For too long, wealthy people have been in charge of leftism. Two hundred years ago when industrial workers had no education to speak of and were being heavily exploited, it made sense for the wealthy to dominate leftism because the workers had neither the time nor the learning to analyze their situation. Wealthy leftists did have the time and learning, and they decided that capitalism was the problem. Now I’ve already argued against this (here, here, and here), since the alleged evils of capitalism will arise even in the absence of capitalism. But there are other problems. For example, industrial workers were by no means the only poor people. There were also servants (especially scullery maids), peasants, and the unemployed. Exactly how any of these people were going to be helped by attacking capitalism and allowing the workers to “own the means of production” isn’t at all clear, since at least some of these people weren’t really under the control of capitalists. Finally, there were big problems with the solutions leftists provided: socialism or communism.
Last night we soccer fans here in America were treated to another All-Stars game. Strictly speaking, this isn’t the usual format of an All-Stars game since it involved MLS stars against an actual team, Manchester United. And though Manchester United is the team I love to hate, I’ll admit that the fourth goal, by Tom Cleverley, was well worth watching. (Why wasn’t this guy in the World Cup?) It’s also absurd that Ryan Giggs, whom I first heard of in 1995, is still playing, and playing well.
Nevertheless, I have to ask, Do we really need this game? It’s true that it’s hard to argue with 70,000+ fans. Still, no other country in the world has such a game, so why should we?
According to this article Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad of Iran has denounced Paul the octopus for spreading Western propaganda and superstition. That's right, an octopus is apparently capable of doing these things. Let's hope this is nothing but a mistranslation. I'd hate to think that a world leader believed such nonsense.
Incidentally, I refuse to adopt the convention of most Western newspapers, which cram two of his names together into one, making a confusing and horrible-looking mess. (As far as I know, only the Financial Times rebels from this convention, sticking a hyphen in between the names.) It's Ahmadi Nejad, and sometimes just Nejad, in the Arabic-language press, and while admittedly the Persian-language press may be different, I'm assuming they're the same since they both use the same alphabet.
As someone who thinks he has found something hidden in Plato, I try to keep an open mind about others who make the same claim. Alerted by (of all people) Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, I followed his link to learn of one J.B. Kennedy, who claims to have found a hidden code in Plato (here). His claim is based on stichometry, which I admit I had never heard of before. This refers, according to Wikipedia, to counting the number of lines (of a standard length) in an ancient work for the purpose of calculating the scribe’s pay. Kennedy believes that one can learn something else, that Plato’s philosophy is fundamentally Pythagorean and that certain Pythagorean themes that are hidden within the text can be revealed by looking closely at the patterns made by the lines.
Instapundit has linked to a commentary (here) on a Martha Nussbaum article (here) on banning the burqa in Europe. He has added a link to another commentary (here). I don’t claim to have read every comment, but it is striking that no one seems to have a clue about why France banned them.
Paul Berman in his book The Flight of the Intellectuals talks about all of this, and what he says is quite interesting:
This article is what I expect from leftists. That is, these two women are refusing to give Muslims, who seem like the least likely people to accept leftist principles, a free moral pass. Even though I’m not a vegetarian and would find PETA annoying if I were a vegetarian, I like this.
Here is an interesting article on language and thought. What intrigued me was the following:
“Dr. Chomsky proposed that there is a universal grammar for all human languages.... The search for linguistic universals yielded interesting data on languages, but after decades of work, not a single proposed universal has withstood scrutiny.”
For some time now, I have thought that Chomsky could not possibly be right about the existence of a universal grammar. Such a grammar would help infants learn a language (via innate knowledge), but languages just seem too varied for there to be any rules applying to all.
Here’s what I would say if leftists were to accuse me of racism:
I’ve been associated with you leftists for many years. I know all your sins. Most of them are mentioned in my book on soccer (Soccer, the Left, & the Farce of Multiculturalism, picture in the right-hand column of this blog). Keep in mind that racism is part of a cluster of ills that also include exclusion and not respecting the Other. Here, then, are some of your sins, with page numbers from my book:
1. In its October 1999 issue, Ebony magazine compiled a list of the 100 best black athletes of the twentieth century. Missing from the list was Pelé, the great black soccer player from Brazil. In fact, no soccer players were on this list. Why not? Isn’t this a sort of prejudice? Isn’t it xenophobia? And isn’t Pelé actually more famous worldwide than most of the people on the list?
