stability or progress

I’ve just been reading one of Robert Van Gulik’s Judge Dee mysteries. Why is this relevant? I’ll explain in a moment. Van Gulik was a Dutch diplomat who wrote a series of detective novels describing the cases confronting a magistrate in China during the Tang Dynasty (7th century AD).
What’s interesting is that Van Gulik’s knowledge of Chinese history, culture and jurisprudence was profound. And in his stories there is not the faintest hint of the cult of progress. He describes a society that valued stability and order to an extreme degree. This reflects the view that historians have always taken about Imperial China, although western historians have mostly seen this as a weakness. The Chinese developed a very advanced civilisation and then stopped. No further progress was considered to be necessary and in fact further progress would lead to instability and was therefore a bad thing.
While it might be an over-simplistic view of Chinese civilisation there’s undoubtedly a lot of truth in this view of a society committed to preserving what it already had rather than pursuing the phantom of progress. 
Looking at the world today it’s easy to believe that the Chinese had the right idea. This is especially so when you consider the misery and chaos that followed the overthrow of the last Imperial government in the early part of the 20th century.
The cult of progress is always tied up with utopianism. If we just keep progressing then sooner or later we’ll have a perfect society composed of perfect people leading amazingly happy and fulfilling lives. This is the philosophical view that started to emerge in Europe in the 16th century and it has taken a firmer and firmer hold with every year that has passed since then. By the beginning of the 20th century it was the one unchallenged dogma of our civilisation. Imperial China was dominated by Confucian thought and Confucian thought most certainly did not see things in this light. Medieval Europe was dominated by Christianity and medieval Christianity did not see things that way either. 
The point is that it is possible to have a fully functional and quite advanced civilisation based on the cult of stability rather than the cult of progress. 
The cult of progress is, by it very nature, destructive. To build a new society we must first destroy the old one. Everything that has happened has been an inevitable consequence of this. Whenever utopia fails to materialise it just means that more destruction is needed.
Should we abandon the idea of progress altogether? Surely the cult of progress has brought us many benefits? There is a genuine dilemma here. The answer is perhaps that the cult of progress needs to be balanced by an equally strong force advocating stability and order. Perhaps if progress could be slowed and controlled it might not be so socially destructive? It’s possible, but progress has a way of continually getting out of control.
Perhaps we need to ask ourselves exactly what kind of progress is actually useful? Technological progress has on the whole been pretty useful. Social progress on the other hand has brought us to the brink of ruin. We might need to accept the harsh reality that there is no such thing as social progress. We probably should ask ourselves also exactly what kind of scientific and technological progress we need. Do we need ever more advanced weaponry? Do we need faster and faster personal computers? Do we need smarter and smarter smartphones?
One conclusion that logically follows from this is likely to be unpalatable to many people who consider themselves to be right-wing. Taking control of progress would require a very strong government. Almost certainly not a democratic one. Imperial China survived for millennia because mostly it had a strong government. It also survived because those who ran the government, the countless bureaucrats that characterised Chinese government, were educated to believe in stability and order and the tenets of Confucianism. It seems to follow inexorably from this that rigid control of education is necessary for the preservation of civilisation and that dangerous and destructive ideas need to be suppressed. Perhaps that is the price that has to be paid if you want a successful stable culture.

college dorms are liberal re-education camps

Over at Oz Conservative commenter Flavia has this to say,

“The process of sending young women off to live in college dorms, with in loco parentis abandoned, to find their way in the world induced a set of anti-civilizing behaviors. There is really no way to encourage this behavior and have defense of Western values as a result.”

I couldn’t agree more. We’re sending these young women off to liberal re-education camps. And they’re not just being indoctrinated with liberalism but extremist liberalism. Even the ones who don’t mutate into full-fledged SJW harpies are still absorbing their share of the poison.
We need to re-think higher education. We have a lot more of it than we need and it’s doing colossal social and cultural damage. Universities are bad enough but having students living on-campus is disastrous.
We need to reduce the number of university places since the vast majority of people have no need whatever for a university education. We need to gut the humanities faculties. We need to changer our entire approach.

Noam Chomsky on public education

Mark at Oz Conservative has an intriguing link to an interview with Noam Chomsky. Chomsky might be a leftist but he has some interesting things to say.
The bit that caught my eye was this:

“Mass public education was introduced in the United States in the nineteenth century as a way of training the largely rural workforce here for industry — in fact, the general population in the United States largely was opposed to public education, because it meant taking kids off the farms where they belonged and where they worked with their families, and forcing them into this setting in which they were basically trained to become industrial workers.”

