, open source software (free of charge and called a movment), Somalia, humanism as proposed by "The Enlightenment", science however fuzzy, Africa (at large), etc. etc.
- The jury is still out on: Russia and President Putin, North Korea, Iran, Belorussia, the Maoist rebels in Nepal, the Sudanese government
- Kicked off the pro list are: the IRA, ETA
When the situation has reached unsustainable proportions and the stance is no longer seen as credible by opponents and proponents alike, some frequenters of one or another private salon or a public house, usually located somewhere in the South of England, come together to write a Manifesto, distancing themselves from the situation in an effort to raise some credibility, just in time for the next general elections.
So the next time you read some left leaning drivel please check if it carries the Euston Manifesto Seal of Correctness; in the affirmative you can rest assured that this is in accordance with the New Improved Left: you'd be pleased to know they no longer blindly further, apologize, appease or advocate George's enemies no matter who. What do you suppose this is: Truth by Incredibility?
One must assume that Al-Guardian, considering their article yesterday, calling Somalia America's new puppet, isn't a signatory to The Manifesto.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
The last few days provided us with the following news worthies:
- Here's one of the simple European multi-culti variety: Beate Winkler, director of the 'European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia' in an article on the website of Deutsche Welle is making remarks about humans not having roots, but boots ... Now I wonder where does this piece of rhyming relativism stem from? My conclusion: scientism ("humans are at root nomadic") dressed up as a sneer at Pope Benedict's and Marcello Pera's book "Without Roots", in which they make mincemeat of multi-culturalist balderdash like Ms Winkler's. Well, let's leave it for the time being for what it is: the last throes of a generation of wreckers. More later on in this post.
- Al-Guardian's columnist Timothy Garton Ash is wondering how come Europe hasn't a story for the future. Could it perhaps be that a people who deny their own history aren't worthy, or perhaps are simply incapable of envisioning a future? Sad indeed.
- Speaking of sadness: Al-Guardian goes on to call Somalia, now almost free of Islamist terrorists ... America's new puppet, which just goes to show what deep feelings of blind hatred can do to a psyche. This is why Christianity doesn't encourage it. And that is why the Left's gathering averseness of Christianity is almost on a par with their hatred of George Bush (and democracy) (see paragraph down on The Last Stand etc.).
- Back with the boys in Brussels it transpires that Mr Verheugen, Germany's Commissioner for Industry, is advocating moving the E.U. goal posts by unearthing proposals to give small countries less influence than larger ones. They don't really need commissioners, minor functionaries would be sufficient (whatever). You'd almost think he's doing it to please the Turks who are very fond of power politics, but this is probably not the case. He's just trying to set the tone for the German presidency, lowering expectations of the small fry in re of the Constitution talks.
- Elsevier was for-seeing it and warns that "the Constitution is back on the agenda". As did I (which is not that difficult once you understand how their manoeuvrings work) and wrote in this blog just how utterly untrustworthy and tricky these boys in Brussels are. Because officially they have no business at all to bring back a subject that has been voted down by two member states. The veto still being in place (this is what the constitution proposes to change and why the Dutch have voted it down), even one would have been sufficient. Real role models for ethics and observers of the rule of law, these boys in Brussels.
- And while Muslims are screaming for attention and everybody is looking that way The Last Stand of the Baby Boom Empire is upon us (see also the first item in re of Ms Winkler's roots versus boots and the para on Al-Guardian's opinion on Somalia). Just mark my words, these are their last throes before they're pensioned off. Upon growing up in or just after World War II, all their lives they have done their damnedest to wreck the West's collective, cultural memory that has been built up over the better part of two millennia. First we had to turn communist, then broody post-modern deconstructionists and live through the sexual revolution, then became socialist squatters on their behest, then Maoists, back to trying socialism yet again, this time by a third method and all the while also being progressive, pacifist feminists.
I tell you, the last thing still standing and gathering strength, is Christianity. This is the last asset they'll try their hand at wrecking before packing it in. However obnoxious and tiresome, after going through hell yet again in engaging them in public discourse, after they've failed at that too, perhaps the rest of society can re-find their inner strength and construct something positive and lasting for the future, at long last. And they can go and enjoy the benefits of the old people's paradises they've constructed over the years to be rid of their own elderly parents.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
One of the by-products of relativism is tolerance, political correctness' pretty little sister of skin-deep beauty. "The idea has been misused so often that it has become a vice", says the protagonist of this post, Greg Koukl, regular columnist at Townhall.com in his article titled "The Intolerance of Tolerance".
