Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Real Neo-Nazi Threat

The evil of Nazi Germany is universally condemned for the extreme depravity that it embodies. In our culture, minimization of this evil is reason enough for ostracism. In many European countries, Holocaust denial is a crime punishable by incarceration.

There is no longer a threat of Nazism in Europe thanks to the annihilation of Germany by the Allied forces. Neo-Nazis are a fringe group quickly damned by the vast majority of decent people. Neo-Nazis are so rare in America that they are a freak show, trotted out for periodic display by television magazine shows. In one recent show, ABC’s Primetime, we hear about the pre-teen singing duo, the Gaede twins, who try to make Neo-Nazism adorable. Later in the show we see that this pathetic movement has few prospects – the Neo-Nazis were chased away when they tried to bring food for-whites-only in the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The fact that racism doesn’t sell in Mississippi shows how far the country has changed.

It’s safe to damn Nazism. Elliot Spitzer, who is running for governor of New York, mentions in a TV ad how he is fighting Neo-Nazism here in New York. He has it under control. Mel Gibson, while drunk, says some stupid things and there is an immediate outcry. We nipped that one in the bud. Günter Grass finally admitted he was in the Waffen-SS and without any hesitation we have Ferguson, Hitchens, and others on the case. Quite frankly, he’s not the person who worries me today.

Nevertheless I do understand: we should never forget. As Santayana once wrote, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It is important we remember what Günter Grass remembers (from Catherine Hickley’s review in the New York Sun):

Mr. Grass remembers, at the age of 12, watching curiously as a horde of storm troopers plundered, destroyed and set fire to a synagogue. "As a member of the Hitler Youth I was a young Nazi," he says. "A believer until the end."

We find Mr. Grass “chastising his young self for not asking the right questions and for failing to doubt the Nazi regime.” Indeed, the story is one we’ve heard often: good people who stand by and do nothing or worse, allow themselves to be caught-up in the hysteria.

But have we learned anything?

As we vociferously condemn Mel Gibson and the pre-teen Neo-Nazi twins, a leader of a major Islamic nation denies the Holocaust and announces his desire to annihilate the Jewish state. While the damnation of German Nazis and neo-Nazis is emphatic and swift, damnation of Islamic Nazis is tentative, hesitant, and laced with doubt. We see little focus by the mainstream media on this Islamic Nazi. No, I take that back. We find an ill-prepared Mike Wallace unable to ask the tough questions when he interviewed the thug-in-chief. This is not the way he’d interview Mel Gibson.

As Joel C. Rosenberg, says in the above article: “Iran is the new Germany. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the new Adolf Hitler. Radical Shiite Islamic jihadists are the new Nazi storm troopers. The pursuit of the Twelfth Imam is the pursuit of the new Third Reich. CBS News had both the opportunity and responsibility to help the world truly understand this regime and the danger it poses. It failed miserably, and we are all poorer for it.”

Few writers are as resolute as Rosenberg. Iran has been waging war against Israel and America for 27 years. Iranian operatives attacked Israel from Lebanon but their connection to Iran seemed to be a fact mentioned in passing. Where is the outrage proportional to the nature of this threat? Why does Mel Gibson and the Gaede twins elicit unequivocal and emphatic condemnations while the media is “watching curiously” Ahmadinejad, the Hitler-wannabe, as if they don’t know what to think about him?

What is missing is conceptual thought. Human knowledge is inherently conceptual in nature. We have the ability to see the similarities in different cases – to see that two distinct objects may be of one kind. It is this ability that enables us to bring to bear the knowledge gained in the past to the situation today. Santayana’s statement above, if not wrong, is woefully incomplete. Memory is useless without the concept that unites past experience to present dilemmas.

While a few on the right correctly see the parallels to the 1930s, the left is replete with pathetic excuses. “Iran is not a major industrial nation like Germany. They don’t even speak German. They haven’t invaded their neighboring countries nor have they killed millions of Jews. This isn’t Europe. There is no major capitalist class in Iran. Ahmadinejad is merely being religious like Bush. This is a very different situation.” In argument after argument, I’ve heard these and similar statements. If it isn’t exactly the same, there is no commonality.

No two situations will ever be exactly the same. They are similar in kind. The ability to think conceptually involves seeing the commonality of essence amidst the plethora of incidental (or what Aristotle calls ‘accidental’) attributes. Instead of principles, we’ve adopted the philosophy of Pragmatism.

