Bravery long after the fact

I would have respected Tarantino more had he made a film about real Jews who desperately fought to defend themselves against the Nazis, such as the Polish Jews in the Warsaw ghetto who were memorialized in Leon Uris’s Mila 18, rather than a film about murderous imaginary ones:

In the genre-blurring tale, Pitt plays Lieutenant Aldo Raine who heads the squad of Jewish-American soldiers behind enemy lines in German-occupied wartime France. Aldo tells his men to bring him the scalps of 100 Nazis each, and vows to terrorise the German army with the “disembowelled, dismembered and disfigured bodies we leave behind us.”

His new movie is nothing more than revenge porn for Hollywood Jews and it’s only going to underline whatever feelings of psychological inadequacy they have for the general failure of European Jewry to defend itself during the 1940s. It also serves to underline the idea that a Jewish-American is not a true American, for what American soldier behaved like the bestial Jews of the movie even in the less-civilized battles of the Pacific theatre? There has been no shortage of actual Jewish heroism during the Arab-Israeli Wars, so pretending that nonexistent Jews murdered nonexistent Nazis 65 years ago isn’t going to make up for the fact that with a few noble exceptions, they died like sheep, not wolves. As it stands, this “Jewish revenge fantasy” is only going to feed into global anti-semitism, particularly in the Middle East. I have no doubt that we’ll soon be hearing Gaza and the West Bank being portrayed as similar “Jewish revenge”.

Worst of all, the movie is a horrific insult to the American military, which did not behave like the Red Army or the Japanese Imperial Army in victory. Incidentally, it’s also a historically illiterate insult to the German army, which banned membership in the Nazi party and was not one of the organizations tasked with killing Jews. (The German armed forces’ ban on party membership was one reason why Hitler set up the 38-division Nazi Party army known as the Waffen SS.) I despise Hollywood’s predilection for historical revisionism in general, but this movie is an unusually outrageous insult to the Americans who fought in Europe. Even on the very rare occasions when they lost military discipline, such as when the 3rd Battalion of the 157th Infantry Regiment entered Dachau and murdered 480 captured Waffen SS troops, most of them wounded combat soldiers, under the erroneous assumption that they were Totenkopfverbände-SS concentration camp guards, they merely lined them up and shot them. They did not commit brutal atrocities, much less indiscriminately murder and mutilate German women and children like Tarantino’s Jewish “heroes”.

PUOSU #2: Calvinism

Markku and wrf present the detailed and nicely formatted “Christian’s Guide to the Absolute Truth of Calvinism“. As before, this presentation reflects the authors’ beliefs, not mine. Below is merely a sample; for the entire 15-page PDF, click on the link above.

I do not ascribe any particular authority to Jean Calvin, and I would be quite comfortable in rejecting any other doctrines apart from these five that he might hold. Especially the ones about the utility of the state in persecuting those who disagree with you. It is purely incidental that he was the first person to identify these five dogmas as a particular doctrine. Calvin certainly was not the first one in history to state some of the dogmas. Ignatius, in the first century, wrote:

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Ephesus, in Asia, deservedly most happy, being blessed in the greatness and fulness of God the Father, and predestined before the beginning of time, that it should be always for an enduring and unchangeable glory, being united and elected through the true passion by the will of the Father, and Jesus Christ, our God: Abundant happiness through Jesus Christ, and His undefiled grace.

Likewise, Ireaneus wrote in the second century:

But He Himself in Himself, after a fashion which we can neither describe nor conceive, predestinating all things, formed them as He pleased, bestowing harmony on all things, and assigning them their own place, and the beginning of their creation.

Emphasis is mine in both quotes. The latter quote goes further than I would, but I mean it to demonstrate that even full predestination is a very old doctrine. I will argue based on the assumption that all statements in the Bible, interpreted the way the author intended, are true. If this is not your view, then this essay is not intended to be applicable for you. Except possibly as a response to the question, if what the Bible says were true, then how should it be interpreted with regards to salvation. If the plain reading of a passage, taken in its context (including other relevant passages elsewhere in the Bible), feels uncomfortable, then that is not adequate grounds to reject the plain reading. It must be rejected on Biblical grounds. Merely the fact that God is loving, is not good enough. It would beg the question, what love should look like in those circumstances. The disciples had hard time accepting some of the things Jesus said, so why shouldn’t we?

This should make for a nice prelude to the upcoming Omniderigent vs Aprevistan debate between The Responsible Puppet and me, although the final conclusion leaves no doubt whose side the authors are supporting:

“I simply cannot see Arminianism as anything but an effort to deny the plain meaning of Scriptures because one does not like it.”

Mailvox: learning Austrian economics

SS writes of his newfound interest in it:

I started reading your blog about 6 months ago and found your comments on religion, evolution, feminism, literature, and economics to be interesting and thought-provoking. While I disagree with your views on religion- I am an atheist, although I fully agree with your argument that the so-called “New Atheists” are actually just as unreasonable and ideologically driven as those they seek to criticise- I believe that your arguments are worthwhile and useful as a “reality check” for we non-believers.

My reason for writing today is related to your views on economics. I have been sceptical of Keynesian economics ever since I went to university (at the LSE, no less- one of the chief incubators of both Keynesian and Austrian thinking), and my move to America for graduate school, along with recent events, have only contributed to my growing distrust and dislike of an over-mighty and overly large public sector. After doing some reading, it appears to me that only Austrian economics seems capable of predicting, understanding, and- crucially- solving financial crises, panics, manias, and bubbles. As such, I would like to explore a more rigourous and thorough analysis of Austrian economic theory. Therefore, would you be able to recommend a list of 5-10 books that you believe all prospective Austrian economists should read? The universe of Austrian economic literature is vast; a starting point would be useful.

I have given this matter some thought in the past, which is some of the books I recommend can already be found on the right sidebar. Begin with An Introduction to Austrian Economics by Thomas Taylor. It’s short, simple, and covers the basics. I would next read America’s Great Depression by Murray Rothbard, because Rothbard not only provides another brief explanation of many of the important concepts, but goes on to show how those concepts apply in a practical manner to a historical situation. I would then turn to The Failure of the New Economics by Henry Hazlitt, as this will then allow a comparison of the Neo-Keynesian doctrine one has been taught at university with actual Keynesian theory and a detailed critique of that theory. For fun, you may then wish to turn to Paul Krugman’s “critique” of Austrian theory and my response to it. Only at that point would I consider attempting Mises’s Human Action. If you wish to get hard core and go back to the origins, the The Positive Theory of Capital by Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk and The Principles of Economics by Carl Menger are more accessible than you would assume, particularly Menger. And finally, since you’re an atheist, Michael Shermer’s The Mind of the Market would probably make for an interesting opportunity to apply what you learn from the previous books as it’s based on Shermer’s attempt to connect Austrian economics and evolutionary theory. I’m reading it right now, and while it’s on the relatively lightweight side, full of the sort of anecdotal tangents now considered de rigueur for pop social science, it’s both entertaining and thought-provoking.

While it’s a bit premature to go into the details, I don’t believe it will surprise too many regulars to learn that, in October, there will be one more book of possible interest for those wishing to learn more about Austrian School theory and its application to the global economy.