In an abrupt conclusion to what had been a tempestuous week, Facebook made the decision to unpublish the page which had over 12,000 followers and not a few viral memes that reached more than a million readers. It’s a page that has generated some excellent content and fascinating conversation over the last few years, and has given people a place to work out some of the biggest ideas of the age.
When I was asked to come and speak to you, your Secretary made the suggestion that she thought I must be interested in the feminist movement. I replied—a little irritably, I am afraid—that I was not sure I wanted to “identify myself,” as the phrase goes, with feminism, and that the time for “feminism,” in the old-fashioned sense of the word, had gone past. In fact, I think I went so far as to say that, under present conditions, an aggressive feminism might do more harm than good. As a result I was, perhaps not unnaturally, invited to explain myself.
I do not know that it is very easy to explain, without offence or risk of misunderstanding, exactly what I do mean, but I will try. Continue reading →
When the soon-to-be-president Trump called a CNN reporter ‘fake news’ to his face, it was both entertaining and ironic. First of all, it was great theater seeing such an esteemed agency being called out in such a public forum. But, if anyone is a peddler of fake news, it is Trump.
Fake news has become something of a boogeyman man of late. Since Trump’s surprising election, politicians and pundits from both sides of the debate have pointed to fake news as a major culprit in the debacle.
But so-called fake news is not limited to news agencies broadcasting dubious partisan views—that is just the most prominent example, so everyone, including the future president, is harping on it. Looking closer, we see that fake news actually stems from a more fundamental crisis of philosophy that has swept through our culture in the last decades: The belief that truth is relative and all one needs to do to make something true is to say it. That philosophy is what fake news is all about, and the Donald might be its most reliable adherent. Continue reading →
I might be a humbug, but I don’t get the grief over celebrity deaths. Yes, death is bad and it is especially sad to think of a talented person passing. As psychologist David Kaplan suggests in Lindsay Holmes’ reflection on Prince’s death, “We may grieve celebrities because our dream was to emulate their career path or because a celebrity death can also remind us of our mortality.”
In the last few months, several celebrities have threatened to move out of the United States if the Donald became president. Notables such as Whoopi Goldberg, Jonathan Stewart, Cher, Samuel L. Jackson, and Miley Cyrus all put their feet down before the election as a way to protest the possibility of their side losing.
Former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart said he would consider “getting in a rocket and going to another planet, because clearly this planet’s gone bonkers” if the real estate mogul wins.
Of course, now that the election has passed, and the Donald has indeed been elected president, the celebrities are not so gung-ho anymore. As the Daily Mail reports, “Some dismissed what they pledged as a ‘joke’ and others simply went to ground when asked by DailyMail.com when they were packing up and heading to Canada or other countries.”
This is rather disappointing to some, who saw the purging of this group as the best reason to vote for Trump. It also brings into question the formerly rock-solid faith that fans had in the celebrities. As Miley Cyrus said, “I don’t say things I don’t mean!” What are we to believe now that she has apparently had a change of heart and now accepts Trump as the president?
This shouldn’t be a surprise. As explained in the 2010 essay, Juggernaut, I explored this kind of threat to leave and why it so rarely happens. In short, we live in a closed economy, and the threat to leave is a kind of wishful thinking that such an action would be productive. When the election is over, the realization that there is no better option sinks in, and we all end up dealing with what we’re given. Continue reading →
At first, it was entertaining to watch the talking heads try to make sense of the election results that they had been so wrong in predicting.
Then, it got scary.
As the results came in, and it became clear that Donald Trump would win the presidency, it seemed as though a light bulb flashed in their heads: Half of America is sexist and racist. Nothing else could explain this election of such a vile creature to the highest position in the land.
The musician Moby posted a meme that captured the consensus grief: “America, you are so much more racist and misogynistic than I’d ever imagined.” People wept in public at the clear evidence that America hates women, Hispanics, African Americans, Muslims, and LBGT types.
It is an understandable frustration considering the kind of rhetoric that Trump has espoused over the last year. The thought is that, since some 60 million Americans voted for a misogynistic, xenophobic bigot, some 60 million Americans must be misogynistic, xenophobic bigots. As an emotional Van Jones put it: “This was a white-lash against a changing country. It was a white-lash against a black president, in part. And that’s the part where the pain comes.”
