May 6, 2006

EGO UNLEASHED (via Genecis):

From stiff upper lip to clenched jaws: Youthful embrace of human rights is destroying British dignity and decorum (Theodore Dalrymple, May 06, 2006, The Spectator)

WHAT a human catastrophe is the doctrine of human rights! Not only does it give officialdom an excuse to insinuate itself into the fabric of our lives but it has a profoundly corrupting effect on youth, who have been indoctrinated into believing that until such rights were granted (or is it discovered?) there was no freedom.

Worse still, it persuades each young person that they are uniquely precious, which is to say more precious than anyone else; and that, moreover, the world is a giant conspiracy to deprive them of their rightful entitlements. Once someone is convinced of their rights, it becomes impossible to reason with them; and thus the reason of the Enlightenment is swiftly transformed into the unreason of the psychopath.


Posted by Orrin Judd at May 6, 2006 4:20 PM

There is a lot of ruin in a country. That's why Russia did not collapse as soon as the Commies took over. Habit will keep you going for a generation, maybe a little longer, but once the new rules are internalized, the game is up.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 6, 2006 4:53 PM

Yes, "transformed." The reason of the Enlightenment is not necessarily the "unreason of the psychopath" any more than religious faith is necessarily religious fanaticism.

Maybe Orrin is just being flip, or exaggerating to make his point, or trolling his own blog again, but such sweeping, simplistic statements are usually the hallmark of name-calling political discourse, and I expect better around here. I think it's pretty obvious that the reason of the Enlightenment was and is a Good Thing, but like all Good Things, they can be taken too far. It's a sign of wisdom (and a core principle of conservativism, I thought) that taking things to extremes is generally not a good idea, so it's silly to condemn something good simply because it has been taken to extremes by some. It's an odious sort of retroactive guilt-by-association.

So can we all agree that the fact that the concept of "rights" is often abused, that doesn't discredit the basic concept? Later, maybe we can learn that Nazi eugenics doesn't discredit Darwin!

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 6, 2006 5:35 PM


No, the Reason of the Enlightenment is literally psychopathic, or egomaniacal. it is our avoidance of the Enlightenment that differentiates Anglo-America from continental Europe. They followed the Descartes whom Hume had made nonsense of. Nothing good came of it.

Posted by: oj at May 6, 2006 5:44 PM

PapayaSF, why doesn't Nazi eugenics discredit Darwin? It seems a straight line to me. You see a line, 'this far and no farther'. Could you expand on this line, and where in Darwin's theories you found it?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 6, 2006 6:16 PM

OJ, as far as I understand it, Hume and the American Revolution and the Constitution are all part of this Enlightenment you seem to despise. This is not to say that our country doesn't have other philosophical/religious roots as well, but the Enlightenment is generally considered to be a big part of it. Certainly none of them are considered anti-Enlightenment.

Robert, the ends of "straight lines" don't necessarily discredit their starting points. Some will say there's a straight line from Jesus to that jerk Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps and his obnoxious protests at funerals, but it's clear to me that were Jesus around today, he would tell Phelps: "You've got it all wrong." Similarly, Darwin's explanation of the origin of species does not require or lead inevitably to extermination camps, and I'm sure that if Darwin were around, he'd say so.

Of course, this is not to say there aren't some insidious ideas that inevitably lead to tragedy. Marx and Lenin come to mind, but not reason or Darwin. Attacking those ideas because of some extremist misapplication/misunderstanding of them is like banning guns because criminals sometimes use them.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 6, 2006 7:23 PM

Yes, you obviously understand incorrectly. Note that the Foundation is exclusively upon faith and not Reason. France's is the opposite.

Here's a very simple thought experiment: just remove God and Creation from the Declaration and what's left?

Hume demonstrated that Descartes was wrong about Reason.

