5th Floor - Right To Left

Some 5th floor music to get you acquainted with their sounds before Sunday.

Plus here is some information on the group and their vibe.

5th Floor is a 12 strong Cape Town hip-hop outfit that was assembled in 1996. '04/'05 saw the crew release their debut album called Attention To Detail. 5th Floor then independently launched a second album called “Sex & Revolution” in March '09 through So Treal Music.

Sex & Revolution is Camo & Kasual T accompanied by a 4 piece band.

The crew performs and produces hip-hop music, as well as providing platforms for urban-art expression within their immediate community.

5th Floor is a proud product of their environment and to reflect their heritage they have chosen poetry & live music as their medium. Their lyrics reveal meaning in everyday life while drawing on lessons from our common ancestry.

In keeping with the ethics of real music the 5th Floor encourages Knowledge-Of-Self. This is an element that has motivated and inspired the crew in many ways. The relevance of universal concepts apply to the local and abroad underprivileged communities where there is a large hip hop audience.

Collectively the Fifth Floor Unit has shared platforms with artist world wide. The caliber ranges from poets like Sarah Jones, Timbuktu, Loop Troop to Lesego Rampoalekeng, artists like Tumi & the Volume to Black Thought of The Roots, Zaki Ibrahim, John Robinson, People Under The Stairs, Slum Village, Talip Kweli through to outfits like Blk Sonshine, MXO and Bongo Muffin.

The presence of 5th Floor has been felt globally. Their work appeared in the award- winning graffiti documentary “Over Spray” & they have shared platforms with artist in all elements of the culture. Dj’s like South Africa’s no. 1 Ready-D & Mr Len of Company Flow (NY) & Black Noise & Even POC (Prophet of da City)

5th Floor featured on the Harambe Dope Sessions Compilation, MK89(DSTV), Hype Magazine(Oct ‘09), Merge Magazine Compilation, Sunday Sun, Channel O(DSTV), Latitude(SABC), Street Journal(SABC), Whats On Cape Town(CTV).
The 5th Floor has been felt in venues nationally Like The Assembly Cape Town, Car Fax & Roka Bar Gauteng, Tings & Times Pretoria & Oppikopi & Synergy Music Fest, Artscape Theatre Hip hop Connected ‘09 & Cape Town Fest ‘10 to name a few.

“Hip-Hop artistic/ original- we don’t bite/ From b-boys to DJ’s to graff work we stay tight!” – 5th Floor 2005

Style Icon

Like it or Not... Mos Def is a style icon. Like this chilled out look.

Thesis Social Jam Session is featured in The latest Shook Magazine. This issue is largely dedicated to South Africa and was done before the World Cup and features other prominent players in the South African music landscape, both underground and commercial. We proud of this achievement as it has helped us spread the love. Thanks to Jez, Sam and Ben from Shook magazine and Allan Nicoll aka Kid Fonque for the shook up.

South Africa has got it going on right now. Forget football (the country’s footballing heritage was decimated by apartheid), in 2010 it’s South Africa’s young party starters, streetwear entrepreneurs, dance music moguls, grassroots organizations, and Pan-African publishers who are attracting the eyes of the world.

South Africa has never considered itself anything but a First World country and this is what a new generation is out to prove. In our special South Africa issue, headline artists BLK JKS meet guitar hero Dr. Phillip ‘Malombo’ Tabane; international dance music stars Black Coffee and Culoe de Song provide an entry point into the ubiquitous house music scene; and in the beating heart of Soweto we meet the country’s future leaders. We also revisit the radical 1960s jazz players through Basil Breakey’s photography, the multi-racial 1980s hip-hop movement in Cape Town and highlight new movements like the Pan African Space Station.

Elsewhere in the issue, Bilal gets us all hot in the middle, DJ Spinn gives us a brief history of Chi-Town’s Footworkers and how he needs Juke Music All Night Long. There’s Sun Ra’s Arkestra, The Now Sound of Brasil, Colombian soundsystems and much more…

Preview the magazine here

Wireless G doing it Big

Our resident DJ and fellow creative, wireless_G is doing it big with his second international gig this year. He will be opening up the Blu and Exile gig happening this Saturday at Townhall (Old Song writers Club in Newtown). Also billed to play are Tumi (from TATV), 5th floor (The night before TSJS), XO. Joining G on the decks will be Raiko and Akio ID all the way from CPT. Show love and support for this gig. Tickets are R120 at the door and pre sold for R100 at Grayscale store in Brammfontein.

TSJS Tribute to Stan

Stan The Man with the plan.... This session is dedicated to Stanley Parkies our first host. He has passed on, but the beat must go on and this is our farewell to him.

In order to keep things fresh and expose new people to the streets, we have a live act line up with two groups that have never performed in Soweto before and its a blessing that we have them with us. First is Bongiziwe Mabandla and The Fridge. This is a three guita...rist band that sings folk music. 5th Floor is a hip hop duo from the streets of Cape Town that is breathing fresh air to the hip hop infested market of South Africa. They have already blessed Party People hosted by DJ Kenzhero.

