Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Are the Concepts and Objectives Behind the “Authentic Performance Movement” Fundamentally Flawed?

In this essay, we shall be examining the so-called “authentic performance movement” but what IS the authentic performance movement? This movement, also referred to as the historical authenticity movement and/or the early music movement, is a group of musicians, performers, and composers who “strive to realise the [baroque and classical period] composer’s intentions and expectations regarding performing style.”1 What this means then, is that said musicians, et al. strive to play Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical musical works in a way that they would have been played in their respective eras. This includes performing on instruments made in the same way as those from the period, using the same construction materials, designs, intonations, and tuning systems. Now that we have an adequate description of the movement in question, we may now move on to a critical analysis of its concepts and objectives (if indeed said movement even has any to be subjected to such scrutiny.)

The origins of this movement lie in the 1950s all the way through to the 1980s, and has continued on through the 90s up until present times.2 However the history behind this movement can be traced to developments as far back as during 18th and 19th centuries.3 During the eighteenth century, musical performance was focused on new music. This can be exemplified in the ‘Querelle des Bouffons’ that took place between 1752 and 1754, which was a controversy surrounding the merits of the newer Italian operas versus the merits of the older French operas. During this controversy, contemporary philosophes and other writers argued, sometimes vociferously, that the newer Italian opera was better than the older French operas pioneered by Jean-Baptiste Lully and promoted at the time by Jean-Phillipe Rameau. The people of that century simply did not care for older music. This can be contrasted with the 19th century, where there was a conscious move towards performing works by composers of older eras. As Bernard Sherman notes “admonitions to honor the composer’s performance intentions... became common in the 19th century and dominant in the twentieth.”4

Whilst there are number of reasons for why these developments took place during the 19th century, at the centre of the debate during the twentieth century was a debate concerning “authenticity.”5 Critics of the “authentic performance movement’ have focused intently over the usage of the word ‘authentic’ and it is this word in particular that is singled out as the principle target of the critics’ ire. It is primarily the controversy over the meaning of ‘authenticity’ that has led to the movement being given the alternate name: ‘historically informed performance movement.’6 However, there is some doubt as to whether or not “authenticity” really laid behind the movement. D. Fabian argues that the concept of authenticity being attributed to the movement was really down to critics taking “commercial propaganda at face value.”7 That is to say that those associated with the early music/historically informed performance movement do not seek ‘authenicity.’8

Thus, one could argue that identifying this movement as the ‘authentic performance movement’ is nothing more than a straw-man caricature. What then CAN be said about the aims of the early music/authentic/historically informed performance movement? Michelle Dulak argues that shift in emphasis from ‘authenticity’ to ‘historically informed performance’ is simply nothing more than semantic posturing:
Early music” itself will hardly do, when so much of the repertoire concerned is so recent… “Authentic” has succumbed to a thousand critical blows, most of them richly deserved. “Contextual for no very obvious reason, was stillborn… “Period” and “historical” (with the variant “historically informed” remain, but a careful observer cannot help noting that even they become rarer with time. I venture to suggest that this linguistic fidgetiness has its roots in the changing nature of the beast itself.9
This view, however, misses the deeper differences between the notions of ‘authenticity’ and being ‘historically informed.’ Whilst they may seem two names for the same thing, there is a fundamental difference. Being ‘authentic’ from a musical perspective is not the same thing as being ‘historically informed.’ Edidin notes the argument of Kivy that a rendition of a composition can be authentic in a ‘personal’ sense and forms the basis of arranging as form of art.10

The fundamental argument against equating ‘authenticity’ with ‘historical informed performance’ then, is that the personal authenticity expressed in varying renditions of compositions past and present is of aesthetic value. The reason for this is because the very act of arranging is itself an art form that gives rise to new musical expressions. Therefore, it is inappropriate or perhaps unfair to label certain artistic expressions as ‘inauthentic.’ Whether because it was because of such criticisms, or if, as D. Fabian argues, that the movement never self-identified as such, since the 1990s the term ‘authentic’ has been subsequently dropped.11 Nowadays, the focus is more on performances being ‘historically informed’ that is to say performances which are historically accurate. Whether this has been part and parcel of the movement since the very beginning or whether this a new direction it seems as if this fascination of the past follows very much in the same vein as the fascination of the past exemplified by so many groups as far back as the Renaissance humanists and as contemporary as today.

Robert Donington gives a possible explanation for this current obsession, especially the music of the Baroque period. He argues that it lies in the fact that there is actually a sense of continuality between music of the past and music of the present. That is to say, Baroque music exemplifies musical elements found in popular contemporary music today, chief among them being improvisation.
Much of our own contemporary music pursues such spontaneity and in baroque music this ingredient is contained in the very conditions of its authentic reportoire.12
However, is this attempt at historical recreation any less problematic than striving to create the most ‘authentic’ rendition of a performance? Writing about Renaissance music, Howard Mayer-Brown writes that the question of how music of the past was actually performed is one that is “difficult to answer because the music is so remote from us… that even the most basic facts about the way it was played must be demonstrated rather than assumed.”13 Bernard Sherman notes that “some authors believe that it is impossible for us to perform music exactly as it was done in its own era.”14

Whilst it therefore seems out-of-date to think of an ‘authentic performance movement’ but of a movement that endeavours to re-create compositions the way they were historically performed, it seems as if this does not change much. There are still problems with presuming one rendition of a Baroque period composition is more ‘historically authentic’ or ‘historically informed’ than another. This has been briefly hinted at and shall now be expounded upon in more detail now. What are the fundamental problems with historical Reconstructionism in relation to the music of the Baroque period and earlier? One issue lays in the fact that “performers did not simply follow instructions given them by composers” and that “musicians were expected to be able to invent new melodic material extempore.”15 In the Baroque and Renaissance periods, performing music involved more than simply reading the scores. The singers and instrumentalists of those times were fully expected to add elaborate improvised ornamentation, and according to precise musical rules. A problem then, lies in determining what these rules are and how they should be interpreted and applied.

More than this, we have to determine not just stylistic characteristics, but sonic characteristics, questions concerning instrument choice, instrument construction, instrument techniques, ensemble line-up, ensemble size, and a plethora of other issues. Whilst this might seem like a daunting task to some, the problem is even more insurmountable than this, for the documentary evidence (in terms of musical scores) we have is fragmentary.
Some authors believe that it is impossible for us to perform music exactly as it was done in its own era. In a few cases, such as the use of castrati singers, it is obviously impossible (or repellent) to re-create a known practice. But more generally, evidence about period performance practice is almost never complete, so performers must go beyond what scholars can certify as historically accurate. Doing so involves the use of the performers’ imaginations—and modern musical imaginations differ almost inevitably from those of previous centuries.16
Reconstructing music of the past is therefore immensely difficult if not impossible. The principle argument against attempts at accurate historical reconstruction of musical compositions is that “historical performers supplement the meagre documentary evidence with their own musical taste…”17

Interestingly enough, Taruskin, whom Dulak cites and refers to, despite offering stringent criticisms of the historicist enterprise, does not see the ahistoricity inherent in the historicist enterprise as a deathblow to their efforts. Rather, he argues that despite the “thin veneer of historicism” and the “rhetoric of authenticity,” the movement “constitutes proof that what [Taruskin] calls “authentistic” performance is a living tradition…”18 As Edidin concurs:
One way to qualify the extreme view [that deviations from history falsify the efforts of historicism] would be to hold that historical authenticity is but one source of aesthetic good among many…9
Whilst the two ideals, authenticity and historicism, are different, it seems then as if they overlap considerably after all. If one takes authenticity in music to mean something that is aesthetically good and enjoyable, and the efforts of historicisms achieve this affect, then it seems as if both concepts are vindicated.

Tracing the development of the “early music movement,” D. Fabian notes that despite arguments such as those above, those involved in the movement still clung to the idea that “an Urtext score reflected the composer’s ‘definitive version’ of the piece.” Those affiliated with the movement in the 1950s held to the ideal of ‘historical authenticity.’20 As aforementioned, Edidin reports a distinction Kivy made between personal and historical authenticity, and so in this sense the obsession over ‘authenticity’ in earlier critiques are misguided. What those in the authentic performance movement actually meant by ‘authenticity’ and what critics supposed they meant were two entirely different things. We may recall Dulak’s complaint earlier that the central aims of the authentic performance movement has been transmogrified, and this is somewhat justified given the vagueness of the term ‘authenticity.’ Yet, as we have seen, there is a fundamental distinction between ‘authenticity,’ ‘historicism.’ Furthermore, we are met with two types of authenticity, ‘personal authenticity’ and ‘historical authenticity.’

We have cleared up some of the terminology, but not all. In determining the aims and objectives of the authentic performance movement, we were met with two terms: the sufficiently vague term ‘authenticity’ and the more clearly defined term ‘historicism.’ However, we are now met with two new terms, as mentioned above. Personal authenticity, which refers to the art of arranging carried out by modern composers and performers who seek to re-create works of the past. Their re-working has aesthetic value whether it is “historically informed” or not. What then of ‘historical authenticity?’ Whilst some argue that historical authenticity is synonymous with efforts at trying to re-create musical compositions the way the original composer intended, I disagree. Whilst a desire at historical accuracy is obviously a major part of Historical Reconstructionism, historical authenticity is more than this. I take historical authenticity to refer to the aesthetic value of historicism; that is the effort to re-create compositions of the past as they would have been performed originally.

