Monday, November 30, 2015

Jonathan Haidt on Hate

For conservatives the liberal psychology professor Jonathan Haidt is an impossibility. A liberal and a psychologist who wrote a book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion in which he found, to his surprise, that conservatives are not just racists, sexists, and homophobes, but people.

Deciding that humans have a "righteous mind" that is set up to make moral distinctions and judgements Haidt constructed a matrix of moral axes: care/harm, liberty/oppression, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, sanctity/degradation. Then he applied the matrix to the belief system of American liberals, libertarians, and conservatives. He found that liberals defined themselves mainly on the care/harm axis, moderately on the liberty/oppression axis and somewhat on the fairness/cheating axis. Libertarians were really big on liberty/oppression, so-so on fairness/cheating. Conservatives, on the other hand, were pretty well balanced on all six axes.

Wow. Like wow. Since then, Jonathan Haidt has developed a strange new respect for conservatives. For if conservative moral minds were balanced across the six axes, that kinda tells you something about the balanced nature of conservatism.

Recently he went to give a speech at a prestigious private school (probably Lakeside School in Seattle) and ran slam-bang into the modern snowflake fascist culture during the Q&A after his speech. The little snowflake teenage girls at that august institution had fully ingested the present culture that we have been seeing all across America's elite universities this fall.
But then the discussion began, and it was the most unremittingly hostile questioning I’ve ever had. I don’t mind when people ask hard or critical questions, but I was surprised that I had misread the audience so thoroughly. My talk had little to do with gender, but the second question was “So you think rape is OK?”
 But it was just the girls asking questions and snapping their fingers. The boys said nothing at all, except at the end when they gave him a standing ovation. What was going on? Haidt found out in a smaller breakout session.
[Haidt:] When there is a class discussion about gender issues, do you feel free to speak up and say what you are thinking? Or do you feel that you are walking on eggshells and you must heavily censor yourself? Just the girls in the class, raise your hand if you feel you can speak up? [about 70% said they feel free, vs about 10% who said eggshells ]. Now just the boys? [about 80% said eggshells, nobody said they feel free].
And so on, with race and politics. Same thing. There was only one boy who was Republican and also dared to speak out on political issues. At the end of the discussion, Haidt told them it was high time for the school to make "viewpoint diversity a priority." (Hey Jonathan, why do you think that Bill Gates turned out a conventional liberal?)

Golly. Who would have thunk it in America?

It shows, I think, the fundamental error at the heart of liberalism. When you bring moral issues into politics, it means that all moral issues become grist for the political mill. Moral issues become political issues. And politics always comes down to a fight: my way or the highway.

This is why in America the Founders proposed a separation between Church and State. In America you can -- or you could -- choose your own moral community, and if you don't like one you can choose another. But we are all more or less stuck with the state we have, so when we bring moral issues into politics then we inevitably find that we must fight to the death over it.

You can tell from the outbreak of snowflake fascists at the nation's universities (and apparently at its prestigious private high schools) this fall that liberals really don't understand this. They don't understand that when they go on a PC rampage that they are telling us all "my way or the highway." They don't understand that they are creating enemies all across America because most people don't want to be made to care about racism, sexism, and climate change, and not allowed to have a dissenting position. You see everyone, especially including liberals, hates it when somebody is playing the morality card on them.

It all takes me back to the last Great Awakening of liberal hysteria in the 1960s. Average Americans started to hate it almost immediately, and so elected Richard Nixon twice over. But it really wasn't until the B-movie actor won the presidency by two landslides that liberals got the message and pretended, for a couple of elections, that they were "New Democrats."

Now, egged on by George Soros' money and Barack Obama's crazed faith in community organizing, they are back in full liberal Puritanical fever, complete with witch-hunts for the fabled right-wing extremist unicorn, and the rest of America hates it.

I think that liberals are going to get a terrible shock in November 2016. Just like those boys at that private high schools, about half of America is forced to button its lip at work, at school, and elsewhere wherever ruling-class liberals make the rules. And that half of America hates it.

But here's the good news. Just like back in the 1970s it will take a few election cycles before liberals realize what has happened. After all, nobody they know voted for Trump/Cruz/Rubio, whoever.  Maybe, in the interregnum, before liberals come to their senses, we can fix the economy, and roll back a bit of the liberal bossy-boots state.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Assimilation and the Crime of the Century

Once upon a time there were a bunch of Educated Youth around and they decided to help the suffering factory workers, the people they called the working class. Looking back, these elite "best men" had two options: they could teach the factory workers how to wive and thrive in the capitalist, post-industrial-revolution society and economy that had changed everything; or they could assist the factory workers with "social protection" and make them comfortable in their factory work.

The Educated Youth chose the latter option. They captured the ramparts of cultural and political power and forced society to make life comfortable for the people that toiled in the factories under near slave-labor discipline. They created wage and hour laws; the legitimized restraint of trade in labor; they initiated government pension and health care plans; they forced safety legislation on employers. And life got pretty comfortable for the factory workers. In the heyday of factory work, for one brief moment, a kid could graduate from high school and go down the road to the local factory, and expect to work there, a good job at good wages, for a lifetime.

But then factory work ended, the grandchildren of the educated youth fell out of love for the working class, and the working class sank like a stone. Of course it did: protected and cosseted and confirmed in its pre-modern culture, it was utterly unprepared for the real world of the modern, global economy.

Over at According to Hoyt, author and immigrant Sarah A. Hoyt discusses this issue from the US immigrant's perspective in "Prepare to be Assimilated." She discusses her choice to assimilate to US culture against maintaining the culture of the old country, Portugal.
But today I want to talk about assimilation, or, in sociological terms, acculturation.  I, and Kate Paulk, and Dave Freer, and a ton of the rest of us are immigrants who went to another country with the intention of living there the rest of our lives and who had incentives to fit in and be part of that country...

But even then, with the best will to fit in, it’s a HARD thing.  Really hard.
Sarah then writes at great length just how hard it was for a literate girl from a village in Portugal to "fit in" to America. Today, she feels 90% American and 10% Portuguese, but it took a long time to get there.

Yet today's Educated Youth encourages immigrants to retain their culture and denies the hard road that any immigrant must travel in order to "fit in." And the popular culture encourages non-whites to cleave to their tribal identity instead of fitting into the white middle-class culture of America.
This is the message these new refugee-immigrants will get, though TV, through movies, through social workers.  How important it is they hold on to their all vital tribalism.  Not just in food and clothing, but in thought.  How it’s somehow “racism” to demand they fit in into their new homeland.
Only it doesn't work. It didn't work for the working class; it isn't working for African Americans that have been culturally separated and socially demoralized by the Great Society and race preferences. It's turned college women into bullying special snowflakes.

The Educated Youth are now hard at work on Hispanics, to get them to define themselves as separate from America. And then there are the Muslims.

The message from Sarah A. Hoyt to immigrants is "Don't." Don't listen to the liberals and the identity activists and the Educated Youth. Learn to love the land and the people you have chosen. Only she makes the point more strongly.
Fit in or f*ck off.
Well, she didn't come up with that on her own. She got it from an immigrant to Australia, Dave Freer, from South Africa. And he got it, the first two words, from another immigrant to Australia.

(Myself, I've always avoided the company of fellow ex-pat Brits in the US. I just don't like their "in the old country" talk. That's why the Aussies say: "go back to Britain you whingeing Pom." All I want to do is to be an American.)

This stuff is getting a bit old. Now that we have seen what happened to the Soviet Union. Now that we see what Mao's China was all about. Now that the old white working class in Britain and the US is descended into alcoholism and drug dependency. Now that we know without a doubt where the left's politics leads.

It's time to say that progressive politics is the Crime of the Century.

Because the only thing for peasants first arriving in the city, or immigrants arriving in America, is to "fit in or f*ck off." Anything else is misery and failure.

And anyone that encourages the new arrivals in their separation and segregation is a monster.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

My Thanks to America

My love for America began on my first morning in America. It was in December 1965 when I woke up early in my parents' apartment in Denver, Colorado, and saw the crystal clear dawn come up on the great prairie horizon.

It only got better. I loved the way that everything worked, from the heating that heated to the cars that lumbered along confidently with their great iron V8s. I loved the confidence of 6th Avenue, six lanes  of highway that led straight to the Rockies. I loved the Chevies powering up US40 into the mountains. And I loved the can-do spirit of the nation.

Since then America has been good to me. It has given me work and pleasure, a wife, children, and now six grandchildren. And the prosperity to relax and enjoy it all.

Of course, America has a lot of problems, and I am eager to solve them. But problems are the stuff of life; it in only in meeting challenges and difficulties that we humans realize our humanity. We long for paradise and the Isle of the Blessed, but only really achieve paradise by rising to the challenge of life. For a life without challenge and without adversity is not a life at all, but a pretty tableau inside someone's fantasy of life; it is really a hell.

