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Changing the Minds of Judges Us Against the Gangs

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Lee Harris: We Want More

by Christopher Chantrill
March 06, 2004 at 7:00 pm

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WHAT ARE WE to do with the brilliant ideas of TechCentralStation contributing editor Lee Harris?  For instance there is the penetrating insight that politics is reducible not to John Rawls’ Veil of Ignorance, or Locke’s right-thinking self-interest, or the Hobbesian war of all against all, but simply to the teenage boys’ gang.  When ruthless men of power determine to mount a head of rebellion against a power whose title of legitimacy is too indirect for long continuance, whom do they turn to?  They turn to young men between the age of 15 and 25, who are already wired for killing, rapine and looting.

It is the stunning achievement of the west to have developed the teenage gang into the cooperative team.  It is the stunning distinction of Lee Harris to have articulated this truth.

Then Harris introduces the notion of the fantasy ideology: 

It is a common human weakness to wish to make more of our contribution to the world than the world is prepared to acknowledge, and it is our fantasy world that allows us to fill the gap.  But normally, for most of us at least, this fantasy world stays relatively hidden... Yet clearly there are individuals for whom this control is, at best, intermittent.

When the fantasist is surrounded by a group that shares his fantasy, then you have the potential for a fantasy ideology.  And when the fantasist is a genius like Mussolini he might realize that the way to get real traction on the fantasy is to involve a whole nation in a theatrical enactment of the fantasy, with the fantasist as the actor-manager and the rest of the world as props. 

Fortunately, during the century and a half in which the Jacobins engulfed France in their fantasy of a return to the Roman Republic, the Fascists engulfed Italy in a fantasy of the Roman Empire, and the Nazis engulfed Germany in a fantasy of German folkishness, the cool Anglosphere succeeded in sublimating the teenage gang into the team and applying the team concept into exploding the fantasies of the hot blooded Europeans.

But why stop with the boys’ gang?  What about that other basic social unit, the teenage girls’ clique?  In many ways, the boys’ gang is harmless and mild compared to the viciousness and the oppression exacted by the girls’ in-group at high school.  Now that women are coming to dominate the lower levels of politics, from the school board to the state legislature, we can expect a rapid metastasizing of girlish cliques with as yet unimaginable consequences.

Harris properly celebrates the western success in mitigating the rule of ruthless men by melting the murdering gang into the productive team.  But what about the rule of ruthless prom queens?  The teenage girls’ clique is rather different in structure and more sinister than the boys’ gang.  For the gang, bigger is better, because a big gang can wreak more mayhem.  But for the girls’ clique, on the other hand, smaller is better.  After all  “we,” the in-group, are beautiful princesses of the blood, prettier, richer, and more sought after than the out-group of peasants with rough skin and coarse features.  Is there any way in which the girls’ clique could be transcended, to sublimate its cruel hierarchy into good works?

What about combining the teenage boys’ gang in a two-dimensional matrix with the fantasy ideology?  Then we could plot the various combinations of boys’ gang with millenarian sect or left-wing splinter group.  Where might the Ruckus Society rate in gangishness, and how well would it score in fantasy?

These are important research topics begging for attention.  Were Lee Harris a fully belted professor of thinkology attended by a court of eager post-doc disciples, we could feel confident that fresh evolutions of the Harris Doctrine would soon be published to sycophantic reviews in the establishment media.  But since he is the lone sage of Stone Mountain, Georgia, disqualified from noble professorial rank by his years in trade, not to mention his shameful race and gender, we wait and fret, wondering how close he is to resolution or even consideration of these important matters. 

Who does not fear the day when the shop steward from the Scholar’s Guild disciplinary committee turns up in Stone Mountain, demanding as in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy “rigorously defined areas of doubt and uncertainty” and putting a stop to Harris’s flagrant disregard of hallowed disciplinary demarcations honored by scholars ever since the first German university became a gleam in the eye of its founding German prince?

Perhaps the best course of action is simply to buy his book, Civilization and Its Enemies, and buy it often.  Fantastic success (although no more than he deserves) may go to his head and encourage him to redouble his vigor, to produce what his every reader of Lee Harris demands: More.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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