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Dynamics of a Citizens Revolt

Given that the US military boasts enormous firepower, what use is even widespread private gun ownership against such might?

Well, guns are a deterrent to tyranny. If a man actually uses a weapon against a government functionary, then the deterrent has failed, and the result is unfortunate.

The state will practice repression and double down on it again and again, but only for a time.

Its strength lies in its design as the monopoly punisher which can overwhelm any individual or private organization within its domain.

For example, the government may wipe out a whole city, murdering all men, women, and children in it, to strike terror into the hearts of others who might contemplate a rebellion.

But its crucial weakness is its tendency to make martyrs of those who resist it justly. The state cannot afford to slaughter "its own" people with tanks and attack helicopters... too much, for fear of turning public opinion decisively against it.

If that happens, the state's own soldiers will desert, refuse to protect the chiefs, and join the opposition.

There are never any guarantees, but on occasion, individual resistance can break the state's will to rule. The soldiers will drop their weapons; the prison guards will abandon their posts; the IRS agents will no longer evoke fear in the populace and disappear.

As a result, despite its massive military, the government's options are not unlimited.

“Identifying” As Napoleon vs. Transgender

It's hard for me to understand how one can maintain a delusion of grandeur by insisting he is Napoleon. How would such a person respond to the argument that (1) "Napoleon was a historical figure who died in 1821. If you are him, you must be dead. Are you dead?"

The delusion consists not so much in imagining oneself to be Napoleon but in the auxiliary false beliefs that accompany it, such as:

"I am the emperor of France."
"I command vast armies."
"I have been planning an invasion of Russia."
"All shall bow to me and acknowledge me as their ruler."

When a biological male imagines himself a woman, does he fall prey to a similar delusion? Here's why I think the analogy is less than perfect. For while both claims can be mistaken, a transsexual need not have the extra false beliefs like:

"I can bear children."
"I have a pussy."
"My breasts can produce milk."
"I am physically attractive."

And of course, it is impossible for anyone to be Napoleon; but it is possible for a person to be a woman; so (1) cannot be deployed against a trans person.

Hence a transgender person need not be considered insane like someone who "identifies" as Napoleon.

Church As “Army”

Recall my critique of Hugh Elliot's idea that the Catholic Church may be likened to a ruler's army in its stress on mindless obedience.

I only want to add to it the C.S. Lewis' understanding:

Christianity does not think this is a war between independent powers.

It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.

Enemy-occupied territory -- that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.

As the song goes:

Onward, Christian soldiers!
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before. ...

At the sign of triumph
Satan's host doth flee;
On, then, Christian soldiers,
On to victory, etc.

Again, the metaphor extends this far and no farther. Christianity calls for self-sacrifice, not for crazy physical slaughter of innocents in your government's unjust wars unjustly conducted.

Rothbard vs. Positive Externalities

David Gordon, in his book Essential Rothbard, writes approvingly of Rothbard's dismissing the idea that positive externalities are a social problem:

A and B decide to pay for the building of a dam for their use; C benefits though he did not pay. ... This is the problem of the Free Rider. Yet it is difficult to understand what the hullabaloo is all about.

Am I to be specially taxed because I enjoy the sight of my neighbor's garden without paying for it? A's and B's purchase of a good reveals that they are willing to pay for it; if it indirectly benefits C, no one is the loser. (28)

But isn't it obvious that the "social problem" arises not when the dam benefits C but precisely when the dam is not produced in the first place, because it is non-excludable, and people like C will free ride on it? If it were possible to offer to sell the dam's services to C at the price sufficient to cover costs, then C would agree to pay.

The positive externality is then a "problem" not because it is enjoyed by C, but because it is not enjoyed by anyone including C.

I mean, even the most primitive undergraduate micro textbook will argue that goods with positive externalities are "underproduced."

No one is saying that Rothbard ought to be taxed for enjoying the neighbor's garden. The "tax" is a (bad) solution to the problem. But the problem itself remains: since, in building his garden, my neighbor fails to count my pleasure in seeing it, there are fewer gardens than there would be if such benefits were internalized. Some predictable -- even by economists -- increase in human happiness is therefore unrealized.

