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Tag Archives: book
Posted: January 13, 2017 at 6:42 am
David Meltzer 1937 – 2016
Here is a note I wrote on David’s work here in 2005.
Ive written on numerous occasions that the so-called San Francisco Renaissance was largely a fiction, perpetrated in part by Donald Allen in order to give The New American Poetry a section that acknowledged just how much of this phenomenon rose up out of the San Francisco Bay Area a literary backwater prior to WW2, but now suddenly a primary locale for much that was new. The other part and its not clear to me who, if anyone, could be said to have perpetrated this was an allusion back to the earlier Berkeley Renaissance, which had been a decisive, thriving literary tendency in the late 1940s, early 1950s. If you look at Allens S.F. Renaissance grouping, you call still make out the vestiges of that earlier moment in the presence of Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer & Robin Blaser, the trio that had given rise to the Berkeley Renaissance while studying at the University of California, along with, I suppose, Helen Adam, who at the time of the anthology was something of a Duncan protg. Yet there are also poets representing an older San Francisco scene, such as Madeline Gleason & James Broughton & even tho its a stretch, given what a loner he was, at least when he wasnt actively channeling Robinson Jeffers Brother Antoninus (William Everson). Then there are a group of younger poets Richard Duerden, Kirby Doyle, Ebbe Borregaard & Bruce Boyd whom its harder to place aesthetically, a fact that is still true some 45 years after the books initial publication, as theyve become its least published participants. That Allen placed Lawrence Ferlinghetti into this grouping, rather than with the Beats, suggests just how arbitrary these distinctions were.
Given that he was improvising & fabricating in search of clustering principles in general, its curious that Allen completely missed one of the most interesting & useful formations among the New Americans, a western poetics that may have first revealed itself at Reed College in Portland, and which didnt fully take flight until the mid- to late-1950s in San Francisco. Gary Snyder, Lew Welch & Phil Whalen in fact were just the first of a number of poets who came out of this aesthetic one could probably put Duerden & Borregaard there as well, plus three other contributors to the Allen anthology, all of whom joined Snyder & Whalen in Allens curiously amorphous unaffiliated fifth grouping: Michael McClure, Ron Loewinsohn & David Meltzer. Beyond the Allen anthology itself, one might add Richard Brautigan, James Koller, Joanne Kyger, David Schaff, Bill Deemer, Drummond Hadley, Clifford Burke, David Gitin, John Oliver Simon, Lowell Levant, John Brandi, Gail Dusenberry & a host of others. In general, these poets were straight where the Duncan-Spicer axis was gay. Perhaps most importantly, this cluster really had no leaders as such. It was not as though some, such as Snyder or Whalen, might not have led by example, but that their personalities were not given to the constant marshalling of opinion that one could identify in such others as Olson, Duncan, Spicer, Ginsberg, OHara or even Creeley. This mode lets call it New Western perhaps reached its pinnacle of influence during the heyday of Jim Kollers Coyotes Journal during the mid-1960s. But without anything like a leader or a program, poised midway aesthetically between the Beats & Olsons vision of Projectivist Verse, the phenomenon never gelled, never became A Thing & by the 1970s already was entering into an entropic period from which it has yet to re-emerge.
Actually, considering just how many of the Beat poets were treated like rock stars while Meltzer, fronting Serpent Power with his late wife Tina (and drums by Clark Coolidge), actually had a rock band long before Jim Carroll or Patti Smith, its odd that Meltzer hasnt become much more widely known, celebrated before this. Davids Copy is at least the fourth selected poems hes published, the others being Tens, Arrows & The Name, and many of his earlier books were published by Black Sparrow, one of the rare small presses to have had some volumes mostly those by Charles Bukowski widely distributed through the big book chains.
Part of this neglect may also be due to the fact that Meltzer is Jewish. Its not that there were no Jews among the New Americans Ginsberg, Orlovsky, Eigner all come instantly to mind. But the intersection between the New American poetry & the New Age approach to religious experience in the 1960s (Serpent Power?) tended to mute its presence in all but Ginsbergs writing. Indeed, I wouldnt be at all shocked to discover that many readers of Eigner were late to discover the heritage of the bard of Swampscott. In the 1960s, the Objectivists were only gradually coming back into print. And Jerome Rothenberg didnt really begin making the space for an active presence for a Jewish space within American poetics until late in that decade, during that interregnum betwixt the New Americans & language poetry.
Finally, Meltzer and this I think is a sign of his youth relative, say, to Whalen or Snyder or Ginsberg or Olson or Duncan or OHara et al lacked the kind of visible trademark of a differentiated literary style that one associates with all of the above, and even with someone closer to Meltzers age, like Michael McClure. Meltzers work has always been in the vicinity of New American poetics without ever being its own recognizable brand as such, it would be difficult if not impossible for a younger poet to mimic. Its not that Meltzer lacked the chops & more as though he never saw the need per se. In this sense, Meltzers situation is not unlike that, say, of a Jack Collom, another terrific poet of roughly the same generation who has never really gotten the recognition he deserves. In a sense, those who were a little further outside the New American circle like poets in New York who were visibly not NY School, such as Rothenberg, Antin, Ed Sanders or Joel Oppenheimer had an advantage because their circumstance forced them to define themselves in opposition even to poets whose work they cherished.
Indeed, if there is a defining element or signature device in Meltzers work, its that he alone among the New Westerns has an eye for the hard edges of pop culture, something one expects from the NY School. Often, as in this passage from Hollywood Poems, its accompanied by a tremendously agile ear:
De Chirico without Cheracol saw space where its dead echo opened up a plain unbroken by the dancers. Instead a relic supermarket nobody shops at. Plaster-of-Paris bust of Augustus Claude Rains Caesar face-down beneath a Keinholz table whose top is blue with Shirley Temples saucers, pitchers. Mickey Mouse wind-up dolls in rows like Detroit. All tilt out of the running without electricity. Veils of history, garments worn in movies, hung on steel racks at Costume R.K.O. R. Karo wouldve used the towers light. Hed wear it as a cap to re-route lost energy.
So dense with details that it rides like a list (& sounds like a Clark Coolidge poem), this passage is actually a better depiction of a De Chirico landscape than those one finds in John Ashberys poetry. Davids Copy is filled with such moments, which makes it a terrific read.
One might squabble with the fact that the book is not strictly chronological, or that the first 25 years of his writing gets more weight (over 150 pages) than does the last 25 (roughly 100), tho I suspect thats because more of the recent work is still in print. On the whole, such squabbles are few. Editor Michael Rothenberg had done a first-rate job here, smartly including bibliography & a decent two-page bio note from Meltzer & an excellent introduction from Jerry Rothenberg. Toward the end of the introduction, Rothenberg notes:
Elsewhere, in speaking about himself, he tells us that when he was very young, he wanted to write a long poem called The History of Everything. It was an ambition shared, maybe unknowingly, with a number of other young poets the sense of what Clayton Eshleman called a poetry that attempts to become responsible for all the poet knows about himself and his world. Then as now it ran into a contrary directive: to think small or to write in ignorance of what had come before or in deference to critic-masters who were themselves, most often, nonpractitioners & nonseekers.
Paul Blackburn and Me
Its been thirty years since I finished editing the Collected Poems of Paul Blackburn. I still cant quit him.
Paul Blackburn died on September 13, 1971 exactly forty-five years ago today. He was forty-four. I never met him, but I spent more than half a decade with him, writing my dissertation and editing his collected and selected poems. When I started this three-pronged project, it seemed to me that Blackburn had lived a reasonably long life. By the time I finished, I thought hed died tragically young.
I first encountered Blackburn in the late 1970s through M.L. Rosenthal, whose Yeats seminar I had taken as a grad student at NYU. Id been contemplating writing a thesis about one of the confessional poets, Rosenthals specialty, but when I went in to talk to him about possible dissertation subjects, Rosenthal said, What do you think about Paul Blackburn?
I hadnt thought about him at all. Id never heard of him. Rosenthal explained, Blackburns widow asked me to edit his collected poems. I dont have the time but I told her I would pass the job along to a qualified graduate student. He added, If you do the scholarly edition for your dissertation, youll end up with a published book when you get your Ph.D.
I got hold of The Cities, the book Rosenthal had recommended as quintessential Blackburn. Many of the poems were about the BMT subway line, which Id grown up riding in Brooklyn. I admired Blackburns technical skill, his musical score-like notations of the works, his ability to make the writing look easy. I shoved down my doubts about his attitudes towards women. A published book… Now there was a shiny object for an aspiring academic.
The project turned out to be far more complex than Id anticipated. First, I had to come up with a criterion for inclusion in the edition. I opted for poems that had been previously published. But what constituted publication? A lot of Blackburn poems appeared only in mimeographed editions. Should those be included?
I next had to decide on an organization. Should the poems appear in the same groupings as the published volumes? There was too much overlap, and many poems were published in poetry journals but not books.
My choice of a chronological arrangement led to other questions: Should the date be based on the first draft of the poem or the published version? And how would I determine the first draft date? And if Blackburn revised the poem after it was published, which version should I use?
I became a poetry detective, interviewing ex-wives and friends, identifying typewriters, tracking down biographical clues in the poems (luckily there were a lot of those). The process was fascinating, but time consuming. It didnt help my efficiency that I was commuting between New York and San Diego, where Blackburns widow, Joan, had sold his papers to UCSDs Archive for New Poetry.
San Diego now there was another shiny object. A typical Easterner, I went there expecting to find a smaller version of Los Angles. The freeways were there, and also some of the congestion, but so was a seascape of surprisingly pristine beauty, and a string of coastal cities, each with their own distinct character. USCD resided in the poshest and probably most stunning of them all, La Jolla.
I was hired to catalogue Blackburns archive and thus was often on the scene for the groundbreaking reading series created by poet Michael Davidson, the Archive for New Poetrys director. I became part of the inner circle of the graduate students and young academics in the UCSD literature department. I also got friendly with the local writers in town (Rae Armantrout and Jerome Rothenberg, for example), as well as visiting writers like Lydia Davis and Ron Silliman. By no means was this project all work and no play.
I never quite pinned down how I felt about Blackburns poetry, but after a while it didnt matter. The editing was an end in itself and Paul Blackburn was part of my life, day and night. He haunted my dreams. Sometimes the scenarios were sexual, sometimes as everyday as my kitchen cabinets. Kind of like his poetry.
Finally, I had a scholarly edition of 623 poems. For each, I detailed the decisions that went into the editing and dating. I added a critical introduction of maybe 50 pages, discussing Blackburns biography and his place in the poetry pantheon as well as the editing theory.
Seemed like a wrap to me.
The powers that be at NYU disagreed. Now that his oeuvre had been established by me! they argued that I had a basis for a real dissertation, a 200-page critical introduction about Blackburn himself, rather than about the editing process. Who says irony is dead?
When I finished this next Sisyphean task, I brought eight volumes into the office of the recorder at NYU. She said, Youre only supposed to bring in two copies of your dissertation.
That is two copies, I said.
Id had it with academia by then. It wasnt just the hoops Id had to jump through at NYU. By the time I took my qualifying exams, my prose style had been pulverized; I had the sentence structure of Henry James and the verbal clarity of Yogi Berra. A decade earlier, I was writing college papers praised for their lucidity. Next thing I knew, I was submitting a proposal for a dissertation titled From Apocalypse to Entropy: An Eschatological Study of the American Novel. I switched thesis topics and advisors but didnt kick the jargon and passive construction habits.
Which was a problem, because what I really wanted to be was a writer, not a literary critic.
My not so-brilliant career plan had been to get tenure and then, in my spare time, devote myself to my craft, in whatever genre that turned out to be. Being a teaching assistant at NYU had cured me of any desire to teach, which I realized would be the main part of my job description. And that published book that was going to help me secure my place in academia? It wasnt going to do the trick or even come close. Paul Blackburn, I now understood, was a dead white guy, academia-speak for someone representing the establishment. My untrendy specialty would consign me to the boonies before I couldmaybe, possibly, who knows? snag a job in a decent city.
Nor did I want to give up my Greenwich Village apartment.
I grew up in Brooklyn and had finally acquired what every bridge-and-tunnel brat aspired to in the days before the boroughs became hip: a rent-stabilized place in Manhattan. Call me crazy, but I didnt want to move someplace I didnt want to live to do something I didnt want to do.
