The mag’s 2006 election statement, endorsement, whatever you want to call it, plus material from our Nov. 6 issue — including Jim Antle on the year of the Black Republican and Jesse Walker on Timothy Leary’s long, strange trip from Harvard to the Weathermen to … National Review?
Archive for October 2006
First the Cards win the World Series and now St. Louis is ranked the most dangerous city in America. Detroit, once again, is #2.
Gene Callahan consults Eric Voegelin for insight into the Bush administration and its ideological supporters:
Since the Gnostic is, like the Blues Brothers, “on a mission from God,” like Jake and Elwood he is not constrained by the moral rules that apply to the non-elect. Voegelin says, “Types of action which in the real world would be considered as morally insane because of the real effects which they have will be considered moral in the dream world because they intended an entirely different effect.” The ongoing train wreck that Iraqi society has become was the predictable and often predicted result of the US-British invasion of the country. But the promoters of the disaster accept no guilt for their role in bringing about the present, horrible situation, because in their dream world they intended a quite different outcome. “No one,” they protest, “could have foreseen the actual course of events,” while ignoring the fact that many people did foresee it, at least in its broad outlines.
Today, at last, the force of reality is beginning to compel them to acknowledge that their grand adventure in Iraq has gone terribly astray. But many neocons are still not willing to concede that therefore launching the war was a mistake. A popular dodge is to ask their critics, “So, you’d prefer it if Hussein was still in power, still oppressing the Iraqi people?”
Well, if I could have magically ended Hussein’s tyranny in a way that wouldn’t have made life even worse for those I sought to help, I would have done so. Unfortunately, as the past three years demonstrate, it was quite possible to depose him in a way that makes the average Iraqi nostalgic for “the good old days” of Saddam’s reign of despicable but limited violence. Traditional western morality rejects the notion that an actor’s “good intentions” alone are enough to absolve him from blame for the consequences of his actions, insisting that he also has an obligation to prudently consider the probable effects of the options he is contemplating. But in the Gnostic dream world, it is morally irrelevant if the “beneficiaries” of your assistance wind up significantly and predictably in worse shape than they would have been had you simply left them alone. What matters is that in your dream everything was scheduled to come out fine, and you are righteous solely based on your admirable intentions.
I’m Voegelin-deficient, by the way, having read none of his major works. I oughta remedy that in the next year or so.
Good profile (from a few years back) of the historian Lee Congdon in the James Madison University Magazine. Congdon meanwhile profiles George Kennan in the forthcoming issue of The American Conservative — he has a book on Kennan on the way, too.
Here’s Congdon’s unabashedly intelletualist defense of baseball:
“Baseball is a far more interesting game than, say, football and basketball, which are merely mass spectacles — games for the unthinking masses who simply look for circuses,” he says. “So many things happen on the diamond, and it takes time to learn to look for them. Moreover, baseball is the most historical of games. Part of the pleasure it gives derives from knowing its history,” he adds.
The American Conservative is in the market for an assistant editor. Must be broadly sympathetic to the magazine’s positions and conversant with the world of ideas. Excellent literary and journalist skills are essential.
If that sounds like you, send an email to our executive editor, Kara Hopkins, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your resume and us know what your salary needs are. (Keep in mind that journalism is, of course, not a very lucrative profession.)
over at 2Blowhards, with some of the best stuff saved for last. Like this:
2B: Can you tell me some good things about the following words, with which many people have bad associations: Anarchy. Reactionary. Isolationism.
BK: Anarchy is the absence of government coercion. It implies nothing about one’s religious or social views; indeed, the most convincing anarchists have been Christians: Dorothy Day, Tolstoy. I prefer to let people, working voluntarily and in small groups with their neighbors, tend to their own affairs, without the state and its credentialed experts bossing ‘em around.
I call myself a front-porch anarchist (when I’m not calling myself a Jeffersonian, a localist, a decentralist, a small-town populist, an Upstate regionalist). I’ll also happily answer to reactionary radical. That is, I cherish the old principles of ’76. Liberty. Rural life. Peace. Small-scale community. The flag of the coiled rattlesnake.
An isolationist is simply one who wishes the U.S. government to refrain from military involvement abroad. I never could figure out why this is an epithet. Why are isolationists, who oppose killing foreigners, considered xenophobes, while those who favor killing foreigners are humanitarians?
The Times runs an excerpt of Tom Bower’s tabloid take on the life of Conrad Black. There’s pathos:
“Do you think you can get a group of people together if the need arises,” he asked one billionaire, “and get me some funds secured against my property?” “How much do you want from everyone, Conrad?” asked the businessman.
“About $1m each,” said Black.
There was a pause. “You’re my best friend,” continued Black. “Surely you can lend me $1m?”
“Well, Conrad,” said the man, “what’s my private telephone number?”
“I don’t know,” replied Black. “Why?”
“Well, if I were your best friend, you’d have it.”
Inveterate pessimist that I am, I sympathize with the dying George Black’s words to Conrad:
“Life is hell,” he told his son as they awaited the doctor. “Most people are bastards, and everything is bullshit.”