On the DJ line up we have the Residents, Khumza with a selection dedicated to Stan, Omi ( On a visit from Durban), Skindeep who last graced the decks last year and Wireless_G our WWUD (Worldwide Under Ground) DJ.

Our Host is Tall Ass Mo and he will be keeping you laughing with Skhumba. These two comedians are bubbling under the surface in the comedy circuit of South Africa.

Live Acts
Bongiziwe and The Fridge
5th Floor

DJ Line Up

Host/Comedy Act
Tall Ass Mo

Cover Charge
R20 with No Thesis Gear
R15 with Thesis Gear

Playstation 3 portals will be available and are brought to us by Liquid Gamez.
Food and Drinks will be available...

A Day Out of Time photographs

Now that a few weeks have passed since the splendid Day Out of Time festival in Govanhill Park here are a few photos to take you back to that sunny day...

Defining Slut: More Data.

Several commentators have mentioned that socioeconomic/intelligence factors may explain the workings of this graph.

Whilst I did not think socioeconomic factors would alter things much, I could not prove it. Fortunately the source of this information has been found, (Thanks Leah!) and what's below is taken from it.

As you can see, socioeconomic factors don't play any major role in the number count. Furthermore, intelligence--measured imperfectly by its proxy education--seems to have a small effect. Highly educated and affluent white girls seem to be doing their fair share of the heavy lifting. Must be those Law/arts majors.

The paper from which this data is from can be found here. There is literally loads and loads of information in it.

The 2002 data is here and pretty much confirms the 1995 findings. Table 11, page 29 for those interested.

With regard to the 1995 data, there is a flaw in the Heritage Foundation's methodology. Apparently Married= Married+ remarried. Approximately 9.3% of the Married group were remarriages. I suppose that's why the Heritage Foundation labeled the graph, Stable Marriages instead of First Marriages. Anyway, what this does is artificially elevates that stable marriage rate of the 2 or more partner group, since about 15% of the marriages are remarriages.
It also dilutes the 1 partner group falsely by about 3% making the probability of stable marriage lower than what it is in reality.

I've got to admit that whilst I thought promiscuous women were less safe bets, I never imagined that the effect would kick in after so few partners.

It's actually spurred me to do a bit of a non systemic literature search and the data which I have found by other independent researchers seems to point in the same direction. I'll hopefully put up a post in the next few weeks when time avails.

This has all been rather profoundly depressing. Based upon the data, the current "hook up" culture is likely to produce a social disaster never before seen in the West. We are facing a social apocalypse. Society is going to implode.

The Foundations of Conservatism: The Mind's Understanding of Reality

Now for some conceptual art.

As mentioned before, Conservatives believe that reality is composed of two parts. That which is perceptible and that which is not. We can draw a diagram which illustrates the conservative conception of reality as follows:

The green area is perceptible reality--stuff that we detect through our senses--and the blue is non-perceptible reality. Stuff that's out there but we can't directly sense. The yellow area represents an ontological plane of non-reality; that is of things that don't exist(propositions which are false).

In the conservative scheme of things, the mind sits between the two planes and is able to know elements of both, even if the mind does not understand. That is, the mind has a capability to grasp both empirical and non-empirical reality, (I'm going to keep this simple for the moment and ignore the fact that the mind can also grasp falsehood. Imagine little yellow circles in the white one.)

Now, note the black line in the blue area that separates the white circle, that represents a "Sense barrier". By sense barrier, what I mean is that stuff on the other side of it--real stuff that exists--is not directly accessible by our senses. The important part about this is that the mind is capable of knowing whats on the "other side" but there is no way to physically perceive it and hence test it scientifically. ( I don't care if you don't believe it, just go with it.) We'll get to the importance of this later on. Ancient Roman, Greek, Hindu, Jewish, Chinese, Sumerian, Viking, i.e Traditional cultures, all had this view of reality. It's only in modern times that man has deviated from this vision.

Now the great revolution in human thought came about through the scientific method. Here theories were tested by sense observation and either validated or rejected. The "hard core" proponents of the scientific method insisted that the only valid knowledge was knowledge derived and verified by sense experience. Their ontological understanding of the hard core empiricists was as follows:

The strict empiricists basically said that since we can't test what's beyond the sense barrier, it either:a) Irrelevant.
b) Not worth knowing.
c) There is nothing beyond the sense barrier.

Now before we diss Empiricism we must recognise its strengths. By forcing men to seek an explanation of natural phenomena without an appeal to "higher powers" men were forced to look for answers amongst the perceptible world. Let's just say that the results produced by the scientific method were spectacular and the results justified the belief, and a corresponding contempt for knowledge that was not derived from it. Furthermore, as science progressed, physical phenomena were found to have to rational explanations which did not require the invocation of God. Theistic explanations gave way to scientific ones and this of course led to a certain optimism that everything could be explained by science.

