America and the Collapse of Meta-Narratives

In the interview this summer with my twin brother Patrick, I talked about the breakdown of public discourse that inevitably follows the collapse of shared meta-narratives.

In America today…the absence of shared traditions, the absence of shared meta-narratives, [leads to a] fracturing into all these micro-narratives, and then our public discourse just becomes a circus to see who can shout the loudest. So we talk past each other because we’re not really interested in understanding the other person. Understanding means being able to really listen attentively from your heart, and being able to summarize back what the other person is saying in a way that they can say, “That is fair.” We’re not interested in doing that anymore by and large, or having that type of attentive and intelligence discussion in our public discourse.

This is a summary of a concern that I articulated at more depth in my article ‘Functional Nominalism and Contemporary Political Discourse‘ and 2016 and the Triumph of Nominalism.”

What Happens if an Impeached President is Re-elected?

On Tuesday, as the Ukraine scandal was breaking, Rod Dreher made some thoughtful observations about why, from a conservative perspective, it matters (and matters a lot) whether the recent allegations against the President are true. Then yesterday, after the publication of the whistle-blower’s complaint, Dreher reflected on the implications of the crazy situation America could be headed into: a situation in which an impeached president is re-elected. Both articles are worth a read.

 

Left-Wing Racism

Last month James Kirchick published an article for Tablet Magazine on the recent tidal wave of left-wing racism in America. Near the beginning of the article Kirchick lays his cards on the table.

Indeed, many of Trump’s opponents on the left have turned themselves into committed ideologues with a programmatic understanding of human behavior and human differences rooted in some biological component that is impossible or nearly impossible to change. The way the left talks incessantly about “white men,” or openly puts membership in victim groups above individual rights and virtues, is the essence of what most people mean by racism. Not “reverse racism”—but real, actual, racism.

From there Kirchick goes on to chronicle a series of recent outburst of racism from high ranking spokespeople and legislators on the political left. I knew that identity politics was a problem on the political left (something I have referred to here and here), but I had no idea of how systemic racism had become within left-wing ideology.

Read the whole thing.

Identity Politics and Mob Madness

When controversy erupted last weekend over President Trump’s incendiary tweets, the ensuing furor focused on the issue of racism. This has been unfortunate since it has obscured the real elephant in the room, which is identity politics. The Left cannot offer a substantive critique of Trump’s use of identity politics, seeing that identity politics forms such an integral part of their own ideology. Hence, all they can do is just keep repeating the charge of racism.

But it doesn’t really work. After all, if the president had told a white person of Russian ancestry to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” few would imagine that this revealed an incipient racism against whites. However, because the congresswomen that Trump singled out happened to be non-whites, everyone is ready to assume that he must have been motivated by racist impulses.

This is not to excuse the President. Something far more sinister and subtle than racism is happening here. Trump’s use of identity politics is truly demonic and threatens the integrity of our nation.

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The Robin & Boom Show #11 – Mueller Report and EU Elections

Jason asks Robin about Trump; Robin asks Jason about the EU. Robin suggests that the full impact of the Mueller Report has been eclipsed by left-wing overreach. President Trump is neither Jesus nor Hitler, but he has been creating new norms by pushing the envelope. This episode also features a discussion of the European Union in light of the May 2019 elections. In this show you will learn about the changing climate of European politics, as well as the difference between Europe, the EU, and the Euro.

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Functional Nominalism and Contemporary Political Discourse

I wanted to expand on some themes that Jason and I talked explored (albeit tangentially) back in the second episode of our podcast.

In this show I observed that in America today we are involved in the futile act of attempting to construct various political philosophies without reference to more foundational philosophical and anthropological questions.

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Snowden on Double Standard at DOJ

Edward Snowden makes some insightful observations about the double standard of justice that is occurring with the indictment against Julian Assange vs. the DOJ’s decision not to charge President Trump. Read carefully what Snowden says and reflect on the implications.
 
