Friday, November 04, 2011

Time to Uphold Western Roots

The guest-post below was written by Hanne Nabintu Herland, a Norwegian historian of religion and the author of the 2010 bestseller Alarm! Tanker om en kultur i krise (“Alarm! Reflections on a culture in crisis”).

Many thanks to the reader in California who sent this in. The translation is the author’s.



Time to uphold Western roots
by Hanne Nabintu Herland


Hanne Nabintu HerlandFor quite some time Muslims and non-Western immigration into Europe have been a hot topic of discussion. The recent horrible blow of terrorism in Oslo on July 22 has brought about new discussions on the Norwegian government’s failure to respond properly to the issues of cultural clashes that face Norway, as well as Europe as a whole. Let us hope Ayaan Hirsi Ali is wrong in predicting civil war in Europe if we are able to cope with the growing number of immigrant groups and their cultural implications.

But why have Europeans generally been so preoccupied with foreign religions and other cultures while so little is said about Europe’s own cultural values? Most non-Westerners emigrate from their homelands because they believe that it is considerably better to live in a European country. How is it that we today are not allowed to emphasize the positive elements in European culture? The brilliantly civilizing elements of Western Culture actually laid the foundation for the growth of stable democratic states in Europe. The combination of the Protestant Ethic’s emphasis on the Jewish Ten Commandments and capitalism’s espousal of hard work and earned wealth made Western Culture a leading global force. Independent courts protected the human worth and civil rights of the individual. The capitalist market system has since spread in triumph over the world and released millions of people from lives of poverty.

Sociologist Max Weber’s work has shown that the fundamental values of a state are not irrelevant factors. The success of capitalism is related to a highly specific series of ethical norms grounded in the Calvinist traditions of honesty, hard work and integrity. Financial crises occur when moral principles that provide the basis for the optimal functioning of capitalism are abandoned. Greed and egoism gain the upper hand.

All values are therefore not equally good for building a state. Many cultures have values that are both destructive to society and disregard humanity. Some values create human communities and set healthy limits so that no one has the right to override others. Other values and ideals provide an opening for social chaos where the individual’s egoism is primary. Self-satisfaction and -realization then occur at the cost of solidarity and common civility.

Author Seth Kaplan emphasizes in Fixing Fragile States that countries which today succeed in implementing a well-functioning capitalism continue to exhibit a strict moral emphasis on work, individualism and personal property rights. It is impossible to build a well-functioning society without a solid ethical foundation, for which abominable conditions in many African states provide ample demonstration. Where authorities do not provide real judicial rights and where corruption is pervasive, there is weak economic growth and great social unrest. For what happens in a state where it is legitimate to lie? If it is acceptable to steal from the workplace? If the societal glue of trust and loyalty is dissolved, only irresponsibility and betrayal remain.

A society characterized by modern diversity certainly does not require that pride in national values be choked. In The Study of Religion, Peter Berger, one the most important sociologists of our time, points out that diversity and pluralism do not imply a contradiction between maintaining one’s own cultural anchor in religious traditions and respecting the beliefs of others.

How have we arrived at a situation in which Europeans are dutifully required to only emphasize the positive in foreign cultures and the negative in the European culture? Why is one labeled a national chauvinist as soon as one mentions constructive aspects of traditions? One of the answers is that the denigration of our own cultural background is enshrined in the present 68ers’ politics that have characterized most of Europe the last 40 years. Spokesmen for value-relativism considered it their primary task to fight society’s traditional authorities. A modern multicultural society should be based on a universal science that replaced national culture. The odd idea prevailed that as soon as every remnant of European traditions was removed, a classless socialist utopia would be realized. Today everyone knows that the cultural radicals were wrong. Europe has not become a paradise even though the 68ers’ worldview permeates all levels of society and defines policies in sector after sector. It has, however, paved the way for the legitimization of a norm-dissolving egoism in a society that detests terms such as self-discipline, responsibility and duty. As a consequence of the liberalization process, no one dares to speak positively about traditional culture at the risk of appearing chauvinistic or racist.

