April 28, 2017 § 34 Comments
In the comments below Patrick observes:
A free and equal nation needs mass murder and micromanagement to match the mood. Blood and control are the secret ingredients. Kim Jong Un is a philistine with a pathetically unrefined recipe.
This is a good point.
Lets define a liberal regime to be a regime which explicitly professes liberal principles as its governing political doctrine.
We can roughly divide liberal regimes into two kinds. One sort of liberal regime is – at least as seen by outsiders – overtly tyrannical and violent.
Another sort of liberal regime is – at least according to its own self-assessment – a bastion of freedom and equality of rights, as long as you aren’t the wrong sort of person.
Of course in carrying out the exercise it is probably only fair to observe that nations under overt existential threat are stuck drinking their blood-of-tyrants from plastic cups; whereas more fat, dumb, and happy nations can afford to drink their blood from fine crystal and scientific beakers.
 Wikipedia: “North Korea officially describes itself as a self-reliant socialist state and formally holds elections. Critics regard it as a totalitarian dictatorship.”
See also here.
April 27, 2017 § 16 Comments
Modern people tend to think that the exercise of authority is a matter of writing a priori rules for a subsequently constructed society. This leads them to believe that it is possible to constructively design a “free society” by running the right software, software which magically produces the results they want. (If it doesn’t achieve the results they want, that can only be because someone is cheating).
This is especially egregious among technologists, because that is how we design the things that we build: we conceive of the desired outcome in our mind, apply the constraints of nature as we understand them, assemble raw materials, and build the artifact that we want. In software especially this design-the-rules, achieve-the-outcome, impose the ghost into the machine model is the main pattern of thought. This pattern can be seen throughout the writing of post Enlightenment thinkers and is made explicit by John Rawls.
Authority and the civilizations which rest on that authority are not like that. Authority is never a matter of designing rules before a polity exists and instantiating that polity in conformance with those rules. Authority is never a matter of the de novo creation of a polity by some ‘social contract’ construction. So-called Enlightenment thought on authority and politics is disconnected from reality at its very foundation, because it assumes this kind of de novo construction of social reality, instantiation of the City from the raw materials of nature through the imposition of rules chosen a priori.
Back in the real world, authority always involves particular men discriminating and restricting freedom in response to particular controversies or potential controversies. Even wars and massive political discontinuities develop in and from an already given preexisting social context.
Human social reality is a fractal of the organic family, not a fractal of a constructed daycare. The more modern people attempt to treat human society like a mechanical device of their own design, the more it becomes a cyborg monstrosity which treats its human subjects as raw materials for consumption.
April 27, 2017 § 10 Comments
“Minarchy” is a problematic concept.
Minarchy basically says that it is best to minimize the exercise of authority. But taken as something more authoritative than sentiment, this assumes that exercise of authority is a controllable parameter as opposed to a response to controverted/controvertible cases.
De facto, then, “minarchy” means that we require a society of minimal controversy, along with unicorns that fart fairy dust.
April 26, 2017 § 130 Comments
It is not possible to “balance” the requirements of a rational, intelligible, coherent doctrine with the “requirements” of an incoherent doctrine.
I don’t mean that it is merely difficult to do so. What I mean is that the very idea of doing so is unintelligible, because asserting the unintelligible is always unintelligible despite what may seem to be a superficial plausibility. It may sound plausible that twas brillig in the slithy toves. But the fact that a doctrine superficially strikes us as possible or plausible does not guarantee its rational coherence.
Said differently: the principle of explosion makes everything explode, as a matter of rationality. As a social reality, popular rationally incoherent doctrines have further implications: implications we’ve explored here before.
Incoherent doctrines – precisely because they are incoherent – cannot be contained, limited, or balanced against intelligible priorities. It isn’t possible to ‘balance’ an imperative for round squares against the imperative to eat, worship God, raise children, do good, avoid evil, etc.
So the notion that liberalism can coexist happily alongside competing priorities simply assumes that liberalism is a rationally coherent doctrine, capable of being prioritized alongside other intelligible priorities.
