fragments of an attempted writing.

the end....

For a number of reasons, many of which have to do with my entering my last year of nursing school and the demands that entails, I am going to shut this blog down come Jan 1.  I also need to clean up my pixel trails as I get closer to the time when I will be seeking a "real job" again, so I suspect any future blogging endeavors done out and about in the public world of blogging will be done pseudonymously. I hope you each have a spectacular 2012.

Another Romanian carol from my friend Corneliu.  He says this a "very archaic type" of carol which "still survives" in the Balkans.  The content, I'm told, doesn't stress the Christian elements so overtly - perhaps an instance of those older carols where the lines between what was Christian and the old paganisms were thinner.  I don't understand Romanian and don't have the philological skills to assess as much, but from the distance of my intellectual poverty I still find such histories fascinating.

it didn't work then. it won't work today.

I asked my friend Corneliu, a Romanian living in America who is also a communist (as well as an Orthodox Christian), what he thought of this post on Distributism in Eastern Europe.  This is his response:

It has got no chances in today's Romania. This is a pet project of two or three Orthodox intellectuals, two of them living in the US. As the article says Romanian villages are depopulated of young people. I have no statistics but based on w...hat I have seen back home already a very large part of the agricultural land has already been bought by Austrian or Italian speculators "investors" and sits there uncultivated in hopes of being re-sold at higher profit, although the economic crisis now might have spoiled the plans a bit.
Plus even the inter-war land reform as good as it was was still not enough and out of 2.309 mil peasants without land in 1921 only 1.400 millions received some, and only small lots, in general, (well) under 10 ha. I still have grand-parents that remember how life was for a peasant in the inter-war Romania. General poverty, children working both in the fields and, where it was possible, in the factories that sprung up in the country-side (in gp' s village kids worked in a brick factory) or they were sent as servants to the bourgeois the gentry or the few rich peasants. That was the rule, not the exception. G-M tells us that although they worked the little land they had and also in the factory, she couldn't even afford a pair of shoes in winter but was walking barefoot through snow. Illiteracy among the peasantry was really close to 100%.  
Anyways, the point is that, in spite of the abuses that took place during communism, life for people like these only improved after Communism. They succeeded in eliminating most of the crass poverty that was the rule before.  The point is that in the inter-war period the Romanian village was still dominated by Capital.
 It's also ironic that these Romanian distributists are quite anti-Catholic, yet, at the same they claim the heritage of the "National Peasant Party" which was, basically, the Greek-Catholic party of inter-war Romania.  Also, all that theological personalist drivel - how is it going to be translated into concrete politics?

When thinking about the fantastic romanticism involved with applying failed peasant oriented economic programs of the early 20th century to today's economic situation, I am reminded of this bit from Orwell on Chesterton, from Orwell's 1945 Notes on Nationalism:

Ten or twenty years ago, the form of nationalism most closely corresponding to Communism today was political Catholicism. Its most outstanding exponent — though he was perhaps an extreme case rather than a typical one — was G. K. Chesterton. Chesterton was a writer of considerable talent who [c]hose to suppress both his sensibilities and his intellectual honesty in the cause of Roman Catholic propaganda. During the last twenty years or so of his life, his entire output was in reality an endless repetition of the same thing, under its laboured cleverness as simple and boring as ‘Great is Diana of the Ephesians.’ Every book that he wrote, every scrap of dialogue, had to demonstrate beyond the possibility of mistake the superiority of the Catholic over the Protestant or the pagan. But Chesterton was not content to think of this superiority as merely intellectual or spiritual: it had to be translated into terms of national prestige and military power, which entailed an ignorant idealisation of the Latin countries, especially France. Chesterton had not lived long in France, and his picture of it — as a land of Catholic peasants incessantly singing the Marseillaise over glasses of red wine — had about as much relation to reality as Chu Chin Chow has to everyday life in Baghdad. And with this went not only an enormous overestimation of French military power (both before and after 1914-18 he maintained that France, by itself, was stronger than Germany), but a silly and vulgar glorification of the actual process of war. Chesterton's battle poems, such as Lepanto or The Ballad of Saint Barbara, make The Charge of the Light Brigade read like a pacifist tract: they are perhaps the most tawdry bits of bombast to be found in our language. The interesting thing is that had the romantic rubbish which he habitually wrote about France and the French army been written by somebody else about Britain and the British army, he would have been the first to jeer. In home politics he was a Little Englander, a true hater of jingoism and imperialism, and according to his lights a true friend of democracy. Yet when he looked outwards into the international field, he could forsake his principles without even noticing he was doing so. Thus, his almost mystical belief in the virtues of democracy did not prevent him from admiring Mussolini. Mussolini had destroyed the representative government and the freedom of the press for which Chesterton had struggled so hard at home, but Mussolini was an Italian and had made Italy strong, and that settled the matter. Nor did Chesterton ever find a word to say about imperialism and the conquest of coloured races when they were practised by Italians or Frenchmen. His hold on reality, his literary taste, and even to some extent his moral sense, were dislocated as soon as his nationalistic loyalties were involved.
Obviously there are considerable resemblances between political Catholicism, as exemplified by Chesterton, and Communism. So there are between either of these and for instance Scottish nationalism, Zionism, Antisemitism or Trotskyism. It would be an oversimplification to say that all forms of nationalism are the same, even in their mental atmosphere, but there are certain rules that hold good in all cases. 

 Orwell goes on to describe those rules in the essay.

The "a land of Catholic peasants incessantly singing the Marseillaise over glasses of red wine" line strikes to the heart of would-be hobbit politics. It's not that distributists and other third wayers have bad motives necessarily for wanting to have family oriented agrarian societies.  I think some of them, despite their typical middle class levels of consumption, their multiple cars in their households, and their air conditioning and access to quality medical technologies, really do think that they want to live agrarian lifestyles.  In my experience, very few of the people advancing distributism on the public square today have ever actually lived doing subsistence farming or working the land in a sustainable, traditional manner.  In fact, I would say that a minority of the ones I have known have ever done something as relatively simple as have a garden supply more than, say, 20% of their family's caloric intake in a given year.  But still, you can't fault them for getting dreamy between reading Chesterton and watching the next Peter Jackson installment, which they will, out of religious obligation, parse and critique until the horse is so dead that it is now glue.

I used to think of my own childhood in a rather idyllic fashion.  I'm still very thankful for it.  I knew extraordinary people in the rural cultures of my youth - in a place where you could usually only get a couple of TV stations and over an hour away from the closest mall.  But I've needed to remind myself that my family life was stable, and though we struggled with health issues and financial issues and the like, my childhood experiences were not nearly as brutal as many of the people I grew up with - in a county with very high poverty rates, and no shortage of all kinds of abuse, and few jobs.  Everyone my age wanted to get out - college and the military were the ways to do that.  Of those who didn't make it out, it would take me some time to try to count how many of them I know to be dead today - drunk driving, suicide, overdose, violent death, illness, etc.  It was and is a hard place to live, worse today because of cable TV, low wage jobs taking away most of the few decent wage jobs that were left there, and the entrance of meth.

Another thing to think about.  You know all the extraordinary characters in Wendell Berry novels?  I've met people like Old Jack, and I cherish them.  But in the rural parts of my youth their were also a hell of a lot of people like Old Jack's greedy malevolent neighbors.  There were a lot of scumbags, frauds, wasters, cheats, and brutes.  Poverty and insularity are not a good mix.  I sometimes think that the distributist or Berry disciple thinks that the agrarian village of the (no, it can't be) utopian future is going to have a healthy mix of hard working earthy types like unto the "good" Berry characters and those who are more, well, pathetic.  But I'm not sure that is the experience of a lot of people who have lived in rural agrarian cultures.  I'm sure it varies quite a bit from place to place, but I think for a lot of people living in relatively closed small rural communities it was a living hell, and not just because of material reasons, but also because of social realities and limitations, which explains why so many were bent on getting out of there and coming to America or moving to the city, what have you.

