Lazy Sunday XCII: Questions, Part II

We’re continuing this Sunday with more posts that pose questions.  Here’s three more for your inquisitive pleasure:

  • TBT: What is Popular Sovereignty?” (Originally posted on the old Blogspot page) – This old post came about as a response to a friend (now a full-blown progressive who won’t talk to me anymore) who preferred technocratic rule to popular rule.  It’s a (hopefully) nuanced exploration of the role of the people in government, and when certain roles should be delegated to qualified pros.
  • TBT: Third Party Opportunity?” (Originally posted on the old Blogspot page) – Back in 2016, there was a good bit of scuttlebutt about the possibility of a third-party candidate picking up support from moderate Democrats (which even then had largely ceased to exist) and Never Trump Republicans.  The Libertarian Party saw a boost in party membership, but I correctly predicted that Gary Johnson, the goofy, pot-addled nominee for the Libertarians, would not win any electoral votes.  I don’t discount third parties entirely these days—I think they could be effective at the local level—but the Republican Party seems like the natural vehicle for populist ideas, not some third-party lacking in institutional and organizational structure.
  • Reblog: Conan the Southerner?” – One of many great reads from the Abbeville Institute, this piece looked at an Abbeville Institute post, “Conan the Southerner?,” that explored the Texan roots of Conan’s creator.  Conan’s free, warlike ethos, the author claims, stems from his creator’s Southern roots.

Here’s hoping those questions answered some things for you.  More to come!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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Big Deal

A big story in media this week is Joe Rogan, host of the popular podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, has signed an exclusive deal with Spotify that could be worth over $100 million.

Joe Rogan’s podcast has been around since 2009, and features long (two hours or more) interviews with personalities from every background and occupation.  The long-ranging, free-flowing conversations (really, they’re more conversations than traditional interviews) make for great listening, and I suspect part of the key to Rogan’s success is that he offers something for everyone.  For example, I ignore most of Rogan’s content, but I’ll never miss an interview he does with any of the various figures on the Right, from Ben Shapiro to Gavin McInnes (persona non grata from Rogan’s show these days, unfortunately).

McInnes describes Rogan as a man with a “blue-collar brain,” but who is generally open to learning.  That is, he’s rather meat-headed and unsophisticated in his analysis, but he’s willing to discuss anything with anyone (Flat Earthers, for example, are regulars on his show).  His only real sticking point, until the SJWs targeted him, was marijuana.  He lost it on Steven Crowder for merely suggesting that copious consumption of marijuana isn’t completely benign.  Yikes!

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The Enduring Legacy of Milton Friedman

One of the major debates on the Right over the past year or so has been the efficacy of libertarianism.  Part of that debate arises from disagreement about the role of government:  should it attempt to be neutral, as libertarians argue (which, we have seen, it is not), or should it act in the “common good” (or, as the Constitution puts it, the “common welfare”)?  In a world in which the Left wins victory after victory in the long culture wars, the assumptions of the “New Right” that arose following the Second World War are increasingly called into question.

Among those assumptions are libertarian economics.  Increasingly, conservatives are adopting a more suspicious view of concepts like supply-side economics and free-market capitalism.  That suspicion is not because capitalism is a failure, per se, but because it is almost too successful:  the wealth and prosperity it brings have also brought substantial social and cultural upheaval.  Because capitalism is an impersonal and amoral system, it doesn’t make value judgments about what is “good” or “bad” in the context of marketplace exchanges.  The Market itself is the highest “good,” so any hindrance to its efficiency is bad.

Ergo, we see arguments in favor of legalized prostitution, legalized hard drugs, legalized abortion, etc.  Again, if market efficiency is the greatest good, then why not allow these “victimless” activities?

Of course, unbridled libertarianism is doomed to fail, especially as it scales up.  Legalized hard drug use might keep junkies out of prison, but we don’t want heroine addicts buying their next hit at the grocery store.  Prostitution destroys families and the lives of the women (and men) involved, and spread disease.  Abortion is straight-up murder.

