savage compassion – or what’s wrong with progressives

Quite a few self identified leftists are distancing themselves from the recent and disgusting habit of many of their more ‘progressive’ brethren of aligning themselves alongside the islamosfacists.   Most notably Bernard-Henri Levy  (identifying reflexive anti-Americanism as only one of the hatreds at the heart of the new left) and Nick Cohen (describing his disappointment with the apologists of islamic terror);  and now Yacov Ben Moshe has produced a short essay which summarises most eloquently the reasons why, while I often feel that I hold classically liberal values, I cannot under any circumstances find common cause with the progressives amongst us:  

Savage Compassion:

The progressive demands that we believe his claim that he serves a higher truth and a loftier goal.  He tries to force us to accept the idea that his ideas are unassailably good. And, even if they fail to be good, his virtuous pretentions are supposed to indemnify him from guilt or shame.  Even if he make mistakes, behaves badly or cause harm, virtue will save him from blame.  His “caring and good intentions” are supposed to trump the fact that he cares about the wrong things in the wrong way and his intentions are a humbug. Virtue is more than a sham- it is the prim, ruthless face of coercion. It is aimed outward, at others, as a self-justification; an accusation and, above all, a yearning for Utopia.


Utopia is an attack on the individual.  There has never been a Utopia that could survive for long without crushing the individual.  That is why “selflessness” is considered a key element of virtue.  Hannah Arendt foresaw the destructiveness of progressive virtue many years ago.  In her work On Revolution she wrote:

“Virtue has indeed been equated with selflessness ever since Robespierre preached a virtue that was borrowed from Rousseau, and it is the equation which has put, as it were, its indelible stamp on the revolutionary man and his innermost conviction that the value of a policy may be gauged by the extent to which it will contradict all particular interests, and that the value of a man may be judged by the extent to which he acts against his own interest and against his own will.”










high speed rail for canada – pipe dream or reality?

HighSpeedRail_ICE1_SchellenbergOccasionally, and when it is politically expedient (read – tons of cash available to be ‘injected’ into the economy), the governments of Canada and the United States wax poetic on the benefits of high speed passenger rail.   When times are bad, railways are rediscovered, primarily I think as a means of attracting  potential labouring class votes more than any actual commitment to delivering a functional rail network.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually a proponent of high speed rail, particularly of the variety in service in France and Germany, but generally only if there is a business case to be made for it.  Unfortunately it is awfully difficult to make money shipping passengers along single mode transportation networks, just ask the shareholders of Air Canada and other airlines.  Notably privately owned passenger transportation (with the exception of motor coaches) networks mostly succeed at losing money for their investors.   Continue reading

junior’s reading….


Under Fire in the Dardanelles:  The Great War Diaries and Photographs of Major Edward Cadogan.

Not simply historical, but also topical.   Given the strange love – hate relationship between turkey and the european union; the middle eastern mess created largely as a result of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire and the meddling of Great Britain and France via the Sykes-Picot Treaty, I think I shall enjoy this.


Next up is “The Jungle is Neutral“, a soldier’s two year jungle escape from the Japanese Army.

best sentence(s) I read today

I don’t normally care too much about what goes on under the congressional approvals process of administration appointments – I don’t have a dog in the fight as they say.  However lately all you see on the news (esp here in KC) is hand-wringing about the prospective US supreme court nominee…

There’s a charade going on in Washington. After people finish playing it, an accomplished lawyer and jurist will be appointed to the highest court of the land. Being accomplished won’t be the sole reason for her appointment. Accomplished people abound in America. If appeal court judge Sonia Sotomayor is elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court, it will be because of her flaws as much as her virtues.

Judge Sotomayor will get the nod because (a) she’s a Hispanic woman, (b) she believes that being a Hispanic woman makes her more qualified to judge matters than people who aren’t Hispanic women, and (c) she’s prepared to deny under oath that she believes what she believes….


around the world – part 39.1 (middle of everywhere)

July 18 2009:

Downtown KC

Downtown KC

Recession?  What recession?   If there is trouble in the heartland, it sure is difficult to tell.   I am not denying that things have fallen off a bit, but perhaps all of the gnashing of teeth and rending of cloth seen and heard on big media these days is because the downturn is being felt mostly on the coasts and in the manufacturing states.   Here in KC, with acres of parking lots, sweltering heat, platoons of SUVs and pickup trucks conducting tailgate parties there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of a bust.

Once again Junior finds himself on the road, only this time for three weeks(!), enjoying the sights and sounds of Kansas City.  More to follow….. 

How to get there:

By air from YYZ on AC 8029, a cramped regional jet, about two hours into MCI.  Collect bags; out to the curb to board the shuttle to the central car rental centre, and then off to the hotel. 

Here’s some UFI on MCI:  the good citizens of Kansas City would dearly love the airport code to be changed to KCI – and indeed on the highway signs, it is referred to as such, but the official airport code remains MCI.  When it was built, it was known as the Mid Continent International – hence MCI.  Additionally the letters K and W are reserved as the initial letters for radio and television stations and despite lobbying by city officials, KC has been refused permission to change the airport designation.