Commerce and Manners in Edmund Burke’s Political Economy

This is a little strange, a post based on a book review. by Samuel Gregg, research director at the Acton Institute and published in Law and Liberty. And yes, I ordered the book yesterday.

It is however a long review so if you don’t read the link you won’t get even all the highlights, so read it! Here’s some with my comments appended.

If there is any moment which marks modern conservatism’s beginning, it is the publication of Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790). Central to Burke’s critique of the events occurring across the Channel was his insistence that France’s revolutionaries were seeking to construct a new world based on abstractions deeply at variance with the hard-won wisdom of experience. That has become the standard interpretation of Burke offered by admirers and critics alike. It is, however, at variance with Burke’s most extensive economic treatise. His Thoughts and Details on Scarcity (1795), written as a private memorandum to Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, invokes many of the same highly-theoretical ideas articulated by eighteenth-century thinkers on both sides of the Channel in favor of economic liberalization and against the mercantilist systems which dominated the European world.

I do think it important to compare Burke’s comments on the French Revolution with his on the American Revolution, only`13 years prior, in which he supported the proto-Americans. Be that as it may, Reflections on the Revolution in France, foresaw all too clearly what was to befall France and affects its history to this day. And for that matter increasingly, ours.

Much of Collins’ analysis is framed by his exploration of this “Das Edmund Burke Problem.” It somewhat parallels what mid-nineteenth century German thinkers called the “Das Adam Smith Problem.” This alleged a contradiction between the moral philosophy underlying Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments and the economic thought expressed in his Wealth of Nations. Collins’ ultimate conclusion is that there is no essential conflict in Burke’s thought “between traditional virtue and modern economies that could not be integrated and reconciled.”

I’ve never really understood the problem per se. To me, it is the difference between long and short range perception. If you’re trying to get rich irregardless of those around you, you do one thing, if you intend to remain in the community as a respected member you do otherwise. But maybe that’s the German’s problem, I don’t know.

In the first place, Burke did not regard himself as a type of professional economist. Such a designation, Collins points out, hardly existed in the eighteenth century. More significantly, like most of the period’s leading minds, Burke was free of the excessive specialization that distorts much academic inquiry today. Second, Burke studied these questions with a view to understanding and critiquing prevailing practices and promoting reforms (Burke was, after all, a Whig) which facilitated what Enlightenment thinkers called “improvement.”

Third, and perhaps most importantly, Collins highlights how Burke recognized that the general principles underpinning the case for broadening commercial liberties were never applied in a political vacuum, a morality-free zone, or culturally-empty settings. Those who thought such considerations could be ignored when it came to policy design were the people that Burke had in mind when he used the word “oeconomists” negatively in his 1790 Reflections. Context was not everything to Burke, but it did matter. […]

On the one hand, Collins notes, Burke unambiguously affirmed the economic advantages and prosperity associated with a growing liberalization of commerce between nations. He made this point repeatedly: so much so that it brought him into direct conflict with those merchants who resented competition. Burke was deeply skeptical of mercantilist vehicles of empire like the East India Company which epitomized an unhealthy blending of the commercial and the political. They were, Burke believed, of little benefit to Britain and contributed significantly to the corruption of British politics. Burke was also remarkably free of the obsession with bullion that underpinned mercantilist conceptions of wealth and which had fueled the expansion of Spain’s empire in the Americas. […]

The following is what decided me to spend the $50 for the book:

There was, however, another dimension to Burke’s economic thought which Collins’ book brings into full focus. Burke insisted that commercial liberties needed to be embedded in what Collins calls “pre-commercial pillars of religious instruction, social affection, and aristocratic moderation.” Here we find what Collins calls the “manners” part of Burke’s political economy.

On one level, this implied the wealthy embracing the Jewish and Christian teaching that they had concrete responsibilities to the poor. In many places, Burke emphasized the political and economic dysfunctionalities associated with delegating these obligations to the state. But he also maintained that declining to privately assist those in genuine need was morally wrong and corroded those more-than-contractual bonds which bound communities together.

