In the introduction to Ayn Rand’s book “Philosophy: Who Needs It” heir to her intellectual estate Leonard Peikoff wrote “Ayn Rand was not only a novelist and philosopher; she was also a salesman for philosophy–the greatest salesman philosophy has ever had.” Boy was she ever. The first of her writings I read was the title essay of her book “For the New Intellectual.” Her nutshell compression of philosophic history in terms of Attila and the Witch Doctor immediately oriented me to the fact that if I wanted to understand the world’s problems and by implication, their solutions, I must look at philosophy. And so I did. [Read more →]
By Mike N · March 9th, 2014 11:21 am
By Mike N · December 22nd, 2013 1:11 pm
The Thursday 12/19 Detroit News carried an editorial by Reynolds Farley who once conducted the Detroit Area Study at the University of Michigan. Titled “The often-overlooked roots of Detroit’s bankruptcy” it looks at these ‘roots’ only in terms of details, of concrete particulars as if no underlying principles were involved. This detail caused that detail which in turn led to this other detail. But no one asks the obvious question: “What gave rise to the first detail?” [Read more →]
By Mike N · November 30th, 2013 10:17 am
Gary North, former staff economist for Ron Paul, has a blog called Tea Party Economist in which he posts links to current political and economic news. His latest posting carries an article on Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s claim that the Democrats will win in 2014 because they will stand solidly behind the Affordable Care Act aka ObamaCare. For those who don’t know, Ms. Schultz is the national chairwoman of the Democrat Party. [Read more →]
By Mike N · November 1st, 2013 7:07 pm
I normally post on editorials or news stories in the media but today I want to post on an excellent letter to the editor in the Nov 1st Detroit News titled “blame the media” by Walter Konarzevski. It’s in response to an editorial by News editor Nolan Finley criticizing the White House press core’s way overdue ability to criticize the President. [Read more →]
By Mike N · October 27th, 2013 12:48 pm
Ever since Detroit filed for bankruptcy in July of this year there has been a flood of articles in the media on the suggested causes of Detroit’s demise and almost as many on suggested solutions. The solutions invariably call for more of the same poison that made Detroit sick in the first place: a political institution, city government, trying to provide economic services–something the marketplace is supposed to provide if left free to do so.
Let’s remember that government is force. It has nothing to offer citizens except the management of force. It is not an economic entity. It cannot provide anyone with economic benefits unless it takes them from some citizens and doles them out to other citizens. On net balance the city does not gain anything. [Read more →]
By Myrhaf · October 13th, 2013 12:33 am
I watched a fascinating movie, Caesar’s Messiah, based on the book by Joseph Atwill. Atwill’s thesis is not just that Jesus did not exist, but that he was created as propaganda by writers close to the Roman Emperor Titus Flavius. The author explains his argument here.
I should confess here that not only have I not read Atwill’s book, but I have not read the Bible (though I did once search the Old Testament for the dirty parts). As a lifelong atheist, the Bible has always seemed like a tedious waste of time to read. Since there is no evidence for the existence of God, why read a bunch of lies about this supernatural being?
I laughed at one wag who, when asked if he had read the Bible, said “No, but I saw the movie.” I have used the line a few times myself, but I shouldn’t, because I have not even seen the movie. So the reader can dismiss me as biased and ignorant. Fine. You’re free to leave.
Now that I have admitted my ignorance, let me give you my uninformed opinion. Atwill’s movie convinced me maybe 40%. I have some big objections that I will raise below.
The most interesting part of Atwill’s argument is the parallels between Josephus’s account of The Wars of the Jews and the gospels. Jesus’s life follows Titus’s exploits in Palestine step by step, like a bizarre parody of the general’s war. The parallels are too numerous to be a coincidence.
My problems with Atwill’s argument are first that the Roman creation of Jesus has a dual purpose, satire and propaganda. This is an uneasy coupling. Only a state propagandist of genius could transcend the seriousness and mediocrity that usually come with his profession. A writer would be wise to pick either satire or propaganda, but to combine the two only weakens both.
Second, Atwill contends that the Romans also created Saul/Paul as a fictitious character. It would take further genius to come up with all those letters Paul wrote, and to get into his point of view so thoroughly. I can see how “Render unto Caesar” serves Roman interests, but not some of the other tenets of Christianity, such as Paul’s attacks on reason. Only a sincere, serious mystic could have written what is attributed to Paul. Moreover, Paul’s lack of details about Christ’s life make it seem as if he wrote before the gospels were written, and was ignorant of those fables.
Third, I believe there are mentions of Jesus and the Christians that predate the Flavians.
The Caesar’s Messiah thesis is a fun intellectual game, but I doubt it will persuade the faithful.
