2019-09-12

Melanie Phillips: The need for a new enlightenment.

Melanie Phillips:
The fact that genocidal Nazism had arisen in Germany, the very heartland of high European culture, dealt a shattering blow to the West’s conception of itself as enlightened. At the same time, Britain became demoralised as a result of its post-war bankruptcy and loss of empire.

Such fundamental loss of self-belief made the West vulnerable to the idea spread by Marxist intellectuals that it was rotten at its core. A new culture was planned that would eradicate division, bigotry and war.

The ideas at the heart of this can be traced back to the 17th century Enlightenment and its great fallacy: the worship of reason that certain powerful European thinkers of the time placed in opposition to Christianity.

Today’s most influential secularists are squarely in that tradition. ...

We need nothing less than a new Enlightenment which conserves and builds rather than destroys.
Go to the link for the whole thing, which is excerpted from a longer (paid access) piece in The Times.

I won't get into the whole "good Enlightenment / bad Enlightenment" debate that is being argued by people much smarter and more knowledgeable than I am, but I do think this piece nails the central weakness of contemporary Western society: a loss of core values, and a self-destructive fear of making any intellectual or moral judgements at all.

Related: Here is Joseph Loconte on the need for a revival of Lockean Liberalism.
Locke’s critics have blinded themselves to the bracing nature of his democratic vision: “But those whose doctrine is peaceable, and whose manners are pure and blameless, ought to be upon equal terms with their fellow-subjects.” Here is the only tenable solution to the challenge of religious diversity: equal justice under the law for people of all faith traditions.

No political doctrine has been more integral to the success of the United States, for no nation has been so determined to regard religious pluralism as a source of cultural strength. America’s experiment in human liberty and equality is profoundly Lockean. It is also, in some important respects, deeply Christian. Locke believed that the gospel message of divine mercy — intended for all — implied political liberalism. The founder of Christianity, he wrote, “opened the kingdom of heaven to all equally, who believed in him, without any the least distinction of nation, blood, profession, or religion.”

That'll teach her.

You might have heard not long ago that Democratic hopeful Marianne Williamson had been quoted as saying that conservatives were on occasion nicer, or at least not worse than, liberals. Now, Eric Bolling has shown her the error of her ways by publicly confronting her with her open-mike statement. Here's Newsweek:
"What does it say that Fox News is nicer to me than the lefties are? What does it say that the conservatives are nicer to me?" Williamson said after an interview with Eric Bolling on Sinclair Broadcast Group's America This Week last week. "It's such a bizarre world," she added.

"I didn't think the left was as mean as the right, they are," the activist and author asserted.

Bolling played the previously unreleased clip ahead of a follow-up Wednesday evening interview with the presidential candidate, confronting her over her criticism. Williamson was clearly caught off guard, explaining that she had previously been told that the clip would not be played.

"Well, what I was told was that if I came on your show, you wouldn't blast it out, and you just blasted it out," she said in response. "I don't even know where to go with that."

Bolling defended his decision to play the clip, despite allegedly saying he wouldn't. Williamson then attempted to explain her candid hot mic remarks.
I love how Newsweek takes every opportunity to attack Williamson's credibility: she "claimed", she "asserted", she "attempted to explain". Still, you've got to give credit to Bolling, and to Newsweek, for giving such a beautiful illustration of exactly what Marianne Williamson was talking about.

"Deplatforming works."

https://twitter.com/witchofpeace/status/1170945244185210881?s=09

According to this individual 'Milo reveals just how much the far right are struggling after being deplatformed from the main social media sites.' She is, of course, quite pleased at the success of the compliant tech industry in unpersoning Milo.

But the reality is, Milo's situation does not 'reveal' anything about the state of conservative social media. Milo is largely the author of his own problems. He was smart, outspoken, funny, often provocative - but he didn't know when to stop. He alienated a lot of folks on the right.

I hate that Milo gave the left a scalp to claim. But he made his own choices. You've got to know how to pick your battles, how to build leverage, how to work with people, if you want to stay in the game. He never learned.

Milo may be out of the game. But there's Brandon, Blaire, Andy, Sargon, Candace, Laura Loomer, Mike Harlow ... the list goes on and on. One casualty does not lose a war.

Abraham Miller: After 9/11.

Abraham Miller in the American Spectator: You said you wouldn't forget.
The system of competing tribes with different realities only works if there is an overarching sense of community. From the Europe of the Peace of Westphalia, 1648, emerged the idea of the nation state. This was the binding together of similar yet different peoples into a shared identity.

Three-hundred-plus years later, that ideal began to crumble. Devolution became the objective of peoples who found unity artificial. Minus the integrative loyalty of communism, Yugoslavia crumbled into different ethnic enclaves and civil war. Czechoslovakia broke into the Czech and Slovak Republics. The Soviet Union broke up into its pre-imperial past. Many African states devolved into tribalism.

Our strength is most definitely not our multiculturalism. Our strength is a multicultural society that possess a transformative sense of unity. Dramatic events like 9/11 rekindle that purpose. ...

Read the whole thing.

Victor Davis Hanson on the decline of higher education.

VDH on the downfall of the universities.
Overwhelmingly liberal and often hippish in appearance, American faculty of the early 1970s still only rarely indoctrinated students or bullied them to mimic their own progressivism. Rather, in both the humanities and sciences, students were taught the inductive method of evaluating evidence in hopes of finding some common explanation of natural and human phenomena.

Yes, we studied “mere” facts—dates, names, grammar, syntax, and formulae—but deliberately to ground or refute theories with evidence and to illustrate and enhance argumentation. Essays bled red by old masters of English prose style, whose efforts were aimed at ensuring students could communicate effectively but also with a sense of grace. ...

What went wrong? The former students of the 1970s came into power and gradually began to reject the very code of conduct and training of those who taught them. And in turn they taught a new generation who for the first time had little first-hand knowledge of the great campus scholars and icons of the past. ..

Go read the whole thing at the link. I came into early adulthood in the late 1970s and early '80s - probably would not have been a good candidate for college at that point in my life anyway (I was a mess), but in any case the trajectory of my life took a different direction.

What remains for us as adults today is to somehow build the institutions - either by rebuilding the universities, or by creating alternatives - for the passing down of important knowledge, traditions, and the spirit of inquiry.

2019-09-11

Eighteen years on.

The battle was never "over there".

It was always here.