I helped with the publication of the Collected Poems by Persea Press in 1985. I tackled the Selected Poems next. Somewhere in between there were small Blackburn books The Parallel Voyages, The Lost Journals and a few journal articles.
Slowly but surely I opted out of my role as the keeper of the Blackburn flame, handmaiden to his reputation and as a potential academic.
First, I happened into a job as a guidebook editor at the travel division of Simon and Schuster. It took two more travel publishing jobs and a move to Tucson in 1992 to finally jumpstart my long-delayed writing career. This time, I had fewer qualms about leaving New York.
My retreat from all things Blackburn continued until 9/11. My niece had phoned from San Antonio to make sure I was okay; though I was living in Tucson, I often visited New York and my old digs in lower Manhattan.
Talk about wake up calls. Suppose I were to die suddenly and intestate? I was divorced, had no children, and my parents were no longer alive. Everything would have gone by default to my older sister, from whom I was estranged. I didnt have much of an estate, except my literal estate. I loved the swirled stucco home near the University of Arizona that I had bought for a song and I still loved literature. I decided to will my house to the UAs excellent Poetry Center, where it would be a residence for visiting writers. It would be named for Paul Blackburn.
One day, maybe two years ago, a friend tagged me on Facebook to join a poetry discussion about Paul Blackburn. It was like attending my own funeral. One of the participants wondered what had happened to me. Another chimed in, authoritatively, that I had become a professional dog person. Clearly, my dog blog had better SEO than my genealogy blog.
This public erasure of my career between the Blackburn years and the publication of my dog book was one of the many things that inspired me to finish a memoir that had been on the back burner for about a decade, called Getting Naked for Money. Traditional publishing had by now hit the skids and I wanted more control over my work and, especially, over my royalties. I started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to publish it myself.
It was through that campaign and reconnecting with old friends from my poetry past that I discovered there had been a combined celebration of the digitizing of Paul Blackburns archive at UCSD/surprise retirement party for Michael Davidsonto which I hadnt been invited. Well, fuck. Now even that accomplishment had been erased.
I thought about my bequest to the UA. Why was I still holding on to any connection to Paul Blackburn? Others around me had clearly moved on, abnegating my role. I still wanted to will my house to the university as a writers residence, but now, I decided, it would be reserved for women over 50 writing in any genre. Women that the world tended to ignore, in spite of the good work they were doing.
I contacted the UA and said Id like to change the terms of my bequest.
This was about a month ago. Heres where the story gets really weird.
At around the same time, I had dinner with a woman whose acquaintance I had made earlier this year at a Seder, another single ex-New Yorker. I started telling her about changing my bequest to the UA. She interrupted me mid-sentence. Did you say Paul Blackburn? she practically shouted.
Yes, I said, Paul Blackburn. I thought she was confused. Blackburn had always been a poets poet. In my experience, the publication of the Collected Poems and Selected Poems hadnt done much to widen his reputation.
She knew exactly whom I meant. Paul Blackburn had been her first lover. She had been 17; he had been in his mid-thirties and married to his second wife, Sara. They saw each other for about a year. She eventually left New York and married someone else but always thought, somehow, that Paul would turn up in her town, maybe to give a reading. She was shocked to learn that he died, about a year after the fact.
She sent me pictures that she and Paul had taken in a photo booth, he preserved in amber with a little goatee, she in a fresh-faced youthful incarnation that was equally mythical to me.
I wasnt surprised at the revelation of the affair; his poetry had always hinted at infidelities. I was saddened because Id liked Sara Blackburn the few brief times Id met her, but I was hardly one to judge. Mostly, I was appalled at the age and power difference. As my friend said, if it was today, he might have been charged with statutory rape by her parents.
I felt like I was in a weird time loop, doomed to relive a past that was no longer relevant to my present over and over.
And, I figured, if you cant escape your past, you can share your version of it with a little help from your friends.
Labels: Edie Jarolim, Paul Blackburn
Read the original here:
Posted: January 8, 2017 at 7:47 pm
The First Amendment Foundation is a highly visible and accessible source of authoritative information, expertise and assistance to the public and news media.Founded as a non-profit organization in 1984 by The Florida Press Association, the Florida Society of Newspapers Editors and the Florida Association of Broadcasters to ensure that public commitment and progress in the areas of free speech, free press, and open government do not become checked and diluted during Floridas changing times.
Floridas Sunshine Laws guarantee our right to open government, but government officials can get downright creative to keep their decision-making in the dark. Like the state agency that demanded $3,200 to copy a single page of a public record, or the city commissioner who accidentally dropped her government phone in the toilet after a reporter asked her to see her text messages. And of course, you, the taxpayer footed the $1.3 million legal tab to keep our Governor and his cabinet out of court over secret emails. Fortunately, we have the Florida First Amendment Foundation fighting on our side. I urge you to support the First Amendment Foundation and keep Florida government by the people, for the people and in the Sunshine.
Carl Hiaasen, Miami Herald columnist and author ofSkin Tight,Strip Tease, Skinny Dip, Nature Girl, Star Island,Bad Monkey, Razor Girl and many more.
Thepurpose of the First Amendment Foundation is to protect and advance the publics constitutional right to open government by providing education and training, legal aid and information services. Funding is based on voluntary contributions from various organizations and concerned individuals.
You know, the critical research of my book would not have been possible without access granted by law via Floridas longstanding Open Government laws. Without Sunshine, stories like the injustice I uncovered in Central Florida could not have come forward. The Florida First Amendment Foundation has been protecting your citizen right to know for the past 31 years. Support the First Amendment Foundation. Support Open Government. It pays dividends.
Gilbert King, February 2016. Pulitzer Prize winning author of Devil in the Grove Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America
Our actions get results. In the past year, we led a broad coalition of open government advocates anddefeated a billthat would have made it harder to hold agencies accountable for public records violations. In dozens of courthouses and government offices around the country, citizens with FAFs help won access to the recordsand meetings.
Still,our job has never been more challenging and,with your help, we will continue to fight efforts to erode Floridas long-standing tradition of open government.
Find out more about the First Amendment Foundation.
Posted: January 6, 2017 at 11:10 pm
By Daniel W. Drezner January 5 at 9:39 AM Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a regular contributor to PostEverything.
Ayn Rands Atlas Shrugged is a very bad movie very long novel that is beloved by many 18- to 24-year-olds and a fewelected officials. It does not contain the most believable dialogue in the world (I actually laughed out loud when I first read the morning-after conversation between Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden).But the book remainsextremely popular, and it is worth remembering why. As I wrote this past June:
Railing against the establishment will always work for the same reason that Ayn Rands Atlas Shrugged will always resonate with a fraction of the population. Rand has one and only one gift as a writer. She is able to divide the world into two categories of human beings: creators and moochers. And no one in history reads Rand and thinks, I want to be a moocher! It is easy for even government officials to self-identify as creators of pyramids of greatness rather than as looters of the system.
The premise of Atlas Shrugged is that a slow accretion of government rules, regulations and corrupt bargains forces the countrys true entrepreneurs into internal exile somewhere in Colorado. There they thrive in a blissful, gold-standard-based utopia while the rest of the country suffers under the weight ofgovernment and the rent-seeking looters and moochers who need the stateto make any money.
As a slow-motion depiction of what it is like for a country to fall apartwhen corruption pervades every facet of life and societal norms disintegrate, Atlas Shrugged is pretty gripping. So heres my question: What would happen to the United States if the reverse Atlas Shrugged scenario occurred?
After all, if you believe Donald Trumpand his boosters, his Cabinet of billionaires represents the finest that the free enterprise system has to offer. What if the people who self-identify as the makers take over the state and all the bureaucrats disappear into the ether?
I bring this up because the incoming administration appears to be doing its damnedest to trigger this scenario. Firstthere was the transition teams inquiry into which Department of Energy staffers were responsible for the Obama administrations climate change plans (though it later disavowed that attempt). Then there was a similar request for State Department officials involved in gender rights-related issues
And now we get to the president-elects ongoing feud with U.S. intelligence agencies:
Trump claims that hes not impugning the intelligence community with these tweets, butas Politicos Nahal Toosi writes:
Regardless of his intentions, Trumps tweets left the impression that he was once again mocking U.S. intelligence officials. And while its not unprecedented, or even wrong, for a U.S. leader to view intelligence assessments with a skeptical eye, whats shocked many observers is how public Trump has been about his disregard for a group of people who often risk their lives for the country.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journals Damian Paletta and Julian Barnes report that Trump and his key officials really do harbor a deep suspicion of the intelligence community:
The view from the Trump team is the intelligence world has become completely politicized, said the individual, who is close to the Trump transition. They all need to be slimmed down. The focus will be on restructuring the agencies and how they interact..
Gen. Flynn and Mr. Pompeo share Mr. Trumps view that the intelligence communitys position that Russia tried to help his campaign is an attempt to undermine his victory or say he didnt win, the official close to the transition said.
Current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials have reacted with a mix of bafflement and outrage to Mr. Trumps continuing series of jabs at U.S. spies.
It is likely that most U.S. civil service, foreign service and intelligence employees will simply hunker down and try to ride out the Trump years. ButI have heard stories, as well, about bureaucrats in some policy arenas think anyone involved in financial regulation who are planning to decamp to the private sector. Why not make some money if these folks will not be doing what they originally signed up to do?
So what will happen to the country if the reverse Atlas Shrugged scenario transpires? One effect is that both the media and state governments in some locales might benefit. The media is about to experience a windfall of whistleblowers who know exactly where all the bodies are buried. The press will play an outsized role. And for bureaucrats who have domestic policy experience, its possible that there will be some effort to migrate to states that value, um, the state.
In the end, however, I suppose this depends on whatyou think of the federal government. If you believe that the state simply exists to reward the looters and moochers of the world, this will be like celebrating every night like its New Years Eve. If you believe that civil service employees are mostly decent, competent people trying to do a difficult job, then this will be like celebrating every night like its New Years Eve, but for introverts.
See the rest here:
Posted: at 10:40 pm
The approach to interpreting the book of Revelation which has gained perhaps the widest exposure of all systems of interpretation in recent times is the futurist interpretation. This is a result of a number of seminaries in the recent past which have championed a literal interpretative approach to all of Scripture within a framework which understands related Old Testament passages and promises involving Israel, and which distinguishes between Israel and the Church. The futurist interpretation is the basic interpretive framework behind the hugely popular Left Behind series of novels by authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.1
Futurism derives from the consistent application of literal hermeneutics, the Golden Rule of Interpretation, across the entire body of Scripture, including the book of Revelation. Contrary to the claims of many of its critics, it is not an a priori view which is imposed on the text.2 As evidenced by the testimony of the early Church, futurism is the most natural result of a plain reading of the text and the way that most unbiased readers would understand the book on their first reading.
