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Dr. Dreimer's Diary, 2nd Q, 2017
1st Q, 2017
4th Q, 2016
3rd Q, 2016
2nd Q, 2016
1st Q, 2016
3rd Q, 2015
2nd Q, 2015
1st Q, 2015
4th Q, 2014
3rd Q, 2014
2nd Q, 2014
1st Q, 2014
4th Q, 2013
3rd Q, 2013
January - June, 2013
January - June, 2012
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. (Oscar Wilde, 1854 -- 1900)
The idea for Dr. Dreimer’s diary came from the excerpts from the diary of Samuel Pepys published daily in the National Post. We thought it would be interesting to write a modern diary using the more formal language of an earlier era – in this case we have attempted an approximation of 18th Century expression. What is perhaps most evident is the capitalisation of nouns, which gives an emphasis, and suggests a cadence entirely missing from current written expression. The language is more cumbersome and formal, and tends to favour the use of parallel structure for rhetorical emphasis.
Style is inseparable from attitude and tone. Dr. Dreimer observes mankind as if from a great height, or from another, more sensible century.
His judgements are often unflattering, and his scorn and disdain
palpable. They may be expressed directly, but are often revealed through an
ironic approval of some mindless folly. He may appear to some as a pompous
windbag; to others as a curmudgeonly but correct observer.
As it has turned out, the diary is not a conventional diary at all. Apart from the occasional references to the mythical Aunt Myalgia, languishing in the Shady Hollow Psychiatric Facility in downtown Toronto, or to the Lumpenbangen Studios in the inner reaches of Hamilton, or to the Haven of Wind-in-the-Pines at Silver Lake, we gain little insight into the trivia of Dr. Dreimer’s own life.
The diary is, in fact, a commentary on events in the news.
June 26, 2017
The Phrase "The Nutty Professor" is ingrained in our Consciousness as a Result of two Films with that Title – one in 1963, the other in 1996.
Those Films dealt with a nutty Professor with two disparate Personalities, one of which was artificially created by an ingested chemical Formula.
But there are also real "nutty Professors."
As the old Curricula of traditional Subjects have been found insufficient in the modern Age, new University Courses have been devised in order to deal with trendy Issues, social Progress, and current Lunacies. Whole new Fields have been opened up, innovative incomprehensible Terminologies have been invented, and Nuttiness has been given novel and unprecedented Scope.
We refer to two Cases currently in the News.
The first is that of Katherine Dettwyler, an adjunct Professor at the University of Delaware, who had asked, on a Facebook Post:
Is it wrong of me to think that Otto Warmbier got exactly what he deserved?
Well, since Mr. Warmbier was sentenced to fifteen Years of hard Labour in North Korea for stealing a Propaganda Poster, subsequently became ill, and died at the Age of Twenty-Two, we feel little Constraint in saying that Ms. Dettwyler seems to have a peculiar Perception of Justice, and that her thinking is, indeed, wrong.
Ms. Dettwyler appears to have a personal Axe in Need of Grinding. She sees Mr. Warmbier as a Symbol of the "spoiled, naive, arrogant US college student who had never had to face the consequences of his actions." (Breitbart News, June 26)
Apparently this characterization of Mr. Warmbier arises from Ms. Dettwyler’s teaching Experience.
These are the same kids who cry about their grades because they didn’t think they’d really have to read and study the material to get a good grade. His parents ultimately are to blame for his growing up thinking he could get away with whatever he wanted. Maybe in the US, where young, white, rich, clueless white males routinely get away with raping women. Not so much in North Korea....If you knew some of these kids, you’d be appalled. They think nothing of raping drunk girls at frat parties and snorting cocaine, cheating on exams, and threatening professors with physical violence. (National Post, June 26)
It would appear that Ms. Dettwyler is so upset by the Actions and
Attitudes of some of her Students, that she takes Satisfaction when
Someone Else – whom she chooses to pretend is just like them – dies as a
Result of a foolish, but minor Misdemeanour.
This appears to be most injudicious – an allowing of Emotion to cloud and distort Judgment.
We are pleased that this particular nutty Professor will not be re-hired by the University next Year.
The second Example of nutty Professor is Florentin Félix Morin, who is listed on the University of Arizona’s website as a visiting Scholar.
Mr. Morin appears to "identify" as a Hippopotamus. He finds, apparently, that this Persona "has allowed him to navigate the world free from the constraints that ‘govern human bodies.’" (Bretibart News, June 26)
We feel compelled to quote from the Breitbart News Article concerning Mr. Morin’s Contribution to the Journal of Theoretical Humanities:
This article explores the formation of a tranimal, hippopotamus alter-ego. Confronting transgender with transpecies, the author claims that his hippopotamus "identity" allowed him to (verbally) escape, all at once, several sets of categorization that govern human bodies ("gender," "sexuality," age). He starts with an account of how his metaphorical hippo-self is collectively produced and performed, distinguishing the subjective, the intersubjective and the social. The article then investigates the politics of equating transgender and transpecies, critically examining the question of the inclusion of "xenogenders" in the trans political movement.
We confess that we cannot imagine what "theoretical Humanities" are – and marvel that there should be a Journal devoted to them.
As to the quoted Paragraph – it leads us to a more acute Perception of how Alice must have felt upon her encounter with the World at the Bottom of the Rabbit Hole.
This seems to be a Parody of what must pass for Thinking in a Milieu which has lost any Links to Reality. These Sentiments are, in Stephen Leacock’s Phrase – "moonbeams from a larger lunacy."