For Burke, commercial societies needed to embody decidedly non-commercial imperatives, many of which stemmed from what we would call pre-modern ideas and institutions. If they didn’t, Burke feared, people’s horizons would become degraded and enfeebled by the single-minded pursuit of lucre. Such moral and intellectual corruption could not be magically confined to the private sphere. There was no way to cordon it off from public life.

Part of Burke’s complaint against mercantilism was how it had facilitated widespread venality in British political life. Members of Parliament and the King’s ministers became very susceptible to undue influence from merchants seeking the monopolies and privileges which were integral to mercantilist policies. He also understood, Collins illustrates, that what was denoted as “economy in government” reduced incentives for such behavior.

Unless people also behaved in accordance with what the eighteenth-century Anglo-American world associated with what Burke called “the gentleman,” commercial societies would come undone. By “gentleman,” Burke had more than mind than noblesse oblige; it also involved civility, cultivation of the virtues, generosity, a commitment to improvement, and “a fidelity to helping others.” This idea of the gentleman and the mixture of pre-modern and Enlightenment expectations which Burke invested in it will seem quaint to some people today. For others, it smacks of paternalism. Nonetheless it was indispensable, to Burke’s mind, for the long-term sustainability of commercial societies.

I, for one, agree.

As do I, wholeheartedly, and the two centuries of experience that we have since Burke wrote these thoughts, only emphasizes them, for we have seen what happens when they are disregarded.

This is long enough to give the flavor of the review and a taste (I hope) of the book. I hope many of you will read one or both because unless we know where we think we should be going, we’ll never get there, and Edmund Burke is one of our best guides.

 

America: What Others See

Sometimes we should back off on our concerns and see what others think of us. Two “others” have written about America this week. I think we should take note.

The first is Nikola Kedhi writing on The Federalist. Most of the people we quote here are pretty well-known and we don’t elaborate, but here we should. According to his bio at The Federalist, he is:

Nikola hails from Albania and studied International Economics, Management, and Finance at Bocconi University in Milan. He obtained his Master’s in Finance from Carlos III University in Madrid. Currently, he works as an Associate at Deloitte in Albania, one of the Big 4 consultancy firms.

So no close ties to America other than perhaps, his job. Let’s see what he says.

America is much more than a country. It is much more than a land or a group of people that came together to form a nation. Ultimately, the United States is a symbol. It is the world’s fullest and greatest embodiment of capitalism, democracy, and freedom. It is the land of the free, the home of the brave, a source of hope, and a defender of justice.

Many may not understand the significance of America as an ideal. Some in the United States and Europe have lived comfortably for decades, never been invaded, never lost their land or property, nor their freedom to think or speak. As a result, they can’t value what they already have. It’s an unfortunate reality that you often have to lose something to fully understand its worth.

My country, Albania, is small today, but in the past, the ancestral lands of my people once spread throughout the Balkans. We had the first queen in Europe, gave the Vatican four popes, provided emperors who shaped history and survived through the strong men and women who died for their country, their traditions, and their families.

Nevertheless, neighboring countries with the help of larger empires and states in Europe slowly took our territories and forced into flight large parts of our population. More than 100 years ago, only one country stood up for us, fought for our territorial integrity, and helped us retain the borders we have today: the United States of America.

One doesn’t need to travel further back in time than a few generations to find Albania at the mercy of the red terror known as communism. […]

Despite 45 years of propaganda demonizing the United States, the Albanian people never forgot what President Reagan often referred to as the “shining city on a hill.” Indeed, no matter the torture and the brainwashing the regime tried, it could never remove the desire for freedom. The desire for freedom, meritocracy, and justice are deeply ingrained in the human soul. […]

Still, hope remains. I see it every day and not just in America. President Trump stands in front of the advance of the radical leftists in the United States and he inspires others to follow his example in Europe. He has vowed that America will never be a socialist country. The history of America is filled with inspiring stories of those who stood up, never gave up hope, and resolutely worked for a better future. A strong and prosperous United States means a safer and better world.

Read it all. Then there is this from The Spectator, by Robert Taylor who is based in London.