With all of the attention focused on this election, it is easy to get caught up in a patriotic fervor.
Everyone posted ‘I Voted’ stickers and talked about how it is a duty to make your voice heard. Celebrities paraded around talking about how important it will be to have “the most qualified” candidate, Hillary, as president, and preachers talk about how important it is to have the supposedly pro-life Trump pick the next Supreme Court justices. Everyone disagrees on who should be president, but everyone agrees that voting for president is the most important thing we can do as Americans.
Taylor Swift getting her vote on.
Even the most independent citizens are pulled in. They too can sense the importance of having their candidate in the White House, or, more importantly, not having their opponent in the White House. Everyone has gotten swept up in election fever.
But is this really a good thing?
It occurs to the objective observer that this election has done a lot of things to this country and none of them are particularly good. Four stand out:
The Economic Theory of Sex: Industrialism, Feminism, and the Disintegration of the Family
We face a crisis of sexuality.
During the last few years, we have witnessed an unprecedented breakdown of traditions and mores concerning sexuality and the family. Countries across the West have suddenly and seemingly irrevocably instituted same-sex marriage; a former athlete has won awards for publicly changing gender; and no one seems to know what restroom to use any more. What used to be taboo and frowned upon has become normal and even encouraged. What used to be normal and sought after is now viewed as unnecessary and possibly harmful.
Progressives see these developments as positive advancements in the interest of freedom and human rights. Meanwhile, traditionalists are concerned that we are entering a new phase of decadence that will precipitate the demise of our culture. Nobody can deny that we have reached a major turning-point in the history of civilization.
This crisis did not appear out of nowhere. As theorist Eric Robert Morse discovers, the seeds of this upheaval were planted hundreds of years ago in the rise of Industrialism and Feminism. With painstaking research and lucid prose, Morse presents a novel theory based in the Sexual Balance of Power, which is sure to agitate the intellect of progressives and traditionalists alike.
I have watched with great interest as Feminism has made a comeback in recent years. Celebrities like Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Emma Watson have all made bold statements in favor of the movement; business leaders such as Sheryl Sandberg and writers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie have continued their support; and Hillary Clinton’s rise to the presidency has elevated the cause.
Altogether, the various initiatives and voices amount to what might be considered a Fourth Wave of Feminism.
T-Swift and Lena Dunham probably talking about girl stuff.
The thoughtful reader cannot help but to ask ‘Why?’ After a century of reforms, why is it necessary to renew the charge? What are these new feminists after anyway?
If you ask a member of this Fourth Wave, they will likely tell you they are after equality. As Miss Swift put it, “Saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities.” To most, that is what Feminism has always been about, and that’s what it is still about.
Yet the casual observer will note that women have long had equal rights and opportunity. To be sure, women have the vote in every Western country, they dominate higher education, and comprise almost half of the U.S. workforce; contraception and abortion are not only legal, they are subsidized and mandated by the federal government; and a woman is the leading candidate for president of the United States of America. By all accounts, modern Western Civilization should be a feminist utopia.
Still, modern feminists are not happy. Indeed, they are fiercer than ever and ready for war. Why? Continue reading →
Any time something huge happens in the world such as the recent Brexit referendum, with all the happy and unhappy voters, and the shocked onlookers from within and without Britain, it is good practice to turn to the old sage of San Antonio to see what he had to say about the issue, and where such astounding events stand in the course of history. If we refer to Barzun’s magnum opus, From Dawn to Decadence, we find that he not only predicted the separation of the UK from the EU, but much more besides.
Nigel Farage (front), the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) reacts with supporters, following the result of the EU referendum, outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville
As 2016 Super Tuesday results filed in, a sinking feeling could be felt across the country. Political pundits and lay voters alike realized that Donald J. Trump had a good chance of securing a majority of the states’ primaries, which meant that he could win Super Tuesday, and winning Super Tuesday could propel him toward the nomination, and if he won the nomination he could foreseeably win the presidency. That sinking feeling led to an eerie realization: The Donald could become president of the United States of America.
