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The Age of Outrage: What the Current Political Climate is Doing to Our Country and Our Universities

Jonathan Haidt writes: Here is the fine-tuned liberal democracy hypothesis: as tribal primates, human beings are unsuited for life in large, diverse secular democracies, unless you get certain settings finely adjusted to make possible the development of stable political life. This seems to be what the Founding Fathers believed. Jefferson, Madison, and the rest of those eighteenth-century deists clearly did think that designing a constitution was like designing a giant clock, a clock that might run forever if they chose the right springs and gears.

Thankfully, our Founders were good psychologists. They knew that we are not angels; they knew that we are tribal creatures. As Madison wrote in Federalist 10: “the latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man.” Our Founders were also good historians; they were well aware of Plato’s belief that democracy is the second worst form of government because it inevitably decays into tyranny. Madison wrote in Federalist 10 about pure or direct democracies, which he said are quickly consumed by the passions of the majority: “such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention . . . and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

So what did the Founders do? They built in safeguards against runaway factionalism, such as the division of powers among the three branches, and an elaborate series of checks and balances. But they also knew that they had to train future generations of clock mechanics. They were creating a new kind of republic, which would demand far more maturity from its citizens than was needed in nations ruled by a king or other Leviathan.

Here is the education expert E.D. Hirsch, on the founding of our nation:

The history of tribal and racial hatred is the history and prehistory of humankind. . . . The American experiment, which now seems so natural to us, is a thoroughly artificial device designed to counterbalance the natural impulses of group suspicions and hatreds. . . . This vast, artificial, trans-tribal construct is what our Founders aimed to achieve. And they understood that it can be achieved effectively only by intelligent schooling. (From The Making of Americans)

Thomas Jefferson wrote, in 1789, that “wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government;” he backed up that claim by founding the University of Virginia, about which he wrote, in 1820: “This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error as long as reason is left free to combat it.”

[Read the full story here, at City Journal]

So, how are we doing, as the inheritors of the clock? Are we maintaining it well? If Madison visited Washington, D.C. today, he’d find that our government is divided into two all-consuming factions, which cut right down the middle of each of the three branches, uniting the three red half-branches against the three blue half-branches, with no branch serving the original function as he had envisioned.

And how are we doing at training clock mechanics? What would Jefferson say if he were to take a tour of America’s most prestigious universities in 2017? What would he think about safe spaces, microaggressions, trigger warnings, bias response teams, and the climate of fearfulness, intimidation, and conflict that is now so prevalent on campus? But first, let’s ask: How did we mess things up so badly? Read the rest of this entry »

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Russia ‘Conflicted’ on How to Mark 100 Years Since Revolutions

Moscow (AFP) – It was the year that ended centuries of royal rule, brought two revolutions, ushered in Soviet domination and changed the course of Russian history irrevocably.

A century later, the country seems unsure how to treat the tumultuous events of 1917 that saw it hurtle from the abdication of the last tsar Nicholas II to a Communist dictatorship in a matter of months.

During seven decades of Soviet rule the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks was celebrated with pomp by the Kremlin and the tsarist regime was demonised.

But after the collapse of the USSR in 1991 there was a u-turn that saw the royal family canonised and public opinion increasingly view the upheavals not as a triumph but as a tragedy that sparked generations of bloodshed and suffering in Russia.

Now, over a quarter of a century after the Communist empire founded by Vladimir Lenin vanished, current leader Vladimir Putin appears to be performing a balancing act.

Some 500 conferences, round tables, exhibitions and art festivals are planned to mark the centenary — but so far, at least, there are no signs that there will be any major fanfare.

“Russian society needs an objective, honest and profound analysis of these events,” Putin said in a speech last year.

“The lessons of history are needed primarily for reconciliation, to strengthen society,” he said, adding that it is “impermissible to let the splits, malice, resentment and bitterness of the past into our life today.”

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A former Soviet-era intelligence officer, Putin has turned himself into what many see as a kind of modern tsar and surrounded himself with a new super-wealthy elite.