Futurism gets its label from its refusal to see unfulfilled passages as having been fulfilled by approximately similar events in the past. Hence, it holds that many of the events in the book of Revelation await future fulfillment:
The futurist generally believes that all of the visions from Revelation Rev. 4:1+ to the end of the book are yet to be fulfilled in the period immediately preceding and following the second advent of Christ. The reason for the view is found in the comparison of Revelation Rev. 1:1+, Rev. 1:19+ and Rev. 4:1+.3
Futurists see eschatological passages being fulfilled during a future time, primarily during the seventieth week of Daniel, at the second coming of Christ, and during the millennium. While all dispensationalists are futurists, not all futurists are dispensationalists. Futurists are also the most literal in their interpretation of prophecy passages. Dr. Tenney says: The more literal an interpretation that one adopts, the more strongly will he be construed to be a futurist.4
There are two forms of this approach, dispensationalism and what has been called classic premillennialism. Dispensationalists believe that God has brought about his plan of salvation in a series of dispensations or stages centering on his election of Israel to be his covenant people. Therefore, the church age is a parenthesis in this plan, as God turned to the Gentiles until the Jewish people find national revival (Rom. Rom. 11:1;25-32). At the end of that period, the church will be raptured, inaugurating a seven-year tribulation period in the middle of which the Antichrist will make himself known (Rev. Rev. 13:1+) and instigate the great tribulation . . . At the end of that period . . . Christ returns in judgment, followed by a literal millennium (Rev. Rev. 20:1-10+), great white throne judgment (Rev. Rev. 20:11-15+), and the beginning of eternity . . . Classical premillennialism is similar but does not hold to dispensations. Thus there is only one return of Christ, after the tribulation period (Mtt. Mat. 24:29-31; cf. Rev. Rev. 19:11-21+) and it is the whole church, not just the nation of Israel, that passes through the tribulation period.6
When Knowles deals with the next major contributorsIrenaeus (130-200) and his disciple Hippolytus (170-236)he describes their views as undoubtedly the forerunners of the modern dispensational interpreters of the Seventy Weeks. Knowles draws the following conclusion about Irenaeus and Hippolytus: . . .we may say that Irenaeus presented the seed of an idea that found its full growth in the writings of Hippolytus. In the works of these fathers, we can find most of the basic concepts of the modern futuristic view of the seventieth week of Daniel ix. That they were dependent to some extent upon earlier material is no doubt true. Certainly we can see the influence of pre-Christian Jewish exegesis at times, but, by and large, we must regard them as the founders of the school of interpretation, and in this lies their significance for the history of exegesis.9
[Justin Martyr] asserts that it teaches a literal Millennial Kingdom of the saints to be established in Jerusalem, and after the thousand years the general resurrection and judgment. . . . Irenaeus . . . finds in the book the doctrine of chiliasm, that is, of an earthly Millennial Kingdom. . . . Hippolytus is a chiliast . . . identifies . . . Antichrist, who was represented by Antiochus Epiphanes and who will come out of the tribe of Dan, will reign 3 1/2 years, persecuting the Church and putting to death the two Witnesses, the forerunners of the parousia (held to be Elijah and Enoch). . . . Victorinus . . . understands the Revelation in a literal, chiliastic, sense . . . The two witnesses are Elijah and Jeremiah; the 144,000 are Jews who in the last days will be converted by the preaching of Elijah . . . the false prophet, will cause the image of Antichrist to be set up in the temple at Jerusalem.11
Unfortunately, with the rise of allegorical interpretation and the opposition of the heresy of Montanism (which utilized an extravagant form of millennial teaching drawn from the book of Revelation),12 the futurist view fell into disfavor, not to be seen in a favorable light again for over a thousand years.13
During the Reformation, literal interpretation flourished in response to the allegorical methods employed throughout the Middle Ages by the Roman Church. However, the Reformers never fully extended literalism to prophetic passages and key Reformers did not fully appreciate the book of Revelation.
The primary fork in the road between futurism and all other systems of interpretation concerning the book of Revelation comes in the refusal of the futurist to be imprecise with the details of Gods revelation.14 For example, when a passage states that a man Rev. 13:13+), the futurist expects fulfillment to involve: (1) a man; (2) performing great signs in a similar way that great signs were performed in the OT and by Christ in the gospels; (3) who calls down literal fire from literal heaven as was done in the OT; (4) viewed by other men. He then asks the simple question: Is there any reliable historic record of such an event since the time of Johns writing? The obvious answer is, No! Hence this event awaits future fulfillment. It really is that simple!
There is a strong connection between literal interpretation and futurism: The more literal an interpretation that one adopts, the more strongly will he be construed to be a futurist.15 Literal interpretation allows the text to speak for itself:16
Critics frequently misrepresent futurism as if it places its entire emphasis on understanding the book of Revelation as applying to the future: The futurist position especially encounters the difficulty that the book would have had no significant relevance for a first-century readership. [emphasis added]17
This is a major misunderstanding of the futurist position which holds that the early chapters of the book are specifically addressed to the then-existing churches in Asia Minor and fully appreciates the historical setting and contents of these passages. Moreover, futurism concurs with Swete that the events of the book of Revelation are relevant in every age as a great source of blessing and security for persecuted believers:
In the Epistle of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons, written in 177 to their brethren in Asia and Phrygia, which bears many signs of the use of the Apocalypse by the Christian societies of South Gaul during the troubles in the reign of Marcus Aurelius. . . . It is impossible to doubt that the roll which contained St Johns great letter to the parent Churches in Asia was often in the hands of the daughter Churches in Gaul, and perhaps accompanied the confessors to the prisons where they awaited the martyrs crown.18
The mistake being made is constraining the book of Revelation as if it had only a single purpose. No matter which view is taken, if one fails to understand the many purposes of the book, the interpretive result will be the lacking. Preterist Chilton remarks: No Biblical writer ever revealed the future merely for the sake of satisfying curiosity: The goal was always to direct Gods people toward right action in the present. . . . The prophets told of the future only in order to stimulate godly living. [emphasis added]19 If Chilton were correct, then there would be little reason for prophecy to be predictive. The fact is, the prophets gave prophecy for more reasons than merely the stimulation of godly living. This was indeed an important reason, but not the only reason. The many fulfilled prophecies testifying to the identity of Jesus at His First Coming provide an abundant counter example to Chiltons claim.
It is a misrepresentation of the futurist interpretation to assert that it denies the relevance of the text to the first-century readership. This is tantamount to saying that appreciating the prophetic predictions throughout Scripture essentially denies the relevance of the same passages to those who originally received them. The pattern of prophetic passages throughout Scripture is clearly one of both immediate local application and future prediction. Even in cases where there is no immediate local application by way of historical events (e.g., Isa. Isa. 53:1), the passages still contain inestimable worth to the original recipients in setting forth the will of God as well as inspirational value in the sure hope of what God will do in the future (Rom. Rom. 8:24-25). In the Apocalypse, this dual application of prophetic Scripture (both immediate/local and future/remote) is made explicit in the organizational framework set forth by Christ (Rev. Rev. 1:19+) and in the setting off of the seven epistles from the remaining material.
Other criticisms of futurism are manifestly silly. Gregg denies futurists the right to use the analogy of Scripture (Scripture interprets Scripture):
A major feature of the Tribulation expected by futurists is its seven-year duration, divided in the middle by the Antichrists violating a treaty he had made with Israel and setting up an image of himself in the rebuilt Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Yet none of these elements can be discovered from a literal interpretation of any passage in Revelation. . . . The futurist believes that Revelation Rev. 20:1+ describes a period of world peace and justice with Christ reigning on earth from Jerusalem, though no part of this description can be found in the chapter itself, taken literally. This observation does not mean that this futurist scenario cannot be true. But it must be derived by reading into the passages in Revelation features that are not plainly stated.20
Obviously, care needs to be exercised when connecting passages which seem to have related aspects, but if a good case can be made for a correlation, then the interpreter who fails in this synthesis is failing in his task before God. Chiding futurists who correlate the little horn of Daniel (Dan. Dan. 7:8), the man of sin of Paul (2Th. 2Th. 2:3), and the Beast of Revelation (Rev. Rev. 13:1+) because of obvious and intentional similarities given in Scripture, but providing no sensible or profitable synthesis in its place is a pattern frequently demonstrated by critics. This is the primary reason why futurists can offer a systematic and detailed outline of eschatological events while the other systems fail to provide anything even remotely similar. It almost seems that the critics of futurism dislike the certainty and coherence it offers in its interpretation of prophecy. But if God supernaturally gave the inspired Scriptures through a single author (the Holy Spirit), why shouldnt such coherence and correlation be expected?
To the futurist, the book of Revelation has relevancy to John, to the seven churches of Asia, to the Church throughout history, and to the saints all the way through the Second Coming of Christ and into the eternal state. Now thats relevancy!
The book of Revelation is important to us because it portrays the world as a global village. Entering the twenty-first century, no better expression describes our earth and its people. Besides a mushrooming population, other factors are pushing all humanity together, such as an interlinking economy, jet age transportation, and satellite communications.21
1 Dr. Tim LaHaye is a noted futurist theologian having published numerous works on prophecy, some of which we draw on in this work. See the bibliography.
2 We can offer our own experience in support of this claim. Having been born-again and taught for five years within a Church which embraced preterism, it was our own careful study of the details of Scripture across the entire span of books which caused us to reject preterism in favor of what we only later came to understand was called futurism.
3 Merrill C. Tenney, Interpreting Revelation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1957), 139.
4 Thomas Ice, What Is Preterism?, in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 21.
5 There is also a form of extreme futurism in which even the first three chapters of the book of Revelation are seen as yet future. [E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935)]
6 Grant R. Osborne, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 20-21.
7 Alan F. Johnson, Revelation: The Expositors Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 12.
8 In two places, Jerome stated clearly that John was banished under Domitian. First, in his Against Jovinianum (A.D. 393), Jerome wrote that John was a prophet, for he saw in the island of Patmos, to which he had been banished by the Emperor Domitian as a martyr for the Lord, an Apocalypse containing boundless mysteries of the future. Mark Hitchcock, The Stake in the HeartThe A.D. 95 Date of Revelation, in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 135.
9 Thomas Ice, The 70 Weeks of Daniel, in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 350.
10 The early church fathers believed in a literal, thousand-year, earthly reign of Christ because they interpreted the teachings of Revelation in a normal rather than mystical way.Larry V. Crutchfield, Revelation in the New Testament, in Mal Couch, ed., A Bible Handbook to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 25.
11 Isbon T. Beckwith, The Apocalypse of John (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001), 320.
12 The opposition to the heresy of Montanism, which made great use of the Apocalypse and gave extravagant form to its millennial teaching, caused it to be either rejected or differently interpreted.Ibid., 323.
13 This was the method employed by some of the earliest fathers (e.g., Justin, Irenaeus, Hippolytus), but with the triumph of the allegorical method . . . after Origen and of the amillennial view after Augustine and Ticonius, the futurist method (and chiliasm) was not seen again for over a thousand years.Osborne, Revelation, 20.
14 As we noted earlier, this is one reason why many who are trained in the sciences and engineering tend toward this view of Scripture. Being trained in logic and the analysis of details, we reject the approximate fulfillments and interpretations of the other systems in favor of a God Who fulfills His predictions down to the gnats eyelash.
15 Tenney, Interpreting Revelation, 142.
16 Dispensationalism is actually built on the idea of letting the Bible speak for itself with a normal, literal hermeneutic. If simple rules of grammar and observation are put into place, the Scriptures will begin to make sense, from Genesis to Revelation.Mal Couch, Why is Revelation Important?, in Mal Couch, ed., A Bible Handbook to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 41.
17 Gregory K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 47.
18 Henry Barclay Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998, 1906), xciii.
19 David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance (Tyler, TX: Dominion Press, 1987), 27.
20 Steve Gregg, Revelation Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 41.
21 Couch, Why is Revelation Important?, 17.
Posted: December 11, 2016 at 7:54 am
Liberty, in philosophy, involves free will as contrasted with determinism. In politics, liberty consists of the social and political freedoms to which all community members are entitled. In theology, liberty is freedom from the effects of “sin, spiritual servitude, [or] worldly ties.”
Generally, liberty is distinctly differentiated from freedom in that freedom is primarily, if not exclusively, the ability to do as one wills and what one has the power to do; whereas liberty concerns the absence of arbitrary restraints and takes into account the rights of all involved. As such, the exercise of liberty is subject to capability and limited by the rights of others.
Philosophers from earliest times have considered the question of liberty. Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121180 AD) wrote of “a polity in which there is the same law for all, a polity administered with regard to equal rights and equal freedom of speech, and the idea of a kingly government which respects most of all the freedom of the governed.” According to Thomas Hobbes (15881679), “a free man is he that in those things which by his strength and wit he is able to do is not hindered to do what he hath the will to do” (Leviathan, Part 2, Ch. XXI).
John Locke (16321704) rejected that definition of liberty. While not specifically mentioning Hobbes, he attacks Sir Robert Filmer who had the same definition. According to Locke:
John Stuart Mill (18061873), in his work, On Liberty, was the first to recognize the difference between liberty as the freedom to act and liberty as the absence of coercion. In his book Two Concepts of Liberty, Isaiah Berlin formally framed the differences between these two perspectives as the distinction between two opposite concepts of liberty: positive liberty and negative liberty. The latter designates a negative condition in which an individual is protected from tyranny and the arbitrary exercise of authority, while the former refers to the liberty that comes from self-mastery, the freedom from inner compulsions such as weakness and fear.
The modern concept of political liberty has its origins in the Greek concepts of freedom and slavery. To be free, to the Greeks, was to not have a master, to be independent from a master (to live like one likes). That was the original Greek concept of freedom. It is closely linked with the concept of democracy, as Aristotle put it:
“This, then, is one note of liberty which all democrats affirm to be the principle of their state. Another is that a man should live as he likes. This, they say, is the privilege of a freeman, since, on the other hand, not to live as a man likes is the mark of a slave. This is the second characteristic of democracy, whence has arisen the claim of men to be ruled by none, if possible, or, if this is impossible, to rule and be ruled in turns; and so it contributes to the freedom based upon equality.”
