Tag Archives: television

Should Women Have the Right to Vote? For and Against

Of course Women should have the vote, it’s absurd to even discuss the point because woman’s consciousness is not that far removed from men’s. Women are capable of having Property Rights, just like men, and are therefore liable to receive all the Inalienable Rights enumerated by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. Women are often far more intelligent that most men, and some of them seem to be able to run huge bureaucracies, like hospitals and libraries, with the efficiency that is presumably a characteristic of men.

However, I recall what my late neighbor, who was a Bluedog Democrat, used to say about women. He half-jokingly felt that America had been pretty much ruined when women were given the vote. And while I scoffed at his notion good-humordly, I thought there might be a seed of truth in his half-serious dogmatism.

(All this presupposes a certain belief in the general psychological differences that seem to characterize each sex differently, and while as we say this is only on a percentage basis of the general population, and without precluding the fact that there will be many women with many masculine characteristics, and many men with many feminine characteristics. However, we maintain and believe that there is more psychological similarity between a woman in Japan, in Uganda, and in Finland, than there is similarity between that woman and a man of her own country and ethnicity. The fact that men are generally more violent is one of those examples of a psychological difference between the sexes, and this fact is borne out by fact that the murder rate among Lesbian couples is far lower than among gay men. But the general tendency does not preclude the possibility of non-violent men or violent women.)

For I had thought in the past that women were more likely to vote socialist, or vote for government socialist programs, because they are (or were) the more sensitive sex, viewing the preservation of life and the amelioration of the social evils of the past as more important than economics. (However, such programs would eventually lead to deficits so high that the currency would be undermined, leading to inflation and social chaos, thus precipitating violence in society. Thus implementing these programs would eventually lead to Fascism, which is why Libertarians consider them so dangerous and socially destabilizing, and why they regard Socialism as so dangerous to the general peace of society).

And also women would tend to vote socialist because women tend to be in general less intellectually interested in economics and other intellectual fields than men. This is a huge generalization, because one finds many intellectual women, and many women who are far better money managers and capitalists than many or most men. But in this non-intellectual age of no reading, most modern men aren’t far behind the non-intellectual woman. Not that there is anything virtuous about intellectualism. But occasionally it can be interesting to sink your mental teeth into an essay, or the writings of philosophers like Schopenhauer, Sartre, and Camus, or Rothbard on economics, or Lord Bertrand Russell and Lord Acton on government. Or reading some meticulously-crafted fiction, like Joseph Conrad or Robert Louis Stevenson, or the intellectual novels of Alberto Moravia, which combine psychological dissection of the protagonist and main characters interlarded with a very interesting plot. I thought Alberto Moravia was the greatest novelist I’d ever read, and still think so, and told him that once at a public speech of his at a university. (Moravia wrote from 9-12am every day, and said he never gave a thought to his fiction outside of those hours. He was also a great short story writer, which is unusual, because writers are usually either great novelists or great short story writers, but rarely masters of both. Some great films have also been made from Moravia’s novels, such as The Conformist, directed by Bertolucci, and Two Women, with Sophia Loren, another Masterpiece. Moravia, like Bertrand Russell, was also a Libertarian Radical when it came to opposing all forms of censorship.)

Very few Americans, men or women, now have this intellectual addiction to mental chewing-tobacco, probably because of their addiction to the Visual Media. It is as if Cinema retained its mechanical ability to mesmerize, but after completely losing the profundity of theme that characterized even the American Cinema. We used to think American films were corny in comparison to the black and white films of the 1960s made by the new wave of French, British, and Italian directors. But now we see how great many of those American films of the 50s and 60s were in comparison to modern films. Those films were made for adults, but the modern film gears for the 14-year old boy who likes science fiction computer games.

