Fellowship of Punditry

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The Fellowship is accepting new members. Inquire within.

The Sages

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  • Into the Blogosphere
  • George Orwell

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    Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

    In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

    If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.

    But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

    Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.

    Whatever is funny is subversive, every joke is ultimately a custard pie... a dirty joke is a sort of mental rebellion.

    In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.

    All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.

    At fifty everyone has the face he deserves.

    Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.

    John Stuart Mill

    Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.

    The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.

    The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.

    Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.

    A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

    Mark Twain

    Don't let schooling interfere with your education.

    All generalizations are false, including this one.

    A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.

    Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.

    Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

    The Public is merely a multiplied "me."

    Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we."

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

    Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.

    Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

    Winston Churchill

    The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

    I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.

    Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.

    Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.

    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.

    However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

    In war as in life, it is often necessary when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might.

    Otto Von Bismarck

    When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.

    I have seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring.

    Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.

    Be polite; write diplomatically ;even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness.

    Voltaire

    A witty saying proves nothing.

    If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.

    When he to whom one speaks does not understand, and he who speaks himself does not understand, that is metaphysics.

    I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.

    To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.

    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

    It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.

    The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.

    Karl Marx

    Philosophy stands in the same relation to the study of the actual world as masturbation to sexual love.

    All I know is I'm not a Marxist.

    The writer may very well serve a movement of history as its mouthpiece, but he cannot of course create it.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2004

    Abe Lincoln was a Republican

    By Unknown


    I learned a new thing today. I learned about the most successful Third Political Party in the USA ever—except, of course, for Lincoln's Republican Party (arguably, the Party of Lincoln no longer exists, just the name does): the Know-Nothings. It was a party established to champion the rights and values of White Protestant [male] voters who were feeling threatened in the face of immigrants who might overturn their comfortable applecart. Sound familiar?


    Ok, and I learned a new thing yesterday: the word fideism. Dictionary.com's definition is tame enough, at first blush: "Reliance on faith alone rather than scientific reasoning or philosophy in questions of religion". Neat, tidy, and most importantly, well-applied to religion. Good so far.


    You'll see around the web all this claptrap about the so-called Party of Lincoln. Back then it was about bringing freedom to those who didn't have it. It was about course-correcting the country in favor of the spirit of the United States Constitution so that later this revised, more splendid spirit could be codified into the letters of the document itself. The Republicans of that day were responsible for the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, which abolish slavery, guarantee civil rights and also suffrage, respectively. Nice job, guys.


    And especially nice job, Mr. Lincoln. Which brings me back to the Know-Nothings. Of them, he wrote:


    Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that 'all men are created equal.' We now practically read it 'all men are created equal, except Negroes.' When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read 'all men are created equal, except Negroes and foreigners and Catholics.' When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.


    This was written before the Civil War, mind you. This was President Lincoln's worldview—regardless of the law. There's an irony here, in that a certain Martin Luther said the exact same thing, only far more tersely: "Sin Bravely."


    For you literalist, right-wing moonbats out there, of course the father of Protestantism wasn't advocating sinning. At the least, he was cautioning against claiming self-righteousness. At best, I like to think he was insisting that one not compound a sin by also refusing to take responsibility for the sin in the first place.


    The Know-Nothings were not brave in their sinning. They hid behind a curtain of public fear; they undermined good will and individual security just to accomplish their fevered, self-involved goals.


    Today's version of the Know-Nothings are, sadly, the Republicans. This is what has become of the Party of Lincoln.


    The general populace who support the Republicans these days not only volunteer victimhood to the Republicans in power, they have become their footsoldiers. Look at the arguments those people have made for choosing ineptitude for four more years: "moral values", "I just know he's a good guy" and "he's one of us". All considerations that have nothing to do with, well, consideration. Or with thinking or with reasoning or even with philosophy. They are today's fideists.


    They argue that their faith alone is valid to any argument. They don't argue, come to think of it, they merely state. And there is no disagreement, because there is nothing to agree with. You are simply wrong and they're right because Jesus told them so. Jesus also apparently has told President Bush he's doing good work. Hard work.


    I cannot underestimate the damage that fideism can do, once its taken root in bureaucratic bodies. Even the Catholics understood this, still understand this:


    Fideism owes its origin to distrust in human reason, and the logical sequence of such an attitude is scepticism. It is to escape from this conclusion that some philosophers, accepting as a principle the impotency of reason, have emphasized the need of belief on the part of human nature, either asserting the primacy of belief over reason or else affirming a radical separation between reason and belief, that is, between science and philosophy on the one hand and religion on the other.


    Example: witness Andrew Sullivan, a practicing Catholic, prattling about faith and Jesus being valid rhetorical method. He's basically saying that a person's faith is not to be discounted when having an argument (and here I take argument to mean 'a discourse intended to change the nature of a truth') about worldly things. Even the Catholics disagree with this kind of thing.


    But if the Know-Nothings have their way this time around, the Catholics won't matter, either.

    posted by Unknown at 11/17/2004 04:14:00 AM |

    Comments: Post a Comment

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