Saturday, August 23, 2014

towards a minimalist foreign policy


There’s an interesting post at the Upon Hope blog on the differences between traditional conservatism and paleo-conservatism, making the case that the chief difference is the approach to foreign policy, with paleo-conservatives favouring isolationism and traditional conservatives favouring an interventionist foreign policy.

Mostly I agree with the points made in this post. I agree that a do-nothing foreign policy is impractical. Where we possibly differ is in the nature of interventions that should be pursued. My own view is that the wisest course to follow is one of minimalist intervention. The objective should be to remove the immediate threat and then get out.

As an example, in 2003 I think the wise policy would have been to invade Iraq, destroy and weapons of mass destruction that were found, destroy Iraq’s capability to produce such weapons in future, give the Iraqi military the mother of all bloody noses, and then withdraw. I do not believe the objective should have been to change Iraq’s government. I believe Saddam Hussein should have been left in power.

This does not mean that I was a fan of Saddam Hussein. I simply believe that regime changes forced upon a country by outside intervention will generally not work. The result is likely to be massive instability and that instability is likely to result, in the fullness of time, in an even worse regime.

I do not believe it is possible for the West to impose “freedom” and “democracy” on other countries by force. If a country does not have the traditions that underpin democracy then it is unlikely to survive. Even more importantly if the basic cultural beliefs and structures that are necessary to democracy do not exist then democracy is very unlikely to survive. Most of the Islamic world does not have these traditions and cultural beliefs. To put it simply, these countries do not want democracy. They see democracy as a mortal threat to their culture, and they see democracy as being responsible for what they perceive to be the wickedness of the West.

In such circumstances it is better not to destroy an existing stable government, even if that government is by western standards an extremely unpleasant government. It is not only possible but probable that you will end up with a worse situation. By installing a weak democratic government you are providing a golden opportunity for radical Islamists to seize power.

Democracy will not work in situations where most of the population is hostile to the very idea of western institutions. 

There is another reason why exporting democracy is a bad idea. Democracy in South Africa was only achieved as a result of meddling by outside powers. The results have been catastrophic. Democracy can only work when the population is culturally and ethnically homogenous. When a nation is divided on racial lines the inevitable result is voting on racial lines. This means that minorities are rendered powerless and defenceless. Such is now the plight of the whites on South Africa, subject to slow genocide by a supposedly democratically elected government. 
The results in Zimbabwe, once again as a result of international meddling, have been even worse. As former Rhodesian leader Ian Smith pointed out years ago, democracy in Africa means one man, one vote, one time. The inescapable end result will be a one-party state.

I am certainly no pacifist, nor do I believe in isolationism. I do believe there are occasions when military action is desirable or even necessary. A weak foreign policy will always be disastrous. What is needed is a strong foreign policy that demonstrates our unwillingness to allow other states to threaten our vital interests. I do however believe that such a strong foreign policy should not be motivated by well-meaning delusions that western-style democratic institutions can be exported to the Third World.

Monday, August 18, 2014

homosexuality and choice


Liberals seem to be fond of the idea that just about everything is a social construct. They seem to be especially keen to view gender and race as social constructs. In the case of gender they have gone beyond the social construct idea and now view gender as something you can pick and choose at will.

Oddly enough they seem to be extraordinarily reluctant to view homosexuality as a social construct, and even more reluctant to view it as a choice.

This seems rather odd. While the whole concept of social constructs is largely nonsense it is, to many people, very attractive nonsense. It implies the possibility of freedom. So if it is seen as a positive thing that people can go shopping for the gender that most appeals to them then why do they not view sexuality the same way? Why do they cling to the notion that where homosexuality is concerned it is a biological given that cannot be altered?

My own personal experience suggests that homosexuality very often is a choice. Certainly there’s little doubt that lesbianism is a choice. I have personally known four lesbians who abandoned their initial choice of lesbianism and chose to become heterosexual. That is anecdotal evidence to be sure, but it is four separate anecdotes, and it has been noted that the plural of anecdote is data.

Homosexuality seems to be a much better fit for both the social construct and choice explanations than race or gender. Race is fairly obviously a reality. Gender on the other hand is an imaginary concept to begin with. Gender is a grammatical term. Words have gender. People come in two sexes, male and female, although you will have a very difficult job to convince liberals of such an obvious biological fact. Gender as applied to people is essentially meaningless. 

Homosexuality on the other hand seems highly likely to be at least partly a choice. A choice based to a considerable degree on peer pressure, social pressure, an immature desire to shock and fashion. You can’t change your race, your ethnicity or your sex but you can certainly choose to be homosexuality. I am not suggesting that is always the case but I suspect that in a substantial number of cases it is a choice.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

time to give apartheid a second chance?

In the wake of the events in Ferguson Fred Reed argues for a new approach. In fact he seems to be arguing that we need to give apartheid a second chance. It might not only be the only hope for white civilisation but also the only hope for black culture, or for other "minority" cultures.

He may well be right. And in fact apartheid is simply multiculturalism taken to its logical conclusion.

Of course this would mean the inevitable destruction (or at least fragmentation) of any nation that tried it, but it might be a way to salvage something from the wreck.

It's certainly obvious that our current approach, based entirely on wishful thinking, is never going to work.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Why I am not a Christian

I believe that the decline of Christianity has been a major factor in the decline of western civilisation. The nihilistic atheism that now dominates our culture fills me with sorrow. But I cannot be a Christian. This announcement by the Catholic League that they are quite happy with seeing Jesus being portrayed as a character who curses, smokes pot, drinks, hits on women and acts as the getaway driver for a drug deal.