The University of Arizona has denied any links with Mr. Morin – despite an Announcement in January which welcomed Mr. Morin to the Gender and Women’s Studies Department.
We hover between being reassured – because the University of Arizona has – for now -- done the right Thing – and being appalled – because it has so obviously flirted with Madness.
We will keep a Lookout for further nutty Professors.
June 25, 2017
There is much afoot in the aboriginal Reconciliation Industry. The CBC in particular, appears obsessed with aboriginal Matters. It seems that at any Moment, there is an entire Program hosted by an indigenous Worthy, or devoted to the Promotion of indigenous Culture.
Even ordinary Fare seems to require a Sauce or Soupçon of aboriginal Flavouring. We discover that a CBC Icon – apparently long but secretly obsessed with the Rhythms of traditional Rain Dances -- seeks to find Echoes in the Work of modern aboriginal Guitarists. The Tide of Adulation for Writers who have, or claim to have, aboriginal Roots, seems unstoppable.
We confidently expect the national News – soon -- to be delivered in Cree, with English Subtitles.
Premier Wynne, as we recall, finds it necessary to call Attention to the Fact that – wherever she is – an Indian Tribe had another Name for the Place.
At the Level of Federal Politics, we read that the Langevin Block, named for Hector-Louis Langevin, Architect of the notorious Residential School System, has been given the catchy Title: Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council.
An NDP Member of Parliament has complained that the Algonquin People were not consulted in the Matter of the Change. Certainly Place of Plentiful Rabbits or Big Scalping Massacre Ground might have more popular Appeal, and find an accessible Niche in the Memory Bank.
In keeping with the aboriginal Appeasement Movement, we should also note that Science is making a deferential bow – trading in its lab Coat for a Pair of beaded Moccasins.
In the June 23rd Edition of the National Post, Frances Widdowson informs us that two Panels appointed by the Canadian Government have stressed the "importance of integrating indigenous ‘traditional knowledge’ alongside ‘western science’"
Ms. Widdowson points out that neither Panel attempts to define "traditional knowledge," or explain how it complements "western science." This convenient Failure allows the Government to avoid facing the Fact that "Traditional Knowledge" consists of "unsystematic observations or spiritual beliefs." Thus it has no Place – for Example – in determining environmental Policy.
We assume that what is happening is a Manifestation of "white Guilt."
There is no Doubt that indigenous Tribes were overcome by other Tribes from afar with superior Technology, and that Attempts to erase their Culture were cruel and reprehensible. But the current Solution -- in which Indigenous People attempt to preserve their Culture and live in Locations not economically advantageous, is a Recipe for Failure. The Fact that they are supported by the Government in this Effort shows the Cruelty of Kindness, and is a wonderful Argument – as if any were needed – against socialist Principles. When the Government is the Solution, Initiative is leached away – down the Drain.
The indigenous Culture was wonderfully appropriate to Canada in the sixteenth Century. It may be so again, should industrial Civilization manage to destroy itself. In the present Day, in the present Circumstances, it is scarcely viable.
We suppose that a certain Amount of Smiley-Face Expiation – concealed Condescension -- may be appropriate. But too much is enough.
Making People feel good is pleasant; but Feelings are not – ultimately – as important as Facts.
We seem obsessed, at the Moment, with making indigenous People feel better. But this seems to involve a Refusal to deal with the Fact: many Aspects of indigenous Culture are not economically viable in the modern World. "Spiritual Beliefs" will not bring Home the Bacon or pay the Rent. Failing to delineate a Problem – leaving it as a fuzzy Mess of wishful Thinking -- seems to assure that any Solution will fail. Indeed, such Solutions will exacerbate rather than solve.
In Addition, we should note that idealistic Expectations of Perfection are certain to disappoint. Indeed, we suspect that ancient Grievances tend to become raisons d'être, and are incapable of being appeased. This is particularly true, of course, when ancient Grievance can change the Names of tall Buildings in a single Bound.
We do not think that Realism is in abundant Supply in this Matter.
Indeed, we suspect that Realism is at some considerable Distance.
Thus, Buildings may be renamed; Ms. Wynne will continue to comfort herself with the meaningless mouthing of aboriginal Place Names; perhaps the National News will be broadcast in Cree; – but many indigenous People will continue to live in Conditions of Wretchedness and Despair.
June 20, 2017
"Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority." (Francis Bacon)
It was Francis Bacon, of course, who first suggested the Scientific Method – that Conclusions should be drawn from carefully observed and tested Facts – rather than be based on Conjecture with loose or no factual Evidence.
It has been our Observation that the Scientific Method finds no warm Welcome or easy resting Place in the human Mind. That is probably because Facts and Evidence often do not lead us in the Direction we would prefer to travel. There are always Narratives which support a preferred View of the World, or which may advance our own particular Interests – but which lack scientific Rigour.
And that is why the World is such a dangerous Place. The Term "Science" is applied like an attractive Lipstick to many Facets of Knowledge – but often it is not clear whether Statements made are preferred Hypothesis or proven Fact.
We are fond of referring to the "scientific" Conclusions that saturated Fat causes Heart Disease, or that Man is responsible for Global Warming. These are both Theories for which adequate Evidence is lacking – yet have extraordinary Popularity.
It appears that once a Theory has sufficient Credence among those of Prominence in Society, the Herd soon follows with enthusiastic and reverential Bleatings.
We suspect that the fact that we have evolved as tribal Creatures accounts for our Tendency to think in Herds – regardless of Evidence. For the Tribe to be successful, its human Members must have a natural Pre-disposition to Conformity.
