July 7, 2008


Healthier Than Europe Is (DANIEL JOHNSON, July 7, 2008, NY Sun)

Perhaps the most striking difference between Europe and America today is that Americans are much more likely to be actively religious.

I came across a suggestive text by one of the greatest empirical students of democracy who has ever lived: Alexis de Tocqueville. Religion, he wrote, "is more needed in democratic republics than in any others. How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie is not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? And what can be done with a people who are their own masters if they are not submissive to the Deity?"

If the symbiosis of faith and democracy in America was evident, even in Tocqueville's time, how much more true it is today. But one is also struck by his sombre words about the "destruction" of society if morality is not strengthened to compensate for a more liberal political system. If anything, Europe has moved in the opposite direction.

The European Union has abandoned the Christian morality and adopted an aggressive secularism — one reason why the French and Dutch rejected the constitution in their referendums three years ago. But at the same time the European Union has become even less democratic, by centralizing its judiciary, legislature, and executive.

Tocqueville was a Catholic, whose view of human nature tended toward an Augustinian pessimism; for him, original sin was the key to the human condition. But you do not need to share his outlook to agree that there is an element of hubris in societies that acknowledge no moral authority beyond themselves.

Yeah, you do.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at July 7, 2008 8:20 PM

Typically terrifc blog item, yet no comments. Where have the commenters gone? I know I've had problems with the comment engine since I switched to IE7, so much so that I have pretty much stopped commenting -- to OJ's relief.

But why has this terrific blog become so lite on comments? Has traffic dropped off dramatically from 2004-2005? What's the deal?

Posted by: Palmcroft at July 8, 2008 8:49 AM

Dearth of trolls.

Posted by: erp at July 8, 2008 9:13 AM

Don't think so. Trolls, of course, like "racists," are often just people classified as such because they have different opinions than the blog's party-line. True trolls are obnoxious posters who don't engage in discussions or arguments and whose goal is really just to make a specific blog ineffective by burying it in noisy, offensive junk posts.

No. Something happened to this blog 18-24 months ago that drastically reduced the number of comments. I think it was mechanical. For about a year after I went to IE7, my comment posts were taking about 3 minutes to register; and 2/3 of the time, they competely failed to register. I used several workstations at work and home that were available to me, thinking I might be filtered on ip address. Finally, I gave up and stopped thinking of this site as interactive, and it became, for me, just another quick news-take pitstop in a series I make before digging into my day's work.

This was much, much more active blog 2-3 years ago.

Posted by: Palmcroft at July 8, 2008 9:31 AM

Kids and work, my friends!

Posted by: KRS at July 8, 2008 9:50 AM

It's still my favorite blog but Palmcroft is right that the comments are not what they used to be. I first discovered Brothers Judd through Instupundit (why won't he link to OJ any more?) about 5 years ago, and the comments were often long debates that taught me I was too ignorant to join in, but pointed me where I could go to learn. The blog has been a revelation. Those that left, or just don't post much anymore, AOG, Jeff Guinn, Harry Eager, Peter B, Pepys, Ali, David Cohen, Joe S., Bret and others were the ones that could really flesh out a topic from different points of view (often in opposition to OJ). I've tried the other blogs where they post (the Post-Judd Alliance of blogs), but without OJ's moderation and antagonism they just aren't the same.

Posted by: Patrick H at July 8, 2008 10:40 AM

You forgot bart. :-)

Posted by: Jorge Curioso at July 8, 2008 11:27 AM

Traffic remains about 1700 to 1800 a day (during political seasons anyway, with less on weekends).

Comments take a while to post because we run automatic junk filters on them. A couple years ago the volume of junk that malicious sites could post really became a problem and it was consuming too much time to do it manually. But if you ever visit sites that don't use filters you'll see tons of porno links, especially in older posts.

There's a very small handful of people permanently banned--for repeated racist comments about immigration and Islam in particular (Joe & Tom C); for using profanity towards other commenters (Bart); and/or for accusing us of wanting another Holocaust any time the national aspirations of non-Jewish Middle Easterners are mentioned (A). Harry quit when I wouldn't let him call Dietrich Bonhoeffer a Nazi. Jeff got mad because he'd refer to his gay brother and his schizophrenic one and his own atheism as proof that nurture had no effect on psychological identity, whereas I suggested he was demonstrating the opposite.

Occasionally they log in from new IP addresses and we let them go until they repeat the offense--which they always do, being mentally unbalanced. If they control themselves reasonably well we just delete a comment or two along the way (h-man).

Many people just quit commenting once they lose an argument--John McCain can't win the nomination, Euthyphro's Dilemma (Brit), Darwinism, Eric Roberts isn't Julia in drag, etc.--it has to be tiring to be so wrong for so long so adamantly. It's much more comforting for people to cluster in a group where their own views will be echoed constantly.

I believe David and Peter just wished to have more control over the content of sites with which they're names were associated, but I'm not sure. I don't know where Pepys went--he just stopped commenting and posting one day.

I'd not be surprised to learn that I'd done something to aggravate anyone who's moved on. One thing I did that I do regret is edited comments of a few annoying people just to piss them off. That's not really fair--I should have just deleted them and do so now.

Links from blogs are a function of linking to blogs. We don't read blogs, nevermind link to them, with the exception of a couple longtime friends of Brothers Judd--Ed Driscoll & Kevin Whited, for instance.

Posted by: oj at July 8, 2008 1:00 PM


No I didn't. :-)

I kid. I know he posts on other blogs and I always thought that his opinions helped keep things moving. It was the back and forth between the different opinions that gave the blog a little more spice.

There are still many outstanding posters here, but I miss the threads with 30 or more comments attached that would require me to really think about an issue or send me scurrying off to learn more about the topic.

Posted by: Patrick H at July 8, 2008 1:03 PM


Agree with you. OJ puts up the most interesting things, and it's rare these days to actually go somewhere on the Net and be able to say, "Wow, I really learned something." However, I do miss the comments. Of course, I prefer to read over commenting, so perhaps I'm part of the problem

Posted by: Dreadnought at July 8, 2008 1:13 PM

Patrick: Wow, I hadn't thought about some of those older posters for a while now (although I only vaguely remember Bart, Bret, or Joe S.). They really did help you learn about not only the topic being discussed, but also how it affected other events worldwide. The collective talents and knowledge of the group makes it my favorite site to visit each day.

I found the site while looking for a book review on anti-intellectualism while in grad school. As I read the comments I realized how clueless I was about a lot of things.

Posted by: Bartman at July 9, 2008 8:58 AM
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