Thought pieces

Discussion in 'Dog Brothers Martial Arts' started by Crafty Dog, Dec 14, 2011.

  1. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

  2. lhommedieu

    lhommedieu Senior Member

    Lol: Women are "physically, mentally" different from men, and have a different moral character. Dying in natural childbirth for generations will do that to a gender...

    I've been punched in the face, and it's made me want to avoid being punched in the face. I wouldn't take my pants off to avoid it, however.


  3. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    West: The Fatherless Civilization
    By Fjordman
    The decade from the first half of the 1960s to the first half of the 1970s was clearly a major watershed in Western history, with the start of non-Western mass immigration in the USA, the birth of Eurabia in Western Europe and the rise of Multiculturalism and radical Feminism. American columnist Diana West recently released her book The Death of the Grown-up, where she traces the decline of Western civilization to the permanent youth rebellions of the past two generations. The paradox is that the people who viciously attacked their own civilization had enjoyed uninterrupted economic growth for decades, yet embraced Marxist-inspired ideologies and decided to undermine the very society which had allowed them to live privileged lives. Maybe this isn't as strange as it seems. Karl Marx himself was aided by the wealth of Friedrich Engels, the son of a successful industrialist.

    This was also the age of decolonization in Western Europe and desegregation in the USA, which created an atmosphere where Western civilization was seen as evil. Whatever the cause, we have since been stuck in a pattern of eternal opposition to our own civilization. Some of these problems may well have older roots, but they became institutionalized to an unprecedented degree during the 1960s.

    According to Diana West, the organizing thesis of her book "is that the unprecedented transfer of cultural authority from adults to adolescents over the past half century or so has dire implications for the survival of the Western world." Having redirected our natural development away from adulthood and maturity in order to strike the pop-influenced pose of eternally cool youth – ever-open, non-judgmental, self-absorbed, searching for (or just plain lacking) identity – we have fostered a society marked by these same traits. In short: Westerners live in a state of perpetual adolescence, but also with a corresponding perpetual identity crisis. West thinks maturity went out of style in the rebellious 1960s, "the biggest temper tantrum in the history of the world," which flouted authority figures of any kind.

    She also believes that although the most radical break with the past took place during the 60s and 70s, the roots of Western youth culture are to be found in the 1950s with the birth of rock and roll music, Elvis Presley and actors such as James Dean. Pop group The Beatles embodied this in the early 60s, but changed radically in favor of drugs and the rejection of established wisdom as they approached 1970, a shift which was reflected in the entire culture.

    Personally, one of my favorite movies from the 1980s was Back to the Future. In one of the scenes, actor Michael J. Fox travels in time from 1985 to 1955. Before he leaves 1985, he hears the slogan "Re-elect Mayor....Progress is his middle name." The same slogan is repeated in 1955, only with a different name. Politics is politics in any age. Writers Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale have stated that they chose the year 1955 as the setting of the movie because this was the age of the birth of teen culture: This was when the teenager started to rule, and he has ruled ever since.

    As West says, many things changed in the economic boom in the decades following the Second World War: "When you talk about the postwar period, the vast new affluence is a big factor in reorienting the culture to adolescent desire. You see a shift in cultural authority going to the young. Instead of kids who might take a job to be able to help with household expenses, all of a sudden that pocket money was going into the manufacture of a massive new culture. That conferred such importance to a period of adolescence that had never been there before." After generations of this celebration of youth, the adults have no confidence left: "Kids are planning expensive trips, going out unchaperoned, they are drinking, debauching, absolutely running amok, yet the parents say, 'I can't do anything about it.' Parents have abdicated responsibilities to give in to adolescent desire."

    She believes that "Where womanhood stands today is deeply affected by the death of grown-up. I would say the sexualized female is part of the phenomenon I'm talking about, so I don't think they're immune to the death of the grown-up. Women are still emulating young fashion. Where sex is more available, there are no longer the same incentives building toward married life, which once was a big motivation toward the maturing process."

    Is she right? Have we become a civilization of Peter Pans refusing to grow up? Have we been cut off from the past by disparaging everything old as outmoded? I know blogger Conservative Swede, who likes Friedrich Nietzsche, thinks we suffer from "slave morality," but I sometimes wonder whether we suffer from child morality rather than slave morality. However, there are other forces at work here as well.

    The welfare state encourages an infantilization of society where people return to childhood by being provided for by others. This creates not just a culture obsessed with youth but with adolescent irresponsibility. Many people live in a constant state of rebellion against not just their parents but their nation, their culture and their civilization.

    Writer Theodore Dalrymple thinks one reason for the epidemic of self-destructiveness in Western societies is the avoidance of boredom: "For people who have no transcendent purpose to their lives and cannot invent one through contributing to a cultural tradition (for example), in other words who have no religious belief and no intellectual interests to stimulate them, self-destruction and the creation of crises in their life is one way of warding off meaninglessness."

    According to him, what we are seeing now is "a society in which people demand to behave more or less as they wish, that is to say whimsically, in accordance with their kaleidoscopically changing desires, at the same time as being protected from the natural consequences of their own behaviour by agencies of the state. The result is a combination of Sodom and Gomorrah and a vast and impersonal bureaucracy of welfare."

    The welfare state deprives you of the possibility of deriving self-respect from your work. This can hurt a person's self-respect, but more so for men than for women because masculine identity is closely tied to providing for others. Stripped of this, male self-respect declines and society with it. Dalrymple also worries about the end of fatherhood, and believes that the worst child abusers are governments promoting the very circumstances in which child abuse and neglect are most likely to take place: "He who promotes single parenthood is indifferent to the fate of children." Fatherhood scarcely exists, except in the merest biological sense:

    "I worked in a hospital in which had it not been for the children of Indian immigrants, the illegitimacy rate of children born there would have approached one hundred per cent. It became an almost indelicate question to ask of a young person who his or her father was; to me, it was still an astounding thing to be asked, 'Do you mean my father now, at the moment?' as if it could change at any time and had in fact changed several times before."

    This is because "women are to have children merely because they want them, as is their government-given right, irrespective of their ability to bring them up, or who has to pay for them, or the consequences to the children themselves. Men are to be permanently infantilised, their income being in essence pocket money for them to spend on their enjoyments, having no serious responsibilities at all (beyond paying tax). Henceforth, the state will be father to the child, and the father will be child of the state."

    As Swedish writer Per Bylund explains: "Most of us were not raised by our parents at all. We were raised by the authorities in state daycare centers from the time of infancy; then pushed on to public schools, public high schools, and public universities; and later to employment in the public sector and more education via the powerful labor unions and their educational associations. The state is ever-present and is to many the only means of survival – and its welfare benefits the only possible way to gain independence."

    Though Sweden is arguably an extreme case, author Melanie Phillips notices the same trends in Britain, too: "Our culture is now deep into uncharted territory. Generations of family disintegration in turn are unravelling the fundamentals of civilised human behaviour. Committed fathers are crucial to their children's emotional development. As a result of the incalculable irresponsibility of our elites, however, fathers have been seen for the past three decades as expendable and disposable. Lone parenthood stopped being a source of shame and turned instead into a woman's inalienable right. The state has provided more and more inducements to women – through child benefit, council flats and other welfare provision – to have children without committed fathers. This has produced generations of women-only households, where emotionally needy girls so often become hopelessly inadequate mothers who abuse and neglect their own children – who, in turn, perpetuate the destructive pattern. This is culturally nothing less than suicidal."

    I sometimes wonder whether the modern West, and Western Europe in particular, should be dubbed the Fatherless Civilization. Fathers have been turned into a caricature and there is a striking demonization of traditional male values. Any person attempting to enforce rules and authority, a traditional male preserve, is seen as a Fascist and ridiculed, starting with God the Father. We end up with a society of vague fathers who can be replaced at the whim of the mothers at any given moment. Even the mothers have largely abdicated, leaving the upbringing of children to schools, kindergartens and television. In fashion and lifestyle, mothers imitate their daughters, not vice versa.

    The elaborate welfare state model in Western Europe is frequently labelled "the nanny state," but perhaps it could also be named "the husband state." Why? Well, in a traditional society, the role of men was to physically protect and financially provide for their women. In our modern society, part of this task has been "outsourced" to the state, which helps explain why women in general give disproportionate support to high taxation and pro-welfare state parties. According to anthropologist Lionel Tiger, the ancient unit of a mother, a child and a father has morphed from monogamy into "bureaugamy," a mother, a child and a bureaucrat. The state has become a substitute husband. In fact, it doesn't replace just the husband, it replaces the entire nuclear and extended family, raises the children and cares for the elderly.

    Øystein Djupedal, Minister of Education and Research from the Socialist Left Party and responsible for Norwegian education from kindergartens via high schools to PhD level, has stated: "I think that it's simply a mistaken view of child-rearing to believe that parents are the best to raise children. 'Children need a village,' said Hillary Clinton. But we don't have that. The village of our time is the kindergarten." He later retracted this statement, saying that parents have the main responsibility for raising children, but that "kindergartens are a fantastic device for children, and it is good for children to spend time in kindergarten before [they] start school."

    The problem is that some of his colleagues use the kindergarten as the blueprint for society as a whole, even for adults. In the fall of 2007, Norway's center-left government issued a warning to 140 companies that still hadn't fulfilled the state-mandated quota of 40 percent women on their boards of directors. Equality minister Karita Bekkemellem stated that companies failing to meet the quota will face involuntary dissolution, despite the fact that many are within traditionally male-oriented branches like the offshore oil industry, shipping and finance. She called the law "historic and radical" and said it will be enforced.

    Bekkemellem is thus punishing the naughty children who refuse to do as Mother State tells them to, even if these children happen to be private corporations. The state replaces the father in the sense that it provides for you financially, but it acts more like a mother in removing risks and turning society into a cozy, regulated kindergarten with ice cream and speech codes.

    Blog reader Tim W. thinks women tend to be more selfish than men vis-a-vis the opposite sex: "Men show concern for women and children while women.... well, they show concern for themselves and children. I'm not saying that individual women don't show concern for husbands or brothers, but as a group (or voting bloc) they have no particular interest in men's well-being. Women's problems are always a major concern but men's problems aren't. Every political candidate is expected to address women's concerns, but a candidate even acknowledging that men might have concerns worth addressing would be ostracized." What if men lived an average of five years and eight months longer than women? Well, if that were the case, we'd never hear the end of it: "Feminists and women candidates would walk around wearing buttons with 'five years, eight months' written on them to constantly remind themselves and the world about this horrendous inequity. That this would happen, and surely it would, says something about the differing natures of male and female voters."

    Bernard Chapin interviewed Dr. John Lott at Frontpage Magazine. According to Lott, "I think that women are generally more risk averse then men are and they see government as one way of providing insurance against life's vagaries. I also think that divorced women with kids particularly turn towards government for protection. Simply giving women the right to vote explained at least a third of the growth in government for about 45 years."

    He thinks this "explains a lot of the government's growth in the US but also the rest of the world over the last century. When states gave women the right to vote, government spending and tax revenue, even after adjusting for inflation and population, went from not growing at all to more than doubling in ten years. As women gradually made up a greater and greater share of the electorate, the size of government kept on increasing. This continued for 45 years as a lot of older women who hadn't been used to voting when suffrage first passed were gradually replaced by younger women. After you get to the 1960s, the continued growth in government is driven by higher divorce rates. Divorce causes women with children to turn much more to government programs." The liberalization of abortion also led to more single parent families.