Gordon does not help it when he does not present the opposing view as strongly as possible. Why would he battle a straw man? This is a pity, because Rothbard's argument has merit and deserves to be developed further. Perhaps Gordon would reply that Rothbard rejected the idea of efficiency in economics as "operationally meaningless." (29-30) Therefore, such underproduction cannot be condemned as inefficient.

Now I, too, consider neoclassical efficiency to be a naive and hopeless concept. But, first, economic efficiency is not thereby rendered a meaningless notion; it is fully tractable when applied to the market process within the Austrian tradition, as I show in my SAtK, I, 10-14.

Second, even within conventional econ, we can still have a little model in which an excludable dam would yield better results than a non-excludable one.

At the same time, I think that we are uniquely "helpless" before most externalities, whether positive or negative, and should almost never involve the state in "fixing" them, as in the longer run this will do more harm than good. Externalities must simply be endured.

Externalities then are a metaphysical complaint, a sort of economic problem of evil.

But for all that, there is evil here, and a world without externalities would be happier than the present world.

In other words, externalities are of the same type of evil as:

- entropy, or
- the fact that no factory is 100% efficient and in particular that all production emits some waste, or
- that human bodies are fragile, or
- that some people are unjust, or
- scarcity of the factors of production

is an evil. It's part of the design of this universe; some of these evils can be mitigated with time via economic progress but never eliminated; nor does the state play any role in their mitigation.

For example, technological improvement might help us to internalize some externalities, analogously to how it helped us, say, to hail an Uber taxi easily.

In another example of transaction costs, Rothbard writes: "What is so terrible about transaction costs? On what basis are they considered the ultimate evil, so that their minimization must override all other considerations of choice, freedom, and justice?" Gordon comments: "If one responds that reducing these costs has some, but not overriding importance, Rothbard's question compels one to specify how much, and why, they are to count." (34) Well, they are costs, and hopefully sooner or later, solutions that increase welfare by diminishing these particular costs, too, will be found. They count no more and no less than other costs that also constrain human happiness.

Note though that if such solutions are found, they will be found by entrepreneurs not by economists. Most economists are terrible entrepreneurs, and vice versa. Economists should not aspire to drive the market. So, I agree that this "approach" to welfare economics is absurd: economists can contribute little to diminishing transaction costs.

For these reasons, I agree that externalities are not a "social" problem or physical evils; but they are still metaphysical evils, an ultimate and irreparable defect in the nature of the world.

Christ’s Free Knowledge Prior to Incarnation

God the Son's omniscience regarding His free knowledge before His incarnation may have extended only up to that point.

For in order for Christ to know that He would love us even after our worst possible crime against Him personally, He must have possessed de se, i.e., experiential, knowledge of or intimate familiarity with "what's it like" to live -- and die -- as Jesus.

It is difficult to believe that He could simply foresee in eternity His decision to accept the grace of charity for humans after His death.

On the other hand, if the Son did not foresee it, then there was a chance that creation would have been in vain. It seems less than Godlike to go through with the project if it was truly unknown whether it would succeed or fail at its final stage.

We might then turn Jesus' own parable against Him:

Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?

Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, "This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish." (Lk 14:28-30)

Could we really have ended up the pathetic creatures of a pathetic God? Surely not.

There Is Nothing “After Liberalism”

In Chapters 1 and 2 of his book After Liberalism, Paul Gottfried demonstrates that the connection between the classical liberalism of the 19th century and modern liberalism is tenuous at best. "By now that decontextualized term means what the user wishes it to signify, providing that he can browbeat others into accepting his definition." (69) Strangely, Gottfried persists in using that term without himself specifying its sense. Why not at least call older liberalism "classical" or libertarian or minarchist, while calling its modern version left-liberalism or false liberalism or simply statism?

Mises castigated this "confusion of tongues":

The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement.

They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty.

They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship.

They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent.

They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office.