No doubt there are problems in America; no doubt there are injustices. No doubt there are threats of every kind. But I am thankful for the life I have been given in America, and I always will.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Left Has Always Been Totalitarian, Robert Ehrlich

In NRO today Robert Ehrlich, former Republican governor of Maryland, has some sensible things to say about the ungenerous and anti-democratic Left in America. His piece is titled "A Syllabus of the Dangerous Errors of the Left." (The link and the tag say things like "Progressivism and Democratic Party: Exteme and Dangerous" so you can see that the editors had a bit of a struggle with the lead.) tag say things like "Progressivism and Democratic Party: Exteme and Dangerous" so you can see that the editors had a bit of a struggle with the lead.)</p> <p> <br></p> <p> Robert Ehrlich is a professional politician, so he knows how to be nice. I think he is being too kind by suggesting that today's liberals are out of sync. In my view the Left has always been totalitarian and extreme and intolerant. The only reason that we think of it in rose-tinted nostalgic terms is that the Left has always had a good press. </p> <p> <br></p> <p> Let's look at Ehrlich's points.</p> <p> <br></p> <p> <i>Possibly the most perplexing aspect of modern progressivism is its intolerance of alternative viewpoints.</i></p> <p> <i><br></i></p> <p> I'd say that was too generous. The Left has always been intolerant of alternative viewpoints, starting with the origin of the word "left" in the French Revolution and its Terror and certainly beginning not later than Marx with his no-holds-barred rhetoric about the bourgeoisie and "bribed apologists" and his idea that capitalism was a continuation of the exploitation of the feudal era, only worse. Then we got the Frankfurt School and Herbert Marcuse and the notion that intolerance from the left wasn't intolerance, because the left cared, which basically gave the left a "00" prefix to hunt down its enemies. Now we have the utter folly of safe spaces, microagressions, and hate speech. This is nothing new, just leftist politics by other means.</p> <p> <br></p> <p> <i>A progressive anti-Israel bias has been clear since Day One of the Obama administration.</i></p> <p> <br></p> <p> Well, since the left has been anti-capitalist since Day One, I'd say that anti-Israel bias fits it like a glove. Actually, the left has been against Israel for decades, because the left always chooses the "exploited" party in any political dyad. Palestinians equal oppressed; Israelis equal colonizers. QED.</p> <p> <br></p> <p> <i>You know the old saying that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that some people aren’t out to get you.</i></p> <p> <br></p> <p> This is a reference to the John Doe investigation of Wisconsin Republican governor Scott Walker, and little Lois Lerner at the IRS throwing mud in the eyes of conservative non-profit groups. I have to admit that this is new, at least in its egregious violation of the letter and the spirit of US law. But it clearly issues from the Left's war on western law, that it is just a means to assist the propertied and make war on the powerless. It's easy to proceed from there to the idea that all Republicans are evil, because they oppose us, the virtuous left, and because, anyway, Republicans are all racists, sexists, and homophobes.</p> <p> <br></p> <p> <span style="font-size: 16px; line-height: 16px;"><i>We throw the term “sanctuary city” around so lightly today, it’s now part of our lexicon.</i></span><br style="outline: 0px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 16px;"><br></p> <p> Hey kids, this is nothing more than liberals arrogating to themselves a "selective approach to federal immigration law," writes Ehrlich. But I'd paint the sanctuary city movement in darker hues. In the old days, after all, this selective approach to federal law was called "nullification." But, of course, every ruling class arrogates to itself the right to bend the law a little in its own interest. This is nothing new. </p> <p> <br></p> <p> <i>Black Lives Matter!</i></p> <p> <br></p> <p> Ehrlich is really too polite about this. The Black Lives Matter movement is racism, straight up. Period. And the encouragement of black racism by ruling class white liberals is the crime of the century, because it makes blacks sequester themselves into a racial ghetto instead of getting out and "fitting in."</p> <p> <br></p> <p> Really, I think that liberals, sealed off in their ideological echo chamber, are fools. By their shameless use of government power they are setting up America for a decade of Republican rule. They do not understand that <i>all government is injustice</i>. They think that the way to right injustice is with government power, when really the way to right injustice is by reducing government power. Everyone understands about protesting against government injustice; they do not understand that once they get government power they are immediately doing what they protested against.</p> <p> <br></p> <p> The point is that any government will do things that a lot of people will experience as injustice. The wise politicians knows this and tries to structure programs to minimize injustice to the minority, or at least hide it from view. When liberals impose affirmative action or speech codes they imagine they are redressing age-old grievances. Maybe they are. But they are also crushing innocents under the millstones of government power, and the innocents don't take that sort of treatment lightly.</p> </div>

But I think that Ehrlich is being too gentle with the left. So let's go through his syllabus item by item and shine his list of errors up a bit.

Possibly the most perplexing aspect of modern progressivism is its intolerance of alternative viewpoints.

Really? Hasn't the left always been intolerant of alternative viewpoints? That was the whole point of Marx's inflammatory rhetoric: to put opponents on the defensive, to make out modern popular governments as merely the executive committee of the bourgeoisie, and defenders of the middle-class republics as "bribed apologists" of the evil capitalists. And then there was Lenin and his secret police. And Stalin with his purges. And Mao and his cultural revolution. And Herbert Marcuse with his intolerant tolerance. Hey, politics is violence, after all.

A progressive anti-Israel bias has been clear since Day One of the Obama administration.

No kidding. And the left has been anti-Israel way longer than that, at least since the 1967 war. The left always sides with the non-western victims against the supposed colonizers, and non-whites against whites. In recent years this anti-Israel thing has blossomed into outright anti-semitism, but who cares?

You know the old saying that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that some people aren’t out to get you.

Yeah. The left has always been out to get people that advocate against the left. The whole "McCarthyism" thing has always been a leftist campaign to shut up the Republicans that, rightly, accused a ton of supposed liberals of being Communists and spying for the Soviet Union. As in Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White.

So of course liberals are using IRS agents like little Lois Lerner to savage conservative groups applying for non-profit status. Of course Democrats tried to shut up Wisconsin conservatives and Republican Governor Scott Walker with their unjust and secretive "John Doe" investigation. Of course Barack Obama's Organizing for Action is fomenting race and identity activism all around the nation.

We throw the term “sanctuary city” around so lightly today, it’s now part of our lexicon.

Imagine that! When liberals don't like a law they declare their cities exempt. So there! In the good old days of slavery and King Cotton, this was called "nullification" and every liberal knows it was evil. But when liberals do it, well, you are a bigot and a racist for complaining.

Black Lives Matter!

The nods and winks say that Black Lives Matter is a creature of funding from George Soros's foundations and encouragement from Obama's Organizing for Action. Who knows? But this movement is a cruel joke. What blacks need above all is to stop separating themselves from the mainstream of American life and just get on and fit in.

It's pretty obvious what Black Lives Matter is all about. It is a combination of profound disappointment with the Obama years and Democratic need for angry voters that will go to the polls. Blacks were told that America was irretrievably racist. Then America elected a black president and it seemed that the millennium had arrived. Only it hadn't, in particular because the policies of the Obama administration could not have been better designed to keep minorities down. So now blacks are angry and despondent at the disappointment of their millennial hopes. Meanwhile Democrats need to keep blacks energized and angry so they will go tot he polls in 2016.

It's all so sad, but it all issues out of the necessities of left-wing politics. Our current ruling class relies on the votes of a Coalition of the Fringes, people that believe that only government and its free stuff can protect them against a racist and sexist America. It's a neverending job to keep these people angry and keep them separate from the rest of America. But liberals are up to the job, because everything, their power and their money and the love of their beautiful women, depends on it.

I think that all this Alinskyism and Cloward-Piven stuff, the idea that activism and "peaceful protest" is the essence of politics, will prove to be an epic mistake. Maybe it will make the reaction against the Sixties look like a picnic. I think that the American people hates all this elite-driven activism, and will remind its ruling class of this in November 2016.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Why Working Class Whites Vote GOP

The New York Times has finally committed journalism on the topic of What's the Matter With Kansas, the fact that the white working class is not voting for its economic interest as it should, but is voting instead for racist, sexist, homophobe Republicans that don't give a good goddam about them and their real interests, as properly understood by elite liberals. Alex MacGillis writes,
The temptation for coastal liberals is to shake their heads over those godforsaken white-working-class provincials who are voting against their own interests.
Why do they do it, those "godforsaken white-working-class provincials"?

It's because they want to draw a line between themselves and the folks on welfare. First, of all, the folks on welfare and Medicaid don't really vote at all, so there's that.
The people in these communities who are voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder — the sheriff’s deputy, the teacher, the highway worker, the motel clerk, the gas station owner and the coal miner. And their growing allegiance to the Republicans is, in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns.
This confirms with what I was reading and writing about years ago in The Road to the Middle Class. I focused on a woman that feminist liberal Hanna Rosin condescendingly interviewed in a 2000 article about the Christian Right. Mary Johnston, a resident of the striver suburbs around Charlotte, NC., was ashamed of her cracker origins in the red-neck town of Chester.

It's not just snobbery in the Mary Johnstons. It's the fear, the nagging fear that they could one day slip back into the helplessness and squalor of the underclass life.

MacGillis writes about a nurse, Pamela Dougherty, who had married as a teenager, had a child, divorced, went on welfare, and then trained as a nurse -- with the help of government benefits. Now she's remarried and has a steady job at a kidney dialysis center. But is she a supporter of the programs that had helped her? Not a bit of it.
She was reacting, she said, against the sense of entitlement she saw on display at the dialysis center. The federal government has for years covered kidney dialysis treatment in outpatient centers through Medicare, regardless of patients’ age, partly on the logic that treatment allows people with kidney disease to remain productive. But, Ms. Dougherty said, only a small fraction of the 54 people getting dialysis at her center had regular jobs.
This is something that liberals have a problem understanding: the fear of slipping back into dependency. That's why the responsible lower middle class is so anti-welfare. It's not so much that they want to pull up that ladder to stop other people benefiting from the programs they used. It's to cut off the option of retreat back into dependency for themselves. 