The Left also failed to understand that in the foundation of their own historical values there exist such basic Jewish and Christian values as the duty of solidarity and the equalizing of class differences. Central Leftist values also have their roots in traditional culture and carry important values that modern society lacks. Today Europe finds itself in a deep cultural crisis. Deconstruction of social authorities such as teachers, clergy and police has gone so far that it is almost not permissible to discuss the setting of limits. Today everything is cultivated except the cultural backbone of society.

In Nasjonalstaten the Norwegian professor Sigurd Skirbekk calls for a stronger national solidarity concerning Norway’s own traditions. He maintains that society depends on a common platform that includes moral and cultural qualities. It is a paradox that while historical national military conflicts had previously been referred to as events that gave us “freedom as a gift”, modern historians call these same events “an obsolete nationalism.” Without the constructive nationalism that characterized many European countries in that historical phase, freedom would not have been achieved.

The destructive chauvinism that leads to genocide of the kind that Europe experienced with the totalitarian Hitler’s National Social German Workers’ Party in Germany (Nazi) does exist. At the same time, a positive form of nationalism exists, offering people a secure cultural identity so that they can find their place in an ever more global society. Today it is time for a renewed focus on our own positive cultural traditions. We need the freedom to again to be proud to be European.

28 comments:

Egghead said...

Per Peter Berger, "...diversity and pluralism do not imply a contradiction between maintaining one’s own cultural anchor in religious traditions and respecting the beliefs of others."

NO. We have lost our moorings in our belief of the ascendancy of COMPROMISE. That all things are equal. That all things are valid.

WRONG. Some things actually are BETTER. Western culture is one of those things and is demonstrably better than non-Western cultures by every subjective and objective measure. Even 'PC MC springs from good Western motives' Hesperado maintains that Western culture is worth saving because it is BETTER and will show the rest of the world the way to being better.

We must repudiate the beliefs of others (be they Muslim or atheist) when those beliefs are Satanic and seek to enslave humanity to 1) Allah and Sharia Law under Islam, or 2) man-made eco-regulation 'science' of climate change and population control under Marxism or atheism.

Moral relativism must be replaced by morals which are clear that ALL people deserve to be free (slaves of Allah and slaves of the state are to be forbidden in 'religion' and political parties) and to be able to believe in God (versus the Satanic Allah or godless science).

We MUST actively disrespect Islam and Marxism - which both contend that their beliefs and adherents are better - or, as has been alluded to here before, our lack of cultural confidence will doom us to enslavement and the quite brutal death of us and Western culture and its BETTER ideas.

Sagunto said...

So much well intended falsehoods in just one single passage:

"Sociologist Max Weber’s work has shown that the fundamental values of a state are not irrelevant factors. The success of capitalism is related to a highly specific series of ethical norms grounded in the Calvinist traditions of honesty, hard work and integrity. Financial crises occur when moral principles that provide the basis for the optimal functioning of capitalism are abandoned. Greed and egoism gain the upper hand."

First and foremost, if "greed" were the driving factor, our economies would be in a permanent state of crisis.

I don't suppose Ms Nabintu will ever read anything about ABCT (Austrian Business Cycle Theory), for which F. A. Hayek got rewarded with the Nobel Prize, nor will she be likely to pick up any relevant book on free market philosophy (Von Mises, Bastiat), but she really should. Perhaps the best thing she could do is watch a YouTuber called "Peter Schiff was right" and get off the outdated Weber stuff.

Capitalism was extremely successful way before the Calvinist power grab, in fact, Calvinism (say in Holland) threatened to kill off capitalism (and lots of other assets of Western civilization) had it not been fiercely opposed by the ruling business class of the day in Amsterdam. Weber's thesis has been disproved many times over and is not to be taken seriously in any debate on the current financial crisis.

And as far as "values of a state" go, well, we know by now what they are. The Framers and ratifiers of the US Constitution knew what they were, which is precisely why they trusted the state with precious little power.

Kind regs from Amsterdam,
Sag.

mzungu said...

Those same sentiments about culture of a nation being valuable are echoed in, of all places, China. In this video Kung Fu old masters express remorse over the loss of culture by government mandate. (sorry video is 52 minutes and expressions of regret are sprinkled throughout) For world perspective it is a 'must watch'.

