Thursday, February 03, 2011

Hannity & the American right

My interest at the moment is to try to understand more closely the American right. I've delved a little into the politics of a few personalities on the US right. It's not enough to write with great confidence on the topic, and I'm happy for American readers to jump in with their thoughts, but I think it's worthwhile to report on some early findings.

If I had to briefly summarise I'd say:
  1. The professed political philosophy of leading personalities on the American right is often classical liberalism, i.e. it involves a belief in individual liberty, a small state, low taxes, and a free market.
  2. But the personalities don't seem to identify as classical liberals. They prefer the term libertarian or occasionally conservative. This reluctance to identify as liberal is understandable, given that the term liberal in America is often reserved for those on the left (what we would call in Australia "left-liberal").
  3. Classical liberals in Australia are usually very socially liberal, particularly those with an academic background. Commonly they will support the legalisation of drugs, gay marriage and even (I've had debates with them on this issue) polygamy. However, in the US those professing a classical liberal philosophy are more likely to take socially conservative positions on some issues, such as abortion or the family. It's possible, I think, that this is partly due to the influence of a Christian right in the US and partly due to the fact that there was an element of classical liberalism in the US founding and therefore classical liberals in the US are more likely to think of themselves as conserving traditional values.

Which brings me to the radio and television host Sean Hannity. He is described at one site as being "A conservative to the very core of his soul." But in one of his books he describes the kind of values he is trying to uphold as being "limited government, individual liberty, and the rule of law."

That's a typically classical liberal formulation. It's a vision of negative liberty, of being left free to do as you will (within the limits of the law and not impeding the negative liberty of others).

By itself, this classical liberal philosophy is anything but conservative. Genuine conservatives set out to defend what Lawrence Auster has termed "a substantive spiritual, cultural and social order". Telling people to do whatever, as long as it doesn't interfere with anyone else, implicitly denies that there even is any significant substantive order to be concerned with.

And so the Australian classical liberals end up with the socially liberal positions I described above. If it's just negative liberty, then why not allow people to practise polygamy (or any other conceivable form of family arrangement) or to take any kind of drugs? As long as it doesn't impede on your own freedom to choose otherwise, then it fits the classical liberal principle.

But Hannity is not as socially liberal as this. For instance, he tore strips off the founder of a website for people wishing to commit adultery:

HANNITY: I'm looking at your Web site and looking it right here. And there's your motto, "Life is short, have an affair." You think it's good for people to have affairs? Do you think that's something that's good for people?

... I'm assuming that if the spouses find out that this is happening, that it's going to break up a lot of marriages. And you're facilitating that. You are assisting, you're helping, you're making money off the breakup of some marriages.

Now, granted they're going to make their own choices, they have their responsibility, but you're profiting from it. You're sort of like, you know, you remind me of a pimp. You know what? You remind me of a drug dealer.

You know what? Let's say selling crack was legal, I wouldn't sell crack because I know it would destroy people's lives.

Why would you not have a conscience bother you that this might hurt people's marriages?

BIDERMAN: You know, Sean, we're different people. I would build a service for same-sex couples. You probably wouldn't approve of that, but I did ... and I'm proud of it. Same way that entrepreneurs like me are needed all the time...

HANNITY: You have compartmentalized, you're rationalizing your contribution to the potential break up of marriages which, by the way, will not only affect the two people involved, but also the children that will no longer see their spouse.

Now maybe that's the way you want to make your money in life. But I think people that have a conscience and a soul don't want to make their money this way. In other words, you might make money selling drugs, but I wouldn't want to contribute to somebody's death and demise.

Where is your soul in this? Where is your conscience?

BIDERMAN: You are giving me too much credit, Sean. You're making — you're making it sound like I can persuade a happily married couple to go cheat on each other based on my TV commercial.

HANNITY: I'm saying, listen, people will make their choices. But if they're going to make bad choices, I'm not going to facilitate it, because I have a moral foundation that obviously you're lacking...

HANNITY: You're no different than a pimp.

BIDERMAN: That's not a crime in America, at least not that I'm aware of.

It's interesting that Biderman attempts to justify himself on classical liberal grounds. He points out that what he's doing isn't illegal, so he's not violating the rule of law. Furthermore, he is following the free market as an entrepreneur providing a service.

If Hannity held to classical liberalism by itself, he'd struggle to find a way to object. But Hannity adds in some other concepts: a moral foundation, a soul, a conscience. As I understand it, Hannity does talk explicitly of the need for Christian values as part of a functioning social order. And that, perhaps, is why he does come across as more socially conservative than his secular Australian counterparts, at least when it comes to certain issues.

Let me try to illustrate all this using one more example. On a Sean Hannity discussion board, someone asked the question "Over 50% of marriages end in divorce - where are you social conservatives?"

Leaving aside the exaggerated statistic, the question provoked some interesting responses. There were three types of answer. First, there were right liberal types (classical liberal/libertarians) who generally answered that although they personally had been happily married, it wasn't their business to concern themselves with what other people did. Then there were Christian conservatives who opposed the high divorce rate on biblical grounds. Third, there were traditionalist/conservative types who thought that a high divorce rate was cause for concern because of its effects on the social order.

So part of Hannity's audience are classical/right liberal types who believe in negative liberty alone. That's why they say things like this:

Can't speak for others but I've been married 24 years to the same woman. Have two kids, both born after we were married.

What others do and what values they follow is THEIR business, not mine.

There's no sense here of the existence of a social order to be defended. It's just whatever floats your boat. To put this another way, our classical/right liberals recognise a good for themselves (a stable marriage), but are paralysed by their philosophy from ever extending this recognition to others. So if the divorce rate hit 80%, or if all of their own children divorced, they would still not be able to act in defence of marriage as a general good in society.

100 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. He clearly shows strong disapproval for people who espuse non traditional values, nonetheless as you say his comitmment to liberty does somewhat blunt his critique. So it all sort of decends to a degree to sniping for the sake of it.

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  3. Of course. We're right-liberals (libertarians), not true conservatives or traditionalists.

    Our conservatism and traditionalism is purely personal, not political. We put more emphasis on using social pressures to produce conforming behavior because to rely on the state to enforce morality leads to the growth of the state, and eventually to tyranny. And if there is one thing Americans live in fear of, it is tyranny. There's a reason why gun sales have now hit an all-time high, and why large swaths of our nation is armed to the teeth.

    Furthermore, in our country we have seen over the years that the growth of the state leads to a decline in values. The state is inherently anti-tradition because it undermines patriarchy (which relies on strict subsidiarity to survive). We generally believe that if the state would just back off and let men handle things on their own, the social situation would improve. Our society is not decaying because the state is too weak. It is decaying because the state is too strong, because it locks men up in astonishing numbers, because it lures their women into sin and penury, because the state views men as competition and prevents them from handling their own business in their own homes.

    My male ancestors died fighting against tyranny, and I'm not just going to roll over now and spit on their graves. They knew what they were talking about. Give me liberty, or give me death. is the tradition here, so don't tread on me.

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  4. The American right is a hodge-podge of classical liberalism and social conservatism. No, it isn't "consistent". Part of that arises from the two-party system and the reality that each party, and especially the GOP, is in fact a coalition of various ideologies. The typical Republican in the US is a mish-mash of classically liberal political philosophy *and* socially conservative values, often based on evangelical Christianity. That is an inconsistency, and one that is pointed out to the GOP relentlessly by the left. The left, of course, has its own inconsistencies (it's a mish-mash itself of liberty/autonomy *and* nannyism run amok).

    There isn't any significant "conservative" movement from the perspective of political philosophy in the United States that is distinct, in the realm of political philosophy, from classical liberalism.

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  5. What you refer to as right liberalism was exactly what Barry Goldwater espoused, and was the face of the Republican Party until social conservatives were pulled in around 1976-1980. Since then, the party has had two factions. I suppose it was referred to as conservative because it wanted to CONSERVE the right liberal principles that this country was founded upon.

    So, what is left liberalism? What principle separates it from right liberalism?

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  6. Your analysis seems accurate to me.

    British Conservatives of the Thatcherite variety used to be the way you describe the Americans today - Classical Liberals but with a moral streak derived from Christianity. The moral streak has been abandoned, this is what Cameron meant when he called himself a Liberal Conservative - he fits your description of Australian 'conservatives'.

    I think they spend too much time reading The Economist. And too much time on Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom", not enough on his "The Political Constitution of a Free People".

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  7. Thanks for the comments.

    CamelCaseRob asked:

    So, what is left liberalism? What principle separates it from right liberalism?

    The modern version of left liberalism had arisen in reaction to classical liberalism by the late 1800s.

    Classical liberals of the 1800s accepted that in a society regulated by the free market there would be unequal social outcomes. The "new liberals" didn't accept this inequality. They thought it limited the way that some people were able to pursue their life choices etc.

    So the new (left) liberals tended to prefer "rational" regulation by the state rather than the hidden hand of the market.

    So the differences, in brief, are:

    i) Left liberals are more sceptical of market solutions, more open to state intervention to regulate society.

    ii) Left liberals focus more on positive liberty (having the resources to puruse one's autonomously chosen life path) rather than negative liberty (not being interfered with in one's autonomously chosen life path).

    iii) Whereas right liberals often emphasise procedural equality (non-discrimination in what people may choose for themselves etc), left liberals often want the state to intervene to equalise resources so that there is no "disadvantage" in society.

    iv) Liberals have to explain why society in the past didn't live up to their egalitarian principles. Right liberals tend to just see things as a march of progress to higher forms of society. Left liberals often have a more savage explanation. They see some groups of people as having invented artificial categories to oppress other groups.