Every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau, what an alluring utopia! What a noble cause to fight for! (Bureaucracy, 125)

One small objectionable thing in Gottfried's book, as of Chapter 2, is his apparent belief that a system or policy stands justified if it is approved by the masses. Thus, "the liberal democratic welfare state gained vast power because it gave to most people what they wanted. ... The redistribution of earnings and the furnishing of social services have both middle- and lower-class backing..." (68) Again, "industrialization, urbanization, and other processes engendered industrial democracies, which then developed into welfare states out of popular demand." (62-3) I see. Well, as Tom Lehrer says in the introduction to his song "So Long, Mom," "World War 3 is almost upon us, by popular demand, it seems." I guess it means that nuclear incineration and destruction of most life on earth would be at least as reasonable as socialist central planning and bureaucratic "public administration." That the Russian people worshipped Stalin explains the brutality and extent of Soviet despotism. It does not prove that Stalin was actually a god. That statists call their favorite organization "welfare" state could mean that they are deluded or lying, not that the state has any power to promote rather than retard welfare. That a murderer "identifies" as a giver of life does not make it so; it indicates only that he is insane.

Individual human beings self-destruct all the time as regards their own personal lives in which they have a unique interest up to and including committing suicide. Surely and a fortiori, Gottfried will allow that people collectively could fail to grasp the best means to their "welfare"; that they could make and have in actual fact made terrible mistakes.

What if it can be proved that the public has been mistaken in understanding their own interests? What if the "welfare" state fails to advance welfare adequately, but a libertarian society succeeds? Why otherwise even have or promote an ideology if the masses are guaranteed to be right, whatever it is that they "popularly demand"?

Evolution of American Liberalism

Stage 1. Personal vices should not be repressed by the state.

2. Other people's vices are none of your business one way or another.

3. What you think is a vice may well be a virtue for someone else.

4. So-called "vices" are in fact perfectly wonderful and wholesome for everyone.

5. What vices? How dare you! They are absolute virtues and self-evident universal moral laws binding on everyone, including you!

Personal Identity in Heaven

Can a separated soul be identical to an embodied human in earth? Davis discusses three arguments against this idea by John Perry.

1. Perry calls souls "unobservable." "So I cannot know whether other human beings have souls, or even whether I have a soul." (256) Say what? Descartes wrote, "I do not fail to say that I see the men themselves, just as I say that I see the wax; and yet what do I see from the window beyond hats and cloaks that might cover artificial machines, whose motions might be determined by springs?" (Meditations on First Philosophy, II, 13) Must we really take his query seriously? Is Perry autistic, given that this mental illness is defined by the lack of the capacity to infer that other people have souls or minds? Is he a psychopath? In my book I make the following distinction:

An autistic person does not understand people, but if he did, then he would be just toward them or love them.

(Such a person (1) may not realize that there is anything on earth to be understood:

Barnbaum quotes a mother who questions whether her autistic son will ever be able to grasp that "she is a person with thoughts and feelings, not a wind-up toy." Again, an autistic person may be "unperturbed by the loss of her father, comparing his departure to a bowl of fruit that was on the table one day and gone the next."

Alternatively, (2) an autistic may feel the presence of other human beings but be completely unable to "read" them.)

He has the habit of justice, but a bodily sickness has prevented him from acting justly.

A psychopath does understand people but is unjust to them or fails to love them. In fact, a psychopath may derive perverse pleasure from toying with people's emotions. (SAtK, I, 27)

In reading Perry's arguments, I, too, am assuming that they are written by a man rather than an "artificial machine." Whence, for a normal person, the difficulty of detecting souls?

Moreover, souls are "observed" not only by the intellect but by also the will. I know that Perry's nature is different from the nature of a table or even a cat. There are things I can do to a table, such as chop it up into pieces, which it would be "unjust" to do to him. Humans seek happiness; machines do not. Economic laws work for men not for machines. In the order of grace, we are enjoined to love our human neighbors but not robots. But love causes union and mutual indwelling of souls. Material objects cannot penetrate into each in such a sublime way, but human lovers can indwell in one another spiritually. Thus, sex, for example, is hardly masturbation by using the other person as a helpful sex tool; nor is cuddling after sex like hugging a plushie.

(The last sentence is inspired by a note in David Friedman's Price Theory: "The first [definition of 'exploitation'] is that I exploit you if I benefit by your existence and our association. In this sense, I hope to exploit my wife and she hopes to exploit me; hopefully we will both succeed." (204) How romantic.)

