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Samizdata quote of the day

“People who believe in nothing, including themselves, will ultimately submit to anything.”

Bret Stephens, in the Wall Street Journal.

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101 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • AndrewWS

    While we’re on the subject of the WSJ and people believing in something:

    https://churchpop.com/2016/07/26/wsj-editorial-writer-sohrab-ahmari-converting-catholicism/

  • bob sykes

    A paraphrase of Chesterton. Or maybe not,

    http://www.chesterton.org/ceases-to-worship/

    It would be interesting to know if Stephens knows that or even if he ever heard of Chesterton.

  • shlomo maistre

    The WSJ is part of the modern right-wing and as such is only about 40 years behind the Progressive Left in its political views.

    Here’s what the Right thought when the right was Right:

    Human reason left to its own resources is completely incapable not only of creating but also of conserving any religious or political association, because it can only give rise to disputes and because, to conduct himself well, man needs beliefs, not problems. His cradle should be surrounded by dogmas; and, when his reason awakes, all his opinions should be given, at least all those relating to his conduct. Nothing is more vital to him than prejudices. Let us not take this word in bad part. It does not necessarily signify false ideas, but only, in the strict sense of the word, any opinions adopted without examination. Now, these kinds of opinion are essential to man; they are the real basis of his happiness and the palladium of empires. Without them, there can be neither religion, morality, nor government. There should be a state religion just as there is a state political system; or rather, religion and political dogmas, mingled and merged together, should together form a general or national mind sufficiently strong to repress the aberrations of the individual reason which is, of its nature, the mortal enemy of any association whatever because it gives birth only to divergent opinions.

    All known nations have been happy and powerful to the degree that they have faithfully obeyed this national mind, which is nothing other than the destruction of individual dogmas and the absolute and general rule of national dogmas, that is to say, useful prejudices. Once let everyone rely on his individual reason in religion, and you will see immediately the rise of anarchy of belief or the annihilation of religious sovereignty. Likewise, if each man makes himself the judge of the principles of government you will see immediately the rise of civil anarchy or the annihilation of political sovereignty. Government is a true religion; it has its dogmas, its mysteries, its priests; to submit it to individual discussion is to destroy it; it has life only through the national mind, that is to say, political faith, which is a creed. Man’s primary need is that his nascent reason should be curbed under a double yoke; it should be frustrated, and it should lose itself in the national mind, so that it changes its individual existence for another communal existence, just as a river which flows into the ocean still exists in the mass of water, but without name and distinct reality.

    – Joseph de Maistre

  • I much prefer Voltaire: “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”

  • shlomo maistre

    We all believe absurdities.

  • Some more than others, shlomo, some more than others.

  • I sneeze in threes

    “Do you believe in God, Mr. Le Chiffre?”

    “No. I believe in a reasonable rate of return”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAyCxlIwtYw

  • RRS

    Joseph de Maistre

    pp. 131 et seq.

    Freedom and its Betrayal-
    Six Enemies of Human Liberty

    Isaiah Berlin[Princeton 2002]

    cf. Edmund Burke
    When “The Right was Right.”

  • Laird

    If the sentence is a paraphrase of Chesterton, it’s a very loose one at best. Frankly, I don’t think it owes anything to Chesterton. It’s more akin to the familiar line attributed to Alexander Hamilton: “Those who stand for nothing will fall for anything.” (In fact, that’s probably where Chesterton lifted the idea in the first place.)

    I don’t always agree with Bret Stephens, but this is a good essay and I think he’s right. In my opinion the more important line than the one quoted is “The storm of terror that is descending on Europe will not end in some new politics of inclusion, community outreach, more foreign aid or one of Mrs. Merkel’s diplomatic Rube Goldbergs. It will end in rivers of blood. Theirs or yours?” Britain will be well rid of the corrupting influence (not to say dominance) of the EU; in my opinion you can’t get out fast enough.

    And as long as I’m quoting Hamilton I’ll add another apposite one: “The nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master and deserves one.” That has long described France, and thanks to Merkel it is beginning to describe Germany as well.

  • QET

    I’ll offer this, from Philip Rieff in 1966:

    The systematic hunting down of all settled convictions represents the anti-cultural predicate upon which modern personality is being reorganized, now not only in the West only but, more slowly, in the non-West as well. . . Men already feel freer to live their lives with a minimum of pretense to anything more grand than sweetening the time. . .. The new anti-culture aims merely at an eternal interim ethic of release from the inherited controls. . .Indeed, the therapy of all therapies, the secret of all secrets, the interpretation of all interpretations, is not to attach oneself exclusively or too passionately to any one particular meaning, or object

    He may have been premature insofar as the non-West is concerned.

  • shlomo maistre

    RRS,

    Joseph de Maistre

    pp. 131 et seq.

    Freedom and its Betrayal-
    Six Enemies of Human Liberty

    Isaiah Berlin[Princeton 2002]

    cf. Edmund Burke
    When “The Right was Right.”

    I have read Berlin’s work. It not only did not persuade me of anything substantial but actually further reinforced my belief in the veracity of Joseph de Maistre’s outlook, including that bit represented in the quote above.

    Citing “Six Enemies of Human Liberty” without delving into the content of it convinces me of nothing and actually is basically an appeal to authority.

  • John Galt III

    Europe is acting out an old Czech saying, “Do Laska, bez deti”: To love without children.

    Europe has reverted to its pagan past as no country there succeeded in being ‘elected’ as the Jews were, so the Christian thing for them is over. Thus, having children is a burden but sex is fun.

    Christianity survives in America and some 3rd world countries, but Europe? Too much Cultural/Economic Marxism. The Europeans are now eloi. No 2nd amendment rights to protect themselves as Muslims massacre at will and there are only candlelight vigils and weeping. The political elites don’t give a shit. The police? They have their weapons out 3 hours later and brightly colored tape. The press and the politicians say the same dumbass thing every time, “we are searching for a motive, we have no idea why Mohammed So and So did this.” Ask the Jews in Israel. They know the motive well enough.

    Middle class East Enders like Tommy Robinson have figured this out and is being repaid by relentless crap from the BBC, Labor, the police, the government class, the education class, Labor and on and on……………..

  • shlomo maistre

    John Galt III is generally correct in his July 28 1:00am comment. White Christian Europeans are surrendering their countries, traditions, and future to Islamism because they are spiritual Progressives and are, therefore, unable to keep foreigners out of their countries or reproduce at replacement level.

    I’d disagree, though, that America is in much better shape than Europe. Considering how quickly the American mainstream meekly submitted to the moral authority of the racist and anarchic Black Lives Matter movement, I think that America will submit to Islamism about as rapidly as Europe is once the number of (believing) Muslims in America reaches critical mass.

    As I have said before, the countries that know how to fight Islamic fundamentalism are Israel, India, Japan, among others.

    There’s a lot I don’t know about the history books that will be written in a millennium, but I do think that white Christians won’t be writing the authoritative ones.

  • Darin

    shlomo maistre

    Man’s primary need is that his nascent reason should be curbed under a double yoke; it should be frustrated, and it should lose itself in the national mind, so that it changes its individual existence for another communal existence, just as a river which flows into the ocean still exists in the mass of water, but without name and distinct reality.

    The most perfect definition of totalitarianism you can wish for. Lenin, Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot couldn’t express it more clearly.

    I confess i know little about Joseph de Maistre, but Wikipedia says

    Maistre’s writings influenced not only conservative political thinkers, but also the Utopian socialists.[42] Early sociologists such as Saint-Simon and Comte explicitly acknowledged the influence of Maistre on their own thinking about the sources of social cohesion and political authority.

    If the above quote is representative of De Maistre’s thought, its not suprising at all.

    Do you believe that modern man is too individualist, too driven by reason, and dissolving the individual mind in collective mind, like river dissolves in the sea, would solve modern West problems?

  • Laird

    The mainstream media in the US may have submitted to the BLM cant but not everyone has. There remains a large and basically conservative base in this country which hasn’t yet succumbed to the Progressives, and there does remain a chance for this country to survive. But Shlomo is right that we are lost if Muslims achieve “critical mass”. That’s why, whatever his flaws (and they are legion) Trump is right that we have to stop, or at least significantly limit, their importation.

    I have long maintained that Islam is a cancer which, left unchecked, metastasizes and destroys any country in infects. There is not a single Muslim-dominated country on Earth with a functioning economy or anything approaching a respect for what we consider to be human rights. The EU is suicidal in admitting them in such numbers; I truly hope the US doesn’t follow down that path.

  • Thailover

    “People who believe in nothing…”

    As an atheist who lives in middle Tennessee Jesus country, I recognize the ridiculous language.

    I find it nothing short of hilarious how believers, typically Christians, suggest that those who don’t believe in a Great Manipulator in the Sky are people who “believe in nothing”. (Funny how they never say, ‘don’t believe in anything’, which is grammatically the better choice).

