Self diagnosis, or, the nosology on your face

June 24, 2018 § Leave a comment

You can tell that you are still suffering from liberal commitments when you find yourself suggesting that modern liberals, left liberals, or whomever are distorting a good tradition of political freedom: that left-liberals have a deformed or inauthentic understanding of political freedom and equality before the law. If this is you, you are almost certainly a right-liberal.

Enforced question begging

June 4, 2018 § 13 Comments

Despite its unwieldiness I prefer the phrase “decline to enforce usurious contracts” over the phrase “prohibit usury,” because the latter begs the question1 of authority in favor of usurers.

Begging the question of authority is pervasive in modernity, because modern people raised on liberalism try very hard not to believe in the reality and real legitimacy of authority.

[1] As usual I use the phrase “beg the question” in its classical sense, where it means assuming the very thing one sets out to demonstrate.  In this case the phrase “prohibit usury” assumes that by default those in authority should enforce usurious contract terms and frames declining to enforce them as “prohibition”.

The sexual revolution was caused by cowardly men

April 26, 2018 § 137 Comments

The sexual revolution is largely a product of the failure, and in particular the cowardice, of men. But this is true in a particular way.

It is easy (and entirely appropriate) to morally condemn the behavior of sexually loose men. It is difficult (and entirely appropriate) to morally condemn the behavior of sexually loose women.  Cowards who condemn sexually loose men while making excuses for sexually loose women are “bravely facing the applause”.

The conflation of rape and fornication is just the kind of rhetorical shield from responsibility that craven cowards need. Cowards and sluts go together as the engines driving the sexual revolution.  The cowardice runs so deep that conservatives who supposedly oppose the sexual revolution will readily (and appropriately) condemn a man for trashy talk while making excuses for women who deliberately murder their own children.

So a more complete picture is that the sexual revolution is a product of the cowardice of men and the sluttiness of women, working together.

If you really want to turn back the sexual revolution, the place to start is with yourself.  Don’t be a coward or a slut.

Don’t waste time with those antibiotics; maybe leeches will work!

April 25, 2018 § 23 Comments


A reader posted a link to the Usury FAQ in a Twitter discussion with HJA Sire, the author of The Dictator Pope.  (I have a Kindle copy of the first edition of that book, written under a pseudonym.  It is pretty interesting and worth your time to read).  The screencap shows the response he got.

I’d just suggest that in the context of the present crisis in the Church, people who studiously look away from the elephant in the room will inevitably fail to adequately grasp the situation.

At least one party gets screwed

April 25, 2018 § 6 Comments

Our society positively celebrates and encourages fornication, to the point where any undesired consequences of fornication – even consequences to which the perpetrator has explicitly agreed ahead of time in writing – are considered merciless tyranny; the perpetrator, a victim.

At the same time, modernity views consent as what determines justice.  Because of this, precisely (and only) because of the absence of consent, rape is still considered a terrible crime (as long as women are not spending millions of entertainment dollars fantasizing about it).  And of course the scope of “consent” continues to expand, to the point where any foreseen or unforeseen regret for making a free choice, or any subjectively perceived pressure at all to choose one way rather than another, is thought to retroactively nullify consent.

This leads many conservatives to join forces with sexual libertines when it comes to campus rape hysteria, #metoo, and the like.  Because when consensual sex that the woman later regrets is defined to be rape, at least one party to fornication – the mansuffers real consequences.

What game theory says about negotiating with terrorists

April 19, 2018 § 33 Comments

Wikipedia describes the Prisoner’s Dilemma, a construct in Game Theorylike this:

Two members of a criminal gang are arrested and imprisoned. Each prisoner is in solitary confinement with no means of communicating with the other. The prosecutors lack sufficient evidence to convict the pair on the principal charge. They hope to get both sentenced to a year in prison on a lesser charge. Simultaneously, the prosecutors offer each prisoner a bargain. Each prisoner is given the opportunity either to: betray the other by testifying that the other committed the crime, or to cooperate with the other by remaining silent. The offer is:

  • If A and B each betray the other, each of them serves 2 years in prison

  • If A betrays B but B remains silent, A will be set free and B will serve 3 years in prison (and vice versa)

  • If A and B both remain silent, both of them will only serve 1 year in prison (on the lesser charge)

The thing to notice about the Prisoner’s Dilemma as a one-off situation is that each prisoner is better off betraying the other, no matter what the other prisoner does.