RonaldB said...

Sagunto,

Regards from the US; in fact, Texas.

You took the words out of my mouth, and stated them much better than I could. The principles of Captitalism were, in fact, developed by Adam Smith much earlier than Max Weber's musings.

Let me point out that the form of government is all-important. As you correctly pointed out, the framers of the US Constitution were keenly aware of the ability of a strong government to displace individual liberties. So, they instituted a division of power, whereby the branches of government kept a check on each other.

Unfortunately, the parliamentary systems of Europe have far more faith (and I use the word 'faith' deliberately) that a government formed by elected ministers can be trusted.

In other words, if a country has a government that is unchecked and powerful, once a totalitarian faction achieves power, it doesn't really matter what the cultural norm is. An example is the Nazis in Germany, who came to power through perfectly legal means. Once in power, they used the levers of government to consolidate their power.

Can you tell me that there is a country in Europe where this couldn't happen? It doesn't depend on the cultural norm; it depends on the actual structure of the government.

The US has as many leftists and multi-culturalists as Europe.

The difference is, that no matter how many totalitarians insinuate themselves into powerful bureaucracies, they cannot seize undisputed power without a Revolution who's illegal nature would be obvious to everyone, including the military forces sworn to uphold the Constitution...and, the military takes their oath very seriously.

You New said...

Sag.... regarding "greed"

I enjoy your comments and almost always agree. I think you are largely correct when you say this view presented is a naive, but I also think that they may be on to something regarding "greed" something you are missing. I think we had a little talk like this once, but here goes again!

I believe what you call "greed" I would call "a healthy drive to get things one wants" to excel or get money or items or a preferred lifestyle. Anyway, to me, that's not greed, or if it is it's a pretty healthy form of it. So we agree that this level of "greed" is fine and good. But it's not greed to me at all -- it's just natural human drives.

Here are a few thoughts and here is my definition of greed:

Greed is a contemptuous expectation to things one doesn't own, hasn't paid for or earned.

Greed like this is pathological from the view of many spiritual disciplines. The point being that greed has been contemplated for ages by profound minds and is considered a no-no for a reason.

You New said...

This very real psychic greed is the engine to a world movement which rides under the beautific banner of PC, liberalism or multiculturalism.

This dangerous greed game is seen by each and every individual involved as not existing--the sin of greed is absolved through a personal connection to what is perceived as an ethically-superior movement! Like many churches where you just join and then by virtue of being there you are officially okay, you are free of your sins. The people really believe it, that pathological greed is now forgiven.

RonaldB said...

To You New:

I think you misunderstand the phenomenon of greed in the lexicon of capitalists.

Adam Smith, in "Wealth of Nations" did not specify the moral parameters of greed in individuals. He showed how self-centered, rapacious greed within a capitalist system worked to increase the material goods available to individuals. The key point is that the avenue to riches for the greedy individual is to produce more goods. In a system where property rights are not respected, say in most Islamic societies, the avenue to riches is to steal the property of others, especially if you are a government official. So, the same personality type has different effects, depending on the legal structure of the society.

Similarly, the framers of the US Constitution assumed that politicians would be greedy for power and unprincipled in its pursuit. So, they set up the framework of checks and balances and division of powers. The power of the greediest, most unprincipled politicians in the US is very limited, even for Presidents. The rapacious need of Congressmen for power and influence motivates them to oppose a Presidential grasp at imperial power.

So again, the system gains stability, not from the personal virtues of the politicians, but from the structure of the government, which assumes the fallibility and flaws in individuals and uses them as a source of strength.

Again, you have the same

Sagunto said...

I'd like to add some general observations to the comments of RonaldB and You New (much appreciated!).

In a civil society, based on free market principles, people are more or less invited to cooperate with one another, because they cannot use force to get other people to serve them (that's the "prerogative" of the State, I'd like to remind Ms Herland). They can't force someone to work for them or force someone to buy their product. One reason the free market is so much better than the pre- and post-capitalist systems is because it allows people to participate economically in limitless ways. People are free to exploit their talents.

