Monday, 9 October 2006

A bit sparse ... but a good excuse

I've been putting the finishing touches on the new 'Free Radical' magazine, which is why posting today has been sparse. Keep an eye out for some exciting 'Free Radical' related news shortly, which will explain why this latest issue has been delayed until now ...

CONSERVATISM: A NEW OBITUARY, Part 6 - The consequences of conservatism

On Friday we looked at neoconservativism in practice. Today we see just how dire the consequences of conservative practices have been for liberty and small government, and why bigger government is an inevitable consequence of conservative dominance.

Given that everything about today's conservatives screams "big government," it's little wonder that bigger and bigger government has been the result of years of conservative dominance of the American political machinery. Government under Republican domination has exploded. "Since it took control of both the White House and Capitol Hill," summarises Thompson, "the Republican Party has presided over the biggest explosion in federal spending and the greatest extension of the welfare state since Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society programs of the 1960s."

So much for the Republican Revolution. So much for conservative restraint. That sort of explosion does not happen unintentionally, but perhaps even worse than the explosion of spending is the sort of drains down which the flood money is being sluiced.
  • "Take for example the “No Child Left Behind Act,” which Ted Kennedy virtually wrote for President Bush and which represents the greatest expansion of the federal government in education since the creation of the Department of Education in 1979. As a result of this one Act, federal education spending has grown by 100 percent since Bush took office. This is all the more remarkable given that just several years earlier the Gingrich “revolutionaries” of 1994 promised to abolish the Department of Education."
  • "Under George Bush and the Republicans, the welfare state that Bill Clinton began to dismantle has been given a second life. The Bush administration and their Republican allies in Congress have, for instance, offered a tax “refund” to 6.5 million low-income people who do not pay taxes, passed a $180 billion farm subsidy bill (welfare for farmers), supported tariffs on steel imports (welfare for the American steel industry), and extended the American welfare state to Africa by offering the people of that continent $15 billion in AIDS relief."
  • "Then, of course, there’s President Bush’s signature welfare program administered by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives..."
  • "Even more ominous, the Bush administration enthusiastically signed into law a multi-billion dollar prescription drug bill, which represents the largest expansion of the federal government in over thirty years."
The faith-based initiative and the enormous expansion of the prescription drug programme are quintessential modern conservatism.
Like the faith-based initiative, the GOP prescription drug plan uses ostensibly “private” middlemen (i.e., semi-private insurance companies) to administer a brand new welfare program. Republicans defended this new program as an example of how “private ownership,” “choice,” and “competition” can reform the social insurance programs of the Left. The Republican position was captured by Newt Gingrich in a story in The New York Times: “‘Choice creates competition, and competition drives down price,’ Mr. Gingrich said, in a pithy statement of the philosophy that inspires most of the Republican proposals.”59 Only a Republican could view the expansion of a government program as a free-market reform.
Watch now, warns Thompson, "as the tentacles of government regulators quietly and slowly strangle the private health-care and insurance industries, and as the “privatized” system begins to collapse (as it surely will), liberals will blame the system’s failure on the “free-market” reforms and then demand ever-greater command and controls over the health-care system."

And there in a nutshell is the conservative strategy in microcosm. Ten years ago Republicans violently (and properly) opposed the Bill & Hilary Clinton health-care plans as "socialising American health-care." "Ten years later, Republicans launched a variation on Clinton’s plan by partially socializing drug benefits for seniors. This is a classic model of the Republican approach to welfare." And its inevitable failure will result in calls for more, much more of the same!
The Republican position on government spending comes down to this: We can spend the government’s money more prudently than Democrats. Whereas the liberal welfare state created a culture of dependence, perpetual poverty, and various forms of deviant social behavior, our welfare state will foster virtue and the public good.
The point on which they agree is on the existence of the welfare state itself, and the size of government needed to administer it. Little wonder that libertarians find no hope in either conservatives or from liberals.

Even conservatives who do oppose such an expansion are morally disarmed when they come to argue against it, since their most fundamental moral premises are all in favour of it. Little wonder that liberals win every substantive debate on the expansion of the welfare state.

Every time Democrats and liberals launch a moral counterattack against the “mean-spiritedness” of even the most modest conservative reforms, Republicans cower, turn, then flee and surrender the moral high ground. When faced with the charge repeated time and again that they represent big business, the rich, and the “greedy”—and that their “cold-hearted” policies hurt poor women, children, and the elderly—Republican resolve collapses.

The process typically works like this. Day one: Republicans denounce, with nervous indignation, the growth of welfare and regulations. Day two: They concede that people in need have a right to government assistance. Day three: They propose to save particular welfare programs through pragmatic reform. Day four: They shake hands with their Democratic partners and declare that a new era of bipartisanship and consensus has finally arrived.

What the mandarins of the conservative establishment do not and cannot understand, given their philosophy, is that conservatives—to the extent that they ever had any interest in defending individual rights and limited government—lost the fight because they never engaged the enemy with the only kind of weapon that could win: a moral argument against the claim that those in “need” have a moral claim on one’s life, liberty, and property. More importantly, mainstream conservatives have never made a philosophic argument for individual rights, limited government, and capitalism on explicitly moral grounds. Ultimately, they are embarrassed by, and have always worked very hard to hide, the fact that capitalism can only be justified if each and every man has a moral right to live and work for his own sake and not as a sacrificial beast of burden to the “needs” of society.

Stripped bare of "the folksy rhetoric, the hollow bromides, and the patriotic slogans, the conservative position comes down to this: The free-enterprise system is good because it “works” better than any other system, because it produces more wealth that can be subsequently “shared” with the less fortunate." In other words capitalism shackled is, at best, what you can hope for from conservatives. Capitalism with the reins of production controlled by politicians, redistributed by

Not even Goldwater conservatives can offer an alternative to the welfare state, because they too accept its moral premises. Why? Why do all conservatives accept the moral premises of the liberals? The answer, in a word, is religion.

The crucial moral problem here is that capitalism is the only political system that recognises man's right not to sacrifice for others, but to exist for his own sake. The crucial political problem is that neither liberals nor conservatives recognise this right, the morality of altruism which they share is opposed: human beings in their view are simply duty-laden beasts of burden, and the monstrous and teetering edifice of the welfare state they have between them built up is the supreme political expression of that view. Your life and the products of it are not your own, says altruism, and on that both liberals and conservatives agree.
Liberalism invokes the altruism of Marx; conservatism invokes the altruism of Jesus; and both camps are indebted to Rousseau for his emphasis on compassion. With respect to individual rights, there is and can be no fundamental difference between a secular-liberal welfare state and a religious-conservative welfare state. It matters not one whit to me whether my earned wealth is forcibly redistributed by a Hillary Clinton or a George Bush government; either way, my money is seized. The political subjugation of the individual in the name of the morality of sacrifice is the essence of both.
Both compassionate conservatives and neoconservatives have seized with both hands liberalism's two basic principles, atruism and pragmatism, and made themselves indistinguishable from the redistributionist left. Whatever noises are made in opposition by conservatives, when in power the result of conservative rule has always the promotion of redistributionist policies, and the expansion of the powers and size of the state.