As previously discussed, Edidin notes that historicism21 can be at least one source of aesthetic good. However, he goes on to argue a further point that whilst historical reconstruction is “not necessarily or always a source of aesthetic good” that “there is good prima facie reason that it often will be a source of aesthetic good…”22 In other words, at least some examples of ‘historically informed performances’ will be aesthetically good because of efforts at historical reconstruction. Therefore what ‘historical reconstruction’ can be historically authentic in addition to being personal authentic by virtue of its being personally authentic. He develops this argument further by offering the premise that “the aesthetic payoff of following a composer’s performance suggestion is ultimately to be judged by experience of the result of that way of performing.”23

Having briefly reviewed the key concepts associated with the ‘authentic performance movement’ we have come to the following conclusions. The fundamental aim of the ‘authentic performance movement’ is merely an attempt at historical recreation; to re-create compositions according to the original wishes and intentions of the composers. The use of the term ‘authenticity’ was simply misleading colloquialism that. Debates over ‘authenticity,’ whilst somewhat misleading, are, however, enlightening nonetheless. We discussed the varying meanings of ‘authenticity’ and how they applied to the efforts of Historical Reconstructionism. The aim of this essay was to discuss to the objectives of the ‘authentic performance’ and weigh in as to whether these objectives were ‘fundamentally flawed’ or not. The discussion as to whether or not historical reconstruction of early compositions is a worthwhile enterprise almost entirely focused around philosophical, aesthetic concerns, as it was more or less admitted from the outset that our knowledge of how these pieces of music was actually performed is particularly fragmentary. What then, are our conclusions in this regard?

Authenticity is a word that has sparked a wide amount of controversy, with some regarding the use of the term highly offensive. However, more thoughtful commentators have offered expositions of what authenticity actually means, and then discussed how it relates to the ‘authentic performance movement.’ Authenticity can carry two meanings, personal authenticity and historical authenticity. Personal authenticity is the aesthetic value of a piece of music purely based on its value as art. Historical authenticity is typically used to refer to how historically accurate a work is, but I take it to mean the personal authenticity derived from efforts at historical reconstruction irrespective as to whether this historical reconstruction is ultimately successful or not. Thus, we can see two ways in which historical reconstruction is a worthwhile endeavour. Firstly, composers engage in the art of arranging. How they arrange other composer’s compositions and how they perform them leads to new musical expression.

Secondly, compositions can be aesthetically pleasing purely as a result of the attempts at historical reconstruction. That is to say that pieces that aspire to be historically informed can be more aesthetically pleasing than pieces that do not aspire to being historically informed. The only issue then is whether these aesthetic results are intentional or accidental by-products. However, I think such a question ultimately does not add to the discussion at hand (otherwise it would have been raised earlier) as the answer to such a question does not alter the aesthetic results. Whether it is deliberate or unintentional, ‘historically informed’ pieces can be aesthetically good. Note that this is also wholly independent of whether or not these pieces actually are historically accurate or not, thus rendering the question of whether such historical accuracy is possible a moot one. The question being discussed is whether or not the aims and objectives of the ‘authentic performance movement’ are fundamentally flawed or not. Whilst historical accuracy might simply be a quaint, ludicrous notion, aesthetic good can still come of it.

Howard Mayer Brown, Embellishing 16th-Century Music, Oxford University Press, (1976)
Robert Donington, Style and Performance, Faber Music, (1982)
David Schulenberg, Music of the Baroque, Oxford University Press, (2001)

Michelle Dulak, The Quiet Metamorphosis of “Early Music,” Repercussions, Vol. 2, No. 2., University of California Berkley, (Fall, 2003), pp31-61
Aron Edidin, Playing Bach His Way: Historical Authenticity, Personal Authenticity, and the Performance of Classical Music, Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol. 32, No. 4, University of Illinois Press, (Winter, 1998), pp79-91
Dorottya Fabian, The Meaning of Authenticity and The Early Music Movement: A Historical Review, International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music, Vol. 32, No. 2, Croatian Musicology Society, (Dec., 2001), pp153-167

Web Articles:

Bernard D. Sherman, Authenticity in Musical Performance, (Accessed November 25th 2011)

1 Aron Edidin, Playing Bach His Way: Historical Authenticity, Personal Authenticity, and the Performance of Classical Music, Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol. 32, No. 4, University of Illinois Press, (Winter, 1998), pp79-91, p79
2 Dorottya Fabian, The Meaning of Authenticity and The Early Music Movement: A Historical Review, International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music, Vol. 32, No. 2, Croatian Musicology Society, (Dec., 2001), pp153-167, p153
3 Bernard D. Sherman, Authenticity in Musical Performance, (Accessed November 25th 2011)
4 Ibid.
5 Aron Edidin, Playing Bach His Way, p79
6 Dorottya Fabian, The Meaning of Authenticity and The Early Music Movement: A Historical Review, International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music, Vol. 32, No. 2, Croatian Musicology Society, (Dec., 2001), pp153-167, p153
7 Dorottya Fabian, The Meaning of Authenticity and The Early Music Movement, p154
8 Dorottya Fabian, The Meaning of Authenticity and The Early Music Movement, p155
9 Michelle Dulak, The Quiet Metamorphosis of “Early Music,” Repercussions, Vol. 2, No. 2., University of California Berkley, (Fall, 2003), pp31-61, p31
10 Aron Edidin, Playing Bach His Way, p80
11 Dorottya Fabian, The Meaning of Authenticity and The Early Music Movement, p153
12 Robert Donington, Style and Performance, Faber Music, (1982), p6
13 Howard Mayer Brown, Embellishing 16th-Century Music, Oxford University Press, (1976), pvii
14 Bernard D. Sherman, Authenticity in Musical Performance, (Accessed November 26th 2011)
15 Howard Mayer Brown, Embellishing 16th-Century Music, Oxford University Press, (1976), pvii
16 Bernard D. Sherman, Authenticity in Musical Performance, (Accessed November 27th 2011)
17 Michelle Dulak, The Quiet Metamorphosis of “Early Music,” p33
18 Michelle Dulak, The Quiet Metamorphosis of “Early Music,” p34
19 Aron Edidin, Playing Bach His Way, p81
20 Dorottya Fabian, The Meaning of Authenticity and The Early Music Movement, p158
21 Edidin himself uses the term ‘historical authenticity’ as referring to the efforts of Historical Reconstructionism/historicism, whereas I take ‘historical authenticity’ to refer to the aesthetic value of the historicist enterprise.
22 Aron Edidin, Playing Bach His Way, p81
23 Ibid.

Did the Enlightenment Inspire the French Revolution?

It has generally been asserted by some historians that the Enlightenment influenced the French Revolution.1 Postmodernist historians tend to go further and claim the Enlightenment directly led to the terror, and inspired subsequent totalitarian regimes also.2 Whilst the latter question is beyond the purview of this essay, we shall be exploring, on the other hand, the question of the Enlightenments role in the French Revolution if it indeed had one at all. The Enlightenment is an area that has perhaps been over-complicated by historians, and so we shall do our best to uncomplicate them here. Is there a relation between the Enlightenment and the Revolution? At first glance it may seem like a reasonable hypothesis. Yet the proposition that the Enlightenment caused (whether directly or indirectly) raises a number of questions. Not least of these being the question of how could a movement devoted to rational reform lead to such violence?3 Therefore in order to understand this question better, we need to look at the Enlightenment philosophes themselves.

It becomes clear once we get round to looking at the philosophes that they were no revolutionaries. Whilst the revolutionaries certainly appealed to writers such as Voltaire and Rousseau, the revolutionaries’ thinking “often proceeded in directions which would have horrified those whose names they used in order to legitimate their actions.”4 Stromberg notes that almost all of the philosophes that lived to the Revolution rejected it, and “virtually from the start.”5 The philosophes were very much elitists who believed in a hierarchical society with the ‘grands’ at the top, with Rousseau being the only exception. d’Alembert remarked that one did not a great deal of philosophy that societies, especially large states, needed clearly defined social ranks. Voltaire shared similar sentiments and believed that the masses should no be even taught how to read. This oligarchy therefore stands in stark contrast to the ideals of the revolutionaries who sought to enact a republic. Robert Darnton notes that by 1778 “the last generation of philosophes had become pensioned, petted, and completely integrated in high society.”6

Darnton cites the Archive Nationales, which contained a list of 147 “men of letters who request pensions” and ten dossiers on writers and their sources of support.7 The philosophes were very much dependant on sinecures and pensions, and NOT the sales of books. Of course, this raises further questions: to what extent did Enlightenment ideals filter down to the masses, and if not the Enlightenment philosophes what DID eighteenth century Frenchmen read? Robert Darnton, whom has already been cited, has made some considerable advancement in this regard. One such example is the Bibliotheque bleue, which were crude paperbacks carted about the countryside and were intended for semi-literate peasant communities. These works included mostly superstitious tales, medieval romances, and condensed versions of popular novels, not the enlightened philosophy of the philosophes.8 Furthermore, records by provincial publishers for ‘permission simples’ indicate that “educated provincials were about as far removed from the Enlightenment provincials as illiterate provincials.”8

Quite simply, books that later ages took be great “may not have been widely read under the Old Regime.”9 More than this, however, it seems as if there was an underground book market for “philosophical books” with particularly lewd title such as ‘Venus in the Cloister or Nun in the Nightgown’ and ‘The Woman of Pleasure.’ Darnton’s book The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France is devoted to this entire subject. The term “philosophical books” was used as a sort of codeword for books that would get publishers and shop owners into trouble, and were apparently in quite high demand. However, the chief impetus behind the revolution, Darton argues, were a group of writers wholly different from those of the Enlightenment philosophes. Darnton points to a fringe group of writers excluded from elite circles, men such as Carra, Gorsas, Mercier, Restif de la Bretonne, Manuel, Desmoulins, Collot d’Herbois, and Fabre d’Eglantine. In fact one of the writers named, Jean Marie Collot d’Herbois actually went to become a member of the Committee of Public Safety.

