Shock! Horror! The Pope Is, Like Catholic, or Something, Y’know!

Over at the Orthosphere, Svein Sellanra delivers a ‘belated memo to journalists‘. He concludes with this gem:

By putting the new Pope’s orthodoxy out there as if it were news, you imply that these are “live issues” about which Catholics might legitimately disagree, that the Catholic Church would still be the Catholic Church if Nancy Pelosi were elected Pope at the next conclave. That’s another annoying habit you have, by the way: Denounce the Church if you must, but don’t denounce the Church and then try to micromanage its internal affairs.

I strongly encourage reading the whole thing.

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Current Reading List – 30 Mar, 2013

On this blog, I plan to periodically give a list of interesting books I’m reading, with short notes on my thoughts about them. In the future I may also do reviews of books I’ve finished, but for now it’s works in progress.

I. A South-Side View of Slavery, by Rev. Nehemiah Adams

I’m about half done with this. It was written by a Boston abolitionist, and yet turned out, against all odds, relatively favorable to the South’s ‘peculiar institution’. Rev. Adams was anything but blind to slavery’s abuses, but he was also a firm counterweight to the ideologues in his movement who would have put the South to fire and sword to emancipate the Negro. A fascinating read and well-worth your time. The Radish has an excellent introduction to the book if you’re interested.

II. A Defence of Virginia, and Through Her, of the South, by Rev. R.L. Dabney

Robert Louis Dabney was a Southern Presbyterian theologian and a Confederate army chaplain. He was, according to La Wik, also the chief of staff and biographer to General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson. I was introduced to his thought through Faith and Heritage‘s series Dabney on Sunday, but was brought to pay attention to him through frequent references to his predictions at Mencius Moldbug’s blog Unqualified Reservations. Unlike Rev. Adams, Rev. Dabney’s bias is entirely in favor of Southern slavery, which must be borne in mind when reading his work. Nevertheless, it is fascinating and well worth your time. It can be downloaded for free at the Dabney Archive.

III. Patriarcha, or the Natural Power of Kings, by Sir Robert Filmer.

Sir Robert Filmer was a seventeenth-century Tory and a defender of the Divine Right of Kings. I haven’t read enough of his work to render a complete judgment as yet, but I am certainly intrigued by anything that offers an alternative to the historically bankrupt ‘social contract’ theory.

In Memoriam: Lawrence Auster

I was saddened to learn today that Lawrence Auster, one of the giants of our movement, passed away early this morning. He had been an Anglican, but was received into the Roman Catholic Church on Sunday (Palm Sunday in the Western calendar) of this year. I wont eulogise him, as others have done that better. I’d encourage you to read Laura Wood’s entry on his blog, View From the Right, doing just that.

Instead, I will simply say  ‘Memory Eternal!’

Say a prayer for the soul of Lawrence Auster. Never forget him. People like us, however unworthy, must take up his work all the more fervently now he is gone.

–Avenging Red Hand

 

Why Issues Voting Is Stupid

In American elections, we hear a lot of talk about ‘the issues’. As near as I can tell, ‘issues’ are specific, concrete problems facing the politicians in power. Politicians who would like to gain (or retain) power attempt to explain to ‘the people’ how they would deal with these issues. ‘The people’, in their infinite wisdom, evaluate each of these solutions and choose the best ones. They then pick the candidate who they believe offers the best solution on the most issues.

At least, that’s the theory. But it’s stupid.

Why is it stupid? Well, first, we need to back up. What are we doing (again, in theory) when we elect a Representative to Congress, or a President? Essentially, we are hiring someone to govern.

The American theory is that the power of government, in some metaphysical sense, rests with the people, but that in practice, they cannot exercise it well themselves, and therefore it behooves them theoretically to delegate it to ‘representatives’ who will make, enforce, and interpret the laws on their behalf.

Now, there are two basic models of hiring. I will label them sub-skill and super-skill.

In the sub-skill model of hiring, you hire a person to do something that you could do, or at least that you know how to do. The reason you hire him is probably because you have more money than time. This is the model you use with the guy who mows your lawn. It’s not that you dont know how to mow your lawn, but you prefer to pay the money rather than do it yourself. In this model of hiring, it’s perfectly reasonable for you to examine the methods used by the people who would like the job and pick the one you think best.

In the super-skill model of hiring, you hire a person to do something you dont know how to do; this person is normally known as an ‘expert’ or ‘consultant’. For example, if you dont speak Italian but you need to communicate with someone who only speaks Italian, most likely you will hire a translator.

