Agriculture

It is a mistake to tar our entire modern agriculture and food distribution system with the worst behavior of its meanest participants.

The proper response to the excesses of industrial agriculture is not to destroy it in favor of small scale farms and locovore culture, but to punish the miscreants, remove perverse incentives, and generally to redress the problems in the system.

Fix big ag. With a hammer. And the threat of an alternative.

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Finding a Happier Place

We are species built on tribe; yet we live increasingly alone in societies so vast and populous our ancestors would not recognize them; we are a species designed for scarcity and now live with unimaginable plenty; we are a species built on religious ritual to appease our existential angst, and yet we now live in a world where every individual has to create her own meaning from scratch; we are a species built for small-scale monocultural community and now live increasingly in multiracial, multicultural megacities.

Andrew Sullivan: The World Is Better Than Ever. Why Are We Miserable?

Sullivan’s point makes intuitive sense to me, but acknowledging that my prejudices may be motivating my agreement, I want to dive deeper.

Modern enlightened thinking suggests that blaming human nature for our alienation or other ills is bogus, not least because doing so denies our own agency in our own actions. I cannot completely disagree with that: a core tenet of my ethos is that part of our mission on earth is to elevate ourselves beyond our base nature and mere instinct, to act in ways that are subjectively right and good even when those actions are at odds with our own best interests.

At the same time, we would do well to recognize that in wishing to be angels we cannot shed our sheaths of clay. We should never excuse our choices or surrender our wills to our human nature, but neither should we ignore or paper over those aspects of our hard-wiring that vie against our virtues.

You do not defeat an enemy by wishing him away: you do so by recognizing his nature and either defeating him or coming to an acceptable accommodation. To Sullivan’s point, the satisfaction of our material needs and wants has failed to elevate us as a society or as a species. The nearer we get to the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the deeper our disaffection.

And so, Sullivan suggests, we need to ask whether part of our problem is that we are forcing ourselves to adjust to an existence for which we are, at a deep sub-conscious level, utterly ill-equipped,  whether therein lies a partial cause for social ills, and whether we can change this or whether we need to search for a mode of living that accommodates – but does not surrender to – our nature.

Anderson Cooper says Infidelity is not the Point

CNN’s Anderson Cooper says the fallout around allegations leveled against President Donald Trump by porn actress Stormy Daniels is not about the infidelity, but paying to hush it up just before the 2016 US election.

Source: Anderson Cooper: It’s not about the infidelity

Anderson Cooper is not entirely correct. The issue of whether Mr. Trump committed adultery – and did so for the worst of reasons – may be irrelevant to Mr. Cooper under his code of values and beliefs. This does not mean that the issue is irrelevant to all Americans, for at least two important reasons.

First, many voters care whether or not the President of the United States has sufficient personal integrity to adhere to his wedding vows. To some of us, a man who would casually flaunt a vow he took before G-d and the law cannot be trusted with the future of the nation.

Second, and more important, Mr. Trump has been elected into office by a party and by voters who espouse socially conservative values. As the nominal head of that party – a party which took Bill Clinton to task for his infidelity two decades ago – it should not be unreasonable to expect himself to behave in accordance with those beliefs in his personal life. If he cannot, he can hardly call himself a social conservative.

A genuine conservative should be troubled by the President’s behavior.

The National Story

To overcome populism, the U.S. needs to recover its national story, providing a compelling counter to the zero-sum narrative of tribal conflict put forward by the populist right.

Source: Bruce Springsteen Is Antidote to Populist Tribalism – Bloomberg

Agreed. Traditionalism FTW.

To be an anti-populist does not mean to be dedicated to the disenfranchisement of the politically neglected. On the contrary: populist politicians, demagogues that they tend to be, tend to mistreat their own constituencies, using the downtrodden as political ladders only to pursue their own ambitions, discarding the populace later like so much used Kleenex, or using them as cannon fodder in their political battles and military engagements.

A genuine anti-populist movement would pursue policies designed to eliminate the American political underclass, not by rallying them against everyone else, but by tweaking the system so that they can return to the fold.

The way we do that is to remember those things that made us a nation in the first place, articulate them, and then make them relevant and tangible. It is time to give Americans a stake in America again, and that process starts with a rededication in both word and deed to our national narrative, not by a headfirst plunge into the cesspool of national chauvinism.

The Koch Machine Readies its Lifeboats

Whatever the reason, for many Americans, the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has turned out to be no choice at all. A few of us harbored hopes that he at least might confront the Blob and begin to reorient U.S. foreign policy. But that was not to be.

Source: Trump Surrenders to the Foreign Policy Blob | The American Conservative by Doug Bandow

The schadenfreude I feel when watching Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute lose his lunch over Trump’s apparent leap into the neoconservative foreign policy pool is tempered by sympathy to his point, a matter I will turn to Tuesday.

For now, it is worth noting that the Koch machine and the libertarian right has lost what it thought would be a champion of a new foreign policy. I can only assume that these forces have begun to search for a replacement candidate and that we will not have to wait long into 2019 to hear from him (or her.)

 

The Red Line on White Power

Photo from WIkipedia. Using a CC Attribution license.

True conservatives want no truck with white supremacists.

White supremacy – indeed, ethnic chauvinism of any ilk – is reactionary in both nature and origin.

To be a white supremacist is to be a reactionary, not only opposed to progress but desirous that the march of progress be reversed.

For the record, this author and this blog want no truck with reactionaries, and that includes the hate-spewing rabble who continue to treasure a vision of an America dominated by any faith, gender, or ethnic group.