Saturday, March 31, 2018

Bits and Pieces


A few different, unrelated topics:

Falling Into Infinity

Russian diplomats expelled from various western countries; western diplomats expelled from Russia.  A further arms race driven by madness and a unilateral abrogation of treaty obligations.  Living on the edge of global war in Syria, Ukraine, Korea, the Baltics…

Assuming there are any survivors, historians will write of this coming war in the same way we write of World War I: it is unexplainable.  Sure, facts can be offered, dates and events.  But how would these read?

Some people didn’t like the election of Trump; they decided to blame everything on Russia; staying in power and expanding the empire was more important than the survival of humanity; crimes involving poison and gas were solved in record time – and the blame was always aimed at Russia.

Why did Russia place its borders so close to all those US military bases?

The Liberal World Order

I know my comments on this topic really bother some readers.  So I won’t say anything; I will merely cite someone else – via a link offered at LRC:


In his book The Hidden God, Lucien Goldmann draws some interesting conclusions, suggesting that the foundations of Western culture have rationalistic and tragic origins, and that a society immersed in these concepts that have “abolish[ed] both God and the community … [soon sees] … the disappearance of any external norm which might guide the individual in his life and actions.” And because by its very nature liberalism must carry on, in its mechanical fashion, “liberating” the individual from any form of structure (social classes, the Church, family, society, and gender, ultimately liberating man from his very self), in the absence of any standards of deterrence, it is quite logical that the Western world was destined to eventually find itself in crisis.

Well, I will say two things: first, I recall a time, long, long ago when Unhappy Conservative said something along these lines.  I didn’t understand it then; this idea has grown on me since.  Second, I am going to see if I can get my hands on a copy of this book.

Rothbard

It seems that some of those who knew Rothbard best don’t seem to find my approach to and understanding of Rothbard to be an issue.  In addition to the several comments made by some of you to this effect, I have received feedback along these lines from two individuals who were about as close to Rothbard as anyone.

Rothbard would love what I am doing and the way I am doing it – that’s what they tell me.  It seems maybe only those who look to him as a god might feel otherwise.

Universal Libertarians

A sneak peek into my next post in review of the book The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity: A Sociohistorical Approach to Religious Transformation, by James C. Russell.

It is striking how much universal Christianity and universal libertarianism have in common.  Both claim to offer a message to every human on earth; both claim to offer the possibility of salvation.

Two differences – and these, I suggest, are not unimportant: first, Christianity offers moral guidance, a guidance necessary if one hopes to find some semblance of peace on earth.  Second, and infinitely more important: Christianity is backed by…oh, what’s his name…oh yeah, Christ: the Son of God.

It strikes me that some connection to the supernatural is necessary if one is to believe in any universal calling for mankind.  Let’s just say I find as more likely some supernatural connections as opposed to others.

Libertarians for Israel?

One more position to ensure that people of goodwill will spend exactly zero time looking into the value of libertarianism as a political philosophy:

BBC: Palestinian officials say at least 16 people have been killed by Israeli forces and hundreds more wounded during protests at the Gaza-Israeli border.


Any Israeli soldiers killed or wounded…or even threatened?  I am guessing not, as clearly if this was the case all of the headlines would focus solely on this.

Palestinians have pitched five camps near the border for the protest. They are demanding that refugees be allowed to return to homes that are now in Israel.

Sorry, Abdul.  Two-thousand year-old-claims of dubious legitimacy trump your direct claim – after all, three libertarians say so.

The Israeli military oversees a no-go zone along the Gaza border, citing security concerns, and has doubled its troop presence for the protest. It fears the protest could be an attempt at a mass breach of the border.

I don’t get it: where are the libertarians who describe Israel as a libertarian state on this issue?  Where are the calls for open borders from these, or other, libertarian supporters of open borders?

Crickets.

I Pray That Payback is a Bitch

They are fawning all over Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  He is visiting the United States and meeting with the cream of the crop:

Last Tuesday MBS met with Bill and Hillary Clinton, Kissinger, Senator Chuck Schumer, and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres during a stop in New York City.  On Friday, he also met with the CEOs of Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan, James Gorman and Jamie Dimon.

With significant US assistance, this is what the Saudi’s have done to Yemen:

 



The Western press doesn’t bother reporting on this; instead we have Anderson Cooper interviewing porn stars.

There is no future for a society that ignores or even finds such things acceptable.  There is no future for a society when civic, business, and religious leaders remain silent – even complicit – even praising.

Nihilists on Parade

Sure, we can get children to protest a school shooting of a dozen or two.  Where are the protests regarding the murders by the millions?  (See the picture immediately above for clarification.)