In Today’s National Post, there is an Article by Donna Laframboise which simply adds to our Skepticism about "Science."
Ms. Framboise notes the Dangers of "Peer Pressure" in Publishing
It is assumed that Articles appearing in prestigious scientific Journals have undergone a "Peer Review." The Suggestion is that the Article has been rigorously examined by esteemed Scientists and has been validated and found worthy.
In Fact, this is not so. The true Test of a Claim, as Ms. Framboise points out, is that it has been independently verified by a third Party. Peers review; they do not test.
And "Peer Review" is often flawed. Apparently the Journal Nature published seven Papers based on Data manufactured by a fraudulent Physicist, Jan Hendrick Schön.
We are especially amused by a Test, in which twelve Papers were submitted with minor Changes to Journals of Psychology which had already published them previously. The Duplication was noticed in three Papers. Of the remaining Nine, only One was deemed worthy of Acceptance.
We have said that "Science" is one of the most dangerous Words in the English Language. That is because it suggests Truth, but is often a Word used to cloak mere Hypothesis with an Aura of Finality.*
It appears as though Francis Bacon was right. All that glisters is not Gold. The Truth may not be determined until sufficient Time has passed to allow for the true Test of cautious – even resolute – Skepticism.
*"Science" suggests the authority of facts, and a reliability of prediction; but too often the term is applied to matters of mere hypothesis, to conclusions preliminary or premature, or to pronouncements made by those with expertise in a field labelled "scientific." Only a record of consistent predictive success gives evidence of a scientific understanding of how the world works. (Observation # 741)
June 15, 2017
The Problem of Islam
The Problem of Islam, as we see it, is that vast Numbers of People – whether Muslim or non-Muslim – do not see it as a Problem. It is the terrible Circumstance of two well-populated Classes of intellectual Ostrich.
We understand the appeal of Ostrichism. Problems are vexatious and annoying, and it is tempting to pretend that they do not, in fact, exist.
We are not convinced, however, that ignoring Problems will ensure their disappearance. In Fact, our typically gloomy Suspicion is that Problems that are ignored tend to become more irritable, anxious, and resentful as Time passes. A Problem ignored, is a Problem enhanced, enlarged, and exacerbated.
We read, the other Day – in the National Post – a Letter from Someone -- with a Name which we would characterize as Muslimesque – who claimed that Islam was perfectly benign, and had nothing to do with Violence and Terrorism.
We have no doubt that, for the Writer’s Version of Islam, that is true. The Difficulty is that his Version of Islam is precisely that – a Version. If there were no other Versions of Islam, and if those Versions could not be supported by Islamic Texts, the World would be a happier Place.
But there are other Versions of Islam, supported by Islamic texts, which are violent. And there are Versions of Islam, supported by Islamic Texts, which are completely incompatible with secular Western values.
We would note that Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a well-known Critic of Islam, recently spoke at a Senate Panel Hearing on Islamic Ideology. (Breitbart News, June 14)
She noted that "political Islam" is fundamentally incompatible with "religious tolerance, the equality of men and women, the tolerance of different sexual orientations, the ban on cruel and unusual punishments, and other fundamental human rights."
To this, we would add that Islam in general appears to claim that it should be exempt from Criticism – and this is utterly incompatible with the Idea of Freedom of Speech.
Ms. Ali suggested that the United States has failed in the Battle against political Islam because it has focused on Acts of Violence, rather than on discrediting the Ideology which gives rise to them.
In our View, that Discrediting must lead, eventually, to a Muslim Questioning of the Religion.
We see no Hope for the Problem of Islam to be solved until Muslims – like our Letter-writer – remove their Heads from the Sand, cease to repeat calming Mantras, and address the Difficulties in the Texts of their Religion.
We have often suggested the Need for a Central Interpretive Authority – which would undertake the Task of modifying or interpreting the Texts of the Religion which lend themselves to a Philosophy which seems so opposed to any humane Continuance of the human Project.
Alas! It would seem inadvisable for us to hold our Breath in Anticipation of the Discrediting, and the Re-Assessment of Muslim Philosophy.
For it is not simply Muslims who refuse to recognize the Incompatibility of their Religion with modern Secularism: it is the non-Muslim politically correct.
Indeed, at the Hearing, Michael Leiter, the former director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, argued that Sharia Law is like any Christian or Jewish "religious tradition," which is no bar to Compliance with Civil Authority.
That, of course, can only be true of Muslims who do not take Sharia Law seriously. But if you take Sharia Law seriously, then you must believe that Religion trumps Civil Authority; and if you believe that, then you cannot, at the same Time, believe that it does not.
We see Mr. Leiter as representing the other great Class of intellectual Ostrich – the non-Muslim advocate of Political Correctness.
Political Correctness is an Approach to Life much like that of our Letter-Writer. It is a Determination to see what is pleasant and comforting – and ignore Facts which are awkward and inconvenient. One of our Observations (#582) is: "Political Correctness values feelings over facts, fiction over freedom."
The Idea behind Political Correctness is hopeful and optimistic. Beneath the apparent Inequalities of Life, lies the bedrock Truth: People, Ideas, Cultures and Religions are all equal. People should not be criticized lest their Self-Esteem receive a Blow: an Insufficiency – that is – an Inequality might be suggested -- and they might be burdened with the Albatross of hurt Feelings.
Ideas – especially bad Ideas – should not be criticized – lest those holding them be exposed as deficient and unequal.
Cultures and religions must not be criticized – once again – because Comparisons are invidious and suggest that some Things are better than Others.