This applied only to free men. In Athens, for instance, women could not vote or hold office and were legally and socially dependent on a male relative.
The populations of the Persian Empire enjoyed some degree of freedom. Citizens of all religions and ethnic groups were given the same rights and had the same freedom of religion, women had the same rights as men, and slavery was abolished (550 BC). All the palaces of the kings of Persia were built by paid workers in an era when slaves typically did such work.
In the Buddhist Maurya Empire of ancient India, citizens of all religions and ethnic groups had some rights to freedom, tolerance, and equality. The need for tolerance on an egalitarian basis can be found in the Edicts of Ashoka the Great, which emphasize the importance of tolerance in public policy by the government. The slaughter or capture of prisoners of war also appears to have been condemned by Ashoka. Slavery also appears to have been non-existent in the Maurya Empire. However, according to Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund, “Ashoka’s orders seem to have been resisted right from the beginning.”
Roman law also embraced certain limited forms of liberty, even under the rule of the Roman Emperors. However, these liberties were accorded only to Roman citizens. Many of the liberties enjoyed under Roman law endured through the Middle Ages, but were enjoyed solely by the nobility, rarely by the common man. The idea of inalienable and universal liberties had to wait until the Age of Enlightenment.
The social contract theory, most influentially formulated by Hobbes, John Locke and Rousseau (though first suggested by Plato in The Republic), was among the first to provide a political classification of rights, in particular through the notion of sovereignty and of natural rights. The thinkers of the Enlightenment reasoned that law governed both heavenly and human affairs, and that law gave the king his power, rather than the king’s power giving force to law. This conception of law would find its culmination in the ideas of Montesquieu. The conception of law as a relationship between individuals, rather than families, came to the fore, and with it the increasing focus on individual liberty as a fundamental reality, given by “Nature and Nature’s God,” which, in the ideal state, would be as universal as possible.
In On Liberty, John Stuart Mill sought to define the “…nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual,” and as such, he describes an inherent and continuous antagonism between liberty and authority and thus, the prevailing question becomes “how to make the fitting adjustment between individual independence and social control”.
England and following the Act of Union 1707 Great Britain, laid down the cornerstones to the concept of individual liberty.
In 1166 Henry II of England transformed English law by passing the Assize of Clarendon act. The act, a forerunner to trial by jury, started the abolition of trial by combat and trial by ordeal.
In 1215 the Magna Carta was drawn up, it became the cornerstone of liberty in first England, Great Britain and later, the world.
In 1689 the Bill of Rights grants ‘freedom of speech in Parliament’, which lays out some of the earliest civil rights.
In 1859 an essay by the philosopher John Stuart Mill, entitled On Liberty argues for toleration and individuality. If any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.
In 1958 Two Concepts of Liberty, by Isaiah Berlin, determines ‘negative liberty’ as an obstacle, as evident from ‘positive liberty’ which promotes self-mastery and the concepts of freedom.
In 1948 British representatives attempt to and are prevented from adding a legal framework to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (It was not until 1976 that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights came into force, giving a legal status to most of the Declaration.) 
The United States of America was one of the first nations to be founded on principles of freedom and equality, with no king and no hereditary nobility. According to the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence, all men have a natural right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. But this declaration of liberty was troubled from the outset by the presence of slavery. Slave owners argued that their liberty was paramount, since it involved property, their slaves, and that the slaves themselves had no rights that any White man was obliged to recognize. The Supreme Court, in the Dred Scott decision, upheld this principle. It was not until 1866, following the Civil War, that the US constitution was amended to extend these rights to persons of color, and not until 1920 that these rights were extended to women.
By the later half of the 20th century, liberty was expanded further to prohibit government interference with personal choices. In the United States Supreme Court decision Griswold v. Connecticut, Justice William O. Douglas argued that liberties relating to personal relationships, such as marriage, have a unique primacy of place in the hierarchy of freedoms. Jacob M. Appel has summarized this principle:
I am grateful that I have rights in the proverbial public square but, as a practical matter, my most cherished rights are those that I possess in my bedroom and hospital room and death chamber. Most people are far more concerned that they can control their own bodies than they are about petitioning Congress.
In modern America, various competing ideologies have divergent views about how best to promote liberty. Liberals in the original sense of the word see equality as a necessary component of freedom. Progressives stress freedom from business monopoly as essential. Libertarians disagree, and see economic freedom as best. The Tea Party movement sees big government as the enemy of freedom.
France supported the Americans in their revolt against English rule and, in 1789, overthrew their own monarchy, with the cry of “Libert, galit, fraternit”. The bloodbath that followed, known as the reign of terror, soured many people on the idea of liberty. Edmund Burke, considered one of the fathers of conservatism, wrote “The French had shewn themselves the ablest architects of ruin that had hitherto existed in the world.”
According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics, liberalism is “the belief that it is the aim of politics to preserve individual rights and to maximize freedom of choice”. But they point out that there is considerable discussion about how to achieve those goals. Every discussion of freedom depends of three key components: who is free, what are they free to do, and what forces restrict their freedom. John Gray argues that the core belief of liberalism is toleration. Liberals allow others freedom to do what they want, in exchange for having the same freedom in return. This idea of freedom is personal rather than political. William Safire points out that liberalism is attacked by both the Right and the Left: by the Right for defending such practices as abortion, homosexuality, and atheism, by the Left for defending free enterprise and the rights of the individual over the collective.
According to the Encyclopdia Britannica, Libertarians hold liberty as their primary political value. Libertarian philosophers hold that there is no tenable distinction between personal and economic liberty that they are, indeed, one and the same, to be protected (or opposed) together. In the context of U.S. constitutional law, for example, they point out that the constitution twice lists “life, liberty, and property” without making any distinctions within that phrase. Their approach to implementing liberty involves opposing any governmental coercion, aside from that which is necessary to prevent individuals from coercing each other. This is known as the non-aggression principle.
According to republican theorists of freedom, like the historian Quentin Skinner or the philosopher Philip Pettit, one’s liberty should not be viewed as the absence of interference in one’s actions, but as non-domination. According to this view, which originates in the Roman Digest, to be a liber homo, a free man, means not being subject to another’s arbitrary will, that is to say, dominated by another. They also cite Machiavelli who asserted that you must be a member of a free self-governing civil association, a republic, if you are to enjoy individual liberty.
The predominance of this view of liberty among parliamentarians during the English Civil War resulted in the creation of the liberal concept of freedom as non-interference in Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan.
Socialists view freedom as a concrete situation as opposed to a purely abstract ideal. Freedom involves agency to pursue one’s creative interests unhindered by coercive social relationships that one is forced to engage in in order to survive under a given social system. From this perspective, freedom requires both the material economic conditions that make freedom possible alongside the social relationships and institutions conducive to freedom. As such, the socialist concept of freedom is held in contrast to the liberal concept of freedom.
The socialist conception of freedom is closely related to the socialist view of creativity and individuality. Influenced by Karl Marx’s concept of alienated labor, socialists understand freedom to be the ability for an individual to engage in creative work in the absence of alienation, where alienated labor refers to work people are forced to perform and un-alienated work refers to individuals pursuing their own creative interests.
For Karl Marx, meaningful freedom is only attainable in a communist society characterized by superabundance and free access, would eliminate the need for alienated labor and enable individuals to pursue their own creative interests, leaving them to develop their full potentialities. This goes alongside Marx’s emphasis on the reduction of the average length of the workday to expand the “realm of freedom” for each person. Marx’s notion of communist society and human freedom is thus radically individualistic.
“This also is remarkable in India, that all Indians are free, and no Indian at all is a slave. In this the Indians agree with the Lacedaemonians. Yet the Lacedaemonians have Helots for slaves, who perform the duties of slaves; but the Indians have no slaves at all, much less is any Indian a slave.”
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Posted: at 7:41 am
Jason Brennan opens the second chapter of Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know with the question: How do libertarians define liberty? He answers his question by distinguishing between two major kinds of liberty: negative liberty and positive liberty. Negative liberty, Brennan explains, signifies an absence of obstacles, impediments, or constraints. Positive liberty, in contrast,
is the power or capacity to do as one chooses. For instance, when we talk about being free as a bird, we mean that the bird has the power or ability to fly. We do not mean that people rarely interfere with birds.
Negative liberty is the absence of obstacles; positive liberty is the presence of powers or abilities.
Brennans bird does not serve his purpose; it is a poor example. When we speak of being free as a bird, we dont usually mean what Brennan claims we mean. To be free as a bird suggests more than the power or ability to fly. It also suggests that the exercise of that ability is not hindered by external constraints. The fantasy of being free as a bird is linked to the desire to be free from external constraintsor, as Brennan puts it in his account of negative liberty, to act in the absence of obstacles.
The connection between the ability to fly and negative freedom is expressed in these famous lyrics from The Prisoners Song:
Now, if I had the wings of an angel, Over these prison walls I would fly.
When we speak of a bird as being free to fly, we assume that the bird in question has not been confined in a cage. We would not normally speak, for example, of a caged canary as being free to fly. This way of speaking suggests that a bird can exercise its ability to fly without external constraints, such as by being locked in a cage. The notion of negative freedom is, at the very least, an implicit presupposition of all such examples.
Of course, a caged bird may be free to fly around inside his cage to some extent, just as a human prisoner in solitary confinement may be free to walk within the confines of his tiny cell. Such cases illustrate the fact that negative freedom, or liberty (the terms are normally used interchangeably), may exist in varying degrees. But to say that a prisoner possesses the positive freedom to walk merely because he possesses the power or ability to walk (as Brennans bird is said to be free to fly in virtue of its ability to fly) is to use the word freedom in a peculiar way.
According to the positive conception of freedom (as summarized by Brennan), the fact of imprisonment would not even diminish a prisoners freedom to walk, so long as he remains able to walk. Even a prisoner bound tightly in chains would still be free to walk in the positive sense, provided he retained the ability to walk. When we say that a chained prisoner is not free to walk, we mean that he is constrained and therefore lacks the negative freedom to walk as he chooses, not that he lacks the power or ability to walk per se.
I may seem to be nitpicking here, and so I might be if not for Brennans attempt to incorporate positive liberty into libertarian theory. As he puts it (p. 27):
Until recently, most libertarians tended to argue that the only real kind of liberty is negative liberty. The believed the concept of positive liberty was confused. For a long time, the status quo was that libertarians and classical liberals advocated a negative conception of liberty, while left-liberals, socialists, and Marxists advocated a positive conception of liberty.
Brennan assures us that the status quo has begun to change: Recently, though, many libertarians have begun to accept both negative and positive liberty.
When contemporary libertarians say they want a free society, they mean that they want both (1) a society in which people do not interfere with each other and (2) a society in which most people have the means and ability to achieve their goals.
I confess to being unclear about the identity of the many libertarians who embrace positive liberty; but judging by Brennans subsequent mention of a book he co-authored with David Schmidtz, he appears to mean neoclassical liberals. In his recommended readings at the end of his book, Brennan lists four authors (including himself) under the heading Neoclassical Liberalism.
Now, there are probably a few more neoclassical liberals roaming the halls of academe, and I wont quibble over how many libertarians it takes to qualify as many libertarians. But when Brennan moves from many libertarians to his much broader statement about what contemporary libertarians supposedly believe about positive liberty, I must question his sense of proportion.
Consider Brennans next statement: Until recently, most libertarians rejected the concept of positive liberty. Until recently? Admittedly, I am not as active in the libertarian movement as I once was, but I doubt if I missed a sea change in regard to what most libertarians (including conventional classical liberals) think about the notion of positive liberty.
Brennan is again exaggerating the influence of his band of neoclassical liberals. A handful of academic philosophers does not a movement make.
Lets proceed to the more substantive problems in Brennans account. Why was the notion of positive liberty traditionally rejected by libertarians? According to Brennan, libertarians thought that if positive libertyunderstood as the power to achieve ones endscounted as a form of liberty, this would automatically license socialism and a heavy welfare state. Since they opposed socialism and a heavy welfare state, they rejected the concept of positive liberty.
This explanation is neither accurate nor fair; traditional libertarian objections to positive liberty were far more sophisticated than Brennan would have us believe. I will cover some of those objections in my next essay. For now, we should try to understand what the point of all this is. Why, for instance, do we find Brennan (p. 28) asking this loaded question: Why do many libertarians now accept positive liberty? Brennan explains:
Contemporary libertarians tend to embrace positive liberty. They agree that the power to achieve ones goals really is a form of liberty. They agree with Marxists and socialists that this form of liberty is valuable, and that negative liberty without positive liberty is often of little value.
