Thursday, November 22, 2012

notes/various/posted (by me) elsewhere

Responding to DeLong  [once again he allows the comment, leaves it up for a week or more then removes it]
"Count me again as a vote after the fact for the Morgenthau plan, with the stipulation that the Rhineland would be ceded to the Jews. That alone might have almost made me a Zionist. The Conquest of Palestine certainly didn't." 
Responding to Corey Robin (with repeats)
“The ancients sought virtue, a life of excellence lived in and through the polis; the moderns (Machiavelli, Descartes, Bacon, Hobbes, and Locke) perpetrate ‘a lowering of aims.’ ”

True enough.
_Arguments for the nobility of greed are a recent development._

If, by “recent” you mean 1705, you may be right.
When Bertram realized he was responding to me [the first line], the original comment was removed. He forgot to remove his own. [he also removed my response, where I said yes, that's what I'd meant]

Liberals and modern conservatives are individualists; conservatives of the older tradition are not. They may recognize self-interest as a given but they do not defend it as a good.

It continues to amaze me that American liberal college professors (as “intellectuals”) read all the Continental crap while ignoring the core arguments: the mockery of liberal self-aggrendizement and the liberal celebration of self-interest. Conservatism gave us grandeur and barbarism, pessimism and vows of poverty. Liberalism gives us optimism and the earnest morality of greed. You do understand that Foucault is mocking democracy?

“First, I’m sympathetic, I really am, to the idea that people should work and consume less and that we should attend more to real life quality. But this doesn’t seem very realistic in my own life for two reasons: first, even if my employer were sympathetic (unlikely) I feel very hard pressed now to produce the level of research output necessary for me to stay competitive with other academics (not just in the UK, but elsewhere). I suspect this generalizes to many people in professional jobs: we couldn’t achieve the kinds of things we want to in our careers on those kinds of hours.
“I’d live the life of the mind, but then I couldn’t afford cable.”
another comment (and again with repeats)
That’s no necessary defense of Levin. I’m reading the piece now. As far as Burke is concerned I wonder what he’d say of Levin’s opinion as to the colonization of Palestine. And the AEI’s definition of capitalism is fundamentally medieval. Still…

Daniel Callahan: “the research imperative”
Though unfamiliar to most scientists and the general public, the term expresses a cultural problem that caught my eye. It occurs in an article written by the late Protestant moral theologian Paul Ramsey in 1976 as part of a debate with a Jesuit theologian, Richard McCormick. McCormick argued that it ought to be morally acceptable to use children for nontherapeutic research, that is, for research with no direct benefit to the children themselves and in the absence of any informed consent. Referring to claims about the “necessity” of such research, Ramsey accused McCormick of falling prey to the “research imperative”, the view that the importance of research could overcome moral values.

That was the last time I heard of the phrase for many years, but it informs important arguments about research that have surfaces with increasing force of late. It captures, for instance, the essence of what Joshua Lederberg, a Nobel laureate for his work on genetics and president emeritus of Rockefeller University once remarked to me: “The blood of those who will die if biomedical research is not pursued will be upon the hands of those who don’t do it.”
War communism in the war on disease.

Modern conservatives are economic liberals; modern liberals defend social liberalism as measured by their own best intentions. Between Burke and Rawls I’d choose Burke. “Liberalism” and “Conservatism” are words floating in a sea of language, their meanings change over time and from place to place. Without a knowledge of history there’s no understanding of either. Decartes wrote “History is like foreign travel. It broadens the mind, but it does not deepen it.” Nietzsche’s professional title was not philosopher but philologist.

The only valid attack on liberalism from the standpoint of the old conservatism comes from the left. Better a Luddite than a Benthamite in the googleplex.

A contemporary Burkean quotes Oliver Wendell Holmes:
His account of the Communists shows in the most extreme form what I came to loathe in the abolitionists–the conviction that anyone who did not agree with them was a knave or a fool. You see the same in some Catholics and some of the ‘Drys’ apropos of the 18th amendment. I detest a man who knows that he knows.
That’s not the answer to John Brown, or Hamas, both of whom in retrospect seem necessary, though the latter has moderated as Israel has not. Zionists also know what they know, and they knew it first. Life’s a bitch.
one more
"In an essay published in early 1879 called ‘The True Reason of Man’s Happiness’, al-Afghani denounced British claims to have civilized India by introducing such benefits of modernist as railways, canals and schools. In his defense of India, al-Afghani was ecumenical, praising Hindus as well as Muslims. Echoing Edmund Burke, who had asserted that Indians were people ‘for ages civilized and cultivated -cultivated by all the arts of polished life, whilst we were yet in the woods’, al-Afghani dismissively asked why the English ‘who suffered for long ages and wandered in wild and barbaric valleys’ should presume to speak of the ‘deficiency’ of the glorious ‘sons of Brahma and Mahadev, the founders of human sharias and establishers of civilized laws.’

Al-Afghani went on to argue that the British improved transport and communication in order to drain India’s wealth to England and facilitate trade for British merchants. Western style schools, he argued, were meant merely to turn Indians into English-speaking cogs of the British Administration.”

Pankaj Mishra, From the Ruins of Empire
ref. Nikki Keddie, Sayyid Jamāl ad-Dīn al-Afghani: A Political Biography.
To understand Brooks, this... 
is all you need to know.

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