William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Category: Culture (page 1 of 267)

The best that has been thought and written and why these ideals are difficult to meet.

New ‘Children’s’ Book Has Prince Charming Finding True Love With Farm Boy

Stream: New ‘Children’s’ Book Has Prince Charming Finding True Love With Farm Boy

Here is a short argument to keep in mind as you read about a new “children’s” book that promotes homosexual relationships:

If there is nothing morally wrong with same-sex relationships, then there is nothing wrong with exposing children to same-sex relationships.

After all, kids will see same-sex relationships around them in our culture, and some kids will themselves go on to form same-sex relationships, so why not, if there is nothing wrong with such relationships, show kids stories about men in love?

This was the implicit reasoning used by authors Adam Reynolds and Chaz Harris who wrote Promised Land, a picture-book about how “a young Prince and a farm boy meet in the forest and their newfound friendship blossoms into love.”

The Prince’s mother is divorced and has taken up living with an evil man. The evil man covets Farm Boy’s land. The land sits, as expected, in an Enchanted forest.

The book ends with a lovely picture of the Prince and Farm Boy smacking each other on the lips over the words “They got married and started their own family.”

That is, of course, impossible. Two men cannot marry, a metaphysical impossibility, and two men certainly cannot start a family, a biological impossibility. These are not only theological truths, but scientific realities as well.

Well, nobody expects Reality in a children’s fantasy. Magic isn’t real either, but that didn’t slow sales of or enthusiasm for Harry Potter. We shouldn’t therefore be critical of fantastical elements. But can we say anything against positive portrayals of homosexual love?

We cannot. Not if we cannot also say, out loud and in public, that homosexual love is immoral. Now love between two men, or two males, need not be immoral. A father loves his son. A man loves his friend. But if homosexual love is different than the love of two friends, what is that difference? It is sexual desire. Yet that desire is objectively disordered. The desire if indulged in often leads to homosexual acts, which are immoral and sinful.

But if we cannot say that, then we cannot say that Promised Land should not be shown to children. And we cannot say that it should not be shown to children in schools. The only argument we can muster against it would be depressingly utilitarian. “We cannot show the book,” the utilitarian might argue, “Because we do not want to pay for it.” What happens when a generous soul then donates copies?

We have reached a point in our culture where we could teach in schools Promised Land, but we could not teach about the promised land! […]

Click here to read the rest. But not if any children are present.

What Is Communism? Part I — Guest Post by Ianto Watt

Editor’s note. A particularly apropos (leisurely paced, so relax) essay on the nature of Communism. Recall this is 2017, one hundred years after the successful revolutions in Russia.

Just what is this thing called Communism? Is it really what we think it is? For that matter, is there any agreement as to what we think it is? Has there been another word that has been used more often in the past two hundred years? I can’t think of one. Yet, I’ll bet if you were to ask a hundred people what it is (or was?), you’d get at least fifty different answers. Anything from perdition to paradise, with everything in between. And that’s a big part of the problem we have in our inability to deal with this Platypus of a word. Because, after all, if you can’t get a common definition of something, you can’t get a common answer to the question of ‘how do we deal with it?’

There does seem to be a lot of commonality to the many described facets of this thing. But because it’s so big, like the blind men and the elephant, there’s going to be a lot of variation in the answers. Yet all are actually describing different parts of the same thing. And since this thing we talk about so much has had such a huge impact on the world for at least two hundred years, I think we would be well served to examine it more in depth. And then, perhaps, we can begin to see just what it is we have really been describing. And then to understand what it isn’t.

Let’s number the leading descriptions, and see if we can find a way to link them together. Its promoters (primarily Western academics) call it an economic theory. Its operators call it a means of liberation for their peoples. Its subjects often call it enslavement, a prison, a Gulag. Its instigators (usually Germans) call it a means of revolution. Other Teutons call it Evolution. It’s economic opponents often called it expropriation, outright theft. Its economic promoters say it’s simply a means of Labor achieving equality with Capital. Its religious opponents called it Hell on Earth. But its ‘religious’ proponents would call it Divine Justice. Not that they believe in the divine. Unless you count man as divine. Which they do, of course. You see the problem? Obviously. And this is only a smattering of the breadth and depth of it.

