Winning And Losing: The West Against Itself

“God is on the side of the larger battalions” is credited to Napoleon. Well, he knew about winning and losing wars. His only problem: the final sequence of these occurrences. His stature makes it risky to argue with him. Nevertheless, reservations emerge. Not because his demise was due to the size of his shrinking divisions. Attribute that to sea power and his politics of war and peace that conspired to secure him a one-way ticket on the British Belorophon to a safe island. 

Victory and defeat are not singularly determined by physical means. Having been in 1956 on the losing side of the only war the Soviet Union has fought against another “Socialist State”, the author is well aware of the factor of size and equipment. However, even regarding that unequal conflict, the political factor, has been decisive. An excursion into “history” helps to put some aspects of the present into focus. 

Shame. On All Of Us.

Duly Noted

The record of the last century has been assembled with mosaic pieces of horror. This explains inquiries directed at those that, as conscious contemporaries, have witnessed these wrongs. The past’s adults are faced with a question: “What were you doing? How could you allow such misdeeds to happen?” The answer tends to be “we knew nothing and cold do nothing”. 

Whatever the merits of the defense might be, in our day the question, -and the original answer- is again emerging. The compromising case of being an inactive observer posing as an accidental bystander reoccurs. Our welfare, pseudo-safety and the convenient claims of exceptionalism reappear. Soothingly, the excusing pretensions we love, suggest that there is no problem and that all analogies are irrelevant, while the discerned parallels are not applicable. Well, it is not necessarily so. Also, the denial prompted by the wish to self-sedate releases unexpected forces. These will ultimately haunt those that “failed to notice” what did not fit their preconceptions and went contrary to the desire of the uncommitted to be left alone.

Warren Farrell On Why Men Earn More

Why men earn more

Warren Farrell first became suspicious about any links between income disparities between men and women, and discrimination, when it occurred to him that if you could pay women twenty percent less for doing the same job as men, then any company would be irrational to hire men. In a free market, having twenty percent lower labor costs would provide a significant competitive advantage. Since Warren Farrell can’t be the only person to have thought of this, he reasoned that there must be something misleading about pay disparity claims.

What he found was that the statistics frequently cited are not comparing men and women doing the same jobs with the same work experience and length of time at the job. Also, categories like ‘doctor’ include a range of specialties such as psychiatrists and surgeons. Men gravitate towards the higher earning specialties within occupations.

What happens is that men and women tend to make different career choices due to selective pressure from women. Most American women’s preference is to marry a man who earns more than them. This is for the straightforward reason that most American women who plan to marry and have children would prefer to work part-time or not at all in order to devote more time to their children when the children are young. Thus, if a man wishes to be loved by a woman and to be thought of as a desirable mate, he must concentrate on earning as much as possible in order to be seen as an attractive breadwinner. This means that women effectively pressure men to maximize their earning potential. In what seems to be pandering, both Republican and Democrat politicians comment on the wage gap, presumably to garner votes from women who make up the majority of voters.

From the Blog of the Last Survivor

The fictitious diary of a well-meaning chap.

Humor bridges the gap between reality and tragedy. In doing so, it demonstrates our ability to be amused, no matter what. This pseudo-journal is translated from Hungarian. Some inferences had to be sacrificed because of the uniqueness of the national component of humor. The piece is presented because; good irony has a point to be communicated. Alas, the original source of the text cannot be traced.

2008 04 10:  Today I had an interesting experience. A Muslim couple has settled in our town. The refugee family has eighteen members. They are kind and modest and they walk the streets in a file that reminds of ducks waddling on the way to the pond.

2012 01 01: Happy New Year!  These Arabs are amusing folks. There are now six families in town. They always smile. Only once, has there been trouble. They had “Wienerschnitzels”, using breaded veal, at the restaurant. Afterwards it came out, that again; the cheating cook used not veal but pork to prepare it. I have seldom seen so much barfing!

2015 03 15:  The house next door has been sold. The head of the family is called Ahmed. A strange guy! He has pulled a sack over his three wives. They may toddle that way on our streets. I do wonder what might be hidden under those sacks. Another sack? Who can tell? However, they are full of money even if they do not work. There must be a remote supporter. They also use their fortune to champion new immigrants. I respect that solidarity.

Secession, Autonomy And The State System.

Duly Noted

International conflict prevention begins internally.

Even aloof Americans and West- Europeans are affected by “foreign affairs”. The lacking concern’s cause is supported the impression that all troubles happen “abroad”. It is the good fortune of the American continent, and largely of Europe’s west, that it avoided numerous destructive territorial-ethnic disputes.

Borders played a role among the violent forces that had shaped the 20th century. Several components have contributed. One is the case of peoples that, devoid of historic independence, lack/ed their own state. Furthermore, boundaries ignore ethnicity:  such borders separate what is apt to want to belong together. The world wars had led to the redrawing of boundaries and to the creation and to the abolition of states. The problems of unfair and inappropriate borders remain. We are mired in the morass of arbitrary borders and the states they define that created populations that perceive of them as “prisons”.