Believers of empiricism can be thought of having a continuum of opinions of what lays beyond the sense barrier. The strict empiricists(Atheists) believe that nothing exists. The weak empiricists (Agnostics) believe that something may exist but as we cannot empirically verify it and therefore the knowledge is either irrelevant or the subject of personal opinion.

The strict empiricists basically declare that anything that was beyond the sense barrier was not valid knowledge, as it cannot be empirically verified. According to their view, any such "knowledge" was at best second rate and at worst blind superstition.

Now, the first thing to consider is by accepting the strict empirical view of reality a man separates himself for the bulk of traditional humanity by positing a conception of reality which is at odds with the rest of man. From an empirical epistemological point of view religion belongs either to the second rate knowledge or superstitious category. Therefore its thrown out of the window as a practical knowledge.

However then a real life practical problem arises. Humans are interpersonal beings that relate to each other through behaviour, and behaviour implies imperatives. i.e. How to behave? Empirical observation does not give us a guide on this matter. Since empirical observation can show us how best to achieve our goals but it cannot give us those goals in the first place.

The traditionalist view was that the knowledge of these goals came from the non-empirical realm something the empiricists rejected. They had to place the locus of these goals in the mind or self. Morality becomes self-generated or self-optimised. Here are the seeds of moral relativism.

Thirdly, the strict empiricist has to have a negative opinion of religion, because the type of knowledge the religion provides is the type of knowledge he does not want. More importantly he will be hostile towards religion.

Now it needs to be understood that Conservatism is not opposed to the empirical method, it's opposed to the empirical ontology, an ontology which is profoundly anti-conservative. On the other hand, many strict empiricists are hostile to Conservatism because conservative moral claims--derived from non-empirical reality--are usually hostile to some of their personal claims. As I've said before, strict atheism is intrinsically unconservative because atheists deny the realm of reality from which Conservatives derive valid knowledge. Saying that, however, many atheists can with sufficient intellectual honesty and intellectual strength and exertion arrive at a knowledge of "Natural Law" and therefore appear "conservative" without a belief in any non-empirical reality. (Something a complete idiot can efficiently arrive at simply by having faith) A case in point is Heather McDonald.

These type of Conservatives are very conservative, except that they're not.

The minimum ontological vision that a man can possess and still be considered conservative is agnosticism, though I equivocate on this issue and I'm capable of being convinced otherwise.

LV Ft. Okmalumkoolkat_ Boomslang (snaake)

Big things be happening for one half of Dirty Paraffin member Okmalumkoolkat. He has a single dropping out on Hyperdub.

Directed/ Edited by Mello Moropa
DOP Justin McGee
Styling by Jamal Nxedlana and Smiso Zwane

The Foundations of Conservatism: The Nature of Reality

The next great dividing line separating the Conservatives from the rest concerns an understanding of the nature of reality. Conservatives believe that while there is an objective reality which is extrinsic to their perception, not all of this reality is perceptible. In other words, there is a realm of existence which we cannot access directly with our senses. It is in this realm where stuff like universals, souls, gods and sky pixies of various types inhabit. With the exception of modern man, nearly all of the peoples that have ever lived believed that reality comprised an earthly component and a heavenly one. Be that Nirvana, Valhalla, Penglai Shan, Heaven, Aukumea, etc.

I suppose the minimum belief that a man can have and still be called a Conservative is agnosticism. Strict Empiricism, that is the denial of any plane of reality outside that which accessible by the senses separates a man from the conservative fold.

The importance of this "plane of non- perceptible reality" is that from it arise many of the transcendental imperatives by which a man must live his life. Ought can't be derived from is from the earthly plane but can be derived from from the transcedental one.

The Foundations of Conservatism. Reality.

The Conservative Mind functions with several metaphysical assumptions.

These are:

1) There is such a thing as reality. Reality is that which exists.
2) Reality is extrinsic to our perception of it. In other words, just because we don't know about something doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
3) Our minds are able to apprehend and misapprehend reality.
4) If our knowledge of reality is in conflict with some other aspect of our knowledge of it then we know that our understanding of reality is flawed.
5) Our happiness depends on a full understanding of reality.
6)Reality matters, since ignoring it leads to unhappiness.

Re-read The Metaphysics of Conservatism.

Holders of this view included the Titans of Classical thought, Plato, Socrates and Aristotle. The Roman Catholic Church and until recently, most of the mainline Christian Churches. Critical and Naive Realists.

Some people who oppose this view are Post-Modernists, Philosophical Relativists, Phenomenonists, holders of the Coherence Theory of Truth, and Existentialists.

( Intellectual pathology is the precursor of social pathology. A lot of the social pathology of the modern world has come about from the successful propagation of the ideas of this second group. Don't believe me? Homework task: Check out the adherents of this second group of ideas. The rot becomes apparent early on.)

That's all for today.

Defining Slut. 2

Several commentators have raised objections to the study mentioned in the previous post claiming that it was methodologically flawed due to the inability to control for confounding variables, bias and so on. I will admit that the study does have some flaws but basically the conclusions are valid.

