Friday, June 23, 2017

Does Capitalism Depend Upon Envy?

We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; ...
- Thomas Jefferson, "U.S. Declaration of Independence" (rough draft)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Opening Iris...

Philip Hermogenes Calderon, "Broken Vows" (1857)
The title of this painting suggests that the woman has recently discovered that her lover, whose initials are carved in the fence, has been unfaithful. Further details, including the discarded necklace and dying flowers, indicate her unhappy situation. The ivy-covered wall may symbolise her previous belief that their love was everlasting. Disappointed love was a popular theme in Victorian painting, and viewers were expected to unravel the situation from the symbols and expressions of the characters.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sunday, June 18, 2017

From Tragedy to Farce...

Nationalists Versus Communists

The brawls (Berkely) seem like a half-hearted, semi-play-acting reenactment of the street fights of Germany’s Spartacist uprising of 1919. The “Spartacists” were Marxist insurgents who sought to overthrow the new Weimar government, take power themselves, and expropriate the bourgeoisie. The government, which itself was made up of milder Marxists, relied on nationalist militias called Freikorps to crush the uprising. Then, as yesterday, nationalists trounced communists in the streets. Yet this did not yield a happy ending.

As Ludwig von Mises points out in Omnipotent Government, when the Freikorps first arose, they were modeled after the armed bands of communist revolutionaries that they would later suppress.
“The November Revolution brought a resurgence of a phenomenon that had long before disappeared from German history. Military adventurers formed armed bands or Freikorps and acted on their own behalf. The communist revolutionaries had inaugurated this method, but soon the nationalists adopted and perfected it. Dismissed officers of the old army called together demobilized soldiers and maladjusted boys and offered their protection to the peasants menaced by raids of starving townsfolk and to the population of the eastern frontiers suffering from Polish and Lithuanian guerrilla invasions. The landlords and the farmers provided them in return for their services with food and shelter.”
The Freikorps, like today’s budding right-wing street militias, arose in response to leftist aggression. That didn’t make them any less dangerous. Mises continued:
“When the condition which had made their interference appear useful changed these gangs began to blackmail and to extort money from landowners, businessmen, and other wealthy people. They became a public calamity. The government did not dare to dissolve them. Some of the bands had fought bravely against the communists. Others had successfully defended the eastern provinces against the Poles and Lithuanians. They boasted of these achievements, and the nationalist youth did not conceal their sympathy for them.”
The Road to Nuremberg

These Freikorps were then integrated into the army, and the problem of rival armed bands subsided for a while, although it did not disappear. As Mises wrote:
“War and civil war, and the revolutionary mentality of the Marxians and of the nationalists, had created such a spirit of brutality that the political parties gave their organizations a military character. Both the nationalist Right and the Marxian Left had their armed forces. These party troops were, of course, entirely different “from the free corps formed by nationalist hotspurs and by communist radicals. Their members were people who had their regular jobs and were busy from Monday to Saturday noon. On weekends they would don their uniforms and parade with brass bands, flags, and often with their firearms. They were proud of their membership in these associations but they were not eager to fight; they were not animated by a spirit of aggression. Their existence, their parades, their boasting, and the challenging speeches of their chiefs were a nuisance but not a serious menace to domestic peace.

After the failure of the revolutionary attempts of Kapp in March, 1920, that of Hitler and Ludendorff in November, 1923, and of various communist uprisings, of which the most important was the Holz riot in March, 1921, Germany was on the way back to normal conditions. The free corps and the communist gangs began slowly to disappear from the political stage. They still waged some guerrilla warfare with each other and against the police. But these fights degenerated more and more into gangsterism and rowdyism. Such riots and the plots of a few adventurers could not endanger the stability of the social order.”
But then, feeling threatened by the continued existence and activity of nationalist armed bands, the embattled socialist government created a new armed force consisting of loyal Marxists. As Mises explains, this caused many in the public to throw their support behind Adolf Hitler’s personal militia, the Nazi Storm Troopers.
“But these Storm Troopers were very different from the other armed party forces both of the Left and of the Right. Their members were not elderly men who had fought in the first World War and who now were eager to hold their jobs in order to support their families. The Nazi Storm Troopers were, as the free corps had been, jobless boys who made a living from their fighting. They were available at every hour of every day, not merely on weekends and holidays. It was doubtful whether the party forces—either of “the Left or the Right—would be ready to fight when seriously attacked. It was certain that they would never be ready to wage a campaign of aggression. But Hitler’s troops were pugnacious; they were professional brawlers. They would have fought for their Führer in a bloody civil war if the opponents of Nazism had not yielded without resistance in 1933.”
And the rest is History Channel programming. Once in power, the nationalist brawlers proved to be just as deadly foes to liberty as the communists they trounced in the streets and drove from power.
Source

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Birth of a Backlash...

