Restoring the Sacred

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Words of Relevance: Bret Stephens on Hillary and Political Opportunists

Bret Stephens, deputy editor of the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal wrote an interesting piece today questioning whether Hillary Clinton's self-reinvention  as a foreign-policy hawk is Kierkegaardian or Aristotelian, i.e., "Is the real 'you' the interior and subjective you; the you of your private whispers and good intentions?  Or are you only the sum of your public behavior, statements and actions?  Are you the you that you have been, and are?  Or are you what you are, perhaps, becoming?"  He then, perhaps, answers his own question by providing his definition of a political opportunist.

Here's the quote:
The political opportunist always lacks the courage of his, or her, convictions.  That's not necessarily because there aren't any convictions.  It's because the convictions are always subordinated to the needs of ambition and ingratiation."

Monday, August 11, 2014

Words of Relevance: Friedrich Hayek on "Social Justice"

There is a whole chapter in Roger Kimball's important book: The Fortunes of Permanence on the writings of Friedrich Hayek.  In it Kimball, before getting to Hayek's view of "weasel words," offers this:
A weasel was once said to be able to empty an egg without leaving a mark, and "social" is in this sense a "weasel word": a phonetic husk with only an echo of meaning.   
Here's a quote from Hayek on the use of "social" followed by a hyphen:  
It is..."increasingly turned into an exhortation, a sort of guide-word for rationalistic morals intended to displace traditional morals, and now increasingly supplants the word 'good' as a designation of what is morally right." 
Kimball goes on:
"Think only of the odious phrase "social justice."  What it means in practice, is de facto injustice, since it operates by enlisting the legal machinery of justice in order to support certain predetermined ends."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Words of Relevance: Owen Paterson and "The Green Blob"

That's Owen Paterson, who recently left his post as British secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs.  He was not a big favorite of the green lobby, because he never bought into their  hysteria (which made many of them very rich).  Today's quote is from a piece he wrote in The Telegraph last month (reprinted today in the Wall Street Journal).  It could be said he left his post 'not with a whimper, but a bang.'

Here's the quote:
It has been a pleasure to take on the challenges of the rural economy and environment.  However, I leave the post with great misgivings about the power and irresponsibility of - to coin a phrase - the Green Blob.
By this I mean the mutually supportive network of environmental pressure groups, renewable energy companies and some public officials who keep each other well supplied with lavish funds, scare stories and green tape.  This tangled triangle of unelected busybodies claims to have the interests of the planet and the countryside at heart, but it is increasingly clear that it is focusing on the wrong issues and doing real harm while profiting handsomely. 
Paterson's relationship with the green lobby was never cordial as can be surmised by this addendum to his above remarks:
I soon realized that the greens and their industrial and bureaucratic allies are used to getting things their own way.  I received more death threats in a few months at [the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] than I ever did as secretary of state for Northern Ireland.