Late Verdict On The Helsinki Press Conference Freak-Out: I’m Convinced. It’s Just More Unethical, Double-Standard, Anti-Trump, “Resistance” And News Media Coup-Fodder, Only Noisier And Dumber Than Usual

I don’t appeal to authority very often.

What I do occasionally do is look for someone with judgment, experience and honesty I trust whose assessment of a particular situation jibes with my ethical analysis at times when I have begun to judge my own sanity. When I started reading people writing, in horror-stricken tones,”Can you believe what Trump said at that joint press conference?,” which I initially missed because these events are always stagey, insincere, all-puffery affairs, I assumed that President Trump finally done something really over-the-top this time, like spitting at CNN reporter, or singing “The Volga Boatman” to irritate Putin. When I read what he in fact did say, and saw the videos, my brain literally couldn’t reconcile it with the hysterical claims that it was “treasonous,” or like “Pearl Harbor,” or “Kristallnacht” or warranted impeachment (Plan N). It didn’t compute, as the robot in “Lost in Space” used to say.

I know I don’t often seem like it, but I have my doubts sometimes. I write as if I am certain I am right, because that’s my style, but often within me there meet a combination of antithetical elements which are at eternal war with one another. Driven hither by objective influences — thither by subjective emotions — wafted one moment into blazing day, by mocking hope — plunged the next into the Cimmerian darkness of tangible despair, I am but a living ganglion of irreconcilable antagonisms. All right, that was from my favorite exchange in “H.M.S. Pinafore,” but I’m not completely facetious. When I read almost every one of hundreds of Facebook friends writing, to universal agreement from their echo ch..freinds, that an extemporaneous statement in a Finnish press conference proves that Putin “has something” on the President, I begin to think, since I don’t see it at all, that the problem must be me. I am so thoroughly sick and disgusted at the relentless unethical and unprecedented efforts to interfere with this President, and his efforts to do the job he was elected to do, by Democrats, progressives, “the resistance” NeverTrumpers and the news media, that maybe my indignation against their dangerous, democratic institution-eroding vengeance because this odd and offensive man shattered the dreams of the Obama Worshipers and the Clinton Conned, had finally metastasized into bias, and made me impervious to something that should have me, for once, agreeing with them. For bias makes us all stupid, you know.

That is why I was so relieved to read this, the transcript of the comments of NYU Russia expert Stephen F. Cohen, a contributing editor at “The Nation,” the most extreme leftist magazine of national prominence in the country. He is clearly NOT being driven by bias, but his analysis was exactly the same as mine:

“The reaction by most of the media, by the Democrats, by the anti-Trump people is like mob violence. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. This is the president of the United States, doing what every president… since FDR in 1943 with Stalin, meeting with the head of the Kremlin. And every president since Eisenhower, a Republican by the way, has met with the leader of the Kremlin for one existential purpose: To avoid war between the two nuclear superpowers. Today, in my considered, scholarly, long-time judgment, relations between the U.S. and Russia are more dangerous than they have ever — let me repeat, ever — been, including the Cuban missile crisis. I want my president to do — I didn’t vote for this president– but I want my president to do what every other president has done. Sit with the head of the other nuclear superpower and walk back the conflicts that could lead to war, whether they be in Syria, Ukraine, in the Baltic nations, in these accusations of cyber attacks. Every president has been encouraged to do that an applauded by both parties. Not Trump. Look what they did to him today. They had a kangaroo court. They found him guilty. And then you had the former head of the U.S. CIA, who himself ought to be put under oath and asked about his role in inventing Russiagate, calling the President of the United States treasonous. What have we come to in this country? And what is going to happen in the future?”

Whew! What a relief: I thought I was going crazy. Like Cohen, except not close to matching his scholarly efforts, I know quite a bit about how past Presidents treated Russian leaders in their various summits, meetings and diplomatic encounters. Only Trump was expected to insult the Russian leader to his face. Only Trump was asked an outrageous question inviting him to insult a Russian leader to his face. (The reporter should have been ejected from the conference.) President Trump was not only criticized for behaving as every other President has and should have behaved, but was excoriated for doing so.

I wish, of course, that the President’s rhetorical skills were not so blunt and confounding, so he could defend his own conduct without resorting to “fake new!” retorts. I wish he had the nuance and sense to simply dodge such a disruptive and irresponsible question without walking into a true “when did you stop beating your wife” question that made him choose between undermining U.S. intelligence or undermining the whole reason he was at the summit in the first place. I wish that the President was not so much like Donald Trump, in other words, but unlike Anderson Cooper, George Will, Chuck Schumer, John McCain and my hysterical Facebook Friends, I regard constantly becoming more and more irrational over something that happened 19 months ago  to be civic incompetence.

Some other commentary has helped assuage my doubts. One blogger recalled what America-hater Noam Chomsky, one of my all-time least favorite people, said on NPR’s “Democracy Now!” last year regarding the obsession with “Russian interference”:

It’s a pretty remarkable fact that—first of all, it is a joke. Half the world is cracking up in laughter. The United States doesn’t just interfere in elections. It overthrows governments it doesn’t like, institutes military dictatorships. Simply in the case of Russia alone—it’s the least of it—the U.S. government, under Clinton, intervened quite blatantly and openly, then tried to conceal it, to get their man Yeltsin in, in all sorts of ways. So, this, as I say, it’s considered—it’s turning the United States, again, into a laughingstock in the world.

So why are the Democrats focusing on this? In fact, why are they focusing so much attention on the one element of Trump’s programs which is fairly reasonable, the one ray of light in this gloom: trying to reduce tensions with Russia? That’s—the tensions on the Russian border are extremely serious. They could escalate to a major terminal war. Efforts to try to reduce them should be welcomed. Just a couple of days ago, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Jack Matlock, came out and said he just can’t believe that so much attention is being paid to apparent efforts by the incoming administration to establish connections with Russia. He said, “Sure, that’s just what they ought to be doing… yeah, maybe the Russians tried to interfere in the election. That’s not a major issue. Maybe the people in the Trump campaign were talking to the Russians. Well, OK, not a major point, certainly less than is being done constantly. And it is a kind of a paradox, I think, that the one issue that seems to inflame the Democratic opposition is the one thing that has some justification and reasonable aspects to it.

Then there was Ann Althouse, who flagged the Cohen statement, and her many readers (far more than mine, alas) , who are far from pro-Trump or overwhelmingly conservative, but  who almost unanimously agree that the attacks on Trump over this reveal new levels of anti-Trump derangement. My favorite comment so far:

“Remember that day when everyone flipped out because President Trump said stupid stuff in a press conference with Vladimir Putin? I was in my fifth grade class when a teacher burst in the room. “The President insulted the CIA” she cried out and we all started to cry.”

75 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media

75 responses to “Late Verdict On The Helsinki Press Conference Freak-Out: I’m Convinced. It’s Just More Unethical, Double-Standard, Anti-Trump, “Resistance” And News Media Coup-Fodder, Only Noisier And Dumber Than Usual

  1. crella

    The media is at fault. CNN’s immediate headline (replaced about an hour and a half later) was, in huge letters, “Trump’s Day of Infamy”.

  2. Cynical John

    No, no. Everything is Trump’s fault. This hot weather we are having in Virginia right now is Trump’s fault. Why, you ask? Because Hillary and the Democrats all said it would be a cold day in Hell before Trump would be elected, so Hell got all the cold and we got all the heat.

  3. Other Bill

    I’ve never been sure what to make of Stephen F. Cohen. I can’t stand his former student turned wife Katrina Vanden Heuvel, heiress to the MCA fortune and super annoying wealthy lefty verging on commie. But something is crazy when Katrina Vanden Heuvel is scolding the left, as her husband has been for years, on Russia. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/07/19/katrina_vanden_heuvel_media_rhetoric_disproportionate_to_what_we_saw_they_lost_their_bearings.html

    I think Stephen F. Cohen is an old Commie and Soviet apologist. Sometimes I think the left hates Russia because it’s no longer the Soviet Union, you know, heaven on earth.

    And of course when one has to look to Noam Chomsky for comfort, these certainly are not ordinary times. Noam Chomsky criticizing the left. Who’d a thunk it.

    And I still go back to Obama mocking Mitt Romney about the ‘eighties calling and wanting their foreign policy back. What a jerk. Or HRC with her pathetic reset button, never mind her uranium deals and Bill’s speeches in Russia. Now Russia is controlling the executive branch. Amazing. The mind boggles.

