Monday, January 18, 2016

Community College Plans Month of Whiteness Shaming

As our colleges and universities continue the free fall down the path of institutionalized ignorance, administrators fill the vacuum with the phantasm of social equality.

As a case in point, Portland Community College has announced that it will sponsor an event this April designated as Whiteness History Month to explore how the "construct of whiteness" creates racial inequality (source).

According to the school website, the month-long event will be "an effort to change our campus climate" by "[challenging] the master narrative of race and racism through an exploration of the social construction of whiteness." Defining their terms, the website explains that “whiteness ‘does not simply refer to skin color[,] but [to] an ideology based on beliefs, values, behaviors, habits, and attitudes, which result in the unequal distribution of power and privilege based on skin color.’”

Here, in a nutshell, is a clear indication of how schools have failed to educate the rising generation of students and how it has turned them into brain-dead products of a zombie apocalypse. Schools no longer teach students how to think but only teach what to think.

The progressive terminology, borrowed from sociology, is almost painful to contemplate. For example, notice the circular reasoning in the definition of "whiteness." The definition says that "whiteness" doesn't refer to skin color...but is based on skin color.

Blaming the perception of skin color as a "social construct," the progressives who planned this event go on to list a whole series of other "social constructs" which are poorly defined and impossible to pin down.

Consider the terms: "campus climate, ideology, beliefs, values, behaviors, habits, attitudes, unequal distribution, and privilege." The core of progressive dogma relies on such terms to indicate some vague and undefined dissatisfaction with the status quo. Then progressive dogma points to equally vague terms as a "solution" to the dissatisfaction it created.

This particular community college denies the very philosophy of liberalism that allows it to exist in favor of adopting a dangerous ideology based on debasement, imprecise terminology, and race warfare in order to produce...what?

As a best guess, I can only assume that the college wishes to promote some nebulous Utopian ideal. Would such an ideal embrace "equal distribution" and "lack of privilege?" It's impossible to say, exactly, since progressive goals change on a daily basis.

The Portland school is a brilliant example of such dogmas. By promoting a month-long event based on telling white people how miserable they should feel because of their "whiteness," the school creates a vague and unthinking rejection of the very philosophy that created liberalism.

This is anti-liberalism. It rejects individualism in favor of promoting groups over individuals. It rejects a philosophy of government based on the power of the people. It rejects the philosophy which destroyed slavery as an institution. It rejects the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence.

In its place, it creates a vague ideal which is ill equipped to handle the realities of the world and the problems of human nature. It replaces thinking with ignorance. It ignores the great moral questions by replacing good and evil with "values." It creates a vague and unsettling disquiet which can never be satisfied.

And it is a shame that this dogma has become the foundation of modern education.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Presidential Nominee Debates and American Values

The candidates from both Democrat and Republican debates often referred to "American values," mostly in the negative, as in, "Those are not our American values."

The idea of values is a slippery one, originating from old, worn out sociological ideas from Germans like Friedrich Nietzsche, Max Weber, and Sigmund Freud. The terms passed into everyday use in the universities, then into common parlance. Terms such as "value" or "value judgment" left the narrow use within the academic world and became general, nebulous ideas, difficult to pin down. Within my lifetime, the concept of values replaced long-held ideas of good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice.

Modern progressives thrive on undefined terms such as values, preferring to use value relativism in order to create the illusion of a better world. Of course, whenever a new idea springs up among the progressives, it too becomes a value. Because the term is so broad and undefined, trying to pin down progressive values is like trying to shoot a target that keeps moving up and back, and side to side.

Unfortunately, our schools now teach values, instead of moral and ethical standards. Schools reject teaching history and philosophy, as those disciplines help people learn how to think for themselves and show that there is value in struggling to choose good over evil. Modern education rejects any discussions of good and evil, right and wrong, preferring instead to measure student success against the moving target of relative values.

Schools refuse to teach students how to think for themselves, once the backbone of higher education. This is because thinking beyond the mutable progressive system of values is dangerous. Such education has become a Catch 22: We must not question our American values because that is not our American value!

The cure is to come to a real understanding of the intellectual history that created the self-inflated system of values. Knowledge of this history is required in order to understand ourselves and to provide ourselves with real alternatives.

Whenever a progressive argues, red-faced and spewing the most vile invective against anyone who disagrees, remember that progressives have been indoctrinated to avoid thinking at all costs in order to support their values.

