Extraordinary Comments

Comments that add as much to this site as the posts do, selected, with thanks to all, by the WordPresser-in-Chief…

First, let me resist the binary that “you’re either for or against Trump,” at least for purposes of this discussion where we’re evaluating more than just a particular act in the voting booth. I don’t like much of Trump’s word choice, but Trump would not exist without the toxic, uncivil media and political environment we have today, full of double standards against people of a non-leftist point of view. (And yes, I’m operating in a bigger tent than just “conservatives” at this point in our political history.) Yes, this puts us in a “relativist” way of looking at things, which is discomfiting for me as a conservative. But from that perspective, Trump presents a possible way out of the leftist dead end. To square that with a more objective, the-ends-do-not-justify-the-means perspective, I have to assume that Trump’s media tactics can be cleaned up so they are not objectively distasteful and yet still effective. I think they can, but I grant that it’s debatable.

But to be clear: no, I am not saying that lying or being gross is justified because the left does it too. I believe those are not the essence of his media strategy and that strategy, that incredibly effective strategy, could be cleaned up and made defensible and still quite effective.

As for your line of argument based on “responsible” government, we have different priors. My assumption is that the reigning leftism in American government today is destructive and must be stopped. Fairly typically conservative. I also contend the destructive effects are imminent and becoming irreversible. Maybe I’m on the alarmist side, but still basically conservative. I gather from your comments, on the other hand, that you think we have a good long while to go before there is anything to be really alarmed about, even to the point that losing the Supreme Court would not be irreversible. I disagree. That is why I would risk a President Trump: not because I want “to bring down the monarchy,” but rather because I want to save it before it’s too late. A Hail Mary play is radical on the opening drive, but perfectly rational and conservative in the dwindling seconds of the fourth quarter. (For that matter, if I were to insist on my own priors – rather than acknowledge our respective priors are disputed – I could argue that you are trying to “bring down” what’s left of our constitutional republic by supporting Hillary, even if she will “safely” bring it down. For that matter, I do not believe it worthy to talk about the “safe” way to bring our own liberty to an end.)

As for Trump’s policies, I will stipulate that he doesn’t have a core of values. Again, I make no secret that conservatives have a terrible choice in front of them. The way I approach it is this: I have to assume that I have no idea what Trump will do on any given issue, with the exception of those he’s made a big fuss about, like immigration, which he could not fail to carry through without a major blow to his ego, which he would not abide. But conservatives have a mediating force in the Congress, and so were Trump to go full left on a particular issue, conservatives would have about as much chance in thwarting it as if Clinton were in office. And obviously, a 50% chance that Trump will go left on an issue is better odds than Clinton offers.

As for protecting the GOP brand, I am pretty open about being a Republican, but I find less and less about it to defend. I’ve come around to the view that one of the biggest issues facing our country – cyclic government dependency – will never be fixed in the regular course of accounting adjustments (probably by design), and that it must instead be addressed by immigration policy (also likely left unfixed by design). Thus, I see immigration as a sui generis issue, a threshold before any other problem can be meaningfully resolved. Until then, GOP credibility will continue to dissolve with ever more promises that will go unfulfilled because no one lacks the will or ability to stem low-skilled immigration to a country that already can’t take care of its low-skilled citizens. I think Trump has a point here that criticizing his “tone” rings hollow when he’s been willing to grab the third rail and hold on.

You say: “The “preference for the status quo” is the sine qua non of “conservatism.”” That is too facile. No one seriously argues that conservatives cannot criticize the welfare state or the alphabet-soup bureaucracy, which have been status quo for over a generation. Besides, what conservatives mean by “status quo” doesn’t control while we’re on a leftist trajectory. There is no “status quo” on a freeway onramp – and we’ll soon be on the highway to disaster. What I am interested to know is: what is there about the credibility of the GOP as it exists today that is worth such deference as to yield to the speculative concern that Trump would substantially harm it? And what will the GOP’s capital buy after a Clinton tenure when it has bought so little to date? Most people hate both parties, and I’m starting to agree – the GOP too consistently confuses defending markets with defending business, and is often too anemic a defender of life and religious liberty. Are we to believe the GOP could have made its big move and gained major victories if only Trump would get out of its way?

Again, I do not and cannot argue that the best reasons supporting Trump are typically “conservative” ones, except to the extent that one believes, as I do, that we don’t have another quarter to play and our best move left to play is, in any other circumstance, a very poor one. For that matter, the arguments against Trump make conservatism sound like an argument for managed decline.