Bodily resemblance is mere evidence of identity. If Smith's dear friend Jones suddenly starts behaving in completely unexpected ways while looking the same, then Smith may be fully justified in wondering whether this is in fact not Jones at all but rather his evil twin.

2. Perry's next point is that "the memory criterion of personal identity... is never sufficient to establish personal identity. This is because of the obvious fact that memory is fallible."

Well, presumably, memory in the afterlife is perfect, as suggested by numerous near-death experiences and their "life reviews."

3. If God were to create another soul in heaven, S2, that is qualitatively identical to Smith's soul, will that soul, too, be Smith?

No. There would still be a difference between Smith and S2 in that Smith's memories would be true, and S2's false. S2 may therefore think he is Smith, but in so doing he would be mistaken. For example, if God in reviewing Smith's life showed him a sin he committed, then Smith would properly feel ashamed. But it would not make sense for S2 to feel ashamed. Similarly, God could judge Smith but not S2, etc.

I admit that an observer would have to witness Smith's soul traveling from earth to heaven and S2 being created by God to distinguish between them. But that is sufficient. If someone secretly placed an exact copy of Christian Philosophical Theology next to my own copy, I might not be able to tell which copy is mine. That does not mean either that no copy is mine or that both are mine or that the omniscient God could not tell, either.

Therefore, the "lack of competition" is irrelevant. It's false that God can "prevent someone's surviving death by creating a second qualitatively identical person."

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Grace

The Catholic teaching is that "there must result an inequality of grace in individuals, and for two reasons: first, because according to the generosity of God or the receptive condition of the soul an unequal amount of grace is infused; then, also, because the grace originally received can be increased by the performance of good works."

Now the "qualitative" grace is one that raises man above his nature. Belief in the articles of faith, hope for eternal life, and charity for God and neighbor are impossible in a man's mere natural state. Grace is not the same as the theological virtues, but it includes their infusion into the soul. Here it seems that all Christians have the same "amount" of grace: since any doubt destroys faith completely, one either believes or not, hopes or not, etc.

I describe quantitative grace elsewhere, calling it somewhat fancifully, the "grace of the saints."

This distinction explains why it makes no sense for God to "flood" a person with some massive amount of grace. Regarding qualitative grace, only that much grace is sufficient as to cause faith, etc. Regarding quantitative grace, giving too much at any one time is pointless, since man must actualize his newly increased potential first which takes time and effort. "The question is not a theological but a philosophical one to decide whether the increase be effected by an addition of grade to grade, as most theologians believe; or whether it be by a deeper and firmer taking of root in the soul, as many Thomists claim."

Justification is due to the first qualitative grace and occurs only once. It prepares its receiver for his future Christian life. One is justified then simply by converting to Christianity, insofar as we believe in "one baptism for the forgiveness of sins" (both original and actual). Sanctification is continuous throughout one's life, as divine quantitative grace and human cooperation with grace through works improve one's soul. In this sense, one justifies himself by proving himself anew every day.

Atonement, 2

In John 17, Jesus says: "Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you... I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began."

Jesus does not say, "Father, punish me horribly and humiliate and destroy me utterly so that the human race may escape its just retribution."

If that were how it worked, then the "Father," whoever he might actually be, would not be my God. I would judge him completely insane. I can't worship a mad being. I'd look for another God or do without one at all. Christianity would make to me no sense.

Falsity of the “Atonement” Theory

Davis has an astonishing defense of the idea that the blood of Christ is an "atonement," a sacrifice of "something spotless" or "without blemish" to make amends for human sins.

His first example to illustrate this theory is a war between nations. Why can't wars be fought with robots?

A nation at war stops fighting when its leaders and citizens realize that continuing to fight would be too costly: too much territory lost to the enemy, too much damage done to the homeland, and especially too many lives lost. And that is precisely the problem with my five-year-old's fantasy.

If a nation is only losing robots, that realization -- that continuing to fight would be too costly -- would never be reached. Conflict between nations is always horrible, and restoring peace is costly.

It is terrible to have to say it, but first people have to die.