Couldn’t Happen Nicer Guys

Facebook and Tesla; Zuckerberg and Musk.  Each one deserving, for different reasons, to be taken down a few dozen notches.  Live by the sword, die by the sword. 

There is No Hell

So says the pope.  A claim that this isn’t a direct quote; a suggestion that he was speaking to a friend as a friend and not as pope.  This would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.

On this topic, both the Bible and Church tradition could not be more clear.  But it seems rather clear that neither the Bible nor Church tradition guides many of this pope’s pronouncements.

No hell?  He better pray that this is so.  Then again, pray…to which god?

Happy Easter

Listening to this pope, one wonders why Christ died and rose again.  I do not listen to this pope, and I do not wonder as to Christ’s purpose and motivation in this most sacrificial task.  As Jordan Peterson has offered: what larger sacrifice can one offer than the sacrifice of himself and his son?

This was done, all in one event and in the body of one individual.

I thank God, in all the humility I can muster.

22 comments:

  1. Happy Easter to you, bm. He is worthy.

    -N

    https://youtu.be/OIahc83Kvp4

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  2. "ultimately liberating man from his very self"

    A rather Buddhistic idea.

    Jesus is risen!

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  3. Bionic, I can't thank you enough for this blog. The ideas you present are changing me.

    However, regarding Pope Francis ... It grieves me when laymen call into question things he may or may not have said. The Holy Father isn't a president or prime minister who was chosen by gullible voters—he was elected by the Church's leaders under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If he is promulgating error, God and those same leaders will hold him to account. I find it unseemly for Christians of good conscience to agitate against him.

    Thanks again for your service to your readers!

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    1. Why unseemly? The Pope is a celebrity (And this one in particular seems to (Have not measured) use his celebrity more than most if not all of his predecessors) and because of that they just can't theorize publicly. If you are a Pope and want the ability to do just talk then resign and you can blab all you want. The current Pope would not be the first one to resign/retire.

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    2. Geoff, to my knowledge at this moment: 1) it is correct that we don't have a direct quote, and 2) neither the Pope nor the Vatican has offered a clarification of the reported comments. But as long as the second point stands, his comments stand.

      As to it being "unseemly for Christians of good conscience to agitate against him," I ask: why?

      Church leaders have failed to hold accountable this pope and past popes; it isn't only in the Catholic church - this is true for many Christian denominations.

      Who held the boy-raping priests and bishops accountable? Was it the Church, or was it forced upon the Church? And have the perpetrators even been rightly held accountable?

      Who is accountable for the destruction of the traditions of the Church? Is it inappropriate for non-Church leaders to raise concern about Vatican II, the mass in Latin, etc.?

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    3. Geoff- is it unseemly for Christians who aren't Catholic? Loaded question, I realize.

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    4. Lots here.

      1) The Vatican did respond, although not in the way some wished. It seems to me that many are giving the benefit of the doubt to an elderly, communist atheist who doesn’t take notes rather than the Holy See. Ouch.

      2) One of the distintives of the RCC is that it has one authority (the Magisterium) for matters of faith and practice, and one Pope for leadership. When one challenges that leadership or leader, is one working against the divine order of God for his Church?

      3) Though the Magisterium is responsible for the Church’s teaching and the Pope for its leadership, every Catholic (and non-Catholic) has the right and responsibility to dial 9-1-1 for violations of morality and as we might say, trespasses against old-and-good laws. That some in the hierarchy of the Church failed to act is reprehensible.

      4) Finally, some aspects of Church practice are subject to change, eg. the concept of the rosary wasn’t given until 1214, and took its present form in the 16th Century. Personally, I find no loss in having the Mass in the vernacular. At the time the Latin Vulgate was translated from Hebrew, Aramaic (parts of Daniel), and Koine Greek, and the liturgy of the Church was being standardized based on the writings and traditions of the Fathers, the common tongue of the empire was Latin. I’m actually amazed that it took V2 to make the Mass accessible to all in their native language.

      Jeff, not a loaded question. The same question applies to all who call themselves Christian: who you gonna believe?

      (I hasten to add that those who developed heartburn with Papa Francisco upon the publication of “Amoris laetitia” ought to download and read it rather than depend on someone else’s summary of what it says.)

      Thanks for indulging me. Bionic, you and Jeff are giants. Long may you contribute to our understanding of liberty.

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    5. Geoff

      One giant and one mosquito!

      Let's just say I have some first-hand experience with church authority (clergy and lay, may or may not be Catholic, and at about as high a level as you might wish) and hypocrisy. That church leaders stay in positions of authority given such hypocrisy is unconscionable.