Firstly, the study involved 10,000 women and the data was collected by the CDC, good sample size and a non-partisan credible collection agency. Tick.

Secondly, the study didn't control for socio-economic and demographic variables. This would be a legitimate criticism is a particular community chosen for study was non representative of the group. However the sample group was meant to be representative of the entire U.S. age cohort. Therefore, many of the biases, would in reality cancel each other out to produce a picture of the "average". Whilst this does not give us an absolute guide to a particular persons behaviour it give us practical rules of thumb by which we understand the real world and navigate society and base our expectations. The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the brave but its the way to bet. The "pure" risk of promiscuity is of academic interest only. We marry real people.

What we have here is statistical purists objecting to the application of the average to the particular. A complaint of limited relevance.

Thirdly, objections centered around the definition of stable marriage:
A stable marriage was defined as a woman over 30, who had been married for five or more years at the time of marriage. Basically who was excluded from the study was any woman less than 30 and any woman over 30 with less than 5 years of marriage. As their marriages were of indeterminate stability. Their data was excluded from the statistical analysis. This definition is reasonable as:

1) Most women want to be in a stable marriage by their 30's. The mean age of marriage in the U.S. when the study was done was 25, so this seems a reasonable end point.
2) A woman divorced before 30 was by this definition not in a stable marriage, I agree.
3) A 5 year definition of stability seems pretty lax, but I'd hate to see the figures if the standards were raised. Even with these lax standards the promiscuous can't make the grade.

However the study has a systemic bias. If a woman had multiple short flings in her youth but then entered a stable marriage she was included in the study. It's important to realise just how important this definition is. By keeping the age of stable marriage above thirty, the study gave the woman a chance to be wild whilst young and then monogamous. Example: A woman who had 12 partners prior to 24 and then found the "one" would still be considered as being in a stable relationship when she was thirty. It appears that there was systemic bias to minimise the effect of youth promiscuity in this study. The systemic bias of the study would have supported the common trope of the promiscuous college student settling down to be a good mother, yet even in a study that is designed in their favour they fail.

It appears that the Heritage Foundation wanted to give the promiscuous every chance to succeed in their relationships.

Also keep in mind that there are two aspects to being in a stable marriage, they are forming a stable marriage and then keeping a marriage. This is why the "sexually active but in not in a relationship" group were included. The presumption here being that women between 30-45 wants to enter a stable relationship. It appears a common sense assumption and it appears from the study that the promiscuous have problems with both. Whilst the relatively chaste seem to have better prospects.

Of course there are some women who don't want to get married and who are sexually active and these are likely to skew the stats. However, despite the "Girrrl Power" idolisation of Kim Catrall, nearly all women want a "Mr Big". The number wanting otherwise is likely to be small and insignificant. The methodology of the study is sound.

Finally, on speculative note, these two graphs raise important questions:

1) Whats going on in young girls between 12 and 18?

It appears that the turnover rate seems to stabilise 19-20 age group. Does pre-marital sex before 18 cause some problem with bonding? I'm not saying it does but it would be something worth further investigating. Does a permissive adolescence impair their ability to form long term mates? I'm not making a statement here, just wondering.

Defining Slut.

The other day I was perusing the internet and ran across a post at Hooking Up Smart called, The Essential Truth of Female Promiscuity. In the post Susan Walsh quotes a study linking promiscuity with marital instability. The article she links to is actually another article quoting the study in question. After a bit of hunting around I was able to locate the actual study. The study itself called, The Harmful Effects of Early Sexual Activity and Multiple Sexual Partners Among Women by R Rector et al, 2003, and it's a real eye opener. I'm surprised more mention of it has not been made amongst the right/conserve-o-sphere. The study is based on a survey of 10,000 women done in 1995 by the Center for Diseases Control.

Men have generally viewed female promiscuity in a negative light. Admittedly whilst some men don't care, the majority view a woman's promiscuity negatively in proportion to her partner count. It's fascinating if one "Googles" the subject, just how many men--both Conservative and Liberal--can't "get over " a woman's partner count. Liberal men indoctrinated in "Girrl power" seem to be perplexed as to why these negative emotions are aroused in them despite their own beliefs.

The Evo-bio crowd will probably argue that the aversion has been developed by evolution as a mechanism to avoid cuckoldry, unfaithfulness etc. I've always had the intuition that promiscuity seemed to injure "Love" in some way, furthermore the type of men a woman slept with revealed in many ways the type of woman she is. The woman who chose patently bad suitors was a woman lacking in good judgment and refinement; the essential qualities of femininity. Lacking femininity, a woman is a turn-off.

Slut, of course, is the term applied to a promiscuous women and debates rage as to what number of partners earns the title. I think this is the wrong way of looking at the problem. The real danger of a promiscuous woman is that she will be unfaithful, so the definition should be really centered around that concept. i.e How many sexual partners does a woman need to have before she becomes high risk marriage material? The study quoted above asked the question.