    The logic of the left-liberal explanation is that the past society was fundamentally immoral (racist, sexist etc) and therefore to be looked on negatively.

    So left liberals are often a lot more "anti" when it comes to identifying with the Western tradition. They don't see it as some sort of glorious progress to the current state of perfected freedom to be exported to the world, as some right liberals might do, but as an evil impediment to the enjoyment of people's full humanity around the world etc etc

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  8. Alte,

    I'll write a longer response to your comment later.

    In brief: agree that the state has intervened to undermine the family. We can agree on the goal of a smaller state.

    Agree that a certain amount of the ethos you describe is part of the American tradition and will naturally flavour the expression of American identity.

    But disagree that it's a philosophy that by itself can sustain a tradition.

    Look at the Hannity commenters. So many of them respond to a cripplingly high divorce rate by using the negative freedom mantra: it's no concern of mine, I have no business with what other people choose to do etc.

    The classical liberal philosophy is excessively individualistic: there's a lack of concern with a larger social order within which people live their lives.

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  9. But disagree that it's a philosophy that by itself can sustain a tradition.

    But it was never meant to be a self-sustaining philosophy. It was always understood to be best in conjunction with community solidarity and deep religious faith. It is the secularization and atomization of society that have caused the combination to stumble, if not outright fail. And secularization and atomization are not the result of right-liberalism, but the growth of the state (statism). Americans have always been "rugged individualists", but they were never alone and without a moral compass, like they are today.

    A lot of the problems also have to do with the centralization of power at the federal level, rather than the growth of the state overall. Subsidiarity is an essential part of good governance.

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  10. @ Alte,

    "But it was never meant to be a self-sustaining philosophy. It was always understood to be best in conjunction with community solidarity and deep religious faith."

    Exactly. My thought when reading the OP was that a key American political innovation was the separation of church and state. The church was considered to have an equal role in society as the state. The liberalism of the state was intended to allow the free expression of religion, upon which fell the responsibility of maintaining the greater social order. After all, many of the original colonies were religious in nature. The liberal state was never intended to be a sufficient philosophy of society in and of itself.

    The confusion in the political right in the U.S. is due to a contradiction between a secularized classic liberal faction that has lost its religious moral bearing, and the religious right that is violating the liberal state by its imposition of religious values into the political process. Neither is true to the vision of the founding fathers.

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  11. wavevector:
    "the religious right that is violating the liberal state by its imposition of religious values into the political process. Neither is true to the vision of the founding fathers."

    Can you give an example of this? My impression is that the US religious right is far too weak to do any such thing, and most of them would not want to, anyway. My impression is that the US religious right mostly support both the Constitutional ban on a federal established church and the ban on federal violation of the free exercise of religion. Although in the latter case some might want to redefine Islam as "not a religion" to get around that difficulty.

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  12. After all, many of the original colonies were religious in nature.

    Precisely. My own state (Maryland) was originally founded as a Catholic colony, and other states also had established churches. The separation was enforced at the federal level to prevent the states fighting over the establishment of their preferred churches at the federal level, as there had been much inter-religious bloodshed in the colonies between the various Christian factions. The separation was never about keeping religious faith out of public life; that is a modern twist on things.

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  13. Alte:

    "Americans have always been "rugged individualists", but they were never alone and without a moral compass, like they are today."

    Factory:

    To that I would add that this is almost entirely the fault of The Church, and it's failure to be the moral bedrock it advertises itself as. Attempts to "modernize" the Church has turned it into yet another place men can go to have everything blamed on them. Yay.

    I wonder if that has anything to do with falling attendance? I'm not Religious, and I don't go to Church, so really, that's more honest question than snark.


    Simon says:

    "My impression is that the US religious right mostly support both the Constitutional ban on a federal established church and the ban on federal violation of the free exercise of religion."

    Factory adds:

    It's not that they have no power, it's that they, like almost everyone else, have been cowed by the forces of Political Correctness. But to make a couple of points about their political stances...

    They typically use "Gay Marriage" as the biggest threat to the family, and completely avoid even addressing such things as child support amounts, incentivizing laws, unfair Court practices, etc...because they don't mesh with the "man as provider" ideology they hold. They use one prejudice to cover up the fact that they're letting another prejudice disadvantage men.

    The religious right in the US is positively riddled with moral inconsistencies like that. There's more hole than consistency, it seems...

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  14. "Classical liberals in Australia are usually very socially liberal".

    It's the same situation in New Zealand, if not more so. Libertarianism took off here in the early 1980s and took its lead from modern US libertarian thinkers like Rand and Nozick, and so doesn't have any historical grounding. Most libertarians are therefore against the monarchy and are fine with things like gay marriage.

    There biggest allegiance is to the principle of free trade, of which New Zealand is now, for better or worse, a global leader.

    Considering that the monarchy is a free perk we don't even have to pay for, I think its safe to save the average NZ libertarian has a serious case of cultural self-loathing.

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  15. Hi Mark,

    Interesting article, I've taken a relatively recent interest into American politics and have never thought of it through that light before.

    I think that something you need to look at is comments that the American Founding Fathers made after they made their constitution.

    I believe it was George Washington (could be wrong) who said words to the effect that this consitution is only suitable for governing good Christian people and was completely unsuitable for any other.

    This begs two questions that American's need to ask:
    1) Are the American people good people?
    2) Is this constitution still suitable for what we've become?

    Tom

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  16. "And secularization and atomization are not the result of right-liberalism, but the growth of the state (statism). Americans have always been "rugged individualists", but they were never alone and without a moral compass, like they are today."

    Alte, you're describing a pre-industrial world destroyed by development and industrialisation. America's traditional blend of religion and rugged individualism depended on favourable economic conditions - cheap land, expensive labour, lots of family farms and independent small businesses to provide subsistence during economic downturns. Once labour became cheap, land scarce and most people became totally dependent on wage labour provided by others, populist movements in all the colonial countries soon started demanding more government intervention on behalf of workers and small businesses.

    Most people were very happy with the populist, relatively socially conservative governments that sprung up after the 1890s and lasted until the 1960s.

    The revival of classical liberalism since the 70s isn't due to popular dislike of government intervention but primarily due to multiculturalism (richer ethnicities don't want to subsidise poorer ethnicities) and a search for solutions to the industrial problems associated with a mature economy.

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  17. ""And if there is one thing Americans live in fear of, it is tyranny""

    And because they live in fear of it they have a fighting chance of avoiding it.

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  18. Alte,

    I can't agree that everything is due to the rise of the state. I agree with Mike Courtman that a lot of the state's rise can be explained by different economic and technological factors.

    Nonetheless the libertarian, and economic libertarian urge, can undermine society. If you see yourself as a self contained unit in competition to a degree with everyone else in your society, there will be a greater focus on the self and what is good for the self and less on social obligations. Consequently when tempering factors like community or religious commitment are weakened you're left solely with the desire to promote self, which must be seen as socially destructive.

    I'm not in favor of weak individuals only against the idea of the self as the end in itself.

    Blokes like Hannity are truly religious but you get the feeling I think that concepts like the marketplace place higher in their priorities than other aspects. You can then get a religious "veneer" overlaying pure accumulation. You could see this prioritisation amongst establishment figures in the last Presidential election where the establishment republicans or conservatives backed Romney, who represented business and the free market, whilst McCain and Huckabee, who emphasised citizen obligations or a social sense of community, received support elsewhere (including some from the left).

    "The Lord's Kingdom is not meat nor drink but righteousness" Romans 14:17.

    A focus on business, overlaid with a sense of freedoms and some religious commitment, can in practice lead to an endless focus on "meat and drink". Which in turn endlessly raises the question of "what is good, materially, for me?".

    In so many Christian churches we hear practical discussions about how to make money. A church which is part of a community can provide this social function. Nonetheless too much of this gives the impression that the moneylenders are in the temple. When that happens matters of principle can be overborne.

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  19. The state is inherently anti-tradition because it undermines patriarchy (which relies on strict subsidiarity to survive). We generally believe that if the state would just back off and let men handle things on their own, the social situation would improve.

    This is one of my beefs with the American right. They are are holding on to a ideology that is no longer tenable. When a people have become so corrupt and degenerate, and the institutions of it's moral order subverted and virtually destroyed, then merely "getting the government off your back" won't improve things. In fact, it will likely make them worse.

    It is my belief that only an authoritarian government that uses its power to enforce a proper moral order and re-build its institutions can bring us back from the brink.

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  20. Anonymous,

    A lot of people feel that way, which is why I have prophesied that America will sink into tyranny.

    Elusive Wapiti has a great post up concerning some core beliefs of American libertarians.

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  21. @Simon in London,

    I was thinking of the Religious Right's attempts to impose religious values in the public sphere, especially in the public school system, such as in mandatory school prayer, teaching creationism instead of evolution, and abstinence only sex ed. Granted they have not been universally successful in these attempts, but they keep trying.