OK, so what are Democrats to do about this? Here is MacGillis' peroration.
The best way to reduce resentment, though, would be to bring about true economic growth in the areas where the use of government benefits is on the rise, the sort of improvement that is now belatedly being discussed for coal country, including on the presidential campaign trail. If fewer people need the safety net to get by, the stigma will fade, and low-income citizens will be more likely to re-engage in their communities — not least by turning out to vote.
Oh yeah. That should do it: big government at its best. But here is what I think. I think that with President Obama off the ballot we are going to see a big falloff in black voting in November 2016. It's just going to be very hard to get low-income blacks all riled up to vote, especially after the collapse of the millennial hopes of 2008. I just don't think that Black Lives Matter is going to get the job done.

And I wonder when the working blacks of America will follow the Mary Johnstons and the Pamela Doughertys into the GOP. Every now and again you read a piece that indicates that the black church ladies are not that different in outlook and philosophy from the white working class ladies. Come on in ladies, the water's fine.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Short History of Safe Spaces

All of us bitter clingers are pretty pissed off by the liberal safe-spacers, the young college students that need a place to go and cry when they hear anything that offends their delicate sensibilities.

But let us not pretend that this is anything new under the sun. This safe space culture started way, way before liberal cultural Marxists and their bribed apologists, the community organizers cast their dark shadow across the land.

It all started with the Garden of Eden. Yeah, what would you call the place where Adam and Eve gamboled together in perfect innocence other than the First Safe Space? Then the Serpent showed up and that was the end of the First Safe Space.

One day, agriculture showed up and it looked like ordinary people could shelter in the benevolent safe space of the king. Only, of course, the kings tended to take advantage of the farmers and peasants under their protection, and needed them as spear fodder in their endless wars. So life wasn't quite as safe as the farmers hoped when they came in from the steppe.

Fast forward to the feudal era, and well-born sons and daughters of the nobility liked to shelter in the safe spaces of monasteries to get away from the knightly challenges of the Dark Ages. The monastic safe spaces might have gone on forever if merchants across Europe hadn't wrecked the monastic economic model with their global commerce. The safe-spacing peasants also found themselves hurled onto the labor market in consequence of the agricultural revolution that needed a lot fewer "useless retainers."

It took a while but finally the sons of the bourgeoisie came up with a new safe space. They would provide "social protection" for the factory workers traumatized by the industrial revolution. All the workers had to do was vote for lefties and all their problems would be taken care of by community organizers and educated experts. This new safe-space model worked like a charm for a while until the factory system was replaced by automated manufacturing and the white working class collapsed into drink and drugs.

Now we have a new safe-space movement. It provides protection for college students traumatized by hate speech and bigotry. It provides racism-free zones for African Americans. And it provides Muslims with safe spaces purged of Islamophobia.

I wonder if the new safe spaces will prove any better than the old ones.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Is This the Fall of the Euro Empire?

Good old Niall Ferguson is telling the Boston Brahmins today that this might be the End. As in Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Like the Roman Empire in the early fifth century, Europe has allowed its defenses to crumble. As its wealth has grown, so its military prowess has shrunk, along with its self-belief. It has grown decadent in its shopping malls and sports stadiums. At the same time, it has opened its gates to outsiders who have coveted its wealth without renouncing their ancestral faith.
And, of course, as 1,600 years ago, the ruling class is clueless. Ferguson recalls his youth, 30 years ago at Oxford.
We learned nothing that mattered. Indeed, we learned a lot of nonsense to the effect that nationalism was a bad thing, nation-states worse, and empires the worst things of all.
This was the lesson that the educated and evolved ruling class learned from Hitler and Mussolini. The people could not be trusted; they would fall for the man on the white horse. That's what the European Union is all about. The wise elite extracts the levers of power away from the hoi-polloi and concentrates it in the hands of the educated, evolved, and expert elite that has the wisdom and the knowledge to rule.

This lesson is, of course, the wrong lesson. The lesson of the inter-war era is that, when the normal ruling class fails to keep the wheels of commerce and prosperity turning and people look down and don't see the floor but a gaping precipice, then and only then do the people look to a Hitler, a Mussolini or a Trump.

In other words, fascism is a product of ruling-class failure. Period. Today, ruling class means liberal politicians, liberal media, liberal corporate elite, liberal Hollywood, liberal professors, liberal teachers that, e.g., won't let little boys play with Legos.

Right now, everyone -- especially women -- is trending on the Paris massacre, and now the Mali massacre. But frankly I am not paying attention out here in Oz. I don't need to pay attention. Instead, I am feeling serene. We were never going to be able to deal with the Islamic reaction until the anti-nationalist, anti-nation-state, educated and evolved ruling class was utterly discredited. Now it starts to seem to me that Barack Obama and Angela Merkel were sent by God to do the dirty work, and clear the decks with their follies for a response to the Islamist challenge.

Of course, as Winston Churchill famously said, in 1942, after Monty's victory at El Alamein:
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
We are certainly nowhere near the End of the Beginning. But we are approaching the real Beginning of the Beginning, and that is why I am feeling serene. "Events, dear boy, events" are starting to cook the goose of our liberal ruling class. And we can't get to the middle, let alone the beginning of the end of the current World Crisis until the liberal goose is well and truly cooked, served, eaten and the bones thrown to the Tasmanian Devils. (Little bit of Tassie stuff there).

Europe may still fall the to Islamic revolt against the modern culture and economy; this may indeed be the End of the European Empire. But it won't fall without a fight.

Don't Let Your Kid Grow Up to Be An Environmental Cop

We had a very nice trip to the good old convict prison at Port Arthur in Tasmania. It flourished between the 1830 and 1877. And it was trying to reform prisoners with sensible solitary confinement and other methods out of Jeremy Bentham's utilitarian playbook.

I'm afraid I was pretty cavalier with the guide by treating the whole thing as a joke, a bureaucratic monstrosity, and implying that things are no different today.

Because really, imagine what future earnest critics will say about today's policing and prisons and welfare and education. And environmental politics.

Our guide was a good chap, but it turned out that two of his kids are well-educated environmental cops, runnin' around making sure the farmers aren't killing Tasmamian Devils and stuff. There's a bit of a problem with Tasmanian Devils because, as carrion eaters and not very fast on their feet, they tend to end up as road kill when they are helpfully eating road kill on Tasmania's highways. Something must be done.

But it all got me to thinking about how many of our well-educated kids are ending up as Give-me-the-facts-ma'am environmental gumshoes. Or shall we call them enforcement officers willingly doing the dirty work of stopping people from growing food and building roads and making products and services, because saving the planet.

But that is not really my problem. I am thinking about what will happen when the people finally rebel against their empoverishment by the ruling class's environmental cops and regulators. All those educated gumshoes are going to be really pissed off when the peasants with pitchforks start coming for their careers and their pensions. They won't understand that they have been blindly squeezing ordinary people as thoughtlessly as the overseers and constables of the old Port Arthur convict settlement.

Because most people most of the time just accept that working people were horribly treated back in the 19th century but that things are much more evolved and advanced today.

The point is that there are shoals and shoals of these educated fish in the US in the state and local environmental bureaucracies and they have all drunk the KoolAid. What are we going to do with them after the revolution?

Maybe they don't all believe the lies. Maybe they are just going along to get along. I just finished a rant by Sarah Hoyt about the lies in YA fiction, with "100 lb girls taking out men four times their size in books and movies." It got to the point where her son wanted to be a girl because they had all the fun.

But years later at the grocery store, she asked him about this.
I don’t remember why I reminded him of his “I want to be a girl moment.”  He looked at me and curled his lip.  “Yeah, I got over it.  I realized it wasn’t real.  There was no relation between girls on TV and in books and real girls.  Most real girls just want to talk about hair and clothes and go shopping.  The fun ones will play space-games, but mostly they just want to treated like they’re a space-princess and rescued and stuff.  I’ve yet to meet one who likes fighting and running.”
So there really is hope for the young generation. But the problem is, as Sarah Hoyt writes, that to break out of the Port Arthurs that today's liberal Jeremy Benthams have imprisoned us in is going to take a lot of busting out. And it ain't gonna be pretty.

Did you know that at the narrow neck of land between Port Arthur and the Tasmanian mainland they set up a "dog line." They chained dogs there at night on the assumption that the dogs would bark and attack any convicts trying to escape.

The wonders of the bureaucratic mind.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Liberal Syllabus of Errors

What with ISIS and the slow death of Obamacare, not to mention the mess in education and the White Death of the white working class, it's a good time to take a look at the pile-up of errors committed by our liberal friends. What went wrong, and why?

As you may know, my conceit is that I have developed a strategic view of the modern politics and government. I argue that politics is violence (real or threatened) and government is force. Put another way, politics comes down to the mob threatening someone with a "peaceful protest" or actual street riot, and government always comes down to men with guns.

The corollary (or whatever you want to call it) of this argument is that political activists and government re like sharks; they must keep moving on some project that threatens violence, or needs force, or they will die.

In the good old days government concentrated on two things. The first thing was the domestic threat to its rule, usually from barons and marcher lords. The second thing was the foreign threat from evil foreigners and/or barbarians. This was all natural and physical, because there can only be one ruler in a territory, and as land and its food was life, the survival of the group, or clan, or nation, depended on keeping other people away from the sacred food that grew on our sacred land.

But capitalism changed all that. Natural resources, including food, were still important, but you didn't have to sit on them; you could always buy them.

So it was natural that a movement should arise that took a stand against the old "hit them before they hit us" approach to foreign policy. People started to ask what armies and borders were all about, when all we needed to do was buy the things we needed. Arms are for hugging; war is not the answer. That is what they said then and they still do today.

But if the foreign threat had dissipated and the old marcher lords had been replaced by corporate barons that fought for market share rather than territory, what need of government?

Good question, senator.

