The Unraveling of America

Antifa combatants fighting with Trump supporters at Berkeley, California on August 27. 2017.

Antifa combatants fighting with Trump supporters at Berkeley, California on August 27, 2017.
Youtube screenshot / The Red Elephants

The United States of America  is unraveling as a society, in much the same way that the European Union is beginning to fall apart. Throughout the West, conflict is building between those who believe government is the answer to all social problems and those who believe government creates most of those problems. In the U.S. that conflict is becoming ever more violent. Those who believe in government, generally called “progressives”, are demonstrating increasing hatred toward those who do not, who are most accurately called “neoliberals” but often referred to as “conservatives.” Many neoliberals seem to mirror that hate.

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Major Problems for the Republican Party

The U.S. Senate voting NO on repeal of Obamacare on July 27, 2017.

The U.S. Senate voting NO on repeal of Obamacare on July 27, 2017.
Screenshot of ABC News coverage.

Everywhere  the leaders of the two major American political parties look, insuperable political problems threaten to overwhelm them. As long-time assumptions about the capabilities of government unravel and the electorate itself is fragmenting into new coalitions, driven by uncertainty on how their major economic and political problems can be solved, the parties themselves are frustrated over how to get public support for their policies. The Republican Party especially appears to be splitting into separate moderate and “conservative” coalitions. However, although the Democratic Party (at least among its elites) is not so riven as the GOP, its relatively greater unity is driving them in a direction that threatens to alienate even more of the electorate. How are the not-so United States of America and its people going to get themselves out of this fine mess?

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Are US Progressives Committing Political Suicide?

Anti-Trump Resistance protest
Screenshot of Youtube video from the Next News Network

American progressives  are becoming increasingly unhinged as they push ever further toward the political Left. Their hysterical reaction to the political successes of the neoliberal Right is leading them to concentrate their attentions on innuendo and political smears; that is, on mostly emotional reactions to express how much they so thoroughly hate the American Right. They have become so rabid, one has to wonder if they may be about to commit  political suicide inadvertently.

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Concerning Ethics, Economics, and Social Reality

Come now, and let us reason together … Isaiah 1:18

Come now, and let us reason together … Isaiah 1:18
(c) Can Stock Photo / photography33

Following my post  Will Automation Require Progressive Unemployment Solutions?, a reader called Cai left a comment to register his profound disagreements. In fact Cai’s comment compared with the message of the essay forms a perfect contrast between the alternative views of Reality held by the political Left and Right. This contrast and the causes for their profound differences beg to be examined. Continue Reading…

War Between the Progressives and Neoliberals

The debate between Right and Left

May the better ideology win!
(c) Can Stock Photo / jgroup

This is the fourth and final essay in a series  in which I give neoliberal answers to progressive counterarguments against neoliberalism. The progressive criticisms were provided by a friend and occasional rhetorical adversary, whom I will call Chease.

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Will Automation Require Progressive Unemployment Solutions?

Automated pharmacology production

Automated pharmacology production
Wikimedia Commons / FLAGRANGE

This is the third essay  in a series in which I answer progressive criticisms of neoliberalism (often mistakenly called conservatism). The author of these criticisms is a gentleman whom I will call Chease, who has often crossed rhetorical swords with me. I am delighted with the dispute and just wish even more progressives would challenge my depictions of neoliberalism.

The discussion so far has included whether or not free-markets would automatically create income inequalities, and secondly whether progressivism is the answer for racism. The third part of the discussion, whether the threat of automation destroying jobs will require progressive solutions, will be a much greater challenge.

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A Progressive Provides Counterarguments!

Let the Games begin!

Let the Games begin!
(c) Can Stock Photo / Mark2121

Over the last couple of years,  I have been very hard on progressives on this website. It is no surprise to me, then that  a progressive has decided not to take it anymore and bite back. In fact, I am surprised (and more than a little disappointed) that up until now no progressive has provided a cogent, comprehensive critique of my neoliberal (aka conservative) ramblings.