Posted by: oj at May 6, 2006 7:53 PM

Thank you for your time PapayaSF. That's what I'm asking. What is the misapplication/misunderstanding? I understand the extreme part, but law of the jungle seems pretty easy to apply.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 6, 2006 8:33 PM


I'm not sure where you are going with "rights", but Enlightenment defenders have a tendency to paint pre-Enlightenment times as cesspools of savagery, servitutde and ignorance and claim credit for more than they should. The moral relativism, anti-religion and dogmatic naturalism we attack around here are all products of the Enlightenment, but concrete political freedoms like free speech and freedom of religion, legal rights like jury trials and the right to counsel, property rights, democracy and representative government, scientific inquiry, respect for the secular, the dignity of women, aboriginal rights and opposition to slavery are not.

I'm not claiming all the good things we enjoy in modern would have happened in any event without it, but it is not an easy argument to say they definitely wouldn't have. It's somewhat easier to make the case some pretty horrific things wouldn't have happened but for it.

Posted by: Peter B at May 6, 2006 9:05 PM

Robert, one can explain how species arise and disappear without branding some people as subhuman and sending them to death camps. I'd call that a misapplication! The "straight line" between those positions is so long you'd need a telescope to see the ends.

Peter, I'm not one of those defenders. I also think you are splitting hairs by claiming that the political freedoms listed are not products of the Enlightenment. Perhaps not in the sense of "invented during," but certainly the Enlightenment promoted and helped establish all of them.

Orrin, I think your position is waaaaay out there. Not to argue from authority, but I doubt if 1% of historians of the Founding would agree with you, and that's not because of loony leftism. Is everyone out of step but you?

Sure, there was faith involved: only silly extreme secularists deny it. But to deny any place for reason and other Enlightenment values? Sorry, that's just wacky. The Federalist Papers aren't a bunch of theological arguments. The three branches of our government weren't modeled after the Trinity. The Constitutional Convention wasn't held to have a religious discussion. Reason, logic, and lots of Enlightenment values went into their creation. The country was clearly founded by men who believed in both reason and faith.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 6, 2006 9:58 PM


No, you can't. If you believe in Darwinism then all the races are different species--indeed every ethnicity--and it's the war of all against all. That's why Darwinism always ends in racism, eugenics, sociobiology, etc. and why Darwinists had to radically rewrite themselves after the Holocaust.

The Founding could hardly be more explicitly Judeo-Christian:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Nor the Federalist Papers about theirs:

Nor historians and intellectuals about how their Rationalism places them at odds with America:

Posted by: oj at May 6, 2006 10:10 PM

Again, thank you for your time PapayaSF. I'm still not following you. Why is branding some people a misapplication? Distasteful, yes, wrong, certainly. But those are moral judgements, and morals aren't part of scientific theories, right?
And once you have made history a competition, why wouldn't all groups play to win? To the victor the spoils, right? And in Darwinian theory the spoils are survival, right?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 6, 2006 10:23 PM

Reason is a gift. But it only take us so far. Unless it is informed by faith, you get things like Dr. Hwang's Human Embryo Farm.

The problem isn't "rights"--it's forgetting that rights are God-given. Without faith, reason alone whispers we are as gods, entitled to rights unaccompianied by corresponding duties--a thing which never was nor will be.

Posted by: Noel at May 6, 2006 10:31 PM

That's reason, which acknowledges itself a subset of faith. The claim of the Enlightenment is that Reason stands above faith. Hume shot that canard down and Anglo-America avoided the fate of Europe:

That's why we are Founded explicitly on our being Created beings, while the French Revolution was based upon human Reason.

Posted by: oj at May 6, 2006 10:36 PM

You guys are mistaking the English Enlightenment, which had a lot to do with the Founding, and the Enlightenment, which didn't. The difference is the difference between Voltaire, man in a state of nature is noble, vs. Hobbes, man in a state of nature is nasty, brutish and short lived. The English Enlightenment sees man as fallen and government as just only as it protects each person's inalienable rights. The Enlightenment sees man as perfectable, but crushed by the ancien regime. Thus, the Enlightenment seeks only to get rid of the old regime while the English Enlightenment seeks to conserve those portions that work to secure our G-d give rights.