These writers generally passed into obscurity, with the exception of those named, and were referred to by the philosophes as the ‘excrement of literature.’ Voltaire placed them in a social class below prostitutes and referred to them as the ‘dregs of humanity.’ Whilst Voltaire claimed he attacked this group of writers to put aspiring youths off from aspiring to be a writer (and thus ending up either starving or scraping a living) those who were able to scrape a living by the pen, such as Mercier, took extreme offence. They were also indignant at their place in society, and Darnton notes how Phillipe Fabre d’Eglantine, Jean-Louis Carra, and Antoine-Joseph Carra precipitated the downfall Charles-Alexandre de Callone after he did not award them pensions.10 The central issue was privilege; the Enlightenment philosophes and these writers were not. As Darnton puts it: “They had knocked on the doors of Voltaire’s Church, and the door remained closed.”11As such, these writers generally produced ‘libelles’ attacking the “grande monde”; that is, the society of the high cultured philosophes. They attacked the salon, the academies, the aristocracy, the church, and even the monarchy. These were the successors of the philosophes and they made themselves heard.

Whereas the philosophes were mostly if not entirely limited to the upper echelons of eighteenth century France, the Grub Street hacks were pumping out pamphlets that were quite widely read in some cases. Darnton specifically references the “polemical genius” of Simon-Henri Linguet.12 Jeremy Popkin, in response to Darnton’s earlier suggestion of Brissot as the template for the hacks of Grub Street, likewise notes that Linguet fits Darnton’s hypothesis, but that even Linguet “spent much of his career closely associated with powerful figures in French politics.”13 Popkin notes that their feelings of resentment have perhaps been exaggerated by Darnton, and that they were simply poor intellectuals who wrote whatever sold and were more than happy to attach themselves to wealthy and influential patrons such as the duc d’Orleans. Of course, this does not do much to undermine Darnton’s hypothesis, and Popkin himself even admitted to the inherent plausibility of Darnton’s hypothesis.14 Darnton’s argument is that these writers influenced the revolutionaries, and not the Enlightenment philosophes.

However, the question of what motivated them is a more complicated one and one that Darnton has since answered. These writers had arrived in Paris expecting to be received as eminent writers and to rise up as Voltaire did, but instead they plummeted to the bottom and so had to do whatever was required to survive. Grub Street was no gentlemanly affair, but a “grim struggle for survival” that “brought out baser elements.”15 Whether they harboured the vitriolic hatred of the establishment as Darnton suggests, and thus merely hedging their bets, or if they were simply downtrodden opportunists who were radicalised by their life at the bottom rung, many of their writings were certainly nefarious and dark. One Charles Thevenau de Morande produced work of such ghastly degradation that its depravity caused Voltaire to refer to it in horror as “one of those satanic works… where the most atrocious and most absurd calumny spreads a horrible poison on everything one respects and loves.”16

One aspect, however, that Darnton has perhaps overlooked is the indirect role that the Enlightenment played in influencing revolution. Many of these men had grown up as youths really believing that the ‘republic of letters,’ in fact, really did exist, and that they could be the next Voltaire or Diderot. In this sense, the Enlightenment led these men to aspire to be writers, and thus led to them ending up as radical Grub Street hacks, doing whatever literary work was needed just as long as it got them food on the table and a roof over their heads. More than this, however, the Enlightenment can also be argued to have made revolution possible. The central thesis of T. C. W. Blanning’s book The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture is that the Enlightenment era saw the rise of a ‘public sphere.’ That is to say “[b]y exchanging information, ideas, and criticism, these individuals created a cultural actor – the public- which has dominated European culture ever since.”17 What then is the relation between this new ‘general public’ and the Enlightenment?

It easy enough to see where the Grub Street hack writers would have come in. With the growing emphasis on newspapers, and other (what we would call) media outlets, this obviously left a gap for them to fill. More than this, public life began emphasising public venues, such as the theatre, and Blanning notes the ‘Querelle de Bouffons,’ a controversy that broke out over the merits of newer Italian opera, versus the older French operas of Lully of Rameau.18 This quarrel is interesting in that it not only involved the ‘general public’ but also the philosophes. Weighing in against Rameau was none other than Rousseau, Grimm and men such as Diderot and d’Alembert. The lesson Blanning claims can be inferred from this incident is that the court culture of Louis XIV began to be seen as outdated.19 Interestingly enough, d’Alembert wrote a pamphlet entitled ‘On the Liberty of Music.’ In it he writes that the ‘great political figures’ who oppose those argue for liberty in music complain that liberty in music is inextricably and inexorably linked with liberty in feeling, followed by liberty in thought, liberty in action, ending in the ruin of states.

Blanning notes that this is probably not too far off the mark. With the advent of the new Bouffon style of comedic opera, Rousseau saw the success of his own comic opera Le Devin du village, which Blanning argues “looks very much like an exercise in social criticism.”20 Rousseau then wrote his famous ‘Letter on French Music,’ whereby he accused the French of having no music, and that if they did it would be so much the worse for them. Such a brazen attack on French music caused deep offence, even amongst Frenchmen who preferred the Italian operas of the Bouffons and many made their complaints heard via print. As Outram notes, some of the new institutions and organisations that sprang up in this era “provided ways in which many different social strata could be exposed to the same ideas.”21 It was these institutions and this interchange of ideas that led to the emergence of a ‘new public sphere.’

Whence did this public sphere come? It was mostly the result of socio-political changes in not just Western Europe, but America also. Outram notes that the eighteenth century “was a time of economic expansion, increasing urbanisation, rising population, and improving communications in comparison to the stagnation of the previous century.”22 However, as Darnton notes, the philosophes themselves were not widely read in the lower classes. This new ‘general public’ read mostly gossip, pornography, and just general smut, which is generally where the Grub Street writers come in. The Grub Street writers, as we have previously discussed, were men who had grown up believing in a “republic of letters” but found out the hard way that unless you made it in the system of privilege and patronage, then you would not go very far. The one possible contradiction in Darnton’s hypothesis is that these Grub Street writers themselves actually read the Enlightenment philosophes or at least became somewhat acquainted with them. In the same way a youth today might aspire to become, say, an actor or musician, these men aspired to become the next Voltaire, or Diderot.

Upon finding that they could not succeed at their ambitious aspirations of fame and glory, and subsequently forced to live in the grim reality of Grub Street, they dispensed of such quaint ideals. In essence, they were desperate, and so wrote whatever would get them money. However, this can more or less be attributed to the socio-political factors above. It was the heightened sense of public awareness that gave a market for the writings of Grub Street, and made public opinion such a powerful force. Although the link between the Enlightenment philosophes and the Grub Street writers is there, which can further be demonstrated in how the revolutionaries attempted to justify their enterprise. In fact, more than this, Stromberg notes that, of the philosophes that were still alive, there was one group that attempted to “mediate between the great ideas of the past, on which they had been raised and which has dazzled them, and the tumultuous events of the present which might be the realisation of those ideas.”23 This group, however, ultimately failed, losing to the Jacobin faction, but this group distinctive and even had its own printing press to disseminate Enlightenment ideals to the general public.

It seems then, then the only link between the Enlightenment one can demonstrate is, at most, indirect. As Roger Chartier notes: “…the revolutionaries constructed a continuity that was primarily a process of justification and a search for paternity.”24 It should be clear, however, that the Enlightenment and the French Revolution are not as inexorably linked as previously assumed. A much more convincing argument, on the other hand, could be made in regards to the relationship between the Enlightenment and the American Revolution, but that is beyond the bounds of this essay to discuss. The biggest contributing factor were the new socio-political changes, and whether or not these changes were caused or influenced in any way by the Enlightenment is a question that shall not be addressed here (although certainly a relevant one!) A growing sense of public opinion and public awareness combined with the writings of Grub Street are ultimately what led to revolution, and whilst the link between Grub Street and the Enlightenment philosophes is certainly there, what also needs to be shown is that the public dissatisfaction with the court culture King Louis XIV and his successors was a result of the Enlightenment.

Perhaps the strongest conclusion that can be reached is that the philosophes were no revolutionaries, and even supported the current order, so if a more direct link could be shown between the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, then it could simply be put down to a misuse of enlightened ideals, and not an intended outcome of the Enlightenment at all. Of course, whether a misuse of ideals is inevitable is a further question raised by all of this, and it seems that the philosophes themselves would be inclined to agree that it was, given their attitudes towards the lower classes. So, again, if there is a link between the Enlightenment and the revolution, it was because Enlightenment ideals filtered down to the lower classes too rapidly. Whilst Darnton has more or less shown that the philosophes were not widely read in the lower classes, it does leave the question of whether or not their ideals found their way to the lower classes anyway (in one form or another.) Whatever the answer, then it should not reflect too badly on the philosophes, given they were aware of such pitfalls themselves.