Capitalism cannot sustain itself in a vacuum.  It needs socially conservative behaviors and attitudes to sustain it.  If one wanted to live in a stateless libertarian paradise, one would need a small, tight-knit community in which everyone bought into the non-aggression principle and agreed to be honest in business dealings.  But as soon as one person decided not to abide by the unwritten social code, the entire experiment would unravel, like that scene in Demolition Man when the effeminate police force doesn’t know how to use force to subdue a violent criminal.

But for all of those critiques, capitalism remains the best system we’ve ever developed.  I agree with Tucker Carlson that the economy is a tool, not an ends to itself, but if government interferes too much with the tool, the tool is no longer effective.  If anything, the economy is a chainsaw:  too much regulation and the engine stalls and the blades become dull due to misuse and neglect; too little regulation and you lose an arm (or your life), even if you cut down a ton of trees in the process.

One of the most powerful books I ever read was Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom (1962).  It transformed the way I viewed the relationship between the government and economics.  Friedman would have a huge impact on my life and my thought.  While I don’t agree with all of his conclusions, I still largely accept his conclusions.

Friedman was a minimalist when it came to government power, but he still recognized some role for government:  maintaining the national defense, combating pollution, and fighting against infectious diseases.

Here is a 1999 interview with Milton Friedman, from the excellent Uncommon Knowledge series, hosted by Peter Robinson.  It highlights some common objections to libertarian economic ideas, as we as Friedman’s thoughtful, nuanced responses:

For what it’s worth, I’ll add that Peter Robinson is a fantastic interview.  He possesses that perfect quality in an interviewer:  he doesn’t steal the limelight.  I grew so weary of Eric Metaxas‘s interviews, not because his guests were uninteresting—he has great guests!—but because he can’t help but talk over them constantly (his penchant for campiness also goes a bit overboard, and I love that kind of cheesy stuff).  After listening to some of Peter Robinson’s interviews Sunday afternoon, I never found myself wishing he would shut up—always a good sign.

Regardless, these are some weighty issues.  I have been hard on libertarians over the past year because I think they tend to reduce complex issues to supply and demand curves, and I can’t help but notice how we keep losing ground in the culture wars by espousing endless process and slow persuasion (which seems to be stalling in its effectiveness).

On the other hand, I’m glad that conservatives don’t wield power the way progressives do; as Gavin McInnes once put it in a video (one I would never be able to locate now) after the 2016 election, Trump and conservatives have sheathed the sword of power.  Progressives, masters of psychological projection, expected Trump to come out swinging, because that’s what they would do.

I just don’t know how long we can delay them from swinging the sword again, and after Trump’s unlikely victory (and his likely reelection), I imagine progressives will no longer even engage in the pretense of even-handedness and fair play:  they will crush us relentlessly if given the chance, rather than face an uprising again.

Libertarianism doesn’t have the answer to what to do to prevent that scenario.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure any faction on the Right does—at least not in any way that is palatable.

Thanksgiving Week!

It’s Thanksgiving Week!  November is flying by; Halloween Week (and Halloween!) seem like yesterday.  Yesterday was a crisp, autumnal day, a brief respite of warmth before cold weather returned to South Carolina this morning.

As a teacher, one of my favorite “weeks” of the school year is this one.  I put “weeks” in quotation marks because, from a teaching perspective, this isn’t truly a “week,” or even a “short week” (four days, such as the Labor Day holiday early in the academic year).  Instead, it’s two days of either cramming in tests and material, or of laconically drifting into the glorious Thanksgiving Break.

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TBT: Election Day 2018

Two days ago I wrote about Election Day 2019, and posted results yesterday.  In selecting this week’s #TBT, then, I thought I would look back to November 2018 to see what I’d cooked up.

