Tag Archives: hope

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P.G. Wodehouse Knew the Way: Fight Fascism with Humor – Article by Jeffrey A. Tucker

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Categories: Culture, Philosophy, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance HatJeffrey A. Tucker
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One of my favorite characters from 20th century pop fiction is Roderick Spode, also known as Lord Sidcup, from the 1930s series Jeeves and Wooster by P.G. Wodehouse, and hilariously portrayed in the 1990s TV adaptation starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. He perfectly captures the bluster, blather, and preposterous intellectual conceit of the interwar aspiring dictator.
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Back in the day, these people were all the same, whether George Lincoln Rockwell in the US, Oswald Mosley in the UK, or more well-known statesmen in interwar Europe. They were nativists, protectionists, longed for dictatorship, and believed that science had their back.
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Rather than a tedious denunciation, Wodehouse gives us something more effective. He created a composite and caricature of all of them and turned it to hilarity.
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Books about Nothing

Like Seinfeld, Jeeves and Wooster was “about nothing” but managed compelling cultural commentary that shaped the way a generation saw the world around them. It chronicled the amusing superficial lives of third-generation English upper class, lovable people with declining financial resources but too much dignity to take on the task of actually earning a living. There is a strong liberal spirit running through the whole series.

Roderick Spode is a character who makes appearances at odd times, making speeches to his couple dozen followers, blabbing on in the park and bamboozling naïve passersby, blowing up at people, practicing his demagogic delivery style. A handful of people take him seriously but mostly he and his “brownshort” followers are merely a source of amusement and annoyance to the London scene.

Why shorts? It seems that by the time he started ordering uniforms for his followers, there were no more shirts left. Red, brown, and black were already taken. Plus the company he contacted only had affordable shorts, so brown shorts it would be. So the required eugenic theory of his group naturally surrounded knees. He wanted everyone’s knees compulsorily measured:

Not for the true-born Englishman the bony angular knee of the so-called intellectual, not for him the puffy knee of the criminal classes. The British knee is firm, the British knee is muscular, the British knee is on the march!

The television series made him less British than German in aspiration. Here is his first speech in the television series, in which proclaims the “right, nay the duty” of every Briton to grow his own potatoes.

And here he is proposing mandatory bicycles and umbrellas for all free-born Britons. A fellow standing around says, “I say, I’ve never quite thought of it that way.”

Spode is also secretly a coward. In his other life, he is the owner, by virtue of family inheritance, of a shop that designs intimate clothing for women. He is desperate to keep this a secret, believing this profession to be incompatible with the career ambitions of an aspiring dictator. Anyone who knows this secret about his life has deep control over his psyche, with only the threat of revelation keeping him under control.

They Are Ridiculous

The entire caricature was a humiliation for the fascists of the period because it spoke truth. Their plans for economic life are ridiculous. Their eugenic theories are pseudo-science. Their pretensions to command a massive following are completely wrong. And in their private lives, they are just like everyone else: they aren’t demigods or elites or superior in any sense. They are just dudes who are exploiting public curiosity and fear to gain attention and power. They are trolls.

Humor is a great method for dealing with clowns like these, as Saturday Night Live has recently rediscovered. At the same time, we are mistaken to think they are not a threat to civilized life. In real life, Mosley in the UK and Rockwell in the US were a serious menace, as much as the establishments they opposed.

The statist Left and the statist Right play off each other, creating a false binary that draws people into their squabble. People need to understand, as F.A. Hayek emphasized in Road to Serfdom, that the fascists and communists are really two sides of a split within the same movement, each of which aspires to control the population with a version of a central plan.

It’s a question of how best to deal with them. Ideally clowns like this would be ignored, left to sit alone at the bar or at the park with their handful of deluded acolytes. That’s how Wodehouse presented his fascist – just as a silly distraction whose only value is a good joke. However, this is not typically how people do deal with them. They are so offensive to people’s ideals that they inspire massive opposition, and that opposition in turn creates public scenes that gain a greater following for the demagogue. This cycle continues to the point that the entire political landscape becomes deeply poisoned with hate and acts of vengeance.

When thinking of how genuine lovers of human liberty should deal with such settings, I always fall back on Ludwig von Mises from 1927.