Now, Stable Marriage was defined as being currently married for greater than 5 years. It's a pretty non-demanding definition of stable. Now I thought that I was quite a cynical and judgmental bastard but I never expected these figures.

The virgin bride has an 80+ percent chance of having a stable marriage. Once a woman has had more than one non-marital sexual partner the probability of her having a stable marriage drops to 54%, that's almost a 50-50 chance of divorce. The statistical threshold is crossed--in other words, your betting on failure--once a woman has had two non-marital partners. Given that the aim of the game is to avoid divorce, from a marital stability point of view, a woman becomes a slut once she has had more than two non-marital partners. It's not my opinion, it's probability.

Any man, entering marriage, has a responsibility to his children to try to attempt to ensure the woman he marries is stable marriage material. The fact is that once a woman has had two or more extra-marital partners she become statistically a bad potential mother.

Given that the average female partner count has now crept up to four, we are facing a social apocalypse.

Organic Truth.

One of the ideas that Jim Kalb puts forward to justify the epistemological validity of tradition, is because traditions are the "organic" products of society, the ideas and habits being shaped over time and modified towards a certain veracity. Ideas, practices and relationships which have stood the test of time must have something going for them if human beings have adopted them for prolonged periods. There must be some truth to them which we shouldn't ignore because these traditions aren't just "ingrained habits" rather practices which are symbiotic with the human condition and therefore true.

I think Mr Kalb is onto something here but where I think he errs is taking the existence of tradition as proof of some kind of truth.

If we take three societies, Pre-Modern Christianity, Islam, and Judaism we find that whilst all three are traditional societies, all three have different ideas on Marriage. The Christian(Catholic) tradition permits marriage but bans divorce. The Judaic, permits marriage but permits divorce and the Islamic permits multiple wives and permits divorce All three traditions have stood the test of time so I suppose that all three conceptions of marriage must be right. Or not.

Tradition here gives us no guide at all as to how to view marriage since the traditional views are competing and mutually exclusive, their only commonality being that marriage is an relationship between husband and wife. And then this comes along.

It seems tradition can't even agree to that simple proposition. Tradition then, as a sort of knowledge which is organically intertwined with the human condition seems to give conflicting views on even some of the most basic human institutions. Tradition seems to provide for multiple "truths".

One thing I do agree with Mr Kalb is that many of the traditions that have developed across the world are indeed more "human" than the modernist ideologies that wish to replace them. The fact that Islam or Hinduism have produced stable cultures that have lasted over a thousand years means that there must be something in them that doesn't rub up against human nature in such a way to assure the self destruction of these societies.

Jim Kalb got unfairly argued with in this exchange over at What's Wrong With the World. I don't think that Mr Kalb was in any way trying to defend or excuse the evils of Islam what he was trying to say that human beings have had a successful and working relationship with Islam for over a 1000 years and therefore the tradition of Islam must, at least, not be against human nature completely. I agree with Mr Kalb.

The problem is though, from a Christian perspective though, is Islam has many faults which are incompatible with Christian truth. And these faults have--like the good traditions--persisted for thousands of years. The fact that limited polygamy has existed in Islam for over a thousand years mean that polygamy is right? Or Sati?

The sad fact is that human beings can at times be a barbarous lot, barbarous for a long period of time and bad customs can become ingrained into a society. The fact that a society is able to function and thrive for a long periods of time with bad traditions does not confer onto the traditions legitimacy rather the fact is that functional societies can operate quite successfully with a certain amount of "non self-destructive evil". The fact that an evil becomes custom or tradition does not make it right. Society's do not self purify over time ,rather what seems to happen is that tend to rot in their own corruption.

Rather, what the "organic truth" model of conservatism confers is not an objecetive knowledge of right or wrong but rather a sort of moral relativism, in which right or wrong is determined relative to the customs of society: It's self-referential.

Tradition, in the end, is not about what is right or wrong, it's about what people are happy to adopt and become accustomed to, so in a sense tradition is naturally co- dependent upon a human dimension, but that human dimension is flawed in its capacity for evil. The result being that the veneration of tradition leads to the same place as modernism-- the measure is man, not right or wrong.

Theodore DeReese "Teddy" Pendergrass (March 26, 1950[1] – January 13, 2010[2]) was an American R&B/soul singer and songwriter. Pendergrass first rose to fame as lead singer of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes in the 1970s before a successful solo career at the end of the decade. In 1982, he was severely injured in an auto accident in Philadelphia, resulting in his being paralyzed from the waist down. After his injury, the affable entertainer founded the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance, a foundation that helps those with spinal cord injuries. Pendergrass commemorated 25 years of living after his spinal cord injury with star filled event, Teddy 25 - A Celebration of Life at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center. His last performance was on a PBS special at Atlantic City's Borgata Casino in November 2008.

Source: Wikipedia

this guy was the ultimate lover man. i believe he was such a lover man: he did it even if he was on a wheelchair...

Turn it on!!!!!