The answer is that advanced people came to realize that all was not well with the world after all. They discovered that the most frightful exploitations were being perpetrated against the workers, the people that toiled in factories in the early industrial revolution. Something must be done, they cried. And they taught the rising working class to organize and "smash the bosses." Not just the workers, in peaceful protests and work stoppages, but government was needed to force the bosses to give the workers an even break.

And so the advanced people led the working people in a century-long campaign of "social protection" to provide a safe space for the factory workers. The advanced people had lots of ideas and they used their political power to implement their ideas in beneficial social legislation and regulations.

But then a century later the economy changed and life-long factory jobs disappeared from the economy. The social model constructed in landmark legislation by the advanced people for factory workers didn't apply any more. The workers were used to be taken care of by the advanced people and didn't know what to do. So they gave up and took to drink and opiates.

Anyway the advanced people had moved on from helping working people. Now they wanted to help women and racial minorities and sexual minorities.

Nowadays the advanced people have become deeply concerned about frightful oppressions perpetrated against women, against racial minorities, and against sexual minorities. Something must be done, they cried. And they taught women and racial minorities and sexual minorities to organize and speak truth to the power of the white heterosexual patriarchy, and smash the glass ceiling, and demand their representative share of jobs, and the respectability of marriage equality.

You can see that the advanced people are using the same strategy against the powerful patriarchy as they did a century ago against the powerful capitalists.

But what was the point of helping the workers? The advanced people set up a rigid system of government protection that the advanced people thought would help the workers in their fight with the employers and provide them with decent pensions and health benefits. Unfortunately the advanced people fenced the workers into a rigid system that fell apart when globalization and unionization had made factory labor in the western world too expensive.

What would have really helped the workers? I'd say that it would have been more helpful to let the workers work out their own destiny, to involve the state in some of the most egregious problems but not to create such a rigid regulatory system that protected the workers so well that they lost the get-up-and-go needed to adapt and thrive. It is clear now that when the world changed it left them high and dry.

Now the advanced people are doing the same thing with women, racial minorities, and sexual minorities. Are they really helping them? I'd say that it would be more helpful to let women, racial minorities and sexual minorities to work out their own destiny, to involve the state in some of the most egregious problems, but not create a rigid regulatory system in which employers are considered to be discriminating against minorities unless they employ government-mandated quotas of protected minorities.

One day the world will change, and when it does the protected minorities will find out, just like the workers, that the social protections they were given don't protect them at all when the world changes, and everyone has to scramble to adapt to the new reality.

So I argue that the governing strategy of the advanced people, the modern ruling class, is cruel and unjust. It cocoons its favored clients with benefits and free stuff, but it condemns them to live in dependency without maintaining the robust skills that people need to thrive in a market system that is always changing, always improving, always adapting, always learning.

Our advanced people, our ruling class, are not evil: just conceited and wrong. They imagine that they are intelligent and wise enough to determine what is best for other people.

In this conceit they are wrong. Probably it is best for humans in this sub-lunar world to stick to taking responsibility for themselves. Because when they decide that they are smart enough to take responsibility for others, they are probably only doing what will help themselves.

When you think you are god's gift to the working class, or to women, or to minorities, you are probably going to find yourself piling error upon error, and spreading misery instead of content, because you probably don't know what is best for other people.

But where is the human that can ever admit such a thing to himself, let alone to others?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Is Obama Actually Trying to Destroy the Democratic Party?

Conservatives look at President Obama and wonder who the real Obama is. Or rather, we wonder if our instincts, that he is a full-on cultural Marxist lefty, can really be true -- in this day and age. Because surely in 2015, after a century and a half of Marxist mayhem and stupidity, nobody can really believe this stuff.

But here is Paul Sperry writing in the New York Post about the doings of Organizing for Action, the daughter organization of Obama's campaign organization Obama for America. OfA is out there organizing hundreds of thousands of newly minted community organizers.
Through social media, they mobilize flash mobs against “biased cops,” “climate-change deniers,” “Wall Street predators” and “gun extremists.” They hold rallies against conservative foes of gay marriage, LGBT rights, abortion and amnesty for illegal immigrants.
See, I think that this is a suicide cult,  strategic error of monumental proportions. I think this is replaying the disastrous New Left politics of the 1960s that created the Nixonian Silent Majority and the Reagan Democrats. I think that this leftism is a fantasy ideology, created out of the desperate need, in a peaceful world, for something to fight against and require the sweet use of political violence and government force.

In my telling, the Democrats of the 1970s learned a terrible lesson. They learned that the average American hated their Cloward-Piven tactics and their internal colonization of middle-class culture with Alinskyism. And then when Ronald Reagan, the B-movie actor, cleaned their clocks not once but twice... Well, it led to Bill Clinton and the New Democrats who assured us that they were as patriotic as the next man and who declared that the era of big government was over.

In the event, once Bill Clinton was elected in 1992, he pivoted sharp left and got his face handed to him in the midterms of 1994. Thereafter the liberal Bill Clinton kept handlers like Dick Morris around to keep him in the safety zone.

But the real Democrats couldn't stay hidden, not forever, so after the mistakes of the Bush administration and the mortgage meltdown, they returned in full force under the leadership of Barack Obama, taught from his cradle by liberals and advised by red-diaper babies. Like David Axelrod.

Now we have the absurd antics of the feminist-inspired "rape culture" and "microaggression" activists, which I think is the particularly feminine contribution to leftist politics. Because while you could say that young men thrill to the cry of "smash the bosses" (or sexists or racists), the cry for safe spaces and "I can't believe I heard you say that" are obviously the product of a Double-X coded brain.

I suppose we have to go through this every generation. But it would really be cool if we could draw a line under this fantasy ideology, this nostalgia for a time of perfect social solidarity that never was, that has hag-ridden the modern era and sent millions of innocents to an early grave.

The encouraging thing is that it looks like the average American absolutely hates where the community-organizer tactics of Obama have brought us. They are actively yearning for something different.

And my guess is that, come November 2016 they are going to get it, probably by a decisive 55-45 election. And that should inoculate America against unashamed leftism for a generation. If we are lucky.

Islamists are Only the Latest Bunch to Push Back Against Capitalism

The Islamists that killed over a hundred people in Paris on Friday November 13, 2015 are, of course, our enemies. Yes, enemies, Mr. President and much worse than the awful threat of climate change.

But I take a philosophical view of the Islamist threat. To me, these young savages are just the latest in a string of political/social movements that have emerged to challenge the rise of the global capitalist economy and society.

Let us not forget what a stunning revolution and transformation the capitalist revolution has been, starting with the explosion of European traders and adventurers across the world starting in about 1500. Then, starting in 1800, we have seen the Great Enrichment of the industrial revolution, with per-capita incomes increasing by 3,000 percent in 200 years wherever capitalism was allowed to thrive.

The educated youth of the 19th century didn't like capitalism. They thought it was a busted flush and they didn't like the way it treated the workers. They created a movement of rejection, socialism/communism, that spread across the world like no religion before it. But China rejected socialism in 1979, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, and India gave up on socialism in 1993. Now just about everyone except Barack Obama and his Organizing for America recognizes the the free-market economy is here to stay. Everyone except the Islamists.

You can understand the feelings of the Islamists. Imagine the horror that Sayyid Qtub must have felt watching young Coloradans in Greeley slobbering over each other at a sock hop just after World War II. How could anyone endure such license, especially if he didn't get to join in?

So now we have the last people in the world rising in rage against the pitiless monster of capitalism that threatens to destroy their traditional way of life just like it has demolished just about everyone else's traditional way of life across the world. These people are the people of Islam.

It is a humiliating thing to live in the urban ghetto of some great western metropolis and know that you are the low man on the totem pole. It makes you easy to provoke into violence. Ever since the middle of the 19th century agitators and demagogues have known how to rile up the ill-educated young men of these urban ghettos and organize them for rebellion. In the 19th century the agitators organized young men into labor unions and social democratic parties. In the 20th century they organized them into fascist mobs and sent them into the meat grinders of the world wars. Russian communists starved millions of Ukrainians and sent millions into the gulag to work and die. Chinese communists starved millions in the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. When all the rage was spent, then the survivors had to pick up their lives and start over, sadder and wiser, this time following the capitalist script.

Now we have another uprising against the capitalist revolution, the young Islamist men of the Middle East. Now another generation must be ground into the dust before they will submit to the greatest change in human social cooperation since the invention of agriculture and the marcher lord 5,000 odd years ago.

I suppose that millions of young Muslim men will have to die, and millions of young men in the rest of the world as well before the Muslim remnant submits to the greatest improvement in material life in human history ever.

If you ask me, it's a helluva shame. But what do I know? For all the lefty talk about war not being the answer, I suspect that the violence of war is needed as part of the human condition and that it does solve a lot of problems.

But capitalism teaches us that almost all of the time violence is not needed because almost everything can be resolved by the market. So we moderns are slow to admit that war is going to be needed.

The various outrages from the Beirut barracks in Reagan's administration to 9/11 to the terror outrages in London, Madrid, Paris, Boston, etc. are bringing the current rebellion to the point that it cannot be ignored.

But it ain't gonna be pretty.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Surrender and the Three Peoples Theory

I maintain that there are three kinds of people: I call it Three Peoples theory. There are the People of the Subordinate Self, your average workers and peasants. There are the People of the Responsible Self, your average monotheistic city dweller. Then there are the People of the Creative Self, your average artist and political activist.

The basic fact of social animals is that they thrive by surrender to the greater good. But, of course we humans are made of clay, particularly in our feet, and so we don't always surrender to the greater good in the way that we profess.