Through being pleasant, and ignoring the Truth, the politically correct believe that the Problems of the World can be solved.
They are, of course, complete Idiots. There is a Place, of course, for Tact. But to see Tact as the pre-eminent Virtue is mere Stupidity.
Even under the best Circumstances – in which People vigorously criticize bad Ideas – religious Beliefs and Commitments are entrenched and resistant. When Muslims and non-Muslims alike pretend that Islam is not incompatible with Secularism, the Problem of Islam will persist.
June 6, 2017
The only relevant test of the validity of a hypothesis is comparison of prediction with experience. (Milton Friedman, 1912 - 2006)
The great tragedy of science -- the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact. (Thomas Huxley, 1825 - 1895)
The difference between what is believed and what is known
accounts for a world of stupidity. (Observation #986)
We have long seen the Theory of anthropogenic Climate Change as deeply flawed.
The most telling Argument against it – as suggested by the Quotation from Milton Friedman above – is that none of the dire Predictions of Disaster made since the 1980's has been validated by Events. And further, the computer Models which projected continuous Warming have been confounded by the recent Pause.
In other Words – there is no Evidence that there is a clear and simple Relationship between Greenhouse Gasses and Global Warming. No matter how compelling and reasonable the Theory, in the Absence of that Evidence, all the Projections of Warming based on the Presence of Greenhouse Gasses – and all the Measures taken to reduce those Gasses – would seem to be an irresponsible Leaping before a prudent and adequate Looking.
We are acutely aware that human Beings – evolved as conformist tribal Creatures – have a marked Tendency to think in Herds. Once an Idea has captured the popular Imagination, Facts and Evidence seem not to matter. People find comfort in thinking with their Fellows – especially when that Thinking lays Claim to Virtue. In this Case, People have become convinced that the Planet is endangered – and they have been convinced that it can be saved if only the Levels of Greenhouse Gasses can be reduced.
It is just like Religion. A great and hellish Danger is suggested – and the Priests provide a Solution: Simply do as we say -- make some human Sacrifice – and a blessed and eternal "Afterlife" shall be yours.
We note that Mr. Trump. has, quite sensibly, withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord of 2015.
He has observed that the United States would stand to lose, while other Countries stand to gain from the Agreement. He notes that his first Task is to protect Workers in the United States.
We admit to a certain evil Glee in contemplating the Response to this
Action. Other Countries, like Germany, France, and Canada, who see
themselves wrapped in golden Cloaks of Virtue, shimmering in the benign
Light of Knowledge emanating from Ninety-Seven Percent of Scientists*
are miffed and despondent. Hollywood Celebrities, some of the truest of
Believers, are convinced that their Children are doomed to an unpleasant
Death by Boiling. They are outraged that Americans could have voted for
a Child of Satan. Ordinary Citizens, having been convinced by Mr. Gore
and Dr. Suzuki to reduce their carbon Footprints, and accustomed to
basking in the fuzzy Warmth of their minor Blue Box Achievements, waver
between Puzzlement and Desolation.
All this seems only fitting; those who believe without Evidence should expect Disappointment.
On the other Hand, Mr. Trump’s Rationale is not entirely comforting. It seems to be based entirely on his Theme of "America First."
Indeed, he has suggested that he might be open to a "better Deal."
Thus his Rejection does not arise from the Conviction that the Theory is unproven – rather from the Circumstance of Inequity.
Thus our evil Glee is somewhat tempered. We must wait, perhaps, for a few Years of exceptional global Cooling – which will convincingly show the Alarmists that they know Nothing about the Causes of Climate Change.
We are keeping a Bottle of Champagne chilled for exactly that Occasion – when our Skepticism will be justified, and our Glee can be unrestrainedly Beelzebubian.
Until that Time – we will take what modest Glee we can get.
*A completely bogus Figure much beloved of the Alarmists; it is referred with a Frequency similar to that accorded to the silly Phrase: "the science is settled." A Googling of the Term will reveal its true Origin. It would not matter, of course, if 100% of Scientists believed that Mankind is the chief Cause of Global Warming. At one Time, we imagine, 100% of People believed that the Earth is flat. It is not. What Scientists believe is irrelevant; what they can prove is what is important. Thus far there is no Proof of the anthropogenic warming Theory.
May 17, 2017
Last Year, at Wind-in-the-Pines, we did undertake to stain the Multiplicity of Decks – a Task which seems to be required every other Year.
The Decks were installed over twenty-five Years ago – long before the Advent of plastic Boards – which are reputed to have the Advantage of an ingrained Colour which does not require Refurbishment. We say "reputed" – not because we have any Knowledge to the Contrary – but simply because we are suspicious of Claims which seem too good to be true. We wonder whether even Plastic can look pristine after five Years of Weathering.
Of Necessity, then, our Decks were built of Wood; the Stain applied wears unevenly; it seems to need almost constant Care.
We know that there are People – unfortunate Souls -- who prefer to let the Wood – whether Cedar or pressure-treated Lumber – simply weather as it will. They claim to be enchanted by the primitive Rusticity of weathered Wood.
But we know that this is mere Justification and Obfuscation: they are simply lazy, and are sorely lacking in moral Fibre. Instead of imposing their Will on the Universe, they are content to let it proclaim – with the Flag of Neglect – their Shiftlessness, their aesthetic Failings and their profound moral Deficiencies.
Last Year, once we had completed the Staining, we felt the warm Flush of Virtue to be expected from such a successful Encounter with the Universe.