    And then there are the big contentious issues of abortion and gay marriages, which involve a complex conflict of religious values and liberal secular statism, and can be argued in many ways for many purposes. A recent example is the overturn of the gay marriage initiative in California by a coalition headed by the Roman Catholic and the Mormon churches.

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  22. Jesse,

    I agree that liberty can be taken too far and lead to the atomization of the citizenry, however I think something similar can be said for traditionalist conformism. I think it's a choice of "choosing your poison". Each philosophy carries risks, and the key is to balance them with strict Christian principles and small, sound government. I think that in practice, traditionalists and right-liberals will often agree on legislation and the shaping of society.

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  23. Factory:

    "They typically use "Gay Marriage" as the biggest threat to the family ..."

    This is a good point. I think gay marriage is a red herring from the left that has been swallowed whole by the right. The right's attention has been so consumed by this issue, with its "Defense of Marriage Act" and all, that they haven't defended marriage against the full scale attack from liberal feminism, which seeks to make women autonomous from men, and hence mothers autonomous from the fathers of their children.

    Under feminist legislation in the U.S., the power of the state has been harnessed to support the eviction of fathers from the family in the name of female autonomy, in all the ways you mention and more: Aid to Families with Dependent Children (e.g. welfare for single moms), Violence Against Women Act (instant restraining order to evict the father and legal aid to initiate divorce), and federal subsidies for programs which incent divorce and drive the child-support collection machinery.

    The Christian right, in its defense against gay marriage, is fighting the last battle of a war that it has long ago lost.

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  24. I believe it was George Washington (could be wrong) who said words to the effect that this consitution is only suitable for governing good Christian people and was completely unsuitable for any other.

    I can't find the actual quote, but I believe Washington said that the success of the American nation depends upon the virtue of its people.

    1) Are the American people good people?

    Insofar as many have conservative instincts, even if they can't articulate conservative positions, I would say that they are.

    2) Is this constitution still suitable for what we've become?

    I think the failure of the Founding Fathers (for which they can be forgiven) is that they made implicit what they should have made explicit. Take freedom of religion, for example. After the Barbary Wars, Jefferson in particular had no illusions about the nature of Islam, and would have viewed allowing large numbers of Moslems to immigrate both abhorrent and absurd. Today Moslems seek to impose as much of their religion as possible, and when challenged they wave the Bill of Rights and say that they have the freedom to practice their religion. Americans have no answer to this because the Founders had no answer, and the Founders had no answer because the scenario was simply inconceivable. They didn't see this phenomenon of liberalism coming; how could they have? cont'd...

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  25. To their great detriment, American "conservatives" have essentially become libertarians who must make unprincipled exceptions to advance what genuine conservative instincts they still have. "I don't agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," one of the most foolish sentences ever uttered, is a favorite of what passes for the American right. It is a fine sentiment when we are all in this together, but when a substantial portion of the nation is simply the enemy, you're basically saying that you'll defend to the death the right of the enemy to undermine your own country.

    This brings us back to the virtue of the people. The Founders recognized the right of secession as a fundamental right, since they themselves seceded from the British Empire and their revolution was illegal under British law. But when several states did just that, a tyrant declared that they did not have such a right, and a great many people sided with the tyrant. The influence of the Jeffersonian ideal was essentially destroyed in 1865 and has not been viable since. Many of the evils that plague America today stem directly from the defeat of the South.

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  26. It is my belief that only an authoritarian government that uses its power to enforce a proper moral order and re-build its institutions can bring us back from the brink.

    The flaw in this logic is that you must trust the tyrant to remain conservative forever. If for whatever reason the tyrant becomes liberal over time, the chances of a conservative revival are quite low, since the people are necessarily made helpless. Hell, we have an authoritarian government now, and it is anything but conservative, but we also have the means to resist such a government. A large portion of Americans will never be willing to hand in their guns and roll the dice on a conservative king.

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  27. This is very well said. It's a problem that can't be stated often enough, but you have stated it with rare clarity.

    I just have one criticism, on usage. You write:

    "If I had to briefly summarise I'd say:..."

    That split infinitive feels like a fingernail being scratched across a black board. At a traditionalist website, it's even more out-of-place and painful.

    Also, as with so many split infinitives, the adverb with which you split the infinitive is unnecessary. A summary by definition is brief. You could have just as easily said:

    "If I had to summarise I'd say:..."

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  28. Also, since your readership seems to have expanded recently, many of your readers may not know that you coined the indispensable expression "right-liberal," which I adopted many years ago (around 2003), when I was looking for a way of speaking about liberal conservatives. "Left-liberal" had long been a common expression in the U.S. as well as in Australia, but "right-liberal" was something new. When I first began using the term, I gave you credit for it several times, for example here. Then after a while I considered it as a part of the language and thus no longer in need of citation.

    Without the invaluable term "right-liberal," I would have been severely hampered in my attempts to describe contemporary political phenomena. My gratitude to you for this cannot be adequately expressed.

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  29. Lawrence Austar,

    I will personally admit to having appalling grammar, but I don't believe its appropriate for a leader of the conservative movement to come out with grammar corrections as their first substantial comment on this site in some time.

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  30. Jesse, I don't mind the grammar subject being raised. When I was at school we were taught to avoid split infinitives. But it's something that no longer seems to get attention, so I haven't been careful with it. Although it doesn't grate with me as much as it does with Lawrence Auster, I agree that not splitting does sound better.

    My gratitude to you for this cannot be adequately expressed.

    Thank you.

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  31. wavevector:
    "I was thinking of the Religious Right's attempts to impose religious values in the public sphere, especially in the public school system, such as in mandatory school prayer, teaching creationism instead of evolution, and abstinence only sex ed. Granted they have not been universally successful in these attempts, but they keep trying.

    And then there are the big contentious issues of abortion and gay marriages, which involve a complex conflict of religious values and liberal secular statism, and can be argued in many ways for many purposes. A recent example is the overturn of the gay marriage initiative in California by a coalition headed by the Roman Catholic and the Mormon churches."

    None of that is Unconstitutional unless imposed at a Federal level.

    I'm talking about the actual written US Constitution, not the New York Times/Judicial Supremacist fake Constitution with its Incorporation Doctrine, fake privacy right/right to abortion, et al.

    The actual written US Constitution is written from a classical-Liberal perspective, but it doesn't prohibit social conservatism at State level, and I haven't seen the religious right oppose it.

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  32. Van Wijk:
    "The flaw in this logic is that you must trust the tyrant to remain conservative forever. If for whatever reason the tyrant becomes liberal over time, the chances of a conservative revival are quite low, since the people are necessarily made helpless. "

    This describes Britain exactly. We trusted our 'Tyranny of Parliament' because for a long time it near enough coincided with the will of the people. When it turned against the people, we were and are helpless against it. The party system (parties select only 'sound' candidates) and the electoral laws (almost impossible for small parties to fully comply with) mean that we can't even vote out the tyranny.

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  33. I've used "Right Liberal" at least since the mid '90s. You can't really discuss the politics of the UK, Australia & NZ without such a concept.

    The Left prefer "Neo-Liberal", which appears to mean the same thing. Both refer to The Economist type morality - economic & social liberalism, derived from Whig progressivism.

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  34. If I had to boldly take a stand, I would have to forthrightly state that splitting an infinitive is just fine. We're not writing in Latin. Sometimes English benefits from use of a split infinitive (though not in my first sentence above).

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  35. wavevector said: "I was thinking of the Religious Right's attempts to impose religious values in the public sphere, especially in the public school system, such as in mandatory school prayer, teaching creationism instead of evolution, and abstinence only sex ed. Granted they have not been universally successful in these attempts, but they keep trying."

    They aren't trying to impose anything. Before 1960, about all of these things were FACT and LAW. All you are seeing is futile attempts by conservatives to keep things the way they were under furious assaults by the Left.

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  36. Simon,

    "The actual written US Constitution is written from a classical-Liberal perspective, but it doesn't prohibit social conservatism at State level, and I haven't seen the religious right oppose it."

    Yes, I think this is true.

    As Alte pointed out, the separation of church and state does allow for considerable influence of religion in public life, and the point at which public religion runs afoul of the constitutional separation has always been fuzzy.

    I will add that each state has a constitution, most of which mirror the federal constitution quite closely. The real constitutional battles over the limits of religion in public life are being fought at the level of the state constitutions.

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  37. Whilst the traditionalist stance may seem appealing and indeed close to the idea of preserving tradition, it is deeply flawed. Alte, you mentioned "community solidarity" and "deep religious faith" as props to what would otherwise best qualify as a classical liberal state. While I do agree with the approach, you will easily admit that both have been seriously undermined for decades. Restoring these props without coercion does not seem possible to me. An authoritarian state, as Van Wijk articulated in an adequate fashion, would pose a threat as we would have no assurance whatsoever it would uphold conservative tenets as opposed to liberal philosophy, or, for all we know, any philosophy at all except the dictates of expediency to safeguard its grip on society. I do share your bias toward a small state, but I do not think this should be made into a goal in itself, but rather a way to abolish governmental influence on many aspects of our lives, considering it has been so detrimental to a good Christian character. This in itself will never suffice. It would take relentless campaigning, countless people, entire swathes of the country changing their minds and radically altering their ways of life and Weltanschauung to work. Again, I do not think this alteration would truly alter things to be fair, I rather see it as a homeward journey to what used to be the standard, normalised situation in bygone days. I am profoundly sceptical of classical liberalism, and you stated one reason for that: classical liberals typically prioritise free markets over the preservation of traditional order, which also leads to immoral actions and contradicts any articulate conservatism. Free markets are only a tool, they can be very efficient at times, this is beyond dispute, but they must not become an end in itself, we must have higher goals in broad conformity with the maintenance of our traditions and the restoration of a true moral order.

