“The men and women killed on September 11 were not citizens of a democracy; they were earners, and rewards would be distributed accordingly. Virtually no one-not even the commentators and politicians who denounced the Feinberg calculus for other reasons-criticised this aspect of his decision.” (p.218)
Thankfully I did not receive any new books for Christmas this year (2018) which is great, considering that I still haven’t read the ones I received last year.
After all of my political outbursts and writings there could hardly be a better title to end my “Things To Read“ section with in 2018 than Corey Robin’s “The Reactionary Mind- Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Donald Trump.“
I have a deep admiration for good writers displaying broad vocabulary usage, especially those who engage in extensive harvesting of information.
This is its own virtuosity for sure and I find it very impressive.
Characters like Robin would probably not be particularly gobsmacked by my own writings but see it as a source of opinions in a bundle of many.
That being said; Corey’s work is an analogue data-base of other people’s opinions presented to those of us who are not academics or to those who are hoping to climb that mountain.
He presents his collection of conservative thinkers brilliantly and convincingly argues his point.
It is particularly illuminating for someone like myself to read it; in fact I would go so far as to call it mandatory reading for anyone on the right spectrum of politics.
What really stood out to me and what I ended up highlighting in the book were sections regarding economics.
I was stunned to read quotes from Hobbes who would have greeted a 1984 super-state with open arms. His definition of free-will is something that I’ve come to consistently ridicule pointing out to my relatives when reading, talking or hearing about abusive behaviour: “well according to Hobbes this is free-will in action if you choose to be a victim!”
I was equally mortified by Edmund Burke’s view on labour but certainly saw in his writings the justification for wage-slavery in today’s modern world.
It is simply impossible for an individual to condemn chained-slavery in one sentence only to proclaim that one endorses freedom and liberty while endorsing Burke. There is no such thing.
Edmund Burke had no respect for the individual or humanity as quoted in Robin’s book. A terrifying individual whose theories should be held up as a horror-example of what one should fight against.
Likewise, I was angered when reading quotes from Ayn Rand who came across as a delusional fraud, the antichrist incarnate, without any concern for her fellow humans at all. Robin demonstrated this by comparing quotes from her with quotes from Hitler. They aligned perfectly.
Thank God for Adam Smith who came across as the only sensible thinker in regards to labour.
Obviously it all made me think about my own efforts in regards to my art and inspired me to initiate a new art-concept for this year (2019) named: “The Value of Labour.“
I will not go into great detail in describing this particular art-project until the end of the year.
“When labor becomes the norm, in both senses of the term, culture does not stand a chance.” (p.163)
I highlighted several quotes in the book that were of great interest, but I will not quote them all here since it dawned upon me during Christmas that I have a tendency to write rather large book-reviews and quote what I read to such an extent that it all becomes a bit too much.
Ultimately I want people to read the books that I mention but I also want to share information since we live in a time where people don’t seem to take reading seriously!
I have to say that it feels strange to read a book written in proper American. Rather than writing labour, the text goes for labor instead. The same can be said for the usage of the letter z or c vs. s. After having gotten used to the more French way of writing English words, it feels like I’m reading simplified English.
What I find troubling about “The Reactionary Mind“ is that Corey Robin is portraying Democrats and liberals as inherently peaceful and “lame” which couldn’t be further from the truth, he also fails in addressing current political movements such as: transgenderism, LGBTQ, 3rd wave feminism, racism, censorship and iconoclasm, and declarations of total war written by members of the political left, etc;
His criticism and portrayal of Trump also falls into the category of “Orange man bad,“ with the by now familiar name-calling. He adds to this by quoting “The Art Of The Deal,“ a book ghost written by Tony Schwartz.
It is difficult to find anything illuminating in regards to Trump’s character, barring the support of his children and friends of the family. After all of the negative articles that I’ve read (and openly ridiculed here on my blog) I’ve only come across three sources in regards to Trump’s personality that can be seen as plausible or informative. One is the video of Tony Schwartz in Oxford, another is the video interview with one of the women alleging that they had an affair, the other is a long article in The New Yorker written about his tv-show “The Apprentice.” What these three have in common is that they align and paint the sort of picture that would be credible considering Trump’s vast wealth and business accomplishments; all other critics are namely repeating the same words over and over without ever giving any reasons for why they are doing so…
That being said it is unlikely that anyone will care much for what Schwartz have to say for himself since Trump’s larger than life personality and star eclipses that of a journalist hired to write about another man’s accomplishments…
Trump’s magnitude is so immense that it is impossible to come across a media outlet not mentioning him (the publishing houses clearly see it as their mission to use any outlet to influence potential voters), impossible to come across anyone in the music industry who does not have an official opinion broadcasted on their social media (regardless of their size and influence), his very presence has driven his political adversaries to nothing but visible madness; it is not even possible to go to a random coffee-house in Cheltenham without overhearing the neighbouring table talk about Trump’s latest Tweets.
Such is his fame and such is his influence.
He has made everyone reveal themselves and their true colours on an international scale.
Those who want: border security, a crack-down on gang-warfare, private guns, religion, jobs and a future for their families love the man and are his fans; those who hate him want: no borders, no jobs, no police, no private guns, no religion, and no children.
Yet those who oppose him do not really see this since all they chant is: “Orange man bad,“ they are fighting an unjust system presided over by a bigot – in their opinion.