Pragmatism is an American disposition that is highly suspicious of abstract concepts and time-tested generalities. Under the banner of “what works” it becomes a seat-of-the-pants trial-and-error process-centered non-ideology ideology. It is the antithesis of building well-establish concepts which can form the foundation for the future growth in our knowledge. I discussed how Pragmatism blinded us to the nature of communism in the Red Decade. It now blinds us to the Islamic threat. We can’t see the similarity between Islamic Nazism and German Nazism. We can’t even see the similarity within Islam that defines its essential core.

Thus we stand agog looking at a repeat of history unwilling to trust out eyes, unable to hear the alarm, and adamant in refusing to use our minds … until reality hits us in the face as it did in 1939 and 2001. Perhaps this is why many people say “we need another 9/11 or worse” before we act. If that’s true, we’ll get it. Quite frankly I prefer to learn from inference rather than harsh experience. We’ve had enough experience to draw the correct conclusions many times over. Now, let’s roll.

31 Comments:

Blogger Weingarten said...

Jason concludes with "Quite frankly I prefer to learn from inference rather than harsh experience. We’ve had enough experience to draw the correct conclusions many times over. "

As Benjamin Franklin said, "Experience is the best teacher, but only fools learn that way." Perhaps America has so deteriorated that her populace will only begin to face reality after greater devastation on her soil.

8/24/06, 9:27 AM  
Blogger Farmer John said...

Post-moderns don't believe in the universe, they believe in the multiverse. That means there is no causality, and there are no correlations between what they believe to be completely independent and seemingly random hysterical events. Correlations approach zero in all cases.

Don't worry, says Big Bootey', Buckaroo Bonzai will come across the 8th Dimension to save us!

8/24/06, 10:10 AM  
Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5282548.stm

So we've got the Israelis now admitting they screwed up in Lebanon. This is consistent with their 1973 and 1982 screw ups.

Afghanistan has everyone bogged down although it's nothing like the Soviet experience.

The Bush family has screwed the pooch twice in Iraq.

Now there seems to be a problem with learning by inference here. What would our own little von Clausewitz do? Heh, Jason?

8/24/06, 12:19 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

The precondition is to stop the appeasement. Consider this article

8/24/06, 1:35 PM  
Blogger Mike N said...

I agree with weingarten. I don't think Americans will get serious until they are hit again.

8/24/06, 5:25 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

I like pragmatism, because it works as a framework within which to advocate actions. The pragmatic approach is the one with the greatest benefit to cost ratio - "what works" the best. You have correctly identified the existing working approach to government, but say that it must end and conform to your principles.

The problem with principles is that everybody has them and they are not all the same. Leftists hold to a principle that goes "peace being the ultimate good it is worth never fighting for", that in the face of all aggression all effort should be made to find peace. This leftist principled stand is justified by what you term pathetic excuses, attempts to show that the costs (cost side of pragmatic equation) of appeasement are low.

They argue pragmatically. You condemn pragmatism. It should not surprise you if the pragmatic government system (as yourself have judged exists) listens to them instead of your anti-pragmatic arguments. People who argue on the basis of principles not supported by pragmatic justification shall always lose.

The obvious solution is to form a policy that acts in agreement with your principles and (holding your nose) provide pragmatic justification for the proposed action. For instance portray why you think another attack is inevitable, its future costs and the benefits of action now to prevent it.

8/24/06, 10:13 PM  
Blogger Wolfgang said...

Jason writes, regarding Guenter Grass: "Quite frankly, he’s not the person who worries me today." Guenter Grass is the leading German intellectual of our time and he is fundamentally anti-liberal (in the sense of the classical liberalism). That IS a problem.

8/25/06, 5:46 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

That’s an excellent point, wolfgang. I was thinking in a more restricted sense. I’m not worried about Grass as a force for the revival of the specific form of collectivism known as Nazism. His ideas and cultural influence are of great concern. I’d go further; the foreign threat (from Islam) is only possible because of the internal disintegration. Our vulnerability is due more to our failure to defend ourselves, intellectually and physically, than to an inherent strength of our enemy. Thus, our leading intellectuals are the main problem.