Permit me to be blunt: contemporary libertarians, on the whole, tend to embrace no such thing. They do not agree with Marxists and socialists on this matter. On the contrary, they tend to argue that positive liberty is not a form of liberty at all, if by form we mean to suggest that positive and negative liberty are two species of the same genus. Rather, as Murray Rothbard wrote in Power and Market (p. 221), freedom pertains to interference by other persons. The word, in a social context, refers to absence of molestation by other persons; it is purely an interpersonal problem.
I see no evidence to indicate that the mainstream of libertarian thinking has changed substantially from this description of liberty given in 1773 by the American clergyman Simeon Howard:
Though this word [liberty] is used in various senses, I mean by it here, only that liberty which is opposed to external force and constraint and to such force and constraint only, as we may suffer from men. Under the term liberty, taken in this sense, may naturally be comprehended all those advantages which are liable to be destroyed by the art or power of men; everything that is opposed to temporal slavery.
According to this approach, negative liberty (the absence of coercive interference by others) is itself the fundamental means by which individuals are enabled to pursue their own values as they see fit. Brennan doesnt disagree with this assertion, as we see in his remark (p. 29) that protecting negative liberties is the most important and effective way of promoting positive liberty.
Thus, a commitment to positive liberty does not license socialism; it forbids it. Marxists say that positive liberty is the only real liberty. This real liberty is found in market societies, and almost nowhere else.
Brennan obviously wishes to turn the notion of positive liberty against socialists and other advocates of expansive governmental powers; whether his efforts are successful is a problem I shall take up at a later time. For now I wish only to point out that everything Brennan wants to say could easily be said without dragging in the notion of positive liberty at all. What we have here, in my judgment, is a type of political correctness run amok.
Will socialists, seduced by Brennans endorsement of positive liberty, see the light and agree that free markets are the best means to attain their cherished goal of positive liberty for everyone? As the old saying goes, there are two chances of this happening: fat and slim. By needlessly incorporating positive liberty into libertarian theory and, even worse, by claiming that negative liberty without positive liberty often has no value, Brennan has opened the barn door so wide as to admit all manner of anti-libertarian proposals.
Brennan appeals to historical fact to support his claim that free markets are the best way to achieve positive liberty. He would have gotten no objection from me if he had simply said, as Murray Rothbard put it in Power and Market (pp. 221-22), that it is precisely voluntary exchange and free capitalism that have led to an enormous improvement in living standards. Capitalist production is the only method by which poverty can be wiped out. But this straightforward claim wasnt good enough for Brennan, who succumbed to the desire to put old wine in a new libertarian bottle labeled positive liberty.
In short, Brennans attempt to incorporate positive liberty into libertarian theory accomplishes nothing more than to transform a strong argument for free markets into an argument that is perilously weak.
Anyone concerned with historical fact needs to understand why the notion of positive liberty proved so destructive to the negative liberty defended by classical liberals and libertarians. This will be the subject of my next essay.
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Negative and Positive Liberty | Libertarianism.org
Posted: December 7, 2016 at 8:03 am
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The power of transformation lies within yourself – solely and wholly.
Thou art God. Create yourself accordingly.
In these pages, you will learn the forbidden knowledge of the immortals. It has the power to free you from the tyranny of humanform mortality, and enable you to recreate yourself as anything you choose to be, for we live in a quantum universe where Thought is energy, and energy holds the key to transformation.
The only limits are those you bring with you.
The only restrictions are those you place on yourself.
Open your heart… inside you will discover the immortal twin: the vampire’s reflection, visible only to those who know how to See.
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Ageing, also spelled aging, is the process of becoming older. The term refers especially to human beings, many animals, and fungi, whereas for example bacteria, perennial plants and some simple animals are potentially immortal. In the broader sense, ageing can refer to single cells within an organism which have ceased dividing (cellular senescence) or to the population of a species (population ageing).
In humans, ageing represents the accumulation of changes in a human being over time, encompassing physical, psychological, and social change. Reaction time, for example, may slow with age, while knowledge of world events and wisdom may expand. Ageing is among the greatest known risk factors for most human diseases: of the roughly 150,000 people who die each day across the globe, about two thirds die from age-related causes.
The causes of ageing are unknown; current theories are assigned to the damage concept, whereby the accumulation of damage (such as DNA breaks, oxidised DNA and/or mitochondrial malfunctions) may cause biological systems to fail, or to the programmed ageing concept, whereby internal processes (such as DNA telomere shortening) may cause ageing. Programmed ageing should not be confused with programmed cell death (apoptosis).
The discovery, in 1934, that calorie restriction can extend lifespan by 50% in rats has motivated research into delaying and preventing ageing.
Human beings and members of other species, especially animals, necessarily experience ageing and mortality. Fungi, too, can age. In contrast, many species can be considered immortal: for example, bacteria fission to produce daughter cells, strawberry plants grow runners to produce clones of themselves, and animals in the genus Hydra have a regenerative ability with which they avoid dying of old age.
Early life forms on Earth, starting at least 3.7 billion years ago, were single-celled organisms. Such single-celled organisms (prokaryotes, protozoans, algae) multiply by fissioning into daughter cells, thus do not age and are innately immortal.
Ageing and mortality of the individual organism became possible with the evolution of sexual reproduction, which occurred with the emergence of the fungal/animal kingdoms approximately a billion years ago, and with the evolution of flowering plants 160 million years ago. The sexual organism could henceforth pass on some of its genetic material to produce new individuals and itself could become disposable with regards to the survival of its species. This classic biological idea has however been perturbed recently by the discovery that the bacterium E. coli may split into distinguishable daughter cells, which opens the theoretical possibility of “age classes” among bacteria.
Even within humans and other mortal species, there are cells with the potential for immortality: cancer cells which have lost the ability to die when maintained in cell culture such as the HeLa cell line, and specific stem cells such as germ cells (producing ova and spermatozoa). In artificial cloning, adult cells can be rejuvenated back to embryonic status and then used to grow a new tissue or animal without ageing. Normal human cells however die after about 50 cell divisions in laboratory culture (the Hayflick Limit, discovered by Leonard Hayflick in 1961).
A number of characteristic ageing symptoms are experienced by a majority or by a significant proportion of humans during their lifetimes.
Dementia becomes more common with age. About 3% of people between the ages of 6574 have dementia, 19% between 75 and 84 and nearly half of those over 85 years of age. The spectrum includes mild cognitive impairment and the neurodegenerative diseases of Alzheimer’s disease, cerebrovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Furthermore, many types of memory may decline with ageing, but not semantic memory or general knowledge such as vocabulary definitions, which typically increases or remains steady until late adulthood (see Ageing brain). Intelligence may decline with age, though the rate may vary depending on the type and may in fact remain steady throughout most of the lifespan, dropping suddenly only as people near the end of their lives. Individual variations in rate of cognitive decline may therefore be explained in terms of people having different lengths of life. There might be changes to the brain: after 20 years of age there may be a 10% reduction each decade in the total length of the brain’s myelinated axons.
Age can result in visual impairment, whereby non-verbal communication is reduced, which can lead to isolation and possible depression. Macular degeneration causes vision loss and increases with age, affecting nearly 12% of those above the age of 80. This degeneration is caused by systemic changes in the circulation of waste products and by growth of abnormal vessels around the retina.
A distinction can be made between “proximal ageing” (age-based effects that come about because of factors in the recent past) and “distal ageing” (age-based differences that can be traced back to a cause early in person’s life, such as childhood poliomyelitis).
Ageing is among the greatest known risk factors for most human diseases. Of the roughly 150,000 people who die each day across the globe, about two thirds100,000 per daydie from age-related causes. In industrialised nations, the proportion is higher, reaching 90%.
At present, researchers are only just beginning to understand the biological basis of ageing even in relatively simple and short-lived organisms such as yeast. Less still is known about mammalian ageing, in part due to the much longer lives in even small mammals such as the mouse (around 3 years). A primary model organism for studying ageing is the nematode C. elegans, thanks to its short lifespan of 23 weeks, the ability to easily perform genetic manipulations or suppress gene activity with RNA interference, and other factors. Most known mutations and RNA interference targets that extend lifespan were first discovered in C. elegans.
Factors that are proposed to influence biological ageing fall into two main categories, programmed and damage-related. Programmed factors follow a biological timetable, perhaps a continuation of the one that regulates childhood growth and development. This regulation would depend on changes in gene expression that affect the systems responsible for maintenance, repair and defence responses. Damage-related factors include internal and environmental assaults to living organisms that induce cumulative damage at various levels.
There are three main metabolic pathways which can influence the rate of ageing:
It is likely that most of these pathways affect ageing separately, because targeting them simultaneously leads to additive increases in lifespan.
The rate of ageing varies substantially across different species, and this, to a large extent, is genetically based. For example, numerous perennial plants ranging from strawberries and potatoes to willow trees typically produce clones of themselves by vegetative reproduction and are thus potentially immortal, while annual plants such as wheat and watermelons die each year and reproduce by sexual reproduction. In 2008 it was discovered that inactivation of only two genes in the annual plant Arabidopsis thaliana leads to its conversion into a potentially immortal perennial plant.
Clonal immortality apart, there are certain species whose individual lifespans stand out among Earth’s life-forms, including the bristlecone pine at 5062 years (however Hayflick states that the bristlecone pine has no cells older than 30 years), invertebrates like the hard clam (known as quahog in New England) at 508 years, the Greenland shark at 400 years, fish like the sturgeon and the rockfish, and the sea anemone and lobster. Such organisms are sometimes said to exhibit negligible senescence. The genetic aspect has also been demonstrated in studies of human centenarians.
In laboratory settings, researchers have demonstrated that selected alterations in specific genes can extend lifespan quite substantially in yeast and roundworms, less so in fruit flies and less again in mice. Some of the targeted genes have homologues across species and in some cases have been associated with human longevity.
Caloric restriction substantially affects lifespan in many animals, including the ability to delay or prevent many age-related diseases. Typically, this involves caloric intake of 6070% of what an ad libitum animal would consume, while still maintaining proper nutrient intake. In rodents, this has been shown to increase lifespan by up to 50%; similar effects occur for yeast and Drosophila. No lifespan data exist for humans on a calorie-restricted diet, but several reports support protection from age-related diseases. Two major ongoing studies on rhesus monkeys initially revealed disparate results; while one study, by the University of Wisconsin, showed that caloric restriction does extend lifespan, the second study, by the National Institute on Ageing (NIA), found no effects of caloric restriction on longevity. Both studies nevertheless showed improvement in a number of health parameters. Notwithstanding the similarly low calorie intake, the diet composition differed between the two studies (notably a high sucrose content in the Wisconsin study), and the monkeys have different origins (India, China), initially suggesting that genetics and dietary composition, not merely a decrease in calories, are factors in longevity. However, in a comparative analysis in 2014, the Wisconsin researchers found that the allegedly non-starved NIA control monkeys in fact are moderately underweight when compared with other monkey populations, and argued this was due to the NIA’s apportioned feeding protocol in contrast to Wisconsin’s truly unrestricted ad libitum feeding protocol. They conclude that moderate calorie restriction rather than extreme calorie restriction is sufficient to produce the observed health and longevity benefits in the studied rhesus monkeys.
In his book How and Why We Age, Hayflick says that caloric restriction may not be effective in humans, citing data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging which shows that being thin does not favour longevity.[need quotation to verify] Similarly, it is sometimes claimed that moderate obesity in later life may improve survival, but newer research has identified confounding factors such as weight loss due to terminal disease. Once these factors are accounted for, the optimal body weight above age 65 corresponds to a leaner body mass index of 23 to 27.
Alternatively, the benefits of dietary restriction can also be found by changing the macro nutrient profile to reduce protein intake without any changes to calorie level, resulting in similar increases in longevity. Dietary protein restriction not only inhibits mTOR activity but also IGF-1, two mechanisms implicated in ageing. Specifically, reducing leucine intake is sufficient to inhibit mTOR activity, achievable through reducing animal food consumption.
The Mediterranean diet is credited with lowering the risk of heart disease and early death. The major contributors to mortality risk reduction appear to be a higher consumption of vegetables, fish, fruits, nuts and monounsaturated fatty acids, i.e., olive oil.