T. C. W. Blanning, The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture: Old Regime Europe 1660-1789, Oxford University Press, (2002)
Roger Chartier, The Cultural Origins of the French Revolution, Lydia G. Cochran, trns., Duke University Press, (1991)
Robert Darnton, The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France, W.W. Norton & Company, (1996)
Robert Darnton, In Search of the Enlightenment: Recent Attempts to Create a Social History of Ideas, The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 43, No.1, (March, 1971), University of Chicago Press, pp113-132
Robert Darnton, The High Enlightenment and the Low-Life of Literature in Pre-Revolutionary France, Past and Present, No. 51, (May, 1971), Oxford University Press, pp81-115
Haydn T. Mason, ed., The Darnton Debate: Books and Revolution in the Eighteenth Century, Voltaire Foundation Ltd., (1998)
Dorinda Outram, The Enlightenment: New Approaches to European History, 2nd Edition, Cambridge University Press, (2005)
Roland N. Stromberg, The Philosophes and the French Revolution: Reflections on Some Recent Research, The History Teacher, Vol. 21, No. 3, (May, 1988), Society for the History of Education, pp321-339

1 For example, Peter Gay.
2 The same historians also tend to deny that the Enlightenment had any influence and all, not to mention postmodernism denies the objectivity of historical research. This is an irony that they otherwise appear to be blind to.
3 Dorinda Outram, The Enlightenment: New Approaches to European History, 2nd Edition, Cambridge University Press, (2005), p126
4 Dorinda Outram, The Enlightenment, p131
5 Roland N. Stromberg, The Philosophes and the French Revolution: Reflections on Some Recent Research, The History Teacher, Vol. 21, No. 3, (May, 1988), Society for the History of Education, pp321-339, p323
6 Robert Darnton, In Search of the Enlightenment: Recent Attempts to Create a Social History of Ideas, The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 43, No.1, (March, 1971), University of Chicago Press, pp113-132, p119
7 Robert Darnton, The High Enlightenment and the Low-Life of Literature in Pre-Revolutionary France, Past and Present, No. 51, (May, 1971), Oxford University Press, pp81-115, p85-86
8 Robert Darnton, In Search of the Enlightenment, p127
9 Robert Darnton, In Search of the Enlightenment, p124
10 Robert Darnton, Two Paths Through the Social History of Ideas, from Haydn T. Mason, ed., The Darnton Debate: Books and Revolution in the Eighteenth Century, Voltaire Foundation Ltd., (1998), p253
11 Robert Darnton, The High Enlightenment and the Low-Life of Literature in Pre-Revolutionary France, p100
12 Robert Darnton, The High Enlightenment and the Low-Life of Literature in Pre-Revolutionary France, p101
13 Jeremy D. Popkin, Robert Darnton’s Alternative (to the) Enlightenment, from Haydn T. Mason, ed., The Darnton Debate: Books and Revolution in the Eighteenth Century, Voltaire Foundation Ltd., (1998), p110
14 Jeremy D. Popkin, Robert Darnton’s Alternative (to the) Enlightenment, from Haydn T. Mason, ed., The Darnton Debate, p108
15 Robert Darnton, The High Enlightenment and the Low-Life of Literature in Pre-Revolutionary France, p102
16 Ibid.
17 T. C. W. Blanning, The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture: Old Regime Europe 1660-1789, Oxford University Press, (2002), p2
18 T. C. W. Blanning, The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture, p357-360
19 T. C. W. Blanning, The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture, p360
20 T. C. W. Blanning, The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture, p363
21 Dorinda Outram, The Enlightenment, p12
22 Ibid.
23 Roland N. Stromberg, The Philosophes and the French Revolution, p327
24 Roger Chartier, The Cultural Origins of the French Revolution, Lydia G. Cochran, trns., Duke University Press, (1991), p5

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Kalam and Cosmology

An important part of Kalam are the scientific facts supporting premise 2. Now, whilst I agree that an actual infinite number of things is impossible, I do not see why something cannot exist for an infinite period of time. I am personally leaning towards Craig's notion of God being eternal (and thus atemporal) sans the universe, and temporal since creation, but am as of yet undecided. However, I wanted to look at the scientific evidence for premise 2. The two pieces of scientific evidence that can be used to infer that the universe began to exist are: the expansion of the universe and the second law of thermodynamics. Regarding expansion, two theorems are cited, the Hawking-Penrose Singularity Theorem(s) and the Borde-Guth-Vilinken theorem.

As it stands, there are five exceptions to the Hawking-Penrose theorem:
1. Closed time-like curves.
2. Strong energy condition violated (eternal inflation.)
3. Quantum Gravity models.
4. Generic energy condition violated ("exotic" spacetime.)
5. No closed trapped surface in our past.

Of these, number 4 and 5 are not expected to be part of "reasonable" physical models of the universe.

Closed Time-like Curves
A Closed Time-like Curve is essentially where time is "closed." What this means is that if time were represented as a drawing, rather than being a straight line, it loops back on itself, thus returning to the starting point. As a physical reality, CTCs are "time-machines" whereby the universe is not cylical, but that it returns back to its original starting point, in essence "creating itself." This is a model proposed by J. Richard Gott and Li-Xin Li, whereby the universe's timeline loops back upon itself to "become it's own mother." In other words, the SAME big bang is occuring over and over again, rather than a series of different big bangs and big crunches. So, you can think of a CTC very much like a time-machine.

Of course, there is pretty serious physical problem with this model as it violates the Chronology Protection Conjecture. Gott and Li state that CTCs should exist in a pure vacuum state, with no real particles, Hawking radiation, or bubbles because this stray radiation would destroy the CTC. The reason for this is because the radiation would build up to infinity, producing infinite spacetime curvature and destroying the CTC. This is described by Kip Thorne using the following example:
"Imagine that Carole is zooming back to Earth with one wormhole mouth in her spacecraft, and I am sitting at home on Earth with the other. When the spacecraft gets to within 10 light- years of Earth, it suddenly becomes possible for radiation (electromagnetic waves) to use the wormhole for time travel: any random bit of radiation that leaves our home in Pasadena traveling at the speed of light toward the spacecraft can arrive at the spacecraft after 10 years’ time (as seen on Earth), enter the wormhole mouth there, travel back in time by 10 years (as seen on Earth), and emerge from the mouth on Earth at precisely the same moment as it started its trip. The radiation piles right on top of its previous self, not just in space but in spacetime, doubling its strength. What’s more, during the trip each quantum of radiation (each photon) got boosted in energy due to the relative motion of the wormhole mouths (a “Doppler- shift” boost)."
The radiation keeps piling on top of itself, over and over again with Doppler-boosted energy making an infinitely strong beam of radiation. This beam would then produce a singularity, thereby (probably) destroying the wormhole and preventing a time-machine from ever existing. Gott and Li, however, are aware of this problem and have proposed the following solution. They have proposed a special zero-temperature empty space, called an "adapted Rindler vacuum" as a special initial state for the universe. However, such a move has produced further problems, indicated by William Hiscock and D.H. Coule, et al.. The first problem is that their choice of initial conditions are incredibly finely-tuned. Coule notes that the Gott-Li model is only possible in Misner space with identification scale b = 2p, or b = 2pr0 for the multiple de Sitter case. Not only is this inconsistent with Quantum uncertainty, but this parameter is not a constant but liable to change dynamically. When it does change, the CTC destabilises. Secondly, given more realistic physical force fields, such a vacuum is also unstable.

Eternal Inflation
The second exception are inflation models, such as chaotic inflation. Cosmic inflation was proposed to solve a number of problems that otherwise pervaded the standard model. For example, the horizon, flatness, and cosmic relic problems. Alan Guth's proposal was that the universe underwent a period of exponential super-rapid expansion. Inflationary theory is now generally well-accepted. However, inflationary theory has led to inflationary models of how the universe came to be, such as Andrei Linde's chaotic inflation model. In this model, the big-bang is just a regional event within a multiverse of expanding bubbles, with each bubble giving rise to even more expanding regions, and so on ad infinitum. However, a theorem produced by Guth, along with Arvin Borde and Alexander Vilenkin states that such an inflating universe must have had a beginning. They explain:
"Our argument shows that null and time-like geodesics are, in general, past-incomplete in inflationary models, whether or not energy conditions hold, provided only that the averaged expansion condition Hav > 0 holds along these past-directed geodesics. A remarkable thing about this theorem is its sweeping generality. We made no assumptions about the material content of the universe. We did not even assume that gravity is described by Einstein’s equations. So, if Einstein’s gravity requires some modification, our conclusion will still hold. The only assumption that we made was that the expansion rate of the universe never gets below some nonzero value, no matter how small. This assumption should certainly be satisfied in the inflating false vacuum. The conclusion is that past-eternal inflation without a beginning is impossible."
Interestingly enough, it has also been argued that eternal inflation cannot be future eternal either: Of course, as with the Hawking-Penrose theorem, there are exceptions to the Borde-Guthe-Vilenkin theorem:
1. Infinite contraction (such as de Sitter cosmology.)
2. Asymptotically static models.
3. Infinite cyclicity (such as the Baum-Frampton model, or Penrose's CCC.)
4. Time reversal at singularity (Aguirre-Gratton model.)

Infinite Contraction
This is where a spatially infinite universe contracts down to a singularity and then "bounces" into our present expansion. Therefore, the universe would not be, on average, in a state of cosmic expansion since the contraction phase 'cancels it out.' This is problematic for several reasons. Not only do the initial conditions have to be extremely fine-tuned, the collapse phase is so unstable as to require an additional level of fine-tuning so that it will be able to the collapse can turn around back into an expansion. Otherwise, a certain phenomenon known as "BKL chaos" occurs, which prevents such a bounce occurring. This requires an extraordinary amount of fine-tuning.