8/25/06, 6:53 AM  
Anonymous Bilwick said...

Glad to hear that Darth Spitzer put down the Neo-Nazi threat in NYC. Phew, that was a close one.

8/25/06, 8:52 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Excellent essay, Jason.

There is no doubt about it: The West is in denial. Our leaders surely see the similarities between German Nazism and Islamic Nazism. It's just that they are scared of it; and have no idea of how to counter it. So they deny the similarities instead.

8/25/06, 9:48 AM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

Previously, I have challenged the claims of those on this blog (and on others) to provide any evidence of moderate Muslims. Today, I came across such evidence.

In Malaysia there is the case of a woman, Lina Joy, who wants the government to stop classifying her as a Muslim (WSJ 8/25/06). This would permit her to change her religion, in order to marry a Catholic man. Malaysia has been governed by civil law for fifty years, but given Islam’s rise has ceded certain powers to the Shariah courts. Consequently, when Ms. Joy moved to change her religion in civil court, eight years ago, she was required to obtain permission from the Shariah court to renounce Islam. Since that cannot be forthcoming, there are organizations that have pushed her case, comprised of civil-rights and *moderate Islamic* groups.

Currently, if she were to marry her Catholic partner, it would be considered invalid. Were she to live with him, it would be unlawful. (Her lawyers say that she is afraid to go out in public.)

I mention this to acknowledge evidence of the existence of moderate Muslims. Heretofore, whatever claims I had received were merely covers for furthering an Islamic agenda, or simply avowals of moderation that in no way impeded Shariah law.

8/25/06, 1:25 PM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

Previously, I have challenged the claims of those on this blog (and on others) to provide any evidence of moderate Muslims. Today, I have come across such evidence.

In Malaysia there is the case of a woman, Lina Joy, who wants the government to stop classifying her as a Muslim (WSJ 8/25/06). This would permit her to change her religion, in order to marry a Catholic man. Malaysia has been governed by civil law for fifty years, but given Islam’s rise has ceded certain powers to the Shariah courts. Consequently, when Ms. Joy moved to change her religion in civil court, eight years ago, she was required to obtain permission from the Shariah court to renounce Islam. Since that cannot be forthcoming, there are organizations that have pushed her case, comprised of civil-rights and *moderate Islamic* groups.

Currently, if she were to marry her Catholic partner, it would be considered invalid. Were she to live with him, it would be unlawful. (Her lawyers say that she is afraid to go out in public.)

I mention this to acknowledge evidence of the existence of moderate Muslims. Heretofore, whatever claims I had received were merely covers for furthering an Islamic agenda, or simply avowals of moderation that in no way impeded Shariah law.

8/25/06, 1:29 PM  
Blogger Cubed © said...

Unaha-Closp,

If you understood the full implications of "Pragmatism" (it goes FAR beyond being "practical" or "what works") you might view it in a far less postive light.

It is a formal school of philosophy, complete with things like epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, etc. It's a real shame that most people think that "pragmatic" means "practical" or "something that works."

Jason is right; due to our conceptual mode of thinking, we're able to separate the wheat from the chaff, and see what the essential similarities between things are.

Even though the Left, Liberals, Socialists, Communists, Fascists, the Nazis and Islam are not the same things, we can see the things that they have in common, the principles that make them very much alike.

It's the same thing that allows us to see that a stool and a chair are different, but have much in common and serve similar purposes.

Ain't concept-formation a great thing!

8/25/06, 6:15 PM  
Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

I hope, by Ducky's measure, we keep "screwing up," with glee.

(was that subtle enough?)

8/25/06, 9:34 PM  
Blogger LASunsett said...

Jason,

//While the damnation of German Nazis and neo-Nazis is emphatic and swift, damnation of Islamic Nazis is tentative, hesitant, and laced with doubt.//

Herein lies the hypocrisy of many. Their narrow tummel vision has prevented them from seeing the wider scope of things and this one sentence says it all.

You always do a good job, Jason. But this one essay is superior. Great job, sir.

8/26/06, 7:55 AM  
Blogger LASunsett said...

Too early in the AM. make tummel, tunnel.

Sheesh. I need caffeine.

