Greg Swann, at my urging, reflects on Pope John Paul’s life and death.
Greg Swann, at my urging, reflects on Pope John Paul’s life and death.
I just landed in Chicago for a 3-day conference. Get back to the SF Bay Area Sunday evening. Don’t know if I’ll be able to blog anything or attend to comments.
…what I mean when I say that we live in a thoroughly and completely Upside-Down World, well, then now you know.
I don’t know what the vote was, but no matter; the Connecticut Supreme Court is welcome to rot in hell as far as I’m concerned.
Well, Radley, I can only say that it seems a far easier task to me, if one is to set about it, to kill a "right" when all one can say about it is that it’s written down in an old, albeit distinguished document.
Far tougher to kill a moral principle, if you catch my drift. ‘Course, that’s not about to stop them, either.
I’ll try to make this post concise and self-sufficient, but there’s quite a lot of background material. Ideally, you’ll be able to read just this and have a good idea of the thing. If it interests you and you have the time, I encourage you to delve through the background links.
Here’s the background, roughly in chronological order:
So, that’s the state of it as it is right now. If you’ve read the above background along with the comments to those entries with comments, then you’ve already picked up a lot of what I have to say on the matter.
To restate it, here, I think that this NLN, The New Libertarian, and all that’s wrapped up in it will go over pretty much like a lead balloon. But I also wish them well. They stand to be able to do some good by introducing people to reason and individualism, and they stand to do no harm whatsoever. I don’t and never have bought the puritanical notion that compromisers do any harm to non-compromisers. Libertarians hold zero political power. Compromise or non-compromise: it’s all about the same to those who do hold the power.
I also think it’s good to engage in such exercises, if for nothing else, to instruct yet another generation of libertarians that political participation for libertarians is a stark contradiction in terms. In the most basic terms I can put it, the whole fundamental and very first thing about libertarian political philosophy is the principle that nothing (except perhaps for God in the case of believers) comes before or supersedes the rights of the individual. Yet, each time you go to the polls to vote, you are affirming the counter-principle that the will of the majority precedes and supersedes the rights of any particular individual. The Constitution, you say? Then you’re saying that The Constitution supersedes the rights of the individual, so you’re still contradicting libertarian political philosophy.
This is an irreconcilable contradiction, folks. It’s as fundamentally irreconcilable as anything can be irreconcilable. This balance sheet is never going to balance, no matter what. And this is why all truly libertarian political action must necessarily fail. It’s built upon a contradiction. To the extent anyone can be successful is only the extent to which they compromise their principles. I’ve read a lot of dancing around this–that compromise is not about compromise of principles, but about desires, timetables, quantities and such.
But if I hold the principle that it’s wrong to rob others, then what am I doing if I look the other way even though I desire the robber to quit? What does it say if I accept the robbery for a little while longer, provided he agrees to stop later? What does it mean if I agree that he simply takes less? I’ll tell you what it means: it means that I prefer that myself and others not be robbed. But I certainly don’t hold any principle about it. That’s why there’s a distinction to be made between preferences and principles. It’s easy to prefer.
And on top of that, democracies don’t ever, ever vote themselves smaller governments. It’s not in their nature. You can try to make the voters libertarians, but then you’ll soon have the dilemma that if they’re really libertarians, they’re very unlikely to compromise their stated principles by going to the polls to vote. You’ve got an honest-to-God Catch-22 on your hands, there–and that’s even assuming you could indoctrinate a lot of libertarians, which you likely can’t.
But as I said, I don’t mind any of this. None of it matters–though it’s important to try to keep the ideas and ideals alive–and that’s why guys like Billy Beck deserve our encouragement. He knows he’s not going to change anything, and I know it. He knows the NLN isn’t going to change anything, and I know it.
However, if I am optimistic about the future, then it’s only because I know and understand what a great potential is bound up in the human being. The truth is that I believe a bright future awaits humanity, but I have no earthly idea how they will achieve it. I’m only quite confident that conventional philosophy will have little to do with it, if anything, and that political action will have absolutely nothing to do with it.
When it happens, it will be like Edison shining a light on the world. It’ll be like Henry Ford putting a car in every garage. It will be like Bill Gates making individuals massively productive through computer software. It will be like Albert Einstein providing not only a way to solve problems that could never be solved previously, but a way to find and solve new problems no one previously knew existed.
Collectivism is here to stay until such point as it simply goes away–like slavery suddenly went away. Like one day man couldn’t fly, and the next day he could.
In the meantime, there’s only three things libertarians can do with any hope of having any effect:
Civil disobedience is the only known peaceful way to potentially collapse collectivism. It would probably require less than a million people–provided all were steadfast.
If not that, then we’re just going to have to wait for the right discovery to come along–and hope that it comes along in our lifetimes.
In the meantime, do everything you can to make your life worth the living, in spite of everything else.
Update: Greg Swann ads relevancies.
You know, there are at least several million worse ways for you and a traveling companion to spend $15,000-$30,000 (plus round-trip airfare to Naples).
Be sure to check out the brochure.
Prepared to be impressed? Here’s my home office network, which I’ve been messing with since yesterday morning’s activities (see the previous entry). Excuse the mess, but when you’re head deep in this sort of stuff…
Starting from the left rear, that’s my Sony Vaio Digital Studio, and to the right, that’s a new HP Digital Studio that I just got for Bea yesterday to replace her iMac that’s sitting right there in the center. Yes, that’s a 19" Sony flat screen monitor, same as the one in my office at work. In the front, to the right is Bea’s PowerBook, and to the left, my Fujitsu Notebook.