A Soviet soldier buys a ticket for the performance of the Seventh Symphony in Leningrad in August 1942

A Soviet soldier buys a ticket for the performance of the Seventh Symphony in Leningrad in August 1942

His mantra has been restoring stability, strength and unity to the country after the upheaval that followed the end of the Soviet Union, and returning Russia to the conservative values of the past.

Following mass anti-Kremlin rallies in 2011-12 and the ouster of the Russian-backed leader of Ukraine by protesters in 2014, authorities have been increasingly wary of any popular revolt that could impact their grip on power. Read the rest of this entry »


Is America is Due for a Revolution?

Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American TelevisionMay 1, 2015 – September 20, 2015 The Jewish Museum, New York

Here’s the good news: The chaos and upheaval we see all around us have historical precedents and yet America survived. The bad news: Everything likely will get worse before it gets better again.

Michael Goodwin writes: That’s my chief takeaway from “Shattered Consensus,” a meticulously argued analysis of the growing disorder. Author James Piereson persuasively makes the case there is an inevitable “revolution” coming because our politics, culture, education, economics and even philanthropy are so polarized that the country can no longer resolve its differences.

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“How, Piereson wonders, was it possible that Fidel Castro and Che Guevara became heroes to the American left when it was a committed communist who killed the left’s beloved Kennedy?”

To my knowledge, no current book makes more sense about the great unraveling we see in each day’s headlines. Piereson captures and explains the alienation arising from the sense that something important in American life is ending, but that nothing better has emerged to replace it.shattered consensus

The impact is not restricted by our borders. Growing global conflict is related to America’s failure to agree on how we should govern ourselves and relate to the world.

[Order James Piereson’s bookShattered Consensus: The Rise and Decline of America’s Postwar Political Order” from Amazon.com]

Piereson describes the endgame this way: “The problems will mount to a point of crisis where either they will be addressed through a ‘fourth revolution’ or the polity will begin to disintegrate for lack of fundamental agreement.”

[Read the full text here, at New York Post]

He identifies two previous eras where a general consensus prevailed, and collapsed. Each lasted about as long as an individual’s lifetime, was dominated by a single political party and ended dramatically.

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“Piereson also deftly demolishes the myth of Camelot by recounting how a grieving first lady created the legend on a single weekend after the president’s funeral…White and his editors resisted the grandiose and sentimental story line, but finally relented to the grieving widow. White later expressed regret for helping to create the Camelot myth.”

First came the era that stretched from 1800 until slavery and sectionalism led to the Civil War. The second consensus, which he calls the capitalist-industrial era, lasted from the end of the Civil War until the Great Depression.

Author James Piereson

Author James Piereson

“That’s not to say he’s pessimistic — he thinks a new era could usher in dynamic growth, as happened after the previous eras finally reached general agreement on national norms. But first we must weather a crisis that may involve an economic and stock-market collapse, a terror attack, or simply a prolonged and bitter stalemate.”

It is the third consensus, which grew out of the depression and World War II, which is now shattering. Because the nation is unable to solve economic stagnation, political dysfunction and the resulting public discontent, Piereson thinks the consensus “cannot be resurrected.”

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“The problems will mount to a point of crisis where either they will be addressed through a ‘fourth revolution’ or the polity will begin to disintegrate for lack of fundamental agreement.”

That’s not to say he’s pessimistic — he thinks a new era could usher in dynamic growth, as happened after the previous eras finally reached general agreement on national norms. But first we must weather a crisis that may involve an economic and stock-market collapse, a terror attack, or simply a prolonged and bitter stalemate. Read the rest of this entry »


[AUDIO] Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (Official Version)


[VIDEO] Monty Python And The Holy Grail: ‘Help Help I’m Being Repressed’

Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.
Shut up!
Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! HELP! HELP! I’m being repressed!
Bloody peasant!


[VIDEO] Exclusive Footage: In Historic Cuba Visit, President Obama Visits Modern Havana


Radical Feline Redistributionist’s Confiscation of Canine Property! [VIDEO] Evidence of Cats Stealing Dog Beds

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