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Politics as Religion

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from David Daley in Salon, Camille Paglia takes on Jon Stewart, Trump, Sanders: “Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true!”

excerpt:

I’m speaking here as an atheist. I don’t believe there is a God, but I respect every religion deeply. All the great world religions contain a complex system of beliefs regarding the nature of the universe and human life that is far more profound than anything that liberalism has produced. We have a whole generation of young people who are clinging to politics and to politicized visions of sexuality for their belief system.  They see nothing but politics, but politics is tiny.  Politics applies only to society. There is a huge metaphysical realm out there that involves the eternal principles of life and death. The great tragic texts, including the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles, no longer have the central status they once had in education, because we have steadily moved away from the heritage of western civilization.

Exactly what are these people offering in place of religion?

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Side Stepping The Constitution

From Rand Simberg at PJ Media, How Republics Die:

But the Founders foresaw this sort of thing. That is why they put a provision into the founding document to deal with it. The proper way to address the issue, in terms of making  SSM universal, was not to manufacture a new right from the Constitution, but rather to amend it. But that is something that hasn’t happened in a long time, because it is (rightly) difficult to do, and the Congress, the courts and the public have become too impatient, and prefer to sidestep it (which in fact has happened in, among other things, the federal War on Drugs, which somehow didn’t seem to require an amendment even though the prohibition of alcohol did).

The Constitution was meant to be the bedrock of laws, and the laws were to be enacted by the Congress, and signed by the president, not ignored or superseded by the president, or rewritten by the chief justice, to satisfy their own preferences, or those of others, even a majority. We are neither a tyranny of men, or that of a majority. As has often been told, when Benjamin Franklin came out of the Constitutional Convention, a woman asked him, “Mr. Franklin, what have you given us?” His reply: “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

When we ignore and side step the Constitutional and legal process to achieve a desired end, the bedrock starts to turn to sand. When the laws are ignored by those who have sworn to uphold or review them, the rule of law itself disintegrates. When the public doesn’t care, or understand the role of the branches of government, but votes anyway for people who tell them they’ll just give them stuff they like, that is how republics are lost.

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Better Populists

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from The Sunday New York Time Book Review, Revolutionary Roads by George Packer; a review of By the People by Charles Murray and  Wages of Rebellion by Chris Hedges:

excerpts:

But the most interesting aspect of these two books is where their authors overlap. Both are appalled by the collusion between the federal government and corporations. Both describe the legal system as essentially lawless. Neither has any faith that electoral politics, the three branches of government or the Constitution itself can make a difference. Neither fits with any sizable faction of either of the two parties. Both despise elites. Both are willing, even eager, to see Americans break the law, in nonviolent ways, to force change.

At times Murray and Hedges sound exactly the same. “It is part of our national catechism that government is instituted to protect our unalienable rights, and that when it becomes destructive of those rights, the reason for our allegiance is gone. At that point, revolution is not treason, but the people’s right,” says Murray, though it could be Hedges. “Appealing to the judicial, legislative or executive branches of government in the hope of reform is as realistic as accepting the offer made by the March Hare during the Mad Tea-Party,” writes Hedges, pulling off a pretty good Murray. What the historian Michael Kazin calls “the populist persuasion” is as old as the country, and its language has been deployed in different eras by radicals and reactionaries alike, though a characteristic of our own time is that they are doing it simultaneously.

Our elites have led us to a dead end, but our populists, barricaded in their corners, lack the clarity of vision to find a way out. It’s hard to imagine that we’ll get better elites anytime soon. In the absence of a revolution, we have to hope for better ­populists.

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Liberty and Liberalism

“The fact that this book was originally written with only the British public in mind does not appear to have seriously affected its intelligibility for the American reader. But there is one point of phraseology which I ought to explain here to forestall any misunderstanding. I use throughout the term “liberal” in the original, nineteenth-century sense in which it is still current in Britain. In current American usage it often means very nearly the opposite of this. It has been part of the camouflage of leftish movements in this country, helped by the muddleheadedness of many who really believe in liberty, that “liberal” has come to mean the advocacy of almost every kind of government control. I am still puzzled why those in the United States who truly believe in liberty should not only have allowed the left to appropriate this almost indispensable term but should even have assisted by beginning to use it themselves as a term of opprobrium. This seems to be particularly regrettable because of the consequent tendency of many true liberals to describe themselves as conservatives.”

“It is true, of course, that in the struggle against the believers in the all-powerful state the true liberal must sometimes make common cause with the conservative, and in some circumstances, as in contemporary Britain, he has hardly any other way of actively working for his ideals. But true liberalism is still distinct from conservatism, and there is danger in the two being confused. Conservatism, though a necessary element in any stable society, is not a social program; in its paternalistic, nationalistic, and power-adoring tendencies it is often closer to socialism than true liberalism; and with its traditionalistic, anti-intellectual, and often mystical propensities it will never, except in short periods of disillusionment, appeal to the young and all those others who believe that some changes are desirable if this world is to become a better place. A conservative movement, by its very nature, is bound to be a defender of established privilege and to lean on the power of government for the protection of privilege. The essence of the liberal position, however, is the denial of all privilege, if privilege is understood in its proper and original meaning of the state granting and protecting rights “to some which are not available on equal terms to others.”

Excerpt From: F. A. Hayek. “The Road to Serfdom.” University of Chicago Press, 2010-04-06. iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itun.es/us/vAe3H.l

This recalls:

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types — the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution.” ― G.K. Chesterton

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Consumers of Excess

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from the New York Times Sunday June 28, 2015, All in the Family Guys- an interview with Set McFarlane and Norman Lear:

SM: Not today. If you make a thoughtful statement, or even ask a question about an uncomfortable subject today, you are pounced on by a thousand different media outlets that will eat you for breakfast.

PG: Because it’s not P.C.?

SM: Partially, but it’s more than that. There’s a whole industry that piles on, and it’s a harmful industry because it’s made people resistant to speak their minds. It doesn’t matter what you believe personally if they can fix their mold of what they want you to be.

NL: America’s biggest export is excess. We are excessive about everything. And we’ve become consumers of excess rather than citizens. Media doesn’t inform so much as it argues, bumper-sticker-style. Context is everything, and we get very little context now. We just get the “Boom!”