Asymptotically Static Space-time
An asymptotically static space is one in which the average expansion rate of the universe over its history is equal to zero, since the expansion rate of the universe “at” infinity is zero. Hence, the universe, perhaps in the asymptotic past, is in a static state neither expanding nor contracting. However, we know from observation that the universe has indeed been expanding, so how can it be said to have an average expansion of zero throughout it's history? William Lane Craig and James D. Sinclair offer the following example:
"Would not the average expansion rate have to be greater than zero? No, not when we include “infinity” in the average. Consider an analogy in which the local government decides that, henceforth, everyone will pay property taxes according to the average value of property (per acre) in the county instead of on one’s individual assessment. This might be good or bad for you, depending on whether you live in the high end district. But suppose that your county suddenly expanded to include the Sahara Desert. The Sahara is worthless and big, hence the average value of property, by the square mile, dives precipitously. Further, the larger the Sahara is, the closer to zero one’s property taxes will be. In the limit as the Sahara grows to infinite size, one’s property taxes will go to zero. In a similar way, a zero expansion condition at infinity would have the same impact on the average expansion rate."
Ellis, et al. propose that the universe initially existed in such a state (known as an Einstein Static State) and transformed into the universe we see today via an inflationary phase. However, such a model is not past eternal either. How such an ESS is unstable. Small fluctuations in the size of the universe are inevitable (given Quantum Theory) and thus such a state cannot remain in balance for an infinite time. Secondly, the observable universe is NOT static, and the required mechanism to force such a transition between an ESS and our own universe (either a quantum or thermal fluctuation) implies that this initial ESS is not infinite. If you utilise the low-energy solution of loop quantum gravity, then this protects against perturbations of a limited size, however smaller perturbations would eventually build up leading to the creation of a universe such as ours. In other words, we can again infer the finitude of the ESS based upon the mechanism that gets us from the ESS to our current universe.

Cyclic Models
Cyclic models are those that postulate that our big bang is but one in an infinite cycle of big-bangs and crunches. In this respect, our universe never begins to exist; or rather, our big bang is A beginning rather than THE beginning. The overwhelming problem for such models lies in the second law of thermodynamics, as for every cycle, entropy increases. In other words, only a finite number of cycles are possible until the universe reaches a state of maximum entropy and suffers heat death. In recent years, there have been serious efforts to revitalise such models with the Baum-Frampton model and (even more recently) the Penrose Conformal Cyclic Cosmology. Paul Frampton and Lauris Baum propose that phantom energy, a type of dark energy with an equation of state (the ratio between pressure and energy density) less than -1, pervades the universe. This leads to a type of expansion that typically is thought to lead to a Big Rip. However, Baum and Framptom propose that, very close to the Big Rip event, the universe splits into noninteracting and causally disconnected patches. Most of these patches only contain phantom energy and are devoid of normal matter and radiation. The entropy content of the universe is contained in the patches containing thinly spread out particles and radiation. The patches only containing phantom energy then contract by an amount exactly equal to the expansion the universe underwent since the Big Bang. Prior to reaching a singularity, the contracting patches then "bounce" into another expansion phase. The process then repeats, with each patch fractioning into more baby universes with each cycle.

The problems with such a model, however, are legion. First, in order to avoid the BVG theorem, the average contraction for every geodesic must equal exactly the average expansion, but this is again something that would require extraordinary amounts of fine-tuning. The second problem is how exactly the various patches remain causally disconnected. Given infinite past time, an infinite amount of matter and radiation would have been produced, and the model avoids infinite entropy by removing it to different patches. However, simply shoving the entropy into other patches raises the question of whether or not, given infinite time and a countable infinity of patches, that these patches must eventually collide. The causal disconnection mechanism that occurs in lieu of the Big Rip does not work because the disconnected patches do come back into causal contact. After all, causal horizons are not real physical barriers. Thirdly, certain factors would prevent a singular bounce. Contracting space filled with quantum fields will have a certain "ergodic" property as it shrinks. The fields will become excited and produce chaotic fluctuations which will prevent cycling as spontaneously created matter with a different equation of state will dominate the energy field. Lastly, these inhomogeneous fluctuations would result in the appearance of a fluid of black holes leading to a "Black Crunch."

A second cylic model is Roger Penrose's Conformal Cyclic Cosmology. Penrose suggests that the initial "singularity" is, in reality, the same thing as the open ended de-Sitter like expansion which our universe seems about to experience. However, the main problem with such an equivalence is that the entropy of the initial state of the universe is vanishingly small, whereas the entropy of the de-Sitter like end state is maximized. Penrose, however, has opted to invoke a non-unitary loss of information at black holes in order to equalise this entropy. However, this approach does not succeed as information is not lost to black holes. Lastly, Penrose has recently claimed observational support of concentric rings of low variance in the CMB data provided by the WMAP. However, two papers have been published both of which were unable to replicate Penrose's results:

A fourth way to avoid the BGV theorem where the arrow of time reverses at the t = -infinity hypersurface so that the universe expands into both halves of the full de-Sitter space. It is possible, then, to evade the theorem through a gross deconstruction of the notion of time. Suppose one asserts that in the past contracting phase the direction of time is reversed. Time then flows in both directions away from the singularity. However, this model denies the evolutionary continuity of the universe which is topologically prior to t and our universe. The other side of the de Sitter space is not our past. For the moments of that time are not earlier than t or any of the moments later than t in our universe. There is no connection or temporal relation whatsoever of our universe to that other reality. Efforts to de-construct time thus fundamentally reject the evolutionary paradigm.

Quantum Gravity Models
The final exception to the Hawking-Penrose theorem are Quantum Gravity models. The Hawking-Penrose singularity theorem is based on General Relativity, but GR breaks down when we get to the very small. Thus, a Quantum description of Gravity is required to explain the earliest phases of the universe where GR breaks down. Quantum Gravity Models can be categorised into three groups:
1. String models (such as the Veneziano-Gasperini Pre-Big Bang inflation model and the Steinhardt-Turok Ekpyrotic Cyclic model.)
2. Loop quantum models (such as Bojowald, et al.'s cyclic LQG model, and Ellis et al.'s asymptotically static model.)
3. Semiclassical models (such as Vilenkin's Quantum Tunnelling model and the Hartle-Hawking No Boundary model.)

String Scenarios
String theory is probably the most popular area within Quantum Gravity, and perhaps the most well-known publicly. String theory postulates that the most fundamental elementary particles are tiny 1-dimensional vibrating strings and postulated a minimum size known as the planck length. This area of research has opened up a wide new range of ideas, and is a very fruitful area of research. As such, there are currently two string models that seek to describe a past-infinite pre-Big Bang era, the pre-Big Bang scenario of Gabriele Veneziano and Maurizio Gasperini, and the Ekpryotic Cyclic model of Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok.

Pre-Big Bang Inflation
This model postulates a pre-Big Bang state much like our post-Big Bang state. Since our state is eternal into the future, the previous state was eternal into the past. Whereas our state will develop into a nearly empty, widely dispersed collection of thin gas and radiation, this is what the previous state was developing from. Through gravitational contraction, regions of the pre-Big Bang universe turned into black holes and, due to quantum effects, once the black holes have reached a certain critical density, they undergo a "bounce" into a big bang. However, Veneziano suggests that this beginning is infinitely distant and never reachable. If this is to be interpreted realistically, then one might ask how we ever arrived at the present if this is the case. However, the models does have an initial phase:
(1) a static (Milne) universe, or string perturbative vacuum (SPV) phase, which is then followed by...
(2) a quasi-Milne phase, which is a "perturbed" SPV.
(3) an inflationary phase.
(4) a Post-Big Bang FRW phase typical of the standard big bang model.

The SPV is unstable, which is why it is not eternally static but leads to the following phases, meaning that it must be finite in the past.

Ekpyrotic Cyclic Scenario
The Ekpyrotic Cyclic Scenario is one that postulates a higher-dimensionality. That is to say, in this model, our universe exists within a brane, and these branes collide. Our big bang and subsequent expansion was caused when our brane collided with another. Eventually, our universe is subject to heat death death and then another big bang is started by the next collision. But has such a model been cycling forever? Steinhardt and Turok suggest that the universe began in a singularity but that it has been cycling forever. The Ehpyrotic scenario successfully evades the BKL chaos, but such a model is not an exception to the BGV theorem, and so requires a beginning. Borde, Guthe, and Vilenkin apply their theorem even to higher dimensional cosmologies such as the Steinhardt-Turok model and so this is does not avert a beginning.

Loop Quantum Gravity
Loop Quantum Gravity takes the view that space-time is quantised, in other words, divided into discrete constituent parts. As with string theory, there is a minimum size in nature that prevents infinite singularities from occurring. It is important to note that Bojowald, et al. are not committed a model with an infinite past, so falsifying an infinite cycle would not necessary falsify LQG per se. However, our focus here is whether or not LQG can really be infinite.

There are two problems that the LQG model must overcome and that is:
(1) there is no known physical mechanism for producing a cyclic "bounce."
(2) thermodynamic considerations show that the universe of this present day should have reached thermodynamic equilibrium (aka 'heat death.')

Martin Bojowald, the foremost exponent and defender of LQG today believes he has solutions to both of these. With regards to the first problem the major issue is overcoming the aforementioned BKL chaos. This chaos has shown to be calmed by a LQG approach. However, the second problem is far more challenging. How can there be truly cyclic behaviour when the second law of thermodynamics predicts that entropy increases from cycle to cycle? Using a semi-classical approach, the end of out current cycle should differ in entropy from the beginning by a factor of 10^22. Given no energy input, how can such an outcome be avoided? There are three proposed solutions to this:
1. The problem is epistemic only.
2. Our current classical understanding of entropy is misleading.
3. Cycle by cycle, the entropy state is genuinely reversible.

