Wednesday, August 09, 2023

The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Terrible, Wonderful, Righteous Things

Seventy-eight years ago today, the Japanese Empire was finally defeated.  It took over four and a half years of bloody fighting and the ferocious bombing of Japanese cities with incendiaries and atomic bombs to beat them into surrender.  It is a great thing that the Japanese Empire was crushed.  It was a remarkably brutal regime and had the support of most of its people.  It was totalitarian, racist, and out to subjugate Asia.  "We" at Unforeseen Contingencies celebrate Hiroshima Day (August 6) and Nagasaki Day (August 9).  They were triumphs for civilization.

It's a dark and terrible thing that it required such force to end Japan's resistance.  One account, by an American historian who had access to records of Hirohito's cabinet, shows how Hiroshima was not sufficient.  And even after Nagasaki some in the cabinet desired to press on with their suicidal war.  Hirohito himself finally resolved the debate by accepting surrender.  

Some people today are squeamish, or posture with false moralism, and whine about the supposed crime of using atomic weapons on Japan.  This is a reprehensible, shameful position.  The sooner the war was brought to an end with the defeat of Japan, the better.  The death count for Chinese people from the start of the war for them (the 1937 Lukouqiao Incident) until the end was 15-20 million military and civilian dead from Japanese violence and starvation.  Using the lower bound of the estimate, that means the Japanese were killing on average 5,100 Chinese every day of the war.  The massacre of Nanjing, documented so well in Iris Chang's horrific The Rape of Nanking, was reported in Japan regularly as it went on, as if it was some sort of sporting competition, with officers piling up civilian body counts.  (Chang documents this.)   Unit 731 in Manchuria was a Japanese medical experimentation center that murdered at least 200,000 people in gruesome experiments that rivaled and exceeded those of Joseph Mengele.  I had the opportunity to meet an American M.D. and his wife, a nurse, who were Lutheran missionaries in New Guinea prior to the Japanese invasion.  The Japanese captured them, tortured them, starved them, and kept them prisoners until finally defeated.

American casualties in an invasion of the Japanese islands were expected to be 1,000,000.  My father was a U.S. Navy pilot.  He and his unit were training in Florida, and had just received orders to begin packing for Japan when news of Hiroshima and Nagasaki arrived.  My Aunt Johane, a U.S. Army nurse officer, and her fiancé, my Uncle Tuck, a U.S. Army engineer, were in Germany and had just received orders to prepare for Japan.  Several of my other uncles were also gearing up (all but one who had already been murdered by the SS while arranging surrender of a German division).  None of them were sent; the invasion was rendered unnecessary.  Japan was defeated.

All of my relatives I ever asked were grateful for the atomic bombs that brought that evil regime to its senses and ended the war and preserved their lives.  It's possible that I would never have existed had my father gone into combat in Japan.  All the evils perpetrated by the Japanese regime and its people were brought to a stop.  The Brauns and many other prisoners were liberated.  Nuclear weapons brought the war to a quick end.  I can safely say that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were terrible, wonderful, righteous things.

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

On the Importance of Jefferson's "Declaration"

 Unforeseen Contingencies -- like Ukraine, not dead yet!

Happy American Independence Day to all!  Two hundred forty seven years ago Americans declared their independence from Britain and King George's government.  The idea of people declaring their independence from a government was something radical, and it remains so today.  For centuries, the received view was the one Plato described in Republic: an elite of "experts" will run everything for the supposedly unenlightened rest of us, including every aspect of our lives.  Supposedly it's for our own good; that's the thin disguise used to clothe the otherwise naked lust for power.  People are means to the government, which pursues the end of the "good society," which really means the ends of those who control the government.

The Declaration of Independence expresses an entirely different view of society and government.  Government is a mere means to the ends of people.  People have various goals and interests.  They have a common interest in holding society together in order to pursue these.  "Holding society together" means stopping predation, i.e. protecting the rights of people to freedom of action, the right of each to control his or her own life.  That's it.  If government fails in this, and worse, if it becomes the threat to their rights, people have the right to get rid of it and set up an entirely new system to protect rights.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

This is not the fake radicalism of leftists with their beer hall putsches, bolshevik revolutions, fabianism, "progressivism" and "New Deals," "Great Societies," "hope and fundamental changes," or "Great Resets," all of which are designed to restore power to self-described "guardians" who know better than us how our lives should be run.  This is the true radicalism of protecting the right of of every individual to run his or her own life.