Now that one has bitten back, I will attempt to be no less comprehensive in answering his criticisms. Because of the huge scope of the subject, do not be surprised if I need more than one post to do the job!

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Progressives Become McCarthyites

Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), a name that will live in infamy.

Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), a name that will live in infamy. This is the man progressives are currently emulating.
Wikimedia Commons / Library of Congress (United Press)

Almost 70 years ago,  a senator from the state of Wisconsin, Joseph “Joe” McCarthy, used the very real threat of communism to ruin the careers and reputations of innocent individuals. In so doing, he added the term “McCarthyism” to the general political lexicon, which today means the use of demagogic, reckless, exceptional and harsh false accusations to silence and repress an individual and his/her ideas.

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More Conversations Needed!

Battle of Chickamauga

What we need to avoid!
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Library of Congress

I have been traveling lately, which explains the dearth of new posts on this website recently. Right now, I and my wife are staying at the mountainside home of a delightful couple who have been our friends for some time. Located on a mountain overseeing Maggie Valley, North Carolina and right next door to the Cherokee Indian Reservation, this spot of Heaven on Earth nevertheless offers hellish hikes up and down the mountain. Great for the cardiovascular system, these hikes also provide blissful endorphin highs without the need for running. I am convinced my friend, whom I will call Harald, is trying to kill me on these hikes!  Continue Reading…

The Fraud of Multiculturalism

The Monument to Multiculturalism by Francesco Peril in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Four identical sculptures are locate in Buffalo City, South Africa; Changchun, China; Sarajevo, Bosnia; and Sydney, Australia

The Monument to Multiculturalism by Francesco Peril in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Four identical sculptures are locate in Buffalo City, South Africa; Changchun, China; Sarajevo, Bosnia; and Sydney, Australia
Wikimedia Commons / paul (dex) from Toronto

Much of the impetus toward political correctness and identity politics  in the U.S. and Europe has been imparted by the political philosophy known as multiculturalism. The acceptance of multiculturalism by many of the American Left is the one cultural threat (that I know of) to our present, commonly accepted basic human values at the very top level of our differing value hierarchies. For now at least, the most basic human values, which I discussed in The Basic Values Needed for Our Politics, are common both to most progressives and neoliberals (aka conservatives). As I discussed in Values, Reality, and Politics, the reasons for why progressives and neoliberal conservatives go for each other’s throats has little or nothing to do (at least currently) with differing fundamental values at the top of their respective value hierarchies. The gulf between them comes from how their clashing ideologies generate divergent lower level values to achieve the higher level values. Each ideology gives a different picture to its adherents of what Reality would allow us to do to achieve those most basic values.

Yet, multiculturalism, a political philosophy advocating a cultural relativism of basic values, threatens to change this picture to one where not even the highest level, most fundamental values are held in common. To understand this, consider how American progressivism has evolved over the past several decades. In particular, we need to understand the postmodern Left.

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The Basic Values Needed for Our Politics

Five of the most important Western ethical thinkers.

Five of the most important Western ethical thinkers.
From top, left to right; bottom, left to right:

Socrates (Wikimedia Commons / Eric Gaba (Sting));
(Wikimedia Commons / Eric Gaba (Sting));
Jesus of Nazareth (Wikimedia Commons / Andreas Wahra);
St. Thomas Aquinas (Wikimedia Commons / Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei.)
Immanuel Kant (Wikimedia Commons / By Unknown – Source: Eric Gerlach first upload , Public Domain)

In my last post,  Values, Reality, and Politics, I developed a picture of our increasingly brutal political conflicts as being fights over differing value hierarchies. On closer inspection, each contending structure defines the very heart of the ethics and derived morality of their adherents. One absolutely remarkable observation is the differences between the ethics of progressives and neoliberals (aka conservatives) are not so much with their most fundamental values, but with lower level derived values.

In this picture of ethical evolvements, each level of values requires some prerequisites to acquire those values or ends. Those prerequisites then become valuable themselves as means to achieve the ends of the higher level values. They are therefore derived values one level below the values needing them to be realized. One basic value is security of the community from outside threats, and to achieve national security armed forces are needed. Everything required to produce those armed forces then become derived values to obtain the higher level value of communal security. Yet in my discussion of the hierarchy of values, I left out the most important piece.