8/26/06, 7:59 AM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

I agree with cubed that "Pragmatism…is a formal school of philosophy, complete with things like epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, etc. It's a real shame that most people think that "pragmatic" means "practical" or "something that works." I further agree that “Jason is right; due to our conceptual mode of thinking, we're able to separate the wheat from the chaff, and see what the essential similarities between things are.”
So I strongly affirm the imperative of being guided by principles, for they play an indispensable role in reasoning. Whereas one reasons about direct cause and effect, that reasoning must employ principles to guide us regarding that which is indirect, incomplete, or requires long periods of time to play out. To clarify, consider “honesty is the best policy” and “thou shalt not kill”. Without such guides, we can only consider matters on a case-by-case basis, frequently concluding that one should steal and kill, when even on a mercenary basis, it would be counterproductive. Moreover, such a pragmatic approach would leave us blind as to how to decide whether something is practical. Would we gauge it by how much money it brings, by whether it is convenient, by whether people respect us, or by whether it integrates our being, etc.?

Nonetheless, there are two ways in which we should influence our principles by being pragmatic: when a theory is incomplete or partially mistaken; and when it comes to applying principles. Consider an engineer who understands how to analyze a stream of traffic, but cannot determine what occurs when two such streams combine. Yet he finds from experience that combined streams seem to behave as though they had a random pattern. The engineer might then find it useful to approximate his analysis by using a random pattern, even though he wouldn’t know why it might work, and would often find that his conclusions were somewhat inaccurate. Here, a pragmatic approach would be preferable to a theoretical one, for there would be an absence of theory.

Second, let us consider a perfect theory, such as in physics, that describes the motion of a billiard ball, allowing for speed, spin, bounce, angle of collision, etc., etc. Yet the player will find it more helpful to employ certain rules of thumb, such as how far the object ball is thrown, when the cue is close to touching, and the cue stick is elevated. Similarly, a fielder has a sense of following the trajectory of a ball, rather than calculating the perturbations of a parabola.

So whereas principles are imperative for guiding us, and are not to be compromised for political gain, they can be enhanced by using tentative guides from experience, and are best applied with flexibility regarding what has been effective in practice. This in no way denies that such pragmatic practices will in time be explained by an expansion of our understanding of principles.

8/26/06, 12:25 PM  
Blogger Rancher said...

I just had this discussion with a left leaning nephew of mine. He really can't see it and says he hates the term "Islamo-Fascist.

8/27/06, 10:08 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Rancher:

If your nephew hates the term "Islamo-fascist" so much, then perhaps he would like to substitute it with 'Islam', pure and simple!

8/27/06, 2:07 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Cubed,

"Jason is right; due to our conceptual mode of thinking, we're able to separate the wheat from the chaff, and see what the essential similarities between things are."

All that this asked is that conceptual reasoning is backed by a likely expectation of practical benefit. The reason for seperating wheat from chaff is that the wheat is worth more.


Weingarten,

"Moreover, such a pragmatic approach would leave us blind as to how to decide whether something is practical."

This choice is left open, a judgement call is made for arguing on the basis of one or more meters. Money is the most cross culturally transferable value and is the most useful meter. Convenience, respect, well being - are not fungible.

Employment of guidelines is only good when those guides produce positive outcomes. "Thou shalt not kill" is a guide that is workable in that it recognises the costs of killing (dead persons relatives, friends, society, community exacting costs) as being consistantly high. "Honesty is the best policy" is a less workable guide in that it is apparent that almost all people derive benefit from deception, for example when asked "Do I look good in this?" seldom does anybody give the complete truth.

What is asked is to show benefit from the concepts put forward, monetary benefit prefered.

8/27/06, 7:55 PM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

Unana-closp questions my view that “such a pragmatic approach would leave us blind as to how to decide whether something is practical." He claims that a judgment call is to be made on the basis of meters (or measures), such as money. Unana-closp employs my example of "Thou shalt not kill" to demonstrate the viability of showing an advantage in terms of costs. That is often the case, but he disregarded the essence of my argument, which is that often such measures indicate that it pays to kill, whereas it is likely (for many intangible considerations) that killing will backfire. This we know from historic experience, and from intuitive insight.

Next, he denies that "Honesty is the best policy" is a sound guide, because there are times for being diplomatic. This is somewhat off the point, and one's ‘honesty’ should permit him to be attentive to the feelings of others.