Regarding the first solution, Bojowald proposes that there is a large, unobservable part of the initial singularity that is genuine generic manifold, which is a state of maximum entropy featuring random inhomogeneity and anisotropy. The entropy of the initial and final singularities would be similar and an inflation mechanism of a small patch of this manifold would then produce the requisite homogeneity and isotropy. However, it is exceedingly improbable to find ourselves as the product of an inflationary event of a generic manifold. We should be seeing a universe roughly 1/10th the size of our own if it were the case as it is exceedingly improbable for a universe of our size to arise from such an event. The second, bigger, problem is that this epistemic account takes no account of entropy generation during the cycle, and over infinite time it would build up. The same thing goes for the second solution. Even if the classical approach to entropy is misleading, the quantum approach would still recognise entropy build up. Therefore, the only remaining option is that LQG would need to be fully reversible but, as Bojowald admits, the jury is still out. In addition to the entropy issue, however, is the issue of dark energy. If dark energy is the form of a cosmological constant, then it would have led to open-ended expansion the first time. However, if dark energy takes the form of quintessence it is possible that there could be reverse consistent with a collapse phase, but this leads to a new problem. Different modes of the matter field would become excited such that the next bounce would differ from the preceding one, and so one particular cycle can lead to open-ended expansion. It would eventually reach open-ended expansion, and so cannot be infinite.

Semi-classical Inflation
Semi-classical models refer to models that attempt to explain how inflation got started quantum-mechanically. In such models, the universe is treated quantum mechanically and thus described by a wave function rather by classical space-time. The two major examples of such attempts come to us from none other than Alexander Vilenkin himself, who utilised a quantum tunnelling model, and from James Hartle and the famed Stephen Hawking. These models are interesting in that they describe the universe quantum mechanically, but our universe DOES have a beginning. How then do they overcome the problem of origins?

Vilenkin's Quantum Tunnelling Model
Alexander Vilenkin, one of three authors of the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem, describes his approach thus:
"Many people suspected that in order to understand what actually happened in the beginning, we should treat the universe quantum-mechanically and describe it by a wave function rather than by a classical spacetime. This quantum approach to cosmology was initiated by DeWitt and Misner, and after a somewhat slow start received wide recognition in the last two decades or so. The picture that has emerged from this line of development is that a small closed universe can spontaneously nucleate out of nothing, where by ‘nothing’ I mean a state with no classical space and time. The cosmological wave function can be used to calculate the probability dis- tribution for the initial configurations of the nucleating universes. Once the universe nucleates, it is expected to go through a period of inflation, driven by the energy of a false vacuum. The vacuum energy is eventually thermalized, inflation ends, and from then on the universe follows the standard hot cosmological scenario."
Vilenkin uses an analogy of a particle that quantum tunnels through a potential well. An ordinary FRW universe classically does not have enough energy to escape into an open-ended expansion. However, in Quantum Mechanics, there is a probability that instead of recollapse, the universe will tunnel through the energy barrier and lead into an inflationary phase. Vilenkin's solution is that our universe arised from a state of null topology; a small, closed, spherical, and metastable universe. However, such a state has only existed, and in fact can only have existed for a finite amount of time, so whilst Vilenkin's model solves the problem of creation of OUR universe, it one-ups the problem. The universe clearly has a beginning in this approach.

Hartle-Hawking No Boundary Model
A similar approach us utilised by Stephen Hawking and James Hartle. They opt for Richard Feynman's approach to QM by seeking to find the probability for a certain final quantum state by a path integral "sum over histories." This is a superposition of states where every possible universe history is part of the wave function and each possible state has an associated probability of becoming actual. They estimate the subset of universes that are expected to dominate the calculations. They describe the earliest state that the universe emerges from as a Euclidian metric, which removes the initial singularity.

These models more or less take the same approach. Vilenkin notes:
"I understand that a universe of zero radius is not necessarily the same thing as no universe at all. But mathematically my quantum tunneling from nothing is described by the same “shuttle- cock” geometry as Hartle and Hawking [NB Figure 3.21]. (In fact, the shuttlecock first appeared in my 1982 paper.) This geometry is certainly not past-eternal, and there is no point on the Euclidean sphere which you can identify as the initial universe of zero size. So, if the Hartle- Hawking approach avoids the “paradoxes of creation”, I don’t see why my mine doesn’t."
Whilst the authors of these models might think otherwise, there are a number of factors why such a state prior to the universe is itself finite. Gott and Li offer a number of critique of these semi-classical approaches (which ironically also serve to undercut their preferred CTC model) and show that such a prior state is not past eternal.

(1) Transitions in QM are always between allowed classical states (Vilenkin and Hartle–Hawking’s approach has a transition from a classically forbidden region to a classically allowed region).
(2) The Vilenkin and Hartle–Hawking approaches should contain realistic energy fields (something closer to what we actually see in nature). If they did, then Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle would require that the initial state of their models have a finite and nonzero energy. It that is the case, then semi-classical quantum models actually start in a classically allowed metastable state, rather than “nothing.”

The semi-classical quantum gravity approaches of Vilenkin, Hartle, and Hawking ironically posit a universe that began to exist. A fact that is either not realised or glossed over. Probably a bit of both, considering physicists aren't philosophers (which Stephen Hawking's book The Grand Design makes abundantly clear.) So, yes, there are exceptions to both theorems, however either the exceptions are not viable, or there is another condition that requires a beginning.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Primary Source Analysis: Rousseau’s Profession of Faith of Savoyard Vicar (1762)

The piece in question is a section from the novel Emile by French enlightenment author, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, from the section of the book entitled Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar. Emile is a treatise on the nature of education and the nature of man, and the section of the book Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar being intended to provide an example of how religious matters should be discussed with young people. Emile is written in the form of a novel, and the ideals that Rousseau wishes to promote are expressed via the characters. Specifically, Rousseau, in writing Emile sought to describe a system of education that would enable, what he refers to in The Social Contract as “natural man” to survive a corrupt society. The character of Emile and his tutors being used to describe how this “natural man” would go about being educated. The Savoyard vicar is said to represent Rousseau’s own ideas on religion, and was supposedly based upon two Savoyard priests that Rousseau had known in his childhood: Abbé Gaime from Turin and Abbé Gâtier from Annecy.

Rousseau was a French Enlightenment philosophe and writer most famous for his brilliantly written essays. The French Enlightenment was strongly characterised by an attitude critical both of religion in general and Christianity in particular, and a number of Enlightenment thinkers outside of France held similar views also. However, Rousseau was different in that, whilst he was a deist, he disagreed regarding several key points. First of all, he denied the materialism of men such as d’Holbach, Diderot, et al. Secondly, he was highly critical of rationalism. Rousseau was famous for his emphasis on emotion and romanticism. One of Rousseau’s key ideas was that of “natural man.” Rousseau believed that man should live by his emotions and instincts; man should act naturally. As such, he defended what he referred to as “natural religion,” which is a sentiment expressed in Emile. The language employed in Savoyard Vicar is emotive and sensual. For example, consider how the Savoyard Vicar describes how he knows that God exists: “I perceive the Deity in all his works; I feel him within me & behold him in every object around me…” and: “He remains at an equal distance from my senses & understanding (beyond reason.) (Emphasis mine.) Thus the God of Rousseau, as expressed by the Savoyard Vicar, is present in His creation and can be experienced, unlike the impersonal God of traditional Deism.

Rousseau is therefore arguing that God cannot be known via reason and the senses, but instead can only be known via personal religious experience. However, since God can only be known via such experiences, God’s nature, or ‘essence’ is thus fundamentally unknown (although Rousseau is adamant that omnibenevolence is an essential characteristic and attribute of God.) Rousseau, however, goes on to describe religious pluralism, or universalism. He maintains that what matters is your relationship with God, and so it does not matter what religious tradition you grew up in. In other words, all religions can lead to God. This is in sharp distinction to the other Enlightenment Deists, who believe that God can be demonstrated to exist via reason and logical arguments, and Christian Enlightenment figures such as John Locke who maintained the same. One slight discrepancy, however, is how, throughout the rest of the novel, religion plays no role in Emile’s life.

Rousseau’s argument is not particularly convincing, even if it does have some justification. Whilst it could be argued that belief in God is properly basic based on religious experience, so that there are no de jure objections to theism, the argument that God cannot be argued as existing via reason is unjustified. Rousseau himself argues that God is present within nature, but if that is the case than Rousseau’s argument, that God is inaccessible to reason and the senses, is undermined! In other words, he contradicts his own argument. Furthermore, it can be argued that subjective religious experiences ARE a form of sensory data. They might not be rational, but I do not think it can be argued that they are not a form of sense data. After all, atheists would presumably put religious experience solely to some form of neural activity, such as endorphins or similar (although such an argument could be criticised on the grounds that it commits the genetic fallacy.) Back to Rousseau’s emphasis on feeling, however, there are several good arguments for theism that ARE based on reason, the cosmological argument, the teleological argument, the axiological argument, the ontological argument, and the ratiological argument. These are arguments that theists, including many enlightenment thinkers themselves, have consistently used for centuries.