I believe we can find a common understanding if we do one simple thing. All we have to do is to separate two words which, in the minds of many, opponents and proponents alike, seem to be synonyms. Yet I believe that the two are actually antonyms. The problem we have today in understanding them both is that we have conflated them and their true meanings. So the task we have is to see if there is an actual historical difference between them. Then, we might be able to converse with our neighbors about the historical actuality we have before us without falling into semantic confusion. Because, as you know, I believe semantics is everything. So then, let’s see what it is we’re really talking about as we attempt to talk to each other.

What are these two words I deny are synonyms? Well, Communism is one of them, obviously. But the other, viewed with suspicion and approval alike, is this; Bolshevism. I contend that in most every instance, speakers who use the first word are actually referring to the second. Whether they approve or disapprove of what they are describing, they’re actually talking about Bolshevism. Which, by the way, is also a misnomer, from the political perspective, as it simply means ‘the majority’. But let’s leave that aside for now, although it has further meaning, that meaning is apart from this conversation.

The problem, as I see it, is that very few people today are able to distinguish between these two words for one simple reason. They lack historic perspective. In other words, we are idiots, historically speaking. And why is that? It’s because most of us think these two items, Communism and Bolshevism, have a common history. But they do not. Most emphatically, they do not!

Even fairly educated people often see the rise of both as occurring in the mid 1800’s, with the coming of Karl Marx and the European revolutions of 1848. Yes, some actually can see it in the French Revolution of 1789. Or the Paris Commune of 1871. The rest of the masses think everything occurred in November of 1917. Or in Red October, if you’re still on the Old Calendar. But they miss the mark by 1500 years when they talk of Communism. And they are equally off the mark when describing Bolshevism.

Not only that, these same people confuse East and West when pointing to the true origins of these words, and what they mean. They all, almost to a man, would identify Bolshevism with the East, with Moscow. And that leads them, in their historic amnesia, to conclude that Communism too has an Eastern origin. Or at least a Central European one. Which, to a Londoner, would mean ‘eastern’. And truth be told, Bolshevism is actually an Eastern phenomenon. But like Communism, it too is much more ancient than generally thought. We’ll get to that. Right now, I’m more interested in what people think about Communism. Why is that? Because, Komrade, Communism is a Western invention.

The origins of Communism are far older and far more Western than most suppose. And the reason for that lies in the roots of the word itself. Semantics, again. Time for a drink! And a smoke. You do smoke, right? Just remember, God made tobacco. So it must be useful.

The root of Communism would be The Commune. Or The Commons as we say in the Benedictine West. Huh? Where is that? In Christendom, of course. You know, the place Benedict of Nursia built when Imperial Rome ran away from the Barbarians. The same place where Holy Rome had to take up the task of administering justice and dispensing mercy when Caesar fled to Byzantium. The same place where the monastery became the heart of civic life, replacing the Forum. Where The Family regained its rightful place, displacing The Force.

Yes, Benedictine Europe is where Communism began. And it is the only place Communism could actually work. The only place it could actually be productive. And the reason for this is because that Europe was based on the family. And the family is based on love. In the late 400’s, when the Empire’s grip was receding from Western Europe, there was very little love available. Why? Because the Emperor had stolen most of it. And by stealing (taxing) the family to near-death, he had rendered the Empire defenseless. After all, it is one thing to have money to pay the Legions. It is quite another to raise those Legions. And if nobody wanted to join (like the Patricians of Rome) and the Plebes couldn’t afford many (or any) children, then who would you get to defend your Empire? Right-O. You’ve got to hire your enemies. The Barbarians. The Auxiliaries. And you’d better meet the payroll, or heads will roll. Ask Alaric what happens when payday is late.

Anyway, as the Legions drew back towards the new center (Constantinople), this void drew in the Barbarians who were not on the Emperor’s payroll. Or was it the other way around? Well, maybe it’s both? In any event, the vacuum created when the Empire shifted allowed other powers to exercise theirs. And this was to the detriment of the civilized people of the Empire. And the chaos that ensued dissolved the cities, those anchors of civilization, as they were plundered in turn. Which is where Benedict stepped into the breach. He abandoned the wealth that was his (by birth) in his effort to re-establish the root of civilization, the family. And who was he emulating? Aeneas, of course.