The people with a talent to predict consumer demand, the entrepreneurs fittest for the free market, will of course survive. This is not to be taken in a crude naturalistic way, for it should go with the reminder that the ones who survive in a free market are the ones who best proved their "fitness" at serving their fellow men, meaning that they provide us with the goods and services we desire, which is quite a departure from the one-sided and rather grim picture often painted by those eager to place a negative focus on "greed".
In a free market, consumers cast ballots with every product they choose to favour. I think that this emphasis on the democratic aspects of the free market runs quite a bit against the grain of the rather pessimistic, Calvinist take on both capitalism and human nature.

In this vein, I believe it was Ludwig von Mises himself who indicated that democracy is a rather imperfect imitation of the market.

(to be continued..)

Sagunto said...

(..continued)

So-called Calvinist principles (read: Weberian constructs) have very little to do with free market philosophy. In fact, historical examples abound where it can be seen that, had Calvinism had its way, every aspect of the free society would have been eradicated. Calvinism - in the real existing manifestations of Calvin's rule in Geneva, or the proto-communist utopian hell-hole that the city of Münster was turned into by militant Anabaptists - actual Calvinism therefore, was chiefly about doctrinal rigorism and radical moral rectitude. In a political sense, Calvinist manifestos are pervaded with a distinct desire to ground a Christian theocracy.

On the other hand, free market philosophy, as presented in the writings of, say, Frédéric Bastiat, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard and many others, is about freedom and property rights, first and foremost. That is the basis of our civilization documented by these freedom loving giants. The pessimistic, Calvinist view of human nature, with its denial of any substantial free will, putting people down with the "animal spirit", seems more akin to the way old-fashioned Marxists and indeed Karl Marx himself used to think of human nature in economic affairs.

Calvinism ruthlessly condemns human nature (the Dutch synod of Dordt has it that humans are "totally unable of doing any good, and inclined to nothing but evil"; in Dutch: "ganselijk onbekwaam is tot enig goed en geneigd tot alle kwaad"), whereas free market Capitalism is a deeply moral philosophy of freedom that takes into account the fact that we as human beings are not without inherent flaws, greed being one of them.

It is indeed a good thing to take a nuanced look at how greed can work to the benefit of all, provided there's a truly free market, and respect for property rights. Yet by leaving it at that, we'd only be telling half of the story. This would in turn leave the stage to these "Calvinist" moralists, like Ms Herland, who habitually paint a rather bleak picture of both human nature and capitalism as well.

Greed/selfishness/competition, all of these things are important indeed for self-preservation. But I'd like to add that we - as humans - can do one (or two) better than to place these Darwinian terms in a more positive light. That's why I'd like to call attention to our uniquely human capacity to build upon and even transcend our very own "nature". Civil society, based on a free market, builds upon more than just competition and selfishness. Only to focus on these aspects means selling short the deeply moral insights of those great men who devoted their life's work in the service of freedom.

Kind regs from Amsterdam,
Sag

Sagunto said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sagunto said...

You New -

In my initial comment I took "greed" at face value, the way I thought Ms Herland used it, i.e. as a vice to be condemned and remedied by good 'n pure Calvinist virtues.

I oppose this kind of reasoning for historical and scientific reasons. Firstly because, with ABCT, we have a much better explanation for economic crises (the mystery of the so-called "cluster of errors" among formerly successful business leaders is explained. Crises occur because of the state's intervening in the free market, not allowing it to function).
Secondly because looking for moral explanations (rife with historical falsehoods) when one, like Ms Herland, apparently has no idea what free market capitalism is all about, is like condemning patients with stomach ulcers for failing to cope with "chronic stress", where actual knowledge of the disease shows that ulcers are caused by certain types of bacteria.

This is common practice: when actual knowledge of a phenomenon or problem is lacking, moral explanations - often in the form of guilt ridden condemnations - fill the gap.

RonaldB -

You asked me:

"Can you tell me that there is a country in Europe where this couldn't happen? It doesn't depend on the cultural norm; it depends on the actual structure of the government."