It is often maintained that what divides present-day political parties is a basic opposition in their ultimate philosophical commitments that cannot be settled by rational argument. The discussion of these antagonisms must therefore necessarily prove fruitless … Nothing is more absurd than this belief … Rhetorical bombast, music and song resound, banners wave, flowers and colors serve as symbols, and the leaders seek to attach their followers to their own person. Liberalism has nothing to do with all this. It has no party flower and no party color, no party song and no party idols, no symbols and no slogans. It has the substance and the arguments. These must lead it to victory.

It can be the hardest thing in the world to remember this in the midst of political upheaval and antagonisms. People tend to believe they must join the Left to defeat the Right or join the Right to defeat the Left, forgetting that there is a third option: rule by no party and no one, but rather by universal self-rule and the society of freedom first and always.

It’s the tragedy of real-world politics that we keep moving through these phases, trading one style of central plan for another, one type of despot for another, without understanding that none are necessary. True defenders of liberty get it. That should inspire us to smile from time to time.

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education. He is also Chief Liberty Officer and founder of Liberty.me, Distinguished Honorary Member of Mises Brazil, research fellow at the Acton Institute, policy adviser of the Heartland Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, member of the editorial board of the Molinari Review, an advisor to the blockchain application builder Factom, and author of five books. He has written 150 introductions to books and many thousands of articles appearing in the scholarly and popular press.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. Read the original article.

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Aspirations, Gaza Death Tunnels, Schools of Hope – Article by Edward Hudgins

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Categories: History, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance HatEdward Hudgins
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Geopolitical decisions often reflect the aspirations of peoples. The Hamas rulers of Gaza made no secret of their aspirations when they built a secret tunnel from their territory into Israel: to kidnap and kill Jews. But a focus on the physical tunnel itself lends a telling perspective on the self-made hell of these moral monsters.

Hamas_tunnel_map

Death tunnel or schools?

The latest of many tunnels discovered by the Israeli Defense Forces was said to measure a mile and a quarter long, wide enough to bring people easily through it. It was made of concrete, and supplied with electricity and ventilation. And it was to come out near a kibbutz, allowing easy access for the infiltrating murderers to potential victims.

My back-of-the-envelope calculation finds that a tunnel of this length, with 8-foot-high and wide walls, dug 100 feet deep, would require about 250,000 square feet of concrete. But what else could that material have been used to build?

An elementary school close to where I live is a two-story structure that is about 190 feet square. Such a space could fit 18 decent-sized classrooms, a few administrative offices, and a large rec-room/cafeteria, all with concrete interior walls. Such a school could educate around 1,000 kids at a time.

I calculate that such a school would require about 125,000 square feet of concrete. In other words, the 250,000 square feet in the Hamas death tunnel could have built two elementary schools to educate 2,000 children at a time.

Condemning their own children

The Gazans chose their Hamas rulers who reflected the people’s aspirations when they built that tunnel to kill Jewish children. But they’ve no doubt killed many Gazan children as well. You see, one report suggested that at least 160 Palestinian children died as forced laborers building the tunnels that the Israeli Defense Forces discovered and destroyed two years ago.

A tunnel-versus-school decision was not put to a vote—nothing is in Gaza. But the aspirations of the Gazans is reflected in this fact: rather than sitting in school rooms to improve their minds in order to improve their young lives, many of those young lives were worked to agonizing deaths to sate the insatiable hatred of parents who would condemn their young children to such a fate.

The hope

The Nazis used concrete to build gas chambers so they could exterminate six million Jews. But an aspiration different from that of the Gazans and Nazis came out of the Holocaust. A few days after the Bergen-Belsen death camp was liberated by the Allies in 1945, a visiting journalist recorded an extraordinary event. With bodies of the murder victims still lying unburied, a British chaplain concluded a seder for the weakened, physically wrecked, surviving Jews. They sang the “Hatikva,” the Zionist anthem that became the national anthem of the new state of Israel three years later. Hatikva means “the hope.” Those survivors voiced their aspirations to rebuild their lives and to build a country in which they and their children could live without fear and could achieve the productive goals that should be the aspiration of every individual.

Bergen_Belsen_postDuring the seven days of Passover, Jews reflect on their liberation from ancient slavery and hope that they might liberate their souls from any hate and anger that might still imprison them. And it is a hope at this season that the hearts and minds of Gazans, Palestinians, and all individuals might aspire to turn to the works of peace and prosperity.

