Thursday, March 14, 2013

Utter Contempt

Our Israeli correspondent MC returns with a reflection on the commonalities that can be observed among Socialism, National Socialism, and Islam

The recent dialogue featured on Gates of Vienna between the Baron and an unnamed British journalist got me thinking a bit…

Of note was the utter contempt with which the journalist approached a right-of-centre position, and the holder of that position.

I grew up among Socialists, but I did a very unacceptable thing: I kept an open mind.

I suppose it started around the family television, there used to be a programme “All our Yesterdays: This Week 25 Years Ago”.

I was really too young to understand this programme, but in an unheated house in winter there was only one room kept warm enough for comfort, and the TV was in that room, and, of course the TV dominated.

I could not understand why National Socialists were bad, but Socialists were good. Yet my grandfather had been a convener for the early Labour Party in the twenties; Socialism was not to be questioned.

However, being very naïve, I asked my father, who just happened to be at home at the time on one those rare visits (he was an officer in the Royal Navy). My father did not answer the question; he just made me feel about six inches (rather than four feet) tall.

I had touched on a very sore point, and perhaps a key deception that is a prime cause of the trouble our countries find themselves in today.

It was many years later that I became comfortable with the idea that National Socialism is just another form of Socialism, one which is almost identical to Stalinist Communist Socialism.

The idea of extreme left, and extreme right is a fabrication. Stalin invaded Poland two weeks after Hitler did. In 1941, the Allies had to rehabilitate Stalin by creating a propaganda myth:

“Hitler bad, Stalin good. The political left is honest and caring; the political right is corrupt and greedy.”

Many have fallen for this meme, and it is now burnt into the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) of those who have “never thought of thinking for themselves at all”, a.k.a. Lenin’s useful idiots .

So Mr. Indoctrinated British Journalist approaches the dialogue with a preconceived notion that the Baron is part of a greedy and corrupt right wing establishment only worthy of the contempt of civilised “educated” people.

The sign of a good journalist is that he or she can recognise bias, and can therefore contain contempt. I have utter contempt for the leftist establishment; but then, I make no claim to being a journalist either.

As a child, I was taught to be contemptuous of certain types and classes of people. My mother’s family was very anti-Semitic, even though their father was Jewish (maybe because their father was Jewish). My father’s family (from Manchester) was very contemptuous of our very ‘nice’ southern English accents, and the accusation of being “la di dah” was not unknown…

I never knowingly met a Jew until University, where my Maths tutor was Orthodox. I got on very well with him.

I had my first clash with the reality of Socialism at university (in the form of the Student Union) as well, and I discovered to my horror that the reality of hard-left Socialism was extremely nasty. As a moderate Socialist, I was deemed contemptible and was treated with derision. There was no respect due to anything or anybody that did not conform to their core beliefs.

Islam too holds everything outside of Islam in contempt, and there is commonality of belief in this. In fact, Socialism and Islam hold so much in common it prompts the question: Did they come from the same source?

In a way, yes; Socialism arose through the trashing of the Bible in the 19th century. It resulted from the combined culture shocks of Darwin, Freud and Einstein. Darwin posited the first realistic alternative to creation, Freud redefined the human psyche, and Einstein redefined Newtonian physics. From these culture shocks arose a belief system based upon the idea that man is God.

Islam is, in effect, the worship of Mohammed, a 7th century brigand king who espoused the belief that one man (himself) could be the sole mouthpiece of god. For those who delve, there is a connection here. Mohammed used Allah as a kind of ventriloquist’s dummy — whenever he needed to make a statement, Allah, would give it voice through Mohammed. So Islam is a belief system that sees a man as God.

Any difference is semantic.

In their extreme forms, both Socialism and Islam believe in world domination, both use violence and terror as acceptable forms of evangelism, and both believe in an elite vanguard controlling the backward masses. Islam shows a contempt for women, seeing them as live ‘meat’ and other more vulgar epithets, ensnaring men in their evil sexuality and thus denying women entry into heaven. The Socialists show contempt for women in the role of mother, carer and giver of life; in their view women should be men, and work for a living. Women should bestow their sexual favours according to need and desire (especially the needs and desires of the Socialist elite) and, if necessary, murder the consequences.

The contempt shows up in many ways. In this case, the Baron is guilty of “inhumanity” because a Norwegian psychopath happened to read his blog posts and agree with some of them. Whilst this association is totally irrational, contempt makes it plausible in the context that, if the Baron had not expressed (contemptible) opinions, the shootings might not have happened.

Curiously, this fluffy teddy-bear logic endows the Baron with a supernatural ability to control events, and thus be responsible for them, by expressing his opinions, in writing, in a blog where he has no control whatsoever on the readership. This is the stuff of fairy tales!