Urban life may offer no panacea, for sure, but I think that this notion that a move toward agrarian structures and a heavily localized co-operative system* within cities is based on the sorts of romanticisms that Chesterton suffered from - a man who was famously absent minded and simply had no idea what rural life or factory life was like for the vast majority of people who had to live it.    Hobbit politics requires hobbits, who maybe get in fights in the pub or steal the occasional fireworks, but Tolkien didn't tell us much about what hobbits did to deal with incest, crop losses, agricultural speculation, landowner-worker relations, sex roles within marriage and family, social enfranchisement, murder within the village, social strife and so forth.  It seems hobbits don't have to worry much about these sorts of things, but humans in nearly all societies do.  It's easy to see how a person given to distributism or hobbit politics veers towards fascism when the realpolitik shit hits the fan.  Many modern fascisms have given a rhetorical nod anyway to certain third way or distributist themes.  As capitalism becomes less and less appealing to many people in coming years, including many middle class American Christians looking for something other than economic Darwinism of whatever libertarian variety and other than liberal or socialist bureaucratic forms, one wonders what ideological direction they will tend toward.  A Christian democratic socialism with less of a bureaucratic emphasis?  Perhaps, but there are limitations there as well, and a fair amount of Europe has seen their Christian social dem groups disintegrate or fall from power or political effectiveness in the last generation, and I wonder if it is seen as rather impotent in dealing with late capitalism.  Impotent and capitulating.

*for a Christmas appropriate account of private collectives, which replaced a large government owned apparatus, perhaps not handling things so well see this story.  
I agree with the main point of this little ditty at First Things, but I couldn't help but find juicy the phrase:

The culture may yet be residually Christian in some respects, but that hardly matters when it’s time to go shopping.

Of course I agree that it matters little what music they play on the speakers at Best Buy, and to expect them to play Christian music is silly.  But I do like it when conservative Christians are so rhetorically up front about their shopping having nothing to do with their religion's place within the culture.

A fascinating post, though a year and a half old - Militant Orthodoxy in Georgia.

My understanding was that the Russian political youth organization Nashi, mentioned at the end of the post, is explicitly anti-fascist, though it is a front group for Putin and has been involved in physical conflicts with other political organizations, both communist and liberal, so that would seem to beg the question of what Nashi is if not fascist.

As one commenter on the linked-to thread said, the photo above looks like something out of Flash Gordon.  It's hard to imagine such outfits and silly salutes inspiring anyone, but fascist aesthetics so often rest on, ironically, the caricature of homoerotic parody.

For the record every Georgian I have ever met in person (all here in the States, at least that I know of) has been the furthest thing from a fascist.  But this sort of phenomenon does appear to be on the rise in Eastern Europe.  I wonder if there is any way for traditional forms of Christianity to seek cultural and political influence with any success outside of the patterns of fascism seen in the early 20th century and today.
Ain't capitalism so darn Christmassy?

On a more serious note...  This country doesn't have enough street performers.

X-Mas music for your pleasure.

This song was posted on facebook by a Romanian-American friend of mine who is both a communist and Eastern Orthodox.  Such persons do exist.  What a beautiful carol.

I think I'll get back to books again after the holidays.
I plan on putting more books up, but have been delayed for various reasons.  Hopefully some tomorrow.

runciman on schmitt on hitchens...

“The blustering, obscene, insatiable, limitlessly restless author of Hitch-22 doesn’t come across as much of a priest manqué, not even a whisky priest. What he most resembles, to an almost uncanny degree, is a particular kind of political romantic, as described by Carl Schmitt in his 1919 book Political Romanticism. . . . For Schmitt, political romantics are driven not by the quest for pseudo-religious certainty, but by the search for excitement, for the romance of what he calls ‘the occasion’. They want something, anything, to  happen, so that they can feel themselves to be at the heart of things.As a result, political romantics often lead complicated double lives, moving between different versions of themselves, experimenting with alternative personae. ‘Reversing one’s position between several realities and playing them off against one another belongs to the nature of the romantic situation,’ Schmitt writes.”
- from here.  I read this in the comments on this thread.

Nonetheless I will long remember my old socially conservative but politically anarchist devout Catholic boss, Tübingen trained, Alexander Dru mentored, and as sober an intellectual as you will ever find, gleefully handing me copies of The Nation in the 90s, exhorting me to read Hitchens' column as the old man walked away chuckling to himself.  Tom was the guy who gave me all of his read copies of the TLS and LRB, and really, more than anyone aside from my parents, taught me how to read.  Hitchens was a clown, a quite deplorable clown in many respects, but as long term readers of mine know - I like clowns, especially wind-up clowns.  So cheers to Hitchens in the afterlife!  May he find even more excitement there...
I suppose this is a well known letter in some circles.  It seems vaguely familiar to me but if I'd ever read it I forgot about it until reading this dismal thread today.

Dear Mrs. Rand:
     I am not a professional critic and I feel no call to judge the merits of a novel. So I do not want to detain you with the information that I enjoyed very much reading Atlas Shrugged and that I am full of admiration for your masterful construction of the plot.
     But Atlas Shrugged is not merely a novel. It is also (or may I say: first of all) a cogent analysis of the evils that plague our society, a substantiated rejection of the ideology of our self-styled "intellectuals" and a pitiless unmasking of the insincerity of the policies adopted by governments and political parties. It is a devastating exposure of the "moral cannibals," the "gigolos of science" and of the "academic prattle" of the makers of the "anti-industrial revolution." You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the efforts of men who are better than you.
     If this be arrogance, as some of your critics observed, it still is the truth that had to be said in this age of the Welfare State.
      I warmly congratulate you and I looking forward with great expectations to your future work.
Ludwig von Mises

Bold emphasis mine.  The letter was dated Jan. 23, 1956.  Depending on how loosely we might interpret Mises' use of the word "better" we might agree with him here.  I have antibiotics because people who were better than I at inventing antibiotics invented them.  But given that this letter is written in praise of Atlas Shrugged, I think such a reading of that line would be beyond charitable.  Having in the last couple of weeks read some of the liberal/leftist debate over Corey Robin's book, specifically with regard to the question of what role elitism plays in the conservative tradition, I 

blue labour

It's from this summer but here is an interesting interview covering the subject of Blue Labour, which seems to be just as much a political commodification (a Disneylandish / Whole Foodsish / Etsyian concoction which tries to find a way out of the malaise of late capitalism by spinning certain styles of purported populism) as Red Toryism or Crunchy Conservatism.

maybe it was memphis; ephemera.

At the shop weekend before last I saw K. for the first time since she had her baby.  I've known K since she was 11 or 12 and have worked with her off and on since she was 14 or so.  Named her baby Oscar which is a fine name I think.  Her boyfriend, Oscar's dad, lays carpet for a living, and is a decent kid.  K's dad, S., is the shop mechanic who is deaf and whom I've written a fair amount before on previous blog incarnations.  K's sister is a druggie and has a son, toddler aged, who is being raised by S. and his wife.  S's wife is also deaf.  So K tells me that her nephew talks like he is deaf - he has no cognitive issues and his hearing is fine, but because he spends most of his time around two deaf people, he speaks that way.  K mentioned this to S, suggesting maybe a speech therapist or something, and S told her to shut up, that she was being a bitch.  S has gotten grumpier in his older age, and he was always grumpy. He seems to be drawing further and further inward as the years go by, even less social, less concerned about making terms with the hearing world.  Yet I've seen him with his nephew, whom he clearly loves.  The nephew draws him out a bit.  When you talk to S. about his nephew he lights up, and when a deaf person lights up there is a unique quality to it - the lost faculties from hearing find other outlets, and S can convey with his face and eyes and hands more than most people can with a voice that sounds "normal."  I asked K if she and her siblings talked like that when they were toddlers, since they were also raised by the same two deaf people.  She didn't remember.