    Diana West thinks what we saw in the counterculture of the 1960s was a leveling of all sorts of hierarchies, both of learning and of authority. From that emerged the leveling of culture and by extension Multiculturalism. She also links this trend to the nanny state:

    "In considering the strong links between an increasingly paternalistic nanny state and the death of the grown-up, I found that Tocqueville (of course) had long ago made the connections. He tried to imagine under what conditions despotism could come to the United States. He came up with a vision of the nation characterized, on the one hand, by an 'innumerable multitude of men, alike and equal, constantly circling around in pursuit of the petty and banal pleasures with which they glut their souls,' and, on the other, by the 'immense protective power' of the state. 'Banal pleasures' and 'immense state power' might have sounded downright science-fictional in the middle of the 19th century; by the start of the 21st century, it begins to sound all too familiar. Indeed, speaking of the all-powerful state, he wrote: 'It would resemble parental authority if, fatherlike, it tried to prepare its charges for a man's life, but, on the contrary, it only tries to keep them in perpetual childhood.' Perhaps the extent to which we, liberals and conservatives alike, have acquiesced to our state's parental authority shows how far along we, as a culture, have reached Tocqueville's state of 'perpetual childhood.'"

    This problem is even worse in Western Europe, a region with more elaborate welfare states than the USA and which has lived under the American military umbrella for generations, thus further enhancing the tendency for adolescent behavior.

    The question, which was indirectly raised by Alexis de Tocqueville in the 1830s in his book Democracy in America, is this: If democracy of universal suffrage means that everybody's opinion is as good as everybody else's, will this sooner or later turn into a society where everybody's choices are also as good as everybody else's, which leads to cultural relativism? Tocqueville wrote at a time when only men had the vote. Will universal suffrage also lead to a situation where women vote themselves into possession of men's finances while reducing their authority and creating powerful state regulation of everything?

    I don't know the answer to that. What I do know is that the current situation isn't sustainable. The absence of fatherhood has created a society full of social pathologies, and the lack of male self-confidence has made us easy prey for our enemies. If the West is to survive, we need to reassert a healthy dose of male authority. In order to do so we need to roll back the welfare state. Perhaps we need to roll back some of the excesses of Western Feminism, too.

    Fjordman is a noted Norwegian blogger who has written for many conservative web sites. He used to have his own Fjordman Blog in the past, but it is no longer active.
  4. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    When I began to work on this lecture a few months ago, I was feeling abashed because I knew I couldn't talk about either of the topics that were of the gravest national importance. Regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, I have not publicly said a word on foreign policy since I wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times in 1973. Regarding the economic crisis, I am not an economist. In fact, I am so naive about economics that I continue to think that we have a financial meltdown because the federal government, in its infinite wisdom, has for the last two administrations aggressively pushed policies that made it possible for clever people to get rich by lending money to people who were unlikely to pay it back.

    The topic I wanted to talk about was one that has been at the center of my own concerns for more than 20 years, but I was afraid it would seem remote from these urgent immediate issues. How times change. As of the morning of Feb. 24, this is the text I had written to introduce the topic: "It isn't usually put this way, but the advent of the Obama administration brings this question before the nation: Do we want the United States to be like Europe?" And then on the evening of the 24th, President Obama unveiled his domestic agenda to Congress, and now everybody is putting it that way. As Charles Krauthammer observed a few days later, "We've been trying to figure out who Barack Obama is, where he's really from. From Hawaii? Indonesia? The Ivy League? Chicago? Now we know: he's a Swede."

    In short, the question has suddenly become urgently relevant because President Obama and his leading intellectual heroes are the American equivalent of Europe's social democrats. There's nothing sinister about that. They share an intellectually respectable view that Europe's regulatory and social welfare systems are more progressive than America's and advocate reforms that would make the American system more like the European system.

    Not only are social democrats intellectually respectable, the European model has worked in many ways. I am delighted when I get a chance to go to Stockholm or Amsterdam, not to mention Rome or Paris. When I get there, the people don't seem to be groaning under the yoke of an evil system. Quite the contrary. There's a lot to like--a lot to love--about day-to-day life in Europe, something that should be kept in mind when I get to some less complimentary observations.

    The European model can't continue to work much longer. Europe's catastrophically low birthrates and soaring immigration from cultures with alien values will see to that. So let me rephrase the question. If we could avoid Europe's demographic problems, do we want the United States to be like Europe?

    Tonight I will argue for the answer "no," but not for economic reasons. The European model has indeed created sclerotic economies, and it would be a bad idea to imitate them. But I want to focus on another problem.

    My text is drawn from Federalist 62, probably written by James Madison: "A good government implies two things: first, fidelity to the object of government, which is the happiness of the people; secondly, a knowledge of the means by which that object can be best attained." Note the word: happiness. Not prosperity. Not security. Not equality. Happiness, which the Founders used in its Aristotelian sense of lasting and justified satisfaction with life as a whole.

    I have two points to make. First, I will argue that the European model is fundamentally flawed because, despite its material successes, it is not suited to the way that human beings flourish--it does not conduce to Aristotelian happiness. Second, I will argue that 21st-century science will prove me right.

    First, the problem with the European model, namely: It drains too much of the life from life. And that statement applies as much to the lives of janitors--even more to the lives of janitors--as it does to the lives of CEOs.

    I start from this premise: A human life can have transcendent meaning, with transcendence defined either by one of the world's great religions or one of the world's great secular philosophies. If transcendence is too big a word, let me put it another way: I suspect that almost all of you agree that the phrase "a life well-lived" has meaning. That's the phrase I'll use from now on.

    And since happiness is a word that gets thrown around too casually, the phrase I'll use from now on is "deep satisfactions." I'm talking about the kinds of things that we look back upon when we reach old age and let us decide that we can be proud of who we have been and what we have done. Or not.

    To become a source of deep satisfaction, a human activity has to meet some stringent requirements. It has to have been important (we don't get deep satisfaction from trivial things). You have to have put a lot of effort into it (hence the cliché "nothing worth having comes easily"). And you have to have been responsible for the consequences.

    There aren't many activities in life that can satisfy those three requirements. Having been a good parent. That qualifies. A good marriage. That qualifies. Having been a good neighbor and good friend to those whose lives intersected with yours. That qualifies. And having been really good at something--good at something that drew the most from your abilities. That qualifies. Let me put it formally: If we ask what are the institutions through which human beings achieve deep satisfactions in life, the answer is that there are just four: family, community, vocation and faith. Two clarifications: "Community" can embrace people who are scattered geographically. "Vocation" can include avocations or causes.

    It is not necessary for any individual to make use of all four institutions, nor do I array them in a hierarchy. I merely assert that these four are all there are. The stuff of life--the elemental events surrounding birth, death, raising children, fulfilling one's personal potential, dealing with adversity, intimate relationships--coping with life as it exists around us in all its richness--occurs within those four institutions.

    Seen in this light, the goal of social policy is to ensure that those institutions are robust and vital. And that's what's wrong with the European model. It doesn't do that. It enfeebles every single one of them.

    Put aside all the sophisticated ways of conceptualizing governmental functions and think of it in this simplistic way: Almost anything that government does in social policy can be characterized as taking some of the trouble out of things. Sometimes, taking the trouble out of things is a good idea. Having an effective police force takes some of the trouble out of walking home safely at night, and I'm glad it does.

    The problem is this: Every time the government takes some of the trouble out of performing the functions of family, community, vocation and faith, it also strips those institutions of some of their vitality--it drains some of the life from them. It's inevitable. Families are not vital because the day-to-day tasks of raising children and being a good spouse are so much fun, but because the family has responsibility for doing important things that won't get done unless the family does them. Communities are not vital because it's so much fun to respond to our neighbors' needs, but because the community has the responsibility for doing important things that won't get done unless the community does them. Once that imperative has been met--family and community really do have the action--then an elaborate web of social norms, expectations, rewards and punishments evolves over time that supports families and communities in performing their functions. When the government says it will take some of the trouble out of doing the things that families and communities evolved to do, it inevitably takes some of the action away from families and communities, and the web frays, and eventually disintegrates.

    If we knew that leaving these functions in the hands of families and communities led to legions of neglected children and neglected neighbors, and taking them away from families and communities led to happy children and happy neighbors, then it would be possible to say that the cost is worth it. But that's not what happened when the U.S. welfare state expanded. We have seen growing legions of children raised in unimaginably awful circumstances, not because of material poverty but because of dysfunctional families, and the collapse of functioning neighborhoods into Hobbesian all-against-all free-fire zones.

    Meanwhile, we have exacted costs that are seldom considered but are hugely important. Earlier, I said that the sources of deep satisfactions are the same for janitors as for CEOs, and I also said that people needed to do important things with their lives. When the government takes the trouble out of being a spouse and parent, it doesn't affect the sources of deep satisfaction for the CEO. Rather, it makes life difficult for the janitor. A man who is holding down a menial job and thereby supporting a wife and children is doing something authentically important with his life. He should take deep satisfaction from that, and be praised by his community for doing so. Think of all the phrases we used to have for it: "He is a man who pulls his own weight." "He's a good provider." If that same man lives under a system that says that the children of the woman he sleeps with will be taken care of whether or not he contributes, then that status goes away. I am not describing some theoretical outcome. I am describing American neighborhoods where, once, working at a menial job to provide for his family made a man proud and gave him status in his community, and where now it doesn't. I could give a half dozen other examples. Taking the trouble out of the stuff of life strips people--already has stripped people--of major ways in which human beings look back on their lives and say, "I made a difference."

    I have been making a number of claims with no data. The data exist. I could document the role of the welfare state in destroying the family in low-income communities. I could cite extensive quantitative evidence of decline in civic engagement and document the displacement effect that government intervention has had on civic engagement. But such evidence focuses on those near the bottom of society where the American welfare state has been most intrusive. If we want to know where America as a whole is headed--its destination--we should look to Europe.

    Drive through rural Sweden, as I did a few years ago. In every town was a beautiful Lutheran church, freshly painted, on meticulously tended grounds, all subsidized by the Swedish government. And the churches are empty. Including on Sundays. Scandinavia and Western Europe pride themselves on their "child-friendly" policies, providing generous child allowances, free day-care centers and long maternity leaves. Those same countries have fertility rates far below replacement and plunging marriage rates. Those same countries are ones in which jobs are most carefully protected by government regulation and mandated benefits are most lavish. And they, with only a few exceptions, are countries where work is most often seen as a necessary evil, least often seen as a vocation, and where the proportions of people who say they love their jobs are the lowest.

    What's happening? Call it the Europe Syndrome. Last April I had occasion to speak in Zurich, where I made some of these same points. After the speech, a few of the 20-something members of the audience approached and said plainly that the phrase "a life well-lived" did not have meaning for them. They were having a great time with their current sex partner and new BMW and the vacation home in Majorca, and saw no voids in their lives that needed filling.

    It was fascinating to hear it said to my face, but not surprising. It conformed to both journalistic and scholarly accounts of a spreading European mentality. Let me emphasize "spreading." I'm not talking about all Europeans, by any means. That mentality goes something like this: Human beings are a collection of chemicals that activate and, after a period of time, deactivate. The purpose of life is to while away the intervening time as pleasantly as possible.

    If that's the purpose of life, then work is not a vocation, but something that interferes with the higher good of leisure. If that's the purpose of life, why have a child, when children are so much trouble--and, after all, what good are they, really? If that's the purpose of life, why spend it worrying about neighbors? If that's the purpose of life, what could possibly be the attraction of a religion that says otherwise?

    The same self-absorption in whiling away life as pleasantly as possible explains why Europe has become a continent that no longer celebrates greatness. When life is a matter of whiling away the time, the concept of greatness is irritating and threatening. What explains Europe's military impotence? I am surely simplifying, but this has to be part of it: If the purpose of life is to while away the time as pleasantly as possible, what can be worth dying for?

    I stand in awe of Europe's past. Which makes Europe's present all the more dispiriting. And should make its present something that concentrates our minds wonderfully, for every element of the Europe Syndrome is infiltrating American life as well.