I think that cultural norms are very important, though I don't share Ms Herland's views on the history and nature of the desired norms. My issue is mostly with the size and scope of our welfare state bureaucracies. And my answer to you is, yes, it could happen anywhere, both in Europe and the US, where for considerable time now, the Constitution has been treated with utter disregard, leading to the managerial state that today's USA has become, wholly in keeping with the darkest visions produced by Alexis de Tocqueville when he speculated about the new form of tyranny that could threaten such a wonderful association of independent nations (being the sovereign states). In old treaties the word united was often not written with a capital U. Today's centralized superstate called the USA would make Thomas Jefferson turn in his grave.

All the best from Amsterdam,
Sag.

P.s.:
As an afterthought, I'd like to add that it is kind of a moral outrage to end this piece with the claim that "chauvinism" or "bad nationalism" caused genocide. No, Ms Herland, it was socialism that caused genocide. Like Prof. Watson noted in his magisterial "Lost literature of Socialism":

"[I]n the European century that began in the 1840s, from Engel's article of 1849 down to the death of Hitler, everyone who advocated genocide called himself a socialist, and no exception has been found."

My guess is that Ms Herland is the kind of social scientist who is satisfied to leave the managerial state apparatus intact and basically unchallenged. These people often argue in favour of some remedy for bad leadership, in this case infuse the enigmatic "good nationalist" state with some sound moral principles embodied by suitable leaders. It's like the same thing with the never ending story about foreign aid, which goes like "yes, we admit it didn't work, but that was bad foreign aid. We advocate "good" foreign aid".

You New said...

Hi Sag!

Thank you very much for your clarification. I agree with your statements entirely although I think your thoughts are incomplete. I am on board with Austrian economics and we have the same essential beliefs here.

Again,you are talking about greed on one level, I am talking about greed on two levels--healthy and unhealthy. To you it doesn't seem that a dangerous second level of greed could possibly exist, except in the minds of religious moralists, perhaps in my mind.

Which makes me a deluded moralist, or maybe I'm talking about something that exists, something you have yet to appreciate. Interesting.

My theory of a greed epidemic does not need to exclude any of what you have said and can function along with your thesis on the usefulness of human drives, like a healthy level of "greed".

Plagues have killed tens of millions of people. Is it so strange to entertain a theory of a psychological pandemic? How many people are on psych drugs? Into Lady Gaga? I think I am more like Darwin, open to experiment, here.

Anyway, I would prefer if you would not to box me in with fanatics who can only simplistically talk morality, I am not one of them. Even morality can be a selfish twisting of morality--(ha, ha) look at the politically correct world today and you don't have to look for the dying Calvinists to the masses clamouring for it, do you Sag? I do agree that, when you hear moralizing, watch out, someone is on the take!

Again, Sag. thanks for the excellent response....and RonaldB, if you are there, thanks to you too.

Martin K said...

A question: Did mrs. Nabintu-Herland herself OK you printing this? Its being debated in Norway, many think you have stolen the text.

Egghead said...

Sagunto: Those would be "So MANY well intended falsehoods in just one single passage." I enjoyed reading your and the others comments. :)

I believe that the relevant word here is self-interest.

It is understandable and acceptable for people to have self-interest - which is measurably distinct from greed.

Self-interest is one person voting and perhaps donating a modest sum to a political party or cause.

Greed is one person (George Soros) seeking to buy, control, and then overthrow the entire 'democratic' political process - including all three branches of governance (executive, legislative, and judicial).

Jolie Rouge said...

Sagunto,

"They can't force someone to work for them."

Yes they can force people to work for them at subsistence level or below - slavery. In a free market you can not have wishful thinking as the counter to the corruption and subvertion that would destroy the true nature of that free market. Why bother attempting the civilizing of the free market?

Sagunto said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lidskjalf said...

A meaningful starting point for the article:
the Italian sociologist Vilfredo Pareto distinguished between two kinds of collective self-interest pursued by any community: the utility of a community (the value of survival) and the benefit to a community (wellness). Community and egalitarian relationships, such as solidarity, belonging, equality defines our western values.European states prioritized liberal-benefit thinking, that is their own benefit rather than common utilitarian values.Ethnic minorities have not felt bound by any such considerations., just because of of clan society and a strong identity between them An united Europe with a strong identity would not have anything to fear, but an egocentric and hedonistic culture will not be a challenge to Islam. Hanne Nabintu Herland refers to the Christian humanist tradition that incorporates the values ​​of duty, solidarity, the settlement of class differences, the distribution of income, and that these values ​​have roots in western traditional thinking .. This is entirely consistent with institutionalized values such as egalitarianisme natural individual rights and tolerance.