April 25, 2017 § 119 Comments
What unifies liberals is certainly not practical consensus over what policies to pursue. Liberals have been killing each other for centuries in violent disputation over which authoritative policies do and do not “authentically” liberate, who is and is not the oppressor, etc.
When it comes to what policies do and do not authentically liberate, the New York Times in the Current Year[tm] disagrees vehemently with the New York Times of just decades ago.
What unifies liberals is commitment to liberalism: to the idea that the exercise of political authority is justified inasmuch as it pursues liberty, and (concomitantly) equality of rights among the liberated.
I understand reluctance to assert (or appear to assert) a straw man. But it is no straw man to observe that in fact liberalism is rationally incoherent, all the way down — with all that that incoherence implies (e.g. weaponized principle of explosion) as a political ideology situated in particular, real, social contexts.
Liberalism attempts to make a unifying principle out of ruthlessly enforced disunity. If you won’t agree to be my brother, I will crack your skull.
April 17, 2017 § 27 Comments
I’d be the first to admit – nay, I’d strongly assert – that there is no satisfactory comprehensive theory of the essence-accident distinction. On the other hand we can’t really even have a coherent conversation about basic matters like ‘what is a defect?’ without some metaphysical common ground.
But there is no need to make things too complicated. At the level of essence human beings are the same: we all are essentially human beings: not beasts, not rocks, not moss, not stars, not angels, but human beings.
My own belief is that sex is also essential: that is, that “Martha who is not female” isn’t really Martha. Attempts to de-sex Martha fail at the level of necessity: if “she” isn’t a she, we aren’t actually talking about the actual Martha. We are writing Martha fan fiction.
(I’ve been accused of having Scotist tendencies for this sort of belief.)
In a nutshell, as an analog Platonic rogue in a digital Aristotelean (hate that spelling) world I’m pretty sure that essence has ‘deeper roots’ than the perhaps oversimplified picture drawn by Aristotlean realism.
So I’m willing to consider the possibility that we use the word “race” to refer to (technically essences which underly) essential properties: that abstracting away a person’s race leaves us with an idea of ‘something’ which isn’t – the ‘something’ isn’t – really that person at all [*]. Zippy the blogger imagined as a winged unicorn in one sense does successfully refer to me, of course: but successful reference probably accomplishes substantially less than meets the modernist eye.
Given all that though is also certainly the case that race — unlike deafness or gayness — is not an ontological defect. Gayness and deafness are ontological defects; blackness and whiteness are not ontological defects. The distinction between objective goods — which may in general be essential or accidental — and defects is, um, essential to discussion of the modern tendency to assert that objective defects are principles of identity.
The reason modern folks are always attempting to make their favorite defects into principles of identity rests on a deeper commitment. This intuitively-appealing lie is that while politics must at times (out of unhappy necessity in an otherwise live-and-let-live context) discriminate based on what people do, it must never discriminate based on what people are. So claiming something as a part of one’s identity shields that particular thing, whatever it may be, from the reach of authority. If voluntary acts of sodomy by the incontinent are part of the makeup of what someone is, then voluntary acts of sodomy are a human right.
I’ve even considered the possibility, given my openness to speculation about man’s own powers qua Imago Dei, that Hell is a state wherein a particular man has successfully and ineradicably incorporated an ontological defect into his own essence through his own free choices.
April 17, 2017 § 6 Comments
Individual hard copies of the Third Edition of the Usury FAQ are available on Amazon. Feel free to order copies for your friends and enemies, and to post reviews. This is a project of The Typesetter (a.k.a. commenter TomD), who did all the hard work: I just provided the content. In addition to our thanks for his hard work we also owe him well-wishes and joyous prayers for his rumored upcoming nuptials.
The e-book downloads in my sidebar are still the Second Edition. I’ll update all y’all when that changes – and about bulk orders, hardcover version, and possible conspiratorial distribution plans to various target groups – as things actually happen, as I find/figure things out myself, and as anything relevant takes place.