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At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Racial Warfare

posted by Jack Kerwick

The conventional wisdom notwithstanding, if Republicans are to stand a chance of winning any more national elections, it is not to Hispanics to whom they must turn.

As some of us have been arguing for quite some time, their salvation is to be found in whites of the working and middle classes. 

By speaking to issues like so-called “affirmative action,” racially-charged policies that have proven to be to the detriment of just such whites, Republicans can promote the individualism for which they claim to stand while simultaneously relating to whites who would otherwise view them—as over six million whites who stayed home on Election Day viewed Mitt Romney—as hopelessly “out of touch.”

Even more importantly, Republicans—and all decent people—should labor to abolish “affirmative action” and the like because, hyperbole aside, all such policies are the instruments by which racial warfare is waged.

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Whether your average American, black, white, or other, recognizes it or not, there is indeed a cold racial war of a sort transpiring in America.  Evidence of the war, however, is not to be sought in mere interracial hostilities or distrust.  That, say, individual blacks and whites dislike one another or even openly fight with one another does not a war make. Nor even would large-scale interracial conflict suffice to establish that there is a racial war in the sense in which I mean it.

Rather, that it is without exaggeration that we can speak of a racial war in America is born out by the fact that the federal government systematically—through policies like “affirmative action”—promotes the interests, or what are claimed to be in the interest, of various non-white groups at the cost of undercutting the interests of whites.

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Yet in siding with some citizens over and against others, the government abandons its role as a neutral arbiter of conflicts in favor of assuming the role of participant in those conflicts.  What this in turn means is that if it was ever a reality, the peace for the sake of which the government exists to guarantee is no more.

But as the great philosopher Thomas Hobbes observed way back in the seventeenth century, the only alternative to peace is war.

In his quest to supply an account of the authority of government, Hobbes invoked the philosophically distinguished concept of “the state of nature.”  The latter refers to life prior to the formation of government.  And for Hobbes, such life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” for in the absence of government, the absence of a commonly recognized authority to determine the conditions of just conduct, each person possesses absolute sovereignty over his life.  However, this unconditional right on the part of each person to do whatever he thinks needs to be done to preserve his existence casts each in a perpetual contest for survival with all others.

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The state of nature, that is, is a war of all against all.  Hobbes writes that when “men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war, as is of every man, against every man.”  It isn’t that men are always literally at each other’s throats where there is no “common power to keep them all in awe.”  But war “consisteth not in battle only, or act of fighting; but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known [.]”

To end this war, each person consents to give up his absolute right to everything on the condition that every other person makes the same concession. The only way for this to occur, though, is for the parties to this “covenant” to give rise to a “common power”—government, or “the Sovereign,” as Hobbes refers to it—that will secure peace by functioning as a kind of umpire or referee.  The Sovereign is the custodian of law and, hence, an impartial adjudicator of all conflicts that arise with respect to it.

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Once the Sovereign relinquishes its role, though, then the state of nature—the state of war—resumes.

It is my contention that there is a racial war only in the sense that our government has abdicated the neutrality and impartiality that it is supposed to maintain in regard to the citizenry over which it presides.  Insofar as our government shows partiality toward Americans of one race and against those of another—regardless of the races in question—it in effect prosecutes a kind of racial war.

This is why it is imperative that policies like “affirmative action” and the like be abolished.

And this is why it is imperative that Republicans, and all who are concerned with justice and peace, work toward that end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Inside the Progressive Mind

posted by Jack Kerwick

Whatever else they disagree on, Republicans and Democrats are of one mind when it comes to paying lip service to the Constitution and its Framers.

Unfortunately, however, far more frequently than not, this is just lip service—especially in the case of self-styled “progressives.”  In reality, there is an unbridgeable chasm between, on the one hand, the progressive’s rhetoric concerning the Constitution and its progenitors and, on the other, his attitude toward them.

At best, the progressive views the Constitution as an instrument to be exploited for the sake of impeding the allegedly “unconstitutional” designs of his opponents.  At worst—and for the most part—he regards it as an impediment to his own designs.

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Never does the progressive view the Constitution as the authority that its Framers intended for it to be.

Indeed, according to the very logic of the progressive’s vision, matters could not be otherwise.  In other words, the progressive’s disdain for the Constitution and its authors will give way to genuine reverence if and only if he ceases to be a progressive.

