As North Korea's bellicose posturing continues, we should remember that it is playing mainly to its own domestic audience. As for its US audience, North Korea is China's pit bull. So the big question is, what does china get out of this puppet show?
1. Regarding politics and freedom. Why does Congress insist on regulating and limiting political expression?
I think that politics is a major part of the definition of freedom in free societies. Suppression of politics is a major part of the definition of totalitarianism. I think that most Americans would mostly agree with me.
So my question is, where does the impulse to regulate political expression come from? It can't come from politics itself, where the central thrust is to expand political freedom. I think somehow that the desire to suppress is intrinsic to the establishment of the two-party system as in effect the legal political parties in the modern era. But how?
2. Regarding governmental bureaucracy. Why do governmental bureaucracies expand endlessly?
The snap answer is that bureaucracies must continually justify their existence in order to be refunded. To justify their existence, they have to find more instances of the ills and problems they were established to deal with; so they do. Then failing to complete their mission, they excuse themselves saying they don't have the money need to succeed, and request additional funding and expansion.
But this answer has been unpersuasive for a long time. An historic answer is that expert bureaucracies must recruit their expert administrators out of the industries and social organizations which they regulate as those persons have the most expertise in the problems. Thereby, staffed by industry insiders, the regulatory bureaucracy is in effect the industry regulating itself. (Herbert Croly, an enthusiast for regulatory noticed this problem a century ago.)
This arrangement only breaks down, when conflicting experts get toe-holds on the bureaucracy. So the power industry ran the utility commissions until the environmentalists broke in. Or so the theory goes. This theory is one that says elites run the bureaucracies for their own benefit. Elites have turned to regulatory bureaucracies to run society, because it is a more powerful and permanent form of governmental power than electoral political power. This would seem an especially useful theory to explain the relationship between the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, and "private" banks of Wall Street.
But what is the engine of expansion? Why would elites in charge of regulatory bureaucracies want more and more regulatory power?
3. Regarding atheism. In recent years, we have had a spate of anti-religion critiques from advocates of atheism. Most of the intellectual content of the critiques rely upon classical historical criticism, which dates from Galileo. I haven't seen any (and tell me in comments if you know of any) atheistic critiques that deal with Heidegger's refutation of that historical criticism in Being and Time. I would say Heidegger's refutation is irrefutable within the framework of his phenomenological ontology. Heidegger privately in correspondence said he thought he had protected Catholicism from anti-religious modernism, and I would agree. But no advocates of atheism have taken on Heidegger. Why?
4. Regarding gun control. Can we depend upon Congress to protect the bill of rights? Given the enthusiasm with which the establishment parties write laws to limit political organization and expression, why should we expect Congress to respect the second amendment?
5. Regarding Islam. I think there are plenty of grounds for arguing that Islam is a false religion. I understand the reluctance of Western intellectuals to make such an argument, and I understand why and how Islamist apologists object to it and refute it.
But why would Western intellectuals as a class be unwilling to enter into such a discussion? Cowardice is not a fully satisfactory answer.
I would say, no religion, no intellectual philosophy, that contains anti-semitism as an intrinsic pillar of its beliefs can be true.
7. Regarding Judaism and anti-semitism. What would the world look like if anti-semitism suddenly disappeared? There is a whole political, religious, and intellectual apparatus erected on anti-semitic premises, much disguised as anti-Zionism. This apparatus has taken on a validity that is unchallenged from within and intellectually disreputable. Why have intellectuals forsaken their responsibility to truth and ideas and not dissected this anti-semitic apparatus? Perhaps because it serves their intellectual power - whatever that means?
8. Regarding sex. In naturalistic terms, within Darwinian theory, human sexuality is clearly mostly a biochemical affair, of which consciousness is largely unaware and will is foreign and ineffective. The biochemistry of sexual relations is greatly worked out, but the social impact of that knowledge in religion, law, and social mores, is largely ignored or resisted. Why? Is it enough to say that religion, law, and social mores have too much invested in the concepts of consciousness and will to give them up, or adjust them?
But is not also the debate over sexual freedom and abortion partly to blame? It is clear to me that defense of sexual freedom and abortion is central to the political task of masking, in other areas of sexual, social and political life, the soft totalitarianism of the regulatory state (see # 9). We endorse and protect one aspect of sexual behavior in order to control, and mask that control, of many other areas of sex.
Isn't politics partly, perhaps mostly, the problem? Brave New World long ago explained the problem.
9. Regarding totalitarianism. I distinguish between two kinds of totalitarianism.
There is hard totalitarianism, in which the absolute control of government and by government of social life, by a monopolistic political party, is enforced by police and secret police. Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, and East Germany under Soviet rule are examples of hard totalitarianism.