Well, it is not only terrible to say it, it's false. Davis continues with a second example of Romeo and Juliet, where the feud between the families ends only upon many deaths. He repeats the principle that "it is always costly to rectify a terribly wrong situation," and again concludes with the opinion that "somebody has to die." (218-9)

But that's a wrong lesson to draw from these two situations. A human being receives his wake-up call and turns around from a life of crime or sin not when "somebody dies," but when he in his own life reaches rock bottom, when he because of his sins loses everything. On occasion it may be sufficient to be thoroughly terrified by a threat or punishment or by an actual punishment or by a sober realization of what monster or loser one has become. When one sees that the only way left to him is up, he may begin to turn his life around and make amends. Now God may play a crucial role in this process. I agree with Davis that the wrath of God is very real. Many people have reported feeling "convicted of sin," even feeling divine contempt for themselves. But that is grace or sanctification and a work of the Holy Spirit. It is not the entirely separate act of redemption by the Son.

We may even call this experience of inner regeneration being "born again" which does involve a kind of "death." But at the most it's a metaphorical spiritual death not a physical one.

Once this distinction is admitted, Davis' atonement theory falls apart. I have defended my own view of the causal connection between Christ's actions and our salvation in many posts below: e.g., [1], [2], [3]. Now I suggested that "the Incarnation was much more about God the Son than it was about us." But now we can add an extra point precisely about us: that the murder of Jesus was truly a new low for the human race, an ultimate crime and evil, not matched at any time either before or after. I have further pointed out that whoever you "identify" as, your kind of people killed Christ. Realizing that the lowest possible point of human depravity has already been reached and almost universally found eye-openingly horrible should remind any Christian to climb toward the light.

Curious Note on Reincarnation

Davis makes what I think is a potent objection to the karmic systems of salvation. Let a person be "bad" in his "previous life." Then in this present life,

How is it "decided" that the just karmic consequences in this case is suffering from a painful disease rather than, say, living as a poor beggar? If the pain is indeed due to misdeeds in past lives, then, without some sort of personal administrator or supervisor of karma, it is not easy to see how karmic "decisions" as to what are the just and proper consequences are to be made.

The curious part is what Davis adds in a footnote to this: "Perhaps the self -- if it continues as a conscious agent between incarnations -- can make decisions about which station in the next life will best serve its own karmic interests. But I am unaware of any karmic systems of salvation that affirm that this in fact occurs." (204)

A relative of mine who is apparently gifted with a "sight" -- she saw my guardian angel, she remembers some of her past life -- has argued precisely that! Each pre-existing soul prior to incarnating essentially writes a script of its future life in this world to profit it the most.

One obvious problem is that all human lives are intertwined. Who then "coordinates" the "scripts"? Surely, divine providence over the world as a whole is beyond the ken of a mere mortal.

Another difficulty is that few souls would willingly choose a wicked life. Yet such lives are plentiful. A partial answer is suggested in the gnostic "Apocalypse of Paul":

But I saw in the fourth heaven the angels resembling gods, bringing a soul out of the land of the dead. They placed it at the gate of the fourth heaven. And the angels were whipping it [for committing murders in the world]. ...

When the soul heard [the accusations], it gazed downward in sorrow. And then it gazed upward. It was cast down. The soul that had been cast down went to a body which had been prepared for it. And behold, its witnesses were finished.

Well, if nothing else, it seems that heaven is a rather complicated place.

Personality of Christ

Does St. Thomas deny that Christ had any distinctly human personality? "The human nature of Christ has a greater dignity than ours, from this very fact that in us, being existent by itself, it has its own personality, but in Christ it exists in the Person of the Word." (ST, III, 2, reply 2) Again, "this human nature is a kind of individual in the genus of substance, it has not its own personality, because it does not exist separately, but in something more perfect, viz. in the Person of the Word." (reply 3) And finally: "from the union of the soul and body in Christ a new hypostasis or person does not result, but what is composed of them is united to the already existing hypostasis or Person." (5, reply 1)

I am not sure if I am reading him correctly, but is it really the case that despite the fact that Christ had a human body, intellect, and will, he lacked a human personality, such that "what sort of person Christ was" was 100% the divine person of the Son? Are we willing to assert there was literally nothing that Christ's human soul was "into"? Jesus did not care for girls or movies or airplanes or sunny days or anything else. His soul had no independent interests or motivations. Despite having an intellect and will, Christ's human personality was blank, empty, utterly indifferent and undeveloped.