At a time of crisis, we need hope more than ever. We need positivity and optimism. We need the American Dream. What is the American Dream exactly? Being a Brit, I didn’t really know, though I had a foggy notion of a can-do, anyone-can-make-it, over-the-rainbow sort of spirit. So I looked it up on Wikipedia, and it turns out I wasn’t too far wrong. To summarize, the American Dream is a national ethos that fosters prosperity and success on the basis of social mobility and rewards for hard work and enterprise.

That sounds good and noble to me. But I’d suggest it should apply, especially now, not just to America, but far beyond its shores, to all those willing to embrace it. {…}

To repair the massive damage, to dust ourselves down, recover from the shock, and get back up on our feet, we need cooperation between leading states in terms of economic intervention and health resilience.

And who can lead this cooperation? Well, let’s think. The UN? No way — too many competing interests. China? Nope. There’s no trust, especially since this whole thing appears to have started in or near some filthy live- animal market in Wuhan, followed by weeks of obfuscation and denial.

The EU? Are you kidding? Once the coronavirus hit, the sham that is the European Union was rapidly laid bare to anyone who cared to look. […]

No. Just as in 1945, with the establishment of Bretton Woods as a basis for the global economy and international security, only the USA can lead us out of this crisis. The American Dream must become an international reality. […]

Dare I say that there are few nations that trust each other more, and have a stronger recent history of standing side by side, than the U.S. and UK? […]

For years, a range of academics, economists, and politicians across the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, recognizing their common language, history, cultural understanding, head of state, and deep- rooted, intertwined identities, have advocated closer cooperation between their respective nations in the CANZUK movement (it’s an acronym — get it?). While Britain has been pulling away from the EU, it has quietly been moving towards its English-speaking brethren.

The U.S. is the logical fifth, and most important, partner in this movement. Can these five countries work together now, not just for mutual benefit but to lead the world towards a new global order? Of course they can. […]

Maybe I’m an idealist, but I see a massive opportunity from this crisis for old friends, pulled apart by a decades-long narrative that encouraged crude, regional trading blocs while derisively snorting at the nation state and historic trading links, to come together once again.

Read this one too. I agree completely with both of them. When we say that if the US goes down, there is no place to run to, this is what we mean. It is true for us and it is true for all those who love freedom and liberty, not to mention a chance to get ahead in this life. We are the last ditch in defense of that city on the hill with its beacon burning bright. Others will follow, and help but we must lead. Because we are “The Keepers of the Flame”.

Whatever must be done, and I think many of us have some knowledge of that, must be done.

Some things are worth living for, and they are the things worth dying for

Those sunlit uplands that Churchill dreamed of still beckon, and the journey may be tough but it will be worth it.

The Media’s Political Suicide

Daniel Greenfield writing in Frontpage Mag has some thoughts about how the media is committing suicide. They’re good thoughts.

McClatchy had bought Knight Ridder for $4.4 billion to create the second largest news company. After going into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, McClatchy was won in an auction by a hedge fund, which also owns the National Enquirer, in a secret bidding which started with $30 million cash and $270 million in debt.

None of this says anything good about the future of its D.C. bureau, or the Miami Herald, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Sacramento Bee, the Kansas City Star, and other hollowed out husks of major urban papers carrying huge loads of pension debt and even bigger loads of radical left-wing politics.

Earlier this year, Warren Buffett had dumped 30 newspapers that he had bought for $344 million for $140 million. The Newseum, a $450 million media museum, backed by Gannett, was sold off last year.

Gannett, the biggest newspaper chain in the country, lost $80 million in the first quarter of the year even after a merger in which it slashed jobs at some of the hundreds of newspapers which it controls.

Over 20,000 media jobs have been wiped out in the previous two years and it’s just getting started.

Just breaks your heart, doesn’t it? Yeah, no, mine either. But in a way it should. The press has been a driver of freedom since the modern world began, and I daresay we are already missing it. Still, it’s become a hollowed-out shell with little to recommend it.