But our Pride was somewhat overshadowed by an awkward Fact: the many Pots on the many Decks looked long past their Prime.
Many of them had been bought at Canadian Tire – Dozens of Years ago. They were called "Blossom Pots" – and cost about four Dollars and ninety-five Cents. Even in that simpler Time – they seemed inexpensive.
It is a Truism of the known Universe, that if a satisfactory and inexpensive Product is developed, it will soon become unavailable. The Marketers, always working to develop newer Designs, more expensive Variations, and less robust and reliable Versions of the satisfactory Product, will ensure that it disappears into the Dustbin of History.
Thus, the affordable and attractive Blossom Pot disappeared. As our Need for Pots expanded, we were forced to acquire a Mish-Mash of Shapes, Sizes, and Colours.
Last Summer, we contemplated the State of Things.
The original Blossom Pots were sinking into Old Age and appeared distinctly senile around the Edges. The more recent Purchases suggested a Diversity too wanton and unrestrained, too lax and undisciplined to be a satisfactory Representation of our essentially authoritarian Disposition.
Thus, we resolved – last Year – to grace the Decks with new Pots of a
uniform Shape, Size and Colour. This Spring, we embarked upon that very
Alas! When we went to our favourite Emporium, the Name of which begins with the Letter "W" – we were appalled. A reasonable Replacement for each Pot would cost Seventeen Dollars; a less satisfactory Substitute would be at least Twelve.
We are not very good at Arithmetic – especially in Times of emotional Distress. But seventeen Dollars – we suspected – would come pretty close to Twenty – once the Government had approved of our Purchase. Twenty Pots would cost about four hundred Dollars – a Sum which would clothe us for Years – and pay the Hydro One Bill for almost Three Months in the Summer.
We did not need to knock on the Cupboard of our Finances. We knew well the hollow and echoing Character of our Coffers.
We decided, instead, to try Dollarama.
There, indeed, we found two Pots of suitably large Size, and of sufficiently dark and dignified – although somewhat different -- Colours. They were four Dollars each! Shades of Blossom Pots!
But Two is a considerable Distance from Twenty. And Dollarama is not the sort of Place where you can place an Order for more, and pick them up in a Week’s Time.
Thus it was we were converted to an eternal Searcher, a hopeful Explorer, condemned to seek out the familiar Green Sign, to walk the innumerable Aisles -- of interminable Length – in the Great Plastic Pot Expedition of Two Thousand and Seventeen.
While there were many Pots – the large Size we required were as rare as Scientologists at a Mensa Meeting.
But Persistence is all.
We are pleased to report that, after visiting many Stores without Success, and a few Stores with one or two Pots -- we found – last Monday – the Holy Grail of Dollarama Plastic Pots. We had carefully plotted the Dollaramas on our Route to the Home Depot. Sure enough, at one of them, we found about twenty-five large Pots – many of which were dark Brown and dark Grey – our desired Colours.
We were able to complete our Pot Purchase.
But the psychological Scars remain.
The Sight of a Dollarama Store or Sign triggers a reflexive Response. We have to fight the Urge to drop in. Perhaps they have, within, a great Rarity -- large – dark brown or dark grey -- Plastic Pots.
May 6, 2017
One of the great Difficulties we seem to encounter – as a Species -- is that of distinguishing between Possibilities viable and Potentials unachievable. When we imagine alternative Versions of the Future – we cannot determine what Possibilities are realistically achievable – and which are those that sound pleasant – but are actually misleading Fantasies.
Perhaps it is because Life, at the Core, is seldom entirely satisfactory – and People are anxious to hear of Possibilities marvellous and magical – of Lands of Milk and Honey, of Big Rock Candy Mountains, of Utopias of Equality and Brotherhood.
There seems no other Way to Account for the Popularity of Socialism – which promises to banish the Distinctions between Rich and Poor, Able and Incompetent, Revered and Despised – to create a wonderful new Era of Peace, Brotherhood, and Equality for all.
It does not seem to matter that the Ideas of Socialism have been tested, but have invariably failed. "Insanity" as Einstein remarked, is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
In Light of that Definition, it appears that Mankind is subject to frequent Bouts of Insanity.
We can explain, of course, why Socialism cannot work. The fundamental Reason is that it has a Vision of Equality which is not in accord with Reality. People are not equal now – they never have been – and they never will be. That does not mean that Societies may not attempt to mitigate Inequalities – or that they may not attempt to provide Equality of Treatment, Access, or Opportunity.
But even with those Equalities, the Results for different People will be different. Our Background is competitive. We are the End Products of a long competitive Process of Evolution. You cannot simply pick a Time and determine that, from that Point on, we will disregard those competitive Instincts which are inherent in our Natures.
That is why Capitalism – with all its Deficiencies – simply works better than Socialism. It allows some Scope for the competitive Instinct.
Related to that first fundamental Reason is a Second: the Attempt to create an unnatural Equality requires "Central Planning." The great -- and apparently unperceived -- Fact is that Central Planning immediately introduces the Notion of Inequality which it pretends to despise. If there are Central Planners, there are People whose Lives they aim to plan. The Planners and the Planned are not equal. This is the malign seed of Inequality which, eventually, dooms the whole Enterprise.
And Central Planning, we should note, suffers from the great Curse of Inefficiency. Markets determine Prices and Production based on the individual Desires of Producers and Consumers. No Central Planner can hope to replace, efficiently, the Effect of Millions of individual Decisions made by Consumers and Producers acting in their own best Interests.