    We are seeing that infiltration appear most obviously among those who are most openly attached to the European model--namely, America's social democrats, heavily represented in university faculties and the most fashionable neighborhoods of our great cities. There are a whole lot of them within a couple of Metro stops from this hotel. We know from databases such as the General Social Survey that among those who self-identify as liberal or extremely liberal, secularism is close to European levels. Birthrates are close to European levels. Charitable giving is close to European levels. (That's material that Arthur Brooks has put together.) There is every reason to believe that when Americans embrace the European model, they begin to behave like Europeans.

    This is all pretty depressing for people who do not embrace the European model, because it looks like the train has left the station. The European model provides the intellectual framework for the social policies of the triumphant Democratic Party, and it faces no credible opposition from Republican politicians. (If that seems too harsh, I am sure that the Republican politicians in the audience will understand when I say that the last dozen years do raise a credibility problem when we now hear you say nice things about fiscal restraint and limited government.)

    And yet there is reason for strategic optimism, and that leads to the second point I want to make tonight: Critics of the European model are about to get a lot of new firepower. Not only is the European model inimical to human flourishing, 21st-century science is going to explain why. We who think that the Founders were right about the relationship of government to human happiness will have an opening over the course of the next few decades to make our case.

    The reason is a tidal change in our scientific understanding of what makes human beings tick. It will spill over into every crevice of political and cultural life. Harvard's Edward O. Wilson anticipated what is to come in a book entitled "Consilience." As the 21st century progresses, he argued, the social sciences are increasingly going to be shaped by the findings of biology; specifically, the findings of the neuroscientists and the geneticists.

    What are they finding? I'm afraid that I don't have anything to report that you will find shocking. For example, science is proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that males and females respond differently to babies. You heard it here first. The specific findings aren't so important at this point--we are just at the beginning of a very steep learning curve. Rather, it is the tendency of the findings that lets us predict with some confidence the broad outlines of what the future will bring, and they offer nothing but bad news for social democrats.

    Two premises about human beings are at the heart of the social democratic agenda: what I will label "the equality premise" and "the New Man premise."

    The equality premise says that, in a fair society, different groups of people--men and women, blacks and whites, straights and gays, the children of poor people and the children of rich people--will naturally have the same distributions of outcomes in life--the same mean income, the same mean educational attainment, the same proportions who become janitors and CEOs. When that doesn't happen, it is because of bad human behavior and an unfair society. For the last 40 years, this premise has justified thousands of pages of government regulations and legislation that has reached into everything from the paperwork required to fire someone to the funding of high school wrestling teams. Everything that we associate with the phrase "politically correct" eventually comes back to the equality premise. Every form of affirmative action derives from it. Much of the Democratic Party's proposed domestic legislation assumes that it is true.

    Within a decade, no one will try to defend the equality premise. All sorts of groups will be known to differ in qualities that affect what professions they choose, how much money they make, and how they live their lives in all sorts of ways. Gender differences will be first, because the growth in knowledge about the ways that men and women are different is growing by far the most rapidly. I'm betting that the Harvard faculty of the year 2020 will look back on the Larry Summers affair in the same way that they think about the Scopes trial--the enlightened versus the benighted--and will have achieved complete amnesia about their own formerly benighted opinions.


    There is no reason to fear this new knowledge. Differences among groups will cut in many different directions, and everybody will be able to weight the differences so that their group's advantages turn out to be the most important to them. Liberals will not be obliged to give up their concerns about systemic unfairnesses. But groups of people will turn out to be different from each other, on average, and those differences will also produce group differences in outcomes in life, on average, that everyone knows are not the product of discrimination and inadequate government regulation.

    And a void will have developed in the moral universe of the left. If social policy cannot be built on the premise that group differences must be eliminated, what can it be built upon? It can be built upon the restoration of the premise that used to be part of the warp and woof of American idealism: People must be treated as individuals. The success of social policy is to be measured not by equality of outcomes for groups, but by open, abundant opportunity for individuals. It is to be measured by the freedom of individuals, acting upon their personal abilities, aspirations and values, to seek the kind of life that best suits them.

    The second bedrock premise of the social democratic agenda is what I call the New Man premise, borrowing the old Communist claim that it would create a "New Man" by remaking human nature. This premise says that human beings are malleable through the right government interventions.

    The second tendency of the new findings of biology will be to show that the New Man premise is nonsense. Human nature tightly constrains what is politically or culturally possible. More than that, the new findings will broadly confirm that human beings are pretty much the way that wise human observers have thought for thousands of years, and that is going to be wonderful news for those of us who are already basing our policy analyses on that assumption.

    The effects on the policy debate are going to be sweeping. Let me give you a specific example. For many years, I have been among those who argue that the growth in births to unmarried women has been a social catastrophe--the single most important driving force behind the growth of the underclass. But while I and other scholars have been able to prove that other family structures have not worked as well as the traditional family, I cannot prove that alternatives could not work as well, and so the social democrats keep coming up with the next new ingenious program that will compensate for the absence of fathers.

    Over the next few decades, advances in evolutionary psychology are going to be conjoined with advances in genetic understanding and they will lead to a scientific consensus that goes something like this: There are genetic reasons, rooted in the mechanisms of human evolution, that little boys who grow up in neighborhoods without married fathers tend to reach adolescence unsocialized to norms of behavior that they will need to stay out of prison and hold jobs. These same reasons explain why child abuse is, and always will be, concentrated among family structures in which the live-in male is not the married biological father. And these same reasons explain why society's attempts to compensate for the lack of married biological fathers don't work and will never work.

    Once again, there's no reason to be frightened of this new knowledge. We will still be able to acknowledge that many single women do a wonderful job of raising their children. Social democrats will simply have to stop making glib claims that the traditional family is just one of many equally valid alternatives. They will have to acknowledge that the traditional family plays a special, indispensable role in human flourishing and that social policy must be based on that truth. The same concrete effects of the new knowledge will make us rethink every domain in which the central government has imposed its judgment on how people ought to live their lives--in schools, workplaces, the courts, social services, as well as the family. And that will make the job of people like me much easier.

    But the real effect is going to be much more profound than making my job easier. The 20th century was a very strange century, riddled from beginning to end with toxic political movements and nutty ideas. For some years a metaphor has been stuck in my mind: the twentieth century was the adolescence of Homo sapiens. Nineteenth-century science, from Darwin to Freud, offered a series of body blows to ways of thinking about human beings and human lives that had prevailed since the dawn of civilization. Humans, just like adolescents, were deprived of some of the comforting simplicities of childhood and exposed to more complex knowledge about the world. And 20th-century intellectuals reacted precisely the way that adolescents react when they think they have discovered Mom and Dad are hopelessly out of date. They think that the grown-ups are wrong about everything. In the case of 20th-century intellectuals, it was as if they thought that if Darwin was right about evolution, then Aquinas is no longer worth reading; that if Freud was right about the unconscious mind, the "Nicomachean Ethics" had nothing to teach us.

    The nice thing about adolescence is that it is temporary, and, when it passes, people discover that their parents were smarter than they thought. I think that may be happening with the advent of the new century, as postmodernist answers to solemn questions about human existence start to wear thin--we're growing out of adolescence. The kinds of scientific advances in understanding human nature are going to accelerate that process. All of us who deal in social policy will be thinking less like adolescents, entranced with the most titillating new idea, and thinking more like grown-ups.

    That will not get rid of the slippery slope that America is sliding down toward the European model. For that, this new raw material for reform--namely, a lot more people thinking like grown-ups--must be translated into a kind of political Great Awakening among America's elites.

    I use the phrase "Great Awakening" to evoke a particular kind of event. American history has seen three religious revivals known as Great Awakenings--some say four. They were not dispassionate, polite reconsiderations of opinions. They were renewals of faith, felt in the gut.

    I use the word "elites" to talk about the small minority of the population that has disproportionate influence over the culture, economy and governance of the country. I realize that to use that word makes many Americans uncomfortable. But every society since the advent of agriculture has had elites. So does the United States. Broadly defined, America's elites comprise several million people; narrowly defined, they amount to a few tens of thousands. We have a lot of examples of both kinds in this room tonight.

    When I say that something akin to a political Great Awakening is required among America's elites, what I mean is that America's elites have to ask themselves how much they really do value what has made America exceptional, and what they are willing to do to preserve it. Let me close with a few remarks about what that will entail.

    American exceptionalism is not just something that Americans claim for themselves. Historically, Americans have been different as a people, even peculiar, and everyone around the world has recognized it. I'm thinking of qualities such as American optimism even when there doesn't seem to be any good reason for it. That's quite uncommon among the peoples of the world. There is the striking lack of class envy in America--by and large, Americans celebrate others' success instead of resenting it. That's just about unique, certainly compared to European countries, and something that drives European intellectuals crazy. And then there is perhaps the most important symptom of all, the signature of American exceptionalism--the assumption by most Americans that they are in control of their own destinies. It is hard to think of a more inspiriting quality for a population to possess, and the American population still possesses it to an astonishing degree. No other country comes close.

    Underlying these symptoms of American exceptionalism are the underlying exceptional dynamics of American life. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote a famous book describing the nature of that more fundamental exceptionalism back in the 1830s. He found American life characterized by two apparently conflicting themes. The first was the passion with which Americans pursued their individual interests, and made no bones about it--that's what America was all about, they kept telling Tocqueville. But at the same time, Tocqueville kept coming up against this phenomenal American passion for forming associations to deal with every conceivable problem, voluntarily taking up public affairs, and tending to the needs of their communities. How could this be? Because, Americans told Tocqueville, there's no conflict. "In the United States," Tocqueville writes, "hardly anybody talks of the beauty of virtue. . . . They do not deny that every man may follow his own interest; but they endeavor to prove that it is the interest of every man to be virtuous." And then he concludes, "I shall not here enter into the reasons they allege. . . . Suffice it to say, they have convinced their fellow countrymen."

    The exceptionalism has not been a figment of anyone's imagination, and it has been wonderful. But it isn't something in the water that has made us that way. It comes from the cultural capital generated by the system that the Founders laid down, a system that says people must be free to live life as they see fit and to be responsible for the consequences of their actions; that it is not the government's job to protect people from themselves; that it is not the government's job to stage-manage how people interact with each other. Discard the system that created the cultural capital, and the qualities we love about Americans can go away. In some circles, they are going away.

    Why do I focus on the elites in urging a Great Awakening? Because my sense is that the instincts of middle America remain distinctively American. When I visit the small Iowa town where I grew up in the 1950s, I don't get a sense that community life has changed all that much since then, and I wonder if it has changed all that much in the working-class neighborhoods of Brooklyn or Queens. When I examine the polling data about the values that most Americans prize, not a lot has changed. And while I worry about uncontrolled illegal immigration, I've got to say that every immigrant I actually encounter seems as American as apple pie.

    The center still holds. It's the bottom and top of American society where we have a problem. And since it's the top that has such decisive influence on American culture, economy, and governance, I focus on it. The fact is that American elites have increasingly been withdrawing from American life. It's not a partisan phenomenon. The elites of all political stripes have increasingly withdrawn to gated communities--"gated" literally or figuratively--where they never interact at an intimate level with people not of their own socioeconomic class.

    Haven't the elites always done this? Not like today. A hundred years ago, the wealth necessary to withdraw was confined to a much smaller percentage of the elites than now. Workplaces where the elites made their livings were much more variegated a hundred years ago than today's highly specialized workplaces.