And, guess what? They are all networked together. Not just the PCs with the PCs and the Macs with the Macs, but all together. They can all print to that laser printer (lower right), can all share files with one-another, and all share the high-speed Internet connection. The two notebooks are 802.11 Wi-Fi equipped, and so we can be hooked in to the LAN and Internet anywhere in the house, even out in the backyard. But, you want to see something really cool?
That’s an iTunes console, and I’ve got it installed on every machine. Since they’re all networked, they can share each other’s music, and you don’t have to transfer files. It just plays it on your machine right across the network. Right there, I’m playin’ somethn’ from Dire Straits that’s on my notebook, but not on the desktop. This will be useful when we have a party in the back yard. Just plug an amp and speakers into one of the notebooks, and access all other music on all other machines throughout the house–wirelessly. I told you it was really cool.
And here’s another thing.
That’s Fox News playing on the new HP desktop. I’ve had the DirecTV box hooked into my Sony for a long time, but Microsoft’s new Media Center is way better than Sony’s Giga Pocket. It’s really pretty much like having TIVO in your computer. It downloads the program guide off the Internet and keeps it current, so you can pick programs to record ahead of time, or, even have it record regular programs whenever they’re on. You can pause and rewind live TV, etc.
Alright then. Back to it. Time to clean up this mess.
It’s 9:00 am on this Saturday morning, and I’ve already taken both cars down to the car wash and secured myself a spring (short) haircut. The only downside was having to sit in the barber’s chair listening to the ignorant banality spewing forth on every topic from steroids in baseball to health care and retirement plans. Jesus.
One funny note, though. Had a home-improvement show on the radio, and no shit, I heard this slogan at the end of one of the adverts:
The biggest name in caulk.
Wonder if Rachel Lucas would’ve picked up on that.
I’m likely to catch shit over this, but I have to maintain my integrity, and by implication, there’s certain things that have to be posted here in spite of how unenvious I am of doing so.
I cannot morn the apparent near-term passing of Pope John-Paul II. At least not in the sense of his office, anyway. I don’t know his heart, of course, but I am automatically suspicious of all authoritarians, and the Roman Catholic institution (as all religious institutions) is as authoritarian as you can get without actually engaging in violence or the threat thereof. Moreover, I have not a shred of doubt in the world that if any of these religious institutions again possessed the political power they once held, that they would use it precisely as they once did.
I believe they are wholly unrepentant in this regard.
Thus, while I can grudgingly accept the apparent "need" for some people to harbor and maintain fanciful notions of a God and streets paved in gold, etc., that is a far cry, to me, from institutions that preach the natural depravity of man, and who, incidentally, advance the even more evil agenda of foisting unearned guilt upon innocent people for the very involuntary thoughts that go through their own private minds.
You know, if we ever perish as a civilization, it will be this mysticism disease—the stupidity disease—that sends us once and for all down the river. As primitive philosophy, it suited men fine for a while, I suppose. In a world where man handily outcompetes the primitive notions of God on a daily basis, it’s foolhardy and dangerous nonsense that risks killing us all.
The real distinction to make between Islamic insanity and modern religion is that so far, modern religious institutions have been able to keep pace, to a degree, with the advance of man—with the advance of his knowledge and increasing ability to control realms of existence. But as man’s knowledge and abilities increase, and even the rate of that increase grows more rapidly—toward Godhood, or, more accurately, to ultimately far surpass anything mentally primitive humans ever imagined that a God could do or be—then at what point do even "modern" religions push back?
When God is your premise, and not man and his life, you can be safe only so long as man is willing to submit to whatever your notion of God is. The problem is, your notion of God is somewhat fixed by ancient texts. Man’s potential is open-ended.
That’s why one time, someone advised us to "check our premises."
First things first. I don’t know if he coined the term, but I’m ripping off Kim du Toit with that name for the Republican Party.
Next, go read Dick Morris’ piece. The gist:
But with Schiavo, there is no fetus. There is just Terri. And when we put ourselves in her place, more than 80 percent of us think we would want to die. To be told that we must linger in a non-life because of the dictates of a governor wedded to the religious right and a Congress in the grip of ideologically driven leaders seems to the vast majority of us a level of government interference we find too intrusive to tolerate.
I came across that via Bruce McQuain, who really does a thoughtful workup, including some of his own personal experiences. He’s dead on, and I seriously mean no pun. I’ve had both of my grandmothers die in the last few years. With the first, it was simply a matter of shutting down the respirator. For the second, it was restriction of nutrition, but she had been alert enough to demand that for herself. I cannot imagine what it would have been like if some whacked family member in denial had irrationally fought what was necessary to do, or far worse, someone from the Stupid Party had shown up to "stand up for life," along with some petulant "Shiite Christian" in tow.
Jesus Effin’ Christ.
There is nothing in which government intervention is more unwelcome than the dying process. Having gone through it fairly recently, I remember it as an intensely personal and emotional point in time when as a family we had to make some seemingly horrific but necessary decisions.
The last thing I or my family wanted or needed were people or institutions outside the family second guessing our decisions based on their interpretation of morality.
So I share Morris’s discomfort and sense of irony when upon review of the Schiavo case you realize that the party who describes itself as the party of smaller and less intrusive government ran "screaming in the other direction" when called upon to practice what they preach.
Yea, Bruce, as they usually do.