What? What do I mean? Well, read The War at Troy by Quintus of Smyrna, and you’ll have a clue. If you knew why Aeneas was saved from death by Calchas, the pagan Greek Seer (his sworn enemy), you’d know why this is supremely important. So let’s review what Calchas said as he stopped his own men from slaying the one good man left in Troy. Never mind the first part of this prophecy, although that too is divinely sublime. Let’s look at the second part of the utterance of Calchas. Here is why he said Aeneas should be spared:

…And let us, in any case, keep our hands away from this man, because in preference to gold and all his other possessions, things that preserve a man when he goes as an exile to a foreign land, in preference to all of this, he has chosen his father and his son. A single night has revealed to us a son marvelously kind to his old father, a noble father marvelously kind to his son. (The War at Troy, Quintus of Smyrna, Combellack’s translation, p. 243.)

And there you have it. Benedict, like Aeneas, decided that he would rather fight to save his family instead of fighting to preserve to rotted Empire. And the gods were in awe of this. Or at the very least, they were forced to yield. Forced? By whom? Well, who’s got that kind of clout? How many guesses do you want?

The result, for Aeneas, was the founding of Rome. And what would become Holy Rome, as this foundation was based on The Family, and not The Force. Benedict did the same as Aeneas. But in his case, being celibate, he grew his family by adopting all the fatherless foundlings of the ebbing Empire. And he did it in the midst of the wilderness. Thus grew the new Rome, the Rome of Christendom that built and ruled Europe for a thousand years. Yes, this is the Europe tourist go to see. Nobody visits the Continent to marvel at the European Central Bank. Benedict’s monasteries became the nexus of the new cities of Europe, peopled by the refugees of both the Plebian orphans and the good Barbarians who despised their own people’s pagan ways.

What’s this got to do with Communism? Simply everything, Komrade. Because Communism is the approved operating system of The Family. Just ask Karl Marx: ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs‘.

Or ask yourself this: what are the abilities of an infant? And are they vastly outweighed by that same infant’s needs? So here we have the only situation where the disparity between one persons’ work and another person’s need to benefit from the other’s work will be met with approval by all involved, and not jealousy or resentment. What father will give his child a stone when the child asks for bread? If the parents bring the child up rightly, then the child will become a productive adult, and the cycle will repeat itself. And the former child will repay the parent by taking care of them as they age. This system worked for over a thousand years. Forget ObamaCare. Forget Medicare. Forget the State. Only the Church has a moral imperative to treat it’s members as something more than cattle.

Communism is actually a description of how the family should operate. And that by extension, the Church, the Big Family, should (and actually does) operate on this same principle. And all at the local level. Who invented hospitals? Who created orphanages? Who built the universities? None of them were for-profit ventures in their origins. They were built for love, not money. But when you remove the parental love from the equation by substituting The Emperor for the role of The Father, you have removed the one element that will keep envy and jealousy from entering the community equation. We’ll examine this substitution shortly.

How does this small, nuclear example of the family grow to encompass society as a whole? The answer is so simple. It is the concept of The Commons. Eh? You know, the lands owned by the monasteries of Benedict and his men. The lands tamed of Barbarian ways by fierce warrior-monks who would lovingly kill outside malefactors who threatened their larger family. As any good father would. Now these monks never went anywhere, let alone looking for trouble. They didn’t have to. It always found them first. But they never ran from it either. Which is why we call these Priest-Monks by their deserved title of Father. Forget the Emperor. He wants you to fight to protect him. These men will fight to protect you. For free. Why? Because you are their sons and daughters.

(By the bye, I once was associated, loosely, with a bunch of poets. Not by choice, mind you. I was looking for recruits. But these fellows only wanted to talk about love. A passive love, one that never had to act, let alone with force. They said they would gladly die for their wives. Idiots, I said to them. A man must be willing to kill for his wife. Because if he dies for her, the killer gets his wife. Is that what you want, I asked? Is that what she wants? Idiots! Killing is love in action. Yes, we must love our enemies. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t kill them when they’re scaling the walls. Later we can have a Mass said for them. By the monks, of course.)

Anyway, these same Benedictine villages (and then cities) that grew up surrounding the protective aura of monasteries in the wilderness were totally dependent on the monastery. Why? Because if you were part of the community of belief, you were given the right to farm and graze the Commons owned (and cleared) by these same monks. The same monks that fed and protected you spiritually also saw that you were fed and protected physically. But you had to be a man about it. You had to farm this land yourself (along with your sons). And your faithful participation in this pact of love meant that your children would have the perpetual right to this same land, this same protection, this same participation in the Big Family of God.

