Recently in Culture Category
Some valid points about the declining ability of newspapers to shape the local political debate:
"But in recent decades, the plutocrat's ability to control a city or region's news agenda through ownership of its top daily and the manipulation of its news product has plummeted. Even in places where a plutocrat owns the only daily, independent radio and television journalists abound to expose him if he insists on resting his thumb too heavily on the news scale. Bloggers and weekly newspapers also stand ready to criticize him. The Adelson family's purchase of the Review-Journal--to make concrete our discussion of plutocracy--has made the paper's coverage of even inconsequential events an object of national fascination." Certainly it's a good thing that critics are scrutinizing media sources to see how their coverage might be shaped by corporate interests.
Still, there's something menacing in the last couple of paragraphs:
"But for the modern plutocrat, purchasing a newspaper conveys no new, instant power. The competition for audience and advertising is too great for any newspaper to run roughshod over the truth and not pay a price.... The Adelsons have purchased a wonderful toy that the culture won't ever let them play with."
Media outlets don't have to "run roughshod over the truth" to have influence. Simply by selecting which stories to pursue, which stories to promote, a newspaper shapes public perception, particularly when it comes to local officials, which fewer alternative outlets are writing about.
If the writer means to suggest that the professional journalists at the LVRJ will continue to skew coverage to the Left, in spite of the new ownership... well, conservative schools are turning out plenty of hungry, aspiring reporters.
Think in terms of Anakin as an outsider, able to perceive the limitations of Jedi traditionalism. Balance in the Force = balance between traditionalism and unfettered libertarianism?
"The most important weapons of al-Qaeda and the rest of the Islamist terror network are the suicide bomber and the suicide thinker. The suicide bomber is typically a Muslim fanatic whose mission it is to spread terror; the suicide thinker is typically a Western academic or journalist or politician whose mission it is to destroy the West's will to resist not just terrorism but any ideological challenge at all.
"But al-Qaeda didn't create the ugly streak of nihilism and self-loathing that afflicts too many Western intellectuals. Nor, I believe, is it a natural development. It was brought to us by Department V of the KGB, which was charged during the Cold War with conducting memetic warfare that would destroy the will of the West's intelligentsia to resist a Communist takeover. This they did with such magnificent effect that the infection outlasted the Soviet Union itself and remains a pervasive disease of contemporary Western intellectual life.
"Consider the following propositions:
- There is no truth, only competing agendas.
- All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West's history of racism and colonialism.
- There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.
- The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.
- Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
- The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
- For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself.
- But "oppressed" people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.
- When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist's point of view, and make concessions.
"These ideas travel under many labels: postmodernism, nihilism, multiculturalism, Third-World-ism, pacifism, "political correctness" to name just a few. It is time to recognize them for what they are, and call them by their right name: suicidalism....
"I think it's important to understand that, although suicidalism builds on some pre-existing pathologies of Western culture, it is not a native or natural development. It is an infection that evildoers and their dupes created and then spread as part of a war against the West; their goal was totalitarian control, and part of their method was to talk the West into slitting its own throat."
"Accordingly, the Soviet espionage apparat actually ran two different kinds of network: one of spies, and one of agents of influence. The agents of influence had the minor function of recruiting spies (as, for example, when Kim Philby was brought in by one of his tutors at Cambridge), but their major function was to spread dezinformatsiya, to launch memetic weapons that would damage and weaken the West....
"As I previously observed, if you trace any of these [memetic weapons] back far enough, you'll find a Stalinist intellectual at the bottom. ...
"The Soviets consciously followed the Gramscian prescription; they pursued a war of position, subverting the "leading elements" of society through their agents of influence.... This worked exactly as expected; their memes seeped into Western popular culture and are repeated endlessly in (for example) the products of Hollywood.
"Indeed, the index of Soviet success is that most of us no longer think of these memes as Communist propaganda. It takes a significant amount of digging and rethinking and remembering, even for a lifelong anti-Communist like myself, to realize that there was a time (within the lifetime of my parents) when all of these ideas would have seemed alien, absurd, and repulsive to most people -- at best, the beliefs of a nutty left-wing fringe, and at worst instruments of deliberate subversion intended to destroy the American way of life....
"While the espionage apparatus of the Soviet Union didn't outlast it, their memetic weapons did. These memes are now coming near to crippling our culture's response to Islamic terrorism....
"The first step to recovery is understanding the problem. Knowing that suicidalist memes were launched at us as war weapons by the espionage apparatus of the most evil despotism in human history is in itself liberating. Liberating, too, it is to realize that the Noam Chomskys and Michael Moores and Robert Fisks of the world (and their thousands of lesser imitators in faculty lounges everywhere) are not brave transgressive forward-thinkers but pathetic memebots running the program of a dead tyrant....
"Again, this is by design. Lenin and Stalin wanted classical-liberal individualism replaced with something less able to resist totalitarianism, not more. Volk-Marxist fantasy and postmodern nihilism served their purposes; the emergence of an adhesive counter-ideology would not have. Thus, the Chomskys and Moores and Fisks are running a program carefully designed to dead-end at nothing.