Local papers are dying. Formerly influential national news magazines are irrelevant. When was the last time you heard anything from Time except around its annual Cause of the Year publicity stunt?

And it’s not just the dead tree media that’s in trouble. Digital darlings like the Huffington PostVice and Vox have been cutting jobs because clickbait doesn’t win over subscribers who will pay for content. Network television and cable news are on their last legs as cable subscribers cut the cord and content providers set up their own Netflix rivals. What happens to NBC News or CNN in a marketplace defined by Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Peacock, HBO Max, CBS All Access, and whatever other platforms will pop up?

The media hasn’t had a viable business model in a long while. It’s a zombie that kills even as it dies. […]

The transformation of the media from for-profits to non-profits sheds any commitment to the marketplace, to a community of readers who pay for its services, and instead puts it at the service of dot com tycoons who want to invest in left-wing causes. The experience of reading or watching the media’s content also changes from information to indoctrination. As is the case with so many of the dot com giants which finance the media and on whose platforms the media depends, the reader and the viewer are no longer consumers, they are the product that is being sold to the media’s political backers.

Even as the non-profit media claims that it’s now free to pursue journalism as a public service, it’s not providing a service to the public, it’s serving a small class of donors by trying to influence the public.

All pretty obvious when you look at it but who wants to look at a looming zombie, soon to be a corpse.

“Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor,” Bari Weiss wrote in her resignation letter to the New York Times.

Twitter is the media’s editor. Its platform provides the content that fills the media, but it also makes the infrastructure of the media surplus to requirements. The medium is the message and the medium of Twitter is 280 characters. As Weiss notes, “the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space.”

But the real performance space is on Twitter where content is consumed and debated much more rapidly in short form than in the long form pages of the New York Times. As the media transforms into a pure instrument of political advocacy whose antics play out on social media, there’s less and less use for the expensive billion-dollar operations, the newspapers, channels, and even the sites of the media. […]

The media has been killing cities and the country to buy a little more time for its existence. But it is becoming a zombie that is killing the basis for its own existence and then the very thing that it does.

The members of the media began by killing their ethics and morals. They tossed away the truth as a value and a goal. They turned on their colleagues, incited mobs, celebrated violence and terror. And then they set out to destroy the organizations they worked for and the country that they live in.

Their final act of political suicide will be to kill their own writing.

As sad as that may be, well, they chose their own fate. The world can get by without the New York Times, the Washington Post, the various broadcast propaganda organizations, without The Telegraph and the Guardian, and even without the BBC. We will find the information somewhere as we always have. The media is no longer the message, the message is the message, as it always should have been.

Why They Fear Their Lying Eyes

From Niall Kilmartin at Samizdata.

cult conversions … occur by using doctrine to resolve some core emotional vulnerability. … A… clear sign that one is dealing with a cult indoctrination … is making the mark live up to contradictory demands. You must understand racism and admit that you cannot understand racism. You must admit to your complicity in racism and pledge to do better knowing that it is impossible to do better. You must be an ally but accept that you will always do your allyship wrong. … these impossible and paradoxical demands dramatically deepen commitment to the cult … The concept of “white fragility” in the antiracist Woke cult is exactly this sort of emotional shakedown. … Lead the mark to take a step further in, coach them into rationalizing why that step was good, and then repeat with a further step. … when the mark rationalizes these objectively bad decisions and the cognitive dissonance that doing them causes, they nearly always rationalize themselves much further into the cult.

The Cult Dynamics of Wokeness analyses how it spots and indoctrinates its marks, but says little about the mark’s original issue that the woke exploit:

Sometimes, the underlying emotional vulnerability is there for personal reasons, or as a result of life events.