UPDATE: I don’t want to end on such a flippant note; the political and philosophic issues involved are profound. If Atwill is right, then Christianity began as a project by a totalitarian state to keep its subjects obedient. This is stunning. As the the 21st century progresses, I believe we will see that religion is still the greatest tool the ruling class has to keep people obedient.
By Mike N · September 22nd, 2013 9:33 pm
On the editorial page of the Sunday 9/22 Detroit Free Press is a local commentary purporting to show “6 conservative reasons for Common Core” by two conservatives. They are identified as “Chester E. Finn jr. and Michael J. Petrilli are, respectively, president and executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a right-of-center education policy think tank. Finn served in the Reagan administration. Petrilli served in the George W. Bush administration. Both are affiliated with the Hoover Institution.”
Obviously these gentlemen are neocons, liberals who couldn’t stand the consistency of the leftists in their political circles. But that is beside my main point. The entire article is based on the premise that the responsibility for education lies with the government instead of the market. This in turn is based on a more sinister premise: that your child belongs to the state. It talks about how “Michigan has been lauded for its education reform efforts…” “Michigan” here means Michigan government not Michigan citizens. Let’s remember government is force. It forces kids to attend and forces citizens to pay for the education of their kids as well as the kids of others. [Read more →]
By Myrhaf · September 11th, 2013 1:17 pm
Obama’s Syrian fiasco has been an appalling spectacle of a President who does not seem to think that attacking a country demands serious thought and preparation. Stuart Rothenberg of Roll Call runs down the highlights:
First the president of the United States draws a red line, promising action if it is crossed. Then, when Syria crosses the line, he prepares for action, saying that absolutely, positively, a military response is necessary.
Then, at the last minute, he apparently changes his mind and figures that passing the buck to Congress to authorize military action is a good idea. But, of course, he won’t say what he’ll do if Congress fails to authorize action. Then, after his secretary of state seeks to mollify those worried about a full-scale war by promising that the U.S. military response would be “unbelievably small,” the president responds that “the U.S. does not do pinpricks.”
Is this an Abbott and Costello comedy routine? A Peter Sellers movie about an inept political leader?
One could go on listing the contradictions and confusions of Obama’s Syria “policy.” The interesting question is: why? Why is Obama doing this in the first place and why is he so laughably inept? Here are a few thoughts.
By Mike N · June 24th, 2013 8:23 am
I almost fell off my chair yesterday 6/23 when I read an oped by James Hill, the politics editor at the left wing Detroit Free Press titled “Why I Carry: why having a firearm is like having insurance.” This is strangely unlike the usual editorial policy of the Freep. Normally the paper is teeming with editorials, opeds and LTEs calling for more gun control, a euphemism for people control. [Read more →]
By Mike N · March 27th, 2013 5:51 pm
I have spent most of my 70 years living in and outside of Detroit. I’ve watched it go from a booming town to a near ghost town with jobs and people and of course money, leaving for greener pastures. In its earlier years if there was a problem, there was no problem. Somebody would step up examine the problem and fix it. Detroit’s leaders never feared facing a dilemma and tackling it. [Read more →]
By Jim May · January 25th, 2013 2:03 am
“How should men best live together?” — Aristotle, The Politics
This is the basic question that Aristotle took to be the beginning of politics, the first and basic question which gives rise to the field. Until recently, I thought so as well — until I realized the error involved. There is another question that comes before this one, but which almost no one even knows is there to be asked.
By Inspector · January 3rd, 2013 2:18 pm
Before the blood had even dried from the Sandy Hook mass murder, the control-freaks in the media and Washington were already screeching for new laws to infringe and destroy our right to keep and bear arms, and with it, our right to self defense. Others have already detailed the ways in which their proposed laws are immoral – stripping the innocent of their right to defend themselves, without trial or conviction – and impractical – because criminals and the insane simply do not listen to such laws (i.e. Sandy Hook was already legally declared a “gun free zone.” And we see how well that worked.).
But I’d like to take a moment to examine the fact that the gun control-freaks’ laws are not only immoral and impractical, but also stupid.
By Mike N · January 1st, 2013 10:12 am
The Dec 28th 2012 Detroit News carried two opeds on gun control, one by Charles Krauthammer and one by Clarence Page. While Mr. Page blames the NRA and Mr. Krauthammer blames Hollywood, neither gentlemen focus on a mindless injustice that certainly contributed to such horrific events as Sandy Hook. I’m talking about the absurd practice of putting up signs that read ‘gun free zone.’ [Read more →]
By Myrhaf · January 1st, 2013 4:19 am
Well, my kitchen is clean, which means I’m avoiding novel writing. (I have only one resolution this year: at least 1,000 words a day, which is 4 pp.) Let me put it off a little longer by writing my first blog post of 2013.