Thus I think Rousseau can be criticised on the grounds that he simply assumes his argument to be true. With that said, I do think there is some merit to the argument that God can be known via religious experience. I just don’t think it is the sole basis upon which can affirm a viable worldview. Rousseau was trying to justify religious belief in God, yet ironically enough his view that God can only be known through emotion and subjective experience, actually serves to undercut warrant in belief in God. Indeed, Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, David Hume, upon hearing that copies of Emile were being burned, remarked that: “[Rousseau] has not had the precaution to throw any veil over his sentiments; and, as he scorns to dissemble his contempt for established opinions, he could not wonder that all the zealots were in arms against him. The liberty of the press is not so secured in any country ... as not to render such an open attack on popular prejudice somewhat dangerous.” Rousseau was devastated and crushed by such words. Nonetheless, many of the ideals expressed in Emile became important in the field of pedagogy, despite its being burned, and became the basis for a new system of education. Whilst his religious ideas were certainly nuanced, and in some cases insightful, I think they fell short of the mark.

The Fundamental Underlying Principles of the US Constitution

By 1783, the American War of Independence had ended with the Treaty of Paris. The fledgling nation of America had emerged victorious, overcoming the oppressive might of the British Empire. However, independence was thrust on the new nation as equally as it had been won. For whilst they had the ability to govern themselves, and without interference, it left them the entirely precarious position of having to govern the country for themselves. Quite simply, how were they going to do it? To make matters more complicated, they faced various economic and political problems. America’s place in international politics was very much indebted to French protection and guarantee, and the British were deliberately engaging in trading policies that provided them a monopoly over America. To top it all, Congress was practically useless and each state effectively went its own way. The US was in debt with no clear or discernible way of paying them off.

Despite obtaining its freedom and independence, America was therefore faced with three major obstacles to its progress as a nation. How was America going to solve its financial debt? How was America going to triumph over British merchants? How was America going to get out from under the political shadow of France and Great Britain? These three problems combined together to pose the following question: how was America going to devise a permanent framework for the government of the American nation? Things had gotten to the point that some in Massachusetts even attempted rebellion, although were dispersed by state militia. The time had come to amend the Articles of Confederation. The solution was that the US needed a strong national federal government, but the problem lay in decided how it should be run. Furthermore, they also had the anti-federalists to contend with, who were suspicious and distrustful of a national federal government.

It was decided that the states needed to meet together in convention to discuss America’s future, however, the states were reluctant to give-up their autonomy and quasi-independence, with the smaller states in particular quite nervous about their future. However, headway was made when James Madison arranged a conference between Virginia and Maryland to settle problems regarding the joint navigation of the Potomac River. The issue wasn’t settled, but it began to cement the idea of conference between the states. Virginia then tried arranging a conference in Maryland to discuss the trade of the United States, but only five delegates turned up. Yet this turned out for the better, as they concluded that the trade problems could only be solved once the Articles of Confederation were re-drafted, and a conference, this time in Philadelphia, was arranged. When the delegates met, one thing was clear, and that was an emphasis on the American experience. What was produced must be fit for Americans, justified solely by American hopes and aspirations.

They were unanimously nationalists and republicans. The central driving principle behind the convention was a need for American unity and solidarity in the face of economic and political troubles. The problem with the Articles of Confederacy was that they represented states, rather than the whole nation. They agreed on a national government, comprised of two chambers: the Senate and House of Representatives. However, disagreements soon arose. The large states wanted direct elections for both houses with representation for both being based upon population, whereas the smaller states wanted equal representation. Eventually, a compromise solution was reached with representatives being chosen by population, and two senators per state were chosen by state government, thus benefitting both large and small states. Another quarrel broke out over trade and slavery, but this too was resolved with compromise. On the 15th of September 1787, the delegates signed the constitution, leaving the arduous task of ratification ahead of them.

In the drive for ratification, two separate parties arose, one in support of the new constitution, the federalists, and one party against it, the anti-federalists. John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison wrote a series of essay published under the pseudonym ‘Publius’ that became known as the Federalist Papers, and circulated these to encourage people to ratify the constitution. However, the anti-federalists published their own set of anti-federalist papers. The chief issue of concern was that the anti-federalists feared that the new government would become a tyrannical one. They argued that a lack of bill of rights could lead to all sorts of abuses, and demolish the basis for individual liberty and freedom. Arguing against the bill of rights, however, in the federalist papers, Alexander Hamilton feared that such a bill would leave unmentioned rights unprotected. However, the states began to ratify one by one, and Madison promised that a bill of rights would be passed as a constitutional amendment when the new government met. This was apparently enough, as Virginia voted to ratify, and the new constitution was accepted.

With the new power of direct taxation, combined with a well-organised executive branch of the government, the United States could now raise a standing army, and even a navy. This meant that, soon, America would no longer be subservient to France and Spain, and would even be able to directly challenge Spain for control of the American West. The popular representation allowed for in the constitution meant that authorities would be subjected to elections. The politicians represented the people, and had the power to protect the people. The constitution also allowed for increased prosperity and pursuit of happiness. In short, even the anti-federalists were happy. In the history of the formation and ratification of this constitution then, we see a number of core underlying principles that were fundamental to the entire enterprise. The constitution was first and foremost a nationalistic document, something which was initially alarming to some, especially the anti-federalists. In the face of its economic and political problems, America needed unity, and it needed a strong national government. More than that, it was inherently a democratic and republican document. The Americans recognised all too well the fallen nature of man, and so came up with a system of government with checks and measures, and separation of powers to prevent tyrannical abuses of power.

Lastly, the constitution was founded on the notion of individual freedom and liberty. The chief concern of the anti-federalists was a lack of bill of rights, which they feared could lead to abuses of citizens’ rights. The bill of rights was eventually passed in later, after ratification, as an amendment, and served to outline a core set of human rights protected by law. Although one issue that remained a sticky subject was slavery, and was not fully resolved during the constitutional convention in Philadelphia. This issue would come back later to form the backdrop for the American Civil War, yet for now, this issue was put to one side. It would not be until 1806 that the Atlantic Slave Trade was halted, yet this does not change the fact that liberty and freedom were key values to the men involved in drafting the constitution, and as such became incorporated into it.

Bibliography: -

Hugh Brogan, The Penguin History of the USA, 2nd edition, (1999)
John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison, The Federalist Papers
Patrick Henry, George Clinton, Robert Yates, et al., The Anti-Federalist Papers
The US Constitution

Friday, 28 October 2011

More on the Principle of Causation

I just thought I'd do another little blogpost, this time solely on the first premise of Kalam. Johnnyp76 is still adamant, that it is fallacious, despite totally failing to show how. Indeed, despite having his arguments torn to shreds, he just keeps repeating the same thing over and over again.

Properties and Compositional Fallacies
Johnnyp76s argument, as you may recall, is that nothing begins to exist. However, I have already shown why this is fallacious. This argument commits a fallacy of composition (a fact that he has not yet addressed) and that is:
1. Matter is neither created nor destroyed.
2. Things within the universe are made of matter.
3. Therefore, things within the universe are neither created nor destroyed.

Now, consider the following argument:
1. Human cells are invisible to the naked eye.
2. Human beings are made of human cells.
3. Therefore, human beings are invisible to the naked eye.

This argument is quite clearly fallacious, and, in the same way, so is the argument of Johnnyp76. A point that Johnnypy76 just has NOT dealt with is that things possess necessary and essential properties that make those things what they are. Johnnyp76 complains that when does a chair stop becoming a chair? Because we cannot clearly define what makes a chair a chair, then there are no properties to be defined. This argument is even more absurd. There are clearly distinguishing features that allow me to identify a chair, and that also allow me to differentiate between a chair, and say a person. If objects and beings do not have essential properties that set them apart from other things, then that would make everything identical... but everything is clearly not identical.

Of course, objects and beings DO have essential properties. For example, the properties essential to personhood are as follows. P is a person if and only if:
i. P is a rational being.
ii. P is a being to which states of consciousness can be attributed.
iii. Others regard (or can regard) P as a being to which states of consciousness can be attributed.
iv. P is capable of regarding other beings as beings to which states of consciousness can be attributed.
v. P is capable of communication.
vi. P is self-conscious; that is P is capable of regarding him/her/itself as a subject of states of consciousness.

An essential property of being human would be:
-has human DNA.
-is a mammal.

It certainly would not be hard to come up with a more accurate list of properties, but the point remains, just because you can't readily or even precisely identify every property, the claim that properties are just abstractions is patently false. There is a clear discernible difference between a car and a slab of metal.

Efficient Causes
The biggest problem that the universe is made up of efficient causes and effects, even if we grant the proposition that properties are meaningless abstractions. For instance, if we posit a stationary ball, if it were to be put into motion by something else, then that is an example of efficient causality. It was CAUSED to move. We thus have a new effect, which was caused to occur. This is the sense in which Kalam takes the words CAUSE and BEGINS TO EXIST, in terms of efficient causality. William Lane Craig is quite clear that when Kalam says cause, it means 'whatever brings about its effect.' This is true whether it is being caused ex materia or ex nihilo. It is metaphysically impossible for an effect not to have a cause. This goes doubly so when we are talking about creatio ex nihilo. Johnnyp76 needs to show that an effect coming into being uncaused is metaphysically possible, yet this he cannot do, which presumably explains why he chooses to parade around in front of us with these jackanory objections.