We worked one Sunday not too far back and A. got there a little late because he had to drop off his daughter off at church on the way to work.  She goes to church near our shop at this place, which I have also written about before in past blog incarnations:

There is a female preacher at either this church or some church associated with it (A.'s descriptions of the church politics surrounding the folks at the above place of worship are downright byzantine) who preaches a variation on health & wealth theology that I have not encountered before.  A. and I have talked theology in the past (it's Memphis, and we've worked together a long time, so Godtalk eventually just happens), and we both roughly know where the other stands with regard to health & wealth.  A. has a loose institutional connection to faith but he is more or less a believer in a health and wealth theology, at least he is a man who is hedging his bets.  He doesn't go to church much anymore but he sends his teenage daughter and he hopes that her religious actions and faith combine with A's faith without much religious action to eventually bring about financial and health blessings for their family.  A.'s wife has been ill for years and they live in the hood without much money.  The shop's manager had to buy A. glasses so that he could read the scales at work accurately a few years ago and one of the first things you notice about A. is the significant number of teeth he is missing.  The man can't really hide from his poverty.  His wife doesn't work because of her illness but has been unable to get on disability, so their family (I know of at least 5 living in their apartment) survive on Andrew's $14 or so an hour.  Anyway, according to A., this lady preacher at A.'s daughter's church preaches a three tier system when it comes to health and wealth.  There are those that don't have faith in God.  God will not bless them, though they may get blessed by demons or get "natural" blessings not connected to divine intervention.  Then there are two tiers of the faithful.  For most of the faithful, the vast majority, if you have real faith then God will bless you with wealth and health - if your faith is sufficient in degree and sincerity anyway - in other words, if your faith is the really real type.  But then there is the "higher" tier of believers.  This lady preacher teaches that there is a remnant of prophets who, despite their faith in God's blessing, God holds back his blessing in this life upon them - they believe with full and sufficient and sincere faith that God will bless them, but God does not bless them.  According to A.'s daughter's preacher, these are the holiest of the saints/believers.  God uses them basically to test the lesser saints - if they have complete faith and God won't bless them, then why should I believe that God will bless me?  God uses these "perfect" saints who he refuses to bless to test the lesser saints, in order that they might be worthy enough to receive the blessing.  

I find this construction of health & wealth pentecostalism absolutely fascinating - I've never heard of anything like it before.  The perfect in this theology are almost like a Bodhisattva in Mahāyāna Buddhism, except that in this theology they don't seem to choose their status as beings who defer their blessing in order that others may be blessed.  In this form of health and wealth, it seems the most holy are, as it were, cursed in order that the less holy among those who believe can be blessed.   I've long admired this little church for its architecture and now I find that the theology taught there is so interesting.  I asked A. if there was any concrete expression of these tiers among the faithful, if there were persons in the parishes where this is taught who are recognized as being among the holy elite God refuses to bless.  He told me that there were, mostly old ladies who were poor and often in ill health who had been known to have lived holy lives.  Indeed, the preacher lady who teaches this theology is poor herself, and walks with a cane.  What an anomaly in the health and wealth paradigm.  I told A. that I want to meet this preacher lady sometime, and he told me he will introduce me.  I'll report back after that happens.  


So bossman has me help him on the computer from time to time, even though he is only three years older than me and should be perfectly capable of basic computing.  He still gets all sorts of invites from various social media sites, and these often involve a former lover wanting to connect through pixels.  Bossman is not so keen on this as he was, to the surprise of all, married earlier this year, ending, at least for now, his rather stellar career as a player.  He grew up in an old money - lost their money - made their money back elite Memphis family, which once, via his grandfather's side, owned the largest number of slaves in Shelby County.  His parents are "Evangelical Christians" of the sort where faith and class are seamless and indistinguishable, and bossman was sent to one of the better upscale Christian schools in town, where he managed to have a run which later left him bragging about how many good Christian girls' abortions he paid for during his high school tenure.  Anyway, all things being equal, he's as good as a boss as I've ever had (it's his father and senior management at the parent company who are the overt brutes), and time spent with him is never uninteresting. He asked me this week how it was he had the energy for all these women in the past, and I reminded him that cocaine may have been a factor.  My first review on the job, nearly ten years ago now, involved my supervisor, who was then a colossal drinker of the several quarts of cheap vodka per day variety, sitting right next to bossman, who started doing lines any time after lunch.  So, here we are at about 3:45pm, with two guys sitting opposite me with paperwork that critiques my every move for the past 3 months, one of them slipping off of his chair repeatedly and with heavily slurred speech, and the other chattering a mile a minute and looking around frantically and half standing up every ten seconds.  I almost packed up to move back to Minnesota that evening.  I'm glad I didn't though.  

Bossman has married this nice petit-bourgeois professor lady who teaches sexuality in women's literature and such things from what I gather to be something of a Foucaultian perspective.  I like her more than I thought I would.  The joke among some of us who know them is that she married bossman as a part of her research on human sexuality.  In years past bossman used to take me with him, now and again, to showrooms in various places across the country when there was need to do an install of a fixture that required some knowledge of how the fixture is made or something involving a tool.  He also liked to parade me around as the "authentic worker" to salespeople who'd never met a manufacturing worker before - maybe this was supposed to give us a competitive edge against our competitors whose high end products these salespeople didn't associate faces with.  Sometimes he even had me show them pictures of my kids, yeah, pretty cute kids, though the whole thing did leave me feeling like a zoo animal taken on tour, I suppose.  He had his usual women in every city we went to - some were girls he knew from high school (they were all wealthy so many of them, it seems, got out of Memphis and went to more "serious" cities), some from his days as a snowboarder in Aspen, some were just clerks at the showrooms we displayed in.  It was a sight to behold seeing him in action.  Sometimes I'd get left at the bar with the company card when he went off with a conquest in a cab.  It could've been worse.  

books for sale, part three.

Today I offer for sale some titles by Hilaire Belloc (and one journal issue dedicated to Belloc and one bio).

The Jews.  Constable, London, 1922. First Edition; First Printing. Hardcover, 308 pgs.  Bound in red cloth with gilt titles. Spine sunned and rubbed. Small dent on spine as shown above.  Previous owner's bookplate as pictured above. Text is clean and free of marks, binding tight and solid, boards sound.  Overall good condition.  Price $40.00 plus $8.00 S&H.  SOLD

The Four Men: A Farrago.  Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis, 1912.  Hardcover, 310 pages, 4 b&w photo plates (with additional line drawings throughout).  Spine rubbed with slight wear.  Water stains to most pages (note photo above), no mold, water stains don't diminish readability.  Pages clean and tight.  My bookplate.  Overall fair to good condition.  Nice reading copy.  Price $8.00 plus $4.00 S&H. SOLD

Towns of Destiny.  McBride & Co., New York, 1927.  Hardcover, 238 pages w/ many illustrations.  Ex-library copy.  Board cracked between front pages but all pages tight and intact.  Pages clean, normal ex-lib markings.  Fair condition.  Fine reading copy.  Price $5.00 plus $4.00 S&H.  SOLD

Many Cities.  Constable, London, 1928. First Edition; First Printing. Hardcover, 262 pgs, many illustrations.  Bound in blue cloth with gilt titles. Binding tight, boards and spine sound with only very slight wear.  Oxidation especially on front and end papers and on page extremities (note oxidation on title page above - that is worse than on any of the text pages).  My bookplate. Pencil inscription on front page "To [unreadable name] Liverpool March 1928."  Text is clean and free of marks.  Overall good condition.  Price $30.00 plus $8.00 S&H.  SOLD

Richelieu.  Garden City, 1929.  Hardcover, 392 pages, w/ several illustrations.  Dent on front board as seen in photo.  Some exterior stains, wear, and scuffing.  Pages oxidized but perfectly readable, otherwise clean and tight.  My bookplate.  Condition fair to good.  Fine reading copy.  Cost: $3.00 plus $4.00 S&H.  SOLD.

This is the May 1986 issue of the Chesterton Review, which is dedicated to Belloc.  The essays included in it our:  an Intro by Ian Boyd, An Open Letter to Hilaire Belloc by GK Chesterton, An Example of Belloc's Uncollected verse by Belloc, Vote for Chesterton by Gerard Slevin, Hilaire Belloc: Jacobite and Jacobin by John P. McCarthy, Hilaire Belloc by Jane Soames Nickerson, Freedom, Property, and The Servile State by James Schall, S.J., Religion and Politics in Bellocian Biographies by Edwards N. Peters, Hilaire Belloc and the Spanish Civil War by Jay P. Corrin, The Hilaire Belloc Collection at Boston College by Michael H. Markel, and then the Reviews section which deals with things Bellocian.  No other essay I have ever read more convinced me of the sheer and ridiculous idiocy that is Belloc than the one by Corrin here.  141 pages total.  This is an absolute must have for any Belloc fan or distributist.  Price $20.00 plus $5.00 S&H.  SOLD

Old Thunder, A Life of Hilaire Belloc by Joseph Pearce.  Ignatius, 2002.  Hardcover w/ dust jacket.  318pages.  Clean and tight.  Excellent to like new condition.  Price $5.00 plus $4.00 S&H.  SOLD

For buying procedures see this post.