When the marauders returned (as they always do), you had to help man the walls of the monastery where you and your family took shelter. You had to lay your life on the line to protect your family, and by extension, your community. Just like the Monks had done to begin with. And so it was. These same monks, who gave their own lives to tame the land and build the walls of protection and who made them available to all who shared their faith. Common faith, common land, common destiny. Communing together, in peace. Communism. And it worked, for over a thousand years. Until Henry (and his eastern imitator, Ivan III) destroyed the monasteries and stole their lands, and introduced the new paradigm; poverty for the masses. Welcome to today. Now you know why Donald won. The poor have revolted. But what is it they will embrace?

In New Zealand, “Transgender” Wins Weightlifting Contest, River Becomes Person

In New Zealand, “Transgender” Wins Weightlifting Contest, River Becomes Person:

Now I ask you, is it strange in a country where a woman pretending to be a man wins a weight-lifting contest, that that country would declare a river to be a person?

Wait. It might have been a man pretending to be a woman. You can never tell in these “transgender” stories which part of Reality has been affronted.

What we do know is that the New Zealand Herald reported a “transgender” person named Hubbard won a weight-lifting competition, besting the second-place finisher by hosting about 40 additional pounds.

Now this was either a man pretending to be a woman, and therefore this is a story that a man lifted more weight than a woman, which falls under the Dog-Bites-Man category. Or it was a woman pretending to be a man, in which case it must have been a woman juiced on various drugs, like anabolic steroids and testosterone, to make her competitive with real men. And that makes it a story of performance-enhancing legal-illegal drug use.

Both stories are depressing.

As is the story that New Zealand’s Parliament has recognized the Whanganui River as a legal person. Yes, the river, also called Te Awa Tupua, is to be treated the same as hot dog hawkers and college professors. According to BioEdge:

Riverine personhood is an untested concept in a Western legal system. According to the government, Te Awa Tupua will now have its own legal personality with all the corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person. Lawyers say that the river cannot vote and cannot be charged with homicide if people drown in it. But it will have to pay taxes, if liable. The gender of the river is unspecified at the moment.

How this riverine person will pay taxes is something to be watched. Maybe in the spirit of Finders-Keepers, the river will offer up rings and other jewelry lost by actual people while swimming? But will swimming be allowed? You can’t swim in an actual person, it unfortunately cannot go without saying, but can you swim in a riverine person?

That brings up the natural question: How will we know Mr—or Miss—Whanganui’s opinion about swimming? We don’t even know his or her’s preferred “gender”. Obviously, like in Hubbard’s case, people are free to call themselves whatever “gender” they wish. Thinking anything else is rank bigotry. But we at least have the advantage of asking Hubbard’s opinion whether she is a he or he is a she, or whatever. We can assume Whanganui gurgles, as all rivers do, but who speaks river and thus who can tell us about Whanganui preferred gender?


If you are a man or woman or in-between, you can click here and read the rest.

How Will The Dictatorship Arise?

In his now not-often-read The Evolution of Political Thought, C. Northcote Parkinson was “considering the question of how long a democratic phase of government may be expected to last”, correctly noting, as did Hayek in The Road To Serfdom, that throughout history democracies tend to devolve, or perhaps dissolve is a better word, into dictatorships.

Tend to itself is the wrong modifier for the verb. Leaving it off gives a more accurate picture. Let’s hear first from Parkinson, then we’ll pose a question afterwords. (With my paragraphications to make blog reading easier; the excerpt is too long to stick into blockquotes, which on some browsers render in italics; instead, there are horizontal lines; pp 239–241.)

In considering the question of how long a democratic phase of government may be expected to last, we can appeal to reason, to history and to recent experience. Merely theoretical discussion would lead us to expect one of two things. Either the proletariat would establish a socialist state or it would fail as against middle-class opposition.

If it succeeded, the State would acquire such an accumulation of centralised power — political, economic, religious and cultural — that some of the former upper class would be goaded into revolt. Supposing the conspiracy or rising should attract any measure of support, in the name of freedom, the strongest personality in the government would make himself dictator during the emergency: thereafter, the rising crushed, he would remain dictator as a precaution against any future threat of the same kind.

In the opposite case, supposing that the socialist police state has not been firmly established, the middle classes might rally to protect their lives and property. In the struggle they will appoint a leader or more probably allow the leader to appoint himself. By the time the conflict ends in a middle-class victory, the leader will have become dictator; and he must remain dictator, this time in a capitalist police state, to prevent the proletariat rising again.