Sagunto said...

You New -

"Thank you very much for your clarification. I agree with your statements entirely although I think your thoughts are incomplete."

Well, you're right, you know. I guess that is partly because I still have many things to learn (from exchanging views with you guys, much to my own enjoyment) and also in part because I started by limiting myself to refuting the specific point made by Ms Herland. As a small aside I must confess that I'm slightly at a loss when you say that I box you with the fanatics. If that appears from my comments, rest assured that such was not my intention, at all. Let's attribute that to the fact that ehm.. I am still learning to express my thoughts in proper English ;-)

The shortest possible recap for a non-native speaker like myself [ this wordiness, I hate it! ] would go something like this:

If it hadn't been for the firmly entrenched welfare state apparatus (also in the "hearts and minds" of many people), we wouldn't be having this discussion about moral categories like "greed", or at least conduct them in a totally different frame of reference. In a free market, personal greed is offset by the fear of personal losses, and in many ways it is channelled to work for the benefit of all.

But enter the state, be it the "good nationalist" state that Ms Herland would cheer on, and enter central banking, enter the manipulation of interest rates, monetary inflation, enter "political entrepreneurs" (instead of free market entrepreneurs), and last but not least, enter the forced expropriation of us, the people, trough taxes (mind: monetary inflation is also a tax and our money is our property).
In my view, the interference of the state, funded by tax extortion and artificial money, is the mechanism that frees the predatory forces within any society. There's the same basic greed, but now in the form that you (and I) would consider to be very unhealthy, for the fact that it is put in service of a system of servility to "the common good".
Start looting the general public (from around, say, 1913 in the US) and place some big bags of cash in front of the privileged groups and clientèle. Then it shouldn't surprise anyone that people are thus encouraged to try and use government to live at the expense of their fellow men, exactly the way Bastiat described it. This is obviously no news to you, since you're on the Austrian team, but I repeat it anyway, for the interested reader.

So anyway, here's the kind of nefarious greed that is conspicuously absent from the ruminations of authors like Ms Herland, who (but this is mere inference on my part) are actually all about supporting the welfare state system, the "good" welfare state, that is. They just want some tinkering and fixing by our wise and well-meaning overlords elect, and finish it off with a heady dose of "good nationalism".

How such statist cheerleading can co-exist with a reference to private property rights in the very same article is really beyond me.

Kind regs from Amsterdam,
Sag

Sagunto said...

Egghead -

"Those would be "So MANY well intended falsehoods in just one single passage."

Many thanks, Eggy! ;-)

And yes, self-interest is key, but also the fact that free market philosophy has profound moral implications, not merely beneficial economic effects. All too often I witness how free market defenders leave the moral stage to all sorts of, well.. I don't know whats (I call them left- and right-wing, welfare state "progressivists" and supporters of the managerial state, for want of a better description).

Take care,
Sag

scherado said...

H. N. Herland said: But why have Europeans generally been so preoccupied with foreign religions and other cultures while so little is said about Europe’s own cultural values?

My current belief is that the native populations of Europe suffer from several types of self-loathing, in magnitudes great and small, for the simple (plain to see) fact that they bear full responsibility for wars we call World War One and World War Two.

Imagine that you are wandering the forests of Poland in June 1945 or heading off to your first year at University in 1949: would you not think that the entirety of civilization had nearly set itself back two centuries?; that there is something terribly wrong with Europe and Western Civilization?

Yes, you would.

No self-loather can save himself or herself.

Sagunto said...