Police Brutality in Provincetown!

picture courtesy of http://www.city-data.com

On July 4, 2010 Jim Downs was a bystander in an unlawful arrest taking place in Provincetown MA, a place where differences of sexual orientation are celebrated, but as Downs explains, racism still seems alive and well.  Downs tells the story of an abuse of power he witnessed and his frustration in trying to take action in a town where even the local paper seems complicit in the harmdoing.  After finding no other avenue through which to speak his truth Downs turned to the Huffington Post to exhibit his moral courage and make one final attempt to reach the man unlawfully arrested. 

Full Article at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-downs/if-i-could-write-this-in_b_677864.html?ref=fb&src=sp

Thoughts on the Conservatism of Jim Kalb.

I have great respect for commentator Thursday and he has recommended that I have read of Jim Kalb's works. I'm pressed for time and have other reading to catch up with, but I've had a browse of Mr Kalb's web presence and thought I would jot down a few of my thoughts.

If I had to distill Mr Kalb's thoughts into a phrase it would have to be the "authority of tradition". Whilst Mr Kalb does seem to acknowledge that reason and "truth" have some authority, tradition should be given the greatest weighting. The reason for this (as far as I can see) is that tradition contains the accumulated wisdom of a working society, and since societies are complex, veering far from the accumulated wisdom will cause societal dysfunction. This of course assumes that the society you already have is the society you want to keep.

The other factor present in Kalb's thought(similar to Oakeshott's)is that change should be incremental. Oakeshott justifies this on the basis of the Conservative temperament, Kalb on what essentially appears to be prudential criteria.

The other idea I sense in his thoughts is that individual insights into the nature of "truth" have less a claim that of a society's pre-existing opinions: The groupthink of tradition has a greater claim that the insight of one.

Finally, while Kalb acknowledges the existence of a truth, and recognises that its universal accessibility is difficult, its claims--as a practical measure--are subordinated to the authority of tradition. In the end, an unjust working society has greater claim to legitimacy and hence obedience than a potentially just one. (which is likely to end up dysfunctional) This appears to be a pragmatic measure.

It would appear that Kalb views society almost as an organism undergoing evolution. The organism itself an evolving product of its interaction with the environment and culture in which it finds itself. Societal stability is ensured by the insistence of gradual change, the assumption being that gradual change--as opposed to rapid--ensures the survival of the societal organism. Societies which are the result of such a process can be considered traditional. Islamic, Chinese and pre-Englightment Christian could certainly be considered as such.

Kalb's rationale for his support of traditional societies seems to be explained in the following reply to a commentator over at 2Blowhards(Reply to Mr. Kinahan) :

I suppose what I'm trying to work toward, to speak very grandly, is an inclusive understanding of human reason -- the constellation of things by which we understand the world and make sensible decisions -- that takes our limitations seriously and so recognizes that there are basic truths we need but can't fully grasp and must therefore be approached from the standpoint of tradition. So my argument is not with reason in all its aspects but with the modernist project of hyperrationality. Since I reject that project I view tradition as authoritative -- as something that knows more than I do, especially about things like the nature of the good life -- and not as an interesting array of possibilities that I can choose from as I please or experts advise. That makes me a conservative.

I don't deny that one aspect of tradition can come in conflict with others and force us to choose or that there are important aspects of human reason that have considerable autonomy with respect to tradition and can lead us to modify or break with some aspects of it. The ultimate concern after all is with the good, beautiful and true rather than tradition itself. There's no formula for recognizing and dealing with such cases though and they shouldn't be taken as the models on which we form our idea of how we normally should act.

(My bolding)

Executive summary:

The traditionalist man viewed the world differently than the modern man and was able to produce stable functioning societies. Stable societies are in themselves a good and complex things in themsevles reflecting a positive intermeshing between man and the environment. Because the principles that they are run on are proven to work, they have more authority than innovations.

Tradition "works" and therefore is good, innovation is liable to be bad. Tradition therefore takes precedence. Old is most probably right, new is most probably wrong. Conservatism is then in essence a pragmatic bias for the old, tried and tested.

OK, now an intellectual experiment. Suppose liberalism is able to produce a functional society. For example, there appears to be no let up of the North Korean regime and its quite possible that that with time, Communism could become the "traditional" culture of North Korea. Would Kalb's successors in the future be arguing that North Korean society should not be changed by virtue of the argument of tradition?

Indeed conflating the old with the good is profoundly anti-Christian. The Bible is full of stories of men who attempted to change society (prophets) even in the presence of long established custom. Jesus himself came to tear down the temple and rebuild it in three days: Hardly the attitude of a man who reverenced the old.

Indeed the Christian tradition has a quite simple method of societal change. When society is wrong, it is meant to change. That of course assumes a right and wrong and Christianity has handled that as well. It is true that the truth's of Christianity have sometimes been obscure, slavery for instance was seen as acceptable for quite a long time. But the emphasis on rationality bought on by the Enlightenment, the recognition of human rights, etc lead to a cultural re-examination of the question and the traditional understanding of society was found to be wrong. Slavery was banned.