As we have seen, the policies of compassionate conservatives and neoconservatives merge to promote a shared common end: the violation of individual rights for the sake of “general welfare” and for the “needs” of the “less fortunate.” Not only have conservatives and Republicans abandoned any semblance of a principled moral opposition to the welfare state, they now fully embrace it morally and politically.

Thus there is no meaningful difference between the Christian sentimentalism of the New Right and the moral relativism of the New Left. They both treat emotions and feelings as their means of knowing what is true and good—and what they “know” to be true and good is that self-sacrifice is moral and self-interest is immoral. Thus there is no meaningful difference between the aims of today’s conservatives and those of today’s liberals. They share the same moral premises and political ends; they differ only marginally in the means they choose to achieve their shared goal: the welfare state.

The ultimate meaning of big-government conservatism was captured recently in the Christian Science Monitor, by Patrick Chisholm, who reported that the compassionate- and neo-conservative policies of the Bush administration have served to advance the long-term ideological and political agenda of the redistributionist Left. Chisholm writes:

Certain trends have been favoring the left for the past several decades. In the early 1960s, transfer payments (entitlements and welfare) constituted less than a third of the federal government’s budget. Now they constitute almost 60 percent of the budget, or about $1.4 trillion per year. Measured according to this, the US government’s main function now is redistribution: taking money from one segment of the population and giving it to another segment. In a few decades, transfer payments are expected to make up more than 75 percent of federal government spending.65

The redistributionist state that began with the New Deal, and that was radicalized by the Great Society, has now been saved, reborn, and advanced by the Conservative Revolution.

Conservatives and conservative parties bear the greatest guilt for dragging all the semi-free countries down the road to statism, and have done more even than the liberals and the socialists to take it there. If you had trouble understanding that apparent paradox, you now have it explained. "Conservatives may posture as supporters of individual rights, limited government, and capitalism; but, in reality, they are morally opposed to these values, and their history is one of actively betraying them."

If individual rights, limited government, and capitalism are to be saved, it is clear enough that conservatives and their bankrupt moral code are not about to do it. What is needed, says Thompson, is a new moral code. "This means that proponents of these principles must find a philosophic alternative to the conservatives’ stale bromides and folksy speeches. It is not enough to defend limited government on the grounds that it works in practice; one must also defend it on the more fundamental grounds that it is moral in theory." Come back tomorrow for the conclusion to this series, to see on what such a moral defence must be based.

'CONSERVATISM: A NEW OBITUARY,' THE SERIES SO FAR: LINKS: The Objective Standard, a journal of culture and politics.
Cue Card Libertarianism: Altruism - Not PC
Cartoons by Cox and Forkum

RELATED: Politics-US, Politics, Objectivism, History-Modern, History-Twentieth Century

Sunday, 8 October 2006

Today's Bible reading

Continuing our series of Sunday Bible readings. Today, reading from the little known but rewarding book of Habbakuk:
Drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered.--Habakkuk 2:16
Words to take to heart.

LINKS: The Book of Habbakuk - Skeptics Annotated Bible

RELATED: Religion, Humour, Nonsense

Taste-off: Budvar v DAB V Limburg v Mac's

An informal beer tasting was held yesterday here in the garden at 'Not PC Towers.' Ranged against each other in two 'semi-finals' were two New Zealand charmers, and a couple of European beauties. The tasting began informally, and ended even more so.

The two Europeans lined up against each other first. On the left the Czech beauty Budvar, and on the right a German from Dortmund, DAB. Quite a contrast to look at in the glass, with the Budvar both darker and with with much less head, both proved an equal contrast in taste. The DAB was crisper and 'deeper,' with almost a hint of mushroom, but all the tastes very subtle. If drinking the DAB was like eating an apple with a hint, the Budvar was like a malt biscuit with a small side of hops. Very tasty. Neither had much aroma to speak of, but the tastes were superb, and beautifully integrated. The afternoon, ahem, the tasting had started well.

In the European semi-final then, the Czech beauty proved a narrow, but unanimous winner with its extra flavour just getting its 'head' above that of the other competitor.

So to the two New Zealand charmers, the Limburg Hopsmacker and the Macs reserve. Both are attractive in the glass (bear in mind the Hopsmacker is an ale) and both have full and attractive aromas -- the Hopsmacker exceedlingly so -- but after the two Europeans these local lovelies were far less subtle and much more, um, robust. My regular beer correspondents might disown me for saying so, but from the first sip it was clear that whoever won this local derby, the eventual winner would be from Europe.

Of these two locals however the Hopsmacker was the clear favourite. Taste aplenty, as there was also in the Macs Reserve, but the Hopsmacker's flavours seemed somehow more integrated, and the Reserve's bitter after-taste lost it points by the hop-load.

So to the Final, and following the final taste-off, and then another for third and fourth, and then just a few more to make sure of the results -- and then doubly sure since we wouldn't want to make any mistakes (by which time both 'tasting room' and tasters could well fit the description implied by the phrase "a mess") the taste test results looked like this (once we got our notes in order):
  1. Budvar - just like the Miss World contest, the Czech beauty got the crown.
  2. DAB
  3. Limburg Hopsmacker
  4. Macs Reserve
And it has to be said too that beer really was the winner on the day. Hic.

RELATED: Beer & Elsewhere

Saturday, 7 October 2006

Dripping wet

There comes a time in every dinner party when someone will say something so dripping wet that embarrassing silence is the only polite response. Unfortunately, this morning over breakfast, I read the wettest line I'm likely to hear this weekend in National's glossy, new, full-colour environmental brochure, after which it very nearly had my breakfast over it.

"We did not inherit the land from our ancestors," the brochure informed me, "we have borrowed it from our children." Whoops, there goes my breakfast.

As dripping wet statements go, that has to be up there in the 'so-wet-as-to-be-of-tidal-wave -proportions' stakes, doesn't it? Do you have anything wetter with which you can beat that? Anything else that even a greeting card company would reject as too cringing? You know the sort of thing:
  • "It takes a village to raise a child."

  • " Peace on earth will come to stay, when we live Christmas every day."

  • "What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and hug your family."

  • "If you did not begin this day with a smile, it is not too late to start practicing for tomorrow."
Can't you just feel a whole deluge of moisture welling up?

Can you beat these? Can you come up with a real whizzer of wetness to add to these?

If you can, and if possible, try and add a rejoinder, eg., "The meek will inherit the earth, but only after the strong have raped and pillaged it." Or, "It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a cossack to raze a village."

Have a go, ya mug.