Further, Central Planning introduces another great Flaw of Socialism: The central Idea is that there is a "Central Plan" which will organize the Lives of Citizens in the Pursuit of an Ideal Vision. That Notion of Planning – which reduces the Scope of individual Decisions is necessarily coercive. While you may wish to improve your Circumstances – the Plan takes Precedence. As the "Security" offered by the Plan increases, so individual Liberty declines.
Thus – it is inevitable -- that what starts out with the Name "Socialism" is only socialist in Theory; it is invariably revealed to be, in Practice, a Dictatorship. "Socialism is the road paved with good intentions -- it invariably leads to the hell of dictatorship."*
This – as they say – is not Rocket Science.
But People are fooled, over and over again.
The latest Example is Venezuela – a Country with lots of Oil, but a Surfeit of Poverty. It is said that a Majority of Citizens are hungry, and that Fifteen Percent are reduced to eating Garbage. The Cause, in Essence, is Socialism: the Attempt to reduce Poverty by Coercion -- rather than by Enterprise -- has not worked.
There is a fascinating Article currently in Breitbart News which lists some famous People who approved the socialist Schemes of the first Venezuelan Dictator, Hugo Chavez.
Here are some of the more interesting:
Mr. Chomsky is a Linguist and Leftist. He is much beloved in our socialist Canada.** He argued that Chávez brought the "historic liberation of Latin America" proving "destructive to the rich oligarchy."***
Mr. Stone made a Film about the Rise of Latin American Socialism. After Chávez’s death, he said:
"I mourn a great hero to the majority of his people and those who struggle throughout the world for a place..."Hated by the entrenched classes, Hugo Chávez will live forever in history."
After Chávez’s death, Mr. Jackson celebrated his socialist legacy.
Hugo fed the hungry. He lifted the poor. He raised their hopes. He helped them realize their dreams. And, so, today we do mourn, because we’ve lost a lot. But we have a lot left – a stable government, an orderly transition."
A Chávez Enthusiast, the Actor received $18 million from Venezuela to direct a film on the Haitian revolution – which was never released.
"He was not only my friend, he was my brother," Glover said after Chávez’s death. "It’s difficult for a leader like him to exist in these times. His vision for humanity and the world can only be compared to that of leaders like Nelson Mandela. He was a great man and I cried when he died."
In 2014, Glover also gave a speech next to Nicolas Maduro, asking him to "to continue [Chavez’s] vision of a participatory democracy, one involving all citizens," while calling his government "the stewards of this democracy."
These – we assume – are not entirely stupid People. But they are entranced by Vision and by Ideals. They are seduced by what sounds good.
A rather more perceptive man, Milton Friedman, made the following Observation: "One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results."
And we think that this is what happens with Socialism. It cloaks itself with good Intentions, and proclaims the Slogans of high Ideals. People – even intelligent People cannot see past the Façade. They judge Socialism not by what it does, but by what intends – or says that it intends.
The more cynical among us may question even those proclaimed Intentions. As H.L. Mencken said: "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule."
Whether the Intentions of Socialists are genuine, or whether they are merely a false Front for the Urge to rule – it is clear that Socialism can never work.
People should stop listening to the Siren Song. Socialism sings the Melody of Equality – but that is simply a Lure to economic -- and cultural -- Shipwreck.
** Our Discussion concerns the extreme Version of theoretical Socialism, which attempts to plan or control almost Everything. Some Degree of Central Planning is needed in Matters of Defence, the Legal System, Immigration, etc. It should be noted that the great Deficiency of theoretical Capitalism is that it fails to consider the Plight of the Disadvantaged -- and is modified in civilized Countries by Policies of Government Assistance. Canada leans in the Direction of Socialism with its System of Government Healthcare. The Care is "free" -- but wait Times are considerable. It is coercive in that no private Options are allowed. To get timely Care, one must leave the Country. We confidently predict that this socialist Scheme -- like all others -- will eventually collapse because of its Inefficiency and coercive Nature. A private Option will be allowed.
*** All quotations from Breitbart News May 4, 2017: 10 Famous
People Who Praised Venezuela's Descent into
April 18, 2017
We are pleased to see that Wisdom is gradually seeping into the general human Consciousness.
Finally, Governments, University Students, and Police Forces have realized that Harmony among People is the Chief Good to be achieved in the human Project. Other incompatible frivolous and outmoded Principles – such as Freedom of Speech -- should be swept into the Dustbin of silly and unworkable Ideas.
In a World of Multiculturalism, it is clear that People -- even though they may have entirely different Views on how Life should be conducted -- must attune themselves to the general Good, and live in a harmonious Symphony of Sympathy.
That great Harmony simply cannot be achieved if People are allowed to express their Opinions freely, and criticize Others. Criticism is hurtful and makes people unhappy. Only pleasant, agreeable, and complimentary Speech will ensure Happiness for All.
We are pleased to see that the great Country of Sweden, has seen that admirable Truth. A very sensible Law has been passed which deals with the egregious Crime of Insult. It allows for the Prosecution of those who give Offense to "immigrants, LGBTQ persons or authorities ..." (New American Magazine, April 23, 2014)
We assume that, in Accord with modern Principles of Justice, Offensiveness is not determined according to some vague and ineffective legal Definition, but by irrefutable hard Evidence – the Feelings of those who are offended. Feelings are the chief Means by which Truth should be determined.