Dr. Edward Hudgins directs advocacy and is a senior scholar for The Atlas Society, the center for Objectivism in Washington, D.C.

Copyright The Atlas Society. For more information, please visit www.atlassociety.org.

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Can Most People Become Techno-Optimists? – Panel Discussion by G. Stolyarov II, Demian Zivkovic, Philippe Castonguay, Roen Horn, Sylvester Geldtmeijer, and Laurens Wes

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Categories: Culture, Education, Science, Technology, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Techno-Optimism_Panel_ImageThe New Renaissance Hat

G. Stolyarov II, Demian Zivkovic, Philippe Castonguay, Roen Horn, Sylvester Geldtmeijer, and Laurens Wes

May 9, 2015
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What are the key approaches and opportunities for restoring an optimistic view of technology, progress, and the future among the majority of people – and to counter apocalyptic, Malthusian, and neo-Luddite thinking?

On May 9, 2015, Mr. Stolyarov, the author of Death is Wrong – the illustrated children’s book on indefinite life extension  – invited a panel of future-oriented thinkers to discuss this question. Watch the discussion here.

Panelists

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Demian Zivkovic is a student of artificial intelligence and philosophy, and founder and president of the Institute of Exponential Sciences – https://www.facebook.com/IEScience/ –  an international transhumanist think tank / education institute comprised of a group of transhumanism-oriented scientists, professionals, students, journalists and entrepreneurs interested in the interdisciplinary approach to advancing exponential technologies and promoting techno-positive thought.

Demian and the IES have been involved in several endeavors, including interviewing professor Aubrey de Grey, organizing lectures on exponential sciences with guests including de Grey, and spreading “Death is Wrong” – Mr. Stolyarov’s illustrated children’s book on indefinite life extension – in The Netherlands. Demian Zivkovic is a strong proponent of transhumanism, hyperreality, and hypermodernism. He is currently working on his ambition of raising enough capital to make a real difference in life extension and transhumanist thought.

Demian invites anybody who is interested in forwarding a technologically positive vision of the future to get involved with the Institute of Exponential Sciences via its Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/IEScience/.

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Philippe Castonguay is currently pursuing a B.Sc. in Psychology while doing research in computational neuroscience. His main research topics are the influence of noise on the stability of chaotic neural network models, mechanisms of recurrent neural integration on a network scale and high-dimensional data representations. Philippe is also an executive member of Bricobio, a DIY biohacking group in Montreal and co-founder of Montreal Futurists, a Montreal group that wants to promote transhumanist/futurist ideas and prepare the population for the integration of related technologies in the society.

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Sylvester Geldtmeijer is a Dutch citizen and sound designer. He has been interested in transhumanism, science, and technology since childhood, when he was fascinated with science fiction and imagining a highly advanced technological world where every problem can be solved with science. He emphasizes the ability of science to help people, especially through medical advancements, and considers Deep Brain Stimulation to be one of the most important inventions of our time. He hopes that technological advances will produce an era in which children can grow up without struggling with any learning difficulties or physical obstacles.

Sylvester would like to share the following words of inspiration with our viewers:

For some the age of reason is too far,
For some the age of utopization will also be too far.
But for idealists reason is not just an accomplishment;
It’s development –
Just like utopia isn’t a place;
It’s a state of mind.

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Roen Horn is a philosopher and lecturer on the importance of trying to live forever. He founded the Eternal Life Fan Club – http://eternallifefanclub.com/ – in 2012 to encourage fans of eternal life to start being more strategic with regard to this goal. To this end, one major focus of the club has been on life-extension techniques, everything from lengthening telomeres to avoiding risky behaviors. Currently, Roen’s work may be seen in the many memes, quotes, essays, and video blogs that he has created for those who are exploring their own thoughts on this, or who want to share and promote the same things. Like many other fans of eternal life, Roen is in love with life, and is very inspired by the world around him and wants to impart in others the same desire to discover all this world has to offer.

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Laurens Wes is a Dutch engineer and chief engineering officer at the Institute of Exponential Sciences. Furthermore he is the owner of Intrifix, a company focused on 3D-printing and software solutions. Aside from these tasks, Laurens is very interested in transhumanism, longevity, just about all fields of science, entrepreneurship, and expressing creativity. He is a regular speaker for the IES and is very committed to educating the public on accelerated technological developments and exponential sciences.