    Not having invisible friends in powerful places has no bearing on whatever else one subscribes to or what principles one holds.

    But in the minds of most American Christians, to be an atheist is to be a subversive communist. How ridiculous.

    I also find it hilarious how it supposed to be superior and virtuous to stubbornly maintain “faith”, regardless of counter-evidence. Seashells in the mountains? Ah, it must have been put there by Satan to trick you into believing in plate tectonics and evolution theory.

    That nutty devil. What’ll he think of next, planets orbiting the sun? ‘Physics and chemistry?
    Nah…
    Just don’t suffer a witch to live and you’re golden, in like Flynn.
    And don’t allow women to become preachers…or presidents. That’s just not the way of christ ya know.

  • RRS

    Here’s what the Right thought when the right was Right:

    may seem to many here an “appeal” to authority (of what constituted the “Right”).

    Berlin as a source for evaluating that judgment is worthy of more consideration than my perceptions or interpretation.

    But, more to the point is the “cf.” to Edmund Burke whose thinking can be taken as a criterion of the “Right” during that age.

  • Darin

    If Marxism is the cause of Western decline, why the post-socialist countries of Central Europe, who experienced 40 years of Marxist education, are the most traditional and least welcoming of immigrants?

    And atheism is not to blame either, because the Czech republic and former DDR are the most atheistic countries of the world.

    Demographics of atheism

  • Chester Draws

    Thailover,

    Like the bullshit “there are no atheists in foxholes” line. Yes there are, and quite a lot of people lose faith as a result of the insanity of warfare. WWI and WWII probably did a lot more to undermine traditional faith than any amount of Marxism ever could.

  • shlomo maistre

    may seem to many here an “appeal” to authority (of what constituted the “Right”).

    Trying to persuade someone by citing a book is a bit bolder than providing two paragraphs worth of a quotation to illustrate a perspective one agrees with.

    Berlin as a source for evaluating that judgment is worthy of more consideration than my perceptions or interpretation.

    I’ll certainly take your word for it. Just FYI though – Berlin is grossly overrated as a thinker and scholar.

    But, more to the point is the “cf.” to Edmund Burke whose thinking can be taken as a criterion of the “Right” during that age.

    Joseph de Maistre makes Edmund Burke look like Che Guevara.

    Edmund Burke is admired these days partly because modern conservatives can understand Burke’s formulation of conservatism.

    Maistre’s formulation is alien to modern conservatives and modern conservatives happen to have more Progressive views than those of Progressives of centuries past. This isn’t a coincidence.

    A belief in Burkean conservatism can lead to futile efforts to lower marginal tax rates or downsize the EPA in a democracy; a belief in Maistre’s Throne and Altar conservatism cannot because the inevitable entropy endemic to democracy was evident to Maistre on a more fundamental level than it was to Burke.

  • shlomo maistre

    The most perfect definition of totalitarianism you can wish for. Lenin, Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot couldn’t express it more clearly.

    You are so beautifully brainwashed.

    Do you even realize that there was prodigious propaganda under Mao? Google “Mao’s Little Red Book”. It happens to be the second most printed book in human history. And the Soviet propaganda machines under Lenin and Stalin are legendary and are studied and emulated to this very day by modern political parties. Modern party conventions and rallies bear remarkable resemblance in form and style to those of Mao and Lenin; this is not a coincidence according to a friend of mine who works as a consultant to the US Democratic Party.

    State propaganda is used to try to construct a national culture, a societal religion, a “national mind”. That is why state propaganda is so common in totalitarian and democratic countries – it is used to fill a void left by the absence of power to fill the vacuum of sovereignty. If individual reason was unimportant in democracies or totalitarian nations then there would not be such prodigious state propaganda apparatuses in those countries.

    Hereditary monarchs like the Stuarts, like Louis the 14th, like the House of Hapsburg did not advertise, propagandize, bribe media, corrupt the press, employ vast state propaganda enterprises as Lenin and Mao did and as Hillary Clinton does today. Louis the 14th could give a shit what you think because individual reason was largely subsumed into the French national mind in a way it is not in the modern USA and was not in Soviet Russia or Mao’s China.

    Hillary Clinton’s relationship with the individual reason of her subjects is far more similar to that of Mao and Stalin than that of Louis the 14th or the Hapsburgs.

    You are fundamentally ill-informed.

  • shlomo maistre

    Do you believe that modern man is too individualist, too driven by reason, and dissolving the individual mind in collective mind, like river dissolves in the sea, would solve modern West problems?

    That would depend on a few things.

    1. What sort of collective mind would it be? That personified by Jean-Claude Juncker? Marine le Pen? Naftali Bennett?

    2. What problems in the West are we trying to solve? Are we trying to fight intolerance of peaceful Muslims or are we trying to keep Muslims out of Christiandom?

  • shlomo maistre

    There is not a single Muslim-dominated country on Earth with a functioning economy or anything approaching a respect for what we consider to be human rights. The EU is suicidal in admitting them in such numbers

    The EU is indeed suicidal – and suicidal primarily for the very reason you cite.

    And people generally get the government they fucking deserve.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Shlomo, meet North Korea. North Korea, say hello to Shlomo. How’s that propaganda going to legitimate your kingship, Kim? (Or should that be kimship?)
    They didn’t use it because they didn’t have it.

  • shlomo maistre

    Nicholas Gray,

    Hillary Clinton, Berlusconi, Putin, Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy etc all implement/implemented vast state propaganda machines. The Saudi and Jordanian monarchies don’t. Coincidence, I’m sure.

    The Queen of the UK, King Felipe VI of Spain, etc propagandize precisely as often as other monarchs in history generally have: not at all.

    Napoleon Bonaparte propagandized relentlessly and thoroughly his subjects. Read Robert Holtman’s Napoleonic Propaganda (1950) – it outlines the extent and importance of propaganda for Napoleon. Franz Joseph I of Austria (although he had much better, more modern tech than Napoleon) did not. Consider how each man came to power to figure out why.

    Nicholas Gray, meet reality. Reality, say hello to Nicholas… gently.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Those European Monarchs are constitutional monarchs, with ceremonial functions. Some Monarchies still exist, and don’t use incessant propaganda, but some do.

  • James C

    Thus speaks someone who has never lived in Saudi Arabia, they have internal propaganda and information control out the wazoo. Censorship of newspapers, state run TV which shows only the right kind of news and programming, wahabbist mosques which all preach the same message – they also have the biggest propaganda tool available to any totalitarian government a big old sword and the will to stick it up the poop chute of anyone who dissents.

  • Paul Marks

    The quotation is true – but nature abhors a vacuum.

    People may be lead to believing in nothing – with the ideas of the “Pragmatist” School of philosophy (William James and so on) that there is no objective universal truth, going (in a vulgar form) down to the masses.

    However, people need to believe in something (they really do) – so they end up believing in THE STATE.

    They may despise certain politicians – but they still believe the state exists to make them (“the people”) happy.

    After all even before the Pragmatists in America and the Historists in German thought (although their theories about “historical stages” and so on – their denial of objective universal truths, soon spread to other lands) radicals had taught that there were no objective universal truths – and that the role of the state was to “make people happy” (they did not see any contradiction between claiming that there were no objective universal truths – and they making universal truth claims about the state)

    The philosophical radicals of the early 19th century (the Westminster Review crowd and so on) presented themselves as the most “advanced” liberals – people who wanted to sweep away the old system and replace it with “freedom”.

    But it turned out that the “freedom” or “liberty” that they supported did not really mean lower taxation or less government spending or even less regulations on business.

    Already, even in the 19th century, for most of these thinkers – “freedom” and “liberty” meant the government spending money on different things, not “useless” armies and navies, but (rather) the effort to “make the people happy”.

    And regulations? Freedom was indeed about the “silence of the law” – but that did not include regulations on business activity, as this was a”other regarding activity” (John Stuart Mill), there might indeed be an economic argument for free trade, but there was NOT a moral argument. As the “simple principle” of liberty did not cover cover economic (business) matters, and it was the duty of the state to make people happy. And, anyway, there are no objective universal truths (see James McCosh on this aspect of J.S. Mill).

    The “redistribution” of income and wealth? Fine. The replacement of individuals capitalists with worker coops? Highly desirable. And all under the administrative state – which would would work to make people happy.

    Not the old state of Kings and land owning aristocrats – a new state (masked by democratic elections – elections that would happen but make no difference to how people were governed, they would keep the masses happpily entertained).

    The people would be “free” because they had the vote and so on (Rousseau) – but decisions would be made by an educated elite, say in Jeremy Bentham’s 13 Departments of State that would control most aspects of life.

    James Mill and J.S. Mill (and the rest of the Westminister Review crowd) did NOT despise Jeremy Bentham – on the contrary they were his followers.

    Did the Westminster Crowd at least hate the great defender of tyranny and denier of moral agency, Thomas Hobbes?