The Gospels do not testify that Jesus had any interest in any earthly things other than those necessary for His physical survival. Apparently, like an unstoppable juggernaut, He rushed single-mindedly toward the end, wanting nothing more than to accomplish His purpose.

I have suggested that the truth is more complex. At the very least, Jesus' human and divine personalities were united or "fused" inseparably from the source of His two natures. Moreover, far from the irreverent notion that Jesus was not "into" anything, perhaps the exact opposite is true: Jesus was, and is, into everything. During His incarnation, His mission indeed outweighed any other goal or pleasure. Now, however, if Jesus were to pilot a plane, say, then He might well be giddy with overwhelming joy.

Jesus might be the kind of guy who will "try anything once."

Resisting Jesus, 2

Lest my assertion that Jesus despised the evil in men be thought scandalous, consider that the Gospels are replete with references to God's disgust with and contempt for pretty much everyone.

John the Baptist begins: "When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, 'You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?'" (Mt 3:7)

Jesus, using the same imagery, declares to the Pharisees: "You brood of vipers, how can you say good things when you are evil? For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks." (Mt 12:34)

Here's His typical condemnation: "You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.'" (Mt 15:7-9)

This "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites" (Mt 23) is repeated in a disturbing way several times.

Now these thunderous denunciations were of course contingent on the actual real people Christ was encountering during His public ministry. Thus, an interesting Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Transfiguration points out:

This dazzling brightness which emanated from His whole Body was produced by an interior shining of His Divinity. False Judaism had rejected the Messiah, and now true Judaism, represented by Moses and Elias, the Law and the Prophets, recognized and adored Him, while for the second time God the Father proclaimed Him His only-begotten and well-loved Son.

Certainly Moses and Elijah were not guilty of any hypocrisy.

A little further, the Lord's disciples ask him to explain a parable to them. Jesus replies with, "Are you still so dull?" (Mt 15:16) Again, in response to the Philip's request to "show us the Father," Jesus says, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father." (Jn 14:9) Jesus clearly did not suffer fools gladly. A man approaches Jesus with a sick son, saying "I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him." Jesus laments, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him here to me." (My 17:14-20) He chides his followers for having "little faith." All these are rather gentle rebukes, though, so I wouldn't call them contemptuous.

In request for the Pharisees' request for a sign, Jesus replies venomously, "An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. ... At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here," etc. (Mt 12:38-42) I can almost hear Him swearing in His heart, "Motherfuckers! You are the people I am dying for here?!"

I really think that Jesus should have used more profanity in the Gospels to stress the identity between Himself and the terrifying and rigorous Lord of the OT.

Sobran is right. Jesus may be full of unconditional love of unimaginable intensity and purity, but He was not -- and is not -- a "nice guy."

Gary North Is Prophesying Again

Most likely falsely, and in "the next 20 years" he'll probably be pushing up daisies, so he won't have to apologize. Why am I even bothering to peek at his stuff?

I mean, Gary is a highly intelligent guy, and his writings are often informative and interesting.

Unfortunately, he labors under the delusion that he is a prophet of God. He thinks he is Isaiah reborn. Apparently, he receives from God no actual prophesies, so he has to make up his own. Which he does, absurdly, in every article of his I've skimmed.

I mean, the guy is literally a dying old man. He knows nothing about information technology or its trends to speculate in an educated manner what will happen 2 years from now, let alone 20. His ignorance does nothing to diminish his self-conceit.

For example: hey Gary, can you tell us, without consulting Wikipedia sneakily, how the telegraph you so eloquently praise, actually worked? What specific technical improvements and based on which developments in natural sciences were made to it within the first 20 years of its commercialization? Of course you have no idea. Why then would you lie to us about what the distant future will supposedly bring?

Wake up Gary and quit bullshitting us. You are just a regular dude.

Christ’s Glorified Body

St. Thomas calls God's essence "super-intelligible" in itself, though ultimately incomprehensible to us due to its infinity.