Similarly, in the Enlightenment which is modern Britain, we understand that Thousands of those posting on social Media have been investigated for speaking out against Islam, and against Immigration. But Islam itself has rightly claimed that it should be beyond Criticism. And to criticize Immigration is illogical: if Homo Sapiens had not emigrated from Africa, there would be no other populated Countries. We need not even point these Things out. It should be clear to all right-thinking People that there are certain Concepts which are so self-evidently noble, that they should not be sullied by Arguments of Justification. As soon as you stoop to arguing about the Validity of a noble Concept, you have lost Half the Battle.
Questionable Ideas may be questioned; Ideas of unquestionable Merit should be accepted upon their Proclamation by the Authorities.
We should also note that, not to be outdone, Germany has an "incitement of the people" Law.
This Law – Volksverhetzung – bans Speech that could --
incite hatred against a national, racial, religious, or ethnic minority. As well as limiting speech that calls for ‘violent or arbitrary measures’, it also regulates ‘assaults on the human dignity by insulting segments of the population or individuals because of their belonging to a minority group.’ (Spiked, May 23, 2016)
We think it especially important that this Law does not merely prohibit "violent Measures" – but also Assaults on Dignity. Until it is recognized that all Groups of human Beings are equally dignified and worthy, and no Culture or Idea about the Conduct of Society is better than any other, there is no Hope for human Happiness. Any Examples of Stupidity, Ineptness, Misapprehension, or Folly -- which are exceedingly rare in the first Place --are always Individual – and never Group Errors.
It is not only Countries that have seen the Need to limit Freedom of
Speech. We are pleased that the Idea of unassailable Virtue has extended even
to some advanced Universities. Just Yesterday, we noted that the wise
Editors of The Wellesley News – at Wellesley College near Boston
– have written a perceptive Article entitled "Free Speech is Not
Violated At Wellesley."
Quite sensibly, the Editors realize that, while the Principle of Free Speech remains inviolate, there are some Limits:
This being said, if people are given the resources to learn and either continue to speak hate speech or refuse to adapt their beliefs, then hostility may be warranted. If people continue to support racist politicians or pay for speakers that prop up speech that will lead to the harm of others, then it is critical to take the appropriate measures to hold them accountable for their actions. (Breitbart News April 17, 2017)
The Editors – just like the various Governments we have discussed – have an infallible Perception of what is virtuous. Once one has seen Virtue, it is easy to classify its Opposite -- Hate Speech and Harm to Others. And once those have been identified, the only Path of Virtue is to condemn them with Hostility – and to restrict the Speech of the regrettably Unvirtuous.
But beyond the great progressive Countries of Europe, and the naturally perceptive Editors at Universities, we see that the virtuous Idea of restricting Speech has even spread to one of our own blessed Provinces – Newfoundland. In this Morning’s National Post, we read of the case of Andrew Abbas, who posted some angry Tweets – Tweets no doubt hurtful to police Officers and destabilizing to the Community -- about the fatal Shooting of Don Dunphy by the Police. The Shooting had taken place during an Altercation, when, quite correctly, Mr Dunphy was being investigated for a political Comment on Twitter.
Mr. Abbas, upset about the Shooting, tweeted the Following:
Execution just after Easter Sunday diner with his daughter. She must be devastated.
#RNC claim that executing citizens outside their jurisdiction for Twitter misunderstandings is a standard practice. (National Post, April 18)
It is clear that such Criticism of the Police cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. A Police Officer wounded by Criticism can hardly be expected to investigate and shoot People with Efficiency.
Two days after his Comments on the Shooting, Mr. Abbas was detained by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. He was taken to the Psychiatric Unit of Western Memorial Hospital, where two perceptive and right-thinking Doctors completed the Paperwork to effect an "involuntary admission."
When Mr. Abbas challenged the Detention in the provincial Supreme Court, the Judge sensibly claimed the Matter was beyond his Jurisdiction, and dismissed the Application.
We wish that this story had a happier Ending, and we could announce that Mr. Abbas continues to languish in the Psychiatric Unit, attending a Series of Re-Education Classes developed by Students at Wellesley College.
Unfortunately, Mr. Abbas was released, and an Appeals Judge – no doubt an elderly Jurist unaware of the great progressive Triumphs of our Age -- has criticised the Detention and the Dismissal of the Application. The Judge is apparently under the singular Apprehension that Freedom to criticize is of continuing Importance, and that the Pursuit of Harmony has its Limits.
This is Nonsense, of course. With the great Weight of Public Opinion now clearly in Favour of -- not free – but Appropriate Speech – we think this retrograde Ruling is the kind of odd Anomaly destined for an imminent and well-justified Extinction.
We look forward to the well-established and continuing Progress towards Sweetness, Light, and Harmony which can be achieved by limiting critical Speech.
April 14, 2017
We are pleased that we live in progressive Times.
The World has suddenly awakened to the Fact that it is assailed by varied Imperfections: some People – through some blameless Happenstance – through some Circumstance of Social Class, or Accident of Birth -- by chance of Gender or Colour of Skin --are more favoured than others: they are in the Ranks of the Privileged. At the same Time, Others, equally blameless, are not. They may be described as Victims.
This represents a manifest Inequality in Society, and since no easy Remedy is apparent, the first Thing that must be done is to make the Advantaged feel Guilt. It seems reasonable to believe that if the Fortunate can be made to feel sufficiently guilty, then they will be more humble, gentle and kind.
At the same Time that the Fortunate are made to feel guilty, the Unfortunate must be emboldened: they can make Demands for special Treatment; that special Treatment will be given, not on the outmoded Notion of Accomplishments, but on the much sounder Basis of Victimhood.
