Saturday, August 19, 2017

Jordan Peterson and the Bible



As many of you are aware, I have been watching the series by Jordan Peterson, The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories.  I have written a couple of posts commenting on certain statements made by Peterson and insights gleaned by me.

With this post, I will capture several different tidbits, taken from several of the videos.  I am focused on his points about culture, albeit he makes dozens of other equally insightful points.  I do not attempt to cite Peterson word for word; I merely attempt to capture the substance. 

I will not link to each video separately; I suggest that if you find the following of interest, take the time and watch the videos…which will take a real commitment, as the total runs about 25 hours.

I must say up front, this experience has been eye-opening for me.  Not so much for what I am learning (although this is extremely valuable), but because of how I have not considered these early chapters of the Bible previously.

What do I mean?  The Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the Flood, Abraham, the Tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah…I am not sure to describe how I considered these people and events.  I know how I didn’t consider these; I didn’t consider these in the way presented by Peterson.

And, like a few other moments in my intellectual and emotional life, I immediately went through an “aha” moment almost from Peterson’s first words.

Whether one believes these stories and events are the Word of God, infallible and literal history, or whether one believes these stories and events capture an oral tradition going back countless millennia…in either case, it was kind of stupid of me to believe that there weren’t some tremendously important meanings in these stories beyond the surface.

If it is God speaking, why didn’t I expect more?  If it is man capturing oral tradition going back tens of thousands of years, why wouldn’t I expect something more?

Finally…it seems reasonable for me to suggest: Peterson’s views on the value of culture to civil society, the value of maintaining culture in order to avoid tyranny…let’s just say he is eminently more qualified than I am to make such points.  More to the point: he is eminently more qualified on this topic than any mouthpiece on the left (to include left-libertarians).

Of course, the Cultural Marxists understand this.  Then again, I may be biased as I find his views and my views overlap considerably.

From Peterson:

When you are going through a book like the Bible and you come across a phrase that you don’t understand, that actually means you missed something.  It doesn’t mean that that’s not germane to the story…it means you’re stupid.

This is clear to me now.

What is interesting is that the “something more,” as explained by Peterson, fits very nicely into my views of the importance of culture and tradition.  Whether you believe this history is handed down from God or from man’s dawn of time, this is probably important.  Not important because it matches my views; important because of the source – either source: God or tradition.

Being critical of the culture is OK if your objective is to separate the wheat from the chaff; not OK if your intent is to burn the entire field.

In all views of what is described today as the left: from Gramsci and the Cultural Marxists to the left-libertarians, this is their intent: to burn the entire field.

Destroy a culture and you will end up with tyranny.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Jeffrey Tucker for National Review



Your reaction to the title is telling….I will get to this shortly.

I am going on a bit of a Jeffrey Tucker run.  I came across his article on the event in Charlottesville (which I covered here), which then led me to some other recent work of his.

Tucker asks: Do You Know What a Nation Is?   Of course, being a reasonably subjective concept, I think there will never be a precise answer.  Tucker still goes looking for one.  He wrote this on the occasion of the recent July 4 anniversary.  This reason I mention this will be apparent shortly.

Tucker outlines five theories of “nation,” taken from an 1882 essay by “the great French historian Ernst Renan”:

·        Dynasty: begins with family and tribe, kin – becoming king.  Marriages, wars, treaties and alliances. 
·        Religion: a common faith.
·        Race: biological characteristics.
·        Language
·        Geography

Tucker dismisses them all.  I am not kidding.  While the idea of nation is certainly subjective, we at least know some of the variables that define it.  Each of the five listed above, to varying degrees, can – and has and still does – play a role.

Can we identify any single factor to account for people’s sense of attachment to a political community?

This is a question designed to dismiss all of the ways by which “nation” is to be found.  Of course the answer is “no.”  Only a simpleton would think in this manner.  Tucker is no simpleton; therefore it seems he believes his audience is made up of simpletons. 

Tucker holds each of these five to an impossible standard.  He is looking for one single characteristic that will explain this most complex social relationship.  Can’t be done.

But he does!

In Renan’s view, nationhood is a spiritual principle, a reflection of the affections we feel toward some kind of political community – its ideals, its past, its achievements, and its future. Where your heart is, there is your nation.

But somehow, family, religion, race, language and geography can play no role? 

So, what does Tucker describe as the ideal “nation” scenario?