      Such hypocrisy should be challenged if not properly addressed within the church hierarchy (and what to do if it isn't, as in my experience). If, in fact, the challenger is wrong, then truth will win out.

      In any case, if you can point me to where the Vatican has clarified the statement attributed to the pope, or rebuked him if he in fact said such a thing, I would welcome this.

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    6. "if you can point me to where the Vatican has clarified the statement attributed to the pope"

      I offer the below as a humble observer to this entire exchange:

      "The quote came in an article in Italy's La Repubblica daily. But the Vatican said "no quotations" in the article "should be considered as a faithful transcription" of the Pope's words.

      The Vatican said the article was based on a private meeting the Pope had with the daily's founder, Eugenio Scalfari.

      Catholic Church doctrine affirms the existence of hell and its eternity.

      The souls of sinners descend into hell, where they suffer "eternal fire", the Catholic catechism states."

      http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-43596919

      I'm not testifying to it's veracity.

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    7. "But the Vatican said "no quotations" in the article "should be considered as a faithful transcription" of the Pope's words."



      No meat on this quote or in the article. It is akin to taking the 5th amendment, or perhaps "I can neither confirm nor deny...."

      What did the pope say? Is it irrelevant because it wasn't a formal interview?

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    8. "What did the pope say? Is it irrelevant because it wasn't a formal interview?"

      I find myself in a strange position.

      I'm agnostic, yet some might perceive me as "defending" a commie leaning(IMO) Pope. I'm not, nor do I want to, but I'm trying to be objective in my viewpoint.

      I agree with Geoff in that the Vatican appears to be going easy on the Pope's 93 year old atheist friend in what I perceive is a statement that suggests the Pope's friend misunderstood/got it wrong.(and has a history of doing so)

      I decided to go a step further and found the full statement from the Vatican:

      "The Holy Father recently received the founder of the newspaper La Republica in a private meeting on the occasion of Easter, without, however, granting him an interview. What is reported by the author in today’s article is the fruit of his reconstruction, in which the precise words uttered by the Pope are not cited. No quotations in the aforementioned article, then, should be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father."

      http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-03/pope-francis-article-repubblica-press-release.html

      Going another step further, I found the following direct quotations on the subject of "Hell" by the Pope that I'm going to assume reflects his personal opinion on the matter:

      "The most extensive papal explanation of hell came in response to a 2015 question from a female scout who asked, "If God forgives everyone, why does hell exist?" Francis acknowledged that this was a "good and difficult question."

      The pope spoke of a very proud angel who was envious of God, reports Catholic News Service.

      "He wanted God's place," said Francis. "And God wanted to forgive him, but he said, 'I don't need your forgiveness. I am good enough!'"

      "This is hell," explained the pope. "It is telling God, 'You take care of yourself because I'll take care of myself.' They don't send you to hell, you go there because you choose to be there. Hell is wanting to be distant from God because I do not want God's love. This is hell.""

      https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/signs-times/pope-francis-and-hell

      Now, is this the definition of Hell that is considered "good and proper"? I have no idea, and being agnostic I'm ill equipped to consider the notion- so I'll leave it to the experts. But it does appear to me that the Pope believes in some form of Hell.

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  4. "Rothbard would love what I am doing and the way I am doing it – that’s what they tell me. It seems maybe only those who look to him as a god might feel otherwise."

    Agreed.

    I started reading and following Rothbard in the 70s. I guarantee that Murray Rothbard would have loved what you are doing today.

    Those who think they know him often forget he made course changes over time. He was not closed minded --- he changed as conditions and information led him to new conclusions. For example, he tried an alliance with the "new left" that failed utterly. But hell, it was worth a try.

    Murray was one of my all time favorites, but he was no god. He was not always perfect.

    He would have loved this blog.

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  5. >>...because by its very nature liberalism must carry on, in its mechanical fashion, “liberating” the individual from any form of structure (social classes, the Church, family, society, and gender, ultimately liberating man from his very self)...<<
    Sounds to me like Communism and War are the ultimate expression of liberalism - just think of all the hundreds of millions of people liberated from themselves!

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    1. It is what is better known as cultural Marxism. Which demonstrates, once again, that libertarianism and communism are something akin to kissing cousins - and libertarians who truly value liberty might want to understand the whats and whys of this connection and ensure that they are not inadvertently (or otherwise) providing support for the other team.

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  6. Without an anchor, there are two ways a human can break: The individual is subservient to the mass-will, or the individual is paramount to the mass-will. Both of these extremes lei at the end of a slope. While people may be on that slope for some time, eventually they will end up in the pit of individualism or the pit of communism.