How Deplorable!
from Wikipedia
The Gamergate controversy concerns issues of sexism and progressivism in video game culture, stemming from a harassment campaign conducted primarily through the use of the hashtag #GamerGate. Gamergate is used as a blanket term for the controversy, the harassment campaign and actions of those participating in it, and the loosely organized movement that emerged around the hashtag.

Beginning in August 2014, supporters of the Gamergate movement targeted several women in the video game industry, including game developers Zoë Quinn and Brianna Wu, as well as feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian. After Eron Gjoni, Quinn's former boyfriend, wrote a disparaging blog post about her, #gamergate hashtag users falsely accused Quinn of an unethical relationship with journalist Nathan Grayson. Harassment campaigns against Quinn and others included doxing, threats of rape, and death threats. Gamergate supporters claimed unethical collusion between the press and feminists, progressives, and social critics. These concerns have been dismissed by commentators as trivial, conspiracy theories, groundless, or unrelated to actual issues of ethics.

Gamergate supporters typically organized on online platforms which allow anonymous or pseudonymous communication; these platforms include 4chan, Internet Relay Chat, Twitter and Reddit. Gamergate has no official leaders, spokespeople, or manifesto. Statements claiming to represent Gamergate have been inconsistent and contradictory, making it difficult for commentators to identify goals and motives. As a result, Gamergate has often been defined by the harassment its supporters committed. Gamergate supporters have frequently responded to this by denying that the harassment took place or by falsely claiming that it was manufactured by the victims.

The controversy has been described as a manifestation of a culture war over cultural diversification, artistic recognition, and social criticism in video games, and over the social identity of gamers. Many supporters of Gamergate oppose what they view as the increasing influence of feminism on video game culture; as a result, Gamergate is often viewed as a right-wing backlash against progressivism.

Industry responses to Gamergate have been predominantly negative. Gamergate has led figures both inside and outside the industry to focus on better methods of tackling online harassment
.

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Message from the Sh*t Lord to All Sh*t Posters...

from Catholic On-line
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) -- Pope Francis has made a statement, criticizing the media for its obsession with fake news and smut, all intended to generate clicks, and ad revenues. The problem with the obsession is that the public is starved of the truth and accurate information.

Pope Francis criticized the media for having "the disease of coprophilia: constantly looking to communicate scandal, communicate ugly things, even if they are true... And since people have a tendency towards coprophagy, it can be very damaging,"

Coprophilia is the love of feces, usually to the point of consumption.

If the term is revolting, it's intentional. The practice is revolting.

By removing a portion of the truth, the media is able to misdirect the public and inflame scandal. Lies can be destroyed as the media peddles divorce, adultery and infidelity, and every other kind of smut.

How many publications sell because they publish pictures of women's mostly nude bodies? Even teenage girls are vulnerable to this kind of exploitation. Many celebrities cannot enjoy a day at the beach without becoming the object of a photographer's lust. At the same time, mature individuals become objects of revulsion as the media hypes their weight, or their illnesses, or some other aspect of their life. All while ignoring the person's better character, and worse, ignoring the real news of the day.

With limited time for people to consume headlines, every story about Kanye West is less space for reporting on government scandals that deprive taxpayers of billions of dollars. There's less room for reporting facts and providing the public with the information they require to make smart decisions.

So much money is wasted by our government that if it were saved, it could end both homelessness ($20 billion, and hunger ($30 billion) overnight. The most conservative estimate of government waste is about $125 billion per year.

Public anger is often wasted on celebrity scandals and political slander. The real issues are lost.

Pope Francis criticized media 'calumny', which is to tell a lie about another person.

He said this of people's pasts, and it's very important because many people have made mistakes: "every person has the right to a good name, but perhaps in their previous life, or in their past life, or 10 years ago, had a problem with the law or in his family life...so, bringing this into the spotlight is grave, it damages, it cancels a person."