This is why so many of us can feel genuine feelings of joy and even belongingness during July 4th celebrations.

One of the most war-mongering, state-worshipping holidays (yes, a holy day); this is Tucker’s ideal.

It is all about affections of the heart, which appear without compulsion and exist prior to and far beyond any loyalties to a particular dynasty, regime, or anything else.

This could have been written at the National Review.

I have seen these affections of the heart – at every sports event, every holiday celebration.  There is nothing of peace or freedom to be found in these.  The most massive, coercive government ever known in the west that has indoctrinated its citizens from youth through adulthood; this group of people has come to this feeling “without compulsion”?

Conclusion

You cannot replace something with nothing.  Tucker finds nation in something other than family, religion, race, language or geography; in other words, something outside of a common culture.  This is the work of Antonio Gramsci and of the Frankfurt School of Cultural Marxists that followed him.

What will replace this common culture?  Tucker believes this will be replaced by “feelings of joy” and “affections of the heart.”

Folly.  Destroy a culture and you get tyranny.  If the 20th century didn’t teach Tucker this, let’s just say that the non-compulsive compulsive state education and propaganda machine did its work well on him.

You cannot replace something with nothing.  All Tucker is left with is state worship. 

He says so himself.  On the fourth of July.

Epilogue

Ernst Renan gave a lecture in 1882: What is a Nation?  Some interesting quotes:

Nature has made a race of workers, the Chinese race, who have wonderful manual dexterity and almost no sense of honor... A race of tillers of the soil, the Negro; treat him with kindness and humanity, and all will be as it should; a race of masters and soldiers, the European race.

Interesting, for someone who, according to Tucker, believes race plays no role in nation.

Some other quotes:

Communism is in conflict with human nature.

Tell that to the left.

All history is incomprehensible without Christ.

While Renan’s views on Christ differ from mine, nonetheless I agree fully with this statement.

But…religion has nothing to do with nation.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Religious Fanatics




The Buddhas of Bamiyan were 4th- and 5th-century monumental statues of standing buddha carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, 230 kilometres (140 mi) northwest of Kabul at an elevation of 2,500 metres (8,200 ft). Built in 507 CE (smaller) and 554 CE (larger), the statues represented the classic blended style of Gandhara art. They were 35 and 53 meters tall, respectively.

They were dynamited and destroyed in March 2001 by the Taliban, on orders from leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, after the Taliban government declared that they were idols.

Information and Culture Minister Qadratullah Jamal told Associated Press of a decision by 400 religious clerics from across Afghanistan declaring the Buddhist statues against the tenets of Islam. "They came out with a consensus that the statues were against Islam," said Jamal.

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Curiouser and Curiouser



I refer to my post describing the extremely high traffic volumes at my site at the time I wrote about the dust-up between Google and James Damore.

As many of you are aware, shortly after this firing of Damore, he was interviewed by Jordan Peterson.  Now, I am watching his video series of Biblical lectures, specifically Bible Series X: Abraham: Father of Nations.

This series of lectures was given, one per week, in Toronto during this summer – 2017.  So, in the aforementioned lecture, he begins by telling of his day (the lectures are given in the evening).  Earlier that day, Peterson was blocked out of his gmail account and youtube.  He was told by Google that he violated the terms of usage.

To summarize, access was again granted (after some back and forth between him and the company), with no explanation as to any of it.

As best as I can tell, this block-out happened around the time that Damore’s memo became known publicly (with obvious influences from Peterson, as gpond noted), but perhaps before he was interviewed by Peterson. The video of the lecture was uploaded August 8; the video of the interview was uploaded August 9.

In any case, just an interesting tidbit…or, perhaps something more.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Open Borders for Israel



I have a proposition for those libertarians who support open borders.  Write a defense of your thesis regarding the nation-state of Israel.  Make it convincing.  Get it published at one or more of the sites that regularly pound the table for open borders.

If the theory is valid and universal – as is claimed by many, if not all, of you true for libertarian theory – you must find a credible application for Israel.

I am challenging specifically:

Jacob Hornberger
Sheldon Richman
Steven Horwitz
Jeffrey Tucker

The sites to which your defense should be posted include:

Cato
Foundation for Economic Education
Future of Freedom Foundation
Reason
Bleeding Heart Libertarians

So, the issue at hand: write your defense of open borders for Israel.  Publish it at one of the several sites that has no fear advocating for open borders.