What makes a progressive a progressive is that he has his eye forever on the future. The present has significance only inasmuch it supplies opportunities for paving the way for a brighter tomorrow. But for the past—the real past—there can be nothing but contempt on the progressive’s part. It isn’t that he is any more disinclined than anyone else to invoke past events and names when it suits his present purposes to do so.  Yet the idea that the past has or can have any sort of authority over the present or future can only be anathema to the progressive.

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There was a time when conservatives didn’t need to be reminded of this.

In the eighteenth century, at the height of the blood soaked Revolution in France, Edmund Burke—“the patron saint of conservatism”—combated tirelessly the progressive conceit that the past is an encumbrance to be surmounted.

Burke noted that if “the temporary possessors” of society are “unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors,” then they are liable to “act as if they were the entire masters” and, thus, bring ruin upon “the whole original fabric of their society [.]”  The ease with which the progressives of his time sought to transform the state according to “floating fancies or fashions” threatened to sever “the whole chain and continuity of the commonwealth [.]”

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Famously, Burke declared that: “We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason,” for “we suspect that this stock in each man is small, and that individuals would do better to avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations and of ages.”

In glaring contrast, Thomas Paine, Burke’s contemporary—and adversary—expressed nothing short of outrage over the notion that the past has any sort of claim whatsoever on the present.  “The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies,” he asserted. “Man has no property in man; neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow.”

Paine continued: “Every generation is, and must be, competent to all the purposes which its occasions require.” 

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Contra Burke, who he accused of “contending for the authority of the dead over the rights and freedom of the living,” Paine claimed that he was “contending for the rights of the living (emphasis original) [.]” He objected fiercely to “the rights of the living” being forfeited to “the manuscript assumed authority of the dead [.]” 

Paine mocked Burke’s reverence for the wisdom of his ancestors by charging him with positing a sort of “political Adam, in whom all posterity are bound for ever [.]”

Paine’s vision is the progressive’s vision.  And we can rest assured that our contemporaries on the left find the notion of a “political Adam” just as indefensible, just as ludicrous, as Pain found it.

But since our “political Adam” is represented by America’s Founders, this in turn implies that, if they are honest with themselves, progressives must acknowledge that it is at once indefensible and ludicrous that their compatriots should defer to the Founders.

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Why the Right is Wrong about the GOP’s Present and Future

posted by Jack Kerwick

Since the presidential and senatorial defeats it suffered this past Election Day, the Grand Old Party has been wrapped in the throes of an identity-crisis.

The thing of it is, far from being the epiphany that the usual talking heads on the right are making it out to be, the identity-crisis to which they speak is the very same crisis over which they have been perspiring for decades now.  It is the same crisis of identity of which Republicans become acutely conscious at least every four years—whether they win or lose. 

From all of the moaning and groaning, a common refrain can be gotten: The Republican Party must win over non-whites or else.  On this score, Democrats and Republicans agree.

Yet as is almost always the case with conventional wisdom generally, this piece of conventional wisdom in particular is deeply flawed. 

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The speciousness of the conventional wisdom derives, not from what it says, but from what it fails to say. 

For one, the nation’s changing racial demographics of which Republican and Democrat alike can’t seem to stop talking are not the forces of nature that the pundits’ tone would suggest.  Asians and Hispanics—especially the latter—owe their growing numbers in no small measure to American immigration policy, specifically, immigration policy since 1965. 

Until this juncture in our history, our immigration policy had always favored immigrants of European stock.  But even throughout this time, there were several moments—like in 1924—when immigration was halted so as to allow for assimilation. 

In glaring contrast, the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 assigned pride of place to Third World immigrants, about 90% of whom have constituted all immigrants to the U.S. over the span of the last five decades. Of these non-white immigrants, the vast majority stems from below our southern border.

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Since 1965, not only has the American government refused to arrest the flow of immigration.  It has actually encouraged it via the non-enforcement of its laws, the allocation of all manner of goodies (entitlements) to illegal immigrants, bilingualism, and the granting of amnesty in one form or the other.

The point is this: unlike the shifts in the Earth’s tectonic plates, the tectonic-like shifts in America’s racial demographics are the products of design.  They are the results of policy. This means that something can be done about them.

