Misguided Compassion

From the article Wrong About Rights by Terrell Clemmons from Salvo issue 18. You should read the whole thing, but see this excerpt below and you’ll get the idea.

. . .

The kicker about redistributive programs is that they operate by inherent injustice. Economist Ben O’Neill of the University of New South Wales elucidates:

Since the program of social justice inevitably involves claims for government provision of goods, paid for through the efforts of others, the term actually refers to an intention to use force to acquire one’s desires. Not to earn desirable goods by rational thought and action, production and voluntary exchange, but to go in there and forcibly take goods from those who can supply them! (“The Injustice of Social Justice,” posted on Mises.org, March 16, 2011)

In most settings, forcible taking is called “theft,” yet much of what flies under the banner of social justice does exactly this.

State Programs Fail

But, well-meaning people will ask, shouldn’t we help the poor among us? Indeed we should, but the question to consider is whether doing so primarily through the government is effective.

Social entitlement programs are championed on the premise that government, being bigger and having access to greater resources than individuals and private groups, is in a better position to help the poor. But is that premise borne out in reality? To find out, the World Bank commissioned a study of more than one hundred countries over a thirty-year period. In the final report, On the Relevance of Freedom and Entitlement in Development, published in May 2011, the researchers concluded unequivocally that entitlement-oriented paradigms do not generate prosperity:

These results tend to support earlier findings that . . . the expansion of the state to provide for various entitlements, including so-called economic, social, and cultural rights, may not make people richer in the long run and may even make them poorer.

Thus, while it may seem expedient for a society to collectively work to alleviate poverty through government agency, in reality this approach does not work.

GK Quote of the Day

G. K. Chesterton quote of the day:

The general fact is simple. Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion, like the physical exhaustion of Mr. Holbein. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.

And who doesn’t like to follow a smart-sounding quote with an anecdote?

Calculus professor strips naked in classroom, shouts “There Is No F–king God”

And for the record, stories like this are precisely why Salvo is anti-science. . . . and now also anti-math.

Just kidding.

We hope the professor is ok and that in the future he is able to just teach the science.

HT: Wintery Knight

Technology Getting Under My Skin

Here is a video interview of a man discussing the Dangerous Idea* that humanity is waking up from natural selection and, thanks to technological implants, we can transcend human nature and become god-like beings. He quotes E. O. Wilson: Homo sapiens, the first truly free species, is about to decommission natural selection, the force that made us…. Soon we must look deep within ourselves and decide what we wish to become.”

Anybody ever see The Lawnmower Man?

*They use the word dangerous ironically. They really mean it’s a good idea that only backwards, lesser-evolved people would be skeptical of.

A Stoic Response

“The basic arguments of intelligent design don’t come from the Bible. All of them can be found, in rudimentary form, in the writings of pre-Christian classical ­philosophers.”

Did you know that? Well, you should have. Cameron Wybrow explains why in his most recent article for Salvo for his regular department on why it’s important to read old books. Stoics & Design: Learning from Old Books Would Have Helped a Federal Judge

Dr. Wybrow has a few other articles up online at the Salvo website too. Take a look!

X-Men Ethics Class: Why Help the Weak If It Thwarts Evolution?

Plato’s Republic: The Critic of Democracy Is the Friend of Democracy

C. S. Lewis on the Material World

The following is lifted from John West in a piece titled C.S. Lewis and Materialism. You should go read it, but I found this part particularly good.

. . .

Rejection of Reason and Truth

Materialism’s first deadly legacy is the rejection of reason and objective truth. Nineteenth-century materialists depicted our thoughts as the irrational products of environment or heredity or brain chemistry. As a consequence, the intellectual classes became convinced that only the reality was material, and thus the only true explanations were reductive. If you wanted to explain a flower, you described its cell structure, not its beauty. If you wanted to explain human beings, you looked not to their greatest achievements, but to the raw materials that made them up. This sort of reductionism permeates contemporary society, from politics and the social sciences to literature and the performing arts.