“The special counsel says they find 10 separate instances, I think, where it appears that Trump or people in his administration are basically conspiring to obstruct justice. But the special counsel does not conclude, again, to pin this to Trump as breaking the law, in a very interesting way, given the context of what we’re talking about. They go, ‘Look, Trump absolutely ordered all these people in his periphery to shut it down. He tried to fire Mueller, he tried to get rid of, and all these other people, I can’t remember if it was Sessions or whatever. But he tried and he told his White House counsel, he told all these guys, ‘Stop this. Get it done. Protect me. Shut this thing down.’ Which is obvious obstruction, right? Or at least, a conspiracy to commit obstruction.
 
But Mueller says, it didn’t actually result in obstruction, because the people that Trump ordered to do this simply ignored him. They went off and told their buddies, ‘Trump is telling me to do crazy things, I’m preparing my resignation letter, all of these other things,’ and so, they say, ‘Donald Trump didn’t actually commit obstruction. And so we’re not going to charge him. Maybe there’s something in here that congress wants to bring or whatever, but we’re not going to bring it.’
 
And the Attorney General, immediately when he saw this, who’s really carrying water for Trump all day long on this issue … he’s spinning the reports, doing all these things, says, ‘We see this and you know Mueller didn’t charges this, we’re not going to charge this, no obstruction, no collusion, whatever. Let’s move on.’
 
But so, isn’t that interesting? The DOJ’s defense of not charging Trump in this case is they say he tried to commit a crime [obstruction] but he was too hapless and he failed to actually do this. And we’re not going to charge him with conspiracy for doing it. And at the same time, they’re charging Julian Assange under precisely the opposite theory. They go, ‘Look, Julian may not have actually cracked a password, we don’t have any evidence that he did, we’re not going to try to prove that he did, we’re going to simply say the agreement to try was enough.’
 
“So this is a real question of a two-tiered system of justice. Why do we have this double standard here, where if you’re the president and try to commit a crime, you can skate, but if you’re a journalist, if you’re a publisher, particularly who’s vulnerable because you’ve gone too far out on a limb and now you’ve lost public support and popularity, everybody’s against you… but no one, no one can argue that the work you’ve done in the past hasn’t been of real public interest – it may not have been — to the party’s benefit, it’s very controversial, no doubt about that. But the newspapers are all running these stories, saying these are important stories, these are about real centers of power in the world.
 
Why is it that journalists are being held to a higher standard of behavior than the President of the United States?”

The Robin & Boom Show #03 – Discussion with Keith Pimental on Transmitting Values to Next Generation

What happens when parents and politicians settle for intermediate goals without giving attention to the long-term end of human flourishing? What is the culture-wide impact of relativism? What happens when we neglect the importance of history and eternity? And what is “methodological Machiavellianism”? These are just some of the questions that Robin and Jason discuss in this episode with their guest from Portugal, Keith Pimental. 

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The Robin & Boom Show #02 – Politics in America and Europe

Jason Van Boom and Robin Phillips discuss the political climate in America and Europe, including areas of difference and cross-fertilization. During this conversation they explore the importance of symbols, metanarratives, tribalism, and operational philosophical assumptions that animate contemporary public discourse.

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Conservatism in Historical Perspectives

In looking again at my earlier post, “The Non-Conservative Mind of Donald Trump”, it occurred to me that the article lacked some of the important historical perspectives necessary for appreciating how someone as liberal as President Trump can pass as a conservative. If I can be forgiven in advance for painting with a very broad brush, I would like to survey the evolution of conservatism from Burke to Trump, as a supplement to the comments I made previously in my articles “The Republican Retreat to Identity Politics” and “Trump and the Eclipse of Conservatism” and “The Non-Conservative Mind of Donald Trump.”

WWI put an end to the remaining vestiges of the old order, a bloody climax to the French Revolution.

The origin of conservative politics goes back to Edmund Burke’s response to the French Revolution. Nothing describes the French Revolution better than the adage “When Paris sneezes, the rest of Europe catches a cold.” As the revolutionary spirit gradually spread through all of Europe during the nineteenth-century, the result was that monarchy after monarchy collapsed. Ancient systems, structures and norms were not reformed but wiped away, usually replaced by tyrannies far more destructive than the ones that had preceded them. Finally, WWI put an end to the remaining vestiges of the old order.

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