His most devout fans burnt their Nike gear to show their contempt for “flag-disrespecter“ Colin Kaepernick. Meanwhile the political activism on the left increasingly resembles persecution with doxing and physical assaults a staple; it brings to mind “give us the man and we’ll find the crime.“
A most celebrated and respected investigative journalist referred to the spectacle by saying: “this is political war.“
It is also worth noting that liberals were terrified of a potential “military junta“ in the White House when Trump appointed retired Generals to certain positions. Once these characters were fired one by one, the very same people voiced their complaints, since they apparently wanted a military take-over if this take-over would stand opposed (even if just a little bit) to President Trump.
“… or, as the Kagans would later put it, “to intervene decisively in every critical region” of the world, “whether or not a visible threat exists there.” (p.213)
“… to ensure that no other power ever arose to challenge the United States and that no regional powers ever attained preeminence in their local theatres.” (p.214)
There is a real danger of “state-worship“ both on the right and left side of politics. This is never in the interest of the people when contemplating the exploitative nature of the modern “state.“ There is also a danger of denial when people are clueless of past tensions between those who yearn for change and those who oppose this.
Right-wing people do have a tendency to greatly admire enforcement professions only to despise big-government and bureaucracy in the next sentence. I guess it is an admiration for being badass and for being patriotic. I certainly consider myself a fan of the military and others who keep us safe and know how to kick ass!
Ironically enough these enforcement professionals are in our times acting as agents of the very state that conservatives either loathe and/or doubt.
Those on the left side of politics meanwhile bemoans war-mongering from the right, while frequently calling for military interventions in the name of “saving humanity“ or “standing in solidarity“ with whomever. They greatly expand the state “for the greater good“ while simultaneously lamenting “power-abuse,“ “the patriarchy,“ and “hierarchies.“
It is immensely ironic that left-wing characters erect the very abuse time and time again that they criticise or see (whether legitimate or not) in already existing political structures. They do have a tendency of being very right in their analysis of what doesn’t work while failing spectacularly when enacting their remedy. Usually resulting in monumental losses in the millions.
The use of language and grammar is an abuse of power in the mind of a true deconstructionist, yet the ideological children of these radical thinkers are the very ones who are forcing everyone in public academic settings to announce their pronouns and talk like fools.
On the other hand; conservatives regularly re-write and update their own history so that they will not be seen in an unflattering light by whatever modern standards. If you believed in maintaining the established order of your time and you lived in the American South, you would obviously have been pro-slavery, if you believed in maintaining the existing orders in Europe, you would obviously have been pro-Monarchy. If you believed in the captains of industry and this newly established elite you would have supported the suppression of workers, and so and so on.
Establishments and elites change.
I disagree with Corey Robin’s argument that violence is one of the pillars of the conservative mindset and would rather counter-argue that violence is at the heart of humanity as a whole.
Geneticists would obviously know more about the topic.
I take it as self-evident that most lust for power and that few would ever be able to resist the temptation of greatly expanding their spheres of influence if given the chance.
Inevitably this results in the infringement upon other people’s borders and rights to self-rule.
A right is only a right as long as humans decide to respect it, just like a law or a system is only operational as long as people decide to play along with it. The moment that people do not, it will simply cease to exist.
Political orders are living organisms which makes it ironic to be a conservative, unless ones definition of conservative aligns with mine; namely that conservatism means conserving any traces and tools of ones cultural heritage such as: texts, buildings, artefacts, music, practises, languages, etc; in addition to the protection of ones own population group from existential enemies both internal and external.
It would also make sense to include borders but this would not take into consideration our ancestors nomadic tendencies, which led them to move wherever they could find resources. Which grounds to be defended would be defined by the actual value to the tribe. This obviously includes farmland in these “modern“ times of ours.
Expansion due to necessity would also have to be included if concerned with the survival of ones population group, since mass evacuations are sometimes a necessity. You have to be flexible and willing to re-locate if your current territory becomes inhabitable.
Borders follow the tribe.
Traditionalism on the other hand does in my opinion mean that you consciously re-enact past patterns of behaviour, which is something that a great deal of conservatives would not be interested in doing.
In this day and age conservatism is largely seen as a financial model which means that nothing is ever really seen as worth “conserving“ if it gets in the way of the sanctity of “the free market,“ socially there may be a little sprinkle of religion, but this is largely absent from the Nations of Europe.
Lately I’ve been thinking that globalism must appeal to those who see all humans as replaceable cogs in the industrial like state system. If 10 Swedes die tomorrow it makes no difference since 10 Nigerians can be imported to take their place. It is however interesting to note that the argument is never really reversed because then it becomes imperialistic and racist. Overpopulation in Africa can be solved by Europeans not having any kids, in the eyes of a globalist it makes no difference at all if China all of a sudden is swapped demographically with India. We are all just cogs in the machine. This is the only way I can think of to explain their thinking.
It is worth noting however that if celestial beings create humans to worship them you cannot simply exchange them for other creatures while expecting a continuation of praise. This will probably come as a rude awakening to many in the years to come.
When reading this book it is informative to see that conservative critics do have a tendency historically to lament the inertia of the establishment while both fearing and admiring the vitality of revolutionaries.
Like biblical prophets they warn of a looming danger, but a danger nonetheless that seems inevitable.
“What is important is not what freedom I personally would like to exercise but what freedom some person may need in order to do things beneficial to society; this freedom we can assure to the unknown person only by giving it to all.” Hayek (p.159)