    Perhaps the most important difference is that, not so long ago, the overwhelming majority of the elites in each generation were drawn from the children of farmers, shopkeepers and factory workers--and could still remember those worlds after they left them. Over the last half century, it can be demonstrated empirically that the new generation of elites have increasingly spent their entire lives in the upper-middle-class bubble, never even having seen a factory floor, let alone worked on one, never having gone to a grocery store and bought the cheap ketchup instead of the expensive ketchup to meet a budget, never having had a boring job where their feet hurt at the end of the day, and never having had a close friend who hadn't gotten at least 600 on her SAT verbal. There's nobody to blame for any of this. These are the natural consequences of successful people looking for pleasant places to live and trying to do the best thing for their children.

    But the fact remains: It is the elites who are increasingly separated from the America over which they have so much influence. That is not the America that Tocqueville saw. It is not an America that can remain America.

    I am not suggesting that America's elites sacrifice their own self-interest for everybody else. That would be really un-American. I just want to accelerate a rediscovery of what that self-interest is. Age-old human wisdom has understood that a life well-lived requires engagement with those around us. That is reality, not idealism. It is appropriate to think that a political Great Awakening among the elites can arise in part from the renewed understanding that it can be pleasant to lead a glossy life, but it is ultimately more fun to lead a textured life, and to be in the midst of others who are leading textured lives. Perhaps events will help us out here--remember what Irving Kristol has been saying for years: "There's nothing wrong with this country that couldn't be cured by a long, hard depression."

    What it comes down to is that America's elites must once again fall in love with what makes America different. I am not being theoretical. Not everybody in this room shares the beliefs I have been expressing, but a lot of us do. To those of you who do, I say soberly and without hyperbole, that this is the hour. The possibility that irreversible damage will be done to the American project over the next few years is real. And so it is our job to make the case for that reawakening. It won't happen by appealing to people on the basis of lower marginal tax rates or keeping a health care system that lets them choose their own doctor. The drift toward the European model can be slowed by piecemeal victories on specific items of legislation, but only slowed. It is going to be stopped only when we are all talking again about why America is exceptional, and why it is so important that America remain exceptional. That requires once again seeing the American project for what it is: a different way for people to live together, unique among the nations of the earth, and immeasurably precious.

    Mr. Murray is the W. H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the recipient of AEI's 2009 Irving Kristol Award. He delivered this lecture at the award dinner earlier this month.
  5. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Like most people I knew the bare bones of this story, but this piece blew my mind:

    The Brilliant Wisdom of King Solomon
    By: Baruch C. Cohen1

    The Book of Kings [Melachim 1 3:12] states that Israel's great King Solomon was twelve years old when God promised him that he would be granted great wisdom. He turned out to be the wisest man ever to live. As an illustration of the fulfillment of this blessing of wisdom, the Book of Kings reports the following account of a case that was brought before King Solomon's court in Jerusalem.

    Two women came to King Solomon and stood before him. One woman (#1) said: "My Lord, this woman and I dwell in the same house, and I gave birth to a child while with her in the house. On the third day after I gave birth, she also gave birth. We live together; there is no outsider with us in the house; only the two of us were there. The son of this woman died during the night because she lay upon him. She arose during the night and took my son from my side while I was asleep, and lay him in her bosom, and her dead son she laid in my bosom. when I got up in the morning to nurse my son, behold, he was dead! But when I observed him (later on) in the morning, I realized that he was not my son to whom I had given birth!"

    The other woman (#2) replied: "It is not so! My son is the live one and your son is the dead one!"

    The first woman (#1) responded: "It is not so! Your son is the dead one and my son is the living one!"

    They argued before King Solomon.

    King Solomon said: "this woman (#2) claims 'My son is the live one and your son is the dead one, 'and this woman (#1) claims 'Your son is the dead one and my son is the living one!"'

    King Solomon said, "Bring me a sword!" So they brought a sword before the King. The King said, "Cut the living child in two, and give half to one and half to the other"

    The woman (#2) turned to the King, because her compassion was aroused for her son, and said: "Please my Lord, give her the living child and do not kill it!"

    But the other woman (#1) said: "Neither mine nor yours shall he be. Cut!"

    The King spoke up and said: "Give her (#2) the living child, and do not kill it, for she is his mother!" All of Israel heard the judgment that the King had judged. They had great awe for the King, for they saw that the wisdom of God was within him to do justice. [I Melachim 3:16 - 27]. The woman was rightfully awarded custody of her son.

    It should be noted, that King Solomon's was the first major recorded and published decision in the history of legal jurisprudence, and I believe that with the help of the commentaries, one can begin to appreciate the magnificent depth of his wisdom.

    Some say that King Solomon truly knew who was the real mother as soon as he saw the two women. This was the nature of the special divine wisdom that God gave him. As King Solomon was able to understand the speech of the animals and the birds, so he could see the truth in someone's face. His knowledge was of Divine origin. It was infallible.

    According to the Abarbanel and Metzudas David, King Solomon studied the countenance of each woman as they presented their claims and counter-claims, and by means of his penetrating and heavenly wisdom, understood which of the two women was telling the truth.

    Still, to prove this to the people, he had to demonstrate it in a way that everyone would acknowledge. Perhaps that is why he pretended not to know who said what, and repeated their arguments in reverse order, by repeating Woman #2's argument first, and Woman #1's argument second.

    He even pretended to apply the well-known law of dividing disputed property. If two people come to court holding on to the ends of a piece of clothing, and each claims it to be his, the court divides it and gives each one half. King Solomon seemed to pretend to be ignorant of the many complicated details of this law, and to think that it applied to babies as well, which would have been ridiculously simpleminded. No judge would ever make such a foolish mistake. Yet, he succeeded in convincing the two women that he was serious.

    Nonetheless, he was careful not to let the trick go too far. He specifically commanded his servants to bring the sword to him, not to give it to one of the guards. They too, were no doubt fooled and he did not want them to divide the baby before he had a chance to stop them. In fact, the King's ministers said "Woe to you Oh Land, whose king is but a boy!" They thought "what has God done to us to give us such a king? How long will we have to suffer with such foolish judgments?" But afterwards, when they saw the women's reactions they knew that he had recently received Divine inspiration and rejoiced saying "Happy are you, oh Land, whose king is a free man!" - i.e., one who studies Torah (Koheles - Ecclesiastes 10:16-17).

    King Solomon's trick succeeded. The imposter revealed herself by her heartless cruelty. After all, no mother would have let her own child be killed just to spite another woman.

    But how could King Solomon have been sure the other woman would not also have mercy on the child? Wouldn't most people break down in such a situation and relinquish their claims? What sort of person would want to be responsible for the death of an innocent child, even if it were not her own?

    Perhaps this was an aspect of the depth of King Solomon's insight - he knew that no normal mother lies on her own child and crushes him in her sleep. Babies always sleep with their mothers and fathers, yet this never happens, for perhaps God implants within a human being an innate sensitivity that prevents her from doing such a thing. A woman who lies on her child must be lacking basic human feeling, and such a person would certainly have no mercy on the child of another. According to the Abarbanel, perhaps such a woman developed a blood lust and possessed a cruel desire to see another life snuffed out.

    And what of the compassionate one? Was it not possible that she was acting cunningly to impress the King with a false sense of motherly commiseration?

    Notwithstanding the outcome, many believe that Woman #1 still made a convincing and persuasive argument. She made it clear that there were no witnesses because they lived alone. Perhaps she suspected that Solomon would be able to tell how old the baby was and identify the mother. According to the Radak and the Metsudas David, her argument was bolstered by the claim that no one else knew the identities of the babies, nor had one been sick, that the neighbors might remember whose baby it was. When she first got up, it was still dark. She could not recognize the baby, so she did not suspect that it was not hers. All she knew was that it was dead. But when it got light, she saw it and realized what had happened. She asserted that her baby boy was born three days earlier, and therefore there was some reliable distinction available.

    Woman #2 had only a brief presentation and did not claim to have any proof. She simply said that the child was hers. All she did was state her case.

    Based on the first round of oral arguments, it would appear that Woman #1 had the better claim, and that she was the real mother.

    It is noteworthy, that the women did not bring the corpse of the dead child for further identification. Perhaps the child was buried already, or its features were already changed making recognition difficult.

    Yet, as the women's dispute continued, their respective positions seemed to change ever so slightly. There was something disturbing and disingenuous about the way in which Woman #1 continued arguing her case, in that she subsequently seemed less concerned with having a live child and focused more on the other having the dead one. The fact that she mentioned the dead child first, in itself, was an indication of this ("It is not so! Your son is the dead one and my son is the living one!").

    Woman #2, by contrast, always spoke of her own son first ("No. my son is the living one and your son is the dead one"). It seemed as if her heart was with her son. She spoke out of love and was apparently heartbroken at the thought of potentially losing her child.

    According to the Devorim Rabah, King Solomon then repeated the arguments of both women, verbatim, without adding anything, making sure that he properly understood the arguments of both sides, listening carefully, and if there was anything that he misunderstood, the women had an opportunity to correct him.

    King Solomon's wisdom surely gave him the insight to foresee that the real mother (#2) would recoil in terror when she heard of his intention to kill the infant, nevertheless, could his wisdom have possibly predicted the liar (#1)'s response - to comply with this grotesque compromise?

    Second, the woman who was lying (#1) was initially interested in taking the living child for herself, otherwise she never would have asserted such a bold and aggressive claim.

    As soon as the real mother offered to let the liar keep the child in order to spare its life, the liar should have accepted the real mother offer's and kept the child. She could have played up her victory by saying: "Aha! She admits that the baby was truly mine all along! She is a kidnapper but not a murderer. The baby is mine." Instead, she did something totally unpredictable. She refused saying "Neither mine nor yours shall he be. Cut."

    I have always wondered what made her suddenly lose interest in having the child for herself?

    A brilliant and original answer to these questions is offered by Rabbi Mordechai Kornfeld of

    Har Nof Jerusalem, of the Shmayisroel Torah Network (, who cited two 13th century commentators: Rav Yehoshua Ibn Shu'ib in his Drasha for Parshas Mishpatim, and Rav Menachem HaMeiri in his commentary to Yevamos 17a; and another 14th century commentator, the author of Shemen Rokeach and Sha'arHachazokas. They believe that in order to understand the real story behind King Solomon's decision, an understanding of the laws of Yibbum is necessary.

    The Torah describes the practice of Yibbum in the Parsha of Ki Setzei (Devarim 25:5,7,9):

    "If there are brothers, and one of them dies without children, the wife of the deceased man may not marry out to another man. Her brother-in-law (her deceased husband's brother) must marry her and thus perform Yibbum on her ... If the man does not want to marry her, she shall approach the elders and declare 'My brother-in-law refuses to establish his brother's name in Israel; he does not consent to perform Yibbum on me'

    ... Then she shall approach him in the presence of the elders and remove his shoe from his foot, and spit in front of him and proclaim "Such should be done to a man who would not build up his brother's house!"

    Yibbum is a Halachic rite which must be performed when a man who has a living brother dies childless. If this uncommon situation occurs, the widow must not remarry unless one of two actions are taken - either she must marry the brother of the deceased or she must be released from the obligation of marrying her brother-in-law by having him perform the Chalitzah ("removing" of the shoe) ceremony.

    It is obviously uncomfortable for a woman to be trapped in this situation, wherein she would be subject to the will of another man. Her brother-in-law may not be locatable, compliant or appealing.