But there is also soft totalitarianism. In the softly totalitarian state, regulation and state management obliterate the line between state and private life, property ownership, private economy, religion, and social relationships. While being told by politicians that "you are free, you are free", persons are progressively being deprived by regulation, taxation, and licensing from a huge variety of activities, from selling their labor, to purchasing labor, to forming economic partnerships and social organizations, to how they behave in private and in public.
That secret police are not spying and reporting on you, that secret courts do not exist, don't make total control of your beliefs and life any less real and effective?
Are not political correctness codes and expectations, hate speech laws, and anti-discrimination laws as pervasive in their effect of suppressing behavior and free expression as a secret police?
There are two routes to one-party rule, loss of liberty, and totalitarianism. One route is the open revolution, as in the October Revolution of 1917 in which Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, took over the Russian government. The other route is the creeping socialism, in which success in democratic politics gives revolutionary opponents of bourgeois governments the foothold in which, during crisis, they launch one-party government, such as Germany under Hitler's chancellorship in 1933. Less fascist of course is the stealth socialism of Britain. Via either route is the end result is control by the political Big Brother.
Traditional America is being subverted by the second route, creeping socialism, under Obama's political successes. I do not say or believe or imply that Obama is a Hitler; I don't think he is. He is not an original thinker of political theory or of American history. He has simply absorbed the ideological slogans and orientations of the New Left of the 1960s and 1970s, which now guide his political agenda. But benign Obama's progressivism is not. It seeks to move America to a political and governmental structure in which traditional political liberty and social and economic freedoms are replaced by dictated social progress and economic activity under the command of national governmental regulation.
A necessary component of totalitarianism is destruction of political opposition by governmental power under one-party rule. There are different means of accomplishing this destruction. One is delegitimatization of opposition parties. Another is intimidation of civilian populace. Nothing intimidates liike surveillance. Fear that authorities can learn of your opposition to governmental rulers and their actions and can formally or indirectly retaliate, threatening to take away the welfare you receive from the government and harrassing you with governmental agency power (you are named a "person of interest" without any due process in court because you are accused of no crime), you are isolated socially and politically, your finances and assets are frozen, and you are compelled to expend your savings on lawyers to chase the chimera of invisible power arrayed against you.
There are all sorts of surveillance done by private and governmental agency through video feeds: traffic, mall and school security, bank lobbies, presidential parades, airport boarding gates, and so on. Now Obama wishes to add another level of surveillance: from small, invisible to the naked eye, drones. Drones would capture activity of both public and private and home spaces, both known persons of interest, felons under warrants, and the innocent public. But in this arrangement, every body become a person of interest for some government purpose.
Drone surveillance would be a dramatic step in the destruction of liberty and due process. The Democratic Party under Obama will not renounce this activity. While the ACLU and other civil liberty organizations will raise alarm and perhaps file law suits, only a broad political attack on drone surveillance will reveal to the public the broader and profound danger to traditional liberties. Let obstruction, criticism, and opposition begin!
The homicide statistics for Chicago for 2012 (source: Redeye) illustrate how America's murder problem is a gang problem.
We do not have the race or ethnicity of the shooters, since almost none of the crimes have been through the courts yet, but we do know the race/ethnicity of the victims. Here we go:
515 homicides in Chicago City in 2012.
392 or 76% of all victims were black.
347 of the 392 black victims died of gunshot.
26 of the 392 black victims died from stabbing.
116 or 23% of the victims were white.
Of the white victims, 79 (68% of all white victims and 15% of all victims ) had Hispanic surnames.
Nearly all the homicide victims were male.
Only 48 females were homicide victims.
What is the immediate cause of this slaughter of black men? We can discount that a conspiracy of non-Hispanic white persons perpetrated these murders, for certainly suspicion of such a collective racial crime would be the single most reported and investigated and discussed event in the nation, which has not occurred.
Nor is the problem, as a whole, caused by mentally ill young white men. Massacres are not typical and do not comprise a large percentage of murders.
Rather, the obvious cause of the great number of murders is murder by black males in the context of gang warfare, with some contribution by Hispanic gangs. This probability is supported by the FBI Uniform Crime statistics, reporting the race of the killers, which show that for years, young black males have been responsible for neary half of all murders - mostly murders of other young black men. There is little reason to doubt that Chicago 2012 will confirm this historical pattern.
How horrible is this gang warfare, which is waged in every large American city with a sizable black population?
It is as if a massacre as large as Sandy Hook elementary school - 26 killed victims - occurred every 18 days in Chicago! Gun control is not the issue. Gang control is.