We are not the means to others' ends.  And we have the right and duty to insist on that, by force if necessary.  Caesar had his Brutus; Charles the first, his Cromwell; George the Third, his Jefferson, and today's opponents of individual liberty...may profit by their example.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Libertarianism: A *Political* Philosophy

 Unforeseen Contingencies is back in action!  I've been remarkably busy with too many other things, hence the hiatus.  My online commentary has been limited to comments on Ace of Spades HQ, Powerline, FEE, and Babylon Bee, often under nomes d'internet.  Time to rectify that.

In a recent conversation, it came up that a fairly well-known libertarian writer had effectively argued that true freedom means one is unrestrained in exercising one's will, except to the extent that one leaves others similarly free, and therefore the extent of morals is this libertarian ethic.  If something is freely chosen and violates one else's rights, it is therefore good.  It's the "and therefore" that's the rub.

Freedom can only make sense in a social context, and it indeed does mean one is unrestrained in exercising one's will except as required by the co-equal rights of others to the same.  But the "and therefore" is an unwarranted leap.  It is immoral to violate rights.  It does not follow that everything that does not violate rights is moral.  Libertarianism is a political philosophy, it concerns relations among individuals, and only a subset of these.  It does not address what sorts of things are proper and improper, good and bad, moral and immoral, concerning personal behavior that does not directly affect others, nor is it an exhaustive code of conduct for interpersonal relations.  One can exercise one's will freely, not violate anyone's rights, and still be immoral.

At one time libertarians (classical liberals) understood this.  "Vices are not crimes," as Lysander Spooner put it.  Libertarians understood that just because something was immoral it did not follow that it should be illegal.  Dishonesty, rudeness, carelessness, sin, blasphemy, bad manners, unwarranted hatred, taking advantage of the naïve, alcoholism and drug abuse, promiscuity... some immoral things are not police matters.  And if we recognize that some immoral things are not justifiably addressed by force, then libertarians must recognize libertarianism is not a complete moral system... because it is not supposed to be.

Libertarianism is a political philosophy.  That's all, and that's sufficient.

Wednesday, November 09, 2022


 Pakistan beats New Zealand in World Cup Cricket.

I do not understand cricket (My knowledge is almost entirely derived from Lagaan) but I gather this is a big deal.  It even exceeds America's elections (yesterday) in importance.  

New Zealand only scored 152-4 with 20 overs against Pakistan's 153-3 with 19.1 overs.  I don't understand a score that requires three different metrics, but the numbers are close so I imagine this was very exciting to people who understand what is going on.

Cricket is a perfect metaphor for America's elections.  Hardly anyone (perhaps no one) understands what is really going on, but we can see it all is sufficiently close that it's exciting.  Last night I spoke on WRFH radio about the election returns and what they mean.  The returns are close, but how to interpret?  The people have spoken?  Everyone is confused?  Cheating?  

My primary point in the radio interview was that battles over the institutional framework are far more important than these elections.  My two examples were control over the teacher training in schools of higher ed and the role of the federal bureaucracy in making law.  Teacher training was first taken over by Progressives in the the early 1900s, and subsequently by cultural Marxists.  As a result, the government education system is populated by leftists.  Meanwhile, the unelected and largely unchecked federal bureaucracy makes most of our laws via regulation.

Electing new officials solves this iff they are willing to fight these things to the death.  In general, that does not describe Republicans (nor Democrats).  It makes a difference which party wins, because they do legislate, but the big picture is elsewhere.  It's like cricket, maybe - it is part of the score, but it's probably the overs or the unders or the wickets or something...not the main part of the score.  

And regardless, the only political value that matters is liberty, and that is ultimately up to us individuals and no one else.

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Democrats Go Totalitarian!

I missed blogging on Joe Biden's* infamous Philadelphia speech, in which he declared half of the American public fascists, just as I'll miss his DC speech tonight. The man is clearly suffering from dementia, and whatever it is they pump into him for these appearances seems to enrage him, although a friend of mine says demonic possession ought not be ruled out. (Frankly, I'm not sure there's any  fundamental difference, from the country's perspective.) Besides, we already know what this staged event is about; the above Washington Post "breaking news" headline tells us what we are supposed to "think." An insane drug-abusing nudist-activist leftist either broke into or was invited into the Pelosi household hit and Paul Pelosi with a hammer while police officers watched, and therefore all of us who point to all the evidence that the 2020 election involved substantial cheating are "threats to democracy and safety."

