Here is another case of scientists telling us what we already know, namely, that human beings, like other animals, are capable of both competition and cooperation. May I help? No two individuals have identical interests. Divergent interests make competition (and conflict) inevitable. Convergent interests make cooperation possible. Politics is the art of managing these forces for the good of the community.
We have finally to examine a fundamental superstition relating to the seat of domestic authority. In so far as the feudal principle, or the theocratic principle, or the autocratic principle, or the plutocratic principle, survives here and there, owing to the conservatism of the home, the father does manage to retain some semblance of authority. But patriarchy is on its last legs. There is little to it now but outward form and old court ritual. The father still gives his name to the family, sits at the head of the table, and—oh, yes, pays the bills! But there is more service than authority in the second and third of these prerogatives, since someone has to carve, and it is the making rather than the paying of bills that really counts. Of course, he can still tyrannize over the family by making himself so disagreeable that he has to be bought off; but in a family anybody can do that. It is not a power that attaches to the male parent as such. As father, he is still the titular monarch, and that is about all. If he were formally to abdicate, it would not alter the actual balance of domestic forces in the least.
Meanwhile, it is to be feared that he to some extent exploits the pathos of his fallen greatness, and wrings from the feelings of his wife, children, or sister-in-law various minor concessions affecting his comfort. Nothing can exceed the scrupulousness with which appearances are preserved in public. He still takes the curb when the family uses the sidewalk, and is the last to enter and the first to leave a public or private conveyance. But to one who knows life as it is, the irony and bathos of the modern age are summed up in two spectacles: Kaiser Wilhelm chopping wood at Amerongen, and the paterfamilias washing dishes in the pantry.
If the father has fallen from authority, who has superseded him? The mother? Not at all. The popular impression to that effect has no basis except the fact that the power of the mother has increased relatively to that of the father. But this is due to the fall of the father rather than to any notable rise of the mother. No, the new domestic polity is neither the patriarchy nor the matriarchy, but the pediarchy.
That the children should encroach upon, and eventually seize, the authority of the parents is not so strange as might at first appear. After all, it is only the domestic manifestation of the most characteristic social and political movement of modern times, the rise, namely, of the proletarian masses. Within the family the children constitute the majority, the unpropertied, the unskilled, and the unprivileged. They are intensely class-conscious, and have come to a clearer and clearer recognition of the conflict of interest that divides them from the owners and managers. Their methods have been similar to those employed in the industrial revolution—the strike, passive resistance, malingering, restriction of output, and, occasionally, direct action.
Within the family, as in the modern democracy, the control is by public opinion. It is government of the children, by the children, and for the children. But this juvenile sovereignty is exercised indirectly rather than directly. The officeholders are adults, whose power is proportional to their juvenile support. The real (though largely unseen and unacknowledged) principle of domestic politics is the struggle for prestige among the adults. Some employ the methods of decadent Rome, the panem et circenses; others, the arts of the military hero or of the popular orator. But all acknowledge the need of conciliating the juvenile masses.
The power of juvenile opinion is due, not merely to its mass, and to the boldness and unscrupulousness with which it is asserted, but to its reinforcement from outside. It is more than a domestic movement: it is an interdomestic movement. The opinion of the children is thus less provincial than that of domestic adults. It has, furthermore, a force which it derives from its more intimate contact with the main currents of history. The domestic adult is in a sort of backwash. He is looking toward the past, while the children are thinking the thoughts and speaking the language of tomorrow. They are in closer touch with reality, and cannot fail, however indulgent, to feel that their parents and resident aunt are antiquated. The children's end of the family is its budding, forward-looking end; the adults' end is, at best, its root. There is a profound law of life by which buds and roots grow in opposite directions.