There is something not only deeply unhealthy but actively nauseating about a religion that indulges in that amount of self-hatred and groveling to the forces that are openly attacking their faith.

This remark by Pope Francis on why gays are A-OK is another reason.

The worst enemies of Christianity are the leaders of the Christian churches. It is impossible to respect that kind of sniveling cowardice.

Christianity has become the ultimate loser religion. To some extent this kind of weakness has always been inherent in Christianity - an excessive desire to identify with the dregs of society, a tendency to wallow in guilt. In the past these weaknesses seem to have been counter-balanced by other factors that created a certain self-confidence. Self-confidence is now a quality entirely lacking in Christianity.

A society without religion will inevitably collapse into mindless hedonism, moral relativism and nihilism. But what do we do when we have a religion that encourages those very evils?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Abbott's cowardly and groveling backdown

The Abbott government's cowardly and groveling backdown on their promise to repeal the obnoxious Section 18c makes it clear that neither Tony Abbott nor his government can be trusted. Any conservative who believes that a vote for Abbott is a vote for conservative principles is living in a dream world. This is a government with no principles at all. And not the slightest trace of a backbone.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

time to take the razor to the arts


In the 2014 Budget the Abbott federal government made some small cuts to arts funding. The Australia Council budget of $222 million annually was cut by around $10 million. While it’s pleasing to see cuts being made this really is a pathetically timid and inadequate beginning.

The issue the government needs to address is whether the government should have any role at all in the arts. State-subsidised “art” is almost always dire and more often than not the results are not art at all but political propaganda. This might have seemed like a great idea in the heyday of the Soviet Union but it is hardly appropriate in a free society.

State subsidies to the arts have the effect of enforcing political correctness in the arts. Any writer, artist or film-maker hoping for a government grant knows that even the smallest trace of political correctness, even the faintest hint of independent thought, will be enough to ensure that they miss out on a grant. The arts cannot possibly flourish in such a Soviet-style system. 

The reality is that a great many people who currently describe themselves as artists or writers are merely deluding themselves. If you cannot make a living from your art that probably means your art isn’t any good. If no-one wants to buy your art then the obvious conclusion is that you should start looking for another job. You should not expect the taxpayer to support you in luxury for the rest of your life. We also need to ask ourselves how many artists and writers we actually need. If a large proportion of these people can’t support themselves from their art then it is likely that the art and literary markets are suffering from a serious over-supply of artists and writers.

Government subsidies for the arts are nothing more than welfare payments to a self-appointed elite of spoilt parasites. It’s time the arts gravy train was cancelled.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

fighting the mass media addiction


In Addicted to Distraction Bruce Charlton argues that “the mass media is evil - indeed in modernity it is the very source and focus of evil.” He believes that the only way to deal with mass media is to avoid it, and that “the most dangerous delusion is that you personally can filter the Mass Media, decode and see through its biases, selections and lies to discern the truth of the situation.”

He tells us that overcoming this addiction will be unpleasant in the short term but that the long-term rewards make the effort worthwhile.

I have myself tried, reasonably successfully, to break my addiction to the mass media. I do not watch any contemporary television. I do not watch any movies made within the past thirty years, and very few made within the past fifty years. I do not read contemporary fiction. I avoid newspapers. I cannot say that I have broken the addiction entirely but I think I can say that I have gone a long way towards doing so. And it is worth doing. 

I have to admit that my own cure has been a partial one. The difficulty with going cold turkey on mass media is to find a substitute. I’m not the sort of person who enjoys gardening or going for long walks. I’m the sort of person who avoids exercise like the plague. I have no interest in sports or games. My own solution is to immerse myself in the past. 

I still watch television; I just don’t watch the television of today. I still watch movies but the movies I watch are generally movies made seventy or eight years ago. I read novels, but I confine myself to novels written prior to the Second World War. I do not lack for entertainment. In fact I find myself facing an embarrassment of riches. Not only do I still get entertainment - the entertainment provided by the popular culture of the past is infinitely superior to that provided by the dreck that constitutes modern popular culture.

I’m not sure that Bruce Charlton would regard me as cured. He might well think that my cure is a bit of a cheat. I still consume popular culture even if I limit myself to the popular culture of the past. I have to admit that my approach is something of a compromise but then life is very often a matter of accepting compromises. 

My own view is that the mass media is certainly toxic, and that it becomes more toxic with each passing year. By confining my exposure to popular culture to the popular culture of the past I at least avoid the more virulent strains. There is still a good deal of propaganda in the movies and television of the past but opposing viewpoints do occasionally get a hearing. The propaganda is less strident, and not so remorseless. It is easier to avoid the more extreme propaganda. In the past there was still room for dissenting voices.

Avoiding mass media altogether is unquestionably a desirable goal. Those unready to take such a drastic step might find that my approach has something to recommend it. 

I have found that the more I focus on the past the more rewarding it becomes. My enthusiasm for the books, movies and television of the past has led me to create several blogs devoted to these subjects - Vintage Pop Fictions (devoted to pre-1960 genre fiction),  Classic Movie Ramblings (dealing with the movies of the past) and Cult TV Lounge (television of the 50s, 60s and 70s).

My main motivation in starting these blogs was that almost every existing blog and website I’d found devoted to these subjects had a leftist bias.