Sometimes, indeed it is – their prime targets are students, who often arrive at university with plenty of youthful insecurity and teenage angst. But wokeness itself can provide the distress as well the abusive ‘resolution’. Students arriving at a politically-correct university are immediately plunged into an an artificial racial reality that they are forbidden to notice: affirmative-action admissions ensure that the academic ability of their fellow students correlates strongly with skin colour. Next, the disparate impact theory they are taught offers them only two explanations, one explicit, the other implicit, for the disparities it highlights:

– blacks are statistically unequal to whites because of white racism

– blacks are statistically unequal to whites because they are inferior

No third option is allowed into any target’s mind – not if the woke can help it (if they even know one themselves!). So the mark has a simple choice: believe in the explicit explanation, or become the moral equivalent of Hitler by believing the implicit one. No-one wants to be morally equivalent to Hitler, so, since they know no third option (since the very idea there could be any other alternative to the evil implicit one has never risen into their awareness), every doubt that subtle white racism explains the discrepancy, every argument that denies that white racism, however hidden, is at the root of the differences they’re taught to hate and the even more obvious differences they’re forbidden to notice, threatens them with becoming that object of loathing to their (and society’s) principles, a racist! When these two alternatives are the only ones that a student knows deep down (and up top, in the surface of the mind, they hardly dare think of the implicit one) then the claim that one is either a racist or else admits to being a racist seems to make sense.

(It was the same under Stalin and Mao. In both Russia and China, the mass famines were followed a few years later by the mass purges. Either you accepted that saboteurs, wreckers and enemies were fouling up the scientifically-proven socialist dream, or you were a vile capitalist-roader, an exploiter. One communist who had served the Party in the Ukraine famine and been shaken by what he saw, later wrote:

For that very reason, however, my conscious mind reached out desperately for alibis, for compromises with conscience. … It was imperative to squelch these emotions, to drive them into the underground of my mind. I laboured to repair my loyalties. With the purge in the offing, this urgency was even greater.

“With the purge in the offing …” – the far lesser but real dangers of cancel culture have a similar effect of ‘encouragez les autres’. This encouraging of indoctrinated minds to discipline themselves is as important to wokeness as the conscious fear that cancel culture inflicts on outsiders.)

So, does a better understanding of the problem point us towards any solutions?

The only ways I know of to effect a deprogramming of this are these three: (1) striking right to the heart of the point of vulnerability in a completely different and more healthy way …

The first of the three is what I will talk about. However,

None of this is easy. In fact, it’s all usually very difficult … … People who have been reprogrammed into a cult mentality will perceive all attempts to free them from the cult as malicious attempts to drag them … back to the Bad Emotional Place that they have come to strongly associate with that awful feeling of vulnerability that was used to initiate them into the cult in the first place. The doctrine is the opium that dulls their emotional pain … anyone trying to talk sense to a fully reprogrammed cult member … will be, in a very real sense, interpreted as trying to do harm to them … because the cult doctrine is the proffered resolution to the … emotional vulnerability that led them to be indoctrinated and reprogrammed in the first place. And you must appreciate just how much that vulnerability has been inflamed by the cult initiation, indoctrination, and reprogramming process.

At this point it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room; that third explanation (for why blacks in the US today can be statistically unequal to whites) which, of all others, wokeness most trains its victims never to see. Political correctness is a parasite on the backs of those it pretends to help.

“Although the big word on the left is ‘compassion’, the big agenda on the left is dependency.”

I owe that quote to Thomas Sowell, who has described how lucky he was to be born at a moment when the old prejudices about blacks were dying, and the new ones with which the PC would replace them had not yet grown strong (read his books). Sowell’s long life also lets him witness against what another coloured academic calls the woke’s “ever-present soft bigotry of low expectations”. A third black analyst concludes that

“woke whites would do more good by doing nothing”

Keep reading, there’s more. OK, here’s the thing, this is well out of my wheelhouse, I’m an engineering type, and a supervisor, not a specialist in how to screw up (and unscrew up) people, but it accords with what we are all seeing these days.

Education is good.

A Reminisce with a Point

This will seem a strange post, and in some ways, it is. Back in the fall of 2013, Nicholas, who comments here, corraled Jessica, myself, and Geoffrey Sales, the Yorkshire headmaster I’ve spoken of before (all AATW contributors) to write some fiction. Over that winter we managed about 40 chapters. I can’t speak for the others but for me, writing fiction was a much more difficult task than blogging. You can find it at this link. I happened to reread it yesterday, and it is rather quite good. Not surprisingly, it turned into sort of a synopsis of that great epic, English history, some of you will recognize the characters from that, although from rather different epochs, kind of like those fantasy dinners where you invite the six most interesting people from history to dinner.