He spoke about the habit of bringing out what people did in their past to damage them, even after they have repented and paid their debt.

"Journalists sometimes risk becoming ill from coprophilia and thus encouraging coprophagia," he said. "Which is a sin that taints all men and women, that is, the tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive aspects."

Of course, the media alone is not to blame. While Pope Francis focused on the media, we too share culpability. Our choice to read smut over real news is a major reason why media outlets continue to degrade and publish garbage instead of real news. We have an obligation to consume media intelligently, and to insist upon accurate news, not smut. Otherwise, we become consumers of our own excrement.
The Internet was designed for sh*t posting!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Afterimages

Władysław Strzemiński , "Pejzaz Lodzki (Paysage of Lodz)" (1931-2)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Falling

I hear a storm is coming in tonight
and they say it's going to be the worst
so pack your bags and try to leave
or hold on to what is dear and make amends

The sun will finally turn away
as if she's given up her hopes for us
after all the chances that we've thrown
for the diamonds that we long to own

Now all the rain is gonna sober up our drunken minds
and the winds are gonna bring us closer though all too late
and the fire's gonna take away everything that has brought us here
When we fall

I hope that time is on our side,
that the prophets have been wrong from the start,
that war's an oddity,
and that you and I are here to stay

But nations rise and fall all the time
it seems to be the conqueror's fate
still we believe we are the ones
who will outlive all the others who have not.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Timshel 2

1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. #Cain: that is, Gotten, or, Acquired

2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. #Abel: Heb. Hebel#a keeper: Heb. a feeder

3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. #in process…: Heb. at the end of days

4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: #flock: Heb. sheep, or, goats

5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

6 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. #be accepted: or, have the excellency #unto…: or, subject unto thee

8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

9 And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?

10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.#blood: Heb. bloods

11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;

12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.

13 And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear.#My…: or, Mine iniquity is greater than that it may be forgiven

14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.

15 And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

16 And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
Genesis, Chapter 4
---
“Do you remember when you read us the sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis and we argued about them?”

“I do indeed. And that’s a long time ago.”

“Ten years nearly,” said Lee. “Well, the story bit deeply into me and I went into it word for word. The more I thought about the story, the more profound it became to me. Then I compared the translations we have—and they were fairly close. There was only one place that bothered me. The King James version says this—it is when Jehovah has asked Cain why he is angry. Jehovah says, ‘If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.’ It was the ‘thou shalt’ that struck me, because it was a promise that Cain would conquer sin.”

Samuel nodded. “And his children didn’t do it entirely,” he said.

Lee sipped his coffee. “Then I got a copy of the American Standard Bible. It was very new then. And it was different in this passage. It says, ‘Do thou rule over him.’ Now this is very different. This is not a promise, it is an order. And I began to stew about it. I wondered what the original word of the original writer had been that these very different translations could be made.”

Samuel put his palms down on the table and leaned forward and the old young light came into his eyes. “Lee,” he said, “don’t tell me you studied Hebrew!”

Lee said, “I’m going to tell you. And it’s a fairly long story. Will you have a touch of ng-ka-py?”

“You mean the drink that tastes of good rotten apples?”

“Yes. I can talk better with it.”

“Maybe I can listen better,” said Samuel.

While Lee went to the kitchen Samuel asked, “Adam, did you know about this?”

“No,” said Adam. “He didn’t tell me. Maybe I wasn’t listening.”

Lee came back with his stone bottle and three little porcelain cups so thin and delicate that the light shone through them. “Dlinkee Chinee fashion,” he said and poured the almost black liquor. “There’s a lot of wormwood in this. It’s quite a drink,” he said. “Has about the same effect as absinthe if you drink enough of it.”

Samuel sipped the drink. “I want to know why you were so interested,” he said.

“Well, it seemed to me that the man who could conceive this great story would know exactly what he wanted to say and there would be no confusion in his statement.”

“You say ‘the man.’ Do you then not think this is a divine book written by the inky finger of God?”

“I think the mind that could think this story was a curiously divine mind. We have had a few such minds in China too.”

“I just wanted to know,” said Samuel. “You’re not a Presbyterian after all.”

“I told you I was getting more Chinese. Well, to go on, I went to San Francisco to the headquarters of our family association. Do you know about them? Our great families have centers where any member can get help or give it. The Lee family is very large. It takes care of its own.”