Of course, Johnnyp76 hasn't even shown how I can exist both before and after my actual life time. His argument that the materials that made me up existed then is simply fallacious, for in what sense can a piece of moss or a dinosaur be said to be me? In what sense can a chunk of matter that has no properties in common with the chunk of matter that now makes up my body be said to be me? Indeed, this is simply Johnnyp76 assuming physicalism to be true in the face of all kinds of evidence. I hate to be the one to break it to you Johnny, but if your worldview does not fit the facts, then it is time to change your worldview to fit the facts, not the other way around.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Occupy Wall Street: You're Doing It Wrong

The Occupy Wall Street style movements continue, and I have, as of yet, still not seen anyone associated with aforementioned band of disorganised rabble-rousers promote a point of view that has any familiarity with basic economics. People are angry, which is understandable. However, people don't seem to know what it is they are actually angry with. Who/what is to blame for the current economic crisis? Well, allow me to tell you. Allowing government control over markets has opened the door wide open for lobbying. Corrupt politicians accept money from corrupt corporations to enact regulations favourable to the corporations doing the donating, thus creating monopolies, and choking the opposition. Whereas if the government had little to no control over the market, such Lobbying would not take place. After all, why would corporations give money to politicians if they can do nothing to benefit them? Allowing governmental control over trade is also deleterious to small businesses and companies. This is not just a result of lobbying. For instance, if one corporations gets exposed as doing all sorts of horrendous things and there is a public uproar that the government step in a do something, whilst the new regulations will stop this corporation, it will make it harder for businesses that do not. The last aspect of all of this, government bail outs. When banks, and corporations go under. It does not affect taxpayers in any way. When the government steps in and bails these banks and corporations out, then it affects us, because governments get their money from taxpayers. Now, what system does this most sound like to you? The Occupy Wall Street crowd seem to think capitalism is to blame. This is, of course, the wrong answer. Government control over trade regulations, government intervention in corporate affairs, and government bail outs are a form of class war against working people, and the lower classes. However, far from being capitalism, these things are the trademarks of socialism. Socialism is when the means of trade, salaries, the means of production, etc. are controlled by the government. As such, this requires a big government with maximal control, which opens the door for lobbying (and possibly outright fascism, which is an extreme authoritarian political ideology where the government is a single party totalitarian government.) In capitalism, the market is free from government control. Trade regulations, prices, salaries, et al. are not set by the government. In such a systems, banks and corporations who fail economically are left to die. The shareholders lose out, but the people do not suffer. The assets of these corporations are picked up and new corporations rise. So, how did we get into this mess? Easy: socialism and big government. If you want to blame someone, blame the politicians who obsequiously agreed to rescue the banks and corporations from the consequences of their own poor decisions. Blame those who, despite their palpable failure, are determined to do exactly the same thing over and over again. In order for us to progress economically, we need to limit government control over the market.

Now, a second target of the Occupy Wall Street are "the rich." I keep hearing complaints about the top 1% or top 10%. The top 10% of earners in the UK pay for 53.3% of our income tax, with the top 1% paying 24.1%. Without these people, our economy would collapse. Of course, these people complain about being "in poverty" and continue to attack "the rich" when they have smart phones, broadband internet connections, places to live, cars, Netflix subscriptions, DVD and blu-ray players and movies, computer and video games and consoles, HD TV's, Sky television, etc. A sizeable portion of them also waste money on things such cigarettes, alcohol, fast-food, marijuana, and the like. A lot of these people use sites like Facebook (which has it's origins in a stolen idea and a long of history of a "screw our users and their 'privacy', we only care about advertising profits" mentality), purchase smart phones manufactured by such "small" and "noble" corporations like "Sony," and own vehicles from large (but certainly not corrupt in anyway) auto-makers like "GM." And all these celebrities/musicians lending their support? They all work for corrupt and greedy Hollywood studio's or the RIAA. In fact, it was stupid people spending money they did not have on things they did not need which is part of the reason why we are currently having a recession. It all started with credit companies and the like giving money out on credit to people with poor credit ratings. Whilst the credit companies can of course be blamed, it was the chubby-fingered idiot who took out a load of money on credit so they could go on holiday to Málaga, despite not being able to afford to pay it back. The main target should be corrupt politicians. As long as politicians are meddling with the market, this will lead to all sorts of disastrous economic crises. Socialism is a singular failure; communism is even more so. Furthermore, the less the government controls, the less money they need, therefore the lower our taxes will be. Corrupt corporations will suffer the full results of their own failings and will go under without corrupt politicians to bail them out, and it won't affect the taxpayer's at all.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Occupy Wall Street?

I did write a brilliantly crafted letter to the Guardian, noting the inconsistencies of the Occupy Wall Street "movement" however, despite saving it to drafts, it still disappeared the moment I sent it. So now I have to type out a new response from memory.

Whilst this is likely to be as unwelcome to the Occupy Wall Street crowd as a stream of sewage coming unbidden into one's home, I nonetheless felt compelled to write it. The main problem I have is that Occupy Wall Street isn't a coherent movement, but a loose randomly assorted collection of rabble-rousers. They don't really seem to know what it is they are angry about, other than vague statements and propositions such as "ending capitalism" and some kind of gripe with "the rich." The second problem lies in the fact that for all their talk of anti-capitalism and anti-corporations, they still parade around with expensive video equipment, camera phones and the like. There's definitely no shortage of dirt-poor people who are truly suffering for reasons mostly or completely outside of their control but many people who consider themselves to be "in poverty" and complain all the time about "the rich" are people with iPhones, broadband internet connections, places to live, nice cars, Netflix subscriptions, blu-ray players/movies, video games/video game consoles, HD TV's, Sky television, etc. A sizeable portion of them also waste money on things such cigarettes, alcohol, fast-food, pot, and the like. It's ridiculous. Poverty to these people is having to buy a generic brand of fizzy drink (soda.) A lot of these people use sites like Facebook (which has it's origins in a stolen idea and a long of history of "screw our users and their 'privacy', we only care about advertising profits"), purchase smart phones manufactured by such "small" and "noble" corporations like "Sony," and own vehicles from large (but certainly not corrupt in anyway) automakers like "GM." And all these celebrities/musicians lending their support? They all work for corrupt and greedy Hollywood studio's or the RIAA.

Secondly, they keep griping on about "the rich" not paying enough taxes, when the top 10% of earners in the UK pay roughly 53.3% of all income tax. If you impoverish, exile or otherwise disincentiveise the people who pay more than half our taxes, our economy will collapse. A second factor behind the credit crunch was stupid people taking money out on credit to buy things they could not afford, and could not afford to pay it all back. Whilst the credit companies who loaned this money to these slapdash chubby-fingered morons are partially to blame, again it is the morons who thought it would be a good idea to book a holiday, and spend tons of money they did not have. I remember an interview on TV where a family admitted to booking their annual holiday and then said to the interviewer that they had no idea how they were going to pay for it. Gee, how about BY NOT GOING ON HOLIDAY?! Moving on, further inconsistencies lie in the fact that they recognise that the government is corrupt and the corporations control government, yet think the solution is MORE government intervention. Furthermore, they keep blaming capitalism for the economic crisis. One of the main reasons we are in this mess is because of governments bailing out corporations, banks, and even entire countries. Government bail outs are a form of class war against working people, it is just not capitalism. Government interference and regulation is prima facie socialism. If you want to be angry at someone, be angry at the politicians who obsequiously agreed to rescue the financiers from the consequences of their malinvestments. Blame those who, despite their palpable failure, are determined to do exactly the same thing over and over again.

However, despite these stringent criticisms, I do not disagree with their right protest, and I even agree with them that the government is corrupt and in need of reform. The Occupy Wall Street protesters just happen to be mistaken, and about a great many things. I sincerely hope that the Occupy Wall Street protesters become more acquainted and familiarised with economics and come together as a group with a coherent message. Then again, my words will presumably fall upon deaf ears. Whilst there are no shortage of liars, people in general just tend to prefer to hear what they want to hear, rather than allow the light of logic, reason, and evidence to penetrate the penumbra of their quaint though ludicrous notions about economics. I have to suffer the poorly thought-out, badly-researched, stupid, and offensive opinions of the hoards of ponderous buffoons who hold to these pernicious mindsets on a daily basis.

I look around, and I weep. Although perhaps the most absurd lunacy is how Tea Party activates get lampooned as crazies and knuckle-dragging morons despite being more organised, more clued up about economic principles and markedly less violent. The bizarre thing is, I am not an even an American, yet I find myself siding with the Tea Party. Less government spending is the only way we are going to go forward economically. Lower government spending means lower taxes. A cursory glance at history is enough to reveal the deleterious effects of socialism and communism and the sheer havoc they have wrought on the economies of the countries these systems have been inflicted upon. The problems we are facing right now are the faults of socialist governments, like the UKs own centre-left Labour Party under Gordon Brown (Brown has even written books on socialism.) I implore my fellow would-be revolutionaries to at least think things through because capitalism simply isn't to blame.

This is a little something extra. Now left wing loonies and other politically and economically illiterate individuals who support Occupy Wall Street have actually tried, once again, badmouthing the Tea party. It has been widely noted how violent and nefarious the goings on at Occupy Wall Street are, however, some are even denying it and calling it Tea Party bullshit. Oh really? Challenge accepted.

Occupy Wall Street protesters causing problems for locals:

Protester defecating on a police cruiser (amongst others.)

Occupy LA speaking calling for the death of the "bourgeois."

Occupy Wall Street protesters admit to being paid:

Occupy Wall Street has the support of the Iranian government:

Yeah, the same Iranian government who tried assassinating a Saudi Arabian ambassador on US soil. It gets better, they even have the support of the American Nazi Party:

Public sex, drug usage, noise pollution, etc. Residents calling for NYPD intervention:

If you are going to slander the Tea Party and extol the non-existent virtues of the Occupy Wall Street crowd then at least have the decency to check the damn facts.