This post is one of my contributions, Chapter 35, and it’s here again because it’s something many of our people British and American seem to have forgotten about why our countries worked so well for so long. I hope you Like it.

Pembrook instantly called loudly, “Guard!” within seconds, one appeared, and Pembrook told him to have the wise woman summoned instantly, and then he looked down and added, “and then bring the Lady some watered wine, and do it all quickly.” The soldier looked at him and said simply, “Yes, my Lord,” and clomped off on his mission. In a few moments, a maid came in with the wine for Isolde. And soon she looked comfortable, shaken but comfortable.

Pembrook looked over at her and said, simply, “Milady, since we are mostly waiting for the wise woman, I think I will tell you a story.” And so he did,

“When I was young, milady, as you know, I was the second son of a poor knight, so I had few prospects. My father did get me taken into Alain de Casterlie’s household as a page, but there was nothing else he could do for me. So I worked hard and became a squire and in good time, I was able to be knighted by the earl. But that also made me supernumerary, and so I packed up my belongings and went over to the Empire and entered the tournaments. I won often, lost occasionally but, as you’ve no doubt heard, I became quite rich from the armor that I won. That’s all very well, and it wasn’t a bad life for a young man. But even then it seemed, that I was a bit more honest than normal, and sometimes it cost me a championship, which I found easy to bear.

“Anyway, one day I and my squire were riding out from a city, and I happened to notice a statue, at a scrap dealer’s where I was selling some stray armor. It was bronze and looked quite old, and I quite liked it, so I asked the dealer. He thought it to have little value, so I traded some poor armor for it. Something about that statue just spoke to something deep within me. I couldn’t explain it then and have difficulty now.

“Are you quite comfortable now, My Lady?””

Isolde looked at him and said, “Yes, my Lord Marshal, please continue.”

“Very well, Milady. Anyway, I stored it away, till such time as I had a home, which of course, was after your grandfather let me marry my love, and we were setting up housekeeping at Pembrook. In truth, I had half-forgotten the statue until I saw it again, then I had it placed in the hall where I held civil court as a reminder.

You see the statue is of a not young woman, dressed in the classical style. In her right hand, she holds aloft the two-edged sword of a Christian knight. In her left, she holds a common scale, such as is used in commerce, except that the bearing point on the scale is a brilliant red garnet. And most extraordinarily, she is blindfolded. I came to see that none of this was accidental.

I have always thought that a knight’s sword, which is also a simile of the cross, has two edges for a reason, one is to smite the enemies of God and His people but, the other is to remind us to keep faith with Him, that He doesn’t turn our own sword on us. The scale was harder to figure out though, finally, I came to the conclusion that it meant we are to deal fairly with everyone we come in contact with, whatever their station in life, and do justice to them. Mercy they can claim from God, but as a responsible member of society, my responsibility is justice, although, on occasion, it should be tempered with mercy, if there is reason.

But you know, Milady, I had great difficulty in teasing out the meaning of the blindfold. I spent many hours staring at that statue, trying to figure it out. And then one day, like a bolt of lightning, I understood. I was to treat people fairly without fear or favor, no matter who or what they were, even as if I couldn’t know who they were, and ever since, I have tried to live up to that. It has not been easy, but it has brought me what I have, and it has allowed me to sleep at night.

Isolde looked at the marshal, for a few moments and said, “Marshal, I believe you have found all the elements involved in that statue, except perhaps, one. Why do you think that the scale has that singular garnet for a bearing?”

The Marshal looked at Izzy affectionately, and said, “Milady, as I expected you have gone straight to the heart of the matter. I believe that garnet, represents a person’s honor, for, without that, the rest is scrap metal.”

