Today marks the 24th anniversary of my father’s death and 40 days since the death of Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, a titan in Anglophone Eastern Orthodoxy.
I’m surprised at how much I’ve aggregated. It definitely was time to get it out of draft and onto the internet.
Rightward swings in the Western World
When Liberals Won’t Enforce Borders
Rapid mass migration, we now know, is arsenic to egalitarian social democracy.
But why turn to the former neo-Nazis? You won’t find an answer to that in woke-captured media either. The answer is similar to the reason Americans turned to Trump: for a very long time, no one in the mainstream parties or media would acknowledge the reality of the migrant crisis or do anything about it, except call those asking questions racists and fascists.
… In the immortal words of David Frum: if liberals won’t enforce borders, fascists will.
Andrew Sullivan on the roots of Sweden’s political swing to the hard right.
Italy’s rightward swing
We’re left with a picture of a country in which the center-left is supported mainly by the educated, secular, and professional classes, while the right appeals to a cross-section of the rest of the country—the working class as well as the middle and upper-middle classes, along with the religiously pious and the large numbers of Italians who treat religion as a symbol or identity-marker without actually believing in or practicing it.
If that sounds familiar, that’s because similar things have been happening in many places over the past decade. The precise political results of these shifts have varied from country to country as they’ve interacted with different electoral systems, but the underlying trends in public opinion can be seen to a greater or lesser extent in France, Great Britain, the U.S., and other countries. In each case, the center-left has gone into decline with the center-right and anti-liberal populist right rising to take its place.
Until the center-left figures out a way to win back the working- and middle-class, as well as the nominally religious, it will continue to lose precious political ground to the populist and nationalist right.
I’m quite impressed with Linker’s still-newish Substack. He’s been writing almost daily, but I don’t recall any total duds yet, and that’s a bit of a rarity even with writers whose schedules are more relaxed.
Angry Incoherence from the 5th Circuit
“I think passing this law was so much fun for these [Texas] legislators, and I think they might have expected it would get struck down, so the theater was the point.” But she also believes that there is likely some lack of understanding among those responsible for the law about just how extreme the First Amendment is in practice. “Most people don’t realize how much horrible speech is legal,” she said, arguing that historically, the constitutional right has confounded logic on both the political left and right. “These legislators think that they’re opening the door to some stuff that might offend liberals. But I don’t know if they realize they are also opening the door to barely legal child porn or pro-anorexia content and beheading videos. I don’t think they’ve understood how bad the bad is.
Daphne Keller, director of the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center, via Charlie Warzel on NetChoice v. Paxton, a bizarre 5th Circuit opinion upholding a Texas law that, motivated by a perception of liberal bias in moderation, essentially forbade big internet platforms to moderate content — and forbade them from ceasing to do business in Texas to boot! Is This the Beginning of the End of the Internet?.
Proxy or Leader?
The flow-with-the-go model of politics is baked into representative democracy. Or, rather, representative democracy invariably is shaped by the tension between the conception of representative-as-proxy—“I’m just here to represent the Will of the People!”—and representative-as-leader, a role in which a representative will, from time to time, be obliged to ignore or overrule popular sentiment in service to prudence and justice. This is Edmund Burke 101: “Your representative owes you not his industry only but his judgement; and he betrays you instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
Kevin D. Williamson, Grift 2.0
Burke’s has been my view of representative democracy for longer than I can remember. And his examples of "Grift 2.0" ring true.
I don’t know a statement more indicative of the character of our moment than this by J. D. Vance: “I think our people hate the right people.”
Alan Jacobs. Sadly, Vance is quite public about his Christian faith. That he should consider hate-promotion a feature, not a bug, is jarring.
Powered by Pure Spite
The cardinal virtue of modern conservative populism is spite. Whatever gambit a populist is pursuing, whatever agenda he or she might be advancing, the more it offends the enemy the more likely it is to be received by the right adoringly. Ron DeSantis’ Martha’s Vineyard stunt is an efficient example. It accomplished nothing meaningful yet observers on both sides agree that he helped his 2024 chances by pulling it off. He made the right people mad. That’s more important than thoughtful policy solutions.
Why spite has become so important to the right-wing populist ethic is hard to say, as it’s not symmetrical between the parties. The most prominent left-wing populist in Congress is probably Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a politician who, despite her many faults, doesn’t want for policy ideas. Ask AOC what her top priority as a legislator is and she might say the Green New Deal or Medicare For All. The most prominent right-wing populist in Congress is likely Marjorie Taylor Greene. Ask Greene what she wants to do with her power as a legislator and she’s apt to say, “Impeach Joe Biden.”
“Impeach Joe Biden for what?” you might ask, as if that matters. …
Spite doesn’t need a reason.
Nick Catoggio (f/k/a Allahpundit), The Wild Ones
True Movements or Mostly Hype?
It is perfectly clear that there is a movement in America of people who call themselves evangelicals but have no properly theological commitments at all. But what’s not clear, to me anyway, is how many of them there are. Donald Trump can draw some big crowds, and those crowds often have a quasi-religious focus on him or anyway on what they believe he stands for — but those crowds are not large in the context of the entire American population. They’re very visible, because both Left and Right have reasons for wanting them to be visible, but how demographically significant are they really?
I have similar questions about, for instance, the “national conservatism” movement. Is this actually a movement? Or is it just a few guys who follow one another on Twitter and subscribe to one another’s Substacks?