The domestic conflict is in many of its notable features parallel to the industrial conflict; and they may be of common origin. It is natural that similar remedies should be proposed. The Taylor system and other efficiency systems have already broken down in both cases. Conservatives will propose to meet the domestic problem by higher allowances and shorter school hours, with perhaps time and a half for overtime and a bit of profit sharing. Liberals will propose boards of conciliation with child representation, attempts to link study and chores with the "creative" impulses, and experiments in divided management. Radicals and domestic revolutionists will regard all such halfway measures as utterly ineffectual, because they preserve the parental system in its essentials. They will aim to consummate the revolution as soon as possible by violence, and then to bring a new order into being through a dictatorship of a sectarian minority.
This new order would be an almost exact inversion of the parental order. Whereas, under the present system, the parents are supposed to control the home for the benefit of the children, providing them with the necessities of life, and giving them work and advice for their own good, under the new system, the children would control the home for the benefit of the parents and other adults, assuming full responsibility for their living, and employing their expert services only as might be required. However difficult it may be to put such a change into effect, there is, from the adults' point of view, much to be said for it.
(Ralph Barton Perry, "Domestic Superstitions," in Atlantic Essays, ed. Samuel N. Bogorad and Cary B. Graham [Boston: D. C. Heath and Company, 1958], 239-48, at 246-8 [italics in original; editorial footnotes omitted] [essay first published in 1921])
The reality that unemployment is growing these days at a faster pace for men than women confirms that we are now living in a world defined by knowledge work and no longer by manual labor. In the knowledge society and economy, there is no "men's work" and "women's work" because the requirements and tasks of today are gender-neutral.
What we are now seeing is what Peter Drucker perceived decades ago when he coined the term "knowledge work" and wrote that the disappearance of sex roles in the workplace would profoundly affect our way of life.
This may seem simple and obvious to a good many people today. But does any of it occur to those who lobby for or against government stimulus proposals that prop up short-term salves and serve yesterday?
Don't be surprised if it transpires that Tiger Woods was assaulted and battered by his wife. Why? Because women commit more domestic violence than men. See here. Key paragraph:
Regarding perpetration of violence, more women than men (25 percent versus 11 percent) were responsible. In fact, 71 percent of the instigators in nonreciprocal partner violence were women. This finding surprised Whitaker and his colleagues, they admitted in their study report.
For feminists, who perpetuate the belief that men are bullies, these are inconvenient truths.
I feel sorry for the Packers, Vikings, and Bears. Yes, I'm a Lions fan. I have to be; I was born in Michigan. Matthew Stafford, who hails from the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex (by way of the University of Georgia), is going to lead the Lions to the promised land. I'm thinking 2012, but it could be as early as 2011. By the way, this is as good a place as any to tell the world that my colleague Lewis was right about Stafford being a high draft pick and an NFL quarterback. I was wrong.
Here is a recent post by Peg Kaplan, who is playing bridge in San Diego. Here is a recent post by Bill Vallicella. Here is a recent post by Ed Feser. Here is a recent post by Steve Burri. Here is the latest batch of posts by John Ray. You're welcome.
My friend and former student Carlos is a die-hard fan of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, who used to dominate college football. While Carlos loves his team, he is far from insufferable, like fans of the Boston Rat Sox. (Steve Walsh, who comments frequently on this blog, is an exception.) Husker fans are among the most loyal and civil in all of college football. How can you root against such people? I'm delighted for Carlos—who will be attending the Big 12 Championship game Saturday in Arlington—and will do my best to root his (our?) team to victory over the hated Texas Longhorns. Sorry, Randy!
Addendum: Carlos happens to be a fan of the Boston Rat Sox. When we went to a Texas Rangers game against the Rat Sox a couple of years ago, Carlos wore a Rat Sox hat and bought a Rat Sox jersey. This shows that everyone is insane just a little.