Somewhat similarly, Christ's resurrected body is super-visible, as per "Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father." (Mt 13:43)

Thus, Betty Eadie describes her near-death experience as follows:

As I approached it, I noticed the figure of a man standing in it, with the light radiating all around him. As I got closer, the light became brilliant -- brilliant beyond any description, far more brilliant than the sun -- and I knew that no earthly eyes in their natural state could look upon this light without being destroyed. ...

Although his light was much brighter than my own, I was aware that my light, too, illuminated us. And as our lights merged, I felt as if I had stepped into his countenance, and I felt an utter explosion of love.

Far from Christ's post-resurrection appearances being mere visions, whether entirely subjective or more objective, He hid His glory from sight, lest He would literally blind everyone, and presented Himself like a regular human.

St. Thomas' analogy in this regard is extremely apt: "for example, the sun, which is supremely visible, cannot be seen by the bat by reason of its excess of light." (ST, I, 12, 1) Even Paul's blindness from his conversion on the road to Damascus may be understood to have come from his exposure to the physical light of the divine glory. (Though it could also have been a sign of Paul's intellectual confusion, that he didn't know what to think, since his whole worldview was shattered by the experience.)

The Scriptures do not testify that the risen Christ showed His glory to anyone (such as in the manner of the Transfiguration), but that He had glory, again, can be deduced from His manner of appearing and disappearing, coming in through locked doors, and the like at will.

Sobran on Resisting Jesus

His essay makes it clear that Jesus despised mankind, even (and especially) "people who adored him," in the New Testament at least as much as the Lord despised the "stiff-necked" Israelites in the Old (e.g., Ex 33:5). The only difference, one supposes, is that, unlike in the Torah, no murders were committed at God's hand in the Gospels.

In the end, however, Jesus proved that His love for us far exceeded His contempt.

Whether Corrupting the US Military Is Good?

Walter Block writes:

A federal judge today rejected President Trump’s order stopping the enlistment of transgendered people into the American military. Posit that this will make the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines less efficient. Is this something to be welcomed by the libertarian?

He answers yes, since the military is being used for evil purposes.

Now let Smith be a murderer and thief. At one point he becomes mentally ill and starts cutting his own body brutally. We might argue that this is all to the good, since Smith's illness reduces his efficiency as a criminal and may even make society better off on the whole.

And yet we would also naturally consider Smith's mental illness to be an evil in itself, a corruption of something good. He now falls short of perfection both by being morally wicked and mentally ill. Restoring him to normalcy would now require both curing him of his sickness and improving him morally which is harder than doing either of these alone.

It is true that the US military is being viciously abused. It is also true that it consumes -- and therefore misallocates -- an enormous amount of scarce resources, impoverishing society. But letting in transsexuals or putting women on the front lines to me seems like an extra depraved perversion. Block might argue that in this case, two wrongs will make a right. Society and individuals are at war with the state, and anything that weakens the latter strengthens the former. It's a defensible view, but we should be very careful in this "war" that in fighting the state we do not harm ourselves, as well. The corruption of the state military may infect society though bad ideas and ideologies, too, and spread to it.

In other words, the libertarian struggle against the state is less a literal boxing match than a battle of ideas. We should not support bad ideas which will weaken us intellectually even if they also weaken the state physically.

Buchanan Asks What “We” Should Fight for

Pat Buchanan in his typical fashion is advising the US against overextending itself. In so doing he does not distinguish between the state and the people, so he calls both "we."

That is a serious blunder. In particular, war is the health of the state. Even if "this generation of Americans is not going to risk war," the interests of the state in permanent warfare can easily prevail over the interests of Americans.

The state wants to dominate and destroy. I personally do not care about the South China Sea, but the US government probably does. Accordingly, it may want to conquer that sea in order to oppress and murder Chinese people more efficiently. The US state seeks power, and as Orwell noted correctly, power is manifested in inflicting suffering on one's fellow men. The more suffering is dished out, in this case on the Chinese, the "greater" the state becomes. Thus, my interests and the interests of the state are in opposition, which means it is senseless to agglomerate both of us into one undifferentiated "we."