The conventional wisdom is mistaken in another respect.  To hear the talking heads, particularly the Democratic talking heads, it is hard not to think that underlying all of the fatalistic chatter over the hemorrhaging of the white vote is the desire to expedite this pattern along.  Some perspective here is desperately needed.

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Although blacks, Hispanics, and Asian voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama (93%, 71%, and 73% respectively), with just 59% of the white vote, Mitt Romney still lost the popular vote by only 2%.  In short, he would have defeated Obama handily had he garnered just 61% of white support.

This he could have done.  At any rate, he stood a far greater chance of doing so than any Republican stands of increasing appreciably their party’s share of non-white support.

Sean Trende, of Real Clear Politics, has noted that over six million fewer whites showed up at the polls this year than in 2008.  These whites dislike Obama, he notes, but, thanks to the President’s negative campaign strategy against his rival, they aren’t too keen about Romney either.  Romney, these jaded white voters believe, really is the aloof, vulture capitalist that Obama depicted him as being.

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Trende’s analysis is cogent as far as it goes.  But it only goes so far.  Romney, like the typical Republican that he is, took these whites’ votes for granted. If their perception of him was flawed, it was up to him to rectify it.

And he could have.  He could have fought back against Obama’s smear campaign by speaking to those issues—affirmative action, Third world immigration (legal and illegal), crime, etc.—that are near and dear to the hearts of just those white voters who decided to stay home on Election Day.  In doing so, he could have knocked out several birds with one stone as he advanced themes that were simultaneously conservative and American while speaking to the precarious economy in a way that would resonate with such voters. (The language of national debts and deficits and all of the zeros that it entails just isn’t the stuff of which the passions of the average working man or woman are made.)

Radically revise current immigration policy and genuinely work for an ever greater portion of the white vote.  This is what the Republican Party must do if it wants to survive.         

 

 

 

 

 

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Friedrich Nietzsche and Our Age

posted by Jack Kerwick

When I was a teenager, there was a guy from my old neighborhood who had developed an addiction to crack cocaine.  Given that he didn’t have much in the way of steady employment, to support his habit, he acquired another: he became hooked on thievery.

Not before long, this junkie and thief was known by everyone for who and what he was, for there wasn’t a single person among his family, friends, and acquaintances upon whom he didn’t set his sights.  He stole, or at least tried to steal, from everyone.  

One night, he tried to steal from me.

As was our way, a group of us—including the junkie and thief—was gathered at our neighborhood park.  He decided that it was about that time for him to get high.  Being without any cash of his own, he tried to prevail upon me to “lend” him some funds.  When I refused, he persisted.  “Don’t be greedy,” he admonished me.

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Don’t be greedy.

My cousin is currently married to a good woman with whom he shares a nice home and two beautiful children.  But before he met her, he was married for a brief time (not briefly enough) to another woman who wasn’t all that good.  On more than one occasion, she was unfaithful to him.  He discovered her last indiscretion by either reading her diary or tracking her down, I don’t recall which.  The point, though, is this:

When he confronted her, she castigated him for “violating her privacy.”

Both my selfish, dishonest friend and my cousin’s selfish and dishonest ex-wife sought to cloak their selfishness and dishonesty behind a veil of objectivity. Both sought to advance their subjective interests by invoking the language of right and wrong: greed is wrong, violating another’s privacy is wrong, etc.

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But it isn’t just thieves and whores who seek refuge in the rhetoric of moral objectivity.  This is the tried and true strategy of everyone.  This, at any rate, is the verdict of the nineteenth century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

Nietzsche insisted that, the declarations of such venerable Western philosophers as Plato and Aristotle aside, human beings do not want happiness.  The claim that they do want happiness is itself just another illustration of this universal predilection to advance one’s interests without detection.  The philosophers who posit happiness as man’s ultimate end are guilty of deception, for their hearts’ desire is that of every other. 

What human beings ultimately want, Nietzsche tells us, is power.  Things can’t be otherwise, for “life is precisely Will to Power.”  What this means is that in spite of “the disparaging purpose” with which “ages” have associated these activities, life is “appropriation, injury, conquest of the strange and weak, suppression, severity, obtrusion of peculiar forms, incorporation, and at the least, putting it mildest, exploitation (emphasis original)[.]”  The Will to Power is nothing more or less than the Will to Life.