Among the intuitions that shape ideology and make ideological differences impossible to bridge by reasoned argument are metaphysical presuppositions, such as free will versus determinism, natural equality versus natural inequality, man as ensouled versus man as big-brained monkey, and original sin versus the original goodness of Rousseau's "noble savage." These presuppositions influence a person's evaluation of severe punishments, welfare programs, high taxes, national security, and paternalistic government. For such an evaluation is likely to depend on whether one thinks a crime a willed evil or an accident of the genes or of upbringing, whether one thinks poverty a deserved state of irresponsible people or a failure of society, whether one thinks altruism a trustworthy motivator of public officials or a false pretense. Metaphysical disputes cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the disputants, and this is a clue to the existence of unbridgeable disagreements at the core of American law.
(Richard A. Posner, How Judges Think [Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2008], 98)
Here's what bothers me the most about the global-warming scandal: Scientists have politicized their field, and thereby harmed it. The purpose of science is to describe the world. It is not to evaluate the world. If you want to evaluate things, you should not go into science. Go into law, religion, moralizing, or politics. I understand that scientists are also citizens, but these are distinct roles. As scientists, individuals are supposed to be value-free. "Just the facts, ma'am." As citizens, they are entitled to express their values (whatever they may be) and try to get them embodied in law. Scientists are revered, to the extent that they are, precisely because they are "out of the fray." They are disinterested (as opposed to interested) and detached (as opposed to engaged). Their aim is not to make policy but to make sure that policy is informed.
The scientists involved in the global-warming scandal have confused their roles. They have put their political values ahead of their scientific work. They have adopted an us-against-them mentality. They want so desperately to influence public policy that they have distorted and hidden data, played fast and loose with statistical methods, and made personal attacks on those of their fellow scientists who are not "on board" politically (or who are suspected of not being "on board"). To their discredit, they have acted like gang members or thugs rather than as disinterested pursuers and purveyors of truth.
It's sad, disgraceful, and, because of what is at stake (the integrity of science), distressing. It shows that many scientists are ideologues first and scientists second. They view science as a means to the end of changing the world. They care less about getting things right than about setting things right. Perhaps worst of all, they view science as a form of battle rather than as a collaborative, respectful activity that is designed to elicit the truth. I'm sorry to say that many philosophers are in the same boat: ideologues first and philosophers second. I find it increasingly difficult to read philosophical literature. Issue after issue of the periodicals to which I subscribe contains intemperate and unprofessional attacks on the Bush administration, for example, or on conservatives. Instead of trying to clarify the moral issues involved in torture, terrorism, or war, jabs are taken. A whole generation of philosophers has come of age thinking that philosophy is war by other means. They view their discipline as fighting the good fight, which, invariably, means the advancement of progressivism.
I can't stomach it. As I age, I'm drawn more and more to the philosophy published before 1970. Philosophers then were serious, adult, balanced, charitable, and committed to discovering the truth. They were respectful of those with whom they disagreed. They viewed their discipline as nonideological. It wasn't about changing the world to conform to some political vision; it was about clarifying concepts, identifying fallacies, resolving paradoxes, and reconciling disparate realms, such as science and religion. I hope one day that philosophers come to their senses. They are not lawyers; they are not preachers; they are not moralizers; they are not politicians; they are not scientists. Their analytical and critical skills are practically useful, but not in the way many philosophers today imagine them to be. The skills are designed to shed light, not generate heat.
Sad as it is to say (because I love science), science is going to suffer mightily as a result of this scandal. Mark my words. In the long run, it may be for the best that this occurs. People's reverence for scientists, which has been extraordinarily high, will decrease. Blind trust in what scientists say will end. Scientists will have to earn back the public's respect and trust by staying clear of politics and by making their work transparent to all. In short, scientists will have to learn, or relearn, how to be scientists.
Blame the Doritos! Unbelievable. Why is it so hard for people to understand that body weight is a function of three things: (1) metabolism, (2) caloric intake, and (3) caloric expenditure? There's little a person can do about his or her metabolism, which slows with age. The two things that can be controlled are caloric intake and caloric expenditure. If you take in more than you expend (via exercise), you gain weight. It's a law of nature, folks! You can't fight it! To lose weight, you must take in fewer calories than you expend. To stay at the same weight, you must take in exactly what you expend: no more and no less. Is there a connection between people's inability to live within their budgets and their inability to regulate their diets? Perhaps there has been a decrease in self-control during the past few decades, but why would that be? Oh, wait; it's the Doritos!