Civil War of this kind seems likely to produce dictatorship in any case; nor do dictatorships of different origin differ from each other as much as might be supposed. For the dictator, in the last resort, is not so much a master of intrigue and cruelty as a man with sufficient moral courage to open fire.

It is sometimes thought that the invention of automatic weapons has ended forever the effectiveness of the mob, putting all the trump cards in the hands of whatever government there is. But revolutions are not brought about, have never been brought about, by weapons; nor is it by weapons that a rising is suppressed.

Governments which collapse when mobbed are usually lacking not weapons but courage. At some point in a situation of growing disorder someone must give the order to fire or charge. In a capital city — with the certainty that half the casualties will be innocent bystanders — this requires a fair amount of courage, it is easiest for a foreigner, a Prince Rupert, a Napoleon, a General Dyer; and easier still if the troops are also foreign — Scottish mercenaries in Paris, Swiss mercenaries in Rome or German mercenaries in Algiers.

But the risk is considerable, for the man who takes the responsibility may never be forgiven by the people and may easily be disowned by his own side. That is why a feeble government will allow riot and bloodshed to go on for days while its leaders twitter among themselves about humanity. Some twenty cartridges will disperse the average crowd but a man like Napoleon does not stop at that; he cheerfully uses artillery. The smoke has hardly cleared before he finds himself dictator.

Once a man has become dictator he cannot, usually, abdicate. If he does, the enemies he has made will kill him. Sulla resigned, it is true, and lived for a year. But Julius Caesar could not have resigned — he was murdered even while still in office. Pompey could not have resigned, nor Cromwell, nor Napoleon. It is the knowledge of his own danger that drives the dictator on to eliminate his opponents. Nor does it very much matter whether he began, like Julius Caesar, as a democratic leader, or like Sulla as the saviour of the oligarchs.

Once in office he must rule as he can. That is why Gandhi was supremely right in maintaining, as he did, that an egalitarian democracy cannot be achieved by force but only by persuasion. Once violence has been used, the feelings aroused will make further violence unavoidable. And in a state of tension and fear the party led by one will always (given anything like equal chances) defeat the party led by a committee. There are therefore abstract reasons for doubting whether socialism, as a phase in the decline of democracy, can be expected to last for long. There are abstract reasons again for supposing that it will lead to dictatorship.

Parkinson goes on to ask, “Does history, generally, bear out this conclusion?” The answer is yes. For example, “In ancient Greece the examples of democracy turning into dictatorship after a phase of socialism were so numerous that the Greek thinkers felt justified in regarding that sequence as almost a law of nature.”

Why? “Gandhi…says plainly that democracy cannot work if the voter’s chief aim is to benefit himself. In his view (and he is obviously right) no good can come of the violence which a state confiscation of private wealth must involve.”

What struck and stays with me is Parkinson’s the courage to fire on the crowd. Given our innumerable riots and other violent disturbances, it is obvious this courage has been lacking. It won’t always be. When it comes, it will be instantly recognizable and it will be clear to all that our democracy has at long last come to its end.

Here is the basis of our question (of which it would be best to read the whole of the Chapter from which the quotations are drawn): “The democracy that does not fail through socialist violence fails through mere incompetence; and through an incompetence which has become notorious, public and measurable.”

The question is this: from where will the dictatorship arise? Out of socialism and thus from displaced elites, or via middle class dissatisfaction? The Left is now screeching (and screaming) that Trump is a manifestation of the latter, though his mettle has not yet been tested: no crowds have been fired upon. Contrasted to those fears are the true observation that the State has been acquiring “such an accumulation of centralised power — political, economic, religious and cultural — that some of the former upper class would be goaded into revolt.” Trump does not fill that bill, though he is from the upper class; yet with the reins of power he is certainly not displaced.

My bet is on a reaction to socialism, since in the States the middle class is dispersed over too wide an area to conglomerate and because, as just said, the middle class can elect its leader who can hold power without direct violence. It’s not that Trump won’t fire on the rabble, but that doing so while he has the elected and Constitutional power to do so would not make him dictator.

Thus, a reaction to socialism. We have breathing space of at least four years, and more likely eight to ten. After that, the most natural thing is to look for a military coup to some outrage that comes too quickly after a string of power-grabbing outrages. Our friend John Zmirak suggests an outlawing of Christianity.

What do you say?

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