Thursday, March 31, 2011

The comment that National Catholic Register refuses to publish.

Shame on them. But what did I expect?

In an article dicsussing the Fr. Corapi case, I have appended the following comment. It has not yet appeared on the site, and perhaps it never will. But it is true, and history will bear out the import of my words.
The dominoes continue to fall. Maciel, Euteneuer, now Corapi. So passes the Novus Ordo. So passes the legacy of John Paul the "Great." Robert Barron will be the next to go, followed shortly by Scott Hahn (who will not sin publicly, but will apostatize).

And while Mark Shea offers some rare words of sobriety on this occasion (certainly not his usual MO), he should know that the clock is ticking on him as well. In fact, any Novus Ordinarian with a public "media ministry" will shortly find the boom of the Almighty lowered on all his works, including the entirety of EWTN. Uncountable reams of material have been issued in the name of the Catholic Church by private individuals acting on their own initiative, or at most abetted by heretical bishops: thousands of hours of video and audio, books, blogs, articles, devotional tracts, diocesan rags, catechetical booklets -- none of it vetted by proper authorities, all of it juvenile and bereft of sound philosophy, all of it stinking of the Novus Ordo and the liberal sacrilege of Garrulous Karolus, all of it destined for the memory hole when the Church Militant recovers her senses.

When Pope Benedict recently bemoaned the influence of "professional Catholics," he was referring inter alia to those who butter their bread by pretending to represent Catholic intellectual culture but who instead distort it beyond recognition. In America today, that description fits almost anybody who publicly confesses the name "Catholic." It fits the entire Novus Ordo church and its established corridors of power. That the Novus Ordo is a house built on sand is a fact that becomes more undeniable with each passing day.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Libya, Part Two: (From Belmont Club)

57. Wretchard,

That source you cited should silence anybody who still thinks that Peak Oil is not a problem. In fact it is the problem.

The true nature of Peak Oil has been misunderstood by almost everybody. It has nothing to do with how much oil is left in the ground. (There will always be oil left in the ground, and it will always be available to wealthy people at a sufficient price.) It has to do with being able to get at the oil and utilize it efficiently on a civilizational scale. The real issues are geopolitical, demographic, and infrastructural, not geological.

When the supply of oil tightens for any reason (i.e revolutions in the Maghreb, or what have you), the price rises, inefficient uses are trimmed back, poorer customers are priced out of the market altogether, and civilization begins to creak. The price of all basic commodities is closely tied to the price of oil, not only because of the transportation factor, but also because oil is an important raw material in industrial processes. Whenever some persistent consumer is willing to pay a premium for that last barrel of oil, the marginal price of all barrels increases by the same amount, and eventually the economy feels the pain.

Because we cannot afford to consume oil as lavishly as we did before, we have to make less, do less, drive less, consume less; pay more, work more, sacrifice more, and suffer more. The total output of the economy shrinks. In such an environment, it is vain to talk of being rescued by alternative sources of energy. Where will the investment capital come from to bring those sources on line? Where will the technical expertise and labor come from? Any plausible scheme to improve the energy supply (whether by increased oil and gas exploration, nuclear power, coal gasification, renewables, or whatever), will take dozens of years and trillions of dollars to complete, while in the meantime the overall economy continues to dwindle. And "conservation" merely races the demon over the cliff. Conservation means that we do to ourselves the same thing that our nemesis is trying to do to us anyway. We will not have enough money to build the necessary infrastructure to reinflate our bubble economy. And even if we did, investment capital chases the highest rate of return, and the floundering energy sector will not be offering the highest rate of return. It will be a money pit, an eldering kept woman who no longer pulls her own weight.

However, since it seems we will be unable to do without the energy, we will have to make the investment anyway, and do so at a loss. Hence it will have to be a labor of love. But the free market does not think very kindly of labors of love; Adam Smith's invisible hand wants to be greased, not calloused by long hours of tedium. Since market mechanisms will not of their own provide the necessary capital, the funding will have to be enforced through the tax structure, and we will all become the slaves of energy. Without realizing it, the populations of whole regions will be converted into some sort of oleaginous latifundium for the maintenance of the few surviving industrial conglomerates.

This is the end of the West, its last desperate grasp at mere survival (its honor and dignity have long since been sold away). If this were our only problem it would be formidable enough, but remember this is all happening against the background of a much larger catastrophe. We have aging and declining populations in the US, Europe, and Japan. We have completely unsustainable pension and welfare programs about to go broke. We have a generation of young people that is less educated, less healthy, and less morally competent than their parents, and who are completely unprepared to deal with this. And we still have borders to defend against an increasingly numerous, increasingly dangerous horde of third-world malcontents. We have weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of tribal warlords who will use them just for fun if they get the chance. We have given ourselves over to greed and perversion. Our once-noble religion has been wussified by liberal progressives. We are no longer worthy of our success, and our discomfiture is beginning to tell upon us. How in the world will we survive this intact?