A weekend website dump

I was going to post a long learned article this afternoon, but the weather's to good for that, I've got a magazine to edit, and I've got a rake of sites open in my Firefox tabs that I meant to write about at some stage but still haven't, some of which have been open only for hours and some have been open for days, (and for most of which I can't remember who deserves the hat tips) so how about I just post all the links for you to to surf as you wish, and I'll come back to you later. Let me know which are worth more attention here.
  • Working backwards through the open tabs, the most recent site still open is Tickets Direct, where I made sure I could get in to see Hello Sailor, Hammond Gamble and Th'Dudes tonight at the St James.
  • Here's a full-colour poster from 'Junk Science' about Al Gore's film: 'The Real Inconvenient Truth - a Global Goring'.
  • Farrar rounds up reactions to National's crawling appeasement of environmental extremism. Naturally, he's overlooked my own reaction.
  • Terry Dunleavy from the Climate Science Coalition challenges TVNZ to balance its "alarmist Doomcasting" about global warming. “TVNZ chose to broadcast a hugely exaggerated claim about global warming by an American supporter of global warming, James Hansen, on precisely the same day that Mr Hansen was being denounced in the U.S. Senate, by Senator James Inofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. I challenge TVNZ to balance the record with the following except from Senator Inofe’s speech,” said Mr Dunleavy.
  • And here's Senator Inhofe's speech, which begins, " I am going to speak today about the most media-hyped environmental issue of all time, global warming..." Senator Inhofe posts here about media reaction to the speech. Bidinotto liked it.
  • New film Mine Your Own Business "exposes the dark side of environmentalism. The documentary hacks away at the cosy image of environmentalists' as well meaning, harmless activists." The film's website is here.
    Mine Your Own Business is the first documentary which asks the hard questions of foreigners who lead campaigns to "save" remote areas from development. Their answers are often disturbing, with racist overtones, but we, in the west, blindly support such campaigns that want to keep people in poverty. Now for the first time "Mine Your Own Business" asks local people about their lives and what they want for the future.
  • Sign the online petition to help save 18-year-old Iranian girl Nazanin, sentenced to death by the Islamic Republic of Iran for "fatally stabbing one of three men who attempted to rape her and her 16-year-old niece in a park in Karaj (a suburb of Tehran) in March 2005. She was seventeen at the time." What the rapists failed to do, the Islamic Republic of Iran is attempting to finish. There are currently 218124 signatures in total.
  • Tze Ming Mok needs taking to task. The lesser life expectancy of Maori has nothing to do with the life choices of Maori, she says, it's all a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi. Sheesh.
  • The website of Organica Architettura, an Italian-based website promoting organic architecture worldwide (and I'm happy to say I'm part of it all).
  • Richard Dawkins TV shows 'The Atheism Tapes' and 'A Brief History of Disbelief' are online at Google Videos. One hour each. I'm not yet sure how they're divided up, but my correspondent tells me a) they're superb, and b) they're here: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three. Let me know what you think.
  • Telecom. The Kiwi Pundit has a look at Telecom Derangement Syndrome, an affliction that he says seems to have struck "some normally sensible members of the blogosphere, most notably David Farrar."
  • Concrete. The story of a high-tech upgrade for this great material (one that so richly rewards the application of human imagination, and that punishes so severely its lack): Electronic concrete!
  • The truth about the nineteenth-century's robber barons is that they were neither robbers, nor barons.
  • Organic architect James Walter Schildroth outlines an architect's services. "Modern architecture implies far more intelligent cooperation on the part of the client than ever before. Rewards being so much greater in a work of art than by any "good taste" of the usual client, the wisdom of human investment now lies in "the home as a work of art." Correspondingly, the architect becomes more important than ever. The dwelling "as-a-work-of-art" is a better place in which to be alive..."
  • Wagner and Wagnerism is reassessed by the 3 Quarks team, and this site has some Wagner Bayreuth podcasts!
  • Richard still thinks I shouldn't be taking swipes at university philosophy departments. "My previous comments, he says, "should have convinced you that you've been misinformed about them. Your continued low opinion of them seems to indicate a close-mindedness (or intellectual "passivity", if you prefer) of the damnable kind." Do they? I've still to respond, and I do intend to, but feel free to offer your own thoughts.
There. That should keep you surfing. Enjoy!

Current reading.

Here's a good Saturday morning thread. Current reading. What are you reading at the moment, and would you recommend it?

Here are the books on my own bedside table at the moment:

Anatomy Lesson - Philip Roth
I've just finished a Herman Wouk binge, after which it's only natural to look up Philip Roth's novels again. Roth's protagonist is the same in every novel (tortured Jewish writer/tortured Jewish academic/tortured Jewish adolescent) - in The Anatomy Lesson successful writer Nathan Zuckerman is tortured so much by neck pains, Oedipus problems and a visiting harem of helpfully auto-erotic women that he gives it all up to become a doctor and pornographer. It could only be a Philip Roth novel ...

Now Read On - Bernard Levin
One of the things I enjoyed about living in London was the wit wisdom and sagacity of Britain's many wonderful columnists, all available just for the price of a newspaper. Twice a week in The Times I could enjoy the best of those columnists, Bernard Levin, and with this collection I can enjoy his work again. From a meditation on the fall of the Berlin Wall to a diatribe against those who would put a shrunken Maori head up for auction (people who see "no difference between a human head and an inlaid escritoire") to a minor treatise on negative elasticity based on the non-purchase of a duty free belt to hold up his trousers, I'm reminded from these rapier sharp sallies why for fifteen years I've wanted to write columns like Levin did. The knowledge that he would never have used the adjectival phrase "rapier sharp" tells me I'm still far from it.

Music of the Mind - Anthony Storr
Some people might think talking about music is like dancing about architecture. Anthony Storr is not one of them. Something that can elicit such powerful emotions from us can't be causeless, he reasons, and this book goes a long way to helping explain that cause. Highly recommended.

The Complete Stories of Saki
A regular on the night-stand this: Saki's acerbic short stories are great just to dip into as a relief from a diet of electronically-delivered saccharine. If you've ever thought Oscar Wilde should be just a trifle more vicious, then Saki is just for you. If this line grabs you -- "He is one of those people who would be enormously improved by death" -- then without delay make plans to get Saki on your own night stand. Your evenings will be enormously improved.

RELATED: Books, Music

Are any pollies do-able?

Cactus Kate and Krimson Lake have conducted an important political investigation, to whit: Could you bang any of New Zealand's male politicians?

Answer? Well, go and see. I'm not going to tell you.