  4. Rich in CT

    My father watches Samantha Bee, and unfortunately I am sometimes in the same room….

    Even she basically said Trump said or did literally nothing new or worse than he had before.

  5. Chris Marschner_

    Trump is accused daily of immaturity in which he routinely displays his lack of understanding of the “big issues”. What I see is a bunch of pretentious children that threaten to hold their breath until they get their way.

    I have come to the realization that Trump may have been the only person on this planet that can withstand their onslaught. He might be oafish at times, impulsive and often vacillating He is however no more narcissistic than most marketeers or politicians and he is proving to be resilient in the face of unbridled hate. I just hope that those suffering from TDS eventually see the harm in continuing the resistance in which they are participants. The question is do you want a president that can be affected by the type of behavior manifest in the resistance?

    • Glenn Logan

      I think this is perceptive. Trump may be the only person who can take this kind of withering assault from the entirety of the establishment, including his own party, and virtually laugh it off and/or give back just as much crap.

      If anyone wonders why he is as popular as he is, this is a big reason. Trump never surrenders to his opponents, and even to his misguided nominal friends. He stands tall and trades blows with gusto, and he never seems to tire of the hand-to-hand combat of modern politics.

      Trump has become a caricature of how I thought of Teddy Roosevelt through most of my life. He needs to put on an Australian safari hat, strap on a Smith & Wesson Model 3 with a gun belt full of cartridges, and meet the press just to see what they’d do. Then, he’d probably be my hero, and I might even vote for him next time. 🙂

      • Isaac

        I’m disappointed that he hasn’t yet called out Turkey for publicly denying the Armenian genicide. If he’s going to be reckless and impulsively honest, he could be so kind as to do it in a way that benefits me personally.

        Maybe a Kardashian can bring this issue to his attention.

    • Trump seems to thrive on all of the attention. He does not back down from a fight, that’s for sure.

      jvb

  6. I’m wondering how long the extremists on the left are going to wait before they realize their tactics are not working and they take the next logical big step in their journey to destroy the USA.

    • I know this is kind of like what the left have been doing with their hyperbolic predictions of things but…

      Based on the derangement levels of the political left since the Presidential election in 2016, can you imagine the levels of likely derangement that could take place across the United States if the political left loose big in the mid-term elections.

      I’m actually becoming quite concerned at the extreme levels of absolutely absurd “reasoning” from the left these days; I think the all-consumed brainwashing is complete all they need is a trigger.

    • Isaac

      They don’t have to do anything. This is the future:

      I don’t think Trump’s election changes the fact that we are probably going to have a socialist president in the near future, and a more quasi-socialist, which will increase poverty and inequality, thus breeding more socialism. Something like a Third Great Awakening needs to happen to change that timeline.

      • Glenn Logan

        Maybe we’ll all be unfortunate to live long enough to see the American version of the Committee on Public Safety. Our own Robespierre and Saint-Just. Maybe Obama and Ocasio-Cortez?

        Please God, take me long before then…

  7. Sue Dunim

    http://non-intervention.com/3238/a-republican-citizenrys-greatest-last-resort-duty-is-to-kill-those-seeking-to-impose-tyranny/

    Finally, this week saw a significant and quickening advance toward the moment when those millions of well-armed citizens who voted for Trump, and who have been abused or wounded by Democrats, their Antifa-thugs, and their thug-civil servants for exercising their franchise to elect Trump, cannot be, in good conscience, patient for much longer.

    Fortunately, they have in hand a long and very precise list of the names and photographs of those who hate and threaten them, their families, their way-of-life, their liberty, their livelihoods and their republic. No self-respecting and determined-to-remain-independent citizenry can let themselves forever be held hostage by thug-civil-servants like Strzok, Comey, McCabe, Page, and Rosenstein; worshipers of tyranny, like the Democratic members of Congress, the Clintons, the FBI, and the Obamas; apparent traitors like Brennan, Hayden, and Clapper; all of the mainstream media; and the tens of thousands of government-admitted-and-protected, violent, criminal, and illegal immigrants.

    American patriots have so far, praise God, been remarkably disciplined in not responding to tyranny and violence with violence. For now they must remain so, armed but steady. But the time for such patience is fast slipping away; indeed, that patience is quickly becoming an obviously rank and self-destructive foolishness. If Trump does not act soon to erase the above noted tyranny and tyrants, the armed citizenry must step in and eliminate them.

    It is, of course, far better if Trump does so, and I pray and believe he will. That said, the sheer, nay, utter joy and satisfaction to be derived from beholding great piles of dead U.S.-citizen tyrants is not one that will be missed if Trump does not soon do the necessary to save the republic. But if he fails, the citizenry must act to ensure that Hillary’s predictive words are proven correct. “If Trump wins,” she apparently said, “we will all hang.”

    • Not Michael Scheuer! Oh no, the billions of American right wingers who follow him as disciples are probably marching on DC as we speak!

    • I doubt it comes to anything like this: the leftist command of urban areas includes a bizarre collection of conflicting interests in close proximity to each other. I won’t even pretend that the law is intact, but if public order fails then the consequences will hit the cities first and hardest.

      • Sue Dunim

        ” These are the same people, you will recall, who lied about not collecting electronic intelligence on all U.S. citizens; who deliberately undermined America by selling 20-percent of U.S. uranium to Russia, and who then divvied up $150 million in bribes; who used the IRS to persecute conservative organizations; who made up from whole cloth the repeated claim that the Afghan military could defend its country without U.S. troops; who, with premeditation, killed Mr. LaVoy Finicum as part of the USG’s lawless attempt to eradicate the Bundy family, their friends and supporters, and the independent spirit of American ranchers; who have facilitated the invasion of the United States by unwanted, unneeded, illiterate, and criminal immigrants who may yet kill the republic; who have so far –under FBI guidance — effectively built a lying narrative about a single-shooter in the Las Vegas shooting, an attack that was actually conducted by Democratic Party-related operatives and killed and wounded hundreds of Americans; and who have covered-up their certain knowledge that Obama always was patently disqualified to constitutionally serve as president.”

        http://non-intervention.com/3247/what-is-more-hilarious-than-lying-obama-leftovers-neocons-and-the-media-arguing-there-was-russian-hacking-in-the-2016-election/

        Apparently now the story is that it wasn’t the Russuans, it was the Jews.

        • OH NO NOT MICHAEL SCHEUER AGAIN!!!!

          You’ve discovered a GOLD MINE of right wing thought!

          Sue, you are doing a great service publishing this man’s plan for America so we can see deep into the soul of the vast swathe of the nation that voted for Trump!

          You should keep publishing these articles from this single source you discovered on the edges of the controlling elite!

        • I’m sorry, I should tone back the snark.

          Here’s a clinical response:

          “What is it you think you will accomplish by publishing the ramblings of a fringe blogger?”

          • I had not heard of the man until today. I read his Wiki page and then some of his blog-posts. I must say his perspectives run contrary, in some areas, to my understanding. But instead of trying to answer your (rhetorical) question, it is more important to start from the premise that people are struggling to make sense of their world, and they cannot make sense of it. I have just read Michael Barkun’s ‘A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America’, a very interesting study of the phenomenon of ‘conspiricist thinking’. What I took most away from it is just what I say: people are at a loss as to how to interpret their world. So, to all appearances, they try to guess, and when they guess they blend in all sort of other material.

            Chip Berlot (co-author of ‘Right-Wing Populism in America’) said this about Barkun’s book: “Millenial dreams, apocalyptic nightmares populated by agents of the Antichrist, space alienns, and acolytes of the New World Order. With a calm approach and scrupulous academinc bearings, Barkun navigates through the reefs of the conspiricist allegations from the cosmic to the comic, from biblical prophecy to Internet alerts”.

            The purpose in mentioning Barkun is to bring out the fact that people do not know how to interpret the present and the world they live in. To have *proper interpretation* is essential, and in the absence of it people are lost, and they struggle to gain knowledge, but this effort results in guessing, in projection (of inner content some of it half-mad) but then there is another aspect: simply sticking with conventional or received narratives.

            So, the answer to your question will involve a more thorough approach to an *answer* and will necessary involve far more preamble. If Scheuer is *on the mark* in some areas but *off the mark* in others, who is capable of sorting through it? and offering clarity? If Noam Chomsky is on the mark in some areas and off the mark in others, who is capable of sorting through it and offering a clear picture? What about you? Or Jack Marshall? Or anyone else?