What had been an impossibility suddenly became real; what was for so long a joke was suddenly no laughing matter.
A chorus arose from the commentators, soft at first, but by Super Tuesday a full-blown bellow: Stop Trump! The Donald would be atrocious for American democracy, and we must do everything we can to prevent his nomination. People pulled out the stops; comparisons to Hitler were rife; Whoopi Goldberg threatened to leave America.
But, in reading over the commentary, hit pieces, and outright propaganda that arose to stop the unconventional candidate, it occurred to me that Trump really isn’t the worst thing for American democracy—the troop of anti-Trumpers and their logic are. Sure, Trump is a clown and has no business being the president of the country. But the anti-Trump haters are out-clowning him, and almost making a Trump presidency appealing because of it.
Thanks to social media, we now know that Christopher Columbus was the only person who ever mistreated anyone in the history of the world. Everywhere we read that Columbus was a cruel tyrant of a man who facilitated slavery, wanted nothing but gold, and brought about a genocide of a people. To read these narratives, it would seem that Columbus was a man capable only of evil, that no one in his day opposed his cruelty, and nothing good ever came from his efforts.
For those who aren’t quite eager to believe the revisionist fancies found across the Internet, here is some perspective on the anti-Columbus outrage from the authority on Western cultural history, Jacques Barzun:
The outcry in the United States denouncing Columbus during his 500th anniversary year takes us back to Madrid around 1540; for contrary to common opinion, the concern about exploitation of the natives dates almost from the beginning of Spanish colonization. Queen Isabella herself condemned the abuse and issued edicts against it; so did Charles V. The strongest of the protesters, Bartolome de Las Casas, had continual access to the emperor and aroused the public by his vehement writings. In “New Spain” itself, the clergy and the religious orders, Dominican and Jesuit, were active opponents of the evils of forced labor and lawless brutality. By Charles’s legislation these were crimes with definite penalties attached; enforcement was the difficulty: it depended on the character of the officials on the spot. Preaching the truth that these “Indians” were not red devils but fellow men loved by God even though they were not Christians could influence but few. The men and women who left the homeland for America were a mixed lot with mixed motives; on Columbus’s second voyage were “ten convicted murderers and two Gypsy women.”
From the 2000 masterpiece, From Dawn to Decadence, by Jacques Barzun.
The conquistadors’ impelling goals have been summarized as “Gold, Glory, and the Gospel.” At any time, neither Gold nor Glory is a respecter of persons, and Gospel occasionally sins; together they do their worst when the scene is vast and sparsely populated, when communication is slow and policing haphazard. If we think back to the western frontier of the United States down to 1890, we find not exactly anarchy but free-wheeling crime and violence that took its toll of lives and goods, and sent not a few venturers scuttling back to the relatively civil order of the Midwest.
The Spanish colonists committed atrocities from greed and racist contempt that nothing can palliate or excuse. But to blame Columbus is a piece of retrospective lynching; he was not the master criminal inspiring all the rest. It is moreover a mistake to think that because the native peoples were the sufferers, all of them were peaceable innocents. The Caribs whom Columbus first encountered had fought and displaced the Anawaks who occupied the islands. The Aztecs whom Cortez conquered had originally descended from the north and destroyed the previous civilization. To the north and east many of the tribes lived in perpetual warfare, the strong exploiting the weak, and several — notably the Iroquois — had slaves. In short, what happened on the newfound hemisphere in early modern times continued the practice of the old: in ancient Greece alien tribes marching in from the north; likewise in the making of the Roman Empire, in the peopling of the British Isles by Romans, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes, and Normans; in France, Italy, and Spain by Franks, Normans, Lombards, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and later by Arabs. Everywhere the story is one of invasion, killing, rape, and plunder and occupation of the land that belonged to the vanquished. Today, this fusion or dispersion of peoples and cultures by means of death and destruction is abhorred in principle but flourishing in fact. Africa, the Middle and Far East, and South Central Europe are still theaters of conquest and massacre. And Columbus is not the responsible party.
If there’s one thing that all leaders and pundits in the tech industry can agree on, it is that there aren’t enough women in the field.