I dread our being too much dreaded
I must fairly say I dread our own power, and our own ambition; I dread our being too much dreaded. . . . We may say that we shall not abuse this astonishing, and hitherto unheard-of power. But every other nation will think we shall abuse it. It is impossible but that, sooner or later, this state of things must produce a combination against us which may end in our ruin.
Edmund Burke via Michael Brendan Dougherty, defending himself and Christopher Hitchens against charges of being Putin apologists for long opposing our policies in Ukraine, almost none of which charges are made in good faith.
To [Peter] Hitchens, whom I have admired greatly for some time, I say now is the time to apply realism to the trolls and demagogues and even to many of the think-tankers and mandarins on the other side. Our case is that they are mishandling grave matters, that they are hubristic and deluded about their own nations and about grand strategy. We think they are casting themselves, absurdly, as great statesmen like Churchill. You and I, having read just a little more history than can fit into a two-hour movie, don’t even belong to that cult in the same way they do. Why, then, should we ever have expected them to treat their powerless critics fairly?
Realism means admitting that our leadership is unworthy, deluded, and stupid. Really they are unprepared, or unfit for their roles. They have led us from one disaster to the next for over two decades. But we may avoid the worst calamity in spite of their failures. We may be saved the miscalculation of others. Or our salvation may be that the huge treasury of power and advantage bequeathed to our nations by previous generations cannot be wasted entirely, even by foolish heirs like these. Or it may be by pure dumb luck, or the grace of God.
I love WL’s [White Liberals], love ’em to death. They’re on our side. But WL’s think all the world’s problems can be fixed without any cost to themselves. We don’t believe that. There’s a lot to be said for sacrifice, remorse, even pity. It’s what separates us from roaches.
Our immigration system is broken, and relies on the invisible infrastructure maintained by non-profits and religious groups.
Leah Libresco Sargeant (italics added).
I think everyone knows the system is broken, but I had not been award of the invisible infrastructure. Maybe Paul Farmer wasn’t completely right about white liberals.
Because I say so. That’s why.
Over two decades ago, when I was getting to know Eric [Metaxas], we had a friendly argument over something theological, as we walked around Manhattan. When I challenged something Eric said, he replied that God had told him it was the thing to do. “How do you know that?” I asked. Because he did. The argument went nowhere. I remember it so clearly because that was the first time I had ever had a conversation with someone who asserted that something was true not because God said it — all Christians must believe that, or throw out Scripture — but because God had said it to them personally.
Rod Dreher, What I Saw at the Jericho March (MAGA at prayer event a shocking display of apocalyptic faith and politics — and religious decadence)
Apple pulls back from China
Apple announced Monday it has already begun manufacturing its new iPhone 14 in India, just weeks after the updated product launched and months earlier than previously expected. Production of the company’s newest line of phones typically begins in Chinese factories because of existing supply-chain efficiencies, with some of it shifting to India after six to nine months. The move is likely indicative of Western companies’ newfound desire to limit reliance on China amid economic uncertainty and geopolitical tensions.
The Morning Dispatch for Tuesday, 9/27/22
Battling Amazon in France
France introduces a delivery charge for books: The “minimum charge of €3 will help small independent booksellers struggling to compete with Amazon and other giant online retailers.”
The New Economy
Financialization itself, at the grand scale, was a racket—substituting swindles and frauds for the old economy of industrial production.
James Howard Kunstler, Living in the Long Emergency
Journalism, traditional and new
Toxic News Swamp
[H]ow could MSNBC and CBS News have both purported to “independently confirm” a CNN bombshell that was completely false?
Glenn Greenwald, How Do Big Media Outlets So Often "Independently Confirm" Each Other’s Falsehoods?
Oases of Sanity
If you’re tired of tearing your hair out over political writing, Alan Jacobs has the cure: an array of sane writers who are not carrying water for anyone or any cause:
- Leah Libresco Sargeant
- Noah Millman
- Damon Linker
- Zeynep Tufecki
- Yair Rosenberg
- John McWhorter
- Freddie deBoer
- Jonathan Rauch
- Jonathan Haidt
- Jesse Singal
- David French
- Andrew Sullivan
Software voluntarily installed on a smartphone to allow someone else to monitor, and challenge, one’s internet browsing. One group of Churches in particular is using it.
Similar to surveillance software like Bark or NetNanny, which is used to monitor children at home and school, “shameware” apps are lesser-known tools that are used to keep track of behaviors parents or religious organizations deem unhealthy or immoral. Fortify, for instance, was developed by the founder of an anti-pornography nonprofit called Fight the New Drug and tracks how often an individual masturbates in order to help them overcome “sexual compulsivity.” The app has been downloaded over 100,000 times and has thousands of reviews on the Google Play store.
My first reaction was “maybe some people really need this to straighten out.” But the security holes it creates are technically worrisome apart from spiritual or psychological concerns.
Automobiles, in the lexicon of Russell Kirk
Techdirt founder Mike Masnick’s summary of the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upholding Texas’ ban on big sites moderating content (see above). In greater detail…
made up of so many layers of wrongness that, in order to fully comprehend its significance, “you must understand the historical wrongness before the legal wrongness, before you can get to the technical wrongness.”
Via Charlie Warzel, Is This the Beginning of the End of the Internet?.
[S]ubordinating truth to politics is a game which tyrants and bullies always win.
Jonathan Rauch, The Constitution of Knowledge
The Orthodox "phronema" [roughly, mind-set] cannot be programmitized or reduced to shibboleths.
You can read most of my more impromptu stuff here (cathartic venting) and here (the only social medium I frequent, because people there are quirky, pleasant and real). Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly or Reeder, should you want to make a habit of it.