            The point is not really the answer but more to do with process. Intellectual process. There has to be a *prepared mind* who is capable of making an unbiased analysis. There has to be someone qualified to offer interpretation (exegesis) of any event but especially those that have to do with meta-politics. Who is capable of that?

            And, in order to arrive at that perspective, what opposition will that person have to face if his or her ideas run against established opinion (controlled opinion)? And thus the question will turn back to you, the one who posed the question. What do you serve when you make an effort to slander (a bit strong of a word) a man’s viewpoints? and ones that are quite threatening to the opinions of the status quo? Do you believe in *open conversation* or, as I would guess, are you really more interested in shutting down open conversation?

            It seems to me, in respect to the extraordinary difficulties in interpreting *what is goinf on in our world* that the real problem is in getting clear about what the approach will be (and will be allowed to be) to even arrive at a basic platform for asking questions.

            • The Wednesday Woman

              “Often sources get some things correct and some things incorrect. It’s important to look at sources with an open but directed mind so you can assess what things are right, even if your own bias toward the source turns you off at first.”

              This is what I took away. Is that correct? If so, it’s unfair to assume Michael W. hasn’t already assessed Michael S.’s work that way and come to the conclusion it’s mostly incorrect.

              • Is the quoted part your writing? I could not find it in the thread. But it sounds about right to me.

                Because I have a history on this blog, and because I imagine that I understand the views of certain people, I would say that based on my experience with Michael West that he tends to side with ‘conventional’ analysis.

                When you say: “If so, it’s unfair to assume Michael W. hasn’t already assessed Michael S.’s work that way and come to the conclusion it’s mostly incorrect” I completely agree with you. He is making an effort to tell the truth about the world. But then I also notice that Noam Chomsky has undertaken an assessment and come to various conclusions. What interests me — it intrigues me really — is the variation in perspectives. And I notice that these differences in view are leading to a situation that, more and more, is presented as open conflict; civil conflict in fact.

                Michael W also wrote: [speaking of the Progressive Democratic Left] “…on their anti-American conduct and world view on full display these past several years to cause me to assume that this freakout was just business as usual. I tried to force myself to analyze the Trump-Helsinki fiasco in a way that was amenable to the freak out. But I couldn’t.”

                What interests me in this statement is that he assumes these Leftist-Progressives are ‘anti-American’ when they see themselves as fully and more genuinely as *American*. But there lies a significant problem: Who gets to define? This problem is foundational to the Republic it seems to me. The conflict we now seem to deal with is an octave of Civil War conflict — the conflict that will not go away! I also notice that the foundational conflict that defines the US substantially is compounded by octaves of the recurrence of ‘interwar’ conflict (1920-30s) and that the issues of those years are coming out again.

                My interest, now, is only to better understand the underpinnings of what people think and why.

                • The Wednesday Woman

                  Yes, the quote was my trying to paraphrase your comment. I was trying to make a point about brevity. Sorry, I should have made that clearer.

                  Alizia, I have no authority here except as a reader. But if you’re truly interested in finding truth and learning about others’ perspectives, you may want to work on saying less and asking more. Not rhetorical questions, questions designed to get answers you can engage with. In this discussion, your comments came off as more directed to lecturing someone than to finding out where he was coming from.

                  That said, to your comment downthread, other commenters are not obligated to engage with you. People are not data points. They do not exist solely to shape your worldview. No one is beholden to your “ethics challenge”. If you want to analyze people’s views or have them “walk back” their beliefs, then it’s on you to build connections and trust with those people. This involves listening more than talking, then talking in a way your audience understands. In this case, that means developing a clear, concise writing style that’s appropriate for the comments section.

                  I’ve lurked here a long time, and read plenty of your comments and responses. You’ve had similar feedback before. The writing seems to come from someone who wants to show others how superior they are, not someone seeking truth. The comments as so wordy (ok, I’m at 300 words myself) they make threads physically hard to follow and drown out other posts. This looks like monologuing to stifle discourse, not honest attempts to spark it.

                  This isn’t judging your true intent, but what readers get from what you’ve published. Since you’ve veered into postmodernism/viewer response theory, you’ll agree those things are distinct. The fact remains your commenting style doesn’t accomplish what you claim you want it to.

                  You’re free to tell me I’m wrong and coming from a place of prejudice. That’s fair. Again, I have no authority except as a reader. But you’re also highly unlikely to convince me of anything at this stage, and given the attitude your comments here show toward other readers, I doubt I’m alone in that.

                  • Your comment is appreciated. And though I would not say that you have a prejudiced perspective, what I think you may not understand is how I see myself in relation to radical changes and dangerous events occuring now. Definitely in America and also in the larger world. I would say that rather than noticing prejudice that it is more likely that you may have an interest, I do not know why, in shutting down wide-ranging conversations. If you have an issue with someone who, you imagine, is talking down to you, all you need to do is to choose not to be bothered. Just focus on the ideas.

                    Your comments are indeed similar to others who, I think, will not deal in ideas but are more concerned with etiquette or sentiments. I don’t give a fig about any of that. And the things I desire to talk about, and the ideas I wish to discuss, transcend what seem to me to be your minor concerns. Disregard what you do not like in my style (in anyone’s style) and resolve to get to the bottom of vastly important issues that are arising in our present. That is my sincere answer to you. Disregard style and deal with content.

                    You make ‘convincing you’ depend on, somehow, arriving at some mode of communication that satisfies you (sentimentally or emotionally). I think you may deceive yourself and, deceiving yourself, you may seek to veer me off my desired track. The only thing that can ‘convince’ is and should only be the strength and clarity of the ideas.

                    At the present time this blog, though dedicated to ethics, takes place in the context of very radical and very important changes that are dramatic in scope. The focus is ethics but at a time when the world seems on the verge of conflagration. All across the board and *out there* it is challenging ideas that are being shot down. They use any means at their disposal to do that. And at some point it will (to all appearances) break out into open conflict (and people have begun to talk about this). This is not a time for etiquette but for bravery and boldness.

                    So, while I do not think your complaints have no merit at all (I do write a great deal when I am sinspired to do so) I think it is more important to encourage wide-ranging discourse. Bu I am not closed so someone (say Jack) saying ‘You are not appropriate here’ (and I will, I promise, go away).

                    I hope that you will, instead of just lurking, jump in and engage with some topic that has meaning for you. Then I and everyone else will see better what you are made of.

                    • The Wednesday Woman

                      I think the goalposts just moved, and I don’t not think you’re a fascinating troll, but here goes.

                      I have no interest in shutting down any conversation. I’m telling you your style, on this venue, is not conducive to conversation at all, let alone the conversation you say to want to have. This has zilch to do with my feelings, except a little fightin’ anger on behalf of the commenters you said “failed” by not engaging the way you thought they should.

                      The fact is people don’t have to react the way you want them to. Just because you show up and write about your ideas doesn’t mean anyone has to respond to those ideas. If you want others to grapple with your content, and they’re repeatedly not grappling, you have to either live with that or consider if there’s anything you can do that might change their response. This is life.

                      I’m suggesting people here don’t engage with your ideas the way you want because you don’t express those ideas in a way they understand or are compelled by. I’m not saying you have to conform to etiquette or worry about feelings. I’m pointing out your approach is clearly not achieving the outcome you want, and if you really want that outcome, you have to change your approach.

                      Posting essays that ask repeated rhetorical questions, which no one can reasonably answer over their lunch break, is not what readers expect here and is not going to win them over. If it’s your goal to persuade someone, or at least converse with them, you have to meet them partway.

                      For what it’s worth, I disagree with what I understand of your ideas in this thread. I think it’s the human condition to not comprehend all the forces and causes that got us where are. I believe in objective truth, but there’s a lot of it that, being human, we won’t be able to pin down. Beyond a certain point, it doesn’t serve us well to try. We can only take the metaphysical “why” so far before we have to take action on the physical “how”. We’ve got to work to understand each other, share the knowledge we’ve got, and take the bigger things on faith (I’m a Christian too.)

                      But what do I know. I rarely comment here because I’m conflict shy and often have nothing to add. Except when The Simpsons are involved. I wonder what that says about what I’m made of.

