Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Wrong Side

Our president, and those of our fellow citizens who are inclined to think likewise, are fond of declaring of those whose politics or world view they disagree with, that they are on the "the wrong side of history".  The president opposes ISIS, for instance, as well he should, but declares that that they are to be opposed because they are on the "the wrong side of history". Similarly, if one tells a person of liberal-minded belief that maybe it is not such a good idea that the country allow unlimited immigration and large numbers of refugees from a certain religious demographic that has proven to harbor a certain amount of hostility to the West in general and this country in particular, one gets told that one is simply full of hate and that one is, as the phrase goes, on the "the wrong side of history". Because History is this inevitable process, of course; destined to move in a certain direction and to favor one particular group's ideology and politics.

This is in line with how Marx thought, of course. History is a Science, and with a proper understanding of the past, man can discern the future. Marx was wrong, of course. Nearly all of his predictions of the future failed to materialize.

I am inclined to think of another historical figure, this one of the 20th century, of whom liberals have a certain affinity for — esteemed inventor and founder of our dystopia, Henry Ford, who famously declared that History was 'bunk'. Ford gave birth to one of the great inventions of the century, one for which he is duly celebrated as one of the great benefactors of mankind — the $5 work day. Oh, and he also invented a process to provide a new form of transportation to the masses. But the real trick, of course, was getting people to do the mind-numbing work that went into creating these machines. Because people did not like working on assembly lines, repeating the same repetitive task all day. They were quitting faster than old Ford could replace them. So Ford had to make the generous bribe — er... offer — of an unprecedented wage in order to keep them on the line. Progressives seem to think that he did it purely out of the generosity of his heart — but there was cold, naked self-interest at its core. 

Never mind that Ford spied on his employees and hired thugs to rough up Walter Reuther, the man obviously cared...

It was the $5 work day which created the middle-class auto worker as we know it today, and a reason Ford is so celebrated by Progressives. But really, it created a worker who could only be considered middle class in the sense of his income. Work ethic, skill, self-determination and agency, professionalism — the typical hallmarks of the middle class and by which it had created itself — went by the wayside as the new laboring class was only required to perform the most basic sort of tasks — a sort of work more fit for a monkey than a human being.

But, all this is a digression. The key question is whether history has a wrong or right side or whether it is all 'bunk'. Is history some impersonal force moving inexorably to its own conclusion? Or is it merely the dull record of human affairs, malleable to those Titans — such as that of Industry  who can exert their stamp on it and bend it to their will, perhaps? There is an inherent contradiction in the Progressive notion of history, it would seem.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Hitchhiking Robot Meets Grisly End

HitchBOT, a robotic experiment to test the kindness of strangers, had his journey cut short this summer in Philadelphia, after previously traveling across parts of Canada, Europe, and the United States. 

There was a fellow world traveler once, a human, this one, named John Stewart, not the Jon Stewart of fake television journalism fame, mind you -- this John Stewart lived in the 18th century. Interesting character: amateur philosopher and more than a bit of an eccentric, he was called 'Walking Stewart', because he had pretty much walked all over the earth. He had started his career working as a young writer in the service of the East India trading company, but deciding that colonialism and empire weren't things for him and, leaving India, walked back home, via a trek across Asia and hiking through Africa and then all over Europe. Eventually, after tiring of London and Paris, it seems, he came to the Americas and hiked up the South American coast before making his way to the fledgling States. The peripatetic Stewart developed a philosophy that combined Western materialism with pantheism and the yogic conceptions of single consciousness of the East. A true 'Freethinker' of the 18th century, he moved in the fashionable circles of London and Paris, befriended Thomas Paine, and circulated pamphlets espousing ideas which were too radical even for the fashionable European elite. He credited the success of his journeys (meaning, not getting killed) to two surprising things: a vegetarian diet and the refusal to carry arms -- and also to the hospitality and kindness of strangers; without the virtue of 'Xenia' so prized by the ancient Greeks -- it runs all through Homer and the myths -- he would not have been able to wander so.

Well, Xenia does not apply to robots, as far as I'm aware. Good job, Philly. City of brotherly love -- not robot love.

After Philly

Monday, May 25, 2015

Things Drive Mankind

The push for self-driving cars seems to be picking up steam. I hardly even knew they were a thing.

If such a thing were to come to a pass, I would predict that it would not end well. Apparently, self-driving cars make driving much safer -- considerably so, even. Yet they would also further render us as programmed automatons. We would be safer and yet more miserable. 

The whole point of applied science and the conquest of nature was to put man in the driver's seat in his environment, to shape and subject Nature according to his will. But as C.S. Lewis observed a century ago in The Abolition of Man, man's conquest of nature really turns out to mean the conquest of the mass of humanity by a select few, with Nature as the instrument. Soon then, it would be the computer in the literal driver's seat, programmed by a few engineers and congressmen, with you and I as the passenger. And we would lose the shallow assurance we once had, that we are the masters of our fates, with technology as our dutiful servant. The first poor shlub who gets driven off of a cliff to prevent multiple fatalities, or locked into a shipping container, will know that.

Or perhaps, like so many great plans of the elites, it will all come to nothing. I remember hearing over twenty years ago about how we would all have flying cars by now. 


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Geocentrism Is Okay

A recent poll revealed that one in four persons think that the sun revolves around our planet.

A lot of people might be dismayed by this. I, on the other and, find it refreshing that some people are not cowed by scientific dogma and choose to see their orientation in the cosmos according to their own inclination. And hey, if someone self-identifies as a geocentrist, that's their business. Who are we to judge? Some of them might have even been heliocentrists themselves at one time, and then decided to transition to geocentrism. Again, it's not our place to judge. If you think that's wrong, imagine how stupid you'll feel in forty years when everyone thinks geocentrism is okay.