LINKS: Political groupies - Asian Invasion 2006 (Cactus Kate)
Who would shag a politician? And admit to it? - Celebrating Mediocrity (Krimson Lake)

RELATED: Sex, Politics-NZ

Friday, 6 October 2006

Apostates of Islam

New site just added to the 'roll: Apostates of Islam

Who we are:

We are ex-Muslims. Some of us were born and raised in Islam and some of us had converted to Islam at some moment in our lives. We were taught never to question the truth of Islam and to believe in Allah and his messenger with blind faith. We were told that Allah would forgive all sins but the sin of disbelief (Quran 4:48 and 4:116). But we committed the ultimate sin of thinking and questioned the belief that was imposed on us and we came to realize that far from being a religion of truth, Islam is a hoax, it is hallucination of a sick mind and nothing but lies and deceits.

[Hat tip Sharon Ferguson at Tributaries]

RELATED: Religion

Beer O’Clock: Little Creatures Pale Ale

Real Beer's Neil Miller has your recommendation for the weekend.

Little Creatures Pale is not only a cracker beer but also provided me with one of my favourite beer guru stories.

Over a year ago, I was approached by a gentleman in the supermarket telling me a beer I had recommended in my last newspaper column was awful. Now, because I had known him for many years so it wasn’t quite as odd as it sounds but I was still taken aback.

Neil: “I’m sorry to hear that. Which beer was it?”
Man: “That Chimay White stuff. Dreadful!”
Neil: “Well, there is no right and wrong when it comes to beer… but you are wrong. That is one of the world’s greatest beers!”

However, to make amends, I offered to recommend another beer for him on the spot. I picked Little Creatures Pale Ale which at that time had just started coming into the country.

Man: “Twenty dollars for a six pack? That’s a bit steep!”
Neil: “If you are not fully satisfied, return the five remaining beers to me on Monday and I’ll give twenty bucks.”

Man (by email on Monday): “I think I will keep them.”

That was the entire message but it was a short tribute to how good this beer is.

Little Creatures is a micro-brewery housed in an ex crocodile farm down by the water in Fremantle, Perth.

“Little Creatures” is a reference to the live yeast which remains in the beer.

This is a famous American style Pale Ale whose character is driven by the use of fresh whole hop flowers from America. Hop flowers – as opposed to the more usual and stable hop pellets - are bursting with aroma and flavour but can be difficult to transport and brew with.

Little Creatures actually have a special arrangement with Customs to get their hop flowers through without them being gassed or stomped on by the trained Customs gorilla that regularly has a go at my bags when traveling.

No artificial preservatives or additives are included.

Little Creatures Pale pours a hazy copper bronze with a frothy head. The nose is outstanding with layers of fresh hops, pine, crisp citrus and even a touch of lychees.

It is full in the mouth with plenty malt sweetness balances with notes of grapefruit, passionfruit, pine and honey. It finishes long and deep.

Little Creatures Pale is available in many supermarkets and bottle stores so be sure to “Drink a Little… Creatures!”

Cheers, Neil.

LINKS: Little Creatures Brewery
Real Beer

RELATED: Beer and Elsewhere

Lots of climate change announcements...

At a climate change symposium in Helengrad today, Climate Change Minister David Parker told the audience that climate change is happening. "Climate change is happening now," said the excited minister, and then announced several measures to "reduce carbon dioxide emissions" including a "price-based measure across the economy." For this he expects to get headlines and adulation.

Greenpeace agreed that climate change is happening, declared that "everyone's talking about the need to make major reductions of greenhouse gases," and went on to castigate the minister for not doing enough to shackle industry. For this they expect to get headlines and a smattering of new and renewed donations for their staunchness.

Later this afternoon and as part of the same symposium, Nick Smith on behalf of the Blue Green Group of Wetness will agree with both that climate change is happening, and declare that his party agrees with Mr Parker in absolutely every way except the means by which industry is to be shackled. For this he hopes to get a job as Environment Minister in the next National cabinet.

Over the weekend the Blue Green Group of Wetness will be watching (avidly no doubt) Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth (about which, more below), which asserts without fear of contradiction that climate change is happening, that the last decade has had all the hottest years ever so it really must be happening, and that we have but a few short years to get our shit in order if we're to avert a real catastrophe. For this, the Blue Greens probably hope for an hour or two to nod off, while Al Gore without a doubt harbours hopes of piles of money and a chance for a go at being the former next President of the US twice.

All of these local groups have no doubt harked back the announcement earlier in the week by a smug twit from the Ministry of the Environment who declared that the "Earth is getting warmer faster, due largely to greenhouse gas emissions from human activity."

Meanwhile, in more sober climes, Professor Bob Carter points out in a paper released by the Climate Science Coalition [pdf] (and still unpublished in any NZ newspaper) that,
the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia [show] that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero.)
You can see the inconvenient truth for yourself in the graph below:

Global average temperatures since 1998 (Climate Research Unit, UK)

So if climate change is happening, as just "everyone" says it is, it doesn't seem to be happening in the real world. I wonder then just exactly where it is happening? If climate is happening, let alone "dangerous" and "catastrophic" global warming, the place to see that would be in the temperature records, right? And it'd be more than clear, right?

Oh, and speaking of inconvenient truths, the Competitive Enterprise Institute have produced a 120-page PDF 'Skeptic's Guide to An Inconveneient Truth.' If you're going to the Blue Greens conference this weekend and you do decide to watch it, you could print out a bunch of copies and either see how the Skeptic's Guide stacks up against the celluloid claims of the man who used to have presidential aspirations, or you could just use them to beat Nick Smith around the head.

Either way, they'd be well-used.

UPDATE: For those expressing reservations about the CRU graph above representing too short a period, Junk Science has compiled and put into graphic form a bunch of data sets for the entire period in which temperature records have been kept: Catastrophic warming? You decide. And do make sure you read all of Carter's piece, since he also addresses this point. From Junk Science, 'The Real Inconvenient Truth':

Who says it is warming catastrophically? Humans have only been trying to measure the temperature fairly consistently since about 1880, during which time we think the world may have warmed by about +0.6 °C ± 0.2 °C. As we've already pointed out, the estimate of warming is less than the error margin on our ability to take the Earth's temperature, generally given as 14 °C ± 0.7 °C for the average 1961-1990 while the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) suggest 13.9 °C for their average 1880-2004. We are pretty sure it was cold before the 1880 commencement of record and we would probably not handle the situation too well if such conditions returned but there has been no demonstrable catastrophic warming while people have been trying to measure the planet's temperature. If we have really been measuring a warming episode as we think we have, then setting new records for "hottest ever in recorded history" should happen just about every year -- although half a degree over a century is hardly something to write home about -- so there's really nothing exciting about scoring the highest number when looking at such a short history.

At risk of belaboring the point, the following data is from the merged land air and sea surface temperature data set (based on data from the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) of land temperatures and the Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (COADS) of SST data). This is the Time series: Temperature January-December, 1880 - 2005: Global Trend: 0.04 °C/decade (for the arithmetically-challenged that's 12.5 decades for a total of +0.5 °C since 1880). The land temperature-only data (less than 30% of the planet and usually measured around cities) yields a trend of 0.07 °C/decade over the same period for a total increment of 0.875 °C.