                    • Who had established goalposts? And you have no right to refer to me as a troll. That is Zoltar’s line anyway! 😉

                      The fact is people don’t have to react the way you want them to. Just because you show up and write about your ideas doesn’t mean anyone has to respond to those ideas. If you want others to grapple with your content, and they’re repeatedly not grappling, you have to either live with that or consider if there’s anything you can do that might change their response. This is life.

                      You make a mistake in assuming I desire people to react in some specific way. You and any one else, if you are responsible and confident in yourself, will only react as you choose to react. If people choose to grapple, as you say, they will if they desire to. I’d hope that they would. I read a good deal and deliberately seek out contrary ideas in order to be stimulated and pushed.

                      This has zilch to do with my feelings, except a little fightin’ anger on behalf of the commenters you said “failed” by not engaging the way you thought they should.

                      I think I understand better. What I wrote was this:

                      And everyone failed. They failed, in my view, because they do not have the courage to open their eyes, and their minds, to trace back effects to their causes. This means, in our present, just one thing: to reckon with the out-of-control war-making power of the US and, as Chomsky very accurately states, the unreal levels of dark espionage that have gone on and are now going on — the infiltration of democratic processes, the setting in motion of cascades of events that do astounding harm to people in other lands.

                      You seem to want to make it a personal issue. Or you think it is a personal issue for me. It isn’t. It is one that has to do with ETHICS and also with morality and it is in this sense impersonal.

                      I’m suggesting people here don’t engage with your ideas the way you want because you don’t express those ideas in a way they understand or are compelled by. I’m not saying you have to conform to etiquette or worry about feelings. I’m pointing out your approach is clearly not achieving the outcome you want, and if you really want that outcome, you have to change your approach.

                      It would be nice, I suppose, if I could agree with you but I can’t. When I read (a book, an article, an essay) I read because I intend to gain from what that writer is writing. It is my intention to gain. Ideally, I come to a space like this to receive and of course to gain. And I have gained a great deal. All that is within my choice. If people do not desire to approach what I write, or anyone else writes, with such an attitude, I see this as their problem. I deliberately seek out material that is completely contrary to my own views.

                      I think there is something essentially off in the stance you have. It might be related to the sort of (spoiled?) consumer culture that has developed where the child-citizen demands that the material be presented in such-and-such a way or he or she just won’t pay attention. I would suggest that you could modify your own approach not only to what I write but to knowledge in general. If you chose to that is, if you saw a benefit. In any case, stop focusing on me as such and bring out some idea that you think is important to discuss and something topical. Do that or don’t, it is certainly up to you.

                      Posting essays that ask repeated rhetorical questions, which no one can reasonably answer over their lunch break, is not what readers expect here and is not going to win them over. If it’s your goal to persuade someone, or at least converse with them, you have to meet them partway.

                      I think I see your point. But I seek the unreasonable! You engage here on your lunch break. And do you also engage with the most important existential questions on your ‘lunch break’? Do you consider yourself really serious about ideas? From the sound of it you seek diversion. Myself, I have lots of free time (I am lucky in this sense) and I devote all my time to reading and writing. And the flute.

                      They are not rhetorical questions either. A rhetorical question (if I understood it right) is one that you ask because you already have the answer and are ‘begging’ a certain answer, isn’t it? But the questions I ask are ones that go right to the core of the issues. I did not incarnate here to entertain the lunch crowd!

                      For what it’s worth, I disagree with what I understand of your ideas in this thread. I think it’s the human condition to not comprehend all the forces and causes that got us where are. I believe in objective truth, but there’s a lot of it that, being human, we won’t be able to pin down. Beyond a certain point, it doesn’t serve us well to try. We can only take the metaphysical “why” so far before we have to take action on the physical “how”. We’ve got to work to understand each other, share the knowledge we’ve got, and take the bigger things on faith (I’m a Christian too.)

                      You realize, I assume, that you are now making a far-reaching philosophical statement? You are making asserting statements (declarative statements) that, inevitably, will reflect your grasp of metaphysics. I appreciate that you move in this direction and how interesting it would be to be able to continue to engage with you!

                      Don’t give up on me! I really do have redeeming features! 🙂

              • Thanks.

                Michael Scheuer has published several books. His earlier ones demonstrate significant skill at research and good analysis. However, I think his solutions are “off”. His later books and his blog demonstrate a path into hyper-isolationism and extreme skepticism of all foreign policy. His research may still be accurate, but his solutions are bananas.

                He is knowledgeable. I don’t think he is wise. And he’s pigeonholed his value set so extremely that his conclusions are inevitably foolish.

                Sue Dunim trots him out, I suspect, like most Left wingers do, to project on their manufactured boogey-men of the Right the generally terrifying conclusions Sheuer comes to.

                • Good Heavens but you got that right! But in this we notice, again, whole sets of predicates and definitions that inform what he sees, what he says, where he sees things going.

                  So again, *interpretation* of the present is really the issue and the questions that must be asked have to do with how viewpoints are structured.

                  Michael Scheuer wrote (http://archive.fo/2018.07.16-071311/http://non-intervention.com/3238/a-republican-citizenrys-greatest-last-resort-duty-is-to-kill-those-seeking-to-impose-tyranny/#selection-233.0-245.455):

                  “Finally, this week saw a significant and quickening advance toward the moment when those millions of well-armed citizens who voted for Trump, and who have been abused or wounded by Democrats, their Antifa-thugs, and their thug-civil servants for exercising their franchise to elect Trump, cannot be, in good conscience, patient for much longer.

                  “Fortunately, they have in hand a long and very precise list of the names and photographs of those who hate and threaten them, their families, their way-of-life, their liberty, their livelihoods and their republic. No self-respecting and determined-to-remain-independent citizenry can let themselves forever be held hostage by thug-civil-servants like Strzok, Comey, McCabe, Page, and Rosenstein; worshipers of tyranny, like the Democratic members of Congress, the Clintons, the FBI, and the Obamas; apparent traitors like Brennan, Hayden, and Clapper; all of the mainstream media; and the tens of thousands of government-admitted-and-protected, violent, criminal, and illegal immigrants.

                  “American patriots have so far, praise God, been remarkably disciplined in not responding to tyranny and violence with violence. For now they must remain so, armed but steady. But the time for such patience is fast slipping away; indeed, that patience is quickly becoming an obviously rank and self-destructive foolishness. If Trump does not act soon to erase the above noted tyranny and tyrants, the armed citizenry must step in and eliminate them.

                  “It is, of course, far better if Trump does so, and I pray and believe he will. That said, the sheer, nay, utter joy and satisfaction to be derived from beholding great piles of dead U.S.-citizen tyrants is not one that will be missed if Trump does not soon do the necessary to save the republic. But if he fails, the citizenry must act to ensure that Hillary’s predictive words are proven correct. “If Trump wins,” she apparently said, “we will all hang.”

        • Per the Anti-Defamation League:

          34% of American Muslims hold antisemitic views;
          31% of foreign-born Latinos hold antisemitic views;
          23% of black Americans hold antisemitic views;
          19% of US-born Latinos hold antisemitic views;
          10% of white American hold antisemitic views.

          https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/documents/ADL_MS_Survey_Pres_1_25_17.pdf

          https://www.adl.org/news/press-releases/in-first-new-adl-poll-finds-majority-of-americans-concerned-about-violence

          A slightly older worldwide survey revealed that the United States is among the least antisemitic countries in the world:

          Sweden 4%;
          Netherlands 5%;
          UK 8%;
          Denmark 9%;
          United States 9%.

          Rates of antisemitic beliefs declined remarkably in France and Germany between 2014-2015, France from 37% to 17% and Germany from 25% to 16%, after Jews were targeted for murder in Europe:

          https://www.adl.org/news/press-releases/new-poll-anti-semitic-attitudes-19-countries

  8. If it makes you feel better, I took a long time thinking about the quiz several posts back regarding this topic. I too wondered if I was misreading the situation…that I was allowing my complete disgust and disdain for the Left based, reasonably, on their anti-American conduct and world view on full display these past several years to cause me to assume that this freakout was just business as usual. I tried to force myself to analyze the Trump-Helsinki fiasco in a way that was amenable to the freak out. But I couldn’t.

    The Left is freaking out and conducting itself in a Republic destroying manner. But they don’t care, it’s just another day of the week.