And of such is the poison of Utter Contempt.



Slow Train Coming?

Misguided Economic Regulation of U.S. Railroads, Then and Now

The last few decades have seen tremendous improvements in the U.S. railroad industry. After a century of severe regulation nearly brought the United States railroad industry to ruin, policy makers in the 1970s began a process that ultimately resulted in the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which largely deregulated the industry. But that has not put an end to the political fight over freight rail.

Beginning with the enactment of the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887, the federal government increasingly regulated railroad ownership, operations, and investments in the United States through the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). While initially the ICC had little power to enforce rulings, it was subsequently granted significant ratemaking, entry and exit, and operational authority due to the efforts of the Progressive movement. Once railroads became heavily regulated, innovation slowed and American railroads began their long decline. During World War I, the heavily regulated railroads were nationalized by President Woodrow Wilson. After the war, the railroads were returned to private management—albeit in the context of a stultifying regulatory environment.

In the 1930s, new competition from motor carriers and more advanced waterborne transportation began costing the railroads passengers and freight. The U.S. railroad industry enjoyed a brief resurgence during World War II, as tires and gasoline were tightly controlled for consumers and the military relied heavily on the railway network to move goods and troops.

Yet following World War II, the railroads continued their decline. By the 1960s, it had become apparent to all that the industry was in dire straits. It was during this decade that economists, regulators, and politicians began seriously considering deregulatory relief—as the alternative, widely discussed at the time, was outright and permanent nationalization of the nation’s railroads.

Following the 1970 bankruptcy of the Penn Central Railroad—the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history until it was eclipsed by Enron in 2001—Congress and the Nixon administration began advancing a deregulatory agenda. In the meantime, the federal government created Amtrak to take responsibility for unprofitable passenger movements and Conrail to assume control of freight rail operations in the Northeastern U.S.

Finally, in 1980, Congress passed the Staggers Rail Act, which largely deregulated the railroads. Since 1980, America’s railroads—and indeed their customers and consumers—have enjoyed large gains. These include steep declines in real freight rates and train accidents, and a massive increase in railroad worker productivity. Unlike other modes of transportation, the railroad industry has financed these improvements—to the tune of $500 billion since the Staggers Act.

But some shippers are upset with the market rates they must pay to access rail carriers’ private networks. The most vocal are bulk commodity shippers in the West and Midwest, who may lack access to inland waterways and may be served by only one or two railroads. They allege that railroads are using their market power to extract monopoly rents and that federal regulators must step in to resolve this problem.

These claims are not new and they are baseless. These shippers are pushing a set of policies that will ultimately harm railroads, shippers, consumers, and the overall U.S. economy.



Sam’s Smear: Preposterous history from The New Republic

‘Every contributor to this collection . . . blandly ignores the possibility that there could be any real issue of a rational kind in American politics today which would justify the existence of an opposition, and proceeds to a sociological-psychological analysis of the extraordinary fact that there is one.”

Frank Meyer was writing more than 50 years ago, but the impulse he described is still at work. The explanation for conservatives’ opposition to President Obama and his agenda must be found not in our ideas but in our pathologies.

Thus many liberals seem to have convinced themselves that we resist Obama’s agenda because he is black. It is a theory that does not depend on evidence. Liberals read elaborations of the theory not to understand the world around them but to feel the warm glow of moral superiority.

It is a glow that suffuses the long cover story Sam Tanenhaus, the editor of the New York Times Book Review, recently wrote for The New Republic. Titled “Original Sin: Why the GOP Is and Will Continue to Be the Party of White People,”

Tanenhaus’s essay purports to show that Republicans’ crippling weakness among non-whites ultimately has its roots in the infatuation of conservative intellectuals with — John C. Calhoun.

Yes, the antebellum politician best known for his defense of slavery as a “positive good” is, on Tanenhaus’s telling, the real founder of the conservative movement: “When the intellectual authors of the modern right created its doctrines in the 1950s, they drew on nineteenth-century political thought, borrowing explicitly from the great apologists for slavery, above all, the intellectually fierce South Carolinian John C. Calhoun.”

Now Tanenhaus doesn’t want you to think he is saying that today’s conservatives are just a bunch of racists. Certainly not. He is up to something much more subtle than that. “This is not to say conservatives today share Calhoun’s ideas about race. It is to say instead that the Calhoun revival, based on his complex theories of constitutional democracy, became the justification for conservative politicians to resist, ignore, or even overturn the will of the electoral majority.”

With that to-be-sure throat-clearing out of the way, Tanenhaus continues with an essay that makes sense only as an attempt to identify racism as the core of conservatism.  Rarely has slander been so tedious.

