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Terrorism in Muenster Then and Now

April 7, 2018

Yet another terrorist attack was perpetrated today. This time the target is the German city of Muenster.

Students of radical millennial movements will remember the Muenster Anabaptist rebellion of the 16th century.

Last week we saw a revival of the 1212 Children’s Crusade and today we remember the revolution in the city of Muenster from 1534 to 1545.

Norman Cohn’s classic study, Pursuit of the Millennium, demonstrates that apocalyptic expectations have been aspects of the Christian West for a thousand years. You can read about them in a chapter on Modern Political Religions from my history of political theory., published forty years ago.

Higher Education in the 21st Century

April 7, 2018

On Tuesday I’ll have lunch with a friend from my undergraduate days at Pitt who has been active in the Christian ministry in Uganda.  His current project is a new university in Uganda, Uganda Christian University, that was founded in 1997.

Here’s a link to that institution.

Working here in United States in the field of higher education has been a struggle. American higher education has been affected by a crisis in civilization that began in Europe in 1848, was enhanced by our Civil War, America’s entry into World War I and the secularization of American culture that ensued. Few wealthy Americans in the 20th century founded new universities, and the old ones became secular, undefined in mission, and in the case of many religious colleges–faithless.

Remedying that decline in higher education is not easy.

Dr. Peter Wood, President of the National Association of Scholars and I conducted a seminar on that topic on December 5. And I’m writing a new book that explains what is required to recover from that decline of civic culture.

Starting a new college or university–and we need fifty good new ones in the next twenty-five years–requires money and skill. Believe me, I’ve prospected for wealthy conservatives to fund the startup of a solely Internet institution and they can be found.

But, managing a university requires knowledge of a crazy regulatory system, begun in 1885, that makes it extremely difficult to become accredited. Not only must you know and be committed to a “mission,” you must find instructors and administrators who believe in that mission. Very few wealthy conservatives know how to staff a new institution.

Dr. Wood was formerly a Provost at a Christian college and he looked for faculty in Europe because they were less likely to be infected by Political Correctness. Then you must understand new technologies that are effective for disseminating courses for degree credit.

Having wealth is not an indication that you’ll be interested in higher education, nor that you’ll know how to build a new college. I know of only two others with the knowledge needed to develop effective courses using those new technologies and who have mastered the regulatory thicket of this business.

We are now fifty years from the time that there was a viable cohort of conservative faculty. Many are deceased, ready for retirement, too old, or struggling in backwater colleges and community colleges.

In another twenty-five years, there will be none to hire. That’s the greatest problem.

The Skewering of Facebook on April 10

April 6, 2018

Conservatives who use Facebook should be suspicious, but not because of security breaches that allowed access to private information. If we put anything online, we should be prepared for that information to be hacked. That occurred to my records with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Equifax and, now Facebook.

The reason I’m concerned about Facebook is their hiring of monitors who will sit in on discussions and censor what they think is objectionable.

Those censors will be the same types of Left-leaning college graduates who are indoctrinated in Journalism, Communication Art, American Studies, Political Science and other academic departments in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

In other words, not merely is Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg going to be scrutinized about privacy issues on Tuesday, April 10 at 2:15 p.m. ET, when he will testify before a rare joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees, his company will come under attack simply because it is too big.

As big as any public utility, Facebook will begin to be regulated to the point that anyone who believes that Facebook is a private company will be compelled to conclude that Facebook is actually a public utility.

Seven Reasons We Lost Our Country

April 5, 2018

American culture has changed drastically and persons born in the 1950s simply do not recognize it. So many changes in culture, sexual and religious attitudes have occurred and civil society has been disrupted by so many “causes” and “movements” that instability is now accepted as normal.

When our parents sent us off to kindergarten or enrolled us in college, there was little concern that we would be killed or, upon graduation from college, despise our parents as racists, capitalists or, yuk, Republicans.

What are the political signs of this decline? There are seven.

1) Republican Party Congressional leaders are limited by their role as legislators. The once revered Congress of the United States attracted political leaders who challenged the nation or led recovery from depressions, lost wars or assassinated leaders. Today the character of persons like Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-OH), or Paul Ryan (R-WI), do not inspire. They were content to oversee legislation and saw no need to rise above the duties of their high office.  The many members of Congress seeking the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 were outwitted by a television Celebrity.

2) Conservative Americans lack national leaders. Ronald Reagan was the last national leader of political conservatives.  Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) have potential, but are more raw talent than studied.  What constitutes “Conservative,” anyway? A commitment to national security? Commitment to free enterprise? Commitment to limited government? Perhaps all three, but no one “leader” has arisen who embodies all three views.

3) Celebrities are known for being known, but know nothing about government. If we learned anything from the election of Donald Trump, we have learned that Celebrities in areas other than government are not equipped to administer the Executive Office of the President. For starters, they know no one who is qualified or experienced in government.  They have no experience with government bureaucracies nor the means to control them. They know nothing about national defense or foreign policy nor have they brought to office a strategy to lead the United States beyond next week.

4) Donald Trump’s attempt to manage the government like a business has failed. Somehow, Donald Trump thought that he could run the country like a business. There are no companies as large as the United States government, nor as complex, so the tools one brings to start and sustain a business enterprise are very different from government. If not in business, then where can you learn to govern a nation? Only from long study and in political appointments to government by your Party’s President. Donald Trump’s failure, and that of his two Republican predecessors, was failure to invest in the future of the Party by the appointment of dedicated and principled conservative leaders.

