Culture, politics, science, philosophy.
General manifesto *****
The deep Crisis of the West
Desecrated by the modern cult of ugliness
25.12.2009. Those who hate Western Civilization also hate its people, as well as its architecture, its music, and its other forms of art. Paradoxically, this disdain for the just mentioned expressions of Western art and culture is often expressed by people of European descent. In other words, this modern cult of ugliness, spreading from within our own societies, is a sign of disillusionment, decadence, and - ultimately - a form of self hatred. Please read Roger Scruton's reflections on the topic in The Daily Mail.
Hail from 'Aryan support groups'
23.12.2009. Please read Takuan Seiyo's Christmas greetings at The Brussels Journal, and make sure you do not miss those excerpts from Händel's Messiah.
Replacing European populations by others
23.12.2009. There are conspiracy theories that hold that Europe’s political establishment is deliberately attempting to replace the continent’s population by an entirely different one. Though conspiracy theories are rarely true, Europe’s political establishment is making it extremely hard for the sceptics to refute them, writes Paul Belien in The Brussels Journal.
Another great article by Scruton
20.12.2009. Excerpts from an article by Roger Scruton in The American Spectator:
Conservatives recognize that social order is hard to achieve and easy to destroy, that it is held in place by discipline and sacrifice, and that the indulgence of criminality and vice is not an act of kindness but an injustice for which all of us will pay. Conservatives therefore maintain severe and -- to many people -- unattractive attitudes. They favor retributive punishment in the criminal law; they uphold traditional marriage and the sacrifices that it requires; they believe in discipline in schools and the value of hard work and military service. They believe in the family and think that the father is an essential part in it. They see welfare provisions as necessary, but also as a potential threat to genuine charity, and a way both of rewarding antisocial conduct and creating a culture of dependency. They value the hard-won legal and constitutional inheritance of their country and believe that immigrants must also value it if they are to be allowed to settle here. Conservatives do not think that war is caused by military strength, but on the contrary by military weakness, of a kind that tempts adventurers and tyrants. And a properly ordered society must be prepared to fight wars -- even wars in foreign parts -- if it is to enjoy a lasting peace in its homeland. In short conservatives are a hard and unfriendly bunch who, in the world in which we live, must steel themselves to be reviled and despised by all people who make compassion into the cornerstone of the moral life.
Liberals are of course very different. They see criminals as victims of social hierarchy and unequal power, people who should be cured by kindness and not threatened with punishment. They wish all privileges to be shared by everyone, the privileges of marriage included. And if marriage can be reformed so as to remove the cost of it, so much the better. Children should be allowed to play and express their love of life; the last thing they need is discipline. Learning comes -- didn't Dewey prove as much? -- from self-expression; and as for sex education, which gives the heebie-jeebies to social conservatives, no better way has ever been found of liberating children from the grip of the family and teaching them to enjoy their bodily rights. Immigrants are just migrants, victims of economic necessity, and if they are forced to come here illegally that only increases their claim on our compassion. Welfare provisions are not rewards to those who receive them, but costs to those who give -- something that we owe to those less fortunate than ourselves. As for the legal and constitutional inheritance of the country, this is certainly to be respected -- but it must "adapt" to new situations, so as to extend its protection to the new victim class. Wars are caused by military strength, by "boys with their toys," who cannot resist the desire to flex their muscles, once they have acquired them. The way to peace is to get rid of the weapons, to reduce the army, and to educate children in the ways of soft power. In the world in which we live liberals are self-evidently lovable -- emphasizing in all their words and gestures that, unlike the social conservatives, they are in every issue on the side of those who need protecting, and against the hierarchies that oppress them.
Those two portraits are familiar to everyone, [...]
Continue reading at The American Spectator.
Climate change emails row deepens
16.12.2009. ‘Human-caused climate change is real, and I’m a strong advocate for action,’ he said. ‘But I’m also a strong advocate for integrity in science.’ Professor Roger Pielke’s verdict on the scandal is damning. ‘These emails open up the possibility that big scientific questions we’ve regarded as settled may need another look. They reveal that some of these scientists saw themselves not as neutral investigators but as warriors engaged in battle with the so-called sceptics. They have lost a lot of credibility and as far as their being leading spokespeople on this issue of huge public importance, there is no going back.’ Read the whole article in The Daily Mail.
His speech in Oslo
12.12.2009. Excerpts from Obama's Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo:
I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.
We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations - acting individually or in concert - will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.
I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago: "Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: It merely creates new and more complicated ones." As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life's work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak, nothing passive, nothing naive in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.
But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaida's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism - it is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.
I raise this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter the cause. At times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world's sole military superpower.
Yet the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions - not just treaties and declarations - that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest - because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other people's children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.
So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another - that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier's courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause and to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.
So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly irreconcilable truths - that war is sometimes necessary, and war is at some level an expression of human feelings. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. "Let us focus, " he said, "on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions."
I understand why war is not popular. But I also know this: The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice.
Read the entire speech e.g. at Document or in LA Times.