"Religions are good at filling that kind of nothing. Accordingly, if transnational progressivism actually succeeds in smothering liberal individualism, its reward will be to be put to the sword by some flavor of jihadi. Whether the eventual winners are Muslims or Mormons, the future is not going to look like the fuzzy multicultural ecotopia of modern left fantasy. The death of that dream is being written in European banlieus by angry Muslim youths under the light of burning cars....
"I remain more optimistic than this. I think there is still an excellent chance that the West can recover from suicidalism without going through a fevered fascist episode and waging a genocidal war. But to do so, we have to do more than recognize Stalin's memes; we have to reject them. We have to eject postmodern leftism from our universities, transnational progressivism from our politics, and volk-Marxism from our media."
Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes) vs. Charles Schulz (Peanuts) on merchandising and artistic integrity.
"Second, I argue that youthful intolerance is driven by different factors than old fashioned intolerance, and that this change reflects the ideology of the New Left. Herbert Marcuse, considered 'The Father of the New Left,' articulates a philosophy that denies political expression to those who would oppose a progressive social agenda. In his 1965 essay 'Repressive Tolerance,' Marcuse (1965) writes,
"'Tolerance is extended to policies, conditions, and modes of behavior which should not be tolerated because they are impeding, if not destroying, the chances of creating an existence without fear and misery. This sort of tolerance strengthens the tyranny of the majority against which authentic liberals protested... Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.'
"The idea of 'liberating tolerance' then is one in which ideas that the left deems to be intolerant are suppressed. It is an Orwellian argument for an 'intolerance of intolerance' and it appears to be gaining traction in recent years, reshaping our commitments to free speech, academic freedom, and basic democratic norms. If we look only at people under the age of 40, intolerance is correlated with a 'social justice' orientation. That is, I find that people who believe that the government has a responsibility to help poor people and blacks get ahead are also less tolerant. Importantly, this is true even when we look at tolerance towards groups other than blacks. For people over 40, there is no relationship between social justice attitudes and tolerance. I argue that this difference reflects a shift from values of classical liberalism to the New Left. For older generations, support for social justice does not require a rejection of free speech. Thus, this tension between leftist social views and political tolerance is something new."
"During my own time in places like Cambridge, Mass., and Ithaca, N.Y., I frequently encountered people who claimed they'd 'never met' another Evangelical or 'never heard' one of my relatively standard conservative arguments. Their ignorance was matched only by their condescension, as they were convinced they knew the 'true' motivations for my deeply held beliefs.
"That's not to say that nothing else matters besides religion, but when encountering people who proclaim faith-based motivations for their actions, it is generally prudent to take them at their word and evaluate their actions and intentions from within their own frame of reference. If the Left applied this framework to jihadists abroad and Christians at home, it would understand that the reality is both worse than they fear and better than they hope. Jihadists are more deadly and vicious than they understand, while the religious neighbors the Left so despises turn out to be among America's most kind and generous citizens.
"In other words, when it comes to religion, the credentialed Left needs an education. Its ignorance is making our nation weak and tearing it apart."
"Clinton's claim to the supremacy of his individual moral truth paid handsomely. Cub demagogues at Mizzou, Ithaca, Hanover, and elsewhere are products of a culture that rewarded Clinton for discarding traditional synthesis between public and private scruples. Sever that unity, sanction perception over fact, and the means for moral reflection shrink to a grab bag of politicized 'values,' the weight of privacy among them.
"In private, Bubba was a moral grotesque. But his public persona exhibited concern for old-growth forests, ozone depletion, and racial discrimination. He opposed the Vietnam War and, later, sugary drinks. Plus, he left a budget surplus. What more can we ask?
"Answer: much more. But we have forgotten how to do it, forgotten even the import of the question. Mizzou and the rest are the price of our blackout."
A British couple explains why they're waiting for marriage, and how they're able to handle the pressure. A very winsome presentation. "We don't want to portray ourselves as these holier-than-thou people. But it's actually possible to have a functional relationship, in which you express physically that you care for someone, without having sex. There is a middle ground, and that's what we're trying to get across really, by agreeing to do something like this. I've had people ridicule me, and they get really explicit. They cannot get their heads around it.
"And I think another thing that is really a motivation is that, well, the Bible says that our faith is not just for ourselves, but for other people. Ore and I are trying to be a light for others. If there's one person who sees what we're doing and thinks, "I want to do that too," then thank God for that. It's another added pressure but at the same time we're honoured to carry that burden."
"I see the idea of human rights and human dignity as being a peculiarly biblical concept. In Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin, a Catholic Italy, a Lutheran Germany, an Orthodox Russia succumbed to totalitarianism because of liberal humanist ideas that man can create a utopia. Joseph Campbell [the late renowned scholar of comparative mythology] and Carl Jung were both shocked after they came to India. They realized that the natural law is not natural. The fact is there are consequences to teaching that human beings are nothing but animals. This 'truth' destroys the entire basis of civilized political life."