The People of the Subordinate Self are people that surrender to their lord, be he a marcher lord, a lord of the manor, a union boss, a corporate boss, or a community organizer. But these people sometimes rebel against their lord, as peasants with pitchforks. And that never ends well.

The People of the Responsible Self must surrender to the love of God or to the market. Because they understand that to thrive they must serve others, whether God, or the consumer or the market. But if they have a weakness it is to insist that everyone else accept the mandate of responsibility as they have done. This is wrong, because the People of the Subordinate Self want to avoid responsibility by surrendering their responsibility to a temporal lord.

The People of the Creative Self must surrender to the fact of creative process: many are called but few are chosen. A creative artist must surrender to the verdict of the world. And that verdict probably is that the artist should be content with merely being a competent craftsman rather than a creative star in the firmament. The weakness of the creative artist is to insist that society owes him a living, because he is so wise. Because being an artist is special. In politics, of course, the creative artists insist that the world tax and regulate itself to prove the wonder of the political artist's undeniable genius.

All kinds of People have their role to play upon the stage. But the first thing they need to accept is the implications of their identity choice. If you are a Subordinate Self then subordination to a lord is what you do. And subordinates tend to get left on the roadside by their lord when the going gets tough. If you are a Responsible Self then you must accept the rough with the smooth, and understand that your surrender to God or to the market means that you have to start over when things go south. If you are a Creative Self you must accept that you are probably not as creative as your mother thought. Maybe the best you can achieve is a decent and competent responsibility.

Just saying: there is a right way and a wrong way for each of the honorable choices to live life as a human. It comes down to the way that you choose to surrender yourself to the fact of your existence as a social human. And don't anyone ever forget it.

Friday, November 13, 2015

So What Does the Cruz Flat Tax Mean for America?

Talk about the nuclear option! Ted Cruz's Flat Tax Plan:
  • Collapses the personal income tax down to one rate of 10% after a $36,000 deductible
  • Eliminates the payroll taxes
  • Eliminates the Death tax
  • Eliminates the corporate income tax
  • Imposes a 16% Business Flat Tax on business revenues, less deducations
So what does it all mean?

The reduction in personal income tax rates and the elimination of the corporation income tax is good, because it takes the game of loopholes away. Politicians love high tax rates because business and wealthy individuals will pay good money to carve out exemptions and subsidies.

The elimination of the payroll tax is yuuuuge. This is a monstrous tax on labor and in particular really burdens low-wage workers and low-wage employers. That's why so many workers work off the books and burden both on-the-books employers and employees.

The big question is the Business Flat Tax, which seems to be a tax on gross revenues. Cruz's site says: "The tax will be based on revenues minus expenses such as equipment, computers, and other business investments." That makes it sound that wage expenses will not be counted.

Here is what the Tax Foundation says about Cruz's plan, which it calls a VAT.
It’s actually pretty simple: there’s profits that go to shareholders, and there’s wages, salaries, and other compensation to workers. Both get taxed at the same rate: in this case, sixteen percent.

In that sense, a subtraction-method value-added tax is actually just a simple combination of a sort of corporate income tax and an ordinary payroll tax. (Fittingly, Senator Cruz’s plan uses this VAT to eliminate the corporate income tax and the payroll tax.)
According to the Tax Foundation businesses would deduct the monies they paid to other business for business services. But they would pay a tax of 16% on profits and and a 16% tax on labor (because the revenue that ended up as wages wouldn't be subtracted from its revenue.

This is, of course, a gigantic tax. If we assumed that the GDP is equal to about the gross revenue of businesses, then it amounts to a tax of 16% of GDP. No doubt it isn't that big. But still it is huge.

But let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the total Cruz taxes after the nuclear explosion are about the same as today's federal revenue at about 18% of GDP. What then?

Well what is going to happen is similar what the Austrian economists call "the liquidation of the malivestments of the previous boom." Today's businesses are organized around today's tax system and the exploitation of their business revenue by governments high and low. Today businesses pay a bunch of federal taxes on labor, from FICA to unemployment, some of which are passed through to employees and some of which aren't. It is obvious that many businesses are going to find that their business models are severely damaged by the Cruz plan. Others will find that they really benefit from the Cruz plan. At this stage, I suggest, nobody has a clue what will happen. My guess is turmoil for a couple of years, just like the first two years of the Reagan administration, followed by a staggering boom.

Of course, all the pettifogging tax regulations on business will be lighter, and that's a good thing. But nobody should imagine that such a remarkable change will be cost free. And don't imagine that crony capitalism will go away. There will still be ways to game the system and the lobbyists and the politicians will be working hard to make it happen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Dems are Breaking Rule One of Politics

Because government is force and politics is violence it is essential for every ruling class and government to present itself as a kindly librarian rather than an avenging angel. The reality is that governments, all governments dispense injustice, and the more power they possess the more injustice they mete out to the subject population. So governments understand that you must hide the mailed fist inside a velvet glove.

So a wise government keeps its crazies in check. Because the crazies signal to the uncommitted that government is not a kindly librarian but men with guns.

The crazies at the University of Missouri, like the crazies at Yale that spat on conservative worthies like Kevin Williamson, are the fault of President Obama, the worst president ever.

President Obama's problem is the he actually believes the rubbish that his red-diaper-baby mentors taught him as an impressionable teenager. There is, of course, an evil cunning to Rules for Radicals and the intolerant tolerance of Herbert Marcuse. It all makes sense if you are Samson and the only way forward is to pull the temple down on you and everyone else.

In the real world these lefty tactics create intolerable misery and disaster for ordinary people. And in the theory of Crane Brinton in The Anatomy of Revolution the reign of terror sets up the end of the revolution and the beginning of reaction.

So in my view our genius president is doing our work for us. His genius activists that are reporting KKK hoodies on the Missouri campus are broadcasting to the American voter -- and especially the American woman voter -- that it is past time to shut down this present eruption of left-wing hysteria. And make no mistake, we are talking here about religious hysteria, the millennial longings of left-wing religious hysterics bursting their bounds as often happens in the cycle of religious enthusiasm.

Let us rehearse some political common-sense here. When you are the ruling class the one thing you need to do is to rein in the enthusiasm of your most enthusiastic supporters, the fools that think that government can actually deliver Hope and Change, rather than merely move the deckchairs on the Titanic. Because government is force, politics is violence, system is domination, and history is disaster.

As I've written before, we saw all this in the Sixties. Liberals and their willing accomplices in the media thought that they were witnessing the Revolution, a fundamental change in US politics. But what they achieved was to frighten the daylights out of the American people and usher in a decade or more of law-and-order national politics.

At the time I was a young'un and was experiencing politics for the first time. It was significant to me that Richard Nixon won in 1968 after all the tremulous expectations with Gene McCarthy and the Happy Warrior Hubert Humphrey. When Nixon won 60-40 in 1972 after I'd watched PBS having orgasms over George McGovern all summer I knew that the liberal version of reality sucked.

It was after the McGovern defeat that liberals spent 25 years sailing under false colors pretending that they did too believe in law-and-order and they too were patriotic Americans.

But with Barack Obama we have a president that knew not the lessons of 1972. And so Americans have had eight long years of lefty crazies off the leash. And they don't like it.

You see if they don't, come November next year.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What CAN We Do When Things Go South?

Everyone is writing about the poor bloody white working class this week. Including me at the American Thinker, where I blame liberals, and Victor Davis Hanson, who writes about how his bright white students couldn't get into elite colleges. I argue that liberalism, with its welfare, anti-marriage, pro-abortion, anti-responsibility agenda, couldn't have been better designed to demoralize cultural groups and remove them from an "overpopulated" world.

So women, minorities and the exquisitely insultable student activists at the university are next.

All this is very poignant to me after reading Karl Polanyi's Great Transformation where he makes the argument that the working class very sensibly pushed for "social protection" from the brutal market system and its commodification of land, labor, and money.

Year Zero for Karl Polanyi is the Elizabethan Poor Law in which the government acted to protect the poor that had been hurled off the land by enclosures and the agricultural revolution.

Only I am reading Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages by Frances and Joseph Gies. It paints a rather deeper and more nuanced picture of life in Europe before the agricultural revolution.

In the first place, despite the attempt with primogeniture to keep aristocratic families dominant forever, even the best families never flourished for more than a century. Death, political shenanigans, and bad luck all acted to change the guard at the top. The same thing happened, to a lesser degree, lower down the social scale. And simply put, people without land or without a city occupation didn't marry and have children. They still hung around their family but they got exiled to Outer Slobbovia as swineherds or something. Karl Polanyi suggests the idea of a free-floating proletariat. But nobody lived in those days except in the context of a family.

Secondly, the Gieses write that already in the 15th century people were working for wages on the farm. It's difficult to be sure, but I get the impression that, for a lot of people, it was better to work for wages as an agricultural laborer, man or woman, than to have to deal with the risk and uncertainty of land ownership. This gives the lie to Polanyi's suggestion that wage labor was an invention of greedy capitalists in order to reduce labor to a market relation rather than the organic way in which people wrested their living from the soil. On the contrary, it seems more likely that then as now many, if not most, people liked the simplicity and risk avoidance of wage labor. You do your work and you get paid. Period.

Thirdly, I have come to understand the whole social protection idea as a recipe for disaster. The whole idea of modern social democratic politics is to shield the worker from the horrors of the naked marketplace, and provide a decent work and home environment for people that would otherwise be ruthlessly exploited. But the contrary argument is that this protection makes the worker singularly ill-prepared for any adversity. If you have spent your entire life just picking up a paycheck and letting your union leader do all the fighting, and let the government take care of your old age pension and healthcare, what happens if the music stops and the social protection system breaks down? What happens is that you suddenly discover that you don't have the minimum skills you need to survive in the turmoil of change.