    There are several fundamental laws concerning the childless nature of the deceased and the age of the bother that control whether Yibbum applies:

    1. Rule #1: The man must die childless. According to the Talmud Yevamos 87b, Dying childless includes instances where a man once had children, but these children were already dead at the time of his own death.
    2. Rule #2: Grandchildren: According to the Talmud Yevamos 70a, if the deceased man has no living children but he does have living grandchildren, he is not considered to be childless, and therefore, there is no Yibbum obligation.
    3. Rule #3: Offspring: According to Talmud Yevamos 11 lb and Shabbos 136a, if the deceased left behind any offspring at all, there is no Yibbum - even if the offspring is only one day old. Even if the offspring is still a viable fetus at the time of the husband's death, its mother is exempted from being bound to the living brother. If the fetus is a stillborn or is aborted, or dies, or is killed before it lived for thirty days, it is not considered to have ever been a viable offspring, and Yibbum would be required.
    4. Rule #4: Brother-In-Law: According to the Talmud Yevamos 17b, the widow is obligated to marry her deceased husband's brother. If the deceased husband does not leave a living brother, his wife is free to marry whoever she pleases.
    5. Rule #5: Minor: According to the Talmud Yevamos 1 05b, if the brother of the deceased is a minor, the widow is still bound to him, and does not have the option of freeing herself through Chalitzah since a minor lacks capacity to perform the ceremony. Instead she must wait until the brother reaches the age of majority (Bar Mitzvah 13) in order for him to render Chalitzah at that time. Only then may she remarry. According to the Talmud Niddah 45a if she wants to marry him, she must wait until he reaches 9 years of age.

    We now return to King Solomon's judgment.

    The Midrash (Koheles Rabah 10:16) tells us that the reason both of these women were so desperate to have the living child declared theirs was that they were both potential Yevamos (widows subject to Yibbum). Neither of the two had any other offspring. Whoever would be judged to be the childless woman would not only lose the infant, but would also be trapped in the unpleasant status of Yevamah, being dependent upon her brother-in-law's good will.

    The Midrash (Yalknt Shimoni 2:175) asserts that the husbands of the two women were father and son, making the two women, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law to each other.

    According to the Meiri in his commentary to Yevamos 17a, the two Midrashim may be complementing each other - thanks to our 5-rule Yibbum analysis.

    The two women - mother-in-law and daughter-in-law - had just lost their husbands, and needed a live child to exempt them from the status of a Yevamah. Both women gave birth to babies. However, these two babies were still less than 30 days old at the time that one of them died. The mother of the dead child would therefore be subject to the laws of Yibbum (Rule #3). This was the lying mother's motivation for taking the other woman's child.

    If it were the mother-in-law's child who had died, she would have no incentive to kidnap her daughter-in-law's child. Even though her son (the deceased husband of her daughter-in-law) had passed away before her own husband had, and therefore he would not exempt her from Yibbum (Rule #1), nevertheless, she would be exempt from Yibbum for another reason. The living child was her son's child, and a grandchild exempts one from Yibbum (Rule #2).

    Only the daughter-in-law had the motive to lie and try to claim that the child was hers. If it was her baby who had died within 30 days of its birth, leaving her childless, she would have been bound to her husband's brother as a Yevamah (Rule #4) - and that brother would have been -none other than the living baby (who was in fact her mother-in-law's child - i.e., her deceased husband's bother)! Since her brother-in-law was a newborn, the daughter-in-law would have had to wait 13 years before this baby would be able to perform Chalitzah on her and free her to remarry (Rule #5).

    King Solomon realized all of this and suspected that since the only one with a strong motive to lie was the daughter-in-law, the child must really belong to the mother-in-law.

    Perhaps this also explains why King Solomon ordered that the child be cut in half.

    If the remaining child were to be killed, this too would free the daughter-in-law from her Yevamah status - since the living baby was her only brother-in-law (Rule #3). From the daughter-in-law's perspective, in fact, killing the child would result in a better solution for her. By just kidnaping the child she might have convinced the earthly court that she was not a Yevamah. However, she herself would know that the child was not really hers and that she really was not permitted to remarry, until Chalitzah was performed. By having the baby killed, though, she would truthfully be released from the bonds of Yibbum.

    This is the reason the daughter-in-law suddenly lost interest in keeping the child when she saw that King Solomon was ready to cut the child in half. This would serve her interests even more if she took the child for herself. Therefore she insisted: "Cut!"

    Young King Solomon guessed that this would be the woman's reaction. By tricking her into making a seemingly ludicrous statement, he revealed her true motives and that she was lying.

    This is why, "All of Israel heard the judgment that the King had judged. They had great awe for the King, for they saw that the wisdom of God was within him to do justice."


    Baruch C. Cohen's practice includes all aspects of creditors' and debtors' rights, corporate reorganizations, personal bankruptcies, and all types of bankruptcy litigation in state, federal and bankruptcy courts.
  6. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Something I wrote in 2006:
    Woof All:

    This matter of the live hand is one of interest to me. This is how we organize the thinking in Dog Brothers Martial Arts. Naturally, it is A way, not THE way.

    For me it began with noticing that Top Dog frequently based his initial impressions of someone's movement in great part upon the quality of the movement of their live hand. For example, his first comment upon seeing some footage of GM Tatang Ilustrisimo doing single sword that PG Edgar had given me was "Great left hand!"

    At the time I thought it odd, but gradually came to understand this as a matter of the whole body working as an integrated whole.

    Top Dog relentlessly commented on my dangling live hand. I took to calling it the "limp" hand so as to provoke myself into doing something about it ;-)

    Over time I came to see three common types of weakness with regard to the live hand.

    a) the limp hand
    b) the "Errol Flynn"-- flapping about behind the fighter as if he were some deranged version of Errol Flynn in a sword fight in a pirate movie
    c) the "frozen hand"-- locked into position somewhere, often on the chest, with that whole quadrant of the body being shut down.

    As a teacher, my particular bias is to install things correctly from the very beginning-- my sense of how people learn is that it can be very difficult to change first habits. For example, my son's pre-kindergarten teacher sat facing her students when she taught them to write and thoughtfully drew her letters so that the lines would appear to them as drawn top to bottom, left to right. Of course to accomplish this for herself she was drawing the lines bottom to top and right to left. My son cleverly saw this and learned to write exactly as she did: BOTTOM to TOP and RIGHT to LEFT. Arrrgghh. Naturally his handwriting was terrible.
    Arrrgghh. The struggles we have gone through to get this out of his system have been considerable. Arrrgghh.

    Because of the strong emphasis on bilateralism in DBMA (quite a subject in its own right) we seek to get two birds with one stone by teaching/learning single stick motions on the complementary side first (e.g. a righty would learn the motions with his left hand first). Apart from the benefits in bilateralism from this approach in getting the complementary hand able to move well when called upon to act in the dominant function, it also makes for the practitioner used to using well that quadrant of his body when the stick is moved to the naturally dominant side (a transposition which occurs easily and quickly when moving from complementary to dominant side, but not vice versa). In other words, even though only the dominant hand is holding a weapon, the primary modality is that the live hand moves just as much.

    It is only at this point (i.e. the achievement of an integrated live hand) that long and short motions are trained in their own right. (As conceived in the theory of DBMA, single stick is a subcategory of long and short-- the live hand being the short.) As some of the previous posts have pointed out in this thread, important issues must be solved in order to not slash or
    stab oneself. For the moment I limit myself to pointing out that, for
    example, a worthy ice pick stab requires the complementary hand to act well in the dominant function-- in a manner very similar to throwing a ball and this teaching/learning methodology is designed to install just such a skill.

    This is not the only way to go about it. Guro Inosanto, whose first three areas are single stick/sword/etc, double, and Long and short, has commented more than once that for Manong John LaCoste that L&S was the first area, double the second, and single the third area and has said that if he had it to do over again he would do it as Manong LaCoste did.

    I've never heard him explain why, but my guess is that when we learn single first, the disparity between the dominant and complementary hand tends to be increased, but if we learn L&S first, the complementary hand is fully integrated with the dominant from the beginning.

    The Adventure continues,
    Guro Crafty
  7. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Some thoughts from a few years ago:

    Nature or Nuture? Yes.
    by Guro Crafty

    From conception to death, there is no dichotomy between nature and nuture, there is simply a continuum.

    Man is unique in that he is genetically born requiring language and culture.

    ... Konrad Lorenz makes the point that our evolutionarily developed make-up is intended for us both to survive in nature (including inter-species competition) and to compete with each other (Intra-species competition). Because of the development of language, we now accumulate culture at an accelerating rate with the net result that we no longer live in nature--our culture itself has become our eco-system/environment-- all our interactions now are intra-species. Our inter-species behaviors, which do continue to operate, do so in an intra-species environment. In other words, the behavioral proclivities which were intended for man in nature now function in an eco-system devoid of nature i.e. most of us simply interact with other humans-- most of whom are quite anonymous to us--which also is inconsistent with our evolutionary nature.

    The culture we impart should be in harmony with the nature with which we are born. For example, we should not seek to feminize boys, or create feminazis out of girls. What we should do is educate each in a manner harmonious to the relative strengths and weaknesses of each.

    The underlying tension of our time is between our nature intended for nature and the fact that our culture, which has become the "nature" in which we live, evolves more quickly than our genetics.

    Out of this tension much evil arises.

    Does this make sense?
  8. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    And here's another one, this one by Konrad Lorenz (after whom my son is named)

    "The culture preserving and,consequently, life sustaining function of this mechanism has, however, as a necessary precondition, something similar to a state of equilibrium between the immutability of old traditions and the capacity for adaptability through which throwing overboard certain parts of the traditional inheritance cannot be avoided. A preponderance of that which is conservative causes exactly the same result in the biological development of species as in the development of cultures-- the formation of "living fossils"; an overabundance of variability, on the other hand, causes in both the formation of abnormalities. As examples of such maldevelopments in social behavior can be cited the emergence of such phenomena as terrorism and the current popularity of quite inept religious sects." --p.62

    "It is an error to believe that after the form and content of an old culture are thrown overboard a new and better,ready made one will quite naturally be brought into being to take its place instantaneously. We must seriously confront the sobering fact that there is no purpose oriented predeterminism of what happens in our world to protect our culture. We must be clearly aware that we humans, ourselves, bear the burden of responsibility for preserving our culture both from erroneous developments and from rigidity." -p.64
  9. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

  10. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    There is a classic Jewish tale about an old rabbi in Russia, who would visit a synagogue near the town square every morning. Not a day passed that he skipped this routine. An anti-Semitic policeman who hated the sight of the rabbi desperately sought to find a reason to justify imprisoning him.

    One morning, as the rabbi approached the town square, the policeman walked up to him and asked, “Sir, may I know where you are going?”

    The rabbi replied, “I don’t know.”

    The policeman seized on this and said, “Old man, you are lying to me. I know you are going to that synagogue over there. I have seen you every day. I’m going to arrest you for lying to a member of the police force.”

    The policeman took the rabbi to the nearest police station and put him in one of the cells. As he was locking the door, the policeman proudly remarked, “Now you foolish man you will realize never again to lie to me.”

    The rabbi replied, “My son, I have no idea why you claim I lied to you. I told you I didn’t know where I was going. Indeed I did not – I thought I was going to synagogue but, as you can see, it turned out I was going to jail.”
  11. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Modern Wisdom from Ancient Minds

    Victor Davis Hanson - December 18, 2012

    The Tragic View

    Of course we can acquire a sense of man’s predictable fragilities from religion, the Judeo-Christian view in particular, or from the school of hard knocks. Losing a grape crop to rain a day before harvest, or seeing a warehouse full of goods go up in smoke the week before their sale, or being diagnosed with leukemia on the day of a long-awaited promotion convinces even the most naïve optimist that the world sort of works in tragic ways that we must accept, but do not fully understand.

    Yet classical literature is the one of the oldest and most abstract guides to us that there are certain parameters that we may seek to overcome, but must also accept that we ultimately cannot.

    You Can’t Stop Aging, Nancy

    Take the modern obsession with beauty and aging, two human facts that all the Viagra and surgery in the world cannot change. I expect few readers have endured something like the Joe Biden makeover or the Nancy Pelosi facial fix (I thought those on the Left were more inclined to the natural way? Something is not very green and egalitarian about spending gads of money for something so unnatural). Most of you accept wrinkles, creaky joints, and thinning hair. Oh, we exercise and try to keep in shape and youthful, but a Clint Eastwood seems preferable looking to us than a stretched and stitched Sylvester Stallone.