No one can now make films like were made in the 1960s: films like Hud, the Garment Jungle, Hombre,  12 Angry Men, or The Getaway, or films that have a psychological profundity and reflect the intensity of an auteur director, the director as a strong personality, like Michelangelo Antonioni. Federico Fellini had a similar intensity, but with a humor and fun which was totality lacking in the cold world of Antonioni, or the miserable world of a child as in Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. Even when reflecting on his childhood under Fascist Italy, Fellini is full of fun in his telling of the story. You can’t imagine Antonioni or Robert Bresson ever laughing like Fellini. Bresson’s The Diary of a Country Priest is such a joyless bummer, it’s a masterpiece. No laughter there.

But with all these directors, not forgetting Ingmar Bergman, who has to be added to Antonioni and Fellini in terms of self-authorship and being near the top in the Art of Cinema, and even with the weird experimental directors like Godard, i.e. “Le Weekend”, you felt a sense of both individuality, and a philosophical exploration of some important facet of mankind’s universal life situations. Such profundity seems to have completely evaporated from Cinema into nothingness.

I put it down to the watching of television and tv commercials, which probably destroys a good part of the brain, although watching occasionally when you really have the urge to watch a film is no sin, and may actually be good for the brain if you enjoy it. (However, one should never watch or listen to a commercial on tv or the internet. Mute the sound immediately, block the screen with your hand, and skip to the video at the first possible moment.)

But starting really with the beginnings of television, and well established in the late 60s and 70s, the television took over the life of tens of millions of Americans, and such excessive viewing of images might, or must, have a deleterious effect on the human brain. The brain goes into a flabby, receptive mode, for hours, with no originality stemming from the viewer except to passively cooperate with the image on the screen by giving all their attention to it. If the story was good, profound, engrossing, or a Hitchcock, it wasn’t hard to do. But in a film like Antonioni’s The Red Desert, Il Deserto Rosso, it was necessary to exercise patience to stay with the film, although Antonioni intrigued the viewer, like Bergman, with the most incredible, beautiful shots, and cinematic juxtapositions, as when Richard Harris in the Red Desert is seen talking to some workers at a plant, and then is seen from above and in the distance, in relation to a giant piece of machinery which suddenly emits a vast cloud of loud steam. Harris so small, this vast piece of machinery so huge, dominating puny Man, who is like an ant in the face to such massive, complex, technology. Or the telephoto shots at the beginning of the film of huge factory chimneys belching forth toxic yellow smoke. And later in the film, Antonioni gliding the camera around the room’s wall while his characters converse, or the way he’d leave the camera on the scene for long seconds after his main characters had walked out of it, making you aware of the existence of objects around us, long after we’ve left them, and existing eternally on their own in silence. No other filmmaker seemed to have ever thought of such shots, or used them to deepen the mystery of the film. Or added an ending to a story like the last eight minutes of “Eclipse”, a sequence of incredible poetry and beauty, added after an intense interaction of the viewer for over an hour with the main characters, and which has no obvious direct connection to them. Seeing Antonioni’s L’Avventura and The Red Desert are musts.

So maybe television is why the movies have been so trivial for so long, compared to the masterpieces of the 50s, 60s, and even the 70s, as the Cinema began to degenerate, — that Liveliest Art that the cavemen wouldn’t have believed could be the ultimate refinement of their paintings on the walls of caves, and their petroglyphs of the American and Australian Deserts. Blame tv.

And what this all shows is that the Judaic and Islamic prohibitions against image-making are based on that primitive wisdom that image would easily take over the mind of man if it became worshiped, and that the image, like the word, is not the thing, but rather a mental illusion of thought. And the Buddhists too aim for the eliminating of all psychological images.  They all saw the danger of forming images in your mind, which are always based on the past, your past experiences. Thus, the past ends up clouding the present, and you will look at someone with your image of them based on the past, instead of seeing them in the instant now. Television, and its successor, the computer, have taken over the minds of younger Americans, because it took over their parent’s minds a generation before. And it is not only Americans, because the whole world unfortunately has been taken over by the American culture, or rather the degeneration of that culture that began in the 70s with Nixon-Carter. You can see it in the appalling sameness of dress among all people, all over the world, while not long ago each nation had a particular way of dressing that was characteristic, be it the French beret, the Englishman’s suit and tie, or the Japanese kimono or Indian Sari. Now, everybody looks like Walmart.