Mass public education is one of the most sacred of all sacred cows. While it’s now obvious that the main purpose of public education is indoctrination it’s sobering to realise that it has historically played a major role in destroying traditional communities.

long term and short term goals and strategies

If our society is to survive there is obviously a great deal to be done. That in itself is a bit of a problem – where exactly do we start?
I think that the first thing we need to do is to distinguish between what is achievable and what is not achievable. There are many things that would be highly desirable but if they fall into that second category there’s not too much point in worrying about them.
We also need to distinguish between short term goals and long term goals. At certain points in history certain things are possible. At a later date it may be that other things will be possible. Or it may be that they will not be possible. We should not lose sight of long term goals but it is more useful to put as much energy as we can into those things that can be achieved now.
Take immigration. Closing the borders would be an achievable goal. It would take an immense amount of effort to push through such a measure but it could be done. Deporting illegal immigrants who have engaged in serious crime would be an achievable goal. On the other hand mass deportations are not going to happen. Not in the US, not in Australia and not in any European country. Whether mass deportations would be a good thing or a bad thing, whether it’s a moral thing to do or not, these questions are irrelevant. It’s not going to happen. Pushing for such a goal is not merely futile but counter-productive. Setting a realistic goal and then pushing for it with absolute determination is the only sensible strategy.
Or take higher education. Ideally we should close down at least half of our universities. Society has no need of the immense numbers of graduates that are currently being churned out, a very large number of whom would be better off not wasting the time, energy and money involved in pursuing the seductive but dangerous dream of university education. Closing down universities is however very unlikely to happen, at least in the short term. On the other hand cutting off funding for worthless Mickey Mouse degrees in Gender Studies or similar nonsense should be an achievable objective. Such studies are merely breeding grounds for professional “activists” – a species that is both useless and exceedingly harmful.
Conservatives suffered defeat after defeat in the Culture Wars by a policy of never-ending retreats and surrenders. That is always a losing strategy. That does not however mean that we can win by launching large-scale frontal attacks on the enemy’s strongest positions. You win a war by pursuing a positive offensive strategy but you need to choose your battles carefully, you need to recognise those positions that are too strong to attack in present circumstances and you need to concentrate on areas where gains can be made. The important thing is to make gains somewhere while defending the territory you already hold. You don’t defeat an enemy all at once. You wear your enemy down by taking every opportunity to win even small battles. It is necessary to keep the initiative but it is foolish to expose yourself to defeat through recklessness and poor judgment.
In other words we need to avoid the defeatism of mainstream conservatism and also to avoid the rashness and over-confidence of some sections of the alt-right.
It is even more important to know what your actual objectives are. Anyone who fights a war without clear objectives will inevitably lose. What kind of society do we actually want? Do we want the utopian dreams of socialists and libertarians? Do we want the war of the jungle of the unfettered free market? Is economic prosperity the secret to human happiness? Is freedom a necessary condition for happiness and is it compatible with democracy? Is it more important to have government that is efficient or government that is honest? If we need a much more socially conservative society (and I certainly think that we do) what part should government play in this? Can we legislate our way towards social conservatism? And what of the catastrophically low birth rates in western countries – can government action do anything to reverse these trends?
These are clearly big topics that cannot be addressed in one blog post. I will make an attempt to formulate my own answers to these questions in future posts.

The Collapse of British Power: the failure of an education system

I’m reading Correlli Barnett’s The Collapse of British Power. Barnett, born in 1927, was one of the more provocative English historians to emerge in the post-war years. He was a military historian but his most interesting work combines economic, social, political and military history.
The Collapse of British Power, published in 1972, was the beginning of his four-book sequence The Pride and the Fall. There is so much of interest in this book that it’s probably best to deal with just one element at a time and to leave the other elements to later posts.
The Collapse of British Power deals with the decline of British power and influence during the years between the two world wars, and with the utter failure of successive British governments to halt this decline or to avoid the coming catastrophe of the Second World War.
One of the more controversial claims he makes concerns the British education system in late Victorian and Edwardian times. The inadequacy of education for the working classes deprived Britain of the skilled workers she needed in order to modernise her increasingly antiquated and uncompetitive industrial base. The situation for the upper classes was equally disastrous. The public schools and the universities focused almost entirely on the classics. They produced generations of young men who could quote Virgil but whose knowledge of science, modern history and even geography was virtually non-existent.
Even worse, the public schools were not rally interested in imparting knowledge at all. They saw their function as being to provide a religious and moral education. Learning to do the right thing was what mattered. 
Barnett makes the point that all this was essentially a Victorian phenomenon. Prior to this life at an English public school was a rather rough-and-tumble affair. The rise of Evangelical Christianity changed all that. Reforming headmasters like Dr Thomas Arnold at Rugby sought to make school life a much more structured, much more moral and much more religious affair. The emphasis was on games, on learning sportsmanship, and on absorbing concepts like honour and duty. These are certainly not bad things but the trouble is the pupils learnt little else. They knew Latin and Greek and they knew how to behave like a Christian gentleman. They knew that winning was not important – playing the game in the right spirit was what mattered. Barnett claims that never before in human history had entire generations of the ruling class been so thoroughly indoctrinated with a particular world-view.
The boys educated at these public schools would become the men who led Britain during the 1920s and 1930s. They were hopelessly unfitted to lead a modern industrial nation, and they were ludicrously ill-equipped for the worlds of politics and diplomacy. British industry continued to decline and British politics was dominated by men who were quite unable to deal with the real world. Most fatally, they were unable to deal with the leaders of other countries who considered national self-interest to be more important than playing the game. The men who led Britain in the interwar years considered treaties to be solemn pledges. They believed that having  joined the League of Nations Britain was morally obliged to honour its commitments to the League. The idea that the leaders of other countries might not display the same sporting spirit did not occur to them. As a result Britain found itself hopeless outmanoeuvred by the cynical hardheaded leaders of countries such as Germany, Italy, France and the United States.
This of course has considerable relevance to our own times, when children are indoctrinated in philosophies and world-views that have no connection whatsoever with the real world. They will be entirely unable to face the challenge of reality, just as the British leaders of the 20s and 30s failed to face that challenge,