    No – they admired Thomas Hobbes (the thinker that the Old Whigs had regarded as their great enemy), indeed they paid for his works to go into public libraries. The foes of Thomas Hobbes such as Ralph Cudworth – they did not pay for their works to go into public libraries (the “advanced” liberals did their best to shove the memory of thinkers such as Ralph Cudworth down the toilet).

    In legal thought the “advanced” liberals were no fans of Old Whigs such as Chief Justice Sir John Holt – his natural law beliefs that the power of both King and Parliament were limited (that Parliament could not just do whatever it thought would produce happiness) that got shoved down the Memory Hole.

    Did they admire Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke (Dr Bonham’s Case and so on)? – no they admired his ENEMY Sir Francis “New Atlantis” Bacon – whose servant Thomas Hobbes had been, and whose followers included Sir William Petty (the person who wanted to mathematically plan the people of Ireland) – the Petty family being the funders of Jeremy Bentham and the Bowood Circle (which turned into the Westminster Review crowd).

    The objective is not honour moral agency – the idea that individual persons can use their reason to find moral truth and choose to moral good against our desire to do evil.

    The “advanced” liberals of the 19th century (very different from Gladstone and so on) denied every point of this.

    They denied universal moral good and evil, they denied that human reason could find them, and they denied that humans could choose moral good against the desire to do evil.

    We were flesh robots (or beasts) – not moral agents, to these “advanced” liberals.

    They did not admire Coke and Sir John Holt – they admired Francis Bacon.

    They did not admire Raplh Cudworth – they admired Thomas Hobbes.

    They did not admire Thomas Reid (whose philosophy inspired the Founding Fathers of the United States – the United States is hated by this sort of “liberal” to this day, one can not get to the Bill of Rights via the philosophy of Sean Gabb and co) – they admired David Hume.

    “But David Hume was a Tory” – not in the sense of Dr Johnson he was not.

    Free will? No – Hume denied moral agency. Kant and William James may have been wrong about a lot of things (after all I opened this with an attack on William James and the Pragmatists) but they were right that claiming that determinism is “compatible” with moral responsibility is a “wretched subterfuge” (Kant) leading to a “quagmire of evasion” (William James).

    Objective universal truth? No – Hume denied such things about the universe (just as J.S. Mill did a century later).

    Choosing to follow the moral law even if it leads to one’s own death?

    There is no moral law (in this sense), and nothing is worth dying for – Thomas Hobbes.

    Besides people are not really people – reason is “and should be” always “the slave of the passions” – David Hume.

    We are not people – we are beasts crawling in the dirt, driven by our animal instincts (we have no souls – neither in the religious or the Aristotelian sense of “soul”).

    That is Hobbes, and in Hume and in Bentham and in the Mills – humans do not have souls (not in the religious sense and not in the Aristotelian sense either).

    We are beasts driven by our desires for sex and food and so on – and that is it. There are no universal moral truths and our reason could not find them if there were, and we could not (and “should not”) choose to resist our desires.

    After all nothing is worth dying for – Thomas Hobbes.

    The Constitution – the Great Charter of 1215 or the later Bill of Rights?

    Just bits of paper – the “euthanasia of the constitution” is the future and this should be welcomed (David Hume).

    After all it is the duty of government to make people happy – and limits on the power of government might get in the way of that.

    And we are not free will beings anyway – we are brute beasts (like sheep) who need the educated elite to control our lives – for our happiness (Francis Bacon).

    How did the “advanced” “liberal” ideas of the “radicals” of the 19th century lead to the present statist mess – with a population that no longer believes in universal truths or their own ability to find these truths and choose moral good over their brute desires to do evil?

    It led to the present situation because IT WAS MEANT TO LEAD TO THIS.

    The radicals did not lose – they won, at least partly.

    The final “euthanasia of the constitution” (the end of what is left of the American Bill or Rights and so on) is proceeding.

    After all neither Mrs Clinton or Mr Trump believe in the philosophy upon which the Bill or Rights is based.

    Indeed such ideas of moral agency (free will), universal moral law (limiting the state) and so on – would be laughed at in the universities. As would such concepts as “death before dishonour” – nothing is worth dying for…..

    Humans are just machines, or brute beasts, and we must be controlled by the enlightened elite.

    For our own good – our own happiness.

    That is where “advanced” “radical” thinking leads – and it is WHERE IT IS MEANT TO LEAD.

  • Paul Marks

    This is why it is necessary to make people cynical and flippant.

    If people are cynical and flippant they are less likely to sacrifice their lives to defend such things as the Bill of Rights.

    The radical or advanced “liberals” know exactly what they are doing.

    And, privately, they hate Tory folk such as Dr Johnson just as they hate Whigs such as Thomas Reid.

    And for the same reasons.

    To rule people absolutely you must first convince them that they have no individual moral personhood – no “soul” in the Aristotelian sense.

    People who place their personal honour (under universal moral law) above their own lives?

    Those are NOT the sort of people the “liberal” elite (from Francis “New Atlantis” Bacon and Thomas Hobbes onwards) want.

    Mainstream Islam plays a similar but different trick.

    Instead of using one’s reason to find the moral law and one’s agency (free will) to choose to do what is right against one’s desire to do evil – Islam offers a book.

    “Here is the moral law – it is not found by reason, it is the arbitrary commands of the ruler – in this case God” (very Thomas Hobbes).

    “And you have no free will anyway – as everything is predetermined” (also very Thomas Hobbes).

    “Now OBEY you worm – that way you will have eternal happiness”.

  • Paul Marks

    The “radical” or “advanced” “liberals” are correct about one thing – moral life is AGONY.

    The burden of moral choice is crushing.

    The only way to end that pain is to reject the burden of moral choice – to denounce reason (personhood) as a “whore” (Martin Luther) or a “slave” (David Hume). And to reject free will (personhood) as an “illusion”.

    This the Nazis called the freedom not to be free – and it, the end of the burden of moral choice (the end individual moral responsibility) is what they offered.

    It is what evil always offers.

  • Paul. I implore you… paragraphs!

  • Darin

    Shlomo Maistre


    Hereditary monarchs like the Stuarts, like Louis the 14th, like the House of Hapsburg did not advertise, propagandize, bribe media, corrupt the press, employ vast state propaganda enterprises as Lenin and Mao did and as Hillary Clinton does today. Louis the 14th could give a shit what you think because individual reason was largely subsumed into the French national mind in a way it is not in the modern USA and was not in Soviet Russia or Mao’s China.

    The absolute monarchies were using propaganda of all kinds that were available in the day, and Louis XIV very definitely cared what people thought about him.


    Printed Propaganda under Louis XIV: Absolute Monarchy and Public Opinion

    No freedom of speech was tolerated in France, or outside of France in the reach of French army. One of the reasons for

    Franco-Dutch War
    were unflattering cartoons of Louis XIV published in Dutch press.

    You are fundamentally ill-informed.

    Well, we were there before, talking about French ancien regime, and it was you who had no idea what are “taille” and “gabelle”.

  • Darin

    Shlomo Maistre


    The Queen of the UK, King Felipe VI of Spain, etc propagandize precisely as often as other monarchs in history generally have: not at all.

    You know well than modern monarchs are powerless puppets, laying wreaths at historical monuments and reading speeches written by someone else. This is why they are above politics.

    Had the Queen spoke about, for example, Brexit and called the people to vote Remain (or Leave), she would become a political person like any other, loved by half of the people and hated by the other half.

    Napoleon Bonaparte propagandized relentlessly and thoroughly his subjects. Read Robert Holtman’s Napoleonic Propaganda (1950) – it outlines the extent and importance of propaganda for Napoleon. Franz Joseph I of Austria (although he had much better, more modern tech than Napoleon) did not. Consider how each man came to power to figure out why.

    I’m afraid you mistook Franz Joseph for Francis I. And during the Napoleonic wars, Habsburg government used massive propaganda to keep


    Propaganda strategy of Austrian Empire during the war 1809

    The Habgburgs had to regret it later, because Austrian anti-Napoleonic war propaganda was one of the roots of Czech national movement.

    More references on request.

  • Darin

    Do you believe that modern man is too individualist, too driven by reason, and dissolving the individual mind in collective mind, like river dissolves in the sea, would solve modern West problems?

    Shlomo Maistre

    That would depend on a few things.

    1. What sort of collective mind would it be? That personified by Jean-Claude Juncker? Marine le Pen? Naftali Bennett?

    2. What problems in the West are we trying to solve? Are we trying to fight intolerance of peaceful Muslims or are we trying to keep Muslims out of Christiandom?

    So you think it would be desirable and good to dissolve individual minds into collective mind, as long as it is the right kind of collective mind. Glad we solved it.