It is also interesting to note that these two iconoclastic organized religions, Judaism and Islam, both forbid tatooing, which is such a prominent feature of the younger generation in both  America and Europe. Obviously, such a prohibition is based on both religion’s horror of image-making, turning the human being into a picture, that human being who is supposed to give his entire worship to God, and not to any image or graven image, and who is made in God’s image. Turning the human body of someone made in the image of that God, which is an undefinable changeless process, into an fixed image, which defies the insights of these religions into the dangers of image-making, make the tatoo prohibitions completely understandable. Additionally, because of the unnecessary pain the mind is causing the body during tatooing, this torturing of the body for unnecessary reasons is considered sinful in both religions, again acknowledging the sacred nature of the human body. As an Indian non-ascetic said, the body is not a slave to be exploited by the desires of the mind, which is very similar to these religion’s views of the unnecessary suffering caused by a whim of the mind. Similarly, the use of highly deleterious drugs like tobacco, alcohol, and hard narcotics like cocaine, and the addictive opiods of the morphine family, as well as speeds and barbituates, are all looked down on as ruiners of the health of the body, while light use of caffeine in tea and coffee is tolerated, as well as the occasional glass of liquor to the non-alcoholic infrequent drinker in non-Islamic cultures, who has never been seen drunk. Or, in Islam, the frequent and sometimes vociferous debate over whether cannabis was an intoxicant that was sinful idol worship, while the other side felt it was nowhere near as bad as alcohol, and didn’t really fit into the definition of forbidden intoxication, and was also a probable prophylactic against the use of alcohol, given the hardness of life for the typical Middle Eastern Muslim in the days before technology. After reading a scholarly book in the 70s on this debate over the years on views on cannabis in Islam, of various notable Islamic thinkers throughout history, it seemed clear to me that there was a general tolerance of cannabis among many scholars, but still with a sizable minority feeling that it was forbidden. And stimulants, whether the horrendous effects of amphetamine and meth amphetamine on people, or merely the irritability of the heavy coffee drinker, are obviously to be avoided. But can you deny a morning cup of tea to the coal miner or the factory worker, or the invalid confined to one room? Such extremism imposed on others would be most unfair, as much as we might feel for ourselves that total sobriety is demanded of us by God or by our religion? One of the characteristics of Communism is its forcing of all members of the Community to live according to its standards. And that applies to religious communists too, who want to impose their religious views on the entire society. Of course, there are always Common Law rules that any sane human accepts, like prohibiting child or human sacrifice or theft. Just because you say your religion permits something, it shouldn’t mean that it contradicts Common Law, which is fairly self-evident to all. Murder, theft, rapine, and contractual fraud are all Crimes which the vast majority of Humans would object to, and they recognize the immorality of those Crimes because of their consciences. You might say the Ten Commandments are more like Laws of Human Consciousness which are common to all Humans on Earth, and Common Law is pretty similar. I believe the Anglo Saxons in England, in the 5- and 6-hundreds, had no Government, but they had Common Law and courts, and agreed to proposals fairly democratically in terms of talking the issues over together at meetings and coming to a consensus on laws and decisions without Government. But i’m not an expert on their history; I’ve merely read something to that effect. It sounds like they were better off than when they were invaded by the Normans, a virtual occupation of Britain by the French for so long that the two cultures admixed and melded together, providing an enriched language, and a rich culture, at least in literature. The architecture was interesting too, and it’s obvious that Planet Earth was meant to be covered with structures built in the Gothic Style of Architecture, the most amazing to the eye, mixed in with lots of trees and greenery. The attendees of Oxford and Cambridge were indeed fortunate to have their eyes daily filled with the beauty of the buildings, so different from our modern box-like sterile architecture. Norman Mailer, the writer and philosopher, pointed out the association between sterile architecture and violence in the cities.