It’s important to look at the link between what post-Keynesians call ‘high-powered money,’ and the military, imperial militaries in particular. The Bank of England for example, was created by a loan to King William III to fight a war in France. He then granted the bankers who lent him the money the right to take the money that he owed them for his war debt and monetise it, to take that debt and lend it to other people in the form of bank notes. That’s what bank notes actually are, why if you take a tenner from your pocket, it has a picture of the Queen, and next to it, ‘I promise to pay’ the bearer the sum of ten pounds. It’s not ten pounds. It’s a promise.

Since 1972 when Nixon went off the gold standard, the world reserve currency has been the US dollar, but what ultimately backs the US dollar? People say nothing, it’s ‘fiat money’ but I don’t think this is true. It’s a credit system based on the circulation of debt. Of course the US has the enormous advantage of being able to write checks that are never actually cashed: US treasury bonds have become the basic reserve currency for the central banks and as Michael Hudson originally pointed out, most of these American treasury bonds are never really cashed in. They’re rolled over year after year to buy new ones, and these holders are taking a loss on them as they pay interest lower than inflation. So why are they doing that? Well, if you look at the size of US deficit it corresponds almost exactly to the real saw military budget. If you look at graphs showing the growth of the US deficit, and the percentage of it held overseas, and the US military spending—basically, you see almost exactly the same curve. So basically, foreign governments and institutional lenders are buying US treasury bonds and paying for this enormous military spending. So, who are the guys doing it? Well during the cold war it was especially West Germany, now, apart from China, the most important are places like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Gulf states. What do these states have in common? They’re all covered in US military bases, or under US military protection. The US is borrowing the money to create these military bases from the very countries that the US military is sitting on top of. In the past, such arrangements were called ‘empires’ and the money sent over was referred to as ‘tribute.’ Now apparently your not allowed to use that language, so it’s called a ‘loan.’ Nonetheless, that link between the military and the core of the financial system remains, it’s the thing we’re not supposed to think about. 

In a way the language we use to describe this in the US or UK is self-evidently absurd. We talk of ‘trade deficits,’ i.e., ‘oh for some reason, people all over the world send us stuff worth far more than anything we send them. Isn’t that a problem?’ If you suggest this has anything to do with the fact that the countries that seem to be getting the inflow of goods (and not getting in trouble for it, anyway), are those which also are massive military powers bestraddling the world, people look at you as if you’re practically lunatic fringe. On some level, of course, everyone does have to admit there’s a link between who is a military power, who consumes the bulk of the world’s resources, and whose money just happens to be the world reserve currency, but it’s somehow taboo to try to work out exactly what those connections are.

- David Graeber, from this interview.   The interview is wide ranging and the best interview with Graeber I've read to date.

Milton, R.I.P.

I had a couple of phone conversations with the guy remembered here a couple years back.  They were extraordinarily interesting conversations.  I got the sense that Milton was, despite his gruffness, hard pressed on the search for human commonality, for connections in our quite different experiences in life.  And like any good writer, he seemed to be hunting for a way to parse my story, to come to some honest and usable terms with it.  As far as I am concerned, that is among the greatest respects anybody can show another human being.

family. feminism. war. other ephemera.

Still sick.  Hope to get back to posting books for sale next week.

This post was in part inspired by a recent event, and in part inspired by reading this.

My dad and I went to an Occupy teach-in last week, on racism and white privilege.  The second half of the event involved a panel discussion, which got kind of awkward when a young black college educated feminist rightfully took to task an older black blue collar male for the misogyny she has known from black males throughout her life, including at the Occupy Memphis site, including from this particular black male worker.   The older black guy had spoken incredibly condescendingly toward the young educated black women to start the panel discussion, and this set up the debate that ensued.

Overall the event, I think, could have been handled a bit better, and the venue (union hall) didn't match the first half of the event (two academics giving an academic style lecture together) and the panel consisted of people who were Occupiers who most other Occupiers there knew didn't get along.  It didn't impress the union brass there - one of the leaders of the local Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) there said "I'm not really inclined to get involved in Occupy Memphis if it means I have to listen to this bullshit."  My dad, whose been to a lot of teach-ins in his day, wasn't much impressed either.

Anyway, during the drive my dad told me something about my mom which I don't think I'd ever heard before.  It turns out when in high school, even though she was a straight A student who excelled at science and math, she wanted to become a beautician.  She wanted this because in the world she knew, a union steel town neighborhood in Canton, Ohio, the only women she knew who owned their owned businesses and had their own means of income were beauticians.  Even though my grandmother was one of the few women in that neighborhood who ever worked outside the home (a part time retail job), my grandfather apparently hadn't liked that experience. He refused to help my mom with the money for beautician school because he thought she should get married to one of the guys going to war (as he had done) and/or then to the shops (as he had done) and keep a house.    My mother told this to her high school counselor, who found out that there were two career paths my mother could choose from which, because of my mother's excellent grades, would require absolutely no financial support from my grandfather - nursing and teaching.  It seems my mother had seen enough of the life of a woman married to a man in the shops who tried but never succeeded to drink away the experience of war - so she got the hell out of dodge, as they say.  I'd never known she had first wanted to become a beautician to earn her freedom.

At the nursing school my mother went to, one of the old 3 year diploma schools, everything was paid for but she was in indentured servitude.  Every article of clothing, every essential of life, right down to feminine hygiene products, was chosen by the school's matrons and there was no variance at all allowed.  The students studied exactly when they were told to study, ate when told to eat, slept when told to sleep, they spent outrageously long hours in the hospital working for no pay (because the teachers at these schools were women who were low paid, and required to be single women who lived in the dorms with the students, the hospitals must have made out well from all of the free labor from students), and they had to do everything exactly as told.  It was like 3 years of being in boot camp.

Maybe that's why my mother then looked at the military.  When my mother got out of nursing school she went into the Navy.  There she thrived - a female lieutenant at 20 years old, she was telling Marine orderlies and Navy corpsman what to do.  But she also went to war, getting sent to Asia at the height of the Tet invasion.

The world my mother came from was very, very conservative by today's standards.  Everyone was a Democrat, and everyone was union, but that mattered little in terms of how women and minorities were treated, and in addition to misogynistic expectations with regard to women's roles there was that unfortunate belief in "America" that was typical of early-mid 1960s American life.  Remember when organized labor sent people to beat the shit out of anti-war protesters, instead of marching with them as we see today at Occupations?  It was the beat the shit out of protester side of organized labor my mother grew up in.  She honors that debt.  I've seen her not cross picket lines in my life when it inconvenienced her, pay her union dues to the most incompetent of unions, and she happily tells the stories of the multiple Chrismastimes in her childhood when the only Christmas presents she and her two sisters received were from the union.

But something happened because of Vietnam.  My mother had to come home for a spell because her mother had suffered a terrible and debilitating aneurysm, and when home mom saw Robert McNamara on TV telling Americans that no U.S. troops were in Cambodia and Laos.  But my mother had zipped the body bags of Marines who had died holding her hand, and she knew, because of the talk of other officers (who probably thought nothing of speaking freely around a cute little nurse, what did she know?) and because of the written euphemisms (which lots of military folk knew to be euphemisms) in paperwork concerning those wounded in which words were changed so that there was no formal record of being wounded in places they weren't supposed to be, that those Marines had been wounded in Cambodia and Laos.

My mother's desire to become a beautician was a natural "feminism" if you will - she had never known or met a feminist at that time and had never read any feminist literature.  I suppose she just didn't want to be owned by a man trapping her in a small blue collar house and forcing her to watch as he played russian roulette with his demons.  She had wanted to avoid patriarchy in the particular then.  But like all the rest of us, she was inclined to believe the myths we'd grown up having around us.  There was order in her world as it was given her, and it ran red, white, and blue.  Our wars were good wars.  The men in charge had good intentions and we should all work together with them.