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  38. 'Liberalism' or political correctness (as I prefer to call it, to distinguish the morally-inverted post-1965 form) is pervasive among the ruling elites of the West.

    That is why it has proceeded unimpeded.

    Most (and I mean nearly-all) people who consider themselves conservative and libertarian have conceded all points of principle to the most extreme leftists - in the mainstream everyone is a shade of PC.

    This is why suicidal and sefl-hating Liberalism/ PC is almost certainly going to be the end of the West: because there is almost nobody standing on grounds from which to oppose it, stop it, and roll-it-back - even in theory, never mind in actual practice.

    (The secular right are merely advocating varieties of selfishness (e.g. nationalism) to replace suicidal bureaucratic altruism. It could happen, perhaps, but it would probably not be better - just bad in a different way.)

    Because to *stand-outside* political correctness as a Westerner means being an orthodox and traditional Christian, opposed to democracy, in favour of a divinely-ordained monarchy - and so on: to be in favour of a society broadly resembling the Byzanitine Empire of Holy Russia (there may be some viable Roman Catholic alternatives, perhaps).

    Since there are extremely few such people, and they have extremely little influence in secular politics, there is no possible mainstream political action that can be taken to resist PC.

    At most Liberalism might be slightly slowed-down in hope of something else coming to rescue the West.

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  39. The influence of the Jeffersonian ideal was essentially destroyed in 1865 and has not been viable since.

    The federal republic died in the Civil War, that is true. But the Confederates undermined the justice of their own cause by basing succession on their desire to maintain slavery. It turned their act into an unprincipled one (fighting for the freedom to hold other people as property), and gave the Unionists moral fodder for their campaign. The Southerners were relentlessly mocked (beginning, but not ending, with "Uncle Tom's Cabin") as lechers who were fighting to keep their concubines and boy-toys. It was hard to recover from that sort of slander, even if the majority of Confederates didn't even own slaves.

    A large portion of Americans will never be willing to hand in their guns and roll the dice on a conservative king.

    We can only hope so. I am afraid that Americans have gone a bit soft.

    Restoring these props without coercion does not seem possible to me.

    Nor to me. I never implied that they would be restored without coercion, merely that they would eventually be restored.

    I hope I haven't offended anyone unnecessarily by my poor grammar. I apologize in advance, and I hope that my writing is still legible to the readership. I didn't even know what a split-infinitive is, and had to go look it up, but now I am also definitely incised by this most atrocious abuse of the English language.

    Shame on you, Mark. How are we supposed to discern your argument if you litter your writing with such obscenity? Good grief! The things we have to put up with on this blog. One would think we were having some sort of discussion about things that actually matter.

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  40. Good article. This is truly a huge problem for conservatism since true traditional conservatism is being undermined from within. The great majotiry of visible American conservatives for example like Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly, Palin, Limbaugh and others are merely libertarians or neoconservatives with an emphasis on individual liberty, human rights and democracy, free-market, capitalism and autonomy/individualism or a strange mixture of traditional conservatism with the instrict towards community, order, society and transcendence conflicting towards the instinctive libertarian definition of freedom and rights. Thankfully with leftists trying to separate fiscal conservatives and libertarians from traditional conservatives (even by using the big illusive boogeyman of the religious evil right who's out to get you) and traditional conservatives themselves seeing that reconciliation is difficult may things start to turn around.

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  41. CamelCaseRob,

    "They aren't trying to impose anything. Before 1960, about all of these things were FACT and LAW. All you are seeing is futile attempts by conservatives to keep things the way they were under furious assaults by the Left."

    Well, it seems to me that they are imposing, or re-imposing these things. As you mention these have been law, and law is by its nature the imposition of certain values on society under the authority of the legal system.

    The real question I am puzzling over is whether these types of laws are constitutional or not. Do they fall into the wide realm of things that are neither mandated nor forbidden by the constitution, and are therefore left to the electorate to decide?

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  42. wavevector said . . .
    The real question I am puzzling over is whether these types of laws are constitutional or not. Do they fall into the wide realm of things that are neither mandated nor forbidden by the constitution, and are therefore left to the electorate to decide?

    Yes, they are consitutional. The arguments used to claim that, say, school prayer violates the federal constitution are so contrived and absurd that nobody with an IQ above room temperature takes them seriously. To summarize, the argument is that 1) optional school prayer is "an establishment of religion" and so would violate the first amendment if the federal government did it and 2) the 14th Amendment causes (some but not all) of the first ten amendments to the federal constitution to apply also to the states.

    Each of these two claims is barking mad. Just look at them. Could a psychologically normal person consider optional school prayer to be the establishment of a state religion? Could a psychologically normal person consider that the 14th Amendment, which does not so much as mention the first ten amendments, applies those amendments to the states? The arguments are flimsy pretexts. The people who made the arguments are laughing at you for thinking they might be correct arguments.

    The US Supreme Court is a legislative body, as even uber-libertarian Robin Hanson has acknowledged. Their decisions are guided by the justices' personal views of good policy, and the constitutional arguments are made up to fit the conclusions.

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  43. Very informative post Mark (I found it through VFR). One question. Are "right-liberal" and "left liberal" the most accurate terms to describe the two sides in America? Why not "liberal" (or "classical liberal") and "leftist?"

    Is the term "leftist" an innacurate way to describe Keith Olberman, Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton, etc?

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  44. Your article has been posted on Free Republic


    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/2667979/posts

    ReplyDelete
  45. Another link here:

    http://www.mofopolitics.com/2011/02/02/sean-hannity-to-imam-anjem-choudary-youre-one-sick-miserable-evil-s-o-b/

    Imam Choudary (granted residence in Britain) takes on Sean Hannity. This imam is one of the most lecherous, barbaric, despicable individuals I have ever ever heard of. That Western countries should grant residence to such scumbags is beyond my understanding.

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  46. On the question raised in the original post, what do you mean by "the American right?" Do you mean the intellectuals who style themselves conservatives? Do you mean the population which styles itself conservative? The people who vote for the Republican party? These groups are not really identical.

    The post-WWII American right was a coalition of anti-Communists. It's wrong to think of it as having an ideological core. It was just a jumble of people who hated Communism. The coalition included libertarians, WASPy elite social democrats, businessmen, labor leaders, serious Christians, and others. There was an effort to put an kind of ideological wrapper around this hodge-podge--the wrapper was called fusionism.

    After the fall of the Soviet Union, the right has begun to decohere. A major project of the Republican Party's rhetorical foot-soldiers has been to find a new enemy to replace the Soviet Union. In the immediate aftermath of the USSR's collapse, there were a variety of replacement enemies on offer: China, Russia, Terrorism, etc. They pretty much settled on Islam after 9/11, and that has worked out reasonably well.

    In terms of the political coalition which the ideological right currently serves and tries to keep together, it is small businessmen, serious Christians, middle and upper income non-elite professionals (think accountants, corporate managers), the military-industrial complex, and, as America becomes more non-white, whites more generally.

    In terms of ideology, the chattering classes of the right are libertarians. They are palpably uncomfortable defending socially conservative positions whether on gays in the military, sex education, or anything else. It's a chore they seem to think they have to do to keep some credibility with the Christian base. Their arguments, even when directed at socially conservative ends, invariably use liberal assumptions and modes of thought (e.g. gay marriage is bad because it will lead to bad outcomes).

    If you want to understand the American right, read Paul Gottfried's books.

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  47. wavevector:
    "the separation of church and state"

    Non-establisment + freedom of religion do not amount to "separation of church and state" IMO, no matter what Jefferson wrote in a letter. And the term is misleading, it implies a French style secular Republic where the State is protected from Religion, not Religion from the State.

    The latter is what is in the US Constitution. The former is what the Leftists have sought to impose, mostly successfully.

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  48. Simon,

    "it implies a French style secular Republic where the State is protected from Religion, not Religion from the State.

    The latter is what is in the US Constitution. The former is what the Leftists have sought to impose, mostly successfully."

    Good point, and an interesting distinction. Thanks for that insight.

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  49. Bill:
    "The US Supreme Court is a legislative body, as even uber-libertarian Robin Hanson has acknowledged. Their decisions are guided by the justices' personal views of good policy, and the constitutional arguments are made up to fit the conclusions."

    As far as I (a British jurist) can tell, in doing this, in acting as Platonic Philosopher-Kings, the US Supreme Court is clearly acting both unConstitutionally and ultra vires - beyond its assigned powers.

    What I have trouble understanding is why people who do seem to respect the US Constitution, and who disagree with many of the Court's decisions, nevertheless treat those decisions/proclamations as legally valid. Do they all believe the NYT line that only the judiciary can arbitrate on Constitutionality?

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  50. Commenter Jesse wrote to me:

    "I will personally admit to having appalling grammar, but I don't believe its appropriate for a leader of the conservative movement to come out with grammar corrections as their [sic] first substantial comment on this site in some time."