Lewis’s first sustained attack on reductionism came in his allegory The Pilgrim’s Regress in the early 1930s. In a section of the book titled “Through Darkest Zeitgeistheim” (literally, “through the darkest abode of the Spirit of the Age”), Lewis’s pilgrim is arrested by the flunkies of a giant who symbolizes the materialistic reductionism that was the Spirit of the Age. The pilgrim, named John, is subsequently jailed, leading to a nightmarish sequence. Lewis relates that the eyes of the giant had the property of making whatever they looked on transparent: “Consequently, when John looked around into the dungeon he retreated from his fellow prisoners in terror.… A woman was seated near him, but he did not know it was a woman, because, through the face, he saw the skull and through that the brains and the passages of the nose, and the larynx, and the saliva moving in the glands and the blood in the veins… And when John sat down and drooped his head, not to see the horrors, he saw only the working of his own inwards.…”

John is rescued from the dungeon by a towering woman in blue–Lady Reason, who slays the giant with her sword. She tells John that the giant had deceived him about the real nature of human beings: “He showed you by a trick what our inwards would look like if they were visible… But in the real world our inwards are invisible.“

“But if I cut a man open I should see them in him,” replied John.

“A man cut open,” returned the Lady, “is, so far, not a man: and if you did not sew him up speedily you would be seeing not organs, but death. I am not denying that death is ugly: but the giant made you believe that life is ugly.”

Lewis’s point was that reductionism really does not explain that which is human at all. In fact, in the name of explaining man, reductionism explains him away.

. . .

If you’re looking for more on this, also see The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society edited by John West. You may be thinking to yourself, “Sure, but SCIENCE has come a long way since C. S. Lewis was alive, and undoubtedly the questions and concerns he had have now all been answered.” Well, you shouldn’t think that to yourself because it’s simply not true. Come on. In fact, don’t be surprised if you start to notice philosophy making a comeback.

Utopian Creep?

Here’s another article from the new issue by Terrell Clemmons, one of Salvo‘s contributing editors. We’re always happy to see her writing in our pages. Read on to see why! Also, you can find more by Terrell in the online archives and of course in the print magazine. You should subscribe to Salvo to make sure you don’t miss anything. However, I’ll probably get around to posting more of her articles online sooner or later. They usually generate a good deal of conversation! (see here, here, and here.)

State Purposes

Utopian Creep & the Struggle for Human Rights & Freedom
by Terrell Clemmons

Shin Dong-hyuk strides confidently to the front of the Korean-American church in suburban Seattle. His gray business suit and blue dress shirt cover the scars his slight frame would carry to his grave—arms bowed from childhood labor, back marred from burns inflicted by prison guards, legs and ankles scarred from shackles and the electric barbed wire fencing that failed to keep him inside North Korea’s Camp 14 on January 2, 2005.

Not that he’s hiding anything. On the contrary, the 28-year-old refugee speaks for a solid hour, and although his wounds bear perpetual testimony to the physical brutality he suffered, the greater travesty of justice, he tells his audience, is the psychological dehumanization that takes place in the repressive environment. Shin refers to his former self as a predator, trained from birth to inform without remorse on family and fellow prisoners. “The only thing I thought was that I had to prey on others for my survival,” he says. “I did not know about sympathy or sadness.”

Having lived all his life inside Camp 14, it had taken him years to learn trust, to be emotional, to cry, and to know feelings like other human beings. Even sharing his story this Sunday evening—as he must if he’s going to draw world attention to the atrocities in North Korea, now his life’s mission—marks a major personal triumph for him.

Secularists who fancy twenty-first-century man as enlightened beyond hunter-gatherer savagery are hard-pressed to come up with an explanation for what Shin represents. But however they may try to explain him away, there he stands: evidence of contemporary man’s inhumanity toward his fellow man and a living result of utopian fantasies gone to seed.

read the entire article here