Kalb's fundamental intellectual error is in conflating the old with the good. Just because the old was better does not mean that the old is good. It would appear that Kalb spends a lot of time explaining why the old is good. I will concede to Kalb however, that the older society seemed better at producing human happiness than the modern, still there were many people in traditional society that lived miserable and diseased lives simply by virtue of the way that the society was traditionally ordered.

Modernism, like Socialism, did not arise ex niliho, it was a faulty solution to the real problems of the times. Indeed, Tradition can be rightly considered the midwife of these intellectual beasts. The traditional fixation of pre-enlightenment society gave no means for the dissipation of rapidly building societal pressures. Indeed Kalb's "gradual change" became a like a sticky pressure cooker valve, unable to dissipate the forces building within it, the pressure building up faster than it could be relived until the structure was destroyed.

As any evolutionary biologist will tell you, a creature in order to survive needs to adapt to change, if that change is rapid, a creature has to change quickly to survive. Unable to do so, it is dead.

The printing press, Protestantism, increasing wealth, the beginnings of scientific knowledge and population expansion made a relatively rapid appearance(from a cultural perspective) and unleashed forces which required societal reorganization. The Traditionalist response: That's not the way we do things, we'll get back to you. Society moved on.

Kalb however is fundamentally right in that the difference between Moderns and Conservatives is in their epistemology. Kalb likes to call the moderns hyper-rational, where as I prefer to call them "empirically limited". The conservatives felt that valid knowledge could be garnered from faith and intuition;stuff that couldn't be empirically verified. The Moderns rejected this and thus the discontinuity with the old. The Moderns adopted a different epistemology and in many instances a different metaphysic.

In my opinion Kalb is not a Conservative he is a Traditionalist. Though I think he is a better man than his reasoning( a lot of his reasoning is good). The Conservative values the Good and True above all else, the Traditionalist the old. I've endeavored not to deliberately misstate his arguments. If I have I have my apologies and am quite willing to modify my views. Thursday is right, Kalb is the modern Burke, warts and all.

Over the past several weeks we at Arise have been hearing some very disturbing stories coming out of D.H.C.D. at the Liberty St. D.T.A. office. This is the new department that handles Emergency Assistance (temporary emergency shelter for families).
2 weeks ago several families slept on the steps of D.T.A because they were turned down for E.A. A shelter worker from Holyoke had been at the D.T.A. office and saw the families who slept there. She came to Arise and asked if there was anything we could do. We sent back some information and our phone number and within an hour we were down at welfare. By now there were 8 families who had been sent packing by the woman who ran D.H.C.D. here in Springfield.This is were Arise got involved. Many of the families were not allowed to even fill out an application. We were told of a worker who took an application and then just tossed it in the trash, one family was told "there is no money for shelter because families from other states come to Mass and take all the money" another "you're lying, you aren't homeless"
After speaking with the families and telling them their rights the most important at the time was that everyone has the right to fill out an application and that if it even looked like they might be eligible then they should be placed until they were able to get all the documentation needed.

Of the 8 families 2 left in disgust without going back in, 6 families insisted on filling out an EA application and 4 were placed in temporary shelter. The last 2 families 1 was originally from Springfield but had lived in Buffalo N.Y. for several years. The father had come back to Spfld. 5 months earlier to find work and an apartment, in the mean time the Mom was not able to support their apartment and was evicted. So she came be with the father of her children because there was not enough space where Dad was staying they went to D.T.A. The other family was from Brooklyn N.Y. and fled to Spfld. because they were targeted with violence by a woman who lived in the same housing complex (NY Housing Authority & N.Y.H.A. police said there was nothing they could do and refused to move either them or the woman to another location. These 2 families refused to be intimidated. They called Arise
Both families came back to Arise, the first call I made was to Gerry McCafferty at the Springfield Office for Housing she contacted others including H.A.P. Marsha and Ramona from HAP came to our office and worked on filling out papers for what ever was available. I started calls first to W.M.L.S. and then M.L.R.I. to get the ball rolling.
The next day Friday both families were again at Arise for help and we went back into action. Amid a plethora of phone calls both families went back to D.H.C.D. and they demanded to be allowed to fill out an other application for E.A. While they were waiting for a determination letter to be issued the supervisor of D.H.C.D.were told that if they did not leave, they were waiting on the office steps, D.C.F. would be called and their kids taken away.
Long story short The Office for Housing paid to house both families at a local motel for the night and H.A.P. paid for the next night. On Friday afternoon D.H.C.D. gave both families temporary approval for Emergency Shelter but wouldn't you know it D.H.C.D. sent one family to Worcester and the other to Pittsfield, the Mom is in family shelter, the Dad was placed in a single shelter but we are working on that and working to get both families moved back to Springfield.
Placing the families 45 min. from Arise in either direction and 1 1/2 from each other, they had become each others support system, maybe D.H.C.D. was hedging their bets and thought distance would deter our efforts. I guess D.H.C.D. forgot about the modern convenience called a phone for communication and if all else fails Pony Express have this new thing called a truck.