The amount of sleep has an impact on mortality. People who live the longest report sleeping for six to seven hours each night. Lack of sleep (9 hours) is associated with a doubling of the risk of death, though not primarily from cardiovascular disease. Sleeping more than 7 to 8 hours per day has been consistently associated with increased mortality, though the cause is probably other factors such as depression and socioeconomic status, which would correlate statistically. Sleep monitoring of hunter-gatherer tribes from Africa and from South America has shown similar sleep patterns across continents: their average sleeping duration is 6.4 hours (with a summer/winter difference of 1 hour), afternoon naps (siestas) are uncommon, and insomnia is very rare (tenfold less than in industrial societies).
Physical exercise may increase life expectancy. People who participate in moderate to high levels of physical exercise have a lower mortality rate compared to individuals who are not physically active. Moderate levels of exercise have been correlated with preventing aging and improving quality of life by reducing inflammatory potential. The majority of the benefits from exercise are achieved with around 3500 metabolic equivalent (MET) minutes per week. For example, climbing stairs 10 minutes, vacuuming 15 minutes, gardening 20 minutes, running 20 minutes, and walking or bicycling for 25 minutes on a daily basis would together achieve about 3000 MET minutes a week.
Avoidance of chronic stress (as opposed to acute stress) is associated with a slower loss of telomeres in most but not all studies, and with decreased cortisol levels. A chronically high cortisol level compromises the immune system, causes cardiac damage/arterosclerosis and is associated with facial ageing, and the latter in turn is a marker for increased morbidity and mortality. Stress can be countered by social connection, spirituality, and (for men more clearly than for women) married life, all of which are associated with longevity.
The following drugs and interventions have been shown to retard or reverse the biological effects of ageing in animal models, but none has yet been proven to do so in humans.
Evidence in both animals and humans suggests that resveratrol may be a caloric restriction mimetic.
As of 2015 metformin was under study for its potential effect on slowing ageing in the worm C.elegans and the cricket. Its effect on otherwise healthy humans is unknown.
Rapamycin was first shown to extend lifespan in eukaryotes in 2006 by Powers et al. who showed a dose-responsive effect of rapamycin on lifespan extension in yeast cells. In a 2009 study, the lifespans of mice fed rapamycin were increased between 28 and 38% from the beginning of treatment, or 9 to 14% in total increased maximum lifespan. Of particular note, the treatment began in mice aged 20 months, the equivalent of 60 human years. Rapamycin has subsequently been shown to extend mouse lifespan in several separate experiments, and is now being tested for this purpose in nonhuman primates (the marmoset monkey).
Cancer geneticist Ronald A. DePinho and his colleagues published research in mice where telomerase activity was first genetically removed. Then, after the mice had prematurely aged, they restored telomerase activity by reactivating the telomerase gene. As a result, the mice were rejuvenated: Shrivelled testes grew back to normal and the animals regained their fertility. Other organs, such as the spleen, liver, intestines and brain, recuperated from their degenerated state. “[The finding] offers the possibility that normal human ageing could be slowed by reawakening the enzyme in cells where it has stopped working” says Ronald DePinho. However, activating telomerase in humans could potentially encourage the growth of tumours.
Most known genetic interventions in C. elegans increase lifespan by 1.5 to 2.5-fold. As of 2009[update], the record for lifespan extension in C. elegans is a single-gene mutation which increases adult survival by tenfold. The strong conservation of some of the mechanisms of ageing discovered in model organisms imply that they may be useful in the enhancement of human survival. However, the benefits may not be proportional; longevity gains are typically greater in C. elegans than fruit flies, and greater in fruit flies than in mammals. One explanation for this is that mammals, being much longer-lived, already have many traits which promote lifespan.
Some research effort is directed to slow ageing and extend healthy lifespan.
The US National Institute on Aging currently funds an intervention testing programme, whereby investigators nominate compounds (based on specific molecular ageing theories) to have evaluated with respect to their effects on lifespan and age-related biomarkers in outbred mice. Previous age-related testing in mammals has proved largely irreproducible, because of small numbers of animals and lax mouse husbandry conditions. The intervention testing programme aims to address this by conducting parallel experiments at three internationally recognised mouse ageing-centres, the Barshop Institute at UTHSCSA, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the Jackson Laboratory.
Several companies and organisations, such as Google Calico, Human Longevity, Craig Venter, Gero,SENS Research Foundation, and Science for Life Extension in Russia, declared stopping or delaying ageing as their goal.
Prizes for extending lifespan and slowing ageing in mammals exist. The Methuselah Foundation offers the Mprize. Recently, the $1 Million Palo Alto Longevity Prize was launched. It is a research incentive prize to encourage teams from all over the world to compete in an all-out effort to “hack the code” that regulates our health and lifespan. It was founded by Joon Yun.
Different cultures express age in different ways. The age of an adult human is commonly measured in whole years since the day of birth. Arbitrary divisions set to mark periods of life may include: juvenile (via infancy, childhood, preadolescence, adolescence), early adulthood, middle adulthood, and late adulthood. More casual terms may include “teenagers,” “tweens,” “twentysomething”, “thirtysomething”, etc. as well as “vicenarian”, “tricenarian”, “quadragenarian”, etc.
Most legal systems define a specific age for when an individual is allowed or obliged to do particular activities. These age specifications include voting age, drinking age, age of consent, age of majority, age of criminal responsibility, marriageable age, age of candidacy, and mandatory retirement age. Admission to a movie for instance, may depend on age according to a motion picture rating system. A bus fare might be discounted for the young or old. Each nation, government and non-governmental organisation has different ways of classifying age. In other words, chronological ageing may be distinguished from “social ageing” (cultural age-expectations of how people should act as they grow older) and “biological ageing” (an organism’s physical state as it ages).
In a UNFPA report about ageing in the 21st century, it highlighted the need to “Develop a new rights-based culture of ageing and a change of mindset and societal attitudes towards ageing and older persons, from welfare recipients to active, contributing members of society.” UNFPA said that this “requires, among others, working towards the development of international human rights instruments and their translation into national laws and regulations and affirmative measures that challenge age discrimination and recognise older people as autonomous subjects.” Older persons make contributions to society including caregiving and volunteering. For example, “A study of Bolivian migrants who [had] moved to Spain found that 69% left their children at home, usually with grandparents. In rural China, grandparents care for 38% of children aged under five whose parents have gone to work in cities.”
Population ageing is the increase in the number and proportion of older people in society. Population ageing has three possible causes: migration, longer life expectancy (decreased death rate) and decreased birth rate. Ageing has a significant impact on society. Young people tend to have fewer legal privileges (if they are below the age of majority), they are more likely to push for political and social change, to develop and adopt new technologies, and to need education. Older people have different requirements from society and government, and frequently have differing values as well, such as for property and pension rights.
In the 21st century, one of the most significant population trends is ageing. Currently, over 11% of the world’s current population are people aged 60 and older and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that by 2050 that number will rise to approximately 22%. Ageing has occurred due to development which has enabled better nutrition, sanitation, health care, education and economic well-being. Consequently, fertility rates have continued to decline and life expectancy have risen. Life expectancy at birth is over 80 now in 33 countries. Ageing is a “global phenomenon,” that is occurring fastest in developing countries, including those with large youth populations, and poses social and economic challenges to the work which can be overcome with “the right set of policies to equip individuals, families and societies to address these challenges and to reap its benefits.”
As life expectancy rises and birth rates decline in developed countries, the median age rises accordingly. According to the United Nations, this process is taking place in nearly every country in the world. A rising median age can have significant social and economic implications, as the workforce gets progressively older and the number of old workers and retirees grows relative to the number of young workers. Older people generally incur more health-related costs than do younger people in the workplace and can also cost more in worker’s compensation and pension liabilities. In most developed countries an older workforce is somewhat inevitable. In the United States for instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that one in four American workers will be 55 or older by 2020.
Among the most urgent concerns of older persons worldwide is income security. This poses challenges for governments with ageing populations to ensure investments in pension systems continues in order to provide economic independence and reduce poverty in old age. These challenges vary for developing and developed countries. UNFPA stated that, “Sustainability of these systems is of particular concern, particularly in developed countries, while social protection and old-age pension coverage remain a challenge for developing countries, where a large proportion of the labour force is found in the informal sector.”
The global economic crisis has increased financial pressure to ensure economic security and access to health care in old age. In order to elevate this pressure “social protection floors must be implemented in order to guarantee income security and access to essential health and social services for all older persons and provide a safety net that contributes to the postponement of disability and prevention of impoverishment in old age.”
It has been argued that population ageing has undermined economic development. Evidence suggests that pensions, while making a difference to the well-being of older persons, also benefit entire families especially in times of crisis when there may be a shortage or loss of employment within households. A study by the Australian Government in 2003 estimated that “women between the ages of 65 and 74 years contribute A$16 billion per year in unpaid caregiving and voluntary work. Similarly, men in the same age group contributed A$10 billion per year.”
Due to increasing share of the elderly in the population, health care expenditures will continue to grow relative to the economy in coming decades. This has been considered as a negative phenomenon and effective strategies like labour productivity enhancement should be considered to deal with negative consequences of ageing.
In the field of sociology and mental health, ageing is seen in five different views: ageing as maturity, ageing as decline, ageing as a life-cycle event, ageing as generation, and ageing as survival. Positive correlates with ageing often include economics, employment, marriage, children, education, and sense of control, as well as many others. The social science of ageing includes disengagement theory, activity theory, selectivity theory, and continuity theory. Retirement, a common transition faced by the elderly, may have both positive and negative consequences. As cyborgs currently are on the rise some theorists argue there is a need to develop new definitions of ageing and for instance a bio-techno-social definition of ageing has been suggested.
With age inevitable biological changes occur that increase the risk of illness and disability. UNFPA states that,
“A life-cycle approach to health care one that starts early, continues through the reproductive years and lasts into old age is essential for the physical and emotional well-being of older persons, and, indeed, all people. Public policies and programmes should additionally address the needs of older impoverished people who cannot afford health care.”
Many societies in Western Europe and Japan have ageing populations. While the effects on society are complex, there is a concern about the impact on health care demand. The large number of suggestions in the literature for specific interventions to cope with the expected increase in demand for long-term care in ageing societies can be organised under four headings: improve system performance; redesign service delivery; support informal caregivers; and shift demographic parameters.
However, the annual growth in national health spending is not mainly due to increasing demand from ageing populations, but rather has been driven by rising incomes, costly new medical technology, a shortage of health care workers and informational asymmetries between providers and patients. A number of health problems become more prevalent as people get older. These include mental health problems as well as physical health problems, especially dementia.
It has been estimated that population ageing only explains 0.2 percentage points of the annual growth rate in medical spending of 4.3% since 1970. In addition, certain reforms to the Medicare system in the United States decreased elderly spending on home health care by 12.5% per year between 1996 and 2000.
Positive self-perception of health has been correlated with higher well-being and reduced mortality in the elderly. Various reasons have been proposed for this association; people who are objectively healthy may naturally rate their health better than that of their ill counterparts, though this link has been observed even in studies which have controlled for socioeconomic status, psychological functioning and health status. This finding is generally stronger for men than women, though this relationship is not universal across all studies and may only be true in some circumstances.
As people age, subjective health remains relatively stable, even though objective health worsens. In fact, perceived health improves with age when objective health is controlled in the equation. This phenomenon is known as the “paradox of ageing.” This may be a result of social comparison; for instance, the older people get, the more they may consider themselves in better health than their same-aged peers. Elderly people often associate their functional and physical decline with the normal ageing process.
The concept of successful ageing can be traced back to the 1950s and was popularised in the 1980s. Traditional definitions of successful ageing have emphasised absence of physical and cognitive disabilities. In their 1987 article, Rowe and Kahn characterised successful ageing as involving three components: a) freedom from disease and disability, b) high cognitive and physical functioning, and c) social and productive engagement.
The ancient Greek dramatist Euripides (5th century BC) describes the multiply-headed mythological monster Hydra as having a regenerative capacity which makes it immortal, which is the historical background to the name of the biological genus Hydra. The Book of Job (c. 6th century BC) describes human lifespan as inherently limited and makes a comparison with the innate immortality that a felled tree may have when undergoing vegetative regeneration.