It will be seen, at once, that these Phenomena are part of the Political Correctness Movement – a benign Progress in social Awareness which is driven by the Notion of Equality. If the Privileged feel guilty, and are repressed, and the Unfortunate are emboldened and favoured, then some greater Measure of Equality will be obtained.
An important Principle in the Struggle for Equality, we might point out, is that no true Happiness can come in Society without an acute Awareness of Differences,* and a determined ignoring of Similarities. Differences must be examined, considered, discussed, and worked upon. The more Attention that is paid to Differences, the better. Only with a continual Preoccupation and Focus on Differences can they be made to disappear, and a World of Equality be established. This is known as the Law of Beneficial Contrary Logic.
We see that in Today’s National Post, Rex Murphy refers to two interesting Examples of the correct Approach to Differences.
One concerns a Student whose Application to Stanford University included an Essay on the topic: "What matters to you and why?" His Essay consisted of "#Black Lives Matter" repeated one Hundred Times. The insistence on a further Explanation, he declared was "inherently dehumanizing."
We must admit, that we have always felt exactly the same Way. Like a Poem -- as defined by Archibald MacLeish -- we should not "mean" – but "be." To explain oneself is to stoop to Self-Justification. Justification, in and of itself, suggests the Possibility of Deficiency or Error – and these are utterly incompatible with our intrinsic and cherished Humanity.
Quite correctly, Stanford University, accepted the Student with Alacrity. With a proper Show of Guilt, it paid appropriate Deference to an emotional Cry of Inequality and Victimhood.
The second Example is, perhaps, more interesting. It refers to an Exhortation -- by Darius Miner, a Chief Justice of the University of New Orleans Student Government Association -- to those of Privilege. In his Article, Mr. Murphy singles out only one of Mr. Miner’s Categories of Privilege – that of being right-handed. We will comment on the Privilege of Right-Handedness in a Moment.
But our research** has uncovered the Fact that, in his Speech in March of 2016, Mr. Miner identified Seven Categories of Privilege in Total.
Among the Categories: Men – who make a Dollar for every Seventy-Seven Cents earned by a Woman.
Then there are Heterosexuals, who are more highly regarded than those who cannot claim that Status.
Another Category contains those who are White, who are the "most prominent group in America." Mr. Miner does not suggest the Application of colouring Agents; nor is "colourblindness" an adequate Solution. Whites must, however, work towards Equality.
Other People of Privilege are College Students and those born in the United States of America.
College Students are privileged because they are able to pay Thousands of Dollars in Tuition.
And Americans have "human civil rights and freedom of choice" not enjoyed in other Jurisdictions.
All these Groups, according to Mr. Miner, should tread carefully, and "check their privilege" before making any potentially oppressive Moves.
We are particularly grateful that Mr. Miner has drawn Attention to the outrageous, thoughtless Oppression of the Left-Handed by Right-Handers over the Centuries. It may be too much to Hope, but perhaps, one Day, the Ambidextrous will also gain the even-handed Recognition of their proper Place in the Handed Universe
But in general, we can only commend Mr. Miner in his Attempts to raise the Level of Guilt in those of Privilege. There is not -- we venture to say -- nearly enough Guilt in the World.
We have always thought the average human Being to be far too casual, too bold and thoughtless for optimum mental Health. That Fearlessness – that confident Gait – that Willingness to engage the Gaze of Others has always seemed – to us -- to suggest a hidden, consuming Malaise with eventual dire Consequence.
Far better the shuffling Step, the tentative Aspect and averted Gaze – all Tokens of the Humility of the consciously Guilty. And where better to add to the Sum Total of Guilt than in the Ranks of the Privileged?
The only minor Difficulty we see in Mr. Miner's Recommendations is that the Amount of Guilt to be felt by any Individual is difficult to determine.
Suppose that one is a heterosexual, non-white Female College Student born in the United States. She should feel cautiously guilty as a result of her Heterosexuality, her Student Status, and her Place of Birth. But she should feel aggressively emboldened and demanding as a Victim: as a non-white Female.
Similarly, a gay white Male from Russia, lacking a College Education, is confronted with a serious Crisis of Privilege and Victimhood Parameters. His male Whiteness makes him a Creature of Privilege. Yet he is gay, from a Country deficient in human Rights, and lacking a College Education -- and thus clearly a Victim.
We cannot think that the Difficulties in resolving such Matters will not – ultimately – affect the Productivity and Well-Being of all Citizens as they attempt to determine their overall G.Q. – their Guilt Quotient.
What we would recommend, therefore, is that Committees be set up at each University – for it is from Universities we expect the most reasonable Advances towards Sweetness and Light – to determine – for each Student – the appropriate Guilt Quotient. Each Quotient would indicate the appropriate Amount of Guilt – to about three Decimal places – to be felt – along with Recommendations for appropriate Behaviours.
The astute Reader will see that the Guilt Quotient is meaningless without a corresponding V.Q. -- or Victimhood Quotient. The two Quotients, once determined, must be added together, and then divided by Two in order to get a viable A.B.Q. -- or Appropriate Behaviour Quotient -- which will lead to social Harmony.
Once the System is well-established, it could be extended – through local Libraries – to the Population at large.
This may sound like a great Deal of Work; but to achieve a greater
Equality, it seems an absurdly small Price to pay.
*On no Account should Differences be confused with Diversity. Diversity refers to benign Differences which have no Effect on Equality -- in the same Way that many diverse Angels may dance on the Head of a Pin, while a few different Angels will invariably fall off.
** From Campus Reform, March 15, 2016