HonestThinking comments: I certainly have my doubts about Obama and his administration, but his Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo contains some positive surprises. In particular, some of the members of the Norwegian, and European, political elite who have hailed Obama as their new Messiah, probably feel some well-deserved embarrassment by the message of his speech.
Here's a brief comment from Daniel Pipes writing for National Review:
Obama's Nobel "lecture" offers critics the usual cornucopia of opportunities for criticism but I shall focus on just two statements:
"I am the Commander-in-Chief of a nation in the midst of two wars." And here I thought there were three wars. Obama's two are Iraq and Afghanistan; missing is what George W. Bush termed the "war on terror" and I call the "war on radical Islam." Obama apparently reduces that third one to Al-Qaeda and counts it as just part of the Afghan war. His mistake has real consequences; long after American troops have left Iraq and Afghanistan, Islamists will be attacking and subverting us. If we don't see their efforts as a war, we lose.
"Religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam." Here, Obama follows his predecessor in presenting himself as an interpreter of Islam. I ridiculed "Imam Bush" for telling Muslims about true Islam and its distortion, and now I must ridicule "Sheikh Obama" for the same. He's a politician, not a theologian. He's now a Christian, not a Muslim. He should steer completely clear from the topic of who are good or bad Muslims.
The Minaret Moment
09.12.2009. The Swiss are right to worry. And all of Europe has to worry as well, thanks to the folly of its leaders — now, and for many years to come, writes Ross Douthat in an op-ed in The New York Times.
Defends Switzerland minaret ban
09.12.2009. Nicolas Sarkozy today voiced sympathy for Switzerland's controversial decision to ban the building of Muslim minarets, calling on religious practitioners to avoid "ostentation" and "provocation" for fear of upsetting others, according to The Guardian.
A New Human Rights Event in the Middle of the Oslo Peace Celebration
05.12.2009. Press release from a group of professors and students at the University of Oslo:
On the 9th of December, Norwegian and international students living in Oslo will vote for the “Dictator of the Year” in a creative ceremony staged at the University Square. The Dictator of The Year award will go to the worst living despot on earth for his outstanding lifetime achievement as a violator of human rights.
Kim Jong-il, Robert Mugabe, Tan Schwe and Ali Khamenei are among the eleven candidates on the students’ list, compiled on the basis of advice from human rights experts. This week thousands of students are voting—via facebook and directly at University institutions—for an evil champion of genocide, torture and oppression.
“The idea behind the prize is to remind the world about the ongoing genocide and torture that affects millions of people whose souls are broken on a daily basis in places that are living hell,” says the initiator of the project, Nina Witoszek, a cultural historian at Center for Development and the Environment. She insists that the Dictator of the Year is purely a human rights event and not intended to mock the Nobel Prize. Apart from drawing attention to the fact that thousands of authoritarian rulers get away with human rights abuses, the prize is to reduce the complacency in Norway—a country renowned for its engagement in peace and human rights issues. While the Peace Prize goes to the best peace-maker, the Dictator Prize goes to the worst tyrant.
The Dictator of the Year ceremony is designed as a theatrical street event which is comic yet “bloody serious”, resorting to solemn ritual, slapstick, music and light effects. The Norwegian champion of interactive rap, Nils med Skills, and one of the most exciting Norwegian-American multimedia directors, David Chocron, are among the performers.
Time and place: Wednesday 9 December, 14.00 (2pm), Universitetsplassen, downtown Oslo. Contact information:
- Nina Witoszek, SUM, UiO, nina.witoszek (at) sum.uio.no
- Mahmood Amiry Moghaddam, UiO, mirymoghaddam (at) gmail.com
- Jens Bjelland Grønvold, student representative, jbg (at) online.no tel 99365798
- Ada Nissen, student representative: a.e.nissen (at) sum.uio.no, tel. 48123428
- Janne Seime Siler (SUM) janness (at) sum.uio.no
Reviewed by Dr. Andrew Bostom.
02.12.2009. Dr. Andrew Bostom, the author of the well-researched books The Legacy of Jihad and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, has reviewed Fjordman's book Defeating Eurabia, which is now available in a cheaper printed version:
Fjordman’s collection of short works, 'Defeating Eurabia' marks his emergence as a uniquely informed European essayist. Remarkably curious and erudite, the author’s lucid essays are ultimately a testament to that rarest and most desperately needed attribute in our era—intellectual honesty. An unapologetic defender of the Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian values of Western civilization, and their apotheosis in Western Europe, Fjordman expresses alarm at Europe’s supine Islamization, and condemns the demonization of ordinary non-Muslim indigenous Europeans who have the 'temerity' to voice their objection to this ongoing cultural jihad. 'Defeating Eurabia' is a brilliantly argued, passionate critique of Western Europe’s contemporary utopian 'multiculturalist' governing elites—avatars of the latest fanatical European politico-religious creed—a bizarre, toxic brew of statism and unreformed, Shari’a-compliant Islam.
This review was published by The Brussels Journal earlier today, under the heading of Intellectual Honesty.