A lot of people seem to like an idea of a specific temperature number so here's the National Climatic Data Center's monthly mean temperature record. Rather obviously seasonal change throughout the year dwarfs net increment over one and one-quarter centuries.

Read on here.

LINKS: NZ TO seek links with Asia-Pacific climate group - Radio NZ
The global warming Emperor has no clothes - Professor Bob Carter, courtesy of Climate Science Coalition [9-page PDF]
Skeptic's guide to An Inconvenient Truth - Competitive Enterprise Institute [120-page PDF]
The real 'inconvenient truth' - Junk Science

RELATED: Global Warming, Politics-NZ, Science

'Blue Green': the new symbol of wetness

Occasionally reality conspires to prove a point more tellingly than you might deem realistic if you wrote about in fiction. You sometimes make your point, then read your newspaper and you think, "I could not have made this up."

I'm speaking about conservatism, and those who call themselves conservatives. This morning and over the last few days I've discussed at length Brad Thompon's analysis of the practical consequences of conservative ideology, the hallmarks of which can be characterised as being compromise, "me-tooism" and an embrace of one's opponents aims with the only change being the claim that conservatives will deliver them better. This, to conservatives, is called "heading off the opposition." To a conservative, you see, it's not so important what is done so much as who is doing it. That's why since the war there have been more socialist advances under conservative governments than there have under those of a liberal persuasion -- conservatives call this "heading off the opposition" -- those with principles call it "selling out."

Even as I wrote that, National Party's Nick Smith was sleazing into print in order to prove that very point, suggesting that with National's weekend Blue-Green conference the Nats should look to head off the opposition by "softening its environmental message." As Vernon Small summarises the Smith slop:

Softening the environmental message, [Smith] hopes, will peel away some of that soft Labour vote while happily making a deal with the Green party that much more credible. More to the point, if National cannot hug the trees and the Greens, or edge them into a neutral position, then it may be trying in the long term to hug them to death.

This, to a conservative, is called strategy. No wonder Smith, to Lindsay Perigo, is a man with a tongue so forked you could hug a tree with.

What, in real concrete terms, does "softening the environmental message" mean besides giving the authoritarian environmentalists everything they're after? None at all. The "softening" Smith proposes are a sell-out on Kyoto, "a significant funding package to promote tree planting, cleaner air and water, and help for community conservation." Oh please. Not just selling out, but selling out so wetly. As I quoted Thompson this morning:
Never mind "the vision thing" -- about which George Bush Sr. agonised -- give yourself over instead to absolute rule, and let the other side seek out new visions. That's the neocon ticket. The three most important rules for absolute rule: Compromise, compromise and compromise. The fourth rule: if visions arise that are going to happen anyway, then just roll over and make sure you take the credit.

If liberals launch a national campaign for socialized medicine, Republicans should steal the issue from the Democrats and advocate a system of universal health care but one that allows people to choose their own doctor or HMO. If liberals commence a public campaign against the profits of “big business” or the salaries of their executives, Republicans should neutralize liberal pretensions by encouraging “greedy” and “profiteering” corporate executives to voluntarily donate their profits to charities. If radical environmentalists launch a public relations campaign against global warming, Republicans should encourage American companies to hire environmentalists as advisors...
As Thompson points out, and as Ayn Rand pointed out before him, moral appeasement of this sort serves only to embolden the conservative's opponents, "a lesson that conservatives seem constitutionally unable to learn. They fail to grasp that compromising one principle inevitably leads to hundreds of compromises in practice. In this relationship, liberalism will always have the upper hand and will always dictate the future..."

Should Smith and the Nats seek to spike the authoritarian guns not with compromise but with a ringing declaration this weekend of freedom and liberty and property rights -- and with it a clear and forceful demonstration of how the exercise and protection of property rights leads to both superior environmental values and maximum freedom -- then I would be right behind him.

But that's about as likely as Smith ever growing a spine.

LINKS: True blues go green - Vernon Small, Stuff

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Environment, Property Rights, Politics-National

PC agrees with the Greens

I'm going to come out and agree with the Greens. This morning they're making a fuss in the news about the investment by the Government's Superannuation Fund in oil company ExxonMobil, claiming the oil company is active in funding what the Greens call "the climate change denial industry" and saying "that's inappropriate given New Zealand's commitment to the Kyoto Protocol." In this of course they're just echoing the latest campaign of the vast green world conspiracy to strangle funding for anyone other than prophets of doom.

The Government Superannuation Fund naturally enough pointed out that Mobil Exxon are as good as any other company; and Peter Thornbury, the public affairs manager for Mobil Oil New Zealand, pointed out that his company supported a range of organisations. "They don't speak on our behalf and nor do we control their views and messages." And that's true.

You might also remember not so long ago that I called attention to the fact that climate change science is not settled, and drew attention to those like George Reisman and Patrick Moore who point out that trying to squelch climate change debate by having opponents denounced as "deniers" is both wrong and bad science. And you might also recall the analysts who have pointed out (with only some small surprise) that the returns on the Super Fund for the last two years have been good, so on that basis the credentials so far on which it's important for the Super Fund's managers to be judged -- ie., that they're making money rather than losing it -- are good. (But it is still early days.)

So why then do I agree with the Greens? I agree with them because the Government Superannuation Fund gets it money to invest from the pockets of you and me -- without any say in that by either you or me -- and if either you or I have a problem with where that money goes, there is nothing we can do about that short of making a fuss in the news.

I say it's wrong that your own money is taken from you to fund or invest in that of which you strongly disapprove, and that, to me, is one of the fundamental problems with the Government Superannuation Fund: not just that the entire retirement eggs of all New Zealanders are wrapped up in that one little basket, but that our own money is being taken off us by force to make investment choices with which some of us might disagree.

In this, I might disagree with what the Greens disapprove of (and I do), but I do defend their right to object to having their own money invested in such places. On that, I agree with them entirely.

LINKS: Greens question investment in oil - Newswire
Greens want super fund to stop investing in ExxonMobil - Stuff
The science *isn't* settled, Mr Parker - Not PC (Aug 31)
Schwarzenegger bets the state- Not PC (Sept 25)
Former Greenpeace leader joins criticism of Royal Society's global warming outburst - Not PC (Sept 30)

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-Greens, Environment, Global Warming

"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" - online audio

IN THE FIRST part of the series on conservatism running here at 'Not PC,' Brad Thompson suggested that "To set some context, however, let us first recall the basic ideals that have traditionally been regarded as the gold standard of true conservatism: the ideals associated with Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign, which, in turn, point to the principles of America’s Founding Fathers."