    That's an interesting point. It hadn't occured to me. When I post a comment at a blog, I'm posting as an individual expressing my opinion, and my opinion carries no more authority than the opinion itself deserves. But now I realize that others may see it differently. That's something of a drag for me. I deeply care about certain grammar and usage issues. I would like to talk about them more than I actually do. But the idea that some people may see this as inappropriate behavior on my part draws me up short.

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  51. Laurence Austar,

    Sorry sir I didn't mean to be disrespectful.

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  52. No, but he did. His comment just dripped with condescension, and you were right to call him out on it. His apology rings as hollow as his original post.

    Why do you guys all cow-tow to this man, anyway? FB is right about him, as far as I can tell.

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  53. LOL. I just noticed your spelling, Jesse.

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  54. Larry mate you are a very smart bloke but get over yourself!

    Just in case that comes out the wrong way across the cultural gap let me say that the above comment here in Aussie reflects nothing but kind intentions!

    Alte I quite like VFTR despite disagreeing with Larry from time to time.

    People who write well and with insight [yourself included] have my respect and frankly deserve it regardless of other considerations.

    Which is why I have nothing but the greatest of respect for Mark.

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  55. Mr. Auster,

    I believe what you have done is entirely justifiable and I believe Mr. Richardson received it in exactly the manner you intended. What is more traditional than Western traditionalists speaking and writing in correct English whenever we can? And since split infinitives are almost never a subject entertained in the conservative blogosphere, the whine of the critics would have us never correct each other's English even when called for. I was raised with the idea that there was never an inopportune time to correct bad English. Meaning, if you can correct the bad English of those you respect then do it out of respect. That's what I see here.

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  56. Hi Mark,

    I have written to your mate Auster re: Hate Speech Imprisonment in Australia.

    You are notified.

    I await your post on the subject.

    Pat Hannagan

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  57. But the Confederates undermined the justice of their own cause by basing succession on their desire to maintain slavery.

    That's true, but the slavery argument was only used by the north because it was expedient. The north itself had slaves for many years, and Lincoln, of course, didn't give a damn about the liberty of blacks. As you pointed out with regard to Uncle Tom's Cabin, the slavery issue was used as part of an ultimately successful propaganda campaign.

    Is slavery is used as the absolute center of the moral compass, we'd have to condemn many otherwise noble pursuits throughout the great sweep of history, including the Revolution.

    We can only hope so. I am afraid that Americans have gone a bit soft.

    Without a doubt. But there are something like 330 million people in the country now, so even a relatively small fraction would be able to forge their own nation. Whether or not they have the will to do so remains to be seen. I think the coming economic collapse will force the issue in various ways.

    I hope I haven't offended anyone unnecessarily by my poor grammar. I apologize in advance, and I hope that my writing is still legible to the readership.

    You seriously need to rewrite this sentence, preferably without all the fancy words. Who are you trying to impress, anyway?

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  58. Imam Choudary (granted residence in Britain) takes on Sean Hannity. This imam is one of the most lecherous, barbaric, despicable individuals I have ever ever heard of.

    I highly recommend the documentary Britain Under Attack, in which Choudary plays a prominent part. For all his faults, he at least discards all notions of Islam being a religion of peace.

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  59. I await your post on the subject.

    Imperious as ever.

    There's something from me in your spam folder again, Mark.

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  60. Imperious as ever.

    Yes, and why shouldn't I be?

    I want Mark to post on the subject. Mark is committed to "traditonalist" Australia as he says again and again and again and again and etc

    But what will Mark write on this subject so assiduously ignored by our MSM?

    I've asked the same thing of Andrew Bolt who is currently being prosecuted for racism against Aborigines.

    You think we live in a "free society"? And Mark is defending...what?

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  61. The north itself had slaves for many years, and Lincoln, of course, didn't give a damn about the liberty of blacks.

    That's true, but Lincoln -- and many other Northerners -- hated slavery because of the economic advantage it gave to slave owners over poor whites. The South was a total banana republic, like we are today. They should have ended slavery in an orderly manner (perhaps by ending slavery for the newly born, abolishing the trading of slaves, and declaring all slaves indentured servants) before starting to fight, and that would have robbed the North of their propaganda goldmine and prevented a lot of the post-war chaos.

    It was an antiquated institution that was on its way out anyway, and they were foolish to cling to it. This is the same problem with refusing to reform yourselves that we see today. Most left-liberals are actually very conservative in their thinking, I think. They feel that they are valiantly defending their traditions and institutions that people like me are attempting to tear down. At least, that is the impression they give me when I speak with them.

    I think the coming economic collapse will force the issue in various ways.

    Indeed. The times will soon be very interesting.

    Who are you trying to impress, anyway?

    :-)

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  62. Alte wrote,

    "But the Confederates undermined the justice of their own cause by basing succession on their desire to maintain slavery. It turned their act into an unprincipled one (fighting for the freedom to hold other people as property), and gave the Unionists moral fodder for their campaign."

    This isn't quite right. You'll remember that slavery is not a sin, but in fact part of God's plan and order (Exodus 21 and elsewhere). Your comment implies that the institution of slavery itself is immoral, which places you squarely in contradiction with God's Word. It was God's provision for those who, through their own debasement, could not provide for themselves.

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  63. Also, the word "succession" is a malapropism. You meant "secession."

    Succession is normally the word we use to describe the passing of sovereignty from one authority to the next, usually between members of royalty, e.g. from king to crown prince.

    I think the German word would be Erbfolge or something similar.

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  64. Sorry, that was just a typo. I meant secession.

    Your comment implies that the institution of slavery itself is immoral, which places you squarely in contradiction with God's Word.

    No, but it implies that slavery is not in keeping with the professed foundations of America, the rights to life, liberty, and property. Now, it could be argued that the initial slaves weren't Americans, and could therefore be enslaved with impunity (as the Constitution was meant to protect American citizens, not everybody).

    But what about their descendants who were born on American soil? The slavery continued for generations. Were they nationless? What about the many mixed-race descendants, who were blood-relations of the Americans? What about the legal rights and obligations owed to concubines, that are spelled out in the Bible but were completely ignored in the American system? What about the rights slaves are supposed to have to purchase their own freedom? They were denied the meager protections even the Bible owed them because they were considered subhuman.

    It was God's provision for those who, through their own debasement, could not provide for themselves.

    Perhaps, and it is clear that it is not considered immoral to sell yourself into slavery or servitude, if you are so desperate. (Feminists would argue that is precisely what I've done by marrying in the Catholic Church.) But Jesus was speaking more of how a slave should behave to his master, not about whether we need to have slavery in order to have an Ordered Society. He also told us that if someone slaps us, we should turn the other cheek and await another slap. That doesn't mean that it's alright to go around slapping people.

    Condoning slavery is a choice each society makes, and ours chose against it -- and for good reason.

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  65. Simon in London said . . .
    What I have trouble understanding is why people who do seem to respect the US Constitution, and who disagree with many of the Court's decisions, nevertheless treat those decisions/proclamations as legally valid.

    "Treat" is the right word. For law professors, lawyers, and judges in inferior courts the answer is simple. What clients want, really, are accurate predictions of what the courts are going to do. Because the SC's composition changes slowly over time, their behavior is pretty predictable over the intermediate term. So, their body of decisions really does look a lot like a body of coherent caselaw. This gives lawyers and law professors something to do and something to have expertise in.

    On the surface, you would think that the administrative and legislative branches would have reason to reign in the court, since it is their power that the court is usurping. They do have powers which can be used to reign in the court. Here, I think it is an elites vs common man story. The people who make up the legislative and administrative branches pretend to be far to the right of their personal convictions---to get over on the rubes in the provinces. Then, they lay back while the court does their dirty work and say "What can we do?"

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  66. Bartholomew said,

    "You'll remember that slavery is not a sin, but in fact part of God's plan and order (Exodus 21 and elsewhere)"

    Where in the New Testament is slavery supported? My understanding was that people should be slaves only to God.

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  67. No, Jesus never condemned slavery, nor did he support it. Ephesians 6:5 says:

    Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ

    I suppose we have again sold ourselves into a type of slavery (indentured servitude), through the peonage system run by the banks. And we have sold our own children and even our grandchildren into slavery, in the same manner.

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  68. Alte wrote,

    "But Jesus was speaking more of how a slave should behave to his master, not about whether we need to have slavery in order to have an Ordered Society."

    No, it is no more necessary to have slavery in a well-ordered society than it is to have welfare. In a well-ordered society, people would take care of themselves such that they would not need to call on another to do it for them.

    The difference between slavery and welfare is one of power: should the helped hold power over the helper, or should the helper hold power over the helped?

    As for your other points, Alte, I'll have to look more closely in a little while.

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  69. Re the US & Slavery:

    1. The North was right to want the US to be Free & White.

    2. The South was legally entitled to secede, which would have given the North exactly that.

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  70. Far from being a contradiction, a "classical liberal" limited government (what we Americans call "conservative") and a Judeo-Christian moral order go together quite nicely.

    Indeed, American conservatives derive their distrust of big government from the same book that informs their social/moral conservatism. Here is the money quote --

    1st Samuel Chap. 8
    10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.”

    Here's your socialist checklist:
    -- forced national service for both sexes (v.11-13)
    -- "nationalization" of the economy, followed by redistribution to the ruler and his cronies (v. 14 and 16)
    -- high taxes, to benefit the ruler and his cronies, not you (v.15 and 17 - a 10% tax was considered tyrannical as only God has the right to demand that much).
    -- finally, slavery (v.17).