  9. Chomsky wrote: “It’s a pretty remarkable fact that—first of all, it is a joke. Half the world is cracking up in laughter. The United States doesn’t just interfere in elections. It overthrows governments it doesn’t like, institutes military dictatorships. Simply in the case of Russia alone—it’s the least of it—the U.S. government, under Clinton, intervened quite blatantly and openly, then tried to conceal it, to get their man Yeltsin in, in all sorts of ways. So, this, as I say, it’s considered—it’s turning the United States, again, into a laughingstock in the world.”
    ____________________________

    And one must not forget the single and the overriding ethical and moral issue that America as a nation has to face (and will not face): the precipitation of numerous wars in the Middle East and the murder of hundreds and thousands of people. Murder, death, destruction of communities and families that make the Twin Towers look much smaller. This is the moral and ethical elephant in the room. If one does not believe in a punishing God, there are other ways to understand the retributive mechanisms that ‘scarlet’ crimes of vast proportion invoke. The sort of crimes that will destroy a country unless they are confronted and rectified.

    But in order to confront that particular problem (America’s murder of many many thousands of people and the destruction of life its wars have caused and are still causing), one has to trace back the cuplability to the systems of power and all these mechanisms that it controls. These stand completely and absolutely outside of any sort of democratic decision-making as far as I have been able to tell. And that right there points to the entirety of the problem. If one speaks of a ‘deep state’ one speaks of para-governmental powers, and it is these powers that have led the nation America into a very dangerous place. This sickness infects the nation from top to bottom. But how to accurately and fairly carry that forward?

    This is my ‘ethical work’, but I see it as moral work. I came here originally seeking answers to the large ethical questions and I found so many people who seemed not to be able to see beyond the tip of their nose. But loud and certain people they are and very quick with condemnation; so quick to shoot down ideas and opinions about things that do not jibe with their pet views, the lies they themselves are ivested in. I asked then for help in arriving at the correct perspective. Show me how to see the events of the present, I asked. Show me how to *ethically* interpret things but moreover to gain a sense about what a correct and sane ethical (and moral) position should be and must be (to be ethical and moral).

    And everyone failed. They failed, in my view, because they do not have the courage to open their eyes, and their minds, to trace back effects to their causes. This means, in our present, just one thing: to reckon with the out-of-control war-making power of the US and, as Chomsky very accurately states, the unreal levels of dark espionage that have gone on and are now going on — the infiltration of democratic processes, the setting in motion of cascades of events that do astounding harm to people in other lands.

    And one important key is to understand and to begin to talk about how these same *intellegience agencies* and the machinations of their Deep State, openly manipulate and dupe the American population. There is no *other* manipulating them. So then, to hypocritically — no, a far more strong word is needed: the openly evil hypocrisy — of asserting that Russia has ‘hacked our democracy’ when America and certain concentrations of power in collusion with para-military and para-intelligence operatives are duping America: that is what needs to be talked about. It is, as I see things, the first order of business in any conversation about the present, and certainly about ethics.

    There are people now, young Americans and Europeans that I am mostly aware of, who are openly questioning the lies and distortions of these bizarre machinations. It is so large it is hard to describe. I use the term ‘the Americanopolis’ as a way to refer to something I do not have the capacity to well describe. They are looking into the System of Lies upon which the present regime has been established and it is intricate and labyrinthian. And the system itself strikes out against those who try to see it, to describe it. They are writing and exchanging information and catching hell for doing it. My friends at RedIce just had their monetary gateway shut down. Others have been deplatformed. But these are the people who are working to tell the truth, to break through the webs of interconnected — and resilient — lies.

    My theory is that the *controlling structures* are enormously frightened that it might happen that people turn round to see the machinations of the structures that are controlling them. This means in the idea-realm. And so they will stop at nothing to keep people in a (excuse me) mystified state. They would, it seems, risk a confrontation with Russia (having risked so many others at other times) rather than allow their doing to come out in the light of day.

    Summation: stop looking at ‘Russia’s interference’ (::: laughs :::) and begin a process of seeing the control-structures that fully infiltrate the American mind.

    [https://youtu.be/5D8tsVY1bVY]

  10. adimagejim

    So, I promised not to do this, but…

    As a moral seeker you very often seem quite sure you know some of us are not, apparently only for the fact we do not see things your way. I’m not interested in exchanging my alleged accepted control structure for the one you’d have me adopt. Your intellectual Cheshire smile betrays your feigned humility.

    • 1) I am not a “moral seeker.” I don’t even know what that is. For that matter, I don’t know what an “accepted control structure” is either, so I am pretty sure I’m not asking anyone to adopt one.
      2) There are indeed issues where I am convinced that there is no rational basis for a contrary opinion.
      3) When history is unambiguous, and the history of US POTUS’s interaction with Russian dictators is, and the principles of an activity like diplomacy are also well established, and a prevailing position contradicts both that history and those principles, I have no problem at all with designating that position a double standard, and wrong.
      4) But congratulations for some of the most deliberately convoluted writing I’ve encountered in quite a while.
      5) The ethical thing would be to actually state your contrary opinion, and try to back it up. This kind of sideswipe suggest that you can’t.

      • I think adimagejim’s aim was off when he pulled the trigger. I think he was responding to Alizia, whose recent word-fest used the term “accepted control structure”.

        • I mean “control structure”.

        • Michael W. wrote: “…to Alizia, whose recent word-fest …’

          Sort of a nice image: a festival of words. A festival of ideas is even better!

          But Michael: why the insult? Is it that you see the ideas I work with as wrong? Or is it that you don’t like how I write? If I improved the writing, would you then approve of the ideas?

          Do you object to the term ‘control structure’? Do you see, say, North Korea as being a regime that works with ‘control structures’? Or Cuba? (Et cetera). My view is that if you can see those you should be able, simultaneously, to see those that operate in our own system.

          Do you reject that these exist?

          • I haven’t seen you work with ideas yet, so I can’t answer most of your questions.

            I’ve mentioned to you several times that you primarily exhaust several lexicons perpetually hounding on the need to develop the right set of questions to approach the best angle to seek out the best process to evaluate what may or may not be an appropriate method of determining what other people believe about the world.

            Then, about 50 paragraphs into that rabbit hole, you never get around actually developing the right set of questions to approach the best angle to seek out the best process to evaluate what may or may not be an appropriate method of determining what other people believe about the world. Let alone ever getting around answering them or doing anything with those answers.

            Close to 90% of your articles are those tedious sermons about the need to develop the right set of questions to approach the best angle to seek out the best process to evaluate what may or may not be an appropriate method of determining what other people believe about the world.

            The other 10%, I wouldn’t know, because I’ve given up reading your word-festfunerals in hopes that some of them are occasionally substantive. I think once or twice you managed to ask the right skeptical questions about certain political narratives at some point in the past. But the risk of disappointment far outweighs the potential benefits of dedicating swathes of time reading your posts.

            I know that’s blunt, but I’ve explained this several times.

            And here we sit, just a fraction under 101 days of your hiatus, and your first response to me was a paean to the need to develop the right set of questions to approach the best angle to seek out the best process to evaluate what may or may not be an appropriate method of determining what other people believe about the world.

            • I’ve mentioned to you several times that you primarily exhaust several lexicons perpetually hounding on the need to develop the right set of questions to approach the best angle to seek out the best process to evaluate what may or may not be an appropriate method of determining what other people believe about the world.

              Absolutely. You have got it quite right! Because it is this issue that is crucial. The way that you state (mock essentially) what you see as my central occupation indicates, to me, that you have established such. I gather that you know the ‘right set of questions’ and have the right tools for good evaluation. But I am not sure, based on what I’ve read, that this is the case. I grant that you make this assertion though.

              I gather that the fact that people have radically different modes of interpretation is a non-issue for you?

              Then, about 50 paragraphs into that rabbit hole, you never get around actually developing the right set of questions to approach the best angle to seek out the best process to evaluate what may or may not be an appropriate method of determining what other people believe about the world. Let alone ever getting around answering them or doing anything with those answers.

              Again, you imply that you have this worked out. But I can tell you, with no shame, that I do not have it worked out. And I also suggest that most people do not. You see, you have all this worked out and therefor what you need to do is to reveal it.

              Close to 90% of your articles are those tedious sermons about the need to develop the right set of questions to approach the best angle to seek out the best process to evaluate what may or may not be an appropriate method of determining what other people believe about the world.