What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on Earth, the belief that our destiny is shared — (cheers, applause) — that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations, so that the freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights, and among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great. (Cheers, applause.)
This is one of Obama’s many explicit statements of collectivism. He doesn’t hide his collectivism; it’s out there for anyone to think about and judge.
By Mike N · December 23rd, 2012 11:39 am
The Dec. 18th 2012 print edition of the Macomb Daily (a northeastern suburban county of Detroit) carried an oped by Roger Simon of www.creators.com, not to be confused with Roger L. Simon of PJTV fame. This Roger Simon, without the L, writes a screed pushing “real” gun control which according to him, has never been tried here in the U.S.
Right! And that’s why we still have a few freedoms left. [Read more →]
By Inspector · December 23rd, 2012 10:25 am
I’m not going to talk about guns right now. I’m sure someone is going to call for some law at some point, and drag me into that. But, right now, I want to highlight that sick, murderous freaks are a product of a sick society.
Ours is a sick society. One that does not value reason. One that does not value control over one’s faculties. One that does not have a proper concept of a healthy self, and therefore no concept of healthy self-esteem – genuine, real self-esteem, not the fake imitation they make with gold stars.
[Read more →]
By Inspector · November 21st, 2012 7:36 am
People don’t learn from economic disasters alone. History has shown again and again that no matter how stark a disaster proves that a policy has failed, people can be convinced that the failure was due to not enough of it.
Every stimulus in history didn’t fail… they just weren’t big enough. We need a bigger stimulus and this time… will be different!
In case it wasn’t clear, I’m talking about Obama. He’s been an unmitigated disaster for the country, and people elected him again, convinced that what we need is more of the same, but harder.
I’d say good luck with that, but I’m stuck on this boat and going down with it.
Don’t get me wrong – Wet Noodles wasn’t going to ride in on a white horse and save the day. We’d be screwed under him, too, because he is too much of a wimp to do anything but more of the same. It’s just… jeez. People had a choice between a guy who was maybe, weakly, limply going to make some kind of effort – any effort whatsoever – to not bankrupt us and a guy whose plan was: FULL SPEED AHEAD TO BANKRUPTCY. And the American people made their choice.
By Myrhaf · November 10th, 2012 11:40 am
I thought Romney would win in a landslide. I was not alone. There was a lot of confidence on the right. Even Romney’s campaign, with all its super-secret polling that is supposed to be so much better than anything we laymen see, was surprised by the defeat on November 6, 2012.
How could we get it so wrong? Was our thinking the triumph of hope over experience?
Here was my thinking: Obama was campaigning to shore up his base. Romney already had his base — where else would they go? — and was campaigning to win moderates and independents. Therefore, Romney would get more votes. Moreover, the polls are all wrong due to liberal bias and the Bradley Effect, in which a small percentage of those polled lie that they will vote for a black man because they do not want to be thought of as racist.
This entire line of thinking turned out to be wrong. The polls were right. The Democrat base was energized and turned out on election day. Most astonishing, Romney did not have his base. Romney got 3,000,000 fewer votes than McCain in 2008 and 7,000,000 fewer than Bush in 2004. If he had just won what McCain got, he would have defeated Obama.
So what happened?
By Jim May · November 9th, 2012 2:38 pm
The men who are not interested in philosophy need it most urgently: they are most helplessly in its power.
The men who are not interested in philosophy absorb its principles from the cultural atmosphere around them—from schools, colleges, books, magazines, newspapers, movies, television, etc. Who sets the tone of a culture? A small handful of men: the philosophers. Others follow their lead, either by conviction or by default.
On September 27, I tweeted that Conor Friedersdorf “does not understand the Left, at any level”. I did so on the grounds of this article by Friedersdorf, which included this line:
I don’t see how anyone who confronts Obama’s record with clear eyes can enthusiastically support him. I do understand how they might concluded that he is the lesser of two evils, and back him reluctantly, but I’d have thought more people on the left would regard a sustained assault on civil liberties and the ongoing, needless killing of innocent kids as deal-breakers. (Emphasis mine.)
I, who do understand the Left, immediately thought: *Why* would anyone ever think that?
By Myrhaf · September 7th, 2012 11:03 am
Naturalist writers who don’t have the imagination to come up with new ideas run out of stories to tell. They make a big splash with a novel about their youth or their particular racial niche, and then they are pretty much done. They “write themselves out.”
Barack Obama’s speech at the 2012 Democrat National Convention was the work of a man who is written out. He has nothing new to say; he lacks even the energy to make it look like he’s trying. But that didn’t stop him from going on for 37 empty minutes. Stalin and Castro were famous for droning on for hours before a (literally) captive audience. I believe Obama and Clinton would do the same if they could. Standing before a large, adoring audience must be the peak experience for a collectivist.