In the super-skill model, you cannot evaluate the person’s methods directly. If Giorgio and Giovanni both offer to translate to Italian for you, you cant ask them detailed questions about Italian grammar, evaluate their answers, and then determine who is the better translator on that basis. Why not? Because to understand the responses, you would need to speak Italian, and if you spoke Italian, we wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place.

When you’re hiring someone to deal with problems you dont understand, there are a number of strategies you can employ. You can look at his education, his experience, and his track record of results. You can ask people who’ve employed him in the past. The one thing you cant do is ask complex questions about topics you dont understand and then try to judge answers that you wont understand either.

And yet this is precisely what ‘issues voting’ amounts to. The vast majority of voters do not understand the issues. How could they, especially when it comes to complex topics like the budget or foreign policy? Therefore, they are incompetent to judge proposals on these issues. Instead they should be judging persons based on their credentials and track record (if they must be judging anything at all).

Judging candidates based on their issue positions defeats the whole point of representative democracy by putting the choice of issue positions back in the hands of the people. It treats politicians like sub-skill labour, as if the people as a whole could make all these decisions themselves, but we simply dont have the time.

If the model of reality in which ‘issues voting’ worked were true, then we should all be voting on policy questions themselves. Instead of picking a ‘close match’ candidate, we should all get to vote on, for instance, whether to go to war, or what programs to cut.

Obviously, the people are not capable of doing this competently. We’re insufficiently informed and insufficiently trained for such a task. That’s why we have representatives. Why, then, do we promote the idea that we should select candidates based on their ‘issue positions’?

Equality Doesn’t Make Sense…

 

…unless you’re willing to reopen the slave markets.

 

Let me explain. The dogma of human equality is one of the great sacred cows of modern society. But like many other terms that are used regularly (‘racism’, ‘bigotry’, and ‘fascism’ spring to mind), there is no set or useful definition of ‘human equality’ most of the time. Instead it’s a vague concept used as a bludgeon against hierarchies disliked by the one using the term, and generally against any concept of traditional order.

 

One may point out that different people have different heights, weights, talents, levels of strength, levels of intelligence, and behavioral patterns, among other things. And usually, this fact will be acknowledged without much of a fight. A retreat will then be made to some other definition of equality. But they are all untenable, or at least meaningless, and I am going to attempt to demonstrate that here.

 

The typical answer is that all people have equal value or are equally important. This sounds very nice. But what does it mean? What is the ‘value’ of a human being? Quantifiable value, as opposed to ‘values’ like honor or justice (which are a whole different sort of thing), is mostly an economic concept. How does one measure the ‘value’ of a human being?

 

Well, typically, the way one determines the value of a thing is by market action. That is to say, one sells it and sees how much he can get. However, civilised people have generally given up the slave trade at this point. Nevertheless, in those places where slavery does exist, every individual is certainly not worth the same amount of money. And this is not an illustration I think many egalitarians would be comfortable with. So we must search for our definition of human equality elsewhere.

 

Economic ‘value’ doesn’t really apply to humans, for the most part. Economic value, after all, is subjective; I may value a new laptop more than the $1300 I pay for it, but for the computer store, it’s just the opposite. Only the market creates a ‘true’, ‘objective’ measure of economic value. Other measures are either subjective (my individual valuation) or completely artificial. Thus it’s rather silly to talk about ‘equal’ human value.

 

The Christian typically retreats to a definition of value such as this one: ‘God loves everyone equally’. (Materialists dont define it at all; generally, they just label you ‘backward’ or a ‘bigot’ and burn you at the stake).

 

I personally doubt this is true. ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated’, and all that. But even if it is, so what? This tells us absolutely nothing about equality in any sense applicable to our own lives, especially in the political realm. God may love the retarded child with an IQ of 70 just as much as He loves George Washington. That does not mean they are equally fit to steer the ship of state.

 

And this applies to men and women, for instance. ‘God loves women just as much as He loves men.’ OK, sure, I guess; whatever. That tells us nothing about whether they should be allowed to vote. It tells us nothing about whether either sex should be given total freedom in courtship. It tells us nothing about how men and women should relate once married. In other words, in every social and political sense it tells us nothing of any value whatsoever.

 

This kind of ‘value’ (a measurement of divine love) is meaningless.

 

If we then retreat from the economic notion of equality, where do we have left to go? Can we say ‘all people are equally important’?

 

Well, we can, but then the question is: important to whom? All people are not equally important to me. All people are not equally important to the survival of the nation. And all people are not equally important to history. All people may be equally important to God (though I tend to doubt it), but so what? We’re back to the ‘Divine love’ explanation of equality.

 

‘Equality’ is a nonsense.