              That’s also right. And I stay with this because I notice that there are thousands and tens of thousands of people spouting off with *conclusions* who really do not seem to have a full picture before them. But these people, powerful in academia and adept at purveying their ideas, seem to obfuscate things, not clarify them. Therefor, it is best to return to the basic questions, always, and at least get them out into the open.

              However, what often happens is that people come forward to shoot down the ideas and the questions. They render it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to settle on the proper questions to ask.

              I know that’s blunt, but I’ve explained this several times.

              No problem at all with bluntness. Since you use it you likely also appreciate its use.

              And here we sit, just a fraction under 101 days of your hiatus, and your first response to me was a paean to the need to develop the right set of questions to approach the best angle to seek out the best process to evaluate what may or may not be an appropriate method of determining what other people believe about the world.

              That is exactly right. That is exactly what is required and direly needed. But my first comment (has it only been 100 days? It feels like 10,000). Why is it that the US is approaching a civil crisis? How did this come about? What are the causes that have led to it? How should one act in relation to a developing civil conflict? And what side should one take? (Of the many many sides possible?). What is really going on? That is, under the surface of what is presented as a description of what is going on? Who knows the truth, who can explain?

              You make it seem like I am committing an error. But I think my method is the better one…

            • The Wednesday Woman

              Bingo back at you.

            • Glenn Logan

              For me, having tried a number of times, I file these things under TL;DR. Well-intentioned or otherwise, after 500 words, if I can’t figure out what’s what, I surrender. No offense intended, but Aliza’s comments are just too… something for me. Sophisticated, rhetorically dense, impenetrably verbose, I don’t know.

              My mind is apparently too small for them, though.

          • I haven’t seen you work with ideas yet, so I can’t answer most of your questions.
            Then I would suggest to you, in a friendly manner, that you cannot recognize the ideas that I work with. If this is so, it stands as possible that you need to do more work.

            One of the main ideas I work with has to do with the problem of interpretation. In my view this is a metaphysical question. It has to do with how a person understands ‘reality’, this manifest world, one’s existence here. The reason for major areas of conflict in our present, as I have come to understand things, is in this area: core definitions of a metaphysical mature.

            Exegesis of the sort of reality we exist in is therefor not a minor issue, but a major one. The better that we understand how the person we are opposed to orients themselves metaphysically, the better chance we have of understanding their exegesis of *things* (what is going on, and why).

            I have thought about this a great deal in respect to Jack (whose project and whose endeavors I respect enormously, just so there is no confusion). But Jack is ‘anti-metaphysical’ and has no place at all for metaphysical thinking. It is, for him, mushy thinking. But this fits not only with him but also with what he is connected to: The American Experiment (his words) and definite strains in its philosophical orientations.

            One could mention a particular American Pragmatism that is decidedly non-metaphsical and, I think, this is a significant part of the make-up of America (the American being). And I think some part of the North-South conflict had to do with metaphysical clashes (and Richard Weaver seemed to think so too and he influenced me to *see* in these terms).

            Jacks’ American Pragmatism also connects to developing trends of atheism and there for connects to anti-scholasticism, a rebellion that began much earlier (in the 17th century if not earlier) in favor of the positive sciences. In order to appreciate these things, and to understand the ramification of them, and then to see how they are manifesting now in our present, requires some grounding in these ideas. The more grounding, the more that the strange events of our present can be understood. That is my view in any case.

            I see nothing wrong with having such interests and concerns.

            I assume that for you this is all gobbledeegook and you dismiss it. You are sure free to do that if you wish!

            But you are not free to merely slander my approach, nor the ideas I work with, without getting at least some little push-back!

      • adimagejim has expressed his frustration before vis-a-vis “humility”, regarding Alizia.

      • adimagejim

        Jack, Michael is correct. My post was not meant for you. It was meant for Alizia.

      • He has also, several times, accidentally clicked the reply link on the very bottom of the screen, instead of immediately beneath the comment he was aiming for. Such as here.

      • adimagejim

        For the record, I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of the anti-Trump freak out.

    • Adimagejim wrote:As a moral seeker you very often seem quite sure you know some of us are not, apparently only for the fact we do not see things your way. I’m not interested in exchanging my alleged accepted control structure for the one you’d have me adopt. Your intellectual Cheshire smile betrays your feigned humility.

      I would not have put my impressions in that way. The idea I work with has to do with how perceptual systems differ. In fact I extend to you and everyone here my belief in your essential good faith.

      But I will take your point that I have been, and likely still am, somewhat judgmental in a general way. But I can improve.

      I’m not interested in exchanging my alleged accepted control structure for the one you’d have me adopt.

      I sense that if this were explored we would encounter stark differences in how we view the world and interpret it. Yet it would not mean that you or I are not moral people.

      I invite you to say more about what control structure you think I’d ‘have you adopt’ but I think you will avoid the comment. I wish you’d tell me though. To say ‘I promised not to do this, but…’ indicates, I would imagine, lack of faith that I am a reasonable person.

      • You never clearly state your positions beyond demanding your reader answer or do something you prescribe. You readily judge others for not accepting your mode of thinking while demanding ever more from your reader with endless questions. Tiresome.

        • It is true, I am fearful of the reaction I receive when I state my view or my position openly. So, I try to do it in non-direct means. It is, I think, a Latino fault: to try to work with ‘indirectas’ (hints,, roundabout statements). I promise you that I will do better this go-round.

          You have a point as well when I ‘ask something’ of the reader. I suppose this is one reason I have been seen as arrogant. I ask for the reader to step outside of his or her context and see things from ‘above’. But I also have asked that of myself. I think one reason such a perspective is possible, and easy, for me is that I have had to completely break with my own context. I am in a certain sense a stateless person. Though I do have American citizenship my allegience is questionable. I do not know what to have alligience to.

          I judge quite specifically the self-defined conservative, and I judge him and her very harshly. And I make direct and bold (aggressive) statements about the state of American conservatism: It does not exist and there are no conservatives here.

          I judge many for not being able to define a conservative position but rather one of pseudo- or quasi-conservatism. In fact *you* are more properly right-leaning progressives. This is simply a fact. I desire to define a genuine conservatism but I admit to being uncertain how to do this, and to do this also involves turning against a whole progressive current which has us all in its power.

          I catch hell though when I make such statements and, truth be told, people get angry when I say such things. But it is not really *me*. It is a rising generation of new thinkers who are very very dissatisfied with the world *you* have done and (another aggressive statement) the damage you have wrought.

          These are, to you (I assume) intolerable statements. Please challenge them though.

          • Benjamin

            Are you describing that flaw in Liberalism that comes from its Positivism by way of Nominalism – that common thread of deliberate philosophical rejection of (or, most generously, blindness to) universals and their implications and the natural law? I’ve seen some of your comments before, and there’s something here that interests me. If I’ve read the pieces right, you’d agree with me that the distinctions between liberal democracy and the various modern socialisms are largely accidental rather than principled and that “conservatism” in modern American parlance is little more than a relative position with respect to a more prodigious group progressing by logical consequence from a body of what they consider, rightly in a sense and without meaningful opposition, ad hoc first principles and the conviction that all principles are just-so. If this is the case, I’d be interested to know more about this “rising generation of new thinkers”. It’d do me some good to know I’m not as isolated in this as I otherwise suppose.

            If not the dangling principles devoid of robust (or otherwise) philosophical underpinnings, by what mechanism do you criticize the state of modern conservatism? It’s not that I disagree, obviously; it’s that true propositions have a remarkable way of being accessible by various routes which won’t ever cease to fascinate me.

            • For a long time it was natural, in my case, to think in liberal terms. I realize that I would have to clarify what I mean by ‘liberal’ and this involves explanation, but it is not so easy to give that definition I have found.

              It happened that when I started to read other material — the first turning point came when I read Robert Bork’s critique of Sixties Radicalism (Slouching Towards Gomorrah) and was moved to understand what he was getting at. That began further reading and then to Richard Weaver who, if I perceive correctly, may have influenced you in your use of the term ‘nominalism’. When I read Ideas Have Consequences and The Southern Tradition At Bay I struggled to grasp his idea that our modern liberalism, and our modern radicalisms, have antecedents that can be traced many centuries back.