    Religion, especially christian religion is unique in the sense that it offers an anchoring point based on faith, not on reason. By sidestepping reason, people (religious people) can stay on the slope (or even both slopes) indefinitely.

    It should be noted that other societies have developed different means of staying on the slope, but they all deny logic. Christianity is unique in the sense that it allows logic to flourish because of the separation of faith and reason.

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    1. Hi Rien,

      "Christianity is unique in the sense that it allows logic to flourish because of the separation of faith and reason."

      Thomas Woods offers a somewhat different perspective. The Christian faith in the orderliness of creation nourished reason and science.

      "The Thomistic Catholic view [..] implied that the universe that God created is intelligible and orderly, since although God possesses the raw power to bring about randomness and lawlessness in the physical world, it would be inconsistent with His orderliness and rationality to behave in such a manner. It was precisely this sense of the rationality and predictability of the physical world that gave early modern scientists the philosophical confidence to engage in scientific study in the first place."

      Pope Innocent IV (1243 - 1254) thus described the universities (gift of the Catholic Church to Western Civ.) as "rivers of science which water and make fertile the soil of the universal Church."

      From: How the Catholic Church built Western Civilization," by Tom Woods.

      Cheers from Amsterdam,
      Richard

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    2. Thanks Richard, That is certainly part of the same picture. Ultimately though I think that christianity had to separate faith and logic before they could develop this.
      I think that this separation is one of the most interesting aspects of christianity. The separation did not come easily, and we can still see the occasional fallback. Though by now the church has learned not to dispute science in area's where there is "cold hard proof".

      Another equally interesting aspect is that the church has gone further than just science in accepting all kinds of new idea's. Which is imo in large part responsible for the fall of western society. But that is another discussion.

      Cheers from Dieren (Gelderland),
      Rien.

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    3. Book tip for Rien: the abovementioned book by Tom Woods is available in Dutch, as of yesterday!
      The title: "De Bouwmeesters van Europa: de geboorte van een beschaving uit de katholieke kerk"

      (Koop 'm ff)

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  7. Regarding the alleged Pope Francis statement, to me this was settled by his predecessor Pope John Paul II in his short book of essays, Crossing the Threshold of Hope (a personal favorite of mine). The issue is related to the theological debate over universalism (the theory that all may be saved) and the reality of hell.

    I expect the Pope was quite influenced by universalism, and probably from the prominent priest/theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar.

    Nevertheless, Pope JPII was clear in his little book that, no matter how valid and even righteous it is to hope for the salvation of all, Jesus warns us of the reality of the lake of fire, and these admonitions mean the possibility of hell resulting from judgment cannot be ruled out from this side of reality (and we lack the ability to peer to the other side). But I still agree with JPII in his exhortation to "be not afraid" (I believe John has a passage about being confident in judgment), at least to the point of dread or paralysis from fear of judgment, and instead follow Christ and be confident the chips will fall mercifully.

    Regarding universal libertarianism, I think it was Rothbard who also at one point acknowledged the similarity between communism and libertarianism (at least certain strains), as you have in prior posts, being something of a theory of liberation of peoples from oppression to achieve a more perfect society on Earth. Rothbard of course saw the class conflict as being between the State and its subjects. The affinity between the two is more clearly seen when others implicitly impose a mutual requirement(?) that ordinary people must essentially change their natures and walk away from thousands of years of history, and now live entirely differently with respect to property, social relations and governance.

    This is probably a reason why Rothbard gravitated towards accounting for culture and history as part of the tapestry for understanding what 'free society' is realizable. And more specifically, he seemed to refine libertarianism as being more the absence of cartels and not the removal of authority, but rather the substitution of the more wholesome voluntary civil society as the authority, with prominent families and clergy, and other naturally arising authorities that are the foundation for organized society; tearing those down as part of the "non-aggression axiom" will make for a less libertarian society.

    Somewhat on point, I couldn't help but read the publisher's copy for Robert Wenzel's new book on private property societies. I don't intend to spend my money on it, but the copy states that Wenzel "rejects all current thinking" and has a radical new theory for anarchism, with no natural rights, no justice theory, etc.. For these types of libertarians, this sounds as much like communism (radical, new, probably unattainable and unworkable), as it does libertarianism.

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    1. Thank you. From what I have read of Rothbard, what you have described is consistent with my view of his journey.

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    2. Perry, it’s a good book. I gladly spent money on it. I would really (subjectively) value purchasing one by BM. I think he has the potential to be the deepest thinker on bringing this all together, at least since Tom Woods found doing podcasts pays better than writing wonderful books!

      Eric Morris

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