Call me pessimistic, but I don't think it can be done. Like an old forest giant, we have run up against the physical limits of our growth. We can no longer put forth enough leaves to gather all the sunlight we need to thrive, and far below the root system cannot drink enough water to keep the remaining leaves healthy. And while we may continue to thrust suckering branches toward the sky for years to come, the true period of organic growth, the saga, is over.

Probably the best policy for individuals now is to try to avoid contact with Empire as much as possible, neither paying nor receiving from the system, cultivating a detached indifference to matters of government. Perhaps you can hold off the external decay long enough that it does not affect the hearts and minds of your children, and your posterity will one day make landfall in a future age when organic growth is possible again. But for us here today, the tasks before us are grim and pitiless. Let us look not for happiness but for the pride of duty, and so write our names down with those who pulled the world back from the brink.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Libya, Part One: (From Belmont Club)

Back in those contentious days immediately succeeding the execution of Saddam Hussein, I began to speculate on possible alternative courses the events might have taken. This was occasioned by the fact that, against my own wishes, I found the execution to be a strangely maudlin display. It wasn’t that Saddam did not deserve his fate; it was that we, his conquerors, did not pay him the honor of killing him ourselves, but remanded him instead to the custody of his sectarian enemies. For me, this made an end to any pretenses of nobility that clung to the Bush Doctrine. The result of Saddam’s capture and trial could not have been more to the liking of the Brussels crowd, and it would have been had they not already held such an irrational animus against Americans and Republicans. But in permitting it to transpire thus, Bush implicitly validated the premises on which the Transnational Left at least nominally bases its positions: international law, international peacekeeping forces, world-jurisdictional courts, and other such-like extravagancies. I suppose this was done out of some misguided attempt to engender an outcome that was both useful and politic, but in that case it miscarried badly. Politically speaking, Bush’s popularity at home could scarcely have been worse (and might have been a bit better) if he had simply flown to Iraq and personally cut Saddam’s heart out. And as for usefulness, I fear we have only sent the message to dictators around the world that, when dealing with America, surrender is no longer an option. Better to fight it out and die like a man than to be thrown like meat to your home-grown jackals. Saddam was “marked for death,” as it were: he could not fight, could not sue for peace, could not surrender, and could not win. He couldn’t even run away. It is an outcome that perhaps the game-theorists in the Pentagon would love, but it is anything but noble. I wondered if there was a better option.

Hence my excursions into alternative history. One of the possibilities I explored (and not exactly one I endorse, by the way) was to accord Saddam the dignity proper to a conquered Head of State, and allow him to live out his days in exile in America—under guard, of course, but retaining a semblance of his former wealth and status. I could picture him placed under house-arrest in some capacious South Florida mansion, marveling over the ironies of his fate. I suspect that, once the initial novelty had passed, the American public would grow accustomed to having a Saddam in their midst, and might even come to regard with amusement some of his peculiarities, just as they have the recent antics of Charlie Sheen. How long do you think it would be before he was inking his memoirs and appearing in Pizza Hut™ commercials, or dropping in via satellite on the Sunday news shows? I cannot but think that his commentaries on the escalating events in the Middle East would be pored over with great interest.

This was fantasy, of course. Notwithstanding the security difficulties of maintaining an opulently caged Saddam, it would simply be unjust to allow him to live in peace and comfort while his country was going through the agony of war and restructuring. The funny thing is, it seems like something similar actually figures to happen to Khadaffi. The lessons of the Iraq War provide us with several possible strains of analysis, some of which cross-cut and contradict each other; and I’m not sure how the final symmetries will actually shake out. In the meantime, however, I offer the following analogies as food for thought.

1) The Obama Administration, despite the distance which Obama tried to put between his own position and the Bush Doctrine in last night’s speech, has succeeded not only in recapitulating that doctrine but even in magnifying its errors. Where Bush refused to try Saddam himself, Obama refuses even to fight Khadaffi himself. Where Bush handed Saddam over to his rebellious factions to be hung, Obama hands Khadaffi’s rebellious factions the rope. Where Bush led a loose but internationally recognized coalition of the willing, Obama trails an internationally tendentious consortium of the desperate. And while the Left in this country bemoaned Bush’s lack of an exit strategy, when it came their turn to fight they fecklessly refused to propound even an entrance strategy. The actions of the present Administration evince no clear goal beyond justifying the President’s existence in the White House.

2) Even though that vituperative little maggot, Sarkozy, seems to be prosecuting the Libyan War with more than the usual French bitterness, would anybody think it at all absurd if Khadaffi simply fled to the Riviera, with a full military escort, and died a natural death there while awaiting a skillfully delayed trial at the Hague? The subsequent successes of French and Italian national corporations in Libya, with the notable cooporation of the remnants of Khadaffi’s regime, being of course entirely coincidental?