  • Darin

    James C

    Thus speaks someone who has never lived in Saudi Arabia, they have internal propaganda and information control out the wazoo. Censorship of newspapers, state run TV which shows only the right kind of news and programming, wahabbist mosques which all preach the same message

    Indeed. In the last 20 year, Saudi Arabia spent $100 billion spreading Wahhabi Islam both at home and all over the world. It is one of the greatest propaganda efforts of history.

    This is the root of terrorism, not “blood thirsty nature of Islam”.

    Had Mr. Shlomo Maiste got his wish and there was “throne and altar” Catholic kingdom sitting on ocean of oil, the world will be covered in blood in the name of Jesus and Virgin Mary.

  • JGIII. It has nothing to do with “cultural Marxism”, a phrase that was once useful but which is now in danger of vanishing up Mark Steyn’s backside. Pretty much the entire world are having less and less children, and rather than this being due to cultural Marxism, it is due to increasing prosperity.

    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.CBRT.IN

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Man’s primary need is that his nascent reason should be curbed under a double yoke; it should be frustrated, and it should lose itself in the national mind, so that it changes its individual existence for another communal existence, just as a river which flows into the ocean still exists in the mass of water, but without name and distinct reality.

    As another commenter said in relation to this horrendous passage, cited approvingly by Shlomo Maistre, this is a pretty good formulation of serfdom, of fascism, pure and simple. Of course, some writers dispute the late Isiah Berlin’s claim that Maistre was a progenitor of fascism, claiming that he was misinterpreted, although I think Berlin’s harsh treatment of Maistre is broadly justified. The fact is, if you say that “nascent reason should be curbed under a double yoke” and should be “frustrated” (by what?); that reasoning and thinking should be thwarted and discouraged, then whatever other label one can use, this looks like repression to me, not just at odds with some utopian liberalism, but at odds with any notion of ordered liberty.

    The problem is not that Man’s reason isn’t being curbed. It is hard to summon breath to contest such an absurd desire. The issue of our times is exactly the other way around. The problem of the age, as we see in the rage of Islamists, or the demand for “safe spaces” by mollycoddled Western students, or the anti-humanism of ultra-environmentalists, or the tantrums of pro-Corbyn voters, is that there is a prevalence of emotion over thought. The fundamental problem in the West is that we have elevated emotions, or “feelings”, over thinking. Critical thinking is suppressed lest it causes offence to someone, for example. When a rocket scientist wears a naughty shirt while celebrating his achievement, there is condemnation of his attire, not focus on the science. And on, and on.

  • shlomo maistre

    they have internal propaganda and information control out the wazoo

    Okay every government on earth has a bit of propaganda. But they don’t have Lenin-styled rallies organized by political parties, billion dollar propaganda campaigns by political leaders, state-run indoctrination schools that propagandize children on as many subjects as Western ones tend to do (defining for example the right sort of poetry, economics, climate change science unlike Saudi Arabia and the right sort of gender studies, understanding of history, religion, and morals as Saudi Arabia does, though the particulars are rather different).

    And there’s obviously an enormous amount of information control in the West. But information control isn’t equivalent to propaganda anyway.

    Anyway as I have discussed in Samizdata threads before, freedom of thought/speech in modern Western democracy is regulated by ostracism (threat of losing one’s friends, reputation, job, etc) more effectively and on more topics than hereditary monarchies. I don’t have the inclination to rehash all the examples or reasons here and we’re getting off topic anyway.

    Censorship of newspapers, state run TV which shows only the right kind of news and programming

    Censorship isn’t the same as propaganda.

    They also have the biggest propaganda tool available to any totalitarian government a big old sword and the will to stick it up the poop chute of anyone who dissents.

    I promise you that if that’s your measure of propaganda then the US is at least 100X more totalitarian than Saudi Arabia lol.

  • shlomo maistre

    The absolute monarchies were using propaganda of all kinds that were available in the day, and Louis XIV very definitely cared what people thought about him.

    Yes everyone cares a bit about what others think of them, including political leaders. But the propaganda under monarchies was less extreme than under other systems of government.

    Napoleon Bonaparte propagandized relentlessly and thoroughly his subjects. Read Robert Holtman’s Napoleonic Propaganda (1950) – it outlines the extent and importance of propaganda for Napoleon. Franz Joseph I of Austria (although he had much better, more modern tech than Napoleon) did not. Consider how each man came to power to figure out why.

    Your link does not work.

    No freedom of speech was tolerated in France, or outside of France in the reach of French army.

    Huh? Freedom of speech on such subjects as the right sort of economics, feminism, poetry, art, religion, climate change, music etc were probably not abridged in the French Army. The West regulates that sort of speech through social pressure/ostracism which leads to less diversity of views on most things in democracy than in monarchy (as I have written before). Check out the sort of freedom of speech afforded members of the US military – I doubt it’s much different than what went on in the French military.

    In any case, again, we were talking about propaganda, which is not the same as free speech.

    Well, we were there before, talking about French ancien regime, and it was you who had no idea what are “taille” and “gabelle”.

    Cute but false.

    In the last 20 year, Saudi Arabia spent $100 billion spreading Wahhabi Islam both at home and all over the world. It is one of the greatest propaganda efforts of history.

    ahahahaha “at home and abroad”. The Department of Education ALONE has a 24 billion budget PER YEAR. Over 20 years you add together all the organs of propaganda used to benefit the state and I guarantee the sum total of the US spreading faith in bullshit like human rights and democracy “at home and abroad” dwarfs that of Wahhabi Islam by at least an order of magnitude. Your claim that it’s one of the greatest propaganda efforts of history is absolutely laughable.

    This is the root of terrorism, not “blood thirsty nature of Islam”.

    HAHAHAHAHAHA

    You know well than modern monarchs are powerless puppets, laying wreaths at historical monuments and reading speeches written by someone else. This is why they are above politics.

    Had the Queen spoke about, for example, Brexit and called the people to vote Remain (or Leave), she would become a political person like any other, loved by half of the people and hated by the other half.

    The point is that monarchs don’t derive their power (or fight for their power) primarily via propaganda. Yes, there is propaganda in any society, but it’s very well established that the propaganda in democracies is far more similar to the propaganda under Mao or Lenin than it is under the Stuarts or Hapsburgs.

    I’m afraid you mistook Franz Joseph for Francis I. And during the Napoleonic wars, Habsburg government used massive propaganda to keep Propaganda strategy of Austrian Empire during the war 1809

    No I did not. And your reference does not prove what you claim it proves. The fact remains that when HRC wants to plan the Democratic National Convention to drum up support, her strategists study Lenin and Mao and Napoleon, not Louis 14th or the Habsburgs.

    So you think it would be desirable and good to dissolve individual minds into collective mind, as long as it is the right kind of collective mind. Glad we solved it.

    Wrong again. You see, it took me years of reading the likes of Joseph de Maistre to come around to an understanding of the national mind. You flippantly dismissing someone who is more wise than you is not a substitute for spending years reading books to understand a perspective that has not been around since before the French Revolution.

    Had Mr. Shlomo Maiste got his wish and there was “throne and altar” Catholic kingdom sitting on ocean of oil, the world will be covered in blood in the name of Jesus and Virgin Mary.

    Nope. But the first democratic war (as it was once known) was probably more destructive to the Western world than almost any other war in human history. Woot democracy. The 20th century, one dominated by democracies in the West, and marked by the fall of Empires, was arguably the bloodiest in human history.

  • shlomo maistre

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manufacturing_Consent

    Yes, I’m linking to a book and this is an appeal to authority – after spending many paragraphs trying to explain this perspective lol.

    I probably won’t be coming back to this thread as I have important social obligations and professional obligations that will consume my time for at least next few days.

    As always, good luck getting liberty under democracy.

  • Jacob

    “The fundamental problem in the West is that we have elevated emotions, or “feelings”, over thinking.”

    Little to do with “having elevated”. It was always so. Reason never ruled.

    Emotions and feelings is what everybody has got, always, in abundance, and they, therefore, rule the world.
    “reason is …. always “the slave of the passions” – David Hume. Correct. This is an accurate description of “what is”. What “should be” is debatable, but what is – is.

    Reason is difficult, is hard, requires effort, and is not **guarantied** to produce TRUTH. Reason is elusive. Reason produced Marxism – that’s what THEY claim. We say they didn’t apply reason correctly, they erred… we have better reason that they… maybe.

    Anyway, whatever you utopian state is ruled by, all esixting states are ruled by passions and emotions.

  • Jacob

    A modern twin to Joseph de Maistre would be Don Colacho.
    http://don-colacho.blogspot.co.il/

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Jacob: Emotions and feelings is what everybody has got, always, in abundance, and they, therefore, rule the world.

    Assuming this is true, that is all the more reason to celebrate thinking over emotion when the chance presents itself, rather than to call for thinking to be shackled and repressed, lest it encourages people to have weird ideas, such as liking the notion of a constitutional republic, rather than a feudal state run by people wearing funny clothes.