Noted & Quoted, Politics # # #
Lanced Infinity

I've given a little more thought to your citation of the Roman aqueducts, and I realize that I missed something important about it--it posed far more of a challenge to my characterization of the "hydraulic project hypothesis" as a "projection from contemporary life" than I at first understood.

In my initial response, I focused on the distinction between the Romans as an antecedent Western people vs. the Nazca as a wholly extraneous, archaic people. But to the extent that the paquios are hypothesized as a "water distribution system" then they can be analogized to the Roman aqueducts, as you in fact did, and that is enough to make clear that the hypothesis--whatever its flaws may otherwise be--is not a projection "from contemporary life". So with deeply felt shame and contrition, I'm afraid I must retract that assertion of mine, despite my repeated asseverations to you and Bob that it was just obvious, etc.

I still think the substance of my criticism of the hypothesis stands--namely, that it is a guess, a belief, not knowledge, and that we can never actually know what the paquios are, but only speculate about them.

To the extent we’re referring to a particular narrative – “our history” or “history for us” – maybe we’re in the process of bringing or trying to bring Nazca civilization into “history for us.”

And to the extent that we are trying to bring Nazca civilization into "history for us" via imaginative speculations that are unlikely to be true in the sense of scientific truth, then (on analogy with Machtpolitik) we might term that undertaking Machthistorie--bringing the Other into our history by intellectual or imaginative force. Nor am I necessarily objecting to that undertaking. Like the Freund/Feind distinction that lies at the heart of the concept of the political--like Machtpolitik itself--Machthistorie may be so eminently natural and necessary as to be hardly objectionable.

Noted & Quoted, Science
Lanced Infinity

I enjoyed this one.

I have been immersed in a similar matrix of issues on the Tibetan Buddhist side now for almost 2 years. The controversy around "self emptiness" and "other emptiness" brought to their peak expressions by Tsong-kha-pa and Dolpopa respectively mirrors this discussion in many ways, and differs in many others.

The question appears here as - is mere negation of the self possible, or does it implicitly affirm, through the body of attributes of that negation, a greater, inherently existing self.

This formulation is undoubtedly clumsy and probably misleading in a lot of ways. But I report on this because the question, in this and a multitude of other expressions, seems to me to be reiterated in almost everything I think about to any significant degree.

Just a note continuing a previous discussion we've had, I think V mischaracterizes the Aquinas' MBoC. The appalling interpretation of the Church you refer to regarding the Nazi's is fully consistent with A. If you want to assert a duty for universalism for the Catholic Church, it's best to look elsewhere. A. clearly equates the Church with the MBoC.

I believe Pope Francis has affirmed the restrictive interpretation of the MBoC and looks to the tradition of his namesake to support a broadening of the Church's pastoral program.

Anismism, Featured, History, Philosophy, Religion # # # #
Lanced Infinity

This is a good and thought-provoking post. I can't quite congeal my thoughts into anything coherent, but I wanted to say that. And to touch on the one part where I can be at least semi-coherent:

All I can say is that I think there is some truth to your meta. Which is to say that there are certain things I consider to be truths that We Cannot Say, really, because if we say them then The Wrong People will hide behind them. Even saying so much as "It's Complicated" is one of those things. Right now, it's a Black and White discussion, and "it's complicated" is like saying that the motives of the war were complicated. Which they were in some ways, but not the genuinely important ones. And focusing on the unimportant is seen as a distraction. And, I think, is. Especially when there are voices who very desperately want to distract.

One of the things I am grappling with is a print of a painting of Lee and His Generals, which hangs at my parents house and, on their passing, will end up in my hands. And it's a painting that has a very personal meaning for me apart from any reverence to General Lee. It's me, ten years old, looking at the painting of all of those generals in their getups and how it tickled my imagination. And going back to that place. Not nostalgia for 1861 so much as for 1988.

But a painting of Lee and His Generals is, as objectively as it can be, inescapably a reverence. And if we were, at any point, to admit that it might be something else for some people in some circumstances, then people will find a reason for it to be about something-anything else. Which The Flag has demonstrated so clearly.

It's why we can't have nice things. It's why we can't have the flag. Whatever some southerners might want it to mean, history and recent use has made sure that it will ultimately mean what its critics say it means (in the United States at least).