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  71. The difference between slavery and welfare is one of power: should the helped hold power over the helper, or should the helper hold power over the helped?

    I suppose, as a right-liberal I would say that we should only be allowed to sell ourselves into slavery (through marriage, debt, indenturing, etc.), but we shouldn't be allowed to force someone into slavery. And welfare should be handled by charity, and therefore by limited to the willing offerings of the citizenry.

    Simon,

    The North couldn't let the South go because it needed the Missisippi and the potential wealth of the West. I believe the Northern plan was to win the war and then ship all of the black people to foreign lands like Panama.

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  72. Alte, that was the purpose of the African state of Liberia where slaves were meant to be shipped after the victory of the North. There are bits of Lincoln's speeches where he actively encouraged freemen to leave the United States and settle in Africa, although I have been unable to retrieve them so far (I remember them from some history lecture).

    Anonymous, I am sceptical of the verses you quote from Samuel's First Book, I do not think they prove anything at all outside their socio-historical context (which does not mean there is no transcendence in the Old Testament, but rather that some truths are to be held eternal while other stories cannot be replicated outside their original circumstances). We should be wary of interpreting certain episodes of the Bible as if they were meant to be imitated in all circumstances. Many people could argue Jesus was a communist due to his emphasis on sharing possessions (collectivism), and we all know this a far cry from what he actually did. Perhaps, we should tread carefully here and stop seeing what we want to see in the Bible and resorting to literal interpretations which often prove not so literal when you have a closer look. Many passages have been ascribed altogether different meanings, such as the passages likening God to a female character: Ephesians 5:22-33 or Ezekiel 16:8 for instance (inter alia), which were re-used by Gnostics or later Moravians to justify their idiotic feminisation of God or Christ (in the latter's case, the side wound was made into a vagina emphasising an erotic union between the believer and Christ). This is simply an example that shows we should take care not to see the Scriptures as we would like them to be. Christ's main teachings are: love, compassion and help to one's fellow man. Slavery often appears to be the exact opposite of these. The downtrodden are also repeatedly glorified. By the way, Alte, a servant is not necessarily a slave, but the term can also apply to a person employed in the service of someone or something (government, a king or whatever). I very much doubt that the Bible provides for slavery, unless we start using convoluted sentences and interpreting them in frequently recondite ways. It does teach obedience to authority, but this is hardly the same as slavery. Many Christians embarked on a crusade against slavery throughout the 1830s in the British Empire where slavery was eventually abolished through their endeavours. This was also the case in Lincoln's Northern States. However, I do agree with Alte that slavery was already dying out when war burst out, and that it was quite unnecessary to wage war on the South for this purpose (mainly for economic reasons as Alte justly pointed out). The ongoing industrial revolution was already radically altering production patterns in a way that would soon have wiped out slavery, fulfilling Aristotle's predictions that slavery would only collapse with the advent of mechanisation.

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  73. Christ's main teachings are: love, compassion and help to one's fellow man. Slavery often appears to be the exact opposite of these.

    I agree. The Golden Rule appears to override the general indifference toward slavery. Most of us would not wish to be enslaved, so we should not enslave others. Especially not if the slavery involves mistreatment (which it generally does).

    Furthermore, Exodus clearly shows people being freed from slavery in a positive light, as something to be celebrated and honored as a gift from God. It is a net-good, that God later explicitly uses to establish his ethos for the covenant with the people of Israel. I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery

    If leaving your master is always wrong, then why did he not smite them for escaping? Clearly, self-defense is justified if you are being treated harshly by your masters, which was certainly the case in the American South. Likewise, defaulting on our debt is a type of "escape from slavery", but it could be morally justified if your masters were usurious.

    That said, I know of no NT passage that condemns slavery itself, as an institution, or that implies that owning a slave is always a sin. That is why I am cautious about not saying that "every slave owner was an evil person", as is very common today, or implying that concubinage is like rape (the Bible would not substantiate that). But I would be interested in seeing any, if one exists.

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  74. Van Wijk,

    You mentioned once before the charge that Jefferson was a rapist. I debunk that here: http://abagond.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/black-people-according-to-thomas-jefferson/#comment-75251

    Taking a concubine is -- by very definition -- not rape because she is a lesser-wife, and you cannot rape your wife. There were plenty of real rapists among the slave-owning population, without us rewriting history to make every interracial pairing into a crime.

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  75. "Pat Hannagan"

    did you seriously just come onto someone elses blog and DEMAND they write about something you want them to?

    Balls my friend, incredibly rude of course, but balls.

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  76. An Australian just got 3 years jail for hate speech...in Australia of all places!

    And you sit there endlessly moaning about feminism and "radical autonomy" as if you were at the cutting edge of great insight.

    I want to know what Mark thinks of jailing people for expressing their opinions. I want Mark to explain how this has come about in our country.

    So come on Mark, get that big academic brain of yours into gear and explain it.

    This is the third major case now with regard racial vilification in Australia. The prior two are Jones v Toben and and Dow Jones Company Inc v Gutnick. Spot any recurring themes there Mark?

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  77. Southern Cross wrote,

    "Christ's main teachings are: love, compassion and help to one's fellow man. Slavery often appears to be the exact opposite of these...a servant is not necessarily a slave...I very much doubt that the Bible provides for slavery, unless we start using convoluted sentences and interpreting them in frequently recondite ways."

    Well, you're wrong. Have you read Exodus chapter 21? You might find interesting the part which stipulates under what circumstances a "servant" should be released from bondage without paying his master.

    I don't know Hebrew, but in the Greek NT, the word "doulos" is often translated "servant" when in fact it refers to a condition we we usually call slavery: bondage to another person without compensation and without rights for a definite or indefinite period of time.

    Also, I don't know why you think slavery is incompatible with love for the slave. Remember that slaves in the OT were people who had failed to provide themselves with food, water and shelter self-defense.

    You ask how God could condemn a man to slavery just because he couldn't feed himself? Remember that if a man can't feed himself, he will die, unless another man feeds him.

    God loves not only the indigent and incompetent; he also loves the diligent and the competent. Slavery was a way that neither the indigent and incompetent should die of starvation nor the diligent and competent should have to give of his own labor without receiving anything in return.

    Under slavery, the slave received from the master what he had proved unable to provide for himself--food, water, shelter and defense--while the master received compensation for that provision from the slave's labor.

    Compare the ancient system to welfare: the welfare recipient receives from the taxpayer what he is unable to provide for himself--food, water, shelter and defense--while the taxpayer receives...nothing from the welfare recipient.

    I have trouble seeing how slavery was the more exploitative of the two.

    Actually, the old workhouses were just communalized slavery: the idle were forced to work in them, but also received their essentials. They repaid the taxpayers with their labor. Seems just to me.

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  78. The taxpayers receive a safer society from the welfare state, as the government provides bread to keep the underclass from stealing and rioting. The problem is that feeding the proles begets more proles, and then you eventually run out of other people's money.

    The essential problem with slavery is that it leaves the slave completely at the mercy of his master. The essential problem with welfare is that it leaves the productive at the the mercy of the unproductive. Just as a slave can be punished for running away, a welfare-payer can be punished for refusing to fund the system. Either way, one person or group is ruling over the other and denying them their liberty and property.

    They are mirrors of each other, but slavery seems worse to us because the damage is inflicted face-to-face. People are generally more concerned with immediate and personal abuse, rather than the delayed and impersonal kind.

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  79. Pat,

    I happen to think the story you linked to worth a post. But I'm not in a position to write posts on demand. So give it a rest.

    If you want the short version of what I think it's as follows.

    Brendon O'Connell is an anti-Semitic crank pursuing a useless form of politics. He seems to have harassed a number of Jews in Perth over a period of time.

    But he should only have been charged if he had committed an offense against a person or property, rather than what is effectively a thought crime. I do not support "racial vilificaton" laws.

    The sentence is outrageous. I could attack someone with a machete and get a lot less than three years.

    And I am angered by the double standards. The vilification of whites is rampant in my field of work. The idea of whites being evil oppressors is hammered home constantly within a government institution. But this kind of vilification is assumed to be somehow normal or acceptable.

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  80. It was an antiquated institution that was on its way out anyway, and they were foolish to cling to it.

    Yes, they should have freed the slaves and then fired on Fort Sumter, as Longstreet said in that awful movie.

    Most left-liberals are actually very conservative in their thinking, I think. They feel that they are valiantly defending their traditions and institutions that people like me are attempting to tear down. At least, that is the impression they give me when I speak with them.

    You misunderstand their nature. Talking to a liberal is essentially like talking to a schizophrenic. He will always mold his response in reaction to his interlocutor. So when a Catholic says she would like to see America become more Catholic, the liberal will thump his chest and talk about the separation of church and state, sticking to the constitution, etc. If you told him that you didn't believe in welfare or socialized medicine, he would say that the state has an obligation to take care of all its people, constitution be damned. How else do you think liberalism survives so many inconsistencies and outright contradictions?

    1. The North was right to want the US to be Free & White.

    Except freedom didn't come into the North's thinking. Power did.

    You mentioned once before the charge that Jefferson was a rapist.