Regarding the Nov. 12 letter from Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley ("U.S. Defends Freedom of Expression") defending the sponsorship by the U.S., together with Egypt, of a resolution in the U.N. Human Rights Council denouncing any "negative religious stereotyping" that constitutes "incitement to discrimination":
Mr. Crowley's letter ignores the dangers to free expression inherent in any such resolution. It is perfectly true, as Mr. Crowley observes, that the U.S. continues to oppose any resolution (and the U.N. has already adopted many of them) seeking to impose direct legal sanctions against what has been referred to as "defamation of religion." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has spoken out unequivocally against such efforts and the Obama administration has already cast the first of what is likely to be many votes against such efforts.
The problem is that the resolution the U.S. supported can too easily be used to justify the very attempts at speech suppression that we otherwise opposed. The resolution is studiously ambiguous, a trait that sometimes serves the international community but disserves all in the area of free speech. Everything about the resolution is hazy. We cannot know what negative "religious stereotyping" will be construed as meaning. Would it include, as Stuart Taylor has asked, statements that "the world's most dangerous terrorists are Islamists?" Will it be read to include much of the recent discussions in the press about the religious fanaticism of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan? Nor can we know what "incitement to discrimination" will be understood to mean or whether either of the two examples I have just cited would or could be read to meet that standard.
What we do know is that the many nations in the world that still treat blasphemy as a crime, mostly states that treat Islam as a state religion, will hardly shy away from treating banned books such as Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses" as the most threatening of incitements.
Most threatening of all, what will the language be treated as meaning that "urges States to take effective measures, consistent with their obligations under international human-rights law, to address and combat" negative religious sterotyping and advocacy of "religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination"? Whatever international human-rights law may be understood to require (and the recent Goldstone Report provides little comfort in that respect), it certainly is not the same or even close to the far more permissive and protective First Amendment.
So the question is this: Has the U.S. government really signed on to a resolution that may plausibly be read to urge or even to seek to require our own nation to substitute international norms that permit the suppression of speech for our own?
Note from KBJ: In this country, with its tradition of individual liberty and its special commitment to freedom of expression (as codified in the First Amendment), there should be a legal right to say anything one pleases about any religion, however obnoxious it may be. It is shocking that our government is even discussing these United Nations resolutions. But suppose, for the sake of argument, that there are legal restrictions on what may be said in disparagement of religion. They must apply to Christianity and Judaism as well as to Islam. Militant atheists such as Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett love attacking Christianity and Judaism. They must be punished for doing so if anyone is punished for attacking Islam. One standard, not two. Perhaps if atheists and progressives fear punishment for disparaging Christianity or Judaism, they will stand up against these United Nations resolutions instead of coddling Muslims.
Note 2 from KBJ: Sometimes I think that in the ideal progressive world, it would be permissible to disparage Christianity and Judaism but not to disparage Islam. It makes no sense, but then, when has progressivism ever made sense? It is an album of confusions, inconsistencies, and idiocies.
I have some questions for you. Don't do any research; just give me your sense. Let's focus on the class of married couples. In what percentage of married couples (or rather, married couples in which both spouses vote) do the spouses vote for candidates of different parties (Republican and Democrat; forget about third parties)? Next question: In those marriages in which the spouses vote for candidates of different parties, what is the percentage in which the husband votes Republican and the wife Democrat (as opposed to the husband Democrat and the wife Republican)? I ask these questions because I recently became aware of two interesting websites: Women for Obama and Men for Palin. Final question(s): How much of women's support for Barack Obama comes down to sexual attraction? How much of men's support for Sarah Palin comes down to sexual attraction? Is it about equal?