The Enemy? He Is Us

Duly Noted

Sly totalitarian challengers exploit our liberties that they abhor.

It is a natural inclination to endeavor to assess threats, whether immediate or only discernible to those with a vision. Such calculations are made in terms of the foe’s inclinations, and physical means. These estimates like to concentrate on the physical instruments of might. This can be, as the tabulations of weapons and divisions demonstrate, misleading. Power’s dimensions transcend that of arms. Even Stalin fell into the pit when he asked about the Vatican, “How many divisions does his Holiness have?” Later, Woytila demonstrated the fundamental error of the question.

We keep track of physical weapons. In doing so, we overlook the foe’s objectives even when he states them clearly. An accessory of peril comes from the realm of our own psychology. It explains France’s 1940 collapse and America’s defeat in Viet Nam. Like other reverses, these endings are cast on the “home front”.

Owen Barfield’s Critical Semantics: Diagnosing Modernity in History in English Words

History in English Words

Owen Barfield’s wonderful study of History in English Words (1926; revised 1953) is more than a compilation of vocabulary items from the English lexicon since 500 AD along with their etymologies: It is a study in changes of meaning across millennia although Barfield (1898 - 1997) confines the chronological compass of the last three chapters to the same number of centuries, more or less. In addition to being more than a mere compilation, History in English words is also a critical diagnosis of the peculiarly modern mentality, which the author sees as the outcome of a centuries-long process that he calls internalization. Barfield disdains to report neutrally on that outcome, but on the contrary he chastises it for its reliance on de-vitalized abstractions instead of living conceptions, for its cultural parochialism, and for its radical spiritual impoverishment climaxing in the callousness and brutality of the aggravatedly hellish Twentieth Century. Barfield even uses a modern coinage, alienation, generally associated with Karl Marx, to describe the defects, amounting possibly to an actual affliction, of the modern mentality. History in English Words is a book of criticism. The book takes as the object of its critique the debased language of modernity, which, to Barfield, indicates a debased outlook, a deficient grasp of the world on the one hand and of human nature on the other.

Countries, Borders, Peoples

Duly Noted

Man is a territorial animal. A consequence is mass murder that proves that pacifism, meant as an antidote of aggression, facilitates bloodshed. If land is involved, leaders and peoples tend to lose their rationality and their moral compass of decency.

Most conflicts are about claims to real estate. Current events prove that the past continues as the present. China’s pretensions, backed by 10% of logic and 90 % of might, claiming the islets of others, receive scant attention. Even so, it signals conquest once her means match her appetite. For a starter, Russia took the Crimea, and she is devouring the Ukraine. The unpleasant message: States with Russian ethnics are, regardless of their wishes, the desert Putin’s plate. Thus, the present’s crisis is not a “final”; it is a beginning.

The Feminizing Of Culture, And Male Self-Hatred

Warren Farrell
Warren Farrell

Warren Farrell rose to fame as the author of a feminist book called The Liberated Man.  He went on to give talks to sold-out crowds of mostly women and routinely got standing ovations. According to Farrell, such responses began to trouble him. He suspected that he was unintentionally pandering. So, he started including the male perspective on some gender issues. His audience fell away. Whereas famous American talk show host Phil Donahue had picked him up from the airport in person, Farrell was now persona non grata. Feminists called radio and TV stations to say that if Farrell was interviewed, they would boycott those outlets.

Betty Friedan
Betty Friedan

The story that Farrell tells about the recent history of gender relations begins with Betty Friedan in the 1960s. Friedan was enthusiastic about women entering the work force. However, she had some major caveats about how women ought to go about doing this. Friedan figured that if women wanted access to jobs traditionally done by men, they ought to emphasize that many women are capable of exhibiting characteristics more traditionally associated with men and with doing jobs well. These would include such things as being strong, capable, competent, self-reliant and so on. Friedan was emphatic, according to Farrell, that under no circumstances should women claim to be victims. Victimhood implies weakness, subjugation, inability to look after oneself, and the need to be saved and protected. None of that seemed compatible with being chosen for employment, especially in more traditionally male occupations, nor with the likelihood of gaining respect for a job well done.

A Shock to the Heart and a Sad Message for the Brain

Duly Noted

At the outset, be reminded that what happens elsewhere might be the present of others. However, the event also threatens to become your future. 

Let us cut back in time. In the early seventies, when new in Europe, to illustrate an aspect of the Greek city-state, I used to exploit the case of Kitty Genovese. She has been massacred in a residential area of New York. There were many “hear witnesses” for her slaughter took about half an hour. No one came to help as nobody wished to be involved. At the time, the kid’s –and the writer’s-  conclusion was that “this could not happen here”. The passage of time has brought many changes. One of them is that “it is happening here.” Telling about it elevates the matter to a higher level.

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