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Our moralizing to the contrary notwithstanding, “‘exploitation’ does not belong to a depraved, or imperfect and primitive society: it belongs to the nature of the living being as a primary organic function; it is a consequence of the intrinsic Will to Power, which is precisely the Will to Life (emphasis original) [.]” 

Nietzsche concedes that “as a theory,” this concept is “a novelty.”  However, “as a reality it is the fundamental fact of all history (emphasis original).” 

Upon canvassing the history of morals, two tolerably distinct visions of morality emerge.  The one originated with aristocrats.  Nietzsche calls this “the master-morality.”  The other belonged to the masses.  This he refers to as “the slave-morality.”  The differences between the two couldn’t be more glaring.

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The master-morality springs from “the noble type of man.” The latter is honest, brutally honest, inasmuch as he recognizes in himself the wellspring of all values.  Seeing himself as a “creator” and “determiner” of worth, he looks to no one for self-affirmation.  For the noble man, those things like power, cunning, intelligence, hardness, and severity are deserving of honor because and only because he decrees them as such. The master-morality is the morality of “self-glorification.”

The slave-morality, in stark contrast, takes flight from “the resentment” of the masses of human beings who are too weak and too stupid to get along without the assistance of others—particularly the assistance of the aristocrats.  It is designed to subvert the master scheme of value while advancing the interests of the masses.

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Everything that is deemed “good” within the master-morality is regarded within the slave-morality as, not just “bad,” but “evil.”  Nietzsche writes that according to “the morality of resentment,” the evil man is none other than “the good man of the other morality [.]”  The evil one is “the aristocrat, the powerful one, the one who rules” who has been “distorted by the venomous eye of resentfulness, into a new color, a new signification, a new appearance.” 

The slave-morality affirms just those qualities that promise to alleviate its proponents’ suffering: “sympathy, the kind, helping hand, the warm heart, patience, diligence, humility, and friendliness [.]”  Because these are the characteristics that supply “the only means of supporting the burden of existence,” they are elevated to the stature of universal human excellences.

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Nietzsche identifies two versions of slave-morality: Christianity and socialism.  As we would expect from any species of the slave-morality, both promote altruism or selflessness—a “way of valuing” that arises from “a consciousness of the fact that one is botched and bungled.”  This consciousness, in turn, engenders an aching need to assign blame for one’s condition.

In the case of the Christian, the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the botched himself, i.e. the sinner.  The socialist, on the other hand, holds “society” responsible for his plight.  Whatever their differences, though, it is “the instinct of revenge and resentment” that animates Christian and socialist alike.

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Man, like every other type of living organism, strives to dominate his surroundings.  Some forms of domination, like war, say, are overt.  But even when we are not conquering one another via violence, we nevertheless continue the quest for domination through more subtle means—like invocations of objectivity.  Appeals to Reason, the Bible, the will of God, Equality, Liberty, Truth, Justice, Natural Law, the Moral Law, the Principle of Utility, the Categorical Imperative, the Form of the Good, Natural Rights, Human Rights, Democracy, Happiness, and so forth and so on, are just some of the examples of the instruments that have been enlisted in the service of advancing partisan and individual interests. If Nietzsche is correct, these are smokescreens intended to hide that which drives every living thing: the Will to Power.

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Even if there is much to criticize in Nietzsche’s thought, there is also much from which to learn. He is a provocative and bold thinker who seldom fails to leave an indelible impact upon his readers.

Given the recent reelection of President Obama and his fellow partisans, this just might not be a bad time to acquaint ourselves with Nietzsche’s writings.  Socialist rhetoric is in the air, and the air is thick. Rather than be burdened with guilt (and taxes) for our “lack of compassion” for “the disadvantaged,” we would be better served to call to mind Nietzsche’s contention that the socialists (or welfare-statists or “liberals”) among us are motivated first and foremost by their aching need for ever greater power.  

To those who will object that this is too much to accept, Nietzsche responds bluntly and succinctly: “the truth is hard.”  Then, as if to scream from the top of his lungs, he implores us to be “honest towards ourselves!”

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