But when, fresh back from Asia for a spell, she saw McNamara spewing his lies about the boys she had had to watch die, or get stable enough to maybe get back to a VA hospital in the States in order to face more surgeries and life without a limb or limbs, something changed in her, and there sparked a feminism that was more of the metanarrative variety - she wasn't taking any shit from any men anymore.  I wonder if the connection was made then between her particular "natural" feminism of wanting to become a beautician and the feminism which would lead her to become a bra burning ERA supporting feminist.  There she was, watching McNamara on TV with her own father, and perhaps she connected his fear of change, reflected in his inability to support her in her desire to become a beautician, with the fears that war had created in the man.

My grandfather, after his destroyer had been hit with a torpedo in the pacific in WWII, managed to get up from the boiler room where he worked and which was filling with water, and then he was ordered to close a  large seal-able metal door in order to prevent water from rising as quickly in the rest of the ship.  Like a lot of ships in WWII, many of the men on my grandfather's were from the same area - in this case the Ohio Valley hollows of WVA, and some of those guys my grandfather knew were still alive down in that ship were men he'd known for many years.  At first he refused the order, but then an officer put a pistol to his head. He then obeyed the order, leaving for dead men who hadn't made it up yet.  After closing the door he later heard the pounding of men who had made it there late.  Obeying that order haunted him for the rest of his life.  Maybe my grandfather's desire for my mother to please some fellow who came back from war to go to a shop was his own way of trying to appease for the fact that he made it back to have the little house and the wife and the kids and the job at the shop, and men he loved didn't because of an order that couldn't wait a few goddamn more minutes.  I wonder if my mother watched McNamara on the TV, sitting there in the small living room with her father after taking care of her younger sisters when my grandfather couldn't as he faced the new reality of his life with a disabled wife, and maybe glancing over to see her father watching McNamara, perhaps seeing on my grandfather's face his own fear still bent on supporting the myth of the great and holy U.S.ofA., and I wonder if she just decided then and there that these men are all terrified little boys who have royally fucked this world up.

I don't think I'll ever ask her about the details of her trip back from the war because those things are, though decades gone, too close.  My grandfather is dead, and in the end a softness and a humanity took off most of the hard edges.  He cared for my ill grandmother for years after she suffered her aneurysm.   My mom eventually came home and married an anti-war activist with an FBI record a mile long (years later I saw her strength when being bullied by an FBI agent as my dad's record was being thrown in his face, but that's a long story for another day).  I used to ask my mom more of these sorts of questions when I was younger and less familiar with regard to the costs and tolls of a human life.   I don't think my mother needs to be reminded anymore of war - she managed, despite worry, to have her military son not get killed in one in recent years, and for all of my life when waking her from sleep she has awoken startled and gasping for breath, having to do with some unnamed memory.  Not many women I know have taken off in airplanes receiving artillery fire, or seen the gruesome things she has seen.   Anyway, there are some things you don't need to know in order to know.

*The above photograph was taken by Diego Rivera, who as all you Google users know, was born 125 years ago today.  

Happy Repeal of Prohibition Day.  Iechyd da!
I'm still ill, but hope to post more books for sale on here later in the week.

I tried to find something interesting to link to, but after skimming/reading an argument between a guy who thinks that pretty much all 7 billion people alive today are going to be tortured eternally in hell, and a guy who thinks, no, it's only going to be like only 6 and a half billion people that are going to be tortured eternally in hell, I decided I was going to try to find my copy of Saramago's The Gospel According to Jesus Christ for some light afternoon reading.  I also need to read Saramago's last book, Cain, but I haven't had that one in my hands yet.

books for sale, part two.

Ill today so I won't get as many books up as I had hoped.  I'll get back to it seriously next week.

Gertrude Himmelfarb titles.  It seems I still have some conservative readers here, and others interested in conservative thought if only to "know thy enemy" so I thought perhaps someone might take some interest in the work of Irving Kristol's wife.  Here are the Himmelfarbs:

Victorian Minds: A Study of Intellectuals in Crisis and Ideologies in Transition.  Elephant Paperbacks, Chicago, 1995.  Paperback, 392 pages.  Clean and tight.  Small slight dents to paper cover.  Very good condition.  Price $5.00 plus $4.00 S&H.

Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution.  Elephant Paperbacks, Chicago, 1996.  Paperback, 510 pages.  Clean and tight.  Very slight wear to cover.  Very good condition.  Price $5.00 plus $4.00 S&H.

Lord Acton: A Study in Conscience and Politics.Phoenix Books. University of Chicago Press, 1962.  Paperback 258 pages.  Front hinge cracked, first two in papers in tact but half loosened from spine -- all other pages tight and secure.  Slight wear to cover.  Pages clean, with very slight oxidation.  This book is rare enough that it usually goes for over $30 on the used market but because my copy is in fair condition I'll sell it for less.  This is a perfectly sound reading copy however.  Price $17.50 plus $5.00 S&H.

Marriage and Morals Among the Victorians and other Essays by Gertrude Himmelfarb.  Vintage Books, New York, 1987.  Paperback, 253 pages.  Very slight wear to cover, very slight oxidation, minor pencil underlining in initial pages, otherwise clean and tight, very good condition.  Signature of Donald R. Mitchell inside front cover.  Donald Mitchell is the man who set up the C.S. Lewis collection at Wheaton.  I bought this book from him.  Price $3.00 plus $4.00 S&H.

Poverty and Compassion: The Moral Imagination of the Late Victorians.  Vintage, New York, 1992.  Paperback, 475 pages.  Clean and tight, very good to excellent condition.  Price $2.00 plus $4.00 S&H.

On Looking into the Abyss: Untimely Thoughts on Culture and Society.  Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1994. Hardback with dust jacket, 192 pages.  Clean and tight, my bookplate, excellent condition (essentially like new).  Price $4.00 plus $4.00 S&H.

The De-Moralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values.  Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1995.  Hardback with dust jacket, 306 pages.  Clean and tight, my bookplate, excellent condition (essentially like new).  Price $4.00 plus $4.00 S&H.

The New History and the Old: Critical Essays and Reappraisals.  The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge Mass., 1987.  Hardback with dust jacket, 209 pages.  Clean and tight, my bookplate, excellent condition (essentially like new).  Price $4.00 plus $4.00 S&H.

All three of the hardbacks have clear protective removable sleeves over the dust jackets.

If someone expresses an interest before I sell any of these titles, I will sell all of the above as a lot for $33.50 plus $8.00 S&H.

For buying procedures see this post.

Libertarian Bryan Caplan says that “hard-core libertarians’ comparative advantage is to play watchdog for moderate libertarians – and make them seem reasonable by comparison.” You see, on many areas other libertarians secretly agree with us, but they are afraid to acknowledge it openly. Instead, they prefer to let us take the heat for our principled positions, and to wait for us to turn previously “radical” ideas into common sense.

- from part 2 of an excellent "interview."  Part 1 is here.

books for sale, part one.

I have a sick three year old clinging to me so I will only get 10 books up today.

The above monograph is The Crimes of England by G.K. Chesterton.  This is the Second Edition, December 1915 (the first edition was November 1915).  127 Pages.  Publisher info in photo.  This book is in poor to fair condition and I normally don't sell poor condition books but I know that there are collectors out there who would take this copy.  This is an early 20th century European style paperback made at the time when paperbacks not meant for re-binding were just beginning to be sold widely to the general public.  It's almost like a very long pamphlet.  The spine is 1/3 missing and frayed.  The front cover is holding on barely - it may not be attached post shipping.  But all the pages are intact and clean, aside from some oxidation consistent with the book's age.  This book could be repaired and bound in cloth by a competent bookbinder (I always recommend Campbell-Logan Bindery).  The Cecil Palmer & Hayward symbol on both cover and front page is attractive.  Price $25.00 plus $6.00 S&H.