At that point, the guard entered the hall accompanied by Meg, and the Marshal smiled and said, “Milady I will withdraw now, and the guards will be without, if I can be of assistance, do send for me.” and then looking directly at Meg  he said, “Mistress, your reputation is that you are the wisest woman in the realm, welcome to court, do take good care of her, she is very important to her Realm, even more than she thinks, if you need anything, do let me know.” And with a smile at them both, he withdrew.

So let’s have us a bit of a game. The statue is real, in both Britain and America. What statue is it?

And Still Going

So, 9 years, 3787 posts, 31,900 comments, 6 authors, and a lot of joy and angst ago, I decided to be a blogger. Have I regretted it, sometimes but not often. It becomes a habit and keeps your mind working. That’s why I started it, and it still works.

My most read post with 1832 views is Then He Shall be the Greatest Man in the World,” King George II About what George III, told Ambassador Adams when he told the King that Washington would resign his commission and retire to Mount Vernon.

Jessica’s most viewed with 784 views is The wrath of the awakening Saxon which presented Kipling’s poem and drew on her master’s thesis on Kipling. But part of her charm was that she would wander off the reservation more than I do. Her fourth most read, A spanking good time? an excellent, funny, and just slightly ribald review of McClintock, with John Watne and Maureen O’Hara, and the rousing and quite funny ending, is an example. And one of my favorite posts on the site.

And then there is our Newby, Audre. I’m not entirely sure where she’s going, but I’m enjoying the ride, as are many of you, so we’ll relax. Her most read, so far, is I Don’t Need Proof about the shroud of Turin and Faith with 103 views. which considering she only has been here for 3 months, and views accumulate over time is outstanding.

And memories, I can remember after the 2012 election when a commenter here, whose blog Jess and I met on, was very consoling, saying perhaps we would get a better pro-life candidate in 2016. She was right, we did. But by then she had a raging case of TDS, and betrayed both the Pro-life movement she said was so important and the constitution she swore to uphold. Sad, but it happens.

I also remember clearly the first email from Jessica, following my first comment on her blog, friendly, smart, and very personable. AATW soon became my second home on the internet, as it still is. It, and its author’s, has sustained me through many problems in the last 8 years and a month, even as we worked through similar (but different) problems there.

So, going into our tenth year, what are my goals? I haven’t any. This is an eye on the world, as seen from Nebraska, a Red State view if you will. Other than that, it’s a bunch of friends, so come and join us.

But there is this; like most of you, I take as little notice of The New York Times as possible. But recently resigned editor Bari Weiss made some excellent points in her resignation letter, that we should all consider.

But the lessons that ought to have followed the election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned. Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.

Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions. I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative.

And this:

Part of me wishes I could say that my experience was unique. But the truth is that intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking—is now a liability at The Times. Why edit something challenging to our readers, or write something bold only to go through the numbing process of making it ideologically kosher, when we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world? And so self-censorship has become the norm. […]

The paper of record is, more and more, the record of those living in a distant galaxy, one whose concerns are profoundly removed from the lives of most people. This is a galaxy in which, to choose just a few recent examples, the Soviet space program is lauded for its “diversity”; the doxxing of teenagers in the name of justice is condoned; and the worst caste systems in human history includes the United States alongside Nazi Germany.

Even now, I am confident that most people at The Times do not hold these views. Yet they are cowed by those who do. Why? Perhaps because they believe the ultimate goal is righteous. Perhaps because they believe that they will be granted protection if they nod along as the coin of our realm—language—is degraded in service to an ever-shifting laundry list of right causes. Perhaps because there are millions of unemployed people in this country and they feel lucky to have a job in a contracting industry. […]

For these young writers and editors, there is one consolation. As places like The Times and other once-great journalistic institutions betray their standards and lose sight of their principles, Americans still hunger for news that is accurate, opinions that are vital, and debate that is sincere. I hear from these people every day. “An independent press is not a liberal ideal or a progressive ideal or a democratic ideal. It’s an American ideal,” you said a few years ago. I couldn’t agree more. America is a great country that deserves a great newspaper.

We are a very small cog in that debate, both in America and in the United Kingdom. I could ask for no more than for this to be my culminating project.

And as the common sense advice goes in the US today:

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