As it happens, LearnOutLoud has just made available -- free! -- Barry Goldwater's July 1964 speech which has been called "the speech that defined modern conservatism." Says LearnOutLoud:
Goldwater is especially adamant in his stance for use of force against Communism with his statement "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice". He also confronts bureaucracy and centralization of government power as major problems facing the politics of his day.
I feel duty-bound however to point out that Ayn Rand was not an entirely wholehearted Goldwater enthusiast herself. In March 1964 she observed in 'How to Judge a Political Candidate':

If a candidate evades, equivocates and hides his stand under a junk-heap of random concretes, we must add up those concretes and judge him accordingly. If his stand is mixed, we must evaluate it by asking: Will he protect freedom or destroy the last of it? Will he accelerate, delay or stop the march toward statism?

By this standard, one can see why Barry Goldwater is the best candidate in the field today.
But by the end of the campaign, in December, she presaged Thompson's arguments about conservatism in general when she said about the losing Goldwater campaign:
There was no discussion of capitalism. There was no discussion of statism. There was no discussion of the blatantly vulnerable record of the government's policies in the last thirty years. There was no discussion. There were no issues.

In psychological, if not existential, fact, the campaign ended in mid-October, when Senator Goldwater chose to concede his defeat in one of the least attractive forms possible. It was the form of a truly shameful switch: the attempt to substitute the question of personal "morals" for all the crucial questions of our age, and offer it as the cardinal issue of the campaign.

You can see the progression of Rand's disillusionment in her comments summarised here at the Objectivism Reference Center. The flatulent "me-tooism" about which she frequently excoriated conservatives is something they have yet to repudiate, and now with neoconservatism it is being conflated into a "philosophy of governance." Little wonder that libertarians and Objectivists have little time for conservatives.

LINKS: Barry Goldwater: 1964 Republican National Convention Address - LearnOutLoud [MP3 and streaming]
Ayn Rand on Barry Goldwater - Objectivism Reference Center

RELATED: Politics-US, Politics, Objectivism, History-Modern, History-Twentieth Century

'CONSERVATISM: A NEW OBITUARY.' Part 5: The "neocons" in practice -- adding cynicism to love

Continuing the series of excerpts from Prof. Brad Thompson's article 'The Decline and Fall of American Conservatism,' first published in The Objective Standard. Today, Part Five: Neoconservatism. (You can find Part Four here.)

Today we look at the neoconservative welfare-warfare state. How does it work? How does it differ from a liberal welfare state? And how exactly do the neocons reconcile Adam Smith and Karl Marx, Hayek and Trotsky.

"Neconservatives reject the fundamental principles of a free society," says Thompson. They would view an attempted return even to to the pre-New Deal world of Franklin Roosevelt "as not only impractical and fanciful, but, more importantly, as immoral." So for them the founding principles of the United States are just anathema.

The problem with the Founders’ liberalism, according to [neoconservative theorist Irving] Kristol, is that it begins with the individual, and a philosophy that begins with the “self” must accommodate and allow for selfishness, choice, and the pursuit of personal happiness. A secular capitalist society—a society that enables its citizens to pursue their self-interest—inevitably degenerates, he argues, into a culture of isolated individuals driven solely by the joyless quest for creature comforts. A free society grounded on the protection of individual rights leads inexorably to an amiable philistinism, an easygoing nihilism and, ultimately, to “infinite emptiness.”38

In other words, according to Kristol and friends, the principles espoused by John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison lead inevitably to the Marquis de Sade, Abby Hoffman, and Jerry Springer.
It should be no surprise that neocons and cons alike should be opposed --ideologically opposed -- to any idea of rational selfishness. As a colleague of mine points out:

It is important to understand that Conservatives don't understand the American Revolution as a revolution of ideas. They regard it more as an evolution.

The original credo of conservatives is accordingly, not as laid out by the Founding Fathers, but by their Pilgrim forefathers. The character traits that the New Conservatives want to establish harks back to the ones that the Puritans regarded as virtuous. Accordingly, the ideas that generate their policies are the ones in Jefferson's Bible, and not the ones contained in his philosophy of Government. For those interested in pursuing this thought futher, here is a speech by Robert Cushman, one of the original pilgrims The Sin and Danger of Self Love

Note that his premise is the exact opposite of Rational Egoism

Just as it is for the neocons.
Neocons agree with the underlying moral principles of the socialists; they disagree merely over the best means to achieve their shared ends. As do all good socialists, neocons hold that welfare should be regarded as a right because it is grounded in people’s “needs”—and, as Kristol explains, for the neocons, “needs” are synonymous with rights...
So how does a conservative welfare state work? And how does it differ from a liberal welfare state? Behind all the rhetoric, the shabby secret is that there is very little difference except how and by whom the readies are doled out. Both liberals and neocons opposed Clinton's refoms of the welfare state. Both liberals and neoncons promise cradle to grave nannying. The neocons, who (like Roger Douglas) talk about socalist ends through capitalist means simply insist that the all-powerful state should provide, but people should be allowed some "choice." The state will continue to put its hand in your pocket, increasingly so say neocons, but "the people choose their own “private” social security accounts; they choose their own “private” health and child-care providers; and parents receive vouchers and choose which schools their children will attend."
The choices, of course, are not the wide-open choices of a free market; rather, the people are permitted to choose from among a handful of pre-authorized providers. The neocons call this scheme a free-market reform of the welfare state.
Socialist ends through capitalist means, you see (or at least "conservative" means, capitalism not being the process so described). And as far as the neocons' "big idea" goes, that's it. George Bernard Shaw observed years ago that a government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always rely on the support of Paul. The neocons rob Peter, rob Paul, and channel that money to the providers pre-approved by the ruling party (who can expect to show their gratitude in the appropriate way), clipping the ticket on the way on behalf of the paternalitic state.

As Thompson observes of this roundabout of venality,
If compassionate conservatism injected love into the hardened arteries of Republican politics, then neoconservatism infused blood-thinning cynicism into the Republican blood stream. Neoconservatism is a political philosophy concerned with, above all else, power. Like socialists, neocons want political power to create a certain kind of society—a virtuous society guided by the right purposes—purposes that they are very reluctant to share with the general public. They also believe that if government is in the hands of the wise and good, it ought not to be limited too much by constitutional rules and boundaries. The neocons are much more concerned about “who rules” than they are about the limits of political rule.
In the end neocons eschew principles for pragmatism. This is what neocons laughingly call a "governing philosophy."
The most remarkable issue about the neocons’ notion of a “governing philosophy” is that it is a strategy for governing without philosophy. The neocons unabashedly describe themselves as pragmatists; they eschew principles in favor of a mode of thinking—and they scorn thinking about what is moral in favor of thinking about what “works.” For over twenty-five years, they have fought an ideological war against ideology.
I did tell you this wouldn't be pretty.