Some of the confusion comes from a misunderstanding of Locke as saying that man is perfectable and naturally good. Fortunately, the Framers understood him properly and designed a government, not for angels, but for man as he is.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 6, 2006 11:15 PM

Yes, the English philosophers were and always have been anti-Enlightenment. Even the mostly second-raters of the 20th Century--Wittgenstein, Berlin, Oakeshott, etc.--are defined by their hostility to Reason.

Posted by: oj at May 6, 2006 11:21 PM

and others,
Please remember, there were actually three "enlightenments" running at the same time.
The French, the British and the American "enlightenments".
Anybody who believes the "French" enlightenment led to anything other than the Stalin/Hitler horrors of the 20th Century, will also believe Iraq, and the world, would be better off if Saddam were still in power.
Read "The Roads to Modernity" by Gertrude Himmelfarb, then return here to post your thinking, or lack thereof.

Posted by: Mike Daley at May 6, 2006 11:21 PM

If you believe in Darwinism then all the races are different species--indeed every ethnicity--and it's the war of all against all.

No, and no. Species are defined by what can interbreed, and since all humans can, we're all one species. And both you and Robert keep trying to tell me what I "must" believe about Darwin, and it's silly. Darwin described a process visible in nature, he did not prescribe forcible eugenics. Do you guys also blame Priestley for acts of arson? Or perhaps blame Harvey for slasher films? And that creep Edison, inflicting rap music on us all!

David and Mike, I'm only defending the American/English Enlightenment. And are you two (and everybody else here) OK with OJ's statement that reason and "the Enlightenment" (pick one or more) had nothing to do with the Founding?

OJ, granted that the Founding was explicitly Judeo-Christian, and that many use rationalism to bad effect or for bad ends. I never said otherwise. I just think your thesis here is ridiculously ahistorical, untraditional, and unconvincing.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 7, 2006 1:55 AM

Thanks for your time PapayaSF. I'm not telling you what you must believe about Darwin, I'm asking what you believe about Darwin. Sorry if I wasn't clear. I don't believe anything in 'The Ascent of Man' was visible in nature. But it did equate man to animal. If man is an animal(as opposed to Man) then the practice of animal husbandry follows easily. That would be priority breeding of favored stock and culling of 'inferior' stock. Both were used in the Nazi eugenics program. It's the fact that we are one species that makes the culling needful(if one is trying to 'improve' the species). Darwin did not prescibe forcible eugenics, he discribed it(forcible eugenics). What I am asking is why men of science would shy away from a natural ongoing process. What in Darwin's theory would stop them for acting as a catalyst for something that was going to happen anyway?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 7, 2006 2:29 AM


Nope, when it turned out that most "species" could interbreed but chose not to they changed the definition of species to populations that choose to breed.

Darwin's specific theory is that evolution is driven by competition between and within those populations. Thus is racism sanctioned and, for the believer, exterminationism the necessary course. It's not a coincidence that Darwinists end up applying Darwinism and when they do so it's with murderous results.

Posted by: oj at May 7, 2006 7:38 AM

Papaya: I don't understand OJ to be saying anything different. He agrees that American independence was an outgrowth of a developing organic English ideology. Indeed, he seems to think that is was precipitous, unnecessary and, to the extent it led to the abandonment of the monarchy, as bad idea.

As for Darwin, it's not like human beings are a blank slate. We'll grab hold of any theory that even potentially drives a wedge between us and them, particularly if it can be used to let us go to war with them and take their stuff. As it is trivial to use Darwin in that way, Darwinism is dangerous.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 7, 2006 11:27 AM

So Darwin sanctions racism and extermination, and the proof of this is that, for OJ and Robert and Nazis, it logically follows from humans evolving from animals. Oooookaaaaay. I guess the fact that 99%+ of the people who think Darwin was onto something don't believe in this "logic" doesn't mean squat around here.

Why OJ thinks "most" species can interbreed, I have no idea. You can't make it out of Biology 101 with ideas like that.

Robert, just because humans evolved from animals doesn't mean we aren't special, and doesn't negate morality or forbid God. You may think it does, but recall that 400 years ago there were many who thought that proof that the Earth revolved around the sun was an attack on religious belief. Somehow Christianity survived that crisis, just as it survived Darwin.