    The Greek lyric poets, from Solon to Mimnermus, taught that there is nothing really “golden” about old age. That did not mean that at about age 50-70 one is not both wiser than at 20 and less susceptible to the destructive appetites and passions — only that such mental and emotional maturity come at the terrible price of a decline in energy and physicality. When I now mow the lawn or chain saw, in about 10 minutes a knee is sore, an elbow swollen, a back strained — and from nothing more than a silly wrong pivot. Biking 100 miles a week seems to make the joints more, not less, painful. At 30 going up a 30-foot ladder was fun; at near 60 it is a high-wire act. There is some cruel rule that the more it is necessary at 60 to build muscle mass, the more the joints and tendons seem to rebel at the necessary regimen.

    The ancients honored old age, as the revered Gerousia and the Senate attest, but on the concession that with sobriety came far less exuberance and spontaneity. I suppose old Ike would never had mouthed JFK’s “pay any price” to intervene and oppose communism. Yet we must try to stay competitive until the last breath, if not with our bodies, then with our minds — like old blabbermouth Isocrates railing in his 90s, or Sophocles writing the Oedipus at Colonus (admittedly not a great play) well after 90. Cicero’s De Senectute reminds us that knowledge and learning can bridge some of the vast gap between the age cohorts. I remember an 80-year-old woman in one of my Greek classes who palled around with the 20-somethings; apparently when they were all reading Homer, they all forgot trivial things such as looks and age — at least for the ephemeral two hours they were reading The Iliad. (One young man after a class said, “She looks good in jeans.”)

    In term of relative power, the Greeks and Romans felt that youth often trumped wisdom, at least in the sense that the firm 21 year old held all the cards with her obsessed 50-year-old admirer. When I sometimes read of the latest harassment suit that involved consensual adult sex involving an “imbalance in power,” I wonder what a Petronius, who wrote about crafty youth using their beauty to incite and humiliate the foolish aging, would think. Was Paula Broadwell really a victim in a “power imbalance”? Over the decades I have seen a number of adept young graduate students who fooled silly old goats (often the same nerds that they were in high school) into consensual relationships that aided their careers, but then, when the benefits were exhausted, they moved on, only to define themselves as victims as the need arose. A Greek would laugh at that idea of victims and oppressors.

    As far as beauty goes, what is so attractive about either the perfect Stepford wives’ look or the starved model appearance? From red-figure vase painting to Rubens, Western tastes have appreciated curves, not lines. Where did the new beauty profile come from that is abnormal and usually achieved only through surgery: 5’ 10” females, weighing 120 lbs., with micro-waists and huge breasts and rears, as if more than 1% of the population is born that way? Ovid also reminds us that, on occasion, a blemish can mesmerize the beholder, in the way perhaps Cleopatra’s ample nose incited Caesar and Antony. I used to find the actress Sandy Dennis’s uncorrected overbite appealing in the way I don’t find today’s oversized, bleached, spot-lighted, and perfectly capped choppers inviting. A mole for the Greeks should not be removed. The classics remind us that a small defect is no defect at all. Forty years ago, I once knew an undergraduate with a scar across running across her chin, maybe six inches in length, and a few millimeters wide. It was hypnotic. And what happened to the classical emphases on voice, comportment, grace, and gesture as ingredients of beauty? Have they simply fallen by the wayside in our boobs/butt obsessed popular culture? Are there voice or posture classes anymore, or has it become all liposuction and implants?

    Hoi Aristoi/Polloi

    Admittedly classical literature is aristocratic, at least in the sense that the well-read and learned had more money than those whom they often wrote about. But that said, it is striking how frequently over a thousand years of Greek and Latin masterpieces arise words like “mob” (ochlos) and “throng” (turba) to describe the herd-like desire for entitlements without worry as to how they were to be funded. Virgil (vulgus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur) and Horace (Odi profanum vulgus et arceo) would assume that even the Wall Street Journal is not read at Super Wal-Mart. (But be careful: at a local electric motor shop, the two Hispanic mechanic/owners once asked me how I would rate Peter Green’s Alexander the Great — and then cited four other biographies — while I was waiting to have a motor rewound.)

    Alexis de Tocqueville put forth a thesis that American democracy had a chance because the small-scale entrepreneur (see above) and autonomous, self-reliant agrarian were not so prone to the Siren-calls of the European mob. He felt that we in American would not perhaps follow the model of the fourth-century Athenian dêmos or imperial Roman vulgus that flocked to the cities for the dole, and hated the wealthy the more they taxed them (don’t think Obama will be happy with just raising rates on “millionaires”) — as if the ability to pay high taxes was always proof of the ability to pay even more. Tocqueville derived that pessimistic view from Aristotle whose best democracy was a politeia — rule by owners of some property, who were largely agrarian and self-reliant, and did not expect subsidies from others. Classics, then, teaches us to beware a situation when 47% of the population do not pay income taxes and nearly half of us receive federal and state subsidies. Perhaps we should go over the cliff so that the 53% all understand the burdens of higher taxes to subsidize the 47% who pay no income taxes. If we hike taxes on those who make over $1 million a year, then cannot we not insist that everyone pays at least $500 per year in federal income taxes — to appreciate that April 15 is not Christmas?

    In that regard I now often think of Solon’s seisachtheia, the “shaking off” of debts by those small farmers of Attica burdened from having to pay 1/6th (or so scholars still believe) of their produce to their creditors — or the Messenian helots who were obligated to give ¼ to ½ of everything they produced to their Spartan overlord. Yet at this point, with a looming 40% federal tax rate, 12% California tax, returning payroll and higher Medicare taxes, and the new Obamacare hit, millions would prefer the oppressive take of classical serfdom to the present 55-60% of their income grabbed by the state. The new American helots, after all, will fork over sixty percent of their almond crops to the IRS, build six out of ten houses for their government, drive their trucks until July for Washington — and write thirty PJ weekly columns a year for Obama. The Tea Party might have been better named the Helot Party.


    I was thinking of the class strife in Sallust’s Conspiracy of Cataline the other day as well; I used to teach it and the Jugurthine War in third-year Latin. In my thirties I never quite understood the standard hackneyed redistributionist call of the late Roman republic for “cancellation of debts and redistribution of property!” But recently I reread Sallust with a new awareness — in the context of all the talk of mortgage forgiveness, credit card forgiveness, student loan forgiveness, wealth taxes, and new estates taxes. The subtext of those Catalinian platforms, of course, is that someone else was culpable for having enough money in the first place (rather than prudence, character, dutifulness, etc.) to pay what he had borrowed — and therefore as atonement should pay for others who were defrauded by the system.

    In the Roman state, those who borrowed unwisely periodically needed a clean slate — paid for by those who mostly did not, albeit always dressed up in the sense of the noble poor and the rapacious rich. “Pay your fair share,” “fat cat,” “you didn’t build that,” “at some point you’ve made enough money,” etc. are right out of the demagoguery so brilliantly chronicled by Aristophanes, Plutarch, and Sallust. Debt relief and redistribution were not quaint classical topoi, but inherent in the human condition. For now our would be Gracchus in the White House seems a lot more like a Publius Claudius Pulcher (author of the expansion of the grain dole), an upscale elite who chose demagoguery as the best route to power, fame, influence, and riches — and who can’t finish a sentence without blasting “millionaires and billionaires” as the source of all our woes. How did it happen that those in government, with higher than private sector salaries, with access to free perks, with better than normal pensions and benefits, so often talk about the need for higher taxes without anyone replying that they were selfish in asking the worse off to subsidize the better off?

    The Golden Mean

    One theme sort of resonates through classical literature. Character consists of moderation, of avoiding hubris and thereby escaping nemesis. Character is formed through balanced behavior, from the trivial of not overeating, oversleeping, and overdrinking (“glutton,” “sloth,” and “drunk” have disappeared from the American vocabulary, though they were ubiquitous in Western languages for the last 2500 years), to being humble in success and resilient in humiliation and defeat as well. But here is the warning: the good man — whether Ajax or Socrates — should expect — perhaps even welcome? — the disdain of the crowd, and usually will not win acclaim or receive what he deserves in this life. (Achilles finally came to accept that.)

    Once upon a time in Hollywood, great directors grasped that, and so in their versions of the Iliad or the Sophoclean play — think Shane, Ride the High Country, High Noon, The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence — the man with character, if not killed, rides off into the sunset alone, glad to be free of those he saved. We don’t like our George S. Pattons and Curtis Lemays, at least until we are faced with the Waffen SS and the Japanese imperial military. Today, Marshall Will Kane might be dubbed a “loser,” or Ethan Edwards as “obsessed.”

    Whatever character is, it was not Susan Rice’s recent letter/op-ed bowing out of consideration for nomination to the office of Secretary of State. Instead it was Euripidean projection, Pentheus-style, as she alleged politicization and cheap partisan distraction on the part of her critics, even as she unleashed a pattern of obfuscation of her own and race/gender pandering from her supporters.

    Ave atque Salve

    I was given a great gift to have been a student of classics, to have lived on a farm, and to have had a father who was nobly self-destructive in the Ajaxan sense (on his Selma gravestone reads Sophocles’ chiastic aphorism, “live nobly, or nobly die”). He practiced an archaic code that won him admiration, but made his job, his career, and his life almost impossible, whether over Tokyo in a B-29, or on a tractor, or in the Byzantine labyrinth of junior college administration, at which he excelled with his colleagues and students, but was deemed too eccentric by his administrative superiors. When I came home at 26 puffed up with a PhD, he met me in the driveway and said “The shed needs new shingles,” a not too subtle reminder right out of Hesiod that with intellectual progress can come moral regress.

    One of the great, though inadvertent gifts of the Obama administration has been to remind us that the Rhodes Scholarship, the Harvard Law degree, the Stanford PhD, the Princeton BA mean, well, nothing much at all, if not perhaps a suspicion that a lot of intellectual branding and grandstanding came at the expense of two years on a tuna boat, or a year picking apples, or four summers at Starbucks, of anything to remind the young genius that he was not so smart after all, and that character is not created by getting an award or being stamped by an unworldly elite institution.

    In this age of Obama and a corrupting equality of result, we must continue to speak out, with dash and style, with the knowledge that most of our peers prefer sameness and mandated equality to freedom and liberty, if the latter result in inequality. But at least we are not alone, the best of the ancient world nods with us.