As far as showing benefit, there is considerable benefit is selling out, saying that ‘Islam’ means peace, and conforming to corrupt practices. What is more at issue is the intangible matter of what kind of person you wish to be, and what do you want to leave to your descendants.

Yet again, there are times when a pragmatic approach is advisable, such as when a theory is lacking, and when it is to be applied.

8/28/06, 8:19 AM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Weingarten,

This we know from historic experience, and from intuitive insight.

Pragmatism includes application of historical facts and theoretical prediction.

From the historical record we have responses that group of outcomes as likely reaction to an action, on this basis a judgement can be made to the cost and benefit. The action taken based solely on historical record is one that is most likely to derive a good outcome. Unfortunately the historical record can include apparently opposing reactions and the furure is in reality intangible.

Intangibles and opposing reactions need to be intuitively or theoretically assumed. The best theory is one which can be used to predict the action that will lead to the best possible outcome. Thus new approaches can be tried.

Pragmatism simply offers a way of judging the likelihood of good outcomes. The outcome is judged by the cost and benefit of obtaining it, the best having the greatest benefit to cost ratio and the chance of obtaining it. Pragmatism is derided because it favors low risk mediocrity, over the high risk genius of marvellous theorys.

As far as showing benefit, there is considerable benefit is selling out, saying that ‘Islam’ means peace, and conforming to corrupt practices.

Yes. And it is extremely common for this to occur in todays world (you may have noticed?). This is not the best possible outcome, but it is low risk. Jason proposes morally a much better outcome of a world free from the constrictions of an immoral barbaric religion. However his argument is skewed because the morals he bases it upon are not inclusive enough. If the same argument could be made in terms of financial and power gain it would be more effective, because the power-hungry and greedy come in moral, amoral and immoral garbs - it is a more universal.




Yet again, there are times when a pragmatic approach is advisable, such as when a theory is lacking, and when it is to be applied.

A theory is always lacking certainty, it is why it is called theory, therefore pragmatism is always advisable.

8/28/06, 10:24 AM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

Unaha-closp, in response to my reliance on historic experience and intuitive insights, says that “Pragmatism includes application of historical facts and theoretical prediction.” Here, I doubt that he is noting the disparity in our formulations. I was addressing the intangibles that are captured in principles, while he is addressing the tangibles that are captured by measures that are tangible. *Either he is allowing for intangibles that are not captured by measures or he is not.*

Next, he writes that an “outcome is judged by the cost and benefit of obtaining it”. Yet at issue is that one cannot know either the overall cost or the overall benefit of a complex process without guiding principles. Generally speaking, government intervention is justified by such pragmatic approaches, where something is advantageous on a cost/benefit basis. Then, over time, the intangibles of corruption, demoralization, loss of incentives, etc., result in all sorts of devastation that escaped the notice of the pragmatic measures.

Yet let us be specific about pragmatic measures. Military ventures are often judged in this manner. Yet those who took the subject seriously found it necessary to develop the eight principles of war. This was not merely a matter of employing judgment, for these principles provided the criteria for judging the venture. For example, one principle is the need for a clear objective, which we didn’t have in the Viet Nam war or currently in Iraq. Another principle is that of unity of command, which has also been lacking in such conflicts.

Similarly, in chess there is need for the principles of controlling the center, and of maximizing pins & forks. These are not learned by exercising judgment, but by the definition of these principles.

Finally, to my comment that a pragmatic approach is advisable when a theory is lacking, he writes that “a theory is always lacking, it is why it is called theory, therefore pragmatism is always advisable.” That completely reverses what I wrote and illustrated as a theory being flawed. The theories of war and of chess are not perfect, but they have no flaws which require replacing them by pragmatism. Thus, I gave the example of an analyst whose theories of traffic (such as queuing theory) did not provide a solution to the merging of a certain pair of streams. The fact that the theory for merging is lacking is not at all the same as saying that when a single stream can be analyzed, one needs to be pragmatic, because it is a theory.

I would hope that if Unaha-closp argues for pragmatism, in contrast with principle (or theory) he would be specific in stating the principle or theory that is at issue (such as the principles of war or say queuing theory.

8/28/06, 5:41 PM  
Blogger American Crusader said...