David, as history shows, it's also trivial to use religion in that way, so I don't think that's an argument the faithful should use!

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 7, 2006 2:22 PM


No, the theory itself requires racism, as Darwin himself was never bashful about:

I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for
the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. Remember
what risk the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago of being
overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The
more civilised so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow
in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant
date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been
eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world. Letter
to W. Graham July 3rd, 1881

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the
civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace,
the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the
anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no
doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will
then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised
state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a
baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the
gorilla. The Descent of Man (1882)

Posted by: oj at May 7, 2006 2:29 PM

Thank you for your thoughts PapayaSF. The question is where does Evolution explain how we are special, moral, and allow God. You may think people are better then animals, but PETA doesn't.
Racism and Extermination are the basis of Darwin's theory. The race that is fit survives, the one that is not is exterminated. Nature does not care, there are no Morals in the natural state.
As far as the 99%, isn't that what we are trying to do here, change and educate minds?
As far as OJ's comment about species interbreeding, that's simple. The biologists were happy to have the definition of species changed, to help the eco-nuts stop dams and other improvements from being built. If you want respect, don't be a whore.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 7, 2006 2:47 PM

Papaya: Religion is almost never used to justify extermination. In fact, off the top of my head I can't think of a single example. Some people have tried to use religion to justify racism, though they've always failed. It is certainly not a trivial exercise, as race is not a concept found in the Bible. The explanations, having to do with Ham and his sons, is always convoluted and ultimately fails. Religion seems to unavoidably teach that all men share a common humanity; the rallying cry of the religious is to convert the heathen, not exterminate him.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 7, 2006 4:29 PM


In fact, Darwinism teaches that we are no better than animals and are fair game for the killing.

Posted by: oj at May 7, 2006 4:57 PM

OJ, your quotes from Darwin show pretty common 19th century racism, but the "extermination" he refers to "survival of the fittest," not murder.

Robert, don't lump me in with PETA. And don't call me, or biologists, whores because of something like the definition of a species. Sheesh. And if you think "most" species can interbreed, then cross a cat with a fly or a dog with a tree and get back to me.

David, you said "We'll grab hold of any theory that even potentially drives a wedge between us and them, particularly if it can be used to let us go to war with them and take their stuff." That covers lots of religious wars. If you want to limit it to "extermination" backed by religion, the experience of the Armenian Christians, and the Jews with the Muslims, and the Japanese in China all come to mind.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 7, 2006 7:43 PM


Yes, no population can afford to take the chance that it's the less fit, so extermnination of the others is imperative. Selfish genes and all that nonsense.

it's entirely admirable, and typical of most of the Dawinists here, tha you find the logical conclusions of the theory to be morally repugnant, but you can't deny them and maintain the theory.

Posted by: oj at May 7, 2006 7:50 PM

Thank you for your comments PapayaSF. I am not lumping you with PETA, I thought I made that clear, sorry. I was trying to find where your abjection to treating people like animals was coming from. It doesn't see to come from Darwin. Is it just fiat?
I am not calling you a whore, I thought I was clear in referencing Biologists. Again, I'm sorry I wasn't clear. But you bring up why I called Biologists whores. Most 'species' can interbreed. The snail darter and darter in general can interbreed just fine. Same with owls and spotted owls. In their desire to protect some regional variants, the Biologists pimped themselves out to the Eco-nuts desire to stop construction. Short term gain, Long term damage to the science.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 7, 2006 8:06 PM

seem not see. My bad.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at May 7, 2006 8:07 PM
Religion seems to unavoidably teach that all men share a common humanity; the rallying cry of the religious is to convert the heathen, not exterminate him.
You mean like the way the Jews worked to convert other tribes instead of exterminating them as told in the Old Testament? Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at May 8, 2006 10:55 AM

Papaya: The Japanese in China? That would require either nation to take religion seriously, but in theory they share religions. (Shinto is not a religion in the western sense.) In any event, the Japanese were not bent on exterminating the Chinese. The Muslims are not exterminationist when it comes to the Jews and it wasn't Armenian Christianity that was annoying the Turks. Don't confuse religious wars, of which there have been many, with exterminationist wars, of which there have been only a few.