    And that is the point, is it not — to keep the ancient faith and so welcome rather than fear the popular anger of the age?
  12. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

  13. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    [h=1]Machiavelli's Virtue[/h]
    March 20, 2013 | 0900 GMT


    By Robert D. Kaplan
    Chief Geopolitical Analyst
    What is modernity? Is it skyscrapers, smart phones, wonder drugs, atomic bombs? You're not even close. Modernity, at least in the West, is the journey away from religious virtue toward secular self-interest. Religious virtue is fine for one's family and the world of private morality. But the state -- that defining political structure of modern times -- requires something colder, more chilling. For the state must organize the lives of millions of strangers and protect their need to selfishly acquire material possessions. If everyone stole from everyone else there would be anarchy. So the state monopolizes the use of force, taking it away from criminals. The state appeals not to God, but to individual selfishness. Thus, it clears the path for progress.
    Thomas Hobbes conceived of the modern state in his Leviathan, published in 1651. Hobbes is known wrongly as a gloomy philosopher because of his emphasis on anarchy. Hobbes was actually a liberal optimist, who saw the state as the solution to anarchy, allowing people to procure possessions and build a community. Hobbes knew that in the path toward a better world, order first has to be established. Only later can humankind set about making such order non-tyrannical.
    But what did Hobbes' philosophy ultimately build on? It built on the first of the moderns, the early 16th century Florentine Niccolo Machiavelli, whose masterpiece, The Prince, was written 500 years ago in 1513. Here is an anniversary as important as the 500th anniversary of Columbus discovering America, celebrated in 1992.
    By taking politics away from the narrowing fatalism of the medieval Roman Catholic Church, Machiavelli created the very secular politics from which Hobbes could conceive of the idea of the state.The Prince may be less a work of cynicism than an instructional guide to overcome fate -- the fatalism of the Roman Catholic Church at that time. Thus, Machiavelli, more than Michelangelo perhaps, was the true inventor of the Renaissance. The founders of the American Republic, who conceived of a polity in which church and state were separate and in which government existed to lay the rules for individuals to compete freely in the struggle to acquire wealth, owed much to Machiavelli and Hobbes.
    But it is with Machiavelli, more than with Hobbes, where the principles of Western modernity truly begin. Indeed, we are fortunate to have still among us one of the great interpreters of Machiavelli, Harvard Professor Harvey C. Mansfield Jr. Mansfield knows that it is more important to tell hard truths than it is to be liked and to get good reviews. That is why I have always had such deep respect for him, even though I have never met him. I know Mansfield the way one should know a great scholar: only through his writings.
    Mansfield's book, Machiavelli's Virtue (1996), though drawing on the ideas of an earlier interpreter of Machiavelli, University of Chicago political scientist Leo Strauss, is an academic classic in its own right. Mansfield himself may not necessarily agree with Machiavelli, but he fearlessly shows why this towering figure of the Renaissance is still so relevant. For by setting the terms for political reality, Machiavelli helps lay the foundation for geopolitics.
    Mansfield, interpreting Machiavelli's original Italian, explains to us that necessity frees people from religious faith. People may pray to God and go to church or synagogue or the mosque, but they must also acquire food and possessions for the sake of their loved ones, and thus they must enter into competition with their fellow human beings; just as nations must enter into competition with other nations. This is not something to lament, however. For in the last analysis, self-interest can lead to peace while rigid moral principles can lead to war. Self-interest informs compromise with other human beings, and thus a state governed by self-interest is likely to compromise with other states: whereas a person or state governed solely by religious or moral virtue will tend to delegitimize as immoral those with whom he or it disagrees -- and therein lies conflict. Virtue, in other words, is fine. But outstanding virtue -- because it tempts sanctimoniousness -- is dangerous. It is ultimately with this maxim that we find philosophical justification for moderation in contemporary politics and statecraft.
    Those who find such thinking dark or cynical may be under the illusion that politics can bring respite from primitive necessity. Machiavelli, as Mansfield explains, is doubtful of this. Yes, politicians may announce their intention to strive for truth and justice, but their unspoken concerns and desires, even in a democracy -- especially in a democracy -- are really about satisfying the selfish needs of their constituents. Face it, primitive necessity is a fixture of the human condition. And, therefore, the only way to reduce conflict and suffering is through anxious foresight: the ability to foresee danger and necessities ahead. Thus are intelligence agencies more likely to prevent atrocities than humanitarians.
    In politics, explains Machiavelli (through Mansfield), one who does good often cannot be good. One must even learn how to be bad, or at least devious, for the sake of the common good. This is not necessarily the end justifies the means, for Machiavelli is careful to stipulate that only the minimum amount of cruelty should be applied for the sake of the greatest amount of good.
    Machiavelli is all about results. He believes that you define something in politics not by its inherent excellence, but by its outcome. For political virtue is separate from individual perfection. A leader may be honest, unselfish and moral, but if he starts a war that later proved unnecessary and killed many people, he lacks virtue -- despite being on a personal level very sympathetic. Conversely, a leader may be cynical, selfish and excessively ambitious, but if he keeps his countrymen away from danger he can still be said to have virtue -- despite being personally unappealing. Likeability has nothing to do with virtue, it turns out. For politics -- and especially geopolitics -- is concerned, according to Machiavelli, with knowing about the world rather than knowing about heaven. Indeed, precisely because Machiavelli was concerned with men and not with God, he was a humanist.
    Machiavelli has his limits. For example, he could not have foreseen 20th century totalitarianism that mirrored the self-righteousness of the medieval Church with which he was in conflict, but on a much larger scale. He imagined the never-ending struggle between Italian city-states; not the titanic conflicts between gargantuan nuclear powers. Because the stakes are arguably higher now because of weapons of mass destruction, there is a danger of taking Machiavelli too far and using his philosophy to justify all sorts of risky subterfuges.
    But there is a greater danger in simply dismissing his philosophy as unworthy of our so-called enlightened age. For our age is determined less by globalization than by the battle of space and power, both between states and between groups within states themselves -- as witnessed most recently by the ethnic and sectarian turmoil throughout the Greater Middle East. An American leader who is forced to grapple with such anarchy, even as he must take care to adopt the right tone with a militarily ascendant China and with an economically rising Latin America, could do worse than act "Machiavellian." And thanks to Professor Mansfield, we now know the true meaning of that adjective.

    Read more: Machiavelli's Virtue | Stratfor
  14. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

  15. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    MARC: Awesome piece, that was driving me crazy with every single sentence being a paragraph of its own-- so I took the liberty of editing it into what I perceive to be the paragraphs that should have been there to begin with.)

    ... making the positive case for conservatism: what conservatives are for.

    In Washington, it is common for both parties to succumb to easy negativity. Republicans and Democrats stand opposed to each other, obviously, and outspoken partisanship gets the headlines. This negativity is unappealing on both sides. That helps explain why the federal government is increasingly held in such low regard by the American people.
    But for the Left, the defensive crouch at least makes sense. Liberalism’s main purpose today is to defend its past gains from conservative reform. But negativity on the Right, to my mind, makes no sense at all. The Left has created this false narrative that liberals are for things, and conservatives are against things.

    When we concede this narrative, even just implicitly, we concede the debate… before it even begins.

    And yet too many of us – elected conservatives especially – do it anyway. We take the bait. A liberal proposes an idea, we explain why it won’t work, and we think we’ve won the debate. But even if we do, we reinforce that false narrative… winning battles while losing the war.

    This must be frustrating to the scholars of the Heritage Foundation, who work every day producing new ideas for conservatives to be for. But it should be even more frustrating to the conservatives around the country that we elected conservatives all serve.

    After all, they know what they’re for: why don’t we?

    Perhaps it’s because it’s so easy in Washington to forget. In Washington, we debate public policy so persistently that we can lose sight of the fact that policies are means, not ends.

    We say we are for lower taxes, or less regulation, or spending restraint. But those are just policies we advocate. They’re not what we’re really for. What we’re really for are the good things those policies will yield to the American people. What we’re really for is the kind of society those policies would allow the American people to create, together.


    If there is one idea too often missing from our debate today that’s it: together.

    In the last few years, we conservatives seem to have abandoned words like “together,” “compassion,” and “community”… as if their only possible meanings were as a secret code for statism. This is a mistake. Collective action doesn’t only – or even usually - mean government action.

    Conservatives cannot surrender the idea of community to the Left, when it is the vitality of our communities upon which our entire philosophy depends. Nor can we allow one politician’s occasional conflation of “compassion” and “bigger government” to discourage us from emphasizing the moral core of our worldview. Conservatism is ultimately not about the bills we want to pass, but the nation we want to be.

    If conservatives want the American people to support our agenda for the government, we have to do a better job of showing them our vision for society. And re-connecting our agenda to it. We need to remind the American people – and perhaps, too, the Republican Party itself – that the true and proper end of political subsidiarity is social solidarity.
    Ours has never been a vision of isolated, atomized loners. It is a vision of husbands and wives; parents and children; neighbors and neighborhoods; volunteers and congregations; bosses and employees; businesses and customers; clubs, teams, groups, associations… and friends.

    The essence of human freedom, of civilization itself, is cooperation. This is something conservatives should celebrate. It’s what conservatism is all about. Freedom doesn’t mean “you’re on your own.” It means “we’re all in this together.” Our vision of American freedom is of two separate but mutually reinforcing institutions: a free enterprise economy and a voluntary civil society.

    History has shown both of these organic systems to be extremely efficient at delivering goods and services. But these two systems are not good because they work. They work because they are good. Together, they work for everyone because they impel everyone… to work together. They harness individuals’ self-interest to the common good of the community, and ultimately the nation.

    They work because in a free market economy and voluntary civil society, whatever your career or your cause, your success depends on your service. The only way to look out for yourself is to look out for those around you. The only way to get ahead is to help other people do the same.

    What, exactly, are all those supposedly cut-throat, exploitive businessmen and women competing for? To figure out the best way to help the most people. That’s what the free market does. It rewards people for putting their God-given talents and their own exertions in the service of their neighbors. Whatever money they earn is the wealth they create, value they add to other people’s lives.

    No matter who you are or what you’re after, the first question anyone in a free market must ask him or herself is: how can I help? What problems need to be solved? What can I do to improve other people’s lives?

    The free market does not allow anyone to take; it impels everyone to give.

    The same process works in our voluntary civil society.

    Conservatives’ commitment to civil society begins, of course, with the family, and the paramount, indispensable institution of marriage. But it doesn’t end there. Just as individuals depend on free enterprise to protect them from economic oppression, families depend on mediating institutions to protect them from social isolation. That is where the social entrepreneurs of our civil society come in. Just like for-profit businesses, non-profit religious, civic, cultural, and charitable institutions also succeed only to the extent that they serve the needs of the community around them.

    Forced to compete for voluntary donations, the most successful mediating institutions in a free civil society are at least as innovative and efficient as profitable companies. If someone wants to make the world a better place, a free civil society requires that he or she do it well.

    Social entrepreneurs know that only the best soup kitchens, the best community theater companies, and the best youth soccer leagues – and for that matter, the best conservative think tanks – will survive.

    So they serve.

    They serve their donors by spending their resources wisely. They serve their communities by making them better places to live. And they serve their beneficiaries, by meeting needs together better than they can meet them alone.

    Freedom doesn’t divide us. Big government does. It’s big government that turns citizens into supplicants, capitalists into cronies, and cooperative communities into competing special interests. Freedom, by contrast, unites us. It pulls us together, and aligns our interests. It draws us out of ourselves and into the lives of our friends, neighbors, and even perfect strangers. It draws us upward, toward the best version of ourselves.

    The free market and civil society are not things more Americans need protection from. They’re things more Americans need access to.

    Liberals scoff at all this. They attack free enterprise as a failed theory that privileges the rich, exploits the poor, and threatens the middle class but our own history proves the opposite. Free enterprise is the only economic system that does not privilege the rich. Instead it incentivizes them put their wealth to productive use serving other people… or eventually lose it all. Free enterprise is the greatest weapon against poverty ever conceived by man. If the free market exploits the poor, how do liberals explain how the richest nation in human history mostly descends from immigrants who originally came here with nothing?

    Nor does free enterprise threaten the middle class. Free enterprise is what created the middle class in the first place. The free market created the wealth that liberated millions of American families from subsistence farming, opening up opportunities for the pursuit of happiness never known before or since in government-directed economies.

    Progressives are equally dismissive of our voluntary civil society. They simply do not trust free individuals and organic communities to look out for each other, or solve problems without supervision. They think only government – only they – possess the moral enlightenment to do that.

    To be blunt, elite progressives in Washington don’t really believe in communities at all. No, they believe in community organizers. Self-anointed strangers, preferably ones with Ivy League degrees, fashionable ideological grievances, and a political agenda to redress those grievances. For progressives believe the only valid purpose of “community” is to accomplish the agenda of the state.

    But we know from our own lives that the true purpose of our communities is instead to accomplish everything else. To enliven our days. To ennoble our children. To strengthen our families. To unite our neighborhoods. To pursue our happiness, and protect our freedom to do so.