The truth is that no matter what happens to you and me, the world carries on. The Gieses write about how that happened even in the aftermath of the Black Death in 1349 and thereafter. They quote from the heartbroken letters of people experiencing the death of all their loved ones. But then they look at manorial court records and discover that the abandoned farms and houses were pretty quickly taken up by relatives of the deceased. And life went on almost as if nothing had happened.

So here we are looking at the collapse of the good old white working class, wringing our hands about their pathologies and their early deaths. But the truth is that tomorrow nobody will care. Things may have gone south for the white working class, but the world carries on.

So if you want to wive and thrive in the world, you'd better not be tempted by any of that free stuff. The way to survival is to have survival skills, and make sure that you are one of the survivors.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Everything is Pointing to "Time for a Change"

There is a reason why every election is either Four More Years or Time For a Change. It is encapsulated in Kevin D. Williamson's catchphrase that Politics is Violence.

When you look at what politicians and political activists do, it all comes down to violence, or as the protagonist in the Brit House of Cards, says: "I put a bit of stick about." That's the point. When activists get the President of a Missouri university to resign that's not mild advocating for peoples' rights. That's a power play; that's intimidation; that's the threat of violence.

But the thing about power is that it works two ways. In the doer, it performs the operation that "good sherries sack" performs on Sir John Falstaff: "It ascends me into the brain; / dries me there all the foolish and dull and curdy /vapours which environ it." Or, in short, power is the best aphrodisiac.

The other thing about power is the effect it has on the recipients: They hate it. That is why, after a few years of a president from the A party, a majority of people decide that they have had enough and that it is Time for a Changen and a dose of the B party.

In my view, we are probably experiencing in this political cycle a Time For a Change election that we haven't seen in my lifetime. Because for anyone that isn't a card-carrying liberal, these are the worst of times, with the public square filled with the most revolting liberal activists that turn your stomach with their hatred, their hypocrisy and their power to ruin your life. And that is to say nothing of the utter folly of Obamacare and the sluggish economy.

In addition, President Obama seems to be loading the barrel with dynamite. The issues that he's put off, for the obvious reason that only his extreme liberal base wants them, issues like the closure of Guantanamo and the Keystone XL pipeline,those are issues he's suddenly decided to push.

The reason that he's prevaricated on them is a simple one. They are the kind of issue that inflame the Republican base and that your average wet-noodle moderate doesn't like either. So why poison the well for Hillary Clinton on this? You tell me. The president's reasons for cancelling the Keystone pipeline are laughable on their face. We don't need the jobs, apparently, because the economy is doing OK. We don't need the pipeline because energy prices are down and we don't really need them lower. Really, Mr President. Any Republican president coming up with reasons like that would get roundly humiliated.

The point about Bill Clinton was that, liberal as he was, he was a brilliant politician and knew where to position himself somewhere just short of enraging the opposition. Barack Obama was careful enough in his election and reelection not to get too liberal. But now that he's off the leash, well, he's off the leash.

I expect that in future years we will use the example of President Obama sending his southern army group into the Caucasus as an example of stunning strategic overreach. But that time is not yet.

But it is Time for a Change. And how.

Perhaps the Wages of Liberalism is Cultural Death

I've been having something of an epiphany in the last couple of weeks, ever since reading Karl Polanyi's Great Transformation and running at the same time into Kevin D. Williamson's report on the Tudor war on the castles in his The End is Near.

Karl Polanyi dresses up in rather fine livery the left's central argument that the working class were cruelly treated in the heyday of capitalism in the early to mid 1800s owing to a cavalier rejection of an age-old social consensus that provided for the poor. In response to the cruel capitalist industrial revolution the workers naturally pushed for "social protection" against the ravages of the market and its commodification of their labor with market wages and the ruthless proposition that they work or starve.

This is all part of the left's standard narrative, arguing that the Manchester liberals cruelly broke up the old Poor Law that had protected the poor in England ever since the Tudors.

Kevin Williamson reports indirectly in The End is Near how the Tudor Poor Law came to be. In my view he rather damages the narrative about the old social compact. The Tudors, he relates, were engaged upon a project to build their monarchial power in a nation state. To do that they had to crush the power of the barons. We are talking about the powerful families that we've grown to know and love that appear in Shakespeare's Wars of the Roses plays: marcher lords of the north like the Percies; the Dukes of Buckingham, Earls of Worcester, and so on. The Tudors disarmed these folk and disbanded their private armies. And they demolished their castles. Thus ended the great age of medieval castles and also the end of the heyday of primogeniture in the nobility. It was the immense power of the castle, according to Frances and Joseph Gies in Marriage and Family in the Middle Ages, that induced the nobility of Europe to concentrate family power in the eldest son and the family castle.

But this is what occurred to me. Once the nobles were stripped of their castles and their private armies, who needed the useless mouths of peasants? Now the noble families would express their power through money: money for grand houses in the capital city, and money to influence and persuade.

Now exactly at the same time we experience the agricultural revolution: its enclosures, its sheep farming its drainage and improvements. The result of the revolution was to maximize the income from the noble or the gentry estate. They kicked out the peasants from their customary subservience that was useful to the lord only when he needed the peasants to form his army. The Tudors, naturally, were left holding the baby. Eventually, as governments will, they decided to "do something" about the poor, with the Poor Law and the Statute of Artificers.

So, on this view, the whole history of the Poor Law is not about a caring and humane society, but just politicians trying to patch up the latest disaster. The poor in the reign of Elizabeth I were a problem for the government, so the government "did something" to try and make it go away. It didn't go away, not until the industrial revolution 200 years after the Tudor bid for national, central power.

So now I am looking at the latest flap about the white working class, publicized in The Atlantic, about how the working class are dying off from alcoholism and drug dependency, and I am thinking that to the regime the working class, like the "useless retainers" of agricultural England, are just an embarrassment. Back in the 19th century the working class were useful soldiers to deploy in the political battles of the day, one in which the old landowners could stick one in the eye of the parvenu factory owners and capitalists and join with the socialists that were engaged in their own bid for political power.

Now that the working class doesn't enter into anyone's political calculations, what with the votes of blacks and women and Hispanics and gays being more useful to America's party of the left, the Democratic Pary, the white working class is toast. And since they have spent the last century sucking off the teat of government as little darlings of the liberals, they lack the fighting spirit that you need to make a difference in war and politics.

We sentimental conservatives have nurtured a daydream that one day the white working class would get a clue and join the Republican Party. But, writing over the weekend about the decline of the working class I suddenly had a thought. What if they don't hit bottom? What if they just subside deeper and deeper into despair and alcohol. What if they just keep going on down?

We don't like to think about it, but the truth is that it's the way of the world. They say that languages and cultures are disappearing every day. Here in Australia we just had a day with a tour guide, Bridget, who's an Australian indigenous. But she is living with a "white fellah." Bridget makes her living being a professional indigenous, telling us about how her grandmother was abducted from her parents and taken to a mission to be raised by the cruel nuns.

But Bridget is living with a white fellah, and you can see where that leads. Right now, she says, 78 percent of indigenous in Australia live in urban areas.

You can emote all day about the noble working class and the authentic indigenous experience. But the world is living in cities and people are offering their labor on the labor market. Liberals have told the working class and the indigenous that they are special people and have been cruelly treated and they care about them.

No doubt. But the only way to wive and thrive in the world today is to learn how to live and work in the market economy and make your peace with it. Anything else -- from the liberal politics of class to the liberal politics of race or the liberal politics of gender -- is liberal flim-flam, and the wages of liberal flim-flam is personal extinction, which is a lot different from the hard, but bearable, cultural separation from pre-industrial culture as you move and adjust to the city.

Like I say in my American Thinker piece this week, liberal politics encourages extinction. Liberal welfare encourages people not to work; liberal sexual revolution encourages people not to marry; liberal abortion encourages people not to have children. And the stirring up of grievance, like with the Black Lives Matter folks, funded in part by George Soros, encourages people not to be responsible. When you look at liberal politics that way you have to wonder: is all this deliberate? Are liberals actually trying to extinguish their political clients?

I have to believe that liberals are not evil, just stupid. The alternative is unthinkable.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Working Class Angst: The False God of Politics

In the same week that The Atlantic published scary numbers about white working class collapse in the US a Brit feminist got herself all over the media sneering about a British male MP worrying about boys in Britain.

And so it goes. A couple of years ago Charles Murray warned in Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010 that the bottom 30 percent of white Americans were not doing well. The men don't work much and the women don't marry much. Liberals ignored Murray, as they have done since The Bell Curve that told uncomfortable stories about race and IQ.

So this new factoid from The Atlantic fits into my big theory about the Fall of the White Working Class.

The problem started when the working class got seduced by the Educated Youth of the 19th century. As in most cases where some poor working girl got into the wrong company, and allowed herself to imagine that the rich boy liked her for her mind, it all was bound to end in tears.

Looking back, you could say that the writing was on the wall from the moment in the 1970s that liberals started to sneer at the white working class with All in the Family and Archie Bunker. The Brits also had sneering TV sitcoms in that era, notably Steptoe and Son.

There was, it seems to be, a certain tactical cunning in the demonization of Archie Bunker.