around the blogosphere

Interesting stuff I’ve been reading lately on other people’s blogs:
In The Tyranny of the Bookish at Taki’s Mag John Derbyshire points out that too much education can be as bad as too little. I agree completely. The obsession that extending the dubious benefits of “higher” education to a larger and larger proportion of the population who neither need nor want it is somehow going to advance civilisation seems to me to be pure wishful thinking. 
On the other hand Hal Colebatch’s Celebrity Culture and Literacy’s Decline at Quadrant 
shows what happens when you pretty much abolish education altogether, as has been done in Britain. You get a country well on the way to joining the Third World.
Patrick J. Buchanan in The Price of Papal Popularity (at Taki’s Mag) makes some excellent points on the catastrophe to which Pope Francis is leading the Catholic Church. Buchanan admits that Pope Francis is extremely popular although I personally suspect that this pope is popular mainly among people who hate Christianity.
Frank Pledge’s Indigenous Culture and Vile Crimes (at Quadrant) exposes the horrific truth behind traditional aboriginal culture. 
It’s nice to read a good news story for once. And More Australians switched off ABC politically correct propaganda in 2014 at JoNova is very good news indeed. Perhaps eventually Tony Abbott will do what he should have done as soon as he was elected and pulled the plug on our noxious dinosaur public broadcaster.
Nice Deb has an amusing hatchet job on the egregious hypocrite Michael Moore who wins the coveted Weasel of the Week award.
Stuart Schneiderman in his post Men Who Crave Amputation at his excellent Had Enough Therapy? blog points out the eerie similarities between a bizarre mental disorder and the transgender madness.

It’s Your Time You’re Wasting – British education on its last legs

In Frank Chalk’s It’s Your Time You’re Wasting a supply teacher gives us an insider’s look at the current state of the British education system. It makes depressing reading.
This is a system that almost seems designed to fail. It fails teachers, it fails society, but most tragically it fails British children.
A succession of stupid and short-sighted political decisions, combined with social decay and political correctness, have turned classrooms into battlegrounds where the chances of actually learning everything are very slight indeed. A complete breakdown of discipline allows badly behaved kids to prevent anyone else from learning.
Most tragic is that Britain used to have a system, based on the 11-plus examination and the streaming of bright kids into grammar schools, that allowed intelligent kids access to a superb education and the possibility of going to university regardless of how much or how little money their patents had. This system was abandoned in the interests of “fairness” and Britain now has an education system that ensures that only children with very wealthy parents have a chance of a good education. A shining example of the fact that ideas pushed by the Left never ever work, the result is that bright children without rich parents no have no way of escaping the vicious circle of welfare dependence, crime, drugs and general hopelessness.
Chalk also points out, quite correctly, that misguided ideas that have led to the tolerance of a ubiquitous drug culture have had devastating effects on children.
He reserves special venom for academics and social theorists. As he says, no modern idea on education has ever worked in practice.
The author does more than point out the failures of the present system. He offers practical suggestions as to how the system can be rebuilt although he admits that he believes there is no chance this will happen.
No human being could survive this insane system without a sense of humour and the author certainly has that although not surprisingly his sense of humour is rather black. It’s a type of gallows humour really, entirely appropriate in a society determined on self-destruction. He combines this humour with genuine compassion for the children whose lives are being destroyed by a system that is supposed to be there to serve them.
This book was originally published in 2006 with a revised edition (published by Monday Books) appearing in 2013.
It’s Your Time You’re Wasting is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand why Britain seems to be determined to go down the toilet even faster than the rest of the western world. Very highly recommended.