AOG: The Jews were given specific instructions by G-d to destroy a particular nation because of sins committed against Him. There was no general instruction to the Jews to exterminate strangers; in fact just the opposite. But, as long as you are willing to concede that the Torah is a reliable source of historical truth, I will admit your exception.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 8, 2006 12:33 PM

Mr. Cohen;

Admitting the exception completely destroys your contention, so I am fine with that, although the historical accuracy of the Torah is irrelevant in this matter, it matters only what the Torah teaches its believers. And that seems to be, sometimes God calls on you to exterminate some other tribe/city/religion, but He never calls on you to convert them. If I am mistaken, I would be happy to receive counter-evidential cites from the Torah.

My knowledge of religion leads me to the conclusion that conversion as a goal is in fact rare and of relatively recent invention, basically by Christianity. Again, counter evidence would be welcomed.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at May 8, 2006 2:48 PM

Robert, the fact that I don't treat people like animals is based on the ancient conservative principle of "common sense." Beliefs as to the origin of people don't really change that for me.

Regarding species interbreeding, the darter/snail darter exceptions are just that: exceptions. The definition of species is necessarily somewhat fuzzy, because (get ready for it...) life on Earth doesn't seem to be intelligently designed. Important note: that says nothing about the existence of God, the origin or purpose of life, or how humans should treat each other. And sure, some biologists/[insert profession here] slant things for their own purposes. But my basic point still stands: most species cannot interbreed.

it's entirely admirable, and typical of most of the Dawinists here, tha you find the logical conclusions of the theory to be morally repugnant, but you can't deny them and maintain the theory.

Sure I can, OJ, because your error lies in the phrase "logical conclusions." You believe (in general) in capitalism, free markets and economic competition, correct? Ford and GM compete in the market. Each would like the other's marketshare. So is the "logical conclusion" of capitalism that GM should bomb Ford's plants and murder their employees? And if you're against that, does that mean you really don't believe in economic competition? Maybe to some fevered leftist, but not to anyone with sense and morals. Similarly, no one with sense and morals who believes in Darwin's ideas also believes the "logical conclusion" is race murder.

David, your original statement was: We'll grab hold of any theory that even potentially drives a wedge between us and them, particularly if it can be used to let us go to war with them and take their stuff. As it is trivial to use Darwin in that way, Darwinism is dangerous. Nothing about extermination there. My point is that it is even more trivial (and far more common) to use religion in that way, a point atheists always make. And they have lots of history as evidence, but of course they must ignore all the positive effects of religion. So all I was saying is that "it's dangerous" is a poor argument for someone of faith to use against Darwin.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 8, 2006 3:16 PM


No, it's based on Judeo-Christianity. If you followed your senses you'd kill anyone who deviated sufficiently from your genetic load.

But, then you stumble into the precise truth. We don't even allow economic Darwinism. We discipline it by Judeo-Christian morality. The logical conclusions of Social Darwinism are too repellant to be followed, just as are those of natural Darwinism.

The definition of species is constantly changing because the Darwinists have had to come to grips with the scientific reality that nothing speciates, which refutes the theory as a matter of science, and the political reality that their definitions make different ethnic group[s different species, which devastates it morally.

Posted by: oj at May 8, 2006 3:25 PM

AOG: I said, Religion is almost never used to justify extermination. In fact, off the top of my head I can't think of a single example.

One counterexample confirms my statement. Of course it matters whether the Torah is reliable. If it's not, your back down to zero counter-examples.

Papaya: Even if you were right, you'd only be proving the Darwinism is as dangerous as religion has been historically. Given the actual present day situation, Darwinism is clearly more dangerous now.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 8, 2006 6:08 PM

Mr. Cohen;

You've been hanging around OJ too much. You're now defending a quote I didn't take issue with.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at May 8, 2006 10:37 PM
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