Think about it. As the liberals pirouetted elegantly from their Dance of the Exploited Working Stiff to their Dance of the Oppressed Minority, not to mention the Dance of the Patronized Feminist, it made common sense to blame the poor bloody working class for their racism and bigotry. Because when Affirmative Action came along, it was working-class whites that had to pay the bill. With expanded welfare it was working-class dads that would be cast into outer darkness. And when the Stonewall Inn production number debuted, it was a natural to stigmatize the simplistic morality of lower-class whites in the campaign to make the world safe for gay wedding cakes.

Back in 1800, George Eliot taught us, the rising yeomen of England -- chaps like Adam Bede and his incandescent love interest, the Methodist lay preacher, Dinah Morris -- wived and thrived in the challenge of industrial revolution on the rock of their Methodist faith and their sterling character. And when Eliot got to Middlemarch and the Reform Bill, she gave us Mary Garth as the working girl with a character of diamond.

In other words, these ordinary working folk that rode the wave of the industrial revolution did not rely on the honeyed words of upper-class liberals. They were grounded by their religious faith and their sterling character, and that is what sustained them through the turmoil of the age.

But the working-class generations that followed them listened to the liberals. Let us use our political power and savvy, these rich kids said, and we will give you benefits. Why not? It was free, after all.

And for a season, it all worked so wonderfully well. As liberals like to remind themselves repeatedly: back in the 1950s good liberal policies delivered good jobs at good wages. And then in 1973 the music stopped. The Big Corporation/Big Labor/Big Government condominium started to crack.

It doesn't really matter what went wrong. Maybe it was the whole idea that government could successfully intervene between employer and employee. Maybe the whole industrial manufacturing paradigm changed. Maybe the world was sucked into a maelstrom of low-cost production and low-cost labor. Maybe dreaded H-1B visas and illegal immigration killed the full-time job at good wages and good benefits.

The point is that by then the liberal rich kids had tired of their working-class mistresses. They were in love with blacks and women. The working class was fat. And old.

What was the working class to do? It had put all its marbles in the welfare state basket. Well, now we know what it did, thanks to The Atlantic and Nobel laureate Angus Deaton. It took to drink. And opoids. And started to die off.

But don't worry, working class. Recent polls indicate that women, last-but-one main squeeze of the liberals, are less happy than they were back in the awful conformist 1950s. It looks like women are next to go in the meat grinder. Could it be that it just doesn't pay to be the little darling of the liberals? Could it be that the wages of sinning with the liberals is death?

It's not as if we hadn't been warned. Remember what happened to Mimi, La Bohème and temporary squeeze for the rich kids playing at writing the big novel in a Parisian garret back in 1896?

The solution for the white working class is to come on over to the Republican Party. But there's a problem. Everyone in the Republican Party is sustained by a non-governmental faith. National-defense conservatives believe in responsible national defense. Economic conservatives believe in responsible economic action under the unhampered market. Social conservatives believe in putting their trust in Jesus. Second-Amendment conservatives believe that the government is minutes away when seconds count. Nobody believes in government picking up the tab.

There is really no place in the Republican Party for the Joe Soptic kind of American that thinks it is Mitt Romney's job to pick up the tab for his sick wife.

But here is an interesting aside. In the Republican Party the base seems to be at war with the elite, but in the Democratic Party the base is expertly led by elite community organizers. So with Republicans we get dissident voices constantly expressing their annoyance with the bosses. But in the Democratic Party the bosses fake the voice of the base with their peaceful rent-a-mob protesters.

Back to business. All this stuff about responsibility is covered in the Bible, for those with a yen for that sort of thing. Put not your trust in princes. Don't give up your birthright for a mess of pottage. And so on.

The whole Obama era is a campaign ad for this. When it comes to Hope and Change, don't put your hope in government to make the vital change in your life.

Hope and Change must start with you, and not some smarmy politician.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Message to "Emergent Majority:" They Lied

On the 15-hour trip from San Francisco to Sydney, en-route to a 21-day vacation in Australia, I got to watch the 2014 movie of Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth. Brittain was becoming an adult in that fateful summer of 1914, and after seeing her lover and her brother  and his friends eaten up by the war machine she asks what's the bloody point?

Of course, women have been asking that for millennia. They just don't see the point of war -- or guns -- until the barbarians are at the gates. Then they ask: "Mr. President, is it safe?" But most of the time they are right.

The 2014 movie rather brightly illuminates the incompetent brutality of government. Every young man goes off to war, either wanting to do his bit, or afraid of not being seen to do his bit. We are, all of us, social conformists. And it was a stupid, mindless thing, the Great War.

Of course after the war Vera Brittain becomes a conventional center leftie, and her daughter, Shirley Williams, became a Labour Party Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament.

To me, as a racist, sexist, homophobe conservative, there is a startling blindness in people like Vera Brittain and her daughter. What, after all, is the difference between the blundering Asquith government of 1914 that used their political power to blunder into a stupid war, and the blundering social democratic governments of the remainder of the 20th century that blunderingly used their political power to lead the British working class into the dead end of council estates and bog-standard comprehensive schools -- all the while providing for themselves lots of addicting political power and sinecures?

So here I am staying in a "life-style" hotel in Sydney's Pyrmont district looking at all the millennials and thinking to myself: do you chaps not realize that the politicians and the intellectuals are lying to you and wrecking your lives no less than the mindless generation of 1914?

I write this as we digest the news of the startling win for Tea Partier Matt Bevin for governor of Kentucky, an open Christian conservative who's pro-gun and anti-Obamacare.

Ah, but wait till 2016, the Democrats say, when we energize our coalition of the young, the minorities, and the urbanites that elected Barack Obama twice.

To which I say: do you not realize, dear coalition of the ascendant, that the Democrats utterly lie to you? You have just come up through the government education system, and if you have been to college you probably have excruciating debts. Yes, the Democrats talk a good line about how the evil Republicans marginalize women and gays and minorities. Do you not realize that you are the #1 victims? Do you not realize that it is your borrowed money that funds their disfunctional educational and indoctrination machine -- which you, more that you know, have been programmed to support? Do you not realize that the soft economy of the 2010s is a direct result of liberal policy and government for decades?

If you are young and bright and eager, do you not realize that everything that big government has done over the last century makes it harder for you to live and work and thrive? First there are the swingeing taxes on work, the "payroll taxes" that are government's big protection racket. Then there are the regulations that make life difficult for new entrants, from the "sharing economy" to the energy economy. Then there is the politicization of everything, from women in the workforce to supposed sexual harassment in the university and the workplace. Do you not realize that all this is a racket, designed to capture your minds with appealing words and increase the power of politicians and activists?

Really, I suppose, the #1 job of every ruling class is to capture the minds of the young generation and put the bodies of the young in service to the regime. And, as much as they blunder and fail on just about everything, they sure do a job on the young, most of the time.

I remember my own modest awakening. It was after the surprising 60-40 reelection of President Nixon in 1972. Naturally, at the time, I was a squishy liberal that was excited by the New Politics of Sen. George McGovern. How could it be that American voters, of which I was not yet one, could vote against George McGovern by such a huge majority?

That was the beginning of wisdom. Because a young person has two choices. Either to write off the voters as mind-numbed bigots or to think more deeply. What is it that the voters wanted in 1972 that the Democrats so obviously failed to offer? Were the voters wrong, or were they onto something?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Worse and Worse: Now the White Working Class is Dying Off

There is a reason that the Bible says "put not your trust in princes." It's because you shouldn't. I am not talking about the moral case for not trusting politicians. That goes without saying. I am talking about the practical case, as in ending up as road kill.

My view is that politics is civil war by other means. When you sign up with a political party it is the same as joining the colors in the army. In the end, you will end up left behind on the side of the road on the route of march, hungry, or wounded, or both. Because the rank-and-file in anything is merely a creature of the bosses: army bosses, political bosses, corporate bosses, union bosses. After they leave you by the side of the road?  Then you will die.

A century ago the working class signed up with the parties of the left. Hey, the Marxes and the Webbs and the Roosevelts said: We care about you workers and we are outraged at your sufferings and we will make your evil employers pay.

Yeah. Life was rough in the early years of the industrial revolution.

Only the politicians that so loooved the working class eventually got tired of them. It's the way of ruling class aristocrats, whether they wear lace or Gore-Tex. They get tired of their wives and their concubines and their useless retainers and go seeking fresh flesh.

These days the lefty aristocrats absolutely looove women. And blacks. And Hispanics. And gays.

So now we read that working class whites with little education are suffering from an increasing death rate. From alcoholism. And heroin. And opoids. Who could have seen that coming?

Not much different from the white working class in Britain. White working class boys are the worst performers in school. Who could have seen that coming?

God, what a bloody shame. So it's worse than what Charles Murray said in Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010. He wrote that in the bottom 30 percent of whites the men don't work much and the women don't marry much. What an optimist! It turns out that reality is a bit worse than that. The white working class are also drinking themselves to death. And drugging themselves to death. And who can blame them?

First we had the Great Society, which made it easier for poor women of all races to marry the state instead of marry the fathers of their children. Then we had affirmative action, which put blacks, and then women, in front of ill-educated whites when it came to government jobs. Then we had Hispanic illegal immigration, to which liberals turn a blind eye, so that now it is difficult for a mechanic in Florida to get an on-the-books job. No problem, you say? Well try getting a mortgage without an on-the-books employment history.

Hey liberals! This is all your work. Welfare? Check. Affirmative Action? Check. Illegal immigration? Check.

No wonder the white working class is all excited by Donald Trump. He's actually proposing to do something about one of the things that hurt them.

Of course, the crush on Trump won't work. That's because of the first paragraph above. Put not your trust in princes.