Hi Lidskjalf -

You summarise the work of Pareto in a way that sounds pretty much like a plea for some State-driven return to the tribe (albeit in a modern version), which is totally alien from traditional values and loyalties. In fact, state-sponsored "nationalism" really is all that's left for self-proclaimed liberators from old "superstitions" and tradition. After so-called reform, enlightenment and mass-modernization, you have an aggregate of deracinated, modern individuals held together - if we are to follow the lead of Ms Herland c.s. - by some quasi-historical narrative (Weberian values supposedly at the base of capitalism) and an ideology of collective "belonging" embodied by the state. To me, this is too close to the modern Leviathan for comfort: very little intermediary, decentralized power and affiliation apart from the state, just the morally upright, individual members bound by a shared allegiance to the super-tribe, the monopolistic "equalizer" and benevolent source of all power, which is the Nation, the modern unitary state.
Call it "cultural calvinism", secular protestantism, or whatever, but to me it looks eerily like something envisioned by John Stuart Mill, when he wrote about the "Religion of Humanity".

What I find both interesting and also somewhat disconcerting, is that the primus inter pares among Western values - yes, freedom - doesn't appear at all on your summary list of foundational principles, defined in egalitarian terms.
The apparent collectivism reminds one of sentiments like "sharing the loot", found among members of a tribe, instead of a true civil society based on freedom and the generation of genuine wealth for all. And by the way, do you realize that this friendly sounding "distribution of income" de facto means the seizure of our property by the state, which means aggression against supposedly free people? What, I ask you, is solidarity if it is enforced by the state? Solidarity is something that all of us admire, but genuine solidarity is free and not coercive, or it's no solidarity at all, at least that's my opinion.

In sum, I have to say that I marvel at the ease with which you, like Ms Herland, can reconcile this state-sponsored "equality" with individual natural rights. In fact, I think it is "rich".

Kind regs from Amsterdam,
Sag

Jolie Rouge said...

Sagunto,

In every human association and transaction your argument ends with the accusation of welfare state, a charge based soley on the evidence of human interaction, as if all human interactions breach some stone law of individualism.

Lidskjalf said...

Marrtin K:
How and why the article to Herland has been included in Gates of Vienna is not an issue in Norway.I will also assume that posting an article from a well known historian on a website, do not conflict with legal publishing.One need not strictly an authorization from the author of the text to spread articles over internet.As always apply rules for citing sources, ie, to always provide the author by some form of literary reference, to better protect his/her publisher rights.

Egghead said...

Sagunto: "All too often I witness how free market defenders leave the moral stage to all sorts of, well.. I don't know whats (I call them left- and right-wing, welfare state "progressivists" and supporters of the managerial state, for want of a better description)."

I listen to American Family Radio for 20 minutes a day to and from my child's school.

One of the main commentators has started to hammer the point that socialism violates the Christian Commandment that "Thou shall not covet."

Additionally, I would add that socialism violates the Christian Commandment that "Thou shall not steal."

You can dress up Marxism (which leads to fascism, socialism and communism) any way that you want, and 'welfare' is still stealing.

The founding fathers were educated in the faults of human governance - having read about the past and lived through their present. The founding fathers omitted an income tax in the U.S. Constitution.

If it is wrong for YOU to walk up to your neighbor with a gun and steal his money, then it is also wrong for YOU to 'authorize' your representative government to hire a mercenary to walk up to your neighbor with a gun and steal his money - even for the greater good (welfare) - as YOU perceive it.

The problem is that thievery has been elevated to the status of nobility. The elite con artists have convinced common people that common people 'need' to steal for the greater good (!) to obtain desired goods and services. The elite con artists also convinced common people that common people will be the primary beneficiaries - noble thieves, if you will - rather than the primary victims - foolish greedy dupes, if you will - of elite people's thievery on their behalf.

Every time that ('I pay for my own clothes!') Michelle Obama 'takes' a multimillion dollar trip from the American taxpayers, we see that elite con artists are to be the 'real' beneficiaries of the thievery of Marxism. As with any good con artist, first the con artist steals your morals through an appeal to your greed, and then the con artist steals your money. Con artists have ZERO guilt about the long con because con artists know that the con relies on the mark's innate greed - as well as gullibility.

Con artists sincerely believe that the mark would BE the con artist given the chance. Thus, contrary to Anne Frank's opinion that 'All people are fundamentally good,' con artists have the opinion of 'It's him or me.' Hence, you get George Soros saying that if he did not perform the [EVIL] actions that he does, then someone else would. Thus is the adult moral concept of free will immolated on the teenage moral mentality altar of 'Everyone is doing it, Mom.'

