Great Minds, Great Reads
Unscheduled work demands preclude us from sharing our wisdom and enlightening you with the illumination that shines into the dark recesses that haunt you.
If the leaders of the free world cannot respond appropriately and decisively to any direct act of war against the West on the part of Iran--no matter how egregious-- then the behavior of Iran's leaders is not likely to change.
On the contrary, the provocative behavior will very likely escalate and become even more malignant, inching closer and closer to their real objective. They can count on the self-absorbed pacifists of the left obscuring the moral landscape sufficiently to clear a path for Iran to initiate the next holocaust.
The mullahs have been watching the West's tepid responses to their escalating and arrogant behavior with great interest. They observe the useful idiots of the left in America and Europe allying themselves with the Islamofascist agenda. Both of these observations have led them certainly to conclude that they can get away with practically any behavior now.
The fatwa and all the repeated unambiguous and deliberate warnings made by both extremists like Ahmadinejad and so-called moderates like Rafsanjani, demonstrate that Iran has now placed all their religious ducks in a row in order to be able to use nuclear weapons against "the enemies of Islam" (guess who?) without the necessity of experiencing any shame.
Shrinkwrapped has posted a two parter, The Emerging Paradoxes. In his usual measured way, Shrink asses the reality around him- and does so in a thoughtful and thought provoking way.
From Part One:
One of the themes I write about on this Blog is the tension between our increasingly complex modern world and those cultures that resist entering into modernity. Two of the most complex and nuanced approaches to the conflict inherent in our increasingly globalized world are Tom Barnett and John Robb.
Tom Barnett brilliantly espouses the view that increased connectivity will inevitably lead to moderation and increased freedom; globalization demands transparency and economic freedom which ultimately requires personal and political freedom, though the shape of the political system will be uniquely suited to the cultures of the participants. In Barnett's terms, the allure of the Core must inevitably subvert the Gap.
John Robb equally brilliantly elucidates the dangers of globalization when hijacked by those who wish to use our increased connectivity to subvert and destroy the globalization that empowers them. Robb would propose that the Gap will subvert the Core, not only by enlarging the Gap in the third world, but by ultimately eroding the Core from within.
Between the two they have described the modern dialectic between our progressive and regressive tendencies.
At the same time the Democrats and Republicans enact their own dialectic that is related to Barnett and Robb.
From Part Two:
It is a sad fact that no society has ever been organized in such a way that everyone can succeed equally. Despite multiple, usually deadly, experiments in the last century, societies structured to avoid inequality have brought terrible suffering to millions of people and failed in almost every way to make life better for its members. By the end of the last century, during the 1990's vacation from history, a near universal concensus emerged that liberal democracy wedded with capitalism presented the greatest good for the greatest number, an idea that apparently still needs to be re-learned on a regular basis.
One essential reality recognized implicitly by this formulation is that all societies will have members who fail to thrive. Whether these people are doomed to failure because of personal constitutional qualities, characterological flaws, cultural or familial defects, there will always be some who cannot take part constructively in society...
The modern, globalized world offers rich rewards to those able and willing to become full participants (although sometimes the full benefits are only available to the future generation) and those who cannot or will not take advantage of globalism's opportunities face bleak prospects.
Neo-neocon (fearless leader and techno-wizard of the Sanity Squad) has some wonderfully written posts that are about as engaging as engaging gets. She covers everything from politics to pop culture and she does it well. Start at the top and keep reading. You won't be disappointed.
This morning my doorbell rang at 6:15 AM.
And rang. And rang and rang and rang.
I don’t usually have visitors at that hour of the day, announced or un. I live in a quiet residential neighborhood and it’s rare that my doorbell rings at all, unless it’s an expected guest. Six-fifteen AM is not an hour when I’m usually awake, and if even the phone rings at that time I consider it Bad News.
When I collected myself enough to understand that yes, indeed, my doorbell was in fact actually ringing, and rather insistently at that, I had to decide whether or not to answer it. My front door has one of those peepholes that allow you to view the visitor, but when I looked out there was no one there. So I decided to forget about it.
Ten minutes later it happened again. This time I glanced out an upstairs window to see whether I could ascertain who was standing there at this highly unusual hour. My view was partially obstructed, so I didn’t know for sure, but I wasn’t able to see anyone. I looked through the door peephole again, and saw nothing but the house across the street. So perhaps my visitor was a young child, a dwarf, or a specter that had somehow (as in the movie “Ghost”) managed to bridge the gap between the spirit and material worlds to make a physical impression on the latter...