5) Conservative policy organizations (with the exception of the Cato Institute and Judicial Watch) have abandoned principle to power. Most “conservative” policy organizations are dedicated to fundraising, not the conduct of mission. Admittedly, you need money to function, but once funded conservative organizations must be committed to hold the feet of the powerful to the fire of conservative principle. Unfortunately, even when conservative Presidents betrayed us, most conservative policy organizations did not complain. Today, those policy organizations are celebrating at Trump International hotel in Washington, DC and are not criticizing this most curious, incompetent, faux Republican President. One of the reasons for that failure of nerve is their donors. Conservative donors seem to prefer to be feted with powerful people more than they want those in power to lead our country in conservative directions.

6) The conservative “movement” is dead. From about 1950 to 1980, the conservative “movement” was the place to be in American politics and intellectual life. Our political foes were Democrat Presidents name Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama and Republicans named “Rockefeller.”  The Democrats won office by promising Americans a pie in the sky and the Nixon and two Bush Administrations served pie with ice cream. Few conservatives had the courage to blame Ronald Reagan–or better, his wife–for the major compromises of the Reagan Presidency. And when these critics complained, they were shunted aside. What little evidence that there was once a movement of conservatives in American politics died with their influence.

7)  Traditional order in the U.S. will be politically “dead,” if we continue to abandon higher education to the Left. The history of Western society since the French Revolution has exhibited the influence of rationalist ideas that germinated in France and took root in Germany. The intellectuals of France and Germany created what can be called the “idealist Movement,” and that idealism gave us the wars of the 20th century. The champions of those  ideas now dominate higher education and, if traditional order is to recover, the Left must be displaced from the faculties and administrations of our colleges and universities, or new ones built that are resistant to the ideologies that infect our intellectual classes.

 

The Mad Hatter

April 4, 2018

Mercury used in the manufacture of felt hats in the 19th century caused poisoning that affected the speech and thinking of “hatters.”

There is something of a “Mad Hatter” aspect to the Trump Administration. This report in the Washington Post for March 30 reveals the disarray in the Presidential Personnel Office of the Trump Administration.

Presidential Personnel is the “gateway” for political appointments in Presidential Administrations. This report indicates the lack of direction in the appointment process in the Trump Administration.

The President, a sometime Republican, was never a participant in the conservative movement and knows very few political conservatives. He is also afflicted by the notion that he does not need to fill the many Presidential appointments at his command.

This explains why few of the President’s appointments are known to political conservatives. The president also believes that personal negotiations with heads of state (North Korea; Russia) is the basis of foreign policy.

That, of course, is the reverse of how negotiations with adversaries are conducted. All personal discussions should be preceded by formation of foreign policy and national security goals by professionals whose entire lives were dedicated to understanding those issues. Only after they have formulated policy and met with their opposite officials in the adversary country and general agreement reached should the Chief Executive meet with Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-un or Vladimir Putin.

Our interests in Asia are the same as the national interests of Japan, South Korea and the Republic of China (Taiwan).

With respect to China, Richard Nixon chose to play what he called the “China Card” in a game with the Soviet Union and bet on Mao-Tse-tung.  Jimmy Carter withdrew recognition of the Republic of China in favor of the People’s Republic of China.

General Secretary Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China is a dedicated Maoist who is building the PRC into a formidable world power. That has frightened Japan which is the target of the PRC ‘s predatory policies, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan is coming to the United States prior to President Trump’s meeting with the communist leader of North Korea.

We have no Ambassador to South Korea and the Prime Minister of South Korea desires a softer approach to North Korea than that proposed by President Trump and is undercutting the position taken by the United States.

Vladimir Putin of Russian aims to recover control of Ukraine and subdue the Baltic States. President Trump’s response is to offer a personal meeting.

Presiding over these developments is a “Mad Hatter.”

Seven Truths Trump Taught Us

March 29, 2018

We’ve  been on a roller-coaster since the election of Donald Trump, but this much the President has taught us:

1) Republican Party Congressional leaders are limited by their role as legislators;

2) Conservative Americans lack national leaders;

3) Celebrities are known for being known, but  know nothing about government;

4) Donald Trump’s attempt to manage the government like a business has failed;

5) Conservative policy organizations (with the exception of the Cato Institute) have abandoned principle to power;

6) The conservative “movement” is dead;

7)  Traditional order in the U.S. will be politically “dead,” if we continue to abandon higher education to the Left.

Children’s Crusades of 1212, 1968, 2018

March 26, 2018

History in the West has been disrupted by messianic movements because “messianism” is part of the idea structure that we inherited from the Gospels. The key difference between the promise of a blessed life after death of the Gospels is that messianic movements seek to make the world itself a “heaven” in this life.

Norman Cohn’s Pursuit of the Millennium is a full discussion of millennial movements from the Middle Ages to the early Modern era. He points out, as have others, that the Children’s Crusade was led by youth leaders and that these efforts ended badly.

The parallel between the Children’s Crusade of 1212 and the movement that took place  on March 24 is clear. Though directed at an immediate goal–gun control–the Children’s Crusade of 2018 promises to become a powerful and disruptive force in the months and years to come.

Here’s a link to a documentary about the Children’s Crusade of 1212 that provides much of the detail about this type of messianism.

The last youthful eruptions occurred in the 1960s through 1973 and had enormous direct consequences for Hubert Humphrey’s presidential ambitions, the old New Deal coalition of Democrats and all higher education.  This one will  reshape American politics through the end of the 21st century.  Like the others, this Crusade will not bring heaven to earth.