As Derek Khanna pointed out in his seminal Atlantic article, women hold 57 percent of occupations in the workforce, but, in computing occupations, that figure is only 25 percent. The leadership picture is even more dismal. Of the many chief information officer jobs at Fortune 250 companies, women comprise only 20 percent. And it’s getting worse. In 1984, females were awarded 37.1 percent of computer science degrees; today they account for less than 12 percent.
If we were to listen to the popular tech writers of the day, politicians, and even a growing number of male tech leaders, this trend amounts to a great “tragedy”. As Khanna puts it, low numbers of women in tech is bad for women, bad for tech, and bad for society in general.
But can it be said that things are so terrible? The last time I checked, IT was the most expansive and innovative industry on the planet. Granted the numbers show that tech favors men, but can it be said that that is such a bad thing when it is clear that the industry is prospering so? Why is it a tragedy that only 12 percent of computer science degrees are awarded to women? Why do we need more women in tech anyway?
Juggernaut: Why the System Crushes the Only People Who Can Save It
By now, everyone recognizes the severity of the 2007-08 financial crisis. But, to many Americans, the bailouts, stimulus packages, and regulatory schemes aimed at solving the problem seemed to merely pull the economy further into the mire of bureaucracy, party politics, and unsustainable debt that led to the crisis in the first place. Only the bankers and officials who caused the problem were in a position to solve it, and so fixing the system necessarily meant becoming part of it—and thus making it even harder to fix. This is the crux of the Juggernaut.
A sprawling, uncontrollable system that only grows larger and more berserk the more we try to quell it, the Juggernaut has become a way of life. It is not, as many would suggest, a product of the last ten or even thirty years. Rather, it is inherent in the system itself, with roots that reach as far back as Columbus and the dawn of modern times.
In this stunning new story of political economy, author Eric Robert Morse examines why the modern system has become so unwieldy and explains what must be done to correct it. His astute analysis and fascinating storytelling take readers on an epic journey, from the dawn of Free-Market Capitalism during the Age of Exploration, through the Industrial Revolution and Adam Smith, to the rise of Keynesianism and the dominance of the Welfare State.
Drawing from all corners of political, social, and economic study, including specialism and the division of labor, competition and Game Theory, and Statism and Public Choice Theory, Morse weaves together a groundbreaking economic theory, which promises to shake up the current political discourse and usher in a new era of cooperation and prosperity.
After having read Jacques Barzun’s suma thirteen times, I have concluded that this book is not really 912 pages long as it appears in the product details, but rather 11,856 pages. Every time I read this masterpiece, I find new ideas and fresh material on every page. Seemingly, the book is an endless fount of intellect, culture, etiquette, morals, art, science, politics, and genius that serves as the capstone of the last era and the cornerstone for the next. Continue reading →
In Monaco, 1937, life is ideal. Palm trees sway, celebrities shine, and the Grand Prix thrills spectators from around the world. With war on the continental horizon, billionaire auto tycoon, Jacques Tourangeau, looks to Dash Bradford, a visiting American businessman, to help him protect the regal principality’s way of life. Hesitant to get involved, the young Bradford is drawn in irreversibly when he saves the life of Tourangeau’s beautiful daughter, Margaux. The new couple seems destined for what the press increasingly lauds as the ‘perfect romance,’ but when Tourangeau Auto begins to compete with the dominant Germans, unexpected challenges threaten the happy ideal.
In his debut novel, seasoned essayist Eric Robert Morse brings to life the warm allure of Monaco and the explosive world of golden-age auto racing through the eyes of a young dreamer striving for success against all odds. In an age of quick fixes and strained relationships, Morse offers a story of permanence and justice to show us that love, redemption, and even perfection are not only still possible but, ultimately, necessary for the good life.
Take a tour around an interactive extravaganza featuring the sights and sounds of this marvelous age at the Monaco Novel website: monaconovel.com. Learn about the characters, listen to a big band playlist, and delight in the vintage travel posters custom made for this story.
Some say the website is even better than the book!
It is assumed in our culture that latest is best. The notion probably got its start thanks to the prominence of science and technology, two fields in which progress is a fact. But the belief has taken over the American mindset to the extent that all products of our culture adhere to that standard. Continue reading →