    Are you sure that was me? I don't recall mentioning it.

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  81. I want to know what Mark thinks of jailing people for expressing their opinions. I want Mark to explain how this has come about in our country.

    And the identity of the "victims" in this case is just a coincidence, I'm sure.

    Don't insult our intelligence. Your (ludicrous) demands in this case are less about free speech and more about finding another cudgel with which to beat the JOOOZ.

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  82. Pat,

    At a time when the West needs some real white Supremacists, we instead get clowns like this that seemingly do not defend their actions, but still get to be seen as white supremacists. All I see is a tool that you defend as though he were representing what is really needed. No one disputes that his punishment far exceeds his "crime". And the fact that he smiled and smirked at his loss of freedom for his mere speech says what exactly? This guy barked real loud; played dead, and thus helped equate the only viable solution to the decline of the West, the white Supremacist, to another cartoon white degenerate.

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  83. Van Wijk:
    "1. The North was right to want the US to be Free & White.

    Except freedom didn't come into the North's thinking. Power did. "

    The North wanted the new States in the West to be non-slave states, with no blacks in them. They wanted them settled only by Free White men. So 'Freedom' was a factor in this sense, but apart from the abolitionist minority it wasn't freedom for black slaves they cared about. They were White Separatists in modern parlance, as opposed to the Southern White Supremacists.

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  84. @ Alte: we completely agree.

    @ Bartholomew: Well, I read: “If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing” (Exodus 21:2, KJV). This rather smacks of indentured servitude as it was practiced in the early American colonies (which would also explain why the average terms were seven years). Indentured servitude is not proper slavery; the overwhelming majority of indentured servants (except a few convicts that were a nuisance to the British Crown) were voluntary settlers who lacked the financial resources to pay for their transportation across the Pond and, therefore, offered their labour for a definite term at the end of which they would be freed and given tools and land (or, alternatively, go into tenancy which was even more frequent as land became scarcer). So, “servant” is more appropriate really, except if the Hebrew word suggests the idea of slavery, but I would not know about that. The exception in Exodus is when the servant declares his love for his master and wishes to remain in his service (Exodus 21:5, KJV), in which case it is not slavery as the latter contains the idea of bondage and coercion. By the way, there are also provisions for the welfare of servants (Exodus 21:10), if these are not fulfilled, this invalidates the whole pattern.

    Where did I write that “slavery is incompatible with love for the slave” (your words)? I wrote no such thing. I am aware of cases of good masters providing the necessities for their slaves and refraining from harsh treatment. Most certainly took care to provide enough food as it was in their interest to maintain their property. However, how many masters had sexual intercourse with female slaves? A lot if the considerable number of mulattoes is to be trusted. Someone mentioned Jefferson in a previous comment; it has been established he committed rape at least once, and likely several times, I remember some details about it from Hugh Brogan’s excellent Penguin History of the United States.

    As Alte justly pointed out, the Golden Rule is as follows: “And as ye would that men should to do, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31), and this hardly is compatible with slavery unless one has a mad inclination to live in bondage with few, if any, guarantees. You mentioned “bondage to another person without compensation and without rights for a definite or indefinite period of time”, well, it cannot be slavery if it is voluntary, can it? Since slavery implies coercion, if people deliberately enter slavery as a way to sustain themselves in the employ of a master, that is their problem, although I would not vouchsafe for the moral integrity of the slave-owner (I pass no judgment on Southern slave-owners in the nineteenth century and before as this would be obviously demonstrating anachronism, besides, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1, KJV)). Wage labour seems a much more sensible option and carries certain rights of its own, nowhere does this imply we need a gargantuan welfare state. The hint at a welfare state is wide off the mark. In a system of wage labour (let us assume there is no welfare state, and that the state is limited to its vital functions: internal and external defence, justice and diplomacy), there is a legal framework for both employers and employees laying out their respective obligations and rights while the employee is free to leave (if allowed to do so by the terms of his contract) and the employer is free to sack him if he is unhappy with his work (within the same contractual boundaries). I see absolutely no reason whatsoever to rue the death of slavery and the advent of wage labour.

    Also, as Alte pointed out, the whole idea about Exodus is that God freed the Hebrew slaves and led them out of the land of Egypt into Canaan.

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  85. Alte wrote,

    "The taxpayers receive a safer society from the welfare state, as the government provides bread to keep the underclass from stealing and rioting."

    This is like saying that slaves receive a safer society from a slavery state as the master provides slaves with bread and he refrains from abducting and kidnapping random people to satisfy his labor needs (he buys them, nice and proper, at an auction).

    Alte wrote,

    "They are mirrors of each other, but slavery seems worse to us because the damage is inflicted face-to-face. People are generally more concerned with immediate and personal abuse, rather than the delayed and impersonal kind."

    This is a good point. I think the other major difference between slavery and welfare is the ease by which the exploited could become the exploiter. Any corporate stiff who would brave a trailer park or a project can quit working and go on welfare. It's much harder for a slave to become a master.

    For a liberal, to whom power in any relationship is the Most Important Thing, that's what makes slavery illegitimate and welfare legitimate.

    For a conservative, to whom power in a relationship is one of many considerations, the argument that slavery is so much worse than welfare is far less compelling.

    Thanks for the engaging conversation, Alte.

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  86. Simon in London wrote,

    "They were White Separatists in modern parlance, as opposed to the Southern White Supremacists."

    This is true, or at least it's what I learned in college a couple of years ago.

    What you call "White Separatists" called themselves "Free Soilers", by which they meant that no slaves should live on Western soil. The History professor was very quick to point out that by "no slaves", the free soilers really meant "no blacks".

    He might just have been looking for another reason to accuse our ancestors of some moral fault, but I wouldn't be surprised to find he was right about the Free Soilers' preference for their own kind. That's generally the way everyone wants to live.

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  87. Van Wijk,
    I can't find the comment anymore, so I must be mistaken. Sorry for the confusion, but I think the link was pertinent anyway.

    Bartholomew,

    I agree with you, welfare is essentially protection money. We pay them not to rob us, murder us, and rape us. Unfortunately, I think we will see more of all three as the welfare state collapses.

    I'd never given the subject of slavery much thought before, so I also found this conversation very interesting.

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  88. The North wanted the new States in the West to be non-slave states, with no blacks in them. They wanted them settled only by Free White men. So 'Freedom' was a factor in this sense, but apart from the abolitionist minority it wasn't freedom for black slaves they cared about.

    If the abolitionists were in the minority as you say, they were a very influential minority. Otherwise, Lincoln would not have made the Emancipation Proclamation or the speech in 1865 in which he advocated suffrage for some blacks. Moreover, the presidents of the American Colonization Society (founded in 1816), which advocated emigration back to Africa, were overwhelmingly Southern slave-owners, and they were attacked by the abolitionists as such.

    I don't doubt that you are correct regarding the attitude of Northerners, but the abolitionists had firm control of the narrative by the time of the war, and they were for suffrage and against emigration. The reality of Lincoln's motivations for making war on the South (i.e. the consolidation of Federal power) cannot be denied. He saw a chance to co-opt abolitionist fervor and took it.

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  89. Mark,

    Thank you for your reply and thank you for allowing my comments to remain.

    In sum we agree.

    I would say that Mr O'Connell is a proponent of Palestinians and Mid East Muslims excluding Persians which, he correctly points out, are Semitic. In that regard it is incorrect to call him "anti-Semitic". Anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli would be accurate. It is interesting to note that the law in WA recognises Jews as a race and not a religion, thus Mr O'Connell could be charged since the law there does not involve itself with religious vilification as far as I am aware.

    Mr O'Connell also, from what I have ascertained through my brief reading of his blog, is an "anti-racist" and as such opposes Israel and the Jews on those grounds. Yes, it's a funny and strange world we live in to be sure, where 'anti-racists' are charged with racial vilification.

    Given the details of the trial and his writings at his blog I would regard Mr O'Connell as what is colloquially called " a bit ratty". Certainly anyone who represents himself at law is setting himself for disaster.

    If anything, it appears to me that Mr O'Connell requires more a mental assessment than incarceration for his behaviour. Which compounds the vicious nature of these charges and the extraordinarily harsh sentence which, the Jewish "victim" stated, was not enough to satisfy his sense of grievance. I also note that that "victim" wanted the outcome to be a "warning" to the rest of the Australian population.

    It perplexes me profoundly that this matter has barely made the light of day in our MSM. I recall that Tim Blair intitially posted on the matter as it arose at the time. Mr Blair also posted Mr O'Connell's videos to demonstrate the evil anti-Semite in all his inglory. Yet not a peep out of Mr Blair now.

    It also puzzles me that Australians are indifferent to these matters in general. The time has arrived where ones thoughts and their expression are now a criminal matter that will result in jail sentencing much longer than one would expect for common assault, as you perspicaciously point out Mark.

    Puzzling I say but what I really mean is a deep despair at what this country has become. Yes, I know I rage and abuse but, the alternative is far worse than defeat.

    Last Thursday was the feast day of St Blaise, patron Saint of throat illness and perhaps, speaking out.

    Anyway, let me reiterate, thank you for your patience.

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  90. Thordaddy, we had this conversation at M4 Monologue and as I stated there, I do not understand your theory of "supremacy".

    I am not a White Supremacist. I do not maintain that White people are superior to all other races. I do not believe that other races, including the Jews, deserve evil, nor do I believe they are inferior.