The above monograph is scarce.  A first edition of A Chesterton Calendar, published by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. Ltd., London 1911.  Complied from the Writings of 'G.K.C.' Both in Verse and in Prose.  With a section apart for the Moveable Feasts.  Cloth.  421 pages.  Fair to good condition.  Interior hinges have been taped in the past and re-papered, the hinge in back is cracked but intact, with no abuse to function or the soundness of the binding.  Pages are clean with normal oxidation for a book of this age.  The photo of the exterior pages shows that they are rough cut and purposely irregular - this is how the book was originally bound - the exterior side and bottom of the pages are rough cut, the top is smooth and gilt, though the gilt is slightly faded.  My bookplate on interior front board.  The book has removable protective plastic on it (not pictured, I removed it temporarily because of the glare).  All in all this book is in good condition for it's age and would make any GKC collector quite happy.   Price $60 plus $10 S&H.  SOLD

The above monograph is a first edition of The Party System by Hilaire Belloc and Cecil Chesterton.  Scarce.  Cecil was GK's brother and the most, shall we say, aggressive of the early distributists.  Published by Stephen Swift, London, 1911.  Cloth, 226 pages and 2 publisher's advertisements.  Slight crack to front hinge, with binding sound and all pages tight and intact.  Good to very good condition.  This book lacks the dust jacket that originally dressed the monograph when sold from publisher.  Pages are clean with normal oxidation for a book of this age.  My bookplate on interior front board, as well as the signature, in what appears to be fountain pen ink, of a certain Gordon MacDonald, which from the apparent age and sophistication does not appear to be the signature of the famous Evangelical pastor of the same name, who had an affair at what perhaps should have been the height of his career, had he not gone on to make a fortune in books and speaking tours promoting his repentance such that he became even more famous as a professional repenter - no friends, I am confident this is the pen of a different Gordon MacDonald.  An excellent collector's copy.  Price $90.00 plus $10.00 S&H.

The above monograph is The Contrast by Hilaire Belloc.  This is Belloc's book which compares the U.S. with Britain.  If you are in one of those U.S. hating moods (about the last decade or so for me), this will serve you well.  Robert M. McBride & Company, New York, 1924.  Cloth.  267 pages.  Ex-lib with library markings throughout - "Property of Catholic Library... Hartford, Conn."  Former dust jacket glue stains on interior front and back covers.  Glue stain on spine from a library sticker no longer present.  Excerpt of a description of book glued to interior front board, my bookplate on interior back board.  Top and bottom of spine very slightly frayed.  Overall good ex-lib condition.  Price $15.00 plus $5.00 S&H.

For some reason the photo didn't turn out well on this one, it looks in the photo like it might have water damage on the front bottom right of the board, but in person it's just that the cover is slightly wrinkled, appropriate to its age.  I think the light in the photo makes it look weird in a way that it doesn't in person, and I am too lazy to take another picture, in part because I am such a horrid photographer I probably won't do any better the second time around.  The above monograph is the first American edition of Utopia of Userers and Other Essays by Gilbert K. Chesterton.  One of the other essays is "A Workman's History of England" which is something of an outline of what GKC wanted to see in a then unpublished book he imagined covering the history of workingmen in England.  That essay causes me to wonder what GKC would have thought of E. P. Thompson's magisterial Making of the English Working Class had GKC lived to see that work (which only covers the 1790s through 1840s, but still).  The above book is Boni and Liveright, New York, 1917 (hell of a year to be publishing books on the evils of usury, eh?).  Cloth.  217 pages.  Cover is slightly wrinkled from age with slight fraying at spine ends and corners.  Pages are clean and tight, with normal oxidation for a book of this age.  My book plate on front interior board, as well as the signature of Malachy T. Mahon, 1953 on the opposing page.  I wonder if this book was in the hands of this guy when he was a young man.  Anyway, this copy of Utopia of Userers and Other Essays is in good to very good condition overall, and would make any GKC collector or distributist collector a happy soul.  Price $50.00 plus $7.50 S&H.

The above book is The Restoration of Property by Hilaire Belloc.  Sheed & Ward, New York, 1936.  Cloth.  144 pages.  No dust jacket, but an extraordinarily clean, tight copy.  Very slight oxidation of pages, less than one expects from a book of this age.  My bookplate in front board.  Ends of spine and edges of boards show very slight wear.  Otherwise very good to excellent condition.  Price $30.00 plus $5.00 S&H.

The above monograph is the first American edition of Eugenics & Other Evils by G.K. Chesterton.  Scarce.      Dodd, Mead, & Company, New York, 1927.  Slight crack in front pages, though binding is sound and pages are tight.  Clean copy, with normal oxidation for age.  Slight scrape on exterior of pages, though this is only noticeable because they were published with a rough cut - does not affect the integrity of the pages.    Very slight fraying at top end of spine and slight wear to cover.  My bookplate in front board.  Otherwise good to very good condition.  This is an excellent collectors copy.  Compare my copy to this one, which appears to be in only slightly better condition.  Price $65.00 plus $10.00 S&H.

The above work is volume 6 of The Catholic University of America Studies in Christian Antiquity, edited by Johannes Quasten.  It is The Attitude Towards Labor in Early Christianity and Ancient Culture by Arthur T. Geoghegan.  CUA Press, Washington, D.C., 1945.  Paper (the binding is typical of an American dissertation published by an academic press during that period), 250 pages with 6 black and white plates.  Cover frayed at all edges and with slight dent on front.  Pages clean and tight with very slight oxidation.  Otherwise good condition.  Price $25.00 plus $6.00 S&H.

The above title is a dissertation, but one which will be of great interest to most distributists. Foundations of A Modern Guild System by Rev. Harold Francis Trehey, M.A.  CUA Press, Washington, D.C. 1940.  Paper, 204 pages.  The book is inscribed to the Rev. Father Robert McEwen, S.J., with best wishes, by a certain L. Arent, who leaves her West 121 St. NYC address.  Perhaps she had her name and address in there before she intended to give the book to our Jesuit.  Then again, we are talking about a Jesuit here, so perhaps the address was an invitation.  In any event. the book is a typical dissertation style paperback, frayed at edges, small portion of bottom spine missing.  Pages tight, normal oxidation.  Some underlining and marking, though minimal and unobtrusive, mostly in light colored pencil.  Chapters include The Principle of Libery, Other Principles (which includes sections on the Principle of Subsidiarity and the Principle of General Welfare, among others), The Medieval Guilds, the Union (with a subsection titled The Union - the Foundation of the Guild Structure), The Joint Council and Collective Agreements, Public-Legal Status, The Guild, Some Existing or Proposed Guilds, The Guild and the State, Guild Autonomy in a Legitimately Constituted State, Building the Guild Structure, and a Conclusion.  It's a pretty fascinating work from a distributist perspective.  Fair to good condition (probably good to very good for a dissertation of this age - the paper "binding" is very thin).  Price $30.00 plus $5.00 S&H.

The last work for sale today is that classic work of distributist thought, The Servile State, by Hilaire Belloc.  This is the first American edition.  Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1946.  Cloth, 189 pages.  There are library stamps that convey "Library - St. Francis School - Todt Hall" and there is minor residue left from the library card slip on the back board.  Usual slight oxidation.  On back exterior board there is a 3 3/8" black line which looks like it may have resulted from an an encounter with black chalk or something of the sort.  The book has a removable clear plastic protective cover. Otherwise clean, tight, very good condition.  This is an excellent reading copy and slightly collectible being the first American edition.  I haven't seen very many 1946 editions in this good of shape hence the length of time this one stayed in my collection.  Price $25.00 plus $5.00 S&H.

For buying procedures see this post.

The S&H costs are higher with some of the more expensive books because I use more protective materials with those books and I get insurance.

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have.  I may get another decade of books up tomorrow, otherwise it will be Thursday when the next book selling post goes up.

Lastly, I am very keen on describing the faults of the books I sell, so that there are no issues upon receipt of purchase.  Please take that into consideration when reading my descriptions.


book procedures..

I've decided to just go ahead and sell the books I have to sell here instead of spending the time to create another site.  Before I start, some protocol:

I am including here pictures of my two bookplates found in many of my books.  From here on out, if I mention a book having "my bookplate" in it, it has one of the two pictured above.  