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Ageing – Wikipedia
Posted: at 11:25 pm
Three weeks ago, around a quarter of the American population elected a demagogue with no prior experience in public service to the presidency. In the eyes of many of his supporters, this lack of preparation was not a liability, but a strength. Donald Trump had run as a candidate whose primary qualification was that he was not a politician. Depicting yourself as a maverick or an outsider crusading against a corrupt Washington establishment is the oldest trick in American politics but Trump took things further. He broke countless unspoken rules regarding what public figures can or cannot do and say.
Every demagogue needs an enemy. Trumps was the ruling elite, and his charge was that they were not only failing to solve the greatest problems facing Americans, they were trying to stop anyone from even talking about those problems. The special interests, the arrogant media, and the political insiders, dont want me to talk about the crime that is happening in our country, Trump said in one late September speech. They want me to just go along with the same failed policies that have caused so much needless suffering.
Trump claimed that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were willing to let ordinary Americans suffer because their first priority was political correctness. They have put political correctness above common sense, above your safety, and above all else, Trump declared after a Muslim gunman killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando. I refuse to be politically correct. What liberals might have seen as language changing to reflect an increasingly diverse society in which citizens attempt to avoid giving needless offence to one another Trump saw a conspiracy.
Throughout an erratic campaign, Trump consistently blasted political correctness, blaming it for an extraordinary range of ills and using the phrase to deflect any and every criticism. During the first debate of the Republican primaries, Fox News host Megyn Kelly asked Trump how he would answer the charge that he was part of the war on women.
Youve called women you dont like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals, Kelly pointed out. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees
I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct, Trump answered, to audience applause. Ive been challenged by so many people, I dont frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesnt have time either.
Trump used the same defence when critics raised questions about his statements on immigration. In June 2015, after Trump referred to Mexicans as rapists, NBC, the network that aired his reality show The Apprentice, announced that it was ending its relationship with him. Trumps team retorted that, NBC is weak, and like everybody else is trying to be politically correct.
In August 2016, after saying that the US district judge Gonzalo Curiel of San Diego was unfit to preside over the lawsuit against Trump Universities because he was Mexican American and therefore likely to be biased against him, Trump told CBS News that this was common sense. He continued: We have to stop being so politically correct in this country. During the second presidential debate, Trump answered a question about his proposed ban on Muslims by stating: We could be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem.
Trump and his followers never defined ‘political correctness, or specified who was enforcing it. They did not have to
Every time Trump said something outrageous commentators suggested he had finally crossed a line and that his campaign was now doomed. But time and again, Trump supporters made it clear that they liked him because he wasnt afraid to say what he thought. Fans praised the way Trump talked much more often than they mentioned his policy proposals. He tells it like it is, they said. He speaks his mind. He is not politically correct.
Trump and his followers never defined political correctness, or specified who was enforcing it. They did not have to. The phrase conjured powerful forces determined to suppress inconvenient truths by policing language.
There is an obvious contradiction involved in complaining at length, to an audience of hundreds of millions of people, that you are being silenced. But this idea that there is a set of powerful, unnamed actors, who are trying to control everything you do, right down to the words you use is trending globally right now. Britains rightwing tabloids issue frequent denunciations of political correctness gone mad and rail against the smug hypocrisy of the metropolitan elite. In Germany, conservative journalists and politicians are making similar complaints: after the assaults on women in Cologne last New Years Eve, for instance, the chief of police Rainer Wendt said that leftists pressuring officers to be politisch korrekt had prevented them from doing their jobs. In France, Marine Le Pen of the Front National has condemned more traditional conservatives as paralysed by their fear of confronting political correctness.
Trumps incessant repetition of the phrase has led many writers since the election to argue that the secret to his victory was a backlash against excessive political correctness. Some have argued that Hillary Clinton failed because she was too invested in that close relative of political correctness, identity politics. But upon closer examination, political correctness becomes an impossibly slippery concept. The term is what Ancient Greek rhetoricians would have called an exonym: a term for another group, which signals that the speaker does not belong to it. Nobody ever describes themselves as politically correct. The phrase is only ever an accusation.
If you say that something is technically correct, you are suggesting that it is wrong the adverb before correct implies a but. However, to say that a statement is politically correct hints at something more insidious. Namely, that the speaker is acting in bad faith. He or she has ulterior motives, and is hiding the truth in order to advance an agenda or to signal moral superiority. To say that someone is being politically correct discredits them twice. First, they are wrong. Second, and more damningly, they know it.
If you go looking for the origins of the phrase, it becomes clear that there is no neat history of political correctness. There have only been campaigns against something called political correctness. For 25 years, invoking this vague and ever-shifting enemy has been a favourite tactic of the right. Opposition to political correctness has proved itself a highly effective form of crypto-politics. It transforms the political landscape by acting as if it is not political at all. Trump is the deftest practitioner of this strategy yet.
Most Americans had never heard the phrase politically correct before 1990, when a wave of stories began to appear in newspapers and magazines. One of the first and most influential was published in October 1990 by the New York Times reporter Richard Bernstein, who warned under the headline The Rising Hegemony of the Politically Correct that the countrys universities were threatened by a growing intolerance, a closing of debate, a pressure to conform.
Bernstein had recently returned from Berkeley, where he had been reporting on student activism. He wrote that there was an unofficial ideology of the university, according to which a cluster of opinions about race, ecology, feminism, culture and foreign policy defines a kind of correct attitude toward the problems of the world. For instance, Biodegradable garbage bags get the PC seal of approval. Exxon does not.
Bernsteins alarming dispatch in Americas paper of record set off a chain reaction, as one mainstream publication after another rushed to denounce this new trend. The following month, the Wall Street Journal columnist Dorothy Rabinowitz decried the brave new world of ideological zealotry at American universities. In December, the cover of Newsweek with a circulation of more than 3 million featured the headline THOUGHT POLICE and yet another ominous warning: Theres a politically correct way to talk about race, sex and ideas. Is this the New Enlightenment or the New McCarthyism? A similar story graced the cover of New York magazine in January 1991 inside, the magazine proclaimed that The New Fascists were taking over universities. In April, Time magazine reported on a new intolerance that was on the rise across campuses nationwide.
If you search ProQuest, a digital database of US magazines and newspapers, you find that the phrase politically correct rarely appeared before 1990. That year, it turned up more than 700 times. In 1991, there are more than 2,500 instances. In 1992, it appeared more than 2,800 times. Like Indiana Jones movies, these pieces called up enemies from a melange of old wars: they compared the thought police spreading terror on university campuses to fascists, Stalinists, McCarthyites, Hitler Youth, Christian fundamentalists, Maoists and Marxists.
Many of these articles recycled the same stories of campus controversies from a handful of elite universities, often exaggerated or stripped of context. The New York magazine cover story opened with an account of a Harvard history professor, Stephan Thernstrom, being attacked by overzealous students who felt he had been racially insensitive: Whenever he walked through the campus that spring, down Harvards brick paths, under the arched gates, past the fluttering elms, he found it hard not to imagine the pointing fingers, the whispers. Racist. There goes the racist. It was hellish, this persecution.
In an interview that appeared soon afterwards in The Nation, Thernstrom said the harassment described in the New York article had never happened. There had been one editorial in the Harvard Crimson student newspaper criticising his decision to read extensively from the diaries of plantation owners in his lectures. But the description of his harried state was pure artistic licence. No matter: the image of college students conducting witch hunts stuck. When Richard Bernstein published a book based on his New York Times reporting on political correctness, he called it Dictatorship of Virtue: Multiculturalism and the Battle for Americas Future a title alluding to the Jacobins of the French Revolution. In the book he compared American college campuses to France during the Reign of Terror, during which tens of thousands of people were executed within months.
None of the stories that introduced the menace of political correctness could pinpoint where or when it had begun. Nor were they very precise when they explained the origins of the phrase itself. Journalists frequently mentioned the Soviets Bernstein observed that the phrase smacks of Stalinist orthodoxy but there is no exact equivalent in Russian. (The closest would be ideinost, which translates as ideological correctness. But that word has nothing to do with disadvantaged people or minorities.) The intellectual historian LD Burnett has found scattered examples of doctrines or people being described as politically correct in American communist publications from the 1930s usually, she says, in a tone of mockery.
The phrase came into more widespread use in American leftist circles in the 1960s and 1970s most likely as an ironic borrowing from Mao, who delivered a famous speech in 1957 that was translated into English with the title On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.
Until the late 1980s, ‘political correctness’ was used exclusively within the left, and almost always ironically
Ruth Perry, a literature professor at MIT who was active in the feminist and civil rights movements, says that many radicals were reading the Little Red Book in the late 1960s and 1970s, and surmises that her friends may have picked up the adjective correct there. But they didnt use it in the way Mao did. Politically correct became a kind of in-joke among American leftists something you called a fellow leftist when you thought he or she was being self-righteous. The term was always used ironically, Perry says, always calling attention to possible dogmatism.
In 1970, the African-American author and activist Toni Cade Bambara, used the phrase in an essay about strains on gender relations within her community. No matter how politically correct her male friends thought they were being, she wrote many of them were failing to recognise the plight of black women.
Until the late 1980s, political correctness was used exclusively within the left, and almost always ironically as a critique of excessive orthodoxy. In fact, some of the first people to organise against political correctness were a group of feminists who called themselves the Lesbian Sex Mafia. In 1982, they held a Speakout on Politically Incorrect Sex at a theatre in New Yorks East Village a rally against fellow feminists who had condemned pornography and BDSM. Over 400 women attended, many of them wearing leather and collars, brandishing nipple clamps and dildos. The writer and activist Mirtha Quintanales summed up the mood when she told the audience, We need to have dialogues about S&M issues, not about what is politically correct, politically incorrect.
By the end of the 1980s, Jeff Chang, the journalist and hip-hop critic, who has written extensively on race and social justice, recalls that the activists he knew then in the Bay Area used the phrase in a jokey way a way for one sectarian to dismiss another sectarians line.
But soon enough, the term was rebranded by the right, who turned its meaning inside out. All of a sudden, instead of being a phrase that leftists used to check dogmatic tendencies within their movement, political correctness became a talking point for neoconservatives. They said that PC constituted a leftwing political programme that was seizing control of American universities and cultural institutions and they were determined to stop it.
The right had been waging a campaign against liberal academics for more than a decade. Starting in the mid-1970s, a handful of conservative donors had funded the creation of dozens of new thinktanks and training institutes offering programmes in everything from leadership to broadcast journalism to direct-mail fundraising. They had endowed fellowships for conservative graduate students, postdoctoral positions and professorships at prestigious universities. Their stated goal was to challenge what they saw as the dominance of liberalism and attack left-leaning tendencies within the academy.
Starting in the late 1980s, this well-funded conservative movement entered the mainstream with a series of improbable bestsellers that took aim at American higher education. The first, by the University of Chicago philosophy professor Allan Bloom, came out in 1987. For hundreds of pages, The Closing of the American Mind argued that colleges were embracing a shallow cultural relativism and abandoning long-established disciplines and standards in an attempt to appear liberal and to pander to their students. It sold more than 500,000 copies and inspired numerous imitations.
In April 1990, Roger Kimball, an editor at the conservative journal, The New Criterion, published Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted our Higher Education. Like Bloom, Kimball argued that an assault on the canon was taking place and that a politics of victimhood had paralysed universities. As evidence, he cited the existence of departments such as African American studies and womens studies. He scornfully quoted the titles of papers he had heard at academic conferences, such as Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl or The Lesbian Phallus: Does Heterosexuality Exist?
In June 1991, the young Dinesh DSouza followed Bloom and Kimball with Illiberal Education: the Politics of Race and Sex on Campus. Whereas Bloom had bemoaned the rise of relativism and Kimball had attacked what he called liberal fascism, and what he considered frivolous lines of scholarly inquiry, DSouza argued that admissions policies that took race into consideration were producing a new segregation on campus and an attack on academic standards. The Atlantic printed a 12,000 word excerpt as its June cover story. To coincide with the release, Forbes ran another article by DSouza with the title: Visigoths in Tweed.
These books did not emphasise the phrase political correctness, and only DSouza used the phrase directly. But all three came to be regularly cited in the flood of anti-PC articles that appeared in venues such as the New York Times and Newsweek. When they did, the authors were cited as neutral authorities. Countless articles uncritically repeated their arguments.