Boy, were the pickings slim.  Other than the post below, I reblogged my annual Thanksgiving message, and posted a Veterans’ Day talk I delivered to the local Republican Party.  I’d really let the blog slide as I dove into another busy school year.

It’s amazing how quickly time flies.  Not only did losing the House “stymie” President Trump’s agenda; they’re straight-up impeaching him—their plan all along.  We managed to hold onto the Senate, but by a slimmer margin than I hoped.  I also don’t trust Mitt Romney for a minute, so I think we can slot him in with the Democrats.

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Election Results 2019

Yesterday Lamar, South Carolina held elections for Town Council.  Since our local paper doesn’t seem to be putting the results online, I thought I would post them here.

I drove by Town Hall last night to check the results, but they were still working on finalizing the results when I drove by, and I lacked the will to drag myself out of the house again.  But I swung by this morning and photographed the official receipt from the machine, as well as the handwritten results (akin to a student council election), which were posted to the front door:

My strategy of voting for the challengers in a “Jacksonian spirit of rotation in office” failed, as the two incumbents sailed to reelection.  As such, Town Council is unchanged.

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TBT: More Never Trump Treachery

With all the impeachment talk swirling, I thought it would be worth it to look back at a piece I wrote in May, focusing on squishy Michigan Congressman Justin Amash, the so-called “libertarian Republican,” as an example of the kind of bitter Never Trumpery that is champing at the bit to see President Trump impeached.

At that time, Amash argued that President Trump’s conduct was impeachable—not any actual crimes he committed, just that the way he comports himself is impeachable.  This claim coming from a guy who allegedly supports the Constitution.

Acting like a boor is not an impeachable offense.  It falls well below the bar of “high crimes and misdemeanors” set by the Constitution.  Further, President Trump’s phone calls to the Ukraine and Australia certainly fall well below that bar; I don’t even think he did anything wrong.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: The Stakes of the Culture War

A special note:  today’s SubscribeStar Saturday is probably the most important essay I’ve written this year.  I encourage to read it with your subscription of $1/mo. or more.  If you’re unable to pitch in, send me a message and I’ll e-mail you a PDF.

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Over the past couple of weeks, the stakes of the culture war have really hit home for me.  As I wrote last weekend, the “misinformation gap” between regular voters and reality seems overwhelming.

I’ve long held that building individual relationships can change lives, and can undo a great deal of brainwashing, and I have anecdotal proof:  through patient dialogue and loving guidance (and prayer), I helped guide a former student away from progressive extremism and bisexuality (it was a male student, so it’s impossible for him to be truly bisexual, anyway).  He’s now a girl-loving populist and, while he’s not totally on the Trump Train, he’s longer a Bernie Bro.

But that kind of patient, incremental relationship-building, while critical, is too slow for our present crisis.  It’s also incredibly wearying because it’s so labor-intensive, and because of the immensity of the project:  there’s a lot of brainwashing to undo, and most of what needs to be unwashed is quite subtle.

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Paul Joseph Watson’s Case for Social Conservatism

The Portly Politico is striving towards self-sufficiency.  If you would like to support my work, consider subscribing to my SubscribeStar page.  Your subscription of $1/month or more gains you access to exclusive content every Saturday, including annual #MAGAWeek posts.  If you’ve received any value from my scribblings, I would very much appreciate your support.

I’ve written before that social conservatism is the red-headed stepchild of modern conservatism.  Buckleyite fusionism threw a sop to the social conservatives, but largely in the context of the Cold War:  being a devout Christian was a middle-finger to those godless Commies in the Soviet Union, and so social conservatism represented another front in that conflict.

Since the end of the Cold War, when the battle against Marxism became more subtly a cultural one, social conservatives have been ejected in favor of economic conservatives and national security conservatives.  It’s square to insist that Americans should strive to live lives of chaste self-sufficiency and virtue, and self-restraint is bad for the bottom line.  Instead, let’s encourage all manner of degeneracy, so long as it helps GDP.

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