It's a shame that they will never be able to understand any alternatives to the doctrines they've been fed. They've lost the ability to choose good over evil, preferring instead to mire themselves in a world of vapor and illusion.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Progressives Are the New Barbarians - Hilaire Belloc

“The Barbarian hopes — and that is the mark of him — that he can have his cake and eat it, too.  He will consume what civilization has slowly produced after generations of selection and effort, but he will not be at pains to replace such goods, nor indeed has he a comprehension of the virtue that has brought them into being.  Discipline seems to him irrational, on which account he is ever marveling that civilization should have offended him with priests and soldiers. . . .  In a word, the Barbarian is discoverable everywhere in this, that he cannot make: that he can befog and destroy but that he cannot sustain; and of every Barbarian in the decline or peril of every civilization exactly that has been true.

“We sit by and watch the Barbarian.  We tolerate him in the long stretches of peace; we are not afraid.  We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creed refreshes us; we laugh.  But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there are no smiles.”

--Hilaire Belloc, Anglo-French writer, historian, and parliamentarian

Just as the Roman Republic and the empire that came after it, we are a civilization in decline. Rome's enemies picked at the edges until Rome collapsed under its own weight. Our barbarians, however, are the enemy within, rather than the enemy without.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

REPOST: James Madison, the Federalist Papers, Factions, and the Modern-day Tyranny of the Left

The Federalist Papers were a series of newspaper articles that James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay wrote. These three wrote the Federalist Papers to explain to the American people the principles of the constitutional government and to convince the states to ratify the new US Constitution. In these articles, the theories behind the US Republic were declared, explained, and argued. The Federalist Papers remain a solid foundational document explaining what kind of government the US Constitution was supposed to create and the dangers of deviating from the Constitution.

Federalist #10 talks about factions - special interests or lobbies in modern parlance. The early founders of the United States were concerned with the problems of unrestrained, direct democracy. They had read about the concept of direct democracy from the Classical Greek texts and understood its inherent problems. For example, the founders recognized problems with majority rule. In a majority rule system, the majority could gang up against the minority and deny the minority the very rights that government was instituted to protect. 

Likewise, when minorities gain too much control, they can subvert the founding principles to force unwanted laws on the majority. There is a hidden danger in factions.

According to Madison:
By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community. (Federalist #10)
Most of my university students miss the point when I question them about Madison's statement. They usually explain this passage indicating something about majority rule or the tyranny of the majority (which phrase they learned from their liberalized teachers who also never read Plato's Republic). This is not, however, what Madison said. Note that a faction can be a majority of the people or a minority. The idea is that either can work to remove the rights of others, against the aggregate interests of the community.

According to Madison, "there are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects." (Federalist #10)

The effects of factions are controlled, as Madison argues, through the Republic - the triad system of checks and balances outlined in the Constitution, and through limited government. The representatives we elect are supposed to reduce the effects of factions precisely because they are to represent the self-interests of their constituents. Congress is supposed to move slowly, deliberately, forming a consensus and passing laws only when they are found to benefit the interests of all of the citizens of the United States. According to Madison, only in this way can Congress pass laws to protect the rights of all of the citizens in the US.

Yet the system has changed. The federal government has defenestrated Madison's ideals of controlling factions in favor of a more responsive federal government (which is an oxymoron, by the way).

We can explain the changes in Madison's model by tracing the ideals of modern liberalism. Modern liberalism finds the methods of the old Republic too slow and too antiquated to provide the immediacy of relief from perceived problems or wrongs. The problem stems from the idea that it is government's job to provide all sorts of relief to these perceived problems or wrongs.

Is the economy too sluggish? The federal government needs to immediately pass spending bills to spark the economy. Katrina wiped out New Orleans? The federal government needs to immediately step in and fix it. Toilets using too much water? The federal government needs to mandate smaller tank sizes. Coffee spills scald someone? The federal government needs to protect consumers.

There ought to be a law!

And on and on and on.

There are myriads of books written about the rise of modern liberalism and the changes it has affected on government. What's important to note is that modern liberalism has convinced Americans that these examples are now all natural roles of the federal government. We don't want anyone left out do we? We don't want more people hurt do we? We need protection and equality and we need it now!

Here we are faced with a dilemma. We now have a government in the US which increasingly intrudes into the private lives of its citizens. Madison recognized this problem and argued against it. In his Federalist #10, he notes that government can also reduce factions by removing its causes.
There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests. (Federalist #10)
Having found the Republic too slow to act or not progressive enough in its actions, modern liberalism seeks to remove the causes of factions instead of controlling its effects. Madison identified two methods of removing the causes of factions, both of which are inimical to the foundational principles of the US government.