England still seemed to hold off from that Kinematic degeneration a good while longer than other places, probably because of the quality of the acting, and the long tradition of British Theatre producing very interesting stories, films like “A Rather English Marriage” with Courtney-Finney now playing near-old men after giving their incredible performances as young men in the British films of the early 60s, or “She’s Been Away”, a very original story with superb acting. It began, after Room at the Top really got it rolling,  in early British New Wave films like Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Alan Sillitoe’s fiction is superb, and a real treat to read.), and A Taste of Honey with Rita Tushingham, based on a play written by a 17-year old teenage girl, Shelagh Delaney. What a masterpiece. Or Bryan Forbes’ The L-Shaped Room. All films portraying the grim realness of life in post-war Britain, or else well-crafted plays taken to Cinema, instead of the escapist bread of puerile unlikely comedies which had been the staples of pre-1957 Britfilm, clever as they may have been. Suddenly you were confronted with the problems of the factory worker, the Borstal Boy jailed for a first crime, the pregnant teenager with the fairly-indifferent mother. And all superbly acted.

And not even mentioning the Japanese films of the 60s And even later on, with films like Kurosawa’s Derzu Uzala, which will make you want to live in the forest, and wonder why you live in a house. Coming on top of the New Wave in France, England and Italy, it was too much. There was electricity in the air, and it never seemed to end.

And the degeneration of the quality of humor, since the early 60s when the new wave of intellectual comedy hit America, has tracked the degeneration of the quality of Cinema, and the degeneration of the quality of music. From the Stones, Dylan, the Beatles, and so many countless others, to a mess of boring synthesizer garbage, written by computers, and just as sterile. The humor of Berman, Winters, Sahl, and Dana was so intellectually sophisticated that it was cleanly outside any of the ruts that American humor had stayed within for so long: the wife and mother in law jokes, etc. Or Berman talking about Zen, where you are able to answer very difficult questions like, “You know the sound of two hands clapping, but what is the sound of one hand clapping?” Then Berman pauses and adds, “Unfortunately, I know that sound.” Or Sahl with his political jokes, or Winters with his space ships or auto mechanics. In England you had Sellers and the Goon Show, and a new absurdity humor that went back in some ways to The Theatre of the Absurd of Ionesco and others. Eugene Ionesco is great stuff, and Rhinoceros is a play that is so fitting for our modern times about the spread of Fascism. The Left ought to read this play, and then look in the mirror. They might find they had grown a horn in the middle of their face overnight. Jakov Lind’s “The Silver Foxes are Dead” is also a great play about Fascism, and Edward Albee’s first plays are Absurdist masterpieces, and a crack-up to read.

(I should add that, while Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” is invariably quoted as the beginning of Absurdist Theatre, I think it really began with Ionesco’s “The Bald Soprano”, which contains a humor not found in Godot, and which is great fun to read. “The Lesson” is another must-read, and Ionesco’s short one-act play “The Leader” is another work of his dealing directly with Fascism and dictatorship. It is short enough that anti-Fascist theatre groups could manage to put on a performance.)

These psychological and economic conditionings are the conditions that produced an Obama, the last straw of the  socialist continuation that had existed since Franklin Roosevelt brought in the first socialist social programs, although given the primitive technology of those times and of prehistory which was only ceasing to exist in those days of the 20s and 30s, it is understandable that many intellectuals thought that socialism would work, and was a logical, rational system that would provide food clothes and shelter for all. And given the fact that when Roosevelt took office, about 90% of the American populace was made up of poor farmers living in rural areas, it was obvious that there would have been a persuasive argument in favor of socialism, or socialism mixed with capitalism. It had never been tried by such a wealthy country in all of history, so there were high hopes that government could act like a friendly neighborhood corner grocer, helping everybody who needed it, rather than as a necessary evil as Jefferson pointed out, because of its inevitable tendency to abuse its enormous power, and its economic power. The Middle Class was tiny, and the upper class few in numbers. So socialism easily won out.