              Then, I encountered a little known intellectual historian names Basil Willey (Seventeenth Century Background) and came to (better) understand that what we understand as modernism, which in my view propels us along especially when we do not understand how it happens (we assent to it without analysis as I assented to it before I got some tools to oppose it and found good reasons to oppose it), is based in a rejection of Scholasticism. Then I began to realize that the only way to understand Our Present, and modernism, and of course my own self, my attitudes, my assumptions and my ideas (idées reçues essentially), and then of course the nihilism which is so powerful in our present, I would have to better understand both Scholasticism and, along with that, the notion of Principles on which it is based.

              Conservatism should of course be founded on principles, and principles are hard, solid, demanding and also I think fixed. If they are *fixed* that means they are part of eternal structures that are built-in to the cosmos we inhabit. For by definition a ‘principle’ is (I think) metaphysical. But a metaphysic is, of course, non-tangible. It is an ‘idea’. Our world has been built on the back, as it were, of strong and solid ideas. But the attack on Scholasticism — founded as it is on metaphysics (what I call *man’s imagined world*), has led and is now continuing to lead to the destruction of the possibility of thinking in metaphysical terms. So,, one is, more or less, tossed down into the contingent world, the world of phenomena and, as a corollary to intellect, into sensation.

              It should be obvious that when the classical metaphysical ideas are undermined that this destroys the *conceptual pathway* to higher ideas and also higher ideals: and these are non-physical. But if you have no conceptual pathway to envision ‘higher ideas’ and higher ideals, you are *cut off* as I understand this from the *upper world* and stuck in the sublunary world.

              And that is the world of ‘the contingent’. And it is within that *world*, as it were, that our modern liberalism has constructed its edifices. I think you will understand if I use the metaphor of *building on sand*.

              You wrote: If I’ve read the pieces right, you’d agree with me that the distinctions between liberal democracy and the various modern socialisms are largely accidental rather than principled and that “conservatism” in modern American parlance is little more than a relative position with respect to a more prodigious group progressing by logical consequence from a body of what they consider, rightly in a sense and without meaningful opposition, ad hoc first principles and the conviction that all principles are just-so. If this is the case, I’d be interested to know more about this “rising generation of new thinkers”. It’d do me some good to know I’m not as isolated in this as I otherwise suppose.

              What I can say is that I tend to focus on ‘Americanism’ and what Pierre Krebs has called ‘the Americanopolis‘ and these are terms to describe what I understand as ‘hyper-liberalism’. I am likely not qualified to comment about ‘modern socialisms’ but I can refer, through impressions, through media-studies, through absorbing the environment of Americanism in the Americanopolis, that it is a unique and really bizarre *world*. A very possessive one. I understand it as a *wave* or as a *current* that pulls souls along in it. I think I was influenced, though he did not use such terms as hyper-liberalism (which I think is my own), by Waldo Frank in Re-Discovery of America (1929) which I found in Spanish about 5 years back now. In short, he offers a true ‘view from above’ to understand Europe, and then the death-processes that began when the integral European body began to die:

              “You can gauge the state of Europe’s cultural decomposition, by contrasting it with the Body wherein Dante dwelt. Everything there has a place, moved with purposeful rhythm into the Whole. From God to priest, from Emperor to serf, from Heaven to Hell, from star to atom, from good to evil, all was integral. This was a world, moreover, in which Dante lived together with his cook. That Whole is gone. But organic death does not mean inanition. Look at any corpse advanced in its decay, and see how live it is. Europe swarms in death”.

              This moved me a great deal because, of course, we all ache in the meta-perception of the death of these larger structures. We die along with them is the way I would describe it. And then we attempt to *fill the void* with simulacra of Life. But ‘life’ in this sense is much more than the live body. Life comes to us from the *upper reaches* and the invisible zones. But in death we are cut of, conceptually as I say, from those higher zones. But I will not dwell on this point here.

              I think that you can see that a critique of American Conservatism is really an involved affair! For after all what, in Heaven’s name, do they conserve? My way of understanding is to envision an anchor that is pulled through the sea-floor mud by a force superior to its anchoredness. What pulls it, of course, is hyper-liberalism and radicalism (and here is needed a rather intricate definition). But one could not be anything but pulled along until one had reestablished a solid base in strict principles.

              The ‘rising new thinkers’ could be found to coalesce around GRECE (http://grece-fr.com/) and the so called New Right (La Nouvelle Droite). What I found, or better said what I surmise, is that one can understand La Nouvelle Droite as an aspect of similar movements that have currents in the Interwar Period. That is, a reaction against Marxism and Communism and I would also now include Americanism. I would have to place myself, though I have no special right or standing to be such, as radically opposed to this Americanopolis, especially in the postwar forms, and definitely insofar as it seems to have been taken over by a Trotskyist, Neoconservatist pro-Zionism which, truth be told, is doing tremendous harm to the American social body. You can grasp from this statement that my ideas would branch into discomfiting territory!

              But this is what needs to be done is a truer conservatism is to be rediscovered and re-emboldened. That will either happen or, as we now see, the Hyper Liberalist Madmen will literally take over the Republic. Or, to put it more accurately, complete their take over project, well under way. The turning back of that tide will require a tremendous effort.

              • Benjamin

                It happened that when I started to read other material — the first turning point came when I read Robert Bork’s critique of Sixties Radicalism (Slouching Towards Gomorrah) and was moved to understand what he was getting at. That began further reading and then to Richard Weaver who, if I perceive correctly, may have influenced you in your use of the term ‘nominalism’.

                I’m actually fairly unfamiliar with both of them. I’ve only heard of Weaver in passing (having taken ‘Stereopticon’ from a thirdhand source for my own cryptic uses). I picked up ‘nominalism’ from commentaries on Medieval philosophy. I marked it as the end of scholasticism and rational moral thought and pronounced it responsible for the avalanche of ends-directed skepticism leading to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, Nihilism, Marxism, and ultimately (so far) our modern moral relativism. I came to it by way of the likes of G.K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc, and I’ve since been clumsily inoculating myself with doses of St. Thomas Aquinas, Plato, and the opinions of whoever else I can find. I was raised by wolves, you might say.

                I think that you can see that a critique of American Conservatism is really an involved affair! For after all what, in Heaven’s name, do they conserve? My way of understanding is to envision an anchor that is pulled through the sea-floor mud by a force superior to its anchoredness. What pulls it, of course, is hyper-liberalism and radicalism (and here is needed a rather intricate definition). But one could not be anything but pulled along until one had reestablished a solid base in strict principles.

                Yes, I think we agree. John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and Thomas Jefferson are ill-equipped to present social theory based on human rights even as they reject the validity of any kind of evidence that could give support for those rights. It’s as though Liberalism was intended to be a time capsule in which the fabric of society would be preserved at a set degree of erosion – that the mechanisms by which objective moral reasoning had been pushed aside would halt in place because it had been decided that the correct number of unprincipled exceptions had been put in place, and one more would be one too many. It’s incredibly naïve, like using an argument against logic itself to refute an opponent’s logical position hoping that it won’t be seen as undermining not only itself but the validity of all rational discourse leading to the free-fall of infinite solipsist skepticism. The constant leftward drift seems like it was programmed into the thing from the start (I can only imagine it was a bug). In order to even start making laws to govern man, there has to be concrete – metaphysically speaking – irrefutable agreement regarding what man is and what he’s for. Freedom as a foundation is a cop-out to having to say what freedom is for and leads to manifold preferences which can no longer be evaluated on their merits. I think this realization was what broke my liberal-colored glasses. Left and right merely choose to take different things for granted and have long since destroyed the intellectual tools necessary to explain why. Even the pagan barbarians had some grasp of the natural law and could be reasoned with on those grounds.

                The ‘rising new thinkers’ could be found to coalesce around GRECE … and the so called New Right (La Nouvelle Droite). What I found, or better said what I surmise, is that one can understand La Nouvelle Droite as an aspect of similar movements that have currents in the Interwar Period. That is, a reaction against Marxism and Communism and I would also now include Americanism. I would have to place myself, though I have no special right or standing to be such, as radically opposed to this Americanopolis, especially in the postwar forms, and definitely insofar as it seems to have been taken over by a Trotskyist, Neoconservatist pro-Zionism which, truth be told, is doing tremendous harm to the American social body. You can grasp from this statement that my ideas would branch into discomfiting territory!

                Rest assured my description of unsupported quasi-principles as dangling in the air with all the liveliness of strangled corpses has ostracized me from most political discussion. People don’t like when you ask them to defend their inventive axioms, it seems. I’m regretting that I never studied French; the only English references to these groups I’ve found so far throw around ‘fascist’ which only really tells me that the right people hate them.

