Traditional Conservatism on Parade

The Orthosphere pens the most genuinely conservative post I have read in many years: an argument in favor of natural slavery.

Conservatives, following Aristotle, get there from time to time; I think it's close to literally unthinkable for liberals, for better or worse. Liberals often have very good minds, so finding something they cannot -- or will not allow themselves to -- think is surprising. Perhaps one of them could entertain the idea over beer, in private conversation with a trusted friend. Perhaps it is just socially so unacceptable as to be unthinkable and incapable of expression even as a potential idea in a public context. 

The idea is severable from racism, and indeed should be severed from it: Aristotle was talking about his fellow Greeks, and the fictional Prime Minister the Orthosphere quotes about his fellow Britons. The issue has to do with virtue and vice, those who give themselves to one and those who give themselves to the other. It is an idea that has a long philosophical heritage, really at least as strong in Plato as in Aristotle, in Kant as in any Anglo-American thinker. 
Liberalism began by emancipating the heretics, proceeded to emancipate the serfs and slaves, turned its hand to emancipation of the women, and has most recently been striking the manacles from off the wrists of sexual deviants and thieves. [Link added for emphasis. -Grim]

There is a Pollyanna liberalism that believes emancipation must always be followed by improvement, that is full of childish self-confidence and hatred of restraint.  Like a child sulking and chaffing under the restraints of his father’s house, Pollyanna liberalism does not see that there are dreadful possibilities in freedom.  When a young man comes of age and is emancipated from the restraints of his father’s house, he soon discovers that he is free to stay up as late as he pleases, and also, if need be, to sleep on the street.  He soon realizes that he is now free to eat whatever he likes, and also, if need be, to eat nothing at all.

The dreadful possibilities of freedom become clear.

The idea is properly a significant challenge to those -- like myself -- who advocate for human freedom in the strongest terms. What should be done with those described? Plato's answer is a sort of ancient totalitarianism; Aristotle, a kind of slavery-for-their-own-good. Kant likes execution, frankly; he is high on the value of capital punishment. Probably I mostly like removing the protections that keep them from realizing the natural consequences of their actions, and letting them learn -- or letting them die.

What we've done instead is driven the idea out of the mind, which seems more and more popular as an approach. No good will come of that for certain. Hard ideas might breed hard men, but they might also engender thoughtful resolutions. Or both: we could do worse than having hard but thoughtful men, and probably will. 


These numbers are fairly small, which suggests to me that they already had a specific list in mind. The Inactive Ready Reserve is generally the fate of those whose enlistment has otherwise ended, but are contractually obligated to remain available in that way for a certain period (usually 4 years). This is not necessarily cause for alarm; it may be more to do with recruiting shortfalls leaving them lacking a few companies’ soldiery. 

Still, it looks like it is slated for Ukraine. Our continuing commitment to that conflict, which has already pushed a Democratic administration to endorse the cluster bombs they normally prefer to discuss as war crimes, has created an extended risk given that we are not formally a combatant in the war. 

An End

I would note that this is not for the base brand, but for its "Platinum" high ABV version. Still, I tend to agree with the assessment that losing COSTCO is a big deal. Whether or not any lessons will be learned remains to be seen. 

Maybe, though. This is the first big corporate property to die, rather than just to suffer a temporary setback, as a result of this foolishness. We'll see if that's enough to get their attention.

If you remember the movie, this happened right after William Wallace sacked York. Immediately after this scene, Longshanks muses that if Wallace can sack York, he can come after him, too. 

Longshanks responds with aggression; will international corporations likewise? More censorship, more government oppression of parent teacher organizations and grassroots political groups? Or will they sue for peace? 

Illusions of Moral Change

AVI asked earlier if we are experiencing an illusion of moral decline. There are arguments for and against this idea.

He presents a long comment as evidence that it might be, and evidence also that deniers are just looking at evidence they prefer to look at. I have a counterargument to that idea, which I've been making for some years. 

For some years I've argued that 'moral progress' is a mere illusion. Joseph W. and I used to fight about this, in that joyous and pleasant way in which we contested each other's ideas. My sense is that mostly people's values change by encountering other people -- ideas 'rub off,' as it were. Now people closer to you rub off on you more than people further away. It is possible to be distant in both time and space, such that people further away from you in time will look less like you than people closer. That means that we should ordinarily expect to see an illusion of progress, because (a) we take our own values to be right, and (b) the further back you go, the less people agree with us.

There are some obvious additional factors that make it easier or harder for people to 'rub off' on you: sharing a language makes it more likely at distance; belonging to a civilization makes it more likely that you will share at least some values with your ancestors, too. Still, by and large I think it's obvious that you would think of society as progressing morally simply by looking back and discovering that, the further away from yourself you go, the less people agree with your (obviously correct!) moral values.

A consequence of this reading is that the conservative and progressive moral projects are both illusions (but see the important exception at the link). Conservatives are always under the illusion that things are getting worse because there has been constant movement from a prior time they've marked out as an ideal: their childhood, the Victorian era, Arthur's Camelot, the Age of Muhammad and his Companions, the ancient Roman Republic. 

Progressives, by contrast, assume wrongly that there is moral progress in their direction just because the current age agrees with them and all prior ages disagree more and more. Thus, there is an arrow of morality that points in their direction.

Both of these views are illusions. 

However, there's an important empirical point AVI gets to and returns to as well: we can say that rates of violence, for example, goes up or down. That's not perfect; some violence is moral, and the loss of that kind of violence may worsen society. (Consider a society, like the present-day Canada, that bars violent self-defense. You may run from a criminal, but not resist him.) 

That kind of empirical consideration of morality is what I was getting at by the end of the linked post. 

I once heard a Buddhist argument that held something like: "To say that you have forgiven but not forgotten is to say that you have not forgiven." This is that argument in a developed form.

If you truly did forget, you would lose both any sense of moral progress, and any sense of moral crumbling. What would be left? Would it be enough?

There's a good debate in the comments of that post featuring many of you, dear readers. You might want to review what you thought at the time and see how it compares to what you might think now. For that matter, it might be helpful to write down what you think now first to see how it compares to what you thought then.


This interview starts off with a very aggressive question from the journalist: can you imagine suggesting to Johnny Cash at any point in his career that he couldn’t fill a venue? He came close to calling the man a liar over it. 

Waylon, though, had the best response. 

The Highwaymen had four of my very favorite performers of all time, but I never was able to enjoy them as a group. They were too self conscious of standing at the end: it was mournful, more than anything else. I like this interview for the spirit, which was not so ready to concede the end. 

Dark Times