“I have heard of them,” said Samuel.

“You mean Chinee hatchet man fightee Tong war over slave girl?”

“I guess so.”

“It’s a little different from that, really,” said Lee. “I went there because in our family there are a number of ancient reverend gentlemen who are great scholars. They are thinkers in exactness. A man may spend many years pondering a sentence of the scholar you call Confucius. I thought there might be experts in meaning who could advise me.

“They are fine old men. They smoke their two pipes of opium in the afternoon and it rests and sharpens them, and they sit through the night and their minds are wonderful. I guess no other people have been able to use opium well.”

Lee dampened his tongue in the black brew. “I respectfully submitted my problem to one of these sages, read him the story, and told him what I understood from it. The next night four of them met and called me in. We discussed the story all night long.”

Lee laughed. “I guess it’s funny,” he said. “I know I wouldn’t dare tell it to many people. Can you imagine four old gentlemen, the youngest is over ninety now, taking on the study of Hebrew? They engaged a learned rabbi. They took to the study as though they were children. Exercise books, grammar, vocabulary, simple sentences. You should see Hebrew written in Chinese ink with a brush! The right to left didn’t bother them as much as it would you, since we write up to down. Oh, they were perfectionists! They went to the root of the matter.”

“And you?” said Samuel.

“I went along with them, marveling at the beauty of their proud clean brains. I began to love my race, and for the first time I wanted to be Chinese. Every two weeks I went to a meeting with them, and in my room here I covered pages with writing. I bought every known Hebrew dictionary. But the old gentlemen were always ahead of me. It wasn’t long before they were ahead of our rabbi; he brought a colleague in. Mr. Hamilton, you should have sat through some of those nights of argument and discussion. The questions, the inspection, oh, the lovely thinking—the beautiful thinking.

“After two years we felt that we could approach your sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis. My old gentlemen felt that these words were very important too—‘Thou shalt’ and ‘Do thou.’ And this was the gold from our mining: ‘Thou mayest.’ ‘Thou mayest rule over sin.’ The old gentlemen smiled and nodded and felt the years were well spent. It brought them out of their Chinese shells too, and right now they are studying Greek.”

Samuel said, “It’s a fantastic story. And I’ve tried to follow and maybe I’ve missed somewhere. Why is this word so important?”

Lee’s hand shook as he filled the delicate cups. He drank his down in one gulp. “Don’t you see?” he cried. “The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ Don’t you see?”

“Yes, I see. I do see. But you do not believe this is divine law. Why do you feel its importance?”

“Ah!” said Lee. “I’ve wanted to tell you this for a long time. I even anticipated your questions and I am well prepared. Any writing which has influenced the thinking and the lives of innumerable people is important. Now, there are many millions in their sects and churches who feel the order, ‘Do thou,’ and throw their weight into obedience. And there are millions more who feel predestination in ‘Thou shalt.’ Nothing they may do can interfere with what will be. But ‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.” Lee’s voice was a chant of triumph.

Adam said, “Do you believe that, Lee?”

“Yes, I do. Yes, I do. It is easy out of laziness, out of weakness, to throw oneself into the lap of deity, saying, ‘I couldn’t help it; the way was set.’ But think of the glory of the choice! That makes a man a man. A cat has no choice, a bee must make honey. There’s no godliness there. And do you know, those old gentlemen who were sliding gently down to death are too interested to die now?”

Adam said, “Do you mean these Chinese men believe the Old Testament?”

Lee said, “These old men believe a true story, and they know a true story when they hear it. They are critics of truth. They know that these sixteen verses are a history of humankind in any age or culture or race. They do not believe a man writes fifteen and three-quarter verses of truth and tells a lie with one verb. Confucius tells men how they should live to have good and successful lives. But this—this is a ladder to climb to the stars.” Lee’s eyes shone. “You can never lose that. It cuts the feet from under weakness and cowardliness and laziness.”

Adam said, “I don’t see how you could cook and raise the boys and take care of me and still do all this.”

“Neither do I,” said Lee. “But I take my two pipes in the afternoon, no more and no less, like the elders. And I feel that I am a man. And I feel that a man is a very important thing—maybe more important than a star. This is not theology. I have no bent toward gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed— because ‘Thou mayest.’”
- John Steinbeck, "East of Eden"

Friday, June 2, 2017