Featured, notes, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, History, US History, War # # # #
Lanced Infinity

You'll notice that in my post I hardly mention what happened in Charleston. This is because me Charleston is just one violent projection of this problem into the world, one among many, all more or less violent, though some merely symbolically or culturally so. As I said in the post, the obsession with the Confederacy has led to a segregated sense of history and southernness, a segregation enforced in a variety of ways, some of which involve physical violence, some of which merely involve silencing voices or drowning them with signs and symbols of the white southern identity.

I mention this because who I am arguing against are precisely the voices you say we can't hear on that site. You are probably right about that, but since I grew up around and spent my formative years making such arguments, in mostly less well-formed ways, with the sort of people whose ideas wouldn't be welcome at OT (though Bob Cheeks once was, before he wasn't), I wouldn't be averse to them showing up now.

Featured, notes, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, History, US History, War # # # #
Lanced Infinity
CK's WP Plugins

Noted & Quoted

(0)

The most painful aspect of this has been to watch people I previously considered thoughtful and principled conservatives give themselves over to a species of illiberal politics from which I once thought they were immune.

In his 1953 masterpiece, “The Captive Mind,” the Polish poet and dissident Czeslaw Milosz analyzed the psychological and intellectual pathways through which some of his former colleagues in Poland’s post-war Communist regime allowed themselves to be converted into ardent Stalinists. In none of the cases that Milosz analyzed was coercion the main reason for the conversion.
They wanted to believe. They were willing to adapt. They thought they could do more good from the inside. They convinced themselves that their former principles didn’t fit with the march of history, or that to hold fast to one’s beliefs was a sign of priggishness and pig-headedness. They felt that to reject the new order of things was to relegate themselves to irrelevance and oblivion. They mocked their former friends who refused to join the new order as morally vain reactionaries. They convinced themselves that, brutal and capricious as Stalinism might be, it couldn’t possibly be worse than the exploitative capitalism of the West.

I fear we are witnessing a similar process unfold among many conservative intellectuals on the right.

Comment →
(0)

The precarious feeling of uncertainty will nonetheless persist, at least until U.S. authority, in Europe or anywhere else, is seriously challenged. And there are signs that a challenge is coming. In the past few days, the Russian government has recognized passports from the phony “republics” that Russian-armed, Russian-controlled “separatists” have created in eastern Ukraine — perhaps, as one Russian official suggested, as a prelude to granting them Russian passports or even annexing the territories outright. Russian planes repeatedly buzzed a U.S. destroyer on patrol in the Black Sea. Most ominously, Russia has reportedly deployed a new generation of cruise missiles, a move that violates existing arms treaties and could make it easier for Russian bombs to reach European capitals.

There is no reason to think that these small “tests” will not be repeated. And if any one of them explodes into something worse, then talk of “shared values” will not help. Nor will repeated reassurances from Cabinet members. At some point, the enforced ambiguity will fall away, it will not be possible to disguise reality with “Swedish incidents” and we will learn what the president actually believes. I just hope that we are all prepared.

Comment →
(0)

Our partners in the international order we created - some of whom we conquered to make it possible - are now seeking to defend it from us. Let's say that again, Defend it from us. How do we now as loyal Americans look at the warnings of the French and the Germans, as well as the British and our other erstwhile allies' warnings? This is a complicated question which different people, depending on their professions and governmental responsibilities and personal dispositions, must answer in different ways. But we cannot ignore the fact that the American experiment is now in a kind of exile - taken refuge elsewhere - and the executive power of the American state now under a kind of, hopefully temporary, occupation.

We face a comparable dynamic at home. I have been thinking for weeks that the central challenge and reality of the Trump Era is what do you do as an institutionalist when the central institutions of the state have been taken over, albeit democratically, by what amount to pirates, people who want to destroy them? To put it another way, do the institutions and norms which Trump and his gang are trying to destroy become shackles and obstacles in the way of those trying to defend them? There['re] no easy answers to these questions.

Comment →

@CK_MacLeod

State of the Discussion

bob
Ignored
Comments this threadCommenter Archive
+ I dunno, I think a lot of people looked at the TPers not as patriotic Americans but as bat shit crazy. Their difficulty in [. . .]
On Emulating the TP vs Trump’s GOP
CK MacLeod
Ignored
Comments this threadCommenter Archive
+ They will still have to cope with a version of the same conflict at every stage and level. Sooner or later, or constantly, any political [. . .]
On Emulating the TP vs Trump’s GOP
bob
Ignored
Comments this threadCommenter Archive
+ Sure, that's a fair characterization of the discussion outlined in the tweets. My point is that the information we have about "the left" is [. . .]
On Emulating the TP vs Trump’s GOP

Support This Site?