Or perhaps I’m being too cynical. Time will tell.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Industrial Strength Blat

My paper analyzing the effects of informality, barter, and hysteresis in Russian-Ukrainian natural gas relations. (Click on the "Full Page" Icon to read.)

Industrial Strength Blat -

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Kingdoms of Blood and Spirit.

In very general terms, any time you spend money on an activity that “the market will not support,” you know that the activity in question is symbolic and totemic; that is to say, it belongs to the same genre as monumental architecture, fine arts, and religious worship. All active life (i.e all animal existence) divides itself into the Kingdom of the Blood and the Kingdom of the Spirit. The blood kingdom operates entirely at a material level, concerning itself with that which is necessary for the upkeep of existence itself. This is the sphere to which economics properly belongs, the sphere in which the laws of supply and demand (which are only the laws of thermodynamics adjusted for the presence of living actors) will yield reliable results. Activity in this sphere achieves its objective when it conduces to the health, maintenance, and eventual flourishing of the individual and his estate.

The spirit kingdom, on the other hand, concerns itself with that which is true, meaningful, and significant. It is the higher of the two kingdoms, for it corresponds more faithfully to the natural end of man, which is to know, love, and serve God. It is the spirit (and not the flesh) which is responsible for social order, justice, learning, virtue, and excellence of all kinds. For this end, resources are diverted from the kingdom of blood to produce those ends which the spirit of truth that is in a man, requires.

Idealist philosophers like Kant made the mistake of assuming that if we could understand the mechanics of the pure spirit, that fact alone would be sufficient for producing a truly just society, which would necessarily include the perfectly harmonious allocation of means to ends. However, they were mistaken. Man’s spirit is corrupted and fallen, his reason darkened, and his appetites confused and misdirected. His spirit, which which was made to feed on truth for the production of virtue, now feeds on lies for the production of sin. All pride and envy, murder, lies, greed, and foolishness are also the fruits of the spirit, for they are the product of a misused will.

Flash back to the case of NPR. We know that NPR belongs not to the kingdom of blood, for if it did it would have a natural and unforced profit associated with it. It does not have this, so therefore it belongs to the kingdom of spirit. There is nothing wrong with this per se, for all of mankind’s finest works belong to the spirit. However, that which is spiritual is only virtuous if it also bears witness to the truth, otherwise it belongs to the kingdom not as a citizen but as an interloper and a criminal. Does NPR bear witness to the truth? It certainly does not. It is a totem in the Church of Liberalism, the Church of Satan and his lies and pomps, bearing witness only to the wackiness and treachery by which the professional Left sets its seal.

This is why it must not receive federal money, not because it is unprofitable without it, but because it poisons man’s spiritual existence with its black religion. You might think that the champions of the separation of church and state might apply their logic fairly and recognize that NPR is religious in nature, and deny it federal funding on those grounds alone. But of course they will not, and it is not an argument I will make either. The separation of church and state is an illusion drawn from the tumults of a previous revolutionary era; it never should have been held up as a model for enlightened society. For the entire purpose of the kingdom of blood (of which the state is the perfection) is to support the kingdom of spirit (of which the Church is the perfection). We are damned if we continue to pour out our blood in support of the Left’s insane religious imperatives as witnessed through NPR. But we are equally damned if we do not pour out our blood in support of the truth, which is Christ and His Church. It is never the case that the state does not lend its support to any church. The only choice is between supporting the true Church and supporting a false one. We have chosen poorly.

“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” we are told to pray. What is this but an insistence that the kingdoms of earth and blood bear witness to the kingdoms of spirit and truth? That is why the separation of church and state cannot hold. But the kingdom of truth is not a Kantian Republic of purely rational laws; it is a Church whose head is Christ, whose vicar is Peter, and whose message is the Gospel. It cannot tolerate any dilution or adulteration or false ecumenism. Therefore there will eventually be a battle between the supports of Christ and the supporters of NPR. They will not abide each other and they know it. Until the case is made, until the battle is waged, until the truth is proclaimed with all vigor, we cannot hope for much improvement in our material or spiritual condition. The denizens of the Left, a destructive brood of vipers if ever there was one, misrepresent themselves as secularists and take refuge behind the dubious legal premises of free speech and other misbegotten maxims from the Spirit of ’89. Those of us who are “conservatives,” who long for an organic ordering of society and a return of the perennial philosophy, must root them out of these strongholds. Argue with them if you must; make converts of them if you can; but never forget to oppose them in fact and deed. This means getting rid of their funding and taking control of the organs of state which funnel it to them. To do less than this is to allow the enemy to hang around in our midst. It is to do less than we can and less than we ought.

The world is changing; the global economy is creaking; events are lining up for a fin de si├Ęcle conflagration. And what with the widespread malaise over Obama, the union defeat in Wisconsin, and the revelations stacking up day by day (including this piece about NPR), it appears that the Left is ready to fall. Let us not waste the opportunity.

“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” Stand up for the truth, and put an end to NPR.