In some respects, these books and articles were responding to genuine changes taking place within academia. It is true that scholars had become increasingly sceptical about whether it was possible to talk about timeless, universal truths that lay beyond language and representation. European theorists who became influential in US humanities departments during the 1970s and 1980s argued that individual experience was shaped by systems of which the individual might not be aware and particularly by language. Michel Foucault, for instance, argued that all knowledge expressed historically specific forms of power. Jacques Derrida, a frequent target of conservative critics, practised what he called deconstruction, rereading the classics of philosophy in order to show that even the most seemingly innocent and straightforward categories were riven with internal contradictions. The value of ideals such as humanity or liberty could not be taken for granted.
It was also true that many universities were creating new studies departments, which interrogated the experiences, and emphasised the cultural contributions of groups that had previously been excluded from the academy and from the canon: queer people, people of colour and women. This was not so strange. These departments reflected new social realities. The demographics of college students were changing, because the demographics of the United States were changing. By 1990, only two-thirds of Americans under 18 were white. In California, the freshman classes at many public universities were majority minority, or more than 50% non-white. Changes to undergraduate curriculums reflected changes in the student population.
The responses that the conservative bestsellers offered to the changes they described were disproportionate and often misleading. For instance, Bloom complained at length about the militancy of African American students at Cornell University, where he had taught in the 1960s. He never mentioned what students demanding the creation of African American studies were responding to: the biggest protest at Cornell took place in 1969 after a cross burning on campus, an open KKK threat. (An arsonist burned down the Africana Studies Center, founded in response to these protests, in 1970.)
More than any particular obfuscation or omission, the most misleading aspect of these books was the way they claimed that only their adversaries were political. Bloom, Kimball, and DSouza claimed that they wanted to preserve the humanistic tradition, as if their academic foes were vandalising a canon that had been enshrined since time immemorial. But canons and curriculums have always been in flux; even in white Anglo-America there has never been any one stable tradition. Moby Dick was dismissed as Herman Melvilles worst book until the mid-1920s. Many universities had only begun offering literature courses in living languages a decade or so before that.
In truth, these crusaders against political correctness were every bit as political as their opponents. As Jane Mayer documents in her book, Dark Money: the Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Bloom and DSouza were funded by networks of conservative donors particularly the Koch, Olin and Scaife families who had spent the 1980s building programmes that they hoped would create a new counter-intelligentsia. (The New Criterion, where Kimball worked, was also funded by the Olin and Scaife Foundations.) In his 1978 book A Time for Truth, William Simon, the president of the Olin Foundation, had called on conservatives to fund intellectuals who shared their views: They must be given grants, grants, and more grants in exchange for books, books, and more books.
These skirmishes over syllabuses were part of a broader political programme and they became instrumental to forging a new alliance for conservative politics in America, between white working-class voters and small business owners, and politicians with corporate agendas that held very little benefit for those people.
By making fun of professors who spoke in language that most people considered incomprehensible (The Lesbian Phallus), wealthy Ivy League graduates could pose as anti-elite. By mocking courses on writers such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, they made a racial appeal to white people who felt as if they were losing their country. As the 1990s wore on, because multiculturalism was associated with globalisation the force that was taking away so many jobs traditionally held by white working-class people attacking it allowed conservatives to displace responsibility for the hardship that many of their constituents were facing. It was not the slashing of social services, lowered taxes, union busting or outsourcing that was the cause of their problems. It was those foreign others.
PC was a useful invention for the Republican right because it helped the movement to drive a wedge between working-class people and the Democrats who claimed to speak for them. Political correctness became a term used to drum into the public imagination the idea that there was a deep divide between the ordinary people and the liberal elite, who sought to control the speech and thoughts of regular folk. Opposition to political correctness also became a way to rebrand racism in ways that were politically acceptable in the post-civil-rights era.
Soon, Republican politicians were echoing on the national stage the message that had been product-tested in the academy. In May 1991, President George HW Bush gave a commencement speech at the University of Michigan. In it, he identified political correctness as a major danger to America. Ironically, on the 200th anniversary of our Bill of Rights, we find free speech under assault throughout the United States, Bush said. The notion of political correctness has ignited controversy across the land, but, he warned, In their own Orwellian way, crusades that demand correct behaviour crush diversity in the name of diversity.
After 2001, debates about political correctness faded from public view, replaced by arguments about Islam and terrorism. But in the final years of the Obama presidency, political correctness made a comeback. Or rather, anti-political-correctness did.
As Black Lives Matter and movements against sexual violence gained strength, a spate of thinkpieces attacked the participants in these movements, criticising and trivialising them by saying that they were obsessed with policing speech. Once again, the conversation initially focused on universities, but the buzzwords were new. Rather than difference and multiculturalism, Americans in 2012 and 2013 started hearing about trigger warnings, safe spaces, microaggressions, privilege and cultural appropriation.
This time, students received more scorn than professors. If the first round of anti-political-correctness evoked the spectres of totalitarian regimes, the more recent revival has appealed to the commonplace that millennials are spoiled narcissists, who want to prevent anyone expressing opinions that they happen to find offensive.
In January 2015, the writer Jonathan Chait published one of the first new, high-profile anti-PC thinkpieces in New York magazine. Not a Very PC Thing to Say followed the blueprint provided by the anti-PC thinkpieces that the New York Times, Newsweek, and indeed New York magazine had published in the early 1990s. Like the New York article from 1991, it began with an anecdote set on campus that supposedly demonstrated that political correctness had run amok, and then extrapolated from this incident to a broad generalisation. In 1991, John Taylor wrote: The new fundamentalism has concocted a rationale for dismissing all dissent. In 2015, Jonathan Chait claimed that there were once again angry mobs out to crush opposing ideas.
Chait warned that the dangers of PC had become greater than ever before. Political correctness was no longer confined to universities now, he argued, it had taken over social media and thus attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old. (As evidence of the hegemonic influence enjoyed by unnamed actors on the left, Chait cited two female journalists saying that they had been criticised by leftists on Twitter.)
Chaits article launched a spate of replies about campus and social media cry bullies. On the cover of their September 2015 issue, the Atlantic published an article by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff. The title, The Coddling Of the American Mind, nodded to the godfather of anti-PC, Allan Bloom. (Lukianoff is the head of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, another organisation funded by the Olin and Scaife families.) In the name of emotional wellbeing, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they dont like, the article announced. It was shared over 500,000 times.
The climate of digital journalism and social media sharing enabled the anti-political-correctness stories to spread
These pieces committed many of the same fallacies that their predecessors from the 1990s had. They cherry-picked anecdotes and caricatured the subjects of their criticism. They complained that other people were creating and enforcing speech codes, while at the same time attempting to enforce their own speech codes. Their writers designated themselves the arbiters of what conversations or political demands deserved to be taken seriously, and which did not. They contradicted themselves in the same way: their authors continually complained, in highly visible publications, that they were being silenced.
The climate of digital journalism and social media sharing enabled the anti-political-correctness (and anti-anti-political correctness) stories to spread even further and faster than they had in the 1990s. Anti-PC and anti-anti-PC stories come cheap: because they concern identity, they are something that any writer can have a take on, based on his or her experiences, whether or not he or she has the time or resources to report. They are also perfect clickbait. They inspire outrage, or outrage at the outrage of others.
Meanwhile, a strange convergence was taking place. While Chait and his fellow liberals decried political correctness, Donald Trump and his followers were doing the same thing. Chait said that leftists were perverting liberalism and appointed himself the defender of a liberal centre; Trump said that liberal media had the system rigged.
The anti-PC liberals were so focused on leftists on Twitter that for months they gravely underestimated the seriousness of the real threat to liberal discourse. It was not coming from women, people of colour, or queer people organising for their civil rights, on campus or elsewhere. It was coming from @realdonaldtrump, neo-Nazis, and far-right websites such as Breitbart.
The original critics of PC were academics or shadow-academics, Ivy League graduates who went around in bow ties quoting Plato and Matthew Arnold. It is hard to imagine Trump quoting Plato or Matthew Arnold, much less carping about the titles of conference papers by literature academics. During his campaign, the network of donors who funded decades of anti-PC activity the Kochs, the Olins, the Scaifes shunned Trump, citing concerns about the populist promises he was making. Trump came from a different milieu: not Yale or the University of Chicago, but reality television. And he was picking different fights, targeting the media and political establishment, rather than academia.
As a candidate, Trump inaugurated a new phase of anti-political-correctness. What was remarkable was just how many different ways Trump deployed this tactic to his advantage, both exploiting the tried-and-tested methods of the early 1990s and adding his own innovations.
First, by talking incessantly about political correctness, Trump established the myth that he had dishonest and powerful enemies who wanted to prevent him from taking on the difficult challenges facing the nation. By claiming that he was being silenced, he created a drama in which he could play the hero. The notion that Trump was both persecuted and heroic was crucial to his emotional appeal. It allowed people who were struggling economically or angry about the way society was changing to see themselves in him, battling against a rigged system that made them feel powerless and devalued. At the same time, Trumps swagger promised that they were strong and entitled to glory. They were great and would be great again.
Second, Trump did not simply criticise the idea of political correctness he actually said and did the kind of outrageous things that PC culture supposedly prohibited. The first wave of conservative critics of political correctness claimed they were defending the status quo, but Trumps mission was to destroy it. In 1991, when George HW Bush warned that political correctness was a threat to free speech, he did not choose to exercise his free speech rights by publicly mocking a man with a disability or characterising Mexican immigrants as rapists. Trump did. Having elevated the powers of PC to mythic status, the draft-dodging billionaire, son of a slumlord, taunted the parents of a fallen soldier and claimed that his cruelty and malice was, in fact, courage.
This willingness to be more outrageous than any previous candidate ensured non-stop media coverage, which in turn helped Trump attract supporters who agreed with what he was saying. We should not underestimate how many Trump supporters held views that were sexist, racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic, and were thrilled to feel that he had given them permission to say so. Its an old trick: the powerful encourage the less powerful to vent their rage against those who might have been their allies, and to delude themselves into thinking that they have been liberated. It costs the powerful nothing; it pays frightful dividends.
Trump drew upon a classic element of anti-political-correctness by implying that while his opponents were operating according to a political agenda, he simply wanted to do what was sensible. He made numerous controversial policy proposals: deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, banning Muslims from entering the US, introducing stop-and-frisk policies that have been ruled unconstitutional. But by responding to critics with the accusation that they were simply being politically correct, Trump attempted to place these proposals beyond the realm of politics altogether. Something political is something that reasonable people might disagree about. By using the adjective as a put-down, Trump pretended that he was acting on truths so obvious that they lay beyond dispute. Thats just common sense.
The most alarming part of this approach is what it implies about Trumps attitude to politics more broadly. His contempt for political correctness looks a lot like contempt for politics itself. He does not talk about diplomacy; he talks about deals. Debate and disagreement are central to politics, yet Trump has made clear that he has no time for these distractions. To play the anti-political-correctness card in response to a legitimate question about policy is to shut down discussion in much the same way that opponents of political correctness have long accused liberals and leftists of doing. It is a way of sidestepping debate by declaring that the topic is so trivial or so contrary to common sense that it is pointless to discuss it. The impulse is authoritarian. And by presenting himself as the champion of common sense, Trump gives himself permission to bypass politics altogether.
Now that he is president-elect, it is unclear whether Trump meant many of the things he said during his campaign. But, so far, he is fulfilling his pledge to fight political correctness. Last week, he told the New York Times that he was trying to build an administration filled with the best people, though Not necessarily people that will be the most politically correct people, because that hasnt been working.
Trump has also continued to cry PC in response to criticism. When an interviewer from Politico asked a Trump transition team member why Trump was appointing so many lobbyists and political insiders, despite having pledged to drain the swamp of them, the source said that one of the most refreshing parts of the whole Trump style is that he does not care about political correctness. Apparently it would have been politically correct to hold him to his campaign promises.
As Trump prepares to enter the White House, many pundits have concluded that political correctness fuelled the populist backlash sweeping Europe and the US. The leaders of that backlash may say so. But the truth is the opposite: those leaders understood the power that anti-political-correctness has to rally a class of voters, largely white, who are disaffected with the status quo and resentful of shifting cultural and social norms. They were not reacting to the tyranny of political correctness, nor were they returning America to a previous phase of its history. They were not taking anything back. They were wielding anti-political-correctness as a weapon, using it to forge a new political landscape and a frightening future.
The opponents of political correctness always said they were crusaders against authoritarianism. In fact, anti-PC has paved the way for the populist authoritarianism now spreading everywhere. Trump is anti-political correctness gone mad.
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