Buchanan is an anti-free trader. If the US government were to invade China and destroy its economy, then free trade would be ipso facto annihilated. It may be "vital" for the US government to blow up China, so that American firms are protected from foreign competition. If Buchanan had been elected president, it might have occurred to him that people tend to evade government restrictions on international trade. Buchanan might then want to wipe China off the face of the earth in order to destroy free trade in a sort of "final solution" by destroying one of the traders. When there are traders, he might reason, there is a problem of free trade; when there are no traders, there is no problem. Of course, the American people would only lose from this monstrous crime, but Buchanan would benefit, since it would serve to aggrandize his political power over the ruins of the world.

It is useless to bury one's head in the sand by falsely and naively considering all people, "us," to have identical interests.

Again, Buchanan writes: "While [the South China Sea] is regarded as vital to China, it is not to us." And if it were "vital," it would be Ok to fight with China? A mugger, too, may consider his victim's money to be "vital" to him, but we don't write articles counseling caution to muggers. At best, Buchanan is an efficiency expert for the state.

And why does he call nation-states "she," when it is proper to call ships "she" but nations "it"?

Self-Deification of the Leftists

Poor Jeff Tucker. He is ministering to the left, preaching the gospel of Hayek to the insane.

He should harbor no illusions that his wards will ever grant him the dignity of having "good intentions." For the leftists, Tucker will always be an evil troglodyte out to impede "progress."

Thus, let Tucker proclaim: "I wish to increase human happiness." Great. Unfortunately, the leftists do not care about human happiness. They take their own arbitrary, usually vicious, and often ridiculous and contemptible value judgments and elevate them to the status of absolute good. Anyone who fails to agree with them regarding their pathetic opinions is by that very fact totally depraved and is to be repressed by any means necessary.

In this regard, Lew Rockwell writes perceptively:

... conservatives who accuse the left of moral relativism have it so wrong. Far from relativistic, the left is absolutist in its demands of conformity to strict moral codes.

For example, when it declares "transgender" persons to be the new oppressed class, everyone is expected to stand up and salute. Left-liberals do not argue that support for transgender people may be a good idea for some people but bad for others. That's what they'd say if they were moral relativists. But they're not, so they don't.

And it is not simply that dissent is not tolerated. Dissent cannot be acknowledged. What happens is not that the offender is debated until a satisfactory resolution is achieved. He is drummed out of polite society without further ado. There can be no opinion apart from what the left has decided.

These leftist values, far from being absolute, are in fact random noise. They are wild and often wicked passions, undisciplined by reason or systematic thought. They change every day. The leftists vomit these useless emotions upon anyone and everyone uncivilly. There is no realization that their values may be personal, relative, transient, and irrelevant in the scheme of things, or that the leftists are not infallible and could be greatly mistaken.

A leftist then is marked with an unshakable faith in his own "good intentions," moral righteousness, infallible judgment, and a holy right to coerce those who question his ill-thought-out primitive doctrines. He torments his fellow men "lovingly" and with a sense of purpose.

This self-deification is an old phenomenon. Mises describes it as follows:

What the naive mind calls reason is nothing but the absolutization of its own value judgments. The individual simply identifies the products of his own reasoning with the shaky notion of an absolute reason.

No socialist author ever gave a thought to the possibility that the abstract entity which he wants to vest with unlimited power -- whether it is called humanity, society, nation, state, or government -- could act in a way of which he himself disapproves.

A socialist advocates socialism because he is fully convinced that the supreme dictator of the socialist commonwealth will be reasonable from his -- the individual socialist's -- point of view, that he will aim at those ends of which he -- the individual socialist -- fully approves, and that he will try to attain these ends by choosing means which he -- the individual socialist -- would also choose.

Every socialist calls only that system a genuinely socialist system in which these conditions are completely fulfilled; all other brands claiming the name of socialism are counterfeit systems entirely different from true socialism. Every socialist is a disguised dictator. Woe to all dissenters! They have forfeited their right to live and must be "liquidated." (HA, 692-3)

In Mises' time, socialism was at least a big idea. There was a theory there, however false, a system. Today's leftists are content with advocating that allegedly "transgender" children be destroyed bodily with drugs and surgery. They have fallen so low as to produce only autistic screeching. As an intelligible ideology, leftism is done for.

I can comfort and strengthen Tucker in his mission only with this: "Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Mt 5:11-12)