                • I should have mentioned Alain de Benoist by his name. Here is a link to an interview: (http://katehon.com/article/end-modern-world-interview-alain-de-benoist). He is the one who started GRECE.

                  I have been influenced by Jonathan Bowden who is an odd fellow but who has a very interesting mind. You might find this talk interesting [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDGWr8kMBk8].

                  Thanks for responding! I will try to comment tomorrow.

                • Benjamin wrote: I marked it as the end of scholasticism and rational moral thought and pronounced it responsible for the avalanche of ends-directed skepticism leading to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, Nihilism, Marxism, and ultimately (so far) our modern moral relativism. I came to it by way of the likes of G.K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc, and I’ve since been clumsily inoculating myself with doses of St. Thomas Aquinas, Plato, and the opinions of whoever else I can find. I was raised by wolves, you might say.

                  I think I understand! I was raised by sheep so have had to learn to become more aggressive.

                  I have a strong feeling that you will appreciate Basil Willey’s Seventeenth Century Background, and there is a wonderful on-line copy available. The chapter ‘The Rejection of Scholasticism’ is masterful and enormously relevant to understanding The Present.

                  Here is the link: https://archive.org/details/seventeenthcentuwill

                  What I find interesting in what you write is in how timely it is. What I mean is that somehow, but for reasons I do not fully grasp, there is developing a movement of thoughtful people who are confronting and working their way through rather difficult ideas as a result of confrontation with the madness of (what I call) hyper-liberalism. Confronting radical liberalism is a radical counter-project. It is a *game* that is played, in our present, with extreme seriousness.

                  The problem, as I see it, is in how thorough one will choose to be. Or how far one will wish to take it or be able to take it. Within the American (and so-called) Alt-Right there are 10,000 pitfalls and I have begun to understand how easy it is to fall into one of them.

                  It seems to me that the first order of business, vis-a-vis the recovery of Traditionalism or ‘sound metaphysics’, is ultimately a personal affair. Because one must confront the degree to which one has become ‘disordered’. But the recovery of a sound metaphysical (inner) stance is not, it seems to me, really easy at all.

                  I was very interested in Basil Willey’s reference to the notion of a ‘master metaphysician’ as the one who could *clearly see* things and distinguish the true from the false. He meant that one needs such a perspective. But how to gain it? But where is that person? Where is that ‘school of thought’?

                  Strangely, there is no going back though one has to go back over so much old (and forgotten!) material. There is only going forward.

                  Should you read Willey I would like very much to read your impressions.

                  • Benjamin

                    Thanks for all of this. It’s a relief to know there’s this much more out there. Somehow I’d fallen under the impression that the last public personality with a grounded sociopolitical criticism of modern errors was C.S. Lewis. I’m definitely going to read Willey’s Background, and I’ll let you know what I think. I wish I could’ve passed something along to you. You seem so much more connected though; I doubt I’m aware of anything you aren’t. I think the reason might be that I hear so little about European politics. I rather like that the main force of it’s over there, though. I like when history rhymes; a resurgence of Western Civilization coming about by a second Charlemagne would be poetic.

                    I was very interested in Basil Willey’s reference to the notion of a ‘master metaphysician’ as the one who could *clearly see* things and distinguish the true from the false. He meant that one needs such a perspective. But how to gain it? But where is that person? Where is that ‘school of thought’?

                    It would have to be grounded in a non-arbitrary philosophy of man and (at least initially) work within the existing scheme of popular representative government, right? I’ve been considering reading Francisco Suarez. He was one of the last names in Scholasticism, and he wrote some work focusing on political philosophy. Apparently he was late-coming enough to contend with early liberals. He may be old news to you (and, of course, I haven’t read anything yet), but I was hoping to find a missing link bridging from Thomistic metaphysics to a somewhat modern political order. It’s not that I don’t expect to find anything (or perhaps everything) in St. Thomas’s work, but the Summa Theologia alone looks like an ocean to someone with a day job. Tractatus de Legibus ac Deo Legislatore is more focused on the topic in question and likely deals with liberalism per se. The trouble is finding it in English, but that’s less of a problem for someone apparently less stricken with American monolingualism (I’d been meaning to cure my case for years), if this sounds like something you’re looking for.

                    [last second addendum: I think I found exactly one edition in English]

                    What I find interesting in what you write is in how timely it is. What I mean is that somehow, but for reasons I do not fully grasp, there is developing a movement of thoughtful people who are confronting and working their way through rather difficult ideas as a result of confrontation with the madness of (what I call) hyper-liberalism. Confronting radical liberalism is a radical counter-project. It is a *game* that is played, in our present, with extreme seriousness.

                    I think I see what you mean. There’s a collective awareness that what we’ve built is starting to creak and sway like the architects didn’t know what they were doing. I think even the ones in denial are in a state of telling, panicked denial. This is the first I’ve heard of a contemporary party with something meaningful to say about the causes, though. It’s heartening.

                    • Good Morning. In fact I think I had heard the name of Francisco Suarez but I had no idea of his relevance. I just read rather quickly the Wiki page.

                      This book is referenced by the Wiki page. https://academic.oup.com/ahr/article-abstract/47/3/583/63380?redirectedFrom=PDF I might see about trying to get hold of it at some point.

                      As it happens, my brother-in-law has Jesuit Thinkers of the Renaissance (Gerard Smith) in his collection. That book is referenced in the Wiki page.

                      You seem so much more connected though; I doubt I’m aware of anything you aren’t.

                      Only in the sense that I have followed up on and tried to read some of the authors that the New Right recommends. There are a whole group of Bowden talks on YouTube and he is a man who examines the ideas of the more radical right-leaning thinkers and presents them in such a way that is very upsetting to the established intellectual order, if only because he does not approach them through condemnation. And, as you noted, this tends to anger the ‘right people’. In this sense I see our efforts as a recovery of the freedom to think! It is really a recovery of intellect.

                      What seems to happen though, and I notice this when I read Counter-Currents and the Occidental Observer, is that people exchange ideas in the comments section of each article and, there, I have been introduced to ideas and to writers I had not ever heard of. So, ‘our movement’ (as some of them refer to it!) is really one of sharing perspectives and resources. It is really very new.

                      Can’t help much in respect to Thomas Aquinas. I need someone to help me with him! But I would recommend Etienne Gilson and Edward Feser. Feser has written a strong polemic: The Last Superstition which I have skimmed. Gilson numerous works on Thomist philosophy including The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy which I have begun at least 2 times and gotten bogged down in.

                      As to the European versus the American *schools*, if this term can be used, and why it is that the most coherent and integral ideas come out of European thought, well that is a very interesting question! My sense about ‘our movement’ is that it is in essence a recovery of ‘the European soul’. A large part of the idea-war now on-going really does have to do with European identity and Eurocentric notions. Waldo Frank wrote of America as the forward guard of Europe. My impression is that America needs to be rediscovered through a fundamental reorientation in relation to Europe (I mean of course European ideas and also identity).

                      In America and among Americans there is the problem of the division and rupture in the American psyche and polity: all that happened as a result the American Civil War. The American is, because of this, somewhat schizophrenically divided. It is the issue, the division, that will not go away! The North’s attack on the South, and the destruction of the South, is a manoeuvre that has been repeated time and time again by the hubristic North as it continued its work of *destroying Republicanism*. Also in my view, it has so increased in the present that it is now a world-scale problem. A ‘Republic’ hardly exists! It is this entire problem that American Conservatism needs to confront — and can’t!

                      I look forward to reading your impressions on Willey. He will not disappoint…

  11. I believe the “freak-out” stems in part from the conviction held by TRUMP’s fiercest enemies (leftists, those are) – expressed by the following:
    “[X, who is not of the left] can’t do that – ONLY WE can!”

    Whatever TRUMP does that is ever so slightly what the left does, or would do, or wants exclusively to be able to do (and get away with) – or that somehow “steals oxygen” from the left and its innumerable righteous causes and agenda items – is a trigger for an all-hive attack on him.

    The attack serves as a noisy way of distracting and deflecting the masses’ attention from the fact that the attackers are doing (or planning to do, or wish they could or would do) exactly the same thing TRUMP (or whoever their bogeyman-of-the-day is [usually a white male]), is doing (or saying).

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