Take your pick, destroying liberty or giving the same opinions, modern liberals use both methods to control the cause of factions. A few examples will suffice to illustrate both methods.

Destroying Liberty:
  • The Patriot Act
  • Wiretapping and/or monitoring phone calls and internet
  • Control of education - No Child Left Behind
  • Huge restrictions on industry production
  • Health insurance and industry regulation
  • Excessive taxation
  • Taxing the rich because being rich is unfair
  • Sin taxes to pay for SCHIP - taxing the poorest people in the US to supply medical benefits to children
  • Regulating industries, including taking over the management of General Motors
  • Federal gun laws in violation of the 2nd Amendment
  • Federal anti-religious laws in violation of the 1st Amendment
  • Refusing to uphold and defend laws passed by Congress
  • Killing American citizens without due process
  • Handing guns over to Mexican drug lords
  • Covering up the mistakes made in Benghazi with lies
And on and on and on.

The federal government certainly has its fingers touching the lives of all Americans. Most of this list relates to federal actions within only the last 15 years. Are some of these things good things? Yes, but that's not the point. The point is that with each new federal overreach, our liberties are destroyed by degrees.

Same Opinions
This is the more insidious of the two principles trying to remove the causes of factions. Within my lifetime, we've come up with the phrase "politically correct." Some ideas and some words cannot be spoken or written because they are not politically correct. Over the years, the list has grown to considerable size. At the heart is the idea that if we control language, we also control thoughts.

Here's an example. We've recently seen the excoriation of Donald Sterling, the owner of the LA Clippers basketball team. Yes, the man said inappropriate things, but his utter annihilation by the mainstream media, as well as the backlash from the NBA show a dangerous abuse of power associated with political correctness.

When Brendan Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla was forced to resign from the company because of campaign contributions he made six years ago to support California's Proposition 8. Here's a clear-cut case of the minority, namely gay rights activists, using political correctness to attempt to force the same opinions about homosexuality as they hold.

A different kind of example stems from the idea of "bipartisanship." The government and news media constantly harp on the idea of creating bipartisanship in the government. Yet the founders of our government recognized that each member of government would act in his own self interest. Hence, the founders created two chambers in Congress and a checks and balances system.

Bipartisanship is dangerous to good government in our Republic. Why? Because when government consists of one mind, one party, or one person rule, tyranny results. Personally, I'd like to see a great deal more partisanship in government.

We now live in a society where we are encouraged through politically correct values or through legislation to form and keep the same opinions as everyone else. Same sex marriage? Of course gay people should be married. Homosexual sex? Nothing wrong with that. Religious convictions? Those are outdated and unnecessary. Ban assault weapons? What possible use are those?

And on and on and on.

The US government was set up to protect the rights of all its citizens and to protect its citizens from government control. Madison argued against removing the causes of factions precisely because those controls take away liberty. Yet, despite the intent and beginnings of the federal government based on Madison's ideals, the US government continues to take power and worse, Americans continue handing power to the government.

When we cross the line into tyranny, it will be too late. We must act to stop the trend of government destroying our liberty and by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Shopping Mall Generation or the One Thing I Learned in Graduate School

I only learned one important thing from the chairman of my dissertation committee. Well, OK, two. But learning that reading Nietzsche is the answer to insomnia is something I could have learned on my own.

No, the one true thing I learned from my Marxist, Netherland-born, mostly incomprehensible professor was this quote:

"Our forefathers built temples. Our fathers built universities. We build shopping malls."

Today's society is based on years of rejecting the foundations of Western culture, rejecting simple truths about society, rejecting the values of our fathers, rejecting our God, rejecting even the most rudimentary spiritual values.

We live in a society where everything is questioned before we learn what we should question.

We live in a society where the greatest truths are based on a culture whose greatest contribution to the world is the shopping mall.

We live in a society where children learn that there is no greater moral authority than themselves, then we shake our heads in wonder as our children grow to be petulant, ignorant, and selfish.

The solution is easy. We must once again become a society of deep spiritual values. We must uphold the family and eschew the authority of elites. We must find God, if for no other reason than to have a base from which we can judge what is really good and what is really evil.

To do any less will condemn us to be shallow shoppers of soundbites and self-centered students in search of ever higher forms of ignorance.