Futurists seem to miss the fact that old things contain worthwhile wisdom and usefulness. Traditionalism seems to miss the fact that static institutions become corrupt without change. Meanwhile, the modernists are so tied up in the recent past as to be blind to both tradition and innovation.
It seems when the world is humming along and freedom and prosperity are abundant, there are many experienced hands in many fields with a lot of interesting and useful advice and input. When the shit hits the fan, prosperity ceases, and freedom is strangled, nearly everyone ceases to bring wisdom or insight to the table.
There’s a path my life could have taken – could still take – toward the life of an intellectual. I’ve just about always been interested in one or more of the favorite intellectual subjects of philosophy, history, politics, theology, economics, psychology, and sociology (whatever that is). I’ve always liked to have big opinions on things. And I’ve always preferred toying with ideas to toying with numbers or machines. But I’m beginning to think this is an aptitude worth resisting. It’s not obvious to me that intellectuals as such bring a whole lot of benefit to the world.
This episode features an interview of philosopher and political scientist Jason Brennan from 2013 by Trevor Burrus and Aaron Powell, hosts of the Free Thoughts podcast. Conventional wisdom holds that governments make laws and their citizens have a duty to obey them. Most people think that’s so obvious that we don’t even really need to discuss it. But is it? Governments certainly want us to obey them, but what sort of arguments are there for why we should?
I’ll say again, the Presidents of the United States are a motley crew. So far the scorecard reads 45 attempts, 45 clunkers. I am not saying there were no honorable persons in the group (“honorable” itself is a very iffy word). But I have practically no regard for the intellects of any of today’s half-dozen. With the exception of the monstrous Jackson, the other 5 are bound for the oubliette of history. But, to me, there is no such thing as a great President. To have been a POTUS places a black mark on that career. Few (ie none) have risen above.
The Presidents of the United States are a motley crew. So far the scorecard reads 45 attempts, 45 klunkers. I am not saying there were no honorable persons in the group (“honorable” itself is a very iffy word). I have the highest regard for the intellects of Jefferson and Madison. I believe that John Adams was among the greatest lawyers (a rare occurrence). But, to me, there is no such thing as a great President. To have been one places a black mark on that career. Few have risen above.
I don’t believe the “United States” has very much to do with a good vision of America. The bureaucrats and the enforcers typically just control, manipulate, and harass. The politicians grandstand, and the legislation corrupts and impoverishes. The corporate types join in. But there’s a whole lot more to America than the government, the big corporations, or the culture wars. I catch little glimpses of this “hidden America” here and there.
And you learn something new every day. Recently, I learned a new point of view regarding global warming. The source of my learning was a WWW article, Libertarian Principles & Climate Change, from the Niskanen Center, written by Jerry Taylor. I’m not sure that I am less confused, or just confused in a new direction.
“The not-real-socialism defence is only ever invoked retrospectively, namely, when a socialist experiment has already been widely discredited. As long as a socialist experiment is in its prime, almost nobody disputes its socialist credentials. On the contrary: practically all socialist regimes have gone through honeymoon periods, during which they were enthusiastically praised and held up as role models by plenty of prominent Western intellectuals. It is only after the event (i.e. once they have become an embarrassment for the socialist cause) that their version of socialism is retroactively redefined as ‘unreal’.”
Yesterday I picked up my two youngest granddaughters after school. We talked over frosty shakes, slushes, and sodas at a local drive-in. At some point, it occurred to me to say, “It must be tough for a young person to grow up in a world that is so full of lying,” as though this might be some wisdom available only to an ancient man. I was most happy to hear, in unison, “We know! Right?”