The neocons urge Republicans to drop their limited-government principles and to consider only the immediate problems of the present, unconnected to all other problems, and without reference to principles. According to Irving Kristol, “there are moments when it is wrong to do the right thing.” This is Kristol‘s “First Law” of politics:

There are occasions where circumstances trump principles. Statesmanship consists not in being loyal to one’s avowed principles (that’s easy), but in recognizing the occasions when one’s principles are being trumped by circumstances. . . . The . . . creative statesman, one who possesses some political imagination, will see such occasions as possible opportunities for renewed political self-definition.50

In other words, Kristol’s advice to Republicans is: Stop taking your principles so seriously (as if that were ever a problem). The successful statesman, he argues, is chameleon-like in his ability to redefine his principles in the light of changing circumstances. Don’t concern yourselves with principles; concern yourselves with acquiring and keeping power.

Never mind "the vision thing" -- about which George Bush Sr. agonised -- give yourself over instead to absolute rule, and let the other side seek out new visions . That's the neocon ticket. The three most important rules for aboslute rule: Compromise, compromise and compromise. The fourth rule: if visions arise that are going to happen anyway, then just roll over and make sure you take the credit.
If liberals launch a national campaign for socialized medicine, Republicans should steal the issue from the Democrats and advocate a system of universal health care but one that allows people to choose their own doctor or HMO. If liberals commence a public campaign against the profits of “big business” or the salaries of their executives, Republicans should neutralize liberal pretensions by encouraging “greedy” and “profiteering” corporate executives to voluntarily donate their profits to charities. If radical environmentalists launch a public relations campaign against global warming, Republicans should encourage American companies to hire environmentalists as advisors. If feminists propose to nationalize pre-school child care, Republicans should go along but insist that parents be given vouchers to send their children to the day-care facility of their choice.

This is what it means to “think politically.”

Why would anyone support neocon government if this is all they have to offer? Well, you tell me. They offer leadership, but in a direction to be set by their opponents. They offer the free market, but only one shackled to provide "vouchers" for the welfare state. They offer vision, but only of ever bigger and ever more paternalistic government. As Ayn Rand said of the American conservatives back in in 1960, "If the "conservatives" do not stand for capitalism, they stand for and are nothing; they have no goal, no direction, no political principles, no social ideals, no intellectual values, no leadership to offer anyone." Today's conservatives stand for and are nothing.
Their advice to the Republican Party is to compromise and accept the moral ends of liberal-socialism, but with the caveat that conservatives can do a better job of doling out the goods and services.

Observe who is being asked to compromise what here. Conservatives are being asked to compromise their principles. Liberals are being asked to compromise only the way in which welfare is delivered. Moral appeasement of this sort serves only to embolden the Left, a lesson that conservatives seem constitutionally unable to learn. They fail to grasp that compromising one principle inevitably leads to hundreds of compromises in practice. In this relationship, liberalism will always have the upper hand and will always dictate the future...

According to Kristol, the “idea of a welfare state is in itself perfectly consistent with a conservative political philosophy—as Bismarck knew, a hundred years ago.”56 In addition to TR and FDR, the neocons add Bismarck to their list of statesman-like heroes. The neocons’ new Republican Party seeks to restore not a Jeffersonian model of government, but rather the Prussian welfare state.

This, according to the neocons, is what it means to be “in the ‘American grain.’” This is their contribution to “the stupid party” and to American life.

So "the stupid party" rolls on, while its ruling ideology rolls over any principles it once might have had.

But hasn't there been any successes to speak of? Any runs on the board? Have the big government neocons sold out so abjectly to their liberal-socialism of their opponents that there is nothing whatsoever to celebrate? Tune in tomorrow and find out.

'CONSERVATISM: A NEW OBITUARY,' THE SERIES SO FAR: LINKS: The Objective Standard, a journal of culture and politics.
Cartoon by Cox and Forkum
The sin and danger of self love - Robert Cushman (Plymouth, 1642)

RELATED: Politics-US, Politics, Objectivism, History-Modern, History-Twentieth Century

Mini-tutorial: Erotic symbolism in visual art

Erotic symbolism. There, that's got your attention. Artist Michael Newberry gives a mini-tutorial on erotic symbolism in art here. Good stuff.

Georgia O'Keeffe, Light Iris, 1924.
Representational painting, such as landscapes, people, and furniture, is normally viewed at face value. A flower is just a flower; a chair a chair. But the manner in which an artist uses shapes can convey more than the literal content of the painting...
Read on.

LINK: Mini-tutorial: Erotic symbolism in visual art - Michael Newberry


Thursday, 5 October 2006

NOT PC: Service announcement

There's been a few problems under the hood here at 'Not PC.' You've probably noticed that when you visit here you don't always get the freshest content in your browser. Sometimes you'll have to click the refresh button to see today's posts. Sometimes more than once.

And I notice too, for those who read 'Not PC' through their news reader, that you won't even be able to read this post because there's been nothing new on the Atom site feed since Monday Sept 25!

This may all be something to do with 'Not PC' not yet going to Blogger Beta. I might have to do it. Anyone yet had any experiences with Beta? Is Beta better? Or is it not?


Police investigation: Incompetence or corruption?

Subscribers to The Free Radical would have at their fingertips all they need to evaluate the actions of the police in not prosecuting the Labour Party. In the 'Stolen Election' issue (right) released back in July, David Farrar pointed out
not only were Labour let off their over-spending, but they had ignored clear warnings prior to the election from the Chief Electoral Officer, and also reneged on an agreement with the Chief Electoral Officer. Despite all this the Police took no action. Why? The only answers are either incompetence, or timidity towards the Government bordering on corruption. The Police made mistakes so basic that the author has concluded that they should lose their power to investigate and decide upon prosecutions relating to the Electoral Act.
The Police began an 'investigation,' but they took no legal advice, undertook no interviews, kept no records, investigated the wrong thing, and then ran out of time. It was the investigation you have when you're not having an investigation.

A perusal of the papers released from the Police show they made three fundamental errors. These were:
(a) They confused the issue of whether the pledge card should have been funded from a parliamentary budget with the issue of whether it constituted election advertising;

(b) They didn’t even investigate the more serious over-spending offence, instead focusing all their efforts on the lack of authorisation;

(c) They failed to realise an offence under Section 221 is one of strict liability, where intent is not necessary.
Incompetence or corruption? Both? Hard to know for sure, but we do know:
During the period of the investigation, many senior police officers were applicants for the roles of Police Commissioner and Deputy Police Commissioner -- which are personally appointed by the Prime Minister. One can only wonder how much of an impact this had on the police decision making...
Indeed. And if you want to keep three months ahead of the play, then maybe you should think about subscribing to The Free Rad now ...

LINK: Free Radical 71: The Stolen Election - SOLO

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-Labour, Darnton V Clark

Conservatism: A new obituary (part 3) - The "neocons"

Continuing the series of excerpts from Prof. Brad Thompson's article 'The Decline and Fall of American Conservatism,' first published in The Objective Standard. Today, Part Four: Neoconservatism. (You can find Part Three here.)

"The era of small government is over." That's the claim of a leading theorist of neoconservatism, "the reigning ideology of the conservative movement and Republican policy makers."