    This vision of America conservatives seek is not an Ayn Rand novel. It’s a Norman Rockwell painting, or a Frank Capra movie: a society of “plain, ordinary kindness, and a little looking out for the other fellow, too.”

    The great obstacle to realizing this vision today is government dysfunction. This is where our vision must inform our agenda.

    What reforms will make it easier for entrepreneurs to start new businesses? For young couples to get married and start new families? And for individuals everywhere to come together to bring to life flourishing new partnerships and communities?

    What should government do – and just as important, not do – to allow the free market to create new economic opportunity and to allow civil society to create new social capital?
    We conservatives are not against government. The free market and civil society depend on a just, transparent, and accountable government to enforce the rule of law.

    What we are against are two pervasive problems that grow on government like mold on perfectly good bread: corruption and inefficiency. It is government corruption and inefficiency that today stand between the American people and the economy and society they deserve.

    To combat those pathologies, a new conservative reform agenda should center around three basic principles: equality, diversity, and sustainability.

    The first and most important of these principles is equality.

    The only way for the free market and civil society to function… to tie personal success to interpersonal service… to align the interests of the strong and the weak… is to have everyone play by the same rules. Defying this principle is how our government has always corrupted itself, our free market, and our civil society. In the past, the problem was political discrimination that held the dis-connected down. Today, government’s specialty is dispensing political privileges to prop the well-connected up.

    In either case, the corruption is the same: official inequality … twisting the law to deem some people “more equal than others”… making it harder for some to succeed even when they serve, and harder for others to fail even when they don’t.

    And so we have corporate welfare: big businesses receiving direct and indirect subsidies that smaller companies don’t. We have un-civil society: politicians funding large, well-connected non-profit institutions based on political favoritism rather than merit.

    We have venture SOCIALISM: politicians funneling taxpayer money to politically correct businesses that cannot attract real investors.

    We have regulatory capture: industry leaders influencing the rules governing their sectors to protect their interests and hamstringing innovative challengers.

    The first step in a true conservative reform agenda must be to end this kind of preferential policymaking. Beyond simply being the right thing to do, it is a pre-requisite for earning the moral authority and political credibility to do anything else.

    Why should the American people trust our ideas about middle-class entitlements… when we’re still propping up big banks? Why should they trust us to fix the tax code while we use their tax dollars to create artificial markets for uncompetitive industries? Why should they trust our vision of a free civil society when we give special privileges to supposed non-profits like Planned Parenthood, public broadcasting, agricultural check-off programs, and the Export-Import Bank?

    And perhaps most important, why should Americans trust us at all, when too often, we don’t really trust them? When we vote for major legislation… negotiated in secret… without debating it… without even reading it… deliberately excluding the American people from their own government?

    To conservatives, equality needs to mean equality for everyone.

    The second principle to guide our agenda is diversity. Or, as you might have heard it called elsewhere: “federalism.”

    The biggest reason the federal government makes too many mistakes is that it makes too many decisions. Most of these are decisions the federal government doesn’t have to make – and therefore shouldn’t. Every state in the union has a functioning, constitutional government. And just as important, each state has a unique political and cultural history, with unique traditions, values, and priorities.

    Progressives today are fundamentally intolerant of this diversity.

    They insist on imposing their values on everyone. To them, the fifty states are just another so-called “community” to be “organized,” brought to heel by their betters in Washington. This flies in the face of the Founders and the Constitution, of course. But it also flies in the face of common sense and experience.

    The usurpation of state authority is why our national politics is so dysfunctional and rancorous. We expect one institution – the federal government – to set policies that govern the lives of 300 million people, spread across a continent. Of course it’s going to get most of it wrong.

    That’s why successful organizations in the free market and civil society are moving in the opposite direction. While government consolidates, businesses delegate and decentralize. While Washington insists it knows everything, effective organizations increasingly rely on diffuse social networks and customizable problem solving.

    We should not be surprised that as Washington has assumed greater control over transportation, education, labor, welfare, health care, home mortgage lending, and so much else… all of those increasingly centralized systems are failing. Conservatives should seize this opportunity not to impose our ideas on these systems, but to crowd-source the solutions to the states.

    Let the unique perspectives and values of each state craft its own policies, and see what works and what doesn’t. If Vermont’s pursuit of happiness leads it to want more government, and Utah’s less, who are politicians from the other 48 states to tell them they can’t have it? Would we tolerate this kind of official intolerance in any other part of American life?

    A Pew study just last week found that Americans trust their state governments twice as much as the federal government, and their local governments even more.

    This shouldn’t be a surprise – it should be a hint.

    State and local governments are more responsive, representative, and accountable than Washington, D.C. It’s time to make them more powerful, too. In the past, conservatives given federal power have been tempted to overuse it. We must resist this temptation. If we want to be a diverse movement, we must be a tolerant movement.
    The price of allowing conservative states to be conservative is allowing liberal states to be liberal.

    Call it subsidiarity. Call it federalism. Call it constitutionalism. But we must make this fundamental principle of pluralistic diversity a pillar of our agenda.

    And that brings us to our third guiding principle.

    Once we eliminate policy privilege and restore policy diversity, we can start ensuring policy sustainability. Once the federal government stops doing things it shouldn’t, it can start doing the things it should, better. That means national defense and intelligence, federal law enforcement and the courts, immigration, intellectual property, and even the senior entitlement programs whose fiscal outlook threatens our future solvency and very survival.

    Once we clear unessential policies from the books, federal politicians will no longer be able to hide: from the public, or their constitutional responsibilities. Congress will be forced to work together to reform the problems government has created in our health care system. We can fundamentally reform and modernize our regulatory system. We will be forced to rescue our senior entitlement programs from bankruptcy. And we can reform our tax system to eliminate the corporate code’s bias in favor of big businesses over small businesses… and the individual code’s bias against saving, investing, and especially against parents, our ultimate investor class.

    That is how we turn the federal government’s unsustainable liabilities into sustainable assets.

    The bottom line of all of this is that conservatives in that building need to start doing what conservatives in this building already do: think long and hard about what we believe, why we believe it, and most of all, remember to put first things first.

    For conservatives, the first thing is not our agenda of political subsidiarity – it’s our vision of social solidarity. It is a vision of society as an interwoven and interdependent network of individuals, families, communities, businesses, churches, formal and informal groups working together to meet each other’s needs and enrich each other’s lives.

    It is of a free market economy that grants everyone a “fair chance and an unfettered start in the race of life.”

    It is of a voluntary civil society that strengthens our communities, protects the vulnerable, and minds the gaps to make sure no one gets left behind.

    And it is of a just, tolerant, and sustainable federal government that protects and complements free enterprise and civil society, rather than presuming to replace them.

    This vision will not realize itself. The Left, the inertia of the status quo, and the entire economy of this city stand arrayed against it.

    Realizing it will sometimes require conservatives to take on entrenched interests, pet policies, and political third-rails. Many of these will be interests traditionally aligned with – and financially generous to – the establishments of both parties. And sometimes, it will require us to stand up for those no one else will: the unborn child in the womb, the poor student in the failing school, the reformed father languishing in prison, the single mom trapped in poverty, and the splintering neighborhoods that desperately need them all.

    But if we believe this vision is worth the American people being for, it’s worth elected conservatives fighting for. What we are fighting for is not just individual freedom, but the strong, vibrant communities free individuals form. The freedom to earn a good living, and build a good life: that is what conservatives are for.
  16. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    [h=5]Woof All:

    Today is Yom Kippur, perhaps the holiest day of the Jewish year. It is The Day of Atonement. This includes asking forgiveness of all those you have wronged or for whom you have come up short during the past year. Tis best to do it with specifics spoken one to one, but , , ,Anyway, my personal spiritual practice is based around The Ten Commandments-- here is something I wrote several years ago about one of them.

    The Power of Word
    by Crafty Dog

    Scientific Progress is achieved by REDUCING the number of principles
    necessary to explain the physical world. Spiritual Progress is this process
    applied to the discernment of the essential principles by which to live.

    Taking an understanding taken from The Church of Religious Science
    and putting it into my own words: To the extent that a religion is true,
    it can be reduced to a body of principles/rules which can be applied
    scientifically. An interesting thought this!

    Of course, these principles/rules are never the exclusive purview of any one
    group or discipline-- quite the contrary-- so it is no surprise that the
    Pope should recently have stated that the God must be a god of Reason.
    The Church of Religious Science and the Catholic Church may come from
    different parts of the religious spectrum, but it seems they seek the same

    In the story of my people, at the time of the creation of the Covenant, God
    gave us the 10 Commandments. Seems reasonable to think that the our God
    thought these rules real important, as did later on the God of the

    And, as time goes by, I begin to realize that I am still working on them.

    So lets look at one of them, the one that speaks of not taking the Lord's
    name in vain:

    In Genesis, before the beginning there was nothing. Into that nothingness
    came the word of God. On each of the first six days, this is what happened:
    "And God SAID let there be , , , , and it was so." To create, God had only
    to speak-- the Power of Word, the Crystallization of Thought. Using his
    word, he made us in his image and breathed the breath of life into us and
    told us, once fruitful, to multiply. By receiving the breath of life from
    the Creator, we become part of the Creator.


    This I think is the true meaning of the Commandment commonly translated
    from the original ancient Hebrew though the Greek, the Latin, the various
    permutations of English into "Thou shall not take God's name in vain." It
    is not that God cares whether we cuss, it is that we should take care to
    we put the Power of our Word.

    I would add an additional point: THIS WORD MUST BE EXPRESSED
    IN POSITIVES, NOT NEGATIVES. For example, God does not say
    "No more darkness". He says what he DOES want: "Let there be , , ,"
    Similarly in our lives the idea is to express ourselves positively. For
    example, to say "Remember to , , ," instead of "Don't forget to , , ,"

    To apply this to everything in one's life is a transformational experience.

    One example of the creative power of word is Prayer. Many people doubt
    prayer. They are good people; they pray for something; and then it doesn't

    There is an old Jewish parable about this of the man who follows all the
    detailed rules of the Torah. He's a good man. For many years he regularly
    prays to God to win the lottery. No lottery. Finally he gets mad and
    demands of God why, after his good life and his respect for God's rules,
    does not God grant his prayer to win the lottery.

    God answers, "Help me out. Buy a ticket."

    We note in passing the idea that in this parable Man can and does argue
    with God, but that is a discussion for another day. For our purpose here,
    the moral of this tale is that "Our Action must be Aligned with
    our Prayer and our Word to Create its Reality".

    copyright 2007 Dog Brothers Inc.[/h]
  17. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Leona Medina, a [17th-century] rabbi, once said very beautifully, if you were standing on the shore of a lake watching a guy pull his boat to the shore, and you were confused about mechanics and motion, you might think that he was pulling the shore to the boat. People make the same mistake when they pray. Whatever they want, they're going to move God to it. But real prayer is when you pull yourself towards God.
  18. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Presiedent Kennedy

    Small story:

    As we remember the 50th anniversary of the murder of our President by a communist revolutionary freshly returned from the Soviet Empire, a small story:

    My father was a minor Democrat figure in the local politics of Philadelphia. In 1962 the Army-Navy football game was held in Philadelphia and as tradition held (not sure if the current president knows this) the President was in attendance. My dad not only got us good seats, he got us into the backroom at half-time where the Admirals and Generals were hob-knobbing with the President. I was ten at the time. Somehow my dad arranged for me to be introduced to the President. "This is my son"-- and that is how I came to shake hands with President JFK.
  19. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise Senior Member Supporting Member

    Very cool Crafty!!!
  20. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    I remember looking him in the eye and he in mine. He was "present" for me and I liked what I saw in his face.

Share This Page