Well written blog. I don't blame CBS for not asking tough questions when our leaders also refuse to speak the truth about Islam. I've been surprised how CAIR and other groups have cowed the Bush administration into telling only half-truths.
A good Muslim follows the Koran and the Koran clearly states to kill or subdue all nonbelievers.

8/29/06, 2:14 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Wiengarten,

The problem with theory is that there are several.

Pragmatism is a selection of a theory on which to act from a range of theories (including the theory of continuing with current practice) on the basis of expected results. These expectations are intangible and are arrived at theoretically, but their expected outcome is rated in terms of tangible measures that can be analysed after implementation. Thus a decison can be reached judging and then trialling the competing theories in an atheoretical manner.

Generally speaking, government intervention is justified by such pragmatic approaches, where something is advantageous on a cost/benefit basis.

No. Generally speaking government intervention is justified of its own good by Socialist theory or of economic good by Keynesian theory. A pragmatic choice is made between the Keynesian expectations of return with and the "neo-liberal/libertarian" expectations of return without the intervention. If intervention fails to deliver expected returns is it a failing of the selection criteria or a failing of the selected theory? I say the theory.


I would hope that if Unaha-closp argues for pragmatism, in contrast with principle (or theory) he would be specific in stating the principle or theory that is at issue (such as the principles of war or say queuing theory.

As this is a political blog - Communism, Islamism, Capitalism are all theories regarding the structure of society. I contend that these cannot be meaningfully compared without reference to one or several tangible measures, though I do expect a committed Communist could destroy the other theories on the basis of Communist dogma it would not to my mind be meaningful.

Determing the benefit of any theory relies upon its ability to deliver results. To win support for a proposed change of course one must demonstrate expected positive results over the existing method and in competition with other possible changes. Show the expected realisable results for following a course of action as positive and show them in the most universal measure and you have a better chance of selection in a pragmatic world.

8/29/06, 10:11 PM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

Unaha-closp writes that “The problem with theory is that there are several.” This overlooks the fact that when there are several competing theories in science, it is imperative to ascertain which is valid. More pertinent is that there is often only one well-established theory, such as in the examples I gave about queuing theory, chess, and the principles of war. Then, there are also several pragmatic approaches, since there are different measures for costs and benefits. So if one were to reject theory because there are several, one should even more reject pragmatism, because there are far more measures than theories.

Thus, I do not find his approach to be tenable, let alone cogent.

Next he reiterates his view of employing tangible measures, disregarding the problems that such measures can disregard what is most important. Thus measuring “Thou shalt not kill” in terms of dollars, disregards the price to the inner man over time.

Unaha-closp denies that pragmatic approaches are used to justify government intervention. Yet, one reads and hears of justification of public schools, social security, and the minimum wage, etc., by listing the benefits that are given to people, the money that is needed by them, and their popularity. Rather than starting with denying that one person has the right to take what belongs to another, pragmatism begins by addressing the costs and benefits. We may note here my initial point, that there are no competing theories with regard to theft. Nobody I have spoken to denies that one person oughtn't steal, in order to help another, nor views it as right if many people do so, or if they vote to steal, in order to help others. Instead, they say 'don’t bother me with principles, what is practical are costs and benefits, and being realistic as to what people find acceptable'.

Next, he writes that “Communism, Islamism, Capitalism are all theories regarding the structure of society. I contend that these cannot be meaningfully compared without reference to one or several tangible measures.”

As before, he once again disregards the need for a guide regarding how to gauge such alternatives. Communists would employ the gauge of what the “victims” take from the “exploiters” which by a cost/benefit measure could provide a great immediate return; Islamists would take one’s sense of certitude and power as a gauge for subordinating others to Allah; Capitalists would employ the value of liberty, as well as anticipated long-range benefits. In other words, they mean different things by ‘results’.

One tale is instructive. A Russian peasant, who was competitive with his neighbor, rubbed a lamp, producing a genie. The genie said, I will grant you whatever you wish, but will give your neighbor twice the amount. The peasant reflected, and said “Pluck out one of my eyes.”

Of course Unaha-closp relies not on any measure, but on "the most universal measure (for) selection in a pragmatic world." Yet what is universal is envy rather than justice, and pretense rather than truth. *Progress is instead made by the few who go against the path of compromise by the many.*

"Truth forever on the scaffold;
Wrong forever on the throne;
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
keeping watch above his own"

So wrote James Russel Lowell, in relation to a slavery that was universally accepted. How unfortunate that he didn't think instead about the meager cost of purchasing a slave, as contrasted with the monetary and sexual benefits of having one.