If nothing else, be sure to read The Anchoress' two excellent and timely posts on immigration, Minutemen: Bush’s Instincts Better Than Some and Bush Betrayal & The Nation’s Soul. The comment threads are excellent and thought provoking.
Finally, there is Gagdad Bob, one of the smartest guys out there (which is a nice way of saying that if you knew everything he forget, you'd be brilliant).
...If you do not respect this distinction between the absolute and the relative -- between revelation and the human margin -- then you are likely to confuse the God-given and the manmade. To cite another obvious example, Catholic teachers down through the centuries have also had a lot of erroneous ideas about economics that have greatly hindered economic development in countries where they predominate.
Even now, Catholic majority countries generally trail Protestant countries economically because of this legacy of economic innumeracy. It wasn't that these were bad people. It's just that they didn't know anything about economics, but were trying to achieve a "just" economic system by drawing out certain implications of the Bible. At a certain point, many Catholic theologians became more leftist than Catholic, meaning that they were well beyond the human margin and into the "all too human," at best.
In general, religious thinkers have often expressed great hostility to capitalism, probably because of a perceived difficulty reconciling it with the virtues. Indeed, the engine of capitalism might appear to such a person to revolve around the free exercise of certain deadly sins. In 1697, Father Thomasin wrote that "those who lend at interest... think they are doing nothing against reason, against equity, and finally against divine law.... Yet, if no one acquired or possessed more than he needed for his maintenance and that of his family, there would be no destitute in the world at all."
It cannot be emphasized enough that theologians are not economists. This being the case, they generally embrace mankind's "default" economic setting, which is a kind of crude communism that I believe is programmed into our genes. It is precisely this leftist genetic programming that we must transcend in order to facilitate a rational economy that creates and sustains the conditions that gradually materially elevate everyone. Or, to turn it around, if we had attempted to follow these religious thinkers' ideas of "just economic doctrine," we'd all still be living in the Dark Ages. But that never stops the left from trying. Again, "progressivism" is an atavistic tendency lodged deep within our genetic endowment -- which is why it is so difficult to eliminate it from the human "meme pool," since it "feels right" to many people, despite being so demonstrably destructive and dysfunctional.
A photograph is not just a literal translation but a transformation, as is perception itself. To perceive something is to transform an object in such a way that certain abstract coordinates and relationships are preserved, while others are distorted. If you consider the modern art of the early 20th century, for example, artists were attempting to stretch the coordinates between object and image in creative new ways. One could say that James Joyce did the same with language. Instead of trying to use it like a photograph to map reality in a 1:1 manner (which is impossible anyway), he used language in a new "holographic" way, so that it in turn mirrored the hyperdimensional nature of consciousness itself. He was actually using language to alter consciousness in such a way that a new view of reality emerged.
For one thing, where is the line between the dreamer who dreams the dream and the one who experiences it? In this regard, a dream is very much like a spider's web, which the spider spins out of its own substance and then proceeds to inhabit. Human beings are no different, only on a more abstract plane. Do you really think that the web a leftist spins out of his psychic substance and then inhabits is anything like your web? Or an atheist? Or an Islamist? All of these, in their own way, are completely entangled in a web that they themselves create, become entangled in, and take for reality.
How to extricate oneself from the psychic webs we create? "History," wrote Joyce, "is the nightmare from which I am trying to awaken." When I watched the Democrat debate the other evening, I could see how all of the candidates wear offering their "prescription for a nightmare." The nature of leftism prevents the one and only true cure, which is to say, "just wake up." No. Leftism is the philosophy of creating newer and stronger soporifics in order to keep man asleep. In so doing, it aggravates the symptoms it is supposedly treating, and simply makes the nightmare worse. Plus, people get hooked on leftist prescriptions, and require more and more of them in order to stay asleep, just like an addict...
Furthermore, just as in a mental patient, the more unpleasant reality impinges, the more denial is necessary. Terrorists want to blow up JFK? It's Bush's fault. Zzzzzz. We now see that some one third of Democrats have created a nightmare in which the United States government is actually responsible for 9-11. As it stands, it is probably fair to say that 90% of Democrats believe that the Iraq war was not waged for the reasons so stated by the administration, but for some sinister ulterior purpose that no sane person has yet been able to describe.See? You're smarter already. Read as much Gagdad Bob as you can. Think of One Cosmos as an online grad school.