"Over the last 25 years," says Brad Thompson, "neoconservatism has come to dominate the conservative establishment, and, today, it is barely an exaggeration to say that neoconservatism is conservatism." Whatever the influence of "compassionate conservatism" within the ranks of American conservatism (which we discussed yesterday), neconservatism is the ideological top dog.
The neocons are, arguably, the most intellectually active faction of the post-war intellectual Right. They teach at the best universities; they run the wealthiest conservative philanthropic foundations; they control the leading conservative think tanks; they manage the leading conservative journals and magazines; and they have a significant presence in the major media. The neocons have become so influential and so confident of their place in the conservative intellectual establishment that one of their most articulate spokesmen, David Brooks of The New York Times, has declared: “We’re all neoconservatives now.”
Why neo? And how did this variant of conservatism come to dominate American conservatism -- and what has this domination meant for American politics, and what might it mean for ours?
In a much-discussed essay entitled “The Neoconservative Persuasion,” Irving Kristol, doyen of the neocons, sums up their agenda: Their aim is to “convert the Republican Party, and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills, into a new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy.”31
Neoconservatism, Kristol writes, is the first variant of 20th-century conservatism that is “in the ‘American grain.’” What an extraordinary claim! The implication, of course, is that traditional conservatism (including Goldwater conservatism)—with its proclaimed attachment to Jeffersonian principles of individual rights, limited government, and economic freedom—is outside the American grain or even un-American.

... “The era of small government is over,” [neoconservative columnist David] Brooks announces; “reducing the size of government cannot be the governing philosophy for the next generation of conservatives.”
So there you have it, and straight from the horses' mouths (and these are some pretty shabby, big-government-worshipping horses, really): “The era of small government is over ... reducing the size of government cannot be the governing philosophy for the next generation of conservatives.” So much for the Jeffersonian idea that "the government that governs best governs least."

According to Kristol and co., that Jeffersonian idea is "outside the American grain." How so? Because they say so. Small government is out; big government is in; and we are still at war with Eurasia.

So if Jefferson and the Founding Fathers are so clearly outside the pale for these state-worshippers of the right, just who exactly is in their pantheon?
At the top of the neocon’s pantheon of American heroes are three individuals who had a major destructive impact on individual rights in America: Herbert Croly, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. [Wouldn't you know it!] This is the same Herbert Croly who bragged that his political philosophy was “flagrantly socialistic both in its methods and its objects,” the same TR who said that “every man holds his property subject to the general right of the community to regulate its use to whatever degree the public welfare may require it,” and the same FDR who insisted that all Americans must act “as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of the common discipline.”33

What unites Croly and the Roosevelt cousins is the idea that the individual should be subordinated to a paternalistic state. That the neocons would turn to such a statist triumvirate for inspiration and guidance reveals much about their plan to “reform” the Republican Party.
Doesn't it just. According to the neocons -- "former Trotskyists in the 1930s and 40s and then liberals in the 50s and 60s" -- these "neocons [who] have never abandoned their deepest moral commitments" says Thompson -- according to these "thinkers" old-fashioned ideas outside the "American grain" include such "eccentricities" as natural rights, individualism, limited government, and laissez-faire capitalism. These, they say, are "ideas better forgotten than defended. The neocons, therefore, follow their hero Herbert Croly’s admonition to his fellow Progressive socialists that 'Reform is both meaningless and powerless unless the Jeffersonian principle of non-interference is abandoned'.” That would depend, as you might expect, on the nature of the reform you are trying to bring about.
Not surprisingly, then, the Old Right’s opposition to the New Deal appalls the neocons.... Ironically, what really bothers the neocons about small-government Republicans is that they are too principled, too ideological, and too beholden to an outdated Jeffersonian conception of government. The neocons regard such ideological nostalgia as “doctrinaire” and as fostering “moral self-righteousness.”36

The problem with the Founders’ liberalism, according to Kristol, is that it begins with the individual, and a philosophy that begins with the “self” must accommodate and allow for selfishness, choice, and the pursuit of personal happiness. A secular capitalist society—a society that enables its citizens to pursue their self-interest—inevitably degenerates, he argues, into a culture of isolated individuals driven solely by the joyless quest for creature comforts. A free society grounded on the protection of individual rights leads inexorably to an amiable philistinism, an easygoing nihilism and, ultimately, to “infinite emptiness.”38

In other words, according to Kristol and friends, the principles espoused by John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison lead inevitably to the Marquis de Sade, Abby Hoffman, and Jerry Springer. If the growth of the state represented the road to serfdom for Hayek, limiting the state to the protection of individual rights represents the road to nihilism for the neocons. The great political lesson that the neocons have successfully taught other conservatives and their Republican students over the course of the last twenty-five years is to embrace rather than resist the growth of the state.

The neocons are committed proponents of what Kristol calls a “conservative welfare state.”39
Again, straight from the horse's mouth. These people, it should be clear enough by now, are not your friends, not if small government is a value.
Kristol is deeply committed to the moral ends of the welfare state... Kristol regards the “socialist ideal” not only as “admirable” but also as a “necessary ideal, offering elements that were wanting in capitalist society—elements indispensable for the preservation, not to say perfection, of our humanity.” Kristol praises utopian socialism because it is “community-oriented” rather than “individual-oriented.” He admires socialism’s ideal man for transcending the “vulgar, materialistic, and divisive acquisitiveness that characterized the capitalist type of individual.”42 This comes from the author of Two Cheers for Capitalism, regarded (falsely) by some as one of the most important moral defenses of capitalism written in the twentieth century.43 Presumably Kristol saved his third cheer for the moral ideal espoused by his first ideological love, Leon Trotsky.
Neocons agree with the underlying moral principles of the socialists; they disagree merely over the best means to achieve their shared ends. As do all good socialists, neocons hold that welfare should be regarded as a right because it is grounded in people’s “needs”—and, as Kristol explains, for the neocons, “needs” are synonymous with rights:
In our urbanized, industrialized, highly mobile society, people need governmental action of some kind if they are to cope with many of their problems: old age, illness, unemployment, etc. They need such assistance; they demand it; they will get it. The only interesting political question is: How will they get it?45
Tomorrow we'll see what a paternalistic, neoconservative, big-government welfare state actually look likes. And I have to warn all you Jeffersonian aherents to small government, individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism that it ain't pretty.

Tomorrow we look at the neoconservative welfare-warfare state. How does it work? How does it differ from a liberal welfare state? And how exactly do the neocons reconcile Adam Smith and Karl Marx, Hayek and Trotsky.

Tune in tomorrow and find out.

'CONSERVATISM: A NEW OBITUARY,' THE SERIES SO FAR: LINKS: The Objective Standard, a journal of culture and politics.
Cartoon by Cox and Forkum

RELATED: Politics-US, Politics, Objectivism, History-Modern, History-Twentieth Century