  • Jacob

    Mencius: http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.co.il/2016/04/coda.html

    Say the word democracy. Notice how good it sounds. Everything democratic is good. A democratic meeting, a democratic policy, a democratic giraffe… if the adjective fits the noun at all, anything you paint with it comes out shiny and bright.

    Now say the word politics. Notice how bad it sounds. This person is a politician. She’s being so political. These dangerous proposals would politicize US foreign policy. Every use of the word is negative. Everything you paint with it comes out sordid and mean.

    But… what is democracy without politics? Is there any such thing? If there is, doesn’t it sound like something North Korea would come up with? Our higher form of democracy has transcended mere politics. Uh huh. Sure. I know where you’re going with that.
    As objective realities — structures of governance — aren’t democracy and politics in fact… synonyms? But if they’re the same word, how can they have opposite connotations? How can it be that everyone knows, obviously, of course, democracy is a good thing, but politics is a bad thing?

  • aren’t democracy and politics in fact… synonyms?

    No, democracy is a form of politics, not a synomym for it, one form amongst many. And as Guy Herbert like to say, it makes a better brake than a steering wheel.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Shlomo: Anyway as I have discussed in Samizdata threads before, freedom of thought/speech in modern Western democracy is regulated by ostracism (threat of losing one’s friends, reputation, job, etc) more effectively and on more topics than hereditary monarchies

    The Hugenots expelled from France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes lost their jobs, friends and much else. And they did not just get banned from Twitter and Facebook, but in some cases, suffered violence and death, to take one example.

    It is true that the modern age has given states instruments for propaganda beyond the wildest fantasies of the Ancien Regime of France, or other monarchs, but that’s scant comfort. Given the cussedness of human nature, there is no reason to think that Maistre, and others, would not have applauded widespread micro-management of human behaviour to produce the “correct” results.

  • Jacob

    “rather than a feudal state run by people wearing funny clothes”

    That is a caricature of old regimes and a red herring. It is rather the self-described “rationalist” rulers like Stalin or Mao who always wore “funny clothes”.

    Some (maybe many) of the historical absolute monarchs (not all of them) were guided by benevolence, wisdom and moral codes, and were quite “enlightened” (that is: reasonable).

    It is somewhat like marriage: some people meet their pair at bars and marry “for love”. Others have the marriage arranged by parents, and don’t know their partners at all in andvance. Both methods produce about the same proportion of successful marriages.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Jacob, is my description of hereditary monarchs any more of a caricature than claiming that people are, all the time, slaves of passions? (Interestingly, some who make that claim about passions go on to assume that they possess some higher wisdom, which has eluded the rest of us). This leads me back to my point about what is so vile about that Maistre quote – the implication that we moppets must be ruled, often brutally, and that any tendencies to use our brains must be repressed.

    Fuck that, quite frankly.

  • Jacob

    “the rule of inbred monarchs as some sort of solution.”
    Again the same red herring. You sound like the Spanish Falangists (around 1930) who used to chant “we don’t want idiot kings”. Of course we don’t, but the chance of getting and idiot dictator are even greater than an idiot king. (The Spaniards were lucky with THEIR dictator). And democracy is no guarantee against idiotism, either.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Of course we don’t, but the chance of getting and idiot dictator are even greater than an idiot king. (The Spaniards were lucky with THEIR dictator). And democracy is no guarantee against idiotism, either.

    Nope. A dictator, by definition, has obtained power by brute force, with some portion of public support, just as monarchs, to some degree, rely on their being able to remain in power with a level of tacit consent (otherwise they end up like Louis 16th or the UK’s Charles 1st), and that in both cases, such idiots are likely to lose power. A dictator who is a fool isn’t likely to hang onto power, and an idiot king, who does things like start foolish wars or rob the public purse, can come to a nasty end (just look at the history books).

    Democracy is indeed no guarantee against idiocy; I haven’t said it was, either. What we want are the best means likely of removing governments that are oppressive without argument and bloodshed. To be fit for that purpose, democracies require rules, and constraints. This is, as I believe history shows, a better protection than the alternatives.

  • A dictator, by definition, has obtained power by brute force, with some portion of public support

    Your typical caudillo does not need much support beyond “the army” in most cases, but it can be broader of course (i.e. Germany in the 1930’s).

  • RRS

    An interesting facet of these commentaries is the absence of consideration of what is intended (not described) by believe (v.t.)as contrasted with beliefs.

    Nothing wrong with it , of course, but much is given over to ideas and the motivations for their articulation or imposition.

  • Hehe. You see Jacob, he should have declared ex cathedra that going pontifically arse over tit was not permitted, making it a matter of doctrine… voila!

  • Re the Maistre / Burke thread in the comments, I’m definitely a Burkean, but rather than debate it I’d like to note an important caveat to the whole discussion.

    Burke recommends keeping monarchy (as part of a mixed form of government) when present because it is far easier to engraft republican forms on a monarchy than to engraft truly monarchic attributes on a republic. (The Roman Empire’s bastard monarchy is an example of how hard the latter is.)

    A monarchy that normally stands above the political fray is (in one of its many aspects) like an insurance policy; the Meiji Restoration in Japan is an example of how it makes a society able to survive stress better than a past-with-all-vested-interests versus impossible-future-with-revolutionaries republic (or bastard-monarchy empire).

    The rise of the Dutch “republic” as it is called, under the House of Orange, is a counter-example to Burke (that Burke knew of) which shows how a monarchy can be engrafted onto a republic, but only because the founder was not trying to become one, and events were persistently propitious over generations (as in, follow the current heir’s leadership or see Holland conquered). William the Silent spent his later life resisting strong and very justifiable temptations to claim he was a monarch. (BTW he was actually William Shluwe – William the Sly, which in Latin was William Taciturnus, which became William the Silent in English. He was anything but silent, just very good at keeping his own thoughts to himself when needed; you could say he was not too bad at some propaganda skills.)

    So Burke’s argument is: if you have a monarchy, keep it; it may be vital one day. But if you’ve long ago lost one, good luck with getting it back or finding another! So what if Burke (or even de Maistre) had a point for monarchy? Mostly, only fall-of-the-Roman-empire events destroy existing governments and create monarchies, after which, as Burke puts it, many generations “dulcify the hard acidic taste of the original spring”. (He was actually speaking of the Dukedom of Bedford when he said that but I suspect he thought the same of some founders of Kingly lines. 🙂 ) The rare exception of the House of Orange happened because monarchy was not its founder’s goal.

    Thus no degree of truth in my, or anyone’s, side-remarks for monarchy in this thread offers any strategy to help any current republic survive today’s stresses. If events are very helpful, you can get it Dutch-style, by not aiming for it until it is far advanced. More usually, you can get it through utter disaster. And while we may sometimes wonder if fall-of-the-Roman-Empire events are coming, we won’t like living through them, and even less the more probably outcome that we won’t live through them. Meanwhile, keep it if you’ve got it but otherwise I see nothing to argue about save as a purely theoretical exercise.

    Just my 0.02p FWIW

  • John Galt III

    Perry de Havilland,

    One people in the world who truly believe in something, the Jews of Israel, are procreating twice as fast as Europeans, depending on the country. Non-haredi Jewish women have children in this ratio 260/1000. Haredi Jewish women are at 370/1,000. Native white Europeans are @ 150/1000. Israel is very prosperous belying your argument.

    http://www.jewishpolicycenter.org/2013/02/28/israel-demographic-miracle/

    Religious people in the US and especially Orthodox Jews have birthrates far higher than the Cultural Marxist, and if you think that word is dead, you’re dead. Mormon birthrates are twice as high as the US average, and unlike blacks they have kids when married.

    Notice atheists in the US are at 160/1,000 the same as agnostic/atheist Europe, which was precisely my point about Europeans.

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865628480/Mormon-families-are-Americas-largest-new-study-finds.html?pg=all

    Speaking of Mark Steyn, ehen you present facts like a someone who “teaches” in Mark Steyn’s “unionized child abuse” centers of non-learning (Government Schools) you come up with half assed stats as you proffered.

    You may not believe in anything other than yourself, but that does not mean other people don’t. You are 100% wrong.

    Nice try, buddy.

  • CaptDMO

    “The man who stands for nothing, will fall for anything” (variously attributed)
    From the Freshman (US private high school)class group photo.
    ” ‘Round here, the only thing that always runs down the middle of the road is a yellow streak.”
    (unknown, frequently plagiarized by me)

  • Watchman

    John Galt,

    I don’t think the example of Israel, a country which is prosperous but which has strong religious communities beyond most countries and a feeling of insecurity, is a disproof to the recognised fact that prosperity reduces the birthrate.