Buying procedure:

If you are interested in any of the above, please contact me at owenandjoy at bellsouth dot net.  I will sell these on a first come, first served basis.  I will be accepting payments through a simple PayPal "send money" system, which you can do here, but don't send me any money until I have confirmed to you that you contacted me first with an intent to buy an item or items.  If you purchase books and find them unsatisfactory in any way you can return them for a full refund, including shipping costs, so long as you let me know within 2 weeks of the date I ship them to you.  All shipping will be via the postal service unless you want to pay me more to ship them UPS.  I have packed many books for shipping in my lifetime (when I started working at Loome Theological Booksellers I began in the shipping department), and I assure you that you will be satisfied with the care I take in packaging these tomes.

post-ochlophobic book sale....

Starting tomorrow, hopefully, I'm about to sell another batch of books.  Need cash to buy an alternator for the car and some decent whiskey and whisky for my dad and I to drink come Christmas.  So what's up next is a bunch of ChesterBelloc (including some first editions -- for instance, a first edition All Things Considered and a first edition A Chesterton Calendar, as well as a first edition of Belloc's The Jews) and Distributist titles (including some rare things), with some Gilson, Gertrude Himmelfarb, books by and about Voegelin, a couple of first edition Robert Penn Warrens, books by and about Michael Polanyi, and a few other things.

These will be sold via posts with 10-20 books per day going up.  I may add some other significant portions of my library if I get the sense that they might sell.

I am thinking I may start a new blogger blog just to sell books on, and keep the sales off of here.  Obviously I'll provide the link if I do that.  I will get word out through my usual channels but if you know of anyone who collects ChesterBelloc, Warren, or Distributist things, or anything else above mentioned, please direct them my way.

I went through most of the books that have been in boxes for years today.  It was an odd experience - seeing and holding books and remembering those points in my life when I read that book or was given it or the thrill of finding it in some bookshop, and so forth.  The books with alcohol stains and bits of tobacco in them were clearly the most loved (don't worry - I don't sell those titles - the ones I'm selling are clean).  I have this cheap Penguin Mabinogion that my friend Mark gave me just before he died, his grandfather had given it to him and his grandfather's signature is in this book.  It looks like absolute hell but I think it might be among the last 10 books I would ever get rid of.


swat, take one.

You might be doing something right when the smuggard drone who writes:
Just because someone is pro-life doesn’t mean they reject a robust social structure to provide assistance to these women. But that has to be balanced with the fact that the state shouldn’t be in the business of subsidizing out-of-wedlock births, and so when speaking about addressing these matters, a lot of other instruments have to come into play. The death penalty for any man who seduces a woman might be a good start. [emphasis mine, and no surprise there, as our enlightened one seems to have been struggling with Oedipal tensions for some time.  Revolutionary violent rhetoric = dangerous; kill absentee father rhetoric = OK.]
then goes on to assert:

...for those who are participating [in the Occupy movement] in the name of some “revolution” or, worse, using website and blogs to revel in the carnage they have created — as if being a blogging blowhard who decorates their site with “revolutionary imagery” and issues forth morally idiotic rhetoric contributes to “the movement” — there is a pathology infecting their worldview which is not only detestable, but disturbing.
and from the thread of the same post:
I find that a lot of the blog coverage of the “Occupy” movement, particularly by so-called “Marxists,” “anarchists,” and other “revolutionaries,” are packed to the brim with moral idiocy. 
Well, of course.  No doubt he reads a great many Marxist, anarchist, and "revolutionary" blogs.

Any rhetorical exchange with our reactionary gnat, whether actual or monologued (as is increasingly the case with him), results in his opponents getting Strauss'd.  Take for instance this diatribe from the same thread as above:

To the best of my knowledge (which, I confess, is incomplete), most of the “Occupy” crowd or even its self-apointed “spokespersons,” haven’t offered up a credible critique of “the 1%” beyond restating, over and over, the empirical fact that they control a supermajority of the wealth in the United States. Serious analysis of why there are massive wealth disparities (along with other imagined and real problems) isn’t necessarily beyond the “Occupy” movement, but it hasn’t taken center stage either. Maybe it doesn’t have to. Perhaps empirical facts which carry with them an intuitive sense of being “unfair” is enough to motivate those with either: A) Nothing better to do; B) Concrete economic problems of their own; or some combination/nuance of either (or both) to rally together for some ill-defined cause. But beyond engaging in public fornication, littering some parks, and dabbling in a bit of property damage here n’ there, I’m not sure the “Occupy” movement has done much of anything. I suspect most people are aware that there are massive wealth disparities in the U.S. and that this disparity has only increased over the last several decades. However, few people understand “why” (or are on board with enough of the literature to come up with some plausible hypotheses as to “why”). Too much of the Leftist “critique” hinges on the childish notion that there is some cabal out there which holds all of the chips and isn’t letting go. When you present them with evidence that the top 1-2% of wealth holders in this country do not constitute a static lot, they throw fits and, after a great deal of rhetoric, basically claim that the data is fudged (without offering up contrary data). Such is the way of ideologists.
I still tend to hold, with some serious caveats, to the view that state intervention and regulation is a stronger contributing force to the current composition of wealth distribution and corporatism in this country than the (semi-mytic) “free market.” An unregulated market is not going to solve all of the country’s woes, but the libertarians — whether the sort you see hanging around the Cato Institute or on the fringes of “localist” movements — have at least offered a plausible academic argument why rolling back state intervention in the market will reduce the power “big business” (loosely defined) wields in the country while opening up new opportunities for entrepreneurs (including “small businesses”). Unfortunately, when it comes to breaking up “state monopolies” and “regulated cartels,” too much emphasis is placed on labor unions and agriculture (both of which function that way today). It takes the eye off of other balls, ranging from, say, the international airline industry (which today functions as a massive cartel that cuts across borders) to energy production to finance. However, the unions don’t do themselves any favors, particularly when they use their concentrated lobbying power in concert with private industry to rig the game in their favor (e.g., automotive bailouts). 
It's interesting to read the elitism here at the same time as I am reading Corey Robin's The Reactionary Mind. I think our reactionary gnat may be the perfect expression of Robin's thesis, right down to his being a non-Spanish speaking Hispanic who prides himself for his enlightened conservative views held in an academic environment that he finds hostile to them. There is something downright conradian about it all, and Robin handles competently this sort of phenomenon.

Confessions of incomplete knowledge have never been an impediment to this guy.  Why even bother confessing?

O my!  The average protester in a movement which has now involved hundreds of thousands in the U.S. and millions worldwide does not employ a sophisticated critique of economic and political realities sufficient to be deemed "credible" by our libertarian young lawyer who likes to quote Epstein and whose canon includes Strauss, Voegelin, and Schmitt!  Say it ain't so!  I suppose there should never be any mass protest in the mind of our reactionary gnat.  But then I wonder what he thinks of the fairly large pro-life protests in Washington, DC each January 23rd.  Most protesters there say very simplistic things about conception, life, babies in the womb, etc.  Few have ever looked at the arguments made in Roe vs. Wade, few could articulate the differences in approach between U.S. and most European abortion policies, few have ever touched let alone read a copy of Human Life Review, few are aware of the leftist pro-choice arguments against Roe vs. Wade, and I wonder how many of them know that Margaret Sanger was against abortion, as was Planned Parenthood when Sanger was in charge of it?

To be sure, the conservative adoption of leftist methods, such as mass political protests, does seem to go against certain conservative principles, such as the rule of an elite - I think Robin does a good job of explaining the interplay between elitism and populism in the conservative movement - but I could also see how a conservative fan of Schmitt and Voegelin might detest any mass protest, so who knows in this case?   Though our reactionary gnat has in the past expressed sympathies with the tea-party movement, so it seems that he is not completely hostile to mass actions, though perhaps he views the tea party mass actions as justified because they are paid for and promoted by an economic elite.

Whatever his views on mass protest, it would seem apparent that our reactionary gnat thinks that people should be content to remain within their station and do as they are told by an elite.  Perhaps because if they arise in mass protest there will be the "danger" of revolutionary rhetoric, there will be disruptive actions which could lead to further disruptive actions, there will be inchoate expressions of "the cause," there will be articulations which are not credible in the light of academics, and while these protests will likely be nothing more than an annoying waste of time and resources, if they do result in anything that result will likely effect the "wrong" targets and achieve counterproductive ends.  Fine and well then.