Eighty-five years on, we can see that Jefferson was right, and the socialist democrats were wrong, just as he had predicted. And part of that, I believe, is due to the Women’s vote, because, as I said, women tend to be generally less intellectual and generally less interested in economic and political theory than men are, taken as a percentage of women and men. So they will be more easily influenced in general than men by emotional arguments that are economically disastrous for others, like the minimum wage laws, which hit teenagers and Black youth disproportionally hard, and which violate the Inalienable Natural Right to Contract, one of the fundamental Rights of a Capitalist Society. Or the Social Security confiscation, which helps keep young people poor and economically shackled, and currently robs 27.6% of an American’s paycheck, 13.8% of which he even has to pay income tax on. This violates the Inalienable Natural Right to the Fruits of your Labour. The fact that many, if not most, Women support these two unConstitutional assaults on Inalienable property Rights, the Rights that Jefferson championed as being absolutely necessary for human happiness to exist in society, shows how puerile is those women’s understanding of Inalienable Rights. These programs are supported by vast numbers of Men too, which in turn shows how limited is their understanding of the fundamentals of Jeffersonian Republicanism, the most Libertarian Government theory that has ever been the good fortune of People to inherit. Far from perfect, it is yet the least flawed conception of government that Mankind ever produced.

The fact that so many men, and even more women I’d guess, don’t understand the importance of defending these Inalienable Natural Rights, which are the cornerstones of Jefferson’s conception of Government, is the real danger to America. These Rights, and their guarantee, are the most important thing about our Government, and we’d better defend them vigorously through non-violent means or go the way that all Fascist and dictatorial governments from time immemorial have gone, leading to chaos and misery for untold billions throughout History. This is why it is possible that Women’s Suffrage may actually be leading to the decay of American Government, and my Bluedog Democrat neighbor may have been correct.

And Jefferson was twenty-six when he formulated that Libertarian conception of Government, and wrote it out in crystal clear, mellifluous prose, along with the formulations of many other of the Founding Fathers and Tom Paine. This was the latest fruit of Sane Government, that had commenced with Magna Charta, and ripened with Cromwell’s Glorious Revolution against Monarchy-in-Concert-with-Mercantilism. Not that the Founding Fathers were all that pure; most of them wangled huge land contracts, and Franklin made a fortune from Government printing contracts. The rot was soon to set in, and never left. But Rooseveltian socialism took it in a different direction.

Still, early post-Independence America was a freer and a more Capitalistic society than had ever been known in History, despite its wallowing in the Crime of Slavery, the worse anti-Libertarian Crime there is after Murder, and despite its Genocide and land-grab from the American Indian Tribes, who to this day still have the vast majority of their Tribal lands ripped off. I don’t hear any Democrats demanding that the Indians have their land returned to them. Libertarian Theory demands that stolen property be returned to its original owners, if it can be proven to be stolen. And it’s pretty obvious that the American Indian (and Canadian Indian, and Central American Indian and South American Indian) Lands were stolen by force.

So, despite my feeling that the Women’s Right to vote is one of the axioms of modern Classical Liberalism, as championed by Lord John Russell, Lord Acton, and Bertrand Russell, Jefferson, and Libertarians and Philosophers like Rothbard and Camus, and it is axiomatic that Women have the Vote, it still seems to me that there could well be a kernel of truth in my neighbor’s Bluedog view that the Woman Suffrage ruined America, and brought on the socialist mess we’ve been in for so long.

Lastly, we should recall George Bernard Shaw’s quip that when a woman seeks equality, she renounces her superiority.

— Paul Grad, Vegan Enviro-Libertarian, Libertarian Party of Oregon Gubernatorial Nominee 2014