Thanks to Marion at WMLS and Ruth at MLRI for all their work and continuing work and to The City of Springfield Office for Housing, Gerry McCafferty, Marsha and Ramona from H.A.P. for all their work helping these families.

What Conservatism Is.

From "What's Wrong With the World" by G.K. Chesterton:

Now the whole parable and purpose of these last pages, and indeed of all these pages, is this: to assert that we must instantly begin all over again, and begin at the other end. I begin with a little girl's hair. That I know is a good thing at any rate. Whatever else is evil, the pride of a good mother in the beauty of her daughter is good. It is one of those adamantine tendernesses which are the touchstones of every age and race. If other things are against it, other things must go down. If landlords and laws and sciences are against it, landlords and laws and sciences must go down. With the red hair of one she-urchin in the gutter I will set fire to all modern civilization. Because a girl should have long hair, she should have clean hair; because she should have clean hair, she should not have an unclean home: because she should not have an unclean home, she should have a free and leisured mother; because she should have a free mother, she should not have an usurious landlord; because there should not be an usurious landlord, there should be a redistribution of property; because there should be a redistribution of property, there shall be a revolution. That little urchin with the gold-red hair, whom I have just watched toddling past my house, she shall not be lopped and lamed and altered; her hair shall not be cut short like a convict's; no, all the kingdoms of the earth shall be hacked about and mutilated to suit her. She is the human and sacred image; all around her the social fabric shall sway and split and fall; the pillars of society shall be shaken, and the roofs of ages come rushing down, and not one hair of her head shall be harmed.

G.K. Chesterton was the perhaps the greatest modern apologist for Christianity. The levity of his writing frequently disguised the profundity of his thought. Chesterton realised that at the 19th Century that there were many social ills. Society at that time had serious problems which needed to be solved and traditional solutions did not work. He recognised that the "progressives" were willing to change society, but in the wrong direction, whilst the traditionalists at the time did not want to change society at all.

Chesterton recognised that before any social change should take place an understanding of life and things in general needed to be made:

Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, “Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good–” At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.

Chesterton realised we needed to understand the "truth" of the matter before we proceeded with societal change. While Chesterton respected tradition (the democracy of the dead) he respected truth more. The aim of man and society was to live "rightly" and with that implied the concept of right and wrong.

Nothing more strangely indicates an enormous and silent evil of modern society than the extraordinary use which is made nowadays of the word "orthodox." In former days the heretic was proud of not being a heretic. It was the kingdoms of the world and the police and the judges who were heretics. He was orthodox. He had no pride in having rebelled against them; they had rebelled against him. The armies with their cruel security, the kings with their cold faces, the decorous processes of State, the reasonable processes of law--all these like sheep had gone astray. The man was proud of being orthodox, was proud of being right. If he stood alone in a howling wilderness he was more than a man; he was a church. He was the centre of the universe; it was round him that the stars swung. All the tortures torn out of forgotten hells could not make him admit that he was heretical. But a few modern phrases have made him boast of it. He says, with a conscious laugh, "I suppose I am very heretical," and looks round for applause. The word "heresy" not only means no longer being wrong; it practically means being clear-headed and courageous. The word "orthodoxy" not only no longer means being right; it practically means being wrong. All this can mean one thing, and one thing only. It means that people care less for whether they are philosophically right. For obviously a man ought to confess himself crazy before he confesses himself heretical. The Bohemian, with a red tie, ought to pique himself on his orthodoxy. The dynamiter, laying a bomb, ought to feel that, whatever else he is, at least he is orthodox.

Therefore Conservatism is therefore the desire to live rightly, from which politics proceeds.
As "ought" can't be derived from is ultimately questions of right or wrong are religious questions. Therefore the Conservative view is premised on three things.

1) The belief in religion
2) The belief in right and wrong.
3) The desire to live according to those beliefs.

Over at James Kalb's there is an interesting paper up for discussion, Traditionalism and the American Order, which asserts that the American Revolution was the first Liberal Revolution and from a traditionalist view point it is. The thing about traditionalism is, that a thing is liberal relative to the traditions you want to preserve. And if you're a European Monarchist, then the revolution was decidedly liberal, on the other hand if you're a traditionalist Marxist, it was a manifestation of bourgeoisie conservatism.

Chesterton would have had none of this rubbish. For Him, the founding fathers were convinced that they were doing God's work:
The American Constitution does resemble the Spanish Inquisition in this: that it is founded on a creed. America is the only nation in the world that is founded on creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism. and it does also by inference condemn atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived. Nobody expects a modern political system to proceed logically in the application of such dogmas, and in the matter of God and Government it is naturally God whose claim is taken more lightly. The point is that there is a creed, if not about divine, at least about human things.
It satisfies the test of Conservatism. It changed the world, but it changed it rightly.