All kinds of names could be mentioned from soccer besides Pelé, such as Garrincha, Eusebio (voted best European player of the year in 1965), and Paul Ince (first black captain of the English national team). Including cricket in the mix would mean adding names like Brian Lara. And no doubt there have been plenty of black rugby stars of whom I am unaware who should have been on the list. Not including any of these people represents a sort of prejudice. It’s not racism, but so what? It’s as bad as racism, isn’t it? (p. 169)
2. Back in its July 29, 1996 issue, The Nation called Joao Havelange a fascist. Havelange was the former head of FIFA, the international soccer organization, and he became its head because he promised the countries of Asia and Africa some guaranteed slots in the World Cup, so they voted him in. Ask any black African about him, and you will be told, “He gave us five guaranteed slots in the World Cup.” Fascist? I don’t think so. (p. 168)
3. When confronted with the Other’s sports, how did the average American leftist react? I saw how they reacted back in the 1970s, when soccer first emerged into our national consciousness. They fled back to our sports. So much for respecting the Other. The people who have supported soccer in this country, the people who gave it its present visibility, were a collection of frat boys, sorority girls, military personnel, and people in the suburbs with small children. Just imagine, being outdone in open-mindedness by frat boys. Just imagine, frat boys were more respectful of the Other’s sports than leftists were. (passim)
4. On 5/17/87, The New York Times Magazine published an article by Brent Staples in which he observed what had occasionally been noticed before, that blacks were seldom allowed to be pitcher in baseball and mostly were shunted into the outfield. Did this cause a big ruckus among leftists? Not at all. (p. 177)
5. While our two main school sports, football and basketball, cannot be accused of excluding blacks, they can be accused of excluding Asians. There are virtually no Asians on these teams. (p. 186)
6. While basketball has obviously been a boon for blacks in America, it hasn’t helped all black athletes, for the simple reason that one needs to be rather tall to play it. What about all those black athletes who aren’t tall enough for it? They've been excluded, and being excluded is bad, isn't it? Why choose as your favorite sport one that excludes so many people? One of the ironies of the black experience in America has been that blacks were excluded from so much on the basis of an irrelevant physical characteristic, their skin color, and they have rightly been angry about that, but then they have chosen as their favorite sport a sport that excludes on the basis of another physical characteristic, size. (p. 194)
7. Twice I have followed soccer teams here in America that had black South African stars. In the 1970s I followed the Minnesota Kicks, which had Ace Ntsoelengoe, and in the 1990s I followed the Columbus Crew, which had Doctor Khumalo. In neither case did the leftists in either region notice these people. It is hard to imagine such indifference if these people had been visiting authors or artists, but because they were soccer players, they could safely be ignored. (p. 170)
8. Recently, leftists have made a big deal out of hating the religion of Islam and have labeled this hatred “Islamophobia.” They obviously see Islamophobia as the equivalent of racism. But why should it be wrong to hate the dominant religion of the Middle East, which is Islam, but not the dominant sport of the Middle East, which is soccer? I’ve known plenty of leftists in this country who have hated soccer. Isn’t hating soccer also the equivalent of racism? If not, why not? (p. 213)
Well, I could go on and on about this topic, about how leftists here in America have made asses out of themselves by refusing to get involved in soccer, by treating athletes in soccer as not worthy of the name, and by refusing to look critically at our sports. I am pretty confident that any fair-minded observer would not be a bit impressed by your calling me a racist, given your own similar sins. So, be off with you, and try to do better. And especially try to be more critical of yourself and less critical of others.
Yesterday’s headline in the Columbus Dispatch was “Who Can Stop the Bloodshed?” An inner-city teenage had been shot and killed for no good reason. And recently while visiting my mother in Minneapolis, there was an item on the evening news about a rally against the shootings that occur in the inner city that often hurt innocent bystanders. These sorts of events are fairly common these days: a shooting of an innocent person in the inner city followed by calls of various sorts for change.
But here’s the sad truth about the matter. Calls for change aren’t going to change anything. Saying that “Everyone is against this,” which was said in the rally in Minneapolis, aren’t even true because obviously some people are for it. And others who are against it nevertheless engage in rebellious behavior that tends to encourage it. Nor will rallies or demonstrations or marches or police task forces or anything so mundane actually change anything. What is needed is a cultural revolution. This is because inner-city shootings are now part of our culture, and it would require a huge cultural shift, a cultural revolution to change things. And there is no such shift or revolution in sight, so expect the shootings to continue, and expect that after each one we will hear the same anguished cries demanding change, even as the people demanding change don’t really want much of anything changed.
A few days ago I suggested (here)
six different theories for why leftists want to ally themselves with
reactionary Muslims, who would seem to be their worst enemies. These
1. The Stuck-in-the-Sixties theory. 2. The Contrarian theory. 3. The Oppressors-and-Oppressed theory. 4. The Unity-of-the-Causes theory. 5. The We-Are-Guilty theory. 6. The Near-Enemy-vs.-the-Far-Enemy theory.
suggested a few more (and let me point out that I don’t claim to have
invented all of the theories above, though I can’t remember where or
when I’ve heard of some of them). TGGP in the comments has suggested
something, though I can’t quite make out how it works.
Benschop in the comments suggested what might be called the
Eventually-We’ll-Be-Proved-Right theory, which says that leftists
believe that reactionary Muslims, like everyone else, will eventually
come around and realize that leftists are right about everything.
8. Keith Burgess-Jackson has suggested (here)
what might be called the Leftists-Are-Weenies theory, which says that
leftists are composed primarily of women and effeminate men and that
they are so afraid of Islamists that they have allied themselves with
them for protection.
It occurred to me the other day that we are forgetting another theory:
The Right-Controls-Everything theory. According to this theory,
leftists believe that the right controls everything, and since the right
is prejudiced against Muslims, the left’s biggest problem in connection
with Muslims is trying to counter the (in their minds) high degree of
prejudice against them which makes their lives miserable. Incidents like
honor killings or even the murder of Theo van Gogh count as nothing but
outliers that have no political meaning.
plenty of evidence here. Leftists become deranged at the idea that Fox
News and Rush Limbaugh are popular and act as though their near-total
domination of the New York Times and most other newspapers, of
NPR, ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN somehow doesn’t count. In addition, for
years liberals and leftists denied that they were dominant in academia,
until some surveys a few years ago told them otherwise. Some still talk
as though they weren’t dominant.
Since the left dominates our culture through their dominance of our media and our schools, it is hard to take their thinking seriously on this point. I present it as a theory for understanding them.