The looming crisis in human genetics - some awkward news ahead
01.12.2009. Human geneticists have reached a private crisis of conscience, and it will become public knowledge in 2010. The crisis has depressing health implications and alarming political ones. In a nutshell: the new genetics will reveal much less than hoped about how to cure disease, and much more than feared about human evolution and inequality, including genetic differences between classes, ethnicities and races. Thus begins an article by evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller in The Economist. He concludes as follows:
We will know much more when it becomes possible to do cheap “resequencing”—which is really just “sequencing” a wider variety of individuals beyond the handful analysed for the Human Genome Project. Full sequencing means analysing all 3 billion base pairs of an individual’s DNA rather than just a sample of 1m genetic variants as the DNA chips do. When sequencing costs drop within a few years below $1,000 per genome, researchers in Europe, China and India will start huge projects with vast sample sizes, sophisticated bioinformatics, diverse trait measures and detailed family structures. (American bioscience will prove too politically squeamish to fund such studies.) The missing heritability problem will surely be solved sooner or later.
The trouble is, the resequencing data will reveal much more about human evolutionary history and ethnic differences than they will about disease genes. Once enough DNA is analysed around the world, science will have a panoramic view of human genetic variation across races, ethnicities and regions. We will start reconstructing a detailed family tree that links all living humans, discovering many surprises about mis-attributed paternity and covert mating between classes, castes, regions and ethnicities.
We will also identify the many genes that create physical and mental differences across populations, and we will be able to estimate when those genes arose. Some of those differences probably occurred very recently, within recorded history. Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending argued in “The 10,000 Year Explosion” that some human groups experienced a vastly accelerated rate of evolutionary change within the past few thousand years, benefiting from the new genetic diversity created within far larger populations, and in response to the new survival, social and reproductive challenges of agriculture, cities, divisions of labour and social classes. Others did not experience these changes until the past few hundred years when they were subject to contact, colonisation and, all too often, extermination.
If the shift from GWAS to sequencing studies finds evidence of such politically awkward and morally perplexing facts, we can expect the usual range of ideological reactions, including nationalistic retro-racism from conservatives and outraged denial from blank-slate liberals. The few who really understand the genetics will gain a more enlightened, live-and-let-live recognition of the biodiversity within our extraordinary species—including a clearer view of likely comparative advantages between the world’s different economies.
Read the entire article in The Economist.
The kindness of strangers
01.12.2009. The claim that there is no such thing as race is understandable but wrong. We should recognise both the genetic reality of race and the uniquely human ability to transcend it, writes biologist Mark Pagel in an article in Prospect Magazine (large portions of which are concerned with the book Strange Fruit by Kenan Malik). Pagel later continues:
These observations collide with Kenan Malik’s insistence in his new book, Strange Fruit, that there is no such thing as race: that it is nothing more than a social construct, having little to do with biology. It is true that the history of racial thinking is mostly an odious embarrassment. And using the idea of race as an assertion of abrupt or clear genetic boundaries between peoples is wrong. All of humanity shares the same genes, and we can all happily and successfully interbreed. And, contrary to the pronouncements of some well-known public figures, there is no evidence that human groups differ in the genetic factors that cause intelligence or even cognitive abilities in general. But we mustn’t take this to mean that there are no differences among us. Variants of our shared genes do differ among human groups. If my ancestors were from the far east, I would have the epicanthal fold of skin above my eyes so distinctive of peoples from that region. Were I able to trace my ancestry to the Ethiopian highlands, it is likely that I would have a wiry frame and sinewy muscles. And were my ancestors from the Tibetan plateau, it is likely that my body shape would be good at conserving heat. I could go on; and the list could contain far more than morphological characters—just think, for example, of who carries genes to protect against malaria or to digest milk proteins as adults.
These are all genetic differences. In fact, if we measure large numbers of genetic markers from populations around the world and then use them to form clusters, we get back groupings that bear a striking resemblance to what have conventionally been recognised as the major racial groups on the planet: Europeans and western Asians, Africans, people from the Americas, eastern Asians, and Australasians.
Biologists confronted with this kind of clustered genetic variability in other species routinely refer to the groupings as variants, types, gentes, races and even sub-species. These are imprecise terms, but they capture the sense that suites of genetic characters or markers vary or cluster in similar ways among populations. Put another way, give me the suites of characters and I can predict at a better than chance level what group or region the sample comes from. There is no reason to exclude humans from this. It is what I was doing with the faces in the tranquil setting of the Great Hall.
Malik knows these facts about our genetics, but wants to insist that, unless “race” corresponds to absolute boundaries, it is a useless and damaging concept. But to deny what everybody knows and to swap the word race for something less politically charged like “group” is just an act of self-denial and certainly no more accurate than the dreaded “r” word. It is also patronising—I would like to think we are all grown up enough to accept the facts and ready ourselves for the deluge to come. I say deluge because the more we measure, the more genetic differences we find among populations; and no kinds of difference can be absolutely ruled out (to be clear, there is no reason to expect Caucasians will do well out of this). We may in future need a language, and maybe even a new ethics, to discuss the new genetics. But that is another story.
Read the entire book review in Prospect Magazine.
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