Meanwhile, it's now clear that the federal government has worked closely with social media companies to suppress ideas, facts, and viewpoints that the federal administrative state, Democrats, and leftists in general do not like.  The FBI is making political arrests of conservatives, and harassing and threatening people such as  Donald Trump and Mike Lindell, and "disappeared" at least one less high profile person.

So... a party with executive power that controls the bureaucracy, demonization of all who dissent from the party line as literal enemies, suppression and censorship, a proto-KGB... we do seem to have the early stages of Soviet-style governance developing.  These sorts of things are foreign to most Americans' experiences, and it is hard for people to wrap their heads around unless they experience it directly.  But it is remarkably dangerous and unchecked it leads to totalitarianism.  And like the Soviet Union, we are also on the path to economic disaster, by committing to serious energy shortages, fiscal insanity, and monetary chaos.  Oil and gas investment is nearly zero, interest payments on the federal debt are on track to surpass defense spending this year, and the Federal Reserve is now taking losses, a rare thing, and prospects for reversing that are poor.  Welcome to the USSR.

I have no predictions for the upcoming elections.  It certainly appears that the Democrats are on track for a crushing electoral defeat (good grief, they are so desperate they are running a brain-damaged man for Senate in Pennsylvania!) but then there's the astonishing lack of security and control over ballots and vote tabulation that we now have.  Things that are now considered "best practices" by Democrats -- no ID, mass mailings of unsecured ballots, vote harvesting, acceptance of cast ballots that arrive after the election is over, etc. -- were the kinds of things that would be obvious attempts to cheat for anyone serious about an honest election... and would be violations of law under the training I received and oath I took as an Election Judge.

If the Republicans take both houses of Congress, I'm not sure I expect much.  I'm not sure whether enough of them have awakened to the danger we face.  The last time the Republican Party held both houses, they also held the Presidency, and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell made sure they didn't do much of anything, other than block President Trump.  With Brandon in the White House, they have a ready-made excuse to accomplish nothing.  It would still be desirable since the it would block the Democrat Party from passing terrible laws, it won't reverse our headlong charge toward totalitarianism, just slow it.  And left won't sit by, but will raise hell and plot revenge for when they return to power.  That's one possibility.

A better outcome would be that Republicans begin by impeaching and convicting as many administration officials as they can, including Brandon himself.   They had better understand we are in a fight for our lives and liberty, and if we lose, we lose them.

* He wasn't really elected and he's not the real President.

Thursday, October 27, 2022


Thursday, September 01, 2022

Mikhail Gorbachev - "Out, damn spot!"

The last Soviet dictator has died.

In the West there's been a certain amount of lamenting his demise. I haven't followed developments in Russia but I'm guessing there's a lot less Gorbachev nostalgia there. Frankly, it's hard for me to think a well-informed person would think he was some sort of great man who should be mourned, regardless of one's values. He was a failure... by his own standards, by Western (classical) liberal standards, and by Soviet standards. He was a dictator and a thug... sure, much less thuggish than the other Soviet dictators, but being "not quite as evil" is not exactly a virtue.

I'm surprised at some of the reactions I've seen from people who should know better.  There's a silly and somewhat shameful piece on the usually sensible Powerline blog, with the usually sensible John Hinderaker lamenting his passing.  I object in several places in the comments, but like a fool billygoat I used a nom de web.  One would have to know a bit of Russian to ferret out these comments.

My friend Jane Shaw also disappointed with a piece on her usually good "Jane Takes on History" blog.  "Was Mikhail Gorbachev a Hero? Yes."

No!  He was an unrepentant communist dictator!  I left a number of comments on the blog, rebutting Jane and the usually superb Constitutional law expert Rob Natelson.  What are they thinking?

I can only think that these people are simply lamenting a fictional image created by Western media.  People of the former USSR, ranging from Soviet apologists to anti-Soviet liberals and nationalists, have nothing but contempt for this defunct man.  He was anti-liberal, pro-communist, a murderer, and an incompetent by everyone's standards.  He was simply a failure, the last failed leader of a failed system and a failed empire... 

The Kyiv Post published the best analysis of him that I've seen.  It's really worth your time.

Mikhail Gorbachev -- "Spot," -- good riddance!

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