Every rhetorical turn with the gnat seems to go like this one - "When you present them with evidence that the top 1-2% of wealth holders in this country do not constitute a static lot, they throw fits and, after a great deal of rhetoric, basically claim that the data is fudged (without offering up contrary data)."  Really.  I wonder when gnat had this exchange and with whom.  I was in an exchange with him regarding this very issue once, but that must not be the one he is talking about here.  In my exchange with him on this issue, the "data" involved flat assertions made by Epstein based on a study that was of no more academic caliber than the sort of thing that Krugman and Wolff use all the time.  And I didn't deny that of course people go in and out of the 1% in terms of income.  People retire.  People get one time inheritances.  People get occasional golden parachutes.  I have never heard any intellectual among the Occupiers or those in sympathy with them argue that the 1% constitute a static group.  Of course the 1% is seen as an imprecise target on the part of Occupiers, hell, look at the very popular site in which 1%ers proclaim support of the 99%er movement.  Look at the number of Occupiers who talk about the wealth concentration of the top 0.1% and pass around articles like this one.  Further, among a growing number of Occupiers one hears rhetoric that the real divide is more accurately found somewhere around 80%.  But any popular movement is going to have to find images and language that works broadly and efficiently and the 99% moniker works about as well and about as accurately as the political designations pro-life, pro-choice, less government, no new taxes, states' rights, pro-slavery, abolitionist, anti-war, and so forth.  All of these terms are vague, all of them involve an oversimplification, a momentary overlooking of various contradictions and complexities for the sake of political causes and organization and brevity when discussing politics or agitating for or against something.

I've never heard anyone suggest that data which shows that people go in and out of the 1% is flawed because it suggests people go in and out of the 1%.  The obvious question is where the people going in and out of the 1% are coming from.  Who gets those inheritances, those golden parachutes, those stock market windfalls, those huge CEO bonuses?  Is access to the 1% easier or harder for someone with an IQ of 140 coming from a lower middle class background or someone with an IQ of 140 coming from poverty or someone with an IQ of 140 coming from the top 10% (I note IQs here not because I believe any given measure of IQ represents an efficiently workable social designation but only for the sake of argument)?  How many people who, any given year, get into the 1%, came from families that had previously had 1% years?  How many had previously been in the top 5%, the top 10%, how many grew up in families that were in the top 5% and top 10%?  The gnat's assertion here is meant to suggest that there is fluidity in the 1% and thus access to it that is relative to some egalitarian standard - at least perhaps egalitarian in the meritocratic sense or the market sense of having succeeded fairly in the market.

I have a distant relative who grew up working class and now makes shitloads of money on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.  He's a top 3%er and he got access to this income because he was a jock in a fraternity for athletes in college and several buddies of his from there - all good looking, tall guys used to being surrounded by women and the air of success - got brought in to a particular firm.  I'd be surprised if my relative has an IQ of higher than 105 or so.  He is, however, an example of somebody who went from a bottom 50% background to the top 3%.  Robin in his book deals with the fact that the elite in modernity has always made use of fresh blood and fresh faces, and he notes how the occasional outsider being elevated into the elite often helps emphasize the eliteness of the elite - one of the factors in play is that it is often the new face that is the most militant about protecting the elite's interests and advancing the whole notion of the rule of the elite (think Disraeli, etc.) and the fact they they deserve to rule and their subjects deserve to be ruled.  What centralized elite does is not dynamic to some degree?  Hell, after Stalin took over he assassinated the former Bolshevik leaders and created an all new elite group of rulers in Russia, but no conservative I know suggests that this dynamic change in the elite in Russia meant that there was not a real elite with real power.  Cabals are often transient institutions.  Look at mafia organizations.  Their leadership and membership often change frequently, for obvious reasons (death, imprisonment, etc.), yet the social function of the cabal and its power often remains relatively consistent over periods of time.

My wife has some friends who grew up in lower middle class homes in rural WI.  In the conversation I had with them upon our first meeting, the male of the couple explained to me that he was majoring in computer science in order to make vast wealth because he believed that Christians who were able had a responsibility to make as much money as possible because we were entering a time in which something akin to slavery (his word) was going to re-assert itself as social phenomena and basically the world would be divided between a 10% of masters and a 90% of slaves and we needed to have as many Christian masters as possible.  His view, and the fact that he thought he could be among the masters (which he now is, he just returned to WI after a decade and a half away, returning a multi-millionaire), suggests that a static vs. dynamic 1% or 10% is not really the issue.  The question is the relationship between the elite and their, to use a gnat's terms, social subordinates.  The question is what social, political, and economic power the non-elite have in public institutions and in their workplaces, schools, civic groups, families, etc.

These observations are not particular to me, I suspect most Occupiers who have ever been presented with "data" about a dynamic 1% will tell you something along these lines.  But the point isn't about actual convictions or actual observations, it's just about our reactionary gnat's use of imaginary conversations to advance his repetition of a grossly populist, and trinketly elitist caricature of Occupiers (yours truly shares some of his experiences with Occupiers here).  In the second paragraph above the gnat does his routine song and dance - he makes assertions about the economy which insist upon libertarian theses.  He insists that these are plausible and academic without ever referencing academic studies or making an argument as to how they are actually plausible, and then he contrasts this "plausible and academic" libertarian insight with the caricature of leftist populisms.  This from the guy who presents PBS interviews and papers from Epstein - all of which thus far have involved Epstein doing little to nothing more than repeating libertarian talking points - as if the points raised by Epstein have not been repeatedly responded to by Krugman, Wolff, and a number of other economists, who also have data supporting their positions.  It's not that I have a problem with Epstein's third tier level of economic analysis being presented publicly, it's just that it's ridiculous posturing to poise this against more imprecise and overtly populist expressions from the other side.  One might as well present Krugman against Sarah Palin and suggest - "see, our side wins."  Of course this gnat has a fondness for saying that he just "has yet to encounter any serious analysis from" the perspective of x  position he disagrees with.  And of course he never will.

Years ago I was sitting in the office of my mentor when a guy who just graduated from Boston College came in.  This BC grad had done a degree in political science under some Straussians.  BC grad's dad was on the faculty of the same institution as my mentor.  My mentor had just become involved in an organization that this BC grad was entering.  So BC grad goes right up to my mentor, a rather accomplished anthropologist, and the first words out of his mouth were "I just want you to know that I know that your social science ideology is bullshit."  In several later conversations with BC grad I came to appreciate the astounding pomposity of the young man, the unrivaled parochial nature of his many intellectual disdains, and the unmatched confidence the man had in dismissing others for making the exact same intellectual moves he did.  Every time I read gnat, who of course is too good and intellectually pure to even admit that he is a Straussian, I am reminded of that first encounter I ever had with a Straussian.  They are all the same prior to age 45, and of course the only interesting ones were/are gay.  They like to appeal to the scholarly discipline of prior ages in a pedantic manner, they have a fetish for European intellectual standards prior to WWII which is romantic, they read just enough material from outside their accepted canons to appear to be engaging contemporary thought even though their readings are so manifestly hack jobs couched in an outline of analysis (the form of critical analysis if you will) so as to appear serious (how so much like the work of those they detest), and they get most agitated when encountering social and intellectual phenomenon which occurs outside of the realm of influence or would-be influence of themselves or their Straussian cohorts.

And this is what, I suspect, really bothers gnat with regard to the Occupy movement and the myriad of intellectual discussions it has wrought, by people from a wide array of perspectives, in the U.S., Canada, Europe, the whole world.  Gnat doesn't have anything to do with it, he has no association with it at all or anything remotely close to it (his attempts at times to pull out his familiarity with leftist activism by pointing out his past as a member of a students-against-sweatshops group at a college in the middle of Michigan notwithstanding).  Nor do those very few other minds in gnat's intellectual playground who he happens to trust.  He has no intellectual point of entry that is viable for him.  He can only bitch and whine like that audio clip of (was it?) Voegelin going after the "radical" female student at a lecture at U of Chicago, or like grumpy old Solzhenitsyn furious that the U.S. was not putting down Vietnam War protesters.   All the while, as usual, gnat reveals to those who have spent serious time at Occupations and among Occupiers that he hasn't a damn clue what he is talking about.  True to form.