Note that Soros was a young teen when he sold out his fellow Jews in WWII. A defining moment for him - and modern humanity that suffers from the result of the [EVIL] actions of his stagnated mental and moral development.

Anne Frank died, and George Soros lived. The world is the worse for that trade - as we literally race towards the enslavement advocated by Barak Obama senior ('I think it's ok for the state to take 100% of a person's money as long as the state offers 'benefits'.') - and, quite possibly, World War III as initiated by the Islamic ummah invigorated by Western payments for oil and emboldened by Western stupidity (absolutely consciously decided ignorance) about Islam.

Baron Bodissey said...

Martin K --

Yes, I had permission to post this essay (specifically at Gates of Vienna) from the author herself, as expressed in a personal email.

Martin K said...

Baron: Thank you for answering.

Sagunto said...

Egghead, You New, RonaldB, and others -

Both in the "deconstitutionalized" US and its mirror image, the EU, freedom is absent in both the economy and, subsequently, society at large.

While being in fact ruled by comparable cliques of progressivist nomenklatura*, there's some difference to be discerned as to the nature of the people's "consent" for this sordid state of affairs. The distinction might be expressed by using the term welfare state for European nations, while reserving the term "managerial state" for the US.

The welfare state needs some underlying tribal mentality, so a smaller country, with a familiar ethnic outlook. Note that socialism as a genuine popular force for statehood thrives among ethnically homogeneous people. Under such conditions state-sponsored "solidarity" can be enforced for the sake of the common good, i.e. the national tribe.

The managerial state (of America) is way too big and "diverse" to appeal to some tribal national instinct. At this point, some attention must be paid to the paradoxical way in which political correctness seeks to suppress any dissent from the collectivist line that "a diverse people are one people". But anyway, what can be done? The answer gravitates towards either permanent war or some grandiose outside threat, like "Global Warming", preferably both. These pressures create leverage for the "experts" called upon to manage society in a quasi-scientific manner.

In the wake of the US' cultural dominance after WW-2, European nations have been introduced to one nefarious export product from across the Atlantic, which is political correctness and the cult of "Diversity". Perhaps the kind of articles Ms Herland c.s. produce can be placed in this greater perspective, i.e. as a "natural" reaction to this foreign diversity cult that is deemed unnecessary as a foundation for the quasi-tribal unitary state.

Thnx to all for the interesting exchange.

Kind regs from Amsterdam,
Sag.

* progressivists include both left- and right-wing establishment politicians and public administrators.

Lidskjalf said...

Sagunto

My comment was abstract and somewhat unprecise.I will here complete my reasoning.

One of the problems are to do with the welfare . Elaborate welfare systems of the kind that European economies, organized around the last sixty years, tend not to occur in multi-ethnic society. The current immigration wave will be a test of whether the multi-ethnic society can maintain them. There are indications that they can not. Harvard economists Alberto Alesina and Edward Glaser has shown that about half of Americans' dislike of socialism of the European brand can be explained by America's ethnic differences. (The other half is about political institutions.) This view receives strong support in a recent work by Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam, who has found that people who live in conditions where there are ethnic differences "closing in". They rely less on their neighbors, and are less likely to use their money in public or social affairs. The list of recent social science studies that come to the same conclusion, as long as an arm.

The welfare states tend to only occur under conditions of ethnic homogeneity, is a new version of a very old problem. "A state can not be founded with a random group of people or in a random period of time," wrote Aristotle. "Most states that have conceded people of other descent, either at the time they were founded or later, has been plagued by rebellion." What Aristotle calls rebellion, we would in today's more relativistic age call dissent. Immigrants have the same prejudices as the natives. They have what we would call "other ways of doing things." It can make them valuable in a modern competitive society. But welfare is supposed to be a refuge from the modern competitive society. There is a separate world within the society in which dissent, oddity and keeping in with the not devalued, something any American who remembers the commotion in the 1980s about "welfarebarons who bought vodka with their food coupons.