- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 22, 2004

Real progress

“The idea of progress, the notion that each generation builds a better world — by its own invention and discovery, standing on the shoulders of its forebears — is old indeed. It was prevalent for the last 600 years and has only recently fallen out of fashion among postmodernist intellectuals.

“Intellectuals who dismiss progress — or who find attractive the idea of the Noble Savage, a person uncorrupted by civilization who lives a more deeply creative or authentic life than we can understand — have [author Charles] Murray’s contempt. Nor has he patience with people who complain about technology and economic growth over their cell phones on the way to the airport.

“A little question does the trick for him on the issue of whether there is progress in science and technology: ‘Would you be willing to live your life at any time before the invention of antibiotics?’”

Denis Dutton, writing on “Of human accomplishment,” in the February issue of the New Criterion

Frivolous opinions

“As America embarked upon the greatest battle for its survival since the end of the Cold War, the nation cried out for the opinions of the most frivolous people in the universe — celebrities. …

“Being a part of the antiwar crowd allowed the most overpampered elites since the czar’s court to feel relevant again. …

“Actor Woody Harrelson wrote an article in the London Guardian, saying, ‘I’m an American tired of lies. And with our government, it’s mostly lies.’ … For some unfathomable reason, he said, stupid Americans were angry about terrorism. As the levelheaded sitcom actor dispassionately explained, ‘In wartime, people lose their senses.’ He complained about the scourge of ‘flags and yellow ribbons and posters.’ Liberals react to the American flag like Linda Blair did to holy water in ‘The Exorcist.’ Nothing demonstrates the latent fascism of Americans to liberals so clearly as the American flag.”

Ann Coulter, from her book, “Treason”

Capitalist faith

“Mel Gibson’s movie ‘The Passion [of the Christ]’ will be released [Wednesday]. It is widely believed to be the most powerful film representation of Christ’s crucifixion ever made.

“When Mel sunk $25 million of his own money into the project, people said he was crazy. But it is slowly dawning on people that the potential market for this film is darn close to unlimited. Might this become at once the most religiously pious and financially successful film ever made? …

“Is it wrong to make lots of money off the religious sentiments of others? Is it bad to profit from trafficking in piety? …

“If you like ‘The Passion,’ and you like Mel’s vision in having seen a need where others did not, and the saga of the film and all the obstacles inspire you, remember that none of this would be possible without the institutions of the market economy. To make a movie like this requires more than a good story and courage. It also requires private property, market exchange, investment capital, flexible wages, distribution networks, discretionary income, freedom of association, and sophisticated financial systems to keep track of it.”

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., writing on “Art, Faith and the Marketplace,” Thursday at www.lewrockwell.com

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