However real life does not consist of a single one-off choice, and the PD can be re-imagined as an ongoing game with repeated rounds, where years in prison are replaced by points in the game: “less years in prison” equals more points, if you will, and the more points you get the better you are doing in the game.  Each round of the game a player chooses whether to cooperate or defect, and the game is played for an indeterminate number of rounds.  The goal is to maximize how well you are doing “against the House” not against the other player: to minimize total years in prison, if you will.

In this iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma, wherein two players engage in the game repeatedly, actual human beings use the game itself to communicate with each other and collaborate.  A very effective strategy in an iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma (played against another human being) is not betrayal but “tit-for-tat“: cooperate with the other player unless he defects; if he defects then ‘punish’ him by defecting on the next round.  In this way a pair of “prisoners” can optimize their score against the house over time, by learning to cooperate.

Iterated “games” are fundamentally different from one-off situations.  This is why intelligent decision makers learn, over time, not to negotiate with terrorists.  Terrorist negotiations may (or may not) change the outcome in a particular case, for better or worse.  (The choice there is ultimately up to the terrorist, not the negotiator, since presumably the negotiator is not proposing to do something evil himself).

But choosing to negotiate with terrorists in general is what gives terrorists power; and in an open-ended iterated “game” this means that in the long run the evil party wins.  Each negotiation increases the power of “team terrorist”. If this goes on long enough morality will invert: “team terrorist” will be seen as victims rather than perpetrators; opposing their wanton slaughter of the innocent will come to be seen as oppressive tyranny; and the mountains of corpses will pile up to the sky.  (I say “will” as if this were a future prediction rather than a retrospective).

At least we’ll all be able to pat ourselves on the back and feel like we are taking a nice pastoral, conservative, live-and-let-live approach, though.

Ex post lacto, or, mother’s milk vs the positive law

April 14, 2018 § 43 Comments

If the positive law of some governing body expressly authorized X yesterday, and then that same body criminalizes X tomorrow, it is unjust – with caveats – for that body to punish someone tomorrow for having already done X yesterday. This has to do with the just exercise of authority, not the justice of the action in question: when a particular authority punishes an action which it explicitly authorized this (the punishment) is an unjust act by that authority. If I authorized you to shoot the dog it would be unjust for me to punish you for having already shot the dog, though it is not unjust for me to withdraw authorization.

This principle against ex post facto law has limits. Punishment might not be an unjust act by a different, especially a higher, authority: God punishing people for doing things which are supposedly “authorized1” by the positive law is not unjust, for example. And in general a different authority may be justified in punishing actions which it did not authorize, even though some other authority attempted to “authorize” it.

This is especially true when people ought to know better.  Importantly, the fact that some authority has not said anything about X does not constitute authorization by that authority to do X.  In this case no ex post facto prohibition applies as a moral constraint on the authority to punish.  And I would not be too quick to dismiss the notion that mothers mostly ought to know better than to kill their own children, no matter what pressures they are under.

Modern people with their politically liberal commitments may find this difficult to swallow, but the fact that nobody in authority has expressly forbidden doing X does not mean that you are authorized (have the authority) to do X.  The fact that there is no positive law prohibiting you from doing X doesn’t grant you a right to do X, for all possible X: “right” is just a different term for authority.

When we do something which we have no right to do, sometimes there are consequences, including punishment of some sort by someone in authority. And the fact that someone – even someone in authority – told you that you were authorized to do something evil does not confer actual authorization: it doesn’t make you not guilty, it just makes the person(s) who attempted to authorize evil also guilty.

The fact that someone in authority egged you on to commit murder may be a mitigating factor in deciding upon a just punishment.  But it can never be entirely exculpatory.  We are responsible for our own choices2, and that includes being sure that we have the authority to do the things we choose to do.

[1] I use scare quotes around “authorize” because in fact nobody has the capacity to authorize or require doing evil.

[2] Here I leave out the mentally ill and otherwise truly incompetent.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Liberalism category at Zippy Catholic.