The mistake the working class made was to believe that politics could improve their lives. What it did was entangle their lives in politics, for good or ill. It started out good, if you believe that the New Deal and labor unions and government entitlements are good for people. But, of course, politicians are a bit like insurance salesmen and greedy bankers. They are real good at selling you the insurance policy or the low-down mortgage or the cool free pension. But they really don't care about how you are going to pay for it. They just want their commission or their election win. What comes after is your problem. Oh, and then there were the unions. They worked for a while, enforcing good jobs at good wages out of big corporations. Until the big corporations went under. Those days are gone unless you work for the government.

Look chaps. If the white working class wants to get out of its death spiral, it's got to bottom out of its addiction to government and then get with the Twelve Step Plan.

You see, the dirty little secret of life under the industrial revolution is that you don't put your trust in princes. You put your trust in God. You get your life together. You learn self-discipline and you learn to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. No politicians. No activists. No union leaders. Just you and your determination and God.

But there are always flim-flam men out there offering a short cut, courtesy of the sweet use of force. Make those capitalists cough up! Make those racists pay! Make those sexist bosses pay women equal pay for equal work! Make those bigoted cake makers shape up!

But politics is violence, and government is force. If you want to wive and thrive, you need to get clear of the violence of politics and the brute force of government.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Karl Polanyi: Critique of "The Great Transformation"

Karl Polanyi wrote The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time in the Second World War while a refugee from fascist Europe in Britain and the US. It is a ringing critique of the market economy.

We analyzed Polanyi's argument, chapter by chapter, starting wth "Capitalism as a Utopian Movement." But now it's time to critique the book.

The Great Transformation really amounts to a recapitulation of the moderate leftist argument made more argumentatively by Marx and his epigones.

Here is what Polanyi argues.

Back at the beginning of the agricultural revolution and its enclosures that started in around the 16th century, country folk started to get thrown off the land. Landowners found it more profitable to enclose the open fields of the medieval manor and often to raise sheep instead of crops. They needed less labor.

In the late 16th century in Britain the Tudors responded with legislation, the Poor Laws, that recognized the responsibility to take care of those thrown off the land. The Poor Law waxed and waned for the next 200 years, culminating in the Speenhamland Law of 1795 that created a right to existence -- and also collapsed the wages offered by employers, because the government would make up the difference.

But during the later 18th century a new utopian ideology grew up, that believed in the idea of the "self-regulating market." All the Poor Law stuff was rubbish to these people, and when they came to power in the Great Reform of 1832 they more or less abolished the Poor Law and forced workers to work in the labor market or die.

This capitalist ideology was founded on two ideas: first the idea that markets were self-regulating and didn't need the state to sort things out; second that labor, land, and money should be treated like commodities, bought and sold in the market.

But labor and land and even money, argued Polanyi, are not mere commodities; laborers are men, and land is nature, the source of life. And a market in money creates horrible panics and crashes. This ideology was based on the "commodity fiction" that labor, land, and money could or should be treated like goods offered for sale in the market.

The effect of the utopian economic liberalism on the workers and the farmers was so extreme that a counter movement arose to fight the utopian dreams of the economic liberals. Polanyi calls the clash of ideologies the "double movement." The opposing movement of "self-protection" was not organized or ideological. It just wanted social protections for the land-owners and the workers against the mechanical workings of the market and its sudden and periodic descents into economic crisis and unemployment.

The two opposing sides of the "double movement" were unable to compose their differences and so the world crashed into economic oblivion in the inevitable disaster of the Great Depression in 1929-33. Unfortunately the result of this was fascism, as people in their desperation chose strong charismatic leadership over either of the two sides of the "double movement."

So now what do we do, at the time that Polanyi was writing in the middle of World War II? What we needed to do was "planning and control," based on the idea of removing labor, land, and money from the market, and recognizing that you cannot make a "commodity fiction" out of things that are not really commodities in the first place.

OK, now let's take Polanyi's argument apart.

In the first place, the agricultural revolution wasn't the only thing going on in the 16th century in England. The other thing was the effort of the Tudor monarchs to build up the state and disarm the nobles. They demolished the castles and the private armies of the great lords, the colorful chaps that appear in Shakespeare's Wars of the Roses plays. This makes sense out of Marx's famous comment about "A mass of free proletarians was hurled on the labour market by the breaking-up of the bands of feudal retainers[.]" Of course it was. The nobles, stripped of their private armies, had no use for marginal retainers that could no longer be used as soldiers in the noble's feudal host. They would compete now in the capital city on the basis of their income, and their ability to afford extravagant display and to marshal political rather than military support as of old. In other words, the nobles needed cash, not men to demonstrate their strength and power. In this situation, the poor naturally became the charge of the folks that provoked their misery, the central government that was smashing up the old feudal order in its power project of centralization and nation-building. Needless to say, the government did the job very badly.

Now let's talk about the self-regulating market and the commodity fictions of labor, land, and money. First of all, let's concede the important thing. The market is not "self-regulating" like a steam engine with a governor. The market makes mistakes every day. John Kenneth Galbraith famously said that the stock market had predicted twelve of the last eight recessions.

I think it is incorrect to think of the market as self-regulating; on that I agree with Polanyi. The best way to think about it is to say that the markets (and businesses and consumers) learn from their mistakes. The market is not a machine; it is a daily learning process. As Kevin Williamson writes in The End is Near. Markets learn; governments don't.

It is also true that the idea of markets in labor, land, and money is a fantastical idea. It is indeed a "commodity fiction" to think of a market in labor, and every laborer's work time bought and sold as a stock or a bond. Who came up with that idea?

The answer is: everybody and nobody.

Let us get a clue from Eric Hoffer, the longshoreman philosopher. He writes that there are two options in deciding how the work of mankind gets to be done. Either the boss issues the orders, or the workers decide what to do on their own.

But hey! How in the world can an individual worker know what to do? Well, he can know if he pays attention to prices. Suppose there is a fracking boom going on in North Dakota. Guess what! The price of labor in North Dakota goes up into the stratosphere. So ordinary truck drivers get the idea that it would be a good idea to move to get a job in North Dakota. Suppose you are a steelworker represented by a labor union. Things aren't going too well for the steel company and it wants to cut wages. But the union bellows about "givebacks" and keeps your wages up until one day the steel company goes broke and you are out of a job. What do you think about "givebacks" now?

So the truth is that the "commodity fiction" of a market in labor is actually a brilliant idea that enables the world to work without a boss. How cool is that? The only thing it demands is that everyone submit to the hegemony of the market. For a lot of people, maybe for most people, that is a bridge too far. It's great to ride the wave of progress, but quite another thing to swallow your pride and take your losses when the market turns against you.

For Polanyi the story of the century between 1840 and 1940 is the story of the "double movement" between the movement towards markets and the self-protection movement against them. The disaster of 1929 he lays at the impossibility of a self-regulating market. The only solution, he writes, is to take the humans and nature out of the market and substitute "planning and control." Which means, of course the rule of people like Polanyi.

In your dreams, Karl.

We should not be too hard on Karl Polanyi. He was writing before the world recovered after World War II. Before the German Wirtschaftwunder. Before the Reagan Revolution. Before the wonders of electronics and computers and smartphones and Google Search, and kids in a village in Ethiopia learning English and how to hack the camera on a tablet without an adult to show them how. Before the curtain was drawn back on the unspeakable cruelties of the Stalinist Soviet Union and the Maoist Great Leap Forward. Before China decided to embrace the market economy and India too.

Polanyi's panacea of "planning" died not later than the "stagflation" of the late 1970s. Planning by political and intellectual elites does not work. It does not work because government does not learn. Not until it is way too late.

The bottom line is that before 1800, according to researchers like Gregory Clark in A Farewell to Alms, England experienced "downward mobility" as the poor had fewer surviving children and the younger children of the upper class moved in on the lower classes. After 1800 began the revolution in expectations we call "upward mobility" where parents across all classes expect their children to live better than they did. A lot better: per-capita income in the "West" is now 30 times the level of 1800. Deirdre McCloskey calls it The Great Enrichment, and writes that there has never been anything like it, ever.

In McCloskey's telling, and in George Gilder's, the reason for the Great Enrichment has not been capitalism, thought of as the patient accumulation of capital. It has been surprises, like the textile revolution, the steam revolution, the railroad revolution, the electrical revolution, the automobile revolution, the electronic revolution, the computer revolution, the communications revolution, the information revolution. And the fact that the unhampered market allowed these surprises, these revolutions, to elbow the old ways aside before they could get their political representatives to saddle up and protect them.

There is no doubt that the industrial or market revolution of 1800 was a cruel shock that changed the world and caused a lot of suffering. It forced everyone to work according to the dictates of the market or starve, as Polanyi argues.

We humans have to choose. Do we want to submit to the dictates of the market, the collective boss of all the producers and all the consumers, or to the individual human boss? Do we see the modern world as the Great Enrichment or the Great Transformation?

And the truth is that under the hegemony of the market we have lots of choices. We can go work for the government and get a lifetime job. The only problem seems to be that government workers are all miserable: talk to a public school teacher. We can go work for a big corporation and get a good salary and benefits. The only problem is that when the corporation gets old and sluggish it responds with layoffs. And that probably means you if you have been there for 20 years and have received regular step salary increases every year. Or we can work for a startup, or as an independent contractor. It's a lot more risky, day to day, but it keeps you awake and focused on upon the donut -- what am I worth in the labor market and what can I do about it -- and not upon the hole. When you are in the market you detect its smallest changes, and so you get to respond first. You have already responded while the corporate types and the government types are sitting in their cubicles absolutely clueless about what is coming down the road, whether it's a gentle evening breeze or a killer tornado.