    I am a White Nationalist. I repeat, NOT a supremacist. I know the MSM termed Mr O'Connell a "white supremacist" but that is typical media distortion and manipulation. As I stated above, a quick perusal of his blog and the statements he made in court demonstrate that Mr O'Connell is in fact an "anti-racist". Yes, the matter is made even more bizarre for these facts.

    We agree that Mr O'Connell has presented himself as a sandwich short of a picnic in court. Perhaps that is why the MSM has downplayed this matter. No one wants to see people bordering on the fringes of sanity jailed but rather, assisted.

    I repeat my offer to you Thordaddy that should you write a post detailing your supremacist theory then I will post it. I am genuinely interested in it though I don't understand it. I do know and understand the mainstream and dictionary meaning of the term "supremacist" though. I am not that nor are the majority WN like me.

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  91. I am not sure if this one went through so please excuse me if this is a double post.

    Mark,

    Thank you for your reply and thank you for allowing my comments to remain.

    In sum we agree.

    I would say that Mr O'Connell is a proponent of Palestinians and Mid East Muslims excluding Persians which, he correctly points out, are Semitic. In that regard it is incorrect to call him "anti-Semitic". Anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli would be accurate. It is interesting to note that the law in WA recognises Jews as a race and not a religion, thus Mr O'Connell could be charged since the law there does not involve itself with religious vilification as far as I am aware.

    Mr O'Connell also, from what I have ascertained through my brief reading of his blog, is an "anti-racist" and as such opposes Israel and the Jews on those grounds. Yes, it's a funny and strange world we live in to be sure, where 'anti-racists' are charged with racial vilification.

    Given the details of the trial and his writings at his blog I would regard Mr O'Connell as what is colloquially called " a bit ratty". Certainly anyone who represents himself at law is setting himself for disaster.

    If anything, it appears to me that Mr O'Connell requires more a mental assessment than incarceration for his behaviour. Which compounds the vicious nature of these charges and the extraordinarily harsh sentence which, the Jewish "victim" stated, was not enough to satisfy his sense of grievance. I also note that that "victim" wanted the outcome to be a "warning" to the rest of the Australian population.

    It perplexes me profoundly that this matter has barely made the light of day in our MSM. I recall that Tim Blair intitially posted on the matter as it arose at the time. Mr Blair also posted Mr O'Connell's videos to demonstrate the evil anti-Semite in all his inglory. Yet not a peep out of Mr Blair now.

    It also puzzles me that Australians are indifferent to these matters in general. The time has arrived where ones thoughts and their expression are now a criminal matter that will result in jail sentencing much longer than one would expect for common assault, as you perspicaciously point out Mark.

    Puzzling I say but what I really mean is a deep despair at what this country has become. Yes, I know I rage and abuse but, the alternative is far worse than defeat.

    Last Thursday was the feast day of St Blaise, patron Saint of throat illness and perhaps, speaking out.

    Anyway, let me reiterate, thank you for your patience.

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  92. I wouldn't use the term supremacist either.

    The term is used in the media because of the leftist assumption that whites invented the concept of a white race in order to enjoy a privilege at the expense of others.

    Therefore, leftists assume that a white who continues to defend the existence of the "false category" of the white race does so in order to continue to enjoy an undeserved privilege - a supremacy - over those who have been othered or excluded.

    Again, we should not accept the leftist frame here. Our task is to break the frame.

    The leftist theory is bunkum and we should attack it as such.

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  93. Mark, this is the third time I've posted this, which I'm not complaining about, just that it may be blocked because of a link (to St Blaise on wiki) which I've now deleted.

    Thank you for your reply and thank you for allowing my comments to remain.

    In sum we agree.

    I would say that Mr O'Connell is a proponent of Palestinians and Mid East Muslims excluding Persians which, he correctly points out, are Semitic. In that regard it is incorrect to call him "anti-Semitic". Anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli would be accurate. It is interesting to note that the law in WA recognises Jews as a race and not a religion, thus Mr O'Connell could be charged since the law there does not involve itself with religious vilification as far as I am aware.

    Mr O'Connell also, from what I have ascertained through my brief reading of his blog, is an "anti-racist" and as such opposes Israel and the Jews on those grounds. Yes, it's a funny and strange world we live in to be sure, where 'anti-racists' are charged with racial vilification.

    Given the details of the trial and his writings at his blog I would regard Mr O'Connell as what is colloquially called " a bit ratty". Certainly anyone who represents himself at law is setting himself for disaster.

    If anything, it appears to me that Mr O'Connell requires more a mental assessment than incarceration for his behaviour. Which compounds the vicious nature of these charges and the extraordinarily harsh sentence which, the Jewish "victim" stated, was not enough to satisfy his sense of grievance. I also note that that "victim" wanted the outcome to be a "warning" to the rest of the Australian population.

    It perplexes me profoundly that this matter has barely made the light of day in our MSM. I recall that Tim Blair intitially posted on the matter as it arose at the time. Mr Blair also posted Mr O'Connell's videos to demonstrate the evil anti-Semite in all his inglory. Yet not a peep out of Mr Blair now.

    It also puzzles me that Australians are indifferent to these matters in general. The time has arrived where ones thoughts and their expression are now a criminal matter that will result in jail sentencing much longer than one would expect for common assault, as you perspicaciously point out Mark.

    Puzzling I say but what I really mean is a deep despair at what this country has become. Yes, I know I rage and abuse but, the alternative is far worse than defeat.

    Last Thursday was the feast day of St Blaise (see wikipedia), patron Saint of throat illness and perhaps, speaking out.

    Anyway, let me reiterate, thank you for your patience.

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  94. Van Wijk:
    "The reality of Lincoln's motivations for making war on the South (i.e. the consolidation of Federal power) cannot be denied"

    Ultimately Lincoln made war on the southern Secessionists in order to prevent Secession. The main thing, the overriding thing for him, was to hold together the USA. No secession, no war.

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  95. Pat Hannagan,

    The problem with being a white nationalist is that it just isn't good enough. There is nothing inherent in white nationalism that rejects the mechanism of radical liberalism, i.e., an all-accepting indiscriminancy... Nondiscrimination and tolerance. To exist tolerantly nondiscriminate is the essence of radical autonomy and the surest path to self-annihilation. It is the antithesis of striving towards Supremacy. But if you have no such belief in Supremacy then you shall "strive" for equality; or, shall we say, "anti-Supremacy?"

    Ask yourself, "Why would I not want to be a white Supremacist?"

    Because Supremacy = degeneracy and white Supremacists are degenerates. But is it their whiteness or belief in Supremacy that makes it so?

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  96. To tell you the truth Thordaddy I am having a hard time of late caring about White people at all.

    I am first and foremost a Catholic.

    I do not care for race when it comes to Christ and our Communion. However, I do understand that just as Christ first came to the people of Israel with His message so too we should look to our people.

    Just as when Christ was rejected by His people, His salvation became universal, so too do I act.

    I wish that White people would firstly look to Christ but, failing that, (they are my people) look to their family and find something there to preserve and nurture.

    Failing biology I have no answer.

    The only supremacy I know of is Christ.

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  97. Pat Hannagan,

    There is the radical liberal's notion of "white supremacy" and then there is REAL "white" Supremacy. The former uses "racism" as euphemism and equates such beliefs with degeneracy. The latter is for those "whites" with belief in Supremacy qua Supremacy. There is no Hegelian thesis/antithesis or the self-refuting notion that striving for Supremacy is equal to being degenerate. The radical liberal - when pressed on which part of "white Supremacy" he takes issue with - is forced to deny Supremacy so as to not give indication that he is anti-white TOO! He is an anti-white Supremacist, first and foremost. Almost all liberationists (devout dykes, radical homosexuals, jihadists, anarchists, autonomists) are anti-white Supremacists. They will simultaneously deny the existence of real white Supremacists while relentlessly parading white degenerates in the media as prime examples of "white supremacy." They follow this protocol for a very simple reason. A real white Supremacist is much more powerful than a radical autonomist and represents the radical liberal's greatest and most unrelenting foe.

    Again Pat...

    Why would you NOT WANT TO BE a white Supremacist?

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  98. Mark, thanks for a thought-provoking post. I've stood on your shoulders and written one of my own that leverages your work here.

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  99. Social conservatism in America has really risen in response to the left's attempts(since the 1960's) to upend American society. It was the taking of God out of school(against the will of most Americans) that helped the homeschooling and voucher movements to take off. It was the 1973 Roe vs Wade decision where abortion went from largely illegal to legal with almost no restrictions that helped the pro-life movement take off. It was socially liberal judges giving simple slaps on the wrists to criminals that led to a great jump in death penalty support from the late 1960's on(rise in support from 42% to about 70% currently). There was no real religious right in pre-1965America. It was the radical left's agenda that led to a backlash and the rise of the social conservative movement.
    I have a question for you. What about the Australian public? Where do most of them stand on issues like the death penalty, abortion, school prayer, and gun control? Is there a mass social conservative movement there or are they viewed as outcasts like in western europe?

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  100. Anon, I think we're somewhere in the middle.

    The Australian working-class has become quite conservative and Australian politicians can't afford to come across as too radically liberal.

    But we don't have the movements you described, such as a homeschool movement, here in Australia.

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