Pursuit of Percipience

the blog that nobody reads which I write to silence the voices in my head

Tag: economics

Informalities and Frivolties

My dad used Old Spice. He also grew up in WW2 Germany and emigrated to Canada alone when he was sixteen. He started up his own business after dropping out of high school, got married, and had kids.

He grew up in a time when the formal and the informal had their proper places. The informal stems from the formal, and the formal is foundational. We don’t always want to live in formal mode — life would be too serious then. We want to be able to lighten things up a bit in our day to day lives. I don’t want to call my dad “father” all the time; I want to call him dad or papa most of the time. However, my ability to call my dad “dad” rests on the fact that first I call him “father”.

These days in the west, informality, and thus frivolity, have taken over. The foundation of the formal is crumbling and no one takes life seriously enough. (No one, that is, except the revolutionaries we see yelling and screaming at the universities. But they too have no formal foundation to build upon.) Even a product like Old Spice has to embrace the shallow video game culture in order to sell….

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Old Spice deodorant

I suppose the West will have to create a new formal foundation before it can mature to its next stage of development.

Further reading: Fatherlessness and the Rise of the Shaving Industry

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The Age of Empires

empire

The Fate of Empires written in 1978 by Sir John Glubb (1897-1986) is an illuminating essay on the life cycle of empires, which turn out to be very much the same for different empires around the world and through the centuries.

You can read the essay for yourself here, and I highly recommend that you do. But in this article I will try to give you a brief overview of what Glubb writes.

First, Glubb argues that the life span of empires tend to be the same: about 250 years, or ten generations (if a generation is considered to be 25 years)….

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Each empire seems to progress through four main stages: 1) The Age of Outburst/Pioneering/Conquest; 2) The Age of Affluence; 3) The Age of Intellect; 4) The Age of Decadence.*

First, in the Age of Outburst, often a group of hard working, aggressive people, who are not in any strong position of power already, rise up and take control. Perhaps they move in and take the power over from an older empire which is far along into its decadence stage, or perhaps they move in on a less developed culture and dominate it. This age is characterized by exploring men with fearless initiative and military conquest of older orders.

Second, there is commercial expansion ushering in the Age of Affluence. With one power controlling many sections of land comes ease of travel, common currency, common language, law and order — all of which allow people to trade extensively. If the empire is large, it will cover several different cultures in different climates making available many various goods to consumers all over the empire. Great wealth grows during this age.

Third is the Age of Intellect. With affluence comes a decline in “courage, enterprise, and a sense of duty … [and] the first direction in which wealth injures the nation is a moral one.” (Glubb) The general outlook of the citizens of the empire move from one of service to one of selfishness. While the Age of Intellect creates advances in science and technology, and while it also creates a culture of reason, debate, and argument, it also leads to division in the empire as the common good obvious in the previous ages becomes muddied in the endless chatter of the intellectuals. While the problems created by the selfish culture can only be solved by renewed selfless service, the intellectuals believe they can solve the problems with their new ideas. It doesn’t work and the culture weakens and loses self-esteem.

When the system holding the empire begins to degrade, the empire enters its final stage: Decadence. The people have lost sight of why the empire should even exist and have little to no desire to preserve it. Glubb gives some signs which show an empire has entered this last stage: civil dissension, an influx of foreigners (who do not conform to the host culture), frivolity, a decline in religious belief and morals, and a welfare state. The heroes of the first ages of the empire, warriors and leaders, are replaced by pop-stars and celebrity chefs. Glubb also points out that in the age of decline more and more women want to enter into positions of power previously only held by men. He doesn’t go into why, but it is interesting to point out. (A confusion of gender seems to be a factor in the Decadence stage.)

Glubb asks the important question: Can we learn from history? His answer is yes, if we actually study it — if we actually study world history instead of only our own empire’s history. Only when we learn to prevent the Age of Decadence by not becoming selfish and lazy in the Age of Affluence can we hope to break through the continuing fate of empires.

Further reading…

First Things: Camille Paglia’s Teaching

The Case Against Western Civilization by James B. Jordan

You can also watch a fairly lengthy video on the fall of the Roman Empire by Stefan Molyneux here.

I also highly recommend James B. Jordan’s book Crisis, Opportunity, and the Christian Future

*Glubb divides the life span of the empire into six stages: 1) Pioneers; 2) Conquest; 3) Commerce; 4) Affluence; 5) Intellect; 6) Decadence. I’ve compressed it to four for the sake of simplicity.

Thomas Sowell Quotes #10

“History can be cruel to theories, as it has been cruel to peoples … But history is what happened, not what we wish had happened, or what a theory says should have happened. History cannot be prettified in the interests of promoting ‘acceptance’ or ‘mutual respect’ among peoples and cultures. There is much in the history of every people that does not deserve respect. Whether with individuals or with groups, respect is something earned, not a door prize handed out to all. It cannot be prescribed by third parties, for what is to be respected depends on each individual’s own values or the social values accepted by that individual–and ‘equal respect’ is an internally contradictory evasion. If everything is respected equally, then the term respect has lost its meaning.”

~from the Preface of Migrations and Cultures: A World View

Nolan Charts

These charts are from Wikipedia. I’m posting them here for quick reference in the future.

Nolan Chart

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Nolan Chart 003

Propaganda (Brief Book Review)

propaganda

“Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group”
~Edward Bernays

I recently finished reading Propaganda by Edward Bernays. It’s a short book written in the late 1920s describing the methods used by anyone who wishes to push their ideas and agenda onto a large group of people. The methods described in the book are still in use today.

Propaganda is a neutral term; it is neither good nor evil in and of itself. It can be used for good and used for evil, but mostly it is a vessel used to push an idea.

If I were a newsman who recently read a report done by some major university on the annual financial earnings of men and women and wanted to do a story on it, I could choose a couple of different ways to present the report. If I have no agenda but to present the report to the public for their own scrutiny, my headline would look something like: New Report on the Financial Income of Men and Women Released by U of T. However, if I’m a feminist, and do have a strong agenda, and I see in the report that men, due to more frequently working full time, putting in more overtime, and taking jobs in higher paying fields, are earning more money on an annual basis than women, I can use that information to push my agenda, and my headline would look more like this: Women Only Make Seventy Cents for Every Dollar a Man Makes New Study Shows. And that headline would be propaganda. It’s not an outright lie; it’s just that I am presenting the information to the reader so as to sway his or her opinion toward my agenda (which, for the feminist, is to convince the public that women are oppressed by men).

propSo, even though propaganda is neutral (and should not be mistaken with opinion writing), I would argue that it will most often lean towards dishonesty as the presenter of the propaganda is most likely not being sincere in his or her propagation of the information, even when the cause behind the propaganda is a good one.

I gave the book 3/5 stars.