8/30/06, 9:31 AM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

This overlooks the fact that when there are several competing theories in science, it is imperative to ascertain which is valid.

This is done by testing the theories against quantifiable results and not (as some might wish) by testing them against each other.

We may note here my initial point, that there are no competing theories with regard to theft. Nobody I have spoken to denies that one person oughtn't steal, in order to help another, nor views it as right if many people do so, or if they vote to steal, in order to help others.

You have never heard of Socialism, I am very surprised.

Capitalists would employ the value of liberty, as well as anticipated long-range benefits.

Actually Capitalism is built around the value of capital; allowing a greater degree of liberty can to assist the generation of capital, but it is subsidiary. This point actually forms a large part of my argument as to why argument should be made on the basis of capital gain to advance ideas in our Capitalist society. Capital wealth provides relationships of power between members, it is important to demonstrate economic benefit to gain power.

Yet what is universal is envy rather than justice, and pretense rather than truth.

Envy is related to power, is related to wealth. Justice is not opposed by envy, for there is envy of privilege and there is no justice in privilege.

Is it more pretentious to hold an idea in high regard or to trial it against reality?

How unfortunate that he didn't think instead about the meager cost of purchasing a slave, as contrasted with the monetary and sexual benefits of having one.

I am pretty sure that thousands of people died in a Civil War fought to free the slaves (and continue Union power over and taxation from the Southern States), as these casualties were of the "compromising many" were their contributions less or more than that of the poet?

Please note - the Union won because a skilled workforce of free men were able to produce more guns than an unskilled work force of slave laborers and slave owners, thus demonstrating for all the world to see the economic problems of having a slave based economy.

8/30/06, 8:20 PM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

Originally, Unaha-closp spoke of the problem with theories as being that there were several. To this I responded that science ascertains the correct theory, rather than abandoning theory. His response that one tests theories against quantifiable results evades the very point he advocated, namely that one employs pragmatism rather than theory.

To my next point, where the public does not answer the view that it is wrong to steal, but speaks instead in terms of cost and benefits, he responds by claiming that I never heard of socialism. Yet it is with the very defenders of socialism that I have spoken. Unaha-closp once again simply does not acknowledge the argument given.

Then I spoke about capitalism employing the value of liberty, to which he emphasizes capital gain (that I had also mentioned). Again, he simply disregards the position that there are different criteria employed to gauge success.

In each of these areas, he addresses the sentences I wrote by reaffirming his position. However, *he never deals with the point that was made, in relation to his thesis.* So I will give him the last word, but have not found this interchange helpful in examining the issue of pragmatism versus principle.

8/31/06, 8:00 AM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Weingarten,

Please consider this and reply, I think I have directly addressed the points you raise.

Pragmatism is the selection of future action based on obtaining a good outcome. To do this a judgement is passed on the likely benefit and cost of an action. Each future action requires that there is a theory justifying why such action should be taken, in this manner it is not a question of pragmatism vs. theory, but rather how to select the best theory. Pragmatism is a form of selection based on maximising the good and in our Capitalist society the dominant good is wealth, our pragmatism is therefore selection based on wealth and power.

You are arguing that the good that should be selected for is liberty. Unfortunately there are those who suggest that the defining good should be defined for egalitarianism. (There are also those who consider the writings of a 1400 year dead warlord as the G_d given greatest good.)

You seem well versed in the merits of liberty, however unfamiliar with the merits of egalitare. Egalitarianism considers all people to be of equal value and that the disruption of this equality to be sinful. Argue that providing for each to be of equal value will allow each person the same opportunity to behave in a manner beneficial to the growth of society, by removing the struggle for daily survival society will benefit by people advancing thoughts of a higher order. That eqipping all people with ability to follow their ideas through will result in a net positive gain. To do this they advocate things like one person - one vote and equality of wealth. Socialist theory is egalitarian, it reads the unequal distribution of wealth as being sinful, that for the benefit of society and the ultimate good of mankind wealth must be redistributed egalitarily. Social democrats believe that taxation (far from being theft) is in fact a form of justice.*

Liberty & egalitare are both considered goods under different theories for advancement of mankind. However they are both somewhat esoteric in form and hard to quantify. Adding to this there are others arguing the merits of submission to Allah and Gaiaism as being of ultimate good.