    The basic argument is simply that prosperity means less danger to children (better healthcare, less risk from malnutrition etc) and therefore there is less need to invest in more children to carry on the genetic line (Dawkins) or to look after the parents later in life (a standard anthropological view of the eighties – no idea if it still stands; the two options are hardly exclusive anyway). It should be noted that in all socities, outside classical aristocracies (where children have political purpose), the richer sections of society have on average less children, and that the fall in birth rate normally lags the increase in prosperity (obviously individual cases see different patterns as in Israel) – as is happening in western Africa now where the middle class is having many fewer children than they did a generation ago.

    This applies to immigrant communities as well – so it is a notable thing that Muslim teachers generally have two or three children, with an average only slightly higher (which if it is significant, is presumably the religious factor – the population here being selected by religion after all) than teachers in the UK generally. Muslims are unlikely to overrun any country in which they can integrate into middle classes for they will stop outbreeding (and also, as with all integration, stop being a separate group).

    If you want a particularly low birthrate incidentally, it is not in a western democracy, but in Russia, which is the one country on the planet in danger of depopulating rapidly. They are relatively properous, certainly within the range that limits big families, but appear to have some other factors reducing birth rate (one of which is almost certainly alcholism).

    I am also confused why there needs to be direct replacement of people anyway – this seems to be an argument without a purpose. Possibly the greatest libertarian world created was Michael Moorcock’s (yes, he’s a socialist blah blah – but he writes some good books regardless) Dancers at the End of Time series – where the world population is in its 100s at most. Why should we be concerned if the population starts to fall anyway?

  • Israel is very prosperous belying your argument.

    Yes there are counter examples, because there are some small clusters of people who have very different motivations in a few places.

    Yet you seem to be arguing that the falling birth rates in, oh, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Columbia, Egypt, Haiti, Hungary, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tunisia… are down to “cultural Marxism”. Are you of the view that Saudi Arabia is a hotbed of atheism, perhaps? Or could it be that compared to 50 years ago, they have something else in common?

    Your contention is preposterous.

  • Watchman

    Capt,

    Where I grew up the roads were too narrow for lines (which are white in the UK anyway) – so you’d have to replace the yellow streak with sheep or tourists to be accurate…

  • Jacob

    Of course, monarchy and religion are both forces from the past, in deep decline. We can ponder their past splendor, but it is not a recipe for solving present problems. Joseph de Maistre’s 200 years old ideas are not a plan to be adopted now. Even if we haven’t produced any perfect and new government schemes – the old ones cannot be revived. They have lost their grip, their magic. Times change.

  • John Galt III

    Perry,

    Start reading David Goldman (“Spengler”) @ PJMedia or The Asia Times. He has laid all this out including the decline in births in Muslim countries, especially Iran and Egypt.

    I keep blowing holes in your arguments. A smart guy would say, “You know you are correct.” Like Obama, Clinton, Blair, Cameron, Merkel and Hollande you keep saying the same things over and over. Evidence doesn’t appear to matter to you.

    This whole discussion began with the editorial by Bret Stephens in which he’s says Europe doesn’t believe in anything any more. Everyone, but you can see that. Trust me so can the Muslims.

  • John Galt III

    Watchman,

    Thank you so much for proving my point. Russia, after 70 years of brain numbing atheistic Communism doesn’t want children. This surprises you?

    One hopes Putin changes that. What will really change that is turn back to Eastern Orthodoxy or some similar belief system that gives the Russians a meaning in this life.

    Read Paul Marks above and you can see the historical sequence of people who believed we are just a bunch of animals with wants. He mentions Bentham, Hume , Hobbes, Bacon and Rousseau. Rousseau is a perfect example. He had some 5 or 6 children with various women and as soon as they were born, he sent them off to orphanages without giving them names. Today he would just send the women to the local Planned Parenthood butcher. Rousseau was the precursor of the idiotic anti-human French Revolution that learned absolutely Zero from our revolution in America that was only 15 years earlier in inception.

    Let me leave you with a quote about the confluence of the Left and Muslims that to me is the greatest danger we face.

    Carlos the Jackal: “Only a coalition of Marxists and Islamists can destroy the United States.”

    Obama knows this. Sanders and Clinton know this. I know this and unlike Obama and Clinton, I am opposed to both Marxists and Islam. One wants to kill me because their ideology makes me an enemy of their totalitarian Marxist experiment in nonsense and the other wants to kill me because the Hadith, Sira, Koran and The Reliance of the Traveler makes me an enemy of their totalitarian 1,400 year old organized crime syndicate masquerading as a religion.

  • CaptDMO

    “The man who stands for nothing, will fall for anything”
    http://thezman.com/wordpress/?p=8176
    Serendipity. I SWEAR I’m not The Z Man, nor part of the new iteration of Jurno-list!

  • I keep blowing holes in your arguments. A smart guy would say, “You know you are correct.”

    Er, you point to a couple outlier clusters of people who have lots of children because “god”, (and this is apparently a self evident good thing I gather), and anyone who is not having lots of children is because “cultural Marxism”.

    And I show you the World Bank figures that almost everywhere on the planet, religious countries, secular countries, and every shade between, who all have only one thing in common… they are richer than they were 50 years ago. And this seems to cause people to have less children. And somehow you have blown hole in my arguments? Yeah I have to say the vast preponderance of evidence is on my side. I am a smart guy and I think you are delusional.

  • John Galt III

    Perry,

    You are wonderful at avoiding the issue at hand. That issue is Bret Stephen’s quote. I answered it and you didn’t.

    Do families today have fewer children. Yes, I am not calling that into question. I never argued against it as we know the facts. My point was that people with a viable belief system have more kids. Do you agree or not? I have the facts on this and presented them. They are irrefutable.

    That leaves Europe, and Bret Stephens nailed it. If you believe otherwise you are not merely ignorant but suicidal. When a country or nation believes in nothing it creates a vacuum. That vacuum is filled in today’s Europe by Islam. You live in Bangladesh on the Thames. 2 or 3 million more Muslims all the dole, paid for British working people’s taxes and London is done for IMHO. Do you believe that or not?

  • In this thread, both Perry and JGIII seem to have points, which deeper analysis would be needed to weigh against each other.

    Perry is right that increased an survival chance for each child, such as a wealthier society can give, is a motive to reduce the number of children, insofar as children are seen as a prop for parents’ old age. Put another way, the replacement rate for a certain age cohort reflects both the numbers born and the chance of their dying before reaching that age cohort.

    Although I’m not sure he’s mentioned it in this thread, another aspect of Perry’s argument is that if people believe the state will provide for them in their old age, they have no selfish motive to replace the age cohort that will care for them in their old age. And if they “believe in nothing” they have no other reason to prioritise the effort and costs of children over their own comfort. However “sooner or later, you run out of other people’s children”.

    JGII, IIUC, instances belief (e.g. Jewish or Christian) as showing an opposite effect.

    Data that could let us compare these views would come from groups within a single society. I’ve certainly known catholic families in modern Britain with many children, and catholic families with two children, and atheist families with none, but of course “time and chance happeneth to them all”; there are enough exceptions in my ‘friends and acquaintance’ dataset to leave it all in doubt. If I did not have a day job, I’d go find what data exists; as I do, I’ll finish the easier task of sounding off in this comment, and search it out later now this thread has got me thinking of it.

    What seems obvious to me is that immigration on the scale Germany currently has (and we unless Brexit delivers) will outweigh any such effect unless it’s a lot stronger than I think. Tony Blair’s project maybe had that as one thought (though it seems that his PC social aims might be the biggest loser from it; these people give the impression of not seeing ahead, not even the obvious).

  • My point was that people with a viable belief system have more kids. Do you agree or not? I have the facts on this and presented them. They are irrefutable.

    Then you have clearly missed my point. Yes, certain belief systems seem to override the otherwise prevailing “more wealth = lower birthrate”. Not sure why that means they are therefore “viable” but ok, if you think Jews and Mormons are about to take over the world, well I will just tiptoe away and leave you in the corner raving. But as you have missed the point I was making, let me restate it: it was reacting to your preposterous contention that people have less children because of “cultural Marxism”. And I refuted that contention by pointing out this was a global trend that pertains almost everywhere, because almost everywhere is richer than it used to be, not because everywhere is now under the sway of “cultural Marxism”.

    You live in Bangladesh on the Thames

    Your ignorance is showing. Actually I live in Krakow on the Thames if you really want to make that lame analogy. And a lot of the somewhat dark skinned folk that scare you so much actually come from India and are Hindu. So when you add it all up, neither Britain nor London is drowning in unemployed muslims.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    John Galt III – if you are going to peddle guff about “viable belief systems” (despite the evidence that Perry has shown to demonstrate how even in the most conservative, religious places, birthrates are falling significantly) do at least choose a different name for yourself to reflect your pro-religious views, rather than from a character from an Ayn Rand novel, who was a hardline atheist. It is just good manners, old chap.

    Where I live in central London, it is more like “Paris on the Thames”, full of people fleeing socialist France because of the taxes.