That slander does not consist of reminding us that many conservatives, including William F. Buckley Jr. and National Review, were grievously wrong about the civil-rights movement. That fact is something all conservatives should ponder. Nor does it consist of suggesting, correctly, that certain conservative principles — federalism, traditionalism, economic freedom, judicial restraint — contributed to this moral error (just as certain liberal tendencies led The New Republic and the New York Times to make their apologias for Mussolini, Castro, and Stalin). Instead, Tanenhaus seeks to make, without defending, the dubious claim that any invocation of these principles is necessarily an implicit or explicit appeal to Calhoun’s worldview.

Because Calhoun was an articulate exponent of arguments for state sovereignty properly credited to Jefferson, Madison, and other Founders, many conservatives, including Buckley himself, occasionally quoted him. The notion that the conservative movement was ever enthralled to Calhoun is, however, not merely wrong, but preposterous.

Tanenhaus wildly overstates Calhoun’s status in the early years of National Review. Calhoun, he says, was the conservative movement’s “Ur theorist.” Yet in George Nash’s universally respected book The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, Calhoun’s name appears twice: the first time in a favorable quote from the liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the second 50-odd pages later, in Schlesinger’s criticism of Russell Kirk for lumping Calhoun and abolitionist John Quincy Adams into the same political tradition.

Calhoun is absent from the memoirs of the supposedly “Calhounist” William Rusher, the longtime publisher of National Review. He is mostly absent from the writings of James Burnham, although Burnham does reject Calhoun’s idea of a plural executive in a brief discussion in Congress and the American Tradition.

There’s no mention of Calhoun in Tanenhaus’s own biography of Whittaker Chambers. Perhaps more telling, there’s no mention of Calhoun in his more recent book The Death of Conservatism, which he marketed as the official autopsy of the intellectual Right. Odd that he missed the role of conservatism’s ur-theorist.

And Calhoun’s infrequent appearances in Buckley’s writings betray no adulation. The one reference in Buckley’s Miles Gone By, for instance, notes that Calhoun practiced his speeches in a field and then wrote them down when he came back inside. If that is a Calhounist dog whistle it must be one that only a liberal can hear (which, as it happens, is the case with most allegedly racist code from the right).



Limits on the Right to Exit: The New Slavery

The federal fascists respond with threats and vilification when a few knowledgeable citizens renounce their American citizenship and move — with capital and assets that they have accumulated by honest endeavor — to a more hospitable state, one that does not mulct them as rigorously by the theft benignly called taxation. The government bullies, who threaten to follow the departed and to claim their “rightful share” of the emigrant’s assets, apparently mean to wreak violence upon those who exercise their right to exit. Such threats sound less hollow now that the current political apparatus has emasculated all vestige of the rule of law in the cases of Osama bin La-den and Anwar al-Awlaki.

We live in strange and frightening times. Most of my ancestors came to this land two or three centuries ago in search of a free life. They had tired of the constant wars and rumors of war, of conscription and compulsion and slavery, of princes and other jackals who robbed rich and poor alike, enabling the robber to live an unproductive life of ease. In those halcyon days of yore, most immigrants came to this new and lightly populated land far from the Arabic, Asian, and European maladies, to a place where distance alone provided them a better and freer opportunity to make their own choices and to abide by the results. To those sturdy yeomen, freedom was not a word bandied about recklessly; it comprised an essential concept of universality and duality: liberty meant that one chose his path in life and bore responsibility for the consequences of his choice, and it also necessarily and concurrently entailed recognition that all other persons deserved the equivalent freedom.

In simple terms that even a modern United States senator should comprehend, the freedom to come to America necessarily includes the freedom to leave this country for any reason whatsoever without having to explain and defend that choice and without any fine or tax or any other penalty. In the context of interstate immigration and emigration within the United States, the Supreme Court of the United States has placed its imprimatur on an unimpeded right of mobility to move within the union. By a parity of any acceptable reasoning, that right of mobility must include the right to outbound mobility as well, an absolute freedom to leave this country without any requirement to state or prove any “acceptable” reason.

Any restriction on the freedom to exit disparages a fundamental human right and necessarily condemns the emigrant to a modern and odious slavery. Does that assertion of slavery misstate or overstate the case? The untutored mass, graduates of public institutions of state indoctrination, associate slavery with skin color. In fact, readers of history recognize that the past is littered with slaves of every kind, kindred, color, and other description. Slavery exists when one class or group within a society enjoys legal power to direct the conduct of another class or group to their detriment and in contradiction to the equal liberties all others enjoy. The right to leave represents a seminal element of human liberty, a cognate extension of the fundamental right to life. Hence, the new slavery differs little from the old failed systems, and it deserves the opprobrium of all free men.




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