Greg Koukl is providing us with some very valuable insight into the workings and unfortunate by-products of the culture of relativism. I can specifically recommend reading it entirely, thereafter printing and framing it and hang it over the bed, to be read each night before turning in, for the coming two decades or so. It is also very suited to children of all ages, to be read to as a bed time story or as didactic material. It is impossible to overstate the importance of his article. Greg Koukl unmasks relativism for what it is, at best fuzzy philosophy, at worst a lie pure and simple.
First and foremost relativism supports the absence of objective truth, while it goes on to assert two truths!
- The first is the contradiction in terms, namely the truth that there is no truth.Another contradiction lies in the intolerant imperative: Thou shalt be Tolerant. To which can be added tthe fact that if other people's viewpoints must be tolerated, that makes them at least potential truths, otherwise they wouldn't have to be tolerated, which in the classical sense of the word means: to allow others to express their opinion without fear of reprisal.
- And it implies the validity even of the view that relativism is false.
Greg Koukl continues his démasqué, by what he calls the "passive-aggressive Tolerance Trick", which supposes that every one's view has equal merit. No body's ideas are ever wrong and to say so, is considered the height of disrespect and intolerance, thereby proving the limit of tolerance. Tolerance is not absolute, apparently.
I came across an article on the website of Radio Netherlands, again about Ayaan Hirsi Ali (see how she shocked and riveted the nation!), which illustrates the confusion that is exacerbated by the Muslim culture that has declared large areas of religion sacrosanct and beyond reproach. The article shows just how it is resented that Ayaan had an opinion, and voiced it! Greg Koukl's point explains this supreme height of intolerance in the name of tolerance.
It brings to mind my complaint about the behavior of the Dutch who don't know how to deal with criticism; it is also related to the point explained above. Nobody is ever wrong in the culture of relativism, so queries are looked upon as if they were ice cubes in the desert.
This point also explains the lack of any real debate taking place, complete with sets of arguments that can be brought fore and against . It is why the discourse doesn't get beyond expletives and verbal abuse. More is the pity that we live in a time where the Internet provides all the space and opportunity we might want to voice our opinion: if we only had one. But it does raise the desperate question: Where is everybody? Where are the intellectuals and the writers, the thinkers ... and where are the debating societies?
Tolerance in the classical sense of the word is equal to respect and civility and is directed at the person, instead of his ideas and/or behavior, and that is exactly what is absent in the culture of tolerance, egalitarianism and relativism. The person and his ideas are being confused: we can disagree with his ideas and his behavior while at the same time, still respect his person. Mr Koukl explains how the modern definition of tolerance turns the classical meaning on its head: egalitarianism about ideas and elitism in relation to persons.
He puts it in other words: you cannot tolerate people you agree with; you tolerate people with whom you disagree, because it means you allow him his opinion or behavior although you disagree with it, while still respecting the person! It's all elementary, really.
To which can be added that tolerance in the true sense requires two opinions, one on each side, in the absence of which, one is left with indifference instead. Now the modern sense of tolerance is dominant, the absence of true opinion on both ends is preferred as less likely to cause a messy debate, which is all the better if you're trying to appease assertive Muslims.
The same trick is played out in the matter of equality (égalité). It is the same contradiction which makes people say politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali is "the same" as soccer player Kalou. In the relativist book equality means identical, instead of its original meaning "equal before the law" (i..e.of equal value). This was to ensure there was no "class justice", one law for the poor and another for the aristocracy. The law is still in need of a human interpretation so as not to become a value onto itself, as opposed to Law is Law, Befehl ist Befehl, the interpretation Minister Verdonk is putting on it out of personal interest. But that is another matter.
Today's public discourse under influence of relativism and its ugly relatives is one huge witch's cauldron of confused ideas and fuzzy philosophy that constitutes a poisonous potion for Western society: terms are used improperly, ideas are confused, wrong definitions are given and there is the unawareness of the contradictions in terms, that makes relativism into an almost satanical philosophical parlor trick. It has by now touched millions of people and their capacity to think along the lines of logic.
Greg Koukl closes his argument with the remark that tolerance is in actual fact nothing else than intellectual cowardice and a fear of real engagement. Indeed, it is easier to hurl an insult: the commentary pages of the mass media are full of them, all equally disrespectful in tone, and content and empty of opinion.