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Values, Reality, and Politics

The Death of Socrates, by Jaques-Louis David (1787)

The Death of Socrates, by Jaques-Louis David (1787)
Wikimedia Commons Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1931

Let it be stipulated  the two major American political philosophies, more or less congruent with the two major parties, possess the same fundamental human values. These values are the most fundamental goals to be achieved somehow by the society. As I wrote in the post Human Values and the Dictates of Reality,

Chalk it up to our common Judeo-Christian heritage, or to the cultural inheritance from the Age of Enlightenment, or to some mixture of the two. Either way, most of us, whether progressive or conservative, would prefer to see our fellow citizens prosper and lead a satisfying life. Most of us frown on theft, and on gratuitously causing pain to another human being. Virtually all of us despise our historical involvement with slavery, and earnestly desire equal opportunity for all citizens regardless of ethnic or racial heritage. Believe it or not, progressives, this is just as true for conservatives as for progressives.

What causes the progressives and neoliberal conservatives to go for each other’s throats has nothing to do with differing fundamental values. The gulf between them is in what they believe Reality (with a capital “R”) allows us to do to satisfy our common, fundamental values.

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Will Progressives’ Expectation of Fascism Be Frustrated?

Trump Nominees Rex Tillerson (State) and Jeff Sessions (Justice)

Trump’s nominees for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson (Wikimedia Commons / Office of the President-elect),
and for the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions (Wikimedia Commons / U.S. Senate)

American progressives are going nuts!  They are apparently expecting Donald J. Trump to be the second coming of either Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini. Yet the relatively smooth-sailing for his cabinet nominees in Senate hearings this week strongly suggest their expectations will yet again be cruelly disappointed.

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Can Americans See Only the Yin and Not the Yang?

The Yin and Yang of our ideological realities
(c) Can Stock Photo / arkela

Light and Dark. Good and Evil. What you are For and What you are Against. Yang and Yin.  Today I read a very disturbing essay on the American Interest website that strongly suggests most of today’s Americans know far better what they are against than what they are for. Entitled The Stages of Negative Self-Definition by David Green, the essay begins with a quote from a 1949 Atlantic Monthly article by Archibald MacLeish.

A people who have been real to themselves because they were for something cannot continue to be real to themselves when they find they are merely against something.

Green then goes on to note that a people who have reduced their political will to “the dry negation of the will of others” leave themselves

reactive and rudderless, with nothing positive to offer. Second, and even more dangerous, the point at which millions of people surrender to negative self-definition is the point at which politics, economics, indeed the entire substance of national life, becomes imbued with a profound sense of unreality. That is the point at which the national discourse becomes dominated by negative, fearful fantasies, and power falls into the hands of whoever is most skilled at manipulating those fantasies.

Green then claims that our just-concluded  presidential election demonstrates the American people have defined themselves negatively in this fashion. They know what they are against, but not what they would be willing to support.

Can this possibly be true?

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Trump’s Antidote to the Progressive Infection

The first three progressive presidents: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson

The first three progressive presidents: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson
Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons / Pach Brothers , Wikimedia Commons / George Grantham Bain , and Wikimedia Commons / Harris & Ewing

Progressivism was not always the alien virus  infecting the American body politic that it is today. When it started out as a social movement in the 1870s, it’s adherents could justly claim the proud title of “Liberals.” Liberalism, that child of the Age of Enlightenment, was most preoccupied with securing the liberty and freedom of individuals from the menace and power of the state. This liberalism is the central American tradition, enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, most especially in the Bill of Rights. The values of individualism inherent in the Constitution — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to hold property; the right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”; the right to trial by jury if accused of a crime; and many others intended to ensure a modicum of immunity from the demands of government — are the values that traditionally have defined Americans as Americans. These are the values, together with the institutions they inspired, that have made the United States an exceptional nation.

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