  • Watchman

    I guess I am the only person on the thread who might own up to living in a heavily Muslim-immigrated (hardly dominated – we also have large Caribean, Sikh and Polish communities, and the biggest bunch of immigrants (self-identifying) are still probably the Irish – name that city…) area. And I’d say that frankly it makes little difference what religion people are – so long as they participate in wider society, they tend to be part of it.

    I would admit those who try and create isolationist groups which are not integrated (wierdly these are generally religious – and have higher birth rates…) are a problem. But they are a minority, and should not be assumed to be the majority. I know a lot of people who have immigrated here, and almost all want to be in the UK because it is a good place to live, offers them the freedom to be themselves (and do it safely), and if they want to practice a religion that’s up to them.

    I don’t recognise the sceptre of Muslim domination people raise – for a start, it’s not as if the Muslims can actually agree on anything. They’re probably even less united than the protestants… But when people do raise this, I do recognise an interesting combination of ignorance (JG III for example admits to living in Montana, an area with few Muslims), dislike of people who are ‘different’, and most of all a wierd assumption that just because we can apply a single label to a lot of people that they are all the same.

  • Liverpool?

    But yes, it is awesome to have people from overseas telling us that the places we live in are actually not the way we think they are, if only we could escape from this false consciousness we seem to be in the grip of.

    Now I do indeed live within a hyper-hipsterised mostly white enclave, because I am rich beyond the dreams of avarice 😛 If one day you hear that I have been run over by a car, it would probably be a Maserati or at least the very least a Porsche. But amazingly I do actually venture out into the seething dystopian nightmare that is, oh, North End Road or Balham or Peckham or Elephant & Castle occasional, yet rather than getting knifed by the many muslims I encounter, they usually just content themselves with selling me a kebab & a Turkish coffee. Go figure.

  • Watchman

    Not Liverpool – does that have a large Muslim community? Never noticed it, but then don’t go there often.

    As to these dastardly foreign types (many of whom round here were born within five miles of where I meet them, which I wasn’t, but they are clearly foreign…), if they are more interested in selling you things than forcing you to comply with their religion, I suspect that either there is some previously unsuspected view that commerce and friendly interaction make conflict less likely (you’d have thought someone, somewhere would have publicised that so people like John and Shlomo could have found out about it), or they are sticking mind-altering drugs into the coffee (kebabs obviously contain these – I always feel much happier after one, although our local shops are mainly Greek anyway).

    And if you are run over, surely it would be a range rover on a school run – I’m sure there are statistics that show these are the leading cause of metropolitan hipster types like yourself. I suspect range rovers have an inbuilt genetic hatred of goatees myself…

  • Well it is true that I do live just around the corner from a private school where tiny people called Nigel and Arabella get picked up by their yummy mummies in Range Rovers (also known as Chelsea Tractors), so that is quite possible 😛

  • Alisa

    Oh FFS JGIII. The majority of Israel’s population is secular, it is as infested with cultural Marxism as any Western society – and yet most of my secular (and some atheist) friends, family, and acquaintances have 3 kids on average. The same, by the way, goes for religious upper-middle-class Israelis. It is the religious poor who tend to have 4 children and more (state “welfare” probably being the main reason for that). I have not checked, but I imagine the same is true for Israeli Muslims. Perry wins, and you yet again discuss things based on second-hand information (at best).

  • Snorri Godhi

    On the subject of declining birth rates, Steve Sailer gets much closer to the truth than David Goldman or Mark Steyn, in my arrogant opinion. (Actually i am not sure about Steyn’s position on this issue.) Specifically:
    * Housing prices are much more important than religious belief in determining birth rates;
    * Having children influences religious belief much more than religious belief influences having children.

    To simplify, the chain of causation is mainly:
    low house prices –> more children –> more religious parents

    NB: I am not implying that there is no positive feedback of the form:
    more religious people –> more children.
    I am also not denying that there are factors other than house prices and religion that influence birth rates.

    As for cultural Marxism: George Orwell already complained about British oikophobia iirc; not sure in what year, but Orwell died in 1950, and it seems fanciful that cultural Marxism had already come to dominate the British chattering classes by then.

    I would add that, in my experience, at least some of the smaller European countries (eg the Nordics, the Baltics, the Netherlands) have a sense of national identity, complete with rituals, strong enough to substitute for religion. Probably Scotland too, and maybe even England, though i would know more about that if i had lived in parts of the country that voted Leave.

  • Watchman

    Snorri,

    Low house prices allow more children (all else being equal) so that appears to be a logical proposition, but I am not sure that low house prices is a driver for higher birth rates, as most families do not stop having children only when they hit the limit of their ability to pay for their living costs, which includes housing: most families in the western world could probably afford another child not at the cost of housing, but of less vital things like holiday, cars or widescreen tvs. I would say housing prices are actually a very marginal issue in the choice to have children (effectively only kicking in at the lowest end of the wealth spectrum).

    I think actually the house price thing is correlation, not causation, and what’s more the correlation is probably due to a similiar cause – increased wealth. In most markets increased wealth pushes the price of housing up (by increasing competition for properties and by increasing the ability to oppose development of extra properties) whilst also, as discussed above, demonstratably reducing births per family.

    As to the religious parents thing – I suspect again correlation comes in here. If house prices have fallen, there is generally a negative reason for this, and growth in religion is often assumed (not sure if anyone has proven this) to be a result of stresses on society as people look for support and reassurance. On this though I am less certain – it is also possible this is an artifact of the argument rather than an actual statistic, in that religious societies tend to be poorer (it’s that enlightenment thing in action) so have lower housing prices, but I would hope Steve Sailer is capable of avoiding an elementary error like that.

    And I don’t think any western democracy has an identity strong enough to substitute for religion, as none have a shared identity like that – at least unless threatened by an outside power. But the issue no-one ever explains is why we want to substitute for religion, which is after all a way of removing individual will in the service of a communal will, a form of collectivism, which is surely the opposite of what we want. Nationalism is another, sometimes secular, way of doing the same.

  • Alisa

    There are several factors that influence the individual decisions by men and women whether to have children, how many and under what particular circumstances. Combined, these individual decisions become trends and norms, and in turn feed back and become one of the aforementioned factors. In other words, it’s complicated, and to claim that any one factor can alone determine birthrates for a particular country is beyond simplistic.

  • Jacob

    I don’t know about other religions, but orthodox Jews (highly religious) have many kids because their religion demands it. That is the overriding reason, not because they are poor, ignorant, or worry about old age, or fish for government support (which they, incidentally, get).
    And, maybe the relation between wealth and birth rates goes also the other way round: people who have many children tend to be poor. Wealth is (among other factors) a result of accumulation over generations. When there are many children, inherited wealth gets spread thin, that is – people are poorer.
    I suspect that religion (or lack of it) plays a more important role in predicting low birth rates than wealth.
    I also guess that religion (that is the lack of it) is responsible for low birth rates also in countries like Iran. Or, if you prefer – lack of religion, wealth and low birth rates happen together, and you can’t tell cause from effect.

    On the other hand, Communist (or ex- communist) countries are still poor, but have very low birth rates – again because of the lack of religion.

  • MadRocketSci

    Why all this concern about birthrates and numbers? As far as I can tell, the countries whose populations are actually falling (Japan and Russia), aren’t losing people at any precipitous rate. The fact that they (Japan anyway) have insolvent welfare states is a problem with their politics, not their population. How much of this is some instinctive fixed idea stamped in our brains by our ancestral environment of tribal warfare? The demographic crisis seems very oversold to me.

    Numbers haven’t decided battles since the invention of the repeating rifle, and have been getting increasingly irrelevant since the dawn of the industrial age. Give me fifty million “nonbelieving” rational technologists against an arbitrary number of screaming fanatics, infested with crazed ideology and unable to deal with the world by reason. When the technologists go to war (a point we have never quite reached yet), the fanatics will lose. How many physicists worked out nuclear energy? How many AK pumping barbarians (who obtained their rifles from rival technologists) does it take to down a B-52, much less anything more advanced?

  • MadRocketSci

    PPS – I would *hope* that people voluntarily moderate their own populations at some point. I’m pretty sanguine about mankinds ability to sustain itself through technology, and bitterly opposed to any hint of eugenics or involuntary ‘moderation’ of other people’s kids (that way lies genocide, for painfully obvious reasons), but even I think that at some point the Earth is going to have problems (given current technology) if population continues to exponentially expand.

    How cramped will it be when there are 15 billion people? 30 billion? 100 billion? If we haven’t started plunking cities down on other planets by that point, or living in entirely closed-loop environments, we’re screwed.

    Going into some sort of population arms-race with other nations, because our genes tell us to, is a great way to hit some Malthusian limit and ensure everyone in “your tribe” ends up desperately poor (and therefore relatively powerless).