Pragmatism selects actions based upon mundane, quantifiable measures of the advancement of humankind. In the case of Western society the most pervasive measure is financial gain. The pursuit of liberty, egalitare, submission, connection with mother earth & other ideals all have an effect on the advancement of humankind, but to prove that they are advancing humankind you have to provide evidence of how humankind is advancing.

Our pragmatism is based upon the mundane good of financial gain. If you argue against our pragmatism you are saying that financial gain should be sacraficed in the pursuit of a higher ideal. This ideal must therefore be of greater value than wealth. This is inherently flawed in that it fails to recognise that the worth of a good is represented of the value of wealth we are willing to offer for it. It is my counter argument that if an ideal is a valuable good, then increasing its occurance will increase our wealth.

I personally believe that liberty is beneficial to the creation of wealth in a way that egalitare, submission & gaiaism are not. That people with extensive liberty, but inequality of wealth are the most productive generators of wealth and therefore the most pragmatically good.





* Even if you take nothing else from our discussion you will be able to say that someone has tried to justify taxation to you.

8/31/06, 9:09 PM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

I had written that I would give Unaha-closp the last word, as I found no point in further discussing the matter. He apparently believes that reiterating his position (which is ipse dixit) is being responsive. However, since he has asked me to consider what he says, and to reply (claiming to address the points that I raised) I shall do so.

Unaha-closp presents his case for pragmatism, once again claiming the virtues of a cost/benefit analysis. He thinks that he is answering my argument that “the good that should be selected for is liberty”. However, that was not at all my argument, which was instead that what is at issue is not the tangibles, but rather the kinds of things addressed by James Russel Lowell.

He correctly states that there are socialists who justify the wealth distribution of taxation, but even that is not responsive to my claim that the primary justification given for such theft is pragmatic. Socialists today are in general social democrats, employing pragmatic means to win the public to their cause. Yet even that issue is not the one to consider. As I wrote before “I doubt that he is noting the disparity in our formulations. I was addressing the intangibles that are captured in principles, while he is addressing the tangibles that are captured by measures... *Either he is allowing for intangibles that are not captured by measures or he is not.*"

I believe that Unaha-closp sincerely thinks that he has addressed my qualms, whereas he has instead presupposed that the measure of tangibles holds. His position could be completely correct, but he has not adressed the claim that there are intangibles that can only be incorporated in principles.

9/1/06, 8:23 AM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Weingarten,

Two parts - first that pragmatism contains its own intangible; secondly how a non-pragmatic intangible can be a motivator to action in a pragmatic sytem.

Part 1

This is a modifier of position, on my part. It was my position at the start of this discussion that pragmatism is totally atheoretical (not favoring any theory). I have to modify this to say that the pragmatism the West has adopted does favor a principle.

His position could be completely correct, but he has not adressed the claim that there are intangibles that can only be incorporated in principles.

Western Pragmatism is governed by an overiding, intangible principle - that having power is good. In a capitalist society power is tied to having money and therefore a pragmatic system measuring money favors increasing power as the inherent good.

To defend western pragmatism, let me say "to quest for power is a good thing".

Part 2

Yet pragmatism can incorporate other goods.

Socialists today are in general social democrats, employing pragmatic means to win the public to their cause. Yet even that issue is not the one to consider.

"Egalitarians" desire for all people to be free and have the means to use that freedom. It values all people to be of the same inherent value. This intangible ideal is fair and just in principle.

Many people, to whom I have spoken, agree that it is indeed a fair and just notion that all people are equal, having some inherent wealth. That inherited wealth and its associated privilege are unfair and unjust. Principled action should require that we fight this injustice.

You are arguing for action to be taken on the basis of principle and in good theory. Here is a just principle, deriving to a theoretically good outcome. Theoretically - people being of equal inherent worth, it is fair and just that they also have equal tangible wealth.

Now me being a pragmatist I can see that a solution to this injustice would likely have negative tangible results. And am glad that our social democrats argue on the basis tangible, pragmatic monetary results (within the pragmatic power increasing ideal) when they seek to advance towards their intangible ideal.

9/3/06, 1:20 AM  

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