  • Thailover

    Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray,
    North Korea is constant 27/7/365.25 propaganda. Christopher Hitchens once joked about it telling a story about when he was there. He took a walk to “get away” from the constant propaganda. He soon found himself in a walk-in zoo, saw a forlorn looking bird on a perch, and the bird looked at him and said some praises for the “dear leader”. Even the fucking birds are spouting propaganda.

  • Thailover

    Laird said,
    “But Shlomo is right that we are lost if Muslims achieve “critical mass”.”

    That’s exactly what happened to Lebanon.

    Brigitte Gabriel, 8 min vid.

  • Snorri Godhi, July 29, 2016 at 1:27 pm: “George Orwell already complained about British oikophobia iirc; not sure in what year, but Orwell died in 1950, and it seems fanciful that cultural Marxism had already come to dominate the British chattering classes by then.”

    One of several relevant Orwell quotes is, “Within the intelligentsia, a derisive and mildly hostile attitude towards Britain is more or less compulsory, but it is an unfaked emotion in many cases.” (from Notes on Nationalism, 1945). Orwell was there then: I do not think he was being fanciful.

    Today, the attitude is well-entrenched and has its hate speech laws to defend it.

  • Jacob, July 29, 2016 at 3:46 pm: “maybe the relation between wealth and birth rates goes also the other way round: people who have many children tend to be poor.”

    That is indeed a factor. Patterns of inheritance account for a significant proportion of wealth accumulation. A sole child inheriting from several families is wealthy compared to the same families having many children between them, even if the families have the same amount to leave. Studying history, I see this all the time

  • On the other hand, Communist (or ex- communist) countries are still poor, but have very low birth rates – again because of the lack of religion.

    You think Central Europe is poor?

  • Jacob

    “You think Central Europe is poor?”. No, I don’t think it, I know it. Eastern Europe is poor, compared to Western Europe. They were much, but much poorer in 1989 when communism fell. Their economies improved a lot since then, but birth rates were lowest then, when they were poorest. I’m not sure birth rates in Eastern Europe changed (grew) since 1989, I don’t know. A factor might be the mass emigration of young people from Eastern Europe to the West.
    The worst hit are old people in the East. They are poor as a legacy of communism (they couldn’t accumulate wealth when they were young), they have few children, and even these few are fleeing. A lose-lose situation. And the winners are West Europe, blessed by East Europe immigrants.

  • No, I don’t think it, I know it

    Well you are wrong (and btw, Central and Eastern Europe are not the same thing). Poland, Czech Rep, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, are now First World by any reasonable measure. Go visit Prague or Bratislava and then tell me you still think they are poor. Ukraine… yeah… that is a mess. Kyiv is pretty run down (I was there a few months ago). And given the fact birth rates are falling almost everywhere other than a few isolated pockets, you might as well put that down to sun spots as lack of religion.

  • Alisa

    I don’t know about other religions, but orthodox Jews (highly religious) have many kids because their religion demands it.

    Only it doesn’t: women are not required to bear children at all, while men are required to have a minimum of 2 (different schools of thought debate whether a Jewish man is required to have a son and a daughter, or whether 2 sons suffice).

    BTW, within the context of Judaism, orthodox does not necessarily mean religious. That aside, religious Jews (i.e. observant ones, including Haredim) are allowed to and do use means of contraception (such as the pill, but not a condom – because reasons), although they customarily would first ask for an approval of their rabbi.

    I haven’t looked at statistics, but the area of Israel in which I happen to live is surrounded by several Arab villages, many of their residents being religious Muslims. The number of kids I usually see among them is slightly higher than that among secular Israeli Jews – i.e. 4-5 and 3-4, respectively, and similar to the number of kids in Haredi families in my particular neighborhood.

    Bottom line, while religion is indeed among factors, it is very far from being the only factor, or even the decisive one, and as always, correlation is not the same as causation.

  • Jacob

    Perry, while most Western Europe has GDP PPP/capita between 40 (France) and 46kUS (Germany), most Central Europeans about 30, East Europeans between 26 (Poland and Hungary Russia) and 20 ( Romania and Bulgaria).
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita

    US: 55 k $US

  • That is still very wealthy and First Worldie, Jacob.

  • Jacob

    Alisa: average birth rate for Haredi Women in Israel: 6.5 children per woman. (Official Israeli Statistics bureau, for 2011).
    http://www.kikar.co.il/%D7%99%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%93%D7%94-%D7%97%D7%A8%D7%93%D7%99%D7%AA-1.html

  • Jacob

    “That is still very wealthy and First Worldie, Jacob.”
    That is so…so . The remittances the children send home from Western Europe help… same as the saved money they bring back when they return home after working a few years in the West (those that return). Also the quite big infusion of aid money from EU governments.

  • Just go there. Seriously. The notion these are poor places is just wrong. Ukraine. That is what poor looks like, still very much Second World. Poland, Czech, Slovakia etc, they are palpably First World.

  • MadRocketSci

    I find it more than a little off-putting that religions demand that people have X number of kids for nakedly utilitarian reasons of tribal warfare and dominance, and that it works: Instead of people having kids because they individually desire it and believe they can give their children a life worth having.

    Just another aspect of meme-Darwinian cosmic horror, which is just another aspect of Darwinian cosmic horror.

  • Alisa

    Oh FFS, enough already. Religions don’t demand anything – it’s like saying that you find it off-putting that soccer rules demand that you kick the ball with you feet, rather than walk up to the goal and lay it there.

  • Jacob

    Perry, your hypothesis that wealth causes reduced bird rates can be tested on East Europeans: has their birth rate decreased in the last 25 years since they dumped communism and their wealth improved a lot? My guess is that their birth rates haven’t changed, they were low then, when they were poor, and are low now.
    But, regardless of reasons, birth rates have fallen and are falling everywhere. This is a fact.

  • Jacob, July 30, 2016 at 2:19 pm: “A factor might be the mass emigration of young people from Eastern Europe to the West.”

    When I spent a week in an East German town in 2004, I was struck by the “Minas Tirith” feel of the place; empty houses, lack of people, many signs of a shrinkage of population. It certainly seemed to me that “go west, young man” had been heeded by young men and women alike – and I’ve also met these people in West Germany.

    The town’s pattern may have been somewhat extreme. A prestige East Germany mine project, now an industrial wasteland used solely by techno bands for concerts, was a major local industry before the fall of communism.

  • But, regardless of reasons, birth rates have fallen and are falling everywhere. This is a fact.

    No shit Sherlock, that is what I have been saying. It it almost certainly a flattening curve.

  • MadRocketSci

    Perhaps urbanization has more tondo with it than wealth spevifically?

    Without the space and stability, and sense of secured territory people put off having kids and continue to chase wealth, hoping to someday secure these things? Cities have ways of ensuring (rent, fees, etc) that that day never arrives.

    having lived in a very large city for the pwdt few years, Calhouns rat experiments emotionally resonate: Urban living does things to your brain.

  • Laird

    MadRocketSci, there’s a “Preview” button right next to the “Post Comment” one. You might try using it and proofreading before you post.

  • Paul Marks

    Absolute monarchy is a betrayal of the Western tradition. It is a throwback to the unlimited power of the Emperors in the Roman Empire. It is also the vile idea of the “Enlightened Prince” (vile because it implies such a Prince should seek to plan society) – which is no better than the rule of the “educated” longed for by Sir Francis Bacon and co.

    The basic point of a Western Monarchy (from the Charles the Bald in the 9th century – the Edict of Q. in 877 and all that) is that it is limited, not absolute, limited by the Rule of Law – with law NOT just being the will of the ruler or rulers (someone such as Thomas Hobbes rightly regarded himself as the opponent of the “student of the Common Law of England”) and by institutions dedicated to defending the principles of the Rule of Law. By the idea that there are certain things government may NOT do. Not do because they violate the basic principles of natural law – natural justice.

    The undermining of traditional limits on government power, institutional-legal-and-cultural was the central effort of people such as Louis XIV (the “Sun King”) – they were the radical modernisers of their day. People such as Louis XIV and Colbert would adore the modern state – the idea that they are the alternative to it is demented.

    I am sometimes considered intolerant – indeed I am much less sweet tempered than I was when young (many decades of suffering do not improve one’s temperament), but there is also the simple mater of learning by experience – if one has carefully refuted the same errors many times and someone comes back with these same “errors” regardless of all previous refutations, they are doing it on purpose.

    They are “extracting the urine” and it is time to tell them to “go forth and multiply”.

    As for the idea that one might being unjust – when one is dealing with people who deny the very existence of natural justice (who deny that the Rule of Law has any meaning other than the desires of the ruler or rulers) it is surely fitting to treat them according to their own philosophy. To say “I King Paul the First, absolute monarch, do declare that you shall be hanged by the neck till you are dead – for the crime of irritating me”. By their own philosophy such a person would have no grounds for complaint.